“Move in with me.”
Watching Olivia carefully for her reaction, Rafael was completely baffled when she put a hand over her mouth and turned to quickly walk into the living room and sit on the couch. He thought he had seen tears in her eyes, too. That was not exactly the reaction he’d been anticipating. Turning the stove off, he quickly moved to sit beside his girlfriend on the couch. She was holding a pillow tightly to her chest and had tears running down her face.
“Livia, mi amor, what’s wrong?” he asked, immediately reaching for her and pulling her into his arms.
“I’m late,” Olivia whispered.
Rafael’s brain immediately jumped to one scenario, but then tried to think of other things she could be referring to. “What do you mean?” he settled on.
“I think I might be pregnant, Rafael! What the hell do you think I mean?!” Olivia said tearfully.
“You think or you know?”
“Does it matter?! We haven’t even talked about marriage or kids or anything beyond maybe we should consider picking a place and staying there because we haven’t been apart since you came over to take care of me when I had the flu, and that was like a month ago!.”
“Quiero estar contigo por el resto de mi vida, Olivia Benson,” Rafael whispered, lifting his eyes to hers when he heard her breath catch. “I know we haven’t been together that long or even known each other that long in general, but…”
Olivia cut him off by hugging him tightly. “También quiero eso.”
“You do?” Rafael asked, pulling back so he could see her eyes.
Olivia nodded tearfully, furiously wiping at the tears running down her cheeks. “Eres mi alma gemela, Rafael Barba.”
Rafael reached over and cupped her face in his hands, wiping at her tears with his thumbs. “Mi alma gemela,” he said softly, giving her that half-smile that never failed to make her stomach do flip-flops.
“What are we going to do, Rafa?”
“Well, regardless of whether or not you are actually pregnant, I want us to move in together. I want to marry you. If you are pregnant, I want to keep the baby, raise it with you. Maybe have more kids someday?”
“I didn’t think you’d want kids…considering…”
“Considering what my father did to me and my mother?” Rafael finished, lifting his hands from her face to take hers and lace their fingers together.
Olivia nodded. “I’m sorry.”
Rafael shook his head. “Don’t be. It’s a fair question. To be honest, if you had asked me a few months ago, I probably would have said no.”
“I met you. More specifically, once I realized that you accepted me, Rafael Barba, I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you,” Rafael answered, giving her another half-smile.
“Where would we live?”
“My original thought was one of our current places for the time being, and then maybe finding another place down the line when we both officially work for Manhattan SVU.”
Olivia smiled a little. “That confident, huh?”
“With you by my side? Yes.”
“We will be together in Manhattan. But I’m not concerned about our work right now.”
Olivia raised an eyebrow at him, making him chuckle.
“Okay, I’m concerned about your work, but I’ve felt that way since that night we first kissed. Maybe even before that. But especially now. Because I love you. If you are pregnant, I’ll probably worry more, honestly.”
This time it was Olivia’s turn to laugh. She leaned forward and brushed her lips with Rafael’s. “I love you, too.”
“I have a confession of my own," Rafael said as he reluctantly pulled back.
Rafael nodded, releasing her hands to stand and walk over to his briefcase. When he returned, he was holding a small velvet box. Olivia’s eyes widened.
“My abuelita gave this to me after brunch last week. My abuelito proposed to her with it after just one month together. They’ve been married nearly sixty years. He gave her a new ring for their fiftieth anniversary and they both said they wanted me to have this one. Abuelita said she knew after your first meeting that you were the one for me.”
“God, Rafa, you’re going to make me cry again.”
“Quiero por simpre contigo, Livia,” Rafael continued, opening the box so she could see the ring.
Olivia brushed the new tears away as she looked at the family heirloom that Rafael wanted her to have. “It’s beautiful.”
“Marry me?” Rafael asked. “And no, I’m not asking you now just because we might be having a baby together. I was planning on convincing you to move in with me and then once you had said yes to that, finding a way to propose this weekend.”
“Yes, I’ll marry you.”
Rafael grinned at her before taking the ring from the box and sliding it onto her finger. Olivia cupped his face in her hands and pulled him toward her for a kiss, smiling against his lips. After a few more kisses, they pulled back and rested their foreheads together.
“Livia,” Rafael said softly.
“We still need to find out if you are actually pregnant or not.”
Olivia sighed. “I know.”
“Did you buy a test?”
“It’s in my bag.”
Rafael gave her another kiss before standing and holding out his hand to her. “Come on. I’ll stay with you while we wait for the results.”
Olivia took a deep breath and then put her hand in his, letting him pull her up off of the couch.
After setting the timer on her phone, Olivia turned and wrapped her arms around Rafael’s waist, burying her face in his shoulder as he held her tightly. She felt him press a kiss to her temple and smiled a little at the gesture. They were both quiet, simply holding each other while they waited for the results that could change their lives forever.
“I didn’t think I would ever be a mom,” Olivia confessed softly.
“Combination of my own mother and my career choice. I was beginning to think motherhood just wasn’t in the cards for me.”
“Do you want to have the baby?”
“As long as you’re by my side, absolutely.”
“I’ll never leave you.”
Olivia lifted her head to brush her lips with his, letting herself fall into the kiss as they waited for the timer to go off.
A few minutes later, as her phone indicated time was up, Olivia reluctantly pulled back from Rafael and turned it off before picking up the pregnancy test. After reading the results, she turned to Rafael with tears in her eyes.
“I’m pregnant,” she said, showing him the test. “Baby Barba number one.”
Rafael looked between the test and his fiancée as his brain tried to comprehend her words.
“What did you say?” he asked a few moments later.
Olivia suddenly felt very unsure. “Baby Barba number one?” she repeated, this time with a question in her voice.
“You want more than one?”
Olivia shrugged. “With you? I could see myself having another one. Maybe give me a couple of years, though.”
Rafael chuckled as he pulled her back into his arms. “I love you.”
“I love you, too. I need to make a doctor’s appointment…will you come with me?”
“Of course. Whatever you need.”
“So…who do we tell first?”
After getting confirmation from the doctor that her at-home pregnancy test was accurate, Olivia wanted to know how far along she was.
“Six weeks,” the doctor answered. “I want to see you again in about two weeks, and then once a month after that. Here is a list of some pre-natal vitamins that I highly recommend you start taking. If you have any concerns at all, please don’t hesitate to call the office.”
Olivia nodded. “Thank you.”
“I’ll give you two a few minutes, but you’re free to leave. You can stop at the front desk on the way out and make those appointments.”
Olivia nodded again. Once the doctor had left the room, she turned to look up at Rafael.
“Your mom is going to freak out.”
“I think that’s an understatement,” Rafael told her with a chuckle. “Once she gets over the shock, I guarantee she’ll start crying.”
“What about your grandparents?”
“Abuelita will cry happy tears right away. Abuelito will probably give us both a big hug and tell us not to worry about anything; he’ll take care of whatever we need. Even though it should be the other way around.”
Olivia laughed as she slid off of the exam table. “Explains where you get it from.”
Rafael smiled at her, leaning in to give her a quick kiss. “Do you want to tell them right away or wait?”
“There’s a select few people I’d like to tell right away. Anyone else can wait.”
“Fin and Cragen?” Rafael guessed.
“And Munch,” Olivia added, and then groaned. “Which means Elliott is going to find out.”
“I can handle Stabler. Don’t worry about him.”
Olivia narrowed her eyes at her fiancé. “I heard what you said to him last time. Really, Rafa? ‘We don’t waltz, we salsa’?”
Rafael laughed. “I told you-my mouth gets ahead of my brain sometimes.”
“Somehow I doubt that was the case,” Olivia replied, trying to hide her laughter. “Munch couldn’t stop talking about your conversation with Elliott for days.”
Rafael smirked at her. “I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true.”
“Except for the fact that I know you Cubans absolutely can waltz in addition to salsa.”
“He doesn’t need to know that. It’s probably too complicated a concept for him anyway.”
Olivia smacked him playfully on the arm. “Rafael!”
Rafael laughed again before taking her hand and lacing their fingers together before leading her out the door. “Come on, mi amor, we have appointments to make.”
Olivia smiled and nodded, falling into step beside him as had become their habit.
“Rafi, what was so important that all three of us needed to be here?” Lucia asked as she joined her parents, her son, and Olivia in the living room of her home the next night.
“Liv and I have some news,” Rafael began, reaching for Olivia’s hand. “We’re getting married…and Liv is pregnant.”
Olivia watched as Catalina, Alberto, and Lucia exchanged shocked looks before turning back to her and Rafael. Alberto was the first to respond.
“Congratulations,” he said with a grin as he hugged them both. “If you need anything, just let me know. I’ll make it happen. Bienvenida a mi familia, Livy, oficialmente.”
“Gracias,” Olivia managed before the tears began to fall.
“Livia, what’s wrong?” Rafael asked, wrapping his arm around her shoulders.
Olivia fanned a hand in front of her face in attempt to stop the tears. “Happy tears.”
“I’m going to have a bisnieto,” Catalina said happily as she took her turn hugging them. “Estoy tan feliz.”
“Mama, Livy needs to be able to breathe for the Rafi to be able to marry her and for mi nieto to continue growing,” Lucia told her.
“When are you two getting married?” Alberto asked.
Rafael looked over at Olivia. They hadn’t discussed it yet, so he wasn’t sure what to say.
“When we decide on a date, you’ll be the first to know,” Olivia answered with a smile. “We’ve been focused on looking at places to live and going through our things while we waited for the doctor’s appointment.”
“Then, how about we feed you for now?” Catalina suggested. “You are staying for dinner?”
“Of course,” Rafael answered. “I was going to make arroz con pollo for Liv last night, but we got home later than anticipated.”
“Is that what you’d like?” Lucia asked, directing her question at her future daughter-in-law.
Olivia nodded. “Baby already has strong opinions. I’ve been craving arroz con pollo for days.”
“Arroz con pollo it is,” Catalina decided with a smile.
A few days later, Brooklyn SVU caught a case that matched the MO of a case Olivia and Fin both remembered from just a few days before their temporary transfers. Lieutenant Peters sent Olivia, Fin, and Rafael over to Manhattan SVU to get more details and talk to their ADA about their case.
“I’m going to go talk to Cragen,” Olivia said to Rafael, running a hand down his arm as she spoke.
Rafael nodded at her. He gave her hand a quick squeeze before taking out his phone to double-check the time ADA Novak had agreed to meet with him. After confirming the time, he slid the phone back into his pocket and looked up to once again meet the angry blue eyes of Elliott Stabler.
“What can I do for you this time, detective?” he asked with a sigh.
“Fin just said Olivia is pregnant. Is that true?!”
Before Rafael could say anything else, Elliott began his next question. He was so furious he could punch someone, specifically the man in front of him. How could the guy be so irresponsible with his Olivia. “How the hell could you let that happen?!”
Rafael resisted the urge to roll his eyes as he sighed and leveled Stabler with his best ‘really?’ look. When the man still refused to go away, he decided to fall back on what had worked in the past. He held up his right hand, beginning to count, the same way he’d done just a few weeks prior. “One-Olivia is in relationship with me. She agreed to marry me. Not you. Me. You have no say in hers and my relationship. Two-Like I just said, she agreed to marry me. You really think I’m going to leave her? She’s the love of my life. We’re happy together and about the baby. And, finally, three, which seems to be the maximum number of points you can comprehend at one time, you have kids of your own. I’m fairly certain you have an idea about how kids happen by now.”
When Elliott simply stood there staring at him with his mouth open, Rafael gave into the urge to roll his eyes. Then he stood and looked over at Fin and Munch, who were fastidiously studying the ceiling lights. Both of their shoulders were shaking in silent laughter, giving them away.
“What’s going on out here?” Olivia asked as she returned, walking over to Rafael’s side.
“Nadade lo que deba preocuparse,” Rafael replied, pressing a kiss to her temple.
This action only seemed to enrage Elliott. “Why can’t you just stick to English?” he demanded.
“I’ll remind you, I’m Cuban. I’m proud of my heritage. That includes my ability to speak both English and Spanish whenever I want to,” Rafael began, stopping when Olivia placed a hand on his chest.
“Elliott, you need to back off,” Olivia said angrily. “This is the second time you’ve been rude to Rafael. I don’t care if you approve of him or not. I love him, I’m going to marry him, and we’re having a child together. My future is with him. Other people are allowed to have lives, too. Not just you. We’re here to discuss a case, not my personal life. As for Rafael speaking Spanish, I can understand every word he says. It’s no one’s problem but yours that you can’t. And the baby growing inside of me is half Cuban. He or she is part of Rafael and part of me. I finally have the family I never let myself dream I could have. Oh, and by the way, I told Cragen that if you’re still here when I transfer back from Brooklyn, I want Fin or Munch to be my partner. And he agreed.”
Seeing the tears that had formed in Olivia’s eyes as she finished speaking, Rafael slipped his arm around her waist and led her into the nearby break room.
Once Rafael had shut the door and wrapped his arms around her, Olivia buried her face in his shoulder as she let the tears fall. She felt him bring a hand up to the back of her head and press a kiss to her temple. They were both silent until Rafael’s phone rang and he saw it was Casey calling.
“Barba,” Rafael answered, placing the call on speaker.
“Rafael, it’s Casey. Can you meet me at my office instead of the precinct? ADA Michaels from Bronx SVU is being brought in as well. They had a case from a couple of weeks after Manhattan’s, but before yours, and I believe they’re all connected. Bring someone from Manhattan and Brooklyn SVU with you, too.”
“Fin and Liv are with me, they worked the case in Manhattan before they transferred to Brooklyn to help out.”
“I need someone that’s currently still with Manhattan.”
“I’ll bring Munch. Who else is going to be there from the Bronx?”
“Detective Bailey. The only boroughs missing are Queens and Staten Island, and I half expect calls from them by the end of the day.”
“I can reach out to them and see if they’ve had any recent cases that match,” Olivia volunteered.
“Perfect. Update me when you get here.”
After hanging up with Casey, Rafael took Olivia’s hand in his and laced their fingers together.
“You okay?” he asked softly.
Olivia nodded. “I am now. Let’s get Fin and Munch so we can get going. Elliott can stay here on time out.”
Rafael chuckled and gave her a quick kiss before leading her out of the room.
“Fin, Munch, let’s go,” Olivia said as she and Rafael approached, never letting go of his hand despite the daggers she was sure Elliott was sending their way.
“Where are we going?” Munch asked as he stood.
“I’ll go with you,” Elliott volunteered.
“No. You’re staying here.”
“You’re not the commanding officer.”
“Elliott, my office,” Cragen said, sending an apologetic look Olivia’s way.
After sending one more glare Rafael’s way, Elliott turned and walked toward his commanding officer.
“So, what did Queens and Staten Island say?” Casey asked once Fin, Munch, Olivia, and Rafael had taken seats in her office.
“Both had similar cases,” Olivia answered. “They’re sending over detectives and their respective ADAs as we speak.”
“That’s a lot of lawyers in the same room,” Fin joked.
“Amaro is on his way, too,” Olivia told him. “Apparently he has some new information.”
“Then why don’t we move this into one of the conference rooms,” Casey suggested.
“This whole thing is a mess,” Casey muttered, looking through her notes and trying to make sense of everything.
“That’s an understatement,” Rafael replied from beside her before turning to look at what Olivia was writing on one of the dry erase boards that had been brought in. When various people started calling things out to her, she turned to look at him. He turned to look at Casey, eyeing the large law book she’d brought in with her. “Mind if I borrow this for a second?”
“Go ahead,” she told him.
Rafael nodded his thanks as he grabbed the book, standing and then dropping the book on the table with a loud bang that made everyone stop and look at him.
“That’s better,” he said with a nod. “Now, let’s start with Manhattan, since they caught the first case. Munch, Fin, what information did Manhattan get about this guy?”
Olivia looked up to see her fiancé leaning the table near the chair she was sitting in and looking at her with concern. She smiled at him and laid a hand on his leg. “A little tired. And hungry. Baby will probably protest if we aren’t fed soon.”
Rafael chuckled. “Can’t have that. Let’s go, then. What is baby hungry for tonight?”
“Pizza. There’s an Italian restaurant close to here that has amazing pizza. We could get take-out and then head home?”
“You two headin’ out?” Fin asked as he watched Olivia stand and take Rafael’s hand, pulling him to his feet.
“Liv needs to rest,” Rafael answered. “We’ll be back tomorrow.”
Fin nodded. “Have a good night.”
“Bye, everyone,” Olivia said before letting Rafael lead her out of the room.
“Those two together?” the detective from Staten Island asked.
The detective from Queens rolled her eyes at him. “No, Carisi, they walked out hand-in-hand because they’re just friends,” she replied. “Sometimes I wonder about ya’ll up here.”
“Like you’re one to talk, Rollins,” Carisi retorted. “Some of the TV show choices you make have me wondering about you.”
Rollins threw a pen at him. “Says the one that watches them with me!”
“Somethin’ you two wanna tell us?” Fin asked.
“No,” both detectives replied in unison.
“Yeah, that’s what Liv and Barba said at first, too.”
After dinner and a quick shower, Olivia crawled into bed next to Rafael and laid her head on his shoulder, his arm curling around her waist automatically and hers lying over his stomach. She smiled when she felt him press a kiss to her forehead.
“Do you want a big wedding?” she asked quietly.
“Not really, no. Maybe just a few close friends and family. Do you?”
“No. I mean, I would have agreed to one if that’s what you wanted, but it’s not something I ever wanted for myself. I like the idea of a small ceremony with family and close friends.”
“Soon. Before I really start to show. I want us to be married before the baby is born.”
“I’ll call Abuelito tomorrow. He knows people all around town. You know he’ll be more than happy to help.”
Olivia nodded, snuggling closer and closing her eyes. “Love you,” she said sleepily.
Rafael chuckled, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. “Love you, too.”
The next afternoon, as she looked up at a house Rafael had taken her to see, Olivia felt tears prick her eyes.
“Rafa,” Olivia said tearfully. “This is our house.”
“You haven’t even seen the inside yet, mi amor,” Rafael said with a laugh, leaning close to press a kiss to her temple.
“I’m sure it’s even more perfect.”
“Let’s go in, then.”
“We aren’t meeting a realtor?”
Rafael shook his head. “No.”
“Rafael. What aren’t you telling me?”
Rafael sighed, taking both of her hands in his. “I already own this house.”
“I’m sorry, what? Why the hell do you live in an apartment in Brooklyn then?”
“I inherited it just a few months ago, when my great-uncle Juan died. His daughter didn’t want the house, so as the oldest grandchild, it went to me. I was originally planning on selling it to one of my cousins, but then when we didn’t love any of the houses we had been looking at, I looked at this one again and thought it would be perfect for us.”
“Does it need any repairs?”
“No. There were a few minor things that needed repairing, but that was done last month. I just hadn’t gotten around to asking any of my cousins about it or putting it on the market.”
Olivia nodded. “Show me the house, Rafa.”
Rafael smiled, leaning in to give her a quick kiss. “Happy to, mi amor.”