While Olivia was on the witness stand, Rafael watched Purcell especially closely, ready to object at any moment should he feel the other man’s questioning get out of line. It was common knowledge that he and Olivia were married and they had filed the necessary paperwork with their bosses. 1PP and the DA’s office always watched them closely, but they were just as careful to not create any conflict of interest. They stayed in their positions because they were passionate about what they did and they made a good team.
Manhattan SVU had become the best department in the city. Captain Donald Cragen was still commanding officer, but he had chosen Olivia as his number two and was encouraging her to take the sergeant’s exam. They had only told a select few people, but Olivia was pregnant again, which had made this case hit especially close to home for both of them. Added to that was the fact that Olivia herself was the product of rape and that wasn’t something she was comfortable admitting to even around their friends, let alone in a courtroom full of mostly strangers.
“Detective Barba , is it?” Purcell practically sneered.
Although he wanted to object, Rafael held his tongue. His palms were flat on the table in front of him, ready to push himself up at a moment’s notice.
“That’s correct,” Olivia replied, and he knew she was purposely keeping her facial expression neutral.
Purcell eyed her critically. “You wouldn’t happen to be related to Mr . Barba, would you?”
“Objection!” Rafael snapped. “Relevance?”
Judge Barth nodded at him. “Sustained. Jury will disregard.”
After a few more questions, Purcell began to ask about rape victims who end up pregnant with their rapist’s baby keeping the child.
“It happens sometimes,” Olivia answered.
“Why?” Purcell pushed.
“Because it’s what they feel is right.”
“That doesn’t answer my question. I’ll ask again. Why do so-called rape victims decide to keep their supposed rapist’s child?”
“Because it’s what they feel is right for them,” Olivia repeated.
Purcell was starting to look angry. “Once again, detective , that’s not answering the question.”
“Objection!” Rafael said, pushing himself to his feet. “Badgering.”
Judge Barth nodded again. “Sustained. Mr. Purcell, Detective Barba answered your question the first time.”
Taking a deep breath, Rafael sat back down, but kept his eyes on Purcell. He wanted to stop the trial and get Olivia off of that witness stand, but he knew that wouldn’t help the victim or Olivia.
After a few more questions from Purcell, Olivia was allowed to step down from the witness stand and returned to the gallery. Next up was Nick, followed by Fin, Amanda, and finally Avery herself. Disregarding several warnings from Barth about using Avery’s first name, Purcell continued to do it and it was clearly upsetting her. After letting it go a couple of more times, Rafael decided enough was enough.
“Objection!” he said, once again standing. “Badgering.”
Barth looked at him for a moment before she nodded. “Sustained. Mr. Purcell, you will refer to the witness as Ms. Jordan or I will have to disallow you to continue representing yourself in this matter. Are we clear?”
Purcell seemed annoyed, but nodded and came up with some fake apology about how he worked with Ms. Jordan and so calling her Avery was simply second-nature.
After Rafael’s carefully-crafted closing argument, the judge sent the jury off to deliberate. It took them two days to come back with a verdict.
“On the count of stalking in the first degree, we, the jury, find the defendant, Richard Purcell, guilty. On the count of rape in the first degree, we, the jury, find the defendant, Richard Purcell, guilty.”
After hearing the jury’s verdicts, Rafael turned to look at his wife, letting his schooled expression of indifference slip. He hadn’t been sure they would get the rape conviction. Meeting her eyes, he saw her almost imperceptible nod.
Once everyone had been dismissed, Olivia waited in the gallery for Rafael. It was spaghetti night and their children were expecting them home. Ignoring Purcell’s glare as he was led out of the side door, Rafael curled an arm around Olivia’s waist and led her out the doors.
“Do you need to stop at your office?” she asked.
Rafael thought for a moment. “Yes. Do you mind?”
Olivia shook her head. “Of course not.”
While Rafael looked through the files on his desk and decided which ones he wanted to put in his briefcase, Olivia smiled as she noticed a picture that still sat on the corner of his desk, even all these years later. He had only transferred to Manhattan a couple of years before, but they had actually met about eight years ago.
She and Fin had temporarily transferred to Brooklyn SVU to help with a staffing shortage and she had met her often-times infuriating ADA husband there. They both had strong personalities, so they had immediately butted heads, but they would both later admit to finding the other attractive from the moment they met. The picture in her hand had been taken by Fin on one of the days when they had gotten into a particularly heated argument about a case. There was a case file open in front of them and they were both pointing at different things while they stared each other down.
“What’s that smile for?” Rafael asked with a tilt of his head.
“Just thinking about the day this was taken,” Olivia replied, showing him the picture she’d picked up.
Rafael smiled as he took the frame from her. “You mean when I was muttering about the case in Spanish and you replied, in Spanish, that I needed to be patient and learn to trust my team?”
“That would be the one. You kissed me for the first time later that night.”
Rafael set the frame back down on his desk and then leaned over to brush his lips with hers, his hand lingering on her still mostly flat stomach for a moment. “The rest is history, Mrs. Barba .”
“That’s Detective Barba, thank you,” Olivia corrected with a laugh.
“Soon to be Sergeant Barba.”
Olivia rolled her eyes at him. “I have to pass the exam first.”
Rafael raised an eyebrow at her. “You act as if you aren’t going to pass it with flying colors.”
“Three children with a fourth on the way doesn’t tend to make for a lot of study time.”
“Marina is seven and as fiercely independent as her mother. Luke is four and he follows me around like a shadow, and Noah is two now and getting more independent each day. You know he’s content to just snuggle with you on the couch and watch a movie.”
“But they still need us.”
“Yes, but they can all tell us what they need. For the most part, anyway. You said you wanted to take the exam before the new baby is born. My mom and Javier are taking the kids to the zoo on Saturday, so you can relax in our bed and study while I get some work done.”
“You mean the gigantic bed that you insisted we get?”
Rafael raised an eyebrow at her. “I didn’t hear any arguments from you. I also remember someone insisting our house have a real fireplace and not one of those fake...what phrase did you use? Ah, yes, fake excuse for a fireplace .”
Olivia laughed, cupping his face in her hands and pressing her lips to his. “I love you.”
Rafael pulled her close and gave her another kiss. “I love you, too.”
After walking into the house with Rafael, Olivia handed him her coat so she could lock up her gun. Once their coats were hung up and their shoes taken off, they continued into the living room, where their children were engaged in various activities while Lucia supervised. They smelled the familiar scents of spaghetti coming from the nearby kitchen, which meant Javier was cooking.
“Where’s Lucy?” Olivia asked, referring to their new nanny.
“She was feeling a little under the weather, so we sent her home to rest,” Lucia explained before looking over at her granddaughter’s homework again and pointing at the last word. “Try again, nieta .”
Marina frowned as she erased the word and attempted to write it correctly this time.
“ Abuelito tried to convince us to have ropa vieja instead of spaghetti tonight, but I told him it was Wednesday and that’s always spaghetti night,” Luke told his parents.
Rafael chuckled as he reached over and ruffled his older son’s hair. “I thought you liked ropa vieja ?” he teased.
“I do, but it’s not ropa vieja night.”
Olivia bit back a laugh at the tone of her older son’s voice. He was so much like Rafael sometimes she wondered if he inherited anything from her. Both Marina and Luke had Rafael’s green eyes, although Marina’s were a bit of a darker shade than her father’s. They had adopted Noah just a few months ago and while he didn’t bear much more than a coincidental resemblance to either of them, he followed his older siblings around like a puppy so he was already beginning to use some of the same mannerisms as Rafael. But she wouldn’t change a thing. She loved her family.
“Javi,” Rafael said when he entered the kitchen, getting his step-father’s attention.
“ Bienvenido a casa, mijo ,” Javier greeted with a smile. “The spaghetti should be done soon.”
Rafael eyed the bag on the counter. “You made garlic bread, too?”
Javier shrugged. “That was your mami’s idea.”
“Did Lucy call her?”
“No. We stopped by to bring over the garlic bread and she looked a little pale, so we sent her home and assured her we would stay with the kids. Your mother made her text her when she got home.”
Rafael chuckled. “Sounds like her.”
“How’s our Livy feeling?” Javier asked. He and Lucia were two of a select few who knew Olivia was pregnant. She wanted to wait another month, until she was officially in her second trimester, to tell anyone they didn’t consider part of their inner circle.
“She’s good. No morning sickness or dizziness today. Court was...rough, though,” Rafael replied, letting out a breath after his description of how court had gone.
“We can stick around to help with baths and bedtime,” Javier offered. “I think Marina just has some reading left. Luke practiced his numbers and colors, and Noah has been playing shapes most of the night.”
“He loves that shape-sorter toy Mami got for Marina when she was younger.”
“If I remember correctly, Luke loved it too when he was Noah’s age. I’m sure your next little one will too when she gets to be that age.”
Rafael raised an eyebrow at the older man. “ She ? Do you and Mami know something Livia and I don’t?”
“Cati had one of her feelings this morning.”
“Well, she’s been correct each time so far,” Rafael admitted with a laugh. “Including us adopting a boy. Livia will be happy.”
“What am I going to be happy about?” Olivia asked as she entered the kitchen, stopping to press a kiss to Javier’s cheek before walking over to Rafael and tucking herself into his side.
Rafael wrapped his arms around her and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “ Abuelita had one of her feelings this morning.”
“Apparently we’re having another girl.”
“Hmm,” Olivia hummed, resting her head on Rafael’s shoulder. “That would be nice.”
“Dinner should be ready in about ten minutes,” Javier told them. “You two go change.”
“Come on, Livia,” Rafael said, releasing her to grab her hand and lace their fingers together. “You heard Javi.”
Olivia rolled her eyes at him but was smiling as she followed him upstairs to their bedroom.”You just want to see me naked,” she accused.
Rafael laughed, stopping on the steps to lean down and kiss her. “I’ll admit it is an added benefit.”
“I knew it.”
“What is this?” Olivia asked with a laugh when she and Rafael entered the dining room to see a bottle of sparkling red grape juice on the table along with four wine glasses. The kids each had a grape juicebox and there was a glass of ice water at each table setting as well.
“We wanted to do something special for you, Mom,” Marina explained. “ Abuelita and Abuelito helped.”
Olivia hugged each of her children followed by her mother-in-law and father-in-law. Technically he was her step-father-in-law, but she knew he had been more of a father to Rafael in the last five years than Rafael’s biological father had ever been, and their children called him abuelito . She had never met Rafael’s biological father, he had passed away years before they met, but she knew Javier well. He was a good man who loved Rafael as one of his sons and treated Lucia extremely well.
“So, where are mis hermanos amoros tonight?” Rafael asked as everyone took a seat around the table.
Lucia rolled her eyes as Javier and Olivia chuckled.
“Marisol is working, and Ivan is out of town on business,” the older man answered.
Rafael nodded and then turned to his daughter. “What did you learn at school today, mija ?”
Marina shrugged. “ Materia .”
“ ¿Qué tipo de materias? ” Rafael asked, raising an eyebrow at her.
Marina shrugged again. “Spelling, reading. Stuff.”
“How was your math test?”
Rafael narrowed his eyes at her, which she did right back to him, causing Olvia and Lucia to exchange a knowing look. This was a usual conversation between the two of them. Math was Marina’s least favorite subject, so she avoided it as much as she could. She also sassed Rafael back as much as she could get away with, and it never failed to amuse Catalina, Lucia, and Olivia. Luke was quickly learning to do it, too, which only added to the amusement.
Olivia had found out early on in her relationship with Rafael that he had quickly learned to hold his tongue around his father, but when the man wasn’t around, he was often sarcastic and always tried to negotiate for whatever it was he wanted on any given day. She had commented that it explained why he’d become a lawyer, which had made Lucia and Catalina laugh while Rafael simply rolled his eyes at her. They had declared then and there that she was perfect for him.
After dinner, Rafael led Olivia back upstairs to their room while Lucia, Javier, and the kids cleaned up dinner.
“Rafa, we have to give the kids their baths and put them to bed,” Olivia reminded him. “It’s not time for us to go to bed yet.”
“We’re not going to bed yet, mi vida ,” Rafael countered. “ You are going to relax in our gigantic tub and then relax in our gigantic bed while I give our children their baths and put them to bed. Mami and Javier said they would stay and help as well.”
Olivia felt tears prick her eyes. Even after nearly a decade with this man, she still got emotional when he would insist on taking care of her. She could still remember the first time he had seen her sick, just a few months into their relationship. She and Fin were still with Brooklyn SVU and she had been working almost non-stop for two weeks due to a series of complicated cases. Being so run down had caused her to easily catch the flu.
After calling in sick to work for the second day in a row, Olivia managed to take some ibuprofen and drink some water before falling back into bed and covering herself up with as many blankets as she could find. Her head was pounding and she felt miserable. She was getting hungry, but had no energy and briefly wondered if she could have some chicken noodle soup delivered. Before she could reach for her phone to find out, she fell back asleep.
When she woke up an hour later, she heard noise coming from the other room. Grabbing her comforter off the bed, she wrapped it around herself and got up to see who had interrupted her sleep. Fin and Rafael were the only two people who had keys to her apartment so it had to be one of them.
“Rafa? What are you doing here?” she asked, seeing her boyfriend standing in the kitchen stirring something on the stove. “Aren’t you supposed to be at work?”
Rafael turned and walked over to her, pulling her into his arms. He was warm and comfortable, so she laid her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes. She felt him press a kiss to her forehead before he started speaking.
“I took a personal day. I can do most of my work from here. I was worried about you.”
“I have the flu, I’m not dying.”
Olivia didn’t have to open her eyes to know that Rafael was rolling his eyes at her.
“Let me take care of you, Livia. Por favor .”
Olivia sighed and nodded. It felt good to be held and whatever he was making was probably better than anything she could manage to order.
“Are you hungry, mi vida ?” he asked.
Olivia nodded again, but still didn’t open her eyes. She felt him chuckle and press another kiss to her forehead before he scooped her up in his arms and walked over to lay her on the couch, tucking a pillow under her head.
“Stay here and rest while I finish the soup,” he instructed. “Do you want me to make you anything else?”
“A sandwich? One of those toasted ones you made...however long ago it’s been now.”
“You mean medianoche ?”
“That’s the one.”
“Good thing I made them here and you still have all of the ingredients. And it was just a few days ago, by the way.”
“When’s the last time you took some medicine?”
After finishing the soup and pouring some of it into a bowl, and then slicing the medianoche , Rafael brought both over to the coffee table and gently nudged his girlfriend awake. When she sat up, he took a seat next to her on the couch and turned on the TV, keeping the volume low.
Once she had finished eating, Olivia pushed the bowl and plate aside and then lifted Rafael’s arm so she could lay her head on his shoulder. She saw him prop his feet up on the coffee table and felt him press a kiss to the top of her head as he tightened his arm around her. She closed her eyes and soon fell back asleep.
“What are you thinking about?” Rafael asked as he began to draw the bath for her.
Olivia smiled. “About when I had the flu and you made me your abuelita ’s chicken noodle soup and medianoche . I fell asleep on you.”
Rafael chuckled. “Not the first time, nor the last I’m sure.”
“I never heard any complaining from you, mi amor .”
“You never will, mi vida ,” Rafael replied, walking over to her and kissing her softly.
After giving all three children their baths and then reading them a story before tucking them into bed, Rafael padded down the hall to the bedroom he shared with Olivia. Their TV was on, but she was fast asleep in the bed. Smiling to himself, he turned off the TV and then crawled into bed beside her, pulling her close as he spooned up behind her.
“Rafa?” Olivia asked sleepily, linking her fingers with his where they lay across her stomach.
“Go back to sleep, mi alma . You and baby need your rest.”
“Mm. Love you.”
“I love you, too.”
As was the case with Trivia Night, I didn't publish this story with the intention of writing anything more than a one-shot. But then BaGi14 decided to be demanding and planted thoughts for more chapters...and my muse was like "sure! why not?". So here's part 2.
I wanted to get this up before my week gets crazy so the Spanish words/phrases I didn't know based on my limited knowledge of the language are from Google Translate. My apologies if anything is wrong.
Hope you all enjoy :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
**8 years Earlier**
“Fin, Olivia, my office,” Cragen called.
After exchanging a look, the two friends shrugged and then did as their captain instructed.
“What’s up, Cap’n?” Fin asked.
“Brooklyn SVU just lost three of their senior detectives, so they’re a bit short staffed. Their commanding officer is new to the position and 1PP wants them fully-staffed. Lieutenant Peters called and asked if I had a detective or two that I could send over for a few weeks while she gets new detectives hired and trained. I told her I would send you and Fin.”
Olivia exchanged another look with Fin before turning back to Cragen.
“You’re sure about this?” she asked him.
“I hate to lose you both, but Brooklyn SVU is a mess and they need people who know what they’re doing. They’re expecting you both later this morning.”
“I guess we better start packing, then.”
Facing the two remaining detectives of Brooklyn SVU, Rafael barely contained the urge to start muttering under his breath in Spanish. He hoped whoever 1PP was sending to replace Detectives North and Wright were better than their predecessors because this place was a mess and he wasn’t going to get anyone convicted of anything at this rate.
“I need more,” he settled on with a sigh.
The two detectives exchanged a look of confusion.
“Dios mio,” Rafael muttered with a roll of his eyes. He pointed to the interrogation rooms where the two witnesses were currently sitting. “Go talk to them again, get them to go into more detail.”
Hearing the sound of heels clicking on the floor, Rafael turned to address the owner of the shoes when he found himself uncharacteristically speechless. Said owner was a tall brunette with deep brown eyes and he thought she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.
“I assume you’re the ADA?” she said to him with a raised eyebrow. He already liked her.
“Rafael Barba,” he replied, holding out his hand.
The woman shook his hand before introducing herself and the man he just noticed stood beside her. “I’m Detective Olivia Benson and this is Detective Fin Tutuola. We’re from Manhattan SVU.”
“What are you doing here in Brooklyn then?”
“Helping you apparently,” Olivia replied before turning and walking over to a nearby desk.
While Olivia was busy getting her desk in order, Rafael turned to Fin and shook his hand.
“I’ve heard about you,” Fin said.
“Yeah. Heard you’re a pain in the ass.”
Rafael smirked. “But I have the best conviction record in the district. Surprisingly, considering what I’ve had to work with.”
“Yeah, I heard that, too. You take on cases no one else will touch. Figured you had to be a pain to do something as crazy as that.”
“Was that supposed to be some kind of backwards compliment?”
Fin shrugged. “Just an observation, counselor.
As she observed the ADA throughout the following three weeks, Olivia found herself more and more intrigued by him. He was not only handsome-tall, with dark brown hair and piercing green eyes, but also smart and ambitious with a side of witty and sarcastic. It wasn’t a combination she’d ever thought she would be attracted to, but she had to admit that she was. Very much. When she brought herself out of her thoughts, she saw those same green eyes looking at her in amusement.
“Are we interrupting your daydreams, detective?” he asked, raising an eyebrow at her.
Olivia crossed her arms and rolled her eyes. “I don’t daydream. I was simply…lost in thought.”
Rafael simply smirked at her before turning back to the case file. She wanted to pick up the file and bash him over the head with it as much as she wanted to walk up to him and kiss that stupid smirk off of his face.
Watching his friend and the ADA, Fin barely resisted the urge to roll his own eyes. The sparks coming off the two of them could light up the entire city. When they weren’t biting each other’s heads off debating the merits of taking a case to trial or whether or not they had enough evidence to even consider it, they were checking each other out. Of course, it was only when the other wasn’t looking, and neither seemed to notice anyone else in the room when the other was around. He was happy Olivia’s attention seemed to be focused on the lawyer. She’d been too focused on Elliott lately and he was worried that she had begun developing feelings for the man. He was never going to leave his wife and Olivia would only end up heartbroken when he eventually decided it was time to move on from her.
Looking over at the lieutenant, he saw her holding a hand over her mouth to hide her smile. He knew she saw the chemistry, too. She had been working with the ADA for a couple of years now, since her own transfer from Bronx SVU, and she had assured him that, underneath all the bravado, he was a good man. Before he could say anything, he heard Rafael begin to say something in Spanish. He was speaking too fast, and was too far away, for him to understand, but Olivia was right next to him and he knew she would understand every word.
Rafael pointed to the witness statement on the left side of the folder that was open on the table in front of him and Olivia. “Dios mio. No puedo procesar con tan poca evidencia. ¿Cómo se supone que debo hacer mi trabajo si nadie más aquí puede hacer el suyo correctamente? Me reiría de la sala del tribunal si presentara esto a un jurado.”
Hearing Rafael’s words, Olivia had to admit there was a bit of truth to them. He couldn’t prosecute with what they had. But that didn’t mean they couldn’t get it. She pointed to another witness statement on the right side of the folder. “Como si siempre hubieras sido perfecto en tu trabajo, Barba. Necesitas confiar en tu equipo. Comunicate con ellos. Diles lo que necesitas. No son lectores de la mente.”
While Olivia and Rafael were arguing, Fin snapped a picture and sent it to Munch. He debated whether or not to send it to Stabler, but ultimately decided against it. That man had entirely too much control over his friend. One of the blessings of being here was Olivia was allowed to step out from under his thumb and be who she was without having to think about how her actions may or may not upset her so-called partner. He knew the other man would absolutely freak out if he found out Olivia was even interested in dating a lawyer. Elliott hated all lawyers for reasons he didn’t even try to understand. He was brought out of his thoughts by the sound of a reply text from Munch.
Who’s the guy?
New ADA. Rafael Barba.
You have *no* idea.
I like him already. Tell me more.
Walking into Rafael’s office, Olivia silently cursed her current commanding officer. The older woman had asked if she would mind stopping by to talk to Rafael about getting a warrant now that they had more evidence. It was getting late, but she had been assured that he would still be here. His assistant was gone, so she opened the door herself, not bothering to knock for the simple fact that she had a feeling it would annoy him and she kind of enjoyed pushing his buttons.
“Can I…” Rafael began, looking up from the legal pad he’d been writing on. When he saw it was Olivia, he stayed where he was and raised an eyebrow at her. “Didn’t your mother teach you to knock?”
“My mother was a drunk who only cared about where her next bottle of whiskey was coming from. She didn’t teach me anything other than how to fend for myself,” Olivia countered. At Rafael’s surprised look, she waved him off. “That’s irrelevant. I’m just here to get the warrant.”
Rafael uncrossed his legs from the corner of his desk and stood, setting his pen and legal pad on his desk before walking over to Olivia and taking the file from her. “I’m impressed.”
Olivia gaped at him. “‘I’m impressed’?! That’s all you have to say?!”
Rafael snapped the folder shut and handed it out to her. “I don’t say that lightly. Take the compliment, detective.”
Olivia watched him round the desk again, sitting down and quickly typing up the warrant.
“I just spoke to Judge Houston. I know she’s still here. I’ll be right back. Stay here. Don’t touch anything.”
When he returned from the judge’s office, Rafael found Olivia looking out the window. The file had been abandoned on his desk and she looked deep in thought, unguarded. He still thought she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen and he liked that she wasn’t afraid to challenge him.
“Something on your mind?” he asked softly as he approached.
“I have a name you know,” she replied.
“So use it.”
“Why? As you keep reminding me, you’re only here temporarily.”
Olivia turned to look at him. Behind the mask of indifference, she could see pain.
“Someone hurt you badly. So you hide behind the expensive suits and big, brass ego hoping no one will see the real Rafael Barba,” she said as she stepped closer.
“What are you, a cop and a psychologist?” Rafael asked, tossing the warrant on his desk, his eyes flashing with annoyance.
“No. Just someone who knows a thing or two about being treated like an afterthought.”
Rafael stepped closer. “I don’t want you to be an afterthought in my life.”
“I don’t, either,” Olivia whispered.
As he reached a hand up to comb through her hair, Rafael searched her eyes for a sign that she wanted him to stop what he was about to do. When he didn’t see any, he cupped the back of her head with one hand and gripped her hip with the other, and then closed his eyes as he leaned forward to brush his lips with hers.
“Rafael,” Olivia whispered when he pulled back, one of her hands resting on his chest while the other rested on his shoulder.
“Olivia,” Rafael replied, using the same whispered tone.
Gripping his suspender with one hand and moving the other to the nape of his neck, Olivia leaned forward to brush their lips together again. She let out a hum of pleasure when he tilted his head and deepened the kiss. They both knew then and there that they would never tire of the other.
After a few more kisses, Olivia reluctantly stepped back. “I need to go. We need to catch this guy.”
Rafael nodded. “Dinner? Tomorrow night? On me?”
Olivia smiled at him. “I’d like that. About seven okay?”
Walking around his desk, Olivia picked up his pen and flipped to a clean page in the legal pad.
“Here’s my address. I’ll see you tomorrow, Rafael.”
“See you tomorrow, Olivia.”
The next night, Rafael pressed the button to buzz Olivia’s apartment just before seven.
“Rafael?” he heard her ask.
“Yes. Do you want me to wait for you down here?”
“No. Come on up. I’ll just be a few more minutes. Got home later than I thought.”
A few seconds later, he heard the door unlock and he pulled it open, walking through the lobby to the elevator.
When she heard the knock at the door, Olivia felt butterflies in her stomach. She wanted tonight to go well. Rafael intrigued her and she had to admit that she could see them squabbling for years to come. He seemed to have the same passion for their work that she did and she wasn’t sure she’d ever find someone who understood her passion, let alone match it. Smoothing her dress, she grabbed her purse and then made her way to the door.
“Muy hermosa,” Rafael said with a smile when he saw her. This was a smile she had only caught a glimpse of once before. He’d been talking to a colleague she later learned was a classmate of his from Harvard.
“Gracias,” Olivia replied, smiling when he chuckled at her use of Spanish.
“I’m going to have to watch what I say around you, knowing you can understand me,” he teased as she locked her door.
Olivia laughed, then turned and hooked her arm through his. “You can still mutter in Spanish. I just might mutter something back, though.”
This time it was Rafael’s turn to laugh. “I guess I’ve been warned.”
“So you have,” Olivia replied, still smiling. “So, where are we going?”
“It’s a surprise.”
Olivia narrowed her eyes at him, which only made him laugh again.
“I think you’ll like it,” he assured her.
“Is it close by?”
Rafael shook his head, indicating a car waiting nearby. “It’s just outside the city.”
As she slid into the back of the car, Olivia waited for him to get settled in the seat beside her before she brought her hand up to the nape of his neck and pulled him forward for a kiss.
“Mm,” Rafael said as they reluctantly pulled apart. “Hi.”
“Hi,” Olivia replied, smiling brightly at him.
“Eres especialmente hermosa cuando sonríes.”
“Como eres tú. Tus expresivos ojos verdes.”
Rafael leaned his head against hers. He was already falling for her and their first date had only just begun. But then he’d only had eyes for her since the moment they met.
When they pulled up to the restaurant and Rafael helped Olivia out of the car, he heard her gasp.
“Rafael,” she said, recognizing the restaurant as the new Cuban place, Por La Noche, gripping his hand tightly. “How did you get reservations here? They have a months-long waiting list.”
“Let’s just say…I know people,” he replied as he led her inside.
“Rafi!” Olivia heard the moment they stepped inside.
“Tía Maria,” he said, leaning down to press a kiss to the older woman’s cheek. “Gracias por guardarme una mesa en tan poco tiempo.”
Maria patted her nephew’s cheek before looking to his side and seeing Olivia standing there.“¿Quién es esta mujer encantadora?”
“Tía Maria, esta es Olivia. Olivia, esta es mi Tía Maria,” Rafael introduced.
“Gusto en conocerlo,” Olivia said to the older woman.
Maria turned to her nephew and playfully slapped him on the arm. “You didn’t tell me your date was beautiful and spoke Spanish!” she admonished.
“Lo siento,” Rafael replied with a laugh.
“Hm. We’ll see about that,” Maria said before beginning to walk and waiving for them to follow her.
After Maria showed them to their table, Olivia looked at Rafael curiously.
“What?” he asked with a laugh.
“Is she actually your aunt?” she asked.
“She is. My mom’s older sister. She lives in Miami, but she’s been here for a few months getting this place ready to open. She opened the original in Miami when I was a kid.”
“So who is going to be running this one when she goes back?”
“My mom’s younger sister, Antonella. Ella for short. She and my mom have always been close; they’re only about two years apart, so when Tía Maria started talking about opening up another Por La Noche, Tía Ella convinced her to do it here. She’s been helping Tía Maria in Miami for years.”
“You have a lot of family?”
Rafael chuckled. “That might be an understatement. My mom is one of five. She’s the only one that never had more than one child. I know she wanted to have more, but…”
Olivia sensed there was something about his childhood that Rafael didn’t want to talk about in public, but had inadvertently brought up. “It just wasn’t meant to be?” she finished with a smile, reaching for his hand and lacing their fingers together.
“Basically,” Rafael replied, giving her a grateful smile.
“Well, I’m glad you have connections. I’ve wanted to go here since I heard about it opening here. I went to the original in Miami a few years ago and nothing has compared since.”
At Olivia’s words, Rafael felt himself falling even more for her. He had always longed to find someone who would love him, Rafael Barba, who loved lounging around in sweatpants and a t-shirt, who loved his abuelita’s cooking, Cuban music, Broadway shows, and spending time with his family. Not ADA Rafael Barba with the expensive suits, Harvard law degree, and big, brass ego. But he’d long ago given up on that dream. Here with Olivia, though, he felt like maybe he could have everything he wanted.
“Now who’s daydreaming?” Olivia teased.
Rafael rolled his eyes at her and shook his head in amusement before indicating the now closed menu in front of her. “Find something you like?”
“I’m kind of in love with Medianoche, but ever since I had it at Por La Noche in Miami, I haven’t been able to make anything even close to it.”
Rafael winked at her, making her laugh. “I happen to know the recipe. I could make it for you sometime.”
Olivia smiled at him. “I’d like that,” she said before nodding her own head at his menu. “What did you decide on?”
“That was my second choice.”
Olivia shrugged. “I might secretly love Cuban food.”
“Most people think Italian is my favorite, but it’s just the closest restaurant to the precinct back in Manhattan. Besides, nothing compares to Por La Noche.”
Rafael smirked at her. “What if I told you I could make you anything from this menu?”
Watching Rafael and Olivia, Maria smiled. She hadn’t seen him smile or laugh this much in a long time. Plus he hadn’t let go of Olivia’s hand since she’d reached for his shortly after they sat down.
“Who are you spying on now?” Ella asked as she joined her sister.
“Rafi and his date.”
“Rafi is on a date?”
Maria smiled and nodded. “The first of many with this woman, I think.”
“Does Lucia know?”
“I don’t think so. He just called last night to ask about getting a table here.”
“Beautiful. Speaks Spanish very well. Rafi seems more relaxed around her than I’ve seen him in a while.”
When their food arrived, Olivia took her fork and plucked some of the ropa vieja off of Rafael’s plate.
“Hey!” he protested with a laugh. “You have your own food.”
Olivia smiled sweetly at him. “You need to learn to share, Rafael.”
Rafael pointed his own fork at her. “Fine. You can have half of my ropa vieja, but I get half of your medianoche.”
Olivia pretended to contemplate Rafael’s offer for a moment, then sighed dramatically. “Fine.”
Rafael simply laughed and shook his head at her as they swapped part of their dishes for the other’s. He’d never shared his entrée with anyone who wasn’t family, but with Olivia, like so many other things, it just felt right.
After dinner, Rafael convinced Olivia to try the arroz con leche.
“Oh my God, Rafael, this is delicious,” she said after her first bite. “Tell me you know how to make this, too.”
“I told you any item on the menu,” Rafael replied, taking a spoonful for himself.
“So, where did you go to college?”
Olivia raised her eyebrows at him. “Wow. Fancy.”
Rafael rolled his eyes. “I was there on a scholarship. I didn’t exactly fit in.”
“You learned to, though. It explains the suits and the ego you let most people believe is all there is to you.”
Rafael nodded his head. “Pretty much.”
Olivia took in his black suit and emerald green tie along with the perfectly coiffed hair. She wondered what the at-home version of Rafael was like and if he’d get mad if she messed up his hair. He looked dashingly handsome in his suits, and she secretly loved the suspenders, but she was fascinated by this man and wanted to know everything about him. “You don’t have to pretend with me, Rafael.”
Rafael offered her a small half-smile, which made her heart do a little flip-flop. “Good to know.”
Once Rafael had walked her back to her apartment, Olivia stopped in front of her door and turned to him. Unbuttoning his jacket, she smiled when she saw the green suspenders underneath. Running her hands up them, her smile grew when she felt Rafael’s hands on her hips. Looking up at him, she saw his eyes were dark and that was the last thought she remembered having as he leaned in to capture her lips with his.
Dios mio: My God
Dios mio. No puedo procesar con tan poca evidencia. ¿Cómo se supone que debo hacer mi trabajo si nadie más aquí puede hacer el suyo correctamente? Me reiría de la sala del tribunal si presentara esto a un jurado: I can't prosecute with such little evidence. How am I supposed to do my job if no one else here can manage to do theirs properly? I'd get laughed out of the courtroom if I presented this to a jury.
Como si siempre hubieras sido perfecto en tu trabajo, Barba. Necesitas confiar en tu equipo. Comunicate con ellos. Diles lo que necesitas. No son lectores de la mente: As if you’ve always been perfect at your job, Barba. You need to trust your team. Communicate with them. Tell them what you need. They’re not mind readers.
Muy hermosa: Very pretty
Gracias: Thank You
Eres especialmente hermosa cuando sonríes: You are especially beautiful when you smile
Como eres tú. Tus expresivos ojos verdes: As are you. Your expressive green eyes.
Por La Noche: At Night. (As I said in Trivia night, it sounds better in Spanish. And I'm not very good at coming up with names for places.)
Gracias por guardarme una mesa en tan poco tiempo: Thank you for saving a seat for me on such short notice.
Quién es esta mujer encantadora: Who is this lovely woman
esta es: This is
Gusto en conocerlo: It's nice to meet you
Lo siento: I'm sorry
Since so many of you requested, and BaGi14 badgered me with ideas for, a third chapter, here it is :)
Special thanks to thousand_miles for being my sounding board for most of this chapter, and to joyfulmariskahgt for the use of the name she came up with for Rafael's abuelito.
I'm playing around with the timeline a lot in this and bringing in another familiar character who technically wasn't introduced yet. Sandra_fanacc on Twitter requested someone write a fic for a particular scene. I included two scenes from the episode "Funny Valentine" because Sandra requested one and I got a good chuckle out of the end of the other. The way Rafa says the line plus the look on Liv's face is just priceless. The lines from the episode are basically verbatim.
Hope you all enjoy :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Four weeks after his first date with Olivia, Rafael was trying to relax with her, but he couldn’t concentrate on the movie he had let her pick. He was lying on the couch with her between his legs and her head resting on his chest, with his arms holding her tight to him. He didn’t want anyone but her. She already meant so much to him. He wanted to introduce her to his mother and grandparents. He wanted to take her out on more dates and also wanted more nights like this one-just the two of them relaxing together.
“Rafa?” Olivia asked as she paused the movie and lifted her head from where she’d been resting it on his chest. “What’s wrong?”
Rafael pressed a kiss to her temple. “Just thinking.”
Olivia met his eyes and saw the insecurity there. She was touched that he let her see his true emotions, but also troubled that he could think she wanted anyone but him. Lying back down, she wrapped her arms tightly around him as she once again rested her head on his chest.
“I don’t want anyone but you, Rafael. I want to get dressed up and go out on fancy dates with you. I want to relax like this with you. I want to grab coffee with you in the morning and go for drinks with you after work. Honestly, I don’t really care what we do, as long as we’re together.”
Rafael pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “How do you feel about meeting my mom?”
“Maybe I could join you two for brunch sometime?”
“Brunch usually includes mis abuelitos.”
Olivia shrugged. “So, I’ll meet them, too.”
Rafael tilted her head up for a kiss. “I’d like that.”
“Where do you usually go?”
“There’s a diner by my mom’s house we go to sometimes. Other times we go to her house, other times we go to my abuelitos’ house. Tomorrow’s brunch will be at my mom’s. She and my abuelita are making pastelitos and torrejas con frutas.”
Rafael kissed her again. “I love you.”
Olivia looked surprised, causing Rafael to realize what he’d said.
“Olivia…” he started, stopping when he felt Olivia press her lips to his.
“I love you, too,” she said when she pulled back. Her eyes were sparkling when she spoke again. “I guess this means we have to file disclosure paperwork.”
“I’m happy to, mi amor.”
“We’ll fill out the forms later,” Olivia decided as she once again rested her head on his chest. “I’m comfortable.”
Rafael chuckled. “What about food?”
“I don’t want to go anywhere tonight.”
“We could order in.”
“You decide. I don’t care what we get.”
Rafael pressed a kiss to the top of her head before reaching for his phone and dialing the number of a local pizza place. After placing his order, he set his phone back down and wrapped his arms tightly around his girlfriend again. He felt her press a kiss to his arm before resuming their movie.
As she walked back into Manhattan SVU’s precinct, Olivia saw Munch and Elliott working at their desks. Looking over at Rafael, she gave him a quick kiss.
“I’ll be right back,” he told him.
Rafael nodded, leaning against a vacant desk and taking out his phone, beginning to check his emails while he waited for her.
“Liv? Are you back already? Where’s Fin?” Elliott asked.
“Yes. No. Brooklyn,” Olivia answered, causing Elliott to simply blink at her as he processed the new way she answered his questions. “I’m here to talk to Cragen and then I have to go. I have plans.”
“Talk to him about what?”
“I’m sure he’ll tell you. But I need to talk to him first.”
“Olivia, is everything okay?” Cragen asked when he saw her.
“Great, actually,” Olivia answered and then handed him the paperwork.
Cragen raised his eyebrows in surprise as he read it over. “Brooklyn’s ADA?”
Olivia smiled and shrugged. “I didn’t plan on it…but…”
“This is serious, then?”
“I’m in love with him, so yes. I’d say it’s serious.”
“Does Lieutenant Peters know?”
“Rafael and I told her this morning. She said I should file the paperwork with you since I’m technically only on loan to Brooklyn.”
Cragen nodded. “I’m happy for you, Liv. I’ll get this filed.”
Olivia smiled at him. “Thank you. I need to go. Rafael and I are due at brunch in the Bronx in an hour.”
“Who are you?”
Rafael looked up and saw angry blue eyes staring him down. Trying to anyway.
“ADA Rafael Barba,” Rafael replied. “You must be Stabler.”
“What are you doing here?”
“Waiting for Liv.”
“Because she asked me to.”
Elliott scowled and narrowed his eyes at the lawyer. “Why won’t you give me more information?”
Rafael raised an eyebrow at him. “Because, contrary to what you clearly seem to believe, you don’t need to know everything that goes on in Olivia’s life. She’s a grown woman who is more than capable of making her own decisions.”
“I’m just trying to protect her.”
“She can protect herself.”
“So you think you can just waltz into Liv’s life and take up all of her time?”
Rafael barely resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Instead, he slipped his phone back into his pocket and held up his right hand, raising a finger for each point.
“One-I’m Cuban. We don’t waltz, we salsa. And I didn’t force my way into her life. Two-I’m not taking up all of her time. Who Liv spends time with is her decision. I know you have a family of your own. You should really spend your time looking after them instead of trying to control Liv’s life. Three-I know you think you have a reputation as someone who can get a confession out of anyone, but you’re wrong. You have a reputation for being violent and having a quick temper. If you hadn’t been with the NYPD for as long as you have, you wouldn’t have a job. Cragen puts up with you because he knows he’s one of the few people you’ll actually listen to. Most of the time,” he replied before concluding with “Olivia is one of the most important people in my life and I will do anything within my power to help her, to protect her if that’s what she feels she needs. Do I need to go on or did you get the point?”
Listening to Rafael tear down Elliott, Munch resisted the urge to clap. Fin hadn’t been lying when he said there were sparks between Olivia and Rafael. When he saw Olivia leave Cragen’s office, he decided to poke at Elliott a little more.
“Liv!” he called. “Are you just going to ignore me? Did you forget all about me?”
Olivia laughed as she walked over and gave him a hug. “I could never forget you, Munch.”
“Are you going to introduce me to your lawyer?”
“Sure. Give me a minute,” she said, walking over to where Elliott and Rafael were. Ignoring Elliott’s glare, she slipped her hand into Rafael’s and laced their fingers together. “Come on, Rafael, I want you to meet Munch.”
“Fin’s partner in crime?” Rafael asked, eliciting a laugh from Olivia.
“That’s the one,” she said, tugging on his hand and smiling when he followed her over to where Munch was sitting.
Rafael pressed a kiss to Olivia’s temple as she chatted with Munch, smiling when she released his hand to wrap her arms around his waist and lean into his side. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders to keep her close and joined the conversation with Munch. He liked this colleague of Olivia’s much better than Stabler.
“We need to get going if we’re going to make it to my abuelitos’ on time,” Rafael told her. “We can find a time for us to get together with Munch and chat some more.”
Olivia smiled at him, leaning over to brush her lips with his. “You’re amazing.”
“I do my best.”
Walking into his abuelitos’ home, Rafael called for them as Olivia held tightly to his hand.
“Rafi! Nieto, no me dijiste que traías una compañía tan hermosa,” Catalina said as she entered the room and walked over to greet them.
“Lo siento, abuelita,” Rafael replied with a laugh as he bent down to press a kiss to her cheek. “Where are Mami and abuelito?”
“In the kitchen. Are you going to introduce me to your compañera?”
“Abuelita, esta es mi novia, Olivia. Livia, esta es mi abuelita, Catalina.”
“Gusto en conocerlo, Catalina,” Olivia said with a smile.
“Abuelita, are you okay?” Rafael asked when he saw tears forming in his grandmother’s eyes.
Catalina nodded. “She’s beautiful and speaks Spanish.”
“Can I tell her the other thing?” Rafael asked Olivia.
“What other thing?” Catalina wondered.
“She loves Cuban food, too.”
“He took me to Por La Noche on our first date,” Olivia revealed.
“Where she stole half of my food.”
Olivia slapped his arm playfully. “You make it sound like I didn’t share mine with you.”
Catalina laughed. “Oh, Rafi. Your mami and abuelito need to meet your Olivia.”
Within a first few minutes of meeting her son’s new girlfriend, Lucia knew she was perfect for him. Now having spent nearly an hour with them, she could also see that he was smiling and laughing more than she’d seen him do in far too long. She wanted to know more about this woman.
“So, Rafi, how did you two meet?” she asked.
“She’s on loan to Brooklyn SVU from Manhattan,” Rafael answered.
“On loan?” Catalina repeated.
“Brooklyn had a staffing shortage, so another detective and I were volunteered by our captain to go help out,” Olivia explained.
“How long are you ‘on loan’ for?” Alberto wondered.
Olivia shrugged. “I’m not sure. As long as they need us, I guess.”
“So, Livy, tell us more about you,” Catalina encouraged with a smile. “Have you lived in New York all your life?”
Olivia returned her smile as she was pulled back into the conversation with Rafael’s grandmother and the rest of the family. She already knew she would love to spend many more Sundays with these people. She already felt like part of their family. When she felt Rafael put an arm around her shoulders, she reached up to take his hand, lacing their fingers together as she leaned into his side.
After bunch, Olivia reluctantly told Rafael to drop her off at her apartment. She didn’t want to leave his side, but she had no more clean clothes with her and they both had to work tomorrow.
“Why don’t you grab some more things and then come back to my place?” Rafael suggested. “I do live closer to the Brooklyn precinct.”
Olivia turned and hugged him, wrapping her arms tightly around his neck. “I was hoping you would say that.”
Rafael chuckled as he returned her hug. “Then you better hurry up. We still need to stop at the grocery store.”
Olivia pulled back and looked at him questioningly. “We do?”
“Yes. We can’t survive on take-out forever, Livia.”
Olivia laughed, leaning in to give him a quick kiss before turning and unlocking her door, pushing it open to admit both of them. “Is that your way of telling me you’re going to cook for me again tonight?”
“I could be persuaded.”
Olivia put on her best hurt expression. “You mean you wouldn’t do it just because you love me?”
Rafael laughed, shutting the door behind him and then pulling her into his arms for a kiss. “You know I would. But can you blame me for trying to bargain for more…incentive?”
Olivia grinned at him, giving him another kiss. “No, because I enjoy the incentive, too.”
A few weeks later, while they were working on a case involving a young singer and her hip-hop star boyfriend, Olivia and Rafael decided to call it a day due to Micha rescinding her claim and invited one of the new detectives, Nick Amaro, and Fin out to dinner with them. Nick agreed, but Fin declined, saying he had other plans and would catch up with them later. As they were finishing their meal, they discussed whether or not they could proceed without Micha.
“Barba, you can take this to trial without Micha. You don’t need her testimony,” Liv said.
“That’s changed. The Crawford decision, thank you, Judge Scalia, made that a heavier lift,” Rafael countered before taking a bite of his food.
“So does this. Fin says Ferrari, the sound engineer, just booked a gig in Buenos Aires. That’s the game,” Amaro added.
“Okay. We can’t just let him walk away because we know how that goes,” Olivia said, trying to stay calm as she glanced back and forth between her boyfriend and her newest friend before finally zeroing in on her boyfriend. “Look, can’t you push for a deal before they know Micha’s backing out?” –Liv
Rafael shook his head. “It’s too late. They’re all part of the same music industrial complex.”
Not about to take no for an answer, Olivia pressed him again. “Come on, Barba, you can be very persuasive when you wanna be.”
Rafael looked at her for a moment before he started chuckling and lifted his cup to take a sip of his drink in order to hide his laughter.
“They’re thinkin’ about it?” Fin asked when Rafael walked into the squad room the next night.
“Put a clock on the offer. It’s nine pm, they have 12 hours,” Rafael answered as he unbuttoned his jacket and took it off.
“Great, so what’s the deal?”
“He pleads to assault. 5 years suspended sentence, community service.”
“Hold on,” Olivia said from her seat on a nearby desk, leaning forward as she spoke. “No jail time?”
“Well, we get a felony conviction. If he does this again, he’s a two-time loser.”
Olivia did her best to contain her frustration. “If he does this again, Micha might not be alive. Look, when an offender strangles his victim, he’s ten times more likely to kill his-”
“Kill the-” Rafael repeated, beginning to talk in unison with Olivia.
“-victim,” Olivia and Rafael finished together.
Rafael looked around at the mostly annoyed faces of the squad and shrugged. “I went to a seminar. It was terrific.”
Olivia barely resisted the urge to roll her eyes at her boyfriend. She loved the man, but sometimes she swore his mouth got ahead of his brain.
Over the next several weeks, Olivia and Rafael continued to spend as much time together as they could. Nick became a good friend to both of them and Fin, and Olivia made a mental note to recommend Nick transfer to Manhattan as soon as they had an opening. Truthfully, she’d replace Elliott with him if she could, and as much as she liked Casey, she loved working with Rafael and would like for him to take over the ADA position in Manhattan. She knew it was one of his goals, too.
If she ever took over as commanding officer of SVU, she knew Nick and Rafael were two people she would do whatever it took to get on her team. Fin and Munch would stay for her she was certain. But she would fight to keep them if she needed to. The time away from Elliott had made her realize how much he was holding her back. If she had to return to Manhattan anytime soon, she was going to talk to Cragen about making Fin or Munch her partner instead.
“Do you think your mom would freeze some meals for me, too?” Olivia joked as she looked through Rafael’s freezer and noticed several bags of home-made meals. “I guess this explains where you got homemade chicken noodle soup on such short notice.”
Rafael laughed as he came up behind her and slid his arms around her waist. “I made that myself, thank you very much. It seemed to do the trick.”
“For the most part. I still feel a little queasy sometimes.”
Rafael frowned. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“I’m fine, Rafa,” Olivia assured him as she selected a meal and closed the freezer door. She actually wasn’t sure she was fine, but she didn’t want to worry him. “I’m hungry right now, so I think you should stop worrying about me and start feeding me instead.”
Rafael pressed a kiss to her temple before letting her go and taking the meal from her. “Whatever you say, mi vida.”
Rafael rolled his eyes at her and then began to heat up the meal she’d chosen.
“You know,” he said, turning to face her. “There’s a simple solution to getting my mom to make you meals to freeze.”
Olivia raised an eyebrow at him. “Oh? What might that be?”
“Move in with me.”
mis abuelitos: my grandparents
torrejas con frutas: basically, cuban french toast
no me dijiste que traías una compañía tan hermosa: you didn’t tell me you were bringing such beautiful company
lo siento: I'm sorry
mi amor: my love
mi vida: my life
For those who asked for, or badgered me for (I'm looking at you, BaGi14), chapter 4-here you go :)
Speical thanks to joyfulmariskahgt for letting me use the name she came up with for Rafael's grandfather, and to BaGi14 for the dialogue between Rafael and Elliott.
Also special thanks to my barson people on Twitter, you know who you all are. You've kept me inspired and entertained :)
Hope you all enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“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.”
Quiero estar contigo por el resto de mi vida: I want to spend the rest of my life with you
También quiero eso: I want that, too
Eres mi alma gemela: You are my soul mate
Quiero por simpre contigo: I want forever with you
Bienvenida a mi familia, Livy, oficialmente: Welcome to my family, Livy, officially
Gracias: Thank you
Estoy tan feliz: I'm so happy
Mi nieto: My grandson
Arroz con pollo: rice with chicken/chicken and rice
Nadade lo que deba preocuparse: Nothing you need to worry about
You all can thank Hasbleidy for this chapter. I've had part of it written for a while, but wasn't sure where I wanted to go with it. Then we got a Hasbleidy reaction thread to one of the daily #missingbarba posts on Twitter and the rest is history. She helped me come up with the phrase Rafael says to Olivia in the flash-forward.
This chapter is mostly Barson and Rollisi, with a mention of other squad members. In this universe, Nick didn't leave SVU after s16.
Anyway, hope you all enjoy!
**1 year later**
“That doesn’t look like your dress for the fundraiser,” Rafael commented, watching his wife rock their daughter as he leaned against the doorway of the little girl’s room.
“I wish we didn’t have to go to this,” Olivia replied, cuddling Marina close.
“Livia, she’ll be in good hands with my mom.”
Olivia sighed. “I know, but I feel like I’ve worked so many hours this week that I’ve barely seen her. Or you, for that matter. I miss working with you.”
Rafael walked into the room and leaned down to brush his lips with hers. “I do, too, cariño . Just convince your ADA to leave and I’ll apply for a transfer.”
Olivia laughed, tugging him down for another kiss. “I’ll work on it.”
Rafael looked down at their daughter and smiled. She was looking at them with her green eyes and sucking happily on her pacifier while holding onto Olivia’s finger. He ran a hand over her dark hair and leaned down to press a kiss to her forehead.
“She’s beautiful,” Olivia said with a smile.
“Just like her mother.”
Olivia rolled her eyes at him, but couldn’t stop the smile that spread over her face. Over the past nearly two years, she had learned that Rafael Barba was actually a secret romantic. The first few months living together had been an adjustment for both of them, and included plenty of bickering, but she never doubted that he loved her. She had never been more grateful for a temporary transfer. Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the doorbell.
“That’ll be Mami,” Rafael said. “I’ll go let her in. You take a few more minutes with nuestra hija .”
Olivia smiled and nodded, turning her attention back to the little girl in her arms.
“Olivia, Rafael, I’m glad you were able to make it,” Cragen said with a smile as he approached the couple.
“I had to practically pry Marina from her arms,” Rafael joked as he shook the older man’s hand after Olivia had hugged him.
“As if you were any better,” Olivia retorted.
“How’s the little one doing?” Cragen asked.
“She’s a good baby, most of the time anyway. She’s definitely Rafa’s daughter.”
Rafael rolled his eyes as Cragen chuckled.
“Sounds like you have your hands full,” he said. “And, Liv, you’ve only been back for about a month. I would hate to see my best detective burn herself out. Take a couple of days. I’ll get it approved and make sure they know it’s at my insistence as you’re doing me a huge favor by being here tonight.”
“Thank you,” Olivia told him, hugging him again. When she heard the music change, she turned her attention back to her husband. Taking his hand, she began to lead him towards the dance floor. “Dance with me, Rafa.”
“Yes, mi amor .”
“Elliott, stop glaring, please, it’s embarrassing,” Kathy pleaded as she approached, handing him a drink.
“I’m not glaring,” Elliott argued.
“That’s not what it looks like to me.”
“Can we not do this right now?”
“They’ve been together for nearly two years. It’s about time you look past your prejudices and get to know him. He clearly adores Olivia and their daughter. Isn’t that what you want for your friend?”
Elliott sighed. He knew his wife was right. Watching Olivia, he could see her laughing as Rafael spun her. He had been contemplating retiring for a while. He needed to not be around Olivia anymore. It was clear she didn’t want him around, they barely spoke anymore. He didn’t attend her wedding or her baby’s baptism, either. He hadn’t been invited. He wasn’t sure he would have gone if he was. He didn’t like the changes to Olivia’s personality since her temporary transfer to Brooklyn. Fin and Munch told him he was just upset because she wasn’t at his beck and call anymore. Shaking his head, he walked over to the bar to get a drink.
“So, Rita and Fin, huh?” Olivia said as a slow song began and she wrapped her arms around Rafael’s neck.
Rafael slid his arms around Olivia’s waist and pulled her close before looking over at their friends. Rita had her arms around Fin’s neck and Fin had his around her waist, and he was saying something to make her laugh. He smiled as he turned back to his wife.
“I guess so. I can’t say I ever would have pictured them together...but now that they are, I think they will be good for each other.”
Olivia gave him a soft kiss. “Just like us.”
“Mmm,” Rafael replied, brushing his lips with hers again. “You were a pain in my side at work sometimes, but…”
“...you wouldn’t have me any other way?”
Olivia smiled, leaning over to kiss him again. “Ditto.”
“Are you sure you want to work with me again?”
“Positive. You’re my partner, Rafa. It’s not the same without you by my side.”
“I told you-convince your ADA to leave and I’ll apply for a transfer.”
Olivia laughed. “I’ll make sure to tell Casey that the next time I see her.”
A few minutes later, Olivia and Rafael joined Rita and Fin at a nearby table. While the two detectives talked, the two lawyers ventured over to the bar to get drinks for themselves and their dates.
“So, how’s the little one?”
“She’s good. Most likely being spoiled by her abuelita as we speak.”
“Is she sleeping through the night yet?”
“How much convincing did you have to do to get Liv here tonight?”
Rafael chuckled. “I had to get Mami to babysit, which wasn’t difficult, and get Cragen to ask her to be here. Which, again, wasn’t that difficult. He had been planning on asking her anyway, knowing how reluctant she still is to leave Marina.”
“She wouldn’t let the kid’s nanny babysit?”
“She said Lynn has worked enough this week and she deserves a weekend off. Besides, Mami is always more than willing to come over and spend time with Marina. You ever think about having kids?”
Rita shook her head. “I don’t think so. I’m perfectly content to be Aunt Rita.”
“Fin has a kid.”
“I know. I’ve met him. But he has a mom.”
“I wasn’t sure I’d ever be a dad,” Rafael confessed.
“I had a feeling. But I’ve seen you with Marina, Rafael. You’re great with her.”
“She and Liv are everything to me. I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing the majority of the time...and Liv is just a natural at being a parent.”
Rita laid a hand on her friend’s arm. “Rafael, there is no doubt in my mind that that little girl knows you love her and you only want what’s best for her. I guarantee you that Liv knows that, too. You don’t have to do everything perfectly the first time around.”
Rafael rolled his eyes. “Shut up, Rita.”
Rita laughed. She could tell that he knew she was genuine with what she had said, but he just didn’t want to dwell on it and wanted to get back to his wife. “Come on, let’s get back to our dates. How long did Liv agree to be here for?”
“At least a couple of hours. We’ve been here for a half an hour and she already called Mami to check on Marina.”
“How does your mom handle that?”
“She understands. She reassures Liv and then goes back to spoiling Marina.”
“Think you two will have more kids?”
Rafael laughed as they began to walk back over to their table. “Marina is only five months.”
“But you see yourself spending the rest of your life with Olivia, don’t you?”
“So...I’ll ask again-do you think you two will have more kids?”
Rafael shrugged. “Maybe. I….wouldn’t be opposed to it. It’s something Liv and I will have to talk about.”
**10 years later**
Walking into the courtroom to meet with Rafael like his text had asked her to, Olivia was surprised to hear what Lewis Hodda’s defense attorney had done.
“Hold on, Hassler did what ? She made me look too conscientious?”
“She implied you were so desperate to get closure for Delores, you manufactured a suspect.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Olivia said, pausing for a moment before continuing. “And you let her get away with it?”
Rafael tried to remain calm as he explained the situation. “I couldn’t shoot her. She’s just doing her job; she’s good at it.”
“So you let her hang me out to dry?”
“Table that,” Rafael told her. “You’re up after lunch; let’s prep.”
Olivia was furious and wanted nothing more than to storm out of the room.“You know what, I’ve actually testified a few hundred times, so, I think I’ll be fine. I need to get back to the squad room.”
“No, you don’t. Lewis Hodda might walk if Hassler can make the jury think your emotions got in the way of your police work, which is what they’re doing right now. I need you to sit your ass down and work with me.”
Olivia looked at her husband in shock. He rarely spoke to her like that, and part of her understood they were technically at work so he was being ADA Barba rather than her Rafa, but the other part was a little hurt.
“Fine,” Olivia responded, setting her bag down heavily on the gallery bench before walking past Rafael on her way towards the witness stand. “Start working.”
Rafael slowly let out a breath. He hated being so harsh with Olivia, but they both knew Hodda was guilty and shouldn’t be able to walk. He silently vowed to make it up to her at home later.
“Livy, Mami, the more you pout, más son las ganas de besarte,” Rafael said to his wife as he followed her into his office and locked the door after court had adjourned. She’d barely spoken to him, except when necessary, since their exchange in the courtroom earlier that day, but had agreed to go back to his office with him.
“I still can’t believe you said that to me!” Olivia siad
“You were being stubborn and you know it.”
“I thought that was part of my charm?”
Rafael sighed, wrapping his arms around her waist to pull her close. “Olivia, mi amor , you know I love everything about you, even when you’re frustrating the hell out of me. You know I was just trying to make sure we did everything we could to help the victim.”
Olivia frowned, though she knew he was right. “I hate it when you use that against me.”
Rafael chuckled, cupping her face in his hands and resting his forehead against hers. “Livia, madre de mis hijos , amor de mi vida , te amo con todo mi corazón .”
“Damn it, Rafa. You know I can’t stay mad at you when you say sweet things to me, especially when you say them in Spanish! You’re lucky said children are with their grandparents tonight.”
“All five of them?”
“Yes. All five of them. I have no idea what your mom and Javi were thinking, volunteering to take all of them, but they all wanted to go together.”
“Catie and Miranda want to do whatever Marina does, and Luke and Noah just enjoy being spoiled by sus abuelos.”
“You’re outnumbered by girls,” Olivia reminded him with a laugh.
“I wouldn’t change a thing.”
“Even when I’m being a pain in the ass?”
Rafel chuckled. “Even then. I love you, Olivia Barba.”
“I love you, too, Rafael Barba. Now bésame, mi esposo .”
“ Sí, mi esposa ,” Rafael replied before leaning forward and capturing her lips with his.
Walking into Forlini’s, Rafael and Olivia saw Rollins and Carisi waiting for them.Taking seats across from their friends in a nearby booth, Rafael ordered for them before turning to Carisi, who was sitting closest to him. “I know where my children are, but where are yours ?”
Carisi chuckled. “With my parents. We weren’t sure how long we would have to work today, and my mom has been asking to see them. Lara wanted to go alone, she said Mrs. Russo could watch Dom and Jessie.”
“What did you tell her?”
“That she didn’t have a choice.”
“It didn’t go over well,” Amanda added from the other side of Sonny. “She tried to ask if Mrs. Russo could watch her then.”
“So, how did you convince her to go?” Olivia asked.
“I told her that my mom said they could make cartocci while my dad watched a movie with Dom and Jessie,” Sonny answered.
“They agreed on a movie?”
Sonny chuckled and shook his head. “No. Manda handled that one.”
“I told them both to pick one thing they wanted in a movie. Dom said animals and Jessie said…” Amanda began, stopping suddenly.
“Amanda, are you okay?” Olivia asked.
“I think my water just broke.”
“Come on, Manda, let’s go.” Sonny said, immediately getting out of the booth and reaching for his wife.
“Sonny, do you want me to call your mom?”
“Of course. Did either of you drive?”
“No, we need to get a cab.”
“I have my car. Let’s go,” Rafael said, scooting out of the booth and holding out his hand for Olivia. “Liv can call your mom on the way.”
“Okay,” Sonny agreed, holding onto Amanda as he guided her out of the restaurant.
Walking into her friend’s hospital room a couple of days later, Olivia smiled when she saw her relaxing in the bed.
“How are you feeling?” Olivia asked as she approached.
“Tired,” Amanda replied. “I was so scared, Liv. I didn’t have any problems with Lara, Dom, or Jessie.”
“You and baby are good now, though?”
“Yes. The doctors want me to stay one more night, then we can both go home.”
“Have Lara, Dom, and Jessie been here to meet their new sibling?”
“So, what name did you decide on?”
“Gabriel Giovanni Carisi. Would you like to hold him?”
“Of course,” Olivia replied, handing Amanda a small bag. “But first, this is from Rafael and me.”
“You two didn’t have to do this,” Amanda said, pulling out a pack of small towels, a pack of pacifiers, and a gift card. “You already helped Sonny’s parents get the kids what they needed for the last two days.”
Olivia waved a hand at her. “It’s what friends do, Amanda. You and Sonny have both been friends of mine and Rafael’s for a long time. Besides, You two helped Lucia and Javier while I was in labor with Catie.”
“I haven’t seen her for a while. How’s she doin’?”
“She’s good. Rafael and the kids are having a movie night. Rafael told them he was choosing the movie.”
“How did that go over?”
Olivia smiled as she thought of their conversation with the kids that morning. “Marina and Luke were fine with it, Noah asked Rafael to consider one with animals, Miranda wanted to know when she would get to choose a movie, and Catie was just excited to watch a movie in general.”
“Think you and Rafael will have another one?” Amanda asked as she watched her friend lift Gabriel out of his crib and into her arms.
“Um, probably not. I mean, it’s not impossible at this point, but we already have five kids. Which is five more than I ever thought I’d have. I just made Lieutenant, and I’d like to make Captain someday. McCoy wants Rafael to take over as DA when he retires in a few years.”
“I thought Rafael wanted to be a judge?”
“He wanted to be, and it’s what his grandmother wanted for him, but he isn’t sure about it anymore. He said he feels he’s doing more good working with SVU than he would as a judge. Plus, McCoy pretty much lets him work from home whenever he wants and that works well with the kids.”
Amanda nodded. “I think we have a good team.”
Olivia lifted her head to smile at her friend. “We do. I’m glad Nick convinced Fin to take his sergeant’s exam...and that Fin convinced Nick to stay in New York.”
“I’m surprised Maria didn’t take him to court over custody of Zara.”
Olivia rolled her eyes as she rocked Gabriel back and forth. “Maria was more concerned about her boyfriend than her daughter. Nick can provide her with the stable home she needs.”
“Did he tell you he and Cynthia are actually going out on a date?”
“Yes. I hope it works out for them. He deserves to be happy.”
“Liv, I have a favor to ask.”
Olivia looked up again. “What is it?”
“Sonny and I want you and Rafael to be Gabriel’s godparents.”
“Of course we will.”
“If something were to happen…” Amanda started, stopping when she felt her emotions begin to overwhelm her. After taking a deep breath, she spoke again. “We know you and Rafael would love him as if he were your own...and still let Sonny’s family see them…”
Olivia laid Gabriel back in his crib and then walked over to her friend, taking her hand. “Amanda, you know Rafael and I are here for you and Sonny. So are Fin, Rita, and Nick. You know Cragen would help however he and Eileen could, too. We’re family. You shouldn’t be thinking about that kind of thing now, though. You and Sonny have your new little boy to take care of.”
Amanda wiped away the tears that had begun to fall as she nodded. “Stupid hormones.”
Olivia chuckled. “I remember. Shortly after I had Luke, I had forgotten to get milk at the store. I sat on the kitchen floor and just started bawling . I think I gave Rafael a mini heart-attack. He came home, I was in the kitchen crying, Marina was in her pack n play...crying, and Luke was still in his carseat...also crying.”
“What did he do?”
“He put a movie on for Marina, and then he took Luke out of his carseat and changed his diaper before putting him in his pack n play. Then he sat next to me in the kitchen and listened to me as I went on about how I was a horrible mother because I forgot milk and I was too tired to go back to the store to get it. He told me I was not a horrible mother, but he would call his mother and ask her to bring us some milk. While I attempted to stop crying, he called Lucia and she agreed to bring us milk. She also came over with some frozen meals so we wouldn’t have to cook for a few days. She cooked for us that night, and had even brought an overnight bag with her so she could stay and help with the kids overnight. Rafael fed Marina and I fed Luke, and then we all cuddled together on the couch while Lucia finished dinner.”
“I guess I don’t feel so bad, then,” Amanda said with a watery smile.
Olivia patted her friend’s hand before stepping back. “I’ll let you two get some rest. If you need anything, I’m just a phone call away.”
“Gia and Dominick said the same thing. Thanks, Liv.”
“That’s what friends are for. Now, get some rest.”
“Yes, Mom .”
“How’s Amanda?” Rafael asked as Olivia took a seat next to him on the couch after all of the children were in bed.
“Good. She and Sonny want us to be Gabriel’s godparents.”
“I know. Sonny talked to me about it earlier. I told him we’d be more than happy to.”
“That’s basically what I told Amanda, too. She asked me if I thought we would have another one.”
Olivia nodded, reaching for the glass of wine Rafael had put on the coffee table for her and taking a sip.
“Wha-what did you say?” Rafael asked, his uncertainty clear in his eyes.
“I said probably not. We already have five kids and I just made lieutenant. I’d like to make captain, too. And you aren’t really sure what exactly you want to do yet…”
Rafael reached for her free hand. “Livia, I love our family, but if you wanted to have another child...or even adopt another one...I wouldn’t object. Just because you want to make captain doesn’t mean you can’t have a family. As for my career, I’m happy where I am. I’ve never worked with a better team. My priorities are you and the kids. McCoy gives me the freedom to work from home when I need to as long as I show up to court when needed and keep getting convictions.”
“I...don’t know what I want,” Olivia confessed, looking down into her wine glass. “I love our family as it is. But I said the same thing before we decided to have Catie.”
“ Mírame, mi amor .”
Olivia looked up at her husband and smiled a little when she saw the love and understanding reflected in his eyes.
“We decided together to have Catie. It’s been that way for every child, even Noah and Miranda. They may not be biologically ours but I’m certain we were meant to be their parents.”
“What do you want, Rafa?”
Rafael shrugged. “I’m not sure, either. Noah, Miranda, and Catie are all still fairly young. But if there was a child that we meet that gives us the same feeling we got with Noah and Miranda, I wouldn’t say no to bring them into our home.”
“You wouldn’t want another biological child?”
“I know it’s still technically possible, but it would be more of a risk for you now...and I worry about you.”
Olivia leaned over and kissed him. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
“I love our family, Rafa. I fully intend to be the best godmother for little Gabriel, and that’s enough for me right now.”
Rafael kissed her again. “Does this mean I can buy all of our kids something of their choice? Within reason.”
Olivia laughed and patted his chest. “You’re such a softie.”
Rafael rolled his eyes at her, but he was smiling. “Only with those I trust and care about.”
“Did you have certain gifts in mind?” Olivia asked, setting her glass back down on the coffee table and then snuggling closer to Rafael.
Rafael set his own glass beside hers and then lifted his arm to wrap it around her shoulders. “I was thinking we could take them to that new waterpark that opened upstate. Maybe take a long weekend?”
“I think I could manage that…and I already know the kids would love it. But isn’t Catie a little young for a waterpark?”
“We can bring my mom and Lucy with us. They have a separate wading pool for the smaller kids. There’s some arches that spray water that they can float under, too. Otherwise, they can just float. You know Catie loves the water.”
Olivia smiled. “She does. She loudly protested getting out of the tub tonight.”
“I know. I heard.”
“This is the one attached to the hotel, right?”
“Can you look into when we would be able to get reservations? Then I can check the calendar at work, you can check with Carmen about yours, and then we can check with your mom and Lucy. Do you think your siblings would want to go?”
Rafael shrugged. “I can ask them. Let’s start by figuring out what dates are available and then go from there. Oh, and I don't need to check with Carmen about my calendar.”
"You don't?" Olivia asked, barely containing a laugh.
Rafael gave her the lopsided smile he knew she loved. "No. She has it synced to my phone."
Olivia laughed, turning her face into Rafael's chest to muffle her giggles. She could feel his answering chuckles.
"Remind me to buy Carmen a very nice Christmas present."
"Her birthday is next week. That's closer," Rafael said as he tilted his head and nosed her hair aside as he began to kiss her neck.
"Rafa," Olivia said, tilting her head to give him better access.
Rafael pressed a couple more kisses to her neck and then her lips before standing and holding out his hand for her. "Come with me, mi alma ."
Olivia placed her hand in his, allowing him to help her stand and then lead her up to their bedroom.
Sonny looked up from the book he’d been reading and saw his older son standing in the doorway to his and Amanda’s bedroom clutching his stuffed animal, a puppy named Enzo. “What’s wrong, patatino ?” he asked, setting the book down and patting the space beside him on the bed.
Dom quickly crawled up onto the bed and settled beside his father. “I miss Mama.”
Sonny pressed a kiss to the top of his son’s head. “I know. She and Gabe will be home tomorrow, though."
"Are you going to go get her?"
"I'm going to go see her after you and Lara go to school, and I drop Jessie off with Mrs. Russo."
"I want to go, too."
"You need to go to school."
Dom shook his head. "No. I want to go see Mama."
Sonny sighed, pulling his son close and rubbing his back. "Mama will be here when you get home from school and then you'll have all weekend to spend with her."
"She'll be busy with Gabe."
"Dom, you need to go to school tomorrow. Mi dispiace ."
"Dominick, I'm not going to argue with you about this anymore. You're going to school tomorrow. End of discussion."
Sonny to sigh again as he saw Dom still frowning. "How about I call Nonna and see if she can take you?"
Dom perked up at this.
" Nonna is taking us to school?" Lara asked as she walked into the room, holding her own stuffed animal, a bear named Carina, in one hand and Jessie's hand in her other. Jessie was carrying her own stuffed animal as well, a lamb named Lamby.
Sonny stood, picking up Jessie and leading Lara to the bed. Once he was settled with Lara on one side, Dom on the other, and Jessie in his lap, he reached for his phone and called his mother. As expected, she readily agreed to come by and take the kids. She volunteered to watch Jessie for the day as well, so the babysitter could have the day off. At least that's what she told him. He knew the truth was she would never pass up an opportunity to spoil her grandchildren.
The next day, when Amanda walked into the house, she held Gabe close while Sonny followed close behind with her bag.
"You should rest, Manda," he said as he approached. "I'll take care of Gabe. The kids will want to see you when they get home."
"Can I have some real food, first?"
Sonny chuckled. "Of course. I can warm up some ravioli."
"Your mom's recipe?"
"There's another one?"
Amanda laughed. "I should feed this little man, too. Hopefully he'll sleep after that."
"Do you want me to make him a bottle?"
"Sure. We'll just be on the couch."
Sonny pressed a kiss to her lips and another to Gabe's forehead before walking into the kitchen. As he prepared a bottle for Gabe and warmed up ravioli for Amanda, he thought back to the first time he had met her. They weren't working together yet, but he had felt a spark from the beginning. He would later find out that she felt it, too, but he still considered himself extremely lucky to have this life with her.
"Honey, are you okay?"
Sonny turned to see Amanda standing a few steps away from him, looking at him with concern.
"Sorry, amore mio , I got lost in my thoughts."
Amanda crossed to his side, taking his hand and lacing their fingers together while she rubbed her other hand up and down his arm. "I'm here, Sonny. I'm fine, Gabe is fine."
Sonny turned and pulled her into a hug, his free hand coming up to cup the back of her head as he pressed his lips to the top of her head.
A few moments later, the silence was broken by the sound of their son crying.
"Someone is hungry," Amanda said with a laugh.
Sonny picked up the bottle and then nodded at the ravioli. "You eat, I'll feed our tesoro ."
Amanda smiled and nodded, watching Sonny leave the room and listening to him talk to their son for a few seconds before her stomach growled. Laughing quietly to herself, she picked up the plate of ravioli and brought it to the dining table to eat. As she ate, she sent a text to Olivia to let her know she and Gabe had been released from the hospital and were now relaxing at home.