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The Secret

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“Did you hear? We are going to do some team building exercise this weekend?” Amanda groaned as you entered the locker room.

“What? No. I was going through a case file all afternoon with Barba.” You replied, as you gathered your belongings.

“Barba and Y/N sitting in a tree… k-i-s-s-i-n-g.” Amanda sang, which garnered a glare from you.

“Oh stop it!” You threw your jacket at Amanda who caught it. “It’s not like that.”

Amanda cocked her brow at you. You sighed, defeated. “Okay, it’s like that. But please don’t say anything to Olivia. Barba and I haven’t made it official. He keeps stalling. And there is a ton of disclosure paperwork that needs to be completed.”

“I’m aware – you forget Sonny and I…” Amanda wiggled her left hand at you. You rolled your eyes.

“I know – but it’s different. You and Carisi had a long history together. You each had rank. I’m the newbie.”

“And Barba is the hand that rocks the cradle.” Amanda snickered. “Why do you think he keeps stalling? It’s been six months.”

You grabbed your jacket from Amanda. “So what exactly is this team building exercise?” You asked, ignoring her question.

Truth be told, you were terrified as to why Rafael kept stalling.

“What the hell is this place?” You wondered out loud, as you stepped out of the SUV.

“Welcome to Bear Mountain!” Sonny replied, slapping his hand on your back. He walked past you and you watched as the rest of the team climbed out of the car.

“Fresh mountain air, private trails, a clean creek. We’re going to have ourselves a true mountain adventure and take to the wildness.” Oliva replied.

A woman with wild hair and a hippie dippy dress approached. She had a wide , friendly smile. “Are you the police group from NYC? SVU?”

Olivia nodded.

“Welcome, welcome! I’m Teres, and I am the owner of these grounds. “ Teres clapped her hands and the bangle bracelets she wore clinked together.

Sonny raised his brow and Amanda jabbed him in the ribs.

“These grounds are actually behind my family’s orchard and farm. We have tents set up for you all, but there is also a micro-cabin with a fully functioning bathroom and shower. While it seems like you have left the world behind, we are 10 minutes from the local grocer, diner, deli and pizza place. Barton’s Orchard is also a 15 minute drive. Tymor Park is 2 miles down the road. There you will find a swimming pool, more hiking trails, a lake for boating, volleyball courts and more.” Teres continued. “Is everyone here?”

Olivia looked around. “We’re waiting for one more.”

You turned to Liv. “Who else is coming?”

“Barba.” Olivia replied. “Thank you for having us, Teres.”

Amanda looked over at you and winked.

“The purpose of this weekend is to bring the team together. Now that we have Kat…” Olivia announced, smiling at the young detective. “And Y/N.” She smiled at you. “Carisi is our new ADA and Barba is our new Bureau Chief. Things at the one-six have shaken up. I thought this would be a nice way to get away from the hum-drum of the city and do some old-school bonding.”

At that moment, the rumble of a car approaching the grounds filled the air. You watched as Rafael got out of the cab. He was way over dressed naturally - this did not surprise you. He seemed awkward and out of place. He frowned looking around before his eyes met Liv’s and he smiled brightly. He walked over and said hello. You tried to say hi but he brushed you off and immediately you hated the weekend and wanted to go home.

Your whole life you lived by the motto that you don’t shit where you eat. You didn’t do workplace romances. Then you transferred to Manhattan SVU and had a random hook-up with one very sexy Cuban man after your first hard case who just happened to be the Bureau Chief. But after that one incident, in which you both swore could never happen again, you both couldn’t keep your hands off each other.

But it was a secret. Months and months passed. Now it was six months in. You kept wanting to tell Olivia – but Rafael kept saying it was not the right time. More and more, it felt like the guilt of the relationship was taking its toll. You finally caved one night to your partner, Amanda, spilling every last drop.

Amanda took the information in stride and promised she would keep it all under confidence. That said, she did enjoy occasionally ribbing you from time to time about it.

Night quickly approached. The whole time Rafael dodged you as best as he could. You pulled out your phone and wondered if you could fake an emergency to escape. The campsite claimed there was wi-fi but the connection was shitty.

“Hey.”

You looked up at Fin, who crouched next to you. “Hey.” You replied dejectedly while you nibbled at a s’more.

“You okay? You’ve been quiet all day. Not like you.” Fin replied. You sighed, watching Sonny and Amanda across the campsite with Rafael, laughing over God knows what.

“Yeah. Just tired. Camping isn’t my thing.” You replied. “I need to be in actual civilization.”

“I get that. I don’t do nature either.”

“I think… I am going to head to bed.” You replied standing. You stretched out your hand. “Want the rest of my s’more?”

“Nah, I’m good.” Fin replied. “Maybe Barba wants it. He’s always hungry.” He laughed and jutted his head towards the direction where Barba was.

You hummed and gave Fin a smile before heading to your tent. The ground was cold and hard. Sleep was futile.

It was one weekend. You could do this.

The next morning, breakfast was being had and Olivia was busy going over some of the bonding activities everyone was going to partake in. You decided to take your coffee to go, walking up a trail.

“Y/N, you shouldn’t go by yourself. Barba, why don’t you accompany her?” Amanda replied, with a wink to you. “Unless you want to go kayaking with us.”

You shot a look at Amanda. “I don’t need a babysitter.”

“Nonsense – everyone should be in pairs. You never know what could happen.” Olivia replied. “Besides this is about team morale and building.”

“Great.” You gritted. Rafael looked at you and gave you a small, forced smile.

“After you, detective. Lead the way.” Rafael replied.

The walk up the trail towards Tymor Park was mostly quiet between you. After you were far enough from the campsite, you whipped around and stepped in front of Rafael, causing him to take a step back.

“I was trying to get away from you!” You hissed.

“Look, Y/N, I don’t know why you are so upset with me.” Rafael began. “I told you I wasn’t ready to disclose.”

“When will you be ready? Why don’t you respect me or our relationship?” You replied, sitting on a rock.

“That’s not true – you know I respect you. It is just complicated.”

“No, it’s not. You are making it complicated.” You watched as a white butterfly flitted by.

Rafael sighed and sat on a rock next to you. “I thought we wouldn’t last a month. But then we did, and then another month, and I’m still not sure how this happened.”

Rafael pulled your chin to face him. You jutted your chin out from his grasp. ““It feels like you don’t care.” You scoffed. You stood and crossed your arms. “Well?” You asked, exasperated when Rafael didn’t immediately respond. Your eyes began to shimmer with tears that threatened to fall.

You looked over your shoulder as you began to march in the opposite direction. “I’m going back to the campsite. If you want to follow me, that is your prerogative.”

Rafael used the opportunity to think about what he wanted to do as he followed you back to campsite. Truth was that he did like you – a lot. He might even dare to say his feelings bordered on love. But ever since Yelina had broken his heart so many years ago, he was reticent about any kind of relationship. Certainly his line of work didn’t allow for romance and he used that to his advantage.

Then you came along. And turned his whole world upside down..

You were the newest detective after Kat Tamin. You were like a breath of much needed fresh air. You weren’t jaded like the other detectives and thought outside the box. When other detectives offered stereotypical analysis, you had a way of providing another vantage point that might not have been otherwise stated.

You were also thirteen years his junior.

Rafael worried that disclosing the relationship would make him come across some kind of old man pervert. And instead of telling you and leaning on you, he decided to push you away because it was easier to avoid than deal with feelings he wasn’t used to.

When you had gotten back to the campsite, you stormed off to where Fin and Sonny were, joining them in a card game. Your eyes met Rafael’s and you glared at him before turning to Sonny and laughing at what he said.

Rafael felt his heart sink a bit. And then he gathered what resolve he had and vowed to make things right with you. He didn’t want to risk losing you.

After a day of more bonding activities, you all sat around the campfire. Sonny strummed his guitar – a hobby of his – as he lead everyone through a round of Wagon Wheel.

Picking me a bouquet of dogwood flowers

And I’m a-hopin’ for Raleigh, I can see my baby tonight

So rock me momma like a wagon wheel…

Finally, everyone decided to hit the sack and call it a night. You were settling into your sleeping bag, when you heard the zipper to your tent open. You turned on your flashlight and directed it to the tent opening.

“Who the fu—”

Rafael poked his head in. “Can we talk?” The light shone directly into his eyes, nearly blinding him. He blocked the light with his hand.

You sighed. “I’m going to bed. Make it quick.”

Rafael climbed into the tent and settled next to you. You set the flashlight between you, causing an eerie glow. Rafael took your hands in his and pressed kisses along your knuckles.

“Hermosa, you deserve to know the truth. What I feel for you…” Rafael sighed, shaking his head. You felt your heart thud in your chest and your stomach churned. You thought perhaps he was going to break your heart for good.

You interrupted him and began to speak, your voice shaking. “Please spare me the humiliation…”

“No! If I ever made you feel like I don’t love you. That was my fault and I’m a bad liar.” Rafael replied.

“You love me?” You asked, your voice hopeful.

“I do.” Rafael replied. He pressed a chaste kiss to your lips. “Then you stole me. And I stole you… What made you think I had any intention of ever giving you back.”

“I love you too Rafael.” You replied. You climbed over to his lap, knocking over the flashlight. You leaned over and pressed your lips against his. Rafael groaned, and opened his mouth, returning your kiss. He stretched out his leg and pulled you into his lap. His hands ran up and down your thighs, squeezing your ass as you hungrily kissed each other. His tongue danced with yours and you ground yourself against him. You could feel his cock harden. You moaned loudly as he lowered his mouth to the slope of your neck sucking on a sweet spot, causing you to grind further down. “Oh Rafael!”

Rafael slapped his hand over your mouth. “Sshhh.”

“Do you think they can hear us through the tent?” You asked.

“Yes we can.” A voice that sounded a lot like Olivia’s called out. “And here I thought we would have to worry about Rollins and Carisi.”

You and Rafael burst into laughter. “Well, I was going to suggest disclosing in the morning, but I think we were found out.” Rafael replied.

“Good. Now that they all know…come here.” You replied – your voice was filled with want. You wrapped your hand around Rafael’s neck once more and pulled him down on top of you.

FIN.