It was three in the afternoon when the press swarmed the courthouse steps. Cameras flashed, and microphones were waved around as people began to leave. In the middle of the press storm was ADA Rafael Barba, who ignored the questions fired at him.
"Mr. Barba, do you think the jury's going to find Vargas guilty on all counts?"
"Sir, is the-"
Their voices could only abruptly falter as he cut through them like they were the sea. Lieutenant Olivia Benson and Sergeant Fin Tutuola followed from behind, making sure nothing would go awry as Barba reached the bottom of the cold steps.
Of course, they would later get information from other people. That Terrence Vargas was recently sentenced to consecutively serve the crimes he was charged with. He had raped three men and three women, and had beaten his own 6-year-old son to death, now he wouldn't be able to hurt anyone for a very long time.
Soon as Rafael reached his car door, he looked up at the sky. Only a few lumps of clouds decorated the light blue. The sun's harsh rays were beaming down. But even if the summer heat raged on, a thought made its way into his head, something that wasn't impossible. A hurricane was about to strike New York City.
Two hours later, Barba was in his office, shuffling any remaining papers on his desk. There was a light knock on the door.
"Come in," He said without looking up. Olivia entered the room, when she noticed the already-open briefcase beside him on the floor, she spoke, "Leaving early?"
He affirmed, "There's nothing left for me to do right now,"
As he inserted the papers into one of his folders, she asked again, "Want to head down to Forlini's?"
"Sure," The answer automatically tumble out of his tongue. Olivia must've realized this too, because she returned the grin he gave her as he replied. He added, "I'll be there at seven,"
When she turned and left the office, he looked over at his papers. Then he noticed the edge poking out of the stack, standing out because it had that certain color that he knew all too well. The grey was easily conceilable among the white, possibly slipped through by someone paid a large amount. He stopped receiving these last year, but why would they continue threatening him now?
He looked up and saw Olivia walking away, like when she did when his phone rang, when Willard contacted him and threatened him with information he thought was correct. The thought he kept to the back of his mind ever since he left the courthouse resurfaced again.
The hurricane is coming.
Maybe he was wrong, maybe it was just a false alarm. That it was like an isolated storm- short but serious. At Forlini's, he only told her a part of what he felt about the case. Nevertheless, he hoped she didn't notice that not all of it was off his chest. It was 9 PM when they parted ways.
Rafael's apartment building sat beside a few restaurants (they were on speed dial delivery whenever he and Olivia were reviewing cases at either one of their offices), but the few lights outside were dimmer than flashing neon. He finally unlocked his apartment door, expecting his foot to step on the soft mat. But when the sole instead collided with marble, he looked down.
The welcome mat (one his mother forced him to buy 'in case he was entertaining visitors', he knew he wouldn't be, but decided to appease her) was moved a few feet away from its original place. Adrenaline should've kicked in by now, he relied too much on his instincts. No, his heartbeat was still at a normal rate, nothing was unusual.
But he kept his door open just to be sure, and he stepped further into his apartment. Even though exhaustion was threatening to close his eyes, he still tried to be alert.
Then the exhaustion disappeared quickly. He tried to be alert, but now there was a gun pressed to the back of his head, and a hand covering his mouth.
The hurricane has unleashed its wrath, and it will stop at nothing until only destruction lies on the ground.
Olivia arrived at the precinct, a cup of coffee in her hand as she walked through the door. She was about to quickly greet everyone when she noticed her sergeant and two detectives invested in watching a computer screen.
"Hey, guys," She greeted them, "What's up?"
Fin, Amanda and Sonny were all snickering until they realized their boss had noticed what they were doing. Blame it all on the quality of Rollins's dog home videos. Amanda quickly scrambled for the mouse as the others straightened up. A screen of Frannie happily leaping from one place to another was immediately closed.
"It's nothing, Lieu," Sonny bluffed. Fortunately, she decided to let it slide and made a beeline for her office.
Olivia sat down on her chair and pulled out her phone for any updates. She expected a text from Barba to talk about the motions Buchanan just filed, but nothing came up. Her eyebrows furrowed as she slightly rested her chin on her hand. Last night, he told her he was going to send her a message this morning, because apparently he has plans with his mother today. So she placed the phone down on the table, thinking that maybe he was so busy talking with her that he forgot to do so.
Having only met Lucia Barba once, and once overhearing their conversation in loud speaker at his office, she could tell it was hard not to listen to her.
That memory lit a smile up her face, but her thoughts were interrupted when someone knocked on her door. "It's open," She told them. Her grin fell, because Chief Dodds entered the room, followed by, Fin, Carisi and Rollins, and they all looked worried and uncomfortable.
"Olivia," Dodds began, "there's something you need to listen to,"
At first, she thought that they were facing a new case that most likely involved politics. But fear only grew in her heart when they decided to set it up inside her office, and not outside using the television of the squadroom. Then the audio played, and her heart sunk when she recognized the frantic caller reciting an address.
"I-I entered my son's apartment and-and es un- there's some blood on the floor!" They heard the 911 Operator trying to calm her down, "I can't find him, oh God, he's not here!" At that moment, Dodds pressed a button and stopped the recording. Olivia covered her mouth with her hand, the horror was plain on her face. Everyone in the room can see it, the detectives shot worried glances at her and at each other.
No, that voice cannot be Lucia Barba. No, that address cannot be Rafael Barba's.
Dodds sighed, "They got this call at 9 AM, and the unis responded. They're waiting for you guys to collect evidence," He looked at her, seeing the hint of disbelief in her eyes, "It's him, Olivia."
She tried to speak, but the words were caught in her throat. The weight of the situation was crushing down on her. She was the last person to see him, and she knew deep down that not everything was alright with Rafael when he turned around and left.
No, she will never go down that road ever again.
"Listen, you aren't off the case. But you're working with Major Case on this one."
Olivia nodded in understanding. Guilt was easily overpowered by determination now, as Dodds turned and left the room, she turned to her detectives,
How do you brave a storm?