Olivia Benson wasn’t sure if she felt like a voyeur or a 15 year old playing truant.
In all the years she had worked for the NYPD, she’d never felt the need to sneak into a court room.
The case ADA Rafael Barba was prosecuting was not SVU related. She knew little about it other that it was a hefty, high profile case. In truth she spent enough time in a courtroom but today, she was here purely as a spectator.
She’d heard that Barba wanted an expert profiler on the stand: A couple of years or so ago, at the behest of Captain Cragan, she had attended an FBI seminar in DC about Serial Sex Offenders and Rapists. The afternoon session had been dedicated to profiling these types of criminals and had been headed up by the Behavioural Analysis Unit. She therefore knew for a fact profilers didn’t come much better than Supervisory Special Agent Aaron Hotchner, BAU Unit Chief.
Hotchner, she recalled reading was himself a former prosecutor with the DA’s office in Seattle. He maybe Barba’s expert witness but she had the distinct feeling watching them go head to head in a courtroom would be so much more interesting than the mountain of paperwork that was sitting on the desk in her office. So, she decided to play hooky for a couple of hours, being Lieutenant had to come with some perks.
She had managed to slip into the courtroom unnoticed, the nature of the case unfortunately, drawing a larger than usual crowd of onlookers. Aaron Hotchner had obviously just been called to the stand as he was stating his name and giving his details for the record.
It was rarely that Olivia Benson found herself smiling quite so broadly in a courtroom, but in this instance, it was it hard not to. For once ADA Rafael Barba had some serious competition in the sartorial stakes. It was more like New York Fashion week than a courthouse. Barba covered the polished wooden floor like it was a judicial catwalk. He had buttoned his jacket as he rose to address his witness. His impeccably tailored mid-grey three piece suit was teamed with a striped shirt. A lavender blue tie with pink spots which actually complimented both to perfection, but then of course it would. The handkerchief that adorned his breast pocket matched the spots. She couldn’t help but wonder which item the suspenders he nearly always wore favoured.
Aaron Hotchner sat composed and professional in the witness box, looking like he was about to be photographed for the cover of Esquire. His wardrobe was a tad more conservative than his legal counterpart but immaculate none the less. His equally sharp suit was also grey but a much darker shade. Worn with a pristine white shirt and a simple burgundy tie. As a detective Olivia Benson was trained to notice details, she wasn’t sure if any of the details she had noticed so far would be relevant to anything. Unless someone reported a robbery at Saks maybe.
Barba rested his hand on the edge of the witness box as he addressed the FBI agent. Keenly scanning the jury as his questions were answered in meticulous, unwavering detail.
“Thank you agent Hotchner” He afforded the older man a brief smile. Barba’s expressive green eyes clashing momentarily with the dark intimidating stare of Aaron Hotchner.
A sudden warmth pooled low in Olivia Benson’s stomach at the unbridled thought of these two men together. She felt her face flush. A flush that turned to blistering heat as glancing across the courtroom she found herself looking directly into the somewhat surprised face of ADA Rafael Barba.
“Lieutenant Benson, I was surprised to see you in court this afternoon” Came Barba’s familiar and somewhat formal tones from behind, catching her off guard.
Dammit the judge must have called recess for the day immediately after she left the courtroom. Her face still hot and her mouth inexplicably dry. Olivia had stopped to get a drink from the water cooler.
“Counsellor” Fixing a smile, and returning his professional address, she turned to face him.
Him and it would appear FBI agent Aaron Hotchner.
“Liv are you ok?” His concern was genuine as he extended his hand to rest gently on her arm.
“You look a little flushed”
“I’m fine; it was just a little warm in there, with so many people.” She took a sip of the water, her mouth now parched.
The thought she’d had in the courtroom now doing cartwheels in her head as the two men stood elegantly side by side. She swore blind if she touched one of them she would get an electric shock, so potent was the electricity. She tried to drag her attention back to the serious business that had been going on. Barba offered no introductions so she addressed his previous statement.
“To be honest I was curious.” Taking a steadying breathe she gestured towards Aaron Hotchner with the plastic cup.
“I attended a seminar in DC a while back. Agent Hotchner and his team did the session on profiling Serial Sex Offenders and Rapists”
It wasn’t often Olivia Benson was caught on the back foot, she prayed for someone to help her out. She hadn’t envisaged being seen and interrogated on her reasons for being here. A phone rang. “Oh thank god” she thought “saved by the bell.”
Aaron Hotchner reached into his pocket. “Excuse me I need to take this.” He walked away from them, along the marbled corridor.
“So, come on Liv, tell me the truth.” Barba’s voice interrupted her rather lustful study of the tall FBI agent’s elegant gait.
“What brought you to court this afternoon?”
Damn the man he knew her too well, perhaps he should have been the profiler. There would be little point in lying to him, so she came clean.
“Well I was curious, and I did attend the seminar. I remembered SSA Hotchner and thought watching you to going at it on the stand.” She stopped abruptly at her choice of words and his raised eyebrows. “I meant verbally” She hissed at him.
“Well of course you did” He smiled, almost smirked at her.
“Or maybe precisely that thought was what caused the hot flush” His green eyes twinkled mischievously.
Olivia had to smile; Barba really had gotten far too good at reading her. He was like a tenacious terrier once he got hold of something, he just didn’t let go. But it was strange she never felt the need to lie to him or hide anything from him. It was actually nice to be able to be so frank and open with someone. It worked both ways. Although sometimes she did find him a little difficult to read.
Maybe it was the recent conversation they’d had about his bisexuality that had fanned the flames this afternoon. She’d admitted to him quite freely at the time that she found bisexuality in a man a turn on. He’d countered as only a prosecutor could by suggesting she may not feel that way if her boyfriend came home and told her he’d slept with another man. He had taken her hesitation as proof that he was right.
She could still see the look on his face; hear him choking on his scotch when she’d elaborated.
“I am trying to put this shall we say delicately, so, I don’t actually come off sounding like the kind of sexual deviant that we would normally put away.” She could still see that beautiful, all too rare smile of his as she continued to speak.
“Oh, what the hell! Yes, I would be totally devastated, because he felt the need to do it behind my back, if you get my drift”
She could see by the somewhat bemused look on his face that clearly he didn’t get her drift at all. Either that or he just wanted to hear her say it out loud.
“Oh come on Barba, two guys together is so hot”
Barba had ordered himself another scotch: Having spat most of the last one over the counter, before pursuing the conversation further. Admitting, he was intrigued, practically cross examining her. She remembered saying jokingly to him at one point. “Objection Counsellor” to which of course he’d replied “overruled.”
Olivia refused to admit to anything, keeping her face as inscrutable as possible. she knew next to nothing about the enigmatic FBI profiler, it was just her unusually naughty mind. But whether they knew it or not they had some seriously hot chemistry.
“Barba, I don’t think I like you anymore” She scrunching the plastic cup between her fingers and discarding it in the bin.
“Rafael, you haven’t been upsetting one of New York’s, finest have you?”
Aaron Hotchner returned smiling as he tucked his cell phone back into his breast pocket.
“ME? Aaron!” Barba feigned shock, his hand coming rather, over dramatically to his chest.
Having just about got her thoughts back in check, Olivia’s brain was now dealing with the Rafael, Aaron exchange and the easy banter that passed between the two men. Olivia was no profiler, but she been a detective long enough to know, Aaron Hotchner was obviously not just Rafael Barba’s expert witness. Curiouser and curiouser thought Alice or in this case Olivia.
“It was nice to see you again Agent Hotchner. Counsellor”
She offered the FBI agent a pleasant smile and Barba a look, making her bid to get away. Desperate as she was to find out more, Olivia felt she should leave them to it, whatever IT was.
“Why don’t you join us for dinner? If you don’t have any plans” Barba suggested those piercing green eyes of his all but daring her to say no.
She glared even harder at him for putting her on the spot like this. “I err”
“Please Lieutenant, your company would be much appreciated. I think you could save me from an evening of heated debate and shop talk”.
Aaron Hotchner was actually very amiable, and quite disarming. The hard penetrating, and resolute stare had vanished, replaced by pools of tempting warm chocolate. His broad smile revealing a set of beguiling, almost boyish dimples.
“Oh I am sure our esteemed ADA wouldn’t do that to you Agent Hotchner.”
She flashed a fiery brown stare of her own at Barba, before returning to Aaron Hotchner with a charming smile of her own.
“Thank you, I would be delighted and please it’s Olivia”
“Aaron.” He responded, his own warm smile, flashing those dimples once more.
Barba’s expressive green eyes danced in devilment, a broad grin etched on his all too attractive face. Olivia had a feeling she was going to have a major hangover tomorrow