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Chosen Family

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wish i could tell you that i love you but i can't. wish i could call you in the morning but i can't. wish i could tell you that i miss you but i can't, this is not a love song. i get excited when you kiss me like that, when we're body to body like that. wish i could tell you that i want you more than that, but this is not a love song.


To say that she was happy would be the biggest understatement of the day. But for Olivia Benson, happiness wasn't something she got to revel in for very long. And that was where she was at now, the dull ache in her chest as she watched him slip out of their position on the couch. "Why can't you say? We can talk about this more." Her voice is quiet, betraying her commonly strong demeanour.

Their conversation had shifted, not even discussing the files that had been spread on her coffee table and surrounding floor. Somehow, they had brought up their personal lives, how she didn't have time to date anyone and how she wanted to be careful because of Noah. Plus they both knew that Noah and her job came first. And for him, it was the same. Well, the job aspect was. He had always gotten so swept up in cases that even getting drinks with the squad after a case seemed to be an exhausting effort when he really just wanted to go home and sleep.

But the hypotheticals became reality when she told him how she felt. About him.

He would be lying if he said he didn't consider it, that he hadn't thought about it in a few fleeting moments over the years. Squabbling at eighty-five. That was what they meant to each other. But in that moment, he was scared. Terrified, that if they got into that and it didn't work out... work would be uncomfortable, their friendship, nearly six years in the making, all of it would go up in smoke.

"There's nothing left to talk about, Liv." He wanted to, more than anything he wanted to wrap his arms around her and never let her go. But for Rafael Barba, happiness wasn't something he got to revel in for very long either. And he was already hurting her, despite the clear feelings between them.

"Rafa," she tried again, her brown eyes filling with tears. She wasn't sad, now she was angry, but she couldn't get her tears to stop. "If you leave now..." Don't bother coming back, was all she could think, but she didn't say it out loud.

Unfortunately for her, her voice didn't hold out like she was hoping it would.

Green eyes searched brown as he tried to see if she was bluffing. She wasn't. "I'm sorry, Liv." He mumbled, pulling his jacket on and leaving her apartment.


She wasn't supposed to be this upset, their conversation had been hypotheticals. Mostly. But she wasn't going to try and pretend she was okay, especially when her appearance, despite makeup and eye drops, gave her away. Her eyes were puffy and bloodshot and her chest ached from the heavy sobs that kept her up all night.

Olivia Benson had put it all out there, and ended up in her apartment, sitting on her bed crying and alone. Just like she had feared.

The only solace she got was the peace and quiet in the elevator before she stepped out into the hall. Even from where she was, she recognized Amanda's voice; an octave higher and her accent thicker, as it always was when she was angry.

Who is she yelling at so early?

"You know as well as I do that none of this is going to hold up in court! Any judge would be able to see that from a mile away!" 



Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to walk into the squad room, her hand gripping her coffee cup tighter than was probably necessary. "Fighting before eight am? Hell of a way to start the week." Was the way she greeted her squad, and she supposed by extension, Barba. But she wasn't even giving him a fleeting glance like she normally would.

"Liv, the Counsellor says we need to get him more evidence, but we've already combed through the scene three times." Fin looked up from the files on the table in front of them, dropping a photo back on top.

Taking a long sip of her coffee, Olivia thought about various courses of action. "Alright, Rollins, Carisi go back to the alley one more time and see if there's even a chance that we missed something. Fin, go through witness statements again, check traffic cameras, anything we can find from inside or outside that club." She instructed, the team nodding in return at their assignments.

"And you expect me to do what, exactly? Sit around here and wait?" The question came out with more malice than he'd intended, causing both of them to wince slightly.

It was that moment that Rollins and Carisi excused themselves, grabbing their coats and heading out of the bullpen. Fin stood up with excuse of needing another cup of coffee and ducked into the break room.

When the two were alone, or at least as alone as they could be in the precinct, Olivia shot Barba a glare that could burn him into the ground if looks could kill. "I don't care what you do as long as it's not here. And the next time you pull that in front of my squad, it'll be more than me simply telling you to leave."

"Liv..." He started, but was promptly cut off by her slamming the door to her office.

Turning on his heel, Barba walked as quickly as he could from the building.

He had really messed up.


He hadn't been counting the days, but he was sure it had been at least a week since he'd walked out of her apartment. It was actually about two weeks.

But somehow, despite her warnings, he was there again, knocking on the door.

He could hear her as she moved through the living room and stopped at the door, probably looking through the peephole to see who would be visiting her so late.

"Barba, I'm not really in the mood..." She sounded exhausted; like she'd been crying for far too long.

They hadn't won the case, the victim and the squad took it hard, but they still went out for drinks. Well all of them except Olivia. She had gone home, relieved Lucy of her duties after thanking her profusely as she always did, and spent the night with Noah.

"Liv... Olivia, please open the door." He wasn't above begging anymore. He knew what he wanted, what he needed. It was her.

It had always been her.

Slowly, the door pulled open and his earlier suspicions had been proven. She looked exhausted, her eyes were still as red and puffy as they had been throughout the case. There were times, offers to work on the case, have takeout and try to figure out what to do, had almost been put on the table; but they were always rescinded. Not wanting to cross the new boundaries that the two had unknowingly put up between them.

"I'm not usually one who... does what we do, Liv." He muttered, tapping the toe of his shoe on the ground behind him.

"It's not like we were sleeping together, Barba. I just... thought you may want more than just dinners and work talk. I guess I was wrong." She shook her head, her limp brown curls falling in her face as she turned her gaze to the floor.

It was then that Barba could really see the damage of what he'd done. They had gotten close, closer than she'd allowed herself to get to someone in a long time. And he'd hurt her in a failed attempt to keep either of them from getting their hearts broken.

"Liv, I know it doesn't seem like it, but I never wanted to hurt you. You have to know that." He took a small step forward, his right foot across the threshold of her apartment as his hand came up to brush her elbow.

Olivia wanted to pull away, scoff and tell him he did a great job of not hurting her, but she couldn't. His touch seemed to freeze her to her spot.

Swallowing the lump that had formed in his throat, Barba took another step closer. "I guess I just always thought that if we ever happened, it would be like a cheesy love song. I'd tell you how I felt, you'd feel the same and we'd kiss and that would be it."

"But you... you told me that you didn't want this. That we couldn't do it because it would be too complicated. You barely gave it a second thought... I don't know what you want me to say to you..." She finally lifted her head completely to look him in the face.

Letting out a breath, Barba pulled himself together as best as he could. "I know what I said, but these past two weeks... have been the worst of my life, Liv. I can't sleep... I want to come to the precinct all the time, I wanna come here... but I can't because I wanted to respect your wishes."

"I don't care what you do, as long as it's not here." Her own voice echoed in her head and she winced.

"Rafa... I never should have... I just, got scared. I thought that you would never look at me the same way again, but I was wrong to just assume that. What I said to you... threatening to kick you out of the precinct... I shouldn't have done that, I'm sorry." She mumbled.

"Mama?" Noah's voice broke the ever looming silence that started to blanket them. "Mama, I'm thirsty..." He mumbled, rubbing his eyes as he walked towards her.

Olivia turned to look at her son, a soft smile pulling at her lips. His curly hair was in even more of a disarray than usual, Eddie, his stuffed elephant tucked under his arm. "Alright sweet boy, I'll get you some water." She nodded.

Turning to look at Barba, she stepped aside completely to let him inside. "I won't be long." She spoke softly, picking Noah up and carrying him to the kitchen. 

Pulling his jacket off, Barba hung it up on the coat rack, pulling the sleeves of his shirt up to try and get comfortable. But he still hadn't moved from his spot by the time she came back.

When Olivia returned, she saw Barba shifting his weight between his feet awkwardly. "Rafa, you can sit down." She offered quietly, sitting on the couch and gesturing to the spot next to her.

Slowly, he walked over and sat next to her. "Liv, I know that I said that this... wouldn't work, but when we weren't talking really... outside the case that is, I realized that I need you in my life. Not just as friends, but as..." he trailed off, hoping to find the right words.

"Something out of a cheesy love song?" She offered, tucking her legs underneath her.

Barba rolled his eyes, though he could feel his face start to heat up. "Something like that, I suppose." He nodded.

"Well... I would be inclined to agree, but we are definitely not a love song. Got it?" Olivia countered.

"As long as we're together, we can be whatever you want us to be." He smiled, tentatively reaching out to take her hand.

There would be another conversation or two, at greater length, they were both sure of that, but for now that was all they needed. The assurance that they were there, that they were in this together.

But definitely not a love song.