"Barba commin'?" Fin called over the laughter lighting Olivia's living room. It was late Friday afternoon and the squad had gathered to celebrate the close of a particularly hard case. Whilst they didn't secure convictions for all charges, the scum bag was found guilty of enough to put him away for several lifetimes. That was enough for the team.
"Got a meeting with the DA, and a lot of paperwork to catch up on. He said he'd be around late." Liv replied, confident she'd sounded casual enough to mask her disappointment with current absence.
"If he comes." Carisi chimed in around a mouthful of Doritos. "I've never seen the counsellor lookin' so tired, an' that's sayin' somethin'." He licked some powder off his fingers before getting up to join Jesse and Noah building little robots on the ground near-by.
The squad shared in some much needed recovery time over drinks and take-out pizza. As the night progressed the kids got crankier as they got more tired. Eventually they ended up snuggled in the laps of their mothers, too tired to play but conscious enough to vehemently object to being removed from all the excitement.
At about 10 o'clock there was a brisk knock at the door, Fin got up to answer it as Olivia tried to convince Noah it was his and Jesse's bed time. He was crabby but perked up with the arrival of "Uncle Rafa", begging him instead to put he and Jesse to bed.
Olivia opened her mouth to chastise him, but before she could Rafael interrupted her.
"It's alright Liv." He sighed quietly, his gaze falling softly to the little boy as he stripped off his blazer. He was left in his black dress pants, matching vest, crisp white dress-shirt with red suspenders and tie. Loosening his tie slightly as he approached he cooed "Come on amigo, you too niñita." Jesse stretched her arms out from Rollin's lap. Barba's lack of awkwardness as he leaned down to scoop her up in his arm was a testament to how tired he really was. Jesse smoothly secured in one arm, the other outstretched to take Noah's, the trio meandered down Olivia's dimly lit hallway toward her guest room (it has the queen bed).
Fin smiled softly as he noticed Olivia watch their receding silhouette, something warm gleaming in her eyes. Rollins watched too, an unfamiliar warmth touched her in regard to Barba's unusually affectionate actions.
Considering how tired the kids obviously were, neither mother expected it to be long before Barba reemerged. However, as many more minutes passed they found their curiosity surrounding the silent room mount. Eventually, with a glance to Amanda, Olivia mentioned checking to make sure the kids weren't being too much of a nuisance for Barba. After all, the poor man was clearly beyond exhausted. Amanda nodded in agreement, getting up in case Liv needed back up with Jesse- she could be incredibly stubborn when she was tired.
The women left Fin and Carisi to their quiet conversation, heading toward the guest room. What they discovered upon entering caused both their jaws to drop. Olivia's mouth was the first to curl into a shocked smile, while Amanda brought her hand up to stifle a cocked laugh.
There, passed out on top of the covers laid Noah, Jesse and Barba. All breathing softly, sound asleep. Barba on the side furthest from the door on his right side, right arm stretched out to pillow the head of Jesse, who was curled tightly to his side, tiny fists grasping his suspenders, little faced tucked into the crease of his neck. Barba's left arm encircled her tiny body holding her firmly against his broad chest, his large hand splayed out against her small back. Noah laid a small space apart from Jesse, his cheek pillowed in Barba's palm, his hands gripping onto Barba's wrist.
Shocked and touched in an unusual way, both woman silently admired the tableau for a minute, sparing a knowing smirk at each other before leaving the three to their peaceful slumber.
Their return provoked Sonny into asking "where's Barba?"
"Having a well-deserved rest." Chuckled Olivia as they settled back into conversation.
As the evening matured Amanda decided it was time to get home, after all she had a date with Jesse, Noah and Liv at the Zoo tomorrow. Predictably, as Amanda stood Sonny did too, offering his help to get her and Jesse home. Amanda gratefully accepted. Fin and Olivia shared a knowing look.
The two women again made their way quietly down the hall to gather Jesse, however Amanda found herself slightly uncomfortable at the thought of being so close to an unconscious, and subsequently peacefully vulnerable Barba. She hesitated at the door, thankfully Olivia picked up on this and confidently rounded the bed to collect Jesse for her.
Amanda watched as Olivia stooped over Barba, gently prying Jesse from his arms. She was even more grateful for Olivia's help when Barba resisted slightly in his sleep, pulling Jesse more closely to his chest. He woke with Olivia's persistence, two sleepy eyes slowly opened to squint at Amanda as the Lieutenant whisked the girl away over to her mother. Amanda watched as Barba sleepily scrubbed his now free hand over his face, rolling onto his back with a yawn.
Heading back to the living room they found Carisi and Fin waiting in the entrance, coats gathered in their arms. Amanda approached Sonny, who promptly slipped Jesse's jacket over her arms. As everyone was bidding each other goodnight Barba padded down the hallway. Hair soft, groggy eyed and with no shoes, it wasn't the way Amanda, or indeed Sonny or Fin, were accustomed to seeing the ADA. He didn't look bad, not bad at all Amanda thought slyly, just relaxed for once. And soft.
Despite his appearance he was clear headed enough to say his goodbyes, sleep voice low and raspy. Amanda was oddly touched when he lightly caressed Jesse's sleeping brow with his thumb. If she hadn't seen it, she'd seriously struggle to believe their hard-ass lawyer could be so unguardedly tender. He must really be tired.
The four promptly left, keen to get home and into their own beds after a particularly taxing few weeks. When the door finally closed Olivia turned to face Rafael. She knew he was particularly upset about not getting the rape conviction on top of the others. Knew he felt he'd failed some critical aspect of the case despite the life sentence the son of a bitch got.
"Liv, I should get goi-".
"Stay." She interrupted. Her steady gaze communicated that this was not a request and that he should not argue, but it was Barba, so what did she expect?
"You're tired, you're upset - don't deny it-" she said raising a finger as he opened his mouth, "and I'm not letting a friend try to navigate his way home when he looks like he's about to fall off his feet from sheer exhaustion." At this he closed his mouth, favouring instead to thank her with the warmth in his gaze. She reached up to cup his cheek, running her thumb over his skin before lightly scratching the hairs on his neck as she walked around him.
"You can sleep in your under-shirt and borrow some of my sweat-pants if thats alright with you?" She called, glancing over her shoulder at him as she made her way to her room. He simply nodded, following after her.
Once in her room she quickly located the large pair of black sweats she wears on her comfort days. They had elastic at the top and around the ankles but fit loosely around the legs, making them extremely comfortable. She handed them to him, with a small nod toward her en-suite.
He emerged moments later, dress shirt, tie, trousers and suspenders draped over his arm. Olivia tried not to notice how his simple white t-shirt stretched over his shoulders, or exposed his rounded bi-ceps. She'd slipped into some yoga pants and an oversized shirt while he changed and she slid into the bed as he draped his clothes over the back of a chair.
Soon he joined her in bed, rolling to his side to lock gazes. "Thank you." He said, and it was clear from his tone that he was immensely grateful for not only what Olivia was doing for him, but just that she was with him.
"Of course, Rafa." She replied, smile playing on her lips. She rolled over to switch off her lamp, "night" she said, as the room succumbed to darkness. All she heard in reply were the deep, measured breathes of a sleeping ADA.