Detective Maria Upshaw was the last to arrive to the waiting room at Mercy hospital. Her Lieutenant had instructed everyone the night before to meet at 8:00 AM, or at least that’s what she thought she had said, Maria paused in the doorway as she looked around the room and saw the whole squad comfortably seated. She panicked and quickly glanced at her watch and it read 7:45 AM. Was she late? It seemed she couldn’t catch a break.
Today was an unusual day, typically a prisoner transfer wouldn’t require this many detectives, but this case had been a tough one. After Simpson had been convicted of serial rape and murder in the first degree he managed to break free in the courtroom and lunged at the judge. It took four police officers to bring him down and needless to say, he suffered a few injuries along the way, some of those injuries may be construed as excessive force, but Maria was pretty sure no one would feel sorry for the jack ass. One PP decided it would be a good idea for the squad to escort him out of the hospital as a show of positive publicity. It had been good detective work which caught Simpson and while it may have been an inconvenience for everyone, deep down they were proud of the job they had done.
“Lieutenant, I’m so sorry, I thought we were supposed to meet at 0800?” She mentally chastised herself for once again reciting military time; it was a hard habit to break.
“I did. Grab a seat Upshaw. We’re waiting to hear when Simpson will be released.”
Maria couldn’t gauge the Lieutenant’s mood based upon her response. She had been with the squad for nearly two months and she still felt like an outsider. Six months since leaving the Army and four months since joining the NYPD. Rollins and Carisi were friendly, but they kept Maria at arm’s length. Fin and her had bonded a bit over their shared experiences in the Army, but he made it clear she may have out ranked him in the Army, but in the world of the NYPD he was her superior.
Maria sized up the room and came to the realization she was the odd man out, everyone was seated on one side of the room with no vacant seats. She decided to make the best of it and grabbed one of the empty chairs along the window.
Truth be told, Maria was having a hard time fitting in, her husband told her to give it time, to give everyone a chance, and to allow them to get to know her. Maria mentally shook her head, easy for him to say, he has a cushy job teaching at West Point while she was still trying to figure out how to adjust to civilian life and her new career. As each day passed, she questioned if this was the right place for her.
Just then the hospital administrator walked into waiting room and scanned the room, “Lieutenant Olivia Benson?”
Liv took off her glasses which had been perched on the tip of her nose and stood to shake the administrator’s hand, “I’m Lieutenant Benson, can you tell me when Simpson will be discharged?”
“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the doctor is stuck in surgery. It will be at least another two to three hours before he’s able to examine Simpson and release him.”
Liv looked at the rest of the squad in disbelief and then back to the hospital administrator, she had to be kidding?!?!?! “There isn’t another doctor who can discharge him? He’s been in here two weeks already. After what he did to those women he needs to begin serving his time.”
Liv had seen quite a lot in her thirty plus years as a member of the NYPD police department, but this guy scared her. She likened him to Lewis and thought she’d never see another psycho such as him, but sadly no matter how many sickos they put away, there always seemed to be a fresh supply of new murders and rapists to replace them. She wasn’t sure if she was becoming softer in her old age or the scum were becoming more mentally depraved?
“I know Lieutenant, but my hands are tied. The doctor was adamant that she be the one to release Simpson. I wish I could be of more help.”
Liv was exasperated, how much more prison time could Simpson avoid? She threw her hands up in disgust and turned towards her squad, “you heard her, looks like we’re going to be here awhile longer.”
In unison, the detectives began shrugging off their NYPD jackets and bullet proof vests. No sense wearing them while they waited. It’s true the vests were tremendous life savers, but they were uncomfortable as all hell.
Everyone, with the exception of Maria, began texting or calling someone to rearrange their schedules. Maria really didn’t have anyone to get in touch with. She didn’t have many cases she was working on and of the ones she was on, she wasn’t the lead detective on any of them. She could text her husband and bitch to him, but he’d only remind her that there were worse things in life, such as transporting a wounded soldier in Kandahar Province. She shook her head to erase the memories, he was right; there were worst things in life.
Maria grabbed a discarded magazine from a nearby chair and settled in for a wasted day.
* * * *
Rafael stared at his phone and reread the text message from Liv for the fifth time:
[Sorry, but I need to cancel on lunch today. We’re stuck at the hospital with the prisoner transfer. Catch up with you tomorrow.]
In the past a text message such as this from Liv wouldn’t have mattered much, but lately Rafael found himself daydreaming about her more and more. Recently he found himself stopping by the precinct for the smallest of reasons, just so he could see her. Something inside of him stirred whenever she was around him.
He rubbed his hands over his face and tried to shake the new emotions he was feeling. Even though they butt heads more times than he could count, he respected her passion for her job and over time their friendship had become something more. What it was he couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but far too many times he caught himself staring at her lips and wondering what it would be like to kiss her?
He recalled that night at Forlini’s and how physically close they got. The warmth of her body next to his had done things to him and made him think about her differently.
He did have a plea deal he needed to discuss with her, but it wasn’t high on his priority list and if he recalled, the defense attorney was on vacation so it could wait. Orrrrr, he could swing by the hospital and go over the file with Liv?
Maybe she’d see through it?
He looked at the text message once more…
* * * *
Liv looked down at her phone and saw Rafael had responded to her. She wasn’t expecting him to, but she also had hoped he would. Their dynamic had changed recently. Sure they were good friends, but things had progressed to a new level about two weeks ago. After Simpson had been found guilty, and following everything that had gone down shortly thereafter, the squad, including Rafael decided to meet at Forlini’s to celebrate and blow off some steam.
All was good until Rollins began ordering shots…
Liv could remember calling Lucy and asking her to stay overnight, but after that things got a little fuzzy. She and Rafael got a little handsy…correction, very handsy. At one point she remembered Rafael sitting on the bar stool, she was standing between his legs, with her back to him while he massaged her shoulders. It was heavenly, not to mention it left her a little hot under the collar.
The two of them were the last to leave the bar and to say they were drunk would have been an understatement. They had been laughing at something the bartender said, but for the life of her she couldn’t remember what it was. Before she knew it, it was 2:00 AM and they had stumbled out to the sidewalk. Rafael had been the more sober of the two and had sense enough to hail her a cab. When the cab arrived, he opened the car door and that’s when he kissed her goodnight. Not a friendly hug and a kiss on the cheek sort of a thing…nope, it was a full on kiss square on her lips. Sadly, no tongue, but that kiss had sobered her up quicker than five cups coffee ever could have! And when he pulled away, he looked at her with a half lidded smile and said ‘good night.’
She worried their first interaction at work after that night would have been awkward, but it hadn’t been. It was as if it never happened. She assumed Rafael was too drunk to remember, but she had noticed him coming around her office more often.
She felt they were at a juncture, someone needed to make a move beyond a drunken kiss…
* * * *
Maria happened to look up from her magazine at the moment Liv received a text message. She was sure it had nothing to do with her son because her reaction wasn’t one of concern. Nope, it was something else. She wasn’t quite sure, but she had a hunch. Liv looked at her message, took off her glasses and re-read the message, suppressed a smile, and then appeared to blush. If Maria had to guess, she suspected it was from the ADA, Rafael Barba. True she hadn’t been with the squad long, but she had been picking up on “tells” so to speak. Especially the one from two weeks ago. They had all met at a local bar after the Simpson verdict and Maria had noticed an air of electricity between them. She hadn’t stayed long that night and she was fairly certain they weren’t involved sexually, but she was sure there was some sort of chemistry going on between those two. Interesting…
Liv glanced up and met Maria’s eye’s, she knew from Maria’s background that she had a degree not only in criminology, but in psychology too and had come highly recommended from the Army as a profiler – meaning, she was very good at reading people. Before Liv could acknowledge Maria, she had diverted her eyes back down to her magazine. Liv was unsure if that meant she knew what was going on or if she had no interest?
Liv cleared her throat and looked around at no one in particular, “Barba is going to stop by to discuss the SoHo Peeper, so if you have anything else to discuss with him, now would be a good time.”
Rollins looked up from her phone with a frown that screamed ‘He’s coming here? Now? Why?’
Liv feigned innocence, “like I said, he’s coming over here to discuss another case and a possible plea deal. I don’t expect him to be here long, so it’s not like you have to talk to him. I just thought if you had something to discuss, maybe you could take care of it now rather than updating your Twitter account…” Liv motioned with her eyes down to Rollins’ phone, as in ‘remember, you’re still on the clock.’
“Copy that Lieutenant.” Rollins then glanced over towards Liv as she sent a text back to Rafael, and then nudged Carisi with her elbow and winked at him when he looked at her. The two of them had an unspoken conversation with each other within a matter of seconds.
* * * *
After texting Liv a number of times to find out exactly where she was, Barba arrived at the waiting room. He hesitated for a moment wondering if this was really necessary…maybe a tad bit too much? Although, he reasoned it was too late now to exit stage left as Liv looked up the moment he stepped into the waiting room. She smiled warmly at him and Barba knew he was done in for. His heart beat faster and he was embarrassed by how she made him feel.
Both Rollins & Carisi stood and made room for Barba and also took this as an opportunity to stretch their legs and escape, “anyone need anything from the cafeteria?” Rollins asked.
Maria had wanted to join them, but they were another couple she had questions about. Were they just friends? Were they together? After two months of watching them interact she still couldn’t tell what was going on between them, but one thing was certain, Carisi was smitten and Rollins was milking it for all it was worth. “Can you grab me a bottle of water and a newspaper if they have one?” Maria asked after tossing her magazine to the side. She was beyond bored and really didn’t want to get sucked into playing a game on her phone.
Rollins nodded her head and then looked towards Barba and Liv to see if they needed something, but they were already deep in conversation.
Maria caught Rollins and Carisi nudging each other as they stepped out into the hallway. She wasn’t the only one who suspected something was going on between ADA and the Lieutenant…