this is not an entirely unfamiliar sight:
there are people everywhere. reporters, civilians, officers, firefighters.
bang. a gunshot.
"two fatalities!" someone yells.
there is a terrible screaming as rollins emerges from the house, blood on the whole left side of her face. carisi greets her, gathering her into his arms and guiding her towards the nearest EMT. fin gently tugs her gun from her hands.
olivia realises, as someone wraps an arm around her waist, that she is the one screaming.
she cannot find it within herself to stop.
"walk us through the series of events, detective rollins."
she shifts, picking absently at the bandage on her face that covers a scratch. there's a blooming bruise over her right eye.
"i entered the house wearing both a vest and a gun. the suspect - the uncle of the victim - would not lower the knife at the victim's throat until i took my vest off and put my gun in my holster. we took it nice and easy at first, but once he saw that i was acting as a distraction for the victim to escape he became angry and launched himself at me, causing this bruise. he attempted to violently grope me while he had me pinned, but the girl kicked him from behind." she takes a deep shuddering breath.
"and then what happened?"
"he got really pissed about that and s - snatched her up. he killed her. stabbed her. i shot him, but it was too late."
"thank you, detective. we find that your version corroborates the camera that was filming from the outside and you are cleared of any criminal charges. you're free to go."
she gives a shaky, watery pathetic reproduction of a smile before bowing her head as they file out.
carisi pokes his head in a few minutes later.
she looks at him, posture slumped; expression defeated.
"can we get some ice cream? i need a distraction," she asks meekly. and so they do get ice cream, they do, and carisi makes sure to request extra whipped cream in her sundae (the way she likes it) and they sit in his car and amanda cries into the crook of his neck. she shakes like a leaf and the sundae is forgotten but carisi doesn't mind.
amanda's all that matters, he thinks to himself as it rains.
and dammit, it pours.
something claws at olivia's throat as she sits in her office. she's been staring blankly at her desk for the last five minutes, just ... empty.
a knock at the door barely shakes her from her reverie, but she glances up just long enough to see barba in the threshold. he blinks almost owlishly at her.
"benson, it's almost eleven. what are you still doing here?"
"i could ask you a similar question," she responds softly.
"have you eaten? you need to eat, liv. you can't just starve because of some imaginary burden."
she stares at him, mouth puckered for a solid minute and a half before a ball of anger falls out.
"how dare you. first of all, barba, you are not my mother, it's not an imaginary burden, it's not - i killed mike, i killed that little girl!" she barks. barba flinches at her volume.
"olivia. mi querida. did you pull the trigger that killed mike dodds?"
"no, but i shouldn't have - have left him alone," she whispers.
"that's not what i asked, benson. did you or did you not pull -"
"i get it," she snaps. "i get it, okay? so i didn't pull the trigger. but if i hadn't left him alone, if i hadn't-"
"dejalo." barba commands, a glint in his eye as he approaches her. he places his palms on her shoulders and then slides them down to her arms and then gathers her against his chest.
"abuela says no puedes cambiar el preterito y no puedes vivir en el preterito. so stop it. stop now."
she doesn't say anything, but her breathing continues to slow, and so he falls quiet; knowing she understands. barba eventually takes a seat on the floor, and he rocks olivia to sleep.
he kisses her temples every now and then, stroking her hair and singing her arrullos.
it's okay, he tells himself. we're okay.
it's just a little white lie.
(maybe one day, it won't be, but until then; he'll continue to hold olivia.)