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Mixed Signals

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“Does he have to be such an ass?” Lydia Coleman huffed as she plopped to sit at her desk across from Rollins. “He just takes some time to warm up to.” Rollins replied with a smirk. “Believe me, when he wins this case you’ll appreciate him.” She added. “I doubt that.” Lydia said rolling her eyes. Benson had decided to take a chance on Lydia when she volunteered her services as a victim advocate. Lydia was attending Columbia working on her Doctorate in Psychology and needed an internship, not to mention case studies for her dissertation. Her past experiences had included being the director of a rape crisis center in Queens and the NYPD in that burrow had spoken highly of her involvement in previous cases. She had hit it off almost immediately with the detectives but the snarky ADA was another story.

“Lydia. I know you just got back but Barba’s asking if you can run another file over to his office.” Liv said as she walked out of her office. Lydia rolled her eyes and looked at Rollins. “He’s doing this on purpose.” Rollins bit back a chuckle as Lydia stood. “Is there anything else he could possibly want before he has me make a third trip?” Lydia asked as she took the file from Liv. “I’m not really sure he even needs this one.” Liv smiled. “I thought you guys were opposed to hazing?” Lydia huffed. “You make it too easy for him to push your buttons.” Carisi piped in from his desk.

Lydia gestured to the door as she approached Carmens desk. “Can I just go in?” Carmen nodded knowing Barba had sent for her. “Is this everything?” She asked handing him the file, not quite over the argument they had had earlier about her coddling the victim. “Hi to you too Lydia.” He replied taking the file. She glared at him and pursed her lips to show she wasn’t amused. “I’m going to prep Amy tomorrow and I thought you might like to be there so I wasn’t... how did you put it... such an ass to her.” He said dryly. “What time?” Lydia replied. “Three.” Barba said pushing his bottom lip up and lifting his eyebrows as he looked at her over the file she had just brought him. “Meet in the courtroom or here?” She asked, ignoring the look he had given her often over the short month she had known him. The look that despite how much she despised him made her stomach do little flip flops. “Courtroom.” He said dismissively, returning to the file.

Barba spent the better part of three hours going over Amy’s testimony and prepping her for questions the defense might ask. “How you holding up?” Lydia asked as Amy sat next to her. “I’m just ready for this to be over.” Amy sighed. “You’re doing great, and win or lose facing him will help you process and move forward.” Barba gathered his things but listened as Lydia spoke with Amy. “How long does it take to move on.” Amy asked. Lydia exhaled. “That’s different for every person.” “Do you have an average? Or a timeline of stages I’ll go through. I like timelines.” Amy sighed. “Just the typical stages of grief. The only problem is you’ll go through them at your own pace and you may bounce back and forth between them.” Lydia said. “Yeah.” Amy sighed. “You’re good with them.” Barba said after Amy left, catching Lydia off guard. “What?” “Can I not compliment you?” Barba smirked. “Just didn’t expect it.” Lydia grumbled.

The trial was long. The prosecution had rested and the defense was set to present their case the following day. “You could have called a character witness.” Lydia grumbled as she and the detectives entered Barba’s office. “It would have been redundant.” Barba replied dismissing her statement. Lydia rolled her eyes but didn’t say anything else. Barba noticed and added. “Don’t worry, I’ll find an opening on cross.” He smirked at Lydia. “You’re confidence is alarming.” She replied. “I thought confidence was supposed to be an attractive quality?” Barba teased. “Not when it borders on narcissistic.” She quipped back getting a chuckle out of Rollins.

Barba did as promised and managed to get Stuart, the defendant, to show his true colors on cross. Lydia would never admit it to him but he was good. She would have held that against him too but it had resulted in a guilty verdict and she was happy for Amy. She was working on some paperwork when Liv sat a file on her desk. “What’s this?” She asked looking up at Liv. “Barba asked if you could bring that to him when you finish. No rush. He left his home address to take it to if it was after five thirty.” Liv replied. “Is that even appropriate?” Lydia whispered to Rollins after Liv went back in her office. “It’s Friday, even Barba deserves to leave early every now and then.” Rollins said glancing up from her work.

With her paperwork finally finished Lydia glanced at the clock. “Six.” She sighed to herself, picking up the note with Barba’s home address. “Great. you found me.” Barba said, answering the door inviting her in before she could just hand him the file and leave. “Your place is nice.” She said as she entered. “Thanks.” He said taking the file from her and setting it on the kitchen island. She made her way to look out his floor to ceiling windows. “You have a great view.” “Yes I do.” He said. She didn’t notice he was staring at her.

She turned to leave but he had made his way to stand next to her. “I should go.” She blushed. “You can stay for a drink if you like. I was just about to pour myself one.” He moved slightly closer to her as he passed her on his way to his bar cart. “You are old enough to drink?” He asked, giving her a smirk as he poured himself a scotch. “You know I’m twenty seven.” She replied, rolling her eyes. “You never told me how you are.” Barba said. “Yes but I know you’ve seen my resume. Your too type A to let an intern have anything to do with your cases unless you had thoroughly vetted them.” She pointed out. “Actually I thought you were thirty based off your graduation dates.” He was smiling with his eyes and she felt a small amount of satisfaction that she had been right.

“So... you want a drink?” He asked again. “One drink couldn’t hurt.” She replied. “What do you want?”He asked. “What do you have?” She replied. “Whiskey, vodka, gin, rum... honestly it’s pretty stocked.” He said. “Vodka soda.” She replied, rolling her eyes slightly causing him the smirk. “Do I really annoy you that much.” He asked handing her her drink. “I don’t know. How many times are you going to make me run back and forth between the precinct and your office next week.” Lydia said dryly. “There wouldn’t be much fun in it if I told you a head of time.” He was fighting back a smile. “You’re such an ass.” She said looking at him over her glass as she took a sip.

“Your really twenty seven?” He asked handing her round two as he sat on the couch next to her. “Why do I look older?” She asked pretending to be offended. “Younger actually, I just... I mean... I just added four years to your undergrad graduation date and then eighteen to that.” She grinned as he stumbled over his words, having never seen him do so before. “Yeah, I skipped first grade, took concurrent and AP classes in high school so by the time I got to college I graduated in two in a half years having taken full loads each summer.” She said dismissively. “That takes dedication.” He said almost sounding impressed. “More to do with necessity. We didn’t have a lot growing up, so I saved every dime I earned for school. It was cheaper to pay for concurrent classes and AP exams than college courses. It’s also cheaper to cram as many classes into a semester as you can than to pay multiple semesters tuition.” She explained.

“What teenager saves for college? You must have been a nerd.” He smirked. “Like you have room to talk Mr. Harvard scholarship.” Lydia chuckled. “I really wish you were thirty.” He sighed. “What is your deal with thirty?” She asked finishing her second drink. “Nothing.” He replied getting them both a refill. “How old are you, Mr. Barba?” She asked, teasingly saying his name. She had stood and walked over to look out his window again. “Forty.” He replied standing next her as he handed her the drink. “I can’t get over your view.” She stated, gazing out the window. “Me either.” He sighed. She turned to face him. He was standing close. Probably too close to be appropriate but at the moment she didn’t mind. “Barba?” She said. “Yes.” He hummed and her stomach started with its damn flip flops again. “Were you looking at me just now?” She asked softly as he stepped even closer to her. “Maybe.” He smirked pulling her into him and pressing his lips to hers.

She wrapped her arms around his neck returning the embrace briefly before pulling her lips from his. “You know I hate you right?” She said, slightly out of breath. “Sure you do.” He smirked. “God you’re an asshole.” She replied, smiling playfully as he pulled her to his lips again. Barba guided her backwards as they kissed toward his bedroom. Her fingers had his shirt unbutton before they reached his bed. She pushed his shirt off his shoulders, his suspenders too. He pulled her dress shirt off over her head before unfastening the front of her dress pants. Their lips barely parted as they removed each other’s clothing. He laid on top of her as his kisses moved down her neck, tonging a nipple as he made his way further down, teasing her inner thighs before eliciting a soft moan when he finally made contact with her most sensitive spot. She gripped his hair as he expertly made her squirm. He kept tonging her even after her back arched and she rather loudly signaled her release. He kissed up her body gently as he climb between her legs, his lips softly making contact with hers again.

She could feel him teasing her opening. “Barba...” She panted. “Yes.” He hummed between kisses on her neck, his hands roaming freely. “You have a condom?” She whispered the question, mostly because she was afraid his answer would be no and she hadn’t decided if it was deal breaker, despite the fact that it should be. He pulled to the side slightly, rummaging through his nightstand. Once he found what he was looking for he sat up between her legs and rolled the condom on. Her eyes widened slightly when she saw him. She assumed at least some of his confidence had to due with what hung between his legs. He didn’t allow her much time to over think before his lips were on hers again and she could feel him pushing into her. She moaned against his kiss as he slowly filled her, giving her a moment to adjust to him before he began moving in and out of her. Her moaning became louder as she approached climax again. He listened to her as he felt her arch up and tighten around him. Once he knew she was close to finishing he allowed his own release, grunting a few last thrust before collapsing on top of her, panting kisses on her neck. He disposed of the condom before crawling in bed beside her. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her against him.

Lydia stirred around five am. She didn’t recognize where she was at first, then the previous nights events came back to her. “Shit.” She muttered to herself. She looked next to her and saw Barba sleeping soundly. She quietly snuck out of bed, grabbing her clothes on the way out of his room. She dressed in the living room, locking the little lock on the door knob as she snuck out his apartment. She kicked herself as she rode the subway home, trying to figure out when she became so stupid that she’d sleep with someone she worked with. Someone she hated. Then she smiled as she thought about the night she spent with Barba, wondering if there was anything he wasn’t good at, kicking herself again for not actually hating him.