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The bullpen was bustling when she walked in a little anxious for her first day. “Can I help you?” A tall blond detective, who was probably about her age, asked as she looked around the room for the woman she had interviewed with. “I’m looking for Lieutenant Benson.” She replied. “Her office is this way.” The detective said, leading her to a door and knocking on it. “Come in.” She heard from the other side. “Hey Lieu, uhh...” he said as he opened the door turning to her when he realized he never got her name. “Ellis Hayes.” She said answering his unasked question. “Ellis Hayes is here to see you.” He announced returning his attention to Benson. “Great, send her in.” Benson replied, motioning her in.

“Sit.” Benson said, gesturing to a chair across from her desk as Ellis entered her office. “Did everything with my transfer come through ok?” Ellis asked as she sat down. “It did. It says you’ve taken off with FMLA for the last year. You are good to come back?” Benson asked. “I am. That’s part of the reason I moved back here to where I have a support system to help out with everything.” Ellis replied. “Are you the primary caretaker for a family member?” Benson asked. “Yes.” Ellis smiled, it wasn’t a lie but it wasn’t exactly the truth either. “Ok. You’ve actually come at a really good time. We’re short staffed and just got a pretty big case. Are you up for pretty much just jumping in?” Benson asked. “That how I work best.” Ellis replied. “Great. Let’s go introduce you.” Benson stood and walked toward her door as Ellis followed.

Everyone was gathered at a whiteboard going over evidence from their current case when they walked up to them. “This is Detective Ellis Hayes. She’s joining us from upstate.” Benson said, as Ellis gave an awkward wave. “This is Detectives Amanda Rollins, Dominick Carisi, Odafin Tutuola, and our ADA Rafael Barba.” Benson gestured to the different people as she introduced them. Ellis noticed the ADA look her up and down and felt her face flush. “What do you say we fill her in.” Benson suggested. They informed her of the details of their case and Benson partnered her with Carisi for the time being.

“Hayes.” Benson called as she exited her office with a file. “Yes, Lieutenant?” Ellis said, looking up from her computer. “Can you take this over to Barba’s office?” Benson asked. “If you tell me where it is.” Ellis smiled, taking the file. “I can. I’d send someone with you but they all seem to be out at lunch.” Benson smiled.

The directions Benson had given her had been pretty straightforward and she found Barba’s office easily. “Hi. I’m Detective Hayes, I have a file for Mr. Barba.” She said to the woman sitting outside of his office. “I’m Carmen, I’ll let him know you’re here.” Carmen said as she got up. She had poked her head in his office for a moment before motioning her in. He was sitting at his desk when she entered. “Do you prefer Ellis or Hayes?” He asked looking up at her when she approached. “Honestly, Ellis.” She smiled, noticing the corners of his lips pull up slightly. “Here’s the file Benson sent.” Ellis said, holding it out to him. “Thanks.” He said, setting it on his desk. “Have you had lunch?” He asked. “I’m sorry.” She replied taken aback by his question. “It’s the meal between breakfast and dinner.” He smirked. “I know what lunch is.” She smiled, finding his smart ass remark slightly amusing. “I’ll rephrase then. Would you like to have lunch, with me?” He asked. He wasn’t smiling but there was a twinkle in his eye and she didn’t know why, considering this was only her first day on the job and she felt it was a terrible idea, but she agreed.

“Liv said you came from upstate New York?” Barba asked after they had ordered. “Yeah, Rochester. I moved there for school and then just kind of stayed.” Ellis smiled. “What brought you to the city?” Barba asked. “Family.” Was her simple answer. It was the truth and the whole explanation would take too long, also not something she typically shared when first meeting someone. “Ok.” He smirked, slightly humored by her vagueness. “Did you grow up here?” He continued to inquire. “In Queens.” She smiled. They made a bit more small talk before she asked. “Why’d you invite me to lunch?” “Because I find you appealing.” He smirked. “Appealing?” She questioned, lifting a brow. “Would attractive be a better word choice?” He smiled as he chewed a bite of food. “It’s kind of inappropriate considering today is my first day.” She replied. “Probably, and yet here we are.” He smirked. “You’re pretty confident.” She stated taking a sip of her water. “You like it.” He jested. “I do, but that is not the point.” She smiled finding him more attractive than she wished she did at the moment. “Then what is the point?” He asked. “Do you like kids?” She inquired, ignoring his latest comment. “Not really.” He replied. “Oh.” She sighed, her expression becoming less playful. “I mean I like Liv’s kid but I’m not going to start volunteering at a youth center or anything.” He said in an attempt to take back his last statement. “Yeah, I get that.” She smiled.

Barba picked up the tab when the waiter brought the check. “I invited you.” He said with a smile when she tried to interject. “I’d like to take you out to dinner sometime.” He suggested, as he helped her with her jacket. “I’m not sure that’s a good idea.” She sighed, turning to look at him. “Can we see how you feel after we work together for a few weeks before you say no?” He suggested. “Alright.” She agreed, desperately wanting to have met this man at a different time in her life.

“How was your first day?” Libby, Ellis’s mom, asked when she walked in the door. “Not too bad. The other detectives seem alright, not that I really know them yet, but I get a good vibe.” Ellis smiled, walking across the living room to scoop up the sixth month old baby who had just learned how to sit up steadily on her own. “How was Lena today?” Ellis asked, pulling the little girl in to kiss her cheeks. “She was great. I’m so glad you two are here and I get to love on my little sunshine all day.” Libby smiled. “Me too mom. Thanks for letting us move in and helping out with her during the day. I don’t know what I’d do without you.” Ellis replied, giving her mom a hug. “Hey, I love having you here.” Libby smiled.

Lena had been put to bed so Ellis made her way to the kitchen for a snack. “You want company?” Her mom asked as she sat at the table. “Sure.” Ellis smiled. They sat in silence for a moment. “If I wanted to date... how would that work?” Ellis asked. “Are you sure you’re ready for that?” Libby asked. “I’m not sure, but I’d also like to know it’s an option at some point.” Ellis smiled. “I’m fine with watching Lena while you go out as long as you let me know in advance.” Libby smiled. “Ok.” Ellis replied, her smile not going unnoticed by her mother. “You have someone in mind.” Libby asked. “The prosecutor from our case asked me out. I don’t know if I’m going to except but it’s nice to know someone is interested.” She smiled.