The squads day had been brutal. Actually, their whole week had been brutal. There were three murders of high profile businessmen in a row, and all of them could be linked to a single woman, but the squad hasn't been able to prove anything. Chief Dodds has authorized two separate sting operations - Amanda and Fin attended one of her yoga classes, and Carisi tried to flirt with her at a bar. All of which were unsuccessful and Fin hasn’t stopped complaining about how sore his back was after being forced to do an intensive two-hour session of hot yoga. The team was meeting back at the SVU squad-room to regroup. Chief Dodds was particularly eager to hit the ground running, SVU’s inability to close this case was proving to be just the right amount of bad press for him to get involved. Dodds even dragged Rafael into the investigation, forcing him to placate the media all week long.
Rafael had ordered lunch from the deli across the street, hoping that food may subside some of the tense and snippy attitudes swarming around the office today. Raffael had eaten enough meals with the team that he knew what to order for everyone. He especially knew what to order for Olivia, they usually coordinated their orders. They liked to share sides; half fruit, half fries. Rafael craved fries but felt guilty whenever he ate a whole order by himself. Olivia never bothered herself with feeling guilty about such things, but she didn't mind sharing with Rafael. He always looked so cute when he would sheepishly sneak a fry from her plate that she could never say no when he asked her to share.
“We have to get another undercover operation underway immediately.”
“It’s not going to work - she is too perceptive” Carasi bit into a carrot and emphasized his statement by swinging his arm dramatically.
“No, we were just infiltrating the wrong parts of her life” Amanda interjected, quickly crossing the space of Olivia’s office to hand Chief Dodds a file she’d been holding onto.
“I’ve done some research into the - business - she's been the most tied too, and while she has no visible financial stake in the company she’s been spotted there four times in the past week. I did some more digging and found that one of her aliases is listed as the holder of an account that owns the building.”
“How the hell did we miss this initially” Dodds grumbled
“An oversight - with all the chaos, we never got to go back and check her aliases against all of the businesses she's been associated with.”
“Alright,” Dodds straightened his suit jacket and pushed the file back into Amanda’s hands. “How do you think we should handle this?”
“Everyone except Liv has already been undercover. If she's as smart as we think she is, she’s bound to recognize us if we show up again.”
“Especially because of how much attention Fin drew at that hot yoga class” Carisi joked, earning a glare from Fin who was trying to quietly eat his turkey sub.
“Understood. Lieutenant Benson can easily go undercover.”
“There's a slight problem with that,” Amanda interjected, “you see, this business-” Amanda stammered and glanced over at her boss and the ADA who was shifting closer and closer to each other on her office couch, “well, you see its-“
Dodds was quickly losing his patience, “Out with it Detective.” he said, efficiently cutting off the young detective.
“It's a sex shop.” “Excuse me?” “The business - she owns a sex shop. Well actually, the description online says its a ‘high-end sexual consultant service for loving couples.’”
“I see,” Dodds huffed. “We’ll have to get her a partner.”
“Liv can’t very well go into the shop alone.”
At the mention of her name, Olivia’s attention momentarily drifted from her lunch up towards the conversation that her team was having, “What can’t I do?”
“We’re sending you undercover” Dodds retorted impatiently.
“We are?” Confused, Olivia stared at her superior awaiting explanation.
“Yeah. Liv, you're the only one the suspect doesn't know.” Amanda handed the file to her boss, smirking as she saw Rafael steal an extra fry while Olivia was occupied looking over the file. “Oh, alright, I see.” Olivia murmured, handing the file back to Amanda “Well done Detective.”
“Let's get her a partner as soon as possible, I want this to start immediately.”
Carisi pried himself off the wall, walking back towards the team's lunch set out on Liv’s desk.“We could call Vice, see if they have anyone they'd be willing to loan us - they’d have to be the right age range through” Olivia glared at him and the detective retracted. “Sorry boss — it’s just, got to be believable.”
Amanda was about to call Vice and ask for any available officers but the small giggle that Amanda looked at the pair, nestled comfortably together, sharing food. “Barba should do it!” The room went still; Dodds raised his eyebrow disapprovingly, Fin let out a small chuckle, and Carisi spluttered the sandwich he was mid-bite in. “Come on! It’ll be perfect, they already act like a married couple already” Rollins gestured towards the pair who were leaning in strictly eating their lunch on the couch. They paused, both of their hands reaching into each other's meals; him in the fries, her in the fruit. Olivia pulled away first, placing the chunk of melon back on his plate and settling further into the couch. “I’m sorry what?” Olivia crossed her arms over her chest, attempting to regain her authority from her smirking employees.
“I’m saying that you and Barba make the perfect couple,” Amanda stated matter of factly, crossing her arms and challenging her superior. Olivia’s heartbeat quickened, and she detested how much that observation affected her. Olivia could feel Rafael tense next to her, and she was becoming more and more uncomfortable. “Amanda -”
“You’d be believable. She might just fall for it.” Dodds observed the pair from his spot at the corner of the office. Olivia glanced at him briefly, his stare causing her a sense of vulnerability she wasn’t comfortable with. “This might work” the Chief concluded, and with another once-over, at Rafael, he added, “And he’s the appropriate age.”
“She’s four years older than me!” Rafael exclaimed, Olivia, swatted at his arm, scowl still firmly in place. To his benefit, he had the foresight to look sheepish.
“Okay, everyone prep tonight. I want you both on the field tomorrow.”