Making her way to the ADA Barba’s office Detective Olivia Benson looked at her watch. It was late, but she guessed he might still be at his office and maybe Barba would join her for a bite to eat and a few drinks. It had been a few weeks since the Alex Munoz case and it had taken some time for him to find his feet again. She’d given him some space, knowing he would find her if he needed to talk. She was grateful for their friendship and grateful he trusted her enough to seek her out when he was troubled. She questioned herself if she did the same and she knew the answer. She was still holding back, though she let him in more than she did others. She found it easier to talk to him than she did Cassidy. That in itself was rather telling, but she wasn’t ready to face what that meant yet. All she knew was that she wanted to spend some time with her friend. She’d missed him. Sure they had worked on cases these last few weeks and they’d talked, but it was all case related and not once was there any time for just the two of them. Though she suspected Barba had some part in that. He seemed make sure not to linger, to make sure he wasn’t left with her alone in the room. It surprised her, but she knew not to push.
Approaching his office, where Carmen had apparently already left for the day, Olivia noticed the office door was open. She also heard laughter. She smiled, it had been a while since she’d heard him laugh. Clearly he had company, which meant her plans were falling through. She was about to turn away when she was noticed.
“Detective.” His familiar voice sounded.
“Counselor.” She greeted him. He only every called her Olivia or Liv when it was just the two of them.
He was surprised to see her at his office. They currently weren’t working on a case together. Unless there was a new case, but it seemed strange if they needed him already. “What can I do for you?”
She stared at him for a while. He’d lost his suit jacket and as he so often did, he’d loosened his tie. Today he was wearing a blue suit with a light grey shirt and a blue and pink tie. As always he looked great. It was then that a man appeared behind Barba, the man he was laughing with. It took her a moment to recognize him. It was Eddie, his childhood friend and the man he’d protected against Alex Munoz.
“Detective, you probably remember Eddie Garcia?” He introduced his friend.
“I do.” Stepping forward she shook the man’s hand. “How have you been?”
“Good.” Eddie smiled. He glanced at his friend before turning his attention back to the detective. “Thanks to Rafi.”
Olivia smiled at the nick name that was said in such an affectionate way. “Good to hear.”
Eddie looked from his friend to the detective and back again and felt a bit uneasy. Clearly they needed a moment. He stepped passed her to give them some privacy. “I’ll... I’ll see you downstairs, Rafi.” Before he left them though he put his hand briefly on the detectives shoulder and whispered a thank you in her ear.
His whispered words surprised her, but she recovered quickly enough. “No, don’t leave on my account. I’ll leave you two to it.” But as she looked back, Eddie had already left. She stepped further inside Barba’s office and saw him putting on his suit jacket.
Turning back to Olivia he took a moment to look at her. It had been a while since he’d given himself the time to really look at her. He’d been avoiding her, still feeling vulnerable after the Munoz disaster. Not that she would ever judge him. He still felt exposed and this strange need to built his walls back up. It wasn’t fair. Though for all that he’d shared with her, she wasn’t that willing to share part of herself with him. That was also a reason why he hadn’t spend that much time with her, well better said, he’d been avoiding her. She really didn’t deserve that. She looked unsure, uncomfortable even but she was pushing past that. “You going out with Eddie?”
He nodded. “We’re getting something to eat and some drinks.”
“That’s nice.” She paused for a moment. “You’ve been keeping contact?” She knew before the Munoz case he hadn’t been that much in contact with his childhood friends.
“Yes. He’s always been a good friend and he understands. He doesn’t blame me. We’ve been catching up.” He stepped closer to her. “Was there anything you needed?” He asked once more.
She shook her head. “No, I just wanted to ask if you maybe wanted to get a bite to eat, but you’re busy.”
Her offer surprised him. He wanted to take her up on it. “You’re more than welcome to join us.” He suggested.
She shook her head once more and laughed. “Enjoy your time with Eddie. We’ll catch up some other time.” She turned around ready to leave. Just as she was at the door, she felt a hand wrap around her wrist.
His thumb softly caressed the inside of her wrist. “You okay, Liv?” He asked from behind her. That what he’d seen in her eyes unsettled him.
“Yeah. Don’t keep Eddie waiting.” She refused to look at him feeling his eyes on her back as she left.
Downstairs she hoped to walk away without bumping into Eddie. He apparently had other ideas.
“Detective Benson.” Eddie said, standing outside on the curb.
“Mr. Garcia.” She tried to walk away, but he was having none of it. He caught her by the arm and made her stop.
“Thank you for having Rafi’s back.”
“It was nothing.”
“No, that’s not true. Rafi’s always had a smart mouth and it often got him in trouble. I didn’t mind protecting him. He was my friend. I knew he would go places and he did. He was always very determined, very goal oriented. But it hasn’t been easy for him. It’s been a lonely road. I’ve worried about him.” He paused for a moment to see if he had her attention. “I don’t have to worry anymore, now that he’s got you.”
She really didn’t know what to say. She was taken aback by his words. “I...”
“He talks about you.” Eddie grinned. “Talked about how you were there for him during Alex’ case. That you grounded him when his world was crumbling. Rafi isn’t one to share easily. He’s had a tough childhood. He’s been trying to get back to his feet again and I suspect in doing so he’s pushed you away somewhat.” He saw her small nod. “Rafi’s a smart guy, but at times a foolish one too. Especially when it comes to his feelings. Just don’t give up on him. He’s great guy.”
“I won’t.” She whispered. She gave him a nod before she walked away.