A/N: Disclaimer Law & Order: SVU not mine.

I haven't written in a while, and SVU characters were speaking out to me. Not sure if the muse thinks this is finished or not, sadly not much character interaction but there's some. If anyone feels like being a beta for svu work let me know.


Olivia Benson woke to nothing. No, birds announcing the morning, not a snoring sleeping man beside her –Brian was out on the job again. No noisy neighbors; just nothing. She stared at the ceiling, listening to the emptiness around her. She stared through the semi-darkness of the bedroom, up at nothing in particular. She couldn't help but tilt her head to the side and eye out the time on the bedside clock.

02:03

"Right," she says under her breath. Like it makes a difference to how her night is going to go from here. She could try to go back to sleep, she'd probably get a couple more hours even if it's a restless sleep but suddenly she feels wired for no reason and just knows, her gut instinct if you will, that she won't be getting anymore sleep tonight.

"Or today," she grumbles, as she pushes the covers back and rolls herself slowly up right. Sure, she had no plans to sleep now, but it didn't mean she needed to be in a hasty rush to get anywhere. No, she was probably just going to end up going over closed case files and double checking the paperwork was complete in front of the television, letting a coffee or tea she didn't need to make go cold. The background television noise helped.

She'd been sitting on the side of the bed a while now, she could feel her toes starting to go numb with the cold, she wriggled them to relieve the tingles and glanced at the clock again.

02:21

She blinks at the jump in time.

'Maybe that means tonight will be a quick one, then,' she thinks, and she can't help but feel a small sense of gratefulness for that. So it doesn't surprise her that by the time she's pulled some socks on, her fluffiest dressing gown and made a quick trip to the bathroom that she finds herself staring at the kettle like it's some kind of alien object. And her attention finds itself attached to the view out of the window, at "The city that never sleeps". And while she knows how true that statement can be, she's just as sure that tonight for some odd reason almost everyone is asleep, everyone but her.

So before she's realized that she's made an unconscious decisions she's changing into day clothes, smart dressing even, though she's pulled a thick coat over herself and doesn't bother to look in any mirror to see if she approves of the outfit. It's not that kind of night anyway.

As she pulls out her phone and handbag, she takes another glance at the clock, she can't help it tonight.

02:54

'Times' speeding up again,' so she doesn't even think and places her feet into the first pair of shoes she finds and walks right out the door, closing and locking it behind her in swift movements. She heads to the elevator, presses the button, with luck on her side it's already there. And when the doors close in front of her, she has a moment to take in the fact that she's breathing deeply, almost trying to catch her breath like she's run after a perp, down a short side street. The idea causes some creases in her forehead and she tries to calm down.

She's managed it by the time the elevator doors ding open again. And when she steps out the cool air helps even more. She doesn't know where she's going but she keeps her wits about her, and has her eyes almost constantly watching out through the darker areas she passes by. No sense, in being caught unaware even if she's trying to leave her mostly empty apartment behind her right now. She's not made it to Sergeant for nothing.

It's when she hears the music and sees the light spilling from a doorway a patron has just exited that she feels like she's more at ease. When she looks up at the bar's sign she barely suppresses a small smile, it's the old bar they used to frequent, Elliot and the old gang. A rush of warm memories brings a real small smile and she can't help but push the door to gain entry. And when she orders a drink and sits in a booth near the back even the less pleasant memories of when Jo Marlowe was here doesn't dampen her newly found mood. She's content, she realizes, to dwell on even old moments past because it means that she's not sitting in her empty, noiseless apartment dreading even the silence of her sleep.

So she sits there a while, listening to the live music nursing her drink.

When somebody blocks her light, and utters something that she can barely make out, "Out of all the bars, and all the nights it has to be this one…" something in the voice registers vaguely at the back of her head.

Her trance like state is broken and she's ready to tell the stranger hovering at her left elbow to get lost, in the most polite way of course. She looks up into a familiar face, and finds herself stopping short of whatever was on her tongue.

The man before her, Rafael Barba stands there, alternating his staring at her and the picture behind her head on the wall, still obviously undecided what his further reaction should be. She hasn't seen him since the last case they decided to put forward, the comedian case. And whilst they'd come to a somewhat reasonable stance with the other, they hadn't really had a conversation since that day, over a week ago now.

Anger starts to simmer to the surface of Olivia's thoughts and into her emotions, but she pushes it down and tries to appear unsurprised at his appearance, and takes a swig of her drink, which she realizes is the last bit. So she'll have to face him then, she suppresses the sigh and counts to ten.

"So we're trying the ignoring card then are we?"

She can't help but let a grimace out, he found his footing before she did, of course he did. He's grown not to be shocked, he can't help his client if he gives his hand away too early. One of the best damn, poker faces in the business they say. So she briefly wonders why she can usually read him so well.

It would have been interesting to see them face off against each other in a courtroom in some alternate universe; she entertains the thought for a moment, causing the counselor to curiously look at her when she laughs out loud.

"Care to share the joke with the rest of the class, Sergeant?"

She smiles softly, and shrugs her shoulders, "Nothing important." She glances back over his shoulder to the band, they've paused for a set break and she has nothing left to drink, so she stands up and Barba stands back a little to make room for her.

"Need a refill?" she gestures to his almost empty glass in hand, he nods, finishing his drink, she notices his tongue dash across his lips wetting them.

"Why not?" he takes a seat in the booth she's just vacated and places his jacket next to him, "I'll keep your spot for you." He grins tentatively back up at her.

She just makes her way back to the bar, and wonders if she'll see his proper grin anytime soon. She can't help but feel a small amount of guilt that she's not seen it for nearly a week, that wide shark grin that she was almost getting used to. The few times she's crossed paths with him, he's been almost dour. Brief interludes to check whether there was enough to proceed with any of the cases the detectives had mentioned to him in passing in the hallways, but not enough to come across as angry. She hoped it was just a way of him trying to remind her that he was serious about his job, their job. And she knew that he was, even when she first met him with his flashy suits and glib remarks she knew that he took his job seriously otherwise he would never had made it to their SVU department, or really he would never have lasted with them for this long.

She had her doubts about him at the start, sure. She knew he could handle cases well, but the kind that they had to deal with on an almost daily basis? No, that was a different kind of test. She had seen him waver once or twice but then he stood up, even with the noticeable circles under his eyes he made it through those tough cases. So she'd tried to teach him a thing or two, at least from her point of view.

And when she was walking back with their drinks, with him in her eye line, she figured that, she hoped that, she'd learnt some things off him in return.