Barba was losing it. He was staring at his desk for the past ten minutes and he could not think of a reason to stop. There were things he should be doing, but the dread inside of him was halting any productivity. The case files in front of him were gruesome and bloody. He would even goes as far as to say inhuman. Four mutilated and sexually assaulted corpses were looking back at him. Oh, and all four of them were children. Children. He did not handle child cases. He had told the team that time and time again, but they seemed to ignore that every time a case came up.

Barba could handle a lot of things, but kids was not one of them. He could not get those pictures out of his mind. It was hard detaching himself from the horrific images that he would have to look at, day in and day out. He didn't like the responsibility. He didn't want to have to look the parents in their eyes if the verdict came back not guilty. He didn't want to interrogate and question people who lost a child. He did not want to talk about children in a legal sense. These kids should be out playing in the park or complaining about homework, not being discussed in court.

"Please, Barba. We need you with this one," Rollins had said.

"Come on councilor," Amaro had even asked for this case.

They didn't get it. They never have. He wasn't one of them. He wasn't on this team of theirs that they so loved to flaunt in his face. When he was in court, it was him and him alone. They would sit behind him, sure, but when he lost it was on him. He was the one that failed. He was the one who was constantly taking cases that a lesser ADA could handle just to keep his quota up. As much as he admired them for their "it's the right thing" motto, he could only help as long as he was employed. So that made him tired, made him drink a lot of coffee which made him so wired that he had trouble sleeping and thus the cycle continued. Barba had never felt more alone.

Barba was just about to pack up and try again later when his phone buzzed.

My apartment, 30 min. -OB

He raised an eyebrow at the text.


Team meeting. With food. -OB.

He was about to send a negative reply when his stomach growled. He threw the files in his briefcase and started towards Olivia's apartment.

Olivia opened the door and smiled before letting him in. Barba could hear laughter coming from the living room and he handed Olivia the wine before taking off his jacket and hanging it on the coatrack near the door. The detectives were all sitting amongst the various chairs and couches. Amaro was bouncing Noah in his lap, who upon seeing Barba stretched out his tiny arms towards the ADA.

"Someone likes you, councilor," Amaro laughed handing over the child. Barba smiled back and wrapped his arms around the baby who loved playing with his suspenders. Barba had watched Noah a few times on the weekends when Olivia had to go into the office and the babysitter was unable to come out. The little one could always make him smile, which at this moment in time was something Barba was extremely grateful for. A washcloth was draped over Barba's shoulder and a bottle was dangled in front of his face. He grabbed it and took that as his cue to feed the boy. The detectives kept on talking about gossip going on in the precinct and other various topics while eating the pizza that was on the coffee table. Barba noticed they left two giant slices of his favorite type for him. Noah eventually fell asleep in his arms, and Olivia quickly moved the baby to his crib in the other room. Barba took the time to eat his pizza and relax, waiting for the team to bring up the case. A few hours passed and the case never came up. Rollins was the first to go, needing to let Franny out. Tutuola and Amaro left shortly after leaving Barba to help clean up.

"When you invited me over, I thought you wanted to tell me something about the case," Barba said.

"Nope. We decided that we wanted a team pizza night," she replied, smiling.

"Thank you for inviting me then. I really needed a break."

"You say that like you are surprised."

"Flattered is more of the word I'd use."

"I don't know if everybody would think SVU is flattering."

"You are an odd bunch."


"What?" Barba asked.

"We are an odd bunch."

"That's what I said."

"No it's not." Olivia paused. "Rafael, are we are not on the same page here?"

"I'm sorry?"

"Why wouldn't you have been invited? I said it was a team meeting, the team includes you."

"Oh." Barba was just confused.

"Do you really not see that?"

"You guys get the perp, and I try him. It's separate." Barba shrugged.

"No, Rafael, it's not. We get the perp, we win and we fail. We, as a team. We are there for each other and if one of us needs help with a case, then we are there for him."

Barba looked down at the dish in his hand. He took a deep breath. "Liv, I'm having trouble with this case."

Olivia smiled. "We know." Barba wanted to run and hide. He had never felt so embarrassed, admitting weakness. "And that, Rafael, is why Fin drove across town to your favorite pizza place."

Barba smiled."I'll have to thank him."

"No you don't. That's what teams are for."

AN: Reviews make me happy! Seriously though, reviews are really helpful in developing my writing and inspires me to write more. - TOL