Disclaimer: Characters aren't mine – they belong to Dick Wolf and NBC.

Author's Note: This is just a silly story that popped into my head after listening to Raúl sing Begin the Beguine. References events from Merry Christmas, Mr. Barba so read that one first. Not sure how long this will be, possibly just a couple chapters.

Chapter One

When they begin the beguine

It brings back the sound of music so tender

It brings back a night of tropical splendor

It brings back a memory ever green.

-Begin the Beguine, Cole Porter

It's 3:00pm and Olivia's finishing up some paperwork at the precinct. It's a gloomy winter day, bitterly cold and very little sunlight. One of those days where she just doesn't feel like doing anything. It's the holidays and, oddly enough, it's been quiet. That's a little unusual because usually this time of year brings out all the crazies.

She's on edge just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Because it always does.

All of a sudden, she feels her cell vibrate. There we go.

Liv looks down and Barba's name is flashing on her phone. That's unusual, she thinks, we're not working a case together. I wonder what he wants.

Something bad is going to happen. She just knows it.

"Benson here."

"Liv, it's Rafael."

"What's on your mind, counselor?" She leans back in her chair, bracing herself for bad news because that seems to be largely what's delivered over her phone. "Is there a problem?"

"No, not at all. Do you have plans tonight?" He asks, a little abruptly.

Okay, didn't see that one coming.

"Only spending time with Noah." Olivia smiles as she looks at the picture of her foster son on her desk. He was really such a wonderful little boy. And she loved him. So very much. He was the piece of her that had been missing and she hadn't even realized it until she'd held him in her arms. Oh, baby boy, you will never lack love. Never.

"What are you doing for dinner?"

"I was planning on takeout." Although the thought of Chinese for yet another night makes her stomach roll. Maybe she'd get pizza...

"Forget that – I'll take you out. I know a place." She stares at the phone. Is he asking her out on a date? Benson's not sure how she feels about that. The evening they had spent together at Christmas had been wonderful. But he hadn't really said much to her since then and maybe that spark between them had all been completely in her head. She'd been the one to initiate the kiss after all.

Still waiting for that other shoe to drop….

Plus, he really isn't asking as much as he is telling. That grates on her nerves.

So she hesitates and he senses it.

"Is it Noah you're concerned about or us?" That's the unsettling thing about Barba. He's quite direct and sometimes she's not sure how to react to it.

"What us?" She asks, a little bewildered. What the hell? Is this the other shoe? Forget the fact that she'd been wondering about this "thing" earlier.

"That's what I want to know." Liv can hear a faint smile in his voice. Slightly exasperated, she realizes that Barba, in a very awkward way, is asking her out. But whether it's actually a date date or not, of that she's unsure.

She's not even sure that he knows what it 's unsure, he's unsure…they're both unsure.

Boy, this is going to be fun. Fucking Barba. He's so cryptic sometimes.

But she's willing to give it a chance.

"Let me see if Lucy's available to watch Noah tonight." Olivia smiles at her phone.

"You know where to reach me. Give me a call when you find out." Before she can say anything, he's hung up. For a moment, she just stares at her phone.

Well, that was the oddest "conversation" in the history of forever. And, God, Barba can be so bossy.

Shaking her head, she rolls her eyes as she dials Lucy. And decides that maybe she needs to have a discussion with Rafael about his bedside manner, so to speak.

Poor choice of phrase, Olivia...


Benson purses her lips and looks in the mirror. Sometimes being a woman was the fucking worst thing in the world and dates, well, she'd rather walk on hot coals. With sharp knives under her fingernails. Because that'd be less painful. God, she thought, give me a perp in an interrogation room. That'd be more fun than this. At least there the roles were clearly defined, she knew exactly what to do. There was no uncertainty there. None of this nebulous "is this a romantic date" or "is this a just going out to dinner/no romance date?"

And she remembers exactly why she avoids the dating scene.

But it's too late to back out now.

She's pulled out an old dress from the closet; one of her favorite ones. It's got spaghetti straps, cut low in the front, and scarlet red. It clings to her curves like a second skin. A smile crosses her face as she remembers Amaro's look of appreciation when he saw her in it. "Oooohhhlivia." He had said and she had blushed. But she had walked a little taller for the rest of the evening.

What woman doesn't appreciate being appreciated? And Benson would definitely never forget the look in Nick's eyes when he saw her in it….

So she'd never gotten rid of it. It's an older dress and slightly out of style but she loves it. When she wears it, she's all Olivia and Sergeant Benson's tucked away. Sometimes she needs that. Needs to put away the pain, the trauma, the weariness of the job and just be…Olivia.

(She can't help but imagine the look on Barba's face when he sees her in it. )

Out of the closet, she grabs a pair of pumps. Spritzes on some perfume that an over-eager salesclerk had said was better than sex…whatever that meant. The woman had been trying so hard to make a sale so Benson had forked over a ridiculous amount of money for the 1.7 oz bottle. It did smell good. But better than sex? That was a bit of an oversell.

She managed to refrain from telling that to the clerk, though.

This is just an evening out with a friend, Benson reminds herself.

God, she didn't even want to think about sex with Barba.

Although she'd be lying if she hadn't wondered (just in passing, of course) if he'd be as domineering in the bedroom as he was in the courtroom. Momentarily, she's intrigued. And is curious if she's been the only one who's wondered how all that caffeinated energy translated to the bedroom.

Sexual napalm, anyone?

God, it's been way too long since she's had sex if she's going down that road. She ignored the flash of heat that went through her body.

Pull it together, Olivia.

Dinner and dancing, he had mentioned on the phone when she had called him back.

Dancing? Barba DANCES?

He's turning out to be full of surprises. First, the singing to Noah, then the dancing.

Next thing he'll be telling her that he moonlights as a Broadway star during his off-hours.