ADA Barba was studying notes from the pile of cases on his conference table. Because the office was swamped with an unusually high number of upcoming court appearances, he'd asked Detective Carisi, who was about to finally graduate from Fordham Law School, to take a look at some of the case work. Carisi had proved to be skillful at zeroing in on problems and making sound suggestions, something Barba would never have imagined when the mustached detective first joined the unit and irritated Barba whenever he commented on a case..
Barba's cellphone rang. He looked at the screen and frowned not recognizing the number.
"ADA Barba," he answered unhappy at the interruption.
"Mr. Barba, this is Celia Vazquez, Noah's teacher. I tried Ms. Benson's number several times but it went right to voicemail. You're listed as Noah's secondary contact so I…"
"I'm Noah's father. Olivia Benson is my wife. What is it, Ms. Vazquez?" Barba interrupted, annoyed that the kindergarten teacher didn't get right to the reason for the call.
"Uh, well, there was a fight on the playground. Noah hit one of his classmates and we need you to pick him up," she said sounding a little apologetic.
"Dios mio! Is Noah hurt? Was there some provocation?" asked Barba glancing at Sonny. Noah was not hot-tempered and usually a very sweet boy.
"Noah's not hurt, but he's been crying uncontrollably. I believe the other boy, Steven, made some disparaging remarks about Noah being adopted," she replied.
"Over adoption? I'll be right down," said Barba. He jumped up, unrolled his shirtsleeves and pulled on his jacket. He turned to Sonny. "Noah got in a fight at school. I have to go get him. Liv's giving her class on domestic violence and turned off her phone. Can you stay and continue reviewing these?" He gestured to the towering pile of folders.
"Yeah, sure," replied Sonny surprised, but happy to be entrusted with that much personal information about Barba's family life.
"Kids can be so mean when they find out someone is adopted. Good luck."
Barba gave him a grateful look.
As he exited his office suite he told Carmen that he was leaving and pulled out his phone to dial Liv's number. He left a voicemail briefly stating what had happened with Noah and that he was going to the school. He wasn't sure when Liv would be done with her lecture and be able to listen to the message.
After a short taxi ride Barba reached the school. The security guard unlocked the door and asked Barba for ID. Impatiently Barba handed over his court ID and asked where the administrative offices were located. He tried to compose himself but he was steaming over the situation. However. he knew he should get all the details before doing anything rash.
The principal wanted to discuss the fight, but Barba raised his hand and stopped her. "I need to see Noah first."
She lead him to the nurse's office. When Barba opened the door, red-faced Noah ran over and grabbed his leg. "Papi, I'm sorry I hit Steve, but he..he,,he," Noah hiccupped.
"Shh, shh, tell me what happened, mi hijo." Barba sat down and pulled Noah onto his lap. He held Noah's head to his chest and ran his fingers through the boy's hair to try to calm him.
"Papi, he said I was 'dopted. He said my real mommy and daddy gave me away because they didn't love me." Noah started to cry again. Barba pulled out his pristine handkerchief and wiped Noah's eyes and nose.
'Oh, I wish Liv were here to handle this,' he thought. 'I can't tell him that his mother was a prostitute killed by a pimp and his father was a murderer shot by the police. In fact, does he ever have to learn this?'
Barba began. "You know you were adopted. When you are older we have a story to tell you, but just know that Mommy and I love you very much just as much as we love Jamie and Dan and the new baby sister your mom is expecting. Your mom was so excited when you officially became her son. She had a party and invited all her friends to celebrate your adoption. When your mom and I got married I was so happy to become your dad."
Barba kissed Noah on the cheek and held him tighter.
He stood up not anxious to talk to the formidable principal. But he got a reprieve. Liv opened the door and rushed in. She hugged both of them.
"OK, let's find out what they want to do and what's going to happen to the ignorant kid who started this. Noah, wait here for a few minutes while Papi and I talk to the principal."
Noah nodded and Barba smiled, following Mamma Bear Liv out of the room.