A/N: Hey, sorry for the long wait. Here is the epilogue! Thank you for sticking with me through the story.
Epilogue: Take Your Time
It had been six months since the incidents with Darner and Delilah. Delilah took a plea deal. She would be serving several years in prison and be put on the sex offender registry for possessing footage of the rape. Richter resigned from his position as a judge and was not charged. He wrote a letter to Barba, apologizing for his part in the kidnapping. Barba never responded to him.
Barba had just had his first full week back as an ADA. Olivia felt like it was a good reason to celebrate. Barba's therapist thought it would be good for him to reward himself for getting so far with his recovery. They planned a quiet dinner at a nice restaurant.
Barba sat at a circular table with Olivia, Carisi, Fin, and Rollins. Carisi was telling a mildly entertaining story that Barba was only half listening to. It was obviously more meant to impress Rollins than to interest anyone else. The waiter came around with water for everyone. Barba's glass was filled in front of him. The soft splash of the ice falling in with it made his chest tighten.
Barba was suddenly pushed head first into icy water. He could even feel pieces of ice hit his face. The water filled his nose making it burn down into his throat. He flailed trying to get away but Richter held him steady.
Barba took deep breaths, refocusing on the present. He was safe. Delilah was in prison and Richter was nowhere to be seen.
Carisi was continuing with his anecdote as the waiter walked away. Barba carefully rolled up the sleeve of his shirt. He prayed that everyone was too wrapped up in what the young detective was saying to notice him. He reached into his glass and pulled out the three pieces of ice that were floating around in it. He put them in his napkin and folded the cloth over.
Fin glanced away as soon as Barba looked back up pretending not to have seen him. Barba pressed his lips together as he felt a wave of shame wash over him. Luckily, Rollins and Carisi hadn't noticed a thing. Olivia managed to meet his eyes with her worried gaze. She had seen it.
It hadn't taken long after Barba got out of the hospital for him to realize that ice was a trigger for him. As soon as it touched his lips he would feel like he couldn't breathe. It took an embarrassing amount of time for him to calm down. His therapist was still trying to help him work through it.
At this point, enjoying his time out with everyone seemed like an unreasonable goal. Feeling Olivia's eyes on him made him want to sink into the floor. He just wanted to get through dinner without having a panic attack.
After dinner Barba stood outside waiting for the cab he had called. Olivia offered to wait with him.
"You don't have to wait with me," Barba told her as he crossed his arms over his chest. "I am a grown man." He wasn't ungrateful. It was the feelings of shame and helplessness that came along with it that caused him to speak up.
Olivia shrugged. "Maybe I just enjoy your company," she countered.
It was a thin excuse considering how closely she had been watching him the past six months. She came to check on him more often than necessary, invited him over whenever they saw each other, and whenever they were in the same room together she watched him with this nervous expression on her face. It was like she was expecting him to break at any moment.
"You've been enjoying my company a lot since Delilah… since I got out of the hospital." He turned to face her. She looked away for the first time in six months. The words came out like an accusation even though he hadn't meant them to. "Why? I'm in therapy. Even if I do have a setback I have a support system. Or do you think I'm not strong enough to get through this?"
Olivia's eyes widened. "You know that's not what I think of you. You are one of the strongest people I know."
"Then what's going on? Because, to be honest, your hovering is not helping."
A sigh left her lips and Barba could suddenly see the weariness clear on her face. "I feel responsible, Rafael. I feel like I should have seen the type of person Delilah was before she hurt you. I guess I'm trying to overcompensate. I apologize for being too over the top with trying to keep an eye on you."
Barba frowned as he reached to put a hand on her arm. "You are one hundred percent not responsible for anything that happened to me, Liv. There is no way you could have known what kind of person Delilah was. And I appreciate your concern for me but I need to be able to deal with things without feeling like I'm being watched. And you need to not worry yourself sick over me. I will be okay; and if I'm not, I'll let you know."
Olivia nodded. "Rafael Barba, always the voice of reason."
They hugged and Barba waited for the suffocating feeling that would force him to pull away from her prematurely. It didn't come and he breathed a sigh of relief. They pulled away when the hug came to its natural end.
Knowing that Olivia would be there for him no matter what and that she would listen to his concerns lifted a weight that had been on his shoulder for the past several months. She had become his sanctuary when he thought that he had none left.