Learning to Fly

Chapter One

Set between the end of season 17 and the first episode of season 18.

The sunlight streaming through his bedroom window woke Barba, he reached to the spot on the bed next to him to find that it was empty, she had left. He wasn't surprised she had to get home to Noah, he just wished she had said goodbye. He reached for his phone to call her when he saw the note she had left.

I am so sorry. We shouldn't have. Please don't call me, I need some space. I'll call you when I get back from Paris. L

"Damn it, Liv." He said as he crumbled the note and threw it across the room. His mind went back to the night before when he opened his apartment door to find a crying Olivia Benson standing before him.

"I didn't know where else to go." She said as he opened the door, he didn't hesitate to wrap an arm around her and guide her into the apartment. He settled her to the couch and left her long enough to come back with two glasses of scotch.

"I'm glad you came here." He finally said as she took a long sip from the glass he offered her.

"Dodds is dead and it's my fault." She finally said as tears fell down her face.

"Liv, don't do that. It wasn't your fault it was Gary Munson's fault plain and simple." He told her placing his hand over hers.

"I left the house and Munson killed him. If I had sent him out with the children he would still be alive." She continued.

"And you could be dead, Liv, Noah could be without a mother." He practically yelled at her.

"Do you think that I haven't thought about that? It makes me question my judgment even more. Maybe I chose to leave him in there to protect myself, maybe I can't do my job anymore." She continued.

"Liv, stop you cannot do this to yourself. You did not set Dodds up you to be killed you were protecting the children, you did your job. You have to believe that." Barba begged her.

"I don't know anything anymore Barba. I am just so tired of everything, the last year has been so hard, if it hadn't been for Noah I don't know how I would have made. I even feel like I lost you as a friend somewhere along the way. " As she said those last words she stood and walked across the living room.

"You never lost me Liv, I've been here the whole time." He said quietly.

"I had to find out you have been getting death threats for months from Carisi, those aren't the kind of secrets friends keep from each other." She yelled at him.

Anger flashed across Barba's face as he stood and crossed the room towards her. "You are going to lecture me on keeping secrets, when you are sleeping with Ed Tucker. The man who has made a hobby of making your life a living hell and belittling you any time he can."

Oliva stared at him speechless his words felt like a slap across the face. "Well, thank you Barba, I see now that coming here was a big mistake and I wasn't wrong to feel that I had lost you as a friend." She said as she gathered her things to head for the door.

"Liv wait." Barba said, "I'm sorry"

Olivia turned back to him tears streaming down her face, "I don't think we have anything left to say to each other. Ed is taking me and Noah to Paris, we are leaving in the morning."

It was Barba's turn to feel like he had been slapped across the face. The woman he loved was getting ready to leave for Paris with a man who didn't deserve her.

"Do you love him?" He asked her his voice shaking.

"I don't see how that is any of your damn business." She answered him.

"Just tell me that you love him. If you can look me in the eye and tell me that you love him and what you have with him is all you've ever wanted then I will support you." He challenged her.

"Why do you care if I love him or not? Why does my relationship with Ed bother you so much?" She asked trying to avoid his question.

"Answer my question first." He said standing only inches from her in the doorway.

"He makes me feel safe and cared for, maybe that's all that I need." She said not looking him in the eye.

"That's not enough for you Olivia and that's why it bothers me. You deserve love the kind of love that scares you to death because you know it will change your world forever. You deserve to be loved by someone that makes you feel alive, that knows how strong you are and never lets you forget it. You don't' need someone to care for you Liv, you need someone to help you fly." There was virtually no space between them as he said those words.

"I want to fly Barba, but I'm scared. I am so scared of falling." She whispered turning her head up, her lips so close to his that he could feel her words as she spoke them. He wrapped one arm around her waist and placed his other hand on the side of her face.

"I would never let you fall alone Liv, I promise." He told her before covering her lips with his own. Barba had intended it to be soft and tender but the instant their lips touched all the emotions they had bottled up for months came to the surface. The feel of Oliva's tongue crossing his lips sent a fire through him as he pulled her closer. Like everything else in their relationship that kiss was a battle of passion and wills.

"You should go." Barba whispered huskily when they stopped for a minute both of their hearts racing. Oliva pulled him back to herself.

"I don't want to go." She said looking directly in his eyes before kissing him again.

"Are you sure?" He asked pulling back to see her answer.

"I want to fly." She told him as pulled back from him enough to begin unbuttoning her blouse to show him she was sure.

Barba moved her hands, "Let me" he said as he took over carefully undoing each button and then slowly pushing the shirt from her shoulders. He stepped back long enough to take in the sight of her breast covered only by her black lace bra.

"Come on." He said softly taking her by the hand and leading her towards his bedroom.

The next words he heard her say was when she called out his name in pleasure, not Barba but Rafael. For the first time ever in his arms as they made love she called him by his first name. Afterwards they didn't talk or answer the million questions that lay unspoken between them, they just held each other as tight as they could, maybe they were both afraid the other would run away. After a while he felt her body relax and her breathing slow down, Olivia Benson was now asleep in his arms.

"I love you Liv." He whispered before closing his eyes.

That was last night though and now it was morning and she was gone, leaving for Paris with Tucker.