Thanks a lot to Liza, who gave me inspiration, and Emily, who betaed this! :)
I hope you guys like it, leave me your opinion in the review section!
One Call Away
I'm only one call away
I'll be there to save the day
Superman got nothing on me
I'm only one call away
Charlie Puth – One Call Away
Olivia Benson groaned as she rolled over and pulled her blanket over her head, trying to block out the sound that had ripped her from her sleep seconds ago, but the buzzing of her phone wouldn't stop. Blindly groping for it, she tried not to look at the clock, but she did anyway, her foggy brain exasperated that someone felt the need to call her at the ungodly time of 3:30 in the morning. Right now, she didn't care who was calling, she just wanted to tell that person that they officially had a new enemy.
Her fingers were shaking a little bit as she swiped over the screen and the mobile nearly fell out of her hand as she hurried to lift it to her ear, croaking: "Benson?"
"Uh, Olivia, hey... I'm really sorry to disturb you at this time, but I just noticed something."
"Noticed something? You're supposed to sleep, Barba," Olivia growled, brushing some of her hair out of her eyes. "It's in the middle of the night! I'm tired! Why are you still up?"
"I may have had one or two cups of coffee too much while preparing for the grand jury tomorrow... Now I can't sleep."
"And what did you notice?" She sighed heavily, hoping that whatever he wanted to talk about would be a matter of a minute. Her head was spinning because she'd been ripped from her slumber so suddenly, but still she didn't want to end the call – he was a friend, after all, and she hoped that he really had a valid reason to disturb her at this time of the night.
"To our stomach, all potatoes are mashed!"
Olivia's mouth opened and closed a few times, then she hissed: "What? Are you serious?"
"Yes, absolutely! Think about it, it's absolutely true!"
"Rafael Barba, I have the feeling that instead of too much coffee you had too much scotch! Go to sleep now, or I'll personally shoot you tomorrow!"
"I'm sorry, Liv, I swear I won't do that again..."
Rafael sounded a tiny bit disappointed, but Olivia was way too tired to care about that.
"I hope you'll stick to that."
And with that, she disconnected the call and let her head fall onto her pillow, moaning in delight as she closed her eyes and soon sank into the arms of sleep again.
Rafael couldn't deny that he was sometimes a workaholic, especially when he was preparing for an important trial, but he still didn't like to be showered with work randomly. That was also the reason why he was glaring at the huge stack of files on either side of his desk; it seemed like they were cutting him off from the sunlight, as he wouldn't see just that until he'd made his way through this chaos. A colleague had been suspended as he'd messed around with important cases due to a drinking addiction, and now Rafael's cases had doubled. The paperwork would take ages, and he could already feel a headache approaching.
As his mobile buzzed, he just hoped that it wasn't yet another case, but he was able to relax as he spotted the name on the display.
"Olivia, what a surprise. What can I do for you?"
He desperately tried not to sound too stressed as he didn't want her to feel like her call was an inconvenience – it wasn't, though he probably shouldn't spend too much time conversing with her. The files wouldn't disappear on their own, no matter how unfortunate that was.
To his surprise, a similar tone filled Olivia's voice as she answered: "I'm drowning in work and felt like I was losing my mind, so I just needed to hear a familiar voice."
Rafael knew that the SVU were currently hunting a serial rapist who barely left any traces, and that she was frustrated about always being one step behind.
"My desk is too full as well. I feel like we should just shove the work at our deputies and go for a holiday."
He was only joking, but for a moment, the idea did sound rather tempting. They were friends, going on a holiday together would surely be fun...
"I'm voting for the Caribbean. It's warm, the beaches are endless and there are enough cocktails."
Her laugh made him feel relaxed for one moment in which he could pretend that his desk was empty and that he had enough time to listen to all the things that were running through her mind. But unfortunately, the files made their presence known to him again as he leant back in his chair a bit and all the folders came into his field of vision. Frowning, he said in an apologetic voice: "I'm sorry, but I need to get something done now. If I haven't gone insane by six this evening, how about we go for a beer?"
"And talk about our holiday?" He could practically see her wink, and a small smile lifted the corners of his mouth.
"Good. Will you pick me up?"
"Sure. See you then," Rafael answered, the smile widening before he disconnected the call and threw a glance at the clock hanging at the wall, counting down the hours before throwing himself at the paper war on his desk with new-found motivation.
It was a quiet Saturday noon, and Olivia enjoyed her first free weekend in ages. Noah was just as excited as she was; since he'd woken her early in the morning, he'd been babbling about the visit at the zoo that Olivia had promised him. And now that the time to leave was approaching, she could barely keep him calm; she was trying to prepare something for lunch, but he kept calling for her to show her the pictures he was drawing.
"Noah, I know you're looking forward to the zoo, but you can show me the pictures later, okay?" Olivia smiled as she watched Noah beam and grab his crayons again – it was a joy to see him so happy, and in these moments she realised how much she missed him sometimes. She loved her job, but since she'd adopted Noah, she felt like it wasn't the most important part of her life anymore. Though it was tough to be a mother sometimes, she didn't miss the time before he'd come into her life. It was different, but a good kind of different – as if there was a new kind of balance.
Just as she grabbed a packet of toast from one of her cupboards, her phone buzzed, making her heart jump, fearing that there might be a new case that would destroy all her plans.
"Liv, oh god, I'm so glad I reached you!"
Olivia blinked in confusion; Barba sounded rushed and a little bit desperate – something she had never heard from him before. Wondering what was going on with him, she carefully asked: "What happened?"
"I'm on a date," was the very short and inconclusive answer the ADA was giving her, and she tried to ignore the little bit of jealousy that was suddenly simmering in her stomach.
"That's nice, but why are you calling me?"
She tried to make her voice sound neutral, and she was sure that he hadn't detected the hard undertone that she hadn't been able to keep back.
"I need to ask you for a massive favour. I need you to give me an excuse to get out of here!"
For one moment she was sure that she was imagining this – Rafael Barba not being able to talk himself out of a situation? She would definitely make sure to remember this moment so she could tease him with it.
A small, slightly devilish smile played around her lips as she responded: "Where are you?"
"In the restroom of the bistro you recommended to me, please, hurry up, Liv! I'll go back in now."
With that, he hung up, and Olivia looked at the phone with one cocked eyebrow before she realised that she'd just agreed on getting him out of a date without knowing how or why. Her mind was racing as she hurried to dress Noah – the bistro wasn't far from here, and it was on the way to the zoo. Before they left, she instinctively grabbed her gun and badge, throwing them into her bag – you never knew if those items could become useful.
Only about ten minutes later she parked her car in front of the bistro, having thought of a strategy by now. At first she'd thought about storming in while pushing Noah in his stroller, acting like Barba was her cheating husband, but she'd dismissed that idea before she'd even started the engine. She had no idea how he really felt about his date, and she wouldn't be the one destroying something.
And so she grabbed her gun and badge, strapping them to her belt before getting out of the car. She was sure that she would be in and out in less than two minutes if he played along, and Noah was dozing off, so he wouldn't even register that she was gone.
The moment she walked through the door, pushing her trenchcoat back a little bit so her badge and gun were clearly visible, she spotted Barba at a table in the corner and his face lit up as he saw her. Marching towards him and the woman sitting with him, she tried to look businesslike, even though she wasn't in her work clothes – jeans, sneakers and a hoodie weren't the kind of clothing she felt the most confident in. Especially not when Barba's date was looking like a supermodel.
"Lieutenant Benson! What a surprise!"
She nearly snorted as he acknowledged her presence and jumped from his chair a little bit too fast – outside the courtroom he really wasn't the best actor. But at least his date didn't seem to detect the relief that flashed through his green eyes.
"Counselor, I'm very sorry to disturb your Saturday lunch, but we have new, strong suspicions in the Smith case and require your assistance," Olivia said in a very serious tone and hoped that the look she gave the woman at the other side of the table was apologetic and not triumphant as Barba grabbed his coat.
"I'm very sorry, Jane, but this is important. It was nice, I'll call you!"
He released a breath as the door of the bistro shut behind them and they walked over to Olivia's car, him casually putting his hands into his pockets. She could barely keep herself from smirking as she asked: "So, why did you need me to rescue you? I mean, she looked gorgeous, I felt like a tramp compared to her."
The moment they got into the car, Noah woke up, waving in excitement as he spotted his Uncle Rafael.
"Oh please, Liv, as if that is important. You look great, and I owe you for what you did. I was set up with her by a friend of my mother, and she decided on the name of our first-born before we even got the main course."
Rafael ran a hand over his face, shaking his head while Olivia chuckled and steered the car into the traffic. In the backseat, Noah was babbling about the zoo and that he wanted to see the giraffes, and Rafael grinned at the boy.
"So... do you want to come with us?" Olivia asked carefully, biting her lip as soon as the words had come out of her mouth – maybe that had sounded a little bit too hopeful? "I mean, you owe me, so how about you pay for the zoo?"
She half expected him to politely decline, but as her gaze flickered over to him, he smiled at her from the passenger's seat, nodding. "Sure. Did you hear that, Noah, amigo? We're going to see the jirafas!"
The afternoon was one of the best she'd had in quite some time. Rafael was carrying Noah on his shoulders so he could pet the giraffe that was stretching its neck towards them. They ate together and he bought Noah a plush giraffe as a gift, and it didn't feel odd to Olivia that everyone was looking at them as if they were a family. She just enjoyed his company, and hoped that he would accompany them again in the future.
Rafael leaned back on his couch with a content sigh, switching on the TV with the remote he'd grabbed from his coffee table. He'd just come home for his first afternoon off in two months, and while loosening his tie, he looked forward to watching TV and doing nothing at all. No trial to prepare, no meeting to attend, no files to work through... just hanging around on his couch and ordering a pizza later.
The very moment he finished the thought, his mobile started to ring with the special ringtone he only had for two people – his mother Lucia, and Olivia. On the screen, Olivia's name was blinking, and he leaned over to grab it from the table, wondering why she would call him. She wasn't on duty herself, having sprained her ankle two days ago.
"Olivia, aren't you supposed to be resting?"
"I am. I'm sitting on my couch and I have absolutely nothing to do. I'm bored," she answered, and Rafael smirked, knowing exactly what she was trying to say without actually sounding like she was begging him to drop by. He didn't need long to think about her silent request.
"I'll come over," he responded curtly before ending the call. After slipping his phone into his pocket, he fixed his tie and stood up, preparing to leave.
Thirty minutes later, he was knocking at her apartment door, holding a bag of Chinese takeaway and a bottle of wine. Olivia smiled in relief as she let him inside, limping into the living room behind him.
"I'm so glad you're here. Lucy is going to a fun park with her cousin and offered to take Noah along, so I'm feeling like I'll die of boredom."
"I supposed that it wouldn't matter if I hang around on my couch or on yours," Rafael answered, forcing her to sit down before she could limp over to the kitchen to grab two wine glasses. "Do I have to show you the definition of 'rest'?"
She gave him a crooked smirk, laying her injured foot on the pillow resting on the coffee table; then, she took a look at the boxes of food he'd brought, noticing that they were from her favourite takeaway service. Sometimes she asked herself why he kept remembering all those little details about her – her favourite places for food, the wine she liked most... and he even had brought a DVD of one of those movies she liked to watch when she was sick. Also, she found that with him, she wasn't so annoyed about protective behaviour, because he would never act like she was a damsel in distress.
After he'd put the movie on, they clinked their filled glasses together and started eating in silence; they didn't need many words to communicate. It just seemed natural to sit there, sometimes commenting on things. Rafael had taken off his shoes, jacket and waistcoat, looking relaxed and laid-back like he rarely was.
"So, how long will you have to stay at home? I'm just asking so I am prepared next time." He winked at her as they finished off the last box, handing her one of the two fortune cookies.
"Don't worry," Olivia answered, breaking the cookie into two halfs. "I'll be back in the game in two days. So you don't have to drop by again."
"That's unfortunate," Rafael admitted, trying not to sound too sheepish, masking his slight disappointment with a playful grin. "I really like this. Maybe I should cuff you to the couch so I can feed you pizza all day long while watching movies."
Olivia looked at him for a long moment, blinking in surprise, then she started to laugh, her brown eyes gleaming in amusement.
"I better go and grab my gun, huh?" she joked, running a hand through her hair and pushing a few strands behind her ear before opening her fortune cookie.
"And?" Rafael asked, eating one half of his cookie while Olivia stared at the slip of paper with a raised eyebrow.
"It says 'I'm finally out of this cookie'. Funny. And yours?"
Clearing his throat, he took the paper he'd pulled from his cookie earlier, clearing his throat again as his eyes ran over the line.
"What you desire is right in front of you."
They looked each other into the eyes for a very long moment, then, Rafael's gaze flickered down to Olivia's parting lips, gulping hard. A cheeky smirk played around the corners of her mouth, then she grabbed him by his tie and pulled him towards her. Their lips collided and for one moment, Rafael thought that it was a dream, but her arms slinging around his neck made him realise that this was very real. She tasted of wine, fortune cookies and something that was completely her, and he had to admit that he loved the taste.
As the need for air caused them to separate, Rafael chuckled. "I guess for once the cookie was right, huh?"
"Yes," she whispered back with rosy cheeks. "Maybe I should call you more often so you spend time with me."
"That would be great. For you, I'll always be just one call away."
Their lips meet again in a passionate kiss and Rafael pulled Olivia closer, glad that they'd finally found the courage to act on the attraction that had been lingering between them for years now.