A/N: I thoroughly enjoy putting my otp into perilous situations. Like, it's my favorite thing to do. Anyway, this isn't the best written piece I've ever produced, but it was fun to write. Enjoy!
Visiting ex-convicts on the outskirts of Manhattan first thing in the morning was his new favorite day time activity.
Barba just loved getting cussed out by gang members whom he and Liv were trying to shake information out of. Being borderline threatened by a man who killed for entertainment on a half-cup of shitty coffee wasn't any way to start his day. He was just happy they were headed back into the city so he could hole up in his office and get back to his precious work.
Unfortunately, he had decided to drive him and the Lieutenant over there, wanting to spend some quality time with his car and best friend. They hadn't been able to see much of each other lately, her current cases not needing any legal guidance and his paperwork keeping him late in the office. Their early morning coffee meetings and late night dinner/work sessions couldn't take priority over their jobs, no matter how badly they wished they wanted to.
And the two definitely missed their time spent together. They were gradually beginning to evolve their friendship into something more. It seemed like a natural progression, one neither of them wanted to fight. Spending so much time together outside of work was a way to test the waters and see how their lives would work out if they did decide to go for it.
She knew it, he knew it and probably the rest of the squad knew they were headed in that direction. So, that's why he jumped at the chance to drive them although he was sorely regretting it at that moment.
The light flurries from earlier were now fat snowflakes, covering the roads and bringing visibility down to almost zero.
"White-out," Liv remarked, conversation cut short as she peered out the window into the white void. Barba grunted, keeping at a reasonable speed. Small victory that there seemed to be no other cars on the long stretch of highway, giving him the freedom to drive slower than normal.
"We picked a hell of a day to visit old Benny," he said sarcastically. Liv rolled her eyes and smiled at him. He'd been in a mood all morning, but she could hardly blame him for it. Barba wasn't so pleasant when forced to take an hour long drive to deal with criminals who couldn't care less about their victims.
"You know you love our road trips."
"Yeah, because I get to spend time with you. I can do without the rapists and thugs."
Liv laughed and grabbed his hand, lacing their fingers together in a gesture that was getting more and more comfortable each and every time they one of them would initiate it. She had to admit to herself, going slow had never been part of her usual routine when it came to relationships. Things tended to happen fast and the 'getting-to-know-you' process was pushed to the side.
And she never really had a relationship naturally progress from a friendship to a romantic one (and she had the feeling he hadn't either) so they were both new to this dynamic. It was refreshing and pleasant, though. The best part was getting the high-strung lawyer more acquainted with her little boy.
More than once she thought maybe it wasn't the best fit. Barba was uncomfortable around children from lack of exposure and she was a packaged deal. You didn't get just her anymore.
Except he proved her wrong every time that little seed of doubt planted itself into her brain again. The two were becoming thick as thieves, which was either going to be the most amazing thing or give her the biggest headaches. They were already conspiring against her when it came to certain things.
Like eating dessert before dinner, which happened more than it should.
"At least the case is in the bag. You have more than enough to get him. I have faith in you," she said sweetly. A slight blush appeared on his cheeks despite his best efforts.
"Nice to know someone does," he squeezed her hand back, his thumb running along her index finger. Liv moved their joined hands into her lap, covering the top of his with her other free one, both feeling so content even if the snow and wind had picked up even more.
They were silent for a while, enjoying the silence and the light oldies music playing through the speaker of the car. Barba had slowed down the car to at least 20 mph albeit hesitantly. The road leading back into the city was a straight shot, so he was confident he could make it there but not before lunch time.
Sliding off the road because of ice wasn't in his agenda for the day.
"You want to try and have dinner tonight? Noah misses his buddy and you owe me a pizza," Liv broke the silence, focusing more on her empty stomach. She already had plans for them to stop for some lunch as soon as they got back to the city and had to part ways for their offices. She was positive he needed some more caffeine in his system anyway.
Barba smiled, "I think I can squeeze it in. I'll finish up prepping and stop by. But remember, I'm calling you as my first witness in the morning."
"Yeah, yeah. Get a good night's rest and all that jazz."
Barba smiled and went to joke but stopped when he saw a pair of headlights in his rearview mirror through the foggy white behind him. They were there one second and gone the next, the sudden roar of an engine speeding up next to them was all the warning he had before a black car slammed into the passenger's side.
The sound was so loud it drowned everything else out, jostling them so bad Barba lost control of the car, the tires trying to find traction on the ice and snow covering the road. The car made contact with the passenger's side again, t-boning them and sending them off the road.
They went speeding down a small incline and the last thing he could remember before he lost consciousness was the car slamming into a snow bank and the airbags punching him in the face.
Barba woke up suddenly, breathing in a gulp of air while the world spun around him. He gripped the steering wheel to try and anchor himself, feeling like he was suspended by the seatbelt he was strapped in. He didn't think they were upside down but they were definitely stuck at an odd angle in the snow if they covered windshield was any indicator.
When he gathered his senses (and he had a serious headache now, too), he looked to his right to see Liv, completely motionless with a tiny bit of blood seeping out from one of her nostrils. His heart dropped into his stomach and it took him a good few seconds to snap out of it.
"Liv? Olivia! Wake up!"
His head was still spinning but he reached over with his right hand and grabbed her arm, shaking it gently. Liv jumped a little and groaned, opening her eyes and looking around confused before their eyes met. A large cut on her forehead that he hadn't seen from his position was bleeding profusely, dripping down her eye and nose and onto her lips.
"Shit," he muttered upon seeing the blood on her face. Head wounds bled a lot, he knew this, but it was still worrisome considering she wasn't as alert as he was.
Liv slurred her words as she brought one of her hands up to wipe the blood away from her nose and mouth. Barba shoved a hand into his suit jacket and grabbed a handkerchief from the inner pocket so he could pass it to her. He noticed her window had been smashed with snow falling in small clumps, hitting her boots and the floor of his car.
"Here," he said and waited patiently for her to take it. He needed to get his seatbelt off and find a way to call for help. His cell phone was sitting in the crevice between the front windshield and dash, having been thrown from the middle console along with a few papers from his briefcase.
"My head…," Liv moaned, the handkerchief pressed to the cut on her forehead while she looked at him. Her eyes were glazed over, seeking some sort of answer from him that he wasn't too sure he knew.
"We were hit by a car," he let the sentence hang in the air for a second while he worked on getting his seat belt off. Since they were sitting at such a severe angle, he braced his feet against the floor to prevent his whole body from slamming into the wheel.
He had to work a little bit, but it finally gave way. Barba clung to wheel, feet standing on the peddles as he grabbed his phone and quickly unlocked it. The faster he could dial 911 the better. Except, his phone chose that moment to completely die on him.
"Fucking kidding me right now?"
Barba growled in frustration, throwing his phone back on the dash while he contemplated his next move. Liv had completely forgotten hers in her office before they left the precinct, and he stupidly hadn't charged it on the way up like he should have.
And his stupidity could be costly in a situation like this.
"Barba…we need to get help…," Liv said slowly, still holding the handkerchief to her forehead but watching him intently. Next to her, snow was still steadily falling into the car and it hit him just then just how cold he was. And with no barrier between the outside and in, they would be freezing within minutes.
"I know. My phone's dead," he replied in a calm tone even though he felt like panicking. Outside, the storm was still raging, the wind whistling it was blowing so hard. The drifting snow had the potential to cover their car in minutes and without any communication and low visibility, the chances of someone seeing them driving down the road was little to none.
Maybe if he could wave someone down? And what about the other driver? Maybe they had a phone. But all of those possibilities meant Barba had to go outside and face the blistering cold and snow. It meant leaving Liv behind with a potentially dangerous head wound and even if it would only be for a few minutes, dread settled in the pit of his stomach because of it.
But it was the only way.
He sighed and looked towards the back seat. None of the windows had been broken and they didn't seem to be buried in the snow bank like the front of the car was. Without a word, he grabbed onto the center console and pulled himself towards the back seat, pushing off the gear shift with his foot for more leverage.
It took him some time and all of the strength he could muster, but he eventually climbed his way into the backseat, using the back of Liv's seat to propel himself onto the back of driver's side door.
Getting the door open was little to no hassle, but the blowing snow that blew in Barba's face made him sputter and shut his eyes. The wind was freezing, instantly chilling his bones but he pushed forward, telling Liv he would be back despite her slow objection and hopped out, ending up waist deep in snow.
He cringed at the feeling of the wet, white snow slipping up the inside of his pants and soaking his socks and shoes. Definitely not a good thing, but too late to correct now.
Barba looked around, the snow blowing so hard in every direction it was impossible to tell where the snow started and the sky began. He could see some trees and a green sign flapping uselessly in the wind. Fortunately, the black sedan that hit his car was still visible and sitting further up by the road and guard rail they narrowly missed. The majority of the car was still visible and that was a good sign.
He took a few steps forward, the snow not as thick as it could have been but it was cold and uncomfortable. Despite not wearing any gloves, he started to dig through the snow, doing as much as he could to help himself move through the bank.
"Fuck," he hissed, body shivering like crazy. He could feel his legs going numb, but it wasn't a far walk considering. Walking up at an incline was incredibly difficult but eventually just his ankles were buried and it was far easier to move. He touched the car hood and found it to still be a little warm. The front end was completely bashed in as well as the windshield was gone.
Barba could see the driver's head leaning against the wheel, motionless. He called to the driver before but received no answer, prompting him to walk around to the door and open it. The car reeked of alcohol and marijuana, so strong it took Barba by surprise. He noticed a few empty beer cans in the empty passenger seat beside him.
"Sir? Are you alright?"
Barba laid a hand on the man's arm and shook him gently but with no response. There was blood dripping from the wheel where the man's head was connected, a few shards of glass having punctured the skin around his cheeks. The man also hadn't been wearing a seat belt.
On a hunch, Barba reached out to the man's neck and felt for a pulse. It took him a minute and some recollection on his high school CPR training course to find the right area where the pulse was on the neck, but he felt nothing. Either he was feeling in the wrong spot or the drunk driver was dead.
Either way, it made him feel like there was something wrong with him when instead of feeling bad for the man, all he could focus on was finding a phone if there was one. Barba quickly went to work, feeling the pockets on the man's jacket and pants before looking further into the car. He could see a flashing notification light peeking out from under a few cans in the passenger seat and he sighed in relief.
He opened the back door, putting weight against it as another gust of heavy wind picked up and about knocked him over. This arctic wind was going to be death of him. When he was confident the door would stay open by itself, he climbed in through the backseat, moving trash and clothing around so he could back out easily enough.
Barba completely ignored the possibly dead man in the front seat, thoughts only on the phone and a bloodied Liv still sitting strapped in his wrecked car a few feet away. Once he had the phone, he wasted no time in hitting the emergency dial button on the front screen while he wiped his nose and shivered.
"911, state your emergency."
"Yes, I was in a car wreck. We were hit by a drunk driver."
"Where are you currently located sir?"
"Bronx. Bronx and Pelham parkway near I-95…the other driver is dead…," he choked out, the words feeling strange on his tongue. He desperately avoided looking anywhere other than the storm brewing outside of the car, the distant trees bending with the force of the wind.
"We're sending a unit to your location. It may take a while, probably about twenty minutes or so because of the snow storm. Are there any other injuries?"
"My friend…she's got a cut on her head and she's bleeding…slurring her words a bit. She's a Lieutenant with Manhattan SVU," he tried to remain calm, itching to get back to his destroyed car so he could make sure she was still doing alright. The thought that she maybe wasn't was scaring him beyond belief.
"Ok sir, our unit is on it's way. I need you to sta-"
The phone beeped and vibrated in his hand. He pulled it back to see the phone company's logo flash across the screen before it died as well. Barba growled in frustration and threw the phone in anger, watching it bounce of the dash and land on the floor of the car. He sat still for a moment before he pushed out of the car, deciding he needed to get back to Liv.
The walk down was easier, using the incline to his advantage. As he got closer, he saw the source of his worry making a lame attempt to climb into the backseat.
"Liv? What are you doing? You shouldn't be moving," he chastised and climbed back into the car. He got a better look at her face and saw the cut on her forehead wasn't so deep and had stopped bleeding, but that didn't matter much. Her eye movements were still slow as she looked at him and she was shivering.
"I wanted to see if you were alright," she said slowly, her eyes closing for longer than a few seconds. She looked like she was going to be sick and then she actually did get sick, what little breakfast she had ending up on the floor seat. Barba was quick enough to pull her away from her face, rubbing her back as best as he could in their odd position.
"I'm dizzy," she whispered, a few tears slipping down her face and mixing with the drying blood on the side of her face. He nodded, using his bare hand to wipe her mouth and face before he helped her up into the backseat with him. They ended up curled into each other, Barba's feet bracing themselves against the driver's seat while holding the majority of Liv's weight in his arms.
She rested her head against his shoulder, her breathes coming out in short puffs against his neck, making him feel slightly more grounded than he was feeling before. Unfortunately, it was making him realize just how bad his back and neck were hurting. Add to that, his legs, feet and hands were beginning to go numb which was never a good sign while you were stuck out in a snow storm.
"Raf," she whispered, one of her hands clutching onto the sleeve of his suit jacket. Barba looked down at her face, seeing her eyes slipping closed. He gently shook her, not wanting her to fall asleep and escalating her injuries further. Liv jerked awake, gasping and breathing heavier than normal. The next words that came out of her mouth sounded so broken and small, he wasn't entirely sure it was her voice speaking them.
Barba just hugged her tighter, feeling so tired all of the sudden. The twenty-minute wait time the operator mentioned was creeping along at a snail's pace. It seemed like every time he checked his watch, only seconds had passed.
"Help is coming…just don't fall asleep," he said softly, rubbing her back comfortingly. He could feel her nod as they slipped into silence, listening to the whistling wind and blowing snow on the outside of the car. It was a few minutes before Liv's slurred voice broke the quiet of the broken car.
"You remember…last week when...when you lost your cool with that jackass in court?"
Barba chuckled, squeezing her closer in response. He would have answered if he was confident his teeth wouldn't chatter the entire time he spoke. The last thing he wanted was for Liv to see the cold affecting him that much. He needed to be strong for her.
"That's what he gets for gloating about raping a teenager," he said, resting his cheek on top of her head, relieving some pain from his neck. He bit his lip, feeling like his legs were going to buckle from his waning energy as well. Seriously, where the fuck were the police?
He was getting angry now, even if he knew the conditions were extremely difficult to drive in let alone see anything. It was almost a complete white-out.
"Which reminds me, when we get back to work, I'm going to need you to talk to Hayley again. Her statement is a little weak and we need to really strike a chord with the jury," he said, eyes peeled outside the window so he could see any traffic driving by. Surely he would be able to see the flashing police lights through the thick snow. Hopefully.
Barba, just noticing she hadn't responded to him, looked down to see her eyes shut and her breathing becoming more shallow. He shook her, less than gentle in his haste to get her to wake up again.
"Shit, Liv, come on. Stay awake for me, they're almost here," he said nervously. With renewed energy, he wrapped an arm around her waist to keep her close to his side while the other grabbed her jaw and pushed her head back so he could see her face. He slapped her cheek lightly a few times, but her eyelids didn't flutter.
His heart dropped, feeling the sense of impending dread that had been looming over his head since he saw her injury hit him all at once. He was dangerously close to crying, hating himself for getting so emotional but not knowing any other way to deal.
His car was wrecked, they were freezing cold, the driver that hit him was dead and now Liv was unconscious with a potentially dangerous head injury. There was a very real possibility that the police wouldn't be able to see them through the snow storm and that was scaring him more than anything.
"Calm down," he muttered to himself, feeling like he was heading towards a full blown panic attack and that wasn't going to help anything.
A sudden flash of color that bounced off the driver's side window caught his attention along with what sounded like a huge shovel came barreling down the road. Barba strained his neck to see a large, flashing orange light in the distance coming closer and closer.
"Fucking thank you," he said to no one, realizing it was a massive snow plow clearing the roads with at least two patrol cars trailing behind it.
The snow plow and the loud scraping sound stopped just a little bit farther past the drunk drivers and the cars came to a stop. And before his mind could catch up with his body, he threw open the door and began screaming like crazy, desperately waving at them the best he could while still supporting Liv's dead weight.
Another larger set of lights and the familiar blare of ambulance sirens had thankfully showed up, stopping just behind the two patrol cars but effectively masking his cries for help. He stomped his foot into the seat in aggravation, doing his best not jostle Liv too much. He waited until the sirens were cut off, only the lights remaining flashing as a few officers appeared through the thick fog of snow, immediately inspecting the other driver's car.
"Hey! Over here!"
He screamed a few more times before he finally caught the attention and sight of one of the officers standing closer to the ambulance. He couldn't hear the words he was exchanging with his fellow partners, but he could see him point towards the car and Barba got so excited he actually giggled.
The officers yelled back to him, confirming that they heard him and saw the car sticking out of the snow bank. He listened as one of the officers told him to hang tight while the other directed the large snow plow in their direction.
"Thank God," he breathed in relief, feeling like he could cry he was so happy, "We're going to get you help, Liv."
He kissed her forehead and watched the snow plow and emergency services get to work.
He ended up in the hospital overnight to regulate his body temperature and Liv was in for another three days. Her concussion hadn't been so severe that she wouldn't bounce back from it. She grumbled about having to miss time from work, but quieted considerably when Noah was around or the squad came to visit.
When she was finally allowed to go home, he was right there with her after the doctor suggested she have some help around her apartment just in case her migraines became debilitating. He has requested to use some of his piled up vacation time, leaving just the three of them to themselves. Although he hated missing work just as much as Liv did, he wasn't going to complain about getting to spend time with them.
"Migraine finally go away?"
Liv shuffled out into the living room, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She looked like an absolute mess and he absolutely loved it. He probably didn't look much better, anyway.
She poked around the kitchen for food before joining him on the couch, eyes still drooping with exhaustion but at least her pain was gone. They shared a long look before he waved her over, smiling when she cuddled into his side and threw her arm around his stomach.
"I can't wait to go back to work…not that I haven't enjoyed our time together…I'm just not used to feeling so useless," Liv said, finally sounding and looking more awake. Her eyes didn't stray from the television which was displaying the local news.
"You had a head injury that could have been a hell of a lot worse. You're not useless, you just need to recover," he reassured, letting his hand run down her side comfortingly. He could tell the entire week she'd been itching to text her detectives when she wasn't preoccupied with her babbling toddler or cuddling with him on the couch.
Liv just sighed and shifted further into his side. She broke the silence a few minutes later, "I never thanked you."
Barba was confused and voiced it, not entirely sure what she was talking about.
"You saved my life," she said confidently. He scoffed and shook his head, catching her eyes. It kind of amazed him when he saw she wasn't kidding.
"I was just doing what I had to, Liv."
She smiled, "Well, thank you. I'm glad I dragged your ass out of your office to go with me."
They shared a laugh, thinking about the tantrum he threw before he gave in to her puppy dog eyes. He was glad he went too despite everything. Although her injuries weren't life threatening, had she been alone, the situation could have been far more grave. He froze mid thought, a clever smirk lifting the corner of his mouth.
"So, since you say I saved your life…doesn't that mean you owe me something?"
Liv pulled back, resting her hand on his chest as she raised her eyebrow at him, "Depends on what you want, I guess."
"Not much," he said and leaned forward, resting one of his hands on her knee and moving so their faces were inches from each other. She smiled, leaning in so their noses touched, "Just a kiss."
"Raf," she whispered, the hand on his chest moving to the back of his neck, "You didn't have to ask."