* Just a little one shot. Motherly Love just really sparked the idea. The episode was so good and there were so many powerful moments (not to mention that Mariska's directing is always incredible, but that's a whole other subject). The end of the episode got me thinking and this is what came from all of it. In some ways I want to continue, but I have so many other stories that need my attention too right now, so we're keeping it a one shot (at least for a while). Read away! *
"Can I buy you a drink?" Barba asked her.
"No thanks. I uh… I got to go home to see Noah. I gotta… I just want to be with my boy."
The lieutenant turned around to see the empty courtroom staring at her. The wood furnishings glimmered in the bright lights, but Olivia wasn't sure what exactly she was looking at. There had been justice that afternoon, although it had been twisted and manipulated to look like something completely different. Whether the woman was going to jail or not, this mother had ruined her son. She had changed the path of his entire life and Olivia wasn't sure that what she had seen today could be considered ideal.
She shook her head slightly.
Olivia had seen the good and the bad in the courtroom. Sometimes it ended well and sometimes, she herself knew the feeling, a person could be torn to pieces that are left to be picked up off the floor. There is where justice meets injustice in the most moving ways, as well as the most horrific. No matter how many times she sat on the wood benches of the courtroom, Olivia would never know what to expect or the best way to handle the outcomes.
She walked out, still questioning what she was feeling.
The steps to the street seemed to drag forever as she made her way down them, head down, watching her feet hit the pavement below. She didn't look up from the moment she left the courtroom until the time that she was hitting the unlock button on her key ring. She slid into the driver's seat, started the engine, but only rested her feet on the pedals, not ready to drive just yet. She needed a minute, to collect her thoughts and to stop the tears that had quickly formed in her eyes.
"Liv you're home early." Lucy was surprised to see the woman walk into the apartment before four pm.
"Mama, my truck faster than Lucy's." Noah held up his red monster truck that had been a present from Uncle Fin.
Olivia smiled at her son. "That truck does go pretty fast, doesn't it?"
Noah nodded eagerly in response.
"Is everything okay?" Lucy asked. "I didn't expect you home so soon."
"Our trial finished and I wanted to spend the rest of the day with Noah."
Lucy could see the defeat in the woman's eyes. "Tough case?"
"Tougher than normal." Liv sighed.
Lucy didn't want to press her; she knew that what Olivia faced at work was horrible. There was no need to make the mom share the gruesome details with her. Instead the young girl got up from where she sat on the floor with Noah and collected her belongings.
"Don't worry about tomorrow, Lucy. I'm planning on taking the day off." Olivia needed the extra time to recover. It had been so long since she had taken a personal day.
"Okay. Then I'll see you later this week." Lucy gave a warm smile to the mother, hoping to show that she cared.
Liv immediately turned her attention to her son, who was still playing with his truck, oblivious to the issues his mama was facing. And that was how she wanted it to stay for as long as it could. One day he would learn how cruel the world was, the story of how Liv became his mom was one of those things that would teach him how unfair it was outside of the apartment walls.
"Play trucks with me mama?" Noah was looking up at her, his brown eyes filled with hope.
"Of course, baby." Olivia kissed his forehead.
The pair stayed planted on the floor for nearly an hour. They drove the trucks all over the living room carpet on their hands and knees. Noah would make his truck jump over the coffee table and giggle incessantly when his mom followed suit. They weren't doing anything extremely exciting or new, but they were having one of the best times they ever had.
"Love you mama." Noah put his arms around her neck and hugged her tight.
The action was sudden and stopped there play, but Olivia hugged him back, bringing him into her lap.
This is what she had come home for. This is why she declined Barba's invitation to get a drink. It was for her little boy. From the time he came home with her until that moment, Liv had questioned whether or not she was spending enough time with Noah or whether her son was getting the attention that he deserved.
"What do you want for dinner, sweet boy?" Noah still sat in his mama's lap.
"Mac cheese." She should have known that if given the choice, Noah would choose his favorite food.
"That's your favorite, huh?" Liv stroked the little boy's hair. "We'll have mac and cheese then." She promised him, but told herself that she would make more than just the pasta, since it wasn't exactly the most balanced of meals.
Noah continued to play with his toy cars, as Olivia headed into the kitchen. But as she was taking out the necessary tools for their meal, she caught a glimpse of her son over the kitchen island. A smile covered his face as he ran around the living room. It thrilled her to see him so happy, but also saddened her to think of these moments that she missed or didn't get to create with her son.
Liv was just about to turn the stove on when a gradually more aggressive knock on the front door broke her concentration.
"Someone here mama." Noah had stopped playing, as well, curious as to who was there.
"Do you want to come see who it is with me?"
Noah nodded excitedly. Liv walked back to her son and picked him up, resting the three-year-old on her hip as she made her way toward the front door.
However, the person on the other side was the last that she had expected to see that evening. Rafael Barba stood in the hallway, the suit he had previously been wearing replaced by a pair of jeans and a sweater. In one hand was a bag and in the other a bottle of wine he had probably spent too much money on.
"Mr. Barba." Noah recognized the visitor.
"What are you doing here?" The question escaped Liv's mouth before she realized how it sounded.
"Well it's nice to see you to Olivia." Barba told her.
Liv sighed. "I didn't mean it that way. I'm just surprised."
"I know you didn't." Rafael assured her. "I just thought that after today you could use two things: dinner and a good bottle of wine." He held up the items that were in his hands.
"You didn't have to do that." Liv was almost taken aback by the thoughtfulness of the ADA.
"Yes I did. Today was hard, for all of us, but I don't have a child waiting at home for me, so the this was the least I could do." Barba carefully put the wine in the bag and handed it to Olivia, who took it with her free hand. "There's mac and cheese in there for the little man. I know you said that it's his favorite."
"Love mac cheese, Mr. Barba." Noah grinned from ear-to-ear.
"Okay, you really did not need to do all of this." Instead of being surprised, Liv now just felt guilty that Rafael had gone to all this trouble.
"Just say thank you." Rafael insisted.
Olivia smiled at the man. "Thank you."
"Now go enjoy that and have a good night." Rafael turned backed in the direction that he had come, posed to leave.
"Where are you going? You're not going to stay for dinner?" Liv had assumed that he had brought dinner in order to eat with her and Noah.
"You wanted to be with Noah. I'm not going to intrude on that." Rafael explained.
She shook her head, not accepting his answer. "I can be with Noah and you at the same time, it's crazy how that works. Get back here and come eat with us. This bag weighs too much to not have enough food in it for all of us."
"It's fine, really." Barba tried again to leave.
"Rafael Barba, you don't get to bring food and wine and then pretend like it's okay that you are going to go back to your apartment and eat alone while working. You're eating with us. Isn't that right Noah, you want him to stay?"
"Yeah, stay Mr. Barba." Noah followed what his mom was saying.
Rafael threw his hands up in defeat and walked into the apartment. "I am only staying on one condition. Noah calls me Rafi and not Mr. Barba, it is too formal for a three-year-old."
Olivia laughed out loud, but Noah did as he was told. "Rafi!"
An hour later, everyone was full and the wine had been poured for Olivia and Rafael. They sat in the living room, after cleaning up the takeout containers. Noah and Rafi, his new favorite person, were on the floor continuing the game of trucks that had been interrupted by dinner. Liv sat on the couch, watching them play, again noticing the smile that didn't leave her son's face.
"Rafi your car jump from there." Noah pointed to the end of the coffee table that Rafael was closest to.
The man nodded, set his car on the table, and then made the truck gain some speed before it took off into the air. Rafael made it turn three times before he landed it on the other side of the table where Noah stood. The giggles that come from the little boy told the attorney that he had done a good job.
"Who knew you had such skill with toy trucks Barba?" Liv chuckled at the man, who for a moment had forgotten that she was watching the whole thing.
His cheeks became slightly red, embarrassed. "Well I was a little boy too once."
"Really?" She pretended to be shocked. "I had just assumed that you were born a law student in a suit and tie."
Rafael rolled his eyes at her. "Contrary to popular belief, I did have a childhood."
Noah continued to play with Rafi for another hour before it was bedtime. The little boy insisted that Barba play with him while he took his bath and he only wanted his bedtime story read by the man. Liv tried to explain to Noah that Rafi probably needed to get home, so that he didn't feel obligated, but Rafael insisted that he had all the time in the world for a bath and book.
"Thank you for doing that for him." Olivia thanked Rafael as they walked out of Noah's bedroom, the little boy already fast asleep.
"You act like it was an inconvenience. It was no problem, Liv."
"I know. You just probably had other things that you could have been doing instead."
Rafael scoffed. "When are you going to realize that you aren't a burden to people?"
"What does that mean?" Olivia couldn't tell if she was offended by the question or not.
"It means that you have to realize that sometimes people want to spend time with you and your son. It's not because we feel we have to or we pity you because you're a single mom. You always apologize for taking other's time, when they are more than willing to give it to you."
Olivia allowed his words to sink in.
"I meant that in the best way possible, Liv." He wanted to make sure that he hadn't hurt by saying what he had. "I just want you to know that you have so many people who care about you and Noah and asking for help isn't going to change what anyone thinks of you. Just because you command whole unit doesn't mean that sometimes you don't need a little help or a little encouragement. I saw what today did to you, that's why I came because if I had asked if you wanted dinner or needed something you would have told me no."
Olivia locked eyes with him, tears forming. "Tell me something, since you're being so honest with me. Do you actually thing that I'm a good mom?"
"You're actually asking me that?" Rafael knew that he had just shared a lot of truth, but that wasn't the question he was expecting.
"What, you don't want to tell me the truth now?" Olivia wasn't sure where she stood with the ADA.
"It's not that. I just didn't assume that was the question you were going to give me."
"Okay, then tell me honestly."
Rafael turned and walked into the living room first. He sat down on the couch, but Liv stayed standing in front of him. "Did this case really make you think that you weren't a good mom? Liv, that woman's son would not have made it through without you."
"But he's not my son and I'm not his mother. I'm Noah's mom and I want to know if I'm a good mother to him."
"Noah couldn't be any luckier to have you. And no matter how many times you question if you are doing the best you can, everyone around you can see that you are. You took this boy into your home and gave him everything he deserved and more. So, sometimes you aren't there or you have to work late and you miss putting him to bed, that doesn't mean that you are a horrible mother or that Noah would be better off somewhere else. All the work that you do is for him; it's so that you can stay in this apartment and so you can afford to put him in the best preschool you can. One day he will look at you and thank you for all that you did for him whether it was at home or at the precinct."
"Will he really? All I can think is that someday he will look at me and ask why I was always working and not picking him up from school or going to every one of his soccer games. I just imagine him resenting me." Liv flopped down in the couch next to Rafael, no longer annoyed by what he had said, but instead looking to him for answers.
"He will absolutely not resent you." Rafael told her. "My mom spent my whole childhood working two jobs just so that we could keep a roof over our heads. There isn't a single time that I can remember her coming to any of my little league games. I rode the bus to and from school every day or I had to walk. And at one point, I was upset about it, but now I want to thank her every time I see for what she sacrificed to make sure that I had what I needed. Noah isn't going to hate you; he won't tell people that his mom was never there because she didn't actually care. He's going to tell people exactly what I just told you; he's going to brag that his mother was a badass who kept a whole city safe and she did for him."
"How did you know that was exactly what I needed to hear?" Liv gave a nervous laugh, wiping away the stray tears that fell down her cheeks.
"Because my mom once asked me if she had failed at the whole parenting thing. Being a single mom isn't easy."
"It's just crazy that something I always wanted so badly is the same thing that keeps me up at night. I always pictured having children, always. Being a better mom than mine was is what I would day dream about. And then nothing ever worked; I could never make it work with anyone because my job ran my life for too long. Then Noah came along because of the job and I couldn't have asked for anything else. But still every night that I walk in here and Lucy has already put Noah to bed, I look in on him, just to check and make sure that I missed saying good night. I have to ask myself if all of this is worth for that little boy." Olivia couldn't understand why all of a sudden she was pouring all of her thoughts out to this man who was more than a co-worker, but not someone who she would have pinned for willing to listen to all of her biggest worries.
Rafael put a gentle hand on her knee. "You're aren't crazy; you're not blaming a murder on your own son. This is more than worth it. You deserve to be a mother and Noah deserves you, end of story."
Rafael stood up before Olivia could say anymore. He grabbed his coat from the rack. Slipping his arms into the sleeves, he turned back to the woman he had left on the couch.
"After the day you had, you need a hot shower and good night's sleep. Don't let this make you rethink what you doing. Don't let it get in your head."
Olivia wanted to grab him, to not let him walk out the door. She wanted him to stay there on the couch with her, whether they were talking or not, but she knew he was right. She needed to get out of her own head before she ruined what she had or turned to a bottle of wine to numb the pain.
"Thank you." Was all that she said to him.
And he all he gave her in return was one of the most comforting and assuring looks she would ever receive.
Without a second thought, Liv dumped the rest of her wine down the sink and put the bottle in the fridge. Instead of going to her own room she went to Noah's. The little boy slept on his stomach on hand wrapped tightly around the stuffed animal he slept with every night. And the mom just sat and watched her sweet baby sleep.
* There you have it. One shots aren't my specialty, but I hope this was okay. Let me know what you thought, pretty please! The feedback is so very appreciated. *