I have hope that the show runners are now telling the truth that maybe Barba will be back some day. Until then, there is this.


She stared at the glass of wine. Hard. Like she was willing it to make this day turn out differently. To make the last few months turn out differently. The reality of life right now was weighing her down. It felt heavy on her heart and on her shoulders and she was angry. Stuck with an ADA she wasn't sure she would ever be able to trust after this case. Kicking herself for putting them all in this position. On a day like today, she felt like walking away from it all. The job, the disappointment, the red tape. If he had asked, she may have walked away from it all with him. What she wouldn't do for Ed, she would have done in a hot second for him. No sense in denying any of that now. It didn't matter. He left. Those beautiful words and a kiss on her forehead that she would feel forever. She glanced at the phone sitting quiet on the bar next to her glass. Everyone was leaving her alone. She knew she could text him, call him, spam him with something ridiculous, but it didn't matter. He left. She understood why he left. But it did nothing to alleviate the pain in her chest and the pounding in her head.

Anthony pulled a small tumbler out from behind the bar. "Will Mr. Barba be here soon or…" but he trailed off at the look on her face.

"He's not coming" she choked out, covering her face with her hand.

"I'm sorry" he whispered, quickly putting the glass away.

Olivia sat there, face hidden, willing herself to keep it together.

"Care if I join you?" she heard from over her shoulder. She glanced up and the tears she had been working so hard to keep at bay started to fall down her face. She dropped her head to the bar, finding herself being all out of shits to give.

Rita found herself fighting back her own tears as the stoic Olivia Benson muffled her sadness on the bar. She sat down next to her, patting her back, motioning for the bartender to get them both new glasses of wine.

Olivia allowed herself those few moments to sadness and anger and heartbreak with Rita Calhoun. But, she pulled herself together, wiping her eyes. She finally looked over at the other woman.

"If I hadn't been knee deep in a case forced on me by the rest of the partners…"

"I know, Rita. I know. But Dworkin got him out of it. At least he's not in jail." Rita nodded her head.

"Have you talked to him?" Olivia asked.

Rita shook her head. "No. I was in a marathon settlement and by the time I got to my phone… he left me a voice mail and now he's not answering." Olivia just nodded. "I haven't tried to call him since…"

Rita just stared at this woman who may be the one thing that brought her oldest friend to life most days. "What, Liv?"

"He said these words to me and then he just… he walked away. He said he had to let go and then he left. I couldn't move."

Rita sighed. "Liv, honestly… he's been struggling. The last few months he's been floundering through work and life in general. Something was bound to come to a head."

Liv shot her red rimmed eyes over to Rita. "Why didn't he tell me?"

Rita shrugged. "Because between the investigation with Noah and then Sheila..." Rita trailed off.

"I'm a terrible person" she said, dropping her head back down to the bar.

"Rafael isn't big on sharing the personal, Liv. You know that. I just happen to know the exact amount of scotch it takes to loosen up his lips without making him incoherent." Rita was proud that she was able to pull a very small smile out of Olivia at that moment.

Rita drained her glass and turned to face Olivia. "Listen to me, Liv. He needs some time. This is how he deals. He goes off the grid. I don't know for how long and I won't know where. Lucia might but even then, she may not. He's needs some time and perspective. He needs to move on from aspects of this life he has been living the last few months. He's not moving on from what he really cares about. He's not built like that."

"And what's that?" Liv asked.

"The law. Doing what's good and right. Great coffee. You and that son of yours." Olivia opened her mouth, but Rita cut her off, holding up her hand.

"Liv, stop. What you two have is unlike anything I have ever seen. He cares about you. You care about him. There is literally nothing holding you two back now."

"Except that he's radio silent."

Rita nodded. "But that won't last forever. It never does. He will reach out. In his Rafael Barba way, but he will reach out. He needs time. He deserves that." Liv sighed and nodded.

Rita dropped some cash on the bar and grabbed her coat and bag. "I need to head home, Liv, and I think you should do the same. If anyone" she said, pointing at herself "reports to him when he finally checks in that you are beating yourself up for him leaving, he will never forgive himself."

The two women gathered their things and left the bar, stopping on the sidewalk. Rita flipped her hair over her shoulder.

"Liv, just give him some time. He'll come around. He always does. But do me a favor when he does?" Liv's eyes widened. "Be honest with yourself and with him. You both deserve that." Rita waved Olivia a goodbye, sending prayer up that her friend would find what he needed out there and come home.