38 hours. He looked through the window of her, sitting on her couch, rocking Noah back and forth on her lap. The boy had been gone for 38 hours. He was found dirty, tired, scared and hungry but otherwise completely fine. They were still hunting the person who took him, but for now, he was safe.
She hadn't said a word when he was brought to her in the precinct. She scooped him up and walked into her office, kicking the door shut and collapsing on the couch with her son.
He sighed, running his hand through his hair, signing off on warrants and doing his best to take the stress of the hunt away from her for the moment. He glanced back toward the break room to see the other woman sitting there, alone, tears dried on her face, frozen in her chair.
He walked into the break room, grabbing another cup of coffee and sitting next to her at the table, sipping his drink, sitting with her in silence.
"She's never going to forgive me" Sheila whispered.
Barba chuckled. "I won't lie, Sheila. Liv has got a memory like a steel trap and the ability to hold on to a grudge like a champ. But, with some time, she can forgive just about anything."
"You don't know that" she replied, meeting his gaze, eyes wet with fresh tears.
He shook his head, remembering a time he thought there was no coming back for them. "I swear, Sheila, I do. If she can forgive me for being a complete asshole once upon a time, there is hope for anyone."
"I should have watched him better. She would have every right to never trust me with him again."
"Sheila, please. It was a moment. You looked away for a moment. Once upon, so did Olivia. That wasn't her fault and this isn't yours. She's angry now, yes. But once we catch this son of a bitch and she has her chance to see him behind bars, she will start to thaw. I promise." He watched her nod, wiping her face.
She smiled. "Ok. Rafael, just… thank you. Everyone else has been taking a wide berth, not that I blame them…"
"They are all loyal to her to a fault. It's why they are so effective."
"I'm glad she has that. I made the mistake of talking about Ellie and then... this…" she said, waving around. "Just know I appreciate your words. You look out for her. I'm glad she has that. I'm glad they both have that." She patted his arm, giving him a sad smile. He leaned back, pulling his card out of his wallet, grabbing his gold pen and scribbling his number on the back.
"Text me so I have your number. I will let you know when they catch this guy. You deserve to see that happen as much as Olivia does." He watched her choke back a sob, staring at his handwriting. "How about you let me find a nice patrol officer to get you home?" She nodded, gathering her things. He grabbed the first uniform he saw, making him swear on a stack of bibles he would see Sheila all the way through her door and maybe give the Airbnb she was staying in a quick once over before leaving.
He watched the elevator doors close and turned his attention back to Olivia on her couch. Her back was to him, but he met Noah's eyes and he watched the boy give him a slight smile. Barba quickly weighed the pros and cons and decided to take his life into his hands as he pushed open the door to her office.
"Get out" she growled, not even looking up.
"Liv" he said quietly, moving around to stand in front of her. He watched her slam her eyes shut, shaking her head, grasping Noah tighter.
"Mommy" he gasped out and Barba stifled a chuckle as the boy wriggled in her arms, trying to get some breathing room. Olivia let him lean back, running her hands over his face and in his hair.
"What? What's wrong? Are you ok? Did you remember something?"
Noah shook his head. "No. You were squeezing me tight and I have to pee" he replied. Barba couldn't stop the laugh from leaving his mouth, eliciting a full smile from Noah.
"Liv, let the poor boy go to the bathroom" he said, quickly moving around to open the door and wave at Fin. Before Olivia could stop him, he directed Fin to take Noah to the bathroom. He knew Noah needed a break and Olivia needed to breath. Sheila's words were coming back to him. He looked out for them. Why was a question he didn't need to delve into in the moment, but he knew he would need to address it. Soon.
He sat next to her on the couch, watching her tense up as Noah moved out of her line of sight. "Liv" he said quietly. No response. He grabbed her shoulders, physically turning her toward him, forcing her to meet his eyes. "Liv, he's fine."
"I can't see him."
"Fin has got him, Liv. He's fine. You have got to try to relax."
"Not until that son of a bitch is behind bars."
"That's why I said try. I know better than to tell you to actually relax right now." He saw how tired and stressed out she was. It was all there on her face. Decorum and professionalism be damned, he decided. He leaned back against her couch, pulling her into his side, arm resting lightly around her shoulders. "Just take a couple of deep breaths, Liv. Try to relax. You have to. For Noah. You stressed out and scared to death is going to make him the same way." He felt her finally give a little, collapsing slightly into his side. He closed his eyes for a moment, wishing he could take all this away from her.
"I'll never forgive Sheila for this" he heard her whisper.
He shook his head. "Yes, you will, Olivia." He felt her tense up, so he just kept going. "You will because once we catch the guy who took Noah and you see him behind bars and you have some time and perspective, you will see that she is just as much a victim as Noah. She may never forgive herself, but I know eventually you will forgive her."
She pushed herself up, meeting his eyes. "You talked to her?" she shot at him, more of an accusation than a question.
"Yes, Olivia. I did. Because she didn't do anything wrong."
"She took her eyes off him!"
"And so did you once upon a time and that wasn't your fault either!" She glared at him, but she didn't move away. He took that as a good sign. "She is torn up. She is worried about Noah and you, believe it or not. I can tell just from a few words that you two mean a lot to her. So, if you want to be angry and blame her in the moment, fine. Do that. Because right now the real villain is faceless. But I know you. And I know as soon as you have a face to place on that person, you will see that Sheila is just as traumatized as you and Noah. I know your heart. Eventually, you will forgive her. I know you will never forget and it may take a long time for you to trust her alone with him again, which I completely understand and I believe she does too, but you will eventually forgive her." The glare left her face as he talked. He could see just a bit of the anger slip away. She looked over her shoulder out to the squad room.
"Where is he?"
"Fin took him in the break room. Kid probably wanted a snack and a drink. You know how he loves that snack machine." She whipped her head back around to look at him. He shrugged. "What? I pay attention." He expected her to shoot out of her seat and run to the break room. But what she did instead surprised him. She leaned in, pressing a light kiss to his cheek and then leaned back into his side, head on his shoulder.
"Rafa, when all this calms down and we have a moment, I would like to circle back to that paying attention comment."
He just nodded. "We will get there, Liv."
"When?" she asked, snuggling further into his side.