set sometime during S14, which I've been rewatching of late bc reasons.


"Just out of curiosity," Olivia says as she strides into his office, "do you ever sleep, Counselor?"

"Objection, rhetorical," Barba replies blithely, not even looking up from one of the files stacked in mysterious piles across his desk by a system that she's fairly certain only he (and probably Carmen) can understand. "And hypocritical as well, Detective, seeing as you're the one walking into my office at – " she catches his gaze flicking quickly to the clock and back " – two thirty-seven on a Sunday morning."

Liv snorts. "Touché," she mutters as she more or less flops down on his couch, too tired to come up with anything snappier.

"Rita and I figured out exactly how long we could function on just catnaps back in the first year of law school. I've still got a good few hours to go and a grand jury first thing Monday." He pauses, and it's not until Liv looks up that she realises that he's turned slightly to glance at her now, an unreadable expression on his face. "What's your excuse?"

"I – " Liv begins before she realises that she has no idea where the rest of that sentence is supposed to go. Her mind's stuck on the ridiculously odd mental image of Rafael Barba as a cat (though the weirdest part about it is that it's not odd at all, she can totally see him preening before yowling out defendants on the stand, and Liv stops that particular thread of sleep-deprived thought before it can go any further). What comes out instead is: "You're on a first-name basis with Rita Calhoun?"

"Not if you ask her, no. Used to be though – same class at Harvard," Barba answers before she can ask, and now that he's mentioned it Liv does vaguely remember Rollins having said something along those lines, back when they were still sussing out their new ADA.

"Huh." She pushes herself up to a sitting position, though with no little amount of reluctance. "No chance for the rest of us at SVU? I mean, I know we can't all be Ivy Leaguers, but…"

Barba hums noncommittally at that (Liv wonders for a moment if he's even listening) before he closes the file he's reading and adds it to the tallest pile on the desk, reaching up to rub at his eyes. It's the first proper look at him that she's gotten so far, and he seems as exhausted as she feels, in the shadows thrown by his desk lamp. "Scintillating as this is, Detective Benson, I highly doubt you came here just for the pleasure of my witty repartee."

She wonders, idly, if Barba always sounds like a particularly cranky thesaurus when he's tired. Calhoun would probably know, she guesses, and isn't that just a bizarre thought.

He's still looking at her, and Liv realises that she hasn't answered his question yet. It takes her a second to remember the reason herself, even. "The Hendricks case? Rollins said you asked to see me about my statement ASAP."

"I didn't expect you to take that so literally." Barba stands up to cross the room in several long strides - nothing like the deliberate prowl he does in the courtroom, but still unexpectedly graceful despite the late hour. "But preparing for your cross-examination at three a.m. isn't going to do either of us much good, admirable effort as it may be."

And he's right, much as Liv doesn't want to admit it. She's just come off one hell of a double shift, he doesn't look much better off, and this case is a tricky one; it deserves both of them working at full capacity. "I'll come back at… ten?" she suggests, conceding the point.

"Eleven thirty, and – " he gestures at her with the coffeepot " – you bring lunch over.."

"Deal." Liv stands as well, watching as he pours the last dregs of probably-lukewarm coffee before adding a heinous amount of sugar. It's not how he usually takes it, she knows, and only manages not to laugh at the thought of Barba on a sugar high. "So does Calhoun do the coffee thing, too?"

"Thankfully, no – I don't think there'd be enough caffeine in all of Manhattan to sustain both of us if that were the case, though I'm sure the DA's office would call dibs on it anyway." His smirk is a little frayed around the edges, but still wry and increasingly familiar. "Go home, Detective, I'll see you in the morning."

Liv is tempted to point out that it is morning already, actually, but that strikes her as too obvious for some reason. "I'd take your own advice if I were you," she says instead, heading towards the door. "Night, Counselor."

"Good night, Olivia," she hears just as the door closes behind her, and laughs a little, shaking her head.

(Liv's already back in her car when she pulls out her handphone – almost down to its last percent of battery – and sends off a quick text: you can call me Liv, you know.

Her phone's completely dead by the time she makes it back to her apartment, and flashes an empty battery sign at her when she plugs it in to charge.

No matter, she decides. Barba will definitely have seen her text by morning, if he hasn't already – the man's as good as surgically attached to his handphone, with how he's always tapping away at it.

She wonders what his reply will be.)