That Guy (Rafael Barba x Reader)
Word Count: 2,318
Warnings: This thing be fluffy af :), gender-neutral I believe
Summary: Rafael needs his daily dose of coffee.
Author's Note: Shout out to my first post in like.... seven months?? I'm lowkey posting this to clear up my files since I started so many things but just keep going in and out of my Rafael Barba/SVU fixation.
Read on AO3 here!
Rafael crossed the street quickly, dodging the impatient cars who were ready to take out anyone in their paths. The grip on his briefcase tightened and his other hand went to his chest, holding his coat to him. Autumn was bitterly turning into winter and Rafael rolled his eyes when he heard the weather report for the following week. The first snowfall – while light and would most likely melt away by the next day – would be wreaking havoc on the East Coast.
When he reached the other side of the street, heading towards his office, he checked his wrist for the time. He was running a few minutes late but that didn’t mean that he wouldn’t miss out on getting his much needed coffee on the way to the office. Rafael was a regular at a coffee cart run by an older man named Jackson. He always wore a dark blue baseball cap that was embroidered boldly with ‘NYC’. He remembered Rafael’s coffee order after his third day of transferring from the Brooklyn D.A. to Manhattan.
He weaved past bodies who were all dressed in a similar fashion. Since it was getting colder, jackets and coats got longer and thicker. Gloves and scarves were dug out from the back of closets.
After quickly ascending a small flight of perfectly chiseled steps, Rafael began to smell the strong scent of coffee. Dark roasts, blonde roasts, espressos. Each and every glorious bean wafted towards Rafael and even the smell of them was already beginning to jolt his body into overdrive for the long day of court.
Wallet already pulled out, he slapped the two dollars onto the cart next to an already made cup. Rafael smiled, “Thanks, Jack.” He grabbed the cup without looking up at the old man and quickly turned. His brain was beginning to rattle with tasks for his assistant to do when he got to his office, but when he lifted the warm cup to his lips and took a big sip, Rafael couldn't help but spit out the liquid that invaded his mouth. He didn’t bother giving out an apology to the people who came very close to having a spit shower, muttering angrily at Rafael.
Whilst standing a good ten feet away, Rafael Barba turned quickly back towards the cart’s direction with a disgusted look.
His fiery, yet also confused eyes, landed on you.
You were staring at him with a curious look. Your head was tilted to the side slightly and when you locked eyes with him, your brows shot up, silently questioning him about his actions. Rafael started his way back to the cart, lifting the cup in his hand to his nose and giving a sniff.
It definitely wasn’t coffee in the cup.
And you definitely weren’t Jackson.
He stood in front of the cart and set the cup back onto the top of it, right next to the money he slapped down. His tongue swiped over his lips as he tried to fight the small wave of embarrassment flushing over him.
He looked over at you when you spoke, “Now I have to make myself another chai.” You didn’t sound mad or annoyed. You were just stating a fact.
“M’sorry,” he muttered. “Jackson usually has it ready and–” You waved a hand dismissively and put a stop to his rambling to start your own.
“Are you the judge who gets a coffee that’s half milk?” You ask. “Or the bailiff that gets a double shot with five sugars?” He watched as you bit down on your bottom lip, looking over his attire. He was wearing a suit and you could see it peeking from his long coat that wasn’t buttoned all the way to the top. His hair was styled perfectly and you were sure if he were to do a backflip right then and there, not a lock would move out of place. “Lawyer?” You question.
“Prosecutor,” he corrects. You roll your eyes. The hair on the back of his neck stands up and he finds himself needing to rid the taste of chai out of his mouth. “Dark roast, black, extra shot.” You let out a noise that he can only assume as recognition.
“You’re that guy,” you say and grab a new cup with one hand and a marker with the other. He watches you scribble something across it before making his drink and setting it on the counter. You finally took the money he set down and put it in the small, janky register.
Rafael paused for a moment, giving you one last glance over and debating on apologizing for his behavior again but decided against it. He grabbed the cup and you flashed him a smile before directing your attention to the person who stepped up to the cart after Rafael. And it happened to be Judge Barth, who flashed Rafael a small smile before ordering her drink.
Rafael gripped the warm cup and made his way towards the building that held his office. Before he stepped through the doors of Hogan Place, he lifted the cup up to his lips to take a sip but was distracted by two words that were scrawled onto his cup: THAT GUY.
It was colder today. Frost had taken over the city during the night and was slowly melting away as the sun tried to break through the clouds. Rafael had decided to add a scarf that his mother bought him last Christmas to his attire for the day.
He made his way down the street and up towards the coffee cart. Rafael was still surprised to see you perched behind the cart. You had a phone in your hand, thumb scrolling through the mess of news on your screen. You had a blue baseball cap on backwards and Rafael was sure it was the one Jackson always wore.
He cleared his throat to grab your attention. You looked from your phone and over to the prosecutor. He held two dollars in between his fingers and opened his mouth to speak but when he saw your eyes slink over from him and to the cart counter, he followed your gaze and saw a cup sitting off to the side slightly.
He was going to ask if it was his but then he saw the same words you had written on his cup yesterday. He couldn’t stop the rolling of his eyes. He didn’t see your mouth contorting into a smirk as he placed the money on the cart and grabbed the cup.
Hesitant, Rafael brought the cup up to his nose and took in a breath. It smelt like coffee. It smelt like his coffee. He took a sip and the roast rushed through him warmly. When he looked at you finally, you were already looking at him. “You're welcome, guy.” Rafael only nodded before stepping away.
When stepping up to the coffee cart the day after, Rafael looked at you for a long moment. You decided to be more obvious with his already made coffee and slid it over to him dramatically. You switched out the baseball cap for a thick wool beanie and your hands were dressed in black, fingerless gloves.
“So, where is he?” He asked. You rubbed your hands together before shooting him a questioning look.
“Do I not make your coffee as well as Jack?”
He took a sip. “I can’t be curious about my friend?”
“Appendicitis,” You say, “he’ll be back next week and so you won’t have to deal with a pleb making your coffee anymore.” While you spoke in a sort of deadpan manner, Rafael could see the playful glint in your eyes that told him that you weren’t serious.
“Ah, so this isn’t a full-time gig?”
A small smile graces your lips, “I’m busy with a job in an actual coffee shop that has heat and classes at I.C.E.,” You grab a cup that was hidden by the cash register and take a sip, hoping the chai would warm you against the chill of New York.
Rafael’s interest perked. “Chef or baker?”
A wider smile appeared on your face and you proudly stated, “Baker.”
“Do you want to open your own bakery?”
You give a shrug. “It’s a possibility.” Rafael watched as someone stepped up and asked for a coffee with extra cream in it. He stood to the side, watching your hands move from task to task. Your fingers plucked the two dollars from the unnamed person’s hands and you flashed a smile and a thank you.
A warmness invaded his chest. He took a large sip of his coffee, using that as an excuse to himself as to why that feeling was coming to him. All he was seeing was a person do a simple task. But there was an air about you that made him want to stand out for hours in the bitter air. He knew he couldn’t. He was sure Olivia and her team were frothing at the mouth to ask him to get warrants signed off by judges. His phone vibrated three times within the last ten minutes and he was sure it was his assistant Carmen needing to tell him important things.
When the other person left, you looked over at him again. “Same time tomorrow, guy?” Rafael gave a curt nod, taking a few steps back in the direction of his office before turning smoothly and quickly speeding off.
The snow had finally come.
The thin blanket affected people negatively or positively and there was simply no in-between. Cars seem to honk more insentently at Rafael as he crossed streets with other nameless people. Children laughed and threw handfuls of snow back up into the air as their parents tried to usher them through the icy streets.
The hustle and bustle of Hogan Place didn’t seem to slow down with the weather but Rafael did find himself walking more slowly up those stone steps that hid patches of ice. He could feel the cold air nipping at his ears and while he would’ve loved to throw a hat over his head, he didn’t want to mess up his hair today.
He caught himself fiddling with it in the mirror more this morning. He wasn’t sure why. He didn’t do anything different to it. He just felt this lingering and looming feeling that he should look nicer today.
When he finally made it over to the cart, he couldn’t make you out at first. His eyes quickly glanced over the dark bundle of coat. When he realized it was you, he saw the small shuffle of your feet you were doing and how your gloves had grown thicker and covered all of your fingers this time. You wore a hat that was fluffy, plaid, and had long flaps that covered your ears.
Oh, how Rafael wished he had something to cover his own ears.
Stepping up to the cart, you peeked your head out of the bundle of your coat and flashed a chittering smile towards Rafael. He gave back a lopsided smile, before uttering a quiet greeting in Spanish. You untuck one of your hands from your body and start to make his cup of coffee. You figured making it fresh would be better for today since the cold air would do its damndest to turn it to the dark side.
Pushing it towards him, you say, “Your ears are getting red, guy.”
Despite standing in the cold, Rafael could feel a warmth rush through his body. As if the warmth inside of him heard what you said, they made their way over to the tips of his ears. He wasn’t sure if they were getting more red or anything, but he hoped you wouldn’t notice.
To distract you, he said, “My name is Rafael.” He followed your gaze as it flickered from his chilly ears and locked with his own gaze. There was a silence between the two of you. You didn’t speak until you slid the freshly poured coffee towards him.
Rafael blinked once, twice.
“Rafael Barba,” he corrected. His Spanish accent came through and you made a small “oh” noise.
“Sorry about that,” you said, “but you were the one who handled the Optimum Air case? The female pilot was raped by her co-pilot?” Rafael reached for the cup on the cart counter. His fingers were cold and the warmth of the coffee did its best to fight against it. He nodded once. “I read about it in the paper.” You continue, “You exposed the whole company for being a dangerous place for women to work.” You shuffled in place, keeping your body moving to keep it warm. “It was really nice to read about.”
While the compliment was simple and he had gotten a lot of praise about his work on the case from judges, fellow lawyers, and even Olivia, that simple sentence made his grip tighten on his coffee cup. “Thanks,” he muttered out, “but uh, all the bravery comes from the victims.”
When you shot him a small but warm smile, he almost dropped his coffee. His grip loosened and he cleared his throat as he juggled it to his other hand. Trying to keep the cup stable while also hanging onto his briefcase in one hand, he dug for his money with the now free one.
You held up a gloved hand and shook your hand, “It’s on the house, Rafael.”
Another moment passed, “Gracias,” he said quietly while shifting his coffee cup to his free hand and straightening himself. “What is… your name?” He saw your lips turn upwards into a smile and you huffed out a small cloud of a chuckle.
“I already gave you free coffee,” you said, “only one perk per day, guy.”
“I see,” Rafael’s smile was small, “I can wait one more day.”