"That really happened to you didn't it?"
The look in his eyes tells her everything she needs to know. Yes. Yes, it did happen. That kid had terrorized Carisi, culminating in shoving his face through a plate glass window. She feels so bad that she can't go back in time and do anything for the kid that Carisi had been, scared and bleeding, with shards of glass in his face. Too terrified to speak his tormentor's name.
He had been quiet and sullen for what remained of the short afternoon. When he stands up, finished for the day, and starts packing up his things she walks over to his desk. "Carisi, do you want to come over for dinner or something?"
"You learn to cook?"
Their old mantra. Yet . . . she had a different answer this time.
"Yeah, actually I have."
"Now this I've got to see," he says as he tugs on his coat, his mood lightened somewhat.
She smiles softly, "Come on."
Food really does work, Amanda muses as she watches Carisi polish off her Barilla noodles smothered in traditional Prego. She can see him relax a little bit with each bite.
"More?" She offers him seconds from the heaping bowl of pasta that could easily feed six more people. The noodles hang over the sides of the pasta ladle in her hand like a rag doll's mop of hair.
"No, thank you. I'm fine." He waves it away and smiles at her. "You really did learn to cook."
"Just box stuff, really," she shrugs. "But I think I have gotten the hang of al dente."
"Not quite," he says a little sharply, but then softens. "But keep trying, Amanda. You're doing good."
They take the plates to the sink, and handle the after dinner chores as if by rote. He knows her kitchen and her routines intimately. So why won't she . . .
"Hey, 'Manda?" he asks as they're putting Jesse down.
"That. That, right there."
"How long have we known each other, huh?"
"I don't know, more than two years."
"Exactly!" he says adamantly.
"Remember how I introduced myself when I first arrived at Manhattan SVU?"
"I don't remember exactly, but I bet you probably included your usual corny greeting." She wrinkles her nose.
"It's not corny, Rollins –"
"Yeah, it is."
"The one ending in 'Call Me Sonny'?"
"Yeah, it is. Trust me."
"So why don't you?"
"Huh?" The confrontational non-sequitur makes her a touch uncomfortable – or is it his penetrating blue eyes? Boring into hers right now?
"Why don't you call me Sonny?"
"I don't know, Carisi – "
"C'mon, you can tell me," he says standing awfully close to her. "We're friends."
Friends. Yeah, right.
"I don't know, just . . . " she puts up a warning hand. "You're making me uncomfortable."
She steps away from him and heads into the living room. He follows. Very quietly, she can hear him say behind her, 'I really wish you'd call me Sonny,' almost as if he's speaking to himself.
Steeling herself, she pretends she doesn't hear. She doesn't really have a response for him. She has no idea what to say to him that won't hurt him. And after the day he's had, that's the last thing he needs.
She fluffs some pillows on the sofa, takes a seat, instructs Frannie to lay down at her feet, and pats the cushion beside her. "C'mon over here. We'll watch some TV. Zone out together."
"Zone out, huh?" he chuckles.
"Yeah, cause we're good friends," she sing songs and lightly places her head on his shoulder once he's seated. He puts his arm around her. "And you need some serious zoning time."
They zone so much that it's hours later when she notices that they've fallen asleep. Frannie has gotten bored and left the room and Jesse's still asleep in her crib. It's just the two of them. And he's agitated.
He's pulling at his collar in his sleep. Whimpering a little bit.
He's still lost in a dream and she notices that he's sweating profusely. No, this is not a dream, this is a nightmare.
"Hey," she says softly, stroking his face, trying to get him to wake up as gently as he can. But he only rejects her hands and starts pulling on his face with his own. Before she knows it, he is speaking disjointedly, thrashing his head from side to side. ". . . won't tell . . . I won't say your name . . . promise . . . I won't say it . . ."
"Sonny!" Amanda says firmly, capturing his head and holding it still between her hands. Keeping it motionless.
His blue eyes fly open and stare directly into hers, telegraphing his fright. Her heart jumps a little in fear for just a second.
"Sonny, it's okay," she says soothingly. "It was just a bad dream."
He pulls her into a tight hug. "No, no it wasn't. He really did those things to me Amanda, he really did."
She rubs his back, his neck in comfort. "Shh… It's okay, Sonny, it's okay. It's over."
"I couldn't tell on him Amanda, I couldn't." He says and breaks the hug. "I was such a wimp. A coward. That guy he attacked in the bar is dead because of me. I will carry that to my grave."
"You don't know that," She responds and he drops his head. She reaches out a hand to soothe him again, stroking his hair. "Hey, it's okay. You were just a kid."
"No, it's not okay. You're strong, Amanda. You would have kicked his ass right back. I'm not like you."
She wonders about that. "What does it matter? You were terrified. Completely terrified."
"I was," he admits quietly, still ashamed.
"And you were a kid," she re-emphasizes. "It's okay. I'm pretty sure nothing you could have done would have stopped him. Bobby sounds like a monster."
He flinches just hearing that name come from her mouth. But not the next one . . .
"Sonny," she says softly, resting her hand on his forearm, still soaked in sweat through his shirt. "It's okay . . ."
Suddenly, Bobby Bianchi is the last thing on his mind.
"'Sonny?' Did you just call me Sonny?"
Before she can even answer, he turns towards her and captures her lips in his. She does not resist, in fact, she meets his lips as eagerly as he meets hers. His fingers snake through the golden hair at the nape of her neck and pull her in for a deeper kiss as he simultaneously pushes her back onto the sofa. With his body heavy upon her, his lips and hands all over her, she finds it impossible not to softly sigh from time to time. And he moans in response, never one to stay quiet, as they move with each other, wanting more, yet holding back. Not a single layer of clothing is shed by the time his lips finally part from hers. Neither of them want to go too far.
"Thank you," he says, smiling down at her.
"For saying it."
She knows just what he's talking about and gets the biggest evil grin on her face. "What are friends for, 'Sonny?'"
He groans. "Just friends, huh?"
She shrugs and says non-committaly, "Maybe."