It’s after work and he finds his way to the lockers. Standing in front of his own, it starts. The smarting.
Lifting his hands to his face, they come away clean. He could have sworn there’d be blood there. Blood and shards of glass. He breathes a sigh of relief. Okay, yes he can hold it together. Nothing’s wrong here.
But then he brushes his badge accidentally as he reaches up to his locker. The smarting starts again, full force. His face is covered in blood – he just knows it. The warm blood of a fresh kill. In horror, he finds himself collapsing in front of the bank of lockers, his reason for even being there forgotten.
And that’s how she finds him.
Hey, wasn’t Carisi still here? Amanda thinks to herself. There’s no one in the precinct to ask. It’s deserted at the end of the day. And what a rough day it had been, with Carisi finally convincing Jack to testify against his abusive father. He had had to reveal a painful part of his past in order to do so and now she’s worried about him - ever since he walked away from her in silence . . . with that terrible expression on his face . . . it makes her shudder.
Better look around.
It doesn’t take long before she finds him on the floor in front of the lockers, sitting in an awkward position like he had been at Sergeant Cole’s house - sitting just like he had been when she had found him, blood still staining his face, long after Liv had fired those shots. Except now he is facing away from her, his head buried in his hands.
“Sonny?” she says tentatively.
She walks over to him carefully and crouches down in front of him.
“Sonny?” she says softly, gently touching his hands. They remain cradling his face. There’s no need to ask if he’s okay. It’s obvious he’s not.
The smarting is intense. It won’t stop. He keeps seeing Bobby Bianchi’s snarling face as he grabs his hair, keeps feeling the impact with the window over and over again. The overwhelming fear that one huge shard of glass will slit his throat if he doesn’t remove himself carefully once he’s through. And the blood – Sergeant Coles, his own, and the stabbing smarting pain of little pieces of glass, sticking out from his face. He feels all of it - all at once.
Vaguely, he realizes he must look affright, but right now he doesn’t care about anyone else – what they may think. He only cares about himself and his survival. And all he can feel is a deep rage . . .
“Sonny?” There’s that soft voice again. Somewhere in the future. Or is it the present?
He lets himself feel her hands. The soothing ones that are on top of his own. He takes her hands and holds onto them, removing both of them from his face.
“It hurts,” he tells her. It really does. The blood pulsing to his face with every heartbeat, pounding through the pain of every cut and bruise from the past. It’s unbearable.
“Talk to me about it,” she says.
“Are you serious?”
“Yes.” She sits down with him now, no longer crouching, but doesn’t let go of his hands. “I want to know what you’re going through.”
He sighs deeply and hangs his head.
“It’s going to change me, Amanda. Change me into something I don’t want to become.”
“All this rage.”
“This job. The cases we deal with every day. Up close and personal. That kid Jack, I want to feel sorry for him, but he’s a monster.” He shakes his head in disgust.
Amanda wasn’t expecting him to say that, he had seemed so sympathetic with Jack’s plight when he interrogated him this afternoon. But then again, Carisi had always been good at making perps feel like he was one of them – even the most revolting ones. And he wasn’t like them. Not at all.
“Jack killed his friend – his friend – by sexually assaulting him with a hockey stick.”
He sounds like he wants to cry, hitching some, but doesn’t. Amanda just waits, knowing he has more to say.
“What kind of kid does that, Amanda, if they’re not a monster?” He turns towards her, a questioning look in his eye. “If they’re not damaged beyond repair.”
“Well his father did –“
“Yeah, I know. His father made him what he is now. But did he have a choice in how he turned out? Do I?”
“Sonny . . .”
“Bobby Bianchi’s father was the same. The exact same!” The smarting is starting up fiercely again as his rage boils to the surface. He drops her hands so he can clench his own into fists. “That kid destroyed so many lives. Not just mine.”
And then out of the blue he lets out an almost hysterical laugh. “But here’s the kicker – Did he have a choice? And does it even matter?”
“I’m sure he had a choice.”
“Really?” Carisi has the most haunted look in his eyes.
“I think so,” she says meekly, but doesn’t even really believe what she’s saying. She really doesn’t know. “But you . . .”
“Yeah, you. You’re an adult. You have a choice over whether or not you let your rage consume you.”
“I don’t think so,” he says sarcastically. “I really don’t think so. We see the most horrific stuff every single day and I just don’t think I can contain it anymore.”
He turns away from her and puts his hands back on his face. “There’s so much blood. So much blood and pain here. I thought it was over – I thought I was past this. So many years ago . . .” He starts breathing heavily, and rocking a little.
“Hey,” she says softly, and the second she touches him it starts. The ragged crying, the jagged breaths. She had always been uncomfortable around any man showing strong emotions like this, any man letting his guard down. But this time?
This time she just wraps him safely and securely in her arms and rocks him, letting his torrent of tears fall onto her blouse.
“It hurts,” he cries. “It hurts so much.”
“I know,” she says gently as she strokes his hair, “I know.”
She hopes she can somehow soothe this rage that’s been building inside of him for a while now - and if he can just cry some maybe it will help to get it out- but she has about as much hope as he does. This job . . . sometimes you can't escape.
She rests her cheek on his head and sighs.