It seems like Sonny can’t catch a break with the lights. Four bulbs burned out in three days, and he’s pretty sure they’re all from the same pack. If he didn’t think it would be a total waste of time, he would call and complain to the manufacturer. But he has better things to do. Like heating up dinner for Rafael when he walks through the door at half past midnight.
Leftovers from Sunday’s SVU family dinner. Which Sonny’s taken over whenever Liv doesn’t have enough time to get groceries enough to feed the handful of people Sonny sees as family. That’s one thing Sonny’s really loved over the past six months.
“So it’s these two and the one in the bathroom that are out?” Barba asks while he rinses off his dishes.
“And now the one on my side of the bedroom. Last time I buy bulbs from the grocery store. Guess I’ll take a hike to the hardware store tomorrow.”
“Don’t worry about it, I’ll get them. There’s one on my way to the office anyway.”
One of the ways, Sonny thinks. He knows Rafael hasn’t taken the same route to work every day for months.
“That’d be swell.” He catches Rafael from behind, and smothers him with a few kisses over his cheek and neck.
“What’re you doing?” Rafael chuckles. “That tickles.”
“Hey, it ain’t a crime to show some love, is it? Cuz if it is, you can lock me up.”
“You should know I’m not into bondage by now.”
“Yeah, figured that out a while ago, counselor.” He catches Barba’s lips with his own for a moment, only to let go. “Come on, let’s get some sleep. I’m exhausted now that I’m back on the job.”
“You mean back do doing something besides desk duty.” Barba corrects, but follows Sonny to bed anyway. When they get into bed, Barba flicks off the lamp on his side, and soon they’re both out. What they wake to is the sounds of a thousand nightmares.
Sonny misses their door being opened, the lamp on the far side of their room- the one that’s used so little that the bulb is black, making everything a muted brown- being clicked on. What he hears is a loud smack, and it jolts him awake.
Everything’s blurry, distorted, and it takes a few seconds for Sonny to find his hands. And to realize what that hard-hitting sound is.
When it’s accompanied by Barba’s screams, he understands. He sees a hand, holding a gun, being raised. Only to land down on his boyfriend’s temple.
Sonny doesn’t talk, doesn’t think, just lunges at this intruder that’s striking Rafael. He grabs the guy by the arm holding the gun, only to have the other hand wrap around his throat. Whoever this man is, he’s strong. Strong enough to throw Sonny back into the wall above their bed, only to land on the floor next to their bed. A sharp pain shoots through the younger man while he hears a clatter, a hard struggle. For a moment, he can’t even breathe.
“HELP!” He hears Barba scream, and he hears a punch landed, followed by another blow from the pistol. “HELP! SOMEONE HELP!”
Sonny shakes when he, finally, pulls himself up. He yanks open his drawer and feels around, looking for what he needs. Then, he pulls himself up onto the empty mattress. There’s something wrong, Sonny thinks, because now everything is fuzzy around the edges. Still, he sees what’s happening. He sees a dark figure pinning down Rafael. The criminal is all black fabric and a shiny pistol, and he can see it’s against Barba’s head. It’s why he’s stopped screaming. And Sonny knows he only has one shot before the perp realizes Sonny is conscious.
But everything is getting fuzzier. He has a hard time making out what part of the intruder he’s aiming for. In a split second, his gun goes off, and Rafael screams again.
“Rafe? Rafe did I hit you?” Sonny asks, scrambling over to him. The smaller pushes the dead weight of the man off of himself just enough to get out from under him. Sonny’s heart skips a beat when he sees the blood stain on his shirt. And on the bare skin of his hips.
“Sonny.” He breathes, scrambling over to Carisi and clinging onto him, covering him in the perp’s blood. He feels sick when he realizes his pajama pants are gone, trapped under the dead body in their bedroom.
“Oh god…oh god, are you hurt?’ Sonny asks, and pulls back to look at Rafael. He’s bleeding, there’s an open wound in his face. But Sonny’s not quite sure how bad it is, he can’t tell where the cut ends and the blood begins. He can’t really see him. “You…you don’t look right…” Sonny says, and blinks hard a few times.
“Sonny?” Rafael asks in a shaky voice, the closest Sonny’s heard him to crying in a long while. He rests a hand on Sonny’s neck, only to yank it away. “Y-You’re bleeding! Oh my god, sit down.”
“W-What…?” Sonny asks, but he has to comply. His legs are wobbly, and he’s not sure. “Oh…oh, Rafe….oh man, we need to…call…”
Sonny lays back horizontally over their bed. Rafe trips over himself- and the dead body- to grab his phone, and dials 911.
“911, what’s your emergency?”
“Hello, hello” Rafale’s yelling into the phone, but he can’t help himself. “There’s a dead intruder in my home. My boyfriend is bleeding from the back of his skull. I was almost sexually assaulted.”
Everything tumbles out, a far cry from his normally eloquent sentences. He has to spit out their address, then grabs Sonny, shaking him to stay awake.
Amanda and Olivia come by to take the statement, even though it feels like a violation. Like they should recuse themselves, because this is someone who’s practically family. But still they go to Barba, because they know he needs someone he can trust with his statement. Rollins takes it hard, seeing Barba with his face bruising over, and the cut on his face needing a bandage.
“Hey Counselor.” Liv offers. He glances at the pair of them, and clears his throat.
“Detectives. Here to take my statement even though you’re way too close to this case?”
“Relaxr, we’re just here to take your statement.” Rollins offers in a sympathetic voice. “Are you up to it?”
“Yes. Yes, let’s do it now, before I forget.”
Liv takes out a pad to write his statement on. For a moment he’s taken aback, realizing just how many times he’s dealt with people in the situation he’s in now: first violated, then stripped, now sitting with the two nice detectives while waiting for a rape kit to be done. If it weren’t for that kit, he would’ve showered before the police showed.
He takes a deep breath, and stares at the generic green curtain in the room, his words coming out slowly but evenly.. “Me and Sonny, we went to sleep around…one? A little after one, maybe? I was sound asleep. And then, I woke up to someone pistol whipping me. I tried yelling, tried to get away. Sonny…he tried to get the guy off me, but this guy was strong. He grabbed Sonny by the throat, and threw him back against the wall.”
His eyes squeeze shut, and he swallows hard. “God, I thought he was dead. The sound his head made when it broke through the wall…and then he just landed on the ground, with a thud. I tried to get away, ended up knocking over a lamp and a picture frame. He…he, uh…”
The two women wait for him to continue his steady flow of words. And, after a few deep breaths, he does.
“I kept yelling, until I felt the gun press to my head. Then…his free hand, reached down and pushed off my pants. Pushed them down to my knees. He was…he was ready. He managed to get himself out, and he was….erect. Started humping against my leg, like a dog. He was…already leaking. Onto my thigh. And then I heard a shot, and his body went limp on top of me. I pushed him off, and I checked on Sonny, but he was bleeding…there was blood, everywhere. I got blood on my phone, when I called 911. I got blood on Sonny. Then…I put on, um, the pair of boxers that they’re processing. And I kept Sonny conscious, until EMS got to us.”
“They brought us here, took my clothes…I’ve been waiting twenty minutes.”
“Okay, that’s very good.” Liv says in her usual tending-to-victims voice. “Is there anything else?”
“No…not that I can remember.”
“You tell us if you remember anything new, though. You know that.” Rollins reassures him.
“I know the drill, detectives.” He says, just as a nurse comes in to start the kit.
“Should we step out?” Liv asks.
“No. No, one of you can stay.” He reassures. They share a look, before Rollins nods slightly.
“I’ll go…wait for Carisi to wake up, so I can take his statement.”
Her footsteps are light, like she’s trying to keep weight off her heels as she leaves. Liv takes a seat next to the exam table and waits with him. The nurse, she takes care of him, going through the process. Barba won’t look at her while they examine him, or at the nurse. He’s quiet, keeping his eyes on the floor or the ceiling, anywhere he won’t have to look someone in the eye and see them pity him.
It takes another hour for Carisi to wake up. But when he does, he sits up quick, and his pulse spikes.
“Woah, woah don’t do that.” Rollins chides, gently pushing him back into the bed. His bright blue eyes search for a second before realizing it’s her.
“Hey, Carisi. How’re you feeling?”
He lets out a sigh. “Where’s Barba?”
“He’s okay. I left him with Liv.” Her voice lowers. “They’re doing a rape kit. Should be done in a little while.”
Carisi’s face crumbles, and he tries to look everywhere but at his partner. “Oh god…oh god, oh god…”
“Hey, shh, shh it’ll be okay.” She tells him, resting a hand on his shoulder. “Breathe for me, Sonny. Take a few. He’s alive, he’s going to be okay.”
He presses the heels of his hands into his eyes, his ID bracelet sliding down his lanky arm. It takes him a few good minutes before he can actually talk again.
“Amanda…this guy just opened a window, walked into our bedroom, turned on a fucking light, and I didn’t hear one damn thing. If…if I’d slept one second longer…” His breathing hitches again, and Rollins puts her hand on his shoulder.
“It’s okay Carisi, it’s okay. You took the shot when you needed to, and you saved him.”
“I-I’ve never shot that thing before, off the job. I-I…god, I couldn’t see straight, after I hit my head…I-I thought I hit him.”
“But you didn’t. You saved him. You stopped it. You trusted your cop instincts, and they won out.”
“Amanda. You know that those things can go both ways.” He wipes his face with the back of his hand. “I feel sick.”
“Just lay back, Carisi. Take it easy. When you’re feeling ready, I’ll take your statement.”
Olivia returns after an hour with some clothes for Rafael, and for Sonny. Just whatever she thought looked comfortable, and was easiest to grab with CSU still crawling around.
“Thanks Lieutenant.” Barba says, taking the bag with their clothes, but he doesn’t move from where he’s sitting on the gurney.
“Should I give you some space?” She asks. He looks at her, face blank.
“I…I don’t know what to do.”
“I’m sure if you wanted to shower first, I could find-“
“That’s not what I meant. But, if you could, I’d really appreciate it.”
“I’m sorry Barba, what did you mean?” She asks, stepping closer.
“Lieutenant…Olivia…how do you move past this? This man is dead, but I don’t know if there’s more of them out there. Or how many. I don’t know how to get closure on all of this. I’m not sure it’s even possible yet.”
“Well…I don’t know about all that. But I do know you have a support system. And you have Sonny.”
“I have Sonny…Sonny, who’s never going to forgive himself for this.”
She opens her mouth to protest, but stops herself. She knows better. A moment goes by before she speaks.
“You can come stay with me and Noah for a few days while your apartment is straightened out.”
“Detective Benson, I don’t think-“
“It’s settled. You’ll be safe at my place. Just one less thing for you to worry about. And we’ll probably get a security detail on you now.”
He sighs and looks down at the bag in his lap. These clothes, which he’s pretty sure he won’t wear again after today. “There’s too much…too much. Just too much.”
“Is there anything you need? Anything I can get you?” She asks after a minute of silence.
“Find out about that shower. Please.”
They let Rafael go once his kit is done. The shower, a shower in an empty post-op room a few floors up, is quick but necessary. Olivia waits outside his door on high alert, and sends a text to Rollins every few minutes. She knows Barba was right about not knowing who else is out there. Who knows, maybe someone had eyes on the ambulance when they brought them both in? Either way, she’s not risking something else happening.
When Barba comes out, he looks exhausted. Under the fluorescent lights his usual paleness is completely washed out, turning him blue.
“Any word?” He asks. She shakes her head.
“We’re waiting to hear back. ME should be getting in around 5, we’ll know after that who this guy was.”
His nods, his face tired.
“They’re letting you go now. And they’re letting Sonny go soon.”
“Can I see him?”
“Uh, I think so. I haven’t stopped by yet. Rollins is with him though.”
“Good. He’s safe.”
She nods, reassuring, leading him in the direction of the room number Rollins texted her. They get there, and Olivia’s not surprised when Barba falters. She walks the rest of the way to the door, and looks back at him, waiting for some sort of confirmation. She’s unnerved to see how worried he looks. And not the same kind of worried when a jury takes an afternoon instead of an hour on an open-and-shut worry. There’s actual fear in his eyes.
He takes a few long breaths before going into the room, stepping slowly. Carisi looks up, his eyes fixing on his boyfriend. The largest cut, the one above Barba’s left eye, is covered with a bandaid. But there’s nothing to cover the smaller cuts, or the bruises surfacing on his face.
Carisi doesn’t wait for Barba to get to the bed. He gets up, despite the head injury, and limps over to him, his hands cupping the older man’s face. His own face falls apart again, his lips and his eyes squishing closed to hold back cries. Barba leans into his touch, letting their foreheads touch. He can feel the tension in Carisi’s, and the pain in his own.
“I-I’m sorry.” Sonny breaths, his hands shaking. “I-I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Rafael can’t find his voice at first. It takes him a few attempts before he can push out, in an unfamiliarly high pitch “D-don’t be….I’m sorry.”
“No, n-no this isn’t your fault. This isn’t.” Sonny tries, but his tears come full force.
Barba shakes his head, but doesn’t lose contact with Sonny. “It is, it is”
This is the great and terrible thing they’ve been dreading since Rafael flippantly handed out his address to the man paid to stalk him. He had no way of knowing who got ahold of that address, until now. Barba’s sure of it. But Sonny won’t concede, especially not now.
“No, never. I-I should’ve heard…should’ve…you could’ve…” He chokes up for a minute on his sobs, and Rafael can’t help doing the same. “C-C-Can I h-hug you?” Sonny chokes out. Rafael tries to say yes, but even opening his mouth threatens to let out more cries. He purses his lips, shuts his eyes, and just nods instead. Sonny drops his hands from Rafael’s face, wrapping one around his waist and the other around his shoulders, completely encircling Barba, letting him cry against his hospital gown.
Amanda glances at her Lieutenant, only to quietly get out of her chair and take her post outside the room, closing the door for their privacy.