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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.

Chapter Text

Both men still have tears on their faces when the doctors discharge Sonny. They’re exhausted, in pain, and the sun is peeking through the poor excuse for hospital curtains.

“Um…the Lieutenant, she asked if I needed anything…I sent her to get us clothes.” Barba says when they’re alone again. Still, he keeps his voice low.

“Oh. That was nice of her.” Sonny says back, and he scans the room. “That them?” He asks, catching sight of the bag next to the door. Barba follows his gaze, then nods and retrieves it for him.

“There’s something else in there, too.”


“They, um…they took your gun, for the investigation. And…just, with everything…” Barba hugs himself, looking at the bag instead of Sonny. “Your taser is in there.”

“Oh.” Sonny looks in the bag, and pulls out his clothes carefully now. Sure enough, inside his folded up sweatshirt is his stun gun. A little part of him is relieved that he doesn’t have his gun right now, but he won’t say that to Rafael.

“I gotta thank her later.” He mutters.

“You’ll have time. She’s putting us up for now.” Rafael adds, looking at the wall now instead. Again, Sonny looks at him.


“She offered. And insisted. I didn’t want to argue.”

“Yeah, of course not. Okay, so, we got that going for us.” The younger man nods to himself before stripping off his hospital gowns, then dresses himself. He slips his taser into the pocket of the sweatshirt it came wrapped in, then goes to Rafael. He meets his eye for a second, before looking at his face. The bruises are fully bloomed now, and they stoke Sonny’s low burning anger under his exhaustion.

“Okay?” Rafael asks. Sonny nods.

“Okay. Come on, let’s get outta here.”


The sun is risen by the time the four of them get back to Liv’s apartment, but its rays are hidden behind an overcast. Barba knows Liv’s apartment, he’s been there before, but his stomach twists when it comes into view. He’s not sure if Liv really thought about the logistics of having the two of them there if someone is out to get him. If she considered what could happen to Noah. The guy tried to kill Sonny, anybody around Barba would be collateral damage.

Rollins waits out in the car, keeping an eye out, while Liv leads the two of them up to her apartment.

“Alright, bedroom’s right through there, you two can have it.”

“Lieutenant-“ Sonny tries.

“No.” she protests. “You two need your rest. I can bunk with Noah. There’s food in the fridge, there’s going to be a patrol car outside. Lucy will be back with Noah around three today.” With that, Benson disappears into Noah’s room, and the two of them hear the hushed babysitter’s voice. It’s only a few seconds before she reappears, nonplussed. “I’ll let you know what I can when I can. Scout’s honor.”

“You’re leaving already?” Sonny asks.

“We have to get in, make sure everything goes through.”

“Wait, you’re telling me that Special Victim’s is handling this?” Barba cuts in.

“For the moment, yes. When we find someone we can trust with the case, we’ll turn it over.”

“Really? You need to build a case?” Sonny asks again, cocking his head.

“We gotta do this by the books. Make sure nothing happens that shouldn’t.” Olivia assures, and pats his arm. “We’ll be ready to have you back on the job in no time.”

“Thanks Lieu. I appreciate it.”

“It’s nothing, really. You two just….get some rest. Do what you need to. Help yourself, what’s mine is yours.”

“Thank you, Detective Benson.” Rafael says in earnest. They both watch her leave. They both wait for the click of the lock. After a minute of them just standing there, one of Sonny’s hands rests on Rafael’s back.

“Let’s get settled in.” He offers, voice low. Rafael just nods, letting himself be led. He doesn’t quite believe it when he’s standing in the Lieutenant’s bedroom. A surreal feeling washes through him, and he’s not quite sure what to do. But then his stomach doubles over in knots, and he suddenly feels more exposed when his brain reminds him that he’s hiding here. It forces him to sit on the edge of her bed and hide his head in his hands.

The night comes back so vivid. The cold metal slamming against his face, the sound of Sonny hitting the wall, the…

Rafael forces his eyes open, and stares at the carpet instead of the evening replaying behind his eyelids. He feels the bed dip next to him, and without checking, leans into Sonny. A lanky arms wraps around his shoulders.

“It’s too much.” Rafael murmurs. “It’s all too much.”

“I know, Rafe, I know.” Sonny murmurs against his hair, and pecks the top of his head. Barba reaches out, taking his free hand between his own and holds it tight.

There’s pain in their silence. Pain as they sit there, listening to Lucy get Noah ready on the other side of their door. Listening to her leave with him. Listening to their dead quiet.

“How’re you holding up?” Sonny finally asks, and squeezes his arm.

“I’m not sure.” Barba answers. “I’m tired. Very tired. And very numb.”

“Makes sense, though. I mean, you know, people go numb all the time after being assaulted.” Barba makes a small, incredulous noise. “What?”

“It seems so unreal that this happened to me.”

“Of course. How many times have we heard victims say the same thing?”

“You really think I’m a victim?”

Sonny quiets, pulls away, and looks at him incredulously. “You’re kidding.”

“I’m just saying, nothing happened.”

“No, not ‘nothing’ happened, ‘something’ happened. Enough ‘something’ was going to happen that this fuck turned on a light so he could see it happen.”

Those words make the panic rise in Rafael’s chest. He puts his head in his hands again. Then Sonny has a hand on his back, rubbing it gently.

“Shh, shh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you, I’m sorry.”

A few shuddering breaths later, Barba looks at him, his eyes full of fear. Sonny moves his hand, gently touching his face.

“I’m so sorry. I’m so so sorry. What can I do?”

“Stay with me. Please.”

“Okay, okay. You wanna try and sleep?”

“Sleep. Sure, why not, let’s give it a shot.”

The sarcasm makes things almost feel normal. Sonny pecks his cheek, and moves to get under the blanket. When Barba thinks how odd this all is, he’s reminded of how he got here, and it makes sleep that much more elusive. Still, he gets in bed with Sonny.

“If you want to talk, you know I’ll listen.” Sonny offers after a while spent staring at the ceiling. Barba makes a slight, noncommittal noise. Sonny is quiet, waiting, hoping that Rafael will talk to him about this.

“I felt better having Benson there. She knows how this goes, she’s seen it hundreds of times. She would know if something was happening that shouldn’t be, or vice versa.”

He swallows, and takes a breath. “While I was laying there, staring at the ceiling, letting them…poke, and prod at me…I felt like a living crime scene.”

His head turns to look at Sonny, and he can see how his blue eyes are pink around the edges. A hand comes over to Barba’s face, and rests gently against his uninjured cheek.

“Someone…someone hurt you. And they were gonna kill you…” Sonny quiets, realizing he doesn’t know why he’s talking. When the small distance between them hurts too much, Rafael rolls over onto his boyfriend. He’s careful where he places his head, his injuries still inflamed. Sonny’s arms are delicate the way they wrap around Barba.

“I…I’m going to need some time. Before I can be with you again.” Rafael murmurs. He feels like a teenager saying it the way he does. One of Sonny’s hands moves over his back, and down his arm before finding his hand, giving it a gentle squeeze.

“Whatever it takes. It can be a day, a month, a year, a decade- doesn’t matter.” He brings Barba’s hand to his lips, and kisses it a few times. “You need to heal. Right now, I don’t care about any of that. I just care that you’re safe.”

With their bodies pressed so close, it makes them feel safe. The room is warm, the curtains block whatever light slips past the clouds, and Liv’s bed is incredibly soft. It’s enough to get Rafael to at least doze.

Until there’s a loud clatter, and both of them jolt upright. Carisi’s body becomes fixed, and he moves stiffly over to his discarded sweatshirt, pulling out his taser. He holds it like a gun, which it looks like at a quick glance, while slowly opening the door. Rafael watches, frozen, stuck to his place on the bed. He watches Sonny make his way out into the apartment. His ears burn from listening for his footsteps, and then there’s silence.

“Rafe, come on out.” Sonny calls after another minute. It’s a struggle to move, but he makes himself, and pulls his sweatshirt tighter around his body. He sees Sonny with his posture relaxed, leaning back on his good leg, taser down. He turns to look at Barba, then steps away to show him a heap of blocks. The way some are laid out makes it look like there was once a larger structure. “It’s okay, see?”

Rafael nods, and comes over to Sonny, hugging him tight. Sonny kisses the top of his head a few times, arms around Barba, the taser loose in his grip.

“Okay, we really need some sleep. But we can’t do it like this. You want some Benadryl or something?”

“Yeah.” He nods, too out of himself for real words.

“Okay.” Sonny tells him. That’s such a huge promise in one single word.

Chapter Text

It takes an entire day before the guys can get into their apartment again. That night, around seven, the two of them, plus Liv and Fin get out of the squad car they’ve borrowed, and head upstairs. The first thing Rafael notices is the overwhelming smell of bleach, and it makes his stomach turn.

“Let us know if you need help.” Fin offers. “We’ll be out here.”

“Thanks guys, really.” Carisi tells him. Liv nods, and shuts the door, leaving them alone together. Barba heads straight to their bedroom, keeping his head down and trying to avoid any deep breaths or mirrors. He doesn’t look up when he enters their bedroom, going straight for their closet. Sonny follows, grabbing clothes enough to last him a week or two. From the amount of carpet ripped off the floor, it’s going to be at least that much time until they can come back.

Barba is all business, going from the closet to their wardrobe, pulling things without even looking at them. He’s thinking the same way as Sonny, packing a week’s worth of clothes, including a pair of suits. He figures maybe if he has them then he’ll force himself to go to work. He zips his suitcase decisively, and for a second he just stands there, looking at the drawers, trying to decide something. When Sonny steps out of the closet with his duffel, he pauses.

“You okay, Rafe?”

“Yeah. I’m just thinking…I need my…you know what? I’ll buy a new phone charger.”

“Nah, nah don’t do that. I’ll go get it.” Sonny squeezes his boyfriend’s shoulder, before going over to his side of the bed. There’s a huge patch of bare flooring, reminding Sonny exactly of what he saw, exactly where it happened. He sorts through his bedside table, quickly, pulling out his charger and a few other things he think Rafael will want. His hands shake when they close the drawer. The lamp on top rattles, but without a bulb he’s not so worried about breaking it.

“Okay I’ve got your charger, keys, chapstick, mace, anything else you want out of that drawer?”

“No I’m okay.” Rafael doesn’t look at the items, shoving them in his pocket. “Can we go?”

“Sure, just a few more minutes and we can go. How about you wait in the living room?”

“No, no, I’ll just…” He takes an extra deep breath, only to regret it. “I’ll go wait in the living room.”

Five minutes and a bag of packed toiletries later, the two of them walk out, making both detectives turn.

“That was fast.” Fin comments.

“We knew what we needed. Shall we go?” Barba insists.

“Yeah, c’mon counselor, let’s get you guys back to Liv’s.”

Fin takes long strides to keep up with Barba, who’s practically running away. Carisi keeps pace with Liv, avoiding her glances and the questions they lead to.

He doesn’t look at her straight on until they’re back to the apartment, and even then it’s by accident, while she’s holding Noah. He makes a few funny faces at him, getting the little guy to giggle, before they look at each other.

“Alright Noah, sweet boy, go play in your room.” She says, and sets him down. He wanders off, and she waits until he’s gone before looking at Carisi. “So, how’re you handling things?”

He purses his lips, then shrugs. “If I’m honest? I’m glad I don’t have my gun.”


“I know, I know, it was a good shot. But still…I’ve never done that, before. Especially not off duty.” He pushes a hand through his un-slicked hair, but a few strands fall in his face. Liv is struck by how young he looks. She pats his shoulder.

“I know. Still, that was a good shot. With your sight messed up-“

“That’s the thing. I keep running it over, wondering what would’ve happened if I was just a little off-“

“Hey, you can’t play that game. That game is ugly. Just take a breath, and be glad for the people you still have.” She waits a moment, letting him chew on that. “How about Barba?”

“He…it’s what you’d expect. Rationalizing that it wasn’t that bad, or that it could’ve been worse, then realizing what it was supposed to be, then remembering it actually was...he keeps avoiding mirrors, doesn’t want any more reminders. Not that I blame him. Hell, I don’t want to remember that either.” He shudders and crosses his arms. “Just gettin’ through. He keeps saying he wants to get outta your way as soon as possible, but between you me and the floorboards, I think he feels better bein’ here.”

“You do?”

“And worse. Because he’s waiting for the next hit to go down. Doesn’t want something happening to you or Noah, y’know?”

“I understand.” She reassures. “You two stay as long as you need.”

“Thanks Lieu. Hey, you know anything yet?”

“Uh…Carisi, you know I can’t share that.”

“Alright.” He shrugs. “Worth a shot, anyway. Let me know when you’re all closed out.”

Chapter Text

It takes another four days to get Barba to go outside. Even with the constant patrol car and the reassurance that SVU is close to getting the case closed, it takes Noah to get him out of the house. Noah, who comes home the second night the men are with them with a drawing of a rainbow for Barba. Who, along with that picture, says he hopes his booboos heal fast and he feels better. That same kid asks ‘Rafe’ to go to the park with him and Lucy. They take the squad car to and from the park, and Noah thinks it’s a whole bunch of fun not having to walk.

Olivia’s heart swells a little at what she sees when she walks in: Noah asleep in Barba’s lap.

“Looks like someone had a good day.”

Barba looks up. “I guess so. Funny, how a good day for a kid is one that tires them right out.”

“He seems to love you.”

“I let him watch TV, I read him a story, and I gave him dessert before dinner, of course he loves me.” He says matter of factly, even with his arm still around the sleeping child.

“Well, still, it’s nice to see you two together. You look relaxed.”

“I don’t feel relaxed.” Barba says softly. Liv waits. “How do you still do this job after having a child? With all the filth we see every day, involving kids Noah’s age and younger. How can you still do it?”

She purses her lips, and runs a hand through her son’s hair. “I’m not sure. But I’ve managed this far.”

They sit in silence for a long while.

“Nobody would blame you, if you didn’t want to work with SVU anymore. If you transferred out of sex crimes”

“You should know me better than that, lieutenant.”

“Just know, it’s out there.”

“I know it is.” He says simply. They sit there for some time, just watching TV, letting Noah sleep. After a few minutes, Olivia gets up and goes into her room to change. She flicks on the light, then stops short when she sees Carisi asleep, sprawled out on the bed. Again, it pains her to notice how young he looks, especially while asleep. She turns the light back off and grabs a few things from her closet, and slowly makes her way into the bathroom. When she comes out, he’s awake and sat up, pulling a sweatshirt over his bare chest.

“Good morning.” She comments, making him look up. He yawns.

“Mornin’ Lieu.” He says past his yawn, and stretches his arms out in front of him, then relaxes. “W’time is it?”

“A little after six.”

“Oh. Wow. Guess I’ve been out all day. Everything okay?”

“Yeah, everything’s good. Noah roped Barba into going to the park.”

He laughs and rubs his eye. “Wow, that’s somethin’. How’d he get him to do that?”

“I guess he’s just that persuasive.”

“Well, that’s just damn adorable.” He stretches again, this time over his head, then drops his arms.

“So you’ve been asleep all day?” She asks. He shrugs.

“Just didn’t sleep last night, y’know? Haven’t really slept at night in…um…” he can’t tell what day it is. “Couple days. You, uh, you know anything yet Lieu? Anything you can tell me?”

She shakes her head. “Sorry. Soon, though. Very soon.”

“Very soon.” He murmurs and nods, then sighs. “Alright. Well. Guess I should do something. Just starin’ at a wall’s gonna drive me nuts.”

She nods and leaves him be. A few minutes later he comes out, dressed in jeans and an NYPD t-shirt. He plops next to Barba and kisses his cheek, putting an arm around him. Noah’s been moved to his bed.

“Welcome back to the land of the living.” Barba jokes, leaning into him.

“Glad to be here. You have an okay day?”

“I think so. Spent some of it with Noah. Spent the rest of it with the TV.”

“Good, means you’re taking it easy.”

“Something like that.”

“Hey, let’s go get a drink.” Sonny says, making Barba look at him.

“What?” He cracks an amused smile. It still looks wrong to Sonny, seeing that smile and those bruises on the same face.

“Yeah. I haven’t had a drink since this all started. C’mon, I know you could use a scotch.”

He shrugs. “I could go for one.”

“See? Come on, let’s go. There’s a cop bar not too far from here.”

Barba lets himself go along with it. Going out the second time is easier than the first. Barba lets Liv know they’re going out for a drink, and she gives a smirk, but doesn’t voice how interesting she finds it. Really, the place is very close to Liv’s apartment, and in the squad car it’s only a five minute ride. Barba keeps his head down, avoiding anyone’s eye. Sonny’s hand rests on his back, guiding him over to the bar where they sit.

For a moment, they’re normal. Just a couple guys getting a scotch and a beer and sitting together in companionable silence. Sonny won’t push him to talk here, around so many prying ears. It’s not a private place.

“Hey, Barba, Carisi” both their heads turn to see an officer they don’t know coming over to them. “We heard what happened, in your home. How they targeted you, just for doing your job. Just know that whatever happened with Munson, whatever happened with Reynolds, this is different from all that. We’ve got your back.”

Carisi look at Barba, but Barba doesn’t give himself away.

“Well, thus far the brothers in blue haven’t been the most reliable group for me” Barba offers “But I would like to believe you now.”

“Hey, I get it.” This stranger says again. “We can be a stubborn bunch. But someone tries to take down one of their own, in their own freaking bed, we can’t let that slide.”

“Good to know, man” Sonny holds his fist out for a bump, which he gets.

“Officer Lowsa, from the two-seven. Good to know you both.” The stranger introduces before taking off.

“Do you believe that?” Barba murmurs, his face focused on the liquor bottles while he sips.

“No.” Carisi answers, and sips his beer.

“What do you think?” Barba asks.

“I think I can count on one hand the number of people not trying to fuck us over, and that’s it.”

Barba sighs and drains his glass, then nods to the bar tender. Sonny puts a hand over his and squeezes gently. It’s a good thing too, because picking up his glass with his left hand makes Rafael drink slower. They sit in their own little bubble, with quite a few people working not to look at them.

“People are avoiding us.”

“You’re surprised?” Rafael asks. Sonny shrugs.

“Not really.”

“I prefer the not looking to the open staring. It was bad enough at the park. You know how many parents were gawking at me? Probably thinking I was a domestic case.”

“How do you know that’s what they thought? You can’t read minds.”

“I don’t have to. One of the moms came over to me when Lucy stepped away, and asked if ‘my son’ and I needed help.”

“Oh. Oh wow.” Sonny chuckles. “That’s not funny, I know that’s not funny. But it’s a little funny.”

“It was. I said Noah wasn’t my son and she commended me for staying, while reminding me that a parent has to take care of themselves before they can really help their child.”

“It’s good to know there are still decent people out there.”

“Something like that.”

“Counselor Barba?” An old voice cuts in. Both of them turn to look at the lanky man in glasses.

“Sergeant Munch.” Barba greets, but doesn’t move to let go of Sonny’s hand.

“Oh, I know you. The Lieu tells war stories about you.” Sonny sets his bottle down and shakes the older man’s hand. “Good to know you. Detective Carisi. Call me Sonny.”

“Good to know. Still, weird to think of Benson as a Lieutenant. I just know her as Liv.”

“You guys go way back like car seats, huh?”

“You know it. Listen, you guys, I know things are a bit…dicey right now” his voice drops, and he leans in, setting down the empty glass he’s holding “what with all that’s happening. You’re friends with Liv. If you guys need help, need backup, gimme a call.”

“Can do, Detective.” Barba nods.

“Please, just call me Munch. You two, take care of yourselves.” The old detective pats Carisi on the back, and Barba’s glad he doesn’t get the same treatment.

“I hope he’s part of your handful.” Barba adds, and takes another sip.

“Should he be?”

“Not only did he work with Benson for god knows how long, but he’s Detective Tutuola’s old partner.”

“Oh, wow.”

“Yeah. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him around more often.”

“If they think he’s trustworthy.”

“He is. He’s a DA investigator now.”

“Huh.” Sonny says, and sips his drink again, settling the uneasy feeling in his stomach. After his second beer, and Barba’s third scotch, it seems like a good time to go. They’ve been around just long enough to say they ‘went out’. Besides, the bar is filling up, and Barba’s feeling a bit claustrophobic. Sonny pays, and they leave hand in hand, Sonny refusing to let go of Barba’s as he follows along. The patrol car following them is still parked out front.

“Hey, thanks for waitin’ guys.” Sonny says once they’re moving. The woman in the driver’s seat laughs.

“Well we weren’t about to ditch you two.”

“Yeah, Lieutenant Benson would have our heads on platters for that.” Her rookie passenger adds. “Besides, it’s only just quitting time. Not gonna kill us to wait.”

“Well, still, glad you guys stuck around.”

“I might come back after this. A drink sounds like a good idea.”

“Hey, great minds, right?” Sonny jokes. She’s mid laugh when it happens.

A loud bang against a door, and then shattering glass.


Sonny throws himself over Barba, pulling them down onto the floor of the back seat. The car lurches to a stop.

More bullets.


More bullets.

Sonny’s crushing Barba so he can’t breathe. His chest hurts. His ears are pounding.

Even when the bullets stop, his pulse is still screaming. Sonny pulls away, twisting Barba around to look at him. “Are you hit? Did you get hit?”

Barba shakes his head, but he doesn’t feel like he’s moving. His neck is so stiff. The back door is thrown open, hitting the squad car next to them, but both of them cringe away from the sound.

“Detective, Counselor, are either of you hit?”

“No, no hits, no.” Carisi reassures. His voice is drowned out by sirens. The rookie has to yell over the sound.

“Come on, let’s get you two out.”

Sonny goes first, then helps Barba out of the back seat. Which is a good thing, since Rafael’s legs give out once he’s on solid ground. A chorus of ‘woah’s are heard, and Sonny guides Barba to sit on the sliver of asphalt between the two vehicles. A chill creeps over him when he feels at least four shell casings underneath him. His heart pounds. Sonny gets him to put his head between his knees, which only makes the pain in his face worse.

“Carisi! Barba!” Liv yells out over the din. Sonny pops up from the small space between the vehicles and runs over to her. He can’t believe she got here so fast, or what felt like so fast. She throws her arms around him for a moment. “What happened?”

“I-I dunno, I dunno, we were on our way back and they opened fire-“

“Okay, okay. Is Barba okay?”

“He’s fine, he can’t stand though. Oh god, oh god…” Sonny grips his hair, shaking his head. “Fuck, this is bad Lieu, this is so fucking bad.”

“Carisi, calm down, things are going to be okay…” she trails off, her eye following something. Sonny follows her gaze, only to feel woozy when he sees a woman being wheeled into an ambulance.

“Carisi, come on, bring me to Barba.” She repeats, and tugs his arm. He’s shaky on his feet too, and walks over to Barba, who’s being escorted to an ambulance. They stay there, the EMT’s checking them both over.

Rollins and Fin turn up too, standing guard at the ambulance. Barba won’t look straight at anything, won’t talk, and won’t move from Sonny’s side. And Sonny won’t let him go either. Not until Liv makes them so they can give their statements.

It’s slow goings with Barba. With the blanket wrapped around his shoulders and his voice small, Rollins has to drag details out of him.

Sonny falls over his words, gesticulating like usual when he talks. His unstyled hair keeps falling over his face.

“And this guy comes over to me and Barba, making a big deal of saying that the cops have our back despite what Barba did with Munson and all the other cop stuff. Dammit, this guy was slick too. But he said he was from the two-seven, that his name was Lowsa. Is it a coincidence that we come out of a cop bar and a minute later there’s open fire? And none of the cops in the freakin’ packed cop bar came to help?”

“Carisi, calm down. Did you talk to anyone else in there?”

“Just him and the bartender and one of your old guys. Munch.”


“Yeah, ask Barba, he’ll tell you.”

“Wow. Okay, I’m not sure how much help that’ll be-“

“He said to call on him if we need help, if things go south. You don’t…you…”

“No, not a chance he’s mixed up in anything. Excuse me.”

“Lieu, where you-“

“I’ll be right back.” She yells over her shoulder. Sonny waits. Sonny waits for what feels like forever, but is really only five minutes, before she sees his Lieutenant with Munch in tow. He looks skinnier in the light of day. And older.

“Alright, Carisi, Fin and Munch are taking you and Barba home. Don’t go anywhere, don’t talk to anyone. Don’t open the door.”

“Yes Lieutenant.” Sonny gets out of the squad car he’s been sitting in the open back seat of. She gives him a pat on the back, and sends them on their way in a different car. One that someone else came in.

Barba is completely out of it. He actually needs his hand held to get into the car. Fin glances at Barba in his rearview, then at his old partner, who gives him a raised eyebrow, head shaking, ‘this is really fucking horrible, isn’t it?’ look.

They can’t be too careful. Fin goes into the apartment ahead of the three of them, checking things out, then signaling the all clear. Still, Barba’s out of himself. Sonny reassures him, gently telling him that they’re okay. It disturbs the old partners to see the ADA in such a state. It’s a relief when they go inside and the door closes, leaving the two of them in the hall.

“So, partner, can you fill me in on what we’re looking at here?” He asks, leaning back against the wall and facing the younger man. Fin lowers his voice.

“Kid that tried to kill Barba was BX9.”

“BX9? What do they want with Barba?”

“He busted a couple of their top guys last year. These dudes trafficked the babies from their prostitutes for use in kiddy porn. They’re each serving 25 to life, no chance of parole before then.”

“So, what’s the deal with cop involvement then? Liv thinks there’s some sort of crossover”

“We think BX9 has someone on their payroll, or maybe someone they’ve allied themselves with. We’re not totally sure yet.”

John shakes his head, and crosses his arms. “These people. Going after someone for doing their job.”

“As far as they care, his job gets in the way of their job.”

“I remember how it goes.” John sighs. They’re interrupted by a knock. It takes them a second before they realize it’s coming from inside Liv’s apartment. A moment later, the door unlocks and Sonny pokes his head out.

“Hey guys. Uh, I know this is kinda low on the priority list right now. But we’re outta milk, and Noah and Barba want cereal, so…”

The old partners share a look and a laugh.

“What kind?” Munch asks, straightening up.

“Whole. Here.” He pulls out his walled and hands over a $5. “Get the big thing. The Lieu’s getting a half gallon at a time and she wonders why we’re outta milk every other day.”

He won’t argue. If Barba wants to feel somewhat normal after being shot at, the least John can do is get him some damn milk.

Chapter Text

When Barba falls asleep, it’s usually on his side. But when he wakes up, he’s almost always on his back. Over the past two years, Rafael’s learned how to sleep in bed with another person without waking up twisted into him. Too many of their first nights turned into mornings with limbs asleep and half the pillows on the floor.

He wakes up now, not with his arm stuck under Sonny’s neck, but with the younger man’s arms wrapped around him loosely. And, a few inches away from his face, his Sonny’s stun gun. It takes him a long minute before he has it in himself to roll over and look at Sonny, who’s wide awake. He’s bare chested, and Rafael takes advantage of that, placing a hand over where his heart is.

“You didn’t sleep.”  Barba states.

“You did.” Sonny retorts. He’s pale as snow, but still warm to the touch.

“You need to sleep at night again.”

“When I go back to work.” Sonny pecks his forehead. “How you feelin’?”

“Numb. I’m back and forth between numb and shock. You know that.”

“I do. You had a nightmare last night.”

He blinks up at Sonny. “I did?”

“Uh huh. Woke up sayin’ you were scared, that you didn’t mean for it to happen, that you still loved me. You were some kind of freaked.”

Barba’s face creases in worry, and Sonny touches his forehead to make it stop. That looks painful with the way his face is still so dark. “I have no memory of that.”

“It’s better that way. That was…” he glances at the clock “about two hours ago. What’re you doin’ up?”

“I fell asleep early. Guess I’m up early, then.”

They don’t move to get up for a while. Barba clings onto him. If he wanted to, he could conk right out, but his stomach growls in protest. Rafael forces himself up, and Sonny’s arms release him easily. “Do you want anything?”

“Nah, thanks, I had a grilled cheese around three. Probably gonna sleep soon.”

“Okay. Have fun with that.” Rafael leans over and gives him a peck on the lips before leaving the room. What he finds in the living room is the lieutenant asleep, with her arms crossed and a blanket spread unevenly over her. But he doesn’t linger, instead going into the kitchen to make himself a cup of coffee. He’d rather be awake than asleep, when he could have another nightmare.

The sound of the Keurig is enough to wake up Liv, who takes a few minutes to get herself right before coming into the kitchen. Rafael notices a few things about her while he makes up his coffee, like the way her hair is pulled into a messy bun and how her holster stands out against her pink flannel pajamas.

“Do you always sleep in your holster?” he asks while she waits for her own drink. She just shrugs.

“Munch and Fin left around midnight. Fin got two beat cops he said are solid. But…” Again, she shrugs. “I didn’t have it in me to fight.”

Rafael looks down at his cup. “This…this is horrible. Two hits on my life, in one week. And I can’t do anything about it.”

“We’re on it, Barba. Trust me, this won’t last much longer. We won’t stop until you’re safe again.”

He gets why people testify when she asks them to. Her voice is so soothing and reassuring, even when you know there’s a lie in there somewhere.

“There’s a shift change soon. I’ll check them out before I leave.”

“Thanks.” He yawns and sips his coffee again.

“How are you holding up?” She asks, again with that gentle voice. He only half shrugs.

“I’m just trying to survive. I’ll worry about everything else later.”

“Fair enough. If you want to talk-“

“I know, Liv.” She’s glad for the use of her nickname, even though it sounds odd in his mouth. She’s also glad that there’s no deadly weapons left in the house after she leaves with her gun.

“Just lay low today. Stay inside, keep quiet, you know the drill.”

“Will do.” He agrees, and represses an eye roll. No way was he leaving the house unless he had to.

                Barba drinks his coffee while Liv goes into her room, gets ready for work. By the lack of conversation, he knows Sonny must be asleep.

Olivia leaves just before Lucy shows up. Barba is cordial to her, but doesn’t bother with conversation. He’s relieved when she’s gone, but it’s more to do with Noah being gone. With that, he double checks the lock on the door, then locks himself in the bedroom with Sonny. Sonny’s out, head buried in the pillows even though Liv’s curtains block out a lot of light. Rafael sits with him, watching him sleep. He turns on the TV, and the subtitles so it can stay on mute.

Despite the caffeine, the reading of subtitles is enough to lull him to sleep. Only to be woken by a commotion. The bed shakes under Barba, and he can hear banging on the front door. His heart leaps into his throat.

This is the end, he thinks.

Sonny springs out of bed, stun gun in hand. But he drops it to his side when he hears someone yell.

“Dominick Carisi Junior, police! Open up!”

Sonny leaves the bedroom door open, and pulls on a sweatshirt before answering the door. Four officers, at least, storm in. One grabs Sonny by the sweatshirt.

“Dominick Carisi Jr., you’re under arrest for the killing of Juan Somos.”

“What?! What the hell is going on-“

“Sonny?” Barba yells, and two officers hold him back.

“Mr. Barba, don’t make this harder-“

“You have the right-“

“Sonny, don’t say anything!” Rafael yells over the commotion.

“What’m I gonna say?”

“to remain silent.” The arresting officer punctuates his words with the click of handcuffs. Barba has no choice but watch him be dragged away. He’s frozen in place. Someone…they arrested Sonny? Someone arrested Sonny for killing their intruder? For killing the person that almost killed Barba?

Sonny…Sonny was arrested for protecting Barba.

He’s sure of it. The thought hits Barba in the gut, but he doesn’t let himself wait. When he can move again, he scrambles to find his phone.


“T-They took Sonny, they took Sonny, what the fuck happened?! What’s going on over there?! You’re arresting your own now?”

“Barba, this isn’t us. Manhattan Homicide wrenched the case away from us this morning.”

“Homicide?! What the-“

“I know, I know. We’re left flailing. I tried to call you, warn you-“

“Warn me? Warn me police were going to be banging on the door? Is that it?”

“Barba, calm down. Wait at the apartment, we’ll get you to arraignment, post bail, we’ll be there soon.”

“What the hell are you going to do? Huh?”

“We have to protect you. There’s still someone out there who wants you dead, remember?”

Now he does. Now he slams the door shut and locks it.

“Get here now.”

“We’re on our way.”


An hour and a half later, Barba, Liv, Rollins, and Fin are all sat in arraignment court. Sonny’s waiting in line, handcuffed, unable to look at his friends. Barba can’t stop looking at the door. Just as Sonny’s charges are read, the doors bust open.

“Dominick Carisi Jr., on the charges of manslaughter in the first degree, how do you plead?”

“My client pleads not guilty, your honor.” Rita Calhoun’s voice takes up all the space in the courtroom. Sonny’s head snaps over to her, his eyes wide, before he looks back at his squad. Rollins has a sneer fixed on her face, but the rest of them aren’t looking his way.

“Your honor, Mr. Carisi is a police officer who was found with a stun gun in his possession, and resisted arrest.” The ADA, Jason DeLong, is someone Barba knows and has to resist spitting at now

“Mr. Carisi is a decorated police officer, well respected detective within Manhattan’s Special Victims’ Unit, and has significant ties to the community. Currently himself and his partner are under police protection, as there has been another attempt on both their lives since the night in question. His reputation is one that should exonerate him from any wrongdoings, and prove that his only crime was in protecting his home.”

“Save the rhetoric for trial Ms. Calhoun, if there is one.” The judge says pointedly to the ADA’s direction. Sonny still can’t help staring at her, and he can feel his face turning red. “People on bail.”

“Remand, your honor. The defendant has access to significant means, allowing him to flee, and is being sheltered by Manhatten SVU, who’s excessive handling of the case was only just rectified.“

“Your honor, my defendant is not a flight risk, He has family, he has close friends, he is a pillar to the community. We request ROR.”

“Two ends of the extreme. I’ll split the difference. Bail is set at $5,000.”

“Your honor-“ The ADA is cut off by a gavel.

“Next case.”


It takes nothing to get Sonny’s bail posted. When he gets out, everyone is waiting there for him, but he throws his arms around Barba. “What the hell is happening? What the hell is going on?”

“Carisi, we’re sorry-“ Fin tries, but Sonny shakes his head.

“Nah, nah don’t. This is so much worse now. Goddammit, they’re going to take me to trial. They’re going to throw me in prison. Holy fuck, they’re going to send me to prison-“

“Caris, even if they do send you there, you know cops are kept out of gen pop.”

“Rollins, would you shut it?” He’s cherry colored from neck to hairline. “It doesn’t matter if I’m not in gen pop, I’m too fucking pretty for jail!“

“Okay, okay let’s calm down.” Liv steps in, hands up. “It’s been a long, harrowing day. Let’s just-‘ She’s cut off by her own ringing phone. She picks it up. “Benson…yes, no I know Lucy, I’m with them now…yes, everything’s okay…yes, thank you, thank you, we’ll see you soon.”

Sonny shakes his head. “Fucking okay. I got Rita Calhoun defending me, how’s that okay, huh Lieu?”

“She’s guaranteed to keep you out of prison.” Barba finally talks.

“This is so bad, this is so fucking bad.”

“It’s not so bad-“

“Really? I got Rita fucking Calhoun helping me out here! The only thing that could’ve been worse is if you called Buchanan.”

“I would never give him the satisfaction. And besides, as much as victim blaming would be helpful here, we needed someone that wasn’t seen as a total joke.”

“Okay, you two calm down.” Liv tries again. “We need to get out of here, we’re taking you home-“


He freezes when he hears his mother’s voice, his back stiffening.

“Mom?” Sonny turns. Along with his mom- hair a mess, tears streaming down his face- is his dad a few steps behind. She runs over to Sonny, and his colleagues step back, letting her throw her arms around him. “Oh god, ma, what’re you doing here?”

“I saw you! On the news! They arrested you, they arrested my baby boy.” She sobs against him.

“Hey, ma, c’mon, stop crying.”

“What did you do?” His dad asks over her head. “Sonny, what’d you do, huh?”

“Dad, I didn’t do anything. All I did was defend my home-“

“Mr. and Mrs. Carisi, I’m Lieutenant Benson. Today’s been a very trying day, and we have reason to believe your son shouldn’t be standing so out in the open. Come back to the apartment, you can speak there.”

“Uh, Lieu, you sure that’s a good idea?” Sonny asks.

“It’s better than leaving you here like this. Come on, me and Rollins will drive you back.”

“Oh, alright.” Dominick Sr. huffs, and Sonny rolls his eyes. He’s sure the media has sensationalized this, and that they got the most skewed version of this possible. He’s glad when they get put in a separate car from his parents. Sonny just hugs Barba, wanting nothing more than to fall asleep right there.

“God, I’m so fucking sorry, today’s been awful for you hasn’t it?”

“I managed.” Rafael shrugs. “I was just worried about you.”

“What the hell happened, Rafe? Why’d they pick me up, huh? How come I’m getting treated like a criminal?”

“Olivia said homicide took over.”

“Did she say who’s after us?”

Rafe swallows and shakes his head.

“I can’t believe this…I’m sorry I left you alone.”

“I wasn’t alone long. They picked me up and brought me…I’m sorry about Rita. But I had to. I couldn’t take any chances.”

“She better know that doesn’t buy her any good favors. What about my rep? Shouldn’t a cop lawyer taken this first?”

“Uh…if they did, they didn’t tell me.”

“Oh, fucking perfect, hanging me out to dry, huh? That’s just lovely.”

“We’re going to get this straightened out. You’re not going to go to prison, okay? Rita and everyone else is working to make sure of that.”

Sonny sighs, knowing that’s exactly true. He’s just not sure it’ll be enough.

Chapter Text

The Carisi parents get brought upstairs a few minutes after the couple, after Sonny gets a chance to put on a shirt and prepare himself for what will come next. Barba sits on the sofa, close to Liv, but Sonny can’t sit.

Valerie is still wiping tears from her face when Sonny sees her. Dominick doesn’t sit either. He stays standing, holding his arms crossed.

“Alright Son, you’ve got one shot to explain this to us, right here, right now. What the hell did you do? How the hell did this happen?”

“Dad, quit it with this high and mighty crap. Forget about what you heard on the local news and take it down a notch with the attitude and let me, your son, explain everything.”

“You should know better than to talk to me like that.”

“Yeah, and you should know better than to trust the local news when you should be listening to me. Now are you gonna let me explain or what?”

“I don’t think I need an explaining. Someone caught you in bed with another man” he throws a glare at Barba, “so you killed ‘em.”

Sonny just stares at his father for a few seconds. The older man stares back at Sonny, a waiting expression on his face. And then, he laughs, a very bad sign.

Liv picks up her son and goes to hide in his room, and Barba follows.

“Look at that, fucking coward, going to hide from me-“

“Wait. Wait, hang on here. So, someone breaks into my home, slams me into a wall so hard that I couldn’t see straight for a few hours, sexually assaults the person I’m in love with, and that’s what you hear? Really dad? Fucking really?”

“Oh yeah? And how long has it been ‘your home’?”

“The same amount of time it’s been Rafael’s home. About a year.”

 “Oh, c’mon, don’t be dramatic Sonny. You’re just doing it for attention. You haven’t been living with a man for a year.”

“Fuck off, if I was doing any of this for attention I would have bragged to you about having a boyfriend, wouldn’t I?”

“Don’t you tell your father to fuck off!”

“Don’t walk into my life and tell me I’m wrong for loving who I love! Honestly, ma.”

“Don’t disrespect your mother like that.”

“No, no don’t you dare, either of you. What the hell is your big problem anyway?”

“The big problem is that I had to find out about this on the news!” Valerie sobs. “Do you know how much of a shock that was for me? Huh?”

“Y’know, I was pretty sure the shocking part might be that I WAS ARRESTED for DEFENDING MYSELF. I would think that would be the bigger shock. Hell, I thought that was the part you two had yourselves in knots over.”

“And then there’s that.” His father starts in. “That you didn’t even talk to us.”

“No, stop it. Don’t bother with that because I already know just what all this is about, and it’s got nothing to do with me not talking to you guys.”

“That’s just it, Sonny! You don’t talk to us! You lied to us! How can we trust anything you say now?” Dominick goes on. It doesn’t matter that Noah, Liv, and Rafael hide in the toddlers room, they can hear it all. At pretty much full volume. The sound overwhelms Noah so much that he hides against Liv, covering his ears.

“To hell with that! You know exactly why I didn’t tell you. Because I knew that this was the reaction I would get.”

“How? How could you possibly know?” Valerie pleads.

“Ma, you remember when I got shot?”

“Sonny, don’t-“

“No, answer the question. Do you remember when I got shot?”

“Of course, it was horrible-“

“And you remember how Barba was there when you showed up?”

“Oh my god.” Dominick yells. “You made us look like fools-“

“No, shut the fuck up, this ain’t about you right now. You remember what you said to me?”

“I can’t remember everything I ever said-“ Valerie tries

“No. Answer this straight.” He emphasizes every few syllables when he talks. “Do you re-mem-ber what you said a-bout your neigh-bor?”

“No, what did I possibly say that gave you permission to lie to me?” 

“Fine, I’ll remind you then. You made a point of telling me and my sisters about your neighbors son, who got caught in bed with another guy. You remember now how you just went on and on about how glad you were to not have a kid like that? You fucking remember yet?”

“Yeah! I do! And now I really fucking envy Mrs. Rispolli right about now.” Dominick snaps back.

“Oh yeah? So your hero son is on the same level as your average 16 year old just trying to figure himself out? As if there’s anything wrong with that to begin with?”

“When they lie the same way, yeah!”

“Oh my god.” Sonny pulls at his own hair. “What the hell do you want me to do? Huh?”


When it finally ends, it ends with a slammed door. Noah’s cried himself to sleep, and Liv is still rocking him. Barba counts to a hundred before going out to the living room, where he finds Sonny still pacing the floor, his limp worse than usual.

“Sonny?” And he jumps at the sound of his name.

“Oh my god, oh my god. I’ve never yelled so much in my fucking life, oh my-“

“Hey, stop it, okay?” Barba cuts off, making Sonny stop short. Sonny looks at him, daring him to talk again, before his expression crumbles.

“I-I’ve never…ever, argued with em like that. Never ever. Oh god, it was so bad…”

“I know. I heard.”

“You…yeah, I guess you did.” Sonny swallows and rubs his eyes. “Jesus.”

Barba stops a moment. “I’m not the only one.”

Sonny’s eyebrows knit together for a moment, until he follows Barba’s gaze to where Liv is sanding, in the doorway of Noah’s room, with the little boy half awake and hidden behind his mother.

“Oh…oh man, Noah.” Sonny comes over to them, making the toddler hide further behind Liv’s legs. Sonny kneels down. “Hey, come on, it’s just me.”

The boy comes a little further out, his eyes still shining, face a red mess.

“Aw, Noah, Noah I’m so sorry I yelled like that, and that you heard it.”

“Y-You…you, were y-yelling.” The quiet boy sniffles, eyes welling.

“I know, I know little man, and I’m sorry.” He finds Noah’s hand and squeezes it, trying to hold his attention. Noah’s eyes are full of fear when they look at Sonny. And Sonny swallows hard.  “Listen, I’m…I’m sorry I scared you. Sometimes adults do stupid things like yell, even when they know better, because they’re so angry. But I’m still really really sorry I scared you.”

Noah looks at Sonny appraisingly, and Sonny waits, hoping he’ll say something reassuring. After a minute, Noah closes the distance between them and puts his arms around Sonny’s neck. Sonny’s gentle, carefully wrapping his arms around him.

“It’s okay.” He reassures. “We’re okay. You’re okay.”

“U-Uh huh” Noah sniffles, hiding his face in Sonny’s shoulder, making Sonny feel nine different kinds of awful. Liv watches all of this at her feet, and after a minute she ploys Noah away from him with the promise of Lucy taking him to Chuck E. Cheese. It works.

Sonny sighs and looks at Liv.

“I’m so sorry Lieu, I didn’t mean…you know…”

“I know.” She reassures and pats his arm. “Get some rest, okay?”

“Yeah…yeah, I’ll do that.” He clears his throat and looks away from her, obviously chagrinned.

Lucy comes by probably twenty minutes later, and Noah seems like his normal self again. He even says goodbye to Sonny without being asked to, which intensifies how awful he feels.

Barba doesn’t ask. He knows better. He just sits with Sonny on the couch, under his arm, trying to be a supportive presence. For the most part, even with the TV going, they’re all quiet. When a knock breaks that silence, all of them flinch.

“Who is it?” Carisi calls, realizing at the same time that he should have kept his mouth shut. His voice is so distinctive.

“It’s your sister.” Munch answers.

“Which one?”

“It’s Bella!” She calls out in a huff. The door wrenches open, and Sonny glares daggers at both her and Tommy.

“Get the hell in here.” He spits, and slams the door shut behind them, locking it. “Where the hell did you two come from?”

“We just came from Ma’s-“

“From Ma’s?”

“Well, yeah.” Tommy says, getting identical glares from the siblings. He clears his throat. “We dropped the baby of with her. She was in such a fit, I almost didn’t want to leave her there.”

“She was in tears, Sonny.”

“Oh, that’s great, that’s fuckin’ fantastic. Here we go, with the theatrics and the water works and cryin’ about how she’s so embarrassed.”

“Well she is embarrassed, Sonny.”

Sonny pauses, then turns to look at her head on. “Oh you gotta be kiddin’ me. You’re agreeing with her?”

“Well, I’m just saying, she had to find out that you’re shacked up with a guy on TV, how’s that supposed to make her feel?”

He takes a long breath and pushes his hand through his hair, then jerks his head towards the bedroom. “Get in there.”

She rolls her eyes but follows, and then the door is slammed shut. And then the yelling starts.

“Your neighbors must hate you after today.” Barba murmurs to Liv. She shrugs.

“Never knew ‘em well anyway.”

“Do you get it, Bella?” They hear Sonny scream. “Do you get that there’s someone trying to kill us? Or that I’ve got an ADA looking to bury me with a man two charge? Do any of you get that-“ his voice drops low. So they can’t hear.

“You want something to drink Tommy?” Liv offers. He clears his throat.

“Uh, some water, that’d work.” He says. Liv leaves the room, and Barba glances up from the book he’s reading. Tommy’s making an effort not to look at his face. “Hey, so, uh…sorry, about what happened to you…you know…I kinda get it.”

“I understand.” Barba says, gaze averted.

“…I don’t care if mom and dad are embarrassed! It’s not their lives that are in danger unless they keep coming around to see me like this!”

“Boy…they’re really going at it.” Tommy comments.

“You lied to us! You’ve been a liar for two years, Sonny!”

“Because I knew this would happen! I just thought, y’know, when the worst thing that ever happened to me was the thing to make ‘em find out, I’d get a little more sympathy. Didya ever think of that, Bells?”

“Sure are.” Barba agrees. “Never heard him like this before today.”

“Me either.” Tommy agrees, and takes the glass Liv gives him gratefully.

“What’re they supposed to tell the neighbors?”

“That their son’s a hero who took a bullet for a kid! That their son killed an intruder! That their son is hooked up with someone who isn’t a loser!”

“Don’t take it personally.” Barba cuts in, looking up from his book. “His parents were going on about him finding a decent girl ‘instead’. He didn’t take that well.”


“Yes. And it’s pretty hard to explain to someone the complexity of human sexuality while they’re engaged in a screaming match. So that part ended there.” Liv adds.

“The complexity of…what now?”

Barba and Liv share a glance, and Barba closes his book.

“When Dominick called Sonny out on, and this is a direct quote ‘lying about being a major ‘mo’ Sonny tried to tell them that he was bisexual. At which point Valerie dropped that ‘decent girl’ comment. Like it’s a switch that can be turned on or off.”

“It’s a common mistake for people who don’t know any better. But it’s not an excuse.” Liv explains. “That launched a whole new round of angry accusations.”

“…and I could really use a supportive family for this goddamn show trial instead of one that’s embarrassed of me, y’know? Why’s that so damn hard?”

“Because it’s mom and dad. Y’know how they are.”

There’s not nearly as many rounds of screaming as before. When they come out of the room, both of them look substantially calmed. The last twenty minutes of the conversation they hadn’t heard.

“Everything okay?” Liv asks, looking up at them.

“Yeah, yeah we’re good.” Sonny reassures. His sister reaches over and squeezes his arm. “Man, I’m starving. We got anything, Lieu?”

“I think I’m out of everything. We could order in, though. There’s a good Chinese place up the block, they deliver.”

“Alright, sounds good. Hey, you wanna stay for dinner?” Sonny asks, looking between his sister and her husband.

“Uh, yeah, sure. Sounds good.” Bella agrees. Liv finds the menu for this place, and they go about marking it up, making sure to ask Fin and Munch what they want, too. Carisi offers up his credit card when Liv reaches for her wallet.

“Carisi, you don’t have to do that.”

“Hey, I’m livin’ in your house, eatin’ your food, endangering your lives, least I could do is spring for the takeout.” He says it all matter of factly, but she knows how much this matters to him, so she lets it go. When it’s time to call, Sonny’s the one holding the menu. He stalls though, and instead looks at Tommy.

“Hey, Tommy, can you do this?”

“What, order?”

“Yeah. Just…you know, in case.”

“In case of…”

“Look, we’ve all got pretty distinct voices. Even Bella sounds related to me. You, you sound like an average Joe. No suspicions. You mind?”

“Sure.” He says after a moment, and takes out his phone. “I probably owe you, like, a hundred favors anyway, I can handle this.”

Lucy brings home Noah just as the food shows up, and Fin follows Lucy on her heels into the apartment.

“Hey, look at you.” Liv says when she sees him. “So you and Munch are here for the night?”

“Sure am. We freaked out your delivery guy. He took one look at us and handed over the food, no questions asked. Didn’t even get a chance to tip the sorry guy.”

“Hey, means you’re gettin’ the job done.” Sonny comments, making the other man laugh.

“We’ll keep it up. You guys just chill out in here now. Sounded like someone was gonna have a heart attack.”

“Don’t worry Fin, we’re all good.” Sonny reassures. With that, Fin takes his and John’s food and heads back into the hallway. Liv’s table is big enough to hold them all, and it’s filled with takeout boxes galore.

“So, Lieu, can you fill us in on anything?” Sonny asks. Liv sighs, and nods, finally relenting. Since it’s now officially an unofficial investigation.

“Can I talk in front of you two?” She asks, looking at Tommy and Bella. Bella nods.

“We won’t say anything. We just want Sonny safe.”

Sonny gives her a sidelong glare, but she doesn’t see it, or doesn’t respond.

“Okay. So, the man who broke into your home was a low rank soldier for BX9. From the chatter we picked up on, they were under the impression only Barba would be there. If they’d known, they would’ve sent two, maybe three guys to do the job.”

Barba stops chewing for a moment. Sonny gives him a long, loving look, asking silently if he’s okay. He just takes a sip from his water.

“The shooting was definitely BX9 too, some more chatter was picked up there about how they hit a civilian instead of the ‘real target’.”

“Okay. This makes sense.” Barba says when he has his voice back. “After what happened two months ago, they’re angry.”

“What happened? Can I ask that?” Tommy pipes up. Barba wipes his mouth.

“We busted members of BX9 trafficking the children of prostitutes to be sold to known child pornographers. We intercepted, busted the operation, put six of their guys away for the next twenty five years.”

“Ok, wait, so BX9 is mad. But you’ve been threatened for way longer than that. Since the Reynolds case.” Sonny puts in.

“More than one person can have a vendetta against me.”

“I dunno, it would just make more sense. It seems like it’s all connected. What about at the cop bar?”

“The shooting just off from the cop bar could have been a threat to all cops for associating with me.”

Or it could have been that someone tipped that you were leaving and they went after you then. If they’d been tailing you, they wouldn’t have waited.”

“So…so you’re thinking cops are aligned with a dangerous street gang?” Barba asks, looking directly at Sonny. Sonny raises his eyebrows and nods.

“Or they could have cops on the take. Cops that you’d bust, so it’d be better they protect their source of income instead of, y’know, the law.”

Barba sighs. “This is all so disturbing. And what’s worse is I can’t say it’s unlikely.”

“Really?” Bella asks, sounding genuinely worried.

“Of course. I make enemies with all groups, legal or illegal, if they give cause. If it’s true that corrupt cops have banded together with BX9 to take me out, I wouldn’t surprise.”

“That’s horrible.”

He nods and sighs, then shrugs. “No good deed, right?”

“Right.” She agrees. “Is this the first time this has happened?”

“What, the threats?” He asks after swallowing another bite.

“Yeah. Does that happen often to you guys?”

“Oh, all the time.” Liv replies

“No, really?”

“Well, sure. Big cases garner some kind of backlash. Taking down prostitution rings, child pornography distributors, the church, people make threats. And often times they’re not afraid to follow through on them.”

“Oh my god. That’s horrible.”

“What’s worse” Liv continues “is it doesn’t stop there. Because what most of these groups know is that going after the person themselves is a good tactic, but you’re better off going after their loved ones. That’s how they get to you.”

“That’s what’s happening here.” Sonny agrees. Bella cocks her head at him, and he shrugs. “What? Of course they’re gonna go after me now that they know I exist. For the longest time, nobody knew Barba cared about anything. Now they realized ‘hey, we got a way bigger chink in the armor, let’s use it’, of course they’re gunnin’ for me. Like when we took down the whole Johnny Drake/Little Tino such-and-such case. They wanted to go after the Lieu, but they don’t shoot her or anyone on the team. Who do they go for?”

Bella looks blank. Sonny raises his eyebrows and leans his head slightly over towards where Noah’s sat in the living room. Her face pales. “O-Oh my god. Really?”

Liv nods. Bella shakes her head and sighs. “I don’t know what I’d do.”

“Well, you never do until you have to.” Liv adds.

“If it’s all so dangerous, why do it?”

“Because it’s what we’re trained to do.” Barba answers. “And, while I can’t speak for anyone else, it’s what I went to school to do. To do the right thing, because someone has to.”

“You went to law school to work on stuff like this?”

“I didn’t know that while I was there. Afterwards I figured it out.”

Sonny chuckles. Barba looks over. “What?”

“Nothing. Just usually don’t hear Harvard referred to as ‘there’.”

“Harvard?” Tommy and Bella ask in unison.

“Oh yeah.” Sonny goes on. “Full scholarship too. They wanted him so bad that they paid themselves the ridiculous price it is to go there.”

“Really?” Barba asks, cracking a smile. “You like embarrassing me?”

“If I can brag to someone who doesn’t know you about you, of course I’m going to brag.” Sonny punctuates his sentence with a kiss to Rafael’s cheek, and another to his temple. It makes the older man smile in a way none of them have seen that day. When Sonny looks up again, Bella’s staring at him. “What?”

“You’re so sensitive now.”

“What?” He makes an incredulous noise. “Nah, not really.”

“Hey, more than you used to be.”

“I don’t know about that. Really, I don’t think I’ve changed that much.”

“Please, Sonny. You must be the most sensitive person in that office.”

“No he’s not!” Munch calls clearly.

“Are you eaves dropping?” Liv calls back.

“Walls are thin, Liv. Think about it next time you move.” Fin adds. A moment later and all of them are a midst of laughs and shaking heads.

The longer Bella is there with her brother, watching him laugh and joke- watching him be himself- a painful conflict grows in her chest. She’d spent most of that day dealing with her outraged parents and her chiding sisters, but now sat at this dinner table she realizes how far they’ve all missed the mark on whatever life Sonny’s been leading. And she realizes, once again, how nuts the two sisters between her and Sonny are. When it’s time to go, probably an hour after when they should have left, she doesn’t really want to leave. She gives Sonny a quick hug, and Liv is by the door when she goes to leave.

“Thanks for having us, Lieutenant.”

“Please” she waves off the formality “call me Liv.”

“And…y’know, thanks for looking after my big brother.”

“He’s a good guy. He’s part of my squad. I wouldn’t leave him out to dry.”

“That’s really good to hear. He…he, um, seems real happy. With Barba and all. It’s good to know he’s got a good group here for him.”

“He does. But what he could really use is his family. Being there for him. Supporting him, while he sits through a trial for a crime that he shouldn’t be there for.”

She looks in the Lieutenant’s face, and she can see just how serious the older woman is. “Okay.” Bella concedes, and glances over at her brother and Tommy still in a hand shake, saying something about the Mets probably. “Okay, I’ll talk to them”

“Good. He’ll really appreciate that.” Liv says, and pats her on the shoulder, then opens the door. Fin stands to attention, waiting to take them and put them in a cab. Before leaving, Bella goes back to her brother, throwing her arms around his shoulders.

“Hey, you okay?” He asks, hugging her back anyway. She nods against his shoulder.

“I’m just glad, y’know, that you’re still here.”

“Yeah. Yeah, me too.” He says, still hugging her. “Be safe out there.”

After hearing everything they’ve said that evening, she takes those words to heart.

Chapter Text

There’s nothing they can do to keep the case from going to trial. DeLong makes the grand jury believe that Carisi is to blame for everything that happened, and everything Rita tries to counteract that is shot down. When she shows up at Liv’s apartment the night before trial, it’s obvious she’s running on fumes. Still, she goes through what will happen, talking about how they might frame Sonny. Ideas are thrown out, but nothing seems plausible enough to build a whole case on. Even the case made before the grand jury didn’t give them much clue about how they’d prosecute.

“So…what you’re sayin’ is, this freakin’ guy doesn’t have a clue how he’s going to prosecute me?” Sonny stops and asks.

“I’m saying” Rita tries again “that there have been multiple ideas put out on how to prosecute you, but none carry water. DeLong has very little idea about what he’s doing with solid cases, but this one is a wreck. I swear, I don’t know how he got this past a grand jury.”

“Oh well that’s just great. How am I supposed to put up a defense if I don’t know what I gotta defend myself against?” Sonny asks, and stops pacing in front of where Rita is on the couch. She looks up at him, and can see just how aggravated he is.

“You leave that to me. It’s why Rafael called me, after all.”

He sighs a laugh and shakes his head, going back to his pacing. She watches the way he’s covers the room, the way he puts more weight on his right leg than his left.

“When you walk into the courtroom tomorrow, emphasize your limp.”

He stops moving to glare at her again. “You want me to emphasize my limp? The thing I’ve been working so hard not to emphasize? The thing I’ve been working to outgrow for the past six months?”

“For tomorrow, and the next few days, it’ll help with the-“

“I know, I know, courtroom optics. Make me look more worthy of sympathy.” He sighs, again, and tugs at his hair. “How the hell did it get to this?”

“Your guess is as good as mine.” She says and looks at something in her heap of papers. “The most incriminating thing here is that SVU took the case. Conflict of interest. But even so, the argument is weak.”

“So what do I do tomorrow, then?”

She purses her lips, and pushes a piece of hair that won’t fit into her bun out of her eyes. “Honestly? You’re not good for this. We play up the angle of the cop simply protecting his home and lover, the jury will be sympathetic to that.”

“It’s not an angle, counselor. It’s the truth. So much as you’re not used to that from your clients, it’s the case this time.”

She huffs. “What I meant was we’ll work the trusted officer angle. Such as things are with the climate being poised to not trust police, Manhattan SVU has a rather noted record. We build up your character as a valued detective.”

“My ‘character’? What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I mean your moral fiber, not as if this is some sort of act.”

“Good. Just so we’re on the same page.” Sonny says after a moment, and resumes his walking. He can’t sit still.

“You know, most of my clients aren’t so defensive, Detective Carisi.”

“Oh please, most of your clients are guilty scumbags glad they’ve got someone fighting tooth and nail to keep their sorry asses out of jail, even though you know they’re guilty.”

She lurches, and takes a long, deep breath, pushing back the offending strand once again. “What do you expect me to do Mr. Carisi?”

“I dunno. Something useful. Become a public defender, help out people who get screwed by the system. Or go back to the DA’s office, help put these fucks away. You’re like Rafe, you’re a pitbull and you don’t take anyone’s crap. And you’d get the satisfaction of actually bettering society. But, you know, not as much money in that, is there?”

When he looks at her again, she looks like she’s been slapped. He sighs, and shakes his head. “Look, I’m sorry or whatever. I’m lashing out because I’m sick of all this crap. Don’t look so shocked, counselor.”

“Nobody speaks that way to me. Least of all clients.”

“You’re not going to toss me to the wolves now, are you?”

She shakes her head, her eyes fixed on his uneven gait. “No. I’m not. I’m just a bit miffed is all.”

“Yeah, well, same here. You need a refill on that water?”

“No, I’m okay.” She replies, remembering the glass next to her and taking a long swig. Her lipstick is so far gone there’s no hint of transfer left on the rim.

“So…tomorrow.” Sonny summarizes as he walks, watching the ground beneath his feet. “Don’t make any faces, don’t make comments, sit up straight, limp on my way in, and remember that everything looks awful until the full picture comes together. Did I get everything?”

“Just about.” Rita agrees.

“And let you do the talking, right?” He asks. She realizes a moment late that it’s supposed to be a joke, and lets out an awkward chuckle.

“Pretty much.”

He nods and waits for her to say something else, still moving. A door opens, and they both look up to see Liv, a robe over her pajamas.

“Oh, sorry Lieutenant.” Sonny’s voice lowers from it’s usual talking volume. “Did I wake Noah?”

“No, not at all.” She closes the door so gently it doesn’t make a noise. “He’s been asleep for two hours. It’s me that can’t sleep.”

“Well, I’d suggest we do your trial prep now, but anything I say will be compromised by a lack of caffeine.” Rita babbles. Liv blinks rapidly, trying to catch up.

“Okay. We can worry about that tomorrow, maybe the day after. You know where I’ll be. Do you need some caffeine?”

“No, no, thank you though. I’ve had a dozen cups already today. If I have another, I’ll be awake the entire night.”

“You need the caffeine for that?” Sonny asks. “I’m gonna be awake anyway.”

“Good thing you’re not testifying tomorrow.” Rita says. “Still, get some sleep. Or maybe don’t, you’ll look wracked with guilt.”

“I am wracked with guilt. I’ve barely stopped thinking about the guy I killed since it happened. Even if it was the right thing to do.”

“There’s no ‘if’ there, Sonny.” Liv adds, resting a hand on his arm. “Juan Somos was a gangbanger, a known member of BX9. If you hadn’t taken him out, he would have been a part of the same activities we’ve seen them do time and time again.”

“Doesn’t make me feel any better, Lieu. Besides…it was so close…it was dark, my vision was blurry…”

“Let me be the one to mention that during questioning.” Rita puts in. Sonny nods and sighs, and cracks his bony fingers.

It’s silent for a moment, until Rafael comes out of the bedroom, dressed in his pajamas, hair damp. “Rita. I’d thought you would have left by now.”

“You know how the job is.”

Sonny goes over to Barba, putting an arm around his waist. “You doing okay?”

“I’m fine. Ready for bed.”

“You can sleep?” Sonny asks. Barba shrugs, but puts a hand over Sonny’s on his hip.

“I hope so. I feel tired enough.”

“If not we’ll just Benadryl ourselves to sleep.” Sonny adds, and kisses his boyfriend’s temple, avoiding any bruised skin. Barba glances up and catches Rita looking at them. It’s only a moment, but he sees in her something he’s only seen on her face a handful of times before.


It’s not an expression she wears well. And it explains why she looks just so exhausted. For all the anger there is between the old friends, Rita is taking this very seriously and very personally.  She knows what an innocent man looks like, and she’s scared of fucking up and letting Sonny get sent to jail.

“You should all get some sleep.” She says after breaking their gaze, moving to collect her papers. “We’re going to need it for tomorrow.”

“That’s a good idea.” Sonny agrees. Their goodnights are dripping with exhaustion. The couple waits until they see Rollins take Rita down to get a cab before going into the room and shutting the door. Liv is glad for the privacy, so she doesn’t scare her friends by double checking the locks on the windows in the main living space, then dead-bolting the door. She’s not worried about her bedroom, those windows are never open. And, when all that’s done, she turns out the lights and grabs the blanket from the blow up bed in Noah’s room, and brings it out to the sofa.

When she takes off her robe, she double checks herself. She makes sure she knows just where her holster is, resting against her hip.