Sonny always had issues saying no to his sisters, which was why he always found himself caught in all of Teresa's schemes. That evening was no exception.
Gina’s current fiancé had somehow scored complimentary tickets to a charity event where all of the wealthiest men in New York would be attending. Teresa, who had a history of rejecting any man who earned less than six figures, jumped on the opportunity and decided to drag her younger siblings along with the stated purpose of strength in numbers.
Not that she needed it, abandoning them at the first opportunity to dance around the ballroom, her crystal-like laugh tinkling throughout the room. She seemed perfectly at ease, despite the ballroom being grander than any place Sonny had ever been, with high vaulted ceilings, gold painted filigree, and several large canvases adorning the walls.
Sonny felt ridiculous, still under dressed despite wearing the only tailored suit he owned. His younger sister Bella was at his side looking exquisite in a red gown and feeling just as out of place.
“How much longer till we can make our escape?” Sonny joked to Bella, grabbing two glasses of champagne off a passing waiter. He handed one to his younger sister before downing the other.
Bella rolled her eyes at him before taking a sip of her own drink. “You mean you don’t want to watch Teresa make a fool of herself?”
As though the mere mention of her name summoned her, Teresa reappeared at their side. “Can you see who is entering the room?”
“Where?” Sonny joked, squinting his eyes.
“Clearly there’s a reason why you keep getting passed from Borough to Borough,” Teresa said cooly.
Sonny hid his wince with a large smile. Though he didn’t let it show, the constant rejection was starting to wear him down. “I’ve been at Manhattan SVU for a month now, maybe my skills are finally being appreciated.”
“ Anyway .” Teresa ignored her younger brother. “See that man over there, standing next to the ridiculously large portrait?”
Sonny followed his sister's gaze and was surprised at who his eyes landed on. “ADA Barba?”
“He’s the ADA who works with Manhattan SVU.” Sonny smiled, waving when he caught the other man’s attention. Barba’s own eyes widened slightly before he arranged his features into a scowl and turned to mutter furiously at his companion.
Teresa furrowed her brow. “I am assuming you mean the brunette?” Sonny nodded. “Then no, I mean the man he is talking to. That’s Thomas Sullivan. He recently bought a penthouse in the Upper East Side, and he earns five million a year.” Sonny could see the dollar signs forming in his sister's eyes. “And since you know his companion you can introduce us.”
“Uh, Teresa—” But it was too late. His eldest sister had grabbed both his and Bella’s hands and was dragging him over to speak to a man he had only met a handful of times previously. Once she had dumped him in front of Barba she clearly expected a decent introduction. Instead she got a stammered, “Uh…”
“Detective Carisi,” Barba said slowly, his brow slowly raising. “I wouldn’t expect to see you here tonight.”
Sonny straightened himself up and flashed a smile. “Yeah, well, my sister dragged me along.” Teresa then elbowed him. Luckily Sonny was skilled enough to hide his annoyance. “This charming lady is my older sister Teresa.” She curtseyed to Barba who just looked at her as though she was a foreign entity. “And this is my baby sister Bella.”
This time it was Barba’s friend who was doing the nudging, and the attorney rolled his eyes before making the introduction. “This is Thomas Sullivan.”
“Call me Tommy,” the man,Tommy, said looking directly at Bella. He looked absolutely smitten. “Care for a dance?”
Bella blushed as the blond man offered his hand. She took it with a tentative smile. “Sure.”
Sonny watched as the two awkwardly set off and began to waltz. He turned to his older sister who seemed to be torn between happiness at her sister's good fortune and jealousy that it wasn’t her. He bit his lip before turning to the ADA only to see the other man's retreating back.
Teresa’s scowl appeared to be contagious. “Tough luck sis,” he smirked. “Maybe next time.”
Sonny spent the rest of the evening chatting with Gina and watching Bella dance again and again with Tommy. The couple looked perfectly content dancing together, though as yet another tune came to an end they broke apart. He watched Tommy ask his sister a question and if her reaction was anything to go by, it was a welcome one. All too quickly Tommy left the floor to seek out his own friend and Sonny saw this as the perfect opportunity to assert himself as the older brother and protector of his baby sister. He watched as Barba turned and stalked out of the room, his friend trailing behind him. Sonny decided to follow at a distance, and soon he had caught up enough to overhear their conversation.
“Come on Rafael,” Tommy said. “You know I hate seeing you standing alone. You should join Bella and I out there on the floor.”
The tone of Barba’s voice made Sunny cringe, even from the distance he was standing at. “You know I don’t dance, I loathe dancing.”
“Didn't you dance at Rita’s wedding?” Tommy continued to push.
“Fine, if I’m comfortable enough with the person I’ll dance,” Barba amended. “But Rita isn’t here, you are otherwise occupied and dancing with anyone else in the room would be torture.”
Tommy sighed, as he was clearly already sick of the conversation. “What about her brother? You seem familiar with him.”
“He’s barely tolerable, and not nearly handsome enough to tempt me.” Sonny could hear the loathing in the older man’s voice. “Return to Bella and enjoy her smiles because you’re wasting your time with me.”
Before Sonny had time to be offended by Barba’s statement, he heard the other man's footsteps come towards him. In his panic, the detective turned to leave, and instead found himself crashing into someone's solid mass. “Barba!”
“Detective,” the older man scowled. “Do you make it a habit to eavesdrop on others conversations?”
“Only when they pertain to myself,” Sonny responded coolly. “Though honestly I try not to waste my time on someone so conceited. After all, there are far more handsome men that I can spend my time with.”
He then turned on his heel and left, forcing himself not to look back. He prayed to God that the man wouldn’t be too insufferable the next time they met.
Sonny was wrong of course. Since their run in at the charity function Barba’s attitude towards him seemed to get worse. As Sonny was studying law he thought they would at least have some common ground, but no, Fordham Law wasn't Harvard, and Barba seemed to take joy in pointing that out.
Even though Barba wasn't warming up to him, the others on the team were. Before Sony knew it several months had passed and even though he was still the new guy, he felt as though he belonged. He had started spending time with his colleagues outside of work and even suspected Rollins and Amaro had a thing.
Much to Sonny’s surprise, Bella and Tommy had been seeing each other regularly since the charity function, and he had never seen Bella as happy. Everytime she spoke of Tommy, her face would light up, her cheeks would flush and her eyes would sparkle. Tommy had even braved their parents which was an exceptionally daunting task.
Bella had been going on and on about the big weekend she and Tommy had planned which was why Sonny was surprised when she called him right in the middle of it. “Hey Bells, what’s up?”
“Don't tell Mom and Dad.” That sentence in that nervous tone made the hairs on the back of Sonny’s neck stand on end.
He proceeded with caution. “Bells?”
“I’m in the hospital.” She breathed out the sentence, her voice relaxing. “I may have broken my clavicle.”
Sonny almost dropped the phone in his surprise. “What happened?”
“Wait don't tell me,” he started to gather his things, he mouthed to Rollins that he had a family emergency before heading over to the elevators. “I’ll come to you.”
He impatiently pressed the call button until one finally arrived. “Too late, leaving now, see you soon Bells.”
Sonny finally made it to Bella’s room, and he greeted Tommy with a smile and a wave before walking over to kiss his sister's forehead. “So what happened?”
“I just fell, Sonny,” Bella moaned, her face flushed red with embarrassment. “It’s no big deal.”
Sonny forced a small smile. “Can’t a guy be worried about his baby sister?” Bella rolled her eyes, but her grin made her contentment obvious. “How was your weekend anyway?”
Before Bella even answered, Rafael Barba stormed into the room, and Sonny’s eyes were instantly drawn to him. Barba forced a smile at Sonny, or rather his sister, before speaking with Tommy in a hushed voice. Tommy shushed him before he turned his attention back to the siblings. “I’ll be throwing a birthday party for our friend Rita, and you and your siblings should come.”
“Thomas,” Barba scowled, clearly unhappy with his friends proposal.
Tommy’s tone reflected his amusement. “If you don’t want to come, then you can stay home in bed. But I'm the one throwing the party and Rita loves Bella and wants to meet her siblings.
Sonny had to hide his laugh as Barba seethed in the corner. He said his farewell to Bella and thanked her boyfriend for the invitation before leaving the room. He heard Barba’s short steps behind him, and almost against his better judgment, Sonny turned to confront the shorter man. “Seriously, what’s your problem with my sister?”
“What?” Barba looked incredulous. “I have no problem with your sister—”
Sonny pressed further. “My family then.”
The look Barba gave him made Sonny feel small. “There’s nothing wrong with your family, I just want Tommy to think things through before introducing your sister into our world.”
“Your world?” Sonny couldn’t hide the angry tone of his voice. “You don’t think she’s good enough for him?”
“My opinion of your sister hardly matters,” Barba scoffed.
Sonny couldn't hold back his frustration. “Clearly you think it does.”
Sonny hated the incredulous look on Barba’s face, and the attorney was clearly done with the conversation. “Carisi, this has nothing to do with you or your family. Now unless you have anything work related to say, I must excuse myself.”
Barba didn't even give Sonny a chance to answer, just giving one final scolding look before disappearing round a corner and out of sight. Sonny let out a groan of frustration before making his own way out of the hospital. Even though Barba clearly disliked the relationship, Bella and Tommy were happy, and Sonny wasn’t going to let the grumpy prosecutor ruin that.
As the days progressed, Sonny’s relationship with the rest of the squad continued to strengthen. He also continued to trade barbs with Barba, each insult adding to the fire in Sonny’s belly. He studied harder, worked harder, posed questions to try and stump the prosecutor. Each acknowledgement, however petty, that Barba gave him, telling Sonny that he was right or conceding a point to the younger man, stirred feelings that he refused to acknowledge. He had a healthy respect for the man, and the extra effort he was putting in was reflected in his excellent grades. And when one of his professor called upon him to look after a guest lecturer, Sonny jumped on the opportunity.
Michele ‘Call me Mickey’ D’Angelo was a defense attorney. With the exception of being well dressed, he was otherwise the polar opposite of Barba. He oozed charm and was happy to be taken under Sonny’s wing. He answered all of Sonny’s questions and wasn’t offended by all the slightly underhanded comments that the younger man made. He respected Sonny as a police officer and was delighted he was studying law.
One afternoon when Sonny was discussing a case with Barba they ran into D’Angelo. “Professor,” Sonny beamed, shaking the other man’s hand.
“Detective,” D’Angelo returned the smile before turning and offering his hand to the prosecutor. “Barba.”
Barba just looked at the other man's hand before turning to Sonny. “I am a busy man, Detective, so walk with me.” He then turned and left.
Sonny offered a silent apology before running after Barba. “That was rather rude.”
“A word of advice, Carisi.” Barba stopped before turning to stare right into Sonny’s eyes. “Do not trust D’Angelo.” He then walked off, leaving Sonny to stare after him.
Sonny couldn't believe where he was, Tommy had chosen the ritziest restaurant that he had ever seen for Rita’s party. Dark wood tables were scattered around on deep red carpet, and each table had a beautiful centrepiece, a single round glass bowl with rose petals and candles which created a warm atmosphere. Sonny would have never dreamed of standing in a place like this, let alone eating the food.
Bella was dressed in a beautiful blue gown, and she looked radiant next to Tommy. Sonny had never seen his baby sister so happy. Gina and her fiancé were currently sitting closely in the corner, exchanging harsh whispers and showing those telling signs that the relationship was coming to an end. Teresa of course was in her element, swanning around the room as though she was born to be there. Sonny was bored, even though a reasonably attractive woman was talking at him, taking his occasional grunts as signs to continue. He had still never felt more relief than when he saw Barba enter the room. He excused himself and approached the prosecutor.
Sonny was not surprised the other man didn't seem enthused to be there. “Barba, did not expect to see you here this evening.”
“Yes well, Rita is a friend of mine.” His tone was dismissive.
Sonny continued to prod. “What do you think of the restaurant? Have you been here before?” Barba raised a single brow in response. “It’s your turn to say something now Barba, I asked you a question.”
“It’s fine and yes I have,” Barba said, rolling his eyes. “Are you done?”
“Not going to talk to me unless you have to?”
“If it weren't for the fact that it's look odd to be completely silent every time we’re together, I’d be more than happy to,” Barba sniped before his expression turned harsh. “How well do you know D’Angelo?”
“I’ve only just met him,” Carisi said, a little surprised at the question. “He’s a guest lecturer at Fordham.”
Barba’s expression darkened, and his voice dropped with sarcasm. “D’Angelo must be blessed to make friends such as yourself. Of course, whether he’s capable of keeping them is a different story.”
“He’s not too fond of you either—” Sonny began before a blonde woman walked over and kissed Barba’s cheek.
“I didn't expect to see you here Rafael.” Sonny could hear the smirk on her voice. “And who is this handsome young man?”
Sonny stuck his hand out. “Dominick Carisi Jr, but please call me Sonny.”
“Oh, one of Bella’s siblings.” She shook his hand with a smile. She looked like a cat who had caught a mouse. “I’m Rita, thanks for attending my party.”
“Uh, happy birthday.”
Rita looked delighted. “Don't be nervous, I don't bite.”
“Thank you Rita.” Barba scowled. “Why don't you go harass some other poor person.”
Sonny just laughed. “I don't mind, it’s nice meeting someone actually fond of Barba.”
“I wouldn't say fond—”
Barba pinched the bridge of his nose. “Don't you have somewhere else to be Rita?”
“Not really no,” Rita smirked. She clearly wouldn't be moving anytime soon. “Your sister is waving at you, Sonny.” Sonny looked over and saw Bella waving. “Go be a good brother and see what she wants.”
Sonny would have said something about her condescending tone, but Barba beat him to it. Sonny left the friends to their banter and walked over to his sister. “What’s up Bells?”
“Have you seen Teresa?” Bella asked, her tone tight.
Sonny sighed and took his younger sibling’s hand. “What has she done now?”
Bella crossed her arms over her chest and sighed. “She’s been a right pain all night, flirting with anyone remotely famous or who at least looks wealthy.”
Sonny knew his baby sister well enough to know exactly where the conversation was heading. “Let me guess, you called her out on it.”
“It’s just—ugh.” Bella threw her hands up in the air before letting them fall dejectedly. “The way she talks, you'd think I manipulated Tommy into liking me.”
Sonny threw an arm around his sibling. “You know that’s not true Bells, we were both there.”
“I know, she just treats this whole thing as a game.” Bella flicked her hair over her shoulder and put on her most Teresa-like smile. “I just can't believe Bella, she has it so lucky. I can't wait until I eventually sink my teeth into a millionaire, I’ll marry him and take him for all he’s worth.”
“Bells—” And then Sonny caught a glimpse of Barba out of the corner of his eye. He flashed the man a smile, and he received the usual glare in response. “Shit.”
“What’s wrong?” She sounded so small.
Now it was Sonny’s turn to voice his frustration. “Just Barba. I don't know what his problem is really, I try to be nice, to ask questions, but he treats me like I’m an annoyance.”
“ Well …”
Sonny laughed. “Bells!”
“Tommy says he just rubs people the wrong way,” Bella soothed him before her voice fell again. “It’s not just you he treats poorly.”
Sonny squeezed his sister tighter. “Don't let him get to you, okay?”
Bella flashed a smile at her brother. “You don't either.”
It was a Friday evening and the squad had gone out for their usual drinks. During the week Sonny had noticed something off between Rollins and Amaro, as the two had begun to snap at one another, and every little thing one did would set the other off. Sonny had tried to bring it up with Fin but only got a long look in return.
Sonny just felt caught in the middle of some big drama. Of course Rollins had draped herself all over Sonny which seemed to be causing the nasty glare Amaro was sending his way. “You ain't bad looking Carisi,” Rollins purred as she leaned into him.
Sonny laughed her off. “Aww Rollins, you don't mean that.”
“I do,” she purred, sliding closer to him. “You’re like a puppy. All cute and fluffy.” She ran her hand up his arm and down again resting her hand on his. “I like puppies…” She paused before raking her eyes slowly over him. “Maybe you and I could—”
“I’m going to stop you right there Rollins,” Sonny gently lifted her hand from off of his and dropped it in her lap. “I am flattered but we both know you’re not really interested in me.”
She pressed herself against him and batted her eyelashes. “Sure I am.”
Sonny slid himself away from her and sighed. “You’re just using me as a way to annoy Amaro.”
She sobered up quickly. “Wait, did Amaro say something?”
“Nah.” Sonny felt a grin creep onto his face. “I see the way you look at him, the way he looks at you. Besides, we wouldn’t make each other happy.”
He interrupted her again. “Amanda, Nick clearly wants to talk with you.” He lifted his bottle and pointed it towards Amaro. He watched the blonde detective lock eyes with the man on the other side of the room, and Sonny knew then he didn’t have to push further. Rollins slowly shuffled out of the booth and made her way over to Amaro.
Sonny watched as the couple exchanged a few words before they shared a tender kiss. They gave him a small wave before they left the bar. He felt a warmth flow over him, it was wonderful that his two colleagues could find happiness with one another, even if it was only for a little while. He was pulled out of his thoughts by the shrill ringing of his phone, and he saw his sister's name pop up. “Bells, what’s up?”
“ Tommy broke up with me .”
Sonny was going to kill Thomas Sullivan if he ever saw the man again. Not only had he dumped his younger sister on their sixth month anniversary, which was tragic enough, but he had broken up with her via text message. Text Message . When Bella was in the bathroom Sonny had rung the other man and left a few choice words on his voicemail. He then proceeded to lavish his sister with gifts of chocolate, ice cream and a ridiculous amount of chick flicks.
Bella and his sisters spent the following days on whatsapp bitching about what a piece of work Tommy and what they would do to him the next time they saw him. Bella put up a front but Sonny could tell that she was hurting. Of course he was paying too much attention to the conversation happening on his phone rather than the line he was standing in, and he managed to walk straight into the man in front of him. “Det. Carisi.”
Sonny could feel the color drain from his face. “Professor D’Angelo—”
“I’m not a professor, Carisi,” the older man said smoothly. “Just a Defense Attorney.”
Sonny forced a smile. “That’s just as intimidating. Did you get my email?”
D’Angelo chuckled, clearly pleased with himself. “If you have time now, maybe we can sit together and I can answer some of those burning questions.”
“Sure.” Sonny could feel his face turning red. They made polite conversation as they ordered from the menu and then went to sit at a table. Of course Sonny’s phone was going crazy the entire time, he silenced the device before offering his apology. “Sorry.”
“Family emergency?” D’Angelo enquired.
Sonny couldn't stop the scowl from appearing on his face. “My sister got dumped by text message.”
The defense attorney shook his head. “Harsh.”
“Yeah,” Sonny took a drink of his coffee before leaning back in his chair. “He just seemed like a good guy you know?” He leaned forward and lowered his voice. “Thomas Sullivan, you heard of him?”
“Heard of him?” D’Angelo scoffed. He patted his mouth and then threw down his napkin. “I used to represent him.”
His tone grew more aggressive as he spoke. “Until his asshole best friend told him to dump me. Almost ruined my career.”
“Would this be ADA Barba?” Sonny already knew the answer.
“Let me guess,” D’Angelo’s tone was sarcastic. “He warned you off me?”
The defence attorney began his tale. “He and I have a history. We started in the same law firm, Barba made a big fuss about only working pro-bono cases. As he was a hotshot from Harvard, our manager had no issues allowing him to do so. This gave him the time to research into his colleagues’ cases, pick them apart and steal their clients.”
“That doesn’t seem too bad.” Sonny interjected, eager to hear more.
The lawyer continued. “I was assigned an injured client, a baseball player, a doctor had performed surgery on their wrist making it worse. I noticed that the doctor and the baseball player were a bit too friendly and started to ask them about it. I had no solid proof but I was certain they were in a relationship and were trying to embezzle millions of dollars from the hospital. I discussed my suspicions with Barba and he convinced me to withdraw myself. The next thing I know he successfully won the suit, and earned himself a big fat paycheck out of it too.”
Sonny was horrified. “Did you report him?”
“How could I?” D’Angelo scowled. “I had no evidence other than my gut feeling. He then reported me to the Bar Association for misconduct, luckily there was no evidence and I was exonerated but I had to find work elsewhere. My bosses didn’t want to hear a bad word about their star attorney.”
“I’m sorry,” Sonny offered.
D’Angelo waved him off as he stood up and left a hefty amount of cash on the table. “Don’t be, the past is in the past. But believe me when I say watch your back, Rafael Barba is bad news.” He bid Sonny farewell and then he was gone.
As he sipped his coffee Sonny couldn’t help but agree. He was sure Rafael Barba had something to do with his sister’s break up, now all he had to do was prove it.