Actions

Work Header

Snark and Presumption

Chapter Text

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?”

“Who?”

“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?”

“Well—”

“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.”

“Sonny—”

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.”

“Yes.”

“Bells—”

“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.”

“But—”

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.”

“Oh?”

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?”

“Well—”

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.

Chapter Text

Sonny was certain Rafael Barba was the reason why Thomas Sullivan had dumped his sister. However, short of confronting the man directly, Sonny had no way to prove it. As determined as he was to make things right for Bella, life of course took over and the longer he worked at SVU, the more field work he was given.

He also found himself working alongside Barba more often. The Sergeant believed that she was doing him a favor. His enthusiasm for his studies had been mistaken for a want to spend more time learning from the man. Barba wasn't too enthused either, but eventually the two settled into a rhythm.

Sonny found himself building a relationship with the man and somehow he had even convinced Barba to help with his homework. Of course it was in exchange for the detective assisting him with his paperwork, and Sonny was coming to regret the decision.

Since Sonny received his first essay back from Barba, filled with red marks and insightful comments he was loath to be in the same room as the attorney. The man made Sonny work hard, but soon Sonny noticed a change in his work. As the months progressed the red marks throughout his work became less.

Barba seemed to become less dismissive of him as well. The man still turned his nose up at the majority of what Sonny tried to offer, but he was softer. In another life it would have made Sonny second guess his opinion of the man, but after what Barba had done to both his sister and D'Angelo, Sonny's opinion was not going to change.

Then before Sonny knew it, Christmas was upon the city and of course he was lucky enough not to be working on the day itself. On Christmas Eve Liv let him leave early, so he had plenty of time to get himself ready and head to Staten Island to meet his family for mass.

As he left the precinct, he called Bella, since usually they would travel together. When it went to voicemail he got a little worried. He headed over to her apartment and knocked on her door. "Bells are you in there?"

"Go away Sonny," her voice squeaked through the door.

Sonny knocked again. "Come on Bells, let me in. You know I'll wait out here all night."

He heard his sister groan before she unlocked the door. She was an absolute mess, and there was no way she was planning on attending mass dressed like this. Sonny walked into the apartment and gently closed the door behind him. He wrapped his arms around his little sister and felt her heavy sobs. "It's okay Bella."

"W-we were su-supposed to spend Christmas with his family," Bella sobbed into her brother’s chest. "We were supposed to be together."

"Oh Bells," Sonny soothed as he stroked his sister’s hair. "You may not believe me but it will get better, you'll forget about him soon enough."

"No I won’t Dominick." Bella wrenched herself away from him. "He was it for me, I knew it from the moment we first kissed that there would be no one else."

"Oh Bells-"

She smacked his chest. "Don't you 'Oh Bells' me, you don't get it."

"No I don't," Sonny conceded.

Bella flashed him a smile before she dragged him over to her couch and forced him to sit down. She slowly sat down next to him and rested a head on his shoulder. "I'm scared Sonny."

Sonny pressed a kiss to his baby sisters head. "I know Bells, I know."

"What if he doesn't love me anymore?" She whispered, her eyes wide and shining with tears.

"If you are meant to be you will find a way back to each other," he said, smiled at her.

"You promise?"

"I promise."

 

--

 

Sonny heard the attorney coming before he saw the man. He could always tell when a trial wasn't going well for Barba, as the attorney would become snappier than usual. Barba barrelled into the precinct like a hurricane and headed straight for the Sergeant's office as usual.

Sonny could hear Barba and Benson's muffled arguing before the man left her office and made a beeline straight for Sonny's desk. The next thing the blond saw was a bunch of papers he had highlighted for Barba thrown onto his desk, though Barba's accompanying words weren't much help.

"When we traded favors I assumed your work would actually be helpful," Barba snapped. "Instead all I was provided with was highlighted drivel."

Sonny spoke slowly and pointedly. "What's the exact issue?"

The prosecutor looked as though Sonny had sprouted an extra head. "The exact issue is you clearly don't understand how to highlight relevant information."

Sonny tried again. "What are you looking for?"

"Anything that can help with my cross of the suspect." Barba scowled.

Sonny grabbed the pile of pages and thumbed through. He found an interview conducted by Fin and Rollins, where he had highlighted the client's initial statement in one color, and the inconsistencies in another. He handed the document to Barba, "Does this help?"

Barba quickly scanned the pages, his body language relaxing as he read. "I must have missed this."

"Sometimes a second pair of eyes can help," Sonny suggested with a shrug.

"Uh, thank you Carisi," Barba nodded at him before collecting the rest of the papers and walking away.

Sonny just rolled his eyes at Amanda before he finally turned and shouted at Barba. "You're welcome!"

 

--

 

Yet again Sonny found himself on a coffee run for the SVU squad. He hadn't been the new guy for months now and yet they still treated him as their coffee guy. Sonny wasn't too upset though, since he enjoyed having the opportunity to escape and take a walk outside, plus if anyone annoyed him too much he could just 'forget' their order. As he walked into the cafe he saw a familiar head of black hair.

"Professor D'Angelo," Sonny called out with a wave.

The man turned, he smiled and nodded before beckoning Sonny over. "I'm not your professor detective, you don't have to call me that."

Sonny felt his face fill with color. "I know that, just being polite. What are you doing with yourself now you're no longer lecturing?"

"I'm back to defending civil servants." D'Angelo shrugged. The barista called his name and he grabbed his coffee. "I'm not a highly sought after attorney, so we probably won't see each other around anytime soon."

"I'm sure we'll-"

"Sonny!" Teresa's familiar shriek made the detective wince. "What are you doing here?"

Sonny scowled at his sister. "Coffee run, and why are you slumming here?"

"Hot date, who's your friend?" Teresa smirked before eyeing D'Angelo.

"Mickey D'Angelo," the attorney introduced himself. "I guest lectured at Fordham."

Sonny watched as a devilish grin appeared on his sister’s face. "How was my brother as a student?"

"He did well enough, though you could see Barba's influence on him near the end." D'Angelo humored her.

"Barba?" Teresa's expression went cold and her tone harsh. "That little shit who broke Bella and Tommy up?" She rounded on her brother. "Why are you asking him for help?"

"I work with him Teresa." Sonny rolled his eyes. Years of putting up with her had taken their toll and left him with little empathy for her.

D'Angelo clapped Sonny on the shoulder. "I feel for you detective. It was nice meeting you Teresa."

"You too!" Teresa beamed as the attorney acknowledged her.

"Watch yourself around Barba," D'Angelo noted before turning and making his way out of the cafe.

Sonny rolled his eyes, a habit he refused to admit he'd picked up from the man mentioned. "I know."

After the man was well out of sight Teresa turned to her brother. "So is he single?" Sonny couldn't help the exhausted groan which escaped.

 

--

 

“About time Carisi," Nick shouted as Sonny rushed into the precinct carrying everyone's coffee orders. "Barba's been in the Sergeant’s office for the last ten minutes, and you know how he is without his coffee."

Sonny let out a groan. "Why didn't anyone text me? I didn't bring him a coffee."

"Sorry," Amanda shrugged, her tone clearly implying otherwise. "We assumed since you spend so much time with him you would have already known."

Ever since he had turned her down, Amanda seemed to believe there was a secret romance between Sonny and the prosecutor. Apparently Barba's body language was more relaxed around the detective and he always looked happy to see Sonny. Sonny had tried to convince Amanda that the permanent smirk across Barba's face didn't change as the wind froze it in place. She of course was unconvinced.

Sonny quickly handed out the coffees he ordered before he headed to the small kitchen. He took the lid off his own coffee, added a single sugar, then opened the cupboard where he kept his spices and added a dash of cinnamon. He gave the beverage a quick stir before he put the lid back on and popped it back in the tray alongside the sergeant’s coffee. He carried the coffee's over to the sergeant’s office before he gently rapped his knuckles on the door. After a few moments he heard the gentle voice of his boss inviting him into her office.

"Sorry to interrupt," Sonny grinned as he passed the Sergeant and Barba their coffee's. "But we all need a caffeine, don’t we?”

Sergeant Benson nodded. "Thanks Carisi."

"No problem," Carisi said as he left the office and made his way back to his desk.

A few moments later Barba followed him out and across the room. "Carisi," he called out, causing Sonny to raise his head. "Thanks for the coffee, I know you weren't aware I was coming in."

Sonny pointedly ignored Amanda's scoff before he answered. "It's fine."

"Well..." Barba trailed off as he met Sonny's eyes with his own. "It is always appreciated."

Sonny forced a polite smile and went back to his work. He ignored Barba who just stood at his desk, as though he wanted to say something else. To Sonny's relief the man eventually left, sipping at his coffee. Amanda tried to comment but Sonny pointedly ignored her. She was just teasing him after all.

 

--

 

It was late and Sonny was meant to be studying, but instead he was lazing on the couch thumbing through a worn out copy of 1984. He heard his phone vibrating against his coffee table, he looked at the caller ID and answered it. "Hi Bells, what's up?"

"Turn on your TV Sonny," his sisters voice was soft and tinged with hurt. "Switch to LMZ."

Sonny followed his sisters direction, and there was Tommy. He was dressed in a blue suit, a skinny blonde woman in a red dress clashed horribly by his side. Sonny couldn't help but comment, "She looks a lot like you Bells."

"Teresa thinks he has a type."

"Teresa has no idea what she's talking about." He paused and looked at the television. "His smile looks forced, it doesn't reach his eyes."

"Stop trying to placate me Sonny," Bella snapped at him, though after a few minutes her tone went soft. "He does look sad, doesn't he?"

He sighed before he looked back at Tommy's face. "He does."

"He's the most eligible bachelor in North America at the moment."

"Really?" Sonny couldn't keep the laughter from his voice. "And he's single you say?"

“Shut up," Bella giggled. "He's not for you. Tell me about your day."

"You really want to know?" Sonny felt himself lean forward.

"Yes."

Sonny spent the rest of his evening attempting to make his younger sister laugh. He reminded her of all the terrible things they did to their older sisters while growing up, and his more humorous exploits at SVU. All the while he couldn't help but think how wonderful it was to hear his sister laugh again.

 

--

 

Valentine's Day had arrived and New York seemed to be decorated in a flood of red. Or at least Sonny’s desk was. Somehow his sisters had managed to find their way into the squad room and had clearly decided things were too dull. Of course the moment Sonny sat down at his desk and attempted to unwrap the red cellophane from around his laptop was the moment Barba walked in.

The lawyer raised a single eyebrow before ducking into the sergeant's office. Sonny rolled his eyes and continued to deconstruct the mess around his desk, when he was finally finished a familiar shadow fell over his desk.

"It's nice to see you in the spirit detective." Sonny could hear the condescending tone in Barba's voice.

"What can I say," Sonny indulged the man. "I'm quite popular. Have you received any Valentines today?" He let his tone grow innocent and sweet.

Barba drew back, rolling his eyes. "Of course not, as if I would participate in such drivel."

Sonny smirked at the man before reaching into his drawer and producing a small box of chocolates wrapped with a purple bow. "Everyone deserves some love on Valentine's Day, Barba. Here, from me to you." He stood up and pressed the box into the shorter mans hands. "Have a lovely day."

Sonny went back to typing on his laptop. If he had broken his focus and looked at Barba for even a second he would have noticed the small smile which graced the man's features before he opened up his briefcase and shoved the box of chocolates inside.

 

--

 

The entire SVU squad had been called to Chicago to help with an investigation for multiple rapes in New York and Chicago by the same perp. Sonny was excited, he had never been to the city before as he was made to stay behind the last time this squad visited. All hands were on deck, and even Barba eventually flew in to help with the legal aspects of the case.

It had been a long week and Sonny was looking forward to having a drink with Nick and Amanda. What they had thought was going to be a long and drawn out manhunt had instead ended relatively quickly.

“Detective Carisi!” Sonny turned to see Barba jogging towards him. The detective nodded his acknowledgement as the attorney reached him. “I wanted to speak with you before my flight out this evening, do you have a moment?”

Sonny sighed. "Of course, Counselor." He looked expectantly at the attorney.

"Could we go somewhere a bit more private?" Barba asked quietly. “Like that bar across the road?"

"Sure.” Sonny decided to humor the man.

"Come on." Sonny and Barba walked together in silence. After they entered the bar Barba ordered himself a scotch and Sonny a beer. Once the drinks had arrived he led Sonny to a table in the corner and invited him to sit. After a few minutes of silence Sonny was done.

"What did you want to talk about?"

Barba took a large gulp of his scotch before standing again, he paced from one side of the room to the other and sat back down. "I admire you, Sonny," he said finally.

"You admire me?" Sonny failed to keep the surprise out of his voice.

"I’ve tried not to," Barba smirked. He looked into Sonny's eyes and held his gaze, and his tone did not falter. "But yes, I admire you." He took another sip of his scotch, though there wasn't much remaining. "When we first met I admit you rubbed me the wrong way, but since then I’ve gotten to know you better and well, I like you, more than I would care to admit. You're obnoxious, too loud, have a terrible sense of humor-"

Sonny felt his face color, and he couldn't even control his facial expressions. He could feel himself move from surprise to disbelief to annoyance. As Barba continued, Sonny could feel how uncomfortable the man was. He spoke eloquently enough about his feelings towards Sonny, but all the detective could pick up on was the attorney's sense of Sonny's inferiority, whether it was Sonny himself, his family, or his education. The detective could not understand what Barba was trying to accomplish.

And then the man's tone changed. He told Sonny that in spite of everything that he had found his feelings impossible to conquer. That he was fond of Sonny, that he loved what he knew of Sonny. "-I’ve enjoyed working with you and I’d like to continue getting to know you," Barba finished, his face flushed red. "Would you be interested in having dinner when we get back to New York?"

At first Sonny wasn't sure he had heard Barba correctly, but the earnestness in his face confirmed what he had asked. Sonny wondered how he had gotten himself into this situation. "Uh thanks, but I'm not really interested."

"What?" Barba's tone was sharp, surprised even.

"Look," Sonny kept his voice even. "When I first started with SVU I looked up to you, but then I learned what kind of a person you were.” The prosecutor looked confused. “And I am really not interested in getting to know you further."

Barba's face dropped into a scowl, and he drank the remainder of his scotch and placed the glass gently onto the table. "I wasn't expecting you to say yes, but I was expecting a polite refusal at least. Can I ask why? Or is it just the Staten Island in you?"

Sonny felt anger bubble in his chest. "You just insulted me while trying to ask me on a date and you expect me to be nice about it?"

"Well-"

"What makes you think I would even consider dating the guy who hurt my sister?" Sonny felt himself lash out, months of resentment towards this man rushing out.

Barba's face flickered with emotion before he once more schooled his features. "Well then." He went to stand up but Sonny caught him by the wrist.

"I have every reason to dislike you. You’re the reason Tommy left Bella, and from what I have seen they are both miserable." Sonny took a deep breath. "What do you have to say for yourself?"

Barba's voice was neutral. "What do you want to hear? That I did everything in my power to separate my friend from your sister?”

"She loves him, you know," Sonny continued, and he didn't notice the look of surprise that quickly flickered across the attorney's face. "You didn't know did you? Did you even care that you were breaking both their hearts?"

"I did-"

"But that's not the only reason." Words continued to fall from Sonny's mouth. "I learned exactly what kind of man you were from D'Angelo months ago. You ruined your friendship with him and for what? Career advancement? How could you?”

"You believe the drivel D’Angelo spouts?” For the first time Sonny heard anger spark in Barba's voice.

"I know how unlucky he’s been-"

"Unlucky?" Barba repeated contemptuously. "Yes, he’s been very unlucky."

"You tried to ruin his career!" Sonny shouted, his voice loud enough to make the other bar patrons turn to watch them. "He was nearly disbarred, had to spend years rebuilding his reputation and is still stuck only defending civil servants. You treat him like scum."

Barba wrenched his hand from Sonny's grip. "This is your opinion of me? Thank you for explaining." He began to walk away before he turned and stalked back over to Sonny. "I’ve always been honest, I never pretended to be anyone other than myself around you. I worked hard to get to where I am and expected the same from you. I’m sorry I offended you."

“Well thanks Barba, but you didn't offend me. Everything you said just made it easier to say no. It would have been far harder if you were nicer and less of an ass. Besides, you don't want to be seen in public with someone like me, right?”

The two men stared at each other in silence for several minutes before Barba sighed and took another step back. "Forgive me for taking up your time. I wish you a safe trip home." The older man then left the bar.

Sonny waited several minutes before following him out the door. He checked his watch and saw he still had several minutes before he was due to meet Amanda and Nick. He was so glad, since after that conversation with Barba he was definitely going to need a stiff drink.

 

--

 

The flight home felt longer than it actually was, probably compounded by his hangover. When he finally reached his apartment, he noticed something tucked under the door. He knelt down and wiggled the paper free, and he saw the words Detective Carisi in Barba’s pretentious scrawl. Sonny rolled his eyes before unlocking the apartment door, and he headed straight for his kitchen and threw the envelope in the trash.

He dragged his suitcase into his bedroom and tossed on his bed. As he begun to unpack his mind turned to the lette. He could not understand why Barba had taken the time to write after their fight the previous day. Especially since Sonny had made it clear he wasn't interested.

Sonny sighed before tossing the shirt in his hand into the laundry hamper, and despite himself, he walked back to the kitchen and pulled the envelope out of the trash. He looked at the delicate scrawl on the envelope before finally opening it and removing the handwritten letter inside.

Detective Carisi,

I am not going to try and convince you to change your mind about me. However yesterday you made aspersions on my character that required this letter to be written and read. I know you may find it hard to read considering your feelings towards me, but due to our working relationship I hope you will read this before shredding it.

I have been accused of two offenses of a very different nature, the first being that I interfered in your sister’s relationship with Thomas Sullivan, and the second that I went out of my way to sabotage D’Angelo’s career. If you hadn't been so hostile towards me I may have let the entire thing go, but I feel I need to explain myself.

Firstly I am sorry with how your sister has been treated. I knew that Tommy was attracted to your sister, but it wasn't until I saw you all in the hospital I realized just how deep his feelings were. I was apprehensive as I have often seen him in love before with women who tended to use him for money.

After observing Thomas and Bella I could see they loved each other, but then I overheard you and your sister speaking at Rita’s birthday. She said something like ‘ I can't wait until I marry a millionaire and take him for all he’s worth.’ In my anger I told Thomas what I had overheard, though he didn't believe me until he heard your other sister Teresa telling another guest how lucky her baby sister was to ‘ score a rich man.’ Thomas was devastated and didn't want to confront Bella so he broke up with her via text.

I apologize for the hurt my actions subsequently caused. In my haste to protect my friend I clearly didn't think. Thomas is still in love with your sister and I will ensure he knows the whole story. If nothing else I hope I can convince him to apologise and maybe they can start again.

With respect to that other, more weighty accusation, I can only tell you my side of the story. It is up to you if you want to believe me or D’Angelo, but I am hopeful that because of our time as colleagues you still have some faith in me.

D’Angelo, Rita and I went to Harvard together, we interned together, we lived together and even started working in the same firm together. We all thought that we could cope, but when you spend nearly 24/7 together, things become tense.

Eventually Rita was assigned an injured client, a baseball player who had been injured playing. He had surgery which was supposed to fix his issue, but it only made things worse. It was a big case for Rita, and she asked me to sit second chair. We discussed the details at home and of course D’Angelo overheard.

One afternoon when meeting another client for dinner I saw the baseball player and the doctor at dinner, and they looked quite intimate. I took a photo and showed it to Rita later. After a little digging it appeared that the baseball player's career was going nowhere, and while we didn't have proof, we were sure they were trying to embezzle money from the hospital. D’Angelo overheard us and convinced us to recuse ourselves.

Of course several weeks later we discovered that D’Angelo had won the suit and received a large paycheck. Apparently he went to the clients with the photo and asked for a cut of the profits. I had no proof of this of course but I reported him to the Bar Association for misconduct, but without evidence they dismissed the charges. Rita and I kicked D’Angelo out of our apartment and shortly after Rita and I left the firm and became prosecutors.

You may wonder why I didn't tell you all of this last night, but during our argument I was quite surprised by your anger and I felt you needed some time to calm down. I know that you may not believe me so below are Rita’s contact details, I am sure she will be more than happy to assure you of the truthfulness of my statements in this letter, otherwise a quick google search of the baseball player should also suffice.

Sonny, I do hope that my inappropriate behavior yesterday does not impact our working relationship. I wish you and your family all the best and will see you again at some point I am sure.

Best,

Rafael Barba

Chapter Text

Sonny never thought he would ever step foot in the offices of Swindel, Steele and Kahn, but there he was sitting in the finely furnished office of Rita Calhoun. The woman was clearly on her way to becoming a junior partner, and if she hadn't worked as a prosecutor maybe she would already be one. When the woman herself swanned into the room, Sonny couldn't help but feel awe. Her suit rivaled one of Barba's own — clearly they both had similar taste.

"We share a tailor," Rita said, reading his mind.

"Oh."

"What can I help you with today, Detective?" She raised a perfectly sculpted eyebrow.

He opened up his satchel and pulled out the handwritten letter that Barba had so carefully slid under Sonny's front door. He gently removed the letter from its envelope and unfolded it. Sonny had read through the letter multiple times, trying to find something to indicate Barba was lying.

Sonny drew a deep breath. "I was hoping to confirm something Barba told me."

Rita eyed the letter and shook her head. "I recognize that handwriting, Detective. I won't read it."

"I wasn't going to ask you to," Sonny countered. "I just need you to tell me what happened with D'Angelo."

"D'Angelo? That's a name I haven't heard for a while." She sounded nervous.

Sonny leaned forward in his chair and chose his next words carefully. "You had a baseball player for a client and something went down. D'Angelo and Barba told me two different versions—"

"And you want me to tell you mine?" Rita cocked her head. "Aren't you worried that I'll just agree with Rafael?"

"Surprisingly no." Sonny smiled. "You treated my sister with kindness and respect, so I trust you to tell the truth."

Rita nodded at him before she sat down at her desk and crossed one leg over the other. "Early in my career, I was assigned an injured baseball player. The surgery that was supposed to fix his issue made things worse. It was a case which would make the firm a lot of money. Because Rafael wanted to be a prosecutor, I asked him to sit second chair.”

So far things seemed to match up with Barba’s story. Rita continued to say her piece.

“We were living with Mickey at the time and he was upset I didn't ask him. Even so he was happy to help us discuss the case at length. We'd been researching for a few weeks when Rafael saw the baseball player and his doctor at dinner, and he snapped a photo and showed it to me later. After some investigating, we found that the player had no real career opportunities. Rafael and I were sure that they were trying to embezzle money, and Mickey told us the smartest thing to do would be to drop the case.”

As Rita continued to confirm Barba’s story Sonny felt something akin to relief.

“A few weeks later, Mickey had won the suit and received a large payout. Rafael was furious. He was certain that Mickey blackmailed them for a cut of the profits. We evicted Mickey and Rafael reported him to the Bar Association but nothing came from it.” She finished with a smirk. “Does that clear things up for you?”

Sonny nodded. "Thank you for your time.” He smiled at her before standing to leave.

"Detective," she interrupted. "Rafael isn't as soulless as he pretends to be, so please don't hurt him."

Sonny nodded before he forced a tight smile. As he made his was from her office through the building he couldn't help but feel regret. He had been harsh in his rejection. In another life, maybe he and Barba could have been more than colleagues — maybe they could have been friends.

--

Sonny loved to cook with Bella as they both appreciated the finer things in life. It was a rare Saturday off when Sonny gently knocked on his sister's door, carrying bags full of ingredients to make fresh pasta. He heard a squeal as the lock clicked and the door swung open.

His sister hugged him before leading him into her tiny apartment and towards the kitchen. That afternoon they spent time laughing as they rolled dough, cut vegetables, simmered sauces and cooked their meal. They were letting everything cool on the counter when they were interrupted by a knock on Bella's door.

Sonny walked over and opened it, surprised by who was there. Tommy was standing at the door, and he looked frightened to see Sonny. It probably didn't help that Sonny's face had fallen into a scowl at first glimpse of the man.

"Can I come in?" Tommy's voice shook.

Sonny huffed in exasperation at him. "I don't think that—"

"Let him in." Bella's voice sounded quieter from behind him.

Sonny stepped to the side and let the man into his sister's apartment. She looked at him expectantly and gestured to the door. Sonny could take a hint.

"Well I'm going to head off now," he said loudly as he gathered his wallet and keys. "If you need anything, Bella, please let me know."

He threw one last big brother glare at Tommy before leaving the apartment and closing the door behind him. As keen as Sonny was to eavesdrop outside the door, he had faith in his little sister to hear the man out. As he left the building he made a mental note to thank Barba for keeping his word about talking to Tommy.

--

The next time Sonny saw Barba he wanted to mention the letter, but the older man pretended their argument hadn't happen. He treated Sonny no differently to how he had previously, which of course made the detective feel more guilty than ever. Still, he was determined to show the lawyer that he could be just as professional.

Sonny's chance came when he had somehow managed to convince Barba to let him shadow on a case. Sonny had stayed up late researching, outlining possible arguments and counterarguments, and feeding Barba, and had even offered some useful insights which Barba used on several cross examinations. It almost felt as though Chicago had never happened.

After they won, Barba and the squad went out for drinks to celebrate their victory. As the team traded war stories Sonny began to pay more attention to Barba the man rather than the prosecutor. Barba had a very dry sense of humor, and the stories he told were both witty and scathing at once. The prosecutor rolled his eyes at Sonny during one of the detective's own stories, but Sonny could see warmth behind it. Sonny wished he could have met this Barba all those months ago rather than the pompous jackass who he presented himself as.

As the night wound down the lieutenant proposed a toast: "To Barba and Carisi — you managed to work together without maiming each other. Well done."

"Thanks for having faith in us Lieu," Sonny laughed as he raised his own beverage.

"To Sonny and Barba," Rollins cried and she stood up. She had clearly had too much to drink as she managed to trip over Nick in the process, spilling her beer all down Barba's shirt.

Sonny tried to ignore the way the wet fabric clung to the attorney's undershirt, how Barba’s bronze skin appeared under the translucent white fabric, the way the wet shirt hugged a broad chest with a shadow of the hair it usually hid. Sonny felt his cheeks start to turn red, and he quickly shifted his gaze to Rollins, who just winked.

As Barba raised a single brow, the blonde detective burst out laughing. "Come on Barba, take it off,” she called.

"No thank you." The man threw a scowl at Rollins.

"Come on, Rafael," the lieutenant laughed.

His scowl grew deeper. "Really Liv?"

Amanda continued to laugh. "Don't you want to show us your assets?"

"Come on guys," Sonny said, feeling his face go pink. "Leave him be."

"Thank you Carisi," Barba said with a nod. "I think I may take my leave now. Liv, care to share an Uber?"

Sonny said goodnight to both the lieutenant and Barba, unable to help himself watch the latter leave. When he turned back to the group, Fin just looked at him in disbelief. "What?" Sonny asked.

The sergeant cocked his head. "I thought you weren't interested in Barba."

"I'm not," Sonny protested as he felt himself grow redder.

Amanda just rolled her eyes. "Your mouth says no but you may need to mop up the drool."

Sonny quickly finished his beer and made a hasty exit. As he walked towards the subway, he couldn't help but think back on Barba's surprisingly strong figure and for the first time realized he may have been too hasty rejecting his dinner invite.

--

As he studied for the Bar exam, Sonny tried to push images of a wet Barba from his mind, but sooner rather than later they would crawl back, each image more lewd and provocative than the last until Sonny found himself in the shower touching himself to his mental images of Barba wearing nothing but a long white wet shirt. And since he spent himself over the images of a near naked, wet Barba, it took all of Sonny's strength not to go bright red every time he spoke to the prosecutor.

Sonny's solution was to avoid the man as much as possible, but this plan was foiled by Barba offering to help Sonny study for the bar exam. And before he could say no Sonny found himself readily agreeing. As one night turned into two and two turned into a week Sonny began to feel more confident in his own knowledge of the law.

And when Barba told Sonny that he was ready to take the Bar, Sonny felt special, as though he had earned something. When Barba flashed him a small smile and Sonny felt his stomach knot, he knew that he a developed feelings for the man.

That evening Sonny found his hand snaking into his boxers. He would have been content in his ignorance if it wasn't for Rollins, a beer and Barba looking sinful in that translucent wet shirt.

--

Sonny felt sickened by his latest case. Alastair Townsend was a parole officer who had been accused of raping several of his clients. The man who had been hired to represent him? Mickey D'Angelo, who Sonny had managed to avoid since learning the truth from Rita.

"Detective Carisi," D'Angelo smiled as he stuck out his hand for Sonny to shake.

Sonny gave the attorney's hand a quick squeeze. "Mr. D'Angelo."

"I haven't heard from you in a while, how have you been?" D'Angelo smirked at him.

"Investigating your client for rape," Sonny said, scowling at him.

D'Angelo took a step back. "Come now, I thought we were friends."

"Just doing my job, Mr. D'Angelo," Sonny continued. His tone didn't waiver.

D'Angelo sighed. "I'm going to see my client now."

Sonny watched as the man left, only relaxing once the defense attorney had entered the interview room.

"I see you spoke with Rita then." Barba's familiar drawl sent a jolt through the detective.

Sonny turned to face him, unable to conceal the blush which crept onto his cheeks. "I did."

"Excellent," Barba said, flashing him a wicked smirk. "He'll be caught off guard when we interrogate him."

"We?"

Barba just rolled his eyes and gestured towards the interview room. "Come on, Carisi, let's go."

--

D’Angelo of course refused to take a deal which meant that Barba had kept Sonny back to discuss strategy with him. Normally Sonny would have loved to pick the Barba’s brain, but he was supposed to catch up with his sister that evening, as she had called with news. When he finally arrived at her apartment he was wrecked and was looking forward to good food, beer, and maybe crashing on her couch.

When her door opened Sonny was disappointed but unsurprised to see Tommy behind it. He waved at the man and gave his baby sister a hug before making his way to the kitchen and grabbing himself a beer. Once he had a few mouthfuls he was ready to face the happy couple.

“What’s up, Bells?” he asked with a grin.

She walked over to him and grabbed his hand. “Don’t you notice anything different about me?”

“Nope,” he said with a shrug.

She swatted at him and giggled. “Look really hard.”

“Please don’t tell me you’re pregnant,” he groaned as he looked her up and down.

“Of course not,” she snapped at him before throwing her left hand at his face. “I’m engaged.”

On her finger sat an impressive solitaire cut diamond, the stone resting delicately on a band of what Sonny assumed to be white gold (though later Bella would inform him it was platinum). It wasn’t too ostentatious and looked elegant on his younger sister's finger.

Sonny tried to keep his face from falling but he failed. He took a step forward and grabbed his sister's hand. “Bells—”

“Don’t,” she whispered, her expression soft in understanding at his hesitation. “Tommy and I, we worked things out. And I’m happy, real happy. Can’t I be happy for once?”

“Of course Bells,” he said, pulling her into a hug.

He felt her smile against him. “Will you help me tell mom and dad?”

“If by help you mean stop Dad from shooting Tommy on sight, sure,” Sonny chuckled.

Bella pulled away, her eyes full of happy tears which matched the beautiful smile that graced her features as she looked back at Tommy. “You two have that talk I know you want to have. I’ll be in the bedroom when you are done.”

Sonny watched his sister leave the room and waited until he heard the click of the bedroom door before he turned on Tommy.

“I know what you’re going to say,” Tommy began as he raised his hands defensively. “Rafael said he explained it to you—”

“You should have spoken to Bella first,” Sonny snapped at the man.

“I know, and I promise I’ll spend the rest of my life making it up to her,” Tommy insisted.

“Good.” Sonny felt himself deflating, the big speech he had prepared evaporating on his tongue as he thought of how happy his sister was.

“I really am sorry,” Tommy offered with a smile.

Sonny sighed before moving to the couch and sitting on it. “I know Tommy, it’s just going to take a while for the rest of us to forgive you.”

“If you promise to forgive me I’ll promise to forgive you,” Tommy said as he moved to sit down next to his future brother-in-law.

Sonny tried not to choke on his beer. “For what?”

“You really hurt Rafael,” Tommy said. “He really likes you.”

Sonny felt his heart start to speed up. “Likes? As in, he still does?”

“As much as he hates to admit it, he really does,” Tommy chuckled. “So do we have a deal?”

Sonny grabbed the other man's hand and shook it firmly. “Deal.”

--

Following his brief conversation with Tommy, Sonny felt confident knocking on Barba’s door. When he heard the familiar voice inviting him inside he could feel his insides churn with excitement. And then he saw the prosecutor’s face.

Barba looked furious.

“Carisi,” he snapped as he stalked across the room. “Can you explain why your sister is Townsend’s alibi?”

“Bella?”

“No, Teresa.” Barba shoved a piece of paper at Sonny. “Why didn’t you investigate this?”

Sonny felt his confidence evaporate. “He said he was home alone all evening.”

“Apparently he wasn’t.” Barba scowled. “This will derail the entire case!”

Sonny pleaded with the prosecutor, “Let me check this out, I’ll get back to you this afternoon I promise.”

Rafael looked him directly in the eyes before he broke away. “I won’t hold my breath.”

Sonny felt the finality in Barba’s tone.

--

Teresa had never really held a permanent job, preferring the life of a kept woman. On the occasions where she held semi-permanent employment, Sonny usually found her working in the perfume department of Bergdorf Goodman. Luckily she was there, and Sonny watched as she flirted with a man who she was probably helping pick something special for his wife. He waited until she was done before heading over.

“Sonny,” she squealed. “Isn't this outside your usual budget?”

Sonny rolled his eyes. “Take a break.”

“Not now Sonny, I’m working.” She dismissed him before she flashed a flirty smile at another unsuspecting customer.

Sonny unclipped his badge and lifted it up so it was directly in her line of sight. “Call your manager and organize for someone to look after your counter.”

“Sally, I need to talk to this detective,” Teresa called out to a colleague.

A bored-looking brunette woman replied, “Isn't that your brother?”

“Official police business, Miss,” Sonny said, making sure she could clearly see his badge.

“Sure,” Sally muttered. “Whatever.”

Teresa gave Sonny an exasperated look before leading him over to what appeared to be a break room. Once they were both inside she turned round and snapped at Sonny, “What?”

Sonny drew in a deep breath. “Why has your name appeared as an alibi for a perp on a rape trial?”

“Alistair didn't rape anyone—” Teresa sounded more self righteous than she normally would.

Sonny felt himself deflate, already seeing where this was going. “Where did you meet him Teresa?”

“At the mall,” she said without missing a beat.

He continued to press. “And how long have you known him for?”

“Several months.” Teresa stared her brother down.

He changed tactics. “Since when do you sleep with sanitary workers?”

“What, no! Ew.”

Sonny couldn't help but wonder how much thought Teresa had put into agreeing to alibi Townsend. “What is D’Angelo giving you?”

Sonny watched as his sister’s face slowly turned pink. “Nothing,” she mumbled.

“He’s a scumbag, Teresa,” he groaned, exasperated at her naïvete.

“I thought you liked him,” she whined. “I thought I was doing you a favor.”

Sonny couldn't help the angry disbelief that crossed his face. “No, you were doing yourself a favour.” He paused and took a deep breath. “What has he promised you?”

“He’s going to introduce me to some of his wealthier clients.” Teresa went from pink to red.

Sonny couldn't help it, he snapped at his sister. “Teresa, is that really worth going to jail?”

“Jail?” she squeaked.

Sonny rolled his eyes. “Yes, if you perjure yourself on the witness stand and you are caught, which you will be, you will go to jail.”

“I don't want to go to jail,” Teresa moaned.

Sonny just shook his head and sighed. “You really didn't think this through, did you? Why are you like this?”

“I like nice things,” she whispered. “I’m not a bad person.”

Sonny moved towards her and placed a hand on her shoulder. “I know, but how much longer can you keep this up for?” He then drew her into a hug, and they stood there for a couple of moments until—

“Sonny.”

“Yeah?”

“I won't testify.”

--

For the second time that day, Sonny found himself knocking on Barba’s door. This time when he heard the familiar voice beckoning him inside he wasn’t excited, he was nervous. He slowly opened the door and shuffled inside.

“I’m assuming you have good news?” Barba sounded tired.

Sonny tried to sound more confident that he felt. “I convinced Teresa not to lie on the stand.”

“Oh, she was going to lie?” Barba didn’t even try to hide the disdain in his voice. “How much was D’Angelo going to pay her?”

Sonny sighed. “Nothing, he was going to introduce her to some of his wealthy clients.”

“Your sister is—”

“Just don’t go there, I’m not in the mood.”

“Fine,” Barba conceded. “Do you want to help me with these depositions?”

“Sure.” Sonny felt his mouth curl into a smile.

Barba poured them both a glass of scotch and soon they were reviewing and highlighting statements. One scotch became two and Sonny soon found himself staring at a loose curl in Barba’s near perfect hair.

“Please stop staring Carisi,” Barba muttered as he ran a highlighter across the page he was working on.

Sonny opened his mouth to apologize but then stood up and moved over to where Barba was sitting on the couch. He lowered himself next to the man and continued to let his gaze wander over the older man’s handsome features.

Barba put the highlighter down and turned so he was facing the detective. “Do I have something on my face, Detective?”

“No,” Sonny smiled before reaching over and grabbing Barba’s chin.

Barba’s tone was wary, though he didn’t attempt to pull away. “Carisi—”

“Please,” Sonny whispered before he leaned forward and pressed a chaste kiss onto the older man’s mouth.

He pulled away slightly, letting his breath ghost over Barba’s lips before kissing him again. When Sonny felt Barba’s hands snake around his waist and draw him closer, the detective felt emboldened. Sonny deepened the kiss, pushing his form against Barba’s. The detective felt Barba’s hands as they moved across the top of Sonny’s trousers and began to untuck his shirt.

The feel of Barba’s cool hands caused Sonny to jump and pull away, and Barba immediately stood up and moved away.

“I’m sorry,” Sonny said, standing as well and taking a step towards Barba. “I didn’t mean—”

“Just go, detective,” Barba nodded towards the door without looking at Sonny. “And next time, if you’re not interested in someone, don’t kiss them.”

Sonny opened his mouth to object but the attorney was already pouring himself another glass of scotch. Sonny grabbed his coat and slowly left the room.

Maybe next time Sonny would actually be able to tell Barba how he felt.

--

Since the kiss, Barba had been avoiding Sonny like the plague, and it had been driving the Detective insane. He knew Barba was meeting with D’Angelo today to discuss a plea and Sonny was hoping to catch Barba before he left for the day.

Unfortunately the wrong lawyer made his way down the stairs. “Detective Carisi,” D’Angelo smiled while extending his hand. “How can I help you?”

This time Sonny didn't shake the man's hand. “Stay away from my sister.”

“Teresa? I heard she won't be testifying.” D’Angelo smirked at the detective.

Sonny rolled his eyes. “I convinced her that perjuring herself was a bad idea.”

“And no one got hurt,” the defense attorney soothed, which just made Sonny more frustrated.

“That doesn't matter,” the detective snapped. “Don't go near her again.”

“Detective—”

Sonny cut the man off. “No, I know what kind of man you are D’Angelo.”

“And what kind of man is that?” D’Angelo seemed genuinely interested.

Sonny channelled Barba and scowled at him. “The kind who goes behind his friends’ backs to earn a bunch of money illegally and then gets angry when they report him. Oh and then lies about the entire thing to try and show off.”

“So you’ve spoken to Barba then?” D'Angelo asked. “He isn't one hundred percent objective.”

“I’ve also spoken to Rita,” Sonny said to shut him up.

D’Angelo took a step forward and sighed. “Look, I’m not a bad guy—”

“You’re a terrible guy.”

The lawyer was clearly amused rather than offended by Sonny’s comment. “I deserve that, I get it. I manipulated you to for my personal amusement and to piss Barba off. I’m sorry.”

“You’re not,” Sonny said with a frown.

“No, I’m not,” D’Angelo conceded. “But I am interested in your sister—”

“No.”

“—and would like to ask her out,” the attorney finished.

“Why?” Sonny asked, trying to conceal his amusement.

“She’s attractive, I’m attractive—”

Sonny rolled his eyes but took a step back and raised his hands in defeat. Teresa would eat the man alive anyway. “Teresa makes her own choices, ask her.”

“I will do that,” D’Angelo said with a nod before stepping away from the detective. “Oh and detective, you’ll be pleased to know my client will be taking a plea deal.”

“Good for them,” Sonny smiled.

“And Barba asked me to distract you so he could sneak out the back.” D’Angelo smirked. “Next time try and be more subtle.”

Sonny groaned before turning to leave the building himself. Since Barba had no interest in seeing him maybe it was time to let things go. He had promised Bella and Gina he would check on Teresa, be a responsible brother after cornering her at work. Annoying his sister’s was always a decent distraction, and Sonny’s hurting heart needed a distraction.

--

It had been a long time since Sonny had stepped inside the penthouse his older sister could barely afford. The apartment had been a gift from a former lover of hers and she had stuffed it with furniture bought with cards she could never pay off. He smiled at his sister when she let him in, and she rolled her eyes and stomped towards a overly large couch. She flung herself over it dramatically before propping her head up in her hands.

"So I assume you want me to thank you?" she moaned from her position on the couch. "Please sit down, you're making me feel short."

Sonny chuckled before he walked over to to the couch and sat down next to her. Teresa maneuvered herself so her head was resting in Sonny's lap. Bella did this all the time, but Sonny was not as close with Teresa and hadn’t expected it. She stared up at him with big blue eyes. "Go on, lay the guilt trip on me."

"For what?" A small smile graced his lips.

Teresa just looked at him as though he was purposefully being stupid. "For having to convince me not to testify for that low-brow lawyer."

"I didn't do anything." Sonny lifted a hand to stroke her forehead. "You made that choice."

"What else was I supposed to do?" she groaned louder.

Sonny's tone turned sarcastic. "Geez, I don't know. Not perjure yourself on the stand?"

"Well—"

"Teresa!" he huffed pushing her from his lap.

"Stop judging me," she cried out as she fell from the couch. "I didn't go through with it."

"I know." Sonny held up his hands in defeat. His tone turned quiet as he said, more to himself than to her, "Thank God for Barba."

Teresa, of course, heard. "Barba? That snob who ruined Bella's relationship?"

"He set things right again—" Sonny started.

Teresa cut him off. "He broke our baby sister's heart."

"He thought he was protecting his friend from being used for his money," he continued to protest.

"Bella would never do that—" His sister seemed eager to defend Bella over something she would have done herself.

Sonny continued to argue. "How could he have known that?" he countered.

"Why are you defending him?" She scowled at him.

"I—"

"Sonny..." Teresa's tone turned mischievous. "Do you have a crush on the mean lawyer?"

"Teresa—"

"Oh, you do!" Her laugh was gleeful.

"He's not so bad," Sonny said quietly. "He's let me shadow him even though it was an inconvenience. He helped me prevent you from testifying."

"Go on," she encouraged, eager to share gossip with her brother.

"He's incredibly dry," he began, a smile creeping slowly onto his face. "Witty, and he actually doesn't know how funny he really is."

"And he's handsome," Teresa sang slightly.

Sonny blushed easily at that. "That too."

"Why don't you ask him out?" she pressed.

Sonny felt his shoulders tense. "He asked me ages ago, I turned him down."

"Sonny!" Teresa swatted at him.

"That was before I realised he was actually decent." He laughed at her.

Teresa went quiet and a small smile graced her lips."Does he still like you?"

"I don't know," he whispered. “I kissed him the other day.”

“Did he kiss back?” she squealed.

“Yes but—”

Teresa laughed. “That’s good then isn’t it?”

“I reacted badly.” Sonny told her. He regretted the way the kiss had gone, and wished he could do it over.

Teresa sounded as confused as she looked. “But you kissed him?”

Sonny groaned. “It’s complicated.”

She reached out, grabbed her brother’s hand and squeezed it. "It doesn’t have to be, just ask him out."

"And what if he's not interested?" He was so scared the man would say no.

Teresa sighed with her entire body, knowing exactly what to say. “Sonny, It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a husband.”

“I’m pretty sure Austen said wife not husband,” Sonny chuckled, squeezing his big sister again.

“It’s the principle of the thing.” She squirmed out of his grip and turned to directly stare at him. “Now go get him.”

--

Sonny was determined — He was going to tell Barba that he had changed his mind, that he had meant the kiss, that he had grown to care for the other man.

But when Sonny had made his way to One Hogan Place and was standing outside the formidable building, his courage started to wane and he was tempted just to leave without saying anything.

Fate or Barba clearly had other plans, and shortly after Sonny had arrived, Barba exited the building and crossed the road.

"Barba," Sonny called out as he ran towards the prosecutor.

The man stopped and looked at Sonny, a small smirk gracing his face as he waited. Eventually Sonny caught up to Barba and let himself rest for a small moment.

"What can I do for you detective?" Barba appeared amused by the detective’s sudden chase.

Sonny quickly caught his breath before beginning, "I wanted to thank you." Barba cocked a single brow, clearly curious about what Sonny was there to say. Sonny felt the blush creep onto his face. "I can be stubborn and obnoxious at times—" He ignored Barba's scoff. "—but even I can be grateful, and I need to thank you for helping my sister. If everyone else knew they would also be grateful to you."

"It's fine, Carisi," Barba said with a smirk. "All in a day's work."

Sonny stepped towards Barba and continued. "Teresa can be exceptionally stupid when it comes to money and D'Angelo—"

"Please, Carisi, stop." Barba started to walk and indicated to Sonny to follow. "You and your family owe me nothing. And to be honest the only person I wanted to help was you."

"Barba..." Sonny raised his gaze to meet the prosecutor’s. "Rafael. As I've gotten to know you, I’ve started to like you, and I mean really like you. And look, I know I was rude to you before when we were in Chicago, but I was hoping...if your feelings haven't changed maybe we could get a drink together?"

Barba stopped suddenly as though he had been winded. And then a light appeared in his eyes, moving down his face as his mouth broke into a large smile. "I scarcely allowed myself hope," he said, sounding genuine, happy. "You're obnoxious, too loud, have a terrible sense of humor—"

"I think we've had this conversation before."

"—and even when you said no, I still had hope." Barba finished comfortably.

Sonny couldn't help the smile that broke across his own face."And?"

"And I would love to have a drink with you," Barba answered with a chuckle.

Sonny stepped forward. "Now?"

"You're certainly eager, Detective." Barba smirked. "Okay."

Sonny had to physically stop himself from jumping for joy. "Great. Forlini's?"

Barba nodded. "Lead the way."

As Sonny walked alongside Barba he could feel their shoulders bump against one another. He glanced at Barba who was glancing back, a small smile lifting his lips. Sonny reached out and grabbed Barba's hand, entwining their fingers together.

They were enwrapped in each other, too much to be thought, and felt, and said, and as they made their way to Forlini’s, Sonny finally let himself forget about his sisters, and D’Angelo, and anything but the feeling of Barba’s hand in his. The outside world could wait.