“You have to come, Rafael. Carisi’s cooking.”
Sonny overheard the Lieutenant’s phone call from across the aisle. They were on their way to Amanda’s, and they had stopped to pick up groceries for their little impromptu family dinner. Sonny had been feeling pretty excited about it, about cooking for everybody, until that very moment.
“You’re just saying this ‘cause you haven’t had his cooking, Barba. Come on.”
Sonny could only imagine what Barba had said.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. Sonny was only supposed to cook for Amanda, and the Lieutenant, and Fin. People who were positively predisposed toward him. People who would enjoy his cooking, who had enjoyed his cooking on multiple occasions. People who were nice to him. People who wouldn’t judge him for using too much parmesan.
Barba wasn’t supposed to be there. That changed everything. Sonny was going to make something simple. Something a heavily pregnant woman wouldn’t have any issues with. A crowd pleaser. Something quick, because he didn’t want to overstep, he didn’t want to take over Amanda’s kitchen for too long.
But if Barba was coming? Sonny would have to reconsider. The Lieutenant had just built up his cooking, too. Sonny didn’t want to disappoint the counselor. Maybe he should make something more elaborate, more impressive.
Sonny was always trying to impress Barba. Even with his cooking skills, apparently.
“OK, Barba’s coming too, Carisi. It took a lot of convincing, though. You better wow him, otherwise he’ll never come to our little family dinners again.”
They got to Amanda’s apartment, where Sonny was distracted by the sheer size of Amanda’s belly, though he refrained from commenting on that out loud. Fin didn’t even have to stop him, this time.
Sonny was also distracted by setting everything up, by prepping the ingredients, by having Fin next to him, having a beer and shooting the breeze as he cooked. By overhearing bits and pieces of Amanda and Liv’s conversation, from the next room.
Until the doorbell rang.
Fin gave Sonny a look that clearly said, “I’m not getting that.”
And then Fin actually said, “I’m not getting that.”
Sonny, still in an apron, and he couldn’t believe Amanda even owned an apron, by the way, went to get the door.
Barba had arrived. And he was in jeans, and in a casual jacket, and in what looked like an expensive shirt, and he looked so good, and Sonny was wearing a friggin’ apron. Of course.
“Counselor, hi. Um. Dinner should be ready in, like, 10 minutes. Make yourself at home.”
Barba raised an eyebrow, probably at Sonny’s attire, and he followed Sonny into the kitchen. Sonny figured the counselor wanted to inspect the area, to assess his culinary skills. Indeed, Barba checked on Sonny’s pasta sauce. Sonny felt stupid for being nervous.
Never once losing his sneer, Barba said, “This smells great.”
Sonny considered that a win.
~ ~ ~
Dinner was fun. Amanda was still on bed rest, and Sonny tried to bring her dinner in bed, basically, but she said, “I can walk 10 feet to my kitchen table, Carisi. I won’t break.”
She got up on her own, and Sonny knew she didn’t need much help walking to the kitchen, but he still extended an elbow, and Amanda still took it. It wasn’t always about needing help. Sometimes it was about knowing you have people who want to help you.
They all sat in Amanda’s kitchen, Fin pitching in by setting the table, since he knew where everything was, and they all dug in.
Sonny would be lying if he said he wasn’t watching Barba like a hawk, waiting for Barba to take that first bite, waiting to see if the counselor found his cooking passable, at least.
Sonny would also be lying if he said he didn’t internally flip out when Barba practically moaned after tasting his dish.
“Mm. You weren’t lying, Liv. Carisi can cook. My compliments, detective.”
Whoa. Barba hadn’t only enjoyed Sonny’s cooking. He had verbally expressed his approval.
“You never should’ve doubted me, counselor.”
“Or me,” said Olivia pointedly, and Barba smiled.
Barba rarely smiled. Sonny considered that a win too.
~ ~ ~
When it came time for everyone to leave, to let Amanda rest, it became obvious that Benson, Fin and Carisi taking one car up to her place hadn’t been the best idea. As they all stood around on the sidewalk, Barba watching them with a smirk, like he always did, Sonny figured he’d take himself out of the equation.
“Don’t worry about it, Lieutenant, I’ll just take the subway.”
“No, come on, Carisi. Rafael, why don’t you drive him home?”
As grateful as Sonny was that Benson was unwittingly doing him a solid, he almost didn’t want to look. He didn’t want to see Barba’s reaction.
“I suppose that’s the least I can do after that dinner. Come on, Carisi. I’ll drive you.”
Sonny tried not to visibly react as they all said their goodbyes, as he followed Barba to his car.
And then, after they had both gotten in the car, Sonny tried not to say something dumb.
Which basically meant that Sonny stayed quiet for, like, 5 full minutes. Staring straight ahead, too. Not daring to even glance at Barba. Not wanting to give himself away.
“Where did you learn to cook like that?”
Sonny narrowed his eyes. Was that a line? Or was Barba just making awkward conversation, because Sonny himself was incapable of making small talk, apparently? Yeah, it was probably the latter.
“My mom. She’s a pretty amazing cook. And none of my sisters ever showed any interest in cooking, so I just absorbed all her wisdom, I guess. Plus, I also get dibs on all her recipes.”
Barba smiled again.
“I wish I had time to cook. This was nice of you, by the way. Tonight. Cooking for Rollins. I hear you do that a lot. Cooking for the squad. That’s… nice.”
Another compliment? Was Sonny dreaming?
“I’m always trying to feed people, I guess. I don’t know why. Thanks, though. It was my pleasure.”
“I’m pretty sure the pleasure was all mine, Carisi. That sauce was delicious.”
This time it was Sonny who smiled.
“Good to hear it, counselor. Um. That’s me. That building over there.”
Sonny could have sworn that Barba looked disappointed as he parked the car. Sonny was disappointed too. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d spend so much time with Barba without even a hint of an insult.
“So, the Lieutenant said that, if you didn’t like my cooking, you’d never show up again for our family dinners. I hope I didn’t disappoint. You’ll come again, right? We’ll miss you if you don’t. What do you like? I’ll make something specially for you next time.”
Not desperate at all. Good job, Sonny.
Barba gave him a long look.
Sonny waited, but Barba didn’t speak.
The more Barba stayed silent, the more uncomfortable Sonny got, so he figured he’d break the tension the easy way. By leaving.
“Alright, thanks for the ride, couns–”
“Carisi, do you know that Liv invited me tonight because I asked her to?”
“I asked her to call me, next time you made one of your dinners.”
“Oh. Cause you heard about my cooking? You should’ve asked, I’d have mad–”
“And do you know that she asked me to drive you home on purpose?”
Sonny gaped. And he was pretty sure he blushed, too.
“Uh. Why?” he asked, not making eye contact.
“Because, and I quote, ‘this kid has a massive crush on you, Rafael. It’s sad.’”
Sonny seriously considered running out of Barba’s car. This wasn’t happening.
He wasn’t about to get mocked by Barba for his feelings. He wasn’t. He wasn’t going to let that happen. Sonny would just apologize, curtly, and then he’d run up to his apartment and break out the scotch. He just hoped Barba would agree to forget about the whole thing.
“Oh. I’m sorry. I didn’t… I didn’t know I was that obvious. I’m sorry. I hope we can put this behind us. I hope I haven’t made y–”
“It’s sad that he has no clue that the feeling is mutual. Is what Olivia said. You should tell him, she said. It’d make all our lives easier if you stopped pulling Carisi’s pigtails and admitted you’re attracted to him too. Those were Olivia’s exact words, I believe.”
Sonny’s head snapped up.
Barba was smiling.
“Come on, Carisi. Why do you think I’m always being so hard on you?”
“I don’t know, because you’re an asshole?”
Barba grinned. He actually grinned.
“Well, there’s that, too.”
Sonny grinned right back, as Barba leaned in. Closer.
This was happening.
Barba kissed Sonny, and he wasted no time in deepening the kiss, and Sonny tried, very hard, to keep up. Sonny tried to impress Barba with his kissing skills, too. Everything seemed like a test, whenever Sonny was with Barba. Sonny knew that was kind of messed up, he knew it shouldn’t feel good, except it kind of did. Sonny always did like getting praise for being a good boy.
Sonny thought he was doing a pretty good job, going by Barba’s reactions, by Barba’s gentle hums, so he put his arms around Barba’s neck and he started getting even more creative with his tongue.
Barba clearly appreciated that, so Sonny kept going, until Barba chose to put one of his impossibly large hands on Sonny’s inner thigh, at which point Sonny just gave up. He just sat there, and he let Barba kiss him, fondle him. Sonny just hoped he wasn’t moaning too loudly, because that would be embarrassing.
Several minutes later, Barba pulled away. Sonny barely managed not to pinch himself.
Barba was smiling again. There was fondness in his eyes, a fondness Sonny had noticed before, but which he had attributed to wishful thinking.
Barba liked him. ‘The feeling was mutual’. The ‘massive crush’ was mutual.
All this anxiety, for nothing. All of Sonny’s insecurities, unfounded.
“If I’d known that all it was gonna take was a home cooked meal, I’d have made you dinner a year ago, counselor.”
Sonny tried to smirk at his own joke, but Barba moved his hand higher, where Sonny was visibly hard, and he squeezed, and Sonny gave up again. And this time he did moan very loudly.
Unlike Sonny, Barba successfully managed to smirk.
“Well, you can make up for that inexcusable delay by making me breakfast tomorrow.”