About a decade has passed when we catch up with the SVU team on Halloween Eve . . .
Amanda puts her key in the lock after a very long day at work. She is exhausted just thinking about how much more of the day is still left – it is Halloween night after all.
As she pushes open her front door she hears little girls squealing in delight and the strumming of a guitar coming from back near the master bedroom. She sets her stuff down on the table and looks around, remembering the days when she had no one but Frannie, who would always greet her excitedly at the door after a long day of work. She smiles at the memory. But that was many years ago. Now she has two daughters – and him.
More peals of laughter grab her attention and she decides to check out what's going on. As she winds her way back to the master bedroom and into the bathroom she catches a bit of the verse he's singing.
"What ever happened to my Transylvania Twist?" he sings with a lisp, perfectly matching the original song.
She hears her two girls cry out in response, "It's now the mash!"
"It's now the monster mash!" he sings back.
As she steps in the two are wriggling away, attempting to do "the mash." And him? Well, he's lying in the bathtub, fully dressed.
"What are you doing?" she asks, trying not to laugh too hard.
"Rollins, this is how I relax. Singing traditional Halloween songs to our girls."
"It's Carisi now," she corrects him.
"You'll always be Rollins to me," he says and gives the guitar a dramatic twang.
She gives him a sweet smile and then bends down to her daughters. "Okay girls, we don't have a lot of time. Can you help each other put your costumes on?"
"Awww!" they both whine. They're having too much fun.
Sonny starts up with the guitar again.
"I told the witch doctor you didn't love me true. I told the witch doctor you didn't love me nice."
She tilts her head at him and gives him a wry smile as he continues.
"And then the witch doctor, he gave me this advice . . . "
At that point both Dominique and Jesse start belting out the chorus to Witch Doctor, doing their best to sound like chipmunks.
"You've taught them well, I see," Amanda says and can't restrain a giggle.
When they are done singing the chorus he steps out of the tub and helps Amanda shuffle them out of the room so that they can all get ready.
"You look terrible in that," she says to him once the girls are out the door.
"What, this shirt? I thought you liked this shirt." He points to the lavender striped dress shirt he's wearing.
She grabs him by his purple tie, taking him by surprise, and then walks her fingers up it slowly.
"Hey now," he says duskily. "You sure you wanna do that with the girls around?"
"It won't be a problem," she muses.
"Why not?" he asks, perplexed.
Her fingers walk up his neck and chin. He takes in a breath.
"Because of this."
They land on his upper lip.
"This ain't so hot."
"Hey!" he says in defense of his newly sprouted mustache. "I grew this just for tonight."
"I know you did. You wanted to 'bring realism' to your costume."
"Doesn't mean it's sexy."
"Aw, come on, back in the day you loved my 'stache!"
"No one loved your 'stache," she says firmly.
Suddenly they hear a screaming match break out down the hallway.
"Stop that! Why do you have to be so weird? It's embarrassing."
"You always wear the same lame costumes every year. You're always some dumb princess. At least I'm not like you!"
Amanda and Sonny give each other a look.
"Well, you gave birth to them – they're your monstrosities," he jokes.
"Like you weren't involved," she answers drily. "At all."
He grins, shrugs, and then rubs his hands together. "Okay, let's do this. I'll take the redhead."
He heads into the hallway, Amanda right behind him, "Girls! Girls! Break it up."
"But she – "
"Ah!" Sonny puts up a stern finger in warning. "Jesse, you come with me."
"Dominique," Amanda bends down to her youngest daughter. "Let's go have a little talk."
They separate their daughters, taking each of them into their own rooms.
"Okay, so what was that all about, Jesse?" Sonny asks the redhead who has slumped down grumpily on her bed.
She crosses her arms and looks up at him with a look of disgust, "Dad, please. Dominique? She's embarrassing."
"Why are you saying that? She's your sister."
"Because. Look at her."
Sonny shakes his head and spreads his arms in a gesture of 'what?'
"She's a freak!"
"Your sister is not a freak. She's just different."
"Different. Freak. It's the same thing."
"No, it's not."
"You wouldn't understand. You're not a girl."
"I don't need to be a girl to understand that you're trying to ostracize someone because they are different. That's not right Jesse, and you know better."
"But Noah – " Jesse stops herself before she says too much.
"Noah what?" her father demands.
"He's going to be there tonight," she says almost anxiously.
"So he's not going to understand Dominique's 'costume,' or whatever it is. I mean, she's got on a leotard, tap shoes, and a top hat. Okay, that's fine. But she doesn't stop there. She never stops there. She always comes in with the weird. A glittery butterfly mask, atennae, wings, and a fairy wand? What the heck is she even trying to be?"
"A glitter bug," Sonny says simply.
"A 'glitter bug'?"Jesse says sarcastically. "Do you even know what that is?"
"It's not even a thing. She made it up! See?"
"I really don't get what the big deal is."
"Noah – "
"Oh." It finally dawns on Sonny what is really going here. And he doesn't like it. Not one bit.
"Look Jesse, you're too young to be liking boy– "
"I don't like him!" Jesse practically screeches, her face flaming a deeper red than her hair. She looks away, mortified. She doesn't want her dad to know about Noah.
Sonny crosses his arms, wondering what to say next. He ends up just finishing with a 'you'd better not' and leaves the room.
Amanda is sitting with Dominique in her room, stroking her younger daughter's hair as she cries. "I'm always embarrassing Jesse, Mommy. I don't mean to. I don't know why she doesn't like me anymore."
"She loves you sweetie, it's just that big sisters can reach an age where they want to impress friends of their own age. When that happens they don't want their little sisters hanging around. It's not that she doesn't love you anymore, okay? Trust me, it will pass. When you two are older you'll be friends again. You'll see."
"But she's making fun of my costume right now. Which isn't fair because hers is so lame!"
Despite herself Amanda chuckles.
"It is!" Dominique protests. "I mean, she is ALWAYS a red-haired princess! Always. She's Ariel yet again this year. She doesn't even know how to be creative, unique."
"Dominique, I think there's more to that than you realize."
Dominique looks up at her mom quizzically.
"Have you ever noticed that she's the only redhead in the family?"
Dominique thinks about that. "Well, sure . . . "
"And you know why, right?"
"Yeah, because Daddy isn't really her daddy."
"And you know that can be hard on her, right?"
"Yeah, I suppose."
"Her father is a redhead himself, remember? That's where she gets it from." Amanda pauses, trying to form her words in a way that Dominique can relate to. "And I think she wants to be a red-haired princess every Halloween because it makes her feel like she belongs. That there are others out there just like her. Like her and her daddy. Different from us. Do you understand?"
"I think so," Dominique says solemnly. "I didn't mean to make her feel left out."
"I know you didn't, honey," Amanda hugs her. "None of us do. But it can still happen."
"How about that blue bow tie?"
"Are you serious?" Barba asks. "First you convince me to wear these red pants with my yellow shirt and now you think a blue bow tie will finish it off the best?"
"Humor me. Oh, and don't forget the suspenders."
He shakes his head, "Liv, there's a reason you didn't go in to fashion."
She chuckles. "You'll look great, don't sweat it."
"Well, I do like these pants. See? My socks match the stripe up the side." He turns his leg towards her and lifts up the hem.
"I can see that," Olivia answers, only allowing herself to look slightly amused. Knowing what Carisi has in store for him though it's very hard to keep a straight face. But she's doing her part . . .
"Oh god, they're playing peek-a-boo again!" Jesse complains and rolls her eyes.
"I think it's funny," Dominique says, giggling.
"Come on Amanda, show me what you've got," Sonny bellows, hiding behind a pillar in the living room. "You gotta go first."
"No you," Amanda protests, peeking around a corner.
"You'll be disappointed."
"I won't. I swear."
"Okay," she sighs. "You know not what you ask."
She steps into the living room, dressed in all black with no other adornment.
Sonny is disappointed. "That's it? That's all you got?"
"Hey, you said you wouldn't be disappointed!"
"I lied. You call that a costume?"
"Hey, it's 'goth-lite.' And that's all you're going to get out of me tonight, so get used to it."
Jesse giggles and bumps into Dominique's shoulder. Then she whispers into her ear, "I don't think Mommy knows what that means."
Dominique laughs back.
"Okay, let's see what you've got, Sonny."
He steps from behind the pillar and puts himself on full display.
"Wow! You look so old daddy," Dominique says in awe. Jesse bumps her shoulder again.
"Oh my god, you really outdid yourself, Hon. You look great!" Amanda exclaims and comes over to check out her husband's 'Geppetto.'
"You notice I didn't gel my hair today and it just kinda did this?" he points to the unruly waves on the top of his head.
"Yeah, and it's perfect." She laughs, brushing over it with her hand. "You didn't have to use too much talcum powder either. Your hair's so white already."
He snorts. "Thanks. Nice way to slip in 'you already look like an old man,' Amanda."
"Nah, that's not what I meant." She waves her hand dismissively.
The doorbell rings.
"It's them!" Jesse exclaims.
"Now where are those glasses . . . ?" Sonny mutters as he looks around, finds a pair of square framed glasses, and slips them onto his nose to complete his look.
Amanda opens the door to find Olivia, Barba, and Noah. "Hi guys! Come on in."
Jesse smiles shyly at Noah, but can't help but retreat further back into the room, hoping she looks pretty in her princess costume. He's in middle school now. She wants to impress him.
"Hi Jesse," he says, waving casually.
"Hi," she responds quietly, blushing.
But the adults are too busy to notice this little exchange.
"Geppetto? Interesting choice, Carisi," Barba says sarcastically.
"Yeah, I know," Amanda grins with glee. "I've had to ask him to refrain from planing his wood."
The adults have a good-hearted laugh while Noah blushes. They've forgotten he's old enough now to understand those kind of jokes. Jesse isn't though, so she wonders why he's turning red.
"Mr. Judge?" Dominique tugs on Barba's jacket to get his attention.
"My daddy asked me to give this to you." She opens her hand, revealing a small piece of wood.
"From his workshop?" he asks, playing along.
He takes it into his hands to inspect it. "Now what is this?"
Olivia laughs good naturedly, takes it from his hand, and says, "It's this."
The next thing he knows the piece of wood is on his face. It's a long wooden nose.
"Pinocchio?" he exclaims. "You have GOT to be kidding me! I'm not wearing that."
"Would you wear this?" Amanda asks, whipping out a Bavarian-style hat.
Barba sputters as Sonny guffaws.
"And with that, I'm off," Olivia declares.
"Wait? Where are you going?" Barba asks her, shaking his head, completely lost.
"I've got that function at 1PP."
"Do you need a date?" he asks her in desperation.
"No, I'm fine," she says and takes Noah's arm. "Besides, you've got a play date with Noah right here."
Noah smiles up at Barba in admiration and he looks down stiffly at the boy. He still appears to be uncomfortable with the kid that's been in his life for more than a decade now.
"Liv, you can't just . . ."
"Bye!" Olivia waves at everyone and heads out.
"Look - you're my creation!" Sonny exclaims and claps Barba on the back as Amanda puts the hat on his head.
"I think rather I created YOU, Carisi."
"You've got a point there. I learned a lot from you," Sonny replies seriously.
But then he snickers, shaking his head. "I sure did learn a lot – like to insist that my new office ALSO has a sink in it when I become a judge. What's with that, huh? What?"
"Hey, you're the one who has the constitution on his mug."
"It's my bible," Sonny says and shrugs.
"Figures," Barba practically snarls.
"We'll make you into a real boy, yet." Sonny just smiles back at him.
Jesse notices that Noah has been glaring at her dad for this entire exchange and looks at him, perplexed. When he looks back at her he just shakes his head and looks down.
Barba is standing at the fence, Noah beside him, when out of the blue Fin Tutuola shows up, surprising him. "Fin, you're here?"
"Yeah, my grandson is just finishing up his game. We're gonna to head back to my son's place soon. Whatcha guys doing here?"
Barba just points out at the field in front of them. Amanda and Sonny Carisi are frantically rolling a pumpkin back and forth between them. Their girls are right beside them doing the same thing.
"Damn," Fin whistles. "Those two are crazy competitive."
"Yeah," Barba muses. "It's what makes Carisi such a fierce prosecutor. All that dogged determination. But I never thought Amanda had that same fire in her."
"Well, then you don't know her very well," Fin chuckles.
Out in the distance Amanda and Sonny can be heard cheering. They've just won the pumpkin rolling contest and are now wrapped up in a big Carisi family hug with their two daughters. Then Amanda can be heard saying 'bring it on' as she and Sonny commence yet another game, this time tossing a pumpkin back and forth between them.
"Hey, why aren't you out there playing any of the pumpkin games?" Fin asks Noah.
"Raf and I are too cool for that," Noah says in all seriousness.
"Too cool, huh?" Fin gives Barba a faint smile, leans in and says quietly, "This one looks up to you."
Sonny and Amanda win again and cheer excitedly before they head back towards Barba and Noah, their daughters in tow. Fin's grandson has just joined them.
"Hey, how'd we do?" Sonny asks Barba and Fin. "Pretty good, eh?"
"Surprisingly good," Barba answers.
Sonny gives him a wry smile.
"The Judge here didn't think Amanda had it in her," Fin says, looking over at Amanda who has stopped to help Dominique adjust a part of her costume that had been falling off.
"Oh really?" Sonny asks.
"He doesn't know how fierce your wife can be." Fin bends down to his grandson and points to Amanda. "See that lady over there?"
He nods back in all seriousness. "Yeah, I know her."
"You never want to sass her." Fin smiles up at Sonny as Amanda starts heading towards them again with Dominique at her side. "You remember what happened last time I did, don't you Carisi?"
"Oh, yeah. Bad times." Sonny laughs and waits for Amanda to be within hearing range. "Only I get to sass her. Anytime I want."
"Sass who?" she asks.
"You," Sonny replies.
"Oh, you never get to do that," she says mockingly.
"Okay," he says in doubtfully, shrugs, and turns towards Barba. "I think maybe only the Judge here can handle my sass."
"Please," Barba says and rolls his eyes.
"With all my sass, I'll make you into a real boy yet!" Sonny jibes.
"What, don't you want to be a real boy someday?"
That's it. Noah has had it.
"Mr. Carisi knock it off!"
Both Barba and Sonny turn towards Noah, stunned.
"Raf IS a real person. Just 'cause he could work on his social skills a bit and not be such a grump all the time doesn't mean he's not a good guy," Noah says firmly.
He crosses his arms and looks at Sonny fiercely, daring him to challenge what he's said.
After a bit of stunned silence Sonny says, "Uh . . . I never said the Judge here was a bad guy, Noah. I was just giving him a hard time – "
"Stop doing that. It isn't nice."
"Okay then," Barba interrupts, feeling quite awkward. He turns towards Noah and says with as much warmth as he can comfortably express, "Thank you, little man."
A brilliant smile lights up Noah's face and he claps Barba's shoulder, "Anytime, bro."
Then he scampers off to join Jesse and Dominique.
"'Anytime, bro'?" Barba turns towards Sonny, a stunned look on his face.
Sonny just shrugs back at him and smiles, trying not to laugh at how dumbfounded Barba looks.
The Carisis, Barba, and Noah are out trick-or-treating now that they've left the pumpkin games behind. Noah and Jesse are out well in front of the adults while Dominique stays close to her mom.
Noah asks Jesse, "So why do you have a different last name than the rest of your family?"
Jesse takes in a deep breath. "Daddy adopted me when he married mom. But he's not my real dad and my real dad didn't want me to take his name."
"Have you met your real dad?"
"Yeah, I have."
"What's he like?" Noah asks and then continues excitedly, "I bet he has red hair just like you!"
Jesse smiles wide and her heart flutters a bit. "Yeah, he does. How did you know that?"
"Just a guess," Noah says with a twinkle in his eye.
"You're really lucky, you know. You actually look like your mom. The brown hair and all. I'm just a freak."
"No, no you're not. Don't say that," Noah says. He's not sure if he should say what pops into his to mind just then, but nervously he does anyway. "I think your red hair is pretty."
"They're walking too close together," Sonny complains, watching Noah and Jesse carefully.
"Will you give it a rest?" Amanda says.
"She's too young."
"She is NOT too young. Besides, they're just friends."
Sonny harrumphs. "Yeah, like you and I were just friends."
Amanda rolls her eyes at him.
"You've got nothing to worry about with Noah," Barba says to Sonny.
"With all due respect Judge, please stay out – "
"Carisi, listen to me," Barba stops walking and stops Sonny too, putting his hand on his shoulder. Firmly he says, "Noah's a good kid."
"She's my daughter . . . "
"I know. And I'll say it again. Noah is a good kid. Leave them be."
Sonny looks down and scratches the back of his head. Faint traces of white powder fall from his hand as he removes it. He looks back up at Barba and nods. "Okay."
"Good man," Barba pats him on the back and they continue walking.
"So do you know anything about your parents?" Jesse asks Noah carefully. She knows he's adopted but has never been told much more than that.
"Yes, my mom was a prostitute and my dad was the one who made her into one. He's dead now, though. Bastard."
Jesse looks at him at bit startled. He's just so casual about it all. Noah can tell that his tone shocks her, so he rushes forward to explain.
"My mom tells me the truth. Everything. She's never held back." He sighs a bit. "Sometimes it's hard to think about what happened to my real mom. But still, I'm glad I know."
"What happened to your mom?" Jesse asks.
"Well. . . " he pauses a bit. "She was set on fire. Burned to death. Stupid pimps."
"Oh, Noah. I'm so sorry."
"It's okay," he says. "I wish she was still here so I could get to know her, but she's not. I only know what Mom tells me. But at least I have that – at least she actually knew her and can tell me what she was like. So I can be close to her that way."
They walk some more in silence for a bit.
"Noah, you know what?"
"Remember you asked me about my dad?"
"Well the reason I don't see him very often is because he works under cover. All over the world."
"Yeah. Helping people like your mom."
Noah smiles at her funny.
"He rescues them from those terrible situations. Gets them out. Gives them a chance at a better life."
"That's so cool."
"Yeah," Jesse says wistfully.
He stops walking and she turns to face him. With a shaking hand Noah reaches out and takes one of hers. They smile at each other, their hearts racing at the newness of it all.
Then they turn and head down the lane again, trick-or-treating. Noah continues to hold Jesse's hand, and doesn't let go for the rest of the night.
This piece was inspired by the following Instagram posts from NBCSVU, Peter Scanavino, & Kelli Giddish:
A video posted by Peter Scanavino (@peterscanavino) on Oct 28, 2016 at 10:38am PDT
A photo posted by Law & Order: SVU (@nbcsvu) on Oct 26, 2016 at 2:32pm PDT
A photo posted by Law & Order: SVU (@nbcsvu) on Oct 26, 2016 at 12:07pm PDT
A video posted by Law & Order: SVU (@nbcsvu) on Oct 26, 2016 at 10:26am PDT
A video posted by Law & Order: SVU (@nbcsvu) on Oct 26, 2016 at 3:07pm PDT
A video posted by Law & Order: SVU (@nbcsvu) on Oct 27, 2016 at 9:46am PDT
A video posted by Kelli Giddish (@kelligiddish) on Oct 12, 2016 at 4:18pm PDT
A video posted by Law & Order: SVU (@nbcsvu) on Oct 26, 2016 at 4:06pm PDT
A video posted by Law & Order: SVU (@nbcsvu) on Oct 12, 2016 at 1:05pm PDT