Carisi stood in the far corner of the room, his arms crossed tightly in front of his chest. Every muscle in his body radiated tension, and his eyes flickered to the door and away again as it opened. “Det. Carisi?” the man who entered asked, his voice calm, almost on the side of soothing. “My name is George Huang, and I’m—”
“I know who you are,” Carisi interrupted. “You’re the psychologist who kept Lewis Hodda out of jail.”
Huang inclined his head as he took a seat at the table. “Lewis Hodda is currently serving time for the abduction of Wyatt Morris,” he said calmly. “If anything, I only delayed the inevitable.”
Carisi jerked an irritated shrug. “Tomato, to-mah-to.” For a moment, he looked like he wanted to say something more but settled for asking, “Do I call you doctor?”
“Whatever you want,” Huang said comfortably. “You can call me George. Or Huang. I know how SVU loves to use people’s surnames.” He looked at Carisi for a long moment before asking, “What happened to your hand?”
Carisi looked down at his hand, almost as if surprised that Huang had noticed, though it’d be hard not to. Carisi’s knuckles were bruised and swollen, and looked downright painful. Carisi flexed his hand and shrugged again. “I punched my locker,” he said dismissively.
“Your locker?” Huang repeated.
“You punched it.”
Carisi looked at Huang like he was an idiot. “That’s what I said.”
Huang nodded slowly. “Let me tell you why I’m here,” he said. “Lt. Benson got in touch with me after IAB—”
“I’m a detective,” Carisi interrupted, moving toward the table for the first time. “I have a law degree. I’m not an idiot, and I know exactly why you’re here.” He fixed Huang with a suspicious stare. “Did you imagine that you would just walk into this room without me realizing why you’re here?”
“That depends,” Huang said evenly.
Carisi’s expression shifted slightly. “On what?”
“On why you think I’m here.” Carisi blinked, and slowly shook his head, though he didn’t answer. Huang sighed and gestured toward the seat across the table from him. “Look, we got off to a bad start.”
Carisi huffed something in between a sigh and a laugh and slumped into the seat across from him, drawing his uninjured hand across his face. “Yeah, we did,” he agreed. “Do you, uh, do you want to start again?”
Huang shrugged. “Are you going to lie to me this time?”
“Haven’t yet,” Carisi said, his brow furrowing.
“Really?” Huang asked, his voice neutral. “How’d you hurt your hand?” Carisi blinked but didn’t answer, instead looking away and crossing his arms in front of his chest again. Huang leaned forward. “I asked Det. Rollins for coffee a few minutes ago. You want some?” Carisi shook his head. “Tea? Water?”
Carisi looked over at him. “My prints and DNA are already in the system, so it’s not like you need to try and force a sample.”
Huang laughed lightly. “I wasn’t, but I’ll keep that in mind.” He looked carefully at Carisi. “You work closely with Det. Rollins.”
It wasn’t a question, but Carisi nodded anyway. “Yeah, Amanda and me — we’re partners.”
“Did she work with you on the Nichols case?”
Carisi looked taken aback by the question. “No, uh, she was off work. Mandatory time off because of too much overtime.” He snorted. “We’ve all had to do that recently — we’re short-staffed, you know?”
Huang nodded. “So who did work with you?”
Carisi shrugged. “Everybody else, I guess.”
Carisi rolled his eyes but obliged the question. “I mean, I can’t give you the names of every patrol cop involved in the investigation,” he said dryly, “but the Lieu, Fin, and — and Barba. They were all involved in the investigation.”
If Huang had noticed the way Carisi said Barba’s name, he didn’t comment on it, just nodding in response. “So what happened three weeks ago?”
Carisi stared at him blankly. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Huang shrugged. “I don’t know what I’m talking about either, but some of the people you work with became concerned with your behavior about three weeks ago.”
Though Carisi barked a laugh, it was dry and humorless. “Funny,” he muttered. “I’ve been concerned with their behavior since way before that.” He paused, his expression twisting slightly. “They’re talking about West Virginia.”
Carisi waved a dismissive hand. “Rollins and I had to make a trip to West Virginia to apprehend a perp in this catfishing case.”
“Ok,” Huang said. “So what about West Virginia?”
“I don’t know.”
Huang glanced at him. “You said they were talking about West Virginia.”
“I said they may have been.”
There was a defensive edge to Carisi’s voice, but Huang didn’t drop the topic. “Well, that’s not what you said.”
“There was a lot going on.” Carisi still sounded defensive, his voice rising slightly as he stared at Huang, who met his gaze evenly. “We were in the middle of a case, it was Thanksgiving, there wasn’t a whole lotta evidence to go on—”
“But you mentioned West Virginia.”
Carisi rolled his eyes. “Not for any special reason,” he said dismissively. “I’m just saying there was a lot going on three weeks ago.”
Huang leaned forward. “Ok,” he said. “Then let’s talk about three weeks ago. What happened in West Virginia?” Carisi shrugged, but Huang pressed, “Three weeks ago. West Virginia.”
“For the fourth time,” Carisi snapped, “there was a lot going on then and I’m not sure why we’re fixated—”
“And I’m not sure why you don’t want to answer the question.”
Carisi paused, and a slight blush rose in his cheeks. He looked away and took a deep breath. “I tried to kiss Amanda, ok?” he asked quietly.
Huang’s expression didn’t change. “You tried to kiss Det. Rollins in West Virginia?”
Carisi shrugged stiffly. “I mean, we were...we were stuck outta town, we’d had a few drinks, got in this bar fight, and uh, it just, uh…” He trailed off and shrugged again. “It just seemed like something I wanted to do. At the time.”
“At the time?”
Even though Huang kept his tone neutral, Carisi still flinched at the question. “I mean, I don’t exactly make it a habit of trying to kiss my coworkers,” he muttered. “And Amanda...I respect Amanda. She’s good people. She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s a great mom and a great detective and…And it was a mistake.”
Huang nodded slowly. “So you made a mistake,” he said. “And you got back to New York, and I imagine things were awkward?”
Carisi frowned. “Yeah, I guess,” he said, almost reluctantly.
“And how soon after that did you get the Nichols case?”
Carisi blinked up at him, his brow furrowed. “The two weren’t — aren’t related,” he said, sounding surprised, and a little confused. Huang just looked at him and Carisi scowled down at the table. “It was about a week and a half ago, after everything with the Lieu’s son wrapped up.” He glanced at Huang. “You heard about that?”
Huang nodded. “I did,” he said lightly. “But I’m not interested in talking about Noah.”
“Yeah, well, I’m not interested in talking about any of this,” Carisi sniped. He sighed and gave Huang a look. “I’m sorry if this question sounds rude, but how long are we gonna be here today?”
“I’m sorry if this answer sounds rude, but as long as I want.” Huang’s voice was even, pleasant even, but banded with steel. “I was asked here by Olivia and IAB—”
“I know who asked you here,” Carisi interrupted, but this time he didn’t sound angry, or defensive.
“Tell me about the Nichols case,” Huang said quietly.
Carisi sat back in his chair, his entire demeanor shifting, his shoulders and back straightening, his expression turning neutral, almost as if he was assuming the position of testifying in court. “A complaint was kicked to SVU from a local precinct — a mom who said her son was being molested by the parish priest.”
“That had to hit close to home,” Huang remarked. Carisi looked at him sharply and Huang quickly elaborated, “I mean, you’re Catholic, right?”
Though Carisi nodded, he couldn’t quite seem to force his expression to even out and he took a deep breath before continuing. “Anyway, we were given the usual run around by the church and the senior priest at the parish — Msgr. Nichols — was particularly unhelpful…”
He trailed off and Huang nodded slowly. “You met with the monsignor early on in the case?” he asked.
“Sorry?” Carisi asked.
“Was that the first time you met with Msgr. Nichols?” Huang asked, rephrasing the question.
Carisi looked startled as he shook his head. “No. Uh, no. I was, uh, I was given a different assignment. Looking into the history of the priest that had been accused, Fr. McKenzie.”
“What were you looking for?’ Huang asked.
If possible, Carisi looked even more startled than before. “I was, uh, looking for any previous accusations. Anything that would indicate that he had a history of this behavior or whatever. Obviously, given the history of the Church and everything else, we take these kinds of accusations pretty seriously, but Fr. McKenzie seemed like one of the good ones. No previous accusations, no sudden trips outta the country paid for by the Archdiocese, nothing suspicious...”
He trailed off and shook his head. “What happened?” Huang prodded gently.
“Before I could bring him in for a second interview, he killed himself,” Carisi said dully.
Huang nodded, clearly up to date on the case, since he didn’t seem particularly surprised by that. “And what else had you found out about him?”
Carisi blinked at him. “What do you mean?”
“You were supposed to be looking into his history,” Huang said.
Carisi shrugged. “Yeah. I mean, I did. But I didn’t learn anything. Nothing that would help us, anyway.”
Huang shrugged as well. “You must’ve learned something,” he pointed out evenly.
“There wasn’t really time,” Carisi told him, defensiveness again curling the edges of his voice, though this time without any apparent reason. “Besides, at that point, it didn’t matter. Our investigation shifted—”
“What did it shift to?”
Carisi stared at him, derision clear in his expression. “As much as I’m appreciating the interrogation, this was all on the front page of the newspaper.”
Huang just raised an eyebrow slightly. “Was it on the front page of the Arts & Leisure section?” he asked lightly, and Carisi’s lip curled in response. “What did the investigation shift to?”
“Msgr. Nichols.” Carisi sighed and tugged a hand through his hair, not seeming to care that it disturbed the careful coif. “Turned out that he was the one molesting kids, that he had been blackmailing Fr. McKenzie and had paid off one of the altar boys to report Fr. McKenzie when it seemed like the blackmail wasn’t working anymore.”
Huang nodded slowly. “And in the course of your investigation, what else did you turn up about Fr. McKenzie?”
Carisi’s eyes narrowed. “What does that matter?” he asked. “I mean, I learned the same things as everyone else did. His first parish was in the Bronx, he went to Seminary at St. Joseph’s—
“Dr. Huang,” Carisi sighed, but Huang ignored him.
“What else did you learn?”
“I didn’t learn anything!” Carisi snapped. “I knew his name. I knew where he got trained. I knew from his parishioners that he was respected, loved even.”
“What else?” Huang pressed.
“He was from Staten Island.”
Huang nodded slowly, something like satisfaction briefly flashing across his expression. “That’s right,” he said calmly. “And what else.”
Carisi swallowed, hard. “He is — he was ...gay.”
“That’s right, Sonny,” Huang said gently. “That’s right.” Carisi couldn’t seem to look up at him and Huang sat back in his seat, silent for a moment before asking, “Did you know that there were people who were concerned about you?”
Carisi’s eyes flew up to his. “I don’t— I don’t know how to answer that question.”
Huang didn’t look surprised at his hesitation. “I mean, concerned with your behavior.”
“I understood what you meant.”
Carisi’s voice was flat, but there was no defensive edge to it this time. “If you look back, do you remember anything unusual about your behavior, starting in West Virginia and then during the Nichols case?”
“Then why would your colleagues say that there was?”
Carisi glared at him. “This is incredibly prosecutorial,” he snapped. “Do I need my attorney present?”
Huang didn’t look perturbed at the change in Carisi’s attitude. “I don’t particularly care if it sounds prosecutorial,” he said instead. “And it would sound less so if you just answered my questions.”
“If you want to know what my colleagues were thinking, talk to them,” Carisi shot back.
“I did,” Huang said calmly.
Carisi rolled his eyes. “Yeah, so I gathered.”
Huang’s lips pursed, just slightly, the first sign the entire time that he was even remotely affected by Carisi’s attitude. “What was going on on the 19th?” he asked.
“The 19th of this month?” Carisi asked, startled.
“Two days ago,” Huang clarified.
Carisi shrugged and shook his head slowly. “To say what went on on the 19th — I mean, Christ, the things that go on here in a day—”
“Then name some things that went on two days ago.”
“Barba was wearing his plaid tie.”
Huang blinked. “ADA Barba?” he said, more to verify than anything. “He was wearing a plaid tie.”
Carisi nodded jerkily, staring at the table without really focusing on anything in particular. “You asked me what was going on that day, and one thing was that Barba was wearing his plaid. I remember because he hasn’t worn it in...a long time. I thought he had gotten rid of it.”
Huang nodded slowly. “And you had a meeting with Barba that day, in his office.”
“Probably,” Carisi said.
“No, you did.”
Carisi jerked another shrug. “Okay.”
“You don’t remember having a meeting with Barba that day?”
Carisi huffed a sigh and ran a hand across his face. “Look, it’s not unusual for me to meet with Barba a few times a week. He’s our ADA, and it’s normally my job to keep him filled in on what’s happening with our cases.”
“Was that what you were doing that day?”
Carisi paused, something tightening in his expression. “No,” he said. “No, that day, Barba asked for my help.” He laughed, though there was no humor to the sound. “First time for everything, you know? But he was, uh, he was going to be taking a run at the monsignor, wanted me to sit in, for my…” His expression twisted. “For my Catholic perspective.”
Huang nodded again. “Barba doesn’t normally ask for your help?”
“Rafael Barba?” Carisi laughed again, with slightly more humor. “I didn’t think Barba knew how to ask for help. He’s…” He trailed off. “I dunno. We’re friends, I guess. Friendly, at least. I, uh...I admire him. His work, I mean.”
“So Barba asked you to sit in on the interrogation,” Huang said. “And things...did not go well.”
There was no question there but Carisi nodded slightly regardless. “Yeah, uh, yeah, that seems like a good way of putting it,” he muttered.
“Did you yell?”
Carisi looked up, startled. “At Barba?”
“Or the monsignor.”
Carisi shook his head. “No.”
Huang frowned. “You didn’t raise your voice in the interrogation?”
“I wasn’t even supposed to be asking any questions,” Carisi snapped. “Barba just wanted me there — I don’t know why Barba wanted me there.”
“You said he wanted you there for your Catholic perspective.”
“Sure, we’ll go with that,” Carisi sniped, clearly starting to get riled.
But Huang didn’t let up on the questioning. “So you’re in the interrogation with Barba — what happened?”
“Nothing happened!” Carisi half-yelled, a muscle working in his jaw. “It wasn’t even my interrogation. Barba was taking the lead, he was questioning the perp, that’s all.” He shook his head. “There’s — there’s a line you don’t cross. Ever. Not if you’re a good cop — not if you’re a good person.”
“You are a good cop, Sonny,” Huang said quietly. “Based on everything your colleagues have told me, everything in your personnel file — and I’d be willing to bet that you’re a good person as well.”
Carisi just made a disparaging noise and gave Huang a look. “You can ask questions or answer them, but you can’t do both at the same time,” he said dismissively.
“Sure I can,” Huang said calmly. “Because I know the answers and I don’t work for you.” Carisi rolled his eyes and Huang leaned forward. “How’d you hurt your hand?”
“No, how’d you do it?”
Carisi shrugged. “I punched my locker.”
Huang shook his head. “No, I don’t think you did.”
“I got out of the interrogation, I went into the locker room, I was pissed off, so I punched my locker.”
Huang’s expression didn’t change. “You punched your locker with quite a bit of force.”
“I work out when I can,” Carisi shot back.
Huang sighed. “Just so you know, I am completely unimpressed with clever answers.”
Carisi snorted. “And here I was hoping we’d have a second date.”
“Sonny, I know how much pain you’re in. I know that you feel like everything is slipping out of your control, and that if you could just hold on tight enough, everything will be fine, but—”
Carisi sat back in his seat. “You diagnosed me in two hours?” he asked, sounding almost impressed.
“I diagnosed you in five minutes.” Huang leaned forward. “Tell me about the interrogation.” Sonny shook his head slowly. “Barba was asking the questions. You were in there listening.”
“What was the diagnosis?”
Huang blinked. “I’m sorry?”
Carisi’s voice was hoarse as he said, “You said you diagnosed me after five minutes. What was the diagnoses?”
Huang sighed and folded his hands on top of the table. “You have anxiety, and very likely post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Carisi stared at him. “I don’t — I haven’t been through a trauma,” he said. “Seriously. I, uh, I think you gotta be wrong about that. I’m not trying to be difficult—”
“For the first time all day, I don’t think you are,” Huang said honestly.
“I know I’m giving you cocky answers—”
Huang tried to interrupt. “Sonny—”
“I know you want me to talk about my feelings—”
“Sonny.” Carisi fell silent and Huang sighed again. “I don’t want you to talk about your feelings. I think if you heard a recording of this conversation, you wouldn’t hear the word feelings. What I need you to do is to be honest about what happened that day in the interrogation, and more importantly, why it happened.”
Carisi just shook his head. “I’m not trying to give you cocky answers,” he repeated weakly.
Huang leaned forward. “Sonny.” His voice was soft but commanding. “I’m the person you tell, ok? It happened during the interrogation.”
“I was fine,” Carisi whispered, but he was staring off into space.
“Barba was asking the monsignor questions,” Carisi continued, as if he hadn’t spoken. “Trying to get him to confess, or trip up, anything that might get him to take a deal.”
Huang nodded. “Was he doing a good job?”
Carisi gave him a look. “It’s Barba.”
“My experience working with him is limited,” Huang said evenly.
Carisi huffed a sigh and shook his head slowly. “Well, it’s really...he’s really quite something.”
“How did it start?” Huang asked.
Carisi shook his head again. “I don’t know.”
“Yes, you do.”
“I was just sitting there.”
“And then what?”
Carisi glared at him. “What are you, in elementary school? I don’t know!”
“And I’m telling you, you do,” Huang said firmly, meeting his glare without flinching. “You tasted something bitter in your mouth. It was adrenaline.” Carisi shook his head slowly, but didn’t protest, and Huang asked quietly, “What happened then?”
Carisi clenched his hands into fists against the top of the table. “I couldn’t make it stop,” he whispered.
“No, you couldn’t,” Huang said firmly. “But you’ve been trying for three weeks. I imagine you’ve been trying a lot longer than that. And that’s why you were feeling sick inside.” He paused before asking, “How did you hurt your hand?” Carisi just shook his head again and Huang pressed, “You tried to kiss your best friend, a priest and a good man committed suicide, and Barba asked you to sit in on the interrogation. What happened?”
Huang sat back, disappointment clear in his expression. “Ok.”
“I left the interrogation—”
Huang tried to interrupt. “Can you honestly tell me that when that priest committed suicide—”
“—I went into the locker room—”
“Can you honestly tell me that you didn’t wonder if you were suicidal, too?”
Carisi’s head snapped up, his eyes wide. “I didn’t wonder that.”
“You’re lying.” Carisi shook his head, more violently this time, and Huang again leaned forward. “Everything that the two of you had in common—”
“We had nothing in common!” Carisi protested.
“You were both from Staten Island.”
Carisi snorted. “Big deal,” he scoffed. “So are half a million other people.”
“But you knew something else, something that got pushed to the side when the case shifted direction,” Huang continued doggedly. “You knew that he was being blackmailed by the monsignor. You knew that he had kept his mouth shut about the monsignor’s indiscretions, about the things that he witnessed, because the monsignor knew something about him, his deepest, darkest secret.”
Carisi raised his voice as if he could somehow talk over him. “I went into the locker room, I punched my locker—”
“You knew that he was gay, and closeted, and willing to let children get hurt to keep that a secret,” Huang said loudly. “And you wondered if in the same position you would’ve done the same exact thing.”
“I wouldn’t,” Carisi whispered, his voice shaking and his eyes shining with unshed tears. “I — I couldn’t.”
Huang took a deep breath. “Sonny. How did you hurt your hand?”
“I punched him.”
Carisi’s voice was quiet, pained, and Huang made no move to interrupt. “Barba was pressing him about — about what the monsignor had done to those kids, and the monsignor called him a...a fag.” Huang didn’t look surprised at that. “Barba said that it didn’t matter if he was, and the monsignor told him that to God, it did, that he cared more about God’s law than man’s law, and…” His voice shook again. “And he said that the Bible condemns homosexuality, but that God didn’t have a problem with pedophilia, that He even condoned it. ‘But the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, “But all the women children that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves”.’”
Huang shook his head. “Sonny—”
But Carisi ignored him. “And he kept throwing that in Barba’s face, that Barba was going to Hell, that the monsignor would be crowned in glory before the Lord while Barba rots in Hell, and I—” His voice broke. “And I lost it. I punched him. And I...I couldn’t seem to stop. Barba had to grab me, to pull him off of him. I woulda...” He trailed off. “I coulda killed him. I wanted to kill him.”
Huang let out his breath in a sigh. “Ok, then.”
Carisi glanced up at him. “Ok, then?” he repeated.
“That’s all I need to know.”
Carisi blinked, and let out a weak laugh. “What, so I’m cured?”
Huang gave him a look. “Sure, Sonny, you’re cured.” He shook his head. “I’m going to recommend a therapist that I think you’ll like—”
“I like you,” Carisi said.
“You’re too easy a case for me,” Huang told him, with a small smile.
“I punched a perp.”
Huang just shook his head. “I worked with Stabler for years. This isn’t the worst thing I’ve witnessed a good cop do.” He gave Carisi a look. “Though you probably want to stop doing that.”
Carisi shook his head as well. “So that’s it?” he asked skeptically. “I feel like I’m getting shortchanged here.”
Huang laughed lightly and started to stand. “I’ll call you after the holidays and give you a number for a good therapist.”
“What happens the next time a priest decides to kill himself?” Carisi demanded. “Or the next time I decide to start beating up a suspect?”
“It wasn’t about the priest,” Huang said quietly. “Or at least, it wasn’t just about the priest.” He hesitated before settling back into his seat. “IAB wants me to determine if you have an anger problem, and for the record, I don’t.”
Carisi barked a laughed. “Oh really?” he said. “Because I’m so fucking happy?”
“Do you think that happiness is the opposite of anger?” Huang asked mildly.
Carisi looked startled. “What? No, that’s not — I mean—”
Huang seemed to take pity on him and saved him from his spluttering. “I think that you’re angry. I think that you have every right to be angry. But when you attacked the monsignor, I don’t think you did it out of anger, which is why I don’t think you have an anger problem.”
“I was so furious I couldn't see straight,” Carisi said, clearly dubious.
“No,” Huang said. “You weren't furious.” He leaned forward. “I realize what I'm about to tell you is going to sound like two plus two equals applesauce, but that day, you weren't angry. You were scared.” Carisi stared at him, his mouth hanging open slightly. “You were scared because of what he was saying to Barba. You were scared because you’ve heard the same thing so many times that you barely even flinch anymore when it’s directed at you, but directed at Barba? At someone you care about?”
Carisi shook his head. “I don’t…”
“Do you think you’re going to Hell, Sonny?”
Carisi jerked back. “What?”
Huang leaned forward. “You’re gay.” He didn’t phrase it like a question, and Carisi froze. “And you are terrified that the worst things that the Church has said about homosexuality applies to you. Everything over the past year — trying to kiss Amanda, your anger issues with Barba—” Carisi made a face and Huang shrugged. “I had a long conversation with Barba. He had...a lot of very good insights to share. He clearly cares a lot about you.” Carisi looked away and Huang watched him carefully before continuing, “Everything to me speaks of someone whose flight or fight instincts have been at war for years. And when the monsignor went after Barba, your fight instincts kicked in.”
Huang raised his hands defensively. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly. “I didn’t mean to out you. But whatever your feelings, whatever your sexuality, it’s something you’ll have face sooner rather than later. Because bottling it up, trying to run from it — it’s not working.”
Carisi shook his head, his shoulders slumping. “It’s not,” he affirmed. “I tried — I've tried so hard—”
Huang’s voice was quiet, sympathetic even, and Carisi blinked and looked away again. “So am I gonna lose it everytime I’m reminded that the Catholic Church thinks that I’m going to Hell?”
Carisi glanced up at him. “Why not?”
“Because we get better.”
After a long moment, Carisi nodded, slowly. “But I need more therapy.”
Huang smiled slightly and nodded as well before standing. “And you’re going to get some.”
“I meant now,” Carisi said, with a pale attempt at a smile.
Huang just shook his head and laughed lightly. “Merry Christmas, Sonny. I’ll be in touch after the holidays.”
With that, he left, and Carisi slumped in his seat, staring straight ahead. After a long moment, a gentle knock sounded on the door, and Olivia poked her head in the room. “Hey,” she said lightly. “How’d it go?”
Carisi looked up, eyes wide. “Lieu, were you, uh—”
“The microphones were off,” Olivia said quietly, taking a full step into the room. “Nothing was recorded. No one knows what was said in here besides you and Dr. Huang.”
Something like relief flashed across Carisi’s face, and he let out an uneasy laugh. “Well, that’s good,” he said. He looked back up at Olivia. “IAB want to talk to me?”
Olivia shook her head. “IAB is going to wait on Dr. Huang’s report before they talk to you,” she said. “You’re still suspended pending investigation, but that’s why I called Huang in. I knew he’d give you a fair evaluation.”
“He said I’m gonna need more therapy.”
A small smile raised the corners of Olivia’s mouth. “Sure,” she said. “Would you like the name and number of my therapist?” Carisi blinked up at her, surprised, and Olivia shook her head slowly as she crossed over to sit down across from him. “I owe you an apology.”
Carisi frowned. “Why? You didn’t—”
“I’ve been dealing with a lot these past few months,” she said, not letting him get his protest out. “These past few years, honestly. But that’s not an excuse. As your lieutenant — as your friend — I should have realized a long time ago that you were hurting, and I should have done something before it ever got to this point.”
Carisi just nodded, slowly. “It’s ok,” he said, and when Olivia looked at him sharply, he amended, “It’ll be ok. I think.” He shrugged. “I hope.”
Olivia smiled gently at him and nodded towards his hand. “That looks awful. Barba’s offered to take you to the emergency room to get it looked at, make sure you didn’t break anything.”
Carisi blinked. “He knows?”
“He was the one who guessed.” Carisi nodded and stood slowly, starting to head towards the door, though he paused when Olivia said, “Carisi?” He half-turned. “We’re here for you. If you need us. Any of us.”
“Thanks, Lieu,” Carisi said quietly.
Sure enough, Barba was waiting outside of the interrogation room, dressed casually with no tie, his hands in his pockets. “I don’t need a doctor,” Carisi told him, in lieu of a greeting.
Barba just raised an eyebrow. “Do you have an MD in addition to your JD?”
“Then be quiet.” Together, they walked towards the elevator, their shoulders brushing together as they did. Barba glanced up at him. “Are you ok?”
Carisi started to answer automatically, then paused and shook his head. “I don’t know,” he said honestly. “And I, uh, I dunno when I’m gonna be. Or, uh—” He glanced at Barba. “Or when I’m gonna be ready. If I’m ever gonna be ready.”
Barba just nodded, and offered Carisi a small smile. “Take your time,” he said. “You have to do this your own way." He hesitated before adding, "And besides, I can be patient.”
“Since when?” Carisi joked, a smile almost close to his normal grin flitting across his face.
But Barba’s expression didn’t change as he told Carisi evenly, “Since I have something worth waiting for.” The elevator door dinged, and Barba stepped inside, looking back at Carisi expectantly. “Are you coming?”
“Yeah,” Carisi said, after a moment. “Yeah. I’m coming.”