ADA Rafael Barba didn’t have a soulmate and didn’t seem to want to find one.
Detective Sonny Carisi didn’t need to talk to the man to figure that out.
Barba made it obvious by wearing very nice gloves. Slate gray, leather, soft and buttery against Sonny’s skin when he shook the man’s hand. Long enough to disappear beneath the cuff of, what was clearly, an expensive and well-made suit coat. The color of the gloves matched one of the colors of his tie and the pocket square on his chest.
Sonny wondered if his socks and underwear also matched.
He also wondered if he had gloves in several different colors to match various ties and pocket squares. Matching socks and underwear for those as well?
It wasn’t any of Sonny’s business whether or not Barba wanted to find his soulmate, he just found it interesting. Sonny was very much the opposite. He went about life without any kind of adornment on his hands - no ring to indicate him having a soulmate or had and lost a soulmate and definitely no gloves. A visible sign to everyone that Sonny was searching, ready and willing to meet that one special person.
It wasn’t uncommon to meet people who wore gloves. Back in the 50s, everyone wore gloves and would only touch the skin of another once they were sure they wanted to try building a life with that person. Things changed in the 60s and 70s - young people went about with bare hands, excited to stumble into their soulmate and start a life with what could possibly be a complete stranger.
There were still plenty of people who wore gloves - some just old fashioned and some who simply didn’t want their soulmate.
Personally, Sonny felt like that was a little selfish. Didn’t the other person get a say in it?
To be fair, Sonny reasoned to himself, it wasn’t unheard of that someone met their soulmate and decided not to stay with that person. Various reasons, maybe they had already married and decided to stay with their partner. Maybe their soulmate was a terrible person and really, what did that say about them?
That being said, it also wasn’t unheard of that a resentful abandoned soulmate took matters into their own hands and forced themselves upon the other.
Sonny wondered what Barba’s reason was. Not that he’d ever ask - the man looked as though he could kill someone with one fierce glare.
Not true, Sonny learned over time. A glare from Barba wasn’t an immediate death sentence but it was an invite to jeers and somewhat unkind laughter from his co-workers.
There was also the barbed insults, poking at Sonny’s choice of higher learning. The eye-rolls, scoffs, and razor sharp quips always following one of Sonny’s legal suggestions or references.
Those weren’t death sentences either, but they weren’t exactly breathing life into him.
Rafael Barba seemed to revel in the jabs he sent Sonny’s way.
It grew easier and easier to see the benefits of Barba refusing to meet his soulmate - for the other person’s sake.
“Only a matter of time, huh?”
Sonny lifted his eyes from his computer screen and met Barba’s gaze, “Sorry?”
“Before you bond with some lucky girl and raise eight kids.”
From anyone else, Sonny could’ve considered the comment a compliment but Barba’s tone indicated a high level of distaste for the whole matter. So why the hell was he bringing it up?
Did Barba feel that much more comfortable around Sonny after he'd shadowed him for the Louis Hodda case? Sonny had hoped so, hoped he had impressed the older man.
“Lucky girl or guy, sure. I guess, though 8 kids might be a stretch. To turn a phrase.” He chuckled, “why are you suddenly curious about me?”
Rafael’s eyebrows had jumped up when Sonny mentioned the possibility of a male soulmate but otherwise his face remained impassive. “Isn’t that the dream?”
“For some people, sure. I just want to meet someone to spend my life with. Someone who wants to spend their life with me. Doesn’t everyone?” Sonny’s eyes flicked from Barba’s face to his gloves and back again, “Uh…”
“Observant. You should be a detective, Carisi.” Barba smirked.
Sonny grimaced, “Tit for tat, Counselor. You asked if that was my dream and I answered. So,” he gestured to Barba, “Can I ask about the gloves?”
Barba didn’t even twitch, “Usually I’d tell anyone asking about my gloves they need to stick their nose elsewhere but you’re not wrong. I did start the line of questioning.” He lifted his hands and showed Sonny his palms - today the rich buttery leather gloves were a deep burgundy color, impeccably matching his shirt, “I hate the idea of being forced to love someone I didn’t choose myself.”
“This isn’t the 50s anymore, Counselor. No one has the right to force you to remain with a soulmate.”
“Depending on the state, Detective, I'm sure you realize there are several cases of victims being told to remain with their abusive soulmate.”
Sonny rolled his eyes and Rafael grinned, “But I'll grant you that this hasn’t happened fairly recently in New York. That, however, doesn’t stop the other aspects of refusing the bond. The constant nausea and headaches? The waves of dizziness and confusion? The sporadic telepathy? No court may force me but Mother Nature seems intent.”
Sonny nodded slowly. When you put it like that, sure. It sounds like punishment.
“Well, I want to meet him or her. From what other people tell me, it sounds like the most amazing thing ever. Besides, I already know whoever my soulmate is - they're amazing.”
Barba gave him a skeptical look.
Sonny leaned forward, towards Barba, wondering if his refusal to meet a soulmate meant the man was a virgin. Surely no one could have gone untouched their entire life and Barba certainly didn't seem like a man who was celibate.
“You look like you have more questions, Carisi.” Barba was smirking again.
“When have I never had questions?” Sonny shot back, “Something tells me you won't be so forthcoming with answers, though.”
“He can be taught!” Barba flashed a grin and sauntered away.
Sonny watched, successfully resisting the odd and sudden urge he had to chase the man.
“Stop crowding me.” Rafael bit out at the detectives tailing him, “This is completely unnecessary.”
“A threat on your life is kind of a big deal, Counselor.” Rollins spoke up cheerfully, “We can’t let our favorite ADA go and get murdered.” Beside her, Sonny chuckled; barely flinching when Barba shot him a dark glare.
“I’m so flattered.” the older man snarled, “Exactly how long will you Wonder Twins be gracing me with your presence?”
“Wonder Twins?” Sonny glanced at his partner for clarification.
She smirked as she shrugged, “Before our time. Sorry, Barba, references from the 40s is way over our heads.”
Sonny laughed again, earning another baleful glare from the attorney.
“Here I was starting to like you, Carisi.” Barba narrowed his gaze at Sonny, presumably the weak link of the two.
“You told me 10 minutes ago that my legal insights were as deep as a paper plate.”
Rollins barked out a laugh, attempting to smother it at the look on Sonny’s face, “That was a good one, though.”
“Anyway, if that’s how you treat people you like, I’m glad I’m not on your shitlist.”
“Friendly teasing, Carisi. Maybe they offer a class on learning to take a joke at Fordham.” Barba quipped.
Rollins gave an odd laughing cough and Sonny rolled his eyes. “Yep, there it goes. I’m not even sure how that’s insulting but I feel insulted.”
“What about me, Counselor? You like me?” Rollins asked, eyes dancing with laughter.
“I’d like you a lot more if you weren’t stepping on the heels of my shoes - they’re Italian leather loafers, Rollins, if you scuff them, I’ll be sending you the bill.”
“Sure thing, Barba, just put it in an envelope and drop it straight into the trash can.”
“I didn’t realize you moved into a nicer place, Rollins.” Rafael smirked, “I’ll send a gift basket.”
Sonny snorted, “You’re right, Amanda, it’s a lot funnier when it’s not directed at me.”
“I’m more mad at myself for walking into that one.”
“Would you two hurry the hell up? I’m already late for my lunch meeting with the DA thanks to your fun new Check-In/Check-Out restrictions. Plus, I forgot my scarf and now my neck is cold.” Barba groused, weaving in and out of the foot traffic on the sidewalk.
Sonny marvelled, his own long legs not doing much for the teeming crowds of people, For a short guy, he can really move when he wants to.
Rollins followed in Sonny’s wake, “Aw, hell, I can’t even see him anymore. Keep on him, Sonny, don’t lose him.”
“Righto.” Sonny pushed forward, calling out apologies and ‘excuse me!’
He saw Barba power-walking several feet behind a much larger group that had just crossed a street. Sonny jogged to catch up, “Counselor! You can’t just run off on us!”
Barba stepped into the street and glanced back at him, smirking, “Watch me!” He turned his head and gasped - a black town car was bearing down on him, the driver honking.
He froze, unable to will his legs to move. A hand reached out and yanked him, spinning on his heel, against a solid body. A warm hand covered his bare neck.
“HEY! YEAH, KEEP DRIVING YOU STUPID ASSHOLE! PEDESTRIANS HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY, God, the way people drive around here, you’d think they’re getting points for-” Rollins yelled furiously as she caught up. Her words trailed off as she caught sight of Sonny and Barba.
The two were frozen, Sonny’s right arm squeezed around the smaller man, his left hand clasping Barba’s neck.
Barba’s shoulders were rigid, arms hanging at his sides, gloved hands curled into fists.
Barba moved then, shoving Sonny back, “Are you kidding me?” Sonny stared back at the shorter man, the smile on his face fading into confusion. His hand was fisted in the fabric of Barba’s overcoat. Barba yanked the fabric from Sonny’s grip, his face twisted in fury, “How could you!? How dare you!?”
Amanda gaped, “He saved your life, Barba, what the hell?”
Barba looked at her, almost as if he was surprised she was there. He looked as though he was on the verge of tears.
“Bar- Raf-” Sonny stuttered, “I- I swear I didn’t mean to. But- this is-”
“You didn’t mean to?” Barba hissed, “You’ve been dying to try your luck since you met me. Don’t you dare deny it. Congratulations, Detective. I hope you’re happy.” He yanked off his gloves and threw them so that the fine leather bounced off Sonny’s chest and landed on the sidewalk.
“What the hell just happened here!?” Amanda yelled out, moving between the two men, “Did you want to hit by a car, Barba, cause that can be arranged!”
Sonny touched her shoulder, shaking his head when she turned to face him, “Don’t- it’s not his- It’s my fault. It’s my fault, I’m- I never meant to, Rafael, I wasn’t thinking. I- I’m sorry, I’m not-” His voice caught and his expression crumpled, tears spilling, “ Please.”
Amanda stared at him, even more confused and slightly terrified at Sonny’s expression. Only minutes ago he’d been laughing. She turned to look at the attorney, seeing only the back of his head as he disappeared into the crowd.
“Shit- Sonny, Sonny, we can’t lose him.”
Sonny shook his head. He bent down and retrieved Barba’s gloves before staggering to the side of the closest building. He leaned against the wall as he seemed to struggle to breathe, “Call the Lieu- tell her to get a uni at- at the restaurant- he’s still going to his lunch meeting.”
“What do I tell Liv when she asks why we aren’t with him?”
“Give me a sec, I’ll tell her.”
“You’re sure he’s headed to the restaurant?”
Sonny nodded, wiping at his face with his sleeves, “Positive.”
Sonny grimaced for a second, then smiled at her, fresh tears trailing down his cheeks, “I can hear him in my head, ‘Manda. He’s my soulmate.”