Olivia looks up from Jules Hunter’s body and turns to Rollins.
“I want CSU to do an accident re-enactment ASAP. I want to be one hundred percent sure that this was not an accident. I don’t want to give Nick Hunter any means to weasel his way out of this.”
“Got it,” Rollins says. “Are you going to notify Jules’s sister?”
Before Benson can answer the blonde, Olivia turns to a commotion that’s coming from the nearby ambulance. The same ambulance that a bloodied, disoriented Carrisi is sitting in back of. The two police officers rush over to the emergency vehicle to see two paramedics leaning over Carisi’s prone form. What the hell happened?! Carisi was just talking to them!
“Detective?! Detective Carisi?!” An EMT calls out as he gently slaps the detective’s pale cheek. Carisi doesn’t answer and remains still.
“Pulse is still good,” The other paramedic relays as she lowers Carisi’s slack wrist down to the officer’s side.
“What happened?” Rollins asks, concern clearly edged in her voice. “We were just talking to him.”
“Head injuries can be tricky. Based on the damage to the car, my bet is that your detective has a concussion,” the male paramedic explains as he and his partner quickly and efficiently rolls Carisi onto a backboard. “They don’t always make themselves known right away. And it didn’t help that he was on an adrenaline rush when we first got here. It was only a matter of time before he crashed.”
“We ready to go?” the female paramedic asks her partner as they move the detective onto the gurney.
“Where are you guys taking him?” Olivia asks as the female paramedic hops out of the ambulance and shuts the doors.
“Presbyterian,” she replies as she rushes to the driver’s side. Seconds later the ambulance is off, sirens blaring.
Rollins and Benson watch the ambulance as it darts out of their sight and towards its destination.
“He’s going to be okay,” Benson says.
Rollins nods her head. “I know.” She turns towards her boss and asks again “Are you going to notify Jules’ sister?”
Olivia shakes her head. “Do you mind doing it?”
Rollins quirks her eyebrow in confusion.
“I have to make another phone call,” Olivia says as she takes out her cell phone and dials a familiar number.
Rollins nods her head as realization hits. Notifying a victim’s family is one of the, if not the hardest part of their job. But, at this moment Rollins does not envy the lieutenant for what she is about to do.
The sound of his ringing cell phone pierces the silence of his bedroom. It takes his sleeping mind several seconds to place where the noise is coming from. If it was just a few months ago his hypervigilant mind would have automatically grabbed the ringing cell phone without thinking. But that was before. Now he falls asleep much easier without thoughts of upcoming trials and whether or not the defense is going to call a surprise witness that will destroy his case, playing havoc with his mind. Now he falls asleep a little easier. A little deeper
That false sense of security is why it takes him longer than it should (in his mind) to answer the phone.
“Hello?” he sleepily answers his phone.
“Rafa?” Liv says.
Her voice serves as a bolt of lightning to his tired body. He is now wide awake. “LIv?” Rafael asks.
He instantly knows why she’s calling. Or should he say who. He knows this for two reasons. One, he is no longer a DA. There is no need for her to call him in the middle of the night. There are no more high profile cases. There are no more phone calls where she simply says “we got him.” Not for him anyway.
And two. Sonny isn’t home. Sonny called him earlier that evening saying that he was going to be home late. There was a shit show in Court and that Liv needed him to stick around. And that Rafael shouldn’t wait up and just go to bed. This was nothing new. There have been plenty of times where one of them went to bed before the other got home. Tonight was just one of those nights. That is until now. Until Liv called him.
Something happened to Sonny.
As if on cue, the next thing Olivia says is “It’s Sonny.”
Rafael is able to make it to make it to the hospital in almost no time. During his trek to the hospital his earlier conversation with Olivia play over and over again in his mind.
“What happened? Is he okay?”
“He’s going to be fine,” Liv tries to reassure him.
“If he’s so okay then why are you calling me and not him?” Rafael asks as he’s pulls on a pair of jeans over his boxers.
“He’s on the way to Presbyterian,” Olivia explains.
Barba struggles to maintain his grip on his phone as he pulls a shirt over his head. “You didn’t answer my question. What the hell happened?”
Olivia remains calm despite his gruffness. “He was driving a vic to a secure location. A SUV blew a stop sign and ran into them. Smashed their vehicle up pretty bad. The vic was DOA.”
“Shit,” Rafael says as he runs a hand over his tired face. The victim is dead and Sonny was there. Shit. Sonny must be a mess. He is no doubt going to blame himself. That’s how Sonny is. That’s why Rafael loves him. “How is he?”
Olivia lets out a sad sigh. “He’s pretty shaken up. He hit his head pretty good.”
Sonny hit his head. Is he okay? Rafael has read about people walked away from an accident fine and then days later die because of a brain bleed. “Is he conscious?” Rafael asks as he bends down to tie his shoes.
“He was,” Olivia answers quietly.
Barba sits up as he finishes tying his shoe. “Wait, you said was. As in he was conscious, but isn’t now?”
“He was conscious when Rollins and I got to the scene. He was talking to us. But, then he lost consciousness. The paramedics think he has a concussion,” Liv explains.
“Rafa?” Liv calls out to him as he enters Presbyterian’s Emergency Room.
“Liv?” Rafael rushes towards her. “How is he? Have you heard anything?”
She squeezes his shoulder tightly. “The ER doctor said he was still unconscious when the paramedics brought him in, but that’s not too surprising if he has a concussion. They sent him to get a CT to see if there is any bleeding or swelling in his brain.”
Rafael nods his head. Sonny is already in CT. At least that’s one conciliation with being in the ER this late. You don’t have to wait for hours for a CT.
“So, we wait,” Rafael says tiredly.
“We wait,” Olivia says as she leads him over to a couple of chairs in the waiting room.
“I hate waiting,” Rafael says as he drops heavily into the chair.
“I know you do,” Olivia says with a small smile as she grabs her friend’s hand and gives it a tight squeeze.
Rafael wants to say thank you to Olivia. Thank you for being here with him in the ER while she should be home with Noah. But he doesn’t. He knows that Olivia has about a hundred other things she can be doing right now. Sonny told him about the case that the SVU was working on. About the abusive piece of shit husband. The law suit against Olivia, the NYPD, Stone, and the city. Olivia no doubt has the brass breathing down her neck, but she’s here with him waiting for news about Sonny.
But, he still can’t get the words to come out. Thank you. Two little words. Everyone knows he has a way with words. But, that skill seems to go out the window when it comes to conveying his feelings. And this is one of those times. But from the way Liv squeezes his hand again it’s apparent that she knows how grateful he is to have her here with him.
“You going to call his family?” Olivia asks after a couple minutes of silence.
He can’t help but let out a snort. “Are you crazy? Have you met his sisters?”
Olivia rolls her eyes. “Fair enough. But you’re going to be in a shit ton of trouble if they hear about this over Sunday dinner. You’re going to be skinned alive if they find out later that you didn’t call them.”
Olivia can’t help but smile when she sees a tint of fear in her friend’s eyes. “On second thought, maybe I’ll give them a call later after I hear something from the doctor. Later and after I have some caffeine.”
“They scare you that bad?” Olivia asks.
Yes. Rafael thinks to himself. But, he will never tell Liv that. “Nah, I just don’t want his mom to withhold her tiramisu from me.”
“Suuure,” Liv says. But, she leaves it at that.
Rafael is about to defend himself but is stopped when he sees a doctor making his way towards them. Olivia stands up. This must be Sonny’s doctor.
“Lieutenant Benson,” the physician greets.
“Dr. Malone,” Olivia answers. She turns to Rafael. “This is Rafael Barba. He’s Detective Carisi’s partner.”
“How is he?” Rafael asks without missing a beat.
“Straight to the point. Lieutenant Benson warned me about you,” Dr. Malone says with a tired frown.
The former DA sends his friend a quick glare, but then shrugs his shoulders. She didn’t say anything that wasn’t true.
“So, how did his CT look?” a somewhat sheepish Olivia asks.
“Well, Detective Carisi definitely has a mild concussion. The good news is that there is no bleeding or swelling in the brain.”
Rafael and Olivia both let out a collective sigh of relief as the doctor continues. “Besides the concussion, Detective Carisi also has some lacerations and contusions. He has some bruised ribs.”
“But he’s okay?” Rafael asks.
“He’s still unconscious. But that is not too surprising with his head injury. He took quite a hit to the head. But the CT results are promising. I do want to monitor him for a little bit because of the loss of consciousness. But, overall, I’m relatively optimistic that Detective Carisi will make a full recovery. We’re getting him set up in a room now, but once he is all settled in you will be able to see him.”
“Thanks, doctor.” Olivia says.
“Yes, Thank you, Dr. Malone.” Rafael says as the doctor makes his exit.
Olivia turns to her friend, smiling. “See. I told you he was going to be okay.”
“You did,” Rafael replies.
“But it may take a while,” Liv says.
Rafael nods his head. “I know. It takes a little bit to bounce back from a concussion.”
“That’s true, but there’s something else”
Rafael nods his head. “Sore ribs are a bitch, but he will be okay in a week or so.”
Liv shakes her head. There’s a look in her eye that tells Rafael that they are not on the same page. That there is something else. Something that the doctor has not mentioned.
“It’s not just that, Rafa. It’s not just the physical injuries. When Rollins and I first got to the scene and was talking to Carisi, he was a bit of a mess. And I don’t think it was just the concussion. His answers were stuttered and disjointed. He was in shock. I don’t know how much Carisi talks to you about work, now that you’re not with the DA’s office, but this was a particularly messy case.”
Rafael doesn’t say anything. He knows a little. He knows that it was a brutal domestic case. So brutal that the wife had her piece of shit husband framed for both her and her daughter’s murders. He also knows about the lawsuit said piece of shit husband has filed against Liv, the NYPD, and others. He doesn’t know all the details, but he knows enough. But, he lets Liv continue.
“The vic was a battered wife. They were in family court today. It did not go well. Carisi was driving her to a secure location when they were hit. Based on what the paramedics told Rollins when they got there, they found Carisi trying to stop the victim’s bleeding. He was pretty shaken up.”
“Shit,” Rafael curses. The profound relief he just felt when Dr. Malone said Sonny was going to be fine definitely diminished a bit with what Liv just said.
Liv takes hold of his hand and squeezes it. “He’ll be fine though. You’ll be there for him.”
Once again, he’s at a loss for words so he settles for nodding his head. Liv’s right. He’ll be there for Sonny. But, luckily for him the appearance of a nurse stops him from having to come up with something to say.
“Are you here for Detective Carisi?”
Rafael lets out a small cough before he answers that they are.
“My name is Becky. Dr. Malone said that Detective Carisi is ready for visitors if you would like to see him.”
Rafael starts to follow the nurse but stops when he sees that Liv is not following him. He turns around. “Liv?”
“You go,” she says. “I have to get back to check in with Rollins. And I want to get back home some time before the sun comes up. Give Carisi my best.”
“Will do,” Rafael says as he turns to catch up with the nurse. A couple of lefts and rights and a quick elevator ride later they reach their destination. Dr. Malone is waiting for them inside Sonny’s hospital room.
“Hello again, Mr. Barba. Detective Carisi is still unconscious. Don’t be alarmed. This is not uncommon with concussions. When he does regain consciousness don’t be surprised if he’s disoriented. He may also experience some memory loss, nausea, and vomiting. These are all common symptoms of a concussion. We’ll be in and out to check on him throughout the night. Do you have any questions?”
Can you get the hell out of my way? Rafael wants to say, but he knows that is probably not the best. So instead he just shakes his head. The physician must see Rafael’s need to see Sonny because he finally gets the hint and leaves.
For the first time that night, since he hot that call from Liv, he’s finally alone with Sonny. He inches closer to the bed. The hospital’s harsh lighting does not do Sonny any favors. His pallor almost matches the white pillow case his head is on. There’s a bandage on his upper right part of his forehead. The dark circles under his eyes are a couple of shades darker than they were when he left that morning. But, Rafael has seen them even darker after a particular bad case. Sonny is okay. He’s going to be fine.
He pulls a chair closer to the bed and takes a seat. He pushes it closer to the bed and grabs Sonny’s hand. He gives the lax fingers a squeeze. “I’m here, Sonny. No doubt a little greyer after getting Liv’s call. But, I’m here.”
He half expects (and hopes) that Sonny will instantly wake up and start rambling on about something. That’s what Sonny does. Just when Rafael is about to nod off, Sonny will ask him about something so random that Rafael has no choice but to respond. Granted, his responses are not always the nicest and are most often followed up with a “Go to sleep Sonny!”
But that is not the case tonight. Tonight, Sonny is silent and still. Tonight, Rafael waits.
Despite his best intentions to stay awake until Sonny regains consciousness, Rafael ends up falling asleep.
He jerks himself awake when he hears movement nearby. At first, he ignores it. Thinking it’s either Dr. Malone or a nurse checking in on Sonny. They’ve been in and out all night. He’s just about to drift off again when he hears a groan. His eyes pop open and he looks towards the bed. Sure enough Sonny is moving his head back and forth.
“Hey,” Rafael soothes as he moves closer to Sonny grabbing Sonny’s fidgeting hand. “You with me, Sonny?”
Sonny doesn’t respond, but he leans towards Rafael’s voice.
“Sonny? Come on, open your eyes. I’ve been up all night, while you’ve been slumbering.”
“Rafi?” Sonny asks, his eyes still closed. “’At you?”
Rafael rolls his eyes. “Of course, it’s me. Unless you’re expecting some other man to be sitting by your sick bed.”
“Huh?” Sonny asks finally opening his eyes to half slits to look at Rafael.
Rafael can’t help but smile. A confused concussed Sonny. This is going to be fun. He takes his other hand and starts to gently run it through Sonny’s curls. “Yes. It’s me, Sonny.”
“Good,” Sonny says before closing his eyes. “What ‘appened?”
Rafael continues running his hand through Sonny’s hair. “What do you remember?”
Sonny doesn’t answer right away. No doubt he’s trying to piece together what the hell happened.
Finally, he answers. Although a little hesitant. “I was ‘orking.”
“Are you asking me? Or telling me?” Rafael asks. Sonny could merely be guessing that it was because of work that landed him in the hospital.
“Telling,” Sonny says after a long pause.
“You were,” Rafael confirms. “What else do you remember?”
“I called you to tell you not to wait up.”
“I was on the Jules Hunter case.”
From the crease in Sonny’s forehead, Rafael can see that Sonny is confused. No doubt his memory of the night’s events hit a roadblock.
“So why am I here?” Sonny asks quietly.
Hearing Sonny’s quiet voice and looking at his bruised face laying in the hospital bed stops Rafael from telling him the whole story. How after a nasty case Sonny was driving an abused wife to a secure location when their car was smashed into by another car. And that the paramedics arrived at the scene to find Sonny trying to revive the victim. He can’t do that. Not yet.
“You were in an accident. You bruised some ribs and have a concussion.”
Sonny opens his eyes again and looks at Rafael. “Anyone else hurt?”
Rafael doesn’t say anything at first but continues sweeping his hand through Sonny’s unkempt curls. He knows that memory loss is common with concussions. And he remembers hearing somewhere that you shouldn’t force memories on someone. Couple that with what Liv said how Sonny was at the accident scene, he doesn’t think it would be the best thing to tell Sonny that Jules Hunter is dead.
But he can’t lie either. Not with a pale and sad Sonny looking up at him with those pleading eyes. “Yeah, someone else was hurt.”
He knows hurt is different from dead. And Jules Hunter was dead. He’s not lying though. Someone else was hurt. The daughter. Jules’ Hunter sister.
Sonny closes his eyes again, but Rafael can tell that he’s not sleeping. Not yet anyway.
“How are you feeling?” Rafael asks.
“Sore. Head hurts,” Sonny replies with his eyes still closed.
Rafael stops running his hand through Sonny’s hair. He doesn’t want to hurt Sonny. But, Sonny won’t have that and leans into the older man’s still hand. “No, don’t stop. Feels good.”
“I should probably grab the doctor. They wanted to check you out when you woke up. Don’t fall asleep yet.”
Sonny attempts a clumsy salute and a ‘aye, captain’ as Rafael leaves him alone to grab a doctor. It only takes Dr. Malone a few minutes to check Sonny over. He seems content with Sonny’s answers to his questions. Even though Sonny’s responses to the physician’s basic questions seemed too uncertain and too halting. And the memory loss of the events leading up to the accident does not seem to concern the doctor. Even though Rafael is still unnerved by it.
Pleased with how Sonny is doing Dr. Malone says that he will be released in a few hours as long as his condition remains the same. Seeing this as permission to rest, Sonny nods off before the doctor even leaves the room leaving Rafael alone again with his thoughts in the too bright hospital room.
As Sonny slumbers on, Rafael spends the time on his phone. Exchanging texts with Liv updating her about Sonny. He steps outside to call Bella to tell her what happened. Sonny needs his rest and he knows from years of dealing with the Carisi family how long loud this phone call is going to get. And sure enough after telling Bella that Sonny is okay and will be released in a few hours, he spends close to an hour fielding phone calls and text messages with the rest of the Carisi family.
He’s exhausted and is ready for a nap when he walks back into Sonny’s room. But, he perks up when he sees the bluest eyes peering up at him. “Hey…”
“Where were you?” Sonny asks. His words are clearer than they were before.
Rafael holds up his phone in reply.
“You called my family. You tell them not to worry?” Sonny guesses
Rafael rolls his eyes. “Of course, I did. Not that means anything with your sisters and mother.” Rafael looks at his watch. “My bet is they will be here within the hour.”
Sonny nods his head but then hisses in pain.
“Easy,” Rafael says as he sits and pulls his chair closer to the bed. He begins running his hand up and down the younger man’s arm. “You don’t want your family to worry, but it’s fine to give me a heart attack. Real nice.”
Sonny peaks one eye open. “Not my fault.”
Note to self. Sonny isn’t up to his jabs just yet. “I know it’s not,’ Rafael says quietly. He stops himself from saying it was an accident. Because he knows it wasn’t. In between phone calls with Sonny’s family, he got a call from Liv. The report from CSU came back. The car that hit Sonny and Jules Hunter did not slow down and was going over 55 miles an hour. This was intentional.
“She’s dead. Isn’t she?” Sonny asks quietly.
Rafael can’t bare to say anything as he looks into Sonny’s sad eyes. He just nods.
“I…I tried,” Sonny says. “The blood….”
“Shhhh,” Rafael tries to soothe as he continues to rub Sonny’s arm. “Hey, I know you did. Liv told me.”
He wants to say it’s going to be okay. But he knows better not to. He knows what Sonny is feeling. The helplessness. The loss. He’s been there. So, he sticks with what he knows. “You’ll get through this. We’ll get through this. I’m here, Sonny.”
It takes a few minutes, but Sonny does calm down. Just as he’s about to nod off, he looks at Rafael. “Don’t leave.”
That Rafael can do. He squeezes Sonny’s hand. “Never. Now get some rest before your family gets here. You can’t leave me alone with them to fend for myself.”
“Chicken,” Sonny says as he closes his eyes.
Rafael starts to run his hand through Sonny’s hair as the younger man’s head begins to list to the side. “You may call it chicken, but I call it self-preservation.”
Sonny does not respond and instead relaxes under Rafael’s hand as he quickly falls asleep. Rafael does not stop his ministrations as he drags the chair closer to the hospital bed, so he can sit down. “We’ll be okay. We’ll be okay.”