Barba couldn’t show fear in the courtroom.
He could show anger and sympathy and occasionally contempt, depending on the defendant, but it all had to be done with a purpose.
Every emotion that came across his face, that could be heard in his voice, had to be calculated. They could only be presented when they would benefit the case. That didn’t mean he didn’t feel other emotions during court, he merely had to control what the jury saw.
And some days it was harder to do than others.
His voice was rising as he questioned the defendant on the stand. He was pointing his finger, accusing, taking out pictures of the victims. He managed to work the man up until he shouted out that they deserved it. That they deserved to be raped and murdered because of what they were wearing or where they had been.
“That will be all,” Barba returned to his seat, not even trying to hide his smirk as he saw Rita Calhoun furiously writing at the defendant’s table to his left.
She went on redirect, trying to salvage the case. Trying to walk back what her client had said, but the jury wasn’t buying it, Barba could see that. Once she was finished, the Judge called for a recess until nine o’clock the following morning for closing arguments.
Barba stood, he smoothed his tie and grabbed his briefcase. He was barely out of the courtroom when Rita was beside him.
“About a plea–” she started.
“A little late for that now, don’t you think?”
“Come on,” Rita said, “hear me out.”
Barba stopped in his tracks and turned to face her, “the jury’s going to convict on all charges, I’d spend your time preparing your client for prison.”
He returned to walking.
“You know you’re a pretentious ass, right?” Rita shouted after him.
“You flatter me,” Barba smirked.
He had almost made it to his office when someone else began shouting after him.
Barba sighed, his hand already on the door to his office, “what is it Carisi?”
“Just wanted to say you did a good job on that cross,” Sonny grinned.
“We still have closing arguments before the jury deliberates.”
“Yeah, but there’s no way they’d acquit.”
“Did you need something, Detective? Or have you merely come here to cast your predictions on my case?” Barba opened the door to his office and walked in. Although he didn’t invite Carisi in, he wasn’t surprised to see the detective follow him anyway.
“Ah, you know you like to be flattered.” The smile hadn’t left Carisi’s face as he leaned against the doorway.
Only by you, Barba thought, but instead he just rolled his eyes. “So is that all you’re here for? Because I can assure you I get enough elsewhere.”
“Is that right, Counsellor?”
Barba ignored him when he noticed the small white envelope on his desk. Only his name was scrawled out on the front, no postage. His stomach sunk. He picked it up and folded it in half before stuffing it in his jacket pocket.
Barba looked up at Carisi who had begun to ramble on about something or another. “Get to the point or get out,” Barba said pointedly, then added as an afterthought when he saw the hurt on Carisi’s face, “it’s been a long day.”
“It’s the case we’ve got,” Carisi said, “we think we know who did it, but we need a DNA sample to confirm.”
“Was the suspect identified in a line up?”
“The vic didn’t see anything. It was dark, he grabbed her from behind.”
“Is there any other physical evidence?”
“This guy, Anthony Warben, has been hanging around the coffee shop she works at and he’s got at least two restraining orders against him. He’s a real creep.”
“I’m gonna need more than a gut feeling, Detective. Come back tomorrow with something more substantial and I’ll get you the warrant. And don’t give me that look,” Barba said as Carisi’s face twisted in exasperation, “you passed the bar, you know well enough that you don’t have enough for a warrant.”
Carisi sighed, “Yeah.”
“So what exactly were you expecting by coming to my office?”
“I dunno,” Carisi shrugged.
“I know you’re a detective, Carisi, but you could just as well be a lawyer. Don’t bring me anymore half-assed cases expecting miracles.”
“Got it, Counsellor,” Sonny flashed another smile, “have a good night.”
“Yeah, we’ll see,” Rafael sighed, but he gave Sonny a small smile as he left his office.
When he was gone, Barba sat down behind his desk and leaned back in his chair. This thing with Carisi, he didn’t even know what it was, but ever since he had shadowed him, Carisi always seemed to be around. And as much irritation as Barba exhibited about it, he wasn’t all that upset. It was nice to see the man, if it was ever possible for someone to brighten the dullest of days, it was him.
But all of those thoughts were insignificant, because Carisi didn’t see him as anything other than a mentor. Someone who had given him the opportunity to shadow. How could he?
Barba ridiculed himself for even thinking about Sonny that way. Anyway, he had much bigger problems that needed to be dealt with. He pulled out the envelope from his pocket. He had immediately recognized the handwriting, and he already knew what he would see when he opened it.
Nevertheless, he did. Maybe it was some masochistic part of him that wanted to read the words. Really, death threats were nothing new. But they had become much more frequent and much more... descriptive.
The threats had died down for a time, but now they were back.
He probably should have told Olivia by now, she would be furious with him when she did find out. But he would leave that for another day, because right now he was exhausted. He could think of nothing more than pouring himself a scotch and tweaking his closing argument for the next morning.
He worked until sometime past ten before he put a few files in his briefcase and grabbed his coat. The building was mostly empty as he left, barring a few others burning the midnight oil. He called for a ride as he walked down the courthouse steps.
Barba waited by the side of the road and was typing furiously on his phone. Rita was still trying to weasel her way out of the inevitable conviction of her client. He had just pressed send when two arms reached around him, one covering his mouth and the other up against his neck.
He could feel the blade, it was cold and sharp as the man pressed it to his skin without breaking it.
Barba was rarely afraid.
He was snarky and sarcastic and his words could cut a man twice his size.
But now? Right now?
He was goddamn terrified.