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Playing For The Same Team

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Sometimes, Carisi questioned his decision to stay a cop instead of pursuing an active legal career. Ever since Carisi had passed the Bar, the squad hadn’t been particularly appreciative of his legal advice. Beforehand, they had humored him, knowing he was still in school and thought he wanted to show off what he had learned. But now, he was just brushed off when he offered advice or a legal perspective, or tried to talk about something that had interested him.

The law had always interested him, ever since he was little. His father was a cop and he loved hearing stories of arrests and all things related to the law. In school he devoured any sort of law related work with the same ferocity he devoured the bible. For him, it was always a struggle between the Church and the justice system when deciding what to do with his life. Eventually, Carisi realized that the desire to do good in the world would win out and he applied to be a crime and justice major in school with a minor in political science. Next he had to decide between being a cop or a lawyer, which was an even harder choice.

His father had been a cop, and he had always wanted to follow in his footsteps. Do the honest work that his father had done for forty plus years. But the thought of one day becoming a DA and being like the brilliant lawyers on tv also pulled at his soul.

When he was a junior in college, one of his professors gave him some of the best advice he had ever gotten. The man had sat him down and said, “Sonny, you know you can become a cop and go to night school at the same time, right? Plus, being a cop will give you great life experience to help you pass the bar.”

Carisi had never thought of that before and, in that moment, decided that that was exactly what he was going to do. He graduated school and applied directly into the police academy. Six months after being on the force, he applied to law school and got a full scholarship to Fordham Law. It was the best day of his life, until the day he passed the bar.

He had thought that having legal experience would only benefit his job as a cop and a detective. And Carisi believed that he was a better man and detective for it. But the others didn’t seem to see it that way.

They were never cruel and never came right out and said it, but anytime he would use a particularly “legal” phrase, Rollins would scoff and roll her eyes, Fin would hum in acknowledgement but rarely appeared to actually hear him, and Liv would brush him off. They teased him for shadowing Barba constantly, as well.

It was the brushing off that was really getting to him today. They had a difficult case, not a lot of evidence, and a perp who was too smart for his good. The squad was trying to figure out strategy while they waited for Barba to show.

“I’m just sayin’, there is no way this is going to hold up with a judge! He’s gonna take one look at it and toss, and that’s without the fuss that the other lawyer is gonna put up.” Carisi tried to argue with Rollins. He had been saying much of the same for the past twenty minutes but kept being told that it would all be fine.

Apparently that had been the last straw for his partner, who whipped her head around to glare at him as she stalked up to him.

“Just because you followed Barba around like a lap dog for a few months and passed the bar doesn’t mean that you’re some fancy lawyer now, Carisi. The badge on your belt says cop, so start acting like that’s where your allegiances lie.” She hissed.

Carisi’s eyes were wide as he stared down at her in shock. Logically, he knew what came out of her mouth was just due to her frustration and long hours they had all worked this week, but that didn’t mean the words didn’t hurt like a bitch. He took a step back, and as he coincidentally was standing by the door in that moment, stepped backward into a hard body.

Turning, he saw Barba, dressed to the nines as was his usual. Instead of a cocky smirk on his lips, like he normally wore, his face was hard as stone as he step-sided the taller detective to step towards Rollins.

“Detective,” The A.D.A. greeted with a predatory pur, the same he used when he was corning a witness in the courtroom. And judging from Rollin’s widening eyes, she also recognized the dangerous tone. “Is this how you talk to your partner who is offering perfectly sound legal advice that I, myself, planned at telling you? Is this how you utilize his skill set? By degrading him? Detective Carisi has one of the best legal minds I have seen in my career, you all should be honored that he is choosing to stick with SVU instead of joining the DA’s office. And are we not all on the same side… Detective Rollins?”

Barba had stalked Rollins, eyes never leaving her as he walked around her before standing in front of her. To Rollin’s credit, she never flinched, but anyone could see the tension in her body. With a huff, she stalked passed a still shell shocked Carisi to storm to the break room.

Fin gave Carisi an apologetic look. “I’ll go try and talk some sense into her, you know she didn’t mean it.” And with that he followed Rollins out of the room, leaving just Barba and Carisi.

After a long pause, Carisi deemed it safe enough to let out a heavy sigh and collapsed into one of the chairs around the table. He put his head in his hands and tugged at his hair.

“She might not have meant to say it, but she’s been thinking it for months. So’ve all of the squad.” He stated with a groan. He loved his job, he really did, but sometimes he really questioned his decision to stay.

“They shouldn’t have taken their frustration out on you, Carisi, especially since they know it’s the truth. I don’t know what’s gotten into Liv’s head, letting this go on for as long as it has.” Barba told him.

Carisi gave a bitter laugh. “I’m just the guy who went to night school, who has way too much of an interest in law for a cop to be appropriate.”

“They feel threatened by you, Dominick.”

Carisi’s head snapped up at that, and he stared at the ADA in shock.

“No one calls me that ‘sides my priest.” He stated, then, “Why on earth would they be threatened by me, Barba? I’m the newbie still, even a year in.”

“Because they know that with your law degree, you have good chances of advancing quickly. And they feel threatened by your intelligence, even if they don’t want to admit it. It’s no easy thing being an SVU detective and going to law school at night and still somehow passing the bar without having a complete mental breakdown.” Barba told the younger man, who know stared at him in shock. Carisi really was having quite the confusing day. “Shut your mouth, Dominick, or you’ll catch flies.”

“Sonny,” Carisi found himself saying. “You can call me Sonny.”

Barba scoffed. “Sonny… that’s no name for a lawyer, nor a detective. If you insist on a nickname, perhaps some form of your actual name.”

“You’ve never called me by anything besides my last name before, why now, Counselor?” Sonny asked, standing up.

Barba took a step forward and shined his patented, I-know-what-I-want-and-wh0-I-am smirks at the slightly taller man. “I don’t call potential dates by their last name, nor their childish nickname. Though if you aren’t interested, I’m sure I could go back to Carisi, even in private.”

Carisi stared at the man before him. Barba, who had always sent his stomach into flip-flops, who pushed him beyond his limits and helped him pass the bar. Barba, who looked amazing every day in fancy suits that likely cost more than a month of Carisi’s rent. Barba, who was now looking at him with a question in his eyes.

Carisi leaned down to whisper in the ADA’s ear. “Does that mean I’ll be able to call you Rafael?”

He felt Barba’s breath hitch before a large hand was gliding up his chest briefly. “It would only be polite, of course, Dominick.”

Barba, no, Rafael, stepped back and headed towards the door. He paused, gave Carisi another one of those knee-weakening smirks, and said “Eight o’clock, Murphy’s down the road. Drinks on me.”

Sonny smiled the first real smile of the day. “Can’t wait, Counselor.”

“Great,” Barba replied before turning and walking through the bullpen to Liv’s office where he knocked harshly. “Olivia, we need to talk.”

For the first time in awhile, Sonny felt lighter. He turned towards the board and with a bounce in his step, began writing notes on the board and sticky notes, ready to send the bastard to prison, with or without his teammates help. He knew that Rollins would apologize within a few days, and hoped that that would be the end of the attitude from the squad. But for now, he had a date with a sexy ADA to think about.