“Whoa, Amanda, Amanda, wait up," Carisi called out to the fast moving blonde.
Rollins said nothing, throwing her hands in the air, waving him off as she continued to head for the exit.
He hesitated, battling with himself, wanting to respect her need for privacy—no coddling—but feeling that deep pull that he so often felt, wanting to protect, to help, to make things better.
And things were different now.
They were different.
He and Amanda, they…talked now. Real talk.
They had become friends.
He made his decision, moving quickly, his long legs carrying him across the bullpen towards the stairwell. The heavy metal door gave a small squeak as it shut behind him.
He immediately felt the cold February air that had seeped through the thick walls, no heat to push it back, it smelled hard and icy, probably perfect for a hot tempered Amanda, but he wished he'd thought to grab his coat.
These stair were rarely used, and, if Carisi had to wager, he'd bet they were cleaned even less frequently, if ever. They were good for one thing though, they were quiet.
He had no trouble finding her, three flights up, sitting on the freezing concrete, her elbows on her knees, staring out, unseeing. He stood at the bottom of the stairs, his eyes nearly level with hers. He had so many questions, so much he wanted to say, but he waited, an awkward silence stretching between them as he fought to keep his hands still.
"I think…I think I might get fired," Amanda finally said, her eyes still glazed, seeing everything that had happened and everything she feared would happen.
"Nah, come on, she'll cool off," he offered, believing it to be true, but Amanda scoffed, her eyes suddenly focusing on him.
"You didn't hear her Carisi."
He shuffled his feet for a moment. "Actually I kinda did, I think the whole bullpen did."
Her eyes rolled up in a frustrated fashion, and he knew she would be irritated that everyone knew her business, but she and the Lieutenant hadn't been all that quiet as they'd hashed it out. Her skin had gone red and he could see the muscles in her throat working hard to swallow down her feelings.
"I didn't do it you know," she spoke clearly. "I didn't leak the footage."
Carisi shrugged her off. "You say you didn't, then you didn't. I don't even care either way."
The corners of Amanda's lips seemed to lift, or maybe he imagined it, before she said quietly, "Yeah, I know."
They grew silent again until, with a harsh release of air, she shook her head. "Whatever. It doesn't matter. Liv'll do what she needs to do."
She refused to look at him, her head turning away, and he knew what she was doing, what she always did.
And he felt disappointed.
"Don't do that," he said suddenly, sharply, surprising himself and her.
Her eyes flew to his, her brow up. "Do what?"
"Don't act like you're not upset, like you gotta shut me out," he answered.
She visibly stiffened at his words, her lips pressing tightly together but he pressed forward.
"Look, Amanda, I don't know what's gonna to happen but I know you are a damn good detective an—"
"Then why do I keep finding myself here?" she snapped, her frustration clear. "Why do I keep screwing up?"
"I am good at this. I know this world," she continued. "But everyone keeps acting like having a kid is supposed to make me into this whole new person, but I don't feel like that. Yes, my life has changed, but I still feel like me, and it seems people…"
She bit off her words, shaking her head.
"What?" he pushed. "Seems people what?"
She chewed on her bottom lip for a moment, at a crossroads, before answering, "I don't know, it just seems that people are disappointed by that."
Her voice had lost its hard edge and Sonny felt like a heel. His own words came rushing back to him.
"I'm just glad to see how motherhood's really mellowed you out."
The remembered sarcasm buzzed in his ears.
He stepped forward, folding his long body down, coming to sit next to her on the step.
"Liv said she'd hoped that I would've changed after Jesse was born," she confessed. "but I just don't know what that means."
She wiped at her mouth, her fingers cupping her chin for a moment. "I don't know how to be a mom and a detective. I don't know how to not be a screw up. I got so angry at being left powerless, and I know I crossed the line but I had to do something, and part of me thinks I did it to prove to everyone that I am still good at this, that I'm still a detective."
Sonny nodded at her silently, listening to her words, hoping he understood. "Listen, things are different now, no matter how much you want it to stay the same, but maybe I shouldn't be so quick to dictate what that change is. I know you're still a detective. I don't like the idea of you going in without backup or support, but I don't doubt you're capable. It doesn't mean I think you were right to do it either."
Her eyebrow went up, but he refused to back down.
"Liv knows a thing or two about what's goin' on. I'd say she knows better than I do. She knew it wasn't you and Dodds, and she knew…she knew you'd use me to try and plead your case for ya."
Amanda's mouth worked like she wanted to argue, but she clearly thought better of what she was going to say, instead offering. "Liv and I have a…complicated relationship. She likes you better and I'm sorry I tried to use you as a go between."
Sonny blinked, surprised by her apology. He wasn't sure what he was expecting but he was sure he wasn't expecting that. He leaned into her a bit, his shoulder knocking hers gently, a contented warmth seeping through when she carefully pushed back.
Penitence and forgiveness.
"I don't think the Lieutenant likes me better. I do think she's harder on you than on me 'cause between the two of us you're the stronger one. But I will always fight for you Amanda." His hand came up to rest against her shoulder in a fleeting touch and with a gentle, reassuring squeeze he quickly let go and added, "I don't think you need me 'cause you've never been one to back down, but I'm here, if you ever do, or if you ever decide it's ok to rely on someone."
She licked her lips, her voice now barely more than a whisper. "I don't know if I can do that yet."
He nodded. "That's ok. Take your time. Like I said, I'm here."
Amanda's knee was pressed against his, their legs packed tightly together in the confining space, creating an odd sense of comfort in the chilly stairwell, and she felt a peculiar impulse to snuggle against him like one would under a warm blanket on a frigid night.
He smiled at her, a gesture that always made him look so young and boyish. Before, when she had only known him as Carisi, when she had been too preoccupied with other things, other people, she had thought it made him naive. Now she thought it made him strong. In the face of all the horror they waded through each day, he still managed to smile so easily.
She gave a derisive laugh at the thought.
"What?" he asked, his smile spreading.
"You're makin' me soft, you know that Carisi?"
He gave a good natured shrug. "You're makin' me strong."
His response came so quickly she barely had time to process it before he was laughing and pushing himself back up to standing.
At her raised eyebrow, he answered. "It's somethin' the Lieu said. She doesn't like triangles."
He offered his hand to help her to her feet.
"What?" she asked, sliding her hand into his.
His long fingers wrapped around her smaller ones before he gave gentle tug, pulling her up.
"You and me and her," he answered. "No more triangles."
Her hand still rested in his as he smiled down at her. She didn't know what was going on with her. She wasn't one to smile, not when brooding would serve better, but she found her lips beginning to turn upward.
She turned their hands slightly, giving the appearance of a handshake, and with a quick up and down motion promised, "No more triangles."
Blue eyes met blues eyes, their hands lingering together, neither quite so eager to let go before it seemed both decided it was for the best and let their hands drop.
She fought the urge to shove her hands in her pockets, instead saying, "I guess I should head back and face the music."
He motioned for her to lead the way. "I'm right behind you."
And she believed him.
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