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Darkest Before the Dawn

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Barba didn’t bother looking up when his office door opened, too deep in his reading. Carmen knew better than to let anyone not previously approved into his office today and anyone previously approved was well versed in how he was when he was busy, he had to finish preparing for this case. “Whatever you want it can wait, or someone can do it. If you have coffee leave it there.” he pointed at the last clear corner on his desk

 

An unfamiliar voice chuckled, “Oh I can assure you Mr. Barba this cannot wait.”

 

Rafael did look up at that, four large white well dressed men stood at his desk. The one who had spoke, a markedly handsome blonde man who wouldn’t look out of place in a hollister ad, was standing front and center and almost languidly aiming a gun at him smiled sharply. Rafael, stamping down the sick feeling of panic that clawed at the back of his throat and ignoring the way the bottom of his stomach gave out at seeing that barrel pointed at his forehead, narrowed his eyes and scoffed. “You cannot possibly think whatever you have planned is going to work. Do you know how many cops are crawling around the building right now?”

 

The man shrugged. “What I know is that we passed two school field trips on our way to your office. There is the sweetest little old lady custodian cleaning out the bathroom across the hall. And your little assistant is sure to be back at her desk by now. I’m just here to send a message, you can decide what percentage of that message is written in their blood.”

 

Barba closed the file he’d been reading and slowly, deliberately, placed it down on his desk. Feigning nonchalance he leaned back in his chair. “So what exactly is your message? Am I prosecuting a case of yours? Of a friend family? Are you here on behalf of someone I sent to jail? Because whatever this is is just going to ensure you’re going to see a whole lot more of them real soon.”

 

The man holding the gun didn’t have to feign his nonchalance as he huffed a laugh and gestured to the door. “Right now you are going to come with us Mr. Barba. Or-“ the dark haired man on his left casually shifted, and oh how Rafael hated how calm these bastards were, moving his jacket out of the way to show a small machine gun strapped to his side. “we start shooting.”

 

“You start shooting, you won’t leave this building alive.”

 

“Neither will you, and every single collateral victim is going to be on you. We’re prepared for that. Are you?”  

 

Rafael took a deep breath and stood nodding. “Well then gentlemen. I assume that we have somewhere to be.” He walked around his desk while buttoning his jacket to stand in front of the men.

 

“Good choice Mr. Barba.” The blonde man tucked the gun away and stood close to Rafael’s side, placing a firm hand on his elbow, “But first…” with his free hand he reached into Rafael’s front pant pocket and pulled out Rafael’s cell. Rafael struggled to keep still and not visibly react to the intrusion but from the way the man smirked he might not have been fully successful at keeping his hatred for what was happening off of his face. The man placed it on top of the files Rafael had been reading “Lets leave this right here.” He started to steer Barba towards the door. “Come up with a good story for your secretary about why you’ll be out all day, you have ten seconds.”

 

The dark haired man led the way towards the door, the other two men taking up the rear behind Rafael and the blond. Rafael felt his mouth go dry. Once he left his office god knows what was going to happen. He knew it wasn’t going to be good. Everything inside him rebelled on letting these assholes just walk him out of the building without putting up a fight. But if he did… they had the power to put a thousand pieces of lead per minute into Carmen, into anyone who happened to be in the way. It was likely he was following these men to his death, he didn’t need to bring anyone else with him. Wresting his arm from the other’s grasp he strode forward confidently, moving around the dark haired man as he opened the door like he’d been holding it open as a courtesy to the councilor.

 

“Carmen, clear my schedule for the afternoon. I’ll be out for the rest of the day. Family emergency.”

 

Carmen looked at her boss, frowning at the four men who followed him, she had not let them in though it was possible they slipped in while she had ducked out five minutes ago to use the restroom. “But Carisi is on his way with some more notes on the Hendericks case.”

 

“Great. He can leave them on my desk.” Rafael started to walk through the antechamber, desperate to put distance between the dangerous men and the one person who knew him better than he knew himself.

 

“You want me to just let someone into your office while you are gone?” 

 

“Well it’s not just someone, it’s Carisi. And he’s just leaving a file. And I assumed you’d supervise him. The potential for disaster is minimal, even taking into account it’s Carisi.” Rafael opened the door to the hallway and just narrowly avoided crashing into the aforementioned detective. “Speak of the devil.”

 

“Counselor I have some notes to go over with you.”

 

“So I heard. But I can’t right now. Family emergency. Leave them on my desk. I am heading out for the day.” He glanced back at the men following him, taking a small note of satisfaction that their blasé affect seemed a little more strained.

 

“Is everything alright?” Sonny also looked at the group behind Rafael, no doubt noting the distinct lack of family resemblance. “This is your family counselor?”

 

“Cousin Ernesto,” Rafael gestured to the dark haired man who had the closest possible resemblance,“and his husband.” He nodded towards the blonde, again taking a small bit of joy in the way the other man’s eyes narrowed and mouth tightened. He was pushing his luck but he was on his way to die damnit. “And some family friends. Aunt Linda took a nasty fall, she’s in the hospital. We’re not sure she’s going to wake up. Have to go pay our respects.”

 

“Oh I’m so sorry to hear that.” Sonny responded earnestly, he looked to ‘Cousin Ernesto’. “Your mother?”

 

“Yes.” The man responded flatly but Sonny just nodded in sympathy.

 

“That’s really awful. I’m so sorry.” Sonny looked at the file in his hands and grimaced. “Look counselor, I’ll walk out with you. I really need to give you what we got because we need to get a warrant for tonight.”

 

“Of course” The blonde man said smoothly while walking up, grasping Rafael’s arm again and taking charge of the situation. “In fact, why don’t you ride with us to the hospital. Give him the rundown in the car.”

 

“I can’t intrude like that.” Sonny protested.

 

“Nonsense. I insist. God knows given how much time ol Rafa spends with the SVU squad you’re practically more family than we are. I’m sure Rafa could use the support of a friend right now. Isn’t that right?”

 

Rafael frowned. How long they’d been watching him to know Carisi was part of the SVU squad? Why would they want to bring Carisi along, were they after him too or was Sonny just about to become unfortunate collateral? What exactly was all this about? How was he going to get Sonny out of this? “I’m sure the detective is busy and has other things to do.”

 

“Oh come off it Rafa. You don’t have to be so stoic all the time. It’s no trouble right Detective?”

 

With a barely concealed snarl Rafael snatched the file from Carisi’s hands “I’ll get your warrant Detective. Don’t worry about that.” He started to stomp towards the elevators, the blonde man moving with him and keeping a grip on his arm. Rafael was irritated to see Carisi was following them, trailed by the other three men. He realized the man currently steering him by the arm must have motioned or said something to Carisi to get him to stay with their group. He started to open his mouth to snap at Carisi again, trying to think of anything that would make Carisi take the stairs, leave, be safe, when the blonde squeezed his arm tightly in warning and shook his head minutely. Rafael could hear the babbling of children from one of the school field trips today around the corner, Carmen was still not safe, all these people were not safe and he couldn’t risk pushing more, but if he didn’t Sonny was at risk.

 

The doors to the elevator opened immediately and the group filed in. Rafael looked toward the camera he knew was in the corner of the elevator, maybe he could mouth a warning or something, but with a sinking stomach he realized the light wasn’t on. He looked to the man still holding his arm who smirked at him, disgustingly at ease again. They’d disabled the camera somehow. As the doors slid closed “Cousin Ernesto” pulled out an elevator master key and put it in, pressing the button for the lowest garage level. 

 

Sonny frowned at this, finally catching on to how fishy this whole thing was, slowly starting to reach for his gun. 

 

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you detective.” Sonny turned to the blonde man and froze when he saw the man had a pistol pressed against Rafael’s temple. “Just keep your hands up for now.”

 

Sonny complied and “Cousin Ernesto” patted him down, removing his phone, gun and apps watch. “Easy now. What is this about?”

 

“This is about him.” The blonde man pressed the gun harder against Rafael’s head. “But like I told you, he’ll probably need the support of a friend real soon.”

 

“Look, you really haven’t done anything yet. You could still walk away from this right now. But if you remove us from this building like this, i-if you hurt him. I mean kidnapping a police officer and a district attorney, you’ll be looking at some real hard time.”

 

After all what’s a little unlawful imprisonment and intimidation amongst friends Rafael thought bitterly but wisely kept those thoughts to himself, hoping against hope that maybe Carisi’s words would maybe get them out of this but knowing better deep down. He tried not to think about the cold metal being pressed agains his head. He couldn’t look at Carisi, he’d been prepared to go to his death in order to save everyone in the building, he was not prepared to get Sonny killed along with him.

 

The elevator doors opened and the blonde man steered Rafael towards a black Ford Expedition.  One of the men who had remained silent the whole time had a grip on Carisi. ‘Cousin Ernesto’ and the other man went to the trunk, getting out a bottle of clear liquid that they splashed liberally on some rags. As they approached with those rags, Rafael and Carisi,  both realizing this could be their last chance, began to struggle in earnest to break free. They were unsuccessful before the rags were pressed against their faces, covering their nose and mouth. 

 

Quickly falling to the chemicals Rafael locked eyes with Carisi and hoped he managed to convey how sorry he was Carisi was caught up in this, how much he was going to try and protect and save Carisi, though he knew he probably was just broadcasting his blind fear. 

 

Finally everything went black.