Carl had always been a strange child. Whispers would follow him wherever he went.
‘Strange boy,’ they would mutter as though he couldn’t hear them. ‘He’s always alone, doesn’t he have any friends?’
His mother tried to explain away his loneliness. After all, why would he need friends if he was always playing with his older brothers? Though she couldn’t really call what his brothers did playing. Ronald and Henry would tie him up and leave him hidden, under the bed, in the closet, he would be trapped in darkness for hours.
When Carl was five his youngest sibling was born, unexpected yes, but the little girl that their mother had always dreamed of. Carl would watch silently as his mother sang Emily all of the songs that she used to sing him. The first seeds of jealousy left a bitter taste in his mouth, they continued to grow as his sister did.
His resentment didn’t seem to bother his parents, they were far too busy doting over the beautiful little girl. Soon Emily was laughing, running and talking. His parents had their perfect little family--
Carl took a deep breath and extracted himself from his memories. Group therapy had always taken him to places he’d rather not visit, his fellow prisoners sunken faces eagerly awaited whatever he told them. Bronwyn had called him a visionary, a rare kind of storyteller. As flattered as Carl was he was loathe to believe her.
She looked at him with soft brown eyes and an overtly eager smile. Carl supposed that she was trying to make him fall in love with her, she had tried the same thing with William Lewis after all. Like Carl, Bronwyn was a rare breed, she was a soulmate anomaly.
No one knew what determined the names on ones wrists, nor could anyone quite work out what the names meant. The current reigning theory was one name was your soulmates, and the other was the name of your greatest enemy.
Bronwyn’s wrists were empty, just pasty white skin with a smattering of freckles. She displayed them freely, without shame. Maybe that was one of the reasons she sought out the company of criminals, she saw herself as one of them, an outcast from society.
Carl looked at his own wrists, just like Bronwyn he was an anomaly. But not for having no names, Carl was far more unique than that. Carl had a single name on both his wrists.
Hidden beneath the leather cuff on his right wrist the name was written in elegant loops, as though someone had lifted Carl’s wrist and signed it with a pen. Under a matching cuff, on his left wrist the name was hastily scrawled in a similar hand, the loops were rougher, harsher.
The name bought images of soft smiles and cerulean eyes to his mind. Silvery hair that looked so soft that he wished he’d ran his fingers through it when he had the chance. Lips so pink he wished that he had the chance to kiss them--
“Rudnick,” a sharp voice snapped him out of this thoughts. “You have a visitor.”
Carl’s stomach swirled as he tried to hide the smile that threatened to bloom across his face. There was only one visitor he had received since he was incarcerated, one Detective Dominick Carisi. Carl was almost certain that the detective was his soulmate, he could feel it with every fiber of his being.
He eagerly followed the guard to the interview room, trying not to look too pleased with the situation. As the rules were slowly rattled off to him, Carl allowed himself to be patted down before he was sat in the interview room and left to wait for the detective.
He didn’t have to wait long, minutes later Dominick Carisi’s familiar figure walked into the room. He flashed Carl a smile and sat down across from him. “How’re you going Doc?”
“Fine thank you, detective.” Their conversations always started the same way, an exchange of pleasantries before Dominick would lean forward and let Carl know exactly why he was there.
This time appeared to be different though. Dominick kept his questions light and friendly, inquiring as to how he was fairing, if he was being treated well. Satisfaction settled low in Carl’s stomach, having worked with the detective he was aware that Dominick wasn’t usually this natural with most prisoners.
When Carl finally glanced at the clock on the wall, a tight frown curled at his mouth. It had been almost an hour, Dominick would need to leave soon. He looked back at Dominick, there was something unusual hiding in his normally gentle blue eyes.
“So, uhhh, doc,” there was an anxious tremor to his voice. “How about I walk you back to your cell?”
“Oh?” Carl felt his face grow warm, this wasn’t what usually transpired. His interest was piqued. “That would be wonderful.”
Dominick nodded once before he rose to his feet, he moved over to the door and knocked once. Carl strained to overhear his conversation with the guard, but Dominick turned to him, a tight smile on his face.
As they walked back through the prison, Carl kept finding excuses to lengthen their stroll, collecting some much needed items along the way. It wasn’t until they reached the cell block that Dominick blurted out the actual reason for his visit.
“Gregory Yates is being transferred here,” the sheepish look on Dominick’s face said it all, he was worried about Carl. “I just wanted to give you a heads up.”
“So kind of you to think of me detective,” even though his heart was hammering against his chest, Carl kept his tone neutral. “Yates wants to be here?”
Carl tried not to be too disappointed by the response. “Well, whatever Yates wants, I suppose.”
“Listen,” Dominick said, his tone was full of caution. “You do have the right to transfer out when he moves in.”
“Oh, dear no,” He scoffed. “That wouldn't do.” Transferring would delay his carefully crafted plans. “But to be perfectly candid, I'm not worried about Yates. I can handle that pedestrian sociopath. I always have.
“Well, nobody wants to put you in jeopardy,” Carl believed him.
“Well, thank you, Detective,” Carl’s smile was gentle. “You're a gentleman.” He glanced at Dominick, hoping that he would understand. “And, whatever happens going forward, I appreciate you showing me respect.”
“Of course,” Dominick flashed a grin.
He couldn’t help but ask, “Might I ask what kind of leverage he used to get transferred?”
“Come on, Doc,” Dominick teased. “You know I can't tell you that.
“Well, in any case,” Carl glanced away. “You were kind to visit again. I hope you're not still eating bacon.” He watched as a blush crept up Dominick’s neck. “You did see the World Health Organization study, yes?
“Yeah, yeah,” he muttered. “I saw that. I've been trying to cut back.”
“Good,” Carl nodded firmly. “People always say life is short, but, in fact, life is mostly, of course, very long. You want to stay in your best shape.”
“Thanks, Doc.” An almost fond smile played at Dominick’s mouth. “You gonna be okay?”
“Some days will be better than others,” Carl sighed. “I will carry on I’m sure.”
“Well thanks for letting me see you,” his smile wide.
“Wait, detective,” Carl didn’t want him to leave, he reached out and grabbed Dominick by the arm, causing the blond to flinch. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s all good,” Dominick straightened himself. “Is there something you need help with?”
Carl wanted to ask about the names hidden under the police issued cuffs that Dominick was wearing. He was desperate to know if his name was one of the ones etched into the detective’s skin.
“No,” he finally answered, allowing himself to lean back on the door of his cell. “I just enjoy intelligent company.”
“Thanks, doc,” Carl watched as Dominick’s face turned an enticing shade of pink, pleased at the result of his statement. “Most people don’t see me as intelligent.”
“They would be wrong,” Carl continued politely. “You did study law and work as a detective full time. I struggled through medical school.”
“I know that’s not true, doc,” Dominick chuckled.
Carl cocked his head to the side. “Oh?”
“I read your transcript,” he flushed pink again “You graduated top of your class.”
“Almost,” the correction was out before he could stop it. “Gregory always loved to remind me of that...” An awkward silence descended over the two of them.
“Well he always rubbed me the wrong way,” Dominick said, his smile fell as he glanced at the apple watch on his wrist. “Sorry, doc, I’ve got to go. Barba said he’d help me study for the Bar.”
A bitterness clawed at Carl’s belly, he had never enjoyed the almost reverent way that Dominick said the prosecutor’s name. Still, Carl would grant Dominick the chance to bask in the few moments that Barba allowed him. He wasn’t Dominick's soulmate after all.
“A pleasure as always, detective,” Carl held out his hand.
Dominick shook it firmly. “Likewise doc.”
Within an instant he was gone and once more Carl was alone. He took a deep breath and sighed, he knew his run of the prison was too good to last. Still, even though Gregory would be joining him soon, he still had Bronwyn. He still had his plans.