Rafael had worked with a lot of people in his lifetime, but none of them were quite like Detective Dominick Carisi, Jr. He couldn’t put his finger on what it was about him that caught Rafael’s attention, but frankly the detective was just too good to be true.
He was incredibly smart, his detective skills were enviable, he had a special way of dealing with victims, he was quick on his feet, and extremely attractive. Carisi had that perfect “boy next door” vibe about him that made everyone drop to his feet instantly, all it took was a wink or a flash of those damn dimples and he had the world in his hands.
Everything seemed to fall into place around him. Solutions appeared out of thin air, nerves appeased, all wrongs righted themselves. And nobody questioned it. It was like they never noticed Carisi’s presence had some abnormal affect on the way the world worked, or something like that anyway. But there was something there, and Rafael was very curious.
Or maybe it was just because Rafael was attracted to him.
Carisi was very charming and could disarm Rafael easily. The only people who could do that were his mother and his grandmother, so to say he was intrigued was an understatement.
But now, in lieu of current developments, Rafael found himself seeking the detective not because of his growing infatuation, but because he trusted him, and being around Carisi was the closest he felt to being safe. So what if he was more eager than he should when the detective knocked on his door or when Rafael had to go down to the 16th? He was scared for his life.
Or something like that.
“Morning, counselor,” Carisi greeted as he walked through Rafael’s open door. “The Lieu said you wanted to talk to me.”
“Yeah, I want to tell you something,” Rafael leaned back into his chair, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Close the door, please.”
Carisi did, frowning. He was too good at reading people, Rafael should have known better. “Is everything okay?”
“Carisi, I would appreciate it if what I’m about to say didn’t leave this room.”
“Of course, Barba,” Carisi nodded curtly, a worried expression on his face. He sat on the edge of the chair across from Rafael, elbows on his knees, leaning forward. Somehow, Rafael still wished he came closer. He wished the desk wasn’t between them.
“I’ve been receiving death threats for the past two weeks,” he said. Carisi blinked rapidly. “Three days ago, someone came to me on the court steps, told me they would push me down, crack my skull open right there.”
Carisi stood up then. He circled the desk and leaned against the edge, right next to Rafael. He sighed in relief.
“And yesterday,” Rafael continued with a bit more confidence. “I came into my office, and another man was sitting on my couch. He had a gun. He asked me if I knew who sent him. Of course I don’t. So he laughed, pointed the gun at me. He said ‘it would be so easy to just end you right now’, then left.”
Rafael expected some sort of outburst. He thought Carisi would be mad at him for not telling him sooner, for putting himself at risk. But instead, Carisi leaned even closer to him and reached for his shoulder, giving it a reassuring squeeze.
“Rafael,” he called softly. Rafael gulped. “I promise you. I won’t let anybody hurt you. Do you trust me?”
The intensity of Carisi’s gaze almost had him melting off the chair, but he nodded anyway. “I do. That’s why I told you.”
“Good,” he squeezed Rafael’s shoulder again with a small smile. “I think we should talk to Olivia, though. You need a protective detail on you. If they’ve been in your office, they could show up at your apartment. Let me talk to her. We’ll sort something out.”
Rafael blinked. Why did he suddenly feel so calm about the whole thing? He almost threw up his breakfast after having a gun pointed at him the morning before. He was about to jump off his window from nerves before Carisi arrived. But now, the conversation seemed casual. His hands had stopped shaking and his mind seemed clear again.
He smiled. There really was something about Detective Carisi. “Okay,” he agreed. “Thank you, detective. I’m just -,” Rafael sighed, shaking his head.
“I get it,” he nodded and, somehow, came even closer to Rafael. “But you’re not on your own, Rafael. I’ll make sure you’re safe. At all times.”
The certainty in Carisi’s voice did not waver. There was determination in his eyes, the kind Rafael normally saw when he was working on a case. Well, perhaps he was working on a case now.
“I’m gonna call Liv,” Carisi said, but he didn’t move. “Do you have anywhere to be this morning?”
“Not until 11am,” he pulled up his schedule quickly on his phone. “I have a meeting with the DA, then lunch break, then three more meetings.”
“Okay. I’m going to call Olivia and ask her to meet us here,” he stood up. Rafael almost cursed loudly. “You’ll be okay, counselor.”
Rafael took a deep breath and pulled out files from his briefcase as he watched Carisi cross the room to sit on his couch. The couch were the man with a gun had been. He shook his head. He was safe. Carisi was here.
To say Olivia was pissed at Rafael was putting it lightly. She had the reaction he expect from Carisi first. But in the end, she sighed, ran her hand through her hair, and sat down so they could work everything out.
So that’s how Rafael got a detail outside his office and outside his apartment at all times. Carisi was the head of security, but Olivia made it clear that he was an SVU detective first and foremost. He was still going to be working their cases. Rafael was pleased to see that Carisi looked as disappointed as he felt.
But that night, Carisi was the one to walk through his apartment, checking every lock, every window, every hiding space, with a hand on his gun and an eye on Rafael.
“There’s going to be an officer downstairs in an unmarked car,” he explained as he tried forcing the window in Rafael’s room open. “And another one in your hallway.”
Rafael nodded. He wasn’t even that worried anymore. Carisi made everything sound so simple.
“But Barba,” Sonny turned to him, a serious look on his face. “If there’s any problem, call me. And I mean anything. If you’re unhappy with the detail, if you notice anything, if you remember a potential suspect, don’t hesitate.”
“I’m sure it’ll be fine,” he smiled. “Thank you, Carisi.”
The detective patted his shoulder as he left the room on his way out. Rafael felt save.
“Good night, counselor,” Sonny said, opening the front door. “And remember, call me if you need anything.”
“Don’t worry, I will.”
“Lock the door behind me, okay?,” Carisi smiled, gave him a little wave, and closed the door.
Rafael sighed. He wished Sonny could stay with him. But he wasn’t a beat cop. He was a detective with a job to do. And babysitting Rafael wasn’t on the list.
Rafael had had some trouble sleeping after the threats started. He’d stay up late, tossing and turning, or he’d wake up in the middle of the night after having a nightmare. He hardly ever managed to fall back asleep then.
But that night, sleep came easy to him. He would have made it through the whole night if something hadn’t awaken him.
In bed, Rafael froze, trying to identify what had stirred him awake.
He felt a light breeze brushing his face and naked torso. His heart started beating faster as he realized his bedroom window was open. He clearly remembered it being locked. Carisi checked it.
Rafael tried to keep his breathing under control. Slowly, with his heart about to come out through his mouth, he opened his eyes. And screamed.
He screamed because there was a figure of a man sitting on his windowsill. But not only that. He saw giant, white, soft wings coming out of said man’s back.
And everything after that happened in a flash. The man jumped up with a gasp, startled. He looked at Rafael with wide, scared eyes as his wings flexed behind him. And Rafael recognized those eyes before he processed anything else.
“Carisi?,” he yelled as the detective lost his balance and fell on his ass back into the room.
He heard banging on his door then. The officer on his hallway was calling his name, desperately asking what happened.
“Mr. Barba, I’ll knock the door down,” the cop said.
“Don’t!,” Rafael yelled back. “I’m fine! It was just a nightmare!”
“Are you sure, sir? I should search the premises.”
“I’m fine, officer.”
Carisi groaned from the floor, wincing as he tried to stand up.
“What the fuck?,” Rafael heard himself say. His heart was still thumping in his chest, his jaw dropped, his eyes wide. “What the fuck is happening?”
“Barba, shhhh,” Carisi said as he turned to him, kneeling by the foot of his bed. “It’s me. You’re fine.”
“What the fuck do you mean?,” Rafael pulled away from the detective. “What the fuck is that?,” he asked pointing at the wings.
“Oh,” Carisi looked over his shoulder and suddenly the wings were gone. “Barba, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. You were sleeping so soundly, I didn’t think you would hear me.”
Rafael blinked. “What the fuck?”
Carisi had the nerve to laugh. “I thought you were a master at words, counselor.”
“I don’t know what about this situation makes you think it’s appropriate to make jokes, detective ,” Rafael threw his blankets away from himself and stood up, looking for a shirt. “You better start explaining yourself.”
“Well,” Carisi stood up, stretching his arms above his head. “First of all, please forgive me for scaring you. I know you’re stressed enough as it is -”
“Carisi,” Rafael turned to him with a murderous look. “Start by explaining why the fuck you have wings.”
“Right,” he nodded sheepishly. “Of course. Well, I’m a guardian angel. That would be why.”
Rafael blinked again, staring at Carisi with his mouth agape. “You’re what ?”
Carisi chuckled and sat at the end of Rafael’s bed, looking way too amused. “I’m a guardian angel. Your guardian angel, actually. I was sent to protect you.”
“Is this a joke?," he asked in a sharp tone, looking hard at the detective. Carisi shook his head with a soft smile. “God, I’m gonna need coffee,” Rafael rolled his eyes and marched into the kitchen.
What the hell did he mean by guardian angel ? This wasn’t a fairytale. Things like that didn’t exist. Right?
But then again, that did explain a lot of things about Carisi. He did fit the general idea of what an angel could be. Rafael shook his head. That was insane.
He looked up to see Carisi watching him from his bedroom’s doorway. “Do you want some?,” Rafael asked as he turned his coffee maker on and grabbed a cup.
“No, I’m good,” Carisi said, walking into the room in tentative steps. “Barba, I’m really sorry.”
“So you’ve said, Carisi,” he replied sharply. “Do you want to explain to me what you were doing sitting on my windowsill like a pervert?”
Carisi looked taken aback. “I was protecting you.”
“Protecting me?,” he snorted. “By almost giving me a heart attack?”
“I could keep apologizing, but,” Carisi shrugged. “When you told me about the guy in your office, it worried me. Because my job is to keep you safe, and I failed there. I don’t know if I would have made it in time. So I wanted to be close to you.”
“I feel like I’m losing my mind,” he muttered. “What do you mean when you say you’re my guardian angel? We met two years ago. Was I on my own all this time?”
“Well, no,” Carisi shook his head and walked further into the room, pulling up a stool and sitting by the kitchen island. “I was assigned to you two years ago. You had someone else before me."
“Who?,” he narrowed his eyes, wrecking his brain to check if anyone else stood out.
“I don’t know.”
The coffee maker beeped then, and Rafael pinched the bridge of his nose before serving himself a big cup. He took a few long sips before setting the cup down. The taste and warmth were comforting and he felt calm again. He looked at Carisi with a raised eyebrow.
“Do you have any superpowers?,” he asked.
Carisi snorted and shook his head. “I’m not a superhero, Barba. I’m a guardian angel.”
“Yeah, like that makes any of this make any more sense.”
“Alright, alright,” Carisi threw his hand up in surrender. “We don’t call them superpowers. They’re more like gifts.”
Rafael rolled his eyes dramatically. “Then by all means, angel , what are your gifts ?”
“Well, I can fly, obviously,” he started, casually counting on his fingers. “But also I’m good at sensing when things are about to go down, so I’m able to prevent a lot of crisis. My presence is calming, so if nerves start going haywire I can sooth people easily. I’m also stronger than a human being, you know. Like I got more stamina, more physical capacity. And, and this is the coolest part if you ask me, my wings are also shields. So let’s say, if someone shot at you, I could protect you.”
Rafael’s mouth was hanging open again, but he closed it slowly and stood a little taller. “Are you immortal?”
“No,” Carisi said, but seemed to reconsider his answer. “I mean, my human form is mortal. If I get shot in the heart I’ll die. Or when I’m 95 and my kidneys fail. But then my spirit moves to another body.”
“How old are you then?,” he tilted his head curiously
“Oh, I’m 35,” he waved a dismissive hand. “My conscience was born when this body was born, so I don’t have like centuries of knowledge accumulated or anything. We reset every time.”
Rafael considered it for a moment, taking another sip of his coffee. “Sounds like reincarnation.”
Carisi seemed to have a sudden realization as he connected the dots. “Yeah, that fits the bill.”
They were silent for a while. Rafael drinking his coffee and Carisi watching him carefully. This was almost too much to process, but Rafael still had a lot of questions. So he kept going.
“How do people not see you flying around with huge wings?”
“Oh, right!,” Carisi perked up on his seat. “That’s another thing. I can actually alter human brain waves so they don’t see me.”
Rafael raised both his eyebrows. “You become... invisible?”
“Not quite. I can still be heard, and you could still bump into me, after all I have to do my goddamn best to protect you, and sometimes that happens to be in a very busy place, so I disappear. Wanna see?,” he asked excitedly and, before Rafael could reply, vanished.
“Shit,” Rafael jumped back, looking around for the detective.
“I’m still here,” he heard Carisi’s voice right in front of him, but Rafael couldn’t see him.
He blinked and suddenly Carisi was there again, a big grin on his face. “Fuck!,” Rafael jumped again, spilling coffee on his shirt. “Don’t ever do that again.”
Carisi laughed. Rafael tried shooting him a glare, but he was smiling.
“Can I see your -,” he hesitated, gesturing towards the space around Carisi. “The wings?”
Carisi looked at him curiously, then rolled his shoulders very discreetly. In a blink of an eye, his wings opened up behind him. Rafael gasped, taking another back, his hip bumping the kitchen counter. The wings were wider than they seemed before.
Nevertheless, it was a beautiful view. They were a pure pearlescent white. They looked incredibly soft, but strong and solid. It looked like an actual shield, but involved in a fluffy cushion. Rafael was in awe of its elegant curves, at the way the feathers seemed to sparkle under direct line.
He wanted to ask if he could reach out and touch, feel how soft they really were. But when he looked at Carisi, the words died in his throat. His cheeks were flushed pink, his eyes somehow looked almost neon blue, the pupils so small it almost seemed unnatural, but he wore a soft look of open admiration. Carisi was even more stunning like this, his hair falling freely on his forehead, dressed casually in a loose white shirt and grey sweatpants, giant wings framing his lean, tall body.
Rafael wanted to reach out and touch him too.
“It’s amazing to me that you’re not scared of it,” Carisi said in a small voice.
“How could I?,” Rafael smiled softly. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but you’re an angel, Carisi. And this,” he said, pointing at his wings,”this is just marvelous.”
Carisi blushed even deeper, but his wings stretched out proudly. Rafael laughed.
“Okay counselor, I’m sure you’ve got a load more questions, and I promise to answer all of them, but another officer is about to knock on your door and I’m not supposed to be here, so unless you want to explain that, I’m gonna go.”
“What, you can predict the future too?,” Rafael asked as he watched Carisi sprint to his bedroom. “Why don’t you just… turn invisible?! Carisi!”
But he was gone. And five seconds later, there was a loud banging on his door.
Throughout the morning, Rafael kept a notepad by his side, jotting down questions he meant to ask Carisi. The detective-slash-guardian angel was supposed to meet him at his office after lunch for a recap on the security detail.
The more Rafael thought about it, the more fascinated he became. There was something oddly refreshing about the idea of someone thinking he deserved to be protected at such lengths. But it also made Carisi that much more appealing.
Earlier that day, when they were standing in the kitchen, Carisi’s wings around him, he had never looked more gorgeous. It made Rafael’s heart skip a beat at the memory. And the fact that the detective had been on guard at his window as he slept slowly turned from a little creepy to extremely comforting.
So Rafael found himself smiling more times than he cared to admit. Because he was safe. Carisi would always make sure of that. That was, quite literally, his mission on Earth. And damn if that didn’t make Rafael feel special.
Rafael was just back from his lunch when Carmen announced Carisi’s arrival. He came into the room with a big smile and sat on the chair across from Rafael.
“I kind of expected you to come through the window,” Rafael said, amused.
Carisi laughed. “Carmen is right outside, I couldn’t materialize into your office without going through her. I have to be discreet.”
“She’s paid to keep discretion.”
“Considering what I am, I’d said she isn’t paid enough to be discreet about that ,” Carisi gave him a long look.
“So no ones at SVU knows?,” Rafael tilted his head. He imagined at least Olivia would know.
“Nope,” Carisi shook his head.
Rafael considered him for a moment, leaning forward. Out of the list of questions he made, there was one underlined. It was the one he considered the most important.
“Carisi, you told me you can control human brain waves so that we don’t see you,” he said, using a tone similar to the one he saved for cross-examinations. “So why did you let me see you?”
Carisi looked shocked. His jaw dropped and his eyes widened. But slowly, the shocked look turned into a pleased one, a smile showing off the detective’s dimples. “Because I wanted you to see me.”
Well, now Rafael was shocked. He didn’t expect all that candor and the openiness in Carisi’s expression. “Why?”
“Technically, under dangerous circumstances, I’m allowed to tell the person I’m assigned to protect that I’m… protecting them,” he shrugged casually.
“And what was so dangerous about last night?,” Rafael snorted. “Was I about to fall off the bed?”
Carisi rolled his eyes. “You’re being threatened, Barba. That’s dangerous.”
“Do you have a commanding officer angel or something?,” he asked with narrowed eyes.
“Yes,” Carisi nodded, confused by the question. “She’s more like a manager.”
“And how does she feel about you telling me?”
Carisi gulped. “She doesn’t know you know.”
Rafael raised both eyebrows at him.
“Okay, I just wanted you to know,” he threw his hands up in surrender. “It gets lonely, keeping it all in, and it would be easier for me to protect you if I didn’t have to keep sneaking around.”
Rafael wasn’t entirely convinced, but he nodded along anyway. “Does it hurt? Keeping your wings concealed all the time?”
“Not really,” he subconsciously rolled his shoulders. “It gets uncomfortable after a few hours, but I go into an empty room for a while and stretch them out.”
“You don’t have to keep them hidden when we’re alone,” Rafael said with what he thought was a nonchalant shrug.
Carisi seemed to consider it for a moment, giving Rafael a curious glance. Then, with a small smile, he rolled his shoulders one more time and his wings opened up behind him. Rafael felt his breath catch in his throat again. He still couldn’t believe how beautiful they were.
“You like them, don’t you?,” Carisi asked with a smug smile. “Come on, I know they’re cool.”
“ Cool ?,” Rafael rolled his eyes. “You do have a way with words, detective.”
“Whatever,” he waved Rafael off and stood up. “You can touch it if you want.”
Rafael felt his entire face heating up. “What?”
“Come here,” Carisi offered him a hand.
Swallowing hard, Rafael stood up. He stepped around his desk to stand in front of Carisi, suddenly feeling nervous.
“Go ahead,” Carisi encouraged with a grin.
“Don’t get cocky about it,” Rafael joked.
Carisi chuckled, but didn’t say anything. He squared his shoulders and waited for Rafael to do something.
The ADA took a deep breath and raised his hand, slowly reaching out to touch Carisi’s wings. God, that was a weird concept to wrap his head around. But he raised his chin a little higher and touched it.
He almost gasped loudly. The feathers were extremely soft, and it gave his fingertips a tingling sensation that almost made him giggle.
He felt braver then, pressing his whole palm into it, petting it slowly and carefully, not wanting to pull at any of the feathers accidentally. Rafael heard Carisi’s breath hitch and looked at him. His cheeks were flushed again, but his eyes were darker. His jaw was set, his look determined.
Before he even leaned in, Rafael knew Carisi was about to kiss him. And he welcomed it without hesitation.
Rafael wasn’t surprised to find the kiss was perfect. Carisi’s lips were soft, and they moved in synch. Rafael felt Carisi’s arms around him, pulling him closer, and a moment later, his wings hugged Rafael as well. He shivered despite himself, his body tingling.
Carisi pulled back then, smiling. “You have a thing for my wings.”
Rafael laughed. “I’ll confess to that if you tell me the real reason why you told me you’re an angel.”
Carisi looked at him sheepishly, but hugged him tighter anyway. “I wanted to impress you,” he said, sneaking a hand between them to smooth Rafael’s tie. “I wanted you to see me as I am and not another detective you work with. I wanted us to be closer friends, so I thought sharing such a big secret would be a step in the right direction. And I wanted you to know, for sure, that you would be safe. Safer than you’d be with just a protective detail on your door.”
Rafael blinked. And kissed him again. Hungrier, deeper. “Well, consider me impressed,” he said, breathless. “And I’m glad I got the most attractive guardian available to protect me.”
“How many guardian angels have you met?,” Carisi teased.
“I wouldn’t know. But I’m glad it’s you,” Rafael pecked him on the lips. “Now, I have a list of questions I’d like to ask.”
“Of course, counselor,” he smiled and looked at Rafael’s lips. “But can I answer them in five minutes?”
Rafael smiled. “Make it fifteen,” he said, and kissed Carisi again, no worries in his mind.
He was safe.