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At The Dark End of The Street

Chapter Text

“You need a vacation, Counselor.”

Carmen let Carisi into the ADA’s office and slid the door behind him closed. Rafael barely glanced up from the ever-increasing pile of paperwork on his desk to greet him. “I’d love one, but you and I both know your Sergeant would call me back to work before I even left the city,” Rafael said, still not looking at Carisi.

“No rest for the wicked, am I right?” Carisi said as he sat down across from Rafael. He finally looked up from his desk and narrowed his eyes at Carisi. Eventually a small smile settled on his lips and he leaned back, crossing his arms over his chest.

“What can I do for you, Detective?”

“I just wanted to see how you were holding up after the Rudnick trial,” Carisi answered.

Rafael was taken aback. He knit his eyebrows and said “We won. He pled guilty and got a life sentence. What’s there to lose sleep over?”

“Well, you know, he was the M.E. and all so that’s gotta be a major headache, right? I mean, reopening all those cases and all the appeals that’ll be coming, not to mention the press has got to be all over—”

Rafael held up a hand and squeezed his eyes shut. “Yeah, I get it, Carisi. It’s been, uh, well. It hasn’t been fun, but,” he looked up at Carisi, “But we did the right thing. That’s what important.”

Carisi held Rafael’s gaze for a moment longer, then looked down at his lap and smiled. “Yeah. That’s what important.”

Rafael leaned back in his chair and studied the young man sitting across from him. Well, younger. Carisi wasn’t exactly green, and he certainly wasn’t as clueless as everyone made him out to be. He was intuitive, and caring in his own way. His hair had its usual greasy sheen but it was starting to curl at the ends, and Rafael noted the hints of gray that graced the sides of his head. Carisi had on his usual work ensemble, but Rafael was surprised to see a vest underneath his suit jacket. Rafael made note of that, too. Carisi’s tie hung loosely around his neck and the top buttons of shirt were undone, like he had just gotten off work. Carisi looked—well, Carisi looked good. And Rafael couldn’t help noticing that.

Rafael, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure he could say the same about himself. Carisi was right, the fallout from the Rudnick trial had been a disaster. Just that day he’d fielded no less than five calls from defense attorneys looking to reopen their cases, several calls from the DA and the mayor, and he was dodging the press at every turn. What was that song? Blood in the water. Rafael hadn’t even realized it was late until Carisi came in. At some point during the day he’d lost his jacket, then his vest, then the tie. He knew he had bags under his eyes, because he’d barely slept since Olivia told him Rudnick was a suspect. His hair was disheveled, and he hadn’t had the time to touch up his own grays. He was also sporting a serious five o’clock shadow.

All in all, he looked like a mess, and felt even worse.

At some point during his musing, Rafael noticed Carisi looking back at him in the same studied way. He had an open, hungry look on his face; one that Rafael knew was mirrored on his own. Huh. What’s that about? He made a split-second decision.

“It’s late. Have you eaten yet?” Rafael asked as he stood to get his jacket and vest back on.

Carisi looked surprised, but smiled. “Yeah. No! I mean, no, I haven’t eaten. Yeah, I’d like to get some dinner. With you. If that’s what you’re offering.”

Rafael lifted an eyebrow and worked the buttons of his vest closed. “There’s a bar around the corner. And before you say anything, yes, they do serve food.”


 

“So, how’s your sister doing?”

Rafael steered them over to a quiet booth in the corner after they’d ordered their drinks and food at the bar. Carisi took off his jacket and placed on seat next to him. Rafael followed suit.

“Bella? ‘Bout to pop. Excited as hell, too,” Carisi looked pleased. “She said if it’s a boy, they’ll him after me.”

“Sonny, Jr.?”

Carisi laughed. “No, no. Dominick. Probably call him ‘Trey’ or something. My pop is Dominick Sr., I’m Junior, so.” Just then, the waitress arrived with their drinks. Scotch for Rafael, a beer for Carisi. 

“Dominick?” Rafael rolled the name over his tongue. He liked the way it sounded. “That’s a good Italian name.”

“You know, Counselor, most people call me Sonny.” Carisi took a long sip of his beer and held Rafael’s eye. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. Rafael let himself track the movement for a second before taking a swig of his own drink.

“Well, Detective, most people call me Rafael,” Rafael said, and took another sip of his scotch. God help me.

Carisi laughed at that, too. “We both know that’s not true, Barba. I don’t think anyone’s called you Rafael since you were in diapers.”

“Not true! I think a teacher in high school tried once.”

“I’m sure that didn’t last long, huh?”

“No. No, but you can.” Rafael smiled. “Call me Rafael, that is.”

“Then you can call me Sonny,” Carisi–Sonny–replied. He brought the beer bottle up to his lips. “Rafael.”

Hearing Sonny say his name like that, with that look in his eyes, it sent a thrill down his spine. This is not a good idea, Rafael.

Their food arrived then, sparing Rafael the need to respond. Sonny ate about as gracefully as one could have expected and Rafael watched him while he picked at his salad. He used the time to study the detective a little closer. They weren’t sitting far from each other, and Rafael could smell his cologne. Sonny had long since shaved his mustache but now there was a hint of stubble on his jaw. Rafael took another bite of his salad. Sonny scarfed down his burger and fries like he hadn’t eaten in days. It was almost charming. Almost. Rafael refilled his scotch and Sonny got another beer. They sat in a friendly silence until –

“So, the Rudnick case…”

“Ah, and there’s that headache I’ve been avoiding,” Rafael groaned.

“No, just hear me out, alright? You know I’ve been going to law school at night—"

“I am all too aware of that—”

“—and I’ve been thinking, y’know, maybe I could help out? Just looking over paperwork or-or maybe reinterviewing witnesses, or something? It’d be a good way to get some experience, and you’d get some help too, so I figured, y’know…” Carisi trailed off, waiting for Rafael’s answer.

So that’s what this was about. He just wanted a line on his resume. You’re a fool, Rafi, if you thought he’d—

“That’s what we have paralegals for, Carisi. And I’m sure Liv needs all the help she can get right now.”

“Oh, yeah, I just thought—”

Rafael cut him off. “It’s fine. Thank you for offering, but my office will manage just fine. We’ve certainly dealt with worse.” He drained the rest of drink. His phone buzzed in his pocket. He barely glanced at it before he said “Speaking of which, it’s probably time I go. I have court at 8 tomorrow.”

He started to gather his things, and Carisi followed suit. “I’ll pick up the tab, don’t worry about it,” Carisi said, and started towards the bar. Rafael grabbed his arm to stop him.

“No, it’s fine. Let me.” Rafael kept his hand on Carisi’s arm. His sleeves were rolled up to the elbow, and Carisi looked down where his forearm met Rafael’s hand. Rafael instantly let go and Carisi murmured a “Yeah, yeah, go ahead.”

Rafael went off to pay the bill, and when he turned to leave, he found the detective waiting for him at the door.

“I had a good time tonight, Rafael.” Carisi looked like he meant it.

Rafael looked at his phone, and then at Carisi. “Yeah, me too.”

Carisi perked up, just a bit. “Maybe you’ll let me pay for dinner next time?”

Next time. Next time, I won’t let myself be fooled by bedroom eyes and sly smiles. Rafael laughed just a little.

“Maybe. Good night, Detective.”

Chapter Text

 

Rafael was still dodging reporters on the courthouse steps, even weeks after Rudnick’s trial concluded. They haven’t moved on to something shinier yet? Vultures. He pulled his coat collar up and kept his head down.

That wasn’t enough to keep everyone away, however.

“Hey, Counselor, wait up!” What is it now?

Carisi came bounding down the marble steps, his long coat flapping behind him as he tried to catch up with Rafael. He looked much more put together than he did a week ago, in Rafael’s office, but now he was in a significantly less good mood. He seemed upset over something, and Rafael had the feeling he was about to find out what.

“Walk with me, Detective.”

Carisi sped up to keep pace with the ADA. “Listen, the McCrae case—”

“I told Liv that there’s nothing I can do about that. It isn’t even my case. They called in O’Dwyer to handle it.”

“Exactly! I mean, what’s he doing trying an assault case? Isn’t he white-collar crime?”

“The city wants to send a message, and O’Dwyer has the best conviction rate in the county.”

Carisi stopped in his tracks. “And the brass really thinks this is the best case to send a message with? Darius is fifteen; he showed genuine remorse. He wrote her a letter, for God’s sake! They wanna attach a hate crime charge in addition to manslaughter. He could be looking at 25 years.”

Rafael stopped too. “He won’t get the full sentence. And I understand, trust me, I do. But it’s out of my hands. And—” he paused to consider his words, “and this isn’t a perfect case. But he and those other boys did go after that girl. Called her slurs. She was targeted, she died, because she was transgender. And I’m not so sure we should just let that go, no matter how sorry he is.”

This wasn’t the response Carisi had been looking for, and he seemed to get even more agitated. “So that’s it. Darius is the sacrificial lamb because sending a message is more important than a kid’s life. Got it.” He started to walk back towards the courthouse, shaking his head.

“Hey!” Rafael called after him. Carisi stopped and turned around. Rafael looked at his watch. “Look, I have to meet with a witness in a half hour, but after that, if you’re free, let’s grab lunch. Okay? We can talk about this.”

That seemed to soothe Carisi just a bit, and the pinched look on his face softened slightly. “Yeah, sure. Let me know where to meet you.” He turned and bounded back up the stairs.

What are you doing, Rafael?

He shook his head and started toward his office. This time, he told himself, he’d be on guard. This was just a lunch between coworkers to discuss a work issue. Nothing more, nothing less. It had nothing to do with the wounded look on Carisi’s face, or the righteous anger in his voice. No, not at all.


 

meet me at bruno’s in 30

see you there


 

Rafael decided against ordering a scotch with his lunch. Drinking at noon wasn’t a good look, no matter how much he wished for liquid courage. Especially when Carisi walked through the door, still looking thoroughly pissed. It took him a second to find Rafael in semi-seclusion in the corner, and when he did, his face didn’t lighten at all. He stalked over, took off his jacket, sat down, and stared at Rafael. Neither of them said anything for a moment. Then—

“So, what did you—”

“I know that you’re upset—"

They looked at each other, and Carisi almost smiled. Rafael made a motion that said “you first”.

“Darius. There’s really nothing you can do?”

Rafael shook his head. “Carisi, it’s not that simple. I know—I know you want to help him. The bench trial is a good strategy, but I doubt there’s a judge or jury in New York that’ll let him off scot free. I tried to get this case to stay in family court, but the D.A. and O’Dwyer overruled me.”

“Okay. Okay, I know you tried. And I want justice for Avery, too. I do. I just don’t think putting Darius in jail for the rest of his life is what she would have wanted. I don’t see how that’s justice.” Sonny ran his fingers through his hair, temporarily dislodging the carefully styled coif. He started to roll his shirtsleeves up and looked at the menu.

They sat there quietly until the waitress came to take their order. Rafael thanked her and turned back to Carisi. He didn’t look angry anymore. Now he just looked defeated.

“How’s your sister? I heard she had the baby,” Rafael tried. It was maybe a little manipulative to bring up Carisi’s family, but he knew it would distract the detective, if just for a moment.

Carisi perked up and smiled. “Yeah, yeah, she did. No Dominick III, I’m afraid, but the baby’s healthy, Bella’s healthy.” Carisi pulled out his phone and started looking for photos. “She’s perfect, Rafael. Sweetest little thing I’ve ever seen. Lucky for her, she inherited the Carisi good looks, too.” He passed his phone over to Rafael, who scrolled through the pictures.

Rafael was normally of the opinion that most newborns looked exactly alike. Sonny’s niece wasn’t really an exception—not that Rafael would ever say that to the man’s face—but he did stop at a picture of Carisi holding the baby close to his chest, looking at her with all the love in the world written on his face. He really does wear his heart on his sleeve. Rafael’s heart seized, just a bit. And he did have to admit, it was a cute baby.

“Beautiful. What’s her name?” Rafael handed the phone back to Carisi.

“Julia Marie Sullivan.” Carisi put his phone back into his pocket. He was still smiling.

“Not Dominique?” Rafael teased.

 “Very funny, Barba. No, I think they’re saving that one.” Carisi looked up, suddenly much more serious. “Holding her, it reminded me why I do this job, y’know. I was looking at her, and all I was thinking about was how I’d do anything to protect her. I work this job to make the world safer for her. But this case, I mean. I can’t imagine what Avery’s parents are going through. What Darius’ mother is going through. There’s no right answer here. Two families are destroyed. And that, that makes me wonder what I’m doing here.”

Rafael looked down and took a sip of water. He considered his words carefully.

“I know this has been rough for you. This case, it isn’t easy. You’re right, there’s no easy answer. And it isn’t fair. But Carisi,” he stopped. “Sonny. You do good work. You care about the victims, and that’s more than most cops in this city can say. You can’t let one tough case stop you from helping all those other kids out there.”

Carisi shook his head. But then he smiled, and Rafael figured he must’ve said something right.

“Never made you for a pep talk kinda guy, Counselor.”

Rafael laughed. “Never made you for the kinda guy who would need one, Detective.”

Their food arrived. It felt like the dreary feeling that had settled over the table earlier had lifted.

“So, how’s Fordham Law going?” Rafael asked in between bites of his lunch.

“Seriously? You really wanna know?” Carisi (Sonny, Rafael told himself, you can call him Sonny here) looked a little shocked that someone had asked about law school.

“Yeah, I do.”

Sonny talked for a bit about his work load, what it was like going back school after so long, what he was learning. Rafael knew almost every case Sonny excitedly rattled on about, had been in the courtroom for some of them, off but didn’t interrupt him. It was refreshing, in a way, to hear someone talk about the law like it was interesting, instead of the way he and his seasoned colleagues tossed around court cases and Latin phrases mildly, just trying to get what they want.

“We were reading about this case, right? Snyder v. Louisiana.”

“I heard about that, the guy who murdered his ex-wife’s boyfriend?”

“Yeah. So, he’s on death row for years. Tries appeal after appeal until finally, he gets this civil rights lawyer who argues that he was denied a fair trial, because the prosecution dismissed all the black jurors and the jury that handed down the death penalty was all white. And apparently, the prosecutor kept making references to the OJ Simpson trial and the guy was so doped up on antidepressants he couldn’t think straight. Anyway, it goes all the way to the Supreme Court and they overturn the guilty verdict and set the guy free. The state had a rock-solid case, they didn’t need to stack the cards against him like that. It was crazy.”

Rafael didn’t respond. In fact, he hadn’t even realized Sonny had stopped talking. He was too busy taking in the sight of the man sitting across from him. When Sonny talked about law school, or his family, his eyes lit up. He gesticulated more, and it seemed like he could go on and on if no one stopped him. People usually did stop him, but Rafael had no intention of doing that. I must be getting soft in my old age. Something about Sonny charmed him, and it wasn’t just his good looks (though Sonny wasn’t lying about the Carisi genetics). Rafael had to admit that he liked having the detective around. Maybe, one day, he’d even tell Sonny that.

Rafael only realized he’d been staring when Sonny said “Cat got your tongue, Counselor? What, did I finally manage to silence the great Rafael Barba?” Sonny smiled slowly, and this was a different sort of smile than the one that graced his face when he was talking about his niece. This was the smile from a week ago: sly and inviting and little bit hungry.

“No, I’ve just gotten spectacularly good at tuning you out.” Rafael didn’t mean that at all, but Sonny didn’t take it personally. He just laughed. It was low and quiet, like it was a secret he’d decided to share with just Rafael.

The waitress appeared again, asking how they’d like to split the check. Before Rafael could respond, Sonny was taking the bill and pulling out his wallet.

“I owe you one, remember?”

That’s right, Rafael had picked up the last tab. Sonny was just returning the favor. That’s all.

They gathered their things and walked out of the restaurant together. Sonny held the door open for him, and for the group of attorneys that followed after him. Rafael couldn’t help remembering all the awkward dates he went in high school where he did the exact same thing Sonny was doing now. He laughed, a little hysterically, to himself and stored that thought away for later.

They walked until they needed to part ways, Sonny back to the precinct and Rafael back to the D.A.’s office. Sonny reached over and clasped Rafael’s shoulder, too gentle to be friendly, but too casual to be intimate. Rafael resisted the urge to grab and hold Sonny’s hand.

“I’ll see you soon, huh?” Sonny’s hand was warm, even through Rafael’s suit jacket. “Counselor?”

So much for keeping my guard up.

“Sure thing, Detective.”

 

Chapter Text

“Walk me through the timeline again,” Rafael said around a mouthful of lo mein.

Sonny set down his container and looked down at the file in front of him.

“Donaldson gets to the vic’s apartment building at 11:17, gets buzzed in pretending to be the pizza guy. Heads up to the apartment and forces his way inside. Rapes her, stays for about 30 minutes, and then leaves. The actual pizza guy sees him walk out the building at 11:50. 911 gets the call from Jacqui five minutes later. Donaldson is then seen at a bar four blocks away from Jacqui’s apartment at 12:15, and credit card receipts show he stayed until closing. It’s airtight, Rafael.”

Rafael glanced up from his own file and quirked an eyebrow. “Don’t jinx me,” he said, and shoved a pile of noodles into his mouth. They ate in companionable silence, looking over case notes, until Sonny’s phone rang.

“Yeah, Sarge? Conyers Projects? Alright, I’ll pick up Rollins. Got it. See you.” Sonny put his phone back in his pocket and started to put his vest back on. “Thanks for lunch, Counselor, but duty calls.”

“Right, well, keep in touch. The Donaldson case goes to trial next week. We still need to prep your testimony,” Rafael said. He watched Sonny gather his things and noticed how he left his vest open. It was a good look. Rafael took another bite of noodles.

“Aw, don’t worry, Counselor, I’ll be back before you can miss me,” Sonny grinned as he started out the door.

“Get the hell out of my office.” Rafael smiled at Sonny’s back.

“Detective Carisi, fancy meeting you here.” Rafael recognized that voice. No rest for the wicked, indeed. Sonny looked between the two men, saw the scowl on Rafael’s face, and hightailed it out of there.

“Mr. D’Angelo, what can I do for you?” Rafael strained to sound cordial. The headache he’d managed to get rid off was threatening to come back full force.

“I’ll cut to the chase. I can see that you’re, uh,” D’Angelo looked at the door that Sonny just walked out of and back at Rafael, “busy. I’m representing Jimmy Donaldson.”

I’m pretty sure I still have a bottle of pain killers in my desk drawer.

“I won’t offer a plea, if that’s what your after.”

No wait, I ran out of that after the Brown case.

“Really? What if I had evidence your vic knew my client and invited him over that night?”

I need to buy more aspirin.


 

Rafael felt a little guilty about the ‘maternal outrage’ comment, but he stood by what he said. He remembered the Marchella Pierce case well, he’d almost been assigned to prosecute it before he moved to Manhattan. The entire city had been outraged, hell, so had he, but the trial that followed had been a near disaster for the D.A.’s office.

Rafael had had his fair share of disasters and uphill battles. Just once, he wished he had an open and shut case. No surprises, no government conspiracies. Not likely, not in my lifetime.

Rafael signaled the bartender that he was ready for another drink. Before he got it, Sonny slid into the stool next to him. The bartender took one look at him and poured another glass.

“Liv send you?”

“No. I didn’t know you’d be here, I just. I needed a drink.” Sonny looked like he needed one, too. His shirt was rumpled and coming untucked, with sweat stains lining his underarms. His vest was unbuttoned and hanging loosely off his shoulders. His face was creased with worry and disgust.

“You didn’t see it in there, Barba. It was… Jesus, it was like hell. Sweltering hot. No food anywhere. Rats. And this little—” He stops to take a sip of the scotch in front of him. “This little girl, Rafael. Her mother locked her in a cage. A cage. Like she was a dog. How do you do that? Lock your own flesh and blood in a cage and leave them to rot.”

Sonny put his head in his hands. Rafael didn’t know what to do. He wasn’t good at handling other people’s emotions, especially not someone like Sonny, who felt so openly. He opted to put a hand on Sonny’s shoulder. Sonny picked his head up but didn’t look at Rafael. He just stared ahead.

“I carried her out to the ambulance. She was limp, the whole way, but she was breathing. And I had hope, y’know? When they brought her into the hospital, I thought she’d be alright but—” Sonny choked on his words. He took another drink and fell silent.

Rafael was still at a loss for words. He rubbed Sonny’s shoulder, hoping to communicate what he couldn’t say. I’m sorry, I know it was hard, you shouldn’t have had to see that. Nothing he could say would ease the pain on Sonny’s face. Rafael felt hopeless.

They stayed quiet through their next drink. Rafael’s hand didn’t move from Sonny’s shoulder.

“So, what did D’Angelo want after I left?” Sonny’s voice almost startled Rafael.

He thought about telling him what really happened, how D’Angelo blew a hole in their case big enough for a ship pass to through, how he needed to re-interview the vic and the pizza guy, how his headache got worse with every passing second. Rafael took another look at Sonny.

“Oh, you know, what defense attorneys usually want.”

“What’s that?”

Rafael smirked, just a little bit. “A better deal than their clients deserve.”

Sonny didn’t quite laugh, because it wasn’t quite a joke, but some of the tension in his face eased a little.

Sonny excused himself to the bathroom and Rafael paid for both of their drinks. As he was gathering his things, an entirely unwelcome presence took up Sonny’s empty seat.

“What now, D’Angelo?”

“A guy can’t get a drink with a colleague?” D’Angelo put his briefcase on the bar and tried to get the bartender’s attention.

“I’ll repeat, what do you want?”

“I just wanted to know if you were considering my offer.”

Rafael resisted the urge to roll his eyes. It had been a day since D’Angelo waltzed into his office, and he’d had precious little time to think about what he was going to do with the Donaldson case. Not after Liv and Rollins pressed him to charge the DCS with Keisha’s death. The sky is always falling, isn’t it.

Just then, Sonny came out of the bathroom. Rafael caught his eye, and pleaded silently with him, all the saints, God, anyone to get him out of this conversation.

“Detective Carisi, how nice to run into you,” D’Angelo gave Rafael a knowing look, “Again.”

“I’m sure.” Sonny turned to Rafael. “Hope I’m not disturbing, but Sarge wants both of us down at the precinct.”

“I wouldn’t want to keep you, Barba. Let me you know what you decide.” D’Angelo turned back to bar with a smug look on his face. Rafael wished he could smack it off.

“What the hell is he doing here?” Sonny asked as they walked out.

“Tempting fate,” Rafael replied.


 

The press conference was a bit much, but no one’s ever accused Rafael of not having a flare for the dramatic. And he only half decided to pursue the case to spite Abraham. He was genuinely outraged at the way Keisha’s case was being handled, and the attempted coverup. We couldn’t change anything after Marchella. Maybe we’ll change something with Keisha.

The case was still shaky though. There was no guarantee the caseworkers would take the stand. He had the backlogged documents, and the mother’s testimony that she hadn’t seen Keith Musio in months, but there was no way to be sure that jury wouldn’t buy the sob story the defense was surely already cooking up. He needed more ammunition.

He took out his phone and dialed Sonny’s number.

“I hope you’re free. We’re going to visit Keith Musio at Rikers.”


 

On the surface, Rafael and Sonny’s meeting with Musio looked like a failure. But Rafael could see the guilt on the caseworker’s face, noticed how D’Angelo wouldn’t let him speak for himself. He was close to the breaking point, and Sonny, to his credit, had pushed him that much closer.

While Sonny turned back to retrieve his pen (and really, who was he kidding), Rafael escorted D’Angelo out.

“Deal’s still on the table, D’Angelo. If your client agrees to testify against his supervisors, he’ll get negligent homicide. Pretty good, considering what he’s looking at.”

“Nice try, Barba.” D’Angelo lowered his voice and contorted his face into something that was probably meant to be a smile. “You and I both know you’re only trying this case because your little Italian greyhound over there was all broken up about that girl. You’ve got nothing without Keith’s testimony and I’ll make sure the jury sees that.”

D’Angelo had been giving Rafael migraines all week, but there was the line. And maybe hearing someone as detestable as D’Angelo presume things about his relationship with Sonny, hearing him speak into existence something that wasn’t there, that couldn’t be there, maybe that was the line. Maybe it was the insinuation that Rafael didn’t care, when all he did was care and fight. Wherever the line was, D’Angelo had crossed it.

“Detective Carisi and I’s relationship is strictly professional.” Rafael lowered his voice to match D’Angelo’s whisper. “And I’m trying this case because your clients let an 8-year-old girl in their care die because they couldn’t be bothered to look after her. Her death is on their hands. I’ll make sure the jury sees that.”

D’Angelo, mercifully, seemed to be at a loss for words. He huffed and walked out.

Rafael took a moment to tamp down on the anger growing in his stomach.

“All good up here?” Sonny walked up behind Rafael and put a hand on the small of his back.

Rafael leaned into the touch for a moment before remembering where he was, and who he was with. He thought about what D’Angelo said.

“I trust you weren’t speaking with a defendant without his lawyer present.”

Sonny gave him a toothy smile. “’Course not. Just grabbing my pen.”


 

musio wants to talk. be here in 15.


 

The papers would probably call the trial a success. With all three defendants behind bars and DCS vowing to change their policies, everyone could go home and sleep soundly knowing the world was once again a safe place. Justice had been served.

Rafael wasn’t thinking about any of that as he sat at his usual bar, in his usual seat, with his usual drink. He was thinking about what Jeanette Grayson had said on the stand.

How many child abusers had he put away? How many negligent parents? And after all that, after putting children through the ordeal of a trial, how often did he check up on the victims? Logically, he knew there was no way he could possibly catch up with all of them. He’d been an ADA for years, he’d tried countless cases. But still, Jeanette’s words stuck with him. What happened to those kids after he packed up his briefcase and walked away?

“You look like I feel, Counselor.” Sonny’s voice pulled Rafael out of his downward spiral.

“I’ll try not to take that as an insult.”

“Nah, don’t. I just meant, it was a tough case.”

“They’re all tough cases, Carisi.” Rafael took another sip of his scotch.

“We aren’t at the precinct anymore. You can call me Sonny.” Sonny gave Rafael a soft look. Rafael looked back. They stayed like that, just looking, until the bartender asked Sonny what he was drinking. Rafael downed the rest of his drink while Sonny ordered a beer.

“You remember what you told me during the McCrae case?” Sonny asked.

Rafael raised an eyebrow in question.

“You told me that I can’t let one tough case stop me from helping other people. And I know, I know. They’re all tough cases. But you gotta believe that you’re doing some good, right? I mean, I believe you are.” Sonny looked hopefully at Rafael.

Despite himself, Rafael smiled warmly. “I’m surprised you actually listened to me. Didn’t think you were capable of it.”

“You ever thought of doing stand-up? I’m not sure you’re in the right field.”

They talked for bit, avoiding the subject of work. Sonny showed Rafael more pictures of his niece. Rafael told Sonny about his mother’s latest crisis, and Sonny responded with tales of his own family drama. It was nice. They fell into conversation with each so naturally.

“Hey, Rafael, listen. I’ve really enjoyed, y’know, working with you, closely, on these last few cases—”

The warmth that had been growing in Rafael turned cold. Not this again, Sonny. Not now.

“Sonny. Look, right now, Liv needs everyone she can get. I don’t need any help. I doubt you can be spared to follow me around for a week. It’s just—not the right time.” Rafael ran his fingers through his hair.

Why do you keep reminding me why you’re actually here?

“That’s not what I—okay.” Sonny stopped himself, looking hurt and confused. “Okay, I get it. Sorry to have wasted your time, Counselor.” Sonny looked down. He looked at the bottles behind the bar. He looked everywhere but at Rafael.

Rafael turned his attention back to his scotch. His extracurricular time with Sonny usually left him in a better mood, at the very least took his mind off whatever crisis demanded his attention. But now, it just left him feeling drained.

“I should go, y’know, crime never sleeps.” Sonny paid for his untouched beer and walked off.

As soon as Sonny was out of sight, Rafael’s head flopped down into his hands. He had D’Angelo’s and Jeanette’s and Sonny’s words all bouncing around in his head, mashing together and giving him a headache. He caught the bartender’s eye and ordered another drink.