The early morning sun was just beginning to filter through the buildings and Rollins sighed, taking a breather between knocking doors in and around Felipe Heredio’s last known address. Part of her wished she was back at the hospital still, even though it seemed like Dodds might be out of the woods.
The other part of her wished Barba was the one out here knocking doors.
He was the one in danger, after all.
Her cellphone rang, breaking her reverie of increasingly bitter thoughts, and Rollins answered without looking. “Rollins.”
“Det. Rollins, this is Webber with TARU.”
Instantly, she brightened. Maybe TARU had found a lead. “What’ve you got?”
“At the moment, not much,” Webber reported. “We’ve run scans on the laptop and ADA Barba’s personal email account and we’re about to start on his work email. Our scans of his personal email didn’t find much, just one email from an unknown sender with no subject and a video attachment.”
Rollins sighed. She couldn’t decide if she had hoped they’d find something more or not, but on the other hand, she had expected that most of what they’d find would be in Barba’s work email. “Forward that email me, I’ll look into. You guys just focus on the work email.”
“Will do, Detective.”
Rollins hung up and Carisi jogged up to meet her, his brow furrowed. “Hey,” she said tiredly. “Any sign of Heredio?”
He shook his head. “Who was on the phone?” he asked.
For a moment, Rollins debated telling him the full truth but looking at him, at the exhaustion that ringed Carisi’s eyes and the creases in his forehead, she knew that between Barba and now Dodds, Carisi didn’t need to worry about anything else. “TARU,” she said instead, “just letting me know that they’re analyzing Barba’s email. They’ll let me know if they find anything.”
“Good,” Carisi said distractedly. “That’s good—”
Fin joined them, cellphone in hand, his expression grim. “That was Liv,” he said shortly. “We need to get back to the hospital.”
Dodds’ death came quickly, unexpectedly, and Rollins turned away as soon as she saw the look on Liv’s face, knowing what she was going to tell them. She didn’t — she couldn’t—
Rollins only looked up when she felt someone touch her arm, and she blinked up at Carisi, whose face was pale. “The Lieu told us we should go home,” he said hoarsely. "There's nothing more we can do here."
“Yeah,” Rollins said dully. “Home.”
Carisi tried to smile but couldn’t quite manage it. “I’m going to Barba’s,” he told her. “I’m gonna, uh, check in on his security detail.”
Rollins couldn’t quite bring herself to be worried about Barba, not after everything. “He’ll be fine,” she told him tiredly. “His security detail is clean, all our people, you know that—”
“I know,” Carisi told her quickly. “But uh…” He trailed off, swallowing hard as he squinted down the hallway, and Rollins knew he was holding back tears. “I’m not gonna be able to sleep anyway so I figure I may as well make myself useful, y’know?”
Personally, Rollins suspected that Barba's security detail would find Carisi's presence anything but useful, but she couldn't quite bring herself to tell him that. “Yeah,” she said quietly. “I know.” She sighed and quickly wiped her cheeks before looking back up at him. “You want some company?”
Carisi shook his head quickly. “No, you should go home,” he said. “Kiss that baby girl of yours for me. Tell her Uncle Sonny loves her.”
Rollins smiled slightly. “I will,” she promised, squeezing his arm, and she watched as Carisi headed out, his head bowed, his hands shoved in his pockets.
She had nothing left to do but exactly that, so she went home, and she checked on Jesse, who was sleeping soundly. But like Carisi, she knew that she wasn’t going to be able to sleep. Not yet, at least.
So even though it was already technically morning, she went to the kitchen and poured herself a glass of wine before settling down on the couch, grabbing her laptop and figuring she may as well check that email that TARU forwarded her and make herself about as useful as Carisi was probably being.
It was better than sitting and drinking wine and feeling sorry for herself, after all.
She double-clicked on the video attachment and was greeted by a black screen for a second before it cut to a shot of an empty bedroom. A bedroom she vaguely recognized because she was fairly certain she had helped pick the bedspread out.
Her thoughts were confirmed by Carisi’s face swimming into view, far too close to the camera as if checking to see it on. Then he backed a few paces up and sat down on the edge of the bed, rubbing the palms of his hands nervously on his pants. “So, uh,” he started, and Rollins hovered the cursor over the red ‘x’, ready to close the video.
She should close the video.
She undoubtedly should.
But curiosity was a helluva thing.
On the video, Carisi barked a nervous laugh and shook his head. “This is such a bad idea,” he said. “Like, one of the worst ideas of all time. And, y’know, when I said that if you helped me study for the Bar, I’d do anything you want, I did not mean this. This is…” He shrugged. “This is sexual exploitation, Counselor.”
Rollins felt panic flare in her chest, her throat dry. She had expected some vague threat against Barba’s life, not the ADA blackmailing one of her best friends into this — whatever this was.
But then Carisi laughed breathily and admitted, “Or at least, it would be, if it weren’t for, uh…”
And he gestured at his crotch.
And the rather impressive erection straining the front of his slacks.
Rollins almost dropped her wineglass.
She had definitely not been expecting this.
“I don’t know—” He broke off, laughing lightly. “I don’t know how much I’m supposed to talk during this,” he confessed, flashing his dimples at the camera in a way that made Rollins wonder if Carisi knew what he was doing. If he’d realized the effect his stupid, dopey smile had on Barba.
Rollins had realized it.
Rollins had figured it out exactly two minutes into the first time she saw Barba and Carisi interact, had seen the way Barba’s eyes had darkened when Carisi grinned at some joke he had just told that was unbelievably inappropriate for the circumstances, had watched the normally composed ADA swallow, hard, before rebutting Carisi’s idiocy with a mocking indictment.
And now Carisi was smirking at the camera and sitting on the edge of his bed, his palms resting lightly on top of his thighs, his all-too-visible erection tenting his slacks and Rollins absolutely should turn this video off, because she grudgingly respected Barba and loved Carisi like a brother.
But she was also a new mother, a single mother who had just lost a colleague and who hadn’t had sex in almost a year.
And apparently, who was weak-willed to boot.
She set her laptop down and went to pour herself another glass of wine before returning to the couch, casting a guilty look at Jesse’s closed door and pressing play again.
“I mean, am I supposed to narrate?” Carisi asked, raising one hand to fiddle almost nervously with the buttons of his waistcoat. “Like you can see what I’m doing, so that seems dumb. Or, uh, am I supposed to, y’know, fantasize out loud or whatever?”
He snorted. “If you were here, I know what you’d say.” He pressed the heel of his palm against his erection, swallowing hard before grinning again. “You’d tell me that I talk too much. You’d tell me that you should gag me with one of your expensive ties. But you don’t actually want that, do you?” His fingers made quick work of the buttons of his waistcoat, and he tugged his shirt out of the waistband of his pants. “You like that I can’t keep my mouth shut.” He unbuttoned the last few buttons of his shirt, letting it fall open over the pale stretch of his stomach before he reached for his belt buckle. “In your office, at the precinct, in the bedroom — you like that I’m a mouthy little shit, don’t you? And as for your mouth—”
He slid the tongue of his belt out of the buckle, a practiced move that Rollins guessed looked hotter than Carisi likely realized or intended. “God, I love your mouth, Raf. I love it in the courtroom—” He popped the button of his slacks, slowly slid the zipper down. “—I love it when you’re mouthing off in the precinct like you own the place—” He slowly reached into his boxer-briefs, his eyelids fluttering closed as his hand ran lightly down the outline of his cock. “—And God knows I love what you do with your mouth in the bedroom.”
Carisi let go of himself and pulled his hand out of his boxers, shifting so that he could pull his boxers down just enough for his cock to spring out, and Rollins choked on her sip of wine.
She should not be watching this. She should absolutely just turn the video off now, should shut her laptop and go to bed and pretend like she would still be able to look Carisi in the eyes tomorrow—
“Fuck, Raf,” Carisi sighed, circling his thumb lightly over the head of his cock, swiping it through the clear fluid that had welled up through his slit and Rollins drained her glass of wine.
She was already going to hell.
Might as well enjoy herself on the ride down.
She got up and this time brought the bottle of wine back to the couch with her. She didn’t even hesitate before pushing play again.
“I love the way your mouth feels against mine,” Carisi said, smearing his pre-cum over the reddened head of his cock. “The way you suck on my bottom lip, or bite my neck, or—” He groaned, slowly dragging his fist down the length of his cock. “Fuck, Raf, the way you take my cock into your mouth, all the way down without stopping. I know with as much as you fucking talk I shouldn’t be surprised at your breath capacity, but still. And your tongue—”
He twisted his hand over the head of his cock, his mouth falling open just slightly as he did. “Christ, your tongue should be illegal. I should fucking Mirandize you every time you drag your fucking tongue down my cock or when you use the tip of it to—”
He broke off, squeezing the base of his cock, already breathing heavily, and after a moment he let out a shaky laugh. “Fuck, just the thought of it was almost enough to make me, uh, y’know—”
It was hard to tell if he was blushing or just flushed, but Rollins still couldn’t help but feel it was slightly endearing that even with his dick out and while masturbating for a camera, Carisi still got tripped up talking about sex. The idiot used to call blowjobs ‘smoothies’, after all.
Carisi took a deep breath and slowly started stroking himself again, more determinedly this time. “But you like that too, don’t you? You like that you get me hot and bothered, you like knowing that I think about you all fucking day. That I think about your cock, and your ass, that I sit there on a boring day and wonder if my cum is gonna run out of your ass while you’re in court that day.”
Rollins’ eyes widened. Well that was...not entirely what she’d expected though now that she knew it, it made perfect sense.
She emptied the wine bottle into her glass.
“But God, what I love most of all is how I make you fall apart.” Carisi’s hand moved steadily up and down his cock but the movement almost appeared to be secondary to the rise and fall of his voice. “How I finally shut you up. How you let me shut you up. Let me touch you and kiss you, let me fuck you—” He choked out a groan but his hand didn’t stop its movement. “Fucking God I love fucking you, Raf, I love your hot, tight heat, I love how you respond to my hands, to my mouth, to my cock—”
Again he broke off, but this time, he made no effort to slow down, increasing his speed as he fucked into his fist. “I always thought you’d never look hotter than you do in the courtroom,” he said, his voice low. “I always thought the sight of you swaggering around, the entire jury in the palm of your hand would be the best thing I’d ever see, but fuck, Raf, fuck, when you’re spread out on the bed waiting for me, wanting me—”
His breath hitched and his eyelids fluttered closed, his hand moving so quickly now that Rollins could barely track the motion. “Beautiful, Raf,” he gasped. “So fucking beautiful, so perfect, so perfect for me—”
The first spurt of cum was mostly caught in Carisi’s hand and he groaned, his head falling back as more cum shot across his stomach and splattered against his heaving, sweat-slicked skin. His breath came out in shuddering gasps but he didn’t slow down, stroking himself through his orgasm and stopping only to squeeze his cock as if to ensure he’d wrung every drop from it.
He released his still-hard cock and fell backward against the bed, his stomach still heaving. Then, without warning, he started laughing. “Jesus Christ, Rafael,” he huffed, his voice slightly muffled. “God, that was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. I can’t believe you talked me into this.” He propped himself up on his elbows and gave the camera a look, even as a slow, lazy grin spread across his face. “You’re just lucky that I love you—”
Rollins closed out of the video.
She shouldn’t have watched any of that, but she definitely couldn’t bring herself to watch Carisi talk about loving Barba.
Some things were sacred.
And that was a line even she wouldn’t cross.
She set her laptop down on the couch and stood to take her empty wineglass and the empty bottle back into the kitchen. Then she went to bed, and while earlier she had been afraid that she might dream about Dodds and death, now she just hoped fervently that she wouldn’t dream about Carisi jacking off.
Or worse, about Barba and Carisi fucking.
...though she might file both those thoughts away for later. Just in case.
The next morning, as soon as she got into the precinct, Rollins called TARU. “Has that file been forwarded to any other email addresses?” she asked without preamble.
Because she had to verify. Because it was her job.
Even if she already knew the answer.
The TARU tech checked on something on his end. “Other than being forwarded to you, this version of the file has not been forwarded to anyone. The file was downloaded to a private server on ADA Barba’s home computer, and we can’t verify if that version’s been sent anywhere.”
It hadn’t been. Rollins would stake her life on it.
“Thanks,” she said. “And do me a favor, would you? Delete the copy from NYPD servers. I want you to wipe every trace of it, got it?”
“Do you want us to make a record—”
“No,” Rollins said. “No, that won’t be necessary. Thanks.”
She hung up right as Carisi strolled into the precinct. He wasn’t alone, instead accompanied by Barba, and she knew in an instant that they had spent the night together, and for half a second, she was tempted to give Carisi a hard time for it, to tease him just enough to let him know that she knew .
But then Barba, who looked unusually tired and worried, put a hand on Carisi’s back and muttered something in a low enough voice that Carisi had to duck his head to hear. And Carisi grinned at whatever it was that Barba said, grinned in a way that Rollins hadn’t seen in days, and she knew that she couldn’t say anything.
Carisi spotted her and his smile faded, replaced by worry, and together he and Barba headed over. “What did TARU find?” Carisi asked.
“The usual,” she said quickly. “They looked through Barba’s work email for any death threats and found a bunch ranging from the vague to the specific to the very creative. I’ve forwarded them all to threat assessment.”
Carisi gave Barba a look and Barba rolled his eyes. “Great, I'm so glad," he said dryly, before adding, "I’m going to go talk to Liv." Carisi watched him go before turning back to Rollins.
“Thanks,” he said, somewhat grudgingly.
“Just doing my job,” she told him, before changing the subject. “Any progress on tracking down Heredio?”
As Carisi sighed and launched into some long explanation, Rollins couldn’t help but look at him with new appreciation. Not because she’d seen — well, all of that, but because she’d seen what it looked like when Carisi loved someone. And it meant the world to her that she’d gotten to witness that, even if no one knew but her.
“Problem?” Carisi asked, looking at her with his brow furrowed.
“Nothing,” she told him. “Absolutely nothing.”
She couldn’t tell him that she knew.
And she knew that she never would.
After everything they’d lost, she’d let him have this. Carisi deserved to have this.
And it was the least she could do for her best friend.