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~ * ~

Of course they had to be at the docks.

Dominick-Call-Me-Sonny Carisi, Jr. hates the docks. It’s nothing against them personally. It’s just, when he was about three, maybe four—his parents can never agree on his exact age—he fell in a lake and almost drowned.

It’s not as if he’s scared of water, although to the day when she finally quit when he was about six, his mom couldn’t get him in the tub. He still has trouble with standing bodies of water, and he religiously avoids beaches and rivers unless work takes him there.

So, here they are, Nick Amaro and Sonny chasing after a fleet-footed suspect who loves the edge of the docks, right where it’s the most slippery. And wouldn’t you know it, Sonny steps wrong once and slips right off into the water.

His head goes under and he swallows a few mouthfuls, choking on it and sputtering as he surfaces.

Nick’s too far ahead to have heard him fall in. So, arm-over-head, Sonny drags himself through the cold water to the edge of the dock. He looks up and straight into the barrel of a .22 Sig Sauer.

“Hey there, Detective,” greets another one of their suspects. And they had him in their sights too; they just hadn’t been able to physically link the two. Well, if Sonny gets out of this unscathed, then they’ve got their proof.

“Hey, Johnson.” Sonny’s teeth are chattering, and he’s still coughing from the water. “You gonna let me up?”

Johnson cocks his head, grins, and slips the safety off. “Nope.” He fires once, and Sonny jerks, crying out as he feels the bullet skim the side of his head.

It stings, and blood runs down his face, but otherwise, he’s okay. Johnson’s face, gleeful at having hit him, twists into an angry grimace. He fires again, and the bullet strikes the water a few centimeters from Sonny.

Thank goodness for recoil and terrible shots.

Sonny dives, swimming away from the dock, and away from Johnson before the dumbass can improve his aim and hit him again.

The current catches him, and no matter how he fights, he is swept away.

He exhausts himself quickly, so he resorts to treading, trying to keep his head above water. It doesn’t work, and later—so much later, he couldn’t say how much later even if he was tortured—he’s not aware when the hands haul him out of the ocean. He closes his eyes between one breath and the next and just floats.

~ * ~

When he wakes up, he has no idea where he is.

It’s obviously a hospital because, hello, yes, that’s definitely an oxygen/pulse monitor thingy clipped to his finger.

His head twinges vaguely, more a memory of a headache than an actual one.

At the same time he catches sight of an unfamiliar face, he realizes not only does he not know where he is, he doesn’t know who he is.

“Hey, babe,” the unfamiliar face, connected to an equally unfamiliar body, says, smiling in an unfamiliar way.

“‘Babe’?” he parrots back. “Who are you?”

The man looks disappointed. “I’m your husband,” he says, reaching out to touch his hand. He recoils instinctively, cradling it to his chest. Now the man looks sad, pouting as he explains, “Your name is David. We have four beautiful children, all daughters, via surrogate. Don’t you remember us?”

‘David’ studies the man, taking in his salt-and-pepper hair, his days-old beard, his tanned, lined skin, and his sorta-kind-looking blue eyes. And his horribly wrinkled shirt and undone green tie.

“Nope,” he says. “No bells ringing. I don’t know you.”

“Fifteen years together, and you don’t know me at all?” Jeez, it looks like he’s gonna cry.

“I’m sorry?” David tries. “Maybe you could tell me your name? See if that jogs something?”

“I’m Jason.” The smile is back in place, and it looks more familiar now, like a politician’s ugly mug.

David sticks out his hand and Jason grips it tightly. “Nice to meet you, Jason. I’m David, I guess. Call me Dave.”

Jason shakes his head. “You hate being called Dave.”

“I do?” At Jason’s emphatic nod, he shrugs. “I’m David.” He smiles at Jason and he lights up, tugging at their still connected hands.

“Come on, I wanna show you something.”

Amused, David obediently climbs off the bed, unclipping the oxygen monitor from his other hand. They stand at the window, Jason behind David, arms around his middle. David lets him even though it bugs him, the liberty Jason’s taking.

Outside is…ugly. All brown grass and squat white and yellow buildings. There’s none of the elegance David expected and he doesn’t know why he was expecting it. He turns his head to give a puzzled look at Jason. Jason takes it as an opportunity to kiss him lightly. On the mouth.

David pulls away, wiping at his mouth with the back of his hand. Jason crumples dramatically, falling to the floor hands pressed over his face.

“I’m sorry,” David says, sinking down with him. He doesn’t touch Jason, waits for him to peek through his fingers. “I still don’t remember you.”

“You’re my soul mate! Why can’t you remember me?”

David shrugs. “I wish I could. You obviously love me a lot. You’ve been here for a long time, waiting for me.”

“Patients are supposed to remain in their beds until released by their doctors,” someone says loudly. David whips around, staring at the doctor. She has her hands fisted on her hips and a stern glare for them both.

“Sorry,” he murmurs, standing up. He offers a hand to Jason and is ignored. He sits on the bed, letting the doctor reattach his heart monitor. “What happened to me?”

She clicks her tongue and doesn’t answer. She uses a gloved hand to tug at his top until she can slide a stethoscope onto his chest. He winces at the cold metal.

“Breathe in, deeply.” He does, holds for a three-second count, and then breathes out. “Again.” Rinse and repeat. She listens at the back too.

“Well, your lungs sound better. And your oxygen is almost normal. I’ll want to do another MRI to see if anything’s changed. I’m guessing you’ve figured out by now that you have a form of amnesia.”

David nods. “I thought I might.” He looks over to Jason, noting that he’s watching him. “He says he’s my husband, but I don’t remember him at all.”

“How far back can you remember?”

David spreads his hands. “I just woke up.”

The doctor fixes her gaze on him “You don’t remember yesterday at all?”

He shakes his head. Jason coughs, and the doctor glares at him.

“Should I?”

“You should,” she confirms. “We need to get you down to that MRI now. And Mr. George, I’ll ask you to leave now. We will let you know when you can return.”

“But,” Jason starts, and the doctor holds up a hand.

“Out. Now. Before I call security.”

Jason leaves with a pout. “What happened yesterday?” David can’t help the fear he feels curling in his stomach. “Did Jason do something? Is that why you’re mad at him?”

The doctor sighs. “Yesterday, when you woke up, briefly, you freaked out. You couldn’t remember anything and you were scared. Mr. George tried to calm you by holding you down. You didn’t respond well, and we had him removed from the room.”

She sighs again, sitting next to him on the bed. She holds out her hand and he sets his on top of it. She squeezes gently. “Frankly, he hasn’t proved himself to the hospital staff that he’s your husband. We were hoping you could tell us more about your relationship. But.”

“The amnesia,” David finishes. He looks down at their hands, noting the ring on his finger. He touches it. “I don’t know. Will the MRI tell you anything?”

“It might tell us just how extensive the damage is.”

“Damage?” David gulps. “What damage?”

“You hit your head on something,” the doctor says matter-of-factly. “It’s healed nicely so far.”

David reaches up to touch the bandage wound around his head. “How did I not notice this?” he asks.

“I’m getting a wheelchair. Please stay seated.”

“Where am I gonna go, huh? I don’t know anything here. I’m not even sure I’m who Jason says I am.”

“Just hang tight. I’ll be back.” The doctor ducks out, leaving David to his thoughts.

~ * ~

Later, much later. After the MRI and the disappointing results—“Apparently, Mr. Eiden, you’re suffering from Acute Retrograde Amnesia. Basically, your brain can’t access your memories from before The Event, and we really don’t know what The Event was, but it wasn’t physically damaging enough to cause this kind of amnesia.”—David is released from the hospital.

There’s nothing wrong with him except everything.

And his last name is Eiden. No wonder he forgot his life before. That’s a trauma onto itself.

The nurse at the front desk gives him a lollipop when he signs the paperwork. She’s got orange, green, and red. Jason prompts him to pick the red or orange since he hates green.

Defiantly, David selects the green one, putting it in his mouth and rolling it around. “Guess you don’t know me as well as you think,” he says around it. While he wouldn’t say it’s his favorite, he doesn’t hate it, like he thinks he’d have hated the red. The thought of cherry makes him shudder.

Jason keeps staring at him. He’d tried to kiss him again when he’d come back, and David intercepted it with his hand. He doesn’t want affection; he wants answers.

“I’m sorry,” he says again, noting Jason’s ever-present pout. “You’d mentioned daughters.” He tries to smile when Jason looks at him. “How are they?” The words stick in his throat and he coughs to clear it.

“They’re fine. They should be home from school now. Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll have a better reaction to them than you do to me.”

“Sorry.”

“It’s okay. I wouldn’t expect you to be yourself after what happened.”

David turns to him, hopeful. “Do you know what did happen?”

“No, sorry. Forget I said anything.”

“But I can’t forget it. You said—”

“David, please. Let’s just get home. Maybe that will trigger some memories for you.”

The rest of the short drive is spent in uncomfortable silence. As soon as Jason stops the car, David climbs out. He tries not to slam the door, but he’s got too much pent up frustration and it kinda slips.

“David! Stop acting like a child!”

“I’m not really David. Stop pretending.” At Jason’s aghast look, David sighs. “If I ever was David Eiden, I’m certainly not him now. I don’t wanna hurt you or your kids.”

“David, you’re part of our family. My daughters are your daughters too. Now, please, just come inside.”

David looks at the house, a large, three story building painted white and yellow like the rest of the town. There are streamers tied around a trio of trees by one corner of the front yard, a row of barren rose bushes tucked under a picture window, and four pink-purple-and-white bikes lined up neatly on a small patch of concrete.

“This doesn’t feel like home,” he remarks softly. Jason takes his hand, leading him up the cobblestone walkway.

“I’m a dentist,” Jason explains patiently. “I make good money.”

“What do I do?” Maybe Jason will tell him something that’ll help loosen his memory.

“You’re a stay-at-home dad.” Nope. That doesn’t feel like a revelation. That feels like crushing defeat.

David is certain he doesn’t spend his days here, stuck inside. He turns to say as much to Jason, except he’s interrupted by a series of squeals. He faces forward again, wincing at the barrage of bodies heading their way.

He braces, but they ignore him, circling Jason, and hugging him. He feels guilty at the relief that floods him.

“Come, girls,” Jason says. “Daddy’s home from the hospital.”

Four heads swivel as one to look him up and down. David can’t help feeling like he’s been found lacking.

“That’s not Daddy!” the smallest child, a young girl with blonde pigtails and a red jumper, pipes up, and David is inclined to agree with her. These children look nothing like him. Or Jason, for that matter. What if Jason makes his living as a kidnapper?

“Lilli,” Jason says, exasperation coloring his voice. “Lilli, this is Daddy.”

The oldest girl, pixie cut blonde hair and thick glasses, glares at David, and wow, yeah, he knows he needs to find his real name. He doesn’t want to be David Eiden. “This isn’t Daddy,” she says quietly. The other girls nod. “He’s an imposter.”

“Yes, I am,” he says with an emphatic nod, and Jason glares at him. “I don’t know who I am right now.”

“Yes, you do,” Jason insists. “You’re David Eiden. My husband of fifteen years, father to Hannah, Marsha, Fiona, and Lilli.” He points at each child in turn.

David touches the ring on his finger. He’d almost forgotten to put it back on after the MRI. “I only have you telling me that. Even the girls don’t recognize me. I’m not David Eiden. I don’t know who I am.”

“Go inside, girls. Daddy and I need to have a talk.” They troop away, the oldest—Hannah—glancing back once to give him a sour look.

“David,” Jason begins as soon as the door shuts behind the girls. David drags his attention to his face, watching as a muscle starts jumping in his cheek.

“Are you even listening to me?”

“Honestly? No. You haven’t said anything to convince me I’m who you say I am. I think I’ll just go back to the hospital. They must have missed something.”

“David, if you walk away from me now, don’t expect me to take you back.”

“I’m not David.”

But, inexplicably, he follows Jason into the house, which is as fantastically neat and ordered as outside. It makes him a little sick.

Hannah stands guard by a large staircase in the foyer. None of the other girls is visible. Marble stairs and everything. Even dentists don’t make this kind of money. David narrows his eyes at Jason.

“So, yeah, we built this house with your inheritance.” And that’s a wince. Apparently a sore subject for the real David Eiden and his beloved. “My salary as a dentist is enough to pay maintenance.”

“Really.” He looks around, ignoring the poisonous glare Hannah has directed at his head. He’s had worse, he’s sure.

There are paintings of landscapes, bowls of fruit, and stormy seas lining the walls. Interspersed within are photographs of all the girls, alone and in groups, in elegant frames. The sick feeling intensifies when David sees a photograph of a face that trips the edge of his foggy memory. He should know that face. He really should.

A mirror tucked between a mountain of apples and an actual mountain catches his eye. And he sees the face of the photograph reflected back at him.

It’s not a perfect match, his face unlined aside from the creases in his forehead. His face is thinner, sharper, covered with rough stubble where the man in the photograph is clean-shaven. His mouth curves more with a thicker lower lip. The same sandy hair falls across his forehead in waves. The same blue eyes stare dolefully back at him.

He knows—knows—it’s not him in that picture on the wall, but he can see why Jason is hoping he is.

Something happened to David Eiden.

Something, maybe the same thing, will happen to him if he stays here.

He turns to find Jason staring at him, unabashedly, lovingly. Hannah, beside him, glares, with the fury of a thousand wronged children.

There is no reason to hate him so much on principle unless David Eiden did something to the girls. He was a stay-at-home dad, after all. He could have had plenty of opportunity.

David—no, not David!—hunches over, retching. Nothing comes, and he thinks it’s because the last thing he ate was the thin oatmeal at the hospital.

“David, are you all right?” Jason moves forward, hand held out. All he has to do is take it.

Instead, he straightens, tugs his shirt—borrowed from the real David, and it’s too large on his thin frame—down and hisses venomously at Jason, “Don’t call me that! I’m not David!”

“You’re tired. It’s been a long day already.” Jason soothes him, rubbing one hand over his back, the other clutching his shirt. “Come on. Let’s go lie down.”

Hannah stomps up the stairs, away from them. He watches her go, turns his attention back to Jason. “Did you suspect David of doing anything to any of them?”

Jason’s hand tightens in his shirt, and he finds himself slammed against a wall. Frames rattle but none fall. Jason, fury burning in his eyes, looms over him, pinning him. “If you ever suggest that David could hurt our daughters, I’ll kill you myself.”

It’s something, he thinks numbly when Jason lets him go. It’s finally been admitted that he’s not David.

“You can’t keep me here against my will,” he says. He takes half a step forward only to be shoved back against the wall. This time, a landscape drops, glass shattering nearby. One of Jason’s hand covers his mouth while the other goes to his crotch.

“I will keep you here until the day you believe you are David. Then you won’t want to leave.” He gropes him roughly, his hand other muffling any protests. “So good, Sonny,” he whispers and nips at his neck.

He freezes, breathing harshly through his nose, trying to comprehend. His name is Sonny? As in Sonny and Cher?

He wants to laugh. That revelation should have triggered some memories, shouldn’t it?

Jason pulls back, uses the hand over Sonny’s mouth to pet at his hair, his neck, patting where he’d bitten him. Despite the roughness of the continuing ministrations, Sonny feels himself start hardening. What the hell?

Jason takes this as encouragement, and nudges his legs apart, to place one of his own between them, rubbing against Sonny’s erection.

“You bastard,” Sonny spits out, bringing his hands up to push Jason away. “I don’t know how you found me, but you’re not keeping me. And I’ll make damn sure they take the girls away too.”

His back hits the wall again, another picture falls, more glass. Jason uses both hands to grab his neck. His thumbs press in, cutting off Sonny’s air. He claws at his hands, fingernails scraping shallow furrows into Jason’s hands.

It’s not enough to make him let go, and Sonny’s vision explodes into sparks of white and silver the longer Jason chokes him. He wavers on his feet, the wall and Jason’s hands the only things keeping him upright.

“Daddy!” one of the girls cries, and Jason lets him go. Sonny sinks to the floor, legs stretched out, knees bent slightly, coughing and gasping. Head against the wall, eyes closed, he focuses on getting his breathing under control. All the panting and gasping has his chest heaving painfully, and he knows his neck will bruise.

A small body climbs into his lap, and he glances down to find either Marsha or Fiona curled against him. She wraps her arms around his neck and buries her face against him. Her breath tickles and she kneels uncomfortably close to his—ahem, pardon the language—package.

“Thought I wasn’t your daddy,” he whispers into her ear, stroking a hand down her head. She pulls back enough to fix him with a serious pout. “Papa was going to kill you. It’s why Daddy left him.”

Sonny stares up at Jason, who is watching them with an amused smirk. “I think I should go back to the hospital. I—Something doesn’t feel right.”

He tries to stand, still holding the child, and that is a colossal failure. It’s a wonder no one ends up hurt because of it.

Jason grabs the girl’s arm, shoving her at Hannah, who has reappeared. “Hannah, I think Beth is in need of company.”

Hannah gathers the girls and leads them outside.

When they’re gone, he turns back to Sonny, grabbing a fistful of hair and hauling him upright.

Sonny fights. He scratches at Jason’s hand, grabs at the doorway, kicks violently, but Jason uses his free hand to choke him again.

He blacks out, coming back suddenly with a wet-sounding gasp as Jason throws him through a door. The bed is centered in the room, covered with a yellow-and-white quilt, and behind him, he hears Jason stomping around the room, drawers opening and closing.

He hauls himself upright, wavering on his feet. His head aches and he can’t catch his breath.

“Get on the bed, Sonny,” Jason orders. In one hand, he has a couple of condoms, still in the wrapper, and a tube of lubricant. “Now,” he snaps when Sonny doesn’t move.

Sonny has gone numb. It’s his downfall because he can’t lift his arms to defend himself when Jason maneuvers him toward the bed.

~ * ~

When he finally stops moving and rolls off, Sonny gasps in a shuddering breath. Jason sighs, softly, contentedly.

“So much better than David,” he whispers, hand coming to rest on Sonny’s chest. The sob he’s been fighting for so long breaks free, and Jason’s hand pats, in a mock of comfort, against his pectoral.

Sonny waits it out while Jason sleeps off his post-orgasmic state.

Jason nuzzles against Sonny’s throat, one hand lazily tracing a path from his neck to his groin.

“That was fantastic, babe,” Jason says, pressing a few closed-mouth kisses to Sonny’s lips. “We should definitely do it again.”

“I can’t remember,” Sonny says. He pretends to cry, clinging to Jason tightly. “I can’t remember anything. Why can’t I remember?”

The display has the intended effect, and Jason offers to drive Sonny back to the hospital for a quick check up.

The girls’ babysitter is unavailable, so they bring them along too.

Sonny wonders if the babysitter would recognize him as David or as a stranger.

The nurse at the front desk is the same one who gave him the lollipop, and she gives him a concerned look at seeing him back so soon.

“Just have a seat, please,” she says. “Dr. Moss will be right with you.”

“Pammy?” Lilli says, motioning to her mouth. The nurse smiles brightly and holds out her three choices of lollipop.

All four girls pick orange.

Jason takes a red one for himself and one for Sonny.

“I hate cherry,” Sonny says when Jason unwraps it and tries to put it in his mouth.

“Cherry is your favorite.”

“I’m not getting into it now,” Sonny growls. He takes the sucker and chucks it into a bin a few meters away. Fiona—or is it Marsha?—claps and says, “Three points!”

Jason sulks until Dr. Moss appears, heading toward them at an almost run. “Doctor,” he purrs. But, it’s Sonny he stares at.

“Mr. Eiden,” Dr. Moss says, “I’m told you had an episode?”

“Yes,” Sonny murmurs, standing up to grasp at Dr. Moss’s arm, “an episode.”

He shoots a worried glance at the girls and gets a face full of spiteful glare from Hannah. The other three seem okay, and Jason lowers his brows to give Sonny a warning.

Dr. Moss leads him to an exam room where she hands him a gown.

“I’ll let you change?” But she doesn’t leave.

“I’m not David Eiden,” he says. “And I didn’t have an episode. Jason choked me. I’m afraid he’s going to hurt the girls or that he’s already hurt the real David Eiden.”

Moss nods. “Shortly after you left, we received a John Doe description. You match that description to a tee.”

She opens the door and in steps a woman whose name is on the tip of Sonny’s tongue.

“Carisi,” she breathes, smiling in a way that sparks relief in Sonny’s chest. Here is someone who knows who he is and can help him.

He waits, wanting her name, her familiarity to come to him, and nothing happens.

“I’m sorry,” he says to her, watching her face crumple into a haggard mask. “I know you,” he hurries to assure her. “But I just can’t remember.”

“It’s okay. It’ll come to you.”

“It hasn’t yet.” He laughs humorlessly. “Anyway.”

“Anyway,” she repeats. “Ready to go home, see if that’ll help any?”

“Sergeant,” Moss says. “He disclosed something to me that I think you should hear.”

The sergeant’s head swivels back to Sonny, her gaze darkening, pinning him. “I think Jason, the man in the waiting room with four girls, hurt his partner,” he says.

Moss makes a noise of discomfort, and Sonny glances down at his lap, continuing in a quiet voice, “He also choked and groped me.”

He takes a steadying breath. “He also, he uh, he raped me, too.”

The sergeant recoils, face horrified for a few seconds before settling into a blank mask. “Okay,” she says softly. “Well, Dr. Moss will have to perform a rape kit. We’ll get the girls away from him.”

“Thank you.” Sonny looks away first, turning his attention to the wall so that he won’t have to look at the Sergeant’s face anymore.

By the time he moves again, he and Dr. Moss are the only ones in the room. The Sergeant has already vanished.

“Did you remember your name yet?” Dr. Moss asks, and Sonny shakes his head. “I’m sure it’ll come back to you soon. Now, I need to examine you for signs of sexual assault.”

“He raped me anally,” Sonny says. “I know you need to take swabs and pictures. Please, just do it. I don’t want to talk about it right now.”

Dr. Moss sighs. “I find that speaking during the exam gives you warning so that I’m not doing anything as a surprise to you.”

“Okay,” Sonny concedes.

The exam is over in less than ten minutes, and the Sergeant, trailed by an older gentleman with severe frown lines and a hesitant smile on his face.

“This is Detective Odafin Tutuola,” the Sergeant introduces. “He’s going to take your statement.”

Sonny shakes Tutuola’s hand. It feels warm, familiar somehow. “Do I know you?” he asks.

Tutuola shoots a quick glance at the Sergeant before saying, “Not as well as you should.” He flips out a Steno pad and perches on the edge of Sonny’s bed. “What can you tell me?” he asks, not unkindly.

“About today?”

“About anything,” Tutuola says. “Today, yesterday, as far back as you can recall.”

Sonny takes a deep breath and begins talking. By the time he finishes, he’s exhausted, his head hurts, Tutuola’s pad is covered in scribbles, and the detective is vibrating with rage.

“And you think Jason hurt his partner?”

“I think there’s a lot wrong in that house,” Sonny answers. “But, yeah, I think Jason hurt David.”

“Okay. Well, you just rest now. Stay here.” He stands up and heads for the door.

Sonny calls him back. “What’s my real name?” he asks. “It can’t be Sonny, can it?”

Tutuola shrugs. “You’re named after your dad. Sonny is just a nickname.”

“So my real name is?”

“Dominick.”

Tutuola leaves him to ponder it, and Sonny tries it out.

He likes the sound of it, wonders why he went by Sonny at all. From now on, he decides, he’ll be called Dominick.

~ * ~

Dominick sleeps through Jason’s arrest. And good thing too. He’d flipped out, and if the Sergeant hadn’t had the foresight to get the girls away under pretense of talking to him about his partner’s care, it is very likely that he would have hurt them too. As it was, he tried grabbing the Sergeant’s gun and was taken down handily by another detective.

By the time Dominick is aware again and has been updated by yet another detective, the girls are with David’s parents and they’ve found David’s grave in the backyard of the house.

The icing on the cake for Dominick is that he finally gets his memory back.

All it took was stumbling over his IV pole and slamming his head against the railing of his bed.

When he wakes up again, he can’t remember the last fifteen minutes before he concussed himself again, but at least he recognizes Nick Amaro sleeping awkwardly in the chair next to the bed.

“Hey,” he whispers, and Amaro shoots upright with a snort. “Thanks.”

Amaro wipes at his mouth. “What for?”

Dominick shrugs. “You’re here, aren’t you? Isn’t that enough?”

Amaro looks guilty. “We should have found you sooner. Then George wouldn’t have been able to hurt you.”

“How long did it take you to find me?”

“A week. It took us that long to figure out the currents and get descriptions to the coastal towns where either you or your body could have floated.”

“A week’s pretty good considering we’re--”

“Just down the coast from New York.”

“Not too far then.” Dominick looks down at his hands clenched in the blanket across his lap. He forces himself to straighten his fingers. “It could be worse,” he says, more to himself than to Amaro. “I could be dead. I could have drowned, the bullet could have struck me differently, and Jason could have killed me.”

“For what it’s worth, I’m glad you’re alive.” Amaro stands up. Dominick watches him warily. He knows he shouldn’t be afraid of Amaro. His coworker wouldn’t do anything to hurt him, but he feels jittery in his skin, like he’s too big or it’s too small. Either way, he jumps when Amaro drops his hand onto his blanket-covered knee.

“I’ll see you around, okay, Carisi?”

“Yeah,” Dominick says faintly. Amaro scratches at his head with awkward strokes before he rolls his shoulders and leaves.

As soon as the door closes behind him, Dominick breathes out, tension bleeding from him.

In his bones he feels it will be okay. But right now. Right now, nothing is okay.

~ * ~

It takes less than two days before the injuries Jason inflicted are healed enough that Dr. Moss feels comfortable discharging him.

He has an outfit brought down by Rollins, a new phone courtesy of his parents and Tutuola, and several cards wishing him the best from the hospital staff and the three younger Eiden-George girls.

He’s neither surprised nor disappointed to realize that Hannah gave him nothing. Benson told him that they were settling in with David’s parents. It’s as happy of an ending as they could hope for, and Dominick is glad for them.

The front desk nurse stops him and hands him a green sucker. “Best of luck to you, Detective Carisi,” she says.

He doesn’t get to thank her before he’s pounced upon by his coworkers and bundled into a van. He gets the backseat all to himself, but it’s not big enough for all the thoughts in his head.

He pretends to sleep, just to keep anyone from talking to him.

All he has to remember is that it’ll be okay. Not now, and maybe not any time soon, but for him, he at least gets the chance to heal.

And that has to be enough.

It has to be.

~ End ~