Barba was driving Sonny crazy. In the short time since they had started this furtive thing between them, the ADA had become obsessed with creating plausible deniability.
Plausible deniability as to the existence of their own relationship, that is.
They had come to a mutual decision to wait a few weeks before officially disclosing, in order not to rush into things publicly. In the meantime they had to avoid creating any impression of a conflict of interest.
Which was all well and good, but Barba was taking it to an extreme.
When they met up for a late Sunday breakfast, Barba brought a casefile with him to the diner. He proceeded to practice trial testimony with Sonny over eggs and hash browns, in order to make their date appear like a working brunch.
"You look nice today," Sonny said a bit nervously after the waitress had brought their dishes. He still wasn't used to the idea that he could now compliment the ADA. But Barba looked uncharacteristically soft in a fuzzy woolen sweater, and so he couldn't resist.
"Why thank you." Barba seemed pleased at first at the compliment, but then looked around warily, as if someone might have overheard. "You, um, look especially presentable today as well, Detective."
Sonny let out a laugh as he kicked Barba's foot lightly under the table. "That's all you got for me, Counselor?"
"I'm sure I'll have plenty of nice things to say to you when we're alone," Barba said as his foot rubbed Sonny's ankle in return. "But for now . . . "
Barba turned back to the casefile open before him on the tabletop. "The defense counsel will ask you on the stand how you knew that the severed penis belonged to the victim. Are you prepared to answer that?"
Sonny nearly choked on his omelet.
Suffice it to say, it wasn't the most romantic meal.
A week later, Barba made them make out to CNN, so that their evening could accurately be characterized as "catching up on current events."
Anderson Cooper's measured tones provided an incongruous backdrop to the moans that came from Barba's sofa.
Until Barba pulled away from kissing Sonny's neck to glance at the screen. "Hey did you catch what they just said about that Supreme Court case?" he asked while reaching for the remote and turning up the volume.
Sonny just groaned as he flopped back against the sofa.
Barba was leaning forward now, intently focused on the legal discussion playing out on the television. "This law professor they have on is one of the best Supreme Court oralists there is."
"Is he really more interesting than I am right now?"
"Hush," Barba said while swinging a finger out to rest haphazardly against Sonny's lips, eyes still glued to the screen.
Sonny responded by sucking the finger into his mouth. He smirked around it at Barba's gasp, before drawing off with a loud pop.
"Well I may still be just a law student, but I can guarantee you my oral skills are much better than his." Sonny paused a beat to let it sink in. "Get it? Oralist? Oral skills?"
This time it was Barba who groaned. "I got it Carisi, that was just a particularly egregious pun."
"Yeah well you can't deny that my egregiousness has got you all hot and bothered imagining my oral skills, am I right?"
"Come here, you." Barba turned back to Sonny, finally, and pulled him in for another kiss.
A few minutes later, it was Sonny who pulled away. "Can we turn the tv off? I don't want to have to keep sharing your attention with Anderson. Besides, no one else will ever know whether we actually spent the evening watching the news or not."
Barba pursed his lips. "But I'll know. I can't lie in court when I'm inevitably asked about the status of our relationship before we disclosed. If we leave the tv on, I can accurately say that we hung out watching television as friends."
"Oh so you usually stick your tongue down your friends' throats?" Sonny asked as he pushed Barba back towards the armrest. After arranging the ADA against the sofa cushions just how he wanted him, Sonny settled himself on top.
"I don't think you answered me Counselor, did you?" He punctuated the question with a gentle bite to Barba's earlobe.
"No - ah! - I didn't."
"Well?" Sonny sucked on the lobe now, soothing it, before giving another bite.
"I - ah! - I don't usually stick my tongue down my friends' throats."
"Then I think you're splitting hairs here, Counselor, if you really think you can classify tonight's activities as anything other than a make out session."
"It's called being a lawyer, Carisi, you should try it sometime."
"I think I will, one semester and four credits from now."
"I look forward to seeing that."
"Yeah I'm sure," Sonny replied a bit dismissively.
"Hold up." Barba reached a hand up to cup Sonny's face. "I'm being serious about that part. I'm proud of you for making it through law school."
"Oh. Thanks." Sonny closed his eyes in embarrassment at his mistake. "I guess I still can't tell half the time if you're being sarcastic or not."
"Carisi. Sonny. Most of what comes out of my mouth is sarcasm. But I am genuinely happy that you'll be graduating as a lawyer, whether you decide to practice or not. And I have so much respect for you for accomplishing this. I'm sorry if I left you in any doubt of that."
"Wow, that um, means a lot to me." More than Sonny could articulate out loud. "Especially coming from you. Don't feel sorry about it. I'm sure there'll be lots of opportunities for you to make it up to me."
And with that Sonny leaned in to kiss Barba again.
After the CNN evening, Sonny decided that enough was enough. He texted Barba:
We need to come clean. Whatever else we try to call it, we're clearly in a relationship. It's not viable to hide it anymore.
In less than a minute, a message came back:
Agreed. Let's set up meetings with the EADA and with Liv next week.
A shiver of anticipation ran through Sonny, a combination of excitement and nervousness about the disclosure ahead. But he had no doubt about his reply: