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Dresses & Distractions

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ADA Carisi stepped into the surveillance room, his eyes sweeping across the far wall, taking in the massive TVs streaming live camera feed from the house down the street.

 

‘And we’re sure he’s in there?”, Carisi asks, turning to the nearest ESU agent for confirmation. The agent nods affirmatively, and Carisi feels a reassuring hand on his shoulder behind him.

 

“We’ve got confirmation from intel inside, and the cameras caught him 5 minutes ago, talking at the pool. He’s there, Carisi”, Captain Olivia Benson says from behind him. Weeks of investigating half a dozen rapes finally led to Maverick Newson, an old billionaire investor, who preyed on women seeking entrepreneurial advice at the parties hosted at his house. One of those parties was laid bare on the screens in front of the agents and ADA, a set up to finally trap Newson in the act.

 

“Okay, as long as you're sure. Because I want to nail this guy, beyond any doubt, and if we miss him, we scare him”, Carisi said, turning to Benson to look at her seriously.

 

“Carisi, I know and trust me, we’ve got him.” Carisi nodded, and turned back to the screen, his thoughts occupied. The stakes of this setup weren’t the only thing weighing on his mind. Rollins would be the one going undercover. Carisi knew full well that his girlfriend was a capable cop and woman, who would be under surveillance with ESU agents sweeping onto the scene at a moment’s notice. Still, the idea of the most important woman of his life walking into the jaws of a serial rapist had kept him on edge ever since it was decided that Amanda would be the UC. At a knock on the surveillance room door, he swallowed his fears and turned to address the people entering the room.

 

Velasco and Fin entered first, both dressed in expensive, fancy suits. They would be tailing Rollins during the sting, keeping tabs on her, and hopefully arresting Newson in the act. After them entered Rollins, and it took Carisi a second to compose himself. They hadn’t disclosed yet, after all, and blatantly staring at her in front of the entire squad would have been a dead giveaway.

 

Rollins was in a short black dress that hugged her body, and tall black heels. Her hair was wavy, and she wore dark lipstick. It was the perfect setup to catch Newson in the act. As Carisi watched her he couldn’t ignore the tingly feeling in his stomach. Butterflies, he realized. He felt actual, high school crush butterflies as he watched Amanda walk into the room, gorgeous and confident. The most beautiful, capable woman he had ever met. It took him a second to register that Rollins was staring at him too. She met his eye and looked him up and down before turning her attention to Olivia, who had begun to outline the logistics of the sting. After checking in with the UCs and confirming that the feed on Amanda’s camera was transmitting, Olivia wished everyone luck, and Fin and Velasco walked out into the hall, adjusting their suits and mics. Rollins paused for a second and took a step towards Carisi.

 

“Doing okay there, Counselor?”, she asked him, speaking barely above a whisper after covering her microphone. Carisi could smell her perfume now, and even though he had been close and more with this woman, her beauty at that moment left him finding it difficult to string together a coherent sentence. Rollins smiled with her tongue between her teeth and laughed quietly. She pointed at the screens, nodded her head, saying, “Well you better focus on, you know, work.” She winked at him, before turning on her heel and following Fin and Velasco out the door.

 

The next time Carisi saw Amanda was about two hours later, as he and Olivia met the UCs down at the house. After handing her a “drink” and forcing her onto a bed in a locked room, Newson was swarmed by cops and arrested for attempted rape. After growling his rights in his ear, Amanda handed him off to Velasco, who walked him out of the house. Olivia and Carisi walked in to meet her, but Carisi reached her first.

 

“You okay?”, he asked, his voice low, eyes filled with concern. She nodded, adrenaline pumping through her after both her encounter with Newson and his arrest.

 

“I am. I promise. He’s off the streets”, Amanda responded, her voice low, her eyes sincere. Shecleared her throat and shifted her gaze as Olivia approached.

 

“Good work, Rollins. Really good work. We’ve got attempted rape, and we’ve got a pattern,” she said affirmatively, placing a hand on Rollins shoulder. “Meet you all back at the precinct to debrief.” Rollins nodded, and turned to Carisi.

 

“You want to drive me back?”, she asked him. Carisi smiled, his eyes bright, and nodded, brushing her hand ever so slightly as he passed her towards the door.

 

In the car, Carisi found himself wrestling with the butterflies again now that he was alone with Rollins.

 

“So,” she asked with a teasing tone in her voice, “you enjoy watching the setup?”

 

“I mean, yeah. I like watching rapists get arrested”, he responded.

 

“M-hm,” she said quietly. Carisi looked over at her, and saw her watching him, a playful smile on her lips and a glint in her eyes. She laughed as he raised his eyebrows at her, and started twirling her hair around her finger. The butterflies, Carisi noticed, went crazy at that sight, and he turned his eye back to the road before his elbows got the chance to feel as weak as his knees.

 

“Okay, okay. You win. I like watching rapists get arrested by my confident girlfriend while she wears a pretty dress,” he finally acquiesced, smirking. “How long do you get to keep it, by the way?”

 

Rollins widened her eyes, before smirking and responding, “Technically they like it back the day of the sting, but we did just take down Newson, so I’m sure they’ll be sympathetic if I’m just too tired to change at the precinct.”

 

“Interesting,” Carisi responded, tapping his fingers on the wheel.

 

Several hours later after the debriefing at the precinct and Rollin’s successful excuse to keep the dress for one more day, Rollins and Carisi arrived at home to relieve Sienna from the girls, who had long been asleep. Despite the commotion that Rollin’s undercover dress had caused, it didn’t stay on her long after the bedroom door shut, and Carisi finally let the butterflies, and more, take over free from the restraints of the job and their undisclosed relationship. Afterward, they lay tangled in the sheets, Amanda nestled against Sonny, her hand laid haphazardly across his chest, his hand playing absentmindedly with her hair

 

“You’re okay, right?”, he asked suddenly into the silence of the room. Amanda looked up at him, surprised.

 

“Of course. What do you mean?”, she responded, lifting her head slightly to find his eyes.

 

“I just- I know you do this and you’re good at it and I love seeing you take down bad guys but I hate watching you in those situations. Right before the other UCs step in and you flash your badge, that moment where a crime has been committed but he doesn’t know it's a setup, those moments always unsettle me.” Before he could stop himself, Sonny was rambling about his fears and worries, about how much he hated seeing Amanda in any sort of pain or peril. “And I know after what happened- since then- I just want to make sure you are okay.”

 

Amanda smiled sadly, her heart filling with love for the man next to her. She brought her hand up to cup his cheek and looked fiercely into his eyes. “I am. I promise, Dominick.” She took a deep breath before continuing. “There was a time when it really would shake me. For a few days after a sting when I was used as bait, it made me feel… different. Bad. But that was when all I knew of men was pain and manipulation. But you aren’t that. Whenever I’m in the middle of setup and it reaches that moment that you described, I go into a little corner of my brain and hide out there, and you’re there. You’ll always be there. You always have.” After Amanda finished, she realized his hand had stopped stroking her hair, and was cupping her cheek, wiping away the tears she didn’t know were gathering in her eyes.

 

Sonny smiled and kissed her forehead. “And I always will be.”