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Better in the Dark

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“Barba, seriously, how late are you gonna keep me here?” Sonny complained, leaning back in the chair that the counselor had placed in the middle of his office, a poor simulation of the witness stand. “It’s after eleven.” 

“Until you get this right,” Rafael, shirtsleeves rolled up to his elbows and tie pulled loose after a long day, said as he continued to pace in front of him. “Now, Detective Carisi, on the night of March 2nd, you and Detective Rollins were dispatched to the home of Caroline Mey—” 

The office lights flickered and then went out, followed by the distinct sound of electronics powering off, including the old rattling—but comforting—window air conditioning unit. 

“What the hell?” Sonny stood, but had no real plan of action after that. 

“Clearly, the power is out,” Barba’s voice came from somewhere to his left. 

“Well, thank you, Counselor,” Sonny shot back dryly, eyes finally having adjusted to the dark enough that he could make out the shapes of the furniture, and Barba, who was scowling with his arms crossed. Although he could have guessed that, even without being able to see. “Think it’s city-wide?” 

He crossed to the window to try to answer his own question, looking out into what was complete darkness. It was eerie. New York was never dark. 

“Looks to be all of lower Manhattan,” Barba said, his phone screen setting his face aglow. 

“Better save your phone battery,” Carisi suggested. “You don’t know how long it will be out.” 

“Why? The power isn’t out uptown. I’ll just go home.” 

“You’re kiddin’, right?” 

“Why would I be kidding? You said so yourself, it’s after 11. There’s no power. There’s no use in us staying here and trying to work.” 

“You’ve had to have experienced a New York blackout before. You know it’s crazy. Trains shut down, traffic lights’s much safer to stay put until everything is back on.” 

“But it’s July,” Rafael said like he was giving him new information. “There’s no air conditioning. Pretty soon this place will be a sauna.” 

“Time to put that Cuban blood to good use,” Carisi cracked, but then a thought occurred to him. “Oh shit. I better check the elevators, just in case anyone is stuck.” 

“I doubt there’s anyone else here this late.” Rafael said distractedly, still on his phone despite Carisi’s warning. 

“Still, I better check. It’s kinda my job to make sure people are safe.” 

“By all means. And if someone is stuck, just pry the doors open with your super human strength and repel down the elevator shaft.” He still didn’t look up from his phone and Carisi wondered for a moment what it might be like to so effortlessly be a jackass. 

“Or, you know, I call the fire department.” Carisi rolled his eyes, pulling his own phone from his pocket and turning on the flashlight to find his way into the outer office.

“I always knew they were really New York’s finest,” he heard Barba retort as he slipped out the door. Rolling his eyes, his made his way out into the hallway, his footsteps echoing on the marble floor in the complete silence. 

Once he reached the elevators, he pressed his ear up against each door listening for shouts for help. When he heard nothing he called out a few times just in case, but got no response. Satisfied that there was no one trapped he made his way back to Barba’s office. 

He could just make out the shape of the counselor, slumped on the couch. Apparently he’d managed to find his stash of scotch in the dark just fine. Sonny caught a glint of the glass in his flashlight just as he turned it off. 

“Well, you’ve gotten your wish,” Rafael said grumpily. “The surge pricing on a Lyft was astronomical and there’s no way I’m getting a cab right now. Looks like I’m stuck here.” 

Sonny ignored his complaint. “Do you have a flashlight or candles or anything?”. 

“Are you kidding?”

Carisi sighed. “I’m gonna see if Carmen has any.” She seemed the responsible type, he thought, turning on his phone’s flashlight again. Grimacing at the 21% battery level, he once again went into the outer office, this time stopping at Carmen’s desk.

He rummaged through her drawers, careful not to be too intrusive, and, despite the circumstances, took a few seconds to marvel at how organized she was. Finally, in a cabinet against the wall, he found one of those small emergency preparedness kits with a few of the basics. There was a flashlight and one of those little lamps that you charged by winding a handle. They would have to do. 

He stuck his phone in his pocket and the flashlight under his arm, winding the lamp as he walked back into Barba’s office. 

“Are you kidding me?” He stopped short when he once again saw the glow of Barba’s phone. 

“What else am I supposed to do? It’s dark, it’s hot.” As if to prove this fact, he reached up and pulled at his tie until it came loose, tossing it to the side. “My phone is my only source of entertainment.” 

“What’s your battery on?” 

“Don’t worry about it.” 


“Thirteen percent.” He at least had the decency to sound sheepish. 

“We need to save our batteries in case of an emergency.”

“Oh, you mean something like the power going out and being stuck here with you and having no A/C and no access to food delivery? Something like that?” 

“Is that your problem? You’re hangry?” Sonny flopped down next to him on the couch. He finished winding the lamp and placed it on the coffee table, flipping the switch. It barely emitted any light at all. 

“Oooh, impressive,” Rafael mocked, but at least he had put his phone away. 

“Let’s try the flashlight.” He pushed the button to turn it on, and the beam swept across the office. And then promptly flickered and went out again. Sonny hit the side of it a few times, trying the button again to no avail. “Guess it’s been awhile since Carmen checked the batteries.” 

“Look, can you just stop trying to play hero and admit that this sucks and there’s nothing we can do about it?”

“It’s not even hot in here yet.  We got time. Not like you weren’t content to keep me trapped here fifteen minutes ago.  Seriously, do you need me to go shake some crackers loose from a vending machine to calm you down?”  Sonny wouldn’t usually be so short with Barba, but the other man had been particularly hard on him as they went over his testimony.  He’d already had to cancel plans for drinks with friends because Barba had kept him so late.  

Only now did it occur to him that he could have just gone, that he didn’t need Barba’s permission.  At least he wasn’t stuck in on a train somewhere.  

Barba didn’t reply, just scowled at him in the dark, and Sonny sighed loudly.

“I’m not the one who blew this case,” he said, undoing his tie and unbuttoning the top two buttons of his collar before rolling up his shirtsleeves.

Rafael scoffed.  “I’m sorry, are you suggesting that I did?” 

Barba was looking at him now, his annoyed expression hidden mostly in shadow.  The light from the dim lantern on the table was rapidly fading. Carisi didn’t bother to crank it again.

“No, I’m not.  But I didn’t, and neither did Rollins.  It’s just a bad case, okay? Sometimes victims change their stories, sometimes stalkers are sympathetic, sometimes judges make stupid calls on motions.”  

“Thank you for that nuanced analysis of the criminal justice system, Carisi. What are you going to do for your next trick, explain how a bill becomes a law?” 

Sonny scrubbed his hands over his face and pushed them back through his hair, carelessly, heedless of the way it pushed the style out of place.  This late in the evening, the product had already started to give up its hold. “Real nice. Look, I know you live and die by your win/loss record, but you don’t gotta take it out on me.  We’re on the same team.”

Barba muttered something he couldn’t hear, and he leaned forward.  “Excuse me? What was that?”

“I said it’s hot in here!” Rafael snapped, shifting sharply on the sofa.  His eyes better adjusted to the dark, he could see that Barba was pulling his shirt untucked. Sonny found he couldn’t tear his gaze away as Rafael wrestled free from the straps of his suspenders, undid the buttons of his shirt, and pulled it off. Sonny didn’t know if it was the unexpected sight of him in a v-neck white undershirt or the brief whiff of his expensive-smelling cologne that made his go mouth dry.

Barba wasn’t wrong.  For all that he’d said it would be fine, it had become stuffy the moment the air had stopped blowing from the window unit that kept Barba’s office cool.  It was only getting more and more stifling with each passing minute. He glanced at his watch and swiped across its face - it was still pushing 90 degrees outside.

“This is the last place I want to be in this heat,” Rafael muttered, and Sonny grunted.

“Oh, I don’t know.  I can think of worse places.  Subway, elevator, elevator in the subway…”

Rafael huffed, but the sound was so close to a laugh that Sonny felt a brief surge of pride.

“Do you want scotch?” Rafael finally asked, after a long moment of silence.

“No,” Carisi replied, and then thought better of it.  “Eh. Yeah, actually. Thanks.” He knew the liquor would make him feel warmer, but that was temporary, and outweighed by how much more tolerable this would be with a slight buzz. 

“It’s on the desk.  There’s a couple glasses in the top right drawer.”

He didn’t know what temporary madness had made him think Barba was going to get it for him.  He should have known better. He pulled himself to his feet and instantly regretted it as a bead of sweat trickled down his back between his shoulder blades.  He poured himself more scotch than he reasonably should have, all the while wishing it was a very cold beer.  

He brought the bottle back with him to the couch.

Barba immediately reached for it, leaning forward to refill his own glass. 

“You might want to slow down,” Sonny commented, so just to be contrary, Rafael added even more scotch to his glass before setting the bottle down and leaning back again. 

The brown leather of the couch had sure looked nice when he picked it out, and it gave is office the dignified look that he’d been going for, but he was regretting it now. Even through the material of his undershirt, his back stuck to the material, coated in a layer of sweat. 

They sipped their scotch in silence, irritation radiating off of both of them. 

“Could you not breathe so loud?” 

“Are you freakin’ kidding me?” Sonny sat his glass on the coffee table with a clatter. “I’m breathing at a perfectly normal volume.” 

“Maybe for a loud mouth from Staten Island, but it’s echoing through the whole room.” 

“Has it occurred to you that I’m just as hot and annoyed by this as you are? That this is the last place I want to be right now? But I’m not being an asshole about it.” 

“What do you want me to do, Carisi? Sit on the floor with you and sing Kumbaya?”

“That would be better than you bitching every five seconds.” 

“Of course.” Even in the low light of the fading lamp, Sonny could see the eye roll. “You do seem the type to break out the acoustic guitar at parties.” 

“I don’t even know how to play guitar.” 

“Like that would stop you.” 

They were quiet again, Sonny sat back with his arms crossed, Rafael draining his scotch. 

“You know,” Sonny spoke up finally, sounding petulant. “If you’d have cited US v. Baker you probably would have won that motion to suppress.” 

It was Rafael’s turn to slam his glass down on the coffee table. 

“Dammit, Carisi, why do you always have to be so-”

“I don’t know why you always have to be such an ass to me-”

It was impossible to say which one of them had moved first.  All at once, mild irritation and bickering spiked into full throated argument that was immediately ratchetted into a physicality neither of them could have expected, or planned.  It wasn’t a fight, but it still felt violent, the way their lips crashed together, how Rafael’s fingers threaded through his hair, how Sonny gripped Rafael’s waist.  

The heat in the air was racing through them, the anger no longer able to hide the sexaul tension it had been concealing.  Rafael’s mouth was open and Sonny was licking into it, drunk on the smokey taste of scotch on his tongue and the salt of the sweat that had beaded on his upper lip.  All the times he had imagined this kiss, it had never been like this, adversarial, combative, lips and teeth and tongues moving against one another as if they had something to prove.  An argument they were desperate to win.

Sonny had the brief, insane thought that they were kissing like lawyers.

Rafael was more handsy than he expected.  Gripping the back of his neck, touching his sides, palming his ass.  He loved it, and matched Rafael’s energy eagerly, hands up under his shirt.  He did nothing but slide his hands along the flushed skin of his back, and Sonny felt the hot room had gone to sweltering.   

“You make me so crazy,” Rafael said, sucking in a breath as his nimble fingers unbuttoned buttons and worked to strip him of his shirt, tugging sharply when the tightly rolled cuffs clung to Sonny’s biceps.

“I don’t know why you make it so hard,” Sonny gasped, yanking his shirt off the one arm Rafael hadn’t managed to pull free.  He pulled off Barba’s undershirt, damp in spots where sweat had made it stick to his skin, and threw it to the floor. He wished there was light, even just the typical glow of the city streaming through the window.  He wanted to see him, with no other option, feeling him would do. 

“I mean it,” he said, kissing Barba’s neck wetly. “You make it so damn hard, and I don’t know why.  I know you like me, you know you like me and you know I like you, why do you have to be like this?”

“I’m contrary by nature,” Barba said, even as he scrambled at Sonny’s zipper.  “Do you really want to keep talking about it?”

He really didn’t.  Sonny shoved his slacks and briefs down, kicking them away.  His newly bared skin stuck to the leather couch and he grunted with displeasure.  He peeled himself from the sofa and gripped Rafael by the arms, pulling him down with him to the floor.  The carpet wasn’t cool, but it was better than the alternative. 

Rafael came with him willingly.  He squirmed to get out of his slacks, struggling where they stuck on his shoes.  Rafael swore and sat up, yanking his feet free and pushing the tangled wreck of his clothes and shoes away.  He jostled the coffee table and the bottle of scotch clattered and fell on its side. Barba didn’t seem to care, and Sonny sure as shit didn’t.  He gripped the back of Rafael’s neck and pulled him back down into a searing kiss.

Their sweat slick skin pressed together, miserable in the oppressive heat, but so fucking sexy that Sonny couldn’t get enough of it.  He couldn’t wait, it was too hot to tease and draw it out. He pushed a hand between their bodies and gripped Barba’s cock, long and thick and hard in his hand.  He couldn’t look at him the way he wanted, so he committed to learning him by touch, by sound, by taste.  

Rafael moaned, thrusting into Sonny’s hand, dropping his head to scrape his teeth across Sonny’s slick shoulder.  Short nails scratched lightly down his sides; every place Rafael touched him felt like electricity.  

“Fuck, that’s good,” Rafael breathed, but when Sonny snaked his other arm around his body to pull him closer against him, he groaned in complaint.  “Ugh, it’s too hot, dammit Carisi-”

“God, you really are a son of a bitch.” The words lacked the bite of their earlier argument.  Barba slid off Sonny onto the floor and kissed him again to shut him up, biting his lip and making him moan.

“It’s boiling in here, we’ll stroke out lying on top of each other.”  He may be running his mouth, but he wasn’t letting go of Sonny either, skimming a hand down his body and wrapping his fingers around his prick and giving him a few languid strokes.

“Christ,” Sonny choked, and turned onto his side, a little closer, but not pressed up against him.  He palmed Rafael’s ass and the other man rolled onto his stomach, never breaking the slow stroke of his hand on Sonny’s dick. 

Wordlessly, Sonny lifted his hand to Rafael’s mouth, two fingers brushing over his lips.  Barba knew what he wanted at once, flicking his tongue out over his fingertips for only a moment before he captured them in his mouth. He bobbed his head, sucking and swirling his tongue around them as Sonny shallowly thrust them back and forth.  He couldn’t help but imagine how it would feel if it were his cock instead of his fingers, and he groaned.

When he finally pulled his hand back, his fingers were slick from Rafael’s mouth, but he spit on them anyway for good measure.  Rafael arched his back and angled his ass up and Sonny groaned. He wasn’t even touching him yet.

Not that he could wait long.

The sounds Rafael was making by the time Sonny had one finger screwed into him were more intoxicating than the scotch ever could have been.  

By the time it was two fingers, Rafael was pushed up from his knees with his ass in the air and his cheek pressed against the carpet.  

Sonny was sitting up beside him now.  Sweat trickled down his back as he stared down at Rafael, trying to capture every angle, to sear the image of him naked in the dark into his memory. Rafael’s hand was still wrapped around his prick, though his rhythm became uneven when Sonny curled his fingers and pressed against his prostate.  

“Fuck, yes, there, right there, come on.”  Rafael was rocking back against his hand. Sonny wished they were at his apartment, or hell, the back room of a damn bodega, anywhere with lube and condoms.  He’d give almost anything to get up on his knees behind Barba and bury himself inside him, to give Rafael what he was asking for.

He leaned down and spit on Barba’s asshole, just wet enough so he could work in a third finger.  Rafael gasped and keened, and Sonny stayed on his prostate, pressing with each thrust, rolling his fingers back and forth across it. Barba was squirming back against him, the hand that wasn’t frantically jerking him scratching helplessly at the carpet.

Sonny could only imagine his cock hanging down, swollen and red and dripping as he worked that bundle of nerves so precisely, so relentlessly.  He wished he could see it, but right now, just feeling Rafael and hearing him gasp and whine in the dark was more than enough.

“God, fuck, don’t stop, I- I’m… fuck!, I…” Rafael couldn’t get his mouth around a sentence.  Every time he tried he broke off in a gasp or a moan as Sonny fucked him with his fingers.

It was alright.  Sonny knew what he was trying to say.

“Yeah, that’s right.  Come on Barba, I want to make you come.”  He thrust once more, hard, and stayed pressed in tight, his fingertips rubbing a hard, tight little circle. “C’mon counselor, give it to me.” 

Rafael did.  He jerked and tensed, shouting hoarsely as he came untouched onto his office floor.  His grip on Sonny was tight, but the pleasure of his touch was almost secondary to the pleasure of what he had just done, knowing he had just made Rafael Barba come with his fingers inside him.

Slowly, Rafael relaxed, letting out a slow breath.  Even as the clench around Sonny’s fingers eased up, Barba’s hand began to move again.  He was coming down, but Carisi was still wound so tight. Rafael jerked him hard, fast, swiping his thumb over his head.  It was just what he needed, matching the frantic energy still pulsing through him. 

It was the stray thought that this must be how Barba touched himself that did Sonny in.

He groaned loud and low as he came in streaks across Barba’s hip and thigh.

He slumped down to the floor, wrapping an arm around Rafael and pulling him tight, needing to kiss him just one more time.  It was intense at first, as desperate and hungry as though they had just begun, and Rafael clung to him, fingers threading through sweat-damp hair, but after a moment, Sonny decreased the pressure, drinking in kisses slowly now. 

He couldn’t stop, unwilling to let his lips leave Barba’s for more than a few seconds, and even then, he placed them along the other man’s jawline and neck, enjoying the taste of his salty skin. 

“Get off of me, it’s too hot,” Rafael groaned, finally, and as much as Sonny would have liked to stay pressed against him, he couldn’t disagree. It was sweltering, oppressive.  He flopped onto his back on the floor, close enough that their shoulders were almost touching.

The room was so still.  No hum of electronics or soft whirr of fans, no din of the city outside the windows. The only sound in the room was their breathing, not quite in tandem, asynchronous as they panted in point and counterpoint.  Still lawyers. The argument was ending now, though, as their breathing slowed and their hearts slowly stopped racing. 

Sonny touched the back of Rafael’s hand, and Rafael turned it to lace their fingers together, palm to palm. 

“Do you think if we went outside, we could see stars?” Sonny finally asked, breaking the silence.

“Mm. Probably not,” he said, and then, “Besides, didn’t you just see plenty?”

Sonny laughed, just as the lights came back on.