Amanda had always loved the idea of getting her soulmark. It was something that she’d been dreaming about since she was a little girl. Her grandparents always talked about how wonderful it was when they got theirs and how special it was when they finally found each other. It was all she ever thought about. She would spend her days in school drawing shapes and other doodles all over her arms and legs with her markers. Sometimes she would color them in —like her cousins — and other times she would just leave them as black outlines — like her grandparents. She loved hearing stories from other people about the moment they first got their soulmark and what it was really like. She asked her mother one night about the soulmark on her right inner wrist and was surprised when her mother started crying. She never asked about it again.
The day her father left was the last time she hoped for her soulmark. She checked her body every morning praying that she was one of the ‘unlucky’ few to not ever receive a soulmark. She didn’t want one anymore. Not if it meant potentially suffering the same pain she watched her mother go through day after day.
When her soulmark finally showed up, she was fourteen and in gym class. She was in the locker room changing when she felt a stinging sensation radiating through her left side. She hissed out in pain through her teeth and when the stinging finally subsided, she lifted up her sweater and her body went numb.
A series of intricate flowers and vines stretched from just under her left boob, down over her ribs, and then around to creep just over her lower back. She stared at it in awe, never thinking this would ever happen. She didn’t want this. She jerked her sweater back down and tucked it into the waistband of her jeans as an extra precaution.
The bell rang suddenly, signaling the end of class, and Amanda was grabbing her things and out the locker room door in seconds, only waving a quick goodbye to her couple of friends still changing. Students climbed the staircases leading up to the main level, all of them eager to finally be done with the school day and ready to spend their weekend at home or with friends.
Amanda pushed her way into the crowd of sophomores and rode the wave all the way to the front office where she sat waiting for her mom. Just like every other day. She sat back in the chair by the office doors, sighing as she rested her head against the window behind her seat. She took a few deep breaths as she set her backpack down on the ground between her feet.
A few of the office ladies gave her strange looks as she waited but she paid them no attention. They always looked at her like that. Every single time she waited in the office after school, they knew what it meant. That her mom was somewhere that little kids couldn’t go and she would be late picking her daughters up.
Luckily for her, Amanda was already enough of a parent for Kim and herself that they didn’t really bother worrying about it most of the time. And luckily for Amanda, Kim had soccer after school today so she had at least another two hours before she had to go and pick her up. She let herself relax into the chair, eyes closed and head leaning back against the window.
And then she felt it. A sharp pain shooting up the side of her left leg. Her head shot up and she hissed out in pain while reaching down and clutching her calf in both hands. The sharp pain lasted for a few seconds and then was replaced by a dull stinging. She looked around curious if anyone saw something happening but no one was even looking her way. She looked back down at her leg, carefully rolled her pant leg up and —
Nothing. There was nothing there.
“What the…” she asked under her breath while her fingers brushed up and down her unmarked skin.
It was strange. She could feel the pain in her leg but she was fine. Completely fine. The only mark on her leg was the nic from the razor she’d tried to use the night before.
She looked up when the older of the office ladies, Mrs. Godsill, spoke suddenly from the space in front of her. She was a kind lady with three kids of her own and the warmest smile.
Mrs. Godsill bent over slightly so she could look Amanda better in the eyes. “Is everything alright, dear? You look a bit pale.”
Amanda cleared her throat and rolled her pant leg quickly back down. “Uh yeah,” she hurried out as she grabbed her backpack from the ground and stood abruptly. “Yeah. I’m fine. I just uh...I forgot that Kim’s out early today so I should probably get going.”
With her backpack up on her shoulders and pain still ghosting over her skin, Amanda rushed out of the building as fast as possible. She needed time to think.
Amanda was thirty-six when she met Dominick Carisi and could not have been less interested in anything he had to say. Everything that came out of his mouth annoyed her, that damn mustache was beyond hideous, and worst of all….
She hadn’t noticed it at first. And why would she have? She didn’t want a soulmate in the first place so why would she care enough to wonder who hers could be? She didn’t. She didn’t care.
At least, that’s what she tried to convince herself of. Every single day since she saw it and realized what it meant, she tried her hardest to put it out of her mind. To act like she didn’t give a rats ass about anything he said.
And then he shaved. He shaved and got better fitting suits and suddenly, she found it hard to not care anymore. All she wanted was to forget about the stupid vines and flowers hidden away beneath her clothes. But then they would be working late. Past the time that any of them were supposed to be here and she’d remember all over again.
Because he’d sit there across from her and roll up the sleeves of his shirt and her heart would flutter. Her heart would flutter and her stomach would churn and she’d have to excuse herself to the bathroom. She’d spend ten minutes splashing her face with cold water until she managed to cool herself down. And when she came back, he’d ask her if she was okay and she’d say yes and the whole process would repeat case after case after case. It was getting exhausting.
Way more exhausting than she’d anticipated.
But at least she had Nick to distract her from anything soulmate related.
Until it all comes crashing down around her.
They’re laying in bed, Nick on his back in the middle, and Amanda curled up on her side next to him, when she shoots up and screams out in pain. Nick startles awake and is at her side in an instant.
“Rollins. Hey, what’s going on? What is it?”
She’s crying now and clutching at her stomach in pain. He lays a hand on her back and tries to get her to look at him but it‘s no use. Her breathing is ragged and heavy and she’s trying to speak through the pain but he can barely hear her.
“Amanda, what is it? What are you trying to say? I can’t understand you dammit,” he growls out while moving around on the bed until he’s sitting in front of her with one hand on her shoulder and the other on her knee over the blanket.
She finally looks up at him with tears streaming down her face and manages to say one word, “Sonny.”
They get the call ten minutes later. Carisi has been shot.
She can barely breathe when they hear what happened. It makes her want to die inside. He had tried to be a hero. A little girl had been attacked and her family stalked. He’d volunteered to stay with them overnight in case anything were to happen because that’s the kind of man he is. Two men had broken in — one of whom was the man who’d attacked and assaulted their eight-year-old daughter Thalia. Sonny had managed to knock one of them out before being shot twice in the stomach.
Amanda grabs her shoes and keys and is out of the apartment before Nick can hang up the call with the Lieutenant. He manages to get down to the car before she speeds off with both of their phones in his hoodie pocket.
“Where is he?” She rushes into the waiting area where Fin, Munch, and the Lieutenant are all already waiting.
Fin and Munch are seated in the chairs along the wall while Olivia is pacing the hall but she stops when she sees Amanda barreling towards them, Nick not far behind.
She notices the tears on Amanda’s face but chooses to ignore them. If she’s crying like that then there must be a reason.
“He’s in surgery.” Olivia steps towards her two detectives with a hand up to keep them put. “We don’t know how long it will be but the doctor is optimistic. He said that we got there just in time. Any longer and he’s not sure if Carisi would’ve made it.”
Amanda nods along with everything Liv tells her after that even though she hasn’t heard a single word she’s said. She can’t focus on anything else right now. All she can focus on is the guilt and pain settling deep in her chest. The pain in her stomach isn’t as bad now having finally dulled to a manageable level. It’s still there though. A dull sort of constant throbbing just under the skin where her mark lays. It’d be enough to drive anyone else insane but for her, it’s just a reminder that he’s still there. He’s still alive.
She places her hand on the section of the sweater covering her mark, closes her eyes, and takes a deep breath while trying hard to focus on the warm feeling she gets from being so connected. It doesn’t happen often — usually only when one of them gets hurt — and when it does, it goes away within a few minutes of the accident. She’s secretly hoping this time it never goes away.
A hand coming to rest on her arm pulls her out of her thoughts and she’s opening her eyes and looking up at Olivia.
“Hey, he’s out of surgery,” Olivia says, smiling. “He’s going to be okay.”
Amanda breathes a sigh of relief, her whole body melting and slumping down into the chair that she’d claimed as her own. They’ve been waiting for almost three and a half hours and now they’re finally in the clear.
She sits up suddenly. “Can we see him? Is he awake?”
Olivia looks around the waiting room until she spots Sonny’s doctor speaking with a nurse at the end of the hall. “Let’s go find out,” she says and starts toward the doctor, Amanda quickly out of her seat and following behind. “Excuse me, Dr. Layne, are we able to see him now? We’ve all been waiting out here for a while and would really like to know that he’s okay,” Olivia asks as the rest of the squad joins the conversation.
The doctor looks between the group members. “Well, that depends. Are any of you his immediate family? Only immediate family is allowed in at the moment.”
“I called his sister,” Nick speaks up from next to Amanda. “Their whole family is at a cousin’s wedding in New Hampshire. She said they’d be on the first plane back as soon as possible.”
“I’m sorry, but until his family gets here, no one else is allowed in that room besides the hospital staff.”
Fin pushes his way forward towards the doctor. “We’re all the family that kid’s got right now.”
Dr. Layne folds his arms across his chest and stands his ground. “I’m sorry but—”
“I’m his soulmate. Doesn’t that make me family?”
Amanda doesn’t even realize she’s said it until all eyes are on her. Dr. Layne obviously doesn’t believe her, Fin and Munch look bewildered and confused, Benson seems utterly unfazed, and Nick looks crushed. She knows he’s seen her mark before and knows what it means but still, he averts his gaze fast and clears his throat.
“Soulmates are serious business, detective. They are not something to joke about so willy nilly.”
“I am serious. Completely. I’m his soulmate. The mark he has on his left forearm matches the one I have here—a” she lifts up the bottom of her shirt “—which is exactly where I felt the pain earlier that woke me up. Ten minutes before we even knew about the shooting.”
They all watch in wonder as the doctor looks over Amanda’s mark and then stands up a little bit straighter and gestures for her to follow him down the hall and through the double doors. She turns to the rest of the team and when Liv nods to her telling her it's alright, she follows Dr. Layne through the double doors.
“He’s sleeping right now so just be quiet when you go in. If you need anything just look for any of the nurses and they can help you out. I’ll check back in in a few hours.”
He leaves her alone at the door to Carisi’s room and stalks off back down the hallway. Amanda watches him go and then looks back through the window into the dim hospital room. She turns the handle slowly and cracks the door open enough for her to slip inside and closes the door quietly behind her. The eerie silence is overwhelming as she steps further into the room, the only noises being the steady beeps coming from his monitors and the sound of his breathing from where he lies in the bed. She takes a few steps closer until she’s standing at his side.
He looks so peaceful just lying there but she knows that he’s in pain. She can feel it. Being so close to him...she can feel everything. The beat of his heart. The rush of his blood. Even the throbbing stinging pain of the wounds that have since been treated. She reaches out a tentative hand and uses her fingers to brush back a lock of hair that had fallen away from the rest. He stirs from the brush of her fingers against his skin but doesn’t wake.
“I don’t know if you can hear me,” Amanda starts in a hushed tone as she takes a seat in the chair next to his bed, “but I wanted to tell you something. Something I probably should’ve told you a long time ago. I uh...I’m your soulmate. I have your mark on my stomach. I’ve had it since I was fourteen.”
She sniffles and wipes at her nose with the sleeve of her sweater.
“Back then though, I didn’t want a soulmate. I hated the idea so much that I hid my mark any chance I got. I refused to let anyone see it. And then somewhere along the line, I started liking the idea of having someone of my own. I had never met you, but still, I found myself longing for you. Longing for the day when I could see you, touch you...feel you.”
Leaning forward, she takes the hand closest to her into her own and holds on.
“And then I actually met you and I wanted nothing to do with you. I was so scared of what it meant to finally know who you were, that I pushed you away. I started convincing myself that I didn’t care. But Sonn—”
Hot tears drip down onto her cheeks but she doesn’t bother wiping them away and finally lets herself go. All of the guilt and anger come flooding back and mix with the fear she felt at the thought of losing him.
“I do care,” she cries out, burying her face against his arm, “please don’t leave me. Please. I love you. I need you, Dominick. You — you can’t leave me yet. Wake up. Please, just wake up.”
She sobs into the fabric of his hospital gown, her hands gripping around his tight; afraid of what might happen if she lets go. He can’t go yet. He has to wake up. They haven’t had any time yet.
She feels his fingers curl around hers and slowly lifts her head to look at him only to find him already watching her.
It takes her a moment to realize that this is really happening and then he’s smiling up at her and she feels like she can’t breathe.
“Hi there,” his voice is scratchy but it still makes her heart soar.
Amanda takes a second to respond but when she does, her voice is trembling and she smiles back at him. “Hi. I’m glad you’re awake.”
“Yeah. Me too.” He laughs a little while wincing as he tries to push himself up into a sitting position.
Amanda finally shakes herself out of it and surges forward to wrap her arms around him and bury her face in his neck. He can feel her tears on his skin and brings one arm up to wrap around her waist and pull her in close. He holds on, not wanting to let her go, and closes his eyes as he leans his head onto hers and just lets her cry. They’ve never been this close and now...he can feel it. He can feel everything. Like every part of him is buzzing. The buzz is the strongest underneath his mark and sets his skin on fire. It burns the brightest where her skin is touching his and he knows that it’s her. After all these years, they’ve finally found their way to each other.
He opens his eyes and glances down at her trembling body smiling, presses a kiss to her hair, and then closes his eyes again as he lays his head back down on top of hers.