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in between (there's you and me)

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You come into the world alone
And you go out of the world alone
But in between, there's you and me

-Trampled by Turtles, "Alone"

 

Rafael's not expecting anyone to knock at his door at this hour, or, really, at any hour. He opens it with some hesitation, half-expecting, half-dreading that he'll find his mother on the other side. Instead, the lanky frame of Sonny Carisi fills the doorway. "Hey, Counselor," he says, and that's a good sign, a signal that this is work business and not anything personal. He looks exhausted. "Can I come in?"

"Sure," Barba says, taking a step back to let Carisi through the door. He waits until he's got it shut behind him before he asks, "Is there something wrong?"

"No," Carisi shakes his head. Something about him seems...off, but Rafael can't quite put a finger on it. "I just wanted to let you know that you won't have to worry about having to take another cop to court. Tom Cole's dead."

"I'm sorry to hear that," Rafael says, deciding to tread lightly. He is, too, as much as he doesn't mind escaping the circus of trying an officer, even one who raped and kidnapped a woman he'd taken under his wing, and planted evidence to frame another man to boot. He dreads to ask, given how quiet and out of sorts Carisi is, but he needs to know. "Quinn Berris?"

"She's okay. A lot shook up, but," Carisi shrugs. He's not avoiding Barba's gaze, but he's not really meeting his eyes, either. "What she's gone through...it's a hell of a thing."

Tom Cole dead, Linda Cole cooperating, Quinn Berris alive; the case was essentially wrapped up at this point. Rafael tilts his head, looking Carisi over. "Why are you here, Carisi?" he asked, letting a little brusqueness seep into his tone. Carisi had been good at respecting the boundaries Rafael set when he'd ended things between them--so good, in fact, that it occurs to Rafael that this is the first time they've been alone anywhere outside of the precinct or the courthouse. He's starting to get a little annoyed at the thought that Carisi manufactured an excuse to stop by when he's derailed at the sight of-- "Is that blood in your hair?"

Carisi's shoulders slump, even as he reaches up to touch the red-brown tangle of hair that had caught Rafael's attention. "Sorry," he murmurs. "I thought I got it all." He does look at Rafael then, a quick, hollow glance before he looks away again.

Rafael's not quite sure what expression Carisi saw on his face. "Did you--Were you--"

"No," Carisi says, and it comes out of him like a sigh, like he's deflating. "Liv shot him."

Liv shot Tom Cole when he was close enough to splatter blood into Carisi's hair. Deep down, Rafael's suddenly furious--at whatever the hell happened to put Carisi so close to death, at Carisi for showing up lost and hurting on his doorstep, at the warring impulses to either draw him close or send him away. He's had decades of practice at controlling his anger, though, so he quashes it, pushes it down and puts it aside for later. "Right," he says, all business now. "Bathroom."

Carisi follows, quiet and pliant as Rafael rids him of his winter coat--ignoring the blood splattered on the lapel, Jesus--and suitcoat, then directs him to sit on the counter. He leaves him there and goes back into the living room, slinging Carisi's coats over a chair, folded so that the blood's on the inside, and returns to the bathroom with two tumblers of scotch. "Here," Rafael says, pressing one into Carisi's hand. He takes a long sip from the other, then sets it on the counter at Carisi's hip and starts to gather his supplies.

"Of course you'd have rubber gloves," Carisi tries to joke, his weak smile not really selling it.

"I'm a queer man of a certain age," Rafael points out lightly. "I have something of an acquired aversion to bodily fluids that aren't my own." He catches Sonny by the jaw, gentle, turning his head so that Rafael can better see his face.

Up close, and in the harsh light of the bathroom, he can see dark spots where Sonny hadn't quite managed to get Cole's blood out--faint, but there now that he knows to look. The spatter extends from jaw to hairline, down the collar of his shirt, and there's even a spot in the hollow of his ear. It must have been quite the mess. Rafael wets a washcloth and squirts some soap on it, then starts to scrub at Sonny's skin. It's quiet, intimate, the walls of the bathroom filtering out the noise that sometimes drifts up from the street below. "Do you want to talk about it?" Rafael asks, soft, careful, not wanting to disturb this fragile moment.

"Not really," Sonny says quietly. Rafael nods and keeps scrubbing at the blood, the bristles of Sonny's five o'clock shadow scraping against the washcloth. Sonny seems to remember that he's holding a glass then, and he takes a sip of the scotch, wincing a little at the burn. Rafael steps back, rinses out the washcloth to give him a second. They don't meet each other's eyes; it feels like a merciful offering on Rafael's part, this illusion of privacy.

It's unsettling, Rafael thinks as he starts to scrub at the blood along Sonny's jawline. Joking aside, he never thought he'd see the day when Sonny Carisi didn't want to talk--maybe not about his trauma, he'd always been good at deflecting from that, but about Literally Anything Else In The World. This raw, quiet, shaken Carisi was someone Rafael hadn't believed could exist. He clears his throat, reaches for a topic of conversation that isn't work. "How's your niece?"

"She's good," Sonny says. "She's starting to talk already. It's weird. Seems like last week she was just a face in a blanket."

Rafael hummed in agreement, using the two fingers resting on Sonny's jaw to tip his face down so that he can get to the blood matted in his hair. "Close your eyes," he murmurs, and Sonny does, long lashes folding down as he rests his chin in Rafael's palm. Sonny's quiet again, not protesting at the water that drips down his face from the spot where Rafael's trying to work free the blood clotted in his hair. "You never answered me," Rafael says; he probably shouldn't push, but he needs to know. "Why are you here?"

"Rollins was still at the crime scene, and Bella's already in bed by now," Sonny admits. "I thought Rollins' babysitter would think I was a total creep if I showed up to hang out with Jesse."

Rafael catches the water running down Sonny's jaw with the washcloth before it can drip onto his waistcoat. "That's a joke, right?"

"Mostly," Sonny agrees. He sighs. "I don't know. It was this or a bar. I figured this was a slightly less terrible idea. I didn't expect..." He waves his glass in a vague motion that's meant to encompass the both of them, and his voice softens. "I'll go when you're done, I promise."

Rafael thinks about it as he works at the stubborn matted blood, loosening fine, sandy strands of hair one by one. He doesn't like it when things get messy. He prefers clean breaks, and he deeply appreciates that this is the first moment that Sonny has even tiptoed over the line Rafael had drawn in the sand when he'd ended things between them. (Well. There might have been some overprotective yelling when Carisi found out about the death threats, but Rafael's pretty sure he would have received that regardless of any shared intimate history.) He doesn't want to encourage further intrusions, further boundary testing.

Except.

That's not really what this is, tonight. Even Rafael can see that. Sonny's so quiet, so withdrawn. He's hurt and hurting, and he came to Rafael because he didn't know where else to go.

"Have you eaten?" Rafael asks, brusque, stepping away and to the sink to wring out the washcloth.

Sonny blinks at him. "No?"

"You should shower," Rafael says, stripping the gloves off and discarding them, then washing his hands. "I got most of it, but there's still some blood in your hair that won't come out unless you scrub at it. I'll order food." He shuts off the tap and reaches past Sonny for the towel; Sonny doesn't move out of the way, just stares at him. "Is Thai okay?"

"You don't have to--" Sonny starts.

"It's late," Rafael interrupts. "The only places nearby that deliver are Thai or Indian, and I ordered from the Indian place yesterday."

Sonny looks like he wants to argue, but he reconsiders under Rafael's best cross-examination glare. "Yeah, uh, Thai sounds good."

"Shower," Rafael says, gentle again. "I'll bring some clean clothes in for you."

He takes his scotch and leaves Sonny in the bathroom, draining the liquor from his glass as he crosses back to the bar. He stands there for a moment once he's poured another, waiting until he hears the water start up in the shower, then straightens and heads for the take out menus in the kitchen drawer. Food, then clothing. Feelings later.

Except that there's a voice in the back of his head reminding him how easy this all is. He knows Sonny's order--pad see ew, spicy, and they'll split an order of tom yum soup between them. There's a pair of Sonny's sweatpants at the back of a drawer that Rafael's been meaning to give back to him but never got around to, and he already knows which of Rafael's shirts he'll fit into best. You're just one step away from falling asleep together on the couch watching Bob's Burgers reruns, he thinks.

He orders their food, finishes his drink, takes the clothes into the bathroom. Sonny's just a silhouette behind frosted glass, rinsing out his hair, and Rafael doesn't look--doesn't need to look, really, he mapped out every curve and muscle and hollow of Sonny's body months ago. He leaves the clothes on the counter, trades them for Sonny's empty tumbler, and pointedly puts the glass next to his in the kitchen sink so that he won't be tempted to drink more.

Sonny takes forever in the shower--he usually does--so Rafael's setting out cartons of food by the time he emerges from the steamy bathroom, sweatpants low on his hips and Rafael's oldest, softest Harvard shirt clinging to his shoulders. He's toweling vigorously at his hair. Rafael almost asks to see if he's gotten the blood out, but that feels both too intimate and too stifling; there's a mirror in the bathroom, and he doesn't want to send the wrong signals. Not that he knows what signals he's trying to send, anymore. "I got you pad see ew, with shrimp," he says instead, laying silverware out next to the boxes. "And soup."

"Thanks," Sonny says, leaning back to toss the towel back into the bathroom. He goes to the kitchen and fills a glass of water for himself without asking, then joins Rafael at the table. "Smells good."

They eat quietly. Rafael hadn't realized how hungry he was until he'd started to eat, so he's halfway through his masaman curry before he realizes that neither one of them has said anything since they sat down. It's not the first time they've done that, but usually it happened when they were elbow deep in work, Rafael on his cases and Sonny on his law school papers. Now, Sonny's just staring at the table, eating his noodles methodically, his hair drying soft and loose over his forehead.

"How's the food?" Rafael asks, because for once, small talk is more appealing than not talking.

"It's good," Sonny says.

"Not too spicy?" Rafael tries.

Sonny shakes his head. "No. It's good," he repeats again. He's hunched over his plate like sitting upright is too much effort, and abruptly Rafael realizes that the decision he's been trying to avoid making was made the moment he bullied Sonny into staying for dinner.

Rafael spears a potato but doesn't bring it to his mouth. "Do you want to stay over?"

Sonny blinks up at him. "What?"

"Do you want to stay the night," Rafael clarifies, eating the potato.

"Yeah, I mean, I heard you, but--" Sonny's staring down at his half-eaten noodles now, the tips of his ears turning pink. "You don't want that."

"Why would I ask you to stay if I didn't want you to stay?" Rafael asks.

"Okay, but--You don't mean--"

"I'm not interested in picking up where we left off, romantically or otherwise, on a long-term basis," Rafael says, cutting through Sonny's flailing. "That's not on the table," and likely never would be, as long as they both remained in their respective jobs. "But if you want to stay tonight, with all that entails, you're welcome to. If you want to sleep on the couch and go out for breakfast in the morning, you're welcome to. And if you just want to go home, you're welcome to do that, too." Rafael sets his fork down. "But I have the feeling you'll stay."

He expects Sonny to ask why, and is still weighing whether or not to reply because you don't want to be alone tonight, but Sonny just inhales sharply through his nose and nods. "Okay."

"Okay what?" Rafael asks, even though he knows the answer already.

"I'll stay," Sonny says. The faintest blush of pink is rising across his cheekbones, now, but he looks more engaged and more alive than he has the entire night so far.

Rafael tilts his head, taking him in, letting himself want for the barest of moments before he nods. "Help me clean up dinner, then."

They fall into old habits, in the kitchen, and Rafael would think this a mistake if he wasn't so distracted by the way they keep orbiting around each other--Rafael packaging up the leftovers, Sonny clearing the dishes, Rafael stepping to the fridge, Sonny wiping down the table. They brush past each other, little grazes that only heighten the anticipation, until Rafael leans up against the counter as Sonny finishes rinsing out their bowls. Sonny dries his hands, stretching out the moment, before he looks up at Rafael. "Can I--"

One of his hands is already moving to cup Rafael's jaw, and Rafael steps into it before Sonny can finish his thought, tipping his head up to kiss him. Sonny is warm and familiar, even smelling like Rafael's soap, his hipbones fitting neatly into the palms of Rafael's hands. Much like he hadn't realized how hungry he was until he'd had food in front of him, he hadn't realized just how much he wanted this until he has Sonny pressing him back against the counter, drinking him in like he's water in the desert. For a moment he lets himself forget why he can't have this, why they can't do this every day.

And then Sonny stumbles back from him, his hands on Rafael's waist pushing them apart. "Hang on," he says, "just--I gotta--" He sucks in a deep breath, then another, looking away. "I gotta tell you something."

Christ, he's sleeping with Rollins, Rafael thinks. "Oh?"

"I came here from the hospital," Sonny admits, and that's enough of a non sequitur that--oh. He looks down, and he can see it now, the pinprick and bruise darkening the crook of Sonny's elbow.

Rafael remembers the pattern spattered across Sonny's face. Unbidden, his hand slides up Sonny's arm, thumb rubbing at the bruise. "You got his blood in your mouth."

Sonny nods. "And my eye. We know he used a condom with Quinn, but we don't know--"

Rafael kisses him to shut him up. He doesn't want Tom Cole in the bedroom with them. "It doesn't change anything."

"It could," Sonny insists, half-muffled by Rafael's mouth. This is one of the paradoxical things Rafael both loves and hates about Sonny Carisi--this streak of self-sabotaging nobility, running through him like a ribbon.

"When have you ever known me to use anything less than full protection?" Rafael asks, pressing his thumbs to the hollows of Sonny's hips and pushing him backwards, towards the bedroom.

"Point," Sonny concedes, allowing himself to be steered. He looks better than he has the whole time he's been in Rafael's apartment, that familiar spark in his eyes again, the plane of his shoulders evening out into something loose and easy instead of hunched and guarded. Rafael drinks him in selfishly.

"What do you want?" he asks, sliding his fingers up Sonny's ribs to peel his t-shirt off.

"Everything," Sonny groans breathlessly as Rafael licks his way over his chest, along the curve of one rib. "Fuck, I want--" His fingers fumble with the buttons of Rafael's shirt.

Rafael tumbles them onto the mattress, pushing Sonny's sweatpants down. Sonny naked and sprawled against the dark of his bedspread is a sight to behold. Rafael rolls on top of him, pinning him down, tasting the soapy-clean skin of his neck where once Tom Cole's blood lay. "Tell me," he murmurs.

Sonny succeeds in getting Rafael's shirt unbuttoned and back off of his shoulders. "I want," he says again; his skin is pink all the way down his chest. "I want you to fuck me."

"Yeah?" Rafael asks, hoping he doesn't sound as gut-punched by lust as he feels. They'd only done that a couple of times before they'd split up.

Sonny nods, tugging at Rafael's undershirt. "Yeah."

"Yeah," Rafael echoes, letting Sonny pull his shirt over his head. They kiss for long moments, Sonny's hands restless up Rafael's ribs, down his spine, up again to trace his shoulder blades. He's got Sonny cradled in his arms, those long legs wrapped around Rafael's hips, fitting together just right.

It's lovely, and half of Rafael wants it never to end, but the other half lifts his hips obligingly when Sonny tugs at his belt buckle. "Why aren't you naked yet?" Sonny murmurs against his lips.

"I got distracted," Rafael answers truthfully, but he rolls them over and lets Sonny undo his belt buckle in between kisses. He lets his hands wander, cupping Sonny's ass, twining his fingers through his soft hair, and kicks his pants off onto the floor. It's easy, for a moment, to just lie there and let Sonny run his broad hands over his skin, bending to kiss his hip, his collarbone, his forehead.

Rafael opens his eyes and catches Sonny looking--sad, maybe, frowning just a little. No, not sad; lost, distracted, slipping away. Rafael doesn't know if it's the history between them or the events of the day, but either way, it isn't helpful. "Hey," he murmurs, pulling Sonny down against him again, kissing him long and slow. The skin-to-skin contact helps pull Sonny back to him, and Rafael arches up against him shamelessly, rubbing against Sonny's hip as he reaches over his head for the drawer with the condoms and lube. Sonny kisses down Rafael's neck as he does, teeth scraping over Rafael's collarbone and making him grind up against Sonny involuntarily. You're gonna be the death of me, he thinks but doesn't say; he'd said it often enough when they were doing this on the regular.

Rafael finally gets what he needs out of the dresser, then rolls them over again, pulling the comforter back. "You still want this?" he asks, uncapping the lube.

"Yeah," Sonny says, sounding a little breathless. "Yeah, I do."

Rafael fingers him open while he kisses him, taking his time with both, until Sonny's a writhing tangle of sweaty limbs beneath him. His shower damp hair's plastered to his forehead, his eyes bright blue against the pink of his cheeks. He looks so, so good like this, and Rafael does his best to pay attention to every moment. "You ready?" Rafael murmurs, twisting his fingers inside Sonny.

Sonny sucks in a tight breath, lower lip caught between his teeth, and nods. "Okay," Rafael says, brushing Sonny's hair back from his forehead as he pulls his fingers free. He rolls a condom on quickly, then positions himself between Sonny's knees and slowly eases himself in, and--oh, fuck this feels good. Rafael lets his head fall to rest on Sonny's collarbone for a second, trying to catch his breath.

"C'mon," Sonny says, wriggling beneath him, and Rafael's hips move to meet his almost by reflex. "Christ," Sonny punches out, fingers digging into Rafael's shoulders, and Rafael pulls out just enough to slide back in, bottoming out this time. Sonny talks as much in bed as he does everywhere else, a steady stream of filth and invective and shameless begging egging Rafael on, and it's not long before they've found a rhythm. Rafael slides into him in long, smooth strokes, for once not thinking, just moving.

Sonny kisses him, hard and fierce, tangling his fingers in Rafael's hair as he moans into his mouth. "Feel so fucking good," he breathes against Rafael's lips, then he's diving in again, teeth catching on Rafael's lip. "You always--fuck," he swears, throwing his head back as Rafael hits the sweet spot.

Rafael slips a hand around Sonny's cock, jacking him with steady, sure strokes. The fingers of his other hand twine with Sonny's, pressing his whole forearm against the mattress. Sonny's still got his hand in Rafael's hair, holding their faces close, kissing him in between swears as they move together. "Gonna--goddammit, Raf, I gotta--"

"That's my boy," Rafael murmurs, too far gone to rein in his affection now. "Come on, baby, come for me."

Sonny shouts, arching his back as Rafael pounds into him, his cock pulsing in Rafael's hand as he comes. Rafael fucks him through it, not stopping when Sonny collapses back against the mattress. He lets his head hang down between his shoulders, already riding the edge of his own orgasm, breathless and ragged. Sonny's hand slides down from the back of his head to cup Rafael's jaw, the way he did when he first kissed Rafael in the kitchen, and to Rafael's undying embarrassment it's that sweet, stupid gesture that tips him into the abyss.

Rafael just breathes for those first few moments after, lingering in that warm, shared air between their bodies. Every time his cock twitches Sonny has a full body shiver, fingers clenching and releasing around Rafael's. This is his favorite part, that moment where Sonny suddenly goes quiet, and they just breathe.

Eventually, though, reality intrudes; his abs and shoulders ache, his sweat's cooling on his skin, and he needs to pull out of Sonny and get the condom off before he spills it. Sonny hisses as he does so, flinging an arm up to cover his eyes. "Be right back," Rafael promises, pressing a kiss to the soft skin of his forearm, and goes to clean up.

Sonny hasn't moved when he comes back with a washcloth, still sprawled across the sheets with an arm over his face. He shudders, oversensitive, as Rafael wipes up the mess on his stomach. "Who are you and what have you done with Barba?" Sonny rasps.

"I can be nice every once in a while," Rafael counters, one corner of his mouth tugging up into a smile.

"You're gonna ruin your reputation," Sonny says quietly. It's an old refrain between them, but Rafael doesn't mind. Maybe it's the afterglow.

He crawls back into bed once he's done, already drowsy. Sonny rolls to curl up against his chest, and that's different; he has a protective streak a mile long, and Rafael's spent many nights in the circle of his arms. He's not sure he's ever had Sonny's head tucked beneath his chin like this. Rafael runs his fingers through Sonny's hair, slow and soothing.

"I fucked up," Sonny says after a long moment, barely audible, his breath warm on Rafael's skin.

"Oh?" Rafael murmurs.

"I was--I thought he was gonna hurt her," he says, pressing his face against Rafael's chest. "I thought he was gonna kill her. And I let him get the drop on me."

"Cole?" He knows, of course, but his inner prosecutor comes out sometimes, reaching for clarification.

Sonny nods. "He had her tied up in the upstairs of this house he was renovating. There were--there was plastic everywhere, and all these doors and closets. And I was so afraid I was gonna be too late." Sonny swallows thickly. "He must've been in a closet or something in one of the rooms behind me."

Rafael presses a kiss to the top of his head. "But not behind Liv."

"She was outside, on the phone with him, trying to talk him down. I went in to try to get eyes on him."

"Just you?" Rafael asks, surprised.

"We didn't have time to wait for backup. I thought he was gonna kill her," he repeats again, softer this time. "Instead I end up on the wrong end of his gun, like a chump. If the lieu hadn't--"

"But she did," Rafael cuts him off, pulling him closer, because even if they never sleep together again, even if there's no future for the two of them as the two of them, the thought of Sonny being shot is still terrifying. "You're okay. Quinn Berris is okay."

"No thanks to me," Sonny mutters.

"You don't know that," Rafael tells him. "If you hadn't gotten there when you did, maybe Cole would have killed her. And going into that house, by yourself? Against another cop? That took a lot of bravery."

"Yeah, well, I didn't feel very brave looking down the barrel of his gun," Sonny says, voice ragged. "Begging him not to pull that trigger. I thought I was dead."

Rafael tips Sonny's chin up to look him in the eye. "You lived," he says fiercely. "And you saved Quinn, and put your own life on the line to do it. That's bravery."

"That's the job," Sonny says, looking unhappy. "I mean, what was I supposed to do, sit outside and listen to him kill her? We were the only people there."

"And you took an oath," Rafael says, remembering their conversation after Sonny had passed the bar. "To protect and serve."

Sonny nods. "Yeah," he says. "I did." Something complicated crosses his face, there and gone before Rafael can really make sense of it. "You know, Liv and I had this conversation the other day. I said I thought that being a cop changes you for the worse. She said something like, 'the job doesn't change you. It makes you more who you are.'"

"Do you think that's true?"

Sonny sighs. "I dunno. I have known some shitty, shitty cops in my day. Guys who clearly wanted the gun and the badge so they could lord it over other guys, y'know, so they could be the hottest shit on the block. Guys who thought everyone they saw was a criminal they just hadn't caught yet. But I've also known some really incredible people, too. Like Liv." He shakes his head. "If I'd shot Tom Cole... I dunno. I sure as hell would be thinking long and hard about putting that law degree to use, you know? But not the lieu."

"Would you still feel that way even if your positions had been reversed? If Tom Cole had held a gun to her head and had Quinn Berris tied up in an attic?" Rafael asked.

"Honestly?" Sonny said, and in the dim light from the street his blue eyes looked fathomless. "I have no idea if I'd even have been able to pull the trigger. And that's what scares me--not only that some day I might have to, but that I might not do it."

Rafael doesn't know the answer to that; reassurance that Sonny could find it in him to kill someone feels both cheap and hollow. "Is that why you went to law school?"

"I don't know. Maybe?" His mouth quirks into an unhappy smile. "It takes a special kind of idiot to get all the way through law school and still not have any idea if he wants to actually be a lawyer, doesn't it?"

"Plenty of people do it," Rafael points out.

"Yeah, I guess," Sonny says, but he doesn't sound convinced.

Rafael props himself up on one elbow. "You do realize that you're one of those lucky bastards who happens to be good at two separate things, right?" He holds up his hand to interrupt Sonny's protest. "No. Shush. You're a good detective. You get solid information out of people, and you're smart enough to figure out what to do with it. And you'll be a good lawyer, if you ever decide to practice. If not, going to law school probably made you a better cop." He gives Sonny a crooked smile. "My first case, we convicted the guy by the skin of our teeth. Seriously, half our evidence got thrown out. We managed a last minute Hail Mary, and I still can't believe it worked. You know what my ADA said to me?"

Sonny looks dubious. "What?"

Rafael leans forward, so they're almost nose to nose. "Take the win."

"Okay," Sonny says, sheepish. "Okay. I get your point." He takes a deep breath, letting his eyes slip closed. "Today was just...kind of a mess, you know?"

"I can imagine," Rafael says gravely. "And, frankly, I'm very glad that these sorts of things don't usually happen in my world." He leans forward and kisses Sonny, soft and chaste. "Get some sleep, Sonny."

"Yeah." Sonny settles down against his chest again. It's a long moment before he speaks. "Thanks," he murmurs. "For letting me stay, for...all of it. You didn't have to."

"You're welcome," Rafael says. "Just..."

"I know, don't make a habit of it," Sonny says.

"Well, I was going to say don't give me puppy dog eyes in the squadroom."

"Hey," Sonny protests, although it's playful. "I did great when you dumped me."

Rafael snorts. "You went undercover for a month. In a halfway house for sexual predators."

"That was coincidence," Sonny argues gamely, but then he sobers. "Seriously, though. I get it. One night only."

"I wish it could be different," Rafael says, quiet; it seems easier to say in the dark.

"Me too," Sonny murmurs. Sonny Carisi is the only person who's never responded with "It could be," has never had any difficulty understanding that Rafael's career trumps everything. Rafael had expected shouted arguments, all of Sonny's law school training coming to bear when he'd ended things; he had in fact steeled himself against any justification Sonny could have come up with. But instead Sonny had just taken it, had just wordlessly packed up the things of his that had accumulated at Rafael's over the months and said his goodbyes. "But I get why it's not."

Rafael sighs. "You're too good to me," he says, brushing a kiss across Sonny's forehead.

"Nah," Sonny disagrees. "I get why you think that, but it's not true." He scoots up, then, nudging at Rafael until he's rolled over. "Why are we lying like this, anyway?" he mutters, curling up against Rafael's back. Rafael feels better, somehow, with Sonny spooned up behind him, wrapped up in his long arms, like he's suddenly caught his balance. "Go to sleep, Rafael. If you're good, I'll let you buy me breakfast before I have my meeting with my union rep and IAB."

"I bought dinner," Rafael points out.

"Yeah, well, I nearly died," Sonny shoots back. "My coupon says that gets me one sympathy fuck and two square meals."

"I'll have to see the fine print on this coupon," Rafael grumbles good naturedly.

"Lawyers, Christ," Sonny yawns against his shoulder blade. "I'll make sure your office gets it first thing in the morning."