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Rafael takes his coffee the same way every morning: black, two packets of Splenda, in front of his giant kitchen window, with a side of hot, naked neighbor.

Rafael…he is not proud. He is not proud that he actually rushes to get his coffee ready and the newspaper set up so he doesn’t miss any bit of the action from across the alley. He is not proud that he’s eavesdropping on a private part of the stranger’s morning. He is not proud that watching his hot neighbor get dressed is the highlight of his day.

Coming to that sad realization, Rafael almost hides in his kitchen to drink the coffee instead. First of all, it’s creepy. It’s creepy right? To watch his neighbor dress? But…surely the man must know the show he’s putting on by dressing in front of a window. Surely the man must know someone on the streets of New York likes what they see.

Second, he’s never met the man. He would never be bold enough to approach the man if they met on the street. Rafael is a courageous man, his head is held high and he walks with the sort of swagger like he owns every damn place he walks into. But when it comes to this man, this stranger…he would never be able to say anything.

And what would he say?

Hey, I’m the creep who watches you change every morning?

The grey suit you wore two weeks ago was incredibly sexy?

Your ass was sculpted by gods?

And oh god, here he comes. Fresh out of the shower, wild hair curling from the humidity of the bathroom, water dripping down his chest, towel wrapped haphazardly around his waist.

Dios mio, Rafael thinks. The younger man is so gorgeous. He combs his hair back so it’s perfectly set before removing the towel to dab water from his chest and arms.

Rafael just watches, transfixed, as the young man slips on his three piece suit before winking at Rafael and exiting the room.

Rafael’s black coffee with two packets of Splenda goes cold beside him.  

Chapter Text

“Carisi!” Rafael yells instead of ‘five’, which is what he rolled.

“HA!” Sonny laughs out loud, falling over onto the floor. When he regains his breath and is able to sit back up, he holds out a hand. “Thousand bucks, baby.”

Rafael glares at him as he counts out a thousand dollars in blue fifties and light orange hundreds because he’s out of five-hundreds. “Here you go,” Rafael grumbles. “You jackass.”

Sonny grins widely, accepting the fake bills.

“I’m almost out of money,” Rafael says. “What am I supposed to do?”

“Roll better,” Sonny sarcastically mutters, as if he’s not controlling almost the entire board. He’s got properties on all four rows, hotels on the most expensive (green and dark blue properties), and on the red spaces, which are the most likely to be landed on. Rafael is screwed no matter where he goes. Simply rolling better is not going to save him in this game.

Rafael chuckles into his glass of whiskey. “Shut the hell up,” he says, taking a sip.

“Tell ya what,” Sonny says, swaying where he’s sitting.

Rafael looks into his heavy lidded eyes, which are in their current state from both alcohol and the lateness of the hour. Why they thought playing Monopoly after a few rounds of drinks with the team would be a good idea, who knows? Either way, now they’re sitting on the floor next to the coffee table, Sonny’s long legs stretched so his toes are poked under Rafael’s thigh.

Sonny continues, “Next time you land on these spaces,” he points a wobbly finger at the red spaces, “Instead of payin’ me, you can take your pants off.”

Rafael almost spits out his sip. “When did this turn into strip-Monopoly?”

“When you ran outta hundreds.”

Rafael rolls his eyes and hands Sonny the dice to roll.

Three rolls later, Rafael lands on one of Sonny’s red spaces. Sonny lifts an eyebrow and looks at him expectantly. Rather than going completely bankrupt, Rafael stands to pull off his slacks. Sonny whistles and tucks one of his many $500 bills in the waistband of Rafael’s briefs.

Chapter Text

“Oh my god,” Rafael groans.

Carisi sighs. “What?”

“I just don’t want to do trial prep with this witness tomorrow. They’re too wishy-washy.”

“I’ll do it,” Carisi mutters. “I mean, I know what to do, what to go over.”

“Really?”

“For a price,” Carisi says, grinning.

“I will do anything.”

Carisi sits up a little bit straighter. “Anything?!”

“Anyth—“ Rafael’s eyes narrow. “Wait, no, no—“

“You said anything!” Carisi cries, jumping out of his seat. “I’ll do trial prep at ten, then I’ll pick you up tomorrow night at eight!”

Rafael glares at that stupid cocky grin exiting his office.

Rafael knows exactly what Carisi is going to make him do. Again. They’ve done it three times in the past month because, for some weird reason, Carisi loves it. And he probably just loves it so much because Rafael hates it.

It doesn’t help that Rafael is still feeling the pain from the last time they did it. The soreness his ass went through for days after. At least Carisi is gentle, and careful, knowing Rafael doesn’t have as much experience doing this as he does.

But if Carisi is willing to take on trial prep with this awful witness, sure. He’ll do whatever the hell Carisi wants. As if he doesn’t spend most of his life doing whatever the hell Carisi wants.


 

Eight arrives the next evening, and Rafael, bundled in his heaviest coat and scarf, waits by the door for Carisi. Carisi is never late, he will ring the buzzer in three…two…one—

Rafael watches his clock tick to eight exactly as the buzzer sounds. With a smile, he grabs his keys and heads downstairs.

Carisi quickly kisses him in greeting. He’s still getting used to that.

They walk a few blocks to enter Central Park, where Carisi directs them right to the freakin’ ice skating rink.

“I swear, if I fall again—“

“I’ll catch you.”

Rafael looks at the other man. He looks soft, caring, and Rafael will put the damn skates on for that face. Damn the man. Damn that face. Damn ice skating.

Chapter Text

“Sonny, come on, we need to get up,” Rafael whines.

Sonny throws a leg over Rafael’s bare thighs. “Five more minutes.”

“Sonny—“

Sonny cuts him off with a kiss. A soft kiss, a tiny press of warm lips on warm lips. Barely there, barely a whisper of skin touched.

Rafael stops squirming instantly. He lays pliantly awaiting another kiss.

“I know your weakness,” Sonny says, kissing Rafael’s jaw. “It’s kisses.”

Rafael snorts. When the hell did his life become ‘your weakness is kisses’?

When the kisses were from Sonny, obviously.

Sonny keeps kissing him. Everywhere. Everywhere his lips can reach without squashing Rafael. Not that Rafael would mind being squashed into the bed, not by Sonny’s bony frame.

“You’re doomed,” Sonny mumbles against Rafael’s skin.  

Rafael runs his hands through Sonny’s hair. “We really do need to get up,” he says, instantly regretful.

“Not until every piece of your skin has been touched by my lips.”

“That’s quite poetic.”

Sonny hums against his chest. He slides on top of Rafael, and Rafael just spreads his legs to make room. He grips Sonny’s hair again to hold on.

Long minutes pass, but Rafael stops counting when Sonny’s kisses turn into sucks and bites, licks and nibbles here and there down his torso. His eyes drift shut and he thinks he could possibly fall asleep once again, the day not being important enough yet--until Sonny’s tongue dips into his belly button.

Rafael bites his lip and groans, stretching under Sonny.

“Why do you do that to me?” he asks.

“’Cause you do—“ Sonny tongues his belly button again. Rafael’s back arches slightly. “—That.”

Sonny continues kissing, killing Rafael inch by inch, lick by lick. Rafael holds his breath…Sonny’s hot breath ghosts over his rigid cock, previously unnoticed until then, honestly. Sonny’s mouth along the rest of his body was enough.

And then Sonny decides to kill him all over by skipping his erection entirely to kiss his thighs instead.

“You’re killing me,” Rafael sighs.

“I told you,” Sonny teases. “Kisses are your weakness.”

“Only from you, mi amor.”

Chapter Text

The cup of coffee between Sonny's frozen fingers feels fantastic. He's sipping it as slowly as he can while keeping in mind he's only got eighteen minutes before he needs to leave for class.

He's cramming the last of his notes before the giant quiz he has later. His reward for answering a practice question is a sip of hot, creamy coffee.

The door to the little shop swings open, as it has about thirty times in the past ten minutes. It's not because customers are entering--it's about to close so Sonny's the last customer. But the snow storm and heavy wind going on outside the glass windows is causing the doors to swing open. Sonny, because he's closest to the door, and the only person in the shop, gets up to close it again without looking.

Instead of closing the door, he walks into a man. A short man with a gigantic coat and a raw red nose. And a very annoyed look on his face. And beautiful green eyes. And perfectly combed hair. And a pink tie tucked under his coat.

Sonny's coffee just became the second hottest thing in the room. Or the third, if you take the temperature of the red, embarrassed blush that is spreading along Sonny's cheek.

Sonny can't stop staring into the pretty man's eyes.

He sees the man lift an eyebrow. "Uhm..." he mumbles impatiently.

"Oh, sorry. Door keeps swingin' open. I was gonna shut it before I...ran into you."

The man gives Sonny a look that says, 'I didn't ask you.'

Sonny steps aside for the man to brush passed him. He's cold. Sonny wants to bundle him up; his small frame looks like it'd fit perfectly in Sonny's arms.

Now sufficiently distracted, Sonny does his best to resume studying, but he can't help eavesdropping on the grumpy little man ordering.

"I need the biggest coffee you have. Black. As hot as you can without killing me."

Sonny sips from the mug resting abandoned on his little table.

"Kay..." the young barista named Sam says. "That'll be..." So slowly, he taps out the order on the machine to find the price. The man rolls his eyes. Sonny feels sorry for Sam, it's about closing and he must really want to go. Not that he was that quick with Sonny's order, either.

"Let me get your cup," the younger man says.

The man grunts, annoyed. Sonny just watches.

Minutes later, Sam comes back with the steaming cup of coffee. He gives the other man the price.

The other man reaches into his coat pocket and pauses. He reaches into his trouser pocket and pauses again.

"Shit," he mumbles. He closes his eyes and Sonny knows that pose: he forgot his wallet.

Sonny--out of the kindness of his jelly-filled heart, and because this angry man looks like he desperately needs that hot, black coffee--jumps up to pay for the stranger's drink.

"Hey, I got it, don't sweat."

The man looks at Sonny with a stunned expression.

"No, no," he says. "I'll just run back to my office. Give me ten minutes."

"Sorry sir," Sam says. "I'm closing as soon as he leaves in--" the boy checks his watch. "Eight minutes."

This causes Sonny to check his watch, too. Shit. He's wasted so much time ogling the pretty stranger.

The man looks at Sonny, clearly thinking about it. Finally, he agrees, and Sonny hands over a some cash.

The barista leaves to clean up another station and the man turns to Sonny.

"Thank you," he simply says. It's genuine. Sonny can tell when someone offers meaningful thanks.

"No problem. I can tell you needed it."

The man gives Sonny a tiny smile. Oh, it's cute. Not only is he hot as a cup of black coffee, but he's cute as a mocha frappacino.

"Yes, I certainly do. I need to pull an all-nighter. The case I'm working on is killing me."

Sonny perks up. 'Case'? "Hey, are you a lawyer? I'm in law school, headed there now. Got a quiz I was crammin' for before...before you walked in."

The man smiles again. "Well, I'll let you get back to studying. Thank you again for the coffee--"

"Dominick," Sonny says. "Dominick Carisi Jr., but everyone calls me Sonny."

"Sonny," the man repeats. "Rafael Barba. Listen, if you...ever need help with school--" Rafael reaches into his coat pocket, then heaves a disappointed sigh. "I don't have any cards, they're in my wallet."

Sonny takes the pen he always carries from his pocket, then takes Rafael's steaming cup out of his hand.

"Give me a call," Sonny says with the cutest smile he can muster. It's received shining reviews before.

"Alright," Rafael says, hesitating before bidding Sonny another thanks and goodbye.

Sonny watches him go. Sonny hopes he'll call. Sonny hopes he can see more smiles from the man.

Sam drags Sonny from his daydream. "You're going to be late," is all he has to say for Sonny to scramble to grab his things.

He rushes to the subway station, rushes to class, rushes through his quiz, Rafael never leaving his mind once.

Chapter Text

Sonny never imagined he'd dread doing something he's so passionate about, but every time he gets out of his car in morning, his stomach drops with doom.

He used to love going to work; sculpting young minds, building humans into suitable adults. That was until Rafael Barba began teaching across the hall.

How Sonny has survived from August until Spring Break is a mystery. He's been madly in love with the Spanish teacher since day one, and every day is agonizing.

He manages to avoid the other man through the front office, through the teacher's workroom, then through the halls to his classroom. But he knows he can't avoid Barba forever...he's tried.

Sonny removes the messenger bag from his shoulder and unpacks his things: a cup of yogurt, a banana, and stacks upon stacks of recently graded papers. Spring break cannot come soon enough. He can't grade another paper. The repetition is getting the best of him. He can't read another bland journal entry from an unimaginative tenth grader.

Sonny's about to sit down to eat his banana in peace, but his classroom door swings open.

"Whatup, Son-ward?" the teenage girl says.

Sonny rolls his eyes. "I'm pretty sure I've asked you about six-hundred times to stop calling me that, Alyssa."

Alyssa just smiles, her mouthful of braces shining.

"What are you doing here anyway?" he asks her.

"You told me to come in to get some extra credit."

"Geez, you remembered? You can't even remember to come to my class when you're supposed to."

"I knew you had yogurt."

Sonny glares at her. "You keep your paws off my yogurt."

Alyssa laughs. "Well, you gonna give me somethin' to do or not? 'Cause I have about ten things I'd rather be doing right now."

Sonny hadn't really planned on giving Alyssa anything to do, because he didn't expect her to come in for extra credit. She's missing about twenty journal entries, which she could make up, but Sonny will bulge his eyes out if he needs to read another two-hundred words about what the teen wants to do for Spring break.

"Uh, start by cleaning the white board and I'll think of something for you to do."

"Exhilarating," she mutters, wandering to the board.

"Hey, nice usage."

She gives him a thumbs up and starts her first task.

Sonny eats his banana quickly before opening up the yogurt and taking a bite. Alyssa is still at the board when the door swings open a second time.

Oh crap, it's Barba. And he looks amazing. Fresh faced, clean shaven, not a hair out of place and beaming. Sonny doesn't know how he does it. Actually, he does. He knows Barba drinks at least three cups of coffee before the kids arrive.

"Mr. Carisi, excellent." He spots Alyssa and frowns. "Oh, I didn't know you were with a student."

"Ignore her, give her a taste of her own medicine." Sonny smiles at Alyssa, but instead of sassing him back as the teen usually does, she wipes nothing from the corner of her lip. Sonny realizes she's trying to tell him he's got food on his mouth. Sonny blushes deeply.

Barba chuckles. "Oh, not Miss Rodriguez."

"No sé de qué está hablando," Alyssa says to Barba.

Barba laughs, but he turns his attention to Sonny again. "Hey, Sonny, since its Friday, I was wondering if you want to have a current events relay."

It's a game they play every few weeks with deserving class periods. Since their rooms are across the hall and the classes they play with are trustworthy, the teachers stand in the doorways to hand each other current events questions for their class to answer. It's a race to see who can get the most questions correct during the class period.

Sonny agrees. "Sure. Uh...how about second period?"

"Perfect," Barba says, smiling warmly. "Hey, did you...do something different with your hair?"

Sonny runs a hand through the short haired sides of his head. "Uh, nope. Same as usual."

"Looks good," Barba says before leaving the room briskly.

Sonny stares as the spot the other man occupied.

Alyssa cracks up from her spot. "Man! You got it bad! Tu lo amas!"

"You be quiet, I do not."

Alyssa resumes scrubbing the board. "He's single, you know?"

"And how would you know?"

"I asked him."

"What?! You--I can't even begin to tell you how inappropriate that is! And this!"

"Relax, hombre. Also, he said he's interested in someone right now."

Sonny eyes her. "So?"

"So? It's obviously you, tonto."

"No..."

"Yeah! He always talks about how great a teacher you are, how passionate you are, how smart you are. Honestly, I don't see it, but--"

"Could you quit bustin' my chops for a sec? I'm supposed to be doin' that to you."

"Oh, Son-ward."

Sonny rolls his eyes. He needs to get rid of the kid to clear his head. He's so flustered his Staten Island accent is coming out in full swing. "Look, if I give you a few points extra credit, will you just...get outta here and never speak of this again?"

"Absolutely," Alyssa says, dropping the white board cleaner on the floor. "Pleasure doin' business with you."

Alyssa gets to the door before Sonny speaks again.

"Are you serious about that stuff? You think he likes me?"

"Yeah, I am," she says, seriously. "And we just want you to be happy, Mr. Carisi."

Sonny cracks a smile, then goes over what she said. "Wait, 'we'?"

"Yeah, me and the entire school who knows you dorks belong together."

Sonny rolls his eyes again. "Okay, get outta here."

"I'm running to Starbucks. If I bring you a coffee, can I get more credit?"

What the hell, Sonny thinks. "Sure."

"Excellent. I'm gonna get one for Mr. Barba and say it's from you."

"Don't you dare!" Sonny calls as Alyssa exits the classroom.

Chapter Text

Rafael actually hates his neighbor. Carisi, his last name because Rafael has never bothered to learn his first name, is the first neighbor who Rafael has actually ever hated, and he doesn't even interact with him. The man has weird work hours, he's loud, he's constantly misplacing his keys. Rafael even has a spare key to Carisi's apartment because of how often he needs it.

Rafael's hit the final straw. For the past four nights at 6 o'clock PM almost on the dot, Carisi has the loudest freakin' sex Rafael has ever heard. He enjoys a good night too, but damn. 6 o'clock is ridiculous and just inconsiderate for the neighbors. Rafael needs to say something.

He marches next door and bangs on the thick door as loudly as he can.

The noises stop, and for that Rafael is thankful. Carisi takes a minute to answer the door, but when he does, Rafael is shocked. He's fully clothed in a pair of gray slacks, a crisp white shirt with rolled up sleeves, and a black tie hanging loosely around his neck.

Rafael is completely confused. How did he manage to get completely dressed in a minute? Wait--

"What are you doing?" Rafael asks.

"Uh...eating dinner."

Rafael looks at him suspiciously. He leans into Carisi's doorway to look around.

"You're not having ridiculously loud sex?" Rafael asks, though it's more like a statement.

"Uh..." Carisi mutters again. "No? I thought that was you."

"I thought it was you."

"Who--No."

Both men look at the door next to Carisi's, where a lady who is at least in her 60's lives alone. She apparently doesn't spend much time alone.

The noises have stopped, but in a second the doorknob turns. Carisi grabs Rafael and yanks him into his apartment. He shuts the door quickly and peeks out the peephole.

"What are you doing?" Rafael questions.

"I wanna know what kinda dude is causing those kinda noises."

"That's ridiculous."

"What? Like you're not a little bit curious."

"No, of course--" Actually, Rafael is curious. "Yeah, let me see."

Carisi chuckles. "Yeah, you might wanna check him out. He's kinda hot."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Rafael asks, shoving Carisi over to take a look. The man making those noises is looking around the hall and down the stairs, probably assuming someone banged on the lady's door.

"I mean, you might wanna see 'cause he's a little old for me."

Rafael turns his head to glare at Carisi. "How old do you think I am?"

Carisi is grinning. "But he's pretty hot right?"

Rafael looks again on time to see the man reentering the apartment. Rafael shrugs. "Yeah, I guess."

"Great," Carisi says. "You wanna go out with me?"

Rafael looks at him. "What?"

"I got kinda jealous when I thought you were making those noises."

"Wait...are you serious? I don't even know your first name. I don't know anything about you."

"My name is Sonny, I'm a cop and I think you're ridiculously hot. I have the bad habit of forgetting my key, but I'm an excellent kisser and I make amazing spaghetti. Which one do you want to try first?"

Rafael doesn't even know what to say. He just stares at Carisi with his mouth hanging open.

"Okay," Carisi says, still smiling confidently. "I'll get you a plate while you make up your mind about that kissing."

Kissing probably wouldn't be so bad. And Rafael can probably get over the work hours and loudness. And he has a key to Carisi's apartment already. Eh, what the hell? Rafael takes the plate of offers spaghetti and follows Carisi to his dining table, where the easy conversation drowns out the sounds of ridiculous sex noises coming from next door.

Chapter Text

Sonny has never been one to let people down, or to say no to anybody. He's done too many favors he never really wanted to do, he's done ridiculous things for the sake of being a good person. He even once didn't break up with somebody for an extra two weeks because he was afraid to hurt them.

So when he found the strength to tell ADA Barba that they couldn't date it surprised even him.

They'd gone out to dinner after one of their usual late night work sessions. He didn't think anything of it when Barba ordered wine for the table.

They shared a cab, stopping at Barba's first. He didn't think anything of it when Barba asked him to walk him in.

They paused on the front steps. He didn't think anything of it when Barba glanced at his lips and licked his own.

Sonny finally caught on when Barba leaned in.

"Wow," Sonny had muttered. "What're you doing?"

"I'm trying to kiss you," Barba said. "And failing miserably."

"We...no," is what Sonny said. "We can't. We're coworkers."

Barba stared at him. "Wait seriously?"

Sonny had the opportunity to take it back, to kiss Rafael like he wanted to. It could be a secret. He could keep a secret.

Instead, he excused himself and left briskly.

That was about a month ago, and although Barba has not tried to kiss him again, he has asked him out more than once. Sonny, finding unbelievable self restraint, has maintained a no.

That doesn't mean it's not driving him crazy. That doesn't mean he doesn't want Barba more than he's ever wanted anyone in his adult life.

But they can't! They work together! That would be a terrible conflict of interest! What if Sonny needs to testify and he can't because of their relationship!

All in all, he is in a terrible spot.

He and Barba hang out anyway. Neither of them call it 'hanging out' out loud, but they spend late nights together in Barba's office and go to dinner afterwards. Their dinners range from grabbing a burger at the greasy diner down the street to feeling underdressed in even his three-piece work suit. They clearly enjoy each other's company. Barba likes him.

Sonny really likes Barba.

Tonight, they're at a restaurant that's easy going but nice.

The waiter arrives and smiles warmly at them. "Can I get you guys a candle for the table?"

Sonny looks at him confused. "Why?"

Barba speaks without looking up from his menu. "Because he thinks we're on a date, Carisi."

The waiter blushes. "Oh you're...not?"

"No, he won't date me," Barba says casually.

"Really?" the waiter asks. "Why not?"

Barba looks ready to speak, but Sonny stops him.

"Look, could we not? Let's just eat."

"I was just going to order an appetizer, Carisi."

The waiter chuckles. Rafael orders an appetizer that Sonny agrees with without even being asked, but instead of leaving, the waiter lingers.

"So," he says to Barba. "If you're not dating him, what are you doing later?"

Barba smiles cutely, and what the hell? Sonny watches confused. He may not be dating Barba, but that doesn't mean other men should be.

The waiter finally leaves. Barba's smile shifts to Carisi, who probably looks very annoyed.

"What?" Barba questions.

"What the fuck was that?"

"Why are you upset?" Barba asks. "You're the one who said--"

"I know what I said."

"So, what? Was I supposed to be waiting around for you forever?"

"Well--"

"Well, the only way I'm not going to date other men is if I'm dating you."

Sonny feels manipulated. Like he just got played. Barba got the best of his jealousy. Of course, he's been asked out by a man he very much adores. It would be polite to say yes. He's never said no to anything Barba asked of him before.

"Fine," Sonny says.

"Fine?"

"Fine, I'll date you."

Barba grins. "Really?"

"Yeah, whatever. You didn't have to do that."

"Apparently, I did."

Sonny rolls his eyes.

"I have news for you Carisi," Barba says. "I think we've pretty much been dating for a while."

"Yeah? Well you owe me, like, a dozen after date kisses."

"I've asked you out about fifteen times. Do you think I'm going to deny that of you?"

Sonny just smiles. The want of the other man is very mutual.

 

Chapter Text

Sonny crosses his arms again, tighter this time. As if to protect himself. To keep in his annoyed anger.

He only speaks when need be. Still, as helpful as he's trying to be, it's being shot down instantly by freakin' Barba, who is not taking any of his offered help. You would think Rafael would start being nicer to him after they started dating. At least Sonny thought that, and has been proven wrong time and time again.

"We could get a subpoena to search his office," Sonny mutters.

"Excellent idea, Detective," Barba says.

Shocked, Sonny asks, "Really?"

"No."

Sonny rolls his eyes. Rollins just snickers behind her hand, not helping him at all.

Before Sonny can say anything else, Rollins' phone begins to ring.

"It's my sitter, I gotta take this," she says. She steps out of the room.

Sonny turns to Rafael. "What the fuck?" he questions.

"What?" Rafael replies coolly.

"Why are you being such an ass to me? I'm trying to help--"

"I'm sorry, I didn't know you expected praise for every bad idea you have."

"I don't expect praise, I just thought you might be a little, y'know, nicer to me. Now."

Rafael lifts an eyebrow. "What, you're mad because I'm acting like a professional and not throwing myself all over you at work?"

"Well, no, I just expected at least a nicer tone after I had your dick in my mouth this morning."

Rafael glances at the door, which Rollins didn't shut all the way.

"Jesus, Sonny."

"Well. I'm just saying, if you want to get woken up like that again--"

"Is this a weird form of blackmail because you want me to be nicer to you?"

"I just feel as though I deserve a better attitude after you came in--"

"Sssshhh!" Rafael stops him.

"You gonna be nicer to me?"

"Isn't it enough that I'm nice to you at home?"

"A healthy work relationship results in a healthy personal relationship."

"I told you to stop reading Cosmo in the bathroom."

"What? It's helpful. Just like I'm trying to me and it's pretty unfair that you keep bustin' my chops. Especially when you expect me to su--"

Rafael rolls his eyes. "Ok, ok. Fine. I'll try to be nicer."

Sonny smiles. "That's all I ask," he says, pulling Rafael by the suspenders to kiss him.

Right then, Rollins walks back in. She takes one look at Sonny holding Rafael's suspenders and shakes her head. "I don't want to know," she mumbles, sitting in her seat again.

Sonny almost laughs, but Rafael looks completely embarrassed. That makes Sonny let out a laugh. Rafael is still a little bit nicer after the laugh escapes.

Chapter Text

Drama is Rafael's favorite class. He excels in every class--his two math classes, English, science, history--but drama is where he really shines. He isn't going to college to pursue an acting career, but he could. He could be on Broadway if he wanted, he's been told by a million people. But he has hopes to be an important lawyer.

That doesn't mean he doesn't take drama very seriously, and he was very excited to get the assignment for his last school play. He expected the lead male role, but a stupid annoying sophomore who was only taking drama for an easy 'A' beat him out.

Knowing there was no way the kid was a better actor than Rafael, he fought with the director. He'd made the case that this was his last play, but the director had said, "And you've had plenty of turns as the lead. Let someone else have a turn."

The kid named Sonny, captain of the junior varsity baseball team, was an annoying know-it-all who did not take drama seriously. Sure, he learned all of his lines, but it was a joke. Every class period and rehearsal he spent just trying to make everyone laugh. And when everyone would laugh, he'd try harder. It drove Rafael crazy. He had no patience for the kid.

The female lead in the play was a junior girl named Summer, the kind of girl Sonny was destined to date after the play. She looked at Sonny as if he was the greatest thing she'd ever laid eyes on. Sure, Rafael saw that the kid was cute, but the cuteness was overshadowed by the dumbness and idiocy of Sonny's character. But Summer didn't mind. Even their names fit together, for god's sake. That annoyed Rafael even more.

With three weeks until the show opened, things took a turn for the worst. Summer was failing geometry, which meant she couldn't be in the play unless she brought it up. Her understudy didn't know her lines, nobody else knew the lines.

Except Rafael. He knew the lines. He knew every line in the show. They couldn't rehearse unless he stepped in. So he did, to his dismay. The only thing worse than watching Sonny act was acting with him.

Sonny brightened when Rafael agreed, he beamed. Rafael paid no attention to it, he just got to work. Even when Sonny asked if Rafael wanted to practice the kissing scene.

They went through the play, and Rafael dared to think Sonny got a little bit better, a little bit more serious with his role. As if he suddenly cared. Rafael didn't have time to question it or ask why, but the new attitude did make it easier for Rafael to rehearse with him.

And then the kissing scene came up, and Sonny went right for it. Rafael swept out of the way.

"Come on Rafael," one of the other kids in the scene said. "It's just acting. Right, Sonny?"

Sonny blushed and nodded. Rafael rolled his eyes.

"Here," the director said, handing Sonny a paper. "Hold the paper between you. I need to see how this will look."

Rafael frowned. "Nobody else can do it?"

"You're the same size as Summer," the director replied.

Rafael sighed. "Fine," he agreed.

The director called for action, so Sonny repeated his last line and went in for the kiss again.

Rafael shut his eyes so he didn't have to see Sonny's face that close. He heard Sonny's breathing, felt him get closer, and--

Sonny dropped the paper and kissed Rafael square on the lips. It was brisk, but soft. Kind of sweet. Everyone laughed as Rafael pushed him away. Even Sonny was laughing.

"What the heck, Carisi!" Rafael yelled.

The director tried to get everyone to calm down, but they still laughed.

"I'm sorry!" Sonny cried. "The paper slipped!"

"Yeah, right!" Rafael said, shoving Sonny's arm.

Rafael felt terribly embarrassed. Everyone was laughing and their teacher wasn't doing much about it. He wanted to see what the kiss would look like anyway.

Sonny tried to kiss Rafael for three rehearsals after that, and Rafael dodged them every time. He would probably want to kiss Sonny too if he wasn't so obnoxious. If he wasn't trying so hard. If he would, maybe, just ask Rafael out like a normal person. Rafael might consider saying yes.

The fourth time Sonny tried to kiss him, Rafael finally had enough and confronted him in the middle of the play.

"Why do you keep trying to kiss me?!" he yelled when Sonny dramatically dipped Rafael like a dancer.

"Because I want to," Sonny said, smiling sweetly.

"What, you want to mess around like this?"

"No," Sonny said, right there in front of an entire class full of snickering teens. He said, "I want to kiss you!"

The bell rang before anyone could react properly. Their teacher thankfully ushered everyone out and left Sonny and Rafael on the stage.

"Why are you doing this?" Rafael asked as he gathered his backpack.

"Because I like you. Why do you think I joined this stupid class? I never expected to get the lead."

Rafael's stomach flipped. "Wait, you like me?"

"Yeah! You're really smart and really cute. And you don't laugh at my jokes, and that drives me freakin' crazy."

"Well, if you didn't try so hard. If you'd just..." he trailed off.

Sonny looked at him expectantly. "If I, what?"

Rafael shrugged. "Just ask me out like a normal person?"

Sonny perked up. "Really? You'd say yes?"

"Well I...might not say no."

Sonny smiled widely. "Yes! Sweet!"

Sonny hopped off the stage.

"That wasn't a yes!" Rafael called after him.

Rafael waited patiently for Sonny to ask him out formally. He didn't mess around as much for the rest of rehearsals, but he was still pleasantly funny. Everyone still laughed at him every time he made a joke, even Rafael.

By the time their final rehearsal arrived, Rafael had given up the idea of Sonny asking him out. Sonny did pay attention to him, but not anything special.

At the end of rehearsal, Sonny stopped everyone to make an announcement.

"I just want to say, this wasn't so bad. I thought it was going to be boring, but you are all pretty cool. Even though everyone knows I only joined for one reason." He smiled right at Rafael.

Rafael tried to hide, but there was nowhere to go. Sonny marched right up to him.

"Will you go out with me? Please?" he asked.

Rafael just stared at him for about a minute.

"For god's sake, say yes!" Summer yelled from upstage.

Rafael finally smiled. "Fine, you don't have to beg."

Sonny grinned and leaned in to kiss him. Rafael happily kissed back.

Chapter Text

Lucia kneels next to Rafael's bed.

"What did you do at school today?"

Rafael shrugs. "We did this thing about our futures. We had to fill out this paper about careers and, like, families."

"And you wrote lawyer."

Rafael smiles proudly and nods.

"What did you write about a family?"

"I said I want to get married. A lot of kids said they don't want to get married, or they don't know, but I know."

"Yeah?" Lucia asks, smoothing down his blankets. "How do you know?"

"Because I already know who I'm going to marry."

"Oh, yeah? Who?"

"Sonny," Rafael confidently answers.

Lucia grows a worried look on her face that makes Rafael frown deeply.

"That's bad isn't it? Some boys at school said that's bad."

Lucia shakes her head. "No, baby, it's just...well, he's a little young, isn't he?"

"Yeah, but when he's thirty, I'll only be thirty-three and that's not weird, right?"

Lucia laughs. "No, mi amor, it won't be. Did you write on your paper that you're going to marry Sonny?"

"No, I didn't, because when I said it the boys at my table said I can't. They seemed mad about it, so I didn't want my teacher to get mad. Hey, Mami?"

Lucia is silently fuming at Rafael's worry, but she pushes it down so Rafael doesn't worry even further. "Yes, mi amor?"

"When I marry Sonny, will one of us have to wear a dress?"

Lucia chuckles. "No. You can both wear suits."

"What if I wear the tie I had to wear to church on Christmas?"

"The one with the snowmen? I guess that'd be okay."

"Sonny would probably wear his Mets jersey, huh Mami? The one with the Kool-Aid stain on the arm."

Lucia laughs. "You know, he probably would."

"When we get married, we'd get to have sleepovers all the time, huh? We could eat popcorn and pizza every night, huh?" Extremely excited, Rafael adds, "We could get bunk beds, huh?!"

Lucia laughs even harder at Rafael's excitement over bunk beds. "Sure, Rafi. If that's what you want."

"Yeah, I want that," Rafael contently says. "I want to be with Sonny forever."

Lucia stands from her spot and kisses Rafael's forehead. "You will. For now, go to sleep, okay?"

"Okay, Mami."

"I love you," Lucia tells him, kissing his head again.

"Love you too, Mami."

 

Chapter Text

Sonny wanders through the halls of the unfamiliar building. It is late, dark, and he feels too unsafe. Of course, after what happened, everywhere feels unsafe.

All he wants to do is put this ordeal behind him, but he has to do this one last thing first. Which was why he was at the courthouse to get ready to testify against...him.

Sonny shakes the fear, the reminder of him, before taking a deep breath and pushing the giant courtroom door open. The room is well lit with one person still sitting at a desk at the front. Mr. Barba, the nice, handsome prosecutor who was going to make all of this go away.

Sonny clears his throat. "Uh, Mr. Barba?"

Mr. Barba turns to face Sonny. He smiles.

"Mr. Carisi, thank you for coming," he says, standing to greet Sonny like a good professional. He shakes Sonny's hand; he's warm.

Sonny lets out a shaky breath. "S-sorry if I kept you waiting, I--"

"I am on your schedule," Mr. Barba tells him.

Sonny doesn't notice he's still shaking Mr. Barba's hand until he feels perspiration on his palm. With an embarrassed wince, he yanks his hand away. Mr. Barba politely does not wipe his hand obviously.

"So," Mr. Barba says, "Tomorrow, of course I'll call you to the stand and you'll sit there. But right now, you can sit wherever you feel comfortable."

Sonny looks at the chair at the stand. It looks like a miniature cage. He doesn't want to sit in it, not today, not tomorrow. But he has to, or else he will not be put away.

"I'll, uh, sit in the stand. Just to be sure I...can."

Mr. Barba nods and escorts Sonny over to the chair. He stands on the ground in front of Sonny, just watching him.

Sonny sits delicately. The chair is hard under him. The stand seems too high, even though it's not. He closes his eyes and tries not to worry about how tomorrow, all eyes will be on him. He will have to tell everyone what happened. It will forever be public record to the world that he was attacked outside a bar, and the man...his hands were...

Sonny opens his eyes and notices he's hyperventilating. Mr. Barba is staring at him softly, watching him. Waiting for him.

"I'm sorry," Sonny says, feeling a tear fall. "This...I feel ridiculous...I'm..." Sonny wipes his eyes. "Crying, for god's sake."

"It's ok," Mr. Barba says. "Take your time. I understand how difficult this must be."

Sonny nods, staring at his hands.

"I know you spoke with Detective Benson, and I know she reassured you that there is nothing to be ashamed of. This does happen to men, okay? And by you being here today and tomorrow, you will help us make sure he doesn't hurt any other people again. Alright?"

Sonny nods again.

"No matter what the defense tries to say to you tomorrow, it wasn't your fault. Remember that."

Sonny takes a deep breath.

"I'll be there every step of the way."

Sonny looks up into Mr. Barba's eyes. He focuses on the green. Bright green, like a field. A baseball field. He imagines being at the Mets game. He wonders if Mr. Barba likes baseball.

"Are you ready?" Mr. Barba asks.

"Yes," Sonny replies, feeling safe for the first time in a long time.

Chapter Text

Sonny loved sports growing up, and he was very glad he was still in shape enough to play. When his old high school friend Dan invited him to play basketball every Sunday, he was thrilled. A chance to be on the court again? Great.

He met Dan at the gym where they'd play, that also had a pool and a weight room. It was nice, with new, clean, state of the art equipment.

They walked through the weight room towards the locker room when Sonny first spotted the very pretty man struggling with weights.

Dan snorted. "Poor sap's been coming here for about three months with no progress."

Sonny looks his tank of a friend up and down. "Yeah, because you've always looked like that."

Dan chuckled. "Hey, I learned."

"Maybe he could use some help instead of some guy laughing at him behind his back."

Dan holds his hands up to surrender. "You wanna be that guy? Be my guest. Our game starts in ten."

Sonny tells Dan he'll meet him in there and approaches the cute stranger. He doesn't really look like he needs to be working out, but Sonny knows a lot of people have a lot of reasons to exercise. Sure, the man's got a little gut, but his ass is great.

"Can I help you?" the man asks, zoning Sonny out of staring at his ass.

He blushes, having been caught. "Oh, I, uh...I was wondering if I could help you, actually."

"Is it that obvious I have no idea what I'm doing?"

"Kinda," Sonny says truthfully.

The man smiles. He holds his hand out to shake Sonny's. "Rafael."

"Sonny."

Sonny shows him how to use the pulldown bar, then rushes over to the court for his game.

For two Sundays after, Sonny arrives early in hopes of helping the hot stranger in the gym.

What Sonny really wishes is to meet him afterwards, because exercising always gives Sonny a 'macho-man', sexually charged attitude that would probably give him the confidence to either ask Rafael out or drag him to the nearest closet and get on his knees.

On the fourth Sunday, Sonny goes to the gym knowing he needs to make some move, but Rafael is nowhere to be seen as soon as he walks in. Disappointed, Sonny goes on to his game and plays distracted. He's thinking about Rafael, where he could be, if he's okay.

Sonny wanders into the locker room after the game and finds it blessedly empty. He usually showers afterwards, because he has to go straight to his parent's house for Sunday dinner. He's about to enter the shower stalls when he walks right into Rafael, wearing nothing but a towel wrapped around his waist.

Sonny licks his lips. "Oh, hey, I didn't know you were here. I didn't see you when I got here."

"Yeah, I decided to swim today instead."

Sonny nods, then stands awkwardly waiting for someone to talk. This is the first time he's seen Rafael privately. And he's almost naked. One tug of the thin towel and it'd fall easily. Sonny wishes he wasn't wearing so many clothes--compression tights, shorts, an undershirt, and a sweatshirt--because he is very, very hot suddenly.

Sonny's about to rip something off, whether it be his pants or Rafael's towel, when they reach for each other at the same time. Rafael slams Sonny against the wall behind them and Sonny moans into his mouth.

This is not good. The kissing is great, Rafael feels amazing, all hot and still wet from the shower. But Sonny was already partly aroused from the exercise, then seeing Rafael in this state, and now Rafael's tongue on his mouth is not helping.

"Mm, fuck," Sonny sighs when Rafael sucks at his sweaty neck. "Wait, wait--"

Rafael pulls off of him instantly. "I'm sorry, that was--"

"No, that was great. This is great. It's just...these tights don't leave much room for...anything."

Rafael grins wickedly and grinds against Sonny.

"Fuck, that's not helping." Sonny's head falls back against the wall. Rafael's hips circle again. It's maddening.

"Do you want to come back to my place?" Rafael asks.

"I don't think I'll make it."

Rafael pushes against him harder. Sonny gasps. His hips move on their own, seeking friction.

"Let me take the edge off," Rafael says, sexy against Sonny's lips.

"Right here?"

"Nobody will come in," Rafael reassures him. "You'll have to be quick."

"I don't think that'll be a problem."

Rafael smirks, then kisses him again. He reaches for Sonny's shorts, but Sonny knows it'll be a tight squeeze inside, so he lowers his two bottoms enough to get his hard cock out.

When Rafael's hand wraps around him, he lets out a long, relieved groan.

"Fuck, you're ready," Rafael says, resting his forehead against Sonny's shoulder to look down to watch himself stroke Sonny.

Sonny can't look, or else it'll all be over. He squeezes his eyes shut and pulls Rafael's hair.

"You have no idea," Rafael whispers between licks and bites to his neck. "How badly I've wanted you the past few weeks. How badly I want to fuck you."

"Oh fuck," Sonny replies, "Yes I do."

Rafael moans and rubs himself against Sonny's hip. "Will you let me? Can I fuck you, Sonny? Please?"

Sonny nods, moaning. "Yes--"

"Are you going to come for me right now, Sonny?"

Sonny nods.

"Do it, come on, let me have it."

Sonny's hips snap, his body clenches, and he comes in hot spurts on Rafael's stomach and towel. Rafael rubs his thumb over the head of his cock to gather the last few drops before wiping his hand on his towel.

Sonny opens his eyes, skin burning under his clothes and legs like jelly. Rafael tucks him back into his pants, then wraps his arms around Sonny.

"Come back to my place?" he asks sweetly in Sonny's ear.

Sonny can only nod once before Rafael is gone, getting dressed at light speed.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"Hurry up!"

Rafael is barely heard over heavy patter of rain on the window. Surely it'll turn to snow by midnight. That's why Rafael is burrowing himself under their multitude of blankets that have gathered on the bed over the past few days; it's growing colder by the hour the deeper into winter they get.

"I'm fucking freezing!" he yells, his words muffled by the heaviest blanket pulled all the way to his mouth.

"I heard ya, I heard ya," Sonny mutters, finally wandering into the bedroom.

"What the hell took you so long? What the hell were you doing?"

It was not long, Sonny was only a few minutes behind Rafael. He sarcastically glances at the steaming mugs in his hands.

Rafael rolls his eyes with an annoyed sigh. "Obviously I know what you were doing now. I had the question ready. However, I don't want hot chocolate. I want..." He trails off, embarrassed and hoping Sonny will fill in the rest.

Sonny walks over to his side of the bed and sets the mugs on his bedside table. He's grinning. Rafael rolls his eyes again.

"You want what, Raf?"

"I want to cuddle with you, ok? For warmth." Rafael's face heats up for the first time all day.

"For warmth, mhm. I got you, Raf, just give me a sec."

Rafael watches him toe off his shoes and kick them under the bed.

"Why do you kick them under the bed? You know tomorrow morning you'll be unable to reach them."

"Yeah, but you like the view." He winks. How crude.

"Just get in here."

Rafael lets Sonny pull back the covers just enough for him to slither under. And then Sonny reads his mind and shifts as close as possible, his long arms wrapping around Rafael comfortably.

"Wait," Sonny says, "Are you naked?"

"Yes. The bottom of the pants were soaking wet and my shirt was frozen."

Sonny hums appreciatively. "I didn't know it was going to be that kind of cuddling..."

He shifts closer, pressing against Rafael further. His clothes aren't wet, not as bad as Rafael's were, but Sonny's big hands traveling down his back are like icicles, despite holding the mugs of hot chocolate only a minute ago.

"God, what the fuck?" Rafael hisses, his back arching away from Sonny's touch. "Why are your hands so cold?"

Sonny shrugs, then untangles himself from Rafael.

"Hang on," he says, then lifts the blankets above his head and dives underneath.

Rafael watches, confused. "What the--"

A second later, Sonny's pants fly out from underneath, followed by his shirt, undershirt, socks, and underwear.

His head reemerges. Rafael smiles at the face smiling at him.

"There's not much I love more than being naked, in bed, in the middle of the afternoon," he says.

Sonny kisses Rafael's chapped lips, then his red nose. The only things they have on for the rest of the afternoon are their smiles.

 

Chapter Text

Rafael, upon his ninth birthday only a month before, deemed himself worthy of new responsibilities he did not have when he was only eight. He can walk to school on his own now, he can pour the milk in his own cereal bowl, and he can plan Sonny's sixth birthday party.

Everything was perfect. They wrote the invitations themselves, Rafael in his slightly-too-fancy-for-a-nine-year-old handwriting, and Sonny in his getting-better-for-a-six-year-old handwriting.

They'd picked out a cake, one they looked up in a magazine and Deb promised she could make instead of having to buy it.

They bought decorations--baseball, because that's what Sonny wanted.

And finally, they created a menu of foods and snacks for guests, including hot dogs, popcorn, and Cracker Jacks, because those were the foods they ate when Sonny's dad took them to a Yankee game last month.

It was perfect. On the day of Sonny's party, Rafael woke up far more excited than even Sonny did. The party wasn't until noon, but Rafael woke up at 6 AM and was banging on the Carisi's door by 6:30. As when every time he bangs on their door that early, Dominick Sr. just opens the door, mumbles a good morning, and slowly follows Rafael up the stairs where they part into different rooms.

Rafael kicks off his shoes and climbs onto Sonny's bed. He lays next to the little boy and pokes his cheek.

"Sonny, wake up! It's party day!"

"Mmm."

"Didn't you hear me, Sonny? I said it's party day!"

Sonny lets out a huff and turns onto his back, away from Rafael. His little blonde hairs stick to the side of his face, where he has a red crease from his pillow.

Rafael tries again. "It's your birthday, Sonny!"

Sonny squeezes his eyes shut further. "I'm still sleepy, Rafi," he whispers.

Rafael rolls his eyes. "Fine. I'll wait."

Rafael has to wait about ten minutes before Sonny's eyes suddenly open and he's falling out of bed, yelling, "It's party day! It's party day!"

Rafael laughs and peers over the side of the bed, where Sonny is laying on the floor cheering about the party.

Then, there's a knock heard on the wall behind Sonny's bed. "Shut up!" Theresa yells. "Some of us are still trying to sleep!"

The boys get up. Rafael helps Sonny brush his teeth and combs his hair with the perfect part like his mom does it. Sonny gets dressed, with Rafael's help choosing between a Mets shirt with Mickey Mouse on it, and a Yankees shirt that's too short. The Mets shirt wins, because Mickey Mouse always wins above everything else.

They run downstairs, and by now it's 7 o'clock and Mr. Carisi is out of bed once again. He's making coffee in the kitchen, so he lifts the boys onto the island and he gives them their options for breakfast.

"Okay, we've got bacon and eggs for the special day, pancakes, waffles?"

The boys exchange skeptical looks. Dominick Sr. rolls his eyes and reaches into the pantry.

"Fruit Loops?"

"Yay!" the boys cheer in unison.

Dominick Sr. carries them, one in each arm, to the kitchen table to eat their breakfast. The boys laugh, loving every time Dominick Sr. picks them both up like this. Rafael had tried to claim he was too old for it when he turned nine, but it makes him laugh too much for Dominick Sr. to stop.

By the time their breakfast is eaten, Mrs. Carisi is up and helps Mr. Carisi with their breakfast. Dominick Sr. had decided to surprise Deb with pancakes, her favorite, and when she came downstairs, she gushed over how sweet that was.

"Isn't that nice of Daddy to want to surprise me with breakfast?" Deb asks rhetorically, kissing Dominick Sr. on the cheek as Sonny and Rafael watch happily.

"Rafi helped me brush my teeth, Mommy. Is that sweet?"

"Yes, honey, that is very sweet of Rafi. Did you thank him?"

"I didn't kiss him like you kissed Daddy!"

"You don't have to, Sonny. All you have to say is 'thank you for your help'. I kiss Daddy, because...I just like to! People deserve kisses for lots of different reasons."

Sonny beams at her, then turns to Rafael. "Thanks for helping me brush my teeth, Rafi."

"You're welcome," Rafael says, returning the smile.

Deb continues helping her husband by getting out a cutting board and fresh strawberries to chop. The boys talk at the table about the party, Dominick Sr. watches the pancakes, and suddenly Deb is dropping the knife on the island and jumping back.

Dominick Sr. is by her side immediately. "What happened?"

"Oh, I cut my finger! Is it bad?"

The boys look on, worried, as Dominick Sr. examines the cut.

"Nothing a Band-Aid won't fix," he says. "I'll be right back. Clean it under water."

He's gone only a second before he's back with two boxes of Band-Aids. "We have regular tan or Hello Kitty. Take your pick."

"Pick the Kitty, Mommy!" Sonny tells her.

Deb laughs and chooses Hello Kitty, and the boys watch with worried looks as Mr. Carisi carefully applies the bandage.

"There. Good as new," he says, kissing the tip of his wife's finger.

"How does it look?" Deb asks the boys, holding up her hand.

"Does it feel better, Mommy?" Sonny asks.

"It does," she tells him.
---
Finally, it's noon and the party is ready to begin. Guest begin showing up, mostly relatives but a few other neighborhood kids. They set up a baseball game in the street, where Sonny is the first captain because he's the birthday boy. He chooses Rafael first, of course.

The game goes steadily for a long time. There are far less arguments and fights than usual because the adults are watching, but the kids have fun running around and playing. They let Sonny get more strikes because it's his birthday, and the thought of not getting cake later because they were mean to Sonny on his birthday is terrible.

A while into the game, Sonny's up to bat again and hits it far enough to possibly get a double. He runs to first and rounds to run to second, but the kid playing first base accidentally trips him. Sonny falls hard to the ground and he practically skids because he was running quite fast.

Rafael runs to his side quickly. "Sonny! Are you ok?"

Usually, Sonny won't cry when the big boys accidentally hurt him when they're playing, but this time he lets out a loud cry as he struggles to get up. There are scrapes on his knees and hands, and huge tears falling down his cheeks.

"Sorry Sonny!" the older boy who tripped him says. "I didn't mean to, honest!"

Rafael tells the other kids they'll be right back, then escorts Sonny into the house and into the downstairs bathroom. He delicately sits Sonny on the toilet seat and gets some toilet paper to wipe up the blood.

"They'll think I'm a baby 'cause I cried," Sonny says, hiccuping.

Rafael shakes his head. "They won't."

"Yeah, they always think I'm a baby!" Sonny begins to cry harder.

Rafael wets a wash clothe to clean the scrapes. "I don't think you're a baby," he quietly says.

Sonny looks at him with huge blue eyes. "Really?"

Rafael nods.

They're quiet while Rafael finishes cleaning Sonny up. Sonny tries to settle his breathing and stop the tears. Rafael gets the Band-Aids out of the drawer.

"We have regular tan or Hello Kitty," Rafael says, copying Mr. Carisi's words from earlier, even though he knows Sonny is going to pick Hello Kitty. "Take your pick."

"Hello Kitty!" Sonny excitedly exclaims.

Rafael smiles at him, then tears the papers open and places them on Sonny's cuts.

"There," Rafael says. "Good as new."

"Almost," Sonny says.

Rafael looks at him confused. "Almost?"

"You're forgetting the kisses."

"Oh," Rafael says. He hesitates, at first, because there was blood on Sonny's knees just a second ago and that's gross. But Mr. Carisi had kissed Mrs. Carisi's cut that morning, and that had blood. So, with a shrug, Rafael leans forward and carefully kisses both of Sonny's knees.

"There," he repeats. "How's that?"

"This one," Sonny says, holding up his hand.

Rafael kisses Sonny's palm.

"That's better Rafi, thank you."

Rafael smiles. "How about we ask if we can have cake now?"

Sonny lights up at that. He nods excitedly and follows Rafael out of the bathroom, knees and hands now feeling much better.

 

Chapter Text

The banging on the door knocks him out of a really great dream. He scrambles out of bed, startled and a bit worried because of how frantic the knock was. He doesn’t notice the kitchen clock says 2:49 AM.

Rafael throws the door open and stares blearily at the man on the other side.

“Carisi?” he questions. “What are you—“

“I have something to say.”

Rafael had left him at the bar with the rest of the team a few hours ago, but a few weeks ago, Sonny had left him at dinner after the inevitable long-term “Where is this going?” question. He didn’t know. Carisi didn’t know. There was no point of even finishing dinner.

“Ok?” Rafael prompts him to go on.

“I have no idea what love even is. My parents are still together but I don’t think I’ve seen them so much as kiss since, like, 1997. The shit we see, like…it’s understandable that guys like us have no idea what love is anymore.

“But Rafi, all I know is that I wanna, like, watch shitty Lifetime movies with you every night.”

Rafael’s chest tightens.

“I wanna make your coffee every morning.”

Rafael’s skin prickles.

“I wanna drag you to church on Sundays even though I know you hate it and only go because I want to.”

Rafael breaks into a light, nervous sweat.

“I wanna be with you for as long as you’ll let me.”

Rafael’s heart stops all together. He holds his breath to hear what Carisi has to say next.

“I wanna marry you, Rafael. Not now, not tomorrow, not the next day, but some day. Whenever you’ll let me. I don’t want to spend a day without you. That’s where I see this going. That’s where I want it to go.”

Rafael lets out a shaky, uneven breath. Is he dreaming? He must he dreaming still. Carisi is not here pouring his heart out. Carisi left their last date completely pissed because nobody had any agreeable answers.

“Please say something,” Carisi says after a second of silence.

Rafael doesn’t trust himself to speak. He just grabs Carisi by the hand and yanks him into the apartment, into his bed, into his heart.

Chapter Text

Rafael lounges on Olivia's couch, talking idly to Fin and Rollins. He sips happily at his eggnog, thinking maybe he needs to drink some water before getting another drink. The last thing he needs is to wake up with a hangover on Christmas morning.

The party is quiet but pleasant, just their close work friends and a few community mothers Olivia and Amanda have befriended. There are kids playing off in the corner with all of Noah's toys. Rafael only recognizes Noah and Rollin's daughter, Jesse.

Carisi isn't there, which is kind of unusual for a "family gathering", as he himself calls them. Rafael hasn't asked, because he doesn't want anyone to question why he's questioning Carisi's whereabouts.

Before Rafael can work up the courage to casually ask, Rollins does.

"Hey, where's Carisi?" she asks.

"He had to go to church," Olivia explains.

Rafael thinks he should've thought of that himself, because that's where he'd be right now if his mother was in the country. But thankfully, she is not here and he did not have to go.

"Shouldn't he be here by now?" Rollins adds. "How long does church last?"

"Oh, on Christmas?" Rafael joins, and sarcastically answers, "Hours and hours."

Olivia instructs Noah to pass out his gifts to everyone, and Rafael is not surprised to open a picture of Noah in a simple frame, the same gift Olivia and Noah have given for years. Usually Noah's picture is just a cute Christmas picture, wearing Christmas clothes or a Christmas pajama set. But this year, he's sitting on Santa's lap.

Rollin's eyes practically bulge out of her head. "You let your kid go see Santa?"

Olivia laughs. "Well--"

Rafael's jaw drops, examining the picture further. "Hey, is that--"

At the same time, he and Rollins both look at Fin, or Santa in the picture with Noah.

Fin grins. "I got a grand kid, remember?" He lowers his voice so the children can't hear. "The in-laws are setting up a Santa next year."

Rafael wants to laugh, but he doesn't want to make too much fun because he doesn't ever want to be roped into being Santa. He'd probably be very insulted if they made him dress as Santa.

Finally, as they're still laughing at the picture, Carisi walks into the apartment holding two bottles of wine. He's grinning ear to ear, obviously in a great mood. His face is pale from the cold, but the tip of his nose and his lips are red. In short, he looks amazing and happy, like a kid coming in from a snowball fight. Plus, he obviously dressed up for church, because he's wearing a very nice (and new, Rafael notices) dark blue suit with a silver-ish shirt and a blue tie. He looks like winter, like a Blue Christmas.

"Hey, Carisi, you made it!" Rollins cries, not getting up from the couch Rafael is sharing with her.

"Thought we'd have to send a search party to Staten Island man," Fin says, standing and clasping the younger man's hand.

Carisi makes his way to greet Olivia, on the way patting Rollins and Rafael on the shoulders. Rafael feels Carisi's cold hand through his shirt.

"You want a drink?" Fin offers.

"Nah, thanks, not yet. I had wine at church."

Rafael chuckles. That's adorable, he thinks.

Rollins pipes up before he can. "That is the most Sunday School thing you have ever said, Carisi."

Rafael cracks up even more. Carisi blushes.

"Yeah, well."

Carisi disappears into the kitchen for a few minutes, and when he returns he has a fresh pitcher of eggnog. He's never looked more appealing than now, holding alcohol to share.

"Refills?" he offers.

Rollins accepts, handing him her glass, but Rafael holds his close, remembering he needs to drink some water and fearing he may say something stupid about how handsome Carisi looks while he's under the influence.

"You don't trust my eggnog, Barba?" Carisi teases.

"Oh, you made this?" Rollins asks, pretending to pour her glass back in the pitcher.

"Ha-ha," Carisi says, "I'll have you know I'm excellent at drinks."

Rafael finally finds his voice. "Especially wine at church?"

Everyone laughs as Carisi rolls his eyes and moves to refill the other guest's glasses.

"Hey, Rollins," Fin gets to soon. "Where's your mom? I thought she was comin' into New York for Christmas."

"Yeah, Christmas Eve is Kim's day, Christmas Day is my day. Can't have Christmases together, you know us. That's too easy."

"Where's your mom, Barba?" Fin asks.

"Christmas, plus the week before and after, is the only time of year my mother does not grace me with her presence. She goes on vacation."

"You don't go with her?" Rollins asks now.

Rafael shakes his head. "I'm too busy. My Abuela, my grandmother, used to travel with her, but..."

"You could've gone this year," Fin says. "I know you've been takin' it easy the past few weeks."

Rafael snorts. "And go on a singles cruise around the Caribbean with my mother? No, thank you."

"Ah, come on," Rollins teases him, now. "Some guys are into Mama's Boys."

Rafael chuckles, but blushes, embarrassed. He's out to Fin, Rollins, and Olivia, but he's not sure about Carisi. He doesn't know Carisi, not personally, and no more than how attractive he is. He glances at the younger man, who is talking to another guest but within earshot to see if he had a reaction.

Are his ears a little red? His cheeks more pink? Is Rafael imagining it? Is it bad he wants a more clear reaction from Carisi when he finds out Rafael is gay?

Carisi steps back to the group, examining his pitcher closely.

"Speaking of Mama's Boys," Rollins teases him. She's always teasing him. Poor Carisi.

Carisi smiles anyway.

"What are your plans for tomorrow, Carisi?" Fin asks.

"Uh..." he blushes again. "Breakfast at my mom's house."

The group laughs.

"That's cute, Carisi," Rollins mutters. "Real cute."

Rafael subtly looks at her as she takes a drink of her eggnog, as she looks at Carisi with admiration. Rafael doesn't like that. He admires Carisi.

"Gee, thanks," Carisi says, an eye roll attached.

The party dies down when it gets too late for the children, and for Fin who, childless, still leaves at the same time Rollins does. Rafael and Carisi are left, and both volunteer to help Olivia clean up. She leaves to put Noah to bed as soon as the last guest exits the apartment.

"So this was fun," Carisi says, rolling the sleeves of his nice shirt up to wash dishes.

"That's a nice shirt, Carisi. Let me do the dishes."

"Nah, can't let you do that, Barba. Trust me, I've been stuck in dishes duty my entire life."

"Really? Why?"

"'Cause my sisters are mean and they'd threaten to rip my baseball cards in half if I didn't."

Rafael laughs. "I can assure you I will not rip your baseball cards in half. Now, step aside." He uses his most stern voice.

Carisi easily complies. "Ok, ok. I'll dry."

They get a nice two-man assembly line going, and Carisi's shirt stays miraculously clean. Rafael, however, gets soap on his tie.

They're silent for too long. It doesn't get awkward, but Rafael thinks he's wasting so much time he could be having a real, personal conversation with Carisi.

Finally, Rafael knows what to say.

"So--" he starts.

"So--" Carisi says.

They chuckle.

"You go--"

"Go ahead--"

Another laugh.

"No really," Carisi quickly says, "What were you gonna say?"

Rafael shrugs. "I was just going to ask if I was remembering right that you're Catholic."

"Yeah, that's right. That's why I was so late tonight, 'cause I go to church with my family on holidays. Well, whenever I can, but I have to on holidays."

"I understand. Christmas used to be the only day of the year that my mother would make me go."

Carisi nods. "Yeah, I heard you say she's outta town."

"Out of the country, actually. She likes to get away from the New York weather for a few weeks. I don't blame her."

"No? I like our winters. I had the best times as a kid during the winter."

"Really?" Rafael asks. "How?"

"Sledding, snow ball fights, ice skating. Ah man, I love ice skating. I'm not very good, but it's a blast."

"I've...never been."

Carisi looks like he's about to drop the plate he's drying. "What?! How do you live in New York City and you've never been ice skating?!"

Rafael shrugs, getting back to the dishes.

"You've never gone skating at the Rock? Central Park?"

Rafael shakes his head. "I tend to avoid touristy places, especially in the winter."

"Oh man. I gotta take you ice skating. What time is it? What time does the Rock close?"

Rafael laughs. "Carisi, we have dishes to clean."

"Alright, tomorrow?"

Rafael smiles. Carisi is serious about this.

"That's a nice thought, but you have breakfast to eat with your mother."

"Oh, yeah. Right. Uhm..."

Rafael pushes down the little bit of disappointment blooming, the one telling him he's possibly missing a chance with Carisi. Spending time with him outside of work would be nice, "date" or, more likely, not.

A silent minute ticks by, Rafael focusing on not splashing on his shirt or dropping a plate when handing it to Carisi.

"Hey," Carisi finally says. "How about Sunday?"

"Sunday?" Rafael asks, surprised.

"Ice skating. We can go to Central Park or the Rock, it's up to you. We'll have to go when I get out of church, so maybe...noon?"

Rafael just blinks at him, so surprised. Carisi really is serious about this. He wants to do something with Rafael outside of work. He wants to do something fun with Rafael outside of work.

"We...we don't have to, it's dumb, I know--"

"No," Rafael stops him from taking it back. "I'd like that."

A slow smile spreads across Carisi's face, like he's catching up to what's happening.

"Awesome," he says. "And...hey, we don't have to, but...maybe we can, y'know, grab some lunch before?"

Rafael smiles. "I'd like that, too."

"Awesome," Sonny proudly says, his smile so big that his dimples are the deepest Rafael has ever seen.

Finally, Olivia rejoins them in the kitchen.

"Two stories," she announces, sounding tired. "You would think he'd be wiped out from playing all evening, but he was still going. Anyway, what are you two talking about?"

"Ice skating," Carisi answers.

"Ice skating? Carisi, do you know this one," Olivia pokes Rafael in the back. "Has never been ice skating?"

Carisi grins at him. "Oh, really?"

Rafael just rolls his eyes. Olivia and Carisi tease Rafael about all the winter pastimes he's missed out on, and Rafael can tell the gleam in Carisi's eye is a vow to engage in a snowball fight on Sunday.

Chapter Text

There was a fight. There's always a fight, usually small disagreements or spats that are over a few hours later.

This one was pretty big. So big that Rafael--who is usually in bed at least fifteen minutes after Sonny--woke up, got ready, and left before Sonny was out of the shower. When they crossed paths in the bathroom, Rafael barely glared at him.

Usually, Rafael will text Sonny in the morning while they're both at work. Just to say hi, to ask how he is. Sonny usually doesn't have to text first.

By ten o'clock, Sonny gets flat out annoyed with it. He doesn't think he'd get so annoyed except that he knows Rafael's been calling Benson all morning so he's not busy.

He texts Rafael at exactly 10:30.

"Babe."

He gets a reply exactly an hour later, on the dot. Just to piss him off.

"Detective Carisi."

Sonny rolls his eyes so hard his head hurts.

Ok, so it was his fault. He made a big, figurative mess and Rafael is pissed and Sonny even pulled out the 'babe'.

"I'm sorry. I love you."

This time, Sonny gets a reply about two seconds later.

"I'm busy, Carisi."

Benson comes out of her office. "I have a last minute lunch meeting," she announces. "Fin, you're in charge."

But she's smiling, she's not acting like she has an important meeting. Sonny glances at the calendar; it's Wednesday. She's having lunch with Rafael. Sonny wants to throw his phone.

"You are not busy," Sonny replies instead of throwing his phone. "You are going to lunch with Benson."

"I believe my lunch plans are none of your business, Detective."

Sonny takes a deep breath. Getting more angry will not solve anything. He figures he can just wait until he gets home so they can talk about it.

"See you at home then."
---
Sonny beats Rafael home, which is also unusual. After two hours, Sonny realizes Rafael is wasting time, avoiding coming home, but finally Sonny hears the lock click and braces himself for the fight.

Rafael stomps into the apartment, ignoring Sonny while dropping his briefcase inelegantly on the coffee table before stomping into their bedroom. He's ripping off his coat and jacket on the way.

Sonny just watches, upset that Rafael didn't even look at him.

He doesn't follow, but less than a second later, Rafael's head pops through the doorway.

"Coming?" he asks, not sounding all that happy.

Sonny thinks now is when they're going to talk it over, so he takes a deep breath and follows Rafael.

When he enters the bedroom, he's surprised to see Rafael randomly ripping his clothes off.

"Uh..." is all Sonny can get out when Rafael drops his pants and Sonny can see him half hard in his briefs.

"I've been thinking about you all day and how goddamn pissed I am and apparently those two things make this happen," he points at his crotch. "So are you going to take your pants off or what?"

Sonny can say no. He is capable of saying no. But Sonny figures if Rafael won't take his verbal apology, the least he can do is offer up his body as one instead. And damn, Rafael's underwear is beginning to tent.

Luckily, he'd showered and changed when he got home, so he doesn't have a thousand layers to get through before he's naked. Which is good, because Rafael is apparently too impatient for anything slow. Sonny drops onto the bed while Rafael grabs a condom and the lube.

He doesn't even stop to kiss Sonny. He just lifts Sonny's legs and gets to work.

"I'm still mad," he finally mumbles, two fingers deep into Sonny's ass.

Sonny doesn't care. He grunts, "I don't care."

Rafael spreads his legs more.

"I'm pretty pissed too," Sonny says. "Ignoring me to have lunch with my boss."

"With my friend," Rafael corrects. He adds another finger. Sonny can't help but moan. "She told me I was being childish," Rafael adds. "You can imagine how that made me feel."

Sonny chuckles. "Yeah I'm sure you loved that." Rafael pushes his fingers in harder and the smirk disappears from Sonny's lips to turn into a long groan.

Finally, Rafael pulls his fingers out. "Up, against the headboard."

Confused, Sonny let's Rafael arrange him to be on his knees facing the headboard, hands on the wall. Sonny hears Rafael tear the condom foil open, then a minute later Rafael is squeezing his hip tight and easing in.

"Ah, fuck, Raf--"

"That's the idea," Rafael replies, pushing in until he's pressed completely against Sonny's ass.

Sonny reaches down to stroke himself. Rafael begins to move, pulling in and out at a quicker pace than usual. He's got a lot of aggression to get out, though.

"So you couldn't stop thinkin' about me all day?" Sonny asks.

"Thinking about how fucking idiotic you can be."

"Still thinkin' about me."

Rafae thrusts harder. It doesn't shut Sonny up.

"Being mad at me makes you hard, huh? How'd you feel sitting there at lunch talking about how mad you were at me?"

"How mad I am at you."

Rafael thrusts pick up again. Sonny strokes himself harder, feeling his orgasm building, but then Rafael grabs his hand and lifts it to the wall again. Sonny groans in frustration this time.

Rafael wraps an arm around Sonny's chest, pulling Sonny flat against his own chest. Rafael's knees spread more, pushing Sonny's legs further apart. He pushes in hard, Sonny can feel his thighs tensing with exertion.

Sonny is so close, but needs something more. He's afraid to reach down for his own dick. His head falls back against Rafael's shoulder.

Finally, Rafael's hand snakes down his stomach to his dick. Hopefully feeling more forgiving towards Sonny, he strokes Sonny in time with each hard thrust. One of Sonny's arms lifts to wrap around Rafael's head, pulling Rafael's face towards his for a kiss.

Sonny comes with Rafael's tongue in his mouth. When he falls forward, exhausted, hands catching himself on the wall again, he feels Rafael bury himself deep to come.

When Rafael finally lets go of Sonny and shuffles backward, Sonny just collapses backwards onto the bed. Rafael disappears into the bathroom for a minute before returning and joining Sonny on the bed.

"I'm still mad," Rafael says.

Sonny scoots over a little bit to let Rafael in.

Sonny is too exhausted to care. "I don't care."

Rafael snorts.

Sonny looks at Rafael. "Still love you, though."

Rafael sighs. "I still love you, too."

Sonny smiles. He can't even remember what they were fighting about, but he's content.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Sonny doesn't remember falling. Sonny doesn't remember hitting his head on hard pavement. Sonny doesn't remember waking up. Sonny doesn't remember an ambulance ride.
Sonny doesn't even remember his own goddamn name.
The nice blonde girl was with him in the ambulance, maybe he remembers that, but then she'd disappeared when he went in for the CT scan and various other head trauma tests he had to endure.
And they keep asking him the same thing: "Sir, do you know your name?"
A nurse appears in the doorway of his room. "Mister Carisi, how do you feel?" she asks sweetly.
"Alright, I guess."
"You're about to feel a lot better," the nurse tells him, fiddling with the bags on his IV. She smiles again.
The nice nurse leaves the room, but is replaced by a blonde girl -the same blonde? maybe- looking frightened and concerned. Must be the same blonde then.
"Carisi? Sonny? You ok? How do you feel?"
All Sonny can do is shrug. He has no idea where he is, what's going on, but his head is throbbing and apparently his name is Carisi.
This makes him look down at the plastic bracelet on his wrist.
"Dominick Carisi," it reads in big typewriter print with a date of birth.
"What's Sonny?" is his first question.
"Y-" the blonde girl pauses and looks more nervous than she had a second ago. "You are. It's your nickname. 'Dominick Carisi Jr., but everyone calls me Sonny.'"
"Uh huh," Sonny mutters, accepting it. "And uh, and I don't mean to be rude here, my mother probably raised me better than that but, uh, who're you?"
"Oh, yeah, right," she fishes something out from under her coat. She produces a police badge. "Detective Amanda Rollins," she introduces herself, handing him the badge.
"You're a cop? A detective? Am I in trouble? Did something happen to me?"
"No, Carisi, you're my partner. We're partners at Manhattan Special Victims Unit. We were chasing a suspect and you slipped on the sidewalk, went down pretty hard."
Sonny runs the back of his head where it hit the ground. "That explains it."
Rollins smiles sympathetically. "Does it hurt much? Do you need something?"
Sonny shakes his head. "So we're partners?"
Rollins nods. "But don't worry about that right now, tell me what you need."
Sonny does start to feel better very quickly. In minutes he's smiling and cracking jokes, making Rollins laugh and look more at ease than she had when she first arrived. But she keeps checking her phone every minute or two.
"Hey, Rollins," Sonny says, "You don't have to stay here if you got somewhere to be. You have a family and stuff?"
"I have a baby, yeah. But it's fine, Sonny, I can't leave you when you keep asking me what your name is."
Sonny laughs. "I do? Geez, sorry. But I don't wanna keep you."
"I'll stay until someone else gets here."
"Someone else?"
"Yeah, your parents or--"
Sonny and Rollins both looked out the room's window at the same moment, Sonny looking for nobody in particular but Rollins probably checking again for Sonny's parents. But when a small man appears in front of the room, stopping to talk to a doctor, Rollins had stopped talking. The man outside the room is very attractive, perhaps Rollins noticed too and that's why she stopped talking.
"Wow, who's the suit talking to my doctor?"
Rollins slowly looks at Sonny, a small smile cracking across her face.
"Barba?"
She says it like Sonny should know that name. Sonny doesn't even know his own name.
Sonny blames the pain medication for muttering, "He's...wow."
Rollins chuckles. "You ok, Carisi?"
"Yeah, just..." Sonny can't help licking his lips. Man, that's an attractive guy.
"Do I know him? You said his name like I should know him."
Rollins laughs fully now. "Wait, you...you like what you see Carisi?"
Rollins is messing with him now. Teasing him. Maybe she didn't know about his sexuality before. What is his sexuality anyway? All he knows is that Barba is pretty much the most beautiful man he's ever seen in real life.
"I'm...I'm allowed to appreciate, alright Rollins?"
"No, yeah, I know," Rollins agrees, still smirking.
Sonny just stares at Barba outside the window, finding it really sexy when Barba crosses his arms for some reason. The way he's looking at the doctor, so attentively, Sonny is almost jealous. For what? He doesn't even know Barba.
"Jesus," Sonny sighs when Barba stands up straighter and his shoulders flex a little. "He is really freakin' hot." Sonny blames the drugs again for actually saying that out loud.
"Is this what it's like in your brain all the time, Carisi?" Rollins asks, laughing.
Sonny tears his eyes away from the perfect man outside his room to look at Rollins. "What?"
"Carisi I have something to tell you," she says, still laughing. Why is she laughing at him? "Barba is your--"
Just then Barba barges into the room. Sonny panics, because christ the beautiful man is in his room now. What's he supposed to do?
"Sonny," Barba says, looking as nervous as Rollins did when she walked in. Ok, so Sonny does know him. Maybe he's a cop, too.
"Hey Barba," Rollins says. "I was just about to break the news to Sonny that you're his boyfriend."
"Wait, what?!" is all Sonny can get out.
"The doctor said to tell him things slowly, Rollins. Or to let him come to facts on his own."
Sonny is still confused.
"He just spent the last five minutes ogling you through the window. Someone had to tell him."
"What?" Sonny asks again.
Rollins laughs again and stands from the chair she was occupying. "Alright, I'll let you two get reacquainted. I've got to relieve the sitter. Call me if you need anything, alright?"
Sonny wants to ask her not to leave him alone with Barba, mostly because he's in disbelief and is incredibly confused. But she gives him one last friendly smile before leaving the room.
Barba instantly starts fussing over him. He lightly touches Sonny's head while looking for signs of injury.
"Are you ok? Does it hurt? Where does it hurt?"
Sonny is still stuck on the boyfriend thing. There's no way he's this lucky. Just no way.
"You sure we're dating?" he asks while Barba is pushing his hair off his forehead.
But Barba slowly pulls his hand away. "Is that...alright?"
Sonny wants to pull his hand back. "Alright? I just can't believe it. You're...I'm...you know I'm from Staten Island right? You're hot and I'm from Staten Island."
Barba laughs, looking relieved. "Yes, I know you're from Staten Island. I've learned to look passed it."
"I'm gonna need some proof," Sonny says, suddenly. What proof, he has no idea. Maybe Barba has a photo of them, or--
Nope, Barba just delicately grabs his face and plants one long kiss on his lips. Apart from feeling amazing because he hasn't been kissed by someone this attractive since spin the bottle with some cheerleaders in tenth grade, it feels like this just fits. Like he does this every day. Like he did it before leaving for work this morning.
Barba pulls away first, but not before Sonny tries to yank him back in for more.
"How was that?" Barba asks.
"You're, like..." It's the drugs, Sonny blames the drugs. "So hot."
Barba laughs. "Thanks, Sonny." Barba turns away from him to check the information board. But he mutters over his shoulder, "Do you need anything? Are you hungry? Thirsty?"
"Yeah, there is one thing."
Barba looks at him again.
"What's your name?" Sonny asks.
Barba smiles sympathetically, then goes back to the bed and takes Sonny's hand.

 

Chapter Text

Rafael does not consider sitting at a bar a date. Sonny asked if he wanted to 'get together', saying, "My parents are outta town so I want to watch the game at a bar, come with me!" And Rafael thought, date with Sonny? Drinking? Sounds like a good time.

He was wrong. 'The game' in question was the biggest sporting event of the year (the Super Bowl), which means the bar is so crowded they can't sit, and the guy in front of Rafael keeps jabbing him in the ribs.

The only redeeming part of the evening is that Sonny's close friend from childhood owns the bar, so Sonny just goes behind the bar to get fresh beers. The bad part is that's all he's getting, and Rafael hates beer.

He gets a pleasant buzz going anyway, to hopefully start drowning out the crowd's yelling. And to dull his brain while watching football.

At least Sonny is here, and cute, and happy. He has a huge smile on his face, his cheeks pink from the alcohol and heat in the building. He's got on an old football jersey, that's too short and so adorable, even though he told Rafael that it's not even for the right team. Rafael has no idea, it makes no difference to him. Sonny looks sweet in it anyway.

Sonny announces he needs another beer, so Rafael downs the last of his so Sonny can take it to replace. Sonny weaves his way through the crowd, but instead of going behind the bar this time, he waits for his friend to bring him something.

That's when Rafael sees Sonny being approached by a girl. A woman. A young woman, much younger than Rafael and probably younger than Sonny. She's pretty, and Sonny just smiles at her.

But the girl doesn't stop. Rafael can't hear what's being said, and he can't read lips, but the girl touches Sonny's arm and Sonny just laughs. And flirts. While Rafael is standing right there, in a noisy bar watching football and drinking shitty beer, all for him.

Rafael scowls, willing the woman away. She just gets closer and closer to Sonny, and Rafael can't tell if he's trying to get away from her or if he's swaying into her. He's drunk, Rafael knows that. And he's at a bar with a bunch of hyper-masculine sweaty men, it's not like he's going to flirt with Rafael.

Finally, Sonny's friend approaches him again with a beer in a glass and a glass of what Rafael is hoping is scotch. The woman actually makes an attempt to grab the scotch, and Rafael wants to run over there and yank her away. Touching his Sonny one thing, touching his scotch is another.

Luckily, Sonny gets away, and returns to Rafael.

"Hey," Sonny says, smiling. "Pulled some strings and got you--"

"Who was that?" Rafael asks, nodding toward where Sonny was talking to the woman.

"Sam? You know Sam, he owns the bar."

Rafael rolls his eyes. "Not Sam. The girl. The woman who was all over you."

"Wh--" Sonny sighs. "Jesus, not this. I didn't think you were the jealous type."

They've been together for two months, it's far too early for Rafael to be territorial, but Sonny is his Sonny already. He's always been his Sonny. He's always been Rafael's.

"Well, I am," Rafael admits. "I don't like you being touched by her."

"Ok, is it the woman thing or just anyone flirting with me? Because I've dated lots of people who couldn't handle the bisexual thing, and--"

Rafael is shocked at Sonny's accusation. "Of course it's not because you're bisexual, Sonny! I just--"

Sonny leans over and kisses him. It's a quick peck, sweet, their lips smack and it's all Rafael can hear in the loud bar.

"Don't worry about it," Sonny says. "Drink your scotch. Stand here and be sexy while I finish the football game."

Rafael still scowls. Sonny kisses him again. It lasts a second longer this time, apparently too long for a lovely bar patron because he "accidentally" shoves Sonny in the back and mutters, "Fuckin' fags."

Sonny stands up straight and slowly turns around. Rafael, who is more used to this shit than he should be, grabs Sonny's arm.

"Sorry," Sonny says, now in the guy's face. "You got somethin' to say to me and my boyfriend?"

Though this is a terrible and high stress situation, Rafael can't help but flutter at the 'boyfriend'.

"Sonny, don't--"

"Yeah," the guy says, on Sonny's face. "I outta smash your face in for acting that way in here. Let's take this outside and I'll show you a little somethin'."

Sonny puffs up his chest and lifts the bottom of his shirt to reveal his badge that's always attached to his hip. "You just threaten a police officer?"

Sam, Sonny's friend the bar owner, approaches them quickly.

"Hey Son, is there a problem?"

Sonny lifts his eyebrows, like he's asking the other guy.

The guy shakes his head. "Nah, no problem."

The guy moves away from them, Sam clasps Sonny's shoulder and leaves.

Sonny scoots back to stand next to Rafael instead of in front of him. They both sip their drinks, Rafael thinks about apologizing and Sonny just glares at the television.

Finally, Rafael's guilt wins out. He holds Sonny's arm and rubs a thumb over the number peeling off the shoulder of his jersey.

"I'm sorry," Rafael whispers. "I'm sorry for starting this."

Sonny takes a deep breath, then lifts his arm to wrap it around Rafael's shoulders.

"Don't worry about it," he says, kissing the top of Rafael's head.

When the game ends and Sonny's mood still hasn't improved, Rafael decides they need to walk the ten blocks to Sonny's apartment. The snow begins to fall but they still walk.

Sonny grabs his hand once they're a space away from the bar. He squeezes Rafael's fingers tight, and Rafael is glad because he forgot his gloves and his fingers are freezing.

"I'm sorry," Sonny says.

Rafael looks at him. "For what?"

Sonny shrugs. "Makin' you go to the bar, makin' you watch football, for flirting with that girl--"

"No, no," Rafael says. "I'm sorry for being such a baby. I don't know what came over me, really I'm not like that. I mean...yes, I get jealous, but it's nothing you should be apologizing for. I was annoyed because I thought you didn't want to be close to me because we were in that environment."

"Of course that wouldn't matter to me, Rafael. I'm not ashamed. But I am sorry I got so worked up over that guy," Sonny says. "That was...ridiculous and--"

"And really hot," Rafael tells him. "Very hot."

Sonny makes them pause on the sidewalk outside of his building. "Hot? Yeah?" He grins.

"Sexy, actually."

Sonny leans in, very close. "Yeah?"

"Mhm," Rafael sighs, watching Sonny's lips approach his. Sonny grabs the lapels of his coat and pulls him in.

Sonny pulls away first. He looks dreamy and happy. "Thanks for coming. Thanks for tolerating beer and football."

"Should I expect this much more?"

"Nah, not 'til next season."

'Next season'. As in, many more dates ahead for them. 'Next season' is an expectation that Rafael and Sonny will be around a while.

Rafael just smiles. He kisses Sonny softly before letting Sonny go upstairs to his apartment and grabbing a cab to go home.

Chapter Text

Everything has just been so wrong for too long. Rafael, figuring out that he's way too old to be sleeping in obscure places, realizes that he also can't sleep in his fluffy bed alone. If Sonny is in another bed, he is cramped in a hard hospital recliner trying to catch up on sleep.

The day finally comes when Sonny is allowed to go home, even though he keeps asking where that is.

It doesn't help that the doctors and nurses keep asking him the same things he's asking. Sonny's remembered his name, Rafael's name, his family's faces, but still discretely asks Rafael to remind him of Rollins', Fin's, and Liv's names when they visit. It's heartbreaking.

"So, Detective," the nice new daytime nurse says, unhooking all of Sonny's tubes and attachments. "Going home today! Can you tell me where that is?"

Sonny grows the look of intense thought he's had almost his entire stay in the hospital, at least anytime someone official is around. Rafael hopes, prays, that he might have an answer this time, but in a second he lets out a breath and shakes his head. Rafael frowns. He just told Sonny their address yesterday.

"I really can't remember."

The nice nurse smiles. "That's okay. Good try, though. And anyway, this guy's got all the answers, right?" He nods at Rafael.

Sonny touches Rafael's hand. "Yeah," he mumbles, "Thanks goodness."

Rafael grabs Sonny's hand.

"Hey," Sonny adds, "I have an idea. Why don't you tell me the address and I'll try to remember details about the area. The map of Manhattan has been in my head forever, I doubt that's gone."

He looks at Rafael expectantly, so Rafael tells him the address.

"Hmm," Sonny sighs. "Let's see. Isn't there a pizza place right there?"

The nurse snorts. "I'm sure."

Rafael wants to hit him, but Sonny chuckles, too.

"No, no. A real specific one. I...let me think. There was...what was it called? Oh, fuck, it was owned by the brother of the guy who owned the sandwich shop next door and I always thought that was funny."

Rafael remembers the place Sonny is talking about, and remembers that it closed, like, five years ago.

"Pablo's!" Sonny cries, excited. "Pablo's! I live by Pablo's, don't I, Rafi?"

Rafael frowns. "Pablo's closed about five years ago, baby."

Sonny frowns, and he looks completely disappointed.

"It's ok," Rafael whispers, kissing his head. "Good try."

The nurse gives them a sympathetic smile before leaving them alone in the room.

Sonny is discharged a few hours later, right before lunchtime, and they take a cab home. Sonny has already forgotten the address, so Rafael tells the driver himself.

They arrive in a short time, and Rafael leads he way up the stairs, because of course he knows the exact apartment.

The door swings open and Sonny steps inside excitedly.

"Woo," he whistles. "This place is nice."

Rafael breathes it in, too. He hasn't been home for more than thirty minutes at a time since Sonny's been in the hospital. It's clean, for once, besides having not been dusted or generally cleaned since the accident. There's no trash, no dishes in the sink, no clothes lying around. It's nice. Rafael misses the clutter, though. The evidence that Sonny has been home.

"Where do you live?" Sonny asks.

Rafael finds himself blushing, for some reason. Like he's been keeping a secret from Sonny.

"Uh...here."

Sonny's eyes grow wide. "Wait, really? So you're like...we're really together, huh?"

"Uh...yes. I told you--"

"No, no, I knew we were seein' each other, but we live together! That's incredible!"

Sonny has the most adorable look of shock and joy, the same one he had when he re-met his three-year-old niece the other day. That was accompanied with, 'Holy shit, Bells, you had a freakin' baby?!' He held that little girl close, and it was the most normal he's looked since the accident.

Sonny wanders over to the kitchen, where he starts throwing open random cabinets just to check their contents.

"Are you hungry?" Rafael asks when he gets to the fridge. "I can make something or order something. Anything you want, I'm sure you're sick of hospital food."

"Nah, I was just snooping around. I feel like a stranger. In my own home."

"Just don't go snooping through my medicine cabinet," Rafael jokes.

Sonny chuckles. He looks at Rafael happily. "Hey," he says, stepping up to Rafael. "Why don't you show me our bed?"

The way 'our' came out of Sonny's mouth makes Rafael's heart just about burst. They're back in their house, this is their life, Sonny wants to go to their bed. Rafael is more than happy to oblige. He takes Sonny's hand and drags him to the next room.

Sonny takes it all in again. Rafael sits on the bed to remove his shoes, then picks them up to take them to the closet. He opts to change into a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt, because he doesn't think Sonny will want to go out for the rest of the day.

When he returns to the bedroom, Sonny is looking at the line of photos hanging on their wall next to the door.

"When was this taken?" Sonny asks, pointing to a picture of them at a party. Sonny is wearing his dress-blues and Rafael is wearing his nicest suit.

"Liv's wedding," Rafael says. "About six months ago. We were both in it, of course."

"Oh," Sonny sighs, sounding relieved. "I thought you were gonna spring on me next that we're married."

"Oh...no."

Sonny turns to him quickly. "Not that that'd be bad, probably. I just...I'd want to remember that."

Rafael frowns. He brushes hair off Sonny's forehead. "And you will, when the time comes."

Sonny just nods. He gives Rafael a tiny smile, then leaves him to move to the bed.

"Ahh, this is what I'm talking about," he says, flopping into the bed with a bounce.

Rafael ticks. "Please he careful, you have a head injury."

"Eh, it's fine." Sonny scoots around to get comfortable, then finally settles and looks at Rafael. He pats the bed next to him.

Rafael doesn't waste any time getting over there. Finally, things are right. He and Sonny, in bed on a lazy afternoon. Sun streaming through the curtains, Sonny's octopus-like arms wrapping around him tightly. Everything is right.

Rafael wants to fall asleep like this. He can, he's so tired, and so comfortable, and so content. Finally happy. Finally complete. Finally--

Sonny flops onto his back again and sits up. He sits on the edge of the bed.

Rafael is stunned to silence. Is Sonny uncomfortable? Is this too much? Sonny didn't have a lot of experience when they got together, maybe he's taking it all ba--

"Rafi, geez, relax. I'm still wearin' my shoes."

He bends to remove the tattered old pair of Nikes before he takes off his cheap sweatpants and jacket.

"There," he mutters, laying beside Rafael again. "Perfect."

"Yes," Rafael agrees, pulling Sonny as close as possible, vowing to never let go. "Perfect."

Sonny kisses his chin. "Love you, Rafi. Right? I've said that before, right? I don't know how, but I just...I feel it. You could tell me this isn't really my house, that Deb and Dominick aren't my parents, that I've never made detective, and I'd still trust the world about you."

Rafael's heart beats a tiny bit faster. They've told each other they love each other a million of times, but not since the accident. Rafael just hadn't been sure he should.

"I love you too," he says now, no longer insecure. He and Sonny could be dropped into different universe and there is no scenario that they wouldn't love each other.

"Go to sleep, Rafi," Sonny says. "In a couple hours, we'll get up and you can show me around our apartment."

"Okay," Rafael replies, letting his eyes drift shut and falling asleep to the sound of Sonny's heavy breathing.

 

Chapter Text

Rafael, cup of hot coffee in hand, sits on the couch completely out of the way. He's comfortably crosslegged, because Sonny pushed the coffee table flush against the couch to make more space on the floor.

Rafael just stares, coffee forgotten, as Sonny does push-ups on the floor in front of him. Sonny, wearing only tight boxers and a shining layer of sweat on his skin.

This has become a morning habit, ever since the holiday season officially ended. Sonny put on two pounds during Christmas, between being fed excessively at his house and Rafael's mother's house. That, and living almost solely off pumpkin pie for two weeks.

Of course Rafael doesn't care, who is he to tell Sonny what to eat when he eats it? Rafael once went three days on a stressful case eating half a banana and coffee. He's the last person to tell anyone about their eating habits.

And he's not going to tell Sonny to stop his obsessive exercising. If Sonny wants to shed that two pounds, well, Rafael will be supportive. He'll watch Sonny do his push-ups, and his crunches, and his yoga stretches, and his planks.

Sonny is standing. Sonny is starting to do jumping jacks. Sonny is right there, bouncing up and down, and Rafael can't seem to look away.

"What'ya doin', Rafi?" Sonny pants out.

Rafael looks up at his face. "Nothing."

Sonny is smirking. "You could join me, if you want."

Oh, Rafael wants to join him alright. Not like this, though.

"I'm not going to do naked jumping jacks, Rafi."

"I wasn't...thinking that...anymore."

Sonny chuckles as he stands up straight and pulls one of his arms over his chest to stretch. He is a beautifully sculpted man. His body is lean and tight and the two holiday pounds is unnoticeable because he's perfect.

Sonny stretches his arms above his head. His waist sucks in and his boxers slip down.

"That's it," Rafael mutters, standing from the couch and stepping over the coffee table.

"What--"

Rafael grabs Sonny by the waistband and drags him into the bedroom.

"You want to sweat off a few calories?" Rafael playfully asks. "I have a better way."

Rafael kisses Sonny deeply before tossing him onto the bed and joining him quickly.

Chapter Text

Sonny Carisi has never had trouble with dating. He has never been shy, he has never lost his confidence around anyone. He’s dated girls and guys who are out of his league and it’s still worked out in the end.

So why he became such a dork around Rafael Barba is a mystery. Maybe because they’re older and he finally wanted something serious? Maybe because of the intensity of his feelings towards Barba? Maybe because Barba was finally way too out of his league?

Sonny tried to try. He tried to flirt, subtly, discreetly, but nobody ever seemed to notice. And then he began to ask Barba out, which did not go well.

“Hey Barba, uhm, how about some coffee?” he’d asked once after court.

“You’re not going to my office with me, that would be inconvenient for you,” Barba had said.

Another time, Sonny tried to ask Barba out for a drink. They were in Barba’s office late one evening and Sonny was ready to go.

“How ‘bout a drink?” he’d asked.

“I have some right here,” Barba had said. He didn’t exactly offer one to Sonny, so Sonny left alone.

Inviting the man for liquids was not working, so Sonny decided to try food.

“How about some lunch?” he’d asked once when Barba was visiting the precinct.

Before Barba could answer, Rollins piped up asking if the new guy was making a run. Sonny just sighed unhappily and went to fetch lunch for the whole team.

Another time after that, he asked Barba if he wanted to get some dinner while they worked on a case together.

“I’ll order,” Barba had said, and even though it was not exactly what Sonny meant, it was still their first shared meal together.

So, neither drinks nor foods worked, so Sonny’s next option was entertainment. Unfortunately, he had no idea what kinds of things Barba was into. One can’t go wrong with movies, though.

Apparently, you can go wrong with movies, because when Sonny asked if Rafael wanted to see a movie, Rafael said he had wanted to see that specific movie until the reviews came out, and now he had no interest in it. He asked Carisi to let him know how it was if he saw it.

Sonny wanted to ask him if he would like to go to a show with him, for which Sonny did happen to have tickets to and absolutely did not purchase for the sole purpose of taking Barba. Unfortunately, a case came up before he could ask, so he gave the tickets to Barba’s assistant, Carmen.

Sonny was ready to give up. There was no hope, he figured he’d just give up.

Working late in Barba’s office one evening, Sonny had the extra innings of the Mets game playing on the radio. They listened, Sonny explaining something about the game every few minutes.

“I’ve never been to a baseball game,” Barba said.

“Really? Never? Oh, I’ll take you one day. Any day. My dad gets season tickets, so I can just take a pair from him. We gotta go.”

Barba cracked a smile. “Carisi, are you…asking me out?”

Sonny looked at him, annoyed. “Oh, that you notice! I wasn’t even trying that time!”

“I…” Barba chuckled. “What?”

“I’ve been trying to ask you out for, like, six months.”

“Are you serious?”

“Coffee? Drinks? Dinner? A movie?”

“You—no! That is not how you ask someone out!”

“Neither was saying you have to go to a baseball game!”

Barba is laughing now. Sonny is flustered.

“You know what? Whatever,” Sonny said. “Just freakin’ go out with me.” He stood, grabbing his jacket and slipping it on.

“What, now?”

“I’ve been waiting long enough! Let’s go.”

Barba smiled and followed Sonny out of the room. Sonny just rolled his eyes and led Barba to the first restaurant they saw.

Chapter Text

"Holy...holy shit, Rafi, don't look now...oh my god, it's Derek Jeter."

Rafael laughs as Sonny practically turns his back to avoid Derek Jeter. Derek approaches, and Rafael nudges Sonny to turn back around.

"Raf, geez, they let anyone into these things, huh?"

Rafael can see Sonny's eyes bulging out of his head. He smiles earnestly, shaking Derek's hand.

"I guess if you're here," Rafael replies. Derek laughs. "Hey, how's retirement treating you?"

"It's good, it's good. I kind of miss it, you know? But, what can you do? Thinking about joining us old guys anytime soon?"

Rafael laughs. "Oh, I sit half my day. I'm not running around for three hours a night. Oh, Derek, this is my boyfriend, Detective Sonny Carisi of Manhattan SVU."

"New York's finest!" Derek says, reaching to shake a frozen Sonny's hand. "Pleasure, Sonny. Unfortunate you get dragged to these things, though. My wife's already over it. What woman gets tired of ball gowns?"

Rafael smiles, but Sonny forces a laugh, as he's still in shock.

"Speaking of," Derek mutters, looking around, "I'd better go find her. Listen, I'll catch you guys later."

He pats Rafael on the shoulder as he takes off through a maze of people.

Rafael laughs when he looks at Sonny again, because he looks about ready to scream or cry.

"Derek Jeter knows my first name."

Rafael rubs his arm. "Are you going to be alright?"

"How...why...you know..."

"Yeah, he and Alex played on the same traveling baseball team growing up. I was kind of everywhere Alex was, so."

Sonny takes a deep breath. "Oh my god. I need a drink. I need to call my dad."

"Hey, thanks for not blurting out 'I like the Mets' like that time we met Joe Torre."

Sonny's cheeks turn red. "Ah, Jesus, don't remind me."

 

Chapter Text

Sonny pretty much likes having any excuse to hang out with his family. They have family dinner once a week, they celebrate ridiculous holidays together, and they like going on double dates. Rafael thought that was weird at first, but he got very used to often being with a different Carisi.

So when Bella called Sonny and asked if he wanted to go on a double date to Coney Island that following weekend, he was thrilled. Fun rides? Check. Hanging out with Bella and his niece and Tommy? Check. Getting Rafael to ride the Cyclone? Check.

They walk around the boardwalk carnival happily avoiding groups of teens on their own dates and small children. It's busy, but no more than usual. Sonny eats nachos and Rafael gets a corn dog, and everyone is having a great time.

One of Sonny's favorite things to do at the carnival is play the games. He tucks his arm into Rafael's and leans in close.

"Hey baby," he sweetly asks. "How 'bout some cash so I can play a game?"

Rafael snorts. "Why are you asking like that?"

Sonny laughs and shifts to hold Rafael's hand. "That's how my old girlfriends used to ask when I brought them here."

"Wait, you've brought dates here before?" Rafael asks, acting jealous, even though he's not really.

Bella cuts her conversation with Tommy to speak up. "Oh, Sonny used to bring girls here so he could take 'em below the boardwalk to make out."

Sonny turns red with embarrassment.

"Oh, really?" Rafael asks, making fun of him. "So what was your move, Sonny? A romantic ferris wheel ride?"

"That's what I did," Tommy mumbles. Bella pinches his side.

"I--"

"He used to play the games to win a prize, then give them some bullshit about wanting to give the stuffed animal to his baby sister. And then they thought he was so damn sweet. Which he wasn't. I never got a stuffed animal."

Sonny chuckles. "K, Bells, I'll win you a stuffed animal."

"Don't try that," Rafael says, "I don't think you're that sweet."

Tommy and Bella take the baby for a change while Sonny plays a ball toss game where he has to knock the bottles down. He easily knocks the bottles down enough times to win a big stuffed elephant for Bella and a little stuffed puppy for his niece.

When Bella and Tommy get back, Sonny tries to give Bella the elephant.

"Wait," Tommy stops him. "You can't give my wife a stuffed animal. I'm her man, I should give her one."

"I didn't see you over here winnin' one for her," Sonny argues.

"I had to change my baby," Tommy defends.

"You want to give your wife the animal? Play me for it."

"Fine," Tommy says. "I win, I give the elephant to Bella."

"Not uh, you gotta beat me twice."

"Twice?!"

"Oh my god," Bella mutters.

"That's how general tournament play goes, bro. You beat me once we're both tied at one. The second match is the tie breaker."

Rafael from his side mumbles, "Oh for gods sake just play already."

"Now to prove myself as the greatest athlete of all time--"

Rafael, "It's skeeball. Relax, Michael Jordan."

Tommy beats Sonny skeeball by ten points. It's a fair win, but Sonny is still visibly annoyed.

They move back to the ball toss game for the tie breaker, and the men stretch out their arms while the carnie sets up the bottles.

"Oh my god, you're not pitching in the freakin' World Series," Bella says.

The carnie hands them the balls to throw, and they get started quickly. Sonny knocks them all down, but so does Tommy, so their next throws count for the win. Tommy hits them, but Sonny's throw misses the bottles by less than an inch.

"Oh, come on!" Sonny yells.

"Ha-ha!" Tommy shouts. "Hand it over, Sonny."

Sonny pouts and hands the elephant to Tommy, who happily gives it to Bella. She kisses Tommy's cheek and the two look so happy.

Bella takes hold of the stroller handles and starts pushing the baby. She turns back to sonny and says, "It's alright Sonny, you're still the greatest athlete of all time to me."

"Hey, I won," Tommy says.

Sonny, still pouting, falls back a few feet behind the happy couple.

Rafael hooks his arm into Sonny's. "You blew it, didn't you?"

Sonny looks at Bella smiling fondly at Tommy. "Would the greatest athlete of all time lose at bottle toss?"

Rafael kisses Sonny's cheek. "I'll still make out with you under the boardwalk."

Sonny smiles at him. "I'm holding you to that."

Rafael pulls Sonny down for a kiss on the lips, then they hurry to catch up with Bella and Tommy so they can watch the baby while her parents ride the ferris wheel.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Rafael decided not to hire his new assistant himself. He was far too busy and didn’t need to get to know someone who was going to take calls for him. He made a few calls and was told someone would be sent over by the end of the month.

The end of the month arrives and Rafael forgets about getting a new assistant. He’s typing on his phone as he approaches his office door and almost walks into someone because he isn’t looking.

“Oh, sor—“

Rafael looks up from his phone into the face of a beautiful young man. Gorgeous blue eyes, shining skin, a nicely fitting suit.

The man is smiling. He lets go of the messenger bag he’s got slung over his shoulder to reach for Rafael’s hand.

“Mr. Barba? I’m the new assistant.”

Barba shakes his hand, not tearing his eyes away from the pretty man’s face. “Rafael Barba.”

“Dominick Carisi Jr. Everyone calls me Sonny, though.”

“Sonny,” Rafael repeats.

Sonny smiles. “I, uh, I’m from the temp. agency, but it’s kinda cool, ‘cause I’m a law student at Fordham.”

“Huh,” is all Rafael can say. He’s so pretty. So young. A student. “How old are you?” Rafael asks.

Sonny laughs. “I get that a lot. I’m twenty-nine, I got my school start a little late. Almost done, though.”

“Beautiful,” Rafael mumbles.

“Sorry, what?”

“Wonderful,” Rafael corrects himself. “That’s wonderful. I’ve got to get to court.”

Rafael practically runs into his office, completely embarrassed, and calls Olivia.

“Benson.”

“I got a new assistant.”

“Oh, finally. Who are they?”

“His name is Sonny and he is really, really hot.”

Olivia laughs at him. “You can’t sleep with your assistant.”

“Why not?”

“Because you need someone to answer your calls more than you need someone to sleep with.”

“I need both, actually.”

Olivia laughs again. “Be careful.”

There’s a knock at his door. He hangs up with Olivia and yells for the knocker to enter.

“Hey boss,” Sonny says in greeting. “How d’ya take your coffee?”

“Hot,” Rafael answers.

Sonny laughs. “Alright.”

Luckily, Rafael survives his short time with the man, but at the end of his temporary stay, Sonny ends up asking him out first. Thank god, too, because Rafael never would have.

Chapter Text

Rafael is just, at this point, trying to remind himself that he’s been single for far too long. He hasn’t been in a relationship in years, he hasn’t even had a one-night stand in…a long time. He is lonely.

Which is part of the reason why Carisi looks so damn appealing. After he lost the ‘stache and freshened up his look, the younger man got way more handsome. With his hair back and sleeves rolled up, Rafael has to remind himself that he does not sleep with coworkers.

What Rafael needs is a distraction. He needs something else to focus on while Carisi is parading around with confidence like he owns the place, something to do with himself while listening to Carisi ramble on and wondering what else that mouth can do.

So he eats. Anything, everything, all the time, everywhere. He’s always been a snack above meal person, because snacks are quicker and easier, but now it’s constant. He eats baggies of pretzels like they help him survive, he eats M&M’s like they’re going out of business. He just eats.

It helps, at first, because instead of watching Carisi, he’ll count Cheetos from the bag. When someone asks if he’s paying attention, he’ll mutter a yes and continue focusing on his snack.

It doesn’t become a noticeable problem until about two months later when two things happen.

First, Rafael finds that one morning he cannot button his pants comfortably. Not only is he snacking much more often lately, he is snacking on vending machine food. This is an easy fix, because he figures he’d just better buy some fruit and pack snacks from now on. Easy.

The second thing Rafael finds is much weirder. He’s sitting in his office, blessedly detective free, when his phone rings. He doesn’t check the caller ID before answering.

The deep Staten Island accent greets him on the other side.

Rafael’s stomach growls. He looks down at his belly, wondering what the hell—

Carisi speaks again. Rafael’s stomach turns with hunger.

“Oh fuck,” Rafael sighs.

“Uh?”

Rafael cannot win this battle. This is not good for his body or his mind. And now he’s starving.

“Carisi, meet me for dinner.”

“For…dinner?”

“I’ll text you the address.”

“Okay,” Carisi says, a smile tinging his voice.

Rafael hopes this works out. Whatever happens, it will probably be better than snacking all day.

Chapter Text

Sonny Carisi cannot resist a bake sale. He is twenty-four years old, and even though he is very capable of making his own baked goods, there's something about a bake sale that truly appeals to him. Maybe it's the homemade part. Maybe it's that the sale is usually for a good cause. Maybe it's because, at this point in the semester, he is way too busy to be making his own brownies.

So Sonny buys half a dozen of he thick, gooey brownies from the nice girl with a flower tattoo, then he goes home to snack and study.

About an hour later, Sonny is glad he has enough discipline to eat just one sweet at a time.

Because these brownies...they are not regular brownies.

Sonny has had experience with pot only once before in his life: in high school, he took a puff of a joint at a party. It was nothing, it smelled awful, and he didn't feel much afterwards.

But now. After an entire brownie slice, he is feeling something. He is feeling good. He is feeling euphoric. He is feeling fucking starving. He is feeling very, very lonely without Rafael.

Finally, Rafael bursts through the front door of their apartment and Sonny has no idea what time it is. How long has he been staring at his hands? Where did his pants go?

"Uh...Sonny?" Rafael asks, confusedly looking around the room at Sonny's discarded clothes. Ah, there are his pants!

"Hey baby!" Sonny loudly cries.

Rafael drops his bag on the floor next to the coffee table and delicately steps over to Sonny.

Sonny can't seem to stop smiling, at least he thinks he's smiling. He is so happy to see Rafael, so excited that he's home, that as soon as Rafael is sitting next to him, he is touching every bit of Rafael that he can reach. Sonny strokes Rafael's hair, his face, his arms, his thighs.

"I missed you!" Sonny yells again, right in Rafael's face.

"Sonny? Uhm...there's no easy way to ask this. Are you high?"

Sonny pauses. "Baby, how could you--you can't even tell...I'm sitting on the couch."

Rafael tries to hold back a smile.

"Rafi," Sonny says, stroking Rafael's arms and thighs. "I'm so happy to see you. I've been waiting for you all day--"

"You texted me an hour ago saying you just got home--"

"I took my pants off to wait for you, Rafi. My eyes are happy to see you, Rafi, but my penis is really happy to see you."

Rafael laughs loudly. "So you're horny when you're stoned?"

Sonny tries to climb onto Rafael's lap, but Rafael stops him because he's laughing so hard.

"Wait, hang on," Rafael says, getting up from the couch. He walks towards the kitchen area while taking off his suit jacket and vest.

"Rafi, baby, where are you going? Take your clothes off over here. They can snuggle with mine!"

Rafael laughs again while pouring Sonny a glass of water. He returns and hands Sonny the glass. Then, he slips off his shoes and grabs a brownie from the plate on the coffee table.

"Get on my level, Rafi!"

Rafael laughs so hard he almost chokes on the bite he's trying to chew. Sonny drinks the water as Rafael eats, then Sonny puts the glass down and climbs onto Rafael's lap. This time, Rafael lets him, welcoming him with a hand on Sonny's ass.

Sonny has Rafael undressed in record time, all while sneaking kisses here and there and giggling against Rafael's skin. They move from the couch to the bed, stumbling along the way because Sonny won't let Rafael go.

A long while later, because Sonny is into torturing Rafael to death while high, apparently, they're laying in a messy, sweaty heap on the bed.

"Rafi? Hey Rafi?"

"I'm right here, Sonny."

"We got any Doritos?"

Rafael snorts. "You are not eating Doritos in my bed."

"Aww, come on!"

Sonny stares at Rafael until he finally concedes. Sonny excitedly bounds from the bed, completely naked, for the bag of Doritos he remembers is in the kitchen.

When he returns, he jumps onto the bed over Rafael and digs in to his snack. Rafael gets his phone out and they laugh at YouTube videos forever.

An afternoon that was supposed to be spent studying ends up being quite entertaining instead.

Chapter Text

Sonny has plenty of time.

All he needs to do is change and head to the courthouse. Just like any regular day.

Barba's in the Leui's office, and he's about to get called in to go over a few notes before Barba heads to court. They're trying a big case today.

Just like any regular day.

Sure enough, as Sonny's getting comfortable with his regular cup of coffee and his regular crossword puzzle, he gets called into Liv's office.

They talk about the case for about twenty minutes before Barba checks his watch and announces he'd better head out.

"Carisi, don't you have somewhere you need to be?" the lawyer asks as he's slipping on his coat.

"I have plenty of time."

Barba gives one last parting smirk before leaving the office. Sonny goes back to his desk.

An hour later, they get a call. Liv comes out of her office to assign duties, and Sonny is already out of his chair.

"I got it!" he announces, grabbing his keys. It is, after all, just a regular day.

"Carisi, don't you have somewhere you need to be?" Liv asks.

"I have time!" he calls as he hustles to the elevator.

Two hours later, he and Rollins are making an arrest and loading a guy into the car. Sonny checks his watch.

"Hey, I can go book this guy if you need to get to the courthouse."

"I have plenty of time," Sonny tries to convince himself.

He books the guy as quickly as possible, he even skips the line of detectives waiting for their own time to book. But Sonny actually is in a bit of a hurry.

Sonny's change of clothes is in his locker, so he rushes to dress and doesn't even get his tie on before running back to his desk for his coat.

Fin is the next to ask the daily question. "Hey Carisi, shouldn't you be--"

"I'm going!" he yells, running for the elevator.


 

It's almost 6. The judge wants to go home. She checks her watch. Carmen impatiently taps her knee.

"Barba--"

Rafael cuts her off. "He'll be here."

The door bursts open. Rafael turns quickly to find a panting, sweaty Carisi in the doorway.

"Nice of you to join us, detective," Judge says. "Now let's get this show on the road."

Carmen gets a paper out of her briefcase and the judge stands to come around the desk to their side.

"Where have you been?" Rafael whispers to Carisi.

"I got caught up."

"Was booking the arrest more important than this?"

"It was my arrest," Sonny argues. "And I made it, didn't I?"

"Let me know when you two are done," the judge says, "It's not like anyone else has anywhere else to be."

Rafael grabs Sonny's hand and takes a deep breath. He sees Sonny's chest rise and fall as well.

"Okay. Ready?"

Rafael nods once.

The judge smiles. "Sonny--or should I say Dominick?--and Rafael, today you celebrate one of life's greatest moments and give recognition to the worth and beauties of love, as you join together in the vows of marriage.

Rafael, do you take--"

"I do," Rafael quickly says.

"I didn't even ask you a question," Judge says.

"Oh, sorry. Go on."

Sonny chuckles.

The judge completes the question. Rafael answers with 'I do.'

"Dominick," she asks next, "Do you--"

Sonny grins. "Yup."

Judge rolls her eyes. "What is wrong with you two? You know what? Just sign the thing. Congratulations, you're married."

Sonny grabs Rafael and plants a long, sweet kiss on his lips.

"I love you," Sonny whispers.

Rafael smiles against his lips. "I love you too, but I can't believe you were almost late. For our wedding."

"I was not, I had plenty of time."

Carmen clears her throat behind them, so they go to her to sign the marriage certificate.

"Congratulations again," Judge says, shaking both of their hands. Carmen hugs both of them quickly before rushing to submit the certificate.

They leave the office to head to dinner with their friends and family.

"Glad you made it," Rafael says as they stroll hand in hand towards the restaurant.

"I knew I was going to. You didn't have to stress all day."

Rafael smiles. "I wasn't stressed."

He was, actually. All day he feared Sonny would be too late. Sonny was treating it like too normal a day. He rushed through everything and even had time to go home and change.

"Yes you were," Sonny says.

 

 

Chapter Text

The alarm goes off, blaring loudly through the room, and it won't stop unless he turns over to click it off, but he's so comfortable that he actually doesn't mind the annoying trill echoing through the room.

His bedmate has other plans, like climbing over him to turn the alarm off. Rafael smiles as Sonny stretches over him.

Rafael used to not wake up smiling. He used to wake up scowling at the world, damning the world, his negative attitude already seeping through.

Now, Rafael wakes up wanting to wake up.

He wants to wake up like this every day.

Smiling.

With a hot, solid body on top of him.

Every day, Rafael replays in his head. Every day sounds so great. Every day sounds...so possible.

Today. He wants it today.

"What are you doing today?" Rafael asks.

"You, hopefully. Maybe a few times."

Sonny kisses his neck. Licks his collarbone.

"You want to marry me?"

Sonny pauses, tongue still out against Rafael's skin.

He sucks it back in. Slowly.

Time has stopped. Rafael isn't even nervous, doesn't have the time, as time has literally...stopped.

He expects a gigantic no, since Sonny's initial reaction was to actually pause time.

Instead, Sonny asks, "What, today?"

Rafael almost plays it off as a long-term proposal, maybe in six months, they can plan a real wedding, get married somewhere beautiful.

But he did mean today. Today, he wants to bind his life to Sonny's. He wants to be legally recognized as in it for the long haul.

"Well," Rafael says, "I'm off, and you're off--"

"So you just think, what? We'll stop by the courthouse and--"

"I think tomorrow I want to wake up next to a husband."

"Fuck," Sonny sighs. He lifts his head to look down into Rafael's face. He looks so calm, so happy. "That's the most romantic thing. Let's do it."

"Really?" Rafael asks, his smile matching Sonny's. Half asleep, wondering if he's still dreaming, mentally preparing to marry Sonny in a few hours.

Call in a favor--a few favors--Carmen can be a witness, maybe Liv, or Rollins--Jesus Christ, his mother is going to kill them, not to mention what Sonny's mother is going to do, and his sisters, and--

Just him and Sonny. Waking up smiling forever.

Chapter Text

Sonny and Rafael have not seen each other in five straight days. When one is home, the other is not, and that's the same with the courthouse, the precinct, and even Rafael's office.

Friday is Halloween, which Sonny has had off since the beginning of the year. Halloween is an important day for him, even though it brings out the crazies and as a police officer it's like winning the lottery. But as a six-year-old at heart? Sonny just wants to dress up and eat candy.

Which is why he attends his sister Theresa's Halloween party every year. Theresa has had a Halloween party every year for as long as Sonny can remember. When they were kids, it was in the late afternoon on Halloween and they bobbed for apples before trick-or-treating as a group. When they were teens, they were allowed to have friends over late to watch scary movies. Theresa's Halloween party was the first place Sonny ever got drunk. He was sixteen, Theresa was nineteen, their parents were out of town, and it was all kinds of illegal. Now, as adults, there are no rules and Sonny doesn't throw up the next morning anymore.

Even though Rafael would like to spend Sonny's Friday off relaxing with him all day, he has to go to work. Sonny goes to Theresa's early to help decorate, and Rafael says he'll meet him there.

The theme of the party is superheroes, and Sonny wears his Superman costume all day. He wanted to be Batman, but Theresa is Wonder Woman and Sonny thought that would be many different kinds of wrong, so he went with the classic Superman, a strand of hair curled down his forehead and all.

Sonny is eager all day to see Rafael. Not only does he miss Rafael like crazy, because their schedules have been freakin' ridiculous lately, but he is also curious as to who Rafael is dressing as. He has no idea, Rafael would not tell him because he wanted Sonny to be surprised.

Sonny checks the door every time somebody enters the house.

"Could you relax?" Bella asks, helping Sonny set out the jello-shots. "He'll get here."

"Yeah, because it's easy for you when Tommy's workin' graveyard."

"I didn't say it was, I'm just saying you're making me nervous, checkin' the door like that."

"I just miss him, that's all."

Bella fondly rolls her eyes. "Here," she says, handing Sonny a blue jello-shot. "Relax."

Sonny slurps the jello and checks the door one more time.

An hour into the party, after lots of non-Rafael's have arrived, Sonny has eaten over a dozen jello-shots and his tongue is stained blue. The music in the house is loud, and it's a great party for being hosted by an "old lady", as Sonny keeps telling her.

He's drunk, or at least really buzzed. He is having a great time, even though he keeps checking his phone and the door.

Sonny grabs Bella by the shoulders as she's trying to pass him.

"Bells," he slurs, "Bells. Tell me right now. Where is my boyfriend?"

Bella, still sober as the party's designated driver, is laughing uncontrollably.

She tells him, "I don't know, Son."

"Bells," Sonny says again, "Take me to find him."

"I'm not taking you to find him."

"But I miss him. I want him. Right now. Take me to him."

Bella grabs his arms back. "He will be here."

Sonny lets her go. "I don't need you. I can fly."

With that, Sonny whips his cape and heads to check the door again.

Tommy arrives, which Sonny hates because now he's the only one dateless. He criticizes Tommy's Joker costume and Bella's Harley Quinn costume.

"Shut up," Bella says, "At least I didn't get stood up."

"I have not been stood up! I--"

The front door opens. Fucking Zorro walks in, fake mustache and all, and Sonny can immediately tell it's Rafael.

"Holy shit..." he sighs.

He remembers telling Rafael a really long time ago that one of his first crushes was on the character Zorro. One summer when he was about twelve, he spent a month with his grandpa and they watched the entire series of the Walt Disney 1950's Zorro. Little Sonny idolized the hero. Zorro is a bad ass, and sexy and mysterious, too, and Sonny loved him as a kid. Little Sonny had gone through a long, confusing array of emotions towards the masked crusader, which Sonny ultimately asked himself: did he want to be Zorro or be with Zorro?

Now, twenty years later, the feelings come flooding back.

Sonny is stunned, just staring at Rafael from across the room. The very hot room.

Bella elbows him. "Bro, it's Rafael."

Sonny lifts his jaw, which had dropped on the floor the second Rafael walked it.

"He's freakin' Zorro."

"Oh god," Bella says. "I do not even want to know what kind of fantasy this is fulfilling for you."

Rafael spots Sonny and smirks. Sonny wants him to just stand still and not be any more sexy for the rest of the party. At least until Sonny isn't wearing spandex.

But Rafael does not stand still. He approaches Sonny, his swagger carrying him through the room like the badass he's impersonating.

Bella had disappeared unnoticed, and now Sonny and Rafael are alone in a crowded room.

"Well?" Rafael asks. "Do you like it?"

Sonny licks his lips; he hadn't noticed he was drooling. "I, uh...uhm..."

Rafael smirks again. Sonny almost moans.

"How about a drink?" Rafael asks.

Sonny just nods and takes off to the kitchen, where he gets Rafael a glass of straight whiskey.

Sonny doesn't take his eyes off Rafael for the rest of the night. When they talk to other people, Sonny hovers close by, and when they're talking alone, Sonny has him backed against a wall so nobody else can come near him.

They're both pretty drunk after a while, and Rafael gets a certain gleam in his eye. He leans in close to Sonny, brushes his lips up Sonny's neck, and whispers in his ear, "Meet me in the bathroom in five minutes."

Sonny bites his lip to hold back a moan, then Rafael sweeps through the crowd towards the guest bathroom.

Sonny watches the clock, counts down the seconds, and in five minutes exactly he's slipping into the bathroom.

Rafael--Zorro--attacks him with a kiss. He pulls the hat back so it's caught around his neck but out of the way, but the mask stays in place.

Sonny immediately begins rolling his hips against Rafael, getting hard embarrassingly quickly. He grabs at Rafael's ass, his face, his hips; he touches every bit of Rafael that he can reach.

"So you like the costume?" Rafael asks again between sucking kisses.

Sonny sticks his tongue down Rafael's throat, grabs Rafael's hand, and puts it to his own erection.

"Fuck, Sonny--"

"Jesus, Rafi, you have no idea."

Rafael strokes him through thin fabric, and a small part of Sonny's brain is saying he probably shouldn't come in spandex.

Rafael seems to think the same thing, because he drops to his knees.

"Holy fuck," Sonny pants, grabbing Rafael's shoulders. "Zorro is about to blow me."

Rafael grins. "He will if he can figure out how to get this damn costume off."

Sonny reaches back and pulls the Velcro tabs so the costume comes apart, then pushes it down to his thighs. Rafael slowly peels the tight underwear beneath down and Sonny's erection springs free.

Sonny watches in slow motion as masked Rafael sticks his tongue out to lap at the fluid already dripping from his cock. Rafael's breath is hot, his tongue is hotter, and Sonny's eyes roll back already.

"I'm not gonna last," he admits.

Rafael must take that as an order, because he wraps his lips around the head next and sucks.

Sonny moans loudly. His head falls back against the door he's pushed against.

Rafael slowly bobs his head, taking Sonny in deeper and deeper as he goes, soon his nose presses against Sonny's pelvis. Sonny bites his knuckle to keep from shouting, and he digs his fingers into Rafael's hair to hold on.

Sonny begins to thrust himself, and Rafael lets Sonny use his mouth. He opens his throat and lets Sonny in deep; Sonny makes a mess of him with spit and pre-come. Sonny loves it, he can't stop telling Rafael how sexy he is and how good he feels.

Finally, not many erratic thrusts later, Sonny pulls out and starts to jerk himself, the head still rubbing against Rafael's outstretched tongue.

"Ready, baby?" Sonny grunts out.

Rafael looks up at him, through thick eyelashes, through that mask, and Sonny comes with a whine. Drops land on Rafael's tongue, on his chin, on his cheek, but thankfully not the costume.

Sonny slumps against the door, and Rafael smoothly catches him.

"So...fucking...hot..." Sonny sighs as Rafael kisses his neck.

Rafael grins against his skin. "I'm glad you like it."

"Of course," Sonny says.

They clean Sonny up and get him dressed, then exchange a few lazy kisses before joining the party again.

Theresa glares at them as soon as she spots them again.

"You two were in there an awfully long time," she comments.

Sonny, thankfully, chooses not to say anything crude to his sister. Instead, he just pulls the handsome hero Zorro close to dance with him.

 

 

Chapter Text

The detectives waltz into Barba's office while Barba is on the phone. Amanda walks in and sits at one of the stiff chairs, but Carisi lingers by the door and crosses his arms. Amanda tries to get him to sit, to stop being so awkward, but Carisi is the king of awkward, so he stands uncomfortably by the door.

"Detectives," Barba finally greets as he's hanging up the phone. "So nice of you to finally join."

Barba called two hours ago, but of course they were busy.

"You know you're happy to see us," Amanda says.

'Us', she says, not meaning 'us'.

"We were excited when you got your call," she adds.

'We', she lies.

"Mhm," Barba hums. "I put the coffee on, but who knows how hot it still is. You're welcome to help yourself."

Amanda gets up quickly, because free coffee is free coffee. Carisi moves to join, but Barba tisks.

"Not you, Carisi."

Amanda chuckles at Carisi's eye roll. All she can do is laugh at them sometimes. It's been like this for months, the snarky comments--more snarky than usual, if Barba can even manage--plus the eye rolls, the scoffs, the glares. She often wonders how long this will go on, whatever it is between them that's going on.

There was a 'whatever' a long time ago between them, when 'whatever' was puppy dog eyes, brushing touches, blushing, soft spoken sarcastic comments dipped with actual admiration.

Now the 'whatever' is much more hostile, and Carisi won't come out and say it, but she assumes someone broke up with someone else. Now, Barba could just be the asshole who dumps you and then humiliates you daily, or he was dumped and this is his way of showing he's hurt.

Amanda privately thinks it's the latter; Barba is hurt.

She wonders why Carisi would dump Barba. Carisi loves Barba, has always loved Barba. Maybe Barba didn't reciprocate? Who knows? All she can do is sit back and watch the show.

They--Amanda and Barba, because Carisi is still pouting in the corner--discuss their case notes and witness statements, the evidence and everything involved. It looks pretty solid, they did great work.

Carisi finally speaks up a while later. "What if we--"

Amanda and Barba look at him shocked. She holds her breath. Come on, Carisi, say something!

"Never mind," he mutters.

Barba stands up straight and looks at Carisi expectantly. "No, continue," he says.

Amanda still doesn't breathe as Carisi gives his two cents.

Barba leans over the desk again and mumbles, "No."

Amanda's about to tell Barba to cut him some slack, but Carisi explodes.

"Why did you even ask me to continue, then? And are you ever going to listen to anything I say?"

"Sure, when you finally say something relevant to me."

"How about you're an asshole? Is that relevant enough?"

Amanda keeps her mouth shut, she doesn't even let a squeak out when Carisi humorously storms out of Barba's office. It's like something out of a very dramatic movie.

Barba scowls at the papers spread out in front of him, his face red with what Rollins can only assume is anger. She'd be pissed too, if she was in his position. But she understands why Carisi is mad, too.

"Way to go," she says, sarcastically.

Barba's gaze flicks up to meet hers. "What, do you have a problem with me, too? Loyalty to your partner?" he asks.

"I have a problem with both of you. Y'all are acting like children."

Barba just glares at her.

"Why can't you just kiss and make up? Make it easier for all of us."

Barba huffs. "What makes you think that's the problem?"

"Oh come on, you're going through a classic breakup. Just tell each other you love each other."

Barba freezes. Like 'love' has never occurred to him. Maybe it was the 'each other' that never occurred to him.

"Y'all never said that, did you?" Amanda asks.

"You are a detective for a reason."

Amanda chuckles. "Well, you need to--"

"There obviously isn't anything there, Rollins," Barba says. "When one breaks off the relationship--"

"What, you think Sonny doesn't love you? Barba, he's been crazy for you since day one. He probably dumped you because he doesn't think you feel the same way. I don't blame him either, after how easy it's been for you to go back to being a complete dick to him."

Barba looks at her. She didn't mean to say that, exactly.

"Sorry," she apologizes.

Barba sighs. "Look, it's over. I apologize for being unprofessional, but--"

"Listen," Amanda says, gathering her things. "He probably didn't want to get hurt. He was probably protecting himself. Be real with him."

Barba watches her head for the door.

"I better go find him," she says. "I'll give him the same little pep-talk. I'll tell him you love him, too."

"I didn't say--"

Amanda grins. "Yes, you did."

Thing are normal a week later. Now Barba's snark is met with a grin or a wink. 'Whatever' it is that's going on between them is back. 

 

Chapter Text

Sonny's phone vibrates wildly right next to his venti coffee. He almost doesn't look up from his textbook, so transfixed in the piece of information he's taking in, but his concentration eventually snaps and curiosity gets the better of him. He needs a distraction anyway.

It's a text, but he knew that already.

(Unknown Number): Hey, this is Rafael from last night.

Sonny recounts the previous evening. Nope; early night after work, half a beer while studying, and early to bed for his exam this morning. He may not have even eaten dinner, he definitely didn't give his number to anyone named Rafael.

He replies: Uh, I don't think I met anyone named Rafael last night.

(Unknown Number): From Farley's. James, right?

Sonny laughs out loud. Poor "Rafael" was given a number and it clearly didn't belong to "James". He knows Farley's, though. It's a bar near campus that's usually only occupied by students, so at least Rafael is probably close to his age and not a creepy dude trying to connect with someone via text.

Sonny replies: My dude, I think you got fake numbered.

Sonny doesn't get a reply for a while, so he gets back to reading, even though he's distracted. Poor Rafael. He's been fake numbered before, hell he's given his fair share of fake numbers, but he's never connected to a real person on the other side.

Finally, there's a reply.

(Unknown Number): You sure this isn't James?

Sonny laughs again. What kind of question is that? Of course he's sure.

Sonny turns the camera on his phone and turns it to the front-facing-camera setting. His elbow planted on the table and his face laying in his hand, he smirks into the camera and attaches it to a reply.

"I'm not James, I'm Sonny," he says with the photo.

Sonny is so tired from midterms, the photo shows dark circles under his eyes and redness around his pupils. There's a small coffee stain on his t-shirt, his hair isn't even done; all in all, Sonny is a mess. The photo isn't much to look at. It's not like it'd go on his Instagram or anything.

Still, he gets a reply. It's a returned selfie of a very cute young man with glowing brown skin, green eyes, perfectly swept hair, and a pale pink tie paired with a white shirt. Sonny can't resist a man in a tie, or a man that pretty.

(Unknown Number): Do you want to meet instead, then?

Sonny isn't even offended to be a replacement. He needs a distraction, and Rafael is very, very cute. Even though the thought runs through his head to wonder why "James" fake numbered Rafael, he sends the reply:

"I'm at the Starbucks on 3rd. If you happen to come in in the next hour, I would not be opposed to letting you sit at my table."

Rafael sends back a cute little smiley face, and Sonny waits in anticipation for the cute stranger to walk through the coffee shop door.

Chapter Text

Rafael's vacation was going swimmingly, no pun intended, considering he was at the beach. For four weeks, he was stuck up in a villa overlooking the Caribbean Sea of Puerto Rico. For four weeks, he didn't have to think about opening statements, or witness statements, or evidence, or victims; for four weeks, his attention was focused on the sound of the ocean, the scent of the salt, the heat on his skin, and a bottomless glass of piña coladas.

And...the ridiculously hot beachside bar owner.

His face was like the ocean, bright and mesmerizing, with eyes like the sea surrounded by a white foam tide. His skin was tan as sand, smooth and soft, and his hair was golden as if kissed by the sun, with streaks of noticing gray like the seashells that wash up on the shore. His accent was terrible, but familiar, from one of the neighboring Burroughs, but his gorgeous smile more than made up for it.

Rafael could not look away from him if he tried. And tried he did. It wasn't his fault the man waltzed around with his surfing wetsuit unzipped to his waist to reveal the perfect 'v' at his hips, taut arms, and two dips in his chest.

Rafael made friends with a hotel employee quickly, because they were both Cuban and Latinos flock together when they can. Jorge showed him around the area, introduced him to more friends, and eventually led him to the beach cantina everyone raved about, including the cute owner.

Jorge told Rafael that his name was Sonny, he ran away from the NYPD after a shootout with a suspect that resulted in the two holes in his chest and getting his gun taken for the other man's death. Was he a hero, or was he a killer? Jorge said Sonny asked himself that every day.

Rafael really liked Sonny, really quickly. He was too beautiful, and Rafael was too much of a sucker for big dimples and blue eyes.

One morning, Rafael decided to hit the beach before other guests flooded the sand, and he was treated to the sight of Sonny dragging his surfboard out of the water while unzipping his wetsuit and shaking water from his hair. Rafael honestly drooled, especially when Sonny beamed at him and dropped onto the sand next to him. They only moved when Sonny announced he needed to open the bar--two non-stop talking hours later--so Rafael helped, just wanting to be near Sonny.

With short weeks left in his stay, Rafael made a move. He had Sonny laying next to him on a large blanket, the warm sand under them and the bright moon above them.

He asked Sonny why he ran away from New York. Sonny repeated everything Rafael had heard from Jorge, except it was more intimate coming from Sonny's lips. It was more heartfelt, this story of a man's struggle to both live and come to terms with what he did. He healed, grew as a person, grew closer to God, and needed to get out. So he hopped on a plane and landed in Puerto Rico, where he bought the bar after working at the hotel, and has lived happily ever since.

Sonny stroked Rafael's hair.

Rafael's index and middle fingertips found the scars on Sonny's chest.

Rafael asked if Sonny would ever consider returning to New York.

Sonny asked if Rafael would ever consider relocating to Puerto Rico.

The only thing they could agree on was the here and now:

Here, on the beach, in the middle of the night, the only two people in the world.

Now, skin on skin, lips on lips, legs tangled, blanket wrinkled, definitely a dozen laws broken.

Rafael had never felt more satisfaction or pleasure than on that beach with the man he'd known for a fifteen days.

For thirteen more days, they were inseparable. Sonny was in Rafael's villa the entire time, making up for the first two weeks of not touching since the moment they laid eyes on each other. Sonny put somebody else in charge of the bar and only went down one morning for a bottle of champagne and orange juice. When he returned, he told Rafael that he was teased relentlessly from the other bar patrons who have grown to know Rafael.

Sonny reassured Rafael that he never did this, never hooked up with the hotel guests. Rafael told him he hasn't had random hookups since Harvard Law. Sonny told him he had just finished Fordham Law when he was shot. Rafael fell for him a little more.

Rafael finally kissed Sonny goodbye and left. It was hard, one of the hardest things he'd ever had to do, but his reality was calling. The reality that was court and New York, a cup of coffee to wake him up every morning instead of the sexy bartender's morning special, a walk down noisy streets instead of a walk on the beach.

Not a day went by that Rafael didn't think about the man he'd met and left behind. But he chalked it up to what it was: a chance meeting, a short lived love story, a once in a lifetime opportunity that he took.

Two lonely years went by. Rafael had given up finding "the one" a long time ago.

Pretty much the moment he stepped off the plane at JFK.

In a perfect world, Sonny would have followed him. Sonny would have returned to the NYPD, or maybe joined the DA's office. Hell, he could've opened a bar. Sonny would have moved right in, Sonny would have slept in his bed, Sonny would have completed him.

But he didn't, and Rafael forgot how to open his heart to love.

And then one morning, Benson called him to come meet the new detective on the team. Rafael went, even though he didn't really care, but Liv included lunch in the trip so it was worth it.

The elevator doors opened.

Rafael stepped out.

Rafael heard the deep accent he'd grown to love over just a couple of weeks, the voice he hadn't heard for two years but would never forget.

Rafael's heart stopped completely before it began to beat faster, excitedly, for the first time in nearly two years.

Rafael heard his name being called, Rollins calling him over to meet The New Guy, but he was stuck, trapped inside the memory of that voice calling out his name and moaning in his ear.

That voice confessing love, just once, before the sun woke up, while tangled in white, fluffy sheets and each other.

The memory of the best four weeks of his life, with the best person he's ever met.

Rafael finally gathered the strength to move his feet, so he shuffled over to where the other detectives were surrounding a less tan, more grey haired version of the man he left on the beach. But boy, how his smile still brightened everything it touched.

When Sonny's eye finally caught Rafael, his smile diminished into a shocked expression. Rafael swore he could hear Sonny's heart stop, too.

Someone asked if they'd met before. Rafael couldn't hear it, because Sonny was walking towards him. Sonny was crowding into him. Sonny was saying hello, and grinning so sweetly that Rafael thought he was going to die right there. No time had passed. It was as though Rafael stepped off the plane yesterday and Sonny simply met him in New York.

Rafael couldn't think of anything to say, he didn't know where to start. To tell Sonny how badly he had been missed, to tell Sonny how much he is loved after all this time?

He settled for asking Sonny to dinner, tonight, a proper date. Their first official date, the first of many, the first of an entire lifetime.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Rafael perches himself on the side of the bathtub. He impatiently rubs at his face, picks at his nails, as he waits for Olivia to freakin' pick up already.

"This had better be good," she says, sounding sleepy. It's 5 A.M. on Sunday, but Rafael couldn't wait.

"I did something stupid."

"Oh god," Olivia mutters. "How stupid?"

"So stupid that I'm sitting in his bathroom."

"You spent the night? My god, must be love."

"It's n--" Rafael sighs. "What do I do?"

"Who did you do?" she asks.

"Let's not do this--"

"Come on, tell me who it is and I'll call with a...with a work related emergency."

"That's not...really going to work."

"Why n--" Olivia pauses dramatically, putting two and two together. "No. You slept with--"

"Please don't say it out loud."

Olivia bursts into laughter. "How did this happen?!"

Rafael stands to pace, but stops to look through the medicine cabinet instead. "I don't know! We were just...there was alcohol, and--"

"There was consent, right?"

"Yes, of course. On both parts. And then I fell asleep, and now I'm stuck in his bathroom."

Olivia laughs as Rafael puts the medicines back where he found them and moves to dig through the cabinet under the sink.

"Will you please help me?"

"Well, it's not like I can call him with a work related emergency."

The knock on the door that makes Rafael jump. He slowly unlocks the door to face a sleep-tousled Sonny Carisi.

"Hey, do you mind if I piss? I couldn't wait for you to finish freakin' out."

Rafael watches his bedmate walk over to the toilet to pee, making him chuckle into the phone.

"What's happening?" Olivia asks.

"He's peeing."

The toilet flushes and Rafael steps out of the way of the sink.

But Carisi crowds in to Rafael, wrapping his arms around Rafael's waist and kissing his cheek.

"Hi, Liv," Carisi says into the phone.

"Tell Carisi I said hi."

"She says hi," Rafael relays.

Carisi moves to wash his face. "Hey," he says, toweling off the water, "When you're done flippin' out, I'll make you breakfast." When he finishes, he steps around Rafael again, placing a quick kiss on his head. "Don't be too long."

"It's not that big of a deal," Olivia says to snap Rafael out of watching Sonny's ass walk through his bedroom.

"Really?"

"It was bound to happen."

"He has to testify for me tomorrow."

"So like your usual foreplay."

Rafael rolls his eyes.

Olivia continues, "Do you like him?"

Rafael bites his lip. "I think I do."

"Then go have breakfast."

Rafael takes a deep breath. "Okay."

"Okay," Olivia repeats, sounding amused. "Hey Barba?"

"Yeah?"

"How was it?"

Rafael scoffs. "None of your business."

"Hey, you called me."

"And now in hanging up. See you later."

Olivia laughs as she says goodbye. Rafael fixes his bed head in the mirror, then leaves the bathroom to join Sonny for breakfast. 

 

Chapter Text

Rafael practically runs into the restaurant he is late to. He is never late, ever, on principal, and now he is late to an important lunch.

"I'm sorry," he says, finally getting to his reserved table. "Lo siento, había tráfico--"

The woman across from him rolls her beautiful brown eyes. "Blame the traffic, sure, I know how long it takes you to do your hair." She stands and pulls him in for a kiss on the cheek.

"Sol," he greets, breathing her in, her sweet, familiar scent. "I'm sorry. How are you?"

Solana Miguel Lopez, one of Rafael's closest friends, the first friend he made at Harvard, the one friend he kept after graduating, and possibly his first love, gives him one more loving squeeze before letting him go. Rafael sits across from her.

"How is Lucia?" Sol asks, because she always asks Rafael about his mother first.

"She is great, I'll be sure to tell her you asked."

"I have been meaning to call her. I wanted to ask her for a recipe."

"She doesn't share her recipes with me," Rafael mutters.

"That is because she likes me more than she likes you."

Rafael chuckles. It is true. His mother loves Sol so much.

Rafael reads his menu for about a minute before remembering Sol had something to tell him, that's why she called him for lunch. They don't meet often, they don't even talk often, but she's his best friend.

"What did you need to tell me?" Rafael asks.

Sol lifts her left hand to place under her chin. "Oh, nothing."

Rafael eyes her. "Then why did you--"

The big, sparkly ring on her finger catches his eye in the light. It wasn't there last time he saw her.

"Dios mio," he mutters, reaching across the table.

Sol breaks into a wide smile, the one that makes her eyes crinkle and her cheekbones pop out. "Sal asked me to marry him!"

Salvador Cervantes is Sol's, now, fiancé. Rafael does not love the guy, but he makes Sol happy.

"When?!" Rafael asks.

"Last night! We went ice skating at the Rock and he got down on one knee, which was hilarious trying to help him stand up again, but...oh, Rafi, it was so sweet. So romantic."

Rafael lets her hand go. "Amazing," Rafael says. "Beautiful. Congratulations."

Sol continues smiling. Rafael can't help but smile at her, with her.

"I have one thing to ask," Sol says. "Will you be my best man?"

Rafael begins to laugh. "Your what?"

"My best man! We've been planning weddings since college, you know me the best, you're my best friend. Please say yes."

"You know, traditionally women don't have a--"

"Okay, you can be my maid of honor if you'd rather--"

"No, best man is fine. But what about your sisters?" Rafael asks. "Aren't they going to be upset? You've always planned on them--"

"Joderlos, it's my wedding."

"Is Sal going to have a best man, too?"

Sol's smile finally begins to fade. "Uhm...yes."

Rafael eyes her suspiciously. "Why are you--"

"Well..."

Realization dawns on Rafael. Sal is going to ask him. The friend, his best friend, and if there's anything worse than Sal, it's his late twenties, frat-boy, athletic-type best friend.

"No," is all Rafael can say. "He's going to ruin my wedding!"

Sol laughs. "Your wedding?"

"I've been planning this wedding since college. I'm on the Pinterest board!"

Sol laughs harder. "He won't. It'll be you and I, I'm not even hiring a planner. Okay? Trust me, he'll be on his best behavior."

Rafael sighs. "Fine. For you, I will...deal."

Sol smiles. "That's all I ask."

Rafael concedes by taking a sip of his water.

"You know, they always say the maid of honor and the best man hook up--"

"Don't even start," Rafael warns.

Sol laughs. "Bring a date then."

"Okay, mom."

Sol can't give a sarcastic reply before the waiter arrives for them to order.


Sol wants to get a start on wedding dress shopping before any other detail of the wedding is set, even before the engagement party, and of course Rafael is ecstatic. He clears his schedule for the Friday that Sol sets the appointment, and on the scheduled day, he excitedly meets Sol at the shop.

He is not surprised to meet Sol's mother there, but he is surprised to meet Sal and his best man, too.

Rafael's nostrils flare at the sight of him. Dominick Carisi, who Rafael refuses to call Sonny, the up-and-coming cop who is so annoying that Rafael hates being near him for more than five minutes a visit.

"Be nice," Sol whispers, squeezing his arm.

Rafael puts on a fake smile. "Mrs. Lopez, a pleasure, as usual. You look beautiful."

Sol's mother replies--in Spanish--how excited she is that Rafael is at Sol's side, as he always has been, and how happy she is that he is at Sal's side. Mrs. Lopez pats both of their cheeks delicately before following Sol into the shop.

Rafael doesn't make it through the doors before Carisi speaks to him.

"So, me 'n' you, huh, Rafi?"

Rafael glares at him. "Don't call me that." He tries to push past Carisi, but the other man stops him.

"Hey, I just wanna tell you, whatever you need, I'm your guy. Sal's my best friend, I wanna do right for him, 'kay? Anything you need."

"I need to get into the building."

Carisi steps to the side to let Rafael in, and Rafael rushes through without holding the door for him. He hears Carisi snicker behind him.

Sal and Carisi go upstairs in the shop to pick out their suits, but the dress shopping takes place on the main floor. They meet a personal shopper, who shows them around in the types of dresses Sol has in mind, then Rafael and Mrs. Lopez sit in some chairs to wait for Sol to model for them.

Sol tries on ten dresses, none of them are very good. Rafael does not grow bored or impatient, because his attention is solely focused on making his friend as happy as she can be, but it appears the groom and his best man grow bored, because Carisi waltzes in to the appointment when Sol disappears to try Dress #11.

"Good god, how long's this supposed to take?" Carisi asks, flopping into a chair next to Rafael.

"It's the most important dress she will ever wear. Have some respect."

Carisi chuckles. "We chose our suits, like, an hour ago."

"I don't know what to tell you, Carisi."

Carisi stays blessedly quiet as Sol makes her way out of the dressing room. She's wearing a beautiful gown with lace sleeves and a long, flowing skirt. She looks radiant, the most beautiful Rafael has ever seen her.

Mrs. Lopez immediately begins to cry, which makes Sol cry.

"Oh! What do you think?" Sol asks towards Rafael.

"It's gorgeous!" Carisi says first.

Rafael glares at him. "She was asking me."

"Well, you tell her then! Don't know how it'll sway her decision. This has to be it!"

Sol's eyes fill with tears. "Will it look okay with Sal's suit?" she asks Carisi.

"Yes, perfectly."

"Okay," Sol says, nodding excitedly. "This is it!"

They wait for a while longer for Sol to get it marked up for alterations, then everyone exits the shop together. Rafael hadn't checked his phone in a while, so as soon as he's out on the street, he checks it. He has a few missed calls from work, but Sol is asking him to lunch.

Rafael tries, "I really should--"

"Come on, Rafi!" Carisi says. "Don't leave me with the love birds here."

Rafael frowns, chooses not to correct the name Carisi called him, but agrees to lunch because of the pleading way Sol is waiting for his answer. Carisi pats Rafael's shoulder, like it was his influence that made Rafael say yes, then the small party goes to lunch.


 

The next phase of wedding planning is finding the venue, which Sol and Sal find on their own. The third phase is an engagement party, which Rafael volunteers to host.

Unfortunately, Sol asks Carisi to help him.

"You know, as our best men!" she claimed when she asked Rafael to let him help. "Put him in charge of alcohol or something!"

"I'm not letting him bring beer into my home."

Sol just told Rafael to let him help in some way because Carisi really wanted to help, so a few weeks later, Carisi is at his apartment bright and early to help.

"Tell me what to do, boss."

Rafael sighs. "Uh, fine. Go get the cake."

"Cake? Done. Where?"

"The bakery on the corner."

"Okay. What should the cake look like?"

Rafael stares at him. "What?"

"Like, what am I looking for when I check to make sure it's the right cake?"

"It's strawberry."

"Okay. So if I look at it and it's the wrong cake, what do you want me to do?"

With an increasing level of annoyance, Rafael sighs. "If it's the wrong cake, ask yourself what a grown man would do about it."

"So I should eat it on the sidewalk."

"Are you trying to make me hate you?" Rafael asks.

Carisi's face cracks into a slow grin.

"Get out," Rafael says, then shoos Carisi out of the apartment.

The cake is fine, Carisi has it delivered in no time at all. Next, Rafael gives him the task of arranging small decorations while Rafael sets up the caterer and sets out the alcohol. He is anxious, and apparently very obviously, because at one point he turns around and Carisi is holding a glass out for him.

"What's that?" Rafael asks, eyeing it.

"Scotch. You seem anxious."

"Anxious? Of course I'm anxious, my best friend's engagement party is taking place here in less than an hour."

Carisi chuckles. "Hey, I'm about to be the only white guy in a room full of Latinos. That'll make ya sweat."

Rafael tries not to laugh at that, so he takes the offered glass and downs it.

"Ya gotta relax, Rafi--"

"Don't--"

"It'll be fine. It'll be fun! This place looks great, the food looks fantastic, and that cake!"

"You didn't make it, Carisi."

"I know, but I did the hard part by carrying it up six flights."

"This building has an elevator."

"I know, but aren't you impressed I carried that thing up six flights?"

Rafael rolls his eyes as Carisi grins. Before their conversation can continue, the doorbell rings. Rafael opens the door to find one of Sol's sisters who wanted to help set up, and who clearly likes Carisi a lot, so Rafael finally has the man out of his hair to freak out privately.

Of course the party is a huge success, everyone compliments Rafael's hosting skills, and everyone comments on what a great team he and Carisi make. Carisi smiles proudly while Rafael rolls his eyes at the taller man.


Rafael thankfully does not have to spend too much time with Carisi doing various other wedding plans. Carisi and Sal work on their own plans while Rafael and Sol take on other tasks, but everything works out splendidly.

Next is the cake. Sol prefers a classic vanilla, whereas Sal wants a little bit of flavor, and Rafael is going to the tasting to be the swing vote. Just the three of them, no Carisi.

Of course, Rafael should have known a wedding planning event without Carisi was too good to be true.

An hour until he is supposed to meet the couple at the restaurant, Sol calls.

"Rafi? Hey, I need a huge favor."

Rafael sighs. "What?"

"I'm still at the office and Sal's got an emergency with his Abuela. I need you to meet--"

"Don't say it--"

"Come on, Rafi, please? Sal says he doesn't care what kind of cake you choose and neither do I. Just pick something good. Please?"

"Can't I go alone?"

"No, the stupid restaurant needs the couple."

"We're not a couple!"

"Please!"

Rafael groans. "Fine. You owe me."

"You get to eat all the cake you want with a handsome man, Rafi. Don't act like you don't like cake and handsome men."

"Can I pick a different man?"

Sol laughs. "Okay, before I hang up, there's something else I need."

"Dios mio, what?" he asks, as if he's going to say no to anything else she possibly needs.

"Can you go fill out our registry tomorrow?"

"That I can do."

"I'll send you a list of what I want on it."

"Perfect."

"And Sonny's going tomorrow too, love you, bye!" Sol hangs up before Rafael can argue with her.

Rafael arrives at the cake tasting before Carisi, but the damn bakery won't even seat him until Carisi arrives. Once he does, they're seated and the staff fawns all over them.

A wide array of cake slices are set out in front of them, along with a checklist to mark their choices.

"Where do you want to start, sweetie?" Carisi asks.

"Call me that again, I'll kill you."

Carisi grins.

They eat their cake and make pleasant conversation about it, that is until an employee walks by to check on them, and Carisi touches Rafael in some way or calls him a pet name.

"You like the strawberry one, honey? Oh, we're just fine, thank you!" Carisi says.

"Babe, how's the lavender? Can we get some water, thanks!" he asks.

"My love here loves the chocolate, don't you, sweet pea?"

Rafael glares at him each time he uses a name or tries to grab Rafael's hand. Rafael is so close to stabbing him with a fork.

They finish each of the cakes and go through their notes, and surprisingly they agree on the lemon cake with elegant white vanilla frosting.

"Let me feed you this last bite," Carisi tries as he's finishing the last of his samples.

"Try it and I'll--"

"I know, I know. Gotta say, Rafi, you got a lot of aggression."

Rafael can't possibly glare any harder as he gets up to make their order.

The next day goes much of the same way, except Carisi now tries to sabotage the registry list by adding ridiculously unnecessary items. Every few isles, Rafael checks their list online to make sure Carisi didn't add anything stupid behind his back.

"Carisi!" Rafael cries. "What the hell do they need a cat shaped succulent vase for?"

"A cat shaped succulent!"

Rafael rolls his eyes and removes the item, just as he had almost a dozen items since arriving.

"They don't need this...or this...or...Carisi, really? Glasses that say, 'Mr. Right' and 'Mrs. Always Right'?"

"Come on, those are funny!"

Rafael removes them from the list as Carisi wanders into the next isle unattended.

The registry gets done, after Rafael triple checks the list to make sure Carisi didn't sneak anything dumb onto the list. They walk out of the store and Carisi pats his belly like a caveman.

"I am starving," he says. "You hungry? Wanna grab a bite?"

"A bite? No."

"A meal, then? Come on, Barba, you can't hate me forever."

"Watch me."

Carisi laughs. "Alright, fine. I guess I'll see you later then."

Rafael leaves Carisi in the street, and he doesn't care if he's hurt the other man's feelings.


 

With a month left until the wedding, Rafael and Carisi are given the task of invitations. They are to put them together, put the addresses on them, and mail them.

Rafael decides that if he needs to be with Carisi, he'd rather it be at his house. So he invites Carisi over, and he is surprised to open the door to Carisi dressed sharp and holding a bottle of wine.

Rafael lets him in. Carisi hands him the wine and Rafael is surprised to see it's actually a good bottle.

And Carisi looks...pretty nice. Handsome, in fact. The deep blue tie makes his eyes pop, and the black suit makes his pale skin glow. Rafael...kind of likes it.

Rafael tells him. "You look nice."

Carisi chuckles. "Don't have to sound so shocked. I was out at my mom's for church, didn't have time to go home to change."

"But you had time to stop for wine?"

"That was no big deal, there's a drive-thru liquor store on the way."

He's grinning, but Rafael can't tell if he's joking, so he says nothing. Wine is wine.

Rafael gets glasses while Carisi makes himself comfortable. He takes off his jacket and loosens his tie, digs in to the couch and scoots around until he's comfortable. Not unlike a dog.

"Tell me you're at least house broken," Rafael comments as he hands Carisi a glass.

Carisi laughs. "Alright, tell me what to do, boss."

They have a great system going, Rafael stuffing the envelopes, Carisi sealing and putting the address stickers on. During the process, they finish their first glass of wine, then the second, then Rafael brings out a bottle of whiskey and pours each of them ample amounts.

"Better not get whiskey on the invitations, Sol will kill us."

Rafael agrees and blinks hard because everything is starting to get a little blurry.

"So you said you were at church?" Rafael asks, "What are you?"

"Come on, I'm Italian. I'm Catholic, born and raised."

"Oh, hey, me too."

It's the first thing Rafael's ever found they have in common, besides their choice of friends.

"No shit? That's neat." Carisi is looking at him sweetly, like he realized this is their first similarity, too.

"Sure, I guess."

"You're a lawyer, huh?"

Rafael nods.

"Sol tell you I'm in classes at Fordham?"

Rafael says, "Oh lord. I'll be sure to alert the bar association." But in reality, he's swooning just a little bit at Carisi's intelligence that he's never seen.

Carisi laughs. "Yeah, I know. It kinda just happened. My dad's a cop, Grandpa's a cop, and as the only boy, my dad kinda expected me to be a cop. Not that I don't love it, I do, but I always wanted somethin' else, y'know?"

"Sure," Rafael says.

"Why'd you become a lawyer?"

Rafael shrugs. "I don't know. It was always my dream. Getting into Harvard was a dream come true, so of course I had to finish it."

"That's where you met Sol, right?"

"Yeah. We were in a class together and became friends."

"You lived together, huh?"

Rafael nods. "Yeah, actually."

Carisi takes a swig of his whiskey, downing the glass. Rafael refills it, then drinks his own, because the buzz is so pleasant that he doesn't want it to stop. Talking to Carisi isn't the worst thing that's ever happened, and he wants to keep that mood going.

"Was it hard livin' with her because you're in love with her?"

Rafael chokes on a sip, buzz sufficiently killed. "What?!"

"Oh come on, dude."

"Don't call me dude."

Carisi frowns slightly. "It's alright, man. Your secret's safe with me."

Rafael glares at him. "I'm not in love with Sol. She's my best fr--"

"Yeah, yeah, I know. But maybe you were. I don't know, you have that look."

"What look?"

"The look like nothing she can ever do would upset you."

"Well, she's my friend."

"Alright, fine."

Rafael grows offended. "You think you have me all figured out, don't you?"

Carisi shrugs. "I mean, I know you were in love with Sol, but you're not straight."

Rafael grows hot. He is bisexual, but it's not like it's advertised. "What...what makes you--"

"Sol mentioned a guy once. I thought you were gay, but I don't think you are."

"You're drunk," Rafael states.

"I am. Hey, I don't mean to make you uncomfortable, I just want to tell you--"

Carisi can't finish the thought because the doorbell rings. Rafael is thankful, so he rushes to the door to throw it open. Sol is bright and smiling on the other side, and Rafael schools his emotions to not smile happily at the sight of her.

"Wow, what the hell? It smells like a distillery in here!" Sol waves a hand in front of her nose and steps into the apartment.

Carisi stands to greet her like a gentleman, then offers her a drink of Rafael's whiskey.

"No, no, I just stopped for a second to see what kind of progress you've made. And I see you're...drunk instead."

Carisi keeps smiling, and Rafael stands awkwardly in the corner.

"I brought wine. Rafi had whiskey."

Sol looks pleased anyway. "I'm so thankful, you guys, seriously. Look at the great team you make."

Rafael crosses his arms and glares as Carisi grins proudly.

Sol doesn't seem to notice--or doesn't care about--Rafael's glare, because she just checks her watch and announces she needs to go.

"I'll see you tomorrow, okay? Thank you," she kisses Carisi's cheek, then steps over to Rafael. "Thank you, I love you." She kisses his cheek, even though Rafael makes no move to say goodbye to her.

Rafael spots Carisi watching from over Sol's shoulder. He lifts an eyebrow, but stays blessedly quiet as Sol hugs Rafael, whispering to him to be nice. Then, she leaves, allowing the two men to continue working.

Rafael decides to work quietly, because he doesn't want to keep talking about what they had been talking about. He doesn't want to talk about himself, or Sol, or even about Carisi. He just wants to get done, call Carisi a cab, and get him out of here.

Carisi complies, because he quietly sips the whiskey and presses the address stickers onto the envelopes.

They finish in no time, and Carisi stands to put his suit jacket on.

"Let me call you a cab," Rafael offers.

"No, thanks. I'm meeting some friends at a bar just a few blocks down. Hey, want to come?"

"Something tells me you and I have very different tastes in bars."

Carisi smirks. "Hey, I wouldn't be too sure."

Rafael doesn't want to know what he means. "Thanks for the invitation, but no."

"Alright, I'll see ya soon, then."

Rafael politely opens the door for Carisi, but does not watch to make sure he safely gets to the elevator before he shuts the door for the night. He lets Carisi go while feeling a bit disappointed by the way the evening turned out with him. It was pleasant, Carisi was cute, and he left after a long stretch of no conversation. Oh well, Rafael thinks. It was a short lived feeling.


 

The final task before the wedding are the bachelor and bachelorette parties. Sol told Rafael he didn't need to do the party for her, that her sisters were glad to step in if he wanted to hang out with the men, but he reassured her that he's in this wedding for her, so he will plan her party.

He doesn't really know what she wants, but he makes a reservation at a fancy restaurant, then plans on maybe doing a little bar hopping before setting Sol's sisters in their hotel room and taking her to his apartment to sleep, like she wanted for the night before her wedding.

"Pretty sure you're not supposed to sleep with another guy the night before your wedding," Carisi had joked, but Rafael punched him in the shoulder before he said it to Sol.

Rafael and Sol are about to leave his apartment to meet the rest of the party at the restaurant when his phone rings. It's Carisi.

"Hello?" he answers, patience already low just from seeing the man's name on his screen.

"Hey, Rafi! Tonight's the big night, huh?"

"Sure. What do you want?"

"I just wanna know what you guys are doing so we don't happen to run into each other or anything."

"We're on our way to dinner. And then maybe we'll hit a few tasteful bars."

"Dinner? Oh, that's boring. Don't know what I expected from you, though."

"Why, what are you guys doing?"

"You know, dinner, strip club--"

"What?! You can't take him to a strip club, what the hell is wrong with you?"

"Come on! It's his last night of freedom!"

"That is such a straight man's mentality."

Carisi is quiet for a second, and Rafael actual thinks he hung up, but then he practically whispers, "What makes you think--"

Rafael cuts him off because Sol walks in to the room. "Hey, are you aware Carisi is taking Sal to a strip club?"

Sol laughs. "Yes, duh. It's a bachelor party."

"Take Sol and the girls to a strip club," Carisi says in his ear. "They have clubs where men dance."

Rafael pulls the phone away again. "Carisi suggests I take you to one--"

Sol lights up with excitement. "Oh, Rafi, can we?! That would be so fun!"

Rafael frowns. "What?"

"It's my last night, too! If I want some hot, sweaty, twenty-something grinding all over me, that's what I deserve!"

Rafael sighs. "Thanks a lot," he says to Carisi.

Carisi laughs. "Have fun. Don't forget the singles."

Rafael hangs up and watches Sol apply her lipstick in his entryway mirror. Ever since his drunken conversation with Carisi about his friend, it's been harder for Rafael to not watch her, to not think about how he felt about her all those years ago, to not think about the pang of disappointment he felt when she started getting serious with Sal. She was always kind of the thought in the back of his mind, his "What if?" and recently it's becoming increasingly clearer that she is no longer that to him any more.

Maybe he is just lonely. Carisi started looking good that night, too. He is lonely.

They have a pleasant dinner, the one Rafael reserved, then Sol announces that Carisi gave them the idea to go to a strip club, and the four other women with them cheer. There's a club not too far away from Rafael's, so he takes them back to his apartment so they can freshen up.

Rafael watches the women invade his bathroom to get ready, and Rafael just sits patiently while they get ready.

And then they drag him out to the club, which was not his idea, but he's glad to make his friend happy.

Rafael tells one of the women behind the bar that it's his friend's bachelorette party, and then the attention is on them quickly. It's Friday night, so the place is pretty well packed, but the men on stage pay attention to their party.

Rafael just sits back and watches as pretty men dance for his friends, wanting no part in this evening besides the alcohol. And the alcohol is good, it's great, because it's making him forget about tomorrow's events and instead making him focus on the beauty of the men on the stage. He remembers having pretty men, back when he was younger. He could still get pretty men.

Rafael's phone vibrates. He fishes it out of his pocket and reads the text.

Speaking of pretty men, Carisi wants to know how their evening is going. Rafael replies saying it's fine, all the women are drunk at a strip club. Carisi sends back a laughing-face emoji, which Rafael rolls his eyes at. He stuffs his phone back into his pocket and resumes enjoying the party.

Finally, the women are partied out, and the one most sober sister catches a cab to take the four guests to the hotel. Rafael gets a cab to take Sol the few blocks to his apartment, then holds her up in the elevator.

"I don't wanna sleep yet Rafi," she pleads as he lays her delicately on his bed, still in her dress.

"You have to." Rafael struggles to get her feet to still to take off her shoes.

"No, I don't want to! When I wake up, I'll be getting married!"

"But that's what you want," he reminds her. "You said yes. You--"

"I know! I want to marry him. I do. He's nice. Men are nice, aren't they?"

Rafael is about to agree when the doorbell rings. It's way after midnight, so Rafael assumes it's a member of the wedding. He tucks Sol in and instructs her to stay in his bed.

Rafael rushes to the door when the bell sounds again, and is extremely surprised to see Carisi leaning against the wall outside his door.

"Rafi! I found you!"

"Carisi? What're you--"

Carisi stinks like a lot of alcohol, and he's drooping all over the place.

"I couldn't get a cab, so I came here."

"What? How far away--"

Carisi flops on the couch and scratches at his crotch. Rafael rolls his eyes.

"Let me get you some water, okay? Stay there."

Carisi grins. "You wanna take care of me, Rafi?"

Rafael ignores that, instead going to the kitchen for that water.

When he returns, Carisi is passed out on his couch. Rafael frowns, but he's glad the they man is at least safe, so he sets the water down, removes Carisi's shoes, and grabs him a blanket from the closet.

He spreads it around Carisi, tucking it around him like a cocoon. He takes a moment to admire how sweet the other man looks when he's not being annoying, even though it's pretty annoying that he just showed up. Rafael's about to stroke Carisi's hair out of his eyes when he hears Sol laughing.

"That's fucking adorable," she says.

Rafael tries to pull her back to his room, but she doesn't budge.

"You like him, don't you? I knew you would!"

"I don't. Come on, lets go to sleep."

"I'm not moving until you admit it."

"What are we, twelve?" Rafael sighs, because Sol won't remember this tomorrow anyway. And Carisi is asleep, so what's the worry? "Fine, okay? He's not that bad."

Sol grins. "You like him."

Rafael rolls his eyes and manages to get Sol to move.

By the time he's changed, Sol is fast asleep. Rafael just slides into the bed on the other side of her and falls asleep.


 

Apart from taking care of a hungover bride and hungover best man first thing in the morning, the day starts fantastic. He pumps them full of water, Gatorade, Tylenol, and gets them both to the hotel where the wedding will be. They're right on time, then they part so Carisi can get ready with the groomsmen.

"Don't wanna kiss him goodbye?" Sol teases.

"Shut up," Rafael replies.

Sol looks fantastic in her dress, which was expected. Her makeup is flawless, as are the rest of the bridesmaids, and they tell Rafael that he looks great in his light gray suit.

They go downstairs for pictures, which are fun, because the women just try to make Rafael laugh the whole time. He takes pictures alone with Sol, which are adorable, and remind him a lot of their time together in college.

The wedding is beautiful. Everything is perfect, Carisi doesn't say anything stupid to drive Rafael crazy. They walk happily down the isle together, and at the end Sol winks at Rafael.

Rafael makes sure everything goes great during the reception, then finally sits down to eat. He's seated next to Carisi, who has already eaten. Carisi politely gets up to get Rafael a drink.

"That's nice of you, thank you."

"Least I can do for you taking care of me last night. Thanks, by the way. For not letting me, like, die in the street."

"Of course. Sal would have been upset."

Carisi laughs. "So, you know, traditionally, best man and maid of honor share a formal dance when the happy couple do."

"Good thing this wedding doesn't have a maid of honor. She'd be forced to dance with you."

Carisi smirks. "Come on, Rafi. Dance with me."

"Why would I? You don't...really want to--"

"What makes you assume I don't? I'll dance with ya."

"I don't need a pity dance because I'm dateless, okay? And where's your date, anyway?"

Carisi pauses for long seconds. He takes a sip of his drink, swishes it around the glass, then downs the rest of it.

"He couldn't make it," Carisi simply says.

It takes far too long for Rafael to register what Carisi just said.

Did Carisi say he? Should Rafael ask if he said he?

Rafael slowly turns his head to look at Carisi. Carisi's face is a shallow shade of red.

"Tried to tell ya," Carisi says. "Couple times."

Rafael frowns. "I apologize."

"Nah, don't worry about it. I should've just kissed you when I wanted to."

That makes Rafael's heart beat faster. "Oh?" he casually asks. "And when was that?"

"Uhm...when did we go cake tasting?"

Rafael looks at him. "Why didn't you say anything?"

"I said I tried. Every time I got close, you cut me off. And I did ask you out, by the way."

Realization dawns on Rafael. "You asked if I wanted to get 'a bite'."

"Hey, that's romance to me. Anyway, forget all that, okay? Dance with me."

Rafael's plate is finished, the DJ starts a slow song, so Rafael can't think of any other excuse. Plus, he really wants to hold Carisi close.

"Okay," Rafael agrees.

Carisi looks shocked. He scrambles out of his seat, straightens up his clothes, then holds his hand out for Rafael.

Rafael takes it, holds Carisi's hand for the first time, and lets the other man drag him onto the dance floor.


 

"I'm really glad this worked out," Sol sarcastically says. "I'm glad you guys can come over for brunch on Sundays."

"I didn't say we couldn't go out," Rafael comments, staring at the back of his boyfriend's head, because Sonny and Sal are sitting on the coffee table in front of the television watching a football game.

"We could kick them out, or we can go watch television in my bedroom."

They haven't even eaten. Rafael suggests they go eat at the cafe down the street.

They get up from the couch, and immediately Sonny turns around.

"Where're you going?" he asks pleadingly.

"My god, that's adorable," Sol comments. "Babe, we're going to eat."

Sal just mutters out a, "'Kay."

But Sonny stands and goes to Rafael.

"Do you want me to go?" he asks. "I mean...I can...if you want--"

"No, stay. Hang out with Sal. We'll bring you something to eat."

"Okay," Sonny agrees, then takes hold of Rafael's face and plants a long, slow kiss on his lips.

Sol scoffs. "And I got a, 'kay'."

Rafael grins against Sonny's lips as Sonny tries to pull him closer.

"Okay, okay, lover boy, lets go." Sol grabs Rafael's hand.

Sonny gives him another smacking kiss before letting him go.

"Love you," Sonny says just to Rafael.

Rafael, still getting used to this after almost a year, kisses his cheek and says, "I love you, too."

Sol drags Rafael out of her apartment.

"Now you're glad he was Sal's best man?"

"Well, yeah, now I am."

"You're welcome," Sol says, then they board the elevator to go to brunch.