Sonny’s head is pillowed on his arms. The ring stares back at him, sparkling in it’s black velvet box. The ring’s band is silver, two thin royal blue lines etched on either side of a line of diamonds that run around the center of the ring. It’s just the right amount of extravagant Sonny knows Barba will appreciate.
Next month is their two year anniversary. Sonny doesn't plan on proposing. He hadn't even really planned on buying the damn ring. He went into a store looking to buy a watch for Barba’s birthday and left with the ring box burning a hole in his pocket.
He loves Barba, Barba loves him, and he wants to spend his life with him. But they've talked about marriage once, over a year ago, and Sonny isn't even sure he's ready to be married. They only moved in together a few months ago. They're still getting used to having someone always in their space.
Sonny sighs, lifting the ring out of the box. It's shiny and beautiful, and Sonny knows it'll look amazing on Barba’s hand. Sonny twirls the ring between his fingers. He knows when he does decide to propose, he'll be thrilled to see the ring on Barba’s finger.
He hopes Barba will be just as thrilled to wear the ring.
He should've bought a fucking watch.
Sonny places the ring back in the box before snapping the lid shut. He should find a good hiding spot before Barba gets home. But there isn't really a place in the apartment that Barba doesn't go.
Sonny thinks it's a good sign that their lives are linked so much.
When Barba gets home, Sonny’s just found a hiding spot he doesn't think Barba will look. Sonny hears the door open, Barba calling out a hello, as he’s dropping the box in the pocket of his dress uniform.
“Hey, Rafi,” he calls as he zips the garment bag up. He hopes he doesn't have a reason to wear the uniform any time soon. Maybe he can hide the ring for months without worrying Barba might stumble across it.
He steps out of the closet just as Barba appears in the doorway of the bedroom. He smiles when he sees his partner is already worming his way out of his suit. His jacket’s tossed on the bad, tie being loosened. “How was your day?” Sonny asks.
“Long,” is the response. Barba gives him a look as he slides his suspenders off his shoulders. “Where'd you go?”
Because Sonny’s in jeans and a t-shirt when he rarely changes out of sweats while at home. It was an off day today. Sonny didn't tell him of any plans. No reason for Sonny to be dressed. Sonny shrugs. “Went to pick up some things for dinner,” he says, which isn't a lie. On the way home, he stopped and bought ingredients because he tends to stress cook. When he really fucks up.
Buying an engagement ring led to him cooking enough food to feed the entire squad for two days.
“I'm starving,” Barba says, unbuttoning his shirt.
Sonny wants to stay and watch. He wants to plop down on the bed, rest against the headboard, and watch as Barba loses his clothes. He's done it before. He loves watching it. He loves trying to convince Barba to just ditch clothes all together and climb into bed naked with Sonny.
Any other day Sonny would absolutely try to coax Barba into bed. But he’s still reeling from buying a fucking ring , and he doesn’t think he’d be good company right now, too lost in his own thoughts. Barba would get suspicious if Sonny didn’t ramble about nothing.
“I’ll heat something up for you,” Sonny says instead, stepping closer to Barba. He leans down, gives him a soft kiss, and slips around him, out of the bedroom. He’s aware Barba’s watching him as he walks away. Barba always watches him walk away. It never fails to make him feel warm and happy at the thought, that Barba’s content enough to keep doing it even when he knows Sonny knows.
Sonny really loves this man.
Sonny can’t stop thinking about the ring. It’s always there, in the back of his mind. Barba’s birthday and their anniversary come and go. Sonny briefly considers proposing on both occasions before telling himself he’s an idiot and gives Barba something else. But it doesn’t stop. Sonny’s always thinking about the perfect moment. He has moments when he thinks I could do it right now . But something always stops him--his own cowardice or a ruined moment.
Sometimes, when Barba’s out of the apartment, Sonny will find himself staring at the ring, trying to convince himself he should just do it. He should find a moment when Barba’s happy and relaxed and just ask .
But that’s easier said than done. Every time he’s with Barba, he opens his mouth, but the words refuse to come out. His heart is telling him to dig the ring out of its hiding spot and drop to one knee right there in their living room, but his mind keeps filtering through every possible scenario, good and bad, and Sonny gets scared all over again. He’s terrified Barba will say no, that he isn’t in this for marriage, as stupid as that idea is, and Sonny doesn’t think he could stand that kind of rejection. He doesn’t want to lose this , lose Barba.
It doesn't help that Sonny tries to compensate by buying Barba things. Nothing major, just food or coffee or a tie, but Sonny buys something every time he aborts a proposal. He's gonna go broke long before he actually proposes.
Barba’s suspicious. Of course he is. At first, when Sonny just brings him coffee or lunch at his office, he kisses Sonny absently and returns to work, not questioning it. But when Sonny buys him a bottle of his favorite scotch and then a new tie a week later, he narrows his eyes and asks, “Is there something you want to tell me?”
Sonny blinks at him. “What? You don't like it?” Barba’s holding a nice black tie with blue and red stripes. Sonny thought he'd love it.
Barba sighs. “It's not the tie,” he says, laying said tie down on the coffee table. “I meant you buying me things. It's almost like you're trying to apologize for something. And if you are, I'd like to know now.”
“I'm not apologizing.” Well, he is, but it's not like he can tell Barba that.
“If I find out from someone else, the fallout’s gonna be worse for you.”
Sonny rolls his eyes, sliding closer to Barba, throwing an arm across his stomach. He smacks a kiss to Barba’s cheek, smiling at the look on Barba’s face. “I promise I have no ulterior motives. Can’t I spoil you?”
“On your salary? Hardly.”
Sonny laughs, burying his face against Barba’s shoulder. “I love you, Rafi,” he mumbles, kissing his shoulder. He knows Barba isn’t going to drop this. He just hopes for now he can live with the thought of Sonny spoiling him. Just until Sonny can actually tell him why he’s buying all the gifts.
Barba huffs, but he’s wrapping an arm around Sonny, hugging him closer. “I like the tie,” he says, “but if you buy me another apology gift, I’m throwing out all your shit.”
“Have you seen your clothes? I’d be doing the world a service.”
“Says the man wearing my shirt.” Early on Barba commandeered one of Sonny’s t-shirts (just an old, faded NYPD shirt), and Sonny loves seeing him wear it too much to even think about taking it back.
“One day you’re gonna come home and have a whole new wardrobe.”
Sonny doesn’t doubt it. Barba’s spent quite a bit of their relationship buying him nicer clothes, trying to replace all of Sonny’s “unfortunate” suits. Sonny hasn’t complained. He wouldn’t complain if he came home to find his entire closet replaced with nicer clothes because Barba loves seeing Sonny wearing the clothes he buys. It almost always leads to clothes coming off.
“As long as you’re happy,” Sonny tells him, pressing a soft kiss to Barba’s neck. That’s all Sonny wants. “Hey, Rafi, wanna open the scotch? I could really use a drink right now.”
For their two year anniversary, Sonny managed to get two tickets to the Broadway show Barba’s been talking about for months. Sonny’s idea of fun isn’t going to watch a musical, but Barba loves them and rarely has the time to actually go see one, so Sonny’s willing to sacrifice his evening to see his partner enjoying himself.
Even seeing the way Barba lit up when he saw the tickets made it worth it.
Sonny’s already dressed in his tux, playing on his phone while he waits, when Barba asks him to grab his shoes from the closet. Barba’s still half dressed, only because he ran late in court and had to rush home. They’ve got plenty of time, but it’s never a safe bet in New York.
“Yeah, sure,” Sonny says, his heart swelling when he sees the smile Barba gives him. He puts his phone in his pocket as he heads to the closet. He’s reaching for the shoes when he can’t help but glance over at the garment bag in the back of the closet. And suddenly the idea is there, and he can’t not do it. He peeks in the bedroom, but Barba’s not paying him any attention, focused instead on getting ready, so Sonny slides to the back of the closet and carefully unzips the bag. He keeps glancing up at the door while he digs the ring from the uniform’s pocket. He takes the ring out, replaces the box, and zips the bag back up.
He drops the ring in his pocket as he exits the closet, waving Barba’s shoes. “Got ‘em,” he says.
Barba looks great. He’s smiling, he’s relaxed, and Sonny knows tonight’s the night. Sonny can already just picture it. He’s excited.
Sonny keeps his hand in his pocket, wrapped around ring, almost the entire night. Not only because he’s afraid to lose it, but also because he’s afraid if he lets it go, he’ll lose his nerve. When they’re sitting, he rests his hand above his pocket, thumb tracing the outline of the ring in his pocket, holding Barba’s hand with his other hand.
After, when they’re walking, hands linked between them, Sonny keeps thinking about how perfect this is. The night is nice, they’re both dressed up in tuxes, Barba’s delighted, and Sonny is just so head over heels for this man. He just wants to be with this man for the rest of his life.
“I’m glad you enjoyed it,” Sonny says when Barba finally trails off. He squeezes his hand, smiling at him.
Barba bumps into Sonny playfully.
It’s late, there aren’t that many people around, and Sonny’s fingers curl around the ring. Okay. He can do this. He can stop right here, after a perfect night, and pull out the ring and ask Barba to marry him.
Sonny stops suddenly, spinning to face Barba, who looks startled. “You know I love you, right?”
Barba gives him a confused look. “Yes? I love you, too.”
Good, okay. That’s what he needs to hear right now. He takes a deep breath. “You look sexy.” That's...not at all what he wanted to say. It's true, but even he's confused as to where that came from.
“Are we stating the obvious? It’s dark out, we were walking.”
Sonny chuckles nervously. “No, yeah, I mean you’re sexy all the time, but this right now, in this tux.” He shakes his head. “Damn, Rafi.”
“You know, if you hadn’t stopped walking, we’d be closer to home right now where you could get me out of this tux.” He’s smirking, tugging at Sonny’s lapels, and he’s so confident, stretching up to kiss the corner of Sonny’s mouth, an arm sliding around his waist.
Sonny lets Barba kiss him for a bit, holding onto his waist, until Barba tries to sidle closer, and Sonny remembers why they stopped, what he’s trying to do. He pulls away. “Wait, there was a point to this.”
Barba hums, tries to kiss him again, and Sonny takes a step back. “Rafi, wait.”
Sighing, Barba lets Sonny go, shoving his hands in his pocket. “Fine. What’s the point behind telling me I’m sexy?”
Okay. He’s gonna do this. He’s actually gonna propose. He’s barely even moved when his phone vibrates. It’s Liv. Sometimes he really hates his job. He sighs. “Hold on.”
Barba looks amused.
Sonny answers the phone, already praying he won’t have to leave now and already accepting the fact that he’s about to leave Barba to go deal with a case. And sure enough Liv tells him what’s up and where to go. He hangs up, disappointed, and turns to Barba.
Barba waves him off before Sonny even opens his mouth. “You have to go, I know.” He kisses Sonny quickly. “Tonight was great, mi amor. Thank you.” He kisses him again.
Sonny doesn’t want to go. “Let me get you a cab.”
“No, I can walk.”
“Rafi. I’m not letting you walk home alone.” He really doesn’t want to leave Barba yet. He wants to go home with him, give him the fucking ring. He doesn’t want to deal with a fucking case right now. “Please.”
Barba studies his face for a moment before sighing. “If Liv yells at me, I’m blaming you.”
“I can live with that.”
When Barba’s in a cab, after yet another kiss, Sonny grabs himself a cab. On the way to the crime scene, he takes the ring out, twirling it between his fingers. Damn it. Tonight was perfect. Tonight was supposed to be perfect. Now, his would be fiancé is going home alone while he goes to deal with a case. He really hates his job sometimes.
Rollins is the one who notices his bad mood. They’re at the precinct, Sonny changed into the extra suit he keeps in his locker (for emergencies, which Barba killing him for ruining his tux is absolutely an emergency), and he’s been quiet, too busy thinking about how wrong tonight went to pay much attention to the case.
“Upset date night got ruined?” she teases, nudging him playfully.
He gives her a look. “Date night was fine,” he grumbles.
“What’s the deal? Did you two have a fight or something?”
“No. We’re fine. Perfectly happy.” And he must sound angry or bitter because she gives him a look like he’s crazy. He doesn’t care though. He wasn’t supposed to still have the ring. It was supposed to be on Barba’s finger, they were supposed to be having celebratory sex, he was supposed to be engaged tonight. He’s allowed to be pissed.
It's better than feeling scared and guilty. This way he won't feel the need to buy Barba an apology gift.
Bella and Gina don't like the ring. Well, that's not fair. They like it, but both think it's a bit too feminine with the diamonds running around the center. They agree that it's a beautiful ring though.
Teresa is still shocked that Sonny is going to get married. She’s having a bit of crisis that her younger siblings will be married before her.
He hadn't meant to tell them. Gina and Teresa can't keep their mouths shut (by the end of the day, every Carisi relative--and some who aren't relatives--will know Sonny’s going to get engaged). But he'd been sitting there, having lunch with all three of his sisters, and he just...blurted it out. He hasn't seen or really talked to them since Thanksgiving (it's May now; he called on Christmas but didn't go home). He was too excited about seeing his sisters to even think about the consequences.
It's not their fault he hasn't seen them in almost six months. Sonny told his family about being bi years ago, when he was in his twenties, and his parents...they didn't really understand it. They ignored it, never talked about it. His sisters went along with it, never wanting to rock the boat. His parents held onto the hope that Sonny would find a nice Catholic girl to marry.
When Sonny went home for Thanksgiving, and told them about Barba, that he was in love with this man, his parents flipped. There was a huge screaming match between them. His sisters sided with him, but the evening still resulted in Sonny storming out of the house after telling his parents that they could either get used to him having a male partner or he could get used to not having him around.
He hasn't spoken to them since November. They haven't tried to talk to him either.
Not the best situation. And since Gina and Teresa still live on Staten Island, near their parents, he hasn't seen them either, too angry to even play with the thought of running into his parents.
He does feel guilty about it. They went to bat for him. Bella’s told him all about the things they said in his defense. She told him she doesn't think there will be a peaceful Carisi function until things get fixed.
Sonny loves his sisters. He thinks that's why he couldn't help himself in telling them about the proposal.
“Can we help plan the wedding?” Gina asks. She hasn't listened to Sonny’s protests that he's not even engaged yet.
Sonny wonders if she’s trying to push her dream wedding on one of them, and, since Bella’s already married and didn't really take Gina’s suggestions, he's now the default. “I’m sure his mother will want to help, too.”
He knows, for a fact, that Lucia Barba would kill them both if she didn't get to help with something. She's told him enough times now (along with not so subtle hints that she wants to see her baby married “ before I grow old and die”).
“Does his mom...approve?” Teresa asks hesitantly, looking anywhere but him.
“Yeah,” he says after a moment. “She does.”
According to Barba, she wasn't too happy when he told her he was bi, also when he was in his twenties, but she's grown a lot, Barba says. She just wants her son to be happy, with a man or woman, and she approves of Sonny. She even made sure to personally invite him to Christmas at her home when Barba told her Sonny wasn't going home.
Sonny got really lucky with her. He loves Barba’s mother, thinks she's great, and he knows she'll be a great mother-in-law.
“Well, you have to let me know the second you get engaged,” Gina says. “I’ll need at least six months notice to find a dress.”
He rolls his eyes. “You'll be the first to know.”
She huffs. “At least tell me before these two. I am your favorite sister.”
He has never said that in his life. He would never choose a favorite. He doesn't have a fucking death wish.
He chooses to leave the comment alone. Instead he says, “I was going to propose two weeks ago. Got a case before I could, but I was going to.” He looks down at the ring in his hand before closing the box. “I don't know when I'll get another chance.”
“You're a romantic,” Teresa says. “You'll find one.” She brightens, clapping her hands. “We can help!”
“No,” he says quickly. “Hell no. I don’t want you three anywhere near this.”
Bella gives him a knowing look. “How long have you had the ring again?”
“Okay, we’re done. I’m kicking all three of you out. Good-bye. Get out.”
All three of the girls leave talking over each other, offering ideas for both the proposal and the wedding, and Sonny feels this sense of relief wash over him as soon as the door is shut. He’s relieved they’re gone. He’s relieved they’re supporting him.
He smiles to himself. He promises they’re gonna be the first to know after he proposes (all three in a group chat because he does not have a favorite sister, thank you very much).
The ring sits, unused, for months. Sonny’s so occupied with work he doesn’t even think about it all that often anymore. He’s tired and worn down, so is Barba, and he’s just so focused on right now that he doesn’t even think about proposing. It’s not the right time, he keeps telling himself, and the next thing he knows, five months have passed, it’s October, and he’s had the ring for almost a year.
Sonny, when he realizes this little fact, promptly freaks out. He calls Bella in a panic, talking about how he’s a huge fucking coward and is gonna die before he asks Barba to marry him and he’s never gonna find the right time so maybe he shouldn’t even bother trying to propose because Barba’s just gonna say no anywhere, and Bella actually comes over to his apartment to slap some sense into him.
When he’s done freaking out, he decides it’s now or never. He’s already had the ring an embarrassing amount of time. It’s probably collecting dust in its box. He wants to be engaged before an entire year passes (if only so Barba can’t make fun of him). He wants to be married to Barba. By next year at the latest.
He doesn’t want to propose in public. He doesn’t want to propose in some public setting surrounded by a crowd of strangers. He knows Barba wouldn’t appreciate it either. But he also doesn’t want to make the proposal seem less special than it is. He doesn’t want to ask Barba to marry him over paperwork in his office or at home. Which, with as much as they work, doesn’t leave much downtime for themselves. Which doesn’t leave much time for Sonny to propose.
Sonny makes dinner most of the time. Barba can cook, the basics really, but he doesn’t enjoy it as much as Sonny does. He loves eating food more than he does making it. So they’re both completely fine with Sonny making dinner for them.
So it works in his favor that Barba doesn’t find anything wrong with Sonny texting him to let him know he’s cooking dinner tonight. Sonny plans on making Barba’s favorite meal (lechon con moros y maduros; Lucia gave him the recipe after Barba complained about never getting the meal) and maybe possibly make it a bit more romantic with candles, wine, the whole date night thing.
He’s excited. It’s super cheesy, almost as cliche as putting the ring in the dessert, but he knows it’s gonna be great. Barba deserves to be spoiled with cheesy dinners and at-home-dates. Sonny can’t wait to see his face when he sees everything.
Sonny’s still dressed in his suit, tie and jacket off, and he’s just dishing out the food when Barba comes in. He doesn’t look happy. He looks pissed off. Sonny hesitates, not wanting to make his mood worse, but then he says, “I made dinner.”
Barba doesn’t look at him. “I’m not hungry,” he mumbles. “I’m just...I’m gonna go shower and go to bed. You eat, though.” He doesn’t once look in Sonny’s direction, distracted by something, and he wanders off to the bedroom.
Sonny is frozen to the spot. Okay. A slight hitch. He can handle this. He can just move the dinner to tomorrow. Not a big deal.
He puts all the food in the fridge, puts away all the glasses and silverware, and follows Barba to the bedroom. The shower’s running already. Sonny sits on the bed.
When Barba comes out, in a t-shirt and boxers, he looks startled to see Sonny there. “It's early,” he says. “You don't have to come to bed, cariño.”
Sonny shrugs. He watches Barba crawl into bed.
“Just a bad day,” Barba says once he's settled, giving Sonny a tired look. “I don't wanna talk about it.”
Sonny leans over to kiss him. “I'm here,” he mumbles. He squeezes Barba’s wrist.
“I love you, Sonny.”
Sonny smiles. “I love you, Rafi.” He kisses him again. “Go to sleep. I'll be in the living room if you need me.”
Barba hums, already turning onto his side, back to Sonny.
Sonny sighs, getting up. He changes real quick before sneaking out of the room. He closes the door behind him. This is fine. He’s waited this long. What's one more day?
Sonny wakes up to Barba sliding an arm across his stomach and pressing a kiss to his shoulder. Barba whispers his name. When he turns his head, trying to blink away the sleep, Barba’s giving him a fond expression.
“I fucked last night up, didn't I?” he says.
That wakes Sonny up. He turns fully to face him, brow furrowed. “It was just dinner, Rafi. You didn't fuck anything up.”
Barba snorts. “I saw, cariño. The candles, the wine. You made my favorite food.”
“Just thought it'd be nice.”
“You were gonna propose, weren't you?”
That throws Sonny because what the fuck? There's no way Barba could’ve known. There’s no way Barba should know about it. “What?”
Barba’s smiling at him. “I've been waiting for you to ask me. I found the ring months ago.”
Sonny sits up enough to hit a laughing Barba with a pillow. He’s chuckling too despite himself. “Why didn't you say anything?”
“I didn't want to push you. I figured you'd ask when you were ready. Last night was it, right?”
“Yeah. Last night was the second attempt.”
Sonny blushes, looking down at the sheets. “Um, do you remember when we went to see that play? For our anniversary?”
Barba bolts upright. “Really? That night?”
“It was gonna be perfect,” Sonny gushes. “You looked so handsome-”
“I recall you saying sexy.”
“-and you were so happy. I held on to the ring all night in case I chickened out. I've almost done it a few times since, but I just...You deserve the world, Rafi. I wanted it to be special.”
Barba wraps his arms around Sonny, pressing his nose to Sonny’s cheek. “It would've been special no matter what you did.” He kisses Sonny’s cheek. “Aren't you gonna ask?” he whispers.
Sonny gives him a confused look. “Now? Right here?”
Barba’s smile is the one he gives when he's humoring people. The one where he's thinking about how stupid they are, but he's too professional to tell them. “Yes, mi amor. Right now. Unless you don't want to.”
Sonny jumps out of bed, rushing to the closet, grinning stupidly. He pulls out the black box and turns around. He hesitates by the bed for a second before walking around to Barba’s side, going down on one knee by the side of the bed. “No, don’t give me that look. I’m doing this my way.”
“By all means.”
He takes a deep breath. “You know I lo--”
“Yes, yes, I know. Ask me, Sonny. I want my ring.”
“I said I’m doing this my way.”
“Your way is slow.”
“Fine.” He takes hold of Barba’s hand, sliding the ring onto his finger as he asks, “Will you marry me, Rafael Barba?”
“Hm, I don’t know. Convince me.”
“You’re an asshole, and I’m taking the ring back.” He doesn’t even finish the sentence before Barba’s yanking his hand back.
“Yes, cabrón, I’ll marry you.”
“I know what that word means, Rafi. You’re not--”
Barba swoops down, pressing a firm kiss to his lips. He’s smiling when he pulls away, glancing down at the ring. “It’s a beautiful ring. Who picked it out?”
Sonny tackles Barba to the bed, kissing him to shut him up.
(While Barba calls him mom later, Sonny sends a text to all three sisters, to which all three respond by trying to call him.)
Sonny wants to tell the team. He wants to tell everybody , but Barba thinks it’d be more fun to see which so-called detective figures it out first. And Sonny agrees, because Barba’s happy, even though he makes no promises to keep his mouth shut.
Fin figures it out first. Well, he points out the ring first.
It’s two days later, they’re working a case, and when Barba comes in to hear the details, Fin takes note of “the serious bling, Counselor.”
Barba doesn’t blink or look at the ring. “Thank you.”
Liv, looking confused, glances down at his hand. Her face changes from confused to shocked in seconds. She grabs his hand, studying the ring. “Is this what I think it is?”
“What do you think it is?”
“Fin, go get Carisi.”
Fin nods, slipping out of the office. When Carisi appears a moment later, he takes one look at Barba and breaks out into a grin. Rollins and Fin are in the doorway behind him, both trying to peer around him.
“I hear congratulations are in order,” Liv says. She smiles softly at them. “I’m happy for you both.”
Sonny yelps, turning to glare at Rollins.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” she demands, shoving past him. Fin follows, and then both of them are looking at the ring. “Wow, this is beautiful. Did you pick it out, Counselor?”
Barba laughs while Sonny sputters. “Why does nobody trust me?” Sonny asks. “ I picked it out. By myself.”
“Congrats, Carisi,” Fin says, clapping him on the shoulder.
Sonny’s smiling dopily. “Thanks.”
“We’re going to celebrate, right?” Rollins asks, glancing between Barba and Sonny. “Drinks? Or dinner.”
“That would be nice, Detective,” Barba says. “Now, why don’t you get me something I can use against this guy? Call me when you do.” He nods at Liv before he goes to leave, patting Sonny’s arm as he goes.
And Sonny can’t help himself. He watches Barba walk away because that’s him. That’s the man he’s gonna marry. That man’s gonna be his husband. He’s gonna marry the love of his life.
“You’re drooling,” Rollins comments, knocking into him as she passes. But she’s smiling over her shoulder as she goes, and Sonny’s just. He’s just so happy right now. He doesn’t know how he got so lucky to have not only a great man but great friends to support him.
“Back to work, Carisi,” Liv reminds him, sounding fond and amused.