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While Sonny was Sleeping

Chapter Text

Beep. Beep. Beep.

A steady, screeching sound was the first thing Sonny was aware of as he became conscious. He groaned at the annoying repetitive sound.

“Omg. Is he awake?”

“Thank the Lord!”

“Sonny?”

“Call for the doctor!”

Sonny recognized the voices of his family right away. Why were they watching him sleep? Creepers. Did he fall asleep at Ma’s? He opened his eyes and saw a white ceiling. Well, Ma’s ceiling was not white, she loved vibrant colors, like a good Italian.

He felt his head slip forward from his pillow. Sonny was sitting upright, which seemed like an odd position to him. He liked to sleep on his side, curled up in a big fluffy comforter. When he focused on the room in front of him he felt his stomach lurch. He was in a hospital room, laying in a hospital bed, and wearing a hospital gown.

Sonny turned to his right and saw Bella sitting next to his bed. She was holding his right hand firmly. There was a large hand on Bella’s shoulder. He followed the hand and discovered it was Tommy, her on again/off again boyfriend, standing behind his sister, offering her support. Both had tears in their eyes.

Next to Tommy stood Gina and Theresa. Theresa’s arms were crossed, and despite her closed off stance Sonny could tell she was relieved. Why she was relieved Sonny couldn’t quite say. He was alive so that was something. Gina looked the roughest of his sisters. Her face was red and she had obviously been sobbing. The puffiness around her eyes sent his mind racing. Just how long had he been unconscious?

Sonny winced when he turned his head, feeling a rush of pain in the back of his head. His father was standing on the other side of his bed and placed his hand on Sonny’s upper arm after he winced. Sonny and his father had always been close and he could see a weary, tired expression on his face. Although Sonny couldn’t recall why he was in the hospital he did regret causing his family any pain. His police career was a relatively smooth one with minimal injuries and only a few close calls.

Next to his father, his mother was seated beside his bed. She was holding his hand and the hand of the person sitting at the end of his bed. His mother didn’t look quite as distressed as the rest of his family. An eternal optimist, Mama Carisi, Sonny assumed she was the force holding the family together while he was unconscious, for however long that was.

Suddenly, he felt a wave of confusion over the person who was holding his mother’s hand. The man was sitting on the hospital bed, his bed and Sonny had no clue who he was. The man was dressed in an expensive tailored suit, he was quite attractive with dark hair and gorgeous eyes. He wasn’t a doctor and his pocket square indicated to Sonny that he was maybe a broker or lawyer. Well, only a lawyer would be pretentious enough to wear a pocket square in a hospital room. Could Gina or Theresa have brought their boyfriend to Sonny’s hospital room? He couldn’t recall them mentioning anyone, especially someone who would be close enough to feel comfortable holding his Ma’s hand.

“Detective Carisi, glad to have you back with us” a doctor exclaimed as he entered the room. The doctor made his way past the stranger, his mother and father. Taking the spot his father had previously occupied and doctor began to check his pulse and ask him questions about how he was feeling. He took a small light from his white coat and shined it in Sonny’s eyes. He was talking but Sonny could only concentrate on the man at the end of his bed. He looked older, maybe in his mid-40s. Although his outfit was perfectly assembled his face look distraught. He had dark bags under his eyes indicating he had lost sleep over Sonny.

“Wait, what?” Sonny exclaimed when he realized he wasn’t paying attention to the important bits.

“The mugger who attacked your fiancé pushed you onto the tracks when you tried to intervene. You were knocked unconscious by the fall. If your fiancé hadn’t jumped on the tracks- “

“Woah, woah, hold it right there. Fiancé?” Sonny tried to remember the incident the doctor was referring but he couldn’t remember it or who he was going to marry. He realized that beyond his family, there was nothing. Where did he work last? Queens? Brooklyn? Staten Island? What the heck was going on? “She jumped on the train tracks?” he asked.

Sonny knew instantly he said something wrong. His family’s eyebrows all raised in perfect synchronization except for Tommy, whose jaw dropped. The doctor suddenly was shining the light in his eyes again almost frantically.

“Hey! Hey! I’m awake!” he exclaimed.

The doctor backed away from the bed. He sighed like Sonny was a small child or a fool. Maybe he was a fool.

Sonny rolled his eyes, “So my fiancé saved my life. What I am confused about is this guy?” Sonny pointed to the stranger, who was now gripping his mother’s hand for dear life. “Who are you?” he asked. He knew he sounded rude but he was the one in the hospital bed, with a head injury that he didn’t remember getting and apparently, a badass fiancé that saved his life.

Before Sonny lost consciousness again, he noted the hurt look on the man’s face and he heard his Dad exclaim, “Oh My God, he has amnesia!”

Chapter Text

The next timed Sonny regained consciousness it was a few hours later. The only family in the room was his ma. Mama Carisi was lounging in a hospital chair reading some sort of glossy, celebrity magazine. He looked at the spot where the stranger had been sitting earlier and it was empty. Sonny felt his chest tightened with regret. He hadn’t met to hurt the man’s feelings by not remembering who he was. The handsome gentleman was obviously someone important to him to have being waiting with his family.

“He’s sitting in the hallway.” His mother said crisply.

He didn’t ask who she meant as she continued to read her magazine, not even looking up at him while she spoke. “The doctor told us we should introduce you to people you don’t recognize gradually.”

“So my fiancé?”

“I texted your team that you are awake. They should be here shortly.” she answered avoiding his previously question. He couldn’t say he blamed her. His mother had always been so invasive about every single aspect of his life but when it came to romances or crushes she tended to steer clear. He always wondered if she knew about his preferences.

Texted? But when had his mother texted? He could have sworn she had been reading the magazine the whole time he had been awake. And when had his mother learned to text?

“My team?” he inquired. “Ma, where do I work?”

She looked up from her magazine. “Where do you think you work?”

“Ma.” Sonny huffed in annoyance. He closed his eyes and concentrated. He remembered the academy, being a beat cop in his home town, becoming a detective, applying to law school, getting in and attending classes.

“I just started at Queens SVU.” He said confidently. “I was at Brooklyn before that.”

His Ma sighed, “Oh baby, I’m sorry.” She seemed to lose her lightness from earlier in the day and appeared to be weighed down by his answer.

“Was that the wrong ans--”

There was a knock on the door interrupting him. His doctor opened the door slightly, looking completely past Sonny to his mother.

“Mrs. Carisi, can I talk to you for a moment?”

“Of course.” she moved from her hospital chair to Sonny’s bed. She ruffled his hair and placed a kiss on his forehead. Sonny felt about ten years old in that moment. His Ma was babying him and the doctor was ignoring him. Just great.

She exited the room and began a conversation with the doctor. Although he could see her and the doctor through his room’s window, he couldn’t make out what they were saying. While he waited he pondered over his work conversation with his Ma. He was sure Queens SVU was the right answer. He remembers his first day (a rough one), the office, his Captain who treated him like a lost puppy and his co-workers who didn’t seem interested in inviting him out.

He felt miserable there. He didn’t feel much better here. He had so many chords, tubes, and machines hooked up to him. It was scary to think only a few hours before he needed all of this to simply survive.

“Sonny? You have guests.” His Ma announced. He felt slightly betrayed when she opened the door, let in two strangers, and did not follow in behind them. One, was a blonde woman about his age and the other, a black man who could have been anywhere from Sonny’s age to his mother’s age.

“Hey, Cari-Sonny.” the blonde woman smiled. “It’s us, Amanda and Fin.”

Sonny noted her tone was similar to a mother talking to a small child. Well, that was a tone Sonny was quickly adjusting to.

“Hey.” he said hesitantly.

His hesitation must have shown because Amanda’s smile dropped into a frown. “You don’t remember us? At all?”

He shook his head. His eyes were drawn to movement outside his room. He noticed the stranger from his bedside. Sonny expected him to walk into the room and join in but instead he was handed a coffee from his mother and they began to talk.

The older man, Fin, must have followed Sonny’s eyes to the stranger. “Sonny, we, uh, we held onto this for you after the incident.”

Sonny turned his attention to the hand that was outstretched towards him. In Fin’s hand was a ring. He carefully took it and held it up so he could inspect it. It was silver with an inscription which read, “You are my sunshine.” Sonny felt a blush rise in his cheeks as he read it aloud. It felt deeply intimate but he didn’t know why.

Both Fin and Amanda chuckled. “Y’all are pretty corny.” she mummered.

“This is an engagement ring?” He asked. Why would he have an engagement ring? Or was this his fiancé’s? He slipped the ring easily onto his right ring finger and it fit. So definitely his.

“So where do I work?” he inquired. He watched both Amanda and Fin’s surprised faces when he didn’t question them about the ring, why they had it and who gave it to them.

“Manhattan SVU.” Fin quickly supplied.

“Oh.” Sonny remembered his Captain at Queens mentioned an opening. Since he had only been there a few days he figured he would be the last man considered. He didn’t even apply.

“How long?”

“Four, going on five years now.” Amanda stated.

“Whoa.” Sonny’s career as detective that he could recall was a nomadic one. He recalled awkward squad rooms where his co-workers looked at him funny, disregarded his opinions and left Sonny with the paperwork. Four, almost five years. It appeared that he now had a home.

“My little girl wants to know if you’re alright. You are basically an uncle to her. Maybe I could bring her tomorrow.”

Sonny looked at this woman in front of him. They were obviously close. Sonny loved children but to be like an uncle would mean he must have a strong presence in her life. He couldn’t quite imagine being close to a team member. Did they watch TV together? Cook meals? Did her husband mind? Wait, he looked at her hand and saw no wedding ring. So no husband. How close were they?

“J-Jessie.” He stuttered. The name just popped in his head. Amanda’s face lit up. “Wow! Yeah, Jessie! You remember?”

He frowned. No, he truly couldn’t remember what the child looked like, how old she was but he remembered her name. He looked to Fin for help, it felt natural.

“That’s great, Sonny. It will all come back in time, man.” Fin encouraged. His tone was smooth and comforting, like a father. He wondered if Fin was. Did Sonny know his kids? Were they grown or little like Amanda’s girl?

Feeling slightly defeated Sonny looked to the hallway again. He saw the handsome stranger drinking his coffee like he needed it to remain standing. Sonny noticed a gold gleam on his right hand, possibly the glare off a ring.

“Wait, him?” he pointed to the hallway. Amanda and Fin sighed.

“That’s EADA Rafael Barba. He formerly worked exclusively with Special Victim’s Unit as our ADA.” Amanda explained. “He is…”

“Amanda, we are supposed to take it slow.”

“He asked.”

Sonny could barely see through the blinds but he noticed the stranger, Barba, running his hand through his hair. Sonny recalled the distraught expression he had seen when he previously woke up. He closed his eyes and remembered screaming. “Sonny!! SONNY! Oh Dios mio! Help! Somebody please help…”

“Sonny? Sonny?”

He opened his eyes and saw Amanda had moved closer to him. She was sitting on his bed with a hand on his knee. Sonny felt trapped inside his head. He was hesitantly making connections using all the information he had processed today. This man, the EADA of Manhattan was someone special to him. His co-workers knew it, his family knew it and he felt it although he couldn’t remember.

“You ok, sweetie?” her southern drawl made him smile.

“Is that guy, B-Barba, is he my fiancé?”

He looked to the hallway again. This time he made eye contact with the pocket square wearing EADA. He looked like a stranger to him but his heart started beating a mile a minute.

“That feels right.” he declared, turning his attention back to Amanda and Fin. Sonny couldn’t believe it. He was with a man. Well, he could believe it. He had been attracted to men since he started finding women attractive. He never verbalized these crushes. Growing up Catholic he figured he would marry a nice Catholic woman and have four or more kids. He was engaged to a man who his family knew, who was close enough to hold his ma’s hand in times of trouble.

“How long?” Sonny inquired. He needed to know how long he had caused his family and his fiancé pain.

“A week and a couple of days.” Fin answered frankly. “You and Barba were headed to you sister Bella’s place for a Christmas Eve ‘Eve’ party she was throwing.”

Christmas, it was Christmas time? He looked around and saw absolutely so proof that a holiday was near. No decorations or extra lights.

“You missed Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Today is the 1st.” Fin continued. “You vital signs fluctuated which is why the hospital called your family.”

Sonny watched Fin glance out the window at Barba. “They didn’t need to call him. He’s been here every moment they would let him. Even Christmas Day.”

Sonny was overwhelmed. This man, this stranger, who he admittedly thought was handsome, had been there for him while he was unconscious. He had probably held his hand and talked to him. He was probably planning their future for when Sonny would awaken. But when Sonny had woken up, he couldn’t even remember him. How cruel was that?

“Do you want us bring him in and let y’all talk?” Amanda asked cautiously.

“Sure.” Sonny spit out before thinking. Fin reached over to shake his shoulder gently. He told him he hoped he got better soon and informed him the whole precinct was praying for him. Amanda rose from the bed as Fin walked out of the room and began speaking with his mother and his fiancé.

“Uh, Amanda? Could you bring Jessie by tomorrow. Even though I can’t remember her, I want to.” He felt a slight flush of embarrassment as he asked. What if they weren't actually that close? What if she was just being nice when she mentioned his closeness to her daughter?

She smiled at him softly, “Sure, she can tell you what you missed while you were sleeping. You couldn’t wake up before the holidays?” Her teasing tone continued, “Well, you are just gonna have to make it up to her.” Like his mother Amanda leaned over and kissed his forehead.

“Excuse me, Detective?” a voice Sonny could only described as surly spoke. “But could I please have my fiancé for a few minutes?”

Amanda pulled away from Sonny laughing. “Of course.”

Once she left Sonny felt relieved and terrified. He was alone, with a very attractive man, who he was suppose to marry. This was going to be an interesting conversation.

Chapter Text

Meeting his fiancé for the first time was extremely awkward to say the least. Rafael Barba was a block of tension. He barely spoke past their re-introductions and didn’t have much to offer. He listed off everything the doctors had told him, Sonny suspected verbatim. He didn’t recount the events that lead up to Sonny’s hospital visit although Sonny desperately wanted to know. Sonny couldn’t believe he was actually willingly engaged to this man.

Sonny had to stay another night for observation. He had plenty of time to mull over Rafael Barba. It seemed like they had nothing in common. Well, nothing outside of work. Rafael was a lawyer, and Sonny was too according to his fiancé. Apparently he had finished law school and passed the bar but decided to stay a detective at Manhattan SVU. How he could make a choice like that he could barely comprehend. Being a lawyer was his dream. The kind of dream that aches deep within you and you only share with people you trust. He had been so afraid to even apply to law school. When he got into Fordham, he was alone in his apartment, hands shaking as he opened the letter. He cried, he had been so overwhelmed.

In an effort to break the ice, Sonny had asked Rafael where he went to law school. Mistake.

“Well, I didn’t go to the prestigious Fordham Law like you. I went to Harvard.” Rafael smiled, well smirked really, it was first time he wasn’t wearing a frown during their conversation. Sonny did not hide the scowl on his face.

He blurted out, “Are most Harvard grads complete assholes?”

Sonny could have just died then. He normally had a mild temper but he blurted his question out with more anger than he thought he was capable of. Rafael’s smirk was quickly gone and he looked uncomfortable. Sonny expected an apology but one didn’t come.

So being lawyers wasn’t bonding them together.

They were not the same age. Sonny wouldn’t say Rafael was old. But a man in his mid-40’s was on a different track then a guy in his early-30s, except Sonny wasn’t 30 anymore even though he felt that way. Still the age gap was pretty large.

If Sonny was going to marry a man that age they would need to have kids, stat. Kids. Well, Sonny could tell, Rafael didn’t like them. Sonny mentioned Amanda bringing Jesse over to visit him and he swore the man sneered. He sneered. Sonny loved kids and couldn’t imagine being with someone who didn’t feel the same.

Luckily, their conservation was short lived. His ma had interrupted by informing Rafael that the staff couldn’t let him stay overnight now that Sonny was awake. Rafael told his ma that was fine since he needed to get the apartment, their apartment, ready for Sonny to come home. As unpleasant as he found his fiance Sonny was surprised when Rafael took Sonny’s right hand and gave his ring a brief kiss. He almost forgot he had put it on. Sonny blushed from the simple, innocent kiss. Rafael promised Sonny that he would be back tomorrow and they could start refreshing Sonny’s memory. Rafael leaned over his bed. Sonny expected another kiss but he didn’t get it. His heart was racing and his palms felt sweaty. Rafael brought his hand to Sonny’s face. It was a tender movement. He brushed his hand through Sonny’s hair and then along his cheek. Sonny felt Rafael’s ring, it was cool against his skin. Sonny didn’t know what possessed him but he turned his face into Rafael’s warm hand and kissed it gently.

“Uh, I-I’m sorry.” he mummered. He could feel his blush grow past his cheeks to his neck. He glanced at his fiancé and saw a genuine smile on his face. Rafael looked even more handsome with the smile on his face.

“Don’t be sorry.” Rafael leaned in and kissed Sonny on the lips. He started to pull away but Sonny was not going to allow it. He grabbed the back of Rafael’s head and deepened the kiss. God, this is why they were together. In that moment he was sure of them. They had nothing in common, they weren't near the same age but in that kiss, the love he felt, he knew that was worth everything. They parted and Sonny looked into Rafael’s eyes.

“I will see you tomorrow?” Sonny asked, still holding Rafael’s head in his hands.

“Yes, of course. You’re coming home with me tomorrow.”

“Home.” Sonny suddenly felt breathless. His sour feelings from earlier seemed to disappear.

Rafael leaned in to kiss his forehead. “Sleep, mi amor. I will see you tomorrow.”

Rafael left before Sonny could reply.

So here he was, thinking over their brief and awkward interactions. How Sonny had fallen in love with this man? It remained a mystery to him but he couldn’t fight the feeling that it was a real love.

*

The next morning, Sonny had all sorts of nurses fawning over him like he was an injured puppy. They cooed at him and it was wearing thin on his nerves.

“Oh, your husband is the sweetest.”
“He was here most days even during the holidays.”
“A few times he had to go to court, before he came in his suit. His ties are amazing.”
“He sent some clothes for you.”

Sonny chuckled a bit when the nurse had handed him clothes to change into. It was a pair of his police academy sweats, an academy t-shirt and a Harvard Law School sweatshirt. Well, at least he knew who that belonged to. He had enough of the nurses talking about his “husband”. Luckily for him a woman entered his room and the nurses stopped chattering.

“Uh, Ms?” his redheaded nurse started.

“Lieutenant Olivia Benson, Manhattan SVU.” she announced. “I am taking Carisi downstairs to meet up with his fiancé.” she informed the nurses.

 

Thank God for her. The nurses backed off of him and let her drive the wheelchair he was required to go down to the car in. The overly helpful staff carried his things, flowers and plants that had been delivered to his room. They followed close to him and the Lieutenant.

“So, Lieu, you’re at Manhattan SVU.”

“Yes, I am your commanding officer.”

Sonny liked her voice. It was warm and kind but with a slight bite to it. She wasn’t young but when he turned in his wheelchair to get a better look at her, he noted she was extremely beautiful and had great hair.

“So why are you picking me up? Are we close?” Sonny said, living in terror that he was offending every friend he had ever had. He definitely couldn’t believe his commanding officer would take time to care for him. His former commanding officer had never been kind to him.

She chuckled, “Well, we are a pretty tight family at SVU. I’m here because Barba asked me to drive.”

She was close with Rafael. Sonny thought that was odd. Normally, ADA’s were not the most liked person in the squad room.

“Oh, Lieu. Amanda and Jessie wanted to visit me today.” he mentioned.

“Rafael arranged for your family and the team to come over for dinner tonight at your apartment. If that would be ok?”

Sonny didn’t get to answer. He was distracted by the nurses conversation happening behind him.

“Wow, his husband is so sweet.”
“What a doll.”

“You are the driver for the pair of you. I think Barba keeps Uber in business.” Lieutenant Benson continued as they reached the elevator. “You didn’t want to drive the night-”

Before she could she could finish one of the nurses interrupted, “This plant is the one from your husband.”

Another one interjection, “He had the most beautiful flowers sent up but when they died he brought this plant. You have the best husband in the world.”

Sonny could feel embarrassment flushing his cheeks. They were talking about this man as if we were a saint and Sonny could barely tolerate him unless they were kissing. The elevator pinged not a moment too soon and the doors opened to them. Sonny’s room was only a few floors up so the ride would be short. Sonny was pretty amused with all his nurses cramming in with his flowers, potted plants and the box containing his wallet, keys, and clothes from the night of the incident.

The nurses chattered through the elevator ride. Sonny could feel his face burning with anger. He also could tell his boss was annoyed as well by her finger tapping on his wheelchair. At least someone was on his side.

“Your husband-”

“He’s not my husband!” Sonny snapped at the nurse holding the plant. He instantly felt motified, snapping like that in front of his boss. His embarrassment only grew when he realized the elevator doors were opened and Rafael was standing right there. His face clearly showed that he had heard his outburst.

“Fiancé,” Rafael corrected, taking the plant from the nurse. “I’m his fiancé.”

Thankfully, the nurses ceased their chattering as they reached the car. They loaded all the stuff in the truck and his boss went for the drivers seat. One nurse opened the backseat door for him. He was about to climb in when he could hear Rafael very professionally thanking the nurses for all their help and kindness to them. Sonny felt like an absolute jerk being annoyed with these women. They had cared for him when he was unconscious and he couldn’t do anything for himself. Of course, they were excited for him and Rafael.

He spoke up, “Thank you for taking for me and for taking care of my fiancé.” By their expressions he knew he had won them over. His main nurse the redhead helped him into the car. She even buckled his seatbelt for him which Sonny thought was a bit too hands on.

“Take care of him.” she smiled with a wink.

Sonny smiled, “I will.” He said it with a feign confidence.
Rafael got in the backseat with him and his Lieutenant started driving. Where she was taking them he had no idea. He assumed he and Rafael were living together since Rafael had told his mother he needed to get the apartment ready for him. She mother didn’t offer to let him come to the family home or mention if he still had his own place.

“Is the party tonight ok with you?” Rafael asked.

“If it's too much the team can take a raincheck and let you spend some time with your family.” his Lieutenant insisted. “Although Jessie and Noah really miss you.”

“Noah?”

“My son.”

Sonny smiled. He felt a happy warmth in his chest. This team was a family. He was a part of something special.

“I mean, I feel great. Just a little bit tired. What do you think, Rafael?” Although, Sonny could not remember the dynamics of their relationship, he wanted to be respectful of his partners’ wants. He did notice Rafael cringe the tiniest bit and Lieutenant Benson burst out laughing like Sonny had told the best joke ever.

“What? Did I say something wrong? Rafael?”

Benson continued to snicker and looked in the rearview to make eye contact with him. “You only call him Rafael when he’s in trouble. Big trouble.” she explained, “You call him Barba or counselor at work and you call him--”

“Thank you Lieutenant.” Rafael interjected. “He needs time to adjust. I wasn’t going to correct every little thing he does differently from my Sonny.”

Whoa, my Sonny. He was still the same person he just didn’t remember anything. The kiss last night showed him he wanted to remember. He didn’t want this man to write him off as a completely different person.

“I-I don’t know what to call you then.” He sighed.

Rafael took his hand and held it firmly. “Rafi. You like to call me Rafi. It was my childhood nickname. I hate it with a burning passion. But when you say it, it makes me happy.”

Sonny knew this man was a lawyer and had a way with words but dang. He glanced up to the rearview again and saw a fond, soft smile on his Lieutenant's face.

Turning his body towards his fiancé, “So Rafeeee, or Raaaaafee!”

Rafi let go of his hand and huffed.

“Well, amnesia couldn’t take away your Staten Island charm away from you.”

Sonny wasn’t offended, not one bit. He treasured the fondness in his fiancé’s voice. Sonny couldn’t stop smiling during the drive to the apartment.

He couldn’t wait to see it and see what kind of life he was building with the mysterious, handsome and loving man.

Chapter Text

Sonny felt his jaw drop as the car approached a posh looking Manhattan building. It looked fairly new and had a doorman standing at the entrance. He had never lived in a place with a doorman. Sonny wasn't ashamed of his Staten Island upbringing. He loved being raised there but it didn't quite prepare him for city living.

As Sonny exited the car he felt a bit of pain at the back of his head. He had basically jumped out of the car in excitement before Rafael could try to help him. Since he had been unconscious for almost two weeks his body had time to heal but he still had a bandage on the back of his head and it felt a bit tender.

“Hey, take it slow.” Rafael instructed.

“We live here?” He didn't hide the awe in his voice.

Rafael smiled at him. “Yes, we do.”

The doorman stopped them as they entered. He expressed how happy he was to see Sonny alive. Apparently, there was news story about the incident along with a video on the TV. Sonny tried to smile but it came out more as a grimace. Although the doctor had briefly told Sonny what happened, it bothered him that a stranger had seen the incident.

His Lieutenant accompanied them up to help carry his stuff. Sonny had offered to help but both she and Rafael shut him down.

“Rafael, Sonny has been in shock since we stopped the car,” she teased, “tell him how y'all got the place.”

On the elevator ride up he learned he and Rafael had recently purchased the apartment. The owner of the building graduated from Harvard and quit law to go into real estate. He had given them a generous discount for one of New York's Finest and an old friend.

“We got tired of sneaking around.” Rafael joked.

Previously, he learned they had taken turns staying at each others apartments. When Sonny's lease had run out he had moved in him Rafael. Then after Rafael proposed they bought this place under both their names.

If he was being honest Sonny was a bit embarrassed having this conversation in front of his boss. Rafael glanced at him as the elevator door opened to their floor. Sonny suspected Rafael had a sixth sense to Sonny's discomfort because he added, “Olivia has been my confidant throughout our relationship, like Amanda is yours. Don't be embarrassed.”

Sonny nodded. He couldn't help feeling a bit overwhelmed. He had never lived with a partner before. He dated in college and although he wanted something serious it didn't happen. He dated less and less as he worked his way to detective. As he got older, dates became more causal and Sonny had finally allowed himself to start dating whoever he was attracted to regardless of gender.

Sonny also remembered really loving his little apartment in Queens. He loved solitude after a hard day of work. He couldn't imagine buying a place with someone and living with them.

They entered the apartment and the smell of his Ma’s lasagna sauce hit him. The open concept design allowed him to see through to the kitchen where his mom and sister, Bella, were.

Olivia and Rafael were having a conversation about where to put the flowers and plants, apparently he and Rafael had a tiny patio already filled with furniture.

Sonny walked towards the kitchen. Bella had a small child in her arms and she was chatting with their ma. He wondered if they hadn't heard them come in.

He felt confused seeing his sister with a small child. He looked around but didn't see Amanda so it couldn't be Jesse.

“Bella? Ma?”

The pair turned around surprised to see him.

“Sonny, you're home!” His ma exclaimed, “Bella and I are getting a head start on dinner. We know Rafael hates cooking unless it's Cuban food and we weren't about to make you do it.”

Bella chuckled. “I mean, knowing you, you would cook for a dinner party with a head injury.”

His ma smiled and turned back to her cooking. The brunette toddler wiggled in Bella’s arms. Those sweet brown eyes spotted him and she started to grin and kick in Bella’s arms.

“Well, your niece missed.”

When Bella uttered the word niece he felt his stomach drop.

“W-what? My niece. Bella!? Who...what….when.” Sonny was at a loss for words. His baby sister had a baby, his niece.

“Don't sound so scandalized, Sonny. Tommy’s her daddy. Isn't he, precious girl.”

“Tommy.” The name felt bitter on his tongue. He remembered Tommy was at the hospital with Bella the other day. Sonny's previous memories of Tommy were not good ones. Tommy was in jail, last he could recall, a total failure and burnout. He thought his sister would have moved on from that loser.

Bella shifted her little girl so she could show Sonny her wedding ring.

“We married right before she was born. You and Rafael set the whole thing up. Even brought flowers and decorations to the courthouse. The justice of the peace was a friend of Rafael’s, she took her time and didn't rush us through it.” She explained. “It was nice.”

It sounded nice but Sonny still wanted to know how Tommy had managed to weasel his way back in Bella’s life.

She laughed to herself and started talking to her toddler, “That's when your Uncle Sonny and Uncle Rafi were still pretending to be friends and not lovers.”

“Bella!” Sonny's scandalized tone return.

The baby giggled and reached her arms out to Sonny, she was begging for Sonny to hold her. Sonny reached out to her take her into his arms. He couldn't believe he had a niece. A beautiful sweet little niece. Her laughs were the sweetest sounds he had ever heard. She continued to giggle as he bounced her in his arms.

“Oh no you don't!” He heard Rafael call across the room. He abandoned Olivia with the flowers and rushed over to Bella and Sonny.

“The man with a head injury is not holding a baby.” Rafael declared, taking his niece from him.

Rafael continued bouncing the giggling baby girl to keep her happy. She kept reaching out to Sonny wanting him. Bella smiled at them then turned back towards her mother.

“No, no. Princesa. He can't hold you right now.” With baby in tow, Rafael left the kitchen to go back to the living room. Stunned Sonny followed closely behind. So maybe Sonny had been wrong about the kids thing. Rafael was a natural with his niece.

In the living room Olivia had set the hospital flowers on various tables and bookcases. Rafael sat on the couch with the baby and Sonny followed suit.

“Well, I am going to go home and get Noah ready to come over.” She smiled.

“Oh, Olivia!” Bella called from the kitchen, “Tommy says thank you for Noah’s old music maker toy. It keeps her occupied for hours!”

Olivia chuckled. “You’re welcome!”

Sonny felt his chest tighten. His lieutenant was friends with his sister? She helped his sister out? His boyfriend...fiancè was good with kids? It was a lot to handle.

Olivia must have read Sonny like a book. “You taught Rafael everything he knows about holding babies, Sonny. He couldn't stand it when Noah was a baby.”

Rafael ceased his cooing with Sonny's niece to glare at Olivia.

Laughing, Olivia let herself out.

Sonny turned his attention back to Rafael and the baby.

“Yesterday, I got the impression you don't like kids.” Sonny stated as cautiously as possible.

“I don't. Can't stand them.”

Sonny rolled his eyes as Rafael continued bounce his niece on his knee and speak terms of endearment to her in Spanish.

“But,” Rafael let Sonny hold her now that they were seated on the couch. “She's different. She's a Carisi. Which means she’s family.”

Sonny looked at Rafael. He expected him to look happy but his eyes were sad.

“Well, that's good. You won't hate our kids.” Sonny joked. “Little Carisi’s.”

“You mean Barba-Carisi’s.” Rafael smiled weakly. “But I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We need to get your memory back first.”

Sonny didn't disagree. The past years were blank and Sonny desperately wanted remember if not for himself, for his family, and his friends but most of all for Rafi.

“I'm gonna check on your mom and Bella.” Rafael declared, he motioned for Sonny to hand over the baby. “You should go take a nap before the party.”

“Yeah, sure. Ok. Uh, where?”

“In our bedroom. It’s the bedroom at the end of the hall.”

Sonny expected Rafael to show him the way but he held onto the baby tightly and simply pointed to the hallway off the living room.

“We’ll keep it down out here.”

“Thanks counselor.” The title slipped out with familiarity. Sonny could have swore he caught a smirk on Rafael as he walked away.

Sonny walked down the hallway and cautiously opened the door at the end. The bedroom was perfectly decorated with soft calm colors. At the center of the room was a king sized bed. Sonny marveled at the large bed. He resisted the urge to jump on the bed due to his injury but when he got better, that was towards the top of his list.

The bed had two identical nightstands. He turned back to see if Rafael had followed him before approaching the one on the right. On top was a photo of a shirtless Sonny at a beach smiling. He assumed that one was Rafael’s unless in the past five years Sonny had become so self-absorbed he had a picture of himself on his nightstand.

He then moved to the other side of the bed to what he assumed was his nightstand. The picture on the top was of him and Rafael in Paris. The Eiffel Tower stood in the background. The shot was clearly a selfie. Sonny had never been outside of the country. Well, apparently he had. He wished he could remember it.

He pulled out the drawer of the nightstand and saw a black notebook with papers sticking out. Sonny glanced at the door once more before opening it.

Wedding Planning was scribbled on the front. Sonny felt his stomach churn. It was his handwriting. He took a deep breath before continuing. The inside looked more like his detective notebook than a wedding planner. There were lists of florists, bakers, churches, guest lists and memos written in his neatest handwriting. Sonny could tell the planning was in a final stage. Red circles designated which businesses they had chosen. Sonny carefully went through the each page.

He learned the wedding party was small. Olivia, his Lieutenant, was going to stand with Rafael and Amanda, his work partner, with him. However, the guest list was extensive including Rafael’s friends, co-workers and extended family. Sonny had invited many of his law school friends, along with many but not all the Carisi's. Sonny assumed this meant he and Rafael knew which family members supported them and who did not. There were important guests as well, including the D.A. and the Mayor. Sonny felt his tears begin to tear up. He was a very private person and he suspected Rafael was as well. But they were willing to share their wedding with the outside world. Sonny never thought he would have that, especially with a man.

Sonny was about to close the notebook when he noticed a newspaper articles tucked in the back. One was their engagement announcement clipped directly from The Times. Wow, their picture was so charming. It was a picture of them on the courthouse steps in their best suits, both smiling. Sonny hadn't seen that smile on Rafael yet in person. The second article was a markup printed from an email. In the margins the editor had wrote to Sonny, “I know it's still a month away but if you could check the marriage announcement and email me any corrections, that would be great.”

A month away.

Sonny flipped the notebook back to the front.

January 15. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

That was less than two weeks away. He and Rafael, a man he clearly loved, even if he couldn't remember were suppose to get married...soon. Feeling overwhelmed he took his fiancè’s advice and climbed in their large, fluffy bed. He placed the wedding notebook under his pillow and hoped when he woke he would remember the last five years of his life. He prayed as he drifted off to sleep. God, help me remember.

Chapter Text

Sonny heard a soft tapping sound. He opened his eyes and fear gripped him. He didn’t know where he was. He took several slow, deep breaths and tried to remember if he was undercover and if so where.

He heard a door open and someone call his name. “Sonny.”

Rafael. It was Rafael. Sonny remembered. Well, Sonny remembered not remembering Rafael. He recalled the last couple of days and was disappointed that more memories hadn’t come back.

“Yes?” Sonny said hesitantly as he sat up in the bed, their bed.

“People are starting to arrive. Do you want me to help you find something to wear?”

“No, No, I can figure it out.” He looked around the room realizing he didn’t even know where the closet was. Rafael walked over to a door and opened it, “You may want to start in here.”

Sonny nodded and slowly pulled himself from bed. The closet he shared with Rafael was massive. Sonny could barely navigate through the suits, ties and shoes that filled it. On the shelves there were boxes still packed up, maybe from their move. He felt overwhelmed until Rafael came in.

“Oh wow! We can both fit in here!” Sonny marveled. He turned to face Rafael who was smiling softly at him.

“You said the same thing when we toured the place.”

“Oh, well, I am glad I haven’t changed too much.” Sonny grinned. Rafael turned away to shift through the clothes on what seemed to be Sonny’s side of the closet. Sonny looked at Rafael’s side and was in awe of his partner’s fashion sense. Rafael picked out what was apparently his favorite shirt and slacks. Sonny thought the fabrics looked too expensive for him. He was about to take the clothes from Rafael but he hesitated.

“Wait, let me pick something for you.” Sonny offered. He looked at the various suits and wondered where Rafi’s casual clothes were. “Hmmm, here this one.” He pulled a tan suit that he thought Rafael would look sharp in.

Rafael chuckled taking the tan suit and looking at it fondly. “It may be a bit formal for dinner with our friends and family.” Rafael moved to hang the suit back up in his place. Sonny couldn’t help but noticed how close Rafael was.

“But I like it...I like it.” This all felt very familiar, the closet, the clothes, them picking each others clothes and the sound of Rafael’s breath.

All the information for the previous days suddenly weighed down on him. He was suppose to get married in two weeks to this man.

Sonny reached for the clothes Rafi was holding, well, at least he thought he was. Suddenly, he was kissing Rafael, his hands clasped tightly on his shirt. Rafael’s lips were dry and warm. Sonny knew he wanted more as soon as their lips touched. He felt the clothes fall to the ground as Sonny’s hands left Rafael’s shirt and were now in his hair, which was incredibly soft. As his tongue started to explore Rafael’s mouth he lead them back into the bedroom and the king-sized bed. Rafael’s knees hit the back of the bed and they fell onto it. Sonny was desperate to feel Rafael, to remember how he felt and he began to run his hands down Rafael’s body.

But as soon as they settled on the bed, the spell was broken. Rafael pushed Sonny off him, jumped off the bed, and walked back towards the closet.

“Shit.” Rafael cursed, touching his lips then running his hands through his hair. “Why would you do that?” he snapped.

Sonny knew his lips were swollen, or he assumed so because of the way Rafael was staring at them.

“I…” Sonny was about to apologize but he stopped. He didn’t want to say he was sorry because he really wasn’t. Kissing Rafael had felt right. “I wanted to.”

“Y-You. You wanted to.” Rafael said exasperatedly. “You wanted to.” his tone became accusatory. Rafael laughed, and to be honest, Sonny found it to be vaguely cold.

“We danced around each other for years! You couldn’t even tell I was flirting with you. And now, here you are, with no memories of us, two weeks before we were suppose to…” Rafael growled in frustration. “You’ve know me for two days and you want to make out with me. Great, just great. This time maybe we’ll get married before I’m fifty!”

Rafael stormed out of the bedroom leaving Sonny regretting his impulsiveness. He sighed and looked at the clothes on the closet floor. He’d better get dressed. He was thankful his family would be there, at least he remembered them.

*

Sonny felt on edge the entire night. Rafael was avoiding him and his co-workers seemed to love re-telling embarrassing stories about him to his family. His family, the traitors, were loving it.

Luckily, there were no additional relatives to get familiar with. After dinner, Sonny opted on playing with the kids instead of hearing stories about newbie Sonny with a ‘pornstache’.

The three toddlers seemed to enjoy each other's company. Noah, Liv’s son, was the oldest of the three and he played kindly with the two little girls.

“Sonny, you are allowed to sit with the adults.” his father joked.

“Ha. Ha. Thanks Dad.”

The living room was filled with people. They seemed to have lots of seating available and Sonny wondered if they entertained often. They had a loveseat and two armchairs, plus the chairs from the dining room moved into the living room so everyone could be together. Sonny looked around for a spot to sit and didn’t see one.

"Carisi, sit here.” Liv instructed, motioning to the space between her and Rafael. Sonny reluctantly squeezed himself into the small space. He didn’t make eye contact with Rafael but Sonny felt his body stiffen when they touched.

“Good thing you're so skinny!” Amanda teased.

Sonny had to admit it helped to be surrounded by people who loved and supported both him and Rafael. After the teasing marathon ended everyone kindly offered details to help Sonny remember the last five years of his life.

Sonny was overjoyed at how close his work-family and family were. When he had first started at Special Victims Unit he had apparently only been close to his sister Bella but since he had been dating Rafael he had maintained a closer relationship with his family. They seemed really supportive of his relationship with Rafael. His parents, sisters, friends, and coworkers all seemed to ignore the looming marriage ceremony, no one mentioned the ceremony once at the party. On one hand, he was grateful because he didn't know if he should let Rafael know that he was aware of it, especially after the incident in the bedroom. But Sonny didn't want Rafael to do something drastic like cancel the ceremony. Since he could have his memory back any day now.

Sonny was laughing at Gina's latest boyfriend disaster story when there was a soft knock at the door. Sonny volunteered to answer the door and when he opened it he found a Hispanic woman on the other side.

“Uh, hello.”

“Oh, Sonny.” the woman held out her hand, “It seems you even forgot your future mother-in-law. I’m Lucia Barba.”

“OH, wow! It’s so nice to meet you, ma’am.”

“Mami! What are you doing here?” Rafael bolted up from the couch to the door.

“Well, I had to hear about this little get together from Sonny’s Ma, you certainly didn’t invite me.” she declared, walking past a shocked Sonny and exasperated Rafael.

“Mami, I told you earlier. Sonny needs to time to remember everyone.” Rafael explained. Liv stood up and let Lucia take her seat.

Lucia took Sonny’s hand and had him sit next to her. For the first time since before dinner, Sonny and Rafael made eye contact. His eyes were clearly saying, “I’m sorry”.

“We are going to be family, Rafi. And hopefully soon--”

“Mami!”

Rafi left the living room for the kitchen, by the clacking and water running, Sonny assumed he was making coffee.

“What a nice change!” Lucia commented, “Usually it’s Sonny making the coffee. Make sure he spoils you while you are recovering.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Sonny blushed.

“So,” Bella interrupted, “which story were we going to tell Sonny about next?”

“What about the engagement story?” Gina answered. “That one is sweet.”

Everyone laughed at once and agreed it was the best. Sonny felt his blush deeper as he felt lost. Why was his engagement story funny?

“Let me tell it, please!” Theresa pleaded. His family rolled their eyes but they let her continue. "So, Rafael had gone to so much trouble.”

“So much!” Bella interjected.

“He asked Pop for your hand in marriage. OMG, he was so scared to even walk in the front door.”

“He was.” his mother confirmed, “he was visibly shaking, poor thing. I made him a coffee right away cause I thought he was going through caffeine withdrawal.”

“Ma, let me finish.” Theresa interrupted. “Anyway, after Pa gave his blessing, Rafi went ring shopping with us girls.”

Sonny had to smile. He had been shopping with his sisters many times in his life. He couldn’t imagine a man like Rafael Barba shopping with them.

“He insisted on that corny inscription.”

“Hey, we love it!” Liv defended.

“Well, he set up this whole elaborate proposal. Got us all to be there, your co-workers, family and a few other friends.”

“There was a dove release planned.” Amanda said, with a straight face.

“There was not!” Rafael yelled from the kitchen.

“Anyway, Rafael took you to brunch with Lucia. After that he was going to take you and Lucia to Central Park, we were all waiting, hiding, ready to surprise you after you said yes.”

“So, what happened?” Sonny asked, feeling anxious.

“Well,” Lucia continued, “You had asked me to bring Abuelo's wedding band to brunch and since Rafael never lets me in on anything, I did.”

“We are all hiding in the bushes of Central Park.” Liv added, “when Rafael texts me saying ‘well, Sonny just proposed’”

“We were so shocked.” Gina laughed, “but we just kept waiting.”

“Finally, Rafael got you to come to the park even though you really wanted to celebrate at home, " Theresa winked.

"He got down on one knee anyway!!” Bella finished.

“It was very romantic.” Amanda grinned.

“Especially when you started sucking Rafael’s face off, in the middle of Central Park.” Bella teased.

“Let’s just say, you weren’t as happy to see us, as we were to see you.” Fin added.

Rafael came back over with two coffee mugs. “Here, Mami.” After handing one to his mother, he handed the other to Sonny, “Watch out, it’s hot babe... Sonny.” Sonny looked up and saw Rafael's discomfort.

“Would anyone else like coffee?” Rafael asked.

Everyone was fairly silent for the first time. Eventually everyone refused and Rafael went to make himself a cup.

“Uh, Carisi.” Liv spoke up. “Don’t worry about work. The Police Chief wants you to take as much time off as you need.”

“But what about--”

“It will be paid time off. The incident was good publicity for the NYPD, a rare thing I’m told.”

Sonny felt a bit of relief. He knew he was still a good detective but he wasn’t sure he was ready to return to Special Victims Units.

The night continued with laughing and more stories. His team left first, since they had work the next morning, then his family, who needed to get back to the island and finally Lucia.

She gave Sonny a kiss on the cheek and whispered to him, “Be patient with Rafi. This is very hard for him. He thought you were going to die. Instead only the part of you that remembered him is gone. It’s hard for him. Take care, Sonny.”

After she left, Sonny was unsure how to treat Rafael. Rafael had made him drink three glasses of water with his medication, because apparently Sonny wasn’t suppose to have the coffee but Rafael had been on autopilot.

“Hopefully I’ll remember where the bathroom is. I’d hate to get lost in the middle of the night.”

Rafael did laugh at that comment which made Sonny more relaxed.

When it was time for bed, Sonny reluctantly, returned to the master bedroom. He changed back into sweats and a t-shirt, climbing into bed before Rafael came into the room. Sonny watched Rafael rummage through a dresser for a pair of pajamas. So he did own casual clothes, Sonny thought. He watched Rafael disappear into the bathroom and waited patiently for him to emerge.

Sonny slipped his hand under the pillow and felt the wedding notebook still in place. When Rafael left the bathroom he started towards the bedroom door.

“Rafi? Where are you going?”

Rafael stopped at the door. “I think it would be best if I slept in the guest room.”

Sonny felt disappointed. “But, I-I’ll keep my hands to myself.” He attempted.

Rafael walked over to the bed and sat on it. He reached over and ran his hand through Sonny's hair, similar to how he did at hospital, now only the gesture was more familiar to him.

“Sonny, I guess I should be flattered your body wants to remember me faster than your brain.” Rafael started. “But I miss my Sonny. You are him in so many ways but without everything that we've been through… not everything was always easy with your family, with our friends even. We endured a lot to get here and I…”

Sonny could see the this strong man starting to fall apart. Sonny knew Rafael was vulnerable. He suspected if he leaned over and kissed him now Rafael would make love to him without hesitation. But he would be loving someone who wasn't truly there. Sonny couldn't do that to Rafi.

“I understand, Rafi. I want my memories back too.”

“I'll check up on you during the night.” Rafael promised.

Sonny watched Rafael leave the room. Despite feeling his world spinning out of control he was able to fall asleep, his hand holding the notebook.

*

Sonny awoke feeling drowsy and disoriented. It took him less time to remember where he was, which was nice.

He reached out to hold the wedding notebook and didn't feel it. Sonny shot up in bed, too quickly because his head ached.

He checked under the covers, by the headboard, he even got on the floor and peeked under the bed. Gone.

He looked on his nightstand and saw a glass of water with a note, Take your medicine when you wake up.

Sonny climbed out of bed and looked at the large clock hanging above their dresser. 4 am. He carefully opened the bedroom door and walked into the living room. Rafael had never made it to the guest bedroom. He was asleep on the loveseat. On the coffee table was the wedding notebook and a legal pad.

Sonny crept over to the table and picked up the legal pad.

‘Cancellation numbers’ was written in what Sonny assumed was Rafael's handwriting. It seemed while Sonny was sleeping Rafael had gone through the notebook and gathered the information he would need to cancel their wedding.

Sonny was not going to let that happen. He gathered the up the notebook and returned to the bedroom.

After ripping up the cancellation list, he searched for his cell phone. His rummaged through the box of his personal effects from the hospital and found a really, expensive looking cell phone. He attached it to the charger on his nightstand and went to the closet. On the upper shelf were boxes labeled Barba family photos and Carisi family photos. Luckily for him he was tall enough to grab them easily. He laid out the photos on the bed and started to go through them.

The Carisi photos he remembered. A dorky, unpopular kid stared back at him. He quickly flipped through his life and all the old printed photos felt familiar in his hands. Then he opened Rafael's box. He saw adorable baby photos. Pictures of Lucia and a man who he assumed was Rafael's father. Many of the pictures were of Rafael's grandfather and grandmother. Each photo was carefully labeled on the back, possibly done by Lucia but more likely Rafi. Rafael looked about 12 when it was only Lucia and Rafi’s Abuela in the photos. He saw Rafael's high school graduation pictures along with his Harvard pictures.

His phone beeped to let him know it was charged. It was very different than the last phone he remembered owning. He opened the picture folder and went back through them. It only went back three years. Sonny didn't see many pictures of him and Rafael at first. There were pictures of coffee and food but not of the actual couple till at least a year later. The first pic of them was in Central Park. It was winter, snow falling thickly. Rafael was glaring into the camera, Sonny assumed because it was an announced selfie.

The trip to Paris. The brunch proposal. The Central Park proposal. They began to seem like memories he could recreate in his head.

He browsed through old texts. The recent ones seemed very domestic and mostly consisted of making plans for dinner or planning dates. There were random texts where Rafi would tell him he loved him, or wish him a good day, always with a Spanish endearment at the end like mi amor or mi vida.

Sonny yawned and sighed heavily to himself. He was going to make himself relearn everything about himself and Rafi. He would be able to convince Rafi to love him, that he could be his Sonny. And he had less than two weeks to do it.

Chapter Text

Sonny would remember little things each day, sometimes a feeling, other times just a piece of a memory. It helped that Rafael went to work during the day and Sonny had time to be alone to think. He took strolls in the morning through Central Park trying to find where they had taken the winter selfie or the place where Rafael proposed. The city, Sonny was sure, held the key to his memories.

Rafael hadn’t directly said anything to him about the wedding. He knew Rafael had found him passed out on their bed, surrounded by their family photos and the wedding notebook, the morning after the party. When Sonny finally woke that afternoon, the photos had been placed neatly back in their boxes and the notebook was back in Sonny’s nightstand.

Thankfully, Sonny did have someone to talk to, someone who wouldn’t tell Rafael everything he said. Unfortunately, his friends and family were so close knit he was afraid to confide in any of them fully. Liv had referred him to retired FBI profiler and psychiatrist Dr. George Huang. Sonny enjoyed his sessions with Dr. Huang. He could ramble for a solid hour and the good doctor would not only listen but help him work through the pieces of memories he did remember.

“So, you haven’t talked with him about the wedding?”

As much as Sonny liked Dr. Huang, he hated when he gave him the ‘grow up, you’re acting like a child’ smile.

“Well, no. But we do talk. Every night when Rafi comes home from work. I still remember how to cook. He hasn’t complained about that yet. But apparently I learned to cook Cuban food so I suspect he’s disappointed that I haven’t mastered that yet. Lucia is teaching me--”

“Sonny.” Dr. Huang reached over from his chair and placed a hand on his knee.

“Sorry,” Sonny blushed. “Uh, the wedding. Nope, we haven’t talked about it. I mean, according to my notebook we are picking up our tuxes on Friday and Rafi starts his leave of absence for the wedding then. The honeymoon isn’t even booked yet, it was on my to-do-list before….”

“Before the incident.” Dr. Huang added.

“Ugh, the incident.” Sonny grumbled. “Rafi made me promise not to watch the video. It’s so frustrating.”

“He made you promise?”

“Well, they ran an updated story on the local news. He was very upset. He asked me not to watch the video. Rafael is my fiance, he didn’t have to make me promise, I wanted to promise.”

“I see.” Dr. Huang started to scribble in his notebook. “Any recovered memories you want to talk though before our session ends?”

“A PG one? Cause I got a few steamy rated R ones you might enjoy.” Sonny wiggled his eyebrows.

Huang laughed and checked his wristwatch. “I have time for one of each.”

And that was why Sonny loved talking to Dr. Huang.

“So I was cooking dinner the other night, and a memory hit me. It was around Thanksgiving time, we had just finished moving into the new apartment, and I was cooking a meal for just the two of us.” Sonny fondly recalled, “Rafi came up behind me, wrapped his arms around my waist and started humming in my ear. It was really sweet. He has been kind to me but he hasn’t been sweet to me like that.”

Sonny felt a bit sad admitting that. He had been reluctant to share his newfound memories with Rafael. The first time he had shared a recovered memory with Rafael, Rafi had been so happy until suddenly Sonny went blank again. Rafael had tried to keep a neutral face, he spouted comforting words but Sonny could tell he was disappointed. Sonny had decided then that his memories would be fully recovered in therapy before he shared that fact with Rafael. He couldn’t bear to hurt him.

“Sonny?”

Sonny glanced at Dr. Huang, who looked concerned.

“Uh, anyway, I also remembered that Rafi and I had healthy amounts of morning sex. My body remembers too unfortunately. I have woken up every morning needing him and being stuck with my own hand.”

Huang chuckled. Sonny felt his face heat up as he continued.

“But seriously, doc. I don’t always remember when or where Rafi and I made love but I can recall how his hands felt on my body, the smell of his breath in the morning, how he tasted, how he felt inside-” Sonny tried not to feel embarrassed because he knew Dr. Huang was a professional. “And it was good. Really good.”

Sonny would have swore there was the lightest of blushes on Dr. Huang’s cheeks. “We are almost out of time. Did you have a closing session questions?”

Sonny nervously tapped his leg. He definitely did and he had been avoiding these one all week. It was very overwhelming to talk to a shrink every single day.

“Once I have all my memories back will I be a different person? Will Rafael ever love me again, the same way he did before?”

Huang sighed. He left his chair to sit next to Sonny on his office couch.

“Sonny, we are made up of our experiences, our memories. I know it’s very confusing for you right now. You are that SVU Detective from Queens. He was a good guy but he hasn’t fallen in love yet and hasn’t worked for Manhattan SVU. You have had so many experiences over the last five years that have fundamentally changed you. You will be different once you remember. Rafael loves the you he knew these past five years but he will learn to love all of you.”

“So do you think we should cancel the wedding?” Sonny asked. Dr. Huang gave Sonny’s shoulder a squeeze.

“Only you and Rafael can make that choice. But I do think you two need to talk about it.”

“Thanks, doc. We will.”

***

Sonny was glad to arrive back at the apartment. He could smell Lucia’s cooking as he opened the door. Lucia had been over everyday. She insisted on making him lunch, chatting with him, and just checking on his general welfare.

The first day she had come over, she went through the Barba family photos with him. She told him stories about Rafi’s childhood, his friends Eddie and Alex, and vaguely about Rafi’s father. She explained that Rafael had been extremely close to his grandparents, they would babysit Rafael when she had been working crazy hours at the school and her husband was battling alcoholism. Her father had been so excited to retire when Rafael was nine so he could spend more time with his grandson. But mere months after his retirement, he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away a few weeks later. It had been a huge blow to young Rafael. Lucia explained that’s why Sonny had asked for her father’s wedding band. It was a simple gold band but it meant so much to Rafael.

The next day Lucia had visited she had been kind enough offer to teach him Rafael’s favorite Cuban dishes. Sonny loved cooking with Lucia, she was patient him and didn’t fuss too much when he made a mistake. That day Rafi had been irritated when he found Lucia and Sonny laughing over their mess of pots and pans. But it had been worth it.

The last couple of days Lucia had been helping Sonny with his Spanish. He remembered his elementary Italian and how to mirandize in four other languages. However over the last five years Sonny’s Spanish comprehension had greatly increased according to Lucia. And since the engagement Sonny had worked non-stop on it to impress Rafael’s cousins and relatives from Cuba. Although it had felt like starting from scratch again, Lucia was happy with his progress in just a couple of days. She had little songs that would help him remember important cognates and phrases. He had to admit he worked really well. Lucia was a great teacher.

“Lucia, smells great, what are you making?”

“Ropa vieja de pollo.”

“Rafi’s favorite?”

Lucia turned away from the pot and smiled at him, “Yes, my mother would make it for him. I’m going to leave this shimmering. Rafi called me, he will be home early.”

Early? Sonny thought that was curious. It was only Wednesday. They had two days before the final fittings, four till the rehearsal dinner and five till the wedding, the wedding they hadn’t confirmed they were having.

“How was your session with Dr. Huang?” Lucia enquired as she covered the pot and took off her cooking apron.

“Good. I am really glad Liv recommended him. He’s had an amazing career. I mean a profiler for the FBI!”

“Has it been too much? Therapy everyday.” Lucia sounded concerned.

“Nah. It’s been helpful. Did Rafi mention why he was coming home early?”

“No, but maybe he finished up with the case early.”

Lucia gave him a kiss on the cheek, “I’ll see you tomorrow around 2?” she confirmed.

“Yes,” Sonny smiled, “I’ll call if something changes.”

Sonny walked his future mother-in-law to the front door and was a bit nervous once she had left. He sat on the couch, reading a law book and waiting impatiently for Rafael to come home. He couldn’t believe he had worked a full time job and passed the bar during his time at Manhattan SVU. He was disappointed that knowledge was also gone.

Sonny didn’t realise he had fallen asleep till he felt a hand on his shoulder.

“Sonny?” Rafi asked softly. Sonny felt the couch dip, and Rafael’s hand on his forehead. Sonny was about to stretch and ask Rafael why he was home so early but Rafael continued to talk.

“Oh Sonny.” Rafael sighed. Sonny had to calm his breathing to not give away that he was awake.

“I don’t pray as much as you do. I never thought I would fall in love with someone religious. I never thought I would be having a church wedding. My life changed completely when we fell in love. But I have been praying every night, on my knees even, for God to bring you back to me.”

At this point, Sonny didn’t know what to do, to keep listening or to ‘wake up’. After a moment of silence Rafael continued.

“But I’ve been selfish. You could have died on those tracks. And yet here you are, physically fine. I know I’ve been distant this week. We haven’t talk as much as we should. I guess I was reluctant that I may need to date you all over again. Make you fall in love with me again.”

Sonny heard a soft sob leave Rafael. The weight of the couch changed again. Sonny’s eyes opened in shock as he felt Rafael’s lip on his. Rafael pulled away and looked directly into his eyes.

“You were always crap at faking to be asleep.”

Sonny just smiled at him and wiped his tears from Rafael’s cheeks. “Are you always this romantic when I’m pretending to be unconscious? Cause I could get used to it.”

Rafael chuckled.

“Did something happen?” Sonny asked cautiously. Rafael relaxed back on into the couch and sighed.

“I guess you could say that. Liv visited me at the office today.” he started, “I suppose I’ve been grumpy at work and everyone has about had their fill of me.”

This time it was Sonny’s turn to laugh. Grumpy was a good word to describe Rafael. He didn’t speak intelligible words until after at least one cup of coffee.

“Liv wanted to know why I was so angry all the time. She feels like I'm not grateful for this second chance we have together.” he admitted. “I mean, you have been seeing Dr. Huang all week and hanging out with my mother. You didn’t remember me but you have been doing everything in your power to. Even though you could leave me and start fresh.”

“Rafi!” Sonny brought his hands back up to hold Rafael’s face. “Stop that. Please.” he begged, “Rafi, my memory is coming back. Slowly. But it’s happening. And when I said yes to marrying you, I committed to you. In sickness and in health-”

“Sonny.” Rafael groaned. “You can’t actually want to go through with the wedding.”

Sonny felt like he had been slapped in the face. “Well, I... I thought that...”

“You thought what? Marrying a complete stranger was a good idea. Marrying your roommate from the past week, that would be ideal.” Rafael’s voice was dripping with bitterness.

“Please, Rafi.” Sonny moved one of his hands to Rafael’s chest and kept the other on his jaw.

“I can’t explain it. But I have enough faith in the person I have become these last five years to know marrying you is what’s right for me.”

“But what if it isn’t for me?” Rafael looked distraught as the words left his mouth. He attempted to pull away from Sonny’s grasp but Sonny held on tight.

“Then kiss me.”

“What?”

“Kiss me and then tell me you don’t want to marry me on Monday.” Emotional blackmail wasn't Sonny's forte. He wanted his voice to sound strong and crisp like it did in an interrogation but instead it trembled in a way it hadn't since he made detective.

Sonny let his forehead touch Rafael’s, he inched closer but didn’t close the space between their mouths.

“Rafi, please, kiss-”

Rafael closed the space and Sonny released the tension in his shoulders he didn’t even know he was holding. Sonny couldn’t hold back a moan when Rafael gently bit his lip. Before Sonny knew it he was on his back, pressed up against the soft couch.

“Rafi!” Sonny whined.

“Shut up, Sonny. Before I changed my mind.” Rafael started to nip Sonny’s jaw and move down to his neck.

“So the answer was yes.”

Rafael growled and sat up, looking a mixture of flushed and irritated.

“Yes to what?”

Sonny reached under Rafael’s suit jacket and grabbed his suspenders to keep him from going too far.

“The wedding? I was hoping we could still have it.”

“Is this a proposal?”

“You know what they say, third time’s the charm.”

“Then yes. I will marry you. You, Sonny, just as you are now.”

Sonny barely had to tug on the suspenders before Rafael was back to kissing him. “You do remember that we’ve-” Rafael said in between placing small kisses to Sonny’s neck.

“That we’ve had premarital sex? Yeah, and lots of it. If God hasn’t stuck us down yet, I think we’re good. Just don’t tell the priest at our wedding. I’ll act surprised at my next confession.” The priest would be the same one Sonny had confessed to as a horny teenager so at least they had a rapport. Sonny had been overjoyed when he read in the notebook that they would be getting married at his home parish on Staten Island. And now, he was just overjoyed that the wedding would happen at all.

Sonny started pulling at Rafael’s tie when he heard a beeping sound from the kitchen.

“Shit!” Sonny pushed Rafael and got up as gracefully as possible to run to the kitchen to turn off the Ropa vieja de pollo. Lucia must have set a timer so Sonny wouldn’t ruin her son’s favorite meal.

“Good news, it’s not burned!” Sonny declared as he lifted the lip on the shimmering pot. Sonny grabbed a ladle to stir the soup. “It smells amazing.”

Sonny heard Rafael groan from the couch. “So I take it we’re done.”

“For now.” Sonny stated, grabbing bowls from the cabinet and began serving the soup. “I mean, if we’re getting married, we have all the time in the world.” he grinned. He knew he was being a tease, especially after demanding Rafael kiss him earlier but Sonny was enjoying it. He could tell how much Rafael wanted him, missed him, even needed him.

Rafael came to the kitchen and took the bowls from Sonny. “You have a valid point.”

Rafael set the food on the table while Sonny grabbed them utensils. They sat in a companionable silence for a little bit before Sonny spoke up.

“So would this be a good time to ask you to move back into our bedroom?”

Sonny loved the smirk that appeared on Rafael’s face.

“I’ll consider it.”

Sonny rolled his eyes but secretly was a bit excited. Maybe, just maybe tomorrow morning would be more pleasant than the past week.

Chapter Text

Sonny was able to sleep better that night than he had the previous week. That night he and Rafael shared a few heated kiss in their king-sized bed but both were too emotionally drained to progress any further. He discovered Rafael slept without a shirt and Sonny couldn’t resist touching his skin constantly and wrapping his arms around Rafael’s waist. Sonny also could sense Rafael’s lingering hesitation in touching him. It made Sonny uncomfortable but he hoped with the wedding looming things would improve.

Sonny knew he had slept like the dead when he woke up because he was drooling on his pillow and Rafael was leaning over him, watching him sleep, which was creepy and kind of sweet.

“Mi amor, te extrañe…” Rafael pressed a soft kiss to Sonny’s forehead and started to get out of bed.

“Where are you going?” Sonny asked softly.

“I have to go into the office. I start my leave of absence tomorrow and I need to make sure all my current duties are delegated correctly.” Sonny couldn’t help but notice how clinical Rafael sounded about it all, like he was getting ready to go to a conference, not to prepare for his own wedding.
“Well, can I get a real kiss goodbye then?” Sonny teased. Rafael stared at him and Sonny definitely had trouble reading his expression.

“Of course, mi amor.” Rafael leaned over and innocently pressed a kiss to Sonny’s lips.

It wasn’t quite what Sonny was looking for but it would do. Sonny layed in bed listening to the sounds of Rafael getting ready for work. The soft spray of the shower, the buzz of his shaver, his exacerbated huffs in the closest trying to pick the right outfit for the day. Sonny suspected this morning routine was not something Detective Carisi, Manhattan SVU, got to experience. It gave him some pleasure to know he got to be there when the other him would have probably already been out the door on his way to work.

After Rafael left, Sonny pulled the wedding notebook out of his nightstand. He turned towards the back where his honeymoon location ideas were located. According to Sonny’s notes, he had basically interviewed all their friends and family trying to determine the best place for their honeymoon. From Lucia to his Ma and Amanda to Carmen, everyone had an opinion.

Lucia had suggested Cuba so they could honeymoon and visit family. Amanda suggested they go to this B&B in Atlanta with great food and huge suite. Liv thought they should stay in New York and do some of the touristy things they never had the chance to do. Bella joked they should go to DisneyWorld and enjoy it without kids weighing them down. His Ma really wanted them to go to Italy and visit the town his great-grandparents immigrated from.

He saw some scribbled notes about Spanish speaking countries but it was unclear what he had meant. Sonny felt frustrated. He wanted their honeymoon to be perfect. Sonny grabbed his phone and began looking for plane tickets, hotels, browsing through promotions and deals. He then decided to log onto YouTube and watch a few travel videos. An hour later, he had yet to come to a decision even though all those places were beautiful and would be great for a honeymoon.

Sonny had generally avoided the internet since he had woken up. It was tough to do considering the hours of free time he found himself having. The temptation to watch videos of the incident was growing stronger each day. Sonny resisted. So far all he could remember was Rafael screaming for him and that was haunting enough.

His phone buzzed and he looked down to see a new text. His Ma had been in contact with Lucia and they were both coming over after his session with Huang. He was excited to see them both. He knew they were probably as on edge about the wedding as he was. He was glad he had good news for them.

Sonny had enough time to eat some breakfast before leaving for his session with Dr. Huang.

Dr. Huang was proud that Sonny and Rafael had come to a decision about the wedding. They talked a bit about the possible awkwardness Rafael might feel at them becoming intimate again and ways to address it. Dr. Huang was such a god-send.

“Doc, do you think it would help my memory if I watched the video incident?” Sonny asked at the end of the session.

“I thought you promised you wouldn’t? You felt pretty passionate about that yesterday.”

“Well, I…” Sonny knew the good doctor was right. He had been very adamant about not watching it but now he wasn’t so sure.

“Sonny, you have to decide for yourself if you should watch it or not. You know it makes Rafael distressed, and it may distress you as well. But one thing I learned during my time at SVU is that it is better to face trauma then bury it.”

“Ok. I’ll think about it.”

Sonny made sure to extend Dr. Huang an invitation to the wedding. He even ran some of his honeymoon ideas by him hoping to help narrow it down.

“I know you’ll be very busy this weekend with the wedding. But Sonny if you need anything, anything at all, I want you to call me.”

“Of course, doc. Thank you for everything.” Sonny was so grateful to him for listening to him ramble for the past week. They usually shook hands when they finished their sessions but Sonny went ahead and hugged the short Asian man fondly.

Lunch with his Ma and Lucia involved a lot of laughing and a bit of crying. His mother and future mother-in-law insisted on helping him choose a honeymoon location and to make sure the final details for the wedding were set.

He talked to his mothers’ about his conversation with Rafael and their third proposal.

“Well, you move fast, Dominick.”

Sonny rolled his eyes at his Ma, “Ma, we’ve been together for three years and the wedding has been in the works for months.”

“Yes, but correct me if I’m wrong but in your head, you two have only been together for two weeks. Everything seems like sunshine and roses for two weeks.”

Sonny decided not to argue with his mother in-front of Lucia. How could he explain that the love he felt went pass just memories? He knew his mother would say he was being unreasonable. And maybe he was being unreasonable. But he was a police detective, someone who relied on evidence. The evidence he had seen and heard about his and Rafael relationship pointed towards something positive.

“Sonny, you know I love you,” Lucia piped in, “ But your mother has a point.”

He could not believe his ears. Lucia, who had spent all week telling him how wonderful he and Rafi were together, was siding with his mother!

“It’s just. You are Rafael have always been very level headed. Not unromantic but very practical.” Lucia attempted to explain.

“Being impulsive, that was how you were five years ago. You learned to slow down since you met Rafael.” his mother added.

“Ma!” Sonny groaned.

“That, that right there. You haven’t groaned at me like that in years.”

Sonny felt his face heat up. “So, you’re saying I’m not mature enough to marry Rafael. But if I had my memories I would be. The old Sonny isn’t good enough for him.” He could feel himself getting more and more worked up as he spoke.

“Sweetheart.” “Hijo.”

Sonny raised his hand and motioned for them not to talk, “No. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to hear how these last five years I became a different person and that person deserves Rafael and I don’t. Just don’t!”

The lunch ended awkwardly after that. Sonny felt guilty for his outburst but both his Ma and Lucia stopped him from apologizing. They were very understanding of the stress he had been under.

After they left he wondered if maybe there had some truth in what they were implying. Had he really changed so much after five years that it would be like marrying a completely different person for Rafael? No wonder Rafael was so hesitant. Sonny just had to pull himself together for the next couple of days then he and Rafael would have their whole lives to get to know each other better.

***

The weekend ended up going much faster than Sonny expected. Their tailor fussed over them at their final fittings. He wished they had got to see each other but apparently he had asked for their fittings to be separate. He didn’t want to tell their tailor that he changed his mind because he was basically a different person now so he just dealt with it.

Rafael had definitely been more affectionate with him but only at home. Apparently hand holding in public wasn’t something they did, which Sonny learned the hard way. Sonny felt like his cheeks were permanently stained red after Rafael swatted his hand away from his when they were running errands. Several times throughout the weekend Sonny felt the weight of the loss of his memories. When he was alone during the week he could draw his own conclusions about pictures or stories he was told but being alone just him and Rafi...it was confusing. Rafael hadn’t been kidding when he had suggested that getting married now would be like marrying a stranger.

Everything seemed to be going well until the rehearsal dinner. Rafael had been tense all day and nothing Sonny said could relax him. The dinner wasn’t as small as Sonny would have liked since they both had many family members and their work family.

Lucia introduced Sonny to Rafael’s cousins and he totally blanked out on his Spanish. He couldn’t grasp any of the words to answer their questions about Rafi and himself. Luckily Lucia didn’t hang him out to drive and Rafael came over as well to help.

They had chosen a venue in Manhattan for the rehearsal dinner. Although the space was different from the church in Staten Island they figured it would be easier from their friends to attend.

Sonny had been practicing his vows non-stop since Rafael and him had decided to have the wedding. Thankfully he had found his in the wedding notebook. It had been odd to memorize words he wrote himself but didn't remember writing. When it was finally time to practice the order of ceremony, Sonny wished he hadn’t put the dinner first. The only reason he had was to accommodate the SVU squads schedule. But at this point he could care less about anyone. He was so tense, so irritated and so scared of messing everything up.

Rafael and Sonny had opted for a minimal ceremony. It was going to be quick and hopefully painless. The priest walked them through what would happen. Rafael looked nervous which made Sonny on edge.

“And then Rafael, you are going to say your vows, first, can you say the last couple of lines? We’ll leave the rest for tomorrow.” the priest smiled.

Sonny felt his stomach drop. He memorized his vows as one complete thing. There was no way he could start not at the beginning. He could barely focus on the words Rafael was saying.

“...sometimes I watch the smallest things you do and I think…” Rafael stopped. Sonny realised it was obvious he wasn’t paying attention. Oh God, it couldn’t be any worse.

“And I think I’m the luckiest man in the world…” Rafael tone’s didn’t sound happy or that he was lucky.

“Very nice, Rafael.” the priest praised. “Sonny, can we have a couple lines?”

Sonny wished to could disappear. He looked around the room, maybe not everyone noticed that he looked like he was going to vomit. The most concerned faces in the crowd were his mother, Rafael’s mother, Liv and Amanda. His Dad, Fin, even his sisters looked totally clueless to his distress, well, and Rafi’s cousins, but they didn’t even speak English.

“I, uh, I- Rafael, I-” Sonny found a spot right over Rafael’s head that he could stare at while he run the speech through his head.

The priest chuckled, thinking Sonny was some nervous blushing groom. The priest reached for Rafael and Sonny’s hands and brought them together.

“Give your man a little support.” he laughed.

Oh, God was definitely punishing Sonny for all the premarital sex he could barely remember.

“Er, everything in my life has led to you….and I can’t wait to share…” So close, he was so close. “To share my life--”

“Jesus Christ! You can’t even look me in the face.”

Sonny did not have the most shocked face, that went to the priest but Sonny was a close second. Rafael let go of Sonny’s hands.

“Sonny, when you wrote those words, they actually meant something to you. Why are we forcing this? My Sonny would never have pretended to be someone he’s not.”

Sonny felt his face flush, hotter than when he was angry at his Ma and Lucia.

“Your Sonny. Your Sonny. I could have died, Rafi! And you want to throw away everything we had away cause I can’t remember our first date or when we had sex the first time. We've had so much sex, I bet you can’t even remember when the first time was. But YOUR Sonny was so freaking perfect.” Sonny ranted. “Well, he’s gone, so it’s me or nothing!”

Sonny would never describe silence as loud. But not only was it loud, it was deafening. He couldn't believe he said those things. He couldn't believe he just yelled about his sex life in front of his priest. The first sounds after the silence were Rafi’s cousins speaking super fast in Spanish to Lucia, obviously confused about what was happening.

“Silencio, por favor.” Rafael asked. He didn’t even look at Sonny when he walked away. Sonny knew Rafael well enough to know he was a proud man, so he didn’t call after him as he walked out of the room.

He felt a hand on his arm and turned to see Amanda looking at him sympathetically.

“You should go after him.”

“But-”

“Don’t worry. We’ll take take of everything here.” she smiled.

***

Sonny opened the apartment door slowly. The only light in shining in the apartment was coming from the master bedroom.

“Rafi?”

He made his way to the bedroom and felt torn apart by what he saw. Rafael was sitting on their bed, his suitcase beside him. It was open with a few items haphazardly thrown in.

“Rafael?”

Sonny went straight to him and kneeled in front of Rafael before he even acknowledged he was there.

“Sonny. I-” Rafael glanced at his suitcase before closing it. Sonny’s presence seemed to snap Rafael out of his thoughts. As Rafael tried to stand up, Sonny placed his hands on Rafael’s hips and forced him back down on the bed.

“Please, Rafi. Let’s talk about this.” he begged.

“I can’t do this, Sonny. I can’t marry you. Not like this. I thought I could handle this. I thought of you as a substitution till I could get my Sonny back. I realise how wrong that was. It was so selfish. I can’t do that to you. Please, don’t ask me to stay.”

This time when Rafael got up, Sonny fell back to the floor and he didn’t rush to get up.

“But I love you! Isn’t that enough for you?” Sonny cried. The tears he had fought all the way from the rehearsal dinner venue to their apartment were finally coming up.

Rafael stopped at the bedroom door. Sonny could tell by his body language he was having second thoughts. Sonny stayed sitting on the floor, he was afraid if he moved too fast Rafael would bolt.

“Rafael, I can’t understand why you’re doing this.”

Sonny wiped the tears from his face. Rafael put his suitcase down and knelt on the floor next to Sonny.

“Because I can’t live a lie. You would resent me one day. I love you, but I can’t marry you tomorrow. I’m sorry.”

Sonny began to sob as Rafael ran his hand through his hair. “Please understand, Sonny. I-I just can’t do this. It would be taking advantage of you. We have been rushing this. We just need to take a step back.”

Sonny wanted to scream at him, throw things, maybe punch him, Rafael was definitely close enough for that. Instead he just sobbed as Rafael got up, grabbed his suitcase and left. The front door slamming caused Sonny to flinch.

He could hear his phone buzzing and beeping, phone calls and texts from their friends and family. But he didn’t reach for it. He allowed himself to cry freely. All the tension from the past two weeks was finally being released. He had tried so hard to remember, to make Rafael love him maybe it had been a mistake. He had tried too hard. He had pushed too much for the wedding.

In that hospital he had woken up a young Queens Detective with his whole career in front of him. Alone but happy. And then he had this whole other life thrusted on him. He felt his chest tighten as he sobbed. He thought about calling Dr. Huang maybe he could help him understand where everything went wrong. He reflected on their sessions wondering if there was something he missed.

The incident.

The cause of all this drama and turmoil between them. The attack that took away five years of memories. He was going to watch it. Any distress it would cause him was nothing compared to how he felt now.

He was going to watch it and no one was going to stop him even Rafael.

Chapter Text

Sonny felt numb as he pulled out his work laptop. He needed to see this video but ignoring his cell phone was high on his priority list. As he waited for the computer to load he ripped off his stupid fancy clothes from the rehearsal dinner. He reached into Rafael's side of the dresser and pulled out his Harvard t-shirt. As he threw on that and a pair of ratty sweats, he heard the computer beep at him. It had taken an eternity for the damn thing to boot up.

He pulled up the browser and searched through old news stories. He found a YouTube link reading, “Heroic rescue on the tracks”. Sonny took a deep breath and clicked on the link. The video was a transit surveillance tape with a fixed angle of both the track and platform. It was a bit disturbing that the someone from the transit authority had let this out.

The platform was buzzing with people but Sonny recognized himself and Rafi in the crowd instantly. They were dressed nicely with long heavy coats and scarfs. It was hard to tell from the video but it looked like they were holding hands. Sonny felt a rush of jealousy as he saw the comfortable body language between the two men, Rafael and his Sonny.

Suddenly, a young Hispanic boy was pushing at Rafi, yelling and waving a knife. The crowds around them dispersed as the knife became visible. An older woman stood off to the side, clearly not amused by the boy's threats and a young African-American teenager also stayed, leaning against a pillar, looking indifferent.

Although there was no sound on the video Sonny could remember the boy yelling at them to give him money.

“Come on, Papi,” he had said, “you can afford to help one of your own.”

Rafael calmly reach for his wallet. But Sonny watched himself get in the kid's face and forced the knife from his hand.

Sonny remembered. He remembered being so angry. He and Rafael were on their way to enjoy time with his sister. He didn't want to drive so he could enjoy a night of drinking and letting go after a brutal rape-homicide case. He was the one who had suggested the subway instead of an Uber. Then that punk had approached them and scared the people on the platform all for a quick buck that Rafael would have given him without having to be threatened.

After Sonny disarmed the kid he should have let it go but he remembered being so very angry. The video continued and he was already ashamed to remember. He pushed at the kid and screamed at him.

“What's wrong with you?!”

He should have just let him go.

The kid pushed back and Sonny fell backwards onto the tracks below. The kid ran off. Sonny remembered the pain of hitting the tracks along his spine. His head had felt like it had been spilt open.

He watched Rafael screaming for help even without the sound his screams echoed in his memories. The two bystanders, the young African-American kid and the older woman moved to Rafael who was losing it when he realised Sonny wasn't moving.

Suddenly Rafael jumps off the platform onto the track. Sonny's stomach drops as he sees Rafael realise the platform is a good foot taller than him. He sees Rafael shaking Sonny trying to get him awake. Rafael reaches behind Sonny's head and his hand comes back bloody. He watches in awe and shock as Rafael picks up Sonny's limp body struggling to get him closer to the platform. The two bystanders rush to the edge and Rafael hoists Sonny's body up high enough that that boy can grab under Sonny's arms and pull him over the top.

The older woman is pointing and becoming frantic. As Sonny watches he figures out she is yelling at Rafael that a train is coming. He watches Rafael desperately grab the edge and try to pull himself up but with no luck. The boy who pulled Sonny over seems to have lost his strength and God bless her the older woman in her 70s is attempting to help him as well. By the time Rafael gets a good grip on the edge of the platform, a beat officer has arrived and helps Rafael back onto the platform before the train arrives. Rafael looks exhausted but he goes right to Sonny and holds his head in his lap, applying pressure to the back of his head with his scarf.

The video ends abruptly, leaving Sonny wondering how long it took for EMS to get there, if the kid had been caught, and if Rafael had been able to thank the people who helped save his life.

Sonny shut his laptop and tried to decide how he felt about what he saw. He felt an emotional weight he hadn't felt when he woke up in the hospital. He knew that weight was the last five years.

His job at SVU had been the toughest and most rewarding job in his life. He remembered his transfer, his adjustment and when he first met Rafael Barba. Their feelings were slow to grow and Sonny would describe the progression of their relationship as an old school courtship. His mother had been right. They were a practical couple. That doesn't mean they weren't passionate.

Sonny remembered the first time they made love. He smiled remembering how intimate and special it had been until Sonny had accidently hit Rafael in the nose, causing his nose to bleed. It was definitely not forgettable.

The events of the night suddenly caught up with him. Rafael. The rehearsal. Sonny had to apologize to his lover. He wasn't surprised that he had tried to push things with no memory. He had always been an overeager person. But Sonny was a bit surprised that Rafael had gone along with everything, only breaking at the last minute.

He had to see Rafael and make sure he knew how much he loved him, wedding or no wedding. He considered calling Liv or Huang to ask if he had contacted them. It was getting late, already dark and freezing outside. He took a moment to think about where Rafi would go if he wanted to reflect.

Central Park. To their spot.

Sonny ran towards the apartment door. He had to find Rafi and their special place is where he would go. He noticed Rafael's coat was still on the rack as he grabbed his own.

Idiot! Sonny grabbed Rafael’s puffy black coat and and made his way to The Ramble in Central Park. The first time Rafael had taken him there was on a low-key date. Rafael explained when he was an ADA in Brooklyn, a Manhattan ADA was murdered at the Ramble. Sonny had been confused at why Rafael would bring him there for a date. The duality of the job and love life was definitely complicated. The area was stunning with rolling hills, running trails and benches. Rafael said he liked coming there to enjoy the beauty but to remind him to never stop fighting for justice.

It was dark but Sonny knew there would be a bench at the end of the clearing where the walking paths met. Sonny hoped Rafael would be there. He could have easily taken his suitcase and crashed at Liv’s. But he knew Rafael in a way he hadn’t the past couple of days. Sonny could remember Rafael’s likes, dislikes, the way he took his coffee and his face when someone, usually Sonny, was annoying him.

Sonny spotted the bench and as he had expected Rafael was sitting there with his suitcase next to him and the wedding notebook in his hands. The lamppost by the bench offered little light and Sonny couldn’t tell if Rafael could actually read it. Sonny approached slowly not wanting to scare Rafi. Part of him wanted to rush to tell Rafael that he could remember their first kiss, the birthmark on Rafi’s back and that Rafi was a notorious cuddler in bed.

Sonny’s excitement from recovering his memories was dulled by their ruined rehearsal dinner. He moved Rafael’s suitcase off the bench and sat next to him.

Sonny handed him his coat and Rafael looked at him with a shocked expression, “How did you find me?”

“I have walked past this spot everyday on my way to see Dr. Huang.” Sonny started, he moved closer to Rafael but did not touch him or let their bodies touch. “I didn’t feel anything. It was just another spot. I meant nothing to me.”

Rafael flinched when Sonny used the word ‘nothing’.

“I see.” Rafael stated. He took the notebook and handed it to Sonny, “In case you want it.” he mumbled.

“I do want it. I want everything in this. The ceremony, our mothers crying, my Dad giving me away, Liv and Amanda by our side, a crazy Italian style reception, our first dance as husbands... I want everything I dreamed about. All of it.”

Rafael avoided making eye contact as he listened.

“But most importantly, I want you Rafi. I want to build a life with you. The man who kissed me in Liv’s office after I had been wrecked by an undercover mission. You, the one who puts a blanket over me when I fall asleep on the couch. My Rafi, who is generous in the bedroom and knows all my insecurities. Mi vida, you are just that, my life.”

Rafael eyes widen, “You remember?”

“Yeah, I remember. I mean, Rafi, even without my memories, I knew I couldn’t let you go.”

There was a comfortable silence between them. Sonny closed the space between them and laid his head on Rafael’s shoulder. It was an awkward angle for the tall detective but all he wanted was to be close to his finace. Rafael moved his left arm to allow Sonny to rest more comfortably. His left hand resting on Sonny’s upper arm.

“I thought you were dead.” Rafael whispered.

“What?” Sonny wanted to move but Rafael held him in place.

“When I saw you on the tracks. I thought you were dead. I thought my entire life was over.”

There was sadness and despair in Rafael’s voice that made Sonny begin to tear up.

“Rafi, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have fought with-”

“No.” Rafael interrupted sharply, “Don’t apologize, please, mi sol.”

At the use of his favorite nickname Sonny turned his head to place a light kiss to Rafael’s jaw.

“While you were sleeping in the hospital, I told myself if you woke up, I would do everything in my power to make you happy. That I would never cause you any pain. And then I walked out of our rehearsal dinner.”

“Rafael, please,” Sonny felt his tears start to fall again and smiled weakly when Rafael began to wipe them away. His hand was absolutely freezing but Sonny didn’t care.

“You stuck by me even though in my mind you were a complete stranger. If that’s not doing everything in your power to make me happy, I don’t know what more you could do.” Sonny enjoyed the feel of Rafael’s coat under his head, smooth and warm. He slowly reached for Rafael’s tie, still in a tight knot from the rehearsal dinner. He loosened it and unbuttoned the top buttons of Rafael’s shirt. He kissed his neck eagerly, tasting Rafael’s skin. It was just like he remembered. He paused and sat up so they could look at each other.

“Rafi, te amo. We don’t need to get married for that to be true. I’m sorry I pushed the whole thing.”

Sonny feels his wedding notebook slip from his lap. He moved to catch it but Rafael grabbed him, crushing his mouth against Sonny’s.

Sonny felt like he was on fire. Rafael’s kisses were wet and desperate. Sonny gripped onto the back of Rafael’s head trying to close any amount of space that was left between them. The cool air blowing through the park was a wonderful contrast to the heat between them.

Sonny was the first to notice the unsubtle cough and a bright light shining on them.

“G-Gentlemen.”

Sonny turned around on the bench. “Geesh, put that light out.” Sonny exclaimed as he raised his hand over his eyes.

“S-Sirs. I’m gonna have to ask you to go somewhere else.”

Sonny looked over the beat cop, he had to be fresh out of the academy. Thankfully, the kid did turn out his light. Sonny realized he was basically in Rafael’s lap.

“Detective Carisi, Manhattan Special Victims Unit, badge number 0188.” Sonny declared pulling away from Rafi and reaching for his badge, he hoped was still in his jacket pocket.

“OH, I’m so sorry, Detective. I didn’t mean to disrupt your date.” Although it was dark Sonny could tell the kid was blushing. Sonny wasn’t sure if his blush was caused by Rafael’s appearance or his own disheveled state.

“We will relocate, officer.” Rafael said crisply.

Rafael reached for his suitcase and Sonny was surprised when Rafael reached for his hand. “Let’s go home. We need to rest for the wedding tomorrow.”

“The wedding? But-”

“Wow, congratulations guys!” the beat cop piped up. Definitely a new recruit, this youth was apparent in his voice. “Sorry for interrupting for your evening, gentlemen!"

"Oh!” the officer reached towards the ground, picking up the wedding notebook then handing it to Sonny.

“Don’t forget this!” the kid officer exclaimed.

Sonny smiled, leaning in to give Rafael a chaste kiss. “I won’t.”