It had taken months for Sonny Carisi and Rafael Barba to get together, some may have said years even, they had been dating for almost six months when Rafael received the news. Sonny was in his kitchen preparing dinner when he heard a loud banging on his door.
"Open up Sonny, it's me," Barba's familiar voice came through the wooden door.
Sonny quickly checked through the peephole before letting his boyfriend into his apartment. Rafael stormed through the door and rounded on Sonny with a pointed finger. Instinctively the younger man backed away.
"Everything okay Raf?" He tried to keep the nerves out of his voice.
The look on Rafael's face was incredulous. "No I'm not fine." He began to pace back and forth. "I was passed over for the EADA job-"
"Rafael, I am so sor-"
Rafael ignored Sonny. "Some man ten years my junior will be moving into the office from Chicago."
"Okay," Sonny was unsure how to respond.
"Okay?" Rafael raised a single brow. "That's all you can say?"
Sonny flushed red and then rushed back to the kitchen throwing a comment over his shoulder. "I need to get back to dinner otherwise it will burn."
"What can I say to make it better Rafi?" Sonny asked his partner. "You tell me and I will say it."
Sonny swore even though he couldn't see it he could feel Rafael's eye roll from across the room.
Rafael's tone turned needy. Sonny."
The detective ignored his tone and continued to cook dinner for the two of them. "Rafael, calm down and we'll talk over dinner."
Sonny quickly finished the food and piled two plates with steaming hot risotto. Carried them to the pre-set table and gestured for Rafael to come and sit down. When they had finally started to eat Sonny prompted Rafael to continue. "So what's really wrong?"
"This isn't how I planned things Sonny," Rafael said quietly. "I was supposed to win the position and we could have disclosed in a few months."
"We still can," Sonny forced a gentle smile.
Rafael's response was too quiet. "Maybe."
"I've been an ADA for more than ten years now and I'm no closer to where I was when I started," Rafael said quietly, his tone was even.
"That's not true, you have a big office, your conviction rate is good," Sonny knew his argument was weak.
Rafael's smile was gentle. "It was good before I started taking on Manhattan SVU cases."
Sonny held back a bitter comment. He searched his brain before finally saying, "So what does this mean for us?"
"What do you mean by that?" Rafael sounded genuinely curious.
Sonny couldn't keep the worry from his voice. "Is this over?"
"No of course not," Rafael grabbed the younger man's hand with his own. "I'm just going to start looking into other career paths."
"Crossing over to the dark side?" Sonny joked lightly.
Rafael scoffed. "Could you see me as a Defense Attorney?"
"Sonny!" The older man admonished.
Sonny felt a faint smile creep across his face. "You'll let me know what you decide?"
Rafael bought the hand he was holding up to his mouth and pressed a gentle kiss against the back of it. "Of course."
The restaurant was fancier than Sonny was used to, he felt underdressed and out of place. Rafael told him he looked fine, Sonny assumed the man was humouring him. It had been three months since their previous conversation and Rafael looked nervous.
Halfway through their meal Sonny had enough and just blurted out, "Why are you so nervous?”
"I've been offered a job," Rafael began, his voice soft and low. "I haven't accepted it yet, but I would like to."
"Congratulations," A smile blossomed across the detective's face.
"It's in San Francisco," Rafael continued quietly. "Working as an EADA."
Sonny could have sworn his heart stopped for a moment. He stopped eating and looked at his partner who was looking back with a pleading expression. Sonny felt numb. "San Francisco? But that's on the west coast."
The corner of the attorney's mouth twitched into a smirk. "I am aware of that fact."
Sonny broke Rafael's gaze, he wanted to look at anything but the man.
"I was wondering if-" the older man hesitated. "If you would be interested in moving with me?"
Sonny's head whipped up. "Wait what?"
Rafael asked again, his tone still tentative. "If I take the job, would you come with me?"
A hundred thoughts and feelings ran through Sonny’s head. They hadn’t even been dating a year and Rafael already wanted Sonny to move across country with him? Move away from his friends, his job, his family, to start a new life together- Sonny felt overwhelmed. “Rafael-”
“Think about it,” Rafael’s smile looked forced. “That’s all I ask.”
Sonny forced his own smile. “I will.”
The couple finished their meal in relative silence, neither of them willing to once again bring up the possibility of moving. As they were leaving the restaurant Sonny’s frustration got the better of him. “No matter what I decide you should go.”
“You haven’t been happy here for a long time,” Sonny grabbed Rafael’s hand with his own. “Don’t let me hold you back. After all, we can always try the long distance thing.”
Rafael had been living in San Francisco for two months when the reality of their situation hit Sonny. It had been three weeks since their one year anniversary, and they still hadn’t celebrated. Initially Sonny was supposed to fly over but a case went south and as SVU was still understaffed he missed his flight. Now two weeks later as Sonny was getting ready to leave work a text from Rafael appeared on the screen of his phone.
Sorry, trial ran over and I missed my flight. Not going to be able to reschedule. Will call later.
Sonny typed out a quick reply before he threw his phone across his desk in a huff. Rollins raised an eyebrow at his display. “Trouble in paradise?”
“Rafael was supposed to fly over this evening but it looks like he won't be able to make it,” Sonny sighed.
“Long distance is hard Sonny,” Amanda kept her tone gentle. “No one would blame you-”
“Just drop it okay,” Sonny snapped at his colleague who raised her hands up in defeat.
He didn’t want to admit it to himself, but maybe Amanda was right. It had only been two months and he ached for Rafael, but would he still miss him in a month, in six months even? His phone pinged indicating another message had arrived, Sonny lit up at the words that appeared.
I miss you.
Dominick Carisi’s 60th birthday was full of loud, happy laughter and even louder music. And Sonny was missing it.
He sat in his childhood bedroom skyping with Rafael, the tiny video of the older man filled Sonny’s heart with warmth and his stomach with butterflies. Six months into Rafael living in San Francisco Sonny still missed him painfully.
He had managed to visit for a week three months after Rafael had moved to the city. They had spent their nights in bed and Sonny had explored the city. Rafael managed to organise a day off which they spent sipping over priced wine in Napa Valley. Sonny had never seen the prosecutor more relaxed than when they were sharing a glass of cabernet at the Castello di Amorosa. When Sonny had to return to New York he had almost missed his flight sharing long kisses and an even longer goodbye.
Six weeks later Rafael had managed to fly over and spent two nights in Sonny’s bed. All too soon he had to leave and the hole in Sonny’s heart grew. His friends kept telling him that it was okay to break up, that sometimes good things must end, but everytime Rafael texted him his day got a little brighter. That didn’t help the feeling that he was missing something.
“I wanted to let you know I won't be able to get time off till June,” Rafael’s tone was sad. “Any chance you can come here?”
Sonny forced a smile. “I can ask Lieu, but it may be better coming from you.”
Rafael chuckled. “I can try and-”
A loud pounding followed by a moan interrupted their conversation. “Sonny.”
“I’m busy Gina,” Sonny shouted back.
That didn't deter his sister. “You’re missing the party!”
“I should get going anyway,” Rafael sighed.
“Enjoy the party,” the prosecutor smiled. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
Sonny said a quick goodbye before he turned his phone off and opened the door. Gina was standing there, drunk and laughing her head off. Sonny glared at her before he stormed downstairs just in time to watch his mother's toast. He spent the rest of the night with a smile plastered across his face and a half empty beer in hand.
When Sonny’s father lifted a glass to his wife, his children, his grandchild and to Bella’s husband Sonny felt his heart ache for Rafael. The man should be standing beside him, rolling his eyes while secretly smiling into his scotch. If Sonny concentrated hard he could feel the ghost of the man’s hand on the small of his back. He reached into his pocket and fired off a quick text to the prosecutor.
Wish you were here.
Rafael’s response was instantaneous.
Sonny had managed to get some time off work and was able to spend a weekend with Rafael in San Francisco. They lay in bed, legs tangled, discussing their future and how they would spend it together. In June Rafael spent two weeks in New York, that was when he introduced Sonny to his mother, the two of them hit it off instantaneously which made Rafael’s departure a little easier.
A few days later Sonny found himself on the floor of his baby sister’s apartment playing with his niece. He tried not to mope too much around his family, of course Bella and Tommy arguing in the corner didn’t help his mood.
“Maybe you should take this elsewhere Bells,” he said coolly. “Sofia doesn’t need to hear you guys argue.”
“Keep out of this Sonny,” Bella snarled.
“You can’t handle your own relationship so stop trying to meddle in mine,” Bella snapped at him, causing both her husband and brother to freeze.
Tommy stepped forward. “Bella, maybe you should-”
“I think Sofia needs to go to the park Tommy,” Bella said coolly.
Sofia squealed for joy. “Park!”
Sonny watched Tommy gather Sofia’s things before he grabbed the girl from his brother in law. He threw one last look at the squabbling siblings before making a hasty exit out the door. After a couple of minutes Bella turned her gaze back to her brother.
“Why don’t you just move to San Francisco?” Bella moved to the couch and sat down. She gestured at Sonny to do the same.
Sonny groaned as he slumped onto the couch. “It’s not that simple Bells.”
“Why not?” She asked.
Sonny forced a grim smile. “Well we’re short staffed at work-”
“How is that your problem?” Bella sounded incredulous.
Sonny tried to explain. “I would feel bad to leave them without someone to replace me-”
“Didn’t two new detectives recently start?” She interrupted again.
Sonny couldn’t help the annoyed look that crept on his face. Bella never understood.“Yes, but-”
“See, you can easily move.” Clearly she didn’t want to hear it.
Sonny tried a new tactic. “I’d still need to find a job.”
“You can start looking now and keep looking once you move.” Once again Bella’s answer sounded logical which rubbed Sonny the wrong way.
As long as she wasn’t talking to their sisters, she gave good advice. Unfortunately it was a Carisi curse to make irrational decisions when overly emotional. It was in their blood, inherited from both their parents.
On that thought Sonny tried again. “But what about mom and dad?” Normally he was the one who went over to help them out.
“They will be fine, we’re all here.” Bella just rolled her eyes. “Besides, they’ll have an excuse to travel to California regularly.”
“But what about you? And Amanda?” He knew he was clinging to straws now.
His little sister just laughed. “We will survive without you constantly coming round to babysit.”
“Sonny, now you’re just making excuses.” She interrupted, her tone serious. “What are you really worried about.”
He had so many worries, that he would hate it, that Rafael would hate having him there. That the older man would get sick of him, that they would fall out of love.
Sonny chose his answer wisely. “That’ll I’ll move there and Rafael will get sick of me.”
His voice started to shake. “We were only dating a few months before he moved-”
“Almost a year,” Bella inserted smoothly. She had completely derailed Sonny’s thoughts.
Bella continued. “You had been dating almost eleven months when he moved.”
“We still weren’t serious-” Sonny whispered.
“Sonny,” Bella groaned, clearly holding back another laugh. “He asked you to move to the other side of the country with him, how much more serious can you get?”
“Oh.” Her words clicked in Sonny’s head, he had never considered that.
“Yes, oh,” and this time Bella laughed.
“Still, what if I get there and we fight constantly and break up?” Sonny knew his protest was weak, he could already feel hope.
Bella continued, a bright smile across her face. “I can’t promise that you won’t fight, I have had to live with you after all-”
“Ha ha,” Sonny rolled his eyes.
Bella ignored her brother. “But if you were going to break up, wouldn’t you have done so by now?”
“You’re right,” Sonny felt a smile bloom across his face.
“You should know by now that I am always right,” her tone was cocky. “So when are you going to tell Rafael?”
“I’m going to call him tonight.”
Sonny was more nervous that he probably needed to be. He had checked the time twice to make sure he was calling outside of standard business hours, he had cooked himself dinner and made sure the kitchen was spotless. He checked the time, half ten, if Sonny was lucky Rafael would be home by now if not alone in his office. He grabbed his phone and started up a video call, his heart stuttered with each ring.
“Sonny,” Rafael’s voice was as warm as his smile.
Sonny couldn't help but grin back. “Hi Rafi, how are you?”
“Tired,” the prosecutor groaned. “Still at work.”
Sonny could tell, familiar books lined the shelves behind Rafael. He let out a chuckle, “You work too hard.”
“It’s because I have no one to drag me home,” Rafael didn’t realise that his words spurred Sonny on.
Sonny took a deep breath. “So I’ve been thinking...” He trailed off
“What is it?” Rafael prodded.
Sonny couldn’t help but just blur out his response. “Is the offer still on the table?”
“What offer?” Sonny could hear the amused confusion in the prosecutor's tone.
Sonny’s voice shook. “For me to move to San Francisco.”
“You want to move?” The light happy sound of Rafael’s voice was all Sonny needed to know he had made the right decision. He watched as Rafael’s smile grew wider.
All of Sonny’s nervousness had evaporated and was replaced by joy. “Yes.”
“That’s wonderful,” Rafael sounded giddy. “Of course I want you to move here.”
“And live with you?” Sonny already knew the answer.
Rafael just raised an eyebrow before he continued. “Of course. What changed your mind?”
Sonny took a deep breath. “We’ve been apart for a year now and I still miss you. Talking to you is the highlight of my day and it’s getting harder to let you go.”
Rafael’s face was flushed red, his eyes were full of awe. “Sonny-”
“I love you Rafael, so much. I can’t wait till we’re together again.”
“I love you too.” Rafael’s words warmed Sonny’s heart. “I am so happy you have decided to live here, with me.”
They spent the evening making plans, before Rafael had to go. And when the prosecutor called back to video chat later that evening for less innocent activities, Sonny couldn’t help but comply. When they were both sated, happy, and further I love yous were whispered, Sonny still refused to hang up the phone. Instead he allowed himself to be lulled to sleep by Rafael’s heavy breathing and dreams of when they would finally be together.
It had taken Sonny three months to get his things together, find a suitable position within the SFPD and actually make the move. When he finally stepped off the plane at San Francisco airport and into Rafael's arms he knew he made the right choice. After the honeymoon period wore off there were arguments, but after a couple of months they had sorted out the kinks and before Sonny knew it he had been living with Rafael for almost three years.
Yes it had been a difficult start, but now it was their five year anniversary and the engagement ring was weighing heavily in Sonny’s pocket. All he had to do was ask.