A wave of discomfort fell over him, sending Rafael moaning into his pillow. He absolutely hated being sick, but what he hated even more was being so sick he couldn’t do anything except lay there helplessly steeped in misery. He moaned once more just for good measure.
Cool fingers at the back of his neck made him jump. He blearily tried to focus his eyes but could only just make out the mop of hair and pale skin, and — his head fell heavily back to the pillow.
“Shhh,” a thickly-accented voice whispered soothingly to him. The fingers moved from his sweaty neck to his even sweatier forehead. “I’ve got ya. You’re gonna be alright.”
“Sonny?” He mumbled, unconsciously nuzzling into the man’s hand. The mattress dipped as the detective scooted closer to him. “What’re you doing?”
“Taking care of the man I love,” Sonny said. Rafael could hear the smile in his voice. “When’s the last time you had something other than cough syrup to drink?”
Rafael grunted in response, jerking his upper body in an attempt to shrug.
“I’m gonna go get you some.”
“Don’t leave.” His words slurred together, but Sonny seemed to understand him all the same.
“I’ll be right back.”
Those magic fingers left, soft lips briefly replacing them, and his bed shifted as the other occupant left it. Rafael allowed his eyes to drift closed, a small smile on his face.
When he opened them again, the room was still dark, and there was no water at his nightstand. The spot next to him was cold, and he briefly revelled in the feel of the sheets pressed against his burning skin, but their comfort quickly diminished as he remembered what he was looking for.
“Sonny,” he tried calling out, his voice weak and raspy, his throat dry. With a completely undignified whine, he slid out of bed onto shaky legs, holding onto furniture and walls as he made his way out of the room.
The lights were off in the rest of the apartment, causing him to nearly trip over something he could've sworn hadn’t been there before. Must be something his boyfriend had brought home, he thought.
His refrigerator kicked on and he made his way slowly and cautiously to it. Light filtered in through the small kitchen window blinds, glinting off of a glass on the counter. With as much concentration as he could muster in his stuffy head, he grabbed it and pushed it onto the lever in the fridge’s door, leaning against it and panting as it dispensed water.
Water running over his fingers snapped him out of his trance. He brought the cup to his lips, liquid sloshing over the sides, and greedily drank until his stomach began to protest. A crash made him blink, and he stared down unseeingly at the glass shattered across the tile floor and the water soaking into his socks. Without giving it another thought, he turned back towards his bedroom.
He had no idea where his boyfriend had gone, but his phone, he was pretty sure, was on his nightstand. At least, that’s where it usually was — he couldn’t remember much past the last ten minutes.
With unsteady steps, he made his way back to where he’d come from, clutching at the walls even more than he had been as the room began spinning, his stomach churning violently.
Standing in his doorway, he blinked, and when he opened his eyes again he was on the floor next to his bed, cell phone in his hand. The harsh light of its screen had him squinting as he pulled up Sonny’s number.
“Rafael,” Sonny answered in a cheery voice that was equal parts head-pounding and soothing. “How’re ya feeling?”
“You forgot my water,” he croaked.
“I’m at work,” Sonny said slowly.
Rafael didn’t care how pathetic the whining noise currently emitting from him was; he was miserable, dammit, he was allowed to be pathetic.
Or, something. He wasn’t sure, his brain didn’t seem to be working right at all.
“You’re supposed be taking care of me,” he said. That didn’t sound right either, but he didn’t have the energy to correct his own grammar.
He groaned in frustration.
“You were in bed. You said you were getting me water. You left me.” Well that crossed from pathetic to petulant, but he still didn’t have the energy to care. “Come home,” he pleaded, last shred of dignity drowning in the bile turning in his stomach. “I need you.”
“I—I—okay, yeah, I’ll be there soon.”
Sonny said something else, but he could no longer process the spoken word nor keep his eyes open, slipping off into sleep again with his love’s voice in his ear.
Vaguely he could hear his lock turn, lumbering footsteps wandering around until they got close, light turning on as they rushed up to him.
That voice, though loud, sounded so good to Rafael’s ears that he wanted to drape it over himself.
Strong arms scooped him up and deposited him gently on the bed.
“Hey, buddy, c’mon, you’re startin’ to scare me.”
There were those magic fingers again, rubbing across his cheeks and pushing the hair that was plastered to his brow back. They didn’t stay there though, and their disappearance pulled him further into the present.
A rush of breath in relief and they were back, this time much calmer.
“You were startin’ to worry me there.”
Rafael, afraid that Sonny would take his hand away again if he didn’t respond, mustered up the energy to grunt.
“Saw the mess you made in the kitchen. When's the last time you had anything to eat or drink? And when did you take anything for this fever? You're burning up.”
That was way too much for Rafael to try processing with his current state of mind. The only thing he knew was he felt so much better with Sonny touching him.
“Well I’m gonna go try getting you some without impaling myself.”
He shot up and he grabbed for Sonny, whether in an attempt to keep him from leaving again or because his abdomen had begun violently spasming as his stomach contents traveled upwards, he wasn’t sure.
Every muscle in his body clenched as he retched over the side of the bed. He was barely able to glimpse the mess he’d made on the floor before it started again.
An arm wrapped around him, Sonny’s voice low and soothing in his ear.
“Shh, I gotcha, it’ll be over soon, you’re gonna be alright.”
“Fuck,” Rafael panted, collapsing into Sonny’s side.
“Feel any better?”
His stomach started seizing again even though there was no longer anything to bring up. This episode was shorter than the prior two, and after just a few more dry heaves, he was able to breathe again.
“Don’t leave again, please.”
“I’ll stay here until we’re sure nothin’ else is coming up, don’t worry. Someone has to hold the trash for you.” Blearily, Rafael peeked out from behind wet eyelashes to see the can he kept next to the nightstand in Sonny’s lap, top angled towards him, revealing some of his stomach’s prior contents. “But then someone really does need to clean up. I’m not sure how good that all is for hardwood floors, you know?”
“Sorry,” Rafael said quietly. His eyes slipped closed again and he started sagging in Sonny’s hold, the feeling of being held better than any pain medicine.
“Don’t worry about it, alright? Just rest.”
He didn't put up any resistance, not even when Sonny began repositioning him until he was laying down on the bed again, blankets being tucked in around him. The last thing he registered before he passed out was his hair being lightly brushed off of his forehead, the hand lingering just a moment longer than necessary.
Everything after that fell into a hazy blur of warm soup, cool touches, fresh sheets, clean clothes, water, medicine, a solid chest that was better than any pillow Rafael had ever had, and a sweet, loving voice in his ear keeping him company with one-sided conversations and soothing — if off-key — songs.
When the haze finally lifted, Rafael found himself face down on his bed under a light blanket, head no longer threatening to explode and stomach calmed. The smell of food drifted into his now clear nose, and in no time at all he was out of bed and searching for the source.
“Hey there, sleepy head.” Sonny beamed at him as Rafael plopped onto one of his bar stools. “Want some grub?”
Rafael nodded, gratefully accepting a cup of coffee and a plate piled high with food. He took a sip and his stomach growled in hunger immediately. Eager to taste regular food now that his body was ready for it, he shoveled a forkful of eggs into his mouth, barely taking the time to taste it before swallowing.
“Easy there, cowboy,” Sonny said, chuckling. “You’ make yourself sick, you’re cleaning it up this time.”
“How long have I been out for?” He asked around a mouthful of toast.
“Including the first day before I started taking care of you? Three, give or take.”
“Jesus.” He hadn’t had a bug that lasted more than a day in quite some time.
“This level of ego from someone who’s spent nearly half a week laying in their own drool,” Sonny grinned. Rafael rolled his eyes in an over exaggerated fashion, landing them on the clothes Sonny was wearing.
“Are those mine?’
“Yeah. Didn’t have anything else to wear, and figured you wouldn’t mind after you threw up all over my shirt.”
Rafael paused, a quip about Sonny’s wardrobe choices on the tip of his tongue, as pieces of the last couple days slammed together in his mind. He silently turned to Sonny, who clearly knew what he’d just realized.
“I am so sorry, Sonny.”
Sonny shrugged, leaning back against the sink and drinking from his own mug. At first glance, he looked nonchalant, but Rafael knew him well enough to see in his eyes that he wasn’t.
“It’s not a big deal.”
“It is. It was inappropriate, and I apologize if I made you feel uncomfortable in any way.”
Warmth bloomed under his skin, this time thankfully not from the fever.
“Sorry,” Sonny said sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head, a pink tint to his cheeks.
“Well, comparatively speaking, it’s pretty tame to what I’ve asked you to do. How did you come up with it?”
“You were insistent that I call you that, and I kinda got used to it.”
He opened his mouth, but Sonny cut him off.
“Hey, no more apologies. Fevers do weird things. I remember when Bella got the chickenpox, she got it so bad she was convinced we were like, aliens or something.”
Rafael ate more food to distract himself from the crinkles that framed the corners of Sonny’s eyes.
“Did you feed into that?”
“I am a gentleman ,” Sonny said with a smirk. “My older sisters on the other hand…” He waggled his eyebrows, baby blues sparkling with mirth.
They sat — or stood, in Sonny’s case — in comfortable silence, Rafael finishing off his breakfast with an appreciative smack of the lips.
“That was delicious. Thank you.” He put extra weight into those two words in an attempt to convey how grateful he was for everything Sonny had done for him.
“No problem. Really,” Sonny straightened and crossed the kitchen in one step of a long leg. He leaned down on the counter across from Rafael so they were at eye level. “It wasn’t a problem at all. And, uh,” He briefly averted his eyes, rubbing a hand over his lips. “You know, it doesn’t have to be a problem at all.”
Rafael raised his cup, almost as if a shield.
“If this is a ‘pray the gay away’ pitch—”
“What? No!” Sonny’s fingers wrapped around Rafael’s wrist, the weight lowering the coffee from his face. “That’s not what I meant!”
Their faces were extremely close, Rafael realized, and Sonny’s pale skin was in sharp contrast to his own darker complexion.
“If—if it was more than just a fever thing.”
He thought back over the last forty-eight hours —or, at least, over the parts he could remember —and how Sonny fit so seamlessly into his home that when he’d finally regained lucidity earlier, it hadn’t even occurred to him to question the man’s presence in his kitchen.
“Well, if you were able to put up with me when I’m ill like that, you could have staying power.”
Sonny snorted, his hand trailing down Rafael’s arm to rest at his elbow, leaving goosebumps in its wake.
“Then it’s gonna be your turn to be put to the test,” he said. “‘Cause I’m sure you’ve given me your bug by now.”
“Is that so?” Rafael leaned forward, feeling more energized than a single cup of coffee could provide. “Then it doesn’t matter if I do this, does it?”
“I did have you brush your teeth before bed,” Sonny murmured, their lips barely brushing.
“You make a very good nurse.”
Eyes fluttering, Sonny groaned and Rafael could no longer hold himself back. It was passionate, hot, delici—
Sonny sniggered into his mouth. He immediately pulled back, eyebrow raised.
“Sorry, sorry,” Sonny said into his fingers in an attempt to stifle the spurts of laughter that were still escaping. “I just got a mental image of you in a nurse’s uniform.”
Only years of schooling his expression in the courtroom saved the disapproving look on his face. At least, until Sonny devolved into thoroughly undignified giggles.
“I bet you’d pull one off quite nicely, though,” Rafael said after their laughter had subsided. “You should get one for next time.”
The blush from lack of oxygen turned a brighter shade of pink across Sonny’s face.
“You should, uh, go take a shower,” he stammered.
“Only if you join me.”
Pink began turning to red.
“You just got over the flu, you need to get your strength back.”
“Sonny, I’ve been laying in bed for three days, covered in sweat and moaning, and not in the fun way,” he grinned lecherously. He could already tell that getting Sonny all flustered was going to be his new favorite past time. God, he felt like he was ten years younger, maybe more.
“You’ve been a good patient so far, c’mon, Rafi.”
“And don’t good patients get rewards? Don’t good patients get,” he picked up the hand that Sonny had resting on the counter nearest him and slowly brought it up to his face. “Lollipops?”
He took Sonny’s first two fingers and sucked them into his mouth, all the way down to their last knuckle, hollowing out his cheeks and swirling his tongue around and between them as he pulled them back out, flicking his tongue over their pads before releasing them with a soft but very audible pop . All while staring Sonny straight in the eye.
“Fuck,” Sonny said, looking absolutely wrecked.
“That was what I was hoping for.”
“Fuck,” he repeated.
“Are we going to do it, or just keep talking about it?”
“Yeah, okay. Uh, dishes…”
Rafael huffed and rolled his eyes. Hopping off the barstool, he rounded the counter, making no effort to mask the huge tent in his pants. Sonny immediately zeroed in on it, mouth open in what he assumed was awe. All the dirty things he could do with those pink lips rushed through his mind, and he wasted no time in plugging the sink, squirting in some soap, throwing in the plates and pans, and turning it on high until the soapy water filled the basin.
“There.” He said with a tone of finality. “Now take off your clothes and get in the shower.”
Sonny allowed himself to be turned and pushed towards the bathroom in halting steps. Unable to resist, Rafael gave a good solid swat to Sonny’s ass, causing the man to jump and yelp. Sonny looked wide-eyed at him over his shoulder, and Rafael just couldn't stop himself from manhandling his new lover until he had him pinned with his back against a wall, lips crushed together again.
“Are we going to make it to the shower?” Sonny asked between kisses.
Rafael groaned in frustration as he was suddenly reminded of how long it'd been since he'd been able to wash the sweat, and grime, and cloying smell of sickness off himself. “Yeah, we have to. At least, I do.”
“I wasn't gonna say anything ‘cause it's not your fault you smell like that.”
“Yeah, you're the one who should've been giving me sponge baths this whole time.”
Sonny rolled his eyes in mock exasperation.
“I'll just add that to the list. Next time Rafael gets sick, I have to make sure to wear a nurse’s uniform and give you sponge baths. Any other demands?”
“Really?” At Rafael’s nod, he sighed, adjusting himself against the wall and resting his hands on Rafael’s hips. “Alright, shoot.”
“Hold me more.”
Sonny’s eyes softened and he leaned forward to rest their foreheads together.
“I can do that.”
“Good.” He let his hands travel up Sonny’s back, bringing them to a stop spread over the strong muscles corded over his shoulder blades. “You know I am extremely grateful for everything you’ve done, right?”
“Yes, Rafi, I know.”
A thought occurred to him.
“How did you get this much time off with SVU being understaffed?”
“Hah, well, Fin told me he’d take care of it with Liv cause, in his words, ‘I’m not training another ADA’.”
“It got you here, that’s all that matters anyways.”
“Yeah,” Sonny said, lifting his hands from Rafael’s midsection to his cheeks. “I’m here.”
Their kiss, slower and deeper than before, felt so much better than he’d ever imagined it would, fever dream or otherwise. Sonny was here, in his apartment, in his arms, in his life, and he was going to keep it that way for as long as he could.
“Yes,” he agreed, “you are.”