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i'll love you (if i don't have to)

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Sonny’s always wondered what he’d see before he died. His family, maybe? All the people he couldn’t save? Nothing?

 

But then he’s standing in a room of scaffolding and plastic paper, in the middle of Cole’s farmhouse, trying to save Quinn. But then he’s standing in a room of scaffolding and plastic paper, gun to his forehead, and all he can think about is Amanda. Amanda and Jesse, that’s all he sees.

 

Amanda, in the morning sun, stretching beside him as they wake up to Jesse, happily babbling in the crib.

 

Jesse laughing as Sonny tosses her in the air, Amanda smiling softly at the both of them from the kitchen counter as Sonny cooks breakfast, Jesse on his hip.

 

Sonny rocking Jesse slowly to sleep every night while he and Amanda watch some horrible reality TV show. She’s always loved the stupid reality shows, and Sonny just prays no one ever shows her General Hospital or any of the other soaps that his mom used to watch.

 

Sonny remembers all the nights that he cooks dinner for the three of them, and Frannie sits under the table with her head on his knee, begging for table food.

 

Sonny remembers all the warm New York mornings  out in the park, Amanda pushing Jesse in her stroller and Sonny walking Frannie.

 

And then the gun goes off. The gun goes off, or maybe it isn’t Cole’s gun, because there’s something warm and wet on Sonny’s face and he’s opening his eyes - he’s opening his eyes. He’s alive .

 

Cole drops dead in front of him.

 

Olivia stands there, tense, as she lowers her gun. Olivia looks immediately to Sonny, and he thinks she asks if he’s okay. He manages a nod, and she rushes to check on Quinn, who’s screaming through the duct tape on her mouth. Sonny walks numbly from the room. The blood on his face begins to cool. Sonny can still hear Quinn’s sobs as he descends the stairs, blood reddening the vision in his right eye.

 

But then he gets outside, and the inexplicable pain of almost dying, the weight of seeing death staring him in the face, starts to fade. Because there she is. There she is, tears she would never openly shed in her eyes. There she is, staring at him like a ghost and Sonny realizes that she heard the gunshot, probably. That she didn’t know what the hell was going on. That he’s standing in front of her covered in someone else’s blood, looking like hell.

 

“Manda.” He whispers, and they’re yards apart but she hears it clear as day, he knows. And he can’t move, he’s stuck like cement to the ground, but she isn’t and she crosses the distance in a split second. She has her arms around his neck, on tiptoe to hug him, and his own shaky arms wrap around her waist. Sonny presses his face into the curve of her neck and squeezes his eyes shut and tries to just be for a second, because he’d known for a moment there, he’d been so sure, that he was about to die. And all he could think about in that moment was Amanda. Amanda, and how they hadn’t had enough time. And how he’d never really made things official. They spent all their time together and slept in the same bed together and slept together, and Sonny and Amanda and Jesse were almost like a unit by now, but they’d never put a word to it.

 

Then Sonny had stared at death and realized he didn’t want to die losing something that didn’t have a title.

 

“Are you alright?” Amanda whispers against his ear, and Sonny just tightens his grip on Amanda’s waist.

 

“Better now.”


 

For the stress of those 15 minutes, the rest of the day speeds by. In a blur, Sonny is suddenly sitting on Amanda’s couch, freshly showered and holding Jesse, as she grabs the “stress ice cream” from the freezer. One of her favorite (ridiculous) reality TV shows is on, and Sonny, for the day he’s had, is at peace.

 

When Amanda returns and hands him a spoon, he takes it silently. The only sound in the room for ten minutes is Jesse cooing on Sonny’s lap and the talking on the television.

 

“You okay?” Amanda speaks up. Sonny looks up at her, brow furrowed.

 

“What?”

 

Amanda rolls her eyes. “Lisa Vanderpump just steamrolled Kim and you didn’t say a word. You hate Kim. Again, Sonny, you okay?”

 

“Yeah, yeah, I think I’m okay.” Sonny says.

 

Amanda frowns, searches his face, and Sonny knows she can read him like a book, but she doesn’t push. “Okay.”

 

Another five minutes pass in relative silence.

 

And then Sonny says it, without considering his words for real.

 

“I love you.”

 

Amanda freezes, spoon full of ice cream halfway to her mouth. Slowly, she puts the spoon in the half empty pint of ice cream and turns to face Sonny.

 

“What?” she asks.

 

“I love you.” Sonny repeats, and his voice sounds more sure now.

 

“Sonny-” Amanda says, but he holds up a hand.

 

“Today, in that house, Cole had me dead to rights. Gun to my forehead, and he was gonna pull the trigger. I was going to die, and the only thing I thought about was you.”

 

Amanda gives a look of shock or disbelief or something like it at that, but Sonny’s not done.

 

“The only thing I thought about was you, and Jesse, and being with you guys. And we’ve been dancing around it practically since she was born, I’ve been around all the time and it’s been you and me and her, and I’ve loved that. And I’ve loved being near you and with you and all of this has been amazing, but it’s been some nameless thing that we don’t talk about. Just you and me and Jesse and that’s been so great, but today I was going to die and the only thing I could think about was that I was going to leave you and Jesse alone and I wouldn’t have a word to call what I lost. And maybe boyfriend or whatever is immature, but what this is for sure? It’s love. I love you.” Sonny rants, and he’s barely focusing on Amanda because maybe if he doesn’t see her face it’ll hurt less when she turns him down.

 

“Sonny,” Amanda whispers, and this time she sounds like she’s crying and he has to look. Amanda is smiling softly at him, tears in her eyes, and suddenly she’s leaning forward and putting her hands on his cheeks and kissing him softly, and they’ve kissed before but this time it’s saying something more, and Sonny rejoices in the feeling. He kisses back but keeps his arms firmly on Jesse, and then Amanda is pulling back. Her hands still on his face, she stares at him, smiling.

 

“I love you too.”

 

And Sonny thinks maybe he’ll be alright.