The atmosphere of the courtroom had been tense, and Rafael knew that it was probably a bad idea to sleep with the man prosecuting him.
The guilt had overwhelmed him; his father, Drew, the way his relationship with Sonny had deteriorated the year before.
Rafael had been left with nothing; the squad, his mother, he pushed them all away. Only Liv, who was eternally persistent, remained.
Then he had met Peter Stone.
The feeling of the younger man's eyes roaming his body had sent a thrill through him, one he hadn't felt since Sonny had first eyed him off while sporting that terrible moustache.
So why not go for it? What else had he to lose?
He regretted that choice now.
Sonny looked so happy standing next to Stone. The grin he was sporting was nothing compared to the smiles he once gave Rafael. He was practically glowing. Rafael’s heart felt heavy, each beat against his rib cage radiating throughout his entire body.
"Rafael," Sonny's smile is so bright, so intense Rafael has to raise a hand to block out the light.
"Sonny," Rafael nods before turning to prosecutor. "ADA Stone."
"It's EADA now," the words casually fall from the man's mouth, as though they meant nothing.
Rafael just cocks a brow. "I see."
"We haven't heard from you in ages," Sonny continues to beam. "We've been worried--"
"If you were truly worried you could have asked Liv," Rafael spits. "Or Rollin's, or Fin."
The younger man's smile falters, but only for a moment before it slides right back into place, though the light behind his cerulean blue eyes has dimmed slightly. "We're heading to Forlini's--"
The announcement stung. That had been his restaurant.
"--to meet up with the squad. Why don't you join us?"
Rafael should have said no, he wanted to, but something inside of him was curious, which is why he said yes.
He regrets it instantly.
He doesn't walk alongside the couple, instead he trailed behind, and watches their interlocked hands swing between them. It was as though they didn't have a care in the world, and maybe they didn't.
A nasty thought clawed its way into the back of Rafael's mind.
He wonders if Sonny knew that he had Stone first. That Rafael had run his fingers over the man's sculpted abs before Sonny had, traced every line, kissed every scar.
Did Sonny know that Stone had done the same to him? That he had fucked Rafael and brought him to the peak of ecstasy?
That as they had laid together, limbs tangled, Stone had asked if he could see Rafael again after the trial?
Rafael had laughed at that, he had said no.
Thoughts of another blond had run rampant throughout their encounter. Thoughts of Sonny, his soft hands and his ever-bright smile.
Stone had shrugged him off then left, bitter and despondent.
Or so Rafael had thought.
Was Rafael the reason they had found each other?
Or were they just meant to be?
As they reached the familiar restaurant Sonny turned to him, a warm smile on his face. "Last chance to back out."
Rafael had always loved a challenge.
He barges forwards into the warm restaurant, happy to be greeted by familiar faces. He kissed Liv on the cheek, shook Fin's hand and was drawn into a hug by Rollin's, all of them happy to see him.
As he regularly saw Liv, it was easy to fall into conversation with her. They talked about her work, his own work with Project Innocence, how Noah was doing, her plans to become Captain.
She keeps him distracted.
Though every so often he would catch a glimpse of Sonny and Stone, talking to Fin and Rollins. Each with a beer in hand, Stone's arm flung over Sonny's shoulder, not a care in the world. Sonny hadn't flinched at all, unlike when Rafael had tried that.
"It was a shock for all of us," Liv murmurs to him.
Clearly Rafael hadn't been concealing his emotions as carefully as he thought. "I'm sure it was."
"Are you okay?" The question is laced with concern.
"I'm not," Rafael admits, his heart still hammering his rib cage. "But I will be."
"He's happy? How could I not be happy for him?" Rafael forces a smile. "Even though my heart is broken it will heal. Even though I think I might die, I wont. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one day soon I will wake up and no longer be in love with him."
After that the rest of the conversation feels awkward and forced. Eventually Liv gives up and leaves Rafael to himself.
Fin soon moves towards him. He attempts a brief conversation before he excuses himself to take Rollin's home.
That left Rafael with Sonny and Stone.
He knew that Sonny didn't have a malicious bone in his body, which is why Rafael can forgive him for getting up and moving so Rafael was no longer sitting alone. Stone, of course, follows.
As he sits down next to Sonny he gives Rafael a defiant look, before a smile blooms on his face and he asks Rafael about what cases he was working on.
Though the conversation is stilted, Rafael appreciates the gesture, though he would have appreciated the couple excusing themselves more.
It isn’t until Stone gets up to use the restroom that things become awkward.
"How have you really been, Rafael?" His question genuine.
Rafael takes a swig of his scotch before he forces himself to answer. "Busy."
"Busy," Sonny echos.
Rafael just scoffs. "Obviously."
"Really, Rafael?" Sonny's face flushes pink. "Surely--"
"Sorry I'm late," A voice appears and Rafael feels a hand on his back.
Rafael had never been more relieved to see another person in his life. The man was tall, handsome, and had eyes the colour of steel.
"Trevor Langan," the man offers his hand to Sonny.
Sonny eyes him warily. "I know who you are."
"Has Raf been talking again," Trevor's laugh is surprisingly warm, fond even. "I'm just going to grab myself a drink, Raf, would you like another?" Rafael opened his mouth, but the taller man beat him. "Macallan Twelve?"
He couldn't help the smile. "Thank you."
"A defense attorney, Rafael, really?" Sonny waited until Trevor reached the bar before he scowled.
Rafael bites back. "Another man, Sonny, really?"
Rafael can’t help but feel satisfaction as anger crosses his ex-lover's face. Before he can respond Stone returns from the bathroom. He looks between the two seated men before he carefully chooses his next words.
"I think we should get a move on, Sonny."
"Yes," Sonny basically leaps to his feet, clearly eager to get away. "Let's go home."
"Goodbye, Rafael," Stone offers his hand. "It was good seeing you again."
Rafael shakes the proffered hand and and nods politely. "Thank you."
As he watches the two men walk away the word ‘home’ rang through his head, causing another flood of emotions to crash through him.
It has been just over a year since he had left the DA's office.
What had happened in a year between these two men that would fundamentally change Sonny enough to want to be with Stone?
Even though he was heartbroken now, a slither of hope infected Rafael. One day he would find out, one day he would learn the truth.
"Macallan Twelve," Trevor murmurs as he slides into the seat opposite Rafael and places the scotch in front of him.
Rafael automatically cocks his brow. "You didn't have to--"
"Buy you scotch?" Trevor smiles. "You looked as though you needed a drink."
"Pretend to be meeting me," Rafael corrects, unable to hide the smile playing at the corner of his mouth.
Trevor takes a sip of his own scotch before he leans forward. "I'm no stranger to heartbreak, and no one wants to be left alone with their ex who they are clearly still in love with."
"I was going to thank you," Rafael scowls as he slumped back into the chair. "But you clearly don't deserve thanks."
"As I said, I'm no stranger to heartbreak," Trevor takes another sip of his drink. "So I'll forgive you this once."
Rafael scowls at the taller man who could read him far too well. "Well cheers then." He raises his glass.
"To heartbreak?" Trevor cocks his head to the side, unsure as he raises his own glass.
Rafael can’t help but chuckle at the expression on the other man's face. "To healing."
They tap their glasses of scotch together before they each take a large swig, Rafael effectively draining his glass.
Trevor finishes his own glass quickly before he reaches into his pocket and pulls out his wallet.
Rafael watches as the man searches through it and pulls out a card. "If you ever need an impartial friend who is a hundred percent on your side, I'm here to listen."
"Thank you," Rafael croaks, taking the business card.
The two men stand and exit the restaurant together, the silence between them surprisingly comfortable.
"I mean it," Trevor quietly repeats himself. "If you ever need someone, I'm just a phone call away."
"Goodbye, Trevor," Rafael nods.
The two men part ways and Rafael can’t help but look over his shoulder, happy to see that Trevor has done the same thing. He fingers the card in his pocket and feels a familiar swoop in his stomach. It would take time to get over Sonny Carisi, in fact he may never get over the handsome detective. But if Sonny could move on, then maybe Rafael could too.
Maybe the evening had been a success.
He had learned Sonny was genuinely happy, and maybe he could actually start to move on.
Maybe all that he needed was a friend.