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Where Our Story Begins

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Rafael awoke to sunlight, warm against his back, he must have forgotten to close the curtains the night before. It was a rare day off for the firm partners. They were both usually up, dressed and starting their day before the sun had risen.

He moaned into his pillow as he enjoyed the feel of the sheets on his body. Liv had given them luxurious sheets as a present at their engagement party. Rafael tried to explain to her that it was creepy for her to buy him sheets he was going to bang his husband on.

She had just laughed and told him, “If that’s the case then you should wait to open your other presents.” He had turned bright red and his guests had laughed. He had taken her up on that advice and he was grateful for it.

“Are you awake?” Trevor’s voice was low and soft.

Rafael’s husband scooted closer to him, rested one of his hands on Rafael's waist and placed his head on Rafael’s shoulder. The perk of having a king sized bed was that his tall husband could be comfortable and Rafael could also sleep untouched should he want to. That wasn’t often but it was nice to have that option.

“Mhmmm.”

Trevor responded to Rafael’s sound with a gentle nip between Rafael’s shoulder and neck. Rafael was certainly awake now. He bit his lip when Trevor bit down hard on his neck causing his cheeks to flush. The man continued to kiss his neck loving for a few minutes. This was Rafael’s favorite way to wake up. One of their phones buzzed on the nightstand.

“Trev-” Rafael sighed. A groan left his throat as his husband pulled away and sat up in their bed. Trevor reached over to the nightstand and looked at his phone.

“Liv texted.” Trevor paused, “She needs us for a case.” he explained.

“What?” Rafael groaned. “Why do we have a junior partner if we get called in on our day off.”

He knew he was whining but he didn’t care. He sat up and placed his hands on Trevor’s face. He began to kiss the man passionately, hoping to distract him from whatever task Liv had for them. They didn’t work for the city, but Liv had found reasons to use their firm to SVU’s advantage. Nepotism at its best. Rafael normally wouldn't mind but he had plans for their day off, plans consisting of bed, food, bed, food, and of course, their bed.

When they had decided to make Sonny a junior partner it had been a huge blessing. Sonny understood the type of cases that they wanted. He understood the work that they were focused on. Trevor worked mostly adoptions while Rafael helped rape victims with lawsuits. The former Detective finally put his degree to good use.
It had been awkward at first. Rafael’s ex in the same office as Rafael’s boyfriend then fiancee then husband but they made it work. Rafael doubted it could have if Sonny and Trevor hadn’t been the kind people that they were.

It got easier when Sonny started dating Carmen. Rafael credited himself with that pairing. He had noticed they way Carisi smiled at her even when they were working for the DA’s office. It continued when Sonny began to work at the firm. Carisi would bring her sweet Italian pastries in the mornings or offer to walk her to her car at the end of the day. One day Rafael asked Sonny point blank why he didn’t ask Carmen out. Sonny had sighed, “Because we work together and if it doesn’t work out-”

“Carisi, you work for a firm run by a married couple.” Rafael had rolled his eyes at Sonny’s flushed expression, “And it’s not like there isn’t a history between you.”

Sonny had relented and now there was a second office relationship at Barba-Langan Law. Rafael did not mind one bit.

“Raf.” Trevor looked puzzled.

Rafael had stopped kissing him, maybe that’s why he looked confused.

“Sorry, I was thinking about Sonny.”

Trevor’s eyebrows shot up and he pulled away from his husband.

“I’m sorry, what?”

Rafael had to admit he loved the jealous expression on his husband’s face. Rafael closed the space between them and gave Trevor a soft peck on the lips.

“I am glad he finally got the courage to ask Carmen out…” Rafael started, “but the point of a junior partner was-”

Trevor captured Rafael’s lips and pushed him down flat onto the bed. Rafael enjoyed feeling his lover’s weight on him.

This time when Trevor pulled away, Rafael saw a mischievous look in his eyes.

“Liv wants to be involved. Both of us.”

Rafael groaned again and pushed his husband off. He rolled to the edge of the bed and sat back up. He probably had crazy bed hair but he couldn’t care less.
“She’s my best friend.” he mumbled. His friendship with Liv had been a journey of ups and downs but he appreciated her and everything she had done for him over the years.

“So am I not allowed to text her?” Trevor got out of bed and began to pull clothing from his drawers and the closet.

“You are not allowed to plot against me.” Although Rafael was sitting up he still felt half asleep, his eyes heavy and his body sagging.

“Of course not, love.” Trevor walked over to Rafael and had to lean down quite a bit to kiss Rafael again. Rafael loved him even his morning breath.

“I am going to shower and get dressed.” Trevor declared walking towards their en-suite bathroom, “You can sleep in a bit longer or…”

Rafael looked at his husband, that mischievous expression had returned in full force.

“Or?” Rafael asked, a bit more awake.

“Or you could join me?” Trevor said hopefully.

How could Rafael refuse that request?

****

Every hospital was crazy. Rafael tried to avoid them as much as possible. The NICU was no exception to the rule. Nurses moved at lightning pace, avoiding each other like their movements were a choreographed dance. Rafael and Trevor found Liv in a waiting room.

Rafael had gotten few details from Trevor on the car ride over. They were visiting a rape victim, survivor of, who had just given birth. She wanted to put the child up for adoption. That was definitely in Trevor’s wheelhouse but Rafael still wasn’t sure why he needed to be there. Maybe his husband had decided that if he couldn’t sleep in than Rafael shouldn’t either. But Trevor Langan was not a vindictive person, at least not since college. He had changed quite a bit since then but they both had.

“Trevor. Rafa. Glad you could make it.” Liv smiled. Rafael could tell by her weary expression that she had been at the hospital possibly overnight.

Trevor shook Liv’s hand like he always did. He wanted to treat her with the utmost respect as the Captain of NYPD’s elite unit. Rafael thinks the only time they hugged was on the wedding day.
Rafael respected Liv but they had too much history for that. He gave her a tight hug.

“How’s the baby?” Trevor asked.

“Not great. She had a lot of drugs in her system. He’s early and underweight.”

Rafael felt himself wince. Poor child. He felt sympathy for the helpless child but also for the mother. He couldn’t imagine the pain she was going through. Trevor had told him that jury had found the boyfriend not guilty of rape. The DA was able to get the assault charges through and get him in jail. The trial had been a difficult one Trevor had explained, the mother having to face her rapist and the father of her child. He wasn’t surprised drugs were involved. Trevor had explained in the car that her drug use might have swayed the jury against her.

If wasn’t fair. Unfortunately Rafael knew the battle the DA was fighting all too well.

“Sonny got the father to vacate his rights over the child last week.”

Rafael vaguely remembered Sonny being out of the office that day. Rafael looked at Liv. Did she want another child? He and Trevor had been talking about children since their engagement. Rafael had objected to the idea at first, stating simply that with his track record he couldn’t be a father. Trevor, of course, did not agree.

If Liv was getting another one then maybe he and Trevor could start their own process going.

A nurse came looking for Liv and she followed her out.

“So, Liv wants the baby?” Rafael asked, “You didn’t have to be so cryptic.”

Suddenly, Trevor’s hands were on Rafael’s shoulder. His posture indicated that he was about to get bad news.

“Rafael, I was thinking that we could adopt him.”

Oh. Rafael supposed he should have seen this coming. Trevor wanted a family. Rafael wanted one especially because Trevor wanted it. But a baby. They would have a high school student with two retired parents. And then college.

A baby.

“I didn’t want to bring up the possibility until the father had given up his rights.” Trevor looked sheepish. Rafael was trying not to look cross. He and Liv had been plotting.

“I-” Rafael stopped himself. Did he want a child?

“If I have totally misstepped, then I am sorry. I just… she wants the best for the child but she doesn’t think she is capable of giving him that.” Trevor explained. “And the financial burden of a sick child. He will be sick for a bit until the drugs are out of his system and-”

“Yes.” Rafael blurted before Trevor could finish. “I want to adopt him. I want us to adopt him.”

With the decision made, Rafael launched himself into his husband’s arms.

“I love you,” he murmured against Trevor’s chest.

“I love you too.” Trevor kissed the top of his head.

***

The mother had been happy to meet them. Rafael could tell she was in pain, from the childbirth or withdrawal, Rafael suspected it was a mix. She was Latina, second generation Cuban-American, and she had connected instantly with Rafael. They spoke mostly in Spanish, sometimes Rafael would translate to Trevor, whose Spanish was elementary at best, other times he would let his conversation with her be organic.

She didn’t want to be involved in the child’s life but she wanted the child to have a good life. Rafael admired her for that. He hoped that she could get her own life back on track.

Trevor left to take a call. Rafael talked to her a bit longer. He had talked with many victims in the past, this however was much more personal. He wanted to impress her. He told her about his and his husband’s Ivy League degrees. He assured her that they would be able to take care of the child’s needs financially and emotionally.

“What was your father like?” she asked.

Rafael hesitated before answering truthfully, “Horrible.”

”So you won’t make the same mistakes he did.”

“No.”

She smiled for the first time since their meeting. She was young, couldn’t be more than twenty. It seemed like she didn’t want their help for herself. She wanted to move far away and start over. Her eyes began to close so he excused himself. He stood up from the chair next to the bed and began to leave when he felt her hand grasp his.

“I have a son.” she whispered.

Rafael felt concerned, hoping her memory wasn’t impaired. “Yes, I know. We were just-”

“No. Another son. He was born when I was 17.” she explained, “Last they told me he was still in foster care. No one adopted him.”

Rafael returned to his seat. “What-”

“Could you and your husband adopt him too?” she asked, her brown eyes pleading with him. She looked frail. The hospital gown was too large. Her skin was pale despite a natural brown pigment. Her black hair was stringy and unkempt.

“I-” Rafael was at a loss for words. One child had been a big enough surprise for today. Two children. Could they actually do it?

“Please, he will get lost in the system. He should be with his brother. Family is-”

“Everything.” Rafael completed. He agreed with her.

There had been another Barba child from his father. The woman had shown up at their apartment one rainy night. There had been so much screaming. Rafael and his mother didn’t talk much about the child that had been around two years old when Rafael was a preteen. His mother had confessed to him once that she wished she had been able to contact the woman and help her. His father didn’t help his wife so she doubted the woman had gotten any child support before or after his death. He often wondered if he would have been a more nurturing adult if he had a little sibling.

He knew he should wait and talk to Trevor first, but she had desperate tears in her eyes.

“Please, I just need to know that they will both be ok.”

Rafael squeezed her small hand.

“Yes, we will raise them both. I promise. We will take care of them.”

Rafael hoped Trevor wouldn’t be too cross with him. He figured since Trevor sprung one child on him today he shouldn’t have a problem springing one on him.

He hoped his husband understood as he left the room so the young woman could rest.