When Sonny wakes up for the second time that morning, still tired but covered in a certain calm, he notices that he’s alone. Rafael has already gotten out of bed, maybe even left for the day. Of course he did, who wouldn’t when Sonny’s… well, Sonny. He shouldn’t think like that, but old habits die hard. He slips out of bed and starts fixing the covers to distract himself, but while he’s smoothing down the comforter, the bedroom door opens.
“I was just coming to wake you. I made coffee.”
He turns around and takes the mug from Rafael’s extended arm. It’s warm and fresh, its aroma already waking Sonny up more completely. Between sips, he goes over to the closet to get a suit for the day. Looking at his coffee, he decides to pick his dark brown one. It doesn’t get nearly enough use, in his opinion. For a tie, he winds up taking one of Rafael’s black silk ones. It’s smooth in his hands, a reminder. A comfort. He considers his ties just as important as his rosaries, although he doesn’t know exactly why. Maybe something to do with it being a constant. Or the fact that it’s his choice, his decision.
Behind him, Rafael gets ready too without thinking. He lays his outfits out the night before because it’s not dependant on his mood like it is for Sonny- no, it’s just about the look for him. They had had a conversation once about how while Sonny isn’t completely useless at fashion, he’s absolutely not on Rafael’s level.
As he’s tucking things into his coat pockets- his phone, his wallet, his rosaries and his badge, Rafael’s phone pings on the nightstand. “Dworkin pulling shit this early in the morning? That’s low, even for him,” he jokes.
No response. He turns around to see Rafael reading an email with an odd not-quite annoyed expression on his face. It can’t be related to an actual case, because he scrolls through it quickly and doesn’t comment on whatever stupid thing he finds in the motion. The way he looks up at Sonny when he puts his phone down is almost apprehensive. His eyebrows are drawn in like they were when he broke the news that he couldn’t build a viable case against their serial. Sonny tilts his head to the side in a wordless prompt for Rafael to just get on with it and explain whatever his email said. When he comes closer, he sees that the screen is still lit up. All he can read on the screen are the words “PR,” “meeting,” “compensation” and “Carisi.” Seeing his own name only makes him more curious, especially surrounded by such potentially loaded words.
“What’s going on?”
“The public relations department reached out to me,” Rafael says, “about a week and a half ago. Since we’re an openly gay couple, they want us to head a PR campaign about how ‘accepting’ and ‘progressive’ the NYPD is.”
Sonny almost laughs because the majority most certainly is not. “You said no, right?”
His smile drops at Rafael’s hesitation.
“I agreed we’d meet with them to talk about it. The email was a reminder that the meeting is today. Liv already knows, you’ll be fine to take off for it. I don’t think it’ll be more than an hour anyway.”
“When were you going to bring it up to me?” he asks.
He shakes his head. “You should have said something. I’ll consider going to the meeting. No promises.”
Rafael kisses Sonny’s shoulder before he heads into the bathroom to shave, leaving him on his own to sort through the emotions swirling through him on his way to work. This isn’t fair to spring on him so suddenly, giving him almost no time to consider. Sonny has to make a decision on whether or not to even entertain the idea before he clocks in because he won’t have time to think about it while he’s at work.
On one hand, he really wants to be a positive role model for all the little queer kids who feel like they won’t do anything productive as adults, if they even make it to the edge nd of highschool. He remembers what it was like to wonder if he would ever get anywhere farther than the end of his street corner when most days he was terrified to go to class because of how cruel people, especially kids can be. Isn’t it his responsibility as a so-called ‘success story’ to be a beacon of hope to those who might not have anything to cling to?
At the same time, he’s spent too much time with a target on his back. Being a trans bisexual man on the force isn’t exactly a piece of cake, even if people only really know the latter. Having his face plastered all over a PR campaign proudly announcing that he’s dating a man isn’t exactly the best way to continue lying low enough to avoid harassment. Sonny really doesn’t want to deal with the hazing anymore, not when he’s finally built a life without that.
But he’ll go to the meeting, if only to prevent a fight with Rafael. There’s no harm in going, anyways. The worst that can happen is that he misses an hour of a workday and has to deal with an annoying PR officer. No matter what, he can still go home to Rafael.
At 3:30, Rafael walks into the precinct to pick Sonny up and have a quick conversation with Olivia about the case. While Sonny shrugs his coat on, Amanda walks over to him with her thumbs tucked into her pockets. “I’m sorry, by the way.”
“I’m sorry. For, you know, being kind of a jerk about… the thing.”
He’s torn between appreciating her discretion in a crowded room and being a little annoyed at how obviously uncomfortable she is. Still, it’s progress. Sonny smiles fakely and nods.
She opens her mouth to say more, but doesn’t get out a single word before Rafael sweeps over and takes Sonny’s hand to lead him out of the precinct and into the waiting cab. The morning’s worry comes back full force, turning Sonny’s stomach in circles that don’t mix well with the jerky driving. If Rafael didn’t want to do this, he wouldn’t have even agreed to a meeting about it.
Rafael grabs his hand and squeezes. It’ll all be fine. He shouldn’t be so worried.
After that, everything is a blur. It often is when Sonny gets worked up enough for his adrenaline to kick in. He remembers walking into the building with Rafael at his side and making their way to the conference room surrounded by very powerful execs who could find a way to end his career if he makes them mad. He was shown an idea of what it would look like, with his face on posters and how he would have to give speeches sometimes, and how this could really help his law career if he decides to take one on. Counselor Carisi, public defender. They showed him and Rafael big numbers, the kind that can pay for a house or even just a bigger apartment. Maybe a nice engagement ring, because lately it seems that him and Rafael have been talking a lot about what it would be like to build a future together. Then he’s shaking hands and Rafael leads him out of the building to sit on the front steps and take a deep breath to calm down.
“How long do we have to decide?” he asks.
“A couple weeks, but they want our answer as soon as possible so they can find replacements if we say no.” Rafael holds out his hand for Sonny to take and cling to. “We don’t have to do this, you know.”
“I know. Can I think for a few days?”
Two or three days later, Sonny’s nearly asleep on the couch. He’s been so busy with work, late nights and early mornings, long hours with not a lot of down time, that he’s dead on his feet as soon as he gets home. And Rafael, ever so sweet, tucks a blanket around him and doesn’t disturb him in his exhausted haze for a couple hours. By the time he finally says something, it’s because Sonny is dangerously close to falling asleep fully clothed, folded up on the couch in a way that’ll have his back in fits should he stay there much longer.
“Sonny, come to bed.”
“C’mon, get up. I’ll wash your hair and get you in some pajamas, then you can sleep in bed with me…”
He’s exhausted, but he manages to get to his feet with Rafael’s help and stumble to the shower where the warm water only makes him sleepier. Relaxing into the gentle hands washing his hair and body is easy. For once, he isn’t thinking about what he looks like, he’s just enjoying the touch. Rafael’s hands are familiar and warm, nothing if not tender. Then firm, holding him up to dry him off and pull on boxers and a sleep shirt to make him warm and safe. He lets Rafael lead him to bed and tuck him under the covers, falling easily asleep with his arms around the most important person to him in the world.