It had been a long day. A long week, if he was being completely honest, and Peter was exhausted. It felt as though he had barely left his office, heading to Sonny’s apartment only to sneak a glimpse of him and a few hours of rest in his arms before returning to work again. It was barely worth it, except that seeing Sonny smile, feeling his arms wind around him, made everything seem okay again.
But thankfully, finally , it was Friday, and ‘The Week From Hell’, as he had dubbed it, was over. He’d managed to finish up everything he needed to by 9 pm, which honestly, after the week he’d had, felt like an early mark at this point.
On his way out of the building, he bumped into a defense attorney, an old friend of his father’s whose name he couldn’t quite recall, but whose face he remembered from around the house as a child.
It was all small talk, mechanical, tired, until the man asked, “How’s your sister going?”
Peter honestly couldn’t say whether or not he answered as the question rung inside his head, piercing and painful. He knew it wasn’t their fault, knew they wouldn’t have asked if they’d known Pamela was gone, if they’d known the pain Peter still felt deep inside himself at the mere thought of her, but that didn’t stop him from wanting to lash out.
Instead, he sat in his uber, ignoring the churning of his stomach and the burning of his eyes.
When he stepped through the door and saw Sonny smile at him, his heart thudded painfully. As he sat down and Sonny kissed his cheek, he felt himself lean into the touch, desperate for more, despite how undeserving he felt of love in that moment.
Sonny pulled him in close, pressing another kissed to his forehead. “What happened?”
Peter felt his throat close up. Of course Sonny noticed. He always did. He couldn’t seem to find the words, couldn’t dredge them up from inside himself. A part of him felt like he should be over this by now, that he should stop burdening Sonny with his grief, stop dragging them down and move on.
“I just…” he breathed out shakily, feeling tears well in his eyes. “I need you to love me a little louder today.”
In an instant, Sonny was pulling him in closer, positioning himself so Peter was practically lying on top of him. Then came the stream of affection, of Sonny telling Peter all the ways he loves him, all the little things about him that he adores but has never put into words before.
Slowly, Peter began to feel somewhat whole again. Sonny’s words, Sonny’s love, was enough to cover the gaping hole inside him for the meantime.
Sonny thought he was pretty good at dealing with the things his job threw at him, but some days were harder than others. Having a four-year-old girl breathe her last breath in his arms. Having to carry her lifeless body out to the ambulance that got there too late. Having to look her parents in the eye and let them know he’d let them down, that he’d let their little girl down...it felt like the hardest thing he’d ever had to do.
He almost went to his own apartment. He didn’t want Peter to have to deal with this, deal with him. But the ache in his chest was too great, the pull was too strong, and he found himself fighting back tears as Peter served him dinner.
“Where have you gone?” Peter whispered, taking Sonny’s hand in his across the table.
He opened his mouth to speak, but he didn’t know what to say. He closed his eyes, squeezing Peter’s hand a little tighter.
They sat in silence for a while. Peter didn’t ask questions, didn’t press. He was ever-patient, and Sonny loved him for it.
“You once said to me,” Sonny started, voice wavering, “that you needed me to-to love you a little louder. I--“ He broke off, throat too tight to speak as tears welled in his eyes.
Without letting go of Sonny’s hand, Peter moved from his chair so he was standing behind Sonny, arms folded around him, pulling him and the chair flush against his chest.
“I love you,” Peter whispered, pressing a kiss to the top of Sonny’s hair.
It was a whimper, not a sob that escaped past Sonny’s lips. He turned his head into Peter’s chest, back and neck protesting at the angle. But they didn’t move. Peter just continued to shower Sonny in words of love, broken up only by soft kisses pressed to his head as he allowed himself to let go completely, to cry in front of someone, to seek comfort in another person and not feel guilty about it for the first time in his life.
Peter could feel his heart pounding. Pamela was shouting his name. He knew what was coming, but he couldn’t seem to move. He’d been here before, so many times. Every time he was powerless to stop it, powerless to change the outcome, forced to live through this moment over and over again. A distant voice in his head told him that didn’t make sense, but why should death make sense?
He could smell the blood before it had even happened, could feel his heart tearing its way out of his chest at what he knew was to come.
He was sure he could taste blood as the bullets flew around him, was sure his mouth was thick with it as he tried to call for Pamela, to run to her, to help her.
He felt his body jolt as a deafening scream rang out. That seemed wrong. He couldn’t remember anyone screaming before.
He felt like he was choking, drowning, gagging on the metallic taste in his mouth.
Then Sonny’s face was in front of his, and that seemed wrong too. Sonny was never so close.
Sonny was speaking to him, but he couldn’t quite make out the words, just the urgent look on his face and the meaningless movement of his mouth. None of it made sense.
He felt grief welling in his heart as he let Sonny pull him close. He focussed on the feel of Sonny’s arms around him, on the sound of Sonny’s voice slowly coming into focus. A mantra of, “I love you,” and, “You’re safe,” and, “I’ve got you,” and, “I’ll never let you go.”
Slowly, he realized they were in his bedroom and not in the warehouse. He gradually got his breathing under control, but he couldn’t stop the tears that fell, even for something that happened so long ago.
“You with me?” Sonny whispered into his hair.
“Don’t stop,” he whined, throat scratchy.
It was then that he realized the scream was him. A sense of shame filled him up and he buried his head in Sonny’s lap, breathing him in.
“I’ll never stop telling you how much I love you,” Sonny murmured softly before continuing his mantra as he stroked Peter’s hair.
Distantly, in the back of his sleep-hazed mind, Peter realized that he didn’t even have to ask this time.
“Sonny, he didn’t make it.”
That was the last thing he heard before everything was drowned out by a ringing in his ears and the surprisingly steady thrum of his heartbeat. He was distantly aware of his phone slipping from his hand and crashing against the floor, but it sounded far away, like he was underwater, somewhere peaceful while chaos ensued above the surface.
“He didn’t make it.”
The words seemed slowed down, drawn out, echoing inside his head. He could see Amanda looking at him, face pinched with concern, but if she said anything he didn’t hear it.
It felt like something was missing, like there was a hole somewhere inside of him, consuming him, and he could taste bile on the back of his throat, acidic and burning.
Then he was standing in Peter’s office, dripping wet, and he couldn’t quite remember how he got there.
Peter was making his way across his office, frowning, and Sonny fell towards him, allowing himself to crumble as the world came rushing back into focus, too loud, too fast.
”He didn’t make it”
It was too much. All of it was too much. Belatedly, he realized the hole that had formed inside him was aching, screaming out to be filled. He felt his body heave as he sobbed, burying his face into Peter’s shoulder, fisting at the fabric in his shirt, a sense of desperation filling him up.
Eventually, he realized Peter was telling him a story, of the first moment he knew he was in love with Sonny. The way it felt, how obvious it was once he’d realized it, how it had simply been the way the sun had lit him up, like he was the only other person in the world, that brought on the epiphany.
Sonny let the words wash over him, let Peter’s love ease the ache in his chest. Because thanks to Peter he’d come to realize it was okay to need someone, it was okay to need to know you were loved when the rest of the world was crumbling around you.
Peter had always hated events like these, events where he was forced to rub shoulders with his father's friends, colleagues and opponents alike, listening to stories of his best moments in court, his most defining cases, his biggest wins. It was events like these that reminded Peter exactly why he’d left New York in the first place.
The worst was hearing how unlike his father he was, as though it was a bad thing, as though he should be an exact replica without a thought of his own.
But this time was different.
This time, Sonny was beside him the entire night, telling everyone about Peter’s greatest moments, countering all the Ben Stone stories with a Peter Stone story to match.
He had never been one to brag or to boast, it always left him feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed. But somehow he didn’t mind Sonny doing it for him. He could hear the pride in Sonny’s voice as he spoke, and to Peter, that seemed like the biggest declaration of love he’d ever heard.
Sonny kept his hand firmly on the small of Peter’s back the entire night, an anchor, something that said ‘I’m always going to be by your side.’ Peter let the feeling consume him, let it spur him on, let it give him the strength to get through the night.
Once the gala was over and they were sat in the back of a cab together, able to relax at last, Sonny leaned in to press a quick kiss to Peter’s forehead.
“I hope my love was loud enough tonight,” Sonny whispered.
“Thank you,” Peter said quietly, resting his head on Sonny’s shoulder
The first thing Sonny noticed when he opened his eyes, blinking against the sleep threatening to pull him back under, was the dark, swirling gray of the small slice of sky he could see through the gap in his blinds.
The second thing he noticed was how his mood seemed to reflect that, a hollowness settling deep inside him, stirring a distant ache in his chest.
The only reason he bothered to leave his bed, to leave the comfort, the warmth, and the temptation of more sleep, was because he knew Peter was in his living room, ever the early bird, even on a day off.
He brought the duvet from the bed with him, bundled around his shoulders, cocooning him in warmth, in safety, in comfort.
“Morning,” Peter smiled, bright as ever, completely at odds with the storm inside Sonny’s mind.
In lieu of a greeting, he plonked himself down on the lounge beside Peter, curling up on his side, his head pillowed in Peter’s lap.
Instantly, the book Peter had been reading was cast aside and his fingers were threaded through Sonny’s hair, smoothing down the mess it had become overnight.
Sonny let the feeling wash over him, lulling him back to sleep as a warmth that only Peter could provide filled him up.
Just as he was drifting off, a kiss was pressed to his forehead.
“I love you more than I could ever put into words,” Peter whispered.
And for a moment, everything felt okay again.