It felt like things had spiraled so quickly, and Sonny wasn’t quite sure how he’d ended up with clenched fists and white-hot rage steadily flowing through his veins. It felt like only moments ago he’d been excited to bring his findings to Rafael. To share his break in the case, to be able to work alongside Rafael again, to truly flex his legal knowledge with the person he loved; with the person whose input he valued the most.
Now, he felt small, undervalued, and underappreciated, but more than that, he felt angry. Because he felt like every time Rafael might actually value his insight on a case, see Sonny at his level instead of just as a detective, Rafael would shove it right back in his face, just like he was now.
Sonny took a deep breath, trying to appear calm. “If you just take a look--“
“God,” Rafael breathed out with a bitter laugh. “You really are a broken record today.”
Sonny felt a fresh flash of rage surge through him, and he took a step forward into Rafael’s personal space. “Excuse me?”
Rafael stared at him for a moment, a look so condescending he felt it like a flame, further igniting his anger. The eye roll that followed had his blood boiling.
“As I was saying--“
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Sonny flung his hands up, not caring that he was giving up any semblance of control he had on the conversation. Instead, he reveled in the deep sense of satisfaction he felt at the resulting flinch from both Rafael and Olivia. “I spent hours--“
“Wasted hours,” Rafael interjected with another eye roll.
“--working on finding that for you, as well as the case that sets precedence. I know you think I’m stupid, Barba, but--“
“I don’t think you’re stupid.” Rafael’s tone matched Sonny’s now as he slammed the folder down on his desk, hand splayed across its surface as he turned to face Sonny fully. “With the way you’ve been behaving for the past thirty minutes, you’re proving you’re stupid.”
“Okay,” Liv said gently, holding her hands up in front of her as she took a minute step towards them both, bordering on wedging herself between them. “It’s been a long day, I think you should both--“
“I was up all night preparing that for you and you won’t even look at it?” Sonny demanded, ignoring Liv as he stepped even closer to Rafael, so close he could see the vein twitching in Rafael’s forehead.
“Congratulations for once again doing something literally no one asked you to just so you could parade your legal knowledge, or lack thereof, in front of the world,” Rafael hissed through clenched teeth, puffing his chest out a little. “Because if I’d known this was where you were headed I would have shut it down before you’d even started.”
Sonny bit down on his hurt, bit down on the part of him that told him that maybe Rafael was right, and focussed on his rage. “You tellin’ me you don’t enjoy shutting me down at literally every opportunity you have?”
Rafael clenched his jaw. “If any input you actually had was helpful--”
Liv opened her mouth to speak, but Sonny shouted over the top of her. “Christ, you’re insufferable! Next time remind me not to offer any help, ‘cause it’s sure as hell not appreciated!”
“I told you it could wait!” Rafael shot back. “I’d rather you worked on it with me!”
“Really?” Sonny could hear the hysteric tone in his voice, could hear it crack, but he was beyond caring. “Because it seems like you’ve been doing nothing but avoiding me.”
“Guys--” Liv tried, but was cut off instantly.
“Well maybe if you came home once in a while--”
“Maybe if you acted like you wanted me around, if you valued me in any way--”
A look of hurt flashed across Rafael’s face as Liv interjected again. “Guys, maybe--”
“Liv, give us a moment.” Rafael turned to look at Liv, the two having a silent conversation that somehow felt like a punch in the gut to Sonny.
“Okay,” Liv said eventually, grabbing her coat from the back of the chair. “Okay, I’ll be outside if you need me.”
Sonny remained silent, chest heaving, staring at a spot on the wall as Liv left, the door clicking shut behind her.
“Don’t you dare.” Sonny laughed bitterly, shaking his head. “Don’t you dare deny it.”
“Well, maybe if you--”
“No,” Sonny snapped, jabbing his finger into Rafael’s chest. “Don’t you dare try and pin this on me. Just admit it. You won’t even look at it because you don’t value me . You don’t value my input . You think I’m so beneath you--“
“That’s not true and you know it,” Rafael insisted, pushing back against Sonny in a way that surely increased the pressure of Sonny’s finger to a point where it hurt, even though his face didn’t show it. “And this isn’t about work anymore.”
“You’re damn right it’s not!” Sonny practically shrieked. “You’re so ashamed of me you can’t even tell your mom about us!”
The truth of it rang between them. Sonny could feel his heart pounding. He swallowed hard against the swell of emotion, ignoring the sting of tears in his eyes.
“Why the fuck are you even with me if you can’t stand to be associated with me?” He hated the way his voice shook, hated the flush he could feel working its way up his neck. He turned his face away.
“Sonny, that’s not it,” Rafael said quietly, reaching out to touch Sonny’s arm.
He felt himself flinch at the contact and pulled his arm away, folding both across his chest. “No?”
“Of course not,” Rafael insisted, voice wavering. “Sonny, you’re one of the smartest, kindest, most incredible people I know. I’m proud to be able to call you mine.”
Sonny bit his lip, fighting back tears. He wanted to believe Rafael, wanted to reach out and hold him close, but there was still that voice in the back of his head telling him it was a lie, telling him Rafael’s actions were at odds with his words.
“I’m sorry I implied you were stupid before, I--”
“You didn’t just imply,” Sonny mumbled.
“--I was angry. And you're not stupid. Far from it, in fact.” Rafael’s voice had gone so soft that Sonny felt something inside him ease, just a little. “Look at me?”
He took a deep breath in, waiting until he was sure no tears would fall before he turned to look at Rafael again.
“You are everything to me,” Rafael whispered. “Whatever I say at work, whatever we may disagree on, it’s separate to how I feel about you.”
Sonny sighed, running a shaky hand through his hair, exhausted from the sudden loss of adrenaline, the loss of fight. “It was a good piece of evidence.”
Rafael huffed out a small laugh, shaking his head. “I’d already thought of it, and I’d already realized it wouldn’t be admissible.”
“But the Florida case from 1997--“
“Isn’t applicable here.”
“Sonny, stop. Please.”
Sonny rolled his eyes but didn’t push. If he were being completely honest, he wished he could take it all back, wished he’d never bothered to argue. But it was too late for that.
“Is it that important to you that you meet my mother as my boyfriend?”
“That’s not the point,” Sonny muttered, fiddling with his belt loop.
Rafael tilted his head to the side. “What is the point, then?”
Rafael’s face looked so sincere, so desperate, that Sonny felt a flash of guilt, though he wasn’t sure why.
“The point is I want to feel like your equal, and I don’t,” he admitted quietly, glancing down.
“I’m sorry,” Rafael whispered, dipping his head so he could catch Sonny’s eyes, offering a watery smile. “I’m sorry for ever making you feel less-than. What can I do? What can I do to make this better?”
Sonny shrugged, glancing away, avoiding Rafael’s eyes. He felt like a child, now, as though he’d overreacted and thrown a temper tantrum.
“Tell me,” Rafael insisted, taking hold of his hand.
“I don’t know, Raf. Maybe it’s just me, maybe I--“
“Don’t do that to yourself.” Rafael pulled Sonny towards him before cupping his cheek. “Whatever you’re feeling is valid. I just… I didn’t know. And I’m sorry for making you feel like that.”
“It’s okay,” Sonny muttered, closing his eyes as he turned his face into Rafael’s palm.
“I love you. Do you understand that?”
Sonny nodded, covering Rafael’s hand with his own. “I know. I love you too.”
“I know.” Rafael leaned up on tiptoes, pressing a quick, chaste kiss to Sonny’s lips as his eyelids fluttered open. “Let’s go home.”
“You’re more important. Liv can wait.”
Sonny nodded, linking his fingers with Rafael’s, allowing him to lead him out.
“And I’ll call my mother tomorrow.”
“You don’t have to do that.”
“I know,” Rafael said softly, giving Sonny’s hand a squeeze. “I want to. She deserves to know about the man who completes me.”
Sonny felt his chest swell as he squeezed back. Their argument suddenly felt so distant, so long ago, that it seemed irrelevant now.
“I love you,” Sonny whispered.
“I love you too.”