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When Rafael opened the door to their apartment, he expected Sonny to be waiting for him. Normally he’d be going around the kitchen, fixing them something to eat. But today, the place was dark and silent. Rafael thought it was fitting, all things considered.

No SVU case was ever simple, but some of them hit too close to home. And this one was sure to poke at Sonny.

Rafael went into their bedroom to remove his jacket, vest and tie, rolling his sleeves up and unbuttoning his collar. While waiting for his boyfriend, he’d pour himself a drink and heat some leftovers.

Sonny was extremely sensitive, Rafael had picked up on that right when they met. He was sensitive to other people’s feelings, he was observant, and he showed his appreciation through both his actions and his words. Rafael watched Sonny watching other people for their reactions and he noticed his supportive nature in the way he’d put a hand on Rollins’ shoulder when Olivia went hard on her, or how he’d tilt his head to Olivia’s height and ask if she was okay when she looked close to breaking down.

When it came to Rafael himself, he’d always stand close to him, lean towards him, stand tall and let himself tower over him, his warmth enveloping him like a protective hug. Rafael would relax instantly then, breathing him in when they were in public, tucking his face in his neck when they were at home.

He would give Fin advice about how to bond with his son’s baby, first hand experience from babysitting his nieces. He showed Fin a list of the most popular toys, the best parenting books, tricks to stop the baby from crying. Fin listened to his words attentively and thanked him with a silent nod and a slap on the back. Sonny counted that as a successful interaction.

Sonny helped Carmen sometimes. Once Rafael came to his office to find Sonny sitting on his assistant’s chair, picking up his calls and taking messages for him. Rafael was left speechless when Sonny told him Carmen had a bad case of menstrual cramps and had gone home to pick up some supplies. She’d be back in one hour, Sonny told him, but asked if Rafael could give her the rest of the day off.

Other day, while he chose to wait for Rafael so they could go home together, he sat across from Carmen and picked up a few files she was working on, highlighting the appropriate informations under Carmen’s instructions.

He’d even land a hand to helpless rookie attorneys that ran around 1 Hogan Place looking lost. One time, one of them happened to be a defense attorney trying to cut a deal for his client. Rafael was exasperated, but Sonny laughed. “I asked, it wasn’t one of your cases,” he explained.

It was so easy to fall in love with him. Sonny’s heart was huge, and it was bursting with kindness and sympathy. Rafael never thought he’d have what it takes to be in a relationship with someone like Sonny. But unsurprisingly, Sonny had taught him he had a heart too, and it was in the right place.

Rafael was worried about where his state of mind would be tonight. He feared this case could have triggered him. Sonny was still an optimist, but there was so much badgering a person could take before they broke.

A catholic priest had been forcing gay boys to rape girls as part of their punishment for ‘having the devil in them’. And after a lesbian girl was raped by a gay boy, all hell broke loose. Rafael was there when the boy confessed; when he talked about being sick and about how the priest was trying to help him. He heard Sonny’s sharp intake of breath then and he fought to keep his reaction neutral, but he wanted nothing more than to reach for him.

So when he heard keys at the door, he let out a long breath and turned to see a tired-looking Sonny. He had barely stepped into the kitchen when Rafael opened his arms for him. Sonny let out a wrecked sound from the back of his throat when Rafael pulled him close, making soothing sounds.

They stood there for a while, Sonny’s breath shaky, his cheek resting on Rafael’s shoulder, his face against his neck, his arms in a vice grip around his waist. Rafael’s kept his hands on Sonny’s back, holding, caressing, massaging, comforting.

“They’re so young, Rafael,” he whispered into Rafael’s neck. “They’re just kids.”

“I know,” Rafael turned his head so his mouth was close to his boyfriend’s ear, his hands pulling Sonny into him. “But you did a good job. We got him. He’s not going to hurt anyone else. You made sure of that.”

“But it’s done. We were too late,” his voice broke and Rafael felt his chest tighten.

“For them, yeah,” Rafael sighed. “But he’s never preaching ever again. No more victims. We got him before other lives were ruined. And they’ll be okay, Sonny. They still have their God.”

“No, they don’t,” Sonny said angrily and pushed away, but Rafael’s kept his arms around him. Looking in his eyes, Rafael saw a broken heart. “They have what that lunatic told them God was. He said they were sick, that God made a mistake, that the devil got to them.”

“But God makes no mistakes,” he said. Rafael wasn’t a believer, but he heard Sonny say that many times before.

“My priest saved my life, Rafael,” Sonny’s voice broke. “When I was their age, I thought something was wrong with me too. But he told me that God made me like this, so how could I be any less than perfect?”

Rafael smiled softly, reaching up to stroke the side of Sonny’s face, his fingers tracing his cheeks down to his jaw. “He was right,” he breathed.

“I didn’t even understand all the feelings, the urges I had, and I prayed to God to be relieved of what I thought was a defect, I thought that the devil was working his way into my life,” his shoulders sagged and he looked at Rafael as if he was looking for a lifeline.

“Hey, I’m here,” he cupped Sonny’s jaw and tightened his other arm around him. “We’re here. There is never, was never, anything wrong with you, Sonny.”

“I know,” he nodded. “I know that now.”

Rafael took one of Sonny’s hand and placed it on his chest, right where he could feel his heartbeat. “Who could ever look at how much I love you and think that’s anything wrong with that?,” he asked softly. “How could I look at you, right here, and ever believe that you’re anything but a gift from God?”

Sonny eyes filled with tears then, but none of them fell. He gave Rafael a small smile. “But you don’t believe in God.”

“I don’t,” he shook his head. “But I believe in you . And I believe in your faith, and in those kids'. They might know a God that doesn’t approve of them, but they have faith, Sonny. They’ll get there.”

Sonny smiled again and came closer to rest their foreheads together. They shared their breaths for a moment, in silence, until Sonny broke it. “I love you, Raf.”

“I love you, too,” he whispered. “And so does God.”