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Lost Cause

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“He’s cheating on me,” Rafael said mournfully.

“He’s not cheating on you,” Olivia said without looking up from her phone.

Rafael glared at her, though since she was still looking at her phone, the effect was mostly lost. “Then how else do you explain him being gone all the time, and when he is finally home, being so exhausted that all he wants to do is sleep?”

Olivia sighed and set her phone down on the bar at Forlini’s. “Could be the double overtime he’s been pulling lately.”

“Yeah, and whose fault is that?” Rafael grumbled under his breath. “But he hasn’t been at work. Believe me, I’ve called the precinct enough times looking for him. He’s just been MIA for most of this past month. And now he’s spending the entire weekend with his parents on Staten Island?” He shook his head, the pit in his stomach growing bigger as it had been with each passing day. “Something’s up with him.”

“Here’s a thought, and just hear me out here: have you tried asking Sonny where he’s been going?”

It was hard to tell in the dim light of the bar, but all of a sudden, Rafael’s cheeks seemed awfully pink, and he seemed suddenly very focused on his drink. “That’s not the point,” he snapped, after swallowing a mouthful of scotch. “I shouldn’t have to ask because if it wasn’t something bad, he should tell me.”

Olivia sighed, and for one moment, it looked like she might impart some much-needed wisdom onto him. Instead, she drained her glass of wine and stood. “Talk to your boyfriend,” she ordered. “He’s the only one who has the answers you’re looking for.”

Rafael glowered at her retreating back. “Thanks for the pep talk, Liv,” he called. “Really feels like old times.” He scowled down at his phone, his last text to Sonny — How’re things at your parents? — still unanswered. “Hard to talk to him when he’s not answering my texts,” he muttered, though he suddenly brightened, undoubtedly bolstered by a bellyful of scotch. “Unless…”

He drained his scotch, tossed some bills on the bar and grabbed his coat, finally resolved on what he needed to do.


 

While Sonny’s parents had turned his childhood bedroom into the guest room decades before, Rafael would always find the image of Sonny in the room surprisingly adorable, all the more so when he was sprawled on his stomach across the full size bed, snoring like a freight train.

Or at least, it would be adorable if it wasn’t 11 at night and if Rafael didn’t have a million questions for him.

Dom and Tessa hadn’t even asked any questions when Rafael showed up unannounced on their doorstep, just gesturing for him to traipse up the narrow stairway to Sonny’s bedroom, where the idiot love of his life was certainly not cheating on him with anything other than one of Tessa’s hand-stitched quilts, and for a moment, Rafael was tempted to call the whole thing off.

But then again, just because he wasn’t cheating on him tonight

He sat on the edge of the bed, the mattress creaking under his weight, and he reached out to run a hand down Sonny’s side. “Sonny,” he said quietly. “Wake up.”

It took a few more tries to get Sonny to open his eyes just enough to squint at Rafael. “Raf?” he said thickly. “What’re you—” He sat bolt upright, the quilt falling off of him and revealing an old, stretched out Harvard t-shirt that definitely shouldn’t have made Rafael’s heart skip a beat at the sight. “Is everything ok?” he asked urgently, searching Rafael’s expression.

Rafael winced. He probably should've expected this reaction. “Everything’s fine,” he assured him, and Sonny’s brow furrowed.

“Everything’s fine and yet you came all the way out to Staten Island in the middle of the night?”

“It’s just after 11,” Rafael informed him. “Hardly the middle of the night.”

Sonny glared at him. “That’s not the point and you know it.”

Rafael sighed. “I know,” he said, before clearing his throat, feeling suddenly very embarrassed. “I just — that is to say, I was, um—”

“Spit it out,” Sonny told him somewhat more sharply than usual.

“I wanted to know what you’ve been up to.”

Sonny blinked. “Huh?”

Rafael waved a dismissive hand. “The long nights, the days when you’ve been too busy to do anything...I was curious.”

Something darkened in Sonny’s expression. “No, you were suspicious,” he said, running a hand across his face before flopping back down on the bed. “Jesus fucking Christ, Raf, you came all this way just to accuse me of cheating on you?”

“Technically, I didn’t—” Sonny glared at him and Rafael winced, the words dying in his throat. “I’m sorry,” he offered. “I know I shouldn’t—”

“No, you shouldn’t,” Sonny informed him dryly. “Mainly because first and foremost, I would never—”

“I know—” Rafael started, but Sonny ignored him.

“And you should trust me, and second of all, I wanted it to be a surprise.”

Rafael frowned. “Wanted what to be a surprise?”

Sonny waved at the desk chair, which was heaped with what looked like dirty laundry, and Rafael wrinkled his nose before glancing back at him. “Can’t you just tell me?” he asked.

When Sonny just glared at him, he sighed and stood, making his way over and carefully picking up a discarded t-shirt from the top of the pile, glancing down at it in surprise. “Max Rose for Congress,” he read aloud before looking back at Sonny. “You’ve been volunteering?”

“Yeah,” Sonny said, slowly sitting up again. “Our district doesn’t have a competitive race, you know, and I wanted to do something for you that would make you proud, so I figured since this was as good a chance as any to try to turn Staten Island blue…”

He shrugged, looking uncomfortable, and Rafael just shook his head slowly. “So in what precious little time you get off from work, you’ve been coming to Staten Island to canvass and phone bank for a congressional long-shot?”

Sonny’s expression fell slightly. “Well, like I said, I figured—”

“Sonny,” Rafael interrupted, but he couldn’t bring himself to continue, too choked up with unexpected and inexplicable emotion. “That’s—”

He broke off, shaking his head, and tossed the t-shirt aside before crossing back to the bed, bending down and kissing Sonny, cradling his jaw in both hands. Sonny laughed lightly, wrapping his arms around Rafael’s waist and pulling him closer. “So you don’t think I’m an idiot who’s wasting my time?”

“I think you’re incredible,” Rafael told him sincerely, kissing him once more. “I think what you’re doing is incredible.” He paused, running his thumb lightly across Sonny’s cheekbone. “I do wish you had told me, though.”

Sonny sighed. “I know, and I’m sorry if I worried you—”

“No, not because of that,” Rafael said, a little impatiently. “Don’t you think I would’ve been out there every weekend with you?”

Sonny laughed again, and this time he pulled Rafael down onto the bed so that he could kiss him properly. “I thought you didn’t believe in lost causes,” he teased.

“FiveThirtyEight has the race at 2 in 7 that the Democrat wins,” Rafael said. “I’ve managed with worse odds than that.” He kissed Sonny’s cheek before adding, “Besides, I fell in love with you, so it appears I have a weakness for lost causes after all…”

Sonny poked him lightly in the stomach, grinning when Rafael winced exaggeratedly. “Well, good news is, there’s still three days to the election,” Sonny told him. “And I’m sure they could find a good Spanish-speaking precinct to have you canvass in tomorrow. If you wanted to help, anyway.”

Rafael made a face. “Knock doors on a Sunday and try to convince all the abuelitas to talk to me on a Sunday?”

“Better than trying to convince all the nonnas I’m gonna end up talking to,” Sonny said with a laugh. “Besides, you never know. They might take one look at you and decide you need fattening up.”

Rafael glanced balefully down at his waistline. “Doubtful,” he sighed, before seizing the opportunity to poke Sonny in the stomach. “You, on the other hand—”

“Stop, my ma’s been on my ass about it enough,” Sonny said with a laugh, pushing his hand away before glancing up at Rafael hopefully. “So what do you say?”

Rafael considered it for a moment. He had a bad back, and bad knees, neither of which would be helped by spending the night on an unfamiliar, too-small bed wearing pajamas he had to borrow from Dom, and the idea of walking around, knocking on doors and talking to strangers was a literal nightmare.

But on the other hand, the man he loved was looking at him with something like hope in his expression, and he knew he could never say no to him. “I’m in,” he said, lacing his fingers with Sonny’s and squeezing his hand. “It may be a long shot, but if we want anything to change, then it’s worth the effort.”

“It is,” Sonny told him, leaning in to kiss him once more. “It really, really is.”