Rafael wasn’t sleeping, you can tell from the rigid set of his shoulders as he lays beside you in the darkness. His arm is thrown up over his head as he stares at the ceiling, his emerald eyes wide open. You can practically hear the cogs turning inside of his brain, grinding together like brittle metal as he struggles to process his thoughts. You turn onto your side, propping your head upon the pillow so that you can read the profile of his weary features. He drops his gaze so that he doesn’t have to meet yours, so that you won’t have to see the anguish that is ravaging him underneath the calm mask he has been wearing ever since he got home from work. He thinks he’s protecting you, shielding you away the fear he feels writhing in his gut. He knows the instant you see how scared he is, it will all become real.
“You wanna talk about it?” you ask him, your warm palm coming to rest upon his stomach, your thumb lightly smoothing over the muscles of his abdomen through his grey vest.
“No.” he huffs quietly, the edges of his mouth downcast.
Rafael…” you drawl his name out, that chiding tone residing in your voice reminds him that this relationship is a partnership, that you won’t take no for an answer.
He sighs. His arm comes down from above his head so that his large fingers can entwine with your own. It’s the first time he has reached out for your tonight, the first time he’s allowed himself to connect with you and you can feel that agony of his clambering underneath the surface of his skin. You have an idea what has caused it, you are not oblivious.
“These threats…” he began, swallowing hard against the lump of emotion in his throat as he tried to formulate his thoughts into actual words. He can’t bare the thought of losing you, when he sees the pictures they have taken of you, reads what they say will do to you if he doesn’t relent…
It makes him sick to his stomach.
It’s times like this that make him consider maybe you are better off without him, that if he was a better man he would set you free but instead he is selfish. You are haven for him, a shelter from a world that can be cruel and when he’s with you he feels he is more than just ADA Barba, he is Rafael, the man you love, the man that worships the ground you walk on.
“They’re trying to rattle you.” you remind him, your hand slipping underneath the hem of his grey vest. Your fingertips trace along his skin soothingly, his breath catches at the simply caress as he allows himself to absorb it. He doesn’t know what he would do without you, without moments like these.
“It’s working.” he admitted, turning onto his side so that the two of you were face to face. His emerald green eyes look tortured as he meets your gaze for the first time tonight. “It’s not just me they’re threatening anymore.”
You knew that of course, it was the reason that you were never alone during your working day. Everywhere you went your partner was with you, getting coffee, on a case, it didn’t matter what it was, you were never alone for more than two minutes unless it involved a trip to the bathroom.
Every night when you got back to the apartment the two of you lived in, there was always a patrol officer waiting outside, giving you the nod. Your life had changed in the midst of the violence that had been threatened against the two of you, you had leaned into it but Rafael seemed to sense you found it frustrating and disruptive although you had never uttered the words. However your discomfort wasn’t what was important here, the same way Rafael’s wasn’t. He was going to do the right thing, no matter what the cost and you wanted to make sure that he knows you will be right there, standing alongside him.
“Terrence Reynolds deserves justice.” you respond fiercely, your hand coming to rest in the space where his heart resided in his chest. You can feel it beating steadily against your palm, vibrant and living. You think about how lucky you are to be with this man, how glad you are that the two of you managed to find each other and how happy you are together.
Your mind flicks back to the family sitting at home grieving the loss of their son. An innocent college student caught up in a case of mistaken identity, filled with over thirty bullets by three police officers that should have known better. You believed that they needed to be held accountable for their mistake.
“You have to go after them with everything you’ve got.” you told him, the conviction in your voice resolute as you met that beautiful emerald stare.
There was a fire in your eyes, one that Rafael had come to love over the past couple of years the two of you had spent together. It reminded him of how strong you were, how tenacious your sense of morality was. It gave him strength and Rafael yearned for that right now, more than he ever cared to admit.
He buries his face into your hair, inhaling your sweet, floral scent as he breathes you in. He needs this right now, he needs to feel close to you. Out of everyone in the world you are the only one that understands him. He knows the risks you take on the job, he has long accepted those, it’s this new development that causes such doubt and uncertainty. He would never be able to forgive himself if he was the reason something happened to you.
“Mi vida.” he whispers against your soft skin as he gathers you up in his arms and holds you close so he can feel your heart beating against his own. “Mi amor.”
My life, my love…