'you were a vision in the morning when the light came through' - colours, halsey
Rafael Barba can paint, and paint well. His artistic capabilities are a side of him he considers quite personal, a hobby of his youth encouraged by a kind art teacher and his abuela - she bought him his first good set of brushes for his birthday one year, he still cherishes them. Over the decades his love of art has been honed into something he is almost as skilled at as he is a formidable lawyer and master of a courtroom.
His creativity and love of colour bleeds through into other areas of his life, of course. In his tailored suits and their coordinating accessories - matching socks and suspenders in vibrant shades are something more men should consider, Rafael thinks. And also in the interior design of his apartment, a warm and lived in reprieve from his challenging career and the bustling city below it: walls and accents in rich tones, dark wooden furniture, comfortable armchairs next to a large bookcase filled with well read and well loved books.
Rafael tends to keep his passion for painting to himself until he grows close to someone, like when his friendship with Olivia blossomed and they began sharing dinner and good red wine at his apartment on at least a monthly basis. On one of these evenings Olivia had appreciated one of the artworks on his living room wall, one of the few he has displayed in his own home, and in his tipsy state he had admitted that he was the artist.
Sonny, on the other hand, is unaware despite the fact that he and Rafael have been seeing each other exclusively for months now. Rafael isn’t quite sure why he hasn’t said something, Sonny knows so much about him already. The detective seems to want to know anything and everything about him, a fact that Rafael finds endearing if a bit overwhelming at times.
Before Sonny, it had been a long time since he had even attempted a relationship instead of staying in the easy and less prone to heartbreak zone of sex only. But with Sonny it hadn’t even occurred to him not to say yes to dinner, to going home with the detective and getting wonderfully wrecked, to staying the night and staying for breakfast the next morning too.
So here Rafael is on a Saturday afternoon sometime in late spring, standing relaxed and contemplative in his home art studio realising that the shade of blue in the skyline he has been working on is remarkably like a pair of eyes he knows so well, when there is an unexpected but familiar knock on his apartment door.
Rafael startles, paint splattering from the brush in his hand as he whirls around at the noise. He picks up his mobile from one of the cleaner tables in the room to check the time, and realises that no he hadn’t been in a painting daze for too long but that Sonny is half an hour early. Rafael sighs, looking down at his worn jeans that are covered in years of faded paint and thinks fuck it I was going to tell him eventually right? So he leaves the room and strides towards his front door and to his annoyingly pretty boyfriend waiting on the other side.
“You’re early,” he says as he opens the door to let said boyfriend inside.
Sonny smiles, looking at Rafael with a mixture of humour and appreciative heat in his eyes. “And you are covered in paint. It’s a cute look I gotta say but I never thought Rafael Barba would be the type to do his own redecorating work.”
Rafael huffs out a laugh and closes the door behind Sonny. “Quite right, detective.”
Sonny shrugs off his coat and places it on his usual hook by the door, and how nice it is to have a usual place for something of his in Rafael’s home. “You’ve got blue smudged on your face by the way, if I kiss you will it transfer?”
“Do you really care?” Rafael quips, head tilted and eyes focused on Sonny’s.
Sonny licks his distractingly pink lips and shakes his head, “Definitely not.”
He tugs Rafael close, large hands gripping his soft hips, and brings their mouths together hard. Rafael hums in surprise at the intensity and kisses Sonny back in earnest, hands coming up to hold Sonny’s neck as he opens his mouth to happily welcome Sonny in. Only a day since they saw each other last and they are making out in Rafael's hallway like they are starving for it. By the time they pull apart to breathe Sonny is backed against the wall with Rafael's hands twisted in his hair, fingers on his scalp sending shivers down his spine.
“So,” Sonny starts, lips ghosting over Rafael’s jaw in a way that makes it hard to think of anything but the press of their bodies together. “Are you gonna tell me what you’ve been up to?”
Rafael takes a deep, steadying breath to calm his sudden nerves and nods, “Yes.” He trails his right hand from Sonny’s neck and down his arm to take the other man’s hand and leads him towards his studio. “I’ve got something to show you, something of me to show you.”
Rafael opens the door wide to show Sonny his studio, not only his creative space but his calm and safe place, this last bit of him he has kept hidden. The rest of Rafael’s self, his life, his home, is carefully planned and well dressed knowing that others can see. But this space has always been reserved for only himself and so it is organic and messier, worktables strewn with supplies and colour, painters sheets covering the floor by the large windows where his easel stands. Stacks of canvases lean against the far wall, most completed but some still a work in progress. All signed with his initials only.
He holds Sonny’s hand tightly and watches many emotions cross his lovers face: surprise, confusion, awe. That last expression lingers, Sonny’s beautiful blue eyes wide as he takes it all in and Rafael’s heart does a funny little thing that he’s become accustomed to when it comes to the other man. Finally, Sonny tears his eyes away from their surroundings and looks at Rafael. The pure feeling on his face makes Rafael’s chest tighten a little. “Rafa, you did all of these? I know very little about art but I know these are incredible.”
“Thank you. Yes, this is all me.” He tilts his head questioningly, nerves still bothering him. And isn’t that strange? Nervousness was seldom a problem for him, but then Sonny happened. “Are you bothered that I haven’t told you that I paint before?”
Sonny steps closer to Rafael again, arms holding him softly. “Do I wish I had seen how even more talented of a man you are before? A little,” he admits, shrugging. “But I’m sure you had your reasons and I’d never want you to do something you didn’t want to do.”
Rafael can feel himself blushing so he hides his face in Sonny’s neck and just breathes in his intoxicating scent. “God Sonny,” he groans quietly, words spoken into his lovers skin. They stand like that for a moment or two, holding each other close in a comfortable silence.
Sonny places a hand under Rafael’s chin and gentle tilts his head upwards, capturing his lips in a kiss that is chaste but full of intent. When the pulls back he smiles, eyes bright.
“I am so in love with you, Rafael Barba. Thank you for showing me this part of you.”
His voice is sure, his face open with unabashed love. Rafael’s heart does that thing again, the sudden knowledge that what he has been working up to saying to Sonny for weeks is now right here in front of him. Sonny loves him .
Rafael grins back at him, nerves completely gone. “That’s lucky, Dominick Carisi. I am in love with you, too.”
When the sun rises the next morning, the early light shines on the bare skin of Sonny’s back and Rafael can’t help but stare at the beautiful man lying in bed next to him. His face is so soft and peaceful in his sleep, Rafael simply must capture the image. Slowly, carefully, he sits up and leans over to his bedside table. He picks up his mobile and then gets a sketchbook and pencils from the lower drawer - inspiration can strike at any time after all. Placing the book and pencils on his lap, he takes a photograph or two or three of Sonny’s lovely form. Sonny is asleep on his front with his head pillowed on an arm, face turned towards Rafael, who thinks to himself how lucky he is to have this man in his life, in his bed.
Rafael puts his mobile to the side again, knowing the photographs he has taken will work perfectly as references later when he comes to paint the sketch he’s about to do. He has been drawing the view beside him for around five minutes when Sonny stirs, stretching his long limbs as he wakes up. Sonny opens his eyes and frowns in confusion.
“Raf?” he asks, voice still rough with sleep. “What’re you doin’?”
“Capturing your beauty,” Rafael says easily, hand skilfully creating the shape of his lover on the paper. “Your skin looks gorgeous in this light, I’m going to paint you later.”
Sonny’s face flushes pink and he hides his face in the pillow again, words lost to him, hips shifting into the mattress as he makes himself more comfortable. Another few moments pass, the only sound being the soft pencil on paper as Rafael works. Sonny shifts again, feeling hot under Rafael’s focused gaze. He turns his head to blink up at him, lips quirking flirtatiously as a thought comes to mind.
“Y’know you’ve got me naked in bed here, we could be doing something a bit more intimate with our morning. Just slide the sheet a little further down my ass, see what your creative mind comes up with…”
Rafael pauses in his sketching, raising an eyebrow at the younger man. “Lay still for ten more minutes, and I’ll have you bare and begging in one.”
Sonny groans softly at the filthy promise, and does exactly as he is told.