It was hard for Sonny, being halfway across the country from his husband and daughter. For the first few weeks after Will and Ari left for LA, they scheduled Skype conversations and Sonny even managed to be able to sing Ari to sleep through the computer. But once the movie really started picking up, and the producers requested rewrites, it got difficult for Will to stick to their schedule and more often than not, Sonny had been going to sleep with only a Goodnight. I love you. text from or to Will.
They had promised each other that they would see each other for Christmas - either Will and Ari would come home or Sonny would go out to LA to visit - but they hadn’t made plans yet and Thanksgiving was already in two days. He’d thought about just booking a flight to California but he didn’t want to go out there only to find that Will had come back to Salem to surprise him.
To fill up the longing for his family, Sonny buried himself in the club, working double shifts and oftentimes sleeping in his office to avoid returning to an empty apartment, an empty bedroom, an empty bed. Running around town doing errands, gave Sonny purpose, particularly driving across town to provide the bi-weekly cup supply to University Hospital.
* * * * * * * *
The morning of Thanksgiving, Sonny relieved Ben of his duty to go to the hospital and made the ride himself, hoping he might be able to get in touch with Will on the way. There was no answer the three times he tried Will’s phone and Sonny sighed heavily, giving up; he hoped that Will would call him back when he saw the missed calls. So when Paul Narita walked back into his life, Sonny was feeling incredibly lonely and in a complete limbo with Will.
Pulling the headphones out of his ears, Sonny barely had time to register the fact that Paul was standing in front of him, his arm in a sling and dressed in a wifebeater and basketball shorts. In an instant, Paul closed the distance between them and smashed their lips together and all Sonny could do was to instinctively kiss back.
Coming to his senses and ignoring the sudden increase in his heartbeat, Sonny pulled away.
“What are you doing here?”
“I came here for surgery,” Paul said.
“The shoulder.” Sonny nodded to the sling.
“Yeah. I had no idea you were here.”
Before Sonny could answer, the handle of the door rattled and Anne and Theresa’s voices came muffled through, asking why the door was locked.
Paul’s eyes went wide in fear and he whispered, “They can’t find me in here with you,” and he ran into the storage closet just as Anne and Theresa managed to pick the lock.
Sonny quickly put his earbuds back in and went back to unloading the coffee cups. There was a tap on his shoulder and he pulled his buds out again as he turned to face Will’s cousin to explain to her why the door was locked.
After Anne and Theresa left, mollified by Sonny’s answer, Sonny said, “You can come out of the closet. Or not. Whatever you think is best.”
“Look, Sonny. I have to get back to my room before Theresa sends out a search party but I want to catch up. Come to my room?”
“Are you sure people won’t think you’re gay by association?” Sonny snapped.
“Just come. Please,” Paul said as left.
* * * * * * * * *
“You’re married?” Paul asked dumbly, staring blankly at the ring on the finger Sonny was waving in the air.
“Yes. What I have now is better. When we got married we were surrounded by our friends and our family. My husband’s great-grandmother gave this great speech about how lucky we were to be able to live in a time where we can be ourselves wherever we go. That we can love each other without shame and without hiding. And with you I could never have that. I’m with the person I’m meant to be with for the rest of my life and I’m happier now than I ever thought I could be. I’m sorry, Paul,” Sonny said sincerely.
Paul bit his lip and shook his head. “No. I’m sorry. I was so stupid. I’m glad you got everything you ever wanted. You deserve it, Sonny.”
Sonny smiled sadly at Paul. “I hope someday you can have what my husband and I have.”
Paul played with the blanket draped over his lap.
“I should go,” Sonny said and walked to the door.
“It wasn’t because I didn’t love you,” Paul said to Sonny’s back.
Sonny turned around. “I know. That was the worst part.” With that he was gone.
* * * * * * * * *
Sonny bumped into Paul again a couple weeks later. Sonny had just finished his meeting with Chad about the new South Side club and he was walking through the Square when he spotted Paul across the plaza. Paul noticed him at the same time and immediately made a bee line for Sonny.
“How’s the arm?” Sonny asked.
“It still hurts a little,” Paul replied. “But the hospital released me. My therapist says I probably won’t be able to pitch again though.”
“Oh, Paul. I’m really sorry,” Sonny said genuinely.
“Thanks. I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do now. Baseball’s been my life for as long as I can remember.”
“I’m sure you’ll figure something out.”
Paul smiled at him and Sonny’s heart unwittingly did a little flipflop in his chest.
“How are you?” Paul asked.
“I’m actually on the way back to my club. I just had a meeting with my business partner about our new one.”
“You always said you wanted to own your own business,” Paul said. “It’s really great that you got to do it.”
“Thanks,” Sonny said and he felt himself blush at Paul’s praise. They stared at each other for a minute. Then Sonny said, “I - um - I should get back and let my baristas get lunch.”
“Yeah. Yeah, of course. It was great seeing you, Sonny.”
Sonny smiled and walked away.
* * * * * * * * * *
“You’re not coming home for Christmas?” Sonny asked Will’s image on his computer screen.
“The movie’s really picking up. They need me to do a lot of rewrites,” Will said.
“Don’t they celebrate Christmas and New Year’s in Los Angeles?”
Will snorted in amusement. “Of course they do. But without being on set, I’ll have a lot of time to work on the rewrites.”
“Can’t you do it here?” Sonny asked and he knew he sounded like a petulant child.
“There’s too much stuff to pack up and carry on the plane. I’m really sorry, baby. I need to stay here. Plus, my mom’s not going back and it’s her first Christmas without EJ. I really want to be here for her and the kids.”
Sonny pouted. “I guess I can’t argue with you being all noble and supportive for your family.”
Will grinned. “Why don’t you come here?!” Will asked excitedly. “Don’t you want to get away from the cold weather?”
“I’m in the middle of building the new club and I can’t leave Chad alone to take care of TBD,” Sonny replied.
Will pouted. “It’s only a few more months. I’ll be home before you know it.”
“I know. I just miss you.”
Will’s eyes softened. “I know. I miss you too.”
Sonny heard Sami’s voice call out for Will.
“My mom needs me. I should go,” Will said.
Sonny nodded. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” Will kissed his fingers and pressed them to his computer screen. “I’ll talk to you soon?”
Sonny nodded again and then the screen went black. He sighed, grabbed his keys, and headed to TBD, the papers and blueprints for the new club in a folder under his arm.
“The entire roof collapsed?” Sonny asked weakly. The contractor was on the phone and informing him of the bad news. “How much will it cost to fix it? $100,000?!” Sonny screeched. “That’s extortion!” He balled his free hand into a fist and drew his mouth into a thin line. “Fine. Fine. I’ll get you the money by the end of the week.” He hung up and ran his hands over his face.
Sonny lifted his face and found Paul staring at him, concern on his face.
“Hi,” Sonny croaked.
“Are you okay?”
“No. Not really,” Sonny admitted. “The roof on my new club collapsed and it’s going to take a $100,000 to repair it.”
Sonny nodded and sighed in exasperation. “I have no idea how I’m going to pay for it.”
“Didn’t you say you have a business partner?”
“Yeah. But he didn’t really want to have anything to do with the new club. He said he wanted it to be all mine.”
“Well, if you need a loan, I’d be happy to give it you,” Paul offered.
Sonny stared at him, his mouth open a little. Swallowing, Sonny said, “I - I can’t take that kind of money from you. But thank you.”
“It’s your business. I want you to feel comfortable about it.”
“Thanks. Really,” Sonny said. “Can I get you a coffee or something?”
“Yeah. That’d be great.” Paul sat down on one of the stools. “So this is where your family’s from?”
“I have to say. You never seemed much like a small town boy.”
Sonny laughed. “That’s probably because I didn’t grow up here. But it’s home now.”
Paul’s smiled faded. “With your husband.”
Sonny nodded slowly, as he slid the cup of coffee across the counter. “Will. And our daughter.” Paul’s eyes went wide. “Biologically she’s Will’s but her mom’s not around and Ari is as much my daughter as she is theirs.”
“I really am happy for you, Sonny. You got everything you wanted.”
“Thanks,” Sonny said but it felt bittersweet somehow. “I, um, I should get back to work. Try and figure out something about the new club.”
“Right. If you decide you need the loan, the offer stands whenever,” Paul said, grabbed his coffee, and left TBD.
Sonny watched him leave and worried his bottom lip between his teeth. He really wished Will was around for him to talk to. Paul’s offer was so tempting but he couldn’t take him up on it, could he?
* * * * * * * * *
Christmas at the Hortons’ was lonely without Will. It was his first year with an ornament for the tree and he had to hang it by himself, without Will there to watch, along with Will’s and Ari’s in their stead. Will and Ari Skyped in during the celebration but Sonny had already hung the ornaments and it was a brief conversation anyway, with Will and Ari rushing off to have lunch with Sami, the kids, and Lucas who was also missing the Horton ceremony to visit with his daughter.
Missing Will and not feeling very festive, Sonny graciously opted out of Christmas mass with the Bradys and decided he would work on trying to get the money together for the repairs to the new club.
He was halfway through Horton Town Square when he spied Paul sitting alone at a table near the edge. He was eating a cup of ice cream and had a cup of coffee on a saucer in front of him.
“Not giving business to my competition I hope?” Sonny teased, walking up behind Paul.
Paul turned and grinned. “TBD was closed.”
Sonny laughed. “Yeah. I know. I was just heading there to get some work done.”
“Why aren’t you with your family?” Paul asked, licking his ice cream to stop it from dripping down his hand.
Sonny’s mouth was suddenly very dry as he watched the length of Paul’s tongue slip up the cone and back into his mouth. He swallowed thickly and then said, “Will and Ari are in LA with Will’s parents and siblings. He couldn’t get away from the movie and I have too much stuff to do here with the new club.”
“Oh. I’m sorry. That must be difficult for you. Being away from them during the holidays.”
“It’s not the greatest,” Sonny admitted. “But Will needs to be out there right now. So we’re making it work. What about you? Are you going back to San Francisco for New Year’s?
“No. I’ll be here,” Paul said, biting into his ice cream cone.
“Well, I’m having a New Year’s party at TBD. You should come,” Sonny invited.
Paul looked up at him with steel gray eyes. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah. Yeah,” Sonny said, even as heart skipped a beat.
“Okay. Thanks. Yeah. I’ll be there.” Paul popped the last piece of cone into his mouth and stood up.
* * * * * * *
The rest of the week passed uneventfully, Sonny mostly preoccupied with getting TBD ready for the New Year’s party and with trying to find some way to pay for the repairs to the South Side club.
He hadn’t spoken to Will much since he had Skyped into the ornament ceremony; they had only exchanged a few texts here and there, just mere pleasantries. It felt as if they weren’t even friends anymore, they were so far apart from each other physically and emotionally. But Sonny carried on, his everlasting love for Will and the certainty that they would get themselves back on track once Will returned to Salem enough to ground him in the time being.
New Year’s Eve was a surprisingly quiet day, all the preparations pretty much secured and T anxious to help him. Partygoers started filtering into the club around seven o’clock, most of them having dinner and then staying for the festivities.
Sonny was putting up the last pieces of tinsel around 10 o’clock when he saw Paul walk in. His breath caught in his throat. Paul was wearing a nice pair of dark slacks with a tan blazer over a well-fitting plain T-shirt that matched his eyes. He looked stunning.
Sonny shook the thought away as Paul smiled at him and walked over. “Need any help?”
“Uh. No. I’m good. Thanks,” Sonny replied. “I’m glad you came. Things should start picking up around ten thirty.” After a beat, Sonny asked, “Can I get you anything? Food? Drink?”
“Just a coffee,” Paul said, following Sonny to the bar. “Thanks.”
“I have some last minute things to do. Will you be alright?”
Paul nodded and Sonny disappeared.
* * * * * * *
“This is a really great party,” Paul shouted so he could be heard over the music and chatter. It was just about a quarter to midnight and the place was packed.
“Thanks. It’s better than last year’s,” Sonny replied loudly. “More people.” He grinned and Paul laughed. Then Sonny’s smile faded. “Will was here last year though.”
“Okay. That’s it. No feeling sorry for yourself, mister. Let’s go.” Paul held his hand out to Sonny. “Dance with me.”
Sonny stared at Paul’s outstretched hand. Butterflies fluttered at the thought of dancing with Paul again. They had danced many nights in Paul’s hotel room in San Francisco. Those dances were some of his best memories from that year. After only a moment’s hesitation, Sonny took Paul’s hand and let him lead him onto the makeshift dance floor.
They stopped on the edge of the crowd near the doors and Paul tentatively put his hands on Sonny’s hips. Sonny slowly wrapped his arms around Paul’s neck but no other parts of their bodies touched. It was like the dances girls and boys used to share in the 50s. Sonny laughed at the thought.
“What’s so funny?” Paul asked.
“I was just thinking we probably look like teenagers from the 50s, dancing like this,” Sonny said, the ends of his mouth twitching.
Paul snorted in amusement and slid his arms around Sonny’s waist, pulling him closer. Sonny squeaked in surprise but went willingly.
“This better?” Paul asked, as their chests fell flush against each other.
Sonny hoped Paul couldn’t feel his heart beating a mile a minute. “Yeah,” Sonny said breathlessly.
“Do you remember all those times we danced in the hotel?” Paul asked quietly. Sonny barely heard him over the noise.
“Of course I do,” Sonny answered, equally as quiet.
Paul’s eyes searched his as all around them people started counting down to midnight.
“Happy New Year, Sonny,” Paul said over the noisemakers and cheering.
“Happy New Year, Paul,” Sonny said and, without thinking, pressed their lips together in soft kiss.
Paul made a shocked noise but deepened the kiss before Sonny could pull away. Sonny tightened his arms around Paul’s neck as he slipped his tongue past Paul’s lips, and Paul pulled him impossibly closer as he slotted their lips together more firmly.
A glass shattered somewhere on the other side of the room and Sonny broke away with a gasp.
“Sonny…” Paul said but Sonny jumped out of his arms as if he’d been burned and disappeared to clean up the mess without a word.
* * * * * * * *
“Come on, Will. I really need to talk to you,” Sonny mumbled into his phone, tapping his foot impatiently as he listened to the ring with no answer.
He was standing just inside the door of their apartment, his hand running through his hair. He hung up the phone and threw it onto the couch impatiently.
“Dammit.” He collapsed sideways onto the couch, his eyes closed in frustration and sudden exhaustion.
They were on a rooftop garden, people chattering around them…They were in a hotel room, plants scattered around the walls and pictures hanging haphazardly…. “It’s weird because I feel like I’ve known you my whole life,” Sonny was saying. “I can’t believe we just met.”…. “Well, I can’t believe it either,” Paul was agreeing…. “I just know I want to do this,” Sonny was replying. Then he was closing the gap between them and pressing his lips to Paul’s for the first time…..
Sonny jolted awake at the sound of his phone buzzing next to his ear. He had fallen asleep on the couch. He twisted his arm back around him and picked up his phone.
Will’s face blazed at him. “Hey,” Sonny answered groggily.
“Sonny!” Will said excitedly. “Happy New Year!”
Sonny smiled a litte. “I wish you were here.”
“I know. I’m not going to have anyone to kiss when it’s midnight here,” Will said and Sonny could tell he was pouting. His stomach squirmed uncomfortably with guilt.
“It’s only a few more months,” Sonny said, not sure who exactly he was trying to remind.
“Yeah,” Will said softly. “I have to go put Ari back to bed. I love you.”
“I love you too. And tell Ari goodnight from me.”
“I will. Talk to you soon.”
“Bye,” Sonny said as the line went dead.
He sighed heavily and dragged himself into the bedroom, where he undressed quickly and fell into a fitful sleep.
Sonny spent the weeks following New Year’s deliberately avoiding Paul. His dreams since their kiss at TBD had been haunted with memories of their time together in San Francisco: their first kiss, their first date, their first time, all the times they spent together in secret in Paul’s hotel room.
It was getting harder being away from Will for so long; they had never been apart for more than a week since Sonny had come to Salem two and half years ago. That was why his mind was gravitating towards Paul, Sonny told himself. Because he missed his husband and Paul was familiar, a good placeholder until Will returned from California. Of course, it didn’t help that he was having trouble keeping in touch with Will. Their daily Skype calls had turned into weekly calls, and were slowly becoming non-existent, Will’s texts informing him that his time on the movie was increasing and he couldn’t be spared. Frustrated, Sonny found his mind drifting more and more towards Paul despite himself.
His dreams of his time in a bed with Paul in San Francisco evolved into time in a bed with Paul in the Salem Inn, of dinners on Canary Wharf to dinners at the Penthouse Grille, of watching Paul pitching on a field in San Francisco to pitching on a field in Chicago. Nearly every night for the last two weeks of January, Sonny woke up sweating and aroused, guilt twisting in his stomach, even as he relieved himself with Paul’s name on his lips.
* * * * * * * *
To keep thoughts of Paul far away from his mind, Sonny buried himself in work. He pulled overtime at TBD and spent nearly every free minute that he wasn’t eating or sleeping at the South Side club trying to get the place up to inspection and in order for opening.
As February blew into Salem with a blizzard, Sonny no longer was able to dodge Paul. (It seemed that Paul had been onto him and had changed his schedule accordingly.) Paul cornered him in his office shortly before Valentine’s Day.
“You’ve been avoiding me,” Paul said without pretense.
Sonny hissed as he looked up. “I’ve just been busy.”
“Bullshit.” Paul crossed his arms across his chest. “I know you too well. Even after three years. We almost got married. You think I don’t know when you’re avoiding me?”
Sonny glared at him.
“You want to talk about what happened on New Year’s?” Paul asked, settling in a chair in front of Sonny’s desk.
“Nothing happened. It was a New Year’s kiss. It didn’t mean anything,” Sonny said, not quite meeting Paul’s eyes.
“So you’ve been avoiding me for six weeks because of a kiss that meant nothing?”
“I haven’t been avoiding you,” Sonny repeated with a sigh. He pushed himself out of his chair and walked over to the filing cabinet across the room, if only to put space between himself and Paul.
“Then kiss me again,” Paul said.
Sonny nearly dropped the papers he had been holding. “What?!”
“Kiss me again. Here. Right now. Prove to me that that kiss meant nothing.”
Sonny turned around and Paul was suddenly standing in front of him. He swallowed thickly, his mouth and throat dry, as he looked Paul in the eyes. Paul was serious.
“I…” Sonny started but didn’t finish because Paul’s lips were on his.
Sonny moaned into the kiss involuntarily and instinctively draped his arms around Paul’s shoulders. Encouraged, Paul grabbed Sonny’s hips and pulled him closer; Sonny tightened his grip on Paul’s neck and twined his fingers in Paul’s hair. Just as Paul parted Sonny’s lips with his tongue, Sonny pulled away, gasping.
Paul’s eyes were blown wide and his lips were swollen. There was also a slight smirk on his face.
“Please leave, Paul,” Sonny said hoarsely. “That meant nothing and it’s not going to happen again.”
Paul stepped back. “Fine. Okay. Then it won’t bother you to know that I’m seeing someone. In secret, of course.”
“Good. That’s good,” Sonny said, brushing past Paul. He twisted his face into a stoic mask, even though his heart was in his throat and his stomach burned with jealousy. “Have a good Valentine’s Day with him.”
“Right. You too. With Will,” Paul said, and left.
Sonny collapsed into his chair and wiped away the hot tears that prickled at the corners of his eyes.
* * * * * * * *
The beginning of March greeted Sonny with the news of Adrienne’s affair with Lucas and his parents’ subsequent divorce. With his mind preoccupied over his parents’ failed marriage and his own marriage falling apart (Talking to Will was still a rare occurrence, let alone Skyping with him.), Sonny’s attention to the new South Side club became erratic and disjointed. It was only when he received the call from the contractor that he needed to shell out even more money for permits and repairs of things that should have been built the right way the first time that Sonny actually realized how neglectful he had been towards the new club.
“Another $200,000?!” Sonny barked into the phone. “Alright. I’ll get you the money by Monday.” He hung up the phone and sighed.
Sonny ran his hands over his face as Paul’s words from months ago echoed in his head: “Well, if you need a loan, I’d be happy to give it you.”
Sonny sighed again and left TBD.
* * * * * * * *
Sonny stared at Paul’s hotel room for five minutes before raising a fist and knocking on the door. He secretly hoped Paul wouldn’t be there. But a second later the door swung open, revealing Paul dressed in low-slung sweatpants and a loose-fitting baseball T. Sonny’s heart jumped in his chest.
“Sonny?” Paul’s face was a mix of shock and happy-surprise.
“Hi. I need to talk to you. Can I come in?” Sonny asked.
“Yeah. Of course.” Paul stepped aside and closed the door behind Sonny. “What’s going on? Is something wrong?”
Sonny laughed bitterly. “Everything’s wrong,” Sonny answered. “My mother’s sleeping with my father-in-law. My father’s sleeping with his hot, young secretary. My parents are getting divorced. I can’t get in touch with my husband and my new club is never going to get off the ground because it keeps falling apart and I don’t have the money to make the repairs.”
He hadn’t meant to tell Paul all of that, but there it was, out in the open.
“I told you if you need money, I’d be glad to loan it to you,” Paul replied. “I’m not sure I can do anything about the rest of it though. I’m sorry your life sucks right now.”
Sonny sighed deeply and sat down on the bed. He dug his hand into his coat pocket and pulled out a baseball.
“Is that-?” Paul asked.
“Your home run ball. I came here to ask you if you mind if I sold it. For the money for the club.”
“It was a gift to you. It’s yours to do with what you want,” Paul said, stepping closer to the bed.
“It’s your ball. You were so proud you hit a home run. I won’t sell it if you don’t want me to.”
“I was so happy that day,” Paul said. He sat down on the bed next to Sonny and Sonny was hyperaware of how close they were. “If I had to picture a perfect day, I think that would be it.”
“Life was somehow so much simpler then,” Sonny muttered quietly. “Just the two of us in a hotel room.”
“Kind of like right now,” Paul said softly.
Sonny looked up at Paul. Paul’s eyes were shining and earnest, and Sonny felt like he was drowning. Drowning in memories of the past. Drowning in the mess of his present. Drowning in desire for what could be a future.
Sonny’s lips parted involuntarily and his breathing had sped up along with his heart without his knowledge. He stared into Paul’s eyes, searching for he didn’t know what, maybe a reason to not do what he so badly wanted to do, maybe a reason to do exactly what he wanted to do. Finding neither and both, Sonny leaned forward into the space between them and brushed his lips against Paul’s.
Soft and tentative at first, Paul cupped the back of Sonny’s head and pressed their mouths together more securely, his tongue darting past Sonny’s parted lips. Sonny melted into the kiss, tangled his tongue with Paul’s; the baseball dropped from his hand as he moved it to bunch his fingers in Paul’s shirt and pull him closer.
They fell back sideways onto the bed, still kissing, but broke apart soon after to shift up the bed so they were laying full-length. At some point, Sonny wasn’t sure when exactly, their shirts and Sonny’s shoes had come off, then their pants, and lastly, their underwear.
It had been a long time since he had been intimate with Paul like this, but muscle memory was amazing: Sonny remembered exactly how and where to kiss and bite and touch to make Paul moan and whimper and cry out his name, and Paul knew the precise places and positions and movements to make Sonny squirm underneath him and beg for more.
After, sated and dazed, Sonny fell asleep in Paul’s arms and had the most peaceful sleep he’d had two months.
* * * * * * * *
Sonny woke in the cocoon of someone’s arms. In his half-asleep state, he thought it was Will but his chest felt more solid, the arm around his back more muscular.
Sonny blinked himself fully awake - and nearly threw up. Paul was fast asleep next to him, his arm curled around Sonny. In an instant, last night came flooding back to Sonny and he shot out of the bed, not caring if he woke Paul or not. He pulled his jeans on roughly and stuffed his arms back in his shirt so violently he almost ripped it.
“Sonny?” Paul asked, rubbing his eyes.
“I have to go,” Sonny responded, buttoning his shirt without care if it was done up properly. He grabbed his shoes, underwear, keys, and jacket, and fled from the room.
* * * * * * * *
Sonny somehow made it back to the apartment without incident. His whole body was shaking when he stepped into the shower; he nearly clawed off his skin to rid himself of the guilt and memory of last night, and the deep burning knowledge in his heart that he had enjoyed and wanted every second of it.
Fifteen minutes later, after he had scrubbed his skin raw and nearly bleeding, Sonny emerged from the shower feeling just as dirty and disgusting as he had when he had gotten in. He dried himself and dressed slowly, tried to forget the horrible thing he had done, but no towel, no amount of clean clothes, could erase the memory of Paul’s lips, hands, body working him over expertly, and the pleasure of making Paul come apart beneath him.
His phone buzzed loudly, scaring him out of his reverie. Will’s face stared up at him accusingly.
“Hello?” Sonny answered shakily.
“Did I wake you? Sorry,” Will said.
“No. It’s okay,” Sonny answered. “I was awake. Early shift at the club.” His stomach gnawed with guilt. He should tell Will. He should. But it wasn’t something he could do over the phone. “Why are you awake?”
“Early call. I just wanted to hear your voice,” Will said. “I miss you.”
Sonny’s gut twisted painfully. He couldn’t talk to Will any longer or he might throw up. “I miss you, too. I’m sorry. I really have to go. I’m short staffed today.”
“Okay. Talk to you soon?”
“Yeah,” Sonny said.
“You too,” Sonny answered and hung up. It took him five minutes of hyperventilating and deep breathing before he could make his way into the kitchen for breakfast.
* * * * * * * * *
Sonny managed to avoid Paul for two days.
“Is this how it’s going to be?” Paul asked, barging into Sonny’s office once again.
Sonny jumped up and shut the door, locking it without thinking. “You have to stop doing this Paul.”
“Do what? Get you talk about what’s happening between us?”
“Nothing’s happening between us,” Sonny snapped.
Paul scoffed. “Is that what you call what happened two nights ago?”
“That shouldn’t have happened,” Sonny replied stupidly, knowing what a terrible excuse that was. “I cheated on my husband whom I love very much. It can’t ever happen again. I’m going to tell Will as soon as he comes home.”
“Why not tell him now?” Paul countered, taking a step closer.
“That’s not something you do over the phone,” Sonny said. His heart unwittingly skipped several beats as Paul closed in on his personal space.
“Or is it because you don’t want him to know?” Paul challenged.
“I don’t - Of course I want him to know,” Sonny said weakly as Paul trapped him against his desk.
Sonny’s eyes flickered to Paul’s lips for no more than a second; when he looked back up, Paul was smirking. Then Paul grabbed his waist and pulled him into a rough kiss.
Sonny kissed back furiously despite himself, wrapped his arms around Paul’s back, and clutched at Paul’s shirt. His blood thrummed in his veins and his skin burned like he was on fire. He felt more alive than he had felt in a long time.
His body aching with desire, Sonny slid his hands forward and unbuttoned Paul’s shirt with well-practiced ease. As he broke the kiss to trail wet open-mouthed kisses across Paul’s cheek and neck and shoulders, he felt Paul nearly rip off his shirt and he released Paul’s arms to free himself of the fabric. Sonny sighed in relief as Paul pulled him closer, their bare chests flush. He squeaked in surprise into Paul’s mouth when Paul lifted him up and deposited him on the desk, the papers somehow shoved out of the way and onto the floor; Sonny wrapped his legs around Paul’s waist and dug his nails into Paul’s back.
Sonny dropped his head back as Paul bit and sucked on his neck, Sonny’s mind too clouded with desire and arousal to care that there would be a mark there tomorrow that he would have to explain.
Just as Paul was making his way down Sonny’s chest - and fumbling his fingers over Sonny’s belt buckle - there was a knock on the door.
“St - stop,” Sonny stuttered, pushing Paul away. He didn’t want to think about how reluctant he was to do so or how painfully aroused he was.
He quickly pulled on his shirt and buttoned it and unlocked the door. Taking a deep breath and praying that he didn’t look as flushed as he felt, Sonny opened the door to reveal Chad.
“Did you forget about our meeting?” Chad asked.
Sonny stared dumbly at his business partner; his mind was still fuzzy with arousal. “I - yeah, sorry. I got caught up with paperwork and stuff.” His voice was surprisingly stable. “Give me like two minutes to finish something and I’ll be right out.”
Chad nodded and disappeared.
“Two minutes, huh?” Paul smirked, sauntering over to him and pushing him up against the now closed door. “Is that a challenge?”
“No -” Sonny started to say but Paul had already pulled Sonny’s pants down and taken Sonny into his mouth.
* * * * * * * * *
After that, Sonny found it impossible to stay away from Paul. He dreamt about their bodies moving together, their lips and hands all over each other, the fire that blazed through his veins at Paul’s touch.
It shocked and scared Sonny how much he suddenly understood his parents’ obsession with affairs. Being with someone who wasn’t his husband was intoxicating and heady and Sonny’s willpower was near non-existent. He knew in his mind and his heart that he’d already broken his wedding vows, that he couldn’t be with Paul again, that it had to stop at two times; but his body wanted what it wanted and every nerve, every bone in his system wanted Paul.
He told himself sometimes that it was just because he was sex starved, that he missed the intimacy of being with someone he cared about, something he hadn’t had since Will had left for LA five months ago. Still, a nagging part of his brain, the part of his brain that knew what it meant to constantly be thinking about someone and wanting to be with them all the time, told him that it was something more. That the unresolved feelings he thought had been resolved by falling in love with Will were resurfacing and working themselves out in the hotel room in the Salem Inn. It was disconcerting to think that he could be falling back in love with Paul; Will was the love of his life and Paul was his past, but he couldn’t seem to bring himself to listen to those thoughts, or to care.
So he returned to Paul every night like a moth drawn to a flame. The guilt still burned in his chest afterwards, but the pleasure of being with Paul again was too strong, and eventually even his conscience gave in.
Oddly, it was like being in San Francisco again: they spent most of their time together sequestered away in secrecy in a hotel room - Sonny refused to bring the affair into his marriage bed - and in public they were mere acquaintances that bordered on friends. Paul didn’t mind the hiding: he was still in the closet for all intents and purposes and it made it even hotter somehow, that they were having a real affair, rather than just not being true himself.
Sonny knew it was a dangerous game he was playing, as it was then; Salem was a small town, much smaller than San Francisco had been, and any one of his or Will’s family members could catch him leaving the Salem Inn or read into the smiles or accidental touches that passed between him and Paul whenever they were seen together.
But March passed without incident, and he was just thinking that he might get away with it, that he might be able to keep up the affair without consequences, when he opened the door to the apartment on April 2nd and found himself face-to-face with Will.
“Surprise!” Will shouted, his arms open wide and an ear-to-ear grin on his face.
“Will,” Sonny croaked. His world had been tilted on its axis the last couple months with Paul and now, suddenly, it had righted itself, and yet also collided with the secret life he had so carefully carved out for himself in that hotel room in the Salem Inn.
“Will!” Sonny exclaimed, schooling his features into a look of genuine joy and surprise. “What are you doing here?!”
“I came back. I wanted to surprise you for our anniversary!”
Sonny’s heart skipped a beat. Their one year wedding anniversary was tomorrow.
As I give you this ring, so I give you my heart….Husbands for life.
Sonny grinned as he raked his eyes up and down Will’s body. It had been nearly six months since he had seen his husband in the flesh. He was tan and his hair was cropped shorter than it usually was. It also looked like he had been working out. Sonny’s throat was suddenly very dry. It had been so long since he been with Will.
Arousal pooling low in his stomach, Sonny crossed the room in two strides and slammed his mouth against Will’s. Will smiled into the kiss and wrapped his arms around Sonny’s neck, Sonny sliding his own arms around Will’s waist and pulling him close.
Kissing Will again was simple, easy, and so much like Heaven. The world and his worries melted away as Will parted his lips with his tongue, turned his head a little bit to slot their lips together more firmly. Sonny moaned into Will’s mouth and then Will was biting and sucking Sonny’s lower lip between his teeth, making Sonny gasp.
“Bedroom, now,” Sonny breathed against Will’s mouth and he grabbed a fistful of Will’s shirt and dragged him backwards into their bedroom.
Will broke the kiss and he kicked the door shut behind them, trailing kisses down Sonny’s neck, as he expertly unbuttoned Sonny’s shirt.
“Missed you,” Will mumbled against Sonny’s skin as he finished off the buttons and pushed the shirt off Sonny’s shoulders.
“Missed - missed you, too,” Sonny stuttered, dazed and overwhelmed, every nerve in his body on fire.
Sonny had no idea how, but suddenly they were both naked, Will on top of him, pressing Sonny into the mattress. Through his haze of arousal, Sonny thought it was like riding a bicycle, getting reacquainted with his husband’s body, the memory of all the places that made Will go crazy and squirm and cry out above and beneath him so easily accessible. He registered briefly how different it felt, being with Will versus being with Paul, but as he came with a shout of Will’s name, Sonny’s mind and heart and soul belonged to Will only.
* * * * * * * *
“Happy anniversary,” a familiar voice said in his ear.
Sonny smiled and blinked awake to blue eyes shining at him. Will’s arm was draped over his middle, their legs tangled together under the sheets, and their faces were inches apart. It was so nice to wake up like this again, Will’s eyes being the first thing he saw in the morning, so full of love and adoration. The peace that bloomed in his chest was overwhelming.
“I hope you didn’t get me a present because nothing can beat this,” Sonny said, cupping Will’s cheek gently, and stroking his face with his thumb.
Will snorted in amusement. “Do you use that line on all the boys or am I special?”
Sonny grinned. “You’re special.” Sonny stuck his tongue between his teeth as they laughed together and then leaned forward to brush his lips against Will’s.
“Mmmm,” Sonny moaned as Will pressed harder against his mouth, nothing feverish, just more firm. “I missed this. Missed waking up with you next to me.”
Will’s eyes sparkled. “Me too.” Will smiled softly and Sonny’s heart expanded with so much joy and love. He hadn’t realized just how much he had missed his husband until this moment.
Smiling contentedly, Sonny burrowed further down under the covers to rest his head on Will’s shoulder. Will’s arm immediately curled around his shoulders and his fingers tangled in Sonny’s hair. It was a familiar, wonderful feeling, and it lulled Sonny back into a peaceful sleep.
* * * * * * * *
“Sonny. Sonny, baby, wake up,” Will said quietly, stroking Sonny’s hair.
Sonny squinted his eyes open. “What time is it?”
“It’s two o’clock in the afternoon. You were out like a light. Have you been sleeping alright?” Will asked, concern in his voice and his eyes.
Memories of Paul trailing hot kisses down his chest, across his shoulders, over his back floated in front of his eyes. Come to think of it, he hadn’t gotten a proper night’s sleep at all since he’d started sleeping with Paul. Post-coital sleep had never been as refreshing to him as regular sleep.
“Yeah. Just busy with trying to get the new club running,” Sonny lied.
“Okay,” Will said. “Well, get up. Aunt Maggie found out I was back and threw together a last minute anniversary party for us. Something about a baseball benefit.”
Sonny’s stomach twisted painfully. The baseball benefit. That Paul was funding. That Paul would be at.
“Also, there’s a little blonde monster who’s anxious to see you.” Will grinned, kissed Sonny’s hair, and left the bedroom.
“Fuck,” Sonny swore into his pillow. He took a deep breath and made his way into the shower to get dressed.
* * * * * * * * *
Sonny was a bundle of nerves the entire way to Horton Town Square. He did his best to keep them under control - Will could always read him like a book - but as soon as he stepped foot into the plaza he was practically vibrating, despite carrying Ari. His eyes roamed the balloon-and-booth filled Square for Paul; he found him at a table with sign up sheets for Little League.
Paul grinned at him for a second or two, but the smile vanished when he saw Sonny standing with Will, and Ari in his arms. Sonny’s heart constricted when Paul scowled and turned away, back to the kids who were in front of the table.
“I’m gonna go find Grandma Marlena. She’s dying to see us,” Will said, taking Ari. He kissed Sonny on the cheek and disappeared into the crowd.
Sonny immediately made a beeline for Paul. “We need to talk,” Sonny hissed anxiously.
“I’ll meet you in the alcove garden in two minutes,” Paul said, his voice tight.
Sonny nodded and headed to the garden.
* * * * * *
“So Will is back,” Paul said without pretense as soon as he appeared.
“He surprised me for our anniversary. I didn’t know,” Sonny said.
“Are you glad he’s back?”
“Of course I’m glad he’s back! What kind of question is that?” Sonny asked.
“I don’t know. You’ve been sleeping with me for the past two months so how happy could you really be with him?” Paul countered.
Sonny flinched as if Paul had slapped him. “I love my husband,” Sonny said, dangerously quiet. “But I - I care about you too. More than care.” It was the truth, and Sonny couldn’t deny it.
“So where does that leave us?”
“I - We need to stop seeing each other.” It pained Sonny to say it but he knew he had to.
Paul drew his mouth into a thin line. His eyes searched Sonny’s face and he closed the distance between them.
“Is that really what you want?”
Sonny wasn’t sure when his breathing had become labored but he was pretty sure it was because of the close proximity with Paul.
“Yes,” Sonny breathed but he wasn’t entirely sure it was.
“You’re absolutely sure?” Paul stepped closer. Their faces were inches apart. Sonny could see the flecks of gold in Paul’s brown eyes.
Sonny swallowed. “Y - yes.” He longed to move his head just an inch forward to press their lips together. It had become a habit, a daily occurrence, kissing Paul.
“Positive?” Paul took another step closer. Their shirts were touching.
Sonny’s lips parted but no words came out. Instead, their lips brushed ever so slightly, enough to send waves of pleasure through Sonny’s body. But he willed himself to step back and put distance between them. If he was going to do this, he was going to do it cold turkey.
“I love Will,” Sonny repeated. “This thing between us is over,” Sonny said firmly and he hurried back into the Square before Paul could see the pain he was sure was written all over his face.
Sonny walked around Salem the following couple of weeks in a daze. It seemed unreal to him that Will was back home, in his bed, that he could touch and kiss and spend real time with his husband. Waking up next to Will every day, Will’s head pillowed on his chest, or his arm draped over Sonny’s waist felt like a dream he never woke from.
All was right in the world again, having Will and Ari back in the apartment, his days and nights suddenly filled with laughter and giggles and toys and kids’ games once more.
In the moments when Sonny found himself alone - in the shower, in his office at TBD, at the South Side club trying to resolve the issues with inspections and finances - Sonny vaguely registered that he missed Paul. It was a soft, quiet ache, not the kind of ache he had felt when they had broken up the first time after Paul had turned down his proposal; it was more like a nostalgia, like leaving high school to start college and missing how easy life had been then.
And yet, his life seemed simpler with Will and Ari back, more colorful, smoother. Even the problems with the South Side club didn’t faze him as much as they had only weeks ago. He was drifting through life on a wave of peace and fuzzy joy, and quiet contentment.
* * * * * * *
“Mmm. That smells delicious,” Will said, sliding his arms around Sonny’s back and resting his head on Sonny’s shoulder. “I missed your cooking.”
Sonny grinned. “Only my cooking?”
“Mmm-hmm. Mom has always been a terrible cook. She almost burned down our apartment once trying to make a turkey for Thanksgiving.”
Sonny laughed. “Dinner’ll be ready in like ten minutes. Ari’s in her room playing.”
“Good. That gives us ten minutes to do this,” Will muttered, peppering butterfly kisses along Sonny’s neck.
Sonny huffed out a breath, his pulse quickening, and turned around in Will’s arms. He draped his arms over Will’s shoulders, returned Will’s mischievous smile, and pressed his lips to Will’s. They kissed lazily in front of the stove for a few minutes, Sonny’s fingers tangling in the blonde hair at the base of Will’s neck, Will’s arms firm yet loose around his back.
Suddenly there was a crash from the other room and they broke apart, both looking toward their daughter’s bedroom.
“I’ll get her,” Will said, his lips turned up in a soft smile.
He was beautiful, Sonny thought, his blue eyes shining and bright with love, and his lips redder and more swollen than usual from kissing. Sonny didn’t want to let him go, but he dropped his arms from Will’s neck and met the peck Will gave him, before he separated from Sonny and turned towards Ari’s room.
* * * * * * *
“So I got a new assignment,” Will said.
They were curled up on the couch together, Ari asleep in her room, and the TV blazed softly in front of them.
Will nodded. “When I left, Zoe had said I could starting writing for her again once I came back. So I contacted her and she already has something for me!”
“Will, that’s great!” Sonny’s heart expanded with pride. If he was really being honest with himself, he was a little jealous that Will’s career was still so good while his own attempt at expanding his clubs was failing so miserably. Pushing away the thought, Sonny asked, “Are you allowed to tell me what it’s about? Or is it confidential?”
“It is but I can tell you,” Will said, shifting a little so he could look at Sonny. “I know you won’t say anything to anyone.”
“Paul Narita,” Will said with a grin.
Sonny’s mind went blank and the room started buzzing. Shit.
“You know, the pitcher?” Will said, clearly thinking he didn’t know who Paul Narita was.
“Right. Yeah, of course! On the Giants right?” Sonny said as evenly as he could.
“Yeah! I already spoke to him. We have an interview tomorrow,” Will babbled excitedly.
“That’s wonderful, Will. I’m really proud of you,” Sonny replied. It wasn’t a lie.
Will kissed him. “I’m gonna go do some research on his stats and stuff. Come up with questions. You coming to bed soon?”
“I’m, um, I’m actually going to go back to TBD for a bit,” Sonny answered mechanically. “I just want to check some stuff on the new club.”
“Okay.” Will kissed him again and disappeared into the bedroom.
Sonny swore under his breath, his mind and heart both racing, and typed out a message to Paul.
Need to talk to you. ASAP. Can I come over?
Paul’s answer was instantaneous. Yes.
Sonny grabbed his keys and left.
* * * * * * * *
Sonny banged furiously on the door for only a second before it swung open. Sonny stormed into the hotel room and turned on Paul.
“What do you think you’re doing?!” Sonny demanded.
“Let me guess. This is about Will doing an article on me, right?”
“Of course it is!” Sonny shouted, agitated.
“Look, I didn’t ask for him,” Paul said. “In case you were wondering. Sonixx contacted me and I agreed. He was assigned to the piece.”
“You should have asked for a different writer!”
“Why? Because he’s your husband?” Paul countered.
“Don’t you think it’ll be suspicious if I ask for a different writer? I don’t even know him. What reason am I supposed to give for not wanting him to do the piece? That I’ve fucked his husband for the last three months? That I’m in love with his husband?”
Sonny stopped breathing. “What?”
Paul barked out a laugh. “Come on, Sonny. You can’t be that oblivious. I never stopped loving you. And I didn’t stop just because you broke up with me. Again.”
Sonny’s breath rattled as his brain processed Paul’s words. His heart was beating wildly against his chest, unbidden. “I…” Sonny replied stupidly, blinking at Paul.
“Why did you really come here, Sonny?” Paul asked, taking a step towards him.
“I - I wanted to make sure you wouldn’t say anything to Will. About us,” Sonny answered.
“I’m not out. You know that.” Paul took another step closer. “I can’t promise we won’t talk about my love life but I won’t mention any names. I don’t even know if I’ll tell him I’m gay. I might, since my arm is useless anyway. But only if he asks. So I’ll ask again,” Paul said, coming to a stop in front of Sonny. “Why did you really come here?”
Sonny stared dumbly at Paul, his head fuzzy with the close proximity. He’d missed Paul. He didn’t want to admit it, but he had.
Without thinking, Sonny stretched his neck forward and captured Paul’s lips with his own. Paul growled into his mouth and grabbed Sonny roughly by the hips, slamming their bodies together. Sonny’s jacket was off in a split second, followed quickly by both their shirts. Sonny’s fingers fumbled with Paul’s belt as they fell backwards onto the bed, Paul on top of Sonny.
“I love you, too,” Sonny breathed against Paul’s lips. The shocking truth of his words sent shivers down his spine. It was freeing to admit it yet also frightening. He knew there was no going back now, no way he could end this a second (third?) time, so he gave in to the feeling of Paul on top of him, underneath him, all around him.
It was only later, as he was drifting off to sleep in Paul’s arms that Sonny realized Will was waiting for him at home.
“Did you fall asleep in your office again?” Will asked when Sonny opened the door.
“Yeah.” It scared Sonny how easily he could lie to Will but his stomach still twisted painfully with guilt.
“You work too hard, you know that?” Will said with a little smile. “I have to go meet Paul Narita for our first interview but do you want to do lunch?”
“Sure,” Sonny answered, returning Will’s smile. “Come by the club?”
Will nodded, placed a lingering kiss on Sonny’s lips, and left.
Sonny worried his lip between his teeth but trusted that Paul wouldn’t let anything slip.
* * * * * * * *
“How’d the interview go?” Sonny asked, feigning innocent interest.
His head was pillowed on Will’s chest, Will’s finger trailing lazily up and down his arm, and their legs were criss-crossed under the sheets, their feet sticking out from the bottom. Even through his hazy contentment of being in Will’s arms, Sonny held the nagging fear that Paul would blow their cover. The peace that settled on him whenever he was near and with Will was all the more reason to make sure his affair stayed secret.
“He’s taller in person,” Will answered matter-of-factly.
Sonny grinned despite himself. Once Sonny had found out who Paul was, he had thought the same thing.
“He’s also really humble, considering he’s a world famous All Star pitcher. He seems kind of sad, though,” Will commented and Sonny wondered if it was because of him. “Must be because he blew his arm and the surgery couldn’t get him in playing shape again.”
“Yeah, must be,” Sonny agreed. “Did you get anything you can use for an article?” Sonny tilted his head up to look at his husband.
“I have a start. I think we’re going to do at least two more interviews though. I’m sure there’s a lot more we can talk about. But right now,” Will grinned, “I don’t want to talk at all.”
Sonny returned the grin and met Will’s lips with his, his hand snaking it’s way under the sheets, making Will gasp into Sonny’s mouth.
As April faded into May, dreary rains making flowers pop up all over Salem, Sonny lived a precarious life. He was not ever quite sure how he managed to split his time between Will and Paul but he managed it effortlessly. It tore him up to lie to Will and screw around behind his back; he loved Will more than life itself and he knew he was jeopardizing everything he and they had worked so hard to build.
And yet being with Paul remained intoxicating and addicting. He didn’t know if it was the secrecy - it was like it had been back in San Francisco - but his feelings for Paul were growing stronger every day and he couldn’t quite get a handle on them.
In the moments when he was with neither Will or Paul, Sonny found himself daydreaming, dreaming of the future he and Will had planned out - a house, a dog, more kids - but Sonny realized that he was also starting to imagine what his life could be like with Paul. It was nothing new; he had dreamed of a future with Paul when they had first been together, but now that he had agreed to come out in Will’s article, it felt realer, somehow, that it could be a true possibility, despite the fact that Sonny was married.
* * * * * * * *
“Is there anyone special in your life?” Will asked Paul, his pen poised over his pad.
Paul considered Will’s question. He had promised Sonny he wouldn’t say anything about them, but he wanted to be honest with Will. “There was. Is, actually,” Paul answered carefully. “He was a very big part of my life and he recently came back into the picture.”
Will’s eyes had gone wide. “You’re gay?”
“Yeah. I am,” Paul replied. “How’s that for scoop for you?”
“I won’t put anything in the article if you don’t want me to,” Will said immediately. “I was outed publicly a couple years ago. It wasn’t fun.”
“My career is over anyway,” Paul said. “I’m tired of living in the closet. Hiding is what broke him and me up the first time.”
“So things are better between the two of you now?” Will asked with a sly grin, even as he scribbled notes.
“It’s…tough.” It wasn’t a lie. Sneaking around with Sonny this time was more difficult somehow, maybe because it was a smaller town, maybe because everyone knew him here, maybe because Sonny was married. “We’re still navigating some waters. I…kept him in the closet back then out of fear my teammates would find out. It’s different now but we’re okay.” It wasn’t exactly the truth but wasn’t completely false either.
“That’s great. I’m really happy for you.” Will’s expression and tone of voice was so sincere. Paul’s stomach twisted with guilt; it was the first time he had really thought of the implications of what he and Sonny were doing.
“Thanks. I’ve loved him for so long, I can’t imagine my life without him.”
“I know that feeling,” Will said dreamily and Paul’s gut turned over. “I can’t imagine living without my husband.”
Paul swallowed thickly as Will’s phone buzzed. “Speaking of….I have to go,” Will said, standing up and pulling on his sweater. “Same time tomorrow?”
“Think about it, Paul. Make sure you really want me to out you.”
“I will. Thanks.”
Will smiled and nodded at him and disappeared into the hallway.
Paul watched until he was in the elevator and then slunk back against the closed door. He let out a breath he hadn’t realized he had been holding.
* * * * * * * *
“Does it scare you?” Sonny asked Paul one night, his head on Paul’s shoulder and his finger tracing circles on Paul’s bare chest.
“That you’re going to be out when the article hits stands and the internet tomorrow.” Sonny looked up at him.
“A little bit,” Paul admitted, carding his fingers through Sonny’s hair. “I think John will be okay with it. He’s Will’s grandfather, isn’t he?”
“Step-grandfather,” Sonny amended. It had been a shock to all of them when Will had figured out that John was Paul’s father; Will and Paul had ended up bonding over it, talking about how fun it could have been growing up and playing baseball together. Sonny, on the other hand, had found it just a little bit weird, his husband and his ex/current-lover being related. (Though he shouldn’t have been surprised. Everyone was related in Salem. Even people who were seemingly unrelated.)
“So that’s not a problem. But when I think that I won’t even get to be with you after, it kind of seems like, what’s the point?”
“It’s okay. I know you won’t ever leave him,” Paul said with a sad little smile. “So we should make the most of our time together, right?” His smile turned mischievous.
Sonny grinned and titled his head up to meet Paul’s kiss as Paul rolled them over and pressed Sonny into the mattress.
* * * * * * * *
Paul’s public outing created far less gossip than Will’s had a few years ago; either Salem had gotten so used to seeing same-sex couples around or it was because Paul wasn’t really a member of the community the same way Will was. Paul had been right about his new father being nothing but supportive, as was Brady, his new brother.
The only thing that changed, really, was that guys flirted with Paul left and right, almost shamelessly. Sonny noted with some satisfaction that Paul turned most of them down gently, but he also surprised himself when he realized he wanted Paul to accept some of their invitations.
“I think you should date,” Sonny said abruptly one day in the middle of May. Paul had come into TBD for coffee and to hand Sonny a check to get the new club up and running - a thank you for Will writing the article and helping Paul come out.
“I think you should date one of the million guys who keep asking you out,” Sonny repeated. “What about that cute bellhop at the Inn? He seems to really like you.”
Paul searched his eyes. “Is that what you really want?” Paul whispered.
“I think it’ll be good for you,” Sonny answered, ignoring Paul’s question. “To date someone in public, have a real relationship.”
“Sonny’s right,” Will said. He had come up behind them and caught the end of their conversation. He walked back behind the bar and greeted Sonny with a kiss. “I know it can be overwhelming to think about dating someone when you’re newly out but when you find the right person, you’ll be ready.”
Will smiled softly at Sonny, his eyes shining with love, and slipped his hand into Sonny’s on top of the counter. Sonny smiled back, his heart palpitating as it always did around Will, and laced their fingers together.
“Okay,” Paul said quietly. Sonny turned back to him; he had momentarily forgotten Paul was still there. “Yeah. I think I will. I’m going to go right now and ask him out.”
Will gave Paul a dazzling smile and a thumbs up with his free hand and then turned to pull Sonny into a lingering kiss as Paul left.
* * * * * * * * *
“I was thinking we could have a party for Ari at TBD,” Sonny said, his head balanced on his hand and his other hand laced with Will’s on Will’s chest.
“Can we afford to close the club down with all the problems the new club had?” Will asked.
“Paul’s loan really helped. And it’ll only be for a few hours after the lunch rush. It’ll be fine,” Sonny assured Will.
Will smiled against Sonny’s lips as he pulled Sonny on top of him. Sonny went willingly, always content to let Will take the lead in bed when he wanted to.
As he fell asleep in Will’s arms, Will carding his fingers through Sonny’s hair, Sonny couldn’t imagine putting the club to a better use than for a birthday party for his daughter.
* * * * * * * * *
Ari fidgeted in Sonny’s arms as their family members trickled into TBD; since she had learned to walk, she had not taken to being held or carried much. Will managed to snap a picture to bring to Gabi before Ari nearly jumped out of Sonny’s arms. He gave in and placed her on the floor, grinning as she ran straight to Rafe.
“She’s going to be such a fun teenager,” Will said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
Sonny chuckled and slid his arm around Will’s waist, pecking his cheek. His laughter died on his lips, though, when he spotted Paul walk into the club, his fingers laced with Derek the bellhop’s. Sonny and Paul locked eyes and Sonny tried to ignore the swooping jealousy in the pit of his stomach.
Paul broke the eye contact and turned towards Marlena and his father, taking Derek with him to do introductions.
“It’s really nice that Paul can be free to be who is now, isn’t it?” Will asked.
“Yeah,” Sonny said, swallowing the lump in his throat. “We should go see what Ari’s up to.” He turned to Will with a smirk and dragged his husband’s attention away from Paul.
A half hour later, everyone was gathered around the table, Ari’s candles burning, and Will standing over the cake, Ari in his arms. She squirmed anxiously as a chorus of Happy Birthday resounded around the club; Will and Sonny both helped her blow out the candles and then Will put her down, afraid she would fall or kick him.
Just as she ran away towards Abigail, a man with scraggly brown hair and a messenger bag approached Sonny.
“Are you the owner of this club?”
“Yes,” Sonny answered warily. “Can I help you?”
“You can confirm you’re the one who’s been having an affair with Paul Narita,” the man said bluntly and without shame.
Sonny went stark white and his blood turned to ice. Unbidden, his eyes sought Paul’s. Paul’s face was just as white as his was.
“Excuse me,” Adrienne said loudly. “Who are you? And what gives you the right to make such an accusation?”
“He’s a reporter for the Salem Spectator,” Kate chimed in. “He’s a sleaze bag. You can’t take anything he says seriously.”
“Then why doesn’t Sonny just say it isn’t true?” Will asked. His voice was deadly quiet and Sonny could see he was shaking.
“Will…” Sonny started. He reached out for Will but Will flinched away from his touch.
“Just deny it, Sonny. Say it isn’t true,” Will said again. He sounded hysterical. When Sonny didn’t respond, Will turned on Paul. “Tell me it isn’t true. Tell me you haven’t been sleeping with my husband?!”
Paul clenched his jaw and looked away from Will.
Will choked back a sob and then charged at Paul. Before anyone could stop him, he had drawn his hand back and punched Paul in the face. Paul fell to the floor from the force of the blow.
“Will!” Sonny yelled but Lucas had already grabbed Will, pulling him away.
“Sonny’s the one you told me about!” Will shrieked. “The one you were with years ago and were with again now! The one you kept in the closet because you were afraid of people finding out! You were sleeping with my husband right under my nose the entire time!”
He was struggling against Lucas’s embrace, tears streaming down his face. Eventually, he managed to break away and ran out of the club.
Ignoring calls from his parents, Sonny hurried after Will.
* * * * * * *
“Will!” Sonny called, chasing after his husband but Will was halfway across the Square by the time Sonny left TBD. Will was a fast runner. He forgot Will had been on the high school baseball team; even in his panic it occurred to him that he apparently had a thing for baseball players. “Will! Stop! Please!”
Will was in the alcove on the edge of the plaza by the time Sonny caught up with him. With a jolt, Sonny remembered a sunny day in August nearly three years previously when they had stood in this exact spot and Sonny had first kissed Will.
Nausea welled in his stomach as he took in the look on Will’s face. Will looked paler than Sonny could ever remember him looking; even when he had been near death after getting shot, there had been more color in his face.
“You’re not even going to deny it, are you?” Will asked, his voice hoarse.
“You shouldn’t have punched Paul,” Sonny said, realizing too late that it was the wrong thing to say.
“That’s all you care about, isn’t it?! Him.” Will spat out the word as if it was something sour.
“No,” Sonny said gently. “I care about you.”
“You cheated on me!” Will screeched. “You’ve been sleeping with him for - how long has it been, Sonny?!”
“Almost three months,” Sonny answered quietly. There was no point in lying anymore.
Will made a noise like a wounded animal. “Do you love him?” Will asked. He sounded so defeated.
Sonny opened his mouth to answer but closed it without saying anything. It didn’t matter. He saw in Will’s eyes that he knew the answer was yes.
“How can you say you care about me?” Will spat.
“I know you’re angry, Will, but -”
“I am not angry!” Will shouted. “I’m in pain. I feel like my heart has been ripped open and shattered and the pieces are tearing apart my chest!” Hot tears spilled down his face. “I can’t breathe it hurts so much!”
Sonny’s face drained of whatever color was left. His own heart felt heavy in his chest and his guilt was a dragon trying to claw its way out of his stomach.
“You knew, Sonny! You knew how I believed I wasn’t good enough for you but you went and fell back in love with your All Star ex-boyfriend anyway! You knew how scared I was of this falling apart. You promised, you promised that you would always love me. That you would never hurt me the way my parents had. You were the one person who was supposed to love me the most,” Will croaked. “You were supposed to be better than this.”
Will was breathing rapidly from yelling and crying and heartbreak.
“I’m not perfect,” Sonny said flatly. “It’s not fair that you’ve put me on a pedestal. I’m allowed to make mistakes too.”
“A mistake is writing not instead of ton! Fucking your ex for three months behind your husband’s back is not a mistake! It’s a deliberate choice!” Will’s eyes were wild and blazed sapphire blue.
“Don’t you dare say you’re sorry, Sonny Kiriakis,” Will warned. “Please leave me alone now. I can’t look at you anymore.”
Sonny obliged and walked away slowly, the weight of what he’d done heavy in his chest.
Will’s ashen and tear-streaked face blurred Sonny’s vision as he walked back through Horton Town Square towards the apartment. He figured he could grab some stuff and be gone to the Kiriakis Mansion before Will returned.
I can’t breathe it hurts so much!…You were supposed to be better than this…Fucking your ex for three months behind your husband’s back is not a mistake! It’s a deliberate choice!….I can’t look at you anymore.
Will’s words rang in Sonny’s ears so loud he didn’t hear the footsteps following him until it was too late. A searing pain bloomed at the base of his spine as someone drove a knife into his back. A black-gloved hand covered his mouth before he could scream and he frantically bit at the fingers as the knife drove in deeper. The pain spread up his back and into his limbs and he fell to the ground when his attacker let him go.
He felt vaguely someone take his wallet and roughly pull his wedding band off his finger and his watch off his wrist.
The last thing Sonny saw before he blacked out was Will’s blue eyes shining with tears.
* * * * * * * *
Will collapsed onto the floor, his back against the door of the apartment, his head in his hands. His chest felt like he had been stabbed with a hundred knives and his breath rattled as he struggled to breathe.
Of course Sonny would choose to go back to Paul Narita. Why wouldn’t he, now that Paul was available for a real relationship? No one would ever choose him over an All Star baseball player. He knew he had never been good enough for Sonny. Here was his proof.
Will whimpered as new tears formed hot at the corners of his eyes and fell down his face.
You are my anchor. You are my anchor that doesn’t weigh me down but gives me something to hold on to. A reason to make a home….I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you and Arianna.
Sonny’s vows played on a loop in Will’s mind, mocking him. He dug his fingers into his arms as he shook with sobs, hyperventilating, his nails drawing blood. Vaguely, he heard his phone buzz and ding on the desk where he had left it after coming home; when he had gotten his breathing back under some semblance of control, Will got shakily to his feet.
Ten missed calls and twenty text messages from Adrienne and Lucas, each one more urgent than the next. In no mood to read consoling texts, Will dialed his father’s number to tell him to lay off and to tell Adrienne to do the same.
“Will! Where have you been?” Lucas asked as soon he picked up.
“Please just leave me alone, Dad,” Will said with a sigh. “I don’t want to talk right now. You can drop Ari off if you want. Sorry for leaving her.”
“Will! Ari’s fine. She’s with me. Buddy, you need to come to the hospital.”
Will’s heart stopped. “Ari? Is she okay?!” Will grabbed his keys and dashed out of the apartment.
“It’s not Ari. It’s Sonny,” Lucas said hesitantly.
Will stopped walking. “I don’t want to see him. And why is he at the hospital?”
“He was - he was stabbed, Will,” Lucas said gently. Will’s mind went blank. “He’s in pretty bad shape. You should get down here.”
Even through his broken heart, panic set in. Sonny couldn’t die. He was hurt but he still loved him. “I’ll be there in five minutes.” He hung up and hurried to his car.
* * * * * * *
Sonny woke in a haze. He heard beeping and his back felt like it was resting against a ton of bricks. There was a soft pressure on his hand. He turned his head and blinked open his eyes.
Will was dozing in the chair next to his bed. Sonny’s lips turned up in a smile. Will was always most beautiful when he was asleep, peaceful.
He shifted in the bed to get in a more comfortable position but a searing pain shot through his back. Sonny swore loudly as the machines around him started beeping, his heart rate spiked. He hated being in the hospital. Why was in the hospital?
Will jolted awake. “Sonny? Sonny!” Will’s face flooded with relief.
“Hey,” Sonny croaked. His throat was dry for some reason.
Will leaned forward. “How are you feeling?”
“Like an elephant is sitting on my back.”
“Do you remember what happened?” There was something in Will’s eyes Sonny couldn’t quite place.
Sonny blinked at Will, trying to remember. Images of TBD and Hortons and Bradys and Kiriakises floated back to him. There was a cake and candles and Ari.
“We were at Ari’s birthday party,” Sonny answered. Will nodded and his eyes flashed again with something unreadable. “We helped Ari blow out her candles. There was…” Sonny squinted in thought. “There was a reporter.”
Sonny’s heart dropped. The reporter. Will knew.
He looked at Will. His lips were drawn thin and his eyes blinked away tears.
“I - we had a fight. I was going to the apartment to get some of my stuff before you got home and I got attacked.”
“Do you know who it was?” Will asked.
Sonny shook his head. “You’re here,” Sonny said rather obviously. Will just stared at him. “Why? I would have thought you’d want me dead.”
Will blanched. “I still love you, Sonny,” Will said quietly. “You broke my heart and you tore up my soul but I still love you. I could never want you dead.”
Sonny blinked back sudden tears.
“Do you know what happened?” Sonny asked.
“Maggie and Victor found you bleeding at the edge of the Square. They called 911 and the cops. You lost a lot of blood and they thought you weren’t going to make it for a while because you have such a rare blood type. But an anonymous donor was found in just enough time. I think Daniel and Aunt Kayla aged about ten years in the OR, though. Grandpa Roman and Abe are going to want to know what you remember.”
Sonny nodded his understanding.
“I’m gonna go tell Aunt Kayla you’re awake.” Will squeezed his hand and left Sonny alone with his thoughts.
He didn’t want to get his hopes up that Will would forgive him. But Will had slept by his bedside all night, concerned for his health. That had to mean something, didn’t it?
Sonny remained in the hospital for two weeks. He thought it was unnecessary - he felt fine, physically at least - but Kayla had insisted. She said she wanted to make sure there were no lingering effects from the stabbing and profuse blood transfusion but Sonny suspected that Adrienne had asked her to be overly cautious with him.
Waking up that first time to Will at his bedside had surprised him; it surprised him even more that Will had visited him every day since. He was relieved that Will didn’t hate him so much that he stopped caring. If he was really honest, he was almost grateful he had gotten stabbed, if only to give him some more precious time with Will before he would have to face the reality and consequences of what he’d done.
On the morning of his release, Sonny’s stomach fluttered with nerves. He had no idea if he was welcome back in the apartment or if he should go home with his parents to the mansion.
“Hey,” Will said from behind him.
Sonny turned to his husband. Up close, Sonny realized how sad and tired Will looked. He had bags under his eyes; his skin was sallow and slightly yellow; he looked as if he had lost ten pounds - his jeans were baggy and his shirt was hanging off of him like a second skin; and his eyes looked puffy and red, as if he had recently been crying. Sonny’s stomach twisted painfully.
“I just came to tell you that I’m going to LA for a few weeks to visit Mom and the kids. Ari’s coming with me. You can get your stuff while I’m gone.”
Sonny’s heart sank. “Will…”
“Don’t, Sonny. I need space. I love you but I don’t trust you right now and I don’t know if you love me or if me loving you is enough for me to stay. That’s why I’m leaving and why I need you out of the apartment when I get back. I have to figure things out without you around. Please respect that.”
Sonny blinked away tears. “I’ll be at the mansion when you get back. If you decide you still want to be with me, that’s where I’ll be.”
Will drew his lips into a thin line. “I’ll see you in a few weeks. Take care of yourself.”
He hesitated for a second and then backed out of the room.
Sonny watched him leave.
* * * * * * * *
Sonny looked up at the sound of his name. Paul was standing in front of the TBD bar looking at him with concern.
“I can’t talk right now, Paul.”
In the two weeks since his release from the hospital, Sonny had had no desire to see Paul. Sonny’s heart still ached for him but the love he had thought he had felt again for Paul had dimmed considerably in the wake of losing Will.
“I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“I’m fine,” Sonny clipped.
“I - uh - I don’t know if your mom told you but I was the anonymous donor.”
Sonny stared at him. “What am I supposed to do with that? Fall at your feet? Back into your bed?” He was irrationally angry with Paul for a reason he couldn’t explain. Maybe he was just angry at himself for getting himself into this mess.
Paul looked as if he had been slapped. “No. I’m sorry I said anything. I thought you’d just want to know.”
He turned away but Sonny said, “Paul, wait. I’m sorry. I’m just not - Thank you for saving my life.” He meant it.
Paul nodded. “If you ever, y’know, need anything or just want to talk, you know where to find me.”
“I can’t. Nothing else can happen between us, Paul,” Sonny said. He hadn’t meant to have this conversation now or in the middle of the club but it was too late to stop. “I love Will more than anything or anyone” - he only felt a twinge of guilt at the scowl that crossed Paul’s face - “I hurt him deeply and I’m committed to making things right with him. I am going to fix my marriage and my family if it’s the last thing I do.”
* * * * * * * *
“Will?” Sami stroked her son’s blonde head lightly.
“Leave me alone.” He curled into a ball under the covers and buried his face in his pillow.
“Honey, you have to come out at some point,” Sami said gently, not unkindly. “I don’t have any problem taking care of Ari but it’s not healthy for you to be like this.”
“I just don’t want to do anything,” Will said quietly. “It hurts too much.”
Since coming out to LA, Will had holed himself up in Sami’s house, barely eating, barely sleeping, ignoring his little brother and sisters, and neglecting his daughter. He missed Sonny more than anything but it hurt to think about being with him. It also hurt to think about leaving him permanently.
“Will, honey. Sit up?” Sami coaxed.
Will sighed but complied. He wrapped his arms around his knees and pulled his legs up to his chest. He rested his chin on his knees but didn’t look at his mother.
Sami spoke anyway. “Do you remember the conversation we had last fall before we came out here? When you couldn’t understand how or why I had forgiven EJ?”
Will looked up at Sami and nodded. “I said Sonny would never cheat on me,” Will said quietly, his voice a little hoarse from not using it much for a couple weeks.
“And I asked you that if you knew he still loved you and he never stopped if you would throw it all away. You didn’t know the answer to that at the time. Do you now?”
Will worried his lip between his teeth. After a while he said, “What Sonny did isn’t the same as what EJ did. Abi wasn’t Paul’s ex. They had sex what? Two? Three times? He wasn’t in love with Abi. Sonny asked Paul to marry him. They didn’t break up because they stopped loving each other. Sonny never really stopped loving Paul. He as good as admitted that he still loves him or he loves him again anyway. It wasn’t just sex for Sonny. Sonny doesn’t do just sex. There are always feelings involved for him.”
He paused and turned away from his mother’s pitying eyes.
“I just don’t know where I fit into his life anymore,” Will admitted. “How can I believe he loves me? That he ever loved me?”
“He wouldn’t have married you if he didn’t love you,” Sami replied.
“Wouldn’t he?” Will asked, his blue eyes big and shining. “It’s been his dream since he was a kid to get married. It devastated him when Paul turned him down. And there I was. Just willing and ready to fulfill his dream.”
“You were together for over a year before he asked you to marry him,” Sami countered. “He wouldn’t have waited for you if he didn’t love you. And didn’t you turn him down too?”
“He didn’t walk away from you like he did, Paul. Would he have done that if he didn’t love you?”
Will stared at Sami. He had never really been in a position where she’d need to use her skills of persuasion; she was remarkably talented.
“You should’ve been a lawyer,” Will said aloud.
“What?” Sami laughed.
“You’re good at making people see your side of things,” Will clarified. “Spinning a tale.”
Sami smiled. “EJ used to tell me that too.” After a beat, she said, “Will you go back to Salem? Talk to Sonny? Give him a chance to fix things? Prove he loves you?”
“I don’t know if I can see him yet. I don’t know if I’m strong enough to not cry or just give in to him.”
“You are the strongest person I know, baby,” Sami said, cupping Will’s cheek. “Go home.”
Will took a deep breath and nodded.
Sonny was carrying boxes through Horton Town Square when he spotted Will coming through the arch opposite him. The boxes nearly slipped out of his arms as his heart jumped into his throat. Sonny stared at his husband across the square; Will looked up from his phone and saw Sonny watching him. Even at a distance, Sonny could see a pained expression cross Will’s face but Will steeled himself and made a beeline for Sonny.
Sonny stood frozen as Will came closer, stopping a few feet away.
“Hey.” Will’s voice shook.
“Hi,” Sonny breathed. His heart banged painfully against his chest. Will still looked gaunt and a little sallow but it seemed that he had gained back some weight.
“Can we - can we talk?” Will asked. He bit his lip nervously.
“Yeah. Come to the club? I have to drop these off but then we can talk.”
Will hesitated for a second but then said, “Okay.”
* * * * * * * *
Will fiddled nervously with the napkin on the bar while he waited for Sonny to finish putting his stock away. It hurt just to look at his husband but he knew his mother was right in sending him back to Salem.
“Okay. We can talk,” Sonny said, pulling Will out of his reverie.
“Can we go somewhere private?” Will asked. He had a lot of things to say and he didn’t want to say them in the middle of the club. Moving would also give him more time to gather his thoughts.
Sonny came out from the behind the bar and led Will into his office.
“How -” Sonny started but Will shook his head.
“Can you let me talk?” WIll said. “Please?”
Sonny nodded and leaned against his desk.
WIll clenched his teeth and bit the inside of his cheek. “I don’t - I don’t really know what I want to say, honestly. I just - I just miss you. I miss us. I miss our family. I want to fix our marriage so much but I don’t know if you want to. I don’t know if you love me or want to be with me or if you love Paul more than me. Right now it feels like I’m just the guy who said yes to you so you married me because you could - because I would. I want you to know that I’m back in Salem, I’m staying, and you can see Ari whenever you want. But I’m not - I don’t think I’m ready yet to be with you again.”
Sonny swallowed thickly. He couldn’t speak and he wasn’t sure he’d know what to say if he could.
“I’ll be at the Fourth of July picnic. I, um, I would like it you’d come with me, though. It’s been a tradition for us since Ari was born.”
“Yeah, of course,” Sonny croaked. “I’ll be there.”
Will smiled tightly and left.
* * * * * * * *
Going to the picnic was only somewhat awkward, though the tension between Will and Sonny could be cut with a knife.
Sonny felt the eyes of all his family members on him; he wasn’t quite sure if they were judging him or if they pitied Will for still being with him.
“Maybe this was a bad idea,” Sonny said as they spread the blanket out near the shore of the lake.
“No one in this town has any room to judge,” Will replied.
Sonny’s heart skipped at Will defending him. “Never stopped them before,” Sonny muttered. He could have sworn he saw the ends of Will’s lips twitch up into a tiny smile.
* * * * * * * * *
“Would it - would it be alright if I came over for dinner with you and Ari?” Sonny asked boldly one day in the middle of July.
He and Will were sitting together in a booth at TBD, Sonny looking over the books and Will writing a profile piece on Clyde Weston. They had been spending more time together over the last couple weeks since the picnic, sometimes just the two of them. sometimes with Ari. They were slowly rebuilding their friendship - although Sonny wasn’t sure it could or would ever be what it had once been (He hoped it could. Will was his best friend first and foremost and he hated himself for having broken that more than anything.) - but things were still awkward between them.
Will looked up from his laptop. He stared at Sonny for a few seconds and then nodded.
Sonny’s heart soared hopefully.
* * * * * * * * *
Dinner was quiet and uneventful, almost how it had been back when things were good between them. Ari had been immensely pleased that Sonny was there, practically ignoring Will for Sonny’s favor. There was an easy comfortableness between Will and Sonny that had been absent since Will found out about Sonny’s affair and Sonny thought something in the air shifted slightly between them.
After they put Ari to bed together, Will and Sonny settled on the couch. There was space between them, so different from when they had been on track, and Sonny’s skin itched to touch to Will’s, to curl into Will’s side like he was so accustomed to doing when watching TV or a movie.
They sat in silence for a while, watching the Cubs game, until Will spoke. “What did he give you that I couldn’t?” Will’s voice was quiet.
Sonny’s heart stopped and then sank like a stone. It took him a while before he answered. “Nothing.” He winced even as he said it; he knew how ridiculous it sounded.
Sonny turned to Will. He was staring straight ahead and his jaw was clenched tight.
“Did I just not satisfy you anymore?” Will asked. He still didn’t look at Sonny.
Will ground his teeth together but turned his head. “Did you finally figure out that I’m not good enough for you?”
“Where is this coming from?” Sonny asked, truly bewildered.
“I need some help here, Sonny. Since Ari’s party, I’ve been trying to understand why you did it, why you cheated on me, why it wasn’t just once or twice like EJ and Abi but an actual affair, why you fell back in love with him. But the only conclusion I can come to is that he gave you something I couldn’t or that you finally realized you could do so much better than me.”
Sonny’s eyes burned hot with tears. Will screaming at him had been painful and riddled him with guilt; this was so much worse. All the insecurities Sonny had tried so hard over the last three years to gently shave away in Will had come roaring back twice over because of him. Will didn’t look quite so ill anymore but inside he was more broken than ever. He had broken his husband in unforgivable ways and Sonny suddenly wanted to claw his own skin off.
“No,” Sonny breathed, horrified with himself and the gravity of what he’d done.
“Then why?!” Will screeched, his voice an octave higher than normal. “Please tell me, Sonny, because I’m going out of my mind wondering if I could have done something to keep this from happening!” Will’s eyes were wide and shined in his hysteria. He didn’t even seem to care that he might wake Ari.
Instinctively, Sonny scooted forward and took Will’s face in his hands. “God, Will. This was not your fault. This was all me. I was - I don’t…” Sonny rambled, his mind working furiously to come up with an explanation but not being able to form words fast enough. “You were gone and he was here and he was nice and kind and offered to help with the new club and all the old unresolved feelings I didn’t know I still had for him came rushing back. And once I started I couldn’t stop. It was like being back in San Francisco, back in hotel rooms, worried about getting caught, the excitement in the secrecy of it all was intoxicating and I just - I tried…I tried to end it - I wanted to end it - but I wasn’t strong enough. I hated it, I hated myself for it, hated being so weak, but I got greedy. I wanted you both so I took you both.”
“Are you still sleeping with him?” Will asked, as a tear slipped down his face.
“No!” Sonny put as much emphasis into the little word as he could; he needed Will to know that it was over with Paul. “As soon as you found out, I broke it off with Paul. I didn’t know what I wanted until I almost lost it. Almost lost you.”
Will’s eyes searched Sonny’s.
“I love you, Will. I love you so much I want to claw my way out of my skin with how much I hate myself for hurting you so badly. You and Ari are my entire world and I will carry the Earth on my shoulders for an eternity to prove that to you.”
“What about Paul?”
“Paul is my past.”
“Why would you want me when you could have him?”
Sonny’s heart cracked but he didn’t get the opportunity to answer the question because Ari started whimpering over the monitor. Will stared at Sonny sadly and pulled himself away from Sonny’s hands to disappear into Ari’s bedroom.
Sonny watched him for a minute and then quietly let himself out of the apartment, wracking his brain and his heart with some way to prove to Will that it was him he wanted.
Will was on his way home from an interview at the beginning of August when he almost literally bumped into Paul in the middle of Horton Town Square. He stopped dead in his tracks and Paul’s face paled.
It was the first time since the affair came out and Will had punched Paul that they had really seen each other.
Paul was the one to break the awkward silence. “How are you?”
Will glared at him. “I’ve been better no thanks to you.”
Paul drew his lips together into a line but then he relaxed his face. “I don’t know if anyone told you but I was the anonymous donor for Sonny.”
Will’s mouth dropped open in genuine shock. “I know you probably did it for selfish reasons but thank you,” Will said. He was too stunned to be anything but sincere.
“I didn’t know the blood was for Sonny,” Paul said immediately. “The hospital called me because I’m a universal donor. I didn’t find out it was Sonny until later.”
“For the record, Sonny broke things off with me the second you found out,” Paul offered without prompting. “We’ve barely even spoken two words to each other in almost two months.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” Will scoffed. “You have an affair with my husband - while I’m interviewing you I might add - and you think it’s okay because the two of you haven’t spoken in two months?”
“No. I just thought you’d want to know that he chose you. When it came down to it, he chose you.”
Will blinked at him, realization dawning. “He broke your heart too.” It wasn’t a question.
“I guess you could say I have it worse. To think you’ve found your soulmate only to watch him walk away, find him again, and have him walk away a second time.” Paul’s voice was laced with bitterness and Will actually felt sorry for him. “I’m really jealous of you, Will. Don’t throw away the best thing in your life because you’re scared. Trust me, you’ll regret it.”
Paul nodded a little awkward nod and turned away sadly.
“Paul, wait,” Will said. Paul turned back. “I’m sorry I punched you.”
“I probably would’ve done the same thing if it’d been me,” Paul admitted.
Will barked out a laugh despite himself. “No you wouldn’t have. You wouldn’t have risked hurting your hand.”
Paul’s lips turned up in a small smile. “You know, my dad and your grandma seem like they’re working things out. Do you think we could maybe try to be some sort of friends?”
Will stared at Paul for a minute, without answering. He remembered suddenly all the cat fights and fist fights his parents had gotten into with the lovers of the people they’d loved. He’d made a vow once to not be like them, to be better.
Almost automatically, Will held out his hand. “I’d like that.”
Paul grinned for real and shook Will’s hand.
“Will!” Sonny slid into the seat opposite Will in a booth in the Pub. “I heard about your Uncle. Is he going to be okay?”
“Aunt Kayla says he and Nicole will be fine. You know, she was my stepmom at one point?” Will mused aloud.
Sonny laughed and nodded. His smile faded when Will started biting his lip nervously. “Are you okay?”
Will looked at Sonny. “I, um, I bumped into Paul yesterday.” Sonny sucked in his breath. “He told me he was the one who donated the blood. You knew, didn’t you?”
“Yeah. He told me.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t think you’d want to hear it. Especially coming from me.”
A hint of a smile crossed Will’s face. “You’re probably right. But, um, he told me - he told me that you broke things off with him after Ari’s party. That you’ve barely spoken since then.”
“He wasn’t lying.”
“I know,” Will said honestly. He hadn’t been very observant to the situation when the affair had been going on, but he knew instinctively that Sonny had truly stopped things with Paul.
“He - I never -” Will stuttered, unsure of how to say what he wanted to say. He tried again. “I’ve been so hurt and focused on my own feelings, it never occurred to me to think that maybe he was hurting too. And you.”
Sonny’s eyes widened but he didn’t say anything.
“You said you loved him again. Do you still?”
Sonny was unprepared for the question but the answer came easily. “Yes, but not like that. Paul was my first love and our relationship was intense with all the secrecy and the hiding. I’d read a lot of books and watched a lot of movies about forbidden romances and how exciting and romantic they were. I didn’t know anything else and I didn’t know any better. You know how I can get, so consumed by something that it takes over my life. And when he turned down my proposal, I knew he was doing it because he was too scared to show the world who he was and I realized that I didn’t want that for myself. So I left.”
Sonny had never quite told anyone about his relationship with Paul - not even his parents, really; it was liberating to speak freely of it with Will. But he didn’t stop there. The words flowed from his mouth like water. In that moment, he wanted nothing more than to tell Will the entire story.
“When I came back to Salem, the last thing I expected was to fall in love again. But there you were, just waiting for me on a bright day in June. Paul and I were never really friends, you know? Not like you and me. It was so…different to be able to open and free around you, even in the beginning. I didn’t have to worry about you being worried people might think you would be gay by association or “catch the gay” as Paul used to say.” He heard the bitterness in his own voice and it surprised him. “I fell for you hard, Will, and fast and unexpectedly, and so so deeply, and I guess I never really got the chance to resolve my feelings for Paul.
“When you left for LA, I got lonely and I missed you. I missed touching you. I missed being with you. I missed being around you. That’s not an excuse for what I did and I’m not blaming you. That’s just the way it is. So when Paul came back, all the old feelings I had for him, everything that had been left unresolved when I left San Francisco and came back here, came rushing back and I clung to him in my desperation to be close to someone. It was nice having someone at home love me. I didn’t plan on it happening. But it was New Year’s and then it was Valentine’s Day and the new club was failing and Paul was kind and offered to help and…I don’t know…I just…lost control. I gave into the past without any regard for my present or our future and once I started I couldn’t stop. I tried but the forbiddenness of it only strengthened my memories of being in San Francisco and the fact that it was forbidden for me this time drove me crazy with desire. At some point I guess I realized I was falling back in love with him for real and not just clinging to old memories.
“I floated on air for weeks when you came back. It scared me to death when you told me that you were assigned to interview Paul. I panicked that he would let it slip and I begged him not to tell you because I knew what it would do to you. I couldn’t risk losing you but somehow we ended up in bed together again, I don’t even remember why or how now. I think I got addicted to him, more than anything, and it took you walking away from me to break the habit. I love you with my entire being, Will Horton, you are the love of my life, and it scares me to death that I might never get to be your husband again. If I had to choose anything in the world to have in my life, I would choose you. A thousand times, I would choose you and Ari.”
Sonny finally stopped talking, his chest heaving. He looked at Will and was shocked to find there were tears streaming down his face.
“That’s what Paul said,” Will whispered.
“What?” Sonny was a little dazed from bearing his soul to Will.
“Paul said you chose me.”
“I did. And I would do it again.”
Without a word, Will slid out of the booth and held his hand out to Sonny. Bewildered, Sonny slipped his hand into Will’s and let Will lead him into the lane outside the Pub. They stopped a few feet in front of the little fence outside the window. Will turned to Sonny, their hands still clasped at their side.
“What are we -?”
“You never answered my question about why you would want me when you could have him,” Will said, cutting Sonny off.
“Because you’re you,” Sonny answered. He knew it wasn’t really an answer but it was the only way he knew how to respond. There was so much about Will he loved that he couldn’t articulate it.
“I don’t know why you’re still even giving me the time of day, though,” Sonny said. He wanted desperately to be with Will again but he didn’t know if he would be able to be with Will again if their roles had been reversed.
“Why?” Will cocked his head, curious.
“I broke your heart.”
“I broke your heart too, once. Remember?” Will countered.
“So, what? That makes us even? I think what I did was far worse than lying about getting your ex-girlfriend pregnant when we weren’t even together.”
“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?” Will said, his lips curling up into a soft smile, his eyes twinkling.
Sonny’s mouth fell open and his eyes slipped closed as Will closed the distance between them and pressed their lips together in a firm but gentle kiss.
They reacquainted themselves with each other’s body that night, hands everywhere and nowhere, lips trailing slowly across skin, their lovemaking gentle and reaffirming, a fulfilling of a promise broken and stitched back to together piece by piece. Their hearts beat in tandem as they came down from their highs, Sonny’s head on Will’s chest and Will’s fingers carding lazily through Sonny’s hair. Peace settled over them as they fell asleep, and they slid seamlessly back into sync, their broken clockwork oiled and fixed and ticking away once more.
Sonny woke to the sound of Will whispering on the phone. Curious, Sonny flipped onto his side to watch Will. He was beautiful, his blonde hair mussed from sex and sleep, his blue eyes bright as he listened to whatever the person on the other end of the line was saying.
Will turned and grinned when he saw Sonny watching him. “I gotta go, Grandpa,” Will said and hung up.
“What was that about?”
“Grandpa Roman and Aunt Hope figured out who stabbed you.”
Sonny sat up.
“Seems like it was Clyde Weston,” Will said. “I can’t believe I wrote that piece on him. I can’t believe he let me, knowing what he’d done. And it seems like he’s the one responsible for EJ’s death too.”
Will nodded. “I don’t really want to talk about it, if that’s okay.”
“What’d you want to do then?” Sonny asked with a smirk.
Will smirked back and pressed Sonny onto his back as he captured Sonny’s lips with his.
* * * * * * * *
“Hey,” Sonny greeted when Will walked into the apartment. “How was your day?”
“Pretty boring actually,” Will said. “I spoke some more to Grandpa though.”
“Was it Clyde?”
“Yeah. They have him in custody,” Will said, sitting down on the couch next to Sonny.
Sonny immediately curled into his side, his heart expanding at being allowed to do this again.
Will laced their fingers together and lifted their twined hands into the air. He ran his thumb over the empty spot on Sonny’s left finger where his wedding band used to be.
“Is it weird without it?” Will asked.
“I actually kind of got used to not having it on,” Sonny admitted.
“Well, would you like to have it back?” Will held out his free hand, palm up. Sitting in the middle of Will’s hand was Sonny’s lost wedding ring.
Sonny sucked in a breath.
“They recovered it from Clyde’s apartment. It was the smoking gun.”
Sonny blinked away tears and reached out for it. But Will closed his hand over it.
“Wait.” Will unlaced their fingers and wiggled his own ring off his hand.
“What are you doing?”
“Marry me,” Will said.
“What?” Sonny laughed. “We’re already married.”
“My mom told me how she and EJ exchanged private wedding vows just for them, after they were married, after she forgave him. I thought it was silly at the time. But I understand now,” Will explained. “I love our wedding vows, Sonny, but I want new ones, a new promise that we’re not going to break this time.”
“Okay,” Sonny breathed.
Will held out his hand and Sonny slipped his left hand into it, his eyes on Will’s face. “Growing up, watching my parents bounce from partner to partner, I always thought I would be like them. I never thought I would find true love, but there you were just waiting for me on the pier. I never imagined that my best friend would also be my greatest champion but also be the person who could hurt me the most. It scares me how much I love you and how much of me you hold in your hands but I wouldn’t trade any of it for a second. I love you so much, Sonny. I still want to be your husband for life if you’ll have me.”
His heart pounding same as it had last April, Sonny slipped Will’s wedding band back onto Will’s finger. When he looked up, Will was smiling at him, his face soft with love. Taking a deep breath to get his emotions under control, Sonny cradled Will’s hand between both of his.
“Being married was an adventure I always wanted but never thought I would have. I had resigned myself to that fact when I came back to Salem. And then you came swaggering onto the pier accusing me of stealing your best friend’s girl.” Will laughed lightly. “I couldn’t have dreamed that coming back here for a week would turn into something so permanent. I’ve never enjoyed staying in one place for too long but I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else than right here. I meant it when I said that you and Ari are the greatest adventure of my life. It broke me to think that I had destroyed the family we built together and I am so…grateful that you’ve agreed to be my husband again. I love you, Will, with everything I am. I would be honored to still be your husband for life.”
Sonny, overcome with emotion, watched, dazed, as Will slipped his wedding ring onto his finger. Sonny twisted it around with his thumb, settling it back into place where he had been missing it for two months.
“Let’s do it right this time, okay?” Will whispered, his face inches from Sonny’s.
“You got it.”
Will's lips curved into a smile as he met Sonny’s kiss.
“You okay?” Will asked, tracing circles on Sonny’s chest.
“Just thinking about the last time we had a party for Ari at TBD,” Sonny said quietly.
They hadn’t discussed their first year of marriage much in the fourteen years of marriage since. After they’d privately renewed their vows, Will and Sonny had worked extremely hard to keep themselves on track, never taking the other for granted and remaining acutely aware of what the other was doing and what the other was feeling at all times. It hadn’t been easy, and they’d hit another rough patch around their seventh anniversary, but they’d gone to both individual and couples’ therapy before things had gotten out of hand, and they’d been able to set themselves back on track.
After that, they’d moved out of the apartment into a house on the edge of town, a white picket fence out front and a yard with a pool in the back. They had gifted Arianna with a puppy for her ninth birthday, and a year later they had brought home twin boys, both Sonny’s biologically.
They’d made the life for themselves they’d naively imagined they could have those first few months into their marriage, and which they both had thought had been out of the question after Ari’s second birthday party.
“Hey,” Will picked his head up off of Sonny’s shoulder to look at his husband. “We’re okay now. Ari and the twins are great. We have the house and family we always wanted. We even have a dog. We’re like a little Stepford family.”
Sonny snorted in amusement.
“You’re right. There’s nothing to worry about,” Sonny agreed, kissing Will’s hair as Will laid back down on Sonny’s shoulder.
“I don’t know if there’s nothing to worry about. Ari will be sixteen. I remember being sixteen. That was not fun. And from what I’ve heard, my mother was a nightmare at sixteen. That worries me a lot.”
Sonny’s body shook with laughter and Will buried his face in Sonny’s chest as he laughed along with husband.