Bold print are direct quotes from the show, which I don't own. NBC and Dick Wolf do.

So about that final shot of the final episode of season 19 … We've got all whole SVU-less summer to think about it and I thought I'd put some thoughts on paper. Don't read if you're not into Benstone! If you decide to read, do let me know what you think.

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1. Alone

Monday, May 21, 2018

They had been getting used to each other.

Saying goodbye to Barba was still weighing on Olivia but there was only one way to go and that was forward. Sadly, it was becoming almost second nature to her. First Elliot. Then Cragen and Munch. Alex and Nick. Losing Dodds, although that was different in so many ways. But still, they had had no choice but to go on without him. And now, without Barba.

But she'd been getting used to the new guy and it turned out not to be as difficult as she had thought. He didn't have Barba's typical spunk - yet - but there was something powerful about the man. She had the feeling they hadn't even begun to scratch the surface when it came to Peter Stone. There was an entire world behind his eyes that they didn't know about, and that resonated with her. She wasn't any different when it came down to it. How much had she even shared about her past with Fin? And they had known each other for 18 years. The only one she'd ever let in far enough to see her real pain and her real, wounded self, had been her first partner at SVU. His abrupt departure from the unit as well as her life still haunted her at times but she had managed to move on. Move forward. Like she was doing now, without her trusted friend Barba. With Peter Stone.

The man had an air of confidence about him but he was also willing to learn. He probably thought she was too invested in cases sometimes, too emotional, but he would still hear her out and try different angles to either prove her right or wrong. For justice, not for himself. Not so that he could say he'd been right but only to further their cases. He might not be as emotional on the outside as Barba was, but it was there; that internal drive to never stop until justice was served.

And justice had been served again, for Lourdes, but it had come at an enormous cost. Still recovering from the loss of his father, having taken his father's place as caretaker for his sister although she hardly ever recognized him anymore, he had both won and lost this time. But from the looks of him, the strong and powerful Peter Stone, all he was feeling in these moments was the loss. Not the victory, just the immense loss of his sister.

Olivia could only imagine the blame he must be putting on himself and she had to tell him that there was nothing he could have done. He'd done everything to take care of his sister, to protect her when threats had been made, and he'd even stepped forward to face the man who was holding a gun to Pam's head.

She had come to bring him an update about the cartel but entered hesitantly when she saw him sitting on the couch in his office, head down, nursing a drink. When he finally looked up at her briefly she told him.

"Thanks to Miguel, the Feds rounded up all his associates on both sides of the border."

Peter looked in his glass, holding it with both hands and replied,

"That's good."

Olivia felt awkward when he didn't say anything else and just stared at his drink. She wanted to comfort him, make it better somehow, but she knew she couldn't bring Pamela back and she didn't know him well enough yet to know what to say. She tried anyway.

"Peter, I'm … I'm so sorry."

He just looked at her and looked away again, so she stepped back to leave the room. Just when she wanted to open the door, Peter spoke up.

"I was nine."

She stopped and turned to face him again, her hand still on the door handle.

"Playing stick ball with my buddies in the school yard. Pam showed up with a … with a bloody lip. She said Billy Collier had pushed her down the stairs."

Olivia knew it was important for him to tell her this story; this memory, which was no doubt proof of how he had always stood up for his sister.

"I beat the living hell out of him," Peter continued and Olivia finally moved away from the door to approach the grieving ADA.

"Peter," she said softly and she sat down next to him. "You have to know … that there was nothing you could have done. Nothing."

His eyes were still dry like they had been the whole time, but she saw something crack then, and his voice was shaky when he told her,

"The last thing … Pam said …"

Olivia knew what he was going to say and put a hand on his back. She'd been there after all. These past months, his sister hadn't recognized him when he'd come to visit, always thinking he was their father instead. But she'd recognized him in her final moments and Olivia bit her lip when Peter tried to speak again.

"... was …"

He suppressed a sob and almost fell towards her then and she wrapped both arms around him, pressing her cheek against the side of his head. She held him a little tighter when he choked out the last word his sister had ever uttered.

"Peter!"

The dam broke and he cried for minutes on her shoulder. Olivia just held him, one arm around his shoulders and her other hand cradling the back of his head. Comforting others came naturally to her and it didn't matter that she was now holding a big, strong man in her arms. He needed comfort just as much as anyone else. He'd done the right thing by not dropping the case and in the end, it had cost him his sister. He was all alone now, with no family left and her heart went out to him. She wanted to be here for him, to help him see that he wasn't really alone. She had found a family on the job. Her squad was her family, and Noah. Peter needed to see that he was now a part of the family too and would always have a place to go.

When Peter stopped sniffling and stirred a bit, Olivia loosened her grip on him so he could sit up. She dropped her right hand but kept her left hand on his shoulder. Peter started wiping his cheeks and nose ostensibly and flashed a shy smile at her.

"I think I … your sleeve," he stammered but Olivia shook her head, smiling slightly as well.

"Not a problem. I've had worse on my clothes from Noah."

"I'm sure you have. Still … I mean …"

He made a helpless gesture with one hand and Olivia squeezed his shoulder.

"Never apologize for needing an outlet for your emotions, Peter," she told him gravely. "We're law enforcement but we're all only human as well."

"Even you?" he joked, and she could see a little strength come back to him.

"I thought that would be obvious to you by now," Olivia said with a smirk.

She'd gotten pretty emotional during the case after all, seemingly wanting Peter to go on her gut feeling alone.

She finally dropped her hand from his shoulder and shook off the tiny sense of loss she felt at the loss of contact. It was lifted instantly when, after wiping his hands on his dress pants, Peter put his right hand over hers in her lap.

"Thank you, Lieutenant," he said quietly.

Olivia placed her left hand over his right hand and in turn, he placed his left hand over hers. They smiled at each other and Olivia told him sincerely,

"Anytime, Counselor. Anytime."

Monday, May 28, 2018

The funeral was sombre. The members of Peter and Pamela's family who had bothered to come could be counted on two hands. A few aunts and uncles from their mother's side, an uncle from his father's side and a second cousin that he barely knew. Pamela had lost all her friends along the way due to her psychotic episodes and the few college friends he had stayed in touch with, had never met his sister. The staff of the Bayview mental facility was there, and so was Jack McCoy. Peter appreciated it a lot. But most of the people who had come, hadn't come because they had known Pamela. They had come to support him and it helped him breathe just a little easier. His fellow ADA's, the DA himself and the entire Special Victims Unit, including the uniformed officers tasked with assisting them. They were all here for him, to let him know he wasn't alone.

He'd felt incredibly alone these past few days. He had already lost both his parents and now he had lost his only sibling as well. He didn't mind making all the arrangements for Pamela but to have these appointments alone confronted him all the more with his loss.

Olivia Benson was turning out to be a solid rock for him, even after the way he'd treated her in court. Her eyes had shot daggers at him when he'd asked the judge permission to treat her as a hostile witness and he had wondered how many weeks it would take before they'd even be remotely civil with each other again. But she had surprised him. He had actually cried on her shoulder.

He couldn't remember the last time he had cried in front of anyone. He didn't cry today either. He had his mask on. His Stone face, as Pamela had often called it jokingly. He wasn't one to show his emotions, unless maybe when he was fighting for someone else during a tough case. But he wouldn't show his own pain to anyone.

Olivia seemed to have that effect on people though. He'd seen her work with victims and witnesses a few times and it was amazing to watch vulnerable souls open up to this woman. She was an enigma herself, never really opening up, but she could get other people to tell her their deepest fears and their darkest secrets.

She was standing next to him now, at Pamela's grave and he felt her hand touching his back lightly. She couldn't know how much that meant to him. He swallowed hard. He hadn't realized himself how much her support meant to him. He'd been certain he had blown it with her in court. She had been so sure about Miguel being the one who had raped Lourdes and he couldn't fathom how she could be so sure. But she'd been right and he couldn't help thinking that she understood Lourdes better than she should. That maybe something had happened to her as well. And that thought made him sick.

The priest was just about finishing his speech, and they all got ready to say their final goodbyes. Olivia had dropped her hand from his back and stepped aside to stand with her team so Peter's family could go first. He looked at her but she was saying something to Sergeant Tutuola. His uncle stepped up next to him and he nodded at the older man. His family members said goodbye one by one, followed by the staff of Bayview. The officers and Detectives of the Special Victims Unit all passed the grave and the last one to stand next to him was Jack McCoy.

The older man simply put a hand on his shoulder as they both faced the still open grave of Pamela Stone and they stood there in silence for a minute. Peter closed his eyes for a moment, trying to remember his sister in happier times. Life had been hard for here these past few years. It had been so excruciating for her that her medication had been the only thing to keep her from taking her own life. Death had come suddenly and in a way nobody should ever have to experience, but she was at peace now. It was him who was still struggling to find peace with the situation he had put his sister in.

"Never blame yourself for the actions of a criminal, son," Jack McCoy finally spoke.

Peter knew the seasoned attorney was right and he nodded, still staring at his sister's coffin.

"I'll try."

Friday, June 1, 2018

He'd been on her mind.

Olivia kept thinking about Peter, how he'd stood there at the cemetery, his hands tucked deep in the pockets of his overcoat, his shoulders pulled up slightly, and his face showing no emotion. Everything in his stance had screamed control and she knew like no other that that meant he'd been in turmoil on the inside. She knew, because she was the same in these situations. No one had ever known how afraid she'd been to go home after school each day, not knowing what her mother would be like this time. No one had ever known the depth of her loneliness after Elliot left her behind along with the job. No one would ever know the horrors she still experienced at night, dreaming about a man who had been dead for years but still haunted her to this day, reminding her that she'd been at his mercy once and that she had been branded for life. No one would ever really fathom the guilt she still felt over Mike Dodds' death.

She kept it all inside and when she looked at Peter Stone, it felt like looking in a mirror. The saying was that opposites attract, but in this case it was different. She felt drawn to the closed-off ADA because he was so much like her. Maybe she had this drive to help him because she really wanted to help herself. She wasn't sure about that. All she knew was that he'd been on her mind just before he stepped into her office on Friday afternoon.

"Hi. You got a minute?" he asked.

Olivia looked up from her laptop, took off her glasses and looked at him, wondering why he was back already.

"Hi. I thought you got the whole week off?" she asked him.

"I did but I had an important deposition this morning that couldn't be delayed, and I wanted to do it myself. After that, I dove back in on autopilot I guess. I'm sure you know how that works."

Olivia nodded. She did know.

"Have a seat Peter," she said, standing up and gesturing at her couch. "How have you been?"

She rounded her desk and sat down next to him, leaving a few feet between them and then turning towards him.

"Been," Peter said, wiggling his head. "It all doesn't feel real yet."

He was leaning his elbows on his knees and looked straight ahead.

"I understand."

"I think I just need to keep busy. I'm not really cut out for long vacations."

He smirked and looked at her sideways. "I'm sure you understand that as well."

She gave him a tight smile, indicating that he was right about that.

"What brings you here?" she asked him kindly. "Already on a case again?"

Peter shook his head and sat up straight.

"No. I just dropped off a file I'd borrowed. I'm actually on my way home but I wanted to check in with you. See how you're holding up."

"How I'm holding up?"

She was a little surprised and it looked like Peter wasn't sure what to say next.

"Yeah," he settled on. "And also … I wondered what you and Noah are doing this Sunday."

She raised her eyebrows in surprise.

"Yeah, I ehm … got tickets for the Mets game and this one's in the afternoon. I could do with the distraction myself and I thought … since it's in the middle of the day, that Noah might want to go. And ehm, you could come too, of course."

"Oh. I see."

He had really taken her by surprise and Olivia tried to think fast. Did she and Noah have plans this Sunday? They didn't really have a tight schedule on weekends and for some reason, she couldn't remember what she and her son had talked about doing. Going to a ball game with Peter Stone actually appealed to her and she was sure Noah would love it.

"I'll ehm, I'll talk to Noah and get back to you, alright?" she said quickly.

"Great," Peter said, standing up, and she thought he looked a little relieved. "I'm going either way but I just thought it would be nice not to go alone."

Olivia nodded and she felt that strange pull towards the man again. She knew alone. She was a pro at being alone. Maybe it was a good idea to be alone together for a change.

To be continued

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(PS. I know "Unexpected" isn't finished. I'm getting back to that soon, I promise.)