It was almost midnight when Olivia got the call. She was tired, emotionally exhausted by the case that had finally finished that same day. It was a difficult one; cases with kids had always been difficult, and even after working for more than a decade on SVU, she still couldn't get used to the idea that someone out there was cruel enough to harm a child. And now that she had a son of her own, she understood the feeling of despair that she saw in the parents' eyes every time they were in trial, every time she comforted them with words that will never make them feel relieved. But it was her job. It was her responsibility and her duty to keep their hopes up, while she fought hard to find justice for their sons, their daughters. It would never get any easier.
She answered her phone. She had just arrived at home, and Olivia hurried to get her cellphone from her purse. Lucy had just left, and Noah was already asleep in his room. Olivia frowned when she saw the name on the screen of her phone, and she hoped that they weren't bad news about the case.
"Hello?" She asked, walking towards her sofa. She sat down and her frown became more pronounced when she didn't receive an immediate response. "Hello?"
"Um," it was Stone's voice. He sounded odd. Olivia could perceive the trembling in his tone. "Olivia?" He asked.
"Yeah, Stone, it's me. Is everything alright?" She heard him sigh; a heavy and deep sigh, full of repressed emotion. Olivia inevitably started to worry for him; she hadn't known him for a long time, but it was her coworker, and the time she had spent with him in the last couple of days had made her see who he really was, and what kind of problems he had over his shoulders. No life was easy. Destiny always brought things with it, things that couldn't be controlled, just solved. Peter's life was no exception, neither was hers. Every one needed someone that would listen to them. Every one needed a shoulder to lean on.
"I..., I m just tired," he answered. And it sounded genuine. She could hear the tiredness in his voice, his desperation, his hope starting to break. "Everything feels...off. I shouldn't be here. I shouldn't be complaining like an idiot. I shouldn't have left Chicago."
"Hey, Peter, wait," she told him, afraid that he might hang up. She had offered a sympathetic ear to him, an ear that would listen to him whenever he needed it. She couldn't deny him that now. "Did something happen?"
"No, no," Olivia pictured him shaking his head. "It's just that...this case, the people I have to question in the stand, the victims. It's hard. How do you deal with it?" He asked, in need for an answer, desperate to know how to deal with the dark thoughts that were invading his head. Desperate to get back his faith in humanity. He had dealt with homicides; all type of psychos, killers. But this... rapists and abusers, molesters, perverted people that were able to traumatize others without a regret. He was absolutely torn from the inside. It hurt.
"I've been working for more than ten years in SVU, and I can tell you that you never get used to it," she said, the ghost of a smile on her lips. "You just understand that there are people out there that need to be heard, that need justice. Stone, it's okay to feel like this. It's okay to feel bad."
"But I don't want this. I can't give myself the luxury of feeling unstable when I have a sister that needs me. I just can't," he whispered, feeling his voice quiver. Olivia felt her heart ache. "Did you ever think of giving up?"
"You mean, give up on my job?"
"I did. Multiple times, actually," both shared a small laugh. "But still I decided to stay."
There was silence from Stone for almost a whole minute.
"Why?" He finally asked, and Olivia closed her eyes, not having it on her to open up to Stone. A lot of things had happened to her, things that had made her stay in SVU. But she wasn't really ready to confess those things to Peter, and she didn't even know if she would ever be capable of doing it.
"I'm sorry, but I..." She trailed off, but it was enough for Stone to understand.
"I get it," Peter told her. There was another silence between them, not an uncomfortable one. They were both trying to relax, trying to calm themselves after the storm that had been that case. "If you let me, I will have to say that you are admirable."
"Thank you, Stone." She answered. Olivia wasn't really sure about where their relationship was heading, but she was glad he was their new ADA. Even though he was the one that had went after Barba, she suspected that Peter was aware enough of how much Rafael mattered to them, and that she was sorry for the way she had treated him when they first had met. "I know you are a strong man, Peter. You can go through this."
"I wish I could think like that," Stone said in a low voice, as if he was disappointed of his weakness. He sighed once again, trying to keep himself together. "I'm mad. I'm a mess right now, but I want to stay, if that makes any sense."
"Believe me, it does." Olivia closed her eyes. Peter Stone wasn't the first one that had had problems while working on SVU. Every one of the people she had met due to her job had been disappointed by how reality was, by how cruel and unfair life was for some people that had done nothing wrong. She had had the same feeling more than once throughout her career, and it was heartbreaking, but time and support was enough to help anyone make it through it, and she could provide that to Stone. "Hey, Peter?" She asked, tentatively.
"You are a good man. You are a good prosecutor, a good brother, a good son. Give yourself some credit." She was aware that maybe her words wouldn't have the same impact she intended to give them, but she wanted to help him. "You are capable. You will see that this is only going to be temporary, it will pass."
"I'm sorry for having bothered you," he whispered, sounding almost ashamed.
"You didn't bother me." Olivia reassured him. Her eyelids felt heavy, and she suppressed a yawn. "We are coworkers now. I'm more than glad to have you as our ADA."
"I am. Trust me." He was feeling insecure and not worthy, Olivia suspected. It was perfectly normal; he had a lot of empathy within him.
"Olivia..., thank you," he whispered the words.
"You don't need to thank me. That's why we are here, to help each other."
"Still..., thanks. It means quite a lot." She smiled, feeling grateful herself. "I think I should leave now. Have a good night, Lieutenant."
"You too, Stone. See you tomorrow," and they both hung up.
Olivia sighed in the loneliness of her apartment, and after a moment of staying there all by herself, thinking and replaying in her head what had just happened, she stood up and walked towards Noah's room, opening the door and admiring her son sleeping, thinking that she was the luckiest woman on Earth.
After that, she went to her room and immediately went to sleep.