A/N: This is how I want the episode to end, but we're all probably not going to be that lucky. In any case, here's a little one-shot to tide over some Barson readers. I don't own SVU or its characters. I hope you guys enjoy!

One-month suspension.


That's it.

That's all he got.

A mistrial and a suspension…

Rafael muffled sobs and rocked back and forth on his couch, still dressed from court earlier. He'd been sitting there for two hours now, staring at the bookshelf across from him until the sun went down. He welcomed the darkness of his quiet, empty apartment. He didn't want his uncontrollable crying to disturb that.

Tears fell into the dark rug underneath his expensive leather shoes. He wasn't going to be needing those for a while, so he didn't care if they got wet. He also didn't care if he ruined his equally expensive dress shirt or slacks. He wasn't going to need suits or vests or silk ties for an entire month. To hell with their delicate fabric.

He'd just been through an ordeal brought on entirely from his decisions. They were made hastily and without much thought, but he didn't dare regret them. He did something that was wrong and he paid the price.

That price…was one-month suspension.

He couldn't believe it. Not really. They threw everything they had at him and then some, which he expected. Peter Stone was a force of nature, rivaling even McCoy. He was smart and calculating and new all the right things to say. He would make a great replacement for him and unit. His cases would be in good hands.

Possibly, forever.

One month was a long time. It was a long time to figure out…things. Things he'd been thinking about for longer than he should.

Decisions had to be made. Decisions regarding his future. His career. The people around him.

He'd been thinking about them for a while, but he never breathed a word of out loud. Not even to himself, when he was home alone with little work and his imagination would run wild. It would take off like a rocket, expanding with all the possibilities he had in front of him.

Changing jobs…leaving the city…finally telling her

It was all too much sometimes to think about in a single night but now? Now, he had an entire month to sit on his sofa and think.

It wasn't exactly what he wanted to do, because he wasn't adept at dealing with his own feelings. Not personally or about work. He was the type to shove it down with enough scotch and witness statements and paperwork until he forgot about it. That was how he dealt with his father's death. That was how he dealt with his abuelita's death.

That's not how he was going to be able to deal with all of this, this time.

The three knocks on the door were expected, but later rather than sooner. He wiped his tears with his hands and wiped them on his pants. He couldn't do anything about his red-rimmed eyes and his stuffy nose, but he wasn't exactly trying to hide it. He'd been so emotional all day, he was surprised he didn't break down on the stand.

He smiled at Liv, but it was hollow and she knew it. She didn't say anything. She just passed by him and took off her coat and kicked off her shoes. He went to the breakfast bar and poured a glass of wine he sat out when he got home. It was warm and he hoped she wouldn't mind.

"Thank you," she said softly, her fingers grazing his as she grabbed the stem. It was immediately located to the coffee table, next to his abandoned scotch. Instead, her hands grabbed his and they were cold, but he didn't pull away. The cold made him feel something other than sadness and despair.

"I'm sorry I wasn't by sooner. I thought you needed time."

"I did."

Her thumbs moved in slow circles across his knuckles and he sighed. He hated that he felt so pathetic for needing to feel this. He hated that he needed her touch to feel better. This was another thing he'd been trying to hide under all the alcohol and tedious work. His need for her.

"How are you feeling?"

"Do you want the truth or bullshit?"

Liv squeezed his hands, the serious expression enough for him to know now wasn't the time. He couldn't joke his way out of this one. He couldn't fool her.

"I feel…like I need a break. I feel…like in some fucked up way…this was the best thing for me."

Liv nodded, understanding without him really needing to go in depth. He didn't need to give some sort of drawn out explanation in order for her to get it. She just did.

"I think…," she trailed and scoot closer to him. Their knees bumped and suddenly his focus was shifting from his hell of a week to something he'd been avoiding all this time. She licked her lips and her eyes darted down to his own. "I think you need to spend time doing things you want. Things you like. Spend time with people you care about…who care about you…"

"Not many people care about me, Liv."

He moved closer, his previously hidden apprehension disappearing at her soft-spoken words. It was true. He was a hard man to get along with, and people who could tolerate him for longer than a conversation deserved a medal. Olivia Benson deserved the world.

"That's not true. You're not as difficult as you think."

He didn't say anything. He just stared at her and she stared right back. Words that were coming out of her were things she never needed to say. She could see right through him. He could see right through her, too.

"You may be a little bias, Liv."

"So, what if I am?"

She quirked the smallest smile, but it disappeared when she leaned closer. He did so as well, their lips just inches from each other. They hovered there, looking into each other's eyes and just being.

"Liv? I'm going to kiss you. It's…something I've been wanting to do for a while now."

She smiled fully this time and tugged their joined hands towards her, "And that's something I've been waiting for."

Just like that, his week from hell had suddenly been so worth it. He'd made a hard decision, he faced the consequences that nearly cost him his freedom. He'd never felt so alone and little in this world, without purpose or life, and he narrowly avoided destroying his career and losing his license.

This…Olivia's lips pressed against his, her hand on his cheek and his threading through her hair…this was his light at the end of the tunnel.

She softly moaned into his mouth, their tongues grazing, and he had the thought that if this was how he was going to spend his suspension, then he didn't ever want to go back to work. He wanted to stay here and kiss her. Go to her apartment, and kiss her there. He wanted to play with Noah and watch movies with them. Take her out to dinner and take them both out to dinner, too.

For the first time since he got home, he wasn't worried about how he was going to deal with all of this. His suddenly empty plate was full again with an SVU Lieutenant and her son. If she'd let him.

He chuckled when she stood up and pulled away from him, and pulled him back towards where his lonely bedroom was.

Scratch that. She probably wouldn't mind after all.