Law & Order: Ben Stone (Prompts: 023, 029, 042)
Fandom: Law & Order
Character: Ben Stone (with Shambala Green)
Prompt: 023. Lovers
Summary: Post-"Sanctuary." Ben and Shambala have some unfinished business to take care of.
Ben walked into the darkened apartment, silently closing the door behind him. Sighing heavily, he hung up his overcoat and set his briefcase down on the floor.
He felt betrayed. Isaac Roberts murdered an innocent man in cold blood, and Adam was allowing him to walk free. Ben could understand his motives – to allow the city to heal from the damage caused by Reverend Ott – but he would never agree with it. Not when murder was involved.
Ben’s job was to ensure that those who broke the law were punished – but he was just prevented from doing that, and it seemed to him that there was nothing left anymore. He reached into the liquor cabinet, pouring himself a stiff drink.
“I didn’t think you were ever coming home,” Shambala said. Wearing ratty flannel pajamas, she stood behind him with arms crossed.
He looked up, not knowing what to say. Things hadn’t been so good between them lately, the case causing a chasm in the relationship that had been built on courtroom scrapping. Beyond that, they had strong feelings for one another; usually, both walked away from their duels with no hard feelings. It might not be so this time.
“I suppose congratulations are in order,” he replied, swallowing his whiskey.
“Not just yet. It was a mistrial.”
“No, you won. Adam’s not going to re-try the case. I hope Mr. Roberts is thankful for his strong defense.” Ben sat down on the sofa, rubbing his eyes.
“Isaac Roberts may have done a terrible thing, but he’s been held down by the system his entire life, and –”
“We’re at home now, Shambala. Not in court. Spare me the rhetoric.”
She laughed. “You’re angry at me now?”
“You’re the one who called me a racist,” Ben shot back.
“And you tossed that one right back at me, remember?”
“When I look at Isaac Roberts, I see a man who committed a crime. That’s it. I don’t care if he’s black, white, or polka-dotted. And when I look at you, I don’t see a black woman, but a woman I care for very deeply. So, yes – that accusation really hurt coming from you.”
Shambala sighed. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I was frustrated.”
Ben looked into her eyes. “Did you really mean it?”
“No, I didn’t. I honestly and truly believe that Joshua Berger is a racist, but not you. We just have different ideas on the application of the law.”
Ben set the empty glass on the coffee table. “Maybe Adam has a point about healing.”
# # #
That night, as they spooned in bed together, Ben’s hand reached around Shambala’s body, caressing her stomach. She shuddered slightly.
Perhaps they were on the mend, but she had a much bigger problem. She was a week late, and her suspicions were confirmed that morning when two pink lines appeared on the pregnancy test.
Ben was still smarting, and now he was talking about resigning. She realized that if there ever was a good time to break the news, it likely wouldn’t be coming soon.
Fandom: Law & Order
Character: Ben Stone (with Shambala Green)
Prompt: 029. Birth
Word Count: 693
Summary: Ben and Shambala become parents. Sequel to "So That We May Heal."
Ben was pacing the floor.
The hallway was mostly quiet outside the delivery room. Nurses filled out paperwork at their station; families appeared with older children in tow, eager to visit new loved ones. The silence was occasionally broken by a baby’s cry or the ringing of a call bell.
And his child was no closer to being born. He poured himself a cup of water from a nearby water cooler, hoping that it would help calm his shattered nerves. He clutched the paper unsteadily, realizing that his hands were shaking.
“I’m surprised that you aren’t chain-smoking cigarettes.”
He’d called Adam – the closest thing he had to a father – to let him know what was going on, but hadn’t expected his former boss to make an appearance. It was getting late, and the older man looked to be on his way home.
“Don’t tempt me,” Ben replied. “If they allowed smoking in here, I might.”
“Thought you might need some moral support,” Adam said. “Why aren’t you in the delivery room with Shambala?”
“I wanted to stay with her, but she insisted on being alone for a while.”
“You two are a good pair. You’re both stubborn.”
Ben smiled faintly. “And frankly, Adam, I can’t stand to see her in this much pain. I damn near passed out when they gave her the epidural.”
“The what?” Adam asked.
“It was a big needle that went in her back. For pain.”
Adam cringed. “When Josh was born, I wasn’t allowed anywhere near the delivery room. I think they had the right idea then.”
“I’m scared.” Ben blurted it out without thinking. Men weren’t supposed to be afraid; if his own father were there, he’d likely be facing a barrage of insults.
“I know,” Adam replied. “You’re shaking like a leaf.”
“It’s been so long since Emily was born. And Anne did most of the work then – I was busy building a career. I haven’t the slightest clue how to change diapers, for God’s sake. And Shambala will be going back to Legal Aid in a little over a month.”
“And that bothers you, doesn’t it?”
Ben lowered his voice to a whisper, betraying at last what he’d barely allowed himself to think for nine months, let alone say. “Of course it bothers me, Adam. I don’t mind looking after the baby, but I’m the one who should be providing. Not her.”
“Your job is still there if you want it. Rescind your resignation.”
Ben shook his head. “I caused a woman’s death, Adam. I can’t un-ring that bell.”
“You would say that.”
The call light outside the delivery room switched on, catching Ben’s attention. A nurse walked in, then stepped out into the hallway a few moments later.
“Your wife needs you now, Mr. Stone.”
“Go,” Adam said. “Witness the miracle of life.”
# # #
“How do you feel?” Ben asked.
“In a word, exhausted,” Shambala replied; she’d just given birth to a seven-pound girl, another daughter for Ben. “Do you want to hold her?”
Ben nodded, not wanting to appear hesitant. He nervously took the baby in his arms; as soon as he did, she began to wail. “Shhh,” he whispered, holding the little girl close. She was a beautiful child, with light skin and a shock of dark hair.
Shambala smiled. “She’s already got you wrapped around her little finger.”
“I’ve been thinking,” Ben said. Long ago, they’d settled on a name; but a memory had nagged at him, changing his mind. “Perhaps Alison isn’t such a good name after all.”
Shambala’s face conveyed instant understanding. “You never forgot her,” she said.
Dierdre Lowenstein, the little girl who’d died so terribly at the hands of those who were supposed to love her. Ben and Shambala had forged their relationship during that case, so many years ago.
“What do you think?” Ben asked.
“I think it’s fitting,” Shambala replied.
Things had been rough during the past while, and traveling the road ahead wasn’t going to be easy. But their Didi would have the love and stability that her namesake didn’t. Ben would ensure that, no matter what it took.
Fandom: Law & Order
Character: Ben Stone (with Jack McCoy, Claire Kincaid, Lennie Briscoe, and Adam Schiff)
Prompt: 042. Triangle
Word Count: 2,183
Summary: AU. "Aftershock" according to my twisted 'shipper's brain. Told in ten drabbles.
Jack wandered around the waiting room, his hangover threatening to manifest itself into full-blown physical illness. But if the amount of liquor he’d consumed the previous evening didn’t do it, his guilt would. Claire was barely clinging to life.
A man suddenly appeared in the corridor, charging towards Jack. He was instantly recognizable. How the hell did Ben Stone know what had happened? And wasn’t he supposed to be in Europe?
The look in Stone’s eyes was wild, crazy, out of control; he was usually so calm and collected. Before Jack could react, Stone punched him in the face. Blood poured out of Jack’s nose, and he was almost sure that it was broken.
“You son of a bitch! You just couldn’t leave her alone!” Stone shouted as hospital security restrained him.
# # #
“This is my fault,” Adam said. “I called Ben to let him know what happened, because I thought that he would want to know. He’s been back in town a week – he must have caught the first cab over here. Are you going to press charges?”
“I don’t know. Should I?” Jack instinctively touched his bandaged nose. It wasn’t broken – miracle of miracles – but it hurt like hell.
“I spoke to Ben downstairs. He’s pretty shaken up about this.”
Jack downed the last of his coffee, crumpling the Styrofoam cup. “Why? I understand that he worked with Claire, but – ”
“She never told you,” Adam said quietly.
“Told me what?” Jack leaned forward.
“They were lovers. I didn’t know myself until after it was over.”
Holier-than-thou Ben Stone, sleeping with Claire? Jack couldn’t have been more shocked if Adam had told him that Stone had killed JFK. And why the hell didn’t Claire tell him?
“That explains a lot,” he replied bitterly.
# # #
“You know, Stone – if you wanted to hit somebody, you could’ve hit me. She was driving me home.”
Lennie Briscoe sat with Ben in a small downstairs room. The detective looked like utter hell – pale, unshaven, dark circles under his eyes. He stared out the window towards cranes and beams of steel.
“Does he have to fuck every woman who walks through his door?” Ben’s anger was palpable, filling the air between them. “I’m sure that to him, Claire was just another notch on his bedpost. To me –”
“To you, what?” Briscoe turned, his eyes meeting Ben’s.
“Never mind,” Ben replied softly, burying his face in his hands. Knowingly, Briscoe put a hand on Ben’s shoulder. It didn’t need to be said.
Ben looked up. “If she dies, Lennie, I will personally hold McCoy responsible.”
“It was my fault, Ben. Not his.”
“I can’t even see her now. I’ve been barred from entering the floor she’s on.”
“I don’t have any pull with the hospital, but I’ll see what I can do. And you have to promise to keep your hands off Jack.”
Ben nodded gratefully.
# # #
“Who the hell let you back up here?” Jack asked incredulously. “I’ve got a good mind to call security.”
Ben was silent; he crossed his arms defensively. He wasn’t sorry for hauling off and decking McCoy, but he kept his promise to Briscoe in mind. Nothing was going to stop him from seeing Claire.
“Are you going to attack me again? Because if you are, I’d at least like some advance warning.”
“No, sir, I’m not. And I’ve got as much right to be here as you do.”
Jack relaxed a little. “I think I had you all wrong, Ben. You used to look down your nose at me, but perhaps we’re not so different after all.”
“Don’t kid yourself,” Ben retorted. “The only thing we have in common is Claire. And I’ll guarantee that my intentions are better than yours.”
Jack stepped forward, raising his voice. “You sanctimonious –”
Both men turned at the sound of Anita Van Buren’s voice. The lieutenant looked tired and wan, as though she’d been equally affected by the previous night’s events.
“Hello, Ben,” Van Buren said. “How’s she doing, Jack?”
Jack shrugged, swallowing hard. “As well as can be expected, I suppose – they’re most worried about the internal bleeding. She’s still unconscious.”
“Is she allowed to have visitors?”
“Yes, but briefly,” Jack replied.
After Van Buren disappeared into Claire’s room, Jack turned to Ben.
“I don’t give a damn what you think, Ben. You can judge me all you want. But I care about Claire as much as you do, and she’s the only thing that matters right now.”
# # #
Ben paused at the door, afraid of what he’d see on the other side.
He walked in quietly. The shades were drawn, and it took his eyes a moment to adjust to the darkness. It wasn’t the mess of machines that he’d expected; there was simply an IV drip and a heart monitor.
She looked as beautiful as ever; the accident left her face unscathed, except for some stitches where her forehead had been cut open. If it weren’t for that – and the bruises, and the cast on her right arm – he would have thought that she wasn’t injured at all.
Ben knew what it meant, and shuddered at the thought. The trauma was much deeper.
He sat down next to the bed, stroking her hair; how he had missed the sensation of the dark strands against his fingers. He began to cry, not for the first time that day. Maybe she could hear him.
What in the hell was he going to say?
He was the one who had walked away. He leased his apartment and wrote a letter to Claire, telling her that he was leaving and wouldn’t be back for a long time – if ever. He’d also told her how sorry he was, but doubted that it made any difference; if she could hear him, chances were that she was still angry.
So he said a prayer instead, asking – no, begging – God to spare her life. All he wanted was for her to be okay, even if she never spoke to him again.
Then he took her hand, pressing his lips gently against her warm skin.
“I love you,” he whispered, his tears falling on her. Maybe this would be the last time he’d ever tell her that; if only it hadn’t taken this to make him realize that he still needed her.
McCoy was standing in the hallway when Ben walked out. They locked eyes; the other man wasn’t the vibrant figure he’d been two years ago. He looked haggard, his features drawn. For the first time, Ben found himself feeling sorry for him.
# # #
Jack couldn’t keep vigil around the clock.
He had to sleep sometime – and usually did so propped in a chair in the hospital waiting room. He wanted to sleep at Claire’s side, but he’d been told by several different nurses that he was lucky to not be chased out when visiting hours were over.
He had replied that they’d have a hell of a time getting him to leave; if and when there was a change in Claire’s condition, he was going to be there when it happened. He only left the hospital to shower, shave, and change clothes.
Then there was the matter of his job. Adam had been surprisingly sympathetic, granting him emergency leave; but he was expected to return to Hogan Place sooner or later. And he didn’t know how he was going to do it. He could usually bury himself in his work, but since this nightmare began, he had trouble thinking of anything else.
Suddenly, there was a commotion near Claire’s room. Two doctors and one nurse gathered in the hallway, whispering to one another. Although he was exhausted, Jack immediately got up and headed towards them.
“I don’t know who he is,” Jack heard one of the doctors say. “Maybe her brother? It’s not the guy with the bandaged nose – his name is Jack.”
“Excuse me,” Jack said sharply. “Has something happened?”
“Do you know who Ben is?” the nurse asked. It took a moment for the question to register with him.
“Why? Is she awake?”
“She’s pretty out of it with the morphine, but she’s insisting that she wants to see someone named Ben. Do you know who he is?”
Jack felt his heart sink. Maybe it was just the drugs, but he wasn’t the first person that she asked to see, and that had to mean something. Shit, were things between them really that bad?
Reluctantly, he gestured towards Stone, who was asleep on one of the couches; his rival had never left the hospital at all.
# # #
“Ben,” Claire mumbled. “You’re here.”
“Yes, darling,” Ben replied, smiling. “I’m here.”
He hadn’t meant to use the term of endearment, but old habits died hard. God had answered Ben’s prayer, and no words could express his joy. Claire seemed to be drifting in and out of sleep, her eyes opening and closing continuously; when Ben spoke, they snapped open only to become heavy again a few seconds later.
“What happened? Where am I?”
“You were in a car accident,” Ben explained. “You were driving Lennie Briscoe home, and a drunk driver hit you. You’re in St. Vincent’s Hospital.”
“Lennie? Is he here too?”
“No,” Ben said. “He’s fine, but he’s been very worried about you. We all have.”
“What about Jack?”
Ben wished she hadn’t asked. “He’s in the waiting room outside.”
“Where were you, Ben? I’ve been looking all over for you.”
He swallowed hard, trying to think of a way to answer. It was not the time or place to discuss why he’d left, and maybe it was just the dope talking and not her.
Just then, a petite nurse walked in. “Okay, Mr. Stone, that’s enough. We have to run some tests, and Ms. Kincaid needs rest.”
Ben nodded, and then turned to Claire. “I have to go, but I’ll be back.”
She dozed off.
# # #
“She’s going to have a lot of physical therapy ahead of her, but the prognosis is good.”
Claire’s mother wept upon hearing the news, burying herself in her husband’s arms; her father stood silently apart from them, beaming.
Jack extended his hand to Stone. He hadn’t forgotten about the animosity – or his swollen nose, for that matter – but Claire had survived.
That was the most important thing.
# # #
“I just want to know one thing,” Claire said as she took small bites from her hospital breakfast. “Why did you leave?”
“Because I didn’t think I could compete with Jack,” Ben responded. And that was really all it boiled down to. Every one of McCoy’s female assistants had fallen for him – the man attracted them like moths to a flame. Ben felt he didn’t stand a chance.
“I was assisting him, Ben. Not sleeping with him.”
“But you’re sleeping with him now, right?”
“Not anymore. It’s over. The day of the accident, I decided to break it off with him and quit the DA’s office. I never got the chance.”
Ben was stunned. “Does he know about this?”
“Not yet, but I’m going to tell him. I care about him a lot, Ben, but I don’t love him. I love you. I always have.”
There it was. Ben wasn’t sure if she’d really said it, or he was just dreaming.
“You left so suddenly, and I never really knew why. I thought it was something I did. I was so hurt and confused.”
“No,” Ben said. “It wasn’t you, it was me. And I’m so sorry.”
“Do you still want me?” she asked. “Even though I’m probably going to have trouble walking for the rest of my life?”
“Oh, yes,” Ben whispered. “Without a doubt.”
He kissed her slowly, tentatively, as though expecting her to change her mind. She tasted like coffee and toast and raspberry jam, and the combination was the best thing his senses had ever experienced. He’d nearly lost her, but now he had her back. For good.
“Never leave me again,” she said.
“I won’t.” Ben took her hands in his. “I promise.”
# # #
Jack stood outside Claire’s room, viewing the scene through partly closed window blinds. He couldn’t hear much of what they were saying, but he saw them kiss. The writing was on the wall.
He couldn’t say that it didn’t hurt; in fact, it hurt a hell of a lot more than it did when Stone punched him. But he loved Claire enough to let her go, and he’d already decided that if she were to choose Stone over him, he wasn’t going to put up a fight.
Normally, he would have fought to the death. But it wasn’t the best thing for Claire – she’d been through so much, and she deserved happiness. He would never see how that happiness could come from Ben Stone, but it wasn’t his place to do so.
He hated losing - but this time, not everyone could win. He knew that.
“Goodbye, Claire,” he whispered to the window. “He’d better treat you well.”
Then he walked away. He had a ton of cases to attend to, and a new assistant to train.