Over These Years

Disclaimer:I claim no ownership to any of Law and Order characters or any other characters that presented in this work of fiction. They all belong to their respective owners. I just took them out on a play date...

Summary:He was there from the start, helping her mother and in turn helping her, and yet she never knew...Detective Olivia Benson's childhood told through the eyes of Captain Donald Cragen.

Author's Note: Well I diving in deep to new territory. Please note that I have never written SVU before so I apologise in advance for any OOCness that may occur. Also I have never been to New York or even America (that's a lie, when I was four months old I went to Florida) so if I stuff up the layout or anything with the city I am sorry.

Anyway I hope you all enjoy this little fic. The damn plot bunnies wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote this...sigh


Special Victims Unit, Manhattan

5th January 1969

It was his first day as a detective of Sex Crimes and Donald Cragen didn't know if he should feel excited or nervous. In all honesty he had no idea why he had left the 2-7 in favour of working such an undesired unit.

He looked over at his partner, Detective Peter Jackson who was knee deep in an unholy amount of paper work. Don sighed, he already missed Max and he hadn't even been here for two hours. In all honesty, he was regretting joining SVU, after all he had only just passed his Detective's test and he was already working in what was considered the hardest unit in the whole of NYPD. He glanced at his partner – Jackson was somewhat of a mute, deeply serious about his work with a black and white view on the world.

Suddenly the phone rang and Jackson grabbed it and deadpanned, "Special Victims Unit, Detective Jackson speaking,"

Don listened carefully as his partner grunted and wrote down an address. Hanging up Jackson rose and grabbed his coat. He turned and said softly, "You coming Cragen?"

"Yeah,"

Don got up quickly and grabbed his coat as well. He followed his partner to the elevator, almost struggling to catch up with his long strides. As Don stood in the elevator he asked, "So what happened?"

"Serena Benson reported a rape at her local Precinct. She's been taken to St Clare's,"

"Okay," said Don shortly. Well this is it, he thought dryly, they say the first case in SVU can make or break you, this is it.

"Nervous?" asked Jackson suddenly as they reached the bottom floor. Don blinked and shrugged, "Yeah,"

"It never gets easier," said Jackson seriously, keeping his voice low as he made his way to the squad car. The two men hopped in, Don in shot gun, and as the car pulled out Jackson continued, "Remember this Donnie, it will never get easier,"

Don nodded and felt his stomach twist uncomfortably. Looking ahead and examining the traffic they drove to St. Clares and when they arrived they were directed to Serena Benson's room whilst being informed of her condition. A rape kit had been done and she also had a minor knife wound across her right forearm and a few bruises but nothing too serious.

Don nodded, leading the way in the discussion as Jackson took notes. He had the feeling that this would be the way things would stay for the rest of this partnership. They reached Serena's room, and that's when the doctor left them saying he had to check on another patient. Don entered her room.

Serena Benson was pretty, and if they weren't in their current circumstances and Don wasn't dating then he would've asked her out. She had fine features and long brown hair. There was a small bandage wrapped around her arm and a large bruise developing well above her left eye.

"Hello Ms. Benson," said Don, "My name is Detective Donald Cragen and this is my partner Detective Peter Ja –"

"When can I get the hell outta here?' interrupted Serena, glaring at the detectives.

"When your doctor says so," replied Jackson, he surveyed her for a second before saying, "Were you drinking before the rape?"

She face reddened slightly and she snapped back, "And what if I was Detective? I'm not some little slut that does guys in freaking alleys! Get the hell out now!"

Don gasped slightly and he stared at his partner who merely shrugged, "As you wish Ms. Benson," and then to Don, "Finish the questioning," and then he left.

Don blinked and turned back to Serena, "I'm sorry Ms. Benson."

She shrugged and then asked, "How old are you?"

"What does it matter?"

"I'm twenty two and I've just been raped and accused of being a slut by the cops," she deadpanned.

"He didn't mean it –" Don stopped as he saw a few tears begin to well up. He approached her calmly and sat beside her, reaching forward and resting his hand on hers, rubbing it slightly. She coughed and then the waterworks began.

"It's okay..." he said gently. She shook her head and moaned, her entire frame shaking.

"I was at my friend's dorm, and having a few drinks in celebration for the end of term. When I remembered I needed to return a few books to the library...Kayla said I could go tomorrow but I insisted..." she paused and looked away from Don, "I...had just returned the book and was heading back my dorm to start packing my bags, and I took this shortcut I always take...when I noticed someone was following me..."

She coughed and pulled up the bed sheet trying to dry her eyes. Don offered her a tissue and she took it gratefully, blowing her nose softly.

"Serena," he said carefully, "If you want to continue this later we can –"

"No, it's okay!" she said shrilly, "I can do this, I can!" she drew a deep breath, "so I took this shortcut down this alley and that's when he," she said he with venom, "ran after me. I started to run, but it was hard in heels and I tripped...he...grabbed me and then raped me..." she froze.

Don nodded, "You do know it's not your fault, and there was nothing you –"

"I could have stayed with Kayla! I could have returned the book earlier...I could have fought back!" said Serena desperately, wrapping her arms around her head, drawing her knees up to her body.

"Serena, I will catch this guy, I will," declared Don. Serena glanced at him and said softly, "Thank you Detective,"

Don nodded, and then glanced back to see his partner gesturing at him at the door.

"Serena is there anyone we can contact? Any family?"

"No," whispered Serena, "Call Kayla, please, Kayla Brooks,"

"What's her number?"

Serena rattled off the number and Don wrote it on his notebook.

"Get some rest okay? We may have to talk to you again..." his voice trailed off, as Serena nodded in mute understanding. Don took one last glance at the woman before him and then walked out.

"Good cop, bad cop with the victim?" he asked aggressively to Jackson as they left the hospital.

"Not the best idea, but it worked," grunted Jackson. They got into the car and that's when Jackson said, "Donnie, don't make promises you can't keep,"

God, how right Jackson was, but Don didn't know that at the time.


Special Victims Unit, Manhattan

1st April, 1969

Don Cragen sat at his desk busy going through the paperwork. He desperately craved a drink. Today he and his new partner Deakins had knocked down an illegal child sex ring, and after seeing all those little girls...fuck, he really needed a drink, alas he couldn't, realising it wouldn't look good to turn up on a date looking and feeling shit faced.

Glancing up at the clock, he saw it was four thirty. He smiled slightly, as he thought of the large ring that sat in the bottom of his pocket. Today was the day, the day he'd finally propose to Marge, after four years of dating he knew it was time.

"Donnie!" called Detective Deakin's from the door. Don looked up to see his partner, a brown haired rookie detective, standing next to a pretty blonde haired woman. He recognised her immediately even despite the dramatic hair colour change. He rose quickly and proceeded over to them.

"Thanks Jimmy," said Cragen, "Umm, you reckon you can finish up the paperwork?"

Deakins nodded, glancing between Cragen and the woman suspiciously, before he turned and went back to his desk.

"New partner?" said the woman softly.

Don nodded, "Jackson transferred over to Major Case last week,"

"No great loss there,"

Don sighed, running his hand through his hair, "Listen Serena, this may sound rude, but why are you here? You know that I'm sorry for not catching –"

"You did everything you could Detective," said Serena, "I know that, it's just..." she paused as if in pain, "Could you come and get a drink with me?"

"What!?" goggled Don, in shock. Regaining composure he said, "Listen I've really got to catch up on paperwork..."

"Please Don," pleaded Serena, glancing around the bullpen as if she was unsure of herself, "I really need to talk to someone, so please? Just as friends,"

Don scuffed his shoe against the floor and swallowed.

"Sure, I'll just grab my coat,"

Don grabbed his coat, told Deakins he was leaving early, and then left with Serena, following her to a small bar not far from the precinct. He noticed she deliberately passed a larger and more welcoming bar in favour of this one. He wondered if she did that out of wanting more privacy or if she knew it was a cop's bar.

They sat down in a small booth, and Don ordered a whiskey whilst Serena ordered some vodka. They sat there for a while, sipping their drinks with great care, an awkward silence smothering them like smog. Finally Don broke the ice and asked, "What did you want to talk about?"

Serena placed her drink down and glanced away. She turned back and looked straight into Don's gray eyes and said loudly, "I'm pregnant,"

Don coughed, and little spits of alcohol flew out of his mouth. She was joking right? It was April Fools after all, she had to be joking – and yet Don knew she wasn't. There was no twinkle of amusement in her eyes, just confusion – plain and simple.

"Serena..." he began but she cut him off.

"I'm going to keep her," said Serena confidently. She sculled her vodka and then ordered another one. "I'm keeping her Don; she's my girl, not his, mine,"

She began to cry, and Don immediately clasped her hand, and rubbed it like he had done all those weeks ago.

"Shhh, it's okay," he said gently, and at his words she cried even more, placing her head in her palm. They sat there for a while, Don whispering small words of comfort. Serena sniffed and then Don said softly, "So how do you know she's a girl?"

Serena snorted in laughter, and grabbed her vodka, taking a small sip, "Mother's intuition," she shrugged, "I'm calling her Olivia," she took another sip.

Don sighed, and decided to bring a voice of reason to the conversation, "Serena, listen I know you want to raise her, but if you are going to go through with this – the drinking has to stop,"

One thing Don Cragen had learned about Serena Benson whilst he had been investigating her rape was that she was known to be a heavy drinker. He knew well enough from the job that even the well intentioned person could turn violent if under the influence.

"I know," she said and then she swallowed the last of her vodka and took in a deep breath, "That's my last one, I swear, Livvie's going to grow up right, she's going to grow up right,"

"You'll be a great mom," smiled Don. Serena smiled back and nodded. He continued, "Listen if you need any help setting up, don't hesitate to ask, okay?"

"Thanks, but I should be fine. Kayla is helping me look for an apartment," Don nodded as he remembered the cheery red headed girl who was Serena's best friend. Serena paused for a moment, "There is one thing though,"

"What?"

"Ummm..." she bit her lip, "In the event of something happening to me, I was just wondering if you could be Livvie's legal guardian."

If Serena hadn't looked so serious Don would of considered this to be a prank, why him to be her child's guardian? He barely knew her, well that's not true, he knew Serena Benson rather well, but why him? Why not her family, or her best friend? Surely there was someone else? Why the rookie detective that had just managed to transfer into SVU at the right time? Why him? Not that he wasn't honoured to be considered but he had a feeling it was probably against procedure and besides what would Marge think?

"You're probably wondering why," said Serena breaking through his trance.

"Yeah,"

Serena shrugged, "It's really kind of simple, I haven't really trusted anyone since...and besides I have no family and Kayla is great and all but in the end, I know that when it comes to the crunch you'd be the best thing for my baby,"

"I'd...I'd have to think about it," said Don truthfully. Serena nodded in understanding, "I understand," she stood up to leave, "Just call me when you know,"

Serena left, and Don just sat there, his mind racing at a million miles an hour. He finished his drink and then got up, glancing at the time he swore realising that he was going to be late to his big date. Placing a twenty on the table, he left.


Cragen's Apartment, Manhattan

15th May, 1969

The next month and a half passed without great incident. Don's big date had gone well, and a wedding date had been set for October. He couldn't be happier with his beautiful fiancé. They had just moved into a new apartment near the Upper East Side (Marge's parents had insisted on buying them it). He had finally set into a familiar routine with Jimmy Deakins, the younger man becoming like the little brother he never had.

In fact on Saturday he and a bunch of other cops from the precinct were setting Deakins up with a young intern at Mount Sinai called Angela Warner, who happened to be the Captain of Major Case's cousin.

Don had given much thought into Serena's request, checking up on the young woman once a week, but always dodging it. Not that Serena pressured him with it, for which he was grateful. Marge was fine with the idea.

"If you really want to do this Don, just say, it's your call," she had said to when he had broken her the news a day after he had popped the big question.

"Our call," he had reminded her.

Overall Don wanted to take Serena up on her offer. He had talked to his captain about it and too his old friend Max, (they and Marge were the only ones that knew) and his captain supported the motion.

Don got up from his old leather couch and walked over to the phone, heart racing as he walked the phone. Dialling her number, he waited for her to pick up. She picked up.

"Hello,"

"Serena its Don," he said.

"Don! Hi, I just moved into my apartment,"

"That's great," smiled Don and then he bit his tongue and decided to get it out, "I've thought about what you said,"

A sharp intake of breath could be heard on the other end of the line.

"And I'll act as Olivia's" he paused with a small smile, the name of the unborn youth had really grown on him, hell he wasn't even sure if Serena's child was a girl to begin with, "legal guardian in the event of you not being able to,"

"Thank you so much, you don't know how much this means," said Serena, gratitude coating her voice, "Is Marge okay with it?" It hadn't taken long for Serena to catch on to Don's fiancé, who Serena proclaimed had to be the luckiest woman in the whole world.

"She's fine," said Don shortly but not unkindly. He glanced at the large clock on his wall, he had a shift in a hour.

"Listen I've got to get to work. I'll pop over tomorrow with Marge – you did say you needed help painting right?"

"Yeah, thanks Don, again,"

"No problem. See you tomorrow then," he hung up and grabbed his coat and headed out.


Holding Cell, Manhattan

31st August, 1969

He was pissed. It was that simple. He was really pissed.

Don Cragen had been in the middle of a nice outing with his fiancé, the last chance he had to wine and dine Marge at a hellavu expensive restaurant that had taken months to book in advance before they said their vows when he got the call. It had been work, just like all the other times, but this time it was different, a lot different.

Apparently a young heavily pregnant woman had been arrested for drunkenness in public. She had been asking for a Don Cragen, and typically that had gotten back to him. He couldn't believe her, after all her promises about how she wouldn't drink anymore for the sake of Olivia, and hell he had even stopped drinking, not that it had been that much of a trouble at the time but nonetheless, he couldn't believe her. Not to mention the fact she was almost due! Her doctor had specifically told her to stay at home.

Heading down to the holding cell he waved the guards out and went up to the bars. She sat on the bench, slumped against the wall, hands placed protectively over her stomach. Her breathing was heavy; her eyelids closed, but when Don coughed her eyes snapped open.

"I really fucked up didn't I?" she slurred.

"No shit Serena," he deadpanned. He rolled his eyes and said, "I can't believe you, I can't believe you." He shook his head, "You made a promise, what were you thinking? You're nearly due and you're out drinking! What were you thinking Serena? What?!"

Serena looked up with dewy blue eyes and Don couldn't help but pray that her child didn't inherit that look. He stared back coldly at her; determined not to let her play him like that. They stared at each other, waiting for the other to break.

"Why?" he finally said, looking away.

"I...it finally hit me, before...I mean...I finally realised I was having a child of rape, I'm twenty two and I'm pregnant with a child, his child...I..."

"No, your child, your Olivia, remember?" he sighed, "Listen if you're really unsure you can always look at adoption or foster care –"

"She'd go to you," said Serena, she rose and began to pace the room, "Don – I said I'd do this, and I will...I just...what if she turns out like him? What if she's violent? What will I do? What?"

Don blinked, "She won't be," Serena opened her mouth to protest but Don cut her off, "Cross that bridge when you get to it,"

"Okay..." her face fell, her eyes darting downwards, and suddenly Don noticed that there was a small wet patch growing larger by the minute.

"Officer," Don quickly called, whilst Serena began tearing out her hair and hyperventilating. When no one came he yelled the command. A uniform came in.

"What's the matter –"

"Call an ambulance now," said Don sharply, gesturing to Serena, who was now holding her belly, tears running down her face. The uniform's eyes widened and he rushed forward and unlocked the cell door. Don rushed in and grabbed Serena, pulling her along with him.

The uniform led them to a squad car and Don got Serena in the back. He sat next to her, whilst two uniforms jumped in front. Soon they were speeding off to St. Clare's. The moment they arrived, Don and Serena were out. Walking into the Emergency, Don immediately made a beeline to the nurse, pulling out his badge when people began to yell at him, and said to the nurse, "She's about to go into labour."

The nurse nodded, and she gestured for a co-worker to take Serena to the Labour and Delivery department. Whilst Serena was prepped, the nurse asked, "Are you the father?"

"No, just a friend," explained Don and then to Serena, "I'm going to have to call Marge,"

"Okay," said Serena. Don nodded and called Marge. She wasn't mad (thank god) but she was worried, and said she was coming down to the hospital immediately.

"Detective?" asked one of the uniforms.

"Yes,"

"We're going to head back to the precinct...um how do you know her?"

"Long story," he shrugged. The uniform nodded and left. Don returned to Serena's side and just talked to her in an effort to keep her calm. Soon Marge arrived and the two women began chatting like best friends. They talked about overseas trips (fat chance on Don's salary) and Marge mentioned she was starting a new job at the airline (maybe not such a fat chance then). He looked at his watch, it was ten o'clock.

Over the next hour and a half the contractions steadily got worse. Don began to wonder if Serena had been a sailor in a past life. He felt helpless, unsure what to do, so he just sort of stood there, whilst Marge dove in and helped the young woman.

The minutes trickled by and finally it was time. A doctor came in and began to coach Serena through it. Don stood by her side, gripping her hand, not even reacting as her nails dug deep into his hand. Marge was further down the bed, whispering words of encouragement.

"It's like shitting a god damn watermelon! Not like the movies!" Serena cried before giving another push, sweat running down her face which was red like a beetroot.

"C'mon Serena, push, breathe, push, breathe," muttered Don.

"Shut the fu – ahhhh!" Serena gave one last push and it was like a small pop sound could be heard. Don looked to the doctor, who was now holding a small child that was covered in a white and red substance.

The baby was wailing slightly, bawling its tiny fists together. The doctor handed the baby to a nurse and then cut off the umbilical cord which was surprisingly bluish-white in colour. The nurse then left with the small infant, leaving Don and Marge to comfort Serena.

Soon enough the placenta came out, and then Serena begin to drift off into an uneasy sleep.

"She did good," said Don simply.

Marge nodded, "Who knows in a few years..."

"Trust me," came a husky voice beside them, "childbirth is not what is cracked up to be,"

"Welcome to the living,"

"Thanks Don," yawned Serena, she sat up slightly and asked with wide eyes, "Where is she?"

"Getting cleaned up, she's fine," said Marge. Serena nodded, slumping back, exhausted. Suddenly her door opened and a nurse walked in with a bundle of blankets. Serena's back straightened, her eyes getting their spark back. The nurse passed the small bundle to Don, who caught sight of two chocolate brown eyes staring up at him.

He passed the baby to Serena, who held her gently, rocking her back and forth calmly. A small smile tugged at Serena's lips.

"So a boy or a girl?" asked Don.

"A girl," chorused Serena and Marge. The nurse chuckled.

"Mothers' intuition," said the nurse with a smile, "On a good note, she's fine, weighing at about 7 pounds. She's healthy, and she was born on the first of September,"

The nurse stood there for a minute and then left the young mother and the Cragens.

"Olivia, Olivia –" she paused and glanced at Don, "Olivia Donatella Benson," Don's jaw dropped in surprise to which Serena chuckled, "Well I can't give her the name Donald, can I?"

"Where did you even get that name from?" asked Cragen raising an eyebrow.

"Donatella can be a girl's name!" retorted Serena loudly which made Olivia cry. She began to hush Olivia, rocking her backwards and forwards. Olivia began to calm down, suckling on her mother's pinkie finger.

"Well I think it's a beautiful name," commented Marge. Serena stuck out her tongue at Don and then raised Olivia up to her face.

And thus on September the 1st 1969 Olivia Donatella Benson was born.


- Chapter has been edited.