Over These Years
Author's Note: Please note this hasn't been beta'd...yet. It's hot off the press so sorry for any spelling mistakes and of course any other slip ups, like OCCness...whatever enjoy this and thanks again to all those who reviewed, alerted, or fave'd this. You guys all rock! Seriously! Also if you don't know what Carols by Candlelight is, well it's something we do in Australia...pretty self explanatory really.
Special Victims Unit, Manhattan
8th December, 2000
"I knew all along,"
Don Cragen looked up to see Olivia Benson standing at the door of his office. Her eyes were red as if from crying. She walked over to his desk and slumped into a chair, eyes closed, hands massaging her head. She looked so lost...
Don studied his detective for a moment. She was shaking slightly, she had been crying, and it tore his heart. He hated seeing her like this, so vulnerable. His arms ached to go over there, and hold her tightly like he had done all those years ago.
She'd been like this for about a week, ever since the untimely death of her mother. Olivia had been distant, tired, cranky (her partner still had the bruises to show),and even teary. He had noticed that today she was more composed, and when he thought about it he remembered all those times today that she had given him a fleeting glance, as if wondering what to do. And now she was confronting him, searching for answers. Don had always wondered when this day would come. He had been waiting for her to connect the dots. Guess her mother's death had made her connect.
"What did you know Olivia?" he asked.
She shook her head and glanced up at him, "You know when I first made SVU I was so happy?" he didn't respond, so she continued, "I was so bloody happy...whole reason I joined NYPD was to make it here. And then I get here, and I met you...and I knew, just knew, that for some reason I knew you, and I didn't know how...and now all I can say is why didn't you say anything?"
"I didn't think it would make any difference Olivia,"
"Any difference...?" she repeated slowly. She leaned back, "I can't...why didn't you come back after I went back with Mom? Was that it?"
"I didn't want to leave you..." Don got up and looked out onto the interview room, "But you were happy, so happy...and Serena didn't..."
"Didn't want you seeing me," finished Olivia.
He nodded, "Yeah,"
"You could've ignored her," pressed Olivia. Don turned to look at her. He walked over to her and sat beside her.
"Would you have preferred that?"
"What?" said Olivia, confused, biting her lip.
"Would you have preferred to have me around?"
"It's not what I –"
Don cut her off, "Answer the question Detective,"
This got an eyebrow quirk from Olivia. A small smile tugged at her lips, "Well Captain..." she looked away from him, "I don't know..."
He nodded, "So how did you finally..." he let his question trial away to silence.
"Connect the dots?" shrugged Olivia, "I finally went to Mom's apartment and I had a look around," she smirked, "My Mom kept a journal, did ya know?"
"Really?" chuckled Don. He had never had Serena down for the journal keeping type.
"Yeah," nodded Olivia, "It wasn't a very well kept one...just random entries here and there...there were a lot from around '75...a lot of curses concerning your good name,"
"I can only wonder," deadpanned Don.
"So, that was a major clue, and then I went and checked some old records...you know like my birth certificate and who my guardian was..." she stared at Don for a moment, an odd expression on her face, "You know she didn't drink 'cause of you,"
"Yeah, whenever she went to get a drink after a stressful day," Olivia paused and then imitated Serena, "No...he wouldn't want me to, gotta do right..." Olivia looked at Don thoughtfully, "I remember asking her, who he was? She always said her guardian angel..."
Guardian angel? He had never thought of Serena to be one for dramatics (actually that was wrong, she was one...). He felt his eye glisten...she had thought that? Watching Olivia, he realised that his small meetings with Serena had probably served as constant reminders of what promised she had made, Livvie's going to grow up right, she gonna grow up right. And hell Olivia had grown up right, she was a SVU Detective, she was strong, she was mature, and she yet she was still his little girl.
"I never realised that she thought that," said Don slowly. He was aware that Olivia was observing him closely. It was unnerving, actually, how intense the stare was. It was no longer one of curiosity, but much like the one she used when she was in interrogation.
"So have you talked to Elliot and Alex Eames?" said Don suddenly, wanting to shake her gaze off him.
Don shrugged, he hadn't expected her to remember, an eight year old is one thing, but a six year old? Hell he could barely remember his childhood. He expanded, "When you stayed with me you got close to those two,"
"I did?" said Olivia in slight wonder. Her eyebrows knitted together, and then her jaw dropped, "No way...El is that Elliot? No way..." Her face reddened slightly and Don couldn't help but notice that she hadn't mentioned Eames in that sentence.
"Small world, eh?"
Olivia stared at him, "Biggest understatement of the century," she paused for a moment, "Why'd you let her give me Donatella as a middle name?"
"I thought it was a good choice," smirked Don, remembering his first reaction. Not that he'd had a choice, Serena's mind had been made up.
"Liar," said Olivia, "You didn't like it,"
"Well it was...odd let's just say,"
Don's eyes narrowed, "Splinter?"
"Yeah, El's Leo, John's Mikey, and well I guess Fin's Raph, so that means –"
Olivia's face split into a grin and she started laughing. Don couldn't help but join in, it was infectious. Eventually Olivia sobered and she got up, "Better head home...thanks Don, for everything,"
Don felt a strange vibe of déjà vu but he shook it off.
"Olivia...since we're both alone this Christmas...how'd ya like you like to spend Christmas with me?"
Olivia smiled, "Love too,"
She left the office and Don felt a strange desire to break out in song and dance.
Don's Apartment, Manhattan
24th December, 2000
Don stood at the stove, stirring a large saucepan full of pasta, carefully watching his sauce that was bubbling away and giving off an amazing smell. He was actually quite proud of himself. He had never been much of a cook, but if he had learned anything since Marge had passed away (bless her soul) was that he could make a mean vegetarian pasta.
Without warning the doorbell of his apartment rang. Turning down the heat, he left his meal and hurried to answer it.
He unlocked the dead lock, and opened it to reveal Olivia, dressed in a hoodie and jacket, with dark blue jeans tucked into ugg boots. Her short hair was flecked with small pieces of snow. As she entered the hallway she sniffed, a grin appearing on her face, "Started cooking without me?"
Don shrugged, "Thought we'd make a cake for desert...I do recall you saying that you wanted to use straight chocolate once,"
Olivia laughed. She took off her coat and followed Don into the kitchen. They spent the rest of the night catching up, with Olivia glowing like a tomatoes as Don recounted her antics when she was six. They did make a chocolate cake, though in the process the kitchen ended up looking like a bomb had hit it.
"So did you really date Mike Logan?" asked Don suddenly.
"Mike Logan...oh my god," Olivia started laughing hysterically, "He turns up acting all Macho, and all, and then Eames, this girl called Cootes, and I well...I don't think I should really continue."
Don opened his mouth to argue when Olivia suddenly asked, "So what happened to Mike? Still working at Homicide?"
Don shrugged, "Got sent to Staten Island,"
"Punched a homophobic councilman,"
"Poor guy," said Olivia. It was like an undecided thing that being sent to Staten Island or any other kind of big demotion was like signing your career away. Don glanced at the oven, "Cake's ready,"
Olivia nodded and got it out of the oven. Shrugging she grabbed a spoon and scooped some up into her mouth. She mumbled at Don's shocked expression, "Less dishes,"
Don shrugged and followed suit. Eventually they retreated to his couch (with a cup of eggnog), and started watching the Carols by Candlelight on TV, Olivia singing at the top of her lungs when Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer came on.
As they sat there, Olivia glanced around the apartment. She sighed, "Last time I was here, there were three of us," she picked up her cup and held it up, "To Marge, may she rest in peace,"
Don nodded, raising his own, "To Serena, may she too rest in peace,"
They chinked their glasses together, a bit too hard, causing some to slop onto Don. Olivia grinned, and the two drank deeply, remembering their loved ones.
As the night drew on, Olivia was curled up in a small ball, eyes closed, completely beat. Don watched her, and he couldn't help but think though she was about twenty six years older she still slept like she had when she was six. At midnight Don said softly, "Merry Christmas Liv,"
"It's Olivia to you,"
Don smiled, some things never change...and then he watched his girl sleep before he too slipped into darkness.