Donald Cragen had tried every baby-sitter he'd ever used, with absolutely no luck. He had forgotten that Jesse was out of preschool today. There was only one thing for it; he had to take him to work. He walked back to his son's bedroom.
"Jesse?" The little boy woke up and looked at his father.
"No school today." The little boy said informatively. His father nodded.
"No school today, but I need you to go to work with me."
The little boy got up, got dressed, and helped Cragen pack a bag for the day. Even though the boy was four years old, he had never been to his father's office before. His mother had taken care of him when he was a baby and since her death, Cragen had taken off work whenever Jesse needed him. Cragen started to pick up the bag, but Jesse took it from his father.
"I'm a big boy. I carry." Cragen smiled at his son's stubbornness. Since his wife had died when Jesse was a baby, the small boy had kept Cragen alive.
The morning went well. Jesse tried to build a skyscraper out of stuff around Cragen's office, nearly breaking everything in sight. He jumped up and down with hyperactivity until Cragen sat him down with a piece of paper and crayons to draw and signed his name when he was done. Cragen hung the picture up in his office and Jesse smiled.
The phone answered and Cragen picked it up. "What?" Jesse studied his father and answered his toy phone, "What?" Munch was standing at the door and laughed.
"Hi, Munch!" The little boy ran to hug the policeman. He'd met Munch that morning and had instantly been drawn to the cop.
"Do you need something?" Cragen asked.
"Fratelli needs you to go over something with him."
"Can't you do it?"
"I have to go pick Fin up at the airport."
"That's right, he's back today. All right, it will probably only take a few minutes. Jesse, you sit in my chair and stay there until I come back." The little boy nodded.
"Can I have some of my snack?" Cragen looked at the clock and nodded.
"Yeah. Just a little, we're going to eat lunch in a little while." The little boy looked in his bag to find his snacks and Cragen left.
He finished telling Fratelli how to do things and then he went back to his office. Jesse was gone.
"Oh, my God. Jesse! Jesse!" Fin and Munch came in the office.
"What's wrong, Captain?" Fin asked.
"Jesse's gone. I lost my son. Jesse!" Everyone looked all around the office for him, Munch even running upstairs to search the loft.
Elliot and Olivia came in the main doors laughing. "I forgot something, I'll be right back." Olivia turned around and walked back outside. When she came back in, a little boy was running away from Elliot and ran into her.
"Hey, where are you going? Where's your mommy and daddy?"
"Mommy's dead. I'm hiding from my Daddy."
"Well, my name's Olivia. What's your name?"
"Jesse." Olivia looked at Elliot, who nodded.
"Why don't you come with us?" She picked him up and carried him into the office.
"Jesse! Thank God! Are you all right?" Cragen had tears of worry in his eyes.
"I'm all right, Daddy. I was hiding. 'Livi' brought me back though." Olivia smiled at her new nickname and the picture Cragen made with his son.
"Thanks, Olivia. Thanks, Stabler."
"He ran away from me. 'Livi' caught him." Stabler said as she crossed her eyes at him.
"All right. I want you to go sit in the chair for ten minutes."
"Ten minutes." Cragen said as firmly as he would if it had been one of "his people" acting up instead of his child.
Fifteen minutes later, Jesse was looking at Cragen's baseball and threw it underhanded across the room. "Don't thrown the ball, Jesse." Jesse nodded, went to pick up the ball, and put it back on his father's desk.
"Daddy, play trucks." Cragen laughed and sat in the floor with his son, playing trucks, until it was time for lunch.
"Munch, can you do me a favor?" Cragen asked.
"Sure, Captain. What is it?"
"Can you stay here with Jesse for awhile? I have to go cancel lunch with Cabot and then go pick up lunch."
"Sure. Be glad to." Munch went into the office and watched Jesse play while Cragen went to the courthouse.
"Hey, Captain. We're doing pretty well in there; should have the verdict in a couple of days. The defense starts tomorrow." Alex smiled at him.
"That sounds great. Listen, I can't have lunch with you. Jesse's at work today."
"Oh, when am I going to meet him?" She'd heard a lot about Cragen's son, but never met him.
"Tonight for dinner?"
"Sounds great. I'll pick it up on my way."
"Are you sure? He's kind of picky; all he likes are milk products, chicken, bread, and apples."
"I'm sure out of that, I can find something we can get him to eat. Don't worry, I was his age once too."
"So was I and I never ate like that." Alex started to say something, but thought better of it. "I've got to get back. John's watching him and I still have to pick up lunch."
"All right. I'll see you later." They smiled at each other and he left as she went back to her office.
After lunch of chicken nuggets, French fries, and apple juice, Jesse sat in Cragen's lap and listened to the Captain read Green Eggs and Ham.
"Daddy, I'm seepy." The little boy yawned and stretched.
"Sure." Cragen took Jesse to the loft and the little boy climbed the stairs. He found one of the beds with a pillow and blanket and curled up to sleep with his arm around his teddy bear. Cragen watched him sleep for a little while and went back downstairs to check on his people and their cases.
After a two-hour nap, Jesse came running down the loft stairs with his teddy bear firmly held to him. Cragen picked him up and held him while Cragen discussed the cases some more and then they went back into his office where Jesse preceded to color on a case that Cragen had just finished reviewing and then climbed one of Cragen's bookshelves, much to the horror of his father.
"Jesse David, get down here right this instant." The boy giggled, but climbed back down.
At five, Cragen had to leave the office for a second, but felt confident that the boy couldn't get out of the office without being seen by the officers still in the squad room. When he came back, the little boy was gone again.
"Jesse, Daddy doesn't think it's funny anymore. Come out now." Cragen called for him out in the hall.
"Jesse, time to stop playing now." Olivia and Munch split and looked in different rooms for him, Olivia looked in the loft, Munch looked in the interrogation room.
Alex went into Cragen's office. She didn't see him, but she heard a soft little giggle come from behind his desk. She looked and saw Jesse hiding under the desk.
"You must be Jesse."
"What's your name?"
"Alex. Are you hiding from your daddy?" The little boy nodded. "Don't you think he's worried enough right now? Maybe we better go find him." The little boy shook his head. "I happen to know where some chocolate is. I also happen to know where some Cokes are. They just are waiting for a little boy to come get them. Anyone interested?" The little boy nodded and climbed out from behind the desk and put out his hands for her to pick him up. Cragen had come back into the squad room.
"Captain, it's all right. He was hiding behind your desk." Alex handed Jesse over to his father and he hugged his son.
Later that night, after a Disney movie, a grilled chicken and cheese sandwich, and the treats Alex had promised Jesse, the little boy fell asleep.
"That was great back there in the office. He never lets anyone else pick him up. He doesn't like many people. Munch, you, and Olivia were the only ones he didn't run from today. He's terrified of Fin for some reason." Alex smiled.
"Can I ask a question?"
"Did he ever know her?" Cragen immediately knew who she was referring to.
"He was just a baby when she died, barely over a year."
"Maybe that's why he feels so much at ease with Olivia and me. Doesn't explain John, but..."
"Because you're women?" She nodded. "Might be. Marge was blonde too. I guess to a four-year-old, you might seem alike."
"What about to a fifty-four year old?" She asked, her blue eyes dancing.
"I love you, Alex." He kissed her. "This has been one of the longest days in my life. I never realized how much harder it would be to have him at the office than at home."