DISCLAIMER: Most characters are not mine, but I'm using them for entertainment and not for profit. The story is my own.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The “Drinks” series of short pieces: limited to fewer than three full pages, written primarily as fragments of conversations, each featuring at least one drink. The stories are completely unrelated, unless otherwise stated and don’t fit in any particular timeline. They also may be unrelated to canon. I just try to keep the characterization true. I hope I’ve succeeded in that.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
"Thanks for dinner, Uncle Bill." Alexandra Cabot smiled at one of her favorite men. "I have to say I hadn't realized your club had started to admit women," she teased. They were sitting in a room that probably had not changed much since George Washington had taken his oath as President.
"Only as guests," he said, hiding a smile, which he allowed to spread across his face when his niece scowled in response to his mock explanation. "Kidding!"
Alex glared at him and picked up her brandy snifter, warming the amber liquid in her hands. In truth, she disliked the taste of Cognac, but she'd already consumed the unadulterated slime people referred to as oysters and ignored the blood on her plate as she'd managed to down almost half of a medium-rare porterhouse, so she'd be damned if she'd show any sign of revulsion at what was surely the least offensive part of the evening. She would play with the old boys in their club and show them she could out-boy them, but Judge William Harriman was not going to be allowed to get away with making jokes at the expense of her feminism. "Right," she replied mildly. "I'd forgotten that the club had crossed the threshold into the nineteenth century."
Harriman roared with laughter. "You remind me so much of your mother."
Alex raised her eyebrows and smirked. She was as different from her mother as it was possible to be. "How so? My legal career? My regular appearance in the society pages? My determination to find a suitable husband?"
"Your fire, your idealism and the fact that you have a romantic streak a mile wide."
She didn't try to hide her skepticism. "Why do you think I'm a romantic? Mother defied all your Boston traditions and married for love. She was well educated and had a head for business, yet she devoted all her energy to the foundation, to supporting Daddy and to making sure I lived up to my potential. All in all, she was the personification of idealistic romanticism. I, on the other hand, am married to a job that makes most people squirm, I have no intention of looking for Prince Charming and no maternal instinct whatsoever!"
"I'll allow that your job is one of the less glamorous in our profession and accept that you have no desire to procreate, but you are most definitely a romantic."
"You think I'm secretly on the hunt for Prince Charming?"
Harriman sipped his drink and looked thoughtfully at his niece. "The very fact that you do what you do, and have done so for this long, is almost literally quixotic, wouldn't you agree?"
Alex opened her mouth and closed it again, because every retort that sprang to her mind lacked the respect that she'd been taught to show to the elders in her family. It didn't help that her uncle's eyes crinkled in the corners with carefully concealed amusement. She loved him but she resented the fact that he still had the ability to make her feel like an awkward, impotent pre-adolescent. "I've doubled the conviction rate for sex crimes during my two-year tenure in the division, so I'd hardly consider that to be tilting at windmills."
"And you'll keep at it, even though you know that it's almost impossible to get that rate up to one in five. That's not a criticism, Alex, it's acknowledgement of a noble pursuit: justice for the most vulnerable." His voice was gentle; his tone conciliatory.
She wasn't completely mollified. "We'll agree to differ on whether my dedication to my current role is quixotic."
"And you have found your grand romantic passion, haven't you?"
"What?" Please tell me he hasn't sent his morning suit to be pressed after hearing about my date with Trevor Langan through the legal grapevine. She was confident that there was no way he could suspect where her heart really lay.
"Detective Olivia Benson."
Alex paled and her hand shook as she put her glass carefully down on the side table. "Olivia Benson and I are friends. I admire her, but I think she'd be appalled at what you're suggesting."
"You invited her to Thanksgiving dinner," he pointed out.
"She has no immediate family and she was planning to work through the holiday. It seemed wrong. But I've been bringing friends home for Thanksgiving since my first year in boarding school, so I don't see why you think this year's invitation carried any special significance."
"I saw you together, Alex, and I heard your voice change as you talked about her when you told your aunt of the invitation. And it makes sense: she's beautiful, strong, protective, passionate about rescuing the imperiled and seeking justice for the wronged just as you are."
The blood slowly seeped back into Alex's face, staining it with a helpless blush that embarrassed her further. "What do you mean you saw us together? There's never been anything improper about my behavior towards Olivia or vice versa."
"You're right. But there's a gentleness in the way you look at her when you're not disagreeing on a point of principle. And there's a fire between you when you are disagreeing that speaks of suppressed emotion. Yet, for the most part, you treat each other with a solicitousness that borders on chivalry."
"Uncle Bill, any hint of a se romantic relationship between me and Olivia Benson, could damage, or end, our careers."
"I know. Which is why you're so careful, so protective of her. Even if you believe that what you need to protect her from is the way you feel."
Alex picked up her drink and took an inappropriate gulp, feeling the liquor burning its way down her throat. She wanted to deny everything, but her uncle's warm, understanding gaze made it impossible. To make matters worse, he neither judged, nor offered advice. There was no remedy for the situation she found herself in and he didn't pretend otherwise. Alex lifted her eyes to his. "Do you think she knows?"
"That you're in love with her?" He shrugged. "Does it matter?"
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