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.
"I have to admit, this was one of your better ideas," Detective Olivia Benson said to Medical Examiner Melinda Warner, before returning her face to the padded headrest of the massage table and sighing deeply. The two women were enjoying a spa day and they'd started with sea-salt treatments, followed by massages. Next on the schedule were facials, then pedicures and manicures.
"What? You didn't want a day at a driving range and golf course?" Melinda had won her choice of gift certificates in a charity lottery two months earlier.
"I'm definitely not a golfer. You would have had to invite one of your other friends. One of those soccer moms I read about in magazines when I'm at the dentist's."
"Yeah, because I have so much in common with them."
Olivia chuckled. It was the curse of their business that friends outside of criminal law enforcement often found their idea of casual conversation hard to stomach. "Or you could have taken your husband."
"I went golfing with my husband once and the day almost ended in divorce. Some couples can play competitive sports together, but we're not in that category."
An hour later they were sitting with cucumber slices on their eyes, waiting for the manicurists to start their nail treatments and Melinda returned to the subject. "So if you had won the certificates, would you have chosen the spa day?"
"Casey made me promise to choose the baseball camp and to take her as my guest."
"She's a nice woman. You could do worse."
"You're not talking about baseball, are you?"
"You know I'm not. Olivia, I've watched you with the men you date you treat them like sex toys that happen to have bodies attached to them. The only time I've seen you completely emotionally engaged was with "
"Melinda, don't go there."
"Somebody has to talk to you about it and Elliot says you almost bit off his head when he tried."
Olivia tried to frown but the face mask kept her skin in a smooth prison of drying muck. "You two should not be talking about me."
Warner ignored her. "So Cabot didn't call you when she came back from witness protection and you've decided not to forgive her. That doesn't mean you should close yourself off from romantic relationships. Novak is nice and she'd transfer out of SVU for you. She's an emotionally generous soul."
"She prefers men, doesn't she?"
"If she does, she hides it well around you."
"Maybe she has a girl crush," Olivia found her equilibrium returning, since they had moved on from discussing the return of Alex Cabot. Casey was a safe subject. "In any event, I don't, can't, think of her in that way and it wouldn't be fair for me to involve her in my messed up emotional life."
"Have you thought about dealing with the stuff that makes it messed up?"
Before Olivia could answer, the estheticians walked into the room to cheerfully remove their face masks, give them facial massages and apply moisturizer, before serving them ice cold flutes of champagne. From Melinda's point of view, it seemed to take ages which, she assumed, was not the right response to have to something that was intended to make one relax. When the two statuesque estheticians finally left, Olivia asked. "Is it just me, or do they remind you of the Fembots from Austin Powers?"
Melinda laughed. "I know they were giving me a complex about the size of my breasts."
"No comment, since I'm not supposed to notice that sort of thing in colleagues and friends, but if I were to comment, it would be to tell you that you have nothing to worry about."
Melinda rolled her eyes. "You wouldn't understand. Full-breasted women never do. Anyway, stop changing the subject. Have you considered dealing with the matter of the blonde-who-shall-not-be-named?"
Olivia's renewed attempt at frowning was successful. "I can't put myself through that again."
"Have you at least spoken to her?"
"We bumped into each other outside Novak's office a few weeks ago."
"I was polite."
"Meaning, she tried to talk to you and you blew her off."
"What do you expect, Melinda? After everything we went through, after having her die under my hands and then come back to life; after looking at her the night she was taken away and knowing she felt as though her heart was being torn out, just as I did." She took a shaky breath. "After spending time together when she came to testify and than saying good-bye again after all that, she came home and didn't even call? For months? I can't justify or forgive that and I won't open myself to feeling that way again."
"Do you still love her?"
"We were never lovers."
"That's not what I asked.
"I don't know." She lied. "I'm numb now and that's better than what I was for the first year after she left. It's better than the way I was when I found out she was back."
"Maybe she had her reasons, Olivia. It's all over Hogan Place that you and Casey are close."
"You spend a lot of time together."
"SVU causes that, it's not personal. Casey's like a a baby sister. It's like accusing me of sleeping with Elliot. Eww!"
"Olivia Benson, have you seen that man's ass in a pair of jeans?"
"I've seen that man's ass in jeans, a suit, chinos, shorts, a swimsuit and in his underwear. I understand what you mean, esthetically, but the idea is still eww."
"Now I know you're a lesbian," Melinda replied, sipping her champagne.
"Am I? I've only ever loved " Olivia stopped speaking and visibly cringed. She lifted her glass to her suddenly-dry lips.
"I know. But the fact that from the time you fell for her, you haven't been able to have a relationship with another man, or another woman for that matter, should tell you something."
"Yes, it tells me that I'm an emotional cripple."
"To what? A memory of a relationship that never was?"
"Or a woman whose calls you won't take?"
Again their conversation was interrupted, this time by the women who came in to start their pedicures. From that time on, they had no opportunity to talk in private, even in the changing rooms following their last treatment.
As they were about the exit the lobby of the spa, Melinda asked again, "So, Elliot was right: you've refused to accept Alex's calls."
"She has nothing to say that I want to hear."
"Why are you so afraid?"
Olivia paused with her hand on the door. "Because the only thing keeping me together, the best insulation I have against my feelings for her, is the distance I keep between us."
As they stepped out into the warm summer afternoon, Melinda asked, "Is it that important to keep your feelings in check?"
A day of relaxation, gourmet snacks, stress-reduction treatments, mineralized water and Champagne combined to break down Olivia's barriers and she replied honestly, "Yes. It's hard enough to know that nothing will come of the way I feel. I couldn't handle knowing that she understood how I felt and still wanted nothing to come of it."
"So not knowing how she feels is better?"
"Safer," Olivia corrected, with a rueful smile. She stepped closer and the two women hugged each other tightly. "Thanks for today, Melinda. I had a great time."
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