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.
"Alex, I got your message and I was downtown, so I decided to drop in. You said you had some news?'
"Uncle Bill! Come it. I just got a six-pack of Perrier from the deli. Arthur lets me keep it in his fridge. Do you want one?"
"Thank you. I've just been sitting on a judicial review board. Hearing accusations of misconduct leveled against my brethren is thirsty work." He looked at her salad. "I was going to invite you to lunch."
"Sorry, I have a motion hearing in two hours and one of my detectives will be here in the next thirty minutes to review some evidence that might be pertinent." They opened their bottles of water and sat next to each other on the sofa that graced the far wall of Alex's office.
"Not Olivia, I presume."
"No, she's in the Major Case Squad now and that's as far away as they could put her from the Bureau Chief of the White Collar Crime Division. Arthur can barely handle the thought of a lesbian as Bureau Chief, the last thing he wants is any appearance of impropriety because some piece of evidence the lesbian uses in court was obtained by her partner."
"For ethical reasons, I don't think I'd be happy to see any couple working on a case as ADA and detective, so I can't imagine the situation is more attractive to a judge or less politically fraught for a DA when one includes the homosexual element that the media love to focus on. Although, they've more or less left you alone, haven't they? Which I find surprising."
"We're boring. Olivia's stress is lowered by the fact that I understand what she sees at work. I have few controversial cases and I let my team take the spotlight. My personal life is that of a happily married lawyer who'd rather have dinner at home than at a trendy restaurant."
"Although you did make the society pages last month," he reminded her.
"It was a fundraiser for one of Mom's favorite charities. The story focused on what we were wearing and didn't even mention my job."
"While we're on the subject of your job, are you enjoying your promotion?"
"It wasn't worth getting shot and missing the last few months of my mother's life for," she said bluntly. "It also wasn't worth losing two years with Olivia for, but it feels good to be able to influence the direction of so many projects and still be home in time for dinner."
William Harriman chuckled. "I never pictured you as the domesticated type, Alex. You always seemed too driven."
"I'm not sure Olivia would disagree about my being driven, even now, but she says that dying seems to have given me a new perspective on living."
"I honestly believe that to be a positive thing where you're concerned. I like the changes I've noticed in you and you look fantastic."
"Thanks. Branch told me I've become more southern in my outlook. I know he meant it as a compliment, but it is certainly not my ambition to turn into a female version of him."
The very idea made Harriman laugh. "Before we forget, there was something you wanted to tell me."
Alex smiled widely. "I just wanted you to know that in just over five months you're going to be a great-uncle."
"Alex, that's fantastic news! Congratulations." He reached over and hugged his niece, liking the healthy flush that colored her cheeks and the happiness that radiated from her.
"Thank you. We're very excited. Mom always said that I never slept through the night until I was four years old, so I hope that wasn't genetic. But considering I never really wanted a child until recently, I have few reservations that aren't completely practical."
"I'm not surprised that you're focusing on the practical. You always have been level-headed even though you have also always tended towards needing to control every aspect of a situation that you thought was within your power to control. I think that's why Olivia has been so good for you: since you've been together, you don't seem quite as determined to control all the variables."
"I'll tell her you said so. Last night she powered off the modem because I was surfing university sites."
"Are you thinking of going back " Realization dawned. "For the baby?"
Alex had the grace to laugh at herself. "Let's just say that I'm a work in progress when it comes to not controlling all the variables."
"Are you going to find out the sex of the baby?"
"We already have. It's a boy."
"Yet another variable, present and accounted for."
"It's not that uncommon! I'm thirty-six, that's considered high-risk for a first child, even though it's lower than Olivia's genetic risk would have been. So we've had every possible test done."
"And everything is fine?"
"Yes. So far, everything is going according to plan."
"And morning sickness isn't affecting your life and your work? I remember your aunt had a terrible time with Louise, but not much of a problem with Jennifer or Richard."
Alex looked startled.
"Why do you look surprised? I might not have given birth, but I was very much a presence in your cousins' lives from infancy, as well doing as much as I could when Karen was pregnant."
"No, it's not that." She grinned. "Morning sickness hasn't bothered me that much, but for the better part of two months it made Olivia's life absolute hell."
"Olivia? I thought you said that genetic "
"Olivia's pregnant, but the baby's genetically mine." She smiled. "God, just saying that makes me feel light-headed."
"Modern science " Harriman muttered, looking nonplussed. "Did you need a sperm donor?"
"Yes, one of our closest friends donated. He's got kids of his own and has agreed to be no more than a surrogate uncle which was a huge breakthrough for him."
"Alex, what if he changes his mind? Legally, wouldn't you two have been better off with a stranger?"
"Legally, maybe. Emotionally, this felt right." She put a reassuring hand on her uncle's arm. "Uncle Bill, don't worry. We've taken every possible legal precaution and this baby is ours, mine and Liv's. Nobody who sees our family as it is, with just the two of us and a bump that's barely there, could doubt how strong the love is that we feel, or think they could love that baby more than the woman who's carrying him. To try to destroy that would require a depth of hatred of which I don't think he's capable."
Harriman studied her thoughtfully for a few minutes then he smiled. "I don't imagine that that's a variable you would have been content to let go." Then he patted her knee and stood up. "I'd better leave you to have your lunch. But Karen and I want to have you over for dinner, if not next week, then the week after."
"Thank you. I'll check with Olivia to see what her schedule is like. Her hours are irregular."
"Do you know that your whole face changes when you talk about her? It's nice that you're still so much in love."
Alex stood and put a hand on her stomach, as though to calm butterflies. "It amazes me to feel this way and to know that she does, too I hope it always will."
"Here's hoping that the mood swings don't drive you both insane, then."
Alex shrugged. "We fight sometimes, huge shouting matches, but it's always honest and cathartic and there are never any lingering bad feelings. I'm anticipating more of those in the coming months, but it's not going to change a love that's survived what ours has."
"Good. You deserve happiness and love, Alex. You're beautiful and intelligent and you were born into a comfortable life, but you've worked harder than most people of any background for what you've achieved professionally. And you've overcome your own personal tragedies without ever being bowed by them. I wish my sister could have been here to see you, settled down and having a baby."
The speech, coming as it had from a habitually undemonstrative man, moved Alex deeply, even before he'd reminded Alex of the loss of her parents, especially her mother, that somehow seemed more acute since Olivia's pregnancy had been confirmed. "Me, too, Uncle Bill. And thank you. You've always had complete faith in me and I'm not sure I tell you often enough how much that means."
They hugged each other tightly. "Thanks for the drink," he said, holding up the half-empty bottle of Perrier in a brief salute, before making his way to the door.
"Oh, Uncle Bill, I almost forgot something Olivia insisted that I ask, even though I don't think you'll mind."
Harriman looked surprised. "What is it?"
"We're thinking of naming him William "
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