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.
"Are you enjoying private practice?" Olivia Benson looked curiously at Serena Southerlyn, former ADA, who was tasting a freshly-opened bottle of pinot gris. She nodded at the sommelier and he poured a glass for each of the women before placing the bottle in a silver bucket on their table and withdrawing politely.
Serena smiled at the detective, because there was a concerned frown on Olivia's face. She'd been asked that question dozens of times, but seldom with such genuine care about what her answer might be.
"I didn't at first. My pride was hurt and I resented taking a career path that was not of my choosing. But I've looked at the big picture and I like it. The dinosaurs in my office are less overt, my opponents are often more deserving of my respect and the money is exponentially better. Not to mention it's the first thing I've done that my parents actually approve of."
"Ivy League degrees notwithstanding?"
"I was very naughty in college. Kept on dating girls."
Olivia sipped the wine. It was delicious. "There's a lot to be said for knowing what you want early on and going for it." She held up her glass. "Cheers. Here's to positive changes of direction."
"Cheers." Serena looked thoughtful. "Are we talking about my career or your dating girls?" It was their second bottle of wine and they'd had a couple of cocktails before dinner. She decided that Benson was mellow enough to handle some gentle probing.
Olivia grimaced. "I don't date girls. I've slept with them, but I haven't dated them. Then again, I haven't dated boys recently, either."
"Why? And don't tell me that Cragen keeps you too busy, or that you haven't been asked." Her gaze trailed meaningfully over Olivia's upper body, revealed by a white sweater that followed every soft curve and taut line, before slipping under the low-slung waistband of her black trousers.
"Thanks, but I haven't been asked. Not by the right person people," she corrected quickly.
Her slip added weight to something Serena had long suspected. "How is ADA Cabot?"
"Not you, too."
"Has somebody else noticed the vibe between the two of you?"
"Vibe? Is that a legal term?" Olivia teased, but the tips of her ears felt warm and she hoped Serena didn't notice that she'd struck a nerve.
"Your honor, Detective Benson's answer is non-responsive. Please direct the witness to answer the question." The blond lawyer's bright blue eyes danced with mischief.
"Paz. Paz likes to give me a hard time about Alex, but I tell her what I'll tell you: we're friends."
Serena frowned. "So, your no-dating thing, I take it that it doesn't cover time spent with Cabot outside the office?"
"They're not dates," Olivia said with exaggerated patience.
"The times we hang out."
"Where does this hanging out occur?"
"We go running, I taught her rock climbing, she taught me to play squash "
"Anything else indoors?"
"Well we have to eat when we leave the club and when we do day-trips to climbing spots."
"And you've never "
"No! We work together and we're friends."
"How often do you see her outside of work?"
"I don't know, maybe twice a week, three times, tops."
"How often do you share meals and do those occasions coincide with times when you are both sweaty and wearing skimpy outfits?"
"I told you, we usually go out to dinner after we play squash, but it's not We don't share a meal after we run, because we run before work."
"How often do you see your other friends outside of work: Elliot, Toni, me?" Toni was a former cop who was working her way through the ranks of the DA's office. Olivia had first met her at the academy and they'd been friends since then.
"Once, twice a month," Olivia replied reluctantly. "But that's only because we don't enjoy the same pastimes."
"Like eating?" Serena smiled widely.
"You're deliberately misrepresenting the situation. Alex and I are activity buddies."
"Ok, then answer a few more questions for me. And I expect complete candor."
Olivia looked suspicious. "I'm not sure "
"C'mon Liv, answer the questions. The truth will set you free."
"Whatever," Olivia muttered.
"I'll take that as a yes. First question: is she a natural blond?"
"Of course "
Olivia blushed. "Her eyebrows are blond," she explained. "She has them darkened."
And I'm sure you never had a quick look at any of the other hair on her body during all those visits to the locker room. Serena didn't express her skeptical opinion of how Olivia came by her knowledge, but her expression didn't exactly hide it. Olivia scowled.
"Second question: what color are her nipples?"
"Pink, but darker than " Olivia caught herself and both the blush and the scowl deepened. "This is silly."
"Final question: as you say good-bye and go your separate ways after your activities, have you ever watched those long legs walk away from you and wondered what they'd feel like draped over your shoulders?"
"There's no way I'm going to answer that!" Olivia had once been caught in a similar trap by Elena Paz and she refused to fall for it a second time.
"You don't have to, because you'd have had no problem answering if the answer had been 'no'."
Olivia smiled ruefully and shook her head. "It was a bit like the question 'When did you stop beating your wife?', wasn't it?"
Serena laughed. "Not really, because there actually was a way to give a non-incriminating answer to my question if you hadn't been guilty!"
Olivia sipped her wine, wondering why there were so many lawyers in her life when they could be so damn annoying. "Is there a point to this conversation?"
"I needed to clarify your relationship with Alex Cabot."
"And what, O Wise One, is my relationship with Alex Cabot?"
"You're dating." She lifted the bottle out of the linen-wrapped bucket. "More wine?"
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