DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The universal truths of literature: references to Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The Sum of Contradictions: 29 Presage
By beurre blanc


"I loved the character of Katharine – the way she saw the world, open to new experiences, a liberated woman in a cosseted era, how she grabbed her chances with both hands, the way she consumed life… It was so appealing." Alex tucked her hair behind her ear to prevent the breeze blowing it across her face again. She walked slowly, relishing the sensation of sand slipping between her bare toes.

"It's funny – I always identified with Hana. To me Katharine was almost fanciful. Too idealistic."

"Yes, but that's because the story is set after she has died. She is romanticized in his memory – he idealized her."

"That's exactly it. Katharine lives on as some romantic fiction is his mind, but Hana is real, she's solid, down-to-earth. She is a woman living and breathing, and doing her job. The little challenges she faces day to day – they're real, not some morphine-induced desert fantasy." Olivia stopped for a moment, and stared out at the waves. She shuffled the smooth stones in her hands briefly, before tossing them as far as she could out to sea.

"But Hana just withdraws from everything. She's so shell-shocked she just stops and refuses to go on. Look at her, look at her losses. Her father, her fiancé, her best friend… And so many patients, so many young soldiers she can help only by being there and holding their hands as they die. So she just withdraws from the reality of the war."

"The unreality," corrected Olivia.

"I guess so. But she's hiding. She has witnessed some truly awful things during the war, but instead of confronting her fears, she's running away from them, pretending they don't exist. Living – no hiding - in that villa is just a metaphor for all the things she won't confront. She lives in this pretty little bubble, this peaceful little sanctuary, completely – deliberately - ignoring the fact that the building around her is falling apart, is really just glorified, bombed-out rubble."

"I don't agree. I think you're being unfair on her, belittling her choices. She has taken a stand against the war and all the relentless horror of it - she has decided to stop the carousel, cut away the things she can't control, and focus on taking care of the one patient who would otherwise be forgotten. So she's doing her job, she's caring for him, and she's taking care of herself."

"She's running away." Alex would not be dissuaded.

"She's… surviving. She is doing what she has to, in order to survive. If she doesn't hide from it now, she'll never survive the war. On some level she knows she has to step back, to stop fighting and just let go… for her own sanity." Olivia looked down at her hands. "I admire that," she said softly.

"Yeah… maybe." Alex grinned, and bumped her shoulder against Olivia's. "But Kip is such a cliché, isn't he? You know, the romantic interest? It's just so obvious. As soon as he arrives at the villa to find her playing the piano, you just know that they'll end up together. It all seems so… contrived - so shallow. Like it's a relationship of convenience, just because there's no-one else."

"What about her patient? Isn't she in love with him?"

Alex shook her head. "She's in love with the idea of him…" She looked at Olivia, considering her next words carefully, "…and he's in love with the ideal of Katharine. But, you know, what I really respond to is that sense of the inevitable – the love that was predestined. No matter what the circumstances in each of their lives, her marriage, his nomadic solitude, no matter who might get hurt, or how badly it might end, they just cannot resist one another. Each is powerless to resist this unexpected, consuming, enduring love."

After such a robust discussion, Olivia's sudden silence took the attorney by surprise. Alex turned to look at her, questioningly, and found Olivia staring quietly out to sea, gently chewing her lower lip. She reached for the brunette's hand, interlacing their fingers. "What is it, Liv?" It came out as a hoarse whisper.

Olivia stared at her, expression alternately hopeful and scared. "A lot like us."

Alex could only nod, and step into Olivia's embrace, holding tightly as she exhaled. "Yeah…" she said, as she lost herself in Olivia's kiss. She pulled back to trace the fullness of the detective's lips, brief kisses, then opened her lips again to a questing tongue, reveling in the unique, intoxicating taste of her lover, and the freedom of physical expression that came with being so far from home. "Like us."

The End

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