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Infamy Part 2

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Infamy Part 2
Kalinda/Alicia
Summary: End of episode. Kalinda and Alicia watch Duke’s news cast. Who is the closeted lesbian at Lockhart/Gardner? “It’s you, isn’t it?” “Depends on the woman.” “And now?” “Yep.” Alicia tells Kalinda about her night with Grace and asks her to tell the truth at Peter’s trial.

 

Alicia could finally take a breath as she watched Tim and his daughter hugging for the first time in two years. It was exactly what she wanted. She wanted the world to see that the man they had been following, listening to, believing was a liar. She wanted someone to finally slander Duke’s name just like he ruined a young mother’s life. The world needed to see that the baby that had been taken was not murdered by her mother. She was not buried in a hole somewhere. She was alive and in her father’s arms. None of that was said in the news report. No one would ever really know the pain and damage a man who thought he had the right to judge and harass a mother that was grieving the lose of her baby. No one would ever understand the fight Tim had to take on in order to finally get his daughter back. It was only a five minute news report. A simple update that the girl had been located and reunited with her father. She had seen the real reunion three hours before in their office. She remembered the look on his face the first time he saw his little girl coming off the elevator with a female social worker. It was pure relief. It was as if the sun had risen again after years of darkness. Alicia had excused herself to her office and cried. But something about it being broadcasted live for the world to see made it cement in her heart. It made her heart warm and a small smile to appear on her face. Biting her lip as a few tears threatened to fall. After almost a year at Lockhart/ Gardner she finally felt like she’d done something good. She’d finally helped someone.

Newscaster:
Neighbors credit publicity from the
recent trial as the reason for
calling the police. Jamie Willen’s
picture had appeared in local news
reports over the last few weeks…

Kalinda watched the exchange as it played out on the television and something in her chest warmed. She had stood with Alicia by the elevator doors while Tim hugged his daughter for the first time in since the morning she’d been taken. If anyone had looked at her, studied her face; they wouldn’t see anything. She had a poker face the pros would worship her for. On the inside, her heart was melting. Her throat was burning from the tears that begged to fall. Something about it reminded her of her father. How happy she was whenever he came home from work. How excited she was when he would spend the day with just her. It made her miss him. It made her wish she had treasured her time with him when she still had it. The only thing that pulled her from her thoughts, kept her from allowing the tears to fall, was Alicia’s hand brushing against her own before the clearly emotional attorney excused herself. She would have gone after her, but the moment Kalinda turned to leave, Tim wanted to thank her and those small little words nearly broke her. Emotionally, she knew she couldn’t help her friend even if she made Alicia talk to her. She was drained with nothing left to give. On a typical day, she’d be satisfied with what she’s done, the results she received. She would be proud that she won another case for her client. But today was a little different. She’d only gotten a few hours of sleep worrying about Grace and Alicia. She tossed and turned waiting for the woman to call her, text her, ask her to come over and make everything quiet for a little while. When she had managed to fall asleep, she’d wake up in a blind panic trying to grab her phone. Alicia never called. She never received another message until that morning asking her to be gentle when she picked Grace up that afternoon. No explanation. No other requests. She couldn’t eat that morning because her stomach was tied up in knots. Rejecting everything she even thought about trying. And the disgustingly sweet popcorn she was trying to eat was causing her almost empty stomach to cramp. “This stuff is awful,” she mumbled, dropping the rest of the popcorn in her sticky hand back in the bucket and sitting it on the table. She couldn’t force herself to eat anymore. And being sick in front of Alicia wasn’t an option. “Too sweet.” Kalinda grabbed her purse, riffled through it for a moment before finding the hand wipes she kept handy for obvious reasons.

Alicia hadn’t wanted to eat the tin of popcorn David Lee gave her. She hated popcorn, hated anything that could get stuck in her teeth. And even more so, she didn’t really care for David much either. But she hadn’t eaten anything since she tried to eat toast with her kids that morning. She could barely keep what few bites she did get down. She was too busy watching Grace and making sure Zach didn’t notice she was watching her. She was quieter than her normally sunshine girl she usually was. She didn’t smile as she ate her pancakes, something Alicia made on purpose because it was her favorite. Hoping against hope that it would make her smile just a little. The dark circles were gone from around her eyes. She was no longer biting her nails or chewing her lip, but there was a spark missing in her little girl’s eyes that she wanted back. She didn’t talk about her soccer game on Saturday. She didn’t talk about sleeping at Shannon’s over the weekend. She didn’t say anything until Zach was dragging her out the door. She could only pray that her little girl would be able to get through half the school day without dozing off in any classes after she’d held her all night. Although Grace had slept through the night, Alicia hadn’t slept but off and on for a few hours. Every time her daughter flinched or moved an inch, she was awake again, pulling her closer and stroking her back. When she did finally fall asleep around three, she had the most horrible nightmares. She didn’t complain. Didn’t tell anyone, including Kalinda how awful her night truly was. She just continued drowning her system in coffee through out the day. She just needed to stay awake long enough to finish out the day. Well, that’s what she thought when Kalinda knocked on her office door offering beer and company. She couldn’t say no after the night she’d had, nor would she want to. “It’s terrible,” she muttered, tossing another few pieces in her mouth., wishing it was anything else she was eating. “And yet, I can’t stop eating it.” She glanced around the table for a second before tapping Kalinda’s knee with her knuckles. Refusing to even risk getting the sticky sugar on the woman’s nylons. “Can you hand me the remote?” She watched Kalinda reach for first her beer than the remote. As Alicia was taking it, her fingers lingered over the young woman’s a little too long. Something that had been happening more and more the longer they knew each other, the more time they spent together. The more late nights she worked, the more clients and defendants she questioned; Kalinda was usually there. The more the investigator waited for her to leave work at night before leaving herself, the more Alicia came to depend on her. The more she came to her apartment, spending time with her kids, sleeping in her bed, the more Alicia trusted her. And along with making a decision about Peter’s trial while Grace slept soundly in her arms; she’d made a decision about Kalinda as well. She just wasn’t ready to tell the young woman about it yet. Alicia glanced away slowly, catching Kalinda’s smirk before settling on Duke’s broadcast. “He’s gonna be insufferable, isn’t he?” she asked, throwing the remote back on the table.

Kalinda had noticed the slight changes in Alicia’s demeanor, stares, and slight touches. She noticed the stares first. Noticed that if she wasn’t sitting next to her in the morning meetings, Alicia would stare at her. Not quick glances to catch her reaction to something, intense gazes as if she were trying to see into her soul. She could feel her eyes burning into her skin. She could feel the energy in the room changing when Alicia’s eyes locked on her instead of paying attention to Diane’s daily announcements. Kalinda would normally watch her out of the corner of her eyes and smirk when she’d finally turn her head and Alicia would suddenly look away. She could see the blush traveling up her neck and into her cheeks. She could almost hear her from across the table clearing her throat. She glanced at the screen with a slight smirk, but couldn’t help focusing on Alicia’s touch. It didn’t matter what was going on in the magical picture box, half the stuff that was coming out of his mouth was a flat out lie and the other was fabricated truths he swirled into something they weren’t to make good news. Kalinda didn’t understand why Alicia had changed the channel in the first place. Hadn’t they had enough of the loud mouth, misogynistic bastard for one day? “Yep,” she whispered, kicking her barefeet up on the table. She noticed Alicia watching, but chose to say nothing; waiting for the older woman to act first. Waiting for her to say what she’d been wanting to say for weeks. “Just another asshole.”

Duke (On Screen):
Not a bad day for justice. Duke
Roscoe struck another blow for our
precious freedoms.

Kalinda wasn’t listening to the man that had caused an innocent woman to kill herself without an ounce of remorse. She was done, the case was closed, and she never wanted to hear his voice again. She hoped the firm would never take on another case with a television personality involved. It was too much publicity for her comfort level. And she knew nothing bothered Alicia more than having the media talking about her, having someone that wasn’t in her home or inner circle making comments for the world to see and hear. “I wanted to see you last night,” she whispered, not sure where the confession came from, but seeing the smile on the older woman’s face was enough for her not to regret it; to not want to take it back. “Just wanted you to know that,” she continued as Alicia’s eyes looked everywhere but at her own. She had been thinking about the attorney all night. She tried watching television, she tried reading, doing paperwork, anything to stop her from having Alicia’s face in her mind. Instead of responding to the comment, she watched Alicia throw the tin of popcorn in the trash, making a face as she tried to wipe the sticky sugar off on her pant leg. Her fingers were trembling with the confession lingering in the air. With little movement needed, Kalinda pulled the packet of wipes from her bag, passing it to the blushing woman and almost blushing herself as their fingers touched again. She felt a gentle shock run through her fingers as Alicia’s warm fingers wrapped around hers for a moment. They lingered longer. The older woman’s thumb slowly brushed over her knuckles before she muttered a ‘thank you’ and pulled away. Alicia’s touch was the second thing she noticed had changed. The woman had once pulled away from the most innocent touches. She had rather slide something across the table, than risk someone touching her. She would use the stairs if there were more than two people on the elevator. For Kalinda, it had changed rapidly. Over the last few weeks, Alicia had found every reason to touch her and for those moments to linger. Brushing past her even when there was no need, standing closer when they were alone, even brushing a few strands of hair from her face on occasion. Kalinda allowed them, letting Alicia test boundaries, but never saying anything. On occasion when she would sneak into the woman’s apartment in the middle of the night, she would find the attorney sleeping on the floor next to the couch. On more than one occasion, the woman would wake up from a nightmare, shaking and the investigator never hesitated to curl up with her on the couch. Holding her until the memories faded. Then Alicia invited her into her bed, not the couch, her bed. The first few nights, Kalinda slept soundly for the first time in ten years. She could feel the woman’s warmth against her face as she would fall asleep. Sometimes the older woman would reach for her in the middle of the night, pulling her closer. Needing the contact just as much as Kalinda did. Alicia had wanted to be close to someone. To have someone to reach for when the nightmares and panic were too much for her to bare on her own. She would whisper in her ear and stroke her back until her breathing would even out. She’d hold her hand until she fell asleep and even then, Alicia refused to let go. “I miss our sleepover.” They had only stopped because Grace started having a hard time sleeping alone. That’s when Kalinda started randomly sneaking in and sleeping on the couch. “Was Grace all right after I dropped her off?”

Duke (On Screen):
Now before we move on from this
sordid episode, there is a bit of
unfinished business to deal with.
The promised secrets.

It was a lot of information of Alicia to process in the moment. She wanted to focus on the confession that left her lips. She had missed Kalinda more than she would ever be able to express. She missed the soft touches in the mornings to wake her up, the soft calming whispers in her ear when she refused. She was also trying to process the question that had been asked of her and Duke’s show still happening in the back ground. She heard the man say the words, saw them as the captions appeared at the bottom of the screen. Alicia watched Kalinda not react. As if she were so focused on something else going on in her head that the words hadn’t sunk in. The woman just stared at the screen in front of them, refusing to look in her direction. She could barely tell if she was blinking automatically or if she was having to force herself. She could see Kalinda’s jaw tense, the knuckles on her left hand turning almost white from its grip. Alicia had known the ‘secrets’ were coming. Most of them, she knew wouldn’t be true or would only be half truths. “I wanted to text you a million times last night to come over.” It didn’t matter what the secrets were that were about to be revealed. She an idea of what the big announcement was about to be, but she didn’t care. Alicia didn’t care about anyone else. Unless the words came from the investigator herself, she had no reason to believe them. “Something’s happening between us; I know you can feel it, too.” Kalinda had never answered the question she asked so many weeks ago, but that didn’t mean Alicia didn’t already know the answer. She knew a lot more about the young woman than even the investigator gave her credit for. She watched the investigator take a slow shaky breath in through her nose and release it slowly past her lips. “Whatever he says doesn’t matter,” she whispered a little softer. The closer Duke got to revealing her secret, the tenser the young woman’s body became. The tighter her jaw clench until she could see her grinding her back teeth. The woman had pulled her legs from the table, but not crossing them like she normally would. Her foot started pouncing on the floor. A tick Alicia had noticed occurred the more nervous the woman became. She knew Kalinda was hiding things and no longer took it personally when she asked a question and it was ignored. She didn’t need to know everything about the woman sitting next to her and she didn’t have to know all her secrets to want her privacy protected. She didn’t want a misogynistic man talking about her only friend as if her sexuality was the only thing that mattered. That the mistakes or circumstances of her past should be brought to the public light. Alicia knew what that was like. She didn’t stop herself from covering Kalinda’s hand with her own. Running her fingers over the knuckles until they started to relax. “Grace couldn’t stop talking about how much fun she had. It’s the first time I think she’s really been happy in months.” Alicia watched the muscles in Kalinda’s jaw relax as she slipped her fingers between the investigator’s. Squeezing her hand as the woman’s eyes moved to hers for a moment, only to look away again as the broad cast continued. “I miss you being there when I wake up.”

Duke (On Screen):
Jason Michaels in acquisitions.
And last but not least, who is the
closeted lesbian working at the
firm? None other than Diane Lockhart.

Alicia watched Kalinda’s body visibly relax. The tension in her shoulders and jaw disappeared. Her knee continued to bounce, slowing only slightly when the man finally disappeared from the screen. Her brow relaxed and the blush vanished from her cheeks. The emotional pain behind her eyes started to fade away, but she could still see the sadness. She could still see the forced facade as she tried to smile through Alicia’s knowing stares. She could see the woman trying to make herself laugh as they heard Diane’s from down the hall. It was probably the most ridiculously loud laughs she ever heard come from her seemingly uptight boss’ office. But the unexpected noise caused Kalinda to flinch. “Jesus, it wasn’t that funny,” she mumbled as the woman’s laughter continued for almost a full minute. Alicia didn’t find it funny at all and by the way the investigator started biting her nails told her she didn’t either. The slight shifting of her eyes told her the woman’s anxiety was starting to ravage her brain. She had pulled her hand from Alicia’s as Duke told the big secret, and tried busying herself with the wrapper around her beer. Biting her lip and swallowing hard trying to avoid the tears from falling. It angered the attorney more than she would ever admit out loud. The thought that a tiny man with a big mouth could effect the woman that stood like a thousand year old pillar, made thoughts pop in her head that she never thought possible. She didn’t want Duke prosecutor, she didn’t want him put in prison for the hurt and pain he’d caused. She wanted him out of the game all together. Alicia turned the channel to a Jazz station they usually listened to when they worked late. Hoping the familiarity would calm the woman’s racing brain. She leaned on the table, laying her hand palm side up and tried to catch Kalinda’s glances. She didn’t have to ask the question, but the silence that had settled between them couldn’t be any better. She would rather get a ‘fuck you’ then nervous glances and Kalinda jerking away the rest of the night. “It’s you, isn’t it?” she whispered the question, knowing no one else had stayed after the case was closed. But also knowing if she spoke too loud or moved too quickly Kalinda would shut down and refuse to talk. She’d learned over the last year how to read the woman, learned what she liked and didn’t. When to push and when to let it go until another time. She payed attention to how Kalinda reacted to certain questions and usually found a way to ask again in a softer way. And eventually, she’d usually give an answer.

Kalinda shrugged, mostly because she couldn’t think of anything else to do. Her thoughts were moving through her brain so quickly she had a hard time grabbing one and focusing. Her heart was beating so hard she swore Alicia could hear it. Her stomach was tossing and turning as the panic began to rise and fall inside her chest. She wanted everything to be quiet for just a minute. She wanted shut everything out and just breath. She didn’t appreciate her personal information potentially leaking to someone like Duke Roscoe. She didn’t want the world to know who she preferred in her bed and who she didn’t or why. She was terrified he knew more than he was telling in the short episode. Fearful eventually something would finally slip through the cracks. She had hidden things from Alicia for reasons only she would ever understand. She experienced things and saw things that no woman ever should. She wasn’t ready to tell the woman she had admired from afar her deepest, darkest secrets. She wasn’t ready to reveal the inner workings of her mind. But she wanted to give the older woman something. Some form of the truth that would satisfy them both without revealing too much of herself. Alicia had asked her the question before and she chose not to answer. She didn’t trust anyone. She was never given a reason to. But looking at Alicia’s calm, half smiling face and down at the hand she’d been holding; she took a deep breath. “It depends on the woman asking,” she sighed as her fingers seemingly inched closer to the woman’s open hand. It was the most honest she had been and in her mind it was very much true. Any woman on the street could ask her the same question and she’d say no. She had said no the first time Lana asked her. She ignored Dana when she tried to flirt.

Alicia scooted her chair closer, touching the woman’s fingers as Kalinda’s hand moved closer then pulled back. She could see the slight blush in her cheeks at the admission. Could see her brain fighting on what to do next. But Kalinda wasn’t looking for the answer that she felt. She was looking for the answer she thought Alicia wanted. She was exploring her face like a detective trying to read a suspect. Alicia refused to let her emotions show. She refused to let the slight smile disappear. She didn’t look away from the intense stare Kalinda normally used to break her. She didn’t flinch when she felt the young woman wanting to pull away. She just waited. Alicia knew that was all she could do with Kalinda. Going at her pace was much easier than asking the same question over and over again, getting louder and more aggravated. She might have to wait a little longer for the answer sometimes, but at least she gave herself a fighting chance for the investigator to let her in. “I’m asking,” she whispered. Maybe if she opened herself, made herself vulnerable for Kalinda, she would do the same.

Kalinda couldn’t stop herself from turning her head and looking Alicia up and down. Her makeup was long gone leaving a dusting of freckles across her nose and cheeks. Her lips were parted slightly and she swore she could hear the attorney’s breathing coming faster. Her face was open, wanting. She watched Alicia’s eyes trail up and down her own body. Watched as she licked and bit her lip. She would be lying if she said she wasn’t attracted to Alicia. She was beautiful and funny and clever. She kept her on her toes like no other woman could. Kalinda continued openly staring, obviously scanning the parts of Alicia’s body she wanted to know better, while also noticing the small things she hadn’t bothered noticing before. The older woman’s hair was starting to curl around her shoulders. She had unzipped her suit jacket hours ago, revealing her black, almost see through, lace tank. She could see the outline of Alicia’s black bra. Could probably make out the freckles on her chest if she stared long enough. As Kalinda’s eyes traveled lower, she spotted the belly ring and couldn’t help raising an eyebrow and giving Alicia a knowing smirk. She watched the older woman bite her lip hard and blush, but didn’t look away. The woman was enjoying the attention. She enjoyed having Kalinda stare at her, ogle her body in a way she hadn’t been allowed to before. The investigator could see it flash in the woman’s bright green eyes. “Yep.”

Alicia had always known the investigator’s preferences. She had seen the flirting with more female witnesses and detectives than male. Most of the meeting she had been having lately had been with Lana Delaney, which they hadn’t needed on a case in months. She had seen the two flirting and touching in the courthouse. Had seen the way Lana looked at the young woman when she thought no one was paying attention. What hadn’t cemented in her brain until that moment, was that Kalinda wanted her. She found her attractive and she made her nervous. She made her want to explore something she had never thought possible for her. No one had made her feel as safe and protected as Kalinda, not just physically but emotionally. She didn’t have to worry about getting hurt, getting left behind and forgotten. No one else bothered to check on her and the kids just to make sure everything was okay. After every news report, every tabloid article that surfaced, every time Amber Madison called to harass her, the young woman sent a text, made a phone call, anything to make Alicia feel that her feelings mattered. Only the young investigator picked her daughter up from school to take her to the museum because she had a bad night. Kalinda was the one that calmed not only her panic attacks, but her daughters. She checked on her son during the night when she was too exhausted to move. She’d even caught her making the kids breakfast so she could sleep in. And despite the obvious mounting tension, Kalinda never hesitated to crawl in her bed at night. She was never afraid to hold her until she went to sleep. She was never afraid to wipe the tears away. Kalinda was the partner she never had. She caught Kalinda glancing down at her chest and back up at her eyes. Something hot and unfamiliar started building in her chest. Wanting to encourage her to continue. Wanted to lay herself bare and allow the woman to study her without shame. “I like it when you do that,” she whispered, her hand covering Kalinda’s for a moment.

Kalinda tried not to jerk as her best friend covered her hand. She didn’t like being touched when she was feeling so vulnerable. When she knew the person doing the touching could see deeper inside her than she could see herself. And she was thankful that Alicia didn’t leave it there long. Kalinda didn’t want to hurt the woman’s feelings by doing what came natural. She couldn’t stop her automatic reaction to things. But the investigator was more focused on getting caught checking out her friend’s breasts long after the initial question was answered. Long after she’d made her point that she was interested. She wasn’t embarrassed, she was somewhere between intrigued and confused. Trying to read a woman that was suddenly unreadable was slightly frustrating, but arousing enough to make her push a little harder back. “Do what?” she asked, innocently as her eyes wandered down Alicia’s body again. Choosing to make the gesture as obvious as she could to see how the older woman would respond.

Alicia smirked, starting to strip her jacket off her arms. Knowing Kalinda could see through the thin lace. Feeling her nipples beginning to harden, the goosebumps spreading across her chest and up her neck. She could put on a show if that’s what Kalinda wanted. She could play the game if that’s what it took to show how interested she really was. She tossed the jacket on the table, as playful as she was feeling, she still wasn’t messy. She crossed and uncrossed her legs, running a hand up her calf as a heel dropped to the floor. She batted her lashes and smirked as she slowly leaned back in the chair, raising her arms over her head and stretching. Purring like a kitten being petted for the first time. “Is it hot in here?” she asked, making eye contact with Kalinda that was more than a little glance. She wanted to make sure the woman was watching, that she wasn’t uncomfortable. And by the investigator’s dark eyes, she was anything but uncomfortable.

Kalinda couldn’t take the teasing, not from Alicia. Not when she wanted her so badly to begin with. Not when she was already feeling her body responding to the woman’s exposed and unexposed skin. She wanted to let the woman continue. To see how far Alicia would go without her saying a word. But they still weren’t really alone. And she didn’t want to start something they didn’t intend to finish. They deserved to take their time. “Alicia, stop,” she sighed, as the woman was stretching her back. Arms above her head, head thrown back, bare belly on full view. She couldn’t stop herself from admire the view, allowing her eyes to follow Alicia’s flawless neckline all the way down to her unbuttoned slacks. She had never seen the attorney act this way. She was sexy and seductive, playing with straps of her bra before letting one slip down. Kalinda couldn’t stop the moan that grew in her chest. But the moment the words left her lips, she could see Alicia’s confidence fade. “Diane’s still down the hall. We can’t start anything here that we can’t finish here.” She was trying to give Alicia a little what she wanted, but refused to dive in. Kalinda wanted her to know that she did want her, that she did desire her and think about her. “And YOU’RE married.” It was the last part that bothered her the most. She didn’t want Alicia to break her vows because she was angry or because she wanted to try something else. Even if Alicia told her she loved her, it didn’t change the fact that she belonged to someone else. She didn’t want to cause more hurt and damage where it was already lingering. She didn’t want Alicia to have to choose between them. All she wanted was whatever made her friend happy. Whatever stopped the tears and brought back the uncontrollable smiles.

Alicia dug in her bag until she found the stack of papers she was looking for and tossed them on the table. She hadn’t meant to tell Kalinda until the paperwork had been officially filed tomorrow morning. She wanted to have a chance to sit down with her children before Peter started harassing her and Jackie started bad mouthing her behind her back. But she was so afraid there wouldn’t be a second chance. “I lied to my little girl last night,” she mumbled, watching Kalinda start reading through the paper work. “I filed this morning. Diane has the same file sitting on her desk ready to serve to Peter’s lawyer tomorrow.” She had called Diane right before six, thirty minutes before Grace was waking in her arms. She had cried, she had blamed herself, and Diane had taken down every word. She had included everything Alicia wouldn’t think to include in her own divorce. She filed for permanent custody, leaving Peter to have every other weekend with them. Jackie would not be allowed in her home if she was not present after today. She wouldn’t be ‘watching’ her children that didn’t need to be watched. There would be no more meddling. No more secret prison visits. No more calling her a whore and slut in front of her children. Diane had included it all, every last detail that Alicia could think of that was slowly driving her insane. David Lee was handling the financial side, all too happy to tear Peter apart in court once again. She would owe him nothing. She wouldn’t pay alimony. She wouldn’t pay for his apartment. And she was asking for nothing in return. It had taken Alicia a long time to realize that she didn’t need ANYTHING from Peter Florrick other than the children she was leaving with. “If you wanna read, you’re more than welcome. I’m sure if he tries to fight they’ll ask you to dig up everything anyway.” She slide the file in front of the woman who looked at it like it was a bomb ready to explode. “You might as well read what’s been going on so you’re not as surprised later.”

Alicia had been fine when they parted ways last night, or Kalinda just thought she seemed fine. She had been laughing and joking on the way to their cars. They had flirted and hugged for a few minutes before the attorney got in her car and left. Nothing exciting happened. Peter hadn’t called to aggravate her yesterday which was a little unusual. But she was happy. Grace had been quiet for the first few minutes after getting in her car today, but started laughing and acting as if nothing were wrong when Kalinda gave her the fast food Alicia would strangle her for giving her in the first place. She was telling her about the grade she got on her English report. Explaining the issue she was having on her soccer team. She even talked about Shannon and started blushing. She didn’t mention the long night she’d had. She didn’t complain about being tired or that she was having a hard time concentrating through her classes. But Grace didn’t need to say any thing for Kalinda to know something wasn’t right the moment they stepped out of the car. Unlike Alicia, Grace didn’t have the years of practice hiding her emotions; she barely understood what her emotions meant let alone how to control them. She stopped giggling and smiling when Kalinda pulled into the parking garage. She crossed her arms over her chest the entire walk up the museum steps. It was as if a light switch had been flipped. As if a different kid appeared and something took her bright eyed, talkative friend away. “Grace was very clingy today,” she said, turning her hand over and allowing Alicia to rest her fingers between her own. Moving her thumb along the outside of her hand and watching the older woman shiver at the warm contact. Remembering how the young girl had stuck to her side as they explored the museum. Grace had never been clingy and needy when they adventured out into the public arena. She never hid behind her to avoid eye contact with someone else. She noticed how Grace bit the skin around her nails as they walked through the exhibits. Making small talk only when Kalinda made a comment first. “What wouldn’t she talk about today? Every time I brought you up in passing she would flinch and talk about something else.” Kalinda tried talking to her, asking a few questions about home just to check in, but every time Grace changed the subject, wanting to talk about anything else. Picking silly topics they would have never talked about in a million years. But that’s what Grace wanted and Kalinda didn’t want to object or cross that imaginary parental line. Even when they ran into a group of her old friends out on a school trip, she agreed, silently, to stay with her. That was not something unusual for her to do, but to not just tell them, to not just say what she wanted was not like Grace. She never wanted their girl’s days interrupted, but if they ran into Shannon or someone else from school she knew, they were usually welcome to join them. It was always an open invitation for the girl to invite any friend she wanted, if she wanted. It wasn’t like the teen girl not want to talk with her. Not to tell her what was bothering her. Kalinda knew secrets Alicia would never believe, nothing dangerous, just silly crushes, her first kiss. She usually wanted to talk about everything. Kalinda tried moving their hair out of the attorney’s face, but the moment she tucked it behind her ear, Alicia moved her head to make it fall again. She wanted her face covered, she wanted to hide and it caused the investigator’s heart to ache not knowing why. “What happened last night, Alicia?” she asked, squeezing the lawyer hand as she heard the first sniffle.

Alicia covered her face with her free hand, trying to stop the tears from falling. Hiding her frustration and embarrassment for a moment. She hadn’t meant to push Kalinda, just like she hadn’t meant to emotionally abandon her children. She hadn’t meant to be a neglectful parent. Scarring them for the future that now didn’t look quite so bright. But her emotions wouldn’t stay stable for long. She had been crying one minute and laughing the next all day long. She became frustrated with everyone easily and apologized profusely minutes later. Diane had ignored her mood swings, understanding where the outbursts and tears were coming from. David had brought a box of tissue into her office when she wasn’t looking, Alicia wasn’t sure how to take the gesture, but she was thankful for them an hour later. She was relieved she’d finally made a decision one minute and fighting with the guilt in the back of her brain the next. She was smiling, flirting, relaxed a few minutes ago and now she felt like a hot wire was poking her in the head. She couldn’t focus on one thing before it reminded her of something else. And everything led back to the conversation she had with Grace. The confession she should have seen coming. She couldn’t take it anymore. She was suffering and her children were suffering even more. “Grace told me she’s afraid of what happens when Peter comes home.” She couldn’t believe she was telling the investigator about the vulnerable moment she and her daughter shared. She couldn’t believe she was gonna tell anyone about last night and the hundred of nights that had been just like it. “It was a really bad night,” she whispered, squeezing her eyes shut as Kalinda’s other hand began drawing random patterns across her knuckles. She hadn’t told Diane when they began putting the divorce papers in order before anyone else got to the office. Hadn’t mentioned the kids at all. No talk of Grace’s night terrors and panic attacks. Didn’t describe how Zach stayed in his room unless he was going to school, rarely speaking to her. She didn’t tell Diane that her children refused to get on the phone when Peter called from prison. She didn’t want to use their children as an excuse to do what she wanted to. “My children are afraid if their father comes home, he’ll take me away from them,” she said, as a few tears fell. She could see the confusion on the investigators face, but she also saw concern as Kalinda brushed the tears away. And the pain she had felt the night before that she hadn’t been able to express was all coming out. “It’s all about him when he’s home. My focus had been on him. Between his elections and engagements, I never looked at my children and wondered if they were okay.” She remembered all the times she’d left her children with Jackie, coming home hours after they’d gone to bed. Or the weekends she traveled with Peter from one speech to the next while her children were again left with Jackie. “I let my mother-in-law raise my kids.” She didn’t think saying the words out loud could hurt more than having them swimming around inside her head; and yet they did. They ripped into her chest like a hot knife. Twisting her heart until she nearly couldn’t breathe. Everything began flashing in front of her eyes and the tears fell faster. All the times she waited for Peter to come to a school event only for him not to show up, sometimes not coming home for days. Never signing a permission slip or report card. Never volunteering to take Zach to cub scouts or Grace to dance. That’s why the kids had gone on like it was normal that Peter was gone. He was never really there in the first place. She was, for the most part she thought. “The more I thought about it, the more I thought about the last ten years, the more I realized I did it wrong. I did it all wrong,” she mumbled, feeling Kalinda turn her chair and pulling her closer. Her hand finally fell from her face. “Grace can’t sleep without me anymore without waking up in a panic. She’s terrified I’m gonna leave.” It was the first time she actually looked someone in the eyes and spoke the truth out loud, having it reflected back at her. “And it tears me apart thinking she might be right.” It would be so easy to fall right back into old habits. To when everything seemed comfortable.

Kalinda hadn’t expected the secrets that spilled from her lips, but very few surprised her. She knew Alicia was anxious and fearful of Peters release since she’d come home from the conjugal visit. She had seen the apprehension and tension whenever she was touched for days after. She startled easily with every slight noise. For a few weeks, she refused to take his calls at work. Dropping her phone in Kalinda’s purse before they went into court. She did everything she could to avoid having to speak with the man that had publicly humiliated her. But the closer it got to the trial or the possibility of a new trial, Alicia was having a difficult time concentrating during morning meetings, when she was there at all. She began to stay later and later in the office, sometimes allowing the kids to do their homework or watch tv in the conference room until she was finished. Kalinda hadn’t realized it was to keep them away from Jackie. To keep them closer to her than she had been in years. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there. I should have paid more attention. You needed me and let you down,” she whispered, bringing the Alicia’s hand to her lips and kissing the knuckles. A lot more physical contact than they’d ever had, but something in the investigator told her Alicia needed actions at the moment. She needed to see that someone cared, not just hear the words. She had started to notice slight differences in the kids over the last few months. Zach had started refusing to eat at the table for dinner when she was there, she’d thought it was because of her, but he had been happy to hang out with her months ago. He slammed doors wherever he went, didn’t make eye contact much anymore. And poor Grace had picked up her mother’s habit of blaming herself and guarding herself from everyone. Having panic attacks so severe they almost called an ambulance. Having so much anxiety in her tiny body that her hands shook when she tried to sit still. “I’m so sorry, Alicia,” she whispered, as a few of her own tears began to slide down her face. It all made Kalinda feel worse for not going to her apartment. For not following that nagging feeling in her chest and using her key. She could see it when she looked at Alicia’s face. Her slightly red nose, her flushed cheeks and watery eyes; she had needed her last night. She had needed her and just like Peter she hadn’t listened. She’d left her alone to take care of the worst of parenting just like Peter always had. “What can I do?”

Alicia knew why Kalinda was apologizing over and over again, even though she had no obligation to do so. The woman wanted to protect her, she knew she could comfort her and take of her, Alicia just hadn’t had the chance to allow her to do it. She hadn’t felt comfortable enough asking for it. And she really didn’t think Kalinda wanted the responsibility of a partner and children on her shoulders. “You can stop apologizing for things that aren’t you’re fault, for one.” Alicia reached up to wipe the tears away, but her hand was pushed back down. Instead, the investigator’s fingers caught the tears as they fell, and for the first time, Alicia leaned into the touch. She allowed the woman to explore without pulling away. The attorney even allowed her eyes closed and a shaky breath to pass her lips as she felt the cool fingers under her trembling chin trying to guide her attention back to her. “I should have just told you to come over last night,” she whispered, eyes flickering open and noticing Kalinda had moved closer, her breath tickling the side of her face. She hadn’t expected the woman to come last night, only hoped she would. Kalinda was literal. If she would have told her to come, she would have. She didn’t want Kalinda to apologize. She didn’t want her to feel responsible for taking care of her or protecting her even though deep down she didn’t really mind it at all. She didn’t want her feeling liable for children that weren’t hers even though she knew Kalinda would worry and do things behind her back if she told her to stop. “I want you to tell the truth at Peter’s hearing, whatever they ask, I want you to tell the truth.” She had been thinking about it all day. Trying to find a way for the words to finally slip out. She had gone over both scenarios in her head over and over again, but in the end, it wasn’t about whether Peter got a new trial or not. It wasn’t about whether or not he would go to prison for the next ten years. It was about Kalinda. It was the thing that she could do that would make things much more simpler for her.

The young woman had known for weeks she’d have to testify, but she hadn’t told Alicia she had received the official subpoena. They had just spoken of the possibility. It had always been a possibility that they would call Kalinda. Diane had told her not to worry, that it had been almost five years, they had no reason to call her now. Will was always concerned when it came to Peter Florrick. And the investigator just lost hours and hours of sleeping worry whether of not she would get that yellow envelope in the mail. Glenn Childs made sure to send a subpoena to Lockhart/Gardner and her apartment. Diane was kind enough to hand it to her in the privacy of her office. She just shoved it in her bottom drawer to keep from Alicia’s prying eyes. She still had the copies sitting on her kitchen counter. She’d had two long weeks to investigate and develop a plan that would allow her to testify, tell the truth, and still bring Peter home. It was a brilliant plan once she had the evidence in hand. She could get Peter a new trial in less than ten minutes with the information she had on the judge and a prosecutor. She felt confident about the plan. Had reheased what she would say. Had witnesses lined up to testify if she didn’t them. Kalinda was ready. If she didn’t, if she told the truth in the way Alicia wanted it told, Peter faced ten years. If she lied, Glenn would take her and Alicia down with his case and Peter still wouldn’t come home. The kids would go to Jackie. She and Alicia would go to prison or at the very least lose their licenses. Kalinda tilted the woman’s chin, forcing her to look at her. “You have no idea what you’re asking me to do,” she said, but Alicia’s face didn’t change. She saw an odd calm come over the woman’s green eyes. She felt her hands relax between her own. The realization that the attorney knew exactly what she was asking didn’t take but a few seconds. She was too calm. She’d obviously had time to think the decision over, come to terms with the consequences and grieved long before saying the words out loud. If she hadn’t, she’d be crying harder, panicking and pacing the room like a caged tiger, hyperventilating; Kalinda had seen it all. Instead, it was the investigator that felt that sudden tightness in her chest. She felt the nausea begin in the pit of her stomach. Her palms started to sweat all over again. “They’ll make him serve every damn day if he’s convicted. He’ll be put in general population out of spite. No one will be able to protect him in there, Alicia.” She watched the tears fall a little harder, but Alicia didn’t make a sound. The investigator didn’t want to scare her, but prepare her.

Alicia had thought her heart couldn’t break any further. She thought the guilt and anxiety in her chest would disappear, but it only made her feel worse. She knew what she had asked for. She knew what would most likely happen and the backlash from it. She accepted that she, not Kalinda, was sending her husband, the father of her children to prison. “I know...” she muttered through the tears. She tried to cover her face again as she felt the sob bubbling in her chest, but Kalinda grabbed her hand, pulling it in her lap. She had nowhere to hide. Nowhere to run. And so she let the cry rip through her. “I can’t even hate him,” she sobbed. Although she accepted the responsibility of actions, it didn’t make it hurt any less. It didn’t stop her from still wanting him back, a part of him anyway. The partner and comforter she had at the beginning of their marriage was the man she grieved for. The man that held her when she couldn’t sleep at night. The husband that had no problem surprising her with love letters and poems stuck on the fridge. The man that made her laugh until she cried, that wiped her tears away, that held her when she thought she’d crumble; that’s the man she wanted back. That’s the man she would have done anything to save. But he was gone and she wasn’t sure she liked the version she had now. But it wasn’t about the man that betrayed her family. It wasn’t about losing what she had for almost twenty years. It was knowing she could hold her head up, knowing the one person she had relied on for the past few months didn’t lie to save a man that didn’t deserve it. “It’s not about Peter,” she said as clearly as her stuffy nose would allow, catching the woman’s attention. “If you’re this worried about testifying, this worried about sending him to prison with whatever you know or whatever evidence you have; I know he’s guilty, Kalinda. I’ve always known.” She didn’t take her eyes off the young woman’s as she moved her chair closer, bringing Kalinda’s stocking covered thighs between her own. The woman only avoided her glances for a moment before giving the most apologetic look she had ever received. She felt Kalinda squeezing her hand tighter. Alicia could see the tears of frustration and confusion shinning in the young woman’s brown eyes. Could see the gears turning in her big brain, trying to find the reason for the change. Trying to understand why it mattered so much to tell the truth. “I don’t want to have to look at you every day and see the lie on your face.”

Kalinda allowed the breath she’d been holding to slowly release from her burning lungs. Her fingers wandered nervously over Alicia’s until she realized the woman’s rings were already missing. It was something she would normally notice. She made a living on being extremely observant, picking up on behavioral changes in the people around her, and making a habit of knowing everything about everyone she worked with down to in their grandparents were still living. She noticed the day Diane’s secretary’s engagement had been called off. The young girl hadn’t said anything, Diane didn’t even know until she asked why a man continued to call the office only to be hung up on. Kalinda knew because the ring was gone. Since her boyfriend had proposed the girl wore the ring every day for the full seven months. Alicia was the same. She had never seen her best friend without her wedding rings. She had never missed a moment when she played with them during morning meetings when she was bored. She moved her fingers over the pale skin, the shiver that ran through Alicia’s body didn’t go unnoticed. “I wasn’t gonna lie in court, Alicia. You don’t have to stay with him if he’s released. You already filed the papers.” She could feel the frustration building as the confusion and anxiety in her brain increased. She tried to appear calm, she really did. Even when the attorney was leaning closer she tried to regulate her breathing. She tried to pull her hands away, but she couldn’t stop tracing the seventeen year ring indent. She couldn’t make herself pull away if Diane ran through the hall shouting fire. “I don’t understand.”

Alicia, without thinking, reached up and brushed the falling tears away. She could see her hand shaking. She had to bite her lip to stop the sigh as the woman traced the place her rings had been. “That’s because you’re not listening,” she whispered gently. There was no point in yelling, even though that’s what she really wanted to do. She wanted to scream, to beg Kalinda to just answer the questions that were asked. The lawyer in her couldn’t understand why that was so difficult. The woman in her knew Glenn Childs could tear her apart if he wanted to. “Whatever plan you have, whatever game you’ve come up with to play with the judge and Childs that is keeping you so anxious, so worried and tense; I want you to forget it.” She looked away for a moment before she bit her lip and Alicia heard the soft whimper as the realization of what she was asking for finally sank into her overworked, overly tired brain. “After this nightmare is settled, I want to know that at least you told the truth. I’m asking you to tell the truth and nothing more, Kalinda.”

Kalinda wasn’t terrified of possibly putting Peter in prison. She worried how Alicia and the kids would react to the reality and not the possibility, but she didn’t care what happened to him in the end. She was afraid if she gave Childs what he wanted his prosecutors would start asking questions about her relationship with Peter. He would start poking and prodding into her past. He would ask personal questions she wasn’t comfortable answering. It would be the perfect time to destroy them both if she were looking at it from his view. She would be vulnerable. It would be public. And she was risking Alicia hearing things she wasn’t yet ready to tell her. “I need you to promise me you’ll stay away from court that day,” she sniffled as she felt Alicia’s fingers sweep over her cheek. She tried not to lean into the woman’s touch, she tried to act like she was immune to Alicia’s closeness, but she couldn’t stop herself from nuzzling her nose lightly against the woman’s wrist. She did have enough self control not to lean in when the attorney’s face was inches from her own.

Alicia tried not to smile, but couldn’t stop as she saw Kalinda starting to relax. She felt the hand moving more freely along her hand and up her arm. Connecting her freckles like star constellations. The woman’s face was soft again. The tension gone between her eyes and jaw. “You’re in court for me every day. Why wouldn’t I do the same?” She didn’t care what was said while Kalinda testified. She didn’t care what ugly truths would come out. How much worse could it possibly be? She heard the recording of her husband having sex with Amber Madison. The call girl wrote a tell all book about their relationship. How much more embarrassing could it be?

Kalinda didn’t stop herself as she moved her thumb over the indentation on her finger before taking a shaky breath and bringing the hand to her lips. Kissing first the woman’s knuckles, then lingering over the pale skin. She didn’t take her eyes off Alicia’s, even when she felt the blush heating her cheeks and chest. It was the smile that reached the attorney’s eyes that suddenly made her want to melt. No one had ever done that to her. She didn’t want to be the cause Alicia cried at night. She didn’t want everything she had to say to haunt the woman’s dreams. She didn’t want to watch her friend’s face break all over again when she heard all the nasty truths that were Peter Florrick. She couldn’t be the cause of that pain. Kalinda kissed the pale skin, still oddly fascinated she hadn’t noticed the missing jewelry before. “Because I’m not gonna look you in the face, watching your heart break all over again, while I’m asked questions about your husband. I don’t know what they’ll ask me if we do this. I saw it all. I knew about it all and said nothing about it at the time. If I’m gonna answer their questions honestly, I don’t want you there for it.”

Alicia hadn’t planned to go to Kalinda’s portion of the appeal, but she hadn’t decided not to go. It really depended if she had a case to prepare for or her children needed her. She hadn’t been to every hearing, in fact she’d only been to two. His lawyer was constantly begging her to show up at the office. But she couldn’t make herself do it. It took time away from her job, time away from her kids that she no longer could afford to lose. And she just didn’t care anymore. She didn’t care about the petty arguments. She didn’t want to hear the lies and conspiracy theories. The only reason she was even considering going to the investigator’s questioning was purely for Kalinda’s benefit. She wanted her to look out in the audience and see a familiar face, a friendly face. Someone she knew would be on her side no matter how it ended. “I’ll wait for you at the office.” Alicia knew she’d want to see Kalinda as soon as possible after she laid every piece of Peter’s dirt all over the courtroom. Kalinda would need her, even if she refused to say it. But more than anything, she would need Kalinda. “I won’t ask what happened. I won’t ask what was said, but if I can’t be there for you; I can at least be somewhere we can be alone for a while.” They would sit in silence, she knew, but at least it would be a protective silence.

Kalinda didn’t understand what was happening. Even as she kissed the woman’s knuckles and listened to the sigh that escaped the woman’s lips, she still couldn’t understand. There was no reason for Alicia to stand by her. There was no reason for her to want to be around her after she sent her family crashing to the ground once again. “Why would you do that? I’m gonna put your husband in prison for ten years.”

Alicia remembered the night she almost called an ambulance for Grace. She had been crying and screaming for hours. She couldn’t catch her breath, and every time she cried out she grabbed her head, the migraine intensifying. Zach couldn’t get anywhere near her without the girl lashing out. She tried calling Peter’s lawyer telling him it was an emergency and she needed him to call. She called Owen, but it was at the end of the semester, so she really didn’t expect his phone to be one. Without thinking, she’d called Kalinda. She didn’t even know how much the woman heard her say over Grace’s cries. But within twenty minutes, Zach was letting her in the front door. And just when Alicia thought she couldn’t take anymore, Kalinda sat on the side of the bed and beckoned Grace from her lap. Not saying a single word. Her body completely calm and relaxed like she’d never seen it. To Alicia’s surprise, Grace went willingly, burying her face in the woman’s neck. Even through the cries, the investigator didn’t flinch, she rubbed the girls back and whispered in her ear. It didn’t take long for Grace to calm, but it took an hour to finally get her to sleep. Kalinda never left, she slept next to Grace all night, waking every few hours to gently lull her back to sleep. Flinching only once when the girl curled into her side as she was beginning to doze off. Alicia slept on the floor that night, what little sleep she did get. But for once she was able to relax even with one of her children having a crisis. She had someone to depend on. Someone that would pick up the slack when she was about to explode. All she had to do was ask for it. “Because you didn’t hesitate to come when Grace needed help.”

Kalinda remembered that night as if it were engraved on her brain. Grace’s cries broke something inside her she didn’t know she had. She gut wrenching pleas that she could do nothing to stop caused her heart to set on fire and the ashes were still smoldering. She remembered how surprisingly quick the child was to climb into her lap and latch on. She was even more surprised that she naturally nurtured Grace. Rocking her when she thought the girl’s cries would shatter her ear dreams. Massaging the back of her neck when she started rubbing at her temples. She held her hands down when she started scratching at her arms. “She needed me,” Kalinda exhaled softly. And although it was awkward for her for the first few minutes, she was happy to hold Grace while she slept. She was happy to be someone she could latch onto when the nightmares were too terrifying to bring herself out of. She would never complain that she woke up every hour when the girl moved, her clutched to her tighter, or whimpered in her sleep. “You both did,” she said a little louder, lifting her eyes and letting the walls she had spent so long building around herself fall. She wanted Alicia to see how much she cared, how much she would continue to care no matter what happened between them. She wanted the woman to see that the ugly part of her life didn’t scare her away, it pulled her closer. Alicia’s pleas for help that night pulled on her heart in a way no one else’s ever had. She didn’t have to think. She didn’t have to wonder if going would be a good idea or not. Whether she would end up in the news or not for going to Alicia Florrick’s apartment in the middle of the night. Nothing else matter, but Alicia’s pleas on the other end of the phone. “I like being there; for the good and bad,” she muttered, kissing the woman’s fingers before dropping them back to her lap. “Whatever I can do to make things a little easier, I’ll do.”

Alicia had never asked Kalinda to come to their aid. Never asked for her comfort or protection. Never asked her to stay the night or hold her while she slept. But she did. And more than anything, she wanted the woman’s arms wrapped around her. She wanted to be able to reach for someone in the morning and have Kalinda reaching back. “Come home with me tonight.” She saw the slight surprise in Kalinda’s eyes, but more than that she noticed the shy smile. She could have told the woman everything that was going on in her head. That she was asking the woman for purely selfish reasons. That she wanted more time, that she craved to be alone with her, that she was beginning to ache for her soft touches and gentle words. But she didn’t. Alicia didn’t have to because she saw the reasons reflected back at her. Kalinda was wanting the same thing, she was just waiting for the attorney to ask for it. “It’s Friday; we could watch a movie until the kids fall asleep. I know a very sad girl that would love nothing more than to cuddle with you,” she said with a slight laugh as Kalinda’s smile finally broke into a full out grin.

Kalinda didn’t have to think about whether or not to accept the invitation. She would have shown up at Alicia’s door in an hour anyway, using her key if the woman had already gone to bed. But it was much nicer being invited. “As much as I love Grace’s cuddles, I’d much rather keep her mother company.” She’d hold Grace, rock her, sing to her as long as it took. The children would always come first. But she’d never turn down an opportunity to feel Alicia’s body against hers. Feeling the woman curling close to her while she slept. Holding her hand long after she calmed from whatever thoughts were keeping her awake. Sometimes, she would still find them holding hands as the sun peaked through Alicia’s window.

Alicia couldn’t help leaning closer, giving a sly smile as she started gathering the papers on the table. All of a sudden she was looking forward to going home. She was looking forward to cooking dinner, putting in a movie and cuddling on the couch. And when the kids would finally go to bed, she would get to be the person she wanted to be with Kalinda. Nothing made her feel better on those sleepless nights than Kalinda holding her, talking to her, touching her. And tonight, she wanted that. “I’d like that.”