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I Swear

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I Swear
Alicia/Kalinda
Summary: Alicia owes Kalinda a dance after denying her at the yearly Christmas Party.

 

Alicia heard their bedroom door slam as she locked the front door and set her purse on the island. Leaning against the counter and finally allowing herself to take a few deep breaths. She hadn’t thought it was a big deal telling Kalinda she hadn’t wanted to dance at the Christmas part when she’d asked. She was trying to stop a situation from occurring with decisions Diane was about to make at the firm. Her partner’s face hadn’t changed when she politely declined, her smile never faded, she even danced with Will a few times. Something Alicia also declined. All night, Kalinda was calm and laughing. But in the car, everything changed. When she tried to slide her hand over the younger woman’s, she moved it away. When Alicia made an effort and reached across the gear shift to touch her knee, Kalinda squirmed closer to the door. She tried talking to her. She tried asking questions. The only answer she received was the cold shoulder. She threw her heels in the corner of the couch trying to think of what her lover was thinking on the other side of the wall as she flipped the radio on. The silence would end up eating them alive; keeping them in their own thoughts for far too long was how they had many tearful battles.

Kalinda had held her disappointment close to her chest like the professional she was. She had kept the smile on her face. She had happily accepted when Will asked her to dance multiple times. She laughed when David tried to tell a drunken joke. But her eyes always wandered back to Alicia and Diane talking intensely off to the side. She had wanted Alicia to ask her out on the dance floor. Not that they needed any more attention on them at the moment, with the divorce finalized last year and her expanding belly they were difficult not to notice, but she at least wanted her to want to. When she’d whispered the question in her ear and got a no in response something inside her heart went back up, a wall she had forced down long ago just for Alicia. She hadn’t explained why, just continued her conversation with Diane as if she weren’t there. She was pretty sure her partner hadn’t even noticed when she eventually wandered off with Will. She tried rattling her brain for an answer to why Alicia behaved that way, but she couldn’t find a reason. She couldn’t come up with anything she had done or said in the last few days that would make Alicia ignore her in a room full of their colleagues. Everything had been fine until that moment. They had been talking about the new client they just signed and the cases that needed to be closed before the first of the year. She had signed the papers for her maternity leave with Diane that morning, but it wasn’t supposed to begin for another five weeks. Alicia had brought it up, but it wasn’t a lengthy discussion.

Alicia tried waiting for Kalinda to come out on her own, but after twenty minutes of hearing nothing, her heart began to pound faster. She heard the closet door slam ten minutes before. She had heard something hitting the floor, but it wasn’t loud enough for Alicia to worry something was wrong. It was the amount of time her partner was behind the door without making an effort to open it. She tried to even listen for Kalinda’s gentle footsteps, but she heard none. She leaned against the wall, taking a few deep breaths, forcing herself not to grab the knob and push the door open herself. She couldn’t do that. Not that their bedroom door locked, it became a rule in their home the first time Kalinda did lock the door and refuse to come out for hours. The investigator ended up having a panic attack causing Alicia to have to use a butter knife to get in. The attorney had all the knobs changed the next day, choosing ones that didn’t lock. Instead, their new knocking rule was put into place. She would never barge in if Kalinda wanted to be alone; it happened from time to time and vice versa. But she would also never risk not being able to get to her partner again, especially now. She tapped on the door with her nails, softly, just letting her know she was there. Letting her know she hadn’t left, she hadn’t walked away or forgotten about her. Making sure Kalinda knew even though a door separated them she still wasn’t alone. “Please come out,” she said, as quietly as she could, but loud enough for Kalinda to hear if she were listening.

Kalinda didn’t want to come out of her safe space. Even when she heard the radio start to play and Alicia’s bare feet walking across the room, stopping in front of their door, she didn’t want to leave. She could see the woman’s shadow under the door as she hovers, Kalinda could have sworn she even heard a sigh through the thick wood. Shutting her partner out was difficult, but she was frustrated and confused, her heart was aching. And nothing in her could force her legs to move to the door. Instead, Kalinda slammed her fist down on the dresser and bite her lip as the shock of pain traveled up her wrist. “Go away,” she whispered under her breath, not sure if she wished Alicia would hear it or not, but her heart sure didn’t. It felt like little pieces were cracking away and falling. It had very little to do with not dancing with her. She could dance with the attorney any time she wanted, music playing or not. It was Alicia’s lack of physical contact period. Kalinda ripped her hair down, throwing the clip on the wall as she thought back to all the times, she had to stop Alicia from pushing too far, touching her too often in front of too many people. The attorney was always the first to make any intimate contact, especially in the beginning. Not that Kalinda didn’t initiate any intimate contact, she gave Alicia the control because she hadn’t had any for so long. She gave the woman anything she wanted, whenever she wanted to make up for the partners that had failed her in the past. It didn’t matter if they were alone or not, Alicia would find a reason to touch her or kiss her. Pushing her against the office door when she had the blinds closed. Following her into the copy room and playing with the back of her short skirt or catching the clip of her garter an unsnapping it every time she bent over the retrieve copies, getting caught only by Courtney twice. It got slightly worse when they finally told everyone and there was no reason to hide anymore. They were caught once on the roof by Cary; that was her fault, she should have put the brick in front of the door like she normally would. And there was that one time Kalinda swore Will heard her moaning Alicia’s name the first time the woman had pushed her too far, breaking the investigator’s steal exterior and finally letting the woman go down on her. She wouldn’t have thought anything else about it until Will was avoiding her eye contact during conversations and refusing to even glance in her direction at the morning meetings. They’d eventually had to come up with a few rules so they’re jobs wouldn’t suffer; it still didn’t stop Alicia on certain days. And tonight, when they were all drinking and celebrating, Alicia didn’t touch her once. She didn’t kiss her, push her up against a wall, or follow her to the bathroom. She barely brushed her arm when handing her a glass of water, the only thing not full of alcohol. Barely acknowledged when Will asked her to dance. Didn’t seem to care when she wandered off to sit in her office for twenty minutes because her back was throbbing. Her hand shook as she unzipped her dress, letting it fall to the floor, leaving only her bright blue lace slip in its place. Something she had debated on wearing that morning knowing it was Alicia’s favorite. She could see her reflection in the floor link mirror, and as much as she wanted to hate it, she couldn’t. Her trembling fingers touched her seven month, slightly swollen belly. In the beginning, she had been afraid she’d gain too much weight; her mother and sister developed diabetes and extreme weight gain during their first pregnancies. She was terrified people would notice immediately and the attention would only get worse as she progressed. But she had barely grown enough to go up a dress size, but everyone knew. In her outfits, it was noticeable very quickly by most of the female staff. She’d wanted to get pregnant, they’d talked about it until they both couldn’t even spell IVF anymore. Going over and over the pros and cons, mostly concerning Kalinda’s health. Alicia was terrified a pregnancy would kill her, if the treatment took at all. The only thing the investigator was concerned about was whether she would be good with a baby or not. They jumped in head first after a year of ‘talking’, mostly debating, and Alicia was ecstatic when the first round of treatment took; Kalinda was excited between the bouts of morning sickness and cramps. There sex life hadn’t even changed that much in her opinion. There was a dry spell around the very last of her second month, but they made up for it in her fifth. As the young woman gently rubbed a hand down her stomach, she felt a hard kick under her palm, before the tapping on the door started again. “I’m going, I’m going,” she muttered as she rubbed a few circles over the spot her child was fond of kicking.

Alicia leaned her head against the door frame, taking a calming breath when she finally heard Kalinda’s bare foot steps. She could see her shadow under the door and she could finally release the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. Something deep in her brain told her everything physically was fine, nothing was wrong with their child, nothing was wrong with her partner, but the problems Kalinda had early on in the pregnancy had never left her. She remembered, like it happened thirty seconds ago, Grace running into their bedroom at one in the morning, screaming Kalinda was on the bathroom floor bleeding. They spent three days in the hospital to get the diagnoses Alicia was well aware was coming; placenta previa. Their doctor was hopeful it would resolve on its own since she was only fifteen weeks; everything was perfectly fine now. But that didn’t stop the ice running through her veins every time Kalinda came into the room in tears or complained of slight cramps. At the six month checkup, Kalinda’s blood pressure was extremely high, the doctor made them come back the next week after strict instructions that her partner have no stress, her pressure was still high. At the last appointment, their doctor asked them to consider a cesarean if they couldn’t get the woman’s blood pressure under control before it was time to deliver. They weren’t hopeful and she knew how deep that hurt her partner. Kalinda had cried for two days after until Alicia reminded her that although Zach was a natural birth; Grace was not. She understood how the woman felt about the birthing process, but in the attorney’s mind, her lover mattered so much more than any experience. They would have their baby either way. So when the door finally did open and she could see the woman she loved standing in front of her in one piece, no pain, baby fine; a tear did fall down her cheek in relief. Only Alicia wasn’t expecting Kalinda to have already changed. In the last month, she was usually the one to unzip the smaller woman’s dresses and skirts, her back aching too much from sitting in the desk chair for most of the day. She didn’t expect the woman to still be wearing the tight slip that she been wearing that morning. She had assumed she’d changed into something else to put under the tight black dress. And even though she knew Kalinda was upset, Alicia couldn’t help but thinking how beautiful she looked. Her hair down for the first time all day, the dress and stockings finally gone, and her slight bump on display; Alicia thought it was the sexiest she’d ever seen her lover. She expected Kalinda to be angry, even crying, but her face was dry. Her expression was blank. It almost raddled her at how calm she seemed to be. “Talk to me,” she whispered, holding out her hand.

Kalinda had made herself open the door, she didn’t have to allow Alicia to touch her and as much as she didn’t want to, as much as she craved to go to her; she stood her ground. Arms crossed over her chest. She tried not to reach down and stroke her belly as their child stretched into her ribs, it was uncomfortable but not painful, and if she made the gesture Alicia would assume something was wrong. She would touch her and give more attention than she wanted at the moment. “I really don’t think we should talk right now, Alicia,” she said, looking away to calm the burning tears building behind her eyes. It chipped a little away at her soul every time she denied herself of what she spent years fighting for; Alicia. When she was upset, she wanted Alicia. When she was hurting, in pain, panicking, or just needed to be held; she wanted Alicia. That had never happened to her before. She took care of her own needs for so long, it almost terrified her how easy it was to want the attorney. Kalinda wanted to fall into Alicia’s arms and cry like she had been wanting to all day. She wanted to be held and told that everything would be okay. But it was Alicia that had caused her pain. How could she still want someone when she was frightened Alicia had done what she promised she never would? When her eyes finally did come back to her partner’s, she could see the confusion and fear reflected back at her. She could see the tears building in her beautiful green eyes. ‘Please, Sweetheart’, was all the woman whispered, or it was all Kalinda heard before Alicia took a tiny step forward, trembling fingers barely touching her arm before she took a step back into the room. The hurt was immediate on the older woman’s face as it was in the investigator’s heart. A few tears fell as Alicia began chewing her bottom lip and picking at her freshly painted nails. She couldn’t do anything, but glance from Alicia’s eyes down to her hand until it finally dropped back to the woman’s side. “Why touch me now, when you haven’t tried all day?” It was out of her mouth before she’d made a decision to actually say it. For the first time in her life, Kalinda didn’t have a plan. She never thought she’d be in a situation like the one she found herself in. She couldn’t run away like she’d done so many times before, nor would she want to. She couldn’t hide and lock Alicia out for the rest of the night. Kalinda had no choice but to stand her ground.

For a moment, Alicia was stunned by the question. But she was even more shocked by the small crack she saw in her partners face. She saw a crushing pain in her eyes that she had no idea where it came from. Her hand now covered her belly, something she had done during her own pregnancies when she had an argument with Peter. Rubbing in small circles. She didn’t know why she’d done it, but she could see in Kalinda’s eyes why she did, whether she knew it or not. Whether she meant to or not. She was on guard, protecting the life they had fought for the only way she could. It was frightening and confusing, especially once she saw the defiance return to the young woman’s eyes, something she hadn’t seen in over a year. “Sweetheart, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she whispered, trying to hold that understanding tone to try and prevent Kalinda from taking whatever she said wrong. Alicia was well aware of the frustration she’d had at the party, but it hadn’t seemed like a big discussion worthy fight at the time. She hadn’t been aware that something was bothering her partner all day long. She hadn’t even thought she could have done something that morning that would effect the younger woman all day. She couldn’t remember ignoring her during breakfast with the kids. She couldn’t remember not holding her hair out of her face while she was vomiting. But as Alicia started to recall their day, thinking about more and more things they had done, how they had done them, what they’d said; her heart almost stopped in her chest, her mouth suddenly went dry. She couldn’t remember cuddling with Kalinda that morning before they had to get up due to the nausea or showering with her once her stomach had calmed enough to handle the heat, something they did normally do every day, but they’d been running late. She’d forgotten to set the alarm the night before and didn’t wake up until Grace knocked on their door. Lucky for them, Grace was up an hour before the bus ran. She had decided to make breakfast while Kalinda tried to relax in the bedroom before the difficult ride to work. When she was about to walk into the room to check on her, Zach needed a permission slip signed and Grace was chatting away in the background about Shannon’s mother bringing them home after soccer. She remembered hearing Kalinda getting out of the shower, but Alicia was in the kitchen making some toast for the pregnant woman’s inevitable nausea, her thought was, at least she’d have something to throw up instead of painfully dry heaving. She’d watched her dress from the kitchen island, choosing not to bother her, but making sure she didn’t need any help. She couldn’t remember touching the small of the woman’s back as they rode to the 27th floor, something she’d started doing after the elevator jerked one evening, causing Kalinda to lose her balance and hit her back on the metal railing. She hadn’t felt their child move under her hand yet today. That wasn’t something she wouldn’t remember or not be able to recall. And she could finally see it on Kalinda’s face. She really hadn’t made an effort to have physical contact with her partner. “I’m sorry, Kalinda.” It was all she could think to say in the moment, but she meant every word. She had been a terrible partner to a woman that deserved the world. She’d done exactly what she’d promised herself she wouldn’t, she’d made her lover feel alone, abandoned; just like Peter had done to her with both her pregnancies.

Kalinda chewed her bottom lip, she could feel the anxiety flooding her chest and the more her heart pounded, the more her child moved, the harder the kicks became; as hard as an almost seven month old baby can kick. She could see the pain in Alicia’s green eyes as they started to water. Could see the panic developing on her face, but for some reason, after the days events, the investigator couldn’t let it go. She couldn’t brush it under the rug like she did so many other things. She couldn’t go to bed and just forget what she felt; what she feared. She was afraid and for once, she could admit it to herself. Afraid Alicia had changed her mind in the last 24 hours about the baby they had both wanted. Afraid her partner had found someone else or wanted to. Terrified that she’d be forced to raise the baby on her own, something she wasn’t sure she could do or worse; Alicia would fight her for their daughter. And frustrated that she’d given up everything about her independent life for Alicia, for what they’d both wanted. Agitated that it could possibly be for nothing. And there wasn’t one emotion she could focus on. Her mind was spinning like a top. She heard Alicia’s words as clear as she could hear her own thoughts, she only wished she believed her. That her words could be enough to make the doubt go away. To make her old demons stop calling her name. “Do you want someone else?” It sounded ridiculous leaving her lips, but it was how she felt. According to Alicia’s face it was the exact opposite. Alicia’s face went from being calm to complete panic. The older woman took a step towards her, her hand barely brushing her knuckles, before she tried backing away. She hadn’t given her answer. She hadn’t even opened her mouth to try to come up with one, whether honest or not. “Don’t touch me,” she said with little authority. Her voice mostly thick with tears. It hurt deep in her chest as the words filled the room, but she was afraid; she didn’t know anything else to do except protect herself and lash out. That’s exactly what she did when Alicia reached for her again. Kalinda slapped her hand away, taking a step back until she felt the wall against her shoulder blades and groaned in frustration. “Don’t fucking touch me,” she hissed.

Alicia was as confused as she was absolutely terrified. She had no way to comfort the woman she had promised to comfort until the day she died. She couldn’t reach out for her, afraid she’d set the woman off once again. Alicia knew if she could just touch her for a moment without her pulling away, the investigator would feel it. She would feel that undeniable connection that was always there. She would feel that spark under her skin that always ignited when she barely grazed Kalinda’s skin. She couldn’t remember a time in the last few years she hadn’t thought about Kalinda or wanted her or needed her. Besides her children, Kalinda was the only thing on her mind. Constantly worrying about her, but too afraid to walk across the office hall to ask her every ten minutes how she was. Alicia had already tried doing that with text messages right after she was hospitalized and the woman became annoyed within the first hour and turned her phone off. “Sweetheart, there has never been anyone else. There never will be anyone else.” But by the look in her lover’s eyes, her words weren’t breaking through whatever the demons in her head were screaming at her. That was the only thing that stopped her from grabbing Kalinda, shaking some sense in to her. Alicia knew it wasn’t her fault. The younger woman had been scarred long before they’d even met. She had been beaten and abandoned more times than the attorney probably knew. She would never blame her for the outbursts because they were still working on them. They were coming less and less. She fought hard to gain Kalinda’s trust in the beginning. Letting her know where she was whenever she left the office, the apartment, or her sight in general. She asked Kalinda to come with her every time the kids had to be dropped off with Peter. She always asked Diane, not Will, to sit in on meetings that the investigator couldn’t attend for whatever reason. Alicia refused to put herself in any situation that could possibly make the younger woman uncomfortable. But that didn’t stop Kalinda’s mind from overthinking small, meaningless incidents at times. She’d faced all the accusations before, but just like before they weren’t true. She’d never risk losing what they built. Not after how hard they both fought and cried for it. “Kalinda, you know I’d never do that,” she whispered, trying to catch the woman’s glances without stepping closer.

Kalinda tried to pull from the rational part of her brain. Wanting to focus on the words Alicia continued to repeat quietly. Tried to see the truth on her partners face. She knew it was there; she’d always known. She knew Alicia would never hurt her on purpose. She would never step away from her. “I don’t...” She couldn’t finish because she had no words. The thoughts were coming a mile a minute, all she wanted to do was scream at the top of her lungs to break the hold her thoughts had on her, but she wasn’t strong enough. “I just...” As she opened her mouth to start her usual questioning, a sharp, intense cramp caused her to shout out and almost double over. The pain in her pelvis was the same pain she’d felt months before; it was hot and fast burning, spreading to her lower back quickly. She felt the sharp pressure under her ribs as their daughter pushed as hard as she could. Her hand went straight to cradle her belly, trying to encourage their baby to move, to calm. But instead of settling like the baby usually did at her touch, it intensified with every heartbeat. Her eyes slammed closed, grinding her teeth to stop the painful groan from coming out. But as the flashes of light began in front of her eyes, as she felt her knees start to give, Alicia’s hand slid under her own while the other rested against her lower back. She could hear Alicia softly whispering in her ear, could feel her breath on her face for the first time all day. And as Kalinda relaxed into her partner’s touch, the pain slowly stopped. The burning sensation in her back ceased as the older woman’s fingers massaged along her lower spine. And their daughter settled against her hand. “I’m fine,” she whispered, taking a few deep breaths, before trying to move away again.

Alicia tried to respect Kalinda needing space at the moment, but as her hands left her body, she doubled over in pain again. Whimpering and reaching for her, and she didn’t hesitate to grab the shaking woman again. The blood ran cold in Alicia’s veins watching her lover struggle in pain and her fingers shake as she reached for her hand again. Her fingers freezing cold as they laid over her own against her swollen lower belly. One of Kalinda’s hands gripped the back of her dress so hard she felt the scratch marks burn into her skin, she heard the seam start to rip. “No, you’re not,” she said, as her hand smoothed back down Kalinda’s swollen belly, allowing the fingers of her other hand to grip her shoulder. Her sharp nails digging into her shoulder and almost causing her to hiss in the investigator’s ear. She felt the harsh gasps against her neck as she tried to catch her breath through the tears. It all reminded Alicia of when Kalinda was lying on their bathroom floor in too much pain to even yell for help. “I’ve got you,” she whispered in the younger woman’s ear, as she felt Kalinda start to lean into her touch and pull away again. Her body tensing and relaxing out of her control as the adrenaline continued pumping through her veins, both from the fight and the pain. “Take your time, I’m right here,” she continued, willing to wait as long as Kalinda needed. Willing to stand there and hold her as long as she would allow it. She nuzzled into the woman’s hair as Kalinda moved closer. Her head rested against her collarbone. Alicia couldn’t stop herself from kissing Kalinda’s earlobe and rubbing the back of her tense neck. But just like before, as fast as the pain started, it seemed to disappear. She could feel the muscles under her hand relax and their baby gently kick. Alicia couldn’t stop the relieved sigh that released from her lips as Kalinda’s body finally relaxed against her. The investigator clinging to her tighter than normal, but she was doing the same. They both needed more and longer contact than on a normal day. “I don’t think she likes when you’re upset.” She felt a few tears hit her shoulder as Kalinda moved to wrap her other arm around her neck, burying her face in her skin. She could barely hear the whimper as the investigator’s wet nose touched her ear. It wasn’t from the physical pain; it was a different cry. Her heart was still aching. “I’m sorry, love. It’s my fault.”

Kalinda could feel their baby immediately relax once again. This time she didn’t pull away, she allowed herself to be touched. Allowed Alicia’s hands to caress her body and cradle her bump. It calmed her, settled her nerves, even though she was still questioning. But the lower the anxiety became, the calmer her baby kicked and flipped. She was getting exhausted. Between the pain and her heart nearly breaking, Kalinda didn’t care about fighting anymore. She didn’t care about holding grudges and pointing out every little thing Alicia did wrong tonight. She wanted to go to sleep and forget. She wanted to go to sleep and hope that everything would be better in the morning. “Just tell me why you didn’t want to dance with me. Is Diane really that more entertaining than me?” She couldn’t help but wince as the words left her lips. She couldn’t stop the sniffles and the chills that ran through her body when she felt Alicia’s lips against her temple and along the side of her face. She could feel the woman breathing her in. Kalinda had never really thought Alicia would be intimate with someone else. Had never had any real evidence that she was interested in anything outside of their relationship. But for some reason, on that night, she couldn’t be a hundred percent positive of anything. All she could see was Alicia talking and laughing with Diane over something she couldn’t hear. Turning her back to her when Diane would whisper something and Alicia glanced in her direction. For once in their relationship, Kalinda felt like she was on the outside, seeing things that everyone else could see. “It felt a little too familiar tonight,” she whispered. That’s how they’d started. They were secretive, quiet. Never using a hotel room, too much paper work and too easy to trace. Alicia would usually sneak over to her apartment long after it was dark, her neighbors in bed. Or when they were working late, alone in the office, they would take the opportunity to devour each other. Even when Peter had finally come home, all Alicia had to do was tell him she was working late with Kalinda and he never questioned it. She could spend as many nights at her apartment, and as long as Peter heard her voice in the background when he called, he never asked anything else. But Diane and Will couldn’t know until Alicia threw Peter out of the apartment; that was the deal they’d made back then. It started as an emotional affair until it turned physical one night when they had too much tequila and revealed secrets they never wanted the other to know. They’d been intimate long before Alicia’s divorce. At the time, it hadn’t bothered her. Alicia’s marriage was long over, but they were still legally married and living under the same roof with their children. And for a moment, she couldn’t help but feel like she was standing in the same place Peter had. Confused that Alicia’s behavior toward her suddenly seemed to change over night. Frustrated for not knowing or seeing the signs sooner. Afraid she’d finally lose the only person that ever made her feel complete. She loved Alicia more today than the first day she’d said it. And as much as it hurt, she’d never beg the woman to stay if she wanted to go. “I love you, Alicia, but you don’t have to stay with me if you want someone else.”

Alicia could feel the silent sob as it shook Kalinda’s back, could feel the tears running down her bare chest. She couldn’t believe this moment was happening. Her heart began pounding a mile a minute in her ear. The panic rising in her chest. Alicia couldn’t stop herself from pulling the investigator closer, burying her face in the woman’s neck and inhaling her unique scent. “Kalinda, I want you more today than I did when I first said I love you,” she whispered against the woman’s ear, her voice breaking half way through, trying to catch a sob before the investigator heard it. She felt the sharp sob against her ear and Kalinda’s nails digging deeper into her back, nearly cutting into the skin. She’d always thought it would be the young woman to leave first. She had almost waited for it, suffered night terrors because of it. There was so many more reasons for the woman to leave than there were for her to stay; in the attorney’s opinion. Afraid Jackie’s nasty comments and Peter’s overbearing presence, she’d always thought Kalinda would get tired of her. Get tired of the weekend arguments with Grace about going to Peter’s or Zach’s eye rolls when they said his girlfriend couldn’t be in his room. But the woman stayed. She complained sometimes, threatened to kill a few people, but she never once walked away. She never once said she wouldn’t deal with the kids on their worst days or Peter and Jackie on their bests. “I promised I’d love you until the day I died, and I don’t plan on breaking that promise,” she whispered, nuzzling the woman’s ear. Kissing her temple. Alicia rubbed the woman’s belly, feeling a deep sigh against her neck. “I will never want anyone else,” she whispered, as the woman stepped closer, clutching her shoulder tighter. The manicured nails finally pulling away from her skin, she could still feel the slight sting of pain as Kalinda’s hands moved lightly over her back. “You are beautiful.” She took Kalinda’s hand from around her neck and kissed the knuckles. Lifting her head to look at the younger woman’s face, but Kalinda cuddled further into her neck and chest. Her fingers brushed the investigator’s warm cheek, earning a slight smile in return. “More beautiful tonight than the first day I met you,” she purred in the young woman’s ear. Feeling Kalinda loosening her grip and allowing her to lean her head back against the wall. Her cheeks were flushed and her nose was pink. Alicia brushed the fresh tears that were beginning to fall again. Her face was warm to the touch. But for once tonight, Kalinda leaned into her hand, but her eyes were still furrowed. Her lips still parted and panting. “Diane told me she planned to put you on desk duty next week and let Robin handle all the field work.” She felt Kalinda tense for a moment before Alicia leaned forward, carefully nuzzling the investigator’s hot nose with her cold one. “Relax, baby. You asked me to dance when I was telling her it was something for you to do when you’re ready. I told her not to force you.” She could visibly see Kalinda’s body relax so she decided to continue, as she decorated her partner’s cheek and jaw with butterfly kisses. “I watched you dress this morning from the kitchen.” Kalinda sniffled, but raised an eyebrow out of reflex as if she didn’t believe her. Alicia allowed her to lean back against the wall as she felt a gentle kick to her own stomach and the investigator begin to try shifting her back. “You were trying to choose between your red lingerie and your green teddy.” And finally a half laugh, half sob broke past her lips. She knew Kalinda didn’t know that and she’d never planned to tell her. But watching her standing over their bed in her silk robe was too much not to share. “I was so turned on when you slipped into this one instead, I wanted to take you back to bed so badly.” She leaned closer, bracing herself against the wall to avoid their growing child and nipped lightly at Kalinda’s bottom lip. “I hadn’t wanted to get up this morning. I wanted to pull you into me and just feel you.” She kissed the corner of Kalinda’s mouth, earning a slight smile. “From now on, we’re setting the alarm thirty minutes earlier. I don’t feel right not showering with you in the morning.”

Kalinda was ashamed. She felt the guilt hit her like a lead weight sitting on her chest. She felt the knots twisting in her stomach. She let her head fall back against the wall. For a moment, she didn’t open her eyes, just allowed herself to feel Alicia’s lips on her chin and down her neck. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, before her partner captured her lips in a soft, slow kiss. Nothing had changed, sparks still flew behind her closed eyes, goosebumps still spread across her skin. “I’m a fucking mess,” she whimpered between Alicia’s gentle lips caressing her own and her trailing them back down her chilled neck. Between the nearly twenty minutes of vomiting that morning and having to take a cold shower to cool her burning skin, she hadn’t noticed Alicia watching her through the open bedroom door. She hadn’t even been awake enough to feel the woman’s eyes on her like she normally would. She’d kept her eyes closed for most of the ride to work, rubbing a hand over her belly, trying to calm their child’s flips and her increasing heartburn. Kalinda hadn’t bothered to reach for her partner’s hand while they were driving because she was too focused on not vomiting from her increasing headache. She could have sworn she felt Alicia’s eyes on her, but the thought hadn’t lasted long as she threw another ant acid in her mouth. She’d refused to take her sunglasses off as they rode to their floor in the crowded elevator. Not caring about the stares or offhanded comments. She didn’t talk to anyone but the attorney; her attorney. Everyone elses’ voices sending a deep pain down the back of her neck. Alicia hadn’t touched her back like she normally did, but she did whisper sweet words in her ear while she rubbed her temples. Telling her how much she loved her, how beautiful she was. She wrote her cute notes on her legal pad during the morning meeting and didn’t stop until she smiled. Alicia had bought her lunch and left it in her office because she knew Kalinda wouldn’t be able to leave the building for several hours. She even checked on her several times throughout the day just to make sure she was feeling better. She felt a few hot tears fall down her cheeks at the realization that despite not being touched or danced with, nothing else had changed. She had jumped without using her brain. “I’m awful,” she whimpered.

Alicia couldn’t stand to hear the words coming from her beautiful partners lips. She hated when Kalinda painted herself in a negative light, describing herself in ways that Alicia never would. Calling herself names and talking about herself like the attorney imagined Nick doing for so many years. She’d never called Kalind anything, but the sweet words of love she whispered in her ear every morning. Even on their worst days, she couldn’t imagine using her words to cut her partner’s soul. She’d felt offended, hurt, confused, and untrustworthy. All the things anyone would expect her to feel after being accused of stepping out on their partnership, but she’d never tell Kalinda any of it. She would never let the woman that wanted nothing more than to please her, to see how deep her accusations actually effected her. It would haunt her dreams for weeks. She would shake whenever Kalinda left the room. She would fear that she would decide not to come home when leaving the apartment alone. It would be closer to a month before everything in her brain and heart settled again. And even though Kalinda knew it hurt, she would never how the deep conversation of why. It wasn’t her fault she was acting the way she was acting in the first place. She could never blame her lover for feeling the way she was feeling. She couldn’t relate, but she could understand. Between the hormones, sickness, and bad communication it had created the perfect storm of doubt in her mind. She would never say it didn’t hurt her, but the rest of it would fade over the days to come. But the word ‘awful’ never popped into her head. Nothing about the investigator could ever be described as ‘awful’. She rested her forehead against Kalinda’s, shushing her ‘I’m sorrys’ and ‘what’s wrong with me’. The woman that had been put down in some way in every relationship she had been in, didn’t need any more doubt in her head. She didn’t need someone telling her what was wrong with her, or how she fucked up every time she felt bad about herself. She needed someone that would allow her to vent, allow her to question, and still be there in the end to reassure her that nothing she thought or said made her any less loved. “You did exactly what you should have done,” she whispered softly, moving the black curls behind Kalinda’s ear. Although hurt was the first feeling that settled in her chest, once Kalinda had started talking, she felt proud of her guarded partner. Proud that she’d told her what was on her mind, how she was feeling. Her hand left Kalinda’s belly, trailed slowly up her arm until her fingers rested below her chin. Caressing the skin of her neck. “You told me how you feel and we talked about it.” She kissed Kalinda’s lips again. This time the woman was ready to respond. She felt the investigator arch into her touch, searching for more as she tried to make the kiss last longer. “There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Kalinda half laughed, half sobbed as her over sensitive skin absorbed Alicia’s warm, gentle touch. As her over worked brain tried to remember every word Alicia whispered in her ear. It had taken her a long time to feel comfortable enough to express her feelings, even longer for her to be able to express them appropriately, and even though it got easier the more they talked, it still made her stomach twist in knots. It still made her fear that one wrong thing she said would send her partner running the other direction. One wrong emotion expressed and she would find herself cowering in a corner again. Her entire childhood she was told not to cry, not to whine; men didn’t like women that complained. No one would want her if she didn’t smile. No one would love her if she didn’t laugh even when she wanted to scream. When she married Nick, Kalinda had thought things would change, that he would listen as her husband. He treated her like she was the most important woman in the world while they were dating. Told her all the things she wanted to hear. He listened to her stories and wiped away her tears. It only took three months for the emotional abuse to start, ten until he hit her for the first time. He was the first and only man to ever last out at her physically. If she complained she got smacked. If she cried and yelled, most of the time she couldn’t remember what happened the next day, other than her head hurt and she had bruises around her neck. If she walked into his office during a meeting he took a belt to her legs, she still had the scars to show for it. And God forbid she tell a lie, a mistake she only made once. Alicia knew everything, dedicating herself to attending the therapy sessions and holding her hand. She was always gentle and patient with her. Rarely raising her voice unless they were disagreeing in the office, and it was never made personal. Alicia never raised a hand to her, and never once did Kalinda ever fear she would. If anything, the older woman babied her far too much most days. “God, you’re so good to me,” she whispered, as their baby finally settled under her ribs and her hands were able to trail up Alicia’s chest and hook around her neck again, bringing her body flush to Alicia’s. Her fingers playing in the loose strands falling from her bun. “I never believed...” She couldn’t even finish the sentence, instead she bit her lip and looked up at Alicia through her lashes. “I love you.”

Alicia hummed her agreement, nuzzling the woman’s cheeks and watching her turn pink. Inhaling the remnants of the woman’s perfume and something that smelled like honey. “Baby, you have no idea.” She could see the exhaustion in her young partners face. The skin around her eyes were starting to turn dark. Her eyes were beginning to water from stopping the yawns that continued to try and escape. “I have to stop myself at least ten times a day from texting you to let you know how much I love you,” she whispered against Kalinda’s cheek and smiling at the shiver she received in response. She was becoming more and more affectionate, pulling her closer, nuzzling into her neck. She could feel the woman breathing her in. Alicia hadn’t realized how hard and how long the young investigator had been analyzing and running her brain until her body was ready to give out. “I think it’s time for bed, love.”

Kalinda could feel the queasiness come and go as their baby flipped and stretched. The movements were slowing, but not enough for her to risk becoming vertical. If she laid down now, she’d risk heart burn and vomiting. And she was far too exhausted to handle either. “Baby hasn’t settled yet,” was all she needed to whisper. Alicia had been here twice before. And she was sure they both remembered having to wash their entire bed set because in the beginning their doctor said laying down would help.

Alicia wanted to run to the bathroom and grab whatever she could find that would make the young woman’s pain stop. She wished she could run to the store and get a magic pill to calm their child and lull the woman she loved to sleep. Instead, she listened to the radio and started to sway. Her hands traveling down to the investigator’s waist. “Then dance with me,” she whispered against Kalinda’s lips, catching the sweet smile, before softly sucking her bottom lip between her own. She took a step back, pulling Kalinda from the wall as the music got louder.

I see the questions in your eyes
I know what’s weighing on your mind
you can be sure I know my part
Cause I’ll stand beside you through the years
And you’ll only cry those happy tears
And though I’ll make mistakes,
I’ll never break your heart.

Kalinda nuzzled her nose behind Alicia’s ear. Smelling the remnants of the perfume she had dabbed there before the party. Her fingers started massaging the muscles in her partner’s stiff neck, smiling and kissing her sensitive skin as a small moan came from Alicia’s chest. The woman’s hands had wandered down her ribs and to her waist before settling on that spot at the base of her spine. Pulling her closer and causing a slight shiver to run through her exhausted body. Could feel her warm, wet breath ghosting over her bare neck and shoulder. “You’re all I’ll ever need.”

I swear
By the moon and the stars in the sky
I’ll be there
I swear
Like the shadow that’s by your side
I’ll be there
For better or worse
Till death do us part
I’ll love you with every beat of my heart
I swear

The guilt was beginning to set heavy in her chest. As she leaned back and saw the smile on Kalinda’s face. It was sleepy, but it was one of those rare smiles that Alicia swore caused the woman’s eyes to light up; almost glow. She was beautiful and Alicia couldn’t help hating herself a tiny bit for not giving her that joy hours ago. “You’ve been all I need for longer than you’ll ever believe,” she mumbled, glancing at the ceiling for a moment to calm the tears. As Kalinda’s fingers touched her face, caressing over her cheek, her eyes connected with hers again. Alicia had needed the young woman since she’d stumbled into her closet sized office and shaking her hand. She’d gone to the crime scene with her, walking her through each event in great detail. She’d gone with her to talk to witnesses that probably wouldn’t have talked to her otherwise. But it was the frequent notes and notes of support and advice that started that day, and continued, that she hadn’t realized she needed. Knowing someone was listening and watching her, jumping in at the first sign of distress, caused her confidence to build faster than if Kalinda hadn’t been there. She was safe. “You’ve given me more than I ever thought I deserved.”

I’ll give you everything I can
I’ll build your dreams with these two hands
We’ll hang some memories on the walls
And when
Just the two of us are there
You won’t have to ask if I still care
Cause as the time turns the page
My love won’t age at all.

Kalinda would believe just about anything she confessed because it surprised her every day when Alicia told her how she’d felt through out their friendship and into their relationship. It was something they frequently talked about late into the night. Old cases reminding them of late nights they had shared, most emotionally intimate, but some nights they shared careful touches. The nights they slept on the pull out couch in Kalinda’s office because Peter was home and still on house arrest. They would wake a few hours before everyone else arrive and shower in the gyms bathroom together. She’d felt their deep, electrical connection long before the divorce, long before Alicia really knew how she felt. The older woman was the first and only person in the office to calm her intense panic attacks and bring her back to reality in as little as ten minutes. Within the first week of Alicia’s employment, she had found her on the couch in her office, in the dark with her eyes closed and her hands over her ears. She had been in a state of hyper sensitivity since she’d woken that morning, palms sweating, fingers trembling. Alicia had walked in after everyone went to lunch, finding her panting and shaking. The older woman didn’t try to touch her, like so many did before. She sat on the floor in front of her, talking softly even humming a familiar tune toward the end. Alicia is the only person who just knows what she needs and how she needs it. She’d never had to be told, coached, or taught. She’d just always known. “I’m safe with you,” she whispered as their baby did one last flip before settling on her left side.

And I swear
By the moon and the stars in the sky
I’ll be there
And I swear
Like the shadow that’s by your side
I’ll be there

Alicia couldn’t stop the smile from spreading across her lips. “We even think the same,” she muttered, kissing the woman’s warm forehead as she laid her head on her shoulder. It’s not the first time they thought the same, finished each other’s sentences, even said how the other felt before they even knew they felt it. It was eerie for some, a unique quality in a relationship to others. To them, it’s just how it’s always been. “How do you think I survive court every day?” After her face was plastered all over the news, in every magazine, and on every radio station even going to the grocery store caused her heart to race in embarrassment. Having people stare at her when she walks down the streets or drops her children off at school. The whispers of the other mothers and harsh words from some of the teachers reached deeper than she would ever let them see. “You were the only person that was every just on my side. You never expected anything. You only ever asked for my trust. My patience.” Going to work for a place, for a man, that she once had a relationship with, that knew most of her secrets was more difficult than she ever showed. She was ashamed she’d allowed herself to be suckered in by a man only to be ‘saved’ by another. She saw the looks most of the men in the office gave her when she first started. They were begging for her to jump, almost falling over themselves waiting for her to say fuck her marriage and choose one of them. The women pitied her, that was the only word she could use to describe it. They looked at her like she was a widow in 1850s France, no skills and no options. Like she wasn’t worth anything without having a man standing beside her. Alicia could say that was what she hated most about the entire scandal, but there were a thousand things that almost broke her. That almost made her give up and let her mother-in-law have her way and help her. Finding out someone else was supposed to be hired in her place didn’t help build her confidence or feel any less judged by the people around her. If it hadn’t been for Will and Kalinda, she wouldn’t have even been given the chance. “You gave me my life back and you didn’t even know it,” she whispered in her ear, the investigator sigh against her neck. Kalinda had been her only constant. No matter how messed up her life was at home or the rumors going around at work, Kalinda never wavered. Her loyalty stayed where it had landed, right at Alicia’s side.

For better or worse
Till death do us part
I’ll love you with every beat of my heart
I swear

Alicia watched Kalinda’s face as her eyes began to flutter closed and her hand drifted down to her chest. She knew her heart was pounding and she knew the investigator felt it immediately as her fingers began making random patterns against her bare skin. “Baby finally settle down?” She only received a low hum in response as she tucked her hand under her chin. And as much as she wanted to get Kalinda in bed and off her feet, she wanted to hold and rock her a little longer. So she hummed along to the end of the song, pulling the pins from her hair and dropping them on the floor with gentle clicks until the curls finally tumbled down.

I swear
By the moon and the stars in the sky
I’ll be there
And I sweat
Like the shadow that’s by your side
I’ll be there

Alicia kissed the top of her head once more time. Instead of opening her eyes, Kalinda only cuddled closed and whimper softly. “Let’s get in bed,” she whispered, taking a small step back only to have Kalinda whine and rub her eyes with the back of her hand. Alicia was careful, allowing the investigator to lead her; taking a step only after Kalinda did. She tucked the woman in, switching the electric blanket on low before undressing herself. She stayed in her panties, wanting to feel as much of Kalinda’s skin against her own as possible.

For better or worse
Till death do us part
I’ll love you with every beat of my heart
I swear

She decided to let the radio play as she pulled back the blankets and climbed into the already warming bed. She didn’t have to be asked as she turned out the light to move as close as she could to her partners back. Alicia dropped an arm over Kalinda’s waist, her hand cradling the bottom of her belly. Burying her face in the woman’s hair and listening to her stressed partner’s breathing finally even out was a moment she would always cherish. “Sweet dreams, beautiful.” And in the morning, long after she should have been up wrapping gifts, she was unwrapping the most precious gift she’d ever received.