DISCLAIMER: The Good Wife and its characters are the property of CBS. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Vague spoilers for the end of season 2.
FEEDBACK: To Tamoline[at]gmail.com
The Dating Game
Kalinda had always known that this 'going out' thing would lead to trouble.
Her first mistake had been leaving them alone for a few minutes. Actually, no. Her first mistake was probably letting them meet at all.
That, of course, was all Alicia's fault.
Meg, Zach and Ciara had proved that she was a little out of touch with the dating game.
Hunting and catching was one thing. Flirting, seducing, sex... Those things she had no problem with. None of them required her to give up anything of herself.
Honestly, it was why she preferred casual encounters.
But this thing that she was trying now? This actual relationship thing? It needed so much more than that. It felt like it needed her to be honest and open, even if she didn't know the other person well enough to be able to gauge the risks.
And she just couldn't do it.
She tried, she really did, but once she felt that she'd revealed too much -- anything at all, really -- she left and never saw them again.
But maybe she could fake it. Letting people believe what they wanted about her was nothing new. And, later (maybe), it could evolve to something more.
(It had happened that way with Alicia, after all.)
There was a certain point at which stretching to relieve the crick in your neck was probably more trouble than it was worth. Kalinda suspected that she was rapidly approaching that point after hours of sorting through paperwork for the latest case. From the expression on Alicia's face as she stretched, her colleague (friend) had passed that point some time ago.
Kalinda was unsurprised to note that she continued stretching anyway.
There was a low hum, and Kalinda's phone vibrated.
It was a text from Marie. 'Where are you?'
Kalinda stifled a groan. They were supposed to meet up at nine. It was already ten past, and there wasn't any end in sight to the work she needed to get done before tomorrow.
Before she could type out a half-hearted apology and return to yet more looking through endless stacks of paper, Alicia asked, "Who's that?"
Kalinda's first response was to clam up. Second too, truth be told. The third...
Things still felt like they were stabilising between her and Alicia, and she didn't want to throw them off now.
What could it hurt?
The answer came swiftly, and was just as quickly regretted as Alicia's eyes brightened with mischief. "You have a girlfriend? And you're telling me about her? You..." she mimed wiped a tear from her face, "You don't know how much this means to me."
Kalinda started to feel the too-familiar sweet sense of doom that came from letting Alicia anywhere near her private life. She really should have learned by now.
"Does anyone else in the office know?"
Kalinda gave her a look which plainly said that there was no chance of letting anyone else in the office know anything about her private life.
Alicia was definitely bad enough.
"I feel so honoured," Alicia sighed. "So, when can I meet her?"
Kalinda aimed a look of disbelief at her, trying to suggest that was likely to happen shortly after the sun burnt out.
Alicia, of course, ignored her. Just as she did whenever she deemed it convenient.
"Are lunchtimes good for her? I could book a table for the three of us for Thursday or Friday. Would either of those work for you?"
None, none of this was working for Kalinda.
"Maybe it could an apology for another woman stealing you away from her this evening," Alicia gave her a grin which had far too much of a smirk about it for Kalinda's comfort.
And no, Kalinda was not planning trying to sell Marie on the idea that way.
And when had this started being about Kalinda selling Marie on anything?
"So, you'll let me know?" Alicia actually had the gall the inflect it as a question.
"Sure," Kalinda said, feeling distinctly hunted.
Daniel and Samantha had lasted a little longer, but all too soon her limited time and need for distance had stalled those relationships.
(Daniel had also tried to control the pace of their relationship a little too much for Kalinda's comfort. She'd smiled, fucked him silly and then ignored his follow up calls.)
Leaving the two of them together had definitely compounded the error.
She returned to find Alicia levelling an icy glare at Marie. Marie looked like she attempting to return the favour, but the best that could be said was that it was a valiant effort. Not that anything could really compete with what Kalinda privately called the 'Alicia death glare'.
Kalinda briefly reflected that Alicia really needed to deal with her anger issues at some point. Preferably far away from her.
Events had definitely started spiralling out of her control, and she hated that feeling more than anything.
"Hey," she said to Alicia, meaning 'what's up?'
It became immediately apparent that this had been her second mistake. (Or third. But who was counting anyway?)
Marie, apparently less than happy that Kalinda was addressing the enemy, attempted to take her possessively by the arm. She was even less impressed by Kalinda shrugging free. Before Kalinda could say anything (if she had been planning on saying anything), Marie was storming off with a frustrated huff.
Kalinda herself still wasn't exactly sure where or why the battle lines had been drawn in the first place. She looked to Alicia, who was uncharacteristically refusing to meet her gaze.
"I guess I'll see you back at the office?" she ventured.
Alicia offered a tight smile. "I'll probably be busy the rest of the afternoon. Filing some paperwork." She paused, then continued, a little weakly, "I guess you'd better go see to your... ah, Marie."
Kalinda took the hint and left.
Marie proved to be a little harder to calm down than Kalinda really cared to try. When ultimatums started flying, Kalinda abruptly turned and left without a word.
So that was the end of that.
She'd always thought that she wasn't cut out for life as part of a couple -- she'd sworn that she was never going to be confined, controlled, restricted again, and relationships had always been nothing but -- and this had just confirmed it.
Kalinda had always been perfectly fine sitting on the edges, looking in.
Anyway, it had been completely Alicia's fault that she'd started this ill-fated attempt at negotiating these rocky shores in the first place.
Nathan hadn't seemed to have had a problem with her hours, or her dictating how things progressed, but he'd turned out to be a little too... spontaneous for Kalinda's tastes.
Interesting, even. (A curse word in Kalinda's opinion when it came to almost intimates.)
Having someone close to her that she couldn't predict brought her out in hives.
"Have you ever thought," Alicia said slowly, examining how her shot glass sparkled in the light, "About, y'know."
Kalinda looked on with amusement. Alicia in these moods was almost cute, if Kalinda were to admit that anything or anyone was ever cute. Which she didn't. But if she did...
She would have to admit that she might have had one drink (or several) too many. But this, drinking after work with Alicia again, was still too new a thing for her not to savour it.
"Not really, no."
Alicia turned around to look at her. "Really? You've never even thought about it?" The idea appeared to cause her some distress.
"I don't even know what we're speaking about," she admitted.
"Oh." Alicia paused a second. "Relationships."
Kalinda just stared at Alicia for a moment. Then she abruptly swallowed the rest of her drink and signalled for another. There was no way she was drunk enough for this talk yet.
After downing the fresh drink, she replied, "It never works out. Everyone betrays you or lets you down." Or Kalinda let them down.
If she never let anyone in, she couldn't betray their trust. That thought always burned too close to the surface when Alicia was around.
Alicia gently lay one hand over Kalinda's. Strangely, Kalinda didn't feel the impulse to pull away.
She must have been more drunk than she'd thought.
"You should try it. When it's good, when you have someone you can trust, it can make you feel so... complete. I just know you have so much to offer. You're a good person."
Kalinda offered her a tight smile, and slid her hand out from underneath Alicia's. "I'm really not."
But the next morning, Alicia's words stayed with her. Not that she was a good person, but how opening up, trusting someone might make her feel...
How the empty months without Alicia had reminded her of the gaping spaces within, of the difference that someone, a friend, could make.
Maybe Alicia had a point. How it might be worth reaching out, finding someone who could make her feel like, well, Alicia made her feel.
Not Alicia herself, of course. Their relationship was entirely platonic.
She'd be careful, of course. Shield herself, make sure she was safe from unwanted pain.
So, with grit, determination and just a little trepidation, she entered into the dating game.
Marie had actually lasted some time, and Kalinda had honestly thought that she might be the one, or at least she could become the one. But even she'd become frustrated that Kalinda hadn't made any progress at letting her in. Constantly being late and, on occasion, turning up smelling of alcohol (because Kalinda certainly wasn't giving up her evenings with Alicia) hadn't helped.
She'd tried the relationship thing. It just wasn't for her.
And that was fine.
Alicia caught up with her the next morning, stopping her in the corridor with a raised hand that almost, but not quite, touched her arm.
"Listen, hey, I'm sorry about yesterday and the.. thing."
Kalinda favoured her with her usual slight smile. "No problem." Alicia didn't look entirely convinced. "Really. It's... no longer an issue."
Alicia looked like she wanted to ask for details, but didn't quite dare in the middle of the workplace. "Well, if you're sure..."
"I am." But things still felt a little off between them, and that made Kalinda feel... nervous. For want of a better word. "Think you'll be around after work?"
Alicia started fumbling in her handbag. "I have to see if Owen can take care of the kids... but I'll try. I'll let you know?"
Kalinda tilted her head, meaning yes, then changed the subject. All this... personal talk in the office made her feel like someone was aiming a gun at her. "I might have something on the Wilmot case for you in a bit," she said, which meant 'going now' and turned and headed briskly away.
As she turned the corner, she couldn't help a brief, surreptitious glance over her shoulder. Alicia was still facing in her direction, her expression closed-off.
Something was definitely still off kilter between them.
Kalinda didn't let herself think about it.
Drinks in the evening didn't seem to be helping. At least, it wasn't helping Kalinda feel any better. All evening long, she had the distinct feeling that Alicia was skating around something, circling an area that had Kalinda somewhere in the middle.
Quite frankly, it was beginning to give her phantom cramps from all the metaphorical twisting she was doing to keep Alicia in sight.
And she still had no idea where this was all headed.
The feeling of not being control was acutely uncomfortable, and she would have just cut and run hours ago...
If it had been anyone else...
If she didn't just want things to be easy between her and Alicia again.
The contradictory impulses felt like they were tearing her apart, and so it was a moment before she realised Alicia had stopped speaking and was just looking at her.
She quickly went over what Alicia had been saying for the last few moments.
"... just had one of those moments when everything changes, and nothing looks the same again."
Words aside, it didn't sound like Alicia wanted a response, so Kalinda stifled the impulse to say 'All the time, around you.'
Maybe she was just thinking about what she wanted to say next.
Maybe she was even getting to the point where she'd just say what was bothering her.
Or maybe she'd start leaning in towards Kalinda.
For a perfectly rational, completely obvious reason that utterly escaped Kalinda at this precise moment.
Alicia's lips brushed Kalinda's.
And Kalinda's mind smoothly disconnected, because. This. Could. Not. Be. Happening.
In the time it took for what remained of her senses to rally and insist that, no, this wasn't a dream or a fantasy or a drunken hallucination, Alicia had already jumped back with a squeak, gathered her things and left in a flurry of flushed cheeks and apologies.
Kalinda's head almost dragged itself around to see Alicia disappearing out of the door, presumably to get a taxi home.
This was not how it was going to happen.
This was not going to be Alicia's fault.
This was something that Kalinda was going to own for herself.
In a series of rapid clicks, Kalinda closed the distance to where Alicia was miserably huddled out on the edge of the sidewalk.
Alicia glanced back, then hunched in a little more as if, with sufficient effort, she might disappear altogether.
Kalinda touched her gently on the shoulder, and as Alicia looked up, Kalinda closed the gap and kissed her back.
Utterly lacking in craft or artifice.
It was the kind of kiss that left Kalinda feeling naked, exposed, vulnerable.
The kind of kiss she hated.
The kind of kiss left that her toes curled, that blanked out the rest of world in a dim haze, that left her shaking.
Good or bad, hard to tell at the moment.
"See you at work tomorrow," she whispered against Alicia's lips, then turned and left, heels clicking sharply on the pavement.
She managed to make it around the corner before she had to find a gutter in which to retch.
She hated (loved) being out of control like this.
Tomorrow was going to be an interesting day.
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