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
SEQUEL: To The Dating Game
This is a mistake, I think.
Kalinda is looking at me with those large, expressive eyes, waiting for me to continue.
This is a mistake, I think.
And then I make it anyway.
I lean forward and, driven by a mixture of anger, stubbornness and alcohol, press my lips to hers.
Her unresponsive lips.
This is a mistake, I think.
And with the third repetition, the spell is broken and I realise just what I've done.
"Oh my god, I'm so sorry." I grab for a serviette as if I've spilled something, as if I can wipe off the gross faux pas I've committed upon my friend, my best friend. I drop it again as I realise quite how silly that is. "Look, I have to get home now. If we can just forget..."
I lose my train of thought temporarily as I notice that she still hasn't moved, hasn't even reacted to what I've done.
I helplessly wave at her and flee. It's really the only logical thing to do.
I can't believe I just did that. What had I been thinking?
Oh, yes. Marie and her poisonous little words. Warning me away from Kalinda, saying that I was no good for her, that I hurt her more than made her happy. That she would keep Kalinda away from me.
I've never taken threats well. To me or mine.
(And when, precisely, did Kalinda become mine?)
Why did I ever believe her when she intimated that Kalinda had a thing for me?
(And why did part of me want it to be true?)
Enough questions. I have to get out of here before I do something else almost as stupid. (So stupid.)
This was all a mistake, and I'll try and explain it to Kalinda as soon as I've sobered up and can enumerate exactly why this was such a mistake.
A rapid clicking from behind me causes me to tense.
Maybe it's not her. (A glance back. It is.)
Maybe she's not actually heading in my direction. (She is.)
Maybe if I just concentrate hard enough on the road, a taxi will miraculously arrive before she gets here. (It doesn't)
A touch on the shoulder, and it's too late. She's there, focussed, intent.
A movement, and she's kissing me.
Hard, passionate, there.
It sucks the breath from my body. The sense from my brain, because I'm kissing her back, in a way that I can't, that I shouldn't.
It is nothing like what I might have imagined. It is everything that I might have dreamed.
I can feel myself shutting down, withdrawing.
I can't do this.
Maybe she can read that in my eyes, has mercy on me, because she stops.
"See you in work tomorrow," she whispers against my lips, her breath causing a full body shudder.
And then she's gone, and only I am left, smaller, huddled on the sidewalk.
A taxi arrives and I stumble in.
If I try hard enough, I can pretend that the only intoxication is from the alcohol running through my veins.
Morning comes, after a night broken by restless dreams.
As I stretch, I'm reminded that I'm far too old for this. Far too old to be having a sexual identity crisis. Far too old to become infatuated with one of my friends.
(To have feelings like that for my best friend.)
But maybe it was just a bad dream.
(And I don't want it to be.)
In any case, I'm going to have to face the results of my insanity today.
The chaos of home life awaits me as I step out my door, with an entirely too energetic 'Hi, Mom!' from Grace and a distracted grunt from Zach.
I pause a moment, to just collect myself among the two centres of my life, before helping Zach find his missing school book and sneaking a picture of Grace in a just too perfect moment of total concentration.
This is why I'm here. This is why I work. This is what's important.
This... thing with Kalinda can't be allowed to interfere with this, with them.
I've made this mistake before. I won't allow myself to make it again.
"Mom, could you pick up Grace this afternoon?" Zach asks in a slightly plaintive tone.
I sigh. "I'm really not certain I'll have the time. Are you sure you can't do it?"
"I'm going to see Greg after school, remember? I was hoping to just go straight there."
Time. Greg. How could I forget? How could I forget how Kalinda's already touched even my home?
The door gently closing interrupted the increasingly frustrating conversation cycle I seemed to have gotten myself into with my client.
I took a breath and made myself focus. This was not getting me anywhere.
"Thank you, Mr Stolze," I tried again. "I'll take your instructions under advisement." If I couldn't get him to find some other way of committing financial suicide than by using our firm. "But I really need to complete the final preparations now, otherwise we will not be ready for tomorrow's trial." I glanced around and saw that the intruder was Kalinda, regarding me silently. "And now, if you will excuse me, I need to talk with my colleague."
He huffed and blustered a bit more, but something, whether the interruption, Kalinda's presence or maybe even sanity (however unlikely), had taken some of the steam out of him.
"I'll see you tomorrow, then. Nine o'clock sharp, you hear me?"
"Of course, Mr Stolze."
And then he was gone, leaving me alone with Kalinda.
"Thank you so much," I sighed. "Much longer and I would have been tempted to commit homicide."
It was a rare client that could get under my skin in that way, but it happened.
"Always happy to help keep the firm's insurance rates down."
"So, how can I help you?"
Her eyes flickered to the clock, and I saw that it was ten past five. The kids! Zach's car was at the shop, and I had promised to go and get them.
I was such an awful mother.
"Oh god," I said, and went to grab my things. Kalinda watched as I fumbled with my phone, expecting it to be flooded with missed calls from my abandoned offspring. Much to my surprise, though, there was only a single message waiting for me.
'Hi Mom. Just to let you know, Kalinda picked us up. See you at home.'
Zach's voice. Perfectly calm, not a trace of panic. He sounded bored, actually. Or preoccupied. It was hard to tell with him, sometimes.
I sagged in relief, then looked up at my saviour.
"Thank you so much. Again. You really shouldn't have."
She shrugged. "You looked like you'd be some time. And it was on the way to something."
I looked at her sharply. Going from here to the school and then back to the apartment is such a massive V that I very much doubted it was on the way to anything.
She returned the look impassively before one side of her mouth curled up slightly. "Besides, if I'd disturbed you, you wouldn't have had all those hours of fun with that client."
I closed my eyes. "I hate you. Utterly and sincerely." I opened them again. "I hope they weren't any trouble."
She gave me a look as if to ask 'As compared to the people I usually deal with?'
"There was one thing I wanted to talk to you about," she said, her eyes flicking away slightly.
Showing such signs of evasiveness was unusual for her, to say the least. "What is it?"
"Zach's interest in computers. I know a guy, Greg, who owes me a few favours. Tech firm. Might be able to give him a few pointers." She shrugged a little uncomfortably, as though she was feeling exposed. "I hear that kind of thing is useful for college applications."
The stress of the day almost evaporated from me, and, for a moment, I wanted to hug her. The urge passed, though, and all I offered was a genuine smile. "That would be wonderful. I'm sure Zach would love that. Did you speak with him about it?"
"I thought I'd check with you first."
"I'll bring it up with him tonight, and get back to you with an answer tomorrow. Unless..." I favoured her with a contemplative look.
"Unless... what?" she asked a little nervously.
"Unless you want to come over for dinner tonight, and talk to him about it yourself?"
Her eyes widened a little, and she shook her head slightly. "That's alright."
My smile became a grin. "It's really the least I can do, after all you've done today."
She looked like she was beginning to regret doing anything.
My grin acquired a slight, mischievous, edge. "And I do mean all."
After all, I hadn't forgotten her leaving me in a room with Mr Stolze for a couple of unnecessary hours this afternoon. Throwing her into the chaos of a Florrick family dinner really was the least I could do.
"Any food preferences I should know about?"
Her shoulders slumped slightly, and I knew I'd won.
I grabbed her hand unthinkingly, interlacing her fingers easily with mine. "Come on. I'm sure that the kids would love having you over."
She favoured me with a withering stare, softened only by a glimmer of amusement in her eyes.
Tonight promised to be a fun night.
I don't know.
Maybe she'd be able to add to my family, not take away.
Maybe it wouldn't just be a case of being stretched too thin, being distracted all the time.
Maybe I can't just blithely use my family as a reason to not even think about last night.
(An excuse to not even consider going forward with... whatever.)
But Zach's still waiting for my response.
"I'll see if I have time."
He grimaces a little at my lack of a definite answer.
"I'll try my best, honey, but you know how work can get. And you knew this might be part of the responsibility of having your own car."
He glowers down at the table a little, but mutters (with only a hint of sulkiness), "Fine."
"Thank you." I give him a smile and a hug, and then it's off to work.
The office feels like it should be tense, like it should be different.
It isn't, of course, not yet (Kalinda notable by her absence so far), but it feels like it should all the same.
It's almost mid-morning before we actually cross paths, and the awkwardness is immediately apparent. I'm having problem even looking in her direction without discomfort, let alone at her face.
From the looks of things, she's having similar difficulties.
This is why we can't do this.
This is the problem with even contemplating anything like this with someone from where you work.
And I did far more than contemplating last night.
(As did she. Oh my, did she.)
You would really have thought that I'd already learned my lesson on this score.
We need to clear the air, soon.
I can't lose her support.
I can't lose her friendship.
(I can't lose her. Not again.)
"Hey, Kalinda," I say, walking up to her.
She focusses on me, eyes a little wide, a little deer-in-headlights, before her face smooths again and she gives me a nod of acknowledgement.
"Any chance I can treat you to a meal for lunch? As thanks for your work on the Tynes case."
There is a brief flicker of nervousness behind her eyes, and I try to make my smile as reassuring as possible.
We just need to deal with last night like mature adults, I try and communicate to her.
It can't be that hard, can it?
I'm not sure exactly what she picks up, but she gives me a brief nod anyway.
"Swing by my office at one, then?"
Another nod, accompanied by the kind of smile she would offer to a client or coworker.
That's probably a good sign. Really.
(But it stings a little anyway.)
One o'clock arrives, and then five past, without the usually prompt Kalinda gracing my office.
Maybe she's caught up in a case, I think, though the lack of so much as a text hurts a little.
Maybe we won't be fine after all.
At least, not immediately.
I'm not going to give up, though. This mess is all my fault.
Ten past arrives, and I'm about ready to go to lunch without her (or wait for another five minutes, just in case, just because) when she slides through the doorway.
"Sorry," she offers up, only that, but her eyes flicking around the office say so much more.
Any irritation I might have been feeling disappears.
She's here, and that's all that matters.
She's here, and I have a chance to make this right.
"Shall we go?" I ask, and the look she offers me in return is something in between relief and resignation.
Lunch is a stilted affair. Neither of us seem to be in the mood for small talk, but neither of us seems willing to approach the elephant in the room.
Finally I've had enough.
"Look, we need to talk about what happened last night."
"What did happen last night?" she asks coolly.
I fight down a blush because I'm far too old for that kind of thing. I take a breath and say, "I kissed you," and manage to resist the urge to look around to see who else might have heard me.
She searches my face for... something for a moment, then says, "I kissed you."
"I kissed you first," I correct and see her about to object, "But this is besides the point. We kissed each other." Another breath. "What are we going to do now?" The last comes out a bit more strangled than I'd like.
Again, another careful look, and she offers, cautiously, "If we... moved forward, it would be a workplace relationship." She doesn't use the word romance and she doesn't need to use the word another.
Another is a word that's already hanging in the air between us. Neither of us needs to bring up the complications that the last one added to my life.
It pushes me into making a decision, the decision that I've been telling myself I should make ever since I woke up this morning, the decision that I somehow never managed to finalise. "It would be a bad idea," I say.
Her shoulders sag a little, and I almost reach over to comfort her before realising how many mixed signals it would send. "It's what I've gone with in the past," she says tonelessly.
I almost bring up Peter's name, but swallow it with difficulty. It wouldn't help anything, and...
I don't want to hurt her. I really don't. It's just this situation...
(Which I caused.)
I'm doing the best thing, I tell myself. For both of us.
"It's just a hiccup," I tell her.
(I tell myself.)
Her mask back in place after its momentary lapse, she regards me almost impassively. "What else could it be?"
What else indeed?
"Good." I give her a strained smile.
She returns me a smile just as false, puts some bills on the table, gets up and leaves without another word.
I did the right thing, didn't I?
Work feels that much quieter, colder, emptier with the almost sure knowledge that I won't be seeing her around.
But it would be worse if things went bad. The prior... disagreement between us was bad enough, but this time I wouldn't be able to tell myself that I hated her.
(I didn't and I don't.)
(But it was easier, so much easier, letting her being a convenient target for the anger that I couldn't aim anywhere else.)
Why am I even still going over this? I've made my decision. I've got to protect myself, my job, my career.
All things she's helped me with in the past.
"I hear Diane's got you meeting Ms Detwiller tonight," came Kalinda's voice from the doorway.
I jumped a little, and then tried to reinter the feelings I'd been suppressing all day.
It only took a second, but when I looked up I saw her looking at me closely with eyes that were far too expressionless.
"Hey," she said softly.
"Hi, Kalinda. What can I do for you?"
She looked at me quietly for a few seconds, waiting, waiting, waiting. "So?" she asked.
Oh, yes. "You've heard, then."
Kalinda rolled her eyes slightly as if to say 'Obviously.'
I was distinctly off my game this evening. I would've liked to have been able to blame Kalinda's sudden appearance, but...
Kalinda put one hand down on the desk, cautiously, as though the surface might burn her, just a little distance from my own. There was a file tucked under her other arm, held close to her chest.
"Is there...?" she said, trailing off.
It's enough. "It's... just these d..." I caught myself. I was a little more upset than I'd thought. "Networking meetings. I know that this kind of things are necessary if I'm to become a partner, especially since I'm playing catchup, but some of the things I have to do, some of the things I have to imply..." Some of the ways I had to say that I'd use my 'contacts', Peter. "It just leaves me feeling..."
Dirty. Like I didn't want to look at myself in the mirror. Like I wasn't quite myself anymore.
Kalinda moved her hand closer, so it was just touching mine and stared me intently in the eyes. "You can do this. You can beat them."
'I have faith in you.' Unspoken, but loud anyway.
I took a breath. She was right. I was being silly. And now I felt more than a little foolish.
"Oh god. Can we please just forget that ever happened?"
Kalinda twitched her shoulder as if to say 'What happened?'
"I brought you a file you might find useful. Just a few details about Ms Detwiller."
I looked at her sharply. "Did Diane ask you to do this?" I had been under the impression that her and Ms Detwiller were on friendly terms.
"What Diane doesn't know..."
Oddly, Kalinda doing this for me by herself made me feel even better than if Diane had put her up to it.
"Thank you," I said, sincerely, warmly. "Would you like to go out for," not a drink, not a meal, "A coffee?"
She looked at me for a moment, and then shrugged minutely. "Sure."
A ghost of a smile. "You'll turn my head with gifts like that."
I rolled my eyes. "Like just a coffee would ever do that. I'd at least have to throw in a pastry."
The slight widening of her smile was as good as a laugh.
What would I do without her?
It seems like she's always there for me. And I... I can't say the same.
Not that she makes it easy, of course.
But she wasn't telling me what she was thinking this lunchtime. Because lord forbid that she actually talk about her feelings.
But the kiss last night...
She always seems so much in control. And that kiss wasn't.
(Wonderful as it was.)
I need to talk with her again and get this sorted out. Try to be there for her as much as she'll let me.
She pauses for a second at the corner of the corridor, as if uncertain whether or not to disappear around it.
"Can I speak with you a moment?"
I'm attracting attention from the other people in the office. Doubtless they think that this is work related, but I still feel a slight flush of embarrassment.
This is entirely too public for my comfort, let alone what Kalinda must be feeling.
But this is important. We need to have another talk. Kalinda's been avoiding me all afternoon.
Not that I can blame her.
My gamble works. She stops, turns slightly, raises an eyebrow a little as if to say 'Can I help you?'
"Can we talk in my office?"
She pauses a moment, contemplatively, then gives me a coolly professional smile. "I'm just on my way out for a case. Can it wait?"
No. No it can't.
I give her an equally professional smile back. "That's alright. I'll fill you in on the details on the way down."
Her eyes widen just a little, then her face becomes a mask again. "Sure." She starts off towards the elevator.
Call my bluff, will you?
I start off after her. "There's just a few more details from the matter we discussed earlier that I'd like to follow up on."
Like what you feel about this.
Her pace increases, as if she can outdistance my question.
I match her.
She speeds up again.
Before this can get ridiculous, we're at the elevator.
It wouldn't do my dignity any good to be seen actually running after Kalinda.
Everything pauses for a few seconds (an eternity), and then Kalinda turns around, her eyes flicking over my face.
"What do you want?" she asks softly.
There are so many answers to that question that bubble up from within. But only one that seems right.
I wait until the elevator arrives and we're safely inside it before answering.
"What do you think about the idea of..." I wave a hand in the air vaguely.
"We've already had this talk."
"No, I told you what I thought." And I might have been wrong about that. "What would you want?"
She looks at me, quickly, before finding something fascinating on the wall opposite. "You can't ask me that," she says huskily, almost whispering.
"Because." She takes a breath, quick, fast, hard. "Because we already decided that we can't do this."
But apparently 'we' decided no such thing.
"What if-" It's my turn to take a breath, to force words past a throat suddenly thick and uncooperative. "What if I was wrong?"
She spins around to look at me, eyes intense, full of... something that I can't or won't name. "You can't do this to me," she almost hisses. "It's not fair."
I drop my eyes. "It's just... I'm not sure what my answer is any more."
"What does that even mean?"
It's a good question.
My instinctive response has always been to be conservative.
To say 'no' to anything new.
To concentrate on my family, my work. And I'm entirely too old to start wondering if I'm attracted to women. (Woman.)
Kalinda has added to, not taken away from, my family.
She has supported, without controlling, me at work. She's part of the reason I'm still employed here.
And, really, aren't I too old to hide from what I want, rather than embracing it?
"It means that..." The elevator seems far too tight all of a sudden. "I'd like to explore this with you. Wherever you want to take it."
But the simple truth is that I trust her.
The breath puffs out of her, and she supports herself with one trembling hand. She looks like she's trapped, like she's being offered something both horrifying and irresistible at the same time.
She swallows, once, twice, then manages to pull her mask back on. "I need to think about it."
As answers go, my common sense insists that it's not a bad one. We need to be careful. We need to be sure.
It's frustrating as hell, of course.
I feel like I've put myself out there, and been left hanging.
But that's not important.
Kalinda is, and she looks like she's half a heartbeat away from a breakdown.
"That's fine," I say softly. "Take all the time you need."
Anything I can do to help. Anything at all.
The elevator pings and opens to reveal the carpark.
Kalinda steps out.
Then turns around and steps back in.
"Yes," she says, looking at me steadily.
I blink. "To what?"
"Just... yes," she says, leaning in to kiss me.
Return to The Good Wife Fiction
Return to Main Page