DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
SPOILERS: Sometime in Season 3, I think. Apparently I didn't note down what episode I wrote this after. My bad.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To procrastinatingsith[at]gmail.com
The Push and Pull
Alicia's thighs stuck together as she walked. It was annoying. It didn't hinder the satisfied - dare she think it - even smug smile that curved across her lips as she walked toward her car. There was a roll in her hips that hadn't been there in years.
The sex with Peter was good and Alicia was enjoying every moment of it - hands sliding up her thighs, rough over panty hose; the way his breath caught when she took him in her hand; and that moment of release, pure and perfect, where she didn't have to think. All she could do was feel. There was relief too. She didn't have to constantly look over her shoulder to make sure she and Peter weren't seen together. Sneaking around was actually fun again, pleasure for pleasure's sake. She had broken it off with Will because it had stopped being fun. It had become too real, far too quickly. Pleasure had been tainted by guilt. If Alicia hadn't cared about cheating on Peter, then there had been some small part of her that still cared about cheating on her marriage.
That part had been countered by the one that was furious beyond all reason at Peter. It turned out that fucking hookers and (allegedly) doing drugs wasn't enough to make Alicia crack and lose it. Nope, that was finding out that the woman who was the closest thing to a best friend Alicia had, the person that Alicia hadn't realized she trusted the most until she discovered she couldn't trust her at all, had fucked her husband years before. When Kalinda was...whoever Kalinda was then - a married woman - and she, Alicia, had thought Peter was still a loyal, loving husband.
It was funny - funny-strange, not funny-amusing. Once Alicia had thought she would never be able to stand Peter's touch again, much less have sex with him again, without thinking of the other women that he had slept with. Prostitutes. Women he had accepted as gifts, bribes, in exchange for services rendered. It had made her skin crawl just thinking about having sex with Peter, and for a long time sex wasn't even something she had wanted to contemplate.
Maybe it had been that shock - the surge of desire as startling as being able to feeling desire again - that had made her affair with Will so heady. It was like being a teenager again; Alicia just wanted. Being able to feel that again with Peter didn't mean that she was ready to define what they were doing. And Alicia definitely wasn't prepared to move back into the house they had once owned with Peter. She had changed too much to go back - whatever that might mean.Right now she just wanted to do what felt good, and for now that was having sex with Peter. No strings attached.
Alicia bit her lip as she opened the door of her car and slipped inside, her thighs brushing together again. It was an unsatisfying feeling as she remembered Peter's hand between her legs, stroking through her wetness, undeniable proof of how much she had wanted it. The RV door hadn't even been locked. Alicia had thought about it when she came in, but as much as she knew what she had intended when she called Peter about stopping by earlier, she hadn't been sure what she would do. One false step, one presumption too far or comment gone wrong and Alicia would have been back out the door again with Peter none the wiser as to what she had been thinking. Knowing the door was unlocked had only ratcheted up the tension as Peter rucked her skirt up around her hips. It had made her heart beat faster as Peter thrust into her. Her breath had caught and sweat pooled at the base of her spine, laughter bubbling up in her.
Alicia swallowed hard as she remembered. If Eli hadn't interrupted when he did...well, it was probably a good thing he had. Alicia was tempted enough to go back as it was and she didn't want to give Peter the wrong impression - that she wanted more from him than sex. For once Alicia didn't know what she wanted, except that she didn't want to think about it and analyze it to death.
Alicia's cell phone rang and Alicia jumped, startled by the sudden noise. It was a good thing she hadn't started driving yet. It took her a moment to dig through her purse, her heart still racing as she did, before she found her phone. When she saw who it was calling, Alicia gave a little shake of her head.
"God, Kalinda," Alicia murmured to no one in particular. "You scared me to death." With a small shake of her head, Alicia pressed the accept button and held the phone to her ear. "Alicia Florrick."
"Hey, yourself." Her good mood was spilling over into her conversation with Kalinda. It didn't upset her. She had never expected to hear an apology from Kalinda and yet she had received one at the most unexpected moment. Then there was Grace. There was no way Alicia could ever thank Kalinda enough for bringing her home safely. Both things spoke of how much Kalinda had been missing her and Alicia had found herself missing Kalinda just as much. There were so many times in the past months Alicia had wanted to confide in Kalinda. The sharp ache when she had realized she couldn't had only hurt more for the reminder of why she couldn't. Forgiving Kalinda, regaining the easiness that had been between them before was more difficult than just wishing they could be close again. Things had changed too much to just go back to the way they were before. "Did we catch another case?"
Strangely, Alicia realized she was disappointed by that. Working with Kalinda was familiar; they made a good team.
"I'm at a bar. Come have a drink." The offer was delivered with the same equanimity with which Kalinda always spoke.
If Kalinda had asked her at any other time, Alicia might have turned her down. As it was, Alicia couldn't. She felt good and what she wanted to do more than anything was spend the evening with Kalinda, tequila shots burning their way down her throat and laughter bubbling out at the most inappropriate moments. She wanted to feel free to be Kalinda's friend again. Tonight she thought she could do that.
There was a moment's hesitation where anyone else would have said, "Really?" But Kalinda was never one to telegraph her surprise. Just the opposite in fact. Alicia wondered if Kalinda's eyebrows had shot up - the only expression of surprise Alicia had ever seen her give - and wished she could have been there to see if they had.
"Tell me where you are. I'll be there in a few minutes," Alicia prompted.
It took a few more moments to take down the address and enter it into her GPS; it wasn't their usual after work drinking spot. For a moment, Alicia wondered if there was some significance in that but it didn't matter. She was already committed and she didn't regret it.
When Alicia entered the bar, she didn't see Kalinda. It didn't bother her. Kalinda would be here or she wouldn't. Either way Kalinda would have a good reason. It wasn't a betrayal. Just, maybe, a disappointment. Alicia hadn't realized how much she was looking forward to seeing Kalinda until she wasn't there.
Alicia jumped. Again. "I- " She made herself swallow and start over again. "Really?"
Kalinda gave her a measuring look that said she wasn't buying what Alicia was selling but she didn't press the issue. Instead she shrugged. "It's a good look for you."
"Thank you." Alicia made sure it was a statement rather than a question. Then she let it hang there. She could hold just as many cards close to her chest as Kalinda. Okay, she couldn't but she didn't have to be an open book. She hadn't been for years, even if Kalinda did seem to be able to read her like few other people could.
"We're over here," Kalinda said, touching Alicia's elbow.
It was just the barest brush of her fingers against Alicia's skin. Alicia still felt it to the tip of her toes, her skin still incredibly sensitive even if her body did feel completely loose and languid. She couldn't help the way she shivered.
"Cold?" Kalinda asked, quirking an eyebrow at her.
Mutely, Alicia shook her head. She had given her coat to the woman at the door. Now she wished she hadn't.
"I ordered for you. Hope you don't mind," Kalinda said as she slid into the far side of the booth. The one, Alicia noted, that was against the back corner of the bar, where Kalinda could see both the front and the kitchen entrances.
"It depends," Alicia said with a half-smile. "What did you order?"
"Tequila." The "of course" was just implied.
This time Alicia let herself smile fully. "I can live with that." It felt odd to be sitting across from Kalinda rather than beside her, and somehow strangely intimate. She could look into Kalinda's eyes without a sideways glance; eye contact was no longer stolen but expected.
The silence lingered between them, not uncomfortably, until the waiter had come with their drinks and then disappeared again. Alicia took advantage of the long moments to study Kalinda's face. It had been some time since she had really looked at Kalinda.
"You look tired."
Kalinda seemed startled at the observation, her eyebrows shooting up. Alicia almost smiled, remembering her earlier desire to see just that expression.
"Thank you," she responded just as adroitly as Alicia had to Kalinda's earlier suggestion that she was glowing. Kalinda threw back her shot and sank back into the cushioned back of the booth. "I haven't been sleeping."
Alicia almost missed her simple statement. Kalinda wasn't meeting her eyes, but gazing out toward the entrance instead. Alicia took the time to swallow and then downed her own shot. She glanced around until she caught the bartender's eye and gestured for another round. Then she turned her attention back to Kalinda.
"Because of your husband?" Guessing was better than asking outright. Sometimes Kalinda would confirm it if her guess was correct. Open questions made it more difficult to get a response.
"No." Kalinda met her gaze. "I haven't slept in months."
Alicia felt a sharp twinge of guilt and wished for the first time that she hadn't come tonight. "Kalinda..." She had just been doing her job when she called about the un-cashed checks in Kalinda's file to get them reissued. It had nothing to do with satisfying her curiosity about Kalinda. It wasn't her fault that Kalinda's husband had come to town - a husband that Kalinda was both drawn to and disliked. A person that Kalinda had been afraid of if the wary way she had acted around him was to be believed. Alicia sighed. "I'm sorry."
"For what?" Kalinda seemed genuinely startled.
"If I hadn't called, he wouldn't have come to Chicago."
"He would have found me eventually."
Alicia wasn't sure she believed that. She rubbed her thumb against the condensation on the outside of the shot glass. Why hadn't the second round arrived yet?
"I was going to leave."
Alicia's head shot up, her attention no longer on her glass but fully on Kalinda. She still didn't speak; she wasn't sure what to say.
"I don't like who I am with him."
"You're Kalinda." It sounded stupid the moment the words left Alicia's mouth, but she had meant something by them, even if she couldn't quite determine what it was. Kalinda was so uniquely herself, a package of competence, trust, dry humor, and occasional carefully restrained danger wrapped up in an enigma. She was the biggest mystery of all.
"I am here." Kalinda glanced away as if she too was wondering where the next round was. The waiter chose that moment to bring back the second set of shots. "Bring the bottle," Kalinda said, without looking at Alicia. She threw back the second small glassful of liquid. Her expression never changed. "I haven't always been Kalinda."
"Leela." Kalinda stilled so absolutely it was uncanny. "Blake called you that once."
"Blake is a bastard," Kalinda said carefully.
"When did you change your name?"
"When I came to Chicago." Kalinda didn't raise her head but looked up at Alicia from beneath the pieces of hair that had fallen from her ponytail. "After I started working for the State's Attorney's office."
That caught Alicia's attention. "You..." she let her words trail off, realization dawning. She hadn't made the connection before or thought to. Alicia leaned forward, her elbows spreading outwards on the table as she brought herself closer to Kalinda. There was no one around them to overhear but she didn't want to take any chances. "Peter did you a favor and you-" Alicia still couldn't say it.
"Yeah." Kalinda's voice sounded rough. It might have just been the tequila.
"I don't want to talk about this." In fact, Alicia wanted to go back to the beginning of the night when she had left Peter's campaign RV and refuse Kalinda's invitation. The worst things that would have happened at home were laundry and boredom.
"Your bottle," the waiter said, interrupting the tense silence.
"Thanks," Kalinda said dismissively.
Alicia was the one who reached for it, pouring herself a third and knocking it back. She noted idly that she should slow down soon. They hadn't been there long.
"I can't..." Alicia said, shaking her head. "It's not about why, Kalinda. I just can't stop thinking about you with him. Every time I think about it, I see it and I can't stand it. I've seen too many pictures of my husband with other woman. I don't need to think about him with my best friend," Alicia hissed. "I can't."
Kalinda didn't flinch. She took the bottle of tequila and poured herself another shot. The way her hand shook faintly as she poured didn't escape Alicia's notice. She knocked it back with a little more haste than the calm demeanor she was projecting would have indicated.
"But you can forgive him?" Kalinda asked looking up at Alicia with a bitter smile. "I wasn't your husband, Alicia. I didn't owe you anything. I didn't do anything wrong."
They've had this argument before. "You knew he was married. You were married."
Kalinda's expression tightened. "We weren't like that."
"You and Peter?" Alicia was confused. She couldn't find the relevance. "I don't-"
"Me and Nick. We were married, yeah, but not like that. I didn't owe him anything. "
It was the one thing that could have stopped Alicia in her tracks, not so much because of what Kalinda had said, but because Kalinda had said it at all. She had revealed more in this one conversation than she had in all of the years they had known one another. It didn't change how Alicia felt.
Alicia sat back and spread her hands. "I don't know what to say, Kalinda. It might not be logical but it's how I feel. You hurt me."
"More than he did?"
Alicia's lips twisted into a bitter smile. "It's not a competition."
"No." Kalinda sounded pained. "But he gets a second chance."
The way Kalinda was looking at her there was no doubt in Alicia's mind what Kalinda meant, that she knew. Alicia didn't even bother asking how. Kalinda had her ways.
"I don't know." She held up a hand to forestall Kalinda. "I don't know what I'm doing with Peter now. I'm not sure if it's a second chance or not." Alicia folded her arms across her chest. "For once in my life I'm doing what I want."
Kalinda stared. "Of course you're giving him a second chance. It's who you are. You love your children too much not too. You want the fairy tale."
"Fairy tales don't exist," Alicia said, the words tasting like ash in her mouth. Was Kalinda right? She had kept her distance from Peter for so long, physically and in her heart. Did letting him back into her bed, metaphorically speaking as there had actually been no beds involved, mean letting him back into her heart was a foregone conclusion? Was she that easy?
"No they don't." Kalinda slid out of the booth and stood, dropping a handful of cash on the table, more than enough to cover both their drinks. "I shouldn't have-" Kalinda cut herself off and shook her head. "I shouldn't have. Go, Alicia. Be happy with your husband."
It sounded a lot like goodbye.
Alicia shot up and immediately swayed back and forth unsteadily. Three shots of tequila in a short amount of time hitting her all at once. Kalinda caught her elbow and steadied her. Alicia wrapped her hand around Kalinda's wrist and didn't let go. She closed her eyes for a moment and then opened them again.
"I'm not going anywhere," Kalinda said, sounding more tired than she had all night. "Just home. Get a cab, Alicia. Go home."
Alicia still couldn't make herself let go of Kalinda's wrist. She had stopped spinning. Things were righting themselves, but she was still missing something.
"Don't do this, Alicia," Kalinda murmured. "Don't pull me close, then push me away. Please."
It was the closest Alicia had ever heard Kalinda come to admitting to a weakness. "I didn't mean...."
"Yeah." Kalinda reached over to gently uncurl Alicia's fingers from her wrist. "But it's not coincidence. You let me back into your life. Then you sleep with Peter, yeah? Now you're pushing me away again."
"It reminds me," Alicia said weakly. "I can't help but think-"
"But it's not him you're mad at, it's me. You forgave him, fucked him." Kalinda was trying to tell her something with the slow, meticulous, strangely gentle way she was making her argument. Alicia couldn't quite fit it together.
Kalinda reached up, a bittersweet smile flitting across her lips and then slipping away, and ran the back of her finger down Alicia's cheek. "I'm the one you're angry at and you can't even admit why." Kalinda took a deep breath. "I have to go. I can't do this. You're-" She bit off her words again. "No one else can do this to me, Alicia."
"Kalinda." What Kalinda was trying to say dawned on Alicia and with it came horror. Not at what Kalinda was implying but at the mess she had made of her life, at the things she had never considered. "I..." There were too many things; Alicia didn't know what to say.
Kalinda just nodded and stepped away. Within a few paces, she had faded away into the crowd of patrons.
"I never meant to hurt you."
No one heard.
If Alicia had expected that Kalinda wouldn't be at work the next day, she was wrong. Kalinda was very much at work, wearing boots that came to just below the knee, a skirt that skimmed her thighs and a well worn red leather jacket that wrapped around her like armor. It was all so very Kalinda that the only thing Alicia could do was look away. Fortunately with Carey sharing her office, she didn't have time to brood; she refused to do it in front of him.
Unfortunately, despite the three tequila shots - and another after Kalinda had left - Alicia hadn't managed to sleep the night before, her mind spinning with Kalinda's revelation. If it was a revelation. Was she reading too much into what Kalinda had said, imagining things because she knew Kalinda was gay? Or at least flexible.
Alicia rolled her eyes at herself. She was too old to be sitting here waffling over whether someone like liked her or not. Alicia wasn't even sure what she wanted the answer to that question to be.
About midday they got a new client. Alicia was dispatched with Kalinda to handle it - Alicia to keep him from talking and Kalinda to find out what the police knew. They had done it a hundred times before. Yet the ride in Kalinda's SUV had never been more awkward, not even when Alicia hadn't been speaking to Kalinda. It was somehow worse that Kalinda wasn't speaking to her, even if Kalinda had never exactly been chatty.
"I didn't expect to see you at work this morning," Alicia finally broke the silence. If she couldn't be blunt with Kalinda, but then all the things she had thought she had known about Kalinda were now up in the air.
Kalinda kept her eyes firmly on the road. "Is that what you want?"
"I..." Alicia furrowed her brow. There were many things that she didn't know. That she didn't want Kalinda to go anywhere, however, was one thing she did know. "No."
"What do you want, Alicia?"
People had been asking her that for years. After Peter's scandal they had certainly expected her to know. They supposed that with Peter's wishes out of the way - clearly she wouldn't be taking them into account anymore - she could just do what she pleased. It sounded like a nice theory. In practice, there was no practice. What she had wanted had been replaced more than ever before by pragmatism.
Will had been the first thing that she had allowed herself to want in years. She didn't regret it exactly, but it wasn't a choice she wanted to repeat. That was part of the problem. Alicia was a married woman. It was a fact she couldn't dispute. Unless and until she was ready to do something about that, what could she do? And she had as good as promised Peter that she would do her best to help him get elected to the governorship. Getting a divorce as the first lady of Illinois wasn't exactly appealing either. If she wanted to get a divorce. Things with Peter were better than they had been in years. She could almost imagine....
"You don't have to answer," Kalinda said as she pulled the SUV neatly into a space out on the road in front of the address they had been given.
Alicia wasn't going to let Kalinda slip away again without hearing her. "I don't know."
Kalinda tipped her head to one side. "Let me know when you figure it out. I'll be here." She slipped out the driver side door without another word.
It was late - very late - when Alicia finished at the office that evening. It had been hours ago when she called Zach and Grace and told them goodnight. The usual pang of regret that she hadn't been there spiked in her heart. They were both growing up so fast; there would only be so many more nights with them like this. It made her think of Kalinda.
Alicia had been angry when Kalinda had implied that there was a reason besides the betrayal of a dear friend - with her husband, no less - that Alicia couldn't forgive her. Angry, sad, confused. Despite her anger, Alicia had wanted so badly to mend things with Kalinda. She missed her with an ache she would never have expected.
But what did that ache mean? The last woman who Alicia had tried to befriend had turned out to be playing her for dirt she could use against Peter in her campaign. Kalinda hadn't just been Alicia's best friend; she had been Alicia's only friend.
The elevator dinged and Alicia's head shot up. The only people that were left in the office were Kalinda and Alicia's secretary - now she and Carey's. Alicia had seen her secretary go past her office half an hour ago. That could only mean....
Alicia snatched up her purse and the jacket on the back of her chair and half-ran toward the elevator. She managed to stick her hand in between the doors at the last second. There was one tense second, and then they sprung apart leaving her face to face with Kalinda.
The words "Going down?" were on the tip of Alicia's tongue before she bit them back. She could feel her cheeks heat as she stepped in beside Kalinda.
"Done for the night?" she asked, feigning polite interest.
"Kalinda..." Alicia wanted to say something, had no idea what she wanted to say. "I don't know what I want. I haven't had a chance to find out. I'm a married woman, a mother. I have responsibilities. Kids who depend on me. I can't let them down." Alicia had tried going after what she wanted, thought she had, but she wasn't her mother. She never would be. She couldn't just abandon everything to gratify her desires. "There was this thing with Will." Her eyes flicked to Kalinda's to gauge her response before she continued.
Of course, Kalinda knew. Of course. "But I stopped it. There was a...close call. I couldn't live like that. Do you understand? I don't know what I want but there's so much.... I live one day at a time. I couldn't have imagined this life five years ago. I have no idea what my life will be five years from now or five days from now. I'm just trying to do the best I can."
"Alicia." Kalinda hit the stop button and turned to face Alicia, taking Alicia by the shoulders. "It's okay. I get it." The corner of Kalinda's mouth turned up. "I'm not big on planning for the future either. I'm not asking you to..." Kalinda shrugged. "I'm not the woman you turn your life upside down for."
"You should be," Alicia said. "For someone."
"But not for you," Kalinda filled in for her.
"It's not that easy." Not that easy because Kalinda's hands were sliding down her arms and dropping to Alicia's hips and it didn't feel odd. In fact, it felt right.
"Let me worry about that."
Alicia sighed, had the urge to touch Kalinda's hair, brush it back out of eye where it hung. She clenched her hand into a fist. "How much do you already do for me?" She had her suspicions about things Kalinda had done - especially after Grace - but she had never tried to prove them.
"Only what I want."
"-What I want."
"It will never work."
"Maybe not," Kalinda acknowledged.
"I've always appreciated your optimism," Alicia said dryly.
"Pragmatism," Kalinda corrected her, aware of the humor in Alicia's statement and making another point entirely. "I do what needs to be done."
"This isn't the pragmatic thing to do," Alicia pointed out.
"No," Kalinda agreed. "There are so many reasons you shouldn't be apart of my life. Your kids. Peter. Nick. My life is dangerous and nothing good can come from it." She was getting closer to Alicia, close enough that her nose could almost brush against Alicia's.
"You did," Alicia murmured. "You're the best thing that happened to me since I started here."
Alicia had never heard Kalinda's voice so full of want. Kalinda was so close now that her lips were almost brushing Alicia's. She tilted her head up, parted her lips. Alicia could feel the warmth of Kalinda's breath, the way she seemed drawn to Alicia and yet still resisted closing that final distance between them.
Kalinda was waiting, holding herself in check because that was what she thought Alicia wanted. Kalinda put Alicia first. Alicia had a growing suspicion that she had for years now. The last time she had come first for someone...Alicia struggled to remember. Then it came to her in a flash. Her father. It sounded sad, in her head. Sad was not what she was feeling right now.
Kalinda felt so small, almost fragile when Alicia put a hand at her waist. Her skin was so soft when Alicia cupped Kalinda's face in her hand, her thumb smoothing over Kalinda's cheek.
"I want you." Alicia's statement was simple. Nothing more than the truth. "I don't know what to do about that."
"Okay," Kalinda said.
Alicia leaned down and kissed her, softly. Kalinda allowed it, returned it, her lips moving against Alicia's until just who was kissing whom was lost. Her tongue brushed against Alicia's and then Kalinda was nibbling at her bottom lip. Kalinda was kissing her like it would be her last chance and Alicia couldn't think. Couldn't think about anything else but the feel of Kalinda against her and how much she wanted more. She wanted to touch Kalinda, feel Kalinda beneath her, stroke every inch of her body and explore with lingering kisses.
Kalinda nipped the pulse point at the side of Alicia's throat. It wouldn't bruise. Hopefully it wouldn't bruise. She was so fair skinned.
"We can't do this here," Kalinda said regretfully, burying her face against Alicia's neck.
"I know." Alicia hated it too.
"You should go home," Kalinda said gently. "It's late."
"It is," Alicia agreed. "What are we going to do?"
Kalinda shrugged. "What we want. What we need to."
"What about what you want?"
Kalinda let out a laugh, warm and rich. Her hand slid down to the small of Alicia's back and leaned in close. Her breath ghosted along Alicia's cheek. It was all Alicia could do not to lean into her, capture her lips again with a moan of pure desire.
"Oh, I don't think that will be a problem."
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