DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Well, I was sorely tempted to just title this 'WTF?', for a couple of reasons, actually, but decided to go with something a little less tongue-in-cheek. :) Anyway, I began it when I heard the rumors about what the big revelation would be about Peter and Kalinda, and, yeah, it took me this long to finish it. It obviously departs from end-of-season canon, somewhat. I like my version better. :) Thanks to ErinBree and CheerfulOceanGazer for their invaluable help in beta'ing this. Any remaining mistakes, or changes made after they looked at the thing are entirely my own fault. If you spot any, feel free to let me know.
SPOILERS: Oh, up through the end of the second season, let's say. It's set the evening of Peter victory party. (beware spoiler-ish notes in the summary, as if that wasn't spoiler-y enough).
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To suzotchka67[at]gmail.com
When Opportunity Knocks...
By Susan P.
She leaned her head against the door, briefly, trying to steel herself for the encounter with the woman on the other side of it. The sight of Alicia through the peephole had taken her breath away--for reasons that went beyond the hurt, angry look on her friend's face.
Alicia knew. Kalinda didn't know how, or from whom, but, somehow, Alicia had found out.
Kalinda had held back on telling the truth a little too long, and now she'd lost her chance to come clean. She scrambled to come up with some way to explain things that might allow her to preserve...some semblance of a relationship with the other woman.
"Open the door, Kalinda," the voice demanded, almost as if its owner knew, without a doubt, that she was not only home, but also close enough to hear the softly spoken words.
Kalinda lifted her head and straightened, reluctantly, drawing in a deep breath and exhaling slowly before reaching to undo the locks with trembling fingers. When she pulled the door wide to face Alicia, she kept one hand on the doorknob, and the other clenched behind her back, determined not to show any outward signs of weakness.
"How did you--"
"You gave it to me," Alicia cut her off.
"Oh...yeah..." Kalinda replied, stepping aside to allow Alicia entry. She had given Alicia her new address. How could she have forgotten that? It had seemed like such a normal thing to do, at the time, and she had wanted to feel normal. Alicia made her want to feel normal. Not that it mattered how Alicia had gotten her address. This confrontation couldn't be avoided, and it might be for the best that it took place here, rather than at the office, or on Alicia's territory.
She turned long enough to shut and lock the door, before turning to face Alicia again.
Alicia took in the look on her face. "So, it's true, then."
Kalinda couldn't tolerate the sad look on Alicia's face, or the weight of her own guilt, but she managed to look Alicia in the eyes long enough to admit, "It's true."
"How could you?"
"I--" Kalinda couldn't find the words. There was no answer for it, really. Not one that made sense, even to her. Not now, anyway. It wasn't the sort of thing she would have ever bothered to try to explain, before. Sex was just something she did--often with little or no forethought, and sometimes no afterthought, either. Most of the time, she saw no point in trying to explain herself to anyone, much less soothe any hurt feelings that might result from her actions (or inactions). But, with Alicia, it was different. Alicia made everything different, somehow.
Kalinda instinctively took a step back as Alicia advanced on her.
"How could you do that to me?" The look on Alicia's face was filled with hurt, and anger, and betrayal, her voice colored with all those emotions and more, and it cut through Kalinda like a knife.
"I didn't know you then. It was before I--"
"And that makes a difference?"
"At the time?" Kalinda dropped her eyes, "It did." She scrubbed a hand across her face, and forced herself to meet Alicia's eyes, again. "It shouldn't have, but " she let out a long sigh before continuing, "somehow it did. I meant it when I said I wish I'd known you then."
"You know me now!" Alicia all but shouted, taking another step toward her--more upset than Kalinda had ever seen her.
"Yes, I do. And, believe me, if I had known then what I know now, I would have--"
"What? Kalinda?" Alicia advanced on her again, and she retreated, again, until she was surprised by the impact of her back colliding with the door.
"What would you have done, Kalinda?" Alicia asked again.
"I'd have chosen differently, Alicia," she swore passionately, and she meant it. If she had had any idea, at the time, that she would wind up not only meeting her boss' wife, but also that they would get to know one another, and that Alicia would become such an important person, in her life, she never would have slept with Peter Florrick.
"Just..." Alicia sighed, sadly, rubbing a hand across her face. "Tell me why. Did you...have feelings for him?"
"No," Kalinda insisted, "Not those kind of feelings, anyway. I liked him, but it wasn't... It only happened once, Alicia, and I never meant for it to be more than that. It wasn't significant to me. It was...gratitude. Nothing more."
"Gratitude?" Alicia snorted. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"He...did me a favor. A big favor."
"A favor? And what favor would that be, 'Leela?' Oh, wait..." Alicia paused, and Kalinda could almost see the wheels turning in her head as she put the pieces together. "You were Leela, then, and now you're Kalinda. Was that the favor?"
"It was. He...helped me leave behind a life I...very much needed to leave behind."
Alicia canted her head to the side and looked at her questioningly, clearly expecting her to elaborate. When Kalinda said nothing more, Alicia asked, "That's it?" clearly frustrated.
Kalinda just shrugged, in response, seeing no point in telling the story of her life to someone who would likely be walking out of it, at any moment.
"Okay, fine," Alicia said, angrily, waving her arms in frustration. "So, let me get this straight," she leaned into Kalinda's personal space, "You fucked my husband to 'thank him' for a favor?" she asked incredulously.
Kalinda sucked in a quick breath, shocked not so much by Alicia's uncharacteristic use of language, as by the jolt of arousal she felt at hearing it, and at having Alicia so close to her. Damn it. This was hardly the time for her errant desires to take charge. But, Alicia wouldn't move, and that left her breathing in Alicia's scent, and seeing the fire in her eyes. Never mind that it was anger in those eyes, and that it was directed at her. A passionate Alicia was a sexy Alicia, and having her this close left Kalinda speechless, and more than a little breathless.
"What?" Alicia asked, as if sensing the change in her, and being confused--and not a little annoyed--by it.
Kalinda only gave the barest shake of her head, unable to come up with anything to say that would sound reasonable to Alicia, without actually describing the effect the other woman was having on her.
Something seemed to break in Alicia, then, and her face fell--the anger subsumed by the hurt and betrayal that had been in her face when she first walked through the door.
"I don't..." Alicia shook her head, sadly, turning her head away, for a moment. When Alicia turned back to look in her direction, but without meeting her eyes, she braced a hand against the door, near Kalinda's shoulder. Kalinda instinctively glanced to the side to look at it, before turning to look back at Alicia.
"How could--?" Alicia shook her head again, blinking back tears. She seemed to crumple in on herself, whispering, "How could you do that to me? I thought... I--"
The next thing Kalinda knew, Alicia was collapsing into her, trapping her body between the solidity of the door behind her, and the softness and all-too-inviting warmth of Alicia's body against hers. It took everything she had to keep from throwing her arms around the other woman and pulling her even closer. She bit her lip, for a moment, and curled her hands into fists, where they lay against the door--fighting against every impulse she had to take full advantage of a situation she was convinced could only end badly.
Still, she couldn't quite manage to control her body's reactions: she had to struggle to try to breathe normally, and her heart was thudding in her chest--so much so that she felt sure Alicia must be aware of it, though the other woman showed no signs that she did.
Alicia shifted against her, and Kalinda gasped when Alicia's warm breath slid across the skin at the base of her neck. If she closed her eyes, she could almost imagine that Alicia was deliberately nuzzling against her. Almost. She really had no idea what was going through the other woman's mind, in that moment, but she felt sure that Alicia would regain control and come to her senses and push away from her--sooner, rather than later.
Alicia shifted her head, slightly and Kalinda felt what could only be tears as Alicia's cheek brushed against hers.
"I'm sorry, Alicia. I didn't think... I didn't know--"
"Stop talking," Alicia almost growled. "I don't want to think about it. I don't want to..."
She shifted again, turning her face in toward Kalinda's hair. She took in a deep, shaky breath, and then her breath warm against Kalinda's ear as she spoke again, "...think...about..."
"Think about--" Kalinda started to ask, when Alicia didn't finish the sentence, but then she remembered Alicia's command from moments before and thought better of it. She saw no point in possibly making a bad situation even worse.
"This," came out as another breath against her ear, and Kalinda gasped again, when Alicia suddenly started nuzzling against her neck. One of Alicia's hands landed against her hip. Kalinda could feel the warmth of it through the fabric of her skirt, and her hips lurched forward, for a moment, seeking greater contact, before she could regain control enough to make the effort to push her lower body back against the door. The door was safer. Much safer.
Kalinda looked heavenward, for a moment, even though she was convinced no help would be forthcoming from that quarter. This couldn't possibly be happening, she thought. Alicia couldn't actually be...
The sensation of Alicia's lips at the base of her throat was almost her undoing, and she gasped, "Alicia," in a strangled voice. Whether it was prayer for mercy, or plea for more, even she wasn't quite sure.
Alicia's only response was more kisses, before she slid her other hand across Kalinda's shoulder, and then over and down, slightly, to rest against Kalinda's chest, just over Kalinda's thundering heart.
Alicia pulled back a little, then, her eyes focusing on her own hand, where it rested against Kalinda's chest, as if needing some visual confirmation of what she was feeling beneath it.
Alicia shifted her hand, slightly, pressing it a little more firmly against Kalinda's skin, and continued to stare at her own hand for several seconds.
Kalinda felt more and more tense as the seconds ticked by--uncertainty and arousal playing an uncomfortable tug-of-war with her nerve endings.
When Alicia finally looked up, Kalinda was struck dumb by what she saw in Alicia's eyes. She was accustomed to seeing desire in women's--and men's--eyes, when they looked at her, but she had never, ever, expected to see it in Alicia's. She had seen many sides of Alicia that went well beyond the proper, controlled façade that she tended to present to the world--enough to have little doubt as to what both Peter and Will saw in her--but this... This was a revelation.
Alicia stared at her wide-eyed, pupils so dilated her eyes looked almost black, and she was breathing shallowlyas was Kalinda.
"Kalinda?" Alicia questioned almost breathlessly, and Kalinda was held captive by the passionate look in her eyes as Alicia leaned in again, slowly and deliberately.
Kalinda thought, for a moment, that if she had any sense at all, she should duck and run for cover, before Alicia got any closer, but then Alicia's lips were on hers, and she couldn't think at all.
The initial kiss was tentative: soft, gentle, and all too brief. Kalinda refused to open her eyes, when it was over, because she felt sure she didn't want to see the look in Alicia's eyes--whatever it might be--when she pulled away. So, she was shocked when Alicia kissed her again, and her eyes flew open, for a second or two, to confirm it, before Alicia began exploring her lips eagerly, and the sensations became too intense for her to concentrate on anything else.
Alicia's hand tightened on Kalinda's hip, pulling her closer, while her other hand slid up to cup the back of Kalinda's head, before trying to deepen the kiss.
Kalinda wrenched her head to the side when she felt Alicia's tongue slide against her lips. "Alicia," she panted, "Wh-what are you doing?" If Alicia wanted an out, she needed to take it. Now, while Kalinda could still maintain some modicum of control.
Alicia pulled back, slightly, and looked at her oddly. "I'm kissing you."
She had said it so matter-of-factly--as if the answer should be obvious--that Kalinda would have laughed, if not for the look in Alicia's eyes, which broadcast her intentions clearly enough, even before she began leaning in again.
"Oh," Kalinda breathed, just before Alicia's lips met hers again and, in the next moment, they were breathing each other's air, and Alicia's tongue was sliding against hers, setting her nerve-endings on fire.
Kalinda made a valiant effort to control herself--to maintain some degree of distance, if only in her own head. But Alicia was good--so very, very good--at this, and she soon found herself straining up to meet Alicia's lips, deepening the kiss.
They parted only when the need for air became greater than the need for each other. Alicia leaned against her, heavily, nuzzling against her neck as she wrapped one arm firmly around Kalinda's waist, holding her tightly.
There was nothing but the sound of heavy breathing for several seconds, until Alicia asked, tentatively, "Kalinda?"
"Yes." Kalinda wasn't even sure what the question was, but it seemed that, if it were Alicia asking, the answer had to be 'yes.' The thought scared her. It had been a very, very long time since she had met anyone who could make her feel this out of control, and she wasn't at all sure she liked it.
"Touch me," Alicia commanded, softly.
"Um...what?" Kalinda asked uncertainly. In spite of everything that had happened the past few minutes, she was convinced she couldn't possibly have heard the other woman correctly.
Alicia reached down with the hand that had been behind Kalinda's head to slide it over Kalinda's clenched fist, where it still lay against the door. "Stop holding back, and touch me," Alicia breathed against her neck.
Kalinda heard someone whimper, and was horrified to realize that the sound had come from her own throat. She made a conscious effort to relax the hand that lay beneath Alicia's, and then that arm, as well, followed by the other arm and hand. She took a deep breath, willing herself to relax and release some of the tension in her body.
"Alicia, look at me," she requested softly, sounding much calmer than she felt.
Alicia straightened, and leaned back just enough to look her in the eyes.
"Tell me you're sure. I need to know that you want...this." That you want me.
Alicia took Kalinda's into hers. "I'm as sure as I am about...anything...at the moment, and...I do want this." She leaned in to rest her forehead against Kalinda's, closing her eyes and whispering, softly, "God help me, I want you so much, right now. Please..."
"Oh, God," Kalinda groaned, as what little control she'd managed to maintain over her baser impulses shattered. She surged up to capture Alicia's lips again.
"Yesss," Alicia hissed between kisses, when Kalinda's arms slid around her, crushing their bodies together.
Kalinda lost herself in the feel of the other woman, allowing her hands to wander, while she explored Alicia's mouth eagerly. Alicia's hands were equally busy, and Kalinda almost yelped when she felt those hands slide down to squeeze her ass. Kalinda had to admit, the other woman learned quickly, if, as she had assumed, Alicia had never been with a woman before.
Kalinda gripped Alicia's sides, and moved to turn her, reversing their positions. Once Alicia was resting against the door, Kalinda slid her hands upward, pulling back from the other woman just as her thumbs brushed along the sides of Alicia's breasts. She took a moment to enjoy the other woman's sharp intake of breath, at the contact, before moving to unbutton the top button of Alicia's jacket. She held Alicia's eyes as she proceeded to finish the immediate task and push the jacket apart.
She leaned in to explore the newly exposed skin with her mouth, blazing a trail across one shoulder to the hollow of her throat, where she spent a few seconds, before kissing her way up the column of Alicia's throat.
Alicia groaned softly, and Kalinda felt the other woman's hands clutching at her blouse, trying to tug it free of her skirt. "Kalinda, please..."
Kalinda's lips curled into a smile against Alicia's skin, for a moment, before pulling back, slightly. "In a minute," she protested, before leaning back in to focus on Alicia's pulse-point.
"Ohhhh..." Alicia groaned, before tightening her grasp on Kalinda's shirt and yanking it free of its confines.
Kalinda hummed softly, as Alicia's hands slid beneath the material to caress her bare back. She slowed her own movements, in order to focus on the feel of Alicia's hands sliding across her skin.
After a moment or two, she pulled away from Alicia, slightly, and gazed at her intently as she moved her hands up to slide the jacket off Alicia's shoulders. Alicia returned the stare, and showed no signs of objecting to the act. In fact, she pushed herself away from the door, dropping her arms to make it easier for Kalinda to slide the garment off, and seemed to think nothing of it when Kalinda dropped it to the floor.
Alicia then reached up to Kalinda's blouse, hovering over the first button, for a second, until Kalinda's slight nod gave her the permission she had sought with her eyes.
Kalinda watched, first with some amusement, and then with growing concern, as Alicia's trembling fingers fumbled with each button, and as the trembling seemed to get worse with each successive one.
"We can stop, if you want..." she offered, even though it was the last thing she wanted.
"I don't want to stop," Alicia answered quickly. She then paused and took a deep breath, before focusing intently on the last button, working on it until she got it undone and Kalinda's blouse fell open, slightly.
"It's just that..." she sighed and looked up to meet Kalinda's eyes. "This is..."
Alicia smiled softly, which Kalinda took as a good sign. "New," she finished her earlier statement, before continuing. "And I haven't been with anyone but Peter since..."
"Before the wedding," Kalinda finished for her, certain it was true, given the sort of person she knew Alicia to be.
"Yes," Alicia confirmed. "So. This is..." Alicia blew out a shaky breath. "I'm a little nervous."
"It's okay to be nervous," Kalinda reassured her, and herself. "You think I'm not nervous?" she asked the other woman.
"You--" Alicia started to ask, but then seemed to see the truth of it in Kalinda's eyes. "Oh." The realization seemed to calm her, a little.
Kalinda nodded. "It's okay. We can get past it," she smiled, taking one of Alicia's hands in her own. "We just need to stick to two rules: one, nothing happens that you don't--"
"We," Alicia insisted.
"That we don't want. If you need to stop, or if you need me to stop, just say so."
"Okay," Alicia nodded. And the second?"
"If there's something you want, don't be afraid to ask."
"Oh," Alicia breathed, sounding considerably less nervous than she had moments before. "In that case..."
Alicia released Kalinda's hand and leaned forward, reaching up to grasp Kalinda's blouse in each hand, before gently pulling it apart and down over her arms. They both smiled awkwardly when there was a bit of a struggle getting the sleeves off over Kalinda's wrists. But, once it was off, and lying on the floor, near Alicia's jacket, Alicia placed both hands on Kalinda's waist, thumbs gently stroking her skin.
Alicia looked down to survey all the lovely caramel-colored skin before her, and the hints of what lay beneath the lacy bra, for a moment, before looking up to meet Kalinda's eyes, again. "Take me to bed, Kalinda."
"Oh," Kalinda sighed, feeling much more nervous, suddenly, than she had before, though no less eager. She reached up to grab the straps of Alicia's slip, and slid them slowly down Alicia's arms, pulling the garment down over her bra and exposing her to the waist. She reached out to grasp Alicia's hips, and took her time to enjoy the view--and Alicia's reactions--as she slid her hands up until her thumbs were caressing the skin just below Alicia's bra.
"It would be my pleasure." She smiled lasciviously at Alicia, before leaning in to capture her lips in a brief, but heated, kiss. When she pulled back, she released the other woman long enough to take her hand. "Come on," she requested softly, before leading the other woman into her bedroom.
"Alicia?" Kalinda asked tentatively.
"Hmm?" the other woman hummed contentedly.
"How are you feeling?''
The woman lying against her shifted, sighing out a quiet, "wonderful," as she moved even closer.
Kalinda ducked her head, a moment, unable to control the smile that spread across her face. "Well, thank you, and...likewise, but what I meant was... How do you feel about..." she stopped there, not quite sure how to finish the question. Not even entirely certain what it was she was trying to ask, not to mention whether or not she might be ready to hear the answers.
Alicia let the unfinished question hang in the air between them for what felt like an eternity.
"About..." she finally began, speaking slowly, "sleeping with a woman? About sleeping with a woman my husband also slept with? About...cheating on my husband?"
Too much to hope for that 'about us' might be in the list, Kalinda thought bitterly, for a second, before shaking that off. She had no right to expect anything, really, given the situation.
"Oh-kay..." she prompted, just hoping to keep Alicia talking.
"I..." Alicia shook her head and looked at her, helplessly, clearly at a loss for what to say, or how to begin. "It's..." she tried again, "...a lot to process."
Kalinda certainly couldn't argue with that. She was doing some processing of her own, after all. "It is," she acknowledged quietly.
Alicia nodded briefly, clearly deep in thought, but apparently unwilling or unable to give voice to those thoughts.
When the silence became unbearable, Kalinda ventured to ask, "Any...regrets?"
Alicia only hesitated a moment, before replying, "No," sounding more than a little surprised by her own answer. She reached out to gently caress Kalinda's cheek. "No," she said again, more decisively.
"Maybe I should regret it, and maybe I'll feel guilty about it later, but I..." Alicia's grip on Kalinda's face tightened, for a second, and her eyes burned with an intensity that made Kalinda's breath catch. "I'm not sorry this happened. I did want it."
Kalinda let out a relieved breath, and nodded gratefully. "Good," was all she could manage to say, but she shifted awkwardly, so that she could cradle the hand cupping her cheek. "Good," she sighed again, softly.
"Just..." Alicia began again, sounding much less certain than she had a moment ago.
Kalinda waited patiently until Alicia's eyes found hers again.
"Tell me this wasn't just guilt."
"What?" Kalinda asked, somewhat shocked by the question.
"You said that...with Peter, it was just...'gratitude.' Tell me you didn't just sleep with me because you felt guilty," Alicia asked, bluntly.
"No," Kalinda assured her, softly, shaking her head to emphasize the point. She reached out to caress Alicia's face gently. "I swear it."
Kalinda shook her head, and looked away, briefly. "It's not that I don't..."
She turned back to meet Alicia's eyes again. "I do feel guilty, Alicia, and believe me, if I had the choice to make all over again, I'd have made a different one. But that doesn't have anything to do with why I'm attracted to you. I didn't want to be, you know. I wasn't even sure I wanted to like you, when we first met, because I knew this would probably all come out, eventually, and I didn't want the emotional entanglement.
"But, I am entangled. Very entangled," she moved even closer to Alicia, for emphasis, but managed to resist the impulse to demonstrate her point in something other than words, because she felt that Alicia needed to hear them, and she was surprised by her own need to say them.
"I was drawn to you, in spite of myself, and I came to like you very quickly. You are an incredible woman. You're smart, funny, very beautiful, and far more sexy than you realize, I'm sure. I've wanted you for a long time--longer than I should have, certainly, given that this was pretty much the last thing I ever expected to happen. So, no, this is not just guilt."
The light blush crawling up Alicia's cheeks and the shy smile playing across her lips were too much for Kalinda to resist, and she gave into the urge to sink back into Alicia's embrace. She sighed softly, and relaxed when Alicia's arms slid around her and clung tightly, for a few moments.
They had lain like that for some time, before Kalinda managed to work up the courage to ask, "So, do you think you will be able to forgive me, at some point?"
"Kalinda," Alicia replied, sounding surprised, "we just made love."
"Yes. We did." Kalinda rose up to look her in the eye. "But that doesn't really answer my question, does it?"
Alicia studied her seriously, for a moment, before admitting, softly, "No. I guess it doesn't"
"I--okay. Maybe I haven't quite forgiven you, yet, but... I will, eventually. I mean, I guess I proved today that I'm hardly perfect, so who am I to judge? I certainly didn't show any more respect for my marriage vows tonight than you did, when you slept with Peter. God," Alicia rolled her eyes, "is that ever not going to sound..."
"Weird? Twisted? Really messed up?" Kalinda added, helpfully.
Alicia chuckled softly, as Kalinda had hoped she would. "All of the above--and then some!"
Kalinda canted her head to the side and answered seriously, "Probably not."
"Yeah," Alicia sighed.
When Alicia said nothing further, seeming lost in her own thoughts, Kalinda ventured another question.
"So, what happens in the meantime?"
"What do you mean, 'what happens'?"
"What happens with us, in the meantime, until you can find a way to forgive me? Or...whether or not you can forgive me? What are we, now? Are we just polite co-workers? Are we friends? Are we..." Kalinda bit back the words 'more than friends,' the words she most wanted to hear, and the word 'nothing,' which was the word she least wanted to hear, and simply finished with, "...something else, entirely?"
"In public, you mean?" Alicia asked, trying to deflect the question, to some degree.
"Anywhere. Everywhere," Kalinda put the ball back in Alicia's court.
"I--" Alicia looked up at her, more than a little uncertainty in her eyes. "Publicly...we...continue on as we have, I guess. So...not just 'polite co-workers,' I'd say. We work well together, and I assume that will continue. Privately..."
Alicia gently pushed Kalinda until she was lying on her back, and Kalinda might have been worried, if not for the tender look on Alicia's face, and the fact that Alicia was quick to settle in against her--lying partially on top of her.
"I'm gonna need some time, I think." Alicia reached up to caress her cheek, and seemed to get lost, for a moment, in the sensation. "This..." Alicia shrugged. "I don't even know what to call this...but I do know that it doesn't feel like a mistake, and it doesn't feel like..."
Alicia leaned in to bury her face against Kalinda's neck, breathing the next words across her skin. "It doesn't feel like something I can let go of."
She lay there a moment before rising up again so that she could look Kalinda in the eye. "I don't want to let go of it. I don't want to let go of you."
Kalinda blinked up at Alicia, not quite sure how to respond. It was probably as close to a declaration as she was likely to get from Alicia, at this point, and hope bloomed in her chest, in spite of her normal tendencies toward caution, and keeping everyone at a safe distance. For the first time in a long time, she found herself wanting to pull someone closer--wanting to pull Alicia closer--but she suspected that, in spite of what Alicia had just said, this could all go wrong, and possibly sooner, rather than later. Alicia could really hurt her, whether she meant to, or not.
Alicia pulled back a little further and looked at her uncertainly, as if sensing that she was holding back, in some way. She looked away, for a moment, sighing softly before looking back at Kalinda.
"When I heard about you and Peter... I realize now that it wasn't Peter's betrayal that hurt me. I've... I've had it up to my ears with Peter's betrayals, and as much as I've been trying to put it all behind me, I wasn't even really surprised to find out there'd been another woman. At this point, I'm not sure it would surprise me much to find out there had been even more women."
Alicia hung her head dejectedly, adding bitterly, "Maybe that reporter was right. Maybe I should get an HIV test."
"Wait... What? What reporter?"
"It doesn't matter," Alicia shook her head. "She had a point. What do I even know about my husband, given everything that's happened? What can I trust? How can I trust anything he's told me, now?"
Kalinda pushed aside any concerns she might have about the implications of this for her own health, and, what surprised her even more, she had to fend off the urge to defend the man. In the end, however, she couldn't. Peter Florrick had betrayed this woman, deeply, in ways that Kalinda could only guess at, and there was no real defense or explanation for it that could justify his behavior.
Instead, she just nodded, solemnly. "Maybe you should get tested, if it will make you feel better. If it's any consolation, I did--get tested--after I first found out..." Kalinda stopped short, worried about inviting further questions. "And it was okay," she finished self-consciously.
"When you first found out," Alicia eyed her suspiciously. "And when was that, exactly?"
Kalinda looked away, ashamed to admit, "Before you did."
"And you chose him. Again," Alicia muttered bitterly, before rolling away and sprawling, limply, on her back.
Kalinda rolled over toward her quickly, but was careful not to reach out, feeling certain that any overtures would be rejected. "Alicia, it was just before the scandal broke, and, again, I didn't know you then. And, maybe that's no excuse, but think about it: if I had tried to approach you about Peter, and warn you, before you'd heard it elsewhere, would you have taken me seriously? Would you have believed me?"
Alicia turned to look over at her, managing to look both hurt and thoughtful, at once. She threw her hands in the air, briefly, letting them flop heavily back to the bed, at her sides. "I don't know," she admitted, "maybe not. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to believe it. I didn't want to believe it, when I did hear it. He didn't even have the decency to tell me himself, before it all blew up into this...public spectacle."
"For what it's worth, I am sorry. More sorry than you can know. And, if I had known you, back then, Alicia... I would have chosen you."
"Would you?" Alicia asked, her voice was small, and thready, but there was a tremor of hope in it that tore at Kalinda's heart.
"Absolutely," Kalinda answered her with conviction. Now that she knew Alicia Florrick, she couldn't imagine choosing anyone else, over her. Given the chance, she would do everything possible to prove that to Alicia.
"That was what really hurt, you know. It should have been about Peter, but it wasn't. It was about you. When I heard about the two of you... I didn't go to him. Confront him. Granted, he was in the middle of his victory party, at the time, but I..."
She looked over at Kalinda, her eyes intense. "I headed straight here. You were the one I wanted an explanation from. I wanted to know how you could do that, and then...work beside me, all that time. Day after day, and... Get close to me. Gain my trust. Be my friend. And still keep this from me."
"I should have told you," Kalinda admitted. "I know, now, that I shouldn't have kept it from you, but I... Damn it, I didn't even want to get close to you. I didn't want to feel this way about you," Kalinda cursed the needy tone in her voice.
"Feel what way?" Alicia asked.
"Alicia..." Kalinda all but pleaded, begging to be spared the rest of this conversation, now that it seemed certain that it wouldn't go her way.
"What? Way?" Alicia's voice was steely, determined, and it was clear she would not be denied.
"I didn't want to care about you, okay? I didn't want to earn your trust--not as anything other than your investigator, anyway. I didn't want to trust you, either. I didn't want to...feel close to you, or protective of you, or to feel hurt because you were hurting. I certainly didn't want to...want you."
"Or to love me?" Alicia asked, giving voice to the word Kalinda hadn't been able to say.
"Yes," Kalinda admitted softly. She did love her. She had come to love Alicia. Maybe only as a friend, at first, but the attraction, the desire had crept up on her, and now that they'd been together--even if it were only for tonight--Kalinda knew that the love she felt for Alicia might well grow into something much deeper. And that scared the hell out of her.
"But you do," Alicia prodded.
Kalinda swallowed nervously and nodded, unable to trust her voice.
"Wait--" Kalinda barely got the word out before Alicia pounced on her, wrapping herself around Kalinda's body. Their combined momentum pushed Kalinda onto her back and into the bed, and the shock of all that soft, warm skin coming into contact with hers turned the 'What?' into an, "Oh, God..."
Kalinda couldn't think clearly. All she knew was that something seemed terribly--or wonderfully--wrong. Alicia was not only still here, naked, in her bed; Alicia was holding her, clinging tightly to her--almost too tightly, in fact.
"I wanted to hate you," the woman on top of her whispered unsteadily. "When I came over here, I was hurt, and so angry, and I wanted to be able to hate you, but I... I got here, and I saw you, and you were... You," Alicia finished, as if that one word explained everything. "And I... Before we... Before I... I realized something. It wasn't Peter I was most angry with, because I could understand how he could want you. I was angry with you. I was angry that you chose him, and not because he was a married man, or even because he was my husband.
"I was angry at you for choosing him, because I realized that--more than anything--I wanted you to choose me. I wanted you. I think maybe I have been attracted to you for a while, and I didn't even know it, really. Until...I did. And now I..."
Alicia rose up to look at her. "I came to love you, too, Kalinda. And now... I realized tonight how much I want you, and...I don't know if I'm sure how to put those two things together, yet, but I do know that I..." Alicia shifted and reached up to trace her fingers lightly across Kalinda's cheek, down her neck, and across her collarbone. Alicia sighed contentedly, when Kalinda hummed, softly, at the contact. "I haven't felt like this in...a very long time, and I want this. I want to be with you.
"So, I think that, privately...I'd say we're much more than friends. If...that's okay?"
"Okay?" Kalinda echoed numbly, not yet able to process it all.
She must have been silent a beat too long, because Alicia asked again, nervously, "Is it? Okay?"
"Okay?" Kalinda repeated again, smiling at the mix of hope, fear, anticipation, and vulnerability in Alicia's eyes. "It's...amazing. Totally unexpected, but...so much more than I could have hoped would be possible."
"Oh, Thank God," Alicia breathed, sinking back down into Kalinda's embrace. "Because I do not want to leave this bed."
Kalinda smiled, in spite of herself, before reality began to set in. "And I don't want you to, either, but sooner or later, you know you're going to have to. Your husband won the election tonight. It will seem odd that you're not there," Kalinda swallowed hard and forced out the next words: "With him."
Alicia pushed up, slightly, to look Kalinda in the eye. "To hell with everyone's expectations of me, and to hell with Peter. My husband will be sleeping alone tonight. At least, he won't be sharing a bed with me tonight, or ever again."
"And how will you explain that?"
"To him? All I'll have to say is that I know about you and him."
"But nothing about you and me."
"No--um..." Alicia stopped short, seeming suddenly self-conscious. "I mean, it can't help--"
"Alicia," Kalinda rushed to reassure her. "That's what I meant. Telling him--or anyone--about us, right now, could hurt you, in the long run."
"In the divorce, you mean?"
"You--you're already thinking in those terms?"
"I don't... I can't really see another outcome, for Peter and me, at this point. Can you?"
Kalinda shrugged. She'd seen plenty of relationships, in her time, that made a mockery of the word 'marriage' and still managed to last for years, but she honestly couldn't imagine Alicia being able to tolerate any such arrangement. "I guess not."
"Yeah. As for everyone else--oh!" she groaned. "The kids... Well, they'll be staying with Jackie tonight, so that buys me a little time to try to come up with something to tell them that will make sense. I hope."
"And what will you do if this all gets out?"
"Which 'this'?" Alicia snorted. "You and Peter? Or you and me?"
"Well, I think we both agree that whatever is between you and me should stay under wraps, at least for now."
"So, I'm sorry to ask this of you, but we're just going to have to be very careful, I guess."
"I can do that. I've had more than a few relationships where things had to be on the down-low."
"Why does that not surprise me?" Alicia smirked, briefly, but then turned serious. "Kalinda?"
"I--I don't know if this is even fair of me to ask, right now, but... I mean we've barely..." Alicia stopped, blowing out a frustrated breath before continuing, nervously, "I, um, think you can understand that I might need..."
Alicia trailed off, as if afraid to ask the question.
Given the conversation they'd been having, it wasn't hard for Kalinda to guess what Alicia was thinking. "Fidelity?"
Alicia let out a relieved breath. "Yes. Is that-- I mean, can you--?"
"Alicia," Kalinda reached up to cup her new lover's cheek. "I'm not with anyone else, right now--I haven't been for some time, not seriously, anyway. Trust me, I am not thinking of anyone else, right now. Exclusivity may not be typical, for me, but I can be faithful. I have been, in past relationships. If I'm with you, then there won't be anyone else."
Alicia leaned down to kiss Kalinda tenderly, and all too briefly, before pulling back, a little, to say, "Thank you."
She settled back down into Kalinda's embrace, and they lay quietly together for a few minutes, before it occurred to Kalinda that they had drifted off the topic.
"So, you didn't quite answer the question. What happens if any of this gets out?"
Alicia sighed, but didn't move from where she lay on Kalinda's chest. "I guess I didn't, did I? The thing with you and Peter may well come out, eventually. The reporter I spoke with knew something about it, or thought she did, anyway--she never mentioned any names, though--and some investigator from Childs' office has been hounding me lately, and he knows something about it. He mentioned the name 'Leela' to me, earlier tonight, and that was when I knew."
"Oh," was Kalinda's only reply, though she vowed silently to put her baseball bat to good use, should Blake ever resurface.
"So, if--or when--it comes out, I will try to be as closed-mouthed with the press and as protective of my own and my children's privacy as I have been throughout this whole fiasco."
"And at the office? How do we play that?"
"Hmm," Alicia hummed, as if thinking it over. She rose up, just slightly, so that she could meet Kalinda's eyes. "I guess it would look weird if there weren't at least some obvious tension between us, over that, wouldn't it?"
"I think so. Do you think we could manage to fake that--at least for awhile?" Kalinda had no doubts in her own ability to put on an act, if necessary, but Alicia seemed to have a profound discomfort with the art and the practice of deception.
"Could I fake it, you mean?" Alicia countered, seeming to know exactly what Kalinda was thinking.
Kalinda merely smirked, in response.
"I'm better at 'faking it' than you know, Kalinda. What do you think has enabled me to allow Peter to save face, and get re-elected, for God's sake?"
"Touché." Kalinda realized that Alicia had likely had to do--and say-- a lot of things, in the aftermath of Peter's scandal that may well have conflicted with her true feelings.
Still, Alicia seemed uncertain. "How long do you think we'd have to keep it up, before we could 'make up'?"
"I don't know. A few weeks to a month? Maybe a little longer..."
"That's a long time to pretend to hate someone you...can barely stand to be away from."
"Yeah," Kalinda replied softly, finding herself no happier about the prospect than Alicia seemed to be. "But what choice do we have?"
"None, I guess." Alicia frowned slightly, for a moment, but then managed an unsteady smile. "We'll manage, somehow."
"We will," Kalinda assured her, smiling back at her.
"As for us..." Alicia continued. "Assuming we can manage to keep this private, until the divorce and custody details are worked out, then--if you're up for it, we could start by telling my brother, and then maybe the kids."
"That could be months from now..." Kalinda muttered distractedly.
"Yes," Alicia replied, apologetically, "Kalinda, I'm sorr--" She was silenced by Kalinda's finger against her lips.
"No, that's not..." Kalinda shook her head and dropped her finger. "It's just that... You're picturing us...together. Months from now."
"Yes, I am." Alicia sounded confused, and a little apprehensive. "Aren't you?"
"I--" Kalinda looked up into the beautiful face above hers, not quite sure whether she'd been blessed, or cursed, but she suddenly didn't care. Alicia seemed to be offering her a future--one that she realized she wanted. Very much. "I am now."
She pulled Alicia into what she had intended to be a tender kiss, but it quickly turned heated, leaving both of them breathless, when they finally parted.
"Wow," Alicia breathed.
"Yeah," Kalinda agreed.
Alicia settled in against her chest, and they lay together for several seconds, while their breathing slowed.
All too soon, Alicia shifted and groaned low in her throat. "I really, really don't want to leave you, but I think there's something I need to do. Tonight."
Kalinda stroked her hair, gently. "Is it something I can help you with?" she asked.
"You could... But, I think it might be better if I did it alone. But I'd like to..." She rose up to look at Kalinda. "Would it be okay if I...came back? Tonight?"
"Of course," Kalinda answered quickly, surprised that she didn't even have to give it a second thought.
"Are you sure? It could be late."
"I'm not going anywhere."
Alicia started to push herself up, but then leaned back down to plant a line of kisses along Kalinda's jaw-line, and down her neck. "I could..." she said between kisses, "call you when I'm on the way back."
"That would be--oh," Kalinda groaned when Alicia's lips closed on an erect nipple, "...wonderful..." Kalinda arched up into the contact and her hand reached up to cup the back of Alicia's head, lightly holding her in place.
"Oh, God, Alicia," Kalinda ground out, when the sensations became almost unbearable. "If you don't leave--soon--I'm not going to be able to let you go..."
Alicia pulled herself away from her task, reluctantly. "You're no fun, you know that?"
"Oh, no," Kalinda chuckled. "I am very fun. You have yet to discover just how fun I can be."
"Oh, is that so?" Alicia grinned down at her.
"It is," Kalinda smiled wickedly back at her.
"Well, then, I'll look forward to finding out. Starting when I get back."
"Is that a promise?" Kalinda asked breathlessly.
"Mm-hmm," Alicia hummed softly, before leaning in to place a light kiss on her lips. "Okay..." Alicia sighed reluctantly. "I guess I should get going if I want to get back sooner, rather than later."
Alicia pushed herself up and slowly got up from the bed. She then began to seek out her things along the path of clothing they'd strewn between the front door and the bed.
Kalinda got up and followed her, taking a moment to shrug on her robe as she watched Alicia dress. They met by the door, where this evening had all begun, and Kalinda took some time to help Alicia smooth her mussed hair back into some semblance of order.
"How's my make-up look?" Alicia asked nervously.
"Um," Kalinda shook her head, "not so good."
"Damn," Alicia sighed in frustration. "I should probably just wash my face."
"Kalinda nodded back toward the path they'd just followed. "Use the bath off the bedroom. You should find anything you might need in there."
"Thank you," Alicia smiled at Kalinda and took hold of one of her hands, for a moment, as she moved past her.
Kalinda followed after her, as if compelled, and leaned against the frame of the bathroom door, silently watching the other woman. Alicia had a quiet grace about her, even while performing such a mundane task as washing her face, and Kalinda couldn't tear her eyes away.
"What?" Alicia asked, before grabbing a nearby towel to dry her face.
"Nothing," Kalinda smiled softly. "Just enjoying the view."
Alicia ducked her head, smiling shyly. She walked over and stepped into Kalinda's body, leaning down until their foreheads touched, lightly, and finding one of Kalinda's hands with her own.
"For what?" Kalinda asked, staring up into deep brown eyes.
Alicia closed her eyes for a moment, then smiled unevenly. "No matter how it happened or what you did before... I'm glad you're here. I'm glad you came into my life."
Kalinda couldn't be sure whether that was what Alicia had meant to say, but she smiled back at her in relief, and with a genuine sense of gratitude to the universe for having met this woman. "Likewise."
Alicia sighed softly before pulling away. "I...should get going."
"I know. Go. Take care of...whatever it is."
Alicia took a deep breath and headed back toward the door, Kalinda following close behind. Alicia turned to face her again, when they reached the door, looking apologetic.
"I'll be back."
Kalinda smiled softly at her. "I'll be here."
"Okay, I'll--" She moved to pull Kalinda into a fierce hug, sighing softly when their bodies connected.
"Yeah," Kalinda sighed, in return. "It's okay. Just...go do what you need to do. I'll be here, when you're done."
"Okay," Alicia pulled back, slightly, but then leaned back in to kiss her tenderly. She stepped back, then, and moved to unlock the door. After she stepped out into the hallway, she looked back at Kalinda, almost forlornly, before something hardened in her face, for a moment. "Okay," she said softly. Her face softened, again, when she met Kalinda's eyes. "I'll call you when it's done."
"Okay. See you later," Kalinda smiled back at her, uncertainly. She wasn't quite sure she liked the look that had passed over Alicia's face, a moment before, but Alicia didn't seem inclined to discuss whatever the errand was, so she wasn't sure whether she should ask.
Alicia nodded, before turning to walk away, and the moment to ask was gone.
She watched as Alicia walked away, her eyes following her until she stepped onto the elevator. She stepped back into her apartment, falling against the door after she'd closed and locked it again. She ran one hand across the wood, sighing in amazement at the way the evening had ended, and then grinning stupidly when she realized that it likely wasn't over yet.
"Oh, boy, am I in trouble..." she sighed, but the smile was still on her face as she headed off to take a shower.
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