RATING: Potential for violence, but nothing too rough.
SUMMARY: Kalinda/Alicia, or rather Kalinda and Alicia. Post rift, post "Can you do that?". Written when I still had hopes for better things to come with these two *sigh*
DISCLAIMER: As always, everything here belongs to other (much more wealthy) people. I'm just having fun.
A/N: I'm doing some computer cleaning and came across this. This short, little thing was originally for one of sweetjamielee's Summer Good Wife Challenges. I actually thought I had already posted it to my lj, but apparently not. This is just some personal house cleaning, really. My lj has a good deal of tumbleweed blowing through it these days. My fandom interests are frustrated and dried up (especially my dear Good Wife, since they deep-sixed any real interaction between these ladies, I've given up). So I post this simply to keep my writing in one place, archived. Don't have time for anything else, and don't have the heart to get involved any deeper anyway...
But to anyone who may see this, hope all is well with my past readers, where ever you are, whatever you're into now.
“For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.” - TS Eliot
Yes, they were talking again. Friendly. But still not quite in Alicia’s mind officially friends yet. The ink on the truce still felt damp, and they were both aware of it. They were both being so very careful.
So Alicia hadn’t planned to push Kalinda about shadowing her to interview a possible witness. But the more Kalinda protested, the angrier Alicia had gotten and the more determined she was to go, ignoring that she hadn’t really cared either way only moments before.
If Alicia had been as honest and forthcoming as she demanded Kalinda be, she would have admitted that the anger had very deep roots and that it had just felt too good, too satisfying, to let it out a little again.
But Alicia was already feeling a little guilty by the time they’d made it into a down-and-out pocket of Eastern Indian immigrants and they were both struggling to convince Pariyat Banerjee to come forward and testify to what she really saw that day she was cleaning their client’s home.
Kalinda shifted from one high heel to another, quite pointedly not looking at Alicia, and absently clicking her pen over and over, looking quite pained when the woman kept slipping into Hindi and Kalinda once again asked her to please speak in English.
Then there was a shout from a bedroom and a young man burst through the flimsy cloth separating the rooms, red-faced and eyes wide, pointing a pistol at them.
Kalinda took two steps forward, arms up, palms out, until she was standing directly in front of Alicia. She kept saying it was okay, would be okay and telling Pariyat to tell him that they weren’t there to hurt him.
But the boy (and he really was a boy), shook his head, sweat and tears mingling, panic coming off him like heat, gun shaking in his white knuckled grip, spitting out desperate, threatening words that Alicia didn’t understand, while the older woman clutched her dress and sobbed “Abhaya, no, no, inakara!” and a rush of other words.
Alicia’s heart didn’t race, though. It felt like it had simply stopped dead in her chest, and she felt nothing but coldness as she reached out and touched Kalinda’s back, saying her name in a whisper that no one could’ve heard.
Then the boy raised the gun right at Kalinda’s head and Alicia saw his grip tightening.
“Roka dena! Roka dena!” It took Alicia several seconds to realize it was Kalinda shouting. It surprised the boy, too, whose grip wavered.
Then Kalinda was speaking in a rush of Hindi; at first the tone was insistently pleading, then calmly explaining, then dismissive and a little contemptuous, as her hands waved or pointed at him. He slowly broke down during her verbal barrage and shrank, his hand and the gun in it dropping down against his leg and Pariyat surged forward to clutch his head against her breast, soothing him and petting his hair. When the gun finally thudded against the floor, Kalinda moved.
Still eyeing the mother and son, Kalinda turned halfway and blindly shoved Alicia towards their front door. Just as they reached the threshold, Pariyat raised her head and said “Please don’t tell on my boy.”
Kalinda only said “I don’t care about him,” and pushed Alicia out into the hall.
Alicia felt confused and weak on her feet, unable to remember the path they took to get there; the simple hallway suddenly seemed like a maze. She felt Kalinda’s hard grip on her elbow pulling her down the hallway and was dimly aware of wary heads peaking out from some of the other apartments they passed along the way.
She didn’t really come to until she found herself sitting in the passenger seat of Kalinda’s car and looked up to see Kalinda’s palms resting against her window, not moving from where they'd slammed the door shut. She was gulping air and her eyes looked horrified through the glass.
Then she watched Kalinda stumble behind the car and throw the driver’s side open and climb in, her keys clutched in her hand. She didn’t start it, but just stared unfocused at the ignition, her other hand groping for the door locks.
Alicia wanted to say are you alright, are you alright to drive, you shielded me, what where you doing, what were you thinking, I didn’t even know, I wasn’t sure you even cared, really, and you stepped in front of me, but when she opened her mouth “Wh-what was that?” was the only thing that came out.
Kalinda’s eyes tore away from the dash and darted at her rear and side mirrors, checking that no one had followed them to the car, then they stared in front of her again. “He helped to rob a gas station last night. He’s green…he was…he thought we were coming for him.”
Alicia’s mind went numb at the thought that they'd almost been killed because of a misunderstanding with a teenager.
The engine turned over and Kalinda put the car in gear.
“Maybe we should wait…for a minute. I mean, are you sure…”
“Yeah,” Kalinda said softly, and pulled away.
They made their way silently back towards the firm, Alicia feeling a knot of emotion and words stuck at her throat. Then, at a stoplight, Kalinda squeezed the steering wheel and said, “I’m good at my job.”
Alicia’s eyes widened. “What?”
“I’m good at my job. You can mistrust me, you can hate me, but when I say it's better if we handle something in the field a certain way, you have to listen to me.” Kalinda voice had started low, but she was practically shouting by the end, the closest thing to an angry outburst Alicia had ever heard from her. Then she muttered again, “I’m good at my job.” And Alicia finally saw the tears streaming over her otherwise stoic face.
The light had changed and cars were honking, but Kalinda just gripped the wheel harder. Alicia reached over and grabbed her wrist and squeezed. That seemed to prod Kalinda to move and she let her right arm rest between them as she drove away again, and Alicia didn’t let go.
“I don’t hate you.” Her voice was faint, nervous, and she repeated the words more strongly, “I don’t hate you. I tried and I couldn’t. I can’t.” Her hand tightened on Kalinda’s arm. “I’m sorry. I said we could try to be friends again, but that means me too, it’s not just you. I have to try, too.”
After a hesitation, Kalinda nodded, watery eyes still on the road.
Alicia looked around to see what street they were on, and started calculating the route to the nearest bar. There was no way they were going back to work in their separate glass cubicles and pretend this didn’t happen. She needed something harsh and liquid to burn away the fear stuck in her throat. She needed to see Kalinda unbloodied and breathing in front of her for some time before she’d really start to believe they were both okay.
She was going to tell Kalinda to turn at the next right, but again her brain and her mouth were in opposition. “Why do you want people to think you can’t speak Hindi?”
Kalinda chewed on her lip.
“You told Cary you couldn’t,” Alicia continued.
“Didn’t. I said I didn’t, not that I couldn’t.”
“Why was that important?” Alicia asked and said “turn right” and Kalinda did without question. “Why was it important to make people think you couldn’t?”
Another pause. “That was Leela’s life. Not mine.”
“Okay,” Alicia said. And she knew she wasn’t going to be telling Cary, or anyone else, any differently.