Author's note: This has been updated on 17/4/14 after I noticed I had missed out a few paragraphs when I cut and pasted it onto the site. Sorry!

Alicia cradles a drink in her hand as she sits the bar and stares ahead. Only a few drinkers remain and as the hum of a myriad of conversations begins to subside, she finally begins to process her thoughts and reflect on the days events. As she does so, a woman crosses the floor with the familiar click of her heeled boots, to sit beside her. It has been a long time since they even shared the same building, never mind the same bar.

The women sit side by side as a heavy silence hangs between them. Each feeling the need to fill it (because it's been a while since they've done this and so much has happened since) but each cautious about making the first move.

It's Alicia who pierces the silence. She swallows a mouthful of her cocktail and lets out a sigh, 'Well that was...' She can't find the words to sum up the strange, numbing experience that was Will's funeral.

Suddenly, everything comes into focus. The fog is lifted and Alicia recognises the source of the dull ache she can't seem to shake off and the cocktails aren't able to shift. She gathers herself up a little, and opens her mouth to speak. It takes a while for the words to come...

'I feel so', she hesitates to use the word that she knows will fit it and wonders why the truth of it has only just occurred to her, '...alone.' she finishes.

Alicia's head drops a little before gathering the courage to turn and raise her eyes to meet the questioning gaze of the other woman. She averts her eyes again and examines the olives bobbing in her glass.

She takes another swift sip of her drink (for courage) and swallows hard, 'I really miss what we had'.

Kalinda straightens up and reaches to put her hand on Alicia's shoulder, but then loses her nerve and instead tucks a loose strand of hair behind her ear. She nods and then lets it out like a sigh, 'Will has left a hole in all of our lives,' she says, quietly, inclining her head towards her.

Alicia turns to meet Kalinda's dark eyes once more. This time she holds her gaze.

'I wasn't talking about Will', her voice is thick with emotion as she pushes out the words and lets them fall 'I was talking about us...About our friendship.'

There. She has said it. The words are out at last and seem to hang in the air between the two women.

Kalinda is caught off guard and in that moment she feels as if her heart might pound out of her chest. She leans back against the bar stool to steady herself. Her throat is tight and she doesn't trust herself to say anything. With immense effort she turns her stool to face Alicia fully and the investigator in her tries to interpret the older woman's body language and searches her face for any indication of where this conversation might be heading. To hope? or to despair all over again?

She has spent this past year trying hard to patch over the Alicia-shaped hole in her heart. She's grieved, mourned and laid Alicia and her friendship to rest. It hasn't been easy but things have finally started to heal. Being at different firms has helped. Even now, though, things can set her back. Like phoning Alicia to tell her Will was dead...She shudders at the thought.

Yes, she has kept an eye out for Alicia, not really knowing if it was out of a need to protect her or perhaps an effort to atone for what she's done...Or was it something else? Whatever it is, Kalinda has given up trying to understand her own behaviour and emotions wherever Alicia is concerned. Now here she is and Alicia is causing all of the emotions she has suppressed to start bubbling back up. She is torn between the urge to run or to simply pass out.

'Alicia..I'

'Please. Kalinda.' Alicia interrupts her and turns her own stool to face her, her knees meeting those of the younger woman and yet she doesn't flinch at this invasion of her personal space; Though it does serve to momentarily distract her from Alicia's steady, constant gaze. Kalinda wants to break away from the intensity of it all. Afraid of what Alicia can see behind her eyes. She feels...vulnerable! An unfamiliar and unwelcome emotion for her.

Alicia presses on. 'I'm so sorry for how I have treated you, Kalinda. Please forgive me.'

The younger woman is confused and shakes her head a little.

'What?...No...I don't...' Kalinda starts..

'Let me get this out, Kalinda, please. You were my best friend. Peter was my husband. You hurt me. I hated you for what you did because I felt so betrayed. But...I allowed it to cloud everything. Everything. I judged you more harshly than any and every other person in my life that had let me down...and kept letting me down. They built me up and then knocked me down again: Peter; My Highland park friends; Maddie; Yes, even Will.'...

'Alicia...', Kalinda is pleading now, 'please'. She can't get hurt again. She can't pull herself back on her feet again this time. She wants Alicia to stop.

Alicia reaches out for Kalinda and grasps her forearms gently but firmly and again the younger woman allows her to do so. Kalinda is wrong-footed by Alicia's self-assurance. Since when did the Alicia Florrick she met a lifetime ago on her first day at Lockhart Gardener become so determined and strong? It affects Kalinda. She's supposed to be the strong one but she finds herself acquiescing. She bites her lip and resigns herself to her fate...

Alicia senses she has been given consent to continue but she proceeds carefully and gently now...Her voice is calm and soothing in stark contrast to the pounding of her own heart.

'I don't know why I was so hard on you. Your friendship was so precious to me. It was something that belonged to me. Not Peter or anyone else. Perhaps that's why I reacted so badly when I found out about you and him. I don't know.' She shakes her head then settles herself again and takes a breathe.

'But like you said, you never knew me then. More to the point, I never knew you.'

She waits for her to meet her gaze again and then she says with a tone that is measured and precise so Kalinda will take each syllable in...'You were Leela back then...'. The younger woman winces at this and bites her lip. 'And although you will try to deny it and punish yourself, it isn't just your name that has changed since then.' Alicia pauses. 'Leela Tahiri slept with my husband: Not Kalinda Sharma. Not the woman who passed me a note in my first court case and rescued me so many times when my cases seemed all but lost.'

Kalinda pulls back a little from Alicia's grasp as she feels herself losing her impeccable control...Her eyes are brimming with tears now and despite her desperate attempts to resist the rising emotions they finally spill unbidden and unexpected.

Alicia sees the impact of her words now and feels a wave of empathy for the beautiful, complex woman in front of her. Yet she knows that the only hope they have of moving forward is if they finally deal with what has happened once and for all. Nevertheless, it affects her deeply to see Kalinda's guard down. To see her so vulnerable and laid bare before her. She has pierced Kalinda's seemingly impenetrable armour and more surprising, she has been allowed to do so and there's no holding back now.

Alicia reaches up to touch Kalinda's cheek and gently brushes away a tear with her thumb. She surprises herself with her boldness (this is Kalinda, after all!)

Kalinda's emotions are in turmoil now...Her palms are sweaty and her head is throbbing. She can feel her throat tightening but she is rooted to the spot. She feels her skin flush in reaction to the touch and she wonders if Alicia can feel it.

Alicia is well aware of how uncomfortable this must be for Kalinda. She just doesn't do heart to hearts. But she needs to get this off her chest once and for all - no matter how difficult it is in practice (it seemed so much easier in her head when she had played out this scenario over and over).

'Kalinda, in my anger and hurt I couldn't see that I had no right to take the moral high ground. It took my 13 year old daughter to make me stop and think. She has this amazing wisdom sometimes. She told me that in the bible Jesus said 'He who is without sin, throw the first stone'. Now, I'm not religious but he does have a point!' She raises her eyebrows a little at this before continuing, 'I know that I haven't been fair to you. I haven't lived by the same principles I have expected you to abide by. What right have I to judge you, Kalinda? I was married when I slept with Will.'

Kalinda can feel her eyes prickling with tears again and a lump rising in her throat as she listens, hardly daring to hope.

Alicia can see that Kalinda is hanging on every word but can't be sure where this will all lead. Has too much happened? Do they have a chance? She takes a deep, shuddering breath and continues as she struggles to control the emotion in her voice now.

'Kalinda. I can see now all that you have done for me. Your loyalty...The way you look out for me. In the beginning, you looked at this uptight, scared, out-of-her-depth mother of two and you gave me a chance. I was petrified when I walked into that office on my first day. I was crushed and humiliated and found myself having to start from scratch after 13 years. Everyone was watching me, judging me, waiting for me to curl into a ball and die. And you...You pass me a note, telling me to 'Keep calm.' She laughs at the thought of it now and Kalinda's mouth quirks into a smile..It releases some of the tension.

'Kalinda, you have had my back ever since, even when you could expect nothing in return you were there for me. And when I thought I had lost Grace...' Alicia's voice catches as the memories of that frightening few hours flood back, 'You found her...' she squeezes Kalinda's arms a little and searches her face, hoping that her words are getting through to her. That they mean something to her...They have to.

Kalinda's shoulders relax a little and she looks down at her hands.

'I wouldn't even have got past the first year at Lockhart Gardener without your help...' Alicia let's go of Kalinda now and lets her hands settle on her lap..She lets out a breath and closes her eyes, exhausted by all that she has said. In fact she feels wrung out.

Suddenly, Alicia feels self-conscious again and aware of her surroundings. She drops her head a little as she feels her courage begin to slip away as she asks what she knows is her ultimate question. She knows that everything hangs on this...And she still fears the answer.

'Kalinda?' she says as steadily as her constricted throat will allow.

'Yeah?' Kalinda says quietly and wearily from all of the spent emotion as she raises her brown eyes once more.

'You are the best friend I have ever had. I've missed you. I need you. Will you give me another chance?'

Kalinda lets the wonderful truth of Alicia's words wash over her. They are a poultice for her soul and she is shocked by the powerful surge of emotions it brings. For a moment she doesn't know whether to laugh or cry and she wrestles to keep everything in check. She isn't ready to let it all go now. Not yet.

But Kalinda knows that she will have to make changes. She has to open up. She has to let her in. She will do it because she has already tasted a world without Alicia in it and she can't to go back there again.

So Kalinda bites her lip a little, nods slowly and deliberately and then...

And then...

She tilts her head...

And she smiles...

That beautiful, genuine smile that lights up her whole face...the one she saves only for Alicia...

'Yeah. Yeah I will.' She says simply.

Alicia let's her own tears spill now because at this moment she knows absolutely and without question that everything is going to be alright...

THE END