A/N: Okay. Okay. There was that episode this week, and... stuff happened. Let's just forget about that for a few minutes to finish this story? *begs*
Alicia Cavanaugh Florrick's eyes tracked up and down the bustling corridor of the courthouse, not quite sure what she was looking for. For some people, the noise and crowd of this place might be distracting, disconcerting – but this was her element. She tried to use that sense of familiarity to calm her frayed nerves and help her focus on the task at hand.
It was amazing how much easier it was to focus when she wasn't overly preoccupied by matters of the heart. Still, so often the things that required her focus were things that weighed heavily on her.
A few months ago, Kalinda had taken pictures of a husband in a compromising position with a woman who most certainly wasn't his wife. At that time, the firm's clients were a group of the man's employees, who were suing to recover money lost when their company stock program turned out to be worth next to nothing during a salary freeze – a freeze before during which their boss had gifted himself with an excessive salary and lavish bonuses. The discovery of the infidelity was only collateral damage in that particular case – but a few well-placed and just-this-side-of-ethical insinuations (backed up by Kalinda's photos) had been strong motivators for the wife to cooperate with the investigation. Once the wife had figured out it wasn't only his employees that her husband was robbing blind, she'd become the an important witness in the class action suit… and today, the wife was their client in a much more personal matter - the custody hearing for the couple's children.
Today, Alicia had to assume that the husband's philandering and pilfering likely also reflected on his skills as a father.
Part of her felt like she should be doing her bit to comfort and prepare the client for what was coming, but Will seemed to have that under control… sitting with the pale and tired-looking women and talking to her in soothing tones.
This was by no means the most difficult case they'd ever represented, but the circumstances touched Alicia in a place that might never be entirely healed, and it unnerved her. So instead of her usual pre-trial routine of consulting with her co-counsel and reviewing her notes, she sat down on the opposite end of the long bench as Will and the client, taking a moment to breathe. She rubbed her temples and closed her eyes, until she heard a familiar, lilting voice asking, "You ready for this?"
Lashes rising, her gaze followed Kalinda's petite form from the long line of her boots' stiletto heels, to the smooth, crisp pleat of her skirt and soft leather jacket, to the face she'd memorized every detail of. Alicia was surprised to see her here; the evidence she'd collected stood on its own, and her presence wasn't strictly required. But she felt relieved; she always seemed to be a little more on her game, when she knew Kalinda was sitting in the back of the gallery. "I stayed up most the night preparing, so… ready as I'm going to get."
Kalinda eased down on the bench beside her. "This one is hard for you."
"They're rarely easy."
Kalinda gave her that look – the one that told Alicia she could talk around it all she wanted, and Kalinda would still see every anxiety, every struggle, and her poker face only worked in court. "Jury sympathy's going to be on with us." She gestured with her chin to the pacing client. "Always feels better to feel like you're on the good side."
"Absolutely." That part always ensured she'd sleep easier at night. "I hope we're fighting to get those kids back where they belong." People were starting to migrate into the courtroom, and Alicia's gaze followed them. "Suppose I should go get set up."
Kalinda nodded, giving her a brief but encouraging smile as they both stood. "Hey."
"Dinner tonight at my place?"
The simple question penetrated through Alicia's anxiety about the impending court session. Her place. Even though they had implicitly agreed that these were the kinds of things they were going to try to do, each little indication that it was true gave Alicia a small jolt of shock, a little nervousness, and not just a bit of delight. She managed to contain her response to a cool eyebrow raise. "Very domestic of you, Miss Sharma," she teased.
"You wish," Kalinda smirked. "Take-out."
It was good to know that not everything had changed.
Another sniffle from the end of the bench, and both of them glanced over to where Will was urging the client to stand and move toward the courtroom, before turning back to each other.
"You're going to do great," Kalinda promised. And nothing felt as natural then as reaching out to take her proffered hand and squeezing – their fingers intertwining and holding and comforting. Alicia smiled at her gratefully.
Out of the corner of her eye, Alicia caught sight of Will turned toward her, checking to see if she were coming. She glanced at him, not letting go of Kalinda's hand, and found him regarding them with his head cocked slightly and something unreadable in his eyes. It may have been curiosity and question, with a hint of relief that two of his star employees were getting along again after weeks of tension – and maybe just a bit of unwanted realization – but it all came and passed in a few seconds, before he made to lead the client by her elbow into the courtroom.
Alicia discovered she didn't really mind any of those reactions.
She gave him a small nod to let him know she was following him, and returned her attention to Kalinda for one more moment as they squeezed then released one another, hands dropping to their sides.
"See you after, then?" Alicia asked.
Kalinda's soft smile and wink gave her as much reassurance as her tireless night of preparation had. "Count on it."
And whatever trials lay ahead for her, and for them…
A/N: Thank you, everyone who has been following this story, and especially those who have been faithfully commenting. Super MEGA thanks to lizook and shipperatheartrealistbynature for their help and support, and Limelight for both the beta, and for making me fall even more in love with this fandom and pairing.
I'd love to hear what you think now that it's all over.