The office is stiller than still. Kalinda has disabled all the cameras, but the city reflections fragmented in the dark glass still make her feel like she's being watched. Her breath is even but shallow, and when the elevator dings its arrival the sound seems to tunnel up from the floor and through her body to reach her ears, muffling Nick's footsteps on the carpet. She doesn't turn, but she can feel him watching her.
"That was a bit much," he says finally.
Kalinda isn't looking at him. "I let you off easy."
"You broke a few of Bill's ribs."
"I'm not surprised."
"What do you want?"
Kalinda's ready for this. She explains that she's called the police, that they're probably swarming the impound lot as they speak. She unfolds her map, explains the storage locker in Detroit full of dusty cash, how easy it will be, before they really start looking, for him to cross the border. He stares at her for a while, his eyes glassy and hard.
Looking at him now, she can't believe she's let it go on this long. He was Leela's lover, Leela's husband, a world she can't believe she belonged to, can't believe she ever fit.
"Thorough," Nick says finally.
"Shouldn't be surprised. You always were." He takes the locker key, folds the envelope into his jacket pocket, his eyes still locked to hers.
"When did you take care of all this?" he asks. "Didn't you have to work today?"
"Took the afternoon off."
"Well, that explains it," he says. "Funny, though. I thought they would've called you."
She looks at him, masking her uncertainty. "No need."
"Yeah, probably not." He shrugs insouciantly. "But she's your friend, isn't she?"
"My lawyer. My former lawyer. You knew she dropped me as a client, yeah?"
"Nick." She can hear herself breathing. "What are you talking about?"
"You think I'm an idiot." He takes a few steps towards her, and when she doesn't move—it's taking all her self-control not to—enters her space, puts his hands on her shoulders. "You thought that since I got here. I'm not an idiot." Her throat is dry. He brings his lips down to her ear and kisses it, slow and thorough in a way that makes her shudder, before he says, "She'll be in hospital now, I suppose. Or … something."
Kalinda's jammed her elbow into his gut before she knows she did it. He doubles over, gripping the edge of the conference table with his left hand, so when she stands she towers over him. Thirty seconds ago that might have made a difference to her. "Tell me you didn't." Kalinda's pulse feels like bullets.
"I knew it." He smiles, though his breath is still ragged with the pain. "You're such a slut, Kalinda." In his mouth her name sounds like a joke, like the name itself is the insult. "Stayed busy while I was gone. Every time I think I take care of one, there's another. But really, it's her you're talking to all the time, isn't it?" He nods, a sharp little jerk of his sharp chin. "I thought it was that federal agent first. I thought it was Cary. But when I got it—I don't see how I could have missed it."
"Nick." She barely manages the word.
"And I don't think much of your taste. I mean, I guess she's pretty enough, but icy. Icy bitch."
"She didn't deserve you."
He's collected himself enough to stand up again, but he's still to weak to block when Kalinda punches his throat, groin, and gut in short order. He collapses, grunting in pain.
Didn't. Didn't. She didn't. He didn't. He can't have. He can't.
"Tell me where she is," Kalinda says, feeling tears choke in on her voice. She puts her heel on his wrist, bears down until she hears something crack.
But Nick still looks up at her and says, "I don't know where she is."
Will's the only one there when Kalinda arrives, twisting his hands in the waiting room outside the ICU. When she finally checked her voice mail, realizing as she squealed out of the parking structure that she'd had her phone off since Michigan that afternoon, it was Will's voice, low and ragged as rocks in a tumbler, telling her which hospital, then the floor number a couple of hours later.
He looks up just enough to register she's there, then stares again at the wall behind her hip. "Peter's there. Her kids." He jerks his head towards the double doors, blank-faced and unapologetic. "Diane was here for a little while. Told her I'd call. Eli was here, but he's managing the crisis."
Kalinda nods. "How …" She can't finish the sentence, and taking another step seems out of the question.
"She lost a lot of blood." Will's still talking to the wall, which is fine with Kalinda; he's just another person whose pain she's caused, she doesn't have to see it. "A lot. When they brought her in—" He stops talking for a second or two. That's all right with Kalinda, too. "I don't know much, just what I'm hearing out here. They haven't had a chance—and, you know, it's me. They only talk to family. He might talk to you. Peter, I mean."
"Where—where was she?"
"Parking garage. Not ours, though. The one across the street."
"Why was she there?"
"We don't know yet," says Will. "Her car's still in ours, they checked."
Black spots start to swim in front of Kalinda's eyes, and her vision tunnels. She backs up against the wall, grips the paisley upholstery of the waiting-room chair so hard she thinks she might break it, or more likely her fingers. The breaths she takes are hollow and harsh and taste of sulfur and bile.
Will glances up. "You all right?" he says, not bothering to pretend he's really interested.
Kalinda doesn't answer.
It's Zach Florrick who finally finds them a few hours later. They've sat in silence broken only by the occasional cadre of nurses rushing by with a patient on a bed; when the nausea got too powerful to bear, Kalinda made it to the bathroom across the hall before she started to dry-heave, then reentered the icy dome of silence when she was sure she was done. They don't notice Zach until he speaks, and then his voice shatters the air that has been freezing them and protecting them.
"My mom's stable."
Their heads snap up at the same time, but Will's the one who finds his voice first. "What?"
"My mom's stable. That's what they said. They—they got the bullets out." He swallows, and his voice shakes, and he looks and sounds like Alicia, and the bullets echo inside Kalinda's temples. "Or, I mean, one of them just went out already. Like, it passed in and out. But they got the other one. She's—they said she's going to be all right. They're moving her to a different room tomorrow."
Will stands, suddenly, all one fluid motion, his relief a tidal wave. He embraces Zach, who stands with his face blank and puzzled and overwhelmed, meeting Kalinda's eyes for the split second that Kalinda's able to bear it.
"Thank God," Will breathes, letting the boy go.
"We knew you were here, so I thought …" Zach doesn't know how to finish that sentence. "You can't go in the room, but do you want to see her?"
"It's okay with your dad?" Will asks.
"It's okay with my dad."
Will hovers for a split second, then follows Zach towards the double doors. Both of them turn to look at her. "K?" Will says.
Kalinda shakes her head.
"Come on, Kalinda," says Zach. "She's all right." The dazed expression has begun to pass from his face, as though telling them made Alicia's rescue real. "It'll be good for her to see you."
He's wrong, of course. It would be better if Alicia didn't see her now, if Alicia never had to see her again. It would have been better if Alicia'd continued to hate her, never been forthcoming, never tried to make it work.
But oh, Kalinda needs it, needs a new picture of Alicia to replace the horrors that have been flashing across her retinas each time she blinks. Alicia is breathing, stable, a few hundred feet away from her.
And unconscious. Surely Kalinda's presence won't hurt.
Kalinda forces herself from the stiffly carpeted chair, follows a few paces behind Will. She hears the suck of air as the doors swing shut behind her.