Fandom: The Good Wife
Pairing: Alicia/Mattie (with unrequited Kalinda/Alicia and cannon Alicia/Peter)
Word Count: over 27,000 total
Disclaimer: I don't own this show... (and am not getting any profit from this etc etc)
Spoilers: Written after Season 4 Ep15 (with bit of eps embedded) but it goes a bit AU from there...
[Spoilers for Season 4]Mattie befriended Alicia and then declared her intentions to run against her husband. Bad timing or betrayal? And why can’t either of them just accept that they really shouldn’t have anything to do with each other anymore?
Author Note: The very fact that nothing seems to exist for these two, especially after the eye!sex in Season 4 Ep 6 boggles the mind. So I had to fix that. And evidentially spend over 20,000 words doing it. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed excuses to rewatch specific Good Wife scenes... ;-D
Alicia knocked back her first shot as soon as it was free of the bartender's hands. Kalinda looked at her with surprise edging her features before she broached the obvious question.
"So who are you avoiding?" Kalinda asked, a hint of playful sarcasm in her voice before she downed her own shot.
Alicia looked at Kalinda for a moment before responding, gulping down the liquid that burned in her throat.
"Mattie Hayward," she replied pointedly before turning from Kalinda and gesturing to the barkeep for another.
"What did she want?" Kalinda asked evenly, watching Alicia's face as her usual stern facade loosened and allowed some emotions to play across her brow. Confusion. Reticence.
"To go for drinks," Alicia responded factually.
"What did she really want?" Kalinda asked, swirling her now empty glass.
"To be friends I guess," Alicia replied, surprised at the truth of her statement. She had been so absorbed in her own anger that she hadn't even considered the possibility that Mattie was being truthful. Her brows furrowing as she nursed her second shot.
Kalinda watched as Alicia's gaze grew inward.
"And you don't want to be friends," Kalinda prompted, purposely obtuse as she watched Alicia's reaction.
Alicia turned toward Kalinda, almost squinting as she tried to find the right words.
"I don't know if I can trust her, and even if I could, I don't..." she hesitated before continuing, "have a great track record with friends," she finished carefully. In any other tone in would've been a barb but Alicia said with a sadness that was almost touching.
Kalinda swallowed the pain Alicia's comment caused, knowing that the betrayal, while unintentional, had been real.
"Well she became your 'friend', had drinks with you in which you discussed Peter and is now running for public office against him," Kalinda pointed out, "Seems you got the betrayal over right away," she joked, ordering another for herself and instantly throwing it back before focusing again on Alicia who was still trying to find the right response.
"I could look into her if you want," Kalinda offered, trying to fill the silence that had started to feel too pregnant with hurt.
"I don't think that can answer the questions I have," Alicia responded, tracing her finger absently around the rim of her shot.
"That isn't a response," Kalinda replied, raising her eyebrows.
Alicia smiled wordlessly at her friend and Kalinda instantly brightened.
"Thank you Kalinda but I don't think that will help," she rephrased, taking another sip of her shot and absently looking at her watch.
When she saw the time she downed the rest of it, rustling for some cash before she slid herself off the bar stool.
"I have to pick Grace up, " she explained as she gathered up her things and threw on her jacket.
Kalinda nodded quietly.
"Thank you for the information for tomorrow," she offered as she turned to go, making it two steps before Kalinda called after her.
Alicia turned and took a step back so only a pace separated her from Kalinda.
"Don't deny yourself friendship just because you have been let down in the past," Kalinda uttered, wondering why she had let herself say such touching drivel so loudly. But Alicia did that to her, made her expose herself. "Not that I trust her," she qualified.
"You don't trust anyone," Alicia responded.
Kalinda paused for a moment, catching Alicia's eyes in a pointed moment as if to say, 'But you,' before she nodded to the general truth of the statement. "And if she betrays you she will wish the election was the only thing she had to lose," Kalinda added icily, wondering if it would cover up the tenor of her earlier statement.
Alicia nodded and smiled, an honest but tired smile, and Kalinda forgot about analysing what she had said, allowing a smile to spread across her face.
"Thank you Kalinda," Alicia replied, leaning forward to quickly clasp the hand resting in Kalinda's lap.
Kalinda nodded as Alicia's hand withdrew, a tight-lipped smile giving nothing away by reflex and she watched Alicia exit the bar and hail a taxi on the street.
Mattie sat in her office reviewing the recent polling data. She was still loosing to Peter Florrick but the gap was closing. Although she hadn't cultivated Alicia's friendship with darker motives, it had been helping her in ways she hadn't anticipated and she couldn't deny that Alicia's continued friendship could give her a significant edge. Yet part of her was glad that Alicia seemed intent to reject any offer Mattie made, it saved her from further betraying the one person she really wanted to be completely honest with for reasons that still eluded her. And yet, if she could nurture that friendship back into existence...
She sighed, closing her laptop and wishing that at least one relationship of hers could remain untainted by overarching motives. She had hoped Alicia could be that person but she was now in a game larger than herself. If she were able to make Alicia talk to her again would she use that to beat Peter and improve Illinois? She wasn't sure if she knew the answer to that and was again thankful that Alicia seemed intent on never allowing her the choice.
Alicia lie awake in bed, wondering why out of all the things happening in her life right now, that it was thoughts of Mattie Hayward keeping her from sleeping. Part of her was still bitter about all that had occurred but as the anger began to ebb she realised that she honestly believed that Mattie hadn't been up to anything underhanded. And yet the, albeit circumstantial, evidence made it seem rather unlikely that she had befriended Alicia with any other purpose.
According to information Kalinda had collected for Peter's campaign Mattie met with Indira Star both before and after evidence had come out exonerating Peter of any wrongdoing. But was that Mattie's scheming or Indira's? Mattie's feminist card was easy enough to play upon and Indira may have been able to sway Mattie knowing, as a donor, that having her on Indira's side would be a big win. If it had all been an elaborate game why donate to Peter at all, unless Mattie thought it was the only way of gaining Alicia's trust? What did Alicia's trust get her now?
Alicia remembered Mattie's face when Mattie had asked her out for drinks, the awkwardness of her phrasing, even before Alicia thought she was hitting on her, and the loneliness in her voice. Surely it couldn't have all been a lie?
She thought about the time Mattie sat before her in her office apologising for running against Peter. Her eyes filled with both apology but also a determination to do what she thought best.
Remembering the episodes in succession made that fire more pronounced, surely she was doing this despite her desire to have just one friend who didn't want to be her friend for her money.
Or maybe that was the way Alicia wanted to see it.
But Mattie wanted to try again, which meant she was either honest or had the biggest balls of anyone Alicia had ever known. Alicia wasn't sure she could discount either.
She rolled to her side and put her hand under her pillow, cursing her brain for not letting this go. She tried to focus on something, anything, eventually settling for the memory of her and Peter and their afternoon liaison on the campaign bus. But as she drifted off to sleep they weren't alone, Mattie was standing behind Peter, arguing with him for more debates as he tried to come inside her.
Alicia closed her office door, glad Cary wasn't around, and took a deep breath. After the sleepless night and the trying day at court all she wanted to do was curl up on her couch with a glass of wine and then go to bed. But tonight was the anniversary of the Women's Leadership Forum and so, instead, she had to hang on Peter's arm, smile and tell everyone what a wonderful Christian she was: it was Eli's most recently ploy and Alicia felt slightly guilty for her part in it. Eli had reminded her, on one of her less patient days, that Mattie had used their friendship to run against Peter and insisted upon knowing Mattie's religious viewpoint. Alicia had eventually admitted that Mattie was an atheist, which lead to Eli's most recent strategy of exposing Mattie and forcing Alicia to lie about her similar belief. Needless to say she wasn't looking forward to it but if there was one thing she had learned to do in the past few years it was smile and nod and hope it wouldn't last too long.
She took off her shoes, briefly massaging her feet before putting them back on, reapplying her lipstick and putting a brush through her hair.
Just a few more hours.
Peter met her at the entrance of the building that held Lockhart/Gardner, thanked her for coming, and escorted her to the awaiting car. She slid in, feeling the leather cold against the top of her calves, and moved in further as Peter slid in beside her.
"I really appreciate you coming," Peter repeated, folding his hands in his lap as they pulled away from the curb.
"Of course," Alicia replied, turning to him with a thin-lipped smile and a nod before turning and absently watching the lights as they moved through late Chicago traffic.
Peter nodded before looking out his own window. He turned away after a moment to look at Alicia, "So," he offered, "how was work?" he asked by way of conversation.
Alicia turned to him politely, "It was fine," she replied with as much enthusiasm she could muster before turning back to the window.
"That good eh?" Peter asked, recognising his wife's tone.
Alicia smiled in spite of herself. Sometimes Peter was a stranger, this man who whisked in and out of her life, borrowing the children or requesting a photo op, but sometimes he was her husband, the man who knew every nuance of her behaviour, the one who had shared her bed and helped her raise her children. It was this man part of her would always love.
She lost Peter as soon as they arrived but found the wine easily enough. She picked up a glass, drinking it down as Eli approached her, her aggravation tripling at the sight of him.
"You look great Alicia, really," he commented.
Alicia stared back without responding.
"Is everything okay?" he asked in response to her wordless glare.
"No, everything is fine," she replied, in a voice that clearly didn't convey it, "Just let me know when you want me to say I believe in God Eli," she finished before turning and leaving him at the table.
Jordan caught up to her as she moved through the room and she rebuffed him as well, making a beeline for Mattie.
"Alicia, it's been a long time."
"Yes it has," she replied before continuing, "You have any new friends?" she asked, knowing it would hurt and relishing the pain briefly reflected in Mattie's eyes.
"Just so you know Alicia, I didn't break off our friendship, you did. And if you could let go of this victimhood pose that you're hanging on to.."
"You know what you can do with your victimhood..." Alicia cut in just as Peter arrived between them.
"Hey," he interjected, "There you are."
He made small talk with Mattie while Alicia forced a smile on her face.
"Everything okay here?" he asked turning to Alicia.
"Just grand darling," she responded, refreshing her wine glass before she leaned in to his ear, "I would love to get you into the bathroom.." she started, desperate for anything to release this frustration and anger boiling within her.
But before she could finish her sentence they were interrupted.
It was the plant Eli had arranged to ask Mattie about her atheism. But instead of having to drag it out of her she freely admitted that she was an atheist and that she was proud of who she was and would have to let the voters decide if that was a significant impediment to her being elected into office.
The confidence with which she handled this potentially significant blow made Alicia second-guess herself and wish she had had the same self-pride when Eli had cornered her into lying about her own beliefs.
The question moved to Peter and he responded with something leading but non-specific before the question came to her. There was a momentary fight between obeying what she had been sent to say and rebelling against everyone who was willing her to lie.
"I am an atheist," she said, hearing the words before she realised she had decided. She winked at Eli as his face plummeted. "If you'll excuse me," she asked, leaving the interviewer with Peter, Mattie and Eli as she went back to the table, downing the glass in her hand and picking up another one.
"Thank you," Mattie said as she came up behind Alicia.
"I didn't do that for you," Alicia bit back.
"I am not thanking you for me," she responded, looking pointedly at Alicia before excusing herself and continuing to make her way through the room.
Alicia rolled her eyes at Mattie's back, hating her for being right.
The weeks wore on and Alicia's anger at Mattie and Eli paled. She was offered partnership, had it rescinded, beat Diane and Will in mock court, kissed Will in a moment of weakness and had partnership offered again and accepted, swallowing her pride for the countless time.
Partnership wasn't as expected however and she found herself at odds with Cary and the other fourth years that had been her co-counsel on numerous cases. She had another uncomfortable conversation with Diane before she left to support Peter at the debate. It left her feeling both stressed and empowered. She would grow into this new role as she had everything else. It would come; she just needed to persevere.
She was so lost in her thoughts that she hadn't realised she had ended up on the wrong side of the stage until she heard Mattie's voice.
"Wrong side," she said, "I believe your group will be watching from the other wing."
"Thank you," Alicia responded civilly, realising that despite everything she still couldn't hate Mattie, she honestly liked and respected her. A knot formed in her stomach as she realised part of her missed seeing Mattie around.
"It's not going to work you know," Mattie added as Alicia turned to go.
"Jordan sent you over here to unsettle me before the debate. It's not going to work," she repeated.
The knot in her stomach tightened for a moment, was she capable of unsettling her?
She covered her nervousness with a brief laugh.
"They are always wondering if men and women can be friends, but the real questions is, can women?" Alicia pointed out, a sadness in her voice she hadn't meant to convey.
"I had hoped," Mattie replied before a stagehand came up and pulled her away to ready her for the debate, leaving Alicia to wonder if that had been all she meant to say.
Alicia watched her go, trying to ignore the pain conveyed in her statement and the way it made the knot in her stomach grow tighter.
Alicia watched the debate from a screen on the side of the stage, occasionally turning and watching the real thing from the side view. After pussyfooting around for the first part of the debate Peter went after Mattie. Although it was what she was hoping for, seeing Mattie now, desperately trying to regain her standing, made her feel bad for wanting her to do poorly, but surely it was more important that her husband did well?
Mattie caught her eye as she glanced backstage, trying to gain a foothold that would return her to good standing with the audience. Something ephemeral passed between them and Alicia nodded, her stomach clenching as the conflicting emotions within her made her nauseous.
Mattie swept the audience as she regained a small hold on the audience after Peter had ripped into her about her job losses. She tried to estimate numbers, and who she still had with her. Her eyes wandered backstage briefly and she caught Alicia's eye. Alicia nodded by way of recognition, her lips pressed together in a firm line. Mattie paused, took a sip of her water and cleared her throat, Alicia's presence only adding to her desire to excel, the nerves in her stomach flip flopping as she felt Alicia's gaze on her as she continued. By the end of the debate she was sweating with the heat of the lights and although she had taken a bit of a beating, Peter had also exposed more than a few flaws. It wasn't ideal but it was an outcome she could live with.
Alicia opened the door to her apartment with barely contained zeal. She slipped off her shoes as her arches instantly relaxed upon the hard floor. She slid off her jacket, put down her purse, and made her way to the kitchen to open a half-empty bottle of red wine. She poured herself a large glass before popping her head into her children's rooms and then making her way to the couch. She sat down, tucked her feet under her and took a sip of her glass, letting the flavour settle in her mouth before swallowing. The tension slid down her back as the wine flowed across her tongue and down her throat. She could hear the kids in the background, Zach chatting to Nisa and Grace typing on the laptop, and smiled, enjoying the singular moment of relative quiet, banishing all other thoughts from her mind.
Mattie stayed at the debate long after Peter had gone home, squeezing every last opportunity from those gathered. When she finally entered her empty house she felt nervous and tired in equal measure. It could have been worse. If it hadn't been for Peter's sudden rejuvenation at the end she would have had the debate easily. And yet she was exposed when it came to her own employment numbers. It wasn't what it sounded like but it didn't look good.
She pulled off her heels, taking them up to her room. As she proceeded up the stairs she felt the silence, almost suffocating after the noise of the debate. She heard every echo magnified, the rustling of her pant leg, her heels tapping against a metal bit on the bag balanced on her arm, the clink of her rings against the banister.
She hated the evenings when all the staff had gone home and there was nothing left but her and the silence. There was nothing to do but be alone. She had companions when she wanted, but the warm body in the house wasn't worth the fuck that left her cold when they disappeared into the night, leaving the house silent as ever. Usually she could concentrate on work, on her political contributions, her social mentoring, but tonight she was too tired and the silence rang loud in her ears and made her achievements seem small in proportion to the emptiness that surrounded her.
She entered her bedroom; the carpets making her world shrink into this one room, comforting, safe. She took off her clothes and put on the silk two piece that she wore to bed, her brain searching for that one image that could allow her to sleep in peace.
She found herself watching a magnified version of Alicia at the end of the debate when their eyes had met. She concentrated on that vision, ignoring any recognition of why that image was comforting her, and watched Alicia fade away into the darkness of sleep.