ana_khouri (ana_khouri) wrote,
ana_khouri
ana_khouri

Expanding Radius - The Good Wife (Mattie/Alicia) Part 3

Title: Expanding Radius Part 3 (of 7 or so)
Author: Ana_khouri
Fandom: The Good Wife
Pairing: Alicia/Mattie (with unrequited Kalinda/Alicia and cannon Alicia/Peter)
Rating: M
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...
Synopsis: (***Spoilers for season 4***)
[Spoilers for Season 4]Mattie befriended Alicia and then declared her intentions to run against her husband.  Bad timing or betrayal?  And why cant either of them just accept that they really shouldnt 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 


***

It was late the next day when Alicia shut her office door and walked toward the elevator, noticing numerous office lights still on, even at this hour. 

Court had gone well today, the judge seemed to be taking their side, and although that didn't mean an absolute win, it didn't hurt. 

Other than the time she was leaving work, it had been a good day. 

She saw the elevator doors begin to shut and ran for it, anxious to get home.  She stuck her hand between the closing doors and pulled them apart to find herself staring at Mattie Hayward. 

"Alicia," Mattie exclaimed, eyes raised in honest surprise as her heart sped up in spite of herself. 

"Hi Mattie," Alicia replied hesitantly as she quickly assessed the situation, realised she couldn't get out of taking the elevator, and stepped carefully inside. 

She stood beside Mattie, far enough away that there was no chance of accidental contact but close enough that it didn't appear antagonistic.  She stared up at the display, the bright blue 28 reminding her how many floors they would have to endure in awkwardness.

The air resonated between them, the awkwardness creating an almost palpable tension.

"Going down?" Mattie offered by way of casual conversation. 

Alicia nodded and Mattie leaned forward to hit the ground floor button again. The doors slid shut. 

Alicia watched the blue display change to 27, 26, 25, trying to think of anything to say that would relieve the silently mounting tension. 

When they spoke it was at the same time.

"So what did you think of the debate?"
"What are you doing here so late?"

They paused, apology written on each face. Mattie bowed her head and extended her arm, "You first," she offered. 

Alicia was about to repeat her quite banal question when the lift shuttered. Alicia looked at the display: 17.  It shuttered again and stopped, the lights shifting to emergency. 

"Damn," Mattie intoned, "This better not be what I think it is."

Alicia looked at her and raised her eyebrows, waiting for her to explain her comment.

"They needed to do some work on the elevators in the other wing.  As they needed to shut down all the elevator power we asked them to wait until midnight," Mattie explained shuffling through her purse for her cell and tapping frantically before realising that there was no signal.  "They should, of course, have also checked no one was in them," she huffed as she looked around the elevator before finding the emergency call button.

Alicia nodded, remembering that Mattie owned most of the building, Lockhart/Gardner included.

Mattie had a response from the elevator repair team and her voice changed, growing louder and authoritative in a way Alicia never really associated with Mattie. 

The news from the repair team didn't sound good.  Alicia dug her phone out of her pocket - she had a faint signal and moved her phone around the elevator until she found the only spot where it stayed faint and didn't flicker in and out.  She sent a text to Zach and Grace, holding the phone in an awkwardly high position until the text sent. 

Then, with the eavesdropped knowledge that she wouldn't be out of here for the next half an hour at least, she eased herself on to the floor, taking off her shoes and tucking her feet beneath her.   

***

Mattie had gone all the way up the chain of authority within the elevator repair staff with no luck except to press the urgency of the situation and get a discount on the job. 

With no other place left to turn she eased herself next to Alicia with a sigh. 

As the sigh dissipated they were left in awkward silence again.  Alicia was trying to ignore her desperate need to know if Mattie ever was her friend while Mattie was thinking of, and discarding, possible conversation starters.  She glanced at Alicia out of the corner of her eye, hoping she would say something, anything, that would give her an edge in to what she was thinking.  Alicia stared straight ahead, knowing that if she looked over she would end up saying something she would regret. 

She stared at the 17 so hard she began to see the afterimage behind her eyes when she blinked. 

A noise sounded beside her and she looked over as Mattie voiced another 'damn' under her breath, looking as her phone battery flashed low.  She turned back and caught Alicia's eyes before Alicia could turn away.

Alicia held her eyes, feeling now that there was no other option.  But as she desperately tried to keep Mattie's gaze, trying to ascertain the truth behind them, she also felt like she was being read, that Mattie could see through her. 

"Why was Indira Star at your house before you met her at the straw poll?" Alicia blurted out, desperate to protect herself from whatever had been happening between them.

Mattie was taken aback for a moment, but, as Alicia watched her intently, she noticed that the surprise didn't make it to her eyes. 

Mattie broke the gaze and turned away, leaning her head against the back of the elevator with a sigh.

"Indira is the sister of a friend of mine..." Mattie began, as if this topic weighed heavy on her.

"So you do have friends," Alicia interjected with more venom than she had intended, taking this alone as proof of her own betrayal as her insides began to knot themselves, desperately wishing she wasn't in this hole of her own making. 

Mattie sat up straighter and turned to Alicia, her brow furrowed as she considered her words carefully. 

"Rachel was one of the 'popular girls' at school," Mattie began as her brow evened out, unexpected relief painting her face, "She was the only one who didn't pick on me," she explained, her eyes downcast to her hands playing with the edge of her blouse - the memory affecting her more that Alicia would've thought possible.

She blinked and looked at Alicia, "When she found out I was one of the richest women in Chicago, well..." she trailed off.

"She 'befriended' you," Alicia finished, nodding her head to encourage Mattie to continue.

Mattie nodded ascent, turning away awkwardly for a moment and scratching the edge of her face.  She turned back and continued. 

"She asked me to meet with her sister and I didn't see the harm," Mattie explained clearing her throat when it came out raspy.

"And her accusations against Peter?" Alicia asked evenly, watching for another trace of the venerability Rachel's name caused.

"I didn't know," Mattie assured, laying her hand on Alicia's for the briefest of moments. 

Alicia felt the warmth in it and it's sudden withdrawal made her hand feel cold. 

"When I did find out I spoke to her," Mattie continued, "And insisted that I was distanced from anything that would hint I had been involved beforehand, knowing that if it had come out, it would've made me look even worse than I already did after backing Peter."

Mattie paused.

"No offence," Mattie added in addendum, sincerity written across her face.

Alicia only nodded. 

Mattie's gaze trailed past Alicia to the empty elevator wall, "Rachel was pissed of course," she added as an afterthought, inwardly flinching at revealing this unnecessary information.

Alicia turned her body slightly towards Mattie, taking in her demeanour and second-guessing herself before continuing anyway.

"She..meant more to you," Alicia began hesitantly, not knowing what else she meant to say.

Mattie snapped out of her recollections and focused on Alicia's face. Alicia could see the thoughts flickering behind her eyes - 'do I lie?' Mattie was asking herself. 

Resigning herself to the truth Mattie nodded.

Alicia turned back toward the elevator door, not sure if Mattie's honestly was more or less frightening. 

"I didn't plant Indira as a problem but the very fact she was one highlighted the fact that Peter couldn't be the candidate I wanted him to be," Mattie began, her tone changing to political schpeel mode. 

"Who was she?" Alicia pushed, turning to Mattie with raised brows, not really wanting the answer but wanting anything to disorient her enough to throw her out of the schpeel she had begun. 

Mattie paused open-mouthed.  She bowed her head for a second, clasping her hands in her lap before turning her face towards Alicia in thin-lipped determination.

"She was my first," Mattie said with an embarrassed head-tilt, her eyes looking past Alicia for a moment before snapping to her brown eyes.  She forced a self-deprecating smile.

"Oh," Alicia said, putting her hand to her head in embarrassment.  She removed it instantly, "I'm sor.." she began. 

"Don't be Alicia," Mattie said, cutting off Alicia's apology as she put her hand out to touch the side of Alicia's arm.  "It was a long time ago," she added, forcing a slightly more honest smile. 

The elevator shook again before normal lighting resumed.  Alicia stood quickly, Mattie's hand falling from her arm.  Mattie stood moments later as both sets of eyes glued to the blue 17.  As it changed to 16 and then 15 they both smiled.

When they arrived at the bottom and escaped the elevator into the cool air of the room below Alicia waited in the foyer as Mattie spoke to the repair crew.  When she had finished she approached Alicia. 

"I stayed to apologise," Alicia began, "It was none of my business," she asserted, shaking her head.

Mattie's hand reached out and squeezed Alicia's arm gently, eyes searching for Alicia's as Alicia turned and met Mattie's gaze.

"I was told once that friends share things," Mattie replied with a half-serious expression as her hand dropped.

Alicia smiled, "you were told once?" she echoed with a small laugh, her arm noticeably cold where Mattie's hand had been. 

Mattie smiled, nodding, "So let's put that down as my initial contribution," she continued, "and we'll see what happens."

Alicia nodded. 

"You okay to get home?" Mattie asked, "I could have my driver.."

"No," Alicia responded, "Thank you," she amended softer. 

Mattie nodded, "See you around," she said casually as she walked toward her awaiting car. 

Alicia nodded, hefting her purse and heading towards her car. 

***

Alicia drove home, replaying the episode in her head and trying to push away the odd sensation that the memory imprinted. She thought of the strength it took Mattie to be that venerable with someone who could easily use it as ammo and found the trust highly disconcerting.  And part of her wanted this friendship in that same awkward way Mattie had approached her, because she too had no real friends beyond Kalinda and Will and both of those relationships were troubled to say the least. The friends she had before Peter was arrested, and there had been many, had proven themselves false and she hadn't had time to cultivate any others since starting at Lockhart/Gardner.  

What did that mean though? Even if Alicia did want to give Mattie the benefit of the doubt, and her secret sharing in the lift almost made them even, it wasn't as if they could go out for drinks or have lunch when Mattie was running against her husband.  And yet, even as Alicia tried to push the idea of pursuing a friendship from her thoughts, the impression lingered - a tingling warmth of possibility that remained with her for the rest of the night. 

***

When she got home she sat in front of the keyboard staring at the search page, willing herself to type the letters.  She nearly made a start but as she typed the M she saw the trail of other searches she had made (the first being Major Outcomes of Barnes v Davis) and reconsidered. 

She knocked on Zach's door and heard the familiar voice respond 'come in.' 

"Hey Mom, what do you want?" Zach asked turning from his computer screen in his pivoting chair.

"How do you delete the search history?" She asked, "It's for a case," she added as an afterthought, wincing inwardly at the slightly forced nature. 

Zach sighed, swiveled back toward his computer and took Alicia through it step by step numerous times before Alicia felt confident she could find it on her own. 

She stood up from her position leaning over his shoulder, thanked her son and walked back to the living room, shutting his door behind her. 

She sat herself again in front of the screen, still hesitating to type the letters, as if information gathering was a felony.  It could even be fact-finding for Peter's campaign but no one within the family would believe that.

Mattie Hayward, Governor.

The words were stark black on the white screen.  She moved the mouse and clicked search. 

***

Alicia pressed the button on her cell, trying not to think about the consequences. One ring, two. The voicemail clicked on and Alicia hung up. All for the best.

She entered the building housing Lockhart/Gardner and took the elevator up to the 28th floor.  The elevator was crowded, much as it always was at this time in the morning, and Alicia squeezed herself together, trying to take up as little room as possible as those beside her jostled in and out with briefcases, bags, talking on phones. As they approached the 28th floor Alicia stood up straighter, brushed off the front of her suit and waited for the 'ding' that would herald her arrival.  The 'ding' sounded, the door opened and Alicia entered, making her way around the reception desk, through the corridors of meeting rooms and down the stairs to her office. 

She shut the door and opened the case notes on her desk, her client would be here in an hour.  

***

A case note review and two client meetings later Alicia was back in her office reviewing yet another file when Diane knocked on her door. 

She sat up when she saw Diane, who, despite her relatively open-door policy, rarely visited the rank and file, and beckoned her in.

"What can I do for you?" she asked, shutting the file she had been reviewing. 

Diane touched her tongue to her upper lip, hesitating for a moment before continuing, "Mattie has asked you to come to her office," she finally relayed, with a bit of a quizzical expression.

"Now?" Alicia asked.

"If you are available," Diane responded. 

Alicia nodded, standing up with what she hoped was confident nonchalance, and following Diane out of her office.

"I'll be back as soon as I can," Alicia intoned uselessly as they walked up the stairs to the main entrance. 

Diane turned to her, "Take your time if you're able.  Anything we can do to make her happy might give us points towards her reevaluating our offer."

Alicia nodded as they passed the turn-off to Diane's office.  Diane said good-bye and left Alicia to continue her journey to the elevator. 

She stood by the elevator, trying to calm the nerves fluttering in her stomach.  The elevator 'dinged' it's arrival and the doors opened with their sliding groan.  A young man, one of the paralegals, walked out and Alicia walked in to an empty elevator, pressing the button for the 30th floor.  She hefted her bag higher on her shoulder and gripped it tightly, watching as the numbers changed from 28 to 29 to 30.  The elevator 'dinged' again and slid open, depositing Alicia into a reception white with paint and construction. 

She heard her name being called before she saw Mattie enter from around a turn in the hallway.

"I'm glad you were able to come up," Mattie offered as she smiled and led Alicia around the corner and down a corridor to a newly decorated office. 

The carpets were a pale grey and a big oak desk took up the centre of the room, behind it was a tall-backed black leather chair.  Behind the imposing chair were floor to ceiling matching oak shelves, scarcely scattered with a few books.

Mattie gestured to the lower-backed chair on the closer side of the table and made her way around the table, sitting in her chair and folding her hands before her, looking at Alicia with raised brows.

"I'm not sure why I am here," Alicia uttered self-consciously. 

Mattie un-linked her hands and rested them across the cool of the table. 

"You called me," She prompted.

Alicia's mouth fell open and she smiled in embarrassment, lowering her head in her hand for a moment before looking up, smile still plastered on her now-red face.

"I did," she admitted.

Mattie raised her brows again.

Alicia laughed in spite of herself. "You made me feel like my teacher summoned me to the principal's office and you did this because I called?" Alicia half stated, half asked.

Mattie nodded, "It seemed the most expedient way to talk without attracting undue attention."

"Undue attention?" Alicia responded, still torn between surprise and disbelief at the outlandish circumstance. 

"Diane is happy to send you up here with the hope it will help them out with the rent, am I right?"  Mattie correctly ascertained, "Besides I prefer to chat in person," she added with an almost predatory glint.

Alicia forced her face into a neutral expression, crossing her legs and folding her hands over her knee.  "So what do you want to discuss?" she asked cocking her head slightly to one side.

"You're the one who called," Mattie pointed out. 

Alicia nodded, looking around the room absently, trying to grasp on to something, anything, which would allow her to continue the conversation without the real reason for her phone call this morning. 

"Alicia," Mattie intoned, trying to snap her out of her reverie. 

Alicia's eyes jumped to Mattie's without a thought, "Mmm?" she replied, "oh yes, I called you."

Mattie raised her eyes, impatience crossing her face as she stared at Alicia.

Alicia dropped her eyes from Mattie's before clearing her throat and looking up again. 

"I... I wanted to try again," Alicia replied, watching Mattie's face carefully.

Mattie didn't smile, although Alicia could read the smile in her eyes, instead she kept her mouth even, unfolded and folded her hands

"You want..?" Mattie reiterated, raising her eyebrows. 

"After the election is over, I want to go out for drinks, or dinner," Alicia offered, hoping she didn't sound too eager, worried that it sounded wrong, "I realise that I too have few friends," she admitted with a half smile, hoping Mattie would see the joke. 

Mattie nodded, trying not to let her happiness betray her but the smile broke across her face. 

"I would like that Alicia," she replied simply. 

Alicia nodded, her lips pressed together in a line. She stood, "I have to get back to work," she said by way of explanation.

Mattie nodded, standing and walking Alicia the few steps to the door.

"Do you think I have a chance?" She asked leaning against the frame to her office door, "Against your husband," she clarified. 

Alicia looked past Mattie for a moment, thinking through everything she knew, before turning back to Mattie.

"I don't know," she responded honestly.

Mattie nodded, "Thank you for coming by Alicia, and I look forward to dinner."

"Me too," Alicia responded, a thin smile on her lips as she turned and exited the office.

***


Part 4
Tags: expanding radius, mattie/alicia, the good wife
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