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09 November 2011 @ 07:30 pm
as far as the world extends: part ii: a caelo usque ad centrum  
part ii: a caelo usque ad centrum (from heaven all the way to the center of the earth)

The members of Lockhart Gardner that hadn't scattered to the wind followed where Diane and Will led, and they, in turn, followed Kalinda. Diane knew Kalinda just well enough to know that if anyone could survive an apocalyptic event it would be her. And Will; Will trusted Kalinda with his life, and even more importantly, with Alicia's. For all his faults, Kalinda had never met a more loyal man. She genuinely believed he had her back.

They ended up at a well-protected high school to settle in. Grates that would barely let a toothpick through covered every window on the ground floor, bolted directly into the thick cement. The steel doors locked tightly and any exposed glass contained wire mesh, preventing anyone from sneaking through. Like any other public place it was far from self-sustainable, when the electricity went out in the county the school's went too, along with water pressure and heat.

Once locked tight within the school, all entrances and exits secured and unprotected windows boarded up, just in case, they had begun working on the survival necessities. Along with a few other people, some from the town, some not, they had begun to work out a survival plan. The large flat roof was perfect for growing small stashes of food from the seeds of what they'd brought along. It only took a few days for tomatoes and pepper plants to pop out of the ground, though they had a long time to go until they produced anything their ragged little band could eat. Every available bucket and pail was up there in an attempt to collect rainwater. That wasn't quite enough, of course, so various teams armed to the teeth began developing; recognizance teams, assault teams to kill any zombies they encountered and raiding parties, to refill low supplies. It was highly dangerous but necessary.

So far Kalinda had taken part in several of the raids, her favoured weapons strapped against her. She saw how the some of the newer men looked at her, so skeptical that a woman, especially one as tiny as her, would bother tagging along but they soon realized why she was so well-regarded. Kalinda didn't even bother suppressing the smirk that always seemed to develop when they came up to her, thanking her saving their asses. She was an even better shot with her rifle than with her SigSauer and it wasn't long before people, mostly awkward teenage boys, began shyly requesting lessons on how to improve their shot. She smiled as politely as possible, and referred them to an older man named Mark who had spent his entire life hunting.

It wasn't until Alicia came to her, three weeks into their tenure at the high school that Kalinda allowed herself to make an exception.

Alicia's eyes were red-rimmed and a little swollen, a sure sign that she had been crying again. Her hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail though her bangs, too short to comply, still hung across her face. She wasn't wearing any make-up - not that any of them were - and it struck Kalinda in that moment how very tired Alicia looked.

"Alicia, I'm not sure that's a good idea," Kalinda said, hesitant. Teaching her to shoot and fight would require a lot of one on one time with Alicia that they probably couldn't spend avoiding eye contact or acting like they were work colleagues, not ex-friends.

"Kalinda," Alicia's voice was quiet and serious as she put her hand on Kalinda's forearm. Kalinda looked down, reminded strongly of the reverse of this moment only a few weeks ago, at the start of the whole fracas. "Please."

"Why?" She was a little angry now. Angry that Alicia would come to her after all this time and ask for something Kalinda had already denied half their base, assuming that she was special enough for Kalinda to make an exception. Mostly though she was angry at herself, because no matter how much she tried to erase their friendship like she had so many others, Alicia would not wash out. She was a stain that bled deep, permeating right through Kalinda's thick skin and into her blood and bones, a disturbingly permanent fixture no matter how it displeased Kalinda.

"I don't have a reason," Alicia shrugged as best she could, not moving her hand from Kalinda's arm.

At least she was honest.

"Guns or hand to hand?" Kalinda asked, taking a step back.

Alicia smiled, the smallest hint of a sparkle reaching her eyes. "Both."

~~~

They met every morning after their meager breakfast of dry cereal and whatever fruit the flat, gelatinous rectangles claimed to be. There was a small room overlooking the school's gymnasium that held many of the less common items used for high school gym classes, like extra mats and archery targets. Most of the mats were used as sleeping pallets now but a few remained for the occasional bout of sparring.

Despite her 'Ladies Who Lunch' exterior Alicia was hard as nails and more than willing to get violent. Kalinda showed her the inner workings of several guns and how to aim, how to squeeze the trigger evenly and not let the gun's recoil knock her off balance. Alicia absorbed all of the information like a sponge, even firing off a few rounds a little later without flinching at all.

When Alicia started to eye the fiercesome bolo Kalinda strapped to her back whenever she went on a raid or a reconnaissance mission, Kalinda felt her stomach flip over with anxiety.

~~~

Cary showed up a week later at the edge of town looking dirty and limping badly, absent both his parents. A raid found him and brought him to the school.

He enveloped Kalinda in a large bear hug unexpectedly, not even seeming to care how awkwardly she stood there. He claimed to have followed the directions left on the sides of buildings and on highway signs in bright orange spray paint - the brainchild of Zach Florrick - though very few people had been guided to their school fortress by them. At that moment Kalinda was very glad for Zach Florrick's humanitarian insistence.

Cary told her about meeting up with a caravan of people in RVs and minivans, camping out in the hills far away from the city until they had been attacked. Both his parents had been killed and very few of them had escaped. He was the last survivor.

He hugged Kalinda again before accepting the bucket of hot water for washing up and a quiet place to sleep.

Kalinda let out a sigh of relief as he smiled at her; she had let herself believe he had died and now here he was, alive and well, if a little more haunted than she remembered.

~~~

One of the benefits of holing up in a school was having a nice large cafeteria. They still had to provide their own food, an increasingly difficult prospect as the foods garnered from houses and supermarkets became increasingly scarce and the perishables, as expected, perished but the cafeteria served as a nice little meeting place. Or in Will's case, a nice chance for a kick to the gut.

Kalinda placed the lunch tray down on the table before sliding onto the bench beside Will. He murmured a greeting but barely looked at her even as she pushed a mug of hot soup towards him. Kalinda followed his line of sight over several tables until she located the source of his distraction. Alicia, of course. As always. She was sitting beside Zach, rubbing her hand across his back in a wholly mindless display of intimacy. Peter sat across from them, facing Kalinda and Will, and they could see the broad smile on his face, the happiness, the loving way he was looking at Alicia. Will held the mug of warm soup between both hands, trying to sip it casually.

"Is she back with him?"

"Hmm?" Will said, finally turning his head to meet Kalinda's gaze.

"Alicia," Kalinda prompted, glancing over at the Florricks once more. "Is she back with Peter?"

"Oh, uh, I don't think so," Will said, his face falling at his own uncertainty. "I think they're just spending more time together. Because of Grace."

"Yeah," Kalinda agreed, rather halfheartedly. Mutual mourning over their deceased daughter made sense. They had been married for a very long time, had relied on each other through thick and thin before the scandal of the last few years. It made sense. But still, seeing the way Alicia was smiling and knowing the soul-deep sadness that lurked behind it made her heart ache, a feeling Kalinda was rather unaccustomed to.

"Does she talk about Peter with you?" 

Kalinda rolled her eyes at Will's attempt to be nonchalant.

"You know she doesn't."

Even if they were friends that talked about things in that Sex and the City way that was completely unlike them, there was no way they would ever talk about Peter. Even if Alicia wanted to, Kalinda wouldn't let her. She wanted to purge herself of that time, of everything that made her feel guilty like that.

"K?" Will turned to her, his eyes clear, "I'm glad you and Alicia are friends again. I don't know what happened with you guys but you always seem happier with her."

Kalinda looked down, watching the floating pasta shells and squares of potato float about in her mug. There wasn't much to say to that.

~~~

She missed her old boots; the ones that came up to her knees and made satisfying clicking noises when she walked. Her current ones, steel toed black leather, were perfectly serviceable but they didn't quite make everyone pay attention in the same way. Still, Kalinda found herself listening to the rhythmic sound of her boots against the floor as she walked one of the empty upstairs hallways.

She found herself seeking solitude more and more as the days progressed, the desire for silence and general detachment from the nosy group downstairs becoming overwhelming.

A sound drew Kalinda towards an open door. Peeking silently inside through the small rectangular window she saw the very last thing she had been expecting: Will and Alicia, half dressed; Will's sweater off, thrown somewhere Kalinda couldn't see, Alicia still in her bra, the straps fallen wantonly off her shoulders.

Will was kissing her neck and Alicia's eyes were screwed up tight, her fingers clutching at Will's neck as he moved against her. Kalinda saw the tightness in her jaw from the way she was clenching her teeth, the downturn of her lips, the way her fingernails looked like they were biting into Will's skin. She looked sad, desperate to forget. Kalinda bit her lip, unable to tear her eyes away from the curve of Alicia's neck.

She allowed herself a moment to commit the scene to memory before finally, finally moving off.

The dull thud of her boots no longer interested her at all.



to part iii
 
 
 
nessakitty821nessakitty821 on November 10th, 2011 02:57 pm (UTC)
"Will; Will trusted Kalinda with his life, and even more importantly, with Alicia's. "

so well put - and I think absolutely true!!