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09 November 2011 @ 07:31 pm
as far as the world extends: part i: manus celer dei  
part i: manus celer dei (the swift hand of god)

Will picked up on the first ring.

"There's a report of it happening in Chicago," she said, not bothering with pleasantries. "The police are trying to keep it quiet and contained for now but it's happening."

Will said nothing but Kalinda could hear his heavy breathing through the phone. When he finally spoke it was only to curse, drawing the word out slowly.

"Will, we can't stay in the city. If they can't control this it could get bad. It's too easily passed from person to person."

"This is gonna get worse, isn't it?"

Unfamiliar tendrils of fear coiled themselves in the pit of her belly. "Yeah."

"I'm going to take care of everyone here, but K?" Kalinda could hear the worry in his tone and knew what was coming next. "She's in court today."

"I've got it," she reassured him. They spoke for a few more moments, arranging for Kalinda to bring Alicia back to Lockhart Gardner as soon as possible even though she didn't believe that it would play out that way. Especially now that the police had called in the armed forces to provide back-up and security. So far nearly thee thousand people had died of the innocuously named D3 Virus domestically, the number inflating grotesquely worldwide. If every one of them rose up from the dead, the panic setting in would only grow exponentially.They needed to leave soon but she knew Will would never leave without Alicia.

Will cared much more deeply than he was willing to admit; sometimes they were a matched set, lacking the kind of passion and compassion that every other person on earth seemed to have. Alicia was the exception to that for both of them and she knew it. Will had been in love with Alicia for a very long time, though Kalinda doubted he would admit it was the kind of unconditional love she saw in his eyes.

There were times that Kalinda thought maybe she was too; she had heard the implication in Blake's voice, seen the smug glint in Cary's eyes when he had noticed, but it was a flight of fancy easily dismissed, a leap they tried to make in an effort to understand her better. She'd thought she was in love once, and all that had gotten her was a dead-end marriage to a stupid boy she had absolutely no feelings for.

Sliding her cell into her pocket Kalinda headed towards the court house.


~~

"Alicia!" Kalinda called after the lawyer, jogging a little to catch her. The heels of her boots clacked against the polished stone of the courthouse, echoing loudly.

The news of the dead man rising and dismembering the coroner in a Manhattan city morgue had hit the news a few hours earlier. Reports of infected and dying people all over the eastern seaboard came in rapidly after that. CNN was attributing several violent murders from the past few days to these 'zombies'. Kalinda had immediately gone out and acquired some supplies, a few odds and ends that she felt might be necessary if it turned into a schlocky horror movie. No sense being unprepared; Kalinda had always prided herself in her talent of predicting the actions of others and the ability to act accordingly if things didn't go the way she expected.

"Yeah?" Alicia said. Her arms were full of multi-coloured folders and stray papers. "Can we walk and talk? I have to be in court in twenty minutes."

Kalinda fell into step beside her. "Alicia, do you have any idea what's going on?"

"Not really, no. I've been working on the Reynolds-Davidovich case all night, I came into the office at six this morning," Alicia pressed the button for the elevator, not making eye contact.

"Alicia, stop." Kalinda grabbed her by the arm, effectively halting Alicia in her tracks. She looked down at Kalinda's hand, her lip curling up in disgust for a brief moment before her standard impassive mask fell into place. It was enough; Kalinda saw it and removed her hand just as quickly, almost as if she'd felt Alicia's burning gaze against the palm of her hand.

"Listen, stuff is happening right now. You need to leave the city and find somewhere safe." Kalinda's words were deliberately neutral.

Alicia tightened her arms, pulling the folders and papers against her chest like armour. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

"Turn your phone on and check your messages,"

Alicia pulled her phone out of her pocket. She so rarely turned it off, wanting to be in constant reach if her children needed her, but, Kalinda supposed, today must have been different.

Alicia's eyes widened as she saw the sheer number of messages and texts on the screen. Kalinda glanced at it, noting the preponderence of text messages from Grace.

"What's going on?" Clearly Alicia wasn't going to slog through all those messages right away, not when she had Kalinda right there to answer for her.

"The D3 virus, the pandemic, has had some unfortunate side effects." Kalinda took a deep breath, aware of just how bizarre this sounded. "The people who died of it. They're not staying dead."

Alicia flashed Kalinda a sharp look. "I'm not really in the mood for unfunny jokes."

Kalinda tilted her head to the side. "This isn't a joke, Alicia. I wish it was. Will sent me to get you. He wants to leave the city right away, just in case things get bad. Worse."

"Will sent you?" Her eyes narrowed and Kalinda wasn't sure what she saw there: jealousy, uncertainty, mistrust.

"He's looking after the people from Lockhart Gardner." Alicia looked up and away, a faint smile on the corner of her lips. It was a look that could be called dreamy on anyone else.

"I have to get my kids," Alicia said, suddenly serious. "They're at school."

"I'll take you, I'm parked right there." Kalinda held up her keys, pointing towards the car. She'd picked up a few supplies as soon as she'd heard the news in New York, calling in favours and making promises. She didn't want to be caught unprepared.

Alicia grimaced but nodded absently, still skimming through her text messages. "Oh, wait, Zach said that school is cancelled and Peter's coming to get them."

"I'll take you back to the office," Kalinda said, glancing over her shoulder. She put her hand on the small of Alicia's back, herding her towards the car, only mildly surprised that Alicia allowed herself to be moved with no sideways glance.

"Kalinda, listen," Alicia halted, turning towards her. She brushed her hair off her face, brows furrowed in solemnity. "We need to get something straight."

Kalinda examined Alicia's face, taking in what her pained expression told her. "What's this about, Alicia?"

"It's...it's about you. And me," she looked Kalinda directly in the eye. "Can I trust you with my family?"

"Of course you can trust me," Kalinda tried to keep her tone even but it came out sounding much more offended than she had intended. Alicia had avoided eye contact with her since she'd found out about Kalinda's past with Peter, even more so since Alicia's anger had dissipated. The monotony of working cases together normalized it, their friendship reduced to a courteous and detached working relationship.

"People are dying out there and now you're telling me we're on the verge of living a horror movie. You've had my back before but..." Alicia trailed off, narrowing her eyes. That steely and dangerous glint returned.

"That was different and you know it," Kalinda said, narrowing her own eyes. She took her hand from Alicia's back and crossed her arms over her chest.

"Do I?"

Kalinda suppressed the urge to roll her eyes, trying to remember the severity of the situation. "We've talked about this, Alicia. It was before I knew you," Kalinda sighed. This was not the time for this. "I would never do that to you now."

"Maybe you should just stop sleeping with married men," Alicia tilted her head, her lips curled up slightly in a way that Kalinda had learned meant she was going in for the kill, "Or married women."

"Yeah," Kalinda sighed again.

----

"Come on, Cary, we have to go," Kalinda pleaded, grabbing his arm. Honestly, she wasn't exactly sure why she was there. She had lots of 'friends', mostly acquaintances pleased that she was paying them any attention at all, but for some reason she genuinely cared about Cary. Despite all his faults. She wasn't going to be his girlfriend, a sweet little thing that couldn't wait until he got home so they could have boring sex and then watch Conan O'Brien afterwards. That was who he was and who she could never be. She'd long known that was the source of a lot of his frustration towards her bit that wasn't enough motivation to change anything.

"Look, Kalinda, it's sweet that you want to rescue me but I can't," Cary smiled in the lopsided way he knew was charming. "I've got to go get my parents."

"I'm leaving right now, I'm packed and everything," Kalinda said, shoving her hands deep in her pockets. That wasn't exactly true; she was returning to Lockhart Gardner but he didn't need to know that. She sighed, "I can wait a bit but it's going to turn into a full blown riot soon. The longer we stay in the city, the greater chance there is of being infected with the virus."

"I'm sure you're blowing this all out of proportion," his voice was soft and kind, the same one he used when trying to buddy up to a suspect before charging them with a deluge of crimes. "But just in case, I'm going to go check on my parents. I'll meet up with you soon."

He shoved his hands in his pockets and walked away, a sad look on his face.

Kalinda allowed herself several moments to stare after him. She had a sinking feeling in her gut she wouldn't see Cary again.

She bit her lip, hard enough to hurt, and tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. Things were much more complicated than she usually liked them. She liked being a player in the games, but always rising above the fray, extricating herself before the messy altercations involved everyone but her.

This whole situation, the dead rising a few hours later, absent mind and soul with only hunger and a seemingly unquenchable desire for destruction of life, it was the stuff of nightmares.

---

Just as she'd predicted, it got bad very quickly.

The military was called in to several hotspots, usually city centers, armed with assault rifles and complicated protective masks but even their training and artillery was easily overrun. It was hard to separate the healthy and panicking from those infected with the D3 virus, doomed to die and rise and the actual walking dead.

With the expected gridlock on every road out of the city it had taken weeks for the rest of the Florricks to find Alicia. And even then, they were minus Grace. Kalinda watched from across the room as Alicia pulled Zach desperately to her, clutching at him.

She watched as Alicia asked the question of Grace's whereabouts despite knowing in her stomach what the answer would be. She watched as Alicia slumped into Will, her face against his neck as he let them both fall to their knees. The noise Alicia made defied description and as detached as Kalinda always tried to remain, she was certain that sound would stay with her for a very long time.



to part ii