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Background Check

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"You did a background check on me?"

Kalinda quirked one eyebrow. "I didn't find much," she said, "but that's to be expected. Anything really explosive would have come out when Peter first ran for office."

They were drinking Chianti by the bottle at a dark, divey Italian place near the courthouse. Kalinda had suggested it after Alicia spent a long day questioning an expert witness for a particularly frustrating arson case. Whether red-wine-after-an-expert-witness-totally-blows-your-case was another Stern Lockhart tradition, Kalinda didn't say. "Don't talk about," Alicia started to say, realizing that her tongue was thick in her mouth after a few too many glasses. "Wait," she said then, "You did a background check on me?"

Kalinda crossed her arms on the table and regarded Alicia with a look of irritatingly cool sobriety. She had matched Alicia bottle for bottle tonight, but Alicia had previously learned the hard way that Kalinda could drink her under the table with one hand tied behind her back. "You were caught shoplifting from a department store make-up counter in high school," Kalinda said, "You were charged with a misdemeanor, the record was sealed when you turned eighteen. You had an abortion when you were a freshman at Northwestern. You asked the coroner's office not to run a toxicology report when your father died because you suspected he overdosed on prescription painkillers. You used the inheritance to pay off yours and Peter's loans from law school. You and Peter saw a marriage counselor for six months the year before Zack was born."

Alicia's face flushed the same color as the stain her sloshed wine glass had left on the white table cloth. "You did a background check," she said again, as though she hoped putting a different emphasis on her words would get a more satisfactory response. "On me."

"Nothing gets past you, counselor."

"What gives you the right--"

Kalinda shrugged, actually managing to look a little bit embarrassed. "Force of habit," she said. "Most people ask a person out on a date by fishing for their phone number, but an investigator would much rather have your social security number."

"This is a date?" Alicia said.

Kalinda drained the last of her glass and leaned back in her chair. "What do you think it is?" she said.

Alicia traced the rim of her glass with one finger. She needed a manicure, she realized. To save money, she'd been painting her own nails, at the kitchen table after the kids went to sleep. She did it with briefings spread out in front of her, and once had to take a file back to the office the next day with splashes of what the bottle had called Modern Classic Mauve. "Did your investigation turn up anything about my semester abroad my junior year in college?" she asked, eyes darting up.

Kalinda smiled, and without taking her eyes off Alicia, raised her hand to signal for the check.