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Chasing Names

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They've been on the road for the last three days trying to track down their client's elusive ex-wife. They are currently somewhere in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Alicia can't say this is somewhere she really wants to be right now, but they need this witness, and Kalinda's pulling in all the favors she can.

They've only got two more days to find this woman, and Alicia is getting pretty worried. Their case is shaky enough as it is, and without the testimony of the ex-wife, their client is going to be in jail for the next twenty years of his life. That's not something Alicia is ready to live with. She would like to think that's not something Kalinda is willing to live with either.

Kalinda walks out of the hotel, sunglasses on, mouth set in a firm line. No go.

Alicia sighs and turns the key.

Kalinda slips into the car and says, "No one remembers her, but someone using her credit card and ID was here three nights ago."

"It's probably too much to ask for a forwarding address."

Kalinda looks at her. "Yeah," she says.

"So that's it," Alicia says. "There's nothing else we can do."

"Yeah," Kalinda says, and Alicia looks at her.

Kalinda adjusts her sunglasses. "What?" she asks.

Alicia knows that Kalinda is a woman who plays by the letter of the law, as long as the law happens to be written on bottles in a bar and the letters read when one happens to be in a highly intoxicated state. Alicia would be the first to tell you that it's all very circumstantial, the law.

"You know something," Alicia says. "Don't give me that look, Kalinda, I know you've got something."

"I'm not giving a look," Kalinda says mildly.

“I’m going to call Diane,” Alicia decides. “Ask her what she wants to do.”

“Okay,” Kalinda says, amused.

Alicia shakes her head and dials.

**



Diane Lockhart sits in her office, tapping her pen impatiently as she refreshes her email for the fourteenth time in as many minutes. Her inbox remains stubbornly unchanged. She refreshes again just to be sure.

No new messages.

Diane exhales slowly. She hasn’t craved a cigarette this badly since the night before the bar exam. At this point, she’s just hoping that the DA is still willing to give them a deal. Hayden’s right--they’ve got to stop taking cases for passion. The firm can’t suffer another loss, not one as big as this. Alicia and Kalinda had headed out at the start of the week in search of the ex-wife, but Diane’s gut instinct is telling her to pick up the phone right now and call the DA for a deal, and Diane trusts her gut; it’s yet to lead her wrong.

Her phone rings, and for a brief, hysterical moment, she thinks it’s the DA calling to take all deals off the table.

“Diane? It’s Alicia.”

Diane closes her eyes and pinches the bridge of her nose with perfectly manicured fingers. “Alicia,” she  greets coolly. “What’s going on?”

Alicia’s sigh is weary and defeated and frustratingly clear. “Dead end,” Alicia reports. “Hold on, I’m going to put you on speaker, Kalinda wants to talk.”

“Everybody remembers women coming to stay the night,” Kalinda says matter-of-factly. “Unfortunately, no one seems to be able to recall a specific woman, or anything specific about any women.”

“We’re at a dead end,” Alicia says. “We’re coming back.”

“Yes, alright,” Diane says, and God, she could really use a drink right now. “I’ll talk to the client and see the DA about a deal. See you soon.”

She hangs up and looks up the number for the client, then thinks better of it. That can wait. She isn’t putting off the inevitable; she’s simply postponing it in favor of more urgent matters.

**



A lawyer and an investigator walk into a bar, four hours after accepting that fact that their client, under a series of very unfortunate circumstances, is going to be spending the next twenty years of his life for a money laundering scheme he wasn’t even a part of.

After four hours of driving through interstates, a lawyer and her investigator walk into a bar and see their boss sipping a half-empty glass of whiskey. Alicia and Kalinda share a look, but before they can decide whether to stay or go, Diane beckons them over.

“Ah,” she says. “Good, you’re here--oh, no, Alicia, someone’s sitting there, come over here.”

“Oh,” says Alicia, startled. “Um, alright.” She raises an eyebrow at Kalinda who shakes her head.

“Tomorrow,” Diane begins. “We’re going to call Mr. Dunes and tell him we’re sorry about his wife, but at least he won’t be spending the next two decades wringing his hands over her in a prison cell.”

“Um,” Alicia says. “Diane, we couldn’t find his wife. We’ve lost.”

Diane smiles knowingly. “No, we haven’t,” she says. “Turns out the wife’s been arrested.”

“I’m sorry?” Alicia asks, blinking rapidly. Kalinda frowns. “She’s been arrested?”

“It was surprisingly simple,” Diane admits.

Kalinda nods in understanding. “That’s why everything kept pointing to Mr. Dunes,” she concludes. “Except, everything was actually pointing at Mrs. Dunes. We just didn’t see it.”

Alicia pauses. “But,” she says. “How did you figure--”

“Oh, hi, Alicia! I didn’t know you’d be coming.”

Alicia turns and stares. “Ms. Tascioni,” she says, sounding as stunned as she feels. She pauses, trying to think of something to say. Thank you for helping me and my husband? Thanks for not letting Will go to jail? She chooses to settle with “How are you?”

Elsbeth Tascioni smiles brightly. “I’m great! Diane’s been telling a bit about what you’ve been getting up to. Seems like you’ve been really busy.”

“After you called, I decided to ask around for any last-minute advice,” Diane informs them. “Elsbeth rose to the occasion.”

“Oh,” says Alicia.

“Great,” Kalinda says, and returns Elsbeth’s smile.

“Well,” Alicia says, blinking. “I didn’t see that one coming.” She looks at Kalinda. “Did you?”

Kalinda shrugs, lips quirked. “It doesn’t matter,” she says and waves over the bartender. “Bourbon, please,” she says and looks expectantly at Alicia.

She’s right, Alicia thinks and orders a gin and tonic. Elsbeth continues to beam at them with the same naive quality that made Alicia question her prowess when they first met. Tonight, however, sitting a stool-length apart, Alicia sees the intelligence behind her eyes. She sees the sharp gaze of someone who’s used to being underestimated and has learned how to use it to her advantage.

So no, Alicia smiles to herself as she takes a sip of her drink. None of it really matters now.