Stress relief, they’ve taken to calling it. Well, that’s what Alicia calls it, Cary doesn’t bother calling it anything at all, so long as it continues. And it will, for as long as it can, Cary hopes. With Peter off in Springfield being governor, with their firm growing by leaps and bounds, with all the plates they have to keep spinning in the air--
Well. It just leaves Alicia and Cary in Chicago, together, with far too much tension and stress to deal with. And with only each other to turn to.
So they do this, late in their office where no one can see, alone in Alicia’s apartment when her kids are gone, at his apartment where his neighbors keep to themselves and the walls are thick--they stumble into each other, Cary’s hands sliding underneath Alicia’s sensible skirts, Alicia’s lips on his, her red lipstick smearing against his mouth. They fuck and it’s good, it’s exactly what they need, a moment to come undone and pull themselves together again.
On one level, it’s not smart. It is incredibly not smart, looking at it from the outside, and Cary knows it.
On the other--he needs this. Wants it. And Cary’s not totally gone, he knows what this is and isn’t, he’s not expecting Alicia to leave her husband or make Cary any promises they both know she can’t keep.
For all of their early chatter when they’d started their firm together, Cary is not Will Gardner. He’s not in love with Alicia Florrick, and he doesn’t want to be.
But he wants this, those quiet moments with Alicia, wants her gasps in his ear and his hands on her soft skin, wants her moving above him when they fuck on his couch, wants his tongue on her clit while she tugs at his hair, thighs trembling as he takes her apart.
They can keep doing this, Cary knows, as long as he doesn’t lose track of what this is--and as long as he doesn’t try and ask for more.
Cary’d had a girlfriend once, in Harvard. Well, he’d had several girlfriends, but Lila had been different, and not just because she hadn’t been his girlfriend, not really.
When Cary thinks of Lila, he thinks of her laughter--she laughed often, usually at Cary. He thinks about her hands, the long fingers, how strong they were, when she was pushing him down on Cary’s tiny twin-sized bed in his studio apartment, her slim fingers resting against Cary’s throat.
She did that a lot, touching Cary’s throat, and he had no idea why it always made him shiver and go pliant, not until Lila had smirked down at him, one lazy afternoon, and tightened her hand around his throat, asking idly, “This okay?”
It had. It had been more than okay.
Things didn’t last long with Lila, but he still remembers it sometimes, what it had felt like with her hands on her throat, feeling like he’d been caught in a cage and not wanting to leave.
They’d broken up during finals, and Cary doesn’t think of her much now. But when he does, it’s always with the memory of her hands around his throat.
In the end, Cary gets caught out the way everyone gets caught out: he slips up. They’re in his apartment tonight, Alicia riding his cock, flushed and gorgeous, her hands braced on his shoulders while Cary holds her hips and tries not to become overwhelmed too quickly, but God--
“Alicia,” Cary mumbles, knowing he sounds drunk right now and not caring very much. “Alicia, Jesus--”
A corner of Alicia’s mouth curves up into a smile, “Tell me what you want,” she breathes out, mouth a few inches away from his own. “Come on, Cary--what do you want?”
He shouldn’t. He can’t. But Cary’s brain is blitzed out, his mind fizzing on too much sensation, overloaded, and then Alicia clenches tight around him and he gasps out, “Hold me down, I want--” and blindly tugs her hand over to his throat, pressing it down.
For a second, Alicia’s hand goes slack, but then the pressure increases, still too light, still not enough but it’s more than what he had, it’s--
“Like this?” Alicia asks, voice wavering, and Cary nods, throat tight but not because of the pressure, his own hands roughly pressing against her clit in the way he’s learned she likes best.
When Cary comes, he’s staring into Alicia’s face. As soon as he can pull himself back together, he strips off the condom, positions himself between Alicia’s thighs, and goes down on her until she’s groaning and clutching at his shoulders, Cary viciously clearing his mind of everything, everything but how he wants her to come, and how he’s going to get her there.
He hopes, hopes it stays at that, but later, when they’re lying together, Alicia says slowly, more tentative than he’s used to her being, “Earlier, when you grabbed my hand…”
“Don’t worry about it,” Cary says quickly. “It was--don’t worry.”
Alicia leaves it there, pressing a gentle kiss on his mouth. Cary kisses her back, and forces himself to believe that the feeling in his stomach isn’t disappointment.
The real problem is that once that happens, Cary can’t stop thinking about it. Not just about wanting that, but about wanting it with Alicia.
He’s not in love with Alicia, no. But he trusts her, trusts her implicitly, and it just--he thinks it could be good with her. He thinks it’d be fucking amazing, Alicia’s pale hands tight around his throat, cutting off his air while she straddles him, Cary pinned down, helpless and desperate to come.
He jerks off to the thought every night for a week, and stays ruthlessly professional at work, ignoring Alicia’s thoughtful, considering gaze as much as he can.
Of course, it can’t last like this, and it doesn’t, Alicia calling Cary on his phone for a late-night meeting that they both know has nothing to do with work. Cary puts the condoms in his wallet, and tries not to think. That’s what got him in trouble, thinking too much.
Alicia greets him at the door with a kiss and a glass of wine, casual and relaxed. Cary, his shoulders dropping from relief--maybe she is going to leave it alone, thank God--sips at his glass and settles down on the couch.
He laughs as Alicia comes over and straddles his lap without ceremony, hiking up her skirt and settling in. His hand automatically comes to rest at her hip, and he smiles up at her. “Hey.”
“Hey,” Alicia says, smiling back at him, fond. “I’ve been thinking about something.”
“Okay,” Cary says. “What about?”
Alicia hesitates, and then says, “I think we should try it again. If you want.”
Cary could play dumb here. He wants to play dumb. But Alicia’s eyes are steady on his face, free of judgment, and Cary knows that she’ll play this however he wants.
However he wants this to go, and he--
“You sure?” Cary asks, hating the nerves in his voice, and yet needing the reassurance.
“Yeah,” Alicia says, nodding, and she does sound sure. “I think...I think it could be good. Do you want to?”
“Yes,” Cary says, and the word settles in the pit of his stomach.
“Okay,” Alicia says. “Then that’s what we’ll do.”
It’s not until they’re in the bedroom that Cary really understands what Alicia’s been planning.
He’s on his back, wearing nothing but his boxers, Alicia on top, straddling him again, his stomach tight with anticipation, when Alicia presses her keys into his open palm. “Uh,” Cary says intelligently, staring at them.
“It’s like a safeword,” Alicia explains, tucking her hair behind her ear. “If you need to stop for whatever reason, or if you want to take a break, you just jingle those and I stop right away. When I was reading, it seemed like a really good idea--” She stops talking as Cary stares at her, and says, “Cary, if you’re having second thoughts--”
“No, no,” Cary says, eyes wide. “It’s just--you researched this.”
There’s the hint of a flush, high on Alicia’s cheeks, as she says, defensive, “Well, I’m not going to go into this blind--”
Cary cuts her off with a kiss, lurching up, the kiss off-center and clumsy, but he can feel Alicia smiling against his lips.
“Thank you,” he mumbles against her mouth, punctuating it with one last hard kiss before he pulls away, lying back on the bed and tilting his head up, waiting for her hands to go around his throat. “Alicia, thank you.”
“Don’t thank me,” Alicia says softly, settling her weight more firmly in his lap, her hands sliding around his throat, firmer than he could’ve hoped for and everything he could want. “I plan on enjoying myself tonight.”
“I’ll make sure you do,” Cary manages, before her hands go tight, and the air leaves his throat in that first glorious rush.