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Where Angels Fear to Tread part 2

Title: Where Angels Fear to Tread part 2
Author: Louisa
Rating: R
Fandom: The Good Wife
Pairing: Alicia/Kalinda

Superhero AU - In a world where a superhero is just another marketable quantity, Alicia, aka Lady Liberty, stuggles to make her own place.

For previous parts, look at my fiction masterpost

Establishing shot:

Ground level. One of the Heroes, Inc towers soars into the sky, glinting in the sunlight. A figure can just be seen taking off from the roof.

(You know, I think I'm getting a little bored of that stock shot. And if I am, so are our viewers. This can go out as is, but I think we need something a little more... dynamic. Sarah: Schedule a meeting for me, Jerry, and whoever's the flavour of the month over in Design. Later in the week is fine.)

Cut to studio:

The host sits behind her desk, smiling at the camera.

(Shit, she looks about twelve years old. When the hell did they start hiring highschoolers? Damn! I swear my daughter's older than she is. Oh fuck. Sarah: Can you pop out and get me a birthday present suitable for a sixteen, no seventeen! God! A seventeen year-old girl? And get yourself something as well for your trouble. Save the receipt. Thanks, Sarah! You're a star.)

HOST: "Good evening, and welcome to "Eye on the Sky": your source for news and views on all the hottest heroes and villains of the hour. I'm Caitlin D'Arcy. First, we turn to my home town of Chicago, which just last week bore witness to an exciting confrontation between Lady Liberty and Captain Corruption. Were you all watching? I know I was certainly glued to the screen, but here's a quick reminder just in case.

[Insert Edited Footage]

Cut back to the studio:

HOST: "Well, wasn't *that* exciting? I certainly had my heart in my mouth the whole time. Well done, Lady Liberty! It can't have been easy facing down Captain Corruption like that. I have to say, though, villain or not, he certainly knows how to get a girl's attention! All that to invite her out for dinner? Wow. So, she accepted the invitation, but will she actually go through with the dinner itself? When and where will it be? What will happen if she doesn't show? What will happen if she *does* show? Could this be the start of a reconciliation, or an escalation? Text, tweet or e-mail the show to let us know what you think! In the meantime, let's see the reactions of some of the people on the street."

Cut to interview footage:

Soundbites from various people, from different parts of the country and different walks of life.

STEVEN, CHICAGO: "I was there when it happened. I thought for sure he'd really lost it; that he was going to cut loose and just fry the lot of us. But then Lady Liberty showed up, getting right up in his face and making sure he was focused on her, not us. She saved us. She's a real superhero. She's *our* superhero. God bless you, Lady Liberty!"

(Nice lead-in. It hits just the right note.)

KAREN, SEATTLE: "It's so *romantic*! Just like Romeo and Juliet. They obviously still have feelings for each other, even though she's a hero and he's a villain."

(She knows that Romeo and Juliet ended with a double suicide, right? I guess that would get ratings, but it's an awfully big expense to just write off. Superhumans don't come cheap!

Don't look at me like that, Jerry. I'm kidding. I'm kidding! God, I'm not actually going to have anyone killed off. Not for real. Anyway, it's much too soon to be thinking of concluding this particular arc. It's just getting to the juicy bit!)

VANCE, BALTIMORE: "I can't believe he did that, right in the middle of Chicago! People could have been killed! I didn't want to believe it, but I guess it's true: Captain Justice really is gone. He really... I was his biggest fan, and now he's *gone*. It's just Captain Corruption, now."

(Now, *that's* investing in a character. What are you betting he used to buy every bit of Captain Justice merchandise he could get his hands on? Now, how do we get him -- and people like him -- to transfer their affections to one of the other supers? Hero or villain, I'm not fussy. We get the royalties either way.)

MARIA, NEW YORK: "Good for Lady Liberty, standing up to Captain Corruption like that! She'd be better off with Mr Magnetism anyway. I bet *he'd* treat her right."

(Fantastic! People are finally starting to pick up on the love triangle subplot. That's good. Great, even. We can start playing that up a little more, now.)

DEIRDRE, ANN ARBOR: "I don't think he really wanted to hurt anyone. I think he's just wounded and lashing out. But I bet she could get through to him. I bet she could even bring him back to the light side. Don't give up on him, Lady Liberty!"

*  *  *  *  *

"Interesting viewing?"

Alicia jumps a little, having been far too engrossed in the television -- or, rather, in concentrating on not throwing the remote control through the television -- to hear the speaker's approach. Of course, she could have been on full alert and *still* not heard Kalinda until she spoke. Privately, she thinks that, despite her implicit denials, Kalinda must have some kind of stealth superpower. How else can she move so quietly in high heels?

"Just channel surfing," she says. Kalinda raises an eyebrow. Alicia half-turns so she can face her properly, lifting her chin and pulling her shoulders back. "I happened across this and I was curious." She winces internally at the defensive note in her voice. Kalinda just looks at her some more. "Fine!" she says, relaxing and sinking back into the cushions. "I watch it occasionally -- very occasionally! -- when no one else is around." She grins sheepishly. "Sometimes I like to know what they're saying about me."

Kalinda's face softens into an almost-smile. "I didn't say a thing," she murmurs, innocently.

Alicia shoots her a Look. "You didn't have to."

Kalinda shrugs, nodding at the screen. "And?"

"The usual." Alicia sighs heavily, turning the television off. "He's redeemable, he's irredeemable. They should get back together, they shouldn't get back together. She should get together with someone else..." She shrugs, tiredly. "You know."

"Ah. The usual."

"Yeah." They both smile. Kalinda's is wry and barely there at all. Alicia's starts out an ironic twist of the lips, but then brightens and broadens, dimpling one cheek. "But I'm used to it by now." She pats the sofa invitingly. "Want to join me? I'm sure there are plenty more trashy TV programmes out there. We can rip them to pieces together. I'll make popcorn. It'll be fun."

Kalinda shakes her head slowly. "Can't. Sorry." She sounds genuinely regretful. "And you're about to have other plans."

"What?" Alicia surges to her feet in a burst of energy, amusement turning to trepidation. "What are they throwing at me this time?"

Kalinda makes a calming motion with her hand, her expression reassuring and slightly amused. It helps a little: Alicia feels herself relaxing fractionally. It can't be *that* bad if Kalinda is looking at her like that.

Can it?

She opens her mouth to ask the question again, more urgently, but Kalinda is already answering. "You know how you hate surprise parties..."

It isn't a question.

"Oh," says Alicia. And then: "Ohhhh." The second is definitely more of a groan than a word. "When?"

"Any minute now."

Alicia groans again, flinging an arm over her face as if she can make the whole thing just go away by sheer force of will. Unfortunately, that isn't one of her powers. Kalinda waits patiently while she sighs heavily, then pulls her arm away and straightens her hair.

"What's the occasion?"

"Mr Magnetism congratulating Lady Liberty on driving off Captain Corruption. And saving innocent bystanders."

Alicia frowns. "But Will wouldn't..." Her words trail off as comprehension dawns. "Eli."

Kalinda shrugs. "You didn't hear it from me."

"Of course not," says Alicia, distractedly. "Thanks, Kalinda. I appreciate it."

"No problem," murmurs Kalinda, inclining her head.

Alicia's phone pings. She pulls it out, quirking an eyebrow as she scans the screen. "Well, what do you know? Julius wants me to come down to the rec room. Apparently there's something I just *have* to see."

"Sounds exciting. Maybe you'd better get down there."

"Maybe I should." Alicia doesn't sound enthused. But then, she doesn't particularly feel enthused. She'd retreated here to get away from people; from the ever-present cameras. The *last* thing she feels like doing right now is going out there and being *sociable*. Pretending that she's surprised and flattered and altogether gosh-darn happy to be there.

But then, it's all part of the job, isn't it? Probably as much as -- if not more than -- the actual business of saving people. (Which, of course, was the reason she signed up for this whole thing in the first place. But that sometimes seems like such a long, long time ago. This is one of those times.)

"It might be fun."

Kalinda has her innocent face on again, her voice utterly deadpan. Alicia directs another Look her way, but she seems remarkably unfazed by it.

She does, however, look a little concerned when Alicia *smiles*.

"Why don't you come along? I wouldn't want you to miss out on the fun, after all."

"Can't. Busy."

There's no sorry this time, and she doesn't sound in the least bit regretful. Not that Alicia blames her. Although she wouldn't have minded the backup.

"Can't blame a girl for trying," Alica says, and sighs. "I guess I'd better go before they send out a search party. Wish me luck."

"Good luck."

Somehow, Alicia has the feeling that she's going to need it.


Lady Liberty looks suitably startled as she walks through the door of the rec room to be greeted by the ragged chorus. It comes from what at first glance seems like a small horde of people, but probably isn't more than ten or so.

"Oh!" she exclaims, looking around. She notes the banners -- all displaying variations on 'Congratulations!' -- streamers and bunting. (She also notes the fact that the telltales on the cameras are a steady green, indicating that they're all live. But then she'd have been more shocked if they weren't.) "What's all this?"

Will, no, Mr Magnetism steps out of the small knot of people, smiling broadly as he comes over to embrace her. "It's for you," he proclaims loudly, jovially. "Congratulations on facing down Captain Corruption." Will pulls her in close, taking the opportunity to whisper softly in her ear. "Eli's idea, sorry. Cameras live. Just go with it."

"Thanks," she whispers back, returning the embrace.

Mr Magnetism steps back, leaving an arm around her waist as he leads her into the room. "You did good," he says, more quietly, and she's almost -- but not quite -- surprised to hear a note of something genuine, something sincere within the slick smoothness of his delivery. "We just wanted to make sure you knew that."

Her answering smile perhaps doesn't feel as forced as she was expecting. "Thank you," she says, softly. And then, louder: "Thank you all." She smiles at them: superheroes and support staff alike. No Eli; not yet. That makes the mask sit a little easier. Maybe this won't be too bad, after all.

"Congratulations, Lady Liberty." The words are spoken in a tone just the right side of amused, shaded with the merest tinge of irony. But then, subtlety was always one of Diane's strong suits.

Alicia turns to face her, gracefully (and gratefully) accepting the champagne glass that the other woman holds out to her.

"Thank you," she says, smiling. "Were you in on this as well?"

"Only as manual labour." Diane raises her glass to Will. "It was all his idea, though." Alicia doesn't miss the look that passes between the two of them. The slightest lift of Diane's eyebrows; a question. A fractional movement of Will's head; an answer. If Alicia had to guess -- and, really, she knows them both well enough that she hasn't had to do that for a long time -- then the question is probably: 'Does she know?' and the answer: 'Yes'.

"And a fine idea it is, too." Julius' interjection seems to be the cue for the others to launch into a spontaneous (or, 'spontaneous') cheer, followed by a round of congratulations and praise.

Alicia smiles, and thanks them all, and smiles some more.

"Right," says Will. "Now that the guest of honour is here, let's get this party started." Stepping backward, he sweeps an elegant bow and holds out a hand to Alicia, his eyes sparkling mischievously. "Shall we dance?"

"There's no music," she protests, laughing a little helplessly.

"That's easily fixed," he murmurs. He snaps his fingers, and the soundsystem crackles into life. Alicia holds back a wince, still half-expecting it to expire in a cloud of black smoke like the first five stereos he tried this little trick on. Will shoots her a mock-hurt look. Clearly she didn't suppress the wince enough. Or she's just getting predictable in her old age.
(After all, mid-twenties is practically ancient in superhero years. Not that she'd ever let Diane hear her say that, of course. The Iron Lady is first generation, a real old school hero. Back when that was their first and only job. Alicia sometimes envies her that.)

Music fills the room. It's some chart number she vaguely recognises, but doesn't particularly care for. She knows it's not to Will's taste either, but then this party isn't really about them. Either of them. Any of them. So she puts her glass down and takes Will's hand, smiling.

"So let's dance."

After all: whatever else might be said about them, they do dance well together.

"You wanted to see me?"

Eli Gold looks up to see a woman standing in his doorway, an inscrutable expression on her face. He smiles.

"Kalinda. Yes." He makes a mental note to remind Sarah not to send anyone through without buzzing him first, even if his door is open. "Thanks for stopping by. Come in. Take a seat. Do you want any refreshments? Tea? Coffee? Water?"

Kalinda shakes her head, closing the door behind her and crossing the room with swift, sure strides. "I'm good, thanks." She takes the indicated seat, looking at Eli enquiringly.

"I'll get right to the point," he says, leaning forward. "I need an investigator, and everyone I've asked says you're the best one we have on staff."

He pauses to allow her to respond to that, but she ignores the compliment completely, instead asking: "What do you need investigating?" Her large, dark eyes remain fixed on his face, giving nothing away.

That's good. Businesslike is good. He can work with this.

"I think that the flow of information might have been compromised," he says delicately.

"Internally or externally?" Kalinda takes out a pen and orange notebook, looking at him expectantly.

"Internally," he says, frowning a little to impress upon her the seriousness of the situation. "I can't be certain, but I believe that one or more of the Faces may have access to unauthorised information."

"Why do you believe that?"

"Some of their reactions have been a little... off." He smiles a little self-deprecatingly. "I realise that sounds a little imprecise, but I like to believe I know my team pretty well, and I can tell when something's not quite right."

He expects her to ask the obvious question -- why is it a problem -- but she surprises him with: "When did this start?"

"I don't know," he says, letting a little of his irritation show. "That's what I want you to find out."

"It would be helpful if you can narrow down the timeframe a little."

That makes sense, he supposes. He casts his mind back, trying to work out when he first started suspecting that they -- particularly Alicia -- maybe knew a little more than they should.

"Within the past few weeks, I think." Kalinda writes something in her notebook. "I can't be sure, though," he hastens to add.

"That's fine," she says. "Is it the whole team, or just some of them?"

He hesitates a moment, then decides that there's no particular point in holding back. Not if he actually wants to get to the bottom of this. "Alicia, mainly. Possibly Will as well."

She nods, making some more notes. "Why don't you just tell me everything you can think of that might be relevant?" A small smile, gone as quickly as it appears. "Start at the beginning."

"And you'll be able to find out if there's anything to this?"

Privately, he hopes there isn't anything more than his own paranoia at work here. But just in case there isn't...

"I'll see what I can do."

"Good." Eli takes a deep breath, gets his thoughts in order and begins at the beginning.

*  *  *  *  *

Back in the studio:

HOST: "So, it looks like there's trouble brewing for the New York team. Let's hope Valkyria and Radar manage to put aside their differences long enough for the team to track down and deal with their mysterious antagonist. Could there be a new supervillain on the scene? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Anyway, that's just about it for today's show. Thank you for your thoughts and thank you all for watching. I'll leave you with an exclusive preview of some footage from Chicago. Goodbye from me, Caitlin D'Arcy, and from all the team here at 'Eye on the Sky'. See you next time!"

(Do you suppose she's naturally that perky, or does she just mainline uppers when she's filming? Wow.)

Cut to clips:

The Iron Lady, saying: "It was all his idea."

Close-up of Lady Liberty looking startled.

Mr Magnetism, holding his hand out to Lady Liberty: "Shall we dance?"

Lady Liberty and Mr Magnetism moving in as if to embrace.

Blacklight and Mr Magnetism talking. Blacklight is shaking his head, looking concerned. "You need to be careful, M. You know he's not just going to let this go."

Lady Liberty smiling, holding a bunch of flowers.

Mr Magnetism to Blacklight, smiling confidently: "I know what I'm doing."

Iron Lady, thoughtfully, looking out over the city: "I have a bad feeling about this."

Close-up on Lady Liberty's face as she takes the card from the flowers, showing the way her smile fades as she reads the message.

Mr Magnetism, passionately: "You can't do this!"
Lady Liberty, resolutely: "I have to."

End credits.

(Nice escalation. Let's just hope the pay-off lives up to all the expectation! We need to be very careful how we play this next part. The pacing's going to be tricky, especially with one of our leads being so... independently-minded. Sarah: Did Peter get back to you about that meeting? Oh, he did? Finally! When? Okay, good. That's fine. I think it's best if I handle this one on my own. He gets prickly if he thinks we're trying to 'script' him too much. I don't know. It's like he thinks it's the old days, or something! No, Jerry, I'm sure it'll be fine. When push comes to shove, he knows where his best interests lie, and it isn't in going rogue. Trust me on this one.

So, 'Eye on the Sky' is fine to air. What's next? Oh, right. How's 'At Home with the Superheroes' coming along?)


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 6th, 2012 10:54 am (UTC)
I’m more and more interested!

I really like how you use canon: the superhero context only brings out how much Alicia is a prisoner of her part and tired of being constantly watched by the public eye. Poor Alicia, her life is a reality show! Will Captain Corruption crush Mr Magnetism for his boldness now? I have a feeling that Kalinda is Alicia’s only breath of fresh air in this world of pretend: can’t wait to hear more about them, you really get their way of interacting, with Alicia lighting up around K and doing most of the talking! :-)

I greatly enjoy some other characters as well: Caitlin the host is just her annoyingly perky self! And I already worship Diane as the “old school” Iron Lady <3 Also, well done pinpointing various spectators’ opinions about the actual show, the wink is quite irresistible!
Aug. 6th, 2012 10:25 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you're enjoying the story. :-)

It's a little ironic that Kalinda, with all her layers and masks and secrets and walls, is the one person with whom Alicia feels that she can truly be herself.

I'd pretty much decided on Diane as an old school hero when I had the idea for this story. Caitlin surprised me, though. I didn't know she was going to be the presenter/journalist until I realised I was hearing her dialogue in Caitlin's voice. After that, I couldn't cast her as anyone else.

Thanks for the kind words.

Aug. 6th, 2012 02:13 pm (UTC)
I am still utterly immersed and lost at the same time!

Hee! Old school Supe Diane!

Haha, is Eli the director???? Hm. And yes, perky Caitlin. Always.

*shoves Kalinda* Turning down quality trashy tv time with Lish? Say it ain't so!

Can't wait for the next bit!

Aug. 6th, 2012 10:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the comment. Hopefully you'll feel less lost as I fill in some of the world details. There is more information coming, but I didn't want to do it in one big exposition dump.

Regarding Eli: Yes, he's kind of in charge. That's one of the things that will be explained soon, possibly even in the next chapter.

Aug. 6th, 2012 09:20 pm (UTC)
Interesting, truly interesting. Though I have to wonder, how come some of the superheroes haven't gotten tired of this reality-tv stuff and just flat out started rebelling :D
Aug. 6th, 2012 10:33 pm (UTC)
Indeed. (attempts to look wise and mysterious) :-)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )