I sit in the court room and wait for the bail hearing to begin. A bail hearing for a defendant that should have been convicted a week ago. We had a tight case but then the jury deadlocked and so there will be a retrial. One I am not looking forward to. I glance over to the defendants table which is still deserted. I wonder if Diane Lockhart will also do the retrial when the door to the room is opened. I glance around and see a brunette woman walking in. She stops a few steps into the room and looks around. I get the feeling she's never been in here. After a few moments she continues walking to the front and takes a seat at the defendants table. I watch her more closely and can't remember ever seeing her before. I wonder if Stern & Lockhart are still handling the retrial and check my file. But I am sure I would've noticed if the firm had changed. And yes, they still are. I just found the motion in my file that oddly enough was still done by Diane Lockhart.
"You know her?" Matan, my second chair, leans over to me, gesturing to the table on the other side. I shake my head and rise from my chair walking over to introduce myself.
She sees me advance and also stands up. I finally get a close look at her and now she seems strangely familiar. I extend my hand to shake hers and the moment our fingers touch I feel like an electric jolt hits my body. I nearly retract my hand but manage to ignore it and shake hers. I just inhale sharply and keep my gaze at her eyes. Her face stays calm but I think I see a glimpse of surprise in her mossy eyes and I'd swear she felt it, too.
"Hi, I am ASA Peter Florrick." I smile at her while I still hold her hand in mine and the tingling feeling spreads from my arm into my whole body. I can't remember having felt like this in a long time. Actually just once, in another lifetime.
"Hello, I'm Alicia Gardner. Nice to meet you, Mr. Florrick." she returns my smile but slowly lets go of my hand.
"I am new at Stern & Lockhart. First day!" she adds and looks down at the desk between us.
This can't be. When she tells me her first name I know that I met her before. A long time ago. I push the thought away and finally draw my hand back as I see her client appear at the table, escorted by two guards.
"Good luck!" I smile at her again before I hurry back to my chair next to Matan. I try to concentrate on the proceedings as the judge enters moments later, but it only takes seconds until my gaze is at the defendants table again, watching her going through her files and talking to her client. I remember all to clearly now where and how I met her 10 years ago. Just a brief encounter for a few hours but it stayed with me all this time and I have often wondered what would've happened if I had not let her go. I close my eyes and all of a sudden I recall every single detail of this cold January evening of 1989.
I sit at the bar and drown my second scotch within half an hour. And I am sure it won't be my last as I put the glass down and signal the barkeeper to bring me another one. A few moments later he places a fresh drink in front of me. I grab it but just keep it in my hand, watching the ice-cubes swirl around the amber liquid. I had hoped to escape my thoughts tonight by going to this club, wished the loud music would drown out all that is going through my mind right now. I lost in court today. It's not the first time and it won't be the last time. I know that. But this time I can't blame the judge, the jury or anyone else for the defeat. I had failed my client, a client whose innocence I am certain of. I sigh deeply and turn around on my barstool looking out on the packed dance floor. I wish to be one of them, just enjoying a Friday night without any worries and doubts. I realize that watching happy people only pushes me further down into the dark mood I've been in since the jury came back with their guilty verdict this afternoon. So I turn back towards the counter, letting my gaze wander over the crowd one last time when my attention gets caught by a small group of girls at a table next to the dance floor. I especially notice one of them, as she laughs together with her girlfriends, I seem to hear her laugh even though the music is deafening. Watching her makes me smile for the first time this evening. Not a forced smile as I had to so often today, but one that feels real. I watch her have fun with her friends, see her tuck a loose strand of her shoulder length brown hair behind her ear and again there is her laugh that I seem to feel more than to really hear. I contemplate for a split second to go over to her table and ask her if I can offer her a drink. But then my bad mood strikes me again and I think I should avoid being with company tonight.
I absent mindedly still look into her direction, the thoughts about my client filling my head again, when I realize she is watching me, smiling. I manage to return the smile and am somewhat surprised when I see her leave the table with her friends and walk in my direction. At first I think she passes by me to head for the restrooms, but she stops and sits down on the stool next to me.
"Hi, I thought I'd spare us some time and come over to you to accept your invitation to a drink!" she looks me directly in the eyes, a small smirk on her lips and I am sure she can see the surprise in my face.
"That's what you've been thinking while you were watching me, right?" She still smiles at me and I have to chuckle at her straightforwardness.
"Yes!" I admit and return the smile.
"And why didn't you?" she tilts her head and looks at me expectantly. I chuckle once more and am about to tell her I would've but she was faster, when I pause for a moment and reconsider.
"I don't think I am very good company tonight, so I decided against it. Sorry!" I confess and wonder why I told her the truth. There is something about her I can't quite grasp, just as if she can read me like an open book and would've realized I was lying right away.
"So, you want me to leave?" she watches me, the smile fading from her face but I can hear in her voice that she will not be offended by my answer. I nod slightly.
"Okay." She flashes me a small smile before she slides down from her stool and walks away.
I take a sip from my drink and face the counter again when I suddenly change my mind. I leap from my seat and go after her.
"Wait!" I grab her shoulder and I feel an electrical jolt drive through my arm. She turns and looks at me in surprise. I withdraw my hand from her shoulder as the tingle spreads through my whole body and look into her eyes. They have an emerald color and I see in them that she felt the same.
"I am sorry. Can we start over? I'm Peter. And I really would like you to join me for a drink." I extend my hand and smile apologetically at her.
She tilts her head again and bites her lower lip. I am not sure if she is playing me or really considering to say no.
"Please?" I add and she smiles at me, nodding her head.
"Okay." she takes my hand in hers. I somehow expect another surge when our fingers touch but it only seems to increase the tingling feeling again that was fading away.
Reluctantly I release her hand and guide her back to the bar. Once we have sat down I give the bartender a sign.
"What would you like to drink?" I ask her once I have the bartender's attention. She orders a glass of red wine and I nod in agreement as I join her choice.
"So, would you like to tell me why you think you shouldn't be with company tonight?" she asks me in a sympathetic voice as she leans back a bit and crosses her legs.
I exhale deeply and close my eyes for a moment.
"I guess not. I'd rather forget about it for now." I open my eyes again and can see her friends watching us curiously. The bartender brings our wine and I reach for my glass.
"What should we toast to?" she smiles at me as she lifts her glass.
"To a pleasant evening!" I smile as I see her nod and take a sip from her wine.
"And that you might reveal your name to me?" I wink at her as I also drink from my glass.
"Oh, I'm sorry." she blushes a little and I can't help to think how cute she looks.
"Alicia, my name is Alicia." I can still hear the embarrassment in her voice and smile at her brightly to tell her it's okay.
"Nice to meet you, Alicia." I grab my glass again and toast her once more.
"So, you won't tell me about your day. Then, what would you like to talk about?" she asks me as she puts her glass back on the counter. I chuckle quietly at her sleek attempt to change the topic.
"Won't your friends mind that you left them?" I glance over to their table and see they're still watching us.
"No, they were the ones who sent me over here. As this is my last night in Chicago they said..." she didn't continue and lowered her eyes to her wine glass, twirling the stem between her fingers.
"This is your last night in Chicago?" I can't hide the slight shock and disappointment in my voice as I process her words. Though I have not even spent half an hour in her company yet, I know that I want to see her again.
"Yes, I am going back to school tomorrow and my parents moved, so I won't be back in a long time I guess." her gaze is still fixed to her glass and I think I can hear a hint of sadness in her voice. Though I don't dare to hope it's because she'd also like to see me again. I reach for her glass and withdraw it from her hand.
"Would you like to dance?" I ask her as I think that talking seems rather senseless now that I know I'll probably never see her again.
She lifts her gaze and just nods while I take her hand to lead her to the dance floor.
The moment I touch her again the tingling sensation returns and I think that I have never felt more alive than tonight. I'm in luck and the moment we reach the dance floor a slow song starts and I get to pull her closer. As I slide my arm around her waist she looks up to me and when I watch her eyes I am sure this time she does feel the same.
We dance until the music stops and the light goes on. I feel like waking from a dream and look around, realizing we're the only ones left on the dance floor. The whole club looks deserted as just a few other guests are left, already in the process of leaving.
I slowly loosen my embrace around her as she lifts her head that rested on my chest for quite some time now and looks at me. I see in her features what I feel, sadness that we have to leave and inevitably have to say Good Bye. I take her hand as we slowly walk to the coat check and from there out to the street. It's snowing and quiet outside.
"I am sorry your friends left. I hope I didn't interrupt your last evening together." I manage a half-smile and squeeze her hand, that still rests in mine, lightly.
"It's okay." she assures me, also smiling sadly. "I'll see them in the morning. They'll drive me to the airport."
I nod at her words as I watch the snowflakes resting on her hair glisten in the light from the street lamp.
"How will you get home? We could see if we can get a cab." I am not ready to let her go yet and hope I can extend being with her.
"No, I live near here. I'll just walk." She shakes her head lightly and takes my other hand in to hers.
"Then I'll walk you home."
"No, you don't have to." she shakes her head again and I can hear in her voice that she means it.
"Okay!" I smile disappointedly and lower my gaze to the ground.
"Will I see you again?" I whisper after a few moments of silence and lift my head again to look at her. She smiles at me, leans closer and kisses me lightly on the lips.
Before I have a chance to realize what's really going on I feel her letting go of my hands and see her turn around and walking away.
Matan's nudge on my upper arm brings me back to reality. I look around a little disoriented and hear the judge say my name.
"Mr. Florrick? Do you have anything to add or is the prosecution fine with electronic monitoring?" the judge looks directly at me and I can see that he is annoyed. I simply nod and glance over to Matan who watches me concerned. The judge concludes the bail hearing and I hear Matan gather his files and getting up. My gaze is already at the defendants table and I watch Alicia do the same. I am sure it's her and I need to talk to her.
"You coming?" Matan stands next to me and gestures towards the door.
"I have to discuss something with opposing counsel." I tell him and watch him shake his head before he walks toward the exit. I slowly pack my files in my briefcase watching Alicia still talking to her client when the guards approach their table to bring her back to custody until the paperwork for the electronic monitoring is done.
I hear them say good bye and get up to wait for her at the door.
I feel nervous as I see her walking towards me. She stops in front of me watching me inquiring.
"Is it really you?" I manage to ask her in a low voice. She nods and smiles sadly.
"Can we talk?"