"Don't you dare set one foot on that ladder." I nearly let the paint-can I'm carrying into the soon-to-be nursery fall to the floor when I see Alicia one hand on the ladder and her other one holding a piece of the wallpaper-border.
She jumps back a bit from the ladder at my words, exclaiming a sound of surprise.
"Owen, you scared me! I thought you were out longer." she smiles apologetically at me, but I know she is not really sorry and hates that everyone keeps her from doing things she is used to do on her own.
"Thank heavens I wasn't! Otherwise I would probably have found you lying on the floor." I put the paint-can down and walk over to her, taking the painting utensils from her.
"Sit down and let me do that. That's what I am here for anyway." I gesture towards the couch and earn a heavy sigh from my sister. I prepare for an argument that I'm afraid to lose, but she just smiles at me and places a kiss on my cheek before she actually sits down.
"Thank you, Owen. You know Will wanted to do it but he's too busy right now. Big new client..." I watch her putting both her hands on her now highly visible stomach, a sad smile on her lips.
"Are you alright, sis?" I sit down on the armrest next to her, placing my hand on her shoulder squeezing it gently.
"I am, Owen. Why shouldn't I be?" she looks up at me, smiling and covering my hand with hers.
I return her smile and try to convince myself I only imagine the hint of sadness in her eyes behind the smile she offers me. I avoided the topic of her going back to Will after she discovered his infidelity but I'm aware that she knows I think it was a mistake. We had a rather big fight when she moved out of my guest room after her reconciliation with Will and I've bitten my tongue ever since. I guess I should go on doing so but I'm not sure I will be able for much longer.
"I wonder if something has changed for you since you're back with Will. It doesn't seem to me, sis." I feel her stiffen next to me and I peer down to see her stare out the window on the opposite side of the room.
"I am happy, Owen." she says with emphasis.
"Forget I said anything, Alicia." I get up from the couch and busy myself with the glue and brush, deciding not to delve into the subject any deeper.
"Do you want the border on all four walls?" I change the topic and hold up a piece of wallpaper for her. She simply nods at me, her gaze is once more toward the window as her hand draws small circles on her belly.
I start working in silence, sometimes peering over to my sister but she remains in her spot and I really don't know what to think of that.
I managed to put up the border on two walls when I hear the front door and only seconds later Will calling out Alicia's name.
She's startled by it but recovers before he enters the room, smiling up at him once he walks in.
"Here you are. Oh, I see you made progress." he greets us, looking around the room before sitting down next to Alicia, placing a small kiss on her cheek.
"How are you, honey?" he puts his hand above hers on her stomach, smiling but as I watch him closely I don't see the smile reach his eyes.
"I'm, good. Owen made me watch all the time. I wasn't even allowed to help him a little." she winks at me.
"He better. I bet you had to tie her down, hadn't you, Owen?" he chuckles.
"She behaved. But I better get out of your hair now. I'll come back next week to finish if you don't have the time for it Will." I start collecting the brushes and cans slightly peering in my brother-in-laws direction to see his expression freeze.
"I'm sorry I can't be of any help here. But I'll see if I can finish it over the weekend. I sometimes wish I had a teaching assistant's schedule." he grins at me as I place the working materials in a box.
"I love to help preparing the room for my little niece or nephew. So, don't bother making time for it in your busy schedule, Will. Bye, sis."
"Bye, Owen. Thank you. I really appreciate your help. All of it." she stands and hugs me before I leave.
Once I'm on the street I have no desire to go home. I walk around for a while, trying to clear my head. I can't shake the thought that my sister isn't really happy and nothing has changed for her, aside the fact she's expecting a child. I so hope she made the right decision by staying with Will, not just for the baby but also for herself.
I stop for a second, trying to figure out where my aimless walking has led me and realize I stand in front of a bar. I ponder going in for a drink and go for it as I remember it's Friday anyhow and I have nothing else to do tonight. I walk into the semi-lit room, looking around it and slowly steer towards the bar as all tables are taken. I gesture to the bartender and order a tequila, feeling the need to swallow down the afternoon with my sister. I look around the room and suddenly see Peter sitting a few stools down the bar, staring into a glass of scotch. Fitting, I think, that I run into him today of all days. I contemplate paying and leaving before he sees me but stay in my seat. I order a glass of wine and once it's served I pick it up to walk down the bar towards Peter.
"Hi." I put my glass down on the bar, watching him turn his head at me, his eyes widening in surprise.
"Hello, Owen." his voice stays neutral, not giving away if he'd rather have me leave again.
"Do you mind if I sit down? Or should I leave you alone. I can understand if you don't want to talk to me." I flash him a half-smile and see him nod, turning his head away again to watch the ice-cube in his drink.
"Go ahead, Owen. I don't mind."
"How are you?" I take a sip from my wine and wonder if approaching him was such a good idea. But I liked him from the start and have thought a few times to call him, but ducked out every time because what would I tell him? Though Alicia never told me how he took the break up, I figured he'd be devastated. It had been obvious to me how much he was in love with my sister from the first time I saw them together.
"I'm ok, Owen. You?" he looks up and shifts on his stool to face me.
"I'm good. Thanks for asking."
"That's good." he takes a sip from his scotch, his gaze fixed on a spot behind me.
I drink some more of my wine, raking my brain what to say next as the silence spreads rather awkwardly between us.
"So, work is good?" I ask quite lame as the only other topic that comes to mind is the weather.
"Yeah, still fighting to get the bad guys into prison. While your sister tries to keep them out." he empties his drink in one big gulp, chuckling sarcastically.
"How many of those have you had already?" I nod towards his glass.
"My first and my last. No worries, I am not drowning my heartbreak in scotch every night. What difference would it make? She'd still be with her husband and I'd feel even worse the next morning." he shakes his head lightly.
"I'm sorry she left you, Peter. I never got a chance to tell you that." I nervously play with my glass. "I think she's wrong to be back with Will, even now with the baby..."
"The baby?" Peter's head snaps around, his voice laced with disbelief.
"I thought you knew; I assumed you probably had seen her in court. And it's hard to overlook in the meantime." I wish I had not said anything as he slowly shakes his head, his eyes peering down. I feel like I have torn open a wound again that has not healed yet.
"I'm sorry, Peter. I'd never said anything if I knew you had no idea. This must be a shock for you. I am really sorry."
"It's ok, Owen. It's not your fault." he lifts his glass but lowers it immediately, realizing it's empty.
"Should I order you another one?" I offer him but he shakes his head.
"No, thank you though. I guess it's better you told me now than meeting her by chance. At least I'll be prepared. I really hope she's happy now." he runs his hand through his hair, attempting a smile but fails.
The words 'She seems to be' run through my head but this time I bite my tongue and stay silent. There is no need to feed him false hopes.
"You really loved her." I regret my words as soon as I spoke them out loud. "Sorry, I shouldn't have said that either. I better go. It was a bad idea to address you in the first place. Take care." I stand, putting some money on the counter to cover my drinks and head for the exit. Once outside I walk to the corner, looking around trying to stop a cab to get home.
"Owen?" I turn at the sound of my name and see Peter walking towards me.
"Did I leave anything inside?" I have no idea what other reason Peter might have to come after me.
"No. I'm sorry for giving you the impression you said something you shouldn't have. Learning Alicia is pregnant was painful, because you are right. I really loved her. And knowing she has the life I dreamt of having with her with someone else now hurts more than I thought it still would. But none of this is your fault, Owen. I was too blind to see she didn't love me enough. So if anyone is to blame it'd be me. I'm glad she's happy now. I really am." he lowers his gaze to the ground and it really pains me to see him like this.
"I still love her, you know." he shakes his head at himself, exhaling deeply. I don't know what to say, so I just nod. We stand speechless for a few moments but this time it doesn't feel awkward at all.
"You need a ride home?" Peter breaks the silence first.
"No, don't bother." I decline his kind gesture, shaking my head.
"It won't be, Owen. And I only had that one scotch. In case you were worrying." he grins at me and I nod, accepting his offer.
We speak of other things on the way to my apartment.
"Thanks for the ride, Peter." we shake hands and I exit the car. I walk towards the entrance of the building, searching for my keys in the process. As I look up two police officers block my way.
"Owen Cavanaugh?" one of them asks me. I just nod, still wondering where they've come from.
"You're under arrest for possession and distribution of marijuana. You have the right to remain silent..." I can't believe what I'm hearing and still think this must be a joke of some of my students but then the cuffs click around my wrists and the words of the police officer blend into noise.
"May I ask what this is about, officers?" I turn around, as far as the firm grip the police man holds me in allows me and see Peter standing a few feet away.
"I don't think this is any of your concern, mister." the officer who read me my rights answers Peter and starts dragging me towards the police car that I now see parked at the corner.
"I think it is. I'm ASA Peter Florrick and this man's file might very well turn up on my desk tomorrow."
"Oh. Hi, Mr. Florrick. I didn't recognize you right away." the other officer let's go off me and walks towards Peter. They speak for a few moments but I can't hear a word.
Finally Peter approaches me.
"I can't do anything right now. They say they have evidence against you. So, you'll have to go with them to the station and probably spend the night there. I'm sorry, Owen." he smiles apologetically at me but I can hear the severity in his tone.
"So I'm really in trouble here?"
"Looks like it. I'll follow you to the station and see what I can find out. Do you want me to call anyone? Your mother or... Alicia?" he swallows hard at my sister's name.
"No, not yet. I don't want them to worry before I know more." I shake my head at him, attempting a small smile.
"Let's go!" the officer grabs me by the arm again, guiding me towards the car. I hope to wake up any second from this nightmare when the door slams shut behind me, making me realize I won't.