A knock on my door lets me look up from my notes I'm taking for the trial that starts tomorrow. Matan opens the door without waiting for my answer. Actually I'm surprised he knocked at all. Usually he just storms inside.
"Peter, there is someone here to see you." he tells me before stepping back to clear the doorway. I have no time to wonder who this visitor might be or to think about the odd expression on Matan's face before Alicia steps into my office. I exhale quietly, hoping the shock is not too visible on my face. It's been months since I saw her the last time in person. Not counting the times she appears before my inner eye during various situations. The look on her face I see every time I pass the spot outside in the hallway where she chose to break the news to me she'd return to her husband or the happy smile playing on her lips the only morning I was lucky enough to wake up with her by my side. I close my eyes briefly, part of me hoping she might be gone when I open them again though I know the quick glance I got of her is already burned into my memory.
"Hello Peter." I open my eyes as she addresses me, still lingering in the doorway. I sense that she's not comfortable either with this and I wonder what made her show up here in the first place.
"Hi." I reply, finally looking into her face trying to ignore her prominent belly. She avoids my glance staring at the floor.
"May I?" she peers up looking at the chair in front of my desk. I nod and she turns to close the door before she steps forward sitting slowly down opposite me. Eventually she looks at me for a short moment. This time I can't keep her glance and start to rearrange the papers in front of me.
"So, may I ask what brought you..." "You surely wonder why I'm here...?" we both start talking at the same time. We fall silent again, sharing a fleeting look.
"Yes, I was asking myself what brought you here. But let me guess. It's about Owen, right?" I reply to her question with the only reason that comes to my mind why she would show up here.
"Yes, it is." she nods.
"You know I'm not the prosecutor. So why are you here?"
"Yes, I know you are not the prosecutor but I thought you could help nonetheless. We know that it doesn't look good for Owen with the witness you have against him. But your colleague doesn't even want to talk about a deal that might keep Owen out of jail. He's determined to bring this to trial. I looked at the evidence against him and I have little hope a jury will come back in his favor. But I simply can't believe that Owen did something like this. He's terrified of going to jail, Peter. You know what he might have to face there. Can't you talk to the other ASA?" her eyes at least meet mine at the end of her little speech, pleading with me to help her brother. I slowly shake my head as I simply can't get involved in this.
"As much as I'd like to help Owen in this, I just can't. I didn't believe for a second that he was guilty though the evidence they have against him speaks something else. But I can't do anything. We have a strict order to go for jail time in drug cases that involve dealing and with the witness, my colleague has no other choice than go for a trial if Owen doesn't agree to a plea bargain that includes serving time." I explain to her and see her face fall. She seemed to have put high hopes to this visit and it pains me to disappoint her.
"I see." she states, her eyes fixed on a spot behind me.
"I'm sorry, Alicia." I offer a bit of consolation strangely aware of the irony in that.
"Thank you for your honesty though, Peter." her eyes find mine and I can see she means it.
"Does Owen have no idea who could've put the pot into his locker. Does he have any enemies, someone who would want to harm him? Students? Colleagues?"
"We already have an investigator look into this. There are some possibilities but nothing concrete yet." she replies.
"I hope you'll find something." I manage a small smile and see her return it.
"Thank you, Peter. Also for being there with him the night he got arrested. I think you made him realize this wasn't a joke." the smile still lingers on her lips, though I can see it's a forced one.
"My pleasure. I really hope this will come to a good end."
"We all do." she gets up from the chair. I should be glad she's leaving but a part of me wants her to stay.
"How are you?" I bite my tongue the moment the words have left my mouth asking myself why I keep torturing me and not just let her leave.
"I'm good. Thanks for asking, Peter." she smiles at me again, a real smile that reaches her eyes this time. I get up too, walking around my desk.
"Good. I never wanted anything else than to see you happy." I watch her and count on her lowering her eyes once more. But to my surprise she holds my glance. I have no idea why I told her that. Maybe because it is the truth. I wish her nothing but happiness though it devastates me that she didn't find it with me.
"I know. Thank you." she flashes me another smile before she turns towards the door. She already has her hand on the knob when she faces me again.
"Goodbye, Peter." she holds out her hand and I reach out for it. I'm not at all prepared for the jolt that hits me once our fingers touch though I should've known it, given our history with this happening. I know she felt it too as she lets go off my hand abruptly. I look at her, thinking I can see a stunned expression on her face. The next moment she puts one hand on her stomach.
"Are you alright?" I ask her worried.
"Yeah, the baby just kicked again the same moment we..." she trails off, casting down her glance.
'Exchanged sparks' I complete her sentence in my head. That's what we used to call it when we started dating back then, what appears as another life time to me now.
"I should go. Thank you, Peter." she hurries to say and this time she really opens the door.
"Goodbye, Alicia." I watch her walking away. Once she has left my view I close the door and sit down behind my desk again thinking about what just happened.
A few moments later my office door flies open. Jim, another ASA hurries into my office.
"Peter, come fast. The visitor you just had. She collapsed in the hall."
Seconds later I come to a halt in the hallway. Alicia lies on the floor and I kneel down beside her. A court reporter I know kneels on her other side, putting a sweater beneath her head.
"What happened? Did you see it?" I ask her, reaching for Alicia's hand which feels cold and fragile in mine.
"I didn't see it properly. She just fell down. We already called for an ambulance. They should be here any minute." she tries to calm me down. I just nod at her, turning my attention back to Alicia.
"Hey, Alicia?" I gently pat her cheek but her eyes stay closed. I clench her hand in mine, desperate for her to respond. I feel so helpless and peer along the hallway, trying to will the paramedics to show up. I look down at Alicia again but her expression hasn't changed. I hope I only imagine that she even appears more pale than a few moments before. Finally I hear the siren of the ambulance outside and not a minute later the first paramedic hurries around the corner. I try to get out of the way as they start checking on her but can't bring myself to let go of her hand.
"How far along is she?" one paramedic asks me but I can only shrug my shoulder.
"You're not the husband?" he asks me.
"No, I'm just a friend. I guess 6th or 7th month, but I'm not sure." I try answering his questions and he just nods. I watch them putting her on an IV and suddenly another paramedic with a gurney appears. I finally have to let go of her hand when they lift her up. I step back and gasp when I see the blood on the floor from where they picked her up.
"What's wrong with her?" I ask them, not able to keep my voice down.
"Not sure yet. We need to bring her to the hospital to check this out further." he shrugs apologetically. I'm aware that even if they knew what was wrong with her they can't tell me as I'm not related to her. I step next to the gurney to get one last look at her when she blinks and slowly opens her eyes.
"What happened?" she whispers and I try to smile at her.
"You fainted. They'll get you to the hospital. You'll be fine." I tell her, trying to calm her as I can see the panic in her eyes.
"Is something wrong with my baby?" tears start forming in her eyes as she looks from me to the paramedics and back at me.
"We don't know yet. We have to get you to the hospital now." they start rolling her away but she grabs my hand.
"Will you come with me, Peter? Please!" she looks straight into my eyes, the tears now streaming from hers.
"Sure." I nod. I'm not sure this is the smartest thing to do as I sense I will be running into Will at the hospital but the fear in her eyes won't give me another chance. And neither does the love I still feel for her.