Dancefloor Dust

Chapter 16

I have no idea what is going on as I watch Will glare at Owen, walking over to him. Owen's face is in shock like he regrets his words. But the longer Will stares at him the more determined his facial expression gets.

"Yes, Owen, what do you mean?" Veronica's voice appears from the door behind me but my gaze is fixed on the two men in front of me. Owen's words about me having more reason to be here than Will ring in my ears but I'm totally clueless on what he means. I know that Owen would rather see me with his sister than Will but that's hardly a reason for his statement.

"I'm sure Will knows exactly what I'm talking about. Don't you, Will?" Owen straightens his shoulders, an accusing tone in his voice. Will moves back a step and his face falls. He really seems to know what Owen is referring to.

"I have no idea what you're talking about, Owen. We have no time for your games. We should concentrate on Alicia and nothing else. And I'd prefer if non-family members would leave. Is that too much to ask?" the hint of surprise I saw a few seconds ago has left Will's face as he turns and directs his last words to me.

"Oh, you have finally picked up on the fact that Alicia should be our main concern? Do you care at all about her and the baby? Especially the baby." Owen continues to attack his brother-in-law before I can react.

"I'm leaving." I walk towards the exit as I start to feel really uncomfortable now.

"You better stay, Peter." Owen calls after me. "This concerns you as much as it does my sister."

"Would you please tell us now what you know, Owen." Veronica walks past me towards her son.

"Should I or do you want to tell them your little secret, Will?" Owen's glance wanders from Will to his mother and over to me and I think I can see a glimpse of satisfaction in his eyes, like he has waited for this for quite some time.

"What is he talking about? What little secret, Will?" Veronica nearly shouts at Will.

"I have no idea, Veronica." Will shakes his head, attempting an appeasing smile.

"So, you choose to go on lying?" Owen goes on patronizing Will.

"What is he lying about?" I can't hold my curiosity back much longer but my head races around Owen's words again. What does all of this have to do with me?

"Owen, don't!" Will hisses, glaring angrily at his brother-in-law.

"So, you seem to know after all what Owen is about to tell us, Will." Veronica states.

"He does know, mom. He's just not man enough to admit it."

"I will deny everything, Owen. And I doubt you have actual proof of what you're about to accuse me of." Will sneers.

"I do have proof, Will. Proof that you are not the baby's father."

Veronica gasps at Owen's words but aside from that it's suddenly silent in the room. I find it hard to wrap my brain around what Owen just said. If Will isn't the father of Alicia's baby, then who is it? As I have no idea how far along she is I can't calculate but there might be a slim possibility that it's my child. I swallow hard, not sure if I should ask what I'm suspecting.

"Does this mean..?" I mutter, staring at Owen for an answer.

"It means nothing, Mr. Florrick. She is my wife. She left you to get back together with me. Alicia has made her choice and nothing of this is any concern to you." Will's voice is like ice and for a second I feel the urge to walk over and punch him. But instead I step back and sit down.

"You can deny it all you want, Will. I have the papers that prove you're not able to have kids because you had a vasectomy years ago. How could you do this to my sister? Lie to her for all this time when you knew she wanted kids. How can you look at yourself in the mirror?" Owen asks him, an appalled look on his face.

"You snooped around in my office, didn't you? While I tried to keep you out of jail though we all know you did what they accuse you of. How do you live with that?" Will hisses equally disgusted.

"So, it is true, Will? You're shooting blanks?" Veronica has found her voice again but still stares at her son-in-law in shock.

"That's none of your business." he's quick to respond to her.

"But it's my daughter's business whose kid she's carrying. So, is Owen saying the truth?" Will just slightly nods his head at her question and I can't believe he really admits it.

I had no doubt in Owen's words as I know he loves his sister and would never put her through this if it wasn't true. It slowly sinks in that I really might be the father of Alicia's child and can't help but smile at the thought. But the happiness is short-lived as I recall Will's words. She left you to get back together with me. It's the truth. She chose Will instead of me and I doubt that knowing she is carrying my child will make a difference how she feels about me. I try to imagine what knowing she's not carrying her husband's child will do to Alicia, to her dream of the perfect family. Can I destroy that for her by allowing she learns of this? Even if it means she and the kid will never know the truth, at least not from me. I know I can't keep Owen or Veronica from telling her. I believe she has a right to know but no one else than Will has a duty to come clean about his deceit.

"You're not the father? Oh my god." Veronica shakes her head and sits down.

"No, I can't be. But this doesn't make him the father either." Will points at me. "I will make sure you never see this child." he hisses.

"That's barely your decision to make." Owen shouts at Will, walking over to my side of the room.

"You don't think my sister will want to have anything to do with you once she knows?"

"Stop it, Owen. I beg you not to tell her. Neither should you, Veronica. As I won't tell her. It's not our secret to tell. If someone has to come clean to her, it's you, Will. I don't know how you can live with such a lie but you can relax, I won't reveal your secret." I state, looking at each of them.

"Peter, but we have to tell her." Owen exclaims but I just shake my head at him.

"No, we don't. As I said Will has to tell her. I won't be responsible for bringing such news to her. All I want for her is to be happy and as Will said she chose him not me. Knowing this won't change it as much as I wish it did."

"Are you sure?" Veronica addresses me.

"Yes, I am. And I will continue to stay away from her. She only reached out for me today to help you, Owen. Which, as you know, I would but can't. I'm sorry." I get up from my seat to give my words more significance.

"Excuse me." a voice from the door startles all of us. A nurse has entered the room without us noticing.

"Yes?" Will bellows at her.

"I just wanted to tell you that Alicia woke up. But as the baby is still too much in distress the doctors decided to keep her asleep. It would be better if all of you came back tomorrow to see her." she tells us briefly and leaves.

"Please keep me posted on how she does, Veronica. I can't stay longer." Will says, reaching for his cell. "But we are not done, yet, Owen." he shoots his brother-in-law an angry look before he rushes out the door, while the rest of us watch him leave in disbelief.

"Peter, can we talk about this some more? Now that Will has left." Owen finds his voice again.

"I've said it all, Owen. Don't try to persuade me to do something I might regret."

"I think you will regret it if you walk now. Do you really think Will is going to ever tell her?"

"Are you really sure it is my kid?" I voice the question that burns inside of me since Will admitted it couldn't be his.

"I have no doubt, Peter. I can't imagine Alicia sleeping with someone else after she left you and before she went back to Will. You did have sex after all?" he carefully asks me. I nod and the memory of that night is instantly back.

"But we used protection, Owen." I sigh as I remember the box of condoms in her nightstand with Owen's note.

"Well, we all know condoms aren't 100% safe, right? Don't worry, Peter. It's your child. As my mom said, Will is shooting blanks." he tries to cheer me up when I suddenly recall the second and last night we spent together. I close my eyes as the memory of waking up to realize she was gone still hurts. I still have no idea if she already knew she would leave me and maybe I'll never find out but I know none of us thought of protection that night.

"So, you're sure you won't tell her? You really will let him raise your kid?" Owen jerks me from my thoughts.

"No, I don't want him to raise my child, but my needs aren't important. Your sister is and your little niece or nephew. Learning this now could put both of them in danger. Will you take responsibility for that?" he shakes his head at my words.

"Peter?" I turn my head at Veronica's voice and see her entering the room. I hadn't even noticed that she had left.

"Yes, Veronica?"

"I talked to the doctor. You can go and see her for a few minutes. I think you should at least do that, right?"

"I don't know." I'm not sure if I will have the strength to leave her again if I see her now that I'm almost sure she's pregnant with my child.

"You just said you will stay away from her and there is a possibility you'll never see her again. I agree with my son that Alicia should be told but I respect your decision we shouldn't be the ones to do so. It proves to me that you really love my daughter by putting her happiness before your needs and the rights you'll certainly have regarding the kid. Maybe you should take this chance to say goodbye?" she tells me seriously. I nod as I can only agree.

"No, Mom. You can't say that. Who knows what Peter will think about this in a few weeks time. You can't decide to give up on your child in a heartbeat, Peter. Maybe you'll reconsider. And who knows what Alicia might do once she knows." Owen still hasn't given up.

"Your sister made that decision for me, Owen. She left me without knowing she'd have my child because she didn't love me. I won't force myself into her life by suing her for visitation hours. And knowing Will, that's what it would come down to." I'm tired of this conversation as it doesn't seem to lead us anywhere. All I want is to see Alicia briefly, though I know this will be painful, it might give me some closure.

"You think she'd stay with him after he betrayed her like this." Owen is still not done trying to make me change my mind.

"She stayed with him after she learned he cheated on her. So, we don't know..."

"Will cheated on her?" I cut Veronica off, taking a deep breath to process this news.

"Yes, he did. And you honestly want to let him raise your kid?" Owen goes on.

"Look, Owen, I'm thankful for you being on my side but I won't change my mind. I'll go say goodbye to Alicia now and after that I'll be out of your lives. That's the only way for me to handle this. Can you please accept that?" I say louder than I meant it but it seems to have some effect on Owen as he just silently nods.

"Thank you." I try to smile at him as I turn to walk outside.

A few minutes later a nurse shows me into Alicia's room.

"No longer than ten minutes and please don't wake her up." she tells me before she leaves me alone.

I slowly walk to her bed and sit down on the chair that is placed in front of it. I look at her face and it appears even paler against the white hospital bedding than I remember it from the ambulance earlier. She is hooked to an IV and a monitor stands next to the bed, it's wiring disappears under the sheet.

I watch the monitor more closely and sigh deeply as I realize it's the baby's heartbeat. My baby's heartbeat. I still have problems to acknowledge that this tiny life growing inside of Alicia is also a part of me. I had never really thought about having kids of my own before Alicia came into my life but when she told me why her marriage failed, I had no problem imagining myself with her and kids. But that dream died the moment she told me she'd return to her husband.

And now here I am, knowing she'll have my child after all but I won't play a part in their lives. It hurts to know that I will probably never see my kid, that it will never know that I'm his or her dad but I don't see any other possibility. I wonder what the kid will look like and imagine a miniature version of Alicia with light brown curls and a little boy with dark hair and her eyes.

I close my eyes and shake my head to get rid of the images. When I open them my gaze rests on Alicia's face again. I slowly reach out my hand and place it gently on her belly. I repress the urge to caress it lightly while I check her face for any sign she might wake up. But she keeps on breathing evenly and I release the breath I have been holding.

I try not to think about this probably being the last time I see her. The thought of leaving Chicago crosses my mind as I realize knowing my kid is only a few miles away from me but out of my reach might be too much for me to bear. I prepare myself for leaving Alicia's side and stroke lightly over her hand that rests on the bed and a slight jolt prickles through my fingertips. I retract my hand quickly, cursing myself for not anticipating that this would happen. I look up and see her eyes flutter. I don't dare to move and hope she won't wake up.

My hand still rests on her stomach and I feel a movement under my palm. I gasp as I realize that I just felt my baby kick. I lean back in my chair, eyes closed, leaving my hand where it is, hoping it might move once more. But instead of another kick I suddenly feel a hand on mine. My eyes fly open and I see Alicia's hand on top of mine. I slowly retract my hand from under hers, turning my head to check if she's still asleep.

"Peter?" she sleepily murmurs and has trouble to keep her eyes open.

"Hey!" I smile at her. "Go back to sleep. You need to rest."

"The baby kicked. That woke me up. What are you still doing here?"

"I know." I say, noticing too late that by saying that I will draw her attention to the fact I had my hand on her stomach when the baby kicked.

"Making sure you are ok." I'm quick to answer her question. "Your mom and Owen are outside, too."

"And Will?"

"He was here but got called away to a client's emergency. He'll be back soon." I lie to her, not able to tell her the truth.

"Ok." she whispers and I get the feeling that she's still half asleep and probably won't remember any of this.

"I will let you sleep now. Take care of yourself and your baby, Alicia." I get up from the chair to leave but she grabs my hand and I feel the once familiar tingling again.

"Thank you for coming with me. It means a lot." she smiles, her thumb stroking the back of my hand.

"My pleasure. Goodbye." I smile back and before I can think it through I lean down and kiss her briefly on the lips. I turn and leave the room fast, trying to push the thought that this might be our last Goodbye from my mind.

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