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Someone Else's Laundry

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The truth – the really fucking embarrassing, makes-him-feel-like-shit truth – is that by the time Will pushes inside of her, he’s forgotten her name.  Karen, he thinks, absently.  Kira?  He settles for Oh, God

She remembers his name, and she says it over and over, her pitch getting higher and higher, and it rings in his ears like an accusation.  

It’s kind of a low point, for him.

Afterwards, she lights a cigarette and he fumbles with the remote because anything is better than trying to make conversation.  This is what rock bottom feels like, he thinks, but the thing is, he’s hit rock bottom a few times before and it’s never involved a twenty-two year old without a name.  It’s involved cards and bookies and booze and coke and Celeste, but it’s never been quite like this.  It’s never felt sleazy before.

"Wait, go back," the girl says as he flips past the news and over to ESPN.  "I know that guy."

Will does as he’s told, and Peter Florrick’s face fills the screen.  The polls haven’t been closed long, but, no surprise, Peter won.

"I know that guy," the girl says again as they cut to a live shot of Peter in a room full of celebrants.

"Peter Florrick," Will supplies.  "The new State’s Attorney.  Half-decent shooting guard."  He doesn’t look.  The last thing he needs, right now, is to catch a glimpse of Alicia Florrick in the background.  The last thing he needs is to see her smiling beside her husband and looking around with eyes that never stop judging.  He doesn’t look, but he can’t help but hear it when Peter says her name.

"— And my wife, Alicia, who’s home with our children right now.  Gracie, sweetie, turn off the TV and go to bed— "

"Turn it off."  The girl’s voice is strained, and Will does, confused.

"You okay?" he asks her.

"That guy," the girl says.  "You know him?"

Will nods.  "Yeah," he says, looking over at her.  Kara?

"He’s got a wife and kid?"

"Two kids," Will corrects.  He’s pretty sure this night can’t get much worse.

"Hunh."  The girl is quiet, and she takes a drag of her cigarette.  "Wow."

"What?"  He doesn’t really want to know.  Karlie?

The girl shrugs.  Kimberley?  "Nothing, really.  I just don’t remember seeing a ring when I fucked him last week.  Do you mind if I use your bathroom?"

"Yeah, fine," Will mumbles.  He closes his eyes and tries not to think about the way his stomach is lurching, tries not to think about anything at all.  He can’t get the image out of his head, though, Alicia—gorgeous and brilliant Alicia—lying alone in bed waiting for her husband.  Peter with his smarmy grin and hulking frame chatting up—Katrina?—some girl in a bar and he really thinks he might be sick.

The girl emerges from the bathroom and reaches for her dress, that little scrap of red that caught his eye in the bar a few hours ago.  She pulls it over her head the leans in to press a quick kiss against his lips.  "I hate to do this," she says.  "Screw and dash like this, you know?  But I’ve got Torts at nine tomorrow and I haven’t read yet."  She laughs, and Will nods, dully. 

"It’s fine," he assures her.  "I’ve got court in the morning, so— "

The girl grins and presses a piece of paper into his hand.  "Call me sometime, if you want to do this again," she says, and then she’s gone.   Kendra, he thinks.

Will balls the paper up in his fist and throws it at the television.

On Wednesday, before the game, Will sees Peter in the locker room and before he can stop himself, he’s throwing a punch.  He punches once, then again, and he’s about to get a third hit in when Peter shoves him back.

"What the hell are you—?"

"You really wanna know?"  Will is shouting, and maybe he shouldn’t, but the truth is, he doesn’t give a damn who hears him.  "Ask Katie.  That cute little 1L from Northwestern.  Ask her what’s— "

"Who?"  Peter’s confusion looks real, and it makes Will want to hit him again.

"Kylie," he says.  "Auburn hair, big brown eyes, first person in her family to go to college, or did you even get that far before you— "

The confusion fades, and Peter narrows his eyes, jaw set into a hard line.  "I don’t know what you’re talking about, Gardner," he says, but the thing is, Will knows that he does. 

"You don’t deserve her," Will mutters, turning to go.  He’s not talking about Khloë and he doesn’t really give a damn if Peter knows it.

On Friday, he leaves the office early and drives out to Highland Park, determined to— He doesn’t even know what, not really.  He just knows that he’s been thinking about it since Tuesday and she deserves to know.  Alicia deserves to know. His GPS informs him that his destination is ahead on the left and he parks across the street from the house. He’s never actually seen it, but it’s nice. Beautiful, really. It’s half-hidden behind some shrubs, but he can see a big porch and a swing hanging from a big tree in the front yard. It’s the kind of house you raise kids in, he thinks. The kind of house that was built for a family. The color doesn’t fit with the rest of the neighborhood, and that makes him smile, though he’s not really sure why.

He’s halfway out of the car when he hears a little girl’s laughter, and he stops, spots Alicia chasing the girl through the yard. She’s laughing too, and he watches as the girl wrestles Alicia to the ground, climbs on top of her and, Will thinks, tickles her, from the way Alicia shrieks. "Stop, stop!" Alicia begs, and her daughter lets up.

Will closes his car door. He can’t tell her about Kelly, not with her daughter there. Grace, he reminds himself. Peter called her Grace, on television.

He drives out again, on Monday, when kids should be in school. He knocks, but no one answers.

On Tuesday, he has a witness fall through so he’s in the office until midnight.

Peter doesn’t show up at the gym on Wednesday.

Thursday, he tries again, but Peter pulls into the driveway before he can muster up the courage to get out of the car.

On Friday, he sees Alicia rounding the corner on foot as he drives up the block and he rolls down his window, almost calls her name, but then he sees Peter, next to her, sees her reach for his hand, sees her smile, and it hurts, how after ten years of marriage she’s still so obviously in love with her husband.

He lets it go, after that. He shouldn’t and he knows it, but all weekend he keeps seeing Alicia’s smile, how happy she is. Maybe he’s a coward, but he doesn’t want to be the one to chase the light from her eyes. He can’t.

Two years later, he hears about it on the radio, on the way back from a client meeting. He hears State’s Attorney and resignation expected and prostitute, and he almost hits a bike courier, pulling over to the side of the road. He opens the door to his car, pukes into the street, and he feels like his lungs are exploding, like he can’t fucking breathe.

He turns his car around, drives too fast for the icy roads, and he’s turning onto her street before he realizes that he has no idea what he would even say. There’s a news van, in the spot where he used to park, a couple of soccer moms standing at the end of the driveway and gawking.

He drives past the house without stopping.

He should have told her two years ago.

"You’re late," Diane tells him when he picks up the phone. "That 3L from Northwestern that we’re interviewing is here. Casey what’s-her-name."

Casey. Of course.

It’s a whole new kind of rock bottom.