After The Fall
Summary: "It is, after all, just another day." A pre-Season 1 story. Will, from when he hears of Peter's scandal until Alicia's first day at work.
Author's Note: Not to be confused with the Season 3 episode of the same name. This story is 13 or 14 chapters long and nearly finished; I will post a couple times a week. Also, I have no legal expertise, so please excuse any awkward turns of expression in that regard.
The day has gone by in a flurry of meetings and briefs and so it's evening and he still hasn't heard.
"Crazy about Florrick, isn't it?" says Diane, falling into step with him as he leaves his office.
"Uh, yeah." Will distractedly stuffs papers into his case. He hates the way his eyebrows sometimes still twitch at that name. It's like he's still bracing to assume an expression of fake enthusiasm.
"Florrick. Alicia Florrick. Alicia Florrick, J.D. I think it sounds like a lawyer's name, don't you?" She smiled at him. He faux-smiled back. "I can see what you're thinking, you know." He doubted it. "And I did say all those things, about female identity, and I meant them, but, - I don't know, don't you think the premise is wrong? I mean, Cavanaugh isn't my name, it's my father's name. Why should my father - who I didn't choose - have more ownership over my nomenclature than the man I am choosing?"
Will blinks; the memory disappears. "Those IT guys have been in my office since dawn," he says. "In fact I think they stayed the night. We have got to stop buying tech products from clients who are being sued."
"They took over my computer last week," Diane responds. "To be honest I think it's some sort of power grab."
Her eyes narrow at him, bemused at his non-reaction, so Will returns to the initial thread with some reluctance. "So he is running, then?" he asks, vaguely wondering if Peter will do one of those angelic smiling family ads, with the matching outfits. Somehow he doesn't think she'd allow it.
"Running?" Diane's look is blank. "What are you...?"
"Our esteemed State's Attorney. For Congress. Isn't that - Jim Hughitt mentioned something a few weeks ago. That's not what you're talking about?"
Now her look is incredulous. "Good Lord. No. No. I can't imagine...although I suppose there's a select group of Congressmen with whom he'd fit in quite well now. You know, I think that's when women will know that we've arrived in politics - when we have our first major sex scandal."
"Sex scandal?" Will's feet come to a sudden halt. "Wait, I...what? You don't mean - not Peter Florrick..."
"Yes I do mean," Diane says. "Has IT requisitioned all your communications devices? The Trib broke the story, but now it's on CNN, MSNBC - Hannity's having a ball, the conservatives are all going gaga because the last few have been Republicans. They're pulling out all the Clinton and Edwards footage. The local newscasters are competing to see how many times they can squeeze the word 'prostitute' into their broadcasts."
"No." He sits down on someone's desk. "I can't believe... How could he..."
"I know. Everyone's shocked. Peter Florrick's a smooth operator, sure, but no one thought he was quite that stupid."
Will still can't get his mind around it. "So it's real? It has legs? It's not just someone trying to take him down, earn a quick buck, sling some mud, have their 15 minutes?"
Diane shrugs. "Of course someone's trying to take him down. This is Chicago. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have legs. Apparently there are tapes."
"Yeah. There'll be charges. Misuse of the office, bribes, sex for favors, the usual thing. I'm guessing jail time."
"Is he gonna...?"
"Resign? I've heard there's going to be a press conference tomorrow. I would think so."
"So the State's Attorney's office in chaos." Will thinks for a moment. "What cases do we have on the docket? Because we should really push the angle that.."
"Our opposing counsel is corrupt and can't be trusted? No kidding."
"Who's the heir apparent over there? Childs?"
"I'm guessing it'll be Childs. He's already all over it - giving interviews." Diane nods toward the elevators. "Are you heading down?"
Will considers. "Nah, I think I'll stay and catch up on my current events." He pushes open the doors to the conference room. "See you tomorrow."
Thoughts swirl in his head as he turns on the TV and turns up the volume. Peter's portrait smarms at him from the screen, followed by a shot of his back walking rapidly away from the camera. Will recognizes Daniel Golden behind him, muttering a terse "No comment" before holding a hand up and following. Golden is a down-and-dirty Chicago-style lawyer, with an impressive reputation and a client listed studded with politicos. Pulling out the big guns.
He switches the channel to the local news. Glen Childs appears, standing ramrod straight and oozing self-righteousness. Childs has always seemed to Will like someone with a list of personal grievances dating back to grade school recess who can't wait to dole out retribution. Well, he'll have the chance now.
He clicks again. The Blackhawks are winning. He's never been much of a hockey fan and he's steering himself religiously clear now to avoid the bandwagon. Will despises bandwagons. Click. Click. Click.
Someone at WGN has dug up a clip from Peter Florrick's stump speech a few years ago. Naturally the importance of family and rooting out corruption are two of the themes. The juxtaposition isn't quite Daily Show-level irony, but it gets the point across. The anchors segue with a promise of "New footage when we come back" to the weather report. More rain.
Although Will's early years at the firm overlapped with Peter's stint as an ASA, before his election, he can only think of a few relatively unmemorable occasions when they went up against each other in court. Usually it was Jonas Stern taking him on, presenting juries with a David vs. Goliath-type visual. Personally Will has never been intimidated by Peter's physique; he was a pitcher, he'd learned to stare down boys a foot taller at the age of eleven.
The news returns with some human interest piece about an alpaca farm near the Wisconsin border. Will is just about to switch the TV off when they get back to the story of the hour. The "new footage" is of Alicia; Will stares unblinkingly at the screen as she hustles her kids into the car from the circle drive at their North Shore private school. The death glare Alicia shoots the reporter is enough to send ice down anyone's veins.
It's this that Will doesn't understand about the whole thing. He doesn't like Peter, has never liked him, hated him at first sight, in fact; of course, he was hardly a disinterested party. But even the non-impartial Will of 15 years ago had to acknowledge that Peter seemed to be genuinely in love with Alicia.
So how could he do it? They're interviewing some schmuck off the street on the news, a "Cook County voter," who's spouting some nonsense about Florrick "breaking the public trust." But Will doesn't give a shit about that. How could he do it to Alicia? Alicia who thought he was everything. Alicia who gave up her career so he could have everything, the kids and the house and the office. And the wife.
That fucking asshole.
Will shuts off the TV and glances at his watch. He's meeting someone for drinks at 10, Marie, who he's been sort of seeing on and off for the past few weeks. He thinks about canceling but decides against it. It is, after all, just another day.
But when she sidles up to him hopefully as they leave the bar, clearly wanting to be asked back to his place, Will packs her off in a cab and walks home in the rain.