A/N: Well, here it is, the one everyone has been asking for. Enjoy!
Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a daddy.
Detective, your husband is not this child's father.
He heard Ricky's shout of rage and immediately bolted for the front of the courtroom. Waters ran right into him and he had no trouble restraining him. It gave him great satisfaction to tell the bastard: "You will never touch her again."
"I should have killed you when I had the chance."
He watched the bailiffs drag Waters from the courtroom before he turned away. His eye caught hers and he hesitated briefly before he returned to his seat. Detective, your husband is not this child's father. His first reaction to the judge's announcement was surprise, followed by a murky confusion as his mind stumbled over the words, failing to process them.
...not this child's father...
If not Ricky, then who? What the hell did it mean? Could the lab have been wrong? And if not, then who could Maggie's father be? The judge's voice cut through his confusion. "I see from the latest amendment to your petition that you are currently pregnant again.."
His eyes widened and he searched for a reaction from her. He saw the subtle stiffening of her back as she answered, "Yes, sir."
Nothing else registered beyond the fact that he couldn't breathe. "I, uh...I...need some air," he muttered into Logan's ear. Before Logan could reply, Goren was gone.
He got to the park and just walked, trying to calm himself and get his jumbled thoughts into some kind of order. First, he had to get a handle on his emotions. Your husband is not this child's father. Those few words had his head spinning. If Ricky wasn't her father, then who was? He didn't even have any potential candidates. Okay, Goren...first things first. Ricky isn't her father. Does it really matter who is? It's not him.
He looked around, wondering vaguely if he was talking to himself. If he didn't pay a little more attention he'd end up pacing himself right into a tree. His head was spinning enough. But he couldn't get away from it...who could her father be?
She looks so much like you, son...
He'd dismissed his mother's comments as the wishful thinking of a woman who wanted terribly to be a grandmother. He felt badly that it was something he would never be able to give her. Just what he needed: more guilt. He never once thought that she was seriously trying to tell him something, to give him something that wasn't laced with pain.
He pulled out his wallet as he sat down on a bench. Opening it, he studied the picture of Maggie that looked up at him with those warm, dark eyes. A Logan candid, his specialty. He couldn't help smiling. She was laughing, and her brown curls had bounced down into her eyes. He felt an urge to brush them away and he let his fingers stray across the front of the picture. He had never before seen himself in her face. Her dark eyes, he thought, came from Ricky. The curls, well, Alex's mom and two of her brothers had curly hair, and two of her siblings were dark-haired, as was Ricky. Her sometimes quirky little mannerisms, he always assumed, came from spending so much time with him. It wasn't unreasonable to assume she had picked up some of his mannerisms. He'd never once thought them genetic. Why would he? Now, looking back over her life...the cues were there, had he chosen to see them. As much as he wanted Maggie to be his child, one very real thing had always kept him from ever hoping it could be true, no matter what his mother said. He had never slept with Eames. Even now, he couldn't get past that one minor detail. How on earth could she possibly be his daughter, when she had been two the first time he'd ever slept with her mother?
And now...pregnant again...this time, he had no doubt, with his child. He had always loved her, since the early days of their partnership, always felt there was time for...well, for them. Then she'd married Ricky and the bottom fell out of his world, until Maggie was born. Although he had always avoided putting them in a situation he would regret, he knew that all she had to do was push it. And she did—twice. He hadn't been wrong. His moral resolve had crumbled, as he knew it would in the face of pressure from her.
The first time came after an emotionally devastating week. He had no capacity, and no desire, to turn her away that night. The chain of events that followed finally allowed her to leave Waters. The severe beating he had taken at the hands of Waters and three of his friends had been worth it, in his mind, because it was what Eames needed to leave him. That felony assault had earned Ricky a cell in Rikers, where he would never be able to hurt Maggie. With the threat to the little girl gone, Eames could finally step away from the nightmare marriage—and into his arms.
Even after she left Ricky, though, he still could not get past the fact that, until her divorce was final, she was still married. Logan continually gave him a hard time about it, encouraging him to go ahead and sleep with her. But he couldn't, until the night she'd had enough and pressed the matter...the night this baby she now carried within her was conceived. His baby. He still could not wrap his mind around that concept. He had long ago resigned himself to the fact that he would never be a father, and now, in just a few months, he would be a father.
But Maggie..his mind kept returning to the question of who her father could be. It wasn't that it mattered to him because, regardless of who had conceived her, he loved her as though she were his own, and he always had. Her paternity had absolutely no bearing to his heart. Only one thing concerned him. Whoever her father was, if he wanted a place in her life, that was fine, but suppose he wanted to take her out of his life? There again was his greatest fear—losing Maggie. If he had to, he was willing to give up everything else in his life, even the woman he adored, in order not to lose Maggie. He racked his brain, but he couldn't think of any potential candidates, if it wasn't Waters. To the best of his knowledge, he and Logan were the only men she hung around with. He hadn't slept with her...and Logan...wait, Logan? No...no, Logan wouldn't. And looking at Maggie's features, no, he couldn't see any of Logan's features in her. But he did see himself, and that puzzled the hell out of him. How could he possibly have conceived a child and had no memory of the act? And that was one act he'd have thought he'd remember. He dreamed about it enough.
He got up, slid his wallet into his pocket and continued walking, searching in vain for a memory that just was not there. When his head started swimming again, he sat back down, and that was where she found him. She sat down, but she left him alone, waiting for him to say something. Finally, he voiced his biggest question. "She's mine?"
"Of course she's yours."
She looked confused. "Your birthday…that was the only time…"
His birthday? Three years ago...he remembered playing pool, and then they went to Logan's because his place was in walking distance. He remembered that she was very playful that night, in a really good mood, and that had made his night. He had almost been able to forget his pain...almost. He did remember how drunk he'd gotten...let's play for shots... Sometimes he wondered about Logan. Eames had him so distracted he couldn't sink a ball to save his life, which Logan loved. But all he remembered after leaving Delaney's was part of the walk to Logan's. He'd been confused about why he'd woken in the bed...oh... That was why...son of a gun...Logan had to have known. He was seriously going to kick his ass when he recovered from this. Slowly he shook his head. "I don't remember."
She raised her eyebrows. She did remember, very clearly, what had happened, and how much she had longed for him after that night. Not long after that night, she'd made up her mind to leave Ricky...until she discovered she was pregnant, presumably with Ricky's child. After all, what were the odds that the baby was Bobby's after just one encounter? "What do you mean you don't remember? You weren't that drunk."
Oh, yes, I was. He looked at her, suddenly irritated, and snapped, "I mean I don't remember." He sighed, turning away. It wasn't entirely her fault. After all, it took two to make a baby, and if he lacked the discipline to control himself and say no when he had to—which he obviously did—shit... "Did you know?"
"Not for sure."
She really had believed Maggie was Ricky's, but from the earliest moments of her life, there were times when it had been so easy for her to imagine that she was Bobby's. But those had just been imaginings. She had never honestly considered that her little girl was not her husband's daughter.
His voice carried an odd tone. "But you suspected?"
Not so much suspected as wanted, but she had to be honest with him. "Since the day she was born."
"And you never said anything."
An accusation. "What would you want me to say? Would it have changed anything? Would you love her any more?"
He shook his head. But that wasn't the point his brain got stuck on. Eames had stayed with Ricky to protect Maggie, so she had to have honestly believed Maggie was his child. If there had been a chance that she wasn't, a simple test would have freed her from that fear and enabled her to leave him. One night, one encounter, one time...compared with, well, her husband...her assumption had been entirely reasonable. Even if he'd remembered, he would have agreed with her. He turned his mind away from those thoughts; they weren't going to get him anywhere. His restless mind shifted. "You're pregnant again?"
"And you're sure it's mine?"
"Who else's would it be, Goren? Don't be stupid."
Stupid...fathering two children with another man's wife...oh, it didn't get more stupid than that. "No. I've already been stupid." He buried his head in his hands. "How did we let this happen?"
Her hand touched his arm, but he pulled away. "No." Touching led to trouble.
"Is this really such a bad thing?"
He felt something snap inside and all reason and sensibility vanished on the breeze. He looked at her, angry and hurt. "How can you ask that? You were married, Eames. It's one thing to cheat on your husband, but now the world knows about it. Damn…"
He got up and walked off, relieved that she let him go. If she had come after him, as keyed up as he was, anger could very easily have turned the corner, away from the negative, and yielded to passion...but he wasn't ready for that just yet. Right now, he had to work through this anger to avoid resentment. He'd been down that path before, and he hated it.
Why was he angry? Did he feel deceived? No, that wasn't it. He was angry because he cared what people thought of her more than she did. He knew of which he spoke, and the thought of anyone looking at her with anything less than respect made him see red. Unable to settle down, he pulled out his phone and called Logan. He answered on the second ring. "You okay, man?"
"I'm not sure."
"We're at Kelsey's Bar. Come on over."
"I'm having a hard time calming down."
Logan hesitated. He didn't quite understand that, but he never fully understood Goren. He just accepted him. "Come on over, Bobby. I can always knock you upside the head, if all else fails." When Goren softly laughed, he relaxed. He was going to be okay. "Come on."
"I'll be there in a little while."
He felt better after talking to Logan and Barek, but he wouldn't feel right until he talked to Eames. He half-expected to feel his tension increase when she got there, but when she slid into the booth beside him, he looked at her and felt his unease melt away. His anger was long gone; he was calm now.
Tentatively, she reached toward him and when her hand came to rest on his arm, he did not pull away. I was angry at the position I let myself put you in. Her voice was soft. "You did not put me into any kind of situation I didn't want to be in."
He didn't agree, but he was not going to argue the point. That would be futile. Instead, he nodded toward her stomach. "How far along are you?"
"Almost eight weeks."
"When did you find out?"
"Early last week."
"That was a hell of a way to tell me," he complained.
"I didn't mean for it to happen that way. I wasn't sure how to tell you, and I was so angry when I filed my response to the last pre-hearing motion he fabricated the other day, I forgot I had put that in it, until the judge read it. I'm really sorry about that."
"When did you plan to tell me?"
"Sometime this weekend."
"Were you going to get him drunk first?" Logan asked.
"I'd thought about it." She looked at Goren. "I also thought about letting Maggie tell you."
He was silent for a moment. She was afraid to tell him she was pregnant with his baby. Well, considering how he had reacted...he laughed. Pulling her into a hug, he gently kissed her and teased, "Coward."
He unlocked the apartment door and pushed it open, letting her proceed into the apartment ahead of him. Closing the door, he engaged the deadbolt. Dinner together, with Logan and Barek, had been the most relaxed time he could remember having with her in a long time. He still felt a certain tension, but it was very different now than it had ever been.
After two beers, his mind got stuck on a single thought. She was now free. Her marriage was dissolved. And her freedom gave him a collateral freedom--the freedom to love her without guilt. While the hearing had raised some issues with him, they were now cleared up and he could look at her with new eyes. Now, he could look at her without longing and without pain. Now he could simply love her.
He stepped up behind her and slid his hands onto her abdomen. "There's really someone in there?"
She nodded. "Someone as completely yours as Maggie is."
She knew that got him thinking. The gentle caressing of his hands stopped and his cheek rested against her head. She leaned back into him, taking great comfort from the contact. His arms tightened around her and he leaned down to kiss her neck, lightly nibbling the gentle curve where her neck and shoulder met. She tipped her head to the right to give him easier access and he took full advantage of the invitation.
Someone as completely his as Maggie was... His thoughts began roaming until she leaned into him, then they returned to her. And for the second time that day she sent his head spinning, but this time it served to fuel his passion, not to distress him. She was free and now, so was he.