The Good Wife: Family Values
A/N: Huge thanks to Josie for being my sounding board on this, and to my A/P family out there for being my cheerleaders. Ladies, you know who you are ;)
"Hello?" Alicia's voice answered after the third ring and Zach let out a sigh of relief.
"Mom, hey. Where are you?" Zach asked curiously as he looked to his watch again, taking note of the late hour.
"I'm… I was…I'm just having a drink with some people from work" She finally said, almost as if she was unsure of her answer. "I thought you were going to be home late?"
"Yeah, I was but…" Zach stopped himself for a moment and looked over at Grace's closed bedroom door, taking a deep breath as he inwardly told himself he was doing the right thing.
"Zach?" Alicia interrupted his thoughts. "Is something wrong?"
"Mom, something happened…" he finally said, a little uneasily.
"What is it? Zach is everyone okay? Are you and Grace okay?" Alicia asked, a hint of panic clearly evident in her tone now.
"Yeah, we're okay, but I need to talk to you. And Dad, actually, but not here. Can you meet me at Dad's house?"
"Of, of course" Alicia stuttered almost nervously. "Are you on your way now?"
"Yeah I'm leaving now" he confirmed as he walked back through to the kitchen and grabbed for his jacket and threw it on.
"Okay, well I'm actually not far from Dad's" she lied.
"Do you want to call Dad and let him know we're coming over? I'm sure he's at home because he wasn't at the campaign office when I left"
"Yeah, sure I'll call him. I guess I'll see you soon. Drive carefully please" she said before hanging up the phone.
Zach grabbed his keys off the counter and shoved his phone into his pocket before heading back over to Grace's room to check on her. Peeking his head inside the room he saw Grace tucked into bed and already asleep, most likely exhausted from all the crying she had been doing. Exiting her room Zach headed back through the kitchen and to the front door, letting himself out of the apartment and locking the door behind him.
Alicia ended the call then brought the phone close to her chest as she clutched it tightly in her hands. The worried look that had washed over her hadn't escaped Peter who had just re-entered the bedroom with two glasses of wine in hand when he found Alicia sitting perched on the edge of the bed.
"Alicia, what is it? What's wrong?" He asked, quickly crossing the room to come stand in front of her.
"I… I don't know" Alicia shook her head gently and her uncertain tone only worried Peter further.
Placing the two wine glasses on the bedside table Peter knelt down in front of her and placed his hands on her knees. "What happened? Who was that on the phone?"
"Zach. He's coming over here. He said he needs to talk to us" she told him wearily.
"Oh…" Peter sighed. "Did he say what it was about?" He asked but she just shook her head negatively.
"Do you think it's about us… Seeing each other?" He asked a moment later but Alicia merely shrugged.
"I have no idea" she answered truthfully. "He said something happened, but that's all he would say"
Peter let out a heavy sigh. If it was about the two of them spending more time together he knew that neither of them had wanted their kids to find out like this. Being caught, so to speak. He looked up to Alicia and could tell by the look in her eyes that her mind was also going a mile a minute about what could have possibly happened.
"Hey" he spoke softly, reaching up to take the phone out of her grasp and place it on the table next to them. "Whatever it is, it's going to be all right, okay?" He assured her as he took both her hands into his and brought one up to his lips to place a kiss on the back of it.
Alicia gave him a small smile. As strong as she prided herself in being, when it came to family she knew Peter was always the rock that could keep them all grounded and whatever challenges lay ahead of them he would be there to face them head-on every step of the way. And for that, she couldn't be more grateful.
"Come on, let's go wait downstairs" Peter suggested, standing up and taking one of Alicia's hands again before pulling her up from the bed and leading her out of the bedroom.
Alicia was pacing the living room, and had been for at least the last twenty minutes while they waited for Zach to arrive and Peter nearly felt dizzy as he had his eyes trained on her the entire time following her movements back and forth in front of him.
"You're going to wear a hole right through the carpet" he mentioned eventually. "Will you just please sit down"
"I'm fine" she mumbled in return and Peter sighed.
"All right, fine" he resigned with a shake of his head before leaning back into the couch cushions and deciding to stare up at the ceiling instead.
Another few minutes went by until finally they heard the sound of a car coming up the driveway , followed by the front door opening only a few moments later.
"Mom, Dad?" Zach's voice called out as he entered the quiet house.
"In here Zach" Peter called in return from the living room.
Zach entered the family room to see Peter seated on the couch and Alicia standing in the middle of the living room simply staring at him.
"Hey guys" Zach greeted them nervously. "Thanks for meeting me here Mom"
"Of course" Alicia shook her head. "What's wrong Honey?"
"Maybe… you should sit down" Zack mentioned meekly towards his mother.
"Zach…" Alicia raised a questioning eyebrow at him; not at all liking wherever this was going.
"Mom, please" Zach tried once more and Alicia looked over to Peter who only motioned with a nod of his head for her to come and join him on the sofa.
Flashing Zach an uneasy smile Alicia decided to cooperate and walked over to the sofa and took a seat next to Peter while Zach pulled the ottoman away from one of the lounging chairs and dragged it over to just a few feet in front of his parents and took a seat.
Hanging his head slightly and clasping his hands together Zach took a breath as he tried to figure out an appropriate way to broach the sensitive subject; realizing in a matter of moments that there was no easy or appropriate way to tell your parents that their only daughter had just been sexually victimized.
"Zach, for God's sake what is it? You've had your mother worried half to death" Peter mentioned with a light sigh. "Whatever it is, you can tell us"
"It's Grace…" Zach began, then watched as both parents instantly stiffened up, but it was Peter who was first to speak.
"What happened to Grace? Where is she? Is she all right?" His voice was tense and thick with worry as he waited with baited breath for Zach's reply.
"She's at home, she's sleeping. But something happened earlier. She didn't want me to tell you guys but… You need to know" he told them, rubbing his hands together nervously.
"Something happened at Shannon's?" Alicia asked confused.
"No…" Zach looked away guiltily. "She didn't go to Shannon's. She lied to you about where she was really going tonight"
"Zach, where did she go?" Peter asked very slowly and calmly, but there was an edge to his tone that told Zach he meant business.
"Connor took her to this party that a guy at school was throwing. It was mostly older kids"
"Was there drinking at this party?" Alicia asked; raising an eyebrow at her son.
"Yeah, I guess so. But Grace wasn't drunk or anything, I don't even know if she had any" Zach explained and Alicia slowly nodded.
"Well, you did the right thing telling us Zach. I can't believe she would lie right to me like that. I'll deal with Grace when I get home, she's going to be grounded and I don't think she should be spending any more time with that Connor boy, he always seems to be getting her into trouble" Alicia mentioned with a shake of her head.
"No, Mom, that's not what I had to tell you" Zach began again and both Peter and Alicia exchanged worried glances.
"What happened at the party?" Peter questioned.
"It's Connor he…" Zach paused to take another breath before continuing. "He took Grace upstairs to a bedroom and Grace said there were just kissing but then Connor, he tried to take it further but Grace said no so he tried to… you know" Zach shrugged; not being able to bring himself to say the words and Alicia looked at him with both shock and worry.
"Zach, did he-"
"No, No" Zach quickly shook his head, knowing his mother was about to ask if Connor had succeeded in taking advantage of her. "I think, I don't know, I think he tried to hurt her, I'm sure I didn't get the full story but I know Grace was able to fight him off before it went too far and she got away and that's when she called me"
"Oh my God" Alicia whispered, bringing her hand to cover over her mouth as her eyes instantly welled up with tears for her one and only baby girl.
"That son of a bitch" Peter practically growled, standing up from the couch and pacing the floor, running a hand through his hair as he felt a sudden rush of anger course through him like he'd never felt before. The room remained silent for a few more moments as both Alicia and Peter tried to take in what they had just heard and again it was Peter who was the first to speak up.
"Zach, put your coat on, we're leaving" Peter ordered seemingly calmly and Zach quickly looked between his mother and his father, unsure what exactly was going on.
"Peter, what are you doing?" Alicia asked; shaking her head as she was still slightly dazed from the shock.
"Zach's going to show me were this little bastard is, because I'm going to kill him" Peter seethed through gritted teeth. "Zach, now!" he demanded once again, louder this time and it caused Zach to scramble to his feet.
"Zach, sit down" his mother ordered and Zach stopped halfway through the living room next to his father and looked back to his mother.
"What the hell are you doing Peter?" Alicia asked, now standing up from the couch herself as the initial shock began to wear off.
"This monster attacked our child, Alicia!" Peter was practically screaming at her from across the room as his anger continued to boil inside him. "What are we supposed to do, just let him get away with it?" He scoffed at her in disbelief.
"Of course not! But what are you going to do, beat up a 17 year old? Why don't I just call up your old prison and make you a reservation" she snapped back at him.
"I'd gladly spend the rest of my life in prison if it meant he never got the chance to even look at her again" He admitted angrily and the conviction in his voice literally sent chills down her spine.
"Great, then you can really be there for our daughter when she needs you most" she countered with a roll of her eyes.
"Fine" he shrugged. "I can keep my hands clean. You don't think I didn't meet all kinds of people on the inside? I'm owed a lot of favours, you know. They can make it look like an accident, just one phone call from me and-"
"Peter!" Alicia gasped in shock.
"That's my daughter" he practically growled at her. "And I would do anything to protect her. To hell with the repercussions"
"Oh, and just to hell with your family too? What happens to us, huh Peter? Do we even factor into this little plan of yours? Did you even think-"
"You're all I think about!" he screamed back, interrupting her mid-sentence. "Everything I do, I put my family first" he stated firmly.
"Great, maybe we can put that on your next campaign slogan when you get out of prison the next time. If you get out" she yelled back, her voice just as loud as his now.
"Look, if you think I'm just going to stand here and-"
"Guys, just stop!" Zach yelled suddenly over both his shouting parents and a silence immediately fell over the room as Alicia and Peter just stared at their son; both instantly feeling guilty for him having to witness their screaming match.
"Look, I get that everyone is upset, but standing here and yelling at each other isn't going to do anybody any good; least of all Grace" Zach stated firmly and Alicia and Peter exchanged remorseful glances.
"You're right Zach, we're sorry" Alicia said calmly, letting out a breath to settle herself. "Where is your sister now?"
"She's at home. She literally cried herself to sleep. She begged me not to tell you guys what happened because she thought she'd be in trouble, but I knew I had to so I left her there and called Uncle Owen and asked him to come over and just stay there in case she wakes up and gets scared" he finished with a small shrug. "I'm sorry, I know I probably shouldn't have left her, but she was asleep and Uncle Owen is only a few minutes away and I knew I had tell you guys" he continued nervously.
"You did the right thing" Peter said quietly. "Come here" he motioned with a nod of his head and pulled Zach against his side and wrapped his arms around him in a hug.
"Sorry I yelled, it's just... this is upsetting news, obviously. I was angry, I reacted to that anger" Peter continued softly as he rested his chin on top of Zach's head and held him for a few more seconds before releasing him.
"It's okay Dad, I understand" Zach mentioned with a small shrug.
"No, it's not okay" Peter shook his head regretfully. "I shouldn't have said those things it's just..." Peter paused and let out a sigh. He wasn't exactly remorseful for what he said, only that he said it out loud and in front of his child no less.
"Your Dad and I were both just shocked and caught off guard" Alicia continued for him after a moment. "We love you kids so much and when your child is threatened, well, you can't help how you react in the heat of the moment. But regardless, we shouldn't be fighting in front of you, and we're sorry"
"Mom, it's okay, I get it" Zach assured her. "And if it's any consolation Dad, I didn't exactly let Connor get away with it either…" he said meekly towards his father.
"Zach" Alicia gasped in surprise. "You… hit Connor?" she asked and he nodded his head.
"And I'd do it again" he quickly defended. "I know you always say violence doesn't solve anything, but he deserved it Mom. He hurt Grace"
Alicia bit her lower lip and slowly nodded at Zach's admission. Peter said nothing; just put his hand on Zach's shoulder and gave a reassuring squeeze, silently telling him he's proud of him without actually speaking the words out loud.
"You're a good big brother Zach" Alicia said gently after a moment of silence had passed. She knew she couldn't fault him for how he reacted, she probably would have reacted the same if she were the one there, and it was no secret how Peter would have reacted had he gotten the chance. She knew deep down he wasn't capable of real violence towards a child but she was also certain being thrown up against a wall and having threats uttered wasn't completely out of the question.
"Well, speaking of which, I should probably get home. I didn't tell Uncle Owen what happened so I think I should be there in case Grace wakes up. You guys probably want to talk anyway so I'll meet you at home" Zach said before nodding a goodnight to both his parents and heading out of the living room and towards the front door.
"Zach" Alicia called out and Zach stopped to look back at his parents.
"I love you" she told him softly.
"Thanks for coming to tell us" Peter added and Zach nodded before turning back away from them.
Peter and Alicia heard the front door open and close and then there was just the two of them standing in the living room, the silence between them hanging thick in the air as neither of them knew where to even begin.
Peter was staring at Alicia with his hands in his pockets but Alicia's gaze was fixed strictly on the carpeted floor at her feet as she rubbed her hands together in an effort to distract herself from the silence.
"Alicia…" Peter let out softly but before he could speak another word Alicia let out a small whimper and as her shoulders started to gently shake Peter realized she had begun crying.
Quickly crossing the room Peter threw his arms around Alicia and pulled her against his chest as her quiet cry turned into full-on sobbing. Hot tears dampened his shirt as he held her in a tight embrace, gently rocking her from side to side in an attempt to offer her more comfort.
"Shhhh, it's okay, it's gonna be okay" he whispered against her hair.
"Our baby" Alicia choked out, clutching Peter's shirt as the tears continued to flow.
"I know Honey, I know" Peter soothed; his voice breaking slightly as he felt the familiar sting in his eyes of his own tears threatening to fall.
"But she's okay" Peter continued a moment later, his voice still slightly betraying him but trying to stay strong for both of them and refusing to let his tears fall. "We raised a smart girl. In fact, we raised two smart kids and it's because of that that we're not having this conversation in a police station or hospital"
"I know" Alicia said through a sniffle. "I just… She must have been so scared Peter" she mentioned before tears began falling once more and she shook her head against him.
"Hey" Peter mentioned softly, pulling back from Alicia slightly and tilting her chin up so he could look her in the eyes. "We're going to get her through this. And first thing in the morning I'm going to file a restraining order for her against Connor. He'll be expelled from school and Grace won't ever have to see him again" he promised, wiping away a tear from her cheek.
Alicia simply nodded her head before Peter pulled her in for one final embrace; holding her closely against his chest and placing a gentle kiss against her temple.
"I need to see her" Alicia eventually mumbled against his shirt and she felt his head nod.
"I know. I'll drive"
Thoughts? Reviews are love :)