Disclaimer: I do not own Lie to Me, or any of the characters. Unfortunately.
This is my first fic, so please review! Not sure exactly where it's going, but hopefully chapter two will emerge soon!
Cal rapped on the door and entered at the same time, giving Gillian a mere half a second to try and compose herself. She straightened her shoulders as she turned to face him, smiling in greeting, even though moments before she had been on the verge of tears after getting off the phone with her lawyer. There was nothing like hearing the word 'divorce' thrown about with such reckless abandon as her lawyer did to make it hit home to Gillian exactly how her life was falling apart.
"You okay love?"
"Fine." She didn't sound it, but he knew better than to call her on the flicker of sadness he saw beneath her smile. He waited, knowing she would elaborate if she wanted to. After a moment, she continued. "It's just…" she averted her eyes briefly, then looked back at Cal. "I never thought I'd be getting divorced. You just don't think of it, when you're a kid, planning your dream wedding, a teenager, excitedly thinking about the future… divorce was always just something other people did. It wasn't supposed to happen to me. I feel like… I've failed."
"Hey." He put both hands on her shoulders, willing her to look at him. "Listen to me." Her eyes met his – to her credit he noticed she was doing a good job of keeping back the tears he saw pooling in her eyes from spilling onto her cheeks. "You have not failed. You hear me? This is not your fault. You might be a lot of things Gillian Foster – a soppy romantic, a hopeless optimist, an annoyingly-cheery-on-a-Monday-morning type person, but you are not a failure. Okay?"
She smiled faintly, but it seemed genuine enough. "Okay."
"Good. Now, enough of this depressing nonsense. Go and get yourself a slushie and read one of your trashy romance novels." He released her shoulders and took a step back.
"Actually, I'm not reading those so much anymore." She gestured to the book on her desk.
Cal leaned over and picked it up. "The Bell Jar? Seriously?"
"It's good," she replied defensively.
"Hey," Cal threw his hands up, "I'm not saying it's not, but… bit depressing isn't it?"
"And reading stories about other people's happily-ever-afters knowing my own didn't work out that way isn't depressing?"
Cal didn't have a reply to that, but merely nodded his head slightly to show he understood, and turned and walked out of her office. It was a testament to their friendship that conversations could sometimes end this way, without a traditional "I must go now" or "see you later" that other people seemed to employ. Maybe it was because they'd known each other so long, or because they knew each other and could read each other so well, but the formalities of conversation often fell to the wayside between Cal and Gillian – both could sense the conversation was over, and neither had to acknowledge it.
"Fancy some lunch?" Cal asked, plonking a box of Chinese take out on Gillian's desk. It was the following day, and things were fairly slow at the Lightman Group, although Gillian had been tied up on the phone most of the morning, and had barely seen Cal.
"Sure. Thanks." She smiled, and reached to open the first box, smiling slightly to herself when she realised that Cal had chosen all her favourites.
"How's the book?" he asked, after a few moments of companionable silence while both ate their food.
"Fine," she replied, knowing full well he was merely using the book as a chance to restart their conversation where they'd left off yesterday, if she chose to. He was giving her the chance to talk about it more if she wanted to, without feeling she was bringing it up suddenly or for no reason, but if she decided to sidestep it and lapse back into silence or steer the topic in another direction, she could, and he wouldn't mention it again. "Depressing, as you said." She smiled. There was a pause. Cal merely nodded, and took another spoonful of egg fried rice. "I suppose I was naïve," Gillian said at last, running the soft material of her skirt through her fingers – a self comforting gesture.
"In what way?" Cal looked at her with interest, but her eyes were still focused on her lap.
"For believing I'd get a happy ending."
"I don't believe in happy endings." Cal shrugged. "You know why?"
"Because you're a cynic?"
"Because," he said, ignoring her quip, "it's stupid to talking about endings in life. The end of your life is your death – so how can you have an ending before the end? What happens during the rest of your life after your 'happy ending'? All there is is time for it to unravel. So, no. I don't believe in 'happy endings'. He leant forward and snatched another prawn cracker from the pile, crunching on it loudly as he studied Gillian's response.
"So what do you believe in?" She was curious – as well as she knew Cal, he always seemed able to surprise her.
"I believe in happiness. I believe in love. And I believe in sorrow, and heartache, and tragedy. I believe in ups and downs – some people are luckier in their lives than others, sure, but everyone has good times and bad times, things going wrong, things going right. My marriage failed – " he caught himself as he realised this was the word he had discouraged Gillian from using yesterday. "My marriage didn't work out," he re-phrased, "but that didn't mean my whole life fell apart. It might have felt like it for a while, but I realised I still had good things in my life. Emily. The company. You."
Gillian felt a slight shiver run down her spine at his last word, but hoped it didn't show. But then, was there ever anything that happened that Cal didn't see?
"I still have good things in my life. I know that. But that doesn't help with the loneliness, does it?"
"No," Cal agreed, never taking his eyes off her face. "But it gets better. You get used to it… and then you stop noticing it all together."
"You might. I'm not sure I will." She folded her hands in her lap. "I've never been very good at being on my own. Out of practice, I suppose." She attempted a smile, but it didn't quite reach her eyes.
"You never know 'til you try love. You might enjoy life as a single woman."
"Single." She repeated the word out loud, testing it out. "I don't really like the sound of that."
"Ah well, if you don't want to stay single, you can start dating again."
"Right." She laughed. "It's that easy, huh? I just decide to start dating and, wham! George Clooney walks through that door and asks me out to dinner."
"I'm not going to lie to you love," Cal said, "the chances of George Clooney walking through that door and asking you out to dinner are pretty slim. But he's not the only man in the world you fancy, surely?" There was a hint of playfulness in his voice, and Gillian felt herself start to blush.
"I don't want to be single," she said, "but I don't think I'm ready to date yet."
"So, you want to still be married then? To Alec?" There was a hint of accusation in his voice, and Gillian found herself growing angry.
"He was my husband, Cal. He was the one I thought I was going to grow old with. We spent the best part of a decade together, and now it's all over. Forgive me if I can't just move on from that in the space of a few days. As I recall, it took you months to get over Zoe, and you didn't date until… well – have you actually been on a date since your divorce?"
Her eyes, he noticed, were ablaze with that mixture of fury and passion he'd always loved about her. "I might have done," he said. "But we're talking about you, not me." He paused. "I'm sorry, love. You're right. I shouldn't have said what I did. I'm here for you, whatever you need. However you want to get through this… whatever you need. I'm here for you," he said again.
Gillian merely nodded. The phone on her desk rang, and as she leaned across to answer it, Cal stood up. "Oh, hi," he heard he say, somewhat nervously. Quickly but silently he crossed the room, opened the door, and left her to take the call in private.
Five minutes later, Gillian hung up the phone. Talking to Alec about their next meeting with the lawyer had been a little awkward, but they'd agreed to talk to each other throughout the divorce, and not merely communicate through their lawyers, and Gillian was pleased that Alec was keeping his side of the bargain. Spinning around in her chair, she saw a note scribbled on a bright yellow Post-It stuck on the edge of her desk. Whatever you need. Peeling it off the desk, Gillian studied the writing she knew even better than her own, and the words he had spoken to her just moments before. How he'd managed to write this note and leave it on her desk in the two seconds it seemed to have taken him to leave her office after her phone rang, she had no idea. That's Cal for you, she thought, and felt a small smile come to her lips as she re-stuck the Post-It on the top of her computer, where it would always be in plain sight.