So, here it is… the final chapter! Sorry it's taken a while to update, it took a while until I was really happy with it. I've really enjoyed writing this story, but it's been made even more enjoyable by the lovely comments and support I've had from everyone – so thank you! I hope you enjoy the final instalment. Action picks up where we left off, so you might want to recap :-]
Disclaimer: I don't own Lie to Me or any of the characters
A number of things seemed to happen all at once; later, Gillian wasn't sure if they had all happened at the same time or just in quick succession, her memory had become a hazy blur of activity and she couldn't entirely trust the chronology of her recollections. She remembered the door to the basement crashing down and Reynolds bursting through. She remembered the sound of voices outside signalling the arrival of the FBI. And she remembered seeing Robert stagger backwards, clutching his stomach as blood continued to pour from his wound, making a sticky puddle on the floor. Cal remained standing as Robert collapsed onto the cold tiles, and Gillian was suddenly aware of a lot of movement; Reynolds grabbing the gun and pointing it at Robert, FBI agents hurtling into the room, shouting for medical assistance, and her throwing her arms around Cal as she sobbed, shaking, onto his shoulder.
Cal wrapped an arm around her soothingly, but his other hand still held the blood stained knife. "I'll take that." Reynolds held his hand out, and Cal wordlessly placed the knife in his hands. "You okay?"
Cal nodded, his mouth dry, and wrapped his other arm around Gillian, who continued to shake violently.
"Dr Lightman? I'm Agent Taylor."
Cal disentangled himself from Gillian as the young man introduced himself. "We're going to need you and Dr Foster to come and answer a few questions for us. It's just routine, don't worry. It's clear that this was self defence."
"Is he going to be okay?" Cal managed to find his voice at last. Robert had been loaded onto a stretcher and whisked outside, leaving a trail of blood that sickened Cal to his stomach.
"He suffered a serious abdominal wound, but the paramedics were able to attend to him almost straight away, so he should pull through." Cal nodded. "Now, if you could come with me, Dr Lightman – Dr Foster, Agent Johnson is going to talk to you, okay?"
Cal could tell from the look on Gillian's face that she didn't want to be parted from him, but he squeezed her hand gently. "It's okay, love. Let's just get this all sorted and then…" He didn't finish his sentence; then they could what? Talk about how he'd opened up his heart to her and she'd rejected him? Discuss the finer points of dissolving their partnership?
Gillian nodded, wiping her eyes furiously, and watched as Cal followed Agent Taylor out of the house. "We'll get you checked out by our medics as well," Agent Taylor was saying, and Gillian could hear Cal protesting that that wasn't necessary, before their voices faded altogether.
"Gillian?" She turned to see Ben standing next to her with another man, Agent Johnson presumably. "You alright?"
She nodded. Physically, I'm fine, she thought, trying to steady her breathing.
"This is Agent Johnson, he's just going to take your statement and ask you a few questions, okay?"
Gillian nodded. "What…" She gestured to the blood on the floor, unable even to form her sentence properly, but Reynolds understood.
"We'll have all this cleaned up before you know it," he promised, and Gillian nodded again. Then another thought hit her.
"She's still at the office," he confirmed.
"Has she been told?"
"Not as far as I know, no."
"I want to tell her," Gillian said firmly.
"Gillian… are you sure that's…"
"She'll take it better from me than a stranger in uniform," she said, resolute. "I have to do this, Ben. Please."
He hesitated. "She'll want to get to the hospital… well, maybe she won't when she finds out her husband's a serial killer, I don't know…"
"Ben," she pleaded. "You've seen her, you know what she's like. This has to be handled delicately."
He surveyed her for a moment. Although clearly still shaken by what had just happened, Gillian Foster still appeared strong and in control. She was smart, she knew what she was talking about, and Reynolds was inclined to agree that she was probably the best person to handle the difficult situation of Amber Floyd. He nodded. "Okay. Fine. I'll keep her there until you're through with Agent Johnson."
Gillian nodded gratefully. Her hands were still trembling, and she wished that Cal hadn't been snatched away from her so quickly. Even though she'd seen him, and knew he was fine, being separated from him so soon after thinking she was about to lose him forever was beyond painful. She needed to be in his arms now, needed to feel the warmth of his body, needed to feel his heart beat against her chest and know, really know, that he was alright.
"Dr Foster?" Agent Johnson prompted.
"Yes. Sorry. Let's go." She followed him out the room, careful to avoid the blood on the floor. She was desperate to get this over with as soon as possible, and tried to rehearse what she was going to say to Amber. And when that's done, she thought, I can talk to Cal. Which conversation, she wondered, will be the most difficult?
Three hours later, Gillian still hadn't seen Cal again. Three hours of talking to Agent Johnson, explaining everything in detail, signing her statement, and trying to find the words to explain to Amber Floyd that her husband was a serial killer.
Just as the vivid image of seeing Cal with a knife pressed against his throat would forever be etched in her memory, Gillian knew she would never forget the look on Amber's face when the protective walls of delusion and denial eventually broke down, and she understood what Gillian was telling her.
Gillian had explained everything as best she could – that Robert was responsible for Adam's death, and a number of others, that he had tried to hurt Dr Lightman, but hadn't suceeded, and that he himself had been injured and was now in the hospital.
"Why did he do it?" she'd asked, her voice sounding so fragile it made Gillian wince.
"You'll have to talk to him about that."
"Is he going to be okay?"
Gillian had no answer to that. He would, most likely, recover from the knife wound, but surely Amber knew that after being convicted for multiple murders, Robert would not be 'okay', and nor was their marriage likely to be. Even if Amber stood by him – and Gillian found herself utterly unsure of whether her intentions were to do just that or the opposite – her life was about to shift dramatically with Robert's imprisonment. "Go and see him," Gillian said softly, resting her hand on Amber's arm. "Agent Reynolds will take you to the hospital." And he had, asking Gillian once more before he left if she was okay.
Gillian had assured him that she was, and watched as he escorted a shaking Amber from the room. She sat for a few minutes, before taking a deep breath and standing up. She needed to find Cal. As far as she knew, he hadn't returned to the office; he was probably still giving his statement to the FBI, he had more to tell them than she had.
Leaving the room, Gillian walked along the corridor, picking up speed as she went. As she approached the elevators, she suddenly heard a voice call her name. Just not the voice I want to hear right now.
"Gill, are you okay? I heard what happened, I'm so sorry for getting you involved in all of this."
"It's okay, Eric." She smiled at him, trying to reassure him, but her heart wasn't in it, even he could probably see that. "Cal's okay, and Robert's under armed guard at the hospital. And we know the truth about who killed Adam, not to mention all the other murders that can come out of the 'unsolved' filing cabinet."
"I'm so grateful, Gill. Rachel will be released in a matter of hours."
"That's good." He looked like he wanted to say something else, but Gillian really didn't have the time. "I'm sorry, Eric, but I have to…"
He nodded, a little sadly. "You have to go see him."
"Go." He squeezed her shoulder briefly, and reached out to press the elevator button for her. "Do what you have to do, Gill. And thanks again."
"Bye, Eric," she said as the elevator doors slid open and she stepped inside. He was still standing there watching her as the doors closed, raising his hand in a gentle wave a second before she lost sight of him.
At last Gillian was free of the building; having been cooped up inside all day, she was beginning to feel very claustrophobic and a little dizzy. Walking gingerly down the steps, she took in big gulps of air, feeling the cool autumn breeze on her skin. Earlier, she'd thought she might never breathe in fresh air again; what most of the time was a necessity she didn't really pay attention to now felt like heaven. I'm alive, she thought, closing her eyes briefly. And so is he. Of course, if Cal had died today and she'd survived, she still wouldn't have been able to breathe in fresh air like this. Her lungs would take in oxygen to allow her body to keep living, but what did that matter? She wouldn't feel alive without him, wouldn't feel much of anything. She'd be a hollow shell of a person, and probably wouldn't much care if she had fresh air or not.
But that didn't happen. He's fine. Now you just have to find him.
She paused, not even sure where to go – should she stay at the Lightman Group and wait for him to arrive? Go back to his house – would she even be allowed in there yet? She could try calling him, but somehow that didn't seem right. She didn't even know what she would say over the phone; she had to see him in person, had to hold him tight and make sure he knew she wasn't going anywhere.
Stepping forwards onto the sidewalk, Gillian paused slightly as she considered her options. Then, suddenly, there he was, about thirty feet away, a little down the street. Walking towards her. He saw her at the same moment she saw him, and he stopped. "Foster," he said at last, and then she was running towards him, her hair flying out behind her as she closed the distance between them.
Throwing her arms around him, Gillian pulled him closer to her until she could feel his heart beating in rhythm with her own. "I love you," she told him breathlessly.
Cal pulled back from her slightly, despite Gillian's attempts to hold onto him. "You don't have to say that, love. Just because…"
"No. I mean it." The tears were flowing freely now, but Gillian didn't care, and made no attempt to wipe them away. "I love you, Cal Lightman. You infuriate me sometimes. You're always grumpy on Monday mornings… in fact, pretty much every morning. You rush into things without thinking. You're interfering, and defensive, and sometimes I think you've never even heard of the word subtlety…" She reached up and gently ran her hand down his face as her voice dropped to a whisper. "And you're my business partner, and you're my best friend, and you're the only person in this world that I know I couldn't live without. And I love you."
Before she could give him time to respond to her declaration, Gillian pulled his face to hers and kissed him. Up until that moment, Cal thought the biggest shock of the day had been having an intruder with a knife invade his home and threaten his life. Now he knew that the biggest shock – certainly the most pleasant shock – was this: the force and passion with which Gillian now kissed him.
Is this real? he wondered, as Gillian's tongue continued to duel with his. The feel of her, the taste of her, was making him feel weak at the knees. And I always thought that was just a lame description used in her bloody romance novels, he thought with amusement as he wrapped his arms around her, this new level of intimacy between them making his heart race.
Eventually they broke apart, both rather breathless; Gillian's face, he noticed, was also a little flushed. She'd never looked more beautiful.
"So you're not going to dissolve our partnership, then?" he asked her lightly.
Gillian closed her eyes briefly, pressing her forehead against Cal's. She opened her eyes to meet his gaze, gently stroking his face as she spoke. "No… I'm sorry I said that. I was just confused, and shocked, and… scared," she admitted.
"Scared of what, love? Of the enormity of 'us'? That it wouldn't live up to expectations?"
"Of losing you," she whispered, and Cal felt his heart ache at the look of sadness and fear on her face. "You're my best friend, Cal. I'm closer to you than anybody else in the world, and if I lost you… if we tried to change things between us and it didn't work out…"
Cal nodded, stroking her cheek with his thumb. "I understand that, love. But you know you are never going to lose me. Never."
He spoke with such conviction, Gillian was sure that if she hadn't already been hopelessly in love with him, she would have fallen in love with him at that moment. She smiled at him through her tears. "When I found out Robert was coming after you… when I thought you might be…" She gulped. "I realised it was stupid to walk away from our feelings instead of taking a chance. I want you in my life, Cal. I love you and I need you and if you'd died today…"
"But I didn't," he said, pulling her closer to him in a crushing hug. "I'm not going anywhere. I promise."
She returned the hug, revelling in the closeness, never wanting it to end. A thought suddenly struck her, and she pulled away just enough to meet his eyes, her arms still locked around his neck. "I feel like the heroine in one of my novels," she said with a nervous giggle, and Cal laughed.
"Isn't it usually the damsels that are in distress in those books, and the dashing hero comes along and saves the day? Sort of the other way around for us."
Gillian laughed. "I'll rescue you any day, my darling damsel."
"Lovely. Just what my reputation needs."
"This isn't a romance novel, though," she said, her tone growing serious.
"No," Cal agreed. "It's not. Doesn't mean we can't indulge in a little romance novel-esque behaviour from time to time though, does it?" Before Gillian could respond, he lifted her up in his arms and kissed her with more passion than she'd ever thought it was possible to feel. Why did we wait so long to make this happen? was the thought flashing through both their minds.
Encircling her arms tighter around his neck, Gillian relaxed in his arms, feeling both more aroused and more content than she ever had. Eventually breaking away from the kiss, her face broke into a smile. "Consider me well and truly swept off my feet, Cal Lightman."
"Marvellous. Can I put you down now, though? I'm not as young as I used to be, and with all those doughnuts and pastries and whatnot you're always scoffing…"
"Oi!" She swiped at his arm as he put her down, but kept her arms wrapped around his neck as she smiled at him. "I guess you're not going to carry me off into the sunset then?"
"Not technically, no. We could stroll into the sunset?"
She laughed softly. "Sounds perfect."
He kissed her again; the euphoria of being able to kiss her like this was overwhelming, and powerfully addictive. After years of loving her from afar, she was finally his.
"What's with the soppy grin?" she teased him.
"I'm happy, love," he told her honestly. "I mean, I could have done without the drama of almost being killed this afternoon, but if it brought us together, I'd go through it all again." He caressed her cheek gently with his thumb. "Do you have any idea how much I love you?" he asked her softly.
"No," she whispered. "But you have a lifetime to show me."
Cal smiled and turned around, his arm around her shoulders. They started walking slowly along the street, away from the Lightman Group. Where they were going, he didn't know. Didn't really care, either. She's with me. That's all that matters.
"If this was a book, this would be the end," she said suddenly, and he looked at her questioningly. "I used to imagine us in lots of scenarios when I read romance novels," she admitted, eliciting another of those Cal Lightman grins that she so adored. "I used to think you could be my happy ending. But happy endings are just for stories, Cal. You said so yourself. Life doesn't have endings. So, what are we…"
Cal stopped walking and placed both hands on Gillian's face, his eyes boring into hers. There was nothing hidden on either of their faces; no need for masks now. With Cal looking at her so intently, Gillian felt he was seeing right into her very soul, as she was into his. Gently he leaned forward and brought his lips to hers for a slow, sweet kiss. Breaking away, he smiled at her, the love in his eyes melting her heart.
"We're an unfinished story, love. In fact, I'd say this is only the beginning for us."
Gillian smiled as she looped her arm through his, continuing their walk down the street. "An unfinished story," she echoed with a smile. "That's what we are."