Title: Tear These Pages Out And Begin Again

Cal/Gillian, post-Fold Equity, pg-13

Words: 2004

Author's Notes:

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Leave me out with the waste, this is not what I do. It's the wrong kind of place to be cheating on you. It's the wrong time. She's pulling me through. It's a small crime, and I've got no excuse. Is that alright with you?

- Damien Rice, 9 Crimes

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She entertains herself with ideas of one-upmanship, or at least equalizing the playing field.

The problem is that she hasn't met anyone that she'd even consider taking anything to the next level with, and besides that she really isn't one to play games with someone else's heart, no matter how many times it happens to hers.

In the movies that she so loves to watch, when one character pushes the other away with hurtful comments and obvious significant others, the former always finds someone to do the same with. But, Gillian realizes, that's because the writers feel the need to make everything equal. Life isn't equal. She knows Ben would throw himself into whatever he could have with her – she can read it all over his face. She wishes, not for the first time, that she wanted that, too. But she doesn't have anyone else in life for her, let alone to rub in Cal's face the way he'd done to her.

The more she thinks about it, the more she realizes that she doesn't want to anyway. She isn't that person.

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She's been giving him the silent treatment - not because she thinks it's a good idea, more because when she usually talks to him it's either about work, which they're quietly getting on with, or about all the things you talk to your friends about - and she doesn't consider him a friend at this point in time. She wishes she could brush it off, care less, do something else. But she can't because she feels her emotions and she wears her heart on her sleeve no matter how good she is at keeping it out of her eyes.

She knows that he's had enough of it when he barges into her peaceful office in a whirlwind of energy and irritation. He paces up and down in front of her before pivoting on his heel and facing her, almost leaning over her desk.

He's angry; defensive, guilty, ashamed.

"Is this all because I spent the night with Poppy?" He springs it on her, even though she knew it was coming, and she's surprised by just how angry his arrogance makes her feel. She isn't naive; she didn't expect him to be celibate forever. She's watched him return to Zoe time and again; though, as far as she's aware, this is the first woman he's slept with since their growing closeness in the aftermath of her divorce. She does expect him to treat her with respect, however, and she more than deserves that.

In her head she's saying be calm, be calm but when she speaks that isn't how her words come out. Instead, her frustration, hurt and disappointment come pouring out. She pushes her chair back from her desk as she stands to face him.

"This is because you bet a million dollars on a roulette table, Cal! A roulette table! After everything… Everything that has lead us up to this very point… I try and I try and I try to help you stay away from your vices, remind you of how good a man you really are, how you're better than all of that. But I am sick of it, because it never makes a blind bit of difference! You don't listen to me. You probably don't even need me…"

"Yes, I do," he interrupted, his voice strained and full of emotion. He'd never seen her like this before and it frightened him to know that there was another side to Gillian that he knew nothing about. That she had a breaking point, a limit of how much shit he could throw her way before she gave up on him. The thought chilled him to the bone.

"You don't." She was shaking her head looking at him, her eyes cold. "And maybe I don't need you either. Maybe we're better off living our lives separately, away from each other and each other's influences."

"You don't mean that."

"Truth or happiness. Never both. Isn't that what you once told me, Cal?" There was venom in her voice so forceful he stepped back as she practically spat out his name. "Well I've finally acknowledged the truth about you now, and it most certainly does not make me happy."

And then she sagged slightly, as if the anger had left her in her tirade of words and all he could see written all over her face was sadness, and defeat. It was the latter that caused his chest to hurt as he watched her, wondering how the hell he'd pushed things so far that even Gillian couldn't bear to look at him. He was seeing himself through her eyes and he hated what he saw.

Almost as if in agreement with his silent thoughts she shook her head sadly, heading out of the office without even looking at him.

He'd really fucked it up this time.

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He'd spent the last four hours wondering whether he'd lost her for good, when the doorbell rang.

She was standing on his doorstep with the sleeves of her jumper pulled down to her knuckles, shuffling her feet. It was dark outside and he still hadn't got the porch light fixed so her face was almost completely shrouded in shadow. All he could read was that she looked small, and vulnerable, the unbearable aura of sadness still surrounding her.

"May I come in?" Her feet had stilled as she looked him straight in the eye for the first time since her earlier diatribe. He'd almost forgotten how blue her eyes were as he felt the wind knocked out of him momentarily.

Standing back a step and opening the door wider, he murmured, "Of course."

She padded her way inside, toeing off her casual shoes and curling herself into one end of his couch before he'd even fully closed the front door. She looked deep in thought as he joined her, wondering how close he could sit and whether he had the right to sit at all. He settled for not too close, but not right at the other end, either.

"I'm sorry," he said, and she could see that he meant it.

She sighed. "So am I."

"You have nothing to be sorry for."

"Yes, I do," she replied, her uncharacteristically cruel words spinning around in her head.

They were quiet again, both thinking about how they could fix their broken friendship.

Cal was the first to break the silence. "I've disappointed you. Disgusted you, even."

"Vegas makes you a person that I don't even recognize," she whispered, her sad eyes looking up to meet his.

"I don't care much for him, either."

"Something we agree on." She smiled, but it didn't reach her eyes.

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Normal people would have a lot more to say. We, Gillian thought humourlessly, have already said everything. She'd told him to be careful. He'd told her to back off. She'd told him she was concerned. He'd told her she had no reason to be. She'd told him that she loved him. He'd told her that it terrified him. She'd reassured him that he was good enough. He'd argued that he wasn't. Each and every one of these conversations had transpired without words, through eyes alone.

The knowledge that Cal had made the decision to push her away, to see the love in her eyes and retaliate by sleeping with Poppy just to hurt her, to make her distance herself, made her want to shut the hatch, lock up her heart and walk away from him. But she'd done the opposite. She'd walked towards him, yet again, to his house, with her heart on her sleeve and the key to it in her hand. She knew he wasn't ready to take it, wasn't sure she was ready to give it; but she was ready to uncurl her fingers and show it.

Cal sat, at the opposite end of the sofa, watching all of this play out on her face. All he could do was wait.

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"Your personal decisions are none of my business," her words startled him out of his reverie. She'd been quiet for so long that he wondered whether the future of their friendship would be this. Sitting at opposite ends of a couch, not talking. "But your business ones are," she continued. "You can't pull stunts like that roulette table, Cal, you just can't. You know, you buy Zoe out without talking to me first; forcing us to take awful cases lest we lose the company, and then you complain to me about it. You have a million dollars – a million dollars, Cal – and you blow it in a casino instead of putting it back into the company. It's irresponsible, it's idiotic and it's frustrating. This is my company, too, and I want, no I need, to make sure that we still have one." She shook her head. "You have to help me out, Cal. I can't be the only grown up running this business, it's exhausting."

He looked at her, really studied her for the first time in days. He'd been so wrapped up in himself and in pushing her away that once he'd seen the hurt and confusion on her face in Vegas, he'd stopped looking. On some level he'd achieved what he'd set out to do – to push her away – and in the process had overlooked that, regardless of whatever had been growing between them, she was still his best friend.

Watching her now, he realized what a bastard he'd been. She did look exhausted, her forehead creased, dark circles underneath her eyes, and her mouth in a thin line. Gillian smiled a lot – he loved that about her. She hadn't smiled in days.

"I know these words will sound hollow," he began, choosing his words carefully. "But I am sorry. For the first time, I saw that side of myself through your eyes, and I hated it. I was horrible to you, but the worst part is that I was doing it on purpose, you were right. That's some pretty fucked up psychology, isn't it, Foster? I bet you could come up with any number of reasons for it, going all the way back into my childhood; but honestly, there is no excuse."

He was wringing his hands together, his brows knitted together in concentration as he looked up at her. "I hope we can both believe me when I promise to never do anything like it again."

She looked at him sadly. "Time will tell."

Cal looked away, a myriad of emotions flying across his face. "Tell me I haven't lost you this time." The words came out strained, a healthy dose of shame and fear attached to them.

Gillian sighed. "You were trying to push me away, Cal. You succeeded."

She heard his breath hitch. "For good?"

She was quiet for long moments, her eyes scanning the all too familiar room. Finally they fell onto a photograph of the two of them, taken many more years earlier than he cared to think about. He saw the twitch of a smile at the corner of her mouth, the sadness lingering in her eyes, but the hope mixed in there, too.

"No. Not for good."

He let out the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding as he felt his world return to kilter.

Fin

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No I haven't heard your voice in two weeks now, and anticipation's been wearing thin. And I can't help but wonderin', baby, if somehow we could tear these pages out and begin again.

- Matt Wertz, Lonely Tonight

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