Title: And I'd be Enough and You'd be Enough and We'd Grow Old
Cal/Gillian, pre-series, PG
Author's Notes: Hiatus? Rubbish. I want my show back. But, in the meantime… Here, have some pre-series Lie to Me fic! This all came about because I listened to Fast Car by Tracy Chapman. It sort of spiraled out of control from there! I started this last year but it's taken me until now to get it how I want it to be. I'm sure once the show is back this will be proven wrong in terms of their backstory, but for now, until we know more, I'd love if you'd read this as a possibility.
A very big thank you to my wonderful beta, tempertemper77. I couldn't do it without you! I'd also love to thank spacekid77 who joined our little party in an attempt to rid this fic of British-isms. I was so happy to have you both on board; you're welcome anytime!
And I'd be enough and you'd be enough and we'd grow old.
- Rilo Kiley
You got a fast car
I want a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere
- Tracy Chapman, Fast Car
In hindsight, she was able to say that this was a life-defining moment. At the time, in all her teenage wisdom, she thought it, too – but in that believe-it-so-strongly-but-only-for-five-minutes kind of way.
He was standing in the canned vegetables aisle, staring at the rows of baked beans. Scruffy, with stubble on his chin and tears in his jeans. He had beautiful eyes and a face that she just wanted to know.
Almost as if he could feel her eyes on him he turned. Their eyes met as hers widened and before he could get a good look at her she'd disappeared backwards around the corner of the aisle, berating herself for being so obvious.
That was the first time she saw him.
The second time was in the same store. She almost didn't want to see him this time because all that was running through her head was oh, God, he's going to think I'm stalking him. She'd run out of flour, though, and had already mixed all of the wet ingredients for her cake – it would be a waste to throw it all away. Not to mention she wouldn't get cake.
She found herself imagining what it would be like to accidentally bump in to him, have his arms catch her and steady her on her feet, have him smile at her as he muttered an embarrassed apology. Lost in thought, she jumped at the sound of something falling to the floor with a bang as a can rolled across the floor and into her foot. Turning to look she saw an elderly woman on the floor, her basket beside her, tipping out its contents. He was there, next to her, in an instant. Helping her to her feet, collecting her items and smiling at her in such a wonderful way. And then he was walking towards her as she was leaning down to pick up the one that had rolled her way and their hands were meeting and their eyes never left each other's until he'd murmured thanks and she'd murmured you're welcome and he'd turned around and walked away again.
She left the store that day with a bag of flour and a smile on her face.
She hadn't seen him for weeks. The third time she saw him he was smoking. Standing with a group of people she would never want to know. She decided, then and there, that the fantasy in her mind was over and he would just be a memory of some guy with stubble and bright eyes she once saw in a store.
Then it happened. She was walking down the street, her head in a book, and she bumped into someone. She could feel her balance failing her, but as images flashed through her mind of her face making friends with the sidewalk, she felt strong hands keep her steady. Looking up her eyes connected with those bright ones that had haunted her thoughts so much.
"Thank you," she whispered. It was the middle of the day on a busy street with no need for quiet words, but they came out quiet anyway.
"No worries," he whispered back.
As he walked away, she registered his accent and a smile played across her face.
The door slammed behind her and she stood in momentary shock - she'd never stormed out of the house before. Tears were tracing salty tracks down her cheeks as she walked quickly down the path and towards the road.
"Gillian, you're seventeen years old. You are not going to stay out all night!"
The argument played on a loop in her head as she stepped off the sidewalk without thinking. A squeal of tires dragged her out of the fog in her head and she whipped her head round to the left. A disheveled-looking young guy pushed open his driver's side door and ran around it towards her. It wasn't until he came closer that she realized it was him.
He came to a halt in front of her, eyes appraising her appearance and a worried look on his face. "You alright, love?"
A British accent and kind eyes were what registered most in her mind. He scanned her face, taking in the tears and the sad eyes. They both heard the door open behind them, her mother stepping out onto the porch, calling her back in, gently. She could see the confusion on her mother's face, imagined her thinking 'who is that boy?' and she was struck with the most overwhelming urge to escape.
She turned back around. "Take me with you," Gillian suddenly said to him.
He chuckled, looking back and forth between her and her mother. "You don't even know where I'm going."
She smiled for the first time and he felt a fluttering inside his chest. "I don't care."
He grinned at her, and they both ran to the car, the engine roaring over the concerned shouts of her mother.
"I've never done that before," she whispered, her actions finally registering in her mind. She sat, unmoving, staring out of the windshield.
"Never done what?"
"Stormed out of the house. Ignored my mother. Got into a car that nearly ran me over with a complete stranger."
They'd stopped at some traffic lights so he turned to her, sticking out his hand.
She shook his hand, bemused. "Gillian."
He smiled a crooked smile, distracted by the weight of her small hand in his. "There, now we aren't strangers anymore."
The lights turned green and they sped off into the night.
They'd stopped for snacks and ended up at the park; or rather, in the parking lot at the park. There was a chill in the air as the fall evening approached but she'd still wanted to sit on the hood rather than inside the car.
The street lamp was casting a circle of light near them as he dragged his jacket out from the backseat of the car and wrapped it around her shoulders, thinking how nice it was to spend time with someone so natural. He'd watched her in the car, watched as she'd processed her actions and their ramifications. She'd been oblivious to his study and he was struck by how he'd never met anyone like her before in his life.
"Thank you," she murmured, snuggling into his jacket, touched by his actions and contemplating that this so-called bad boy probably wasn't one at all.
He watched her silently as she twiddled a candy bar between her fingers. She had such a look of sadness on her face.
"I'd just baked chocolate chip cookies before I ran out of the house," she said thoughtfully, her words coming out around the straw to the slushie she now held in her hand, "I wish I'd thought to bring them with me."
He burst out laughing, and she watched him, confusion masking her pretty face. "What's so funny?"
"Nothing," he said, but under her glare decided to continue, "it's just that I was thinking to myself how sad you looked. I was wondering how to broach the subject, ask you what your mum did or said to make you so sad and angry. But what you're really sad about is that you left your biscuits behind?"
"No!" she began, trying to defend herself, but upon his knowing look she couldn't help an embarrassed smile from escaping. "Well, yes. But it's not just that!" By this point she was giggling and he was grinning and neither realized that the warm feeling coursing through their veins was the happiness that had been missing from them both all afternoon.
"They were good cookies, warm from the oven," she said, and smiled mischievously, as their laughter died down to little chuckles.
He smiled back at her, a true, honest smile that reached his eyes and she was struck by how handsome he was when he didn't look like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. This is a moment, she thought to herself as they looked each other in the eye, and stored it away in her memory.
He cleared his throat as she looked away shyly.
"So what did she do?" his soft voice carried over to her and she looked back at him to meet his questioning eyes.
She looked down, all of a sudden feeling like a child. "It's silly, really."
"If you're upset then it isn't silly," he returned, as she noticed the kindness in his eyes once more.
She let out a breath as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "It's my Prom, coming up. My mom's always been very protective of me, which I get. I really do. But just sometimes, I wish she'd let the leash go a little, allow me to do what everyone else my age is doing."
"She won't let you go to your dance?"
"No, she will." The errant piece of hair loose from her ponytail fell away again and she snatched at it angrily, pushing it more forcefully behind her ear. Cal had never understood why girls didn't just tie all their hair up again, instead of fighting such a losing battle.
He left his trivial thoughts behind as she carried on speaking. "It's the after party she's having issues with. She wants to pick me up so she knows I'll get home safe, but she needs to know a time and I don't have a time. Who knows what time an after party ends, or when you'll be ready to leave? So I'm just a little frustrated. I feel very restricted by her sometimes, which is an awful thing to say."
"The last time I spoke to my Mum we had a fight," he began quietly. He was staring down at his hands in his lap, fiddling with something non-existent. "She hadn't been well for a long time but I was younger and, as a result, a selfish bastard." He saw her eyes widen out of the corner of his own. "I didn't make the effort to see things from her point of view, only from my own. I was pigheaded and stubborn and I didn't support her when she needed me."
Gillian could feel Cal's resentment towards himself coming off him in waves and suddenly her own troubles seemed so trivial and she looked down, ashamed.
"Hey." His voice once again pulled her from her thoughts. "Don't feel bad for your own problems. They're important in your life at the moment and that's what matters."
She looked at him, amazed. "How did you..?"
He gave her a half shrug and a smile that didn't meet his eyes. "I've learned how to read people. I want to write my doctorate on it some day."
"Read people - like body language and things like that?"
Impressed, he nodded. "Yeah, stuff like that. Body language, facial expressions. We give away so much all the time without even realizing it."
Her interest piqued, she asked, "Have you been reading me today?"
He looked away for a second then back at her. "Yeah, I have. I'm sorry, it's not something you can switch off once it's learned." He paused. "Does it bother you?"
She looked thoughtful for a moment, staring out at a couple of kids playing soccer in the dying light, before turning back to him. She shook her head, her eyes honest. "No."
He hadn't been expecting that answer, and he found himself wondering who this girl was and what fates had conspired to allow them to meet that day. "Most people do." He smiled.
"I'm not most people," she replied, wondering why it didn't bother her and thinking that if it were coming from someone else then it just might.
No, you aren't, he thought to himself.
She spoke, her pensive words pulling him out of his thoughts. "I'm sure that it wasn't your fault. Your mother dying."
It was his turn to be shocked. "I never told you that she died."
She nodded in agreement as she shrugged a shoulder. "Your face did. The sadness in your eyes."
He chuckled but it held no humor. Only guilt and sadness.
"It wasn't your fault," she repeated with certainty, looking back out ahead.
Though she couldn't see him, he nodded a little. Not so much in agreement, but in gratitude. Amongst the swirling thoughts of his mother were now thoughts of this striking girl, with her love of sugar and her kind eyes.
They sat in a comfortable silence as they watched the sun go down.
As darkness descended and she disappeared further into his jacket, there was one thing he wanted to know about her.
"So what about you?" he asked, swishing the beer around in his bottle. "What's your story?"
She smiled, softly. "I don't have a story."
He rolled his eyes. "Everybody has a story."
"I don't." She smiled. "I'm just your average girl. I have good parents, if you ignore my uncharacteristic tantrum this evening, I like school, I've never really been in trouble. I'm pretty boring," she finished, proud of who she was and who she wasn't.
He was silent for a long moment, mulling over her words. Then he smiled at her, a kind, genuine smile that belied the bad boy image, and said "you aren't at all average."
They'd driven back in comfortable silence, the mellow notes of Fast Car by Tracy Chapman playing out from the radio. Before she knew it, they were standing alongside his car outside her house and the evening was over.
They were looking at each other and she was wondering whether she should walk away or shake his hand. And then he kissed her. It held a tender quality - a promise - that they would only come to understand later, of a future life together in whatever form it took.
"I'm really glad you had that argument with your Mum today," he smiled a little shyly as he pulled back. "I'm really glad I met you."
"I'm glad I met you, too. I hope this isn't the last time."
"I have a feeling it won't be. Go get your degree, live your life, take little risks every now and then. It's fun, trust me." He waggled his eyebrows at her a little.
She giggled, before sobering. "You're going to be alright," she told him, and even though he'd never acknowledged that he wasn't, he knew she had.
He walked her up the path to the front door (a true British gentleman, you are, she'd smiled), murmured a take care as his hand held hers for just a moment. And then he was heading back to his car, starting up the engine and driving off before her mother could open the door and question who he was and why he was there.
She knocked on the door, still watching the taillights disappear down the street. And then the door was opening, bathing her in warm light, and her mother's arms were suddenly wrapped around her so fiercely she forgot how to breathe.
People are always saying that change is a good thing. But all they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all… has happened.
You've Got Mail
Washington D.C. was bustling and she still wasn't used to it. That very morning she'd nearly lost her slushie when someone had walked into her – she'd dropped her coat instead. She sometimes wondered whether she was cut out for this life, in this city, with this responsibility. Sometimes she wanted to go back, to be the girl who baked every weekend and got into cars with strange boys. Well, one strange boy. She hadn't thought of that night in years and scrunched up her nose trying to figure out why it was coming back to her now.
Back at work with her coat dutifully hung up on the coat rack and her slushie finished and the cup hidden away, she was ready to assume her title.
"Good morning, Doctor," one of the interns greeted her as she walked down the hallway towards the lobby. Sally, her name was. Gillian liked her; saw a lot of herself in her. She'd never have dreamed that at twenty-five she'd be thinking such old thoughts.
"So it's Doctor now," a voice from behind her said as she stilled instantly, her breath catching in her throat.
"Yes." She nodded, breathing out finally, not turning around.
"You did it." She could hear the pride in his voice and wanted desperately to turn around and see him, but she was rooted to the spot.
Again she nodded as the hairs stood up on the back of her neck. He was closer.
"Gillian," he murmured and it was right by her ear and she turned and he was there, all kind eyes and stubble and suddenly she was seventeen again sitting on the hood of a car in the middle of a dark park with a boy she just wanted to know.
"Cal," she breathed, and then her arms were wrapped around his neck tightly and it only occurred to her later that they didn't really know each other well enough to do this yet. But he didn't seem to care and slowly his arms wrapped around her in return and they stood in the lobby embracing like old friends.
"You had such blue eyes," he said as he pulled back. "I mean, you still do, but I remember them so vividly from that first day we saw each other. It was the only thing I managed to catch about you before you disappeared round the corner in that shop."
She grinned, looking down at her feet. Heels now, not sneakers. "I was afraid you'd think I was stalking you that second time."
"You weren't?" he responded and her eyes shot up to meet his, incredulous that he could think that before she remembered that he was Britishand that was just how they said things.
"Fancy a walk?" he asked, cocking his head to one side and observing her casually. And even though she'd only just got to work and he probably had work to do (come to think of it, what was he doing here?) she found herself accepting as if there were no other option. Which, really, there wasn't.
They'd found a bench and, it being mid-morning, had the area almost all to themselves. She hadn't ducked back into her office for her coat before they'd escaped like errant children and when he wrapped his jacket around her shoulders she was suddenly transported back eight years. She found herself experiencing all the thoughts and feelings she believed she'd grown out of and she watched Cal out of the corner of her eye, wondering who this man was and why life kept throwing them together.
Perhaps this was their time.
Something wasn't right, though. His shoulders were tense and his face was far from relaxed.
She drew his jacket further around her shoulders as she munched thoughtfully on a candy bar. Still looking out over the park, she spoke.
He chuckled. "I forget how forward you Yanks are."
She smiled. "Sorry."
"I forget that you can read me, too." She blushed, proud. One day she'd tell him that she'd found every paper he'd ever written and every one he'd ever referenced and studied well into the night with her sugar supply to keep her company. She had an edge as a psychologist now and it stood her in good stead.
He looked as if he were weighing up his options, debating how much to tell. But if there was one thing she'd learned about him all those years ago, it was that he was blunt. A trait of his background, some might say. She should have been prepared. Instead she'd been imagining this being their moment, that perhaps they could pick up where they left off, only not really because neither of them were kids anymore and at this point in their lives they stood a real chance.
He spoke. "My girlfriend, Zoe. She's pregnant."
Well, she wasn't quite expecting that. "Oh."
She was quiet for a few long moments, before she smiled bravely at him. "Congratulations." And she meant it, because a child was always a beautiful thing, regardless of timing.
He looked a little taken aback, as if he hadn't yet got to that stage of processing the news. "Thank you."
Everything else that was supposed to be said was left; the moment had passed. When it was nearing lunchtime and Gillian was wondering whether she'd have a job to go back to, she turned to him.
"You're going to be a great father."
He smiled. She always knew just what to say.
This time they'd swapped phone numbers and addresses and she found out, through keeping up with his career rather than from him, that he'd married and had a daughter. She can't remember how she heard, just that she was still in her pajamas (it's allowed on a Sunday) and how the wall felt as she slid down it into a crumpled mess of tears and regrets, feeling so incredibly silly to be mourning something that was never hers in the first place.
What she didn't know was that Cal had had his own long moment of regret when he learned of her impending marriage to another man.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
- While You Were Sleeping
In her mind, they were going to end up together. Life had thrown them together early on in order to introduce them, and later their paths would cross again and she'd get her happily ever after.
As the years passed, however, and he'd send her emails with pictures of Emily and she'd send him stories of her burgeoning career as a psychologist, his marriage to Zoe and hers to Alec, she came to realize that they had missed their moment. Perhaps they had already missed it when they met that first time. If she'd held on to him that night on her porch, would things have been different?
She could entertain herself with the philosophy of what ifs all day, but when it came down to it they never had the chance of a moment.
Not until now.
Standing in her office at The Lightman Group, Gillian switched off her desk lamp as Cal pushed open the glass door and walked in. "Ready to go home, love?"
She smiled, picking up her bag and walking towards him. "Yes."
"Good," he murmured, kissing her gently before pulling her against his side as they walked down the dimming hallway, "because I've been wanting you to myself all day."
They'll fingerprint us for being happy.