Disclaimer: If Lie to me* was mine, Callian would be a fact, not a hope, and Zoe would be fat and ugly, not to mention a very distant memory for Cal. Just saying.
A.N.: This is my first Lie to Me fic, so I think it might be out of character, especially for Lightman. Please, let me know what you think.
The first thing Cal saw when he walked into the Lightman Group that morning was Heidi trying to get his attention.
"Oy, Heidi, what's with the face?"
"Good morning, Dr. Lightman" she answered with a hesitant smile "I'd just like to tell you that Dr. Foster has arrived early today and has been waiting for you in your office"
He understood why she had seemed hesitant "This can't mean good news, can it?" He smiled brightly and saw the apprehension in his receptionist's face. Just last week Cal and Gillian had been involved in an enormous fight, which Cal knew had scared many people, Heidi included. "Don't worry, luv, I'll get out alive"
He tried not to lose his pace as he walked to his office. Truth was, he wished Heidi hadn't warned him. Because now he was looking around for an excuse, any excuse, to be somewhere else. He sighed; anyone could see his and Gillian's relationship was on the rocks. They never talked anymore, and when they did, they fought. Cal didn't know where she found so many things to argue about, but she always had something: Zoe, the Group and its financial problems, his personality, his amazing ability to always put himself in danger, his latest one night stand. Amazing, he often thought, there is always something.
If he was honest with himself – which he always tried to be, even if he wasn't honest with everyone else – he had to say he picked fights too. Sometimes. Definitely less times than she ever did. Because his only problems with her were concerning the men she went out with, and he had absolutely no trouble admitting that. It was not because he got jealous every time he heard she had a date, but because she did not bother doing any kind of background check on any of them, and that pissed him off more than he could put into words. So what could Cal do? He had to, obviously, do the bloody background checks by himself. Very hard information to get – especially on that neurosurgeon from New York she went out with last March – so he kept it to himself.
She found out about it once, though. Then said he was not allowed to do it again, ever. But, on his behalf, Cal had to say he had had a memory lapse and did it again when another guy came into the picture. She found out about that one too, and Cal could swear Loker had something to do with it, although he couldn't say for sure, because apparently the boy had returned to the old habit of taking pills to relax the muscles or whatever it was. And then there was the doctor from New York – what was Gillian doing going out with a guy who lived in New York, for Christ's sake? –, and when she found out about it, hell broke loose. That was the argument that had scared the whole Lightman Group.
Cal was only hoping they did not have a rerun of last week's events.
On his defense, he had followed her orders and had not interfered with her personal life for the past week.
But maybe that was just because she had not been on a date since.
"Good morning, luv" he said, opening the door to his office and smiling.
Gillian was sitting on his chair, but had her back turned to him, and he could see from her reflection on the window that she had been sadly admiring the view from his office. She didn't speak for another full minute.
"Cal" she said one word and he already knew it was going to be a very long morning.
She turned around in the chair "Don't call me 'love'"
Bad sign. Horrible sign, actually. Her face was blank, or she thought it was, but he could see the anger in her eyes waiting to be released, right next to her exhaustion.
Had she spent most of the night thinking about ways to torture him in the morning?
"Why not?" He had almost called her 'luv' again. He couldn't help it; old habits die hard. He walked into his office and sat down on the couch, trying not to show how uncomfortable he felt in the familiar surrounding – this was just what she wanted.
She chose to ignore his question – not that he had expected her to answer it, anyway. "What do you have to say about this?" She got up and slowly walked over to where he was. Standing right in front of him, she dropped a few papers forcefully on his lap, then walked back to his chair and sat down again.
Her face and her body language was, to the untrained eye, the realm of calmness. But Cal knew better. He looked deep into her eyes before examining the papers she had so carelessly thrown at him. Realization hit his face almost instantaneously and he didn't bother denying it. In fact, he had been wondering for a few days now how long it would take for her to find out about this. But he decided to play the innocent card, just to see how things would turn out.
"What do you mean, luv?"
She closed her eyes and sighed heavily. He had used the term of endearment on purpose, she could tell by the change in his voice pitch. He knew she knew (wasn't it her specialty?), and he smiled.
"You could have had at least the decency to tell me what you did. But leave me in the dark? That's new, even for you, Cal"
He noticed a hint of sadness there, and couldn't help but regret his decisions almost immediately "What can I say? I'm sorry, Foster"
The sadness was gone in less than a millisecond, and the anger came back "Well, you are gonna have to try harder than that, Lightman!" She stood up "How could you do this to me? Discredit me and my work in front of a client? In front of Eli and Ria? What were you trying to do, uh? Show everybody how no one in this world can come close to Cal Lightman and his brilliant mind? Well, newsflash, Cal: I was not trying to be you! I don't want to be you; in fact, I think it's horrible being you! I was merely trying to do my job, the one you pay me for, but not even that you trust me to do these days"
"Ouch, no need to insult, luv" he said, feigning hurt. His eyes, though, sparkled. Did he like to play with fire?, he thought. Oh, yeah. He loved it.
"Are you even listening to me?" She put her hands on her waist and tapped her foot, frustrated with his attitude, but remained in her place; Cal noticed she did not want to be any close to him "You had no right, Cal Lightman, no right to do what you did. Mr. Andrews came to the Lightman Group looking for me. He asked if I could help him find out which one of his employees had been involved in the kidnapping of his 4 year-old granddaughter. He said a friend of his had mentioned the Group and told him I was the most qualified to deal with children. You may even remember this friend of Mr. Andrews'." Her tone was sarcastic now "A 12 year-old kid who was being bullied by his classmates, up to the point he did not want to get out of bed in the morning?" Unconsciously, she walked an inch in Cal's direction, reading his face quickly "Of course you don't remember, I dealt with this alone! Well, Mr. Edwards, the director of the school, indicated me to Mr. Andrews. Me, Cal, me! Is it so hard to believe that someone would require my services instead of yours? Is that what pissed you off so much? What, was your ego bruised? Answer me, Lightman!"
His last name sounded so foreign coming out of her mouth, he thought, before answering "Gillian, I simply told Mr. Andrews that you had failed to point out that the employee slash kidnapper had not done all the work by himself. I don't understand why…"
But he didn't get to finish his sentence. This usually happened when he was at the receiving end of Gillian's wrath. "Oh, you don't understand why I am making such a big fuss out of it, isn't that right?" She laughed and started pacing back and forth in the little space behind his desk "You should have told me, Cal. You should have talked to me before you talked to Mr. Andrews. What kept you from stopping by my office that day and saying 'Oy, luv, I think you missed something in the Andrews case'?" He smiled at her impersonation of him – close to perfect, but he didn't think he was so heavy on the accent – and that seemed to fuel her anger. "But no, you thought it was such a better idea to wait for me to leave so you could talk to Mr. Andrews and Ria and Eli about my mistake. What did you say, Cal?" She was back to calling him Cal, he noticed, and that meant the anger was slowly being taken over by the sadness and hurt. Damn, he had messed up this time "Did you tell them I wasn't good enough to be on this case? Or did you say it was okay, it's just the sort of thing that happens? Or, worse, did you say to Mr. Andrews he should have come to you instead of me?" She had tears in her eyes now, and Cal tried to remember to punch himself in the face as soon as he got a chance "Because I am good enough for this job, Cal. One mistake does not define me or the way I do my work"
"No, no, luv. I know that" He got up and walked quickly to where she was, his arms stretched out to touch her, to reassure her. But it didn't surprise him that she moved away when he got close "I of all people know that. There's no one more qualified for this job than you. I had no intentions of discrediting or disrespecting you. I am so, so sorry, luv. Gillian, look at me. Please" His voice was on the verge of desperation, and that was the only reason why she agreed to look into his eyes "I'm sorry. I should have talked to you. What I did was a big mistake, and I'll make sure I never do it again."
He knew that when she looked into his eyes, she would have no choice but to forgive him and let go of her arguments. Because she could tell he was genuinely sorry, and his intention was never to hurt her. He watched as she crossed her arms, and calmed down, almost against her will. Man, did the woman want to be pissed, he said to himself.
"Now, is there something else I did I should know about before we go on with our mornings, eh?" he smiled.
"Actually, there is" she said, after a moment, triumphantly as his face fell.
"It has come to my attention, Mr. Lightman, that you have refused three cases in the past five days. I would love to know why" She smiled devilishly
"Gillian, luv, not this conversation again. Didn't we sort it out the last time? The Group doesn't need this kind of cases. They're jokes, luv, and you know it"
"I know, I know. We need money and all that jazz, yeah" he said, waving his hand to show certain things were too trivial.
He expected her to jump at the opportunity and blame him for the Group's financial situation, but she stayed silent for a minute, watching him. It was his turn to fidget under her gaze. He thought she was going to say something like 'You know, but you don't understand' and from there start a whole new lecture. She opened her mouth three times and closed it before saying a word. Finally, she said "What happened, Cal?"
He studied her intently but for the love of God could not understand what she was talking about. She noticed that, of course, and answered his unasked question "What happened to us, Cal?"
"Gillian, darling, I still don't…"
"I use to pride myself in the fact that we did everything together. Every decision, from the very beginning, was made with each other's help. It didn't matter what it was; concerning the Group, or even our personal lives. God, Cal, you asked me to help you pick a shirt to wear when you were going to City Hall to marry Zoe." She smiled sadly at the memory "It was like we couldn't do it by ourselves, we just had to have the other's approval, on every little thing. Do you understand what I'm saying?" she looked at him from the corner of her eye long enough to see his curt nod, and then looked back at the view the window provided "We took so many risks in our lives. The Lightman Group was one of them. But I was never afraid, Cal. Do you know why? Because I knew that whatever the answer was, we were right together, and we were wrong together"
She wiped a tear away and hoped he hadn't noticed. Surprisingly, he didn't; it seemed the trip down memory lane was affecting him too, and he started to comprehend where she was going with all of this.
"But not anymore. For the past few months, it's been you, and then me. Sometimes it even seems it's you against me. I'm not used to that, Cal. I tried to accept it, but it's just so hard. What happened to working together? But I mean really together, not just in the same building, or in the same case. We are colleagues, but not partners. When did that happen?"
Her voice was so incredibly sad that he wanted nothing more than to take her in his arms and rock her until she fell asleep. But he didn't move, both because he didn't know how she would react to his sudden display of affection, and because he sensed she wasn't finished.
"And it's not just that. We are drifting apart, Cal. The one thing I could swear would never happen to us. Every time you have a problem, you either lock yourself up, or you go straight to Zoe's bed, or any other woman's bed." She turned to him and he could see the tears pooling in her eyes. He knew that she mentioning Zoe meant she had been deeply hurt by his latest actions. "Does that really help you? Sleeping with your ex-wife eases your pain and takes your troubles away? Because if it does, if it helps you, I'll be the first to tell you to do it." One look at his face and she knew she was right "But I know you, Cal. Like it or not, you're not a deep mystery no one will ever figure out. You're not that complicated, you just pretend to be. And for the past what, eighteen years?, I've been the one you've really been yourself with. So I know, better than anyone, how to help you when you have a problem. So why not me, Cal? A simple phone call, hell, even a note, saying 'I need to talk' would be enough. I'm always here, but you don't seem to see that anymore" She didn't say it, but he knew that in her mind, she was adding 'And that hurts me, Cal'
She was not bragging when she said she was the only one he had allowed himself to be truthful with. And he knew the same went for him – only he knew the real Gillian Foster. It was not like they put up an act for the rest of the world. It was just that, in their line of work, they had learned that masks were needed and would have to be used. Cal understood exactly how Gillian felt. When they started The Lightman Group, it had felt like it was the both of them versus everyone else. They could conquer the world if only they didn't let go of each other. It wasn't something they had planned on, to be closer to one another than they were with their respective spouses. It just happened. It had slowly deteriorated each of their marriages, and they couldn't deny it had been a big part of the reason divorce papers had to be signed on both sides. But lately, they were slowly, possibly unconsciously, letting go of each other, to see if they could stand on their own two feet.
Turns out they can't, Cal thought.
They had gotten so used on leaning on each other for support that he knew he couldn't go far without needing her again.
And yet, she was right. They had been drifting apart. Strange, wasn't it? Now that he was divorced and she was divorced, there was nothing in between them anymore. Shouldn't they, if anything, be getting closer?
Aha. So that's the problem.
She had been watching him since she finished her speech, waiting for him to say something, anything. To tell her it was all in her mind, that they were fine. To tell her she was right, but he couldn't do anything to fix it. To just turn around and leave.
"Gillian" he seemed hesitant, insecure even. He waited a full minute before finishing his thought, processing each word in his mind carefully before saying it, afraid they would come out wrong "It's easier to go to Zoe than to deal with my problems. While I know you would never judge me, I know I would. So I don't admit I have a weakness" he reached out and touched her arm; he needed to be reassured she was still there. "But I do, Gill" the sound of the nickname he so rarely used let her know how regretful he was "I have so many. And you know what? It's fine, everything's fine, actually, as long as you're there. I guess what I'm trying to say here, luv, is that I'm sorry for the way I've been treating our friendship lately. And that I don't want you to feel that way ever again. I'm afraid that if you do, you might leave. I think I only now realized what would happen if you left" By only hearing Cal say the words 'I'm afraid', she knew he was already trying to fix whatever was wrong with them.
"Cal, I'm not leaving. That's not what I meant…"
"I know, luv, I know. I have no bloody idea why, but I know you'll stay" he smiled when he saw the corners of her lips twitching up a bit "Gillian, luv, would you mind me running a theory of mine by you?"
His eyes had both mischief and hope written all over them. Not at all a good combination, Gillian thought before saying "Alright". She figured that whatever Cal was up to, would be better than to stay there brooding over the slips they had had along the way.
Cal seemed to be thinking the same thing too, and said, with his tone light "I think I know why we drifted apart for a while there"
She was confused; his voice seemed to have the tone he would use to describe Emily's newest school adventure, but the subject he was trying to approach was much heavier than that.
"Well, bear with me for a second here. I've been divorced for a while now, haven't I?" He waited for her hesitant nod before continuing "But you were married. Now you are divorced. Are you following me, luv?"
She almost laughed "Honestly? No, Cal. Not at all"
"Damn, woman, am I going to need to draw it for you?" he said, but she knew he was joking. It felt so good, she thought, being back to what they were, and being so comfortable with each other that it almost seemed nothing had ever happened "We ended up getting distant to each other because we could get closer"
She waited a long time for a punch line, but there was none "Cal, seriously…"
"Just listen to me, luv" He started pacing back and forth like she did earlier, and concentrated so fully that he seemed to be working a new and very interesting case "Before, when I was married, you were married, we were safe. We knew we couldn't have anything more than what we already had. But now that both of us are free, we know what the next step is. The step that had been denied to us until you divorced that jerk. And because we are afraid to take the next step, the only possible next step, we started unconsciously drifting apart so we wouldn't have to be forced into dealing with something new in our relationship"
"You lost me, Cal. What is this so called next step?" She asked, genuinely confused, and his confidence vanished. It was like he had been hoping she would catch on early enough, so he wouldn't have to say the words she could just assume. Upon seeing his sudden nervousness, she understood. Her heart started beating faster, and so loudly she was positive he could hear it. He was talking about them really becoming a them. God, was it really happening? Was it even possible? Looking at her face, he knew she had finally caught on, but also knew she would not let him off the hook. He should have known, he kicked himself mentally, that he would have to say the words either way. Gillian Foster was the biggest romantic humanity had ever seen. It seems opposites do attract.
"Gillian. Gill. We have been given a chance" he stopped, uncertain of how to proceed, of how to say out loud the words he had played in his mind so many times over the years. He took her hand and stepped closer "I have wanted this for a very long time, luv. Longer than I remember. You just have to say you want it too, and we'll deal with the rest, whatever that is, later"
"Cal, are you talking about…" she drifted off, waiting for him to complete her sentence.
"About you and me together? Just like the way we had always been, but along with the way we had always wanted to be. I mean, if that's you want"
She looked down before looking up at him again. He was so close "Is that what you want?"
"Luv, I never wanted anything as much as this." Although he was smiling, the tone of the conversation wasn't light anymore. They knew one simple word could change their relationship drastically.
"What if it doesn't work, Cal?" in her eyes was the hope of a future together, but this was Gillian, the woman who so mysteriously could mix the sense and the sensibility and only make a decision based on both.
"I know it will"
"How?" He stepped closer, now completely invading her personal space. She didn't feel threatened, though. The last time she checked, butterflies on her stomach were the result of anticipation.
"Think about it" he lifted his hand to stroke her cheek softly "It's the only reasonable way to go on, the only possibility." He paused, savoring the feel of her skin under his hand, and the pleasure in her face as she closed her eyes to enjoy his touch "It's all about logic, really. I love you so much that it makes no sense for this little dance of ours to continue"
Her eyes shot up and his smile widened; he got the effect he wanted.
"You love me?" he tried to read her as she said those words, but gave up before he could see much, suddenly afraid of what he would find.
"Yes. I think the question now, luv, is whether you love me too?" he dropped the hand that was still resting on her cheek.
She looked at him, at every single trace of his face. What she saw surprised her. Cal Lightman, the man who was usually confident to the point of arrogant and cocky, was now insecure and afraid. She then realized, correctly, that she had the power to make or break this man.
Well, she thought as a smile of relief threatened to tear her face apart, she had always been a sucker for happy endings.
"I do, Cal, I love you"
He didn't even have the time to send a prayer to the heavens above him before she flung herself at him and encircled his neck with her arms. He laughed as he held her tightly against his body. After a moment, she loosened her hold on him slightly, only so that she could look at his face.
"Don't be afraid, luv"
She could not stop smiling if her life depended on it "I'm not. Whatever happens, we are together, remember?"
He smiled and slowly closed the distance in between them. He saw her eyes close before he closed his and felt their lips touching for the first time. The kiss was careful at first, but quickly grew more confident, as if their lips had a mind of their own and knew they had nothing to be afraid of. His tongue happily explored the inside of her mouth, the foreign territory seeming familiar somehow. As the kiss grew hot, teeth clashed, tongues battled and lips soothed. After what seemed like an eternity that was over much too soon, they separated, not because the need for oxygen was stronger, but because they both remembered, at the same time, that they were in Cal's office.
They looked into each other's eyes, both letting the other know that it had been the perfect first kiss. For a long time they just stood there, and she rested her head on his chest – something she had wanted to do for such a long time – and he put his arms around her waist and his chin on the top of her head – something he had always felt the urge to do – and they thought the same thing: there was no more 'wanting to do, controlling myself not to do'. Gillian sighed happily and Cal read her mind, not something he could do because he was a microexpression expert, but because he loved this woman and knew her inside out.
"Oh, but no, luv. It's happy, but it's not the end. Not even close to it" He could hear her smile as she sighed once again.
True, she thought. It was not the end. Life, as it was supposed to be, was now beginning.
A.N.: Constructive criticism is always welcome, but I think you guys already know that! So, yeah, what I'm really trying to say is, review and make my world a better place!