So, I've been watching Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and if you haven't already, you HAVE to watch that show. Fantastic. Anyway, this was born thanks to episode of that.
I know I did a fic a few weeks ago about 'those little white pills' but this is different to that. Promise.
Thanks to recoilandgrace, as always x
For Franella, who always reads, always reviews and always makes me smile :) thank you! x
He doesn't see her at first, sat on the arm chair in the dark. He mutters some British expletive as he does a double-take and stands in front of her. "You tryin' to kill me?"
She gives a humorless snort, her eyes looking at her lap where her fingers are entwined.
"What is it?" He digs his hands into his pockets, rocks on his heels.
She looks at him, her face blank, and places a matchbox on the table. She watches for a reaction, hoping for a denial, for confusion, not for recognition. The breath leaves her body when he turns on his heel and walks to his desk, his face banishing any emotion as quickly as it dares to appear.
"Has Reynolds picked up the paperwork for that Grayson bloke to visit the Cube?" he asks as he tosses manila files into the inbox. "I need it by tonight so Heidi can fax them over to the prison."
Her jaw sets almost painfully as she grabs the matchbox, marches across the room and stands in front of him, just the glass-topped desk between them keeping her from reaching over and slapping him across the face.
He shakes the mouse, the computer monitor sounding to life as he looks anywhere but at her.
She pushes her finger into one side of the matchbox and flips it over, a few matches scattering onto the desk and floor, small white pills following suit.
"Are you high?" She asks calmly and quietly.
"Are you high? Are you-"
"-I can't believe you're asking me-"
"-high right now?"
She should have seen the signs, how could she have missed them? How could she have explained them away, dismissed them, when they were so blatant? Because they were working in her favor, was that it? Because whatever he was doing was making them money and keeping the business afloat? What that it? Because it all seemed exciting, a head rush, to have the FBI answering to her, and having victims thanking her and having Cal flirt with her? All while he was screaming for help.
His eyes are on the pills. "Look at me," she says, the serenity in her voice anything but what she feels. "Cal."
Slowly, his gaze meets hers.
"Your pupils are dilated."
He smirks. "They always are around you."
"...Not that much."
Suddenly, the dam breaks and she loses the quietude she once had. He thought he could charm his way out of it? Flirt his way out of a confrontation?
She spins on her heel and marches into the study, opening drawers, moving ornaments, flipping through books before throwing them on to the couch. "Where are they?"
"Gillian!" Matches snap under his feet as he goes to the doorway, watching her ransack his private room.
"Where are they?"
"Where are what? Gillian!"
"The pills! The other pills! How long have you been taking them?" She swings under the staircase, opening the top drawer of an ornate chest- papers, photographs, artifacts. "Martin Walker? Matheson? Afghanistan?"
"It's not that big a deal!" He grabs at her wrist but she wriggles free. "Anyway, isn't that what you're supposed to do? Isn't that what any shrink would have done, thrown pills down my neck?"
She swallows down the anger fighting for control. She wants to turn around and slap him stupid, until he realises what he's done, what could have happened. "It was Walker, wasn't it?" she pushes spare clothing around another drawer, the tightness in her chest making it harder to breathe. "The waterboarding, that was the catalyst, wasn't it? I should have known!"
"You 'should have known'? What the fuck does that mean, 'should have known'?" He grabs at her wrist again and she doesn't wriggle free this time.
She puffs her chest out, the defiance and determination within her winning over the anger and the sadness she really feels.
"You don't have a say in what I do, Gillian! You don't have that hold over me, you're not my shrink anymore!"
"That's twice you've said that. Shrink. Why's that? Why is that so important?" she feels his grip tighten around her wrist as he holds it by her ear, her fingers in a fist. Her voice is calm again. "Is that what you want? You want me to be your therapist again? To tell you what to do? To save you from yourself?"
He scoffs, "I don't need saving."
"You needed saving from Walker. And Matheson." She looks him straight in the eye, "You gave up with Matheson, was prepared to let him kill you. You let Walker kill you. Do you not see that?"
"You purposely put yourself in harm's way, you knew he'd come for you! Where's the fun in playing with the lamb when you can get the lion? You knew he wouldn't be able to resist the opportunity of getting you, that's why you sent everyone to watch over Helen. To leave you vulnerable, let him take you."
"Do you want to talk about it? About why you volunteered yourself to be abducted? You knew what Walker did to his victims. Did you just want to be waterboarded? Did you have some interest in it, wonder what it felt like? What it felt like to drown, to die? Tell me, Cal, what did it feel like? Tell me."
He let go of her wrist in a rage, spinning on his heel and raking a hand through his hair.
"Did it hurt?" she offered, rubbing at her wrist. "Did you like it? Did it get you off?"
"You don't want to know."
"Yes, I do."
"You do? You want me to tell you how it overpowers you? How your lungs ache, your throat stings? You want me to tell you how you can't catch your breath? You really want to know what it feels like to die?"
"No! I want you to know! I want you to know how it feels so you'll never be so reckless again! I want you to get it out of your system!"
"You're just angry I haven't come to you. You need someone to dote on, to mother, to smother, and I'm not that person. I'm not, Gillian!"
"I'm the only person you've got, Cal!"
"What the fuck does that mean?"
"You can't talk to Emily! As good a relationship as you two have, you're still her Daddy. You can't tell her half the shit you get up to; you still need to be her knight, her saviour. Zoe? Well, if she knew, she'd take Emily on the first flight out of DC and you'd never see her again. Torres? Loker? You can't show weakness to them, you need them to be scared of you. That only leaves me, Cal. Me. You need to talk to me or you're going to kill yourself!"
She opens her mouth to shout at him, to scream, to make him wake up - but nothing comes out. She can't think of any more words, she's tried them all. She throws her arms up in defeat, in annoyance as she passes him.
When is it all going to stop? When is he going to realise there are limits?
She's past the desk when she stops suddenly.
When Zoe eventually found out about Doyle, she left him and took Emily with her. She had her limits. He'd pushed her to her limits...
She shakes her head just slightly as she backtracks and leans against the doorframe, her arms and ankles crossed. "It wasn't the death, was it?" she asks quietly, his back turned to her. "It wasn't the excitement or anything like that...it was the limit. You were testing out the boundaries. I can't believe I didn't see this...!"
He slowly turns to face her.
"You wanted to see what my limit was, what would make me leave you," she doesn't add like Zoe did. She sighs, the faintest smile on her lips. She steps forward and wraps her arms around him, holds him tightly as she rests her chin on his shoulder. After a beat, she feels his hands on her back. "It'll take more than a little thing like dying to get rid of me, Cal."
She kisses his cheek and pulls away, the pad of her thumb rubbing at the lipstick mark. "Promise."
She slips away into the hall, to the breakroom for a bottle of water. She's gulping it down as she opens the door to her office and sits behind the desk, a small mound of pills in the centre of the glass.