This one's for Tomellie, who requested Gillian having a night out with girlfriends. Hope you like!
This is set a few months after Gillian's divorce, either pre-Burns or in a world where he never existed ;-)
Disclaimer: I'd love to own Gillian Foster, but unfortunately I don't. Or Cal. Just Sarah and Lucy.
A Night on the Town
"So come on then, Gillian, tell us – how's life as a single woman treating you?"
Gillian put her glass down on the table and gave her friends a shy smile. "It's… okay. Strange, but… I'm getting used to it. It's been a few months now, you know…"
"You're well shot of him, that's what I say!" piped up Lucy, one of Gillian's loudest and, at the moment, most inebriated, friend. "That Alec… I never liked him."
"Didn't you make a speech at the wedding about how perfect Alec and I were together, and how we were going to have a long and happy marriage?" Gillian teased.
Lucy sucked on her straw, then threw it down on the table. "Yeah, well, I said that because it was your wedding day. Was hardly going to spoil the mood by saying, "hey, Gill, you know what? That man you're marrying is a right loser, you could do a lot better."
Gillian laughed. "I think you just changed your mind when the situation changed."
"That's what friends do, Gill," said Sarah. "When you're happy with a guy, they like him, they think he's great for you, they tell you you've found 'the one'. And when things go south they're the first ones to say that he was no good for you anyway and you could do better."
"She can do better." Lucy looked at her two friends with a gleam in her eye. "Like… Cal, for example."
"What?" She gave Gillian a wicked grin as she picked up her cocktail and took another long sip. "I'm just saying… he's single… you're single… he's hot… you're hot…"
Gillian laughed and shook her head, swirling her little pink umbrella round her glass. "That's all it takes, is it?"
"Aha!" Lucy pointed at her triumphantly, sloshing some of her drink onto the table in the process. "Damn. That's good alcohol wasted. Anyway," she returned to her original point. "You didn't deny he was hot."
"Who can deny that?" said Sarah, and Gillian looked at her in surprise.
"You… think Cal's hot? Both of you?" She felt her cheeks reddening even as she said the words Cal and hot in the same sentence.
"Er, hello! He is totally hot. If he ever looked my way…" Lucy let out a dreamy sigh, and Gillian couldn't help raising her eyebrows. She'd never considered that her friends felt that way about Cal before. They'd met about a dozen times over the years, usually at birthday or Christmas parties that Gillian and Alec hosted. She'd never noticed either of her friends showing signs of arousal in his presence before. Or maybe I just didn't want to see it…
"Yeah, he's hot," Sarah agreed. "I'm not sure I could have a relationship with him, though… you know, all the stuff he sees… I like having secrets a bit too much." She giggled as she finished her drink.
"Oh, yeah, I couldn't have a proper relationship with him. But a fling? A one night stand? A whole string of one night stands? Hell yes." Lucy finished her drink too, grinning at the shocked look on Gillian's face. "Oh come on, Gill. Don't tell me you've never thought about him that way."
"More drinks!" Sarah stood up, slightly unsteady on her feet. "My round. Girls?"
"Hmm… cosmo for me, thaaaanks," Lucy trilled, and Gillian quickly scanned the cocktail menu.
"Um… I'll have a raspberry mojito. Thanks."
As Sarah tottered off, Gillian suddenly felt Lucy's hand grasping her wrist. "Tell me, Gill." Her eyes had that same wicked glint. "You and Cal… be pretty good, don't you think?"
"We… Cal and I, we…" She shook her head. "It's not going to happen."
"Tell me you're not attracted to him. And I'll know you're lying. Not because your eyebrows do some weird thing or you shrug your shoulder or whatever, but just because I'll know."
Gillian sat back in her chair, trying to give her friend a disparaging look but finding that the amount of alcohol she'd already drunk that night was making it difficult. "I… look, it doesn't matter, whether I do or don't find Cal attractive – and that's not an admission!" she practically squealed when she saw Lucy's grin widen. "Because… you know… we're… we're friends, we… we work together, and… and…"
Lucy continued to grin at her as they sat there waiting for Sarah to return. Gillian was desperately trying to come up with a convincing reason for why she was in no way attracted to Cal Lightman, but Lucy's mischievous grin was rather distracting.
"Drinks!" Sarah appeared, wobbling the tray she held rather dangerously, three cocktails perched precariously on it. She managed to get them safely off the tray and passed them to her friends, and when they'd all had a sip she was quick to jump back into the discussion. "So! Where were we? You and Cal?" She winked at Gillian.
"Oh, she's already admitted she's got the hots for him and fantasises frequently about shagging him on his desk," Lucy put in, and Gillian gasped and gave her a playful punch on the arm.
"I said no such thing!"
"Ok, so she didn't say it in words, but I bet it's totally true." She grinned. "Anyway, it's not like he doesn't feel the same. Have you seen the way he looks at you? Even when you were married to Alec, he could never keep his eyes off you!"
Gillian felt the blush return to her cheeks, and hid her face behind her glass as she sipped her drink.
"Oh, Gill, why so shy?" Lucy sat back and crossed her legs. "You were always the same… so shy, so coy, with no idea at all how freaking hot you were. Are, I should say. You seem to be getting hotter with age. So unfair."
"I'm not… hot." She gave her friend an embarrassed smile, then shrugged. "Anyway, I'm not Cal's type."
"Oh please! Gill, you're the most gorgeous woman I know. I've always been jealous of your looks."
Sarah began nodding her agreement at Lucy's words. "It's true. You're really beautiful, and sexy, and you don't even know it, which just makes you more attractive."
"Yeah, well, Cal likes women who know it." Zoe. Poppy. Clara. She ran through the list of names in her head. She wasn't one of those kinds of women, and she knew it.
"Oh, Gill, open your eyes! Cal is, like, totally in love with you." Sarah gave her a pointed look when she started to shake her head. "It's true."
"The type of women he…"
"So he screws women to get his kicks while waiting for you to come to your senses, big deal." Lucy pointed her straw at Gillian, accidentally flicking some of her drink at her. "He wants you."
Gillian swallowed, then quickly took another sip of her drink. Her head was swimming, and she wasn't sure it was entirely from the alcohol. "Even if that were true…" she began tentatively, but was interrupted by Lucy.
"It is true."
"Well, even if it were…"
"Would you shut up?" She was laughing now, and Lucy and Sarah both joined in. "You both said tonight that you were attracted to Cal, but that you'd never have a relationship with him. Well, he's my business partner, and my best friend, and I'm not willing to risk that for a one night stand, however good it would be. Not that I'm saying it definitely would be good," she added hurriedly. "I mean, I've never thought about it, of course."
Sarah sighed. "She doesn't get it, does she?" she asked Lucy.
"Don't get what?" Gillian looked between her two friends in confusion. "What don't I get?"
"You want to take this, or should I?"
"You." Lucy picked up her drink and licked her lips. "You're not as drunk as me."
"Okay." Sarah turned to Gillian and put on her most serious face. "Right, Gill, here's the thing. Lucy and I would be happy to have a roll in the hay with Cal because, well, he's sexy and we're pretty sure he knows what he's doing between the sheets."
"Although technically," Lucy put in, leaning forwards slightly and beginning to slur her words a little, "if we're rolling in the hay, there wouldn't be any sheets."
"Whatever, Luce, not really the point."
"Mixed mephator… I mean… mepha… meta…"
"Yeah, whatever." Sarah waved her hand at her impatiently. "Point is, Gill, we don't want a relationship with him because we're not in love with him. You are."
"What!" Gillian put her drink down quickly, spilling a little as she did so. "I… I'm not…"
"Yes you are," Sarah cut her off.
"Yeah, you are." Now it was Lucy's turn.
Gillian couldn't help laughing at her two friends. "Hey, you two are ganging up on me. No fair."
"It's totally fair." Sarah grinned.
"But look… even if, for the sake of argument, I was in love with him, which I'm not saying I am!" She threw her hands up defensively, but the other two only laughed. "Even if I were, and even if he were in love with me, again, if…"
"Well…" She picked up her umbrella and began twirling it absentmindedly in her hands. "You two didn't list the reasons why you didn't want a relationship with him as being because you weren't in love with him… you said it was because he'd know too much about you, because you wouldn't have any secrets. And I mean… look at him. He's… reckless, and he makes rash decisions, and jumps in without thinking, and can be irresponsible and infuriating, and…" She stopped when she noticed both her friends were grinning even more widely than before. "What?"
"Gill… that's why you two belong together. Don't you see that?" Sarah exhaled loudly, and looked over at Lucy. "Boy, she really needs it all spelling out for her, doesn't she?"
"Yup." Lucy giggled. "And she's a psychologist." She pronounced the word slowly and carefully but accurately, and looked immensely proud of her achievement.
"Okay," Sarah continued. "Let's just get you up to speed with your life, shall we? You and Cal are like… yin and yang. You complement each other. He's reckless, you're sensible. He's adventurous, you're a bit more conservative. Together, you're this totally amazing partnership. Did you ever stop to think why you work so well together? Why you've managed to stay best friends all these years whilst being business partners? I doubt there are many who could keep up a close friendship with someone they work with day after day."
Gillian opened her mouth to protest, but found that she didn't actually have anything to say.
"He already sees everything about you, and you can read him too. He may be infuriating and intrusive and a million other things that would have most women running for the hills if they were confronted with having a long term relationship with him, but you? You've had that relationship, for seven years. And you haven't gone anywhere. So why can't you make it work as more than friends?" Sarah finished, and Gillian again opened her mouth to speak, but found words failed her.
"So," Lucy jumped in, "quick rundown of the facts, yeah?"She began ticking points off on her fingers. "Cal's hot. You're gorgeous. He's in love with you. You're in love with him. You're already best friends. You know everything about each other. You're the only woman who could put up with him all day every day… hmm, did I leave anything out?"
She looked at Sarah, who shook her head. "Only that for this to happen, you have to do something about it, Gill."
Lucy began nodding emphatically. "Yeah. Don't think sitting around drinking cocktails with us all the time is going to get you laid. Wait… it probably would, the barman's been checking you out all night. What I mean is… it won't get you any closer to having a relationship with Cal."
Gillian sat back, shaking her head in amusement. "How did a night out with my two girlfriends turn into this? What happened to discussing everyone's lives and loves in turn? All we've talked about in the last half hour is me and Cal."
"You're the most interesting topic of conversation," Sarah grinned. "So, Gill… what are you going to do about this?"
"Nothing. I'm drunk. Hardly going to pitch up on his doorstep after a few too many and say "Hey, by the way, I'm in love with you, fancy taking me out for a date sometime?"
"Haha!" Lucy's raucous laughter drew looks from the table next to theirs. "I would love to see his face if you said that!"
"I'm not going to say that!" Gillian ran her hands through her hair, wondering how the evening had ended up being all about her.
"So… what are you going to do?"
A slow smile spread across her face as she looked at her two friends' expectant faces. "Cocktails again next Friday?"
"Good." She finished her drink and slowly put the glass back down on the table, then looked up at her friends with a grin. "Maybe by then I'll have something to tell you."