Disclaimer: I own none of the characters involved, Lie to Me belongs to Fox, etc, etc. No monetary gain is being made by this story.
And for excess of Love my Love is dumb
It wasn't that he couldn't say it. And for all the times that Zoe has accused him of having the emotional depth of a teaspoon, even she knew then – it wasn't that he wasn't capable.
He was capable. He knew what love was. Knew it every time he looked he looked at Emily, felt her, smelled her in a room she had long since left – that was love. It was cellular, biological and left absolutely no choice in the matter. And he could say the bloody word. He said it all the time to Em.
The problem was never in his emotional depth (or lack thereof if one's ex-wife is to be believed) is was in the fact that Cal Lightman believed in the truth. And love, when pasted like a 'Hi, my name is...' sticker on something that is nowhere near love, was a lie.
Marco, Dave, whatever his bloody name was didn't love Gillian. The man didn't even know who Gillian was, not really. He hadn't been around long enough to even nearly scratch the surface of what Gillian Foster was. Love. Please.
He could say it. When it was the truth, he could say it. He loved Emily. He loved Gillian. He knew both of these truths, even if he only ever articulated one of them.
He'd told what's-his-name that he was one of the best liars he had ever seen, and what's-his-name had replied in the same token. Except-
Except he hadn't been lying. Not once. Not to Marco, or Dave or Burns or whatever, not to half-moon or moonpie -(And really what kind of gangster name was moon anyway? Were they seriously running out of badass names on the streets? What was next - Sparkletoe Puppykicker? Honestly.) - point was, he hadn't lied.
Burns didn't need to know that. Even if Cal suspected he maybe sort of already did, it wasn't like he could tell Gillian that, or would even if he could. And if Cal was more than a little happy that ol' Burnsy was given the heave-ho by way of the DEA, well Gillian didn't need to know that. Even if he suspected she maybe sort of already did.
She said nothing about it. Didn't blame him (though she could have), didn't freeze him out (though she maybe should have) – she just simply carried on. Lunching alone at her favourite restaurant and his not favourite, but still favourite restaurant. It just so happened that the food had nothing to do with his favouritism. Give him a good pub basket any day of the week, not this ridiculous fries in a shot glass. In a shot glass. That wasn't even enough to make him hungry, let alone feed him.
She smiled, genuinely, when he approached her. Genuinely. It was times like these, when he could read everything on her face that he felt like an absolute bastard. It was right there. He could reach out and touch it; it was so close and plainly within his view. He could see it. He could see it. Those moments always seemed to extend forever – the time between heartbeats dragging out until he thought it would never end. Until it did, and he could breathe again and wish it had just been a little bit longer – before the joy left his heart in one gush while guilt was sucked in. Swoosh. It ate at him from the insides.
Love was one of the easiest and most difficult emotions to read on someone's face. It reminded him of those ridiculous magical eye books Em had stared and stared at when she was younger – while he complained loudly that she would go blind staring at those stupid bloody pictures, and Zoe just laughed because she knew he couldn't see it yet. (It's a boat Cal, can't you see it?) If you looked for it, it escaped you every single time, but if it was the last (first and every imaginable number in between) thing you wanted to see, you could see every flash of it.
The problem wasn't that he didn't know what love was. He knew. He could describe it in detail. It was the exasperated roll of Emily's eyes, that smirk she got that looked just like his. It was the slightest, tiniest relaxation in Gillian's face as she looked at him, especially around her eyes. It was the knowledge that her life was worth more than his own. It applied to both her's in this case. It was a fierce desire (instinct) to protect what you considered yours, and yes, part of it was ownership too, as archaic as that seemed. Love was primal, and he knew that, but most other people didn't. They chose to label things as love when one had nothing to do with the other.
The problem was labelling it properly. One word, four little letters that society as a whole threw around so damn much that the whole representation of it was skewed – it wasn't accurate anymore. And even if it was, he'd never been good with words, and saying things in just the right way. Foster was excellent at all that tripe – saying the right things in the right way so that everybody felt drawn to her, comforted by her.
He was no exception.
But he stood awkwardly, towering over her in a way that's wasn't possible when they were standing (they were more eye-to-eye then which was fine by him, he quite liked the view there. Though, it wasn't so bad from here either.) as he mumbled greetings and invited himself and Emily to have lunch with her. Or her to have lunch with him and Em – he wasn't quite sure, because she had smiled in that way she does and now he can't remember who invited who. For all he knew Emily had just bounced out here on her own carrying their plates with her.
"Oh you've already ordered!" Foster's voice was dismayed but Emily just giggled before thumping the plates on the table and leaving him to drag a third chair from some other poor sod's table with a quick glance and a nod and a 'yeah?'.
"No worries, I'm sure Dad could order four times over and never get what he calls a 'proper meal'." Emily giggled as she pulled more of his fries off his plate.
"Well I don't want to intrude." Foster – Gillian was setting her book aside with a grin even as she spoke, so she obviously wasn't that reluctant about it.
"No intrusion. I was just yelling at Dad about his trust issues and he was avoiding the conversation by dragging you into it."
"And look how well that worked, eh?" He grinned over at his daughter, leaning back in his chair and draping his arm across the back of Gillian's. It used to be a game he had loved to play – before her divorce. He would see just how far she would let him into her personal space but constantly hovering just outside of it. And sometimes just inside of it. Depending on his mood that day. Now it was a game she seemed to play right back – making it less fun for him and more dangerous. Not that that scared him off. "And hands off my micro meal, you. You got your own there didn't you? Not enough for you is it?"
"You're still avoiding the topic. You have trust issues. And your role in life is to provide for me. Your fries are my fries." Emily grinned cheekily before snagging another one, just to bugger him off.
"I do not have trust issues. We've been over this. I trust people!"
"How many people?" She demanded. "Name me a number."
"Emily-" Gillian's voice cut through their focus and they both leaned back to look at her. "It's not so easy once you're… older." She spoke in a teasing voice, a soft smile crossing her face before her gaze grew serious. "Seriously, though – it is different. You trust fewer people, but the ones you do trust you trust completely. Your father has issues with it, but with good reason. He's not alone, so you don't need to worry."
"That's what he said. That he wasn't alone." Emily fell silent for a moment before staring at the two of them with a smile that scared even him. His child was entirely too much like him for his liking at times. And he could see what was on her mind a mile off. "You know-"
"Stop right there – don't you dare say anything you were just about to say. And don't deny it – I see it, right there. It's not your place. Em." He stared at her gravely for a moment, and she sat back with a defeated sigh.
"Fine but if you know what I was about to say that you know, which means you're even more of a clueless idiot than I previously thought."
Foster was staring between the two of them in confusion and he sighed heavily. "We'll discuss that later, alright? Can't a man enjoy his barely there dinner with two of his favourite ladies in peace?" The look in her eyes as she nodded though, told him that peace would be short-lived.
"It's later." Emily stood in the door to his office, impatience written on her face.
"That it is. And yet isn't – time is rather fluid don't you think? Later than when? Maybe it's actually earlier, if you look at it from a future perspective-"
"Dad! You said later and it's later and Gill isn't here now, so I wanna talk about it." She shut the door behind her before dropping into one of his chairs with a stubborn set to her mouth.
"Fine. Go ahead. Tell me what you think." He laced his hands in front of him before setting his feet up on the desk, braced for what he was sure would be the third intensely awkward conversation with his daughter in as many weeks.
"I think that you're in love with her." Emily stated this with all the aplomb of a four-year old tap dancer, stomping their way through dance class. He waited, impassive. "Well? Aren't you going to say anything?"
"Oh were you finished? That was all of your wisdom and great knowledge? That I'm in love with Foster? Well I bloody well knew that, didn't I? I thought kids were supposed to know everything, and here I was hoping you'd impart some vital piece of information previously unknown to your dear old Dad-"
"Wait – you knew that? For how long? And more importantly why the hell aren't you doing anything about it?" She sat forward as she spoke, glaring at him from the edge of her seat and he sighed heavily.
"Em, it's not that simple, is it? Foster is my business partner. My best friend. She's the one thing I've had in the last seven years that I could count on no matter what – aside from you, and there are things I just can't... you're not supposed to…" he waved a hand as he spoke and she nodded before settling back.
"I'm not scared, I just know that Foster deserves-"
"Nope. You're scared; I saw the thing you get. You're scared you'll mess up and then you won't have her at all anymore." Emily grinned smugly before crossing her arms in front of her. "And you're also an idiot because what you don't realize is that if you stay in this – this holding pattern with Gill-"
"Holding pattern? What on earth are they teaching you at that school? It's not bloody war it's a relationship – a friendship and don't you make that face at me, young lady. Furthermore-"
"If you keep on keeping on she is gonna move on Dad. Don't be a moron – Gill is fabulous! She's gorgeous and kind and sweet and funny and some guy who isn't scared pantless is going to realize that and snatch her up and you'll lose her anyway!" He stared at her for a beat before shaking his head.
"I know that." He paused as Emily stared at him in disbelief.
"Then how can you do nothing?"
"Look, love, it's like this, it is. Foster was married when I met her. For that matter, I was still married to your mum. And I... well not that I knew exactly, but I sort of sensed that – that Foster and I would – we were..."
"Compatible? Like yin and yang? She completed-" Emily clasped her hands in front of her chest as she mockingly swooned toward him with a twinkle in her eye.
"Stop it, you. We were married. It wasn't something ridiculous like love at first sight which, not real, in case you were wondering." He sighed and slouched further back into his chair as Emily nodded, her face serious.
"But you and Mom – even back then, I remember. When it was great it was great but when it was bad it was just terrible. I hated it. You know, when I was younger. I was so relieved when you guys told me about the divorce." He stared at his daughter in shock for a moment, reading absolute truth on her face.
"Oh Em, I had no idea."
She shrugged, "I know. Neither of you realized. It was like – sort of like what I imagine living with a manic depressive would be like. The highs were so much fun but the lows were awful and seemed like they lasted twice as long. I know you guys loved each other but you and Mom don't fit. You're both too stubborn, too combative, too secretive. When I was nine, my favourite place to hang out was the office – right after you and Gill got that super tiny office space at first – remember? I'd go there after school and do my homework in your office back when it was just you and Gill and Heidi and that was it. I used to love going there, because nobody argued. Nobody fought – and you were just so happy at work. Relaxed. I was sad when you guys bought the bigger space and started taking on interns, actually."
He stared at his daughter in silence, contemplating her words. He always knew Emily was observant – she saw things, could read him even when he was misdirecting her. He just hadn't realized she had seen so much and for so long.
"Anyway, I'm just saying that you and Gill have always seemed to... I don't know, fit together. And yeah, she's been married and you haven't lost her before Dad, but that doesn't mean you won't in the future. And I'm not gonna nag you about it or anything, but I want you to know that if you pursue it, I fully approve. And if you don't, I'll be silently disappointed." With that she stood, pressing a kiss to his cheek and moving to leave.
"But what if – what if, I mean, you know me Em, I'm shit at relationships. I hurt your mother because I couldn't stop reading her, and-"
"But Gillian can read you right back. Plus, Gillian knows exactly what you're like – she's pulled you out of more messes than anyone else, and she hasn't been scared off once."
"Well yeah but its one thing to stand by that in a friendship, and entirely another to put up with it from your – your-" He faltered there and Emily grinned evilly over at him.
"Boyfriend? Life partner? Lover?" He pulled a face at her and she laughed.
"Listen, don't you be using words like that around your dad-"
"Dad, I learned about sex in grade seven health class, for crying out loud! I'm not a child-"
He glared and shook a finger at her, "You're my child and I don't wanna hear that stuff from you."
"Fine, her snuggle partner then. The point is, I think it's worth the risk. But it's your decision to make. Just – just don't take too long making it Dad. I don't want to lose Gillian, either." With that, she left him alone with the oppressive silence and his even more oppressing thoughts.
He loved observing her – hiding just out of sight and watching her when she couldn't feel his gaze. Seemed a bit stalkerish when he put it like that – but he loved it all the same. The way she altered her breathing depending on what she was working on, the way she fidgeted while working – brushing hair back here, biting her lip there, shifting from left to right when she was frustrated.
He could say the word. He could. He wasn't incapable. He could define it in every particular detail, in ways that would delight or frighten her.
But every time he looked at her – smiled back in response to her smile because it was impossible to do anything else in response to Gillian Foster's smile – every time he saw the love on her face, in her eyes, in the way she choose to stand in the same room with him; he froze.
If there was one thing he was an expert at, it was killing that light in the eyes of the women he'd loved. And the thought of never seeing that smile, that light, that lean of her body toward his... it physically hurt like a weight crushing his chest.
He felt love. So much love that it seemed impossible to contain, but contain it he did. But it was silent – tamped down on so fiercely that it couldn't have a voice to speak if it tried.
Better to see all that love while he could. Giving voice to his feelings would only speed up the inevitable process, and he wanted to bask in the glow for as long as he could.
And he could play dumb for just a little longer.