Disclaimer: Don't own, no monetray gain is being made. Etc, etc, and so on and so forth.
Staring at the Sun
(One day, she thinks, this will make her famous. She'll publish a paper and invent a name for this particular brand of disease they share.)
It's not an obsession.
Well, not really. She's read all of his books and poured over articles in Psychological Science and read every scrap of information she could get her hands on. Psychology isn't as ground-breaking a field as you think, so of course, she knew who Cal Lightman was. Everyone did – she'd taken seminars and studied his FACS program after his ground breaking research was published.
She'd always been fascinated by body language and speech patterns as it pertained to lies. Her entire graduate dissertation had been focussed on meticulously combing through group after group of high school students in order to establish a correlation between lying and popularity. And really, she always felt that being able to read people's bodies and faces and tone – it was an asset in her field of work.
Her first counselling clinic, the professor in charge had welcomed them by stating the fact that only 7% of all communication was spoken word. 93% was non-verbal. And she knew then, as he went on to outline and explain the very basics of reading a patient's body language – this, this was something that she would need to perfect.
So the fact that she was so familiar with Cal before he'd even stepped foot through her office door – it wasn't surprising. It wasn't even obsession. Not really. It was just that in the world of psychology, he was sort of her John Lennon – a fact that Alec had teased her about endlessly.
So the day she was assigned his case, the day she was handed a file with his name emblazoned across the tab, she felt a curious shifting sensation. Nervousness, mixed with anxiety, mixed with the most intense desire to read him – the unreadable man.
She could do this.
And in the middle of the night before – when she couldn't sleep and was wandering her too quiet house with a mug of hot chocolate and his first book in her hands – when a man she hadn't known has pressed her doorbell in the middle of the night and stood in her foyer looking threatening as he laid out exactly what she would be concluding about Cal Lightman before she even met the man, if it had been any other name, any other patient, any other man... She would have refused, would have refused to lie, refused to be swayed by threats against people she didn't even know.
But it wasn't any other name, and he wasn't any other patient, and he was Cal Lightman. Her John Lennon – and because of that – because of that one fact, she agreed.
It's not obsession that makes her take his book into the office with her the next morning.
She needs him to catch her in a small lie, so he doesn't see the big one. He can't tell the difference – won't tell the difference, and she'll help him.
Any way she can.
She holds her breath when he walks through the door without knocking. He's not as tall as she expected, but he somehow manages to fill it completely all the same as he peers around, studying her office like it's an extension of her before sprawling on her sofa and staring up at her with an 'I'm gonna get you' grin.
His arms are spread wide, and his legs are open. Relaxed. Confident. Open. But he knows this, and she knows he knows this, and just before she sits down, she smiles.
He'll use his science to throw her off, and she discovers in one instant, the key to reading the unreadable man.
It's not reading his face, or his body, or even his voice. It's in reading the void - what he doesn't do matters so much more than what he does.
She sits back in her chair; the nervousness she's been feeling is dispelled, replaced by a warm tingle that spreads across her skin as his eyes track across her face: eyes, nose, lips, eyes, hair, eyes, chin, cheeks, and eyes.
She can do this.
(It's like a drug, like an addiction, and she is more than familiar with those. But the truth can be far more harmful than any substance you can cut up with a blade and line up on a mirror to be consumed in small little marching rows.)
There's something to be said for seeing the absolute truth, all the time.
Oh she wraps them in invisible lines and they each say that they won't read the other, but they both know as they watch the other one form the words; they are lying right this very minute, even as they speak the words.
It isn't about not knowing. Because they know, they watch, they study each other in different ways. They see the truth, the lies and every insecurity, doubt, joy and pain in between. They know. But she knows that he knows and he knows that she knows, so they both agree that if they want to discuss it; they will.
And it's liberating – that level of trust. To just know that there is one person on this whole planet who you can unload everything onto, and they'll be braced to receive the weight. Sometimes, she thinks it's sort of like a bridge. They're like a bridge, and he's the tresses and she's the support beams. Sometimes it's the other way round, but the point is that the support is there, needed or not. So even when the over weighted transfer truck of divorce and personal failure rolls across that bridge – they can handle the weight.
And it doesn't need to be discussed to death – or even at all, at times. Because the rest of the world communicated nonverbally 97% of the time, but she and Cal do it 99.7% of the time.
She can read him. No one else can.
He can read her. No one else can.
And that – right there? It's addictive. It's a heady sensation to be able to meet each other's eyes across the room, and see everything and understand it perfectly. It's like a secret language, and sometimes they have to be careful, not to alienate everyone around them.
They try anyway.
But Zoe can't understand, and all she sees is a husband who closes himself off from everyone except his business partner. And she resents Gillian, and really, Gillian can't blame her. Her own husband has been displaying his own resentment, and she is resentful of his resentment.
It's a vicious cycle.
Because it's not as if she can help the fact that she can read Cal so well, or that he can read her. And what Alec and Zoe just don't understand is the freedom, the absolute high of somebody who will let you read them.
She loves it. She does, and that doesn't necessarily mean that she loves him. She does, but she is loyal, to a fault, he'd say – so she never really thinks of it in a romantic love kind of way. She just loves being able to study how his hands are placed, and being able to listen to the sound of his voice more than what he's actually ever saying. And Cal, well, he loves to look at the face more than the body. He loves that he can step into her personal space, and study her, and she never, ever steps back.
She's got nothing (much) to hide.
Neither does he.
(It can destroy lives. But it can rebuild them too, and if those lives are built on truth... it's like the three little pigs. Why would you use straw and sticks if there were bricks right there?)
After Alec leaves – no, after she leaves – there are moments when she questions her own sanity.
Is it possible to overanalyze what someone doesn't say?
Because Cal, he's always pushing against her boundaries now. He doesn't just step in to see her eyes more clearly, he presses against her, his frame leaning in to hers.
She still doesn't step back.
And now – now that Alec is gone and now that she doesn't have anyone to be loyal to but Cal, she starts to realize that she's been reading him all these years, but she hasn't been reading the right things.
Wait, that's wrong – they're the right things, but she hasn't been seeing everything. She remembers when he called her his blind spot once, and she had laughed at the notion, because she had been so convinced then that she saw him so clearly.
But everyone has a blind spot, and it turns out, he was hers too.
When he looks at her now, she can see everything. His pupils dilate. He's always facing her squarely. He mirrors her and when they hug their hands always touch each other's necks, shoulders and waists.
How did she not see all this before?
He touches her face. And she touches his.
And she's been so blind and stupid this entire time, congratulating herself on reading the unreadable man. Pleased that she's kept that secret of her own from him for so many years.
When she finally tells him the truth about Doyle, the relief is almost orgasmic. And when he steps in to hug her, she looks and she sees that he's been keeping secrets of his own.
Her hand clutches the nape of his neck as she buries her face into his jacket and wonders how the hell she could have been so blind.
And just like that, the rebuilding begins.
(It's the opposite of blindness, really. You see everything in minute detail; the intake of a breath, the twitch of an eye, the brush of a hand, the direction of a palm. It's so much, and so bright that it almost hurts to look at sometimes.)
It's then that everything shifts.
Slides to the left and then steps to the right, and suddenly she looks at him and feels strangled by this invisible line they've drawn.
Because she sees the truth. She sees the emotion on his face when he looks at her, she feels her own heart race in response and she knows; this would be perfect. Almost painfully so. She knows that he would fit into her just right, and in a way no man has ever been able to, or will ever be able to.
It hurts. Because she can see it, and it's right there, and because of their lines, she can't ask for it.
Because he knows that she sees. And if he wanted to discuss it, he would.
But he doesn't.
And neither does she.
That can only go on for so long. She can only take it for so long; can only distract herself with dates and other, less perfect sex with other, less perfect men for so long.
She can't ask him about it. She can't discuss it, but one evening, as they sit in his study, with twin glasses of scotch in their hands, wrapped in contemplative silence – she wonders.
What if he sees it on her face, reads it all there, sees that truth but cannot taste it? What if the line they've been clinging to, wrapping themselves up in and threading around themselves was actually holding his tongue the way it was holding hers.
The thought shocks her so much she drops her empty glass with a startled thud.
And then she remembers.
He knows and she knows and they know that they know.
And 97% of all communication is nonverbal.
The clear solution is just - not to talk.
That night when he hugs her goodnight, and her hands find his neck and waist, she uses them for the first time ever. She halts his body when he pulls back, and she looks him in the eye, her face less than an inch from his.
Her heart is racing, and his hands are gripping her hips so tightly she is sure there will be bruises. She can't breathe, and when she looks into his eyes, they are swimming in black, and she tilts her head left and he is leaning right before she even begins to move.
Her breathing is shallow and they seem hung in the moment, so her fingers thread through the short hairs at the back of his neck, pushing him forward millimetre by millimetre.
The room is silent, except for their soft breathing, and just before his mouth reaches hers, she smiles, because it is going to perfect and she knows this before it even happens. When his lips finally cover hers, her fingers relax, weaving up through his hair as her mouth opens and her tongue snakes out in a bold move.
He tastes like scotch and truth and perfection.
Her hands move up to cradle his face, because she can, and because it is precious and his hands slide down from her waist to pull her against him, harder, even as he tastes her. His tongue is meeting hers in an erotic dance set in time to the beating of their hearts and the harsh cadence of their breathing.
She keeps her eyes open, because she doesn't want to miss a god damn word of this.
So does he.
(Your eyes grow accustomed to the light though, and once you see everything in that painfully bright contrast, everything else you look at after it feels like an acid-coloured ghost of what it should look like. It's jarring and unpleasant. So you just embrace the light.)