A/N: Hello! So, this is set the morning after (with brief flashbacks to the night of, I suppose) "In the Red." So, there are spoilers for that episode! I'm almost done with the second part of this, but wanted to get the first part up. As usual, I'm not happy with it, but I wrote it, so I'm putting it out there. I like reviews as much as the next girl and they're helpful in several ways-not the least of which is determining what works (for a story or for my writing in general) and what doesn't. So, please be a dear and if you have a moment, leave one.
Disclaimer: I totally own them. Which is why, in next week's episode, you'll see Cal grovelling and falling at the Altar of Gillian Foster and begging her to forgive his sorry, worthless ass. (if you don't see that, consider me a liar).
Further, I have a love affair with the dash "-" So, I apologize for that.
Now. On with the story.
Gillian Foster breezed into her office the next morning with an air of determination and purpose about her—not a hint of anger, a fact that worried Cal Lightman. He had been out late with the detective the previous evening, but in truth, he had scarcely been able to concentrate on a single word he or Detective Wallowski had exchanged.
He was too worried about what was going to transpire between he and Gillian the next morning. He kept imagining her in her tidy apartment seething at him—muttering and mumbling through clenched teeth. He imagined her fists balled up at her sides as she ran through the various ways she was going to tear him a new one in the morning. He had to hold back involuntary shudders as he thought of being subject to her wrath—even Wallowski noticed that he wasn't quite "there" on their date. He assured her nothing else was on his mind, but the woman wasn't stupid and he just couldn't get himself to focus.
In reality, Gillian Foster had gone home and cried. She hadn't meant to. She'd meant to be angry and indignant and pissed off—but when she got home to the stillness of her apartment, she found herself sullen. She looked around at the emptiness and admitted loneliness that surrounded her and leaned against the door, keys in her hand.
And this is what I have.
That was the resounding thought that ached through her mind as she absent mindedly ran her fingers along some of her possessions on her way to the kitchen. She turned on the radio on her way and the sounds of cool Jazz emanated through her apartment. She poured herself a glass of wine and took it upstairs. As she kicked her heels off and sat down on the edge of her perfectly made bed, she took a sip of her wine and as the taste hit the back of her throat she couldn't help herself—she cried.
Minutes later she found herself huddled on the bed in a fetal position, clutching a throw pillow, enveloped only by silence and the ghosts of a song that sounded vaguely familiar to her. Her mind kept going back to Cal and the moment they'd "shared" earlier in the evening—
He'd lied to her. He'd lied to her all along—made her believe that their relationship really was a two-way street. When all along she had just conveniently been going the same way as he had been—thus negating the institution of any sort of friction.
But it all came to a head tonight. She should be pissed. She really should be pissed—but all she felt was sad. All she felt was this overwhelming numbness invade her entire body and when she rose to look at herself in the mirror, the tracks of mascara running down her cheek felt absolutely foreign to her. The woman in front of her felt absolutely foreign to her.
With a sigh she went into the bathroom to wash her face of the remnants of the day.
And this is what I have left.
She did her best to put on her brave face that Friday morning. She went about her business and tried to act nonchalant. She didn't go see Cal as she knew he'd expected her to. He expected her to rage. If she were completely honest with herself, that's what she had expected, too.
They were both stranded in unfamiliar territory. Her heart felt a little bit broken, which she hadn't felt in a very long time. Since before Alec. With Alec, it was a gradual break. She had fallen out of love with him a little bit each day before the divorce finally came, so she didn't have to deal with the tragedy that inevitably came with it. She had been tucking away the tragedy in the corner of her mind each day, facing it head on bit by bit.
This—her situation with Cal—was an entirely different can of worms. She hadn't seen this coming. No, in fact, there had been times when she'd seen the exact opposite of this coming.
She hadn't expected him to rally against her the way that he had—she hadn't expected his meanness. That was a quality he usually reserved for everyone but her. She had come to believe that she was different. That Cal was different to, for and because of her.
He had proven her wrong last night.
She wasn't expecting Cal to show up at her office midday when he did.
He knocked slightly, didn't wait for a reply and stuck his head in tentatively. Trepidation was all over his face as his eyebrows shot up slightly. His body was careful to stay outside the door, his head just popping in.
She glanced at him and raised her eyebrows in a question.
He let out air and it seemed to settle in the room—this thick something between them: "We gonna talk about this?" He asked, cautiously.
She could see his body was tensed up, prepared for her rage. He was unprepared for her deflation.
"Talk about what, Cal?" she asked tiredly as she placed the cap back on her pen and stuck it in her top drawer.
His mouth made a slight 'o' and he pushed the shoulder open with his door before stepping across the threshold.
It didn't escape her that he didn't even ask if he could come in. She thought about commenting on it, but decided against it.
"Seriously?" He asked. He took the liberty of plopping down in her chair and rested his elbow on his knee and his chin on his open palm. His fingers drummed his mouth as he looked intently at her face.
She sighed, "Yes, seriously." she replied, her frustration barely creeping in to her voice, "What do you want me to say, Cal?"
He looked genuinely confused at this—in truth, he was genuinely confused. Why was she not yelling at him? He couldn't understand it.
She crossed in front of her desk, leaned up against it and folded her arms over her chest.
"I mean, really, Cal, just what do you want me to say?"
Perplexed, he treaded carefully "I—I don't know."
She rolled her eyes. "Because whatever you want me to say, I'll just go ahead and say it, Cal. I mean, really, that's how this relationship works, isn't it? You tell me what to do—I do it. Anything else is overstepping some imaginary boundary, it seems."
"Foster, that's not true…" he started.
"Oh, it's not?" She questioned, letting her hands fall to her sides. "What was last night, then?" she tilted her head slightly to the right.
"Last night was…" he trailed off. He had no bloody idea what last night was and to pretend to try to explain it seemed much more effort than he was currently willing to give, particularly because he knew there was a snowball's chance in hell that she'd buy it.
"Exactly, Cal." she stated as she crossed to sit in the chair across from him. "You told me once that you valued my opinion—but it seems that it's only of value when it's the same as yours."
"Now, wait a bloody minute—" he began.
"No, Cal. You don't get to be angry about this. You don't." She said firmly, though anger still wasn't anywhere in her bloodstream. All she could feel was profound sadness. She did her best to keep it out of her words.
Silenced, he sat looking at her expectantly.
"You know, up until last night, I thought I knew how this—" she gestured between them "worked. I honestly believed we were in a partnership, that I was a valuable asset to this corporation—that I was a valuable asset to you."
He opened his mouth to speak, but she continued "But I didn't realize that all this was simply an elaborate dance—a carefully calculated, on your part, arrangement. I'm supposed to behave one way and one way only and it's to be the way that you prefer or no other way at all. If I behave contrary to your liking, we're through." She finished and looked at some fixed point on the floor instead of at him.
"You finished?" He asked, his temper flaring up again.
"Probably not." She admitted.
"Well, it's my turn then. None of that was what last night was about."
"What was it about then, Cal?"
"You froze my bloody assets!" he exclaimed as though this should be reason enough—his voice going up slightly in pitch.
She just shook her head. "And there you go again—mine, me, my—I'm to obey you, Cal. And I didn't realize that until last night. Not fully, anyway. But last night I realized that I've been struggling with these etiquettes for the last few months and I'm just so damn tired, Cal. You're selfish is what you are. And everything is yours—this company, these cases, this science—hell, any valuable contribution I could make would inherently be yours then."
He scoffed, his anger getting the best of him "Valuable contribution?"
She got up then and returned to the seat at her desk. For the first time she felt a quick flash of anger—she felt it enter her and shake hands with the sadness that had taken up residence. She took a moment to nurse the anger before she spoke—and then she manufactured some anger, faking it as best she could "Fuck" she exhaled, letting her exasperation show through, "What do you want from me, Cal?" She rested her cheek on her hand. "What the hell do you want from me?"
He considered her for a moment. That was a damn good question. It was one he'd been asking himself for years now. One day he thought he knew the answer, the next day he had no clue what he wanted from her.
He looked away from her for the first time then. His frustration still controlled him and his words came out angrier than he'd anticipated "I want you to mind your own bloody business, Foster. That's what I want."
She just stared at him and blinked a few times—she had no words at that particular moment.
"I want you to treat the people I bring into this company with a little respect, Foster, that's what I want."
She did speak then. "You mean Wallowski." It wasn't a question.
"Yeah," he waved his arm around, "Her. Clara. People."
She laughed a little indignant laugh—"Do you mean people, Cal? Or do you mean women? "
"What's the difference?"
Her eyes shone. "There's a difference. You know there's a difference." At his silence she continued—"Let me get this straight: You want me to treat the women you bring into this company and then fuck with a little respect?"
Her voice was still not angry, but Cal flinched at her abrupt language.
"Yeah." Was all he could say.
She leaned back in her chair and folded her arms, observing him. The sadness washed over her again and she let out a little noise when it made its way all the way down to her toes: "That is so rich, Cal. You get what you give." she stated, her eyes boring into his.
"What's that mean?"
"It means," she folded her hands on the desk, "that you ask of me what you refuse to give to me."
"You think I don't respect you?" he observed, putting the pieces together.
She nodded her head. "I know you don't."
He gave her an inquisitive look.
"Mother Superior?" she offered up.
"You practically chased us into the hall!" he said defensively.
"Stop mothering me?"
"You were mothering me—I'm a grown man!"
She let out a little sigh of disgust and her facial expression matched the sentiment, "And this is the problem, Cal, it really is. You don't consider anyone else's feelings before you act." She cocked her head to the side, "Well, now, that's not really true is it? There are feelings you consider" She placed emphasis on the word, letting him know exactly what she meant, "just never mine."
It was his turn to let out a little noise "Oh, please," he followed this with a gesture of his hand as though he was waving me off.
She chuckled mirthlessly. "Tell me, then, Cal—let me get this straight—out of our relationship you get a friend, someone to talk to when you need it, someone to do your dirty work, someone to pull you out of messes, someone to take care of the financials—you're also supposed to get someone to smile and curtsy to the endless parade of women you bring in here. Sometimes you even get a punching bag," her memory flashed back to the night previous before she continued "Tell me Cal, because I'm very curious, what do I get out of our relationship?" She looked at him expectantly, palms outward.
He considered her face—he watched the pain flash across it. He had expected anger. He could deal with her anger—he was finding it harder to combat her pain and sadness. His mind mulled over her words—they had been spoken calmly, almost completely free of malice save for the last bit, but he still couldn't help the way they hit him in the stomach. He felt the air in the room, thick and heavy, and he brought a hand up to his eyes and rubbed them, then pinched the bridge of his nose.
He shouldn't have said it—he knew at the time that he shouldn't have said it, but he had been acting irrationally and not himself the past few days and so he did.
He looked at her through lidded eyes trying to convey how tired he was of the conversation and situation—still pinching the bridge of his nose he said "A paycheck?" and never took his eyes off of her.
He watched the emotions that passed over her face—he could see them plain as day as she didn't have time to try to control them.
He saw shock, then confusion, and a slight bit of anger before sadness set in again. The oblique eyebrows intrigued him less than the tears that seemed to immediately well in her eyes—her lip trembled and she bit it to try to hide that she was getting ready to cry.
He watched her take a deep breath and steady herself by placing her palms flat on the desk in front of her. She took a few seconds to compose her self and then she looked down at the desk.
"A paycheck." She breathed out and shook her head slightly. "Yeah." Cal watched as she steeled her face—"I can't do this anymore, Cal." She stated, looking him straight in the eye. Though he wasn't an expert in voices, he did recognize the resignation evident in her voice.
Cal felt a tingle run through his body at her words. It was the adrenaline coursing its way through his body—he couldn't hide the panic that flashed across his face—
"What's that mean?"
She got up and he followed suit, she tried to walk past him to her bookshelf and he caught her wrist in his hand—"Don't." She said, glancing at where their skin touched and then focusing on his eyes.
He immediately released her, but his voice was full of panic and his hazel eyes bore into her blue when he repeated himself, something he loathed to do, "What does that mean?"