A/N: Well, hello there! I have been getting questions about a sequel to "It's the Great Pumpkin, Cal Lightman" and here's my answer: YES! Now. This story will not be quite as purely flufftastic as the last one for OBVIOUS reasons (*cough* Zoe *cough*). So, I hope it will be as well received as the other one! Anyway!
I now present for your reading enjoyment (hopefully!):
A Cal Lightman Thanksgiving
"No." The voice assaulting Cal Lightman's ears was terse and unwavering.
"Funny," he said, "I wasn't aware that I'd asked a question."
Zoe Landau, clad in a navy blue pantsuit, leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms over her chest while raising an eyebrow at her ex-husband.
Cal Lightman was seated at his desk, a case file open in front of him—he looked at his ex-wife. Her long brown hair was pulled back at each side but still fell down over her shoulders and her expressive eyes were fixed on him as she flashed a contemptuous smirk.
"Let me get this straight," she said, her gaze narrowing slightly as her hands gripped the sides of her elbows, "You want Gillian Foster to come over to my house for Thanksgiving dinner?"
Cal nodded and placed his palms flat on the desk in front of him—"I don't see what's so wild about that." He said, simply, turning his head to the side.
Zoe laughed, then, but it was mirthless, "I'm not having Gillian over during our family holiday."
Cal arched an eyebrow at her—"Fine, Zoe. We can change the tradition a bit and we can have it at my house—Gillian and I will cook."
Zoe's gaze darkened and Cal watched as anger passed over her face. "No." She said again, shaking her head and sticking her chin out in defiance.
Cal pressed his hands into the desk rather hard, trying to control his anger. From years of experience he knew that getting mad at Zoe even when she was being particularly and unnecessarily unreasonable was never a good idea. He pushed himself back in his chair and placed his palms flat on his legs, instead, creating a rather open posture. Resisting the urge to speak through clenched teeth, he regarded her, "Let me get this straight? Roger will be coming to Thanksgiving dinner, but Gillian isn't allowed to come over?" Cal placed particular emphasis on the word 'allowed,' letting Zoe know in no uncertain terms precisely how he felt about that.
Zoe pursed her lips into a slight smile, "Yes, well." She uncrossed her arms, "Roger is my fiancé." She said, finally, holding up her left had so that Cal could see the ring.
A few months ago, Cal would've felt sick at the thought—he would have felt jealousy course through his veins at the thought of Roger and Zoe being engaged. Now, he felt nothing about it—a fact which irked Zoe endlessly. Cal knew she was testing him, and he read a hopeful sort of look on her face as she dangled the ring in front of him—she wanted to be jealous. For a brief moment, Cal considered obliging and allowing a jealousy he didn't actually feel pass over his face, but the thought felt like such a contradiction that he simply couldn't do it.
Cal sighed. "I know." He said, and he watched as Zoe placed her hands in her lap, wrung them together and bit her lip. He watched her face before he spoke again, unable to keep the slightest bit of anger out of his voice, "And Gillian is my—" He stopped, suddenly at a loss for words.
Zoe, not wanting to miss her opportunity, and seeing how flustered Cal was as his face scrunched up in confusion, laughed outright. Having lived with one of the world's foremost lie detection experts, she'd picked up a few things along the way, and Cal's discomfort did not go unnoticed by the tall brunette.
Laughing in a rather cruel sort of way she said, "Gillian's your—what, Cal? What is she?"
Cal remained silent, his mind still searching for the word that he simply couldn't find. Nothing he thought of seemed to fit. "She's my—" He began again, goaded by the look he saw on his ex-wife's face.
Zoe smiled, "Your girlfriend?" She asked, contempt evident in her voice. "Is that what she is, Cal?" She looked at him, and then she moved her arms to the arms of the chair, her elbows resting on each one, "Your lover? Is Gillian your lover, then?" She said, her eyes narrowing. "Funny, even after all this time, you still can't tell me what she is to you, can you?" The tone in Zoe's voice was one Cal recognized from their many fights about Gillian. It was a strange mixture of hurt, contempt and challenge—and it was a tone he rarely heard from Zoe in regard to anything but Gillian.
Cal flashed anger then, and Zoe read it straight away, and she opened her mouth to say something else, but Cal silenced her, "Enough, Zoe." He said, fixing her with his cool gaze.
She held her hands up in mock defense, "Hey, don't get mad at me because you still can't define what the hell you have with Little Miss Perfect." She said, tossing her hair slightly, her lips curling around the insult.
"Come on, Zo." He said, finally, looking at her, "Do you have to be so…" he trailed off, tilting his head to the right, "mean?" He finished.
Zoe regarded him coolly, not looking chagrined in the slightest. "Oh, please, Cal, lighten up." She said, her voice taking on a rather affected quality. In truth, she had always been put off by how protective Cal was of Gillian.
"I'd say the same to you," Cal said, glancing at her hands, both of which were grasping the arms of the chair so tightly that her knuckles were white.
Zoe sighed and flashed anger as she released her near death grip on the chair. "Whatever, Cal." She said, rolling her eyes.
Cal then crossed his arms over his chest, signaling that he was changing tactical approaches, "Look, Zo, up until now it's always been a family tradition to have Thanksgiving dinner at your place—just you, me, and Em." He paused for a moment, "And if you hadn't invited Roger over, it probably would have stayed like that," He lied, "But you did invite him—and so, I'm inviting Gillian this year, too." He finished.
Zoe's face remained rather blank, actually, but Cal was focused on her eyes—and her eyes were smoldering with anger and her nostrils flared a bit. Cal felt a sense of indignation rising up in him as well as an urge to lash out—he did his best to quell it, but failed as he spoke again, "Emily wants her there."
Cal felt those words float into the air between them and he almost regretted saying them as he watched Zoe's face contort in pure anger. Zoe had always rather hated the relationship Gillian had with Emily—it had come up more than a handful of times throughout the years and Cal knew her feelings on the matter. He nearly felt badly about bringing it up, but there was something about Zoe that brought out the urge to retaliate within him.
Zoe clenched her teeth and Cal watched as a myriad of emotions passed over her face. She opened her mouth to speak, and her words were venomous, "You asshole." She said, finally.
Cal squinted his eyes at her again, and then shrugged and smiled a little bit—silently agreeing with her. Silence fell between them and Cal sighed heavily as Zoe stared at him, "Look." He said, his voice pointed. "Gillian's coming to Thanksgiving dinner, end of story."
Cal watched as Zoe's face still held the anger, but also took on an air of resignation, "Fine." She said, finally, her voice flat.
Cal got up from his chair and said, "Well, darling, it was great of you to stop by, but I've got a meeting to attend to," Zoe rose, grabbed her purse from the floor at her feet and headed to the door. Cal opened the door for her and asked innocently, "What time should we be there on Thursday?"
Zoe rolled her eyes, "Three." She said, as she walked through the door.
Cal followed suit, following closely behind Zoe, "Lovely. I'll see if Gillian can make it, then."
At his words, Zoe spun on her heel and stopped. Cal nearly ran into her. Her eyes were filled with anger and also a bit of humor. Cal smiled at her then, the smile that showed all of his teeth. Shrugging, he walked passed her and called out over his shoulder, "See you Thursday, Zo."
Zoe sighed, made some noncommittal remark and watched as Cal Lightman swaggered down the hallway, an unusual spring in his step. As Zoe walked out of The Lightman Group building she knew, without a doubt, precisely what caused that spring in his step. She pushed the door open. Or rather, precisely whom caused it.
Don't worry- Gillian will make an appearance in the next chapter! :)