A/N: Hello! Welcome to this fic! This is actually something I'd been wanting to write for years, albeit for different characters- then Cal and Gillian came along, and here we stand- or sit, as it were! I'll say more at the end of this chapter- I'll change the summary in later chapters to more accurately reflect what's going on, but since this first chapter rather hinges on not knowing, precisely, what is going on, I'm leaving it a bit of a mystery for now. Therefore, if you're joining the story in progress, I apologize!
Hope you have as much fun with this story as I'm having- more, if I'm lucky! ;)
Cal Lightman strode into the building of the Lightman Group with a spring in his step that had recently been absent. He felt in a good mood—and he'd had far too few of those as of late.
The reasons for his sour moods were plentiful—first, there was the fact that his daughter was nearly 18 and headed to college next year and she was looking at colleges located all the way on the other side of the country. Then there was the ever-present tension with his ex-wife which only seemed to be exacerbated by their daughter preparing to leave for college. However, perhaps the biggest reason for his foul moods stemmed from his relationship with his business partner and friend, Gillian Foster.
Their relationship had been rather off-kilter, lately, to say the least—but recently, they'd experienced a shift which had made him a decidedly happier individual. Something between them had changed—somehow fixed itself and things felt lighter between them when once they felt heavy—they were back to normal, and that fact alone did wonders to lift his spirits.
Cal said hello to his assistant with a smile and headed down the hallway to his office where he dropped his coat, picked up a case file and headed back out again.
He walked a little further down the hall way until he rounded the corner and saw his business partner through the glass walls of her office. She was clad in a red shirt, a black pencil skirt and sensible black heels that still somehow made her calves look amazing, even while she was sitting down. Cal smiled as he observed the way her body fit perfectly into her chair as she slumped over slightly, intently reading a piece of paper before her.
Cal didn't knock on the door. Instead, he nudged his way inside, "Hey, Foster," He said, "Could you take a look at this file for a minute?"
At the sound of his voice, Gillian's head shot up and Cal watched as anger passed over her face.
"Jesus, Cal!" She exclaimed, "Don't you ever knock?" She asked, fixing him with a stern look.
"No," He said, shrugging. Cal tilted his head in confusion. It was the truth; he never knocked, and Gillian never seemed to mind. He told her as much: "You never seemed to mind before." He said, matter-of-factly.
Gillian shifted slightly in her chair, pressing further down into it. Cal watched her body language with intense curiosity. Cal was, of course, always interested in her body language, but he was exceedingly curious because she was acting rather strangely.
"Well, today, I do." She said.
"Oh yeah?" Cal asked, squinting slightly at her, "Why?" He questioned, his head tilting to the left as he spoke.
Cal watched as Gillian's body tensed and her hand—the one closest to the paper on her desk—twitched almost imperceptibly.
Cal quirked an eyebrow. "What's on the paper, Gillian?" He asked, his voice laced with curiosity.
Gillian's eyes went wide and Cal knew immediately that he'd hit the proverbial nail on the proverbial head.
Gillian knew she'd been found out and she moved to cover the paper with both her hands. "Nothing." She said, her chin jutting out in defiance.
"Oh, really?" Cal said, inching closer to her desk.
"Really." She said with a slight nod.
"Oh, now that's a lie." He observed as he tossed the case file down on her desk.
"Come on, now." He said, "What is it?" At her look, he smiled, "Something serious, then, yeah?"
Gillian pursed her lips, "Cal…" She said, her voice a warning. "No reading coworkers." She said, reminding him of their rule, her voice serious.
"Now you know I've never been a fan of that one, love." He said, "What's on the paper?" He asked again.
Cal watched as Gillian pressed her palms down harder on the paper. If Cal's interest had been caught earlier, it was absolutely piqued now and he made a move toward her. Anticipating the move—after all, she could read faces, too—Gillian folded her body over her desk so that she was protecting the paper on it with her torso. Cal lunged for the paper, but he came into contact with Gillian's shoulder instead.
"Cal!" She exclaimed, "Stop! This is highly unprofessional!" She said, but she was biting back laughter as she watched his face.
"So sue me." He said, and a devilish grin crossed his face. Before Gillian had a chance to react, Cal's hands were at her sides and he was moving his fingers back and forth.
Gillian dissolved into fits of giggles as Cal tickled her in what was one of her most ticklish spots. Cal's fingers kept it up, even as Gillian gasped for air—she had yet to relinquish the paper from her body's protective hold.
"Stop, Cal!" She said, barely able to get the words out, "Stop!" She repeated on an inhale as his fingers grazed a particularly sensitive spot.
"Not until I see what's on that paper, darling." Cal responded, laughing as he tickled her but also feeling an odd sense of arousal as she writhed under his touch. He'd often dreamt about Gillian writhing under his touch but under decidedly different circumstances.
Gillian fought for a few seconds longer, but ultimately the torture was too much and she yelled, "Fine!" as she sat upright in her chair.
Her sudden motion backward caused Cal's hand to graze her breast slightly and she inhaled sharply at the contact. Cal felt his arousal intensify as he heard the sound and as his brain registered what his hand had just brushed against.
His eyes shot to Gillian's face—but he couldn't tell whether the color that graced her cheeks was from the contact or simply because she had just been mercilessly tickled.
The truth was that the color on Gillian's face was a result of a mixture of both of those elements.
Cal cleared his throat and turned his attention to the paper in front of him. He picked it up and read the printed words. His eyebrows climbed a little higher as he read down the paper.
When he finished, he turned his gaze back to Gillian, whose coloring had returned to normal but who was still trying to catch her breath. She shifted uncomfortably in her chair.
"Ah," Cal said, waving the paper lightly, "Something very serious."
Gillian rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest, leaning back further in her chair. She glanced down at her lap and then returned her gaze to Cal who was, of course, studying her very intently.
"Are you going?" He asked, nodding toward the paper.
Gillian shook her head, "No." She said, "Absolutely not."
Cal smiled softly at her, "But," He said, "You're cordially invited."
Gillian laughed softly at his humor—"Even so," Her voice was quiet, "I'm not going."
Cal looked at her hard and Gillian watched as what could only be described as tenderness flickered across his face, "And why not?"
Gillian sighed and uncrossed her arms—she waved her hand in front of her face, "I don't see a point."
"Gillian." Cal said, setting the paper down on her desk, and inching closer to her. It was an awkward stance for him, but he was attempting to impart the gravity of the situation: "This is your twenty year high school reunion, love—don't you kind of have to go?"
Gillian shook her head, "No." She said, "I absolutely don't." At his look, Gillian sighed, "There's no point in me going, Cal—why should I go?" She asked, her shoulders rising slightly at the question.
Cal pressed his lips together and his eyes searched her face. He saw many things there—among them fear and, he thought, sadness. They confused him. "Why shouldn't you go?" He questioned, leaning against her desk.
"Cal, why would I go? To show off my divorce?" She asked, sarcasm dripping from her words, "Or my lack of family?" She said, her voice quieter—sadder as she looked at him, her eyes bright with many emotions—including anger.
Suddenly, Cal understood part of her reluctance to go; he sensed there was more. He offered her a sympathetic smile before he spoke gently, "No. To show off your brilliant career—your Ph.D., how gorgeous you turned out to be." He said, waggling his eyebrows.
Gillian arched her eyebrow at him and she couldn't help but laugh in spite of herself at the face he made. She sighed heavily, and shook her head.
"You have to go, Gillian," He said again, curling his fingers around the edge of her desk.
"So, what?" She asked, "I'm just supposed to show up to my high school reunion—alone, I might add—and say 'Hello, everyone, I'm divorced, still single, no children to speak of'?" She asked, and Cal didn't miss the pained look that crossed her face.
He smiled at her, "Yes." He answered simply, "Except you'll need to show off your wonderful career, your degrees, your research." He offered, "And you don't go alone, you bring a date."
Cal nearly laughed at the expression that crossed her face—"A date, huh?"
Cal grinned. "Yep." He looked at her as silence fell between them. Rolling his eyes slightly, he said in an affected voice, "Why, thanks, Foster, I'd love to accompany you to your 20 year high school reunion."
Gillian's mouth fell open slightly, and she stumbled, "Uh, no." She said, shaking her head, "I don't think so. Thanks for the offer, but no thanks."
Cal smiled, "Foster, I wouldn't dream of denying you the opportunity to show off your fabulous business partner to all your high school mates." He said, grinning at her.
Still, she shook her head, "No way, Cal."
Cal laughed and decided to change tactics, "Why the fear, eh, Foster?" He leaned his head nearer to her face, "What were you like in high school, anyway?"
Cal watched as some nebulous emotion that he couldn't describe flittered across her face. He watched her swallow hard and he instantly realized that he'd unwittingly touched on something—or perhaps several something's—from her past. Were he not in the process of trying to convince her to do something she didn't want to do, he would've pressed the matter. Instead, he made a mental note to return to the look and the topic for answers at a later date.
Cal reached his hand out and touched her arm in a comforting gesture. "In all seriousness, Foster," He said, the backs of his fingers brushing her arm through the sleeve of her red shirt, "You have to go." He maintained eye contact with her and saw something flit across her gaze, "It'll be alright," He assured, "I'll be there with you." He said, offering a smile.
She sighed, and shook her head, a small smile ghosting her lips—it wasn't quite genuine, but it was on its way there, "Fine." She said, narrowing her eyes at him, "But I just know I'm going to regret this," She said, "In more ways than one," She added.
Cal tilted his head to the side, puzzled by her addendum to the statement, but he smiled at her anyway, "Great," He said, moving around to the other side of her desk. He slid the case file in front of her, "Now, can you please take a look at this for me, love?"
Gillian sighed in an exaggerated manner, "Boy," She said, "It's just favor after favor with you, isn't it?"
Cal walked to the door of her office, but before he crossed the threshold, he turned to face her. He waggled his eyebrows and leered slightly. "Oh, you have no idea, darling." He said, grinning at her—she shook her head and laughed at his innuendo, "No idea." He reiterated as he left her office and walked down the hall to his own.
When inside, Cal leaned back in his desk chair and considered the interaction that had just taken place in Foster's office. He was excited that he'd get to share this particular experience with her—but he was also intrigued. He knew little about Foster's past and based on the looks she flashed him in her office, this was going to be his opportunity to learn more—the thought made him happy and apprehensive all at once.
Back in her office, Gillian ran her fingers along the edges of the invitation to her high school reunion and wrestled with the same emotions. She was happy that she'd be spending time with Cal—although she'd long since chosen not to examine the reasons for that too closely. But she was worried, too—
Deciding to focus on the positive, Gillian smiled as she turned her attention to the case in front of her—after all, Cal would owe her a favor, now. Several, actually—the thought left her feeling warm as she recalled his earlier innuendo.
Next chapter is Roadtriptiems! Yay!
Also, I'm horrible at titling things- and short of calling this fic "Reunion," I had no idea what to do. ha.
"We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude." - Charles R. Swindoll