So, I started this fic MONTHS ago, when Zoe was still on the show, still dating Roger (presumably) and still sleeping with Cal occasionally. Things have changed on the show and these facts are no longer true, but having come back to this fic with 4 and a half thousand words written I wasn't about to completely abandon it. So, let's turn back the clock to season two, and it should make sense ;-)
Oh, and with regards to lifts/elevators – I toyed with the idea of Cal referring to it as an elevator since he lives in America, but decided to stick with him calling them lifts, as he is English after all ;-)
Disclaimer: I own zilch.
No Way Out
Gillian Foster exhaled sharply as she stepped into the elevator, jabbing at the button for the first floor with a little more ferocity than usual.
"Hold the doors!" She looked up, watching the woman who had caused her sunny mood to descend into an altogether cloudier one that morning stalking towards her, her heels making a loud clicking noise on the hard floor.
The doors had started to close, and for a split second Gillian was tempted to just let them. So tempted. But she wasn't that kind of person, and knew a petty retaliation wouldn't achieve anything except making her look immature. And perhaps a modicum of satisfaction.
She hit the button, jolting the doors open again as Zoe barged in, brushing against Gillian's shoulder as she did so.
Another brief exchange of words, a frosty atmosphere, an avoidance of eye contact – it was their usual code of conduct. They stood, shoulder to shoulder, both facing the front, waiting for the doors to slide open so they could escape the confines of the steel box and go their separate ways.
Not that Gillian would be free of her for long – thanks to Cal agreeing to help her with yet another case. Her nostrils flared at the memory of Zoe's triumphant expression when Cal told Gillian about their new case, and the complete lack of understanding on his part as to why this was a bad idea. Thanks to his inability to say no to his ex-wife, Gillian was now going to be seeing more of her as she invaded their workplace, bringing her hard stare, cold words and seeming desire to mess with her ex-husband's feelings to the forefront of their lives. Again.
Zoe was tapping her toe impatiently, clearly as keen to be free of Gillian as Gillian was of her. The elevator light showed they were now at the second floor; only a few more moments and both women would be able to walk away, perhaps with a civil but less than warm 'goodbye'. Until tomorrow, Gillian thought, clenching her jaw slightly.
Suddenly the elevator jerked, causing Gillian's hand to shoot forwards to steady herself. A loud grinding noise accompanied another jolt before the elevator became completely still.
"What the hell…" Zoe was the first to speak. She started punching at the buttons, but nothing happened. According to the display they were still on the second floor, but the reality was, Gillian realised, they were actually between floors two and one. Which was not the best place to be.
"We've broken down," she said, her brow creasing with worry.
"Thanks for that assessment." The sarcasm in Zoe's voice caused Gillian to exhale slightly, but she didn't respond. Instead she stepped forwards and delicately pressed the emergency button. After a few seconds of static, she recognised the voice of Mike, the Lightman Group's janitor.
"Mike," she said, "it's Gillian. I'm stuck in the elevator; it's broken down between floors one and two."
"Ah," he said. "There was a slight glitch with that elevator the other day, I thought we'd got it sorted. Well, don't worry. We'll have you out of there in no time. Are you alone?"
"No," she said, glancing at Zoe. "I'm with Zoe Landau."
There was a brief pause, before Mike's voice resumed. "Okay." He may have only uttered one word, but Gillian recognised the faint amusement in his voice. "Well, at least you'll have someone to talk to while you wait. I know I said we'd have you out of there in no time, but since I don't really have a choice but to be honest with you… it could be about half an hour. Won't really know 'til I can have a better look."
Gillian exhaled slowly. "Okay. Thanks Mike."
"Thank me when you're out of there. For now, just sit tight. The safety cables aren't damaged, so there's no danger of the lift plummeting downwards – we just need to try and get the thing moving again. Okay?"
"Just press the button again if you need to talk. It's two-way, so if I need to say something to you my voice will just come through."
She nodded, even though he couldn't see her. "No problem. We'll be fine. Thanks."
"Speak to you soon," he said, and Gillian released her finger from the call button with a small sigh.
"So…" She turned towards Zoe who was scowling, her eyes narrowed, her lips thinned.
"This is the last thing I need right now, being stuck in here…"
With you, Gillian added silently, sensing the remains of the thought crossing Zoe's mind, even if she was too polite to say it out loud.
"Well, it's hardly convenient for me either. But you heard what Mike said; we shouldn't be in here too long."
"It could be half an hour." Zoe tossed her hair back with an irritated sigh. "Half an hour, trapped in here, no way out…"
They made eye contact as both digested what this would mean. Up to half an hour, or possibly more, stuck in a steel box with nothing to do but talk. To each other.
Zoe tore her gaze away first, sitting down with a frustrated sigh and resting her back against the wall. "God, this is ridiculous. Can't you get elevators that work in this damn building?"
"I'm pretty sure this isn't the first time an elevator has ever broken down in the world," Gillian said, sitting down opposite her. "And it was your decision to come here. You wouldn't be stuck here now if you hadn't come to us with the case."
Zoe snorted. "So that's what this is about. You're annoyed that I hired you? I would have thought, with your current financial situation, you'd be grateful for any case you can get."
Gillian shook her head as she bit back a retort that she might regret. Who is responsible for our financial situation? was a more pleasant version of the thought crossing her mind, but she opted instead for, "I wasn't aware our financial situation was any of our clients' concern."
"Well, I'm not just any client, am I?"
"No," Gillian said as evenly as she could. "You're not."
Zoe stretched her legs out in front of her, and Gillian shifted to the side so as not to be jabbed in the side by her heels. The silence was punctuated by Zoe huffing, and Gillian eventually let out an exasperated sigh.
"What?" Zoe challenged, and Gillian shook her head.
"No, come on, say it. We're stuck in here, we might as well talk. So why don't you tell me why you're so pissed with me, Gillian? Because you think I shouldn't have come to you with the case, is that it?"
"Why ask if you know?" Gillian muttered, and Zoe scoffed.
"So what bothers you the most? Having me around here? Or the fact that Cal made a decision even though he knew you wouldn't like it?"
"I'm just concerned about him, that's all."
That made Zoe laugh out loud; a laugh edged with bitterness. "Oh, I know you care for him. Don't think I've been blind to that all these years. But when are you going to accept that he's a big boy who can make his own decisions? He doesn't need you mollycoddling him all the time."
That comment hit home, and Gillian saw Zoe's face twist into a smile as she recognised the reaction her words elicited. "I'd rather mollycoddle him than break his heart."
"Oh, please. Don't give me that. My being here has no more effect on Cal than my presence in his life in any other way. What, you think he can't bear to work with me just because I divorced him?"
"It's not you being here that messes with his head, it's what you say, what you do."
"Remind me again why what I say or do is any of your business?" she fired, and Gillian just shook her head.
"When it affects someone I care about, I consider it my business."
Zoe scoffed. "So, it's okay for you to interfere in his life, but not vice versa?" Her eyes flashed when she saw the surprise on Gillian's face. "Yes, I know about your 'line'. You won't let him pry into your life, even if he does it because he cares," she flashed contempt briefly, "but it's okay for you to tell him what he should and shouldn't be doing when it concerns his marriage?"
"You're not married anymore," Gillian said flatly, and was certain she saw sadness flicker over Zoe's face for a fraction of a second; then it was gone, and her icy glare was back in place.
"I came to Cal because I need his help with the case. But it's none of your damn business how we conduct ourselves."
"So, you don't think sleeping with your ex while your fiancé's at work is, oh I don't know, morally reprehensible?"
Zoe's scowl grew deeper. "Did he tell you about that? Or did you use your amazing powers of deduction to stick your nose in where it didn't belong, again?"
"Do you even know how much you hurt him when you left?"
Her sudden change of conversation caught Zoe off-guard; she opened her mouth, then promptly closed it again. Eventually deciding on how to respond, she spoke quietly, but with unmistakable anger. "You have no right to judge me."
"You walk back into his life when it suits you, make demands of him that you know he'll accept because he can't say no to you, flirt with him just enough to make him wonder if you made a mistake walking away from your marriage, sleep with him when you feel like it then ditch him and run back to your comfortable life when you've had enough. Don't tell me you'd do any of that if you actually cared about him."
"You know nothing about me, or my life. You think that just because you can read facial expressions it makes you a master of understanding human emotions. You know, that's the same kind of arrogance that is Cal's downfall – his God complex is starting to rub off on you."
"So you don't feel guilty at all about the way you treat him? Or Roger, for that matter. You don't see anything wrong in it?"
Zoe let out a long breath through her teeth. "I can see why it would be difficult for you to understand how anyone could cheat, or lie, or even make a goddamn mistake – did it ever occur to you that just because you're Little Miss Perfect, that doesn't mean the rest of the world is?"
"I'm not perfect!" Gillian shifted her position slightly, feeling her lower back start to ache a little. Zoe looked away from her, but met Gillian's eyes when she spoke again. "I'm not perfect," she repeated softly.
"That's hardly what Cal thinks."
"Why does it still bother you what he thinks?"
Zoe's expression softened slightly, and she showed a microexpression of sadness before meeting Gillian's gaze with a powerful stare. "He's the father of my child."
"Yes, he is." Gillian tried to keep her face impassive. She watched as Zoe chewed on her bottom lip thoughtfully, her eyes on her hands as she twirled them in her lap.
"You ever think maybe you should just stop interfering in his life?"
Gillian drew in a sharp breath. "I don't think…"
"What? You don't think it's my place to say something like that? Come on, Gillian. We're stuck in here, for god knows how long. And there are a thousand places I'd rather be, believe me, but since I don't have a choice in the matter… Why not talk about how you're always trying to turn my ex-husband against me?"
"Zoe, I've never tried to turn Cal against you. I don't always agree with his decisions to hire you, and this company is half mine so I have a right to…"
"Please." Zoe faced twisted with contempt as she looked at Gillian. "Don't pretend that your decisions are all about the business. I'm a lawyer, and I was married to Cal for fifteen years. You think I can't tell when people are lying sometimes?" Gillian opened her mouth to answer, but Zoe ploughed on before she could stop her. "You and Cal, you're just the same. You think your talent in this area diminishes everyone else's abilities. Well, just because Michael Jordan played pro doesn't mean I can't shoot a hoop sometimes."
"Zoe… let's not argue."
"God, there you go again! Why do you have to do that? Why do you have to be so nice? It's infuriating."
Gillian swirled all the things she felt like saying around her mouth, before choosing her words carefully. "You'd rather I wasn't nice to you?"
"Well, let's face it. You don't like me. And when you don't like someone but you're pleasant to their face, doesn't that make you a bit of a bitch?"
"Excuse me?" She involuntarily leaned forwards, her eyes blazing, but Zoe merely shrugged. "And what does that make you? Because despite your frosty demeanour, you've been civil enough to me since the day we met. But I know you don't really like me either. So, you're calling yourself a bitch, is that it?"
Zoe glared at her, and Gillian responded by raising an eyebrow at her, purposefully maintaining eye contact. After a moment, Zoe looked away, then reached for her bag and pulled out a nail file.
Gillian sighed as she watched her file her nails as though she were attacking them. She opened her mouth to speak, then closed it again. Come on, Mike, she thought, tilting her head back against the cool metal once more and closing her eyes. Get me out of here.
"Oi, anyone seen Foster?"
Peter, one of the lab technicians, looked up as he heard Dr Lightman's voice. "Yeah, she's stuck in the elevator."
"Stuck in the elevator. It broke down, between floors one and two."
"Is she okay?" Peter heard the concern in his boss's voice, and replied quickly to alleviate any panic rising over Gillian Foster's safety.
"Yeah, she's fine." He followed Cal as he started to march towards the elevator. "It broke down, but the safety cable's working, it's not posing any danger. Mike's working on it now; he said they've just got to try and get it moving again, or get the doors open so they can get them to try and squeeze out onto the first floor."
"Them? How many people are stuck in there?"
"Er, just two…" Peter paused for a second as they reached the elevator, then continued hurriedly at the look of impatience on Lightman's face. "Dr Foster and… Ms Landau."
Cal's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Bloody hell." He stared at the metal doors which separated him from his business partner and his ex-wife. "They're going to kill each other."
Inside the elevator, neither woman had spoken for several minutes. Gillian was just beginning to wonder if she should broach a neutral topic of conversation – what on earth could that be? – when Zoe suddenly broke the silence that stretched between them. "You want to know the truth?" Gillian looked up at her, intrigued. Zoe was leaning her head back against the wall, her eyes to the ceiling. "I mean, you probably know it anyway, it's your thing to spot how people are feeling, so I might as well just tell you." She clenched her jaw. "I've always been… jealous. Of you."
Gillian swallowed, feeling her eyebrows lifting in surprise. "Why?"
"Because, you… you're so…"
"Perfect?" Gillian supplied, using Zoe's word from earlier, and shook her head. "Because I'm not, you know."
"Look, it's not a big deal," Zoe said, meeting her eyes at last. "It's not like I go home every night and stick pins in a voodoo doll of you or anything. I've got a lot of things to be thankful for in my life, and, god knows, it's not like I wish I could actually be you…"
Gillian flashed her a small smile. "So…"
She shrugged. "You were a threat to me during my marriage, is it so inconceivable that those feelings haven't dissipated just because my marriage ended?"
Gillian's eyes widened. "I was never a threat to your marriage, Zoe," she said hurriedly, her face creased with concern.
"I don't mean I thought Cal was going to cheat on me… he might have thought about it a few times, maybe wished the two of you could be more than just friends or colleagues, I don't know – he can keep his cards pretty close to his chest when he wants to." She shook her head. "So maybe 'threat' is the wrong word. But the way you made me feel then…"
"How? How did I make you feel? I never meant to…" She trailed off, unsure of how to finish the sentence before Zoe had properly explained herself.
"You understood him," she said simply, "better than I ever could, or will. And he trusted you. He let you see his weaknesses, his secrets, his fears, his guilt, his dreams… he shared a part of himself with you that he never did with me. No matter how hard I tried, I could never break down that wall, never truly access that part of him that he was so desperate to keep locked away. But you did."
"Maybe that's because I wasn't his wife," Gillian said softly. "Perhaps the reason he tried to hide things from you was because he didn't want you to love him any less, to judge his mistakes, to feel differently about him were he to confess something he felt ashamed of or guilty about. But I… I'm just his business partner, so… it didn't matter so much what I thought."
Zoe snorted. "That's a pile of crap, and you know it. You're hardly just his business partner, you never were. I'm not talking romance here – not necessarily - but you two have something, I don't know. A bond of some kind. Maybe it's because of what you do, your shared skills and interests. I don't know," she said again with a small shrug. "But you always had this connection that I was never able to break, however much I wanted to."
"I'm sorry," Gillian said quietly. "I never knew you felt that way."
"I didn't think there was anything you were unaware of, with your remarkable skill," Zoe said, the bitter edge to her voice returning. There was something else on her face though, and even though Gillian knew she was on dangerous ground reading Zoe right now, she couldn't resist the urge to question her about it.
"Why do you feel guilty?"
Zoe's head snapped up in surprise, and she clenched her jaw. "Cal can't switch it off, either. Even if he says he will, says he'll try… he was always reading me, calling me on every little flicker of something he saw on my face."
"I'm sorry," Gillian apologised again. "I just wondered where that guilt came from. But you don't have to tell me; it's none of my business."
For a moment, Zoe didn't speak. Gillian switched her gaze to the still clamped shut doors holding them hostage, giving Zoe the privacy to express any emotion she wanted without her eyes seeing it all.
"I left him." There was raw emotion in her voice, and Gillian couldn't help turning her face back to Zoe.
"Do you regret it?" she asked quietly, realising that she was holding her breath as she waited for Zoe's answer.
"I think, in the long run, it was the right thing to do. We weren't working as a couple, we were tearing each other apart… it was no good for us, and it was certainly no good for Emily." Gillian nodded silently, and Zoe continued. "But I couldn't make it work. I failed as a wife. I couldn't stay with him… but you did."
"I'm not married to him," Gillian pointed out softly.
Zoe shrugged. "The amount of time you two spend together, you're as good as married, only without the physical intimacy. I'm assuming," she added, her eyes sharp and Gillian quickly nodded.
"Yes, we're not… I mean, we've never…"
Zoe nodded, a slight gleam of triumph in her eyes flashing for a moment, and then it was gone.
"But your relationship… you're still close. I walked away from him, and you stuck with him. Even after our marriage crumbled, here you are. His faithful companion, his loyal sidekick, his devoted friend. And I'm just the ex who shows up sporadically to mess with his head and possibly his heart."
"You're more than just his ex… you're the mother of his child. You'll always be an important part of his life."
"Maybe. But when it comes down to it… I didn't stay with him, and you did. And somehow I know you always will. You succeeded where I failed."
Gillian shook her head. "That's like comparing apples and oranges – my friendship with Cal and our professional relationship are worlds apart from your marriage. And our lasting friendship doesn't make you a failure – I hope you don't think I was a contributing factor to the end of your marriage?"
"I wouldn't credit you with that much importance." Some of Zoe's hostility was creeping back in, but by the way she was digging her nails into the soft skin on her wrists, Gillian knew she was far from okay.
"You talk as if my life has been so fantastic; you couldn't be further from the truth. And your little nickname for me, Little Miss Perfect? Very untrue. Look at me – I'm single, I live alone, I don't have any children. What have I got that you haven't?"
Zoe didn't need to answer, Gillian could sense Cal's name was on the tip of her tongue, but she would not allow it to hit the air, choosing instead to clamp her teeth down on her lip and say nothing.
"I have failures, I have faults, I have flaws," Gillian continued, watching closely as Zoe digested her words. She didn't seem to believe a word Gillian was saying.
Both women sighed at the same time, and all of a sudden Gillian wanted to laugh. She tried to suppress the urge, but then she caught Zoe's eye, and she couldn't contain it anymore. Suddenly they were both laughing, shoulders shaking, unable to stop.
"This is ridiculous." Gillian shook her head, wiping a tear from her eye. "And you know what's so funny? I've always been a little jealous of you."
"A little?" Zoe was quick to pick up on her choice of word, and Gillian smiled.
"Well… yes. Not totally jealous. But a little."
"A little's better than nothing." Zoe gave her a small smile. "Although I have a feeling you're just trying to make me feel better. Part of me resents the pity jealousy. Part of me thinks it's nice of you to try. Most of me still hates the fact that you can be so nice to me when I've been such a bitch to you."
Gillian shook her head. "It's not pity jealousy. You're strong, and confident, and you go for what you want. Those are all admirable qualities."
Zoe tilted her head to the side as she surveyed Gillian, watching as her eyes skirted the floor before eventually rising to meet hers. "And which of those qualities is it that you don't think you possess yourself? Because as far as I can see, you manage to be strong and confident, while still being…"
"Nice?" Gillian finished, and for a second laughter flowed between them again. "Look, Zoe… I know we've had our differences. And I'm not naïve enough to think that being stuck in an elevator together for twenty minutes is miraculously going to transform us into the best of friends, but…"
"But you've realised I'm not a complete and utter bitch, is that what you're saying?"
Gillian shook her head with a smile. "I suppose you could say that, yes. And you've realised… what, exactly?"
"That you're not always as nice as pie?"
Gillian laughed. "Okay. For the record, though..." She paused, unsure whether to say something that was likely to antagonise Zoe, seeing as they were just starting to push past some of the animosity between them. "I still don't agree with you cheating on your fiancé," she said, deciding to just be honest about what was on her mind.
"But it's nothing to do with you, is it?" Zoe pointed out. "Unless you're trying to give me a free therapy session?"
"Do you want one? It's not like we have anything else to do but talk..."
"Oh please." Zoe rolled her eyes. "What are you going to tell me? That there's some deep-hidden psychological reason why I've cheated on my fiancé?" She leant forward, forming her words carefully. "Maybe I'm just a cheater."
"You never cheated on Cal," Gillian said quietly, and Zoe's jaw clenched.
"He would have known if I had."
"So, what? This is all about seeing what you can get away with? You couldn't lie to Cal, so you're going to take the freedom you now have with the truth to the extreme?"
"Here we go again, more psychological evaluation. This has nothing to do with being able to lie to Roger. Believe it or not, I do actually feel guilty when I've lied to him, when I've..." She pulled a lipstick and mirror out of her purse, and started reapplying the deep red to her lips.
"Maybe it's not. Maybe it's more about not being able to let go of the past." Gillian watched Zoe's reaction, seeing the flicker of recognition on her face before Zoe snapped her mirror shut and tossed it back in her bag, along with the lipstick.
"You have no idea what it's like, Gillian. To leave a man you've spent so much of your life with, a man you loved... to feel guilty for hurting him..."
"You think I have no idea what it's like to feel guilt over a failed marriage? Hello? Did you not hear about my divorce?"
"Of course I did. Cal was practically giddy when he told me."
"I doubt that's true."
"Oh please." Zoe gave her a pointed look. "He's wanted Alec gone for years, surely you knew that?"
"Oh, and before you start getting all vain, I'm not saying it's because he has designs on you himself. Although…"
She held up a hand to silence her. "Maybe it will be about that, one day. Maybe it is now, hell, maybe it always has been about that, I don't know. But I think it was more about believing Alec wasn't good enough for you. He wants you to be with someone who really deserves you, you know?"
"Well, he's a good friend," Gillian said quietly.
"That's why you'll have to be the one to make the first move, you know that too, right?"
"Look, I know it's not my place to say any of this, and believe me, the last thing I want to be picturing right now is you and Cal together, but… if you do want something more to happen between you two, then I'm going to give you a piece of advice. He doesn't think he's good enough for you. And if you want to convince him otherwise, then you'll have to do just that. Convince him."
"Yeah, right, so the two of you can..."
"Oh, he'd never cheat on you," Zoe said quickly. "If you two did get together, he'd stop sleeping with me. I know that."
"How sweet," Gillian said dryly, and Zoe laughed.
"Yes, well... that's Cal for you."
"You know we're just friends," Gillian told her.
"Sure. For now."
"It's fine. That's all I'm saying. If anything more ever does happen between the two of you... well, I'm okay with it. He needs a good woman. And I think we've already established that you are a good woman, Gillian. As much as it pains me to admit it."
Gillian was about to respond when she felt the elevator start to move, and Mike's voice came through the speaker. "Gillian?"
She jumped up, pressing the button to speak to him. "Mike? You've got it working?"
"We're going to take you slowly down to the first floor," he said. "We'll have you out of there in about a minute."
"Great." She exhaled with relief, and turned to see Zoe gathering her bag and standing up.
"Well, Gillian, this has been fun," she said, a trace of amusement in her voice.
Gillian smiled. "You were right about the case."
"Oh?" Zoe raised her eyebrows. "It's a good case?"
"No," Gillian said with a smile. "You do need our help."
Zoe let out a small laugh as she shook her head.
They felt the elevator continue to move slowly, then the doors opened and Gillian sucked in the air from outside as she quickly stepped out. She wasn't exactly claustrophobic, but she didn't enjoy being in small, confined spaces for a length of time.
"Foster! You alright?" Cal was at her side in an instant.
"I'm fine, Cal."
He trailed his eyes up and down her body, paying particular attention to her face. "No scratches?"
"No, Cal, no scratches."
"You sure? 'cause she'll scratch, she likes to scratch. And bite, she's a biter..."
"Let's not bring our bedroom history into this conversation, Cal," Zoe said from behind Gillian. She caught the look on Zoe's face as she drank in the sight of Cal looking at Gillian with such concern, and gave her a warm smile.
"Ignore him, Zoe."
"I usually do. Well, I'll see you two tomorrow." She looked at Cal first, then Gillian, her mouth quirking slightly into a smile before she walked towards the door.
"What the bloody hell was that?"
"What was what, Cal?"
"That." He gestured to the door Zoe had just exited from. "You two. What was that?"
"You're surprised that we were stuck in an elevator together and didn't kill each other?"
She laughed softly. "You don't have much faith in either of us."
"Well, I wasn't expecting you two to look so... chummy."
"We were hardly chummy, Cal," she said as he started to guide her out the door, his hand on the small of her back.
"You were. She smiled at you. Zoe. Smiled at you. And you smiled at her. For you two, that's chummy."
"Well, I hardly think we're going to start meeting for coffee and shopping together, but let's just say we've reached an understanding."
"Yes. On some things at least," she said, exhaling slightly. "Now, where are we going?" she asked as they left the building.
"Thought you could do with some fresh air. Coffee?"
"Sure," she agreed as they started walking further away from the building.
"So?" he asked after a minute, and she turned to look at him, laughing at the exaggerated expression of questioning on his face.
"What did you two talk about in there?"
She strolled ahead, still laughing, and stopped when she reached the door of the nearest coffee shop. "That, Cal," she said as she pushed opened the door, "is something you're never going to know. What happens in an elevator stays in an elevator."
She giggled at the look on his face, and stepped inside the coffee shop, inhaling the delicious aroma.
"Fine," he said, stepping up to the counter behind her. "But just so you know, if you don't tell me, my imagination is going to go into overdrive. I'll imagine the two of you getting up to all sorts." He waggled his eyebrows at her, and she just laughed.
"Do what you like, Cal. My lips are sealed."
"How are you going to order your coffee then?"
"Ha ha. Changing the topic - we need to get those elevators serviced properly."
"Oh, I don't know. Be a laugh to see some of our employees stuck in there together. Or, you know, you and I could take a trip in one of them..."
"We're getting them serviced," she told him, ignoring his boyish grin and suggestive tone. "I'll speak to building maintenance when we get back. Now come on. What do you want?"
He raised his eyebrows. "What do I want, Foster? Let me see..."
"Black Americano, medium," she told the barista when he looked at them to see what they wanted. "And a large mocha with whipped cream and a flake."
She saw Cal shaking his head in amusement. "What?" she asked innocently. "Now, didn't you say you were treating me to coffee after my traumatic experience?"
"Stuck in a lift with Zoe, now that is traumatic. Yes, this one's on me."
He paid for the drinks, and a few minutes later they were sat at a table, Cal sipping his coffee while Gillian swirled her flake in her mocha. He couldn't take his eyes off her as she finally took a sip, leaving traces of whipped cream on her lips.
"What?" she asked at the look on his face.
"Nothing, nothing. Just imagining." He grinned at her.
She shook her head and took a bite of her flake, watching his eyes hone in on her even more.
"You know what else I was thinking, Foster?"
"No, Cal," she said. "What were you thinking?"
He leant forwards, his eyes flickering from her eyes to the hint of whipped cream on her upper lip. "We really need to get cameras in the lifts."
She laughed. "You're going to pay for that, are you? Besides, we're not the only ones who use the building."
"We should get a nice little bonus from this new case," he said with a shrug.
"I bet you will," she said with slight quirk of the eyebrow, which of course he didn't miss.
"Something you want to share, love?"
"Not at all." She took another sip of her coffee.
"You know, I could just ask Zoe what you two talked about. She's much easier to read than you."
"Just leave it, Cal," she said lightly, taking another bite of her flake.
"So it was me, then."
"Cal," she said, a gentle warning in her tone.
"Okay, okay, I get it," he said, sitting back and picking up his coffee cup. "I'll ask no more."
"Good." She smiled as she raised her own mug to her lips. Fragments of her earlier conversation with Zoe kept floating back to her, along with the guilt she'd read on Zoe several times. "You know... she's not so bad. Zoe."
"No? Try being married to her."
"I'll settle for a professional relationship, thanks. Perhaps you should too," she added, and he didn't reply. Instead he imagined, again, what his best friend and his ex-wife had talked about when they were stuck together, and how much of it was about him. Then he suddenly imagined what it would have been like if the three of them had been trapped together, and nearly spilt his coffee as he burst out laughing.
"What?" Gillian asked, surprised by the sudden outburst. "What's so funny?"
"Nothing. I was just thinking... it could have been worse, you know. Worse than being stuck in the lift with Zoe, I mean."
"Yeah," he said. "You could have been stuck in there with me and Zoe."
She laughed. "That would, indeed, have been a nightmare." She let out a shudder.
"That bad?" he queried.
"Oh," she shook her head. "No. I was just thinking, again, about being stuck in there. No way out... it's not a nice feeling."
"I imagine it's not."
"Kind of how I feel about our partnership sometimes," she teased, and he gave her a hurt look.
"Surely not, love? Besides, you know where the door is. You can leave anytime you want. But don't," he added in a hurry, reaching out to grab her hand across the table.
She laughed. "Don't worry, Cal. I'm not going anywhere."
"Good." He gave her a satisfied smile, but didn't release her hand. She lifted her mug with her other hand, drinking more of her coffee as she surveyed him with an amused smile.
Half an hour later they re-entered the building, and Cal marched straight towards the elevator and pressed the button. "Gill?" he said, looking around when he saw she was no longer beside him.
"No way," he heard her call, and when he looked to where her voice was coming from he saw she was at the door leading to the stairwell. "I'm not trusting that thing again today. No way."
Cal glanced at the elevator doors as they slid open; he knew Mike would have checked and fixed the problem, or he wouldn't let the elevator run. He thought about how many stairs there were between him and his office. And he looked at his business partner disappearing through the door and up the stairs. Then, with a quiet laugh, he headed towards the stairs, jumping up them two at a time until he'd caught up with her.