A/N: I'm back with this story. Should be one chapter left after this, if there's interest in finishing it out.. Can't promise this is up to par with the rest: it's been a long, long time.
"I still show up for gentleman practice
and the company of lead dancers
hoping their grace will get stuck in my shoes
Is that a handsome shadow on my breath, sweet woman?
Or is it a cattle call and a school of fish?
Dance with me.
Less like a waltz for panic
and more for the way we'd hope to swing
the night we took of everything,
and we were swinging for the fences…
The knot in Gillian's stomach tightened itself—part of her wanted compliance from Cal, something she so rarely got. She wanted deferment—for him to allow her to make the decision. But, another part of her wanted him to fight her back on this—to want so badly to be with her that he was unable to comply with her simple request. At the present moment, she wasn't sure which part of her ached more.
Cal averted his gaze for a moment, before looking Gillian directly in the eye. He took a deep, steadying breath, allowing the air to fill his lungs completely before he expelled it. "Until then," he said, finally, his voice quieter than Gillian had heard it in a long time, "Until then, I'm here."
Gillian's mouth formed a small 'o' of surprise—she wasn't used to this candor between them. At least, not anymore. There was a time when it had been par for the course, when they would come to each other with their troubles and triumphs, but those days were long gone. That they might return to this way of being with one another had long been her secret desire. That it was happening now, this honesty, thrilled her and filled her with trepidation.
"You're saying—you'll wait for me?"
Waiting was not in Cal Lightman's nature, so the disbelief in her voice was genuine.
"I'll try, Gillian." Cal pushed back into his chair, "I'm still… learning how to be. You, of all people, know that."
Gillian nodded her head once, she did know that more than most, but she couldn't help except to allow the sadness to creep in. In that moment, she knew what part of her ached more—the part she had been trying to quell for years now.
She couldn't help the tears that flooded her eyes—she looked around the room and tried every trick she had ever learned, naming thing in her mind 'brown desk, red book,'—but it didn't work, the tears came anyway.
Cal watched her carefully as she blinked them away, and slowly and steadily a panic began to rise in him. Gillian's tears frequently did that to him, and he had learned to ignore it when he needed. But, this time, it felt more severe—more urgent. There was this nagging voice that kept repeating a sentence over and over and over again—'Unless she smiles, you will lose her.' The panic in him increased, but he stayed motionless. He knew that he couldn't let panic be the motivating factor of his next action—so he sat, quiet, as Gillian glanced around the room, her eyes darting from place to place. And after he forced the panic down, he thought back to a night many years ago that he hadn't let himself think of in a very, very long time. He let the joy of that moment fill him, and then he calmly reached for the remote, and clicked on his sound system, after fiddling with his phone, soft music began to fill the office, the volume low, the tempo high.
Cal watched Gillian's eyes snap to his, as she heard the song that was playing, and then he watched a myriad of emotions pass over her face—so many that he couldn't read them all. He held out a hand to her, and found himself holding his breath as Gillian watched his outstretched hand.
Finally, without expression, she took it. Cal helped her to her feet, and then began leading her, much more slowly than the music suggested.
Gillian allowed herself to be led, and Cal took this as a good sign. He began to pick up the pace, and before he knew it, they were swing dancing in his office, each remembering steps they'd long since sworn they'd forgotten.
'Muscle has memory,' he thought recalling the night they'd danced exactly as this, a humid summer night, and then his face grew slightly hot as he remembered what came after the dance. Cal swung Gillian out, and she twirled back into is arms, and that's when it happened—it started as a smile, but it eventually became a laugh. A soft laugh, not a full one—but it was enough to silence the voice he had heard earlier.
They were dancing completely in time to the music when the final chords rang out, and the music switched off. The room was silent, as they both stood, slightly panting from their exertion, before dropping their hands, the feel of flesh on flesh entirely too much.
Gillian's smile was gone, and she regarded Cal with a cool gaze.
"I thought we agreed to never mention that." Her eyes were narrowed.
Cal expected at least a few moments of mirth before the conversation turned serious. "We still haven't, technically," Cal shrugged.
"The exact song, Cal? And you're calling upon technicalities?"
"It's been three years, Gillian."
Gillian crossed her arms over her chest, "Yes, and our agreement was never."
"Right." Cal said, nodding, "That was your thing, not mine."
Gillian felt the anger swell up in her, "Fine. Do you want to talk about it, Cal?"
Cal had always wanted to talk about it, actually. "Sure."
"Fine." Gillian sat down, "Talk." She waved her hand in a rather dismissive gesture.
"Why don't you want to talk about it, Gillian? Why did you keep me like some dirty little secret? You didn't cheat. You and Alec were legally separated."
"I know that." Gillian gave away nothing. Cal could tell she was working hard at keeping her face, and body language unreadable, and her voice was steady.
"Then why are you so ashamed of it, Gillian?" Cal was goading her. He knew it, she knew it, but that didn't mean it wasn't going to work.
"I'm not." Her eyes bore into him.
"Ashamed that the prim little Gillian Foster stooped so low, fell into bed with renegade Cal Lightman, unworthy as he is?" Cal's voice was taunting her, taking on a mean edge. He was doing it deliberately, pushing through every defense mechanism she threw at him. He knew she hated that image.
"Knock it off, Cal." Her teeth pressed together.
"Oh, so that's it, then? Why we've never spoken about it? How could you let yourself fall so far, love?" Cal loomed over her, and then fell back into his chair. "At least I understand now." Venom dripped from his words.
Gillian sighed, "Fine, Cal—I was ashamed, okay? Is that what you want to hear? That I was ashamed?"
"Just want the truth like always, darling." He said the term of endearment like it was an epithet.
Gillian's eyes turned dark as the word 'darling' hit her like a physical blow. "I was ashamed because I let myself fall into bed with you, Cal, of all people! I was ashamed that I let you use me like that! I didn't want to face what would happen next—the inevitable part where you say 'sorry, love, but it was a mistake.'" Her impression of him was spot on.
Cal sat silent for a moment, watching the anger leave Gillian, watching shame replace it.
He felt his own anger flare up in him, not fake any longer. "Christ, Gillian, is that really what you think of me? Good to know." He studied her, "I call bullshit."
"Believe what you want, Cal. Nothing new."
"No. Bullshit. You were scared, Gillian. You were scared because one night three years ago we had sex and it was bloody brilliant sex."
Gillian scoffed, "As though I'd never had good sex before? How insulting." Her voice belied her incredulousness. Alec was fabulous in bed. Gillian stood, and made her way over to the mp3 player—she jabbed her finger at the power button, switching it off.
"Not with me, you hadn't." Cal said, standing up and rounding the chair, "Remember that night, love?"
Gillian faced Cal's bookshelf, and she was thankful he couldn't see her as she pressed her eyes together. Of course she remembered. When she and Alec decided to reconcile, she had to actively force herself to not remember every detail of that night.
"So you were scared."
Suddenly, Gillian whirled on him, but kept her back pressed against the bookshelf, as though she needed help standing up. "I was scared, yes. Because I know you, Cal. I knew what the next step was."
"Did you really?" Cal asked, closing in on her, his eyes hot with anger. "Enlighten me."
"Nothing. The next step was nothing. That's how it is with you, Cal. I've known you long enough."
Cal stepped in front of her, livid. He was angry at her opinion of him, but he was angrier at the fact that she lumped herself together with every other woman, when that was so far from the mark. Beyond that, he was hurt. Suddenly, he was seized with the intense need to hurt her back.
"You're right, Gillian." Cal's face was inches from hers, "That's the way you see it, so you're right. I used you. I fucked you in that hotel room in Memphis like I'd fuck any other woman. And because I'd spent ages wondering whether or not you'd be a good lay. Do you want to know the verdict, Gillian? Do you? Do you want to know whether or not I think you're good in the sack—the truth?"
Cal's arm was poised above Gillian's head, his breath hot on her lips as he spoke millimeters away from her mouth—he wanted to stop himself, but he couldn't, so his voice was gravelly when he spoke, his anger seeping into every bone in his body, his wrath pushing him forward, allowing him to ignore the look of helplessness on her face as he told her the lie:
"I've had better."