I put out a request on twitter for my followers to ask for any continuation of any of my stories. And this one is for beckilles (because it's her B'day, especially) but also special_k_5 and too_many_cats because all you ladies are awesome and it's really touching that this was the story you ALL chose for me to continue. Thank you girls! And happy birthday Becky!
Zoe paced the office from desk to door. The space was small, but remarkably open and she often wondered if this was what being in a fish bowl felt like. It was so very different to Cal's office, she noticed, but yet it didn't offset the place at all. Cal's furniture was old and rugged, his couches masculine and his desk, bulky. It was almost like a manifestation of Yin and Yang, looking upon the cool metal frame and glass desktop of Gillian's workspace.
Her furniture was white or cream, with touches of pinks and flecks of yellow. The colours were all cool, but somehow the room held no less warmth than Cal's deep, vibrant decor. She supposed, looking upon it with a woman's eye; that even though Gillian's bookshelves were hidden with glass cabinets and her work was stored away in clearly labeled, alphabetized filing cabinets; there was still that hint of deep-rooted warmth that she'd always associated with Gillian's presence. With a bunch of flowers perched on the small table at the end of the couch and colourful little trinkets on her desk. There was nothing cold or unfeeling about the place at all.
She could admit to herself, that often she'd hoped Gillian was as cold and stagnant as she had wanted her to be. But over the course of so many years, she'd come to learn that the woman was everything and more to the contrary. Even toward her; regardless of her unfounded disdain. Their greetings were distant and their handshakes stiff, but there was an understanding that passed between them now. One that Zoe was quite honestly glad off.
Being an intelligent woman, she'd never thought that she was really going to be able to maintain a dislike for the one other woman that was bound to never be out of her life, apart from Emily. Partner in business, crime or life, Gillian was with Cal come rain, hail or shine and a part of Zoe had known that from the very beginning.
Cal had come home from his first therapy session, mandated by the Pentagon, and he'd told her all about Gillian. Though clearly not all, considering she hadn't known just how beautiful Gillian was, until Cal had invited her and her husband for Thanksgiving dinner, the following year. She should have known, though, considering the constant references to Doctor Foster. She told herself that she should have known back then, but she'd been in denial about so many things. So much so, that she'd never even had the chance to feel threatened by Cal's relationship with Gillian, because she'd pushed him away before he'd even had a chance to toe the line. Not that she beleived Gillian was actually the kind of woman that would meet him halfway.
Gillian was steadfastly loyal to Cal. Sometimes Zoe found herself jealous of just how easily Gillian could forgive him his most basic, unchangeble nature. And that was what made her sure that if Gillian could be that loyal to a partnership, she would have never crossed that line, no matter how passionately he'd plead his case. Though coming to that conclusion so long after she and Cal were done and dusted; she realized it was easier if she could just blame Gillian. At least that way, she could remain in denial.
Finding her way around behind the desk, Zoe glanced down at the square below. People bustled about and the leaves of the lollipop trees fluttered gently in the breeze. It was peaceful and for a moment she imagined Gillian sat with her back to her office, quite often, and watched the people as they passed.
Turning back to the desk, she brushed her fingers along it's edge, finding resistance only in the closed case folders that cluttered it's surface. A few of them bore names, though most of them didn't. There were either blue or creamy manila folders with little posted notes with Gillian's handwriting covering them like the first snowflakes of the season. The place was so tidy and yet, so clearly lived in and loved. She wondered if anyone could look upon her office at the firm, and see a life like the one she could read in the corners of Gillian's small, personal, world. Everything in the room bore her mark in one way or another and it made Zoe wonder if she left such a mark on her own life.
Could someone walk into her office, with the floor-to-ceiling shelves of law textbooks, the deep mahogany desk that belonged, no doubt, to the last lawyer than had occupied that space, and the lawyer before him and the lawyer before him. Could a person look upon her desk and say, with certainty, that Zoe Landau had been there? Apart from the photo Cal had taken of her and Emily on Emily's sixteenth birthday, sitting on the corner of her desk, she was fairly sure they couldn't.
But every single vestige of this room, screamed Gillian.
She noticed there were pictures in the shelves. Hidden behind glass cabinet doors, though they were, she could clearly make them out as she made her way over to them. She had to dip her head down slightly, noting they were on the shelf that was Gillian's eye-height, not her own. And it made her smirk.
There was a black and white photo of a small girl with pig-tails held up with little bows, sitting on the lap of and elderly man. Both of them smiling brightly, happily; both of them smiling genuinely. There was a photo of Gillian and Cal; it looked fairly recent and she pressed her fingers to the glass as she recognized the look in Cal's eyes. She'd seen it before, so many years ago.
On another shelf she saw a small plastic Snoopy bobble-head, acting as an eisel for a piece of paper that simply read - "Bring this to me in five minutes. And look grim." - She wondered what that could possibly mean, but she recognized Cal's handwriting and imagined her own theories as to where it may have come from. By the aging of the paper, she imagined it had been sitting there for quite some time.
Tentatively, she lifted one of the cabinet doors as she noticed a small framed painting sitting on a lower shelf. A simple, childlike painting of a butterfly in vibrant blues, purples and greens. Painted over the corner was a small message, written in bold black marker in the unsteady scrawl of a ten-year-old. "To my friend, Gillian. Love Emily." Zoe smiled at the simple little painting, lifting it from it's perch to study it closer. She startled though, when behind it a small stack of papers fell free of their hiding place.
She set the painting back on the shelf, gathering up the papers back into a neat pile to put them back, when the corner of the pastel-green header of a pamphlet caught her eye. She felt the torn edges of several envelopes against her fingertips, and being drawn in by the curious letters, she thumbed through them slowly. Adoption agencies, several of them. And a pile of at least ten rejection letters. Five of them bore Alec's name, five of them didn't and one of them, dated just a month ago.
Zoe looked up suddenly, her eyes wide as she heard a sound from the doorway.
Standing before her in a knee-length black pencil skirt, a pale-pink silk blouse and a perfect string of pearls, Gillian's eyes fell to Zoe's hands. She didn't look angry or upset, but Zoe was sure that she'd never guess Gillian's true emotions if ever she chose not to show them. Sometimes she wondered if Gillian was a far greater deceiver than Cal, considering all the woman had been through with him, and the fact she still had her secrets.
"Hi," Zoe's voice came out strained and unfamiliar to her own ears.
"Zoe," Gillian responded and Zoe knew not to read it as a greeting, kind or not. It was simply an acknowledgment that they currently shared the same space and time. Because Gillian was far too polite to remain indifferent.
"I-I..." She stammered. She glanced between the papers in her hands and Gillian, who continued to stare at them. And something flickered across the woman's blue eyes that caught Zoe off-guard for a moment. "Does Cal know?" She dared to touch on it and Gillian's eyes, glassy and wide with surprise, met her own. "He doesn't, does he?"
"That's really not your concern, Zoe." Gillian stalked towards her, snatched the papers back and shoved them back behind Emily's painting. And Zoe decided against voicing her views on the psychological reasons for that particular hiding place; to the psychologist. She had no doubt Gillian was well aware of it's meaning.
"You should tell him." She spoke to Gillian's back as she made her way behind her desk, shuffling papers about and hiding her face from Zoe.
Gillian remained silent and Zoe watched her as the steam in her dissipated and she let out a deep breath. Her shoulders slumped and she dropped down into her chair. "If I tell him, he'll worry about me."
"He has a right to."
Gillian looked up at her with narrowed eyes. "Why? It's my decision. And besides, he knows how much I want it. It would only hurt him to know I keep doing this to myself. Bad enough that I put myself through it. He doesn't deserve that too."
"And what if you are approved, one of these days? What then? Won't it affect him too?"
Gillian shrugged, twisting her fingers together in her lap. "I don't think we're really at that point yet."
"Come on, Gillian. The change in your relationship aside, Cal's been invested in you for years. We both know it."
Gillian looked up at her and Zoe smiled softly. And before long Gillian was smiling back and that understanding that had come before was there again. Zoe had a better sense of the woman before her now. Not as the woman Cal had fallen in love with all those years ago when they were both at the Pentagon and their work was top secret. But as an interesting, tortured, resilient woman.
"Come on," Zoe grinned, knowing her actions and the words next to leave her lips were entirely out of the character Gillian was familiar with. "lets go get some coffee." Zoe grabbed Gillian's red pea-coat off the coat-rack and tossed it at her across the desk.
"Don't you think it's a bit weird?"
"What? That Cal's ex-wife and his current girlfriend are going to have coffee? And maybe form a truce?" Zoe shrugged and Gillian smiled as she slipped her coat on. "Perhaps. But what in Cal's life is entirely normal? And do you seriously want to pass up this opportunity to screw with him just a little bit?" Gillian giggled, picking up her handbag and meeting Zoe by the door. "We can go back to the tension and the simmering jealousy tomorrow."
"I like the sound of that." Gillian smirked, leading the way out the door.