Authors: DNAisUnique and csiAngel
Summary: Tis the season to believe…
Disclaimer: We do not own Lie to me* or anything else in this story that seems familiar.
A/N: We were asked to write Christmastiems. Instead we wrote this. A year later. We started this last December. So it's set back then. We hope you like it :) It is our intention that we'll post a chapter a day up until Sunday. Merry Christmas!
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Prologue - December 22nd
To anyone who knew Gillian Foster, it would come as no surprise that she loved Christmas. She loved the weather; the lights; the music. She loved the happy feeling it gave her; she loved the excitement on the faces of the children she'd pass in the street. She loved the cheesy TV movies that started to air mid-November. And, in particular, she loved to watch Cal's reaction to arriving in her office and finding that the festive spirit had quite firmly taken hold. Or, to be entirely honest with herself, she loved watching Cal pretend that he didn't love the season as much as she did. She would catch the smile on his lips, and twinkle in his eyes, before he expertly hid them. The soft tone to his voice would give away that - even though his words were reprimanding her for loving it all so much - he was happy to see her so excited. But, after all, they were deception experts, so she knew that he knew she was on to him. And he knew that she knew that. And that was all part of the festive fun.
Last Christmas had not been as nice as Gillian liked it to be. The knowledge that Cal could have been killed in Afghanistan; the flickering image eventually vanishing from the screen - stayed with her long after he was safely returned.
This year, she was determined that he wasn't going anywhere. And so far so good. They had made it to the evening of December 22nd and danger hadn't found him. Only one more working day after this one. Surely she could keep it at bay a bit longer.
She had just left Cal in his office. He had been occupied mumbling about the four foot Christmas tree she had had erected in the corner of that room while they were out. She couldn't help the grin that she wore on her lips as she walked along the corridor to her own office. Emily had once again done a remarkable job with a beautiful tree in the entrance; twinkling lights lined every wall, and there was a definite festive buzz throughout the office. And now Cal's office - thus far the only room without decoration - was also suitably adorned. This Christmas was going to be perfect.
Humming the first few lines of 'Jingle Bells', Gillian strode into her office and over to her desk. She stopped just as she was about to sit down when she caught sight of a newspaper that she didn't recall having left on her desk. The headline read: "'Miracle' or Maniac?" and beneath the text sat a photograph of an elderly man, his hand raised to block his face from the camera.
Sitting down, she picked up the paper and continued to read the article. It transpired that the man had been fired from his role as a toy store Santa for claiming to be the real thing. His employers suggested that such delusions were a sign that he wasn't fit to work around children. Mr Kringle (as he had insisted his name was) had offered no comment to the press.
Gillian frowned, unsettled by the article. It was so similar to 'Miracle on 34th Street' - obviously the inspiration for the headline - a film that had been one of her favourites since her childhood (though she tended to watch the remake nowadays - the pull of Dylan McDermott). She knew, of course, that the Mr Kringle of this article was not the real Santa Claus, but it was sad to see him being put through this. Although, she could see the store's point of view as well. Really, whichever way she looked at it, the story was unsettling.
She put the paper to one side, deciding - as she logged into her email account - that tonight was a good time to break out the 'Miracle' DVD. Again.