A/N: The idea for this story came to me whilst I was partaking in one of my favorite pastmes: listening to Spoken Word poetry- this particular poem was from Andrea Gibson. The idea struck me particularly hard, because I am a practitioner of Buddhism (and meditation), and am quite familiar with the Lotus Position. For anyone unfamiliar, it's a meditative position designed to still the body, thus opening the mind; it's physical benefits are numerous as well- however, it's actually rather painful, particularly for those not well-practiced in it.
So, just a little background for this one-shot.
"Anyone who has ever sat in Lotus for more than a few seconds knows:
it takes a hell of a lot more muscle to stay than to go." – Andrea Gibson, "Pole Dancer."
It happened one day, rather unexpectedly, the epiphany. She was having lunch with her friend, Tom Cannon, at a little bistro down the street from The Lightman Group. Their food had come, and they'd lamented the fact that, being a workday, they could not, in good conscience, pair the delectable meal with a glass of wine.
"So, Gillian, tell me—how is life at The Lightman Group these days?" Tom asked, sipping his peach iced tea.
Gillian speared a piece of asparagus with a fork, "Fine, thank you." She said, shaking her head. It was kind of a routine they had—he'd ask about work, she'd dance around the subject, apprehensive to discuss her relationship—work or otherwise—with anyone, even a close and trusted friend.
She'd met Tom Cannon in grad school, out at a piano bar, actually. She'd been out with her friends, having a glass of wine after a particular grueling final exam. Gillian had been shy in her youth, but grad school had drawn her out of her shell, a fact for which she was eternally thankful. Still, she was not prone to particular acts of public embarrassment.
She'd just started her fourth glass of wine—the exam was exceedingly grueling, after all—when she noticed a break in playing, mid-song—her eyes found their way to the piano, where a rather handsome man in a green shirt was conversing with the man playing the piano. Normally, she knew from experience, the pianist didn't take very well to being interrupted—but, obviously, whatever man-in-green-shirt was saying, or how he was saying it, was not causing ire; instead, it appeared to be causing something else, entirely. Gillian watched in awe as the pianist and the man laughed jovially. Seconds later, the pianist switched songs—Gillian laughed as the strains of Elton John filled the air. The pianist began the song with those most familiar words, "Sat on the roof, and I kicked off the moss…"
Soon, the man in the green shirt joined in, grabbing a microphone and switching it on—he sang the chorus, and wandered around the bar. His voice wasn't the best she'd ever heard, but he could carry a tune, and he was so into it that the crowd didn't really seem to mind. Gillian was sipping her wine, when he stopped in front of her—
"And, well the thing is, what I really mean," He'd crooned, smiling at her, "is yours are the sweetest eyes I've ever seen," He winked at her, and she noticed his green eyes twinkling with something she'd been sorely missing in her life: fun. He finished off the song singing directly to her, and her face burned.
Her friends, of course, found it furiously funny, and they laughed as Gillian brought her hands up to her face, feeling the flesh. She knew she was beet red when he stuck out his hand and said, "I'm Tom."
Back then, Alec had been her on again, off again boyfriend, and they happened to be off again. She sat cross legged on her bed that night, speaking into the phone.
"You did all of that just to meet me?" She said, running her fingers absentmindedly through her hair.
He chuckled into the phone, "Indeed I did, Gillian. Indeed I did."
Flipping over on her stomach, she considered this, "And do you do this thing all the time?"
Tom laughed, "Define all the time," He said, drawing the words out a bit. "I'm kidding. No, I don't do it all the time—I have done it before, though, twice—though, with different songs. And only when I felt it really mattered."
"Felt it really mattered?" She didn't understand his meaning.
"Yes," He said, "When I felt like meeting a woman was of dire importance. It was important that I meet you, Gillian."
She smiled—and that was the beginning of their relationship. They dated for a heavy six months where they learned everything about each other that they possibly could. They finally got to the point where they knew they'd loved each other intensely, but could only move forward as friends. So, they made the appropriate adjustments, and continued on—
Which brought her to an early spring day in Washington, D.C., sitting at a fabulous café with one of the only men she knew, without a doubt, she could count on.
They had a ritual any time he was in town—dinner the first night, drinks the second, lunch the third, and breakfast the fourth. He'd always ask her about Cal, and she'd always dance around the subject, delicately avoiding discussing anything real until the breakfast before Tom's flight out, so there would be little time for discussion.
"Mmhm," He said, around a mouthful of chicken.
"It's fine," She said, shaking her head, making sure her eyes didn't water and betray the truth. Things weren't fine at The Lightman Group. They hadn't been fine in quite some time, and she wasn't entirely sure that they ever really would be again.
"You're forgetting two things, Gill." He laughed a little and stirred his tea, "One of them is that I know you."
"And the other?" She queried, sipping her raspberry tea.
"Is that I've met Cal Lightman." He smiled, then, and winked at her.
Gillian shifted uncomfortably in her seat, recalling the time that Tom and Cal had met. It'd damn near been a pissing contest—they'd sized each other up, and traded jabs, engaging in a seemingly never ending contest to find out who knew Gillian Foster better—by the time the food had arrived, Gillian was exhausted—she was furious when she said, "If you two would put those things away now, that'd be great, since dinner is here." The meal had passed relatively quietly after that.
"I'll never forget that," Gillian said, shaking her head.
A comfortable silence fell between them—the silence was always comfortable between them, never charged or awkward.
The waitress came and removed their plates, and they chose from the dessert menu. When it arrived, Tom dipped his spoon into the mousse and took a bite—
"You know something, Gillian, in all the years I've known you, I've never really thought of you as weak."
Gillian's gaze darkened, and her spoon stopped halfway up to her mouth. "What's that supposed to mean?" She asked, her voice quietly intense.
Tom shrugged, "Just what I said—I always thought you were strong. "
Gillian put her spoon back into her mousse—dessert could wait.
"I am." Her voice was harsh when she spoke, and had Tom not spent the better part of a year on the receiving end of that tone, he might have tread more lightly—or stopped treading all together.
"Really?" He said, as though he was genuinely considering it, "Then why do you stay?" He took another spoonful of mousse. "I mean, come on, Gill, I know how he treats you." Gillian was regretting the late night phone sessions she had with Tom on occasion.
"It's my career, Tom—it's what I've spent years putting my life in to."
"I beg your pardon?"
"You're pardoned. I said, 'Bullshit,' Gillian." Tom polished off his mousse and pushed the tin in front of him, "Why do you stay?" He cocked his head to the side, "Is it because you love him?"
Gillian felt her face flush—she discussed many things with Tom, but her personal feelings for other men hadn't really ever been one of them.
"I don't." She said, finally digging in to her mousse.
"Jesus, I hope you lie better at work." Tom smiled, "But, let's just say I believe you and you're telling the truth, which I don't, and which you're not—but," He emphasized the word, "Let's just say I believe you—Why do you stay, then? Why do you stay and let him treat you like that?"
Gillian focused her gaze on her mousse, and the air between them drew dreadfully quiet before she spoke. "Because leaving would be easy." She said, running her spoon over the top of the mousse.
"Easy?" Tom asked, the disbelief evident in his voice.
"Yes, Tom. Easy. Walking away would be so easy—I could cash my shares in The Lightman Group right in, and open up a small private practice somewhere if I wanted to." Her voice was distant, thinking about the life she once believed she wanted more than anything else. "It's staying that's hard. Waking up every single day going to a job I'm not sure I even really like any more—seeing it through. I was weak when I left my marriage, Tom. It was an easy thing to do—to just give up." Gillian smiled thinly. "You have to stay even when it hurts—because it hurts. And truthfully, I refuse to let this career be just another thing I walk away from."
Tom's voice was quiet, "You refuse to let Cal Lightman be just another thing you walk away from."
Gillian sighed as she polished off her mousse—"Yes," She nodded, setting her spoon down, "Yes, I suppose that's true, too."
The waitress came and dropped the check—Tom smiled at her, and put his credit card in—he always paid for lunch.
"It's like that meditation class we took second year." Gillian said, an analogy suddenly forming in her mind.
Tom's face flashed recognition, "Oh, I had forgotten about that."
"Well, it's like that one position that looks terribly easy, but actually isn't—what's it called?" Tom shrugged, and she rolled her eyes, "I knew you weren't paying attention in that class!" She laughed at his expression "Lotus. It's like the lotus position."
"Oh, that's right! I remember that one. Really tested your muscles."
Gillian smiled, "Exactly. Breaking position is easy—but staying in the position, despite the pain and the quivering of your muscles is what pays off, both mentally and physically."
"Even more than meditation class, I remember your quivering muscles."
Gillian flushed and laughed, the sex between them had been absolutely wonderful.
Seeing her blush, Tom chuckled as he rose from his seat and put his coat on—"I see you remember that, too."
Standing, Gillian cleared her throat, a smile still playing on her face, "Hard to forget."
As they made their way out of the bistro, Gillian reveled in the feeling of the spring sun on her skin; she let it soak in, the uncharacteristically warm D.C. rays nestled directly in her heart.
As Tom prepared to get in a cab, he pulled Gillian in for a hug, swiping a kiss on her cheek—"See you tomorrow." He opened the door to the cab, "And, I just hope it's worth it, Gill. Mentally, physically, emotionally—" He planted a kiss on her hairline, "I hope he's worth it." He slid into the cab and closed the door.
"Me, too." Gillian whispered, before she turned toward the sun, heading back to work. Her well-toned muscles carried her toward The Lightman Group, her heart keeping time with her step; her conversation with her old friend and the analogy she'd drawn made one thing, and one thing alone abundantly clear: Something had to change—even the most devoted, she knew, couldn't sit in Lotus forever.
End. The concept described Cal and Gillian's relationship, particularly in S3, perfectly to me.