Inspired by two James Morrison songs (Broken Strings and I Won't Let You Go - one about knowing when to call it quits and the other about not giving up on the one you love) on a dreary winter day, this one's a little bleak and angsty. Even for me.
Usual fanfic disclaimers apply. These characters don't belong to me. They'd probably be a bit more tormented if they did. ;) All mistakes are mine.
-The truth hurts, but a lie's worse
Lightman Group, Washington DC
"I'm not doing this again." Cal Lightman paced through his office, arms waving in the air. "I am not going to sit there and listen to that scumbag lawyer..."
"Our company attorney," she corrected him. "The man trying to help us fight this lawsuit."
Cal was undeterred. "Listen to that scumbag tell me that I have to go through a psych evaluation just to prove that I'm mentally stable...come on, Gill." He fumed. "Is this what it's come down to?"
"I don't know, is it?" She stared at him in the amber light of his office. It was late and the two of them were the only ones left on the floor. Except maybe for Loker, whom he'd seen in the lab earlier, analysing a herd of something or other.
"Maybe..." Gillian emphasized, her words cutting through the air like a knife. "You should have thought about that before you decided to punch out a cop. In a police station."
"A crooked cop who collected money from both sides while he watched kids blow each others' brains out in gang wars," he reminded her.
She sat down in the chair across from his desk. There was a lot he was able to read in her familiar features tonight. Tension, fatigue, frustration and anger, just to name a few.
There had been so many arguments between them lately he'd lost track. He couldn't remember the last time they had a conversation that didn't end in an argument. What happened to the days when they could spend hours bouncing ideas off each other over a meal? Or wind down after a long day over jokes and a beer in a pub?
When the hell did you start taking their side? I thought we were partners. Thought you were my best friend.
"We didn't have any proof..." she reminded him softly, massaging her temple with an index finger. "Even if we did...it's not an excuse for you to nominate yourself judge, jury and executioner."
Cal frowned. Still pacing. She could be so dramatic sometimes. "I punched the guy in the face. I didn't kill him."
"Yeah...you punched him in the face without giving a second's thought to the consequences it would have for this company. Our company." The bitterness dripped from her voice now. "It's not enough that we were on the brink of bankruptcy, and had to lay of six employees last month...no, you needed a multi-million dollar lawsuit to top things off." She sank back into the chair. "You can be so goddamn selfish sometimes."
Cal could take her anger. Most of the time it was justified, even he could admit as much. It was the disappointment and the disdain she'd thrown at him this week were harder to stomach.
"And you can be so bloody self-righteous sometimes."
"Take the psych evaluation," she repeated, making an effort not to let the last words sting. "It's the least you can do at this point."
I'd never ask you to prove something like that.
"Don't you think we're past the point of you digging in your heels to prove a point?" she accused him. "If you don't do this and they win this law suit because of it..."
His mother had been mentally unstable. But he wasn't. Never would be. It was the one certainty he'd stake his life on.
Truth was, there wasn't a lot he wouldn't do for Gillian Foster. At least not when she asked him the way she did now. Half desperate, half pleading. But this might be one of them.
I don't need a test to tell me I'm sane...especially not for being the only one who had the balls to man up to a lousy excuse of a human being hiding behind a shiny, gold badge.
"I guess..." she said slowly, getting up from her chair. "We have nothing to discuss then."
"I can't believe you're asking me to..." Cal wanted to punch something. Vent his frustrations against a wall so that he'd end up with two bandaged hands rather than one. It would be a fitting way to end this miserable week.
"I can't believe you won't even consider it to save our company!"
"When did one become a condition of the other?"
Instead of hitting the wall, Cal banged his hand into his bookcase. Rattling the entire thing.
One loose book flew off a shelf. Followed by another one. Then a picture inside a glass frame toppled over as well.
There was a heavy African scythe that sat at the very top, on a display case. A souvenir from his dissertation days in Central Africa.
Banging his hand into the shelf made the display case wobble, slightly at first, then more so, as it gained momentum before finally tipping over.
Cal envisioned it crashing down too. He cringed as he expected both items to hit the floor with a thud.
What he didn't expect was for Gillian to move her arm over her head to shield herself from them. Or to be standing right in the way of both.
Oh no, no, no...
He jumped to push her away but he was too late.
Horrified, he watched as the blade from the scythe sliced into her arm, leaving behind a thick, crimson line that curved from her elbow down to her wrist before the whole thing hit the floor with an ear-shattering clang.