Note: Sorry for late update – hope you're still with me...

Just wanted to say that I have not forgotten or given up on this story... thank you for bearing with me and special thanks to all who posted reviews... they are always very appreciated...

Chapter 7

Fall from the grace, Part I

Next words of the agent brought Cal out of his reverie and harshly threw him back to reality.

"Your story. It was confirmed..."

That was it. No wake up call. No simple ending. Events of the day were not a nightmare, but harsh cold reality.

Cal was waiting for the agent to continue, but when the other man kept silent, Cal looked up "And?"

"And it means that we finally have a name attached to the face of our mysterious lady. The only thing that does not make sense is why you were here today? How did you know that she was in the town? Who told you?"

"Wait a second. Why do you assume someone told me anything?"

"Quite a coincidence, don't you think? You being up in the same hospital she was administered to. What was it – she contacted you with some sappy story and you promised to help? When things got south you checked the hospital?"

"I cut my bloody palm..." Cal began, but was cut off. Agent had gotten what he needed. Strain in Cal's voice, clenched fists, flaring nostrils, hostile glare and tightened lips were enough proof that the anger had been genuine.

In more conciliatory tone Murdock continued "Relax. Let's not start another fistfight. I just needed to be sure you are not involved."

"Involved in what?"

"Keep your voice down; otherwise my friends across the room are getting anxious."

Quick glance in that direction at two officers confirmed that they didn't need special invitation to take him out. Cal relaxed his taut muscles, deciding to play safe for now. There was no point in being arrested anyway.

"Maybe you could stop this innuendo and tell me what the fuck is going on. Why Gillian was shot?" Cal asked in more subtle although still lacing with venom tone.

"And I thought in this conversation I represented law enforcement"

"Bloody hell..."

"Fine, Mr Lightman. You want the truth, here it is. Your lovely lady friend there is on FBI most wanted list."

When Cal didn't interrupt the agent continued "She is the main suspect in at least seven assassinations. Furthermore, money laundering and trade of illegal firearms also is not beyond her forte".

There was a hesitation in the man's voice. It seemed that he was contemplating, whether to add something or not. Instant later he made up his mind "Because of your girl I lost one of my man. A good friend of mine. We worked together for ten years. His widow was left with two kids on her hands without support. Hence the hostility you noticed before."

Cal looked at the guy as if he had grown a second head or third eye had just popped out on his forehead. For a moment he thought that Murdock was joking. If it was not for dull seriousness of the tone and dead straight eye contact, Cal would have thought the guy was pulling a prank.

Whomever he was talking about, it was not Gillian. Not HIS Gillian, who happened to be most heart warm and kind person he had ever known. She was not able to harm a fly or break even such a minor rule as crossing the street on a red light, less alone actually kill a person or conduct serious crime. She was too gentle and too right for that.

"Until now we were not able to establish her identity, but, as I said before, thanks to you we have a name. Crude mistake was that we never checked Bonnie against database of deceased."

Cal was barely listening. He was still in shock from the 'FBI most wanted list'. His mind wheels were running overtime, but nothing made sense. There was no scenario where any of this could make at least some sort of sense.

The best line Cal's dumbfounded mind came up with was "Do you have evidence?"

"Evidence?"

"Staff that incriminates people. You know DNA, fingerprints, witnesses..."

"Don't patronise me" Murdock did not react to the bite "And yes, as a matter of fact we do".

With all the harshness, attitude problems and unpredictable temper he liked Lightman. The guy possessed qualities Murdock valued highly in people – loyalty and directness. It was clear that whatever was said would not change his attitude for the woman. Nevertheless, having the man on his side could prove to be valuable, especially considering man's reputation being a walking lie detector and his deep connection with Gillian gal. It could prove to be very useful in a near future, if she lived off course. Although the agent highly doubted that Lightman would share his point of view.

"Then why not just arrest her? Why the shooting? I hardly imagine Gillian putting on resistance with smoking guns in hands and pile of defeated FBI agents left on the way." The words came out with even more malice than Cal intended.

The whole situation was absurd.

Even mere thought of his Gillian as ruthless criminal was place-able in the same reality realm as Mad Hatter Tea Party.

"I'm not authorised to discuss the specifications of the operation."

"So what you are so delicately telling me is that your guys screwed the pooch."

Agent's lips twitched, but it was difficult to say whether it was guilt or scorn "What I'm so delicately trying to tell you is that your friend is not the same person you knew before. Whatever happened had significantly changed her."

"So basically you want me to trust you on a whim and simply ignore the fact that because of your mistakes Gillian is fighting for her life."

As soon as the words left his mouth he mentally added 'again'. Although her first encounter with death was not fault of agent and his team, it didn't help much to lessen Cal's guilt. If it hadn't been for his stupid actions, Gill wouldn't end up in this mess in the first place.

She was hurt.

Again.

She was suffering.

Again.

And instead of being there for her, Cal was having fruitless conversation in the dressing room of the hospital.

Suddenly extremely strong longing to see Gill washed over. In that instant for the first time in the life he didn't care for the truth. Whatever was going on was irrelevant and most definitely could wait. Only one fact mattered. She was alive. She was here.

It was more than a longing, a primal need to see her comming from the depth of his soul.

"If I'm not arrested or detained I want to go back to the ICU. Now." Cal stated with rock hard firmness, putting emphasis on the last word. Murdock looked at him with curiosity, but didn't say a word.

"One one more thing" Cal continued "Take those goddamned handcuffs off. It is not like she is in any condition to vanish into thin air"

"And I was wondering what triggered the outburst" Murdock said thoughtfully. His reached down to the pocked and retrieved mobile phone that was set on vibrating "Sorry. Have to get this". The agent pushed the answer button, but before retreating to have a private conversation he addressed Cal, who was waiting for a reply

"'Yes' - you can see her and 'No' - the handcuffs stays." With that he turned on his heel and in few huge strides exited the room closing the doors behind.

With his good arm Cal checked the bandages. His morning wound that got him to the hospital seemed so insignificant now. With a sigh he stood up and followed the same path Murdock had taken just a moment ago.

Like before doors to Gill's room were guarded by two officers. Although these were not the same guys he had got into fight with. They eyed Cal with open hostility, no doubt rumours of his achievements preceding him, but none of them tried to stop the man as he firmly grabbed the doorknob. Apparently Murdock had warned them in advance.

Ignoring disgruntled stares Cal sighed and entered the semi-dark room for the second time.

He had absolutely no idea what time it was, but apparently it was late. With slow and silent movements he approached the bed, action so unlike his usual quirky and relentless behaviour.

The light was dim, but it was enough to see silent rise and fall of Gillian's chest. Without a makeup dark marks on her face Cal had noticed yesterday were even more profound. Whatever had happened before the shooting had not been pleasant either.

What kind of mess was she really in?

Cal moved the chair right beside the bed and sat, taking motionless ghostly pale hand in his. It almost disappeared in his grip.

Due to the strength of her personality, Cal sometimes forgot how delicate and fragile she really was. He felt tight ball stuck in his throat and bitterness over float his heart. Only moments later he realised that the dampness on his face were silent tears that were held in for too long. Way too long.

Steady beeping surrounding him in the dark room only facilitated migraine that was developing from the base of his temples.

The conversation he had with agent Murdock earlier was replaying in his head.

How in the God's name everything had gotten so twisted and so wrong?

tbc