A/N: All right, so this is a story in three parts based on my three favourite Season 3 episodes: "Smoked", "Funhouse" and "Rebound." Once again, I wrote very closely around the episodes and the existing dialogue, but then I changed/added stuff to better the outcome (in my totally humble opinion). I'll be posting the other two parts over the next couple of days. Please read, and I hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: Lie to Me characters, concepts and episodes do not belong to me, nor does any dialogue lifted directly from the episodes (which I concede is a lot).
Part 1: Somewhere Swanky
Torres stopped and hovered uncertainly in the corridor for a moment. This was going to be tricky ... How was she supposed to convincingly lie to Foster about Lightman wanting to buy them lunch? She doubted it was possible, and cringed at the thought of the situation she was about to have to step into. Trust Lightman to make her do the actual lying, she thought irritably to herself. He was just sending her in there to embarrass herself.
For a moment, she considered simply coming clean to Foster right away. Tell her what Lightman was doing with Wallowski, and that he didn't want her to know. But that was tricky, too. It was tough, being loyal to both of them. Of her two bosses, however, she felt far more threatened by Lightman (because he was far less rational), and she supposed she should at least make an effort in case he asked Foster what she'd said.
So, planting a wide and enthusiastic grin on her face, she headed over to Foster's office and knocked before entering with as much enthusiasm as she could muster. Gillian glanced up from her desk just long enough to see that it was Torres and to give her a smile, before returning her attention to whatever it was she was reading.
"Hey, guess what," said Torres, in what she hoped sounded like a delighted and surprised voice, "Lightman wants to treat you and me to lunch!"
Gillian's head snapped up at once, and her eyes bored into Torres's.
"Yeah," said Torres, suppressing a nervous swallow. "He says we deserve it, and look, he gave us his credit card!" She held it up, and attempted to keep grinning cheerfully.
There was a pause.
"Why's he trying to get rid of me?" Foster asked calmly, her eyes never leaving Torres's.
"What do you mean?" said Torres, deliberately slowly, and tried to rearrange her face into a convincing expression of innocent confusion. She needn't have bothered. Foster was no fool, especially when it came to Lightman. And now she was narrowing her eyes suspiciously at her.
"Who's he trying to hide from me?" asked Gillian more pointedly.
"He's not," said Torres, still trying to sound puzzled. "I mean, nobody. He's just ... He thinks we could use ..."
Foster sat back in her seat, her arms crossed, eyebrows raised, and continued to stare at her, and Torres gave up. Really, it had been a pointless mission. Foster was second only to Lightman in her field. So, she merely looked sheepishly at her shoes.
"So, who is it, then?" asked Foster again, a flicker of annoyance passing over her face.
Torres bit her lip, stumped as to what to say. As it turned out, she needn't have bothered worrying about that either.
"It's Wallowski, isn't it?" came Foster's slightly resigned voice, and Torres knew that she had confirmed it without saying a word.
"I'm sorry," she mumbled uncomfortably, looking up at Foster again, feeling as though she'd participated in some kind of betrayal. She and Foster had, after all, begun to develop their own kind of friendship, and she was extremely fond of her kind-hearted, strong and cheery boss.
Foster eyed her for a second before sighing, rolling her eyes and standing up.
"Let's go, then," she said.
Torres, who had fully expected her to storm out, locate Lightman and yell at him, looked at her in genuine surprise this time.
"Where?" she asked uncertainly.
"To lunch," said Gillian, reaching for her purse.
"If he thinks he can get away with lying to me by buying me lunch, I'm going to make sure he regrets it," said Foster firmly, her eyes twinkling. "Don't forget his credit card."
Torres grinned as Foster passed her on the way to the door.
"Alright!" she said enthusiastically. "Where're we going?"
X X X
Cal strode into the Lightman Group, and was relieved to spot Gillian sitting in the waiting area. He'd decided he did need to involve her in this after all.
"Aye aye," he said lightly. "Don't clock out just yet, all right?"
She got to her feet and walked towards him.
"I wasn't going anywhere. I was waiting for you," she told him, falling into step beside him. "And Wallowski," she added pointedly.
"Don't think that lunch with Torres fooled me."
He supposed it had been a long shot. He doubted even he would have been able to sell that one convincingly.
And judging by the look on her face when he glanced over at her, and the fact that she had gone to lunch despite knowing what he was up to, he was sure she had exacted her revenge. He imagined his credit card had taken quite a hit. He felt a strange, paradoxical rush of affection for her at that moment, so he slipped his arm around her waist, and asked teasingly, "Where'd you go, then? Somewhere swanky?"
Her arm went around his waist, too, and she ignored the question, which was really a confirmation as far as he was concerned.
"Why do you feel it's necessary to hide her from me?" she asked instead, placing a hand on his abdomen.
Distracted by that brief contact, he deflected with, "How do you know that I'm not hiding you from her?"
Gillian rolled her eyes.
"I'm so glad I waited for you," she said sarcastically, letting go of him as they reached his office.
Cal sighed, and said resignedly, "You don't like her, do you?", and wondered why it bothered him.
"I don't know her, thanks to you," snapped Gillian, throwing her arms up in exasperation.
"Well, look," Cal began, moving behind his desk, "I had to lie for her to you when she was being investigated. I don't want to have to do that again." And he meant that. That had been a very unhappy situation for him, and for her.
"You keep trying to protect me. How sweet." Gillian's voice was unimpressed, as though she found him patronising.
Slightly annoyed, because she had missed his point completely, Cal retorted, "Oh, so, you're okay with her, then."
"I didn't say that," Gillian said quickly, before adding fairly, "Yet."
He now wondered why the "yet" bothered him.
Deciding to negate it, and in the process take his own revenge for her hand on his stomach, Cal said with emphasis, and in a very suggestive voice, "You know, she's good. I mean, you know, she's very good." He paused there to gauge her reaction, but all he saw was indulgent exasperation, so he merely clarified in a normal voice, "At what she does."
"I wouldn't know," Gillian pointed out.
He flopped down into his desk chair, swung his feet onto his desk, and grinned at her. She was watching him expectantly. Deciding that, on the whole, Gillian in the loop was far better than Gillian out of the loop, and that he obviously owed her one, he suddenly swung his legs back down and leapt to his feet, saying, "Right. Dinner's on me." He strode back past her. "It's a threesome."
Ignoring this, Gillian followed him, and teased, "You'll have to use another card. This one was denied." She was holding up half a credit card as they made it to the door.
Unsurprised, Cal merely said, "Oh, yeah? What you been up to?"
"Here's the other half," she added, bringing it out of her pocket, and grinning.
"Nice shoes," he said, not minding in the slightest. He hadn't had much left on that card anyway. Besides, he figured, now they were even.
And, in spite of himself, he was finding it as funny as she was. Well, almost.
X X X
Cal left work in a bad mood. It had been a particularly upsetting situation, watching a man find out that his best friend had had his daughter murdered. For a business. It was sickening.
Convincing him had been no picnic, either, and Cal wasn't surprised. He wondered how he'd react if someone tried to tell him that Gillian had killed Emily. He shook his head at the absurdity of the thought, deciding he'd probably sock them one in the nose. He wondered if the old man had ever, even for a second, seen it coming. If he'd ever seen this horrifying potential in his best friend.
He moved on to wondering if Foster ever saw the horrifying potential in himself. Then he dismissed the thought, because of course she did, but that changed nothing because their friendship was different. Different in that she knew exactly the extent of his (vast) bad side as well as his good, and put up with him anyway. Loved him, even. He told himself firmly that there was nothing she could discover about him that she couldn't stand. Besides, he sure as hell would never have her daughter murdered, meaning his potential wasn't all that horrifying after all. Feeling slightly consoled by that thought, he let himself into his house, and tried to come up with something to write about in his book that evening.
X X X
He was only half listening as he stared at his typewriter.
"Is "Shazzer" short for Sharon where you come from?"
He looked up at Emily's far too innocent face, and felt wary.
"Where I come from?" he asked, stalling. "What, you mean England?"
"I thought we were Australian."
Her sarcasm was barely detectable.
"Look, d'you mind?" he said irritably. "I'm trying to concentrate here."
Ignoring him, Emily asked, "Well, I mean, is she your new ... You know?" She was watching him intently.
"Look, leave it out, all right?" he said, feeling strangely under attack. "I don't have a new ... You Know."
"Meaning she is your new You Know."
"Meaning nothing of the sort," he said, narrowing his eyes at her. "I don't have one of those. You Knows." He waved his hand dismissively.
Suddenly, she spoke more seriously, quiet concern in her voice.
"Don't you think you should get a new girlfriend?"
Longing for the conversation to end, he pointed at the typewriter and retorted, "Look, this is my new girlfriend right now, you know, thanks to you. At least until I've brought this bloody book out. So, d'you mind?" There was a pause, and then he heard an unmistakeably familiar sound.
"Are you playing poker on my account?" he demanded, getting up, and heading for where she had been sitting with his laptop. "It's eighteen and over." He peered at the screen with interest, and said, "Oh, look, you're ahead. How'd you do that?"
"Luck. And you should quit while you're ahead," she replied, before returning to the topic at hand. "So, does Gillian approve of Shazzer?"
Trying to control himself over this particularly sensitive subject, he said, "With a passion. Yeah. Totally."
She raised her eyebrows at him.
When she didn't look away, he relented, "All right, well, maybe not completely totally, but, you know, she'll come around."
"You hope!" said Emily in a tone that clearly implied that "Shazzer" wouldn't survive for long in his life if Gillian didn't come around. He found it annoying that it was true. "Back to work," she added bossily.
Cal snatched up the laptop, much to Emily's indignation, and stalked back to his typewriter. It wasn't long, however, before he'd lost focus, and found himself scowling at the wall.
The conversation with Emily had been more disturbing to him than he would have expected. After all, Wallowski wasn't his new You Know. But even if she was, which she wasn't, she wasn't exactly the kind of You Know he would want Emily to be a part of. She was more a teasing, fun, dangerous You Know. A rush, for sure, but not serious. He wondered what would happen if he and Wallowski ever did become actual You Knows. Would he be expected to tell Emily? It was hardly as though the thought of starting something with Wallowski hadn't crossed his mind - it crossed it all the time, and he made sure she knew it. But after his conversation with Emily, the thought suddenly seemed somewhat less appealing.
He'd certainly had his share of flings since his divorce, but not a You Know. Not the sort Emily was talking about. Not the sort she thought he should maybe be getting. It had, after all, been almost four years since Zoe. Perhaps she was right? Perhaps he should be thinking about getting an actual girlfriend? And that immediately set him thinking about Gillian. Because he had long since known that if he ever wanted to be in another real long-term relationship, it would be with her. If, of course, she'd have him.
He sighed. He supposed that was also what Emily had been alluding to earlier, when she had asked what Gillian thought of Wallowski. The possibility that Gillian Foster might be jealous of Wallowski, consciously or not, was tantalisingly appealing. It was why he liked to push her, as well as stop them from getting to know each other. Any kind of friendship between them would cancel out the mystery of his relationship with Wallowski. Which was, he knew, the main reason for Gillian's obvious discomfort. And he thrived on that discomfort. It gave him a hope of reading something from her.
Unfortunately, it wasn't proof enough of romantic interest. But it was a factor in favour of the possibility. Damn her for being his blind spot. He just couldn't know. He needed her to slip. To confirm. He found himself smirking as he remembered the moment in the lab where Foster had glared Wallowski from the room. That had been possibly one of the most arousing things he had ever seen her do. Which was saying something.
He sighed, and shook his head. These thoughts weren't bloody healthy.
Now was not the time.
x x x
Gillian cursed slightly under her breath as she dropped her car keys. She was clutching a box of folders in her arms, while holding her laptop bag and briefcase in one hand. It had taken some maneuvering to balance all these things in her right arm, slightly against the car, as her left hand had fumbled with her keys. And then dropped them.
She hovered uncertainly for a moment, considering the best way to go about picking them up, and then came to the inevitable conclusion that she'd have to put down everything she was carrying. How annoying.
She was just about to ease everything to the ground when a voice said, "Here, I've got them."
Wallowski was crouching down in front of her, picking up the keys. She stood, holding them uncertainly, before saying, "Would you like me to unlock it for you?"
For a moment, Gillian fought the irrational, "No, thank you very much," that was dying to come out, and succeeded. Instead, she managed to say politely, "Yeah, thanks."
She rebalanced herself to step away from the car, still managing to hold everything as Wallowski unlocked the trunk, opened it, and reached to take the box from Gillian. Together, they managed to load it all into the car without dropping anything, and Gillian slammed the trunk closed.
"Thanks," she said again, and even managed a small smile. "What are you doing here?"
"I was just stopping by to drop off the notes on the arrest and stuff," shrugged Wallowski.
Gillian eyed her curiously. "It's after eight," she pointed out.
"Yeah, well, I was driving past on my way home, and figured this way I wouldn't have to come tomorrow."
Gillian looked at her face, and suddenly smiled in amusement. And slight embarrassment.
"You wanted to avoid me," she said.
It wasn't a question, and Wallowski didn't bother to pretend it wasn't true. She merely said, "Didn't know you were such a workaholic."
"Well, someone has to be," observed Gillian, rolling her eyes, and she saw Wallowski grin. And then, to her annoyance, she felt an odd sense of camaraderie and as though she could, perhaps, like this woman. Cal would never stop gloating if he found out.
She had been going to say goodnight. To say thanks, see you round, have a good evening ... But something on Wallowski's face stopped her and instead, she found herself saying, "You wanna grab that cup of coffee now?"
Wallowski's smile softened, and she murmured, "Sure."
x x x
They sat in the small coffee shop, silently sipping their respective beverages - plain black coffee for Wallowski and a mocha latté for Gillian.
"It's so weird," said Wallowski suddenly. "Who kills their best friend's daughter?"
Gillian frowned slightly at the haunted expression on Wallowski's face, and then just shook her head, at a loss for words. It was not something she could even come close to grasping.
"I never would have seen it coming ..." Wallowski mumbled, and Gillian saw guilt.
"I doubt anyone would've," she said softly. "It's so ludicrous. So very cruel -" and she stuttered to a stop. It was enough to make anyone doubt the world they lived in, but she knew Wallowski had known the family personally. She must feel greatly betrayed.
"Lightman saw it," Wallowski said vaguely, and a moment later she suddenly looked afraid, as though she was unsure of whether they could discuss Cal.
Gillian gave a soft smile, ignored the odd wringing feeling in her stomach, and pointed out, "Not immediately. Anyway, he's special. It's his expertise, to see things others can't."
"It's yours, too. Did you see it?" Wallowski's voice was desperate, so Gillian decided to be honest.
"No, I didn't."
Wallowski let out a small breath, and mumbled, "Well, I guess if you didn't, how could I be expected to?"
Gillian watched her curiously. Wallowski was trying to complement her, trying to be nice. Gillian wondered why. After all, she had never treated Wallowski particularly well. She suddenly felt bad about it. After all, it had never been entirely personal. Wallowski had never done anything to hurt her. She had just always felt that Wallowski was trouble, and it was her job to take care of Cal and the Group. Wallowski had started off as a threat to Cal's and the Group's reputation, and only after that had she become a threat to Gillian and Cal's friendship. And that was Cal's doing, not hers. Cal had almost seemed to force Wallowski between them.
Suddenly Wallowski was speaking again, saying quietly, "Thanks for this. I know you're not my biggest fan ... I just don't have anyone else to talk to."
She gave Gillian an open grateful smile, which broke the last of her animosity.
"I'm sorry about that," she said sincerely. "I was just worried about him. About Cal."
"No, I get it," said Wallowski at once. "You were protecting him, or trying to. He'd be screwed without you, you know."
Gillian smiled sadly, and said, "You think so, huh?"
"Completely," insisted Wallowski. "And he knows it."
Gillian suddenly felt a bit too exposed, and so in a blatant change of subject said kindly, "You can talk to me whenever you need to."
"Thanks, I'll remember that." After a pause, she added, "You don't need to protect him from me. I promise."
Gillian bit her lip. Logically, she knew that it was probably Wallowski who would be dragged into trouble by Cal, but her protective instincts didn't always pay attention to logic. Plus, there was the effect Wallowski had had on their friendship. There was no denying the resentment she felt towards this new part of Cal's life that she wasn't allowed to be a part of. Even though she hated feeling this way. She was just used to being allowed into all facets of his life. This alienation was new.
Wallowski was watching her expectantly. Gillian decided to go with a succinct, "I know." But she avoided eye contact, and instead eyed her diminished drink. After another pause, she looked back up at Wallowski and gave her a friendly smile.
Wallowski looked for a moment as though she was going to say something, but she seemed to change her mind. Curious, Gillian noted an almost tender expression whisk across her features, and it hit her. The similarity of that face to Cal's. Strong, hard, completely blank, and when the odd sincere emotion leaked out, it was always personal and surprising.
"You're like him," she whispered, almost to herself.
Wallowski shrugged, and said, "Yeah, I guess. A bit." There was another pause as she seemed to come to a decision, and she said quickly, but firmly, "It's why I understand what you mean to him. I don't know much about your friendship, but believe me, you're his rock."
Gillian was looking at her with interest again. In truth, she already knew this. But to see Wallowski insisting on it was oddly touching. Wallowski obviously had no intention of coming between them, and, even more importantly, she didn't seem to consider it a possibility, let alone an option. Gillian frowned then, because if that was the nature of Wallowski and Cal's friendship, why did he insist on keeping her in the dark?
"If you'll forgive my asking," she began, unable to stop herself, "are you sleeping with him?"
An odd, almost amused look flickered across Wallowski's face, and she shook her head.
This didn't help clear anything up, although the small wave of relief did happen, leaving Gillian feeling annoyed with herself. She sighed, and decided to let it go for now. Maybe she would find out. Maybe Cal still intended to make his move on Wallowski. Or maybe he was just having some kind of mid life crisis.
"Okay. I couldn't help wondering," she said, feeling a little ashamed of herself for asking.
"No big deal," said Wallowski with a shrug.
They both gulped the last of their drinks down, and smiled. Gillian pulled out some money, and when Wallowski reached for her own wallet, Gillian said insistently, "No, it's on me."
Wallowski hesitated, but then smiled and said gratefully, "Thanks."
They walked outside companionably, and turned to face each other where their cars were parked.
"I'm sure I'll see you soon," said Gillian. "But until then, look after yourself, okay? And remember, if you need to talk ..."
Wallowski nodded, and smiled, "Yeah. Thanks. You take care, too ... Gillian."
"Goodnight, Sharon," replied Gillian, and turned to her car, smiling in spite of herself.
x x x
A/N: Apologies to all Wallowski haters out there, but seriously, she's not so bad … It was the role she played as the source of conflict that sucked, but I thought her character was kinda cool. Which is why I wanted to change the part I didn't like. Anyway, I hope you like it in spite of that. Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think.