Summary: What Cal will do when someone he knows turns up on his doorsteps in the middle of the night asking for help? What is the reason behind Gill's long vacation? Is there a connection between these events or they simply happened to coincide?
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the LTM characters...
Ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies
It was almost ten in the evening when Cal slummed down on the couch in his living room. Luckily Emily was with Zoe in Florida. Although usually seeing his daughter brought his spirit up, today he felt so spent that there was not a single drop of energy left, not even for a small conversation with his beloved daughter.
It truly had been a long day. Long and hard. Actually with Gillian absent all days were like that. Somehow things had gotten out of hand.
Only recently he really understood to what level he depended on her. All the financial staff that made him bored beyond belief, the communication with clients and distribution of tasks Gillian so smoothly and efficiently was managing turned out to be a lot more work than Cal ever thought. Today alone he had messed up with declaration of income taxes and financial reports that could cost them some fines from the IRS. Furthermore, Ria kept bugging him about one of the cases to the point he blew up and like always everyone in the storm's way got smashed away. There was no Gillian who performed the functions of lightning-conductor between his bloody temper and the staff.
Truth was he missed dearly not only her professional skills, but 'Her' - her smile and positivity, the inspiration and energy she radiated, their conversations and flirting. Especially the flirting that up to her abrupt departure was lingering very close if not even above the unseen line they had somewhat established.
She was not gone for good. At least he hoped she would be back. Eventually.
If the situation was assessed rationally, there was no big mystery, his fear was unjustified. Everything was plain and simple – Gillian had taken a leave. What bugged Cal was that initially she had taken a week, then another and now already three weeks had passed. Situation itself was unprecedented. Off course, she had taken day or two here and there, but it was for first time since they had established the Lightman Group that she was absent three weeks straight in a row.
Mere timeframe was not what bothered Cal most. It was guilt and shame present on her face during their last meets as well as one more emotion he witnessed that he didn't want to voice even in thoughts.
Three weeks ago Gill had announced to the staff that she will take a week long leave and that in her absence Cal will take over her tasks. It was out of the blue. No prior warning or explanation, nothing. Just a day ago they had discussed their plans for next week and then this. She clearly had tried to avoid him, because the announcement was made in his absence. She was on her way out, when he had caught her and forced back into the office. Such actions were very uncharacteristic for usually open and forthcoming Foster. It was not her forte to hide things.
„Planning romantic getaway? Might I join?" he asked in a voice full of venom. He knew it was childish and uncalled for, but he felt hurt and rattling her was quickest way to get to the truth.
"Not now Cal, please" she replied not taking the bait.
"So you are abandoning us without even a courtesy to say why?"
"Cal, please stop act as seven years old. I'm just taking a vacation". It was a lie and they both new it. "Anyway, I don't have to explain myself" she added defensively and tried to walk past him. She had almost made it, when Cal caught her arm and she was forced to turn around putting them face to face.
"What is it, luv? What is bothering you so much?" Cal's voice was almost a whisper due to her proximity. "Don't even try to deny it, I can see how distressed you are" he hushed her protests before she managed to open her mouth.
"Cal. Please, don't ask me questions and I won't be forced to lie" guilt, shame and regret radiating from her in waves "I just need time to sort some personal matters. That's it. Remember we talked about the line – this is one of those times" she added with a sight. With that she put her hand on his and gave a little squeeze, then with the same arm reached up and turned his face so she was able to give him light kiss on the cheek and delicately extracting her hand from his grip exited the office.
Cal wanted to go after her, to push for answers, but that would be against her request to respect her privacy. She rarely shut him completely out and never without a reason. He just had to be patient he told himself.
One week turned into two. Time from time Cal tried to call her cell, but all calls kept forwarding to the voicemail. Being control freak he was, Cal knew that she was not home, as her street mysteriously kept appearing on his way from work to home. Her car was in the driveway, never touched. He also knew that she had not left the country – having influential friends in customs proved to be beneficial.
Cal tried to convince himself that he was not spying and controlling her, that he was respecting privacy she asked for, just making sure she was safe and sound. It sounded lame and he knew it, but it was the best explanation he could come up with besides the one he confessed to Emily some time ago. He felt like jealous schoolboy and it only added to his frustration.
At the beginning of the third week she briefly stopped by the office to collect some of the things from her cabinet. It was very early, way before working hours. Cal had been here only because just before the dawn he had taken Emily to the airport and didn't see any point to return to the empty house. Zoe was in Florid due to business and Emily was visiting her. Through the open doors of his cabinet he had seen her entering. Now Cal stood by her office doors watching. She hadn't noticed him jet.
Gillian was much thinner than he remembered, but still gorgeous. Worry lines lingered on her face as she roamed through drawers, she looked very tense and nervous, but there was also this radiant glow around her that he had never seen before.
Gill lifted head as if sensing his presence and her face lighted with dazzling smile. The smile alone was enough to make Cal's day.
"Cal, Hi! I didn't hear you" she said moving forward and kissing him on cheek. Sensing his uneasiness her posture tensed even more "Are you ok?"
"Hello, luv. I'm good, although would be better with you here. You know – IRS, increasing workload and..." seeing worry lines deepen on her face and regret in her eyes Cal shut up. Why did he always have to be so damned insensitive? He didn't even know the reasons of her absence, but already played the guilt card. Trying to change the subject he asked "How have you been?"
"I'm Ok. Everything is Ok." She replied turning her back to him so he was not able to read her, vulnerability traceable in the pitch of her voice "just came by to get some of the things I need".
"Have you managed to resolve your personal issues?"
"I'm getting there" she replied looking at him with controlled expression. "And that is about all I'm saying on the subject" she quickly added seeing his intentions, glimpses of guilt and shame detectable on her face. Although usually very open, regarding reasons of her absence she was more tight-lipped than foreign spy in CIA interrogations.
Nervousness and tension he witnessed just minutes ago were gone. Maybe it had been plot of his rich imagination provoked by worry he had felt over last two weeks.
"I'm truly sorry I abandoned you, but I will make it up" she said retreating to her desk for the cell phone actively performing "The Blue Danube Waltz" in her purse.
Briefly looking at the number she headed to the doors, clearly not wanting Cal to hear the conversation. With all her cautiousness Cal still overheard her hushed voice answering "Yes, sweetheart".
His gut clenched as he moved closer to the glass wall separating him from the lobby. Gillian had moved to the farthest corner and spoke very quietly, but he was able to read her body language and expressions. What he saw made his heart froze.
Her face had lit up, eyes sparkling, the radiance around her more profound, she was smiling and at one moment even laughed. What he saw on her face was pure and unconditional love.
Had she really found someone else? Was she so much in love that her actions were so irresponsible? That she had forgotten all about their work and duties.
It was not that he didn't want her to be happy, but strong jealousy running like stream through Cal clouded his judgement. The feeling was so intense that it was almost suffocating. He needed to punch something or preferably somebody.
Anger and frustration were so overwhelming that he retreated to his office locking the doors behind.
At the end he had spent the rest of the day sulking in his office; especially after realising that she had left without passing by and saying goodbye. Apparently she was so consumed in whatever was happening in her life that even mere manners were not her strong suit anymore.
Then again, if it was affair that was keeping her off the radar, where did the guilt, shame and worry lines on her face came from. Moreover he was pretty sure that she had lost at least ten pounds. How did all this fit into the equation?
The truth was that he needed her, needed her as partner, as friend and... Ring of the doorbell brought Cal out of his reverie before he finished the thought.
Quick glance at the watch confirmed Cal's suspicions – it was way past midnight. Who the hell could be there at this god-awful hour? He contemplated to ignore caller as he was not in mood for visitors. The lights were off, no one would be wiser.
Several moments later instead of subduing, ringing became more insistent. Silently cursing Cal stood from the couch and headed for the door. It better be life or death situation or he would give a piece of mind to whoever had audacity to disturb him firstly at his home and secondly at this time.
Whatever Cal was prepared for, not in a million years he was expecting the sight that greeted him when he opened the doors.
"I need your help" with great urgency in voice said tall masculine figure looming over the doorsteps, expression of fear plastered on his moonlight illuminated face.