A/N: So, here is my new story. I really hope there are still some Callian fans out there who are interested in reading this. There are way too few new LTM stories here on FFN.
As to the set-up of the story – I wanted to write something emotional and exciting at the same time and came up with this idea of an alternative version of the brilliant episode "Sweet Sixteen". The timeline is a bit tricky. This takes place sometime in Season Three after "Dirty Loyal", but – and this is important – the episode "Sweet Sixteen" in Season Two never happened, meaning that Gillian never told Cal that she was approached to make him back away from the Doyle case. It's also important, though, that the Doyle case itself and the Cal/Gillian therapy sessions in the past happened very well. Confused? Don't worry. The story is written in a way that you don't have to know anything about the episode and will understand it anyway (at least I hope so). And now... Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own LTM, but you already knew that, didn't you?
He came to her house. Not her office. Not anywhere else. Her house. In the middle of the night. His pale face stared at her through the pane of her kitchen window when she poured herself a glass of milk because she couldn't sleep. She startled and almost dropped the glass since it looked as if he was standing right behind her in the kitchen. Then she realized that it was only a reflection and relaxed a little. There was no intruder inside her house. The man was outside. Frozen in place. Almost like a ghost. It was eerie either way, and she retreated slowly to get to the phone and call the police just when she recognized his face. Panic exploded in her chest. There was no way she could call the police or anybody else. She was in this alone.
There are moments in life you bury so deep within yourself that you can almost trick your memory into believing that they never happened. Gillian Foster knows that man, but she prefers to deny it. It is the same man who came by to pay her an unsolicited visit eight years ago. He scared her to death back then just like now. Save that she never talked about it.
No one knows.
Make sure Cal Lightman stays out of this, she remembers the man's quiet, yet threatening, voice from eight years ago as if it happened yesterday. Otherwise, Jimmy Doyle won't be the only man who lost his wife and child.
Only very few people are aware how Cal Lightman and Gillian Foster met. There was a time when they both worked for the Pentagon. Cal was involved, in the broadest sense, in the inadvertent killing of the wife and daughter of a mobster, Jimmy Doyle. It wasn't Cal's fault, but he felt guilty anyway and was much too interested in finding out the details. Those details unfortunately being that the Pentagon had ordered Jimmy Doyle's execution and instead had killed his family by mistake. Civilian casualties. Cal was ordered by his superiors to see a psychologist – Dr. Gillian Foster. It was a clever move. If he found out something, they could class him as a nutcase. The main purpose of the therapy was, though, to avoid this scenario and make Cal simply back away.
So, the powers that be shamelessly used Gillian to accomplish that purpose. Before the therapy started, a man approached her at her house at night and made abundantly clear what she had to do in order to avoid further civilian casualties. Make sure Cal Lightman stays out of this...
Gillian had to do something she had never done before, something she detests. She had to deliberately manipulate a patient. The only way she could justify that was by telling herself that it was for Cal's best, that she was protecting his family and thereby him. It all happened subtly, between the lines, although she sometimes had the impression that Cal suspected something. And, to her surprise, it worked. Cal backed away, and she could finally pretend that nothing ever happened.
After that, they became business partners and close friends. Well, Gillian isn't exactly sure what they are to each other these days. Sometimes it almost feels like old times, meaning the good old times with friendly banter and mutual trust. Then again, more often than not, it feels as if their balance is off, as if they are only one step away from completely falling apart.
The fact that their relationship started off with a lie, even if it was a white lie, and that she never told him the truth doesn't make things easier. Not when it all threatens to come to the surface just now that the atmosphere is already tense and strained. She never told Cal about it – not because she was afraid or shied away from it but because the danger was still out there at first and then, when she eventually supposed it was safe to tell him, it didn't seem to matter anymore anyway after so many years.
Obviously, she was wrong.
The thought, how many nights the ghost from her past must have been waiting outside her house for her to wake up and come down to see him, still makes her shiver. Maybe it was the first time, and it was a coincidence that she woke up that night, but somehow she doesn't believe it.
It took only a quick movement of the man's head to signal her that she was supposed to open the door. Gillian didn't want to, but she also knew she had no choice. The only person who could have helped her in a situation like this was Cal, and he was the one person she couldn't call. Therefore, she opened the front door but didn't step back to let the man in. Apparently, he had expected that and had made sure that the motion detector didn't react so that they were surrounded by utter darkness and couldn't be seen either way. It all was so surreal that the next morning she almost thought it had been a dream, a nightmare. Hushed voices. Shadowy figures. But then she saw the dirty footprints outside and knew it actually had happened.
Jimmy Doyle is looking for revenge, she recognized the man's voice, just as well as his face, the moment he started to speak. If he tries to contact Lightman, make sure your partner does the right thing.
The right thing? she asked, anger allowing her a slight touch of boldness, but, of course, she received no answer and needed none.
After the man was gone, the tension left her body, and her knees gave way. She dropped to the floor, clutching her legs, rocking back and forth like a scared child. She couldn't believe that it was happening all over again, still can't believe it.
Cal has a family, an ex-wife and daughter he both loves. They are in immediate danger now just as they were eight years ago, and it is once more up to her to save their lives without Cal noticing. Because Cal hasn't changed at all. He is to this day the reckless risk taker. Hence, she can't tell him because telling him means giving him irrefutable proof that it was a conspiracy that killed Doyle's family. And Cal will never let it go as soon as he becomes aware of that – risk or not. Maybe there is a slight chance that he will back away for the sake of his daughter, Emily, but as unpredictable as he is behaving these days, Gillian isn't even sure of that.
Make sure your partner does the right thing... The man's words are caught in an infinite loop in Gillian's head. How is she supposed to know whether Doyle contacts Cal? It's not as if he tells her everything these days. In fact, he barely tells her anything. So, how is she supposed to know, let alone prevent further damage? She simply has no idea, and the haunting anxiety is slowly but surely wearing her down.
It all happened just a few days ago, and already, she can barely sleep or eat. The only thing that plays into her hands is that Cal has more trouble reading her than anybody else. He probably believes she is still angry because they seriously argued about the Wallowski case. But it won't be long until he will start wondering whether there is more to it. She already has lost weight and caught Cal's concerned gaze this morning because her dress that used to flatter her curves is a bit too loose. It's almost ironic that he shows his concern now that she can't risk to let him come closer – no matter how much she wants it, no matter how much she has been wanting a change for the better during the last weeks, months even.
Make sure your partner does the right thing... Gillian doesn't know anymore what is right or wrong. She wants to tell Cal everything; she wants to let him come closer, but she knows she can't.
There is only one thing Gillian Foster is sure of these days. If she doesn't find a way to handle the situation soon, it will either get Cal or a member of his family killed or tear them apart. In the worst case, both of it will happen.
So much for the set-up of the story. I hope it's a good foundation for emotions and adventure as well.
Next chapter: Cal starts to get suspicious...
Your opinion is very appreciated. Confused? Bored? Interested?
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