A/N: Here is the next chapter. First, some Doyle and Torres, and then, some more basement angst with Cal and Gillian. I kind of creeped myself out with it.
To those of you who embrace the angst: I hope you will enjoy this. To those of you who can't wait that the creepy part is over: It is indeed over after this chapter (the creepy part not the story; there will be some more chapters), but I hope you will enjoy it, anyway.
To all of you reading this: Thank you so much !
Disclaimer: Always the same. Not mine.
Ria Torres can't believe what she's doing. Over the years, she did some crazy things. Really crazy things, but this takes the cake. By far. She is sitting in a car, driving at full speed to an address where Lightman and Foster are held captive. And as if that weren't enough, there is a wanted IRA terrorist on her right. Jimmy Doyle.
If this goes wrong, it will get her into a real mess. One that means that she will lose her job at least or end up in prison at worst.
She can feel Doyle looking at her.
"You are a brave woman," he says.
Praise from a criminal. Now, if that doesn't lighten up her mood. "Shut up," is her tense response.
Doyle keeps quiet hereafter, and somehow, Ria almost wishes he wouldn't. Her thoughts are too loud; she can hear them echoing in the confined space of the car. She should have listened to Lightman, should have done what he said for once. Why is it that she doesn't seem to be able to follow orders?
You stay here. I'm going to look for Foster, she remembers his words. No one gets in; no one gets out. It was only a few hours ago, and the memories of that moment, and what happened next, are still vivid.
When her superior, Cal Lightman, told her to stay in the office and to let no one enter the room where he apparently had locked someone in, she knew something was going on. Something big.
First Loker had left the office, then Foster, then the explosion. Let alone that something else must have happened just before Lightman decided to go after Foster. And she was supposed to stay inside and wait it out? Nice try, Lightman.
She allowed him a headstart so that he wouldn't notice her following him down the stairs into the lobby first and then outside. It was a scenery of total destruction, like walking through one of her worst nightmares, and she had to focus not to lose sight of him. From a safe distance, she watched him and Foster. Thank God, Foster was okay. Well, as okay as one could be given the circumstances. She and Gillian aren't close; there isn't a natural bond as the one she feels between her and Lightman, but she really likes Foster. In a way, Torres likes her even more than Lightman. She just doesn't know how to deal with someone as warm-hearted and sympathetic as Gillian Foster. Ria Torres is rather used to dealing with unpredictable and self-centered people like Cal Lightman. Her relief that Foster was alive didn't last long though. It was surreal when she saw the van approach, masked men jumping out and kidnapping Lightman and Foster. Her bad day had just gotten much worse. Well, not to mention Foster's and Lightman's day.
Ria was too far away to prevent the abduction. She could see Lightman fighting and Foster screaming, but no one noticed. The world was upside down after the explosion, anyway. All she could do was memorize the license plate number. With shaking fingers, she called Wallowski and was surprised that the call went through. With all the chaos going on, she had actually expected the cellular network to be down. She was even more surprised when Wallowski agreed to track the van without further discussions. All it took was a hint that it was urgent and that Cal Lightman had ordered her to ask for it. Obviously, Wallowski was deeply indebted to The Lightman Group.
For some reason, Torres didn't tell Wallowski about the kidnapping. A decision based on pure instinct. She had to find out first who it was Lightman had locked in and if there was a connection. After all, it wouldn't be the first time that Cal Lightman was involved in something not exactly legal. In this case, there was no need to let the police know about it.
Ria ran back to the office, leaping several stairs at a time. Who was it Lightman had locked in? She hoped that no one had walked in unawarely and was lucky. Everyone was still distracted by what was going on outside.
"Who are you?" There was no time for pleasantries. Torres almost screamed into the mike and pushed a button simultaneously so that the walls became see-through glass again.
The man seemed vaguely familiar, but she didn't know where to put him. It would take hours to do a face detection screening. There was only one option...
"Don't even try to lie to me," she hissed. "I can see it in your face whether you tell the truth or not."
The man thought this over briefly and nodded.
"Jimmy Doyle," he then said. "Cal Lightman and I have to settle an old score."
It was the truth as well as everything else he told her, and she was glad that he couldn't read micro expressions because she had a hard time keeping a straight face hearing all this. The Pentagon. The IRA. An undercover assignment. A possible cover-up. The killing of Doyle's family. When Doyle was finished, she almost felt pity. Almost. He was IRA, after all, and had for sure more than one skeleton in his closet. It was clear, though, that his revenge plans didn't include Lightman. Jimmy Doyle had nothing to do with the explosion or the kidnapping. To the contrary, he had hoped to engage Cal Lightman as an ally.
Just when Ria was pondering on what to make out of the information and how the rest of what happened fit in, her phone rang. Wallowski had an address for her. The van had driven into the parking garage of a warehouse. Again, Torres had been lucky. If the van had stopped somewhere outside in plain view of a street camera, Wallowski probably would have seen Lightman and Foster being pulled out of it. As it was, the van was hidden somewhere inside of the building. And so were Lightman and Foster.
In the end, it was the choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. It was obvious that there had to be a connection between everything that had happened. The thought alone that the Pentagon could be somehow involved made Torres sick. That was an opponent she didn't want to deal with. She didn't even want to think about it. Yet, there was no other option. The bad guys weren't necessarily bad and the good guys weren't necessarily good in this aberration of normalcy. Bottom line, they had to get Lightman and Foster out, Loker was still somewhere, not answering his phone, and there was no way she could tell the police about it considering that an IRA terrorist was her last hope. That left her and Doyle.
"There," Doyle says curtly, his voice pulling Ria back into reality. They have arrived at the warehouse.
Sometime on their way here, Doyle called his troops and gave them the address, instructed them to be there. Ria stops the car, seeing shadowy figures lurking around.
God help me, she thinks. I'm about to incite a freaking riot.
Cal watches Gillian's eyelids flutter before her head drops back and she breathes even more fitfully.
She loves him. He saw it in her face in no uncertain manner even if it was only the split of a second. If Cal is honest with himself, a part of him is almost relieved that they are stuck in a situation that doesn't allow him to reflect about it. As much as he always has been craving for exactly that look in her face, the responsibility is getting him down. If she actually loves him that much, everything he does has an immediate effect on her to an even greater extent than he already was aware of. His subconsciousness starts to tingle, unwanted memories of how badly he hurt her recently coming to his mind. Not now, he stops them. Of course, he has to deal with what he saw, with the consequences. This changes things between them; he can't simply forget it or act as if it didn't happen, but first he has to get them out of here.
He steadies her neck, afraid that she will lose consciousness eventually. Then again, it probably wouldn't be that bad. An escape from the pain at least. If only there wasn't the uncertainty what will happen next. Phase two. The hallucinations.
Gillian knows that she is not unconscious or asleep; she just can't keep her eyes open anymore. The pain is gone, and it's such a relief. Yet, there is something else happening, something she can't define. This is a state she has never been in before. Neither awake nor sleeping. Nowhere land.
Cal is still squatting in front of her and stands up to loosen her ties. He doesn't care whether the men will punish him for it. The way Gillian's body threatens to tilt forwards, now that she apparently is about to pass out, makes her position even more uncomfortable. He can't idly stand by and do nothing about it. To his surprise, he manages to loosen her ties by simply tugging at them and bares his teeth when he sees that her wrists are rubbed sore.
She hears something. A whisper. It's far away, yet close. Unintelligible words that finally form a sentence. Open your eyes. The words are soft, almost tender, at first before they change slowly but surely into a haunting sing-song. It's the eerie voice of a cursed child. Stop, she wants to say. She can't speak, though, can't move, is trapped within her paralyzed body and has to listen helplessly until there seems to be only one way out, only one way to end this. Gillian braces herself and casts up her eyes.
He hears her take a deep breath before she opens her eyes, staring at the wall. Save that there is nothing to see. At least nothing he can see. Cal shivers. Most likely the hallucinations have started. He might have loosened her ties. Anyhow, she is caught up in another world where he can't reach her.
Blood. There is blood pouring out of the wall. Thick and red, dripping out of the dirty masonry. It's not real, Gillian keeps telling herself and hears the eerie voice that told her to open her eyes laughing, mocking her. The knowledge that this is not real, that is it merely a hallucination, should help, but it doesn't. She feels like an on-looker about to watch a crash, and there is nothing she can do to prevent it from happening.
The waves of fear consume her. Raw and as intense as she never has experienced it before in her whole life. She knows she still has to be in the basement with Cal and Loker and that her imagination is only playing tricks on her, putting in her mind that she is alone all of a sudden. Nevertheless, the possibility that it could be true, that Cal suddenly is gone, frightens her even more. Why am I alone? Where is Cal? Her reason tries to fight against whatever it is that is happening to her so that fear won't take over completely. But her heartbeat is speeding up, anyway, while she is panting for breath. It's not real. Like a flash in the dark, she makes an effort to hold on to this rational thought, a lifeline in the middle of insanity.
"Gill," Cal knows that he most likely won't be able to get through to her. Yet, he at least has to try. He doesn't like how her facial expression changed from confusion over concern to fear, her eyes fixated on the wall all the time. Suddenly, she starts to breathe much too rapidly, and he is worried that she is going to hyperventilate.
Gillian is shivering, every fiber of her body on high alert. The eerie sing-song is back, surrounding her, invading her senses. It's not real. Somehow, she manages to close her eyes, in spite of being controlled by this eerie force, and blocks out hereby the pools of blood that by now flow across the floor of the basement and have almost reached her. As soon as she closes her eyes, the haunting voice also stops, and Gillian remains motionless in this blind silence.
Then it happens. She may not see or hear anything, but she feels something. A cold whiff of breath that makes her flesh crawl. She turns around and has to open her eyes again to find out what this something could be. There is nothing and no one though. She is alone. Cal? She wants to call for him, but she can't, her throat feeling constricted. Where are you, Cal? The thought is caught in her head in an infinite loop although by now she doesn't understand anymore what it means. Who is Cal? All she needs to do is find the source of the whiff that is driving her crazy, caressing her skin with the angst-inducing touch of a dead lover. No matter how fast she is looking and turning around, though, she isn't able to discover the source. And no matter whether her eyes are open or closed, it is there. Something touching her with its ice-cold invisible hands. It has to stop. Somebody. Anybody. Make it stop, please. And then it all becomes a macabre orchestra. The voice. The blood pouring out of the wall. The sinister touch. And she snaps.
Cal carefully touches her although it is a difficult task to undertake since Gillian has jumped up and is turning around and around seemingly aimlessly. Maybe contact will help. But instead of calming her down, this seems to be the final straw. She pushes him away from her.
"Gillian," he tries again, more insisting this time, but each time he touches her, she defends herself even more vigorously and when he eventually grabs her shoulders and doesn't let go anymore, she completely panics.
For the first time in his life, Cal has absolutely no idea what to do. He can't let her freak out like this. The men will come back any moment, and unlike him, they will find a way to calm her down the hard way, most likely will enjoy her suffering or will separate them at worst. Cal can't stand the thought that they will be separated while Gillian is suffering like this. Therefore, he has to find a way to stop her. He is no psychologist. Yet, he is aware that it is probably not the best idea to hold someone tight who is having a panic attack. On the other hand, the way she is thrashing around, Cal is afraid that she may seriously hurt herself. Let alone that he has no time to wait this out.
"Gill... Luv... Calm down," he says even if he is quite sure that she doesn't hear him, doesn't recognize him right now. It's a bizarre dance they do. She is retreating and still fighting him until he has trapped her between his body and the wall. Yet, all she does is fight him, hitting him with a force he would never have thought possible coming from her. He will definitely have bruises tomorrow. If there is such a thing as tomorrow for them.
So, this is how they end up. He is pressed against her in a way he dreamed of more than once but not like this, her body writhing to get away from him. This can't be happening. Cal holds Gillian even tighter, catching her wrists to stop her from hitting him, hating the idea that he has to touch her there where her skin is already sore and that he has to hurt her even more in the process, unwittingly or not.
"Calm down, stop," he doesn't know whether he is talking to himself or to her.
Gillian doesn't fight back that fiercely anymore. Instead, she is sobbing uncontrollably, and somehow, this is worse. He has never seen her like this. And they have seen each other at their worst.
Suddenly, Cal hears something at the door. Time has run out. They are coming back, and he can't negotiate with them and handle Gillian at the same time.
He turns around to look at the door and eases his grip on one of her wrists her in doing so. When he looks back at her, she has somehow managed to pull a loose stone out of the wall behind her and is about to bash him on the head with it. It is a reflex, really, but here and now there doesn't seem to be another expedient. As tenderly as possible, Cal knocks her out and catches Gillian when her body goes limp.
"Sorry, luv," he mumbles, softly kissing her temple.
But when the door finally opens, there are not their kidnappers standing in front of him. Cal almost doubts who is the one having hallucinations when he catches sight of Doyle and Torres instead. In the background, he hears an armed struggle going on. So, they brought a little army along? He should be mad at Torres, but – damn – she never fails to amaze him, and he never ever was so glad to see the smug smile that only he is able to detect in her straight face.
"Torres, did you feel bored? Felt the need to let a terrorist run free?" he greets her.
Insecurity flickers across her face because, of course, she isn't as confident that it was the right thing to do as she probably made herself believe to pull it through. The insecurity is accompanied by confusion and concern when she discovers Gillian's limp body. But just when she draws breath to speak, he interrupts her.
"We'll clear that up later. First, I'd really like to get out of here," Cal says, giving Gillian a fireman's lift and walking past them through the door. He could have carried her in the traditional way. Then again, he may need one of his hands to remove the one or other obstacle on their way out.
"Don't forget Loker," he informs Doyle and Torres in passing.
It's only now that Ria sees Loker lying there. She was too distracted at the sight of Lightman holding an apparently unconscious Foster upright. Doyle barks some orders, and instantly, two of his men drag Loker out rather inelegantly.
The hallway of the basement is longer than Cal expected. He doesn't look left or right, barely notices bodies lying here and there. He doesn't know whether these are Doyle's men or not, simply doesn't care. All he wants is to get out, to get Gillian out. Upstairs. A wooden stairs. Crackling at each step. Her hip bone pressing in his shoulder. And then, eventually, fresh air. It's dark by now, but they are outside. They are free.
"Look at the stars, darling," he murmurs. "I never realized there were so many stars."
I really hope you don't hate me because I made Cal knock Gillian out. At least it was the most tender punch in history.
From next chapter on: The emotional aftermath and stuff.
Thank you for reading & even more if you leave a review. They make my day, really.