A/N: Wow! I am excited that there are so many new LTM/Callian stories or story updates here on FFN. The new year just became even more promising. I have a few to read & review and hope to catch up with that over the weekend but one thing at a time.
Here's the first chapter of my new story (that will probably be a two- or three-shot). The basic idea is why Cal and Gillian had to define "the line". I know, I know – it is anything but knew. When I re-watched the scene in Season One in which they talk about the line and how they have to respect it, though, the idea for this story came up and wouldn't let go. Timeline-wise, the story is set before the show begins, starting with how we all know they met - namely Cal being Gillian's patient - and continuing from there until the moment when they define the line.
One more thing: Of course, this story is my take on what happened between them, but it is no alternative universe in which they end up "happily ever after" because they weren't romantically involved when the show started. Just so that you know what to expect. IMO, this is not necessarily a bad thing because their mutual attraction that will be the center of this story makes up for a lot. So, here it is. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Not mine. LTM is owned by Fox. This is just for fun and as sad or mad I am that this brilliant show was cancelled, I am really, really grateful that someone created Cal Lightman and Gillian Foster. Thank you!
Dr. Cal Lightman is a bad patient. No, scratch that. He used to be a bad patient but since he met Dr. Gillian Foster, he loves being a patient. Not that he would ever admit this. To anybody. Especially not to his wife.
His superiors ordered him to visit her – a psychologist – and he was furious, well aware of their hidden agenda to diagnose him as broken in the head, as he describes it, in case he won't do as he is told. He didn't expect his punishment to turn into a reward.
His mood improves merely based on the fact that he is going to see her and whenever he sees her, he doesn't want his therapy unit to end. After their last session, he knows that he doesn't want to work for the Pentagon any longer. He wants to start his own business and he doesn't want to do it alone.
Dr. Gillian Foster is well aware of the fact that she has gotten too close to one of her patients. Dr. Cal Lightman. The fact that she is aware of it, though, doesn't mean that she can explain it, let alone stop. Not that there is anything to stop. Nothing happened. They haven't even come close to violating the ethical aspects she has to obey; everything is purely professional. Yet, there is a special connection between them, an almost intimate bond despite the fact that they just met. She is attracted to him in a way that never happened to her before, not even when she met her husband, and she hates that she can't tell whether it is her imagination playing tricks on her or whether he feels the same.
There is an awkward moment before he walks out of the room after their last session as if he wants to say something or considers to give her a hug, but in the end he just leaves. She almost holds him back, wants to actually. Of course, she doesn't do it – ethics and all.
Afterwards, the void in her life taunts her and she wonders how it is possible to want something so much she never even had. She is happily married, she keeps telling herself. Her husband and she want to start a family. Everything should be perfect, but all she sees when she is about to fall asleep and closes her eyes is how he slouched on the couch in her consulting room as if he belonged there.
Cal is no voice expert, but he is pretty sure that Gillian Foster tries to cover up relief when he calls her a few weeks later and he can't imagine why she would be relieved that he calls. On the surface, though, she sounds friendly and adequately surprised. He is also surprised to find out that it takes considerably less effort than he expected to talk her into meeting him. As soon as he tells her that it is a matter of business, she agrees and he can't avoid the impression that any reasonable pretense would have been good enough for her to meet him. Go figure.
Gillian can't believe what Cal Lightman asks her. Starting a business together. Giving up her safe job in exchange for the complete unknown. This is not who she is. The mere thought should scare her off. Instead, she knows she will say yes the moment he asks her. Something just clicks when they are together and the very idea of being his business partner causes the butterflies in her stomach to flap their wings wildly. She doesn't tell him her answer straight away, though, even if she doesn't want to string him along. But she can't give him an answer here and now. No matter what her instinct, or whatever it is that takes over whenever she's with him, wants her to do; this is a far-reaching decision. She has to talk it over with her husband.
They met after work for a drink and he raises his glass.
"Whatever your decision will be, it's Cal from now on," he says and clicks glasses with her.
"Gill," she answers, realizing that she just gave him permission to call her by the term of endearment only her husband and very close friends are allowed to use.
He smiles like a cat that is going to indulge in eating the mouse any second.
"Now, Gill," he asks, "tell me exactly what I have to do to get you to say yes."
He smiles some more and the butterflies in her stomach go crazy.
Nothing, she thinks because her decision to say yes and become his business partner stands already firm even if he doesn't know it as yet.
"Beg," she answers instead and can't believe how sultry her voice sounds. What on earth is she doing?
The ink on the contract documents has barely dried when they find the perfect premises for The Lightman Group. They agreed on the name because neither Gillian nor Cal are avid for fame but since he wrote the famous book, it makes sense to refer to his name.
They meet outside and Cal opens the door. He insisted that only Gillian and he take a look around, and eventually, the realtor gave in and handed the keys over to him.
By now, she is able to read his face pretty well and his voice even better. He is not remotely as eased as he tries to appear. This is as big a step for him as it is for her.
There are just a few and rather small rooms, but it is a start. And most of all, it is theirs. Their company. It almost takes her breath away, and judging by the look on his face, his, too.
When their little tour is finished, Gillian stops and turns around to face Cal. She wants to tell him how much this means to her, but there is a lump in her throat and the words won't come. So, she coughs slightly instead.
"Yes," he says, looking at her intensely, and she realizes that he can read her as well as she can read him. Yes, it's overwhelming. Yes, it's wonderful. Then again, this is not how Cal Lightman talks. Therefore, one simple word has to be enough. "Yes," he repeats, knowing that she understands.
She does, getting closer and hugging him because this is a special moment for both of them.
It is their first embrace and the moment Cal closes his arms around her, it dawns on him that it is a mistake. She feels and smells too good to not let his imagination stray. Even if the way Gillian nestles up to him is rather innocent, he knows there's more to it. They both know. He is attracted to her in a way that never happened to him before, not even when he met his wife. Moreover, he is pretty sure that she feels at least partly the same. For God's sake, she made him beg before she agreed to be his business associate. He will never forget the way her voice sounded – sultry and seductive. And he didn't hesitate to do it to make her a part of his life. Back then, either of them was aware what they were doing, that they were walking a tightrope. In a way, they still are. It doesn't matter, though, because they are both married and they are both not the cheating kind. These moments are all they have.
So, he relishes the moment, holds her as close and as long as possible while still being able to classify it as appropriate between business partners. And then a little bit closer and longer because, really, who is he trying to fool?
When Cal finally releases her, he kisses Gillian on the cheek. Well, not exactly on the cheek but almost on the lips instead, missing them only by millimeters. It's as close as he can come to kissing her without actually kissing her. His lips tingle with an anticipation he wants to but can't fulfill. He feels her tense briefly before she smiles shyly and with a twinge of regret at him. His heart aches when he realizes that she trusts him enough to be sure that he won't make a move on her despite their mutual attraction.
They call the realtor and tell him that they want to sign the lease contract. When Cal walks Gillian to her car after that, they barely talk. There is nothing they could say they don't already know.
The official opening ceremony of The Lightman Group takes place a couple of weeks later.
Gillian catches Cal at a favorable moment. All their guests seem to be occupied otherwise.
"So, do you hate it as much as you expected?" she asks buoyantly, smiling at someone walking by.
"Even more, darling," he growls, nodding friendly at someone else.
Formalities are not something Cal Lightman enjoys. She has to give him credit for trying though.
"Good thing then that we are the only ones here who are able to read people," she banters, "because you could do better faking it."
Cal snorts. "Doing my best here. So... Where's Alec?" he changes the subject. Deflection. Such an evening with its formal obligations is bad enough for him as it is. He doesn't want to talk about it as well during the few minutes he gets to spend with her.
Of course, they invited their spouses to the opening ceremony, but neither Zoe nor Alec appeared so far.
A slight flicker of sadness crosses Gillian's face. Ever since her decision to become Cal's business partner, all she and Alec seem to do is fight. Alec prefers the straight path. Working at the Pentagon was a guarantee for her career and useful contacts. Working with a scientist who has a rather peculiar reputation despite his brilliant mind isn't. When Gillian told Alec about Cal's offer, their talk turned into an argument quickly. So, they argued, she cried and then they argued some more. In the end, he gave in because he had rarely seen her insist on something so fiercely. Alec loves Gillian and doesn't want to lose her even if he still believes it was the wrong decision.
"He couldn't make it," she says quietly. Gillian is aware that Cal sees the sadness in her eyes and is grateful that he doesn't call her out on it.
Alec had left open whether he would come or not, and until an hour ago, she hoped that he would join up with them. At so late an hour, though, she has given up hope. It hurts. Another reminder that there are two men in her life now who don't seem to walk into the same direction. On some days she wonders how long she can keep running back and forth between them until the distance becomes too large so that she has to make another decision.
"What about Zoe?" she asks. In a way, Gillian is deflecting like Cal. On the other hand, she really wants to know.
"She has to prepare for a court hearing tomorrow," he states and she can't tell whether it is true or a pretense. Maybe he doesn't know himself.
Gillian hopes that it is true, that Cal doesn't have to fight the same fights at home she has. Then again, it is oddly fitting that neither her husband nor his wife showed up tonight.
It is one of those moments. They could talk about so much more or they could just let it be, ignore it for the sake of the big picture. Their silence lasts a moment too long to take up the issue. For now, they will ignore what it means that it is only the two of them here.
Cal winks at Gillian and is about to walk back to the guests for another round of the smalltalk he hates so much but is willing to fake to promote their new company. Apparently, though, he has something else to say first.
"Oh," he lets drop casually, "I almost forgot to tell you. The office equipment, the security deposit and the rent for the first six months used up my last money. So, aside from what you brought into our partnership, we're practically broke."
Gillian stares at him. Accounting is his weakness, but she hoped there would be time to figure out how to handle their finances after the opening ceremony. He assured her that his assets were sufficient to cover the start-up costs.
"Don't worry, luv," he reassures her. "If your money is used up, too, before we have any clients, I can always go to Vegas."
Cal's finger caresses her jaw and his touch irritates Gillian enough so that she doesn't respond immediately to this rather unpleasant revelation and rather unusual attempt at a solution. And it irritates her even more that he most likely is aware of the effect his touch has on her and is doing it on purpose.
He holds her gaze until he is sure that she neither will tear him apart nor delve into the subject right away although the way she tilts her head back tells him that they will for sure discuss it tomorrow. Only then, he turns around and walks away from her.
"Great," Gillian mumbles, watching Cal disappear among the crowd.
Yes, he can be really irritating sometimes. In a moment like this, she is relieved that her well-adjusted, by comparison boring husband will be waiting for her when she comes home and not a ticking time bomb like Cal.
To be continued. Thank you for reading.
Every review is very appreciated (long, short, constructive criticism, your call).
Next chapter: Things get a little tense. Well, there has to be a reason why they need the line, right?