Title: Nightmare for a Dream
Fandom: Lie to Me
Summary: The truth’s sick of letting the stars of The Lightman Group lie to themselves.
Notes: For augrah – who I love love love for introducing me to this fandom – in partial exchange for the in-transit package of Roth goodies. ♥
Gillian fumbles for the plastic arch of the phone on her nightstand, bringing it to her cheek in a fog. She rolls onto her side, cuddling closer against the swirl of her burgundy sheets before sighing out a greeting.
“Gillian.” She can’t immediately place the voice on the other end, but there’s a rigidity in it that cuts through the residual dregs of sleep in her mind like a white-hot blade. She sits up, backing into the headboard.
“Zoe?” Gillian’s eyes dart to the clock – 3:48 – and she’s overtaken by a sick swoop of anxiety. A rush of benign possibilities, each more ridiculous than the last, bursts into her mind in an effort to reassure her, but she knows from the other woman’s tone that something is very wrong even before she hears the words.
“Gillian. It’s Cal – the doctor’s aren’t sure what – they think it might have been – I don’t – Emily just found him -”
Gillian sits completely still, eyes focused intently on a spot she isn’t really seeing. “Is he -?”
Zoe lets out a breath. Gillian squeezes her eyes shut. She’s gripping the phone so hard it would hurt if she had a fraction of brain space left to devote to physical pain. “I’m sorry.”
There’s a click that says Zoe’s hung up, but Gillian still has the phone in a vice grip, and she’s silently begging someone – anyone – to say something. She slowly curls into herself, knees to chest, arms to knees, temple to arms. Her hair cascades into her face, shivering against her skin like raindrops in a deluge.
Though there’s no reason she can think of to be early, Gillian is in a hurry to get into work. There’s a slight, inexplicable tremor in her hands, the sort that usually comes with a caffeine high, and she’s forgotten to put her stockings on. She’s collecting files at the reception desk when a door opens down the hall and she hears the familiar brogue.
“-and get me that wanker from yesterday, the midget-y one. If he’s not in the cube by lunch, my heart meds are coming out of your salary.”
“Anyone ever tell you patience is a virtue?” Loker calls after him.
“You’re free to phone the Buddha on your next job search.”
Gillian spins on her heel, dropping a blue folder whose contents shatter and slip their way across the polished floor. She barely notices, her eyes fixed on the man who’s just turning to her in surprise. The residual smirk from his exchange with Loker vanishes as he catches the look on her face. A few long strides and he’s right in front of her, big hands on her shoulders, eyebrows scrunched in concern as his eyes rake her face.
“Ay ay, luv, what’s the matter?”
Gillian presses the tips of her fingers to her temple and closes her eyes against the intensity of his gaze. The nightmare itself – lost to her conscious since dawn – has blazed back only in scraps, but the feeling balloons inside her, undiluted by daylight or the truth that invalidates it – that Cal is alive and well, that the warmth of his hands now soothes the shoulders that so recently rocked at his loss. She takes a deep breath and composes herself.
“Nothing,” she smiles and gives his forearm a light squeeze. “I didn’t sleep well last night.”
He gives her a long look. “I’m here luv.”
He brushes her cheek with his palm and disappears down the hallway.
Gillian manages not to drop any more folders for the rest of the week. They expose a few truths, send a criminal to jail, and save an innocent woman from a terrible fate. But the lead that dropped into her stomach as the dream rushed back to her Tuesday morning remains, and she can feel her pulse singing constantly, her heart a notch more active than usual.
It’s Friday night, and Loker and Torres have just left. Gillian’s out on the balcony, hands on the railing and eyes closed. The night is still and chilly. She doesn’t hear Cal come up behind her and starts as his arms slip around her waist, his chin coming to rest on her shoulder.
Gillian takes a deep, steadying breath and settles back into his chest.
“You scared me.”
“Ah yeah, that’s me, stealthy as a ninja.” He sees her lips curve up. “What’s it then?”
Gillian turns her face toward his. He’s got his head cocked on her shoulder, and while his expression is pleasant enough, his eyes tell her that he’s not going to let whatever’s up go until he gets the truth, that he may not be able to construct the whole truth without the benefit of words but that he knows something’s wrong and that’s enough for him to push. Gillian can feel his eyes on her as she moves one hand from the railing and brings the pad of her thumb to his lips, letting it slip from one side to the other. Her eyes slide up to his and she’s spent enough time reading people to know what she sees there, what he can’t hide. She revolves in his arms until their chests touch and weaves her arms around him, one gliding over the warm plane of his back while her other hand sweeps up the nape of his neck, her fingers lacing into his hair. She buries her head in the curve of his shoulder, sighing deeply.
They rest like that, swaying infinitesimally, until her stomach rumbles softly.
“How does Chinese sound?” His words ruffle through her hair.
He can sense her smile against his neck. She lifts her head, exhaling softly, eyes gleaming. She can feel his arms tighten around her as his gaze sweeps her face. His lips twitch and he pulls her to his side, leading her back into the office with his arm looped around her waist.
Cal trades the delivery guy a twenty for the bursting plastic bag stamped with THANK YOU and a garish neon smiley face.
He stops at the threshold to his office, the bag swinging in his grip. Gillian’s curled up on the couch, fast asleep. He pauses against the doorframe for a few moments, watching her.
Cal leaves the take-out on the table and settles onto the edge of the couch, stroking a palm over her hair. She sighs and eases into his touch. He rises and shrugs out of his jacket, tucking it over her sleeping form before turning the overhead lights out and lowering himself onto the floor beside the couch.
Cal’s leaning back against the edge of the couch, sleepless but content, when Gillian begins to get restless, her head turning from side to side against the cushion.
He twists to face her, hears her breath hitch.
“No,” her eyes are squeezed shut, eyebrows knitted. “Cal.”
His heart stammers. He raises himself up onto the couch beside her as her nightmare grows more insistent.
“I ca – can’t lose you, please.”
Cal’s eyes widen, his face softening. He smooths his hand down the length of her arm.
“Gill, luv, wake up. It’s okay.”
She’s muttering in the mumble of the unconscious, the articulate corners of her words sanded into softness by sleep but sharpened by an undercurrent of anxiety.
“No. No! You can’t leave me, you can’t, I didn’t get to say – I didn’t…”
Cal’s pulse is racing. He strokes her hair, gives her fingers a light squeeze.
“Come on luv, wake up, it’s okay.” He hates seeing her like this, hates thinking about her alone, thrashing against her pillow every night since the day he first saw the nightmare on her face. He hates himself for not trying harder to wake her, but he’s riveted, ruled by the voice in the back of his mind that’s telling him to just wait, that this is something he needs to hear.
Gillian’s shivering wildly, clenching his jacket to her chest.
“Cal, no! Cal, I love you. Cal, please. Please wake up.”
Cal exhales in a rush, winded. He’s a mess of extremes, lungs frozen, head and heart flooded with heat. He wraps his arms around her and holds her against his chest, quenching the nightmare like a flame, his palm easing up and down the curve of her back, fingers trembling.
“God, Gillian. I love you too, you know that. I love you. I'm sorry, I'm such an idiot, I should have told you. Wake up, Gill. Everything’s fine. Everything’s perfect.”
There are distant sounds somewhere beside her. Her lungs are struggling for air, jammed by the mist between her mind and her body. Her form goes taut as her eyes fly open. She’s gasping, and her trembling hands are trying to come to her chest but they can’t seem to reach it, there’s something in the way. She’s about to call his name with her first breath when she realizes he’s already there, beside her on the couch, his arms around her, his body between her grasping hands and her heaving chest, his lips in her hair. She squeezes her eyes shut, relaxing around a sob, her hands alternating between running flat across his back and bunching in the fabric of his shirt.
“It’s okay love, everything’s alright.”
She clutches him against her, breathing still ragged, but when she speaks her voice is steady. “Cal.”
He strokes the back of her head and she lifts her chin, her eyes finding his. Moments come and go. She finds the truth in his eyes, bare and unburied, and he finds awareness of the truth in hers and gives a slow, heavy blink of confirmation, his lips easing up at the corners.
“Let’s get you home love.”