Fandom: Lie to Me
Length: 1,658 words
Timeline/Spoilers: set after 2.16 'Delinquent'
Notes: Unbeta'd, all comments, nitpicks & crit welcomed
Disclaimer: Not mine. No profit, no foul.
Summary: Sometimes, Ria hates working with people who do this shit for a living.
Ria looks up from the keyboard. Gillian is standing in the doorway, arms folded. Ria raises her eyebrows in lieu of repeating the word and making it a question.
Gillian doesn't say anything in response, but she doesn't need to. Her posture says it all. So, I hear you went to Cal's and tried to seduce him.
Ria closes her eyes briefly. 'He told you. He said he wouldn't do that.'
'And you believed him?'
Gillian can do impassive very well. Lightman is harder to read -- yes, Ria had believed him -- but there's always something going on in his face, whether he lets you understand it or not. Gillian simply goes still, like sculpture. Like a work of art. Something with a title like Representation of Serenity.
Except Gillian's not serene, right now. Not really.
Ria shuts the lid of the laptop. So. Gillian knows what happened -- or didn't, thank all that's sacred on this Earth -- between her and Lightman, and she's not entirely okay with it. So what's the context here? Ria would have bet her next five paychecks that there was nothing between Gillian and Lightman but a rather co-dependent platonic friendship, but she could be wrong. It's been known to happen.
When in doubt, play for time. And data.
She spreads her hands. 'I was fairly drunk, pretty hysterical and completely fucked up. My family does that to me. I wanted --' she stops for a second. What the fuck had she wanted, exactly? That night already has the haziness of a bad trip.
'A distraction,' she finally decides on. 'Something else to think about. To worry about.'
Gillian steps through the door and closes it behind her. 'You wanted more complications in your life?'
Ria gives a little laugh that comes out more rueful than amused. 'When you put it like that...' She shrugs. 'I don't know. I don't have a good answer. When you feel bad enough, sometimes you reach for things you know you shouldn't have. Booze, drugs, chocolate... your boss...' she risks a smile, but it isn't returned.
'Reaching for comfort?'
Ria laughs again, genuinely amused this time. The thought of Cal Lightman as a fluffy security blanket is truly hilarious. 'Oh, God, no. For something that proves you're the bad, weak person you already know you are.'
Gillian's face doesn't change, and Ria sits up a little straighter in her chair. The gathering data plan isn't going so well. Every word said here is revealing herself, not Gillian.
When out of options, go on the offensive. She gets up and walks over to where Gillian is standing, coming to a stop only when she's just slightly inside her personal space. 'What's the matter?' she says, filtering a lightly teasing edge into her tone. 'Are you upset that I hit on Cal? Maybe... jealous?'
Gillian surprises her by taking a step forward, narrowing the distance between them until it's Ria who feels uncomfortable. Her face is still so completely, perfectly blank. She surprises Ria even more by saying, simply, 'Yes.'
Ria blinks rapidly, knowing it's telegraphing her consternation but unable to stop it. 'Oh. I... oh.' She wants to back away but doesn't dare: this has all the hallmarks of a test, and she doesn't want to screw it up just because she wasn't fast enough to work out the rules. This kind of thing is more Lightman's style, but it doesn't pay to underestimate Gillian. She's just as formidable, in her own way. Ria's seen plenty of other people fail to understand that. She never thought she'd be one of them.
One of Lightman's lectures floats oh-so-helpfully through her memory: Don't get complacent. Don't ever assume that because you're good, you're the best.
'I'm sorry,' she says. 'I didn't mean -- I mean that I wouldn't, I wouldn't have -- I mean, I don't -- ' she can hear that she's babbling, and it takes a tremendous force of will to shut her mouth.
Gillian moves another step closer. 'You wouldn't have what? Fucked him?' Her voice is mild, as if she's just asking the question to make small talk. Nice day, isn't it?
It takes the rest of Ria's will to stand her ground, but she does it. She might not know what game they're playing, but she's damned if she's going to throw in her cards that easily. She lifts her chin to show both her defiance and willingness to take whatever's coming.
'No,' she says. 'I wouldn't have fucked him.'
And that's it, that's as much as she's going to take. Yes, she messed up. But it was hardly world-ending, and as transgressions go, Eli's done worse and been forgiven. She's tired of being made to feel -- of allowing herself to feel -- like a recalcitrant schoolgirl.
She takes her own step forward until they're little more than inches apart. 'No,' she says.
'No, what?' Gillian's voice is still so mild, so unconcerned. It starts to make Ria feel a little crazy. She wants to hear some actual feeling in that voice. She wants to hear something real.
'No, as in that's actually none of your goddamn business.' She can feel her shoulders rising and her chest expanding as her body tries to make itself look bigger, more dominant. She lets it. Gillian's wearing a masculine trouser suit and spike heels that add four inches to her height, and nobody who naturally looks that confident should be allowed to dress that powerfully.
'But you know what?' Ria continues. 'Since you asked, I'll tell you. I wouldn't have fucked him in his shower that night because Emily was in the house and even in the modern world there are some things a teenager shouldn't have to know about. But if she hadn't been home? Sure, I'd have fucked him. Because the thing is, Lightman's a free agent. Now, if I have trod on any toes here then I am sorry about that, but if you want someone then you have to do something about it. You have to stake a claim. If you don't then that person is fair game to any other free agent who happens by, and that's the bottom line. You make a move, or you lose.'
There's a long silence after she manages to stop herself speaking. Long enough for Ria to start wondering if the emotional fulfillment of mouthing off was worth her job.
But Gillian's not that vindictive, is she? There's still no clue on her face, and for the latest time in a long, long, list of times, Ria thinks how much she hates working with people who do this shit for a living.
When Gillian finally reacts, it surprises Ria again. She smiles, and it looks neither vindictive nor bitter. It looks pleased. Verging on triumphant. 'That was a good speech,' she says. 'You defended yourself well, and good for you. And you make an extremely good point. "If you want someone then you have to do something about it." Concise and pragmatic, which is just what I've come to expect from you. Well done.'
Ria can feel her eyes wanting to blink away her confusion again. She forces them to stay locked on Gillian's instead. 'You're... not angry with me? You weren't jealous?'
Gillian's smile widens and then morphs into that delicate but infectious laugh. 'No, and yes.'
'I -- what?' Making sense of this is beyond Ria now. She glances at the door, half-hoping Lightman will burst in and explain everything.
Gillian's smile has turned impish, now. It's an amazing thing, to watch that previously-immobile face suddenly become so expressive. Ria understands that this is a gift being given to her, and thinks she must have passed the test, although fuck knows how.
'Angry?' Gillian says, the laughter still in her voice. 'No. Jealous? Yes.'
She waits, with an obvious display of patience. And finally -- finally -- Ria gets it.
Damn. Damn. She's been an idiot. A 100%, top class, grade A idiot. In so very many ways. 'Oh,' she says, the heat of her embarrassment -- and something else -- flooding her skin.
Gillian throws back her head and laughs again. It's a sparkling sound, like a waterfall made of carbonated Evian.
Ria blinks again. Okay, so poetic romance isn't her strong point. What had Gillian said, earlier? Concise and pragmatic. When it comes to her job, she's all that and then some. When it comes to her personal needs? Not so much. In a blaze of clarity she realises why she ended up at Lightman's house that night, and why she'd made sure that Emily was home beforehand.
She reaches out a wondering, hesitant hand to cup Gillian's cheek. 'I... I never thought I deserved that. To be happy. I never thought I deserved to have what I really wanted.'
Gillian leans into her hand, and waits some more.
'I... I do,' she says, and her voice is as wondering, as hesitant, as her touch was. 'I really do.'
Gillian smiles again, and now there are more feelings in her face than Ria knows words for. 'Yes, Ria. You do.'
They close the remaining short distance between them, moving in perfect unison. As their lips meet the door is thrown open and Lightman rushes in, his eyes intent on the thick manilla file in his hands. 'Foster,' he says without looking up, 'Torres. Glad you're still here. There's a man we need to interview about --'
His head come up out of the file, and he stops. 'Right,' he says. Over Gillian's shoulder, Ria sees him snap the file shut and tuck it under his arm. 'This can wait.' He turns on his heel and strides back towards the door, then stops and turns again. One hand raises and he points a finger at Ria. 'Well done, Torres. Eventually.'
And with that, he's gone.
Ria looks back at Gillian, and this time they both laugh.