TITLE: Intellectual Porn
CHARACTERS: Gillian, Cal
SUMMARY: When she catches him in the act, it's not porn he is looking at. Or is it?
The door to his office is closed, but the news is just too good to not immediately share with him. Without knocking she enters his sanctuary and speaks before her brain can process what she sees on his face.
"The FBI paid the bonus. We're back in the game!"
He looks up from his laptop with surprise, but not really surprise about what she is saying. More surprise about the fact that she is actually here.
She gets closer to his desk, but the signals on his face are getting more cryptic with every step she takes. "Did I interrupt anything?"
"Nope," he just replies and fakes a lopsided grin she could detect as deception from a mile away. "So neither of us will have to sleep on the street for at least another six months?"
"Yep." Something is strange. The air is loaded with a certain kind of tension that he unsuccessfully denies with every fiber of his being, while at the same time just adding to it. She hasn't seen him pretend so strongly in quite a long time.
"Everything okay?" she asks and takes some more steps towards him, until she reaches his desk and slowly walks around it. While she does so, he carefully but forcefully closes the laptop.
She eyes him suspiciously. "Are you looking at porn during office hours?"
"You know my porn face. That's not it."
Maybe she does. His pupils are slightly dilated, though. "Are you keeping secrets from me?"
She has no doubt about that. She likes to keep a few good ones of her own. For a split second though, she is worried that he is hiding bad news from her (health / money / Emily / being on the assassination list of the mob or anything along these lines), but she sees something else on his face that tells another story.
"You're embarrassed." She smiles sweetly as if she just revealed his greatest secret.
"I'm not," he disputes, but she can see that he already knows he lost the game.
Her smile turns into a full-blown grin. "You are and it's kind of a cute look on you."
"Cut the crap." He holds her gaze, not really angry, maybe even slightly amused, and definitely still embarrassed.
"Are you going to show me?"
He groans and at first she thinks he's just going to ignore her, but after some seconds he is slowly opening up the laptop again. "Happy?"
She takes a closer look and what she sees is probably the last thing she ever expected, but it makes her smile with sweet victory. "I remember that. I was really rather good at that lecture." The video is on pause at about half of its length, so he must have already watched it for some while.
"I didn't know you were so smart at 23 already."
"Well, never underestimate a woman."
She studies her mid-90s hair and the power suit she had bought just for this occasion when being given the chance to present some of her research to an illustrious auditorium of experts. Her first moment to shine. She had only just begun writing her doctorate. The camera footage is grainy and a little shaky—just what you would expect from a video recorded in 1994.
"Did you know it was on the internet?" he asks.
"Yeah, the university asked me if they could put it in their archive."
She presses the play button and lets the video continue for some seconds before pausing it again. "So, it's intellectual porn. Interesting."
He shakes his head in bemusement. "Just research."
"Yeah, sure." She wonders how he found it and whether he just googles her from time to time. Well, yeah, of course he does. He's Cal Lightman after all.
She places her hand on his shoulder and squeezes slightly. "I'll let you continue. Maybe you'll learn something new."
He looks up to her (and she thinks that he does in more ways than just the literal sense right now). "Probably will."
She grins and walks back towards the door. "Can't believe I caught you being embarrassed like that."
"Shut up," he just calls after her.
There are three ways this story can go from here.
If you're a hopeless romantic, go read Ending One.
If you're as horny as Cal, read Ending Two.
And if you're a realist who knows they'll just avoid the elephant in the room yet again, read Ending Three.
(Well, you're going to read all three of them anyway, aren't you?)
She stops just before reaching the door and turns around again.
"You know, you could just ask me for a date if you'd like to watch me say smart things for a prolonged amount of time." Bold but true.
"What if I wouldn't like that?"
She mulls it over in her head. "Then you should stop lying to yourself."
He snorts and she leaves the room eventually. Back in her own office it doesn't take long until an email from him without a subject line lands in her inbox. She opens it immediately.
'So this date that you were offering. What day did you have in mind?'
She smiles to herself and reads the postscript he put under the question.
'PS: Here's a link to some intellectual porn of me in the meantime. Enjoy.'
It's a YouTube video of him giving a lecture a couple of years ago. And she actually does watch it before replying that Friday would be good for her.
Before she reaches the door, he jumps up to his feet and approaches her with fast strides. When he catches up with her only seconds later, he blocks her way and takes her hand to pull her over to his study instead. "Need to show you something."
In there he crouches down to put in the code and open the safe. She watches him take out a metal box that she has not yet seen before and he opens the lock on it with a key from the bunch he fishes from his jeans pocket. There's a pretty thick file in there that he hands over to her.
"One of the many secrets I'm keeping from you."
She flips through it and skims over some of the pages. "So you're not only keeping files on everybody I ever dated, but also on every smart thing I've ever written. Sweet."
There's the abbreviated version of her doctoral thesis in there, copies and clippings of articles she had published in scientific journals, her summaries of key cases they've worked on, and a couple of expert opinions she wrote for court.
"It's not a jerk-off-file, is it?"
"Don't be silly," he deadpans. "Though, smart is sexy, as you very well know."
She looks at him. "You're talking about yourself?"
"You're doing pretty stupid things with that smart mind of yours all of the time."
He shrugs. "Yeah, and I'm about to make right now one of these occasions."
"Yeah?" His pupils are still dilated and now, she thinks, hers are probably, too.
"Yeah. Most stupid thing of all things," he says cryptically, but of course by now they both understand the meaning behind his words.
He takes the file from her hand, tosses it to a nearby chair and gets in her personal space faster than she can think about her next move. She narrows her eyes. "You went from being embarrassed to being shamelessly aroused pretty fast."
His faces comes closer. "You've always been way too smart for me." Even closer. His lips are lightly brushing over hers and she closes her eyes, before she feels him move away again and kiss the side of her face somewhere close to her ear instead.
"God, you're so stupid indeed," she complains and rolls her eyes in frustration.
"Tell me something new," he whispers into her ear. "Let's take this stupidity somewhere else."
His hushed breath in her ear gives her goosebumps and she supposes that finishing work a little early today is something they might both deserve.
She hesitates and thinks about turning around again to ask him why exactly he is watching that video. She has a pretty good idea why, but she would prefer to actually hear him say it out loud.
So she imagines herself stopping next to his chair once more and asking the question. He would evade and squirm out from under her scrutiny, and she would let him, because it's maybe all the answer she needs.
They would look at each other and both grin and she would know that he knows, and he would know that she knows. Yet both of them would be none the wiser.
In the end she does nothing of that and walks out of the door, when she suddenly hears his "Hey".
She walks back and raises her eyebrows at him. "Yeah?"
"Good job on the FBI bonus."
He could have said a lot of things and she certainly appreciates this sentiment, but maybe—just maybe—she was hoping for him to say something else.
"Thanks," she returns and smiles as he smiles back.