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it ain't much I'm asking (if you want the truth)

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Gillian looks in the interrogation room that the NYPD used, and sees their suspect sitting there, twiddling his hands on the table. “His name is Richard Wheatley,” the woman, Sgt. Bell, tells her, as they look through the window together. “He’s a con man, a liar, a murderer, and he’s charming enough to get away with it. That’s why we asked you to come in.”

“And why me alone, and not my partner, Cal?”

Bell turns to look at her. “Because he’s more likely to talk if it’s you. I’ll be right here if you need me.”

Gulping, Gillian nervously twists the ring she wears on her left hand and opens the door. She’s not nervous, she’s done this how many hundreds of times before? But rarely without Cal, and there’s something about the tone of Bell’s voice when talking about him that suggests this may be one of her most difficult cases yet.

“You must be Richard Wheatley,” she says, striding across the interrogation room floor. “I’m Gillian Foster-Lightman, and I’ve been brought in to talk to you.”

“I’d say I was pleased to meet you, but I’m afraid these leg cuffs they have me in are a bit chafing. Is there any way you could arrange for Ayanna to do something about it for me?” His wide grin is disarming, bright white gleaming off the fluorescent lights above him.

He talks about the sergeant as if they are close, personal friends, on a first name basis.

“Have we met before?” He looks at her, and she thinks that under different circumstances – if she wasn’t married to Cal, and he wasn’t a slimy sleazeball of a criminal, and they lived different lives somewhere, maybe she’d be reacting to his attentions differently. “You look awfully familiar.”

She purses her lips together. “No, Mr. Wheatley, I don’t believe I’ve had that honor before.”

“Are you sure? There’s another lawyer at the practice I use for all my legal cases, she looks quite a bit like you. Twin sister, perhaps? You’re the prettier one by far, I assure you.”

Uses deflection as a defense mechanism.

“I wasn’t called in here to discuss alternatives for your legal counsel.” She opens the manila file folder Bell gave her. “I’ve been informed that you had quite a list of charges against you that you got dismissed. Want to tell me about that?”

He props his feet up on the table and smirks. “I don’t know what more I could tell you that isn’t in there, Gillian,” he says, looking at her straight in the face. “I didn’t lie to Elliot – oh, that would be Detective Stabler, I doubt you’ve had the pleasure of meeting him, quite a brute of a man. But I must say, he has exquisite taste in women. I didn’t lie to him, and I didn’t lie to any of the other countless people they’ve dragged me into rooms like this with.”

More informal use of first names.

She spins her ring and steels herself. She knows that it would be considered a tell if anyone could see her left hand, but she’s slid it under the table. “Tell me something about yourself. Anything. Could be a childhood memory, your favorite color –“

“Right now, I think I have a particular fondness for maroon,” he says, and she doesn’t have to look down to remember she’s wearing a short-sleeved maroon blouse. “Oh, don’t you worry your pretty little head.” He tsks slightly. “I’d never do anything to break up your marriage. You see, I’m married too, and my Pilar gives me all the satisfaction I’d ever need. But I’m married, not blind.”

She’s glad Cal is back at their hotel, or maybe he and Emily have taken their granddaughter Celeste out to the park. Getting to spend time in New York is nice, especially since it makes it easier to see Emily and Celeste more often, with them having moved to Boston for her husband’s job a few years before. She’s going to need to see him and relax with him a bit, because this guy somehow knows her.

It’s incredibly unnerving.

If she didn’t know better, she’d swear he’s trained in the same art her and Cal have perfected over the years.

But he has his tells; the corner of his lip tends to quirk upwards when he’s saying something he wants her to believe, but might not be entirely sure of the accuracy himself. Every now and then, she can feel his knee slightly rustle against the chair leg, and for all his bravado, this Wheatley is scared.

“Tell you what,” she says, because she wants nothing more than to cut this short for the day. She’ll be in town for at least two more days anyway, with the retainer the NYPD has her on as an expert. With him, it’s more important than possibly ever before to maintain an even, balanced control of the interrogation, and by cutting it short, before he can get too comfortable, she knows she maintains that control. “I’ll meet you back here tomorrow, same time, and I want you to be prepared to talk.”

“Oh, I’m always prepared to talk,” he says, flashing that grin with way too many teeth showing one more time, “the problem, my dear, is finding people willing to listen. Be a dear and have Ayanna escort me out of here when you’re done, will you?”

She turns away, rolls her eyes where he can’t see, and crosses the room back to the door. “Goodbye, Wheatley.” When she’s back in the hallway, she looks to Ayanna – Sgt. Bell – and grimaces. “Leave him in there a while longer, will you?”

“Absolutely.” Bell’s curls bounce slightly as she laughs. “I think you definitely rattled him a bit though.”

Gillian peers through the window, and sees him with his head buried in his hands, instead of the confident posture he had while she was in the room.

Good. Let him rattle a while longer. Something will shake loose, eventually. And we'll all be better off for it.