"Hey." He'd have known her voice anywhere – soft, reassuring, the one she used with small children, battered women, and him. Eric wondered what exactly that said about him. Too distracted by the atom bomb his mother had just detonated on his life to care, he just scooted over on the break room sofa to make room for Calleigh, and muttered a soft "hey" in reply. She settled next to him, slid a hand onto his knee. "I hear your mother was here."
"Yeah, she uh…" Of course she'd bring that up. Could always count on Calleigh to spill salt on a wound while trying to be nice. "I needed to talk to her about something."
"Does this have anything to do with why you're staying at the motel?"
"Cal, if it's all the same to you, I'd rather not talk about it right now."
It was the wrong thing to say. He knew immediately that it was the wrong thing to say when the warm pressure of her hand eased away from his knee and her eyes went carefully guarded. She shifted slightly, tugging uselessly at the hem of her shirt. "Okay…"
"No, wait. Cal. I'm sorry, its just…" Eric sighed heavily, wishing he knew what to say, wishing he could talk to her about this, but he didn't know. Didn't know if it would put her at risk, didn't know… hell, he didn't even know what he didn't know at this point. All he knew right now was that everything he'd ever known to be true was a lie. "It's a long story. Can we maybe… save it for later?"
She settled again then, relaxed. Apparently that had been the right thing to say. "Yeah, of course. In fact…" She shifted a little, seemed suddenly on edge again. Nervous. It was an odd look on Calleigh, but not entirely unpleasant. She smiled at him, a little tight, a little uncertain. A lot adorable, actually. And then she just handed him what felt like a credit card.
He turned it over in his hand, frowned. It was a keycard. "The Sofitel?"
"The Deluca is a dump, Eric. You should be staying somewhere that people aren't hiding money in the vents and shooting each other."
"Money in the vents, huh?"
"Yeah. That's what Reston and his wife were fighting over. It was drug money; Linda Bowen's boyfriend found it in the vent and hid it in the ice machine."
"The ice machine?" Somehow Eric couldn't muster up the effort to be surprised.
"Yeah. Molly Reston isn't claiming the money, for obvious reasons, so I'm about to head back over and give it to Linda. Twenty-six grand; it'll go a long way for her and that baby."
Eric watched her face, the way her lips curved into a smile, half-sad, half-pleased. He wished for just a moment – okay, maybe he'd been wishing for a while now – that she could ease a little bit of his pain just as easily as she was about to ease Linda Bowen's. "You're a really good person, you know that?"
The compliment threw her, made her dart her eyes around the room in a search for something to deflect his attention to. He was no stranger to that move. But her smile was more honest now, fuller, more flattered. It pleased him, eased a little bit of the pain after all. "I'm just doing my job, Eric."
"No, you're not." Not wanting to listen to her defense, he pushed ahead, tapping her thumb gently with the key card. "I can't take this."
"Eric." Her face went hard, determined. There was the Calleigh he knew and loved. Her hand covered his again, pressing the keycard back into it. "I don't want you staying in a place where you're going to be shot at."
"So I should just stay somewhere where they can poison my room service instead?" he teased, lacing their fingers, keycard still separating their palms.
"We won't order room service," she replied simply, giving his hand a squeeze that made the edge of the keycard dig into his palm. He wondered how pathetic it made him that he didn't mind the bite of pain a damned bit, and then his brain finally processed the beginning of what she said.
"Wait – 'we?'"
"Consider me your new bodyguard, Eric." Much to his disapproval, she pulled her hand from his, leaving the keycard behind before patting her gun gently. "Armed and ready, and at your side until whatever it is that is making people shoot at you has blown over."
"Calleigh, I don't think this will just-"
"Passed, then." She was using that tone, the one she used when she meant business. "Until this has passed. Losing you isn't an option, Eric. Not for me."
Well. That was... telling. Or maybe he was just hopeful. Still… "Its too much, Cal. The Sofitel is like $300 a night."
"I'm good with money, Eric. I can afford a week at the Sofitel, and after that, we'll figure it out. Besides, it's already booked; I called on my lunch. Five nights." Something shifted in her face then, the hesitance was back, and she reached for his hand again. She chewed her lip for just a moment, then lifted her eyes to his. Nerves, energy, just a hint of anticipation and doubt. "Just us."
Oh. Oh. She was… oh. Five nights in a hotel, just them. Plenty of time to talk and… oh. Well. That was… She was smirking at him now, he realized, and he wondered what his face must have looked like. "Gobsmacked" would probably be the right word. "Right. Yeah."
Her smirk spread to a grin and he couldn't help but mirror it before she nodded and drew her hand away again. "I'm going to go give this money to Linda Bowen and pack you a bag. Just go to the hotel after work. I'll swing home after I get off, get a bag for myself and meet you there."
"Okay." Eric was pretty sure he'd never had butterflies before, but if the trembling, nervous energy in his gut was any indication, he had them now. Leave it to Calleigh to make him feel like a blushing schoolgirl. "After work."
"Mmhmm. And then you'll tell me why your mother was here." It wasn't a question; it was an order. This time, it wasn't one he was inclined to disobey.
"Yeah, we'll talk." It was his turn to smile at her, but the smile faltered just a little when she lifted a hand to cup his cheek, then brought her lips to the other. She lingered just a moment longer than would be considered friendly before pulling back and pushing herself off the couch in one fluid move.
"See you tonight."
"Yeah." Eric felt dumb, speechless, and he watched her walk out of the room before squeezing his hand tightly around the keycard. For a day that had started out bad and just gotten worse, it looked like there might be a good night ahead after all.