Sometimes I think I am out of my league
And then sometimes I think I can dream
Sometimes I wish I could be the one fish
That you choose out of all in the sea
- 'If You Wanna, I Might', Hello Goodbye
Warm autumn sunlight had streamed in through the thin blinds. They'd awoken rested, and with a surprising lack of awkwardness. He'd padded into the bathroom after she was done to find a fresh toothbrush laid out and a wash towel beside it, all the while listening to the comforting sounds of her pottering around the kitchen, preparing coffee and toast.
After being expressly told that he wasn't allowed to help and being shooed out of the kitchen, he proceeded to further familiarise himself with her new living room. It was so her, muted greens and calm creams, filled bookshelves and elegant flowers. There were photographs dotted around the place in simple silver frames and he chuckled as his eyes landed on a snapshot of the day they opened The Lightman Group, all smiles, as the happy memories washed over him.
"That was a good day." Her soft voice behind him pulled him out of his thoughts. He turned around to see her framed in the doorway, a gentle smile on her face and looking more beautiful than he would have thought possible for anybody still wearing yesterday's rumpled clothes.
"Describe your ideal woman." The words came unbidden to his head.
I'm looking at her, he thought.
The coffee machine had beeped and she'd disappeared back into the kitchen as he sat down heavily on the couch. And then she was back, placing two mugs of steaming coffee and a plate of toast on the table and observing him quietly.
She watched his hands fidget, a trait not best known to Cal Lightman. His eyes flitted around the room and she bet if she were able to get close enough she'd hear his heart beating fast in his chest.
"I'm in love with you." He looked up at her, nothing but raw honesty in his eyes. It took her breath away and she sank down to the couch next to him. "I've been debating whether or not to tell you," he continued softly, "because I don't know how you feel exactly, and I love what we have now, you know, how close we are. I don't want that to change, regardless of my latest declaration," he chuckled, nervously. "But," he paused, moving his head to the side to look at her, "I needed to tell you now." A heavy pause as he thought about his next words and she felt herself leaning forward in case he started whispering and she missed it.
"Last night, before I came here," he gestured with his hand, his words coming out fast, "I was in a bar. This woman from that singles mixer gave me her card. She asked me to describe my ideal woman," he said, scrunching his eyebrows. "She was flirting, meant it to be light hearted, wanted me to make some crude comment about how she could be it, at least for a night." He waved the thought away with his hands as he looked her straight in the eye, finishing softly. "But the picture that came to my head was you."
"Cal," she finally tried to break in, her eyes filled with unshed tears, a look of wonder on her face.
"No, no. Let me finish," he replied, quietly, placing a hand on hers and squeezing gently. He went to take it back but she added her other hand to the top of the pile, keeping it in place. "But my answer," he continued, smiling subconsciously at the gesture, "was that it didn't matter who my ideal woman was if I wasn't her ideal man in return." A heavy pause. "I'm not good enough for you," he said, meeting her eyes.
"You're plenty good enough for me," she interrupted, her eyes shining with more than just tears.
"I'm not. You deserve someone so much better than me, you do, because… besides my daughter you really are the most wonderful person I've ever met." He was leaving his face completely unguarded for her to read and the emotion she found there overwhelmed her. He sucked in a calming breath and looked her straight in the eye and finished, "I am honoured call you my friend. I'm not asking for anything more than that in return. I just… needed you to know." He took in a deep breath, looking away.
"May I speak now?" she asked with a small smile.
His eyes raced back to hers, and she could see the fear in his eyes. Fear that things would never be the same again, that he'd ruined things. A small nod of his head. "Yeah."
He watched her for moments that felt longer than hours.
She shook her head lightly, raising her eyes briefly to the ceiling as she collected her thoughts. "I never thought we'd get here," she whispered, her voice full of emotion. "Life and death situations often bring feelings to the surface but I always thought us both too stubborn and afraid for it to work for us." A warm smile graced her lips. "I'm glad I was wrong." But then she was quiet again, and he felt the need to reassure her that he was not expecting a similar declaration in return.
"Gillian…", but she stopped him with a gentle shake of her head.
She took a deep breath, looking down at their intertwined hands before looking back up at him, her face full of resolve. "I have loved you for," she choked a little, moving her top hand off of his to gesture through the air and then swipe under her eyes quickly, "longer than I can remember. I didn't really acknowledge it, not until these past few weeks actually, because you were married, and then I was married, and you had Emily, and Zoe kept showing up." She met his eyes then, letting him know that she hadn't meant that to be confrontational, that she understood. He smiled. "The timing was never right." She shrugged.
"I used to worry that you had me up on a pedestal," she continued, "that all of that would come crashing down if you got to know me that little bit better. But you know me so well, Cal." A couple of tears trickled down her cheeks and he reached up to wipe them away with the pad of his thumb. "You know my flaws. You know I'm not perfect," she sniffed. She gave him a teary smile.
He squeezed her hand tightly, giving her a gentle shrug that almost broke her heart. "That's what it's all about, love."
She smiled, her head dropping in embarrassment as a light flush tinted her cheeks. "I love it when you call me that," she admitted.
"I love calling you it," he said back, quietly, his voice gravely with emotion.
She looked up, happiness shining in her eyes. He chuckled. "Considering you've got tears rolling down your cheeks and you'll think your hair's a mess, you probably won't believe me when I tell you that I don't think I've ever seen you more beautiful."
She snorted, giving him a look of complete disagreement.
"You're being completely open with me," he explained, awed; as if he couldn't understand why someone would trust him with such delicate emotions. "You trust me that much."
She straightened. "Yes, I do."
"I hope I don't let you down," he whispered, self-doubt creeping in once more.
It was her turn to squeeze his hand. "You haven't done, yet."
Drying up the last of her tears with his thumb, he cupped her face gently, just looking into her eyes. It was her who moved forward, closing the distance.
He'd tell her - maybe years later when she'd be less likely to laugh at him - that it was in that moment he felt like he was home.
A/N 2: I wrote this because I could see it happening between these characters, even if it won't happen yet on the show (because this kind of thing rarely happens early in a second season, as we all know). I like to think that it is still in character; I hope you'll agree. There were such strong emotions in Honey, and I think Cal's comments in the bar signalled that he is already aware of his feelings so I didn't think this was too big a leap. As for Gillian, I think after the events of that day and everything that had happened up until that point, it made sense for her to not be surprised, and for her to feel ready to start the next chapter of their lives. I hope that when (not if!) they get together on the show, it'll be with the same warmth and tenderness as that last scene of Honey.
I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who has read my stories so far. I've tried to reply to you all individually but if I've inadvertently missed some of you out I apologise; please know that I am most grateful.