Fallen A-over-T for this show. Absolutely adore it, and Cal/Gillian of course. This is a wee post-'Secret Santa' oneshot that I hope you enjoy.
Thanks and Happy Holidays!
The Lightman Group Christmas party was underway. The offices were locked and darkened, problems put aside for the night and employees getting decidedly merry on the fruit punch.
Gillian had hoped her escape had been unnoticed, but it appeared that nothing she did while wearing that black dress would be unseen so long as there was hot-blooded males in the workforce. She opened her office door just enough to gain entry, pushing it shut with the handle pressed down to minimize the click.
She sighed into the welcome silence, tucking her hair behind an ear. There was just enough multicoloured light twinkling in from the party to guide her to the window, her fingers wrapping around the cord and yanking the blinds to one side. A small smile played at her lips as she set sight on the Capitol Hill Christmas tree. It had been one of the drawing points for her choice of office, not that she'd told anyone that, especially when it was the coldest room of the whole building. Seeing the conical tree and its thousands of ornaments always warmed her up anyway.
She leant her shoulder against the glass, her arms crossing in front of her chest. It had been Arizona's turn to supply the 2009 tree, and its children make the 5000 baubles and decorations. Her thoughts turned to excited little faces seeing their designs on the tree, glue and glitter probably still stuck to hair and skin. As had been the norm the past week, her mind moved many miles away. To the troops fighting overseas, the ones who wouldn't be home to enjoy the holidays.
"Oi, Foster, I thought we had a deal," a brash voice interrupted, breaking her reverie. She looked over her shoulder to find Cal pushing against the resistance of the soft-shut door. "You wouldn't leave me alone in a room when Brenda's on the guest list!"
She smiled, "She's just happy to see you. We all are."
"Yeah, well she seems even happier after this punch," he crinkled his nose to the neon pink liquid in his glass. "What's in this anyway? One part lemonade, twelve parts vodka?"
"Don't know," she laughed as he crossed the room next to her. "It's going down well though."
"I bet it is." Cal took perch on her desk, his feet on her chair. She rolled her eyes and looked back to the tree. "What's up, love?"
"Nothing, just..." she sighed, "You were away for three days and back by Christmas. Not everyone's so lucky."
He fell silent as she watched unshed tears sparkle in her eyes. "Well, way to put a downer on my big heroic return there, Foster."
She laughed, reaching a hand out to his arm. "I'm sorry, just ignore me. Must be the punch." She nodded towards the couch behind him, slipping off her shoes as he flopped down beside her. "So where's Emily?"
"Oh, swooning over Tricky Dicky somewhere."
"That's what I said," he swigged at the punch, grimacing at its taste. "What do we know about him anyway?"
"Well," she curled her feet up under her, leaning her elbow on the back of the couch and threading her fingers into her hair. "His name's Rick, he's sixteen and she really likes him." She knew more, but that was on a strictly need-to-know basis.
"I don't trust him."
"You're not supposed to. You're supposed to trust her."
He gave her an unconvinced expression as he sipped at the punch again. "Why do I keep drinking this?"
She was laughing as he directed him back to the bottom drawer of her desk.
"I knew there was a reason we kept you around," he muttered, bringing out the part bottle of Talisker whisky and two glasses.
"I hope for more than just my alcohol supply."
"Oh course, Gill," he said, his face deadly serious. "For how you look in that dress, too."
"Ever the flatterer, Cal."
He laughed, passing her a glass and sitting next to her. "To family and friends."
"Those near and far," she clinked his glass as laughter travelled in from the party. She sighed as he let his head fall to the back of the couch. "You scared me for a minute there."
"Scared myself." His eyes closed, "When I saw Em on that screen..."
"I'm sorry," she smoothed down the tuft of hair above his ear. "We tried to keep her away, but..."
"But she's my daughter," he nodded. Emily had inherited the best bits of both her parents, much to their chagrin.
"How was it? Over there?" she asked quietly.
He thought. "Terrifying. Exciting." He smiled, eyes still shut, at the disapproving look she was no doubt flashing. "It was better knowing Em was in safe hands. Thank you for letting her stay with you."
"My pleasure. She's a good kid."
They fell into a silence again as his breathing evened. She watched his face relax, exhaustion beginning to set in.
"Why don't you go home, Cal? Get some rest."
"Would do if Brenda would let me escape."
"I mean it. Go home. Emily can stay at mine again."
He looked at her. "Would you not mind?"
"Of course not. I mean, it's up to Emily in the end, but she's always welcome. And I don't see you being much fun tonight," she poked his arm, disturbing his yawn. "Come on, we'll go ask her."
Gillian shuffled to the edge of the couch as she knocked back the rest of her whisky. She doubled over to find her shoes, one having gone further under the sofa. With her fingers trying to grasp the heel, she was inadvertently giving Cal a clear view down her dress.
"I really do appreciate that dress y'know..."
Gillian followed his eye line, trying her best to flash him an unimpressed look but she began to smirk, her eyes sparkling with mischief. "Mmhmm, think of it as my contribution to the USO."
He laughed as he took her hand, allowing her to drag him to his weary feet and back to the party room.