by Jessie

Summary: Tag for episode 2x17 "The Bullet Bump". Eli is drinking beer in Cal's living room. With Cal's daughter. And, well, apologies only go so far. Cal/Gillian, Eli/Emily.
Characters: Cal, Eli, Emily, Gillian
Rating: PG-13 (I think there's a couple bad words somewhere in there)
Spoilers: Up to and including episode 2x17. Takes place right after the cut to black.
Disclaimer: "Lie to me," its characters and situations, are copyright their respective owners. No profit is being made from this story.

Author's Note: This is actually my second Eli/Emily story, but I didn't post the first one on this site because I always get paranoid about whatever the hell this place's policy is on slightly risque stuff (i.e. references to adult situations with a minor). But if you'd like to read it, you can find it on my fanfiction masterlist (link is in my profile bio).

Cal is not a fan of this new partnership.

Oh sure, he apologized and he meant it, and he and Loker are good now. You know, all that. Whatever. But he still doesn't like one bit this whole teaming up thing Eli and Emily have going on now.

This... This is dangerous, is what it is.

The two are sitting on his couch giggling about it at this very moment, actually. Or, at least, he suspects that's what's going on. He's currently standing in the kitchen pretending to get another beer while really just watching them through the partially open door.

They're on opposite ends of the couch from one another, yeah okay, and well within their own personal space bubbles, fine. But there's an intimacy there despite the fact. He's certain there is. He isn't just being paranoid. There's this whole comfortable vibe-God, he hates himself for using the word "vibe," but there it is-in their eyes and in the quirks of their mouths, and the whole thing makes him, you know. Suspicious.

Well. More suspicious than usual.

Neither of them should be feeling that at ease with each other after these last twenty-four hours. Emily may be something of a spitfire but she's also a sixteen-year-old girl, so there's that. And Eli gets nervous when he has to eat his lunch in front of Cal, let alone talk to Cal's daughter.

Cal does the only thing he can think to do. He calls Gillian.

"I'm not coming over there, Cal."

"Yeah, okay, but if you could see what I'm seeing-"

"Cal," she interrupts in her Gillian Foster version of being stern. He usually just thinks it's cute, but he knows better then to say so. "Emily is ten times more responsible than other kids her age, and a hundred times more responsible than you are. And Loker is not only terrified of you but he's often terrified of his own shadow. There's nothing to be worried about and I'm not coming over there just to watch you give them the third degree again."

He smirks. He can't help it. It's what he does. "Quite the speech there, Love. You rehearse that?"

In his mind's eye he can see Gillian roll her eyes. "Give them a break, Cal. And I'll see you in the morning."

She hangs up before he has a chance to convince her not to.

This is not a new habit for her, hanging up before he can get a word in edgewise, but it's only recently that he's started to suspect that it has more to do with fear (fear that he'll actually be able to convince her to stay on the line, convince her to come over, convince her to...) than with any real frustration.

Cal stares at his phone for a moment, pursing his lips and stomping his feet and just generally shuffling about trying to find some comfortable position that will make him feel more in control of this scene.

That position never comes. And so, finally, he looks up from the phone and back out into the living room.

Eli is in the middle of letting Emily take a discreet sip of his beer, his arm reaching across the distance between them so that his hand hovers half an inch over the bottle while she drinks, ready to grab it away from her when he thinks she's had enough.

Emily, wonder of wonders, has actually managed to smirk at Eli while drinking. Cal is kind of impressed.

Eli gets antsy and grabs the bottle away from her, pulling it in close to his chest and wrapping both arms around it as if he thinks she's going to try to grab it back.

Emily laughs out right.

Cal wants to laugh as well, honestly, but since he also wants to, you know, throttle Eli, the two urges counteract one another and he ends up just shifting from foot to foot but not yet leaving the kitchen.

He was supposed to be getting another beer in here, wasn't he?

So he busies himself with that instead of thinking about what's going on under his own roof that he doesn't approve of. Nothing untoward, okay sure, but there's a partnership being solidified here. Right under his nose. And it's that partnership that freaks him out.

He can see it now. Really. Just go with him on this. Emily Lightman and Eli Loker, partners in crime, running amok around his office and then around the rest of the city of D.C.

She would be the leader of the operation, of course. The one who calls all the shots and takes all the risks and, just like her father, smirks her way into every confrontation she should have just left well alone. And Eli, well, he would be the follower, the worrier, the one who keeps them both safe and alive, and who keep them grounded, and who, on late nights, stumbles over comforting words that Emily will scoff at but secretly need.

Oh hell. Is he really letting himself think this shit?

But the bitch of it is, when Cal really does start to think about it, he almost starts to... starts to get it. Emily is just a better version of himself, right? And Eli is, no, not a better version, but definitely an interesting version, a strange and maybe less straight-and-narrow, morally sound, but with, you know, convictions, version of Foster.

They are the Cal and Gillian for the Facebook age. He can't imagine either of them will ever clean up a mess the way that he and Gillian try to. But only because they're both so much more proactive than that, while not being nearly as reckless. Emily knows how to throw a punch, sure, but she also knows when to bite her tongue. Cal has yet to learn that skill. And neither has her mother, let's be frank, so he's at a loss as to where Emily learned it.

But fuck it. This train of thought has gone on long enough, and it's kinda starting to piss him off.

Cal closes his eyes and counts to ten. He's pretty sure this just turns him into a ridiculous parody of himself, but Gillian made him do it the other day, under penalty of death (or something far worse), and now it's all he can think of in a stressful situation. Other than calling her again.

Close your eyes, Cal. Count to ten. Breathe.

He can hear her voice in his head. But, yeah alright, that's not exactly unusual. Just don't tell anyone.

"You really planned this whole apology scene out?" He can hear Loker saying, his voice muffled through the wall. "And what if your dad didn't apologize, Em? What if he just hit me again?"

"Then he hit you again." Emily shrugs.

Cal smirks.

"Yeah, but-" Loker starts, but he gets interrupted without Emily ever actually having to say a word. She's got her dad's eyes, you know.

"Yeah, but," Emily says for him after a long pause, and there is the sound of her taking a drink of something-Cal suspects it's Loker's beer again-and then the couch cushions shift and Cal has to count to ten again so as not to rush out there, fists swinging, while he listens to his daughter say again, around a grin, "Yeah, but... it was worth it, right? To hear him say 'I'm sorry'? I told you it'd be worth it. I know what I'm doing, Eli."

"You think you know what you're doing, Em. Meanwhile, I'm the one who gets bruised."

Cal shuts the fridge door, still without the beer, and peeks back out into the living room just in time to see Emily give Loker a quick peck on the cheek.

Loker's eyes widen and he looks like he just walked into a "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" reenactment.

"Okay, no more bruising." Emily says, nodding once. "I promise. But only if you help me ace my Calc midterm."

"I- You- Wait, what?" Loker fumbles.

Emily is grinning. "I promise to make sure my dad never hits you again iif/i you help me ace my math test. Honestly, I thought it was a pretty sweet deal when I thought of it."

"And when did you think of it?" Eli gawks. "Because if it was earlier than an hour ago, I think we might need to reevaluate this relationship."

Cal wants to go out and punch Loker again at this, shouting something along the lines of, "What relationship?" but he keeps it in his pants. So to speak. And he finally opens up the fridge again and pulls out that beer he was supposed to be getting and he chugs half of it right there.

"Relationship?" Emily smirks.

"Friendship." Eli corrects. "And if your dad comes out here and hits me again over semantics, I'm taking you down with me."

"Look. You said you care about me, right?" Emily asks Loker, and holy hell the apple really didn't fall far from the tree, did it? Because this is a master manipulator at work here, ladies and gentlemen. Quiet in the cheap seats.

"Yes." Eli says, sounding uncertain, not about his answer but about why she wants to hear it. He gives her a look, one eyebrow quirking up in suspicion.

Good boy.

But not good enough, apparently. Because Emily bites her bottom lip against another grin and leans across the couch toward him. "Okay, then you'll help me study for my math test?"

Good Lord, she's actually batting her eyelashes. That little...

"Okay." Eli says. And gulps. "Why not? Of course I will, Em."

Of course he will indeed. Cal doesn't know whether to ground them both or give them medals. Maybe he could have special ones made up, half award and half warning label.

Cal pulls out his cell phone to call Gillian again, but stops right before pressing "send." Something in his gut twists. Something in his chest dive-bombs his heart.

Because he already knows what Gillian's going to say, if she even answers this time. And now all he can think is: Yeah. Alright then. Cal and Gillian 2.0 right out there on his couch. One manipulating. One figuring out how to save them.

Cal puts down his phone and, finally, goes back out into the living room to rejoin his daughter and his coworker.

Despite the fact that, in the back of his mind, he can see these two concocting more schemes and plans than he'll ever know how to counteract-and he's Cal Lightman for Christ's sake, so that's saying something-he gets the impression suddenly, over half a pint of pineapple ice cream and half a bottle of cheap bear, that this isn't just evolution or progress or whatever. This is the universe. This is, you know, nature.

And nature is: Cal and Gillian meeting over disposable coffee cups before they go into work every morning, and both of them needing that moment together in order to get through the rest of the day. Nature is: Cara fatefully stopping by his house when Emily is at a friend's for the night so that Cal can do something monumentally stupid.

Nature is: Emily Lightman knowing how to push Eli Loker's buttons, and Eli letting her.

Cal really-and okay, really, in case you didn't get it the first time-does not like this new partnership one bit. It's dangerous, is the thing.

But what's so dangerous about it is not that it's unpredictable; it's that it's too predictable. He knows exactly what's going to come of all this, just like he knows exactly what could come of him and Gillian. And he doesn't like either.

One, because it's going to happen. One, because it hasn't happened yet.

Two guesses which is which.

Emily is shifting on the couch now with an excited energy that Cal knows all too well. That's the energy that leads to handcuffs and police reports, or else ill-advised sex in the kitchen with a business partner, or else just, you know, trying to steal Eli's beer away from him again.

Still. Cal can see right away that Eli will let her if she tries, and then Cal will have to hit him again for it, and then Emily will probably hit him again for it, and so before the domino can fall he leans forward towards his daughter to nip at least this much in the bud.

Nature is, after all: The apple not falling far from the tree.

"Emily, my darling." Cal says with a wink and a smirk. "Count to ten."