Title: though the strands fall from her ponytail

Cal/Gillian, 2x20 Exposed missing scene, angst, pg

Words: 710

Author's Notes: Thank you to my beta, tempertemper77! This is set during Exposed between the second-to-last and last scenes.


Can we pretend that airplanes

In the night sky, are like shooting stars

I could really use a wish right now

-B.O.B., Airplanes


The lights are glowing from inside as he approaches her home at dusk, dressed in jeans and a navy blue t-shirt and he thinks, just briefly, that perhaps he should have taken his jacket with him anyway because he might end up there for hours long past the sun's bedtime when the air holds a chill instead.

He brushes the thought away as he knocks on her door, waiting for her silhouette to grow larger and the face he loves so much to appear in the opening doorway. It does, faster than expected, but she isn't smiling and her hair is pulled back into a messy ponytail and she almost looks annoyed at his presence.


"Alright, love," he greets, but he says it awkwardly because, honestly, he feels rather awkward with her standing there, hands clad in rubber gloves, a sponge in one hand and irritation in her eyes. She seems to notice, and he sees another wall go up before his eyes.

"I wasn't expecting you. Come in." She's smiling now but it isn't her smile, not the one he's come to rely on at times like this when he desperately needs the reassurance that she's ok, and that he's ok.

"Don't mind if I do," he jokes, crossing the threshold behind her as she moves back towards the kitchen. She's down on the floor by the time he joins her, scrubbing away at the tiles as more strands of her hair fall loose to tickle her neck. She brushes them away angrily with the front of her wrist before going back to her task until it happens again. The situation repeats as Cal simply stands in the doorway, feeling useless and unwelcome, so he busies himself wondering just how many more times she'll repeat the cycle and thinks, surely, almost all of her hair has fallen from its hold now so perhaps she should just tie it up again, but tighter this time.

She doesn't.

A few minutes later, a large section of the floor gleaming beneath her, Gillian feels gentle hands at her neck. She finds it odd that, though she had almost forgotten Cal was in the room with her, she isn't startled when he goes about the kind act of pulling her hair back, all of it, and tucking it neatly into a new ponytail. She's touched by the gentleness with which he goes about it, marvels at how he doesn't ever pull it too tight, notices that his fingers trail down the back of her neck so, so softly as he pulls his hands away.

She's quiet for a few moments more, never turning to face him but knowing he is crouched down next to her still. "I'm fine," she finally says, but knows her voice is quiet and her words don't quite ring true. Not yet.

His words, however, are strong. She feels them wrap around her like a protective shield, the reassurance that she can get through anything. That she is the strongest person he knows. "I know you are."

He has more faith in her than she does in herself sometimes, and when he does it allows her to pick herself back up again even if she isn't sure she has the strength.

This is one of those times.

She smiles at him then, her smile. His smile. He feels the ice thawing and chuckles as she hands him a sponge.

"You might as well be useful," is all she says, but she's still smiling, shyly now, and they both know it's because he's already proved his usefulness this evening; her fingers are no longer clenching the sponge so tightly. This is her way of saying thank you.

He moves away to another tile and they work together in comfortable silence.