Apologies if there are any i/i signs in the fic. I write these with HTML in mind. (If you do see them, they're meant to be italics.
Convince an enemy, convince him that he's wrong,
Is to win a bloodless battle where victory is long.
A simple act of faith,
In reason over might,
To blow up his children will only prove him right.
History will teach us nothing.
"I'm so sorry, Cal." She whispers and he flinches. His arms tighten around her at the husky sound of tears in her voice. He could feel her sobbing quietly into his shoulder, feel the warmth of her breath in the crook of his neck, but hadn't heard the sign of real tears until she'd tried to speak again.
"Hey, love," He whispered, brushing his hand across her hair with reverance and quiet tenderness. Because she was fragile to him, breakable, precious, irreplaceable even though he'd never known how to say it. "it's alright." He whispered back, placing a kiss to her temple as she hugged him tighter, muttering apologies into the dampened fabric of his shirt.
Pressing his palms to her cheeks, he guided her back a few inches, so that he could look down into her eyes. The room was dark but the dim light flooding in from the outside quadrangle, caused the tear-lines down her cheeks to glisten. Her eyes were reddened and her brows pulled together in pain, in guilt. "Hey," He breathed, brushing his thumb across the crease in her brow, gently straightening out her frown. "I told you before, whatever it is, I forgive you. I meant that."
"I know," She whispered, her voice barely able to hold the words as it cracked. "but I just can't seem to shake this guilt."
He brushed her hair back from her face, smiling gently and caring for her all the same, even though this day had proven Gillian was a far better liar, than he'd ever thought; even if she was right and it depends on the lie, she still harboured the skills to manipulate him, and he'd be lying himself if he didn't admit that frightened him. That she'd kept this secret from him, for so long. "It's not your fault," He choked, unsure where exactly the words could have come from, if not from his heart. He knew in the instant her first tear had fallen, that he didn't blame her. "You were afraid." He studied her face, her eyes, her lips but nothing changed. The quiver in her lips continued on, the little shake in her breath stayed proving to him that her tears weren't quite done with, tonight. She choked on another sob and he gripped her tighter, pressing his lips to her forehead as she buried her hands in the back of his jacket, clinging to him. "You were protecting me."
She looked up at him then, suddenly, and he caught the blink of genuine surprise. She smiled then, faintly, the mirth bordering her eyes with light humour and he knew she was remembering the same thing he was. "Something like that, yeah." She responded, in exactly the way he had. But that had been back then, when they'd talked about a line that they both knew Alec and Zoe were standing on. But Alec and Zoe were gone now and the line was standing untended and he couldn't help the flutter that built up in the pit of his stomach as he realised things had the potential to change, right here and now.
"You were protecting Zoe and Emily too, and you didn't even know them."
"Yeah," She breathed, realising as well that he'd continued on past a ripple in the road that could have lead them somewhere they weren't yet sure, they were ready to go.
For months they'd been standing at the cross-roads, seeing the end, knowing which road they would eventually have to take, knowing where it lead. They were both resigned to it, happy to go there, but neither had started out just yet. They weren't ready. And having the past hanging over them wasn't a good way to start down that road. And Doyle had only brought more shadows back up from the depths.
"I couldn't let them do to you, what they'd told me they had the power to. I-I," She stammered. "I couldn't be the reason they took your daughter from you, Cal, I couldn't." New tears started to fall. "I," She swallowed. "For so long I've wanted my own," She broke off, staring into his eyes, letting the truth behind the words cut short, radiate out through her expression. He could see, exactly what she was saying and she never had to say it.
"Thank you," He choked, pressing his hand to the back of her head and holding her tight to his chest once again. She wrapped herself around him, breathing him in, holding on tight and drawing comfort, gathering up as much as she could to heal so many different wounds.
"And I know Emily now, Cal, and she's," She breathed, leaning back to see his face again. "she's so beautiful, so kind. I'm not sorry that I did it, I'm not sorry that I did the only thing I could." She looked away from him, unable to watch and wait to see the betrayel in his eyes. "But I am sorry I lied to you. I just, I couldn't...he was still out there, Cal, he-he came to my house and I-"
He cut her off, pressing his thumb to her lips and brushing the back of his fingers across her cheeks to soothe her. "It's alright, Gill," She looked back into his eyes. "Don't apologise."
"I've never been so afraid in my life, Cal."
"I know, love." He kissed her temple again, finding he was unable to stop touching her, soothing her. And knew he wouldn't be until her tears subsided and her smile returned. Not until daybreak, when the sun tamped out the clouds shadowing her eyes and her sparkle returned. "Come on, I'll take you home." He took her hand in his, stepping away from her to pull her along, but she tugged back.
"Cal, you don't have to do-"
He cut her off again, stepping back into her personal space, both of them aware they were still holding hands losely down by their sides. "I'm taking you home with me, you're not going home alone tonight."
Gillian's eyes widened and he caught the surprise there, the confusion. "But, Emily," She breathed and he chuckled gently.
"I'll get Emily to set up the spare room before we get there." A flash of disappointment crossed her eyes and while she knew it, and he saw it, neither of them addressed it. Everything would be as it always was. They'd drive back to his house together, Emily would cook dinner and they'd talk and laugh like they were a real family. Gillian's tears would dry up and they wouldn't talk about Finch. She probably wouldn't even think about him, with the way Emily and Cal could make her laugh.
"Come on, love." He spoke gently, tugging on her hand again. And considering they were the last left in the office, she didn't once, attempt to drop his hand. In fact, she held on tighter as they neared the front doors, offering him a thankful smile as he turned back.
As she heard the sound of car doors, Emily ran down the stairs. She'd only just finished making up the spare room the way Gillian liked it, when she'd heard the car pull up and with a grin, she bolted for the door. She secretly - or not so secretly, the way her Dad and Gillian could read her - loved it when Gillian stayed. What they had almost felt like a real family, when she was around.
There was laughter and jokes. They always ate well, because her dad refused to serve Gillian beans on toast and Gillian was always so warm and happy that it just seemed to radiate through them all. Her dad was more open too, freer, even. He relaxed more, she could see it and she enjoyed being able to see that it was Gillian that brought him that comfort.
Bouncing off the last step, she beamed brightly as she pulled the front door open, only to be greeted by something she hadn't expected. Her dad and Gillian were walking slowly up the path, talking quietly. Gillian was draped in her dad's coat and the warm glow of her smile was shroaded in gloom. She was smiling though, shrugging off her dad's arm as she walked on her own. Emily could see his lips quirk, that faint twinge of displeasure that Gillian had refused his help.
"Hey Gillian," Emily smiled, trying to sound cheerful. But the look of her Dad's friend, looking so forlorn, dragged her own cheer down to the ground.
"Hi Emily," She answered, taking the hug that she offered her, resting her cheek against the top of her head as they embraced.
"Dad said you were staying over tonight?"
Gillian looked down at her. "If that's alright with you. I'm..." She paused, glancing back at Cal as she hesitated. "I just don't feel like going home alone right now."
"No, it's great!" Emily exclaimed, trying to pretend as though she hadn't noticed the clouds choking the room. "I set up the spare room just how you like it, with the blue sheets and I stole the fluffy pillow off Dad's bed."
"Hey!" Cal exclaimed, to which Emily and Gillian just laughed gently and Emily was glad to see the humour reach Gillian's eyes for a moment.
She ignored her father's protest. "and I even made popcorn because I thought we could watch a movie if you want."
It didn't go unnoticed by Emily, the way the rims of Gillian's eyes were reddened slightly. "That sounds perfect, sweetheart."
"Em," Her dad cut in. "Why don't you go grab us that popcorn."
Emily nodded, seeing there was something left unsaid between them but she didn't want to push it. Something was going on and even if she wasn't going to drag the truth out of them both, truths Gillian didn't look quite up to sharing even if she was putting on a brave face, Emily would eventually drag them out of her father.
"Cal," Gillian spoke softly, so as not to draw Emily's attention. "i'm really not all that hungry. I'm just tired. I might just go to bed."
"None of that, love," He patted her arm gently, guiding her further into the house. "sit down, have some popcorn and watch a movie with us. It'll make you feel better."
"Cal," She warned but he shook his head, hearing none of her protests as he sat her down. She didn't really fight him anyway, letting him guide her to the couch and replacing his jacket over her shoulders, with a warm blanket. Giving in, she kicked off her shoes and tucked her legs up beside her, smiling at Emily as she returned with a large bowl. As was always the tradition, Emily passed her the bowl and Gillian rested it in her lap with the warmest smile she could muster.
Even to herself, it felt half-hearted but looking into Emily's large, brown eyes, made her feel better, safer. It made her feel just the slightest touch, as though her actions in the past, could be justified. She still felt guilty for having lied to the man that was to become, the best friend she'd ever known, but she was feeling better, knowing that what she did, ensured watching movies with them - and having the prestigious position of holding the neutral popcorn bowl - would happen.
"Penny for your thoughts?"
Gillian looked up to see Emily watching her and she could feel the blush heat her cheeks just slightly. She'd drifted away, staring into the popcorn bowl and likely wearing her thoughtful frown, an expression both Cal and Emily had called her on in the past, causing her to laugh every time Emily would declare how she looked angry when she was reading something she enjoyed.
"You'd be wasting your money," Gillian smiled, snuggling down further into the couch as Cal took a seat on her opposite side and shoved his hand in the bowl as he flicked on the television. Emily and Gillian watched him as he slouched back, shovelling the handful of popcorn in his mouth as he made himself comfortable and flicked through the DVD menu, ignoring their watchful eyes.
The girls shared a small smile as the movie started to roll.
Emily listened closely out in the hall, as her Dad showed Gillian to the spare room. All through the movie, even though they'd seemed relaxed, they both seemed to be a million miles away and her Dad hadn't once, started a popcorn war. It had baffled her, and him guiding her to the spare room had confused her even more, because Gillian was well aware of where it was; all of which had led her to following them closely as they'd said their goodnights to her and disappeared up the stairs.
"She's curious, Cal," She heard Gillian whisper as sheets ruffled and the old bed creaked as she climbed into it. "you should tell her."
"It wouldn't make a difference, love." There was a gentleness in her Dad's tone that Emily recognised. It sounded just like it used to sound when she was a little kid and he was reading her a bedtime story or soothing her after a nightmare had woken her. She'd never heard him talk to Gillian that way. Sure, she'd heard what he sounded like when he whispered in her ear, causing the woman to laugh quietly and sometimes, even blush. But this was different, this was intimate on another level that Emily wasn't entirely used to. Almost like they were soothing each other, protecting each other from a pain she wasn't to know. And a part of her wanted to step away. A part of her told her that she was intruding on something private between her Dad and Gillian, but she just couldn't tear herself away.
Something had rattled Gillian, and it was something big. She needed to know. And more than anything, she wanted to know why her father was suddenly treating Gillian like the most precious, fragile, gem on Earth.
She heard more indistinguishable whispers before footsteps started heading towards her. She tried to run, to duck down the steps before she was seen but she only managed a few steps before her Dad's hushed voice was calling her name. "Emily, what are you doing?" Her shoulders slumped and she dropped down to sit on the stairs, waiting for him to sit just beside her.
"I wanted to know why Gillian's so upset."
He studied her face with a frown before wrapping his arm across her shoulders. "She's not upset, love."
"Liar," She smirked and he laughed.
"Fine, but she'll be alright."
"I know that, Dad. I just wanted to know what's going on. What happened today?"
Cal took a deep breath and leant back against the wall, glancing at the door sitting ajar, seeing through to the woman who looked as though she'd drifted peacefully off to sleep. "The man you met today, Doyle?" Emily nodded. "Well, we knew him a while back, when Gillian and I both worked for the Pentagon. He just brought up some old memories, that's all."
"That's not all of it." She pressed quietly, watching her dad, watching the spare-room door.
"No, it's not. Darling, what Gillian and I have, it's a very complicated thing, you see, there are a lot of grey areas to it and a lot of secrets. With the nature of what we do, we know things other people don't and we see things other people don't. Especially in each other."
"You're talking about those rules you guys have? How, you don't talk about what you see, in each other, until you're ready?"
Cal nodded. "Something like that, yeah."
"So, what's it got to do with today?"
"Well, see love, something was brought up today that Gillian never intended to tell me."
"She lied to you?" For a moment, Emily looked appalled and Cal could see the look of momentary disgust on her face, regardless of how much he knew she loved Gillian. And he knew it wasn't so much disgust toward Gillian as toward the idea, that Gillian had it in her to lie at all.
"In a manner of speaking. But she had good reason to."
Emily looked thoughtful for a moment, considering her father's words. "What was the reason?"
He smiled warmly, touching the back of his fingers to her cheek gently. "You."
Emily's eyes widened. "Me?"
"I was mixed up with some pretty bad things back then, dangerous things. There were some people who thought they could threaten Gillian, threaten me, my family. That meant you, darling," He brushed her hair gently behind her ear. "and Gillian didn't know you, but she did something very brave to protect you."
Emily smiled softly, swallowing. "And what was that?"
"She tricked me." He smirked and noticed the flicker of surprise in Emily's eyes. "She decieved the deception expert."
Emily laughed. "See, I knew she was better at it than you."
"That very well may be, love." He grinned.
"So why don't you tell her?"
Cal shrugged, glancing back into the darkened room behind them, seeing Gillian's face lit by the light from the hall. Smiling as he watched her breathing. "It's just one on the long list of things I should tell her, love."
"What," Emily said playfully, drawing his attention back to her. "like how you love her, too."
She expected him to laugh, smirk or scoff, but instead he looked to her, his face the complete measure of seriousness as he looked right into her eyes. "I love that woman in so many different ways, darling, I wouldn't even know where to start."
Emily's cheeky smile drifted away too. "Then why don't you tell her?"
"Don't have to," He tilted his head.
"What? Because she can read it all over your face?"
Emily couldn't see from where she was sitting, but Gillian had since opened her eyes, looked out upon the hall and smiled softly, meeting Cal's eyes. He didn't answer his daughter; instead, focused on the drousy smile being sent from the other room as she rested her head back on the pillow and just watched him, smiling at him. And he saw the guilt of the day, just drift away, replaced by something he'd much rather see in her eyes. Something he saw every other day, but today.
Something he'd be happy to see, for the rest of his life. "Time for bed, love." He kissed Emily's cheek and smiled when she actually stood up and headed for her room without protest. She patted the top of his head as she walked away and he smirked, watching her until she was gone and her bedroom door was closed.
Sitting there on the stairs, with his back against the wall, he could still see Gillian, looking out at him. She smiled sweetly, just watching him and he returned it with a grin before dragging himself to his feet.
He was going to head to his own room, having already bid her goodnight, but Emily's words replayed in his mind, over and over. He hesitated by the door and when she looked up at him with that almost unreadable expression, his decision was made and he turned. He didn't speak, didn't need to, as he walked around to the side of the bed. She rolled slightly onto her back, looking up at him in the darkness and he knew she was reading something in his eyes. Something he'd never know he was showing.
To his surprise, her hand came out and her fingers gently wove between his, in the hand that was hanging down by his side. He looked to their fingers, watching hers delicately tug until she had his whole hand in her own. Speaking wasn't really their thing, so silence like this wasn't as frightening as it should have been. And as she moved backwards in the bed, tugging on his hand in offer, confusion was not what she'd have read in his eyes.
He took her instruction though, letting himself be pulled down into the bed, laying on his side with his face to the window and her warmth at his back. He could feel her moving behind him and whilst their fingers had stayed interwoven, he'd pulled her arm around him. She shuffled, pressing herself into his back and he smiled at the feeling of her warm breath on his back and her forehead pressed to his shoulderblades as she hugged him tighter.
"You heard all that, love?" He questioned and she shuffled closer behind him, tangling their legs and tightening her hold on his hand, therefore, tightening her arm around his waist. He pressed their hands to his chest, kissing her knuckles before tucking their hands beneath his chin.
"Yeah," She breathed out and that he'd said nothing she didn't already know, went unmentioned.