Disclaimer: Don't own them, just playing for free.
A/N: I was prompted on Twitter last night by Calculated Artificiality (srsly, awesome gal and author, go read her stuff) asking for some jealously fic. I immeadiately had the title, because hai, I am a nerd who loves Shakespeare. HOLLA. As I was writing it though, it kind of.. drifted from angsty jealously to more fluff with a side of meta that could be construed as jealousy? IDEFK YOU GUYS. It drited like, over 9K words though and somehow smut TOTALLY HAPPENED so who am I to complain? And really, given the state of canon right now, a little smutty fluff (smuff? LOLOL) certainly couldn't HURT amirite? Of course I am.
Perdition catch my soul
O! beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.
~Othello, Act III, scene iii
He'd like to imagine, in some other universe, that he is the man that she deserves. Gillian is – always has been, really – a rare breed. Gorgeous. Loyal. Honest.
He's no stranger to the weakness of the flesh, and of course, as a man, he finds all kinds of women attractive physically. But.
The list of women he finds attractive intellectually is a much shorter list.
Zoe was a challenge. Spirited, fiercely independent. But even now, he wonders, if not for Em – where would they have ended up? It's a 'what if' question he doesn't like to dwell on, for a lot of reasons. For one, the mere thought of a world without Emily hurts. For another, he knows himself pretty well, and he is a morally grey bastard. The thought of a single version of him meeting a married Gillian back then – well. Marriage wouldn't stop him. Not other people's marriages, anyway. Gillian would never cheat, of course, but that wouldn't stop him giving it a go, and then – well, she'd probably never have agreed to be his partner.
So ironically, he had Zoe to thank for Gillian's presence in his life. For a brief moment, he imagined actually thanking her for it. That would not end well.
The point was, his marriage had kept him in check when he'd first met Gillian. And then – and then after his divorce, well he'd known Gill for close to five years at that point and he knew she would never cheat and more over he respected her too damn much to ever put her in a position of refusal.
Which brings him back to his original point.
In another universe, he is the man that she deserves to have. He would respect her friendship, respect the pain and vulnerability written all over her face enough to have the sense to leave this room with its hushed atmosphere, and go do the noble thing like apologize to Torres for lying to her (though it would do no good, he knew. She'd still be pissed. Deserved to be really, because if their positions were reversed, he'd bloody well kill her.), or go hug his daughter and talk about everything that'd happened today. In another universe he could be that man, but in this one, he is a weak, weak bastard and his hand is lingering on her shoulder as she looks up at him vulnerably.
He even opens his mouth to say the words. I gotta go. To the hospital. To see Emily. To my house where I can get very drunk and not think about how happy your marriage falling apart makes me. Not that seeing her in pain made him happy, but he'd never liked Alec. Ever. It wasn't that it was jealousy, really. Well, maybe it was. Alec had what he wanted, so badly, and he didn't even care. He hated to see her like this, painful and raw, with no sign of the confident, happy Gill he loved.
His hand is still on her shoulder and she is staring at him in curiosity. His fingers are tracing circles, learning and memorizing the feel of cotton over skin over muscle over bone. He closes his mouth and steps in a little bit closer, because he can now, because there is no barrier of marriage between them anymore.
And yes he knows she said separate and not divorce, but he knows (and he knows it sounds incredibly pompous, but it's true) that if he doesn't leave right now, if he follows the half-formed thoughts in his head of taking her home (soft skin, and golden brown hair tickling him awake, her hands in his and her eyes as he-) and confessing his seven-year long secret, he knows she would never go back.
He is a bastard. He knows that.
He doesn't deserve her. He knows that too.
But bloody hell, he wants her.
And he is a weak, weak man.
"Cal," her hand comes up and rests on his heart, and he freezes, because there is no way she cannot feel how it is thundering around in there, "I'll be alright. It's okay. I mean, if you want to go – go see Torres or check on Emily, or-"
There it is. So tangible it may as well have a sign above it, red light pouring down over him and labelled – emergency exit. This is the point where, where in that universe where he deserves her, he walks away. Lets her grieve for her marriage in her own way, lets her heal, lets her make the choice to come to him. But he isn't that man, and he's loved her for years in an aching, unrequited way. And now – now she was here in front of him, and his heart is racing at the thought of her. And him. And her, with him. And him, with this sudden freedom to touch her however she would let him. He wants to find out just how that would be. How it would feel. How much would she let him touch her?
His hand slides from her shoulder, down over the curve of her back and he steps to the left, but in closer so he is blocking her from the eyes of anyone out in the hall. "Nah, love. It's alright. Zoe has Em tonight, remember? And Torres – well, she's not going to forgive me. I wouldn't, if I were her."
"An apology wouldn't hurt anything, Cal." Her smile is weak as she points this out and his hand sweeps up and down her back slowly, mapping out the curve of her shoulder blade as his fingertips lightly trail along her spine. Even through a thin jacket and her shirt, she feels amazing, and he's been touching her five minutes longer than he ever would have before.
On second thought, maybe there is no other universe where he could leave, or be noble, or any of that tripe. He cannot imagine a universe where he could ever stop touching her, once he's started. His hand lingers at her shoulder again, before sliding under her hair to gently trace along the back of her neck. The skin there feels soft, unexposed and somehow tender. She gasps under her breath, but he sees it and suddenly a different kind of tension enters the room, sliding in and coiling around him with a self-satisfied hiss. He feels it, low in his groin and further, a delicious tension that spreads down to the soles of his feet. His fingers pause and he nods in agreement. "Probably would. But I don't want to piss her off more, and you shouldn't be alone. Where're you staying?"
She didn't know it yet, but that was the answer.
"I don't know yet. I have my bags in my car – I was going to check into a-"
"Not even happening, Gill. You can come stay at mine, yeah? You shouldn't be alone." This would all seem so much friendlier if his hand wasn't still settled on the back of her neck, palm against that soft skin and his fingers sliding up to touch her hair, silk and satin and God he is just such a bastard right now. Her breathing pauses and he knows that she knows.
She won't be staying on his couch, or his spare room, or in Emily's. He'd hate himself a little ( he should ) if he wasn't staring at her so intently, waiting for permission. Permission to touch her, permission to love her the way he'd always imagined. Starting this here, now – it's going to be messy as hell. But he'd never been above getting a little dirty before. He sure as hell wasn't worried about it now.
"Maybe I should be alone." She breathes out and he leans down, so that he can be at eye level with her, and he's awkwardly half bent, but he doesn't care, because he can see her eyes and they are showing him things that make his hand on her neck tighten, just a fraction, and her hand on his chest curls and he blinks stupidly, because how had he not noticed that she hadn't moved it? It feels warm, a glow that spreads through that tension warming and loosening it just a touch.
"What do you want, Gill? Maybe you should be alone, maybe you shouldn't – but do you want to be? Because I'll do – I'll do whatever you want." This should sound like a supportive friend, a partner offering to be a support, but his voice is two tones too low, and her nails are scratching his shirt lightly and his eyes are tracking her face like a man lost in the desert who stumbles on an oasis. He can hear the subtext in his tone, so he knows she damn well can, too. This is him, telling her that they can go at whatever pace she sets, but this will happen. How fast is up to her.
"I..." she hesitates, her eyes searching his and the lines of pain and weariness that were there five minutes ago seem less pronounced now. Her palm flattens against his chest and he braces himself, but she doesn't push him away, she just leaves her hand there, and licks her lips. He takes a deep breath, because he is watching her tongue trace a path he'd really like his own to take, and he waits her out while his heart practically throws itself against his ribcage in longing. It knows where it wants to be. Past the bones that detain it and in the palm that rests against them. Thud, thud, thud. It wants to be free.
"I don't want to be alone."
On the drive, he talks himself into and out of bed with her a thousand and one times.
Maybe he was reading too much into this.
Maybe she'd just meant you know, she didn't want to be alone. She needed a friend.
Maybe if he acted on everything, she would gasp in shock and look at him with disgust.
Maybe if he didn't act on anything, she would feel doubly rejected.
Maybe he shouldn't have done this to himself. What in the hell was wrong with him? She just left her husband. Her husband who'd left her first, for an addiction and a brief high. The stupid bastard.
His hands are actually shaking as he struggles to put the key in the lock. And he's so thankful she followed him in her car, and she doesn't speed like he does, because it means she misses this particular display of nerves. He's in the house, and has wine opened and breathing when she opens the door and rolls her suitcase in, placing it in the hall before locking the door behind her.
"I would have brought that in for you, love." His protest is mild and she smiles as she pulls her coat off, hanging it on the rack by the door.
"It's not heavy. Don't worry about it."
"Did you not pack shoes, then? Because I'm fairly certain your shoe collection must weigh eight stone, at least." She laughs genuinely, before coming into the kitchen to join him. She reaches up to grab two wine glasses and her shirt rides up as she reaches, and his eyes trace the bare strip of skin that is revealed at her back. His hands twitch, and he barely restrains himself from pressing against her. Barely meaning he does walk up behind her, removing the glasses from her hands and placing them on the counter, brushing against her deliberately as he does, because he can't seem to help it. "Wine's not done breathing yet, Gill."
"See, this is why I drink white. Open fridge, pour wine. Such instant relief." She turns to face him and he must have been closer than he thought, because he can feel her breasts brush against his arm and he freezes.
"Scotch then?" His voice is low and rusty and she shakes her head in a no before stepping even closer to him, her hips lined up against his, but she's not so close as to be pressing against him, and he wants her to be. He swallows and realizes that his throat is dry and he really couldn't speak right now if he tried. His hands drop to her hips and she looks up at him, suddenly somewhat shy, and her body is a canvas of contradictions. He loves it.
"I don't want a drink." Her voice is soft and her hands come up to rest on his biceps. His arms tense automatically, and she smiles wryly, her grip tightening. "I didn't come here to drink."
His heart is hammering again and this time, he can't help it – can't take the almost, maybe atmosphere for one more second so his hands grip her hips and he pulls her toward him until he feels sweet pressure against his arousal and her breath seizes in a gasp, and he's never heard anything half as lovely in his life.
"Why'd you come, then?" Again, his voice is low and dark and lingers over certain words and her eyes dart up to meet his, tracking his face like he tracks hers in return. She doesn't answer. Verbally, anyway, but words are something they've needed less and less as the years have gone by. She just meets his gaze for a beat, and her hands slide up his arms and over his shoulders until her palm is on the back of his neck and she is leaning forward. She licks her lips again in the space between them, and it's so damn narrow that he feels the back of her tongue just brush against his own mouth, and that moment there is when the slow, drawn out moment just snaps and everything moves like it's in fast forward then. His hands pull her against him, hard, and his mouth is over hers and he can barely breathe, but doesn't really ever want to again. Her fingers are scraping through his hair, and one hand tugs while her other hand snakes between them to trace along his jaw. He pushes her back into the counter and she gasps and he naturally takes advantage of this to slip his tongue inside her mouth and christ, she tastes so damn good. Sweet but not sugary, like vanilla and just bitter enough that it makes him salivate for more.
She moans then, her hand in his hair and her other hand reaching down to push his jacket off of his shoulders, and he changes his mind about the gasp being the loveliest thing he's ever heard. Because that moan goes straight through him, and makes him twitch in places he knows she can feel.
He lets go of her long enough to pull his arms out of his sleeves and reach for the hem of her shirt, breaking away from her to breathe (air, need air) and yank it over her head in a rush. He pauses for a second, because my God she is fucking gorgeous. Her skin is pale, and flushed with red and her bra is blue, nothing fancy but like he cares about what frame the art is currently in, because her breasts are pressed up and he swallows heavily at the sight of her, eyes lidded and her breathing heavy which just causes her breasts to push up further. If he were twenty years younger he is pretty damn sure he'd come just by looking at her. "So gorgeous." His voice is reverent and her colour increases at his words. The pause is just that, though, a pause, and she puts her fingers through his belt loops and yanks him forward once more, her mouth on his and her hands nimbly unbuttoning his shirt before pulling that off of him as well.
When he feels her skin, pressed against his for the very first time, he breaks his mouth away from hers to groan deeply before dropping his head and kissing along the underside of her jaw, down her neck, and she tastes even better there, if possible; she smells sweet and tastes slightly tangy with salt and he licks along the column of her throat as she drops her head back and whimpers. His mouth is kissing behind her ear and his hands are skating up her ribcage, amazed by how small and delicate she feels under his rough palms. His fingers brush against her bra, up and over and his thumbs sweep over her breasts as his mouth works its way back down to her collar bone, where his teeth graze her just slightly and she pants, one hand in his hair, pressing him into her skin harder and the other braced against the back of the counter.
He wishes – for a moment, just a moment – that he could take his time and slow down long enough to study the feel of her bones under her impossibly soft skin. Study the way the light hits her, or the way she blushes absolutely everywhere. But seven years of longing to touch her can't be forced to slow down, and he feels like a sprinter, his heart pumping and his eyes on the finish line. He wants to know what she feels like wrapped around him most of all, and apparently she agrees because she is pushing him back, hands at his belt, unbuckling his belt and pants faster than he can even process it. She is shoving them down, and everything with them and he kicks out of them even as he's reaching for the zip on her skirt and watching it slide down to the floor with a whisper.
She smiles, pushing her own underwear off (blue. She matches. Of course) before reaching for his shoulders and pulling him closer. Her mouth meets his again and he still feels like this can't quite be real. He can't actually have a very naked, very stunning Gillian Foster pressed against him right now, can he?
Her hands drifts between them and grasps him, her fingers tightening around the length of him and he breaks away, closing his eyes and trying to find some semblance of control as she pumps her hand once. Down and then up and as her fingers trace over the head he gasps out loud because it feels so damn good. He's not the best of multi-taskers normally, but even as his mind is being completely overtaken by the sensation of her soft hand on his cock, his own hands are sliding down over her ribs, tracing the bones of her hips lightly before dipping lower, to feel the soft brush of curls and the slick wetness between her thighs. And she is so wet it is ridiculous, and they both moan as his fingers brush along her lips, dipping in just slightly as her hand clenches around him, and his thumb reaches up to press against her clit in response.
She releases him suddenly, her hands scrabbling behind her to grip the countertop and he knows from the look on her face that foreplay will be bypassed, just this once. She's bracing her weight on her arms and he runs his hands down her thighs in understanding, bracing himself as he helps her lift her legs and wrap them around his waist securely. Once he does, he can feel the wet heat of her pressed against him and his hands join hers on the counter as he groans in delight. She feels bloody amazing. And he pulls back slightly, just enough to line himself up and slip in, and it's warm and so damn tight and perfectly – perfect. His thoughts are less coherent now and he slips one arm under her ass even as she grinds herself further down on him, her arms pushing against the counter.
He's pretty sure it's been over a decade since he had sex standing up, and he's probably going to regret this (position, never ever regret this) in about fifteen minutes. Maybe less, because he can feel her contracting around him, small ripples of silky muscle all along his shaft and her can't even breathe right now.
She leans closer, her mouth covers his as he finally, finally begins to have the cognitive power to move his hips. He's aiming for slow and long, but everything is speeding up fast, faster, too fast. She is wrapping around him, outside, one of her arms on his shoulders for support, her tongue around his and the taste of her wrapping around his taste buds, and inside she is silky, smooth and so hot and wet and rippling over him that he cannot do anything but brace her weight and his hand against the counter as he drives into her, harder and harder, seeking that imaginary point where the finish line is.
She is panting, but so is he – ragged gasps of breath as they pause between sloppy kisses to feed their lungs much needed oxygen – and there is no sound other than the beautiful symphony of their off-beat ragged breaths and the sound of his flesh meeting hers, silently inside and squelching smacks of his hips meeting her inner thighs outside. She is breathing fast now, and her head is thrown back as she moans between pants, and she is encouraging him with every other breath. Breathy Cal's and guttural faster's and the sound of her voice, low and raw and desperate makes him pump his hips faster, deep long strokes that hit a point that makes her squeak in surprise and it's suddenly his newest new favourite sound – that squeak of shock. And for as vocal as she's been, when her eyes open wide and she draws one big lungful of air as her eyes dilate fully and he can feel her orgasm squeezing around him and his balls tighten in anticipation as he continues to push – just a little bit, just a little bit father – she is making no sound at all, like her voice has been robbed of her for a moment. But when she exhales, finally, it's his name she breathes out and he can feel her pulsating all around him and finally, finally he feels his own release tear through him as he surges forward one last time, pressing up into her so far he is rewarded by one last squeak as he presses his face into her neck tightly and rides his orgasm out with his arm gripping her waist tightly.
They slide to the floor in and tangled, messy heap after a moment and he is gasping for air like a marathon runner at the finish line, but every exhale is filled with laughter, because he can't seem to stop smiling. He doesn't remember ever being this happy in his life. Maybe holding Emily for the first time, but its apples and oranges, really. The two types of happiness can't really be compared.
His heart is finally slowing and he suddenly realizes that the cold tile is even colder on one's bare ass, but he can't be bothered, because she's in his lap, warming him from the top anyway, with a big grin on her face.
"You think the wine's done breathing now?" She is breathing hard too, so the question is a bit breathy and he laughs out loud.
"God, I bloody hope so."
She stays with him, because he wants her to. Because he loves being able to go to sleep with his arm around her waist and his face buried in the back of her neck, and even more than that, he loves waking up the same way. She is, unsurprisingly, a snuggler. But so's he, so he doesn't mind at all.
He loves having dinner with her each evening, and making a pot of coffee that he won't even drink each morning. But she doesn't mind making the tea, so it evens out.
They do this without any real heavy discussions, even though they both know there probably should be one. But he doesn't feel a need to define the relationship because he knows its definition.
And so does she.
But that first weekend afterward, they're kind of forced into it as she looks across the table at him Thursday evening. "What about tomorrow?"
"It's Friday? Generally a fabulous day, since it heralds the end of the work week." His voice is teasing and she sighs in exasperation, not quite covering a smile.
"I know that. Emily is coming home, isn't she?" She pauses to look at him seriously and he sighs before pulling his chair closer to hers so he can put his hand on her knee and rest it there. His fingers trace small circles as he nods.
"Yeah, she is."
"Well I should pack a bag and-"
"No," he interrupts her smoothly, his eyes meeting hers, "you shouldn't. Look, Gill, I'm not about to hide this away. I'm happy about this, and I want Emily to know about it."
"Well," she protests weakly as his hand slides a little further up her leg and she shoots him a warning glare, "there's knowing and then there's knowing Cal."
"She does know all about sex, you know. Had this talk ages ago, birds and the bees and all that." He's teasing again and she covers his hand with hers, forcing him to meet her eyes.
"She knows I'm getting divorced." She pauses, opening her mouth as if searching for the right words before finally shrugging in defeat and meeting his gaze head on. "And she knows you've been sleeping with her mother."
He pulls back in shock, and her hand drops from his, sliding away quietly. "I haven't- she doesn't-"
"You have." Gillian stares at him knowingly for a moment before shaking her head. "And she does, Cal. I don't know what's going on with you and Zoe, but-"
"Nothing!" His rebuttal is automatic, and fierce. "I mean, yeah, I did technically sleep with her after that case, but it was just the once. And I swear, Gillian – it was- it was a mistake, and not one I intend to repeat ever again. Not, not now. You know, now that we're – that you and I are –" His explanation is rushed and fumbling, and tragically amusing, judging by her smother smile and arched eyebrow.
"Now that we're what, Cal?" He stares at her for a beat, opening his mouth to speak before closing it again. "Use your words." She's teasing him and he glowers at her for a moment.
"Having fun, are you? Taking the mickey out of me? You know what I mean, Gill." She continues to look at him expectantly and he sighs in frustration. He knows damn well, she'll make him say it first. Simply because she can. And they both know he will. "Now that you and I are together. Zoe is – a mistake. She's a chapter that's closed, romantically-wise. I'm serious about you and I, and we both know that. I mean, I know we haven't said anything specific, but I want Em to get used to you being around, because – because well, you're going to be around. Permanent-like, yeah?"
Her gaze softens and she smiles softly before sighing. "Yeah. Of course. But I don't know if she needs to see me all but moved in barely two weeks after my separation."
"All but moved in? You mean moved in, don't you? You have a key. All your stuff's here. You're bonkers if you think I'm ever letting you out again, love." He leans forward and presses a swift kiss to her mouth and she sighs in contentment as she leans into him.
"Don't you think it's a bit fast?"
"I've been waiting bloody years, Gill. As far as I'm concerned it's too slow." She smiles at him, pressing a hand against his cheek and tracing his jaw line softly.
"Years." He responds solemnly and she grins.
"I suppose this explains why Zoe never liked me." Her hand drops and she picked up her fork, scooping up some rice before glancing at him. "This doesn't change my concerns though. I don't want Emily to think the wrong thing..."
"She won't, Gill. I promise. I'll talk to her about it when I pick her up after school, yeah? Personally, I think she's gonna be thrilled. She always loved you, you know that."
"As her friend and confidant. She loved my cookies and my listening skills. It's a bit different now, Cal." She eats a bite of her food before looking over at him in exasperation.
"Yeah, it is." He smiles at her, watching her eat her supper as she rolls her eyes at him and used one hand to shove him away in amusement.
"Maybe make some cookies tomorrow though, just in case?"
"Hey Dad!" Emily's voice was bright as she bounced into the passenger seat beside him.
"Hello, love. How was school?" He can see her roll her eyes, but he waits her out anyway. Everyday he'd asked the same question, and truth be told, hearing about her day was the one thing he missed the most when Zoe took her and left. He still missed it, which was why he loved the days when he could pick her up directly after school on Friday.
"Good. Got an A on my calculus test. And we were assigned an awesome project in Philosophy today." She smiles genuinely as he puts the car in drive.
"Excellent, you can tell me all about it. Thought we'd go to get ice cream today. My treat."
"Oh, God, what did you do?" Emily whips around to face him with a glare and he glances at her in confusion.
"You hate ice cream. And you only take me when you either have to tell me bad news, or break something to me, or if Gillian is with us and she helps me out vote you. Gill isn't here. So what is it? Oh God, is it bad?" She pouts at him before sitting up in shock. "Oh, please tell me you and Mom aren't getting back together! I will seriously run away, Dad. And go live at the office, or I'll go call Gill and make her take me in, because I am not doing that all over again. What is wrong with you two anyway? Don't you realize that you both really, really suck together? Am I the only one who remembers my childhood accurately?"
He feels himself wince at her words, guilt about how much she'd witnessed when she was younger eating away at him. He'd never meant to hurt her by staying with Zoe. He'd thought he'd been doing it for her. "Awfully presumptuous aren't you?" He pulls into the parking lot of the ice cream parlour and puts the car in park before turning to face his daughter's narrowed gaze. "No, your mum and I are not getting back together. Trust me; nothing could be further from the truth."
"Then what is it?"
"Well, aren't we going to go in and order first?"
"No." She crosses her arms and glares stubbornly. "I'm not going to freak out over whatever bad thing this is in a public place, Dad. My friends go here sometimes! So tell me right now. What is it?"
"I don't happen to think it's a bad thing, really." He is hedging, but she just continues glaring at him expectantly and he sighs. "I hate having these discussions in bloody cars, Em." She wouldn't budge though, and finally, he gave in. "Fine. Well, you know that Gill – that Foster and her husband are getting a divorce, right?"
Emily nods with a frown. "Yeah, she told me a few weeks ago that Alec had left for a while and she was gonna move out, why?"
"Wait – when did she tell you that?" His brows raise in surprise before he turns to study her intently.
"I don't know. Three – maybe four weeks ago? Wait - it was before my spring dance so that makes it almost a month and a half ago."
"You knew before I did and didn't tell me?"
"Dad!" She's exasperated now, uncrossing her arms and throwing them in the air. "She's my friend. And as you're so fond of reminding me, it's not my place to pry."
"Right. And it's not. I just can't believe she waited so long to tell me..." He looks out the windshield, deep in thought before Emily's elbow digging in his ribs reminds him that she's waiting. "Sorry, love. Where was I?"
"Gillian's getting divorced and this is news to you." Her voice is flat and monotone and he looks at her in admonishment.
"She moved out – out of the house you know? And – and she needed a place to stay, so-"
"Gill's staying with us? That's awesome Dad! And see – helpful that I found this out out here, because now we can get a pint packed to bring home for her." Emily is all smiles again, turning and punching him in the arm gently. "You scared me, I thought it was something bad!"
"I'm not finished yet love. Yes Gill is staying with me – well, with us, but she's not... not just staying." He ran a hand over his forehead in embarrassment, because no matter how old your daughter is, some things you just really don't need to discuss. Your sex life being number one with a bullet. Maybe number two – he's pretty sure her sex life would be top spot. Not that she has one. She's only sixteen. Of course he was only – oh shit. Better ask Gill about that later.
"What do you mean Dad?" Emily was smiling in confusion, and he felt himself flush slightly, rubbing the back of his neck before taking a deep breath and meeting his daughter's eyes. He opened his mouth, but she cut him off with a squeal that nearly shattered his eardrums.
"Bloody hell, Emily!"
"Oh my god! Oh my god! You guys are together, aren't you? She's not staying with us, she's moved in! Oh my god! Dad! Dad! Dad –" She's grinning and still talking in a pitch he's pretty sure only dogs can understand, but suddenly she stops bouncing and grips his forearms, hard. "Dad. Do. Not. Screw. This. Up. Do you understand me? I am – I am so happy about this, you have no idea – but if you screw up and ruin this I will never forgive you. I mean, I'll probably eventually forgive you but I will be really mad. I love Gill, Dad. I love her."
"I know, love. I get it – I do. I'm not – I'm not going to screw this up. I'll do my level best, at any rate. I love her too, you know." She stares at him for a beat before nodding and leaning in to hug him, really tightly.
"I'm happy for you. For both of you."
"She's a bit worried you'd think we were moving too fast." He confesses this in a soft voice and Emily pulls back, rolling her eyes.
"As if – you guys know each other inside out. What's the point in doing the whole getting to know you thing when you clearly already covered that part?"
"Thanks, Em." His hand covers hers and squeezes and she beams back at him in approval.
"This? Is gonna be awesome. Now let's get her some ice cream, and get home!"
And just like that, everything is fine. It's a hurdle they passed with relative ease. And Cal discovers the one thing he loves more than waking up with Gillian, and having breakfast with Gillian, is having breakfast with them both.
Every weekend becomes even more of a highlight for him, because he loves having them both under his roof. He really, really does.
He loves that Gillian bakes but hates cooking. And he cooks, but never ever bakes. Emily might love this fact most of all, because now she gets dessert.
It's all so disgustingly domesticated that he would normally hate himself right about now, but he's beginning to realize how much of a difference it makes, being 100% committed to something.
"So... I have to go to the lawyer's on Monday." It's a quiet Saturday evening, and they're both sprawled out on the couch, watching the telly until she decided what movie to watch.
"Uh-huh." He rubs a hand along her shoulder.
"It's not for much –Alec and I have to go in and sign the petition before it gets sent off to be filed. Still gonna be about three more months for it to be finalized though."
"I thought it was a six month waiting period?" He questions softly as he pressed a kiss to her shoulder where his hand had just been. She giggles softly, rolling over to face him from where she was currently lying is his lap.
"There is, but it's been a month and a half already – and Alec hadn't been living at home since the whole... addiction thing." Her chest rises and falls in a heavy sigh and he frowns down at her.
"Hey, hey, hey. What's all this then? It's not your fault Gill, and don't try to put me off, when we both know I can see it." Her eyes are disapproving as she turns to face him, wrapping an arm around his waist and sighing again.
"It's not guilt, Cal. I mean, yes – it is, but not about my marriage failing. That took two. I'm just – I haven't seen Alec since I left. Lawyers give you a certain amount of distance. Mostly I'm just... I feel badly, I guess. I've moved on, and he's going to know that tomorrow. Addresses are listed, you know – and I just don't want to deal with anything unpleasant." She frowns and looks up at him. "That's stupid isn't it? It's a divorce, not tea time."
"It'll be alright, love. You didn't do anything wrong. Okay, it might have been tactless a little bit – but that's all on me, not you."
"Really?" Pushing herself into sitting, she wraps an arm around his shoulders and stares in disbelief. "Are you serious? You think it was 'all you' that night? Were you high, Cal? Because that's not how I remember it."
"No I was not high." He gazes at her for a moment. "I took advantage. I knew it when we were in your office, Gill. Come on."
"That is ridiculous, Cal Lightman. You offered me a choice. If I'd said I wanted to be alone – you would have left me alone. I didn't. I wanted this. And if we're being honest, I'd wanted it for a long time. It used to drive Alec nuts – I was always sort of half in love with you, Cal. You know that."
His breath freezes in his lungs, seized at her admission and he felt a burning under his skin as his heart rate sped up. "Always?" The crack in his voice was alarmingly noticeable, but he didn't care. They'd never said it – not really, and for her to say that she'd felt this way the entire time...
"Even before I actually met you. I had all your books, you know. When I found out they wanted me to counsel you..." her gaze went a bit unfocussed as she stared at the collar of his shirt. After a moment she shakes herself out of the memory and looks at him. "Anyway, once we met –it was kind of just always there, wasn't it? I ignored it, because I had to. We were married. But when you begged me to be your partner-"
"Asked." He ribs her gently and she grins.
"Begged. I was bluffing the whole time you know? I knew I'd say yes before you even asked."
"I know." His hands have made their way into her hair, and he still finds himself constantly surprised how often he feels the need to touch her. Even at the office- where they'd mutually agreed to leave this at home, and just work at work (for the most part. He had convinced her to an office shag late one night last week. His desk was now his new favourite place to be) he still felt this intense need to be in her space. To touch her as often as was allowable.
"Mmmhmm. Just felt like, maybe you deserved a little begging." His fingers wrap strands of her hair around his hand before letting go only to repeat the process and she grins at him.
"I still do. Deserve a little begging." Her tone is saucy and he grins at her, pulling her in closer until he can kiss her properly, his hands still tangled in her hair.
"Get a room!" Emily's voice is teasing as she enters the room, throwing her purse on the loveseat along with her coat before pushing Gillian's feet over and collapsing at the opposite end of the sofa.
"I thought you had a date tonight?" Gillian is frowning over at Emily in concern and Cal smiles which Gillian notices and elbows him smartly for.
"I did, but it got cancelled. Permanently." Emily muttered, crossing her arms.
"Oh, Emily, I'm sorry." Gillian is immediately sliding off his lap to the middle cushion, where she gathers Emily up in a fierce hug. "He's an idiot."
"You're just saying that." Emily protests weakly, but she's still not letting go of Gill. "What if I'm socially awkward, or a really bad date? Maybe I inherited Dad's personality – oh God, or Mom's."
"Oi! I'm not so bad." He grins at the two of them awkwardly and gets nothing but two level glares in return. "Well, I'm not! Your Mum, on the other hand – well, best of luck with that one, darling."
"Cal!" Gillian is admonishing him even as Emily giggles, still wrapped around Gillian. And he's torn at the moment, because he loves his daughter, he does, but he kind of wants to be where she is right now. Stupid boy dumping Emily.
"It's okay Gill, I'm used to it. Anyway, what I really need is-"
"Hot chocolate!" Cal is sitting up before Gillian even sends him the instructional glare – the one that says 'Go fetch these things for me now'. "Oh and some popcorn. I was gonna pick the movie tonight, but since you need cheering up, Em, we'll let you choose."
"What?" Cal protests. "Listen I'll get the popcorn and the warm chocolate, but bloody hell do not give her the movie choice. She'll make us watch one of those idiotic teen movies where everyone says like, like a lot, and there's a stupid romantic plot that is-"
"Oh, how about Mean Girls!" Emily is ginning evilly and he glares at her.
"I love that movie!" Gillian lets go of Emily and gets up to get the movie off the shelf. "Cal?" She glances over with a raised brow, looking to the kitchen and back at him.
"Bollocks." He's muttering under his breath as he leaves and Gillian clears her throat.
"I heard that."
"I meant you to!"
"I love home," Emily sighs in contentment behind him, and he's smiling as he heads to the kitchen, silently agreeing with his daughter.
"I cannot believe this, Cal!"
This is so not how he wanted his day to start off. Well, technically it'd started off great, since he'd woken Gill up with a-
"Are you seriously ignoring me right now? How old are you?"
"No, Zoe," he sighs, pulling his feet off of the desk and sitting up straight. Well, straighter. "To what do I owe this visit? Problem with Emily's schedule?"
"Are you serious? You are living with Gillian Foster, and you're asking me why I'm here?" Zoe sits down in one of the chairs in front of his desk primly, placing her briefcase on the floor next to her as she glares at him.
"I didn't really think it was-"
"Cal, please. You know how I heard? One of my acquaintances down at the courthouse noticed your address on petition for divorce papers-"
"Do all your 'acquaintances' know your previous address from nearly three years ago, Zoe?" The offensive was always the only good tactical ploy to take with Zoe. Otherwise she'd just barrel you over.
"Oh whatever, the point is I heard it from somebody who barely knows me, and not – oh say, my ex-husband. Or even my daughter!" Her glare is edged with pity and he could feel his hackles rise as he stared at her.
"I don't owe you any explanation-"
"Actually, considering my daughter lives with you on weekends, yeah, you kinda do, Cal."
"Oh – like you told me about how you were marrying Roger? I didn't even know it was serious until Em told me."
"And another thing – Emily didn't even mention it, Cal. So not only are you lying to me, you're asking our daughter to do the same!" Her tone is pitched and he stands up, feeling anger hit him, low in his gut.
"I did not ask Emily to lie. Matter of fact, I figured she'd told you weeks ago, which is why I didn't call to have a heart-to-heart about it-"
"Weeks ago? Are you kidding me with this? How long has this been going on, Cal? And oh, spare me the actual truth, which we both know is since the day you met her!" She was standing now too, having moved right to the edge of the desk so she could yell at him with better volume.
He didn't really have a retort for that one though. It was the truth, and they did both know it. He took a deep breath before continuing after she finished.
"I've been seeing her-"
"Living with her." Zoe's tone is bitter as she corrects him and he rubs a hand over his face as he sighs.
"Yes, fine – living with her for almost two months now. I didn't tell you because, frankly, it's none of your damn business, even if Emily is there on weekends. She's a big girl now, Zoe – and it's not like even you can stand there and tell me you don't approve of her spending time with Gillian." Zoe's eyes lanced down and away and he knew he had her there, at least.
"I just – why didn't Emily tell me? I'm her mother."
"I honestly don't know, Zoe. But I do know neither Gillian nor I asked her to lie to you. I would never ask her that and you know it." Zoe deflates at his words, sinking back into the chair behind her as she looks up at him with sadness in her eyes.
"I know that. I do – God, I sound like a complete shrew. Cal," she rolls her eyes a little bit and sighs before looking back across the desk at him, "you know it's not that – I mean, if it were anyone else... but God, Gillian."
"Why do you hate her so much? I'd like to call it jealously – actually, no, no, I wouldn't. You've never liked her. I've never understood that."
Zoe laughs; a sharp sound that is actually not an expression of amusement at all. "Of course you've never understood, Cal. You loved her – right from the get go. You know, even after your first session with her, it was all you could talk about. How she impressed you, and how she was a hard read. Before that, Cal, I was the hard read. But you knew me too well by then, and there was no challenge anymore. And, you know – I kind of assumed she'd just come and... go. But she didn't because you asked her to be your partner. And once I met her, it was even worse. Cal – Gillian is... she's – she's Gillian, for God's sake! She's calm and rational and polite and perfect. I couldn't even hate her! She was nice to me, every single time we met. And that just made me hate her more. I know that's not rational, but sometimes feelings aren't rational." He found himself sitting during her speech, watching her intently as she stared through the window and continued to speak.
"It wasn't jealously, not by the standard definition. I.. I envied her. Because she got so much of your time, your attention, but mostly because she got your respect. She understood you in a way I never could. Never would, and if I'm honest – didn't want to. It's not like I wanted to understand you the same way she did – but I didn't want her to be able to. And then... Emily loved her. Talked about the cookies Gill made her, or how Gill had helped her paint a picture that day or – God, I was working insane hours trying to make partner and on top of everything else it felt like Gillian was even a better mother than I'd ever be. I know Emily was never confused about that, and she never ever said anything – but I would think these things." Standing once more, he moved over to grab two glasses and pour them each a shot before joining her on the other side of the desk. Accepting it with a smile, she took a long drink before staring down into the contents of her cup with a sad expression.
"Every day I came home, it became clearer and clearer to me that you loved her. The expression on your face when you'd talk about her. How you always had such contempt for Alec Foster, every time you mentioned him. Presents, Cal. God, Christmas presents – hers were always something personal; a jazz cd you knew she'd love, or a book you knew she'd wanted to read. Not big things, but each one was like this silent testament of how well you knew her, and I got things like jewellery or spa certificates and I would wonder if just once – if you'd ever want to know me that well. I'm not – I'm not trying to make you feel guilty. You loved me. And I loved you. In our own way, but it was never the same. And I think what I hated about her most of all was that she showed me the truth – that while we loved each other, I had no idea what Cal Lightman looked like in love until she walked into our lives."
"Zoe – I'm a bastard." He put a hand on her and she turned her own hand, squeezing his in comfort.
"Yeah, you are. But not always, and sometimes you don't even mean to be." She laughs and he joins her, because yeah, she'd be the one to really know, wouldn't she? "I'm sorry I freaked out. It just... felt like losing all over again. And it's not like I want to have you – no offence – but I kind of never wanted her to have you."
"I'm sorry too, love. I screwed everything up, didn't I? I could have been honest years ago with you."
"You were. Just not willingly." If she could tease, it was clear her little fit of envy or whatever it was, was over. She squeezes his hands one more time before standing. Leaning down, she presses a soft kiss to his cheek. "Thanks." When she stands back up he can see beyond her to where Gillian is standing in the doorway, observing. Probably eavesdropping, but Gillian would call it observing, and he'd agree with her, because really, Gillian Foster was too classy to lurk in doorways.
"Gill..." He smiles and stands as she comes into the office with a controlled smile.
"Gillian." Zoe greets her stiffly, obviously wondering how much she's overheard while standing there.
"Zoe," Gillian's smile warms after a moment and she stops Zoe from exiting with a gentle hand. "Listen, I know that things might have the potential to get... awkward now. But I think we can all deal with this like grown-ups, providing we, of course, don't count Cal." Her tone was teasing and he obliged by acting more offended than he was. "I thought – maybe we could get coffee sometime. By ourselves?"
Zoe's startled, he can tell. She's surprised, but he's not – not in the slightest. He's known Gillian Foster a long time now, and he knows she is liked by almost everyone. And those few who don't like her, irk the hell out of her. She'd never admit it, but it's true, and this is her way of repairing this odd family she's found herself a part of.
"Uh... sure Gillian. I'll call you and we'll make a date." Zoe's words were stiff, and stilted, but Gillian beamed at her in response, nodding as she watches Zoe exit the room with as much grace as she can muster.
"So, darling," his hands are at Gill's waist and Zoe was thankfully smart enough to close the door behind herself, "how much of that did you hear?" His brows waggle as he speaks and she smiles warmly in response.
"Oh stop it – I wasn't – I wasn't Cal. I just didn't want to interrupt."
"Especially when the subject is so juicy, yeah?" His hands are tickling her ribs a little bit and she's shoving him away with a mock glare. But he's seen enough to know she's read the situation accurately, and isn't really upset about it.
"It's weird, you know. Listening to her explain it – I kind of understood. It was probably very frustrating for her Cal."
"Yeah, well, it was awfully frustrating for me too, you know. Wanna make me feel better about it?" His grin is lascivious and she's giggling again – a sound he frankly loves to hear.
"And how would I accomplish that, I wonder?"
He kisses her, long and slow and mostly thankful that she is here, and he is here when really this story could have ended a thousand different ways. When he pulls away, he wonders what the hell he did to deserve her.
"It's not about you." She points out, and he realizes that he said that last bit out loud. "If it makes it easier, think of it this way. I deserve to be happy. And I say that you make me that way. So I deserve you."
"Damn logic – that is so fallible by the way-"
"Shut up and kiss me, Cal."
He does. Not just because she tells him too, but because he likes to do it. "Foster."
"You know I love you, right? I know I don't usually say it quite outright like that but-" Her mouth on his cuts off his half muttered explanation and she is smiling when she pulls away.
"I love you, too."
"Oh, I know." His grin is smug and she elbows him, hard. Maybe in some other universe he had been that noble guy – that guy who'd walked out of her office that night, but it certainly wasn't any universe he would ever want to live in. Poor miserable sod living that existence didn't know what he was missing.
"What? It's written all over your face, love. Always has been."