For all you soup lovers out there ;-)
Disclaimer: I own zilch.
A Taste For Soup
Gillian Foster felt mildly irritated when she heard the knock on the door; besides wondering who could be calling on her on a Saturday evening, she glanced at the array of ingredients she was in the midst of preparing for her evening meal. Giving the onions another quick stir and turning the heat down, she gave the kitchen another quick perusal before heading to the front door to greet her mystery visitor.
The first thing he said when she opened the door wasn't "hey," or "hi," or "Foster," or any of the other things he usually said when he greeted her. Instead he sniffed, and peered over her shoulder as he asked, "What'cha cooking?"
"Good evening, Cal," she said, with a gentle smile, opening the door wider to let him in. "What can I do for you this evening?"
"Well, now that you mention it, I am quite hungry." He grinned at her, and she rolled her eyes.
"I see. So you're just here to scrounge food off me?"
He threw his jacket over the back of her sofa, and she took a moment to register how comfortable he was in her house. His casual nature might have irked some people, but it made warmth spread through her body to think how close they were, how at ease they were in each other's company and homes.
"Sort of. I was going to see if you fancied going out for some dinner. But you're cooking, so it looks like we'll be dining Chez Foster tonight."
She walked back to the kitchen, turning the heat back up on the pan and opening the oven to check on the roasted garlic before turning back to look at him. "Well, aren't you lucky I'm making enough for two?"
He grinned. "My lucky day. So, what's on the menu?" He scanned the kitchen for a clue, but the few things he could see – a chopping board, a knife, a pan with a lid, garlic peel and an empty jug - didn't give him many ideas.
"Soup," she replied, carrying the kettle to the sink and filling it up.
"Soup," he echoed, a trace of laughter in his voice, and she gave him a suspicious look as she replaced the kettle and flicked it on.
"What's so funny about soup?"
"Nothing," he said, his face a picture of seriousness, but she wasn't buying it.
"Soup's a very good meal, you know. Especially home-made soup. Healthy and nutritious, not to mention tasty..."
"I have no doubt."
"And it's easy to make lots at once, so you can use up the rest for meals during the week, unless, of course, you get people inviting themselves unexpectedly to dinner."
He laughed. "So... do you prefer soup for one, or two?"
She narrowed her eyes at him. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"It's just a question!" he said defensively, but she could see the glint in his eye, and cocked her head at him as she gave him her best scrutinising look.
"No it's not. Come on, tell me."
"I just like soup, that's all! A lot. I've never had it with you, though..." He trailed off, giving her a wicked grin that only made her frown at him even more.
"Cal Lightman, you are not telling me the whole story. And until you do, you're not getting a single mouthful!"
"Withholding soup, eh? Women." He shook his head, amused by the sight of her, hands on her hips, drumming her fingers impatiently against her stomach.
"Cal..." she warned, and he chuckled, sitting down at her table.
"Alright, fine. Soup was sort of a 'code word' if you like, when I was working at the Pentagon..."
"A code word?"
"And are you going to tell me what it was a code word for?"
The kettle had boiled, and he couldn't help but smile at the way she was able to pour the water into the jug, add the liquid stock and stir it, all without missing a beat of the conversation or, it seemed, allowing her irritation at him to diminish even for a second.
"Sex," he said, and some of the hot stock suddenly sloshed out of the side of the jug as she moved the spoon too quickly.
"Damn," she muttered, grabbing a cloth, and he watched her as she silently mopped it up. Eventually she turned back to him, her face looking remarkably blank. "I see," she said. "Well, I'm afraid that's not the kind of soup I'm serving tonight." Her mind, however, was fixed firmly on the comment he'd made earlier, about never having had soup with her, and she felt a blush rising to her cheek as she realised the subtext of that comment, which had completely bypassed her at the time.
"Pity," he said softly, and she rolled her eyes again.
"What, you haven't had enough of it lately?" she asked lightly, and he shrugged.
"Quality, not quantity, love."
She turned her back to him so he couldn't read her expression, continuing to stir the stock. "What, none of those women were good enough for you?" she asked, trying to keep her voice controlled. "You must have very high standards for soup."
She jumped when she felt his hand suddenly on her waist, his chin resting on her shoulder. "I have no doubt your soup will be amazing, love." He lifted the lid from the pan and gave it an appreciative nod. "Looks good. Smells good."
She swallowed. "Doesn't mean it'll taste good."
He stepped back from her, waiting for her to turn around, and when she didn't he tugged lightly on her arm until she did, spoon still in hand.
"You really think that?" he asked, the hidden meaning in his words hanging in the air between them, and Gillian felt her breathing start to quicken, a thousand thoughts running through her mind.
"I just mean... you don't always know what you're going to get. With... soup." Her eyes darted up to meet his, and he saw the doubt in them.
"That's true," he said, trying to adopt a casual tone. "But sometimes you get a pretty good idea. For example, if you know the ingredients, if you've spent a lot of time with them and know you love them... if you like the look of it, like every damn thing about it... who's to say you wouldn't love the taste of it?"
She turned around again, lifted the jug and began pouring the hot stock into the pan. "How's Emily?" she asked suddenly, and he frowned.
"Don't change the subject, love."
"Why not? It's just a silly conversation," she said lightly, but he caught her hand in his, lifting his other hand to her face. He cupped her cheek, turning her face towards his, and waited until she dragged her eyes to his to speak.
"I don't think it's a silly conversation at all."
She swallowed. "Cal..."
"If you want this conversation to just be about 'soup'..." he gestured to the pan. "It can be. If, however, you want it to be about... soup soup..." He paused. "Well, it could be about that too."
She shook her head, an embarrassed laugh escaping her. "How did we end up discussing this? You come over for some dinner, I'm cooking soup, you tell me about some sexual connotations it has for you, and all of a sudden you're suggesting we... I mean... are you suggesting we..." She bit her lip, furious with herself for blushing the way she could feel she was. Maybe he wasn't even suggesting that, not really. Maybe he was just being Cal, flirting with her, pushing her a little too far just to see how she'd react. Maybe he didn't really want it at all, and now she'd gone and told him that that's what she thought he was saying, and... oh god. She picked up a cloth and wiped her hands, her eyes refusing to meet his.
"I'm saying..." he began, then stopped until she couldn't help but look at him, wondering why he didn't continue. "I'm saying," he repeated, "that I wouldn't mind having soup with you."
"Wouldn't mind?" she snapped, flinging the cloth down on the unit. "Gee, Cal, you really know how to make a girl feel special. Is that how you hooked all the others? Zoe, Clara, Poppy, Naomi... Hey, how are you doing, I wouldn't mind having sex with you, climb on board?"
He was studying her closely, not saying anything for a minute, and she let her breath out in a large sigh, then turned away again. Taking the roasted garlic from the oven, she turned it off and started squeezing the sweet garlic pulp into the pan. She could tell he was waiting for her to turn around before he continued, and eventually the silence became too much. She stirred the soup, replaced the lid and rinsed her hands, then turned back to him at last.
"Let me rephrase," he said when he could see he had her attention again, and she was surprised by the gentle tone of his voice. Gentle, but with an edge of... arousal. She swallowed again. "And let's ditch the soup references, shall we?" He reached out to hold her arms, turning her so she was facing him more fully. "Gillian," he said, his eyes boring into hers. "I've wanted to sleep with you for a long time. I thought you knew that. I mean, I'm hardly subtle, sometimes, with the way I check you out."
She would have laughed if she weren't so on edge right now, so nervous, so confused. Instead she merely gave him a look which said, 'carry on', so he did.
"I've wanted you for a bloody long time. Well, can you blame me? Look at you. You're the most gorgeous woman on the planet." He smiled as her cheeks flushed pink again at the compliment. "And you're my best friend," he continued. "Which means I don't want a one night stand. I want... you. All of you. See, the thing is Gill..." He began stroking her arm lightly with his thumb. "I'm not just attracted to you physically. I'm attracted to you in every way there is. I love everything about you." Her eyes widened at the sound of the word love, and he didn't miss it. "Yeah, that's right," he said. "Love. I love you."
"Why are you telling me this now?" she asked, and he felt a lightning bolt of disappointment that she was answering him with a question, not a heartfelt confession of her own.
He took a step back, his mask quickly falling back into place. "Soup. Our 'silly' conversation. I don't know. Anyway. Just forget I said anything." He sat down, then almost immediately stood up again. "Maybe I won't stay for dinner."
"Cal..." She knew why he was withdrawing, knew he was hurt that she hadn't responded to his revelation with a declaration of love in the same way, and knew there was no way she was letting him walk out of her house right now. "Cal," she repeated, catching his arm. "Wait."
"It's alright, love," he said. "Just chalk this up to one of my stupid stunts, and we'll just forget about it, yeah?"
"I don't want to forget about it," she said firmly, and his shoulders relaxed slightly.
"I don't," she said softly, closing the distance between them and resting her hands on his shoulders. "I've been waiting for you to say something like that to me for a long, long time. I just never thought you would."
He let his hands fall to her waist, looking at her face closely. She didn't pull away; if anything she seemed to respond positively to his touch, her eyes fluttering closed for a second and her lips parting slightly. "But this will change things, Cal. That's why we have to be sure, before we jump into anything we're going to regret."
"No way in hell I'd regret doing this," he told her in a low voice, and she smiled, but there was still hesitation written on her face.
"But things might get complicated. If things didn't work out, we've got the company to think of, we've got our friendship to consider..."
He nodded. "Yeah, yeah, you're right." He continued to nod, until suddenly his hands weren't on her waist anymore; one was higher up her back and one was on the back of her head, pulling her towards him as he crashed his lips to hers.
It took her half a second to respond; when she did, she allowed herself to let go completely, and, really, thinking wasn't part of it. This was pure reaction: her body wanted him, and was doing everything it could to seek the release it was after. Her tongue was pressing inside his mouth, tasting him fully, her hands were wrapped around him, her chest was pressed against him and, as the kiss intensified, she lifted a leg over his hip and began to grind her body against him. He moaned into her mouth and she drew back, breathless and glassy eyed, keeping her leg in place.
"You were saying?" he murmured, and she let out a shaky breath.
"What I was saying was complete nonsense," she said with a smile, her eyes continually darting to his lips. Now she knew what it was like to kiss those lips, she didn't think she'd ever be able to stop thinking about it.
"So... are we going to do this?" he asked, wanting to make sure. "Us, I mean. Give it a go, properly. Not..." he gestured between them. "I mean... I'm not saying I don't want that. Obviously, I do..."
She slipped her hands lower, stroking his erection as she gave him a sultry smile. "Obviously."
He swallowed. "What I'm saying, love... is..." He fought to find the right words, but concentrating was becoming difficult as she continued to move those dainty fingers of hers against him. Even through the material of his jeans she felt incredible. "What I mean," he said, finding his voice, "is that if you don't want to rush into things, you know... I'll wait. As long as you want. I just want you. I want to be with you."
She smiled. "I want you too. And in case I didn't make it clear earlier..." She pressed another quick kiss to his lips, then trailed her lips up his jaw towards his ear. "I love you too," she whispered, and he tightened his grip on her.
"I do." She nodded. "And what I want right now... is soup."
"Soup?" He glanced behind her, at the pan on the stove. "Soup, or... soup?"
"Soup," she said, her eyes glimmering. "As much soup as I can get." She walked backwards, then lifted the lid off the pan and inhaled deeply. "It smells amazing."
"It does," he said slowly, watching her carefully.
She recovered the pan, turned the heat down, then spun back to look at him. "That soup just needs about another half hour or so to finish off... maybe even longer." She saw his eyes light up, and couldn't control a laugh as she walked towards him again. "So while we're waiting for that soup... want to have some soup of the other variety?"
He grinned, licking his lips. "You bet, darling," he said, as he tugged her into his arms again, trailing kisses up her neck. "You bet."
A/N I may be persuaded to write a second chapter of this. Maaaaybe ;-)