A/N: Well, FINALLY- the last chapter of this fic is here! That's pretty much all I have to say.
Gillian swung the door open and was immediately greeted by a grinning Cal. "Are you mad?" He ducked his head and looked at her through his lashes.
Were she not, indeed, mad, Gillian would have laughed at the rather sheepish expression that crossed his face.
"Well, I'm not exactly happy," Gillian held the door open so that he could pass through. Even though she was rather displeased with Cal, she still closed her eyes and reveled in the feel of his body lightly brushing hers as he passed through her door.
Cal nodded curtly as he walked past her into the warmth of her apartment. "Understandable," Cal said as he shrugged off his coat and set it on the arm of Gillian's couch.
Gillian's eyes were drawn to something he held with both his hands, "What's that?" She arched an eyebrow inquisitively.
Cal smiled at her and then shifted his glance in between Gillian's eyes and his own hands. "This," Cal said dramatically, "is part one of my apology." Cal looked at her hopefully as he held the gift out for her to see.
Despite the tightening in her chest that had been present since things had begun to go south at Zoe's earlier in the evening, Gillian chuckled as she looked at the box he proffered.
"A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving," She said, shaking her head. "You've no idea, actually, how appropriate this movie is given the happenings of today." Gillian took the DVD, unwrapped it, and popped it into the DVD player.
Cal looked at her tentatively as he took a seat on her couch. She grabbed the remote and clicked the appropriate buttons as she sat down on the couch. Cal took notice of the distance she kept between them.
Her body was slightly tense and Cal eyed her—when she turned to look at him, he arched his eyebrow in question.
"Oh, no." She said with a slight shake of her head, "You're far from forgiven." Cal watched, though, as her body relaxed into the couch as the familiar music played from the TV. She smiled slightly at him, "The movie's a good start, though." Her voice was quiet as she fixed her eyes on the screen.
Cal smiled. "Fair enough." He reached out and took her left hand with his right and was relieved when she didn't pull away. He gave it a gentle squeeze and watched as another smile ghosted across her lips.
Cal turned his face to the screen and watched the opening scene. He chuckled when he saw the football and Gillian looked at him and smiled.
Cal watched as Lucy held the football out for Charlie Brown to kick—and despite himself, he cringed when he watched Charlie run up to the ball, fully prepared to kick it only to have Lucy whip it away at the last minute. "Saw that coming," He said, looking at Gillian. As Charlie Brown landed hard on the ground, Cal smiled at the woman sitting next to him, "Thanks for not doing that to me when we played football today, love."
Gillian kept her eyes on the television, but smiled—"Hm," She said, as if deep in contemplation, "Perhaps I should have," She said, pursing her lips.
Cal chuckled as he felt Gillian squeeze his hand lightly. He settled in to watch the rest of the movie. He longed to pull her to him so that they could cuddle while watching the movie and so that he could kiss her hair whenever he felt like it—but he could tell she was still upset, and so he settled for holding her hand and running his thumb up along the top of her hand on occasion, eliciting a warm smile from Gillian that he watched for out of the corner of his eye.
Cal enjoyed the way Gillian enjoyed the movie—and he found himself chuckling at bits in the movie along with her. When it finally ended, Gillian reached for the remote and Cal mourned briefly their loss of contact as she shut the television off.
Her eyes remained on the screen, not looking at him. Cal reached out to touch her arm, "Hey," He said, his voice gentle.
She looked at him, then, turning her head from the television, a serious expression on her face.
"You ready to talk?" He asked, angling his body toward her, letting her know that he was open to listening.
Gillian sighed as she shifted her body to face him—she brought her leg up and tucked it underneath her, "I suppose," She said, as she tucked a piece of hair behind her ears.
Cal nodded his head slightly.
Gillian offered him a tight smile before she began speaking—"I didn't want to go to Zoe's." She said, simply.
"I know." Cal nodded.
"I went anyway." She said, "Because you asked me to—and so did Emily." She shrugged her shoulders, "And because I wanted to be with you."
"I know," Cal repeated, his voice soothing. He understood she wasn't done talking yet, and he wanted to make sure she knew he was listening.
Silence fell between them and Cal watched as something serious passed over her face. He'd known Gillian long enough to know that she was trying to choose precisely what she wanted to say—she was also trying, he recognized, to gather the courage to say it. With a steadying breath, she finally spoke, "You let Zoe attack me." Her voice dropped off at the end and Cal watched as sadness presented itself on her face.
Gillian's eyes stayed on Cal's face—and he recognized with a tinge of sadness that she was waiting for him to defend himself—to defend Zoe. The thought broke his heart a little. That had been exactly how it was in the past—but things were different now, and he intended to show her that.
"I know." He said, simply, and he watched as Gillian's eyes widened in momentary surprise. That hadn't been what she was expecting. Cal bit his lips and chose his words very carefully—he wanted to explain, not make excuses for his behavior, "I've made excuses for Zoe for years," Cal shrugged his shoulders and watched as Gillian nodded her head in agreement, "But her behavior tonight is inexcusable," His voice was harsh, but Gillian understood it wasn't for her, "I didn't react quickly enough—we were all sitting there and it escalated so quickly," He said, "And I'd be lying if I said I didn't consider her feelings—I didn't want to embarrass her in front of Emily or in front of Roger—" Cal trailed off.
"So you let her embarrass me?" Gillian said, and she was disappointed to feel tears begin to burn her eyes.
Cal nodded and allowed the shame he felt for it pass across his face—"Yes." He said, nodding gravely, "But it's the last time." He assured, his voice full of resolve. "You're more important," Cal reached his hand out and caressed her face softly with the back of his hand, "You're most important," Cal let the truth of his words wash across his face as he met Gillian's gaze.
Gillian studied him—she took in his facial expression and then she took in the look he had in his eyes. Cal watched as she tried to decide whether or not he actually meant what he said—Cal felt the knot in his stomach untie itself when she finally decided that he did.
She nodded and smiled at him, feeling the tightness in her chest loosen as his fingers touched her skin, "Okay."
She had intended to ask why he had such a hard time—why they had such a hard time, really—defining what she was to him. But, like so many things between them, it didn't need to be spoken. The way Cal looked at her when he didn't know she was paying any attention—the way he looked at her when he knew she was paying full attention—told her everything she needed to know. For now, anyway.
Cal smiled, "So, part two of my apology is that you'll never have to deal with that again." He said, matter-of-factly. Then, he grinned and asked with a heavy sigh, "How do I always get into these things?"
Gillian chuckled, recognizing the line from the movie they'd just watched. Gillian moved her hand to cover Cal's, which was still on her face—smiling, she answered, "It's your own fault cause you're so wishy-washy."
Cal laughed rather loudly at that, and watched as the skin around her eyes crinkled as she smiled a most bedazzling smile at him, "You are so beautiful," He breathed out.
The smile she wore faded, and she felt tears spring to her eyes again—she loved the awe with which Cal said that particular phrase to her, the way his eyes got deep as his mouth formed the words—the way he didn't take his eyes off her—the way he wasn't lying.
Gillian cleared her throat, "So," she said, her head leaning against the couch cushion, "This apology," She said, a quirky smile returning to her face, "How many parts is it?" She asked, a gleam in her eye.
Cal chuckled—"Six." He answered.
She quirked her eyebrow at him, "Six? That's a very big apology."
"For a very big crime," He said, his voice serious and playful at the same time, "If you want to head upstairs, we can get to part three," Cal waggled his eyebrows at her.
Laughing, Gillian leaned in to him, her mouth inches from his, "Oh?" She said, her voice sultry, "I think I'm going to like part three," she said, her breath on his lips.
Then, she closed the distance between them, planting a light kiss on his lips—her hand moved to his hair, then, as she ran her tongue along his bottom lip, seeking entrance into his mouth. Cal opened his mouth and groaned as he felt Gillian's tongue slide along his own. He tangled a hand in her hair and pulled her closer to him, deepening the kiss. Gillian moaned against him as she felt Cal's tongue slip into her mouth and then slip back out allowing him to bite her bottom lip gently before kissing her again.
Finally, Cal pulled away and looked at her, his eyes dark with desire, matching the desire in Gillian's eyes. Gillian's hands were still in Cal's hair, and she tugged lightly, smiling at him, her eyes sparkling.
Cal bit his lip as he looked at her—he felt his heart swell as he moved his hand from her head. Cal ran his thumb gently along her bottom lip, his gaze flicking between her lips and her eyes—his left hand caressed her back as his right thumb stroked her lip—when he spoke, his voice was gravelly, "I think," He said, pushing his thumb between her lips and gasping when he felt her hot tongue slide across his flesh, "I'm losing control of the whole world."
A/N:The last line comes from, of course, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
Thank you ALL for being lovely, lovely reviewers. Fic writing is tough work and knowing that you guys are enjoying this really helps me write-truly. If it weren't for your reviews, in fact, this would never have been finished.
To everyone asking about a Christmas fic- we'll see. It depends on several variables, really.
Seriously, thanks for the reviews- they mean A LOT.
"If you want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it." - Mother Teresa.