"So what's this then?" Cal questioned, sauntering his way into his office.
Emily was standing by the couch, her arms folded over her chest and her eyes trained determindly, on him. Liam was behind her, switching from one foot to the other and trying his best, not to meet his eye. He would have thought it almost comical, if it weren't so damned curious.
"It's an intervention." Emily stated, taking a step towards him. Cal glanced around the room, as if looking for something and he noticed how Emily's brow furrowed in confusion. "What are you looking for?"
"Foster," He stated, waving his hands about as he headed for his desk. "I'm wondering where she is, you know, because this is an intervention; and considering the last one was all her doing."
Emily frowned, shaking her head as she followed him to his desk. "No, Dad, Gillian's not here because this intervention is about her."
He scrunched up his face. "What's that now?"
"This intervention, is about Gillian." Emily reiterated.
"Blimey," He licked his lips. "So, we're intervening on her then? What's she done?"
Emily rolled her eyes and gestured behind her for Liam to join them. So far he hadn't so much as taken a step away from the couch. "No, Dad, we're intervening on you. You know, because you can't seem to come to grips with the fact that you want to be with her."
"What? Be with Gillian? Romantically? Come off it, love." He practically scoffed and he was grateful in that moment, that she didn't seem to catch the flicker of doubt in his expression. He felt it drift by and knew the reason for it.
Because her statement was truer than he'd ever planned to let her know.
"Dad, this isn't a joke. It's been how long since you and Mom split?" He shrugged petulantly, dropping down into his chair and switching on his computer, searching for any form of distraction from this conversation. This conversation he swore he wouldn't have unless Gillian asked for it. "And it's been how long, since she left Alec?"
"You do know the definition of an intervention, don't you, love?"
Classic deflection, Cal knew. And Emily rolled her eyes. "Of course I do."
"So, if you're intervening on my love life, that gives me the impression you're trying to intercede on any relationship I might have with Gillian - hypothetical, or otherwise - before it even begins."
"No," She crossed her arms over her chest. "It's the opposite. I'm trying to halt the stalemate and push you over the proverbial cliff."
"How do you figure?"
"This dancing around each other, has got to stop. I mean, I've seen you guys flirt, Dad, and that level of electricity isn't meant to be sustained for long periods of time."
He smirked, so obviously wondering when his daughter had become an expert on love. Especially considering that her second boyfriend in as many months, was looking awfully uncomfortable, standing just behind her.
"When'd you become an expert, then?"
"You pick up a lot about body-language when you grow up with a walking lie-detector." She looked awfully smug and Cal wanted nothing more than to wipe that look off her face. But the irritating fact was; she was mostly right.
"D'you have a hand in this, Liam?" He asked, accentuating the first letter of the young man's name.
"No, Doctor Lightman, I mean, I support Emily of course, but I don't even know this Gillian so..." He trailed off, glancing at Emily as Cal's expression reduced to a scowl.
"That's Doctor Foster, to you, mate."
"Dad," Emily warned and he bounced out of his chair.
"Yeah, alright, sorry." He made his way around the desk, shuffling closer to Emily and all but shutting Liam out of the conversation. Emily looked irritated by it but Liam looked just a little too relieved, so he didn't care. "Okay, so I'll talk to her, alright?"
"I can do you one better," She smirked, raising her chin defiantly and Cal cocked his head, half curious, have frightened by the prospect. "We've booked you a table for tonight at a restuarant Gillian loves."
"You need a shove, Dad. Take her to dinner, I know you want to."
He narrowed his eyes, invading her space but being that she was his daughter, with the profound knowledge that he'd never lay a finger on her, the attempt at intimidation, fell almost completely flat. "Let me get this straight," He gestured, glancing at Liam before looking back down into Emily's eyes. "you want me to take Gillian to dinner, so you booked a table for us, before even talking to me about this? Bit pre-emptive, even for you, Em."
She shrugged. "I want you to be happier. And Gillian makes you happy."
"She drives me up the wall, most of the time, love."
Emily smirked and Cal threw Liam a glare when the boy failed at hiding a slight chuckle. "And like you don't make her mad, Dad," Emily eyed him, seriously. "it's healthy. What you have with Gill, is so much healthier than what you had with Mom. You don't fight the same way. You and Mom used to rip each other apart and it'd last for days. I remember, I was there." She paced before him. "But you and Gill, you have a disagreement and yeah, maybe sometimes she yells and you get defensive, but I see the way you look at her. It's the same, even when you're mad at each other. She walks into a room and you've got this look in your eye-" She pointed at his face as he looked away from her. "yeah, that's it." Emily froze.
"Hey Gill," Cal smiled nervously and Emily slowly turned her head to see Gillian standing in the doorway, with confusion written all over her pretty features.
"What's going on in here?" She questioned, looking at Cal, but gesturing to all of them. She gave nothing away in her expression, that she'd heard any of their conversation and Cal was slightly relieved.
"Oh, Emily and her new boyfriend just came by to annoy me, that's all, love."
"Her new boyfriend?" Gillian smirked, strolling across the office. She smiled at Liam, holding out her hand and he took it quickly, shaking her hand with a nervous grin. "I'm Gillian."
"Liam." He answered, shooting a look in Emily's direction that both Cal and Gillian could read. Cal's eyes narrowed and Gillian blushed, looking down at her peep-toes. Cal cleared his throat, before turning his eyes back to Gillian as Liam awkwardly ducked his eyes away. He didn't fault the boy, honestly. Gillian was a beautiful woman that caught a lot of men off-guard and he was a young man with eyes. What endeared him to the boy, was his consideration to dart his eyes away and focus as completely as he could, on Emily.
"So, what can I do you for, love?"
She studied the group closely, looking for any signs of leakage but when Emily and Liam started to retreat toward the sofa, avoiding her eyes, she knew both that something was up, and that there was no way they were going to tell her what it was. Apparently, that ball had been placed in Cal's court. Heaven help her. "I, ah," She twisted slightly on her heels, her arms swaying. "I was just wondering if you had the Friedrichs file?" That was a lie, Cal could see it, and it intrigued him.
Had Gillian come expecting him to be alone? She pursed her lips, continuing to sway. That was a nervous tick of hers, a clear deterrant from her calm, still-watered baseline. But he'd never tell her that. "Yeah, sure." He grabbed the blue manila folder from his desk and handed it to her, obviously faster than she's expected because she took it in her hand, but she was still frozen in her place. "Something else you needed, love?"
"No." She shook her head, feeling the tension in the room. She was stuck in place, as if waiting for the bomb to drop. Something was there, standing between the three she'd walked in on and she couldn't, for the life of her, work out what it was. Cal was nervous and twitching and Emily was glaring daggers in his direction. And her heartrate kicked up when Emily shook her head towards her, gesturing to her father. Feeling that maybe, it was none of her business, Gillian turned hesitantly, back towards the door.
She could hear hissed whispers behind her and before she was halfway out of the room, Cal's voice called her back. "Ah, Gill,"
She turned back around, seeing that he'd taken at least three steps to follow her, closing the distance between them that she'd created. She pressed the file to her chest and she knew Cal recognised the protective gesture. She was covering her heart; sheltering it.
"You got any plans for dinner tonight, love?" His voice was sweet and tender and the way he looked up at her from below his low-lidded eyes, her heart fluttered at the request. But as much as it made her feel warmth all the way down to her toes, a jittery nervousness settled in her bones and she looked between Cal and Emily and Liam. "Because, see, Emily's booked a table at this restaurant that I hear is a favourite of yours-" Gillian flinched and Cal stopped, mid-sentence.
"I wouldn't want to intrude on your plans, for the three of you." She hugged the folder tighter, twisting away but Cal's hand was instantly on her elbow, turning her back. And she wondered when he'd moved so close. She caught a glimpse of Emily and how her eyes had widened with fear. Dare she hope it was fear of her walking away?
"Not them, love," His voice was whispered and hoarse, lowered to a level she was sure, only the two of them could hear. She blushed slightly, as he moved closer. "just you and me."
Her eyes widened. "Oh."
He smirked. "Oh? Is that a yes?"
"Cal, is this a date?"
He smiled, shaking his head over his shoulder, gesturing to Emily standing with her back against Liam's broad chest. "According to the peanut gallery, it's about bloody time I pulled my finger out."
Mirth arrived in Gillian's eyes, making them glisten with a lovely smile. "And?"
"And," They both watched his movement as he slid his hand down her forearm until his fingers touched gently with hers. "I'm inclined to agree." She looked back to his eyes, catching him watching her, before her lips spread into a shaky grin.
"Okay." She breathed.
"Okay." He dropped her hand then, allowing her the need to move a few feet away. Too close for too long, was just too much and he could see it in her eyes. The tension was bittersweet and he knew she'd need room to breathe, for now. "I'll see you later then."
"Yeah," She swallowed, no longer glancing toward the teenagers staring dumbly at them. "i'll see you later."
She all but ran from the room, her heels muffled on the carpet of his library as she dashed through it and closed herself in her office. Cal just stood there, staring; he watched her go. And it wasn't until Liam spoke, that he remembered they were there.
"Wow, that was intense."
"Tell me about it." Emily replied, pride evident in the inflection in her voice.
Cal spun around, anger clear in his eyes as he pointed at them both. "You don't interfere, anymore!" He demanded and Emily flinched, backing into Liam.
"Dad, she said yes."
His eyes softened and he reached for her hand, pulling her into his chest and wrapping his arms around her. "Gillian's a touchy subject, Darling, you know that. Don't meddle anymore, alright?"
"Okay, Dad." She hugged him tightly, before pulling back and meeting his eyes. "I won't."
"I mean it, Em, no more."