Title: (When I Found You) My Heart Found A Home
Cal/Gillian, Emily, Zoe, future-fic, pg
Author's Notes: Title comes from the song Falling For You by Seabird. Many thanks, as always, to my beta, tempertemper77. I wrote this before the season 3 premiere, but then I was so disheartened by Cal's behaviour that I shelved it. After the news that we aren't getting a back 9 episodes I thought, just maybe, it was time to dust it off and share it. I hope you'll enjoy this piece of optimistic future-fic.
I do love nothing in the world so well as you.
- William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
She notices the little things.
Cal always wears shoes in the house. He dresses as soon as he's up and showered, shoes included. He takes them off just before heading upstairs to bed. She asked Emily about it once, who merely rolled her eyes and uttered something along the lines of guess he's more flight than fight.
They both know this isn't true. They both know, better than possibly anyone else (except, perhaps, for Zoe, too) that he would root his shoed feet to the ground in order to protect them. His fists would show the evidence of his preference for fight over flight; his cheek, possibly, too.
Gillian asks him about it, once. Cal, don't you ever want to take your shoes off? I want you to feel comfortable here, you know. His feet are crossed at the ankles, resting on her coffee table, and they both know that he is going nowhere tonight. He grins at her, jokes but what if I need to leave in a hurry? and she recognizes that he's just told her the truth in the only way he's capable of.
She searches through her memories of childhood experiences and lasting effects and scans textbooks in her mind. For a moment she's back in grad school - her roommate out at a party, irritated that Gillian won't join her - perched at her desk poring over research papers and scientific articles. She knows why Cal keeps his shoes on; she only hopes that, in time, he'll learn to want to take them off.
He notices the little things.
Gillian shrugs her shoes off as soon as she's inside the door. If she has no plans to leave the house, she pads around in pyjama bottoms and comfy jumpers and snuggles into a corner of the couch with a secret stash of chocolate that she just might share if you promise to buy me more.
He envies the comfort she finds in being at home; the simple pleasure of locking the door at night and closing the curtains as soon as it's dark I don't like anyone being able to see in if I can't see out. He supposes it makes perfect sense, it's just that he's never thought of it that way before.
Emily joins in on the act (though she's always done it at home herself anyway) and he often finds his two girls giggling in front of a film with that girl who used to be in Friends Jennifer Aniston, Dad! or that bloke who he more often sees on the news publicizing the crisis in Darfur Cal, it's George Clooney. How can you not know who George Clooney is?.
He remembers, as he sits at the other end of the couch trying to understand what they see in these films, the days of Terry and street fights and stealing tins of baked beans from Sainsbury's and flirting with the next door neighbor for a couple of slices of bread and always, always, having your running shoes on.
He knows that Gillian understands his ingrained need to always be ready to run; even if she doesn't know the specific reasons why.
She notices the big things.
On the one day of the year she'll take him in regardless of how many whiskeys he's downed, she knows that he'll have stopped somewhere along the way to eat some food to soak up the alcohol; that he'll have circled the block as many times as it took for the fog to lift somewhat and the air to clear his head, so that when she gets him back she won't close her eyes to fight against the memories of her father stumbling in drunk, night after night.
By the time he arrives home to her he can string a sentence together and his eyes are able to focus on hers and, most importantly, he can stand on his own two feet. I'm sorry, love, he'll murmur as he curls himself into the couch.
Don't be, she'll whisper back as she covers him with a throw and runs her fingers through his hair. A large glass of water and some aspirin on the coffee table followed by a kiss to his forehead and he listens to her softly head back to their room.
It's the one night of the year they voluntarily spend apart.
He notices the big things.
When Emily turns twenty-one he and Zoe take her out for a meal at her favorite restaurant, relive the glory days and laugh over all the best memories. There's no mention of arguments or other halves, only hopes for the future and Emily's latest plan for her life.
Zoe sees the bracelet her daughter wears, comments on how beautiful it is. She doesn't ask where it came from, just accepts Emily's offering of a friend gave it to me and leaves it at that.
Three days later his daughter is still wearing the bracelet as she sits at the coffee table writing the latest paper due in tomorrow. Gillian is standing in the doorway watching her with a gentle smile on her face as Cal sneaks up behind her, wraps his arms round her waist and pulls her gently back against him. She loves that bracelet, you know he murmurs into her ear as they both watch her. I'm glad, Gillian whispers back, threading her fingers through his resting on her stomach.
He could never be with someone who didn't like his daughter. Cal recognizes how lucky he is that Gillian loves her.
Emily notices the obvious things.
Her Dad fell in love with Gillian the moment he met her, he just didn't realize it. She knows this because the first time she ever heard Gillian's name mentioned, Cal's eyes lit up as he described her. He was joking around, recounting a tale of how he practically had to beg her to agree to be his business partner, and Emily, in all her wisdom of ten years old, simply replied sounds like you've found the one there, Dad. To this day, she remembers how his eyes had softened at her words.
Emily notices the subtle things, too.
She's now one of two people who can persuade Cal to spend two hours of my life! on the couch watching movies with happy endings and cheesy soundtracks. There's a third place setting at the table every night now, even if it isn't always filled. When the three of them are cosily sitting in the living room, her studying, them talking quietly, she realizes that they hold hands the entire evening, fingers loosely threaded as if it's the most comfortable thing in the world. Maybe it is. Her parents are, ironically, getting on better than they ever have done (perhaps they've both finally grown up, she thinks quietly to herself). Her Dad actually talks to Rick now and addresses him by his given name, and not only when she and Gillian are there to witness it.
She notices a lot of things.
But, and quite possibly most importantly, Emily notices that her Dad is happy.