Written for gidget89 and csiangel *loves*
Cal made his way up to Gillian's door. He couldn't barely believe what he'd gotten himself into. Normally he left the decorating at his own house, up to Emily and and showed up at Gillian's late in the holiday season, when all her garlands and lights were up, just so that he could pilfer her famously over-spiked egg-nog. But this year, Emily was at her Mom's and he'd made the mistake of offering to help Gillian put up her christmas decorations.
He hadn't told her that it was because he missed Emily or that her joy and excitement over the holiday, actually made him feel normal for one season out of the year. And he certainly didn't admit that it was because, if he couldn't have Emily, the only person he was willing to spend that time with, was her.
Figuring that she'd already be right into the thick of, Cal took out her spare key from his pocket and quietly opened the door. What surprised him though, as he listened to the gentle creaking of the hinges; was the silence that lay before him and the darkeness that shrouded the entryway as he stepped into her home. There wasn't a wreath on the door, there wasn't any lights in the front room. There wasn't any Tchaikovsky playing the the Dance of the Reed Flutes from her living room or the smell of gingerbread wafting through the house.
He removed his coat and scarf, making his way into her home. "Gill!" He called out, but heard no reply as he looked down the hall and called again, up the stairs. He heard rustling coming from the living room and a faint cough, so he followed it only to lay eyes on the most pitiful sight he'd ever witnessed.
Gillian lay curled into the sofa, wrapped in a thick patchwork quilt and lit by the light of a single lamp. Her hair was pulled back in a messy ponytail and he could see from just her exposed shoulders, that she was dressed in the warmest, most adorable pajamas that she owned - they were red, and covered in little white polar bears. Her nose was red from blowing it and beside her lay a bucket of spent kleenex. "You look a sight, love." He smirked, making his way over to her.
Gillian rolled her eyes as she tried to sit up on the sofa, pressing her elbows into the cushions as she made room for him to sit down on the edge. "It's a wonder you're not re-married Cal."
"I'm picky," He grinned. "very picky." She eyed him with mirth and Cal chuckled, raising his hand to press the back of his fingers against her forehead. "And you're burning up."
"I know," She coughed. "I feel disgusting and all my decorations are just sitting there in their boxes." She pointed to the stack over by the spartan christmas tree and he shook his head.
"Well you're not getting off this couch, love."
She shook her head. "I don't think I could if I wanted to. I'm so dizzy."
"And you're all stuffy too, darling."
She swatted his arm and Cal laughed gently, pressing his palms to her shoulders to guide her back down into the sofa.
"Where's Emily?" She questioned, having been sure that he'd have brought Emily with him. "She's at her Mum's this year, Darling." He caught the hint of sadness in her eyes and it made him flinch just a little and guilt struck him for a moment before he averted his eyes. "But you just relax and I'll get you something for that."
"Cal, I don't," She coughed, covering her mouth and Cal frowned, watching her sniffle and splutter before she regained her composure. "I don't have anything."
"I think I'll find something, love, you just relax."
A few minutes later he returned with a steaming mug and a glass of amber liquid. Gillian grinned, hugging her blanket closer to her chest as he rounded the sofa and sat back down beside her. "You made me tea, Cal?" She reached her hands out for it, but he moved it to the coffee table, out of her reach and Gillian frowned, confused.
"The tea's mine, darling, this is for you." He dangled the glass of scotch in front of her face and Gillian scrunched up her nose.
"What? Scotch, Cal? You can't be serious. Alcohol doesn't cure colds, that's an old-wive's tale."
He held his finger up between them, pointing to her reddened nose. "On the contrary, Rudolph, Whiskeys have proved to be very helpful at lessening the symptoms. So drink up, it'll make your throat feel better and halt that disgustingly runny nose."
She eyed him warily, watching him smirk out of the corner of her eye as she took a long sip of the Scotch. Cal laughed gently when she pulled the glass away from her lips and pouted. "What is it, love?"
"I can't taste it."
He laughed again, more heartily. "What a terrible waste of good Scotch. But how do you feel?"
She took another sip, hugging the tumbler in both hands as she looked up at him from beneath her eyelashes. "Not so raw and disgusting. It's actually warming me up."
"Good then, you're well enough to help me with these decorations."
Gillian giggled, snuggling further into her blankets and hugging her glass tighter. "No, I don't think so. I might just supervise."
Gillian pouted playfully. "But you're here to take care of me, right?"
"No, I came to help you put up christmas tree lights, so seeing as that's not happening, I think i'll be on my way." Cal stood, knowing full-well that within seconds, she was going to call him back.
"Cal," She laughed. "you haven't even finished your tea."
He looked down at the still steaming mug and smiled, shrugging his shoulders. "I suppose I'll have to stay then."
"And you know, Cal," She set her empty glass down and pulled a cushing against her chest, hugging it. "It would make me feel better, to see the decorations go up."
"You're diabolical, love."
She chuckled. "You love it."
After re-arranging Gillian on the sofa so that she could sit up straighter but still sit bundled up in blankets, she was able to watch Cal move about her livingroom putting up lights and decorations all over the place. Boxes were scattered all over, with bawbles and beads tumbling out over the coffee table and over the chairs.
He was a messy decorator, she realised as she watched, smiling whenever she noticed him putting certain decorations in exactly the place she liked them. It made her realise how much attention he really paid. And it made her see that, in his non-challance about the whole holiday, it wasn't really just her egg-nog that he noticed.
Though, she couldn't really credit Cal with ever being anything less than observant. He noticed everything. And it wasn't until he wasn't until she sat there watching him move about her home in contradiction to the lilt of the sugar-plum fairies playing in her cd-player, that she realised just how observant he was.
Either that, how just how invested in her that he was. And it made her heart flutter. Her eyes were already rimmed red with fuzziness from her cold, but she could feel the gentle burn of tears at the corner of her eyes as she watched him intentionally hang the garland across her living-room doorway, crooked. "Cal," She admonished and he looked at her over his shoulder.
"What's wrong, love?"
"You're hanging that crooked."
"No I'm not."
"Cal, it's hanging far over to the left."
He leant back as far as he could without falling off the step-ladder, to examine his work. And though she couldn't see his face, being an expert in vocal pitch, meant she didn't need to, to know that he was smiling. "It looks fine, love."
"Not it doesn't, Cal, shift it to the right, please?"
He glanced at her again, feigning a long-suffering expression as he did as asked. "See, now that looks beautiful."
"It's crooked." He mocked.
Gillian laughed. "You're too close to the project, Cal, it's perfect now."
"Only because I trust you, Darling." He made his way back towards her, reaching out for her hand with a grin. "And now that the last of the decorations are up, time for the final touch."
"The final touch?" She questioned, letting him take her hand and guide her up from the couch. She folded her blankets to the side, holding on to him tightly as she wavered with slight dizziness. Cal hugged her into his side, loving the feel of her flannelette pajamas as he hugged her close.
"Yeah, in the kitchen, come on." He guided her around the sofa, leading her into her kitchen. Halfway there the dizziness righted itself and Gillian tried to pull away from him, insisting that she could walk on her own because it was just a cold, Cal! but he wasn't having any of that.
And she was confused, when he stopped suddenly in the doorway, grinning from ear to ear as he tightened his arm around her waist. "What are you doing?"
"Look up." He winked and Gillian did as she was told, rolling her eyes amusedly as she saw the sprig of mistletoe hanging from the door-frame.
"Cal," She almost whined, though she was still smiling and she wasn't trying to fight her way out of his grasp. "i'm sick."
"I don't care, love."
"You'll get sick."
He shrugged. "It's just you and me, darling, we can be utterly disgusting together." Gillian sighed, resting her forehead on his shoulder as she laughed and smiled as she felt his hand running soothingly up and down her back.
"Okay." She blushed, looking up at him with a coy smile and Cal grinned.
"You know, your nose really does look like Rudolph."
"Shut up and kiss me, Cal."
With a chuckle, he did. He pressed his lips to hers, tasting the scotch that she couldn't and he grinned against her mouth, licking her bottom lip as they parted.
"What's so funny?"
Cal licked his lips again, brushing a stray hair out of her eyes as he grinned down into her eyes. "That's just really good scotch, that is." She swatted him, pushing him back against the doorframe as she squeezed through into the kitchen. Though she was laughing and it reasured him that he hadn't upset her.
"So that was the final touch then?" She sat primly at the kitchen table, with her hands in her lap as Cal made his way over to the stove. It was then that she noticed a pot simmering and could just faintly smell a mix of coffee and spices.
"No, darling," He lifted the lid off the pot and took up a mug and ladle that he had sitting to the side. She watched him ladle the dark liquid into the mug and grinned broadly when he reached into the fridge for her can of whipped cream.
"Oh my, Cal you're actually condoning the use of canned whipped cream?" Her eyes were aglow and it made Cal chuckle.
"This is the final touch." He handed her the steaming mug of liquid before squirting the cream inside, filling about half the cup. Gillian moaned at just the sight of so much whipped cream that he was actually encouraging her to eat and it made him laugh. "Go ahead, try it." He sat down beside her, with his own mug and watch Gillian take her first, tentative sip.
"Wow," She closed her eyes, letting the flavour wash over her. She was grateful then, for the scotch of earlier because even though she barely felt much better, her nose was clearing and she could finally taste. "oh, Cal," She leant against his side, wrapping her free arm around his as she licked at the whipped cream. "it tastes just like christmas. It's delicious."
"It's coffee with a mix of spices. An old family recipe. I normally make if to Emily, but seeing as she's not here I finally had the chance to put some brandy in it." He winked and Gillian laughed.
"Are you trying to get my drunk, Cal? First the scotch, now brandy."
"Why ever would you say a thing like that, Gill?"
She watched him warily with a smirk on her lips. "You just be careful there. I may be sick, Cal, but I can still hold my liqour."
"Well, we'll just have to see about that." He took a sip of his own drink and hugged her closer into his side as they watched the lights on the christmas tree twinkle in the livingroom.