A/N: This is for Anuna_81 because she's hit a bit of a rough patch at the moment and deserves a distraction. All standard disclaimers apply.
Eli watched with curiosity, through the glass walls, as she moved things about her desk. He wasn't normally one for prying, even less on one of the few people that had managed to earn and hold onto, his respect. But she had looked different when she'd passed him by in the break-room.
She'd been rather quiet all day and he hadn't seen her once, set foot in the lab. Ria had been bounding around, all sunshine and smiles, constantly blabbering about the anonymous dozen roses that had magically appeared on her desk that morning.
He'd smirked as she'd come into the lab, glad of their audience, so that she could dance her metaphorical jig. He'd purposely left it anonymous, so that she could profess how much she loved them, without anyone ever being the wiser that it was he who had left them. He could even feign indifference, which earned him a side-ways smirk and for his troubles; a wink as she'd left the lab once again.
But on a holiday he'd normally have assumed Gillian would love - surrounded by love-hearts and puppies and everything romantic and corny - the lights in her office had been dimmed and she'd spent the time she was in her office, chained to her desk with barely but the lamp-light to guide her hand. And Lightman, not-so-surprisingly, had spent the day much the same.
But for him, that was a matter of any other day.
It rather annoyed Eli. Because at the least they were the very best of friends. Even if sometimes he wondered how she coped, or how sane she really was, for being so invested in the insufferable man. She'd even professed in the past, just how insufferable she found him to be, but somehow Eli had come to consider that, perhaps, that was a part of what tied her so to him.
Insufferable, yet painfully, passionately loyal. A rare thing; though he'd never admit out-loud to Lightman, that there was a small part of him - the part that didn't always rebel from the man's infuriating nature - that respected that in him.
Which is why he didn't understand why Lightman hadn't even bothered to offer up anything for her. It was Valentine's Day. At the best of times, Lightman didn't even care what people thought of him, his actions or his words. What would it hurt, to offer her something to ease the pain of a Valentine's Day alone? As a best friend should do.
Eli couldn't ever say he'd seen Gillian like this, on any other Valentine's Day. For most of the first years he'd known her, she'd been married. And while the gifts she'd received weren't ever something worth writing novels about, she'd been relatively happy with that. Then she'd been divorced and rebellious to the idea of Valentine's Day. And then there had been Dave, an aspect of Gillian's life that Lightman and she assumed he had no clue of. But, he did.
Her comfort was the only reason that he didn't, ever, address it. And the whole situation, along with it's specifics, drifted into the past and now, she sat with her back to the slowly setting sunshine fighting it's way through the tightly closed curtains, in the silence of her office. There was no music playing, no brightness surrounding her and no flowers adorning her desk. He wasn't even sure he'd seen her eat any kind of candy during the day. And that just wasn't normal.
Turning suddenly, with a burst of thought, Eli made his way quickly to Ria's office. She was working at her desk when he burst through and looking up, he could see that he'd startled her, but he didn't much care. "What are you doing?" She asked, her voice harried as she stood. Eli smiled as he crossed the room, catching the confusion on her face as well as the anger for having had her space invaded.
"I'm going to do something nice," He paused, two feet away from her side table as he caught a glimpse of something in her expression before she masked it. "What was that?" She crossed her arms over her chest.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"On your face, just now. That look, what was it?"
Ria rolled her eyes, dropping her arms to her sides. "Oh, let it go Eli, you're not Lightman."
He grinned. "No I'm not. Thank goodness." He continued making his way over to the large bunch of roses sitting pride of place in a clear vase.
"Hey! Those are mine!" She rounded the desk as he pulled a single rose from the bundle. "You gave them to me." She ground through her teeth, reaching to take the rose back but Eli was too quick, pulling it away just in time and holding it above her head.
"You're always saying that you want to get one up on Lightman, right?"
Ria dropped the arm that was trying to reach for her rose. "I'm listening. I don't know what it has to do with my roses, but I'm listening."
"I'm going to give one to Foster."
He rolled his eyes now. "Lightman hasn't given her anything and I thought, you know," He shrugged. "it'd be nice to give her a Valentine. I mean, you have eleven others." He gestured to the bunch.
Ria's lips twitched into a smile. "You're playing match-maker, Eli?" Her smile continued to grow as his face broke into an expression of panic.
"You're playing match-maker." She laughed. "You're going to give her a rose, hoping that Lightman will see it and get jealous." She giggled. "Though lets just hope for your sake that he doesn't go overboard with the jealousy and kills you."
Eli scoffed. "Why would he kill me over giving her a rose?"
"You're really asking that question." She smirked and Eli bit his lip before turning on his heel and dashing from the room.
Gillian flinched when she heard her office door unexpectedly open, but she smiled up at Eli, successfully hiding just how engrossed in her work that she'd been. She could see in his expression that he was none-the-wiser that he'd actually startled her. "Eli," She smiled, pressing her palms to her desk as she watched him take a few steps into the room, holding his hands behind his back. "can I help you with something."
"Nope," He smirked, slowly making his way towards the desk.
Gillian looked confused. "Then why are you here?"
He shrugged, briefly glancing at the ceiling before looking back to her. His hands still clasped firmly behind his back and Gillian found that point more curious than normal. Eli wasn't someone that often spoke with his hands, in fact, she knew that for him to have his hands clasped behind his back, was not uncommon. But for some reason, it seemed more conspiratorial than normal.
"You know, well," He swallowed and she imperceptibly smirked. "it's Valentine's Day."
"Yes it is."
"And I just wanted to give you this." He quickly pulled the single rose out from behind his back, his arm completely outstretched across her desk so that the rose, suspended between them, was within her reach. She could see that he was nervous and a part of her was flattered, as well as a part of her concerned, confused and a little surprised.
"Eli," She breathed, slowly extending her hand to take the rose. She pressed it's vibrant red petals to her nose and breathed in the scent of it, looking up at him with a gentle blush to her cheeks. "thank you, but, I thought that Ria and you were-"
He cut her off with his hands out and a small flash of panic in his eyes. "Oh, no, I mean, I just wanted you to have something because every woman deserves a Valentine's gift, I just..." He trailed off as she started to smirk and he pressed his lips together, rolling his eyes. "...thanks." He smiled sarcastically and Gillian laughed.
"Thank you for the rose, Eli. I appreciate what you're doing. It's unnecessary, but I appreciate it. And it's getting late now, so why don't you and Ria finish up. You can head home."
"Thanks," He grinned and turned to leave but just before he reached the door, he turned back with a sadder smile. "I meant it though, you deserve a Valentine."
She shrugged. "It's alright Eli, I don't really beleive in Valentine's and it's just one day of the year, I'm fine. I'm not as sad a case as you think I am."
Eli's reply was softer, his voice gentle because he knew that she was lying. For year's he'd seen her gush over Valentine's, Easter, Christmas. She was a woman that loved holidays and wasn't afraid to let people know it. But she was right; she wasn't as sad a case as he made out. She was strong and resilient and he knew that if she really wanted to, she could push Lightman any way she wanted or she could let him fall by the wayside and have any other man that came along. She was the kind of woman with the power to choose and she'd chosen. It didn't stop him from thinking Lightman should pull his finger out, though. "I know." Was his reply, spoken genuinely before he pushed through the door and let it close with a gentle thud behind him.
Gillian looked down at the rose, feeling it's petals with her fingers as she studied it's beauty. She was grateful to Eli and happy that he'd thought of her on a day he should have been completely wrapped up in someone else. And she was grateful to Ria too, for giving up the beauty of a perfect dozen, because she knew that was exactly where Eli would have gotten the single rose. She appreciated them all the more, for caring. And it made her smile that they did.
"Aye aye, secret admirer?" Gillian looked up, her face flushing at the sight of Cal poking his head through the door. She didn't answer, just swallowed and slowly rested the rose down on her desk as he came completely into the room.
She was surprised that she hadn't heard him enter. Surprised that she hadn't seen him out of the corner of her eye. But then, if she were honest, she wasn't often, genuinely surprised by anything that he did. Because Cal, by definition, was almost always full of surprises.
"Who's it from?" He questioned and she caught the flash of jealousy there. It steeled her.
"Eli." She answered, without preamble and caught the honest surprise on his face and the flash of relief. It wasn't often that Cal let his emotions jump clear and unfiltered from his being, but tonight seemed to be a no-holds-barred night and it made her smile as she stood up and rounded her desk, turning off her computer as she made her way around it, tidying things up.
"Loker, hey?" The surprise, the jealousy and the relief had disappeared in favor of mirth.
"Don't laugh." She mock-glared at him, passing him in order to reach for her coat. "He was doing something nice."
Cal smirked, reaching to help her pull her coat on. "Yeah, I'm sure he was." She eyed him as he shoved his hands in his pockets. "He's always had a thing for you, you know. That whole - doesn't go for married women thing? Total lie."
Gillian was confused for a moment, before she remembered back to a conversation they'd had so many times before, back when she was still married to Alec and flirtation was light and free of expectation.
"I'm not married." Her lips curled up and Cal's eyes sparkled.
"Not anymore; my point exactly, darling."
Gillian rolled her eyes and went back for her purse. She reached for her rose and sniffed it again as she switched off her desk lamp. "Ready to go?"
"When you are, love."
She pushed past him, heading out into the hall with her purse in one hand and her rose in the other. The lights were already dimmed in the halls and the doors to Cal's office were closed. She couldn't hear anyone else around and realised she must have sat there, contemplating her rose for a lot longer than she had thought. Realizing then, as Cal stepped up beside her with his hand to the small of her back, that it'd never been Eli she was thinking of.
"How did she take it?" Ria asked, startling Eli from his hiding spot in the corner of the hall. Where he'd been watching Lightman and Foster leave her office and head towards the exit.
"Seriously, Ria?" He grumbled. She laughed. "And it went fine; she liked the rose."
"Okay," She smirked. "And did your match-making efforts work?"
"I don't think so." He frowned, watching as Lightman pushed the door open ahead of him, letting it swing back for Gillian to catch just before it hit her on their way out. Not exactly gentlemanly, but it wasn't like Gillian was unaccustomed to it. "Damn that man is so blind."
"And you think you'd do better in his place?" She crossed her arms over her chest, eying him with a lopsided grin.
"Of course-" He cut himself short, noticing the look in her eye and quickly back-peddled. "Which I mean to say is, metaphorically, yeah. I mean, look at you and me..."
"About you and me, Eli?" She unfolded her arms, instead choosing to rest her hands on her hips as she took a step towards him.
"I bought you flowers, roses even. A whole dozen."
Ria nodded, seemingly mulling it over as she tapped her finger against her chin. "Yeah, you did." She looked straight back up at him. "But then you took one of those roses back, to give it to another woman. Now how's that look?"
"Oh, come on Ria, she's a friend and she didn't have anything."
"Oh I'm not faulting her." She stepped towards him, grabbing his jacket and pulling him closer. "I'm just saying that you'd better have a damned good plan in place for helping me forget about it."
Eli swallowed, daring to rest his hands on her hips. "I do," He breathed, feeling her press her body against him, though not realizing just how insistently, until his back pressed into the wall.
She licked her lips. "And what's that."
Without further hesitation, Eli dipped his head down and kissed her. She was surprised for only a moment, before loosening her hold on his jacket and pressing her palms to his chest. Eli's hands traveled around to the small of her back, pressing firmly against her and pulling her closer. Her fingers edge up into his hair, toying with the thick curls and lamenting silently, his recent hair-cut.
When they broke apart her cheeks were flushed and her lips swollen and the look of smug-satisfaction on Eli's lips caused her to laugh. "You're an idiot," She slapped his chest playfully and Eli just grinned.
"But you love me."
"Mm," She responded, straightening her jacket as she turned to make her way toward the exit. "god only knows, why."