"You know, I didn't mean to speed so far out and off—
Trying to drive your nickels to the well,
when you were happy to let them wishes drop."
Gillian felt the blood begin to rush through her body with the exhilaration of Cal's confession. She heard the blood in her ears, and she had to concentrate on keeping her body in the chair.
Despite the fact that she didn't necessarily trust her voice, Gillian spoke anyway: "Which was where?" Her tone demonstrated the vast apprehension she felt.
Cal, who had been looking her in the eyes, dropped his gaze to his desk—to the legal pad in front of him—he shrugged.
The sound of Gillian's voice had him raise his eyes to meet hers again, "Where, Cal?"
Cal shrugged—"God, I don't know, Gillian." He sighed, and looked around before he looked back at her again—"Anywhere but here, you know?"
Gillian nodded, her eyes wet.
"I mean, shit—if I'd have known that it would end up like this between us, with us tiptoeing around each other—with us hurting each other—with me hurting you—well, I would've kept my mouth shut."
Gillian quirked her eyebrow at him—"Oh yeah?"
Cal smiled, thankful for the bit of humor she was injecting into the situation—"There's a first time for everything, love."
Gillian laughed lightly before she took a shaky breath, trying to keep the wetness in her eyes from spilling onto her cheeks.
Cal looked at her—he felt his body get hot—he hated seeing her tears, even the unshed ones, sometimes especially the unshed ones, and he balled his hands into fists to keep from going to her, to keep from reaching out to touch her. He knew, now, that what he needed wasn't always necessarily what she needed. His body coursed with his need to remember that and more importantly abide by it.
Cal sighed—"We can just forget about it, yeah?"
Gillian felt the air from her body seep out into the space between them, and she couldn't control the scoff that was the result. "Oh, we can?" Her tone was full of incredulity, but her eyes still shone with sadness.
Cal leaned back and looked at her. "Well. We could try." He cleared his throat as he moved to idly play with a pen on his desk. At Gillian's lack of response, Cal shifted in his seat, "Look, I don't want—"
"Of course this is about what you want—of course it is." Gillian interrupted him.
"Hey." Cal said, his voice gentle—"I didn't mean…" Cal trailed off, unsure of how to continue.
Gillian chuckled—"Yeah. I know. Neither did I." She shook her head, and Cal watched as she tried to process things in her head, "It's just that—you decide everything, is that it? And I decide—nothing?" Gillian wouldn't look him in the eye.
"You know it's not like that." Cal leaned forward in his chair, eager to make her hear him.
"It's not?" She asked, finally looking at him—he shook his head. "Well, you decide when it's time for us to move forward in our relationship, you decide when it's time for us to not move at all—it sure seems that way, Cal." Gillian shrugged, "You didn't even ask me if I was—I don't know, ready for a next step. God, you didn't even want to know if I thought there was a next step for us."
Cal was speechless for a moment, confronted with Gillian's feelings. He hadn't completely thought things through—he thought he had, anyway. But, it was clear now that he hadn't—he knew she was making perfect sense. Beyond that, he knew she was speaking from a point of hurt and anger—but he still felt his blood rushing, he felt the need to defend himself.
"Really, Gillian?" He asked, his voice betraying his emotions—"So, what? I imagined everything between us all these years, that it? There was never any attraction, no lingering looks—no bloody current between us for all these years? I just made it up, then?" Cal pressed his palms into his desk as he spoke.
Gillian narrowed her eyes slightly—"I didn't say that, Cal." Her voice was quiet.
"You're right, you didn't. Because you're not one to lie, Gillian." Cal's voice was heavy, the undercurrent of all the things he was talking about building under his words, "You know there's something between us. I know there's something between us—pardon me, but I thought it was damn well time to get it out in the open, to stop dancing around it. But, I didn't mean to get so far off track, okay?"
Gillian's brow furrowed as she tried to work out his meaning—"What do you mean?"
"I mean that I didn't mean to try to force you into anything, Gillian—" He shrugged, "You're an intelligent woman," He smiled at her, his words echoing the ones he'd spoken to her so many years ago. "You know there's something between us—I was ready to work on it, you were content to let it go—I should've respected that." He smiled wryly, "Well, I should've at least acknowledged that."
Gillian shifted in her chair and offered him a small smile in exchange for his small joke.
"But, instead, I pushed you—" He smiled at her, "And then punished you when you didn't go in the direction that I wanted—I shouldn't have done that. I just… I take things personally—"
"You don't say." Gillian laughed.
Cal laughed with her, a small sound that seemed to dissolve some of the tension between them, "Especially when it comes to you."
Gillian sighed—"I know." She tapped her foot lightly, trying to wrap her brain and her heart around what was happening—around everything that had happened between them. "But, Cal—I mean—I never said no."
Cal's mouth opened slightly and then closed—he opened it to speak, but nothing came out—"Is it…" he faltered, adrenaline rushing through his veins—"Are you saying yes?" His voice was low, nearly a whisper as he looked at her with intensity.
Gillian shrugged—"No. I'm not saying—I mean. I still don't know, Cal—things are so different now—so much has happened. I don't know how to just set it all aside and act as though everything is fine when… when my heart is still hurting."
Cal pressed his back into his chair and set his jaw, he felt his body tense at Gillian's words and he had to work hard to suppress the cringe that threatened to overtake him. He hated Gillian hurting—he hated hurting Gillian, and knowing that he was the cause of her pain was driving him insane—
He felt the familiar panic rush through him—the little voice that had began many months ago saying you'll lose her—but he struggled against it, struggled against the urge to plea.
Instead, he gave her a curt nod—"Okay. Fair enough." His voice was terse and Gillian smiled, recognizing at least part of his struggle. She knew he had more to say. "Your decision, darling. Always has been."
Gillian felt her stomach give a little flip-flop at the sentiment—at the tenderness she saw in his eyes and heard underneath his words.
"And until then?" She questioned, her eyes searching his—finding tenderness and patience, she felt a warmth invade her stomach. She had to fight the urge to give in right then and there—she called instead on the feelings of hurt his behavior had inspired in her. Cal didn't react—she wasn't sure he had heard her, so she asked again, "And until then?"