Disclaimer: Still don't own the show, never will.


"It's time." Her voice was shaking, and when she walked across the room towards him, he noticed how unsteady her steps were.

"Time for what?" he asked, matching her gentle tone.

"Time... to stop lying," she said, and as she approached he saw the tears glistening in her eyes. He knew she was upset about their latest case; the truth was, so was he. They'd been involved in an exhausting and emotionally draining two day search for a missing teenager; a search that had initially proved successful when they were able to locate the girl, rescue her safely, and ensure that her captors and everyone involved with her abduction were arrested. Then came the cruel twist of fate that he knew had been plaguing Gillian as much as it had him. The girl's parents, in a desperate rush to reach their daughter's side, had been involved in a head-on collision with another car. Both were killed on impact.

He'd seen the shock and horror on her face when she learnt the news, had watched her crumble before him and had had to reach out an arm to support her. He'd felt it too – a sickening feeling, a dead weight in his chest, pain and devastation and sympathy - for the victims and, more than anything, for the poor girl who'd been through so much already, and now had to find out that she was an orphan.

Yet Gillian had insisted on being the one to tell her. No matter how much he'd tried to stop her, she was adamant. She'd wiped away her tears, she'd composed herself, she had walked into that room with her head held high, and she'd broken the news to a young girl who was barely over one trauma before being thrust into another.

That was two hours ago, and he knew she'd spent the time in between sitting in her office, legs tucked under her, chair swivelled so she could look out the window. He'd cautiously approached once, but the glance she gave him indicated she wanted to be alone, and he'd respected that. The small smile and nod he'd given her told her that she could come to him when she was ready, although he hoped she'd already known that.

Now, here she was.

"It's time."

She repeated the phrase while he looked at her, still slightly confused. Before he could ask her what they were supposed to stop lying about, she sat on the edge of his desk and took his hand in hers.

"Do you love me?"

The question was so bold, so out of the blue, and he felt the surprise wash over his face.

"Do you?" she repeated, more firmly this time, and he met her eyes and nodded.

"Yeah... I love you," he said, stroking the hand that still clasped his.

She took a deep breath. "Good. Because I love you. And I've been thinking... about what can happen. You know, in life... it's so... unpredictable, and... cruel, and..." She stopped her stilted speech to wipe under her eyes. "Grace Monroe should be going home to her family tonight, and she's not. They're gone forever. And all across the country – all across the world – people are losing the ones they love. And sometimes, they lose people without ever telling them the truth, about how they feel, or... or..." She shook her head to try and clear her thoughts. "They don't live their lives the way they should, or do the things that they ought to, and then it's too late, and... and..."

She leant forward and gently pressed her lips against his, kissing him softly and sweetly. He responded gently, meeting her teary eyes when she pulled away.

"I don't want to waste time, Cal. I don't want to leave you without ever telling you how I feel, and I don't want to be left behind if anything happened to you, and know that we never admitted what we really have."

He nodded wordlessly, still struggling to find anything to say in response to her emotional confession.

"I love you," she continued, and his heart swelled at the sound of her uttering those words again. "And I've been lying about it for so long because it was difficult, and complicated, and because I thought we should just keep things simple..." She let out a shaky laugh. "But life isn't simple, Cal. Our lives have never been simple. I don't even think I want simple. But I do know that I want you."

He stood up, his eyes locked on hers, and gently brushed a lock of hair off her face. "I couldn't have put it better myself, love."

"So we can... be together?" she asked, her voice so tentative it made him ache to reach out and hug her, and just hold her safe in his arms forever.

"We can," he said, giving into his desire to hold her as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. She relaxed against him, her head on his shoulder, and he kissed her cheek gently before whispering in her ear, "It's about time."