She was more than surprised when Cal had called. She'd been sitting beside Torres, neither having moved from their place on the couch in his office. She'd felt Torres' eyes on her most of the time, when the woman wasn't preoccupied with questions from the agents surrounding the room or Cal's staff coming and going. She'd been fairly numb the entire time, biting at her fingernails and allowing her leg to shake on the spot as she waited for news.
The shrill ring of the phone had startled her; though phones had been ringing all day it seemed that because the sound came from Cal's private line, the sense of foreboding was stronger still. Torres had answered and Zoe had watched her eyes close tightly as she listened, nodding her head slowly with each instruction she received before the girl handed her the phone.
With a shaking hand, Zoe had reached for it, feeling Torres' reassuring touch on her arm as she raised it to her ear. She'd never offered Torres much credit in the past. Barely having afforded her a passing observation. But in the few hours they'd sat in silence, offering each other the solidity of shared reassurance, she had come to respect her. She was a smart girl and she was compassionate as well as loyal, it seemed, to both Cal and Gillian.
Hanging up the phone with her hand shaking almost violently, Zoe had fallen into the younger woman's arms. Feeling the warmth of her familiar presence as her heart returned to where it had once resided, when the world wasn't turned on it's head.
The sounds of the world outside were a blur to her. She could hear every movement Torres made as she drove them to the address Cal had given. She could hear every haggard breath not knowing if it was her's or Ria's and not really caring.
Ahead of them, the lights of the emergency vehicles all but blinded her and she was out of the car before Torres' was even able to turn off the engine. She could hear the younger woman's panicked shout from the driver's side but she payed it no heed as she slammed the door shut behind her and dashed around the side of the ambulance.
Though, the image that met her when she stepped out into the blinking lights of a dozen police cars and flood-lamps, froze her in her place.
Cal stood there, at the edge of the path. His shoulders slumped as they had been back at the office, though no longer in defeat but exhaustion. His arms hung low by his side and Ben was right there beside him, his broad hand on his shoulder. It was a simple gesture, that signified a friendship merely misplaced, but never lost.
Ahead of them, there was an endless stream of county uniforms and FBI jackets coming in and out of the house, though she blinked when she noticed the break in all of the official colours. There was a flash of brown, navy blue and a hint of red suede stained with blood. She looked down to their feet to see that Gillian was without her signature high-end pumps, making her look almost as small and petite as Emily. Her feet were scuffed and raw and the knee of her jeans on her right leg was torn. Beside her, Emily was pressed into her. The both of them struggling to maintain their composure as they stumbled through the throng of officers guiding them out of their prison.
She wanted to reach for Emily. She wanted to run for her; but something held her back. Something made her simply watch.
Down between them, Emily and Gillian's hands were clutched tightly together and across Gillian's stomach, there was a bloody hand-print against the white of her blouse, just shy of where Emily's other hand clutched the fabric. Her eyes drifted to Cal for a moment, and she could see that he too, was itching to move but waited for them to reach at least half-way before he started to move.
You didn't have to be an expert trained by the Lightman group to see the relief in their eyes. Gillian's mascara-stained cheeks were awash with new tears, chased by sobs wracking her shoulders with relief. Emily had buried herself into the woman's side, holding on for dear life as her father collected them both up in his arms.
He didn't ask them to break apart, he didn't even try because Zoe could see that he knew, at that moment, the request was unfathomable. He simply clutched the back of Emily's head as he kissed her forehead, pressing her cheek into his shoulder as she moved her cries from Gillian's chest to his. And whilst holding her there, Zoe watched as his eyes turned from his daughter, her daughter, to Gillian.
The world seemed to slow; he brushed blood-matted hair from her eyes and Zoe caught the wince on her face as his fingers collided with a gash on her brow. But it didn't hinder him. Their eyes were locked together as he threaded his fingers through her hair, curving his hand around to the back of her head as she cried inconsolable tears.
She'd never seen them like this and prayed, she'd never have to again.
She watched as he hugged Emily closer, his fingers still lost in her long dark hair as she clung to him. Holding them both in his arms, she could see that he'd tilted his head down, whispering something to their daughter who she noticed, gripped Gillian's hand tighter.
A shiver went up her spine at the realization of what she was feeling, of why she'd stopped in her tracks instead of running for Emily the moment she'd seen her coming out that door.
It wasn't that Cal had been waiting for them and it wasn't the guilt that she felt, for Emily being taken. She knew that while it had been stupid to let her go; if they'd really wanted Emily, they'd have found a way to get her no matter how hard she tried to protect her.
It was the way Emily clung to Gillian.
She'd thought for years that it was Cal who got under her skin; who churned up strange and unwanted feelings. But her feelings for Cal had always been the same. They'd always been rather unorthodox and at times, ridiculous. Because they thrived on animosity regardless of a mutual affection. That had never changed and as many women as Cal seemed to go through, and knowing that Cal had this unnamed addiction to Gillian; she'd never felt threatened as far as Cal was concerned.
But where Emily wasn't clinging to her father, she was clinging to Gillian and Zoe broke out into a cold sweat. She could feel Torres just behind her and knew the young woman could see what she was seeing, though probably had no clue as to what she was feeling.
Because who'd have known that it was Emily's relationship with Gillian she'd been jealous of, all these years; not Cal's. She'd expected that one day, she'd have to ask Cal to share his daughter with another man. She expected that she'd find someone that made her happy, who didn't try and read her expression every waking moment of the day. She'd expected that; relished it even. But she'd never thought that she'd ever come to the realization that she'd have to share Emily with another woman. A woman that would love her as much as she did, who'd care for her and protect her, sometimes better than she even could.
And she hadn't ever thought that she'd look back on her life for the past several years and realize that woman had been a huge part of all their lives, for so long. That the bond between them had grown over the years Zoe had spent pushing Cal's buttons. That she'd realize she'd become vital to Emily's life, without her even noticing.
She felt nervous and twitchy and out of place. She felt violated in the worst possible way, and she didn't know how to react. They looked so perfect, standing there; all three of them clinging to each other. But suddenly, Emily broke free of them and dash towards her. "Mom!" She screamed, careening into her with a flurry of swirling hair and arms out wide to wrap around her waist.
And Zoe knew in that instant that she hadn't lost her.
She had new emotions to deal with. Gillian and Emily had been through something she knew she was never going to understand and she was going to have to learn to give Emily that space with Gillian, that acceptance and allowance to feel those things with her. Because as much as it pained her, Gillian now had something with her daughter that she was never going to know. She had to accept that that was okay. And holding her daughter in her arms, tightly, she could feel that maybe everything was going to be alright.
She kissed the top of Emily's head, whispering promises into her ears as they held each other and she could feel the tears trickling down her cheeks.
Her eyes drifted back up to Cal and Gillian, to see his arms wrapped tightly around her shoulders and Gillian's hands, pressed to his back. Gillian's lips were parched and cracked and Zoe could see how she winced against his mouth as he kissed her, hard. But it didn't bother her the way she'd thought it would have in the past, to see them like that. She didn't feel the pull of jealousy. She could only feel that it was quite beautiful.
Gillian looked tired and drained, her face was covered in scrapes and bruises and she stood barefoot on the cold concrete, clutching Cal as if he'd disappear if she let go. But she was still beautiful, still lovely and still willing to displace her own comfort, to offer him a reassurance.
She was there, they were alive.
And Emily held tightly in her own arms was testament enough of that for her.