This is for JanuaryLight, who was thankfully very flexible in her requests for some Cal and Gillian fic! I've gone for Cal and Gillian fluff... I hope you enjoy it. Merry Christmas! And thanks to McBreezy for arranging this all again :-)

Christmas Invitation

There was the quiet hum of Christmas music playing somewhere; if he had to hazard a guess, he'd say Foster's office. The lights on the large tree in the corridor were fading slowly between colours, and he stopped for a moment, mesmerised. He wasn't about to admit this to anyone, let alone allow any of his staff a glimpse of him snatching a quiet moment of Christmas merriment, but there was something quite beautiful and comforting in the way the lights gently changed from pink to purple, purple to blue, blue to green.

The echo of footsteps quickly broke him from his trance, and he continued in the direction he was heading until he reached his destination. He didn't bother to knock; a quick glance through the glass told him she was alone, and not on the phone or anything.

"Morning," he said, walking over to her desk.

"Afternoon," she replied, a hint of amusement on her face. "Christmas shopping go well?"

He exhaled loudly. "It's a nightmare. Same every year. People everywhere, and endless queues, and screaming kids, and what the hell do you buy a teenage girl these days?"

"Clothes? Shoes? Jewellery? Perfume? Concert tickets?"

"Alright, alright," he interrupted her. "So you'd be able to buy for a teenage girl. I, however, struggled."

"But you did get something?"

"Eventually, yeah."

"Are you going to tell me what?"

He grinned at her. "Nope."

She rolled her eyes. "Fine."

"You'll just have to wait and see."

"I suppose, if it's good, she'll show me when I next see her after Christmas," she said. "Or if it's really bad."

"Oi!"

She laughed. "I'm sure it's great, Cal, and she'll love it. Whatever it is."

There was a beat of silence, and she looked up at him, noticing that the grin had faded from his face and been replaced by hesitation and... nerves?

"Cal?" she said softly. "Really, I'm sure Emily will love whatever you've..."

He waved his hand at her. "It's not that. I... well, actually... I didn't tell you what I got Emily because I want you to be there, watching her open it."

"Be there? But aren't you giving it to her on Christmas Day?"

"Yeah."

"Cal..." she said quietly. "Are you inviting me over... on Christmas Day?"

"Well, I... you know, you were going to your aunt's, and your cousins will be there so it's not like it's... I mean, you know, Christmas, you want to be with the ones you..." He trailed off, a look of mild irritation on his face which she suspected was due to his own awkward stumbling.

"It's a lovely offer," she began, and heard his intake of breath.

" 'A lovely offer', so that means no, right?"

"It means... I don't know, Cal. You know how much I love spending time with you and Emily. But Christmas Day is for family, it's... I mean, things would be different, if we were together, romantically..." She trailed off, aware that a blush was creeping over her, and wished she hadn't spoken that thought aloud.

She wondered, in the few seconds of silence that followed, what was going through his head, and which of his thoughts he was going to articulate. Whatever she'd expected, though, wasn't even close to what she got.

"Why aren't we together romantically?"

"I... we... what?"

"Why aren't we together romantically?" he repeated. "It's a simple question, Gill. Is it because you don't love me? Or because you think I don't love you?"

"Because I think you don't...? Are you saying you do...?" She couldn't even say the word, couldn't complete that sentence, so loaded with meaning.

"Love you?" he finished. "Yeah, I'm saying that. I thought I'd been saying it for a long time, just without the words. But if you need to hear the words, then I'll say them." He reached for her hand, and she jumped a little in her chair at the feeling of his hand, warm over hers. "Gillian – I love you. I, Cal Lightman, am in love with you, Gillian Foster. There." He studied her face, unaware he was holding his breath until the smile on her face prompted him to forcefully exhale.

"I'm sorry I didn't hear you say it before," she said softly, standing up so they were the same height. "But haven't I always told you to use your words?" She gave him a teasing smile, and he felt his own lips curve to mirror hers.

"So... does this mean you'll be accepting my offer?" he asked hopefully.

"Well... I still think us spending Christmas together will only really work if we're together romantically."

"And a confession of love isn't enough?"

"Romantically, Cal. How can we possibly consider ourselves together romantically when you haven't even kissed me yet?"

He grinned at her. "You haven't kissed me either."

"Hmm. Good point." She reached her hands up to his face, cradling his head in her hands so gently he felt afraid to breathe. His eyes closed just before their lips made contact, and he wrapped his arm around her, deepening the kiss almost immediately. Her fingers brushed lightly against his jaw, and she pressed her body closer against his as the kiss intensified.

It was taking him a lot of restraint not to throw her on the desk and start tearing her clothes off right there and then, but another part of him knew it wasn't going to be like that for the first time together, and he was glad. It wasn't often love came before sex for him – in fact, had it ever? – and he was thrilled with the idea of finally making love to the woman he'd been in love with for so long. Besides, just because their first time wasn't going to be on her desk didn't mean that could never happen.

They broke apart and she eyed him suspiciously. "What's with that devilish grin?" she asked, and he gave her a mock surprised look.

"Don't know what you're talking about, love."

"Hmm," she said. "I have a feeling that whatever it was you were just thinking was very naughty."

"Perhaps one day you'll find out," he said, and she felt a little shiver go through her. "So..." He trailed his hand up her arm. "Are you going to accept my offer now?"

"Almost," she said, trying to keep a straight face as he sighed dramatically.

"What else do we have to do first?" He raised his eyebrows at her suggestively, and she gave him a playful smack on the arm.

"First," she said, looping her arms around his neck, "I need to tell you two things."

"Okay..."

"The first is... I love you too."

"Thank the Lord. God knows what I did to deserve your love, but I'm bloody thankful for it."

"It's Christmas, not Thanksgiving," she giggled.

"Right. Well, next year I'll be able to say I'm thankful for having the most beautiful, amazing, incredible girlfriend in the world."

She smiled at him, and gave him another slow, gentle kiss. He twirled a strand of her hair around his fingers, keeping their faces close together even after she'd pulled her lips from his.

"And the second thing?" he asked, his voice barely above a whisper.

"The second thing is... we can't have brussel sprouts at Christmas. They're absolutely revolting."

He burst out laughing. "Alright, darling," he said, brushing a finger gently against her lips. "We won't have sprouts at Christmas. But only..." he touched his lips briefly against hers again, "because I love you."