Cal sat on his couch, turned with his back against the arm, his legs stretched out in front of him, crossed over at the ankles, bare feet sticking out from beneath slightly too long jeans. He could never find the right size; if they were right around the hips, then they were too long in the leg. He wasn't even particularly big so really, it shouldn't be such a pain in the ass. It wasn't a pain in the ass, but he did like to grumble about it sometimes. The house was quiet so there was no one to grumble too. He talked to his daughter that morning and had a restless day trying to entertain himself. It has never been true that he needed for there to be people around, it's just that he has never truly been alone. From university he was recruited into intelligence and that was never a solo game. When he escaped to hide in America he practically fell into Zoe's lap and since then, there has always been Emily. But now Emily was gone and he was living alone because he was having a hard time... not forgiving his girlfriend, but maybe himself? He was, at least, having a hard time being with her, in a way that wasn't... well they used to be incredibly great together and now they weren't and he knew that was mostly to do with him. So he had called for space. And space was what she was giving him.
So it wasn't that he didn't like to be alone, he lamented about wanting it often enough. It was that he just wasn't used to it. He couldn't let the silent stillness of the house settle over him with ease. He was constantly listening out for signs of someone else. And when there were no text messages he kept checking his phone because he thought there should be. There weren't any though. It wasn't a punishment, he was sure of that, but maybe Gillian was proving a point? Maybe she was... Nah she didn't tend to play those games. She hadn't text him today, because he had asked her for space. She was waiting for him to go to her, when he was ready. He wasn't sure he was ready just yet, but he did miss her. It was strange now to go an entire day without talking to her at all. And what had seemed like a relatively good idea that morning when he woke up, had now morphed into a sense of loneliness. And Cal didn't do loneliness.
It made him feel uncomfortable.
Gillian was half naked when the phone rang so it startled her badly. She hurriedly threw a shirt over her head and was still adjusting it over her breast when she answered. It was late and a phone call at this time quite possibly meant bad news, so she was a little breathless when she finally answered; surprised and anxious.
"What are you doin' luv?" His tone leered.
"Cal?" Her heart started to pound harder.
"Who else calls you luv?"
"Uh," Gillian tugged on her shirt one last time and stood still, listening. "Is everything ok?"
"Yeah why wouldn't it be?" He responded conversationally.
"I don't know. I don't hear from you all day and then you ring at nine-thirty..."
"Was I meant to ring you durin' the day?"
Gillian was silent for a moment. "No," she tried. It wasn't like they had specified any rules for this 'space'. It wasn't like she had been expecting a call. "You didn't have to. I guess you didn't want to."
"I wanted to," Cal responded immediately.
"You could have," Gillian told him gently. She wanted him to know, that he could call, whenever, he could come over if he wanted to; she was waiting on him. She wanted him to. No pressure, but she was waiting... Uh, god, she wanted him. Having no expectations was the only way she was going to get through this 'space'. She only hoped it didn't last too long. Her patience did have an end.
"What are you doin'?" Cal changed the subject.
Gillian supposed that it was enough that he was calling now. She could take that. It was a good sign. "Actually I was getting ready for bed."
"I wasn't going to go to sleep."
"I was going to read."
"Want me to go?"
"No!" Gillian replied with a bit more force than she intended. No pressure. Yeah right. She took a deep breath. "No," she repeated softer. "I'm glad you called." She would rather talk to him on the phone than read. It had been a long and strange day alone and without any contact. It had been six months since those six months and just a few weeks since their 'space' had begun. "Tell me about your day," she requested heading towards the bathroom. "While I brush my teeth."
Cal gave a chuckle. "Uh all right then. I woke up at eight and had breakfast." He paused, wondering if this was what Gillian meant. She didn't respond and he could hear water running in the background. When she didn't interrupt or redirect, he went on, "Talked to Em for a bit."
"How is she?" Gillian cut in.
"Good," Cal responded optimistically. "She says to say hi."
Gillian gave a grunt and it was then that Cal realised he can hear the faint but vigorous swish of a brush against teeth. She really was brushing her teeth but how had she managed to muffle her noises while still listening to him? He was obviously not on speaker. He listened for a moment, thinking about her teeth, her mouth, about how much he liked them and the taste of her, how he wanted to trace his tongue over... and then he remembered he was meant to be talking.
"And uh, school is good," Cal forced himself to go on.
"And then what?" Gillian prompted, refocusing him.
"I read the pape-a while I watched the news."
Gillian laughed a little. And Cal smiled to himself but she didn't say anything else and he listened for more clues as to what she was doing. Maybe she had muted the call?
"Had a showa, went to work."
"You went to work?" Gillian interrupted again.
"Cal, it's the weekend."
"But it's not Sunday," Cal teased.
Gillian gave a 'hm' but she wasn't agreeing with him, she was disapproving. Cal heard the definitive click of a light switch. "Finished with teeth?" He asked.
"Bed," Gillian told him firmly.
"Want me to go?'
Cal suddenly felt compelled to get into his own bed. He hesitated for a second and then got up from the couch, shuffling across his living room, bare feet and jeans scuffing against the carpet. "What are you wearin'?"
"Pyjamas," Gillian answered, tucking her feet under the covers, resisting the urge to tell him 'nothing' or getting him to guess.
Cal 'hmmed' back at her. "Sounds delightful. Tell me about your day. I'm gonna brush my teeth."
Gillian smiled; delighted in a way that he was copying her. He was across town but for once felt close. The conversation was completely inane, but it felt good, normal and easy. Cal was noisy with his teeth brushing, not at all trying to spare her from hearing it and she could picture him at the sink, the stance, the way he held his brush, even the expression on his face while he scrubbed. She smiled to herself and told him about waking, lazing in bed for a couple of hours, having coffee on the window seat and watching the birds in the yard, showering, dressing, babysitting her brother's children. Her day was about as interesting as his but it didn't seem to matter. When he picked the phone up again he was 'uh huhing' and asking follow up questions.
It felt like a phone date now. And it was going well.
"What did you go in to work for?" Gillian asked. "Tell me you didn't actually work."
"Well," Cal hedged. "Hang on, I'm takin' my shirt off."
Gillian's stomach seized and heat flooded her cheeks. He was back in a second but the affect of that comment lasted a little longer. So did the images.
"I didn't work, work. Just... you know me. I like to mess around."
He meant, constantly chip away at research or notes or lectures or tweaking reports, papers, reorganising his books. Something. He always found something to do.
Gillian found she couldn't respond; she was barely listening. She kept thinking about him with no shirt on. And in bed. Which probably meant no pants either. Because Cal didn't sleep in much and she knew this about him because she slept with him, or used to sleep with him, or... she was sleeping with him. Sometimes. Ugh she hated it when it was complicated. He also slept on the right, which is where she had taken to sleeping since he left because... well at first it was because the sheets smelt like him and then it just seemed like she was closer to him when she slept there, sad as that was to admit. When he was back, she retreated. When he was gone, she advanced again. That was probably a good analogy for where they were right now, constantly shifting back and forth, unable to find a good place to settle.
"So then I stuck down the contents of Loke-a's desk with supa glue."
"Tell me you're kidding," Gillian asked sharply.
"I knew you weren't listenin'," Cal chided softly.
"I was," Gillian hedged.
"Lie-a, lie-a," Cal sign-songed at her and Gillian had to consider herself grateful he hadn't got mad and hung up on her. He was in a good mood. They were in a good place, she had to remind herself. Not great, but good, better. Getting better. It felt. She hoped. "Gillian?"
"Yes?" She asked softly.
"What are you doin' tomorrow?"
"I don't know yet."
"Can I see you?"
Her stomach flipped again. "Yes," she answered and knew she sounded breathless, probably a little desperate. Well so what? She wanted him and she wanted him to know that. He knew that before and he didn't run a million miles.
"Can I come ova?"
He wasn't running now.
"Yes," she just about whispered, heart starting to pound a little.
Cal gave a little grunt. "All right." He paused and Gillian realised he had been nervous in asking. "Then I'll leave you to read."
Gillian found herself agreeing. But what she was going to do was snuggle down in bed and close her eyes and pretend he was there with her. She didn't like having 'space' but she had to concede, since Cal had asked for it, he had actually started moving closer to her again, so maybe it wasn't entirely a bad thing. Maybe she just had to wait a little bit longer. It had only been two weeks after all.
I love you.