title: the black hole at the centre of my galaxy
Cal/Gillian, Emily, Torres, Loker, 1758 words, pg
Author's notes: Because, according to the Mayan calendar, the world is going to end this Friday, December 21st 2012. A word of warning: this fic is a bit silly. A more serious one to come still before Christmas. Big thanks, as always, to my amazing beta tempertemper.
It's the end of the world
and you've come back to me
- Kate Miller-Heidke, The Last Day on Earth
seven days until the end of the world (possibly)
"Dad," Emily mused aloud. "You know the world ends next Friday, don't you?"
Cal looked up from the book he was reading, squinting over the rims of his reading glasses.
"The end of the world," Emily prompted, when he failed to respond. "Next Friday. December 21st 2012."
Cal glanced at the book Emily had before her, before looking back up at her face. "What on earth are you reading?"
Emily rolled her eyes. "It has nothing to do with my book. It's been well documented."
Cal looked at her blankly.
"It's when their calendar ends," Emily replied, matter-of-factly.
Cal squinted at her, waving his hand over the arm of the armchair. "Hasn't anybody just thought that perhaps they got bored of writing the bloody thing?"
"Dad," Emily tried, but Cal continued regardless.
"That perhaps they got to December 21st 2012, thousands of years ahead of them, and thought, do you know what, we might not be here then, let someone else carry on writing it?"
Emily sighed. "I just think perhaps we should all do some of the things we've been wanting to do, just in case."
"In case the world self-implodes on December 21st because the Mayans said so?"
Cal pulled off his glasses, rubbing at his tired eyes, before looking up at Emily again. "Well, what is it that you'd like to do?"
"It's more what I think you should do. I think you should ask Gillian out."
Even Cal was surprised by the bark of a laugh that erupted from his chest. "So that's what this is all about. You really had me going for a while, there, Em. I was beginning to think you actually believed in all that calendar crap."
Emily remained un-phased. "What if this is your last week on Earth, Dad? Who would you want to spend it with?"
"You," Cal stated, unquestioningly. "Now get back to your book."
six days until the end of the world (possibly)
"I'm just saying," Eli drawled, "That we should do the things we've been wanting to do just in case this really is it."
"Don't be so ridiculous, Loker," Ria bit back. "The world is not going to spontaneously combust on Friday because a calendar said so."
"I never said it was going to spontaneously combust. That is ridiculous. No, what's more likely is that it'll be sucked into a black hole at the centre of the galaxy."
"I'm not sleeping with you, Loker. Go try this line on another girl."
There was silence, and Cal wondered whether it was safe to come out of the doorway he'd found himself having to stop in to avoid being dragged into this ridiculous conversation.
He rolled his eyes at Loker's quiet words. "If this is my last week on earth, then I'd like to spend it with you."
Cal watched the almost imperceptible lift at the corner of Ria's mouth. "Ask me again on Saturday."
five days until the end of the world (possibly)
"What do you know about this Mayan calendar, and the world coming to an end on Friday?"
Gillian glanced up from her paperwork to find Cal shifting from one foot to the other just inside her office door. She took in his posture, and the way his eyes couldn't quite meet hers. "It's a myth that just because the Mayan calendar ends on December 21st 2012, so does the world."
"A myth," Cal repeated her words, and she could see the wheels turning inside his head.
"Cal, why do you ask?"
"Just something Emily said. Never mind, love."
He was gone again before she could utter another word.
four days until the end of the world (possibly)
"Emily, what's this theory you have about the world ending on Friday?"
Emily paused, coffee pot in hand, in The Lightman Group staff kitchen. "Is Dad acting weird?" she asked, without turning around.
"You could say that," Gillian mused.
She placed the pot down on the work surface, turning around. "I never thought he'd actually think about it this much." She shrugged her shoulders, and Gillian had to smile. "Should I say something?"
"No." Gillian smiled. "At least it's stopped him shouting at our staff. Now he just poses philosophical questions to them and judges them based on their responses."
Emily laughed. "That sounds like Dad." She turned back to finish pouring the cup of coffee, before walking towards Gillian with it in hand. "I'd better get this coffee to him otherwise he really could become a monster." She paused, before looking up at Gillian. "You know, Gillian, you could always ask him a philosophical question or two of your own." She looked away, then, down at her feet, at the steam rising off the coffee cup in her right hand, at the window behind Gillian.
"Emily," Gillian spoke quietly. "I know what you're doing." Emily's brown eyes shot up to meet hers. "And I appreciate it, truly. But some things…" She struggled to find the right words. "Some things just are."
Emily sighed, quietly, offering Gillian a small, sad smile. "But some things could still be."
Gillian stood a long time after Emily was gone, thinking over her words.
three days until the end of the world (possibly)
"What time are we all going to kick the bucket, then?"
Emily looked up from her computer. "What are you talking about?"
"On Friday. Did these Mayans give a time? Midnight? Lunchtime? 3pm?"
"Don't be facetious."
She smiled once he'd turned his back, grumbling about being told off by his own child and pulling a frustrated hand through his hair.
He was still thinking about it.
two days until the end of the world (possibly)
"Gill?" he asked from the doorway again.
"Yes?" she answered, looking up expectantly.
He opened his mouth before closing it again, and Gillian had to refrain from drawing comparisons to fish.
one day until the end of the world (possibly)
It happened when she was least expecting it, in the middle of the plaza, the straw to her raspberry slushie halfway to her mouth.
"Gill, will you have dinner with me tonight?"
Gone were the shifting feet and the nervous eyes, replaced by sureness and a calm that radiated from him.
She didn't wish to tempt fate by questioning the nature of the dinner, so she merely responded with, "Yes," a gentle smile playing out across her face.
"Good," he replied, the corners of his lips flicking upwards. "That's good."
Christmas seemed to transform ordinarily boring streets; delicate lights hung from every lamppost, and store fronts boasted cozy displays. The lights danced in Gillian's eyes as she turned to face him, and he knew he was out of time.
"Dinner was wonderful, thank you. What's the occasion?"
She'd been watching him at the restaurant, picking up on the tells he hadn't been meaning to show and eyeing him with surprise when he briefly took hold of her hand. It wasn't normal behavior, even for them, and he knew she'd sussed him out before they'd even walked through the door.
He couldn't lie to her, and his silence was only making everything worse. He threw caution to the wind and leaned in, but she pressed her fingers softly to his lips, stopping him. "Cal," she asked, quietly. "Are you about to kiss me just because you think the world might end tomorrow?"
Silence fell, and her gaze fell to the buttons on his overcoat. "You remember you once said you found me harder to read than anyone else?" She spoke quietly. "Sometimes that goes both ways, Cal."
Words formed in his mind but refused to be let out.
"I'm too old for games, Cal," she whispered, and he hated the doubt he saw playing out across her face. "Especially with you."
He took a deep breath, both relieved that she wasn't watching him, and disappointed that he couldn't draw from the calm he usually found in her eyes. "I'm drawn to you, Gill." His words came out a whisper, and he cleared his throat softly. He smiled slightly as he noticed her take a glance at him. "I've been drawn to you since the day I met you, since you sat in your office with a planted book…"
"It wasn't a plant," she replied, smiling softly, shaking her head.
"…And told me I needed to change."
She was almost looking at him, eyes locked on a point somewhere beyond his right shoulder. "I said no such thing."
"Not out loud. And I didn't understand it at the time."
She swallowed hard at the memories. He came to me, in the middle of the night. Not to my office. To my house.
"You protected me when I didn't even realize I needed protecting. You protected Emily. Emily, who's been telling me for the past week that now is the perfect time for me to dig my head out of the sand, because we all know the world isn't going to burst into flames tomorrow, or get pulled into a black hole, or get taken over by aliens." He paused, his next words coming out more quietly. "But we also know that I'm a coward who might bloody well need to believe it is in order to try to convince the second best thing that's ever happened to him that he's worth taking a chance on."
Gillian's eyes dropped to their feet as she felt them begin to water. A gentle hand under her chin pulled her gaze back up. "This has nothing to do with the Mayans deciding enough was enough." He almost didn't utter the next words, too afraid that he'd never be able to take them back. "This is me saying enough is enough."
Still, she didn't say anything, and Cal felt himself begin to shift slightly from foot to foot again. "Gill?" he finally asked, hating the tremor that came out with his voice.
She looked up, then, picking up on his tone. She smiled a watery smile. 'You're worth taking a chance on. I've always known it. The problem is you've never believed it."
In the distance, they heard church bells begin to ring.
"You know, Emily wasn't quite clear what time the Mayans predicted the end of the world, but I'm pretty sure we've passed…"
Gillian cut him off with a kiss.