Gillian stopped in the corridor when she caught sight of her office through the glass. Her eyes were wide and her mouth slightly open in surprise as she took in the additions to the space.
The room was bathed in a soft flickering glow, provided by candles positioned on the desk, tables and bookshelves. A large bouquet of flowers - an array of colours and kinds - sat on one corner of her desk; and standing behind it, with a mischievous grin from ear to ear was Cal. His eyes sparkled as he captured her gaze and with a short laugh to herself, she slowly shook her head and took the remaining steps to bring her into the doorway.
"You've been busy," she remarked, with an impressed smile.
This new position afforded her a view of some intriguing boxes, previously obscured by the vase, and her brow furrowed in wonder.
"I wanted to do something special," he replied, still grinning.
She tried to control the smile that was trying to curl her lips as she moved across to the desk, standing opposite Cal. "It seems a bit… romantic for the occasion," she observed.
Cal shrugged and quipped, "Let it never be said that romance is dead."
Gillian laughed and glanced to her right, taking a closer look at the beautiful collection of flowers - roses, lilies, tulips, daisies. She inhaled deeply, closing her eyes as she took in their scents. "These are lovely, thank you," she whispered.
Opening her eyes she found that Cal had moved round the desk and was standing almost beside her. And he was holding out a gift wrapped, small, rectangular box to her.
"I know. 'I shouldn't have…'" he interjected, with a smirk. "But I spent too much of this year being a jackass. I wanted to do something nice. Let this be what you remember of our eighth year together."
He waggled the box that she had yet to take out of his hand.
"You really didn't need to. All that's behind us -"
"If you don't open the present, you don't get the cake," he told her solemnly.
Her eyes widened. "Cake?"
"All special occasions should have cake, right?"
He pushed the other box out from behind the flowers and opened the lid, revealing a giant chocolate cupcake, with two strawberries in the centre of its buttercream icing.
Gillian felt her mouth water. Cal waggled the present again.
Rolling her eyes at him, but actually overwhelmed that he had done all of this, she took the box. Carefully, she peeled away the gift wrap, and put it on the desk. She was curious as to what was inside the revealed velvet box, but her heart started thumping in her chest and she was inexplicably nervous. She ran her fingers over the velvet, hesitating before opening it.
"The box isn't the present, love," Cal joked. "You need to open that too."
She looked up at him and attempted a glare. She knew there was no power at all behind it. He just grinned at her.
Looking back to the gift, she slowly opened the box, and was rushed with amusement and love, a wide smile sweeping over her lips, tears stinging her eyes.
Nestled inside the box was a metal key fob, and engraved on it the words: 'The Foster and Lightman Group'.
Her laughter was softened by the lump in her throat, and she lifted her head, meeting Cal's eyes. All mischief was gone from his expression now, and there remained only a smile and gaze of genuine affection.
"Like it?" he asked quietly.
She nodded once. "Love it." Her words came out a whisper, barely loud enough for her to hear over the now rapid beating of her heart.
"Good," he whispered back. He leaned forward and, ever so gently, kissed her cheek, just right of the corner of her mouth. Then he pulled her into his embrace. "Happy anniversary, darlin'."
Still holding the gift, she wrapped her arms round his waist, returning the hug. She allowed her eyes to slip closed, absorbing the contented feeling of being in Cal's arms; of knowing that, despite everything they had endured - everything he had put her through - in the last twelve months, they were back to the way they used to be.
She found her heart actually ached a little at that thought but she refused to let her mind wander to whether or not they would ever be more than what they were. But - probably due to the fact she was standing in a candlelit room, in the warm arms of the man she loved with every cell of her body - her mind went there anyway. Her subconscious pulled him closer to her, tightening her hold and when he copied her actions - indicating that his thoughts echoed hers - it gave her a surge of courage.
Pulling away just enough that she came face to face with him, she read anticipation, love and desire in his expression - he wasn't hiding anything from her. She quickly licked her lips and then pressed them softly onto his, lingering only a moment before breaking away.
"Happy anniversary," she returned quietly.
Surprise and delight had joined the party on his face and she couldn't fight the smirk that twitched onto her lips.
"It certainly is," he responded, his smile supporting his words.
Bringing her free hand up to rest on Cal's chest, Gillian suggested, "Let's let this be what we remember of our eighth year together."
"I could tell you didn't like the keyring," Cal teased.
Laughing, Gillian responded, "I love the keyring. Particularly that you have the names in the right order."
He shrugged, nonchalantly. "Alphabetical, you know, love."
"That's what I figured."
For a moment they just smiled at each other: nothing said; no declarations or promises made; no discussion about the future. But they could see in the other's eyes that this change was going to be for the better.
Then Cal's eyes acquired a cheeky glint and he asked, "So what do you think we'll remember most about our ninth year together?"