“You’re late,” she greets him when he arrives in his office.
She’s looking through some photographs that she has dispersed on his desk, but she looks up as he moves further into the room and he can feel her observing him closely. She knows exactly where he spent last night, and that doesn’t surprise him. Somehow she also knows what is going on with him.
He avoids her gaze. He tells himself it’s not because he’s ashamed – but his life’s work is spotting lies, and he doesn’t believe himself.
Upon reaching the desk, he busies himself with examining the pictures; pretending he is attempting to guess what the case is.
She continues to watch him, and he doesn’t need to see her face to know the moment disapproval clouds it. There is a shift in the atmosphere; an edge of tension sweeps into the room. Her hands return to the photographs, but he can tell from the sharpness of her movements as she flits from one to another, that her attention is still on him. And there is no denying his feeling of guilt now. He has let her down.
He allows his eyes to move to her face. She’s good. To anyone else she would be studying those photographs carefully. But he can see the tension in her eyes and jaw. She is angry. But, he knows it is not all directed at him. She’s angry at herself as well, because she shouldn’t be angry: She has no right to react like this.
He reaches out and stops her hand half way to one of the images. His fingers close around hers, and she drops her eyes away from his probing gaze.
“I’m sorry,” she whispers after a second.
“That’s all right, love. You’re just looking out for me.” She doesn’t need to know that he can see everything.
She looks up and gives him a small smile, but a slight frown creases her brow. She knows that he knows. Maybe she’s wondering why he is ignoring it.
He smiles reassuringly. He won’t take the conversation down that route. It isn’t the time or place to discuss why she reacts like this when Zoe is involved. There may never be a right time for that. And he’s okay with that. He knows. And for now that has to be enough.
She smiles, appreciatively; a hint of sadness in her eyes. “You’re big enough to look out for yourself,” she tells him, continuing the safe angle he introduced.
He nods. “But it’s good to know you’ve got my back.”
She laughs a little and holds his gaze. Her eyes are full of uncertainty and hints of guilt, but the sparkle of laughter assures him that she’ll be okay. “Likewise,” she responds.
For a moment he wonders if she knows that he has been keeping an eye on Alec, but if she does, she hides it well. She smiles to him one last time and returns her eyes to the photographs.
He laughs to himself. He marvels every day at the fact that she can be a mystery to him just as easily as she can be an open book. It’s what keeps their friendship strong, he thinks, and he certainly wouldn’t change it.
No. Until the right time comes, he won’t change a thing. She can have her secrets. He’ll have his. For now, it’s business as usual.
He follows her lead and looks down to the photographs as he asks her, “So what have we got?”