He had been ready to speak. His instructions were on the tip of his tongue, ready to roll smoothly off there. But he hadn't known that she would manage to distract him immediately.
By now, he was accustomed to her distracting him more often than not. Her clothes - today's deep, red, formfitting dress, for instance; her hair; her nail polish… those legs! It was a bloody miracle he got any work done at all. But tonight, she had a completely different weapon…
He stalled in the doorway of her office, rocking slightly with his sudden stop. Every intended thought fell away as his eyes fixated on her lips. Between the deep red of her lipstick (perfectly matching the dress), she held a pink and white striped candy cane. While she read something on her computer, her fingertips held the candy and moved it slowly in and out (and in and out) of her mouth. Her lips moved smoothly over the hard surface and, from the twitches of her cheek, he imagined her tongue swirling around the concealed tip as she sucked the flavour off it.
That wasn't the only thing he imagined.
He shifted as his jeans suddenly felt far too restrictive.
His movement must have distracted her for she turned her head to face him. Her eyes smiled and, after relinquishing the cane to her hand, her lips followed suit. He sincerely hoped he did not look as busted as he felt.
"All right, darling?" he queried, rhetorically, sauntering into the room as if he hadn't just been caught fantasising about her. "You know, it's eight o'clock," he reminded her, as he dropped into a chair in front of her desk.
Her eyes sparkled as her smile widened into an anticipatory grin. "I do," she replied and Cal was lost to distraction again as the tip of her tongue flitted out and trailed across her lips. It was gathering traces of candy cane flavour, he knew, and he had never wanted to taste one of those crazily sweet treats more.
"Cal?" she enquired, prompting his eyes to return to hers. She seemed amused by what she had seen, so, naturally, he deflected.
"Right! Present time, come on…" He jumped out of his seat as he gave what would have been his earlier instructions. Then he added, "Bring your little sugar stick with you if you want."
He wandered out of the office, sensing the smirk on her face as she followed him. It irked him that she could be so damn smug. Or, more precisely, that he constantly gave her reason to be so damn smug.
Each clickity click of her heels on the hard floor went straight to his imagination - those shoes were on her slender feet; those feet were on the end of those long, long…
He shook it off and led her into the break room.
"We're exchanging gifts in the break room?" she questioned from behind him as he aimed for the refrigerator.
"Nah, I'm just collecting our refreshments," he told her, reaching into the fridge and retrieving a bottle.
Her eyebrows rose when he turned and she saw it. "Champagne," she observed, waving the remains of her candy cane in her hand a little. Her other hand hung at her side, holding a rectangular green and red parcel.
He shrugged. "I considered scotch but this is more elegant."
The eyebrows lifted again and she didn't even need to give voice to her thought.
"I can do elegant," he defended himself, gliding towards her, posture straight for the first time in quite a while.
She giggled and the sound sent a delightful shiver through each of his nerve endings.
He advanced into her personal space until they were mere centimetres from being nose to nose. He marvelled at how she managed not to visibly react whenever he did that. Surely she must feel something.
"I thought this dress of yours deserved a classy evening. Seeing as you insisted we don't go out tonight, I figured I'd have to bring a bit of class to the office."
"Like I do every day," she smirked.
Cal grinned. "Oh. Think a lot of yourself, love." Of course, he completely agreed with her and his thoughts drifted to exactly how much he thought of her…
The damn smugness was in her voice now. Maybe alcohol wasn't the best idea tonight - he was already pretty intoxicated as it was.
"My present?" she encouraged.
He stepped away and brushed past her to leave the room. "You're worse than Emily," he muttered, fondly.
She fell into step beside him. "Well you've told me so many times what a wonderful present you've bought me this year."
"You'd have been giddy even if I hadn't told you that."
"Well it is wonderful," he grinned at her, loving the excitement he could see in her eyes.
"It'd better be," she said, moving ahead of him to enter his office, "or I'm going to be bitterly disappointed."
He placed the champagne on the table, and she sat down on his couch while he moved into his study to get her gift. As he returned and moved to his shelf to get two glasses, he promised her, "If you're disappointed by this present, I'll eat fifteen of those candy canes!"
"Now, I almost want to be disappointed," she laughed.
He crossed the room and sat down beside her, putting the glasses and her package on the table. He watched her eyes examine her present; could practically hear her trying to figure out what it could be.
Smiling to himself - because he knew there was no way she could work it out from the shape of the box - he picked up the bottle and offered, "Champagne, madam?"
It was then that he saw her notice the glasses. "In those?" she asked, amusement dancing across her features.
"I may have forgotten to get champagne flutes," he shrugged, establishing a good grip on the bottle as he readied himself to remove the cork.
"How elegant," she remarked, quietly.
"Hey!" he argued, pushing the cork from the bottle, trying quickly to catch the flowing liquid in a glass. "We could have been in a very elegant restaurant -"
"Paying ridiculous Christmas Eve prices…"
"You're worth it," he told her, completely honestly.
Her eyes narrowed slightly as she looked at him, probably trying to figure out where that comment was leading.
"Cal… This is exactly what I wanted," she told him, "I even would have settled for scotch," she smiled, softly.
"Oh I know how you get after scotch, love," he commented, handing her a glass of the bubbling wine.
She laughed again, accepting the glass, but she broke eye contact, a slight blush rising to her cheeks.
"Couldn't have you throwing yourself at me again," he continued, just because he enjoyed watching the deepening of the pink on her cheeks.
"Our memories of that night are very different." She spoke softly before raising her glass to her lips.
Cal watched the twinkling bubbles as the liquid flowed past her red lips.
Forcing words past the tightening of his throat, he responded, "That's because one of us was sober and one of us wasn't." He took a long swig of his own drink.
Gillian laughed and nodded once, accepting his assessment. Then she put down her glass, picked up the parcel she had brought in with her and handed it to him.
"Merry Christmas, Cal," she beamed.
Cal made sure that the grin he sent back told her he knew exactly what she had done. He picked up his gift for her and the items were exchanged. "Merry Christmas, darling."
Gillian's lips curved and she quietly sang, "We're apart that's true…"
She was too adorable, with her love of Christmas songs, and Cal couldn't resist. "But I can dream, and in my dreams…"
Her head whipped round to face him; her eyes wide in genuine surprise - well, he really didn't sing very often. He simply smiled innocently back at her and then they both finished:
"I'm Christmasing with you."
"Well," Gillian commented, "You learn something new every day."
"Didn't know I was such a good singer, love?"
"Didn't know you were so into Christmas."
"Hard to escape it really. Especially with you and Em around."
She smiled. "You love it."
"Yeah well, don't tell anyone. I've a reputation to protect. Now, presents."
They each settled their parcels on their lap and started on the paper. Cal had learned several years ago not to be surprised that Gillian actually would tear the wrapping paper from a present. The first Christmas he had known her, he had fully expected to sit with her for hours while she delicately peeled away each piece of tape, and ever so carefully unfolded the paper. He had been truly speechless at what he saw instead.
He took his time with his paper, so that he could watch Gillian's reaction as she got past the layer on hers. Her impatient exploits revealed a cardboard box, which she tore the tape off, opening it to reveal another wrapped package.
Cal grinned, proudly, and she laughed out loud.
"Surprise," he said.
She shook her head, still chuckling. "Open yours Cal."
"I wanted to watch you -" he tried to protest but her interruption was insistent.
He tore off the remaining paper, and his hands slowed when a cardboard box was revealed. "You didn't…"
As he removed the smaller parcel from the box, their eyes met in entertained disbelief.
"Clearly we're spending too much time together," she told him.
"No such thing," he replied.
They unwrapped the next layers simultaneously, each revealing another box, containing another wrapped item.
"If we've used the same number of boxes, then we definitely need to spend some time apart," Gillian suggested.
Cal didn't like that suggestion, but, as it happened, they hadn't used the same number of layers, and he reached his actual presents before Gillian did. There were two. One was quite heavy, and cube shaped, and the other soft and obviously some sort of garment. He pondered what they could be while he waited for Gillian to catch up.
Eventually she got to the main attraction, removing an envelope and a small, square gift from the last box. She placed the box to her side - on top of the many others - and looked at Cal.
"Are you ready?" she asked him.
"About bloody time," he joked.
"Only yourself to blame," she muttered. "Which should I open first?"
Cal pretended to think it over, but in truth he already knew. "The envelope first. Me?"
Gillian looked like she couldn't decide. She pursed her lips for a second and then said, "The cube."
Cal nodded, placed the other present next to him on the couch and set to work on the cube.
Meanwhile, Gillian opened the envelope, slipping out the piece of card that was inside. "An IOU?" she frowned and, whether intentional or not, her expression said, 'This had better be good.' Cal could just imagine her figuring out where she could buy fifteen incredibly large candy canes from. Of course the image of Gillian with larger candy canes brought back thoughts he had been trying to keep at bay.
"Turn it over," he instructed, returning his eyes to his gift, finding that beneath the paper there was a cardboard box. He shot Gillian a look.
She grinned, wickedly, but then assured him, "No, really, it's in there. That's its box." She returned her attention to the piece of card in her hand, and Cal waited to see her reaction to reading it.
"Cal, that's… so sweet," she thanked him, "Do you even like basketball?"
He made a face to the negative. "Not really… But I do like you. And I like having dinner with you… Basketball was just a little extra I threw in there so it would seem like it is actually a present for you, and not me."
She laughed lightly and rested a hand on his arm, gently squeezing as she said, "Thank you. I'll see what games are coming up and choose a night."
Cal nodded. "Just tell me when and I'll be there."
She had captured his eyes and he didn't want to look away. Clichéd as it sounded, he could quite happily have stayed there forever.
"Open yours now," she ordered, apparently not sharing his sentiment.
"All right, all right, patience is a virtue," he mumbled as he did as she asked.
Inside the cardboard box was a glass paperweight, and etched inside it were him and Emily. He recognised it from a photograph that Gillian had taken of the two of them once.
"Gill… That's lovely."
Gillian shrugged, shyly. "I figured if you've got a paperweight, you've no excuse for losing paperwork."
"You're so resourceful," he smiled at her, appreciating the gesture that she appeared too shy to admit to.
"I've got one for Emily too… Though not in quite so many boxes."
"I won't show her mine then. Thank you, darling."
He leaned across and kissed her cheek softly. As he sat back, their eyes locked again and Cal actually cursed the fact that they each had another gift to unwrap. He didn't want her to have an excuse to break away.
"Your other present is just a little silly, something."
"Yeah, so's yours."
"Shall we?" she asked, and he did sense that maybe she was as reluctant to look away as he was.
Nevertheless he answered, "Probably should or we'll be here all night."
He watched Gillian fight off a smile that tried to curve her lips, and that intrigued him. What thought had brought on that smile that she didn't want him to know about?
Ordinarily he would have ignored it; allowed her her little secret. But maybe the alcohol had gone straight to his brain - or maybe she had. "What was that?" he asked her.
She just raised one eyebrow.
"Oh come on," he protested. "You wanted me to read that, love." He leaned towards her. "What were you thinking?"
She shrugged again. "I was just thinking… This wouldn't be the worst night to get stuck in."
He could tell she was watching his reaction very closely. So he kept his face blank except for waggling his eyebrows as he teased, "Oh yeah. To get stuck in to what?"
She rolled her eyes and glanced away. "You know what I mean."
"You wouldn't mind being stuck here all night."
She brought her eyes back to his. "I wouldn't mind being stuck in an evening like this one. If I had to be… Presents, champagne - "
"Candy canes." He really could not shake that image.
"I do have some more in my office."
Cal laughed. "Of course you do… So there's really no rush to open the other presents."
Gillian shook her head. "No… Except I really want to know what it is," she grinned.
Cal laughed again and dropped back. "Well I know you're not good at patience, so let's do it."
He gave them a count down from three, and they both ripped off the paper together.
His was a t-shirt that he unfolded and held up, laughing when he read the words that were emblazoned across the front: 'Let there be Lightman'.
"Maybe don't wear it in public," Gillian recommended and he could hear the smile in her words.
He looked at her, to find that she had yet to open the jewellery box that had been inside her paper. "Come on, love. I thought you were intrigued."
She glared at him with absolutely no force at all, and popped open the box. Her eyes widened as soon as she saw what lay inside.
"Cal…" she breathed.
"Maybe I lied about it being silly," he admitted, reaching across and lifting the bracelet out of the box when she seemed afraid to touch it.
"Maybe," she echoed. "Cal you shouldn't have - "
He stopped her. "You're worth it… I wanted to." He held the silver chain across the fingers of his right hand and indicated each of its four charms as he explained, "I think the basketball and the calculator are self-explanatory…"
"A watch," he continued, "So that it's functional."
"You're so resourceful."
"And a spoon. Because they don't make chocolate pudding charms."
Gillian laughed and took the bracelet from him. "Cal, you really… shouldn't have."
He leaned into her, bumping her shoulder with his. "I really wanted to."
She swallowed, hard, and turned so she was facing him. "Why?" she whispered, her eyes full of determination.
Cal shivered; his heart started pounding; he was sure his hands were shaking. "You know why, darling."
She nodded. "And I know why you won't say why."
He nodded too, acknowledging their unspoken agreement to not see what had been right in front of them for years.
"But it's Christmas, Cal," she said, so softly.
He had no idea where he found the strength to not touch her every day, so he had absolutely no idea where he found the strength to hold back now. "Doesn't change anything, love."
"No," she agreed, "But we can."
And she closed the distance between them and pressed her lips to his. Just briefly. But enough for him to feel his strength failing him.
She kissed him again, running her tongue against his lips this time and he couldn't resist. He moved his mouth beneath hers, opening to her, tasting the champagne and the candy cane, that sensation flooding his system with his arousal from earlier.
He wrapped his right arm around her waist and pulled her towards him, wrapping paper getting crushed between their legs as they fought to release too many years of repressed feelings.
They cycled through the passion and exploration to gentle, tender touches as oxygen became more and more of a necessity, before finally resting their foreheads together, grinning uncontrollably as they breathed deeply.
After a length of time - and he had no idea how long it was - Cal remarked, breathlessly, "So that was a fruit candy cane you were eating?"
Gillian's head nodded against his. "Mm hmm."
She breathed a laugh. "I have some more in my office."
"Or I could just get some more here," he said, bringing his lips to hers as she giggled. He kissed her thoroughly, trailing his tongue across her lips, then he broke away for just a second to tell her, "Mmm… Candy canes and champagne, my new favourite flavour."
Prompts used: Cal and Gillian exchanging presents (Lightwoman); candy canes, wrapping (gidget89)