When he saw her leaning on the railing, looking out into the night sky, Cal was relieved. Despite the anger Gillian had been radiating all day, and despite the fact that she had been pushing him away, she had gone to the first place she knew he would look. It was a good sign that she wanted to be found.
He stopped beside her, glancing at the city lights before turning his head to look at her.
“Don't do that,” she said suddenly, the same warning tone to her voice that he had heard all day. “Don’t read me.”
“Then don’t lie to me. You’re not okay.”
Shame flashed across her face as she closed her eyes and looked away.
“What’s going on love?” he asked her, growing increasingly concerned about her with every second that she continued to avoid talking to him.
“It's – ”
He knew the end of that utterance was ‘nothing’ and was relieved that she stopped herself from voicing the lie.
She swallowed hard, her chin trembling, and eyes widening as if she was trying to fight back tears.
He waited patiently: not wanting to put pressure on her by repeatedly asking, but also not willing to leave her to deal with it alone.
He watched her look out over the city; saw the pain tightening her features. He did feel guilty that he was doing exactly what she had asked him not to, but he couldn't help it. Her microexpressions were calling out to him; she needed him, even if she wasn't ready to admit it.
Minutes passed, sadness, loneliness and disappointment all taking their turns on her face as she gazed absently ahead.
When she eventually spoke, it startled him; her quiet voice so loud in the silence they had been enclosed in.
“Alec's girlfriend is pregnant.”
He knew his face showed surprise; his eyes widened at the unexpected news. He wasn't sure what surprised him more: the news itself or the fact that Gillian knew about it. He quickly realised it was the latter: He hadn't been aware that she was still in contact with her ex husband. Regardless of the root of his surprise though, he understood instantly why Gillian was upset.
He took a supportive step closer to her and gently laid his hand on her shoulder.
“I'm not jealous,” she continued, turning her head slightly towards his hand, “Well, not of her. I'm more angry,” she clarified, the hitch in her voice as she said it indicating that, whatever else she was feeling, sadness was overwhelming. Tears crept over her lower eye lids as she continued. “We faced it together; the fact that we couldn't have children, the fact that I -- ... We decided to adopt. Both of us. Together. And now,” her voice broke again, “Now I'm all on my own and he'll have – ”
It was too hard to watch her try to deal with it and too heart wrenching with every quiver in her voice. Cal slipped his hand across her shoulders and pulled her to him, wrapping his other arm around her waist as she cried against him.
“I'm sorry,” she mumbled against his chest.
“Nothing to apologise for,” he assured her, running one hand soothingly up and down her back.”
He held her until her sobs subsided and then it was she who pulled away from him. She kept her face lowered as she wiped her eyes and he waited until she was ready to face him.
Her eyes stopped on his shirt as she started to raise her head. She reached out a hand. “Your shirt's wet now,” she remarked, softly touching where the moisture was.
He shrugged. “It'll dry.”
With a tired smile she met his eyes. “I'm sorry I've been in a foul mood today.”
Cal shrugged again. “You in a foul mood is like me on a good day.”
Her laughter was a welcome sound; her genuine smile, a welcome sight.
“You should have told me sooner,” he reprimanded her gently when silence descended again.
She shook her head. “I'm mad at myself for even having these thoughts. I didn't want to share them.”
“But don't you feel better now that you have?” he teased with a small smirk.
She laughed again, just one burst of sound, and smiled at him. “Thank you.”
He just shrugged it off again. “Want to get dinner?”
She looked at him incredulously. “I'm a mess.”
“We'll go somewhere they know us, they won't notice any difference,” he quipped.
She slapped him playfully on the chest. “For that, I should make you cook for me.”
“If by cook you mean pick up some take away on the way to my house, then no problem.”
She regarded him for a moment as if deciding if he was serious or not, then he saw gratitude sweep her features. “I would rather not be seen in public.”
“You really don’t look that bad,” he smiled, mischievously.
She glared at him, with a small smile, and then added, shyly, “And I don’t feel like going home.”
“You’re welcome at my house any time. You know that.”
She smiled gratefully and nodded. “I do.”
While he was relieved that he had managed to divert her from the topic that had been torturing her all day, he needed to know that she was okay. He needed to make sure that they would deal with it, not just push it to one side. He took a step closer and wiped at a tear track on her face with his thumb. “And you’re welcome to cry on my shirt any time,” he said, bringing his hand to rest on her shoulder.
“You’re lucky I wear waterproof mascara,” she told him.
He laughed and then captured her gaze with his. “Seriously, Gillian, don’t shut me out… You don’t have to be all on your own.”
As she stared at him in that moment, he knew she could see exactly how he felt about her. Every emotion he usually kept hidden he laid open for her to read, to interpret. She had to know that she wasn’t alone; that she hadn’t lost everything. Unspoken rules and lines didn’t matter in that moment. All that mattered was letting her know that he would always be there for her.
“I know,” she voiced, seemingly a response to his spoken statement, but in her face he could see that she had fully understood what he had conveyed.
Her eyes held his a moment longer and then she looked away.
Willing to let her decide what to do with the information she had just acquired, Cal let the silence last a few seconds and then asked, “Dinner?”
She turned to face him and appreciation flashed in her eyes as she nodded. “I am getting quite hungry.”
They started to head for the stairs as he asked, “What do you fancy?”
“Erm, maybe Indian?” she replied, walking beside him.
“From your favourite little place?”
A wide smile lit up her face, shot in his direction as he gestured for her to precede him down the steps. But she stopped in front of him, looking thoughtful for a moment before she said, “I’m glad you found me.”
He sniggered. “You weren’t very well hidden.”
“I’m not good at hiding things from you,” she said softly.
“Yeah, you might as well stop trying,” he smirked.
“Are we ready for that?” she asked him solemnly.
He was surprised that she asked that; he had thought she wanted to avoid the topic. “I don’t know,” he admitted. “Are you?”
She held his gaze, her face unreadable, then she smiled mysteriously. “I’m ready for some food.”
“You’re the one who stopped,” he remarked.
“Maybe we should get dinner and then… see what happens?” she said, shyly, the expression in her eyes as vulnerable as it had been when she was upset.
Cal lifted his hand and gently touched her forearm. “Whatever you want, love.”
She relaxed and nodded, and headed down the stairs.
He watched her for a second and then smiled to himself as he followed her.