"Are you avoiding me?"
Cal swept into Gillian's office, asking his question as he moved, not giving her the opportunity to escape. He stood in front of her desk, looking down at her as she tilted her head to face him. She wore that 'you're talking nonsense' expression but he knew as well as she did that that meant she was hiding the truth.
"We just worked a case together," she replied to him.
Cal pounced on that, which she had to have known he would. "That's a deflection!"
She shook her head and he had to credit her with at least trying to put up a good defence. "Cal, I've been with you practically all day."
"Ah but never alone with me. You've had Reynolds with you all the time like some sort of bodyguard."
"That's his job."
"Not to protect you from me!" he argued.
Gillian's eyes flicked down and away.
"What was that?" He leaned closer to her, tilting his head, waving his hand in her direction.
"Cal," she warned, as she always did when he read her.
"Why do you think you need protecting from me?" he asked, concerned now that there was something serious behind this.
"I don't. I just…" she sighed and he could tell she had resigned herself to having to tell him what was going on. He sat down in front of her desk as she explained, "Alec's decided to be… awkward about the divorce."
"Awkward how?" he frowned, instantly angry at that idiot of a man.
"He's saying that my relationship with you was a major factor in the break down of our marriage." She delivered the information as if it was matter of fact, but her voice held hints of something he couldn't yet define.
"He just can't stop lying can he?" he muttered, rhetorically.
He noticed a flicker of guilt in Gillian's eyes and realised that is what he had heard behind her words.
"You don't believe him?" he asked, incredulousy, leaning forward in his chair.
"No, of course not. I know he's just trying to deflect the blame… But it turns out he has had me followed. Since we separated."
Cal felt his infuriation towards Alec rising, and his jaw clenched as he said, "Followed?"
"He has photographs of me. Everywhere I've been, everything I've done." She added, pointedly, "Everyone I've been with."
Cal realised where this was going. "And you and I have spent a lot of time together since you and Alec separated."
Gillian nodded. "There are a lot of photographs of the two of us. Here, restaurants, your house, my apartment, alone, with Emily…"
"But they're since your separation. Surely he doesn't expect they'll hold up as evidence that you had an affair."
"He's not claiming I had an affair, as such. His claim is that I was too close to you. The pictures – particularly those of us at my hotel merely days after I moved out – "
Cal's eyes widened as he considered what those would look like.
"… are his proof of that. They back up his allegation that I turned to you rather than him whenever I needed someone, and he says he couldn't compete with that."
"And that drove him back to drugs?"
"Which drove us apart even further."
"God, I really don't like him," he groused, rolling his eyes. "If I were female this wouldn't be an issue."
Cal looked back to Gillian and noticed the guilt again. "Hey, you can't listen to him."
"I'm not, I – "
"You are. You've been avoiding being alone with me, so you are. We are not too close."
"But it's not the first time he's mentioned it. Just before I moved out he said I spent far too much time with you… And he's not the first one to notice it, is he? Zoë doesn't like me, and it doesn't take a microexpression expert to see why that is."
"Zoë doesn't think we're anything more than friends though. She just doesn't like that."
Gillian just looked at him for a moment, disbelief written all over her face, then she said, "Right… And Torres said you play God and I make excuses for you – "
He opened his mouth to argue but she spoke over him.
"Which is true! I always back you up. I go along with decisions you make even if I know deep down that I shouldn't. I should have told Torres about Dupree, but I let you convince me that it was best not to."
"You don't always go along with – "
"No, but if I'm going to dispute it I do so when we're alone. Mostly," she added, a small smirk surfacing. Clearly she could bring to mind the same few times he could, when she had challenged him on a corridor, or in front of other people.
"You respect me. Nothing wrong with that."
"It's more than respect, Cal."
"Even Emily noticed."
That threw him a little. "Emily?" he asked. "What did she say? I told her not to - "
Her brow furrowed deeply. "What do you mean you told her not to?"
He hesitated unsure whether telling her the truth would make things worse.
"Cal," she warned again.
"Lately she's been trying to wind me up about the amount of time we spend together – "
"She's just a teenager who likes to wind up her dad. I told her not to mention it to you."
"Well she didn't."
"But you said – "
"It was the day of the suicide bombings. She was talking to me about you and Zoë – "
"What did she say?" Cal asked quickly, worried about what Emily was feeling about his relationship with her mother, and wondering why she had never spoken to him.
"She thought you were both making a mistake. I tried to reassure her that you knew what you were doing but she didn't buy it…"
"You should have told me."
"I thought you'd prefer that Emily know she can confide in me and not everything will get back to you. If it was something serious, you know I'd tell you."
"Yeah, you're right… You're right," he said, settling down a little. "I'd rather she talk to you than some random friend who won't tell me anything… But what does that have to do with you and me?"
"Well…" He watched her hesitate for a moment and then she admitted, "She said you're much happier when you're with me."
"She said that?"
Gillian nodded. "And she wasn't trying to wind me up, Cal. She was worried about you… She meant it."
"That doesn't mean we're too close though. It just means we get along better than Zoë and I do. And we knew that," he grinned, cheekily, to try to alleviate her guilt.
"I know. But my point is that if other people think we're very close, then it is possible that Alec felt threatened by you."
He made sure her eyes were fixed on his before he responded. "Gill, Alec felt threatened because he knew I could tell every single time he lied to you in front of me. And whereas he knew you would pretend to ignore it, he knew full well that I wouldn't… You didn't do anything wrong. You fought for your marriage while Alec fed you lie after lie. He doesn't deserve your sympathy, love. Especially now he's decided to do this."
She nodded. "I know."
"Having you followed that is just…"
"I can't believe he did that."
"Neither can I."
There was sadness in her tone and expression now. Not surprising given the way her marriage had ended; the person her husband had turned out to be. "So what are you going to do, love?" he asked her gently.
"I'm going to give him whatever he wants and get this divorce as soon as possible," she replied, quietly. "I just want it to be over. He's like a different person."
He nodded understandingly. "And the private investigator?"
A small, almost inaudible sigh preceded her answer. "He says he's called him off."
"So he probably hasn't."
Gillian just nodded once more and a brief silence enveloped them.
She had leaned back in her chair when she spoke again. "I can't decide which would make me look more guilty: Continuing to be seen with you, or suddenly not being seen with you now that Alec's made his accusation."
"Either way Alec will manage to use it to his advantage, love. You just tell the truth."
She nodded again.
"And do whatever you want to do," he advised. "If you want to have dinner with me, do that. If you don't, don't. But let it be because you don't want to spend time with me, not because you think Alec – or anybody else! – would disapprove."
"Hey! I didn't claim that everyone disapproves… Emily seemed to think it was good that we're so close."
"Only Emily though."
Gillian smiled. "I think it's good too."
Cal grinned. "Well so do I but I didn't want to influence you."
She laughed at this, the action brightening her eyes. "I'm sorry for avoiding you today."
"I will accept your apology… if you have dinner with me."
"How is that not influencing me?"
Cal just shrugged; a playful smirk on his face. Then he swept from his chair and headed for the door. "Just let me know when you've decided what you want," he called over his shoulder.
"Cal," she stopped him just before he reached the door.
He turned to look back.
"I want us to carry on as we are…"
Cal nodded, taking that to be an acceptance of his dinner offer, and a decision that all contact wouldn't have to cease because of Alec's accusation.
But when she added, "… For now," he realised they were talking about so much more than that.
Remembering what she had told him about Emily's observations on his happiness, Cal smiled. That was true. And all Emily's recent remarks about the way Cal looked at Gillian, and the way Cal felt about Gillian, were also true. These two words now told him that Emily's observations about how Gillian felt about him were also true.
Snapping out of his thoughts and back to the moment, Cal realised his smile was reflected on Gillian's lips.
He held her gaze across her office, realising now that Gillian avoiding him today had been because she had realised how she felt – and that she was perfectly free to feel it.
Maybe they had been this close while Gillian and Alec were married, but they'd certainly never acknowledged it – even to themselves. So there was no way Gillian was responsible for the break up of her marriage. Alec could say what he liked, and believe what he liked – he had no control over Gillian anymore. She was doing what she wanted.
And that was all right with Cal.
Noticing that Gillian was staring at him, no doubt wondering what was going on in his head, he broke the silence, commenting, with a widening smile, "Whatever you want."