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Opus 36

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The night after the story breaks they cook a big dinner. Helen decided on it that morning, saying that they should find some sort of personal way to celebrate the praise that is already pouring in.

A home-cooked dinner for the whole team seemed like the best idea. They all came—Helen, Della, Peter, Dan, and even Cameron, who brought along many bottles of Veuve Clicquot (the bottles of Moet stored away in his cellar, he explained, were for when they celebrate all the awards that the story was sure to bring in).

Cal’s place was quickly selected for the dinner. It was the most centrally located, had the best stove, and Pete claimed that there’s a rule on the books that the person who broke the story has to do the clean-up.

Della didn’t miss how Cal flinched when he heard that.

It was a good dinner though. The food was wonderful, there was a lot of laughter, and the only time MPs were mentioned it was part of a story that Dan told about a youthful indiscretion that took place at the bar in Parliament that’s frequented by interns.

At one in the morning, after they finished off Della’s chocolate cake and the rest of the champagne, everyone started to pour out the door. Della listened to Cal say his goodbyes while she started in on washing the dishes. When he came back to the kitchen, he grabbed a towel and helped her with the drying. They didn’t talk much; instead they both hummed along to the music still playing in the background. The only light that was left on was in the hallway and there were some candles weakly burning on the table.

When they finished, they collapsed on his couch. Well, Della collapsed, Cal just crumpled. It was no surprise; Della knew how hard he had been trying to hold on all day. Della scooted over closer to him and Cal heavily rested his head on her shoulder.

It was not common knowledge, but this was normal behavior for the two of them, or at least it used to be. Back when Della first started at the paper, she lived ten minutes from Cal’s and had a horrible flatmate. The combination meant that she spent a lot of time at his place (he had made the mistake of telling her that she could call him whenever she needed anything). They ended up spending a lot of time together on this couch, watching television and talking. That’s how they came to know each other so well, too well sometimes. And even though they didn’t spend as much time together as before, they still knew how the other felt without always needing words. It was good on nights like this, when Della was exhausted physically and Cal was exhausted emotionally.

“Long day,” Della said.

Cal nodded. “Do you want to stay here?”

“Only if I can sleep on this couch,” she responded. “I don’t think I can move again.”

Cal laughed softly, “I think I can agree to those terms.” He grabbed the blanket off the back of the couch and draped it over the two of them while Della pulled her feet up under her to get more comfortable.

They were both curled up on the couch and halfway to sleep when Della’s hand found his. “You did well, Cal,” she whispered. “You may not feel like it, but you did.”

“I know,” he answered, although it didn’t sound like he quite believed it yet. “Couldn’t have done it without you.”

“Of course not, I’m essential” she smiled. “Now get some sleep.” She felt him nod against her shoulder and he squeezed her hand tightly.

Together, they slept off the day.