Characters: Emily Lightman, Cal Lightman
Spoilers: Brief ones for A Perfect Score
Word count: 1474
Summary: Emily is doing homework and Cal is...really not that much help.
Author's notes: First fic in this fandom! I thought I'd ease my way in with a little parent/child interaction, since we know how much I love family stories. Many thanks to joyfulfeather and amalie_marjorie for their input and read-overs!
Emily Lightman tapped her foot in time to the music blaring from her MP3 player alarm clock as her fingers clacked on the keyboard of her computer. She bit her bottom lip while she worked; a trait her father insisted she got from her mother, while her mother insisted was from her father.
“Emily!” Cal bellowed, from somewhere downstairs. “I’m home.”
“I’m up here!” Emily bellowed back.
A few moments later, the music abruptly stopped.
“I need that to work,” she complained, not bothering to move her eyes from the screen.
“I need my hearing to live,” Cal said. “And, as much as I enjoy the dulcet sounds of Tuna Cult, I think I’d rather have my eardrums intact than listen to the wailing vibrato of Dalton Hanks.”
“Tuner Cult,” Emily corrected.
“That’s what I said, Tuna Cult,” Cal said. He came over and flipped through the French textbook on her desk.
“Tuner Cult,” she corrected again. “How do you know the name of the lead singer, anyway?”
“I am black hole of pop culture phenomena,” Cal said. “I also watch TV. By the way, he’s lying when he says he doesn’t have a girlfriend. He may even be married.”
“There goes my plans to run off and have his love child,” Emily said, dryly.
Cal turned his attention to the computer screen, resting his chin on her head to peer at it with her. He made a disgusted noise in his throat at the sight of her search page. “Please tell me you are not Googling ‘lie detection’...”
“It’s for my project!” Emily said, defensively. She clicked onto a Wikipedia page. “I have to do a speech thing about my parents for French class. Mom was easy to do, but you’re harder.”
“And it didn’t occur to you to look through the epic amount of books on the subject that are currently collecting dust in my study?” Cal asked. Emily’s mouse hovered over the link for ‘Dr. Greg Jackson’ in the Wiki entry. “Don’t click on him, he’s a crackpot.”
Emily immediately clicked. “Your books are worse than textbooks,” she said. “I just need something simple to say what you do. Then I can translate it. What’s microexpression in French?”
“Hanged if I know,” Cal said. He sighed as she scrolled down the Wiki entry on Jackson.
“How come you can speak, like, forty-seven African languages and your French is crap?” Emily wondered. “Hey, look, he has a website.” She clicked on the link.
“Because French people are terrible liars and not interesting at all,” Cal said. He leaned over her shoulder to get a better look at the website. “Lord, look at him. Bloody megalomaniac, that one.”
“What are FACS?” Emily asked, reading over the splash page.
“Facial Action Coding System. Singular. What ‘is’ FACS?” Cal said. “It catalogues what facial muscles you use to make different expressions. For example, you’re currently using your corrugator supercilii and depressor supercilii muscles to look annoyed at my correcting your grammar.”
“You can’t even see me,” Emily said, though she quickly put a neutral expression on her face. She scrolled down the list of links on the page and clicked the ‘Games’ link. A microexpression game came up. “You should have a website, Dad.”
“I don’t need a website to tell the world how amazing I am,” Cal said, sniffing indignantly. “It’s evident.” The person on the microexpression game flashed an expression, briefly. “Fear.”
“Hey, I’m trying to play!” Emily complained. She clicked the ‘fear’ answer on the game. It was, of course, right, and she moved onto the next question. “It’s not so you can show off, Dad, it’s so people can find you and get your help and stuff.”
“Plenty of people find me already,” Cal said. The person in the picture flashed another expression. “Anger.”
“Dad!” Emily elbowed him in the stomach. “Shut up. How am I supposed to learn? You should be encouraging me in my educational pursuits.” She clicked onto the next question.
Cal was silent as she watched for the expression to change, then paused to make her choice.
“Want a hint?” he asked, after a moment.
“No!” Emily said. She clicked on ‘sadness’. It was wrong. “Damn it!”
“It was contempt,” Cal said. He drew with his finger on the picture. “One side of the mouth goes up. Lips go down when you’re sad.”
Emily turned her head to stick out her tongue at him and then returned to the game. The next picture came up and she watched for it to change.
“I want a hint,” she said, frowning. The pictures moved way too fast. How did her father do this for a living? No wonder he was always so grumpy.
“Uh, it rhymes with ‘disgust’,” Cal said.
Emily elbowed him again. “That’s a terrible hint.” She clicked on the ‘disgust’ button. “Ha! You’re wrong!”
“No I’m not, the game must be,” Cal said, completely unfazed. “Go back and play it again...no, that’s definitely disgust. Idiot can’t even program his own website right.”
“Maybe you’re projecting your feelings of disgust towards him onto the picture,” Emily suggested, thoughtfully. She looked out of the corner of her eyes to see what her dad’s reaction would be and she didn’t have to be a human lie detector to know he was annoyed at the thought.
“I never should have let you take Psychology this year,” he grumbled. “You’re as bad as Foster.”
“Does Dr. Foster think you’re repressing, too?” Emily asked, tilting her head to one side in her best imitation of a ‘talk to me’ pose.
Cal rolled his eyes. “What do I have to repress?” he said.
“I don’t know Dad, you’re repressing it!” Emily said. Cal made a ridiculous face and held her notebook up threateningly, as though he was going to slap her with it. “Don’t even think about it! I’m just trying to help.”
She turned back to the computer and pressed the back button a couple of times until she reached the original Wiki page and continued to scroll down it in search of useful information.
“Hey, you’re here!” she said.
“I often am,” he said. “I live here. This is what Psychology does, chuck, it rots your brain. If you grow up to be a shrink, I’ll never forgive myself.”
“No, here,” she said, pointing to the screen. “Dr. Cal Lightman. That’s you.”
He leaned over her shoulder again to look as she clicked his name. “That picture is rubbish.”
“We should put up that one of you getting stoned with that Moroccan guy,” Emily said, giggling.
“That was getting stoned for the sake of science and thus, perfectly acceptable,” Cal said, bopping her with the notebook.
“Whatever, Dad,” she said. She scanned down the page. “Top of his profession, blah blah blah, revolutionary research, blah blah blah, founder of The Lightman Group, blah blah blah...hey, there’s nothing about me, here.”
“Good,” Cal said. “It’s hard enough to keep track of you as it is without worrying that the entirety of cyberspace is stalking you.”
“Oh, c’mon Dad, like that would ever happen,” Emily said, rolling her eyes. “You’re paranoid.”
“’Hey,” he said, defensively. “You’re fifteen-years-old, by yourself half the time. I’m chasing maniacs all day, any one of which could have maniac friends who’d like to do something nasty to me. And believe me, taking you away from me is the worst thing anyone could do to me. Scares me to death.”
Emily wasn’t sure what to say. He didn’t often speak like that. She knew he loved her, of course, but they didn’t often say it in so many words. Her mother always blamed it on him being British, and ‘reserved’, but Emily was inclined to believe he knew just how much more it meant when you only heard ‘I love you’ every so often, instead of every five minutes. Like now. She swivelled her around chair, feeling awkward. Cal was skimming through her notebook, apparently unaware that he had said anything out of the ordinary. Or he was embarrassed and pretending.
“It says you like peach cobbler,” she said, reading over the Wiki page some more.
“That is vicious libel, clearly put there by a vengeful competitor,” Cal said.
Emily giggled and closed down the website, and her project. She needed a break.
“Hey, Dad, what am I thinking now?” she asked him. It was a game she liked to play with him, ever since she was little.
“You want to know if we can order Chinese, and the answer is yes,” he said, matter-of-factly. “I’ll do it now.”
She watched him go, shaking her head a little. “You really are good,” she muttered.
“I know,” he called back.
She grinned and hurried after him.