Platypus Forty-One: A Night in with Catherine Willows
"Not really," Gil said to Catherine before sitting down behind his desk.
"People versus John Mathers," she said, hoping to jog his memory. "Serial. Western LVU. I was a rookie..."
And then, it dawned on him. "Three dead coeds?"
"All sexually assaulted," Catherine added. "But, no semen was found---suspected he wore a condom."
"Dumped in garbage bags," he said as he remembered the details more clearly.
"Case with the strongest evidence was victim number three, Charlene Roth. Mathers, a campus security guard got Murder One for that."
"When are you going to get the test back?" he asked her.
"I put a rush on it," she told him.
He looked her over and wondered how she was feeling. She looked as though she was on edge; tension seemed to be settling in her shoulders, from what he could see.
"Is this your first one?"
"First to exhaust all of his appeals and get an execution date," she admitted, before sitting down in front of his desk. She paused and then asked, "How many have you had?"
"Two," he said simply, before going back to the paperwork he was examining earlier. He flipped a page, and then looked at her again. "So, how do you feel about it?"
She replied in an even voice. "Mathers was convicted and sent to death row by a jury of his peers. I played a small part. I presented my findings..."
He tilted his head slightly and accused her by saying, "Non-responsive."
Her blue eyes softened a little bit. He thought he saw a faint blush develop on her cheeks; however, he tried not to think about that because then he knew that he would find himself getting very distracted.
"Okay," she said softly. "I haven't figured out how I feel yet."
"It's just about evidence. It's not up to you whether he lives or dies," he said, trying to assure her. He flipped the case file closed and looked at her. "Case has no face."
She sighed and closed her eyes. "I know that... I just..."
"C'm'ere," he said, pushing his chair away from the desk after putting the file away.
Catherine popped her eyes open. "What?"
"Close the door, and come here," he instructed, his voice soft but firm.
Catherine faltered for a minute, but obeyed his request. After she closed the door, she walked over to Gil. He smiled and took her hands, pulling her down into his lap.
After his arms were around her, she said, "I'm not going to break down."
"Nah, but you looked like you could use a hug," he murmured into her hair.
Catherine smiled and sighed. "Okay. This is nice..."
"Yeah," he agreed. "You just have to remember that you process the evidence. That's what you do. You don't decide if he lives or dies."
She sighed again and curled her fingers into his shirt as she snuggled into him. "I know," she murmured.
Gil kissed the top of her head. "Love you," he whispered.
"I love you, too," she whispered back.
Both adults groaned when his phone rang. He fumbled with the device and put it to his ear. "Grissom."
It was Brass. "Hi, Grissom. We've got a welfare check gone bad. Possibly a missing girl."
"Do you suspect foul play?" he asked as he felt Catherine's fingers traveling up to his neck.
"I don't know yet. There's a big mess here... you might want to bring a couple members of your crew out, too."
Gil sighed. "Okay."
A few minutes later, he hung up and dropped the phone onto the desktop. Catherine looked up at him. "Want me to come?"
"You should stay here and review the evidence from the serials," he said softly. "I'll take Nick and Sara."
"Because I said so?"
She pouted and then kissed his lips. "You're no fun."
"You'll like having Warrick around to keep you calm," he explained, and then smiled as she blushed. "Because I can't comfort you the way we both want, and Sara doesn't help you relax... and Nick doesn't have a clue," he finished with a smile.
Catherine smiled back at him and rewarded him with another kiss. "Good thinking. I knew there was a reason I kept you around."
Gil laughed softly and kissed her again. Catherine groaned as she pulled away and got out of his lap. "I know you're right, but I hate it," he grumbled.
"I'll make it up to you later," she promised.
Gil stood up and grabbed his coat and kit. He turned around and kissed Catherine once more before walking to the door. "Behave tonight."
She smiled. "I always behave," she purred, straightening out his lapels before patting his stomach and letting him leave.
Gil walked out of the office and exhaled once he was in the hallway. He blushed a bit and smiled, before heading to the break room to get Nick and Sara.
In the evidence room, Catherine studied the spread of photographs. She studied several shots before Warrick walked into the room.
"I heard Mathers had that I.V. In his arm and everything, when that call came in. Never had a death penalty case get that far," he said, sounding slightly amazed but not nearly as rattled as Catherine felt. He studied her and asked, "Just working it all out?"
"Yeah," she replied, sounding distracted. "Old case, new eyes, new technology."
"This evidence was processed, what, fifteen years ago?"
She answered, "That was before DNA. Now that the case has been reopened I can reevaluate all three murders. We always thought Mathers was good for the other two, but if they overturn Charlene Roth with the new DNA, we can go back and try Mathers with the other two murders with the new evidence."
"Keep Mathers in prison."
They talked for a few minutes about death row and then moved onto the case and the evidence again. Catherine liked working with Warrick; not only did she trust him, but he was logical and grounded. They worked off of each other's ideas, which made it easy to piece cases together.
"The trash bag, yeah," Warrick said, shaking her from her thoughts. "I was looking at that. Processed with super glue, rhodamine, laser. No prints found though."
He turned his attention back to the photographs as an idea struck Catherine. "Who's working the print lab tonight?"
"Franco. Just off of days."
Catherine grabbed the evidence bag and rushed out of the room. Jacqui was one of the best Catherine had ever worked with. Plus, she considered the brunette one of her closer colleagues.
After a flirtatious conversation with Greg Sanders, she walked into the print lab. Jacqui lifted her head and looked up at her.
Catherine smiled. "Jacqui, I'm so glad you're back on nights," she said. "Got a good one for you."
Once the sealed paper bag was put on the table, the other woman read the label. "Trash bag?" she asked. "Yeah... love it."
With a shake of her head, she dropped her head and examined another print in front of her.
"Give it some vacuum metal deposition," Catherine suggested, trying to make it not sound like an order.
Jacqui replied, "Hottest thing going for plastic. If there's anything to be found, my machine'll find it."
"And," Catherine added. "Um, super-rush. You're in a race with the federal lab."
Jacqui's face lit up. "Make my night! Love to compete with the Feds. You and me need to catch up. How's Lindsey?"
Catherine smiled. "Second grade, tons of homework."
"Lucky for her she got your smarts, not Eddie's."
Catherine bit back a laugh before saying, "Now I know why I missed you so much. So, page me as soon as you're done?"
"Mmhmmm," the technician replied. "Putting you up first. You owe me a beer."
"Yep," Catherine promised before heading out of the room.
She headed back to the evidence room, where Warrick was still going over photographs. "Hey," he said with an easy smile. "Where'd you go?"
"To see if Jacqui can pull a print off of the bag," she replied, as she picked up a few case notes and started going over them. "So... what's new with you?"
Warrick smiled and shrugged. "Nothing really. You?"
"Nothing really," she replied, flashing him a cryptic smile.
He chuckled. "Yeah, right."
"You and Gris. Back together?" Catherine blushed and looked away. Warrick laughed. "Woohoo. Busted, Cath."
Chuckling, she shook her head. "I don't know what you're---" she crumbled under his gaze. "Yes, okay? We're back together."
He grinned. "Good. I'm glad."
"Me, too," Catherine admitted with a little nod. "I missed having him around."
"So, things are good?"
"We're working everything out," she replied.
He raised an eyebrow. "What does that mean?"
She shrugged. "Just what it means."
She looked up and him and shrugged again. "Sometimes he's a little distant... but... as pathetic as it sounds, he's back and he doesn't hate me, so I'm going to suck it up."
Warrick touched her shoulder. "It's not pathetic," he assured her. "Hey... how about we go get some coffee to celebrate?"
"Well, one of us has to stay here," she reminded him with a playful nudge. "We're on call, not vacation, remember?"
He smiled. "Yeah, sure, boss."
She smiled back at him. "I'll go pick something up, though."
After telling her what he wanted, she took her lab coat off and headed to the door.
"It's not pathetic," he insisted. "It's reasonable and cool."
"Cool?" she asked, before a little laugh.
"Yeah. He's back, you're back... it's all good now."
She thought about it for a minute and then nodded. "Yeah, you're right. It is 'all good.'" She laughed a little and shrugged. "I'll be back in a few minutes."
He nodded and watched her leave. He studied the pictures for a few minutes, but then his eyes started to feel strained, so he went for a brief walk around the building, stopping to check in on Greg. They talked for a bit, until his phone started ringing.
"Gris'. What's up?" he asked, waving to Greg and heading out of the DNA Lab.
"Catherine just got a call... same MO as the Mathers case and the other two murders," Gil explained. "I'd like you to meet her at the Western LVU library and help her process."
Warrick shrugged and nodded, even though Gil couldn't see it. "Sure thing."
"It's just precautionary," he continued. "In case Mathers' case gets overturned and she gets swamped."
"I got it, Grissom. Don't worry. I'm on it," he promised, before hanging up the phone and heading to the locker room to get his coat.
"You CSI's are biased for the prosecution. You decide ahead of time how you want the evidence to come out."
Catherine blinked, startled by the lawyer's accusations. "Ms. Campbell, I am only an interpreter of the evidence. I know how to make the evidence speak to me. I don't care about the outcome," she insisted.
"How about guilt or innocence? John was 15 seconds from execution. Sure you're not biased?" The darker woman replied, her voice laced with anger and frustration. "I hear the same evidence speaking. You know what it's telling me? The killer's still out there."
Once the lawyer left, Catherine shook her head and headed down the hall again. She felt completely rattled, even though she knew she wouldn't be. She didn't know where she was going until she saw Gil's office at the end of the hall. She suppressed a soft, surprised laugh and walked into the safety of his room.
"Hi," she said softly, coming in closer.
Gil looked perplexed as he got up, studying her with careful blue eyes. He touched her arm before he passed her and closed the door behind her.
"What's going on?"
She sighed and shrugged. "Nothing..."
"Liar," he accused her, coming up from behind and wrapping his arms around her.
Catherine shivered and leaned back against him. "Bad run in with a lawyer."
"You're tense," he commented. "What happened?"
"She said I'm biased for the prosecution... that I decide how I want the evidence to work for the case."
Gil kissed her neck once and then whispered, "You know that's not true."
She furrowed her brows together as he turned her around. He cradled her close. "It's not true. Have you ever tried to influence the outcome?"
"No," she said softly.
"Let the lawyers think whatever they want," he advised.
"Even if it hurts a little?" she whispered.
After a long pause, he said, "They don't know what we do."
Catherine sighed and hugged him. She felt his lips on her temple; it felt so good and relaxing, so she let him continue to kiss her.
"What are you doing tonight?" he asked. "I can come over with take out for you and Lindsey."
"Lindsey has an early night... school tomorrow," she said softly. "Then, Jacqui and I are having a girls' night in. I owe her a beer."
Catherine's lips twitched into a smile. "You'll survive," she murmured.
"Like the insects," Gil said. "He blended in."
Brass sighed heavily before saying, "Yeah." Then, he leaned over and opened his desk drawer. He pulled out a bottle of liquor and looked over at the other man. "You off the clock?"
Gil shrugged. "I guess."
They shared one glass in silence. After seconds were poured, Brass commented, "He's going to kill again."
"Yeah," Gil agreed. "And all we've got is a partial fingerprint and an MO that may lead us in the right direction."
"You know sometimes in this job I'd rather be lucky than good. Maybe next time we'll get lucky."
Gil disagreed, and said so. "I don't believe in luck." Then, he added, "My only real purpose is to be smarter than the bad guys to find the evidence that they didn't know they left behind and make sense of it all. Makes me very uncomfortable to realize that this guy may be smarter than me."
Brass smiled wryly. "That's hard to imagine."
Gil looked at him with a similar, sardonic expression.
After getting in her car, Catherine picked up her cell phone and called Jacqui's office number since she knew the woman was still at the lab.
"Catherine, hey... what's up?"
"You ready to get out of there?" she asked. "I could use a drink."
Jacqui sighed. "Rough night?"
Catherine turned the key in the ignition and waited a moment before driving out of the parking lot, trying to ignore the protesters yelling at her as she pulled away. "You could say that."
"I'm just about finished. By the time you get here, I'll be ready to go."
Catherine closed her phone and dropped it down into the cup holder. Then, she reached for the stereo and turned the CD player on. With loud music blaring, she drove towards the lab.
Jacqui was waiting outside when she pulled up to the front doors. The shorter woman got into the car and smiled. "Hey."
"Well, I'm glad to see a familiar face," Catherine said with a relieved smile.
They talked about Jacqui's assignments as they drove back to Catherine's house. Once getting out and heading into the house, Lindsey and the baby-sitter greeted them with smiles.
The younger woman was paid and set home. Catherine crouched down in front of her daughter. "And how was your day?"
"Okay... I did my homework... science was tough."
"Well, how about Jacqui and I help you look it over?" Catherine asked.
"Nah... I called Uncle Gil."
Jacqui chuckled as she toed out of her shoes and hung her coat up on a hanger and put it into the front closet. "Probably got it done okay, then, Linds."
"He said he was right. Then... he took like forever to explain why he was right."
Catherine smiled. "He's smart."
"Is he coming over tonight?"
Fighting to keep her cheeks from blushing, Catherine shook her head. "No... I don't think so. Jacqui and I are going to hang out for a little while."
"And watch a movie?"
Catherine looked at Jacqui and the two women shared a smile. Then, the blonde looked back at her daughter and said, "Nah... we're just gonna talk. Old people fun."
She laughed and kissed her daughter's forehead. "Why don't you go get changed into your pj's, and then I'll tuck you in?"
"You'll have a shower before school tomorrow," Catherine added.
"So, don't forget to set your alarm for seven."
"I know, I know," Lindsey said as she walked back down the hall to her room.
Catherine stood up and brushed her hands off on her pants before saying, "So... beer?"
"Want anything to eat?" Catherine asked as they headed into the kitchen. "I think I might have a frozen pizza or something..."
"That also sounds great," Jacqui admitted. "Want help?"
Catherine laughed at Jacqui's comment about Greg's hair and then sipped her beer.
"I particularly loved the lines that he shaved into the sides of his head," the biometrics technician added.
The blonde laughed more and then stopped and jumped as she heard the front door being opened. Jacqui stopped laughing as well, and listened, looking between Catherine and the opening to the living room.
"Cath?" Gil asked in a hoarse whisper.
Catherine groaned and then gasped when she took in his appearance. "What happened to you?"
"Brass an' I went off the clock," Gil explained with a brief roll of his eyes, as if it all made perfect sense.
Catherine looked at Jacqui, who was biting her lip nervously, as if she was trying to prevent herself from dissolving into more giggles.
"So..." Jacqui said. "I guess you don't want a beer."
"Beer?" Gil asked, perking up.
He came into the living room and sat on the sofa next to Catherine. She looked at him as she sniffed the air. "You smell like a brewery. What did you two do? Swim in the stuff?"
"Nope. Just went to a bar off strip." He put a hand on her knee and batted his eyelashes. "Wanna get me a beer?"
"How come you get to crash my home and steal my beer?" she demanded, trying to seem annoyed with him, trying to hide their relationship from her friend.
"You let Jacqui steal your beer. Don't you like me anymore?" Gil asked with a pout forming in his lower lip.
If they didn't have an audience, Catherine knew she would have leaned over and kissed him. He was adorable in that moment.
"I gave Jacqui a beer. She's a friend."
"And what am I?" he demanded, looking offended.
Catherine rolled her eyes and patted his arm. "I'll go get you a beer... or would you rather scotch or---"
"Beer's fine, dear," he murmured, covering her hand with his.
She stifled a little laugh and tugged her hand out of his before he could bring it up to his lips for a kiss. "I don't know what's gotten into you, Grissom," she scolded.
"Yes, you do."
Catherine shared a laugh with Jacqui before coming back with a new bottle for everyone.
Gil put his arm around Catherine's shoulders; she shoved him hard with her elbow.
"You're driving me crazy!"
"Jacqui doesn't mind," Gil said, gesturing to the other woman. "Do you?"
She chuckled. "I just wish I had a camera. Something tells me that I won't be seeing you like this ever again."
"Like what?" Gil asked.
Catherine giggled softly. "Like, drunk, Grissom."
"Stop calling me that," he grumbled.
"Grissom, Grissom, Grissom," Catherine teased.
"I'm so getting you back."
Catherine made an amused face in Jacqui's direction, until Gil's hand started at her knee and traveled up slowly. She bit back a yelp and shoved him again. "Drink your beer!"
She looked at Jacqui, who raised an eyebrow. Catherine blushed and then groaned. She silently vowed to get Gil back once they were alone.
After another hour, Catherine was sure of two things: Jacqui knew they were more than just friends, and Gil was very drunk.
Catherine called Jacqui a cab, and then the two women went out into the foyer to wait. Gil stretched out on the sofa and closed his eyes.
"With any luck, I'll get some sleep," Catherine said on an annoyed sigh---for her friend's benefit.
"I think he likes you," Jacqui said, showing her cards to Catherine.
She shrugged. "Yeah, well... hey, I'm sorry he crashed our girls' night."
"He was good entertainment," the shorter woman said with a smile. "Don't worry about it. Maybe now, I'll have some leverage over him and get him to back off when he's trying to get his stuff in on the top of the pile."
Catherine glanced over her shoulder and saw him sleeping. "Well, that should teach him to come here and crash my parties."
The cab honked. The women hugged and Catherine's guest left. After she closed the door, she turned back and stomped into the living room. She picked up a throw pillow and hit Gil soundly in the stomach.
"How could you do that?!" she hissed.
"Hmm? Cath?" he asked sleepily. "C'm'ere..."
"No! No, I will not come here!" she replied, stomping her foot as she loomed over him. He opened his eyes and blearily looked at her. She raised an eyebrow. "You embarrassed me! We almost got caught because you couldn't keep your hands to yourself!"
"Jacqui's cool... she won't get us cheesed."
"Cheesed?! Gil! You can't be like this with me, in front of others! If we get caught---"
He sighed and reached for her hand. One sharp tug, and she was on top of him. "I was lonely," he whispered. "I didn't know how late she'd be here... I missed you so much."
Catherine growled. She wondered why he could affect her like that.
"I missed you," he repeated, nuzzling his lips against her hair.
She sighed. "We could have gotten caught."
"Jacqui just thinks I like you. I do like you. A lot. A lot, a lot, a lot."
She fought to hide her smile. "We can't get caught, Gil. Warrick won't tell on us because he's a good friend to both of us. But---"
"Jacqui's one of your best friends at the lab," he reminded her, hooking his leg over hers as he rolled them over onto their sides. "And she doesn't know we're together," he added, mumbling as he tucked his face into her neck. "You smell good..."
Catherine shivered and held onto him. "Gil... Lindsey's home."
"I'll be quiet if you'll be quiet."
She sighed and shivered again when his fingers traveled under her suit jacket.
"You wear too many clothes," he protested. "Layers and layers. I'm drunk... and you're making it difficult for me."
"I thought you were just off the clock," she teased.
He lifted his head and gave her a sideways smile. "I might be a little drunk," he whispered.
"Oh... a little?"
"Jussa little," he mumbled before kissing her.
Catherine groaned and pushed him away. "Are you listening to me? Do you realise that we have to be careful?"
"Yes," he whispered. He nibbled on her ear. "I just wanna make it up to you now."
She sighed softly and closed her eyes. "Gil... c'mon... let's sleep it off."
"Nah... let's be off the clock."
She laughed breathlessly as he kissed along her neck.
"Take the jacket off, would ya?"
"Is it in your way?"
She laughed softly as she untangled herself and sat up. He watched with dark eyes, eyes that traveled over her arms as she slipped the jacket off.
She looked down at him. "How's that?"
"Ah, ah, ah... not out here in the living room."
He pouted. "Caaaath."
She smiled. "But... if you promise to be quiet on the way to the bedroom, I'll let you make tonight up to me in bed."
Gil's expression brightened. "Okay." He sat up and shook his head a little and then said. "Hey... I forgot to ask... how'd the thing go?"
She sighed. "Hard. But, over." She stood up and offered him her hand. "C'mon. Let's go to bed."
Gil stood up and followed her to the bedroom. He only stumbled once; both adults considered that a good thing, a testament to his sobering up.
Inside the room, Catherine flicked the light on and closed the door. Gil smiled and put his hands on her waist. "We both have the day off tomorrow. You have too much overtime and I took a day."
"God, that sounds like I'm Sara..." she groaned, pulling her shirt over her head. She tossed it across the room. "What did it?"
"This case," he admitted. "So... let's enjoy the day---or night---okay?"
"I should be in the lab---"
"You're on call for analyst work. I'm off. Let's sleep in a little while... get up with Lindsey... enjoy having the house to ourselves... and then we can pick her up and take her somewhere."
Catherine unfastened her slacks and slipped out of them. "Boy, you really think you're in trouble."
Gil smiled. "I promised to make it up to you."
"Well, I'm going to take advantage," she purred.
Gil put his hands back on her waist. He watched her for a minute, and then asked, "Is that a yes?"
She nodded and smiled more. "Yes. A great big yes."
He smiled and leaned in and kissed her. Catherine sighed against his mouth and wrapped her arms around his neck, her nails scratching the skin she found. The kiss took them to the bed, and it barely broke so Catherine could help Gil undress.
His hands were gentle, but a little uncertain, she noticed. She brushed it off as alcohol-induced performance nerves.
They kissed until Catherine thought she was dizzy with need---or lack of oxygen. She whispered, "Gil... I need you."
He leaned in again and kissed her, not saying anything with his voice. But, Catherine could read his body loud and clear. She shifted underneath him and brushed herself against him.
Gil lifted his lips from hers and then slowly pushed himself inside of her. Catherine gasped quietly and dug her nails into his back. Once fully sheathed inside of her, he let out a soft groan and tucked his face into her neck.
They moved slowly at first, thrusting against each other, trying to draw the experience out as long as possible. But, as they felt the early morning light on their skin, their speed increased until they were frantically racing each other to the finish line.
When the stars had cleared from Catherine's eyes, she blinked up at Gil and then smiled. "You're forgiven."
Gil smiled and kissed her again, before moving so he could cradle her close. "Sleep sweet," he whispered.
Long after Catherine drifted to sleep, Gil was still awake. He couldn't stop thinking. His hearing had faded after Jacqui left, beyond the point where Catherine's whispers could reach him.
The only logical course of action had been to say something that he thought would fit, and then to distract her. Kisses, he learned, worked the best. If he couldn't hear, then she couldn't say anything, and he didn't have to worry.
He frowned and kissed the top of her head. He loved her so much; he needed her by his side, but he wasn't ready to tell her the truth. He could barely admit the truth to himself.
She stirred in her sleep and tightened her hold on him. He kissed her forehead and snuggled up, closing his eyes and willing himself to sleep for a little while before their day started.