"How are you?" Gil asked when Catherine rushed into his Tahoe, to avoid the rain.
She offered him a smile. "I'm fine," she told him quietly. When he raised an eyebrow, she chuckled tightly and swatted his shoulder. "Seriously. I'm fine."
Gil's hand snaked out and he cupped her cheek. She sighed when he leaned forward and studied her eyes. She hadn't taken any drugs that night and he knew that---she was so annoyed that he was so protective. He didn't care, though; he was going to continue to annoy her in order to make sure she was actually alright.
Satisfied that her pupils were normal, he released her, pulled back, and put the vehicle into reverse.
"Where are we going?"
"I thought we'd go have coffee somewhere, off-strip, and then we can go to work from there," he told her. "How does The Bean Bank sound?"
Catherine smiled again. "Sounds good to me."
He smiled back at her and then focused on the road. They were slowly putting their relationship together again; he knew they still had a long way to go before they were back on track, but every little bit reassured him that they would make it.
They were sleeping at their own homes, but they spent a couple hours together---separate from their jobs---but they abstained from sex of any kind. When they were on the clock, Gil tried to put them on different cases. He didn't want her to feel pressured or mother-henned; instead, he put Warrick on her cases, knowing that the younger man had her best interests at heart and would notify him if he saw anything out of the ordinary.
So far, it seemed to be working.
He still hadn't told her about Lady Heather. That, he knew, had to happen in the next few days. But, he had more to tell her---about how he felt about her. He learned over the past few weeks that explanations and apologies were just words, but he knew he had to do something to get Catherine's attention.
They sat together in a booth, side by side, bodies touching. They sipped their coffee. Catherine told him about Lindsey's latest science project, and he told her about his bugs; they joked quietly and enjoyed the silence when it happened upon them.
"I need to tell you something."
She nodded and turned her body a bit to look at him. "What's on your mind?"
He frowned but didn't break eye contact with her. "I... before... I mean, after you told me to get Sara out of my system---" he stopped when he saw Catherine's eyebrows furrow. "No, no, I didn't do anything with her. Sara is nothing but a colleague to me."
"Go on," she said quietly.
"I went to Lady Heather's."
"I didn't do it to hurt you, I didn't do it because I'm in love with her," Gil quickly explained. "Because I'm not in love with her. I respect her, I enjoy her company. But, she'll never be you."
Catherine frowned, but she nodded and after a sip of coffee, she motioned for him to continue.
"I felt completely out of control," he added. "I'm not blaming you, but you threw me for a loop when you told me to pursue Sara. I... I didn't know how to help you mourn, and... and... I needed to find some sort of control."
"So, she dominated you."
One of Catherine's eyebrows arched. "She let you dominate her?"
He blushed and nodded.
"Yeah," he mumbled.
She sipped her coffee again. Then, she asked: "How was it?"
"I... it was... alright."
"Don't downplay it for my sake."
He sighed. "I'm not. There was no emotional connection. It wasn't the same as what we have. God, Cath---"
"Hey, now, don't get your panties in a bunch," she interrupted. "You don't need to explain this to me."
He brushed his fingers over her cheek. "Yes, I do," he said softly.
Catherine blushed a little. "Thanks."
"Are you angry or hurt or---"
"I'm not happy," she admitted. "But... but I basically told you to sleep with Sara, and I think I was the most difficult I've ever been, so, I understand it."
Gil nodded. Catherine reached up and touched his chin, gently pressing her index finger into its small cleft. "I don't want to lose you," she murmured. "So... we'll have to deal with this."
"Yeah," she whispered, nodding. Gil blushed, looked away, and shook his head. Catherine smiled. "Confused you, there, didn't I?"
"I thought you'd... yell."
"We're not perfect," she told him. "We're human. We have needs and insecurities. We make mistakes." She shrugged. "Eddie's death... how Lindsey's coping with it... everything that's been happening lately's just shown me how important the good things are. You're one of the good things."
"You're one of the best things."
Catherine smiled slyly. "I know," she said softly, before chuckling. Gil smiled at her, unsure of what to say next. She shrugged and then leaned up to kiss him.
They hadn't kissed---mouth to mouth---since before Eddie's death. Gil stiffened for a second and then he relaxed into her. She smiled against his lips and set her coffee mug down so she could wrap her arm around his neck.
It was so confusing. He had just finished telling her that he slept with Lady Heather. She forgave him, and then she kissed him for the first time in weeks. His head was spinning. But, it all felt so good.
The sound of Catherine's pager ended the moment. Gil's pager joined in, moments later.
"Some day, I'm going to throw our beepers into Lake Mead," Catherine muttered.
"Sounds like a good plan," Gil agreed.
She sighed and checked the screen. "Car accident. Lovely."
"We're all getting paged," Gil commented. "Wonder why."
Gil took his wallet out and put a couple of bills down on the table to cover their drinks.
She smiled at him. "Yes?"
"Are you sure you're alright with---"
"I'm not alright with it," she corrected him. "But, I accept it. And, I'm ready to move on."
Gil nodded. "Okay..."
"Are you ready to move on?"
He nodded again. "With you."
Catherine smiled at him. "Good. Let's go to work."
They left the restaurant together and drove to the crime scene. After meeting Sara there, and doing a preliminary look at the pandemonium, Gil received a phone call about another case.
He decided to take it. He'd discovered that the time apart allowed them to salvage their relationship; not pairing himself with Sara also helped with that. He missed working with Catherine, but he wanted to give her some space as well.
Working apart from Catherine also gave his hearing problem some protection. She couldn't tell he had a problem, if she wasn't there to observe it. But, that was secondary to everything else.
He checked his watch and sighed. Catherine was supposed to call him at the end of her case, but he knew that everything had been wrapped up---a quick call to the police department cleared that for him---and two hours had passed since then.
After picking up his phone, he sighed and put it down. He didn't want her to get annoyed, because he was worried and checking up on her.
Fifteen more minutes passed. He gave in and picked the phone up.
"Catherine," Gil replied, a smile tugging at his lips. "Are you drunk?"
"Hardly!" she exclaimed. "Jus' having a girl's day out."
"Oh, are you?" he inquired. "Just you and Sara?"
"Uh huh. At um... Sara? What's this place called?" Gil couldn't hear what Sara said in the background. Catherine spoke again. "Oh, right. 'Hide 'n' Seek.' That's here. That's where we are."
"Did you drive there?"
Catherine paused. "Y...yeah. I did. Wow. That's going to be a little problem."
"Call me when you're ready to go," he offered. "I'll pick you up."
"Really? You'd do that?"
He fought to restrain a laugh. "Yes, my dear, I would. If you'd like me to."
"So polite. What a shock," he teased.
"Oh, shuddup, you... you... you... ugh."
Gil's chuckle escaped. She growled through the phone at him. "Sorry, Catherine, I can't help it. I forgot how adorable you are when you're drunk."
"Gil Grissom! I am not!"
"If you say so."
He laughed when he heard the click. Catherine had hung up on him.
Catherine glared at her phone, closed and sitting in the palm of her hand. "Oooooh. Just wait until I get my hands on you, Bugman," she threatened the inanimate object.
Sara laughed and then sipped her beer. "Are you two fighting or something?"
"He knows me too well," Catherine said, sober enough to know she had to be careful when talking to Sara about their supervisor. "But, he offered to drive us home."
"Oh... that's nice of him."
"I'll come back later and pick up the Tahoe," Catherine decided. She flipped her hair, drank her cocktail, and then asked, "So, how are you doing?"
"They do," Catherine agreed. "They hurt you... and then they go away."
Sara frowned. "Cath... I wanted to tell you... I'm so sorry."
"For... for... the whole case," she said, fighting a drunken slur. "I mean, I wanted to solve it. I really, really wanted to solve it."
Catherine put her hand on Sara's arm and rubbed gently. "It's alright. You put them both away for a little while. Lindsey and I have made peace with that. You should, too."
"I just... I feel bad."
"Don't feel badly about that," Catherine advised. "Feel badly about Hank and his dirty, cheating, lying ways."
"I feel bad about that, too," Sara admitted.
"Look, I know Gil gave you the case because---"
Sara sighed. "He didn't. He wasn't even there. I was off. But he was wrapped up in the other case and good grief, Lady Heather and all of that freak show, so I got called in."
Catherine blinked. "I thought he put you on it."
"Nah... he probably would have taken it himself if he had heard before I did. But dispatch had me on call."
She nodded and then touched Sara's arm again. "Don't worry about it anymore. Let's move on."
Sara nodded and drank from her bottle again. "Really?"
Catherine nodded. "Really, really, really!"
The brunette gave a little smile. "Okay. If you're sure."
"I'm ready to move on and past that."
"Are you still sad?" Sara asked bluntly. "I mean... you don't have to answer, but, talking about Hank makes me feel sick so---"
Catherine smiled a little. "I'm more sad for Lindsey now. My history with Eddie... was colourful. I'm letting it go."
"Let's just leave it at that, for now, okay?"
Sara nodded. "Gotcha."
Catherine signaled to the waitress that they'd like another round of drinks, and then she turned back to Sara. "So, you think Lady Heather's a freak?"
"Well, I wasn't on that other case... but Nick told me 'bout it. And Lady H."
"And what do you think?"
"I can't believe Grissom would find that stuff... interesting."
"Gil finds a lot of things interesting," Catherine reminded her colleague. "He's still a respectable, relatively-functioning member of society."
Sara smiled. "Cute, too. Don't forget to add cute."
Catherine snorted. "Alright... sure."
"You don't think he's cute?"
Catherine laughed a little. "Sara, the mystique is gone. I've known him for too long. I'm not one of his fangirls."
Sara scowled. "I'm not either."
"I believe you."
Sara's eyes went wide and she looked at Catherine. "Don't tell him I said that. ANY of that."
"I won't," Catherine said softly. "I promise."
Sara accepted that and returned to her drink. Catherine smiled and sat back. Their empties were replaced with fresh drinks; the conversation resumed, circling around safer topics, until they were finished consuming alcohol.
"Can you call Grissom?" Sara asked. "I'll get the bills."
"Yep. Sure thing," Catherine replied, picking up her phone. When Gil answered her call, Sara was at the bar, so she said, "Hi, Sweetheart."
"You're awfully affectionate."
"Alcohol makes me warm."
"Mmm... among other things," he agreed.
"Ooooh," she growled. "I remember that I'm pissed at you."
"Do you need me to pick you ladies up so we can continue this discussion in person?"
Gil chuckled. "I'm on my way. See you in ten minutes."
"Only ten?" Catherine asked. "You're like thirty away---" she stopped talking and then she said: "You already left."
"I don't know if I wanna punch you or kiss you."
Gil spoke up. "May I suggest the latter? We'd both enjoy that one."
"See you in ten," she said as Sara was approaching the table.
"It's a date," Gil said, before ending the call. Catherine tucked her phone into her pocket and looked up at Sara. "He's already on his way. Should be ten minutes."
"Great. I took care of both bills---"
"You can put a tip down," the brunette said. "It was my mess and you came out with me. You kept me from falling apart, so I bought the drinks to say thanks."
Catherine, a little surprised by the gesture, nodded. "Alright. I'll get the tip."
"I'm going to go the bathroom... wash up."
"Meet you outside," Catherine replied.
She put some money down on the table and then left, going outside to wait for Gil. He pulled up ten minutes later, like he had promised, and then she hopped into the front seat.
"Shotgun!" she said on a little giggle, before leaning in and kissing his cheek.
Gil blushed. "Catherine, where's Sara?"
"Give her a minute. She'll be out."
Gil looked Catherine over. She winked at him and then tugged her purple top down a little bit. It was low-cut on its own; her manipulations only accentuated the deep-vee neckline.
"Stop that," he scolded, although a smile played upon his lips.
"Make me," she retorted playfully.
The backdoor to the Tahoe opened, startling them both into breaking their eye contact.
Gil turned his head and smiled at Sara. "Hey, Sara. How're you doing?"
"Just fine," she said with a brave smile.
"Your girls' day out went well?"
"Yeah," Sara replied. "We had fun, all things considering."
Gil smiled back at her, as he put the car into gear. "Good," he said, before turning his focus to the road and driving towards Sara's apartment building.
"Here we are," Gil said as he parked in front of Sara's complex. "Safe and sound."
"Thank you, Grissom," Sara said quietly. "And Catherine. Thanks for today."
"No problem," Catherine replied, craning her neck to look at Sara. "I had a good time."
Sara leaned in and touched Catherine's shoulder. "The secret stuff's still secret, right?"
"Oh, totally," Catherine agreed, nodding enthusiastically. "You have nothing to worry about."
"Whew." Sara slid out of the car. "Okay," she called out. "See you two later!"
She closed the door. Gil waited until Sara was inside the front doors before saying, "What secret stuff?"
"Sara thinks you're cute."
"Well, I think you're radiant," he told Catherine.
"Stop telling me things like that. Makes me wanna jump you."
Gil chuckled. "Not yet, my dear."
Catherine pouted as he drove towards her house.
"So... I enjoyed working with you," Gil said softly, as they drove back to the lab after wrapping up the art house case. "How about... well, would you like to go see a movie?"
"At the same theatre?"
He shrugged. "They have the best movies."
"Do we get to go to the same house afterwards?" she asked. When he raised an eyebrow in silent questioning, she smiled and said, "You have to make it worth my while if I'm going to pay the nanny for another couple of hours."
He smiled back at her. "Do you think we're ready for that?"
"I'm ready. Are you?"
"I missed more than just working with you."
Catherine grinned. "So, it's date night?"
"If m'lady wants it to be."
"Your lady definitely does."
Gil took her hand and kissed over her knuckles. "Lovely," he murmured, before putting their hands down over his thigh.
Catherine cleared her throat. "I... I'm glad we weren't working together, though," she said gently.
"Gave me a chance to reconnect with the rest of the team... I mean, Warrick and I were always close, and Nick's easy to get along with... but Sara," she tried to explain. "I always write her off. At least I've gotten to know her better."
Gil smiled and nodded. "I had hoped you two would work something out."
"You plotted against me."
"No, in my capacity as supervisor, I acted in hopes of achieving better team coherency."
He chuckled. "I don't want you to hate her. That's all."
"I don't. Not right now, anyway."
Gil squeezed her hand. "I'm glad to hear that."
She smiled. "Yeah," she murmured.
"I like silent movies."
Catherine stopped chewing and turned to stare at him. He had smiled at her; their eyes didn't quite meet. She returned to her popcorn and then, after a moment, she chuckled softly.
Gil put his hand down on her knee and squeezed gently. She smiled and put her hand over his. He stole the popcorn bucket from her and put it on his lap. She smiled, rolled her eyes and decided it would just be easier to share.
After the movie, Gil took Catherine's hand and they left the theatre together. He suggested ice cream, and she warmed to the idea.
They walked down the sidewalk, still hand in hand, while licking ice cream cones. Occasionally, they offered some of their ice cream choice to the other.
Catherine felt at ease---more at ease than she had in a long time. They were doing regular couple things, and it felt very good.
"Wanna go out to the desert?" she asked softly.
"Stars and trucks... the romance of being under the stars with nothing for miles around..." she said, trailing off and shrugging.
Gil smiled and released her hand to put his arm around her shoulders. "Are you trying to keep me out of your bed?"
"No way," she replied, putting her free hand on his hip after wrapping her arm around his back. "I want you in my bed."
"We haven't been out in the desert for a while, alone," he said softly.
"You haven't been licking any rocks or bones lately."
Gil laughed softly. "No... not lately."
"Good. Let's go."
"Are you cold?" Gil asked, tightening his hold on her. They were sitting on the open tailgate of the Tahoe; he was behind her, his legs on the outside of hers.
She shook her head. "No. Cozy with you here," she whispered.
"The stars are so pretty." She smiled and put her hands over his.
Gil nodded. "They are." He sucked in a sharp breath and then said, "Cath, I need to tell you something."
She stiffened a little.
"It's nothing bad."
"Oh. Okay, then," she murmured as she relaxed. "What's on your mind."
He paused to kiss her temple, before talking. "How would you feel if I said I wanted to take 'platypus' off the table?"
Catherine craned her neck to try to look at him. "What do you mean? Our relationship or---"
"Just the safe word. We started this... us... to find some release after bad cases. Or to celebrate the good cases, and it spiraled into something so much better," he said, trying to explain. "I know we don't use the word anymore. We don't throw it out when one of us needs a break anymore. But... I always think it's hanging over our shoulders."
Catherine felt her eyes watering. "You... you what?"
"You're the only one for me," he said softly. "I know we can't make promises right now, for anything more permanent. But, if we just said we'd take that safety word off the table... I'd feel better."
Her lower lip trembled. "Oh..."
"Yes," she murmured, nodding a little. She knew it was only symbolic, but she also knew it had to have taken him a lot to say those things to her. "If you're sure."
"Very," he said firmly. "I know we're gonna have problems. I know it won't be easy. But, you're it for me. And I don't want that word haunting us, like an easy way out."
Catherine smiled and turned more so she could kiss him. After a brief touch of lips, she said, "Yes, yes, yes. No more safety word."
Gil kissed her again, letting it deepen for a few minutes, before pulling back so they could catch their breaths. He took the opportunity to wind the pale green scarf from her neck. When he had recovered enough, he started kissing the skin he had uncovered. Catherine rolled her head back against his shoulder and sighed softly.
He smiled against her skin and spread one hand out over her stomach, while his other hand traveled down to the inside of her thigh. Catherine's soft whimper fueled him on.
"Delicious," he whispered against her skin.
"Tease," she whispered back.
"You bet. It's been a very long time for us, and I intend to make the most of it," he murmured. "Out here, under the stars..."
"Mmmhmmmm," she purred, reaching back to touch his cheek. She brushed her fingers into his hair. He nuzzled her neck before returning to kissing the skin. "Need more, Gil," she whispered.
Gil chuckled. "You'll get more."
"Don't tell me you're ready to go already?"
"Wow. I must be getting better at this."
He chuckled again. "Yeah, yeah..." he murmured, before kissing her neck again. When she whimpered, he gently bit down---that caused her to moan. "So responsive," he whispered. "I like it."
"Get the blanket," she whispered. "Gonna take my pants off now."
"Oh, are you?" Gil asked, amusement laced through his voice.
"Uh huh," she muttered, sliding out of his gentle hold on her. She turned around and looked at him. "Get the blanket."
She undid the button on her pants and lifted up the hem of her t-shirt, to expose enough of her belly to make his body temperature rise by a couple of degrees despite the chill in the desert air.
He swallowed hard and fumbled behind him for the blanket he kept in the back. Catherine smiled and unzipped her pants.
"Shoes," Gil croaked.
"Oh. Hmm." She looked down at the ground. "Nope. No sock feet in the dirt."
"C'm'ere," he said putting his hands on her hips. She squealed softly as he hopped down, off of the tailgate, only to help her get up onto it. Then, he dropped down to his knees and unfastened her boots. "Stay up there," he told her. "And your socks'll be fine."
She smiled at him. "Get up here so I can kiss you properly," she murmured, offering him a hand.
He swatted her hand away and instead chose to lift her pant legs up so he could place a few openmouthed kisses on her ankles and calves. Catherine sighed happily and shivered; she propped herself up on her hands, locked her elbows, and then closed her eyes to give into the sensations Gil was creating.
"Delicious here, too," he said softly.
He chuckled and rose to his feet. "Better?"
"Much," she said, as she reached out and tugged on his jacket. "Just get closer."
He obliged, wrapping his arms around her body as he lowered his lips to hers for another kiss. She wrapped her legs around his waist and put her hands on his neck and shoulders; she was anchored to him and had no intention of leaving his side.
They kissed until the tension became too much for either of them to ignore. Gil helped her remove her pants and underwear; she helped him unfasten his belt and pants. As they undressed, they strategically placed the blanket around them; when they kissed again, the blanket became the least of their concerns.
Catherine reached between them and stroked her fingers over his abdomen. Gil's instant reaction of moans and stomach twitches pleased her so much that she repeated the gesture twice, before moving her hand lower.
The feel of his erection, sitting in her hand, made her cheeks blush and her chest tighten. Gil's eyes were closed and he was almost leaning upon her as she held him; after running her loosely-held fist along his length a couple of times, she moved her hand even lower, cupping him from underneath, reacquainting herself with how he felt.
Gil groaned loudly and then started to pant. "Catherine," he whispered. "Please..."
"Please stop... please start..."
"Please something. Anything."
She smiled and kissed her way to his ear. She nipped at his earlobe and then kissed a path to his lips. After a long kiss, she whispered, "Let's do this."
She scooted to the edge of the tailgate and opened her legs as wide as she could under the cover of the blanket; Gil moved closer, and with her hand still on him for guidance, he eased himself inside of her.
They didn't stop until he was fully sheathed inside of her. Gil wrapped his arms around her body as she wrapped hers around his neck. They stayed like that for a few minutes, savouring how they felt together.
She knew his body, she knew how he'd react, she knew how she'd react to him---but this felt different. She guessed he felt the same way.
To let him know she was alright, she started moving first. Slowly, but gradually, she built up in intensity. His hips followed her lead, and soon after, they were both getting closer to climax.
Gil groaned and buried his face in her shoulder. "So... so close," he panted.
"Let go," she insisted, murmuring near his ear.
When he growled and struggled, she knew he was holding back. So, she gave him a little push---and bit the skin below his ear.
Gil growled again, this time much more loudly, and he thrust into her with considerable force before collapsing and groaning. She felt him tighten inside of her and then she heard him whimper her name.
"There you go," she whispered.
After a few minutes, Gil lifted his head and looked at her. She smiled and kissed him. He kissed her back, and let one of his hands leave her back to travel between them.
Catherine squeaked when his fingers found her small bundle of nerves; Gil smirked in reply.
She dug her hands into his shoulders, balling his jacket up in her fists when the sensations grew to be too much. His other hand slid along her back and rested between her shoulder blades.
"That's it," he whispered. "I've gotcha."
"No... shit... sherlock," she groaned, closing her eyes and leaning back.
Gil chuckled and continued working her over. She shuddered and bucked against him and his hand, whimpering as she shifted on the tailgate.
Finally, he pushed too hard. She squeaked again. Her teeth sank down into her lower lip and she threw her head back. Gil kissed her neck and held her close as she crashed into the orgasm he had been trying to induce.
"Yeah," he whispered.
"Love you," she whispered back.
Gil kissed her lips softly. "I love you, too."
Catherine opened her eyes and smiled lazily. Things were different... she didn't know how one conversation could change so much between them, but it seemed to have had some effect upon them. She felt secure and free at the same time.
She reached up and rubbed his cheek. He leaned into the touch, looking more at ease than she had seen him in a long time, before he kissed her wrist.
"Stop that," she scolded softly. "We need to---"
"Uh huh," he mumbled. "We're staying here for a little while longer. I missed holding you like this."
Catherine blushed and then nodded. She wrapped her arms around his neck and tucked her face into his chest.
A few more minutes wouldn't hurt, she reasoned silently.