Catherine saw Lindsey go to school and then she locked her home and went straight to bed, shedding her clothes as she walked down the hall. She kept the items of clothing in her arms and deposited them in a pile on the floor by her closet before she tucked herself under her covers and closed her eyes.
Since Gil ended their romantic relationship, going to work every day and pretending that everything was fine became increasingly difficult. She knew that it was better to give him the time and space he needed---she hadn't been an idiot, she knew something was on his mind---because he might decide he missed her, in that way. Plus, if she had demanded something from him that he couldn't give her, he might have made a harsher break---and in the process they might have ruined their friendship.
This way, they would salvage their friendship---once the awkward phase passed.
But, it was exhausting, and Catherine hoped they would work everything out soon.
She hadn't been sleeping more than thirty minutes when she got the call from the dispatch officer.
After a quick shower, she dressed and left a quick note for her mother---who would be stopping by to meet Lindsey after school---before leaving her house and getting into her car.
By the time she arrived at the scene, a home inside a gated community, Gil was there, too. She considered staying inside her vehicle until he was well inside the crime scene, but then she decided that she had to get over her awkwardness so he could get over his. She hopped out of her car and grabbed her things.
"Early morning call-out," she said, in hopes of breaking the ice, "the worst."
Gil didn't respond. She shut the back door of her car and then asked, "Where did you come from?"
His one-word answer bothered her, but she understood he was having problems, too---even though he initiated the time apart.
"Did you get any sleep?" she asked.
"No... you?" he asked in reply, as they walked towards Jim Brass.
"About a half hour," she admitted.
"I was watching the world series of poker," he added. "Waiting for Sam Farha to light his cigarette."
"Mmhmm," she replied, not wanting to say any more than that. She was pleased that he was sharing personal information with her---and that he wasn't with anyone else that morning---but she knew that saying anything about her pleasure would only irritate him.
Before she could think of anything else neutral to talk about, Brass spoke up.
"Ever been to the Acid Drop?"
Catherine stifled a snort. "I try to avoid those places," she replied.
"The victims," Brass said, "were the owners. Mike Trent and his wife Laurel. Both shot execution-style, back of the head. A neighbour walking the dog found 'em. Mike used to own a semi-pro hockey team with some other guy. He made a ton of money, sunk it all into clubs like Acid Drop... uh, Psychedelic Hoe-Down...---"
A nearby officer interrupted Jim by calling out for him.
"---fun joints," he finished, before turning to go to the officer.
Catherine surveyed the scene in front of her. "Looks like they never got out of the driveway," she commented grimly.
"She dropped where she was shot," Gil commented, "but it looks like he was dragged."
She felt her brow furrow a bit. "You drag a body away to hide it, not down a driveway for the world to see it," she pointed out.
Gil looked out at the street, deep in thought. Catherine almost smiled; she liked seeing that look on his face.
"Unless that was the point," he said quietly.
She sighed. "Maybe... yeah. Guess we'd better find out if he has any enemies."
"Hey, Cath, Gris," Warrick said as he walked up behind them.
Catherine turned and smiled at him. "Hey," she murmured.
"What've we got?" he asked, before nodding his head towards the scene.
Gil started speaking first, getting into specifics about the victims and how they were found. Catherine took the time to set her cellular phone to vibrate and then she surveyed the neighbourhood around them.
"Why don't you and Catherine start the interior?" Gil suggested.
She turned and nodded, smiling a little. "Sure," she replied. "I'll let you know if we find anything."
Gil had been putting off Catherine's evaluation for a week---since he received the forms for his team.
It was hard to be in a room with her. He loved her and he wanted to be with her; however, he knew he needed some time apart from her to figure a few things out. He had continuously caught himself looking for exits, finding distractions in other things and other people... and those were behaviors adopted by people who weren't happy in their relationships. He knew he had a problem---and that maybe they had a problem---and he didn't want to lose her from his life.
It was easy to pair her with Warrick or Nick at a scene, so he could go off with a body to the coroner's office, but he had to do her evaluation. And that would mean they would be in his office, alone. With Ecklie's recording device still on the shelf, among his specimen jars and books.
Corralling her into his office took an hour. She was artfully evading him around the lab, while they worked on the Trent case---and he wasn't exactly actively pursuing her, either.
Finally, though, they met up and started the evaluation process.
He picked up his pen and asked, "What are your goals, Catherine?"
"We're mid-case," she pointed out, walking away from him. "Why do we have to do this now?"
He looked at her. "I have to get this evaluation in," he reminded her, "or I'm going to get written up."
She sighed. "Okay. My goals... mmm..." she trailed off and thought hard. He almost smiled at the way she spun around, but he refrained from doing so. "Oh, alright. Okay," she said as she took a seat in front of his desk.
"For starters, I'd like two consecutive nights off. I would like to cut my triples down to ten a year instead of the usual twenty, and... uh, I would love to find a reliable babysitter, so I could have myself some kind of personal life."
He suppressed the reaction to the shiver of delight he felt when she said that. "You don't have a personal life?" he asked.
"I... write this down," she said, casting a quick look at the shelf where the recorder was hidden, "I haven't had sex in six---no---seven months."
It had been only a few months---not nearly that many---so he assumed she had said that more for the benefit of Ecklie than anything else. But, still, he didn't know how he was supposed to respond.
He sighed. "How can I help?"
When her eyes widened, he realised what he had said and how it had sounded. He felt his ears heat up and he quickly added, "You. Advance, I mean. Do you... have any interest in changing sections in the lab, for instance?"
She sighed, too. "Gil... how do you do this? Honestly? How do you juggle scheduling and vacations and---"
"The goal of any supervisor is to teach someone how to take his place someday," Gil pointed out.
Catherine blinked. "Are you going someplace?"
"You never know," he said cryptically, while knowing by the look in her eyes that they would be revisiting that conversation topic in the near future. She would want to know he wasn't leaving town any time soon.
"Are you considering me?" she asked.
He shrugged. "Why not? You're certainly qualified. But," he added, "a CSI who uses the DNA lab to establish her own paternity... calls into question her judgment, don't you think?"
After speaking he slid her file across the desk so she could look at it. He watched her brow furrow a little. Then, she said, "You've left that out. Are you covering for me?"
Sam Braun was still a sore spot for Gil. But, he did trust Catherine's judgment---and he knew that if he had been in her shoes, he could have done the same thing. And Braun, he believed, should not be Catherine's downfall. She had achieved so much and she was an excellent investigator; she would excel as a supervisor and would be an excellent candidate to take over if and when he decided to step down.
"I believe that we've dealt with this issue," he replied, "handled it internally. As far as I'm concerned, it's dead. Besides, you'll never do it again, so just sign your name by the red 'x.'"
When she hesitated, he frowned. He braced himself before he was aware of what he was doing.
"Before I sign... um... since we're putting all of our cards on the table," she said, "there's something you should know. Sam Braun wrote me a cheque, and... I cashed it."
His stomach tightened; the fact that her shoulders relaxed bothered him even more. He wondered how long she had been hiding that fact from him.
"For how much?" he asked, trying to keep the edge out of his voice.
She shrugged. "Enough to where Lindsey and I can do anything and... not enough to where we can do nothing."
The edge seeped into his voice when he spoke again. He couldn't restrain it. "Sam Braun was a murder suspect in one of your cases. How does this not look like a payoff?"
"I consulted an attourney," she told him. "It is a cheque from a father to a daughter. It is completely out of departmental jurisdiction."
"What about conflict of interest? Not just for you but for this lab?"
"G-gil... I would never compromise you or the lab."
He wanted to believe her. He wanted to let the subject drop but it was in his teeth, and he couldn't unclench his jaws. "Maybe not legally," he responded in an icy tone, "but ethically?"
She fell silent and avoided his gaze.
"What else should I know, Catherine?" he demanded.
Her gaze cooled. "That's everything," she said in a similarly icy tone.
She signed the evaluation and then stood before walking out of Gil's office. He stared at her signature for a moment, and then he pushed himself up and strode out after her.
He caught her arm in his hand and tugged her into an empty layout room. She squawked and stumbled before he righted her against the closed door.
"What is your deal?!" she demanded hotly.
"What else should I know?" he repeated.
Her eyes narrowed. "What? You want to know if I'm going out every night... meeting new guys... bringing them to my bedroom?" she asked in a dangerously low voice. "You don't have the right to ask questions like that right now, Gil."
He sighed and frowned. "I know... I just..." he stepped back. "I'm sorry."
"I miss you," he admitted.
She nodded but kept her distance. "I miss you, too," she said quietly. "How are you?"
"I think you know," he muttered.
"Well... I'm not going to tell you anything else," she said in that same quiet voice. "We're not together anymore. And, we're trying to keep our friendship intact while you figure things out... so you might want to know those things, but you really don't want to know them, you know?"
He nodded and sighed again. "Yeah."
She patted his shoulder twice and then left the room.
Catherine knew she hadn't been in a good, balanced frame of mind when she had been with Chris, the manager of the Acid Drop, but it felt good to feel desired after such a long time. She tumbled into those feelings and wrapped them around her---no matter how inappropriate they were.
When he called her at the lab and asked her out to breakfast, since their work days were ending at roughly the same time, she had still been enveloped in those feelings of desire and giddiness so she accepted the offer.
It wasn't until she dropped her phone on the table in the break room that she realised that she made a date.
Panicked for more reasons than she could properly identify, she almost called him back and cancelled the date; however, she ended up rushing to her locker to see if she had anything suitable to wear.
After finding a clean top, something she must have kept stashed in her locker when she and Gil were still hot and heavy, when she wanted to drive him nuts, she changed and then reapplied her makeup. A few quick twists of her wrists and then she pinned her hair up.
She raced down the hall, determined to clock out before any other crimes were reported, when she saw Gil sitting behind his desk.
She all but skidded to a halt as she rearranged her jacket. "Oh... you're still here," she said quietly. He looked up, his expression unreadable. "Uh... so I'm leaving. Need anything?"
"No," he replied quietly, "I'm good."
She looked at him. "Are we good?" she asked pointedly.
He swallowed and nodded slightly. "We'll be fine," he said in a weird voice.
"Okay... I'll see you tomorrow."
"Going out?" he asked in that same voice. She felt her heart break a little; she wanted to help him, but she couldn't.
"I've got some unfinished business to take care of," she said, before she smiled, more out of nervousness than happiness. "I'll see you."
She didn't wait for him to reply; she turned and rushed down the hall, towards the building's exit.
A couple of hours later, Chris was walking her to her car outside of a restaurant they had chosen for breakfast. He put his hand on her lower back and held doors open for her; he was funny and he listened when she spoke.
In another world, Catherine knew she could fall for this guy.
He kissed her cheek as she fished her keys out of her pocket.
"I had a great time," she murmured, putting her hand on his chest.
"Any chance I could convince you---"
She shook her head. "Sorry," she interrupted gently. "It's been a long night." She leaned in and kissed him; it was easy to seek another kiss from him because he was so easy to read. "Next time, though," she whispered against his lips, "I promise."
Catherine hadn't been entirely sure what she was promising, but she felt herself smiling with him as they parted by a couple of inches.
"I'll hold you to that," he whispered, sounding a little hoarse.
"Good," she whispered back, before getting in her car and driving away.