Gil woke up to the scent of a dark roast being brewed in his coffee machine. He groaned softly and without opening his eyes, reached behind him to rub his neck. He didn't understand why he slept on his sofa when he had a perfectly good bed in the other room; he assumed Catherine was using his bed and that for some reason he decided to give her some space. Everything in their relationship was upside down since they got back together, without really being back together.
He opened his eyes and found that he wasn't on his sofa, that Catherine wasn't in his bedroom, and that it wasn't his coffee machine being used.
Sara looked a little uncomfortable standing in front of him, but she gave him a shy smile before tugging on her t-shirt nervously.
"Made you coffee," she added. "I'll bring some out while you gain your bearings."
"Thanks," Gil said quietly.
She smiled again and then left the living room. He took the time alone to push himself into a sitting position and to reach over to the coffee table for his cellular phone. He flipped it open and was surprised to find no one had called. He expected Catherine would have called; they did make plans, after all. He frowned and snapped the phone shut and set it back on the table.
"Here," Sara said as she came back into the room, holding a purple mug in each hand. "I like cream and sugar in mine, so---"
"Whatever's in there is fine," he said, as he accepted the mug destined for him. He sipped it cautiously and found that she put cream and a small amount of sugar in with the coffee. It wasn't the best coffee he had ever tasted, but it was strong and warm. He smiled. "Thank you."
"Well... it's the least I can do, right?" Sara asked as she sat down next to him. "I mean... thanks for taking care of me last night. I didn't need... I mean, I was okay and everything, but---"
"You don't need to thank me for that," Gil said. He didn't really think that talking until he fell asleep deserved thanking. "I just want to make sure that you and I are on the same page. I want you to take some time off. And you'll be taking counseling sessions while you do."
Sara sighed and ran a hand through her multi-layered hair. "Yeah," she agreed, the tone of her voice a little glum. "How many weeks?"
"As many as you need," he said. "Sara, you have tons of vacation time on the books. Weeks of it. Maybe you should cash some of that in."
"But, what about the lab?" she asked.
Gil tilted his head and looked at her. He didn't think that was her real argument but he wasn't sure that her real argument was any stronger than that one.
"We'll manage," he told her. "I can bring someone from Days or Swing if I need to... but I'm sure Greg won't mind helping out in the field and---"
"So, Greg can do my work."
Gil smiled a bit. "Hardly," he assured her, "but he'll help us handle everything in your absence."
Sara's shoulders relaxed. "Oh."
He reached out and put his hand on her shoulder. After squeezing gently, he told her the lab wouldn't be the same without her. It was the truth. She was an influential part of his team. She was known for her workaholic tendencies; her tenacity solved many cases in the lab and her no-nonesense attitude towards her work inspired others to work just as hard. She inspired him, too, sometimes.
She smiled at him for a second before her lips curved into a frown. "I'm sorry for letting you down, Grissom."
"You didn't," he assured her. He stifled a yawn and then sipped his coffee. "I better go home," he conceded. "I should clean up before work."
She nodded. "Oh... um, okay. I was going to make breakfast, but---"
"Thank you, but I need to go home," he said, interrupting her as politely as he could.
"Okay," she said, nodding again.
Gil set his mug of coffee down on the table. "You're on vacation, effective immediately. You'll meet with a counsellor---I'll set up the first meeting and call you about the time---and when your sessions are complete and when you feel like you're ready to come back to work, we'll figure that out, okay?"
"That's the only way this is gonna work, right?"
Sara gave him an uncomfortable smile. "Okay, then. So... it's okay. Because it has to be."
"It will be," he assured her before he moved to the foyer of her apartment.
Once he left the apartment building, he got into his car and drove directly to his townhouse. He didn't stop unless he was required to by a sign or a traffic light; he did not want to waste any time. When he pulled into his driveway, he saw that Catherine's car was still parked there. He breathed an uneasy breath and then got out of his parked vehicle.
Catherine was pacing, on the phone, when he stepped inside his home. She heard the door open and she whirled around, eyes wide.
"Gil!" she exclaimed. She stepped forward but stopped suddenly to listen to whoever was speaking into her ear. "Yeah, Warrick... he just came in. Thanks. I owe you. Talk to you later." She snapped her phone shut and walked to Gil. She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him close. "I was worried about you," she murmured into his chest. "What happened?"
"I... I can't talk about most of it," he admitted after pressing a kiss into Catherine's hair. It was naturally wavy---not curled the way she styled it when she wanted to look more flirtatious---so he guessed she had showered and let it air-dry. "I'm sorry for making you worry. If I had known I'd be this late... I would have called."
She pulled away slightly and looked at him. "Why didn't you call me back, then?" she asked. "I called you half a dozen times."
"Only half a dozen?" he asked, trying to lighten the mood in the room.
Catherine shoved him half-heartedly. "Gil... didn't you see that I called?"
"There were no missed calls on the display when I looked at my phone, Catherine," he told her honestly. "I would have woken up if it rang, anyway," he added, not entirely sure if that was true. He had been tired; it had been a long week, followed by an even longer night. He took the phone out of his pocket and showed her the display screen. "See? I haven't opened it yet today."
Catherine studied the screen and then looked back at him. "I called," she said, her chin jutting out defensively.
"Maybe my phone's faulty," he suggested. "I'll get someone to look at it this afternoon."
He pressed a kiss to the tip of her nose. "Now... how about I make us some breakfast?" he murmured.
"I'll help," she offered.
It wasn't until they were chopping vegetables to be fried up before adding the eggs that Catherine started asking questions about his evening.
"Where were you?"
"What were you doing?"
"Were you drinking with some friends?"
"Why didn't you call me to tell me you'd be late?"
"Are you okay?"
"Are you sick... and you're not telling anyone?"
Gil let her continue to ask questions. He shook his head slightly each time and tried to focus upon making their meals. However, Catherine's patience had reached a saturation point after she had repeated the line of easily twenty questions a couple of times. She tapped her foot impatiently against his tiled floor.
"Gil... tell me something. Anything," she demanded in a low voice.
He sighed and looked at her. He adjusted his glasses and frowned a bit. "Someone at the lab got into a bit of trouble," he admitted. "And I took that person home. We ended up talking and I fell asleep."
"Who's in trouble?"
"I'm the supervisor," he reminded her, "and you are not privy to every conversation I have with members of my staff."
"I'm only not the supervisor when it's convenient for you," she pointed out. "Next time you want someone to help you with your case reviews, you can ask Warrick."
Catherine blinked when she heard who was at the door. She set her book down and made her way to the foyer of her home. Lindsey was letting Gil into the house and taking a few grocery bags out of one of his hands, so he could take his jacket and shoes off.
"Gil?" Catherine asked quietly. She hadn't seen him outside of work for almost a week, since their last morning together didn't end on a positive note.
He looked up. She almost smiled as his cheeks flushed. He looked like a guilty schoolboy. She tilted her head and looked back at him. When she arched an eyebrow, he said, "I thought... well, our last meal together didn't go so well. So, I thought I'd come over and try again."
"Do you have a peace offering?" she inquired, crossing her arms.
"I have the fixings for one of my italian extravaganzas---complete with garlic toast," he told her. "And a special surprise for after dessert," he added, pulling a small, wrapped box out of his pants' pocket.
Catherine's stern expression faded into a small smile. "You bought me a present?" she asked.
"You must feel pretty bad," she commented.
"Is there chocolate?" Lindsey asked.
Gil pointed to one of the bags she was holding. "Chocolate sauce, chocolate ice cream, a can of whipped cream..."
He grinned. "Both chocolate and rainbow."
Gil looked up at Catherine. "Your daughter seems to think I'm awesome," he commented, still grinning a little.
"She accepts bribes... and I do not," Catherine reminded him, adjusting her crossed arms.
"It's not a bribe... it's a peace offering," he corrected her as he guided Lindsey into the kitchen so he could begin unpacking the groceries and preparing to cook their meal. "I really don't like fighting with you, Catherine."
"And I don't like fighting with you," she replied, "which is why I wanted you to tell me the truth."
Gil sighed. "I told you I couldn't tell you the whole truth. What I told you was---"
"You know I wouldn't out the person in trouble," Catherine interrupted, "and you know I wouldn't approach the person about his or her..." she trailed off and stared at Gil. A muscle on his face twitched. She narrowed her eyes and studied his expression as she put two and two together---and came up with four. "It's Sara."
He blinked. "Why on earth would you ever---"
"She's on vacation. She's never on vacation. Something serious must've happened," Catherine said, explaining her reasoning. "If it were Nicky or Greg or Warrick, I don't think you would have disappeared overnight."
"Catherine, my dear, it's not---"
"Why won't you just tell me?" Catherine demanded. "It's Sara. You only keep things from me when it has to do with her!"
Lindsey groaned, sighed, and then proceeded to walk out of the kitchen. Catherine watched her daughter leave and then she looked back at Gil, who looked extremely uncomfortable. She sighed and looked away.
"Did you spend the night with her?" she asked.
"Gil, why didn't you just tell me that?" she said, while silently reminding herself to stay strong, to not cry, to not throw a fit in front of Gil. They had an agreement, to see other people; she was still seeing Chris, mostly because she wanted a public relationship and Gil couldn't offer her that. They had decided to be honest with each other---it was the only way their arrangement would work. "Why couldn't you just tell me you were seeing someone else?"
"I'm not seeing Sara!" Gil exclaimed. "I told you the truth. I left her name out because it is serious and it is confidential from the rest of the team. I know you're close with Warrick, so---"
Catherine rolled her eyes and put her hands up. "You think I'd betray your trust and go running to Warrick with some juicy gossip?"
"I know you two talk a lot," he replied.
"I didn't tell him we hadn't broken up. I didn't tell him about your ear surgery. I kept those lies---for you and for us, I might add---and I don't share every gory detail of every moment we spend together with him, either! I am a private person. We're close... but I can tell the difference between what's private and what's not," Catherine said, feeling her pulse quicken in angry frustration.
Gil sighed. "Catherine---"
She shook her head. "No! Don't 'Catherine' me in that tone of voice! I can't believe you'd think I'd put our friendship, our secrets... our everything..." she trailed off and looked away. "My relationship with you has always come first," she said quietly, her voice more controlled. "I'm offended you'd think otherwise."
"When it comes to Sara," Gil said in a soft voice, "you don't act rationally."
"I work with her... we don't have cat fights or... I don't engage in petty activity to---"
"When it comes to my friendship with Sara," he amended.
Catherine felt her face heat up. She knew he was right and part of her wanted to hate him for that. She sighed and looked at him. "Is she okay?" she asked quietly.
He nodded. "She will be."
She nodded, too. "Okay, then." She sighed and ran a hand through her hair. "I'm going to go talk to Lindsey. She probably thinks... well, I don't know what she thinks. But she needs to know everything's okay."
She nodded again. "Yeah," she murmured. She walked towards the door. "You know, if you had just told me you were at Sara's... that she needed a friend to talk to... I would have been able to accept that a helluvalot easier than no story at all."
It was Gil's turn to have his face heat up. He flushed and shrugged. "I'm sorry. I just... I worry about mentioning her to you, outside of work."
Catherine walked back into the room and hugged him. She couldn't be completely sure what compelled her to do that; but when he returned the gesture, it felt like the right thing to have done. She rubbed his back and whispered, "Don't worry about it. She's a part of your life... and while I'm not her biggest fan, I need to learn how to deal with her."
"Very mature of you," he whispered, a more amused tone sinking into his voice.
"Can I have my present now?" she asked, peeking up at him.
He chuckled and fished in his pocket for the small box. "I suppose..."
She took the box from him, untied the ribbon, and then removed the bright paper. Upon opening the box, she found a key. She looked up at him. "Gil, if this is a key to your house... you should know I've had a key for... what? Ten years now?"
"More like thirteen, but yeah, I know," he murmured before reaching up and gently tapping the tip of her nose. "This is for your office at the lab."
Catherine looked up at him. "I get an office?"
"I didn't know what to get the woman who has everything," he said, "and I know you'd like your own personal space at work. You deserve it, too. So, I spoke to some people and they found you an office space."
"Really?" she asked, a grin stretching her lips.
"Really," he replied, nodding. "The room number's on the other side of the key."
She hugged him again, clenching the key in one of her hands. "Thank you," she murmured.
"You're welcome," he whispered, kissing the side of her head. "I'm sorry we had a fight."
"Me, too," she breathed.
He patted her back gently. "Go talk to Lindsey... let the master take over your kitchen."
Catherine stepped backwards and smiled at him. "Only if the master does the dishes later, too," she bargained.
"It's a deal."
She kissed his cheek and left the kitchen, almost bouncing, as she went to find her daughter.
When Eddie hurt her, when Eddie cheated on her, she went to Gil's townhouse. Catherine hadn't even thought twice about where she would go after she saw Chris pressed against the young waitress. She made a couple of stops along the way, gathering things she impulsively thought she wanted, but her final resting place was Gil's townhouse.
The weird quality of the situation was not lost on her. She was furious with Chris because he was cheating on her; yet, she was sleeping with Gil from time to time while she was dating Chris, who was not aware of her other relationship. But, the more she thought about it, she realised that she had considered the relationships to be two separate entities that had no connection or bearing on each other. Her relationship with Chris was more about being able to do things in public, about the superficial kinds of affection and acceptance; he liked showing her off in public and she liked being with someone who wanted to show her off in public. Her relationship with Gil, while not always consistent, was about something much deeper; they were exploring things about themselves that they couldn't always explore with other people.
Chris' betrayal cut her more deeply than she had expected. She sat in Gil's kitchen and shot back mouthful after mouthful of tequila and thought about how much it hurt to be replaced by someone so vapid and young... and lithe... and beautiful. She groaned and took another shot of tequila without salt and lemon.
It was her life's story, to be replaced by someone younger. Eddie took up with up and coming strippers and waitresses when Catherine was pregnant, when Catherine was determined to study, when stretch marks marked her thighs and stomach. Chris did it, and even though Catherine knew that she and Gil had a connection that was more profound than a lot of connections between married couples, she continuously caught herself waiting for the moment when he would tell her that he was in love with Sara---someone younger than she was.
When she heard the front door open, she stood up and started to hide the evidence of her pain-numbing behavior so Gil wouldn't lecture her on the use of tequila as a numbing agent.
"Grissom, thanks for letting me stop by and pick up those books---"
Gil cut Sara off. "It's no problem, Sara," he said. "You need something to read while you're away... I think it's a good idea to do your counseling somewhere else. San Francisco's a good place to go."
After hearing that exchange, Catherine grabbed her purse and the bottle of tequila and slipped out of the kitchen, through the sliding glass door, and settled herself on Gil's small patio where no one could see her.
She gulped down two separate mouthfuls of the pale alcohol and then fumbled in her purse for the pack of cigarettes she had purchased. She lit one and took two drags off of it before she drank from the bottle again. She shivered when the alcohol almost made her gag; she recovered by inhaling again off of the cigarette.
Three cigarettes and entirely too much of the toxic alcohol later, the patio door slid open.
"I thought I saw your car parked on the street," Gil commented quietly.
Catherine turned and looked at him. She knew he would understand what was wrong with her after he looked at her tear-stained face, the cigarette in one hand and the bottle in the other.
His expression softened; he did understand.
"Lost your new friend?" he asked quietly. "Sara's gone if you want to come inside," he added. "And you can smoke in there, too, if you want."
His words sparked something inside of Catherine. She turned away from him and looked out over the small backyard. Lindsey used to play there, when she was a toddler, when Catherine needed some place to hide them both away. She closed her eyes and thought about those happier times, when things were simpler: Eddie, bad; men, bad; Gil, friend despite his gender.
She opened her eyes and saw the empty lawn and all she could think was: Eddie, dead; Chris, bad; Sam, bad; men, bad; Gil, unknown.
Was he really unknown?, she asked herself as she flicked the ashes of her cigarette over the patio. He wasn't---his personality wasn't---but his actions were. She didn't know if he'd hurt her or let her down like the other men in her life had. The unknown variable was more frightening than the known variables. She knew Sam could hurt her or someone else and she knew that Chris wasn't the sweet man he proclaimed himself to be. But, Gil was an eclectic collection of beliefs and attitudes and curiosities and while she knew him well, she also knew that when it came to interacting with people, he was unpredictable. He could hurt her like the others.
And then she thought of Sara. Sara who was his graduate student, his team member... who borrowed his books and kept him at her place all night doing god knows what.
He could hurt her with Sara.
She knew she wasn't without blame. She knew she hurt him. But, her drunken rationalisation was far from perfect and those details didn't seem to earn her focus.
With an unsteady hand, she brought the bottle up to her lips and swallowed another mouthful of the tequila. She almost heard Gil's wince above the humming in her head.
"Come inside," he insisted.
"You don't want me inside," she said quietly.
"Because of your smoking?" he asked. "I told you I don't mind if you---"
"Go back inside," she said quietly.
Gil snorted. "So you can stay out here and get drunk? I don't think so."
"You're not my father," she spat out.
"Thank god for that," he commented.
Catherine had been drinking again when she heard him say that. Part of her couldn't believe that he had said that; she thought it had been an alcohol-induced hallucination until she realised that her ears were connected to her head, to her brain, and her brain really did process those sound waves coming from Gil's mouth.
"Come inside," he repeated.
She swallowed and then shook her head---and then promptly regretted shaking her head. "N-no."
"You want to be a child?" he asked while she continued to drink and smoke in alternating intervals. "You want to sit out here and get drunk because a man you're not even really crazy about hurt your feelings? You came here, Catherine, so obviously you wanted me to do something about it. And now what, Sara's been inside my house so it's polluted? I don't know what you want from me---we can't be together, but we can't be apart?! What sort of logic is that? You go out and screw whoever you want, yet if I even look at another woman---"
She pulled the bottle away from her mouth and she threw it as far as she could before she jumped to her feet. After taking a last drag off of her cigarette, she flicked it at Gil and didn't flinch when it ricocheted off of him, over the patio, and into the grass.
He didn't flinch either. He brushed its ashes off of his shirt and glared at her.
Something in the way he looked at her set her off. She approached him in two steps and then slapped his face. His head turned from the impact but he returned it to look at her. She lifted her hand again, but he grabbed her wrist and prevented her from hitting him again.
Catherine tried to wrench her arm free; then, she tried to use her other hand to free it. Gil grabbed her other wrist and held them both against his chest. She shoved him with her body, pushing him against the side of his house; she tried to twist out of his grasp with the whole length of her body being thrown into the movement, but nothing seemed to work. He held her against his body with more resolution than she had expected him to have. She expected him to tell her to leave. Instead, he... was different.
She tried to kick him, but he turned them and pinned her against the wall with his body so she couldn't use her legs as effectively. She growled and cried out and thrashed between the wall and Gil's body; nothing seemed to work.
Finally, Gil threw her over his shoulder and started to carry her inside. She flailed and pummeled his back with her fists, while cursing under her shaky breath. He didn't say a word---which Catherine found very unnerving, even in her state.
By the time he reached the living room, she was squirming too much. He had to put her down and with nothing to pin her down with, Catherine lashed out as furiously as she had before. Gil was smart enough to grab her wrists and hold her arms down---he had learned his lesson earlier, she reasoned---but he didn't know how to control her from pushing him into walls or to prevent her from kicking him. One of the hanging, framed collections of butterflies narrowly narrowly missed crashing to the ground; if Catherine had pushed a little harder, she knew Gil would have hit it, sending it to the ground.
Gil released one of her wrists and in her drunken condition she tried to slap him again. He was quicker, though. He grabbed the back of her neck and squeezed; her knees started to shake and she felt herself weaken. She gasped and struggled, but he wrapped his other arm around her and helped her kneel.
"Easy," he whispered. "It's okay..."
Catherine looked at him, completely confused. She wanted to ask why he did that, why it worked the way it did, and how did he know to do that---but before she could form the questions into words, Gil's mouth was on hers. She whimpered against his lips and tried to push away, for reasons passing her understanding at that point, but he held her close and continued to kiss her.
The power in that embrace, combined with the power of the Mexican alcohol, overtook Catherine. Soon, she was ripping his shirt open and scratching her nails over his chest and back as the kiss intensified. Gil growled into her mouth and pulled her tank top over her head before throwing it across the room. He pulled her into his lap, so she was straddling his thighs while he kneeled, and kissed her chest and shoulders; she felt the burn of his beard combined with the bite of his teeth and she moaned loudly, feeling the sharper sensations through the thick haze in her mind, and she retaliated by digging her nails into his shoulders and scraping them over his arms.
Before she knew it, they were tugging at the rest of their clothes. In all honesty, she could admit that she was doing more tugging and Gil was doing more actual removing of clothing. His sober hands were better than her entirely-too-intoxicated hands at that point in the evening.
And when she was stripped bare, he flipped her onto her stomach and parted her legs. She tried to struggle, remnants of anger still in her system, but he leaned down and bit into her flesh, where her neck met her shoulder. She immediately stilled; tingles travelled through her nerves while something she couldn't comprehend calmed her. Her reaction was confusing, but she didn't question it.
Gil pushed his erection inside of her and much to her frustration, he took his time. She cursed and muttered things about how he nearly killed her the last time he decided to move that slowly; her comments didn't rouse him into faster movements. When she struggled and tried to kick him, he bit into her neck. In turn, she'd fall still and allow him to continue moving at the pace he desired.
"And I always thought you were a considerate lover," she growled, bucking her hips upwards.
"Careful..." he said in a deceptively sweet voice.
"Oh, whatever," she muttered.
Gil chuckled and then resumed moving in and out at the pace he desired. He didn't touch her body in any other way, except to bite her neck, and Catherine wondered if he was deliberately ignoring her pleasure. At the thought of being used, she almost threw him off of her body---but then he used that neck-trick on her, and she stilled.
His climax came and went before she could even feel the beginnings of a more meaningful tingle between her legs; she expected he would roll off of her and wait for her to leave but she was surprised when he stretched out on top of her, as best as he could with them still attached, and kissed the back of her head as his hands sought hers.
"Shh," he whispered.
Catherine sighed and closed her eyes. She had almost fallen asleep when he slowly eased off of her and felt him gather her into his arms. Instinctively, she curled up into his body, tucking her face in his neck; he kissed her face a couple of times as he walked to his bedroom, but he didn't say anything about her behavior or their actions a few moments ago.
He tucked her under the comforter and then he joined her in bed, spooning her from behind. Catherine felt her eyes close again---but the popped open when she felt his hand travel over her thigh and in between both of her legs to tease her sensitive nerve endings.
"Is that all you're gonna say to me?"
He chuckled and then whispered, "Shh."
Catherine rolled her eyes before her lids fluttered shut. She concentrated on the way Gil stroked her---gently but confidently, like he knew exactly which finger could evoke the right reactions from her body---until her concentration broke. She remembered crying out wordlessly, at the same time thinking that she didn't know how she'd ever look Gil in the face again after her outburst, as he caused her muscles to contract. When she slumped against his body, he kissed her neck and shoulder tenderly. She sniffled and turned over, tucking her face into his chest where she knew she left scratch marks. He rubbed her back and whispered quiet words to calm her in her ear.
"I'm sorry," she whispered.
"I know," he replied quietly.
Gil woke up the morning and buried his face in what he thought was Catherine's body. He woke up immediately when he discovered it was one of his pillows. He groaned and looked around the dark bedroom---or tried to, because he found one of his eyes was covered by something orange.
With a sleepy and clumsy hand, he reached up to his face and felt around. A piece of paper was stuck to his face.
He pulled on it. It was a Post-it note, the glue weakly tugging on his eyebrow hairs before separating.
It took him a few minutes to read it since his glasses had been lost in the struggle with Catherine the night before.
"Coffee in microwave. See you at work. Sorry again. Love, a very sober Catherine."
He smiled and rolled onto his stomach so he could reach his bedside table. With a quiet groan, he extended his arm and reached for the top drawer---the place where he kept his Catherine mementos. Once it was open, he deposited the note inside and then tugged the comforter over his body so he could get a few more minutes of sleep before his alarm sounded.