Catherine looked at her day planner and flipped through the past five months. She made mental notes of the days upon which she marked small, red stars---her discrete signal for marking the days of her menstrual cycle---and frowned when she realised that two months had passed without her needing to add any red stars.
She had had her suspicions. There had been plenty of evidence to grab her attention. She had gone from craving to penetrative sex to only seeking oral or manual stimulation; her moods were more difficult to predict; she was more focused on Lindsey, on her family and home. These suspicions had taken over her thoughts and her behavior; she avoided Gil when she could because she knew he would be able to tell if something was wrong. She hadn't wanted to tell him what she guessed to be true; she didn't want to put him through the ups and downs of early pregnancy, again, if the whole ordeal had only been a timing error. She did not want to have a conversation with him about what they would do if she was pregnant. The whole situation would create a mess for both of them to muddle through and she didn't know how they would survive it.
She sighed and stared at the current month, a frown taking over her facial features. She did not want to think about what that meant, but she couldn't keep her mind from putting the facts together. The last thing she needed was a baby; she thought about the ways in which a baby would change her relationship, however odd it was, with Gil, as well as their careers, and she felt like throwing her day planner across the room in aggravation.
She looked up and saw Warrick standing in the doorway. "Hey, Warrick," she said quietly, smiling a little as she closed her calendar and tucked it into her desk drawer, "what's up?"
"Brass just gave us the call."
"Bruce Eiger's place," he said as he stepped into the office and took Catherine's coat off of the back of her guest chair. "C'mon. I'll drive."
Catherine blinked. "Bruce Eiger?"
"Yep," he said as she grabbed her kit and camera. When she took her coat from him, he shrugged. "Dunno what happened yet, but it sounds like a big deal."
"He has fingers in every pie in Vegas," she told Warrick as they left her office and headed towards the exit. "Man... you want to talk about motive."
"No kidding," he agreed. "Interviews alone could take weeks."
Catherine laughed softly, as she decided to focus on the case instead of her personal problems.
When they arrived at the scene, Warrick started examining the area immediately around the body and Catherine busied herself by taking photographs of the scene. News vans pulled up to the curb outside of the mansion, their reporters and cameramen exiting quickly to start filming the news of the hour.
"What do you think happened?" Warrick asked.
Catherine looked up from her camera and smiled. "I don't know if I want to know," she joked. "Whatever it was, wasn't pretty."
When she heard Brass, explaining what was happening to someone else, she looked up to see Gil ducking under the crime scene tape. Her stomach tightened.
"Welcome to the party," Jim Brass said to Gil and Ecklie.
"What's going on?" she asked. "This is my scene."
Gil met her eyes but she broke the contact; he put his kit down and opened it, preparing to work the scene with her and Warrick and Nick. Conrad looked at Catherine and said, "High profile case---woke up the supervisors. All hands on deck, Cath. Grissom's lead on this---he's the senior supervisor."
She wanted to scream and tear her hair out. Instead, she arched an eyebrow and asked, "If it's all hands on deck, what are you doing behind the tape?"
"You know if I cross the tape, my name goes on the crime scene log that gets subpoenaed by the defense, and I have to testify," he explained.
She curbed the impulse to reach across the tape and to strangle Conrad in a fit of frustration. Instead, she asked, "And when was the last time you testified?"
"That's not my primary job anymore," he reminded her. "I'm an administrator. I run interference for you guys---starting with the press."
"It's nothing personal, Catherine," Gil said quietly from behind her. "Cases like these rain down hard. You need all the help you can get."
She suppressed the urge to tell him what she needed---support from him, a reason to put a red star on her calendar, and so on. "I need help," she countered, "not supervision."
He didn't respond. He nodded towards the body. She sighed and turned her attention on Eiger's lifeless body.
"Thanks, Doc," Sofia said as she and Gil turned away from the autopsy table. The older man smiled a bit and waved at her before they turned completely and walked out of the door.
Gil looked down at his glasses, trying to decide if he needed a new prescription or if his glasses just needed a thorough cleaning, and then he looked at Sofia. He admired the poise with which she handled her job. He smiled slightly. "I'm glad you decided to stay, Sofia," he told her.
"So am I..." she replied, "...for now."
He felt Catherine's presence before he saw her step into the hall. His sensitivity to her proximity always increased when they were apart for a long time. Since Sara's verbal assault on Catherine and Ecklie, Gil could admit that he and Catherine hadn't spent much time together. They had said so much to each other; Gil didn't know if their shared words hurt or helped their relationship. Over the past couple of weeks, she had pulled back from him, withdrawn inside herself. He tried to lure her out. He invited her to meals, asked her out on dates... but even when she did accept his offers, she was a million miles away, lost in thoughts he wasn't privy to.
"Thanks for waiting," she told them. "Got here as fast as I could."
"We just finished," Gil told her.
"Grissom... what the hell?!" she responded, emotions running hotter than usual. "Am I going to have any part of this case or should I just go back to my office and start shuffling some papers?"
Sofia spoke up before Gil could formulate a reply. "Catherine, it wasn't personal. The body was posted; we didn't think you'd be back for a few hours." She handed the report to Catherine and then added, "There's the report."
Gil was surprised at the hostility in Catherine's voice. "Stay out of this," she said to the other blonde in a low, menacing voice. Not surprisingly, Sofia left them in the hall outside of the morgue. Then, Catherine turned her gaze onto Gil. "So, is this an Ecklie mandate, or is this just your thoughtlessness?"
"Well... look," he said, "I apologise, but this is a group effort."
She scoffed. "Thanks. I feel much better."
She turned and left. Gil followed her and managed to drag her into one of the vacant storage rooms along the corridor, Catherine growling, hissing, and kicking out at him the whole time.
"What?!" she growled.
"What is going on with you?" he inquired.
"I'm getting pushed out of this case!" she exclaimed. "It was mine originally and---"
"I am not trying to steal your case," he interrupted. "I didn't know you wanted to come back with me... I looked for you before I followed the body out of here, and you were in the house with Nick and Warrick. So, I came back and met up with Sofia. It was not intentional."
"You're awfully territorial," he pointed out.
"I am not!" she protested.
"You nearly clawed Sofia's eyes out!" he countered.
"I did not!"
Gil rolled his eyes. "Catherine... you did."
She huffed loudly. "Did not," she muttered.
He reached down and put his hands on her hips. "Jealous of Sofia, too?" he inquired quietly as he tugged her closer.
"Am not," she argued quietly, looking up at his eyes before glancing at his lips.
"Are too," he argued back.
"Am not," she whispered.
She snorted and was about to voice a response to his accusation, but he leaned down and kissed her lips once, gently. She all but came unglued after that kiss; she dropped the file folder and launched herself at him, pressing her mouth to his for a series of hungry kisses that made him groan. His blood went from room temperature to scorching hot and he didn't understand what caused the sudden shift in her demeanor.
When she dropped down to her knees in front of him, unfastening his belt and pants, he decided she didn't really care. She was driving him crazy, rousing passions inside of him that she shouldn't have been able to stir when they were at work.
He reached down and threaded his fingers into her hair. She moaned and increased the intensity of her ministrations and didn't seem to mind when he pushed on her head---something he rarely did when she was going down on him.
She pushed his nerves so hard and so fast, he barely had time to warn her about his orgasm. She barely flinched, swallowed around him, and pulled back with a satisfied look on her face.
He smirked and after he pulled his pants and shorts up, after he put his clothes back into place, he hauled her back onto her feet and then pushed her against one of the storage racks. She gasped and then moaned when he turned her over, pressing her breasts into one of the shelves; when he pulled her dress slacks down her legs, she whimpered and shifted her weight.
Gil rose to his feet and slid his hand over her thigh before using it to guide her legs apart. He wasn't very surprised to find her skin slick and hot; he kissed the back of her neck and pushed two of his fingers past her underwear and inside of her body.
Catherine moaned and bucked back against him. When Gil put his other hand on the shelf for support, she put one of her hands on top of his arm; her nails dug into his skin each time he thrust his digits inside her.
"Touch yourself," he whispered in her ear.
She whimpered softly and reached down between her legs with her other hand. He felt her fingers working furiously over her swollen folds as he continued to pump his fingers in and out. When their fingers touched, she would shudder against his body; he would nibble on her ear and delight in the way her body rocked against his.
He felt her hidden muscles tighten around his fingers a moment before she buried her mouth into his elbow and whined softly. He continued to work his fingers against her slick skin and he didn't stop until her muscles had stopped contracting, until Catherine's fingers had slipped away.
"Feel better?" he asked quietly.
"I shouldn't have done that," she mumbled, turning around and pulling her pants up. She tried to walk past him when she was redressed, but he prevented her by pinning her in place with both of his arms. "Gil---"
"Is everything okay?" he asked, looking into her eyes. "Catherine... talk to me."
"I'm..." she trailed off and sighed. "I'm fine. Really. I just don't like being pushed out of the loop."
"You are in the loop," he promised. He studied her and realised that something more serious was going on. He cupped her face in his hand and asked, "You know you can talk to me about anything, right?" When she nodded, he asked, "Is it Lindsey?"
She shook her head. "Lindsey's fine. She started a new school... she's making new friends---"
"Butterfield Academy," Catherine replied. "We needed to make some changes."
She sighed and tried to walk away. "Gil, seriously," she said when he refused to move, "I'm fine---"
"You yelled at me, you growled at Sofia... and then you... we... you're very hard to predict."
Catherine's face flushed. "I... I'm a woman," she told him, "and I'm entitled to be unpredictable."
He smiled. "Catherine..."
She pressed a kiss to his lips. "I'm going to go," she whispered. "I should look over the crime scene photos or something."
"Okay," he relented. "I'll be in my office. And if you could... perhaps find Sofia and---"
"Yeah," she agreed. "I will."
Gil sought another kiss from her, and then he let her walk past him, out of the storage room.
He didn't see Catherine again until later in the day. He had finished talking with Ecklie and returned to his office to do some work, when she knocked lightly on the door. When he looked up, he noted a troubled expression on her face and he wondered what had happened to her.
"We have a problem," she told him.
He saw Ecklie standing behind Catherine and he almost groaned. If her problem was anything like the problem she had had earlier, with anger and lust fighting against each other, then it was not a problem he could discuss with her in front of Ecklie.
"Oh no," he said as lightly as he could, "not again."
"The memory card from my digital camera was stolen and switched with a blank," she told him with a stern look. "The only time the camera was out of my possession was at the crime scene."
Gil's stomach tightened. Well, he wasn't sure that her problem was better or worse than their problems earlier in the shift.
When she heard Nick's voice calling out to her, she stopped and turned. She had been on her way out of the lab, coat and purse in hand. but, she retraced her steps down the hallway of the forensics lab, until she found the room in which Bruce Eiger's toy box had been examined by Nick and Sara. The male criminalist was holding a file folder and his expression was difficult to cipher.
Wordlessly, he handed the folder over. She looked at its label and saw her father's name written in black ink. She sighed and looked up at him. He cleared his throat and then said, "I didn't open it. I don't think Sara did, either. But... I thought you might want to see it."
"Thank you, Nicky," she said quietly, her face flushing as she toyed with the edge of the folder. "I... I don't know if I want to open it or not."
He put a friendly hand on her shoulder. "I'll give you the room, okay? Take your time."
She looked at him and smiled a bit. She nodded and then made her way over to the table, before she opened the file. It wasn't until Nick had left her alone that she started flipping through the blackmail material he had on her father; she didn't want anyone else seeing what she was going to uncover.
Never in her life had she ever considered tampering with evidence. However, seeing the photos of Lindsey, Lily, and of herself---taken over a period of years---along with some of the more condemning evidence against her father, she hadn't considered that she had much of a choice in the matter. When she saw the pictures of Catherine with Gil, in his townhouse, and with Lady Heather, at the dominion, she panicked and grabbed everything she thought was too damning and stuffed the papers and photographs into her purse.
Her father wasn't a good man, and she had left enough evidence behind to uphold that belief. But, the worst of the worst would never been examined by anyone at that lab. And her secrets and her family would never be scrutinised by her coworkers.
As she zipped up her purse, Gil stepped into the room. "Nick said you were in here," he said quietly. "What did Eiger have on Sam?"
"Nothing too surprising," she lied, turning and smiling at him. She shrugged and rolled her eyes slightly as she slipped her purse over her shoulder. "Nothing you can send him to jail for. Mostly... just affairs. Like those are a shock."
He smiled a bit and rubbed her arm. "Are you finished?"
"Very," she murmured. "What's up?"
"Well, Brass is meeting with Eiger's mother... and we made plans to go out for drinks afterwards... I thought perhaps you'd like to join us?"
She nodded. "Alright... just let me go home first, okay?" she asked. She wanted to get the evidence out of her purse before she decided to have a drink; the longer she kept it in her purse, the longer she tempted fate and she did not want to get caught concealing and compromising evidence. "I want to see Lindsey."
"Sure," he agreed. "I'll pick you up in... an hour?"
She smiled and when she was sure no one was looking, she leaned in and kissed him. "Sounds good," she murmured. "See you then."
"Yeah," Jim said, "I think I'd take Fiji."
Catherine smiled. "I'm with you on this one."
"Excellent, shall I make the reservations?" he joked.
She chuckled and sipped her martini, before sharing a smile with Gil. He seemed to be examining her, when she wasn't looking; she wondered what evidence he was searching for, but refused to ask him about it. She wondered if he could see the guilty look in her eyes, if he sensed what she had done.
His smile stretched and then Jim asked him a question, so he looked away to answer it. She listened to their conversation for a while and then excused herself to go to the restaurant's ladies' room.
Upon using the facilities, she found blood against the skin between her legs. She slumped down and breathed a sigh of relief.
"Finally," she muttered as she reached into her purse and retrieved a tampon.
As she exited the bathroom stall and walked to the row of sinks, she thought about why her body had acted so bizarrely. She realised she could be miscarrying, but she wasn't feeling the cramps she associated with her first miscarriage; she wondered if the delay in her cycle could be related to the tension between her and Gil, and between her and her daughter. There had been plenty of changes in her life, after her job promotion, and she allowed herself to think that those changes could have thrown her system off.
When she returned to their table, she felt happier than she had a few hours earlier---even though she knew she wasn't completely out of the woods yet. She smiled at Gil and as she walked around him to get to her seat, she affectionately touched his shoulder.
He reached up and put his hand over hers. "Missed you," he said quietly, once she was seated.
Catherine smiled. "Oh yeah?"
Jim snorted. "He just didn't want you to skip out without paying our tab," he teased in a gruff voice.
She laughed softly. "I was told the drinks were on you guys," she replied. "That's the only reason I came out tonight. Free booze."
Both men laughed, too, and then they started talking about other things, things further away from the case.