"May I join you?"
Catherine turned and looked at the man standing behind her. Normally, she would have at least given him a chance to prove himself to her; however, she was supposed to be meeting Gil at the bar after he was finished in court so she didn't think it would be a good idea to encourage flirting with another man.
He was attractive, though, so her apologetic tone sounded more sincere to her ears when she shook her head and told him that she was meeting someone.
The next time she heard that question being asked, she recognised Gil as the speaker. She grinned as she turned to look at him.
"You may," she purred.
As Gil took the stool next to hers as his own, he signaled the bartender and ordered a glass of single malt scotch. Catherine watched him, her grin fading into a smile, and when he turned to look at her, she brought her martini glass up to her lips for a quick sip of her cocktail.
"How was court?" she asked quietly as she reached out and rubbed his arm.
Gil put his hand over hers and smiled. "Slam dunk," he told her. "So, I'm celebrating."
"By having a drink with me in public?" she asked.
"And by taking you home after," he told her with a discrete wink.
Catherine chuckled quietly and nodded, before lifting her eyes back to his. "Alright," she agreed.
Gil sipped his scotch and watched her. She felt her cheeks flushing under his gaze; she cleared her throat an arched an eyebrow, hoping the wordless question would stop his visual study of her. It didn't. He raised an eyebrow in wordless reply and continued to let his eyes wander over her face and torso.
He smiled at her. "Yes, my dear?"
"Stop looking at me," she whispered.
He smirked. "I'm celebrating," he reminded her, "and I want to celebrate by looking at you."
"Only by looking at me?" she asked.
"For now," he replied.
Catherine laughed a little, before they settled into easy conversation about court, Catherine's last shift, and other things in their lives. Gil asked about Lindsey, and Catherine went out of her way to ask about Gil's specimens, surprising both of them in the process.
After a while, Catherine notice a woman at the other end of the bar giving Gil sultry looks---looks which he didn't seem to notice.
She reached out and touched his arm. "You have an admirer," she murmured.
She discretely pointed at the other woman, a brunette, when she was talking with the bartender and not giving Gil her best bedroom eyes. Gil's cheeks flushed and then he turned back to look at Catherine.
"She... was looking at me?"
Catherine smiled and nodded. "She was. Why don't you go over and say hi?"
Gil's eyes widened. "I'm here with you!" he hissed.
"Yeah... but, I'm not offended if you want to shop around a little bit," she pointed out. "You're celebrating. Maybe you should go get that woman's phone number for later," she suggested.
She chuckled. "What? She looks like a perfectly respectable woman," she said, "and she seems interested in you."
"Why do you want me to talk to her?"
"You need to get out in the world," she told him.
He rolled his eyes. "I am out in the world," he said with a wave of his hand. "And I am out in the world with you. We are out... not exactly on a date, but we're having drinks and we'll be leaving together---" he paused and sighed. "Besides," he continued, "how do you know she's not... a defense lawyer or... or... or a drug dealer or..."
Catherine laughed. "You really think she's a drug dealer?" she asked in a quiet voice.
"Well, we have to be careful," Gil pointed out, "because we spend so much time in the public eye. We work for the victims... for the prosecution. We can't let other people challenge our credibility... we can't give them reasons to challenge our credibility."
Her eyes narrowed. "But, you have no problem with us being involved," she said softly.
"No one really knows," he reminded her. "Besides, we're both public figures, involved on separate teams. We're not doing anything wrong. You're a good citizen and so am I."
"How do you know she isn't?"
He shrugged and took her hand into his. "I don't... but I'm enjoying my time with you, here and now, and I don't want to take that chance."
Catherine nodded and smiled a little. "Alright," she murmured. "No taking chances tonight."
She looked into his eyes and remembered a time when he pushed her to take chances she was afraid to take. She was registering to graduate over coffee at their favourite diner; it had been a stressful time and he had supported her, encouraged her to take the big step she had been training for over the past few years. He had looked at her with his big blue eyes, an earnest expression on his face, and told her that she'd take the chance and do the best she could do---since it was all there was left to do. She had never felt more comforted before; she wondered how he felt after she told him that he didn't have to take any chances and if the two events were even the slightest bit related.
After their drinks, Catherine paid their tab and then they left. She smiled when Gil put his arm around her shoulders as they walked towards her car, and before she moved to the driver's side door, he turned her towards him for a gentle kiss.
"Celebrating again?" she asked teasingly.
"You bet," he murmured as he stepped away from her.
Once they arrived at Catherine's house, they found Lindsey in bed and Lily on her way out. She was dressed up; it looked like she was going out on a date, but Gil didn't want to ask. Catherine didn't seem to want to ask, either. In fact, it seemed to Gil as if Catherine just wanted her mother out of the house. Gil didn't mind; he wanted to do things for which Lily couldn't be around.
"Wine?" she asked as she made her way into the kitchen.
Gil smiled and grabbed her wrist before she walked too far past him. "No," he said when she whirled around and looked at him.
"You want to celebrate, though, don't---"
"We'll celebrate in bed," he told her with a boyish smile. "My celebration, my rules."
Catherine's face melted into a smile that reached her eyes. He felt his stomach tighten as he looked at her in that moment. When her smile was warm and genuine, it warmed him as well.
"Okay," she murmured, brushing her long bangs out of her eyes, "let's go to bed."
It didn't take them long to make their way from the kitchen to the bedroom, but after that, Gil tried to get them to slow down. Catherine wanted to take her clothes off right away, but he stopped her; he nudged her towards the bed and joined her once she was seated comfortably.
"We both have to work tomorrow, you know," she murmured.
"I don't have to work until midnight, though," he replied, "so I can sleep during the day, tomorrow."
Catherine laughed quietly. "What'll I do, then?"
"Tire yourself out so you sleep really soundly?" he suggested.
She laughed again and leaned in to kiss him. He cupped her cheek as their lips touched and when the kiss deepened, he ran his fingers through her hair until he was cupping the back of her head. She purred against his mouth and slid her hands from his chest to his shoulders as she inched closer to him.
Gil pulled her into his lap and kept one of his hands on her hip while the other explored her leg. He took pleasure in the way she shivered against his body when he found sensitive areas around her knees and upper thighs; when she rocked her body against his lap, he groaned and tightened his hold on her.
"Care to move this along?"
He looked up at her and smiled as he shook his head.
Catherine pouted. "Gil..."
He leaned up and kissed her pouted lower lip.
"C'mon," she whispered.
"Let me take my time," he whispered in reply. "Please?"
She nodded after looking into his eyes for a few minutes. Gil smiled and kissed her again, allowing himself to give into the sensation of having Catherine in his arms.
He didn't want anyone else. He wanted her. He hated that she didn't want him to have all of her, but he knew that he had contributed to her reluctance to recommit; he knew that words hadn't worked so well the first few times, so he hoped to sway her into recommitment with his actions.
She moaned quietly after several long kisses and when he pulled back to work on taking her shirt off, she was breathing hard enough so her breasts heaved against her lacy bra with each inhalation. Once her shirt was on the ground, he leaned in and kissed the silky smooth tops of each fleshy swell; Catherine shivered and whispered his name with every brush of his lips against her skin.
He took her bra off, letting it join the shirt on the floor, and then he put his mouth to better use. He kissed his way around her left breast while gently cupping her right breast with his hand; he drew her nipple into his mouth and while holding it between his teeth, he flicked his tongue over it. She gasped and wriggled until he moved onto her other breast; as he laved the right breast with similar attentions, she moaned and pressed down against his lap while threading her fingers through his hair.
"Gil," she whispered, "what has gotten into you?"
"Nothing, my dear," he murmured. He decided not to tell her of his plan---to seduce her into commitment with actions, to worm his way back into her heart---because he was afraid her fears and their history would influence her too much.
"You're very thorough," she breathed.
"I'm celebrating," he reminded her.
Catherine smiled down at him. "Apparently," she murmured.
He teased her body until she was almost vibrating and then he eased her down on the bed to finish undressing her. He kissed as much of her skin as she could; he didn't undress until she growled rather insistently.
"Hurry," she whispered.
"Catherine... be patient," he told her.
"Get down here," she shot back.
He chuckled and joined her on the mattress. She snaked one of her legs out an wrapped it around his waist, drawing him towards her as he lowered his body down, and then she kissed him when he was close enough.
"I really want you now," she whispered.
"Yeah," he murmured, "I really want you, too."
A few minutes later, he was sliding into her body, groaning under his breath as she shifted and embraced him with a moan of her own.
She tried to push him to go farther, faster, but he controlled his thrusts more than she had expected him to. He thrust slowly, shallowly, and didn't let her urge him on until he was ready for more. By that point, she was whimpering and scratching her nails over his back and shoulders. The light pain made his blood boil and spurred him on even more.
Catherine turned her head as she felt tears welling up in her eyes. She didn't understand why she was crying, why she was so affected by Gil's physical affections; it confused her more than she was willing to admit.
He kissed her shoulder and arm until she turned back to look at him.
"Hey," he whispered.
She smiled and let him wipe her cheeks dry. "Hey," she whispered. She leaned in and kissed his lips. "That... that was... really great," she murmured.
"A worthy celebration," he agreed as he pulled her into his arms.
She kissed his chest and hugged him close. She wondered if she would ever feel that close to another person again, if Gil was her second chance at happiness, and if she was blowing it by insisting that they have some sort of bizarre, open relationship.
The next day, while she worked and while Gil slept in her bed, she was still wondering the same things. By the time she returned to the lab with samples for Mia, her head was throbbing from trying to answer the questions she couldn't answer on her own.
When she saw Nick and Warrick walking and talking with each other, she felt her face light up. A drink and some less heavy conversation would help brighten her mood and refresh her outlook on her life, she thought, so she caught up to them and put her arms around them.
"Oh, hey, guys," she told them, "I could really use a drink. You want to join me?"
"I'd love a drink," Warrick told her, "but we made plans, though."
"You did?" she asked, hoping she didn't sound too disappointed.
"Tomorrow," Warrick promised.
"Rain check," Nick told her.
She sighed and gave up. She looked at her watch and saw that Gil would be arriving soon; she wasn't sure if she was ready to face him yet, so she went to the locker room and grabbed her things.
A couple of hours later, her night had gone from exhausting to upsetting. She had met Adam Novak and thought he was relatively attractive and charming; she thought some meaningless flirtations might relax her or even help her figure out what she wanted from her relationship with Gil.
When he walked her to her car, when he kissed her, she knew she didn't want to continue kissing him. He wasn't the right person---she knew that much.
She pushed him away. "I can't do this tonight... I... I'll call you," she said quietly.
He pushed the door closed. "What the hell is your problem?" Adam demanded.
She tugged on the door but couldn't free it from his weight. A brief flutter of fear stirred her insides; for a moment she thought she was back with Eddie, that they were having one of their fights, but then she looked into Adam's dark eyes and realised that it had been years and years since she was Eddie's girl.
"Go to hell," she told him, giving the door one more tug.
Adam had released the door, so it opened---but not before it hit Catherine in the cheekbone. She groaned and felt the pain seep into her skull, so similar to pain from years and years ago. She knew if she rode it out it would fade away, but she also knew that a drink would help just as much.
"You're not worth the trouble," he growled in her ear before walking away.
Catherine leaned against her vehicle and watched him go back into the bar. She waited until she couldn't see him anymore before she got into her car and drove away.
She didn't feel safe until she was at her house. She went into her bedroom and found her secret stash of emergency cigarettes---always kept in a pair of shoes she never wore in the back of her closet, since she quit smoking when she started working at the lab.
She smiled wryly when she realised that when she was Eddie's girl, her safe haven was Gil's home; he would take her in without asking questions, so she always knew that was best place to go.
After her bedroom door was closed, she sat on her bed and smoked one cigarette as she willed her mind and body to relax.
An hour later---and two more cigarettes later---she was curling up on her bed, ready for sleep.
Despite everything on her mind, she did fall asleep. She was very disappointed when the phone rang, though, waking her up from her dreamless rest from her thoughts.
After a groan, she reached out and answered it. "Hello?"
"Gil... tell me this is important," she muttered as she rolled onto her back, "because I'm sleeping---"
"I need you to back me up," he told her. "Please."
"Yeah," she said, cutting him off. "Where do you want me?"
He gave her the address and thanked her. She smiled as she heard the relieved tone in his voice as she put the phone back in its cradle and then she made her way out of bed to get dressed for work.
While he snapped photos, Gil glanced up and saw Catherine approaching the scene. He was glad that they could work together; he wanted to see her again, and they couldn't always get together since they were on different shifts. He was glad they were on different shifts, though, because he didn't feel guilty about being with her---it didn't feel like he was favouring her or doing the team a disservice in any other way. But, they had to schedule their meetings carefully, around their different shifts and the rest of their lives; that made spending time together more of a challenge than Gil wanted it to be.
He knew he had gotten through to her; he had seen the look on her face in the aftermath of sex. Her eyes had softened and with the tears, he knew that she had been very close to changing her mind about their relationship. Some things about Catherine, he was certain of; that was one of them. He wanted to get her alone and talk to her, to see if she was ready to put words to her emotions.
The crime scene, though, wasn't an appropriate place to have that conversation. He knew he would have to wait.
Once she was close enough, he gave her a little smile. "I appreciate this," he told her. "Everyone's out. I'm short."
"You're welcome," she told him.
He studied her and for a moment, he wondered if he had been wrong about her. She was avoiding his eyes and he didn't know what he had done.
He worried, for the first time since she had told him that there was a chance that love wasn't enough, if love really wasn't enough.
When he saw the cut on her face, he was transported back to another time for a split second. He was back to their early friendship, when they'd talk between her sets at The French Palace---when he needed to find someone who understood him, when she welcomed having a positive male influence in her life---and when she would hide scrapes and bruises behind heavy makeup.
"What happened to you?" he asked.
"I walked into a door," she told him. "Can we not talk about it?"
Her response had been so textbook, so like the responses she gave him back in that other time, that he had to resist the urge to pull her aside an demand to know what had happened.
"Save the sermon," Catherine grumbled as she walked away, down the driveway.
"I was a working mother, too, you know," Lily reminded her as she tailed Catherine towards the trash bin, resting at the curb.
"There but for the grace of god," Catherine muttered under her breath.
"Don't just assume that my time means nothing to me---"
Catherine tuned Lily out and lifted the lid of of the bin. Upon finding it empty, she growled and cursed under her breath, before heading back to her car.
"I threw something away," she explained to her mother, "it's gone."
"You're throwing more than you know away," Lily shot back. Catherine wondered if she was talking about Lindsey or Gil, but she didn't dare ask; the last thing she wanted was to have any sort of serious conversation with her mother.
Her ringing phone was a savior. She opened the car door and answered her phone.
"Catherine, it's Greg... found something on the gun," he said quickly.
"Want me to go to PD and---"
"Uh... yeah," she interrupted, "just wait till I get there."
"Will do, boss lady," Greg replied.
She hung up and looked at her mother. "Mom..."
"Go... go. I'll be here when you get back."
Relieved, Catherine watched her walk away. She sighed and hopped into her car. She couldn't shake the feeling that her mother knew more about her relationship with Gil than she refused to share; she wasn't sure how she felt about her mother knowing that much.
Gil did not like Adam Novak. Not one bit, he silently decided as he listened to the lawyer list off the events of his day. If he had to define the reason why he didn't like the man, he would have had trouble doing so. But, there was something about Novak that bothered him. It was similar to his second reaction to the man that had killed his girlfriend and plotted an elaborate kidnapping scheme to fool everyone; it was also similar to his first reaction to Eddie Willows. It was something in his gut, twisting tightly, telling him to be wary of the man in front of him.
"I was deposing a witness," Novak continued, "left the office late. Stopped at the Peppermill for a burger. Medium rare, no onions. Got to the Highball around eleven. Met this redhead... bought her a drink and..."
He stopped when the door opened. Curious, Gil turned and saw Catherine step into the room.
After she cleared her throat, she said, "Mr. Novak, I'm Catherine Willows, CSI."
"You want to know what happened next?" Adam Novak said, sounding slightly amused. "Ask the redhead."
Gil looked at Catherine again. She avoided his eyes and barely looked at Detective Vartann. He turned back to the detective beside him and said, "Continue the interview, please."
"You got it," Vartann said.
He stood up and walked towards Catherine. Her eyes narrowed when Gil neared, but he ignored the expression on her face and motioned towards the hallway.
She sighed and rolled her eyes before stepping back. Gil shut the door behind them and guided her into the observation room attached to that particular interview room.
"Don't," she said softly.
He bit his tongue to keep his questions at bay. He turned his attention to the interview unfolding in front of them.
"At a bar that time of night... we're all after the same thing, aren't we? I came onto her, she was into me."
Gil's stomach twisted. When Adam turned to the glass and spoke about how he knew when a woman would 'give way,' and that Catherine had been ready to do just that, his stomach twisted more.
"I put my arm around her waist. She moved in," Novak continued. "One minute she's got her tongue down my throat. The next, she puts on the brakes. She's a bitch and a tease---she told me to get lost..."
Gil frowned. He did not like the way Novak described kissing Catherine; he found it inaccurate. He didn't like the way he spoke about her, either; words like 'bitch' were inappropriate when referring to any woman. Even when he and Catherine had problems, he never spoke about her like that. He didn't even think about her like that. It was too condescending. He felt his stomach twist once more.
"We should ask for his clothes," Catherine said, shaking him from his thoughts, "black leather jacket, black t-shirt, jeans."
He released the hold on his tongue and asked what he really wanted to ask her. "What else should we ask him, Catherine?"
"This is what I was trying to tell you," she said quietly.
"Yeah," he responded, "but you didn't, so now I'm way behind. Is he telling the truth?"
"He's not lying about anything that pertains to me," she admitted.
He turned and studied Catherine. Novak's comportment towards her, his references to her behavior, and the cut on Catherine's cheek all came together; it felt almost like a flash of déjà vu, except she wasn't holding a sleeping baby on his doorstep.
"He hit you," he said softly.
"No... it was an accident," she told him, "but, by the time it happened, he wasn't who I thought he was... and... that scared me."
Novak left shortly after that. Gil put his hand on her arm. "Cath---"
"Let's go to work," she said, shaking her head slightly.
He assumed she was alright. He nodded and tried to close off his emotional side. She gave him a small smile and then walked towards the door.
Once they were walking down the hall, Gil said, "You have to recuse yourself from processing evidence. This guy's a lawyer. He could claim prejudicial treatment. Your whole life will become public record."
"I have nothing to be ashamed of," she told him.
Gil wanted to shake her, wanted to ask about Sam and her days before becoming a criminalist, about her relations with Lady Heather, and about her after work behavior. Instead, he said, "We all live in glass houses, Catherine. You gotta be careful where you take your shower."
Catherine avoided Gil until she couldn't anymore. She was angry at herself and at him---she couldn't believe she let him believe she did something wrong, she couldn't believe he was bent out of shape over her going to a bar and meeting someone new.
"Gil," she said as he walked down the hallway, writing something down in a file.
He looked up and she joined him.
"I'd ask you out for a drink... but under the circumstances, it's uh..." She trailed off when he looked at her and returned his focus to what he was holding. She sighed. "Okay, how long is this going to go on?"
"I don't know, Catherine," he said quietly.
"Gil, it was an act of omission," she said, defending herself.
"How many times have we heard a public defender say that?"
"I went out after work," she protested. "Is it a crime to want a little human contact?"
"I guess that's why I don't go out," he replied before walking away.
Catherine stared at his back until he walked around a corner and disappeared from sight.
She went to the break room and poured herself a cup of coffee. She wasn't ready to go home and she wasn't ready to run into Gil again. He seemed to be working, so she figured the room she was in was safe territory.
A couple of days ago, she was seriously considering a commitment. She thought she wanted to go to him and tell him she didn't want them to have an open relationship anymore; she thought she was ready to open up and let him in and she thought he was ready to settle down and be with her. He had seemed to be, anyway. But, after his reaction to her activities with Adam Novak, she didn't know what to think.
She thought back to their night in the bar, after his most recent court appearance, and about how he had been uncomfortable meeting someone there without knowing who they were and what they did with their lives. She figured his reaction to her was connected to that, somehow, but she wished he didn't have to hold her to the same standards he held himself.
She looked up when Nick and Warrick came into the room. She smiled, but she knew it wasn't a very genuine smile; they smiled back and while Nick went to the coffee machine, Warrick went to the table and sat down.
"What's up?" he asked quietly.
She shook her head as she pressed her lips together. "Nothing," she said quietly.
He snorted. "Yeah, right."
"Like we don't know when Mom and Dad are fighting," Nick said with an easy smile.
Catherine chuckled and rolled her eyes. "Mom and Dad are not fighting," she protested.
"Yeah, right," Warrick repeated.
Nick came over with two cups of coffee in his hands. "That's why you two haven't spoken much at all over the past couple of days."
"How do you---"
"Everyone talks here," Nick reminded her, "and you two have been friends for... well... since way before I came here. So when you guys have a problem, everyone knows about it."
"We're not that exciting," Catherine muttered.
"Nah, but you're kind of like family around here," Warrick reminded her. "What happened? He got pissed cuz you went out and met someone who could have been the killer?"
"I think he's just pissed because I went out and met someone," Catherine growled as she wrapped her hands around her coffee mug. "Like I go out every night to try to pick up bad guys," she added, still growling.
Warrick's eyebrows jumped up a bit as he looked at her. Catherine sensed there were things he wanted to say, but with Nick in the room, he couldn't say any of them without revealing their secret relationship. She swallowed hard when she looked back at him and then she turned and glanced at Nick.
Nick shrugged. "He's just... a private kind of guy. A lone wolf. He doesn't understand that there are different types of people, and some of those types need to socialise with other people."
"Yeah, but he doesn't get mad at you guys when you go to bars and take girls home," she pointed out. "It's a complete double standard. Men won't discredit themselves... but women will."
The Texan smiled. "Nah... he just doesn't hear about our activities."
Warrick chuckled. "He heard about your prostitute friend."
"Yeah, and he wasn't very happy about her," Nick reminded them. He leaned forward and squeezed Catherine's shoulder. "Don't worry. He'll get over it. You didn't do anything wrong... he just doesn't like it when our lives run into our cases."
Catherine nodded slowly. "I hope you're right," she told him.
"Besides, in the meantime, you've got us to keep you company," Nick added. "We could go out for drinks tonight, if you want."
"Rain check," Catherine murmured, smiling at him. "I should go home and spend some time with Lindsey."
"I'll walk you out," Warrick offered.
She smiled at the other man. "Okay," she said quietly. "Just... let me get my stuff."
A few minutes later, after leaving Nick and going to the locker room, Warrick was walked with her down the hall. He put his hand on her upper back and waited for her to speak first.
"He's mad," was all she was able to say.
"You guys are more than friends," he pointed out.
She sighed and shrugged. "We... were... trying to figure out a way to be us without being together... and... we were still allowed to see other people," she explained in a quiet voice. "I wasn't sure I was ready to commit and I didn't know if he was ready, either. He broke it off the last time... saying he needed to figure things out. And I don't want to trap him in anything. When we're good, it's great, Warrick... but when it's bad... it's really bad."
"Yeah," he agreed.
"And he knew I was seeing other people. Not seriously... but... occasionally. And he was okay with that. He could've seen other people, too," she continued as they walked into the lobby, towards the building's exit, "but... he got pretty angry with me."
"I think he wants more. Or... he thinks it's more," he said after a couple of minutes, once they were leaving the lab and heading towards the parking lot. "And you going out and meeting strange men in bars is throwing him for a loop."
"Yeah," she mumbled, crossing her arms.
Warrick squeezed her shoulder. "Do you want more?"
"Sometimes I think so," she admitted, "but we're always going to have problems."
"No relationship's perfect," he reminded her. "You think it should be smooth sailing?"
She chuckled as they approached her car. "Warrick, I was married to Eddie Willows. I know relationships aren't always smooth sailing."
"Yeah, but that's completely different."
Catherine cocked her head to one said as she looked up at him. "What do you mean?"
"This thing you have with Gil isn't a rebellion, it isn't... strip clubs and champagne, drugs and rock bands on the weekend," he pointed out. "It's not even meeting someone at a bar and dating him for a few months. You guys have ups and downs and history and everything that normal couples don't have. It's never been easy---you're two completely different people, so there's gonna be friction, Cath. But, it's gotta be about how you two resolve the problems."
"That's why we had this whole... open relationship thing," she replied. "Together when we want to be... apart when we want to be."
"Why now?" he asked. "You guys can date without it being a big thing... Ecklie can't say anything because you're supervisors on different shifts. Why don't you try something more... serious? See how it goes?"
"And get my heart broken again?" she asked.
"How do you know---"
She cut in. "Because I know how we are when we're together. Something happens. Sara happens, I happen... something happens and we can't be together anymore. And it hurts more than anything ever hurt before."
"So, what? You gonna pick up a new guy every week to avoid being hurt?" he asked.
"You're frustrating," she grumbled.
Warrick smiled. "Your point?"
Catherine gently shoved him. "No point, I guess." She paused and sighed. After a minute, she shook her head. "He's gonna hurt me again... and I don't know how many times I can keep..."
"What happens if one day he meets someone that doesn't want to have a casual thing?" he asked when she trailed off.
"Then, I'll lose him," she answered quietly.
"Wouldn't you rather have him to begin with?"
Catherine looked up at Warrick. "Either way it's going to end sometime in the future," she told him with a heavy shrug. "We're like... I don't know. But, we always end up hurting each other---"
"Yeah, but you always make up," he interrupted. "You two fight and make up all the time. You cheated on him... and he took you back. He told you he needed time or space or whatever, and then you took him back. You two will always go back to each other, no matter what. Why not try to make it a little bit more official? Give him a little of what he wants."
"Did you walk me out here to speak for him?" she asked, eyebrow arched.
Warrick smiled a little. "I'm speaking for you, too. You're just scared. Can't go into a relationship scared, Cath. It wrecks everything. Open up, let him in."
"Love isn't everything---"
"Nah, but you guys are everything to each other," he reminded her.
He smirked. "Who's been your partner on the grave shift longer than anyone else?"
"And who do you go to when you're happy or sad or lonely?"
"Gil, or you, but---"
"How long have you known Gris'?"
Catherine blushed and nudged him again. "Way too long," she muttered.
"Yeah, exactly. Can you even think of a big moment in your life where Gris' wasn't there?"
"Well... there were a few when I was a teenager," she replied, her cheeks still flushed, "and I didn't know him then."
Warrick chuckled. "Go home, see your daughter... and call him later."
"That's your advice?" she asked.
He nodded and hugged her close. "Yeah," he murmured into her hair, "that's my advice. See you tomorrow, okay?"
Catherine pulled back and smiled at him. "Yeah... okay. Thanks for listening to me."
"What are friends for, right?"
"Right," she agreed, nodding her head a little before stepping towards her car door.
Gil looked up when he heard footsteps on the driveway in front of him. He had been planning on going to Catherine's house, to see if he could apologise, but seeing the woman standing twenty feet away made his journey easier.
"H-hi," she said softly. "Is this a bad time?"
He shook his head but didn't say anything.
"You're going out," she told him.
"I... it... you're here now," he replied. "What's on your mind?"
He watched her shift her weight and look down at her feet. When she looked back at him, her eyes were wider than they had been. "I'm sorry," she said quietly. "I should have... we should..." she trailed off and sighed. "This is hard, Gil."
"I'm sorry, too," he said, when she stared back down at her feet. Her eyes snapped up to his. He smiled a bit and tilted his head. "I forget that we're different people... that you like to go out. I should have been more concerned. I should have made sure you're okay."
"I am," she whispered.
"He scared you," he reminded her. Catherine nodded. Gil reached out and squeezed her hand. "I'm sorry I wasn't there for you, like I should be. I should have recognised the signs---"
"It's not like that," she murmured. She sucked in a sharp breath and said, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have encouraged him."
"Why not?" he asked.
"I'm with you," she said in a quiet voice. "I should start acting like it."
Gil blinked. He wasn't sure he had heard her correctly. For a moment, he thought his hearing had faded and he had imaged the entire conversation.
She looked up at him. "Would you please say something?"
"You're... with me?" he echoed. "What about... our... together and not together---"
"I was scared," she admitted. "I'm still scared. I'm scared you're going to hurt me again. I'm scared that I'm going to hurt you again. I can't lose you... as a friend. We've been friends for too long, Gil. And if this doesn't work out---"
"Can we try... something more serious?" she asked quietly. "I mean... I know we're already sleeping at each other's houses and you're hanging out with Lindsey again... we just haven't admitted that anything's changed."
Gil felt one of his eyebrows lift up. "You... want to..."
"If you don't want to... if you're seeing someone, and your anger towards me has just been some sort of unfair hallucination, then I understand, but---"
He put his finger over her lips and silenced her. He had heard enough and he was happier than he'd been in a long time; he didn't know what had finally pushed her around to his way of thinking, but he wasn't going to second guess its influence on her and their relationship. He wanted her to belong to him and he wanted to be the only one that belonged to her.
"No more dating other people," he said softly.
Catherine shook her head. "Just you," she whispered. She smiled a bit. "Since we're on different teams... since no one could cry foul... and it's not the business of any court... we should try it, don't you think?"
"I think we should try it," he agreed, smiling at her, "since we're on different teams."
She smiled more and stepped closer to him. "You know, you can't date other people, either, now," she whispered.
Gil snorted before he closed the gap and kissed her lips. He brushed his lips over hers; then he used his tongue to seduce her into a deeper kiss while his arms wrapped around her body. Catherine returned the embrace. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her body against his as the kiss warmed their bodies.
"I love you," she whispered.
Gil lifted his head a bit and looked at her. He smiled. "I love you, too," he murmured. He kissed her forehead. "If it helps any, I'm scared, too."
She smiled and nodded. Gil kissed her again and then nudged her in the direction of his townhouse.