DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of these characters. I do this only for my sanity.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Being Prepared
By Debbie


The elevator doors opened slowly, and Catherine trudged her weary body inside, ready for the trip down to her car and then to the relative peace and quiet of her sister's home. She'd just dropped Lindsay off at the Circus Circus shopping mall and had promised her that mom wouldn't worry and she was just to have a good time.

Suddenly, a loud thump and the obvious grinding to a halt of the slowly falling car brought her out of her tired musings. She muttered, "Damn, that's all I need."

A chuckle in the corner told her she'd not only said her words out loud but, thankfully, she wasn't alone in the now stationary car.

She looked up and came face to face with the laughter filled eyes of Wendy Simms.

"Wendy? What are you doing here?"

"I've been spending my well-earned money." She held up two armfuls of shopping bags, adorned with a number of store names even Catherine, the mother of a fashion conscious teenager, failed to recognize. She raised her eyebrows and asked the same question of Catherine. "You?"

"I've just dropped Lindsay off to go shopping with her friends." She laughed. "But, heaven help her if she comes home with as many bags as you."

Wendy joined in Catherine's laughter before both women started as the car appeared to drop an alarming few feet of free-fall and the interior lights went out leaving just the glow of an emergency bulb.

Wendy looked up startled by Catherine's obvious gasp of terror. She was surprised to see that Catherine's face had turned ashen and her breath was coming out in quick short gasps. Wendy knew enough to know that Catherine was on the verge of a panic attack; she was amazed to think that was the case. The CSI had always appeared so in control of her emotions Wendy would never have dreamt she had fears.

She dropped her purchases and reached across to touch Catherine's arm in quiet support, gently encouraging, trying to make light of the situation with a joke. "Hey Catherine, don't worry. We'll be out of here before Lindsay's managed to spend $20, you'll see."

Catherine turned slightly, as if her daughter's name had caught her interest; her breath still rapid.

"Come on, Cath, calm down, huh? It's not too bad; at least you get to spend time with me. Tell me something I don't know about you, not that I know anything really, so whatever you tell me will be new, just talk, about…"

Wendy's rambling voice made Catherine smile, and her breathing gradually slowed down as the words and the soft touch on her forearm began to work through her fears.

"Tell you something you don't know about me? How about I tell you that I'm scared of small places; especially small, dark places."

"You know, I never would've believed that of you."

Catherine shrugged and gave a wry smile.

"I never used to be. Before, you could always rely on me to crawl into the smallest, darkest places; my sister used to call me The Mole. Now, after Linds nearly drowning in a submerged car, after Nick being buried alive, and after Sara lay under that car for days, I realize just how dangerous it is, how close I came to losing all three, how dangerous the small, dark places really are, and it scares me."

Wendy stared at Catherine; it was the longest speech she'd heard from the other woman on anything other than DNA results and crime scenes. Grinning to herself, she realized her initial attraction to Catherine hadn't gone away, she wanted to know more about Catherine, and here was her chance.

She let go of Catherine's arm and reached into her purse, pulling out a short, sturdy object.

Turning a small handle, she cranked the machine up for a few minutes, feeling Catherine's eyes boring into her as she watched her every move.

Catherine watched as Wendy finally stopped winding and reached above her head to hang the machine on an overhead rail. She pressed a button, and the elevator was suddenly illuminated with a halogen light source.

Catherine couldn't help the giddy burst of laughter; it was as if light meant freedom.


Catherine looked pointedly at the light and then to Wendy's large purse.

"D'uh, I was a girl scout. You know, be prepared and all that. I never go anywhere, without…"

"A girl scout, huh?" Catherine interrupted. "Tell me more. Tell me about your family; keep my mind off this. Please."

The two women chatted animatedly for a while, both regaling the other of tales from their childhood. As Wendy told Catherine of her large family and the good times they'd had growing up on the coast of California, Catherine forgot all about their predicament and actually began to enjoy herself, enough so that she bantered tales of her own, more wayward upbringing. The two women slowly migrated to sitting on the floor, leaning comfortably against the wall, their shoulders just touching.

Eventually, they heard distant voices and sounds of men working overhead; rescue was not far away.

Catherine turned to Wendy and asked, "Do you remember the very first thing you said to me? Did you mean it?"

"About going out to lunch? Yeah, but not to see any dead bodies, that was just, I don't know what that…"

"No, not about lunch, about the hugs in 'Frisco?"

"Oh yeah, I'm an expert in the touchy-feely. You want one?"

Wendy looked at Catherine, surprised to see a hint of a blush as she nodded her head eagerly.

The two women hugged each other tight, Wendy feeling a tremble in Catherine as a scratching noise above their heads alerted them to the closeness of safety.

Catherine whispered, "Thanks for the light, Wendy, I needed it. Don't suppose, you'd take me for a coffee, too?"

Wendy grinned against Cath's shoulder, hugs she could do, coffee she could do, and maybe, by tonight, she could also do dinner.

There really was nothing as good as being prepared.

The End

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