DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Consequences of Clubbing
By Myck's Nyx
I passed out as soon as I got through the door and onto my bed. I didn't even take my boots off.
All day Sunday, through the means of sleep, exercise, and grocery shopping, I somewhat successfully avoided thinking about what had happened the night before. That night, however, when I was awake only to maintain my schedule and not doing anything but walking back and forth from the fridge to the couch, the events of the previous evening began to seep into my thoughts.
First came the images of Catherine, at the door, at the bar, on the floor. Next there was the expression on her face as she saw me across the room and her subsequent fall to the ground. After that all I could remember was the places we touched. My hand on her arm, her shoulder, in her hand. Our fingers interlaced, our forearms grazing as we leaned against the wall, her hip bumping playfully against mine in the parking lot.
Her lips on my cheek. My whole body shuddered as I thought about it. For a few minutes I allowed myself to imagine the warmth of her lips and the lazy smile that crossed them as she drew away from me. But then I was reminded of her words; didn't mean anything, too much alcohol. Part of me was relieved that they had been said then and we wouldn't have to go over it again at the lab, but a bigger part of me was stung, though why, I couldn't say.
God, she had been beautiful, though, hadn't she? My mind's fingers ran over her bare shoulders, her lacy waist, and her clinging skirt. Wait a minute, what was I talking about? This was Catherine Willows we're talking about here. Does it even matter that she would never like me back? Of course not, the real question is why I would like her in the first place? Just because I find out that she's a little less than straight and looks cute in a tight skirt?
Cute? Another part of my brain argued. Cute? No, no, no, cute is an eight week old puppy; Catherine was hot. Beyond hot. She was drop-dead gorgeous. She was an all you can eat buffet on the opposite side of the Mojave Desert.
I stayed awake all night staring at the television screen not really seeing anything but flashing colors. I stopped drinking somewhere around three, no longer having the energy to pull myself off the couch. I must have fallen asleep around nine or ten in the morning, the sun had definitely been up and the news was over, some soap was blaring on the screen instead. I awoke to the sound of a phone ringing right next to my head.
"Ah!" I shouted and jumped up in surprise; the phone was about six inches from my ear. I picked it up, blinking sluggishly, "Yah?"
"Sara?" I sat bolt upright at the sound of her voice, suddenly wide-awake.
"Yeah, hey, look, I just wanted to talk to you for a sec. before we headed into the lab."
"Lab?" My head was still a little fuzzy.
"What time is it?" I asked, reaching for my watch on the end table.
"Do you have something to do? Do you want me to call back? Or we could talk at work."
"No, it's fine, I'm just surprised that I slept for so long. I must've been really a tired."
"So maybe a break wasn't such a bad idea?"
I stiffened at the implication that I wasn't doing my job right, "What do you want, Catherine?"
"Wow, okay, I guess that was the wrong thing to say. Umm I just wanted to make sure you were fine. You know, with everything that happened Saturday night." She actually sounded nervous, like she didn't trust me.
I lashed out. "Don't worry about it, Catherine. I'm not going to tell anyone that you're secretly a flaming dyke!"
"Sara!" Even I knew I had gone too far, and I could hear the strangled hurt in her voice. But I was mad. "I I " she faltered, I suddenly felt really guilty for making her feel so insecure, "Sara, I I don't, I mean I'm not, I- I wasn't questioning you- I trust you. I just meant if you were okay, if we were okay."
The guilt bled into my heart and my anger subsided, I was familiar enough with that tone of voice to know that there was a tightness in her throat- perhaps tears were already making their way quietly down her cheeks,
"I'm sorry, Catherine, I guess I just lost my temper." I rubbed my temple with two fingers, "I'm just stressed." There was a pause. I knew this wasn't enough of an apology, but I didn't know what else to say. "Because of work."
"It's fine." I could hear her sniffle on the other end. "I guess I was pushing you."
"No, you weren't. Christ, Catherine. I really didn't mean to upset you, I shouldn't have said that."
"Look, do you want to maybe grab a coffee before work?"
Startled I said, "What?"
"Coffee, in twenty minutes?"
"Catherine, weren't we just fighting?" I didn't exactly understand what was going on.
"Yeah, we were. But I really don't feel like arguing, this whole thing would be easier face to face."
"Oh." I paused
I must have been quiet for too long because Catherine asked, "Is that a 'no,' then?"
"Huh? Oh, no. I mean yes, coffee sounds great."
"Really?" She actually sounded surprised.
"Yeah, if its okay with you."
"Of course it is, I suggested it. I just didn't really think you'd say yes."
"Well I did."
"So, I think I need more like an hour. I need to shower and it takes me twenty minutes just to get there."
"That's fine. So, an hour then? At the one around from the precinct?"
I hung up and ran to the shower. Okay, so I had just majorly fucked things up and there hadn't been any chance of us getting together anyway- but I could still look nice, right? Maybe we could still be friends. Maybe.
Forty-five minutes later I was jumping in my truck, cursing myself for being late. I had on black jeans and a tight shimmering lavender button-up shirt with mother of pearl buttons under my black leather jacket. A couple inches of my midriff was showing and I knew it wasn't exactly CSI work attire, but I suddenly had the need to prove that I could be attractive.
I even had on mascara and lip-gloss and I dug up a black cord necklace with a silver seashell charm on it. I hadn't worn it since I had left San Francisco. What the hell was wrong with me? I was getting all dressed up for coffee? With Catherine Willows no less! I must be losing my mind!
I spun into a parking place at top speed. I couldn't tell if I had been speeding to avoid being late or if I had just been so stressed out that I hadn't even noticed how fast I was going. I decided on compromise; I hadn't noticed how fast I was rushing so as not to be late. I walked faster, seeing Catherine's car already in the lot. I thought I could even see her form in the window, but wasn't brave enough to really look.
I pushed open the door; I was so nervous that the bell that clanged against the window as I entered made me jump. Get a grip, Sara! She invited you here to clear the air, that's all! I shook myself and looked around. There she was. She hadn't noticed me come in. Dressed in jeans and a red short-sleeved shirt. She was looking out the window, running her fingers through her hair. Bad eighties love songs started to run through my head as I watched her gracefully sip from her coffee cup.
Oh god, oh god. Ohgodohgodohgod. This was bad; this was very, very bad. Too late to turn back down now though, I steadily made my way down the aisle to her booth in the back. She turned at the sound of my heels on the tile floor. She gave me a small smile, but her gaze was suddenly guarded and I remembered my not-so-subtle dyke comment of only an hour before. God. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I always had to let my temper get to me, didn't I?
"Hey." I said, hesitantly. I sat opposite her in the booth. "Umm how are you?"
Catherine looked at her coffee cup and played with the lid. I wondered if these pangs of guilt were ever going to end. "Catherine, I really am sorry about what I said on the phone, I don't know what came over me, I "
"Aren't you going to get any coffee?" she diverted my gaze to the cup in her hands.
"Huh? Oh, yeah."
Feeling a bit like a kicked puppy, but knowing I deserved it, I got up to get in line. Halfway there, however, something took control of my body and I turned around to walk up and stand next to her. I put my fingers in her hair and even though I felt her stiffen at the uninvited contact, I bent to whisper into the top of her head, "I am sorry, Catherine, I really am."
She nodded slightly, but she didn't move.
I ran my fingers through her hair, "I wouldn't," I whispered, "I couldn't," just what was it exactly that I was trying to say?
Luckily, Catherine seemed to know because she reached up and, interlacing my searching fingers with her own, said, "I know. I'm not mad with you, or even sad about what you said, exactly. Its just, well get your coffee and I'll see if I can explain." She squeezed my hand encouragingly.
I nodded and without thinking about it, kissed her slender fingers before unweaving them from mine. She actually smiled at me as I headed back to the line, but her eyes still seemed sad.
Sitting back down with my steaming coffee, I took a few sips in silence. I wanted to speak but I could tell that Catherine needed to get something off her chest, so I waited. I didn't have to wait long.
"I don't want you thinking that I'm mad at you, Sara," she started, "'cause I'm not. I was hurt by what you said, but I know why you said it and I also know you didn't mean it." She took a deep breath. "I was mostly thrown off, especially since I don't know what to call my attraction to women. I honestly don't know if I'm straight or gay or what." She looked at me calculatingly. "Am I boring you?"
"Not at all. Keep going."
"Well," she shook her head, "No, I guess I'll have to start at the beginning. Me and women. Okay, well, I started sleeping with women about the same time I started up with guys- middle of high school. At the time, I didn't really worry about it. I was young. I didn't need a reason to do things- I did what I felt like doing, and that was that. For years- until I met Eddie, really, none of my relationships with men or women lasted very long or meant very much."
At the mention of Eddie I stiffened a bit, but Catherine didn't seem to notice, she was finding her coffee cup a particular point of interest. "After I met Eddie, who I was attracted to didn't really seem to matter much. I don't know if I was ever in love with Eddie. When we first got together, I thought I was. But now it seems like maybe it was just infatuation, or maybe I just liked the control I had over him," she laughed nervously, "I could really make him go crazy."
I felt like raising my hand to say 'Uh! Hello? Table for one, please! Could I get the 'Catherine Willows extra spicy' with a side of 'Catherine Willows makes me crazy?' But I didn't, I just let her continue talking. I couldn't really see where this was going, but I could sense that it was important to her to finish.
"After Eddie's first indiscretion, I got really upset and had a little one of my own. It wasn't really like his, or at least, that's what I tell myself- but really, what is a good reason for cheating? It was revenge, and I had to get really high and a lot of alcohol was consumed before hand. I slept with a girl I worked with. It wasn't anything new to me, but Eddie hadn't known about my versatile sexuality." Catherine had finished her coffee, or it had gone cold. Either way, she didn't seem to feel guilty when she picked up my cup, drank from it, kept it in her hands and continued on with her story. I just let her, but I secretly really needed that coffee. "But I wasn't about to cheat on him with another lying, two-faced man, so anyway, I felt amazingly guilty for being unfaithful and I broke down and told Eddie."
"You what?" I just looked at her incredulously.
She smiled, "I know. I learned that lesson the hard way. It wasn't the first time he hit me, but it was the only time he beat me. Not because I had cheated, but because I told him it was with a woman. He couldn't handle it. He kept screaming at me, kicking me, calling me a stupid dyke," we both flinched at the word, her because it brought back memories, and me because I was beginning to realize why she had taken it so hard and not countered with an insult of her own.
"He told me I had to quit dancing, that I wouldn't have done it if I wasn't around all of those 'whores' all day. At first I said 'no,' but then I just wanted him to stop or take me back or something because I finally agreed."
"Catherine " Catherine looked up and the fury in my eyes went two ways; one half revealed my absolute loathing of Eddie, my clenched teeth clearly revealing that if he weren't already dead, I would have put him in the ground myself. The other part of me was mad at Catherine, for staying with Eddie, for caving to his demands, for feeling guilty enough to tell that son of a bitch about the whole thing in the first place. But I shut up; by the expression on her face, she realized how stupid she had been, she didn't need me to rub it in.
She nodded, "I know, Sara, but you have to understand how fucked up I was back then. I was so high all the time, I was completely hooked on cocaine- I was toying with heroine. All of my and Eddie's money was going towards feeding our addictions, mostly my addiction. I couldn't go six hours without getting the shakes."
Catherine started to constrict, just thinking about it. I put my hand over hers on the coffee table. My heart leapt as she smiled up at me, her blue eyes grateful.
"I was thinking about leaving him, but he had the money, Sara. What I was making dancing was only getting me from one fix to the next, without him, I would have been turning tricks to pay my debts." This time I flinched, the thought of proud, beautiful, life-loving Catherine have to resort to prostitution; I could nearly feel the grimy fingers of willing customers and involuntarily I grabbed her wrist protectively. She just shook her head, "It didn't really matter, two weeks later, I found out I was pregnant with Linds. I ran back to him and he took me with open arms. He was so excited about the baby, he helped me get clean and he eventually got clean himself. At first he thought it was just until the baby came, but I let him know that there was no going back this time. I was going to stay clean and if he wanted anything to do with our baby " she sighed, we'd been over this part before.
"After that, all of that, I didn't look at another woman for years. Not until Eddie and I split. I found I had a hard time trusting men, a harder time trusting them, and loving women just came flooding back to me. I had a series of not-so-serious lovers and then one serious one. Serious enough to introduce her to Lindsey. Lindsey was fine with it, but " she drifted off.
"Eddie?" I guessed.
Catherine nodded, "Eddie was not so fine. He came over one night, really drunk out of his mind. He broke down the door, and he slammed into my room. He had seen Kerry, my I'm not sure if she was my girlfriend, her car out front. He was shouting about how he always knew I was a dyke, he could tell by how I looked at women, that I never looked that way at him, he just went on and on. I freaked out; I was scared what he would do. I knew he would never hurt Lindsey, so I locked Kerry and I in the bathroom just screaming at him to get out, to go home. He said he would, but he was taking Lindsey with him. He said if I didn't 'straighten out,' if I kept seeing women, he was going to get a lawyer and take her form me. I heard her yelling as he grabbed her out of bed and I wanted to run after them but I was so scared."
My hostility toward Eddie for making Catherine feel this way was ever-mounting. I was tempted to dig him up just so I could kill him again. How could he do this to her? How dare he do this to her! All I could do was tighten my grip on her hand, encircle it with both of mine, pushing pressure into her palm with my thumbs. I was relieved when I felt her squeeze my hand in return.
"I was so scared of losing Lindsey that I immediately broke it off with Kerry, which I think was fine by her. I doubt any woman would want to have to face Eddie when he was that angry. There isn't much worth that."
I felt my cheeks reddening to discover Catherine had so little self-worth. I was also very concerned to realize that I would gladly stand between Catherine and that bastard. Somewhere in the back of my mind I realized that I would have done so long before Saturday night. "Catherine, that's ridiculous. If she wasn't willing to fight for you and for Lindsey then she wasn't worth it. Lots of women would gladly put up with that and a lot more for someone like you."
Catherine blushed when she looked at me and I couldn't help doing the same. "Well, you know what I mean. Anyway, go ahead." I watched her smile broaden, "Sorry, I just got a little carried away."
"It's fine. Umm there isn't much else to tell. A year later, almost to the day, Eddie died. I didn't look at another woman the whole time. I even half-heartedly tried men again. About three months after Eddie died, Becky asked me to go to Gipsy with her sometimes. I said 'no' at first, but after a while I began to give up a night off a month. It turned out to be just the release I needed. I never took anyone home; I just went to dance, to get lost in the music, to feel wanted and desirable. And then I saw you there." She looked around as if she were coming out of a daze.
"Uh, Catherine? I get why what I said hurt you, and I am very sorry, but how does what you just told me confuse your sexuality? You sound like a straight up case of bisexual to me."
"Yes and no. On one hand, I'm not sure I have ever really been attracted to men, or if they were just part of a social construct for me. I wasn't raised in the most tolerant of settings; maybe I thought I would have a better chance of getting along if I liked men, too. On the other hand, the way my life has gone it took a long time for me to realize I could even pursue something that wasn't purely physical with a woman, and even now, I'm not one-hundred percent sure that I'd be strong enough." She laughed, "Who knows, maybe I'm just a very misguided a-sexual."
I smirked, "Believe me, you're not." I said it before I could come up with a reason that was plausible and more appropriate than the real one that had just popped into my head.
"What? Why not?" She raised an eyebrow, curiously.
"Just trust me."
"No, seriously," she pinched the tips of my fingers flirtatiously and I just about died, "Tell me."
"You have to promise not to laugh."
"I won't." But there was already a wide grin on her face.
"And you have to realize that it just slipped out and the reasoning behind it is flawed."
"Sara, stop stalling, okay?"
"Okay," I sighed, my face already turning bright pink, "What I was going to say was that anyone who looks as good in the outfit you were wearing on Saturday could not be a-sexual. Not unless it is God's idea of a very sick joke. "
Catherine laughed and I beamed that I could elicit such a sound from such an amazing woman.
"You know, I wouldn't worry about it, Catherine. Who ever you end up with, that's probably the closest you'll ever get to figuring out what you are. I mean, I'm pretty fucking gay, but I wouldn't rule out a relationship with a guy if he was really the right person for me."
She laughed bitterly, "Yeah, if I end up with someone and don't end up miserable and alone."
I was going to protest but she just went on as if she hadn't just said the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard.
"So what's your amazing story, then?"
"I told you mine, now you tell me yours."
"What, are we in sixth grade? No way."
"Sara!" Catherine pouted at me.
I sighed and smiled, "What do you want to know?"
She grinned triumphantly, "Everything!"
I just shook my head, why was I suddenly so powerless against this woman?
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