DISCLAIMER: I don't own them, I never will. Proper rights go to Bruckheimer and gang. Sue me you will not, nothing I have.
SERIES: Follow on from On the Surface and Premature Breakdown.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Amy Jo

Part 1

At some point I must have drifted off to sleep because when I open my eyes more than three hours has passed. I am still laying on my side with my arms wrapped protectively around Catherine. I can feel the steady rise and fall of her chest and I know that she is sleeping.

For a few moments here next to her I can forget everything that's happened over the past few weeks. All I can think of is the comfort and safety I feel with her and how right it is.

When the reality of the past week comes back, I snuggle up to Catherine even closer than I was before. She mumbles something and rolls over in my arms. She doesn't even open her eyes before she leans close and presses a light kiss against my lips. I can't help but smile at her sleepy gesture.

"Hey you," she says, barely louder than a whisper.

"Hey yourself. Sleep good?" I roll onto my back and she follows,

laying half on top of me.

"Mmm. I guess. Did you sleep?"

"For a little bit." I'm tempted to stay here forever. I like the feel of her pressed against me. Even though I wouldn't tell her, I love the way she looks when she first wakes up. Her eyes are heavy-lidded and the brilliant blue is a few shades darker. I have the urge to dig my fingers into her sleep-mussed hair.

She lays her head on my shoulder and her hand plays with the bottom of my t-shirt. We lay in silence for a few minutes until her fingers slip under my shirt and dance gently across the skin there. Unprepared for the feel of her fingers I can't suppress a giggle as she immediately hits a ticklish spot.

"Oh ticklish," Catherine says as her head snaps up and before I squeeze my eyes shut I see her eyes light up in delight.

"I don't know what you're talking about. I'm not ticklish," I say in my most serious tone. But she knows I'm lying when she moves her fingers again and I squirm underneath her.

"Okay so maybe a little," I say as I open my eyes to look up at her. From the grin on her face I know that she is enjoying herself far too much and that I'm in serious trouble if I don't figure out a way to make her stop.

"I think it's more than just a little," she whispers into my ear as she moves to cover my body with hers. Her fingers move lightly on my side and the weight of her body on mine prevents me from squirming out of her grasp.

Trapped underneath her I give up the struggle and laugh myself into breathlessness as Catherine's fingertips mercilessly attack the sensitive flesh. Catherine doesn't stop until my face is red from laughing so much and I am struggling for air.

Catherine remains quiet as I catch my breath, simply looking into my eyes as if somewhere behind them is the answer to the meaning of life. "You're so beautiful when you laugh. Why don't you do that more often?"

"There's not much to laugh at in my life," I answer, returning the seriousness of her gaze.

The grin on her face fades away as she too remembers what had happened earlier tonight. The sad look in her eyes pretty much destroys the light mood we were enjoying and brings back reality. I silently wonder why we can't just forget about everything else and have tonight be just us, so that for once I can have something good with no worries.

"You know, with everything from this past week that might be true. But what about before then? Surely you had something good in your life before then."

I don't really know what to say to her. Sure the occasional joke caused a chuckle, but Catherine's not talking about humor. She's talking about simply loving life, and I'm afraid that is something that I haven't done in quite a while.

It's not that my life is unsatisfying, it's just been a long time since there was something really great in it. I love my job and the work that I do. I can't imagine doing anything else. But simply loving your job isn't reason enough to walk around blissfully happy. And until recently my job is all I had.

But now; now I have Catherine. And just thinking that simple thought is enough to make me smile. We haven't had the greatest of beginnings and yet it still amazes me that she is willing to be with me. I know that life is not like storybooks and that things are rarely, if ever, perfect. But I honestly can't think of any relationship that has hit so many snags in such a short time.

"Well I can't think of anything right now. Can I get back to you on that?" My joking tone belies the seriousness of my statement.

"Yeah sure," she says, even though I'm certain she sees the truth behind my words.

"Catherine can I ask you something?" I ask her softly.

"Well you just did, so I guess yeah," Catherine laughs.

"Ha ha. Seriously," I guess I did set myself up for that.

Catherine pushes her hands into the mattress and sits up. She settles herself across my hips and a small nod of her head tells me she's ready for whatever question I might have for her.

"Why are you still here?" A look of surprise and confusion flashes across her face. Apparently she was ready for that question.

"Do you want me to go?"

I can hear the hurt in her voice and I realize that I may not have phrased that question the right way. I put my hands on her hips to make sure that she doesn't move.

"No. No, that's not what I meant. Well, that's not exactly what I meant."

Catherine looks uncomfortable, but my grip on her tightens so that she can't move. It takes me a minute to put the words together in a way I'm certain won't be misunderstood.

"What I meant was, why are you still with me? With everything that's happened this past week I can't believe you haven't walked away yet."

"Sara I'm not going to go anywhere, not unless you want me to. No matter what you think, this week hasn't been that tough, not as far as we are concerned."

As she talks the worried look on her face fades away and is replaced with one of concern. Somehow she always knows the words and gestures to use to make me feel better. I know that my bizarre behavior this past week would be enough to drive away the lovers in my past, the fact that she is staying means more to me than she will ever know.

"I know this past week hasn't been easy for you. But we are still okay. I don't think there's anything I can do to make it better for you other than to simply be here for you. If you need a shoulder to cry on, or just someone to listen to you, you can count on me to be there for you. I love you Sara."

I think I'm going to cry again.

Part 2

I move my hips gently and Catherine immediately moves so that I can sit up. I wrap my arms around her, hugging her tight. Catherine never ceases to amaze me. I've never had anyone in my life tell me the things she does.

"God Cath. Has anyone told you just amazing you are?" I say to her, attempting to express the feelings I have for her.

"Maybe a time or two," Catherine says as she pulls back from me, letting me see the sparkle in her eyes and the smile on her face. "But I don't think anyone has ever meant it the way you do."

I find it hard to believe anyone who has known Catherine has never truly meant those words. If they didn't, then whoever they were, they didn't deserve her anyway.

"Then they were fools," I tell her.

"Oh Sara," she whispers in my ear as she pulls me closer to her. Even though it was just a whisper, I can hear untold levels of emotions just under her breath.

I know that Catherine's past isn't exactly filled with roses and candy. I know that she's been hurt, and hurt bad. But it still makes my heart break to think that simple, honest words can have such an affect on her. I realize that I might not be the most romantic person, but I am determined to show Catherine just how wonderful she is.

I'm still lost in my own thoughts when I feel myself being pushed back down to the mattress. I find myself in the same position I was in just minutes ago, with Catherine settled comfortably across my hips.

I wonder if it would be possible to stay exactly like this until our next shift. Catherine looks like a goddess above me. Her blue eyes are darkened by emotion; whether it's simple love or desire I can't tell. Even with her hair still tousled from sleep it looks perfect.

"You're so beautiful," I say to her as I put my hands on her sides and tug her down her down so that she is lying on top of me. She looked beautiful straddling my hips; but I want to kiss her, to touch her, to wrap my fingers in the strawberry blonde curls of her hair.

"How do you do that?" Her voice is still low, as if she can't find the strength to talk.

"Do what?" I ask as I run one hand up her back and into her hair. My fingers gently knead her skull and I feel her whole body tremble in response.

"How do you say something so simple and it makes me feel like I can't breathe, like my heart is going to burst?" Catherine lays her head on my shoulder and speaks quietly.

I don't even have to think before I answer, "Because I mean it with every ounce of my soul."

With one hand still wrapped in her hair, I pull her face to mine so she can see the truth in my eyes. Her face is flush, as if my words have embarrassed her. Before she says anything I tilt my head up and kiss her lips softly. There is no sense of overwhelming need in our kiss, just the two of us communicating love without words.

My free hand slips under her borrowed shirt glides over the soft, cool skin of her back. I feel goose bumps on her skin where the shirt has ridden up. Catherine hums her appreciation into our kiss as I continue to caress the strong muscles of her back. I love the feel of her skin; it is smooth and soft, yet just under the surface I can feel the strength of her muscles.

Catherine's hands are at my sides and she pushes herself up and away from me. With my one hand in her hair and the other on her back, she doesn't get far. Her eyes are closed and I watch as her tongue slips out to run across her lips. I have the urge to kiss her again, but I wait until she has more control over her breathing.

She opens her eyes slowly and looks at me without saying anything. I wonder what she's thinking; but when she dips her head back down for another kiss, I'm pretty sure I know what she was thinking. Catherine starts nipping with her teeth at my lower lip and I part my lips at the gentle prod of her tongue.

I move my hand from Catherine's hair and slip it under her shirt with my other hand. The unexpected heat of my hand against her skin makes her gasp. I use her momentary loss of concentration to take control of the kiss. My tongue pushes past her lips and I hear a deep, low moan, though I don't know if it came from her or me.

My hands move further up her back, taking the shirt with them. When I reach her shoulders, she pulls away from me. The t-shirt slides over her head and down her arms as she moves. Once the shirt is gone she sees the look of lust in my eyes and grins devilishly at me.

Her hands play with the sides of my shirt finally sliding underneath without bothering to move the material out of the way. Her head dips for another kiss and I fell the brush of a fingertip across my breast. My body rises off the bed to meet hers as her fingers continue to tease me until the sensation leaves me breathless.

I pull my lips away from her and try to catch my breath. Catherine starts placing kisses on my neck and my hands soon find their way to her hips, holding on lightly. My thumbs slip under the waistband of her shorts and Catherine moves slightly forward at the contact, encouraging my movements. When I move my whole hand under the fabric Catherine's breath catches and she sits up, forcing my hands to pull her closer.

Above me, topless and with her shorts gradually slipping off under my hands, Catherine looks more beautiful than ever. Her skin is hot under my touch, matching the look in her eyes. My hands slide over her ass, dragging the shorts down and then back up as my hands move up again.

I can see a look of frustration in Catherine's eyes at my teasing movements. She lifts her hips and I move the shorts further down her legs. I can see just a hint of her panties and the blonde curls underneath. A few coordinated moves later and her the last of her clothes join the discarded t-shirt I lent her.

A part of me thinks that if I could convince her to stay here, just like this, I would never be able to leave this spot. Earlier, fully clothed and smiling down at me, she looked beautiful. Now, naked and intent, she is simply gorgeous.

I realize I am thinking too much when she slides down my body and puts her hands under my shirt again. She pushes the fabric up and her head dips to kiss the newly exposed flesh. If I move at all it will toss her off me, and I definitely want to her to stay. The strain of remaining still has me gripping the sheets of my bed, pulling the fabric tight.

Catherine lightly laughs against my skin, the breath causing me to shiver. When she dips her tongue into my navel, I groan in pure frustration at my need to remain still. As her tongue moves in and out my control slips from me and my hips rise in rhythm. Catherine's hands move my shirt up another inch and her lips follow.

It is slow torture, the way she is moving up my body. I can feel the heat radiating from her body through the fabric of the boxers I'm wearing. Her skin is pressed against the once exposed flesh of my abdomen and I feel the liquid cool of her lips and tongue as she works her way up my chest.

In a poor attempt to get her mouth closer to where I want it I hastily remove my shirt, throwing it across the room. Again I feel her laughter against my skin. She takes the hint and I feel her lips as the cover one of my nipples and the pressure of her tongue as it slips past her lips to press softly against the hardness it finds.

Whatever control I thought I had remaining vanishes as I feel a flush of heat across my body. I arch further into her, not wanting the sensation to end. Catherine startles me, eliciting a low moan, when I feel her hand caress the skin at my side as it moves up to cover my other breast.

Catherine offers me some relief when her head lifts from my chest and she slides forward for a kiss. I kiss back hungrily and my hands move to hold her close to me. My body burns for her touch, but the fire of my need to touch her is even more intense. The feel of her skin under my hands reminds me of how much I want her.

My hands move down her back to her hips and I pull her forward. The movement causes her lips to separate from mine and she looks down at me in confusion. A smile spreads across my face as I hold her hips with one hand and other pushes her body away from me.

I decided long ago that my favorite view of her was to see her straddled across my hips. And she looks even more stunning above me now, a look of pure lust in her eyes and her body flush and pink with heat. I can feel her wetness against the skin of my stomach and I barely suppress the urge to roll her over on her back and watch her writhe underneath me.

I keep one hand on her hip and pull her forward just a little more. I can see a glint in her eye that tells me she knows what I'm doing. She closes her eyes and puts her arms behind her, bracing herself against the mattress as my hand slips between my skin and her center.

The most amazing, sensual sound comes from her as I curl two fingers inside her and my thumb presses into her clit. My finger push up in a slow and steady pace as I watch her moving above me. I hold on tight as she starts moving faster, at first gentle thrusts against my fingers.

As I feel her muscles flexing around my fingers she starts moaning and pushing harder against me. I sit up slightly, pulling her hips toward me as her movements become frantic. I can feel her muscles contracting around my fingers as she suddenly bolts upright grabbing my shoulders and screaming my name in release.

Part 3

I barely even notice that my own body is throbbing in want as we collapse on the bed together. I gently slide my hand from between us and smile in satisfaction as her body pushes against my hand one more time before it leaves her.

Catherine is limp and her weight pushes comfortably against me. She is breathing heavily and her body is covered in a light sheen of sweat. My hands lightly stroke her sides as she regains control of her breath.

"God Sara," she whimpers.

Her head has fallen to my shoulder and her breath tickles my ear, sending goose bumps down my arms. The ache I felt to touch her has not subsided, but she looks pleasantly exhausted.

"I know." Probably not one of the most eloquent things I've ever said, but I know how she feels. Well mostly. Watching her above as she moved and climaxed was the most provocative thing I've ever seen.

The way she moved, the feel of her pushing against me and the sound of her screaming my name in ecstasy. I yearn to touch her just at the memory. It was something that I don't think I'll ever be able to forget. And I don't want to.

My hands continue a rhythmic stroking of her sides as she regains her breath. I can't help but smile in lustful pride as it takes her long minutes before she even considers moving from her position.

Catherine pushes herself up weakly, the slight movement only makes the lustful part of my brain grin even wider. I did that to her, made her so weak she can barely hold herself up. I'm not sure if it's something that I should really be proud of, but I am. And I want nothing more that make her so weak that she can't even think about trying to move.

She sees something in the glint of my eyes and the grin on my face and she lightly shakes her head. She moves her lips to my ear, gently sucking on the lobe before she speaks.

"I know what you're thinking." The feel of her hot breath against my wet skin makes me shiver and squirm underneath her. "And you may have . distracted me earlier, but not again."

It almost sounds like a challenge, and I am tempted to test her resolve. I want to keep touching her, to make her scream my name over and over until her voice is gone. Catherine is a little faster than me, though, and before I can put my thoughts into action she has moved her hand down my side to rest at the curve of my hip.

Catherine moves to kiss my neck while her fingers play teasingly with the fabric of the boxers I'm still wearing. I move my hand down her arm and place it on hers, stilling the motion of her fingers. She raises her head to look at me as I move both our hands under the waistband of my shorts.

"Cat, please," I am close to begging her for release when her fingers reach the wetness at the apex of my thighs. Her eyes widen when she feels how ready I am. "Please."

Catherine keeps my gaze as she easily slides one finger into me. My body reacts instantly with the feel of her inside me and the heat of her gaze. My hips arch into her as a low moan escapes my throat. When a second finger joins the first my eyes close and my head is filled with visions of her moving above me, her head tossed back in ecstasy and her body grinding into my hand.

I feel Catherine's lips as she presses kisses against my chest. My hand is still holding hers and I push on her hand to increase the pace. I scream her name as I feel her tongue press against a hardened nipple. My body explodes in a burst of heat when her teeth pull gently at the hardened flesh in her mouth and her fingers curl inside me to find that hidden spot.

The movement of Catherine's hand continues, gradually slowing down as I struggle to breathe. I'm vaguely aware of her whispering something in my ear, but the sound of my own heavy breathing prevents my from being able to understand the words.

I'm not sure how long I lay still enjoying the fading feeling of exhilaration. I open my eyes and see Catherine hovering above me, practically grinning from ear to ear.

"Hey," I say gently. Conversation after sex has never been my strong suit. My brain is still scattered and unfocused; having her so close isn't helping any. I can still feel her inside me, and as she knew what I was thinking she slowly eases both of hands out of my shorts.

Her hair falls from behind her ears and frames her face in blonde curls. "Hey yourself. Where'd you go just then?"

"Just when?" I ask, feigning ignorance.

"When you pushed your head into the pillows, closed your eyes tight and screamed my name at the ceiling." If it's possible, I think her smile gets bigger, but I can see a look of worry behind her blue eyes.

"I guess I retreated to my fantasy world," I tell her playfully with a smirk on my face. I see a look of hurt flash through her eyes.


Catherine starts to move from above me, and I quickly move my arms to her sides to keep her still. "You want to know what the fantasy was?"

She looks intrigued at the idea, but she still shakes her head no. Her head tilts to the side and she looks at the empty space next to us on the bed.

"It was you." That got her attention back to me. Her brow is creased in confusion, but I see a sparkle of delight in her eyes. "I closed my eyes and saw you. I saw you just as you were only minutes ago; here in my bed with your body pressed against my hand and your head thrown back in ecstasy."

I didn't think it was possible, but Catherine blushes at my statement.

"Me?" Her voice cracks as she struggles to say even that one word.

"Yes you. Cat, that was the most amazing thing I've ever seen or felt." She doesn't look like she completely believes me. "Why do you think I didn't bother to take off the rest of my clothes?"

Catherine chuckles as she realizes that I am trying to break the tension. "Is that so?"

"I wouldn't lie to you. Catherine, I'm not even sure I can put into words just how amazing it was to see you so lost in desire. Too much longer without feeling your touch and I think I might have spontaneously combusted."

Science may disprove theories of spontaneous human combustion, but nobody ever tested the theory in circumstances like this.

"Your fantasy is me?"

I look her directly in the eye as I tell her, "My fantasy has always been you."

It's the truth, but I know I've said the right thing to ease her fears when she blushes again. With a huge grin on her face, she lowers her face to mine and kisses me deeply.

Part 4

"I love you, you know," Catherine says when she moves her lips from mine.

"I know," I whisper to her, once more having difficulty breathing. "I love to hear you say that, but I know. I love you Catherine."

Catherine moves again, this time to sit up. Again I find myself looking up at her as she straddles my hips. As much as I love this view, if she doesn't move I know that soon my hands will be drawn to touch her again. If that happens we may never leave my bed.


"Yeah baby?" She asks as she provides me with an even better view as her hands move to run her fingers through her hair.

For an instant I'm sure my heart stops as I look at her, my libido waking with urgency. Her thighs are pressing against my hips tightly so that she can keep her balance on the soft mattress. I can see the strong muscles of her abdomen pulled taught with her hands raised behind her head. Her nipples are hard, whether from the chill in the air or from desire, I'm not sure. Her head tilts back slightly to allow her fingers to slip through her hair and her neck muscles flex with the movement.

I find myself unable to breathe again, and my heart rate has increased so much that I'm afraid it will burst from exertion. I can do nothing but simply stare up at her.

"Sara?" Catherine asks without moving.


"You were going to ask me something, or at least say something," she says with a grin. Her tone changes to coy and teasing, "I think something must have distracted you."

"Right," I say, shaking my head, hoping to clear my thoughts. Again I turn silent, trying to remember just what it was that I was going to say. "I was uh, just going to ask if maybe you wanted to get some dinner or something."

I was going to ask if she wanted to get something to eat or if she was hungry, but thought better of it when I realized that part of my brain was stuck in the gutter. I'm certain that if I said those words and she looked into my eyes she might not realize that I was talking about food. I know that at the moment, food is the last thing on my mind.

"That's not really what you were thinking was it?" She teases me.

"Yeah it was," I tell her. It really was what I was thinking. Then I got distracted and started thinking about something else, but the original thought was dinner.

"Hmm. I'm not sure that I totally believe you. But okay, dinner sounds nice." She lowers herself too me again and presses our bodies together as she brushes a light kiss across my lips.

She rolls off me and lays on the empty part of the bed next to me. I can't tell if I'm happy that she moved or not. It's probably better that she did, but I already miss the heat of her skin against mine and the feel of her body. I have to force myself to steady my breathing, afraid that I'll never get it under control.

The mattress shifts next to me and glance over at Catherine. She has propped herself up on her elbow, her hand cradling her head. Her free hand reaches out and rests on my stomach. The touch makes me twitch, my nerves still sensitive from the never-ending stream of sexual thoughts I'm having about her.

I can hear her laughing at my internal struggle. Her fingers start moving lazily across my abdomen, tracing incoherent patterns on my skin. If I don't get out of bed soon I know that it will be a long time before I manage to even think about it again.

With a grunt of frustration I push myself off the bed. I turn and look back at the bed and Catherine looks up at me, disappointed that I've left her alone. This is a lot harder than I thought it would be.

"Leaving so soon?" She teases me.

A lot harder. "Uh, yeah. Dinner remember?"

"Right dinner," she says with a disappointed sigh. I watch as Catherine leaves the bed to search the room for her clothes.

I head for the bathroom and return with a spare towel. Catherine is across the room bending over to pick up an article of clothing. When she straightens up she catches me watching her and walks over to where I'm standing. I almost expect her to say something, to tease me. Instead she grabs the towel and kisses my cheek before disappearing into my bathroom.

I say a silent prayer that she didn't say anything. I'm not sure I could have turned down an invitation to shower with her. But christ, I don't want her thinking I'm like some sort of hormone crazed teenager either.

I head out to the kitchen to check on the food situation. I'm fairly certain that I don't have enough food to throw together any kind of decent meal, and a check of the cabinets reveals I'm right. We're either going to have to go to a grocery store for supplies, or just go ahead and eat at a restaurant. Or maybe we could just order in, I think as I hear the shower stop in the background.

Shaking my head again I walk into the living room and turn the volume down on the stereo. I glance at the clock and realize that it's been four hours since we came back; the music had blended so well into the background that I had forgotten it was on.

I turn to walk toward the bedroom and watch as Catherine heads into the kitchen wearing my bathrobe. I watch as she gives my kitchen the once-over, probably looking for food as I was.

"Sara have you ever heard of a grocery store?" Catherine asks as she looks at my very empty refrigerator.

"Ha ha. Yes I have, but I've been kind of distracted lately and haven't had a chance to get there." I walk up behind her as she closes the door to the refrigerator and put my arms around her. "I figured we could go tonight and I could cook you something, or we could just go someplace nice."

"You cook?" She asks surprised as she turns around in my arms.

"Yeah, and I'm actually pretty good at it too." Catherine looks at me, stunned. "Okay so I don't cook all that often, but in all fairness it's cheaper to eat out in this town. Especially if you're just cooking for one."

Catherine gives me a quick kiss before saying, "Well I say we go to the grocery store. I'm fascinated by the idea of you cooking. I figured you were strictly a take-out kind of girl."

I'm silent for a few minutes as I try to figure out how to respond. I could just simply make a joke about all of it and brush it off. But I want her to know more about me, more about how she has changed me, even if she doesn't understand right away that she is the main reason I changed. My voice is incredibly quiet when I finally put the words together.

"For a long time I was. Remember that case with the young woman who ordered everything out of catalogs and hardly ever left her own place? Her refrigerator was covered with take-out menus and when I came home after wrapping up that case, I realized that she and I were a lot alike. Granted I leave my apartment, have friends and a job outside my home; but looking at the take out menus on my refrigerator that night shook me. Without my work I'm two steps from becoming her."

Catherine was silent for what seemed a never-ending minute after I confessed to her. She squeezed me tighter in her arms and said, "You're not like her. You have your work, and all of us at the lab to support you."

"I'm not like her now. But I was. And I don't plan on slipping back into that pattern anytime soon. And now, well now I've got you. At least my take out orders will be for two from now on instead of for one."

I tilt my head downward and kiss her. Her lips part easily, letting me in. No matter how many times I tell her, I don't think she'll ever know just how important she is to me, just how much I love her.

Part 5

After a few minutes I reluctantly let go of Catherine and head for the shower. I told Catherine to borrow anything she wanted wear if she found something that fit her. Mentally I make a note to find the time to go shopping for a few extra pairs of pants and some tops that will fit Catherine. I could easily continue to let her borrow clothes, but I think it would be a nice surprise for her to find something in my closet that is her size.

I take what is probably the quickest shower of my life and I'm just stepping out of the shower when Catherine enters the bathroom to put my bathrobe back where she found it. She pauses just inside the door and her eyes move up and down my body as I exit the shower.

I make slow work of drying off from my shower, enjoying the heat from her gaze as she watches the towel move across my skin. When I finish and look into her eyes I smile in satisfaction, knowing that I'm not the only one feeling like a hormone crazed teenager.

Catherine stands still her eyes not moving from my body as I step closer to her. For once I'm thankful that the bathroom in my apartment is small as I move sideways to walk past her. Her eyes darken and her hands reach back and brace themselves on the sink as I slide past her, my skin barely brushing her clothes. I didn't need to be that close to her to get out the door, but I did enjoy the look on her face and the slight whimper I heard as I stepped by her.

In the bedroom I pick out some clothes to wear and dress quickly. Catherine walks out of the bathroom just as I'm pulling a t-shirt over my head. She watches me closely as the fabric covers the last bit of flesh on my stomach. I'm not sure what she's thinking, but if one of us doesn't talk soon, the silence will overwhelm me. I'm not sure I can handle the silence today.

As if sensing my need to talk, Catherine asks "Are you sure you want to leave?"

"Yeah. Why have you got any other ideas?" I can't help but tease. From the look that passed between us just moments ago, I know what her other ideas are.

"I think I could come up with something," she replies as she steps closer to me. Our height is nearly equal with her standing in her boots and me only in my socks.

"We really should get to the store. Then we can come back here and I can amaze you with my cooking skills." My plan to divert her attention doesn't seem to be working as she steps right in front of me and wraps her arms around my waist.

"Why don't you amaze me with some of your other skills?"

Before I can respond her lips are on mine. Her hands slip into the back pockets of my jeans and she pulls me into her. Even while my brain tells me to find a way to gently extract myself from her my body reacts differently. My hands work their way into her hair, and my tongue soon slips into her mouth.

Kissing Catherine is an unforgettable experience. It is not just the feel of lips against lips or tongues tasting each other. She uses her whole body to send me into sensory overload. She presses herself against me, making almost every inch of bodies come in contact. Even a simple kiss from her can leave me shaking with want.

Somehow I manage to pull away from her before we end up too overheated. I can tell just how much she wants to stay, and if she kisses me again we may not leave.

"We need to go," I whisper into her ear.

"Do we have to?" She asks. I'm slowly becoming addicted to hearing her voice like this; low and lusty, practically dripping with desire.

For a minute I consider not leaving at all, but I feel a slight rumble in my stomach reminding me that I need some food before we continue this.

"Yeah we kind of have to. We'll just head to the store real quick, grab some food and be back before you know it." My voice is not nearly as convincing as it should be, but I hear her sigh and feel her remove her hands from my back pockets.

It only takes a little more convincing to get her out of my apartment. Catherine shoves her keys in my hand telling me I'm driving. Her excuse is that she doesn't know the neighborhood very well. I don't bother to point out that the best way for her to learn the neighborhood is for her to drive.

Thankfully the grocery store is just a few blocks from my place. Catherine was sketchy on what she wanted for dinner, telling me she would be happy with whatever I cooked. I really hate it when people say that.

Less than an hour after leaving we are back at my apartment, this time with our arms loaded with groceries. With some careful maneuvering we manage to get all the groceries into my apartment in one trip. Catherine helps me puts the groceries away even though I told her to watch TV or something. It's kind of nice to see how comfortable she moves in my kitchen; she doesn't need to ask where to put things, she seems to already know where they belong.

Catherine is true to her word and watches in fascination as I start working on dinner. I'm not making a complicated meal, just some pasta and a salad, but she watches everything I do as if she's never seen anyone cook before.

"Catherine you do cook don't you?" I ask as she watches me.

"Well yeah. Why?" Catherine asks, clearly confused.

"Because you're staring at me like it's the first time you've ever seen anyone cook a meal. I would have figured by now this would be a boring sight for you." I laugh at the expression of surprise on her face and after a minute she begins laughing too.

"I'm staring at you like it's the first time I've ever seen you cook. And no matter what you do, you could never bore me." For some reason her simple words make me blush, and I'm thankful that I can turn away from her to check on the food.

"Smells wonderful," she says as she steps up behind me.

"Cath, it's alfredo sauce from a jar. It doesn't smell that wonderful." I turn my head and she is inches behind me, peering over my shoulder.

"Why is that? I thought you were going to cook for me. Everything you bought came in a can, a jar, or a box."

"Not everything," I say pretending to pout. "I made the salad all by myself."

"Okay, well other than the salad. I thought I was going to get a chance to watch you really cook." Catherine moves from behind me and leans up against the counter by the stove.

"You will someday. But tonight I just wanted to make something simple. Something not complicated, you know?" I move to stand in front of her, trapping her.

"Oh. And why is that?"

"I wanted dinner to be simple, easy and over with fast," I tell her just before pressing my lips against hers.

Part 6

I force myself to keep the kiss short, to not give in to my desire for her. Dinner is nearly finished and I don't want to screw up such a simple dinner because I'm busy making out with Catherine.

As I move away from her my thoughts drift and I start thinking of just how great tonight has been. Catherine stayed here to comfort me when I needed it most. After my breakdown at the hotel all I wanted was silence and Catherine was right there, laying silently next to me while I wrapped my arms around her searching for comfort. And she was there for me after our brief nap, saying the right words and providing comfort of an altogether different kind.

I think after dinner we will probably have to sit down and talk about some things. As perfect as everything feels now I can't deny that I've been avoiding thinking or talking about Rayn's death and what happened at the hotel. And I'm not exactly looking forward to talking about what happened at the lab either.

I notice Catherine is watching me quietly, never moving from her position leaning up against the counter. I see the question in her eyes as she wonders what I'm thinking about. Catherine is silent, letting me lose myself in my thoughts.

"Sara? Is everything okay?" Catherine finally breaks the silence.

"Hmm? Oh yeah. Just thinking." Dinner is ready and I get the table ready as I talk. Much as I needed the time to think, the silence was starting to get to me and I'm glad Catherine said something.

"You know, thinking can be overrated." She says as she grabs some glasses from a cabinet and turns to the refrigerator for something to drink.

"That's an odd thing for a CSI to say."

"I said it can be," Catherine says as she reaches into the fridge and pulls out a pitcher of cold water. "This is different. Whatever you were thinking was hurting you. I could see it every time you glanced my way. That kind of thinking is definitely overrated."

"Maybe. But the thoughts will be there whether or not thinking is overrated."

Catherine joins me at the table and pours us both a glass of water. It is both pleasurable and scary to see how comfortable she has become in my apartment. She's only been here a handful of times and she doesn't need to ask where anything is, she just seems to know where to find things. The domesticity of it frightens me; I've never had a lover move so easily through my space. Whatever uneasiness I have about having someone moving freely around my apartment, and in my thoughts, I'm soothed by the fact that it is Catherine.

"So what were you thinking about?" Catherine asks as she takes her first bites of dinner.

"You, me, life, death, and Grissom." My tone is joking even though I'm serious. I don't want the seriousness to become to heavy; if I can keep the conversation light it won't seem as bad as I keep thinking it is.

"Well that's a lot to be thinking about right before dinner. Maybe you should switch to thinking about puppies or bunnies or something," Catherine says with a huge grin as I start laughing.

"Puppies? Bunnies?" I'm laughing so hard that I'm having problems breathing.

"Yeah. You know, happy things." Catherine laughs with me.

"But puppies and bunnies?" I'm laughing so hard that I can feel the sting of tears at the corners of my eyes.

"Works for Lindsey." Catherine says between laughs.

"Cat, I'm not ten years old anymore." I force myself to take some deep breaths and calm down.

"Okay then. How about police scanners, ballistics manuals and fingerprint powders?"

Just when I thought I had some control over my laughter, it comes roaring back. Catherine laughs with me for a few minutes before either of us can manage to get control. Catherine's hand reaches out and her thumb brushes a tear off my check.

"That's better," she says quietly as her hand cups my cheek. I'm not sure why but I feel a blush creep over my face.

"What's better?"

"Seeing you smile, it's much better than the pained look you had earlier." Her hand slowly moves from my face as she leans back in her chair.

"Thanks," I say quietly. At her questioning look I explain further, "Thanks for everything. For being here, for noticing I needed the laugh, for always saying the right things to make me feel better, just everything."

Catherine just smiles in response and we settle into a comfortable silence as we finish eating dinner. It feels like mere seconds have passed before I find myself filling the dishwasher and convincing Catherine to sit and watch television or something. I grab a couple of Heinekens and head into the living room to join her.

Catherine's watching one of those late night talk shows and I sit next to her on the couch, offering her one of the beers. She takes it with a smile and laughs at something on the TV. I cuddle in close to her, wanting to feel the heat and comfort of her body next to mine.

If she asked, I wouldn't be able to tell her what show we are watching, or who the celebrity guest of the night is. I watch with her, laughing at the funny parts, but really only barely paying attention. Just as the show ends my phone rings.

"Damn it." I'm too comfortable to want to move, and I know who is on the other end of the phone and that makes me more determined to let it keep ringing.

"Aren't you going to answer that," Catherine asks after the third ring. One more and my machine will pick it up.

"Wasn't planning on it. I'm comfortable where I'm at, and besides it's only Grissom."

Her brow furrows in confusion. "And what if he has some information about Rayn?"

That's one of the reasons I don't want to talk to him. Thankfully the last several hours here with Catherine have helped me forget about Rayn. Well maybe not forget, but at least being with Catherine has made it not hurt as much. The phone rings one last time and I hear my answering machine click on just before a mechanical voice fills the room.

After a long beep, I hear Grissom. "Sara? I thought you were going to be at home. Listen, I'd really like to talk to you. Oh, and Doc gave me some information on your friend, so please call."

Grissom mentions Rayn as an afterthought and I know that Catherine caught that too. I guess now is the time. There was no mistaking the look of concern in Grissom's eyes earlier or the tone of his voice outside the labs.

"I think you should probably call him back," Catherine says after Grissom hangs up.

I turn to face her on the couch. "I don't know. I do need to talk to him, but I need to talk to you first. Or maybe I need to talk to the both of you at the same time. I don't know, I'm not sure."

Catherine again looks at me confused. "I'm not sure that made a lot of sense."

"I know. I just don't know how to say what needs to be said."

"Start at the beginning," Catherine says as if that makes all the sense in the world. But my mind is a jumble of thoughts and the beginning is lost somewhere in the middle.

"How about I just skip to the part where I ask Grissom out on a date?" I can't even look at her as the words come out of my mouth..

Part 7

"You did what?" Thankfully she doesn't sound upset, just confused.

"I kind of asked him out to dinner." Embarrassed to reveal this information to her, I still can't look her in the eye. Instead I stare at my hands, which sit limply on my lap.

"Kind of?" I can hear the confusion in her voice, and I can't help but think I've managed to confuse her more times tonight than in the entire time I've known her.

"Maybe not kind of; it's safe to say I flat out asked him out to dinner with me."


"It was right after the explosion at the lab. We were leaving at the same time, and I had wanted to ask him for a while but never seemed to get enough courage. But that day I decided it was time to move forward or move on."

I finally look at her and see different, nameless emotions flicker across her face. I think I see a bit of jealousy and maybe even anger. I want to ask her what she's feeling, but I think it might be best to wait until she's asked all her questions of me.

"And he said no." It's not a question, just a statement.

In all honesty we both know Grissom well enough to know that he would not date someone who works for him. I knew when I asked him, but I had to give it a shot, just to clear things up once and for all.

"Yeah. But he followed it up with 'I don't know what to do about this.'" Absently I wonder why it is that words of rejection can be remembered so easily but people so often forget words of acceptance. I had asked Grissom out months ago and I can clearly remember what he said.

"And you said ." Catherine's voice trails off and I'm certain that she wanted to say something else but is going to wait until I explain the rest of the situation to her.

"I told him that by the time he figured it out it would probably be too late."

"And now it's too late?" Catherine asks, clearly nervous that I might still be considering a date with Grissom.

I reach out and take both her hands in mine. "Of course it's too late. It's been too late since I came to Vegas, it's been too late since I met you, and it's definitely been too late since I first kissed you."

Catherine offers a shy smile at my explanation, but I can see the happiness dancing in her eyes. "Since you came to Vegas? If it's been too late since you first got here, why did wait so long to ask?"

"I don't know. Probably because every now and then he would say the right thing, or make the gesture to make me think he might be interested. Before I came here we were actually pretty close. So close I think, that had we tried dating then it might have worked."

"And what happened?" Catherine reaches for the drink she abandoned when we started talking. I take that as a good sign; that she's becoming more comfortable the more I talk.

"I guess a few things. When I came here a line was drawn. You know the one; the boss/employee line. He didn't want to cross the line."


"You want another drink? I'm going to grab another," I say as I move to get off the couch.

Catherine shrugs her shoulders and says, "Yeah, why not."

A quick trip to the kitchen and I return with two fresh Heinekens. I'm surprised that Catherine actually drinks these, I always figured her for the more 'sophisticated' drinker who only drank things like mixed drinks and martinis.

"So? You said there were a few things that happened when you came here, but then you only named one."

"Well maybe not a few, because that would imply like three or more things. I guess it was just two things really. He drew a line, and I met someone else." My fingers nervously pick at the label on the bottle, hoping she'll just leave it at that. I know she won't, but it doesn't hurt to hope.

"Who? Hank?" Catherine has that gal-pal gossip look on her face; excited about learning something that might be a secret.

"No. I didn't meet Hank right away, remember? No, I met someone almost immediately who took my breath away." She really should know that it is her I'm talking about. But she apparently doesn't catch on; that, or she just wants to make me say it.

"C'mon tell me." She sounds so excited I'm surprised she's not bouncing around the room. "It's not everyday someone gets Sara Sidle to open up."

"Catherine, I will always be open to you. Anything you ask, I'll tell you. Anything you want, I'll give it to you."

"So then who was it? The cute girl that works at the front desk? Oh, maybe it was that anthropologist Teri Miller. She was cute too."

Whether or not she's playing with me, I can't suppress the laughter. Catherine just leans further back into the couch and watches as I laugh at her suggestions. Sure Teri was cute, but she was also completely straight; and I think she's married now. And the girl that works the desk? I can't even remember her name, much less remember if she's cute.

When my laughter subsides Catherine is still staring intently at me. "No, it wasn't either of those. And if you haven't figured it out by now, I think I might have to tell Grissom that you're investigating skills are slipping."

Catherine looks offended for a split-second before a wide smile spreads across her face. Her voice is quiet, barely a whisper when she asks, "Me?"

"From the very first day." Our conversation has gone from light to serious in a matter of seconds. I take a long drink from my beer and wait for Catherine to respond somehow.

Catherine takes a drink of her beer and sits quietly on her end of the couch. I move slightly closer to her, still waiting for her to say something, anything. She's right, I don't open myself to others very often; but this is why. I can't handle the uncertainty of not knowing what she is thinking and feeling.

I know I don't have to worry about her attraction to me, we've clearly that we're both very attracted to each other. But a part of me fears that the love I have for her won't be returned. It's a fear that I've had for as long as I can remember; the fear that I will open my heart to someone who will not, or for some reason can not, love me.

This is why I never let myself fall to far for someone; why all my relationships have always been more like extended flings than a real relationship. When I open myself to this hurt, I know the rejection will be devastating. It's why I've run from end of the country to the other, never really staying somewhere for too long. It's why I ran from Harvard to San Francisco and why I left San Francisco for Las Vegas. And if she doesn't say something soon, it may be why I leave Las Vegas.

Part 8

The silence only lasts a minute, but it feels like hours. At least half of my fresh beer is now gone, swallowed in a vain attempt to keep the look of hurt off my face.

"Why didn't you say anything?" Catherine asks quietly.

This was not the question I expected, even though I'm not really sure what I expected. "Why didn't I say anything? When?"

"All those years ago, why didn't you say anything?"

"Are you serious?" I am completely astounded that she thinks I should have said something sooner. Catherine doesn't say anything now, she just nods her head indicating that she is indeed serious.

"Well there's a lot of reasons I didn't say anything. Probably the main reason I didn't say anything was the fact that you hated me. There's no way I could walk up to and confess an attraction when even from thirty yards I could feel your loathing for me seething from your every pore. I don't think it would have gone over well.

"And let's not forget that you were married. Technically I think you were separated at the time, but you were still married. In my experience married usually equals straight, at the very least it meant you were off limits. I never have been, and I never will be 'the other woman'. I want to be the only, not the fun on the side. I don't love with half my heart, I love with all of it; and I want to be loved with all of someone's heart."

I had tried to promise myself that I wouldn't resort to my usual habit of drinking if Catherine and I ever had conversations that forced me to look so deep inside myself. I seem to have broken my promise as my second beer of the night sits on the table empty. Deciding not to get another drink, I expand on my reasons.

"Then there was Paul, the district engineer. Another indication that you were straight. And everyone thought I had a thing for Grissom, maybe I still did, I don't know. But you had Paul and I had Nick breathing down my neck to go out with one of his guy friends. And then I had Hank, and while I knew our relationship couldn't last, I found him to be a good distraction from the things I really wanted. And Nick even stopped playing matchmaker."

My hands are almost twitching with the desire to find myself another drink. It hurts less to talk about myself so much when I'm in the process of getting drunk; when you sober up the wounds don't seem so deep because you can rationalize everything you said as a drunken confession. But I don't want that with Catherine. I want to be able to tell her anything and everything about me without the desire to hide from myself.

"So do you understand why I didn't say anything? For all I knew you were campaigning to be Ms. Straight America. Husband, daughter, then the boyfriend. Not good signs that if I mentioned my attraction it would be taken well."

Catherine simply nods her head in what I assume is agreement. The silence from her is going to kill me. I want her to say something, anything. It feels as if I'm going through a monologue and not having a conversation.

"Why didn't you say anything?" It is now my turn to ask her. I think, at least, that this will get her to talk just a little more.

I don't think she's ever specifically told me just when she realized she was attracted to me. And it doesn't really matter, but I wouldn't mind knowing why she didn't say anything either.

"Ignorance," Catherine says simply.

"Huh?" I'm shocked she would say something like that. "Ignorance? Cath, I don't know what you're thinking, but ignorance is not the right word."

"Isn't it, though? I was unaware, uniformed. I didn't say anything for the same reasons you didn't. The thing you have for Grissom is pretty obvious. And even when it looked like you got over that for a minute, you had Hank. I didn't know that if I said something, or asked you out, that it would be okay. And we didn't exactly like each other at first. Okay, so I didn't like you at first. You changed things for me when you came to Vegas."

There's a shadow lingering behind Catherine's eyes. There are emotions in that shadow that I can't identify, but I know that more than anything else I want those shadows gone. And there's a lot of things in those few sentences to talk about. I'm guessing that each one of those sentences has a part in the pained look in her eyes.

"I changed things? How did my arrival change things?"

"Why did you think I was so cold when you came to work with us?" Catherine manages to turn the question back on me, but I'm willing to do this however she wants. Anything to make those shadows disappear.

"Well for a while it seemed you didn't want me to take over case. But then you realized that I didn't want, and I wasn't going to take, the Gribbs case. I was only here to look into what Warrick did, or more accurately, didn't do. And then I thought maybe you were really pissed because I was looking into Warrick.

"I noticed the easy friendships you had with everyone on the night shift. The guys aren't just coworkers to you, they're friends. And I was brought in to basically prove that Warrick fucked up. I knew that you weren't exactly happy about that. When the friendship you had with the guys didn't extend to me I thought a lot of different things."

Catherine visibly winces when she hears the disappointment in my voice. I reach out and grab her hand. I don't know if it reassures her, but it helps me. I don't really want to get into the other reasons I thought she hated me. I know they aren't accurate; for the most part the reasons are simple, almost juvenile, misjudgments. Thankfully Catherine doesn't seem to care what other thoughts I had at the time.

"You're right. At first I did resent you for coming to Vegas. And it was the case that bothered me. Though I wasn't sure if it was you or Grissom about that case that bothered me. He didn't want me working on that case, like he thought I would screw it up just because I knew Holly. He thought I was too close, but that just made me want to work harder. And then you show up and I thought Grissom wanted you on my case to watch over me. That really pissed me off."

I take it as a good sign that she doesn't sound pissed off, and she hasn't moved her hand away from mine. I move a little closer to her, hoping to comfort both her and myself. I feel unsure of myself, like I'm going to make a wrong move and she will push me away. Maybe we should have talked through all of this sooner.

"So what about after the case? When Grissom hired me to work here, it still seemed like you didn't like me. It wasn't the same kind of hatred I felt from you when I first met you, but there was still a definitely feeling of animosity."

Catherine takes a deep breath before saying anything. I get the feeling the words she's about to say are somehow incredibly hard for her to admit. I squeeze her hand gently, trying to let her know without words that she can tell me anything, even if it seems hard to say.

"Well I've got to admit occasionally I've got a pretty bad temper. I shouldn't have treated you the way I did. You were here to do a job, and despite the unwelcome greeting you did your job as it should have been done. I really respected that. I still do respect that."

I know that there is more to her explanation, that these were the simple words for her to say. She said them without thinking, but she is still hesitant about something.

"It really sounds like there is something more that you want to say. But, you know, if you don't think you can, it's okay. I'm really happy we've talked through this much. It might not seem like much, just rehashing our past like this, but I've learned a lot about you, and even myself. So whatever it is can wait if you're not ready."

Catherine looks at me, and while I still see the shadows in her eyes, there aren't as many of them now. I don't know if it's because of the things she's already said, or the things she's going to say. Whatever it is that took those shadows away, I'm grateful for it.

"You made me see something in myself that I thought was long gone. Something I wasn't ready to deal with again. Not at that time in my life."

The words are spoken softly, but with a familiar seriousness. And even though I'm almost certain I know what she's talking about, I wait for her to continue.

Part 9

Catherine lapses into silence again. As I look at her I can see that she is thinking heavily about what she is going to say. I don't know what to do with myself, so I simply pull her into my arms for a hug. The position is awkward and uncomfortable, with both of us leaning partially across the couch and into each other.

I hear a deep sigh from Catherine as she leans heavily into me. I hold her tight in my arms and make a few adjustments in our positions so that I am now sitting on the couch facing forward, with Catherine facing me, more or less straddling my lap. I want to ask her what she means, but more than anything else I just want to hold onto her and offer her the same comfort she gives me.

"I uh ." Catherine starts, but then trails off.

"Cat, it's okay," I say as I run my hands up and down her back. She's just barely looking at me, choosing instead to cast her eyes downward, examining the space between our bodies. "Listen, you can always tell me anything. But I only want you to do that when you're ready. Whatever this is, you're not ready. I'm not going to push."

I see relief in her eyes when she tilts her head back up to look at me. I think maybe we should save any other confessions for later, but Catherine is still thinking.

"I think it's better if I do this now," she says quietly.

"But ."

"No. Now," Catherine cuts off my protest. "I think it's pretty safe to say that you know what I was doing before I became a CSI."

"Is that what has you worried? Cath, that's part of who you are; it's just another part of you I love. Your dancing gave you something I've never had; confidence in yourself."

The motion of my hands on her back stops, and I rest my palms on the curve of her hips. There are a lot more things I could tell her about her dancing, but this moment doesn't seem like the right time.

"Sara, you are confident. I see it everyday."

"No. You see confidence in my work, not confidence in who I am. I know that I am a good CSI, and that gives me confidence in my work, but I don't have a lot of confidence about who I am outside that lab."

"Well we can work on that together," Catherine says as she scoots forward on my lap, closing any remaining distance, and drops her head down to kiss me. She may be right about the two of us working on my confidence, and I certainly like the way she wants to go about it. I don't want to let her go when she pulls away.

"Sara?" Catherine asks quietly.

It takes me a minute to respond to her question, I'm still reveling in the feel of her lips, and the taste of her tongue. "Yeah?"

I would do anything to hear that confidence I know she has come back into her voice. Catherine seems so worried that whatever she says will somehow change my opinion of her. But I know her better than she thinks I do and I love everything about her, good and bad.

"Well you know that I was a dancer. And with our jobs I'm fairly sure that you also know some of the things dancers get into the habit of doing on the side."

I try to swallow a golf ball sized lump in my throat but it is stubborn and remains lodged there, threatening to cause tears. Even though I think I'm somewhat prepared for what's going to come next that doesn't make it any easier to hear the words.

"Yeah. Yeah, I do." The lump in my throat nearly cause me to choke, and Catherine notices right away.

She turns her eyes from me, not wanting to see my reaction. I think if I wasn't still holding onto her hips that she would probably move as far away from me as possible right now.

"You know how a lot of dancers turn tricks on the side for extra money?"

Dear god, please tell me she didn't do that. It was a long time ago, I know. And I also know she wouldn't have done anything like that unless it was an act of desperation. But even that knowledge doesn't shake the overwhelming fear I have.

"It wasn't that. I'd never do that."

I'm not sure if I'm ecstatically happy to have confirmation of this, or utterly pissed that she even mentioned it if that wasn't what she was trying to tell me. It's amazing how you can go through so many emotions all at once. The anger is superficial, but it's still there. She had to have known that I would think that she was trying to tell me she turned tricks.

"I did, however, get into drugs pretty heavily."

Ah. She said it to soften the blow. Make me think the worst first so that the real bad news didn't seem all that bad after all. That's not a very nice trick.

"I know."

Catherine snaps her head in my direction and looks at me bewildered. "You know what?"

"I know that you did drugs. Or at least some. Cocaine."

"How did you know that?" Catherine looks both shocked and relieved.

"Well I guess I didn't know specifically. Like you said, with this job you begin to notice certain things about the dancers in this town. Some turn tricks, some do drugs, some do things far worse. There was that one time when Nick asked how you could tell by looking that something wasn't cocaine. That's not something you normally just pick up on the job, not with the small amounts you were looking at. And there was Eddie screaming about how he paid to clean up your nose."

"Shit." At the mention of Eddie's little tirade Catherine's head drops and I can tell that she's both pissed and embarrassed. I cup her chin in my hand and force her to look at me.

"Cat, don't worry about it. It's not a big deal. You went to rehab, you cleaned up. That's all that matters anymore."

And really it's not a big deal, or at least it shouldn't be to anyone who knows Catherine. Without knowing anything specific I'd say it's been probably 15 years since she went into rehab. It hasn't effected her job or her relationship with her family. Well maybe it effected her relationship with Eddie some, but not with her sister or with her daughter, and those are the people that count.

"Do the guys know?" Catherine asks quietly. I think I see tears at the corners of her eyes and I can't help but wonder if she really thinks the guys will love her any less for something she did so long ago.

"Not unless you told them. I mean, Grissom probably knows, being a supervisor and everything. And I'm guessing that since you and Warrick are so close that he probably knows too. But not Nick, not Greg, and certainly not any of the other techs. But you know it wouldn't matter to them anyway, right?"

"I think I do. But, then again, you never really know."

"Catherine anyone who knows you now would be able to see the fantastic person that you are. Your past can't be held against you. You obviously didn't get into any trouble with it, or you wouldn't have the job you've got now. Those guys love you and they would never let something from so long ago get in the way of that."

Part 10

"You think so?"

"I know so," I tell her, wrapping my arms around her and crushing her in a hug.

The silence doesn't seem to get to me as long as I can hold onto her. The soft sounds of her breathing next to my ear is just enough sound to keep the fear at bay.

"You know, I always thought you were more confident than this." My voice is barely above a whisper. With her head so close to mine it feels as if I would be shouting if I talked any louder.

"More confident than what?" Catherine asks.

"I guess I just thought you had enough confidence that something like this wouldn't bother you. It was a long time ago and you know the guys love you."

"No one has complete confidence Sara. We all have things that get to us from time to time. And yes, I know I shouldn't worry about it, but I still do, and I think I always will."

Catherine speaks into my shoulder. I don't hear any sounds of apprehension or nervousness so I think she may be simply be comfortable where she is and unwilling to move, even to talk. And that's fine by me, because I rather enjoy holding her so close.

"So are you okay then? I mean tonight's been kind of a roller coaster of emotions. From happy to sad and back to happy in just a few hours."

"Yeah, I'm fine. It feels better to have talked through things. I realized with all the talking that we've done lately, we've never really talked about me. I admire your ability to talk so much without running the gamut of emotions like I did."

She doesn't seem to realize that I did bounce from emotion to emotion while talking. It's just that I've had years of practice of hiding my emotions from people, even her. And that's something I want to work on. I think what I really want is the romance novel type of familiarity with her, so that she can take one look at me and know what I'm feeling. It's slightly unrealistic as I know that people really aren't that good at communicating with each without words, but I'm going to try.

"Catherine I did that too. I just think it's less noticeable with me because I've gotten pretty good at hiding my emotions."

Catherine finally pulls back slightly from my embrace. She is almost nose-to-nose with me when she speaks, "You don't have to hide them from me."

I open my mouth to speak; I want to tell her that I know I don't have to hide my feelings from her, not anymore. Before I say anything I feel her lips covering mine and she is pushing me further back into the couch. It feels like the first time every time she kisses me; my heart rate increases and pounds in my ears, I find myself unable to think of anything but her and how good it feels to be with her like this.

Her lips apply the most teasingly soft pressure against mine even as the rest of her body crushes me into the couch. Her kiss is light and playful with little nips at my bottom lip. Only when I dig my fingers in her hair and groan in frustration does she open her mouth enough to allow my tongue to slip in. I feel fire burning through my body just before Catherine pulls away, breathing hard.

The blue of her eyes has almost completely disappeared, replaced with deepening black of desire. There is a look in her eyes, almost indescribable, but I've seen this look twice now and each time I end up writhing underneath her, begging her for release. I respond immediately to that look, my body temperature increasing with my arousal.

Catherine's hand moves easily under my t-shirt and I gasp at the shock of her cool hand against the heat of my skin. She leans forward for another kiss, resting her hand against my side, waiting until our temperatures match before sliding her hand upward. As her hand moves the shirt moves with it, until Catherine's lips pull away from mine and she yanks the shirt over my head.

Catherine looks down at me, her eyes moving across my slowly across my exposed skin, almost as if this were the first time she had seen me like this. The intense heat of her gaze fuels a desire in me that I didn't know I had. It feels like I want to consume her, to make every part of her mine. I want her screaming my name at the height of passion until her voice cracks and she can't speak anymore. I want her pleased and sated, knowing that no one but me can make her feel that way. I've never before been scared of my desire for a lover, but this primal, possessive need frightens me.

Catherine senses my unease when my muscles tense under her gentle touch. Her eyes question me even as her hands slip across my shoulders, slowly moving the straps of my bra down my arms. My hands move down her back as I close my eyes and try to lose myself in the feel of her hands on my skin and the sensation of her lips gently pulling and sucking on my ear.

My body is still tense when Catherine leans forward, sliding her hands around my back to ease open the clasp of my bra. Even the gentle movements of her against me cannot quell the fierce possessive need I feel for her. Catherine braces herself, pushing one hand into the cushions on the back of my couch. My control slips and a sound very close to a growl comes from my throat as I feel my bra fall away and her free hand immediately moves to cup my breast.

My hands grip her hips tightly, and I'm afraid that I've hurt her when I hear her whisper my name. I relax my grip when she repeats my name, this time her voice is much closer and I can feel her breath against my neck.


I can hear the question in her voice but the only response I can come up with is a grunt. I'm afraid that if I try to talk my voice will give away my thoughts. And I don't want her to know what I'm thinking right now. If it frightens me to want her in the ways I'm thinking about, I'm certain it will scare her.

"Sara what is it?"

I feel the loss of her body heat immediately as she sits back. She is still straddling my legs, but there is distance between us and I can no longer feel the heat of her hands or the softness of her lips. I realize that my body is still tense and Catherine has become concerned.

I open my eyes, knowing that when she looks into them she will be able to see just how much I want her. Thankfully my eyes can't give away the fact that I want to literally rip the clothes off of her, or that I want to somehow leave my mark on her. My desire is conflicted; the more primitive part of my brain wants to push her to floor and take her, but I don't want to hurt her and something tells me that if I do this it will hurt her.

When my eyes meet Catherine's, I watch as hers go wide. I don't know if it is desire or shock I see in her eyes, but seconds later I turn my head from her gaze not wanting her to a side of me I didn't know was there.

"Sara, what is it?" Catherine asks again.

When I don't respond, she puts a hand on my chin and forces me to look in her direction. She's not going to ask again, but I can see the concern and the seriousness in her eyes.

I'm not sure I can handle looking at her as I talk, so I close my eyes again. "I want you."

Catherine gives a slight chuckle before responding. "I know you do. But there's something bothering you."

I might as well face the demons with her, rather than trying to over-think things. I take a deep breath before continuing, "I don't think you understand. I want you. I want to take you and make you mine. I want to mark your body as mine so that if anyone ever sees you, they will know you belong to me. I've never felt this, I'm not sure I like feeling this way."

I open my eyes and see a smile cross Catherine's lips and she closes the distance between us. I close my eyes again, not sure what to expect from her.

"So that's what has you so tense?"

Her voice is whisper quiet, but I hear her loud and clear as she has moved her head to my shoulder. I don't know if I can answer her question, so I simply answer her with a nod of my head. She feels my answer and her response sends a shiver down my spine.

"So let's relieve that tension."

Part 11

For a moment I sit motionless, still tense and surprised at Catherine's response. I guess I expected shock, or maybe something far worse, like revulsion at the mere idea. But instead she seems willing; more than willing by the way her one hand is almost roughly kneading my breast. Before I let myself think too much about it, I decide to just go with the feelings and see where we end up.

My hands grip her hips tightly and when I expect to hear her groan or hiss in pain, she only encourages me with moans. I feel her lips on my neck and on my ear, never staying in one place long enough for me to focus on the sensation. I think Catherine knows exactly what she's doing to me, the teasing is distracting and frustrating and it only makes me want her more.

I want everything at once even though I know it's not possible. I want to rip her clothes off and taste her skin, I want to pick her up and move us to somewhere more accommodating, I want to feel my fingers inside her, and taste the changing flavors of her orgasm; and I want all of this right now, no waiting.

When she moves her lips to mine again I stop thinking about how much I want her and move quickly. She is now underneath me, a feral grin crossing her face when I pull away and slide my hands under her shirt quickly removing the garment. I toss the shirt across the room, not really caring where it lands, the only important thing being that the shirt is now gone.

Catherine pushes slightly off the couch as my hand moves behind her back and quickly eases open the clasp of her bra. Her arms lift one more time as I remove her bra. Finally having her at least topless I sink into her, my lips seeking out the spot on her neck where her heartbeat pulses. I suck the skin there into my mouth and bite down when she pushes her head back exposing more of her to me. There will be a red mark on this spot later, and I am unabashedly proud of that fact.

While I'm not normally like this with lovers, something about Catherine stirs the primal beast of my desire. And if the sounds coming from her are any indication, Catherine doesn't seem to mind the change in my behavior. From the sound of it, Catherine seems to be enjoying herself.

My mouth moves across her shoulders and down her chest. Catherine's hands tangle in my hair and she arches her body into me when my lips cover her nipple. My hand runs up and down her side, feeling the muscles twitch in anticipation under her soft skin. The movement of my hand stops at her chest and my thumb grazes over her nipple before sliding back down to the tops of her jeans.

I'm not sure how far she'll let me take this, but for some reason I want to push it as far as she will let me. I don't want to think about what it is that makes me want this from her, but I'm glad she seems to understand the need that drives me.

My hand moves around to the back of her jeans, and with none of the gentleness I've shown her before my hand moves quickly between the fabric of her jeans and her soft skin. I meet no silk resistance and my brain stumbles over the fact she is wearing only jeans, my jeans. My fingers dig into the soft flesh and pull her toward me.

Catherine makes a sound similar to a whimper as my mouth moves away from her chest. My thigh slides easy between hers and I press hard against her as I lean down for a kiss. With my hand holding her to me and my thigh pressing hard, Catherine doesn't have much room to move, but she finds a way to flex just enough so that her lower body can grind into my thigh. I feel a powerful rush of arousal through my body caused by her movements.

I pull away from her, the only contact between our bodies is the hand I still have cupping her ass. I relax my fingers, no longer holding her up and she slumps into the couch as I remove my hand. Catherine is breathing hard and she looks confused when she finally opens her eyes. Her movements had distracted me, only for a second, but I don't want to be distracted.

I simply shake my head as my fingers move toward the button of her jeans. Catherine looks frustrated, but her hands immediately join mine and she hurriedly helps me remove her jeans. Catherine throws the jeans somewhere over my shoulder. My hands are already separating her thighs by the time I hear the soft thump of the fabric hitting the floor.

Catherine's hands move to my hair, and she tries to gently pull me closer to her. I don't move to where she wants me; instead I plant kisses up the inside of one thigh, alternately sucking and nipping at the flesh. My fingers gently trace trail through the wetness coating Catherine's outer lips. Her hips jerk toward my hand, but I deny her what she wants.

Somewhere above me Catherine is cursing me. I can her saying 'fuck' every time her hips move and I pull my hand away, and 'oh jesus' every time my hand returns.

I am surrounded by her arousal. Her legs are practically shaking under my lips. Her fingers are in my hair, gently pulling with increased urgency. I can smell her arousal even as I coat my fingers with it. I pull my hand away from her one last time, grinning as Catherine starts cursing again.

Catherine shouts something unintelligible as I push two fingers into her. The fingers in my hair give up their gentle pulling and Catherine's hands push into the couch, using the leverage to lift her hips toward my hand. I continue to move hard and fast inside her, reveling in the feel of her surrounding my fingers and the sounds coming from her throat.

I move my head up her thigh, realizing that later there will be marks on her legs where my lips have been. I'm proud of this, though part of me worries that I might have actually hurt her.

Catherine doesn't even seem to be aware of my movements. Her eyes are squeezed tightly shut and her head is thrown back into the cushions. Her hands are pushing into the cushions, fingers flexing and scratching the upholstery as she tries to grip some of the cushion in her fist. I have to use my second hand to push her bucking hips back down so that I can keep my fingers moving inside her.

I become aware of an insistent pounding noise in the background. At first I had thought it was just the sound of blood rushing to my head, but the noise gets steadily louder. I push the racket to the back of my mind as I lower my head back to Catherine's skin.

Catherine's foot slides off the edge of the couch and on to the floor with a soft thud as she opens herself up even more to me. I see her hands move to the edge of the cushions so that she finally has something she can get a grip on. When she finds something to grip the movement of her hips slows, though she is still thrusting her hips to meet every movement of my hand.

The pounding in the background is soon joined by the ringing of my phone. I can't tell how long the sounds have been echoing through my apartment; the only thing I want to hear is Catherine. Her moans are low and throaty, and I know that soon her voice will disappear altogether.

When I finally move my lips and tongue to taste her, she jerks her hips again and I have to push her back down. Her incoherent moans turn into a chant of my name, interspersed with the names of deities. I keep my fingers moving inside her, adding a third as my tongue presses against her throbbing clit. I am rewarded with the sound of my name being cut off with a scream of ecstasy.

I suck the sensitive flesh into my mouth and Catherine's hands immediately return to my hair, pushing me into her as her hips rise off the couch. I can feel the pulsing of her muscles pulling my fingers farther inside her and trapping them as a new rush of wetness spills over my fingers. Her voice is completely gone and has been replaced with steady, heavy breathing.

I wait until her fingers relax in my hair before moving away from her. I notice her legs twitch as I remove my fingers from her. Even now, with her lying exhausted on my couch I still want to touch her, to have her.

My fingers leave a trail of wetness across her stomach as I brush them across her skin. I lower my lips to her and let my tongue trace the path of my fingers. I love the taste of her skin and it is even more exhilarating flavored with her satisfaction.

The pounding I heard earlier returns louder, if it ever really went away; I think I just blocked the sound out. Much to my disappointment Catherine begins to move under me and I hear her whisper something about moving. I don't want her to go anywhere but where she is now.

I raise my eyes to look at her, knowing that if she looks in them she will know that I don't have any intention of letting her move. I don't care who is on the other side of my door, I have everything I want and need right here.

"You should really get some clothes on and answer that," Catherine whispers, eyes still closed.

"I'm not going to."

"Why not?"

"Because whoever is on the other side of that door is not nearly as important as you." I stretch out above her, leaning down to kiss her. "And I still want you."

Part 12

It's amazing how when I kiss Catherine, everything else just fades away. I no longer hear the pounding at the door, the sounds of television, or anything else. She wraps her fingers in my hair and gently pulls my face away from hers.

"Sara, honey. You know I want this, right?" Catherine asks me.

"Yeah," I say as I try to lower my head closer to her. She's got quite a grip in my hair and I think I might scalp myself if I try to move again.

"And you know someone has been knocking on your door and calling your phone for quite a while now?"

I let out a heavy sigh of resignation, knowing exactly where she is going with this. Her fingers release my hair and she puts her palms on my shoulders.


"Okay." Catherine lifts her head and her lips graze mine. "Then we should both get dressed and see what the hell is damn important."

She sounds almost as irritated as I feel. I know she is being the voice of reason; the person at the door doesn't seem to be going away and as much as I want to, I can't simply ignore them. Whatever it is that brought the person here really must be important if they haven't given up on me answering the door yet.

I was hoping that they would just go away when I didn't answer, but that doesn't seem to be the case. To be honest, I know it is one of two people on the other side of the door; Warrick or Grissom. I'm only slightly ashamed to admit that no one else in Vegas knows where my apartment is. Warrick only knows because I brought him here earlier this week. And while Grissom has never been here, he would be able to look up my address in my personnel file anytime he wanted.

I can't think of a good reason for Warrick to be here, and he would have stopped knocking a long time ago. I haven't been counting the minutes, but I'm fairly certain that it's been a while. I doubt that Warrick would still be knocking on my door after all this time, and I remember hearing the phone ring and I don't think Warrick knows my home number.

So that leaves Grissom. And the mere thought that he is standing outside my door is enough for me to decide that I don't want to answer the door. It is not like him to come here and his persistence is unusual too. But Catherine is right, whatever brought him here is damn important.

"Allright, allright already. Hang on," I shout at the door, hoping that Grissom will stop pounding relentlessly on the weak wooden door. By now I'm surprised that the old door hasn't fallen apart under his fist. Thankfully Grissom lets up and the noise stops.

I reluctantly let Catherine up off the couch and watch as she tries to figure out what happened to her clothes. I can't help but laugh when she turns to me and asks if I know where her bra is. The question is entirely serious, but when I look around my living room and realize that clothes are tossed about everywhere, I can't help but find the situation amusing.

Grissom is standing just outside the door, Catherine is standing naked in the middle of my living room, and I'm sitting on the couch with nothing more than a pair of jeans on. Catherine fails to see my amusement in the situation and continues her search for the missing bra.

When she finally finds it, she takes her remaining clothes in her arms and heads toward the bedroom. Along the way she stops to toss my t-shirt at me.

"At least put that on before you answer the door," Catherine says with a smile before she disappears. I pull the t-shirt over my head and walk into the kitchen.

"Sara?" Grissom's voice questions from the other side of the door.

"Yeah Grissom, just a second." I quickly wash my hands in the kitchen sink, realizing that my apartment smells of sex. If Grissom manages to get within two feet of me, he would be able to tell that it was very, very recent sex. I'm just not sure I could handle it if he actually said something. As it is I can already feel a blush on my face from just thinking about it.

I open the door wide and gesture for Grissom to enter. I wonder what's keeping Catherine in the bedroom. I doubt she'd be as embarrassed as I am about the circumstances, but I hope she comes out here soon, so that I don't have to do this by myself.

Grissom takes a look at my rumpled appearances and quirks an eyebrow at me. At one point, I used to think these little facial expressions of his were cute and endearing. Now, as my face heats up and turns red, I just wish he would tell me what he's thinking. Actually, maybe it's best if he doesn't.

Grissom stands quietly by the door, glancing around the apartment. If you're a private person like I am, working with trained investigators can really suck. He doesn't say anything, but I'm certain he is doing the same thing Catherine and Warrick did when they first took a look at my apartment.

It is almost amusing the way each of them goes about learning more about me. Warrick walked right in, immediately checking out everything he could see openly. He paused to ask questions, but mostly just observed and offered his insight. Catherine quietly looked over everything, but was more interested in asking questions than analyzing my living space. Grissom is hard to read. He seems to just be looking at everything, as if he will magically discover something new about me.

"So, you wanted something?" Ouch. That came out a lot harsher than I had intended. A look of hurt passes through his eyes at the tone of my voice, but he answers immediately.

"Yeah." He seems really nervous, and I can't figure out why. It's hard for me to tell what he's thinking. Normally I can just watch his body language and his eyes to figure out, at least partially, what he's thinking. But he's giving me no clues today.

"So. Um. You want to stand by the door all night? Or are you going to come inside, sit down and tell me what exactly is going on?"

Leaving him no option but to follow me, I head into the living room and sit on the couch. I really hope Catherine comes out here soon and sits either next to me, or on the other side of the couch, so that Grissom is forced to sit in one of the chairs. Sitting down, I notice that the blush on my face now seems to be permanent.

Grissom quietly follows me, trying to be surreptitious in his observance of my apartment. He's not making any overt gestures to look around, but after years of knowing Grissom, I know to watch his eyes and not his movements. He sits in a chair next to the end of couch where I am seated. From this chair he can see everything in the living room, but his back is turned to the rest of the apartment.

And when I see Catherine enter the living room again, I am immediately glad that Grissom couldn't see her walk in. I shake my head at her slightly, hoping that Grissom doesn't notice. My small effort is in vain as she continues to walk into the living room in what would seem to be nothing more than my bathrobe.

"Hi Gil," Catherine says to him, calm as ever.

Grissom looks over his shoulder and watches as Catherine walks over and sits next to me. The look on his face is a mix of shock and disappointment.

Part 13

If this wasn't my apartment, I would be running out of here as fast as I could. I knew that I would have to talk with Grissom about my relationship with Catherine, but this isn't exactly the way I would prefer to begin this conversation. I thought Catherine had gone into the bedroom to change, not to just throw on my bathrobe.

I am so utterly embarrassed that I seriously contemplate whether it is physically possible for me to die in this moment. Scientifically, I know it's not possible, but right now I really wish it was. I can't even look at either of them.

"Uh, hi Catherine," Grissom speaks quietly. Grissom and I seem to be in the same situation; barely able to speak and possibly more than a little embarrassed.

It amazes me that Catherine doesn't seem the least bit uncomfortable. I cant' really imagine a time when Grissom would have seen her in a bathrobe, and if he has, I don't think I want to know about it; but she acts as if this were something the three of us did everyday.

Catherine lays her hand possessively on my wrist and the feel of her hand seems to calm the raging of my pulse. I can get through this if she is here with me.

"So, you wanted something Grissom?" My nervousness is reflected in the high pitch of my voice. Catherine notices and I feel as her fingers slide up my wrist to interlace with mine.

"Uh. Yeah." Grissom looks between Catherine and I.

Without any words I can tell that Grissom understands the body language between Catherine and I. It would be hard notice to notice the way she is leaning into my body or the way her hand is tenderly, but strongly, holding onto mine. And of course there's the fact that Catherine is sitting on my couch in a bathrobe.

Grissom doesn't look inclined to say anything further, and I can tell that he is trying to figure out at what moment my relationship with Catherine might have changed.

"So what's the news on Rayn?" I ask to fill the silence. Catherine gives my hand a reassuring squeeze and once more I find myself wondering how I am lucky enough to have this woman in my life.

Grissom sees this question as I intended it; a way to avoid the conversation about our personal lives. This question has scientific answers, and science is something Grissom can talk about much better than anything that is personal or involves emotions. He understands why I asked and for a brief moment I see a sliver of a smile cross his face. Before talking his face turns completely serious and if I look close enough I can see a sympathetic sadness in his eyes.

"You two were pretty close right? Wait, that's obvious. What do you know of her medical history?"

To anyone listening in, his tone might sound cold or uncaring. I know that it is the scientist in him trying not to get too close. And while his question may seem a little odd, I know that he wouldn't ask if it didn't have some bearing on her death. I'm torn between being relieved and frightened. It would be good to know that her death was not the result of any kind of criminal act; but it scares me that someone I knew so well, someone my age, could die of natural causes.

"She was very healthy the last time I was in a position to know her medical history. She just showed up in Vegas after being gone for many years and I don't really know much about her health anymore."

For the first time, I realize what it is like to be on the other side of this discussion. The discussion where someone is told that a loved one has died and why. I've been on the other side for so long and never realized how scared and uncertain someone feels when the victim was someone they knew.

I find myself wanting to hide bits of my life with Rayn from Grissom and I wonder how many other people have done this. What could we have learned from the family and friends of victims if they had been completely honest with us?

"According to Doc she died of a brain aneurism. He can't say for sure, but he thinks she probably suffered from migraines on a regular basis. Doc says it's not uncommon for someone her age who suffers from migraines to have a brain aneurism. He thinks there is a good possibility she was on medication for the migraines and simply stopped taking it, making the occurrence of an aneurism more likely."

I sit silently for a moment thinking about everything that he has said. It is likely that her parents would have known about her health and I wonder if anybody has been able to get a hold of them. It's hard for me to believe that Rayn would have stopped taking any medication, but I don't doubt that Doc is right.

"Has anyone called her parents?" This time the question comes from Catherine, though it feels as if she had been reading my thoughts.

"I don't think so. Nick got some information from the stuff in her hotel room, but he wanted someone to talk to Sara first. He figured that since she know the victim, maybe it would be better if she talked with the victim's parents."

I tense when he calls Rayn 'the victim'. I know it is part of his natural response, if you give the victim a name, they can become a part of you. And if you let one victim inside, eventually they will all be there. Grissom calls it detachment and it is the main reason so many people with our jobs suffer from burn-out and quit. It can be hard to see and hear the things we do everyday and not let it get to you. But this isn't just a victim, it's a friend. And to hear her so depersonalized hurts.

Catherine seems to know what I'm going through, and she squeezes my hand a little tighter. I didn't even notice, but her other hand has reached out started slowly running up and down my forearm in a soothing motion.

It suddenly hits me that she probably had a similar conversation when Eddie died. She was there for most of the work being done on his case, but I'm almost certain from her comforting gestures that she's been in this position before. Maybe if I had stayed and worked with the guys this would be easier to deal with.

"Um. Okay. I haven't talked to them in years, but it would probably be better to hear from me than from an anonymous voice. When I come in to work later I'll pick up the info from Nick."

Grissom looks quietly between Catherine and I before asking, "Are you sure you should be working?"

"Yes." I make sure that my tone is final and decisive. I look at Catherine and hope she understands that we can talk about that later if she really needs an explanation. Catherine probably thinks I should take some time off to mourn and deal with things, but she nods her head slightly, acknowledging my decision.

Out of everyone I know, Grissom will understand my need to have the work as a distraction. I know that on more than one occasion he too has buried himself in work.

"Okay. But you know you can take time if you need it," Grissom says giving me an easy out if I decide not to return to work.

"I know. If I think I need to, I'll take the time off. But right now, what I really need is to get back to work. I feel foolish enough for walking out mid-shift."

"Sara ." Both Grissom and Catherine start. I wave off their comments and shake my head.

"No. I know what you're going to say, and you're right. Staying wasn't a good option. But work is a part of me, and I feel foolish for leaving. I'm not apologizing for leaving, just pointing out that I don't like shirking my responsibilities. And if it's not bad enough that I left, I took Catherine with me, leaving just you and Nick on the night shift."

At the time, I hadn't really thought of anything other than how much I wanted Catherine to be with me. But when Grissom called earlier, and then showed up at my door, I really felt horrible for leaving the guys short-changed. I know they won't say anything about it, but they don't have to.

"Sara, honey. It's okay. You know I wanted to be here for you. But I did have to clear it with Gil first, and he agreed. Neither of us thought you should be alone."

Gil bristles when he hears Catherine call me honey. I suppose he probably wasn't prepared for that. He probably wasn't prepared for anything he's seen since he walked in my door.

Part 14

Silence surrounds us. It's been some time since any of us has said anything. I keep looking at Grissom, expecting some sort of reaction to the exchanges between Catherine and I. Catherine even looks momentarily stunned when she catches the mixed look of hurt and anger on Grissom's face.

"I, uh. I'm going to grab something to drink. Gil, would you like some water, maybe an iced tea?" Catherine gently extracts herself from me and starts to move toward the kitchen.

"No," Grissom answers quickly as he starts to get up from his chair. "I should be going. Shift starts in a few hours."

I glance at the clock and for the first time realize that I have spent the whole day with Catherine and it really only felt like it was a few hours. The sun rose and set and I didn't even notice.

"Shit," I curse, hopefully underneath my breath, and move off the couch. "Grissom, don't leave just yet."

Grissom looks surprised that I've told him not to leave, but not as surprised as he looks when I put my hand on his shoulder and push him back down into his chair. I find Catherine in the kitchen leaning up against the counter as she drinks from a nearly empty glass of water. When I walk up to her, she puts the glass on the counter behind her and opens her arms to me for a hug.

"I'm so sorry," I say to her, leaning in close. I feel her arms wrap around me and her hands slide up and down my back.

"Sorry for what?" She asks. Even though I can't see her, and her voice is barely a whisper, I can tell that she is confused.

"You've been here all day. What about your life? And Lindsey? It was selfish of me to keep you here."

And it was. I never once asked her about Lindsey, or if she needed to leave for any reason. I was just happy that she was here. But now I feel miserable that I've kept her from having her own life, that she didn't even get to see her daughter today. I bury my head in the soft fabric covering her shoulder and repeat my apology to her.

Catherine's arms squeeze me tight for a second before she moves her hands to my shoulders and lightly pushes me away. I'm reluctant to leave the comfort of her embrace, even when I feel so bad that she stayed with me all day. I know that she wants me to look at her, that she is going to tell me something she obviously feels is important. But the moment I open my eyes I am distracted by the shadows of cleavage I can see as the robe she is wearing shifts with the movement of her arms.

I'm only slightly ashamed to admit that I have temporarily forgotten what my purpose was when I came in here to find her. Catherine's chest rises and falls quickly as she chuckles at my distracted state of mind. Her hand comes up to cup my chin and she pushes my head up so that I am forced to face her.

"Sara," Catherine says. She tries to be serious, but the smile playing at the edge of her lips betrays her. "I wanted to be here. And I think you needed me to be here."

"I know that, but what about Lindsey? I didn't even think about Lindsey. She is your priority, not me. She should always come first." Her hand is still cupping my face, making it slightly difficult to talk.

"Sara, baby, Lindsey is my priority. But now, so are you. I talked to Nancy before we came home last night. She understood, and I told her to call Warrick if she needed anything. Nancy knows where I am and how to get a hold of me if she has to."

I didn't hear anything she said after the words 'we came home'. I can't tell if it's a simple slip of the tongue, or if there is something else hidden behind those vague words. Now really isn't the time to put too much thought into three little words, but they make me happy nonetheless.

With a grin on my face I grab one of Catherine's hands and pull her toward the living room. "C'mon I left Grissom in the living room."

Grissom hears our footsteps and starts to get out of his chair once again. When he stands, he turns and notices Catherine's hand still in mine and I see a flicker of hurt cross his face.

"Grissom, I really think we should talk about this." Catherine's hand squeezes mine in support and I'm almost certain I wouldn't be able to this without her.

He looks at me as if he has no idea what I'm talking about. I can't tell if he's trying to avoid the issue because he doesn't want to talk about it now, or because he doesn't want to talk about it at all. But I can't let him leave without saying something.

Grissom takes a long look at the two of us, his eyes moving down to where our hands are clasped together. "Is this going to have any affect on your work?"

The question isn't directed to either of us, and since he's not looking specifically at either of us, I hesitate for a second not knowing if I should say something or if it should be Catherine.

"No," Catherine and I respond at the same time.

Grissom quirks an eyebrow at our unified response, but otherwise shows no emotion. Part of me can't believe I find this mysterious quality attractive. And I realize I do still find it attractive, only now I think it's more of an intellectual attraction than anything; I just want to find out what he's thinking that he's not saying.

"And if it does?" This time he looks right at Catherine.

She doesn't hesitate before responding, "If it happens, we'll deal with it then."

This is obviously not the answer Grissom was looking for. I can't read the expression on his face, but the one thing I know is that it isn't a happy one.

"We'll deal with it then?" He repeats.

"Yeah," I say. "We'll deal with it then. Grissom we're adults. We're professionals. But it's not like we're psychic. I'd like to believe that this won't affect our work, but if it happens, it happens. We can deal with it then, just as we would if the personal lives of anyone got in the way of work. If Nick or Warrick or even Greg let their personal lives interfere with work it wouldn't be any different really."

Catherine looks at me quietly. In her eyes I see agreement; she knows that the future is completely unpredictable and there's nothing we could do to guarantee that personal and business can stay completely separate. In Grissom's eyes I see acknowledgement of my words, but hesitation at the meaning.

"Look, can we sit down and talk about this?" I don't know how much more of this conversation there is going to be, but our positions make this feel confrontational. That's definitely not the feeling I want to convey.

Grissom, who hasn't moved more than two feet from the chair he was sitting in earlier, sighs heavily but turns to sit. I look at Catherine and silently cock my head toward the bedroom mouthing the word 'clothes' to her. Catherine walks quietly to the bedroom, leaving Grissom and I alone again in the living room.

Part 15

It seems to me that there is a lot to be said between Grissom and me, but it doesn't really feel like it's going to be said. Grissom isn't exactly the kind of guy you sit down and have a heart-to-heart chat with. He looks tired and, for the first time, aged. I can tell that he doesn't want things to get personal now, but I'm not willing to let him walk away.

He would not have come to my apartment simply to tell me about Rayn. For that news he would have waited for me to call him or simply waited until I returned to work, because despite his protest earlier he knows that I would have come in tonight.

Catherine is taking her time in the bedroom. She's probably waiting for me to start this conversation myself. The only problem is that I don't know where to start. Hopefully this time when she comes out it will be in something more than my bathrobe.

"Grissom why did you really come here tonight?" I ask him as I sit in the same spot on the couch that I occupied earlier. We might as well start with this question so that I can see how easily it will be to talk with him.

"I wanted you to hear the news about Rayn in person. I didn't want you to have to hear that over the phone," he answers quietly. He's telling the truth about that, but I can tell from the way his eyes refuse to look in my direction that that wasn't the only reason.

"And?" my tone is a little harsher than I had intended, but I know there is more to this. I think I know the real reason, but I'm not sure he wants to admit it out loud. If he says anything there's no taking it back, no pretending that it didn't happen. I don't think Grissom is ready to deal with that.

"And what?" he has at least stopped looking around the room; his attention is now drawn to the door that leads to my balcony.

"You did not come all the way to my apartment, for the first time in four years, to tell me that Rayn's death was natural. I can almost see you coming out here to tell me that her death wasn't, to maybe deliver the bad news in person, but even then it's a stretch of the imagination. Grissom we've known each other for years, I've lived and worked here for four years, and you've never once stopped by my apartment."

He remains quiet and Catherine slips back into the living room, virtually unnoticed by both of us. My concentration is on Grissom, as if just by thinking and willing him to talk he will do so. Catherine sits on the couch with me but not as close; even she can feel the growing tension in the room.

"I wanted to see how you were doing. Obviously you're doing fine and I should really go." He finally turns to look at me and the __expression on his face is completely unreadable.

"I am doing fine. I think I did a lot of my grieving for Rayn when she first left my life. It's been less than a week since she showed up here in Vegas and a lot has happened since then. Don't get me wrong, I feel a sadness that hasn't gone away, and probably won't for a while, but it really feels like it's nothing I can work through."

I turn to look at Catherine as I say those last few words, knowing that she is a big part of the reason the sadness isn't so overwhelming. She gives only the barest hint of a smile in return, but it is more than enough for me. She may have had the confidence to walk out here in nothing but my bathrobe earlier, but I can feel that she is tense about what Grissom and I are talking about.

Grissom has his own way of being incredibly vague about the things he wants to say. He can be very blunt, but oftentimes he leaves you with a riddle to figure out. His words and his actions indicate to both Catherine and I what I am almost certain Grissom won't say out loud.

"So you came all the way out here to check up on me. Even though you knew Catherine was here." I'm taking small steps to lead the conversation, unsure of how he will react.

"I didn't know she was here like this. Friend maybe, concerned coworker of course. But I didn't know it was this." He gestures weakly with his hand and his eyes move to the floor, studying the carpet at his feet. There is no anger in his voice, only sadness and regret.

"Like what?" I ask, and when he doesn't respond I ask again. "You didn't know she was here like what?"

"I didn't know it was the two of you. Not just friends, but more." He looks up at me and the sadness in his voice is reflected in the shadows of his eyes.

"Are you okay with that?" I watch as he hesitates, clearly wanting to think about what he says. "Look I know you didn't really expect to come over here tonight and see this, or have this conversation. But you did come over here, and it wasn't just to tell me about Rayn. I really do think we should do this here and not at work though. I think it will be easier on all of us if we talk now and try not to let it get in the way of work."

"You're probably right about that, but I just can't do this today. And I'm too late. I really need to go," Grissom says as he moves to get up.

I want to stop him, but Catherine places her hand on my leg before she too gets up. I keep my objections to myself and watch as Catherine follows Grissom to the door. It feels as if nothing has rally been resolved, but things usually feel that way after talking with Grissom. After a few minutes Catherine returns to the living room with a big grin on her face.

"Is he okay?" I ask quietly.

Catherine sits next to me on the couch, grabbing my hand with hers. "He will be. And he'll talk about it someday, just not today. Give him some time."

"You know I never really thought he'd be willing to cross that line. But the past few days it really seemed like he had changed his mind. He looked so hurt tonight when I tried to talk about us."

"And he was hurt. You and I both know that he has feelings for you. I'm sure finding out about us wasn't what he had in mind when he came over here. I think he's just a little shocked. But I know he wants you happy."

"Well he wasn't the only one that was shocked. What were you thinking coming out here in nothing more than a bathrobe?" I can't help but smirk.

Catherine simply laughs and chooses not to respond to my question, changing the subject instead, "Can you give me a ride to my place? I need to change clothes before work."

I agree and Catherine waits as I quickly change clothes. It still shocks me that I've managed to spend an entire day with her and it only feels like hours. I try to be as quick as possible, knowing that we still have to go to Catherine's before work.

We reach work early and I can't help but be nervous about the way things are going to go. I need to find Nick and have him give me the latest information on Rayn's parents, but what I'm really nervous about is working with Grissom now that he knows about Catherine and I.

Grissom basically gave me the silent treatment after he saw me simply hugging Rayn. I can't help but wonder what lies ahead now that he's seen Catherine in my apartment wearing nothing but my bathrobe.

Catherine senses my nervousness as we pull into the lot. Before we walk into the building she grabs my hand and squeezes gently. "Whatever happens, we'll work through it together."

I look at her and know that she is right. She has helped me so far and is willing to literally hold my hand through whatever may come. Once more I'm struck with the thought that I don't deserve someone nearly as wonderful as her.

The End

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