DISCLAIMER: I do not own the rights to CSI and will never claim them as my
SPOILERS: I took the storyline - the Cath/Sara fight and a few quotes - of Nesting Dolls and worked a short story around it. No real spoilers, unless you scroll down to read the ending first.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By Corbeau's Alcove
I knew Hank was the wrong one for me. I knew Grissom was the wrong one for me. Yet, I stumbled into some form of relationship with both.
Hank was nice. Nice is really such a bad word. I was nonchalant at first, glad for the attention if I'm to be totally honest. Sex was okay. No connection, no passion. No complaints. He had a penis, it did what it needed and then he was happy. I was unfulfilled, but it was nothing new. I learnt to live with it.
Why else would men made a vibrator if they weren't aware of their inability to fully satisfy?
Grissom. How do I explain Grissom? Grissom asked a favour, I owed him. It was temporary, the way I liked things. Solve the case, maybe do a few things that would glow on my resume. Hey, it was worth it even if I wasn't welcome.
He was there. His mind connected with mine. Purely on an intellectual plain, no real chemistry. I always needed to do right by him. A good friend who pushed me.
We still hadn't reached the sexual intercourse portion of our relationship. His intimacy was true though. He displayed a vulnerability I never thought he possessed. It came in bursts and I knew I missed it sometimes. I wasn't as perceptive as Lady Heather. Yes, he told me about her. It made sense. She'd seen so much more of the world and he needed that.
My passion was work. I poured my entire being into the cases. Often to my self harm. I just couldn't manage to switch off when the clock told me it was time to go. Hell, I didn't even leave when the shift was over. I always thought, 'if I can just find something'. It often failed to produce anything more than several toilet breaks - damn coffee - and red eyes.
Sleep was a commodity I squandered. It always made for a fun day, especially if I had a case with Catherine. We didn't hate each other. We don't hate each other. I just seem to act differently when in her presence. Or perhaps she just doesn't get me. Either way, I knew I'd stepped over the line a few times with her.
My relationship with the boys was one of a big family, always trying to out-do each other. It was a friendly competition, I always knew they'd have my back if needed. With Catherine, there was an air of unpredictability around her. She was older than the gang, Grissom excluded. I'm not sure if she saw it her job to be the enforcer but we knew Grissom wasn't good at that kind of stuff. It was almost like asking mum for the keys and getting a stern no but trying the same routine on dad and getting the answer you wanted.
We worked damn well together though. Every so often, she'd let her guard down. Every so often, I saw her beauty and felt an unfamiliar sense of jealously. Everyone knew she was beautiful, but it was in those moments that I understood what drew people to her. She had a great sense of humour, a pure and unrestricted love for her daughter and a sharp mind. She had common sense. She had worldly experience that, instead of hardening her, made her fit in.
Today day I yelled at her in the corridor, in plain view of Ecklie. I knew without doubt; I was attracted to this women. Not because I yelled at her, mind you. There was no sexual passion in my anger. It was real, believe you me.
When she showed up at my place, ready to lecture me I rolled up my sleeves and waited for the bell to signal the commencement of round two.
To be honest, I expected Grissom to fumble his way through my doorway, paint a look of sadness and authority onto his bearded face and ask me what the problem was. In his own way that is. He wasn't good at confrontation.
Catherine was his polar opposite.
"Beer?" Never hurts to be a good hostess to the woman who is about to tell me I'm fired. May need a character reference.
"Explanation," she says firmly.
"I have a problem with authority." I start, noticing she's not disagreeing with me. "I choose men who are emotionally unavailable," I add. Why the fuck did I add that? Jesus Sara, put down the beer.
"I'm self-destructive." Taking a gulp of the now warm liquid, I shrug. "All of the above."
Catherine still hasn't told me I'm wrong. I know Grissom would sit there and stare, saying nothing. I know he'd get that the 'emotionally unavailable' line would be directed, in part, to him. Still he'd say nothing. But Catherine? Her silence is making me angry. Is she waiting for me to make a further fool of myself?
"That's not exactly an explanation for today." She finally remarks, and I know she's right.
I won't tell her that though. No sense in giving her complete victory. House rules. I at least get to maintain some dignity.
"Do I need to give you one?" I challenge her.
She doesn't answer at once. Taking a seat, she shakes her head.
"I'm sure you want to get inside my head so you can give Ecklie a full report on just how long I should serve a suspension." I say angrily. I hate how she's become so chummy with that man.
"Yeah, you're right. In fact, I have a tape recorder in my jacket, ready to find incriminating evidence against you." She says with equal anger. "Grow up Sara."
"I lost my temper. I shouldn't have said what I said in public." I say. It's the closest I'll get to an apology.
"At all," Catherine says, her eyes locked with mine. Everything with her today is a battle.
I don't say anything so she can take that either way.
Personal attacks aren't my style. They leave me too open for the other person to call me - Little Miss pot kettle - black. With Catherine they seem to be my motive operandi.
"In the interest of public," Catherine stops for full effect of that word, "disclosure Sara, I did discuss things with Conrad."
Conrad. First name basis.
"Yeah?" I ask, putting my beer down.
"Seems I'm not the only one you piss off."
"Yeah?" I say again. I can see it's annoying her.
"Gil came to your rescue."
I'm tempted to say, 'yeah?' again.
"I still have my job?" I ask. It's a question I wanted to ask immediately. I don't care about Catherine's hurt feelings, I care about my job.
"You still have your job." Catherine repeats. "I'm the bad guy here apparently."
"Surely you don't want me to disagree," I ask, goading her.
"Wouldn't dream of it," she bites back, the sarcasm heavy.
"So I'm still suspended?"
"Ask Gil." Is all Catherine says.
"He won't fire you, no matter how much Conrad wants it." She says, her voice somewhat amazed. "Are you sleeping with him?"
"Are you sleeping with Gil?" She asks.
"That is not your business."
"It is if it's damaging the dynamics at work," Catherine says, taking my beer and grimacing when she realises it's not longer cold.
"Afraid you'll no longer have Grissom's ear?" I respond. Oh, that one hit - top marks there.
"I have been known to allow my sexuality to cloud my judgment," Catherine responds in clear reference to our fight.
"Are you going to move on from that?" I ask hopeful, even though it sounds silly to ask considering we just had that fight today but I know she can hold a grudge.
"Why do cases like that affect you? Why does domestic abuse bring this out in you?"
"Off the deep end you mean?" I ask. Hey, two can play that game Catherine.
"Touché," she acknowledges her own words begin used against her.
"I'm sure it's just like you and cases with children."
"Yes, but it's because I relate it all back to Linds." Catherine says matter-of-factly.
"Yeah, well the same can be said for domestic abuse and me I guess," I say.
Shit. Why did I reveal that?
"Besides, it's kind of hard for you to claim innocence here Catherine. Don't get personally involved? What about you during Eddie's case?"
"I was personally involved Sara. He was my husband."
"Ex," I feel compelled to correct her.
"More importantly, my daughter's father."
"You've never have confidence in my ability to do the job well." I mutter. There have been several occasions where I've felt that.
"I'm not here to give you a pep talk." Catherine says, standing up.
"Heaven's forbid I know what my co-worker thinks of my job performance."
"I'm not your supervisor Sara."
Ouch. Seems she and Conrad did trade conversations with each other.
"I would like to know what you think of me though." I say, opening myself up for another attack. Why not? Get it all out in one day, then I don't need to worry about it anymore.
"I think you've got a great mind for the job, but your heart over-powers the science."
"So I dedicated. I'd hardly call that a fault."
"Something happened to you Sara. I don't know what, but there is something there. It lurks behind your eyes and every so often penetrates the shell you try to keep erected around yourself."
"Whereas you're more transparent," I say, motioning to her cleavage.
"Jealous?" Catherine taunts me. I can see the dancer in her, the exhibitionist.
"Of having men objectify me instead of respect me?" I scoff.
She walks closer to me.
"Did Hank respect you?" She asks. "You were his bit on the side."
Moving even closer, she smiles when I move away from her.
"Does Gil respect you?"
I gulp but my throat is dry. All I can see are Catherine's fingers, opening her shirt. It's agonizingly slow. One button. Smile. Another button. Smile.
"Grissom respects me," I manage to say.
"He respects the criminalist. Not the woman."
Fuck she's good.
"Stop Catherine." I beg.
"Okay." She stops moving, her buttons now undone.
"I get your point," I say angrily. I won't be used like this.
"Sexuality is a powerful tool."
"Is that all?" Catherine asks, grinning widely as she sees my eyes travel down her chest.
"You have a shitload of it," I remark. "Is that enough ego stroking for you Catherine?"
"Oh, you're mad."
"Yes. I don't like what you're doing." I say truthfully, although not for the reason she may think.
"Why not?" She asks, kneeling on my couch. I'm near the window now, she's facing me but at least the furniture separates us.
"I know you're sexy Catherine. There is no need to flaunt it. I feel inadequate. Job well done."
"You don't find sexuality important?" Catherine asks.
"I know you do."
Catherine swings one leg over the couch, gracefully. The other one follows in kind.
"I use it to feel sexy. Beats fucking everything with a pulse." Catherine replies.
I don't know what to say to that.
"You're embarrassing me," I say. "Please do your shirt up."
She opens her mouth to say something but simply turns her back and does as I asked.
"Something you said when we went for drinks after Hank ..." Catherine starts, turning around to see if I'm paying attention. Our 'female solidarity' excursion was pretty mundane. We talked shop. Catherine talked about Lindsay.
"About being in love."
"I wasn't in love with Hank," I say firmly.
"I know that Sara."
"So what's your point?"
"Have you ever felt it?"
I want to lie but as I look up, I know I can't.
"You've got to open yourself up Sara."
"Yes mother," I reply, moving away from the window.
"What made you embarrassed about my partial disrobing?" Catherine switches tact. "Was it because you don't see yourself as a sexual being?"
"Are you a sex therapist?"
"I think you'd have a few good physical attributes." She says, scanning my body.
"Gee, thanks." As compliments go, that wasn't a ringing endorsement.
Suddenly, before I have any warning, her hands are cupping my breasts. I back away, hitting my head on the shelves behind me.
"Jesus!" I shout. "What the hell are you doing?"
Catherine just laughs, with further infuriates me.
"Get out!" I yell.
"Hush Sara. I was just trying to help you."
"By touching me without my permission?"
"May I?" Catherine asks smiling.
"Fuck off." I am too stunned to form a better retort.
Catherine looks up, smiling. I think she senses that I am truly in shock and her eyes soften. Putting her hands up she says sorry.
"You're a beautiful women Sara. You shouldn't feel ashamed of your body."
"Thanks for the free advice."
"Okay, I'm going." Catherine says. She turns to get her bag and I fell myself relax.
"Hey," I stop her as she's opening the door. "I just don't like to be touched," I shrug.
"I'll remember that." Catherine says, genuinely contrite.
"That is, I like it but I like a little warning." I add. Oh fuck. I've got to stop opening my mouth. "I'm not asexual." Mouth? Shut up.
To demonstrate this fact, I touch Catherine's cheek, moving some of her hair back. It flicks right back which makes her smile. I leave my hand there for a few more seconds and watch as she turns her torso closer to mine, her back leaning against the door.
"Sara, I should to go." Catherine whispers.
I nod and bend my head down to kiss her lips. It's the slightest of touches, Catherine's gasp sucks my breath into her mouth.
"Oh dear." I say as I pull away.
"Sara?" Catherine raises her hand but drops it before it can make contact with my flesh. She looks very surprised.
I just kissed Catherine Willows.
"See, not asexual," I joke lamely.
Catherine certainly wasn't expecting that, I can tell from the way she's straightening her posture.
"Ah. Sorry?" I add.
"Are you asking or actually apologising?" She asks. Now she's mad.
"I didn't want to do that." Liar, even I'm not convinced by my statement.
"You won that round Sara." Catherine says shaking her head.
"I wasn't trying to win anything." I say, a little hurt.
"Beat me at my own game. Guess you can't claim I use my sexuality anymore. Certainly not after that."
She puts her hand out and I flinch. Oh, she wants to shake my hand.
"This isn't a competition." I say, refusing the outstretched hand.
"Fine." She says. Before I can say anything, her hand is pushing my neck down with such force I have to follow it or risk a strained muscle. "Then you'd better kiss me again."
My lips crash upon hers this time. It's lost all the softness, this is an all-out attack. Catherine nips at my bottom lip and swallows my yelp, pushing her tongue into my mouth. I grab her hips and lift her off the floor, just slightly. I can't keep up with the pace of her tongue, so I move away, breaking the kiss.
I refuse to look up, my panting makes Catherine giggle. I taste blood.
"What was that?" I ask.
"A kiss." Catherine replies. Ever the comedian.
"That was more than just a kiss." I say. "You bit me."
"Let me have a look," Catherine says, brushing my hand away. She shakes her head. "It'll be okay."
"You bit me," I repeat.
"It was a little nibble." Catherine says smiling.
"It hurts." I whine.
Catherine brushes her hand down my cheek, smiling slightly.
I nod, realising I'm being too hard on her. I just need something to distract me from how much I enjoyed kissing her.
Catherine plonks herself on my couch and I can't help but follow her. I press my finger to my lip again but find only the smallest bit of blood comes off. Guess Catherine was right.
"Ah." I've always been a wonderful conversationalist.
I'm about to offer Catherine a drink when I find myself looking at her shirt. I blush when Catherine chuckles.
"Sorry you made me do this up now?" She teases.
I shake my head 'no', for I know I'll say yes if I open my mouth.
It must be the dancer in her, she can anticipate what people really want, because she sits up and begins to undo the very buttons that I insisted remain done up.
We sit in silence as Catherine's shirt comes off. She puts it next to her and stands up. In order to do something other than touch her, I fold her shirt and place it on the coffee table.
"Sara. Come here." She beckons me, indulging in a teasing smile as she sees my meticulous housekeeping. "It's okay."
It's as if I feel her assurance is the permission I need to touch skin. I place my hands on her shoulders. Her skin in warm.
"It's okay," she repeats.
I nod, but don't look up. Instead, I allow my eyes to fall to her breasts. Her bra is like something I've seen in the catalogues, but would never consider buying for myself. Such indulgence is unnecessary.
I bend to kiss her lips gently and she allows me to do so.
"You are beautiful," I state.
"My God Sara, if you don't touch me I'm going home right now." Catherine whispers hoarsely.
I don't know where to touch. I don't know how to start.
"Here." Catherine says, taking my hands in hers. "Please."
My hands are suddenly the solitary ones upon her breasts. I feel her heart bounding along at a rate I'm sure matches mine. I feel her torso move and frown until I realise she is unclasping her bra from the back. The realization of what's to come is too much for me.
"Catherine, I don't think we should." I say, moving away from her.
Catherine pauses. Looking at me, she sighs.
"Okay." She nods.
I know I'm stupid. I know I've blown a chance to be with her.
"It's ..." Why can't I find the words?
"I know." Catherine nods.
"We don't have to speak of this again Sara. I won't hold it over you." Catherine says, leaning across me to grab her shirt. I try not to gasp when I see the tiny ripple of muscle as she stretches. I put my hands in my pockets so as not to run my fingers up her spine.
"The kiss was nice." I say cringing. There's that word again. This was so much more than nice. Nice was Hank. This? This is way beyond Hank.
Catherine snorts a laugh out but I have a feeling she didn't really find my description funny.
"Shit. It was great." I say.
"Let me. It was something you liked but something you don't want to occur again. That about cover it?" Catherine spits out. "Thank you and there's the door."
"You're making me out to be the villain."
"I'll see you round." Catherine says, grabbing her bag.
"You are so fucken bull-headed," I exclaim. It shocked Catherine as well, because she stopped her march to the door. "You had a negative opinion of me the first time we met." She starts to interrupt, but I put my hand up. "It has taken a lot to try and dissuade you from that opinion and sometimes, yes sometimes, I think we're getting beyond all this rubbish."
"You were inappropriate!" Catherine yelled back.
"I was hurting!" I counter, just as loud. "I was hurting," I say softly, pleading with her to understand.
I feel the tears but I refuse the embrace Catherine immediately offers. I turn and hug myself, trying to get the emotions of today under control.
"Let me get you a drink of water," Catherine says. I hear her move away from me and silently thank her for allowing me time to regroup.
"I put the kettle on," she says. I turn to see her standing as far from me as my room will allow.
"Want me to go?" Catherine asks.
"No." I honestly cannot bear to have her leave.
"Tea or coffee?" She asks, affording me with a beautiful smile. I saw the relief as I asked her to stay.
"Coffee would be great. I'll make it." I say. It's only right, I know where everything is.
"Take a shower, I'll rummage through your stuff." Catherine teases. "Or you can just tell me what cupboards hold the cups." She adds shyly.
"Right above the kettle."
"Excellent. I'll have it ready by the time you're out." Catherine says grinning.
I move past her but turn before she walks away. I embrace her, side on and she turns into my chest, her arms wrapped around me.
"Thank you." I whisper before pulling away.
She must nods and allows me to move away from her. I close the bathroom door, shaking my head at the day I've had. A reprimand, a suspension, several lectures and Catherine. I can't even think to describe what happened in the other room.
Turning on the shower I smile.
I always knew Hank was the wrong one for me.
I always knew Grissom was the wrong one for me.
Catherine may just be the right one for me.
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