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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

You work it out
By Rach


Part 4

I get to work early, as usual, feeling calmly contented which is definitely not usual. When I deposit my wallet, keys and jacket in my locker I smile at the sight of Catherine's locker.

Get a grip Sara. No dopey smiles, just play it cool.

Yeah, right.

I'm working in the lab, browsing through the rental car documents when I catch the faint hint of a floral smell.

"Good morning Catherine," I turn to smile at her.

"How did you know it was me?"

I tap my nose. "I've decided I like your shampoo."

"My shampoo?" She's definitely grinning. "I suppose I should be grateful that you like something about me."

I could tell her that there's more to it than the shampoo, but we're at work so I instead I ask "Is this a social call or work?"

"Social. I figured it was better to say hello without an audience. The smile might have made people suspicious."

"Whose smile, yours or mine?"

Her smile gets even broader. "I think it's the combination of the two that looks most suspicious. So, hello... Now I'm off to get coffee before Gil cracks his whip."

"Ew, bad image!" I look down at the documents in front of me. "I'll be along soon, better not leave these spread all over the place."

I watch her walk out of the room and catch myself staring at her legs, noticing the gentle curve where they join her butt.

Down girl!

I definitely need to behave at work, keep things professional.

When I do walk into the break room I avoid looking at Catherine, heading straight for the coffee instead. Grissom comes in just behind me.

"Yo Gris, what've you got for us?" Warrick says.

"You and Nick should already know your schedules."

What's this?

"You got the memo last week. You're both overdue for your first-aid recertification. You get to join some of the PD guys for a course."

"Damn, I was hoping we could get out of that. I hate those courses, I think it's those dummies you do the CPR on. They give me the willies."

"Just remember not to stick the tongue in," Greg says with a smirk.

Grissom meanwhile puts his hands on his hips. "Without the course you're ineligible for field duty, so don't miss it."

As Warrick and Nick walk out of the room Grissom turns to the rest of us.

"It's a slow night so far. Catherine and Greg, you've got a DB out at Valley of Fire, Brass should be out there already. I've got paperwork. Sara, you keep working on the remains from yesterday, if anything new comes in you'll get the case."

Catherine grins at me as she and Greg leave the room, then I head back to the lab.

A few hours later I'm sitting with the rental car documents spread in front of me. I'm thinking that either the previous renter or someone with access to the car must be linked to the hand. Looking through the rental documents I begin to suspect it's the renter. A quick check of DMV records confirms my suspicions.

The Californian drivers license provided is a fake, there is no license issued to Tamara Langdon in that state. The rental was paid for in cash, and the credit card supplied is a new prepaid card from a building society. Chances are the documents supplied for that are just as false.

I'm about to start processing the documents for any trace or fingerprints when my cell rings.


"Sara, it's Catherine."

I smile just to hear her voice. "What can I do for you?"

"I'm down in the morgue. We've just gotten our first look at our DB, it was wrapped in plastic. Anyway, Greg tells me we're working the same case."

"Your DB is a white female missing a left hand?"

"Severed at the wrist."

"I'm coming down."

It's only a few minutes walk down to the morgue, and when I walk in I see Catherine and Greg on one side of the body, Doc on the other pointing towards the back of the head.

The victim looks tall, around 5'10" by my first guess although it's always hard to guess when they're laying down. Brown hair, freckles. She's on her side with her back facing towards me.

"Preliminary COD is blunt force trauma to the back of the head," Doc is saying. "The occipital bone is fractured, as are the zygomatic bone and the maxilla. The lef toccular is shattered. There's at least another ten to fifteen blows to the head. I'll know more once I get her into x-ray."

Catherine looks up and meets my eye. "Overkill. Someone was angry. You get anywhere with an ID?"

"Struck out with DNA and prints. All I've got is a fake ID from the rental car company. Don't even know if the ID looks anything like the renter so… You guys find any ID with the body?"

"Nothing, just what you see, propped up at a scenic look-out at Valley of Fire. A corpse with a view."

Just then Doc turns the body onto it's back and I get my first look at the face.

"Damn, she's the woman from the rental ID."

"You were thinking the woman could be the perp?"

"I guess it'd be unusual, but at least then we'd have a lead."

"Don't worry ladies, you'll have leads." Doc has been looking at the hands. "Look's like our lady fought back and took some of her attacker with her." He takes scrapings from under the nails.

Catherine is watching closely, but there's something in her eyes that suggests she's thinking hard.

"Greg, can you take those scrapings up to DNA?"

"Sure thing." He takes the kit and leaves.

"Doc, anything more for us?"

"I'll get the results to you as soon as I'm done. Which of you is primary?"

I speak up. "Until DNA confirms the hand and body match we'll have to treat them separately, so send it to Catherine."

We head out of the lab, and I'm slightly surprised when Catherine pulls me aside into a storage room.

"What, suddenly you have no patience?"

"I've never had patience," Catherine grins, "Just persistence. But, seriously, we might have a problem."


"Remember that case three years ago when the defence tried to discredit you because of your relationship with Hank?"

"What relationship? Back then all we did was go to the movies together."

"Yeah, well we went to the movies together last night, or don't you remember?"

"Of course I remember!" I do, in fact I think I'm blushing just remembering that goodnight kiss.

Catherine smiles at the blush.

"Even though I haven't asked you yet, I'm hoping there might be more movies. Which means we have to be careful about work. We don't want our testimony discredited because of us."

"What do you suggest we do?"

"I think this is the danger time. It would be harder for anyone to question an established open relationship. So I think we need to keep things 100% professional at work."

"Do you think that's enough? You don't think one of us should back off the case?"

"I hate giving up cases, and this one looks interesting." I notice that when Catherine concentrates her eyes drift down, away from me to focus on nothing. "Normally Gris would probably take Greg off the case, leave it as the two of us. Maybe we should talk to him about leaving Greg with us. Like Greg would complain about working with his dream girl." There's a spark in her eye.

"Oh, jealous are you?"

"Let's see, five years of asking you out have gotten him nowhere. You went out with me first time I asked. Should I be jealous?"

"No. So, how about you tell Gil that our cases look linked, and ask for the three of us to work together. I'll check up on the DNA, then see if the surveillance from the rental company has come in."

"Okay, page me if you find anything new. Or I'll come find you when I'm done."

The DNA results are no surprise. Our hand and body are a perfect match, and Gil has agreed to us working the case as a trio unless something big comes up.

It's after the DNA that things get weird.

The first clue that this case isn't straight-forward comes when Archie pages me to say he's finished enhancing the security footage. I page Catherine and Greg before heading to AV,

"I thought you were solo on this Sara?" Archie says as the others crowd into the lab.

"Our cases merged," I explain. "How did you go?"

"You're lucky it was the airport rental office. Better cameras than most." An image comes on screen of a brown haired woman at the counter filling in forms. "She manages to keep her face away from the camera most of the time, but just before she leave..." The image progresses, then stops as the woman looks up. "I've enhanced it, here's your woman."

It's a good image, unobscured by hair.

"Nice work," I congratulate him.

"That's definitely our vic." Catherine says. I guess the perp returned the car, did we get a good picture?"

"That's your vic?" Archie looks surprised. "But wasn't the hand found in the car? That doesn't work. Yes, we got a picture from the key drop." He hits a few keys and the image changes.

The same woman is walking up and dropping off the key.

"Stop there." I point to a section of the image. "Enhance there."

Archie zooms in, then runs an algorhythm.

"What do you see?" I ask Greg.

"She's holding the bag in her left hand."

"But that means..." Catherine looks as confused as I feel.

"Our vic was alive and had both hands after she returned the car."

We've taken over the layout room to compare notes.

"Okay, options?" I ask.

"She had a fake hand, her left hand was already in the car when she dropped it off." Greg suggests.

"Doesn't work, we know the hand was severed post-mortem.

Catherine's suggestion is better. "She got the key copied, went back to the car after it was dropped off."

"Possible, how can we tell?"

"See if there's camera's covering the car park?"

"Good Greg, you're on that."

"Who else had access to keys?" Catherine muses. "It doesn't have to have been her."

"Okay, let's check out the rental company employees. See who had access to the keys. See if any employees have a record."

"How about I do that, "Catherine says, "While you see if you can identify our Jane Doe."

"Sounds like a plan."

"Hey guys," Mia interrupts. "I was just running the DNA from under your vics nails. Were there any scratch-marks on the body?"

"Nothing, why?"

"That's weird." She looks thoughtful, then drops a report on the table. "Good news is we've got a match on the DNA. Bad news is the match is to herself."

With that Mia exits, while the three of us reach for the report at the same time.

"She scratched herself? Can this case get any weirder?" I ask myself.

Greg grins. "Warrick and Nick will be so pissed to have missed a case like this from a first aid refresher."

"Okay then, lets..." I pause when I catch Catherine looking at me strangely. Oops. "Sorry, you've got seniority Cat, what do you want us to do?"

"You've had more time on the case. You're primary on this one."

I'm surprised. Catherine doesn't usually give control of a case to anyone but Grissom.

"Okay then. Greg check for footage, we need to know if our girl or anyone else went back to that car. Catherine, scope the rental company. I'll work on ID'ing our vic."

Step one in identifying a victim: go back to the body.

What do I know?

She scratched herself, but is unscratched. That doesn't help.

The severed hand and the remaining hand and arms are covered in an unusual powder. What is it?

"Minerals." Is the answer from trace.

"Minerals are everywhere, any chance you can elaborate?"

"I can identify a few," Hodges says smugly. "Garnet, biotite, quartz. Something that's either amphibole or pyroxene."

"Quartz, biotite, pyroxene or amphibole. They're not precious stones, not even semi-precious. So we're dealing with rock fragments, not jewellers."

"Probably. There are a lot more minerals there, but I'd have to identify them one by one. I'm not a mineralogist."

"We can find someone for that if we need to. So, who cuts, crushes or blasts rocks?"

Hodges thinks for a moment. "I don't think it came from blasting, it's too uniform for that."

"So that leaves us with stone masons, geologist, and labs that do geochemical analyses."

"Why labs?"

"They crush and mill the samples to prepare them."

"So, will this help ID hand-girl?"

"It helps me narrow the search. I might get something from the missing persons database."

I go back to the post-mortem report to see if there's anything we've missed.

There's a section of the amputation of the hand. Tool marks show the arm was resting on it's side, with the blade entering below the base of the thumb, the cut terminating below the pinky. The cut is clean, with minor tool marks on the scaphoid and luniate bones of the wrist, and the radius and ulna. The wrist is actually one of the easiest joints to sever because there's so much flexibility. None of this will help until we have a tool to compare to the marks.

So, missing persons.

It sounds easy. We have height, weight, physical description. You'd think that would be enough to narrow the results down.

But the report may not be accurate, so the search allows a 2-3 inch error ont he height, and 20 pounds on the weight.

And a lot of people go missing every day.

Three hours later I've broadened the search to include California, since that's where the fake ID is from. But she could just as easily be from Alaska, or New York.

And she may never have been reported missing.

I'm interrupted by Greg and Catherine's return. Actually, I jump slightly when Greg speaks behind me. "Did you get an ID?"

"A few clues, but no name. You guys?"

"The rental company looks clean," Catherine says with a smile.

"I got luckier," Greg chips in. "But it's still weird. Surveillance in the carpark, no-one touched the car after it was dropped off. We got footage of a quick inspection two hours later by a clerk, he didn't open the tyre well. Next customer takes the car out at 3pm. The hand didn't get there between the key drop and the car leaving the company."

"Good work." I look suspiciously at Catherine. "You're grinning. Your lead didn't pan out, you should be pissed off. What's going on?"

"Actually," her smile gets even bigger. "I finished with the employee records pretty quickly, so I followed a hunch. The car was at the airport, makes sense that she was planning to catch a flight. So I checked with the airlines. Our mystery woman's credit card was used to but a ticket on the one fifteen flight to San Francisco. Ticket was purchased five days before, same time as her flight here. The name was Carla Smith, same as her ID. Records show she boarded that flight."

"Any way to check that it was really her?"

"They're going to send me the surveillance from the boarding gate. Should be here in a few minutes."

"Without a warrant?"

"I've got a friend in airport security. Happy to cooperate."


Where to next? The only other open lead we have, the trace.

"Catherine, you go through the airport surveillance when it arrives. Greg, you're with me."

"Where are we going?"

I can't resist a Grissom-esque reply.

"Back to school."

"Why are we here again?" Greg asks.

I look around the campus of UNLV. "Following a lead. We need to find the geology department."

"This is my alma mater, I'll lead the way." Greg says with pride.

Five minutes later we are walking into a 1970's brick building. From there I follow the directions I'd been given on the phone. The third door we stop at displays the correct name, and I knock.

"Come in."

I push the door open. "Dr Rann?" She nods. "My name is Sara Sidle, this is my colleague Greg Sanders. We spoke on the phone."

"Of course, please come in. Call me Helen."

The office walls are lined with shelves full of text books and journals. Maps are scattered over a table, and mineral specimens line the shelves in front of the books.

A petite woman with short mussy hair waves us towards two seats in front of the desk. "You said you had some minerals to identify. Where are they?"

I take a sealed bag from my pocket. "They're ground up pretty fine."

"Just makes it more of a challenge. May I?"

I pass the bag across to her, and she picks up a hand lens from her desk to inspect the contents.

"We'll need a microscope. We'll use the double. Come with me." She's almost out the door before I stand up.

As we follow she turns back. "Where did you say this was found?"

"I didn't."

She stops and looks at me. "Can you tell me?"

"This was recovered from the body of an unidentified woman. We're hoping it might help us to put a name to the face."

"Oh." She looks down at the specimen bag in her hand, and it's obvious from her expression that she's uncomfortable with where it came from. "And this will tell you who she is?"

"It may mean nothing," I say gently. "But it may be the clue that breaks the case. We never know what evidence means until the end."

She takes a deep breath. "Right, we'd better get to it." She turns to a door, opening it with a key from the lanyard around her neck.

Fifteen minutes later I am checking through the list I have made. Comparing it to Hodges list.

"Garnet, quartz, biotite, plagioclase, pyroxene, amphibole, kyanite, rutile and ilmenite. Our guy couldn't tell the difference between pyroxene and amphibole. How did you?

"Cleavage angles."

"Cleavage has angles?"

"Look through the scope." She moves the sample, then uses the tip of a brush to pick up a grain. "See the angle between faces of this grain? Due to their crystal lattice structure each mineral has habitual cleavage planes. Amphibole is 120 and 80 degrees, pyroxene is 90. So, this is pyroxene. This one..." she slides the sample on the scope and stops at a different grain, "is amphibole."

"Right." I never cease to be amazed at how much I still have to learn. "Helen, what do these minerals mean to you?"

"Some-one is working with high-pressure rocks. They're not local, metamorphic rocks here are high-temperature, not high-pressure. What do they mean to you?" Typical scientist, always wanting to know more.

"I'm assuming our victim was cutting or crushing the rocks. Got this all over her hands and arms."

Helen looks at me. "Hands and arms? Then she was cutting, not crushing."

"What do you mean?"

"You get powder on your hands when you're crushing samples, but not on your arms. When you're cutting the splash back from the blade gets all over your arms."

"Good, that eliminates laboratories from our search. Leaves us with stone masons and geologists."

"That mineralogy would be unusual for a mason. It's not a typical granite. Although in this town you can never discount someone with more money than sense importing anything. Sara?"


"You said victim. I was assuming it was a natural death."

"No, someone was murdered."

"I know a lot of the geologists working in this town. Maybe I'd know her?"

"Okay." I pull the picture from my file. "Do you know this woman."

Her face has paled as she looked at the picture, so I don't need to hear her answer.

"I know her."

It's close to the end of the shift when Greg and I get back to the lab. We go looking for Catherine and find her in the AV lab with Archie.

"It's getting weirder." Catherine's greeting is cryptic. "We just cleaned up the airport surveillance."


"And, our Jane Doe caught her flight. She left town just after lunch on the day we believe she died."

"Not a Jane Doe anymore." I tell her.

"You've got a name?" Catherine meets my eye. "That's great. How did you identify her?"

"We got lucky," Greg says.

"Not exactly," I respond. "We followed the trace evidence, fine-grained minerals on her hands and arms. Mineralogist at UNLV was helping us identify the minerals. I showed her a photo, she recognised our vic as Kirsty Lang. She's a post-graduate student there, moved to Los Vegas about a year ago from San Francisco."

"Kirsty Lang." Catherine repeats. I've noticed she does that, uses the victims names. Grissom never does unless it's completely necessary. Interesting contrast: Catherine humanises the victim, knowing she's helping helps her get through the cases; Grissom dehumanises, looks at them as puzzles. Different coping mechanisms.

"We can't get her university records til Monday morning, we were lucky to find anyone there on a weekend at all. I'll let Brass know we've got an ID, see if they can track down the family. We can see if there's a missing persons report."

"I'll let Brass know," Catherine says. "You see if there's a report."

"What about me?" Greg asks.

"Shifts nearly over," I tell him. "How about you seal our evidence and put it in the store."

As we're walking out the door Catherine turns to me. "Breakfast?"

"Absolutely. I'm famished."

Breakfast with Catherine sounds like a wonderful end to a busy but interesting shift.

"Cool, I'm up for breakfast. Where are we going?"

Oops, I'd forgotten Greg was with us.

"Wherever, you guys pick. Meet you out front soon."

I sit at the computer while the missing persons search is running.

Damn Greg. I wanted breakfast with Catherine alone.

I catch myself. Am I being possessive?


We've only gone on one date, what right do I have to be possessive? And Greg is just a colleague.

No, I'm not being jealous of Greg, I'm being jealous of Catherine's time.

Which is stupid. She wanted breakfast with me, it's not her fault Greg is crashing the party.

Nothing comes back on the name Kirsty Lang. She's been dead for 3 days and no-one has noticed she was gone.

Some things about this job make me sad.

When I get to the car park Catherine is waiting for me. "I told Greg we'd go to our usual place. Is that okay?"

"Our usual place? I like how that sounds."

"Me too." We're both grinning. "Oh, Nancy has my car today, hers is playing up. Can I catch a ride with you?"

"Any time."

We get in the car, and after I pull out into traffic I smile across at Catherine. "At least by giving you a lift I'll get some time without Greg there."

"I guess that means you enjoyed last night?"

"I thought you could tell that."

"Well, I thought you had. But it's good to hear you say it."

Who would have thought. Maybe Catherine isn't so confident as I've always assumed. I decide to reassure her.

"For the record, I had a wonderful time. Probably the best date that I've ever been on."



Her hand moves to cover mine on the gear stick, and I revel in the warmth that washes through me at her touch.

"So," I try to sound casual. "You said earlier that you want to ask me out again."

"Yes, I just thought I should wait a few days so I don't come across as too keen."

"Too keen?" Isn't she keen?

"You know, wait a couple of days so I don't scare you off."


"But, then I thought. That's when you're dating someone you don't know. I'm not sure what the rules are for dating someone you've known for five years. Is there a rule book for this kind of thing?"

"How would I know?" I ask.

"I don't know either. I've never really been the pursuer before."

The silence after her statement is more than a little uncomfortable as we both turn the situation over in our heads. I certainly have no idea what the etiquette of the situation is. Then I think, etiquette be damned.

"Catherine, would you go out with me? Monday after work, if that fits your schedule?"

Even with my attention on the road I can see her radiant smile.

"As if I'd say no."

"So that's a yes? It's not a problem with Lindsay?"

"Lindsay is at school Monday. Nancy drops her off, so I'm free. Where will we go?"

Where will we go? Uh...

"I haven't actually decided yet. I'll let you know when I think of something."


The silence between us has changed now to something comfortable. We're both here by choice, and the lack of conversation isn't that we can't think of anything to say but rather that we are just enjoying each other's company.

I open the door as soon as we pull up beside the diner. "We better not keep Greg waiting."

"Hell no," Catherine agree, getting out from the other side of the car. "We better put on our game faces."

I follow Catherine into the diner, and we spot Greg sitting at a booth in the window, not at "our" table. I'm relieved.

"Morning ladies," the waitress comes up as Catherine slides into beside Greg while I take the opposite side. She immediately pours us coffee, then hovers with her notepad. "What can I get you today?"

"I'll have hash browns, mushrooms and beans on toast."

"Pancakes, lots of syrup."

"I already ordered," Greg says, "Big breakfast for me."

"You'll have to watch your waistline," I tease.

"No fair!"

"Huh?" What's he on about?

"Well, I can't pick on you guys, if I told Catherine that syrup is fattening she'd probably disembowel me, and you're just as bad. So how come you can comment on my food?"

"No-one ever said the world was fair." I tell him while Catherine laughs.

"Are you trying to imply that I need to watch my figure?" she asks.

"Er..." Greg has flushed, and is desperately looking anywhere but at Catherine. "Of course not, it was just an example."

It's a good thing he's so distracted otherwise he might have noticed me looking at Catherine's figure and smiling. Catherine, on the other hand, did notice, and her grin starts us both laughing.

"Poor Greg," she says. "If my figure can hold up to motherhood and the passing years I'm sure a bit of syrup won't destroy it."

"Does that mean your figure is the same as when you were dancing?" Greg asks hopefully.

"I think that's the end of that conversation." At least we're all laughing now. "So, Greg. You've got some time off next month, what are your plans?"

"Uh uh, not so fast. Sara..." Greg points at me across the table. "How was your date last night?"

"What date? I never said I had a date."

"Nope, you said you had plans. BUT, you didn't contradict me when I said date. I know what that means, it means you're too honest to outright lie. So give. Who is he?"

I sink in my seat, wishing that he'd shut up. Catherine looks amused at my discomfort.

"Come on Sara, you actually left work on time last night. Then this morning I swear I saw you smiling."

"I'm not telling you anything."

"That means there's something to not tell." Triumphant Greg in search of the truth. "You're always at work, where did you meet him?"

"I haven't even admitted there was a date. Leave it." I'm dying here. I don't like being interrogated, brings back bad memories.

"Come on..." Greg pleads. "Catherine, don't you want to know?"

"Maybe," she says coyly. "I already know."

"No way. You can't tell Catherine and not tell me!"

"Yes, I can."

"Come on, I only want to know because you actually look happy. Why would you want to hide that?"

"Maybe because it's early days. I promise that if things get serious I'll tell you who."

"All the details?"

"No, just as much as a friend is entitled to know."

He actually smiles when I call him a friend. "Can I ask a question though?"


"This was a first date, right?"

"First official date, yes."

"And it went well?"

I grin across at Catherine. "Yeah, it went really well."

Greg notices the look. "This is so unfair, you've obviously told Catherine all about it. Why can't you tell me?"

"Because, for now, it's a secret."

"It's not Grissom is it?"

"Am I ever going to live that down? No, even if he asked me I wouldn't go on a date with him. Not now."

It's nice to see Catherine smile when I say that.

An hour later Catherine and I are pulled up a few blocks from her sisters house.

"Do you want to come in with me? I haven't told Nancy anything about us yet, or Lindsay. So they'd just think you gave me a lift."

"Um..." My mind is running a mile a minute. "I don't know. It'd be kind of nice to see Lindsay. But meeting your sister scares me."

"You've met her before though," she reassures me. "Remember she picked up Lindsay, after Eddie."

"I know, and she seemed nice. But this is different." And it is. Now I'm dating her sister, her straight sister. Sure, she doesn't know, but I'm scared she'll work it out. I'm scared she won't like me.

I feel Catherine's hand on my cheek. "Where did you go just then?"

"Um, inside my head." I look up and meet her eyes. "I was wondering if your family will accept this? Accept me. What you're planning to tell them?"

She leans across and plants a quick kiss on my lips.

"What was that for?"

"It was for caring about my family. I don't know what they'll think. Nancy, well she might not like it at first, but I think she'll get used to it. Lindsay..."

Her pause tells me a lot.

"Lindsay has been pretty angry for the last few years. You met her when she was a quiet, sweet eight-year-old. Since then she's gotten into fights, started hitchhiking. I feel like I barely know her. I have no idea how she'll react to this."

"Does that mean you're not going to tell her?"

"God no, I can't do that. But not today, I need to think about the right way to tell her."


"So, are you coming in with me?"

"Will you think I'm a chicken if I don't?"

"Nope, I'll think you're sensible."

"Sensible Sara, that's me."

"In that case," her hand moves on to my thigh, "We'd better say good-bye here. All day I've been trying not to think about the way you kissed me last night. Now that I've finally got you alone and away from work..."

There are no words after that, although there's communication aplenty.

My eyes meeting hers, taking in her beauty. Her lips meeting mine, reminding me of her taste. My tongue brushing against her teeth, rediscovering the depths of her mouth. Her hands roaming over my tank top, driving coherent thought from my mind.

Until we remember that we're parked on a suburban street, in full daylight.

Then there is deep breathing, our eyes staying locked upon each other as we slowly recover our senses.

When I pull up at Nancy's house Catherine doesn't say goodbye, just touches my hand briefly, smiles, and walks up to the house.

I fell asleep thinking of Catherine. When I woke up I was cuddling my pillow, and feeling ridiculously happy.

Not something I've ever really done before.

The alarm hasn't gone off yet, so I lay in bed thinking.

It's been, what, nearly a week and a half since that fight with Catherine, the one that led to us sitting at our diner while she told me about my past. Nearly a week after that Catherine revealed that she liked me, I agreed to go out with her, and she first kissed me.

That first kiss was so innocent, but also a revelation. A simple touching of lips, but not simple because her lips lingered on mine, and I didn't want her to pull back.

Our second kiss was not innocent. It was hungry, but also tender. It was an exploration and, for me, a discovery. I'd never felt like that before, never been so lost in the moment that I couldn't remember events, just feelings.

And it wasn't just a one-off. Today, our third kiss, had the same effect.

So, what now?

We're going on another date, day after tomorrow, which I have to plan for.

We'll see each other at work tonight, but not tomorrow since Catherine has that night off.

With the way our kisses have been getting increasingly heated, where will the next kiss stop? Will it stop?

Probably it should, this feels so sudden. A week ago Catherine was an enigmatic colleague. Now we're dating, and things seem to be getting very intense, very quickly.

But with the way things are going, sometime soon we won't stop at kisses. Am I ready for that?

Honestly, I'm not sure that I am. She is beautiful, confident, sexy; I am awkward and gangly. I'm not even sure what to do. Yes, the kissing seems to come easily, and I have been thinking about my hands exploring under her shirt. But after that, it terrifies me. What if I do something wrong? What if I'm not good enough?

Somehow these questions never occurred to me in relation to men. I had a male friend in college who used to say that to men sex is like pizza: even bad pizza is still pizza. That's how it is with guys.

Women though, you only have to look at any women's magazine or talk show to know that satisfying a woman is much harder. What makes me think that I have what it takes to satisfy a woman like Catherine?

Guess I've got confidence issues. It's those issues that lead to me standing naked in front of the mirror in the bathroom trying to imagine how Catherine will see my body. I'm tall, with long legs. Chicken legs they used to be called at school, although I guess they've got a bit more muscle on them these days thanks to carrying heavy kits around at work. My stomach is curved slightly, no dead flat abs for me. Arms are also a little skinny, though I can see some muscle there. My face, pale and plain, my hair a dull brown.

This is not productive. This isn't solving a case, or helping me decide where we should go on our date. It's just making me feel small and vulnerable.

I step away from the mirror and into the shower, hoping the jet of water will wash away my doubts.

Part 5

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