Disclaimers: Not mine

Spoilers: Inside The Box



(Chapter 1)

As she watched Grissom disappear around the corner with the nurse by his side, all Catherine could think about was how relieved she was to be here. She wanted desperately to tell Grissom that it probably meant more to her to be here than it meant to him. He had no idea what she had just gone through. What she had just discovered last night from Greg and what she had just confronted in Sam Braun's office. She wanted to tell him but now wasn't the time. Grissom, and herself, had something more important to deal with now. She was determined to put aside her own troubles and concentrate wholly on being a friend to him, something she realized she hadn't been for a while.

Finding a seat in the waiting area, she flipped mindlessly through several magazines before getting bored of them and settling with looking out the window. The sun had risen fully by now and she was sure the team was in their respective homes, sound asleep and unaware of what their supervisor was going through at this moment. She wasn't sure how long she had stared blankly out the window so when a nurse tapped her on the shoulder, she was surprised to hear the young girl say that Grissom's surgery was over.

Standing up, she realized a woman, obviously a doctor who had just done surgery, seeing that she was still in her green surgery outfit, accompanied the nurse.

"Hi, I'm Dr. Roth.  I oversaw Dr. Grissom's surgery." Dr. Roth extended her hand politely towards Catherine. "You must be Ms. Willows."

"Yes..." Catherine shook the doctor's hand, trying to recall silently if she had ever met the woman. "I am."

Noticing the confused expression on Catherine's face, the doctor smiled, "Dr. Grissom mentioned that you were here with him."

"Oh, he did?" Catherine wasn't sure why but she was surprised by this. She hadn't really expected Grissom to mention her presence.

"Yes, he did. And I'm glad that he has a friend with him here. To be honest with you, I didn't think he would come in for this surgery. He seemed unsure about it, understandably, and I think it helped him to have someone by his side at a moment like this. Would you like to see him? He should be awake now."

Barely able to absorb the doctor's words, Catherine nodded with a dazed smile, "Ok."

The walk to the hospital room was short and in a comfortable silence. Catherine followed the doctor and felt, with each step, a little more nervous. She didn't understand the reason for her nervousness but by the time they had reached the closed door, she had to take a deep breath to steady her heart rate. She was sure the doctor had noticed her anxiousness but to her relief, Dr. Roth said nothing, only giving her a reassuring smile before opening the door for her.

Catherine stepped into the surprisingly spacious hospital room and was sure her heart had skipped a beat as her eyes met with Grissom's. On reflex, she turned around and noticed that the door was closed once again and apparently Dr. Roth had not followed her inside. She turned back to Grissom with a smile, "Hi."

"Hey." His voice was soft and his eyes were barely open.

"Shouldn't you be sleeping?"

"I just did for 3 hours."

"It's been 3 hours?" Catherine looked at her watch and was shocked to see Grissom was right.

This garnered a chuckle from Grissom, "Ah...so I see I wasn't the only one who slept through it."

Catherine smiled, taking it as a good sign that Grissom had his sense of humour intact and was actually smiling, but immediately turned serious when she noticed the bandage covering his ear, "How does it feel?"

"Not like much." He paused, as if trying to sense the slightest of pain but then shook his head, "I don't think the anesthesia's completely worn off yet. I'll probably change my mind in another hour." Being true to himself, Grissom spoke in a nonchalant tone and quickly changed the subject, "Did you stay here the whole time?"

She nodded, answering his question, though she knew he had already known the answer. "Lindsey's with her grandmother for the week so I don't have to rush home or anything."

"You've had a long couple of days."

"I have." She knew it was useless arguing with him. Even though she hadn't told him and she was sure Greg hadn't either, she knew he already knew about her true connection to Sam Braun. "But I don't wanna talk about that right now."

"Are you ok?" He asked quietly, not wanting to provoke her but also truly wanting to know.

"Of course I am. I'm not the one who just had surgery." She answered with a smile, hoping to lighten up the mood.

"You know what I mean, Catherine." If she wanted to lighten up the mood, he obviously wasn't going to let her.

"I know but like I said, I don't wanna talk about that right now. I should be the one fretting over you, not the other way around."

"I'm sorry I couldn't be there for you." He continued, ignoring her plea to change the subject.

She looked at him with a bit of annoyance in her eyes, but granted him one last comment, "You had something more important to deal with. Now if we continue talking about this, I'm gonna need a full report on when you found out about your hearing and why it took you so long to tell me. So what's it gonna be?" She smirked, knowing though Grissom had told her about the surgery, he was not completely ready to tell her everything yet.

He sighed with defeat, "You should go home and get some rest."

"I should but that would mean leaving you here alone to bother the nurses to death, so I think I'm gonna do the medical staff here a favour and stay for a bit."

"I'm not *that* annoying." Grissom rolled his eyes, though he was secretly grateful for her staying.

"Please, Gil, if I left, you would probably buzz the nurse and ask when you could get out of here. And if they didn't let you, you'd probably sneak out anyway, protocol and security guards be damned." She looked at him pointedly, settling into a chair she had pulled over to the side of the bed.

Grissom grinned at the truth of her sarcastic prediction, happier than he could've imagined himself after a surgery this important. It meant a lot to him to have her here. Her presence, not to mention her wishing him of 'good luck' and her hug, had boosted his confidence before the surgery. Now her continued presence and ability to downplay the seriousness of his surgery, steadied his thoughts and nerves about his future. Though not entirely prepared to tell anyone the whole story, he couldn't have asked for a better person to share this moment with than Catherine.

*To be continued…*