(disclaimers et all in first chapter)

Chapter Three

Gil walked in the layout room, his eyes immediately finding her form. "David sent me a sample of the wax, complete with it's molecular composites." He paused a second, joining her on the other side of the table. "I love over-achievers...makes my job that much easier." He grinned, throwing her a playful wink.

She cocked her head to the side, her eyes analysing the sudden roguish behaviour that graced his otherwise serious personality. She leaned against the wall, boxed in by the table and his body, and just observed him as he meticulously unravelled the vial, which had been carefully rolled up in a cloth and identified with care. She sidled up to him, her shoulder barely brushing his, smiling as the games were about to commence.

Gil tensed up slightly, before relaxing against the minute pressure her shoulder was offering him. He side-spied her, a habit he adopted quite a while ago, and watched the intensity she attacked her work with. His right arm tingled, stemming from their mutual contact, all the way down to his fingertips. It wasn't as if he wasn't used to such a touch, but his body still reacted in such a manner that always made him blush. After emptying a bit of the contents on a small tray, he placed the vial back on the table. Taking a pair of tweezers, he picked up a small piece of crystallized wax and held it up to the light, his analytical eyes searching for any distinguishing characters. "Whoever did this, didn't brush up on their chemistry."

She leaned in close, her breasts resting against his arm. "Well, maybe they didn't want to achieve perfection."

Gil swallowed hard and placed the tweezers back in the tray. "What do you mean?"

She moved away, taking a step towards the photos that were laid out on the table. "When we got back, I went and snapped a few pictures before David started the autopsy." She pointed to a few, showing off new scars over older ones. "I checked her file," she began, holding up a folder, "and Alexandra had quite a bit of work done on her."

"So, you're saying that, these new scars are almost a reverse-metamorphosis." He looked back at the pictures, his eyes scanning each one of them. "A butterfly back into the cocoon."

She rolled her eyes, letting out a huff. "Typical."

He took a step back, his brow furrowing at her sudden change in mood. "What?"

She kept her eyes glued to the papers, not wanting him to see the hurt and anger lingering. "It's such a typical ignorant response. Just because she decided to return to her natural beauty, which off the record I don't think is the case, you automatically assume she went beautiful to ugly." Catherine gripped the edge of the table, trying to control her emotions.

"Okay, maybe the analogy I used was wrong, but you have to understand this: the cocoon is probably the most beautiful part of the transition. When a caterpillar enters the cocoon, its inner beauty exposes itself in a physical form. It's still a butterfly in that cocoon, and one could say that the freedom it gets when it breaks away, is merely more confidence." He shrugged, his personal thoughts seeping in to their conversation. "Granted, I'm not a supporter for plastic surgery unless its for reconstructive and health purposes, but sometimes we don't know what they've been through to get to that point." He reiterated some famous words previously expressed.

Catherine's mouth fell into a thin line, her eyebrow raised in an jesting annoyance. "Touché, Bugman."

He gave her a lopsided grin and stepped closer to her, trying to ignore the surprised look at his sudden bold demeanor. "So, what makes you think that Alexandra didn't choose to have her implants taken off?" He picked up the picture of her right breast and studied it closely, noting how the scars from the removal were right beneath the faded original scars from the implant surgery. "And why didn't they just follow the original scarring?"

"Exactly." Catherine agreed with his question, the same one having already plagued her for moments prior to his presence. "We're dealing with an amateur, someone who wanted to destroy her image, her physical self."

He pursed his lips, picking up the another picture, this one boasting a scar right near her breastbone, where her heart had been removed from, he assumed. "I don't know, it can go either way." He picked up his magnifying glass and held it up to the picture, taking in a closer work. "Despite the stitches falling in sync with the previous ones for her breasts, it's still pretty tight." He stood behind her, pressing his chest to her back as he held up the photo for her to see. "I'm thinking he side-stepped the original scars with the intent to give her news ones, thus adding strength to your anti-perfection theory."

Catherine inhaled sharply, discreetly looking over her shoulder at him. For a split-second, she wondered if he was playing her game too, if he had figured out or overheard her little bet with the mischievous Texan. Pushing those thoughts from her mind, she glanced at the picture, noting the careful stitching that stared back at her.

"I think you're right though - I don't think Alexandra wanted to go back to the way she was." He placed the photo back in its place and picked up one of her face. "But it looks like someone made that decision for her." He narrowed his eyes, looking at her crooked nose and uneven nostrils. He carefully extracted the 'before and after' pictures from the folder that Catherine had been holding, and held them up along with the pictures that Catherine took, in the morgue. "They gave her back her old nose." He commented, his eyes ping-ponging from one to the other.

Catherine nodded, looking over his shoulder. "Yeah, but in worse condition that the original." She cringed, thinking of the procedure.

"So, our suspect is familiar with plastic surgery - I'm thinking one of the doctors at the hospital might be able to shed some light on the who's and why's." Picking up the tray which the wax was still sitting on, he placed it under the microscope and bent down, trying to get a closer view of the substance.

Catherine's eyes followed his form, trailing from his shoulders, down the right side of his back, all the way down to his firm rear. She nervously chewed on her lower lip, wondering whether or not to follow through with her ridiculous bet with Nick. She wasn't doubting her abilities to turn a man on; her days at the French Palace had given her enough reactions to support her confidence in her abilities. The lingering doubt proved to be -his- reaction, and the impending evolution of their friendship: would things change for the better or for the worst?

"Heya Grissom." He drawled, interrupting her moment of thought. "Cath." He gave her a wink, smug and mocking.

"Nick." She clicked out his name with an abruptness that caught Gil's attention.

Still from his bent position, he glanced at her with a questioning gaze. "Nick, what can we help you with?" He asked the younger CSI, though his analytical gaze was still fixed on the strawberry-blonde. When she finally offered him an innocent smile, both eyebrows raised in a question of her own, he finally specifically addressed Nick. "Don't you have those cases of yours to close?"

Nick sighed, leaning against the table. "Aw Gris, I've been knee-deep in paper for the last three hours."

"Sources tell me that you've been waist-deep in water at the cooler, chatting up the pretty new lab tech from days." Gil stated, matter-of-factly.

Catherine stifled a giggle, masking it with a cough when both men glanced at her. Pursing her lips, she pretended to busy herself, looking over some information she printed up, on embalming.

"Nick, I'm not letting you anywhere near this case, or any other case for that matter." Gil replied, looking back in the microscope. "You'll be pulling a triple if I give you any more work, and Cavallo will be riding my ass."

"Mm, lovely imagery."

He shot her a warning glance, though playful in its intent. "Nick -"

"Alright, alright - I'm going, I'm going." The Texan acquiesced, slowly backing out of the layout room.

"Paper loves you." Catherine called out to him, a sly grin hidden behind her angelic exterior.

"Keep taking your time, Cat," he retorted, using the nickname she loathed, "his biological clock is ticking and you know that Viagra is against the rules." With a loud guffaw, Nick turned and walked out, heading for the break room.

"Viagra?" Gil glanced at his shocked partner. "Catherine, what is he talking about?" Off her cross looked, he retreated slightly. "Oh...I take it that I don't want to know." He nodded and pointed to the microscope. "Pretty straight up embalming wax was used. They just didn't heat and mix it well enough, which caused some crystallisation in the veins."

She stepped up to him and purposely leaned forward, pressing up against him. Bracing a hand on the edge of the table, she calculated her position well before bending down and looking innocently into the microscope.

His head shot up as soon as the back of her hand rubbed against his arousal. "Ay, there's the rub." He muttered, his mind taking a step back but his body not complying.

She glanced down at her hand, suddenly feeling a little more pressure applied to her hand. Chancing a look up, what she saw caused her heart to skip a beat: eyes closed, teeth clenched and lost in what appeared to be a euphoric state, her supervisor stood unmoving from their contact. She wiggled her fingers slightly, no longer focussing on her best-friend's imminent pleasure, but on the own feelings she was experiencing through the eroticism of touch. Her hand became slightly more detached from the table, daring to venture to an even more intimate level. Suddenly, a hand grabbed hold of her wrist, and she felt her back connect roughly with the wall, her arms being pinned above her head.

Gil shocked himself with his boldness, as he pressed himself further against her body, drinking in her equally startled expressing. "Catherine," he said her name slow and deliberately, "now why would you do that?" He chose a more innocent and light approach, wanting to see her reaction...even to feel her reaction, perhaps.

She was turned-on. She didn't want to admit it, but she was turned-on, and she knew that his state was heightened as well. Her lips moved before any sound came out, and she was able to squeak past a 'nothing', in answer to his knowing question.

"Well, that didn't feel like nothing." Gil added simply, moving his head to obstruct her view whenever her eyes flitted from embarrassment. "So...care to explain?" He asked finally, enjoying the way she jumped slightly when he placed his right hand on her waist.

"I - I don't know what you're talking about." Feigned innocence was the route she chose, and she hoped that he would buy her lame excuse. "I uh, I think you were right concerning the wax - I think whoever did this has some general knowledge concerning embalming procedures, but any random Joe can get that off the internet."

Gil hummed in agreement, his eyes piercing her with an intense stare. "And he or she is familiar with Alexander the Great."

"Right, David mentionned finding a film like substance coating her body. My bet is honey." She raised her left leg, resting the inside of her thigh against hip, granting him a closer feel.

He took her challenge, his hand sliding down from her waist to rest against the bare skin of her thigh, granted by her skirt having inched its way up. "That's a very good bet." He paused, sending her a sly grin. "Multiple choice question, Alexander the Great was embalmed following who's procedure: 'a' the Assyrians, 'b' the Persians, 'c' the Jews or 'd' the Egyptians?"

She leaned her head closer, until she took feel his breath hit her face. "Trick question. He was embalmed using the practice of both the Assyrians and the Persians, with a mixture of honey and wax."

He let go of her pinned wrists, letting his left hand trail down her arm, before finding home just above her hip. "Good girl. Seems as though someone did her homework."

Her mind fingered the idea of doing something else in the room, but she knew now was not an appropriate time to let herself be affected by him. Granted, his current position, hard against her thigh, was not helping her calm her libido.

"So, returning to our prior subject..." He opened the door for her to come clean, all the while allowing a sibylline touch to seep through.

"I told you Gil, it's nothing." Her composure was slowly being rebuilt, her confidence pushing a sauciness of her own.

"This wouldn't have anything to do with that little bet you and Nick have going, would it?" His tone held a certain mocking air, and he delighted in her dawning state.

"That little thing? Oh that's nothing, something completely unrelated to our - "

" - compromising situation?" He finished for her, his hand gently squeezing her thigh.

Her body jerked slightly, and she hoped that she had intercepted it enough to mask it from his eyes, though she knew such an aspiration was probably in vain. "This," she motioned between them, before resting her hands against his chest, "this is all a misunderstanding."

"Is it?" His hand ventured higher, slipping under the hem of her skirt.

Her eyes grew wide, and she nodded a response, not trusting herself to speak at the moment as his hand continued to rise up her skirt.

He gave her a pure smile before quickly withdrawing, heading back to the microscope and returning the wax back into the vial. "Well I'm sorry for putting you in that position, Catherine." He stated honestly, despite the puckish smile that was present. "No hard feelings?"

"If you say so." She stated coyly, nodding a greeting at Jim.

Gil stood there staring at her, slack-jawed in awe at her comment.

"Gil?" Jim waved his hand in front of his friend's view. "You still with us? I said that I managed to contact her the hospital where Alexandra Greetly worked, and managed to get a small," he paused, his sarcastic smile ever present, "session with her boss."

Gil nodded, as he noticed that Catherine was no longer beside him. He immediately searched for her, finding her near the entrance, chatting with Nick. As he approached, he heard mention of 'one point' and took in Nick's pouting disposition. He walked by Catherine, leaning ever-so slightly but still enough to invade her personal space. "Ay, that was goes the game."