(Disclaimers et all in first chapter)
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Chapter 3

She awoke upon feeling the bed under her upper-torso move. Her eyes slowly adjusted to the light from the window, and she glanced at the man now sitting in bed.

"Is it nice outside today?" He asked, his voice still lacking emotion.

Catherine glanced out, squinting as the sun began to warm her skin. "Yeah..." She took his hand, and placed it in direct sunlight. "Feel?"

He nodded and glanced at her, wishing he could see her face. He feared weakness, afraid that if he gave in to the severity of his accident, he would lose the battle. He had to remain strong, if not for himself, but for her - his heart. His heart broke that night, hearing her cries as sleep finally calmed her.

"The doctor said I could go home today." He spoke, as if he was discussing some trivial matter.

Catherine's brow furrowed, not understanding how he could hide his emotions so well. «Denial.» "Gil..." She knew he had to accept his accident and the longer he put it off, the harder it would be to face reality.

"Gil," she began softly, speaking to him as if he were a child. "Do you know what happened?"

His brow furrowed as he turned his head, listening to her voice. "What do you think?" He replied a little harshly. After a moment, he lowered his head slightly. "...sorry."

Catherine put a hand on his bicep. "It's okay. That's the first sign of emotion you've given me since your accident..."

"I guess I just deal with things differently." He admitted, twisting his hands nervously.

Catherine withdrew her hand. "Things? Gil, these aren't things! You're blind! Don't you get it?" Her emotions, repressed since the night, exploded in a frenzy of words she could no longer control.

He sat in silence, listening to her rant and rave. "What do you want me to do, Catherine? Rip off the bandage, say it was all a joke? I can't change what happened, and getting upset won't make me see."

She listened to his heart monitor, noting it's now erratic path and she sat down hard in the chair. "Look, I'm sorry it's just that..." She placed the back of her palm against her trembling lips.

Gil sighed, hating to see her hurting. "Cath." He held out his hand and grasped hers, gently caressing her palm with his fingers. "Don't cry - it'll be okay, I promise."

"How did you know I was crying?" She sniffled discreetly.

"You stopped talking." He offered, a slight smile in its wake. He grimaced upon feeling her hand come into contact with his shoulder.

"Wise guy."

Gil's smile faded, and he continued to stare in her direction. "I need you to stay strong for me."

Catherine nodded, and observed the doctor entering the room. "I promise, Gil. I promise."

"Mr. Grissom? Feeling better today?" Dr. Francis asked, taking off the bandages to log Gil's evolution. "Miss Willows?" The doctor called Catherine, while still inspecting Gil's eyes. "May I have a word with you, outside?" He instructed the nurse to bandage up his eyes again, to avoid any longterm exposure to harsh lights and stepped outside the room.

"I didn't want to say anything there, as not to get Mr. Grissom's hopes up, but I have some good news." Dr. Francis leaned against the wall.

Catherine looked at him expectantly, holding her breath in anticipation.

"Well, you remember the red blotches that were swimming around in his eyes; the burns due to the acid?" After receiving a confirming nod, Dr. Francis continued with his explanation. "They're diminishing. I've seen improvements from yesterday, and I expect the burns to slowly dissipate completely."

"Which will restore his sight?" Catherine asked anxiously.

"Yes and no. I can't say how severely his retinas were burnt: if it's a complete deterioration or just minor. He could be temporarily blinded or permanently." The doctor handed her a prescription. "Painkillers, because he will experience pain. The pills might not be enough, but they'll knock him out a good eight hours."

"What do I do about the pain? How can I help him?" Catherine inquired softly.

"Any means possible, I guess. Just...just take his mind off things. I think the more he dwells on his incapacity, the harder it'll hit him." He grabbed her arm as she turned to leave. "I don't think people trust the human body enough, Miss Willows. Good mental health is always the best cure." Checking his pager, he excused himself.

Catherine stepped back into the room, and stood watching him fiddle with the cloth over his eyes. "Ready to go home?" She placed her hand on top of his. "The team must be wondering what happened." She informed him.

"They don't know?"

She shook her head and then realized his condition. Before, looks were all they needed to communicate, and now she wondered if their relationship was strong enough to survive on the next level: instincts. "No, they just know you had an accident." She helped him out of his bed and made way towards the door.

"Mr. Grissom!" The nurse called, stopping both CSIs. "That gauze is rather bulky, isn't it?" As she took it off to place a thinner piece of goggle-shaped gauze over his eyes, Catherine stared at him. Her eyes took in the burns, took in the almost zombie-like stare that looked back at her. "Self-adhesive." She stated, handing Catherine a box and jarring the strawberry-blonde from her thoughts. "Change it twice a day."

Catherine thanked the nurse and grabbed Gil by the arm, guiding him towards the parkinglot. She put on her shades, feeling the light come through the see-through doors.

"The sun feels good." Gil smiled, feeling energy from the Earth's star as well as his own star beside him. "You drive." He jested, putting on his sunglasses and allowing her to lead him.

In the car, both remained silent as Catherine drove to Gil's townhouse, though physical contact was made and kept through the entirety of the trip as Gil's hand had found solace on the outside of her thigh.

He sighed, giving her thigh a small squeeze - if anything to grant himself strength as he forced his regular apathetic expression to lay in wait on his face.

The car jolted to a stop in his driveway and she stared straight ahead, hands on the steering wheel. She glanced over, noting that he was facing away from her. Her eyes fell to his ear, understanding his positioning: he was listening for her. "We're here." She stated softly, placing a hand on his, that still lay resting on her thigh. She smiled gently, realizing that she needed the contact as much as he did.

She helped him out of the car in silence, and guided him to the front door. Inside, she helped him to his room, beckoning him silently to lie down. She knelt at the foot of his bed, untying his laces and taking off his shoes. "As nice of a view it is whenever you walk in front of me, I bet you'd like something more comfortable to wear, huh?" She teased, giving his chest a small pat.

"Now that you mention it, I was feeling a bit drafty." He replied, dryly.

She placed a folded pair of jogging pants and an old t-shirt on his lap. "Need me to dress you too?" She grinned, gently stroking his cheek with her thumb.

He sat up, reaching behind and untying the ties that held the hospital gown securely. Letting it fall to his lap, he picked up the t-shirt and felt around the neck for the label.

Catherine watched as he repeated the same discovering-motions for his pants, frowning slightly as he stopped moving.

"If you keep watching, I'm going to have to charge you." He stated sternly, though humour was discernable.

She rolled her eyes, sighing out a little laugh. "Fine." She turned on her heel, staring at the wall, listening to him swing his legs over the edge of the bed. She heard the gown crumple to the floor, and glanced at him over her shoulder, just in time to watch him secure his pants around his waist.

"You peeked."

"Did not!" She clamped her lips together, trying to prevent the small giggles to surface.

"Liar."

She walked back towards him, coaxing him to lie down. As soon as she got him settled down in bed, the phone jarred each out of their thoughts. "I swear, they have this place bugged." She rolled her eyes, knowing full well that he was smiling at her pun. "I'll get you some water." She stated softly, picking up the receiver and handing it to him.

"Hello?" Gil answered. "Slow down...I'm fine." He covered the mouthpiece, and slowly turned his head from side to side, listening for her. After moments of not hearing her, he went back to his conversation with Nick. "Nicky, I'm going to be fine - whatever happens, it'll be alright." He paused, listening to the Texan frantically mouth out wishes and concerns, echoed by the rest of the team.

"Look, things happen for a reason, and," he paused, wondering whether to admit his weakness or not, "and as long as I have Catherine...have you guys by my side...I'll get over it." He smiled despite himself.

Catherine stood silently at the door, her fingers pressed to her lips. His admission touched her and rendered her speechless. She watched him wish his team and feel around for the cradle.

"How long are you going to stand there?" He asked, not surprised by her presence.

She let out a laugh. "You're going to have to show me that trick." She said, making her way to him.

"It's merely a question of getting what you want: hearing what you want to hear, smelling what you want to smell ... or seeing what you want to see." The last part was hushed and took a deep breath. "You have to go to work."

"They really need me?" She sighed, her fingers once again threading through his hair. She reached into her purse and pulled out a bottle of pills. "I won't be gone for long - I'll be back in six hours." She said, handing him one and giving him a glass of water.

"I thought the pills last up to eight hours." He said, though it was muffled by the pill in his mouth. He downed it, and rested his head against the pillow.

"I know...I want to be here when you wake up." She smiled, knowing he could feel her smile.

He grasped her hands, applying a little pressure of gratitude.

She chanced the temptation, bending down and placed a feather light kiss on his lips. It was pure, meant to convey strength and security and she lightly brushed her thumb across his lower lip, wiping off any excess lip-gloss. "Take care - call me if you need anything, okay?"

He listened to her exit his room, he listened to the door close, he listened until he heard the Denali pull out of his driveway and he continued listening for her return until the pills kicked in, and guided him into a dreamless rest.

–TBC–