(disclaimers et all in first chapter)

Chapter Five

Her forehead rested against her palm, elbow claiming space on the arm of the couch. The fireplace crackled noisily - a welcomed visitor to replace the one she longed for. She sighed, eyes closed lightly, trying desperately not to squeeze out any more swollen tears. She heard the first knock, registered the second one and ignored the third time the hand came into contact with the wooden door. Her eyes hugged the fire when the knocking became more insistent and, drawing strength from the flames, she wrapped the blanket around her shoulders and walked towards the door. "What do you want, Gil?" Her voice was tired, and she leaned her forehead against the cool wooden surface.

"Ma'am, can you please open up?"

She rolled her eyes, her hand clawing at the door handle through her blanketed grasp. She swung it open, having already recognized his voice. "What do you want, Gil?"

His eyes were levelled with the floor, and he only dared to raise his gaze up to her knees, soon opting to return it back to the ground, resting it on a more secure level. "Good evening ma'am, I'm collecting donations for the 'Jerk' foundation. My name is Gil Grissom, I'm the president."

She closed her eyes, sighing out a chuckle - despite not wanting to show any other emotion than anger. "I'm sorry," she began to humour him, "but I don't have any cash on me at the moment."

"Oh, that's okay, Miss." He quickly replied, eyes now boldly venturing up to her waist, not daring to rise any higher. "We're not collecting money."

She leaned against the door frame, the blanket being pulled tighter around her. "Oh...and just what exactly -are- you looking for?"


She took a step back at his quick reply. "Forgiveness?"

His eyes finally met hers, and he held her attention, silently conveying messages of remorse.

She gazed into them deeply, understanding his sincerely apologetic look. "Get in." She took a step back, closing her eyes and inhaling his scent as he walked through the door. She shut the door behind him, leaning against it as she watched him toe off his boots and hang up his jacket in his spot.

She walked past him, sitting heavily on the couch, legs curled up underneath her.

Gil had felt her move, felt her energy withdraw from his surroundings and he watched her retreat to the couch, facing the empty spot at the other end. Taking a deep breath, he walked towards the living room, crossing behind the couch, allowing his fingers to lightly caress her hair.

She shivered slightly, but tried to keep her expression neutral. She hated that he could affect her so deeply, no matter which side of the emotional spectrum: he had the power to offer her euphoria and dysphoria with one simple look. Fear had been building, whether she wanted to admit it or not, but it had been accumulating since pleasure's first wake. How long until he hurt her? She eyed him suspiciously, current fears battling with a hopeful 'happily-ever-after' delusions.

"Cath," he started, placing his hands together in a plea, "I want to start off by apologizing for doubting - "

" - it was insulting, Gil." She cut him off, turning away from him.

"I know, and I didn't mean - "

" - not just to me, by more so to you." She shook her head, eyes levelling with the fire.

"I don't understand..." He leaned to the side, trying to read her gaze.

"By doubting my love for you, you're doubting yourself as man who can be loved." She sighed, her eyes misting with tears. "And I think that's what upset me the most." Two tears escaped, racing down her cheeks. "How can you not think yourself worth a woman's love?"

His eyes sought comfort in the fire as well. "Just yours, Cath."

She wiped away a tear from her cheek, rubbing the moisture between her index and thumb. "My love..." She looked at him, anger, love and fear flashing a confusing concoction. "I have done nothing but give my heart to you. I've thanked God everyday, Gil...everyday, that you are in my life, loving me for who I am." She swiped angrily at the tears that kept free-falling from her eyes. "I breathe for you, Gil. You're my life...and..."

His eyes softened, hurt by her pain and knowing that he was the cause of it. "Come here." He reached over, pulling her curled-up form into his lap, embracing her with protection. He held on to her deeply, as a minute rocking motion lulled her into comfort.

"I gave you everything, Gil...my love, heart, body...my soul." She rested her forehead against his cheek. "How can you still doubt my love?" She whispered the last part, her voice unsteady.

He closed his eyes, feeling her uneven breath hit his neck. "I never doubted your love...I just never thought myself worthy of it."

Anger erupted once more and she slapped him hard on the shoulder. "If anyone's to be unworthy, it would be me." She yelled, gripping his shirt as she buried her face in the crook of his neck. "A stripper, a cocaine addict...beaten, used..." She took a deep breath "...and you still respected me, loved me through it all." She looked up, meeting his eyes as her voice dropped. "So who's undeserving now?"

His own eyes were wet, though the unshed tears nestled in his crystal blues. "You are my heart, Catherine." He leaned forward, kissing her hard as his emotion peaked at the thought of hurting her delicate soul. "I'm so sorry, Cath...so sorry..." He whispered over and over again into her mouth.

Her fingers clawed at his shirt, pulling herself closer into his warmth. "Just hold me...lie to me, tell me it'll all be okay." She begged him, her teeth carnally nipping at his neck.

"I won't lie to you, Cath...everything will be fine." His hand cupped her cheek, his eyes targeting her full lips. "More than fine." He kissed her once more, the excess of sensuality making up for the lack of roughness. One hand was lost in her hair while the other slipped the blanket off her shoulders. He reached under her shirt, touching the bare skin of her abdomen. He pulled back slightly, looking into her eyes.

Lust-lidded eyes answered him, her head nodding ever so slightly.

Gil sat on the floor in his office, dwarfed by brown boxes piled high. He strained to see around them, after hearing the door open, then close. He smiled, looking up at her. "Hey you."

"Hey." She bent down, giving him a delightful kiss on the lips. "So...any word on who's the new supervisor?" She took a seat in front of him, knees touching his.

He shrugged, blowing out a puff of air. "No one knows...I'm just glad Ecklie is still on Days."

"I don't know Gil - they could always move him."

"Over my dead body." He scoffed, giving her a playful nudge.

"Don't worry," she gave him a wink, "Robbins'll take good care of you."

He rolled his eyes, just as Robert Cavallo walked in. "Gil. Catherine." He greeted both CSIs while eyeing the multiple boxes in the room. "Grissom, I'd like to have a word with you in my office."

Gil raised an eyebrow, glancing at his partner. "Pain and good-fortune await, my dear." He winked, giving her a quick kiss.

Catherine smiled, and was about to lean back when a strong pair of arms hoisted her up to a standing position. "What the hell?" She laughed, slightly stunned.

"We have a meeting with Don Cavallo." He answered simply, guiding her out of the door, towards Robert's office.

"No no, -you- have a meet - "

"No...this is about us. From now on, it's us." He reiterated, stressing their union.

The two CSIs stepped into the office, immediately seeing Conrad standing beside a seated Robert. "Gil, this is a private meeting." Robert glanced at Catherine.

Gil then glanced at Ecklie. "Well, you get to keep the love of your life...why can't I keep mine?"

Conrad offered Gil a sneer and leaned against the wall, arms folded across his chest.

"If Catherine leaves the room, -I- leave the room. Anything you have to say to me, you can say in front of her."

Catherine smiled, hearing the familiar words. She slipped her hand in his, generating support and comfort from his warmth.

"So what can we help you with?"

She admired him more than ever, loving the way his whole posture changed right before her eyes. He was standing tall, a certain aggression in his eyes. She had never seen him so intimidating before, and a certain thrill ran its course through her body.

"We're prepared to offer you your job back." Robert began slowly, hands steepled in front of him.

"No one else wanted the job, I presume?" Gil shot back, his hand squeezing hers for strength.

"They refused to work under anyone else than you." Robert replied calmly. "Some even threatened to walk out if you were demoted." His eyes flicked to the strawberry-blonde.

Gil turned his head slowly, eyeing Catherine with surprise. "You would do that?"

She smiled softly, her thumb gently caressing the back of his hand. "You did it for me."

He broke out into a genuine smile, touched by her devotion.

"This is all sweet and so very touching, but we have a proposition for you." Conrad stepped forward, leaning on the Robert's desk. "You get your old job as the Graveyard Shift supervisor on two conditions: you and CSI Willows can not work together and can not be alone together, when inside this building."

Gil's face remained neutral while the Day Shift supervisor spoke. "How about this - I accept my old job as Graveyard Shift supervisor on these two conditions: Catherine and I -will- work together should a case demand our skills to ally and we'll be alone whenever we feel the need to escape your tyranny, with the hopes that you two will trust our judgement and focus your investigative skills on catching actual perpetrators." He cocked his head to the side, awaiting an answer.

Robert sighed, shaking his head. "Fine."

Gil smiled, nodding his head with appreciation. "Thank you, sir." He turned, his hand still grasping Catherine's. "Oh and Conrad...why don't you stick to the tabloids, huh? I'm sure that gossip is far more interesting."

Catherine giggled as soon as they exited Robert Cavallo's office. "I've never seen you like that, Gil." She brought her hand to cup his cheek. "I'm so proud of you, right now." She kissed him softly on the lips, conveying her love to him. She glided her lips across his cheek, to his ear. "Proud...and so turned on." She purred, nipping his lobe.

He chuckled, stepping in front of his office. Opening the door, he scooped her up in his arms.

She let out a squeal, kicking playfully. "What are you doing!" She laughed.

"Oh...I just thought we should re-christen my office."

He stepped into the room, kicking the door shut behind him.