Disclaimer: I am not in anyway affiliated with that privileged group of people who own the rights to CSI. If I did, the janitors closet at the lab would be a popular place for the CSIs to make out. Grissom and Sara, Catherine and Warrick, me and Gary (have I mentioned lately that he is in love with me?) By the way, Barbie is not owned by me either. (Not as disappointed by that.)
Archive: Help yourself, just let me know where you put it.
Spoilers: Anything in the first two seasons is possible. Takes place before season 3. Eddie's alive and Catherine doesn't know about her father.
A/N: I was listening to Dido's Thank You, and it inspired me to write my first attempt at YoBling.
She was drowning. Not literally, though it sometimes felt like it. There were a pile of bills on the counter at home, each demanding to be paid. Her paycheck didn't stretch quite that far. She also had a daughter she didn't get to see enough of. And now her ex-husband was canceling his visitation with almost no notice.
"You can't do this to me Eddie. It's your weekend. You promised Lindsey." Tapping her foot angrily on the floor, she listened to another of his excuses. That's all the man was, a long list of excuses and disappointments.
"Damn it, Eddie. I'm at work. Who am I going to get to baby sit with..." she glanced at her watch, "...three hour's notice?" Lindsey was at a sleep over, but needed to be picked up by eight. Catherine was in the middle of a double homicide investigation and there was no way she was going to get off work on time.
"No, I can't just call my sister. She's out of town this week." She was going to have to think of something, though.
"Good-bye, Eddie." Furiously she snapped the cell phone closed and clenched it tightly in her hand. For a brief, but satisfying ,moment she imagined that it was Eddie's neck.
"Bastard," she muttered to herself.
"I know your not talking 'bout me." Warrick joined her in the hallway.
"Not unless your a slime ball who goes by the name of Eddie and lives to make my life as difficult as possible."
"What did he do this time?" Warrick stressed the word 'this,' well aware of Catherine's troubles with her ex.
"Nothing much. Just called me at five am to tell me that he couldn't be bothered to pick up his daughter today. Now I have to figure out what to do, and I was just on my way to interview a suspect."
"I'll pick her up," Warrick volunteered.
"Thanks, Rick, but I can't ask you to do that."
"You didn't. I offered," Warrick reassured. "Besides, Sara and I just wrapped up our case. All that's left is the paperwork. Despite anything Miss. 'I love overtime' says, we'll be out of here on time. I can get Lindsey and take her back to your house, hang out with her until you finish."
"I don't know how long that's going to be." She protested, but her resolve was weakening. It would solve her problem.
"No difference. Didn't have anything planned for today." Warrick shrugged.
"I guess, well, that would be great then. Thank you, Warrick."
"No prob, Cath."
Catherine walked toward the interrogation room feeling as if a weight had been lifted off her shoulders. Warrick headed down the hall in the opposite direction, pulling his cell phone out of his pocket as he walked.
"Hey Man, sorry to do this on such short notice, but I have to cancel our plans for today. Something came up. Work? Yeah, it's sort of about work."
Catherine was exhausted. Her shift, which should have ended at seven had only just finished now, at five thirty. Battling with the aching muscles and the sore eyes was an equally strong feeling. Guilt. She felt guilty about the time away from her daughter, but she was used to that. She also felt like she had taken advantage of a coworker. Warrick, she was sure, hadn't known what he was agreeing to when he volunteered to take care of Lindsey. He had been with her for a full nine hours now, and that was on top of a full shift.
"I'm home," she called out as she walked through the front door. A wonderful aroma assaulted her. It smelled of garlic and cinnamon, a combination that shouldn't be appealing, but somehow was.
"Mommy!" Lindsey flew out of the kitchen and into her mom's arms. "I missed you."
"Missed you too, baby. Have you been good for Warrick?"
"Yup. He took me to the park, and then we watched Barbie Swan Lake, and now we're making dinner. He's teaching me how to cook."
"Well, sounds like a good day." Catherine tried to imagine Warrick sitting on the couch watching an animated movie about Barbie, but the picture refused to form.
She followed her daughter into the kitchen. Now there's a sight I could get used to, she thought to herself. It wasn't everyday that she was treated to the vision of a six foot tall man wrapped in an apron and wealding a pair of tongs. Sometime between now and when she last saw him in the lab he had changed. His outfit of jean cutoffs and a green tank top was much more suited to the hot Vegas summer weather. And just look at how the color of the shirt brings out his eyes. Not to mention his muscles.
"So what's for dinner?" she asked, while trying to casually observe him in his relaxed state.
"Fried catfish, garlic bread, and caesar salad. Spice cake for dessert." He turned away from the frying pan to greet her. "How was your shift?"
As he asked he smiled at her, and Catherine had to take a moment before she was able to respond. The man could positively unnerve her with his smiles. It was a good thing they worked at a job where he didn't smile often. She would never get anything done.
"It was fine. Grissom and I caught the guy. Owner of a store down the street wanted to eliminate the competition. Literally." As she spoke she stepped out of her shoes.
"Sweetie?" She turned to Lindsey. "Could you go put these in my closet for me?"
"Do I haffta?" Lindsey made a big production of sighing and shaking her head.
"Yes, you haffta." Catherine teased. "Hop to it."
"So how did today go really?" Catherine asked as soon as her daughter was out of the room.
"Great. We had a blast." He really had enjoyed himself. Lindsey was quite a character, very smart. Takes after her mom.
"Really?" He looked like he meant what he said, but she had to be sure.
"Really. Once was enough for that movie, though." How he had let Lindsey talk him into watching a cartoon, he wasn't quite sure.
"I appreciate it, Warrick. Dinner too. Anything I can do to help?"
"Not a thing. Linds already set the table. I opened a bottle of wine, it's over there. Why don't you pour a glass and put your feet up?"
"I think I will." She poured two glasses of wine, setting one next to Warrick and carrying the other one with her. Instead of putting her feet up, though, she perched on one of the bar stools that sat under the kitchen counter.
"So where did you learn to cook?" she questioned after a sip of wine.
"My Grams. She said everyone should be self sufficient, men and women. Taught me to cook, clean, and sew on a button. That way, she told me, I would always look presentable, have a nice place to live, and I could always impress the ladies with a home cooked meal."
He smiled at the memory, but Catherine, for once, didn't notice. She found herself wondering how many women Warrick had cooked dinner for. Or breakfast. It's none of my business.
"If you ever decide to quit being a CSI, you could open a restaurant. That was delicious." Catherine had insisted on cleaning up the kitchen, so she was now standing in front of a sink of soapy water.
"And leave behind the glamor of decomps, trick rolls, and fingerprint dust? Never." Warrick was now occupying Catherine's former position on the stool. He hadn't protested too hard when she had insisted on cleaning, a fact he was grateful for now. There was a certain graceful elegance Catherine brought to her work, and Warrick discovered that it continued at home. She might be simply wiping down the counters with a sponge, but the way she did it and then slowly circled around to return the sponge to the sink, it was almost like a dance. He could easily see her as a professional dancer. The idea both disturbed and intrigued him. Catherine dancing, good. Catherine dancing in front of men who paid to see, bad. Catherine stripping, bad. Catherine peeling of her clothes for him...
"Mommy, can you come tuck me in?" Lindsey walked into the kitchen. Warrick was glad of the distraction.
"Sure thing, baby."
"I want 'Rick too." Lindsey looked to the man sitting at the counter. "Please?"
"As you wish, Princess."
"Thanks again for yesterday, Warrick." They were sitting in the break room, waiting for assignments.
"Yesterday?" Nick questioned. He looked from one coworker to the other.
"He helped me out with Lindsey when my louse of an ex-husband canceled his visit at the last moment," Catherine briefly explained.
"Oh, is that why you..." Nick began. He had been about to mention the canceled poker game when Warrick interrupted up him.
"...look so relaxed? Yeah. Nothing like playing at the park with a nine year old to work out the stress." He didn't want Catherine to learn of his little white lie about no plans. She looked at him speculatively, but Grissom entered the room and any question she might have had went unasked.
Catherine found it ironic that not only were she and Warrick assigned together that night, but they were working a case in a seafood restaurant.
"Apparently, his fried catfish was not as good as yours," Catherine joked when they found the dead cook in the kitchen.
"Makes me rethink your whole 'open a restaurant' idea," he returned.
"Speaking of dinner, I'd like to take you out sometime." That didn't come out the way she meant it. Well, maybe it did, but that was another issue. "As a thank you. For Linds, and for cooking."
"You don't have to. I was glad to do it. It was fun."
"Let me thank you properly."
There was definitely something wrong with him. He knew perfectly well what she meant, but the idea that he had in his head had nothing to do with a nice tame thank you dinner. Had nothing to do with dinner, really.
She insisted on picking him up for dinner. 'I'm paying for dinner, I'm driving' she told him. In a bizarre twist on dating, Warrick was pacing his living room, stopping every few minutes to observe the clock. Fifteen minutes. He had a new respect for any girl he had ever kept waiting. Ten minutes. He reminded himself for the hundredth time that this was not a date. Five minutes. Damned if he knew what happened to his usual calm and collected self. He was nervous. Why was he so nervous? Three minutes. Because it was Catherine. No one could addle him quite the way she could, just with her presence. Looking at the clock one more time, he saw that it was exactly seven. As if on cue, the doorbell rang.
"Hey Warrick. Ready to go?" She was standing in his doorway, wearing a dress. A wonderfully short black number that left her legs bare from the knees down. Warm gold metal draped around her neck and wrist, complementing her skin tone.
"Sure thing." The Vegas sun was still bright, and he slipped on his sunglasses as they walked to the car. Catherine walked before him down the sidewalk, giving Warrick a chance to view the back of her dress. What there was of it. Bare skin was revealed from her neck to her lower back with no interruption. Wow.
"So where's Linds?" Warrick was the first to break the thick silence that had seemed to descend on them the moment they got into the car.
"At home. My mom is watching her."
As Catherine drove to the restaurant, she was hyper aware of the man beside her. His cologne filled her car, and she knew that she would still be smelling him tomorrow. He was dressed in linen slacks and a blue button down shirt with a gold and blue tie. No jacket, as a concession to the heat. Good enough to eat. She had to keep reminding herself that this was not a date. It was a thank you dinner for helping her out of a tight place. This is not a date.
It was a date. From the moment they arrived at the restaurant they both realized it. Warrick was, again, the first to speak.
"Catherine, this is a little awkward, but I have to say something. You look beautiful"
"It's awkward to tell me I'm beautiful?" She meant to tease him in the same manner they often joked around at work. Somehow, her words ended up sounding serious.
"It's strange telling my coworker and friend that she looks damn fine. Weird for a dinner that's supposed to be a meal between friends."
He was being totally honest with her, and she felt he deserved the same in return.
"It's weird for me too," she admitted. "I know I asked you here to thank you for the other day, but do you think we can change the rules? Can we be two people on a first date instead of friends sharing a meal?" She tried to be her normal confident self, and wear an expression that it didn't matter to her what his response was. He saw through her mask.
"Catherine Willows, will you dance with me?" He stood up and reached a hand out to her.
It was as simple as that, and as complex. He lead her out to the dance floor, and wrapped his arms around her. It was like any one of his thousand fantasies had come true. Catherine was dancing, just for him. They stayed on the fringes of the dance floor, swaying slowly to the low and sultry sound of jazz music. It was a sound that was meant for the two of them, a perfect blending of piano and saxophone that reverberated in the air around them. Long minutes a passed without speech as they learned to communicate in an unspoken language. Eventually, Warrick broke the silence in deep and husky tones, leaning in close to Catherine's ear as he spoke.
"I know it's only our first date, but I'm going to kiss you now, okay?"
Her smile was all he needed to see. Lowering his lips to cover hers, he met her in a kiss that was more passionate then romantic. It was clear to both of them that this moment had been a long time coming. When they parted, Catherine's lips curved and she gave him two simple words.