(disclaimers et all in first chapter)


Chapter Ten

He awoke with a sharp inhalation, eyes staring straight up, boasting no tears but still wet with emotion. Butterflies-turned-moths fluttered about his stomach, instilling a general uneasiness as the desire to sleep left him feeling barren.

He looked at the clock beside him, mentally counting the hours before work could infiltrate his mind, riddling it with others' puzzles instead of his own. Their hauntings would spread like a virus, overwhelming his own plagued-thoughts and allowing him to function, protected by a repressive shell.

He sat up, staring into the mirror that reposed against the wall, on the other side of the room. Her form was unmistakable, for dreams and reality had offered him the acquisition of a keen sense of awareness; one specific and solely in his possession. No matter where he was, who he was with or how hard he tried to fight it, his being would always find hers. His nose could pinpoint her scent from days past, his eyes could seek out her form in a crowded room, his body could sense her energy no matter how hard he tried to deny himself the pain and pleasure that danced hand-in-hand whenever he was close to her.

Kneeling on the bed, he towered over her sleeping form; curled into a fragile ball atop the covers. His knees dug into the mattress as he leaned forward; left hand then right hand falling down on either side of her body. His eyes held none of the anger or resentment which had been burning before, but regret and sadness lay dormant, reflected in his ashen blues.

One hand dared to venture close to her form, chancing a touch of much desired skin-on-skin dreams. A touch slipped to a caress, which in turn seduced his lips to hers.

She awoke to the slight movement on the bed, ignoring the shadow that shielded her eyes from the day's light. She focused on keeping her breathing steady, though her heart defiantly rebelled against her body's demand, opting instead to beat wildly in a chaotic rhythm.

His touch brought tears to her eyes, moistening her lashes while his caress offered them freedom from their lidded confines. His lips against hers released the whimpers she held, brewing in her heart and she immediately responded to the gentle mouth that now brushed against her lips.

She pushed herself up, her lips as insistent as the tears that fell. Kneeling in front of him, she cupped his cheek, holding him close as her mouth drank him in, reveling in pleasure.

Gil pulled back slightly; lust, love, fear and logic each vying for center stage. Still resting on his knees, he reached forward, gently brushing away her tears with his thumb. "I'm sorry," he whispered, his own pain shining in his eyes as he sat back on his heels.

She straddled him in a quick movement, pulling her body as close to his as possible. She wrapped her arms around her neck, pulling herself up into his lap. Her legs locked around his waist, granting her the closest physical proximity to his body. Her forehead fell against his shoulder, and she held herself there, clinging on to him; afraid that if she let go, if the last physical contact were to break, the loss would be permanent. They were two souls, lost in a sea of spirits, offered the rare opportunity of secondary encounter. She knew that if the connection was severed once more, the currents would grab them and drag them off into opposing abysses, shielded forever from the other's presence. Her grip tightened on him, and she pressed the side of her head to his cheek, wanting to feel some pressure back. "Don't let go, Gil...don't let go."

He felt her breath hit his shoulder, felt her words break off pieces of the self-restraint that encased his body. His hands tightened around her waist, pulling her body closer, crushing her small frame against his. He leaned his cheek against her head, eyes closed and mouth slightly open in a silent lament for their friendship lost. "Cath, we can't hold on to this," he spoke softly in her ear. "We can't hold on to what we never had..."

Catherine leaned back slightly, and gently withdrew from his form, her eyes never leaving his. She searched his blues while her heart ached from his words, ached from the sadness she caused. She climbed off his bed and headed towards the door, stopping to grab her shirt on the way out. Stilling by the chair, with her back still facing him, she began to put on her shirt.

"Catherine," panic struck him, forcing his mouth to shape her name, seducing his breath to carry the heavenly word out. "...I didn't let go on my own, you know. We both were just...taken in different directions by the currents. We drifted, Cath..." He shifted, now sitting down against the headboard. "To pick up and pretend that everything is okay would be a lie."

She paused, still facing away from him, and wiped away the tears from her eyes with a controlled composure.

He studied her back, words and excuses rattling out of his mouth with an unconscious decision to make her stay, no matter the turmoil it caused within. "How can we continue when we don't even know each other?"

She kept her back to him, her voice low with emotion, "then get to know me." She turned, facing him, a certain determined twinkle in her eyes.

"What?" The uncertainty in his voice was present, and it reflected in his cautious posture as he observed her advance on him.

She thrust out her hand, her palm open and inviting. "I'm Catherine."

He pressed his lips together, trying to curb the smile that was struggling to expose itself. He glanced at her hand, and then back at her as he tentatively shook it.

"C'mon, you can do better than that," she teased, applying more pressure to their handshake, hoping to jar him into a more aggressive introduction. "You shake hands like a dame."

"As I do recall, that's what you said to me back then," he chuckled slightly. "Eighteen years, nine months and twelve days," he repeated with a sigh.

Her smile glowed as she realized he was playing the game too. She reached over with infinite gentleness before her hand's swift motion clipped him on the side of the head.

"Ow, what the hell?" He cried out, glaring at her as he rubbed the side of his head.

"Seventeen days, not twelve, you bastard," she remarked casually, throwing him a triumphant smirk. "You spilled your coffee on me five days prior at the coffee shop near the French Palace."

He frowned sheepishly as a reddish colour tinted his cheeks.

"As I recall, you went to great lengths to clean the coffee off my blouse."

He smiled and just stared at her, his eyes roaming her beauty, his soul wanting to protect her's.

"You gonna just sit there and stare, or are you going to introduce yourself?" The familiarity of her words made her avert her eyes, and her mind's eye opened the imagistic vault, allowing snippets of moments from her past to filter through, granting her recollections of a younger, more withdrawn Gil Grissom. "History repeats itself, huh?"

"To a certain extent," he replied softly, eyes now holding gaze with hers. "I think the repetition is fate's way of offering an awareness, and that awareness gives us the opportunity to correct any wrongs previously done."

She leaned forward, placing her hands on his thighs as her face neared his. "What wrongs would you right, Gil?"

He swallowed hard, his eyes falling to her lips before ascending back to her blues. "It wouldn't be appropriate."

"Gil," she coaxed him, gently stroking his thighs.

"My right will wrong you, Catherine...and I can't let that happen." When she stared at him with a bubbling confusion, he sighed and leaned back against the head rest. "I'd make sure that Eddie never lay a finger on you, from the get-go. I'd make sure you were loved the way you should have been. But taking away Eddie takes away..." He glanced down, no longer able to meet her eyes.

"Linds." Her voice was smooth, and understanding. "...change doesn't have to start from the beginning of time, Gil." She studied him for a moment, taking in his sadness and insecurities. Sidling up beside him, she leaned her weight against his side, feeling him tense upon contact. "You still never told me your name, officer."

He smiled, passing a hand through his hair. "I'm not a cop...I'm a forensic scientist." He replied, glancing over at her. "I'm sorry about what happened to your friend. I'm uh...I'm just glad it didn't happen to you."

"You can't say that...you don't know me," she paused, meeting his eyes, "yet."

"I can still feel it, can't I?" He retorted, his face inching closer to hers.

"Do you feel, Mr..."

"Grissom. But call me Gil," he mumbled, his lips sliding against hers. "And I do feel something...you feel it too, don't you?"

She responded, basking in the gentle pressure of his mouth against hers. "You're quite forward, aren't you, Mr. Grissom?"

He gently nipped her lower lip, his voice coming out on a hushed breath, "I feel like I've known you for a long time...old friends, granted the chance to cross paths once more."

"Renewal."

"Development," he added, pulling back slightly and searching her eyes. One hand traveled, losing itself in her hair, cupping the back of her head. He brought her forward, placing a small kiss on her forehead. "So, tell me about yourself, Catherine."

"Well, I used to be an exotic dancer but have since established myself as a CSI. I'm part of the night shift, second in command, though everyone knows I could run the lab by myself."

"I'm sure no one doubts that," he chuckled, his lips sliding down to her temple, where he placed another tender kiss. He slipped down a bit, so that he was now resting on his side, propped up by his elbow.

She followed his lead, laying herself down on her stomach, her arms crossed underneath her. She closed her eyes, as exhaustion was beginning to sink back in. She let out a small moan, feeling his hand gently glide up and down her back, softly kneading her tired muscles. "I have a beautiful daughter and a wonderful best friend." Her voice softened with sleep, muffled by the pillow supporting her head.

"Your best friend loves you very much," he whispered, kissing her softly on the cheek.

"Mm, I know," she murmured sleepily, "but you know me, I'm not one to brag."

He let out a small laugh at her jest, feeling love echoed back from her form. "Yeah," his voice dripped with affection, soft and warm, "I do know you."

–Finis–

thank you to everyone for their kind and constructive reviews. very much appreciated.