Interlude 5-1: Fantasy Lost
PhDelicious

Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me and I get nothing from this except reviews.

A/N: This moment had to be one of the best acted, most emotional character driven moments in CSI history and I thought TPTB handled it well. I just wanted to put my two cents in.


Catherine

She hadn't believed her eyes at first, hadn't wanted to. She'd thought they'd had an understanding, an agreement. Of course it had been unspoken, and she, of all people should have known better. But still, after all she'd seen, after all they'd been through, she'd dreamt of sharing her life with him. It had been childish of her, but she'd had to cover the pain somehow. Then she'd caught the flicker of pain in his gorgeous eyes.

Damn it Warrick! How could you do this? I hope she's worth it!

Catherine forced herself to go back to processing the scene and tried not to listen as Warrick joked with Vartan about his marriage. She breathed a sigh of relief when the guys left to question the locals. Her relief had been relatively short lived and when she deflected his first attempt to talk to her she knew that she'd merely delayed the inevitable.

What can I say to him? If he doesn't already know, how do I make him understand? We still have to be able to work together. At least I'm no longer his supervisor.


They were working in the layout room, tracing their victim's night. They'd just identified the lot in which she'd most likely left her car when Warrick spoke.

"Hey Catherine?"

A desperate feeling tied itself into a knot in her stomach.

"Yes?"

"Can we talk? Bout this?"

She would have intentionally misunderstood him, but she knew he would just keep after it.

"Sure"

Not that I really have a choice.

"You know…what happened to Nick…it just got me thinking… life is soo short, you know. It's almost…it's almost shorter than we wanna ever believe."

God this hurts! But I can understand. Almost loosing your best friend would cause anyone to do crazy things. None of us have been the same since…Warrick more so than most. Why couldn't he have done this with me? Why did he choose her?

"Live for the day."

"Exactly…so, I, uh, I went ahead and asked this young lady I've been seeing, Tina, to marry me."

If she'd wanted to she could have deciphered the emotions plainly visible on his face, but she didn't. It would only have hurt more.

"You know that I'm happy for you."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah."

Please believe me.

"Well, it also feels like you're not so happy for me."

Don't make me do this. If I talk to you…if I say this…there's no going back. Everything changes.

"Warrick…"

When his gaze remained focused on her, she ducked her head and laughed self-consciously.

He's going to make me say it. How do I put this?

"…you know the thing that makes a fantasy great is the possibility that it might come true… and when you loose that possibility … just kinda sucks."

Catherine caught Warrick's slight flinch and allowed herself to actually look at him for the first time since she'd seen the ring. He looked worried and defeated, not at all like a happy newly wed. She understood his pain, recognized his acknowledgement their shared fantasies, the nagging questions ever present in the back of their minds.

Please Warrick just let it go. Leave it alone. Give us both a chance to adjust.

"Cath, I…"

Shaking her head Catherine held up a hand to stop him. She thought she could see tears building in the corner of his eyes as Warrick lowered his gaze to the table.

"Just…Don't."

I have to get out of here now, before we make this any worse. Before one of us says something that the other can't live with. Before I say something to drive him further away.

She pushed off the layout table and headed for the door. She wanted to just walk past him, but she couldn't leave quite yet. Catherine grazed her hand over his shoulder and down his forearm savoring the feel of him in a final lingering caress. The last she would ever allow herself.

"Be happy 'Rick."

At least one of us should be. I had my chances and I messed them up. At least I still have Lindsey.

As she left the layout room Catherine made a promise to herself.

I will give Tina a chance. This is the life he chose and I'm not going to ruin it for him.

oOo

Catherine had felt slightly guilty about not going out with the guys to celebrate, but she'd known it wouldn't have ended well. Her bitterness would have become obvious quickly and she didn't want to put the team in the middle. They were just adjusting to working together again. So she used Lindsey as an excuse and fled. It was just her luck that her daughter had chosen that day to be observant. The questions had started as soon as Lindsey had settled herself in the car.

"Mom? What's going on?"

"Nothing Lindsey. Everything's fine."

"Don't bullshit me. I haven't seen you this upset since that crazy guy showed up here and you called the cops."

When did my daughter learn to talk like that? Can I tell her? I suppose I better. She'll find out soon enough when he doesn't come by to visit anymore.

"Warrick got married a few days ago."

"He did WHAT!"

"He married his…"

"I heard you the first time I just didn't want to believe you. How could he? Without warning you or inviting everyone else? Oh Mom, I'm so sorry! I thought he was better than this. I can't believe he would just…"

Lindsey trailed off into silence as she noticed the tear trails on Catherine's cheeks. They pulled into the school parking lot.

"Mom, I don't have to go to school today. I don't have any tests or any big projects due. If you want company…"

"No, I just need to get some sleep. You have a good day."

Lindsey reached across the front seat and hugged her mother tight. Then she grabbed her bag and hurried from the car. Catherine watched her daughter as she headed into the building meeting up with some of her friends along the way.

As long as she's happy I can at least be content. If this is what it takes to put us back on good footing…if I have to give up my fantasy to get my relationship with Lindsey back on track, how can I wish it were different? But I do. If I could've had them both, that would have been worth almost anything.