Disclaimer: I do not own CSI or any of the characters.

Jim Brass sank down onto a bench with a weary sigh and tried to remember the last time he felt this tired. The good news was they'd finally made an arrest and had enough evidence to make it stick. The bad news was, now that it was over, the fatigue he'd been ignoring for the last few days had hit like a ton of bricks.

The smart move would have been to get up, go home, and fall into bed. Only he couldn't find the energy to move. Instead, he remained sitting in the hallway of the crime lab hoping for a second wind that didn't seem to be coming anytime soon.

Leaning his head back, he shut his eyes and toyed with the idea of going to sleep right where he was. He'd slept in less comfortable places before, but fear of being mistaken for a corpse and ending up on Doc Robbins' table kept him from relaxing completely. Nothing against the doc, but considering the way he probably looked right now it'd be an easy mistake to make.

Brass opened his eyes at the sound of approaching footsteps and smiled at Catherine as she drew closer. She'd worked a full shift plus overtime and still looked ready to take on the world. Brass shook his head in admiration as he watched her settle onto the bench beside him. "It's been said before, but I'll say it again: You're a beautiful woman, Catherine Willows."

Most women would have responded with a smile or maybe a slight blush. But then, Catherine wasn't most women. Instead, she arched an eyebrow and her face took on an expectant expression.

Brass mentally reviewed his words, trying to figure out what he'd left out and came up empty. But he didn't let that both him. He was just glad for the company. In fact, he felt almost playful as shot her a mock suspicious glance and asked, "What?"

Catherine shrugged and gave him that 'cat that ate the canary' look he loved so much as she replied, "I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop."

He looked at her blankly until she continued, "For my age. I'm a beautiful woman for my age. Right?" She shot him a know-it-all look to let him know she had him pegged, but something about the dazzling smile seemed forced.

Brass shook his head. "Sorry. You're a beautiful woman in my book. Period. No qualifiers required."

Catherine's smile was smaller this time, but a lot more real. "Yeah?" she asked as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.

He grinned back. "Oh, yeah."

She bumped his shoulder and offered, "You're not so bad yourself."

Brass chuckled, "Oh, sure. Nick's been hitting me up for style tips all week."

Catherine laughed at that, but lightly placed her hand on his arm to take away the string. As the laughter died away, she replied, "Yeah, well. Nicky thinks I'm a beautiful woman for my age." Then she leaned back slightly and tossed her hair behind her shoulders as if to get a better view of his face while she waited to see how he'd react.

Brass tilted his head slightly as he tried to figure out what had caused the sudden change in atmosphere. What had started as a playful moment between two friends had reached a level of intimacy that wasn't been there a minute ago. For whatever reason, she'd decided to let down her guard a little bit. And he got the feeling if he said the wrong thing it would go right back up again.

He decided to play it safe and say nothing. Years on the force had taught him that sometimes the best way to get somebody to talk was to give 'em room. Give them enough silence and people usually felt compelled to fill it up.

Catherine broke eye contact and turned her head to look down the hall toward the offices as she commented, "Most of them do. Greg, Warrick, Bobby… they all think I'm a beautiful woman for my age."

He wasn't sure what compelled him, but he couldn't stop himself from asking, "What about Gil?"

Catherine turned back to him and wrinkled her nose. "Grissom? If you asked him he'd probably quote some trivia about…I don't know…skin elasticity."

Brass nodded in understanding. Last year, he'd gone to the emergency room with what felt like a heart attack but turned out to be simple indigestion. When he'd confessed the story to Grissom the next day, Gil had told him the number of heart disease-related deaths per year in the United States. He knew Grissom meant it to be reassuring. He was saying it was smart to go to the hospital just to be sure. But somehow, Brass hadn't found it all that comforting.

He shook off his musings to discover Catherine studying his face as if she was seeing him for the first time. He raised his eyebrows in question, but before he could say anything a voice called out, "Excuse me, Captain? Do you have a minute?"

Brass turned to find Velasquez, a cop just out of basic training, standing in front of him. He watched the kid struggling to hold still in a way that screamed 'rookie' and winced as it occurred to him Velasquez probably thought of him as a good detective for his age. He'd been called a lot worse, but it did give him a little insight into what Catherine was talking about.

He turned back to Catherine and spread his hands apologetically. "No rest for the weary."

Her usual brashness was back as she replied, "Or the wicked?"

He gave her a quick wink as he stood up. "That too."

As he followed Velasquez down the hall, Brass realized his conversation with Catherine had given him that second wind he'd been looking for when he sat down.

Just before he stepped out the door, he turned to find Catherine was still watching him leave. "See you around, beautiful," he called out.

Catherine gave him a smile that could have energized an entire football team. "See you around."


A/N: This is my first CSI fic, so let me know if I made a mistake. I've been watching a lot of CSI repeats lately and I love the flirtatious vibe between Brass and Catherine.