A/N: A while back, someone posted a challenge about Grissom dancing. I got to thinking, why just Grissom? Why not Brass? So, this is my fluffy answer to my own question. Mega thanks go out to my friend and beta, Ethereal Journey. Any mistakes you might find are all mine. Oh, and I don't own the characters but Jim Brass totally owns me.
This takes place somewhere between Way to Go and Built to Kill 1
A Work in Progress
The detective sat alone at one of the tables in the back, away from the crowd, nursing a bottle of water and looking pretty good for a man who had still been in the hospital, recovering from a nearly fatal gunshot wound less than two months ago.
"Mind if I join you?"
Jim Brass looked up, smiling appreciatively at the sight of Catherine Willows in a silky red dress that accentuated her trim figure. "Please." He started to get up but she waved him off.
Catherine returned the smile, noticing even in the dimly lit room how much weight he'd lost. "You're missing all the fun back here."
"No, I moved back here to get away from the fun. But it found me anyway. Apparently, I'm the party novelty. You know, roll up, roll up, see the amazing idiot who got shot in the heart and lived."
Catherine leaned forward in her chair, her hands resting on his knees. "Come on, Jim, it's not like that."
"Wanna bet?" He nodded to a couple coming their way, the man Brass recognized as a patrol officer from Days. "Watch this."
"How you doing, Captain Brass? Heard about what happened. Wow, that's pretty amazing."
Brass shook the man's outstretched hand. "Yeah," he smiled amiably, "amazing."
Catherine looked on, shaking her head as the couple moved on. "I'm sorry."
Brass waved it off.
"Hey, I know you're under the 'no alcohol' rule but can you dance?"
"Can I? Yes. Will I? No, thanks."
"Aw come on."
Brass looked at Catherine, taking in a deep breath at the sight of her in the low cut dress, the fabric clinging to every curve. "You get this guy to play a slow song and I'll dance with you."
Jim took a sip from his glass. "Yeah, I promise. You have to let me lead though."
She rolled her eyes dramatically and let out a loud sigh. "Well, if you insist. Sit tight. I'll be right back."
Jim watched Catherine make her way into the crowd until she disappeared behind a sea of couples only to return several minutes later grinning conspiratorially.
Standing before him, Catherine held out her hand as the music changed from hip-hop to something slow. "Would you do me the honor?"
"I think that's supposed to be my line," Jim said, slowly getting to his feet and slipping his hand into hers anyway. He followed her to the dance floor but once they were on the waxed parquet floor, he took the lead.
Palms touching as he wrapped his fingers around her slender hand, he rested his left hand in the middle of her back as their dance began.
Sliding her other hand over the crest of his shoulder, Catherine shared his gaze, returning his smile as they drifted into perfect rhythm.
"Where did you learn to dance so well?"
"I had dance lessons when I was in Junior High. Contrary to what you might think, I was a popular guy back in the day."
"I believe it. You're a popular guy now."
"Seriously, Jim. Do you know how many people kept a vigil for you at the hospital?"
His gaze left hers momentarily as a nearly imperceptible frown flashed across his face.
He tried not to think about the events in the hotel room at the Lucky Dragon or his time in the hospital. He just wanted to put all that behind him and move on with the second chance he'd been given. But all he could do tonight was think about what had happened.
Most of what Brass could remember after Willie Cutler pulled the trigger was fuzzy at best but sprinkled among the memories he could recall were the sound of the gunshot, white ceiling tiles and bright lights, a blur of faces, and Ellie. He'd wondered later if he'd dreamed her presence but Gil assured him she was really there and had been there the entire time—until Jim woke up. After that no one had seen or heard from his daughter again.
Casually letting her hand break with his, Catherine brushed her fingers lightly against his palm then entwined them with his and gave his hand a gentle squeeze. She didn't have to ask where his mind was right now; she could tell just by looking at him. "Hey, you still with me?"
Jim looked up, catching her gaze again. "Yeah, sorry."
"You're thinking about what happened, aren't you?"
He raised his brows and nodded. "Hard not to, especially here."
Sliding her hand down his shoulder then slipping inside his jacket, she ran her fingers over his shirt, feeling warm flesh and bone underneath. "Does it hurt?"
Exhaling, Brass was vaguely aware that he'd been holding his breath. "Sometimes."
Dragging her palm across this chest, her hand coming to rest on the center of his chest, she could feel his heart beating strongly.
"Takes a licking and keeps on ticking."
This time Catherine looked away, her eyes blurring from tears she couldn't seem to control.
"Hey, what's wrong? My joke wasn't that bad, was it?" He wiped away a tear from her cheek and rubbed the moisture away with his fingers. "What's wrong?"
Stopping, she took a step back and tried to break free of his grasp but he wasn't letting go. "You're one of my closest friends and I almost lost you."
He tilted his head slightly. "Yeah, well, you didn't. I'm still here." His left hand wandered, dropping lower on her back, feeling the curve of her hip as he subtly urged her closer, feeling a little relieved when she leaned into him and rested her head against his shoulder.
Jim closed his eyes, relishing the moment between them and hoping against hope that the song wouldn't end. But he knew it would, and as the last notes faded, it did. Still, much to his amazement, Catherine didn't move away; much to his amazement he felt her hands slip around his waist and slowly slide up his back, holding on to him tightly, almost possessively. He liked the closeness, the feel of her body pressing against his as neither made a move to part, even as the next song started.
The tempo was faster this time and well out of Jim's reach given his current limitations. Reluctantly, he took a step back, his hands resting on her hips as he held her at arm's length. To his surprise, she slid her arms over his shoulders, her fingers lacing behind his next, her thumbs stroking the nape of his neck.
Jim was acutely aware that they were still standing in the middle of the dance floor, in the midst of the crowd of gyrating couples. But he didn't much care. The room could have been on fire for all he cared. Right now the only thing that captured his attention was Catherine Willows and the fact that she had made no effort to let him go. He was as much hers as she was his and the thought of that made his heart to race in a way that he was fairly sure his doctor would not approve
As he slowly edged forward, as his unwavering gaze grew with intensity, Jim felt a hand tap him on the shoulder, lightly at first and then more firmly. Pulling away quickly, he found Warrick Brown standing next to him.
"Hey, Jim, mind if I cut in?"
Jim looked at Catherine, hesitating, seeing her attention already fixed on Warrick and then shook his head no as he turned away and slowly walked back to his table. Carefully easing back into the empty chair at the empty table, he knew it was probably for the best anyway.
"How are you doing, Jim?"
Brass looked up to see Gil Grissom take the chair next to his.
"Thinking I should have stayed home."
"I know what you mean." Grissom leaned forward. "Don't give up on her."
"What?" Brass followed Grissom's line of sight, quickly realizing he hadn't misunderstood the CSI.
"She was at the hospital more than any of us."
"She wants Warrick. She always has."
"She wanted Warrick. It's past tense, Jim."
"Yeah, well, tell that to her." He nodded to the dance floor where Warrick and Catherine were practically melded together.
Brass hated when Grissom gave him that unequivocal stare because it meant the man wasn't kidding.
Grissom sensed his friend's discomfort and tried to diffuse it. "Any idea when you'll be coming back?"
Brass shook his head. "Not soon enough. I'm going crazy at home—which is the only excuse I can give for being here tonight. Next time I get shot, remind me to do it during hockey season."
"There won't be a next time."
Jim was tempted to ask if Grissom could predict the future now but he let the comment slide. Instead, Jim's gaze drifted back to the dance floor where Catherine and Warrick were still dancing, making him wonder if he'd just been played a second time.
"I think I've had enough schmoozing for one night so I'm gonna take off." It was a partial truth but a good excuse to leave. The dull ache in his back had upgraded itself to a pounding throb ever since he came off the dance floor and if he didn't take his meds soon, he'd be in a lot of pain in an hour or two.
Seeing how tired his friend looked, seeing the wince as he stiffly got up from the chair, Grissom wasn't going to argue. Ten weeks ago, Jim Brass had been shot in the chest and for one very long, very tense moment in the ER, his heart had stopped beating. Grissom didn't know if it was a stubborn constitution, brilliant surgeons, numerous prayers and good thoughts, or simply the right decision on his part that had saved Jim's life but whatever miracle had occurred, Jim was going to be okay. So far Grissom had seen only a few changes in his friend, mood swings that brought on bouts of depression being the most obvious. Gil had talked Jim into this night out hoping it would be a boost to the man's mental health. Unfortunately, it had probably been a bit too much for Jim's physical health.
"Do you want a ride home?" Gil asked, standing up with Jim.
"Nah, I'll catch cab. Besides," he said, noticing Sara coming their way, "I think someone's about to try to coerce you to dance."
Keeping one eye on Sara, Grissom leaned in and kept his voice low. "Sometimes we have to fight to get what we want," he said cryptically.
Giving Gil a puzzled look, Jim slowly nodded, not at all sure what the CSI meant but agreeing anyway. Rubbing the back of his head, Jim Brass left the ballroom still pondering Grissom's words.
Hearing his name, Jim stepped away from the waiting taxi as Catherine did her best to jog towards him in 4-inch heels.
"I'm sorry," she said, slightly out of breath. "I should have told him no but by the time I realized what had happened, you were gone and he was there and…" she looked down at the pavement, "and I'm an idiot."
Brass waved off the driver and stepped onto the sidewalk. "It's okay, Catherine. You don't need to apologize."
She could tell by his guarded stance that she'd broken whatever connection they'd had earlier and unless she could repair it, the damage she'd done was irreparable.
"No, I do. Warrick's been a very good friend and yes, at one time I had hoped that things could be different between us. But he's married and I've moved on."
"And if Warrick wasn't married?" Between the increasing pain in his back and what happened inside, Brass couldn't deny feeling a little surly at the moment.
"I don't know."
"At least you're honest," he said with a sigh. Glancing over at a waiting taxi, he said, "Look, I'm going home…"
"Jim, wait, please." Catherine put her hand on his shoulder and felt him tense. "What happened on the dance floor between you and me—that was real. I sensed it and I know you did too. When Warrick came up and you stepped away, I thought that's what you wanted. I just didn't think..."
Something Catherine said struck a chord; something made him put his hand up and stop her in mid-sentence.
Sometimes we have to fight to get what we want.
Grissom's parting words echoed in his mind and suddenly Jim got it. He knew what he should have done and what he needed to do now.
"It wasn't your fault. I should have told Warrick to get lost and then I should have done this."
Jim wasn't quite sure how she'd react when he kissed her but the fact that she didn't immediately push him away was a good sign. So was the unexpected moan that rumbled deep in her throat as he deepened the kiss.
Pulling away, their lips apart only fractionally, Jim couldn't help but notice her eyes were still closed. And when she did finally look at him, he grinned at her dreamy, almost dazed expression.
Bringing a hand up to tuck a few errant strands of hair behind her ear, Catherine sighed heavily. "I think I need a cigarette after that."
Saying it more to himself than to her, Jim whispered, "Gil was right."
"Let's just say I'm not backing down from a fight any more."
Catherine grinned. "It's about time."
He looked at her, surprised.
"Jim, I've known for a long time. I was just waiting for you to do something."
"Maybe getting shot loosened up a few brain cells."
Frowning at his choice of words, Catherine chose to change the subject rather than comment. "How about we go back inside?"
He shook his head. "I'd love to but I wasn't kidding. I really need to go."
Standing in the halogen glow of an overhead streetlight, Catherine noticed how tired he looked, how dark his eyes had become, and she understood. "Jim, you should have said something."
He shook his head. "I wasn't going to give up the chance to dance with you for anything."
"So you were just playing hard to get back there."
"Well, you know, a guy has his reputation to think about."
Despite his flippant response, Catherine could see the pinched look on his face. He'd been on his feet far too long and now it was wearing on him. "Hey, how about I take you home? Maybe tuck you in?"
"Tuck me in? I think I might like that. Will you tell me a story too?"
"Only if you're a good boy."
"Oh, I'm always a good boy."
"That's debatable," she said, linking her arm through his and slowing her pace to match his as they walked across the parking lot. "So what kind of story would you like?"
Brass shrugged his shoulder and smiled. "How about the one where the not so bright cop comes to his senses and finally asks the beautiful, young CSI to go out with him?"
"Beautiful, young CSI? I like this story. She says yes of course." They stopped at her Denali and Brass stood aside while Catherine opened the door for him. "Do we know how it ends?"
Jim climbed into the truck and settled into the seat with a heavy grunt. "No, it's what you might call a work in progress."
Catherine's smile was wicked. "Then that means we can write our own ending."
"I hope it's a novel," he said with a wink, as she closed the door.