Disclaimer: I do not own CSI.
AN: I didn't want to work on 'Starfall' or 'IAK' so close to the start of NaNoWriMo, so I decided to revise a oneshot. ...Yeah. Joy.
I got the letter yesterday morning. Since then, it's been burning a hole in my pocket. Every hour or so I take it out and stare at it. Catherine noticed and commented on my strange behavior, but I couldn't help it.
I keep hoping that the words will change.
I sit down on one of the locker room benches and take the crumpled letter out again. Everyone else has already left. It was a slow night, and the guys are sane enough to want out of the lab as soon as possible.
Wait- Catherine might still be here. She was about to leave when Grissom called her into his office. When he left, her car was still here. I don't think I have to worry about her, though. We get along now, but we aren't really friends. Me agonizing over a stupid piece of paper shouldn't bother her.
I wish it would, though. I wish we had the sort of relationship where she would come in here and take me in her arms, making everything feel better. We don't, though.
I ignore the sudden empty feeling in my heart and look back at the letter. Oddly enough, it helps. The shock covers the emptiness up nicely.
The words still haven't changed. It doesn't say that she's died. It says that she's being let out early. 'Good behavior' and all that. Who the fuck was watching her? I can't think of a single time she's displayed behavior that could be considered good. Unless you count the time she slaughtered her husband. Oh yeah, that was just perfect. The epitome of decency.
How the hell is this possible?
The worst part is that I have no idea how to feel. All I know is that she shouldn't have been allowed out. I can't imagine twenty-three years in prison improving her violent disposition. God, why is she being let out?
I remember all of the harsh words she threw at me. I believed every one. I still believe some of them. Especially the ones about how no one would ever want someone like me. Those have been echoing in my head since the day I realized that I had feelings for Catherine.
Catherine of all people. Even without being told how undesirable I was, I would have been able to tell that I have no chance whatsoever with her. She's an incredible human being, and hell, she's gorgeous. I don't know her well enough to be in love with her, but if we ever got closer… I could fall for her so easily.
I clench my fists around the letter and close my eyes. It doesn't seem fair. I get so attached to people who will never return my feelings. It really isn't fair. First the 'people' who raised me and now this.
I wonder if she'll come see me. I hope she won't. If we end up seeing each other again, I want it to be on my terms. I don't want her to have control over it.
Does she remember how many times she stabbed him? Does she remember the way the cops had to pull her off of him? Does she- does she remember how much of his blood ended up on me? The details of the event that landed her in prison?
I hope she does. I hope she remembers every second of that night. I hope that it took years before she could fall asleep without his mutilated corpse haunting her. ...I hope that she went through the same hell I did.
I press the letter against my forehead. I really can't believe she's getting out. She doesn't deserve to be let out. Not now; not ever. Why couldn't the people in charge of that prison see that? It should have been obvious.
I hate her. I can finally say that. Part of me still loves her, but I hate her more. I hate her for all of the horrible things she made me believe about myself; for every single time she slapped me or attacked me with her knife; for what she did to Dad.
I have no idea what her getting out of prison means for me. I really don't. She hasn't been part of my life in ages. I'd like to keep it that way, but I'm not sure how to do that. What am I supposed to do? Call her and tell her to stay the hell away from me? Yeah, that would go over well. She'd come visit just to piss me off.
I place the letter back in my pocket. What I would give for it to be fake. I stand up and kick a locker. This sucks. I thought I had gotten over this. Of course, I also thought I was done dealing with her. I figured that there was no chance in hell she'd get out of jail. I trusted the people on the parole board to be less naïve than the twelve-year-old girl who witnessed her crime.
"You're still here?"
I look up to find Catherine smiling at me. I shrug. "Yeah. You finally finish whatever Grissom wanted you to do?"
She rolls her eyes and moves to open her locker. "Finally. He wanted me to deal with some paperwork. I really can't believe him sometimes. Him managing to complete paperwork a day or two after it's put on his desk is nothing short of a miracle."
I smile at her, trying not to drown in her eyes. Now's not the time. "He just holds you to a higher standard, I guess."
She laughs, and I feel some of my earlier stress fade away. She has a beautiful laugh. I feel myself smiling at her for no reason whatsoever. She goes through her locker, picking her purse out of it. I'm still staring at her when she closes the locker. She smiles warmly at me and brushes some hair out of her eyes.
"Hey- do you want to go get some breakfast?"
I open my mouth to say yes, but then I remember the letter in my pocket. "Uh, sorry, Cath. I already have plans." Plans. Right. Me, my memories, a couch, and a lot of alcohol. Wouldn't want to give that up to spend time with Catherine.
Disappointment flashes through her eyes before she drops her gaze to the floor. "Oh. Okay. Some other time, then."
I nod and watch as she walks out of the locker room. Exhaustion that I didn't see earlier becomes apparent in her features. I immediately feel guilty. It was just breakfast. I could have put off getting drunk. She probably wasn't expecting me to really talk to her. I could have just kept her company while she ate. At least then she wouldn't look so disappointed.
She turns back and meets my eyes wearily. I swallow around the sizable lump in my throat and continue. "I, uh, I'm free for dinner, if you'd like."
She raises an eyebrow and smiles at me, her earlier disappointment completely vanishing. "I'd love. What time?"
I hadn't actually thought about that. "How about I pick you up at five? Would that work?"
Catherine nods happily. "Yeah. I'll- I'll see you then."
"Right." She continues to walk out of the locker room. I wait until she's out of sight before collapsing on the bench. I asked her out. I didn't call it a date, but she definitely understood my intention. We're having dinner.
I take out the letter again with shaking hands. I stare at it for a few seconds before ripping it in two.
Mom already ruined my childhood. I won't let her ruin this.