A/N: Here's part 5, guys. Thank you so much for all the fabulous reviews!
After assignments, I headed out with Nick to check out a DB at the Mirage and Catherine went with Warrick to check out suspicious circs in the desert. The crime scene was a mess. It took us more than half the shift just to tag everything, there was so much to do that we let the uniforms take care of interviews completely. It was three in the morning by the time we got back to the lab.
Nick went to run a few prints we got through CODIS and I decided to take possible DNA up to Greg's lab. When I arrived, Catherine was leaning over a microscope. She had changed out of her clothes from earlier and into black slacks and a tight fitting green tank top. I groaned inwardly that I hadn't been there to search out her tattoos. Her hair looked like it had been towel-dried not too long ago. She seemed fully recovered from her shock earlier that evening; looking into that microscope, she was all business. With a confidence that came from nowhere, I thought deviously; well, I can change that.
When she looked up, I smiled, "You changed your clothes."
She cast a glance downward and nodded, "Sandstorm in the desert, you should have seen Warrick chasing after all of the evidence bags- I almost peed, it was so funny." she chuckled, "But the sand was everywhere; I had to shower. I would have had sand in my bra for eternity."
I walked toward her and Greg and casually put my arm around her to rest my hand on her hip, my fingers dipping into her back pocket, "Fun!" I laughed, "Who doesn't love itch and grit down their shirt?"
"Uh…oh yeah, that's right; me!" Catherine laughed too, and put a hand on my arm to balance herself. "Totally destroyed the crime scene, though. Luckily, we were just about done."
"Oh." I made a pouty face, "poor baby." I was amazed at how easy we were conversing. I used the opportunity to snake my arms around her waist. She looked up and around at me with those blue eyes.
To fix the sudden silence, I scratched her sides playfully and she collapsed backwards into me, laughing hysterically, "Ah! Sara! Stop! Ha! Don't! That tickles…" She surrendered to hopeless laughter.
When I finally let her up, she was breathing heavily. So was I. We both leaned against the counter, smiling quietly. Greg, who had been watching the entire exchange, I realized, had his jaw on the table, looking utterly taken aback.
Jokingly, he checked his watch, "Okay, guys, April Fools was almost two weeks ago; what gives? You're not killing each other; you're actually acting… friendly. It's totally weird."
I just shrugged and Catherine smiled, "My girl Sara, here, and I have decided to call a truce."
I grinned stupidly at the way she called me 'her girl' and took her hand when she offered it.
Greg just looked at us incredulously, "Uhh…why?"
"Why not? Come on, Greg, you can't honestly say you liked our fights?"
Catherine seemed to have an answer for everything, which was good because I didn't think that I could explain without the words 'wonderful woman' and 'amazingly gorgeous,' falling out of my mouth.
"Of course not, one of your catfights makes the whole office tense for a week! I just don't get what brought about this miracle."
I decided to change the subject by handing over the evidence I had set down on the table earlier, "Here, Greggo, run these for epithelials, I think our killer was a spitter."
Catherine pulled a face and made to go, "Well, I've got paperwork. Thanks for those results, Greg."
I turned to catch up with her as she disappeared out the door, "Thanks, Greg!"
I heard him yell a "No problem," as I hurried down the hall.
"Catherine, hang on a sec!" I slowed down as she stopped in front of the break room ahead of me. "Uh…" It was at this point that I realized that I didn't have anything to say. "Umm…" Think. Thinkthinkthink.
She grinned at me, leaning provocatively in the doorway, "You wanted something, Miss Eloquence?" I blushed.
She pulled at the hem of my tank top playfully. Was she flirting? What was going on? Whatever it was, this new energy between us was not doing a hell of a lot for my concentration. What had I been saying? Oh, yeah, nothing!
"Yeah…I was going to say that we still have to jump your truck after shift."
"Oh, yeah?" she stood up from her position against the wall, her fingers still grazing my abdomen.
"Well," she continued to get closer to me until I could feel her breath on my neck as she spoke, "when do you suggest we do that?"
My breath caught in my throat, my heart quickened in my chest; I could feel my body begin to lose control and a steady heat began working its way up from my lower stomach- my lower, lower stomach. But this wasn't like with the girls I brought home after nights at clubs, it wasn't even like the relaxed 'no pressure' relationships I had had in college. A part of me was afraid. Even as I felt her hand on my shoulder, further closing the gap between us, I panicked.
I tensed, she felt it and paused, "What are you doing?" As soon as the question escaped my lips, I knew it was the wrong thing to say.
Her body immediately went rigid, her hand slipped off my shoulder, and she turned, "Nothing," she muttered. She walked down the hall towards her office.
I thought about running after her, I even yelled out a weak, "Catherine, wait!" But she didn't turn around; she just shook her head and kept walking. I hit the back of my head against the wall in frustration with myself. I had to figure out what had just happened and how I felt about it before I went to find her again. Getting overly emotional was what got us fighting every time.
I sighed and headed up towards my favorite lab to go over notes on the scene, maybe while I was there I could contemplate the confusion that had suddenly become my life. But no such luck. Half an hour after I sat down, as I was just really getting into the case and had managed to push Catherine from my mind for the first time in days, my pager went off and I had to go down to meet Nick at the print lab.
We were in there for almost two hours; there were about thirty separate identifiable sets of prints. By the time we were done we had eliminated all but six as having not been at the scene for days before the murder. When we left the lab there were less than two hours left before the end of shift. I needed to find Catherine. I had no idea what I was going to say when I found her but I knew I couldn't leave without talking to her. Besides, her truck was still sitting in a parking lot half a mile away.
She wasn't in her office or the break room, I checked with Greg and Archie but neither of them had seen her. Finally I ran into Warrick who said that she was on her way back from a case and she would be in her office in ten minutes. Just enough time to duck into the locker room to run cold water over my face and clear my head.
"Hey, Sara, is it true that you and Catherine are friends, now?"
I threw up my hands. "Ask me again in half an hour."
Warrick laughed, though I didn't think it was that funny, "Gotcha."
In the locker room I stared at myself in the mirror for several long minutes, reflecting. What was I going to say? Had she been trying to kiss me? Her behavior had indicated as much, but I had a hard time believing it. I mean, why on earth should she be attracted to me? And what if she had been trying to kiss me? Why had I pulled away? I mean, I did want to kiss her, right? My entire brain shouted YES! at me. Of course I wanted to kiss her. She was smart, she was sweet; she was beautiful. So, why had I pulled away?
I had no freaking clue. I walked to her office with long, deliberate strides, appearing much more confident than I felt. I stopped short at her office door and knocked quietly, though the door was open.
Catherine had her chair facing the opposite direction, "Come in!" she said pleasantly.
Maybe this wasn't going to be so bad. She turned, attentively studying a file with her reading glasses at the end of her nose. She was so cute, but I didn't dare smile. When she looked up and saw it was me, her expression completely changed. She didn't look angry exactly, just…guarded.
"Hey." I crossed my legs in one of the chairs opposite her desk.
"Take a seat," she said sarcastically, removing her glasses.
I was silent.
"What do you want, Sara?" Her tone was both defensive and nervous.
I worked hard to keep my voice from reflecting her hostility, "Take it easy, I just wanted to talk."
She looked down at her paperwork to distract herself, "About what?"
"You." I said studying her expression, " And me. What happened earlier."
She looked at me hard. "What happened earlier?"
I chewed my lip, "I was hoping you would tell me."
She sighed and shook her head, "Nothing." The hard look returned, "As far as I'm concerned, nothing happened."
"Oh. Right. Fine." Well that solved that problem, but something was still itching the back of my mind, "Are you sure?" I insisted.
"Yes, Sara, I'm sure!" Catherine stood up and threw her arms out to her sides, her voice steadily getting louder. "Was there anything else you wanted or may I continue with my work?"
My temper slipped, "Go ahead, Catherine," I yelled, standing up now, "Go right on and finish your precious paperwork!" I took a threatening stepped around her desk, "I just thought that we'd actually try and make our so-called "truce" last more than ten hours." I took another step towards her, "But obviously this," I gestured to her and then to me, "isn't as important to you as I thought!" I looked at her and I knew that I couldn't keep the disappointment from my eyes, "But if that's the way you want it Catherine, then fine." I threw up my hands in surrender, "I'll get off your case." I turned to go, my heart heavy.
I felt it swell again, though, when her hand caught my fingers, "Sara, wait."
I turned to look at her and was surprised by the number of feelings reflected in her eyes; she was sad and angry, apologetic, scared, and at the same time hopeful. I recognized the look in her eyes because it was the same one that I knew was in mine.
"Yes?" I blinked slowly at her, trying to give her confidence.
"I'm sorry, I- I really do want to be friends. I really don't want us to fight." She pulled my hand more resolutely into her own, "It's just…since Saturday, my whole vision of you has changed and I don't know exactly what to do with that. I guess I just got a little carried away."
"Uhh…then too, I guess, yeah."
Her eyes moved to look into mine at the sound of my voice; had my disappointment been so evident? Her blue eyes studied my brown ones carefully, "I…" she looked back down to the floor, and dropped our hands "I don't know."
The pink in her cheeks gave me courage, enough for me to take two steps forward and cup my fingers under her chin, forcing her to look at me. "You don't?"
I hadn't expected to see her eyes filled with tears. "No, I do, I just…I'm not sure…are you?" she asked, suddenly focusing on my expression.
I hoped that my eyes could convey the need I was feeling and still show my sincerity. I nodded my head, but I was no longer looking at her eyes. My gaze was entirely focused on her lips. I shifted my hand from under her chin to cradle her cheek, my feet moved of their own accord, bringing us closer together. I brought up my other hand to cradle her whole face and when she still didn't resist, I brought my lips softly to hers.
For three marvelous seconds, I felt the sensation of Catherine Willows' lips.
But then she pulled back, "Uhh…" Catherine blushed and bit her lip. "We should stop."
I felt my heart plummet, "Oh yeah, right."
I dropped my gaze and willed the heat behind my eyes to dissipate.
"No, Sara…" I felt Catherine brush her hand on my arm before walking across the room. Fear filled my chest- had I just ruined everything? "Sara, I just meant…the door was open…" And with that she shut the door, locked it and leaned against it, smiling coyly. My heart leapt in my chest.
She bent a finger at me and this time there was no hesitation. I strode across the floor and immediately had her in my arms. I lifted her up several inches off the ground, pinning her to the door with my torso. She laughed at my adamancy and I reveled in the sound. I reveled in the moment; her fingertips tickling the back of my neck, her ribcage expanding and contracting under my touch, and best of all, her lips. Soft, so soft. And we were kissing.
I don't know how long we stood like that; her hands in my hair, my hands…well, anywhere I thought she'd let me put them. Despite the tenderness and luxury of the moment, it hadn't been at all slow and sensual. It was more like the fast-paced make-out sessions of high school, college, and bathrooms at clubs. Only better. Much better. There wasn't the awkwardness of inexperience or anonymity. No. I knew Catherine, and when I kissed her, I could feel that she knew me. Does that sound crazy? Maybe it does.
After some length of time, Catherine pulled back and rested her head on my shoulder. I pulled my arms around her shoulders, feeling a new sort of confidence as I stood there. We were both breathing heavily.
"Well…" she gasped, her fingers tightening on the fabric of my shirt, "That was…educational."
"Educational?" I would have said fantastic, amazing, or quite possibly life altering. Educational was nowhere on my list.
I guess she sensed the edge in my tone because she looked up at me and smiled, "Yeah. Educational."
She moved a hand from my waist and brought it to run over my lips. I was tempted to move away, but at the same time, it was her touch and I never wanted it to end.
"For instance, I've learned that you are a phenomenal kisser." She grinned a feral grin, "And I've learned that you can be very aggressive when you want to be."
I raised an eyebrow to which she twisted in my arms and lifted her shirt a few inches. Oops. On either side of her lower back were four very apparent crescent-shaped marks. My fingernails. In a couple spots the skin even looked broken. When had I done that? "Oh, my god, Catherine, I am so-"
She cut me off with another finger to my lips and shook her head. "It's okay," she whispered throatily, looking up at me darkly, "I liked it." She bit her lip and I just about died.
Oh God. There had been rumors, of course. Everyone knew them. But I'd just figured…Oh God. I was speechless.
When she saw that I was not responding she shook her head and brought her arms around me once more, "Never mind." She rested her head on my chest, "I also discovered that I've wanted to be in your arms for awhile, now."
Now that, I could deal with. When I looked down again, all that looked back at me was sweet, strong Catherine. I smiled at her, and touched her cheek, "Yeah, me too."
"Since before this weekend?"
I nodded, "I just hadn't realized it, I don't think." I gently stroked her face. "But ever since Saturday night; I can't stop thinking about you."
"Me neither." She leaned into my touch and closed her eyes, "So, what should we do?"
Like I know.
"I don't think I can be friends."
I frowned at her. "Why not?"
"Knowing that you can kiss like that? 'Friends' isn't really part of the equation anymore."
I hid my blush by asking a question, or at least, building an argument, "But, you said you didn't know if you could handle a relationship with a woman."
"And you said you weren't sure if you were ready for anything more than a one night stand," she countered.
Valid point. "I'm not sure." I said. I could see the disappointment in her eyes, so I pulled her closer, "The idea of letting someone close scares the shit out of me. But I know I couldn't have just a one-night stand with you- I wouldn't want one. For you, I want to try."
That seemed to make her happier. She nodded and breathed deeply. "Same here. I haven't made a serious attempt at a relationship since Eddie. And truthfully, the fact that you're a woman sort of…intimidates me. I've done the friend thing and I've done the sex thing. I've never done the girlfriend thing."
"If it's any consolation, I've never done the girlfriend thing well." That's certainly true enough. With the amount of failed relationships I've had, I'm surprised the Guinness World Record people haven't contacted me.
Catherine smiled weakly at me, "I honestly don't know if I can do it. But I do like you a lot, and God knows you've been driving me insane the past couple of days. And that tells me that I'd be crazy not to give this a shot."
I thought for a moment. The idea of being with Catherine was, admittedly, overwhelming. But at this moment, the thought of being without her was unbearable. I hadn't been lying when I said I was unsure if I could be in a relationship. With the mess-ups and break-ups I'd been through, I had no real reason to think that this would end any differently. But, the masochistic part of my brain was arguing, there was no evidence to say that it wouldn't.
Gazing down into her wide blue eyes, I could see that she was just as scared, and just as hopeful.
Softly, swiftly, I kissed her. "Okay. Let's do it. Let's give this a shot."
She beamed at me and my heart became a puddle on the floor, "Really?"
"No, I was just kidding. Thought that would be really funny." I grinned at her.
She hit me on the arm, "So mean to me! Alright, smartass, what's the plan of action for while we're at work?"
"Plan of action? You make it sound like we're going to need to call in S.W.A.T and a hostage negotiator."
Catherine smiled but otherwise ignored me, "Why don't we let them figure it out for themselves?"
I glanced at my watch, "What do you say we discuss it over breakfast?"
"You buying?" She grinned.
I smiled back, "That is generally how it works."
We stood there looking at each other for long moments. God, she was beautiful. And the light I could see in her eyes was one I hadn't seen before. But instinctively, I knew it was a light she had saved just for me. I had made her smile like that. I wanted to remember that smile forever. Eventually, though, it just looked stupid for us to be standing there so long, even if nobody else was watching.
"You need anything before we go?" I asked.
"Yeah." Catherine stepped forward and pressed her lips to mine. This kiss wasn't as long, nor as heated as the one we had shared a few minutes before. But it spoke volumes in my book.
When she pulled back, I smiled, "Is that what you needed?"
"No," she whispered against my cheek, "I need to lock up the case files on my desk and get my jacket from the locker room. I just really wanted to do that again."
"I'm here anytime you feel the need." I joked.
She smiled and kissed my cheek. "Meet you outside in ten?"
I nodded, touched her arm and left her office.
Walking down the hall, the world felt oddly muted. The thoughts in my own head were far louder than any natural sound. To think, three days ago, I was so lost, so angry, and so alone. And now…now I had a gorgeous, smart, funny woman who was clearly way out of my league, but who seemed to generally care about me and was interested in being in a relationship with me.
As I headed out into the morning sun, everything seemed ultra clear. I couldn't ever remember hearing birds sing in Vegas before, but I heard them today. Was it because they hadn't sung until just now? Or had I been so lost in my personal cloud that I just hadn't noticed? Watching a smiling redhead come out to join me in the rising heat, I couldn't help but smile back. I knew the answer to that. Only one question remained. Where do we go from here?
Alright. Review please! There won't be another update on this until I've finished Journey of a Lifetime, but that shouldn't be too long. Thank you guys so much for sticking with me.