Disgusting - by Sara's Girl
AN – I'm baffled as to why I didn't post this when I posted the rest of the Now That You Mention It series...but no matter, here it is.
I wrote this one whilst holed up in my house with tonsilitis, eating nothing but ice cream, so blame the sugar high for the cavity-inducing fluff. It's just a conversation, really. Reviews are loved.
This is set season 8, so Lindsey is 13 according to my calculations. Hence the attitude ;)
"For god's sake, mom, I'm gonna be late!"
Catherine slammed the driver's door shut behind her and turned to face her daughter through the rolled-down window. Lindsey's expression was one of pure exasperation, the way only a teenage girl could express it, though Catherine imagined she was doing a pretty good job of reflecting it back to her.
She rested hands briefly on the edge of the window, keys dangling from one finger.
"If you remember, madam, you are the one that turned up here demanding a ride to school when there's a perfectly good bus that stops right outside the house." She paused, allowing Lindsey to toss blonde hair in an all-too-familiar manner. "So, with all that considered, it's in your best interests to sit here and wait while I go get those papers I left in the lab. Ok?"
Lindsey said nothing, just crossed her arms and stared straight ahead. Catherine took the absence of the customary death glare as agreement, or as close to it as she would get.
"Ok then," Catherine answered herself, as she was quite accustomed to doing.
She walked quickly across the parking lot and through the halls of CSI, not really noticing much. She had been heading home, it was just before 8 am and she had been looking forward to getting home to an empty house, kicking off her shoes, lying down on the couch for a few minutes, maybe pouring a drink, just enjoying the silence. Silence was a precious commodity in Catherine's life. Though she knew she'd signed away her lifetime rights to it when she became a mother, it didn't mean she did not long for it sometimes.
She gathered the scattered documents into her arms and shoved them into her large leather handbag. Looked around her office once more before she left, noticing how much it needed cleaning now she saw it flooded with light. She had enough of that to do at home. Catherine sighed and stepped over to the window, eyes following the Denali with Greg at the wheel across the parking lot before she snapped the blinds shut, shrouding the room in darkness once more.
Deciding that, on balance, she did not need another note sent home about Lindsey's tardiness, she increased her pace and by the time she reached her car she was almost at a run. Catherine noted with some dissatisfaction that she was slightly out of breath as she climbed back into the car, clicked her seatbelt into place and slipped her key into the ignition. She paused a second, flipping down the visor and regarding her reflection in the tiny, dust-flecked mirror. Lifting tired hands to smooth down still-glossy red-blonde hair, she raised and lowered her eyebrows a couple of times, noticing the lines that creased her forehead.
She hated the thought of getting old, and even more than that, she hated the thought that her losing battle with time was showing on her face. She knew there were more important things, of course, than how one looked, but she was also painfully aware that she was almost the oldest of all her co-workers, and that was good for no-one's self esteem, even someone as self-assured as Catherine Willows.
A snort of derision escaped her daughter's permanently curled lips and Catherine turned, distracted from her critical examination.
"What is it, Linds?" No doubt laughing at her sad old mother checking herself out in the car. Catherine sighed and reached for the keys again.
"I was just thinking," replied the younger blonde. Like mother like daughter, thought Catherine. "Don't they get sick of each other?"
Catherine frowned. Not for the first time, she had no clue what her daughter was talking about. She dropped her hand back to rest on her knee and quirked an eyebrow at Lindsey.
"Them," she explained, pointedly, jerking her head in the direction of something over Catherine's shoulder.
Curiosity well and truly piqued, Catherine shifted in her seat and followed the direction of Lindsey's gaze to land on the two people standing there. The only people around, in fact. Nick and Greg, unloading evidence bags and boxes from the back of the Denali Greg had been driving some moments ago. Greg was grinning in his usual manner, and clearly relating – or more like acting out – some story or other.
Catherine watched him collapse back against the car, raising one hand to his forehead dramatically and flinging the other arm out to one side, seemingly not caring that he was holding bags in both hands that hit him on the side of the head as he gestured wildly. Catherine smiled in spite of herself. Though she would never say so, she was pleased to see some of Greg's old lab-rat spirit, afraid sometimes that explosions and beatings and court cases had sucked it out of him completely.
Nick too, seemed to be appreciating the virtuoso performance. Shaking his head and laughing as Greg all but slid to the ground, eyes closed theatrically, the word 'repent' thrown out as a beseeching cry and reaching Catherine's ears. Nick slapped Greg on the shoulder with his free hand and slammed the trunk shut.
Catherine was still smiling at the warm interplay between the two co-workers when she heard a sigh almost as dramatic as Greg's emanating from behind her. Remembering Lindsey's question, she turned back to face her daughter.
"How do you mean?"
"You know," said Lindsey, speaking slowly and enunciating every syllable in that way that assured Catherine that she thought, no, she knew, her mother was beyond dumb. "Working together."
Catherine had a feeling, suddenly, that this conversation was headed somewhere strange and unexpected. She was used to strange and unexpected at work, and she did not need it in her home life too. Wishful thinking, Catherine, she told herself drily.
"They're friends, sweetheart," she offered carefully, "Why would they get sick of each other? And anyway, grown-ups have to put up with the people they work with, that's just how it is."
She never was one to pass up an opportunity to remind her petulant offspring about the joys of the real world.
"Oh god, please don't patronise me, mother." Lindsey rolled her pale blue eyes in a practised action and crossed one skinny-jean-clad leg over the other. Catherine reckoned they were about ten seconds away from the hair-toss. "That's not what I meant anyway. I meant, working together and you know...dating...don't they get sick of seeing each other all the time?"
"I'm not patronising you, Linds, I'm...what?!" Catherine paused abruptly as she allowed the words to sink in. She wanted to laugh, but more than that, she was confused. Confused as to where Lindsey could have possibly got that idea. Nick and Greg. Now that was a thought...
"Dating? As in...?" Catherine's attempt to clarify faltered as she realised she could not locate the right, appropriate words. She also realised, from a glance at the dashboard, that it was now 8.17am and they really should have been outside Lindsey's school by now, but she did not reach for the keys, just left them dangling there, eyes sweeping her daughter's face. Searching.
"As in." Lindsey nodded knowingly, a little smug, looking – just for a second – so like her father that it threw Catherine completely.
"I don't think so, sweetheart," she said eventually, shaking her head with a small smile. She was constantly surprised by the ideas kids could come up with, and sometimes Catherine wished she still had a bit of that abandoned creativity and imagination that seemed to dissipate with age.
The eyes that slid to hers then were flashing with indignance, and again Catherine wanted to laugh, but she suppressed it and instead smiled sweetly at her daughter.
"What do you want? Evidence?" The voice was pure challenge, and the air quotes only fuelled Catherine's amusement.
"Evidence is power, Linds, you know that."
Catherine rested her hands on the steering wheel and sat back in her seat. Despite the fact that a conversation about Nick dating Greg was not quite what she had planned for, she found herself drawn in, if only by the fact that this was the longest exchange she had had with her daughter in a good while without the phrases 'shut up', 'leave me alone' or 'I hate you' making an appearance.
It was now...8.20am. She wondered if she could push for the full half hour. Lindsey was silent for a good few seconds, looking down at her hands and examining chipped electric blue polish.
"First off, they were flirting," she offered, wrinkling her nose at the word. "Well, the cute one was flirting, Uncle Nick was letting him." Flicked her eyes to Catherine's.
"The cute one," Catherine echoed faintly, twisting once more in her seat, surprised to see that the two men were still standing next to the Denali. She could see no good reason why, they were both still loaded down with evidence but Greg had stopped throwing himself around and they now stood closer together, exchanging words she could not make out. There was nothing off about their interaction, though, it was just a conversation. Between two co-workers. Greg was smiling, looking at the ground. Two friends. Lifting his eyes back to Nick's, smile widening. Nick was smiling too. Two good friends.
"Greg flirts with everyone," she shot back eventually. Nice try Lindsey.
"Based on the fact that you know which one I meant, you think he's cute too," crowed Lindsey, her smile brilliant as she once more folded her arms across her chest in a gesture of satisfaction.
"No. That was based purely on the fact that Greg is the only one of them that is not 'Uncle Nick'."
Catherine smiled too, however, recognizing the tone, the process, the posture, as hers, and feeling strangely proud of her daughter. Sure, she was a nightmare right now, but maybe she would make a great investigator someday. That said, her current ambition-of-the-month was to be a TV weather girl, much to Catherine's amusement.
"Ok. Second point." She released one hand from where it was trapped against her chest to hold up two fingers at her mother. "Before, when you were inside, Uncle Nick was talking Spanish to the other one. Sorry, Greg. We do Spanish at school, and I'm pretty sure he said 'amo' which means 'I love'. You do not say that to just anyone."
She raised her chin in triumph and Catherine regarded her, head on one side. Lindsey was smart, even if more often than not she chose not to pay attention in school. She had obviously listened to something, and though Catherine did not for a second think she was wrong, there were lots of reasons Nick might say 'I love', surely? Lots of...perfectly innocent reasons. She was enjoying playing this game with her daughter, but she also knew that Lindsey would not win, because there was no way on this earth that Nick was dating Greg. Even in the highly unlikely case that they were both gay, which she would find very hard to believe, it was Nick. And Greg.
Catherine knew they said 'opposites attract', but that was just ridiculous. Sensible, empathic, calm Nick and rebellious, energetic, slightly unhinged Greg? She thought not. They would drive each other mad. It would be like...like...
Lindsey's sharp poke into her suit-jacketed rib both made her wince in pain and feel suddenly grateful she did not complete that sentence even inside her own head. This was why thinking about relationships between co-workers was dangerous, even if they were imaginary ones. She supposed there had been all that talk about Grissom and Sara, and that had turned out to be true. But even that was not as weird as this.
"There are lots of reasons why Nick could have said that," she managed, rubbing her side and frowning at her violent daughter. "You know, 'I love that t-shirt' or 'I love Fridays' or 'I love...Angelina Jolie'. Anything. It's circumstantial at best."
Lindsey slapped her hands over her eyes dramatically and let out a long, low moan of frustration that sounded suspiciously like the word 'mom' with a few extra syllables. Catherine grinned and glanced at the clock. 8.26am. So close. She bit her lip. Watched Lindsey draw long, slender legs up onto the seat and did not say anything for once, the nag caught on her tongue.
"Fine," she said resignedly, dropping her arms to wrap around her knees, an expression of suspiciously calm defeat on her angelic face. Catherine was taken aback, sure that victory should not have been this easy. She looked over her shoulder again, not entirely sure what she was looking for, but in any case, Nick and Greg were gone. The parking lot was silent, the only people here were in her car.
It was with a strange sense of foreboding that Catherine reached at last for the keys and turned them in the ignition, listening to the engine roar into life. It was 8.27am. So far, so good.
As she pulled out of the parking lot and into the road, she was surprised to find that she was not enjoying the silence. She felt uneasy in her victory, and it was not like Lindsey to give up so easily. Even if she was trying to win with the idea that Nick and Greg were an item. Which was ridiculous. Clearly, they weren't, she mused as she threaded the steering wheel through sure hands, not thinking of the route so ingrained in her memory. Clearly, but...maybe actually they'd make a cute couple. Catherine frowned and shook her head, unsure where that thought came from.
"No," she muttered to herself as she pulled into the side of the road in front of Lindsey's school. Irritated that her smart-ass daughter had somehow gotten her mind onto this insane track. When she turned to say goodbye, Lindsey was grinning.
"You know what, mom?" She opened the passenger door and swung her legs out but remained seated. "There was one other piece of evidence."
"Of course," replied Catherine faintly. She was starting to remind her of a lawyer now, not an investigator. Always holding something back for the last moment, when the defendant is unprepared. "What?"
Lindsey flicked her blonde curtain so that it all settled over one shoulder. "Only the kissing."
Catherine allowed her mouth to fall open. Lindsey just sat there and smiled beatifically as though she had not just ever-so-casually delivered the killer blow. Catherine scanned her daughter's face for any sign she might be joking, and only that, as for all her teenage behavioural challenges, she knew Lindsey would not lie to her about something like this. Finding nothing, she allowed herself to ask.
"Yeah." The young blonde screwed up her face as though she tasted something nasty in her mouth. "When you went inside, and they got out of the car. I don't think they knew I was there. Uncle Nick kissed cute Greg. Properly. It was disgusting, actually, it shouldn't be allowed."
Catherine's mind was racing, information tumbling and colliding and crashing into place. Kissing. Nick and Greg. Flirting, words of love in secret languages. So much to process, and yet her maternal lead-by-example instinct was kicking in hard and forcing her to focus on one thing at a time.
"It's not disgusting, Lindsey," she admonished, mind still whirring but needing to get this point across. "I thought we talked about this. Homophobia is wrong, ok? It doesn't matter if someone's straight or gay or – "
"Please." She was cut off, thrown possibly the most withering look her daughter possessed. "It's not the gay thing." She shrugged, picked at her nails a little. "My friend Bobcat is gay. It's cool."
Catherine closed her eyes and let her hands drop from the steering wheel into her lap. The post-shift exhaustion was starting to set in now, and she really was thoroughly confused, much as she hated to admit it. Which was why she said the first thing that came into her head.
"You have a friend named Bobcat?" Mildly incredulous.
"Duh," offered Lindsey. "Can't believe you'd think I was gay-phobic. God, mom."
Catherine opened one eye and carefully focused on the dashboard clock. 8.30am. She smiled slightly. Strictly speaking, they had made it the full half hour. The 'god, mom' had broken it, but they had done well. "Tell me, then, what was disgusting."
"Uncle Nick is...so old. He shouldn't be allowed to kiss anyone." She kissed Catherine briefly on the cheek, smearing her with strawberry lipgloss. Got out of the car.
"Old?" Catherine stared up at her daughter, now peering down at her through the open window. She thought she might just cry, right now. Old, indeed.
"Yeah. I mean he's gotta be at least 30, right? It's just wrong." She smiled then, hitching her bag up on her shoulders. "Thanks for the ride, mom."
And then she was gone, running up to the school building, all swinging blonde hair and sparkles and...pure evil, thought Catherine, flicking the engine back into life and pulling away from the kerb. No one had told her that she had to stop kissing people once she got to the ripe old age of thirty. Evidently, no one had told Nick and Greg either. She smiled to herself, momentarily, wondering if she should tell Lindsey that 'the cute one' was, in fact, thirty-two himself. That could be payback, she decided.
As she drove, she allowed herself to enjoy the silence once more. Not that her mind was blank, by any means, but then when was it ever? She thought about Nick's smile, and Greg's laughter, and how she had seen more of both of those things over the last few months. She recalled the image of them standing by the car just half an hour earlier, the easy banter, the more intense exchange of words unheard, the unselfconscious intimacy.
The thing was, Catherine realised as she pulled up and jumped out of the car, they had always been that way. She had just never thought to interpret it as anything other than friendship, camaraderie. She supposed she never had any reason to, until now. Maybe they were the odd couple, but obviously that was ok for them.
She wandered into the lab, dropping her keys into her jacket pocket, all thoughts of home forgotten. Found what she was looking for, two unsuspecting men drinking coffee in the break room. She smiled, flicking her hair over one shoulder. Like mother, like daughter. She had an interrogation to carry out. And Lindsey...Lindsey would make an excellent weather girl.