Title: I Need You
Rating: T/PG Nothing too bad here.
Characters: Catherine, Grissom, Nick, Hodges, Greg, Doc Robbins, Lindsey
Disclaimer: I don't own CSI. If I did, I'd have a kick ass Mercedes SL550 like Marg Helgenberger. No harm is meant.
Author's Note: Well, this is my first CSI fic. I've done SVU and WWE based fics, but this is my first stab at the epic dynasty known as CSI. I'm a Grillows shipper all the way, though I do love some YoBling too. Please, let me know what you think. Thanks to Katy for beta-ing!
The headache was inevitable. There was no doubt about it.
Catherine Willows sighed, pressing her thumb and index fingers on the bridge of her nose, trying to will the migraine away with her fingertips. For the last five minutes, Greg Sanders and David Hodges had been arguing. Every time Catherine attempted to interject, either Greg or Hodges would cut her off. It was to the point where she was about to stand up and scream at the two of them, to yell that they were being highly unprofessional.
How they even got to this point, she wasn't sure. It was a simple case. Open and close. But then Hodges-or was it Greg? Catherine didn't really even care anymore- misplaced the papers that confirmed the DNA match from the victim to the suspect. Nothing major that probably couldn't be fixed with a simple click of the print button on the computer. However, since Grissom had left, Hodges seemed a little tense. Quick to start arguments…well, more so than usual. His smart assed tendencies were causing tension in the lab, and no matter how many pep talks about the good of the lab or warnings about working as a team that Catherine gave him, he was still starting trouble.
"Greg. That's enough. Take a few minutes to cool off!" Catherine finally snapped above Hodges' retort, standing up. Enough was enough. "Hodges, you work on getting that paperwork back."
"Yeah, go cry in the locker room," Hodges muttered under his breath, but not soft enough so that Greg and Catherine didn't hear him.
"Hodges! That's enough! You both are being unprofessional, and I'm not going to deal with it! I'm your supervisor, and you will treat me with respect, whether you like it or not!" Catherine cut him off, her face red with anger. "If you try me anymore, I will suspend you!"
Hodges stared at her, a frown on his face. "You're not Grissom."
Catherine stared at him, openmouthed. She wasn't sure what to say to that. She wasn't Grissom, nor had she ever wanted to be in the position of having to fill his shoes. However…this is what Ecklie had dealt her. She closed her mouth, contemplating what to say. Before she could respond, though, Greg spoke up.
"You know what, Hodges, you're an asshole," Greg turned as the words flew from his lips, his palms shoving Hodges square in the chest.
Hodges staggered back for a second before shocking both Catherine and Greg by swinging his fist at Greg's face. With a thud, his fist hit Greg's jaw, sending the young CSI staggering.
With a cry of anger, mixed with Catherine's protests, Greg tacked Hodges around the waist, dropping the two of them to the ground. "Hey! Stop it!" Catherine yelled, rushing around the side of her desk. "I need a little help in here!" Catherine bellowed down the hallway before attempting to put a restraining hand on Hodges shoulder, who had somehow mounted Greg and was preparing to strike him a second time in the face.
If he connected, Catherine wasn't sure. Hodges' elbow swung upward, and before Catherine even had a chance to react, his elbow connected under her eye, sending the CSI supervisor backwards, the back of her head connecting with the ledge of her desk.
Catherine Willows was out cold before she even hit the floor.
"Catherine…Catherine? I think she's coming to. Cath? Can you hear me?"
Catherine slowly forced her eyes open, vaguely aware of the fact that Doc Robbins was talking to her, trying to bring her out of her unconscious state. She shoved away the hand that was holding smelling salts under her nose. Good Lord that crap was horrible…
"What…" she managed to croak out, bringing a hand up to her face, her hand blindly touching the hot area under her right eye, her fingers slick with what she knew without even looking at her fingers as blood. She lifted her head slightly, feeling the lump that was forming at the base of her skull. Catherine moaned slightly, closing her eyes to stop the room from spinning, mumbling, "What happened?"
"You were elbowed in the face by Hodges," Nick started to tell her, only to stop talking when Catherine's eyes shot open.
"Hodges! Gregory!" She sat up, instantly regretting the fast movements when she almost passed out at the movement.
"Catherine, you need to stay down for a minute," Doc Robbins tried to reason with the senior CSI, only to flinch slightly when she shook off his hand, glaring up at him as she used her desk to haul herself up.
Willing her knees to cooperate and her dinner to stay in her stomach, she swayed slightly as she looked among the crowd in her office. "Where the hell are Sanders and Hodges?!" she all but roared, wincing at the loud noise. She braced herself using her desk, taking a deep breath as she blearily looked around the room.
"Cath, relax," Nick said calmly, putting his hands on Catherine's shoulders. "Ecklie has already taken care of it."
"I don't want Ecklie to take care of it! I want suspended them both!" she slurred slightly, realizing what she said before backtracking: "I want both of them suspended!"
"They've both been suspended, Cath," Nick said softly, placing his hands on Catherine's shoulders and guiding her to her seat. "And you need to get to a hospital."
"I'm fine," Catherine protested, leaning her head against her hand, wincing at both the pressure on what was presumably either a deep cut or a broken nose. "I don't need to go to the hospital."
"Catherine, you were out for a good five minutes. I think it's best if you go to the hospital, then home," Doc Robbins attempted to reason with her, only to have Catherine effectively shake her head no.
"I'm fine. In fact, I need all of you out of my office right now!" Catherine all but growled. It took a few moments of silence, but after a few seconds, the group that had crowded in her office dispersed except for Nick.
"Cath…" he trailed off, not sure of what to say.
"Nicky, I appreciate your concern, but I'm fine," Catherine cut him off.
Nick stared at his boss for a long moment, not sure of what to say. Finally, he just stated, "You may want to wash your face, cause no one's gonna believe that." With that, he turned around and walked out of her office.
Catherine sighed, bracing her head against her hand for several moments, trying to will the nausea away. Finally, she pushed her chair back and headed to the ladies room, ignoring both the shocked stares and sympathetic looks from her colleagues. She shoved the door open, relieved to see that it was empty. Walking over to the mirror, Catherine hesitantly looked into it, almost afraid of what she would see.
Catherine nearly gasped when she saw her face. The area above and below her right eye was already a dark purple, the color fading away slightly at the outside corner of her eye. There was a cut that extended down the inside corner of her eye to the base of her nose, what she figured was the source of the blood. It seemed to have stopped bleeding, though, thankfully. Hodges must have gotten a direct hit in, Catherine thought wryly, briefly noting to herself that maybe it wasn't the smartest thing to get in between two fighting male coworkers. Too late for that one, Willows, she told herself.
With a curse, Catherine turned on the cold water, rolling some paper towels out into her hand and dispensing some soap onto the paper towel. It wasn't the most effective method of cleaning up her face, but it would have to do for now. She wasn't about to leave work to go to the emergency room for a black eye.
She ran the water over the paper towel, gingerly wiping away at the blood that was on her face. Catherine was relieved to see that the cut wasn't that deep and wouldn't require stitches or even a band aid. Not that she would even wear one. Catherine was always the type of person who would wear her injuries proud, refusing to show the pain that she was in. After all, the cut along her nose was no deeper than when she had been attacked by that suspect years ago while she was investigating the home invasion…
Of course, back then, she had Warrick. Catherine sighed slightly as she remembered his panicked cry of her name, the contact of his hand on her back as he checked to make sure she was okay as she lay on the ground covered in the victim's blood, his irate voice as he grilled the first officer on the scene, his arms around her after David had upset her in autopsy… She even had Grissom then. She remembered how concerned he was when he had heard she had been attacked, rushing to her in the locker room to make sure that she was okay, his fingers trailing over the cut at the top of her head…
But now, Warrick was dead, and Grissom was off somewhere doing God only knew what, at some bug convention, probably, and she was all alone. She was at the peak of her career, the supervisor for the grave shift of crime scene investigators. Yet she never felt more alone. Nick, Riley, and Greg all seemed to have their own little group, Hodges and Wendy seemed chummier than ever, Langston was…well, he was another story. Catherine had yet to be able to understand the enigmatic man, but even if she were to break the spell around him she was almost positive that he wouldn't be joining her for drinks or breakfasts…Hell, it even seemed that Lindsey was leaving her, or would be leaving her soon. Her daughter was currently filling out applications for college, as far away as Delaware. Delaware? What that hell is even in Delaware? Catherine mused.
She looked in the mirror, sighing slightly as she cleaned the last bit of blood away from her face. She glanced in the mirror as the door opened, bemused when she saw Nick standing there, an ice pack wrapped in a towel in his left hand.
"Ladies room, Nicky," Catherine said with a slight smile as she saw him look around hesitantly before proceeding into the room.
Nick bit back a reply as he crossed the small area to Catherine, pressing the ice pack into her hand. "Does it look better?" she asked him, tilting her face to him.
"Not really," Nick replied honestly, guiding her hand up so that she could place the ice on her face. "You look like you've gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson."
"I feel like it, too," Catherine sighed. "I hope I have some Tylenol in my purse."
Nick nodded, glancing at his watch. "Look, Cath…we only have a few more hours of shift left. It's been pretty slow, and quite frankly, it's been a bad night for you. Why don't you go home, catch a couple extra hours of sleep, and come back tomorrow night? We're probably gonna be short for a week while Hodges and Greggo are out on suspension, so you'll need all your rest while you can get it," Nicky said. Seeing the Catherine was actually contemplating what he was saying, he added, "I'll cover for you, and I promise to call you if anything major breaks within the rest of the shift."
Catherine pondered this for a minute, then nodded slowly. "Sure, Nicky. It'll be nice to see Lindsey before she leaves for school," Catherine finally replied.
"Okay, good," Nick said, guiding his supervisor to the door, somewhat shocked that she had actually agreed to his suggestion.
"Thanks, Nicky," Catherine said softly, reaching up to kiss his cheek before pushing open the door and heading to her office to retrieve her stuff before leaving the place that she somehow was at more than her actual home.
Catherine pushed open the door to her house as quietly as she could, not wanting to wake Lindsey if she could help it. However, she was shocked to see her daughter sitting at the kitchen table, drinking coffee as she read the newspaper.
Instinctively, Catherine lowered her sunglasses, shutting the door. "You're up early…" Catherine noted to her daughter. She had hoped that she would be able to get to sleep before her daughter was up, knowing that Lindsey wouldn't go into her room, and that as a result Lindsey wouldn't see her black eye and ask questions.
"Yeah. I usually get up at this time," Lindsey told her mother, not looking up from the article she was reading. Catherine felt a stab of guilt; even though her daughter didn't mean any malice, she still felt horrible about the fact she wasn't there for her daughter a lot of the times. The fact that she didn't even know what time her daughter got up for school said a lot about her career. "What are you doing home early?" Lindsey asked her mom, finally looking up from the paper. "And why are you wearing sunglasses? It's still dark out."
"I uh…" Catherine trailed off lamely, suddenly realizing how silly she must have looked. With a sigh, she put her sunglasses on top of her head, ignoring her daughter's shocked look. "I had a little incident at work," Catherine finished, running a hand through her hair.
"What happened?" Lindsey asked, standing up from her chair and walking over to her mother. Even though she was about thirty years younger than her mother, she almost towered over her. "It looks like someone decked you!"
Catherine flinched as her daughter brought her hand up to her mom's face, allowing Lindsey to tilt her face to the light. "It doesn't hurt that much," Catherine lied.
"Bull, mom," Lindsey said, turning from her mother and walking to the cabinet. Before the elder Willows could chastise her daughter on her language, Lindsey continued, "How about you go take a shower, and by the time you come out, I'll have breakfast ready for you? Then, you can go to sleep."
While food was the last thing Catherine wanted, she wasn't in the mood to argue with her daughter. Besides, this was a very rare situation that she would actually get to spend time with her daughter before she went to school. Often times, they simply crossed paths as Catherine was stumbling in the door after a long shift, and that was when she was even off on time and wasn't trying to catch up on some paperwork or understand some piece of evidence that a case presented her. With a small smile, Catherine nodded, uttering a small, "Sure, honey." She was shocked when Lindsey closed the distance between the two of them, hugging her mother gently.
Catherine wrapped her arms around Lindsey, holding her daughter close. "I love you, mom," Lindsey said softly. "I know I don't say it often, but I do."
"I love you too, sweetheart," Catherine replied before letting go of Lindsey. "Give me about fifteen minutes, okay?"
"Okay, mom," Lindsey replied, turning back to the cabinets. She waited until she heard her mom turn on the water, then grabbed her mom's phone out of her purse. She flipped through the phonebook until she found the name she was looking for. Listening to make sure that her mom was in the shower, she pressed dial, listening to the phone ring until a sleepy voice answered.
"Hello? It's Lindsey…"
Several hours later, Catherine wasn't sure what awoke her, but someone was in the room with her. Panic threatened to overcome her, but she refused to let it. She lay on her side, eyes shut as if she was still asleep, her hand closest to the alarm clock on her nightstand. Wishing her gun was on her nightstand and not locked in the cabinet downstairs, her fingers itched to reach over and grab it, launching it at the invader's head…
Catherine couldn't help the shriek that emitted from her throat when a hand settled on her shoulder. Her eyes shot open and she reached for the alarm clock, only to have her panic rise when the intruders hands settled on her forearms, restraining her movements.
"No, please, don't hurt me!" Catherine pleaded, struggling against the hands.
"Cath, calm down!" the intruder said softly. "It's-"
Before he had a chance to finish, Catherine ripped her arm from his grasp, bringing her closed fist up toward his head. However, before she could connect, he caught her fist. "Cath! It's me!"
The familiar voice, the familiar scent finally broke Catherine out of her sleep induced struggle. "Gil?" she asked hoarsely.
"It's me, Cath," Gil Grissom said softly, keeping his hands on her arms. "It's okay. It's just me."
"What…" Catherine swallowed, her heart still pounding. "What the hell are you doing in my bedroom?!" she finally managed to ask, bringing her blanket up to her chest, suddenly self conscious. Granted, in the past, Gil had seen her in much less than the ribbed tank top and boxer shorts that she had chosen for sleep, but there was something…awkward about the whole situation.
"I…uh, Lindsey called me earlier. She told me that you had an accident, and I was…I was worried," Gil stammered, taking in her appearance as he slowly let go of her arms and sat on the edge of her bed . "Jesus, Cath…what the hell happened?" he asked, noting her black eye and cut along the side of her nose.
Catherine sighed, bringing a hand up to touch the swollen area on her face. "Let's just say that I got caught on the wrong end of Hodges' elbow." Seeing Gil's confused look, she elaborated, "Things have been a little tense between Greggo and Hodges. It finally came to a head today, and before I knew what had happened, the two were trading punches on the floor of your…well, my office. I tried to break it up, and Hodges elbowed me in the face. It was an accident, plain and simple."
"Some accident, Cath," Gil said softly, resisting the urge to trace his fingers along the bruised area of her face. "They shouldn't have been fighting in the first place. It's highly unprofessional. Please tell me that they were suspended."
"Yeah, they were," Catherine replied. "I don't know for how long, though."
"What do you mean?" Gil asked. "You should have been the one who handed out the suspension."
"I uh…" Catherine trailed off, unsure of how to continue, knowing that Gil wasn't going to be happy with what she disclosed next. "I kind of hit my head on my desk after I was hit, and I was out of it for a few minutes."
Gil closed his eyes briefly, reminding himself that Catherine was a grown woman, and that she was capable of taking care of herself. While it wasn't the brightest idea that she didn't get her head checked out after being knocked out, it was her choice. He opened his eyes, not surprised to see that Catherine's clear blue eyes immediately met his. "Cath…"
"I had Doc Robbins check out my pupils before I left. He said that everything looked normal, and that if I felt dizzy or nauseous or my head hurt, to go to the emergency room. I feel fine," Catherine told Grissom before he could lecture his former colleague.
"You know that symptoms…" he paused, seeing the fire in Catherine's eyes. Gil had been on the receiving end of the Willows temper before, and it wasn't pretty. With a sigh, he finished, "You know that symptoms can pop up weeks down the road, so just be careful, and let me know if you need help?"
Catherine sighed, nodding at Gil's request. She hated being coddled…she tried to tell herself that Gil was just worried. Effectively changing the subjected, she rolled on her back, meeting Grissom's concerned eyes. "So…" she trailed off. "How have you been?"
It was a simple question. Yet Gil still blinked, unsure of how to answer. She shouldn't have to ask, he told himself. She should know this already… "I…I've been busy," he finally admitted. "I'm sorry I haven't called you…"
Catherine brushed off his answer with a slight shrug. "It's okay," she told him, yawning as she looked at the clock. 9:12 AM. She had barely been asleep when Grissom had showed up. "I know you've been busy," she finished after her yawn.
"As have you," Grissom answered. "You look exhausted."
"I'm okay…" Catherine answered. "I guess getting knocked upside the head makes you tired."
"I suppose," Gil responded, his finger tracing on her bedspread. An awkward silence followed, and he added, "Look, I'm sorry I came in uninvited. Lindsey had called me, and I was worried about you, so I just wanted to check on you."
"It's okay, Gil. Just make some noise next time?"
Gil chuckled, putting his hands on his knees as he stood up and bent over, shocking them both when he kissed Catherine's forehead chastely. "I'll let you get back to sleep, okay," he said softly.
Catherine nodded slowly, watching as he stood, moving to leave the room. "Gil," she suddenly called, reaching her hand out to stop him. She grasped his hand, swallowing slightly as his eyes traveled from their enclosed hands to her face, searching her eyes. Catherine took a deep breath before speaking again. "Will you stay with me?" she asked softly, shyly, gesturing to the bed with her free hand. "I…I don't want to be alone." I don't want you to leave.
Grissom blinked at her question. It was a soft plea, so…vulnerable. If there was anything that Catherine Willows was not, it was vulnerable. He wanted to say yes, he wanted to curl up next to her and hold her tightly as he kissed her injured face. But still…that wasn't him. Gil was more of a pat-you-on-the-arm-and-say-all-will-be-okay type of man. "I…I don't know if that would be the best idea, Cat," he finally replied.
Catherine tried not to show the hurt in her eyes as she stared up at Gil. "Please, Gil," she finally pleaded. "I need someone…I need you," she admitted.
Grissom paled slightly at her statement, taking a step closer to the bed. Seeing Catherine's hopeful eyes trained on him, he finally relented, walking around to the other side of her bed. Stripping off his shoes and shirt, he crawled under the covers, moving closer to one of his best friends and former colleague. Hesitantly, he snuggled against Catherine, freezing slightly when she rolled over. She moved against his chest, curling up perfectly. Gil carefully wrapped his arm around her waist, feeling her reciprocate the move.
"Is this okay?" Catherine asked softly, feeling him relaxing slightly.
"It's fine, Cath," Gil answered. "Are you comfortable?"
"I'm fine now," she replied, tucking her head against his shoulder. She fell asleep almost immediately, sighing contentedly in her sleep.
But for her companion, sleep was a long time coming, even as he watched her peaceful face, free of nightmares and dreams, and stroked her back in comfort.