A/N: Another oneshot for you guys. This is another FCG challenge piece. Can you believe that we're on our seventh one? I've managed to write a piece for every challenge we've issued--they aren't all my best work but I still enjoy knowing that I have.

"[Even] death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while." -Westley (The Princess Bride.) I may have forgotten that for a while but I'm not going to again. Yo!Bling is my bliss-- I'm not going to forget that again either.

As always I owe a lot of thanks for this particular piece. Thank you to Kaz andLeni both for helping me with mechanics. I promise one day I'll master the English language. And special thanks to Taylor for making me believe I'd done well.

Keep your eyes open. Bauerfreak and I will be updating "Symphony Of Change" in the next week or so.

-LLK


The Past is Now Another Land

--

Catherine Willows was alone at the bar as she danced with the last sip of amber draft in her cup. Watching it swirl left and right, she moved her body slowly along with the rhythm of the night. Sometime between the tenth and eleventh swirl he'd taken the seat beside her; she'd given him no invitation. Three shot glasses--army men standing at attention--were lined up waiting for her to have her way with them.

He picked them off slowly, each falling as easily as toy soldiers; a far cry from the gallant men they'd resembled only a moment before. "First Valentine's since your divorce. Rough."

"You owe me three shots of tequila." She tossed her strawberry blond curls and swallowed the last of her beer.

"I don't think so," Warrick reached up and pulled the mug from her fingers. "The way I see it, you owe me for saving you from doing three shots on top of however many of those you've had."

"I paid for those," she stated, before she waved an arm towards the bar tender and pointed to the empty glasses that lay between them. Her gaze never leaving his, she told him, "You owe me three more."

"Do you want to dance?" Without waiting for a reply, his fingers wrapped around her wrist and tugged her to the center of the room.

"I don't want to dance," she protested and tried to wave him off. Instinct had already overpowered her, though, and before long her body was moving in spite of her determination to be in a bad mood the whole night. It didn't take an entire song for that determination to secede entirely.

"I saw that," he leaned in close, his lips barely grazing the edges of her ear as he whispered playfully to her. Both of them were frozen as the beats of the next song slowly moved between them and bodies all around them came to life.

She pulled away from him and reminded herself to breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Confused at his statement, she twisted away from him to glance around the room, "What?"

"You're smiling." He ran a finger down the side of her cheek, stopping just below her chin. "I knew you were having a good time."

"Big deal." She stepped out of his grasp. "So what if I like to dance?"

"You don't have to be alone today." She was still close enough that two hands managed to grab above her hips and pull her forward, closing the gap she'd made between them.

"It's not like I chose to be alone on Valentine's," she muttered as she lowered her her head onto his shoulder. "But nobody really wants to spend love's favorite holiday with a bitter divorcee."

"I'm here, aren't I?" He murmured, the vibrations of his voice traversing all the way to the base of her spine.

"Grissom sent you," She said, shifting as she tried to settle herself closer to him, "to make sure I wasn't making a mess of myself."

"Picture that," she felt his laughter spread throughout her body, the tingle reaching all the way to the tips of her fingers, "me checking up on you because Grissom said to."

"Then why are you here?" She pulled back and looked him in the eye. "I mean... if you're not here to check up on me?"

"Because I wanted to spend love's favorite holiday with a bitter divorcee," he teased her. "Well, my favorite bitter divorcee, anyway."

"You think you're funny?" She smiled again. "Because I don't think you're all that."

"Oh, I'm all that," he laughed back at her. "And so much more."

They danced a while without speaking. The evening slowly passed into night, her bad mood giving way to a good one, as they moved closely; so closely it was nearly impossible to tell where one body stopped and another began. When they finally parted, in need of a break, she settled herself on a stool at the bar. Following suit, Warrick moved behind her, his strong arms circling around her waist as he lowered his head next to hers.

It was that image, the one of the two of them together--happy--that Catherine found in her wallet. She'd never remembered taking the photograph or how she'd managed to get it printed into a wallet size. She had her theories which involved a cell phone camera and some sort of computer program, but it wasn't really the how which mattered; it was the when. She'd remembered the night instantly when she first found the photograph and smiled every time she was reminded of it. She had never actually thanked him for that night—for giving her something to remember fondly. Women don't usually enjoy thinking of the first Valentine's day they'd spent divorced.

"Catherine," a voice called. She looked up from behind her desk to see Greg on his way in. "Mind if I sit down?"

"Sure, Greg," she answered. "What's up?"

"It's just this case," he admitted with a heavy sigh. "You got a minute to talk it through with me?"

"Course I do," she offered. She tucked the photograph back into her wallet and settled it on her desk. "What's on your mind?"

"Hey, can I see that picture you just put up?" He pointed to where her wallet sat on her desk. "I mean, if you're not busy?"

"Oh..." She put a hand over the wallet. A part of her wanted to tell him to focus on work and that the picture was hers—to childishly tell him that she didn't have to share if she didn't want to. The other part of her won out, though, and after flipping her wallet open she passed it to him. "It's just an old one of Warrick and me."

"You guys were close," he observed as he ran his finger over the picture... almost as though he could reach through the image and touch them.

"That was no secret, Greg," she answered honestly. "At the end of the work day, Warrick and I were friends."

"Yeah, but it wasn't like it is with us," he mentioned. "I mean, with Nick and me and you. You guys were really close."

"It was a time when things were simpler," her voice cracked. She squared her jaw, slid her glasses onto her face, and looked down at her desk for several moments. When she finally looked up she was ready to get down to business, "So, you said you needed to go over something with me?"

"Right," he cleared his throat and slid the wallet back across the desk to her. "Uh, well... my gut tells me it was the father-in-law, but I'm just not finding the evidence to back it up."

"What is the evidence saying?" She heard Grissom speaking through her voice.

"There just isn't any," he said, frustrated. "I don't have a murder weapon or a print and there's next to no trace. Nothing!"

"Well..." She was thoughtful for a few moments as she absently flicked the picture back and forth, watching it dance the way they had that night. "We're not going to get a conviction off of a gut feeling. Have you considered that you might be working with a secondary crime scene?"

"Well, yeah," he admitted, running a hand over his head and rubbing his temples slowly. "But there's a whole lot of blood evidence where the body was found. I just... I don't know. I've got this sketchy feeling that the wife's father is lying to me but his alibi won't budge. I've got nothing."

"Okay..." She gazed down at the picture for a few moments before she had the idea; just like the relationship she'd shared with Warrick, every case was more than met the eye. "Let's hope you're missing something. Why don't you take an hour and freshen up your mind? Call your mom or something... get your mind off the case. Then head back out to the scene."

"Go at it with fresh eyes," he said, almost finishing her thought. "Maybe I'll find whatever it was I was missing."

"Yeah," she commented, folding the wallet closed gently. "Sometimes all it takes is going at it from a different direction."

"Got it." He stood and started for the door. "That's a really great idea."

"Greg," she stopped him. "If you can't find anything you might want to talk to people who may have been connected to both the vic and his father-in-law. Maybe someone overheard an argument or something?"

"Yeah, thanks, Catherine." He moved out of the room but came back a moment later. "And, I'm, uh... well... I never really said how sorry I was. I mean... well, about Warrick. You're right, it wasn't a secret that you two were close. I really wish that you hadn't lost your best friend."

She was thankful that he vanished from her sight as quickly as he'd appeared because she was speechless. It had taken until that moment, even through fifteen years of friendship, to figure out exactly what Warrick had been to her. He was one of the best friends she'd ever had.

With a sigh she tucked her wallet closed and dropped it into her purse. She pawed around for her phone, flipping it open and closed as though playing with the device would suddenly get her back on track. She'd lost focus when she noticed the picture peeking up at her. Pencil had just touched paper when her phone rang. Looking down at the screen, she smiled when she realized who was calling.

Lindsey.

.:End:.

- Penned by Lostladyknight in the week of January 18, 2009.


The Challenge: 1. Must include the phrase "...when things were/are [that] simple..." 2. Must be between 300 and 3,300 words. 3. May be any rating greater than K+ and less than MA. 4. Must involve a person being in the state of breathlessness. 5. Must involve a past, present, and future. Submitted by: LLK

Disclaimer: I don't own CSI. Trust me... if I did it'd be a very different show. I also don't own Aida which is where I got the title for this piece. I'll never be able to write something that beautiful.