A/N : This is the final chapter. Sorry for the delay, RL you know. I really wracked my brain as to how to finish this based on the finale. Thank you for all the kind reviews. Major spoilers for the finale; Meat Jekyll.
The Final Chapter
Catherine couldn't stand it any longer. She had to let the tears out. Her body shook as hard as she tried to suppress the tears that came in streams.
"How could he say that?" her mind rattled. He said he wanted to trust her. But there is a big difference between telling someone you trust them and telling someone you love them.
Either she wanted to hit him the next time she saw him or have him swallow her up in his arms and never let her go.
She wanted to feel better about him not being around. She wanted to feel better about him being somewhere else. But she couldn't.
She didn't want him to see her as played a big hand in getting Haskell to Ray. She didn't want him to see her deal with Brass like she did and how even Brass said he didn't trust her. She didn't want Lou to see any of it.
So why did it feel so bad when he wasn't there?
How could he leave her so conflicted?
Catherine allowed herself one more sob. One more chance to feel sorry for herself and the choices she made before she had to face them head on. It was hard enough hearing Lou's voice and how almost distant he sounded, although he was only two miles from where she was. Now she had to face what was going to happen between Ray and Haskell.
After pulling herself together, she got a notice to meet Nicky, Ray and Doc in the autopsy room. Something about a package delivered to Ray and him not really trusting what was in it. A feeling she was beginning to learn all too well.
Leaning about the cured pork made her stomach hurt even more. What kind of monster makes Human Jerky? Luckily that's not what it was, but it was still the idea that someone took the time to send Ray something like that. A very sick person Jekyll l was turning out to be.
Catherine couldn't let herself think about all the sacrifices that were made, all the promises, and how she went behind Brass's back to make them happen. She couldn't think about it because it was all playing out in front of her.
All the clues, all the leads from the prosciutto with the strange symbols to the surgical device that could be implanted in someone was what she thrived on, what was keeping her sane. Kept her from not thinking about what she had done to what was going to happen if they didn't find the person who was doing this to people.
As much as she wanted to prove Brass right, the unsettling feelings wouldn't go away. Someone else besides Catherine was going to pay.
The CSI in her, the investigator in her couldn't shake the feeling that things weren't going to be that easy when one of the final clues led them to DiMasa's Restaurant.
The idea that Dr. Jekyll was someone who works in a restaurant made her want to vomit.
What happened next played out like a surreal movie. The updates on the radio scanner.
SHOTS FIRED DiMASA'S RESTAURANT
Words that echoed in her ear not letting her escape.
Catherine wanted to break down again. Wanted to be swallowed up. Just walk away and pretend like it wasn't happening.
She couldn't escape. Striding along the halls with her fingers placed on her temples like a woman on a mission, her trance like state was interrupted by David Hodges.
"Wow, sounds like it's really going down at that place."Hodges voice filled the emptiness in the lab.
"Huh," she quickly replied not really listening to what he was saying.
"The, the restaurant. Shots fired. Nick and Ray are in over their heads it sounds like," the Lab Tech started again thinking Catherine didn't know what was happening.
But she knew. She knew all too well what was happening, she set it into play.
"Don't think you think I don't know that?" Catherine snapped at the well meaning tech. She couldn't hold in her frustration at what was unfolding.
Her eyes remained narrowed glaring at the poor person who happened to get in her way.
David remained frozen in his spot like her words made him solidify.
"I, I'm going to find out if there is any other word." David left the cold space between him and Catherine.
"Yea, you do that." Her words just as cold.
She knew he was just looking out for the other members of the team. But she couldn't take the fact that someone said it out loud.
First Lou then Nicky. Who else was going to pay for her decision?
Nicky, if I could trade places with you, I would. She willed him to hear her.
This time it was her shaky hand that found its way to her aching forehead.
Her office was the place of refuge. Hopefully no one else would get in her way.
She couldn't listen any longer to the radio. As much as she wanted to hear the gory details bit by bit she knew it would eventually drive her crazy.
Unfortunately there was nothing else to do but wait. Wait it out. A painful process.
Why was it becoming so hard? It wasn't supposed to be this hard. Haskell was supposed to lead the team to Jekyll. Not have people, her people injured in the process, all at her doing.
It was probably a good thing that her stomach ache and her headache kept her from focusing on anything other than relief.
Finally news came, words, precious words. Words that she longed to hear but still didn't quite believe.
AID IN ROUTE
The words filled her office amongst the empty lab. Everyone was either hovered around a police radio or camped out at P.D. itself.
Brass was nowhere to be found. Not like she wanted to see him at the moment. She wouldn't be able to face him.
More relief came when she learned Nicky was okay. He was in the hospital with a sore shoulder. A small price to pay for taking down Dr. Jekyll. Who turned out to be someone no one expected.
He was a mystery alright. Diabolical on one hand in the manner he tortured his victims, all friends of his father. A similar trait to the one Captain Brass threw at Catherine. How having friends in high places can either be a blessing or a curse.
On the other hand, Jekyll was just a lost little boy. Someone who never connected with his father the way he wanted.
Charlie DiMassa's dream was to go to medical school and become a doctor. His dreams were dashed when the death of his mother forced him to work in the family restaurant.
His father wanted him by his side. So Charlie took out his apprehension and disappointment out on those around him, those whom his father treasured over his son. Another thought that Catherine could sort of see; the pitfalls of not following in the family business.
Nicky: I better get out of here before there's another crime scene to investigate.
Catherine: You scared the hell out of us Nicky.
Nicky: I'll be alright.
Ray: Pappa DiMassa made it through surgery.
Greg: So, the Jekyll case is… closed?
Nicky: On to the next one.
Catherine: Unfortunately, there is always a next one. See you soon.
With that, Catherine took her leave out of Nicky's room. She was so, so very grateful that all he wound up with was a sore shoulder. And Ray, Ray didn't have a scratch on him.
She had to smile at the play between Nicky and Sara. It filled her heart with gladness to hear the team, her team connected much like they used to.
Sara: I'll be back to give you a lift home.
Nicky: No way, you are a terrible driver.
A small chuckle came out of Catherine's mouth when she heard that. It made her feel proud.
Catherine took out her phone. She had to face him; she had to make amends with Brass. Hopefully he would want the same thing.
"You know there is going to be an IAB investigation." His words came across the line.
"I know," her shaky voice replied. She wasn't sure how to proceed.
"You know, I have been on the other side of the table. It's sort of well how should I say, humiliating. They question everything you know." His voice sounded truly sincere.
"I know," she replied again.
"I want you to know, I will support you Catherine. "
She didn't know what to say.
"Look, I was supposed to meet Ray for a drink. He said he had something to take care of first."
More silence on the line.
"I'd be happy if you came with us. My way of, saying…." The Police Captain told Catherine.
"I know what you mean. You know," Catherine started, "times like these I sort of miss Grissom. I've been thinking about him ever since this whole thing began. When you told me I was twice the supervisor he was. I just don't think he'd go over your head like I did." The supervisor side of her came out again.
"Look Cath, I said I would lay down my life for him and I would have. But you, you have something he didn't have. You have guts. But it's not just guts it's more. Something I can't quite put my finger on, but it's what makes you a good supervisor. "
"Jim, I'm…" Catherine cut him off.
"I'm not done," he started. "Listen, if you ever and I mean ever go over my head like that again, no matter who they are, you'll be finding yourself, let's just say, somewhere other than Vegas."
The warmth in his voice made her ask, "Is that a threat?"
"It's not a threat; it's more like a strong warning."
"So, are we? "Catherine started to ask her friend.
"Yea, we are okay." She could hear him smile on the line.
The next two weeks dragged on. Catherine repeatedly came home to her house, her empty house. Lindsey was gone to college. She got accepted on early admission and started taking classes already. As proud as she was of her daughter, she missed her terribly. I was very hard to come home to an empty house.
It wasn't just Lindsey she missed. It was Lou. They hadn't had much contact over the past two weeks. Every time she thought about him at Metro North, she wanted to cry. Not just cry, but undo the last month to take back everything she could.
Luckily Ray's injuries were not severe enough to require much more than some superficial stitches to his back side. She couldn't imagine what else Haskell could have done to Ray. More nausea came ever time Haskell's name was mentioned. IAB she could handle, loosing Ray, no matter how much she disagreed with his decisions, was something she couldn't.
It was time to pick up the pieces and start to make things right….
Driving to his house her mind wasn't focused on anything. She watched the houses go by, the spring colors around. The beauty of the flowers set against the dry almost bland landscape of the desert.
"Hi," she smiled when he opened the door.
He didn't say a thing, just ushered her inside his private space.
Somewhere he's spent a lot of time in. It had changed since the last time she was there. It wasn't light and airy, it seemed dark and dreary. Probably a reflection of his current state.
He stood watching her. Without a word she put her purse on the hall closet door handle, just like before. She slipped off her shoes, also in the same manner she always had before.
She walked over to him locking her eyes on his. His body language gave him away. He wasn't upset but he wasn't smiling either.
"I… I wanted to say…" She was cut off by his finger on her lips.
"SHHHH," he winced. "Don't."
It wasn't hurt she was feeling, but more like fear and uneasiness. How could she make it up to him? How could he forgive her?
Catherine conceded. She knew words were not right at the moment. She instead walked over to the couch and sat. A sigh escaped her as her body plopped down.
He sat next to her. Neither one of them wanted to look at the other. She could feel the warmth of his body next to hers. She missed him. She wanted to reach out and touch him, tell him everything was her fault and that he should run from her. That she wasn't worth loving.
She took in her surrounding in place of trying to explain herself.
The curtains remained closed. The light and airy kitchen where they were the last time they were together seemed gloomy as well.
Her head turned toward him.
"You know, this place could use a few female touches." Her voice filled the space between them.
A smile came to his face. "What did you have in mind?"
"There is going to be an IAB investigation." She cursed herself on trying to find the right words.
"I know." His voice flat again matching his now stiff demeanor. "They talked to me already, about you."
Now she really wanted to get swallowed up.
"What did you say to them?" A question she didn't want to ask or more likely know the answer to. An attribute that has arisen in their relationship as of late.
"No use lying, everyone already knows about us."
"I didn't say anything you wouldn't have if that's what you are asking." He turned to her looking her in the eye.
A feeling she didn't like. The way he was looking at her. She thought she could handle remaining stern and unfazed by his comment. She was wrong…
Catherine made herself ask, "So, what about us?" Another question she wasn't sure she wanted the answer to.
His look remained on her as she watched him compose his thoughts.
"I meant what I said about falling in love with you. I hope you know that."
Another moment where Catherine Willows didn't know what to say.
"I thought about everything; about you, about me, about Brass, your team, my job, everything. I thought about everything you did for our team. And that not being with you, well that's …"He paused and took in a long breath.
"I don't want to be a toy Catherine. I want to be your equal and someone that you trust, not someone who is a means to an end, if you know what I mean."
His words didn't have the hurt she thought they would. He was being way to generous in his criticism of her.
"I want us to be together for the right reasons, not to enhance your job. I want to trust you."
The words she somehow knew he was going to say.
"I wanted to tell you, I really did. I wasn't sure how you were going to react. Brass is your boss and…"
She didn't want to break down, not again. Somehow Lou brought it out in her. Forcing her to be honest with herself. Something she loved and hated about being with him.
"Stokes and Langston paid the price," he quipped.
Her eyes narrowed. Of all the people he was the last person she thought would throw that fact back in her face.
"Don't you think I don't know that? I struggled with it for a long time now. "Her voice near yelling.
The detective narrowed his eyes to match hers. "I just wanted you to know what was at stake."
Anger now filled her. "I KNOW! I KNOW WHAT WAS AT STAKE!" Catherine shouted inside his tiny place.
She wanted to yell at him, yell to the world how sorry she was.
"Everything about that case, everything seemed wrong. Everything from Ray's lie to actually reaching out to get Haskell back in Vegas."
"You know there is always going to be cases like that," Lou offered matter-of-factly.
It didn't make her feel any better.
"I know," Catherine presented in return.
Instead of kicking her out, Lou reached his arms over to her stiff body and pulled her closer to him.
She immediately collapsed into his arms. She hid her face behind her hands as the tears flowed.
Lou wrapped his arms around the redheaded woman and listened to her sobs.
"Just don't send me away next time."
"You know, I hate this about you," Catherine started after wiping away her tears. "About making me be honest with myself."
"Catherine, if we are not honest with ourselves, how can we be honest with each other?"
A smile came to his face, "And this is what I love about you." He helped her wipe away the remaining tears that she shed.
Her hand touched his face. His eyes closed while her hand drew along his chiseled face. His breath grew short and quick.
"You are the most amazing, caring, infuriating man I have ever met. " Catherine's voice smooth, low and almost sultry.
"I try," he said touching her hand with his.
Without any more words, they found their way to the bedroom.
"I love you too. I have for a long time." Her words came between quick breaths as he touched her.
An hour later, her naked body rolled on top of his. Her lips found his connecting in a small kiss.
Her hand reached behind his head searching in between the headboard and the nightstand.
"What are you doing?" He playfully asked.
Catherine didn't reply as she found what she was looking for, a pair of handcuffs she got as a joke several months ago.
He heard the metal clang against the metal of his bed frame.
"So," he widened his eyes, "what do you have there?"
Again, nothing from Catherine as she slid her hand along one of his strong arms.
A perfect smile came to her face when she intertwined his hand with hers.
Lou smiled an all too knowing smile at what she was doing. "You know Catherine, I want to trust you."