Title: Much Afraid

Author: Lisa


Rating: PG

Disclaimer: Not mine. Never have been, never will be. Just having some fun. Besides, I have no money, so don't sue. No infringement intended. "Much Afraid" lyrics belong to Jars of Clay - and I
apologize to them for tampering with them to fit my story - the song is great as is it.

Archive: Working Love and any place else that appreciates C/G

stories. Just let me know so I can visit.

Spoilers: Hunger Artist

Pairings: Catherine/Gil

Summary: Gil gets bad news from the doctor...and turns to his best friend.

Feedback: I'm not above begging for it...seriously.

Much Afraid
by Lisa

Empty again. Sunken down so far.
So scared to fall. I might not get up again.

So I lay at your feet.
All my brokenness.
I carry all of my burdens to you.

All of these things I've held up in vain.
No reason nor rhyme just the scars that remain.
Of all of these things I'm so much afraid.
Scared out of my mind by the demons I've made.
You never ever let me go. Oh, never ever let me go.

So happy to love, yet so far to go.
You lead me on to where I've never been before.

~~ Much Afraid - Jars of Clay ~~

It had started already.

The buzzing. The muffled voices.

"Obviously most of crime scene investigation is about seeing, but much of it is about hearing, as well. Listening. To listen, not just to what people are saying, but how they say it. If their tone
of voice matches their facial expressions or body posture... So even if I read lips and know what they're saying, it's not enough."

As he sat, waiting for the doctor to give the diagnosis he already knew was coming, Gil Grissom's mind flashed back to the days of his childhood. When he used to take long walks with his mother. And they would talk and talk – for hours at a time.

Until the day when she started hearing the buzzing. The day the voices became muffled. That was the day Gil's life had changed forever.

"We're both scientists, Mr. Grissom, so let me tell you the science. You've got Otosclerosis. Basically this means a bony growth has begun to form around the base of the stapes. What it does is prevent the stapes from moving and passing vibrations to the inner ear, neutralizing sound waves.

"It's hereditary...my mother."

"Most doctors think so, but there's no way to know when it's going to show up, and there's no way to reverse it once it does."

"Right...How long do you think?"

"I don't have that answer."

Gil nodded, his heart jumping into his throat. Dread flowed through him, quick and sure. Of course he'd always known there was a chance Otosclerosis would strike him, but the days and years had passed with no indication that it would appear. Now that it had – he was petrified. Gil stood and turned away before his face could betray his fear. He took a deep steadying breath and started toward the door.

"Thank you, Doctor."

Gil closed the door behind him as he left. He could feel the tears forming behind his eyes as he walked quickly out of the medical center. He wanted nothing more than to run away and hide. It made him sick to feel so weak. A wave of nausea rose inside of him. He turned the corner of the building and vomited into the alley. When he was finished, Gil wiped the back of one hand across his mouth and collapsed against the hard brick wall of the building. His eyes slipped shut. It took every ounce of his strength to halt the salty tears before they burst from him. One single drop managed to break free and it slid wetly down his cheek.

"God, no." He whispered to the empty alleyway. "Not now."

His head tilted to the side and he opened his eyes. On the other side of the alley he saw a sign.

'Hart's Tavern.'

Gil rubbed his knuckles against his eyes. His gaze rotated skyward. He took another deep breath, pushed away from the wall and started walking.

* * * * * *

Catherine bolted upright in bed. She squinted into the darkness and glanced around, attempting to find the source of the sound that had awakened her. The room was pitch black and she saw absolutely nothing. She jumped again when she heard soft knocking on her front door. A quick glance at the clock told her it was 3:08am. Tonight was her night off. She definitely wasn't expecting any company. There was no way it could be Lindsay. She wasn't even in Vegas...she
was on vacation in Miami – with Ed. And they wouldn't be back for a week.

Whoever was at the door, knocked again. Still quietly...but more insistent this time. And the knock was followed by the obvious sound of the doorknob being tested – to see if it was locked.

Fear crawled over Catherine's spine and she mentally chided herself for it. She slid from beneath her blankets and planted her feet softly on the floor. She crept to her closet and removed her gun
from its case. Taking a deep breath to steady herself, she walked quickly out of her bedroom and through the house, stopping just out of sight of the front door. Catherine waited until she heard another knock and then counted to ten. She flipped on the lights and stepped into the foyer, gun held in front of her.

"Whoever is out there, I'm armed and have my gun pointed at the door." She clicked the safety back. The sound echoed through the quiet like a peal of thunder. "I'm a very good shot and I'm not afraid to use it if I have to."


Catherine stumbled back slightly at the sound of the man's voice. She thought she recognized it, but couldn't quite place it. And before she had a chance to do so, he answered the question for her.

"Cath, it's me. Grissom."


Catherine lowered her gun and approached the door. The entrance was lined on both sides by glass windows. She pulled the drapes away from one side and peered out.

Gil Grissom was standing on her front porch.

She was startled to actually see him there – in the dark, hands in his pockets, shivering slightly in the night air. Catherine disengaged the locks and opened the door. Gil stumbled past her into the foyer.

"Jesus Christ, Gil."

Catherine slammed the door closed, relocked it, and spun around to face her friend.

"You scared the shit out of me! I could've shot..." She stopped short when she realized that his eyes were puffy and bloodshot. His face was pale. Almost ghostly white. He smelled like a brewery – cigarettes and stale beer.

"Have you been drinking?"

"A little bit."

"God, Gil. Why? What's wrong? What happened?"

"Can we just sit. And maybe not say anything for a little while?"

"Of course." Catherine locked her gun and placed it on a small table next to the door. She reached out for Gil's arm and led him into the living room – depositing him onto the sofa. "Do you want some coffee, water, or anything?"

"How about something a little stronger." Gil's head tipped back and rested against the sofa. He ground his knuckles against his eyes.

"You sure?"


"Is scotch ok? I think it's all I've got."


Catherine stared at him a moment before turning on her heels and walking to the kitchen. She pulled two glasses from the cabinet, along with an unopened bottle of scotch. She flipped it over in her hand. It was one of the few remnants of her marriage to Ed.

He had been the drinker – she had preferred powder.

Catherine shivered away the memories of her marriage and opened the bottle. She grabbed the glasses in one hand and turned to the freezer. Gil must have heard her begin to fill one with ice because he shouted as soon as the first cube of frozen water tinkled against the crystal.

"No ice. Straight."

She was very surprised at his request. Gil had never been a big drinker. She couldn't remember ever seeing him drink anything stronger than a beer. Or maybe a glass of wine or two. Catherine
shrugged and emptied the ice into the sink. She pushed the freezer closed and returned to Gil. His head still rested on the back of the sofa, but when she entered the room, his eyes shifted to her.

He looked almost – haunted.

After placing both glasses on the table, she poured an inch of the golden liquid into each of them. She placed the bottle on the table and reached out to hand a drink to Gil. He held the drink up to the light, studying the way the fluid moved within the crystal. The way the dim light shimmered though it. Blue eyes categorizing each and every inch of its surface. He blinked once and raised the drink to his lips.

Catherine couldn't take her eyes off of him as he tipped the glass back and drained the scotch with two long pulls. She felt herself growing warm, pulse quickening at the sight of his Adam's Apple bobbing as the liquid slid down his throat. Somehow she managed to raise her own glass and downed it quickly – a lot quicker than she should have. As a result, she began to choke on the shot. A fit of coughing followed, but her actions had the desired effect.

Catherine was finally able to look away from Gil.

She continued to struggle as the scotch burned a firey path to her belly. Her eyes began to tear up and she rubbed the heels of her hands into them. She bent at her waist and gulped down air. It took a few minutes, but her breathing began to return to normal.

"You ok?" Gil's voice was soft, almost a whisper.

"I think so." Standing upright again, she wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand and cleared her throat. "Yeah, I'm ok. You?"

"Yeah." Gil paused and held his hand out to her. "Come sit with me."

Catherine allowed herself to be pulled down onto the sofa. She sat back as Gil refilled both glasses. He handed one to her and raised his in a toast. Following his lead, she raised her own glass and waited for him to speak. But he said nothing.

"What are we toasting?"

Gil thought for a moment before responding.

"To good friends."

They clinked their glasses together. Catherine watched as Gil tossed back his second shot in one swallow. Like it was water. She sipped at her own drink while Gil downed a third and fourth. He was about to fill his glass a fifth time when Catherine finally acted. Slipping her hand over his, she halted the bottle mid-lift.



"That isn't Kool-Aid, you know. Maybe you should slow down a little."

"I know that, Catherine." Gil jerked his hand out from under hers and filled his glass. He swallowed his shot and turned to glare at her. "Besides, you're not my mother." Bottle and glass in hand, he stood and shuffled over to the window.

Catherine was startled at the sound of his voice. His words were slurred, but they were laced with a bitterness that she had never heard from him. She felt herself becoming angry. Rising to her feet, she walked over to where he was standing. Catherine grabbed Gil's arm and spun him around to face her.

"I know I'm not your mother, Gil." She paused and tried to rein in her emotions. "But you're acting like a child."

Gil pulled away from her and began to fill his glass again. Catherine grabbed the bottle from him, capped it and placed it on a table.

"Gil, stop."

"Don't tell me what to do." He made a move to reach for the bottle, but Catherine stepped in front of him.

"No. I'm not going to let you do this. You're obviously upset and I'm not going to allow you to drown yourself in scotch because of it." He moved forward, but she held her ground. "Gil, what is it? Would you please stop and tell me what's wrong?"

"I don't want to talk about it right now." He tried to reach around her, but she wouldn't budge. Gil backed away, but kept his eyes locked on hers. "Seriously, Catherine. Let it go. I really don't
want to talk about it."

The warning tone of his voice was reflected in his expression.

"I'm sorry, Gil. But you don't have that choice." She glared back at him as the anger built steadily within her. "You show up here, at *my* house, half-drunk, at 3 in the morning, because you're upset about something. And I'm ok with that because I'm your friend." The words were rushing from her mouth and Catherine had to pause to catch her breath. "But what I'm not ok with is you, getting completely plastered, at *my* house, at 3 in the morning, and not talking about what brought you here in the first place."

Catherine turned away from him, grabbed the bottle of scotch from the table and stormed into the kitchen. She put the bottle back where she had found it and slammed the cabinet shut. After a few minutes and some deep breaths, she was able to calm herself down. When she re-entered the living room, Gil was still standing by the window. She could see that he was very angry. His body was shaking and his fingers gripped the windowsill so tightly that his knuckles had turned white.

But she was angry too.

"So?" Catherine snapped at him, her voice wavering as nervousness crawled over her body. She wasn't afraid of Gil. He would never hurt her. But she had no idea what was bothering him. The one thing she did know was that it had to be something pretty bad. She'd never seen him this upset before, and she wasn't exactly sure how he would react to her probing him for information.

"So." Gil turned to face her. His face was tight with anger, but she could see the pain reflected in his deep blue eyes. "So, fine. You want to know so bad…I'll tell you. I'm going deaf."

"What?" Catherine wasn't sure she had heard him correctly. "You're going deaf?"

"That's what I said."

The words finally clicked in her head. Gil's mother had been deaf. She remembered their conversation as if it had taken place yesterday. The day he had old her about it – about the disease that had stolen his mother's precious hearing.

"Otosclerosis." Catherine felt sick as the word floated out of her mouth.

"How am I supposed to do my job? How will I be able to interrogate someone if I can't hear the way something is answered?"

"Gil." She walked over to him and placed her hand lightly on his arm. "It'll be ok."

Gil jerked his arm away from her as if he'd been burned.

"Did you hear what I said, Catherine? Deaf. I won't be able to hear anything."

"Yes, I heard you. But I think you're being a little bit fatalistic about it. It's way too early to feel that way, Gil. There has to be some treatment – some way to slow it down."

"There isn't."

"You don't know that for sure."

"It doesn't matter." His voice was growing icier with each word he spoke.

"It *does* matter, damnit!"

Gil spun on her. His face was flushed red. Eyes burning with rage. In a matter of seconds, he had grabbed her and pinned her against the wall with his hands. His fingers dug into the tender flesh beneath her pajama top. The weight of his body forced her shoulders roughly into the hard surface behind her. Gil's face was inches from hers – she could smell the scotch on his warm breath.

"Don't you understand anything?" His voice was a hiss against her ear. "It's over."


"My career is over." Gil pressed his body into hers. Catherine could feel his growing erection pressing into her thigh.

"It's not."

She began to squirm beneath him. Dull pain throbbed throughout her body, but heat was building within her as well. The second Gil's body made contact with hers, she felt it pooling in her stomach and spreading warmly outward through her veins. The air between them was crackling with electricity. Her breathing sped up to match the rapid beating of her heart. She heard his breathing quicken in tandem with hers.

"You should know better than anyone that it is, Catherine." His fingers tightened on her shoulders and Catherine groaned softly. "So stop trying to argue with me. You know you won't win." His lips hovered just above hers.

"Please, Gil." Catherine paused, her eyes meeting his. He was so close to her now that when she spoke, her lips brushed against his. The contact sent a wave of shock through her and her arousal
deepened. She wanted him badly. She had since the day they had met. But this situation was getting out of hand. He was starting to freak her out a little. His grip tightened further and she could actually feel the pads of his fingertips digging grooves into her skin.

That was the moment when her feelings of pleasure turned into those of pain. She gasped and lifted her hands to his chest. She tried to push him away.

"Gil, stop."

Gil's mouth curled into a smirk. Before Catherine could react, his lips covered hers. His kiss was very rough – unyielding. His lips crushed against hers and she felt her teeth scrape into the tender
skin within her mouth. Gil pressed against her, pushing his tongue between her lips. He thrust his pelvis into her and Catherine knew she had to get control of the situation – right now. She wasn't
going to allow Gil to do something he would regret later – simply because he was upset.

And drunk.

Catherine closed her lips, halting Gil's kiss, and braced herself against the wall. She balled her hands into fists within his shirt and shoved forward with all the strength she could muster. Their
kiss broke with an audible release of suction.

Gil, who was caught completely off guard, stumbled backward and began to fall. His arms pinwheeled as he tried to keep his balance. His hands brushed the sofa as he tumbled to the ground. He hit the floor with a loud thump, his head barely missing the sharp edge of the
coffee table. Gil quickly sat up and turned his sharp gaze to Catherine.

"What the hell did you do that for?"

"Let's not do this, Gil." Catherine's gaze lowered to the floor. She reached up and tried to rub the ache from her shoulders. "I don't want things to be this way between us."

"I want to know why you shoved me like that."

"Fine!" Catherine's eyes shot to his as the word left her mouth in a biting scream. Clamping her lips tightly together, she mentally counted to ten. The situation was already heated - there was no
reason for her to make it worse by feeding into it through yelling at him. When she spoke again, her voice was still sharp, but more controlled. "You're upset. You're drunk."

"Yes. I am. What does that have to do with anything?"

"Would you just shut up and listen to me! You want an explanation, let me give you one!"

Catherine's fury resurfaced. The urge to slap Gil across the face rose up within her and she spun away so her back was to him. It took every single ounce of will power she had, but she managed to get herself back into control.

"Gil, we're friends. Best of. We have been for a very long time. This friendship between us.it's not normal. God, I mean.it's something special. We know each other better than anyone else. Sometimes, well, sometimes it almost feels like we're the same person. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel something - more - for you. Something beyond this. That we could be more than friends
and I think you feel the same way."

A lump formed in Catherine's throat and she paused once again. She sighed wearily and turned back to face him, her eyes settling on his. When she spoke, her words were laced with a sad bitterness.

"But I'll be damned if I let this happen right now - like this. I want to be with you, Gil. I really do. But as much as I want this, it's not going to happen. No way. I won't allow it. It's not going to be like this between us."

"Like what?" Gil stood unsteadily, his arms crossed over his torso. His voice still held a hint of hostility.

"I don't want things to be the way they were with Ed. Drunk. Violent. Emotionless. It can't be that way." Her tone softened. "Not between us. You're a better person than that. You know it and I know it."

Gil stared at her, his gaze clouding over with confusion.

"We could have something perfect, Gil, if we handle things the right way." Her voice wavered slightly. "But if this - whatever we have between us - is handled wrong, we could lose everything. Including our friendship. And I'm not willing to lose that. Not for anything. I told you a long time ago that I don't have many regrets. The ones I do have - are big. And I don't want you to be a
regret, Gil. And I don't want to become one for you."

Catherine watched as Gil's expression shifted. Shame stole the color from his face as realization began to fill him.

"I don't want this - us - to be a mistake. Something you did because you were upset and drunk. Something I did to make you forget about your pain for just a short amount of time. You would never forgive yourself if you treated me like Ed did, and I would never forgive myself if I lost your friendship over allowing it to happen."

"God, Catherine." Gil's chin dropped to his chest and he leaned back against the sofa. "I'm so sorry. Ugh! How stupid and childish! I don't know what's that matter with me." He paused again and reached up to rub at his eyes, his head shaking back and forth. "No, wait. I do know. This thing.this disease. I'm so scared of it."

Gil's eyes lifted and met Catherine's. Nodding, she continued to rub the ache from her shoulders and waited for him to speak again.

"I'm scared of what it's going to do to me.to my career. I feel so helpless. I've been a CSI forever. It's all I know. I can't imagine being anything else. And how can I be a CSI if I can't
hear?" Catherine heard his voice catch. He cleared his throat and continued. "But honestly, I think the thing I'm most afraid of is being alone. I don't want to be alone, Catherine. Just the thought of it terrifies me."

"Gil, don't you understand? You'll never be alone. Sara. Nick. Warrick. They are all your friends.and they always will be. Whether you can hear or not. And me." She stepped forward and reached out to brush her fingers over his cheek. "I'll be here for you. Always. No matter what happens."

Gil grasped her hand tightly and held it against his skin.

"I'm so sorry, Cath. You know that I would never do anything.things would never be.that way. I couldn't hurt you. Not ever. You know that, right?"

"Yes, I know." Her eyes slipped closed as he pressed light kisses on the back of her hand. His lips were warm and soft. Catherine felt his arms go around her and she folded up against him. Gil's hand slipped into her hair and he hugged her close.

"You're my best friend, Catherine." His voice was whisper soft and choked with emotion. "I care about you so much. More than I care about myself. God, I don't know what I'd do if I lost you. Where I'd be without you."

Catherine could only nod. Tears were threatening to form behind her eyes and she feared they would appear if she spoke. She pressed her face into her friend's chest and inhaled his scent.

It was there.

Beneath the booze and the cigarettes. That familiar `Gil' smell she had come to know over the years - soap and soft, masculine cologne. The smell that had gotton her through the long nights after Ed had smacked her around - the nights she had run to Gil for comfort.

Comfort. That's what Gil smelled like - comfort. She held her breath, not wanting to let go of it.

"I'd better go." Gil hugged her once more, inhaled and expelled the air from his lungs in a long, slow sigh. He released her and turned away. Catherine's eyes flew open and she watched him for a moment before speaking. It was apparent that he was still drunk. His gait was unsteady and halting.


"Yes?" He stopped, hand on the doorknob, and glanced over his shoulder at her.

"I can't let you go."

"I've done enough already, Cath." Gil ran his fingers through his hair and turned around to face her. "I don't want to press my luck."

"You can't go, Gil. You're too drunk to drive."

"I'll call a cab."

"No. Stay. Here with me. Tonight." She held her hand out to him and smiled.

"There were so many times that I stayed with you when.uh.Ed was.well, I'm sure you remember. Besides, Lindsay is in Miami right now. I'm sure she wouldn't mind if you borrowed her bed just this once."

"Ok. I'll stay."

Gil smiled back and put his hand into hers. Catherine led him through the house, back to Lindsay's room. She flipped on the light and looked around at her daughter's room. A small laugh escaped her as she glanced at Gil, at the tiny twin bed, and back at him.

"Maybe I should sleep in here. You're a little tall for a twin bed."

"No, I'll be fine."

"Gil, it's ok. I used to spend countless nights in here with Lindsay." Gil squeezed her hand tightly and Catherine sighed away another memory of her past. She pulled him out of the room and into
the master bedroom. "Enough about that. Come on. Let's get you something to change in to."

"Cath, I'm sorry. But, uh, I think I'd rather sleep on a bed of nails than in some clothing that belonged to Ed."

"Oh don't worry. You don't have to wear anything of his. Believe it or not, I think I may actually have a pair of shorts and a t-shirt that belong to you."

Catherine opened her closet, dropped to her knees, and began digging through a box of clothes.

"Why do you have some of my clothes here?"

"Ah ha! I *knew* it." She stood, a huge grin on her face, holding the items she had promised. "Why do I have these? How soon you forget. Let's see. I think it was about nine months ago, we were working on that case - the really bad, bloody one. There was so much blood at the crime scene that it actually soaked through our jumpsuits, and through your clothes.all the way down to your skivies." Catherine giggled.

"It's all coming back to me now." Gil smirked.

"We were in the locker room changing. You were upset because, and I quote, `Damnit, Cath! These were my favorite shorts and now they're ruined!' I told you I could get the blood out. You didn't believe me. We made a bet." She laughed as she first held the white t-shirt then the light gray shorts up to the light. Neither had any visible stains. "You lost."

"Would that shirt stand up to testing in our lab?"

"Oh, please. Don't question the stain laundering skills of a mother. Have you ever seen a grape juice-stained carpet?"

"Ok, ok. I get your point." He held up his hands in surrender. "So, what did you win?

"Well, you were supposed to hand-wash my Tahoe *and* clean the inside once a week for an entire month. I reminded you about it. Left notes. Finally, I gave up and washed it myself. Less work than trying to remind you to do it." She smirked at him.

"Ahhhh. So that's what all of those little yellow pieces of paper were about." He glanced over at her, his own lips curling into a small grin. "They made nice coasters for my coffee - and evidence

"Uh huh. I'm sure of that." Catherine balled up the clothes and whipped them at him.

"Well, now that it's come up again, do you plan to collect on that bet? Should I get out the soap and sponges?"

"Warrick saw me washing the Tahoe myself. He offered to wash mine whenever he washes his."

"Teacher's pet."

"Nah. Warrick's not the brown-nosing type. Besides, you're his supervisor. Not me. Your ass is the one he'd be kissing, not mine. Although mine is definitely more appealing."

"Ha ha ha. Though I guess when Warrick's involved, it's probably better if he thinks your ass is more appealing than mine."


"Well, then, maybe he's got a crush on you." He chidded.

"Jealous much?" She shot back at him. Gil didn't respond, but his cheeks turned crimson. Catherine shrugged. "Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't. Either way.Tahoe's clean. Doesn't need to be washed anymore."

"Can you think of anything else you might need help with?"

"Maybe." Her smirk changed into a smile. "Let me think about it. I'm going to get you some water - and a few aspirin. Why don't you change? I'll be right back."


Catherine exited the room and walked quickly to the bathroom. She pulled the medicine cabinet open and grabbed the bottle of Tylenol. After removing two tablets from the bottle, she returned it to its place and closed the door. A quick glance in the mirror and Catherine's breath caught.

She looked terrible.

Hair was a mess - not done. Face was worse - no make up, pale. Catherine gagged at her reflection and ran her fingers quickly through her hair. It didn't do much good. She shrugged and filled a glass with water.

"You look like hell, Willows." A soft laugh escaped her as she flipped off the light. "Then again, it is 4am.and he's seen you much, much worse."

Gil was lying on her bed, blankets resting at his feet, eyes closed. He was on his side, facing her. Catherine paused in the doorway for a moment and listened to him breathing. A small smile crossed her lips and she walked quietly over to the bed. Placing the glass and tablets on the small bedside table, she glanced sideways at her friend.

He looked so - peaceful. And sexy.

Catherine's smile faded as her gaze traveled over him. His perfectly formed calves, muscular thighs, full chest. Her eyes finally came to a rest on his face. The face she had known for so long. The face of the man who had seen her through good times and some very bad ones. She memorized every line, every curve, every blemish. Catherine's hands ached with the need to touch him, to run her fingers through his wavy, silvering hair. Her heart began to pound, her breath
coming in short, choppy gasps. Forcing herself to pull her gaze away from him, Catherine stood and reached down to grasp the edge of the blankets.

"Catherine." Gil's soft voice startled her. His hand dropped over hers, fingers closing tightly around it.

"I thought you were sleeping." Catherine knew her face was flushed, so she kept her eyes on the bed. "I was going to cover you up then head off to bed myself."

"I wasn't sleeping." His hand moved from hers and found its way to her cheek. He gently tilted her face so their gazes could meet. "Lay down here with me. Just for a while. So I can fall asleep."


Gil slid backwards, making room for her on the bed. Catherine slipped in beside him and he reached down to pull the blankets over them. She sighed when he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her against him. They laid there in the silence, listening to each others breathing, for what seemed like an eternity. Catherine felt Gil's heart beating lightly against her cheek - could hear its gentle rhythm playing in her ears. His skin was warm and soft.

Catherine felt herself beginning to drift off into sleep. She moved in closer to Gil and snuggled against him. He shifted slightly next to her.


"Uh huh?"

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"For being here. For being my friend." His voice caught and when he continued, Catherine could hear that he had started to cry. "I don't know what I did to deserve your friendship, but it must have been something amazing."

She moved away from him and met his eyes. Tears were rolling freely down both of his cheeks and she reached out to brush them away.

"There's no reason to cry, Gil." Catherine turned onto her back and pulled him to her. Cradling his head to her chest, she squeezed him tightly against her. His arm wrapped around her middle and he hugged her back. As she rocked him, Catherine dotted his hair with small, feather-light kisses. "Everything will be ok. I promise."

Gil only nodded, his tears dampening her pajamas. It broke Catherine's heart to see him this way. She slid her hand under his chin and tilted his face upward. Their eyes met. Catherine pressed her lips lightly under each of his eyes, kissing his tears away.

"Gil. I will do whatever I can to help you. Please don't worry." She reached up and stroked her fingertips across his cheek. "I'll be here. Always."

Gil placed his hand over hers and held it against his cheek. Their eyes locked on each other and Catherine saw Gil's need reflected in his expression. Her own need flowed through her body like an electrical current. It rushed under her skin, hot and raw, goosebumps rising in its wake. Gil shifted so he was leaning over her. His breath was warm on her face as he whispered her name.
Catherine's own breath caught as his lips pressed down onto hers.

The kiss was soft and warm, their mouths moving against each other slowly, tentatively. Gil shifted again and rolled Catherine onto her side. His hand brushed over her arm, tickling the skin beneath the silky material of her pajamas, and slid it around to her back. Catherine felt his fingers twisting tightly into her top and she sighed into Gil's mouth as he pulled her against him. He rolled to his back, taking her along with him. Her body pressed down on him and she felt his erection growing solid against her middle. His hands wound their way up her back and neck, fingers braiding into her hair, and he pulled her in. Catherine opened her mouth to deepen their kiss - sliding her tongue between his parted lips. She felt him shudder in response.

Catherine broke their kiss and opened her eyes. Gil's eyes were closed, his lips curled into a soft smile.

"Gil?" She pushed herself upwards and sat so she was straddling his hips.

"Yes?" His eyes opened slowly. They were glazed over and unfocused.

"I want you to make love to me."

"I.uh.I don't understand, Catherine. Earlier you said that you didn't.that it would be a mistake right now.that it could."

"Gil, shut up." Catherine chuckled quietly and untangled herself from him. Standing, she smiled down at him. "Are you sure the doctor said that you're going deaf?" He nodded, confusion clouding his blue eyes. She reached down to him and pinched his cheek lightly. "Well, I don't know that I'd worry about that just yet. I think what you really need to start working on is that selective
hearing problem you already have."

Gil's lips curled into a smile that matched hers. He laughed softly.

"Yeah. I guess that's true enough. Sorry."

"I'm so beyond used to it, it's sick. Anyway, what I said before was basically that I didn't want our first time to consist of fucking against my living room wall - you in a drunken stupor and me going
along with it just because you're feeling bad." Gil's eyes widened in shock and she laughed. "Ok, maybe I didn't say it in those *exact* words. But it's what I meant. I want our first time to be -
special. The way it should be. And right here, right now, in this bed - it is special."

Gil nodded and swallowed roughly.



"Will you? Make love to me, Gil?"

"I can't think of anything else I'd rather do."

Catherine began to undress. Gil rolled to his side, his eyes gliding over her delicate hands as she unbuttoned her pajama top. Working slowly, she moved her fingers over each button, pushing them through the holes as carefully as she could. His gaze burned along her skin as she slid the pale silk over her shoulders.

The moment was broken when Gil gasped in self-disgust. His hand flew to his mouth when he saw the small, reddening circles on each of her shoulders.

Catherine had known there would be bruises. She'd been on the receiving end of many slaps, punches, and kicks over the years - not to mention the fact that she saw bruises on a daily basis at work. If there was an expert in this area, Catherine Willows was it. When he saw them, Gil would have some kind of reaction - Catherine had known he would. He had seen her skin colored with purple, blue and black before. Been witness to her face covered in cuts and scrapes. But those bruises, those cuts, had come courtesy of Ed.

This was very different. The marks on her body had been made by him - by Gil's own fingers.

"God, Catherine, I..." Gil sat up quickly and stood. His fingertips brushed over the still-developing bruises. He pressed his lips gently to each one. "I'm so sorry."

"It's ok."


She pressed her finger to his lips and then replaced it with her mouth. Her lips moved skillfully over Gil's, eliciting soft moans from him. His arms came around her and she wrapped her own around Gil's body. The soft cotton of his shirt rubbed over her exposed breasts and her nipples became taut. Catherine's hands dropped to his waist and she grasped the edge of his t-shirt. She ran her hands over his chest, pulling the shirt up as she went. Their kiss broke momentarily as Catherine slid it over Gil's head. Their lips reconnected immediately. When their naked skin made contact, she gasped into his mouth. Gil slipped his arms around her and pulled her close. His fingertips played along her spine like a piano and her legs began to shake.

Gil ended their kiss and looked into her eyes. His hands dropped to her waist and slid under the waistband of her pajama bottoms. Catherine sighed heavily as he dotted her face with tender kisses. Pausing at her throat, Gil grazed the spot lightly with his teeth and tongue. He moved lower down her torso, kissing and nibbling her skin, stopping between her breasts. Shudders passed through her as his lips brushed over the skin of each tender globe of skin.

Inhaling deeply, Gil continued his descent. Gentle kisses dotted her body, his lips pressing against every inch of exposed skin. He dropped to his knees and pushed her pajamas over hips. The silky
material fell to the floor and pooled at her feet. Catherine's skin prickled with goosebumps when the cool air made contact with her nude body.

Catherine heard Gil's breath catch and her eyes snapped open. She looked down to see him staring at her - eyes open wide, an expression of what she could only describe as pleasure covering his face. It was then that she realized she was standing in front of him - completely naked. Catherine felt oddly exposed. That confused her a little given the fact that she had been a stripper for so long. Nudity had been her career, why was she feeling exposed now?

Again, she knew this was different. When she stripped, it had been for strangers. People she couldn't care less about. The only thing she had wanted from them was their money. Catherine cared deeply about the man kneeling in front of her. He was her co-worker - he was her friend. He wasn't some stranger in a club. There were actual feelings between them. Catherine began to shift on her feet nervously.

Gil's eyes finally lifted to hers. A soft smile curled the corners of his lips and her uneasiness disappeared. He stood and gathered her against him. Strong arms lifted Catherine from her feet and placed her gently on the bed. Gil's gaze travelled over her once more. When his eyes returned to hers, he removed his own shorts. Reaching down, he picked up Catherine's pajamas and placed both of their clothing over the bed's footrail.

Catherine watched him for a moment - how tenderly he folded her pajamas in half and placed them on top of his. It was so *Gil* of him. When his eyes turned to her, she smiled and reached out for him.

"Gil." Her voice was a whisper.

"No. Not yet." Gil climbed onto the foot of the bed. "I've been waiting a long time to do this. I don't want to miss anything."

Starting with the tip of her toes, Gil kissed each inch of her skin. His lips slid over her ankles and calves. Catherine buzzed with electricity as he passed over each thigh. When his lips brushed over
her center, she almost screamed. Her body tensed, back arching into him. Resisting the urge to grab his hair and hold him there until she climaxed, Catherine inhaled deeply and forced her body to relax. Gil continued his ascent - his lips, teeth and tongue testing and tasting everywhere they could. Over her flat stomach, pausing at each breast, and finally arriving at Catherine's throat.

Pulse racing, Catherine slipped her hands into Gil's hair and pulled him gently away from her neck. When she spoke, her voice was breathy and hoarse - her words choppy.

"I can't.handle.anymore. I want.you.to."

Before another word left her lips, he shifted slightly and entered her.

* * * * * *

Catherine lay cradled against Gil. His strong arms encircled her, his warm breath brushing over the back of her neck. She had never felt so comfortable in her entire life. So - complete. It was in
that moment that she knew exactly how she felt about Gil Grissom.

"Gil, I need to tell you something."

"Ok." His voice was soft and sleepy as he nuzzled into her hair.

"And I want you to know that I'm not just saying this to make you feel better about what the doctor told you. Or because of what just happened between us." She rolled onto her other side so they were laying face to face. "But I need to say it."

"Catherine, you've never held back on me before. You know you can say anything to me." He brushed the backs of his fingers across her face. "Go ahead."

"No interrupting?"

"Scout's honor."

"I'm falling in love with you, Mr. Grissom."

Gil stared at her for a second, his eyes burning a path all the way through her. She felt electricity speeding through her - from the top of her head to the tips of her toes.

"God, Cath." He reached out and placed his palm on her cheek. "Can't you see? I've already fallen."

~ end ~