Drowning
Rating: CSI-1
Spoilers: anything at all up until season four ep "Bad to the Bone", particularly "Lady Heather's Box", "Playing with Fire", "Inside the Box" and "Early Rollout".
A/N: Just a little fic. This fits into two challenges, the May challenge - new fic, and the alphabet challenge - letter D. In the world of CSI it's set shortly after "Bad to the Bone" (latest episode to be shown in UK at the time), but it's not an episode addition. I hope it's okay. I'm not sure about it, but don't wanna tweak it to pieces.
Disclaimer: Hmmm, I don't own anything to do with CSI, I just like to get lost in their world.

"Hey," Grissom said as Catherine opened her front door to him.

"Hey," she responded, her raised eyebrow, and the slight increase in pitch at the end of the word, making it almost a question.

"Is this a bad time?" he asked.

She noticed a look of uneasiness in his eyes, and realised why when she remembered that she was dressed only in a bathrobe. Automatically checking that her robe was fastened, she smiled and said: "I was just about to take a shower."

"Oh," Grissom said quietly. "Sorry. I'll go."

He had walked a couple of steps along the path towards his car when Catherine finally managed to get past her confusion at what was going on and speak.

"Gil?" she called after him.

He stopped and turned round.

"Did you... want anything specific?" she smiled.

Grissom shrugged and shook his head. "No." He did, but things had been awkward between them lately and he didn't think she was going to appreciate what he had come to say. And she was less likely to appreciate it if he had interrupted her plans for the day.

No longer able to keep her frown at bay Catherine's brow furrowed. "Okay... Do you want to come in?"

"You're busy... I don't want to intrude."

"It can wait... Come in."

Grissom nodded and walked past her into the house. This did need to be done. He had already left it too long.

She watched him as he walked by, still puzzled by his behaviour, and growing increasingly more concerned about what could be the cause of it. It had been a while since the two of them had talked, even longer since he had been in her house, or she in his. He had said they would be fine, after their argument about the cheque from Sam Braun, but they hadn't been. There was still a distance between them. It probably hadn't helped that they had only recently begun to repair their friendship after his secrecy and fear about his hearing had pushed them apart. In effect, they were right back where they started from, and as yet hadn't really had time to work on moving past this. And now, here he was, obviously troubled, and if it had reached the point that he would come to her house, then it must have been a problem for a while and she had failed to notice. She was swept with guilt that she had let other things in her life - Chris - take her away from those who actually mattered. Chris was fun, but that was all it would ever be. And when she had met him, that was all she needed.

She snapped herself out of her thoughts as she realised she was still standing by the door, and by now, Grissom was looking at her wondering if she was okay.

"Are you alright?" he asked.

She smiled as widely as she could. "Yeah. You?"

Grissom nodded. "I'm fine."

She narrowed her eyes at him, studying him more closely. "Really?"

"Really... I'm fine."

"Then, what brings you here? Not that you're not welcome whenever," she added quickly. "It's just... been a long time."

"Too long," he said simply.

Catherine nodded in agreement.

"How is ... everything?... Lindsey?"

Catherine's frown was still there. She still didn't understand why he was there, but if this was how he wanted to lead up to it, then she would play along.

"She's great," she smiled. The mere mention of Lindsey always made her smile.

"Good... And work? Is everything okay at work now? I've been trying to make sure you don't have to work as many doubles, but I know you've still had a few. Is it still too many?"

He had spoken so quickly it took her a second to catch up. "Work's... fine."

Grissom nodded. "And... everything else?... Are you happy?"

Realising he was referring to Chris, Catherine's eyes widened. "What kind of a question is that? What's going on?"

"I'm worried about you."

"Well, you needn't be... I can take care of myself."

"But you don't have to," he said, his honesty surprising her.

She hesitated for a second, then said: "Yes I do."

"I'm here, Cath. Let me in." He said it, then stood in silence looking at her. His eyes had captured hers and she knew if she didn't look away soon, he was going to see everything.

She lowered her head and looked at her feet as she twitched them nervously. Soon Grissom's feet were in her field of vision, opposite hers.

"I know I should have been here sooner. I should have been here when Eddie died; and after the explosion; and when you found out about Sam. You've had so much to deal with, and I'm sorry I left you to do that alone."

She looked up at him. "You had your own stuff going on. I didn't expect you - "

"You had more `stuff' and you were still at the hospital for me... I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get here, but now I'm here to stay. Let me help you."

"Gil, who said I needed help? I'm fine. I have had a lot to deal with, but I've dealt with it. And I'm moving on."

"With Chris?"

Briefly Catherine wondered how he knew his name but then her anger at his question set in. "That is none of your business!" she practically shouted at him, stepping away from him as she spoke.

"Cath, your relationship with Chris is what alerted me to the fact that you're not okay, and I should have realised it sooner."

"Because I've found myself a personal life I'm not okay? On what do you base that insane conclusion?"

"It's not you."

Catherine stood glaring at him waiting for him to continue. She wasn't going to take that as his explanation.

"You're sleeping with someone you've known for a couple of months - "

At this she snapped. "What the hell gives you the right to comment on that? I - "

"I know you, Catherine!" he raised his voice to be heard through hers. "I've known you for twenty years, and the only time you've ever done anything like this is when you needed someone to turn to! When you weren't coping! It's a plea for help! I know you're not dealing with all of this. You're hiding from it!"

"Maybe I want to hide from it! Maybe I'm fed up of trying to deal with it! I haven't got the strength. Eddie dying was enough, I didn't need anything else to deal with, but I got it! And I can't deal with it. So I'm gonna hide from it! I'm sorry I didn't realise I needed your permission to do that!" A sob shook her body at the end of her speech, and as tears streamed down her cheeks, Grissom stepped forward and enveloped her in his embrace.

He closed his eyes as he felt her crying against him. He should have been here sooner. It should never have got this far.

He stroked her hair gently, and, resting his head against hers, pressed his lips onto her forehead. "I'm sorry I wasn't here, honey," he whispered. "But I am now."

THE END


A/N: Title is taken from the poem "Not Waving, But Drowning" by Stevie Smith.