Falling
 
Chapter Three

Grissom had settled Lindsey on the sofa with a new DVD and some ice cream, whilst Catherine tidied the kitchen. He returned to find her staring out of the window, a troubled tension holding her face.

Walking over to her, he stopped beside her and also looked out of the window. After a short moment of silence, he quietly spoke. "She's fine."

Catherine lowered her head, closing her eyes. "I'm driving her insane, aren't I?"

"No," Grissom insisted.

Catherine looked up at him. "She was overjoyed that you were gonna take her into the lounge not me."

"That's because I'm wonderful," he smirked, his joke serving its purpose and prompting a small smile from Catherine. "That's better," he said.

"What is?" she frowned.

"I've missed that smile," he replied softly. For several seconds he held her gaze, both standing in silence, his presence enveloping her in comfort. Feeling the strength she had convinced herself she needed leaving her, Catherine broke the contact and turned away, moving towards the table.

Grissom allowed her the space, remaining where he was as he started the next line of conversation.

"What's wrong, Cath?"

"I would have thought it's obvious. I'm just worried about Lindsey," she replied, her abrupt, defensive tone returning.

"No you're not," Grissom responded, then seeing the anger building in her eyes, he realised how she had interpreted his comment, and quickly added: "I mean, you're not just worried about Lindsey, there's something else going on here. Tell me what it is? I'm here to help."

"Right!" she snorted, actually making Grissom jump with the suddenness of the outburst. "So, you're not here to talk me out of resigning?"

"No," he said simply.

"So it's just a coincidence that you turn up here on the day you would have been handed my letter?"

"If you want to resign then I won't stop you," he said calmly.

There was a brief silence as Catherine looked at him, shocked. "You won't?"

He shook his head. "If it's what you want, then I'll support you."

Catherine frowned at him. "Really?"

He nodded. "You have to do what will make you happy, and if resigning is what you need to do, then… well, I have no right to ask you not to do it… I would like to make one request though."

Still shocked, Catherine asked: "What's that?"

"Don't be a stranger?" His eyes again caught hers, and again she felt the power draining from her body. The effect he could have on her was overwhelming. She shook herself free, looking away to try to break the spell.

"I haven't said that it is what I want… I just need some time to sort my head out… I'll take it unpaid, you'll be able to get someone to fill in for me. I'm not trying to be selfish!"

"And how will you survive without the money?" he asked.

"I have the money from Sam, we'll – " Seeing the look of disdain on Grissom's face, she stopped in the middle of that sentence. "At least I wouldn't have to see that every time the money, or Sam came up. I'm sorry I brought the lab and your precious reputation into dispute, but Lindsey is more important to me than any of that, and I needed that money to give her the life she deserves!…" she took a deep breath. "And part of what she deserves is a mother who sees her for more than two hours a day!… God, it's no wonder Ed used to report me for neglect." She began to walk towards the door.

Grissom knew she was heading for Lindsey, that her constant fussing over Lindsey now, was her way of making up for this guilt she was feeling. But he also knew that none of that would make her feel better. He crossed the room quickly, and gently took her arm to stop her.

"Cath, Eddie's reasons for reporting you were selfish, he was thinking of himself, not of Lindsey."

She looked to him. "That may be, but there was some truth to it. I'm never here, Gil. She spends more time with Julie – " at Grissom's slight puzzled look, she added, "Her nanny – than she does with me."

Grissom looked at her sympathetically and, softly placing his hands on her shoulders, turned her to face him. "You can't be by her side every minute of every day. This resignation business has come out of the fact that she fell downstairs – and, yes, by all means take some time off to look after her - but, you were here when she fell, and it still happened. The fact that you have a very time consuming job is not responsible for this."

Catherine eyes lowered, and a look of shame swept her features as Grissom said his penultimate sentence. He noticed this, and suddenly realised what had really caused this behaviour.

"You weren't here," he said, more of a statement than the question that she might have expected.

Catherine shook her head slowly, still unable to look at him.

His hands moved away from her, a subconscious movement that he didn't really notice, but she felt their absence immediately. "But you weren't at work… So it's not really your professional life that's the problem here." He didn't mean for his words to sound so cold, and he probably wasn't aware that they did, but the anger it triggered in Catherine gave her the energy to lift her head.

With another sarcastic laugh, she hissed at him. "So you came to talk me out of a personal life?"

"No… I didn't know that you weren't here when she fell… I came to look after you, to make sure you were thinking straight, and that you didn't make any irrational decisions – "

"It's irrational to want to give up something that keeps me from my daughter?!" she practically shouted at him, moving away from him again, back into the kitchen – a sign that she was going to allow this conversation to continue.

"Work is not the only thing keeping you from her! You weren't at work when she fell!" he shouted back, jealousy he had so far done well to hide, taking over his sense of logic. "This guy must be pretty amazing if you'll throw away your career for him!"

"I'm giving up work for Lindsey!"

"There is more than work in the way here!"

"I am entitled to a personal life!"

"But do you really want a personal life that doesn't involve Lindsey?!"

This hit a sadness nerve, rather than an anger nerve, and Catherine was silent. They just stood staring at each other, chests heaving, pulses still racing.

After about a minute, Catherine quietly said: "They aren't exactly queuing at my door."

Equally quiet, Grissom responded: "No, but occasionally there's one sleeping on your porch."

TBC...