Heather was not at all surprised when she saw the woman standing outside her front door. Allowing herself a small smile, she paused a moment to ensure her expression was back to neutral before she opened the door. When she did, she instantly noticed the tiredness in the eyes that met hers, and the concern that hardened her face.
“Catherine,” she greeted her visitor.
“Lady Heather,” Catherine responded with a smile Heather noted did not reach beyond her lips.
Heather smiled back genuinely. “Just ‘Heather’… I thought you might stop by. Didn’t take you long.”
“I followed the evidence.”
“And it led you straight here?”
Catherine nodded. “Is he still here?”
“It’s not my - ”
“I just want to know that he’s okay,” Catherine interrupted her, and Heather saw the full extent of the other woman’s worry now radiating from her eyes. She couldn’t leave her wondering.
“He’s sleeping,” she told her.
Relief flooded Catherine’s face and posture. “Oh thank God. I don’t think he’s done that in a while… Thank you. I’m sorry I - ”
“Have you slept well lately?” Heather stopped Catherine before she could take her leave. Along with relief that Grissom was okay, Heather had seen the brief flash of sadness that had passed across Catherine’s face. While Catherine was pleased to have found Grissom, and to know he was finally getting some long needed sleep, she was clearly somewhat hurt that he didn’t turn to her for the support he needed.
Each time Heather had encountered Grissom’s CSI team, she had wondered what the history was between Grissom and Catherine. She could see their affection for each other, but just as obvious was the way they were both doing their best to hide it. However, it had never been appropriate to ask, and when Grissom had confided in her about Sara, she had concluded, though uncertainly, that perhaps she had been wrong.
But what she could see now from Catherine was not plain concern for a friend. Standing before her was a woman who had recently lost one close friend, and was terrified that she was losing the man she loved as well.
“Erm… Not especially,” Catherine answered her question. “It’s been a difficult few months.”
Heather nodded sympathetically. “I heard about Warrick.”
Catherine’s eyes clouded with pain. “Yeah,” she whispered, and then she looked away.
There was a quiet moment then, as Heather gave Catherine the space she needed. Seconds passed and then Catherine looked quickly back to Heather - a signal she was changing the subject.
“Did he speak to you? Did he tell you what’s going on in his head?” Catherine asked.
Catherine nodded - more to herself than to Heather. “That’s good… He wouldn’t say a word to me. But he needed to talk to someone.”
It was heart wrenching to see the sadness in Catherine’s eyes. Eyes that, when Heather had first met Catherine, had been so full of excitement and intrigue - so happy.
“What about you?”
“He wouldn’t - ”
“No,” Heather interrupted as Catherine misunderstood. “Do you need to talk to someone?”
“Oh no,” Catherine insisted, though it lacked conviction, “No, I’m fine. I’m dealing with it.”
“With Warrick’s death?” Heather asked.
Catherine nodded, sadly.
“What about with Grissom?”
Catherine frowned. “What do you mean?”
“You’re trying to help him, and he’s just pulling further and further away. Do you want to talk about that?”
Catherine offered a small smile but turned down the offer. “I don’t think he’d - ”
“He’s asleep, Catherine.”
The smile was gone, and Heather realised what Catherine must have been thinking when she said, “And I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to talk about it with you.”
Heather smiled slightly as she absorbed the meaning of Catherine’s words. “He’s asleep in the guest room. I stayed until he fell asleep. That’s all.”
Catherine shook her head. “I wasn’t - ”
Heather’s smile widened. “Yes you were.”
Catherine’s cheeks flushed a little. “Well obviously you could see why I would think that.”
Heather nodded. “Now that we’ve set that straight, will you come in?”
Catherine shook her head again. “I still don’t think it’s a good idea. I don’t think he’ll be pleased to find me here when he wakes up.”
Heather regarded Catherine for a moment, wondering how things had got to this point in the CSI’s relationship with Grissom. They had always seemed so close. “I beg to differ,” she told her honestly. Stepping back, she held the door open. “Please, come in.”
Catherine looked so vulnerable, and completely exhausted, when her uncertain eyes met Heather’s as she considered what to do next.
“Catherine, trust me,” she assured her, “He needs this as much as you do.”
A few more seconds ticked by and then Catherine nodded once and stepped over the threshold.
Heather smiled to herself as she closed the door. “Can I get you a drink?” she offered, leading Catherine towards the living room.
“No, thank you,” Catherine declined, “I shouldn’t stay long.”
Heather indicated for Catherine to sit down, and let out a small sigh as she sat down opposite her. “Can I be blunt with you?”
Catherine’s lips quirked upwards. “Sure.”
“How did you and Grissom get into this mess?”
Catherine’s eyes widened. Evidently she hadn’t expected that.
“I don’t - ”
“Catherine, if this is going to help you and Grissom, you’re going to have to be honest. At least with yourself, if not with me.”
Catherine held Heather’s gaze and Heather could practically see her thought processes at work. After a moment, a veil of regret fell over Catherine’s eyes before she turned them away, and she quietly admitted, “I did something he didn’t approve of. And I guess I didn’t try hard enough to fix it.”
Heather frowned a little, unsure from the vague details what exactly had happened. “You shouldn’t have to try so hard. He should have forgiven you.”
A sharp burst of laughter preceded Catherine’s response. “He had no right to need to forgive me.”
That made things a bit clearer. “Like you had no right to need to forgive him for his relationship with Sara?”
Catherine’s eyes were back on Heather’s. “You’re good.”
“Therapy’s what I do now… Couples’ therapy in particular.”
Catherine’s raised eyebrow showed that she had found the hidden meaning there. Heather just smiled and waited for Catherine to continue. She knew she would.
“It was more myself that I needed to forgive… I should have told him how I feel. Hey, I had over two decades. Couldn’t expect he’d be single forever.”
“But you did.”
Catherine gave a sad smile. “Yeah… I suppose I liked to believe he felt the same way. To believe we were both just being sensible - thinking of our friendship and our working relationship.”
“And you don’t believe that now?”
Catherine’s brow creased. She seemed genuinely puzzled by the question. “I think his relationship with Sara proves I was wrong.”
“Do you think he loved Sara?”
Her shoulders moved in a partial shrug. “I would hope so.”
“You don’t think, at that time, he needed someone, and he needed it to be devoid of love?”
Catherine’s frown deepened. “I’ve never… looked at it that way.”
“Perhaps you should.”
“You’re telling me Grissom’s relationship with Sara was just about sex?”
Heather shook her head. “No. There was more to it than that. It was what he needed. Then.”
“That was very selfish of him,” Catherine commented harshly.
“Occasionally we all are. Sometimes we need to know we’re alive. We need human contact.” Heather noticed Catherine snigger at this, but she carried on. “We need something we know isn’t forever, but it is for now.”
“He proposed to her.”
“But didn’t marry her… He’s been lost, Catherine. You were losing him, because he was lost.”
“He could have let me help him.”
Heather shook her head. “He wouldn’t let that happen with you and him. He couldn’t turn to you when he wasn’t sure he would ever find himself again. He wouldn’t do that to you.”
“So instead he let me go? Completely?”
Now Heather nodded. “It was the safest thing to do.”
A smile formed slowly on Catherine’s lips, but it wasn’t one of happiness. “That’s an interesting theory. But did he admit any of that?”
“He didn’t need to.”
“Well until I hear - ”
Both women turned at the sound of the familiar voice. Grissom was standing in the doorway, his shirt unfastened at the collar, and more creased on one side than the other.
Catherine immediately stood up and smiled at him. “Hi.”
Heather stood too, watching the interaction between the two CSIs closely.
“What are you doing here?”
“I just wanted to check that you’re okay. You just walked out and - ”
“How did you know I’d be here?”
“You weren’t at home. This was your last known whereabouts.” The smile Catherine gave him was forced, Heather noticed. “I followed the evidence.”
Grissom nodded in response but didn’t say anything further. The awkwardness in the atmosphere was palpable and both parties looked simultaneously nervous and terrified as they looked across the room at each other.
The silence dragged on for what felt like minutes before Grissom said, “I should go,” and turned to do so.
Heather took a breath to say, “Don’t,” but found that the word came from elsewhere before she had chance.
Grissom turned back, and was frowning at Catherine now as if surprised that she wanted him to stay.
“Talk to me.”
He deepened his frown, but Heather knew that he understood completely.
“I don’t - ”
“Please, Gil?” Obviously Catherine knew as well.
Grissom’s eyes flicked to Heather, hard as if accusing her of having given Catherine her information. Heather held his gaze, stood her ground; she regretted none of what she had said.
There was an audible break in Catherine’s voice as she continued. “Or at least let me talk to you.”
Heather’s eye contact with Grissom was broken as they both instantly faced Catherine. The vulnerability in her tone was heartbreaking, and there were tears in her eyes.
“I miss Warrick, Gil. Every time I wake up I remember all over again that he’s gone. I keep having dreams of us all together, the team that we used to be. He’s there, Sara’s there, you’re there… But when I wake up - … It all hits me all over again. Warrick’s death, you and Sara… This distance between us. And I mourn him and I want to come to you, and comfort you, and you look so lost, I want to hold you but you won’t let me in and I can’t - … I just… I need you - ”
Grissom swept across the room and embraced Catherine, capturing her just as she was breaking down. He held her tightly to him, and she buried her face in his neck, her hands clinging to his back.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered, stroking her hair, “I’m sorry.”
“I miss you,” Catherine whispered back.
“I’m here,” he promised.
Heather swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat and moved quietly across the room. Pausing in the doorway she looked one more time at the reunited friends, and smiled, relieved they had found their way back. It would take time, she knew, for them to work through everything that had happened, but they were a step closer.
She nodded to herself, pleased with the outcome of the night’s unexpected visits, then stepped out, pulling the door closed behind her.