Gone
Rating: CSI-1
Disclaimer - they are not mine
A/N - song used is "Not A Dry Eye in the House" by Meatloaf
Paperwork could never hold his attention for long. He had managed to write the beginning of a report on a case from last night, then his mind wandered. To her. It always wandered to her.

He couldn't blame it, really. She was just so worth thinking about. The last three months had been the happiest of his life. He had never imagined he would be this happy. He had always known it possible. He had always known he could be this happy if he were with Catherine, but he had always thought it would never happen. And then it did. And now he smiled as he thought about her. Like he had smiled as he walked the corridors of the lab. Like he had smiled as he entered his office. Like he had smiled as he wrote his report. Like he had smiled twenty-four hours a day, every day, for the last three months.

Except for during the last two days. Catherine had gone to a conference, and he had missed her. He was unprepared for the emptiness he would feel. She had been away before, and he had missed her, but this time it was different. He felt as if part of him was missing. But, after the initial shock of the intensity of his feelings, he had managed to smile again. He knew where she was. He knew she was coming back. And she was coming back to him.

"Hey!" a familiar voice called from the doorway.

His smile widening at the mere sound of her soft, gentle voice, he looked up from the report he was once again trying to write, to see her leaning against the doorframe. If possible, she looked more beautiful. Perhaps her absence had made his heart grow fonder of her beauty, he wondered.

After a few seconds of silence, as he absorbed the vision standing before him, the smile slowly fell from his face, becoming a frown as he realised she didn't look happy.

"Catherine? What's wrong? What's happened?" He now stood in front of her, concern having drawn him closer.

She backed away from him. "This isn't working," she began.

"What?"

She continued talking as if she hadn't heard him. "Us. It is not working. It's over, Gil."

While his heart instantly broke at the words, his mind refused to believe that she meant it. He refused to believe that she had said it.

"Catherine," he said, reaching out his hand to her arm.

She avoided the contact. "It was never going to last. We're too different. I'm taking some time off. It'll give us both time to get things back to the way they were. Don't bother trying to contact me. I'll be unreachable."

Pain flared inside him as she turned to leave. He lunged forward and grabbed her arm, spinning her round to face him. "Catherine, what's happened? Why are you doing this? I love you, you know I do. And our differences are what makes us work. They always have been. We compliment each other. The yin and the yang."

She didn't respond. He looked into her eyes, hoping to see an indication that she didn't mean what she had said. Nothing. She looked at him blankly. As he held her he felt that she was shaking. Her lips were trembling, but her eyes were cold, keeping her distant and shut off.

"Cath, please," he pleaded, the tears falling down his cheeks being the result of fear, confusion, hurt and love.

"It is not working. It's over, Gil," she repeated, in the same unemotional tone she had used earlier, but this time he could hear her voice cracking as she spoke, no matter how hard she was trying to hide it.

"You don't mean it. What's going on?" he almost yelled, his emotions manifesting in anger.

She removed her arm from his grip, calmly, took a deep breath and recited "It is not working. It's over, Gil," one more time before turning and running from the room.

~ Not a dry eye in the house
After love's curtain comes down
Listen and you'll hear the sound
Hear the sound of a heart breaking ~

As she turned he felt sure her wall had fallen. There was sadness in her eyes. He ran into the corridor to follow, but she wasn't there. He flew through every door, screaming `where is she?' to the inhabitants of every room. But she wasn't there. As he sprinted towards the parking lot he ran straight into Warrick coming in the opposite direction. The collision resulted in both of them being thrown to the ground. Grissom scrambled to get up, his heart thumping in his chest, his determination pulling at his body to move faster. But he couldn't, his ankle was twisted and refusing to co-operate. He cursed at it. Climbing to his other leg and dragging himself towards the door.

Warrick watched, horrified by what he saw before him. "Gris?"

"Catherine," Grissom muttered through the pain, "I have to get to Catherine!"

His voice was scratching in his throat, tears were tumbling down his face and his body was shaking with every sob. Warrick moved to him and took hold of his shoulders, "Gris, I just saw her leave. What's -"

"I have to follow her, Warrick. Let go of me!"

"Gris! She's gone! Stop!" Warrick shouted to get through to him. He wanted to offer to follow her in Grissom's place, but Catherine had seemed fine when he had seen her outside and he had never seen his boss in this state. He didn't think it would be safe to leave him.

He fought against Warrick a while longer, not making any progress, then collapsed against the wall, dropping his head into his hands, biting at the air around him to try to suppress his cries.

Warrick glared at the onlookers that had gathered, and they quickly dispersed, then he crouched in front of the broken man, a man whose feelings normally remained well-hidden, who now cried openly in the corridor.

"Gris? What happened? Is Cath okay?" he asked, concerned, expecting he probably wouldn't get an answer.

"She's left. She said it wasn't working.... I have to see her, Warrick," Grissom replied, vulnerably, looking up at Warrick with eyes tired and aged by the emotions passing through them.

"First you have to see a doctor. That ankle's pretty messed up," the younger CSI responded, trying not to show his surprise at what he had just been told. Catherine and Grissom had seemed more in love than any other two people he had ever seen. They had both been smiling non-stop for the last three months, and the chemistry had been there long before they had become an official couple. He wondered what had happened, but didn't have time to think about it. He had to get Grissom to a doctor, and get someone to go check on Catherine.

He helped his friend to his feet and took him back to his office. Privacy was the other thing that Grissom needed right now. He knew the scene by the door was going to be all round the lab by now, and the last thing his boss could deal with was whispering and sniggering.

Resting Grissom on the sofa, he took out his cell phone. "Stay there!" he instructed Grissom, "We'll getting everything sorted out, I promise. But your ankle is our priority." Warrick walked into the hall to make the necessary phone calls, keeping one eye on Grissom throughout, making sure he wasn't trying to bolt. Not that he would get very far if he did.

Grissom nodded. He had started to calm down as the shock was wearing off. His mind ran over what she had said, what he had done, how he had reacted. He cringed as he felt the full intensity of the pain in his ankle for the first time, no longer numbed by his resolve to get to Catherine. He still couldn't believe she had left him. Just like that, but he didn't have any tears left to cry. His eyes were dry and sore, and his heart in millions of pieces, unable to sustain his body through another crying session. His mind cried, but his body couldn't, it wouldn't survive.

****

~ I can still see you standin' there
Midnight wind blowin' through your hair, remember
Kisses sweet in the salty air
When love was forever ~

"Miami?!" Catherine exclaimed. "Again?"

Grissom frowned at her, confused by the anger that was present in her voice. "I thought you'd liked Miami?" he asked, tentatively, scared that she was going to scream some complaint about it being always her that has to go to these far away places, never him, never any of the others, her.

"I did," she said, with a smile that dispersed all his fears.

"Well, why the anger?" he asked, perplexed by this sudden change in mood.

"I wasn't angry. I was just asking," she grinned. A grin that told him she was winding him up, and enjoying it.

"Well, yes. Miami again. But, this time I'm going with you. Apparently, as the `boss', I have to know about all these advances in technology, and as the most likely replacement for Ecklie, you do too."

"Most likely... Is he... Am I..?" she stuttered through her surprise.

"Are you going to finish any of those sentences?" Grissom smiled, proud to have rendered her speechless. "You didn't hear it from me," he whispered as he, intentionally, brushed past her and sauntered down the corridor.

*****

"Now, after all that we've just seen, do you still not worry that technology will one day make us obsolete?" Grissom asked as they strolled along the beach, letting the water lap over their feet.

"No... Yes.. Er, how am I supposed to answer that?" she growled at him playfully.

"You could get a robot to answer it for you," he smiled.

"I could," she laughed. "Or I could get one to string grammatically correct sentences together for you," she joked.

"Do you mean to string together sentences that are grammatically correct?" he grinned, smugly.

"I mean what I said, Grissom!"

"Well then you need one too," he laughed.

Her next move caught him by surprise, and as her hands impacted with his arm, he was knocked off balance and landed on his side in the sand. She couldn't contain her laughter, in fact, she made no attempt to. She towered above him, her hair waving around her head and shoulders as the light evening breeze played with it. Her smile was the widest, most beautiful he had ever seen it, and her eyes twinkled as she giggled happily at his situation. He lay on the floor staring up at her, completely mesmerised.

She calmed down as she noticed that he wasn't glaring at her, he wasn't reprimanding her, he was just looking at her. "What?" she said, furrowing her brow slightly.

"Nothing," he replied, unaware that he was still gazing at her.

"Why are you looking at me like that?" she asked, a little nervously uncomfortable about the desire that seemed to be showing in his eyes.

"Like what?" he asked, slightly panicked by his sudden inability to remember what had happened since he had fallen.

"Like you want to - for want of a better word - pounce on me," she smiled.

The corners of Grissom's mouth rode upwards in response to her comment, but, trying to regain control, he pulled them back down. "I'm sure I don't know what you mean," he said, determined to keep a straight face.

"Do you want me to get you a dictionary robot too? Pounce, Gil, as in to jump, to leap."

"I look like I want to leap on you?" he asked, as he watched a section of her hair float blissfully around her ear.

"Yes!" she exclaimed, disturbed by the fact that the look was still there, and he didn't seem to be doing anything about it.

"I must want to then," he smirked, leaning back on his elbows, contentedly.

She eyed him dubiously for a moment, than shook her head, sighed and sat down beside him.

"Are you sure you want to sit that close to me? Do you think you'll be safe?" he teased.

"I'm pretty sure I will be," she remarked, looking out across the ocean.

He kept his eyes fixed on her, taking in every part of her face. Every contour, every shadow, the way the light reflected in her eyes, the way the setting sun made her glow. He laughed to himself as he remembered the look on her face when she was talking about him pouncing on her. He briefly wondered how she would react, but that brief thought was enough to tell him that he didn't want to wonder.

Returning her gesture, he knocked her flat on to the sand as he threw himself on top of her. She didn't have time to be shocked. Where his body was pressed against hers, she could feel sparks and tremors firing inside her. She met his eyes with hers, as his face hovered above her. Her breathing quickened as she wondered what he would do next. He was just playing, right? Just winding her up about the pouncing thing? He wasn't going to kiss her. He looked like he was. But he wasn't. Was he?

He could see the many questions running through her mind, and they also ran through his. His knew he wanted to kiss her. Oh, God, did he want to kiss her. But he didn't think he would. He had wanted to for years, but had never had the courage to do anything about it before. What was different now?

They lay in the sand, both wondering if anything was going to happen. Both hoping it would, and dreading it in case it was a mistake.

The mystery was solved after a few minutes, when Grissom pulled back and stood up, dusting the sand from his clothes. He wanted to look at Catherine, to see if she was relieved or disappointed, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. Looking down the beach, he held his hand out to her to help her up. She accepted and stood, watching his averted gaze as she rid her clothes of sand.

"We should get back before it goes dark," he said, without looking at her.

He began walking back along the beach, and she followed him, slipping her hand into his.

He stopped at the contact, and turned to her, surprised. But she didn't let go. Their eyes met for the second before their lips collided. He brushed her hair away from her face, stroking her cheeks, as he explored her mouth. She wrapped her arms around him and pulled him closer to her.

The kiss was long and passionate, and took them a step closer to fulfilling dreams they had both had since the day they met.

~ Turn the page and we fade to blue The scene has changed now I'm without you, well you just Walked away when the act was through And the dream was over ~

Grissom woke suddenly from his sleep for the fourth day in a row. Since Catherine had gone, he had relived their first kiss every time he managed to fall asleep. And each time it reminded him of what he'd lost, and the pain resurfaced.

Warrick had sent Nick and Sara to Catherine's house to make sure she was all right, however she had not been there when they arrived, and she didn't return all day. They spoke to her neighbour, one they knew sometimes looked after Lindsey before and after school, but she couldn't help them much. Catherine had told her she was going away for a few days, but she hadn't said where to or for exactly how long.

Grissom had called her cell phone thousands of times, but it was switched off. He didn't know what else to do. He wanted to call her parents, and her sister, he was even tempted to call Eddie to see if he knew where she was, but he didn't want to worry her family, and he thought Eddie was more likely to be a hindrance than a help.

So he had resigned himself to waiting. Hoping that she would come back. Praying that she would reconsider.

~ It was almost like a movie
The way you said goodbye
You must have spent a lot of time
Rehearsing each and every line ~

Her words replayed in his mind constantly.

"It's over, Gil" echoed through his thoughts.

A week had passed, but he still couldn't shake them. He couldn't accept that it was over. It seemed too sudden and too final.

Whenever he was alone, he cried.

He felt like he wanted to be alone constantly, but the team wouldn't allow it. They visited him everyday and made him speak. They knew they couldn't let him withdraw into himself completely. They would talk about bugs and the latest Discovery Channel documentaries, any subjects that they thought wouldn't remind him of Catherine. They didn't know that everything reminded him of Catherine. But, at least the time with them gave his body chance to regenerate ready for the next crying session as soon as they were gone.

~ Now there's not a dry eye in the house
After love's curtain comes down
Listen and you'll hear the sound
Hear the sound of a heart breaking - breaking

Not a smile left on my face
The ending's just too sad to take
And there's not a dry eye
Not a dry eye in the house.

The greatest story was you and me ~


Word of their "Miami Encounter", as it became known, spread quickly around the lab. Warrick was blamed, because he was the only one who had been told before their return, and by the time they stepped into the building on their first shift, Greg was poised ready to tease, question and insinuate.

"So, boss, you got lucky, eh?" he said, as unsubtly as possible, it seemed.

"I don't think that's any of your business, Greg," Grissom said to the young technician as he continued on his path to his office, not stopping to give these comments any attention.

"Yes he did," Catherine whispered into Greg's ear as he was watching Grissom walk away. "Very lucky!"

Greg turned to her, shocked by her admission. She just winked, smiled and followed Grissom into his office, leaving the young man stunned and now firmly believing what he had originally thought was just a rumour.

~ We had it all we had everything,
But now the
Story's done it's just history
The last act is over ~

The silence bounced loudly in his ears, speaking volumes about what had happened. Reminding him. Not allowing him to forget.

~ Your every line had the sweetest sound ~

"Rough night?" she asked, walking into his office and sitting herself down in her usual chair.

He adjusted his head so it was resting on his hands, not in them, and smiled. "It just got better."

He just had to see her and all his worries evaporated. He had had a rough night, tough case, still unsolved, and not much they could do about it. And then paperwork. Lots and lots of paperwork. But it all seemed okay once she entered the room, her voice, announcing her presence, soothed all his tension instantly.

~ Your every touch turned my world around ~

She leaned one elbow on the desk, resting her head in her hand, so that their faces were mere centimetres apart. Then with her other hand she slowly undid the top two buttons of his shirt, and lightly drew circles below his neck, playing with the little hairs that were now exposed.

Her touch was so gentle it sent shivers through his body. He had to remind himself where they were. Her next words did not make it easy for him to keep control.

"I wasn't asking if you'd had one," she grinned, "I was asking if you wanted one." He saw her eyes flash with delight as she revelled in the affect this had on him. His eyes grew very dark, and a look of lust swept his face. She moved her fingers beneath the material of his shirt and stroked them gently along his collar bone.

"Shift's over. Let's go," she smiled enticingly.

~ But then the light came up and my world crashed down... ~

"It's over, Gil"

He was trying to read, but he couldn't concentrate. The words in the book formed into the last words he heard her say. The story told was of him and Catherine.

He threw the book across the room, screaming "Why? Catherine, why?!" as it fell to the floor and he once again broke down.

The phone started to ring.

He froze. The team had been told not to call him. They were to page him if they needed him, in case Catherine tried to reach him.

The phone continued to ring.

He picked himself up off the floor, and walked towards it. He held his hand over the receiver, as if he could somehow tell who it was by doing that. It didn't work. So he slowly picked it up and raised it to his ear.

"Gil Grissom," he said, softly, because softly was all he could manage.

"Mr Grissom, I'm calling from the Loughlin Memorial Hospital."

~ End of show
It's over.... ~

****

Leaving Warrick in the elevator, to continue up to Lindsey on the paediatric ward, he ran up to the nurses station of the ward he had been asked to report to, all pain and discomfort in his ankle forgotten. His thoughts were only of Catherine. She was all that mattered.

"Can I help you, sir?" a young nurse had begun to ask upon seeing him approach, but he didnít let her finish.

"Catherine Willows. Where is she?"

The young lady studied his face and body language. She didnít feel threatened, despite his demanding tone. He was obviously greatly concerned for Ms Willows, but she still had to ask.

"Who are you, please?"

"Gil Grissom. Somebody called and asked for me. Why do that if youíre not going to let me in?!" he snapped, unable to control his many emotions. He was happy that he finally knew where Catherine was, but terrified because she was in hospital. His heart longed to see her, but at the same time fear tugged at it at the thought of what he might find.

"Mr Grissom," the nurse responded, calmly, "I am going to let you in. Iím sure you understand that I have to be careful though." She gave a small smile and was relieved that her words calmed Grissom enough that he didnít partake in any more outbursts. "Sheís right through here," she spoke, softly, leading him towards one of the rooms. "Mr Willows is with her at the moment, but sheís been asking for you, so Iíll allow you both to see her at once." She smiled to him one more time as she put her hand on the door handle.

Grissomís mind had begun to race through even more questions and feelings as he heard her say that Eddie was there. Why would Eddie be there? Had Catherine asked for him too? Had Eddie been with her when the accident happened? Had she been with Eddie all along? He could feel his hands shaking more and more violently as these thoughts made his stomach turn and he suddenly felt sick.

"Mr Grissom?" the nurse queried upon seeing the colour drain from his face. "Are you okay?"

"Er... Yeah.. Iím just... What exactly happened?" he stuttered the first cover he could.

"Iím not entirely sure. And she said that she wanted to tell you herself," the nurse replied.

"And sheís well enough to do that?" he asked, momentarily forgetting about Eddie as one of his other fears was comforted by her words.

The nurse nodded. "Do you want to see for yourself?"

Grissom slowly nodded.

"I should warn you though that she looks worse than she is."

Whilst still on this train of thought, Grissom passed the nurse and entered Catherineís room.

He felt his chest constrict when he saw her. She lay very still beneath the white sheet of the bed, looking so small and fragile against the pillows that supported her head and shoulders. Her skin was pale, where it could be seen between the deep purple bruises that covered most of her face.

His breathing had stopped at the shock of the sight before him, and now his lungs felt like they would explode. Realising that he had just been standing and staring, Grissom tried to think clearly, and gradually let out his contained breath as he looked down Catherineís arm and saw Eddie tenderly holding her hand between his trembling fingers. The other man had looked up when Grissom entered the room, and was now waiting for Grissom to do or say something.

"Erm... Eddie," he managed, shakily.

"Grissom," Eddie responded with a nod. "She fell asleep about twenty minutes ago, but she asked me to wake her when you arrived." There was none of the usual hostility and resentment in Eddieís voice. His voice also shook as he spoke, and he willingly stood to wake Catherine, as she had requested.

Grissomís mind still reeled for a reason for Eddieís presence, but he didnít want to get into that now. He focussed all his attention back on Catherine, who was beginning to stir as Eddie quietly whispered her name in her ear.

Her eyes fluttered open once then closed again as if her eyelids weighed too much to be held up. But a split second later, as if she had willed herself to summon the strength from all possible sources, they shot open, and she looked straight to Gil.

A sad smile began to form on her lips, and her eyes glistened with waiting tears. He was standing still, looking towards her, but she couldnít tell if he was looking at her. She couldnít meet his gaze with hers, he seemed to be avoiding it. She already knew what she would find, though. There was enough pain and sorrow visible in his features and his posture to know that she would see nothing in his eyes but hurt. How could she expect anything else after what she had done? She knew how she would have felt had the roles been reversed.

Her tears spilled over and burned her cheek as they fell.

Eddie wiped some of them away, with extreme care so as not to spark the pain of her bruises, then kissed her forehead. "Iíll leave you two alone."

Grissom was aware that Eddie walked past him and left the room, but he didnít acknowledge it. He suddenly became aware that he hadnít acknowledged anything since Catherine had opened her eyes. Most importantly, he realised he hadnít acknowledged her. He had fought his initial instinct to run to her, hold her and kiss all her pain away. The echo of her last words sounding in his head, reminding him that wasnít what she wanted. He remembered it all so clearly, and seeing her again made it all come to the forefront of his mind. The tone she used, the words she had repeated - over and over again, as though she knew of no others to use. That thought gave him pause. It was like a script. As if she had been given the words to say and could not deviate from them. Why hadnít he seen that sooner? Her repetition was a clue, and in all his crying and selfish heartache, he had ignored it.

Catherineís breathing had become panicked and her heart was racing as she observed Grissom. Her heart broke when she realised she had lost him. He couldnít even bring himself to look at her, much less love her again. Crying as much as her weak, battered body could, she closed her eyes. "Just go, Gil," she said, her voice breaking as she spoke.

"Catherine, this wasnít a car accident was it? Who did this?" he asked, concern filling his voice, as everything finally started to make sense.

"I... I canít do this... I canít bear to see you look at me like that," she cried, shrinking into her pillows, her legs tugging to be curled up against her.

She jumped when she felt a hand on hers.

"Iím sorry... I should have heard what you were saying... I was just so lost, Cath... I love you so much... Iím so sorry."

She opened her eyes and hesitantly looked to him. He had tears to match hers, but there was something else behind them. A look she had thought she would never see again. Love. He was telling the truth. She threw herself into his embrace, ignoring the shots of pain from her bruises and scars. She buried her head in the security of his chest as her crying intensified. Throughout the whole ordeal she had longed for this. She had needed him. But she couldnít tell him. And, as well as the fear that she would lose her daughter and her father, she knew she had hurt Gil too much for her to be able to go back to him when it was all over. At least, she thought she knew.

"They had Lindsey," she tried to explain, through her sobs, "And Eddie. Some people he owed money to. And they said that if I didnít co-operate they would... they - " The words caught in her throat, but Grissom knew what she meant. He wrapped his arms more tightly around her and gently stroked her hair. "I had to make sure you wouldnít follow me. They told me what to say, and they had me wired so theyíd know if I said or did anything else..." She pulled back and looked into his face. She looked terrified. "I wanted to tell you... But I couldnít risk it... I had to do what they said, or..." she trailed off as the next words didnít bear thinking about.

He pulled her back to his body and hushed her soothingly. He could feel the tension running throughout her body as she cried and cried, and he knew it was a release of all the adrenaline and fear from the last week.

The next time her sobbing subsided a little he tilted her head up so he could see if she actually had calmed down at all. The turmoil was still in her eyes.

"I donít know how I got to them, Gil... I donít remember what I did... What if - " she continued explaining.

"Hey!" he said, softly, stroking an uninjured area of her chin. "You donít need to worry anymore. Theyíre fine... It doesnít matter how you got to them, just that you did - and youíre all safe."

"But - " she began, tears welling again.

"No buts! Never look back." He smiled when he saw a smile creep across her face at his comment. It was his first sign that she could get through this.

She was back. It was over.

THE END