She sits upright, sweat coating her body; tears streaming down her face; heart beating rapidly. She lifts her shaking hands and brushes her matted hair away from her cheeks, at the same time wiping her tears. Then she rests her head in her hands and tries to calm her breathing.***
He calls her name three times before her head snaps up and she responds with a quick `huh?'. He asks if she's okay, and she nods, but the lack of words and the tired glaze over her eyes tell him that it's a lie.
He dismisses the team to work, and she stands to leave with them. He frowns, concerned, at this as he knows she doesn't know what her assignment is. He gently touches her arm as she walks past him, and she flinches.
She can feel his eyes on her. She can't see him but she knows he's wearing his expression of concern. Hesitantly she turns her head towards him. Her body remains still. She glances at him from the corner of her eye.
He sits on the corner of the table prepared to wait until she's ready to talk. He knows he'll wait forever if that's how long she needs.
Minutes later she turns her head a little further, and he smiles sweetly. She laughs slightly. He looks so cute when he smiles like that, and he knows that's all it takes to get her to open up.
"It's nothing," she shakes her head, now turning her body to face him.
"It didn't look like it," he responds.
She lowers her head.
She lifts her head, flicking her hair over her shoulder as she does so. "I've been having nightmares lately, that's all. They're just shaking me up a bit."
"Are they about Peter Jacob?"
She lowers her eyes again. "Yeah."
"I thought they'd stopped."
"So did I... I'm fine though. I'm just tired. They keep waking me up," she laughs as she says this, but he knows it's not because it's funny.
"I need to stop reliving it," she says quietly, as tears blur her vision.
He steps towards her and wraps his arms around her. "It'll stop eventually."
"I'm fed up of the fear and the pain, and the feeling that it's the end and I'm never going to see anyone again. That I'll never see Lindsey again... That I'll never see you again."
She pulls back from him so she can look at him as she continues. "As his hand tightened, that was all I could think about. Lindsey, and you. There's so much I've never said, Gil. I've been trying to figure out a way to say it ever since but - "
"Don't worry about it," he smiles. "We're all guilty of not talking about how we feel... You're safe, Cath. That's all that matters."
"But what if something else happens?... I've been reliving a feeling of regret for weeks, and I still haven't done anything about it."
"You need to concentrate on moving on rather than worrying about this. People know how much you care about them. Lindsey knows that you love her; the team know you love them - "
"And you?" she asks, capturing his eyes and refusing to let them go.
"I know you love me."
"Like I love the team?"
"I used to think so."
"Now, I know you love me... like I love you."*****
His grip around her throat tightens; gasping for every breath she desperately pulls against her restraints, but they're too tight; she's powerless against him. She tries to scream but no sound comes through. Each breath becomes more difficult, and she vaguely becomes aware that her limbs are no longer putting up a fight. As she struggles to breathe her eyes slip closed. She has enough energy for one more breath. And as he presses even harder the pain causes her to take it.
The door bursts open and through the shouting and gunfire she hears a familiar voice call her name. The hand falls from around her neck and she gasps for air. Tears flood her face as relief sweeps through her body. She was sure it was the end.
Her hands are released and she collapses forwards into the arms of the man standing in front of her. He drops to the floor with her and holds her as she cries against his chest, still gasping for breath, and clinging to him with all her might.
"Gil..." she breathes faintly.
"I'm here," he says reassuringly, stroking her hair as he rests his lips on the top of her head.*****
She sits upright, sweat coating her body; tears streaming down her face; heart beating rapidly. As she lifts her shaking hands to brush the matted hair away from her cheeks, his hand does it for her, as his voice softly says:
"It's okay... I'm here."
Her heartbeat calms as she hears his voice, and she snuggles into his embrace. And she closes her eyes again - for the first time without fear of what she might see.