It was with apprehension that Catherine approached the Crime Lab at the start of next shift. Certain that her anxiety was partly down to the fact that she hadn't heard from Grissom since she had left him to sleep early that morning, she was unsure as to whether she was more nervous that he would remember that they had agreed to talk, or that he wouldn't. Either way, she wanted to get their first encounter out of the way before the briefing, so she was early knowing that Grissom was always at work at least an hour before he needed to be.
Signing in at the reception desk, her eyes flitted upwards to scan the names above hers, and, sure enough, Grissom had arrived fifteen minutes ago. She smiled at the thought of seeing him, despite her uncertainty about wanting to.
Lost in a mental rehearsal of how their conversation might go, Catherine was startled when Greg jumped out of the DNA lab to stand in front of her.
"Evening, Catwoman," he grinned, his usual mischievous twinkle in his wide eyes.
"Evening, Greg," she replied with a smile but a small roll of her eyes.
"That's Obi-Wan to you," Greg smirked.
When Catherine only offered him a shake of her head in response, Greg continued.
"I've just seen Clark Kent. He's not looking very `super' this evening," he said falling into step alongside Catherine as she resumed her route to Grissom's office.
"I'm not surprised, Greg, what did you have him drinking last night?"
"Oh, this, that and a couple of glasses of the other… He did well, though, matched me drink for drink "
Catherine stopped walking, so Greg stopped too.
"And thensome," she said, her own smirk quirking her lips.
Greg frowned, but the embarrassed look in his eyes showed that he knew exactly what she was talking about.
Her smile grew slowly. "Didn't he beat you, Greg?"
Greg glanced quickly around the corridor to make sure nobody had heard her, then he waved his hand in front of her and said: "You don't remember that." And with that he disappeared back to DNA muttering something about a hair analysis for Ecklie.
With a slight chuckle of amusement, Catherine returned to her walk, and within minutes had reached Grissom's office.
The door was closed, and the lights were dimmed, so she gently tapped on the door twice not wanting to knock too loudly, knowing what state his head could be in.
A mumbled, `Who is it?' came from inside, so she replied and was granted entrance.
"Hey," she said, smiling sympathetically. "How are you feeling?"
Grissom was sitting behind his desk, cradling a glass of water. "I'm okay… As long as I sit in the dark," he said with a small laugh.
Catherine sat down opposite him as she said: "Lucky you work the graveyard shift then."
Grissom nodded and leaned forward, then after a moment's silence he asked: "What on Earth happened last night?"
Catherine cleared the sudden lump in her throat. "You don't remember?" she asked, inwardly sighing with a conflict of relief and disappointment if she was honest with herself, mainly disappointment.
His eyes took hold of hers with a look that startled some hope back into her. "Some things I remember vividly… But most of the evening is a blur," he admitted.
"I'm not surprised," Catherine grinned cheekily. "You had quite a … lot to drink."
Grissom shot her a glance that spoke `obviously'. "I can tell that," he said, cringing as the movement of sitting back in his chair sent him queasy. "Apart from the headache and nausea, the lack of memories of several hours of my life is evidence enough."
Catherine softened the cheekiness of her smile and injected a little more sympathy. "Would you like me to jog your memory?… How much do you remember?"
From the level of sound coming from inside the ballroom as Grissom approached its doors, he was one of the last to arrive at the party if not the last. It had not been his intention to be late, but a phone call from his mother had delayed his preparations, and then getting into his outfit had proved more difficult than he had expected.
Somehow the material of the tights kept getting tangled up when he tried to put his feet through them, and several times he had found himself flat on his back, bright blue suit gathered around his feet. Previously determined not to let a fancy dress outfit get the better of him, he had actually declared his latest attempt to be the last one he would make before giving up, when, by some miracle a very cruel miracle, he thought he managed to get the thing past his knees and pull it over the rest of his body.
So, finally dressed in the outfit Catherine had selected for him (one of the reasons why he daren't give up sooner and wear something else), he had set out for the ball, an hour later than he should have. But, seeing as Catherine had started calling him as soon as he was a minute late, his apologies had been passed on to the host.
He swung open one half of the heavy double doors and stepped into the room. Tables adorned with ivory cloths and small flower arrangements filled two thirds of the room, the other space consisting of a dance floor and stage area. The bar, he noted, was in a separate room adjoining this one.
He scanned the crowds of people some standing, some sitting looking for his group. They had all agreed to come dressed as superheroes, so that would make it easier for him to find them.
After a few seconds he spotted what looked like the back of Catherine's head, and the band, holding cat ears, that was on top of it, confirmed for him that it was her. He made his way through the crowd, stopping when he reached the table where she was standing.
Greg spotted him first. "Grissom! Nice of you to join us!" he exclaimed.
Catherine turned round and smiled, her eyes scanning his outfit…
"Ah!" Catherine interrupted him.
His aching brow furrowed. "What?"
"You're not remembering accurately," she stated.
"What do you mean?" The confusion wasn't easing his headache.
"I did not scan your outfit!" she protested, with a smile that told him that was a lie.
Narrowing his eyes at her as she giggled to herself, he asked: "Aren't you supposed to be helping me?"
"Sorry," she said, settling down.
"So, you were Catwoman, Sara was…" he stopped, his frown intensifying.
"Batgirl," Catherine explained for him.
"Right… And Nick was Batman," he said with a smile, which Catherine shared. It had been rather cute to see Nick and Sara turn up in matching costumes.
"But that was just a coincidence," she reminded him, sarcasm sneaking into her tone, and smirk.
"Oh, of course," Grissom nodded, about as sincere as she was. "Warrick was Spiderman, and Greg insisted that Obi-Wan Kenobi, from `Star Wars' was a superhero."
"He is!" Greg repeated.
This discussion had been in full swing for over fifteen minutes. Greg was the only person at the table who wasn't laughing, and Grissom was the only one who was managing to hide said laughter, as it was he who Greg's argument was aimed at the others had already had this conversation before Grissom arrived.
"He has superhuman powers, and he uses them against evil!"
"The power of the force," Nick chimed in, still chuckling.
"Exactly!" Greg exclaimed, then he seemed to become aware of the laughter. "Why are you laughing?" he asked Nick.
"Oh… er…" the Texan stuttered. "… Warrick just told a joke."
"Oh," Greg said, then he turned back to Grissom. "So, you see?… He IS a superhero."
"Because he has superhuman powers and uses them against evil?" Grissom clarified. "That's your entire argument?"
Greg nodded. "That's all I need… Well, that and this…" He waved his hand in front of Grissom. "You do believe me."
The volume of the group's laughter increased, and several of them had to wipe tears from their cheeks.
Greg's head shot round to them. "Warrick, what are these jokes you're telling?"
The only response he received was more hysterical laughter.
Suddenly it seemed to click. "You're not telling any jokes, are you? … You all still don't believe that he's a superhero?"
"Apparently your mind trick didn't work," Sara said.
"He has superhuman powers, he uses "
"We know, Greg," Catherine cut off his repetition of his argument. "But, Obi-Wan Kenobi is not exactly your stereotypical superhero, is he?"
"For a start," Warrick joined in, "He doesn't wear spandex."
At this the muted laughter burst into full force again.
"Luckily for me," Greg smirked. "Have you all seen yourselves in those outfits?" And with that Greg joined them in the laughing.
"That's it?" Catherine asked. "That's all you remember?"
"I remember other snippets of the evening… I know it was a charity event, I know there were speeches about how much money had been made so far, and what the money was to be used for… And I know that you looked incredibly s- … gorgeous in your Catwoman outfit."
Catherine's eyes widened as she was completely caught off guard by his last utterance. "Er… Thank you." Feeling that she wasn't ready to have their conversation yet, she tried to change the subject back. "So, you don't remember anything else?"
"Only little glimpses… Did we dance?" he frowned.
She smiled. "No… I asked a couple of times, but, even when you were drunk, you declined."
Grissom thought deeply, trying to recall that. Dancing with Catherine was something he had always wanted to do; he couldn't understand why he would have turned her down.
"Gil?" Catherine asked, concerned by his silence. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah… I'm just trying to remember why " He stopped speaking when he found the applicable memory. Recollecting the tightness of his costume, that seemed to explain why he might not want to get so close to Catherine. "Never mind… It's come back to me."
Catherine smiled. "Your hangover could be lifting."
"Let's hope so… I don't like the air of mystery that surrounds last night in my mind."
Catherine gave a small laugh. "Some things are a mystery to me too, and I was on orange juice all night."
"Really… Like what?"
"Like why you Gil Grissom, normally so withdrawn and reserved agreed to a drinking competition with Greg," she grinned.
"Oh, that…" Grissom said, shaking his head slowly. "I'm not sure… I remember he asked me, and I said `no'. Then he waved his hand in front of me, and muttered something like `You do want to join in', and the next thing I remember, I was being praised for beating him."
It was Catherine's turn to frown. "You're saying he used a Jedi mind trick to make you join in?"
"If that's what that waving hand is all about, then…"
Catherine was being to feel a sense of déjà vu. "But that's impossible."
"I seem to recall that was your stance on X-ray vision," he smirked.
Against her wishes, she blushed slightly, but was determined to remain strong. "Not `was', Gil, `is'."
"Even after what was discussed this morning?" he teased, his face trying to look more serious, but his smile remaining in his eyes.
She couldn't believe he was doing this. For all she had hoped that he would remember she had expected him either not to, or to not raise the subject. As he had pointed out last night, when sober, they didn't discuss these things.
Maybe he wasn't sober? Did being hung over count as sober enough?
Her eyes were fixed on him as she thought this over, and she snapped back to reality when she sensed that his eyes had locked onto hers.
"You promised we would have this conversation," he said, a determination in his eyes that she normally only saw directed at his work.
"Yes I did," she responded, all of the nerves she had managed to bury earlier coming back to haunt her. "When you're sober "
"Which I am," he interrupted her.
Laughing out of nervousness not amusement she broke their eye contact, the intensity of his stare becoming too much for her, and said: "You don't remember half of what happened last night "
"I remember every minute that we were alone," he stated.
Her heart skipped a beat at the sincerity in his tone. "Every minute?" she asked, injecting disbelief into her own tone, to stop the shakiness she felt from being revealed to him.
"Every single minute… From the moment we stepped out of the ballroom."
"Why do we have to leave?" Grissom whined, sounding like a small child dragged away from a room full of new toys.
"Because I'm tired," Catherine explained, pulling at the arm that she had linked to try to get him to speed up. "And I'm your chauffeur this evening."
He stopped walking and turned to face her, their linked arms drawing her towards him, so her body actually hit his, and they were standing face to face. "If you're my chauffeur, then we leave when I say so," he proclaimed.
Catherine didn't respond, thrown by their proximity, and he could practically feel her heart beating heavily through the thin materials of their costumes.
Their eyes had met, and their breathing had deepened. The sound from the ballroom blurred into insignificance, as Grissom became lost in the woman in front of him.
He lifted his hand and gently stroked the side of her face. "You're very beautiful," he said.
Catherine closed her eyes and ducked her head away from his touch. "And you're drunk."
"That doesn't make it any less true," he said softly.
His words had the desired effect, and she looked back up at him. "Well, then, thank you…" she smiled, and then abruptly changed the subject. "Now, if you really want to stay we can, but I've got to warn you, in a little while I'm going to be asleep… And then we ain't going nowhere!"
Grissom laughed a little and stepped out of her personal space. "Okay. We can go… I don't want to have to wake you once you fall asleep…" he gave in, adding in a quieter, more mumbled voice: "I bet you're not a morning person."
Catherine narrowed her tired eyes at him. "I'm not an afternoon person," she corrected him, with a cheeky smile. "It's been so long since I slept at night and woke in the morning I don't remember if I'm a morning person."
They walked out of the hotel in silence. Catherine yawned occasionally, and Grissom was glad that, despite his blood alcohol level, he had thought clearly enough to not force her to stay any longer.
Her car arrived, they climbed inside and she started the journey to Grissom's townhouse, flicking on the radio for some background noise.
Catherine sang along to ABBA's `Waterloo' as she guided the car from road to road, and Grissom couldn't help but watch her. Of course, he did it discreetly; observing her from the corner of his eye.
His surreptitious surveillance continued through LeAnn Rimes' `Life Goes On', and into REO Speedwagon's `Can't Fight This Feeling', but as Catherine sang: "I only wish I had the strength to let it show", his eyes widened at what he saw, and his face turned to look at her.
"What?" Catherine asked, concerned at the shocked look he was giving her.
He looked away and shook his head, then he looked back and seemed to relax a little.
"Gil?" she asked, stealing quick glances at him when the road allowed her to.
"I'm 'kay," he muttered, smiling reassuringly. "I just thought I saw " He stopped and shook his head again, deciding against telling her. "Doesn't matter."
"What?" she asked, intrigued.
He shook his head. "Doesn't matter."
"Gil!" she said, warningly.
"Catherine!" he retorted, mimicking her tone.
Since it seemed the alcohol was back in control of Grissom, Catherine gave up there and then, and resumed her singing.
During the ride home Grissom twice looked at her, and concentrated intensely, then smiled proudly.
She didn't even bother to ask what he was doing.
"What were you doing?" she asked, reminded of her curiosity.
Grissom shook his head dismissively. "Nothing."
"It didn't look like nothing… You looked like you do when you're conducting an experiment to prove one of your theories," she countered.
This made Grissom smile, and Catherine frowned as the corners of his mouth twitched upwards.
"What's so funny?"
His head shook again. "Just a joke Warrick was telling."
Catherine glared at him. Hard.
"Okay," he cracked. "I was conducting an experiment… And it did prove my theory."
"What theory?" She was beginning to think that he was still drunk.
"There's no point me telling you… You didn't believe me last night, why would you believe me now?"
Catherine's brow furrowed more deeply, then she suddenly realised what he was talking about, and her eyes grew wide.
"You don't mean - … Oh, we're not having this conversation again!" she insisted.
Grissom leaned forward, resting his arms on the desk. "Good… Because we're supposed to be having another conversation… Why are you avoiding it, Catherine?"
His look told her he didn't believe that.
Reminding herself that she had made a promise, she took a deep breath for courage and then admitted: "It's a big step."
Grissom smiled understandingly. "Yes it is."
"But, I guess, we took part of it last night," she mused out loud, referring to the fact that she had told him she wouldn't reject him.
"I do seem to remember it that way," he said, adding a small laugh, trying to make the atmosphere as relaxed for her as possible.
She responded with her own laugh, and smirked: "That could be wishful thinking on your part."
"True," Grissom nodded. "So, while I'm still in that frame of mind… Would you like to have dinner with me on Wednesday?"
A smile swept across Catherine's lips as she felt her fears lift just by looking at the gentle, sincere expression on his face. She had loved him for years, and now he was telling her that he felt the same. What on Earth had she been afraid of?
"Well, it just so happens that Wednesday is my night off," she grinned. "So, yes, I would love to have dinner with you."
Her happiness was contagious, and soon they were just sitting in silence, grinning from ear to ear.
If Sara hadn't called in on her way to the briefing, they probably would have sat there all night.
"Hello?" Sara said, peeping her head round the door, when there was no response to her knock. "Oh, hey," she smiled, when she saw them sitting inside.
They snapped out of their trance and faced their visitor.
"Hi, Sara," Catherine said, still smiling. "You recovered from last night?"
"Just about," the younger woman laughed. "I was coming to see how you're doing, Grissom."
He glanced at Catherine, and then said, "I'm fine."
Sara frowned, indicating she had picked up on an unusual atmosphere in the office. "Okay… Good… Well, I'll see you both at the briefing." They could have sworn they saw her smirking before she left the office.
Catherine stood up. "Yes. The briefing. We should get going," she said to Grissom.
"In a minute," he said, moving round to her side of the desk. "Before we go," he continued, stopping in front of her. "I would like to kiss you… If I may?"
Catherine's smile remained, but she tried to feign a frown. "Why?"
He stepped closer to her, safe in the knowledge that this invasion of her personal space was welcome. "Well, it's either because I have wanted to kiss you for… far too long… Or, because Greg popped in earlier, waved his hand around and said: `You will kiss Catherine tonight.'"
Catherine raised an eyebrow. "We'll go with the first one," she declared.
"Aw," Grissom pouted. "Why?"
She stepped up to him, placing her lips so close to his that they touched as she whispered: "Because, if you try to convince me that Greg actually has Jedi powers, then I will conclude that you are still drunk… And if you're drunk then I won't do this…"
She moved her head the necessary distance, softly caressing his lips with hers, only briefly, before pulling her head back again.
"So, what's it gonna be? Would you like to discuss Jedi mind tricks, or X-ray vision?… Or would you rather we weren't talking at all?"
He didn't bother verbally answering the question. Actions speak louder than words.