She raises bloodied hands to her face and bloodied fingers leave red streaks across her cheeks as she wipes at falling tears. A sob shakes through her body, allowed now that she doesn't have to remain calm. It is followed by another and another, and it is when her hand covers her mouth and she tastes blood on her lips that she realises what coats her hands. They shake as she holds them in front of her and the next sob is accompanied by an audible cry as she studies the dark liquid, and relives why it is there.
They're trying to hold her back, but she's pulling away as her eyes dart back to him, just visible past the paramedics who took her place, and her sob is heard again as she drops back to her knees as close as she can be without being in the way. She curls forward, the strength to stay upright draining from her with every second that he remains motionless on the floor.
Someone has bandaged the wound while others still work on his breathing. She hates the logical side of her brain, the part that's telling her he's lost a lot of blood; that she should prepare herself for reality; that her hopes, prayers and wishes are pointless. She pushes on past those thoughts. He'll survive. He has to. She will not let things end like this.
She reaches out and her fingertips graze his shoulder as the paramedic listens for breath again.
"Please?" she whispers. "Please?"
He's falling before the sound of the gunshot even reaches her ears.
Instantly their three police officers have their weapons drawn; and she fights past whoever threw her to the ground to be at his side.
Blood is pouring from his leg, and his body's shaking with the pain. Her first thought is pressure. Apply pressure. Ripping the sleeve off her top she folds it and presses against the hole left by the bullet, praying it didn't leave a similar one on the other side, that she can't get to.
His pain-filled eyes are watching her, and she forces a smile to her tear stained face, trying to assure him it'll all be okay.
A vehicle stops beside them, and the officer who moved it to cover them informs her that an ambulance is on the way, and offers to take over from her. She sends him away with an "I'm fine," knowing that he needs to join the other two officers in the search for the shooter.
Blood is still seeping past her hands and mingling with the pool already on the floor, and she presses even harder.
Another shot rings out and there's a rustle of activity across the street, then more police arrive, with a rumble of footfalls and a clatter of weaponry, and she assumes that a distant siren is the ambulance.
"Cath…" His voice is weak, and forced through his shaky breathing, and it draws all her attention back to him.
"The ambulance is on its way," she tells him, the smile back again, masking her fear.
"Go…" he says, barely audible.
She frowns, convinced she must have misheard. Until he repeats it.
She shakes her head vehemently. "I'm not going anywhere."
"Get out… of the open," he rasps.
"I'm perfectly safe here, Gil " she says, refocusing her gaze on his wound.
"I'm not leaving you!" she snaps, her head flying round to face him once more.
He looks shocked by her raised voice, and ceases his side of the argument.
Glancing through a gap in the wall of police that surrounds her, she sees a struggle taking place and handcuffs are slapped onto a young man's wrists.
"Besides," she says to him, more softly again, "It looks like they've caught the shooter."
When there is no response, she looks back down to him. "Gil?"
His breathing is shallow and few and far between.
"Gil!" she yells at him, determined that he will hear her.
The siren is growing louder.
She watches his chest closely trying to confirm that there is still a definite rise and fall. But she can't tell, so she screams for help.
And there is a flurry of officers around her, and people are peeling her hands off him, and replacing them with their own. And she's being moved away from him, as someone listens closely; waits to feel breath against his cheek, or to see movement in his chest.
As they move her away, the siren ceases and in the corner of her eye she can see the movement of the paramedics. But all that really registers is that he's too still, and the pool of red beneath him is too large.
"Please?" she whispers hoarsely as they move her away. "Please?"
She has been alternating between pacing the waiting area and sitting, staring into space; lost in flashbacks; remembering the nightmare.
She is currently seated, and the people around her are wondering if she has calmed down, if perhaps she will rest a while as they've been asking her to do. In the brief moments between flashes of memory, she hears them whispering. Then she hears gunfire; sees red; sees Gil not moving.
And she stands. And the pacing recommences.
She's lost track of how long it's been since they took him out of her sight. It feels like days, but it could be hours. In truth it doesn't matter, just as long as they are back soon to tell her that he's okay.
And, as if, finally, she has managed to will it into being, the doors through which he disappeared open and a doctor looks around the room.
When he starts to walk towards her, she closes her eyes and drops her head back slightly, raising her face towards the sky.
"Please?" she whispers, before slowly taking a deep breath. "Please?"
She holds his hand, gently stroking his skin with her fingertips. They told her to talk to him, to let him hear her voice, but she can't seem to think of anything to say.
She actually feels her heart break a little more when she remembers that she didn't have that problem a few days ago. And now the apology that, ever since, he has been preventing her from voicing simply drawing her deeper into the argument each time she tried is the only thing in her head worth saying. But it doesn't seem right to apologise while he is unconscious and might not hear it. It seems cowardly. But, in her defence, she has tried numerous times, but only ended up with more to apologise for.
She tightens her hold on his hand a symbol of sincerity and sits up slightly more straight in her chair so that she can look more directly at his face.
And the memories of the last few hours, days, whatever, come flooding back, and tears stream down her cheeks. Her left hand joins her right in holding his, and the words "I'm sorry" come out on a sob. "I'm so sorry" closely follows them, and she gasps for breath as she lowers her lips to his hand. "Damn it! Wake up so I can tell you I'm sorry!" she says, the tender kiss she places on his skin in contrast to the impatience of her tone.
She braves the onslaught of images to look back at his face.
"Please?" she whispers, lips quivering, voice scared again. "Please?"
She slams the door behind her. He doesn't flinch nor turn round obviously he expected her.
"What the hell was that?!" she demands, slamming her hands onto his desk because she feels her words need accentuation.
His head lowers a little, but apart from that there are no signs of remorse from him. His tone is certainly not repentant as he says: "I think I made myself perfectly clear."
Eyes wide and burning with rage now, her knuckles turn white as she grips the edge of the desk. "Oh, I understood your words, Gil," she growls through gritted teeth. "What I want to know is why you suddenly decided to speak them!"
"They needed to be said," he replies, turning round to face her now.
"In front of everyone else? And at such volume that the entire lab probably heard you?" she asks, incredulous.
"You started it," he states, his apparent calmness serving to enrage her further.
"I asked a question "
"You undermined my authority!" he snaps, interrupting her. "In front of everyone else!"
"So you make out that I was demoted because I couldn't hack it as a supervisor?!… So you practically tell everyone that I wasn't good enough; that I should have never aspired to that in the first place; that I was crazy to even think I could ever be as wonderful as you are?!"
"I pointed out that I am in charge "
"Meaning that I'm not."
"Yes. Because that was the point I was making… That I am in charge. That I make the decisions! That you don't question that! You chose to come back to graveyard, Catherine, deal with the fact that you're not the boss anymore!"
"Oh, I never had a problem with that. I know that I chose to come back! I know that I chose the demotion! I know that I could have carried on in that role if I wanted to! My problem is with the fact that you're treating me differently since I came back "
"Things aren't like they were before, Gil… You and I were a team. You never pulled rank… And you never criticised me in front of the others. I thought you were more mature than that."
"You're questioning my maturity?… This from the woman who sulked because Warrick got married without telling her; who wouldn't go to a celebration of her friend's wedding because she was upset that she hadn't been informed!! Not everything revolves around you, Catherine! He didn't need to ask your permission!"
Her hand meets his cheek before either of them see it coming. "What the hell do you know?!"
He doesn't even touch his cheek, he merely glares at her. "Oh, so there was more to it than that?… Something going on between you and Warrick that perhaps his wife and I should know about?"
"Frankly, if there was anything she needed to know, I don't see why you would need to know as well!… You may be our boss, Gil, but that does not give you access to every detail of our private lives!"
"I thought I " he stops suddenly, and appears shocked with himself.
"You thought what?" she demands.
"Nothing!" he responds shortly.
"No, go ahead, do share your thoughts! And shall we open the door so everyone else can hear these ones too?!"
She moves towards the door, but he whips his arm past her and slams his hand against it, holding it shut.
"I thought I meant more to you than that," he states, looking her directly in the eyes, unnerving her with the sincerity she sees.
She swallows hard and quickly tries to regain control of her own thoughts so she can formulate a clever response. They are, after all, in the midst of an argument, and she does not intend to back down.
"You did, Gil… You were my boss, but you were my friend, and there was a time I thought we could be more than that… But I began to doubt that when your mean streak surfaced!"
"Mean streak?" he asks, eyes narrow.
"Yeah! The glares, the disapproving looks, the `holier than thou' judgemental glances "
"Whenever I even considered going out with another man! And then that whole Adam thing! You didn't speak to me for weeks, and even then it was different. You were distant!… And all the while you were flirting with Sofia… And, Sara Well, you've been stringing her along for years…"
Silence falls over them as she realises she has crossed the line. That comment went too far, and it is clear he isn't going to justify it with a response.
"Could you leave, please?" he asks, voice quiet, restrained anger still audible though.
"Gil " she tries.
"Please!" Some anger got through with that one, so more softly he adds: "Please?"
His hand gently wipes the tears from her cheeks. "Catherine, please stop crying," he smiles kindly.
She shakes her head and a new set of tears is released from her eyes. "I can't… I thought … and I - "
He sits forward as much as he can and wraps his arms around her shaking form. "Cath, I'm fine… Everything is fine."
She pulls back from him so he can see her face as she says what she needs to. "No it isn't Gil. I said some things I shouldn't have said, and I really didn't mean them and "
"So you're not sorry?" he interrupts.
She frowns, a sickening tension in her stomach as she thinks he's about to start another argument. "Gil, I am sorry, I didn't "
He smiles reassuringly. "I heard you, Catherine, when you apologised. And I'm the one who should be doing the apologising. You were just responding to what I said. I know you didn't mean it "
"Then why did you keep it going? Why wouldn't you let it go?"
"Because I'm stubborn," he says, caressing her face again.
"And stupid," she offers, with a small smile.
"And stupid," he admits. "And I'm not the only one."
She raises an eyebrow, knowing what's coming next, and pre-empting him. "There was no way I was leaving you. And there's nothing else to say on that matter." He opens his mouth to protest but she won't let him. "Nothing else to say, Gil."
"Thank you?" he tries.
She shakes her head. "There's no need."
"But I'd like to."
She smirks, mischief sparkling in her tear-moistened eyes. "What did you have in mind?"
"Well," he begins, as he gently pulls her face closer to his, "Would it be okay if I kissed you?"
She pretends to think it over, but her smile all the while gives away her actual response. "If you ask nicely."
He smirks. "Please?"
And he doesn't need to say it again.