She stops short as she enters his office.
She knew something was going on: she could tell from his distracted behaviour throughout the shift; and from the fact that he paged her to ask if she would come to his office. Normally he would call, or seek her out in person. The page was what had alerted her to the potential seriousness of the situation. The empty shelves and packed boxes scattered around his office are merely the confirmation.
“Going somewhere?” she asks, eyebrow raised, and tone light, but panic beating at her heart.
He places an item into the box he is standing behind, and turns to face her fully, a sombre expression on his face.
“I’ve handed in my resignation,” he states – speaking as if it is no big deal, but looking as shaken up by it as she feels.
“What?… When? Why?” she sputters, unable to think clearly enough to form a coherent sentence.
“How and where?” he jokes, but the false smile on his lips is not enough to fool her into thinking this isn’t bothering him.
“Gil,” she chides, tilting her head and looking at him with quizzical disbelief.
He takes a few steps towards his desk, and perches on the edge of it, as he seems to ponder his next words.
She has her suspicions as to the reasons for his decision, and as much as it pains her to voice them, it breaks her heart to see him battling with how to tell her.
“Sara?” she asks softly, stepping closer to him, so her lowered voice can be heard.
He nods, then captures her eyes with his, and seems to be waiting for her to judge him. She has done that, of course, weeks ago when she first suspected there was something more between them than the working relationship they previously had. It had concerned her then, not least because of the implications for his job. She also wondered how the sudden change had come about; he’d always seemed so against getting involved with Sara; always appeared panicked by her subtle – and not so subtle – references to her feelings for him. She worried what could have caused this sudden turnabout that seemed so out of character, and she also batted away sneaky thoughts that tried to tell her she was only thinking all of this because she was jealous.
She will not let him see this though. No matter what choices he has made that she does not – for whatever reason – agree with, she is still his friend, and her reaction will be the one he needs from her. Support.
She smiles – as warmly as she can. “I had my suspicions,” she says, sitting on the desk beside him. “I’m happy for you.”
He turns to face her, eyes crinkled in thought. “Are you?”
She takes a breath. “If you are.”
He is silent now and this makes it clear that he isn’t.
“I wasn’t,” he states. “I resigned because of my relationship with Sara. A supervisor shouldn’t get involved with his staff.”
“I’m sure you could have --”
“But once I’d done it, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I never realised I’d grown tired of all this until I gave it up and it felt right.”
She lets out a soft laugh. “I never thought I’d see the day Gil Grissom gives up his career for a woman. If I’d known it would be today, I’d have dressed up.”
He laughs, but the sound is as hollow as hers was. “You’re dressed just fine for this occasion.”
She nods slowly, looking down at her feet for a moment as the full implications of what ‘this occasion’ is hit her full on. “But there’s no cake,” she says after a brief silence, “I always thought there’d be cake when you were leaving.”
“For before or after I’m gone?” he asks, teasing her.
She looks up to meet his eyes now. “Both,” she smiles, but it is tinged with sadness, as is the air around them as they talk. “Will you keep in touch?”
He nods, and she knows he means it.
“And I suppose I can always ask Sara how you’re doing,” she adds, forcing a smile again.
“You could ask her,” he responds, “But she wouldn’t know.”
While her heart skips with a hope she immediately fights to suppress, her brow furrows in confusion. “But…” she trails off, unable to actually formulate a response.
“It was never right… I was looking to fill the void that I was feeling. Work no longer felt like enough; and that had never happened to me before. I started to think that maybe I was lonely – and Sara was there, and always had been, so I started to consider whether this ‘thing’ she occasionally brought up was actually founded…”
“So you started to flirt back,” she states.
His look could be construed as ashamed. “And one thing led to another…” He falls silent and she can’t think of anything to say that would make him feel better. After a while he speaks again, “It was only when I resigned that I realised work was no longer enough because I was no longer happy in what I was doing. It was work causing the feelings of emptiness, not my lack of personal stuff.”
She smirks at these last two words. “Are you ever gonna forget I said that?” she asks him.
He looks at her and smiles, and for the first time she sees it in the corner of his eyes as well as on his lips.
“Well, I guess I’m not as mad at you as I thought I was,” she says after a short silence.
He frowns. “You were mad?”
“All the grief you’ve given me about the choices I’ve made, about aspects of my personal stuff – Eddie, Sam, Adam… Quick to judge, and then you jump into bed with Sara! Of all people! Sara – whose constant cravings for attention you’ve seemed to be avoiding for the last six years – ”
“I get the picture,” he says, standing up, and she realises that perhaps she is still mad.
“Sorry,” she says, dropping her gaze to her feet again. “I didn’t mean to… lecture you.”
“I deserve it… You’re right. About all of it. But I know now that Sara wasn’t the right choice. I’m sorry that she had to get hurt – ”
“At least she can get over you now,” she snipes.
He looks at her shocked, and she just shrugs.
“It’s true,” she says. “It would never have worked between the two of you, but this is the only way she was gonna accept that.”
“I still don’t like that it happened.”
“Too late to do anything about it now… Harsh, but true. You need to move on… Which brings me to another question. What are you going to do now?”
“I’m going to visit my Mom for a while, then I’ll contact the university about lecturing.”
“A Vegas university?” she asks, scared that she might not like the answer but knowing that it’s better to be scared of something she knows for certain rather than fearing something that is pure conjecture.
He nods. “That was my intention.”
A wide smile spreads across her lips. “Glad to hear it.”
As they simply look at each other for a while she feels the sadness of the packed boxes creep back in and she marvels at how easily the mind can choose to forget things that it doesn’t want to know.
She stands up and peers into one of the boxes, seeing books and various things that used to live on his shelves. It’s really not going to be the same without them. Without him.
She rests her hand on the edge of the box and looks at him. “Is this really happening?” she asks. “Or is there a chance I’ll wake up and find that it was all a nightmare?”
He smiles sadly. “It’s really happening.”
She sighs and moves towards him. “See, this is proof of how personal stuff messes things up.”
“Wasn’t I the one trying to prove that to you?” he says with a small smile.
She laughs a little at this, stopping in front of him, and looking up at him. “Seems like so long ago now,” she says, wistfully.
“Because it is,” he replies.
She laughs again and then opens her arms out to him, fighting back the tears that are in her eyes. He doesn’t even hesitate, just steps forward and their arms wrap around each other.
As the hug progresses their embrace tightens. She is clinging to him, as it sinks in further that this is the last time they will talk in his office, and feeling his grip on her getting stronger only makes her squeeze him more.
The tears slip out of her eyes as his head nuzzles into her hair, and she feels a rising wave of anger. She hates letting people see her cry. Eddie always told her tears were a sign of weakness. She finds, though, that her anger is not directed at herself, for choosing to cry, but at Gil – and it all comes back to the fact that he got involved with Sara.
Still in his secure embrace, she manages to raise her hand and she gently punches him in the arm. “Actually I am angry at you!” she declares, though the scariness of it is somewhat lost in its muffled, tear-filled sound.
She is surprised to hear that his voice sounds just as emotionally affected as hers, and that there seems to be moisture on his cheek when he puts his mouth next to her ear, and whispers, “So am I.”
This is all it takes to subdue her anger and she is hit once again by the fact that everything is changing and pulls his body even closer to hers. He returns the hug, force for force, and many more minutes are passed just standing in each other’s arms.
Eventually Catherine pulls back, leaving her arms around him and looks into his reddened eyes. She opens her mouth to speak, but all that is released is a sigh as she realises she doesn’t know what she wants to say.
He smiles and she understands it is an acknowledgement that he doesn’t know what to say either. So they just stand in silence, looking into each other’s tear stained eyes and hoping that the way they are clinging to their past now is a sign that their futures will be entwined.