Catherine had just left the lab and was heading to her car, heart set on some much needed sleep before she would pick Lindsey up from school. She was three steps away from the vehicle when her cell phone rang. Unconsciously she glanced back towards the building, as she willed the phone call to not be coming from inside.
Walking the remaining distance, she rooted through her bag, and produced the phone. One look at the display told her it was Grissom calling. Knowing that he had left for home a while ago, she deemed it safe to answer.
"Hey," she said, cheerfully, after connecting the call.
"Hi…" he responded. "Are you still at the lab?"
In a slow and wary voice, unsure if she wanted to know where this was leading, Catherine replied: "I'm just leaving."
"Ah," he said, and she could just see him nodding. "Did you close the case?"
Her eyes narrowed now as her suspicions grew. It was unlikely that he had called just to ask if the case was closed. He was definitely up to something. "Yes," she said, a hint of question to her tone, hoping he would explain what was going on.
"Good… Well done." Not the response she was looking for.
When he didn't offer anything further, Catherine briefly wondered if they had been disconnected. "Grissom?"
"Was there a reason for your call?"
"Oh… Yeah… Would you be able to stop by my house on your way home? … I need your help with something."
This was a characteristically vague request, and from his small talk at the start of the conversation, Catherine felt pretty sure there was a chance she was going to regret this later, but, curiosity getting the better of her, she said she would be there soon.
The door opened to reveal Grissom, clad in his tux sans jacket shirt open at the collar, and looking pretty damn hot. Checking that last thought, Catherine smiled and said: "Wow! Don't I feel underdressed?!"
Grissom shook his head, and stepped aside for her to enter. "Don't worry about it."
Rational thought momentarily managed to breakthrough the appreciation for how sexy Grissom looked, and Catherine's heart panicked as it considered why he might be so dressed up.
The last time she'd seen Grissom, Sofia had made a comment about him never knowing when he might need to wear his tux again, and she'd seen the way he looked at her as she walked away. If he was going out with Sofia, then she needed to escape right now.
"So," she began tentatively, following as Grissom led her into the living room. "What's with the tux?"
"I have a date," he said, without flinching, seemingly unaware of the effect his words would have on her. But then, seeing as she had never told him of her long-ignored feelings, why would he be aware of it?
Her pause was perhaps a little too long, but she did have to fight through disappointment to regain her speech abilities. "Oh… And you need my help with that?" she joked, humour preferable to the wave of loss that was trying to wash over her.
"I need your help with this," he said, turning to face her, and holding up a bowtie.
Catherine frowned. "I thought Sofia fixed that for you?"
Grissom shrugged. "I threw that one away… I don't need a woman to make my life easier… I need one to help me through the inevitable rough times."
Her frown intensified, and she shook her head in confusion. "Gil, I'm lost… So if you could draw me a map… or explain what the hell is going on, that would be great."
"Come with me," he said, taking hold of her hand and leading her to the back of the house, and down a staircase she never knew was there, then out onto a terrace she never knew existed.
A few feet away sat a small, round garden table, and two chairs. A white tablecloth covered the table, and a small bunch of delicate pink flowers sat in a vase at its centre. Places were set for two to eat, and a covered bowl of salad was to one side of the vase.
"Nice," Catherine commented, trying to suppress the jealousy that was rising within her, then she turned back to Grissom. "Well, if your date's coming here, then we should get this bowtie on you, then I can get out of your way."
She took the item from his hand and stepped closer, settling it around his neck. Her fingers were about to get to work, when his hand closed around hers.
"Catherine… My date is already here," he said, softly.
There was a moment's thought then realisation glowed in her eyes, and she glanced at the table, then back to Grissom, who nodded slowly in response to her unspoken question.
"Gil, you do realise it is common practice to ask a girl out on a date, rather than just assuming she'll realise that's what's happening?"
He shrugged again. "An unnecessary formality," he smirked. "Now, are you going to fasten my tie so we can get started?"
Catherine's eyes twinkled with mischief, and then dropped from his face and trailed down his body, and back up again, and her own smirk slowly slipped across her lips. "An unnecessary formality," she grinned. "Let's leave it off."
Grissom's eyes widened, but Catherine simply smiled innocently and a comfortable silence enveloped them, until they became aware that they were still standing very close to each other.
"So," Catherine said, quietly, clearing her throat when she realised how quiet it had been. "What brought this on?" she asked, not particularly bothered, but intrigued nonetheless.
"I wanted to apologise for leaving you with my speech… And I know," he continued quickly as she looked like she was about to comment, "A napkin isn't a speech… But that's why I've gone to so much trouble," he smiled.
"Oh, so ordinarily you wouldn't go to any trouble for a date with me?" Catherine challenged, eyebrow raised.
He slid his hand down from hers, eliciting goosebumps along her arm as it moved to rest on her shoulder, and closed the remaining distance between them. "Catherine," he whispered, his mouth close to her ear, "There is no limit to the amount of trouble I would go to for a date with you… Dance with me?"
Catherine frowned and pulled back to look at him. "There's no music."
"So?" he asked simply, as he slipped his other arm around her waist, and began to sway them slowly.
She smiled, and followed his lead, as they danced around the terrace.
"Isn't it customary to have dancing after dinner?" she asked after a couple of minutes.
Grissom nodded once. "Yes, but last time I got called away, and missed out. Didn't want to risk that happening again."
"Ah," Catherine smiled. "That was unfortunate, I'd much rather have danced with you than Ecklie."
Both Grissom's eyebrows shot up. "You danced with Ecklie?"
"It was just a formality," she smiled. "He wanted to thank me for my speech… He'd have done the same for you if you'd stayed."
He shot her his unamused-but-actually-amused glare. "I'm sorry I missed that."
Catherine giggled and laid her head on his shoulder. "So am I."
Grissom pulled back from her to offer her a look of shock, which only made her laugh more, and somehow threw her into a fit of giggles she couldn't escape from.
"It's not that funny!" he exclaimed, laughing internally.
She schooled her laughter and looked him in the eye, but the image of Grissom dancing with Ecklie wouldn't let her be. "Yes it is!" she said, and resumed laughing.
It was only when Grissom raised his hand and lightly brushed her tears from her cheek that Catherine stopped, the touch of his hand so soft; so longed for, that it was sobering. She lifted her eyes to meet his, and subconsciously licked her lips as he started to lean towards her.
He was millimetres from her when she whispered. "And doesn't the kiss normally come at the end of the date?"
Grissom's eyes sparkled, and she read his mind. Simultaneously they grinned, shrugged and said: "An unnecessary formality."