"I told you this could only end badly."
Catherine propped her head on her elbow and looked at the tuft of hair poking up from beneath the sheet. "As I recall," she told it, "you only suggested that it had the potential for disaster."
She had the feeling that she wasn't supposed to be finding this as funny as she, in fact, was. She had the further feeling that if Gil were to catch the smirk she was trying very, very hard to suppress, the night shift would be investigating at least one homicide tonight.
Possibly--she leaned over Gil's buried head to confirm the time--the first murder-suicide of 1998. "Happy New Year," she said brightly. Gil muttered something vicious, and she poked him. "Don't be such a wuss. Come out here and drink some more champagne. You'll be amazed how quickly you get perspective on things with a good buzz on."
Gil pulled the sheet down to his chin and stared at her. "More champagne! I may never drink champagne again." He sat up, letting the sheets slide to his waist, and glumly accepted the glass she was holding out to him. "Isn't this where you're supposed to tell me it could happen to anyone?"
"Hey, don't look at me. It's never happened to me before." The look of outrage he fired at her crumbled her weak resolve, and she lay back on the pillows and laughed until her precariously balanced champagne glass delivered the last inch of its payload over her breasts. It was cold, and her sharply indrawn breath tangled with an outgoing giggle to produce a loud and obnoxious snort.
Gil's lips twitched. "You're a terrible, evil woman."
"S'why you love me," she said, grinning up at him. "Gah. This isn't the kind of wet spot I had in mind." She sat up and refilled her glass, then wriggled over until she could lean back against Gil's shoulder. After some hesitation he put his arm around her, and she was relieved to feel a little of the tension leave his body.
"It's been a long time since I've been with anybody except Eddie," she said. "I guess sex with my best friend as a way of easing back into being single wasn't the best idea I've ever had, huh?"
Gil sighed. "A bottle of champagne ago it seemed like a good idea to me, too. Curiosity and alcohol are never a good mix."
"Curiosity?" She turned a little to look at him.
"What it would be like to make love with someone I feel comfortable with. No tension, no expectations, no worrying whether I'm saying the right words or just making a complete fool of myself. No wondering how to avoid having them over to my place, and how soon I can politely get out of there afterward."
"God, Gil. Set yourself up to fail, why don't you." She punched him lightly in the ribs, and he oofed obligingly. "Do you do that with women, too?"
He choked a little, and lowered his glass to look at her. "I beg your pardon?" he asked in an odd voice.
She punched him again, a little harder this time. "How long have I known you, Grissom? And can I just say that it's kind of insulting that you still haven't actually said anything to me? What do you think I'm going to do, tattle to Brass?"
He lifted his arm from her shoulders and pushed the covers away to leave the bed, but suffered himself to be restrained by her hand on his arm. He settled back against the pillows, eyes on the hands folded in his lap, and was silent for a moment.
"I'm... not ready to have this conversation, Catherine," he said at last. "With you, or anyone, for that matter. I apologize if keeping my private life private makes me a bad friend."
Damn it. He knew everything there was to know about her miserable excuse for a marriage. He was the closest thing to an uncle Lindsay had. He'd seen her through separations and reconciliations, rages, depression and despair, and he'd never given her unsolicited opinions or unwanted advice. He'd just listened, and let her drip mascara and snot on his shoulder more times than she could count. All she wanted to do was return the favour, give him a little support when he needed it.
All right: what she really wanted was a little reciprocity. It was unnerving that he'd seen her at her worst and knew her darkest secrets, and she knew virtually nothing about him; she'd never even been to his home, for God's sake. If she was honest, it was the possibility of what Gil would reveal about himself that lay at the core of this little alcohol-generated inspiration of hers.
That, and years of wondering if Gil brought that incredible focus of his to bed with him. And the rumours, of course. Well, at least she'd had that much of her curiosity satisfied.
She snuck a peek at him out of the corner of her eyes. He was looking pensive, uncomfortable and a little anxious, and she wondered if that was his typical "date" face. She couldn't decide if it was endearing or annoying. Huh. No wonder the poor guy never made it to the second date.
"Catherine. Do people in the lab... is there gossip about me? Is that why..." He stopped, and looked at her helplessly.
Okay. 1998's first New Year's resolution: Let Gil Off The Hook.
"Well, yeah," she said, leering at him. "What do you expect in a place with communal showers? It took poor Nicky a week to drag his eyes above your belt after he caught you in there the first time. That python in your pants traumatizes the boys and thrills the girls, my friend." And thrills some of the boys, she added silently, remembering Nick's shiny-eyed look of terror and lust.
Gil's expression had turned stony when she started talking, but by the end he was hiding his brightly flushed face behind his hands.
"You're just yanking my chain, right?" came his muffled voice. She considered and rejected a dozen lewd retorts, sniggering, and he peered at her suspiciously from between his fingers. She finally took pity on him. Sort of.
"Grissom, you're a genius, you're sweet--shut up, you are so, sometimes--you don't play office politics, you're ridiculously hot, and you have a dick the size of Rhode Island. People are going to talk about you."
"Oh, my God," he groaned. He was hiding under the sheet again. This, Catherine thought cheerfully, was better than sex.
Well. She thought about the armament Gil was packing. Almost as good, anyway.
She rolled over to rummage in her nightstand for her favourite ratty sleep shirt, and pulled it over her head.
"Hey." She prodded the muttering, sheet-covered lump beside her. "I've got 'Independence Day' in the VCR, and it's got to go back tomorrow." She pulled the sheet down, and grinned at his look of resignation. "I'll make popcorn. You can even be in charge of the remote. That's not an offer I make to just any man, you know."
He sat up again and pulled her to him. "Eddie's an imbecile," he said into her hair, and she felt the press of his lips there.
Stupid, that it would make her eyes well up.
"Yeah, I kinda love you, too," she whispered into his chest, and blinked furiously. Her voice was close to normal when she pulled away to go make the popcorn. Ooh. And maybe there was some of that cheesecake left.
She paused at the door when he called her name. He was standing by the bed, and she studied him for a moment. He really did wear his skin well. She wondered what he'd looked like at Nicky's age.
"Cath... when I'm ready to have that conversation, you'll be the first to hear it. I promise."
He looked around the room, teeth worrying at his lower lip, then turned back to her. "Have you seen my shorts?"
She was almost at the stairs when his voice came from behind her. His head was poking out of the bedroom door; she didn't know if he'd found his shorts yet. She had a suspicion that they were on the living room floor with his tux and her dress.
"Hey, have you got any more of that cheesecake you brought to work yesterday?"
"I just want you to be happy, you know?" she said suddenly.
He smiled at her.
"Yeah, honey. I know."