It had been bittersweet, their affair. It was a thing of quiet nights and unbearably long days, of needy, lingering kisses over clasped hands and hushed whispers under the cover of darkness, when the world was asleep but lovers were still free to murmur their devotion to one another. It was a thing of tender promises followed, inevitably, by hurt that those promises had been left unfulfilled. They hadn't been able to speak to each other for months afterwards. It had been too painful. The others suspected, or rather, they knew, but were too polite or too awkward to ask about it.
He didn't know how they had gotten by unscathed. Each day that passed, he expected to be approached by one of his supervisors, demanding to know what had happened. As if they could change anything now, he thought, as if there was any point in punishing them for something that had ended some time ago. What was done was done... and God, was their relationship ever done. How they had crashed and burned like this was beyond him. Their passions had been so equally matched, but more than lust, they had cared for each other, so deeply that it had almost hurt.
She was the only woman that he'd ever loved, and the first he'd ever opened his heart to. She had seen too many men come and go. For once, strong, intelligent Catherine needed someone to protect her, needed the comfort of someone to hold her, someone to run to when the world was too cruel and unjust.
And Gil Grissom was that someone. They had thrown themselves into love with such careless abandon for the world.
"I confess... I've forgotten... how to love."
She pressed a gentle kiss to his palm. "I'll help you to remember. If you'll let me."
His eyes never left hers "I want to learn. Help me to understand... what this is. What is this?"
A soft smile bloomed on her lips, clouding her eyes. "If I tell you, will you run?" She looked up, and suddenly her eyes were filled with the vulnerability that can only come from being left behind, from losing what she thought was hers forever, and from being afraid to hope. "Or will you stay?"
"For you, Catherine, I'd sell my soul." He caressed her cheek with the backs of his fingers. Her eyes fluttered closed. "I'd stay until the end of time," he said softly.
She lost herself in his eyes, reading the promises there, promises that she had seen so many times before. Yet in those blue-grey eyes, she could believe that they were true, that they wouldn't, couldn't, be broken. And maybe, just maybe, this time, they couldn't.
She slipped into his embrace and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling herself closer to his ear. His arms encircled her waist as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Quietly, she whispered, her breath brushing against his skin like a breeze. "It's love." Her eyes squeezed closed. She tightened her arms around his neck. "Oh, Gil, it's love."
He was breathless, speechless. So that's what this was, then? This fluttering that he felt in his stomach when she walked by, the spontaneous urge to cradle her in his arms and keep her safe from the world... it was love.
He buried his face in the beautiful, golden silk of her hair. He felt her tense in his arms, and realized that she thought that he was hiding from her. His heart nearly broke for this woman, so afraid of being forsaken again. He lifted his head, met her ice-blue eyes, so like his own, and spoke softly, trying not to let his sorrow for her reach into his tone. "Till the end of time, remember?"
She let out something that was a mix between a laugh and a sob, and rested her head on his shoulder. He stroked her hair, lifted her, and carried her to his bedroom.
Grissom drew back the covers and lay her beneath them. She relaxed into the sheets, soft and cool, and breathed in the unique scent of him that lingered in his bedding. He dimmed the lights, but didn't put them out completely. Climbing into bed, he settled himself beside her, and when she edged her way into his arms, he didn't protest, but nuzzled her neck contentedly. Catherine slept beside him that night, and for the first time in what felt like years, he dreamt of the seashores and sunshine of his childhood, of white beaches where the gulls called above him and the cerulean waves whispered to him that anything was possible, that dreams came true. And for once, Gil believed.