The words surprised Warrick. He hadn’t suspected anyone else to be in the locker room while he changed out of his uniform. It was late. All current cases were solved, so everyone was either stuck in offices doing paperwork or getting some well-earned rest. He was trying to get out of here to avoid having to do the former; he’d do it tomorrow. Turning around, his gaze landed on the doorway, or more specifically, the woman leaning against the doorframe. Catherine was staring at him, a slight grin gracing her features. Alabaster skin enhanced her smooth jawline and high cheekbones, while strawberry blonde locks framed her face. She was a genuine work of art - but he was getting distracted.
“Ready for what?” he inquired, grabbing his backpack out of his allocated locker. Catherine raised an eyebrow at him, before responding: “Dinner.” She said it like it was the most logical thing in the world. When Warrick didn’t immediately reply, she clarified: “I believe you owe me dinner, after I won our little wager.” She had to be referring to the bet he had offered her on the basketball game, but he had lost, hadn’t he?
“Yeah, you did. So you don’t have to.” It was simple. She chuckled.
“Yeah. I don’t have to pay.” Was that how she had interpreted his offer? Well, he wasn’t about to contest that statement. He’d gladly pay for a meal if it meant sharing it with her.
“Alright,” he agreed. “Where would you like to eat, then?”
He followed her in his car to her location of choice; a quaint diner a short distance from the Strip. It wasn’t exactly the first place that came to mind when he thought of Catherine Willows. He would have considered the Bellagio, the Mandarin Bar, or even the Mirage. Somehow, though, it fit her to a T. They made their way to a booth and slid in on opposite ends, the fifties’ vibe of the decorations bringing on a feeling of old-fashioned romance - taking your girl out for roller skating and a milkshake. Very quickly, a waitress appeared, offering the both of them a menu. Catherine asked for a water, while he settled on a root beer. If they were going to eat here, he might as well stick to the theme.
“So, why did we come here?” he asked, eyeing the food on offer.
“Because they have the best burgers in Vegas,” his colleague replied with a grin and a slight drawl to her voice. She seemed much more relaxed here now than she ever was at work. He would never have figured she was a burger-and-fries type of girl, but, nevertheless, here they were. Their waitress re-appeared at their table, her notepad and pencil at the ready.
“Have you made your decisions?” the young girl asked. Warrick nodded for Catherine to precede him. Ladies first, after all.
“I’d like a Chubby Checker,” the redhead announced, placing her menu on the edge of the surface. Warrick let his eyes scan the menu one last time before ordering for himself: “And I’ll have the…” They couldn’t possibly be serious with these meal names. “...Big Daddy Jim.” Catherine burst out laughing - he was fairly sure that she, just like he himself, was picturing a certain Detective, instead of a burger. As their waitress excused herself towards the kitchen with promises of food in their near future, Warrick took a moment to observe the woman sitting across from him, who was staring out of the window. She seemed captivated by the traffic speeding by, the gentle glow of the red and blue neon strips lining the ceiling illuminating her form. Her breathing was slow and steady, her chest expanding with every breath. A light blue pendant rested just below her collarbones. She was beautiful. He felt pretty freaking lucky.
Their food arrived, and after a long day of work, they both dug in, tired and hungry. He had to admit it - his burger was damn amazing, and Catherine’s looked great as well. She closed her eyes as she savoured a bite.
“Good?” he asked, popping a fry into his mouth.
“Mhmm,” the woman murmured in agreement. He grinned at her, amused by the way she was devouring her burger. Silk blouses and greasy burgers did go together still, apparently. They made small talk in between mouthfuls, enhanced by her bright laugh and his softer, darker chuckle.
Their meal was finished sooner than he had preferred, and after he had paid their bill, she stood up and pulled her coat tight around her body.
“I had better get home. My babysitter is waiting,” she explained, apologetically. He only smiled gently and nodded in response. Both glanced at the exterior of the establishment. Rain was coming down in a harsh downpour, clattering against the windows. They made their way outside; he shielded her against the rainfall as well as he could, using his larger form to shelter her slim one. When she had safely made it into her car, she smiled up at him.
“Thanks. For the dinner,” she commented. He grinned, as the cold water made its way down his neck and back.
“You’re welcome. Text me when you arrive home safely?” he asked. The roads of Las Vegas could get dangerously slippery during bad weather, and people, in general, began driving like idiots whenever the sun disappeared. Catherine nodded.
“Next date’s on me.” He was left completely speechless for a short moment, before finding the breath to ask: “Date?” She nodded again.
“Yup.” She strained upwards to place the gentlest kiss on his cheek, before he stepped back to let her close her door and drive off.
It took him almost a minute to compose himself and realise that he was, indeed, standing in the pouring rain in the middle of the night with a hand raised to his cheek, his fingers touching the spot where her lips had just been. He didn’t really care.
There was going to be a second date.