DISCLAIMER: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and other related entities are owned, trademarked, and copyrighted by Anthony E. Zuiker, Jerry Bruckheimer Television, CBS Worldwide Inc., Alliance Atlantis Corporation, CSI Productions and CBS Productions. This is fanfiction and is written purely for the fun and enjoyment of the fans without profits being made what so ever.
WARNING: its going to get dark. Physical and sexual abuse issued are heavily discussed. Rating M for Mature, subject mater is very much on emotional up-setting level but it is nothing we haven't' seen on the show itself or LAO / SVU.
SPOILERS: Season Two, most specifically "You've Got Male"
THANKS: many, many thanks to Lewis for being my beta.
ARCHIVE: Only with the permission of the author.
By Elizabeth Carter
"Honey..." Catherine spoke softly. But she received no answer, not that she actually expected one. Sara was in a state of deep shock. All the way home from CSI HQ, Catherine had debated with herself whether she should take her lover to the hospital or not. No doubt if Doctor Rothery was on duty that night she would give Catherine and Grissom by proxy the riot act for allowing Sara to be put in a position that could further jeopardize her health.
But even fully healthy, Sara would still be in this deep state of shock. In fact in the span of an hour she had had the shock of her life twice. First the man was seen as her father, her dead father, her dead very abusive father. Then it wasn't her dead abusive father but her dead by suicide brother, who wasn't dead but MIA.
It was enough to send anyone over the edge.
This edge had left Sara in a state of near-catatonia.
There was no reaction, none. Catherine unbuckled her seatbelt and Sara's as well before she let herself out of her the Denali. CSI was now using both models of SUV. Catherine as with Grissom being senior was given the new make. It had a little more room in the cab which for now was convenient in extracting a non-responsive person from the passenger side.
Sara frighteningly offered absolutely no resistance as Catherine prompted her to move from the cab into the night air. As if she were blind, Sidle allowed Catherine to guide her to the door of the house her dark eyes taking in the stucco facade, her mind blandly registering that this was not her apartment complex. In fact there were no where near her 'burb of Vegas, they were in the outskirts of Henderson where Catherine lived.
Presently Sara grew quieter, not calmer, she merely stood there, disorientated and agonized. Faltering steps would have made her fall into a heap if not for Catherine's support around her waist. As she had in the locker-room and again outside the interrogation room, Catherine held her distraught lover tightly, even as she navigated the door to her house and ushered Sara into the foyer. She was an automaton, and Catherine was growing more and more concerned. Looking at Sara the blonde recognized the familiar set in the jaw, the defiance of emotion that threatened to take over. The look that said Sara was removed. Grissom was however correct, Sara was emotional, passionate in what she felt whatever emotion she felt. Somehow it almost always seemed the lanky woman was brooding.
Sara had a habit of immersing herself into the case, so much so she saw herself in the victim's eyes. CSI was the victim's last voice, Sara was the epitome of that truism. It wasn't exactly a healthy way to exist as a criminalist. Catherine knew that Sara had told Grissom she wished she was like him, that she didn't feel anything. She wasn't the only CSI to have accused the entomologist of being unemotional. Right now, Catherine wondered if Sara's wish hadn't come true, because the brunette was so numb she was near comatose.
"Catherine?" the voice belonged to Nancy. The younger sister was a little more than surprised to find Catherine and her new girlfriend walking through the house to the master bedroom. Once Nancy got a look at the lanky younger woman, her medical instincts kicked in.
"Cath, you need to get her into the hospital."
"No." Catherine shook her head and continued to lead her lover to her bedroom. "She won't respond well there."
"Cath, I'm a nurse and I'm telling you she needs to go to the hospital. Even from here I can tell you she's in deep shock." Nancy insisted.
"I know she is, that's why I brought Sara home, a place she can feel safe. Protected. A place she can just be Sara." Catherine guided her love to sit on the bed as she started to remove her boots, "Help me out, middle drawer you'll find sweats and the top draw tee-shirts.
Nancy nodded agreeing that loose but warm clothing would help. Taking out a set of old WLVSU sweats and tee-shirt, she handed them to her older sister. "Keep talking to her; try to get her to respond."
Catherine looked to Sara, her eyes which always spoke even when the young woman was silent were as vacant and listless as a coma patient. The eyes of a doll, realistic but empty. Getting her to respond was easier said than done.
Nancy felt she should give her sister and her young lover a moment of privacy. "I'm going to my car to get my kit and some water for her. You need to keep her hydrated. Keep her warm and keep up the contact, verbal as well as physical. Even skin to skin. Get her to respond to you."
Catherine smiled her gratitude to her baby sister then turned back to the woman who became the love of her life, even if they had yet to consummate it. "Baby...." Catherine kissed Sara's forehead, her cheek a soft peck on the lips. "Sara, come on say something. Baby...you're safe, just remember you're safe now, safe and loved."
Sara tilted her head up for but a moment. She had been swimming, barely treading above the abyss. Terror, memories, old wounds continued to drown her. In a place or a condition neither light nor dark because no seeing was possible, truly adrift in the dimensionless calm, she felt a touch. A very small touch, like the brush of a fingertip' but she felt it. And feeling it, she couldn't help feeling what flowed from that touch - what seemed to her the familiar whispers of possibility.
She remembered what it was to be Catherine's Sara.
Bodiless she tried to do what Catherine asked of her, what she wanted. And could not answer that expectation that demand. The emptiness she was falling through was too great. And she already fallen too far, scattering away on the gusts of a cold, silent wind. She had already resigned herself to the falling, the emptiness, the silence.
Yet the touch remained. Catherine's touch. Reaching toward the brightnessthrough that light connection that fingertip touch, she felt the flow swirling, bursting flood of sensation. Cold and white, that was pain. The stuttering, beginning rhythm of heartbeat, that was pain. The first heave of breath, that was pain. And just such overwhelming sweetness that she couldn't wish it ever to end.
She couldn't move. Couldn't think. Only feel. Perhaps it would be alright to float in the diffuse awareness of the touch that was happening to her. Everywhere alike, all the skin waking to itself and to sensation. Caresses. Smooth and soft, circling, safe, yielding, wanting, demanding.
Catherine was growing increasingly worried. Sara wasn't responding well. In fact she wasn't responding at all, she merely lay where Catherine had pushed her form down. Her dark eyes staring unblinkingly at the wall, on the verge of tears that never fell. Catherine placed herself on the bed, her hand making small circular strokes upon the lanky woman's back, soothing comforting.
The blonde had stopped urging Sara to respond, but concentrated rather on reassuring. Repeating over and over that Sara was now safe, that Janet was safe. That struck Catherine. She smacked her forehead with the palm of her right hand, and rolled her eyes. 'Damn how could I be so dumb? What good mother figure won't respond to their child? Janet is as much Sara's baby if she had given birth to her...'
Apparently Nancy had the same idea for when she came back into the bedroom carrying her small black medical kit, (classically carried by doctors), a glass of water, she had a very groggy Janet behind her, who she herself was carrying her plush white tiger.
"Honey, why don't you give this to your Sara." Nancy said handing the tumbler of tepid water to the young girl.
Janet's fawn brown eyes glanced over to Catherine who gave an encouraging nod. She rose from the bed and knelt before the small child, her hands tenderly holding onto the girl's arms. "Sara is a little sad right now, but I bet when she sees you she'll cheer right up."
Janet moved slowly to the unmoving Sara, she put the glass down on the end-table, she tilted her head slowly to the side, her small hand stroking the hair away from Sara's face, her tiny fingers making their own little circled caresses around Sara's cheek.
Brown eyes looked deep into brown eyes. A silent exchange of words:
'I know.' Janet seemed to say with her very expressive eyes, 'it really hurts.'
'Yes. You think you can forget the pain, but you don't, it's always there.'
'You have me. I have you. There doesn't have to be the hurting anymore.'
Sara's eyes had nothing to say. Janet leaned over and kissed the woman who was rapidly becoming the image of a mother for her. "You're going to be okay, Sara." Janet said.
Mimicking Catherine's earlier position Janet crawled onto the bed, sitting in nearly the exact same spot Catherine had taken. "I think you need, Sara-tiger tonight more than I do." Janet moved to tuck the stuffed tiger under Sara arms, then gave a second thought and laid down next to her would be mother.
And Sara reacted, gathering both girl and plush animal into her arms holding them tightly.
The tears fell then.
"Good move with Janet." Catherine whispered.
"Well you gave me the idea when you had me put the girl on the phone. I gathered if you couldn't get her to respond to you, Sara would respond to the little soul that has become paramount in her life."
Catherine patted her sister on the back and squeezed her arm. "I think it's working."
They watched as Janet managed to get Sara to drink some water through the straw put into the glass of water.
"What happened?" Nancy asked her older sister.
"She got the biggest shock of her life. Twice." Catherine was reluctant to say more, not wanting to betray Sara's trust even to her baby sister. "Two people she thought dead came back from the grave. One who had tortured her as a kid..." Catherine closed her eyes wincing as her eyes fell on the wee girl cuddled next to Sara. The same little face, the same gap between the teeth, the eyes and hair and nose even the set of the mouth were identical. Catherine could almost see the child Sara was as she was being beaten, tortured by her father, traumatized by her mother. "The suspect turned out not to be this particular man, but the brother she had been told had committed suicide. Oh god Nanc," Catherine was now weeping for the lost childhood. "She... was never a little girl. Never the child she was supposed to be. They took that from her. Parents are supposed to cherish their children. Fuck even Eddie adores and loves Lindsey. He screws up, breaks promises, makes excuses but he loves her. I know he would never hit her, abuse her. Even when he had hit me the few times.... he'd never lay a hand on Lindsey. He's never leave her alone in a car, let alone strike her down." Catherine looked again the distraught image of her beloved girlfriend. "Sara lost so much. Too much."
Nancy placed her hand on her big sister's shoulder. "Looks to me she's gaining a lot of it back. A lover, a child make that two. The way Lindsey talks about her, you would think Sara hung the moon and stars. The Slayer of Shelob..."
Despite her inner pain for Sara and her helplessness to make things better for her overwrought lover, Catherine found herself smirking at her sister's comment and how the title came into existence.
Nick, Warrick, Brass and Greg sat about the black polished table in the breakroom all of them staring into their coffee cups that by now had gone stone cold. None of them knew what to say much less what to do. They had found out by sheer accident about one of their most secretive colleagues, the most private person next to the enigmatic Gilbert A. Grissom. Sara would be devastated to find out they knew.
"God I can't imagine having....what she said happened to her. Everyone should able to be just a kid." Greg said softly.
Brass stared deeply into the sludge his coffee was transforming into. He thought of his beloved Ellie, his rebellious angry young daughter. A daughter Brass would do anything for, drop everything to help her if she called him. He loved her even if she wasn't his biologically, he loved her cherished her. But Ellie told him it was too late, she spat on his badge, on him and he never blamed her for it. He wanted always now to do right by her. She broke his heart--- the road she was choosing. And all he could to was to always be there not just to help her. To try to be the father he wasn't when she was so young back in Jersey. Just like he was with Sara.
Sara had become oddly another Ellie....no not another estranged daughter. But a daughter. One he would look out for, even help her when she didn't want help or didn't know she needed help. Try to steer her away a path he knew the stress of law enforcement could give. A path he had taken to make things seem better, or able to numb the darkness the human element did to each other. Yes almost all cops thought being a CSI was a cushy lab job. But CSI's see people everyday on the worst day of their lives, they had to process the violence people did. The results, the evidence it had its effects on those like Sara who poured themselves into their cases. He would never give up on Ellie and he wouldn't with Sara either. He'd be there for her now. Be the father she never ever had.
Ellie had at least some good years to remember before the drink took Brass. Sara had nothing.
"I can't get the image of her running like she did." Nick muttered. "Sara's so brave, strong, smart. A haunting beautiful woman.....I can't stop seeing her run like she did. That fear in her eyes. What they must have done to her, her whole life."
"What life? Locked in a cellar...beaten...I hate to think what else was taken from her..." Warrick spoke softly. "You know that haunted look behind her eyes when she works domestic abuse and rape cases....it never goes away even when... when she is in a good mood. It's like she... has to bank the good moments because she doesn't think they'll last all that long. know knowing why makes it worse."
"Catherine's looking out for her." Nick said. "She's going to be in good hands." the young Texan knew from experience how caring the dominating Catherine Willows could become. She held him when he spoke of his own rape as a young boy. She would be that caring person now for Sara.
"That, I don't get," Greg said, his thoughts he had kept silent now vocalized. "From all the barbs Catherine slung at Sara... ya know...'when the spirit moves you, in your case never...' type of shit, I thought that she hated Sara. As much as we all can't stand Ecklie, it seemed Sara was that hated by Catherine."
The men looked at the DNA expert.
"She doesn't hate Sara," Warrick said. "she just didn't like it an outsider was here to investigate me twice. And Sara has a special place in Grissom's heart."
Then why isn't he taking care of her? It was a question they all asked but none of them put to voice.
"Sara isn't an outsider," Greg defended.
"No she isn't," this came from Warrick. "She's our friend. One of us. That punk-bitch in holding will pay for what he did to her."
"What if he is saying is true? That he isn't... isn't the one who abused Sara, but her brother?" It was Nick now speaking. "There is so much resemblance between them. It's like looking at Sara as a guy. It's too freaking weird. No wonder little Janet looks like Sara is her real mom."
Brass had yet anything further to add to the conversation, he continued to look at the black liquid in his coffee cup. He couldn't get the young woman's testimony out of his mind, his heart broke for her. "Protect her boys, whatever it takes to do it, we'll do it." Brass finally said. "I better go check lock up some sort of accident might have befallen our man."
The men of CSI looked up a little alarmed at the homicide detective's words. But none of them could say they hadn't thought of it. Hadn't thought of dismembering, a certain relative of Sara's. If anyone could make a crime look not like a crime, make it disappear, make it vanish, it was two highly trained and competent CSIs, one adept DNA lab tech and a homicide detective. They even thought an entomologist might 'read' the insect evidence right....
Said entomologist stood now in the threshold of the breakroom looking at four forlorn men. It was bad enough Archie, Jacquie, David, Doc Robinson, Bobbie had held that same post-funeral expression, now he saw it on his CSI's, Greg and Brass. And he knew why. He himself had heard Sara's confessional, but this would not do. Not at all.
"The world doesn't stop because one of our own had a horrific childhood," he said coming into the breakroom. "Nick, Warrick, what are you doing here? What about your case, what do you have? Greg, you need to be back in the lab processing the DNA."
All heads snapped up, four mouths hung open gaping at the seeming callous coldness of Grissom.
Their faces held one expression: disbelief. He held his hand up forestalling anything that would be said. "Before any of you accuses me of not feeling anything....I do. But we're not doing Sara any favors behaving as if she had died. She would be..." Grissom stopped. He was going to say horrified but no, that wasn't what Sara would feel. She would feel shame. Shame that the darkest secrets of her past were known by more than just Catherine.
"She doesn't want to be known as the girl whose parents abused her, the girl whose mother stabbed her father. She wants to be known as Sara Sidle CSI-3. And we're going to treat her that way. Understand. I want to protect her as much as any of you do, and we're going to protect her from ourselves. From our need to be her rock, she doesn't want mother hens, she wants her friends."
This changed everything the others were feeling about their supervisor. They each in turn had to admit on some level Grissom was right. It would devastate Sara to know her team had heard the confession that was obviously meant only for Catherine to hear.
"Any techs that make commends on Sara's... need to remove herself from the presence of the....from Mr. Sidle you will not give into any of their questions." Grissom went on to say.
"You can sure as hell bet Hodges will sully her name," Warrick said.
Grissom held up a finger, "I'll deal with Hodges." Gil was far beyond any sort of description of a people person but Hodges had this dire need to prove himself to Grissom he became a praise whore. If Grissom told him that slandering Sara Sidle was not going to be permitted; Hodges would have to comply, or face the prospect of termination.
"What do we tell the techs?" Greg asked.
"Tell them...." Grissom stopped, he in truth didn't know what to tell the inquiring minds of the lab technicians. This was really Catherine's purview.
"Tell them it was a perp from California, one that had a very violent history with Sara, one she knew to be dead. She saw him and understandably took off because she needed to collect herself." This came from Nick. He was as Catherine very much a people person. He could rearrange the facts he knew into a likely story.
Two college kids found dead in the water with a waver-runner: they were goofing off at a fifty foot ump point, girl took a dive didn't come up, boy jumped into save her and died trying. No evidence to say this was what happened, but it was likely, and it gave closure to the father of the boy and to the parents of the girl. Sara had been miffed that Nick had rearrange the line of evidence to tell his 'story'. Now ironically he was doing it again, this time to help Sara.
Gil Grissom looked from worn face to worn face. "I'm worried about her too." he admitted.
"Within two months she's been viciously attacked twice, put in a coma for two weeks and now this." Warrick said softly. "How much more can she take before she snaps?"
"That is exactly what I need to know." Director Robert Cavallo said from the doorway Grissom had recently occupied. "I want CSI Sidle to report to a full physiological evaluation and see a PEAP's counsellor, before she reports to work and she's to take a mandatory two weeks administrative leave."
Grissom spun on his heel facing the white haired older man. "Sara Sidle didn't do anything wrong. She was the victim here, Robert."
"I can't have CSI running down the halls in some PTSD outbursts. Conrad Ecklie expressed some concerns over CSI Sidle's abilities...."
"Grissom held up his hand. "Robert, I'd like to talk about this in private."
"Private? You all were discussing Sidle, what's private? Sidle is a loose cannon Gilbert and she's yours. And she won't becoming back to the Lab if she doesn't comply. The integrity of the lab comes first."
"Robert, she was attacked on Police grounds DOING the work of the LAB" Brass snapped rising so fast, his hundred and seventy pound bulk nearly toppled the table. "She was also attacked on the scene in the field 'again' doing her job. This isn't outside influence, like booze or drugs! This is work-related. You're punishing her because some wacko nearly killed her? That's fucked up"
Cavallo's face remained as stone. "I'm going to ignore that last outburst Captain Brass. I'm aware of the nature of Sidle's injuries and I do sympathize. And if you Captain Brass had properly restrained the perp, Sidle wouldn't have been attacked. As for what happened to her on the field, the Lab is not liable for the actions of the criminal element, nor for accounts that happened in other states, or the past of any CSI. But that doesn't excuse Sidle for screaming like a bean sidhe down the halls of the lab crying bloody murder." Robert turned his slate gray eyes to Grissom. "See to it she complies or she doesn't come back."
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