DISCLAIMER: CSI is the property of CBS, Jerry Bruckheimer etc. I own no characters except Jude.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Jen

Part One


"I'm sorry Catherine, Sara, we don't have any news for you at this moment. We're still waiting on Samantha's test results to come back. I wish I had something to tell you, but it will probably be a few more hours until we're certain that she has responded well to the treatment."

Catherine sank down into a cold, plastic chair, her body numb as the reality of this situation began to sink in. Samantha, or Sami, as everyone called her, was not Catherine's daughter genetically, but she definitely held a spot in Catherine's heart just as her own daughter did. Love, not DNA, is what creates a family, and Sami was definitely loved by Catherine, Sara, and Lindsey.

Sara murmured "thank you" to the doctor before sitting down and wrapping an arm around her girlfriend, "She's going to be okay, she's a fighter."

Resting her head on Sara's shoulder, Catherine responded quietly, "Of course she's a fighter, she's your daughter."

A soft sob escaped Sara's lips and before either woman knew what was happening, Sara had begun to sob into Catherine's shoulder, her assumed behavior as the "strong" one dissolving rapidly.

"No child should have to fight for their life." Sara sobbed, her breathing shallow as she struggled to regain control, "This is so unfair. She's in there, scared and alone, and they won't tell us anything. They won't even let us see her. We're her parents, for cryin' outloud! What kind of people keep a young child from her parents at a time like this?"

Catherine began to stroke Sara's back gently, not quite sure of how to respond. After a few seconds, she whispered soothingly, "Sweetie, I'm sure they're doing the best they can. If we were in there, we'd be two more people getting in the way of the people trying to stabilize her. I' sure they will let us see her as soon as they're sure she's stable..." She paused for a second, trying to convince herself of her words, "I'm sure she's sleeping right now, dreaming about Max and Gordy, and how she's going to torment Lindsey next. She probably doesn't even know what's going on. It's going to be okay, baby, she's strong, just like you are."

Sara smiled, despite the grief she was feeling. Max and Gordy were Sami and Lindsey's pet cocker spaniels, both still puppies. Sami had begged for nearly a month before Catherine gave in and agreed for a pet.

Today was supposed to be Sara and Catherine's 5 year anniversary celebration. Catherine had planned the entire thing. Days were going to be covering for the Graveyard shift, a babysitter had been lined up for Sami and Lindsey (although Lindsey was old enough to require only minimal supervision) and Catherine had convinced Sam Braun to let her use one of the banquet rooms for their party. All of their friends had been invited, and it was supposed to be a quiet, special party to celebrate the strength of their relationship.

Five years ago, today, was the day Sara and Catherine had finally gotten the courage to test the ground between them and jump from colleagues who barely got along to lovers who happened to work together. The transition had been relatively smooth and painless, despite the circumstances surrounding it.

Eddie had just been murdered, and Catherine had just torn into Sara on her inability to get her job done. The remark, even though Sara knew Catherine was only speaking out of anger, had cut her to the bone, and she had gone to Catherine's to apologize with a bottle of wine the following night. It was just supposed to be a peace offering, yet what she received was something she cherished even more than simple peace.

They had grown to be close friends quickly, once all of their cards had been laid out and the air between them settled. They agreed that they were both independent, strong, opinionated women, and that they tended to take their aggression out on each other not because of hatred, but because it was their way to up the challenge a bit more with each case. Behind all of their anger and hostility laid a desire to prove themselves to the other, mutual respect and admiration, and as they later found out, love.

Catherine had offered to take Sara out for drinks the day Sara and Hank officially broke up, and as they badmouthed men in a sleazy bar off the strip, a stronger bond had been formed. They had no way then of knowing how it would affect them for years to come. A week later, they kissed for the first time, and the day before the lab explosion, they moved in together. If anyone had known about their developing romance, they would have encouraged both women to take it slow, insisted that they were unnecessarily rushing things. Fast-paced, however, seemed to work well for both of them, and they were convinced that they had fallen in love, real love, this time.

They had some shaky points, as every couple does. As a matter of fact, their first fight came the night of the lab explosion, only one day after they started cohabitating. This one fight nearly destroyed them at the time, although it provided great joy for years to come. Catherine had come home to find a pregnancy test in the trash, and suddenly realized that Sara's tired, pale complexion and daily nausea and fatigue were not, as she had originally assumed, stress- related, they were baby related. She was furious that Sara had not told her that she suspected she was pregnant, and even more furious with herself that she put the woman she loved in a position that could have killed her child. After they had both cooled down, Sara had explained that she didn't even realize she was late until one of the paramedics, on a standard questionnaire, had asked her the date of her last period.

2 weeks later, they were going to Sara's first prenatal appointment, Catherine accepting full responsibility as second parent to the child. The week Sami was born, adoption papers on not only Sami, but Lindsey as well, were drawn up by their lawyer, and their family was not only complete, but legal. They hadn't expected that 4 and a half years later, they would be in danger of losing their youngest child.

They had left for the party in a whirlwind of excitement. Their lives had been filled to capacity lately between work and parenthood (it was utterly shocking how much of a difference one extra child in school made) and they hadn't had a chance to spend any alone time (not to mention 'adult time' not revolving around work) in months. This was going to be a night for them to relax and enjoy each other as a couple.

They hadn't even finished their first glasses of wine when Sara's cell had gone off. 5 hours later, here they were, waiting in the emergency room for news on their youngest daughter, still clad in evening dresses and heels, their makeup running from the constant flow of tears.

It had been a careless accident, according to both Lindsey and Gabby, the babysitter they had been using since Sami was born. Sami and Lindsey had been playing hide and seek, Sami's favorite game, and after looking for a few minutes, Lindsey had been unable to find her. When a 4 and a half year old girl out-hides a 13 year old girl, it's a strong indication that something isn't right. Lindsey and Gabby both started searching for Sami, their search ending in the backyard, where Sami's body laid bruised and broken from apparently falling out of her second story bedroom window.

Sara and Catherine had been suspicious at first, who falls out of a window without being pushed?, but Lindsey had explained that she thought Sami was going to try to hide on the ledge, something they had seen in a Disney movie or something, and both adults had been inclined to believe her.

The list of Sami's injuries was long and serious. The top of the list included a small fracture to her skull, a concussion, a dislocated shoulder, a broken wrist, several fractured ribs, internal bleeding (which they had done emergency surgery to repair), a minor spinal fracture, and torn ligaments in her knee. The damages wouldn't have been as extensive to a grown adult, but to a small child, everything is easily damaged by falls and injuries.

They had done emergency surgery to correct the internal bleeding, yet they were unsure if Sami's condition would improve. They would have to do knee surgery, although they were going to save it for a later day, when the more serious injuries had been attended to. The swelling associated with the concussion were the doctor's main concern right now, they were worried that the rapidly increasing pressure would damage Sami's nerves, leading to paralyzation or "worse".

Now, Sara and Catherine just had to wait for news. Waiting seemed to be the hardest part of all. Sara's sobs had turned into quiet sniffles, yet they remained in their embrace, grateful for the small peace it gave them.

"Do you think she's scared?" Sara whispered, her voice muffled by Catherine's shirt, "Do you think she was scared when she fell, now? Do you think she's hurting?"

"I...I honestly don't know." Catherine replied, her voice cracking with emotion. Knowing Samantha was hurt was bad enough, but imagining what the child must be feeling and thinking was nearly unbearable.

Sara pulled away, wiping her eyes and taking a deep, steadying breath, "I need some fresh air. Come get me if they tell you anything."

Before Catherine could ask her to stay, Sara had disappeared out the automatic double doors in the front of the emergency room. Trying to fight tears, Catherine pulled her feet onto her chair, wrapping her arms around her knees and laying her head down against them. She didn't feel as warm and safe with Sara gone, and in solitude, she was forced to resume the role as the worried "girl" of the relationship, one which she gave up every so often when Sara began to crack under pressure. Tears stung her eyes again, and she allowed them to fall, ignoring the cold wetness falling on her legs, consumed with fear and worry, not only for her child, but her lover as well.

Outside, Sara found a hidden area of the hospital, unlit and grassy, against one of the side walls. Sinking into the grass, her back against the building, she allowed herself to indulge in some self-pity and grief, falling apart where she couldn't inconvenience Catherine with her worries and fears. She knew Catherine was upset, they both loved Samantha to pieces, but she couldn't get rid of the feeling that Catherine couldn't experience the pain she felt, the pain of knowing that someone who came from her own flesh and blood, was in pain, broken and alone, away from her parents and the people who loved her. She imagined what Sami would feel like when she woke up, the thoughts running through her head when she fell. Was she scared? Did she try to break her fall? Did she feel remorseful for breaking the "open window" rule? Did she wonder how badly she'd be hurt? Did she feel scared and alone until she slipped into unconsciousness, or was she knocked out on impact? Did she have a chance to hurt? Could she feel pain now, even in her unconscious form? What did she look like? How bad would she feel when she woke up? Would she hate her parents for not being with her the whole time? Could she feel that they weren't there?

Possible answers to these questions plagued her as she sobbed into her hands, gasping for air as she began to hyperventilate, unable to control herself and her emotions, which were spinning out of control faster than ever before.

Sara wasn't sure how long she was outside, but the next thing she knew, Catherine was kneeling in front of her, grief evident on her face, sobbing openly as she grabbed Sara's arms, "Baby..."

To Be Continued

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