DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: If Sara dies, 26 people asked for the following resolution to the season finale in my silly little poll .
SPOILERS: For the Season Seven finale - Living Doll
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Always Something
By Ann


I'd never believed all those times I'd heard about how life passed before one's eyes when death was imminent. Damned if it wasn't true though. My problem was there was so much life to reflect back on that I'd been lying here for the past hour, watching my life unfold in front of me. Reliving my youth certainly wasn't something I'd ever enjoyed, and seeing it once again, in Technicolor no less, had me grasping at the wet sand with renewed vigor. I knew it was hopeless, that I'd never manage to pull myself free from this well-devised trap, but I still had to try. After all, I didn't think I'd be able to escape the horrors of my childhood either. Only this time, I was sure of my fate; there wouldn't be an escape. I was going to die out here in the desert, lost and alone.

I'd made so many mistakes throughout my life, but none of them came close to the colossal errors I'd made since I came to Vegas. One stupid error in judgment after another had kept me from being happy, but more importantly, from being loved. Each and every time the opportunity came my way, something would occur to derail my chances. More often than not, that something was me.

Well, except for the Hank incident, that was totally his fault, although, I did blame myself for being taken in by his lies and deceit. I'd just wanted to have someone of my own, seeing as how I couldn't have the someone I desired. Little did I know, I'd had a chance with that someone, too.

You see, something good did come out of my breakup with Hank, and that something was Catherine. She'd taken me to a bar to drown my sorrows, and one thing had led to another, until the next thing I knew, we were having sex in the back of the Denali while it was still parked in the bar's lot. Thankfully, it was at the far end of the lot because the way the truck was rocking, we'd have certainly gained someone's attention.

Years of sexual frustration came to a head that day, and afterwards, we'd continued our little liaisons at least twice a week; sometimes at her place, but usually at mine. Things were going great until we both started to feel more, and that was something I just couldn't handle. So, another something got in the way once again, and that something was me.

From that moment on, I'd made sure to pick a fight with her whenever the situation called for it, and then I'd gotten to the point where I'd pick a fight just for the sake of doing it. It'd certainly done the trick. Catherine had told me in very graphic terms exactly what I could do with myself and to myself; however, I was pretty sure that what she'd proposed wasn't humanly possible to do. She did calm down months later, and we'd finally started having civil conversations again.

In fact, it's only recently, we'd become friends again. Neither of us had ever mentioned our previous relationship, we'd just started to be more friendly around each other until we'd eventually achieved a degree of comfortableness. And now, this lunatic had ruined everything. Something always seemed to come around and knock my feet out from under me.

Speaking of which, Sofia's return certainly awoke something in me I'd not thought I was capable of, not lust, but more of a longing or a need. It frightened me so badly; I grabbed hold of the safest person I could find, Grissom. Being with him gave me the strength I needed to resist the temptation to pursue her. I'd have only messed things up; something surely would've happened to destroy any hopes of a longtime relationship with her, and that's exactly what I wanted, a lifetime with Sofia.

I couldn't help but chuckle at the irony of my situation. Grissom was the reason I was stuck in this death trap. Grissom, the supposedly safe bet, was going to be the cause of my death; not some jealous boyfriend of Catherine's running me over with his car or some ex-convict blowing my brains out to get back at Sofia. Who'd have thought my life would be in danger simply because I was involved with Gil Grissom?

Of course, it stood to reason that some psychopath would fixate on Grissom. The whole miniature killer case had really gotten to me, especially since Grissom became so possessed with the whole thing. He even went so far as to build his own miniature scale model of his office; how sick was that? Maybe if he'd stayed away longer on his sabbatical, things would be different. Maybe I'd have finally found the courage to go after what I truly wanted.

Lost in my own thoughts, my words surprised me with their loudness.

"Oh, Sara, you should've taken a chance with Sofia."

As usual, the words came much too late. Leave it to me to speak my heart when the object of my confession wasn't around to hear. I was going to die with the knowledge that I'd allowed my fears to keep me from my true desire. If only there was some way to let Sofia know how I felt, at least I'd have the satisfaction of knowing that I'd died an honest death instead of a perpetrated lie. Grissom deserved to learn the truth just as much as Sofia. I needed for him to know the truth. If only I could find the means to let them both know.

By dawn, the rain had stopped and, thankfully, so had the 'welcome to your life, Sara Sidle' video. I was certain that I'd suffer horribly today under the unforgiving desert sun. Perhaps God would be merciful and allow me to simply fall asleep, never to wake again. I closed my eyes and willed myself to drift off, but my lingering thoughts wouldn't be still. The need to tell Sofia my feelings overwhelmed me; until I could convey my message, my will wouldn't let me go gently into that good night, or in this case, that sure to be unbearable day.

I clenched my hand in frustration, frowning when the gooey mud surface seemed more stable; the early morning sun already beginning to dry the wet sand. As I lifted my fingers from the earth, I noted the indentations left behind. Smiling, I knew I'd found a way.

Quickly wiping a clean space, I began my confession as I struggled to reach towards the sand, each stroke of my finger becoming more and more difficult. It seemed that the pressure from the car was affecting the nerve endings in my arm. Not to be denied, I continued to draw in the dampened earth, and soon, I completed my message, moving my hand carefully to the side so as not to disturb my writing.

I focused on the spot until it became harder and harder, my words setting firmly with each passing minute. As the sun moved overhead, the ground had become completely dry, leaving my message imprinted in the sand. I smiled once again, despite the pain working its way up my spine and the insufferable heat causing my head to feel as if it were about to explode. I read the letters etched into the dried ground once more, and then allowed my eyes to close.

Grissom would learn the truth, but more importantly, Sofia would know why I'd kept her at arm's length. She'd finally learn why I'd ignored the chemistry between us, and why I'd voluntarily fallen into Grissom's waiting arms.

What seemed like hours later, I felt myself floating somewhere between here and there, and there was looking so much better. My thoughts were so jumbled, I wasn't sure of what was real and what was imagined. The pull to allow myself to drift away becoming too great, I slowly relaxed; the dried mud on my finger assuring me that it was okay to let go.

Now, I could allow myself to give into the pain; now, I could allow myself to drift away into nothingness.

And so, without any regrets, I . . .

The End

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