DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS.
SPOILERS: Reference made to the episode "Kiss- Kiss, Bye-Bye"
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Anatomy of an Affliction
By Ann


The Cold

Pulling back from the microscope, I rub my overworked red eyes. I am so tired of fighting these damn cold symptoms. You would think I would have cleared the hurdle by now, but the lingering effects are making it extremely difficult to concentrate.

Clearing my throat for the umpteenth time today, I decide to take a break and try to find some relief. I read somewhere tea with lemon is supposed to help a sore throat so I make my way to the break room to give it a shot. Speaking of shots, if this doesn't work, I'm willing to add a little whiskey to the mix. A hot toddy sure sounds nice right about now.

I discover my ears must be stopped up as well since I don't hear Brass come into the room until he says "Hey, Sara. How's it going?" I squeeze the lemon in my tea and add a little sweetener before replying "Just fine, Jim. How's the case coming?"

Sighing, he responds "Not so good at the moment." Brass takes a seat and watches me make my drink before adding "You sound like you are coming down with a cold. Maybe you should take some time off or at least clock out for the night."

Oh no, I am not going to let a little cold get me down. There's no way I'm going to miss work because I'm not feeling one hundred percent. Instead, I answer "Thanks for your concern, but I'm fine. I just need to get this tea down and maybe take a couple of Tylenol."

Jim, as usual, won't let things go so he continues with his papa bear routine. "Are you sure? We don't need for you to come down with the flu because you didn't take proper care of yourself. How long have you been feeling ill?"

Aargghh, I don't need a keeper. I appreciate the concern, but people continue to work despite feeling a bit under the weather all the time. Putting on a fake smile, I reply "Jim, I'm okay, really. I've had this cold for several days now so I should be getting over it pretty soon. I'm sure I've already experienced the worst of it."

Jim shakes his head and says "Okay, if you're sure. I just hope you don't give it to anyone else. If you're around someone in close quarters, it only takes a day or two for the other person to catch it." Pausing, he adds "You know, now that I think about it, Sofia started showing cold symptoms this afternoon. In fact, she was looking pretty pale when I last saw her. I think I'll head back to the office to send her home for tonight and tomorrow before she can infect anyone. See you later, Sara. Hope you feel better soon."

The minute Jim walks out; I pull my cell phone off my hip and dial Grissom direct. He had been bugging me to take a few days off as well. As soon as he answers, I respond "Grissom, I'm not feeling well so I think I'll take your earlier advice about taking some time off to get over this cold. A couple of days should do the trick. I'll leave all my notes on your desk." He readily agrees so I quickly hang up before he can change his mind.

I look forward to spending some uninterrupted time with Sofia. Even though we're both not feeling up to par, a little snuggling should provide the perfect medicine.

Who says misery doesn't love company?


The Flu

I leave my case files on Grissom's desk as promised and am almost to the parking lot when my cell phone rings. Assuming it is Sofia, I answer without looking at the caller id. Damn it, I really should have taken the time to look. "Grissom, you have already approved my time off and I'm on my way out as we speak. What? ....Where's Warrick? ...Nick? ...Greg? ....Oh, all right, but I am leaving from the scene to go straight home." I close my cell and head for the Denali thankful I didn't answer with my usual "Hey, baby."

Catherine is waiting for me outside the bedroom of Lois O'Neill and apologizes for the inconvenience. As we make our way into the very spacious dressing closet, she explains Grissom needed Warrick at another scene and wouldn't let her run the scene alone with such a high priority case and the connection to Sam Braun. I tell her it's not her fault Grissom is so anal. She snorts a laugh while adding "You've got that right." We immediately begin taking inventory of the dresses and jewelry.

Catherine and I work well together so after about an hour we have everything we need. Brass comes in while Catherine and I are bagging the evidence and offers to accompany Catherine back to CSI headquarters. It makes me wonder about this Sam Braun connection, but I'll leave that for another day. Jim insists I go straight home, take some meds, and hit the sack. I assure him I will do exactly as he says; however, I don't mention the side trip I intend to take. As I'm heading to the SUV, he mentions he sent Sofia home and surprisingly, she didn't protest.

I call Sofia's apartment and cell and they both go to voicemail. I have to admit I'm starting to get a little worried. Sofia always answers her home phone. Maybe she went by the pharmacy to get some cold medicine. I pick up my speed a little as I travel toward the apartment.

I knock on the door, but there is no answer. Sofia's car is in its parking space so I know she's home. We have recently traded keys with the 'in the case of an emergency excuse' even though we both know the real reason. I think we're both scared knowing how much we feel for each other this early in our relationship. I never thought I would use the key for an actual emergency, but a no answer constitutes one for me.

I enter the apartment and close the door. The lights are off, but there is a glow coming from under the bathroom door. I approach and knock softly calling Sofia's name. I hear what sounds like a groan as I open the door. Sofia is lying on the floor curled up in a ball. Her face is flushed and she is sweating profusely.

Quickly wetting a washcloth, I sit down on the floor beside her. I pull her into my lap and wipe her face with the cold rag saying "Baby, this is more than a cold. I'm afraid you may have the flu. C'mon we need to get you to bed." She doesn't answer, but instead burrows her head into my chest. After a few minutes, I am able to get her up and we walk to the bedroom as she leans heavily against me.

I help her take off her shoes and pants before placing her under the covers. I go back to the bathroom in search of a thermometer. When I return, she is shivering so I place another blanket on the bed as I take her temperature. I stroke her hair and try to reassure her. "Everything is going to be okay. I'm going to stay here and take care of you." I remove the thermometer when it beeps. It reads 101.1°."

After a moment's hesitation, I call Doc Robbins to get some advice. Sofia would flip if she knew I consulted a coroner, but he's the only doctor I know. He told me to make sure she drinks plenty of fluids and to try Zicam® Cold and Flu. Doc said it should run its course, but if her temperature spikes to bring her to the ER. I thank him and head back to my patient.

Sofia appears to be sleeping so I decide to run to the drug store while she rests. I hate to disturb her, but I need to tell her where I'm going in case she wakes up alone. Gently, I place my hand on her cheek and call her name softly. She opens her eyes and looks up at me with a dazed expression. I explain that I'm going to run down the street to get some medicine and also stop by the store for some food and drink supplies. When she doesn't reply, I assume she understands so I get up to leave.

Sofia immediately reaches out for me and whimpers "Please don't leave me. I'm so cold." Reassuring her, I respond "Shh. It's okay. I'll lay here with you until you fall asleep, then I'll go get the supplies." She seems to be okay with this idea so I have her turn on her side as I lay behind her spooning her. After several minutes, her breathing evens out and she begins to softly snore. I wait another few minutes before I gently extract myself from our embrace. With a kiss to her cheek, I leave to run my errands.

I return in record time. Finding everything I needed at the drug store, I was able to forego a trip to the supermarket. I also picked up a few things for myself. I am almost over this stupid cold and can't afford to relapse with Sofia being so sick.

I unload my purchases into the refrigerator and pantry. I pour some juice into a glass, get the Zicam®, and head for Sofia's room. She is still on her side, but she sounds a bit congested. I coax her to wake up long enough to take the meds and drink the juice. I notice her shirt is soaking wet so I peel it off along with her bra. Sofia clings to me muttering "Cold. I'm so cold. Please warm me up." I stand up, strip down to my underwear, and crawl into bed with her. I thought I would put into practice the skin on skin theory.

I awaken several hours later to a very nice sensation in my lower region. It takes me a few minutes to get my bearings and then I realize Sofia is becoming restless in her sleep. Every time she moves, her delicious ass rubs against my center. I hug her tightly to me and softly sing to her. After a few moments, she relaxes into a peaceful sleep. Now, I am the one in distress. To hell with this cold, I slip from the bed to take a shower, a very cold shower.

Feeling refreshed, I go to the kitchen to take my cold tablets and find something to eat. I heat up a can of vegetarian soup and brew some tea. I find a tray and take my food into the den. Turning on the TV, I try to find something worth watching. Leno and Letterman are on, but I'm not in the mood. I flip around a few times before settling on a marathon of "Law and Order: SVU" on the USA channel.

I watch a couple of episodes before deciding to check on Sofia. She has thrown off the covers but seems to be soundly sleeping. She rolls over and sprawls across the bed still in a deep sleep. The light from the window highlights her attributes nicely. She is so beautiful. I can't believe she chooses to be with me.

I go back into the den, turn off the TV, and return the tray to the kitchen. It's definitely time for me to get some sleep. I debate whether I should sleep on the couch since Sofia is resting comfortably; however, I decide to return to the bed. You never know, Sofia may need me during the night and also the vision of her lying naked in bed is too much to pass up. I quietly crawl back in bed and feel her forehead to check for fever. She seems cool to the touch so maybe we caught this one time. I lay back on the pillow and Sofia immediately migrates to me and latches on.

I sleep soundlessly and awaken to daylight coming through the blinds. I glance at the clock and am surprised to read 9:00 a.m. I can't remember when I slept this late. Sofia is sprawled on top of me with her head on my chest. I lightly stroke her back and she hugs me tightly. I begin with "Good morning, sunshine. How are you feeling today?" She just moans and mumbles something unintelligible. I grin and ask her to please repeat that last bit.

She turns her head and says, "Sara, my gun is locked in the hall closet. Will you please take the key and get it for me? Or better yet, will you just shoot me and put me out of my misery?" I smile and reply "No can do. Let's get you up and into the bath. You will feel much better and then we'll get some more liquid into you." She groans and increases her grip on me.

Sofia is very weak, but we manage to get her into the tub. I crawl into the tub with her as merely a safety precaution. After all, it is my responsibility to be sure she doesn't slip under the water and drown, isn't it? Besides, it is the only way to convince her that the bath would be good for her.

She leans back against me with her head on my shoulder while I gently wash her. We have never taken a shower or bath together and I must admit this is a very erotic experience. I make a mental note to repeat this activity when she's feeling better.

Clearing my wayward thoughts, I manage to wash and rinse her hair without getting soap in her eyes. I get out of the tub first and dry off then I steady Sofia on the edge while I dry her off. We blow dry her hair and I help her get on a pair of lightweight sweat pants and a t-shirt.

"Sara, you are a lifesaver. I don't remember much of yesterday afternoon or last night, but I know I felt safe and well cared for. I would have probably died on the bathroom floor." I smile and respond "Baby, you would do the same for me and you would not have died. You probably would have felt like it though." I get a slap on the shoulder for the last remark.

Together, we head for the kitchen. Sofia seems to feel better after her bath. I just have to make sure she doesn't overdo it. I pour her a glass of juice and dole out some more medicine. She takes both with no complaint which is an indication she is still not up to par.

Knowing how important it is for her to keep up her strength, I say "Sofia, I'll brew you some hot tea. Do you think you could eat a piece of toast with it?" She starts to reply no, but takes one look at my expression and gamely decides to give it a try.

I've finally gotten her settled on the couch. There was no way she was getting back in the bed so I didn't try to argue with her. She was able to eat the toast and tea so hopefully it will stay down.

Much to my amazement, I find that I'm feeling much better as well. I don't know if my improvement is due to the cold running its course or because I knew I had to be strong to take care of Sofia. Regardless, I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Pleased with both of our progress, I call Grissom and request another night off. With all the sick leave I've accumulated, he agreed without an argument. I give Brass a call as well to fill him in on Sofia's condition. He had already written her down for the rest of the week.

As I sit here watching Sofia sleep, I realize I am in a position I have never been in before. My work is no longer number one in my life. I did not believe anything or anyone else would ever be as important to me as the job. I was wrong. My priority is right here in front of me.

I get up and lie on the couch with Sofia. When she wakes up, I'm going to tell her exactly what she means to me. I'm going to tell her I love her.


The Recovery

It's almost been a week and Sofia is finally returning to work tomorrow night. Since she's been sick, I have made her apartment my home even when I returned to work. Now that she has recovered and doesn't need me anymore, I decide to return to my own apartment. I left her this morning with the excuse of having to wash clothes and go to the store. I told her I'd call and check on her before work.

Staying busy most of the day, I try to keep my mind off Sofia. I have given in a few times and called her apartment, but there was no answer. Before I left her apartment, she had promised to stay home and rest today. Where the hell is she?

I'm too damn stubborn to call her cell. Besides, I don't want her thinking I have to know where she is every minute. Damn it, doesn't she realize I worry about her and care for her?

Of course she doesn't because I am the world's biggest coward. I never did tell her how I feel or that I love her. I got scared and couldn't make myself say the words. I kept telling myself it's too soon to say anything. I thought I would scare her off, and I couldn't bear not having her in my life.

My thoughts are interrupted by Grissom informing me that he needs me to come in a little early to help on a case. It will be too late to call Sofia when I return to the lab from the crime scene so I guess I'll try again tomorrow.

I finally return home at 9:00 a.m. I immediately crawl into bed with thoughts of calling Sofia when I awaken. I sleep soundly until 3:30 p.m. My sleep pattern has been erratic this week so I guess I needed the rest.

After getting a cup of coffee, I dial Sofia and let the phone ring until I hear the voicemail. I decide not to leave a message. I'll try again in a couple of hours.

I log onto my computer to work on some case research. Work always keeps me busy, and more importantly, my mind off the clock. I end up working for a couple of hours and decide to stop when the words begin to blur on the screen. It's at this point, I realize I'm crying. I log off and head to the kitchen for a bottled water. What the hell is wrong with me?

Sofia. Sofia is what is wrong with me. I miss our time together. I miss sleeping with her. I miss her.

A knock on the door brings me out of my contemplations. I peer through the peephole to see Sofia on the other side with a bottle of wine and what looks like take out. I open the door and step back for her to enter. She kisses me on the cheek as she moves into the kitchen. I follow to see her getting the plates out of the cabinet. I stand there dumbfounded not saying a word.

She smiles at me and says "Sara, I want to thank you for taking care of me all week. I brought some Chinese and a nice bottle of wine. C'mon, let's eat while it's hot."

I return her smile and sit down at the table. Sofia opens the wine and pours us a small glass. She talks about how excited she is to be going back to work as we eat our meal. When we've finished our meal, she tells me to go sit down in the den and she'll take care of the dishes.

I start to reply and decide against it. I go into the den and take a seat on the couch. I can't believe she's here. I don't want either of us to go to work. I want to stay here and enjoy each other. These thoughts lead to more tears. Damn it, I have got to get control of myself.

Sofia comes in as I am wiping the last of the tears from my cheek. She immediately wraps me in her arms and asks what's wrong. This seems to make the dam burst and Sofia continues to hold me tight while murmuring words of reassurance.

When I finally get some control, I pull back and apologize. Sofia looks at me with a concerned expression and again asks what's wrong.

Needing some distance, I stand up and move across the room. With my back to her and arms wrapped around myself, I respond "Sofia, I missed you. I called you and you weren't home and I got worried that something had happened."

From my body language, Sofia has decided to stay where she is but replies "Sara, I'm sorry I worried you, but it wasn't until around noon today that I remembered you had unplugged the phones because you didn't want me disturbed while I was sick."

After a brief hesitation, she asks "Why didn't you call my cell?" I can only shrug my shoulders in response. Sofia adds "I'm sorry I wasn't there to answer your call this afternoon. I went to find the wine and to pick up the take out. I wanted to thank you for all you've done for me and I thought it would be a nice surprise. I didn't mean to upset you."

Images of my past relationships flash before my eyes at the mention of thanking me. Almost all of my failed relationships have ended with those exact words as my lovers had tried to let me down gently. I don't think I can take this sort of rejection from Sofia.

Pulling my arms around myself more tightly, I softly say "Sofia, I can't do this anymore." When she doesn't respond, I turn to see her walking toward the door. She is turning the knob and will soon be walking out the door and out of my life.

I slide to the floor crying out "Sofia, wait. Don't go. Don't leave me. I love you. I love you." I keep repeating my mantra until I feel arms wrap around me from behind. I grasp onto her arms with my hands and hold on with every bit of strength I have.

She brings her lips to my ear whispering, "Sara, I love you too."

As I lie here in Sofia's arms, I briefly reflect on a life fraught with an endless series of sufferings and trials, and I come to a stunning realization.

After all this time, I have finally found the cure for my afflicted life in the form of this beautiful blond detective.

The End

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