DISCLAIMER: Zuiker, CBS, etc. pp. They are not mine. Regrettably. I'm just playing awhile on weekends and while I'm on holiday. I don't have lots of spare time, so consider this a one time offense.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is me, going "huh?!" First, let me explain. I love CSI, I very muched loved the fifth season with all the changes in the team going on. And I was thrilled to have Sofia become somewhat regular. Fine woman that, funny and with brains too. And vulnerable. And good-looking. And... okay, made my point. Anyway, I very much enjoyed the flirting between Sara/Sofia. Many great new fanfics to come, I thought. And they were. With me happily reading. Thanks to all you writers out there. Then came season six. With Sofia still being there. Whoopie. Enjoying some more. But then episode eight comes along and I go "Huh?! When did they split up? When did that happen? When did they get together? Sara? What have you done? What did she do to you? Sofia, my poor baby..." pretend I'm rambling on for a few more pages. So, with nobody explaining to me what exactly happened to those two lovelies and when, I came up with this story.
SPOILERS: Mmmh. If you know who Sofia Curtis is, I assume you have a general idea about what happened with the team in season five. Hopefully you know the ending of that season and what became of Sofia in season six. I'm trying to be not too specific though, except with episodes 6.07 and 6.08 ("A bullet runs through it") which started everything off. So if you haven't watched those two, you should probably put off reading, until you did.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Beyond Cause and Effect - Sofia
"You got a minute?" Sofia Curtis stepped into the office where her boss, her new boss, was standing in front of some glass jars, taking inventory.
"Sure." Grissom nodded, not turning around. "You did a nice job on the case."
She smiled ruefully. "I, uh ... I just wanted you to know that I've enjoyed working with you."
At the tone of her voice, Gill turned, considering what Sofia meant. "Well, I've enjoyed working with you as well."
"No, it's time I made a change. I don't like the direction the lab's headed."
What was that about, Grissom wondered, taking off his glasses. "You mean Ecklie? You can't pay any attention to him."
She shook her head. "No, you got a good team, but I was a supervisor. My demotion was undeserved, and every day I'm here, I'm reminded of that." When Grissom did not reply, Sofia became irritated. "What?"
"Well..." he simpled looked at her. "... someone once said, 'What we are never changes, but who we are... never stops changing'."
Sofia had to smile. Count on Grissom, to beat her with her own words. She was going to miss the man.
He smiled too. "Let's have dinner, shall we?"
Dinner with the new boss? She nodded towards the door. "Sure, just let me grab my coat." Sofia supplied. They left his office and she turned towards the break room where she had left her things while looking for Grissom. The room was almost empty with only Greg playing around with the coffee machine. "Whatch're doing?" she asked while picking up her stuff.
"It's the temperature." Greg answered.
"The biggest secret of making good coffee: the water temperature." Greg looked up from his task and smiled. "The water has to be really cooking, otherwise you'll only filter out the bitter stuff but not the tasty one. This machine has been cooling down, I'm trying to fix it."
"Good idea." Sofia smiled putting on her coat. "I like your coffee and if it gets even better..."
"If you like really good coffee... I know this place where they make absolutely phantastic lattés and moccas, you wanna drop by after I finished this?"
"Love to, but not today." Sofia replied. "I'm having dinner with Grissom."
Greg looked up, almost speechless. "Oh, the great silent one? I hope the food is at least good. I know this diner..."
"If it's not, we can check out a place you like tomorrow." She laughed at him, leaving the breakroom.
"Then I hope it's tasteless." He yelled after her, grinning madly and turning back to the coffee machine.
Neither the food nor the company had been tasteless. Sofia was actually surprised how a man as obnoxious as Gil Grissom could be such a charming dinner companion. They even flirted a little. If things had been different, she might have considered asking him out on a date but he was her boss, at least for now. "And I'd rather have a friend then a lover at the moment." Sofia thought while setting up another search routine at the computer. As she had told Sara Sidle a few weeks ago, she still did not feel trusted. There was Greg of course. Of all the CSI at night shift he was the only one who had welcomed her with an open heart and mind. In some ways he was like the kid brother she never had. Going out for breakfast once or twice a week after shift, had become a habit they both quite enjoyed. Every now and then Nick Stokes or Warrick Brown joined them, but they were still a bit distant towards her. Sofia was sure they did not blame her for breaking up the team, but they were doing swing shift now, so there was little to no interaction between their team and hers. Now Willows was a different matter. Catherine actually did blame her. Or maybe not so much as blame but considering her the "disrupting factor" which started everything off. Sofia was trying to behave professionally towards the older woman, handing her reports in on time, being polite. But with Catherine Willows she was never sure how to react. "Moody woman." Sofia decided. "Definetely no friend material there." Which left Sara Sidle. Intelligent, nice looking, good CSI, but extremely private, almost secluded. Though every time they worked a case together her and Sara shared some friendly banter which actually gave Sofia hope. "Liquid assets, my ass. I had tougher nuts to crack." she thought smiling. "Maybe I should give that one a try." And with a slight nod the blonde pressed print on the computer which had finally come up with some results.
"Wanna go grab a beer?"
Sara's first instinct was to say "no".
"Greg's coming too." Sofia offered casually leaning against the lab door. "There's a new diner down the block."
"No." Sara replied, concentrating on the puzzle of broken glass in front of her. "Thanks, but I want to finish this."
Sofia stepped a bit closer, examining the pieces leisurely. "You do realize there's more to life than work, do you?" She teased softly.
"I've heard that rumour." Sara smiled despite herself.
"If you want to find out if it's true you should..." Sofia paused, picking up one of the fragments and placing it next to another. "...join us some day. Huh. There." She winked at Sara triumphantly.
As the weeks got by, Sofia settled into the new routine. She still missed sleeping at night, but she enjoyed the new freedom under Grissom's supervision. With Ecklie everything had to be strictly by protocol, reports sometimes more important than evidence. The clear up rate was much higher at night shift though, with everyone meticulously following every trace, every hunch which could lead to the solvement of a crime, even using unconventional methods every now and then. Passion was the driving force behind the team. Passion for science, compassion for the victims. No wonder Ecklie had tried to break them up, himself being a more dry and unemotional kind of person. Which left Sofia somewhere stuck in the middle. She was a good CSI, that much she knew. But she also knew she lacked the passion for the science part of the job. She was glad LVMPD allowed their CSI to be part of witness interviews and more general crime investigation. Seeing a perp starting to squirm when faced with the evidence of his or her crime, getting them to admit to the truth, made her feel good about her work. On a more personal level Sofia was on a standstill. She had gone out to dinner with Grissom two or three times which was always fun. She loved to tease the man while still keeping up with the intellecutal challenges he sometimes presented her with. Once they had been joined by Jim Brass who reminded her of a younger version of her father. Grissom had surprised her by telling Brass that she was looking for a job with the "real" cops, as he had called it. The captain and her got along well and the evening ended with the elder man promising to keep her informed if a position opened up.
Life could have been perfect if it wasn't for the slight irritation Sofia felt everytime she worked with the only other female of her shift: Sara Sidle. They got along well, no question about that. Often they shared ideas on a case, happily throwing back and forth possible crime scene scenarios, coming up with the same solution. But Sofia couldn't shake off the feeling that there was more to their banter and seemingly innocent flirtations. Not that she minded. The lanky brunette fascinated her. A feeling that seemed to be mutual. Once or twice she had been sure the other woman was checking her out. And the looks she threw in her direction when the blonde was talking to Gil spoke volumes. Of what though, Sofia wasn't sure. She had heard the rumours of Sara's crush on Grissom of course. Thanks to Hodges. But she somehow couldn't shake the feeling that that particular crush was over. Not that she hadn't tried to find out herself. But getting Sara alone, hopefully in a more private setting had been next to impossible. Which was kind of bad, because Sofia found the other woman becoming more intriguing every day. "Okay then," she decided. "I'll give it one last try if she still says no, I'll give up."
Sara was hunched over the scope again when a shadow appeared at the lab door. She pretended to be completely immersed in her work when in reality she braced herself for the inevitable question.
"Feel like doing something?"
Sofia almost never disappointed. It was the second time this week and the umptieth time since the blonde had switched to nights two months ago. Sara couldn't say for sure, why she always brushed the other woman off. Except that somehow she felt safer not going out with the attractive blonde. During shift she couldn't help the flirtatious remarks that crept into their conversations, but after shift... she was determined to keep a lid on her confusing feelings. Even if Greg Sanders was joining them as chaperone. Still Sofia seemed to be oblivious to her brush-offs. Sara could only admire her perseverance. "Is Greg coming?"
"Haven't asked him." Sofia chuckled. "Why? Do you need back-up?"
"No." Sara still hadn't looked up and Sofia found it difficult to say whether Sara answered to her first or last question. She decided to ignore it altogether. "How does dinner and a movie sound?"
"Like a date." Sara mumbled, not realizing that the blonde heard her.
"Let me rephrase then: how does pizza, beer and a dvd sound?"
This time Sara did look up. "At your place?"
"Too intimate?" Sofia tried not to look smug. "Well... we can always go to your place but then I intend to drink a lot of beer and I wouldn't be able to drive home and would have to sleep over and I bet then I'd be invading your privacy even more."
Sara still did not smile. "You don't give up, do you?"
"No." Sofia simply stated. Then she extended her hand and made a come hither motion. "Now move, we still have to pick up a pizza."
It had taken almost two hours getting Sara to finally relax on Sofia's couch. First they had gotten some beer, then it took them ages to agree on pizza toppings with the blonde insisting that she'd die without pepperoni while Sara was trying to sell her some meatless hot pepperoncinis as the same thing. In the end they decided to take two smaller ones and not split.
When they reached Sofia's apartment, Sara was surprised. Not that she had expected anything special, but the place looked warm and cozy, though the blonde had mentioned she rarely spent time at home. There seemed to be one bedroom and a living room with build in kitchenette. The main colors were royal blue and off white, matching Sofia's eyes which Sara noted distractedly while perusing the DVDs.
The blonde was putting the sixpacks into the refrigerator, leaving two bottles on the counter. "Found something?" she asked, pulling out plates and napkins for the pizza.
"I don't know." Sara answered, looking at the covers, every now and then picking one and reading it. "There's a lot of kids stuff here. Disney, Nemo..."
"Yeah, weird I know." Sofia said with a smile putting their food on the couch table and handing Sara her beer. "But I find them most relaxing after dealing with crime on a daily basis... or nightly as it is."
She stepped closer to the brunette. "Let's see what have you got?"
Sara held up the cover of the DVD she had been looking at. "Goonies?"
"Good choice, that's a classic."
When the blonde's optimism was only shared by a sceptical look, she grinned, opened the case and put the disc in the player. "It's got secrets, hidden treasures, a lot of action, sinister psychopaths and a chase scene. Perfect CSI movie."
"Psychopaths?" Sara plopped down on the couch next to the other woman. "Didn't you say it was a kids film?"
"Yes. Now shut up and enjoy."
At first it had been strange. It took Sara the first half of the movie to relax, childhood not being her favorite memory. But Sofia had been correct, the naivitee and fun of the simple children's film was relaxing. More so, than watching science documentaries or reading scientific journals. It had been a good choice to take the woman up on her offer.
"So?" Sofia asked, when the film was over." Did you like it?"
"No love interest." Sara deadpanned.
"I didn't know you were into that." The blonde smiled, getting up and over to the fridge. "If I had known, I would have picked something real mushy. Another beer?"
"Thanks, I shouldn't. Why do you say that?"
"Because you only had two and look like you need a third."
"Not that." Sara smiled.
"I know. Here." Sofia sat down again, handing her a new bottle, which Sara took without thinking. "I don't know about you but I feel that our line of work leaves little room for romance."
"Too little time."
"No, it's not that, it's the attitude."
Sara chuckled slightly. "Yeah, nothing works better on a first date than talking about blood and trace evidence."
"There's that." Sofia plopped back on the couch. "But I was thinking more about our attitude."
Sara gave the blonde a puzzled look.
"How many happy couples have you met since you're with the CSI?"
"And how many tragic relationships? Jealous lovers who kill, ex-husbands on a rampage, abusive lovers?"
Sara nodded slowly. "I see your point."
"It's not them, it's us. We forgot how to trust people."
"Maybe." The brunette provided thoughtfully. "But all those people you talk about... don't you think they trusted each other at one point?"
"True." Sofia conceded taking a deep swallow from her bottle. "But we only ever see the dark side. That's why I like those movies. They remind me of how it can be. How it should be." She paused, not looking at Sara. The silence stretched but for some reason it did not feel uncomfortable. "I'm sorry." Sofia smiled apologetically. "Here I am dragging you down, when I'm supposed to cheer you up."
"You are? Supposed to cheer me up, I mean?" Sara gave the blonde a teasing grin. "The invitation only said pizza, beer and a movie."
"Ah, but then you haven't read the fine print. See..." Sofia held up an imaginery card and pointed to it. "...right below: R.S.V.P. hostess promises to be cheerfull at all times."
"Quite a promise."
"Yup, I'm big on that. Always making promises." She dropped back on the couch again, taking another sip from her bottle. "Wish I could keep them just as easily."
They lapsed into silence again. It was strange spending time with Sofia, Sara thought. She had envisioned her more... what? Flirtatious? Vibrant? Optimistic? She couldn't think of a word. Self-assured maybe. Content. This didn't sound like it. "Sofia? Can I ask you something?"
"Sure." The blonde moved up a bit, pulling one leg under the other, facing the brunette.
"Why did you stay?" Sara shrugged her shoulders. "I don't mean to pry or anything but I got the impression you..."
"...wanted to leave? After switching to nights? I know, these rumours got around." The blonde wasn't the least bit uncomfortable with the question.
"Grissom." That one word answer led to a whole new set of questions, Sara wasn't prepared to ask.
When nothing else was forthcoming, Sofia grinned. "You can ask me." She said, bumping her shoulder against Sara's. "I promise, I won't snap at you."
"After you just told me, you don't keep promises? No way."
Sofia laughed. "I promise to keep this one then... Which is kind of self-contradictory really." She winked. Sara just shook her head. "Now shoot."
The brunette took another sip from her own bottle. In the end she did want to know. "Are you and Grissom..."
"No." Sofia stated forcefully, watching Sara blush, which did look kind of cute.
"You two are always flirting."
"As are we." Sofia teased softly. " And we're not together, are we?" The blush got deeper. "Rest assured I don't have a thing for authority figures. Grissom's turning out to become a good friend and he made me see that I shouldn't jump without knowing where to go first. So, I'm staying 'til something better comes along."
"So you will leave?" Though Sara tried to sound detached, a hint of disappointment and anger crept into her voice.
"Eventually." Sofia made as if to reach for the brunette's hand, but stopped midway. "Look, Sara. I'm not going to lie to you. I like my job, and I like working with you, Grissom, the whole team. But it was never what I wanted. I only stayed because Ecklie made me supervisor and now that's gone, I'd rather do what I trained for."
"Will you stay in Vegas?"
"That depends." Sofia shrugged. "I'd love to, but LVMPD doesn't have a position open."
"I see." Sara stared into space for a moment then she got up, moving to the kitchenette and placing her empty bottle next to the others on the counter. She counted eight. No way, she could drive home now. She should have stopped a long time ago. "So this is only an interlude."
"It doesn't have to be." From the sound of her voice, Sofia must have followed her to the kitchen. "Except... if being a CSI is a precondition to us..."
"I meant your job. With the CSI. Staying in Vegas..."
"I know what you meant." Sara could feel the blonde standing right behind her. She didn't touch her though. She would never touch her, of that the brunette was sure now.
A hand on her arm made Sara turn around slowly. "Now can I ask you something?"
Sara gave the blonde a tortured half smile. "Fair is fair, I guess."
"Are you jealous of me? Because of Grissom?" At first Sara thought Sofia was teasing her again, but she only saw honest curiosity in her eyes, and a hint of something else, insecurity, maybe fear.
"Not of you, no." She shook her head slightly, looking down, avoiding Sofia's eyes.
The same hand that had held her arm lightly, moved up to gently lift Sara's chin. "I can stay, until something opens up here. I talked to Brass. He said they might have something for me in a year or so."
"A year? Isn't that a long time waiting to persue your dream?"
"If it's worth it." Sofia smiled.
"It's not." Sara shook her head, freeing herself out of the half-embrace, they had drifted into. "I should leave. It's late."
"You should stay." Sofia provided forcefully, softening her words with a tiny chuckle. "Cop or no cop yet. There's no way I'm letting you drive home."
"I'll take a cab." Sara offered, relieved that the tension she had felt only moments ago was gone.
"No way." Sofia replied instantly. "I'll take the couch."
"Don't you mean I should take the couch?"
"That's kind of you to offer, but you wouldn't get an hours sleep." The blonde said, while turning the other woman around and pushing her gently in the direction of the bedroom. "I know where all the lumps are. You, Sara Sidle...," giving the reluctant but finally smiling woman another friendly push. "...take the bed."
And with that last push Sara landed on the soft mattress. Involuntarily she closed her eyes, enjoying the feeling, taking in the texture of the bed spread, the smell, Sofia's smell. She opened her eyes again. The blonde was leaning against the door frame, watching her, with an undefinable look in her eyes. "Comfy?"
Sara pushed herself up on her elbows. She looked around the room, taking in the earthy colors, oranges and browns and yellows. So clearly different from the more cooler, organized look of the living room, yet still fitting somehow. "This is... great." She answered, referring not only to the king sized bed but to the whole room. "Didn't you say, you spent little time at home?"
"All the more reason to make it a safe haven, don't you agree?"
"Now I feel even worse for kicking you out. This bed is huge."
You can always invite me in, Sofia thought, berating herself immediately. "I know. Now move aside. I still need one of the pillows and a blanket."
"We could share." Sara mumbled, rolling over, surprising herself. Sofia looked at the brunette, who had her back turned to her. "Sure." When the other woman made no further comment, she just smiled to herself. "Okay, then. I'll just get in the bathroom first. I think I still have a new toothbrush you can use."
They both slept peacefully. No hogging the pillows, no snoring, no nightmares... no touching. When Sara woke up at six p.m., she could already hear the sounds of the coffee maker and a running shower. She got up, looking for her clothes from the morning before. Her shirt was gone and instead a fresh tank-top and matching underwear was lying on the chair next to the bed. She held the top up experimentally.
"It should fit, we're about the same size." Again Sofia was leaning against the bathroom door. This leaning thing was starting to become a habit.
"Thanks." Sara said, picking up the clothes and walking towards the bathroom.
"Did you sleep well?" The blonde asked, not making any attempt to move out of the way.
Let me see, intoxicating smell, soft blonde hair just out of reach, your breath near my skin half of the night. "Perfect. Thank you." Sara smiled.
Sofia smiled too. "You're welcome." She finally moved from the door. "Take your time. I'm not the greatest cook. Breakfast should be ready in half an hour."
Sara chuckled."Me neither." She said, entering the bathroom. "But if you don't mind leaving off the bacon, I could fix us breakfast next time."
Next time? Sofia stared at the closing door. I'll consider becoming a vegetarian if there's gonna be a next time.
There never was. It wasn't the situation with Nick Stokes that made Sofia reconsider her plan of staying in Vegas until Brass found her a job with LVMPD. It was the fall-out that came after. She did understand why Grissom wanted his team back. She also understood why he did not consider her part of this team. They had had a long talk right before her last night at graveyard. But it did hurt that nobody else seemed to even think about including her in the restructuring. Not that she had expected Warrick Brown or Catherine Willows make passionate speaches on her behalf. Stokes was out of the loop anyway, sent on a four week holiday with his family to recover from his ordeal. But when Sara didn't say a word, Sofia felt like an outsider again. Even Ecklie's offer to make her day-time supervisor again was no alternative anymore. She just needed to get away. When Sofia called her mother, strings were pulled and she got a temporary assignement with the Boulder City police department. It wasn't her dream position. Too way out in the country, a lot of rocks and mountains, small town. But they needed more officers during tourist season and it was her chance to become detective.
It was crime as usual on the night shift of the Las Vegas CSI. After three months of regrouping, getting the team together again, dealing with Nick's abduction, life had finally turned to normal. The latest case included flying cars and exploding gas in a trailer park. Grissom had his hands full as Jim Brass was just telling him about their first suspect interview in the case when he heard a familiar voice. For a moment he was stunned, looking at Brass for confirmation. The captain simply smiled.
"Detective Curtis." It was always amazing how good the night shift supervisor could mask his emotions. Sofia smiled, simply inclining her head. "Grissom."
"I thought you were supposed to be arresting people in Boulder City?" He could mask his emotions but Sofia new him well enough to see he was genuinely happy to see her.
"Ah, no." She said, looking over at Brass. "A spot opened in here. And I transfered in today."
"Surprise." The elder cop supplied, obviously proud of himself. Sofia just grinned after him, watching her new boss leave. He was the only one, who had stayed in contact with her during her absence. She was glad, he had followed up on his promise of finding her a job with LVMPD.
"Well." Grissom supplied thoughtfully. "Your mother would be proud."
She nodded, looking back at her former supervisor. "My mother made Captain. You know, I just qualified for my shield, when the Sheriff pulled my papers and volunteered me to CSI. I think my mom hated that more than I did."
Grissom looked at her thoughtfully. "You won't miss the lab, will you?"
It was a simple question but for Sofia it was filled with innuendo. She looked in the direction of the labs, almost expecting to have some of her former colleagues walking down the corridor. There was one in particular, she was looking forward to. "There's some things I'll miss."
With that she smiled at him and turned to leave. "I'll see you around."
Sofia Curtis did not know if it was pure coincedence or some bad joke when only a few hours later she was called to a scene, said particular ex-colleague was working on. It had been months since she had actually talked to Sara. In the beginning they had swapped a few messages over their machines, their respective schedules leaving little room for actual talks. But after a while Sara stopped returning Sofia's calls alltogether and the blonde just gave up. Why was it so difficult to understand that her heart lay in the more active role of being a cop instead of being a scientist? Hadn't she proven that there was more to life than trace evidence and fingerprints? At least the detective knew their working relationship wouldn't be compromised. Sara Sidle was too professional, to let her emotions get in the way. If she still had any left.
It was after the sixth ring, that the phone was picked up. Sofia had already been expecting the machine again and was silently berating herself for trying at all. Seeing each other, working together for the first time after several months of silence had been better than expected. Or worse, depending how she viewed it. Sara had been factual, polite. No hints of bitterness, underlying resentment, she even made a slight joke. If one could call her biting remark about detection a joke. But then she was also too detached, too neutral, too... Whatever it was, Sofia felt the need to talk to the other woman. Find out if anything was left of the attraction they had shared a life time ago.
"Yes?" The husky voice on the other end of the line instantly revived feelings that had been burried for a long time. But it was too late to hang up now. "Hi Sara, it's me... Sofia."
There was a long pause. Sofia hadn't known what to say when she picked up the phone to dial and now she was completely lost. "I was just calling... uh, I mean, I wanted to ask you... you weren't surprised I'm back."
There was another pause. Finally Sara answered. "Why would I? You left a message on my machine."
Sofia chuckled soundlessly. "I'm surprised you listened."
When no reply came, she became nervous. "Sara?"
"I've always listened to them." There was another lull in their conversation. It was humorous. In a really fucked up way.
"You never called back." There, she said it.
"No, I didn't."
Leave it to Sara Sidle to only state the facts. No excuses, no I was busy', no apologies, no explanation. But Sofia needed one. "Why?"
There was bound to be another pause, Sofia thought while almost missing Sara's answer. "You were gone. Nothing more to say."
Was that a question? "Well, I'm back now."
"So I noticed."
When nothing else was forthcoming, Sofia sighed. Maybe it did have been a bad idea to call the brunette. She was just about to say goodbye and hang up when Sara talked again.
"Can I ask you something?"
"Are you..." When had it become so difficult to talk? Sofia closed her eyes whishing she could see Sara's face. "...are you happy now? Being a detective and everything?"
Happy? Being a cop had been her dream. Of course she was happy. "I could be."
The blonde imagined Sara nodding to her answer. Maybe even smiling? "Why did you come back?... To Vegas?"
The pay was better. The crimes more intriguing. The town more exciting. Captain Brass asked me to. "I missed you."
Sofia hung up.
Okay, hanging up hadn't been one of her better ideas, Sofia thought later when lying in bed. The phone call in itself was... what? Unnecessary? Melodramatic? Stupid? There were a lot of words that fit, but hanging up had been plain cowardice. She was wondering if Sara would call her back which she knew she wouldn't. As hopeless as the vision of the other woman knocking at her door, demanding to talk to her. Sofia considered calling back, trying again. But what could she say, that hadn't already been said? You couldn't reach her when she was attracted to you, how are you gonna reach her now? You're not. Maybe coming back to Las Vegas had been a bad idea after all.
Thank god for small mercies. The next few weeks had Sofia on day shift. Which was okay with her. Most of the CSI she worked with were either from day or swing shift, with a lot of new faces and few old ones. Though the CSI department had been restructured again after Sofia had left, it seemed as if this time Ecklie had not demoted anyone. Catherine Willows was still supervisor of swing shift and Sofia noted with surprise that their former antagonism seemed forgotten. Now that she herself was on the other side of the lab, Catherine was actually getting along quite well with her. Okay, every now and then the woman would overstep her boundaries as CSI, investigating where a cop should do the work. But then, Sofia thought, who am I to deny her the freedom I enjoyed when still working with Grissom.
All in all life was kind to her. Captain Brass was a good boss, more of a mentor really. She liked working as a detective, happy that her mother was proud but even happier that it had been the right decision. "I guess I'm more an action kind of girl, like Lara Croft or something." She had joked one evening when she had dinner with Grissom. "Not staying behind closed doors, examining physical evidence, only myself to talk to. I guess mostly, I was tired of listening to myself."
"Ah, but ones own voice is the most important one should listen to."
"Maybe." She smiled. "I'd rather listen to somebody else for a change. Figuring out what they think, what they feel, if they're lying. I can't do that all by myself."
"Which is where you are wrong." He smiled, holding up his glass. "Lying to oneself is the most artful form of deception."
Self-deception. That evening Grissom hadn't known he hit a nerve. Sure Sofia was happy with the choices she made in her life. She loved her new job, she had some friends, well, colleagues mainly. But she missed out on one thing. Dating. Having a lover. Or rather having a partner and lover. It wasn't the sex, she missed. If that had been the problem, she would simply go out and find someone. Vegas was a party town after all, making an art out of people's need to connect. With night clubs and wedding chapels on one side of the street and divorce lawyers on the other. No, that wasn't her style. Sofia needed someone to talk to, to hug when a new case left her devastated, to laugh with on weekends. Someone she could trust to share her life with in all it's not so glorious aspects. Preferably somebody who could cook as well, she chuckled, looking down at her a little too lithe figure.
Sara can't cook, her inner voice piped up sarcastically. "Sara's not an option anymore." She said to herself, drowning out her inner voice, wondering when she had started talking to herself again. "The truth is, she never was."
It was at this state of self-deception that the shoot out hit Sofia below the belt. She tried to tell herself, she new the risk. She tried to stay calm, clinging to protocol. She even brushed Brass off, when the Captain offered his support. Can't talk to him, she told herself, he's under investigation too. It was in the interrogation room, that she collapsed internally. Catherine Willow new at once, of that Sofia was sure. But she couldn't do anything, couldn't help her and Ortega was pushing and pushing. It didn't matter though what Sofia felt. An officer was dead. Killed by friendly fire. Or so they said. Not a very fitting expression. How could bullet fire ever be friendly? How come that some officers named their guns? Gave them women's names as if they were lovers? Her thoughts kept running in circles. Did I kill Bell? Did he knew? What if I hadn't fired? What if I hadn't become a cop? Would I be with her now? Investigating? With the rest of the team? Did I kill him?
The interrogation became a blurr. Sofia never even remembered what she said, what they said. Afterwards she just wanted to go home. How do you deal? Greg had once asked her during an espescially gruesome case. Easy. She had told him. You go home, hug your pet, your pillow. Drink a beer and go back to work the next day. Well. She didn't have a cat. And no pillow or amount of beer could be big enough to erase the face of Bell when he went down. The biggest problem though was: Sofia didn't know if she still had a job to get back to.
She went jogging, anything to exhaust herself. To drain her body, get some sleep. Sleep never came. There were phone calls. Few, but at least some people cared. She listened to the messages, never calling back. Greg, Brass, Catherine. They were all part of the ongoing investigation. She couldn't talk to them. It was against protocol. She always followed protocol in a case. This was her case. She was the suspect. Was she guilty? Had she followed protocol? Did she kill him?
After a few days she just didn't care anymore. She was desperate to talk to somebody. Anybody. Preferably somebody who would listen without prejudices or false emotions. Choosing Grissom was not the wisest choice, but he was the only one, she could think of keeping her sane. Sofia knew she shouldn't talk to him, that she was compromising the investigation but she just couldn't deal anymore. She tried to call him, but he never picked up. Finally she dropped by his office and waited.
At first he didn't notice her. Sofia had waited in a corner where she couldn't be seen through the glass doors. "Hey..." Grissom turned around, clearly suprised. "I, ah, left you a couple of messages."
"Oh." He pulled the pager out of his jacket and looked at it. "Yeah, I haven't gotten to them yet. Sorry."
She shook her head with a tiny smile, forgiving him. If Sofia was certain of one thing, it was Grissom did not need to lie. He studied her pensively. "You're on admininistrative leave though. You should be home getting some rest."
"Yeah." She said, taking a breath. "I... I tried. But I can't stop thinking about this, this... Bell shooting."
Grissom nodded. "That's understandable."
She closed her eyes briefly. "Grissom, I think... there may be a possibility that maybe... I shot him."
"Sofia." Grissom sighed. "We can't discuss..."
"...it's, it's something that I remember when I was giving my statement..."
"...then it's already on the record..." Sofia did not let him finish. She needed to say what had been torturing her the past days. "...no, it's something I didn't mention..."
"Sofia..." He tried again to stop her.
"Please! Listen to me!" Grissom wasn't sure if it was the utter desperation in her voice or the scientific curiosity that made him decide to listen. Probably both. When Sofia was sure he would not interrupt her again, she continued. "Bell was between me and the suspect. I was shooting over his cover which is a violation of policy..." she admitted almost mechanically. "I was... I was just trying to stay alive," Sofia tried to explain, "but if I did it..."
"Grissom, ey, I've a question..." It couldn't have been more embarassing for Sofia if Ortega had entered the room. "Sofia.... you're on administrative leave." Sara sounded more surprised than accusing.
"You should not be in this building." Wrong, Sara did sound accusing. Sofia didn't care if she imagined it or not. She just couldn't take it anymore. "I was just talkin to a friend." She spat out at the woman she once considered a friend, even hoping for more, "if I can't talk to a friend who the hell am I supposed to talk to?"
Sara shrugged. "Any friend outside this department."
Condescending. Now that one was new. "And how many friends outside work do you have, Sara? Oh, maybe I should leave and talk to my mother, oh no, I forgot, she's a cop too."
"I can recommend a departmental psychologist."
Seeing the rather smug expression on Sara's face, Sofia would have loved to lash out. To provoke an emotion, any emotion from the woman she once thought herself in love with. But she was drained. It didn't matter anymore. Instead she collected herself and turned back to Grissom. "All right um, this was a very bad idea."
And she left, still feeling Sara's eyes on her back all the way home.
Sofia Curtis' name was cleared. It had taken a couple more days, more waiting, more nerv-wrecking. Sofia learned a lot about patience in those days. That and she learned about trust. In the end she had taken up Jim Brass on his offer to talk. It had helped. He had been there. Knew what she was going through. He also knew when to bend the rules and when not to. He gave her a new perspective on life. And he helped her see, that being a cop involved risks, yes. But that one could also deal with those risks without quitting. When Ortega gave back her badge and gun, she took both without hesitation. No doubts anymore. She, Sofia Curtis, was a cop. If some people couldn't accept that, so be it.
Sequel Looking past the evidence - Sara
Author's note: This story took a completely different direction from what I had in mind. But then strong characters often have a mind of their own and I'm merely following where they lead me to.
But... since I still have my original plan of getting Sofia and Sara together as a couple... and a few more days left of my vacation, I'll not stop writing now. For a continuation see: "Looking past the evidence - Sara"
Return to C.S.I. Fiction
Return to Main Page