DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Third instalment in the series 'Trias'. Follows Oxytocin and Critical Period.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
"Here." Sofia offered her a mug, letting go of it only when it was secured between Sara's slightly trembling fingers.
"Thanks." The brunette's voice was still hoarse from crying. She looked down, realizing that the mug didn't contain coffee like she had hoped, but chamomile tea.
Her hesitation obviously didn't go unnoticed. "No coffee." Sofia said.
The blonde was probably right. Sara was already upset enough, her heart still beating fast while the rest of her body felt close to exhaustion, trembling from the bone cold she felt. She pulled the comforter closer around herself and carefully took a sip from the hot tea.
She knew that Sofia was watching her form the seat across, but she refused to look up, directing her gaze at the cup and her fingers that held it safely. She didn't feel strong enough to bear the scrutinizing gaze of her former girlfriend and still as if she hadn't suffered already enough she couldn't stop herself from talking again. "I never answered your question properly."
The silence indicated that Sofia searched her memory. It was childish and still Sara was hurt by the fact that it took Sofia so long to finally figure it out. "No you didn't."
"You still want an answer?" Sara looked up, meeting Sofia's gaze. Reading people had never been her strength, but in their relationship Sofia had allowed her to do just that, her emotions always close to the surface. Obviously she had lost that privilege.
Sara had felt disconnected to humanity for a long time; she just hadn't realized it until one day when she had left a crime scene to charge into the neighbor's house, running into a possible dangerous situation without waiting for backup.
She didn't have a death wish back than, but it was impossible to tell Brass that when had held her in a stealthy grip, yelling at her in his attempt to shake some sense into her. Through all his anger she still could make out the slight tremble in his voice, but she hadn't understood why he was so angry with her.
She had saved the child and no one was hurt. She hadn't even hurt the so-called dad.
She might have had, if Brass hadn't shown up.
Of course Ecklie had once again threatened to fire her, calling her a loose cannon with a gun. He probably would have done it immediately, if it wasn't for the media which somehow had found out about her stunt, calling her a 'hero'. She didn't know which one of them felt more uncomfortable when they forced them to pose for a picture next to each other.
Ecklie still got to her when he suspended her for at least a month.
Of course the guys told her that they were concerned, offering her help if she needed it. Greg was the sweetest one of them, like the little brother she never had. She only had an older brother, but she never found out what became of him, and never wanted to. Seeing him would mean to remember.
She suspected that something was wrong when Catherine didn't demand her immediate discharge, but offered her an open ear and a shoulder to cry on if she ever needed one.
Grissom was Grissom. Unable to decide if he should approach her as a friend or as supervisor, he failed as both. She left before he could bring up her childhood.
There was only one person who didn't seem to be interested who avoided her. This reaction was the one that really got to her. She knew that she blew every possible chance she ever had had with Sofia, but she had hoped that the blonde detective still cared enough for her.
She was obviously wrong.
Breaking down while you brush your teeth is a messy affair as Sara experienced when she found herself on the cold floor of her bathroom curled up in a ball.
Of course they had sent her once again to her P.E.A.P. counselor. With her long cardigan and the golden rimmed glasses she looked like the cliché of a shrink. In her dreams the older woman even talked with a German accent, making her lay down on Freud's old couch where he made hundreds of women confess the darkest secrets of their childhood, only to distort it, humiliating them again when he told them their abuse was nothing but their suppressed sexual desire to sleep with their fathers.
After her one month suspension it was up to Gil Grissom if she would be allowed back to the lab.
"I never had a death wish." Sara explained as soon as she sat down, determined to control their conversation, but Grissom was better in this game of wills. He didn't answer her, his eyes directed through his reading glasses at her, showing his disbelief. "It seemed like the logic reaction." The second she had voiced this thought, she knew that she had walked right into his trap.
"Sara, running into a house with a possible armed suspect isn't a logic decision, it's a dangerous one."
"It was dangerous for the boy to stay there."
"Brass was on his way."
"It could have been too late for him."
"Or for you." Grissom took his glasses off and placed them on his desk, the small gesture indicating just how disappointed he was in her. "I'm worried about you."
"I thought you are concerned, never worried." He didn't seem to like hearing his own words from her, the ones he had used after she had unscrewed a door to a room filled with explosives.
"Sara." He chided her and she could already feel her anger boiling up again. He made it even more difficult to suppress it as he continued. "I'm not sure you're ready to come back."
She counted till five and imagined herself on a tropical island like she had learned in counseling before she answered him. "I finished my prescribed counseling sessions." Her fingers dug into the armrest of her chair. "I've done everything the lab ordered me to do, even more. I see a therapist who's specialized in ... cases like mine. It took me over 20 years to take that step; the therapy will take another few years. You intend to ban me from work for all this time? For years?"
Sara shook her head. "Then what is it? What do you want from me?"
"I want to be able to trust you again."
"The feeling is mutual." Emotion was a seldom view on Grissom's face, slight astonishment the only one he allowed from time to time, but this time he couldn't hide the shock and hurt. "I still believe in the murder gene. Genes and the environment form the person; they decide together what becomes of the person. That's science and you as a scientist should now that." The accusation was clear; she wasn't a little girl that needed lies to sleep well at night. No lies could give her that.
Grissom took his time before he answered her and when he did Sara wasn't surprised that it was in riddles, like always. "Ever heard of Critical Rationalism?" he asked her.
Sara frowned; she was tired of his games. Just for once she needed a real answer, one that let her believe that what ever twisted version of a friendship they shared was still repairable. Giving him one last chance, she answered "Karl Popper," remembering the name from a seminar at Harvard.
Grissom nodded. "The philosophy of science. Popper said that you can't proof a theory, you can only falsify it. No matter how many confirming examples you collect, your theory could still be false, but you only need one counter-example to falsify it. So instead of trying to confirm your theory, looking only for supporting examples, you should try to find one single counter-example."
Even now, a month later, Sara didn't know if she should be mad at Grissom or thankful. At least he had allowed her back to the lab, but no field work for an indefinite time. She was still struggling, but she made progress or at least her therapist made her believe so. Progress was one of the reasons why she was here.
"I've searched for answers in all the wrong places." Sara started, her eyes still holding contact with Sofia's. "Science told me that I couldn't trust my emotions, not after what I experienced as a child." She already could feel the calming effect of the tea. It was easier to talk about her childhood in clinical, objective words, detaching herself from it. She didn't want to repeat her earlier performance. "I didn't trust myself."
She still didn't. "I'm sorry."
The blonde shook her head. "We both made mistakes."
A sad smile appeared at Sara's face and she hid it behind the mug, taking a sip of the already cold tea. "I miss you." She finally answered Sofia's question.
That was what she came for.
There was silence again, but it wasn't the same as it had been when Sara had stepped into Sofia's home, both unsure what to expect. Her therapist had called it an important step; Sara had called it terrifying to finally tell someone about her childhood because she wanted to, not because she was forced to.
Now that that was done, where to go from here?
She looked down to her tea, or what little was left of it and realized that when she had finished it, there was no reason for her to stay any longer.
"More tea?" Sofia asked, but Sara shook her head, reminding herself that she shouldn't read too much into the small, polite offer of her host. With one last gulp she emptied the mug, remembering that any prolonging would probably make it even harder to go. She had stayed here already too long, straining her welcome.
She peeled herself off the comforter, preparing herself to go, but Sofia stopped her intention. "You still believe in science?" she asked.
A sad smile appeared at Sara's face, admitting that old habits never die easy. "I will always believe in science, but someone reminded me to look beyond."
"What did you find?"
Sofia raised an eyebrow. "The philosopher who said that you never can proof that all swans are white as long as you only search for white swans and never for a single black one?" She was obviously surprised about Sara's choice.
The brunette shrugged. She had had enough time to feel comfortable with her decision. "I was always afraid to turn out like my parents and surrounded by everything we see in our line of work, it was easy to believe that there is a murder gene. Every murderer who blamed his actions on his childhood was proof of that. I forgot all the others that live 'ordinary' lives. Surrounded by white swans I didn't find a single black swan to falsify the theory."
Sofia stared at her, her gaze intense and deep. "I don't believe in a murder gene. I don't believe that any childhood can force you to become a murderer, no matter how dark and painful it was. A hard childhood makes it difficult to overcome the violence, to learn to trust, but in the end we're responsible adults. We are answerable for our actions. I believe in a free will. We can always choose." After a deep breath she leaned forward and rested her arms on her knees. "and you, Sara Sidle, are the most beautiful black swan I've ever seen."
Sara wanted to believe Sofia, she was a smart woman after all, and for now she allowed herself to do just that.
She was surprised how easy it was.
How good it felt.
The brunette looked at her friend and the small encouraging smile she found there mirrored her own.
And suddenly the distance between them didn't seem so big and insuperable anymore.
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