DISCLAIMER: CSI and all characters are the property of CBS and Bruckheimer.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Sade song “Bulletproof Soul”: All the lyrics in the story are from that song. This has been bouncing around my head for a while, so I thought I would write it for the 24-hour challenge. Also, it fits into the show: kinda explains where Sofia has been the last few weeks.
CHALLENGE: Written for the second 24 Hour Challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
I was so in love with you
Rarely see a love that true
Wasn't that enough for you?
Wasn't that enough for you?
I would climb a mountain
Wouldn't want to see you fall
Rock climb for you
Give you a reason for it all
You left once, but you came back. The city, the bright lights, and a certain pair of dark eyes weakened your resolution there in that new, cold city and sterile apartment where you never even hung your pictures. Even when you left, you must have known you would be back, and so you were, in less than 6 months, supposedly because a senior detective position opened up at LVPD, but it really, what drove you away and drew you back was her, it was always her.
But not this time, you think as you survey the assembled group of detectives, criminalists, and lab techs; this time, it's for real, it's for good. This is your going-away party, after all, and you'd hate to disappoint people by ruining all their effort to give you a good send-off.
She's there, in the corner, glancing at her watch. You know her, know she's timing how long she has to stay to keep up appearances before slipping back to some dead body or blood splatter or phone records, which you know are her least favorite type of evidence. She would leave your party even for a task she hates; it's telling, in its own way. You never had her, but that doesn't ease the ache of loss. She glances around the room, makes eye contact with her boss, her supervisor, her lover, and you see the look that passes between them. He disengages from his conversation, slips toward the back of the room, joins her, and they leave. You imagine it is for a tryst, stolen kisses in a back lab, and that pains you, but what pains you more is that you know they are actually slipping away to work, to solve their puzzles and murder mysteries. Their connection is one few can fathom and none can match, not even you.
You square your shoulders resolutely and mingle, Greg's cheerfulness bringing a smile to your face once more; Boulder wants you back and you have nothing to hold you here, and especially, no reason to return.
But still, you follow her when she heads for the locker room, to stand just inside the door as she gathers her things. She is startled when she turns to find you there, her questioning look echoed by the tone of her voice when she says your name. You say nothing, finding no words to say now that you are in front of her. No declaration of love, of hidden feelings, is going to change anything, but you can't leave without her knowing. Last time you left, like a coward, in the middle of the night, telling no one, and this time, you are going to do it right, tell everything, burn every bridge.
So you step forward, grateful for the silence, as you run your fingers down her smooth cheek to cup her chin and draw your lips together for a soft kiss. Even brief, it's overwhelming, but you resist the urge to go furtheryou've already gone too far. You pull back and whisper, "Goodbye Sara."
As you leave the lab for the last time, you do not look back.
It hit me like a slow bullet
Like a slow bullet
Took me some time to realize it
You kept on thinking
You were the only one
Too busy thinking
Love is a gun
You are not surprised when she shows up at your door, hours later. She is not one to let things go unresolved, after all. She has that thoughtful look on her face that crinkles her brow and narrows her eyes, the one she gets when looking at evidence, and you wonder if you are the good kind, the interesting kind, the puzzling kind, like an unusual splatter pattern, or if you are the mundane kind, the boring kind, the phone records or financial reports.
"Can I come in?" she asks, and you motion her inside, head back to the kitchen where you are packing. She follows you to the galley kitchen you've always hated, both times you've lived in this rental, and you turn, lean against the counter, and wait for her to break the silence. You've said your goodbye, and you are afraid of what you might say if you speak. Your resolve is less resolute than you previously imagined, especially when faced with her across a mere foot of kitchen linoleum.
She notes the half-packed boxes, the open cupboards, and fixes on the glass by your hand, ice cubes slowly melting in an amber liquid. A decision is made a second before she invades your space, and you feel your fingernails dig into the pressboard under the lip of the counter and your heart rate increase, but she does not kiss you. Instead, she snags the glass and returns to her original position, leaning against the opposite counter, and you will your heart rate to return to normal. Her eyes never leave yours as she takes a healthy drink, and you can almost see the tension leave her frame as the alcohol hits.
This time, when she leans into your space to set the glass back down on the counter beside you, you think you are ready, but she doesn't retreat this time. You hear the tink as the glass hits the counter, but her body is pressing yours back and her eyes have some hidden message you cannot discern as she captures your lips with hers.
This time, there is heat, passion, her tongue lightly caressing your lips. Her fingers stroke the nape of your neck, bending your head back as she deepens the kiss. You taste your bourbon on her tongue, feel her hands on your back, and for a second, just for a split second, you think maybe this is real.
When she breaks the embrace, she stares at you for a long moment, the confusion evident in her eyes. Then she flees, leaving without a word, and you flinch at the sound of the screen door slamming against the frame.
You find the glass by touch alone, the cool liquid hitting the back of your throat a second before the warmth kicks in. You reach blindly for the bottle and fill the glass, emptying it a second time before turning back to your half-filled boxes, lifting plates with exaggerated care in your sudden lightheadedness.
I know the end before the story's been told
It's not that complicated
But you're going to need a bulletproof soul
You were trigger happy baby
You never warned me let me free
It's not that complicated
But you're going to need a bulletproof soul
In the end, you sat on the stoop of your empty house with your packed car, your head fuzzy and aching from the bourbon the night before, for over an hour, just waiting, hoping, pretending that every car that rumbled by was hers. Her coming to talk, to stop you, to kiss you again. You haven't smoked in years, but the crumbled pack in your hand is empty and you leave the stubbed cigarettes littered around the yard for the next tenant as you walk to your car. Boulder is a long way away and you want to make it before dark.
In the month that followed, you almost got used to it; the ache in the pit of your stomach lessened every day that passed with no word. Your phone stayed stubbornly silent except for Jim's weekly update call, and you stopped obsessively checking your missed calls after every interview 'just in case' about a week ago. You began to accept the fact that she hadn't tried to stop you, that she hadn't tried to contact you, that she had let you go. That what had happened in your kitchen had been her way of saying goodbye. You throw yourself into your work, and you are glad that Boulder is experiencing an uptick in gang-related crime. It keeps you busy and fills your thoughts, most of the time.
The worst is the crime lab. Here, there is none of the murky, aquarium-like feel of the lab in Vegas, none of the dark mood lighting and cool blues and greens. They have walls here, and OSHA posters that warn of workplace hazards and protective gear, and even corkboards with announcements of furniture for sale and bike outings. Here everything is bright and white: the fluorescents hum and cast no shadows over the sterile metal counters and industrial grey floors. This lab is nothing like the lab you think of as hers, where her smile shown brighter than the lights. But even with the differences, it is torture. The smell of the chemicals, the hum of the mass spectrometer, even the quiet click of computer keys, all remind you of her. Hundreds of miles away, and when you walk through those doors, you almost imagine you can hear her voice, like she's a ghost that haunts a place she's never even been.
You turn a corner and see her, in silhouette, braced against a table, like she always stands, and you wonder at the fact that you've never hallucinated her before now. It seems natural, almost real, as first the sheriff turns, and then she does, and he's saying something, thanking you for your recommendation, shaking your hand, and you must have spoken, because he's beaming and saying his goodbyes.
You know your eyes never left her, and later you'll wonder if it was rude to blow your boss off like that, but there is nothing in the world right now but her. She's leaning against the table, watching you as you try to make your mouth work. You babble the beginnings of questions, "What why how " until she takes pity on you. She steps around the table, picks up the toothpick that you don't remember dropping, twirling it between her long fingers.
"It's a long story," she says finally, "I thought I might explain over dinner." She looks down at the sliver of wood as she waits for your answer, and you cover her hand with yours, feeling flesh and blood and warmth beneath your fingers.
You suddenly feel more like yourself than you have in years as you pluck the toothpick out of her hand and grip it between your teeth as you suggest, "Dinner desert coffee " You pause, feeling a sly grin spread across your face and her answering smile twisting into a smirk, "breakfast ."
Think you got it but you got all the trouble you need
I came in like a lamb
But I intend to leave like a lion
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