DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of these characters. I do this only for my sanity.
SPOILERS: A Bullet Runs Through It, Parts 1&2.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Debbie


Catherine saw Sofia hurtling out of Gil's office. She looked awful; her hair pulled back, tears streaming down her face, and, from the vibes Catherine was feeling, the blonde was as angry as hell. Taking her life in her hands Catherine called out.

"Hey Sofia, wait up a second." Catherine grabbed a hold of Sofia's elbow and drew her back. "Are you ok?"

The anger radiating off her in waves, Sofia ground out, "No Catherine, I'm not. What's it got to do with you anyway?"

"Hey! Just hold on a second. I only wanted to check on you. No reason why, just did." Then she mumbled. "Kinda wish I hadn't now."

She turned to carry on her way, this time it was Sofia that pulled the older CSI back. "Sorry Catherine, those two in there," she indicated back towards Sara in Grissom's office, "just blew me off."

"Ah, I see." And Catherine did, it was obvious, an emotionally wrung out Sofia would have scared the living daylights out of both people in that room. She almost chuckled to herself but stopped just in time when she realized Sofia was still talking.

"I just wanted to talk to someone and I don't know who. I'm not supposed to talk to anybody here but who the hell else is there?" Sofia rambled, obviously still lost in her memories.

Catherine remembered Sofia's face during her interview with Ortega and took a chance. "Um, I'm supposedly off in a few hours, and Nancy's taking Lindsey to school today, so, if you want, we could go for breakfast."

Sofia looked at Catherine bemused.

"I might be a bitch sometimes but I can listen…" once again Catherine touched Sofia's elbow, drawing the young woman's gaze to her face, "… and I have shot a man." The last was said quietly but sincerely; it was something she didn't regret but despite everyone else's belief to the contrary, it was something she still thought about.

"Yeah, I think maybe, I'd like that." Sofia's quiet admission was immediately overtaken by doubt, "Are you sure, what about my administration leave?"

"Oh bollocks to that, since when do I let rules get in the way of what I want to do?"

Both women chuckled and Catherine saw, despite the ragged look, how a smile still managed to light up Sofia's face.

"See you in Betty's Diner at 8?"

"Yeah, I'm away from here now, I'll get a booth for us."

Catherine continued on her way, before looking back over a shoulder and calling, "And just so it's clear… I'm expecting a massive tip."

Sofia watched Catherine walk away, smiling to herself, pleased that for one moment in time her mind had been somewhere other than on Officer Bell's face. She turned to leave and bumped shoulders with Sara Sidle. The look she received was hostile and yet deep in Sara's angry gaze Sofia spotted a hint of something that might actually be jealousy.

Sara muttered, "You're going out with Catherine?"

The blonde detective gave Sara a secretive smirk, refusing to give her the satisfaction of an answer. There was definitely jealousy in Sara's manner but, for now, Sofia was too angry to consider the wherefores in that scenario. She cold-shouldered Sara and walked away, putting the consideration to one side for a later date.

At 8.30am Sofia was beginning to think Catherine had changed her mind. Still haunted by the thoughts that she might have killed her colleague she stared hard at the Formica table and relived the action once more. It was like a video loop playing over and over behind her mind's eye, every time, the split second she saw Officer Bell in her sights, the picture changed to one of him lying in a pool of blood, his life force already spent. She shuddered; the few moments between her spying him and his death forever lost to memory.

A warm hand touched her shoulder, "Hey, Sofia. Sorry I'm late, you know how it is. They want me back at 9.30, to go and follow up a lead on the missing gang member. More time with that idiot Ortega, time I could do without."

Catherine took the seat opposite Sofia and indicated to the waitress for two more coffees.

As she waited for the waitress to return, Catherine took the initiative and began to talk.

"Ortega's a buffoon, you know. I couldn't believe how he pressured you in that interview. He needs to see that we have feelings too, we're not all the pig-headed officer he obviously is."

Sofia was pleased that Catherine was trying to take her mind off her thoughts, "Hey Catherine, he was only doing his job, he's got to find out how Bell lost his life."

"I know but there's ways to do it. I remember the way he treated me, it's really not necessary, when all you want to do is go home."

"But I don't, Cath, at home, it's too much."

Catherine looked up at the shortening of her name. It seemed that, recently, more and more people were shortening it, Sara had even dared to call her Cat, and surprisingly she liked it. Somehow, it made her realize she was once more a part of the team; since working on the Swing shift, it had taken time to get back to where she was before, she was back.

She smiled understandingly at Sofia as the waitress interrupted the pregnant pause, bringing not only coffee but blueberry pancakes too.

Catherine raised her eyebrow at her companion.

"Um, I ordered those before you got here. I remembered Sara once saying they were one of your favorites, and…"

Taking note in her head that Sara and Sofia obviously spent time together, Catherine murmured, "Hmm, thank you." Then, seeing that Sofia really did look dreadful she brought the conversation carefully back to where Sofia needed it. "So, how you doing, really?"

Sofia almost whispered her reply. "Going a little crazy, you know."

"Yeah, it's the waiting, it's hard Sofia, but once the waiting is over, it gets easier, honestly. I guess it's just important along the way we never forget an officer lost his life."

"I know. I don't think I'll ever forget."

Sofia stared at Catherine, the confusion and the hurt painfully obvious, both in the tone of her voice and in the tears blurring the shine of her blue eyes.

"I've relived it so many times, Cath, I don' know what's real or not. I see him falling, laying there, his blood seeping. It's like he's looking at me, as if he knew."

"Oh Sofia." Catherine reached for the hand that Sofia was nervously tapping on the table, squeezing it gently in reassurance, "You've got to stop thinking like that. It'll kill you."

"How? How do I get the sight of Bell falling out of my mind, Catherine, how?"

"I don't know, hon, you just do."

Allowing her comment to sink in Catherine let the silence remain. After a few moments she released Sofia's hand and made a conscious decision to try and take the detective's mind of her trauma by lightening the mood.

"You could always get wasted or… better yet, get laid; never fails to clear my head."

Catherine chuckled, hoping that Sofia saw it as the joke comment it was meant to be. Looking up into Sofia's eyes, alight with disbelief, she wasn't sure it had quite been taken in that way. Her hackles rising, despite admitting to herself that it was often just what she did to forget, for some reason she didn't want Sofia to think that about her. As always attack was Catherine's best form of defence.

"Oh come on Sofia, don't look so innocent, you've been waiting for me to say that, probably agreed to meet me so I could validate you doing exactly that. I'm not deaf you know. I hear the young ones; you detectives. How everyone thinks I use my body to sell my soul. Hell, everyone heard what Sara had to say on the subject and I bet I know whose side you were on back then…" Catherine's voice was hard and determined, "… but in this case Sofia it really fucking works, believe me."

Catherine shrugged and gave Sofia a wry smile, waiting for the indignation that never came. Instead she was surprised to hear Sofia laughing out loud.

"You're wrong, you know. I never thought that of you, though you probably don't believe me. On day shift I always wanted to be like you; strong, defiant, devil-may-care, and here we are proving that I'm none of those."

Seeing Catherine start to interrupt, Sofia held up her hand and continued. "Oh, I know I'm strong, you have to be when your mother's a tough-as-nails police officer but underneath, there's this woman looking out for confirmation."

Sofia dropped her head, "If I'm responsible for Bell's death, and at the moment I can't get it out my head that I am, who's going to tell me I was in the right? No-one; I'm going to be hung up on all the whys and wherefores, hesitant as anything, unsure, and no one will be able to convince me otherwise. I may be strong, Catherine, but I don't think I can do this alone and I sure as hell do care what people think. But you, you'd just tuck this under your belt and get on with it."

Sofia looked at Catherine. Catherine looked at Sofia.

"I wouldn't you know. I really would go and get wasted and wake up the morning after with some unknown bimbo. Hell, that's when the devil-may-care attitude comes in because remembering the sort of sex I dish out is far more enjoyable than remembering pain like you're remembering," Catherine winked at Sofia and started to rise from the table. "I've got to go, duty calls"

Sofia stood too, resting her hand against Catherine's elbow, "Oh, ok. Thank you, thank you so much for this, I feel better somehow, still not sure I'll sleep but you never know."

Catherine chuckled once more and nudged her shoulder against Sofia's, "Think about what I suggested, Sofia, you're one hell of a lovely lady you'd have no problem with getting yourself a guy and it does work. Go for it."

Sofia watched the departing woman and, not sure where the comment came from, she called after her, "Hell, Cath, I thought you were volunteering."

Catherine turned with a dirty smirk on her lips, "In your dreams, Curtis, you couldn't handle it."

Later, Catherine was surprised to hear a whistle as she approached her car. Sofia walked up behind her and whispered, "I think I can handle it."

Catherine spun around, smelling drink on the detective's breath. "I've just pulled a double, heard one of my best friend's shot his colleague, and you're drunk. Go home, Sofia," the redhead ground out through clenched teeth and started to climb into her car.

Sofia stayed her progress. "I'm not drunk but I have been dreaming about Bell. Please Catherine, come for a drink."

"Sofia, I'm tired. Go home."

"A drink, please?"

Later still, the two women stared into each other's eyes, one pair of blue eyes; strong, defiant, hopeful, the other, strong, defiant, angry. Silence reigned. Twin JD's graced the space between their taut bodies.

Catherine smiled sadly.

"You're off the hook, Sofia, you don't need this anymore, go home."

"You of all people know it's not that easy. Bell still falls dead whether I pulled the trigger or Brass did. His wife still has to bring a little one into this world without its Daddy." Sofia touched Catherine's hand. "Please Catherine, help me forget."

"Sofia. Why me? Why not some nameless one night stand?"

"I don't do that, I wouldn't know how. You know what I need and why I need it, where would I find another woman…" the blonde watched Catherine to make sure that message had sunk in, "… but you? You, I trust. "

Catherine's face looked at Sofia in disbelief.

"Yeah, without these few drinks I probably couldn't have said this but Catherine, now, I need you. Maybe not tomorrow but definitely now and I think you can cope with that better than anyone else I know. So, please…"

Sofia got up and wandered across the bar towards the ladies room. As she reached the doors she mouthed the word 'please'. Still in shock Catherine saw the plea and knew the decision was hers; leave with no qualms, leave and regret it, stay with no qualms, or stay and regret it.

She gulped down the remainder of her Jack Daniels; life was too short for regret so whatever she decided she would stand by her decision. She thought about her day, about Brass's agony, about Mrs Bell's agony, about Sofia's agony, about her own agony and made her decision.

She stood and walked over to the rest-room.

Walking into the washroom she locked eyes with Sofia and sighed as the blonde pushed open the toilet door and held out her hand.

Catherine took a hold of the trembling hand and held on tight, locking eyes with the detective she spoke with conviction, "No! Not here…"

… (Catherine's decision is yours?)

The End

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