DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Honestly, this piece makes me cringe. But at least, this time, no one’s dying.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: For 'Living Doll' and 'Dead Doll'.

Leaving Las Vegas
By Kristina K


I remember that morning so clearly. It was close to seven o'clock; the day was already bright and on its way to become the hottest one of the year even though the summer was supposed to be over. I might have dozed off to sleep sometime during the night, but it felt like I was up the whole time. I wasn't tired or anything, just very aware of too many hours spent awake.

She slept like a child. That was possibly the only time she let her guard down – when she was sleeping. I hoped to find out one day what her dreams were made of. If I were lucky, maybe there would be a tiny space, a little corner of her dream saved for me. I allowed my fingers to slowly – featherlike gently – trace her skin where it was bruised and so obviously painfully sore underneath. My eyes blinked in the dimness and then counted little cuts on her forehead, cheeks, chin and neck. Fifty-seven. Some healed, some on their way to heal and some still standing out stubbornly against her fair skin. I leaned in and gently kissed the most stubborn of them all, hoping my lips and their warmth would soothe it into healing.

While I watched her like that, I said a silent thanks to whomever it was that kept her safe that day in the desert.

I stood in the same room with Natalie Davis, just a few feet from her and it felt like I was standing miles away. It felt like an out of body experience where the flesh stood idle and helpless and mind scanned every inch – every grain of dirt – of the Nevada desert. I never dreamed that such a timid, fragile creature like Davis could force such immense fear into me. Look, I could break her in half with one arm and no effort. I might as well have been a giant compared to her. But somehow, in that room, at that time, she was the winner.

Having Sara close, safe, warm and breathing was like the biggest reward. It felt so right lying next to her that morning. It felt even better when her eyes fluttered open and I saw them – broken, but mending – looking back at me.

"Sofia…" the roughness in her voice made me smile. Jesus, the thought of how I was so close never to hear that voice again made my throat tighten as if in a noose.

"Go back to sleep," I told her and her eyes closed again, drawing her back into a dream. That was the last time, the last morning she woke up next to me. And I remember every detail about it.

"I'm leaving," she said as I walked out from the Police Department building, approached her and, squinting at the afternoon sun, lowered the sunglasses onto my eyes. She waited for me in the parking lot, leaning against the side of my car.

"Okay," I said with a little smile, curious and amused.

"I'm leaving Las Vegas," she filled in and my smile disappeared, "Tonight."

"Why?" I searched her face, every bit of her features, my eyes frantically darting around behind the tinted glass.

She shrugged, "Why not?"

"But I thought-" I began, instantly feeling like a pouty kid.

"I already spoke to Grissom and Ecklie. I can't bear to talk to others." She searched for my eyes behind the glasses and I noticed how hers grew sad. "I had to tell you, obviously. It wouldn't have been fair otherwise."

"No it wouldn't have been." It still wasn't, even though she told me.

"I hope you understand," her voice struggled to remain calm and all I could think about was how I couldn't believe we were having that conversation, like that, in the goddamn parking lot, in the middle of my shift, in the middle of a shitty day I was having for which I foolishly thought it had gotten better when I saw her standing there. And I was so wrong; I soon felt completely lost, and then I felt my jaw clench angrily at the news and the way she delivered them to me. "I love my job," she continued, "I love this place. These people. I love…"

Me. Say you love me, I begged for it silently. She didn't say it; she trailed off, swallowing the lump in her throat, looking away so I wouldn't – god forbid – notice tears welling up in her eyes.

"I just can't deal with any of it anymore. Not after what happened. I don't want to be weak, I don't want to flinch at every shadow or think whom I may have pissed off by doing whatever random thing I'd be doing. It's not worth it."

"How about me," I finally dared to speak, "Am I worth it?"

Her eyes grew so big, "God, yes!" She took a step towards me and then drew back, remembering where we were standing. "Just-"

I shook my head. "Forget it," the smile I gave was the strongest defense I could muster at that moment. "It's not like it lasted long enough to be remembered."

"Sofia, don't-"

"Please," my reply came in a mock tone, something I endlessly regretted since the moment I uttered it.

"I don't want us to part like this."

I never thought I'd feel so selfish. "I don't want us to part, period," I said, and it sounded like I was accusing her.

She stood quiet before me for a moment and then decided to break the short distance we had between us. Her arms reached for me and then I was clutching at her in a desperate embrace, hugging her so close like I have never hugged her before, completely uncaring that, maybe, I was hurting her.

"Please, don't make this harder than it already is," she whispered several times into my hair and every time she said it I held her tighter.

When it ended – and it seemed to have lasted a lifetime – she moved away, but only as much as I allowed her, and after she reached and pulled my glasses up from my face she saw how, unlike her, I already lost my battle with tears.

It was late afternoon; the sun was on its way to set and I remember how her hair glowed in reddish tones against it. One button on her shirt was loose and ready to fall off its thread. She wore that necklace she once bought at the flea market with a dauphin pendant hanging from it. The scent of her perfume was slowly wearing off and it was like something that a breeze would bring in, only for a second, before it disappeared. Her hands rested on my hips, her eyes so endlessly deep watched as tears stained my cheeks.

"I'll call you when I get there," she said, wherever there was supposed to be.

That was the last thing she said, last time she looked at me. It was the last time I had her so close, able to still call her mine. I remember every detail of it and I so desperately wish I didn't.

The End

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