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Letting Go of the Past
By Ann


'Happy Fucking Valentine's,' my subconscious shouted as I smiled and greeted the fifth person of the night who'd wished me a happy day. Of course, I managed to avoid uttering the descriptive adjective when I replied to the receptionist. It wasn't necessary to spread my gloom to the rest of the staff, but my patience was running very thin tonight. I pitied the next person that wished me a 'Happy Valentine's Day.'

The aroma of roses filled nearly every corridor of the lab, making me almost nauseous. Growing up, I loved the smell of our neighbor's rose bed, but now, I couldn't stand the scent of even a single rose. Mother made sure of that.

Shaking my head to clear the unpleasant memories, I headed for the break room to get a cup of coffee before shift started. Maybe Greg had brewed some of his special blend, and the night would be bearable after all. I just had to make it through the next six hours, and this dreaded day would be over.

I walked straight to the coffeemaker and groaned when I noticed the usual black sludge. Grabbing a mug, I lifted the pot when a voice from over my shoulder had me gripping the handle tightly to keep from dropping it on the floor.

"Evening, Sara. How was your Valentine's Day?"

Crap. Catherine. She stepped beside me and lifted her mug for me to pour. Forcing a smile, I filled her mug with the dark mixture, and she immediately turned to the counter to add sweetener. Preferring mine black, I walked away and took a seat on the couch, grateful that it appeared I wouldn't have to respond to her question.

Grabbing a forensics magazine, I began to flip through the pages when Warrick came in. He and Catherine greeted each other and started a conversation about Valentine's Day with flowers, candies, and romantic dinners being the main topics. Sighing, I tried to remember a time when those things meant anything to me.

I guessed first grade was the last time I actually looked forward to giving and receiving Valentine's treats. Mom actually made cookies for me to bring my friends, and she even helped me tie the red strings around the clear wrap to keep the cookies fresh. Things certainly changed after that year.

I was pulled from my memories when the couch suddenly dipped, alerting me to another's presence. Turning, I looked into the smiling face of Greg. He was offering a mug to me, and I quickly returned his smile. Exchanging mugs with him, I lifted the new one to my lips, savoring the rich aroma before taking my first sip. Who the hell needed flowers and chocolates? I had Greg's coffee.

Soon, the entire team had assembled, and Grissom had walked into the room to hand out assignments. I'd been avoiding him as of late and was a little worried we'd have to work together tonight. I'd made the decision to end it with him, and even though I hated Valentine's and all its traditions, I truly didn't want to dump him today of all days.

Luckily, there were several cases pending, and he assigned us each a solo, and since Greg was the junior member of the team, Grissom decided to work up with him instead. Counting my blessings, I strode out of the lab, leaving the rose scented hallways behind.

When I pulled into the driveway of my crime scene, I quickly realized that maybe I was a little too premature in being grateful that I was working alone. The sidewalk leading up to the front door was littered with roses. In fact, it looked as if someone had taken several dozen and strewn them up and down the pavement.

As I opened the back doors of the Denali to retrieve my kit, I prayed that I wouldn't find the victim stabbed in the abdomen with a dozen roses scattered on and around the body. Inhaling deeply, I closed the doors, certain that no one else would have the same idea as my mother.

Sofia greeted me at the end of the walk and quickly filled me in on the specifics. "Hey, Sara. We've got a Valentine's dinner gone bad. It seems John Jones arrived home a day early from his business trip, wanting to surprise his wife for Valentine's Day. Well, it seems he did just that as Patricia Jones and her lover, Don Boone, were enjoying themselves on the dining room table. And I do mean on the dining room table."

She hesitated to be certain I'd understood her meaning, and I nodded for her to continue.

"Anyway, the two were so wrapped up in each other; they never saw him, so he calmly walked into the bedroom and retrieved his automatic from the bedside table. Returning, he shot his wife and her lover for a climatic ending, if you get my drift," Sofia said with one of those beautiful smirks of hers.

Moving my attention from her lips back to her blue eyes, I asked, "How did you come up with this ending?"

Grinning, she replied, "He confessed to everything. He said at first he was scared, and he grabbed up the flowers he'd brought his wife and fled the house, thus the reason for the flowers on the walk. He said he drove down the block and then turned around, deciding not to run. He came back inside and called the police. End of story."

Oh, this was going to be too easy. Smiling, I headed inside, avoiding the crushed roses on my way to the door.

Two hours later, I'd collected all the necessary evidence and was on my way back to the truck. As I placed my kit in the back, I glanced at my watch, eleven fifty eight. In two more minutes, I will have survived another Valentine's.

Closing the rear doors, I turned around and ran directly into Sofia who must've been standing in my back pocket because my peripheral vision never picked her up. Hmm, speaking of picking her up; however, the lovely detective beat me to the punch.

"Um, Sara? Would you like to get some breakfast after shift?" Sofia asked, uncharacteristically shifting nervously from one foot to the other.

Looking back at my watch, I noted one more minute until midnight, and not wanting to jinx this golden opportunity, I held up a finger, asking for just a moment.

Confused, Sofia tilted her head and waited as I kept my focus on my watch while still holding up my finger. 30, 29, 28, ...15, 14, 13...

In a moment of clarity, I quickly blurted my answer two seconds before midnight. "Yes, Sofia. I'd love to have breakfast with you."

Perhaps next year at this time, I'd remember this day as the one where I'd begun a relationship with this beautiful woman instead of the day my mother killed my father.

The smile that greeted me gave me hope that I'd made the right decision. It was time for me to let go of all the painful memories of the past and look towards the future.

The End

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