DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I decided to give Sofia a little more comfort than Grissom's "Look, Sofia, there weren't any carbon monoxide sensors in the apartment so no one could have known." Title borrowed from a KT Tunstall song.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Monster in a Box
Sofia snapped the manila folder shut and tossed it on her desk with a sigh. She'd been going over the surveillance report again and again for the past two hours and hadn't been able to come up with any satisfying answer to what had gone wrong. Nothing to catch the miniature crime scene killer who had so cleverly planned ahead and tricked them, nothing to make her feel better about the unnecessary murder of Officer Kamen. Of course, all homicides were unnecessary, but this particular one just shouldn't have happened. Not under her supervision. The thought of watching her die a slow death still made Sofia feel slightly nauseous. Grissom had reassured her that nobody could have guessed that this was going to happen, and that she was not to blame. Yet even ridding herself of all guilt didn't make her feel any better about the events.
Her eyes caught sight of another file she had carefully placed beside the stack of paperwork she had to catch up on. Hesistantly she just eyed it ponderingly for a moment before picking it up and flipping it open with a deep breath. Leafing through the pages the detective was soon so engrossed in her reading that she failed to notice someone entering her office.
"Don't do this, Sofia."
Her head snapped up; she looked like a deer caught in the headlights. "Sara what are you doing at the PD?"
"I heard what happened and wanted to check up on you. I'm here to take you home with me because if I leave you here, you'll get stupid ideas like this one," the brunette said, pointing at the file, and walked around the desk to where Sofia was hunched in her chair. She realised how distraught the blonde looked, her blue eyes were clouded, her jaw tense in an attempt to keep her emotions bottled up. Sara stretched out her hand and gently pulled the folder from Sofia's hand, who for moment held on, almost clutched the beige paper as if afraid to let go.
"Did you know she had a daughter? Four years old. Her name's Lena. She ." Sofia's voice trailed off and she stared out of the window.
"Reading her file is not gonna bring her back, Sofia. It's only gonna make it harder, trust me, harder for you to leave it behind and harder for those of us working the case because we need you as a clear-minded detective," Sara tried to rationalise.
Sofia still avoided her eyes. "It's the least I can do. I didn't know her. She died while I was on shift, while I was keeping the room she was in under surveillance, she fucking died right under my nose, Sara, and now a little girl has to grow up without her mother. I have to know who she was."
It was obvious to Sara in what agony Sofia was, that in her pain it seemed to be the only way to pay her last respects to the dead woman and to come to terms with what had happened and her own role in it. But the CSI also knew it was a mistake, that in this moment, she had to protect Sofia from her own actions. She knew from experience; too often she had become emotionally involved in a case of child abuse or rape. "I know this is hard but you have to fight this urge that tells you to find out about her background and family by all means. It's a very bad idea to get attached to a dead person. As soon as you cease to consider her solely a victim and she becomes a mother, a wife, a friend to you, you'll lose sight of what is important, and in the end the search for her murderer will become your private crusade for justice. Personal feelings cloud your judgement, believe me, Sofia, I've been there, and it serves no one. For her sake you have to remain impartial and think of her as victim like all other victims, as cruel as that may seem. Only like this you'll be able to catch the killer."
There was no sign that Sofia had heard Sara, she simply continued to gaze outside into the dusk settling over Las Vegas. Her lips curled slightly, and Sara knew the detective was about to lose it. Sofia turned her head and met Sara's eyes, tears hovering beneath her lids. "What is it with me and officers dying before my eyes, Sara? First Bell, now Kamen. Who's next?"
Sara felt her heart clench. She knelt down in front of Sofia and grasped her hands. "It happens," she said, "it's one of the drawbacks of your job. And don't you even begin to think you're bad luck. None of that was your fault, do you hear me? You're not responsible for those deaths, and nobody blames you."
Sofia slumped slightly in her chair and shook her head sadly. "That's not the point. It never is. Grissom told me the same thing, that this was not to be foreseen and that it's not my fault. But this is not about me. It's about the victim, it's always about the victims. My existing or absent sentiments of guilt don't matter. They don't change anything and they certainly can't comfort the grieving families. I would gladly feel guilty about a lot of things if that relieved their pain just a little. I just feel so sorry for them." She wiped over her eyes with the back of her hand to prevent the tears from falling.
Sara rose to her feet, stepped beside the chair and pulled a trembling Sofia into an embrace. The blonde rested her head against Sara's chest and clung to her tightly, giving in, sobbing and drenching the other woman's shirt with the salty liquid. "Baby, you need to let it go," Sara spoke softly. "I won't say all the cliché things one might expect under these circumstances but you can't continue to beat yourself up over it or else it's gonna break you. You're an amazing detective, don't let this get you down. It's a mess but you need to start somewhere, right? Come home with me and let me help, I'll talk it through with you, I'll tell you silly jokes to take your mind off it, whatever you want. Please?"
Allowing herself to remain in the safe haven of Sara's arms for just another moment, Sofia didn't move. Then she squeezed her eyes shut briefly to hold back more tears and broke away from Sara. She snuffled and dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief in an effort ot make herself look at least somewhat presentable before leaving her office. Finally, she reached for Sara's hand. "Yes, let's go home," she replied bravely.
Sofia's mind was still reeling as they left the PD and walked to Sara's car. This was the Bell shooting all over again. She knew that once again, she'd have to put herself through sleepless nights and questions playing in an endless loop in her head. Only this time, someone would be there to share her sorrow and offer comfort.
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