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Nothing Else To Do
"There's a lovely bedtime story for my daughter."
Sara's fist slammed into the punching bag as the excess from the last case ran through her. She'd been at the gym too long already and was going to pay for it the following day, but didn't care.
"Your daughter is the one who needs you."
'Not me,' had been the implied end of that sentence. Another slam to the bag that jolted her entire upper body and forced a grimace.
"Go home, Cat."
Let me do my job and I'll find the person responsible. Yeah right, she thought viciously to herself. You did a real bang-up fucking job, didn't you, Sara? Couldn't even find the god-damned murder weapon!
A series of savage blows landed one after the other and set the bag rocking too violently for her to do anything but give it a full-body hug to stop it. Leaning against the worn leather, panting with the exertion, Sara could pretend that the salt stinging her eyes was from sweat.
"Hey. I think you got him."
Startled by Warrick's mildly amused voice, Sara straightened up and turned around. Sure enough, the tall black man was half-smiling at her from only a couple of feet away. It looked like he'd already done his own workout, which showed just how wrapped up in her own little world she was not to have seen him before. Wiping her face clear of the suspicious sweat, Sara greeted, "Hey. How's it going?"
"Better than for you, from the looks of it," Warrick answered, gently questioning.
That was one of the things she really liked about him. He was rock-solid in any kind of support needed and that included minding his own business if that was what you wanted. Only... "Crappy case."
He nodded with a sympathetic grimace. "I know. How's Cat?"
Shrugging, Sara answered, "She wouldn't pick up the phone when I called tonight. Probably won't want to speak to me again, I fucked up so badly."
"You didn't fuck up," he stated firmly. "It was a no-win situation, especially without the murder weapon. You did the best you could."
"It wasn't good enough!"
Warrick eyed her for a few seconds, then questioned, "Are you saying that because you believe there was something you didn't do, or because you think you let Cat down?"
Busted. Sighing, Sara answered, "I don't know. There had to be something I missed."
He gripped her shoulder and pointed out, "Do you really think that Grissom would've signed off on it, if there had been anything you'd missed?"
"Exactly. So cut yourself some slack, okay? There was nothing else to do. Look, go take a shower and we can get something to eat. You need to after that workout," he said.
Snorting, Sara knew that he wasn't going to take no for an answer. Besides which, he was right. She'd worked out a little too much and she'd missed lunch and skipped supper. She'd be lucky to make it to the restaurant without passing out. "Meet you out front."
He nodded and headed for the men's locker room.
Giving the punching bag a last, half-hearted punch, Sara began untaping her hands and walked towards the women's locker room.
Warrick had chosen a small, diner-type restaurant that was nearly empty, for which Sara was grateful. Not normally a social butterfly, she was pretty sure she'd go nuts if she had to deal with anyone hitting on her that night. Sitting heavily in the booth, she reached for the plastic menu and looked it over feeling distinctly apathetic. "Anything good here?"
"It's all good," Warrick answered with a grin. "This place is the reason I need to work out at all."
The grin teased Sara into a slightly better frame of mind and she looked at the menu with renewed interest.
"Do you know how hard this place is to find?"
Sara stiffened, then sighed at Gil's voice, giving Warrick an accusing look.
He shrugged and informed her, "Nick should be here any minute, too."
Oh great. The gang's all here, she thought, irritated. So much for not being social.
"Scoot over," Gil ordered, smiling at her.
Sara slid further into the booth and he climbed in after taking off his jacket and hanging it on the pike between tables.
Just then, Nick came into the diner, shaking off the rain. He glanced around and grinned upon finding them in the corner. Pulling off his jacket, he shoved it on top of Gil's and collapsed onto the seat beside Warrick, grinning at his friend. "Hey."
Warrick grinned back at him and answered, "Hey."
Sara's eyebrows arched with curious interest as they continued to look at each other, then noticed out of the corner of her eye that Gil was watching her and shifted her gaze back to the menu. "So everything's good here, huh?"
"Yep," Nick agreed. He reached across Warrick for a menu.
"Why do you bother? You're going to get what you always do," Warrick teased with a low chuckle.
Nick nudged him rudely, his hand lingering on Warrick's shoulder as he demanded, "Are you implying that I'm predictable?"
Sara snorted as they both started chuckling, and then looked over at Gil. "So what about you? What're you getting?"
He shrugged and answered, "Pancakes."
"You're not even going to look at the menu?" she questioned curiously.
Flashing a brief smile, Gil said, "Don't need to. Places like this always have pancakes. Besides, I find myself in need of comfort food."
"Why? What's wrong?" Nick asked from across the table.
Gil shrugged and said, "Nothing really. It's just been a long couple of days."
Warrick nodded agreement. "Did you talk to Cat tonight?"
After a brief hesitation, Gil answered, "Yeah. She's not doing great, but finally agreed to take a few days off."
Nick looked up from the menu and asked, "When's the funeral?"
"Day after tomorrow, ten o'clock at St. Sebastian's Episcopal," Gil replied. "I asked if she wanted us there and she said no, but I think that was just Cat being Cat."
The guys nodded, but Sara kept her eyes on the menu, trying to keep the blurry vision from turning into actual tears. So Catherine had picked up for Gil, but not for her. It hadn't mattered that she'd practically been begging for the other woman to pick up the phone. Something thunked on the table and Sara looked up in surprise to find four glasses of water in the center and the waitress smiling at them from beside the table.
"What can I get for you all?"
Sara looked back at the menu and wished the rest of life held such simple choices.
Sara stared at the dash, listening to the steady spattering of rain on the roof of the car. A tap on her window scared the shit out of her and her head snapped to the side to find Gil standing in the rain. He motioned for her to lower the window and she did. "What?"
"Are you okay? You were kind of quiet back there," Gil said, leaning down.
She shrugged it off and answered, "Yeah, I'm fine."
"You know, Catherine's not the best when it comes to...asking for help or comfort. She tends to strike out at those closest to her."
Looking up into his eyes, Sara was pretty sure he was trying to tell her something without actually coming out and saying it. Glancing away, she said, "I think...I don't know what I think. I'm going home and sleeping for a week."
"That's fine. Just be sure you're at work tomorrow."
A grin surfaced reluctantly and Sara looked back at him. For the first time, she noticed the lines of strain on his face and the tightness of his smile. Impulsively, she put her hand on his and asked, "Are you all right?"
Surprised by her question, Gil took a few seconds to answer. "I...it's been...never mind."
"No, you can tell me, Gil," Sara assured him softly.
Staring at her, Gil explained, "I thought I found something important, maybe I did, but then I questioned it, followed logic and evidence like I always do, and it...it slipped away."
Having overheard Jim complaining to Nick about Lady Heather and Gil's apparent fascination for the dominatrix, Sara knew exactly what he was talking about. Squeezing his hand, she told him, "If it's something important, then you should go after it. No matter what anyone else thinks, or what you think anyone else will think about it. When everything's said and done, it's your own conscience and heart you have to live with."
Gil's eyes turned distant as he turned her words over in his head, oblivious to the rain that was soaking him through. Finally, he returned to the present and half-smiled, kissing her cheek. "You should take your own advice. I'll see you tomorrow."
Sara closed the window, wiping away the rainwater that had splashed on her face.
Go or stay?
The question ran rampant through Sara as she sat in her car, parked outside of Catherine and Lindsey's home. Would she be welcome? Should she try and make herself welcome? It was late, so late that all the lights were off and Sara was pretty sure that Catherine was sound asleep. She still didn't know what had prompted her to drive over here except, maybe, there had been something in Gil's voice and words that said Catherine might want her company.
The rain had finally stopped, so there was nothing to distract her from the confusion of her thoughts. How she felt about the older woman, how much their friendship meant and how much being cut out like this hurt. She'd been trying to protect both Catherine and Lindsey as much as she could. Sending Cat out during the questioning had been the right thing to do, damn it, so had sending Cat home. There hadn't been anything that the other woman could do except get herself in trouble, so why couldn't she see that?
Because her ex-husband and the father of her child was just murdered, you idiot, she thought with a sigh.
It didn't seem to matter how much of an asshole Edie was, Catherine had still loved him, even if it had just been as Lindsey's father. Some tiny, mean part of Sara was glad that Edie had come to this kind of an end. She'd seen it in the making, at any rate. You just couldn't live that kind of life and not reap what you sew. She snorted. And wouldn't her parents be horrified to hear her think something like that? Definitely.
For the second time in an hour, a tap at the window scared the crap out of Sara. Hand to her throat, she looked over to find Catherine standing outside. Stymied for a moment, she didn't move. Then, sighing to herself and trying to think of an excuse for stalking, she got out of the car.
Even in the dark, the puffiness around Catherine's eyes was visible and she looked exhausted as only the grief-stricken could. It hurt Sara to look at her, but she managed to keep as neutral an expression as possible. "Hi."
Catherine smiled briefly and echoed, "Hi."
After an awkward silence, Sara asked, "You okay?"
"I will be," Catherine replied with a shrug.
"Sleeping. Sad, of course, but she'll be all right."
Sara nodded and leaned against her car. "I'm sorry I let you down."
Uncomfortable, Catherine refuted, "You didn't. I'm sorry for the way I behaved, Sara, really. I know you were doing your job."
Doing her job, but not helping a friend. Pissed at herself once again, Sara said, "Well, anyhow, I just...I wanted to make sure you were okay and you are, so, I'll head home."
Sara turned and put her hand on the car door, but a light hand on her shoulder stopped her. Looking over her shoulder, she saw an uncertain expression on Catherine's face.
"Do you want to come in?"
Only if I can stay all night and hold you, Sara thought wistfully. Smiling a bit, she answered, "Yeah. Yeah, that sounds good, thanks."
Locking the car, she turned and followed Catherine towards the house. It might not be all she wanted, but Sara would take what she could get.
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