DISCLAIMER: CSI is in no way mine, though I wish it was there would have been no GSR.
WARNING: This story contains mention of self harm and suicide.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Sofrost for the beta.

By Freddie-4884


Part 12

Catherine's POV

Fate is a bitch. It's a cruel, wicked mistress. It demands that we all bow to its might and although we don't want to we inevitably do. Fate has put me in this place twice, this building with its clinical and sterile environment. It's impersonal, intruding machines beeping and hissing rhythmically giving hope, false or real, to those who are made to suffer them. The machines in this room are taunting me with hope.

Hope that I know deep down is going to lead to despair.

The doctors have already told me to prepare for the worst, but the stupid machines keep giving me that false hope that maybe, just maybe, the doctors are wrong. With every beep from the heart monitor and every hiss from the ventilator hope flutters in my chest making me think that she's going to come back to us, to me. But I know she's not.

She's never going to swagger through the labs again when she's cracked a case. She's never going to fall asleep on the break room sofa after pulling one of her famous all nighters. I'm never going to see her hunched over a lay out table working on evidence. I'm never going to see her scoop up Lindsay in her arms and twirl her around until they're both so dizzy that the fall on the grass giggling. I'm never going to watch her argue her point with as much passion as she could muster. I'm never going to see her smile. When she smiled, a true genuine smile, her eyes would light up and her face would change. She looked younger, more carefree.

I know it's all in the past. I know she's never coming back. The machines are keeping her 'alive.' Just until the transplant co-ordinators come to harvest her organs. It seems that my girl, my Sara is, was a registered organs donor. It's going to be like a closing down sale – everything must go. Her kidneys, heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, her intestines, corneas, her middle ear, skin, heart valves, bone, veins, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, bone marrow, peripheral blood stem cells and cord blood stem cells will all be removed. Everything that made her the woman I fell in love is already gone.

She was announced dead on arrival. I never got the chance to tell her that I love her, that we love her. That she was a part of a loving family. The family that she had been seeking for so long. Tears prick my eyes when I realise that I had denied her that for so long. That I had kept her from knowing that she had a place, a home, with us. Not just Lindsay and me, but with the guys too. If only I was braver, if I had stopped hiding and been true to myself we could have had years of happiness, both in the past and in the future.

"Oh God, I'm so sorry, Sara." I croak out, grabbing her hand in both of mine as tears of regret and shame course down my face. "I know you can't hear me, but I've got some things I need to tell you and I really need to say them now. I know it's stupid, you can't hear me, it's only me here and these fucking machines but I need tell someone and who better than the one that they're meant for, even if she can't hear them, eh?" I stop myself from rambling on and I take a deep breath to steady myself and my thoughts. "Ok, first, I love you. I'm so sorry that I robbed us of the chance to hear it and say it. If I had gotten over myself sooner we could have been together.

"Over the last few hours I've been thinking. If we had gotten together sooner would all of this have happened? Would you be lying there? Would I be sitting here wondering if this pain will ever go away? If we had gotten together sooner, you wouldn't have tried to kill yourself, Gris wouldn't have sent you to that psychiatrist, and you wouldn't have gotten into that cab and been involved in the accident. I blame myself for your death, just like I blame myself for Holly's death. If it wasn't for me, she would be alive now." I choke out.

It's true; I'm to blame for Holly's death, me and her mother. Her mother pushed Holly into fulfilling her failed dreams and when the young woman had wanted to throw in the towel I convinced her to stay. We all have reasons for doing the job but you have to want to do it. Holly just didn't have the drive, the lust needed for the job. Sure, she was eager to please and impress the boss but what new start isn't? Now I'm to blame for Sara's death too.

A knock at the door brings me out of my musing about Holly and my raking over dried up, barren ground. When I look up a nurse in surgical scrubs is standing in the doorway.

"I'm sorry to disturb you, Ms Willows, but the retrieval team will be ready for Sara in thirty minutes." She says softly. Thirty minutes doesn't seem long enough to say everything I want to say. Blind panic sets in. My grip on her hand tightens and my body tenses, as though the nurse is here to take her already. I'm ready to defend her with any means possible if I have too.

"I can only give you twenty minutes with her though before someone comes into do a final run through." She says, her mouth setting a grim line. I nod my head, letting her know that I understand. She nods once and closes the door behind her as she retreats back to the hallway.

"Twenty minutes, Sara. That's all the time we have. I don't think it's enough. I never want to let you go." I whisper.

"You know, Lindsay said yes. She's happy, well, she was happy, when she thought we were going to be together. She was so excited. She couldn't wait to tell her friends. She was so sure that they were all going to be very jealous." I tell her chuckling. "Apparently, you're a big hit on the playground. It's not just my heart or Lindsay's or the boys' hearts that you've stolen, it's also the hearts of a playground of pre-teens too." I say laughing out loud at the thought of Lindsay's school mates looking on jealously as she comes out of school and saunters over to Sara.

"She's trying to be brave for you, goddammit. You do realise that she's lost another parent? How am I supposed to help her through it this time?" I ask raising my voice at her lifeless form.

I know it's irrational, it's not like Sara wanted to be taken away from us. But I'm scared; it was Sara who helped Lindsay the most when Eddie died. I was too busy grieving for the loss she had suffered. Now it's worse, I'm grieving for what we have lost, both me and Lindsay. Shaking myself from my thoughts I look at Sara's face. Reaching up I brush a strand of hair behind her ear. I let my fingers gently stroke along the shell of her ear and down her cheek to her chin. Even now, in death, she's still beautiful. I shuffle my chair forward, trying to get as close as possible to her. I look at my watch and I'm shocked to see that I don't have much time left.

"You've made a huge impact on all our lives." I whisper. "And now you're gone, you're leaving a huge gaping hole that no one else is going to be able to fill. I don't know what we are going to do without you. I'm not just talking about me and Lindsay; I'm talking about the guys too." I pause, thinking about the guys. The only one who seemed shocked about the way Sara and I felt for each other was Gil. I'm guessing that Sara had already told Greg and I told Warrick. I can bet that Greg and Warrick would have told poor Nick. Poor old Nick, I bet he thought that he was the last one to know. If I know Jim and Doc they would have figured it out for themselves but Gil is so oblivious to what goes on around him we would have had to made love on his desk. Even then I think he wouldn't have noticed.

"They're all taking this hard, Sara. Do you know what Jim did today when he saw me? He hugged me and cried. I know us hugging isn't that weird but it was the crying that got to me. I think I've only ever saw him cry once before and that was over Ellie. It makes sense though, he saw you as a daughter. Oh, poor Greg, he was inconsolable." I say, my voice sounding strange as it forces it's way past the lump in my thought as I remember how bad Greg looked when I past the waiting room. Clearing my throat I try to talk again. "Nick and Warrick were with him, trying to comfort him. I couldn't stop to offer him any comfort, Sara. I just sneaked past the waiting room and went find Gil and Jim. I just could deal with the poor guy, I know he's hurting but I'm hurting too. So, I left the boys to it.

"As soon as I saw Gil I knew something was up. Hi face was showing more emotion in the first few minute than he ever did in five years. He started to apologise as soon as I was within earshot. He practically launched himself at me, throwing himself into my arms. He kept saying that he was sorry and it was just an accident. You know Brass had to actually step in and pull him off me. I don't think I've ever been as grateful to have Brass on my side as I was then. He started to tell Gil to pull himself together. He said that although we all love you in our own way, I'm in love with you and you with me. I think I must have zoned out because the next thing I heard, Brass was telling Gil that he had better get his eyes tested and maybe book a CAT scan cause even a blind man could see how much we loved each other, even though we couldn't." I laugh remembering the look on Gils face. It was obvious that he hadn't a clue. His mouth was hanging open and his eyes had glazed over.

"He told me what you said, when you were waiting on the ambulance. He told me that you were grateful for the precious few days that we had spent together; that you wanted nothing more than to help Lindsay with her project; that you love her. He also said that you thought Lindsay was an amazing little girl and you thought she would grow into an amazing woman. Do you have any idea how happy that made me? I've always known that you care for Lindsay, loved her even, but to hear you say that, even though it was from someone else, it made my heart swell." I tell her, tears rolling freely down my face. "She loves you too, you know? She confided in me today that she wanted you to be her other 'mom.' She been having dream about it. Us being a family." A knock on the door interrupts my monologue. "Yes? What?!" I yell over my shoulder.

The door opens to reveal the same nurse from before. She timidly steps into the room and hesitantly looks at me. Taking a deep breath she says, "Miss Willows, it's time."

"Already?" I ask in a whisper. Not quite ready to believe my time is up, I'm not ready to part with her. I don't want to let her go just yet. I can't. "Can't I have a little longer with her?" I ask the nurse. "Please?" I beg my voice breaking.

"I'm sorry, Miss Willows, but I've given you as long as I can. It really is time, I'm afraid." She says sympathetically.

Looking back at Sara, I know what I have to do. I don't want to, I just want to kick the nurse out and lock the door so no one else can get in. So it would just be Sara and I alone in the room. I want to just curl up beside her and hold her forever but I can't. I have to be able to help Lindsay. I know that I have to say goodbye to Sara. I stand from my chair and lean over her. Looking down at her face, I instinctively brush hair from her face.

"Well, Honey, it's time." I tell her softly. "They've come to help you save more lives, Sweetheart." I choke out. "I have to go now so that they can do that. I need to go and see everybody. They're all waiting for me, you see, and Lindsay, she's in a terrible state." I tell her as tears fall from my face onto hers. I use the pads of my thumbs to wipe them away. "I don't know what I'm going to do with Lindsay. I'll just have to take it one hour at a time with her I guess. Thanks to you, I got my little girl back again and I don't want to lose her again. I promise that I'll do everything in my power to make sure that doesn't happen."

The nurse coughs politely behind me, making me aware that I'm taking too long. "Well Sweetheart, I guess this is it." I tell her, unable to say the words I really should. I lean down and kiss her tepid lips. It's not like the last kiss we shared. There's no warmth or passion. I linger for as long as I can stand it, as though she is sleeping beauty and my kiss is all that's needed to revive her. As the miracle I was hoping for doesn't happen, I end the kiss and straighten up. I collect my jacket from the floor where I dropped it and I walk to the door. When I get to the nurse I stop and look her straight in the eye.

"Take good care of her please." I say, nodding my head towards Sara. "She's very special, to a lot of people. She's very special to me." I choke out around the lump in my throat.

"We will, Miss. Willows." The nurse assures me, patting my arm. Unable to say anything else I nod my head. After one last look at Sara lying in the bed, I turn and leave the room.

Outside the door I stop and lean up against the wall, trying to steady my breathing. I feel as though a hand has reached into my chest to squeeze my heart dry and push the air from my lungs. I gasp at the air greedily, fighting to keep the dizziness and tears at bay. Sinking to the floor I try to focus on something other than the unbearable pain coursing through my body. I want to hit something, someone. I want someone to hurt as much as I am. Pushing those thoughts from my head I focus on the wall opposite but the bland colour holds nothing to catch my attention. Countless numbers of legs pass by me, but thankfully no one stops. I don't think I could cope with someone asking me if I was alright. Closing my eyes, I try to focus on the noises around me. Below the usual din of the hospital I can hear music. Haunting music drifting down to me from above.

Suddenly the hairs on my arms and the small hairs at the back of my neck stand on end. I feel a familiar presence. A sort of peace descends on me and I can feel Sara beside me. I know it's not real but I swear I can smell her, that secret scent that was uniquely hers. Leaning my head against the wall, I want to open my eyes. I know that if I do she won't be there. That it's my imagination playing tricks on me but I really want it to be true. I want her, here, now, beside me, holding me, telling me that everything is ok again. Suddenly a voice calls me name and interrupts my thoughts. Snapping my eyes open, I see Grissom standing in front of me.

"There you are. We got worried when you didn't come back." He says looking down at me with compassion in his eyes. Crouching down in front of me he asks. "How are you doing?" If it wasn't for the concern in his eyes I could happily slap him around the head.

"What am I going to do, Gil?" I ask in a whisper. "I don't know what to do anymore." I wail, throwing myself into his arms. I grasp hold of him as though he was the only thing that was keeping me afloat in a sea of choppy emotions. I can feel Gil awkwardly stroking my back, waiting patiently waiting for me to feel better enough to let him go. As my tears subside I feel him wrap his arms around me tightly, surprising me, as he raises us both from the floor.

"Do you and Lindsay want to stay with me for a couple of days?" I hear him ask softly. "We can give the nurses' station my home number and they can contact you there when the time comes to......." He pauses and I turn to look at him. I know what he means, what he doesn't want to say. Shaking my head, I decline his offer.

"No thanks, Gil, but I think it'll probably be best for Lindsay and me to be at home just now." I tell him.

I hold his gaze as best as I can. I don't want him to try to make any decisions for us. I just want to go home with Lindsay and be closer to Sara. Her stuff is still in my spare room. Finally Gil nods, as though he is satisfied with my decision. I'm a little bit pissed off with him now. I don't need his permission to go home with my daughter to be closer to my...... What was Sara to me? My friend? My girlfriend? Or just someone I was in love with? I guess now I'll never truly know.

"We'll all......" He starts but I cut him off before he can go any further.

"No, Gil, I want it to be just me and Lindsay." I tell him determined to get my own way.

"That's fine." He chuckles, much to my surprise. "I was going to say that we'll all be happy to help you both out in any way we can. If you need a shoulder to cry on or someone to watch Lindsay so you can have sometime to yourself or even the dreaded grocery shop. One of us will happily be there to help, ok?" He says looking deeply into my eyes.

Staring into his eyes I can see pain, pain that he's trying to keep from the surface. I tear my eyes away from his and look at the wall over his shoulder. I don't want to deal with his pain too. That would mean that I acknowledge how he felt about Sara. It might be selfish but I'm not ready to do that. Not yet. If I have my own way I'll never have to deal with it.

"Thanks Gil." I rest my head on his shoulder and take strength from the fact that he's not going to try and pull rank and argue with me over this.

"Let's go get Lindsay and get you both home, ok." He says as he guides me through the hospital and out the doors to his car.

Part 13

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