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.
Looking around the room I'm surprised by the amount of people that have come. Of course the boys came, Doc Robbins, Jim and David. Some of the day shift and swing shift managed to come to pay their respects. Even Ecklie came, standing alone in the corner of the room. I'm not surprised he's stood alone. It was common knowledge the way he treated Sara. As I continue to watch him, he raises his eyes from inspecting his glass and ours meet. He gives me a sad smile and a slight nod of his head. Stunned I return his nod and he immediately breaks our link and goes back to studying his glass.
"Excuse me, Catherine?" A voice says from behind me.
"Yes?" I turn to face a harassed looking woman with a young familiar looking girl by her side.
"I'm sorry to bother you, but Mr. Grissom told me that it was you who arranged everything today?" She questions.
"Erm, yeah, I did. Why?" I question. Drawing myself up to my full height as I get ready to defend my decisions. When I think someone might be questioning the decisions I make concerning my loved ones, I tend to go on the defensive.
"There's no real reason. I just wanted to introduce myself and Brenda, here. I also wanted to make sure that you didn't mind if we came to pay our respects."
"Oh." Is all I can say as I look at the young girl at her side? She does look very familiar; I just don't remember where I know her from.
"My name is Wilma Finlay, I'm a social worker, and this is Brenda Collins. Sara was one of the CSI's assigned to her case. In fact I think most of the CSI's in the room worked her case, it was such a high profile one." She says looking around us.
As soon as she said the girl's name, I knew her. I remembered her. Sara was asked to escort the girl to the hospital while she was being examined. I remember how nervous Sara was about being left alone with her. I still giggle when I think about Sara telling us she had left the girl in the car with the window cracked a bit for air to get in. She said it with such a straight face that we all actually believed her. In fact, it wasn't until Sara smiled and told us that the child was actually at the hospital and that she was just leaving to collect her that we all relaxed and joined in on the joke.
"Sara kept in contact with Brenda. We were both shocked to find out that she had died. Brenda wanted to come, to pay her respects. I hope you don't mind." Wilma says snapping me out of my memories.
"No, it's fine." I tell her. "I didn't know that Sara kept in contact with you." I say to Brenda. Sara keeping in touch with victims is just another thing I didn't know about her, that I didn't get a chance to find out.
"Yes, Sara wanted to make sure that she was ok. She was some stability in her life. No matter where she was placed, Sara would always be there for her." Wilma answers.
"That was Sara." I say stupidly, unable to think of anything else to say. I look around the sea of faces trying to locate someone I know. Talking to Wilma make me want to kick myself for the amount of time I wasted arguing with Sara and pushing her away when I should have been getting to know her and pulling her in closer.
I feel a hand on my arm, startling me out of my inspection of the crowd. My eyes follow the slender, fine boned wrist up to the elbow, shoulder, and finally the pinched, drawn face of Brenda Collins. Too shocked to say anything, I stare into her eyes. Eyes that have seen too much badness in such a short time.
"Are you Lindsay's mum?" She asks so quietly, it's hard to hear her in the noise of the room. I crouch down so I am eye level with her and take her hand.
"Yes, I am. Do you know Lindsay?"
"No, I've never met her but Sara talks, talked about her to me. She also talked about you. You're prettier than she said you were." She says in the same quiet voice.
"Thank you." I say as tears nip at my eyes and a blush creeps over my cheeks. Brenda cants her head to the side and looks at me sceptically.
"Sara said that whenever she heard 'bling' she thought of you and she had to laugh. Why was that?" She asks curiously.
I know Brenda doesn't know about Holly or what brought Sara to Vegas but my heart feels torn being reminded of one of the few times that Sara and I enjoyed a laugh together. After I had hung up from the cowardly bastard who had killed Holly, Sara looked and me and asked what 'bling-bling' was. I answered honestly that I had no idea. The both of us shared a rare brief laugh together.
"Why?" Brenda asks again, breaking into my memories.
"Sorry? 'Why' what?" I ask, genuinely confused. I seem to have lost track of the conversation.
"Why did 'bling' make Sara think of you and laugh?"
"Oh, right. It was the first case we worked on together when Sara first came to Vegas. We had found a pager at the crime at a crime scene and got a lead on suspect because of it. When we managed to contact him, I spoke to him like I was a rapper. 'Bling-bling' was something I said to him. When ii had hung up Sara asked what 'bling-bling' was, I just told her that I had no idea and I had just winged it to get the guy." I tell her fondly.
"Did it work?"
"Yeah it did. We caught the bad guy and put him in jail." I tell her proudly. I know pride is one of the seven deadly sins but I feel it every time we got justice for the victims.
"Are you Lindsay?" Brenda asks before I have a proper chance to introduce them.
"Yeah, I am." She asks eyeing Brenda and Wilma suspiciously. I can tell be the tone of her voice she wasn't to ask 'and what of it?' Instead she asks. "Who are you?" Lindsay might be intimidated by Brenda but she won't let her know that.
"Oh, sorry, I'm Brenda Collins and this is Wilma Finlay. We were friends of Sara's. She used to talk about you." Brenda explains.
"Brenda?" Lindsay questions as she stares at her. "Sara told me about you too. She told me that she thought we would be good friends but she wanted to speak to my mum first before we met." Brenda nods her head vigorously to show Sara told her the same thing.
Both girls turn to look at me expectantly. I know they want to share stories about their time with Sara. If Sara wanted the girls to meet she must have thought they would be good for each other. I nod my head and both girls waste no more time and run off to find a quiet corner together. A look of worry must have passed over my face.
"Don't worry; I'll keep an eye on the girls, if you want?" Wilma offers.
"Thanks." I smile.
"No problem." She says as she turns on her heel to follow the girls. As I watch Wilma walking to the girls I wonder why Sara wanted them to meet. Brenda lost all of her family to her sister and her sister's boyfriend, well her mother and her mother's boyfriend as it turned out in the end. Lindsay only lost her dad. The only link they both share is that the deaths were violent. Had Sara been planning to introduce the girls so they'd have each other after she was gone? I guess I'll never know.
"Miss Willows?" A young woman asks gaining my attention. "We are ready to begin." I check my watch not believing that it's time for the final goodbye. I nod my head to show that I understand. She nods her head towards the other end of the room. When I turn I see two other employees close over Sara's casket and start to push it through to the other room.
Watching people file through behind, I want to run. I was to get away from here as fast as possible. I want to go somewhere where no one knows me and I can pretend that this is all a bad dream. I can pretend that Sara is still alive, that she's alive and happy somewhere. Somewhere beautiful where she is happy, living life to the full without her demons chasing her.
I feel Lindsay's hand slip into mine and I'm reminded of why I can't run away, why it's not possible. I'm reminded of why I have to stay here. Looking down at her, she gives me a sad smile. I can see her pain, written clearly on her face. I know that she's trying to be brave. She's trying to be brave for me and for Sara. As I return her smile I feel another hand take hold of my left hand. I turn my head and looked down into the worried face of Brenda. The poor girl looks scared, like she's did something wrong. She starts to pull her hand away from mine but I hold on tight, not letting her go.
"Brenda, can you do me a favour?" I ask.
"Yeah, what is it?" She asks worried.
"Would you sit with me and Lindsay at the front? I think Sara would have liked it." I tell her. "I would like it too." I tell her with sincerity.
"Ok." She whispers as we all head into the crematorium together.
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