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.
I jerk awake as a voice calls my name and a hand is placed on my shoulder. Opening my eyes I see a nurse in red scrubs standing in front of me. Blinking my eyes a few times, I get a clear view of a tired looking young nurse. Finally focusing on her I nod my head.
"Yeah, I'm Catherine Willows. Do you have any news on Sara? How'd the surgery go? When can I see go and see her?" I ask standing up.
"Call me Catherine." I tell her impatiently.
"Okay, Catherine. Do you mind if we sit down and talk?" She asks with a smile steering me back into a hard plastic chair. "I'm sorry to be the barer of bad news, but I'm afraid Miss Sidle died in surgery half an hour ago. The injuries to her wrists were too severe. She lost an enormous amount of blood, even before coming here to the hospital. The doctors were unable to save her." She tells me with a practised but genuine look of sadness on her face. "Would you like me to call anyone for you? A friend or a family member to come and get you?"
Her questions don't really make any sense to me. All I can think is my Sara's dead. Holding my head in my hands I hear a strange low keening sound. I briefly wonder where it's coming from before I realise that it's actually coming from me. Suddenly I feel hot tears roll from my eyes and down my face. No longer concerned with appearances, I cry hard bitter tear of loss and regret. Regret for all the awful, hurtful things that we have said and done to each other in the past. If only I had gotten over myself earlier and accepted her previous attempts at friendship, we could have had a more productive relationship. Now we'll never have that.
As reality slowly sets in, I remember that the guys have still to be told. I know that they'll be devastated. Especially Greg, he and Sara had a close friendship, like brother and sister. I loved to watch them carry on in the break room, the playful banter that would pass back and forth between the two would always make me smile. They'll all look to me for comfort and strength. After all I'm 'mama' Cath, and as far as they know I could barely stand Sara. They won't know that my heart is breaking for the loss of the woman I love with my whole being. They don't know, no one really knows how I feel about her, I guess being a bitch has towards her really hid it well.
I curl up on the hard plastic chair, as best as I can, with my knees pulled up to my chin and my heels resting in the edge of the chair, as though I can protect myself from the truth. I silently curse myself for letting her go without telling her how I truly felt about her. I feel someone roll up the sleeve of my shirt and something sharp pierce the flesh of my upper arm. Looking up I see the same nurse who told me about Sara remove a needle from my arm and put it in a disposal box marked 'SHARPS.' I forgot that she was in the room with me and as the sedative courses through my system I forgot about her again. I curse Sara for her stupidity and hard headedness. If only she could have spoken to one of us, this could have been avoided. I feel the nurse urge me to stand up and help me onto a gurney. As I lay my head on the pillow darkness descends and I drift off into a dreamless sleep.
Waking with a thump, I look around me and realise that I fell asleep in the waiting room. I must have slipped off my chair and woken myself up when I hit the hard waiting room floor. Reaching up to wipe the sleep from my eyes, I feel my face is wet from tears that I'd been crying in my sleep. God, that nightmare had felt so real. As I start to pull myself up onto the hard plastic chair, I hear footsteps approach the waiting room. My body protests the abuse I've made it endure by sleeping in the chair and slipping onto the floor. So I try to relieve my muscles by stretching my neck and rotating my shoulders. The footsteps stop outside the door and I look up.
"Miss Willows?" A doctor wearing scrubs covered with blood stands in the doorway looking at me expectantly. I feel my blood drain from my face as I nod my head, too shocked to speak by the sight in front of me.
"Miss Willows, I'm Doctor Doyle. I was the surgeon working on your friend Miss Sidle." He tells me with a smile. "We had a tough time trying to save her." Tears leak from my eyes and roll down my face uncensored. "The damage to her wrists was extensive. She's really done a number on herself. We went through a lot of blood but she just kept bleeding out. Slicing her wrists length ways meant suturing her veins closed was difficult, to say the least." My nightmare is coming true with every word he says. After a beat he continues. "But we managed it. Miss Sidle is currently being moved into the recovery room. Once we are happy with the sutures will hold and she's improved to my satisfaction she'll be moved into a regular room, then you can go and see her. If you could wait here I'll send a nurse along to take you to see her. It'll just be a little while longer, okay?" He pats my shoulder, stands and moves towards the door.
As the shock slowly retreats I call him back.
"Doctor?" I stand to meet him. "She's really made it? I dreamt that she'd died. This is really real, isn't it? I am awake now, aren't I? This isn't a dream?" I ask him in a rush, holding my hands clasped out in front of him. Looking like I'm begging him for the truth. He takes both of my hands in his, I feel how cold my hands are as the heat from his hands transfers into mine.
"Yes, Miss Willows, this is really real." He tells me with a slight chuckle. "You'll be able to see for yourself soon." He smiles and rubs my hands once before heading out the door.
My knees start to buckle with relief and I have to sit down again. Suddenly feeling too on edge to sit at peace so I start to pace around the room like a caged animal. I realise that I'm anxious. I have no idea what I'm going to say to Sara when she wakes up. I don't think she'd appreciate me shouting at her as soon as she wakes up or even as she recovers. If I'm honest all I want to do is wrap my arms around her and protect her. From her demons and the world. I'm not stupid enough to think that we'll have a fairy-tale happy ending. That she'll wake up and recover then we'll go riding off into the Nevada sunset on a white steed, or in this case one of our SUV's. She'll be suspicious of me and think that I'm here out of pity. It's going to be a tough task making her believe that pity is the last thing on my mind and that I want to be there with her. Simply because I love her.
Twenty minutes later I'm being shown to a side room that Sara has been placed in. Standing in the doorway I look at her. If it wasn't for the heart monitor that she's hooked up to, I would have thought that her body was waiting to be transferred to the morgue. She looks deathly pale and so small lying in the hospital bed. You wouldn't think to look at her now that she could scare a hardened criminal in to confessing or be able to comfort a small child or grieving relative. From here everything about her, everything that makes her Sara, looks as though it's gone. Too scared to move from my spot in the doorway, the nurse who showed me to the room lightly pushed me in the small of the back to move me forward.
"Try not to worry." She tells me with a broad southern drawl. "Sara is just sleeping off the effects of the anaesthetic. When she wakes up she'll be a bit disorientated and groggy but you can wait with her if you want. I think it'll do her the world of good to see a friendly face, one that she knows that is." She tells me while checking and noting Sara's progress before smiling at me and heading out the door leaving us alone since we were at her apartment.
Sitting in another hard chair at the side of Sara's bed, I briefly wonder if there's a rule somewhere that all hospital chairs must be hard and uncomfortable. I feel totally useless just sitting here but I take the time to look at her unobserved. Under the harsh hospital lights it's easy to see that she's been on a downward spiral for quite some time. The black bags under her eyes look big enough to fit my monthly shopping never mind a weekly shop. Her skin looks dry, patchy and it's stretched tightly over her bones. I can easily make out her cheek bones, jaw bone and her collar bone slightly peaking out from beneath the hospital gown that they have put her in. It's obvious that she's not been taking care of herself for quite a while.
I remember reading somewhere that some doctors believe that coma patients can hear what's going on around them and they encourage people to talk to the coma victim. Well, I know Sara's not in a coma, just unconscious, so maybe talking to her will bring her round quicker. The only problem is, I still have no idea what to say to her. It's not like she'll answer any of my questions, although I am determined to get some answers sometime in the future. Leaning forward in my chair, I rest my elbow on the edge of the bed just beside her hip and decide to give it a go.
"Hey Sara, it's Catherine." I tell her watching her face intently, looking for any sign that she heard me. Nothing. That doesn't discourage me though as I continue. "You've got to wake up, Honey, I've got something I want to tell you and I'd rather you were awake when I do. Properly awake, you know, with a mug of coffee in you hands maybe." I joke as I reach out to hold one of her hands in my own. "God, Sara, your hands are like ice blocks. How much blood did you actually loose?" I ask standing up. I rub her hand between both of my own, like I used to do to Lyndsay's on cold days, to try and encourage her blood to circulate more and bring the heat back into her hand. Once I'm satisfied that her hand is warm enough I kiss the palm and each knuckle before I replace it back on her stomach and repeat the process with her other hand. As I'm placing her hand back on her stomach I feel my face flush with embarrassment as I realise that I've kissed her palms and knuckles, like I do with Lyndsay. Slightly mortified, I check both her hands again, happy that the heat in them doesn't appear to be temporary, I sit back down and look out the window wondering how the hell we got here. Looking at Sara I'm surprised at how difficult I'm finding it to talk to her. I NEVER have trouble talking, some say it's a gift.
"You know, this would be a whole lo easier if you hurry the hell up and wake up already." I tell her, slightly bitterly, looking down at my hands clasped in my lap. It occurs to me that I could use this time to practise what I want to say to her when she's finally awake and able to have that conversation. She's here, I'm here and she won't answer me back or try to side-track me. I know her well enough to anticipate her response so this might work. I take a deep breathe and begin.
"You know, when I got out of that meeting and got your message I thought I was gonna lose you. I just never thought that it would be like this." I tell her with a sad laugh. "When I got to your message, I, well I nearly fell out of my chair. I wasn't expecting you to leave a message. Usually if you can't get me on the phone you page or text. I thought that you'd maybe meant to call Gil or someone else. I nearly hung up, Sara, but something in your voice wouldn't let me. Then I thought you were talking about a woman, I was so jealous. I don't mind admitting it now. I couldn't understand why it couldn't be me." I look at her and ask the question that's suddenly popped into my head. "How long have you thought of me as 'your Catherine?' I've thought of you as 'my Sara' for so long it nearly slips out every once in a while." I tell her chuckling at the thought of the times I've nearly let it slip in front of the guys or Nancy.
As I sit here and watch her sleep it hits me again how I almost lost her. The silence starts to press in on me from all sides I can't take it any more so I continue to 'practise' on her. "I didn't move till the message ended. Anyone looking unto my office would have seen me sitting in my chair looking like a statue with a phone pressed tightly against my ear. Once the message had ended I headed straight over to your place. I know I've never been there before but I got your address, don't ask me how, but I got it. I was scared, you know, scared that you'd leave and I'd never plucked up the courage to tell you how I really feel about you. Not that I thought it would make any difference, I know how stubborn you can be when you set your mind on something. For some selfish reason I wanted you to know. I was so scared that I was going to miss you, that I'd be too late to talk to you. To be honest, I don't think that I would have been brave enough to just barge in and declare my feelings for you. I was, I am, scared that maybe you didn't really mean it. Maybe I got it wrong, that you don't feel as strongly for me as I do for you. Maybe I'm reading too much into it. Thinking about it now, I think I'd have used the guys against you. I would have told you how much you mean to the team, all the time I'd want to tell you how much you mean to me. Or how much we need you here, when what I'd really mean is how much you mean to me. I would have tried to guilt you into staying. I'd have used everything I could have thought of to make you stay. I'd have even casted up Eddie's case." I sneak a look at her and cover both her hands with mine. They're still warm, that's good.
"You know, I never said sorry about that day. Thinking back, it seems I said something horrible to you each day since we first me. To be honest, I was hurting for Lyndsay when Eddie died and since I'm being honest I was hurting for myself too. I wanted someone to hold me and tell me that everything would be ok. I wanted that someone to be you, that's why I came looking for you, hoping that you'd take me in your arms and tell me that everything would work out alright and that I would be safe cos you'd look afer me. But as usual I had to be a bitch." Looking at her I decide to bite the bullet, I mean she's unconscious, so the chances of her remembering me telling her all this are slim. When she wakes up I'll let her set the pace. If she wants a friendship, then a friendship is it. Even though it'll break my heart every day, knowing that she loves me too.
"Did you ever wonder why I never cut you a break after Holly's case? Of course you did, it's your job to be curious. You probably thought I was being a complete bitch because I was supposed to see you as a challenge to my status as the 'hot chick' in the lab and field. The real reason was because of our first meeting in the AV lab, you remember? Looking at you standing in the doorway took my breath away. I've never been one for love at first sight, I'm too cynical for that, but I definitely felt something. I couldn't explain it, it was so strong and it scared the shit out of me. I wanted to find Holly's killer for two reasons. One I'd get justice for Holly and two, once we got justice that would send you back to San Francisco and I wouldn't have to deal with you or my feelings for you. But after we solved the case you stayed, it was easier to deny my feelings and continue on the road I'd started. As time went on it became second nature to be a bitch to you. To pick fights and bicker instead of doing what I wanted. All I wanted to do was to hold you and whisper my love for you." I tell her feeling desperate for her to try and understand what I was going through.
"God, Sara, I'm so sorry. I never thought you'd do this. I never thought for a second that you'd have feelings for me. I thought it was Grissom that you were in love with, hell we all did. So I did the only thing I could to protect myself. I kept pushing you away and ignoring your steps towards a friendship. Then you got involved with that idiot Hank. What the hell did you see in that creep? I could never see it. After you found out about him and that Alcott woman I could see how much he hurt you. So, I put my feelings aside and tried to be a friend. I wasn't that good, was I? Everytime we got somewhere I'd mess it up, yet again. I'd get jealous everytime I'd see you flirt with someone, even Greg. Can you believe it? Jealous of Greg. Everytime Grissom touched you I wanted to be him. Well at first I wanted to cut off his hands so he couldn't touch you again. After a while I realised that I couldn't just be friends with you. But I'll try. Honest to God, I'll try. I can't have you out of my life. Even just seeing you in the lab is better than not seeing you at all." I realise that I'm crying again. I don't want her to see me like this when she wakes up. I quickly think of some excuse to get out of her room so I can go and fix my face when I remember that I still haven't told the guys.
"I've just remembered, Sara, that I haven't told the guys that you're in hospital. I've no idea what to tell Ecklie. I know he'd use this against you. I'll think of something, maybe a cooking accident?" I ask her, laughing. "Well I'd better go and call them. You know what they are like. They all love you." I tell her wiping my face dry. I stand and lean closer to her so I can whisper. "Come back to me, Sara. I love you too much to lose you. Now I know that there might be a chance for us, I want us to take it. If you still want to, tht is." I softly kiss her lips. Thankfully they are warmer than they were in her apartment. I turn to leave but stop in the doorway to take another look at Sara before leaving the hospital to fill the guys in on what's happened. I dread making the calls. I get outside wondering what to do about Ecklie, what to tell him so her can't use it to go after Sara later on. I decide to call Grissom first he'll know how to handle the pompous ass.
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