DISCLAIMER: Don't sue! I'm not the boss of the show. Jerry and the head honchos at CBS lay claim to that. I'll have all the players back before night time and will give them bus fare if they need it.
SPOILERS: Some spoilers for the show. I took Sara's DUI and made my own story around that. I even gave Sara her own office - of sorts anyway.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Pain to Kill
By Corbeau's Alcove



People say it's mixing drinks that will give you the headache and vomiting double combo. I think it's pretty safe to say; even though I'm no alcoholic pollster, that once you drink an entire bottle of Jack Daniels straight you'll pretty much get the combo of vomiting and 50-pound bombs exploding inside your cranium.

This is where my life is. As I sit hugging the toilet bowl. Yes, my life is literally in the toilet. Like my play on words? I think I'm very amusing when I'm drunk. Which is all the time so I'm a regular Ellen DeGeneres. Matinee on Fridays, don't forget to tip your waiter.

I blink and it feels like I've got my own strobe lighting installed in my corneas. Why are my eyelids so heavy? More to the point, when was the last time I cleaned the inside of my toilet? It's disgusting.

Oh, train of thought momentarily derailed; another bout of hideous black vomit coming up.

Who can say when this obsession to drink began. If you were to ask my co-workers who were still in the dark they would, firstly be shocked. Then they'd all agree that it's not surprising they didn't know. I'm a shadow in the halls when it comes to personal interaction. I've tried it. With Grissom.

Look where that got me.

Nick, Warrick and Greg would sit around trying to pinpoint the origin of this revelation. Of course, the consensus would be Grissom. It's an easy way out and I'd be able to go along with it because to admit the truth is to admit that I can't handle this job anymore.

Notice I missed out Catherine? She'd probably stare at me in disappointment whenever she saw me; always wanting to lecture me but biting her tongue. She could potentially even think less of me than I do.

Oh my God, why is my shower on the other side of my bathroom? When did I renovate? Wait, hang on. Okay, the room is spinning. Everything is where it was.

Jack is not as tasty coming out than it is going in. The burning sensation as the whiskey hits the back of your throat is a thrill. I close my eyes and cringe the first few but then it's like drinking silk. Slides down and warms my cold and lonely heart better than anything else could. Holding the bottle, thumb on one side, two fingers on the other.

I'm a profession swigger now.

The only bad thing is when you notice the once dark brown liquid has vanished and it's replaced with clear glass. Where did the drink go? I know where it ends up. Either sweated out of my body in a dangerous game of dehydration or it comes out like it is now.

Even making those sounds when I'm vomiting is annoying. Are these tears? I don't cry. I'm too detached from everything to cry. I think it's a natural action that comes with this tortuous tradition. Along with that taste in my mouth. It's indescribable. Sure, I can taste the drink but there is also that potent after taste. I'm at a loss to compare it to something.

I have ten toothbrushes in my cabinet. I can never use the same one again after it's been in my mouth. I laugh at the absurdity of that. I have standards after all. It's a shame no one cares.

It's a shame I don't care.

Alcohol is a choice. That's what we would always say at work if someone was driving under the influence and killed an innocent. We'd curse them for living which, unfortunately, would happen in most cases. How dare they! Now I'm in the same boat as the people we despise. What great company.

That alone should be enough to break me out of this reverie but the siren song of Jack, Jim, Absolut and the others is too strong. Like a force field that I don't have the security access to. I'm on a runaway train and I can't get off no matter how hard I press on the brakes. Gee, the clichés are coming out faster than...well, you know.

I wipe my mouth and flush the toilet. It gurgles and swishes like I'll be doing with my extra strength mouth wash in a few moments. It also symbolizes my sad story, my sad life. I love metaphors.


I remember watching something on television once about the dangers of alcohol on the body. It's funny because she never talked about the dangers to your mind and your demeanor. As I stagger into the kitchen for some painkillers that are purely for the placebo effect, I think about Jim Brass catching onto me with my constant lollie popping behaviour at a crime scene.

Oh denial is a wonderful thing and I just stood there and listened to him. He's a nice man but I don't need a sponsor. I just need to drink. The drink doesn't lecture me or show me the pain of the world. It doesn't commit hideous crimes against other human beings or cry over the loss of a loved one. It's my friend, it's my comforter.

We've had some great times together. I have the small scar on my kneecap from the time Jim took me to a bar. He started it, honest. I tried getting out of the booth and wow, I think someone had come in with a saw and cut it in half, because suddenly I was on my butt. There are no ways to make that look like you planned it so I just stood and went outside to wait for a taxi. I tripped. Probably on air knowing my co-ordination skills and landed on a beer bottle. Ironic really that I'm injuring myself on an alcoholic bottle. It sliced into my pants and stuck out of the fabric. I just ripped it out. I'm tough hey? Yeah, well I'd like to say it's the truth but Jim wrapped his warm arms around me, I felt no pain at all.

He leads me astray sometimes but I know at the end of it he'll still be there to take care of me. One of the funnier times I found myself entering the men's bathroom and vomiting in the urinal. Okay, so that may not be funny when I'm sober and I think of where I had my hands but the look on the bloke next to me was priceless.

He was so concerned, the lovely boy but when he went to comfort me he realised his hands weren't washed. He flushed and washed and then held my hair back for me. After I had finished he simply gave me a wet paper towel, wiped my forehead and left. I tried to get up and offer him a job as my personal toilet hugging buddy but I was like a new born foal, my legs went akimbo and I knew I wouldn't get up.

I never feel pain when I've got my friends with me. I wish I always had that kind of support in my life.

I'm starting work in three hours. Here begins the torture of trying to get sober. I swallow four painkillers and strip my dirty clothes off. I don't care where they lay. My body is protesting, it knows where it's headed. For a cold shower.

The droplets hit my face like sharp icicles. I feel like I've been cheated out of the time I want to have with my bottle. This time spent sobering up could be spent drinking. When I'm under the shower, leaning against the wall because I'm not stable enough to stand on my own, the pain comes back to me. I close my eyes and I see victims. Those who died and those who are left to live without them. I see failure and I see hurt. For every case I can't solve I see the family of that victim chasing me. They want my blood. An eye for an eye takes on new meaning in my mind.

It's funny, one of the most vivid memories I have is of Catherine's face after I tell her the outcome of Eddie's case. I don't often get the chance to look into the eyes of the ones who trust us to solve the case and make it air tight come trial time. I know Grissom gave me that case because I was impervious to her charms. She's wanted to get involved in the case, I was forceful.

What always makes me angry when I think about that time is the urge I had to comfort Catherine. To take her in my arms and tell her I was there for her. Why would I want to do that to someone who has loved knocking me down and seeing the results? It makes me want to have another drink.

Now here's the rest of the routine. More mouth wash, clean my teeth, spray mouth freshener. I put on clean clothes knowing that they'll end up smelling of smoke, vomit, beer or the three of them after my shift. I make an effort to be presentable so I don't give anyone cause for concern. Every brush of my hair is like a sharp stabbing into my skull but I'm used to it now.

Okay, I'm way over the limit. Here comes my daily call to the cab company. They know me there so I know I won't be late for work. Keys, phone, pager. I'm forgetting something. Ah, gum for the trip and my little supply of strong mints.

I'm feeling very unsure on my feet but I've done it enough to know I can mask it. My lanky legs are sometime treacherous but I just shrug it off as having little to no sleep. Let everyone think I'm a work-a-holic.

Let no one know I'm an alcoholic.

I hear to tooting of my cab and I'm off to another day of deception and longing.

"Hey Cath, nice top." Nick said as he saw Catherine hang a red blouse up in the locker room.

"Thanks Nicky, got a date tonight."

"He'd better treat you right," Nick said smiling.

"Oh I'm hoping he does Nicky," Catherine said smiling.

I walk in as Catherine and Nick are playing a game of nudge, nudge wink, wink. It's almost like I'm walking into an episode of Ally McBeal. Unisex locker room? I'm not even sure when that was decided upon but it seems the norm now. I cringe. Seeing Catherine this early in the shift is just asking for trouble.

"Hey Sara." Nick greets me warmly. Damn him for being so happy. And loud.

"Hi Nick. Catherine." Might as well get her greeting over with.

Catherine is looking at me weirdly. I hate how she seems to be able to burn those eyes into me like she knows something. I shift uncomfortably.

"What?" I can't help it but she's still staring.

If Catherine was perturbed by my harsh tone it didn't show on her face. She simply smiled and said, "the buttons on your shirt."

I wonder if this is some kind of game where I have to finish the sentence but I follow her finger pointing to my top. I don't need to finish the sentence, her non verbal cue was enough.

"Get dressed in the dark Sara?" Nick asked grinning.

I smile to cover my embarrassment.

"Yeh Nicky, you know how it is."

"I always mess up buttons when I've had a bit to drink," Nick admitted.

I froze. Was Nick telling me he knew? Did Brass tell him? My hands are shaking and my heart is beating so loud I'm convinced everyone can hear it. This is my after effect of drinking. My speech is slurred whilst drinking but it gets better. The shakes and the fear of getting caught; that's my legacy.

This is the curse of an alcoholic. You are always worried people know and you take things that they say to indicate that. My drinking is under control, I can handle it. I can't handle it when I come to work and second guess every word and every glance my way. My wounds are too deep; paranoia is just a given.

"Sara? Hello?" Nick is waving his hand in my face.

"Sorry Nick, just thinking about a case." I say. I know he'll believe that.

"I was just saying that Cath's got a hot date tonight."

"Nick, Sara doesn't want to know that." Catherine says.

She's right.

"That's great. I hope you have fun." I say. It never hurts to be nice.

Catherine looks at me and I'm finding that I hate it. She could play poker, I can never read her.

"Thanks Sara," she says almost surprised.

Nick leaves when his pager goes off and I'm now stuck with Catherine.

"Are you going to fix your shirt?" She asks me, eyebrow raised.

I nod and undo my buttons. I turn away from Catherine.

"I'm off to the break room." Catherine announces.

I don't respond. I'm too busy trying to stop my shaking hand. I'm so wrapped up in it that I don't hear Catherine come up behind me.

"Are you okay?" I hear her asked. I swear she even sounds concerned.

"I'm fine." I say a little too harsh.

"Your hand is shaking." She states the obvious.

I move away from her, my shirt open. Now all I need is for Greg to walk in.

"I'm just really tired, I get the shakes." I say. Why I'm trying to explain to Catherine baffles me. Why aren't I running away?

"Let me do that for you." Catherine said, her hands grabbing some fabric of my shirt.

That kicks my foggy brain into gear. I pull away so fast I'm afraid my shirt has ripped.

"I'm not your daughter. You don't need to mother me." I hiss. My motor functions aren't at one hundred percent so in my haste to get away I bang my knee on the bench. That hurts when you're sober. I managed to get my buttons done up. Catherine has said nothing but I know she's still there. I sit on the bench to rub my knee and I see her walk past me. She still says nothing but I know she's angry.

I need a drink.


I wanted a simple life. It never really worked out that way. As I trudge to the break room to listen to Grissom - and avoid eye contact with him - I know that my life is taking the path I never wanted.

I see Catherine sitting quietly, ignoring the teasing jaunts of Nick. I take back my previous statement. I have two pairs of eyes to avoid. Not that Catherine seems to be particularly interested in looking up anyway. Oh boy, she must be really mad.

"Nick, Warrick. You have a DB at Caesar's Palace. The car park to be exact." Grissom says as he enters. He never seems to be big on hello's. All business all the time.

I realise that it leaves Catherine and I. I pray he separates us and the two of them can go off somewhere.

"Sara, you and Catherine take a triple murder."

I'm not a lucky girl. Never give me a lottery ticket, I'll only jinx you.

Catherine makes no protest, no sigh. She simply takes the information and nods. I'm pleased she's so angry cause I know I'll be getting the silent treatment. Popping a mint in my mouth I walk past Grissom without a second glance. I know that he is confused by this behaviour but yelling at your boss is not a good career move.

Not that a promotion is in my future.

I meet Catherine at the car. She gives me the keys, which is peculiar. She's notorious for wanting to drive. I'm not confident that I'd pass a breath test so I speak up.

"Ah, Catherine. Would you mind driving?"

She looks at me. Unreadable as per usual.

"Fine." She says and takes the keys. She's so hesitant to touch me that when I pass the keys to her they fall on the floor. She bends down which I'm thankful for because I know I'd be woozy after such a drop.

Without another word Catherine gets in and starts the engine. I lean against the window feeling a little ill. I suck on another mint, sometimes I find that helps. It is calming my stomach enough but my hand is still shaking a little.

"We're here." Catherine says loudly. I realise I'd fallen asleep. At least that'll add credence to my earlier protesting about lack of sleep.

Catherine doesn't wait for me, walking over to Brass immediately. I put my glasses on and hang back. I don't want to be near Brass too much. He looks at me and I swear he knows I'm avoiding him.

"Sara," Catherine calls me over. Now I have no choice but to make my way over.

"It's pretty bad in there. One of my worst crime scenes. Coroner's on his way." Brass warns us.

Catherine takes point. The sound she made when she enters worries me. It was a combination of a sob and a yell. A few police officers, their complexions incredibly white looked to Catherine in sympathy. I saw a pool of blood but Catherine blocked my view of anything else.

It wasn't until she moved back and almost into me that I saw what startled her. A boy, probably about ten sitting on the floor propped against the couch with an execution style wound in his head. Disturbing in itself, but it was the peace in which he was placed. He still had a lollie wrapper clasped in his hand.

I didn't waste anytime fleeing the scene and vomiting in the gutter. No one looked down at me. No one thought I was weak because I was a woman. In fact, a big burly police officer was the first one to come to me with a paper cup filled with water.

"I did it too, a horrific scene." He said to me.

"Thank you." What else is there to say?

I look up and see Catherine standing in the doorway looking for me. Her usually stoic expression has been replaced by one of sheer anguish. I walk over to her and she hesitantly reaches out to touch my arm.

"Do you want to stay out here?" She asks.

Usually I'd find her question as her doubting my ability to do my job but there is a softness in her eyes that surprises and comforts me.

"I'm okay." I lie.

"Okay. Just let me get some air and we'll go back in."

I nod and offer my half drunk water. She takes it and has a sip. I'm tempted to rub her back but I shy away from offering support.

Catherine takes a deep breath and nods to herself as if she was preparing for battle. Smoothing down her clothes in a gesture that served no real purpose, she picks up her kit and walks back in.

I was filled of admiration and respect for her in that moment. I was also filled with self loathing at my inability to detract from the situation. Catherine should have fallen apart, she had a daughter after all.

"There are two more this way," A baby faced officer said.

"How long have you been a cop?" I hear Catherine ask.

"Four months." He answered, his eyes falling on the child and darting away quickly.

"You're doing a great job. Just remember, there is no shame in needing to leave." Catherine says softly.

I'm not good at the comforting portion of our job sometimes and I'm glad Catherine's here. Her words seemed to make the new officer stand a little taller.

"Thank you ma'am." He says.

"See your police shrink. You need to talk about this to move on in this job." Catherine adds quietly.

He nods and shows her the two other bodies. I'm standing near the boy taking photos. I wish I could close my eyes while doing it.

Catherine comes back in a few minutes talking on her cell phone.

"No, we need more help Gil. This one is pretty big."

I hope she's not asking Grissom to come to help. She apparently gets the answer she wants because she looks calmer. I must have been looking at her angrily because she says, "I'm not doubting your ability Sara. I think we need an extra hand on this and Gil's the perfect man for the job."

I want to disagree but I feel an argument over not wanting to see the man who rejected you is highly inappropriate for this situation. I simply nod and continue working.

I don't see any sign of struggle. The coffee table in front of the boy has not moved, the marks in the rug indicate that. I go to the door and see no visible signs of forced entry. I dust it regardless.

The television is still on and I'm amazed that I didn't notice it until then. It's showing the cartoon network and I feel like I'm going to be sick again.

"What's the boy's name?" I ask even though I know I shouldn't. Another name to think about while I'm lining up with another purchase of alcohol.

"He had a bus pass in the bag in his room. Nicholas York." One of the officers tells me.

Nicholas York. A boy enjoying his cartoons and killed as he sat there. I wonder if he knew what was happening. Did he think it was a game? Did he feel terror or shock before it happened?

I have to get away from Nicholas so I go on the search for Catherine. She's in a room that looks like the study. A man in his forties is sitting in the chair near the computer. Another execution style shot to his head. However he looked to have two more shots in his chest also.

"I'd say he got the two in the chest first to subdue him. Then the shot to the head." Catherine said not turning around.

"There was no sign of forced entry, maybe the killer had keys?" I ponder aloud.

Catherine says nothing, she simple gathers more evidence.

"Where's the third?" I ask.

"Kitchen." Catherine says.

I decide to go and process that crime scene. Once there I see that the woman, possibly the wife, is on the floor. The sink is still running. I see two visible wounds. One in her leg and the other the same as the boy and older man. In the head. Her face looks frightened. That face burns into my head and I know that tonight I'll be drinking a lot. In fact, I can taste my first drink as I take photos of her.

"David is here." Grissom says.

I jump slightly.

"Fine." I say.

"I'll take the boy." Grissom says. I know he's trying to do the gentlemanly thing but I still get angry.

"His name is Nicholas." I spit out.

Grissom looks at me and I'm worried he'll say something like he's concerned about me. He just stares and I'm feeling quite nervous.

"Ah, Gil." Catherine breaks the silence.

"We need to get all the shoe prints of every officer who came in here." Grissom said, all business.

"Already doing that." Catherine says.

"Okay, we'll all take one victim. Sara, take the woman. Catherine you've got the man in the study. I'll take the boy."

I know I should protest but I'm glad Grissom has offered to take Nicholas. I wonder if Catherine is also glad.

Grissom leaves and now it is Catherine's turn to look at me.

"This looks personal." She says.

I thought she was going to ask how I was so her comment throws me for a moment.

"Three close range shots, yeah it does."

I see a small blood trail from what looks to be a pantry.

"Hey Catherine, look at this."

She bends down next to me.

"Looks like she's been shot here first then made her way over here to the sink." I say, tracing her steps in my mind.

"But why, if you were shot would you then go and do your dishes?" Catherine asks.

I walk over to the sink and see the cradle of a portable phone hiding behind the toaster.

"To use the phone." I say.

Catherine comes to stand next to me.

"But where's the phone?"

"She came over here to use it but it's not in the cradle. She turns, possibly to try and find it and then she gets shot in the head." I say.

"So she was shot in the leg, left there and then the killer came back and finished her off?" Catherine asks.

It looked like a very plausible explanation.

"This murder was very structured and casual almost." I say.

"We're dealing with a professional." Catherine's shoulders slump. I want to reach out but once again I hold back.

"To kill a young boy with such precision and detachment," I say softly.

Catherine looks at me.

"Who knows why people kill. Let's just hope we find whoever it is."

I know it's meant to be a comforting pep talk but it's meaningless to me. Even if we do find the killer they never receive the maximum sentence anyway. Even on death row prisoners are still afforded privileges. Hell, some of them have been there for years.

Catherine leaves me with my thoughts and I continue to work. I won't be working overtime tonight. I need Jack to take away this heartache I've felt since I walked into this horror house.


We spend three hours at the house and I become increasingly agitated. Not for a drink, although I need one of those, but because I'm getting images of Nicholas' murder in my head. I hit my head in a futile attempt to knock the images out. The only thing that takes the pain away is the bottles of alcohol in my cupboards.

"Let's go," Catherine says tiredly.

I don't argue. In fact I pack up my case in record time. An officer is outside leaning against the fence and smoking a cigarette. He looks unwell and I don't blame him. Another officer is on his cell phone talking to his wife, girlfriend or boyfriend. I hear, "I love you" and I wonder if the three bodies in the house had prompted him to seek solace with a loved one.

I have no one to call. I have no one to wrap me up in their arms and whisper sweet nothings in my ear. It's a fantasy I've given up on but it pops up every now and then. I dismiss it and follow Catherine to the car.

Now that it's just Catherine, I'm nervous. I know she'll want to talk about the scene whereas I want to forget about it. A totally unrealistic thought but I know if I start talking about it I'll show too much emotion.

"I think when we're finished our shift I'll spend my time with Lindsay." Catherine says.

It's a simple and natural thing to say but it feels like a stab to my heart. I begrudge Catherine for having a daughter. For having someone that can help her. I'm tempted to get a whiskey and drink it at work. I've never had a drink at work but I need a connection to something.

"What about your date?" I ask.

"If he doesn't understand he was never good for me." Catherine says shrugging her shoulders. "What about you?" She asks.

"What about me?" I reply.

"How do you try to wind down after something distressing?" She looks over to me.

I find this conversation very uncomfortable. Catherine has never really taken an interest in me and I wonder if she's just asking questions so she doesn't have to think about work.

"I don't wind down." I say.

Catherine looks as if she's been burnt and I realise I was quite abrasive.

"Grissom said he'd let us know about Nicholas' autopsy." Catherine says shifting gears.

"Okay." I respond. I think I may have upset Catherine but that damn poker face tells me nothing conclusive.

The rest of the trip is traveled in uncomfortable silence. I try to think of something to say but other than mindless chit chat on the weather I find I have nothing. Catherine has not looked in my direction the entire time and I wonder what she's thinking.

As she parks, I sigh in frustration. I know I should apologise for being a little too defensive but the words don't form in my mouth. We've both been through a lot and it was probably her way of coping the best she could. Not everyone turns to the booze to get through, some people have pride in themselves. I'm nothing but a tattered shell of a person with nothing to offer other than my ability to taste the difference between scotches, whiskeys and beers.

Warrick greets us in the lab with a sympathetic smile. Catherine leans against him and he places his arm around her. He whispers something to her and she smiles slightly. I feel like I'm intruding on an intensely personal interaction and I try to move away. Warrick sees me and comes over. He is the only person I work with who doesn't concern himself with my supposed dislike of human contact. He pulls me into a fierce hug and I find myself melting into it. He pulls away, his eyes filled with sorrow and compassion.

I'm used to seeing pity but that's usually from my reflection so I find it hard to contend with this. I'm close to tears when Warrick tells me if I need anything to call him. I nod and he leaves. I think he sensed I was at breaking point.

"Doc Robbins got the bullet from the boy. It's in ballistics. I'm running tests on the animal hair Grissom found on his pants. Down near the heel. It's not from his clothing and Grissom tells me he saw no signs of the family owning a pet." Greg says.

"It could be a neighbours pet. Maybe he was over there before it happened." Catherine said.

"Well that's your job," Greg says smiling.

I see Catherine is about to bite back at him. I courageously step in and distract her.

"Want to get a coffee?" I ask. Okay, that was not what I had planned on saying.

Catherine blinks in surprise but follows me nevertheless. We say nothing as I pour two cups and hand one to her.

"Thank you," she whispers. I feel like I'm in a library.

"I was just saving you from committing a crime," I say smiling.

Catherine returns the smile and for the first time in a long time I feel comfortable with her. Perhaps our collective experience of the crime scene has brought out a camaraderie of sorts. I wonder how long it'll last. I'm not getting ready to sing, 'sisters are doing it for themselves' just yet.

"I hope I didn't offend you in the car." I hear myself say. I really should put some coffee in that big mouth of mine.

I'm getting sick of seeing Catherine's face light up in surprise. I don't want to be the person at work who people talk to yet know nothing about.

"No," is all she ends up saying.

"Okay." I reply. Obviously Catherine isn't up for a conversation.

"Would you like to. That is, well would you..." Catherine puts her coffee down and some of it splashes onto the table. I follow the droplets as they hit the floor.


"Would you like to come over after the shift is finished. Spend time with..."

I don't let her finish. Instead I get angry and respond.

"With people? Because I'm a sad woman who has no one?"

"No Sara, that wasn't it at all." Catherine says quite panicked.

I see that our antagonist relationship is easier to maintain so I push her further.

"I don't need your pity or help. I've had bad cases before and I'm sure I'll have them again. If I need any handholding I sure as hell wouldn't come to you." I spit out and head to my office. Yeah, it's not really mine but it is my spot. People know it and call it my office. I don't care, it's a spot I can go to where people will leave me alone.

The funny thing is I thought I saw tears falling from Catherine's eyes as I yelled at her.


Alcohol is like the purest love you can find. It's always there to support and comfort you. You can tell it anything and it doesn't judge you. You can act out of character and it doesn't lecture you.

I left work as soon as Nick said it was time to clock off. I'd been sitting in my office studiously avoiding Catherine before I realised I needed a coffee refill.

Doc Robbins paged me when he'd finished the autopsy on the woman whose name I learnt was Joan York. Housewife who made cakes for the local hospice and volunteered to work in their office twice a week.

"She bled out a lot from her leg wound, I'm surprised she didn't pass out." The doc told me as I stared at the dead woman's face.

"Adrenalin?" I posed the question not really knowing what would motivate someone to get over insurmountable odds. What would I have known about it considering my track record?

"Who can say. Could have been fear for her family."

"But it didn't kill her." I said stating the obvious.

"No and before you ask yes the bullet is out and at ballistics." Robbins had smiled at me but I wondered if there was something behind that comment. I hadn't come down here for that, I'd come down to pay a last respects of sorts to this woman.

He had looked at me after I didn't respond to comment. Once again there was that look, the one it seems should have been named the 'Sidle stare' because I was sure as hell getting it more than anyone.

"Pretty gruesome scene." He had said.


"Takes a while to get that kind of thing out of your system."

I wondered if he was trying to make me feel even worse.

"Catherine was still pale when she came in before. Looked pretty sad too. If you want to talk about it you can come to me." He had offered.

I had to admit, I like the Doc. I liked his professionalism and ability to treat every body with respect. I knew very little about him though. He shared a close bond with Grissom, well as close as anyone could get to him. I wondered if he was like me. A person who worked with a group everyday yet was virtually unknown.

But to mention Catherine, well it threw me. He wasn't one for betraying someone's confidence. I had hoped he wasn't giving me a verbal cue to comfort her. Something tells me she's rather get advice and comfort from Greg.

"Thanks, but I'll be okay." I finally replied.

He had nodded and smiled in reply and went back to work. I took that as my signal to leave and in my office is where I had stayed.

Now I'm on auto pilot. My mouth is watering for a drink and I sit in the cab willing it to go faster.

Once I paid the man I fish around for my keys. They aren't in my pockets. I'd left them at work. I'm not going to go back there in a cab. That money is reserved for more alcohol.

I know that I have to have a drink before I go crazy so I just decide to walk to the bar a few blocks away from me. I can smell the alcohol and cigarette smoke as I open the door. I walk to the bar with purpose and place one arm on the wooden bench.

"What'll be?" The bartender strolls up to me.

"Double Jack. Straight up no ice."

He nods but not before raising an eyebrow at my request.

"I'd like to start a tab." I tell him.

"Sure thing. Pay up after last shout." He says walking off to take another order.

I don't correct his presumption that I'll still be here come closing. I simply take my drink and sit on the stool at the far end of the bar; my back leaning against the carpeted wall. This location is perfect for me. I can see the entire place thus there would be no chance of being felt up or hit on without warning. Not to mention the fact that I've got easy access to ordering more drinks.

I really would have preferred to drink alone but due to my urgency to get out of work I had to make do with this location. I finish my drink and wave my hand to get the attention of the gentleman who served me earlier. He finishes up a conversation with an attractive man and brings over Jack.

"Same?" I nod in reply and he pours.

His green shirt is felt and I almost smile. He looks like Santa's elf.

"Bad day?" he asks.

"Yeah." I say as I take a long drink of my second double.

"If you'd like to do the stereotype 'cry on the bartenders shoulder' routine I'm here okay?" He says smiling.

I have to admit, his happy disposition is infectious and annoying at the same time.

"I'll be okay. Just trying to take some of the pain away." I admit.

"You're not going to drive home?" He asks.

"Nope, walk." I say as he refills my glass.


I'm surprised that he didn't give me a lecture but then again I suppose I am a customer and to deter me from drinking would make his till a little emptier.

I can't remember how many drinks I had when this bloke stumbled up to me. I tense myself preparing for a come on.

"I know you." He says pointing at me.

"I'm sorry, I don't know who you are." I reply.

"Four months ago. You came to my work with a hot strawberry blonde."

I have to get away but I can't move.

"You took my DNA." He says whispering. "Can I get it back?" He asks laughing.

I look away trying to calculate the faster route to the women's restroom. I need to make no further plans because my friendly barkeep has come over.

"Leave her be Trevor." He says.

He's obviously a regular.

"I was just chatting. I know her." He says, leaning against the bar for help.

"Go on or I'll cut you off."

Trevor's eyes open wide and he takes the hint. Looking once more at me he leaves.

"Thank you," I say sincerely.

"I just assumed you weren't up for company." He says shrugging his shoulders.

"I'm Sara." I say extending my hand.

He grasps it firmly but not too hard.

"They call me J.R" he says.

"Thank you J.R." I say.

"Here, another. On me." He says.

I take it and wonder why he's still supplying me with alcohol when I'm clearly hitting the drunk portion of the evening. My mind is a little heavy, but in a moment of clarity I wonder if he has an ulterior motive to plastering me with doubles.

I think I've had enough of this place for now and I push myself up off my stool. My sleeves lay in a pool of spilt drinks but I don't care. I wave J.R over and tell him I'm leaving.

"Let me call you a cab." He says.

I don't argue with him but I do wonder where I will go.

He comes back and adds up my bill. It comes to a lovely round figure of $60 and I pull out a few folded bills to cover it. Man drinking is an expensive venture. Next time, I tell myself, I'll pick a destructive path that is cheaper.

"Thanks for the drinks," I say unnecessarily, after all it's his job to serve me but I suppose I'm thanking him for not hounding me and also rescuing me.

"You take care Sara." He says as I try to push the door open.

It won't work. The doors seem to be telling me to stay and drink more. Is Jack's power so strong over me that doors won't open when I push them?

"You have to pull it," A man standing near me says.

Oh, maybe Jack's power isn't that strong after all.


The day is pretty bright and I pull out the sunglasses that I had remembered to pack into my pocket. I'm trying to think of a place to crash before I have to go to work. However a more pressing matter has to be attended too.

I run to the gutter and let it all come out. My knees land in the edge of the vomit as I lean down. I'm dizzy and my throat hurts. Let's not even talk about the drum in my head that is threatening to turn into a thrash metal song.

The cab that I'm assuming was for me sped past. Not that I blame him, I wouldn't pick up a loser like myself; knees in her own vomit.

I feel that I've given enough to the gutter so I rock on the balls of my feet and land on my back. My head is spared further pain as I just miss hitting it on the hard surface. I roll to my left and somehow manage to get up. Oh well, the walk may sober me up a little.

I get a few stares from people as I walk home. It's a hot day out but I'm hugging my body like I'm trying to protect it from a chill. I wiped off a fair bit of the vomit with a newspaper I found but I can still smell it. It almost makes me want to vomit again.

How will I get to work looking like this? I reek of booze and stale smoke. Let's not even mention the shape my clothes are in. I want to go home but I can't get in.

Okay, I'm smart when I'm sober. I've got a pretty good mind. Drinking - forget it! It wasn't until I realised that I was at my unit that I could call a locksmith. I'd hit myself on the forehead if it didn't already hurt so much.

I pull my phone out and dial directory assistance. I try to steady my speech and I must have succeeded because the woman gave me a number. I forwarded it and pressed call. It rang and rang and I was worried that no one would answer. As I was about to hang up I got through. Giving a sob story of sorts I managed to move three people up the list. I should have felt bad but I didn't. I needed to get into my flat.

I sat leaning against my door feeling very queasy and embarrassed. I must have managed to fall asleep because I woke when I felt someone standing near me.

"Miss Sidle?"

I tried to focus on the voice but it took some doing. I pulled myself up and nodded.

"I'm here to get you inside."

It wasn't until the locksmith brushed past me that I realised it was a woman. An attractive woman at that. She filled out the overalls perfectly and I could tell she was toned. I found myself staring at her as she worked like I was in a trance. Her short strawberry blonde shoulder length hair was so soft I had to stop myself from reaching out to stroke it. Who knows, maybe it was beer goggles but she looked great.

She hummed as she worked and I found it oddly soothing. When she finished she turned to me and smiled.

"Big night?"

I blush profusely.

"Ah, yeah. Sorry, I must look and smell pretty bad."

She smiled once more and I found myself wanting to see it again.

"I've been there. Nothing to be embarrassed about." She says shrugging.

"Thanks for getting that done," I say unsure what else to say.

"Don't stress, you can now get in there; shower and take a few painkillers," she says smiling.

I nod and hand her the money I was told it would cost. She pushes my hand away.

"This one is on me babe. As I said, I've been there."

I want to argue but my energy reserve is sapped.

"Thanks," I say.

She smiles once more and I wish my place wasn't such a dump otherwise I'd invite her in.

"I'm off, you take care Sara. Give a spare set of keys to a friend, I find that saves a bit of cash." She says winking. With a wave she's gone.

I try not to feel sorrow over her last comment or the fact that I was enjoying her company. I open my door and cringe. The smell is terrible. I wouldn't even know how to describe it. I trip over a bag that jingles when moved. I know what's in there, there is no need to open it. It's last weeks empty bottles.

I smile. At least I'm a clean drunk.

I undo my belt and unzip my pants letting them fall on the floor. I walk over to the medicine cupboard and take out four painkillers. I pour a large glass of water and sit on my couch.

I close my eyes and see little Nicholas. I open them, throw the pills in my mouth all at once and take a gulp of water. The routine is becoming tedious.

I think back to the attractive locksmith and I smile. It's not often these days that I find something to smile about so I cherish it. I close my eyes and try to focus on her face.

My serenity dissipates when I think about her hair and it leads me to think of Catherine. I sigh as now it's the only thing I can think about. I was pretty rude to her today, that I know. I should have held my tongue but I found it impossible. She's the only one who can get under my skin like that. I hate it. She has been stalking me in some form or another since our last shift started.

I need another drink to erase her sad expression from my mind. To erase those tears I think I saw. To erase the need to call her and apologise.

I see a half empty bottle of Jack Daniels on my table. I know I shouldn't drink, not after vomiting and talking four heavy duty pills but I don't care. That scene yesterday was a first for me. I've not been sick on a scene without the cause of it being alcohol. I put my glass of water down and reach for the bottle.

I feel like an infant as I put the bottle to my mouth. I remember a time I was shopping and an infant was screeching for what his mother knew was a bottle. The sound was piercing and attention grabbing, it was almost as this young boy was seeking food for the first time it was so intense. Little tears ran down his face as he put his hands out in what only could be described as a begging motion.

I'm like that now only my screeching is silent. Yet, it speaks volumes. I'm confused. What am I trying to say?

The pain for sustenance runs through me as it did through that child. Funny how an adult and child don't vary too much.

Thinking of that baby just brings me back to Nicholas. Not that it was a stretch anyway. I take a long drink and it burns my throat. It's still sore from vomiting outside the bar. I shake my head and flinch and I know the only cure for that is more alcohol. I lay on my couch and numb my mind.

I hope I left the bathroom door open.

Oh, my head's sore. I feel like I'm at a sing-off between Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey. I get up slowly knowing that to go any faster would be plain silly. The empty bottle falls to the floor.

It takes a moment to gather my bearings and I realise it's my phone that is making that noise. My mouth is furry and truly disgusting.

"Hello?" Oh was that my voice?

Obviously the called wasn't sure either because when they finally speak my name is repeated in a question.

"Sara? It's Catherine."

Oh kill me now.

I say nothing so she continues.

"Work started ten minutes ago and I was just, well I was wondering if you were coming in."

Her tone is very cautious, like she's awaiting an eruption.

I'm more concerned about the fact that work had started and I wasn't there. I must have blacked out. Shit.

"I'm coming in Catherine, I was just waiting for my cab," I lie.

I'm sure Catherine wants to call me on my lie considering I answered the phone like I had just woken up but she simply asks if she can cover for me while I try to get there.

"I'll just call Grissom and let him know the cab is late." I say. I don't want to owe her any favors.

"Okay but he's pissed today," Catherine warns me.

Just what I need.

"Okay Catherine, cover for me. Say I'm at the scene just double checking something." I say reluctantly.

"Okay Sara."

She hangs up and I wonder what I'll have to do in return for this. I shouldn't think like this but it's that paranoid feeling I have. I can't drink that away.

I get in the shower. It's cold but it wakes me enough to realise Catherine reached out when she didn't need to. Especially with the way I treated her. I scrub twice with raspberry and vanilla body wash. I kill time by using mouth wash in the shower. It's not terribly attractive but I've done worse.

I'm thankful that I have a pair of pants and top to wear but I know I'll have to wear my official sleeveless vest today to put my mints in because these pants have no pockets.

It's not until I'm blow drying my hair that I realise I haven't called a cab. If I called now it would take too long. I panic. I throw my brush on the floor and kick a shoe I discarded last night. I think of having a quick beer to calm my nerves but resist.

I do the only thing I can do. I call Catherine.

Part of me is telling me that it's not the only thing I can do. I can call a cab and wait. I could get my neighbour to drive me but then I'd have to explain why I can't drive my car. I could just call Grissom and take a sick day but I know he'd faint and then yell at me for leaving his team in the lurch on such a big case. Suddenly, going through all those options I'm in complete agreement with every part of my mind. Calling Catherine is the only option.


I wonder why she wouldn't recognise my home number until I realise no one other than Grissom knows it and that's only because it's on my file somewhere. He's only called me once and I think he was as surprised as I was that he was dialing that number.

"Catherine, it's Sara."

"I told Grissom where you were." Catherine says a little defensively.

"Thank you but I need something else." I say through gritted teeth.

"No need to sound so depressed about that," Catherine says and I know she's smiling at my obvious discomfort.

"I need a lift. Can you leave and pick me up?"

Catherine is distracted by a voice in the background.

"Ok Greg, I'm on it." She thanks him and comes back to me. "I'm on my way Sara. After you give me directions."

I tell her the corner of my street. For some reason I don't want to tell her where I live. She tells me she's on her way and I hang up without saying thank you.

After a quick check of my appearance and a walk up and down the hall to check my gait I gargle once more and head out to wait for Catherine. She arrives ten minutes later.

"Grissom wants to meet us at the scene." Catherine says.

"What? Why?" I ask startled.

"Calm down. He wants to check something from the crime scene photos. He said considering I was on my out there I may as well stay with you until he arrives."

"Will he get there before us?" I ask worried.

"No. I asked Greg to corner him. I owe Greg tickets to some Blink concert." Catherine says shrugging.

"Blink 182," I say absentmindedly.

"Well whatever number, I said it was fine."

We pull up at the house and I'm hit by the full force of a memory of the first time I was here. Catherine sees my obvious discomfort and pats my arm.

"You can stay here, I'll just pretend I was collecting your kit while you took a break."

I know Grissom wouldn't believe that.

"I don't even have my kit."

Catherine smiles and I frown.

"I bought one. Figured you needed to make the illusion all that more believable."

I struck by Catherine's actions.

"That was resourceful." I comment.

"It was no trouble." Catherine says shrugging and walking into the house.

I know she's reaching out but I'm not sure why. It started with drinks after the Hank debacle but I just thought it was her way of apologizing for being so harsh with Eddie. Then we kind of drifted away again. I think that time it was my fault. I was on a promotion kick, I wasn't acting normal. I always sought encouragement that I was doing my best at this job and while I had usually found it in a closed case I found I wanted something more solid. To prove to others.

I was also lashing out at Grissom and I did it in public. I think that grated Catherine because she sees Grissom as a friend who was being attacked. We still worked cases together and worked well but there was no real banter. Just the professional wall.

Don't even get me started on that time I was pissed when Catherine took that big case; Howard Delhomme, from Nick and I. I had started saying to Nick I'd rather work with him that Catherine any day and that she was threatened by me because I was another woman. Even Nick tired of it.

There are numerous things in our history that we've done wrong but maybe Catherine was trying to show that we're work mates and that should come first. If only I could rise above my own issues.

The truth of the matter is simple. I'm afraid that if I let Catherine in she'll find out about my drinking. I said it before, she gets under my skin. She'd notice it if I let her close to me. I can't afford that so I keep her at arms length with my bitchy comments. However I broke my own rule today and I'm afraid it'll just cause a cascade effect and soon Catherine will be too close.

"Hey Sara, Gil will be here soon, you'd better look busy." Catherine yells from the door. I see she's smirking at my daydreaming.

I brush past her and she sighs. That's good, I'm keeping her at arms length. I pat myself on the back.

"Sara, what is going on?" Catherine asks.

I won't turn around. I won't turn around.

I turn around and face her. She looks at me with soft eyes.

"What do you mean?" A question with a question, that's a good idea.

"With you. You're lukewarm and cold with me. Yesterday you were a real bitch." Catherine says. I know she didn't want to show that I had hurt her but she did.

"I'm just trying to work Catherine." I say.

"Work at an imaginary idea you had?" She asks sarcastically.

I know that tone. She's not happy.

"Look Catherine, you offered to cover for me. If you didn't want to I could have called Grissom. Do you want a thank you? Thank you. What else do you want from me?" I ask exasperated.

Catherine comes too close to me. I back up but find only wall.

"Your eyes are bloodshot, you've got bags under your eyes. You're losing weight. The others may not notice but I do."

"Congratulations Catherine, you're the world's best investigator. Now run along to Grissom and tell him how much better you are than the rest of us." I spit out.

That stung her and I'm glad. Yet I'm also sad that I caused that. Should I get myself checked out by a health professional?

"Fine, you want to live your life like that go ahead. Just remember this is the turning point. This is where I offer to help and you turn me down. This is the point where I step away." Catherine says backing away from me.

It's not until she does that that I realise I was holding my breath waiting for her reply.

I also remember back to my bitch session with Nick during that Howard case. 'You know what the worst part of this whole thing is? Catherine knows I can do this case.' I had said almost whispering. Why didn't that strike me as a weird thing to say at the time?

I see Catherine is awaiting a reply and I find I have none. She takes the silence to mean I want nothing to do with her help and leaves the house saying over her shoulder, "I'll wait out here for Gil."

I hit my already sore head against the wall. Jack, where are you?


I stood at the door watching Catherine fidget with her belt while we both waited for Grissom. She looked at me once and turned away sighing.

I was unable to communicate with her. I was unable to communicate with anyone, but Catherine had been the only one who had offered help. She may not have known the problem but to even acknowledge it was a big step in my mind. It made her even more dangerous.

I wish I had some kind of counselor or confidant who could advise me but when I talk to Jack there is no give and take. Well that's not entirely correct. He gives me shelter and I take it from him. Probably too much but he never complains. Can I ask him? The closest I've come to conversation outside work was with J.R. I am not going back there to discuss Catherine. That would be a total and utter B-Grade movie stereotype that I simply couldn't go through with.

Great, now I'm staring out at her and Grissom is here. I didn't even notice.

I have to put on my glasses, the glare is too intense and that's just from Catherine's laser beams. I'm working with a killer headache and another blackout, you'd think she'd let up just this once.

"Get what you needed?" Grissom asks.

I simply nod. I know he won't ask what I was working on. He's been afraid to really ask anything of me since my recent behaviour. It all started when I asked him out and he turned me down with one of the most pathetic reasons. Then my motor mouth when I asked him if my lusting after him would hurt my promotion chances. Oh let's not forget the sulky mode I'm constantly seen in now.

It's all his fault. He was easy to go for. My automated answering machine has more emotion than Gil Grissom. I could attach myself to such a man because I didn't have to work at being with him. Little did I know it would take so much work to get to the point where I didn't have to work. Confusing. Frustrating. A waste of time.

After all, this man collects insects. Insects! I see a spider and I don't think oh gosh I'd better put it in a jar and stare at it, try to understand it. I get my shoe and wham; squashed spider.

I did have a fly in my Jack once. Man I was angry, there was still about one sip left.

His grizzly bear face is in no way endearing. I'd rather kiss sandpaper to get that rash on my face. Sandpaper is cheaper and I can re-use it on my walls. It's amusing because I've never thought of having a sexual relationship with this robotic human. It was purely companionship. Funny how when I've been drinking I think clearer.

Okay, is something wrong? Both Catherine and Grissom are looking at me.

"Are you going to stay here or get a lift back with Catherine?" Grissom asks. Something tells me he's asked a few times.

What's my third option?

I do need to get back to the lab. I can't let petty fighting get in the way of my job. Then again, I could just pull some overtime and stay with Grissom. At least he's completely devoid of human emotions.

My need to find the killer wins out.

"I'll go with Catherine." I say.

Looking at Catherine's reaction I see she's surprised. There is something else there but I'm not sure if it's relief or anger. Her walls may just be as high as mine.

I follow Catherine at a safe distance. She unlocks the car and I put my kit in the back. She makes no eye contact as she starts the car. The only time she looks in my direction is to see how far away she is from the gutter.

The silence is nothing new but it's mixed with fear. That's all from my side of the car. I know Catherine isn't aware of my drinking but if she's managed to notice that I've lost weight she'll find out the truth eventually. She loves to know all about you; it's her naturally inquisitive nature. If she sees my shakes, sees me popping mints and notices my uneasy gait it'll hit her in no time.

I know that I have to pretend that I'm just tired. I've played the role of a straight laced investigator with nerves of steel; what's one more part to play? I can maintain a coolness under Catherine's criticism and superiority. I can bite my tongue when I want to attack back. I'll stay away from her unless she is the only one who can help me with something. I'll maintain a professional approach to our work. It'll be like the world's worst break-up.

I must have been deep in thought for a while because I notice Catherine getting out of the car. We're already back at the lab. At last, some distance between Catherine and I.

Greg bounds up to us and I see Catherine smile at his eagerness. He rattles off the particulars with the gun. Nick's working on it and is looking through registered owners. Catherine thanks Greg for his work and he blushes.

I stand there unsure if I need to be here for this. I can get the information at our meeting but I'm reluctant to go into my dark office and start shifting through the death and depression of my job.

"Are you going to work?" Catherine asks. I see she's come to no such agreement that I had come up with in the car.

It takes all my control not to retort. I just walk past her and tell myself that I'm making progress.

I flick the light on and am momentarily frozen. The photos from the scene are stuck up on the huge boards. Nothing like getting hit front-on by the memory. As if going back to the home wasn't enough.

I've layed Joan's clothing out looking for a clue. There is no such gem like the one we found on Nicholas but I do find a small pool of dried liquid. It's clear so it's not blood. It's in a pool on the top part of her blouse. I frown. Water from the tap? An old stain cleaned up?

I remember Doc saying something about the amount of saliva spent from her mouth and it dawns on me that she was drooling as she moved her injured body from the pantry in search of her phone.

I find that revelation incredibly depressing. I feel as though I am living her last minutes. Pulling herself along with sheer determination, her leg pouring out a copious amount of blood. She would have used her hands, her elbows, and her torso to move herself along.

Did she hear the killer go in search of her family? Of her child?

"Why did you not yell?" I ask her shirt.

I look at her final resting place in the photo. I see a bit of drool coming from her mouth. I trace her face with my finger.

"Your family was in trouble and you had to save them. Why didn't you yell?"

I'm suddenly angry with her for not trying harder. It's irrational but I don't care. I pick up my stapler and throw it. I don't worry where it lands.

There is a knock at the door.

"Hey, Sara. You okay?" Nick asks.

I open the door slightly.

"Sorry Nick, just dropped something." I say.

He seems to take that and is on his way. Maybe he could teach Catherine that.

My eyes go back to Joan. Why didn't she tell her family to run?

My pager goes off. It's Grissom calling me for our progress report.

Everyone is seated when I arrive.

"Okay, so we all know where we are at. Brass has a woman who saw a man who wasn't a local, sitting with a police sketch artist now."

"Will it prove to be any help?" Nick asks.

"All avenues Nick," Grissom says like he's scolding a small child.

"I'm looking over Joan's clothing." I say.

"Find anything?" Catherine asks.

"I'll have to get back to you." I reply. Catherine just nods.

Grissom hates long conversations so he tells us to continue working. I sigh. What a waste of time that was.

I go to make a coffee to keep my awake and my hand is beaten out by Catherine's. I see her pouring and notice there is not enough for two cups. Catherine simply puts the empty pot back and leaves me to refill it. No words passed. She didn't even look at me.

I don't need this. I've got an incredibly bad case and I need a drink desperately. I certainly don't have room for her childish antics.

I'm mad when I reach her office. I don't knock, just enter in and close the door behind me. Catherine looks up startled by the sudden noise.

"Come in." She says dryly.

"What the fuck is your problem?" I yell.

"There wasn't enough for two." She says, returning to her work.

I see she's got a dummy out and dressed in her victim's clothing. I assume she's trying to predict the trajectory of the bullets.

"I'm talking about your behaviour towards me." I say quieter this time.

"I told you Sara. I offered help and you spat on it. I'm just working now."

I am fuming when I get to Catherine and spin her around so she can see and feel the fire in my eyes.

"You've been going out of your way to be nice to me. To lay pity on me. Well I don't need it and I never asked for it."

Catherine moves back from me obviously unsure how to approach me in this particular mood.

"If I had given you my coffee you'd just say I was trying to pity you so I did what we normally do. Minimal talk." Catherine said as she hit her back on the wall. It caught her by surprise, I don't think she realised she had constantly backed away from me.

"This is not about coffee!" I shout.

"Good. I knew you were addicted but I didn't think it was that bad."

The word addicted stops me.

"I'm not addicted." I say defensively.

"Oh come on Sara. You can't go without your fix. It makes you cranky and really unapproachable."

It burns inside to hear Catherine talk about it. I know she's referring to caffeine but the description rivals my alcoholic obsession.

I stride up to her and am inches away from her. Her breathing has increased and I see her fearful eyes. I grab her shoulders and push her back so she's got no way to escape. The monster in me has been unleashed and I can't tame it.

"Sara, let me go." Catherine whispers.

Her panic only further makes me want to see her squirm.

"You have always been against me. All because I came in and replaced your precious Holly and dobbed on Warrick. He accepts me now, why haven't you?" I hiss.

She tires to wriggle away but I've trapped her.

"Sara, let me go."

That one was said with more force and it only further excites me.

I lean in and feel her breath on my lips. It almost sounds asthmatic with the fast rhythm and heaving chest.

"You're hurting me," Catherine whimpers.

That snaps me out of my daze. I jump back like I've been on the end of an electrical current. Catherine has sunk to the floor with tears falling from her eyes. My hands are shaking and my stomach feels like I've swallowed razor blades.

I move backwards and hold my hand over my mouth. I'm going to vomit.

There is no time to run to the bathroom. I see Catherine's bin and rush over to it. I didn't make it at first and some of it gets in, the rest trickles down the outside of the bin.

Oh my God, what have I done?


I can hear a soft whimpering trying desperately to be controlled as I wipe my mouth. I'm flooded with the images of my aggressive moves and I can recall the power I felt. I can still feel it as it calms down but the pumping in my veins has lessened since I vomited.

I felt the restraint in me slipping away and I had to get my control back. Catherine words have taken my control from me. It was unintentional; she just said the wrong thing. Like a tiger I stalked my prey and didn't stop even when she tried to break free.

I'm torn in two. I know I need to get out of Catherine's office but I want to see if she's okay. She may not even want to see me. My hands are sore and I look down at them. I squeeze them and I remember grabbing onto Catherine. Hard.

"Get out." I hear. It takes me a moment to realise that it's not my internalized debate but Catherine who is saying it.

"Catherine." Okay now I know I'm supposed to say something else here but I'm at a loss to know where to start.

"Get out."

This one is said with more force and I think Catherine's fear has been replaced by a determined and angry woman.

I get up and try to look at her but she's avoiding my glare. I open her door and run to my office. I don't care if anyone sees me. Once inside I lock the door and collapse to the floor. The tears are an unexpected thing and equally unwanted but I can't stop the onslaught. They hit the floor and bounce before expanding and leaving flat wet pools.

I'm on my hands and knees trying to breathe at a regular pace. It only stops a sob and chokes it. I have to expel air to release it and, in turn, release more tears.

To say I'm in need of a calming drink would be an understatement. I somehow manage to calm down my bout of hysterics and sit crossed legged on my floor. I make the mistake of looking up and facing the photos of Joan. This only brings on a new batch of tears. If I don't get out of this place and hide myself in a soft and comforting bottle of anything soon I may just never get out of this room.

Not that anyone would notice. Only the smell of my decomposing body would alert suspicion. Unrecognizable in death, unknown in life.

My body is aching for the pain to be lubricated and cocooned by an alcoholic intoxicant of my choice but I have three more hours of work. Actually, that has gone a lot faster than I expected. I suppose assaulting a fellow co-worker takes some time.

I tell myself that if I do three solid hours of work I can not only have more evidence to collect but I can get out of here and get drunk faster. I shake my entire body, waking it up and suck in a big breath. I can do this.

The phone rings and I am slow to answer it. I'm thinking about Catherine and even though I promised I'd focus on work this is one of the few times I'm unable to do so.


"Sara, it's Warrick. Brass has a suspect."

He hangs up and I rush to the interrogation room. Catherine is there talking with Brass and it stops me in my tracks.

"Hey Sara." Brass looks at me and I hope my eyes have lost some of their redness.

"Heard you got a suspect."

"This bloke was hanging around the York's house. Uniforms brought him in."

"Same as the sketch?" I hear Catherine ask.

"No but my boys said he was acting strangely."

Not concrete evidence of wrong doing but considering we had nothing else we could get lucky. I hope he confesses and I can go home.

"Okay, ready?" Brass asks us.

Catherine walks in first and I wonder if it would be a good idea for me to be there with her.

"Sara?" Brass looks at me with a raised eyebrow.

"I'll just view from in here," I say pointing to the observation room.

I know Brass wants to ask why but he nods and closes the door behind him. Catherine turns when she hears the door close and then looks to the two-way mirror. I shiver even though I know she can't see me. Her eyes are dark and sad and I hope it wasn't me who was the culprit. Something tells me, as she blinks and it's gone that I am indeed the reason.

"Mr. Merchand, can you tell us why you were hanging around the York's place?" Brass opens with.

He moves his hands off the table and I see what, from my vantage point, looks like sweat marks. I wonder if that's because he's nervous or guilty. Or both.

"I'm a writer. Criminal stories." He replies.

"You were entering a secure police scene." Brass says.

"I'm sorry but I wanted a closer look."

Catherine opens a file and throws a few pictures of the scene his way. I have to turn away when I see one of Nicholas.

"This is what you wanted isn't it?" She asks angrily.

Merchand pushes them away, visible startled by Catherine's approach.

"You want to write criminal stories this gruesome and startling?" Brass asks following Catherine's play. I saw his expression change when Catherine made her bold step. I think he too was surprised.

"Why are you attacking me?" Merchand asks.

"Do you own a gun?" Brass asks shifting the interrogation.

"A gun? No. Why?" Merchand by this stage looks confused.

Brass just looks at him. I've seen that stare many times and it never ceases to amaze me how effective it is.

"Wait a minute. You think I killed that family?" Merchand says standing up.

"Sit down," Catherine orders.

"I didn't kill them. Why would I need to go to their house if I killed them?" Merchand asks. He's seated at this stage. I would have sat too if Catherine had used that tone. In fact, it's pretty close to the one she used on me to get me out of her office.

"Killer sometimes like to see their outcomes," Brass says shrugging.

"You can't seriously believe I can kill a young boy?" Merchand says.

"Granted, not many would include a young child in such a style but I've seen on this job that nothing is impossible." Brass says shrugging.

"I know, I know. In other countries child executions are rampant. Here, two recent death row inmates were executed by the state. Keith Bernard Clay and Shannon Thomas for the murder of two children aged 13 and 10, shot execution style in the head. Riley Dobi Noel was killed lethal injection for the execution style killings of three children aged 17,10, 12."

I was impressed with Merchand's knowledge. Apparently so was Brass but for another reason.

"So you know your facts but that doesn't prove your innocence."

"And it doesn't prove my guilt. So if you'll excuse me I'd like to go." Merchand stood and waited for Brass to say something.

"Don't write any of this in your book," Catherine warns him. I see him shake and I think that she may just have scared him into complying to anything she'd ask.

As he leaves I hear Brass tell Catherine he doesn't think he did. I have to agree but it doesn't mean we strike him off altogether. After all, we've been duped before. Some killers are incredibly intelligent.

"Yeah. I think he's just as he says." Catherine agrees.

I decide I've seen enough and with about half an hour till I can leave I decide it's time to get a coffee. As I'm leaving Catherine is also. I think about going back in the room but it would look incredibly ridiculous so I simply look at her.

She avoids making eye contact and walks right past me. I see her body flinch as she goes by.

"Catherine, can I..." unfortunately the much needed eye contact I had wanted a few seconds ago almost floors me when Catherine looks up.

Her eyes are wide and I could have sworn there were flames burning in there.

"If you EVER come near me again I will have you fired." Catherine hisses at me.

I'm stunned by her tone; it's nothing I've ever heard before. Her body is shaking as she says it and I wonder if this is the angriest she's ever been.

"Okay." I say softly.

It's pretty unrealistic to ask me to stay away from her while we are working but I understand what she means.

I look at my watch. Twenty three minutes.

Sitting in the break room having a coffee I smile as I hear Greg trying to impress Grissom.

"Because there were no prints on the bullet and we don't have the actual gun it's pretty tricky. If I had the gun I could test the pistol slide for prints. As for the hair, well it's from a poodle. A white one."

Grissom just stood there, the blank expression that adjourned his face ever present.

"We have ballistic people Greg," was Grissom's response to Greg's report.

The poor boy. His face changed for a second and then he just smiled. Good boy Greg. Don't make the mistake I did when I let it get to me.

I think about the bullet hole in the pants leg of Joan's trousers. The shot wasn't as close up as the ones to the chest of Brian York. This killer wasn't scared about getting evidence on himself. Or herself. I did a muzzle-to-garment test and the killer was probably a few feet away when the bullet was fired. The bullet wipe residue was clearly displayed as a darkened ring around the immediate margins of the hole.

I remember one of my first cases concerning murder by gun. I had no idea that the bullet wipe of residue was caused by lead being wiped from the surface of the bullet as it passes through the material. I felt pretty ridiculous when I had to ask so from then on I was determine to know everything. I subscribed to every top of the range gun and ammo magazine. I read them over and over. I never threw out a copy.

Maybe I should suggest something like that to Greg. Forget the opinion of a man who can't even compliment a suit and tie combo let alone another human being.

Nick runs past Greg laughing about his impending date and I see that it's time to head off. I smile as I realise that it means I can finally have a drink.

I remember my keys this time as I pull out my wallet. As I'm closing my locker I see Catherine standing at the doorway obviously not even interested in being in the same room with me.

"I'm sorry." I say to her. She looks up, her eyes still holding that fire.

She says nothing and the silence is killing me. I want her to yell me, hell, even punch me in the face but this is too much.

"Aren't you going to say anything?" I ask.

She continues to look at me and I'm feeling incredibly uncomfortable. I think it's safe to say she's already said what she needs to so I take my leave. I have Jack waiting for me at home.


It doesn't take long for me to drive home and, with the extra incentive waiting for me I take a few chances with the speed limit. Once I get inside I almost run to the new bottle I have on my bench. I restrain myself. Just.

Within minutes I have taken those first few drinks from the bottle that calm me down. I sit on my couch and keep a firm hold on my bottle. It reminds me of the death like grip I had on Catherine and I almost let go.

Today I need to get out of this house. I need to be distracted.

I enter the bar and J.R smiles and waves.

"Hey there. Usual?"

I'm not sure if I should be worried that after only one time in this place I have a 'usual' but I nod regardless.

I take the spot I had last time. I'm not interested in talking and I think J.R has picked up on that. He just peers over to me every now and then so he can top up my drink.

I've been here for a while, I can tell I'm well and truly past drunk but I don't care. I'm feeling double the pain and I need double my usual prescription.

J.R cuts me off later and I try to protest but I'm not capable of uttering one word that makes sense. Anyway, I've got plenty of Jack and my other buddies at home. I pay him and should be concerned that I managed to drink $125 worth of booze but my main concern is walking.

Oops. No, make that standing.

I make my way out slowly and hide my eyes from the intense sunlight. I walk a different way home because the streets as less secluded and there is more opportunity to vomit without prying eyes.

A man passes me, a sympathetic look on his face. I'd tell him to shove it but I can't walk and talk at the same time. I hear footsteps behind me and turn to see if it's him. I see something shiny, reflecting the suns rays and notice that it's a knife.

"Give me your wallet and phone." The voice says.

I'm certainly in no state to fight back but I don't want to pass my belongings over.

My defiance earns me a push to the ground. My head hits the concrete quite hard. I don't feel it but I know it'll hurt later. I feel a hand fish into my pockets.

I left my wallet at home as well as my phone. I only needed money and my keys.

"Is this all you've got?" The voice shouts from above me.

He kicks me in the stomach and I know I'm about to vomit. I no longer care if he's still there and I crawl to the lawn and throw up.

I'm like this for five minutes. The blood from my face drips into the pool of vomit and I want to just lie on the grass and stop the world from spinning.

I can't get myself home. If I just close my eyes for a few minutes maybe I can get up later and shower. I have no money for a cab and no phone to even call one.

I spend a few minutes feeling sorry for myself and decide to get up and get home. Grabbing my side as the pain shoots up from my ribcage I struggle back the way I came and in search of my home.

People stare as I stumble on my way. A few stop to help but were beaten back by the fumes of my breath. A few people even cross the road or walk on the road as I come near them. Blood trickles down onto my shirt and I wipe my face with my sleeve. I was amazed that my wound was still bleeding and I worried about the gash. It must be pretty deep. Could even possible leave a scar. Great. Just another scar to add to my list.

I get home but not before falling up stairs and banging into the wall. I cry out in pain as my side makes contact with the wall and I almost lose my footing and fall down the stairs I'm already struggling to get up.

Once inside I go to the bathroom to inspect my wound. It's not pretty. It's red and I can already see a bruise forming. I lift up my shirt and I see a red mark where the mugger's boot made contact. I press it and curse my stupidity. It hurt quite a bit and I knew that I was in trouble because with the amount of alcohol I'd consumed I shouldn't be feeling pain at all.

I know that I need to get myself to a hospital but with the state I'm in I know I will simply be looked at as a drunk who fell down.

I walk into my kitchen and debate my next move. I recognize what I need to do but when I weight that up against the humiliation I find I can't go through with it. Another option comes to me and it's met with even more resistance.

Call Grissom.

I don't know where that came from and I stare at the half drunk Jack on my table. Traitor. I do not want to call him but I know he won't judge me. Well not visibly. I don't want to reach out to this man. He means nothing to me socially yet I know that he's the only one I can trust to keep this a secret. If I shower, ply on the perfume and drink a whole load of mouthwash he probably wouldn't notice the drinking.

But he's a trained investigator and while he'd miss something on someone living and breathing in front of him there would be no way he'd miss the bottles and the smell of this place.

Okay Jack, I don't want anymore help from you.

So I guess I'll call an ambulance then. Talk about dramatic.

There is one other option and it pains me to consider it. I could call Catherine.

Sure, and she'd be more than happy to come and get me. She'd probably order me to die from internal bleeding and then spit on my coffin.

Not that I'd blame her.

Oh boy. My side is really hurting.

I get up very slowly and hit redial on my phone. After all, I've not called anyone since I called Catherine.

"Catherine Willows."

So she didn't save my number. I'm a little upset by that but I'm not sure why.

"Please don't hang up," I say very quickly.

"Sara?" Catherine asks.

"I've been mugged." I say. I'm slurring slightly but I hope she thinks it's because I've been attacked.

"Call an ambulance." Catherine's cold reply sends a bolt of terror through my body.

"Please. Can you come over?" I'm begging but I think by now I really have no pride left to be concerned with.

There is a long silence and I think Catherine may have hung up.


"Give me your actual address this time and I'll be there in half an hour."

I almost laugh with relief. I rattle off my address and hang up. Now I have to do a quick clean. And shower.

Bending down is difficult but when I think of the look Catherine would give me, compared to the jolt of pain I receive everytime I pick something up, I think it's worth it.

I manage to get the room looking a little lived in but minus the alcohol. As I've said, I'm pretty clean when it comes to throwing things away but at times it takes a while to get my butt in gear.

I take my clothes and put them in the washing machine along with a few other old and smelly pieces. I jump in the shower and scrub my body of the scent of cigarettes and vomit. The water on my cut hurts but I have to do it. It hurts even more when I put the shampoo in my hair. I cry out once more. The pain is just too much to hold in.

I brushed my teeth five times before I realised that I had to air out my flat. I open all my windows and sprayed a vanilla freshener. It was a light fragrance so I hope Catherine wouldn't think anything was amiss.

I sat on the couch, exhausted and sore. I was dozing off when I heard a knock at my door.

I open it and see Catherine standing there looking very uncomfortable. She's wearing an old pair of jeans ripped on her left knee, a grey sweatshirt and a baseball cap yet still managed to look good. She takes a look at my cut which was cleaned up and her eyes instantly change from residual anger and questioning to one of concern.

"That's pretty bad," she says touching the bruise near the wound.

"He pushed me and I hit my head on the pavement," I tell her. Truth of the matter was he could have sneezed and I would have toppled over.

"Did he get anything from you?" Catherine asks.

"Only some cash."

I realise we're still standing at my doorway so I move and usher her inside. She doesn't move to far into my place, her back is almost leaning on the door. I wonder if she thinks she'll need to flee in a hurry.

"Thank you for coming," I say in an effort to make her more comfortable.

"Did he hurt you elsewhere?" She asks. She casts her eye down to my pubic area and I know she's asking if I've been sexually assaulted but I wonder why she didn't come out and ask it.

"He just kicked me. Nothing else." I say. I see her relax slightly and it makes me smile that she was concerned.


I lift up my shirt and hear her gasp and look away. I think being in my inebriated state has made me less shy because I realise that I've just exposed my chest to her. Usually I'm very careful about things like that.

"Did you put ice on it?" She looks back when I pull my top back down.

"No. I just got home and had a shower."

"Come on." She says opening the door.

"Where are we going?" I ask nervously.

"Hospital. You could have internal bleeding, your ribs could be broken."

"I don't want to go there," I say.

"You called for help. I'm taking you to it." Catherine says firmly.

I know not to argue and to be honest I am worried about the pain so I silently comply.

Walking down the stairs is an interesting prospect and I wince with every step taken. Catherine turns after a louder protest and comes back up. She puts her arm around my waist gently and guides me down the remaining steps. I lean into her and I realise I enjoy having this support for once.

Once in the car Catherine does my seatbelt up and lets her hand linger on mine for longer than I think she intended. She moves it away quickly and concentrates on driving; not looking over to me once. This is very familiar territory but today I change it by breaking the silence.

"I didn't disturb you I hope."

She doesn't reply so I continue, the alcohol making me feel a little brasher that usual.

"I thought you would have told me to get lost." I admit.

Still nothing.

"I was totally and completely out of line with you at work. I'm not even sure what came over me. I think it was stress and anger at the case. I had no right to take it out on you and I promise you that I will never do it again. If I so much as raise my voice to you I want you to let me know I'm out of line."

Can my mouth stop moving? I've never talked this much to Catherine in one sitting.

"I'd rather not discuss that," Catherine says.

I can hear the anger creeping into her voice so I wisely drop it. I'd hate for her to turf me out of her car.

We make it to the hospital and Catherine parks near the entrance. She helps me get out of the passengers side and places a warm arm around me once more. It contradicts her recent behaviour to me but I find it comforting so I don't complain.

"You're a little unsure on your feet, are you feeling funny?" Catherine asks.

"I'm just a little dizzy." I reply. Okay so it's not a complete lie, I am dizzy but from the alcohol, not the head wound.

"I'll go get someone to check on you." Catherine says leaving me to sit next to a man with a nail protruding out of his forearm.

My mind is flooded with images of the most traumatic times I've been in a hospital and I try to close my mind to it. Falling apart in reception with a woman who, for some unknown reason, put aside her anger for me and helped get me to hospital would not be wise.

I see Catherine come over with a clipboard and form.

"I couldn't fill most of this out," she says handing the board to me.

I realise she left nearly everything blank. Of course she wouldn't know, we're not friends.

"That's fine." I say. I try grasping the pen but I'm still quite drunk.

"Would you like me to write it? You can just tell me." Catherine's hand is so warm against my cold skin. At that moment she reminds me of a soothing drink and I want to crawl into her lap.

"Thank you." I say. I've been saying that far too frequently. I'm Sara Sidle, I don't need anyone.

We spend two hours sitting in the most uncomfortable seats you could ever think to purchase. If your main purpose is to make people wait exceedingly long periods of time you would think providing suitable seating would be a priority.

Catherine says next to nothing to me in this time. It's hard because I want her to talk to me so I can get my mind off where I am and how I got here. She offered me a coffee, some chips and a magazine to which I declined all of them. She keeps looking at her watch and I wonder if she was bored or wants to leave.

"I can get a cab home," I say after she glanced at her watch for about the fifth time.

"It's okay." Was all she said.

"I don't want to keep you from Lindsay."

She looks surprised that I would even consider that.

"She's staying with a friend. Sleep over. My turn next to host it." She says smiling and animatedly discussing the shopping list Lindsay gave her.

I'm caught up in her smile and I find I'm enjoying her story.

"She's got nothing healthy on there and it's all full of enough sugar to keep them awake for ten years."

Catherine laughs and I shiver from the sound. She sounds so happy and at peace with her life.

"Sounds great," I say wistfully.

"Yeah." Catherine nods and then says nothing more.

This woman is harder to crack than I am. Or perhaps she just doesn't want to talk to me.

I'm about to try and get her to talk again when the nurse calls out my name.

"You can stay here if you like," I say to Catherine. "Or go home."

"There is no way you can walk that way and I know you won't take a wheelchair."

Catherine's right.

She puts her arm around me and we slowly make our way to the nurse who points us to the hall to our left.

"Just first door on the right." She says handing my chart to Catherine.

Thank God it wasn't any further.

"Miss Sidle, I'm Martina. I'm your nurse. The doctor should be in soon. I just need you to lie down. I'll take you blood pressure and so forth and then just leave you here for the doctor to take a look at you."

She's very efficient but I still feel like I'm suffocating. When she pulls the curtain and I hear the whoosh it makes I jump slightly.

"Sorry, this instrument is a little cold," Martina says misunderstanding my movement.

Catherine raised an eyebrow at my reaction but comes over and places her warm hand on my arm.

"Your blood pressure is quite high." Martina says.

"What does that mean?" Catherine asks.

"We'll let the doctor investigate further. Miss Sidle, have you taken any medication in the last 24 hours?"

"I ah took some painkillers yesterday morning but that's it." I say.

"Any alcohol or recreational drugs?"

"I've had some alcohol," I say.

"Okay, Thank you." With that she pulls the curtain open and leaves.

"You can drink so early in the morning?" Catherine asks.

"My body thinks it's night." Is all I say. I know it sounds dreadfully lame but it's all I could think of.

"Your body must have a stronger constitution than mine then."

I lay there closing my eyes. I never understand why the lights are so bright. I can feel Catherine running her hand up and down my arm and it reminds me of my mother soothing me to sleep.

"Sara? I don't think you should sleep with a head wound." Catherine breaks contact with my arm as she speaks.

"Just resting my eyes."

"Sara. I think we need to talk about what you did today."

I try to sit up but can't move that fast.

"I told you Catherine, it was like I had an outer body experience. I wasn't in control."

"That's a stupid explanation and I deserve more." Catherine rolls up her sleeves and I see a faint bruise covering her biceps.

I think I'm going to vomit.

"Does it hurt?" I say softly.

"Only when I touch it," Catherine smiles.

"Catherine all I can say is I'm so very sorry and if I could do something to make you feel better I would. That's all I can say."

"That's all you will say you mean." Catherine says hotly.

"If you can't accept that, I understand. You are obviously a better person than I am. I've been increasingly rude to you, I've attacked you and yet you're here. Even after you said you'd no longer offer to help." I say in awe. I'm feeling quite weird and I'm not sure if I'm making sense.

Catherine stands near my shoulder and I feel a tear drop on my neck.

"Oh God, don't cry." I say.

I wish I could get up and hug her but I hurt too much. Instead I lift my arm to brush her tears away as they fall from her eyes.

"Please don't cry Catherine." I whisper.

I did this. I made this strong and independent woman break down. A few days ago, hell even a few hours ago, I would relish the fact that I knocked her down to my level but now all I feel is shame. Shame in my behaviour and my attitude.

Catherine wipes her eyes and moves away from the bed.

"I think I will go," she says.

I feel a loss as she speaks those words and I want to beg her to stay.

"Okay. Thank you for taking care of me."

Catherine nods and like a flash is gone.

I sigh and wish I was drinking. Instead I'm stuck in a place I hate with no one to help me. This is the life I never wanted but seemed fated to live.

"Miss Sidle, I'm Doctor Pointing. I hear you were mugged?"


"Okay, well let me see your injuries and then I'll assess whether or not you need to stay overnight."

A panic sets in at those words.

"Overnight? I can't. I have to work." I say.

"Well you'll have to take the day off," Pointing says.

I've got no more strength to argue and I lie there as he examines me. He tells me I have to go for an x-ray and I just nod. I'm feeling ill and I just want to hug the toilet bowl at home.

As they wheel me out I gasp in surprise. Standing at the payphone is Catherine. She turns and at that moment, catches my eye, hangs up and comes over to the elevator.

"You're still here?"

"Yeh. I couldn't leave you without knowing you were alright." Catherine says blushing.

Wow. This woman surprises me with every breath.

"They want to x-ray my stomach and head then I may have to stay overnight."

I think Catherine understands my discomfort with that idea and looks at the doctor.

"Do you think that will be necessary?"

"I'm sorry, and you are?" The doctor asks.

"Her partner." Catherine says immediately.

The doctor stares at both Catherine and I before replying.

"I can't give out information to the significant other of someone in a homosexual relationship." He replies, wheeling me into the elevator.

I want to laugh at the absurdity of his bigotry but Catherine speaks before I can correct him.

"Listen here. I asked you a question and unless you'd like one of my co-workers; who happens to be a police officer, to make your life a living hell you will answer my questions. Is that understood?"

I flinch as I hear that tone of voice but this time it's not directed at me.

I look up to see Doctor Pointing standing mouth agape at Catherine's onslaught.

"I'm waiting for an answer." She says and I can see that look and voice working on Lindsay.

"Yes ma'am."

If he was a dog he'd have his tail between his legs. I'd laugh only I'm afraid my ribs would break.

Catherine smiles at me as Doctor Pointing tries to busy himself in my chart. I've been on the end of Catherine's anger so I understand his trepidation to look in her direction.

As we get out of the elevator Catherine pats my arm.

"I'll just be out here okay?"

"Catherine, why are you doing this?" I know I shouldn't ask but I am dying to know.

"Because I think I've finally figured you out Sara Sidle and I'm not going to let you ruin your life." Catherine says.

I'm not sure what she means and I'm convinced she doesn't know about my drinking but her tone scares me. As they wheel me into the x-ray room my mind is working overtime trying to decipher Catherine's comment that I almost forget that Catherine didn't correct the doctor when he assumed we were lovers.


Taking x-rays takes a lifetime. Well that's what it feels like. I need to get out and understand Catherine's parting line. The only problem was I didn't know how to go about asking. I certainly couldn't say, 'Hey Catherine, you think I'm a drunk?' Or, 'So what's wrong with me?' The second one would take too long to answer anyway.

I decided while the doctor told me to turn my head to the left that I would ignore Catherine's line and retreat from her even further. I will pretend that she never helped me, I'll turn back time and take her threat to stay away from her seriously.

Of course I'm not a complete bitch. I will thank her for coming but as of next shift I'm sticking to my resolution.

I'm wheeled out of the x-ray facility feeling dizzy and quite sick. I try to sit up to vomit and I do but in a panic I realise there is nothing for me to be sick into.

"Are you alright?" The orderly asks concerned.

I have no time to answer as I vomit in my lap. On the sheet covering my lap to be more precise. The orderly swears and runs to fetch a container but I've already made such a mess I don't really think it'll make much difference. So here I am in the hallway sitting in a bed; vomiting.

Catherine chooses this particular humiliating moment to turn the corner. She rushes to my side and stands, her hands not sure where to go. They start holding back my hair but I move away. She then stands back and watched me be sick. I can see she's trying not to be deterred by the smell and the sight of me heaving and it's a commendable job.

"Here Miss," The orderly returns with a bed pan.

I hope it's clean.

Yes, even in the throws of another alcoholic purge I'm thinking about hygiene. Call me crazy.

"Why is she vomiting?" Catherine asks the orderly.

"I don't know. I'm going to Doctor Pointing."

He rushes off and it's Catherine, the bed pan, my vomit and I all on our lonesome.

"Can I help?" I hear her ask. She's moved away from me slightly.

"It'll pass. I could use a glass of water." I say. I need to get her away from this sight. I'm already embarrassed enough that I had to call her but to see this? I could very easily die now. This is too much.

"Miss Sidle? Are you feeling dizzy?" Pointing asks as he comes over.

"Yes." I say.

"I'm worried this may be connected to the head wound."

I need to tell the doctor that I'm not sick from my attack but there is no way I can do that with Catherine here.

"Catherine? Water?" I prompt her.

She looks at me and then to the doctor. I think she wants to stay but she turns and walks down the hall.

I close my eyes and prepare myself for what I'm about to say.

"Doctor Pointing, this vomiting could be due to ah, uh, a few too many drinks."

Doctor Pointing looks at me and I prepare to hear a lecture.

"How much alcohol?" He asks in a flat tone.

"A lot." I admit.

"No wonder you're eyes were so blown. You do realise this information could have been useful when you first came in here."

"I told the nurse I had a few drinks. I don't want my friend to know. It's a private matter. I trust you won't say anything." I say.

"There is a difference between a quiet beer at home and what you're describing. I won't say anything but I wish you had said something earlier."

I'm sitting in a bed that is covered in my vomit discussing the right time to divulge private information. This is how surreal my life has become.

"You're to stay overnight so we can monitor you."

I'm about to argue but he's forestalls anything I have to say by putting his hand up.

"This is not a negotiation."

I'm sick of arguing with everyone so I just sit there quietly.

"Let's get you to your room. You can shower and I'll get a clean sheet on." The orderly says smiling.

How can he be so damn happy when I've left him a disgusting task to carry out.

"My friend is coming back with water." I say. Even calling Catherine a friend sounds weird.

"We'll wait for her."

Doctor Pointing scribbles a few things down on my chart and walks off without so much as a word.

It was at that moment Catherine strolled back over with a plastic cup filled with water. I take it without a thank you and drink the entire thing. Catherine put her hands in her pockets looking uncharacteristically nervous. It took years off her and she almost looked like a child about to be scolded.

"Thanks." I say belatedly.

Here I was still in the hallway looking and smelling a treat. I just want to go home and curl up in my own bed away from prying eyes.

The orderly hit the down button on the elevator and we all wait. Catherine makes small talk with Ricky the orderly. He is captivated by her, laughing and smiling at her story. I'm jealous at the attention she seemed to gather so easily. I would never be that personable, it simply wasn't in my character. Yet, sometimes I wish I was more like that. If I was then maybe I wouldn't need to find answers in the bottle.

We finally get in the elevator which was empty. Thank God for small favors. Catherine is glancing at me every now and then and I look away. She'd sigh and focus back on Ricky. It was a constant game until we reached my room. I don't know why she continued to do it, she's probably more stubborn than I am and that's saying a lot.

"Miss Sidle, here is a towel and a change of gown. I'll let Catherine take you to the showers just down the hall while I get this all cleaned up." Ricky says with his perfectly shaped grin. He was an all-American pin-up boy. Perfect teeth, blue eyes and an athletes body.

I wasn't going to spend any time one on one with Catherine but before I could protest Ricky had shooed us out of the room.

"Listen Sara, about what I said."

Oh no.

"I think you're depressed Sara."

Okay, I wasn't expecting that.

"Damn right I'm depressed Catherine. Look out our latest case. Look at me covered in my own vomit." I say gruffly.

"Let me finish Sara. You owe me that much at least."

I say nothing and she continues.

"Your little performance today was inexcusable and don't think that because I'm here that I've forgiven or forgotten. I am here to make sure a co-worker doesn't burn out. That kind of thing can harm us too Sara."

"Oh so your concern isn't for me, it's for the rest of the group?" I ask angrily.

"It's for both. You're a part of the group even if you don't want to be."

I decide I've had enough and I walk down to the showers. Catherine follows behind me.

"You retreat into this shell Sara and you think you've got it under control but you don't. I see it. I see your vulnerability."

"The only thing I'm vulnerable to is your constant put downs and analytic commentary on how shitty my life is." I yell.

"God you can be such a bitch Sidle." Catherine curses.

"And you can be one really hard person to decipher. One second you're trying to be my friend then we have a shouting match and I'll say something to make you cry. You tell me to get lost then you are kind and sweet to me when I ask for your help. Pick an emotion Catherine. Better yet, let me know what one you're going to have ten minutes before you have it so I can be prepared." My voice is still loud and I notice a few people turning to see what the commotion is.

"I'm human Sara, sorry. If you could bottle up some of your avoidance and concealment maybe I could buy some. Then I too can walk around sulking and growling at everyone." Catherine bites back.

"My life is not one big happy party Catherine. If you think it is then you're welcome to it. I don't think you'll last too long because you're used to a perfect little life." I say.

To stave off any further anger I lock myself in the shower. It doesn't stop Catherine from yelling at the door and over the water.

"If you think my life is perfect then you're more deluded than I thought. I lost Lindsay's father in case you don't remember. He's dead. Now my daughter will live her life without her father. Sure, he wasn't the worlds best parent but she always had him. He would have been there to interrogate potential boyfriend's, to walk her down the aisle, to be a grandfather. I work crappy hours as it is, I hardly know Linds at times. She's growing up so fast."

I can hear the regret in Catherine's voice and I decide to let it go. I've caused enough damage to her. I stick my head under the shower and let the water drown out everything except the dull pain all over my body.

I turn the shower off and dry off. I don't want to step out into the concourse area naked if Catherine is there. Once dressed in the devastatingly unflattering gown I hesitantly open the door.

Catherine was sitting on a plastic chair picking at her jeans. She looks up when she heard the door opening.

"Catherine, go home. Be with your daughter." I say softly.

"I shouldn't have come," Catherine says sadly.

I do something very uncharacteristic. I reach out and place a hand on Catherine's arm. She tenses at first but looks at me after a moment.

"I'm thankful you helped me." I say.

Catherine smiles the faintest of smiles upon hearing that.

"I better go. I'll tell Gil okay?"

I think she sees the pure panic that flashes across my face because she adds, "don't worry I'll tell him you were mugged and that the doctor said you need to stay overnight and he said no calls until you're at home."

Catherine looks down to her arm and I notice I've kept my hand there. I don't move it even when it feels unnatural for me to seek contact like this. Catherine takes a deep breath and I'm totally unprepared for what happens next.

Her arms wrap around my waist and she very loosely embraces me. I'm stiff as she enters my personal space but my body soon relaxes and I find myself returning this hug. I'm not sure how to describe our relationship at the best of times and this is a definite departure to how I saw it.

She smells so good and I realise I've missed that about having someone in my life. I'm not talking romantically; just generally. As I tighten my embrace and feel Catherine snuggle into me I feel a little bit of that loneliness slip away. It's a fast fix, faster than a drink but it has me feeling the same effects. I'm drunk on this small gesture.

Catherine breaks away from the hug first and puts her hands in her pockets. I feel the loss immediately and wonder why.

"Sorry," Catherine says sheepishly.

"It's okay," I hear myself say.

"I'm still really, really pissed at you but there's something that pulls me to you." Catherine admits so softly I almost miss it.

"Pulls you to me?" I ask.

"It's no secret I was a bitch to you when you first got here. We worked in a professional manner in the middle and recently we've been getting angrier at each other with each passing day. You've managed to upset me of late but I probably deserve a little of that. Karma's a bitch." Catherine smiles.

I stand there not knowing what to say.

"You're harder to read than the others and I took that to mean you thought you were superior to us. I've noticed of late that you're probably more emotional than the boys but you hide it. I've been watching you and I know you're not coping." She continues.

"I'm coping as well as can be expected." I say.

"What is 'expected' anyway? That's a load of crap." Catherine snorts.

"Look, I'm not comfortable talking about myself." I admit.

"Tough. When you get out of here you and I are going to talk. You are going to come clean. You owe me." Catherine said subconsciously rubbing the place she showed me earlier. That place I had bruised her.

Oh God. I should have called Grissom.

Part 11

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