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



Catherine left three hours ago and she's all I can think about. I am trying to formulate fake scenarios that I think would work to keep Catherine off the scent but it's without much success.

Grissom always tells us it's the truth that is the saving grace in our cases. This is one instance where the truth would ruin me. I can't have Catherine snooping around trying to get to the bottom of it. It, or me? One in the same.

It's impossible for me to sleep when my brain is buzzing with this much activity. I need a good soothing drink to calm me but despite a dubious looking jello there isn't any around. My hands are shaking slightly but I manage to get it under control.

Martina has been in to see me five times since I got back to my room. She's friendly enough but I am tiring of it. I want to tell her to leave me alone but I know her job is to keep observing me.

I hate being the science experiment.

"Am I okay?" I ask. I need to discharge myself as soon as possible.

"You should be feeling more pain. You must be pretty tough." She says smiling.

"I'm feeling okay. I really want to get out of here."

Okay Sara, a little less panic in the voice.

"Doctor Pointing thinks you should stay at least another twelve hours." Martina says softly.

Why does everyone smile here? This is a hospital, not a wedding. Death, assault, dismemberment; it all occurs within these walls.

"I'm really feeling okay. I'd like to discharge myself." I say.

Don't these people realise that I am not comfortable in here?

"I'll go get the doctor," Martina says.

"Don't get the doctor. Get my papers." I say a little harshly.

Martina leaves, minus smile and I hold my side. It's hurting now. I need medication but I know Pointing won't give it to me because I drank so much. Not to mention the damage it might do to my head wound.

I hear the footsteps of two people coming towards my room. Martina brought re-enforcements this trip in the form of Pointing.

"I see you're getting restless." Pointing says.

"I'm leaving so I'd appreciate my clothes and valuables."

"Woah, you're in no state to go." Pointing says.

I swing my legs over the side of the bed and try not to fall over when I feel a sharp pain shooting up my side.

"I'm leaving here." I say determined to get back to my home.

Doctor Pointing nods to Martina who leaves and comes back five minutes later with forms.

"I'm signing you out, AMA; under your own recognizance. I need you to understand the legal ramifications of this decision." Pointing says.

"Yeah, yeah. If I die getting out of the taxi it won't be your fault. Don't worry, I have no one to sue you anyway." I say signing where he pointed.

Martina returns a second time with my clothes. I smile at her hopeful it shows my apology for being a little harsh earlier. She returns the smile.

"I've called you a taxi." She informs me.


Pointing shakes his head and delivers the standard lecture about taking it easy. I usher them out so I can dress and with one last look of the room, I drop the forms off at the nurses station and go in search of the elevator.

It was so good to put the key in my door and turn it. It felt like I was returning after a long trip. There was a sense of familiarity to it that I really needed after the adventure of today.

I close the door but don't lock it. I'm too busy unscrewing the cap of the half drunk Jack on my table. I lift it to my mouth and find it pains my side slightly when I do it. Sitting down is probably going to be easier on my side so I take up a well worn position on my couch and prepare for another bout of drinking.

I hear an incessant banging in the background that seems to be become louder and louder which each tap. I stumble to my door, still not completely awake and aware.

"Who is it?" I whisper.

"Sara? Open up."

Talk about drunk to sober in three seconds. Catherine was the culprit who was banging chips of paint off my door.

"I'm sleeping." I say feebly.

"Bullshit. Open this door now Sidle."

I decide to ignore her. She'll eventually get sick of yelling and knocking. I pick my bottle up and take it to my bedroom. Closing the door I cuddle up to a pillow and try to sleep.

The banging did stop. It took a while but Catherine finally gave up. I smiled in smug satisfaction at getting rid of her.

You know when you get that feeling that you're not alone? I'm getting it now.


Okay, I'm not imagining it. My ghost just swore.

"Sara, I know you're here."

My ghost knows my name? Scary. Funny, it sounds a little like Catherine.

I sit up fast, regretting it immediately but I don't have time to think about it when Catherine makes it to my doorway, opens my door and locks eyes with me.

"Sara, what the hell is all that?" Catherine asks somewhat stunned as she holds up a garbage bag.

"Recycling?" I say.

"Are you drunk?" She asks.

This is a dream. This is a dream.

This is a nightmare.

"Please get out of my home." I say softly but with fire.

"Sara, you've been involved in a mugging. You shouldn't be drinking." Catherine said.

I laugh.

"You are breaking and entering Catherine. Want to get arrested? Like the handcuffs tight?" I smile.

"Sara, don't do this again." Catherine says.

I get off the bed and walk over to my intruder. I only hit the bed once which I think is a good percentage. I'm so close to her now I can smell her perfume. I know she can smell the alcohol on me because her eyes are a little wider.

"Like it kinky Catherine?" I purr.

"Sara, please don't."

I hear the fear and it excites me. I've been here before and I look down to her arms and remember where that ended. It's all I need to back away sharply.

"How long has this been going on?" Catherine asks, her voice shaky.

"About an hour." I say smiling.

"I mean, how long have you been drinking?"

"I've always been thirsty." I say laughing.

Catherine runs her hand through her hair and I can tell she's frustrated.

"This is what your big secret is isn't it?" Catherine asks.

"What are you doing here?" I ask changing the subject.

"I called the hospital to tell you Grissom said he'll need your report so I was going to ask you where it was. The woman on the phone told me you had left. I was worried you were crazy so I came to see you."

"Well now you know how I am. Bye."

"Sara, this is serious."

"I know it is Catherine, I was trying to get some sleep."

"The shakes, the withdrawal, the mints, the aggression; it's all from this," Catherine says kicking the bag.

"I just have a few drinks before and after work. No big deal." I say leaning against the doorframe.

"My God Sara, you are a drunk!" Catherine yells at me.

Oh, that one hurt but I can't let it show.

"No I'm not. A drunk is someone you see on the streets reeking of booze and urine wearing clothes that are falling apart."

"Your place stinks of stale beer and god knows what else, your breath is enough to make me intoxicated and I bet if I went through this place I'd find clothes with vomit on it."

I'm getting angry now and I know I'm going to snap soon.

"I think it's best if you leave," I say.

Catherine looks up sharply when she hears my tone.

"Planning on hitting me tough girl? Can't take the truth hey?" Catherine goads me.

I walk to Catherine and she moves back until she's stopped by a wall. I can see she's afraid but is holding her ground regardless.

I put my hands on the wall near her head and lean in. She grimaces when she smells me but doesn't move away. I push my body against her and she whimpers. This one is different to the one I heard in her office.

It's not until I'm leaning down do I realise I've wanted to do this for a while now. My lips meet Catherine's in a soft kiss that flies in the face of my entire attitude and behaviour.

She doesn't move her head so I lick her top lip. She gasps slightly but it's enough for my tongue to enter her mouth. I feel her tongue reach out to touch mine and as quickly as it happens it ends. I feel her hands pushing my shoulders and I realise that Catherine is trying to get away.

"No, no, no." Catherine says, tears falling slowly out of her eyes.

I blink a few times and move back into my bedroom.

"Shit." I say loudly.

Catherine is still leaning against the wall crying loudly. I want to wrap her up in my arms but I don't move. Instead I cry my own tears.



The tears are raining down without a care as I let my shame, anger and uselessness run free. Looking at Catherine touching her lips and crying only further pushes the tears along their path of escape. If I continue, I may just have my very own indoor pool.

The aggression in me leaves as quickly as it came this time. The memories of my own fear have put my actions in their place.

"Get off me. Go. Get off." I yell inside my mind. Memories of the evening I took that short cut so I could watch my favourite Biography episode have been released. A woman, alone and distracted. Perfect victim.

I managed to make enough noise when he was dragging me into his shop front that he panicked and turned to face me. That face was forever etched in my psyche. I scratched him, he called me a bitch. I moved around so much, face down and getting bruised that he wasn't able to complete the act. I think he was looking for a more willing victim. He kicked me a few times and pushed me out of his store. I layed in the street until the red and blue sirens of my saviors arrived.

"Get off. Leave me alone!"

Catherine is looking at me. What? Is she surprised I'm crying?

"Sara? Who is on you?" I hear her ask softly.

Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.

Catherine crawls over to me but stops short when I put my hands up.

I have nothing to say. I try to think of something but there is nothing. It's as if I'm an infant again; crying and making unintelligible words in my own form of communication.

Catherine is really playing with fire when she ignores my pleas and embraces me.

"It's okay Sara. Whatever the pain is it'll go away."

I don't yell at her and tell her she's stupid even though that statement is pretty ignorant. I don't tell her that I'm not worth redemption.

I don't tell her to leave.

The embrace is at an uncomfortable angle but I'm afraid to move just in case Catherine lets go and leaves me alone. So I grit my teeth as my side hurts and allow her to take care of me.

We stay like this for a while until the pain is really just too much for me to tolerate. I shift and, in turn, am released from her arms. Dry tears mark her face, her mascara is dark and blotted around her eyelids. Still, she's the most beautiful angel to come to my rescue.

"Want to talk?" She asks.

"No." I say emphatically.

Catherine opens her mouth to say something but closes it when she sees me wince.

"Your side?" She asks.

"Hairline fracture to the rib can be a pain in the ass," I say smiling.

"I bet a drink would make it better," Catherine says softly.

I'm unsure if she's being sarcastic or offering to be my barmaid so I hold my response back and just concentrate on getting up.

It's a task that really does need all my focus. My legs have gone numb so I look like a rag doll as I try to get up. Catherine reaches out but like many times recently, she falters.

I pretend I don't see her retract and stand long enough to lean against the foot of my bed.

The atmosphere has changed so many times since Catherine came into my home that I'm not sure I can even label it anymore. I'm angry with myself for laying out my two closely guarded secrets to this woman. I remind myself that this woman has done what I was afraid she could do. She has got through.

Damn her blasted persistence. Remind me never commit a crime and have her on the case. I'd be guilty in a matter of hours.

"Did that man who mugged you do more than that Sara?" Catherine asks after a while.

Okay. Think Sara. Think. Don't tell her anything.

"I'm really tired Catherine." I say.

That's good. Get her out of your house. Smart Sidle, there's hope for you yet.

"Oh yeah. Sorry." Catherine says looking me up and down. I think she can sense the physical fatigue and, knowing her, she can also feel the emotional fatigue.

"Catherine." It's all I have and I'm hoping the look in my eyes makes up for the poor verbal communication.

"We'll talk later." Is all she says before she pulls the blankets down on my bed.

I follow silently and crawl into bed, mindful of my side. Catherine pulls the blankets over me gently. I feel like her daughter but I don't care at the moment.

"Rest easy," Catherine whispers as she pats my shoulder.

I close my eyes for what I think is a moment but it is thirty minutes later. I stumble out of bed and bypass the bathroom. I don't need a mirror to tell me I look hideous. I need a drink to tell me my pain is going away.

When I get to my kitchen I'm surprised to see a letter written in Catherine's hand writing waiting for me.


Things happen out of our control and I accept that. However your behaviour and reckless abandonment of common sense has not only hurt you now. You live your life self contained in your alcoholic haze and that's damaging your body and your sanity. Please don't think I'm lecturing you for the fun of it. I'm concerned about you. I was tempted to rid you of every bottle of booze in your place but I'm not your mother. I would like to be your friend. Please accept this as it is intended; my reaching out to someone whom I care for.


I am furious as I read her self-righteous preaching but before I throw it out something prevents me from ignoring it. I let go of the now scrunched up letter and unfold it. The creases in the paper are annoying so I try smoothing out as best I can.

Is what I've been waiting for? Some sort of mirror held up that reflects my downward spiral? A friend who cares about me?

Wait. Catherine is not that person. She is domineering and disrespects me at work. She second guesses me and backs Grissom when I'm supposedly out of line. Her emotions flick from anger to compassion to absolute indifference. What's her excuse for that? At least I know my shifting emotions are a result of withdrawal or a residual hangover.

No, I'm not going to fall for this new tactic. I bet she's at home now laughing about me with her sister. "Oh that Sara, she's so pathetic." "Can you believe she thinks she's the only one with issues?"

I need a drink. Catherine brought up issues long locked away and I need to get the key and put them back where they were. Jack, I need your help.

I'm sitting in the cab I wisely called wondering what the hell I'm doing. I hate when I argue with myself, it distracts me to no end.

"Miss, we're here." The driver informs me.

"Thanks," I mumble and hand him some cash. He takes it and wishes me a safe evening. I wonder if he's psychic.

The neighbourhood has a nice friendly feel to it. A few of the neighbours smile as I get out of the cab. I'm a stranger to this place yet they still welcome me. If I wasn't so grouchy I'd appreciate the sentiment.

The door opens and Catherine stands there, shocked at my visit. I've not made it to her door, I stand on her lawn holding my side.

"What are you doing here?" She asks surprised.

Good question. Where's the answer?

"Sara, I have to go to work." Catherine says, breaking me out of my daze.

I still don't move even though I feel like I'm swaying.

"Are you drunk?" Catherine asks coming closer.

"A little." I admit.


Catherine grabs her cell phone and I flinch.

"What are you doing?" I ask with a copious amount of slurring.

"Gil, Catherine. Call in someone from Day, you'll be two down tonight. No, I can't. Gil I don't ask you for much and tonight is important. No, I'm afraid I can't say anymore than that."

I need to sit down but I stand and listen to Catherine's call.

"I'll pull a double to make up for it Gil. Yes Godamn it I know this is a huge case." Catherine is yelling into her phone now and I can see she's not happy about where the conversation is going.

I suck in a deep breath and try to control my voice as I snatch Catherine's phone from her.

"Grissom. I'm sick and need someone to keep an eye on me." I say.

"Sara? Aren't you supposed to be in the hospital?" Grissom asks concerned.

"Hate them." I say.

"Why Catherine?" Grissom asks confused.

I look at Catherine and the answer just seems natural.

"She's the only one to push me."

I know Grissom doesn't understand the answer but he simply wishes me luck and tells me to pass the phone back to Catherine.

Catherine motions for me to come closer. I do like I'm hypnotized and she puts a supportive arm around me.

"Yes Gil. I will. I said I will. Call me if you need anything. My latest is on my desk."

Catherine hangs up and silently escorts me into her home.

"I'm sorry." I say. It's all I can think of to say to this woman.

"Sshh," Catherine says.

She leads me past her kitchen and I wonder where we're going. She hesitates and I'm confused.


"I want you to lie down, get some rest." She says.

I'm not following her hesitance.

"I want you to sleep in my bed."

"Okay." I say, still confused.

"I didn't want you to think I was, uh. Oh damn. I didn't want you to think I was asking for anything."

Oh. Now it makes sense.

"Catherine, I do not think you are going to, you know." I say.

Catherine blushes, obviously embarrassed she thought it.

"Sorry. Don't know what I was thinking."

I smile at her but my eyes suddenly open a little wider as I feel that usual feeling of illness rattling around in my stomach.

"Bathroom is here," Catherine says leading me to her ensuite.

I don't even ask how she knew it was what I wanted because the next time I open my mouth I'm vomiting. My side is so sore that I'm crying as I vomit. Catherine kneels next to me and holds my hair back. Her voice is soft and soothing and even though I can't make the words out I feel safe and cared for.

This is a new feeling and I'm not sure if I want more of it or if I want to ignore it. For now I'm happy to have her there. Sounds funny I know, but I never said I wasn't complicated.



I've managed to make a mess of Catherine green bath mat and suddenly it seems to be very important I rub the vomit off. I know it's because this woman is still on her knees by my side and if I look up I'll see the eyes of pity.

My hand is stilled by hers.

"Sara, I can wash that later. Come have a shower."

I still don't look at her but I nod slowly, wiping my mouth in case I left anything behind.

She hands me a toothbrush still in its packet and a tube of super strength toothpaste.

"I'll get you something to wear. Just wait a minute okay?" Catherine says softly.

I hadn't noticed that her hand had stayed on me the entire time but I certainly noticed it when it was no longer there.

I rip the packet open but it is difficult in my weakened condition. I'm brushing my teeth for the third time when she returns and my eyes still refuse to meet hers. She hands some sweats and a t-shirt to me and I mumble a thank you.

"Sara. Look at me." Catherine orders softly.

I won't look up. I won't.

I do. God damn brain is not getting my messages fast enough.

Catherine's close enough to me to notice I'm trembling.

"This is normal, the vomiting. You just need to rest and I'll make you a weak tea." She says, not touching me.

"Not thirsty." I say looking into her eyes for the first time.

I don't see pity in those beautiful orbs. I see caring and nurturing mixed with something I can't put my finger on. I think she's not doing this because she feels sorry for how pathetic I am. Yet, I'm still not one hundred percent why she is and why I came to her so quickly.

"You have to get fluids in you. Replace those you've put in my toilet."

"And on my shirt," I say smiling weakly.

Catherine smiles.

"Not to mention my bath mat."

I'm not sure why we're standing in her bathroom smiling at the fact I was sick because I drank but it feels good. It also feels perverse but it's calmed me down.

Catherine reaches up to tuck away the strands of hair that have been annoying me since I got to her place. Her touch is hesitant as it always is with me but it's still soft and gone all too quickly.

"Catherine, I need to say sorry..." I'm silenced by her finger on my lip.

"We will talk about all that but right now you need to shower, have tea and get some sleep."

I'm not sure if I'll be as confident to discuss it later so I try to speak again.

"Please Catherine."

"No Sara. I'm not ready." Catherine says.

With that she closes the door and leaves me in her bathroom. It's not until the warm water hits my aching body that I realise that this situation was no longer just about what I want and need. By coming to Catherine's and actively seeking her out I've now tied her into my life come what may.

I'm nervous when I exit her bathroom, like I've entered Catherine's private domain as an unwelcome intruder. I look around her room from where I'm standing and see the room is definitely Catherine. It has all her little touches to it. There are the obligatory family photo's of her, Lindsay and Eddie and a bigger frame with what I assume is her extended family.

Her bed sheets are made with almost military style corners. The bedspread is open slightly but it's wrinkle free all over. I find myself running my hand along her pillow wondering which side she sleeps on.

My eye catches the photo of her, Lindsay and Eddie and something inside draws me to have a closer look. It's a happy family shot, smiles all round. I notice Lindsay is leaning into both parents, a big smile on her face. Eddie has one arm wrapped around his daughter, the other I can't see. What I notice the most from the photo is Catherine's body language. Her smile is genuine, I can see the glow in her eyes but she is moving to her left, away from Eddie. This little observation detracts from the seemingly happy family on holiday.

I don't know why it makes me glad to know that even when they were together they were unhappy. Perhaps because I've forgotten what contentment feels like. Other people shouldn't have it if I don't.

Catherine knocks on her own door softly so as not to startle me. I feel like a freed tiger from the zoo, like one loud move will startle me and I'll attack. I turn, putting down the photo. I suddenly feel bad for snooping.

"Linds loved that holiday." Catherine says as she notices the frame. "I caught Eddie with the woman who was cleaning our hotel about three hours after that was taken."

I'm not good with conversations like this. I stand, hands at my side trying to think of something, anything to say. Hell I'd even use a cliché but I'm at a loss.

"Here's your tea," Catherine says saving me from having to think of something to say.

"Thank you."

"So, I'll just be out in the lounge room if you need anything." Catherine says. She looks nervous to me and I wonder if it's because I'm in her bedroom playing investigator.

"I can sleep on the couch." I say.

"No. You need a proper surface to sleep on. Plus those long legs of yours don't really go with my short couch."

I take a sip of the tea and am surprised that I actually want more of it.

"Get some rest." Catherine says with her hand on the door knob.

She's closed the door before I can say anything else. I know she's still mad at me but she's somehow managed to put that behind her and play caregiver. I'm amazed at her resilience and room for compassion.

I'm careful to only take a little of Catherine's bed up. I leave the bathroom door open because my stomach is often unpredictable and while I can miss the toilet bowl at my place I certainly don't want to do that here.

I close my eyes and the room spins only slightly. As I'm trying to doze off I realise I haven't thought about having a drink since I got to Catherine's. Maybe I'm making progress.

Maybe I'm cured.

It's dark when I wake up. I try to get out of the bed but a stabbing pain in my head causes me to change that plan. I turn my head slightly to see the time on Catherine's alarm clock and see a glass of water and painkillers on the bedside table.

How Catherine knew I would need them startles me but I gratefully take them. Downing the entire glass of water I hold my side and try to get out of bed again.

Okay. I'm up. Good start.

Now I just need to find Catherine.

I hear warbled voices the closer I get to the door. Twisting the doorknob and opening the door I realise Catherine is talking to Lindsay.

I have two options here. Go back to bed and feign sleep until Lindsay is tucked away in her bed or go out there and face her.

I must be some kind of masochist because I make my way to the kitchen.

"Sara! Hi." Lindsay says smiling


Catherine appears from the kitchen, previously hidden. She's wearing an apron that looks like it has seen its fair share of baking and so forth. Her hair is up but a few strands are loose, obviously just too short to be secured in the hair tie. She's barefoot but her jeans drag on the ground. Simply put, she looks comfortable. Something I never seem to emulate even in my own home.

"Good sleep?" She asks.

"We were being really quite." Lindsay tells me.

"I got some sleep, thanks." That was lame Sara.

"Mom told me you were in an accident. Are you okay? Did they get the man? Can I see your bruises?"

I look at Catherine who smiles at Lindsay's interrogation.

"Honey, Sara just wants to have a quite night." Catherine says softly.

"Is Sara staying tonight?" Lindsay asks.

Am I?

Catherine is looking at me now and I think I'm supposed to be answering that question. However I'm not sure what I should say.

"Come on Linds, finish your homework and then you can watch a little television." Catherine says distracting her.

Lindsay sighs dramatically but heads off to her bedroom, leaving me with Catherine.

"I should be going." I say.

Catherine is stirring the saucepan saying nothing.

"Thank you for the painkillers."

Okay, now I'm just filling the silence.

"I made extra." Catherine said referring to her three saucepans on the stove.

"I don't want to intrude." I say. Funny how I didn't think of that before I came over here and made Grissom pissed at her. Or when I had her looking after me as I was sick. Or when I took her bed to sleep off some of my alcohol.

"Do you like spaghetti?" Catherine asks.

Okay, she's obviously not taking no for an answer.


"Good. I'll only give you a tiny bit and without the sauce." Catherine says.

I've noticed she's not made eye contact with me for a while.

"I don't know where to start." I say looking down at my hands.

"Not here, not now." Catherine says in a tone that is anything but soft.

"I'm sorry about attacking you. Twice."

"Sara," Catherine says warning me.

Sara, shut up.

"I don't know what I'm doing here." I say flustered.

"Neither do I," Catherine admits.

Wasn't expecting that answer. How do I explain it to her when I can't even wrap my head around it?

"I'm not a drunk." I spit out a little angrier than I wanted.

"Denial is pretty normal Sara but you've really got to see that this life your living is not healthy. You've obviously had things in your life that have made you need to find solace somewhere but drinking? Come on. I thought you had more sense than that."

"You've never had issues like me. Don't judge my life in comparison to yours." I say hotly.

"Must be hard having someone know your secret." Catherine says laughing. Her laugh is anything but happy and friendly.

"Must be great having all this extra ammunition on me." I say sarcastically.

Catherine shakes her head.

"Your opinion of me isn't terribly high. Did you seek me out today so you could fight and try to convince yourself that what you're doing is okay or did you come to me because you realised you need a friend?"

"You are not my friend!" I shout.

"Keep your voice down," Catherine warns me.

"Call me a cab and I'll be out of your hair and you won't have to worry about your daughter hearing that her mother isn't Little Miss Perfect." I say.

I know I'm messing up again but I have to push her away.

I need to push her away.

"God Sara, just when I think we've turned a corner you act like this." Catherine sighs.

"You're just not used to people disagreeing with you and pointing out that you're not as high and mighty as you like to portray."

"You don't know me at all."

"That's right Catherine. Because you have never seen fit to let me know. You laugh it up with the boys and I know you're close with Grissom but where do I fit? I've got feelings Catherine, whether you realise this or not. I've tried to let you know. I'm trying to gain your respect. Sometimes I think I have it but I know I never will."

"By God Sara, if you try to blame me for your drinking..."

"Mommy? Are you okay?" Lindsay's head pops around the corner, her face concerned.

"Yes honey. I was just talking with Sara."

Lindsay stares at me and I'm sure she was shooting flames my way.

"I heard yelling."

"We were getting a little heated. Just a debate about work honey." Catherine said kissing Lindsay's head.

"Mom says you're a great investigator." Lindsay says still hugging Catherine's leg.

Interesting. Did not know that little tidbit.

"We all work hard."

Okay, this is why I'm not good with children. The only time I seem to be able to do a good job with them is while I'm interviewing them.

"Mommy told me you worked really, really hard on Daddy's accident and that you worked harder than she's even known."

Looks like I'm not the only one who is releasing a few secrets today.

I see Catherine looking uncomfortable, like her own walls are crumbling.

"Linds, set the table honey." Catherine says distracting her.

I'm standing in Catherine's kitchen wondering how I ever got here when I feel Lindsay tug my arm. I can't bend down but I do look down. She's smiling.

"Thank you." She says as she kisses my hand.

Catherine shoos her out of the kitchen and I notice she has a few tears rolling down her face. I'm not sure why she is crying but I do know I want her to stop. I do something that is completely out of character but, considering today I suppose you can say I'm rewriting that book. I make the first move and embrace her.

She is obviously surprised, I can tell as she is a little stiff but when my hand, of its own volition, starts rubbing her back she melts into my arms.

I don't even notice that I'm crying until a few drops hit her shoulder. What have I gotten myself into?



This is never what I wanted. With Catherine safely ensconced in my arms I'm feeling more than I have in a while without help from Jack. I find myself wrapping my arms around even further, almost squashing her into my own body. I've stopped crying but I'm not even sure why I started.


She doesn't move, in fact she buries her head further into the borrowed shirt. I can feel the two wet patches courtesy of her tears but I think she to has stopped crying.

What a pair we are!

"Mommy? Are you okay?"

Lindsay and her entrances. I'm relieved for this one because I wasn't sure how to break away from the embrace.

Catherine wipes her eyes and smiles at her inquisitive daughter.

"I'm fine baby. Mommy's just really had a bad time at work. Sara was helping me."

I was helping her? I think it's the other way around.

"Are there lots of baddies?"

"Did you set the table?" Catherine changes the subject.

"Yes Mom." Lindsay replies.

"Okay. Dinner will be ready in ten minutes. Go wash up."

Lindsay nods and runs to the bathroom.

"The sauce looks salvageable." Catherine says moving away from me.

I don't know what to do. I almost wish she would order me to do something so I could at least get out of the kitchen.

My savior is once again in the shape of a child.

"Sara, what would you like to drink with dinner? Mommy sometimes has a wine."

Catherine's head shoots up at the mention of alcohol. I have to admit, I can almost taste the alcohol on my lips. A lovely dark red. Heavy flavor with a delightful after bite. I see the look in her eyes. Is it fear?

I think she's waiting to see how I will reply and I'm torn. I haven't had a drink for a while and it's true that I always crave the next one but technically I'd be at work now so I wouldn't typically have one at this time anyway.

But the knowledge that there is one in my reach is too much to resist.

"Sara?" Lindsay asks impatiently.

"I'll just have some water." I say.

Catherine expels a breath at my answer and I think she had been holding that in awaiting my reply. She probably doesn't want a drunk co-worker with her daughter present.

"Mom?" Lindsay asks as she gets another glass out.

"I'll just have water Linds."

I wonder if she is passing up the alcoholic drink because of me but I don't say anything. I know that if I saw it in front of me my self control, or what little there was of it, would crumble and I'd reach for it like a woman at a half price sale.

Dinner is a funny affair. After I sit in the seat designated for Catherine and being told not so subtly by Lindsay that I have to move, we begin to eat. Lindsay's endless chatter about school keeps my mind working frantically, trying to keep up. Topics never stayed on a straight line, Lindsay often chopping and changing from a story about her teacher to a fellow student back to her teacher then to the cleaner. I'm spinning more than I do after a nice long drinking session.

Catherine follows Lindsay with ease. I suppose being subjected to this all the time would condition you to it. She glances at me a few times during the meal and I wonder if she's checking up on me. I'm not eating much but that's normal for me. I try to force myself to eat more so Catherine doesn't say anything in front of Lindsay.

"Aren't you hungry Sara?"

Damn, this kid is too observant.

"It hurts my side when I eat." That's not a lie, my side does hurt when I eat but it's always sore.

"Mom always makes me a bath when I don't feel well."

"Linds, leave Sara be."


"Yes Lindsay."

"Thank you for coming here. Mom got to spend time with me."

What do I say to that? Heavens, I need to get a rule book to function with the Willows women. I sneak a glance at Catherine who is smiling but her eyes are sad. No more tears Catherine, please.

"I'm glad your mom can spend more time with you." I say.

"She works a lot. Daddy used to stay with me sometimes. We'd make pancakes." Lindsay says.

I'm amazed at the ease to which she referred to her now deceased father. Either this kid is even more resilient than her mother or she's in some serious denial.

Believe me, I'd know about the latter. Thinking that I had a romantic thing for Grissom aka 'the bearded cave man' was the biggest of them all. Our first date would have consisted of him picking bugs out of my hair ala apes in the zoo. Second date? The library most probably. Looking into new insect infestation periods of a tropical bug with shiny little wings that are blah blah in diameter.

I don't even want to think about where our third date would be.

Catherine has changed the subject while I was pondering all that. I come back to their discussion with Lindsay pleading with her mother to buy her a new cd.

"Mom, it's just a song."

"Saying you want to kill your mother and hit your partner is not just a song Linds. That's a gruesome fact of life and shouldn't be glorified in a song simply to make money." Catherine replies.

That's a great 'mom' voice. I wonder if it comes with pregnancy or whether you just always have it.

"Mom," Lindsay pouts.

"Subject is closed."

I've heard that tone. She's getting mad. Lindsay knows it also because she's decided to remain silent.

It's funny how I'm so attune to Catherine's changing tones and body language yet I'm still not sure why I'm sitting at her dinner table. What I've done to her in the past few days has been nothing short of criminal.

I know we've never had a relationship to be envied. There has always been a polite tolerance of each other. Sometimes we'd get heated about a case. I'd take it personally. I'm sure she just moved right along. Her ease with which she approaches people is completely opposite to me. I try to shy away from people knowing too much about me.

Well, that's not worked out well. Brass was first. An outsider of sorts. He was the first to notice. What does it say about my relationship with my so called working family that no one said anything? Sure, they all looked at me and wondered what was wrong but no one asked.

Now here I sit essentially stripped bare in front of this woman. She knows too much about me. She's seen too much. Yet I'm drawn to her. Her smile, her laugh. The way she walks into a room and commands the attention of everyone. The trust she has to invite someone like me into her home. The way people are interested in her. The way she fights me, the passion in her work. The way she managed to look past her own hurting and come to my rescue.

The way she felt good in my arms as I was comforting her.

Oh no.



"Sara, you alright?"

I move away from the gently touch on my arm. Catherine's hand drops to the table and hits my discarded knife.

"I'm just tired."

A lame excuse but it was the only one I had.

"Do you want to lie down on the couch?" Lindsay asks as she returns from the kitchen. At least, I think it's the kitchen because I lost a bit of time in my day dream.

"I think I should be going home." I say.

I've still not looked at Catherine and I'm incredibly afraid to. I'm not sure what my last thought about how good she felt in my arms means and I need to escape this house as soon as possible.

"I'm going to finish my homework." Lindsay says.

No, I don't want to be left on my own with Catherine.

"I don't think you should be alone." Catherine says carefully.

I've always been alone.

"Worried that I'll get drunk?" I say sarcastically.

"Yes." Catherine admits.

I need to stop talking to this woman, she always surprises me.

"It's my life." I say defensively.

"Yes it is. But you came to me tonight."

"I can't stay here."

That sounded like I was pleading with her.

"Why not?"

I look up and lock eyes with Catherine for the briefest of moments and I see her confusion.

"I'm not good with families."

Lame Sara.

"I'm not asking for you to move in."

"I know that. It's just that I can't ... damn it Catherine, I really don't feel comfortable here."

Catherine makes another half attempt at reaching out to touch me.

"I thought you wanted me to help you."

I do.

"Moment of weakness. I was still sore and drunk. I've gained a little clarity. The time here was nice. Thank you." Wow, I said all that very fast.

I get up with minimal pain to my side and hope Catherine will just call me a cab.

"I'll drive you." Catherine says.

She gave in faster than I thought she would.

"I'll be okay. Just call me a cab. Lindsay's here, spend time with her."

I can see Catherine's inner turmoil over what to do.

"I'll just get Lindsay."

Damn it.

In fifteen minutes Lindsay is standing near me talking excitedly about her mothers promised detour to get ice-cream.

"Which one should I get?"

"Sorry?" I ask obviously missing the beginning part of Lindsay's latest story.

She sighs and I almost smile. She's very much like Catherine.

"I was going to get bubblegum flavored but I don't know what my other scoop should be. Chocolate, vanilla or something like that tropical."

"Ah, maybe you should get vanilla?"

Vanilla. Boring. That's what I'd get because I'm no longer one for taking a leap and putting myself out there.

"Are you getting one?"

Catherine reappears with a bag. She hands it to me and sees my questioning glance.

"Your clothes." She says.

"So Sara, will you?"

Lindsay was like a pit bull refusing to let go.

"Sara will be at home baby, we'll get ice-cream on our way back here."

Once again I'm conflicted. While I am grateful that I don't have to stay with Catherine any longer than needed I feel a little down that I wasn't invited.

You can't have it both ways Sidle.

I have to give Catherine directions to my place which is funny because she's driven to my place from hers not too long ago. Lindsay is nodding off in the back seat and I wonder if she'll be awake for her ice cream treat.

"She'll wake up as soon as I'm in the car park for the ice cream." Catherine says smiling.

Can she read minds too?

"Okay, here we are. Will you need help up the stairs?" She asks as she pulls into my place.

"I'll be fine. You've done enough tonight."

"I don't get paid by the hour Sara," Catherine comments dryly.

"I'm just saying that. Well it's just that."

Try finishing the first sentence before starting another.

"Our relationship is pretty weird." Catherine says smiling.

"Yeah. I don't know how to act around you. I hate that you know about me. I don't know how you can hold back after the two times I've attacked you."

Finally, it's out.

"Sara, that's life."

That's life? What kind of response is that?

"I have held back because I know that I'm not ready to discuss the hurt and anger that is surrounding that. I also don't think you're ready to hear it. Look Sara, you and I know you're addicted to alcohol. If you continue it'll only get worse. Work will suffer, you'll be selling things to buy more booze and as impossible as it may seem, you'll become even more withdrawn."

I don't need to hear this.

I don't want to hear this.

"Imagine being fired from work because you're alcohol addiction caught up with you. That place is where you're the most alive. What would you have after that? That would be the final note in your destruction. There would be no way back for you."

"You don't know me Catherine." I say quietly, tears threatening to spill.

"I know addiction. I know you better than you think."

"Yeah, so you've claimed before." I spit out.

"Your mood swings, your aggression, it's a sure sign of addiction."

"I thought you weren't going to lecture me."

"You obviously don't want my friendship so if I have to act like your mother and your boss all in one I'll do it."

"How about you leave me alone." I say loudly.

Great, I've woken Lindsay up. She's looking at me with sleepy eyes.

I unlock the door and make my way to my unit. At first I think Catherine is going to drive off but she's out of the car before I manage to get away.

"This has happened a few times. You yell or I'll yell then one of us will say something hurtful. This is a cycle we have to break."

I don't want to break it. It's safer.


Go away from me. I'm dangerous. I'm not worth it.

I don't say anything so we stand there for what seems an eternity. Catherine is the first to move. She backs up and turns.

I don't blame her for leaving.

She gets in the car and with one last look at me drives off. I can't get inside my place fast enough.

Hello Jack, I'm home.



The drink is smooth like silk but the enjoyment I had not too long ago has waned slightly since being at Catherine's. As I take another healthy swig I'm hit with flashes of Catherine. This is new. Usually it's the victims, or an aura of those victims. Faces appearing in my own warped reality.

I'm glad that all this hasn't stopped me drinking though. I'm still in the shadows. I'm still in pain.

I take the bottle with me and go to lie down. I'll be into work tomorrow. I have to find justice for the York family. The names will be remembered like my own monument to the dead. Names engraved in my mind.

Catherine's pledge to help can't erase that. It can't take the truth of death and unsolved murders out of my life.

Where is this sponsor of mine anyway? She ran from me once more. She took her daughter and they went for a great little family adventure. Laughing about people they know while eating ice-cream.

I wonder what the second flavor Lindsay picked.

I wonder if Catherine licks her ice-cream all the way around. That tongue reaching out to catch the tiny drops that melt.

Okay, stop that. Where are these images originating from?

My body clock wakes me from another binge. My head isn't as sore as I thought, probably because I didn't drink as much as I usually would. I closed my eyes to rest for a moment and fell into a restless slumber. I've got two hours to get ready for work. That's a pretty good sleep. At least eight hours.

Shower. That's where I need to go. Body, hey you listening?

Getting up takes forever what with the hangover, head wound and these bloody painful ribs. Hot water. Nice. Oh okay, that was too hot.

I'm getting a tiny belly from the alcohol. I'm not anticipating any kind of sexual activity soon so I don't care. Who would want someone like me unless it was a one night stand?

In the dark.

The rest of my body is alright. I never had complaints with my figure the few times I took the leap to trust someone but that's not what sex is to me. Call it my twisted youth; the sexual attack on me. Whatever. My legs are in need of a good shave. They can be done another time.

Like when I'm not in so much physical pain.

I wear pants anyway.

I pop some painkillers before brushing my teeth and gargling my mouth wash. I know Grissom is going to be torn between telling me to go home and telling me to work overtime but I don't care. He can do what he pleases, I need to work.

I just need to stay away from Catherine.

Oh yeah, in an office that small and with all of us working the same case. That's really practical Sidle.

Gee sometimes I wish I'd shut up.

I get my usual cab into work and notice that Catherine's car is already here. So much for staking out a spot in the office and letting her know I was here first so she'd best find somewhere else.

Now I'm not even sure I want to go inside. She has the upper hand. I could walk into her as I enter. She could be laughing and joking with the guys in the break room. She could be talking with Grissom.

She could be talking to Grissom about me.

Can I send my transfer request via email?

I manage to get to the break room without seeing Catherine. Unfortunately, once I'm in there and pouring myself a coffee the guys come in and play big brother.

"Do you need to sit down?" Warrick.

"Did you get a look at him?" Nick.

"Can I see your ribs?" Greg.

Somehow I think his inquiry is purely for a cheap thrill.

"I'm fine guys."

"Are you sure?" Nick asks softly.

Grissom saves me from having to continue this conversation.

"Sara? Should you be here?"

Polite as always.

"I'm fine." Should I tape it to my forehead?

"Catherine came in late last night which I thought was surprising considering she said she was caring for you. She's been at it since then."

She came in?

"Yeah, Brass got that old lady to remember a little more. We look to have a pretty darn solid suspect." Nick said grinning.

"The old lady remembers that stranger took a dislike to her dog after it jumped on his pants leg. Catherine asked to get a sample from the dog. Greg pushed everything else aside and did that first thing this afternoon. It's a match." Warrick jumps in.

"So she's in the interrogation room with Brass now?" I ask slightly hurt. If something this big happened why didn't anyone call me in?

"He's pretty quite though. Very smart too." Nick says.

"I'm sure of Catherine can persuade him to confess." Greg says wiggling his eyebrows.

"Grow up man," Nick says throwing sugar at Greg.

I don't stay around for the remaining conversation. Instead I head to watch the interrogation. I love this two-way mirror. In a way it's like my life. People think they can see into my world with clarity but I'm really only projecting the image they want to see.

All with the exception of this strawberry blonde who is leaning across the table. This woman has found a way to break a little bit of the glass and gain access. If the glass shatters all the way I'm afraid she'll be too important for me to let go. I won't get myself into that predicament.

I can't.

I try to re-focus on the interview. Brass has raised his voice; a sure sign he's getting frustrated.

"Are you claiming you weren't in that neighbourhood?"

His lawyer reaches over and whispers to him.

"I exercise my right to silence."

Catherine's mad too. I can see it in her shoulders. They are straightening and her eyes are starting to get darker.

"You have no rights. You murdered an entire family in cold blood. What was the child? A little something different? Keep your cell mates talking about you ?"

I know she's not emotionally detached from Nicholas' death but hearing that tone and her callous description almost makes me believe it. If it wasn't for the brief flash of pain I saw in those eyes I would have.

"I resent the implication here Detective." His lawyer protests.

"Tough." Catherine cuts in before Brass can answer.

She throws the results of Greg's test over to this murderer.

"What's this? Your child's math homework?" The murderer asks. I don't care to know his name.

"Cute. No. It's proof you were in that street. It's proof you were near the York's home. Its proof you killed them. My colleagues will search your home and by God help you if we find those pants."

"I like walking. Dogs, well dogs I don't much like but I do love a brisk walk every now and then."

Smug bastard. Just give me ten minutes alone with him.

Okay, not alone. With a W.W.F. Wrestler doing my fighting for me. I'll just watch.

Brass sees this interview is going nowhere so he pulls himself and Catherine out of the room. I stay for a moment to gauge the reaction of the murderer once he's away from supposed prying eyes.

He stands, saying nothing and adjusts his hair in the mirror. His lawyer is looking at the DNA sheet trying to make sense of it.

I leave the room and go over to Catherine and Brass.

"He's pretty smooth." I say.

"Hey Sara, didn't think you'd come in today." Brass says smiling.

Nothing from Catherine other than a forced smile.

"Yeah, I needed to work." I admit.

I think Brass wants to say something but is discreet so just looks at me and then turns his attention back to Catherine.

"More evidence to prove it was him is our only way to proceed."

"Yeah Jim, I know. We're all working on it. We need that warrant." Catherine says frustrated.

I take the time to look at her thoroughly. She looks tired. Her hair is slightly wet and I know she didn't go home to shower. Her clothes are rumpled from precarious hanging in a car and locker. Her eyes are red and she has slight black circles under them.

"You need some sleep Cath." I say. Did I just shorten her name? Please God she didn't hear it.

The look in her eyes tells me she did. I know Grissom, Nick and Warrick have done it and she's said nothing. I recall one time she almost gave Greg a heart attack with those penetrating eyes when he did it. Let's see what her reaction to me is.

Confusion. I see confusion.

"I'll get some sleep after this case is solved." Catherine says running her hand through her hair and cursing when she hits a knot.

Gee, she sounds like me.

"You've been here longer than all of us," Brass says.

Yes, backup!

"I'll be fine. If I start nodding off I'll get a nap okay?" She spins to look at both of us.

Brass shrugs his shoulders but I'm not placated by her response.

"No, we need you alert Catherine."

Catherine laughs sarcastically and I beg she doesn't say anything about me.

Oh. She doesn't need to. Those damn eyes speak volumes. A cross between sheer amazement I even suggested that mixed with a dash of mocking. Add some salt and an egg and I could make breakfast.

Bad joke.

This is my cue to walk away but Brass leaves before me. Now I try to flee but I can't.

"Please take it easy, you've got Lindsay to think about." I plead.

"Did you drink last night after we left?"

Gee Catherine, don't waste time on small talk.

"That's not your business." I hiss. She's obviously going to know I drank with that reply.

"I'm sorry that I noticed you enough to find out Sara."

"I'm fine Catherine. My drinking is under control. It's just a hobby."

Grissom did tell me to get one after all.

"Wake up Sara. You're in serious trouble."

I grab Catherine's wrist and it hurts me to see that terror in her eyes but I need to talk to her without witnesses and I don't think she'll come voluntarily.

"We've done this dance. Twice." She says.

I have the urge to hug her. To feel her body wrapped around mine.

I want to make that move but I know she'll take it as aggression.

"Cath, please. Please just leave me be." I beg which is ironic because I dragged her in here.

Catherine's hand wraps around mine and I feel her smooth palm clasp my cold and sweaty one.

"Sara. God I hate you sometimes. Yet..." she doesn't finish her sentence but her hand stays in mine.

"Yeah, I know. Weird relationship." I say repeating an earlier line from her.

It gets a laugh from her which I have to say is the best sound I've ever heard.

"Yeah. Weird." She whispers.

Suddenly she looks nervous and I misread that as fear. I try to put some distance between us but she makes up that ground. We are no longer touching but our breathing has become louder and faster. I have nowhere else to go and yet Catherine still comes closer.

Our bodies press together and I almost stop breathing. This contact is so intimate. Catherine puts her hands on my arms, looking up at me. I've seen this look before but I can't describe it. It's often held prisoner by her other emotions but it's out in the forefront right now.

My arms work of their own volition as they wrap around her waist. She sighs and moves her hands further up my arm, resting on my biceps. I have no idea why we're doing this but as we pull our bodies tighter together it seems like there is no need to analyze it.

I simply must let it happen.

God this feels so natural.

"Sara? What are you thinking?" Catherine whispers.

"You are better than any drink I could have." I reply kissing the top of her head.

She moves away from me faster than anything I've ever seen. Tears have suddenly appeared.

"What?" I ask confused.

She can't reply, she simply moves back until she hits the other wall.

I try to think of what I said.

It hits me.

God Sidle you are totally worthless.

I compared this feeling of wonderment with alcohol.

Oh shit I have severely messed this up.


"Fuck you Sara."

Woah, she's hurt.

"Please, I didn't mean it like that." I say, blocking her only exit.

"You just compared having me in your arms to an artificial feeling of joy. When I think that maybe I'm ready to let you in you treat me like this!"

Let me in?

"I don't understand Catherine."

She laughs bitterly, looking up at me with tear stained cheeks.

"No, I guess it escapes you Sidle because you can't think past the permanent haze all that booze creates for you. Now let me leave."

Okay, I have to think fast. I can't physically detain her. What can I do? Think, think, think.

Five minutes ago I was contemplating something pretty outrageous so I decide to hell with what she says after it. This will be my only chance.

I raise my hands in defeat and she tries to open the door. This is my opening. I lean down to capture her lips but she's so startled that I manage to only get her cheek. She doesn't move and I wait for the slap across my face.

She goes for the door again, saying nothing. As I move away, this time to allow her to go, she touches my hand. This sends a shiver through my entire body. I look down to see what her eyes are telling me.

I gently and slowly, touch her face. No resistance.

I run my fingers down her face and cup her chin. She leans into me.

I bend down and chastely kiss her on the lips. She smiles.

I bend down again but this time she's attacking me with a ferocity I've only seen in her anger. Her tongue traces my lips, her mouth captured the bottom one and she sucks on it.

I moan. Or maybe she did.

Who cares, Catherine's tongue is in my mouth.

Thank God I used all that mouth wash and so forth today.

She pulls away.

"How much did you drink last night?"

Mood killer.

Her tone isn't accusatory, it's soft and questioning.

"A lot." I admit.

She smiles which I think is peculiar.

"First step Sara. Your first baby step."

I shrug, not quite understanding.

"I have to go." She says.


"Work, I have to work."

Usually I'd be the one pressing for that but all I want to do is stay here with Catherine.

I move and she leaves. I watch as she walks down the hall.

Not once did she turn around.



My brain has shut down. I kissed Catherine. I kissed her and she didn't back away. I kissed her. Then I was too honest with her. Did I not say this would happen? She's too damn close to me. Oh but what a feeling. Her body radiating heat and her kiss, goodness, that kiss was amazing. The fact that she was willing to be kissed by me fills me with hope.

It also fills me with dread.

Why isn't life simple?

I've not left the observation room so I suck in a deep breath and start the trek back to my office. I wonder how much progress has been made with the search warrant.

"Sara, good."


"What is it Grissom?"

I sound pissed off but he doesn't even notice.

"I'll need you and Catherine to execute the search of Thomas Winston's home."


"The suspect. Catherine and Jim had him in interrogation earlier."

A name to the murderous face.

"Okay. Where's Catherine?" Oh look, I managed to act really calm about being alone with Catherine.

"Don't know. When you find her let her know."

See you Grissom. I wonder where he goes after talking to us. He plods up and down the halls quite a lot.

I go looking for Catherine. She's not in her office or the break room. Greg doesn't know where she is and he's the eagle eye I usually go to for something like this.

Locker room is my next stop. I hear a locker door shutting and try my luck.

At first she doesn't see me so I take a moment to admire her. She's half in the dark but her hair is glowing in the light shining down. It's almost a Touched By An Angel moment. I half expect Della Reece to start singing.

She's changed and is wearing the pants Greg once said, out of Catherine's earshot, looked like pajama pants. Predominately white with thin light caramel stripes. They are tight but she wears them well. She's also wearing a white tank top, her curly hair covering the top of her shoulder.

Staring at her like this feels wrong so I knock on the locker closest to me to catch her attention.

"Hey Sara."

Her voice is so musical.

"Grissom wants us to go with Brass on the search warrant."

"I thought Nick was on that."

"Can't help you with that, Grissom just came up to me and told me to let you know."

Catherine sighs.

"Alright. I'm going to need to get changed. Again."

I must be looking at her puzzled because she smiles and elaborates.

"The zipper just broke."

I look down automatically and blush. I can't see anything but the knowledge that her zip is open is enough.

"I'll be at the car." I say backing out.



"After shift can we talk?"

She looks nervous so I'm not as concerned as I would be.

"Sure. See you outside."

Our drive is quite but it's not an uncomfortable silence. I think we're both caught up in our own thoughts to be concerned that neither of us are talking. I wipe my hand on my pants and notice a small tremor. Damn withdrawals.

I almost jump out of the car when Catherine's warm hand takes mine in hers.

"Withdrawal's a bitch." Is all she says.

Her hand stays in mine for the rest of the trip.

Brass is on his cell phone when I get to him. Catherine is just calling Grissom for something so I go ahead.

"Hey Sara."

"Brass. Can we go in?"

"Yeah. His house is so clean. Apparently he has a housemaid."

Great. It wouldn't be impossible finding something with our technology but I was really in the mood for an obvious clue. This guy is obviously clever.

Catherine enters and whistles. I can see what she means. From the outside the house doesn't look like much but inside it's a work of art. High ceilings with intricate patterns sculpted into the paint; his furniture has to be all antique. It has an old feeling to it but it's all perfectly restored it could pass as brand new.

"No photos of family." Catherine comments as she walks through the lounge room.

"Not everyone likes to be reminded of their past." I say softly.

Catherine looks at me. I hate that look. It's the one where she can see deep inside my soul and understand what I'm saying. Or what I'm not saying.

"Let's bag all his trousers. Maybe we'll get lucky." Catherine says changing the subject.

"If he's so smart he probably threw them out." I say as I watch her ascend the staircase. The carpet is maroon and feels wonderful underfoot.

"If I have to pull his washing machine and dryer apart to find something to nail this bastard..." Catherine fades off knowing I understand how she feels.

"I've got power tools," I say smiling.

Catherine returns the smile.

"Thanks." She says and I'm glad that for once I'm able to help her.

I can't stand too much of this so I head over to the closet. I open the huge doors and they take me by surprise by the weight of them. My hand slips off the handle.

"Need some help there?" Brass jokes.

I ignore him and try again, this time proportioning my weight so it's easier to pull them open.

Once I do I'm not surprised to see everything so organized. Shirts and trousers are hung in order of colour while his shoes are arranged in sneakers, boots and dress shoes.

Catherine is searching his bed and the carpet around it. If he did throw his trousers out we may be able to find a clue elsewhere.

"Are you taking all of them?" Brass asks referring to the trousers.

"Yeah. We'll get Nick and Warrick to wade through them." I joke.

We're there for two hours going through every meticulously. Catherine is talking to the maid, who wasn't there before when I come down with my final evidence bag.

"So he came home that day and asked you to wash his trousers?"

"Yes ma'am. I washed them and put them in the dryer. He hates it when I do that but he didn't know."

My eyes light up and I see Catherine nod as if reading my mind.

I try not to get my hopes up as I open the dryer and find the lint tray.

"Ma'am what are you doing?"

I put the entire contents into a bag.

"Collecting evidence."

"How often do you change that filter?" Catherine asks.

"Once a week. It doesn't get used much. I don't know why Mr. Winston has it."

"Thank you. You've been a great help." I say smiling.

I do as I joked and pass of the clothes to Nick and Warrick. I'm too interested in the lint findings to care if they complain. I see Catherine talking with Grissom and he looks over to me as Catherine is mid-sentence.

There was something in that look that made my heart beat faster. I was incredibly nervous at what Catherine was saying. Surely she wasn't telling Grissom about my drinking.

I almost go up to them but I try to calm myself. My office is the best place for me right now. It's where I feel the safest at work.

I feel a little stiff trying to sit in positions that wouldn't hurt my ribs. Bending down at Winston's house really hurt but I was so focused on finding evidence that I put it out of my mind.

The photos have been taken down and I wonder who did that. I hate it when people move things around in my space.

There's a knock at the door and I wonder who it is. Not many people knock considering it's a public spot.

"Hey Sara."

"Catherine. Any news?"

I want to ask her about her conversation with Grissom but I don't.

"Sara, I don't know how to say this."

Oh no. She told him.

"You told Grissom about me."


I slam the door in her face and lock the door. I can't face her betrayal right now.

"Sara. Open up. Sara."

I want to yell at her for betraying my confidence but I have no words. I'm in shock. I thought she cared. She was probably just getting enough information to give Grissom a stronger case against me.

"Sara. I'll create a scene if you don't open this door."

I ignore her.

There is no noise for ten minutes. Then I hear a key being stuck into my doorknob.

Catherine flings open the door and closes it behind her.

I'm too shocked to move.

"Grissom." She says waving the keys in her face.

"So, what can I do for you Judas?" I snap.

"You didn't let me finish."

"I heard all I wanted."

Catherine throws the keys on the table and grabs my wrist. She's stronger than I thought but it seems I've miscalculated her in many ways.

"Sidle. Shut up. I told Grissom you hadn't healed from your injuries and that after this case you needed to take some time off."


"I put in for some time owing. You and I are getting away from work for a week. We're going to talk."

"Is this some kind of intervention tactic?" I ask bitterly.

"This is me concerned about you. This is me wanting to take care of you." Catherine whispers, her finger's stroking the pulse on my wrist.

"I don't need time off." I say.

"Either you take this week or I will get Nick and Warrick to kidnap you and stick you in a detox centre."

"You can't do that."

"Sara, please."

"I suppose I have no choice." I say resigned to the better option.

"You have a choice Sara. You're an adult."

"But you just said you'd force me if I didn't take the week off." I say confused.

"Sara, even in the detox centre you can leave at anytime you wish." Catherine says. She looks unsure, like this wasn't the speech she planned on giving me.

"Why are you doing this?"

Catherine takes a deep breath before answering.

"Because for a long time I found it hard to be around you. Now I'm finding it hard to be away from you."

"You hated me." I say.

"No. Never." Catherine shakes her head.

I know this is a conversation we can't really delve into at work so I leave it for now.

"You came to me Sara. You know you are spiraling out of control. I have been there Sara. I know addiction. I know the thrill and I also know the pain of it."

"Why, what have you been addicted to? Hair products? Fashion?" I ask sarcastically.

I see a flicker of hurt in her eyes and I automatically reach out to embrace her. She falls into my arms and I sigh.

"Sorry. Natural instinct." I say into her shoulder.

"We'll talk okay, just not now." Catherine promises.

That's fine with me. I have her in my arms and I enjoy it.



We stay in the embrace until a pager goes off. I'm reluctant to let her go but I know that I have to.

"It's yours." I say checking mine.

"Greg. He has news." Catherine says.

She still has one arm around me and that hand is running horizontally across my back.

"I hope it's good news." I say softly.

Catherine takes her hand away and smiles.

"We'll get him Sara. We'll get him."

I don't know if she's trying to convince me or herself but either way I hope she's right.

"Are you coming?" Catherine asks as she starts to leave.

"Are you sure?"

"Hey, it's your case as well."

"I know, but you're primary and I can just hear the news at our meeting."


I look up and see her concern for me shining in her eyes.

"Okay, I'm worried." I admit.

"That Greg won't find anything." Catherine says understanding.

"I know, innocent until proven guilty but with this guy..."

Catherine nods.

"That's why we let the evidence speak Sara. Come on." Catherine extends her hand and I don't move for a moment.

"I'll be with you not matter what." Catherine says softly.

I reach out and grasp her hand. I know that if Greg doesn't have the news I so desperately want I'll have Catherine with me. She'll support me. She'll encourage me to find more proof. She won't let me fall.

Funny how her persistence to combat my stubbornness means that we're at this point.

Baby steps. That's what she said earlier. I feel like I've taken a huge step towards the daylight.

I don't need to drink anymore.

I can give it up. Easy.

"Hey lovely ladies." Greg breaks me out of my musings flashing his boyish smile at Catherine and I.

"Results?" Catherine asks.

"Don't I get a hello?" Greg pouts.

"Greg, I said hello to you when you came into work. I don't need to say hello everytime I see you." Catherine sighs.

"Testy!" Greg exclaims but hands over his findings to her.

Catherine looks at it and I try to gauge her reaction. Greg is leaning against the desk smiling. I don't know if that's a good sign because it almost looks like he's leering at me.

"Cath?" I say impatiently.

She's silent, reading over the sheets twice. She hands it to me. I can't see her eyes and I'm concerned.

I read the results from the lint in the dryer.

"Are you sure?" I ask Greg.

"Yep. Tested it twice."

Catherine is now looking at me, a smile adorning her face.

"We got him Sara." Catherine says.

God I want to kiss her. Hell, I'd kiss Greg right now but I really want to feel her inside my mouth, caressing her tongue with mine. I want her to slip her hands under my shirt and touch my skin.

Wow, when did I become so horny?

"Sara, you okay?" Greg asks.

I'm standing, holding the results staring at Catherine. I think she can read what I was thinking about because she's moved her eyes to look at my lips.

"Just really pleased Greg." I say.

Then I do something that probably surprises me more than him. I kiss Greg's cheek. By the time I pull back his entire face is beet red.

"Anytime you want positive results, come to me." Greg says. This attempt of playing cocky isn't as convincing as usual. His slightly strained voice gives him away.

Catherine smiles when I turn to look at her. I throw caution to the wind and hug her.

She is a little startled at first but she wraps her arms around me and snuggles her head into my neck.

"Is there room for more?" I hear.

We break away and turn to see Warrick grinning at us.

"Great news. The lint is a match." Catherine says.

"Hey, that is great." Nick says from behind Warrick.

It's funny. Here we all are in Greg's lab. All smiling faces, and I realise that this is my family. We fight but we always manage to work together. We may not spend every free moment with each other but we all have our own lives.

Here comes the weird Uncle. Grissom.

"What's this?" He asks.

"Greg matched the hair found in the lint of the dryer with the hair found on Nicholas' pants. One hundred percent match." Catherine says handing Grissom the proof.

"Good. Let's tell Jim."

He is telling Catherine this and suddenly the room looks ridiculously packed. Warrick and Nick leave saying something about writing a report. I don't want to go but I'm essentially standing here for no reason now.

"I'll write up the report on Joan." I say to no one in particular.

"No Sara, I need you." Catherine says.

I hear a small trace of desire in her request and I smile.

"I need you in the interview." She amends.

Grissom nods and walks away.

"Good work Greg," Catherine says before she leaves.

I turn back to see his smile.

"So here you have it. The dryer is your downfall." Catherine says throwing the evidence at Winston's lawyer.

"Lint? Come on." His lawyer scoffs at our results.

"Lint that was in your clients dryer after his maid washed those pants you so eagerly wanted clean." I add.

Come on, say something you murderer.

"Lint isn't enough to convict." His lawyer says smiling.

"Add the eye witness who saw your client near the York's house. Add her statement that her dog jumped the leg of your client." Catherine starts.

"The same dog hair found on the tracksuit pants of Nicholas." I continue on her sentence.

"Looks like you're in a bit of trouble." Brass says, coming out of the shadows of the room. I'd almost forgotten he was there while Catherine and I were playing cops.

"This will get thrown out immediately." His lawyer says with confidence. It is pretty circumstantial, I have to admit, but we're not finished there by any means.

"Got anything to say?" I hiss.

Winston smiles and I cringe. His eyes are dark and soulless.

"Tell my maid she's fired."

I want to reach across the table and kill him with my bare hands. I think Catherine sensed something in me because she places her hand on my thigh.

It's not enough to physically restrain me but it does make me calmer.

"Take him away," Brass orders one of the uniform cops in the room.

That smile as he left will stay with me for a long time to come.

"What do you think Jim?" Catherine asks, her hand still on my thigh.

"The jury would love to have the weapon. You know how they are with evidence."

"Lint and dog hair won't cut it." I say softly.

"Who knows Sara. That is our job after all. To find the evidence." Catherine says rubbing my thigh. I can see even she realises this is not the defining victory we wanted.

"I wish we found the gun. Or the motive." I say frustrated.

"It is a little weird that he's just find the York family. Did we ever find any connection between them and Winston?" Brass asks.

"No. Perhaps this was just a murderous rampage for the sake of it. Did you see his behaviour in here? He's ice cold." Catherine says.

"All that, the death of a young boy and he did it simply for sport?" I say hitting my hands on the table.

"Sometimes we don't have the answers for murder." Brass comments.

"But I want them! I want them for Nicholas!" I yell.

Catherine and Brass exchange a look and he leaves.

"Sara. Come on." Catherine pats the seat next to her.

I sit but look at the table.

"I want him just as much as you do but it's not over. We'll find more and the court will convict if we do it right. We have to trust that they will do the right thing."

"That's bullshit Catherine. We both know he'll get off because juries don't understand DNA comparisons and all that." I yell.

"You're angry."

"Damn right I'm angry. God this world sucks." I am still yelling and I don't care if anyone hears me.

"I can't promise you that he'll get convicted. I wish I could." Catherine says softly.

"This is why I drink Catherine. Can't you see that this world is not right? Murders, rapists, child molesters. They all commit crimes but we have to find the evidence. If we can't then they are free. Where is the justice?"

"So you drink to do what exactly?"

"To erase the pain." I say softly.

"Has it worked yet?" Catherine asks.

I look at her to see if she's being sarcastic but I don't find it there.

"I don't want to talk anymore."

"Great, avoid the topic." Catherine says shaking her head.

"You get more truth out of me than I want to give Catherine. Can't you see that?" I plead.

"What good is it if you shut down?" She asks.

"I don't want you to see all of me." I say in almost a whisper.

"I do Sara. I see a woman who was once extremely confident in her work. I see a woman who used to smile at work. I see a woman who is now falling apart because she won't allow anyone to be too close. I know you Sara. Not all your secrets, your hopes and fears but I know you better than anyone here."

"I know. That's why I try to keep you away from me."

"It hasn't worked too well." Catherine smiles.

"I can't breathe around you. I feel like I'm spinning. It's a lot like drinking." I say as she hugs me.

"So you think substituting me for alcohol will help?"

"No. I don't mean it like that. Shit, Cath I'm not good with expressing myself."

"There is time Sara." Catherine says smiling.

"Two weeks ago I never thought I'd have you in my arms. I held onto Jack as though he was my lover and protector."

"I don't share well." Catherine whispers.

"It may not be a contest." I admit, kissing her softly.

"Giving up drinking isn't that easy." Catherine warns.

"Sure it is. I drank after my attack and stopped. I can do it again."

Catherine wraps her arms around my waist tightly.

"This is all so fast." I say.

"Too fast?"

"I don't think so." I admit.

"I wanted to ask you out for years now. I hope you don't think I'm taking advantage of you." Catherine mumbles into my shirt.

"You what?" I ask amazed.

"Oh was that out aloud? Sorry." Catherine looks embarrassed at her statement.

This woman is my complete opposite. She's so open and willing to put herself on the line.

"No, it's uh. It's okay. I'm just a little shocked."

"We'll talk about this later okay?" Catherine says.

"I want to talk about it now," I say.

"We can't. Reports." Catherine sighs.

"You put that out there and then retract it." I say flustered.

"If it makes you feel better, I've always admired you Sara. At some stage it turned into an affection for you. I can't tell you when exactly that happened but it did. I kept it to myself because it wasn't right to have those feelings about you. I then started to get angry with you because you couldn't see it. Irrational, yes. I was on overload having to see you everyday. I was tempted to tell you about Hank but I was afraid my feelings would show. I know you must have thought I was gloating. I wasn't. I was hurting for you. Then Eddie. Well that was a hard time for me. Having you working the case was too much for me."

"Catherine, about that." I'm silenced by her fingers on my lips.

"It was too much because I wanted you to hold me and tell me everything was going to be okay. I was hurting inside. I was such a bitch to you. I never hated you though. I hated myself."

"This is, wow, this is pretty amazing."

"I just felt that after some time I should just try to be a friend to you. I was happy with that. When I came to you about your drinking I was coming as a friend. Please don't think I was trying it on with you because you were vulnerable."

"Catherine." I'm at a total loss. How do I reply to that? All this time I thought she hated me and now she's saying she'd had feelings for me?

"I know, I've said too much. I knew it would happen once I spoke up."

"It just kind of contradicts your behaviour to me since I arrived here." I admit.

Catherine is crying. Shit. I can't tell her I feel the same because I don't know how I feel. I know that I long for her to be near me. I know that I also want to push her away before she sees my demons. I am attracted to her, I've always been attracted to her. Is that enough?

"Cath, don't cry. It's okay. Thank you for telling me."

She pulls away from me and I don't know what else to say. She whispers something about reports and leaves me standing alone in the interrogation room.

I need a drink.



Nick bursts into my office with a wide grin saying he's found something I have to see. I'm glad for the interruption as it will help keep my mind active after Catherine's heart felt speech. I don't have much time to think about a response. If there even is one I can give her.

"So you see Sara, these pants show signs of extensive scrubbing. Almost in bleach."

"Like trying to erase a stubborn stain. Blood maybe?"

I try not to get my hopes up.

"Hit the lights." Nick says, grin still as wide as it was when he summoned me.

Sure enough, there is a small trace of blood on the back of the last pair of pants Nick went through. I almost wish I had taken this arduous task on myself so I could have found that little extra bit of evidence.

"Run in against the samples we got from the York's." I say unnecessarily.

"I'm on my way. Hey can you tell Cath?" Nick says waving as he runs off to hopefully get the positive result we all want.

I'm tempted to simply page her but I know she's as shaken up about this case as I am and, truth be told, I'm interested in seeing her.

"Catherine? It's Sara." Well duh, she's going to know it's you.

"Come in."

Her voice sounds distant and when I open the door she has her back to me.

"Nick found blood on the pants."


I walk over to her and now notice the slight shake of her shoulders.

"Hey, you okay?" I ask softly even though I know she's still upset about what she said earlier.

"Yes. I'll come out in a few minutes okay?" Catherine says.

I know she's been crying in her dark office all alone but I don't want to push her so I simply nod, even though she can't see that and close her door.

I'm not good with words to make people feel better. I'm only good at getting them into that state.

"Hey Sara!" Greg waves me to his lab excitedly.

I get there in time to hear the tail end of Warrick's good natured teasing.

"You took so long processing those pants man," Warrick says smiling.

"Hey, when you have over four hundred pair of trousers to do and it's broken up with Sara and Catherine's lint news it takes a long time. I mean who has more than about ten pairs of pants in their closet?"

"I do." Catherine says peering over Nick's shoulder.

"Sara?" Nick asks.

"I've never counted them Nick but I'd have more than ten." I say.

"I have a whole rack devoted to rock group t-shirts." Greg adds.

"Well that doesn't surprise me." Nick teases.

"Okay look before Gris comes again, I'll just be in the break room." Warrick says, touching Catherine's shoulder as he leaves.

"I'm staying." Nick says crossing his arms.

"My lab, my results." Greg says.

I desperately want to stay but I know Catherine has the right as primary but before I can offer up my spot in Greg's crowded office Catherine speaks up.

"I'll keep Warrick company. I need a coffee anyway."

She smiles but it's not a genuine smile. Her eyes could pass as tired and I know if anyone asked her and she gave that excuse they'd be incline to believe her what with her long shifts. But I know better.

"No Catherine, you stay." I say trying to move past her.

"No Sara, try to elevate the tone in this room," Catherine says gesturing to Nick and Greg who had already moved onto discussing the latest Sports Illustrated.

I smile at her joke.

"I'm okay with what you said before." I tell her. I can't remember if I said that in there. I know my body language may have said otherwise.

Catherine touches my wrist for the briefest of moments.

"It was wrong of me to say it."

"No Catherine, it was honesty. I admire you for that."

"Want a coffee?" She asks effectively closing the subject for now.

"No I'm fine. You go and get one. As soon as we know I'll come in."

Catherine smiles and leaves. I turn to hear Greg comment on the lack of fabric on the cover girl's breasts.

Come on results, please, please, please.

I wonder what that little gesture of affection was before with Warrick and Catherine.

We wait and wait. Results, even on a mad rush, don't materialise immediately. A watched printer never prints. Or something. I'm trying to look everywhere but right at Catherine but it's just making me dizzy so I break down the periodic table in my head to pass the time.

"They're coming!" Greg exclaims.

The whirring of the printer was like a Godsend. The time it took for Nick to tell me the results took an eternity.

"The test on the pants confirms it is blood." Nick says.

Oh come on, spit it out.

"The blood was tested with all three of the York family. It came back a match for Joan." Nick said.

I don't think I've even embraced as many people as I have this one shift.

I have to tell Catherine.

I turn to the break room and see Warrick and Catherine embracing. They pull apart and Catherine's eyes are like magnets; they draw mine to hers.

She knows. She heard us.

Well, really how could she not.

Warrick is shaking Nick's hand and pulling him into an embrace. We must look extremely weird to the rest of the people working here. I can't explain this sudden need for group hugs and so forth. We've had bad cases before. We've had deadlines. There was just something different about this one.

It's brought our group together even more.

Greg even managed to hug me without trying to feel me up.

I'm in the Twilight Zone.

"Okay, we're going out after the shift. All of us. I know a great little place not far from here." Warrick says.

I hardly ever go to these get togethers. I often say my goodbyes as they leave on a group meal and then turn back to my cases or drive home and have a party for one.

"Cath, you up for it?" Nick asks.

"I want to spend some time with Linds but after Nancy picks her up I'll meet you there."


Catherine watches me as I ponder my reply. I wonder what she wants me to say.

"Sure. Someone will have to drive me."

I think Nick was surprised I said yes but not disappointed.

"I can drive you," Warrick offers.

"Thanks Warrick." Funny how four years ago we were enemies.

I look to Catherine who is wearily leaning against the glass window of the break room. I suppose the same can be said about our relationship but I think we've turned that corner. Finally.

"You should go home," I say to her.

I've caught the boys attention with my worrying and they all crowd her.

"Your eyes are bloodshot," Nick says.

"Brass can interview Winston tomorrow, let him stew in his cell." Warrick says, rubbing her shoulder.

"You still look hot..." Greg got an elbow in his ribs for his comment.

Catherine smiles and tries to calm the boys down. She throws a pleading look to me and I'm tempted to ignore it and get them to physically pick her up and take her home.

"Warrick, can you drop Catherine off at her place? I'll stay with her until she's ready and then we'll meet you?" I ask.

Catherine's eyes are wide open at my request.

"Nah, I'll drop her home but you're not going to get out of coming with us." Warrick says.

He's misunderstood my reason but I can't really say 'I want to kiss Catherine' in front of everyone.

I have six male eyes staring me down so I sigh and accept his offer. Catherine is not looking at me, she's looking down at her highly fascinating boots.

We all disperse with Catherine promising to let Grissom and Brass know of the latest development. I tidy up my office and figure my report can wait till tomorrow. First for everything.

I'm actually excited about not having to go home and drink. It makes me happy that I'm now over the hard part.

I race over to Catherine's office where I sit and wait for her to return. While I'm there I look around noticing things I'd missed in previous visits.

She has very few personal things in her office. One small photo of Lindsay and herself and a little tray obviously made by Linds. Besides her keys and sunglasses that is all she has.

I don't want her to think I'm on a scene so I sit and spin in her chair. I stop that after the second spin as it hurts too much.

Catherine said she had a week booked for me. And herself. I hate holidays. I like keeping my brain active. It does make me think though. Catherine told me I'd better take it yet she didn't take me off the case. She made a point of saying that the holiday was to begin when this case was closed.

She also let me stay in the lab when she really should have been the one to stay. She didn't care about seniority and she had in the past.

As I pressed gently into the tray made by her daughter I smiled. Catherine had shown her affection by understanding how much this case had become to me. How emotionally attached I was. She had effectively cut herself out of the immediate loop to allow me to experience the joy firsthand.

Of course, it could have backfired and it could have been a negative result but that fact that Catherine was willing to be out of the spotlight so I could perhaps bury a few of my smaller demons showed me more than her words ever could.

I was startled when I heard the door open but when Catherine said my name I calmed down.

"What are you doing in here?" Catherine asks puzzled.

I get out of the chair and make my way over to her. I open my arms and she comes to me. We wrap around each other tightly, I kiss her head.

"Thank you for today." I say.

Catherine kisses my collar.

"You needed to be there for Nicholas." Catherine says cupping my cheek.

"You were there for me." I say leaning into her touch.

"I'm always here for you."

I bend down and capture her lips. The first kiss is soft and closed mouth. When I move slightly as Catherine accidentally applies pressure to my ribs our positions change and Catherine has her tongue in my mouth. We duel for supremacy and I yield to Catherine's superior moves. It feels heavenly to be kissed by this woman. She massages my tongue and withdrawals almost completely before seeking out my tongue for yet another duel.

We both break apart for some air. Her head comes to rest on my shoulder.

"Sorry about your ribs." She says breathlessly.

I trace the groove of her spine over her shirt and smile as she presses her chest into me.

"It's okay. I deserved it anyway." I say.

Catherine pulls back staring into my eyes.

"Don't talk like that." She whispers.

"Sorry." I say ashamed.

Catherine says nothing, just wraps me up in a secure hug.

God this feels good.



Grissom lets us all go with an early mark. Five minutes. You can never say he's not a generous man. He praises us but reminds us that it's not over.

He's never been a good motivational speaker.

Catherine is laughing with Warrick in a comfortable easygoing manner which almost makes me jealous. Okay, I'm honesty jealous. I don't have that with Catherine. We don't really have much to joke about considering everything. I wonder if we'll ever have that.

I know Warrick's hand on Catherine's back is purely platonic but I still want to break it off at the wrist. I smile. This must be what jealously feels like. Homicidal tendencies that are unwarranted. Feels pretty funny.

Catherine turns to look at me. She's puzzled by my glare at first but when she assumes she knows why she just smiles at me. I feel pretty silly being caught out.

"Sara? You ready?" Warrick says from over Catherine's shoulder.

His hand is still on her back.

"Yeah." I say. I sound grumpy but it's the only tone I can come up with that is neutral compared to the burning rage inside me.

Warrick half hugs Catherine and tells her to hurry with her make-up. She laughs.

"Sara Sidle, are you feeling a little left out?" Catherine hums near me.


Catherine runs her fingers up my arm and it leaves a trail of goose bumps.

"Liar." She says. There is no malice in her voice.

"We should go." I say. My cheeks feel red raw. Am I blushing profusely?

Catherine chuckles behind me and I try to ignore it.

"It's very cute Sara. Your little green eyes monster routine."

I still don't take the bait.

"You're the only one I'd let stroke me under my shirt." Catherine whispers. Her voice is husky and it takes all my will power not to turn around and kiss her.

"Hey you two!" Greg smiles as he opens the door for us. I motion for Catherine to go before me and as she does my hand grazes her arm.

"You cold Catherine?" Greg says looking at Catherine's arm.

I smile.

"Just got a shiver Greg. Anyway, I'll see you later right?"

Greg is easily distracted and rattles off the meal he wants. We part company and I start laughing.

"Come home with me." Catherine says.

She sees the sheer fear in my eyes and smiles softly.

"Just keep me company. We don't even know what this is between us. I'd rather not fall into bed with you because I'm something different to alcohol and I don't want yo thinking you're obligated to do it because I confessed I've liked you for sometime."

"Cath, I don't..."

Damn Warrick; he cuts me off.

"Hop in ladies, I don't want to get there too late."

I want to tell Catherine that I don't see her as my alternative to drinking. I've been thinking about my sudden need for her and it really isn't that sudden to be honest. I've always tried harder to impress her. I always wished she'd talk to me like she does with the rest of the team.

I can tell you her outfits of the last two weeks, how her hair styles say different things about her. I can tell you when she's getting mad. When she's happy. If she didn't come into work I can recall feeling a little less full without her.

That's attraction right? I've not felt it in a very long time.

Why did I have to come to this epiphany when my life is so routinely screwed up?

I'm seated in the back, Catherine and Warrick talking about a mutual friend. Someone I don't know. They try to include me in their conversation but as soon as one tries to tell me an amusing antidote the other often interrupted with another.

After a while I just rested my head on the door and feigned sleep.

While laying in this position I take time to study Catherine's face in the side mirror. I don't think I've seen anything more angelic, more perfect than when she is genuinely enjoying herself. Her eyes radiate in her glee. Her face is at its softest when she's relaxed and laughing. She doesn't care about her appearance. Her hair falls over her face and she just shakes her head to move it.

She catches my face in her mirror and smiles a knowing smile.

She can't see my eyes in these glasses can she?

No, these ones were good because it allowed me to put them on and survey a scene without people knowing I was looking at them. I think she just assumes I'm not asleep.

"We're here!" Catherine exclaims.

"You will come right Cath?" Warrick asks.

"Of course. I just miss a lot of time with Linds, I'd love to take some time to just talk with her."

"I understand." Warrick nods.

He reaches over and kisses her on the cheek.

"Sara? Want to jump in the front?"

"Nah, I'll just stay here." I say.

"Are you sure either of you won't come in for a tea or something?" Catherine asks.

"I'm fine Cath." Warrick says smiling.


I know this is Catherine's way of inviting me but allowing me to make the final decision.

"Sure. Warrick, you mind?"

"You will make her come?" Warrick asks Catherine.

"I'm still in the car you know," I joke.

"I promise she'll arrive when I do."

Warrick just smiles and bids me farewell.

Once he is out of sight Catherine kisses my cheek.

"I wasn't sure if you'd say yes." She admits.

"We're at a really weird junction Catherine. Look at where this started. I think a little time talking about it won't hurt us."

Catherine smiles and grabs my hand. My heart is beating fast. I usually begin to drink soon and I'm afraid how I'll behave.

"Catherine, I need to put something out here."

"What is it?"

"I don't know how I'll react soon. I usually go home and drink." I say.

The truth isn't pretty but I feel the need to be honest with her.

"I won't stop you drinking but please respect my home. Please respect me and my daughter." Catherine says sternly.

"I should have gone with Warrick."

"I've got wine in the fridge. You are welcome to it." Catherine says softly.

I don't know if this is a test or not. I look at her and she's looking down at the grass. My mind is telling me two things. Drink and don't drink. Catherine has a pretty powerful aura to her but is it stronger to combat the lure of alcohol?

I take a deep breath before answering.

Part 21

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