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
PART TWENTY ONE
Catherine is looking at me, fearful of my answer. I know I'm taking a long time to reply; I could be that annoying man on American Idol. I want to spit it out but there are two different replies swimming around in my head.
"I want to talk with you Catherine. I want to know what this is between us. I want to know where to go from here."
Catherine senses I have more to say.
I run my hand through my hair in frustration at my inability to put Catherine out of her misery.
"I find myself wanting to let you in Catherine and that frightens me more anything."
Catherine takes my hand in hers and smiles.
"Take your time Sara. You've not had as long as I have to think about a possible romantic connection. Just come in and we'll take every minute as it comes."
It sounds so easy.
"Okay." I say kissing her hand.
Catherine pulls me into her house and I hear two voices in the kitchen. One is obviously Lindsay. The other is not known to me.
I'm suddenly feeling uncomfortable. Great, yet another emotion to contend with.
"It's my sister. You can stay in my room until she goes if you want." Catherine says noticing my body stiffen.
I don't know why, but at that very moment I wanted nothing more than to take Catherine in my arms and hug her until we had to go to work. Her offer to spare me the uncomfortable first meeting stirred up a gamut of emotions. All good. That she was willing to consider how I may feel made me feel; well I can't describe it. I suppose you could say that while I knew Catherine cared for me considering she came back after I attacked her twice, it was at that moment that I really saw her.
Sometimes I'm really slow.
But I'm catching up.
I settle to a quick half hug and smile with a bravery so false it wouldn't take much for it to crack.
"If she's a great as you and Lindsay I think I'd be upset that I missed meeting her." I say.
Catherine smiles and her eyes sparkle. I love getting that reaction from her.
We let go of each other and I follow Catherine into the kitchen.
"Mommy!" Lindsay exclaims as she puts the towel on the bench and comes over to hug Catherine around the waist.
"Hey baby. Heya Nancy."
Nancy flicks her gaze over to me before replying to Catherine's greeting. I feel like I'm being scanned by her. She meets my eyes and smiles.
"Hi." She says, her hands still in the sink.
"Hi." I say shyly.
"Sara! Are you staying over again?" Lindsay asks.
I didn't miss the raised eyebrow from Nancy and the subsequent questioning look to Catherine.
"No I'm not. But I will be here for a while if that's cool." I say.
"That's cool." Lindsay says returning to the discarded towel and heading off to the sink.
"Nancy, this is Sara Sidle from work." Catherine says smiling.
"Ah, well you're taller than she mentioned." Nancy says.
Catherine mentioned me to her sister?
I smile in return. What can you say to that ridiculous kind of statement?
"It's a pain at times; trying to get slacks that fit to the length I like." I say joking.
"So, I hear you and Catherine were working that horrendous York case."
I stop smiling and try not to look too distressed at the mention of the York case.
"Yeah. Got the killer today."
Not that it makes a difference to Nicholas though.
Catherine changes the subject by asking Lindsay about her science project.
"Sara loves science." Catherine says moving closer to me.
I can feel the heat from her body as she nears me.
"Can Sara help me?" Lindsay asks.
"You can ask her Linds. But not today okay? Aunty Nancy is going home and picking you up in a few hours. You can go watch a DVD or something when you're finish with the dishes."
"Okay." Lindsay pouts.
I can feel Catherine's hand on mine and my heart rate rises.
"I've got to go Cat." Nancy says.
Catherine smiles when she sees her sister's eyes follow the small circular patterns Catherine's hand is tracing on my arm.
"It was good to put a face to the name so heralded by my sister." Nancy says looking to me.
"Thank you." I say.
Nancy kisses Catherine on the cheek and they exchange a look. I'm sure it's about me but there is no anger or disgust in Nancy's eyes. In fact, she looks happy for Catherine.
Nancy yells a farewell as she closes the door.
"Finished mom, can I watch TV now?"
"Yes baby. Sara and I want to talk so you can watch it in my room okay honey?"
"Okay mom." Lindsay says running down the hall.
I wait until I hear the door close. I pull Catherine's waist to me and her mouth crashes onto mine. Her tongue is the first to dart out but it's met with its companion shortly after. My hands are in her hair, wrapped around her beautiful curls and her hands are in my straight and thin hair.
Our kisses are full of fire but they gradually slow into a pace where we can both take our time to explore and enjoy each other. Catherine moans as I put my hands under her shirt. I can't get enough of her soft skin. I have to touch it. I have to find more.
My hands are on her back, sliding up and down but I want to move them to the front. I move my own body away from her slightly so I have more room. My hands slip around her waist. My fingers play a delicate dance on her stomach. I know she's got a ticklish spot right under her left breast after her little giggle when I touched there.
I love the sound of that so I continue to run my fingers around that area. She moves her body away from me but doesn't protest when I return there.
We break apart from each other realising that we're entering new territory. I've not felt this interested in another person's body in what seems like forever. I just want to explore her entire body; see where she likes to be touched. I want to trace her grooves with my tongue.
After my sexual assault I even found it hard to undress in front of a mirror. I took, on average, six showers a day. Sometimes I'd take them in my undergarments. I didn't want anyone touching me and I didn't want to touch other people.
Gradually the visions of that night dissipated but that night never left my psyche. I struggle still with that secret. I never told the few partners I had after it about that night. Some just thought I was shy about my body and the ones who weren't patient quickly disappeared.
"Sara, you okay?" Catherine asks, her hand cupping my face.
"I think we should stop."
"I agree. We need to talk."
"Let me start," I say. I can see that surprises her.
She leads me to the couch and I sit next to her. My back is ramrod straight and my hands are twitching.
"If you don't want to talk," Catherine starts.
"I've not wanted to touch someone like that in a very, very long time." I say softly.
Catherine moves closer but doesn't touch me.
"Because of your assault?" Catherine asks cautiously.
"Yes. I mean, I was never really comfortable with being naked in front of someone before that but I am pretty shy when it comes to things like that. After the attack I felt so dirty. I blamed myself. I knew that shortcut was dangerous but I took it anyway. I'd shower all the time. I wouldn't scrub myself but I'd just stand in there, the water too hot or too cold, trying to wash away my memories."
"Did you get counseling?"
"Yes. From the bottom of a bottle. I didn't want people knowing about it. I was naive. I thought if I didn't talk about it then it would go away. You know, like a memory that your mind just drops along the way. I went through emotion after emotion. I was in shock at first. When I was getting examined and the police were talking to me I was angry with myself and the man who did it. Then as I gave my statement I was eerily calm. Almost like an outer body experience. Getting home and taking the medication I remember becoming hysterical. I cried for hours. Then I'd break into laughter. Laughter! Can you believe that?"
"You went through a highly traumatic experience. We're not conditioned to deal with something like that. It makes sense that you would act like that." Catherine says softly.
I grab for her hand and continue.
"I had a few boyfriends after it but I always found myself looking for someone who wouldn't need too much emotional work on my side. Which may explain my Grissom thing."
I notice Catherine's posture change when I mention him.
"I never dated him Catherine but I did pursue him." I admit.
"Okay." Catherine says nodding.
I think that conversation isn't over but I want to continue with what I was talking about before.
"Anyway, it always took me a long time to even consider having a physical relationship with someone. I would always pull back when a man would try to touch me. It didn't make me a great person to date." I say smiling sadly.
"So you started to drink in some kind of replacement for that feeling of contentment?"
"Yeah. I felt safe and protected. It also helped me forget."
"And now?" Catherine asks.
I know what she's asking but I'm not sure if I can explain it to her.
"Now I'm blocking out other people's pain." I say.
"When did you start again?"
Good question. It just felt normal to pick up that first drink.
Yes, that was it. I drank heavily every now and then before that but the regular drinking sessions started after I saw her lying in her driveway. Dead.
"Why her and not one of the other rape cases we've had?" Catherine inquires.
"I would go to a bar after those cases. I think it was just the breaking point. She died because she came forward. She took that courageous step to look at a line-up. As a result of us not finding more evidence she was silenced."
Catherine wipes the tears falling from my eyes.
"Murderers don't need a reason Sara. We weren't to blame."
"But I convinced her to come to the police station. I stayed with her. I wasn't as brave as she was. I couldn't press charges. I was afraid. I was a coward." I say sobbing.
Catherine doesn't hesitate this time. She kneels on the couch and wraps her arms around me.
"You, Sara Sidle, are not a coward." Catherine says firmly.
"I almost lost it during that case. Grissom was talking about it being easier to subdue her from behind. I sat there and all I could think about was my own attack. I should have been focusing on the case."
"Sara, you can't think like that. This happened to you. It's obvious those memories would re-surface during that case."
I'm crying too much now to talk so Catherine rubs my back and lets me cry in her lap.
I finally stop and lift my head. Catherine wipes my eyes smiling slightly.
"You want a tea or something?"
I really want that wine in her fridge.
"Just water please." I say.
I get off her lap so she can get up. She kisses my head as she leaves and I curl up on the couch, enjoying the feeling of warmth from where she once sat.
"Here you go." Catherine says placing the drink on the table.
I sit up and take a sip. Catherine is sitting on the couch next to me wondering what to do. I put my hand on her knee and she looks up at me.
"I've never told anyone that before." I say nervously.
"And I'll never tell a soul. You have my word on that."
"No, I don't mean it like that although thank you. I mean, I have never told anyone at all."
Catherine's eyes widen when she realises what I'm saying.
"Thank you for trusting me." She says softly.
"It's weird because two weeks ago I was in the dark. I was haunted by the shadows of years past. Two weeks ago I thought you were indifferent to me. Now I can't go back to that. I can't live in that corner anymore and I don't know why it changed so quickly."
Catherine's own face is covered with tears as I talk.
"I can't tell you how much I wish I had acted differently with you. I kept thinking I'd start trying to be a better friend to you but it was always too late." Catherine admits.
"It's never to late." I say kissing her on the lips softly.
Catherine pats her lap and I take that as an indication to lay in it. I can't talk anymore about my past, I'm emotionally drained. I love how Catherine knows this about me. I love how she notices me. I put my head in her lap and sigh as she runs her fingers through my hair.
"We have to go in about an hour. Just rest. I'll be here."
Something tells me her last line held more meaning than simply being my alarm clock.
PART TWENTY TWO
We all want someone to confide in. That person with which we can be ourselves and not be concerned about conforming to someone's pre-conceived image. As I lay peacefully in Catherine's lap I wonder if this is the turning point. Is this my breakthrough?
Is Catherine my salvation?
That's a heavy burden for her to carry.
Okay, I'm assuming too much here. I don't want to assume this is anything more than a budding romance created under an extreme situation. That I'm here because Catherine wants to make sure I'm sober or that I'm here for myself to feel needed.
I sit up to see Catherine's beautiful smile greet me.
"We should be getting ready." She says.
"I'm going in this, no time to go back to my place and change."
"Would you like to have a shower?"
"No point really, I'm only jumping back in the same clothes."
"I'd give you something of mine but I'm afraid it wouldn't fit."
"And your clothes don't really suit me." I add.
Catherine frowns so I elaborate.
"You are classy. You can pull off any new fashion. I'm plain. Simple. Basic. Predictable."
"You're beautiful." Catherine whispers and ducks her head.
My heart skips a beat at her near silent confession. I tip her chin up and lean in for a kiss.
Only to be thwarted by the front door opening.
"It's only me." Nancy yells as she closes the door behind her.
"I'm going to kill her." Catherine says into my shoulder.
I laugh and help Catherine up. She wraps her hands around my waist and refuses to break away even when Nancy comes up to us.
"Oops, did I interrupt something?" Nancy asks.
"Yes." Catherine growls.
Nancy puts her hands up laughing.
"I'll go get Linds. You girls have a few minutes. Resume."
I couldn't feel any more embarrassed than what I do right now.
"She's a brat." Catherine says. Her hands heading up to my neck.
I smile but it's swallowed up by Catherine's parted lips. She licks my top lip and I join in, taking her lower lip into my mouth. We are rushed but still passionate. Her tongue sucks mine and I feel her moan. She pushes me back and I topple over, falling onto the couch.
Catherine stops and looks at my position.
She kneels in front of me in between my legs.
"Sorry, I got carried away."
I'm still not sure why she stopped. Well there is a very inquisitive daughter but it looks more serious than that.
"You don't have to stop you know." I say smiling.
"I didn't want to but I was afraid at being so aggressive and straddling you."
"Oh. Because of what I told you." I finally realise what she's trying to say.
Catherine pushes herself up off my thighs and distances herself from me. I can tell from the slight red flush on her face and her body language that she's embarrassed.
I feel like there is something else to her reason. When did I get this sixth sense?
"And because I was so aggressive..." I add to her hesitation.
Catherine sits on the couch, not touching me.
"I know it was the alcohol but it still cut pretty deep." Catherine admits as she wrings her hands in her lap.
"I have no excuse. You'd think I would know better than that. We've had our verbal stouts and I know we've both been hurt by those but when I hurt you in your office and then when I kissed you against your will...well there are no excuses. Only my sincerest apologies."
"Apologies don't erase it. They only soften the memory." Catherine whispers.
Okay, she sounds pretty upset. I don't know what to do as per usual.
"I'm angry yet I'm not willing to let it put the stops on what we could have." Catherine admits.
"You need time?" I ask concerned.
Catherine turns to me smiling.
"I think it's too late to go back from the kissing. Now I've had them I don't want to let them go."
"So I'm forgiven?" I ask hopefully.
"I don't know Sara. I mean I know you were angry and it was uncontrollable. I know that you felt genuine sorrow after it. Yet I can't stop thinking about your eyes and the power you thrived on. You hurt me physically and emotionally."
I take Catherine's hand in mine, relieved she allows me to touch her.
"I have nothing else to give you other than my promise it won't happen again."
"You can't promise something the booze makes you do. Don't even try because it'll break my heart if you sink into that mood again."
I think that it would break my heart too; this woman has the power to change me.
"I wanted our first kiss to be sweet and caring. Mutual attraction. Mutual decision. Not one done in a drunken haze." Catherine admits.
I told you I'm stupid right? Here's another case for it.
"Oh Catherine. That's something that can never be recreated can it? Sorry seems to be inadequate."
"Please don't go on a pity trip Sara."
"Hey, I'm not. I'm just pissed off that you didn't get your wish." I say somewhat defensive.
"We're at a stalemate on this topic." Catherine says getting up as she hears Lindsay.
"You don't hate me right? We are going to move on with what is between us?" I ask worried. Panicked.
Catherine kisses me gently on the lips.
"Absolutely." She breathes.
Oh dear, goose bumps. I think my heart needs the paddles, it's stopped beating.
As Nancy waves goodbye I turn to Catherine.
"Hey, that absolutely, was it for the hate part or the progression part?"
Catherine laughs and grabs her keys.
God I love that sound.
PART TWENTY THREE
We get in the car and my hand automatically reaches for Catherine. It's shaking slightly but Catherine says nothing.
"Is this okay?" I ask, unsure of our boundaries.
Catherine smiles but keeps her eyes on the road.
"I've wanted to do that so many times. Yeah, it's very okay."
"How many times?" I tease, hoping it will distract me from the urge to drink.
"Oh, let's see. I have the notebook here somewhere." Catherine says smiling.
There is a silence and I'm struggling to think of something to say. I know that we've talked about some pretty heavy stuff of late and I should feel purged but I'm not.
We're at the place Warrick was raving about quicker than I thought. Catherine parks and we sit in the car.
"We really should go in," I say jokingly.
"I know. I just want some time with you before we have to go in there." Catherine admits.
I run my finger across her knuckles and she shivers.
"I need a drink." I say.
Oh dear, was that aloud?
Catherine's eyes widen. Yep, that was out loud.
"Then drink." Catherine says firmly.
"And have you mad at me? Or have me get mad at you?" I ask.
"You're an adult, you do what you want. Don't lay the blame on me if you feel like shit later on. Or worse yet, embarrass yourself in front of your co-workers."
I rip my hand out of hers. How do we manage to make things get bad so damn fast?
"Are you telling me to drink?" I ask amazed.
"I told you before. I'm not your mother."
Warrick yells at us from the door; there is no time to talk about it any further which I'm thankful for.
Catherine smiles and kisses Warrick's cheek as we enter. I thank Warrick as he stands at the door opening it for me.
"Lindsay all safe and sound?" Warrick asks.
While they talk I'm able to wave a greeting to Nick and Greg. I head to the bar and order a beer.
Beer is good. I can have a few of those.
The money falls onto the floor, a product of my shakes. I bend down to pick it up and see Catherine's boots in front of me. Looking up I try to pick up on her mood.
"I'll get an orange juice." She says and leaves.
Part of me is telling me to put the beer down and get a lemonade or something but it's always been the weaker part in this battle.
I take a hearty swig from the bottle coughing slightly as all the foam gathers from the quick motion. When I look up at Nick's voice calling me over I see Catherine sitting next to Warrick, avoiding my eyes.
The beer has calmed me and I feel pretty good. I want to show Catherine that I only did need that one soothing drink and that everything after this will be non-alcoholic.
"Heya Sara. We didn't think you'd come," Nick says smiling.
"Hey Nick. Greg. Who won the bet?" I ask.
I love the bashful look on their faces as they are caught out.
Warrick laughs at their obvious discomfort which does nothing to lessen the red flush spreading over their head and neck.
"Greg won." Nick admits.
I give Greg a smile and he gets out of the booth.
"It's Nick's shout. Another beer?"
I say yes before I can even think to say no.
"Catherine?" Greg asks.
"No, I'm fine Greg."
She doesn't look fine. Her eyes are dark and her posture is tight. Warrick looks over to me and catches me frowning. He says nothing.
Greg returns a few minutes later with the latest batch of drinks. Warrick asks for menus so we can eat at the adjourning restaurant.
It's a great little place. As you walk in you're greeted with a long row of leather booths. The oak tables have been polished with a glossy wax to match the brown leather. The seats look hard at first inspection but once you sit in them you sink into the most comfortable seats you could ever find.
The walls are a sandy shade with a wooden skirting board. Above it are small semi circle lights which aren't too dim yet also don't overload your eye sockets. There is a smooth jazz soundtrack in the background. I can tell Warrick knows a few of the songs with the way his face lights up slightly.
Nick interrupts my look around by spilling a little beer on my pants. His hand automatically reaches for the spot on my thigh but I jump and startle him.
"Oh sorry Sara."
"It's okay Nick, you just got me out of a day dream. It's okay."
I think I really scared him because he's holding out the napkin and shifting uncomfortably.
"I'll just go to the toilets, dry this off." I say sliding out of my end.
I make eye contact with Catherine who must have looked up when I pulled away from Nick. I hope I'm sending her a message silently. I want her to follow me.
She turns and resumes her conversation with Warrick showing no signs of getting up.
Not that I blame her.
I spend ten minutes in the bathroom looking at myself in the mirror. My ribs are aching again. Funny how when I was with Catherine the majority of the pain seemed to vanish.
Oh boy, that can be interpreted on a few levels.
The door opens, almost hitting me. I am about to abuse the person who hastily flung the door open when I see that it's Catherine.
"We're moving to the restaurant area." She says leaning on the doorframe.
"Nick got you another drink." Catherine says.
"One more and then I'll tell them I'm driving you home so I can't have anymore." I promise.
"I can drive myself home and if you have one more drink you can get a cab back to your place." Catherine says angrily.
"Hang on a second," I say mindful not to physically reach out and grab her arm
"You told me you weren't going to lecture me. Weren't going to be my mother. You told me to drink." I say upset.
"I have no claim on you Sara. You can do as you please. If getting drunk everyday is what gives you most pleasure then don't hesitate to ruin yourself."
"That sounds very borderline lecturing." I say smiling.
She's not smiling. Sara, stop smiling.
"Do you want me to beg you not to drink? To say that if you liked me enough you would do it for me? Sorry Sara, I'm not into that kind of power trip."
"No, you're into the kind of power trip where you know all my secrets and can walk around be satisfied that you cracked open the woman you've wanted to fuck for four years." I yell.
"Fuck? Well that's attractive. You're not some dog in the park that I can get cause we're both off our leashes. I'm sexually attracted to you sure but if you think I'm only hanging around to get some kind of post-alcoholic roll in the hay and then it's onto the next one, then you know shit about me." Catherine says.
Her tone isn't angry, in fact she sounds disappointed. She turns to leave and I stand there watching her go. I offer up no apology. I offer up no pleading. I have nothing left in the tank to give to her.
I wipe my eyes after having yet another cry. I think from now on whenever Catherine is around I'm going to need to carry a handkerchief.
Warrick is talking to the waitress when I come out of the bathroom. He is leaning in pretty close. I wonder if this is why Warrick prefers to come here.
"Sara!" Greg slurs as he waves me over.
He hands me another beer.
"Your shout next," he says. "This round is on Catherine."
He and Nick raise their glasses at Catherine who is shaking her head at them. She looks up at me as I am taking a sip from my glass.
Do I say thank you?
"I'm going to get a huge steak." Nick says looking at the menu.
"Me too. My eyes can't focus on the menu for me to try anything new." Greg says leaning on Nick's shoulder.
There is nowhere for me to sit other than next to Catherine. The temperature seems to drop as soon as I move closer.
I push my beer over to Greg.
"You guys can have my drink, I want to get a water with my meal."
Catherine makes no obvious moves towards me but I wasn't expecting a pat on the back. I didn't want her to think I did it for her because she'd just tell me it was the wrong person to do it for. I wonder if she was trying some reverse psychology on me by buying that round.
She's not sneaky. She's been nothing but upfront.
We place our orders and talk shop for a while. Warrick returns and sits on the seat at the head of the table.
"She's a knockout man," Nick whispers.
"Her name is Lumina. She's Romanian." Warrick says smiling.
"Wow," Greg says.
"I always come in here and we've been giving each other the eye for sometime. I just thought today I'd take the plunge. This case made me want to do something for me, something good." Warrick says.
"To make yourself feel alive," I say understanding what he means.
Warrick looks at me and smiles.
That's where my drinking came in handy. I chance a look over to Catherine who is watching Greg and Nick play Paper, Scissors, Rock with little success. I take a deep breath and lean over to whisper in her ear.
"You make me feel alive. You make me feel like I am important."
I know the boys are looking at us but I don't care.
Catherine just nods like I told her she needed milk or something.
The only thing that changes are the lines softening around her eyes and the hand on my thigh clinging on for dear life.
Yet another disaster averted.
PART TWENTY FOUR
Catherine's hand has clenched so tightly on my thigh I'm afraid it'll leave a bruise. I rub her hand and she softens her grip. Just barely.
"So Sara, what do you think of this place?" Warrick asks, thanking the waitress as she places his meal in front of him.
"Really nice Warrick. It's got a great ambiance to it."
"So I guess you'll come to these get togethers more often then?"
I look at Catherine when answering, "yes."
I expected Catherine to smile and understand the meaning behind it but she just gets up and excuses herself for a moment. I want to rush after her but I try to act casual and get up slowly.
"Chicks man, always in doubles." Nick jokes.
By the time I get to the bathroom Catherine is splashing water on her face.
"I can't do this." Catherine whispers.
"What, eat with those guys?" I joke.
"No Sara. This. You and I."
The good feeling I was getting has just turned into sheer and utter heartbreak.
"What do you mean?" I ask softly, unsure if I even spoke.
"Don't you see where you are? You're an alcoholic who is just substituting the liquid comfort for something that will speak to you. You have a confidant who can verbally make you feel better. I can't do this. I want all of you but it's an illusion."
I can hear her talking but I think I'm in some kind of trance. I want to open my mouth and say something but I feel like I'm right out of the womb. I'm crying, I can feel the tears dropping but it's the only form of communication I have.
"We should never have done this. I let my own feelings cloud my judgment. I thought you were ready to let someone in. I was naive enough to think you wouldn't need booze because you had me. That's destructive and highly stupid. You need professional help if you are to stop." Catherine says, drying her hands.
I look to her and something feels odd. She is so calm when she speaks. She keeps constant eye contact with me. There is something different here.
She's not crying.
I obviously don't mean much to her if she's not upset.
"Sara, say something." Catherine says.
I need you. I care for you. You are my light. You gave me the strength I lost.
I trusted you. I confided in you.
"I guess I can get a drink now." I say aloud.
Yes, it was the most ridiculous thing floating in my mind that was released in the face of this woman who I let under my skin. The woman who I opened myself to even thought I didn't want to but was glad when I did it.
"Yeah Sara, I guess you can." Catherine says sighing.
She turns just as she's leaving.
"Take care of yourself." She says as her parting shot.
Take care of myself? You were beginning to take care of me. Did my words mean nothing to you?
I hit my fist against the door and pray it's not broken.
My life has become a complete mess once more. When I'm with Catherine I can see there is more for me than Jack. I see the good work we do for the families rather than the sadness of the job. I can talk about my past and not worry about her psychoanalyzing me.
What a joke to think she'd ever see me as someone equal.
I get back to the table and Catherine's seat is empty. I didn't expect her to stay but to see her empty chair made me feel even more alone.
"Cath said she wasn't feeling well. Headache." Warrick says when I look at her chair.
"Yeah, she uh didn't look well in the bathroom." I say stuttering slightly.
"So Sara, your shout?" Greg slurs.
"I don't think they'll let you guys drink anymore." I say smiling.
"Nah, Bob lets us as long as we don't disturb anyone and we don't drive home." Nick says.
I frown, not sure if I should believe them.
"Yeah he used to be a cop, he knows what it can be like." Warrick says.
"So come on Sidle, get that cute butt up and get us those drinks." Greg says.
I shoot him daggers and he cowers behind Nick's shoulder.
"Careful man, she's dangerous." Nick jokes.
I order two jugs of beer and three shots of whiskey. As Bob pours the jugs I spin on my chair and my eyes lay on the now empty space Catherine's car was parked in.
I down the three shots in a matter of seconds.
"You want three more?" Bob says smiling.
"Yeah." I say. I'd better return with their drinks, I don't want to explain it to them why I drank all of them. Getting a reputation around the office as a supreme drinker would hit too close to home.
Bob puts the drinks on a tray and I wobble them for a moment. I can't put my arm up too high without pain shooting up that blasted side.
"Here, I'll do it." Bob says taking the tray from me.
"Hey Bob! Playing gentleman for our lovely lady." Nick says.
"Hurts my side." I explain.
"Oh shoot." Nick says. "Sorry."
"It's okay. Didn't realise until I did it. Lucky for me I didn't spill Greg's drink." I smile.
"Bob, this is Sara Sidle. We've been trying to get her here for a long time." Warrick says coming over to us.
Bob smiles and shakes my hand.
"Pleasure to meet you Sara. Anything you ever need you come to me."
"Thanks Bob. Great place you have here." I say taking a glass from Nick.
"My sister's. She moved and stiffed me with it." He says smiling.
He takes his leave when two other customers come in. I sit down and drink my beer. Warrick has gone to talk to his Romanian friend and Greg and Nick are talking about sports.
I put my hand on the back of Catherine's vacated chair. I feel so alone.
"Guys, I'm off. Take care okay?" I say making up my mind to get out of here.
"Oh stay Sara." Greg whines.
"Nah, I better get some sleep before next shift. We're going to put Winston in his place."
"It was great to have you here." Nick says.
"Thanks Nick. Tell Warrick I said bye."
I go over to the bar and ask Bob to call me a cab. I thank him and leave.
My alarm goes off but I'm already awake. I'm staring at a bottle of Jack on my table. It's unopened and has remained that way all day. I came home, my mouth watering for a drink but when I sat in my usual spot on the couch I found I couldn't drink it.
I must have reached out for it at least twenty times but everytime I tried to unscrew the top off I stopped myself.
I stare at the traitorous hands and make one last attempt to take a drink before I have to get ready for work. Still nothing.
I strip my clothes off and jump in the shower. My thoughts are on overload while I'm in there. Usually the most natural thing for me is to drink. It's an easy routine. Door in key. Open door. Throw stuff on the floor. Hello Jack. Greeting over, drinking begins.
As I get out of the shower and dry myself I remember some of the post-drinking routine. Toilet bowl. Hugging it. Vomiting. Vomiting. More vomiting. Mouth wash, toothpaste. Mints.
Today that's not happening.
I dress, reminding myself to do some washing. Today I put on a pair of pants that I haven't pulled out in a while. They are cobalt blue and tight. Not too restrictive but enough to hug my ass. I pull out my boots and check in the mirror to see if they cause my pants to bunch. They don't which is good.
I run my hand through the few tops I have ironed and hung up. I decide to just wear my white button down shirt. My hair is a little curly from the shower and today I just leave it.
Popping a few tablets purely out of routine I gather up my pager, phone and identification. My keys are on the side table so I don't have to rummage around for them. I lock up and with one last look at that Jack bottle I shut my door and head for my car.
I'm shocked the engine still starts, it feels like I haven't driven in years. The cd I was listening too the last time I was in here starts up again halfway through the song. I had forgotten that I borrowed Pink from Greg. I'm surprised he hasn't reminded me.
I simply have to laugh at the song that is on. Numb is ending and Just Like A Pill is beginning. What are the odds? It's like saying you like so and so and turning on the radio to find it's on.
Pulling out of my place I put my glasses on and sing along.
Greg is the first person I see after putting a few things in my locker. He looks a little worse for wear and I know how that feels.
Greg holds his head groaning.
"We're not talking today. Sign language only."
"What time did you stay till?" I ask.
"Let's put it this way. We stayed so long Nick and I had to shower here."
I smile but underneath that I am reminded of the many times I'd been in that position.
"I've got some great painkillers, I'll go get you some." I offer.
I pat him on the shoulder and leave.
"Oh Greg, here. Thanks for that." I'd almost forgotten to return his cd.
"Hey, no problem. Did you like it?"
"Yeah, she's got a great raspy voice but I think I'm getting too old for that kind of music." I say smiling.
"Nah, never." Greg says returning my smile.
As I'm getting the tablets for Greg I see Nick nursing a coffee in the break room, trying to read a file. I decide to get a few for him too.
"Nick, how are you?" I ask.
Nick looks up. He looks pretty good for a man with a hangover. I think he's able to hold his drink better than Greg. I hand him two pills.
"These good?" He asks.
Considering the times I'd had them and come to work without people noticing I'd been drinking I'd say they were pretty good.
Nick takes them and thanks me.
"No problem. Well I'm off to give the same dose to Greg." I say smiling.
Greg is so happy to see the tablets I think he's going to kiss me. He takes them greedily and hugs me.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you."
I pry his hands from my ass and move away.
"Let this be a lesson to you Saunders, get sober and get some pills before work." I smile.
I couldn't find this situation any weirder if I tried. Here I am giving a lecture about the perils of drinking. If Catherine could see me now.
Catherine. I wonder where she is. Damn, for about half an hour I hadn't thought about her.
My pager vibrates and I see Brass wants me. He must be ready to drop a little surprise on Winston. Blood on his pants; conviction for three brutal murders are on his menu.
Brass is leaning on the door when I get there. Catherine is on her cell phone talking to Lindsay.
"Yes baby, dinner tonight. I promise. Yes, I'm ready for the sleepover."
I smile imagining Lindsay's excited voice.
"Must be hard." Brass says to me.
"Hard for what?" I ask confused.
"To need someone."
Okay, where did that come from?
"Sorry?" I ask.
"I've been on the job for a long time Sara. You and Catherine. There is something there."
I can't talk to Brass about this.
"There is nothing there." I say sadly.
"Yes there is Sara." Brass says.
He stops talking when he hears Catherine saying goodbye to Lindsay.
"Cath, all okay?" He asks smiling.
"Lindsay's gone into Martha Stewart mode with this sleepover. She told me that my couch isn't good enough. She wants to go and buy a throw rug to cover it. Oh and she needs new sheets, wants a new tablecloth and to stack my fridge with every hyperactive drink and food possible."
I laugh and Catherine looks at me.
Brass interrupts us as we just stare at each other.
"He's in there, I think we've let him stew enough don't you?"
I'm anxious to see this man go down. So anxious in fact that I bang into Catherine's back trying to get into the interrogation room.
"Steady on Sara, we'll all get in there." Catherine says smiling.
"I just wanted to touch you," I whisper into her ear.
She shivers and leans back for a second but it's gone as soon as she sees Winston and his lawyer.
"What is going on? I thought we had finished." His lawyer yells as I'm sitting down.
"We simply love your company too much." Brass says sarcastically.
Winston sat smiling at the verbal to and fro glaring at Catherine who was opening and closing the file.
"Is this boring you?" He asks her.
Catherine simply smiles at him.
"I hope orange is a good colour on you." Brass says taking the file from Catherine.
"Actually it's not. I have fair skin. I prefer neutral tones." Winston laughs.
"Well hopefully you won't be in them for long." I say angrily.
"Planning to break me out of prison?" Winston jokes.
"You'll be leaving prison alright but it'll be in a pine box. After your little injection." I say.
"Lethal injection." Catherine says looking at Winston's lawyer.
"We've been here before." His lawyer says.
Brass throws the results of Nick's painstaking search for more clues on the table.
"Open it up." I goad his lawyer.
"The results you are looking at were taken from blood found on pants belonging you your client. It was tested with all three of the York family and came back a match for Joan." Catherine says.
"Planted obviously." Winston says smiling.
I choose to ignore his attempt to get me angry.
"The DA will be looking for the death penalty given the extreme nature of this case." Brass says.
"So Winston, got anything to say now?" I say smiling.
"Yeah. Those pants look great on you."
Brass yanks him up and out of the room before I can deck him. I sit back down and notice Catherine turning away quickly. I think she was checking out my ass in these pants.
The three of us sit in the room not saying anything. Catherine runs her hands through her hair and I resist the urge to rub her back.
"Great work guys." Brass says smiling.
"Yeah. This one got to all of us a lot." Catherine says sighing.
"It's always hard when it's kids." Brass says agreeing.
"A death is a death I know and it may be disrespectful to say this one was particularly hard but I can't help it." Catherine says
"We all have cases that hit us harder than some." I say softly.
Catherine nods and smiles.
"Okay well lets go get those reports finalized. I don't want him getting off on a technicality."
Brass pats Catherine on the back as he leaves.
"So, how are you?" Catherine asks me.
"Fine." I say.
"I saw Nick and Greg before." Catherine smiles.
Why can't I say more than one word at a time to her?
Catherine senses this conversation is going nowhere so she excuses herself. I reach out to grab her arm but stop. I want to tell her that I didn't drink when I got home but I think the damage was done when she bought me a drink and I drank it in front of her. I know she still finds me attractive but that's not enough. Now we're two co-workers who have progressed beyond that only to fall once more.
I push myself out of my chair and sigh. I suppose this will have to wait until after work. Right now I've got to focus on getting the report done.
PART TWENTY FIVE
I'm drumming my fingers along to the music in my head. Damn that Greg and his cd. I try concentrating on my report but after two calls from Grissom, one call from Greg and my mind wandering off to Catherine I'm not getting much done.
I save what I've written so far and head off to the break room. It's silent. Nick and Warrick are off on a case and Greg is tagging along. I laughed on the phone when I heard Warrick ask him if his kit was packed. Greg hasn't been able to live that down.
Thank goodness he's so good natured.
I pour a hot cup of espresso and take the time to sit and enjoy the change of scenery.
Speaking of scenery, here comes the woman who is tormenting my mind.
"Hey, needed a break?" She says smiling.
At least we're talking.
"Yeah. Just needed to clear my mind." 'Of you,' I think silently.
"I'm glad we've kept our friendship." Catherine says after a period of silence.
"Well it seems only right. After all we both came a long way during that period."
I'm not sure what to call what we had. A relationship? I know in my mind at least, it was building up to that.
Catherine smiles and leaves. I think she's nervous to be in the same room as me for a long period of time.
As she's going I make my mind up. I'm going to get her back. I want to show her I didn't cling onto her so she could replace the drink.
Now I just have to think of a way to do that.
Grissom pages me while I make my way back to my office.
When I get to his office he's sitting at his desk looking at a vile of what I'm assuming are small bugs. And this man told me to get a hobby! Pot calling the kettle black methinks.
He looks up, momentarily surprised I'm in front of him.
"This week off - do you still need it?"
I'd completely forgotten about that.
"Ah no Gris, I'm recovering well."
"Catherine asked me to pull hers. Said she wanted to keep it for when Lindsay was on her break."
This is intriguing. Remembering it hurts me slightly because I know we were both going to spend it together.
"She wanted to make sure I was taking it easy." I say shrugging.
"Funny she'd ask before you though." Grissom says peering over his latest dead animal.
"I talked to her about it when we all met up after work." I lie.
"Okay. Well good. I don't want to miss two of my staff." Grissom says.
I think that was my cue to leave.
After procrastinating for long enough I get to finishing my report. Well I was until there was a knock at my door.
"Yes?" I yell a little frustrated.
"It's me. We've got a call out."
"I'll be out in a minute." I say smiling.
Now I can start with my little plan to woo this woman back into my life. Okay, my hands are sweaty. I'm very nervous. I've never done something like this before. I've never wanted someone like this before, like my whole world would stop if I didn't have her in it.
I grab my cell phone and run out to the car. Catherine is opening the door of the drivers side.
"Sorry. Had to finish up on a train of thought." I say smiling.
"No problem. I can't leave without you anyway." She says returning my smile.
We chat about Lindsay on the way to the scene and every so often I flash her the smile I know she likes. She responds the first few times but seems to shut her emotional response down after that. I suppose after four years of doing it, it would come as second nature.
I never thought this would be easy but I also didn't think it would be this hard. She's worth it though.
As we get out of the car I brush up against her lightly. Our hands touch as we both reach for the same kit. I know her routine, she likes to be in charge so I know she'd give me the kit closest to her. I anticipated this and reached for it also.
"Sorry." I say grinning.
"You're in a good mood today." She says frowning.
"Yeah I suppose I am." I say and walk off.
We process the scene in three hours all up. It's all a blur as I try to watch Catherine. I want to learn more about her. Little things that other people may not notice. Like how she wipes the sweat off her forehead with her wrist. It's done in a fluid motion, almost like she's grooming herself.
Or how she'll push herself up by putting weight on her thighs. She needs no assistance from her hands, it's almost like a jack-in-the-box motion.
I must have been committing these things to my mind long before today because I know her entire routine from the car to the crime scene. Had I become so clouded that I missed out on what was staring me in the face for sometime?
I don't like drinking in the way people might assume. I enjoy the reality it creates; warped as it may be but I don't love it like someone does chocolate. It's a craving certainly but it's not pleasant when you're throwing up. Or when you're close to dehydrated or need four super strength painkillers to function.
Or when you lose someone who had the potential to be the love of your life.
Woah, wait a second. Love of my life? Where did that come from? I certainly like Catherine. I have an affection for her that transcends a friendship. Love? I've not had that for a very long time, how could I even say Catherine would give me that?
How can you love another person when you're so full of self-loathing?
"Hey, all done?" Catherine asks.
"Yeah." I say smiling.
"I've got to leave early today. Lindsay's party and all." Catherine says as we walk to the car.
Damn, I had a few things planned for the rest of the shift.
I hope I didn't sound too disappointed.
"So, Gil speak to you about your week off?" She asks.
"Yeah. I told him I wouldn't need it."
"Really?" Catherine says.
She seems surprised.
"Well yeah. I didn't want to take it in the first place." I say shrugging.
The rest of the trip is in silence which is common for us. As we get out of the car Catherine's cell phone rings.
"Hey Linds. No I haven't forgotten."
I motion to her that I'll take her evidence in. She smiles and walks away to talk to her daughter.
As I'm locking the car I hear my name mentioned in the conversation so I look up.
Catherine looks worried and drops her voice to talk to Lindsay but I still make it out. By eavesdropping of course.
"No baby, Sara can't come over. I know you want her to but she can't."
I experience two emotions at the same time. One I'm happy that Lindsay would want me at her slumber party. Adults aren't usually welcome at those things. The next one makes my heart drop. Catherine doesn't want me in her home.
I suppose I can't blame her. Her daughter is her first priority. Yet I'm still saddened to hear it.
Lindsay must be getting quite persistent because Catherine sighs and says, "okay Linds I'll ask her."
I sense the conversation is coming to an end so I make my escape.
Greg is back and listening to his Pink cd. Just as I got that song out of my head I hear it in his earphones. Great.
He flashes me a big smile and I think he may just be over that debilitating hangover of earlier.
"Hi there. Got evidence?"
I smile despite myself.
"Yep. Catherine has some too but I think I'll wait for her."
Greg smiles over my shoulder so I assume Catherine is making her way over.
"Sorry Sara, just Lindsay wanting more stuff for the party." Catherine says apologetic.
"No problem. Anything specific?" I ask even though I already know.
"Run of the mill requests."
Okay then. No mention of Lindsay wanting me to be there. Something tells me I won't be getting that invitation she promised her daughter she'd ask for.
That is a huge setback in my plan. How can I successfully make her see I want to be with her if she has obviously moved on so fast?
Seems my only loyal friend is Jack.
PART TWENTY SIX
I try to listen to Greg and his latest story about Nick's dating disaster but all I can think about is calling Catherine on her daughters request. If I did that however, Catherine would know I was listening in on her conversation. We're treading on thin ice as it is; not knowing how to act around each other. If I was to tell her I was eavesdropping she'd more than likely revert into the good old days where we'd argue and ignore each other.
I don't want that.
I want her.
I'm afraid that I'll sink back into my drinking. Look at me a few minutes ago. I was more than willing to jump back into that bottle just because Catherine wouldn't invite me over. I need clarity. I need to be motivated.
I drank after my attack. For years I would be on and off. Drinking heavily for six months then stopping for some time. The lure was too strong; I always came back. Then Grissom called me and I took it as a sign to start up a new life. I was running away, there is no discounting that but I thought if I wanted to change it would happen.
So I put the bottle away. Three and a half years I was sober. A beer here and there but I never drank to excess. I thought I had cured myself of my drinking.
It was always there in the back of my mind though. Okay, so I guess I lied when I said I never drank to excess. Rape cases got to me.
See, even in my own mind I find myself lying about how much I've had to drink. How can I convince Catherine I've given it away if I'm not honest with myself?
"Send me a postcard," Greg says breaking me out of my self analyzing.
"Wherever you were. It looked like it was a good place." Greg smiles.
"Sorry, thinking about the case." That's an easy one, I use it quite frequently.
I look to my left and Catherine is looking up at me. She doesn't believe me.
"It wasn't important. Look, I'll page you when I get the results of the blood and the fiber." Greg says smiling at us.
"Thanks Greg." Catherine says.
I dash out of there, embarrassed that I was caught out. I hear Catherine calling out to me.
"Yeah?" I say.
Try to be casual Sara.
"Nothing Catherine. Just processing the scene in my head."
She can tell I'm lying. We've both too become easy to read.
She touches my arm and I almost die from the casual contact.
"You can talk to me."
I want to tell her I miss her arms around me. Or that I'm looking at her lips and want to run my tongue across them.
The look in her eyes tells me I'm too transparent in my need for her.
"I've got work to do." I say trying to get away.
I want to flee but I'm captivated by her.
She pulls me into my office and locks the door. My heart beats with anticipation.
"This is hard. I want to kiss you but I know I have to keep my distance." She admits looking down at the floor.
"You don't have to keep your distance." I point out.
Catherine wraps her arms around my waist in an unexpected, but not unwanted hug.
"I have to. Couldn't you see it was tearing me in so many different ways?" Catherine says in stark contrast to her current position.
"Catherine, you had so long to adjust to your feelings. I'm not saying they weren't there for me because I clearly harbored feelings for sometime but wasn't aware of it. I watched you today and I discovered I knew so much about your routine I could have done it for you. I'd obviously taken note of it. What I'm asking for is time. Time to show you I can be the person you deserve."
"Time won't make the pain vanish." Catherine whispered.
"I know I hurt you. I took advantage of the fact that you were willing to help by pushing back hard. You were my release. I'm sorry for that. Sorry I can't replay that and do it differently."
"I'm not talking about what you did to me. I'm talking about what you're doing to yourself!" Catherine shouts.
Now I'm confused. I thought she put that distance between us because she couldn't be with someone who could physically attack her.
"Let me take care of myself." I say defensively.
Catherine moves away from my embrace.
"You don't understand what I'm saying. I want to take care of you. I came to that hospital to make sure you were cared for. I wanted that week off so I could be with you. Help you. Be there for you."
"I told you, I don't want pity." I say bitterly.
"I care for you Sara. It would have been me taking care of you because you're ill. It would have been me showing you how much I care for you. We'd be equals."
"Yes Sara. I know you can stop drinking if you had support."
"I don't need that. I can stop. In fact, after I got back from our get together I couldn't drink a drop. I had my hand on the bottle and I couldn't drink it." I say proudly.
"Sara that's not progress. You still went for the drink after drinking quite a bit with Greg and Nick. That you didn't have any doesn't really show that you can stop."
"What do you want from me? I can't give you a miracle." I shout.
"Don't do it because I want you too. Do it for your own reasons." Catherine says softly.
"I didn't want to stop until I got close to you." I admit.
"And I can't be close to you if you're drinking. I tried because I wanted it so much but my heart broke when you drank in front of me. It just reminded me of your personality change when you're drinking. I can't be the woman who takes that abuse because it only happens when her partner is drunk. I had to combat Eddie so many times when he was like that. No more. I deserve better."
She takes a breath and continues.
"That's not the only reason I can't be with you. If you can't see that I want to have a future with you then you're crazy. I just can't stand to see you ruin yourself. It hurts me because I can't help. I feel powerless. The lure to drink far surpasses anything I'd give you."
Great, now I've been compared to that dirty scum, Eddie and been told I'm ruining my life. Kick me while I'm down Catherine.
"Well I'm not Eddie, Catherine."
"You were when you were violent. You scared me."
I don't have anything to say to that. I thought if I bought Catherine flowers and courted her she'd take me back.
I turn away from her so she doesn't see my tears. I've not only let her down but myself. I fooled myself into believing that I was alright. My drinking was my own business. It hadn't hindered me at work and I had no real friends to speak of so I had no one to hurt.
I've been blind and stupid.
I turn back to Catherine but she's gone.
PART TWENTY SEVEN
Could I mess things up anymore than I have? Hang on, best not to ask myself that. I am Miss Destruction after all. Now the aftermath isn't just felt by me and forgotten in the next drink. Now I see it in Catherine. I see it in the future I may have ruined. The future with her.
A month ago I wouldn't have wanted it and now it's all I can think about. It hurts me inside to think I may have lost it forever.
Okay Sidle, this is where you chose a path in life. God I need the drinking but I need Catherine also. I can't have both. I'll be missing out on one of them but it is down to me to decide which one is more important. Which one will comfort me. Which one will allow me to be myself.
Past accounts lean towards the alcohol. Never lecturing, never angry if I stray. Yet there is this incredible woman who has traveled this rocky road the past week. Sure she's been mad yet she came back with open arms. Never fully accepting but there nevertheless. Honest to the hilt; compassionate even when I don't deserve it.
I'm thinking of a number between one and ten. Damn, that game's not terribly helpful with no one around.
Besides, how I can I pick one in a ridiculous game. They both mean too much.
I could flip a coin. Same as the number game really.
I could make a list.
I should use a sporting analogy here but I'm not good with sports.
Okay, I'm getting sidetracked.
My head hurts.
"Sara? You in there?"
Saved by my stalker.
"Yeah Greg, come in."
"Hey there. Got the blood samples back. They don't belong to your vic."
"So the murderer could have left something behind?"
"Possibly." Greg smiles.
"Genetic marker is from the family?" I ask puzzled as I see the results.
"Yep. Test the family, this murderer could be among them." Greg says his smile getting wider.
"Come on." I say smiling at his enthusiasm.
"To see Catherine."
Greg and I are on our way when Grissom stops us. See, I told you he just walks the corridors.
"Greg got the results back. Family member." I say handing him the test.
"I'll tell Brass. Let Catherine know."
"On our way now."
Catherine surprises me by coming up from behind us.
"Let Catherine know what?"
I'm suddenly flustered. The sheet of paper is shaking slightly.
Greg takes it from me thrusting it into Catherine's face.
"Family?" Catherine asks confused.
"Yeah. Maybe Tracy knew her attacker quite well. Would explain no signs of forced entry." I say nodding.
"There was a struggle. Or perhaps the mess was made after the attack. Throw us off a little." Catherine says.
"Well perhaps not leaving blood behind would have helped there." Greg cuts in.
"Thanks Greg." Catherine says.
"Hey, it's my job."
"Don't you think you should be getting back to it," Grissom says.
Greg ran away with his tail between his legs.
"Go easy Gil." Catherine admonished. Only Catherine could say that to Grissom. I'm glad she did though.
Grissom just looks puzzled and walks off to tell Brass about our discovery so I'm left in the hall with Catherine.
We both speak at once.
"You first," I say.
"I was uh, well, Lindsay wanted to invite you over to meet her friends tomorrow."
So I do get an invitation. There is hope after all.
"That's really sweet but I'll have to pass." I say reluctantly. I don't want to be there if Catherine is hesitant to invite me. I don't want her to feel uncomfortable in her own home.
"Oh okay." Catherine sounds disappointed.
"I'm not going on a drinking binge if that's what you're thinking." I say softly.
"It's your business." Catherine says.
I want it to be yours too.
"I'm pulling a double." I say instead.
"I'll tell Linds."
"Hey Catherine?" I say as she's walking off.
"I'll call her though if that's okay."
"Yeah, that's fine. She'll like that."
I walk away first this time so Catherine doesn't see my smile. My plan is working perfectly.
PART TWENTY EIGHT
Catherine came by to bid me farewell before her mad dash out the door. I was hoping to spend more time with her during our shift but Brass called her and I had my own evidence to scourer through. It included a trip back to the crime scene. I just needed to gain a new perspective on the case considering we were running with the assumption that Tracy had known the person who took her life.
I'd like to say it helped but I didn't want to start assuming that there had to be something to find. If you think like that anything is possible.
"I'm off Sara. Everything you need is in my office." Were Catherine's last words before she had to answer her cell phone.
I smiled as she tried to juggle her bag and jacket at the same time. The jacket almost fell to the floor but I managed to grab onto it. I tucked it under her arm and allowed myself a little touch of her upper arm. Completely unnecessary but enjoyable.
I think it was for Catherine also. I saw a small flash of desire that was gone in an instant.
I watched as she left then headed off to the break room. I was in there for a while before I had company
"Hey," Warrick greets me.
"How's the case going?"
"Good. Got a few solid leads."
"We think our case may have a family connection." I say sitting back down at table after my third refill, grabbing the newspaper.
"Yeah? That's rough."
I can imagine the terror she had after realising someone she knew well wasn't coming over for a cup of tea and a chat but instead was coming to end her life. It made me shudder. Thank goodness Warrick was too absorbed in his sports page to notice.
I must have been in the break room for about ten minutes before I remembered phase one in my plan to woo Catherine. Having not yet come to a concrete decision on whether I needed Jack or Cath I was planning on keeping my options open.
I tipped the rest of my coffee out and practically ran back to my office. I was a little excited about this.
Picking up the phone, smiling like a fool I asked directory assistance for a 24 hour florist. I was rewarded with a number which I promptly dialed.
"Smell Fresh Florists, Liz speaking."
I almost laughed aloud at the name.
"Hello. Do you do deliveries?"
"Yes we do ma'am."
"Okay. Do you have yellow roses with a pink outline to it?"
"We have traditional red, purple, pink and yellow yes."
"I'll need a dozen of yellow. Also do you have Oriental Lillies in pink?"
"Yes, we have a large assortment of flowers."
"Good. I'll need the yellow roses to be sent tonight. The Oriental Lillies tomorrow to a different address."
"Your partner is certainly spoilt." Liz says.
"I've never done this before but this woman is worth it."
Liz made no disparaging comment on my slip up. She simply asked for my details and said she was jealous.
"Any messages on these?"
Oh damn, I hadn't thought of a message.
"Ah, I'm not sure."
Great now I seem like the world's biggest fool.
"A simple message will do, the sentiment I'm sure will be in the flowers."
"I like the yellow with the pink tinge because it kind of reminds me of her long strawberry blonde hair," I admit.
Sidle, shut up.
"That's lovely. How about a simple 'thinking of you' or something?"
I'm silent for sometime. I know whatever I think of won't convey the feelings I have. I suddenly just speak from my heart hoping it sounds okay.
"Catherine - Beautiful and unique you draw me to you. Without words; without question. You inspire and challenge me. You yell and beat your fists. Your honestly and comfort warms my soul. I need you near me. Sara."
"That's so beautiful." Liz remarks.
"Are you sure? It sounded pretty bad in my head." I admit blushing.
"No, it's truly lovely."
I take her word for it considering she's probably heard a lot of dedications.
I rattle off the addresses and she takes my VISA details.
"Miss Sidle, what note would you like on the flowers to be sent tomorrow evening?"
Great, now I have to think of something else!
"Just put 'C - I'm not giving you up. S' on that one please."
Liz bids me a good evening and I hang up. My hands are shaking now. I'm not sure if it's alcohol withdrawal or fear of Catherine's reaction.
I think in my last message I made my decision. I need Catherine over alcohol. She gives more than I could ever have hoped for.
Man I've fallen hard for Catherine Willows.
I keep myself busy trying not to look up at the clock every second. I'm successful at times, going five minutes before looking up again. The flowers should have arrived by now and yet I've heard nothing from Catherine.
It's too late to call and speak to Lindsay so I urge myself to focus on the evidence.
There's a little voice in the back of my head urging me to drink and I try to ignore it. I have to do it otherwise I'm of no use to Catherine. She told me to stop for myself and not for her yet in the end I'm quitting because of what I feel for her.
I'm quitting so I can be the best person possible for Catherine and Lindsay.
My life has spun so many different ways I'm no longer really shocked at the outcome. I am a little surprised I'm interested in spending time with a child. Who would have thought!
The phone ringing startles me. I shoot up with a start leaving a lovely pool of drool on my report.
I must have slept a while, I sound like a drag queen.
"Hey Sara!" A chirpy voice greets me.
"Hi there Lindsay. Having a fun time?"
"Yeah, it's totally fun. Michelle was laughing so much last night that her coke came out of her nose. It went everywhere. She had tears in her eyes too. Then today at breakfast Jenny L and Jenny S got into a fight over some boy. He's totally not worth it. Oh and guess what?"
"What?" I smile into the phone at Lindsay's excited storytelling.
"Mom got flowers last night."
"Wow. From who?"
"She didn't say. She was smiling and then she looked like she was crying when she read the note."
Crying. Okay that could be good. Or it could be bad.
"Is she okay Linds?"
"Huh? Oh yeah. She put the flowers in her room."
Her room. Interesting.
"Sara can you hang on? Kim needs a towel for the shower."
"Sure thing Linds. Can I speak to your mom?"
"She's busy Sara. Amy is telling her about her mother's dog. I told Amy to tell her dogs aren't a lot of work like Mom says they are."
I laugh as I hear her drop the phone and yell at Kim.
I try to dab the drool left from my sleep and look at the time. I managed to sleep for sometime. I last remember looking at the clock at 4am. It's now 8.25am.
"Sara? You still there?"
"Can you come over today? You can pick mom up and go to work together."
"I'll see Linds. I'm pretty busy with work."
In all honesty I want to go over but I'm not sure about Catherine.
"Okay Sara. Maybe another time?"
I'm astounded at Lindsay's maturity. I would have sulked but she took it in stride. A credit to her mother.
"Okay, "I've got to go. We've got a day off today and mom said she'd take us shopping."
"That sounds like fun." I say smiling.
"It will be. Bye Sara!" Lindsay yells as she hangs up.
I guess talking to Catherine will have to wait. I should get some work done.
I'm on my way to the car to pick up some breakfast when my cell phone rings. I pick it up and notice a slight trembling in my hand.
"I have no words."
"Did you like them?" I ask nervous.
"Yes." Catherine replies breathlessly.
"Good. Well look Catherine, I have to go but I'll see you at work later today." I say hanging up.
I wanted to stay on the phone all day but I don't want to bombard her. I want to take my time, make her know she's appreciated. That she's wanted.
She's worth that and more.
PART TWENTY NINE
Work wasn't terribly productive as I hit my second straight shift. We were getting nowhere on the blood. Greg was certain it was family but after testing every family member we were coming up blank.
It was beginning to frustrate all of us. Brass was calling in from home yelling for answers and Greg was working extra hard to push all other cases away.
"We need coffee," Greg said after Brass' fourth call.
"You're spot on Saunders." I had replied grinning.
So here we sat. We moved to my office so we could talk about the case.
"I don't understand it." Greg says shaking his head.
"It is pretty weird. The blood matched no one."
"I've checked it twice. No match."
"And we've interviewed the entire list given to us?" I ask unnecessarily.
"Her father gave us a list of uncles, cousins and nephews. Not one match."
"And here we thought DNA would make it easier." I say smiling.
"Could it have been the cat?"
I stare at him, worried he's delirious.
"It is a family member. Don't people say your pets are like family?"
I hit his arm, smiling.
"You get less mature by the hour Saunders."
Greg just smiles and gets up from his chair.
"It got you smiling."
I suppose it did. I've been doing that a lot more recently.
"Get out of here before I tell Grissom of your theory." I joke.
"I'm gone!" Greg says leaving.
But not before making a meow noise as he closes the door.
The shift drags on for what seems an eternity. I'm packing up a few things so I can leave after Catherine gets in and sees her flowers.
Which, as I look at my watch, should be here in half an hour.
"Off soon Sara?" Warrick asks.
"Warrick, hey. You're in early."
"Yeah, something about my case hit me as I was having lunch today. Thought it was better to come in now instead of waiting around at my home."
"Yeah, I get like that." I admit.
"Workaholics." Warrick jokes.
"I blame Grissom. He set that example." I say smiling.
I leave the locker room and pace the halls. I'm very anxious.
I feel pretty funny considering I've gone without a drink for a while. It's like my body is dragging behind me as I walk. I'm becoming quite sluggish and those blasted shakes have returned.
I know what will help but I made a promise to myself to stop drinking. It's not as easy as I thought but I'm finding the important decisions I'm making of late are hard. It feels like the sky is falling in on me and I'm suffocating. Then I think of the time I had with Catherine and I feel like I'm standing on the highest point looking out on what my life could be with a huge smile on my face.
Like I'm seeing the world clearly for the first time. The potential my life could have if I just took a chance to be happy.
It feels great but it also feels bloody scary.
I just hope I won't be there on my own because if I do I know I'll fall once more and this time I won't get out of the darkness that will engulf me.
Baby steps. Catherine once said that to me. That's what I have to do. Just get through this shift. See Catherine briefly. A little flirting wouldn't go astray either.
Sitting at home will be the challenge.
The flowers arrived. They were scanned for possible bombs or something. I'm glad they didn't read the card. I got there as they were holding it up to the light. Very technical. What can they hope to find by doing that? Last time I checked, the lights were run of the mill fluorescents. No x-ray capabilities.
"Sidle, Crime Lab. I'll take those."
"Sorry ma'am, they have to be checked thoroughly."
"Look Officer Elliot, these flowers are mine and I'm taking them. If they blow up I promise I won't come back to haunt you."
"I'm not sure."
He looks like he's debating the ramifications of letting it pass. I try to give him my threatening glare. It seems to work. After all, it's harder to handle the angry person in front of you rather than thinking about what your boss may say if you tell him.
"Okay, but you'll have to sign for it." He finally says.
"Give me a pen." I say grinning.
I'm glad Greg's gone home already. I don't think I could have coped with any questions from him about the flowers. I place them on her desk and step back. I want her to see them as she enters but I want the light's to hit them also.
However, if I open the blinds she'll more than likely see them as she's walking by.
If I close the blinds she'll be forced to turn the light on. That could work.
Okay, so I'll put them on her desk. I'll close the blinds. That's it.
Oh my God, I just gave Catherine's office a sunroof.
"Hey. Catherine. Uh, hi."
"Why are you in my office?"
In my head this scenario was a lot smoother.
"Ah nothing. Well, see you!" I say rushing out.
"Hey Sara!" Catherine calls out to me but I'm now running. I feel ridiculous.
I get into my car after grabbing my stuff from my office in record time. I'm still sitting in the car park when my cell phone rings.
"Are you trying to woo me Sidle?" Catherine's voice purrs.
Catherine laughs softly.
"You've already said hi. When you were in my office leaving those gorgeous flowers."
Oh yeah, I did too.
"You like them?" I say nervously.
"They are truly lovely."
"I'm glad." I say.
"The cards with the flowers were beautiful, Sara. From the heart. Better than any Hallmark sentiment."
"I need you to know you're important to me." I admit softly.
"God how I've wanted to hear you say that." She admits.
My heart is beating so fast I'm afraid it'll burst out of my body and jump into Catherine's lap.
It may ruin her clothes but I'd gladly pay for dry cleaning.
"I know you don't want to pursue a relationship with me but I'm not going to let that decision be forever." I say smiling.
"Cocky aren't you Sidle?" Catherine jokes.
"I've never needed to prove anything more. It's not cockiness, it's a promise to you Catherine."
There is silence but I know she's hasn't hung up because I can hear her breathing.
"I'm still here Sara."
The way she said that makes me think she's telling me she's still interested in a relationship with me. Wishful thinking? Perhaps but I don't care.
"Go get some work done Cath, I'm on my way home. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Okay Sara. Thank you once again. It seems inadequate but it's the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me."
"They were only flowers," I say surprised.
"Trust me Sara, it touched my heart."
Then she hangs up! I thought I was supposed to be the one with the great lines.
Woah, the car is considerably hotter than it was when I got in.
I'm slightly scared to enter into my home. It is after all, the place where I've had many benders. More than I'd care to think about and, if I'm honest, more than I'd actually remember.
I'm not overly confident of repeating the instance of the previous day. I don't want to gloss over this. Catherine is too important to me now.
Damn I hate this honesty thing. I'm not sure if I can be cured of the chronic lying about my drinking in a snap of the fingers.
Baby steps Sidle, baby steps.
I open my door and am assaulted with the smell of my flat. What died in here? Oh yeah, that's right. My soul. My resolve. My compassion. Almost anyway.
How could Catherine had come in this place and not be so completely turned off that she'd turn on her heel and run out of here? I suppose that's another instance where I actually understand that she found me special enough to put up with it.
God that woman is amazing.
I sink into my smelly couch and glare at the bottle until my eyesight is blurry. Part of me wants it but it's being taken over by the part that is disgusted in my previous state and wants to break free of it.
I was motivated to stop last time because I was making mistakes at work. In two separate cases we nearly got laughed out of court. I made amends but I knew people were hesitant to let me work with them. I loved my job more than anything and so after two months of extensive withdrawal sessions I stopped.
This time my reason is Catherine. She's my anchor.
I don't want to take any of those drugs or sit in AA and tell everyone my name and my horror stories. I don't care if they are all there with the same affliction, I'm an intensively private person. I've only ever let Catherine in and while it may have been unintentional it proved to be my saving light in this mess.
I certainly don't need an intervention. Can you imagine? Nick would tell me I work too hard, won't date his friends but he admires my passion for the truth. Warrick would lean over showing flesh from his usual two to three undone buttons. He'd grasp my hand and lower his tone saying something profound. After all, he had an issue with gambling. Grissom would look startled. He'd say he admires my work ethic but from him I'm not sure it would be a compliment. He'd say he was disappointed in himself for missing it. It would become all about him. Greg? I know he can be serious so I know he'd try his best to find something right to say but I swear if he compared me to his buddy who was hooked on dope for a month I'd deck him.
Catherine? I've seen how she'd react. With compassion and anger. With integrity and honesty.
I can't stop thinking about the how bright a light this woman is in my life.
The phone rings and I reach for my cell. Nope, it's the house phone.
"Hello?" I answer cautiously.
"What you doing?"
"Catherine. I thought you may have been Grissom asking me to come in."
"Sorry, I should have called your cell."
"No, it's okay. You can call me on either or both. Hearing from you is lovely either way."
Good, she noticed.
"Hey Sara, I was wondering if you'd like to come over after shift. To talk."
To talk? I can't tell from her tone what kind of talk it will be.
"Sure, it'll be great to see Lindsay." I say smiling.
"Yeah, well it was uh, it was her idea." Catherine says uncertain.
Good, I've got her thinking now.
"What time do you want me over?"
"Lindsay will be at school?" I ask.
"Yes. I have to pick her up later in the day, you're welcome to come over then if that's better."
Catherine seems to be regretting this invitation now. I smile knowing I'm torturing her.
"I'll be at your place around midday. You can show me where you put those flowers."
Catherine's breath hitches.
"Okay Sara. Well I've got to go. I'll see you right?"
"Yes Catherine. Midday. Night."
"Night Sara." Catherine says softly.
I hang up and I feel a tingling sensation run through my body. It's pleasurable but I'm now not sure if accepting her invitation was such a good idea. If I'm to get her back into my life I want to do it at my pace. Talk? I'm not ready for that.
Okay, so I'll have a shower and make something to eat. Then I'll call Catherine and break those plans. I have to.
The shower felt wonderful but I feel dirty as soon as I step out of my bathroom. I have to air out my place. Oh and do some laundry.
I slip into my old flannel pajamas and start to clean my bedroom. I'm afraid to count the empty bottles in here. I've managed to fill one and half garbage bags already. Think of the damage that was doing to my insides.
Physically and mentally.
Even with every possible crevice open to let air in, the smell is unattractive. It is almost like a dense fog as I walk through my place and clean up. The taste for a drink is still with me but I'm disgusted in my own behaviour so I resist.
I'm getting rid of that couch, I don't think the smell will ever leave it.
I stand at my door and look around. It's less cluttered but I've always been tidy. I think I'm feeling a psychological cleansing if anything.
What am I going to do with the several unopened bottles?
"Hey it's me."
"Sara, calling to check up on the case?" Catherine jokes.
"Ah no. I'm calling to cancel our plans."
"Oh." Catherine says disappointed.
"Yeah, I'm cleaning my place and it's taking longer than I thought."
"Oh okay. Well maybe another time then."
"Sure thing Cat. Tell Lindsay I said hello."
"I will. Guess I'll see you at work."
"Yeah Catherine." I say. I wish I didn't have to do this but I'm worried that I'll rush things like last time.
"Bye Sara." Catherine says hanging up.
She hung up before I could say farewell also.
Am I sending out mixed signals? I know I want to take my time so that I can be the Sara Sidle I was before my drinking but I've neglected to think about Catherine and how she'd react to my flowers and flirty ways.
Well she was the one to break us up. She's obviously not that interested in the two of us being together.
I'll show her she's wrong.
I've packed away all the unopened bottles into two boxes that are sitting on my kitchen bench. What do I do with them? They set me back quite a lot of money and I can't really get a refund at the liquor store. I could give them to the guys but how do I explain I have all these bottles?
I could say they were a gift.
I just need to get them out of here. The temptation would be too great.
Sleep, I need sleep.
My hands are shaking and I'm sweating a little. I know its withdrawals; I hate it. Work will be interesting in the next week. Maybe I should have taken that week off.
My head hits the pillow but even though my body is tired I can't sleep. I try shifting positions to lay on my stomach.
No luck. Just pain. God damn it that hurts. Oh yeah, ribs. Ouch.
Left side. Nope.
Right side. Still no joy.
On my back. I feel like I'm in the hospital again.
Great, insomnia. I just know it is. The feeling of being dead tired but not being able to catch a good period of shut eye; this happened last time.
I stretch my arms up and that just brings on a few little spasms in my torso. Sidle did you learn nothing from before? You have sore ribs.
There, that's it. I can ask for a medical leave. A week. That way I'll be over my worse withdrawal symptoms by then. Hopefully.
I may as well get up and see Grissom now.
It feels funny to drive to work. I'm used to the cab ride over. Meaningless conversation and then silence. The throbbing headaches, the nausea. Good times.
I pull up and notice there are a few spaces free. A call out obviously. I wonder who is in.
It didn't occur to me until now that I should have called first.
"Can't stay away?" Greg says grinning when he sees me coming in to the lab.
"Funny. Grissom here?"
"Yeah, he's with Catherine."
Oh. I think I'll wait.
"I'll just go sit in his office, can you let him know I'm here?" I say turning and heading back the way I came.
"Why don't you just go in there with them?" Greg asks puzzled.
Because I don't want to see Catherine otherwise my resolve will crumble.
"Nah, it's okay."
Bugs and spiders; what a great welcoming committee. Hello boys and girls, I'm here to see your Daddy.
How do they mange to breath in those containers without any holes in the lid?
Okay, I have crime books, forensic magazines and a police scanner but these bugs?
"Creepy." I say aloud.
"Yes but some of them fly," Grissom says from behind me.
Oh, humor. Funny.
"I suppose I shouldn't be surprised you're here on your day off." Grissom says sitting down.
"I'm actually just here to talk to you. I would like to take that week off if it is still possible."
"Effective immediately?" He asks.
"Is everything okay Sara?" Grissom asks concerned.
"I just can't do my job properly with this constant pain," I say holding my ribs.
"For you to admit that the pain must be intense." Grissom notes.
You have no idea.
"I've always been honest with you Grissom, no need to stop now." I say.
"Okay Sara, I'll grant it. We'll be sorry to be without you."
"I'm coming back Grissom." I say frowning.
"Yes of course you are." Grissom says.
"Okay so I'll just sign whatever and get some stuff. Thank you Grissom."
"Take care of yourself Sara." Grissom says.
I sign off on the forms and leave Grissom to file it. His face was unreadable in our conversation and he was decidedly odd. Well, odder than usual. He can't know about my drinking. Catherine would say nothing. Brass would say nothing.
Maybe I'm just paranoid.
I'm packing a few belongings into my bag when I hear Catherine walking past my office.
"I'll talk to you later Nick. Yep, okay. Bye."
Oh no, she's spotted me.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm taking the week off." I say, my back still to her.
"That week I was going to take off; I'm taking it now."
"Why?" Catherine asks softly.
"I need some personal time Catherine. I'll be back."
"What about the case?" She asks.
I turn smiling.
"You're a big girl Catherine, you can do it."
It's meant to be a joke but from the look in her eyes she didn't find it funny.
"You're abandoning a case for a holiday?" She says heated.
I try not to rise to the bait knowing it'll turn into a fight very quickly.
"I'll give you all my notes, you won't be lacking anything. Greg can help you."
"What's going on Sara?"
I'm doing it for us Catherine.
"Nothing, my ribs are hurting and I need time to recuperate."
"Is it because of me?" She asks so quite I almost missed it.
She looks up at me and I can see confusion and anger in her eyes.
"Running away won't make things better," she says.
"I'm not running away Catherine. I'm taking a week off. You were the one who suggested it before. Are you only upset that I won't spend it with you?"
Oh, that got to her.
"Are you running because I no longer wanted to spend it with you?" Catherine replies.
"Look, I'd rather our last conversation for a week be a friendly one." I say.
"Okay. Enjoy your week."
Then she simply turns and closes the door after her.
All will be revealed Catherine, I promise you.
I just hope you still want me.
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