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 THIRTY ONE
The drive home is slow. Maybe I'm procrastinating because I know what lies ahead. It'll be a hard week. I wish I could call Catherine and tell her what I'm doing but I don't want her here in sympathy. I want to do this and come to her after it. Let her know I care for her.
Opening the door of my flat I nervously walk over to the couch and grab my phone. I am one number away from dialing the direct line into Catherine's office when I stop. How bad is my resolve when I already want to call her?
Come on Sidle, you have to do this.
I grab a few painkillers and swallow them without water. If this time is anything like the last I'll need them soon.
So the week begins. Firstly all the alcohol needs to be out of my flat. I've got a strong will when I need to but being addicted is like possession. I'm smart enough to know that by tomorrow I'll be tasting Jack once more if they are just sitting in the box on my kitchen bench.
I pick them up and dump them at my door. Calling work and hoping I don't get Catherine I stare down at the box.
It's like all the bottles are small people calling out to me.
"Hey there. Gris told us you're taking a break."
"Yeah. Listen, I should have done it today but forgot. I've got two boxes full of spirits. A friend had them from a party. Do you and the boys want them?"
"Hell yeah Sara. That's great."
"Well look, I'll come back to work and drop them off at reception."
"No, no. I won't have you carrying them." Nick protests.
"I'll be okay Nick," I say smiling.
"I'll come get them from you."
Then he'll know where I live.
"How about if I courier them to your place?"
"Sara, I know you don't like people knowing where you live but I promise to respect that. No unannounced visits." Nick jokes.
Can I take a big step here? Prove it to myself that I'm ready?
"I've got to get groceries, I'll drive past work and you can just wait out front." I compromise. Let's not be too outlandish. Little steps.
"Okay Sara, that's fine."
"See you in twenty." I say hanging up.
I wish I had taken Nick up on his offer. Carrying these boxes is hurting my side. My head is pounding and my shakes have made me drop the keys twice.
Placing a blanket over the boxes just in case I get pulled over, I drive back to work. I see Nick standing near his car.
"Hey Sara, thanks for this."
"Well I'm not going to drink it, may as well go to a few boozehounds." I joke.
I don't get out of the car, afraid Nick will notice my shakes.
"We may have a boys night next day off. Want to come?"
"Last time I checked, I was a girl Nick." I joke.
"Yeah but you're family." He says shrugging.
"Depends, but thanks for the invite."
Nick smiles and locks his car.
"I'd better get back in there. Catherine's on the warpath."
"Why?" I ask.
"Not sure Sara, she's just cranky." Nick says.
I wonder if it's because of our conversation.
"I'm sure she's just frustrated there are no leads on the case." I offer.
"Yeah, maybe. You'd think she'd be happy with those flowers." Nick says smiling.
"Yeah." I say.
"Anyway, catch you in a week." Nick says waving.
Back in my flat I once again resist calling Catherine. Maybe I should have given Nick the phone also. No, that would really raise suspicions.
I sit back down on my couch and wait for the withdrawals to really set in.
"No, no! I won't let you! Get off me you bastard."
Great, another nightmare. When I finally get some sleep it's full of darkness. Full of anger and rage.
I pray for an end of the pain but it's just begun.
My eyes are distracted by the red flashing on my answering machine. I have three missed calls.
The first one is Grissom telling me he hopes I'm taking care of myself. The second is also from Grissom asking me to call him about my medical needs. Like I want him to come over and give me a sponge bath.
Oh, mental image. Yuk.
The third makes me catch my breath. It's from Catherine. I miss her message the first time, my heart beating so loudly it drowns out everything else.
"Sara, Catherine here. Nick told me you dropped off a box full of alcohol. Call me please."
My hand hovers over the phone willing to obey her request immediately.
No, I don't want to explain anything. Talking to her will only cloud my mind.
I lay back on the couch and close my eyes.
Where am I? What is this place?
It's dark outside. It's dark in here other than one light in the furtherest room.
I have to know what it is.
Walking towards it I feel nervous yet curious.
"I didn't want to wake you," comes the voice from the bedroom.
What is she doing here? Why didn't I hear her come in?
"I saw you on the couch, your mouth slightly open. I thought you needed sleep. I was feeling a little tired myself. Hope you don't mind." She says from under my covers.
"Ah, no it's okay."
"Don't be mad Sara, I had to know if you were okay."
"How did you get in?" I ask puzzled.
"Door was unlocked. That's a bit of a habit for you Sara."
"Sorry." I say confused.
"Come over here, you may as well sleep in your own bed." Catherine says pulling the covers for me to slide in.
She looks so beautiful I find it impossible to resist. Climbing in I instantly feel the heat coming from her side of the bed. I want to snuggle up in it and stay there forever.
Funny how as soon as I recognized my attraction for this woman I abandoned many of those walls I worked years on cementing. I want to touch her. I want to be touched by her.
"What are you thinking?" She whispers.
"Nothing." I say.
Catherine moves closer to me and I gravitate to her. She is surprised at first but wraps me up in her warm body.
"Are you sure?" She asks.
"Yes." I say, the solo light in my place generating just enough illumination.
I look up at her smiling face and trace my finger around her lips. She shivers and her pupils go dark.
"I want to kiss you." I whisper.
"Do it," she commands.
I pull myself up and grab her lips. My teeth bite into her bottom lip. She groans and her hands grab my waist. I moan and she takes that opportunity to stick her tongue into my mouth and grab mine hostage.
I move my body to cover hers. My hands are alongside her head, I have her hair in my hands.
"Sara?" Catherine questions my hips thrusting into her torso.
"I want to. I need to." I say, guiding her hands under my top.
At first I'm scared but she is so gentle there is no need to be concerned. She grazes my breasts with her fingertips and I shudder.
"God you feel so soft." Catherine moans as I kiss her neck.
Her hands move to touch my nipples and I shout out as the heat from her hands burns into my own flash.
Suddenly I sit up, a loud shout escaping from my mouth. Looking around I see I'm still on my disgusting couch.
"Catherine?" I call out.
It was a hallucination. I had the television on and my mind just wandered. Another symptom of detox. A cruel harsh symptom.
I'm not going to get through this week.
PART THIRTY TWO
Sleep finally claimed me but it was restless. I no sooner felt myself relax completely and it was taken away from me. I was tempted to get a prescription for sleeping pills but knowing my body's penchant for a drink right now it could easily shift it's attention to a new addiction; prescription pills.
I can be pretty blind to things around me at times but I know my own mind. I know the leap to one addiction to another wouldn't take too long. Something else, something new to calm me.
So I'm stuck with this for now.
My mouth is so dry so I get up to get a drink of water. As I open my fridge I see three beers on the top shelf. I'm almost drooling as I lay my hand on the slender neck. It fits so well, the grip tough yet loving. All I need to do is lift it to my mouth.
I'd forgotten about them. Shit.
I shut the door so fast that the magnets fall off my fridge.
Suddenly I'm hit with a burst of anger. I'm bending down to pick up the magnets and I'm fuming. I want that drink. I need that drink. Who is Catherine to make me stop? It's my life. I was living it just fine because she crept into my soul.
The magnet fly across the other side of my place. Few of them fall safely, the others break up on impact.
I open the fridge again. I can just have one drink.
The half full beer bottle lies on the kitchen floor. I'm sitting next to it crying in defeat.
I think the bottle is half empty. Just like me.
A day and a half; almost two into my promise and it's broken. I'm not strong enough. I'm not good enough.
Run Catherine. Run away from me. I've destroyed my life. I could have destroyed yours had you not stopped our burgeoning relationship.
She was always smarter than I was really. Sure I have the head for science but she can read people. She read me so well it's like she went to the last chapter first.
I push my sorrowful self up and tip out the rest of the beer. The other two bottles I open and pour out. I'm weak and I'm pathetic.
Maybe this is the point like in LA where I move to another state. Get away. Start afresh.
To stay would be too hard.
My heart is heavy.
I feel cold. I'm shivering.
No wonder, I'm laying on my kitchen floor. I've managed to get a few hours sleep. I cried myself to sleep. Great.
I get up and grab the rug from my couch. My answering machine has two messages. Should I listen to them? I know it can only be Grissom or Catherine. I don't want to hear from either of them for different reasons.
I give in and hit the button.
"Sara? It's Catherine again. Listen please call me. I'm worried."
She's worried? Why?
Because she knows you.
Shut up mind.
"Okay Sara, this is me again. I'm sorry for harassing you but please return my calls. I'm sorry for being a bitch in our last conversation. I just....I just. Oh damn it Sara."
What was she trying to say?
I won't fall for her bait though. I won't call her. I can't tell her that I've failed her already.
I have to keep myself occupied. What to do? Eat. I could cook something.
Wait. I have no food in my house.
Good, I can get out of this place and do some shopping.
I jump in the shower and try to look presentable. My hair is wet so I towel dry it and stick a baseball cap on. It'll be knotty when I get home but I don't care. Slipping on an old pair of jeans with paint down the left leg and a navy blue polo I found in the back of my closet with all its buttons missing I grab my keys and cell phone and head out.
I flick on the radio and try to find a station with a song I can tolerate. I'm not having much luck. At least two stations were playing the same song. After a few minutes of that I turn it off and stick in a cd. It's the new Anastacia album, also one of Greg's but I've only have this one a week so I don't feel so bad.
"I used to feel disguised now I leave the mask behind painting pictures that aren't so blue."
Why is every song so spot on about me? Is someone trying to tell me something?
"Tangled in the web with a pain hard to forget..."
Okay, next track. This is a little too close to home.
Maybe a mindless teeny bopper song was a good idea.
"Are you scared of today? Running away. I can see through you."
Alright. Enough. It was like Catherine was singing that line. I have to find another song.
I feel like I'm a country music song. Like I should be driving a Chevrolet with the rain belting against the window. The husky voice saying something about all the songs on the radio remind me of the pain, remind me of you.
Hey, that can be my new job. Songwriter. Throw in a line about a tractor or heartache and I've got a hit.
I eject the cd after trying to find another song and laugh despite myself. The last line I hear is, "and the journey of a lifetime will begin with one step."
Pulling into the car park I make a mental list of the things I need. Which is pretty much everything from shampoo to pasta.
My cell phone rings as I'm grabbing a basket. Without looking at the caller I answer.
"Are you avoiding me?" Catherine accusatory voice echoes in my head.
"Catherine. Hi." I say trying to sound casual.
"Are you?" She asks again.
"No." I say.
"I've called you and asked for you call me back."
"Have you? Sorry. I've been out." I lie.
She doesn't fall for my unconvincing lie.
"I want to know what I've done." She pleads.
"Nothing Catherine. I'm just taking a holiday."
"Is it because I put a stop to us? Are you punishing me?"
"Not everything is about you." I say, immediately regretting the tone.
"You send me flowers, you write the most beautiful words I've ever read and now you shut me out?"
Yep, I was right. I am sending her mixed signals.
"Catherine, I'm sorry. I just need a week off away from work."
"Away from me." She says sadly.
You're always with me.
"Please let me do this Catherine." I beg.
You broke up with me.
"Sara, I just want you to be okay."
"I am okay Catherine."
There is a silence between us that concerns me.
"I have to go Cat, I'm shopping."
She hangs up and I suddenly want to cry. The way she said bye sounded very final. I know I'm pushing her away. I just hope she comes back to me.
An hour later I've got supplies for the rest of the week. The bloke at the liquor store next to the market waved at me as I passed. Yes, he waved. I probably saw him more than his own family did. In fact, I probably kept him in business.
I walk over to my car feeling very hot. I'm sweating quite badly. It started while I was shopping but I just assumed the air con was out. Now I'm walking in the darkness feeling like I'm walking on the sun.
Another wonderful symptom.
I get in the car and turn up my air con. It's fogging up the widows but not too much that I can't drive. My hands are twitching slightly and my head is pounding.
I've got to be careful driving home, I'm not concentrating.
My mind goes blank as I sit at the lights. I've driven this route so many times the car could do it on auto pilot yet for some reason I can't remember how to get home.
I have to pull over. I need to relax.
Calm down Sidle. Think.
It's a right at the end of this street. Yes, that's it.
After ten minutes of sheer terror that I actually lost my mind I managed to get home and into my place. My heart is pounding so fast that I'm worried I'm having an attack of some sort. I peel off my sweat drenched clothes and jump into a luke warm shower. I'm in there for so long I'm like one shriveled up prune when I finally get out.
Grabbing three painkillers I crawl into my bed. I curl up into a ball and rock myself back and forth until I finally manage to close my eyes.
PART THIRTY THREE
Day three and I was hit with a bout of suffocating anxiety. I woke up after yet another small nap and it felt like someone was holding me down. Breathing was next to impossible; I was gasping for air like I'd almost been strangled. The walls began to move in a wobbly formation towards me and the couch. My already compact place was getting smaller.
I stumble to the kitchen trying to focus. Pouring a glass of water I tried swallowing but felt a strange tightness in my throat.
Holding the side of the sink I hang my head and try to calm myself. It was hard but after perhaps about five minutes I felt the world expand slightly. I took deep breaths until I felt like I had it under control.
Well that wasn't pleasant. Looking at the clock I see my five minute statement was off. By about twenty.
Checking my messages, after taking two more painkillers, I see that it is like usual. No one has called. I know Grissom won't call again. He's not much for small talk so unless there was some kind of work emergency I won't hear from him.
Catherine on the other hand, well I did tell her I wanted the week away from work. I didn't answer her directly when she pressed further and asked if it was time away from her. I don't think I'll hear from her but I've learnt not to predict her actions.
There is a part of me that wants her to call me. That same part of me is also constantly hovering over the phone about to call her.
No, it wouldn't be fair. She has a daughter who needs her. She has work commitments. Tracy's family doesn't need my own needs coming before the needs of closure. The need for justice.
I'm on my own with this like many things in my life.
I decided to take a drive to get a change of scenery. I was going a little mad in the house, too many reminders of times I'd come home drunk. Too many reminders of my life and how I came perilously close to sinking too far.
It's funny, and maybe corny, but I'm noticing nature a lot more. The air is crisp and calming. The birds were in full voice. Laughter and joy filled the streets as I drove by. Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah to life.
I pull over to grab some lunch at a small diner. I'm actually smiling as I enter, happy to be out in the world. A little more confident is how I'd describe my mood at the moment.
"Howdy Miss, can I get you a drink before you search our tired old menu?" The waitress comes up to me as I'm sitting.
"Hi. Yeah, a coffee would be great."
"Coffee it is. I'll just be over there, give me a nod when you're ready to order."
I'm caught up in her boisterous mood. I feel somewhat relaxed as I sit back and read through the menu. My stomach isn't ready for anything too adventurous.
The waitress brings over my coffee and I ask for a Caesar salad and water.
"On a diet?" The waitress smiles.
Usually I'd bite back but I simply smile.
"Not really that hungry." I shrug.
"Fair enough! One salad coming up!"
I look out the window and see a family pouring out of the car next to mine. The two adults are holding hands, their three children all chatting animatedly, trying to vie for their attention. It looks like a commercial for healthy living, everyone so fit and happy.
I envy them. I've never been big on a white picket fence and the regular 2.5 bundle of children with a small dog licking my face but they all look so carefree.
It wasn't until Catherine and I became close that I thought about the future. I can see myself making breakfast in her kitchen. Lindsay watching too much television in the morning and Catherine yelling at her to turn it off. We'd all sit down at the table and talk. Sometimes I'd pick Lindsay up from school, sometimes I'd see her school plays. I'd be part of a family.
I want it so badly. I want it with Catherine.
Wow, my life has certainly taken a huge turn the other way. It's a scary thought that I'm semi-comfortable with those images. Okay yeah sure, it is also quite scary but I know I'd relish the opportunity to make them happy.
"Here you go, one salad."
"Thanks." I say smiling.
And with that she was off to serve the family I was previously watching.
I drove around for a while longer after lunch but felt a change in my body and knew that I was in for another rough night so I wisely turned back and headed home. Who knows what's in store for my body and my mind tonight. It's like a lucky dip that you don't want to be a part of but you have no choice but to join.
By the time I park and lock the car my head is pounding and I feel like my veins are pumping outside my body. My head feels heavy, I almost feel lost even though I know I'm near home. I'm sure if I took my blood pressure the needle would break out of its glass enclosure. I'm having trouble keeping up with the fast paced heart rate.
It takes me twenty minutes to get from my car to my front door. I fell once, overcome by a piercing shot of pain to my eyes. I'm just thankful I wasn't driving at the time.
Sleep was impossible that night so I flicked on my scanner and listened to the latest. I knew Catherine would be out on one of the cases. I tried to pick the one I could see her on. Snapping on the gloves, her eyes squinting slightly as she focused. Talking aloud to her partner, her voice changing when she finished her sentence. The long drawl when she said, "so," head tilted slightly and continued to work the evidence.
Crouching on the balls on her feet to reach for something in her kit, her long curly hair falling in her face. Her lips blowing the strands out of the way. Tight pants showing a wonderful figure. Tank top if it got too hot, her breast ample, her neck smooth. Thick straps of the top showing a great neck and chest. Strong and defined.
My tank top usually was cut higher than hers. Our differences in size? Perhaps. Perhaps she was just more confident to show more of her flesh than I. Not that I blame her. If I looked like she did and I had her confidence I'd do it too.
But I'm not that confident. I hate my neck feeling naked. I need a necklace. I hate the small hairs that you can see on my shoulders. I love Catherine's freckles.
Okay, I'm feeling a little hot. I've not felt sexually attracted to someone for a very long time. I've usually found someone's mind to be a turn on. Catherine has that too, it's not just a physical connection by any means. So she happens to be so damn sexy, it's just really a bonus to anyone lucky enough to be with her.
She's so more experienced than I am. Wait, I'm not calling her a slut. I mean in every aspect of social life. She can walk into a party and find someone to talk to. They'd even save her time and come up to her, with her confidence and damn ability to command a room it's easy.
Me? I'm that one who is obscured by the plant in the corner of the room. I'm not confident. I'm not sexy. I have no womanly ways to get people to notice me. I'm lanky, I'm uncomfortable in my skin. For a very long time after my attack I was afraid to be in a crowd. If someone looked at me I would have to leave. I stayed in my house. I only went out for groceries and that was done the same time every time so I knew the general lay out of my journey. I kept my eyes to the pavement. Eye contact scared me.
The sun is coming out and I realise I've spent a long time daydreaming about Catherine.
There's a knock at my door and I'm startled by it.
"Who is it?" I ask from the couch.
"It's Jack from across the hall."
"Oh okay, hang on."
I get up and try to make myself look presentable.
I open the door and see Jack in what can only be described as a nervous state.
"What's wrong?" I ask concerned.
"I could ask you the same question."
Okay, Jack can throw his voice pretty well cause I'm looking at him and he didn't even open his mouth.
"Catherine." I say.
"I'm sorry Miss Sidle, she said it was an emergency." Jack says pleading with me to be okay with the deception.
"It's okay Jack." I say, my eyes only holding anger for Catherine.
He scurries off and I'm face to face with the woman I desperately want to see but shouldn't.
"What do you want?" I ask.
PART THIRTY FOUR
Catherine stands in front of me her eyes soft and beautiful.
"I came to help you."
"Help me what?" I ask casually.
"I know what you're doing." Catherine says her eyes drilling into my soul.
"What was that with my neighbour? It's not even morning yet." I say changing the subject.
"It's seven am Sara. I buzzed and he answered." Catherine says smiling.
"Seven is not the morning for some people." I say losing control of the conversation.
"Fine. I'll apologise. When it's more 'morning' than now." Catherine says jokingly.
I say nothing and I know she can hear the police scanner in the background.
"Ah, can't sleep?"
I feel frustration and irritability creeping up from somewhere in my belly and I know it won't be long before I take it out on this woman in front of me.
"Okay, well thanks for stopping by." I say making a hasty retreat.
Catherine puts her foot in the door with lightning speed. She grimaces slightly when the door connects with her foot.
"I don't need a doorstop." I say. I want to apologise but something is stopping me once again.
Catherine pushes the door open, catching me off balance.
"Close the door Sara, I don't think you want your neighbours to see you turn into the ugly stepsister." Catherine says her back to me.
She throws her bag onto the bench, turns off my scanner and grabs a glass of water.
"No please, come in." I mumble.
Hang on a minute, did she call me the ugly stepsister?
"Ugly stepsister?" I ask aloud.
"Yeah. Your detox. It's not going to be pretty. I'd bet it's getting worse. New symptoms? Worse every night?"
Has she got camera's installed in here? How the hell did she know that?
"I've been there Sara." Catherine answers my silent question.
Woah, back it up.
"I preferred a little white powder but yeah, I've been there."
I have to sit down for this revelation.
"Only a handful of people know." Catherine says smiling weakly.
I pull the rug across my body feeling shivers rack my entire frame.
"I was unhappy. I was feeling this huge sense of hopelessness. Eddie, my knight in rusty armor gave me some low range coke one night. Things seemed pretty good when I was on it so it just seemed natural to get some more. After a time I was just taking them because my body craved it. I'd lost focus on why I first took it. My life was shit even on the drugs. Being a dancer it was okay. No one really cared. As long as you got up there, whored your body to those eager eyes then you had a job."
"Catherine, I ..." I'm silent when I see Catherine has more to say.
"Eddie loved it. He'd give it to me, he'd withhold it from me. That power was intoxicating for him. The drugs were intoxicating for me. After a while he thought because he was supplying for that habit he could do what he wanted with me."
Catherine stops and I want to reach out to her but I'm too stunned by what I hear.
"He'd beat me. He would talk down to me. He was a mean son of a bitch then."
Catherine laughs but it's a hollow sound and it chills me to the bone.
"Then I quit the dancing. I tried to get off the drugs. Sam Braun gave me the name of a clinic. I went there because I used to be strong. I used to stick up for myself. That Catherine was gone and was replaced with a drugged up woman who was beaten by her man."
"It worked?" I ask, my mouth very dry, tears rolling out of my eyes.
"Yeah. It was the most painful experience I ever went through. Nancy came in and yelled at me. Harsh words were spoken. Sam paid for it yet he never visited. Of course I got a letter that wasn't even written by his hand saying he was proud of me. Oh, he signed it but I know his secretary wrote it."
Catherine takes a sip of her water and continues to bare her soul.
"I had that arrogant opinion that I could go in there for a few days and it would be over. I had the shakes, the cold sweats. Insomnia. Pure unadulterated anger would just burst into my belly for no reason. The worst of it? The worst of it was when I was released after my 'successful re-entry into the world' as they penned it. When I had to go back out there and live my life. When I had to take responsibility for how fucked up I'd become."
"What about Eddie?" I ask.
"He got help too can you believe it? Got a steady job and everything. He came by the second last day I was there. It was a remarkable transformation. I loved him, I know it sounds pretty stupid but there was a certain charm to the man. We took it slow, he even respected my wishes to take our sexual relationship slowly. I thought he had become the Eddie I wanted all those years before."
"So you married him?" I say, hoping I keep the disgust out of my voice.
The look in Catherine's eyes tells me I wasn't successful.
"We married and had Lindsay. I started work as a CSI. I had a life. The drug addiction was a thing of the past. Like I was two separate Catherine's."
"It's not that easy to forget the past," I say softly, picking at the blanket.
"No it's not. Especially living in Vegas where strippers and the like are commonplace. Same for you I suppose, with what our job looks at."
I know Catherine added that so it gave me an opening to talk more about my rape but I wasn't ready.
"I'm sorry." I say not too sure what I'm apologizing for.
"For what?" Catherine asks equally as puzzled.
"I've made you remember it all because of this," I say sweeping my hand across my body in explanation.
"You never forget." She says smiling slightly.
I meet her eyes. I see understanding in them.
"Is that why you wanted to help me even when I pushed you away?" I ask.
"No. I told you it wasn't out of pity. I told you I'm drawn to you. I wish you'd believe me." Catherine says sadly.
I wipe the tears from my eyes.
"I'm trying to. I'm used to feeling unimportant."
Catherine comes to sit on the couch but is down the other end.
"Let me stay with you." Catherine says softly.
No. I can't.
"No." I say firmly.
"You can't go through this alone. You could get very sick." Catherine says.
"I've done it before. I know what to do."
"It's never going to be the same each time Sara." Catherine says shaking her head.
That anger I was talking about it starting to escape.
"I appreciate your story but this isn't Diane Sawyer or Oprah. I want you to leave."
Catherine doesn't move.
"I'm asking you, as a friend. Please." I say trying a different tact.
"Oh Sara, can't you see we've moved past the realm of friendship?"
No not now Catherine. I can't cope with this.
"You broke up with me." I say.
"I may have Sara but my emotions can't be easily severed."
The tremors are getting worse and I feel like I'm going to vomit.
"I'm asking you use those emotions you say you have for me and respect my request."
Catherine stands and it's then that I notice she's crying.
"I was stupid to let myself be drawn to you. My heart is breaking here Sara."
Mine broke a while ago.
"You knew when you first got close that I was a mess. I can't take the blame for that." I say harshly.
You're pushing her away. It may be too far this time Sara, she may not come back to you.
"Okay, I know that's not true. You don't believe that." Catherine says shaking her head.
"Cat, you need to go."
"All the things you've said and done to me while you've been under the influence of alcohol; they hurt but I know we can get past it. I know what kind of hold addiction has over you."
"LEAVE ME!" I shout.
I shout so loud that I see her whole body recoil. I've expended all my energy and I lay limply on the couch. I'm burning up yet can't stop shivering. Catherine takes a deep sigh and moves away from the couch. I hear her walking around but I'm not sure where she is in my place.
"Here." She says kneeling next to my face holding out a glass of water.
"No." I say pushing it away.
"Drink it." She says firmly.
I take a few sips out of it and that seems to placate her.
"Come on, up." She commands. Her voice has a hard tone to it but her actions are soft and tender.
I try to sit up but she had to do most of the work. I lean against her quite heavily but she doesn't complain. She simply walks me to my bed.
"I'll be back soon." She promises.
I want to say something but I can't.
Is this what dying feels like? I am shaking so much I'm worried I'll fall out of bed. I can smell alcohol, I can almost taste it. If I just reach out I'll grab some I'll be better.
Catherine returns but I don't know how long she was gone for. She places a wet towel on my forehead.
"God you're so hot Sara."
In different context I would have enjoyed hearing that but her tone is full of worry.
She pulls the blanket off me and I sigh.
"You don't need that you'll only get worse." She says.
But I'm so cold.
She sticks something under my arm. What is it? Oh she's taking my temperature. Average body temperature is 98.6. Amazing that my cognitive skills are still working.
"Sara? We need to get you to a hospital."
Oh no, that can't be good. It must be past 103.
"No hospital." I manage to say.
Catherine sees that I'm not comfortable with the idea.
"Okay, but if it's still this high in an hour or two we're going." She says in a tone that warrants no further discussion.
Poor Lindsay, I bet she hears that voice a lot.
"Drink this. All of it." Catherine says holding out that blasted glass of water again.
I drink most of it but even that is a task and a half.
"All," Catherine says smiling slightly.
I drain the glass and smile at her.
"Good." Catherine nods.
I see she's concerned and I grab her hand.
"It'll pass." I say.
She looks down to our clasped hands.
"Take a bath." She says getting up.
"Sorry?" I say.
"I'll put a bath on. Tepid water. I've done it for Linds when she got a nasty chest infection."
I can't take my clothes off in front of her. I'm not ready for that. She must sense my hesitancy because she climbs onto the bed next to me.
"I'll run it and wait for you out in your lounge room." She says picking up the towel that had fallen from my forehead.
Where did this woman come from?
You have to keep her Sidle.
"Thank you." I say.
Catherine smiles and leaves to run the bath.
I didn't spend too long in the bath, I craved the company of Catherine too much. As I'm getting out, which hurt my ribs, I notice that the fever had dropped. God Lord, can I not keep a symptom for long enough to get used to it? Just as I think I'm coping with one another springs into action.
There is a soft knock on the bathroom door that startles me at first.
"Hey Sara I've made a little breakfast. Nothing too heavy."
"I'll be out in ten." I say, wincing as I press at my sore ribs.
Breakfast was ready when I came out in my pajamas. Catherine smiled and I instantly felt like I was at home. She was home.
"Don't laugh but I made some chicken noodle soup."
"Okay, bought. But I cooked it." Catherine says smiling.
"The good ole cure for everything hey?" I say as I sit on the couch. I can't manage a stool just yet.
"I wasn't sure what your stomach would feel like."
"Thank you Cat, it was very thoughtful." I say sincerely.
I think she blushed. She's so damn sexy.
"About what I told you Sara."
"Not even Grissom knows all about it."
The two of us like to share our deepest secrets with each other it seems.
"Is that why you eluded to, at times, that you understood what I was going through?" I ask.
I want to sweep her up in a hug but she doesn't seem to want that contact as much as I do.
"I wanted to ask that before but wasn't sure if I could." I admit.
"I told you we'd talk." She says staring at my bowl.
"I'm here for you Sara. Always."
'Always' was said so softly I would have missed it if I wasn't paying close attention.
"For the first time in my life I'm feeling like I have a purpose. I'm trying to let it show. The flowers were my botched attempt of wooing you. Letting you know you're important and worth fighting for. You shouldn't have to be here comforting me. You should be cared for. Spoilt."
I almost said loved. Woah.
"I want to be here for you though, that's my own need for you surfacing. As I said, I'm not here to take advantage of you. Even if you hadn't told me about your sexual assault I wouldn't dream of taking that trust from you. I'm here as your friend who just so happens to care a great deal for you. I want you to be happy once more. I want that strong woman back."
"I'm getting there Cat, because of you."
"No, please don't credit me with that. I'm just supporting you. You are the one who decided to do this." Catherine says.
I think I'm finally understanding. If I tell her it's all her doing we won't be on equal footing and she doesn't want that.
I don't know how to ask so I stand and walk in front of her. She looks up to me not understanding until I pull her up and into an embrace. I feel her arms wrap around me. She fits so perfectly.
"Thank you." I whisper.
PART THIRTY FIVE
There is a war inside me and I'm not sure which side is best equipped to handle this situation. I desperately want to keep this woman in my arms but I know it can't be. If I am to do this I need to do it myself. I can't have her mothering me. She doesn't need another daughter to care for.
I think she senses an inner conflict because she wraps her arms around my tighter.
"Ouch." Her hug was just a little too tight.
"Sorry, ribs." She says releasing her grip slightly.
"Catherine I need to say something. Please don't get angry."
She pulls away from me frowning.
Probably not the best way to start it Sidle.
We move to the couch, not touching.
"I know you're here to help me, to be with me. I can't have you staying here."
She tries to say something but I put my hand up.
"Please, let me finish. I want to do this for me. So that I can be a better person, a stronger person. If you're here then I'll have someone to lean on. I won't know if I can do it on my own. I need to know I have that strength. If I don't discover it I know it won't take much to fall back into the bottle."
"But Sara, you could get pretty sick." Catherine says reaching out to hold my hand.
Catherine runs her hand through her hair in frustration. I know she understands that I need to do this but something is holding her back from admitting it.
"Sara, I want you to do this your way because I know that you're essentially a private person. I also know that I want to help you get through it."
"How about we compromise?" I say smiling.
"Yeah. We'll set up a routine of sorts. I need structure as you know."
That brings a tiny laugh from her.
"If I promise to call you at certain times and we meet for a meal after your shift will that be okay?"
"You can call me at anytime." Catherine says running her fingers up my hand and circling my wrist.
"No, I don't want to do that. That would, in essence be the same as you staying here."
"Why are you making it so hard for yourself?" Catherine says sadly.
"It has to be hard otherwise I wouldn't have gained anything from it." I say shrugging my shoulders.
A wave of nausea hits me as I was talking and I almost run to the bathroom. I vomit up bile, water and some of that soup. No insult meant to the chef. My throat is burning as I dry retch for a few minutes. I fall to the floor clutching my ribs, a pain so intense I'm crying.
Catherine appears as I'm cursing my mugger, holding a glass of water and some painkillers.
"Did you get anything for those ribs?" She asks standing at the doorway.
"Yeah, I drank."
Catherine smiles thinly. I sit up very slowly and see she's not sure if she should help me.
"I would appreciate a little help," I admit.
Catherine drops the glass on the basin so fast I'm surprised it didn't break.
"Put your arm around me. Okay, here we go."
Dear God that hurts. I bite the inside of my lip to prevent a scream escaping.
"It's okay Sara, if it hurts let it out." Catherine says softly into my ear.
We move over to the bed and I lay down immediately. Catherine goes back to the bathroom to get the water and the pills as I chew on the second piece of gum in a matter of seconds. I try to prop myself up enough to take the pills. Don't want to add choking to the list.
"Thanks." I say as I take the pills. I see Catherine's face as I leave half the water in the glass. I smile and drink the rest.
"I bet Lindsay hates it when she's sick." I say.
"You mean with a bossy mother?" Catherine jokes.
"Bossy but caring." I add.
Catherine kisses my forehead and brushes my hair back off my face.
"I can't help it, when people I care about are ill I have this natural instinct to nurture them." She shrugs embarrassed.
I take a deep breath to stop myself from crying. My eyes start to droop and I know I have to brush my teeth before I can contemplate sleeping.
"I need my toothbrush," I say tiredly.
Catherine gets up and returns with a small bucket for me to spit into. I brush so much my gums hurt.
"I'll just stay until you get up," Catherine says in a tone that will not take no for an answer.
"I'll only sleep for about half an hour," I admit. "If that."
She smiles, grabbing my hand before taking the bucket and toothbrush from me.
"Sshh then, you get some sleep."
I don't even hear her leave the room.
"Hey." I say, noticing Catherine on my couch.
"Hey. How are you feeling?" She asks, smiling.
"Yeah, like shit." I say, returning her smile weakly.
"So, about these times." Catherine says obviously noticing my discomfort.
"You pick them, you have work and a daughter after all." I say. I'm amazed at this woman. I know she wants to stay longer, perhaps until I've finished my do-it-yourself detox but she still agrees to my request.
We sort out three times during the day for me to call. Once during the day two in the evening. I think she wanted two in the evening because, for some reason, I feel worse then.
"And don't forget our after work get togethers." I say, popping another mint.
"I thought you weren't serious." Catherine says.
"I am. Trust me. It'll do me good to have some company. If it's not good cause you want to spend time with Lindsay ...."
"I'll pick you up after work." Catherine says cutting me off with a smile.
"No, let me drive."
"Sara, you may not be able to drive. You don't know what will hit you and when. I promise to wait in the car park for you and drop you off there."
Great, now she thinks I don't even want her to come to the door.
"I expect my date to walk me to the door thank you," I joke.
The air got very tight after my joke. Catherine looked up at me. I saw desire flicker in her eyes but she looked back down. If she had looked back up she would have seen the desire in my eyes.
"Sara." Catherine growled.
I think she was startled at her own voice because she moved backwards on the couch to further distance herself from me.
"Catherine. Look at me."
She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath.
"I'm sorry." She says as she looks up.
"I'm feeling it too Cat." I whisper.
"I'd better go," she says jumping up.
I push my legs off the couch and force my sore and weary body up. I follow Catherine and see her standing in my kitchen, hands pressed tightly around one of my stools.
"Catherine," I say softly yet still manage to startle her.
"I'll uh, see you tomorrow." She says flustered.
I'm not quick on my feet at present but I still manage to block her path.
"Catherine." I repeat. This time I put my hands on her waist.
Catherine's hands go to her sides and rest on my wrists.
My heart is pacing, my lips are dry.
"Sara, I should go." Catherine says making no attempt to move my hands from her.
I know she should go and yet I lean in closer. Catherine's hands travel up my forearms and grab my elbows, essentially pulling me up against her body. She tilts her head up slightly and I can feel her hot breath on my face.
I decide that I'm going to explode if I don't make contact with her parted lips.
Oh my God, they are so soft. I know, I've kissed them before but this feels different for some reason. I press my lips to hers and her tongue darts out immediately. Her arms are now around me. One is in my hair and the other is on my waist. I am jelly in her arms, my arms are hanging behind her.
Her tongue is doing wondrous things in my mouth. She licks the roof of my mouth and then massages my own tongue. That wakes me up a little. Not that I was asleep; more like hypnotized. I duel with her tongue and she moans. That's all the entrance I need. My tongue enters her mouth and I try to repay the favour. My arms are no longer limp. One is wrapping her around the waist pushing her even closer to my body. The other hand is a little more adventurous creeping into her shirt and running up her back.
I feel her bend into the touch and I break away from our kiss and moan into her neck. Or she did. Maybe we both did.
Who cares, we're kissing.
My hand moves around to her side and I find that ticklish spot from my previous trek under her shirt. Catherine grabs my face and kisses me again. I move my hand away from the ticklish spot. I want to explore the rest of this beautiful skin.
My hand slowly makes it way to her bra strap after I bypass her breasts. I run my finger down it but have trouble due to the shirt. I don't want to rip it so I move back down to her torso.
Catherine is moaning and pushing her hips into my body obviously enjoying my exploration.
I pull away from yet another wondrous kiss but keep my hand under her shirt. I open my eyes and see hers are still closed. She opens them and we stare at each other. I'm sure we're held by some kind of electrical force. My hand moves up to lay on her left breast. I feel lace and a fair bit of flesh.
Catherine's eyes flutter in what I hope is ecstasy as I slip my hand into her bra and release her breast. She pulls away from me and I'm suddenly worried that I've gone too far. She smiles and kisses the hand that was under her shirt. She puts her hand into her shirt and I'm really worried that she thinks we're going to fast. I'm not usually one for being so sexually charged but she does it to me with a simple look.
As I'm analyzing the situation I gasp as Catherine takes her shirt and stands in front of my dressed in slacks and bra.
"You're so, so beautiful," I whisper as I look at the woman in front of me.
Catherine smiles and takes my hand, placing it over her left breast. I can feel her accelerated heart beat and I know she's not alone.
I was bold before but now I've lost it. Seeing this woman in front of me has made me nervous. Catherine kisses me gently and embraces me. I automatically wrap my arms around her. Her flesh is hot to touch. She feels wonderful.
I lean down to kiss her. She opens her mouth willingly.
As if working on their own, my hands move to cover all this flesh on offer. I cup her breasts and decide I want more. Moving to her back I undo her clasp. My hands are shaking so it's not done smoothly.
Catherine breaks away smiling up at me.
"It's okay Sara." She says softly.
I bury my face in her hair and suck on her pulse in her neck. She is now free of her bra and I have her breasts in my hands.
It is the most divine thing I have ever felt. They are soft and heavy and oh so glorious. I run my hands over ever bit of them as I can. I'm greedy for her and need more.
"My God Sara." Catherine moans into my neck.
I kiss her passionately, taking control of the kiss. My fingers are interested in her nipples and I roll them in my fingers. Catherine jumps slightly as I start.
I can't get enough of her. My hands travel down to her pants. They rest on her belt as I duel with Catherine's hot wet tongue.
We break apart for air. My hands are now still and I'm not sure if we should continue.
"I think we should stop." I hear my voice say.
No! I did not say that. I have the most beautiful, sexy, goddamn gorgeous woman baring herself to me and I say we should stop?
"Yeah, I think you're right."
No, don't agree with me.
I can't resist another feel of those beautiful breasts so my hands travel back up to them. Her nipples are rock hard. Her chest is heaving making her breasts rise and fall in slow motion. I make my mind up to taste her flesh. Bending down I capture her right nipple in my mouth for what I intended to be a quick taste. Catherine's hand came up to my head and held me in my place.
Not that I was complaining mind you.
I suck on her nipple and am encouraged by her moan so I continue. Feeling bad for her other breast I did the same. I pull my head away and see two lovely wet patches on her breasts.
"Sorry." I say smiling.
"Honey, I wasn't complaining." Catherine says grabbing my hands in hers.
"I think you need to um, put something on." I say distracted.
Catherine laughs and bends down to put her shirt on. Knowing that there lay two beautiful breasts under that shirt makes me smile.
God how did all that happen?
"I really should go now, I'm not sure how much longer I can control myself." Catherine says kissing my hands still held in her own.
I walk her to the door unsure of what to say after all that. I know I want to say "stay" because my centre is throbbing but I know we shouldn't. Not now anyway.
I've never wanted anyone this much.
"My god I'm going to need a colder than cold shower." Catherine mumbles as she puts her bra in her bag.
"That sound is so damn sexy," Catherine says.
I lean in to give her one last kiss.
"I've never wanted anyone like this," I admit.
"I really need to go Sara." Catherine says her hands resting on my hips.
"I know." I say kissing her cheek.
"You're amazing," she says as I open the door.
With that she's gone. I close my door and lean against it.
A cold shower is not a bad idea at all.
CHAPTER THIRTY SIX.
I'm standing in my bathroom looking at my reflection and I see something quite foreign staring back at me. A smile. A great big smile.
Boy it's been some time since I've been this happy and it's quite ironic given my current state. Sure, I've been happier since I became closer to Catherine but today feels different. Better. Indescribable past that but I know one thing for certain; I like this smile.
I also liked Catherine moaning as I touched and kissed her. Ah, yeah. The smile's getting wider at that memory. I'm kind of cocky now. I made a woman like Catherine feel like putty in my hands. Me, Sara Sidle. The woman who, when it comes to personal relationships, is only a few levels higher than Grissom.
God she felt good.
That woman can kiss too. Woah!
Shower, now. Right now.
After calming down considerably I dress back into my pajamas and get in my bed. I was glad my fever went down, visiting the hospital is not something that fills me with happy thoughts.
I pull out a magazine from my top drawer and prop myself up a little. Sleep is hard to find but just relaxing is good enough for me at the moment. Ripping off the protective plastic I read the cover and dig into the latest advancements made in physics.
The phone wakes me from a sleep that I wasn't expecting. My neck is a little sore from the awkward position I find myself in. Rubbing it and reaching for the phone I glance at the clock. It's seventeen minutes after the time I was scheduled to call Catherine.
"Hey there." I say my voice a little scratchy.
"You were sleeping." Catherine says more as a statement than a question.
"And I just woke you."
"It's okay." I say rubbing my eyes.
"I'm sorry sweetie." Catherine says.
"Sweetie?" I tease.
"You don't like it?" she asks nervously.
I love it.
"It's just different." I say smiling.
"Okay." Catherine says unsure.
"Cat, I'm teasing. I like it."
I hear a very relieved sigh on the other end and I feel a little bad that I teased her.
"I'd call you sexy but I'd much rather be kissing you when I say that." She purrs.
She recovers well. Perhaps I shouldn't feel bad that I teased her because my heart rate just jumped.
"Sara, you there?" She teases.
I have to cough before asking to make sure my voice is still with me.
"Yes I am."
God that sound is amazing. Oh yeah, I'm in deep here.
"Should I go so you can sleep?" She asks concerned.
"No. I'd much rather be talking to you." I admit.
There is silence on the line.
"Sorry, I was just looking out my window at my neighbour."
"Spying on them?" I ask smiling.
"Hey, I'm investigating." She says defensively.
"Did Grissom give you that case?" I joke.
"Oh you're funny Sidle."
"I thought you wanted to speak to me, I'm offended."
"Hey, you're the one who didn't call me on our scheduled time." She replies.
"Sorry, I guess when I'm asleep I lose track of the time." I joke.
"That excuse just cuts it."
"Hey Catherine, how's the case going?"
"I was wondering how long it would take for you to talk about work."
"Is it off limits?" I ask concerned.
"No sweetie, I was teasing. It's a stalemate. Greg has been locked in his lab testing everything we've found. We went back, did another sweep. Still nothing."
Damn it. I know that not all cases are solved with a click of the finger but it always hurts. Take Eddie's case for example.
Oh, I don't want to go there right now.
"What does Grissom say?"
"Stay with it."
"I can come in and help if you like." I offer full well knowing what Catherine will say.
"I'd say yes but it would be an entirely selfish request."
Okay, I wasn't expecting that.
"Why?" I ask.
"Because I like watching you work. The concentration, the passion you apply to your task. It's poetry in motion. I love how your mind works. I can almost see the clogs ticking away when you're leaning over your desk. Or when you're in the break room. You try to look relaxed but I know you are thinking about something pertaining to the case."
"So your neighbour isn't the only one you stare at?" I joke.
"Sara, you are the only one I stare at." She says softly.
"I can't believe I didn't notice it." I say.
"I tried to hide it. I was ashamed at how I was feeling."
"Because I knew what our relationship was like. Strained at the best of times. Not an ideal time to admit that I would like to take you on a date." She admits.
How did this woman manage to warm a heart that was so cold?
"I can't explain it. Maybe it can't be explained because it's just a natural progression. Like it was meant to be." I say blushing at how silly it sounds.
"Perhaps." She says unsure.
"I want to be with you Catherine," I say.
"Sorry Sara, I just sometimes try to figure out why."
"Aren't I the one who overanalyzes things?" I joke.
"I'm scared." She admits.
I want to hug her.
"I'm here Catherine. With my whole heart."
I think she's crying because I hear a small sniffle. I know this will be a conversation we'll have to continue but I'd rather we do that in person.
"So, what's this neighbour done?" I ask changing the subject.
"She's new to the street." Catherine says.
"So you've taken it upon yourself to spy on her?"
"I may need a babysitter for Linds when you and I go out." She jokes.
"Good point. Spy away."
I hang up with Catherine about half an hour later. Our conversation was very light for the remaining time but there was a seriousness hanging over us. I think Catherine also thought some things would be better handled in person because she never went back to talking about our relationship.
My head was pounding but I was afraid to let her know. At least I had managed to get some sleep, something that has been a real problem for me.
I get out of bed and make my way to the kitchen.
Until an intense pain ran through my body and made me collapse to the floor. I wasn't sure where it originated from. Everytime I moved a limb the pain would re-surface. After three unsuccessful and incredibly painful attempts I decide to simply lay there and hope the pain would go away.
I'm not even sure how long this latest attack lasted but it was more intense than all of the other ones put together. The price for sticking with it I suppose. My body is protesting over the treatment it's being given.
I can taste the alcohol. I can feel it. I've not had the craving for a drink since I had that beer. This is a real hunger that is consuming me.
This is a real test of my will.
I remember a few bottles I hid in the bathroom. If I get up I can just have a little, take the edge off this.
I push my tired and weary body up and head into the bathroom. There's a bottle of Jim in my hamper. Why hide them? Well after Catherine came over that first time I was worried she'd come back one day and do a huge spring clean. I put a few away in places you wouldn't think to look.
I'm like a cat rummaging through the dumpster in search of that chicken bone down the bottom of the rubbish pile. Clothes are thrown in every which way. The destination is finally reached.
I sit with my back resting on the bath. Twisting the cap off I put the bottle to my mouth. I can smell the bourbon before it even gets to my mouth and it smells like heaven.
I just need a little.
PART THIRTY SEVEN
The glass shatters along my shower screen. I think I may have even cracked the screen itself. Not too smart Sidle.
I had run my finger along the rim of the bottle, feeling the tiny bit of liquid coating it. I licked my fingers clean and was repulsed by the action but savoring the taste. I didn't want to come through all this only to give in so fast. Yes, the half beer a few days ago was stupid. It was uncontrollable though. I couldn't help it.
So anyway, I picked up the bottle and threw it away in disgust. Disgust at my own failings. Now I've got to clean the blasted mess up without inflicting yet another injury on my sorry body.
God that tiny bit tasted good.
Phone call number two was early. I needed it to be. I needed my anchor and even though it pains me to admit it, I wouldn't be able to get through this without Catherine. Am I at the point where I beg for her to cradle me in her arms and take the cravings away? Not too far away let me tell you.
She sounds busy. I should hang up.
"Hey there." I say smiling into the receiver.
"Oh hey sweetie. Hang on a sec okay?"
I hear her covering the phone and carry on a muffled conversation with whoever was with her.
"Sara? You still there?"
Where else would I be but with you?
"Yeah. Getting rid of your other girlfriend?" I joke.
"Unless Greg constitutes as my other girlfriend then my answer is no" she laughs then adds, "so you saying you're my girlfriend?"
That last line was said with humour but I detected a nervousness to the question.
"I'm saying that I, oh shit, I don't know." Oh yeah Sidle, that was really well handled.
I can hear her laughing softly so I feel a little better. If only my cheeks weren't so red though.
"Have I caught you at a bad time?" I say, coughing to clear my throat.
"No babe, just trying to get a result from evidence that isn't co-operating." Catherine sighs.
I like her little names for me, they seem to flow so naturally from her mouth.
Don't even get started on her mouth Sidle.
"I called early."
"Is everything okay?" She asks concerned.
I want to tell her about the drink but I know she's got enough to worry about at work.
"Just thought I'd make up for my tardiness before," I joke.
"How is everything?"
"You mean with the blinding pain, nausea, cold sweats, paranoia and the sleeplessness?"
I'm trying to make a joke but I can hear Catherine is not impressed.
"Babe, you craving?" She asks.
Damn her crystal ball. I'm telling you, she's got some kind of magical power.
Okay, I can either lie here, and potentially ruin this relationship the second time around or I can open up completely.
"Yeah, it's pretty bad."
Okay, that wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.
"Do you want me to uh, come over?" Her voice is hesitant as she asks.
"Yes, but I don't think you should."
This honesty thing is kind of addictive.
"Catherine, I really want you to come over but I don't want you to have to take care of me."
"Sara, really it's okay."
"I'm going to do this your way sweetie. You want me to come you just call. You want someone to just talk to you when it gets too tough you call. Last time we did this I think I took everything you did to mean a personal failure on my part but your will is your own and all I can do is show that I support that."
"So if I drank again?" I ask nervously.
"I know what this feels like Sara, I believe in you."
Okay, so she didn't answer my question but I hear the confidence in her voice and I feel pretty safe.
"God you're truly amazing." I say aloud.
"You sound like you are surprised by that." She says.
"I am. Not that I didn't think you could be like this but I just didn't think you'd be like this with me."
"I am and will always."
"Okay, you should get back to work." I say smiling.
"Call me whenever you want okay?" Catherine says.
"Okay Cath. Thank you."
"Don't thank me, I'm doing this because I want to start a future with you. I want to show you I'm capable of being the woman for you." Catherine says seriously and I smile slightly considering that's the exact reason I want to do this on my own.
"I've better go," I say, a few tears now falling down my face.
"Take care babe."
Full of determination after my conversation with Catherine I open three of four bottles in my bathroom and pour the liquid out of my life. It was heartbreaking to know I'd spent that money and time on this liquid and now it was washing down the sink.
I think the worse may be leaving.
Maybe I'm naive but I'm not stupid. I know it's not simple and I know I've still got time to go but I'm feeling stronger.
Catherine wanted to save me last time and I wasn't ready. Today, mark this day down. This is the day I took Catherine's strength and faith in me and I used it to help me. Not to hurt me, or her.
Life will go one without the alcohol and it'll be hard but I'm going to have someone to talk with now. When I feel that burning anger and fear build up in my belly as we're faced with another raped or downtrodden woman I know that I can turn to Catherine. Jack may have lived here once but he's moved out.
PART THIRTY EIGHT
It was, well I can only liken it to spiritual, the way I felt as I finally voiced a few home truths to myself. The difference here is that I believe it for myself. I can feel something shifting inside me. I can't really put my finger on it but it's emotional and physical and something more.
Hence the sudden proclamation of some kind of spiritual awakening. I feel like there should be a big bright light and some dramatic violin and cymbal music. Instead there is only the steady pour of the alcohol and the clinking of the bottles falling into the sink.
Okay so it's not all smooth sailing. I loved the taste of the tiny drop before and I'm sure that there will be times I'm tempted. The thing now is to get over those cravings.
Oh hey, that easy?
No, that would be taking a terribly stupid outlook on this and I refuse to do so this time. I'm aware of the temptation. I'm aware of the potential to come home after a hard case and need that solace.
I mean, if I got my relationship on track with Catherine and it stayed that way for years only to have it fall apart, well there would be that back-up of sorts so easily attainable.
But it's up to me to not allow that to happen. It's up to me to get back out into the world. Learn to talk and trust. I'm still not there one hundred percent with Catherine. Perhaps I'll get a counselor. Talk to the department shrink. Let myself know that there is no shame in that.
I need for my outlet to not harm others or myself.
God Sidle, when did you get so darn smart?
I had a small incident a few hours after talking with Catherine. I had a bad sense of dread wash over me. It was like the sky darkened around me. My breathing was erratic, my body went into small tremors and I lost all sense of where I was.
It was very peculiar, I knew I was in my house but I was confused as to how I got there and where things were. It scared the hell out of me. I was glad though, that my first impulse wasn't to call Catherine. It was about the second or third so that's progress right?
I decided, after it subsided that I would tidy my entire house. Now, looking around the place I'm impressed. It looks completely different. My hands smell of antiseptic cleaner but I find that when I clean I can't wear gloves. Wear them too much at work? Maybe.
The bad smell that carried itself through my entire place was vanishing, now all I had to do was to get rid of my couch. Then it would be perfect.
My bedroom was hardly ever slept in so I only had to clear out a few beer cans I found and it was as good as new. The bed sheets were thrown into a Goodwill bag. Yes, before you ask, they were washed again.
I just wanted all new stuff is all.
After the sixth full load of washing was done I heard the phone ringing. I knew who it would be but my hands were so full of wet and heavy clothes that I missed the call. Rewinding the message I wiped my hands on my jeans and picked up the receiver ready to call Catherine back.
"Hey babe, it's me. I hope this means you're sleeping. Anyway, I have news on the case so that should be incentive to call back. Miss hearing your voice."
I heard her laughter beginning to fill my tiny speaker when she mentioned about my 'incentive' and goose bumps rose on my arms in seconds. As if just talking to her wasn't my incentive enough.
"So, about this case," I say laughing.
"Ah ha! I knew you were only after me for my job."
"Ah Cat, we work the same job."
"Oh shoot, you're right," she laughs.
"I was washing, sorry."
"That's okay babe. How are you feeling?"
"I was feeling pretty shitty but it passed."
"No drinking?" She asks nervously.
"No." I say hoping the firmness will indicate my truthfulness.
Catherine sighs softly.
"Hey, great news. We got a break in the case. Turns out Tracy had a brother we weren't told about."
"Black sheep of the family. He was kicked out twelve years ago and apparently everyone forgot about him."
"How can you forget a family member when another one dies and there are no suspects?" I ask amazed.
"This family was very close, Trevor tried to kill his family. Instead of telling the police they just cut all ties with him. I think they tried to erase him and that pain for so long they actually believed that he didn't exist."
"I know about trying to hide the pain." I say softly.
"But it never went away for you sweetie. For this family it's like they had their memories erased."
"They should have called the cops when they found out of his plan." I say angrily.
"That's what Brass told the parents. They are pretty ashamed and are blaming themselves."
"So have you found him?" I ask excited that this case is finally moving forward.
"No. He's hard to find after twelve years of plotting revenge."
"Well that's great anyway Cath." I say smiling.
"Yeah it is. Thought you'd like to know."
This woman, what can I say about her? The fact that she thought to let me know about an open case while I'm supposed to be on a holiday melts my heart. She knows me, knows that I need that connection to work and to see her willing to give it to me is breathtaking.
"Thank you," I say softly.
"So, about our little breakfast date..."
"You and Lindsay are going to be treated to a diner breakfast on me." I say smiling.
Oh, I think she wanted it to just be the two of us.
"You don't want her to come?" I ask.
"It's not that sweetie. I was just a little surprised that you thought to include her."
"She is your daughter Cath, it seems only logical to invite her." I say confused.
"Whenever I've gone to breakfast with a boyfriend or someone looking to be that well they've never asked me to bring my daughter along."
I try not to think about her eating a meal with another man or the connotations the word boyfriend meant. Yes, all that hand holding, kissing and more. No, I don't want to go there.
"I'm not one of your boyfriends," I say a little to defensively.
"Hey sweetie, I know that. For starters you're so incredibly sexier than all of them put together. I just meant that I am pleasantly surprised at the offer."
Oh, she called me sexy. I've just melted on the clean floor. Damn it, I'll need a mop.
"You think I'm sexy?" I ask blushing.
Catherine laughs softly.
"My God Sidle, what I have to do to restrain myself when you are near, it's the greatest lesson in self control I ever had." She says, her tone light. I know she's putting it on a little but it still makes me smile.
I am blushing so much now I'm afraid I'll glow.
"Sara, you are so damn sexy. Your walk, those legs, your voice. Oh dear God your voice. When you talk and certain words; the inflection in your tone rises ... I often just want to kiss you right then and there."
Oh, who turned up the heat?
"Catherine," I say in a voice that is decidedly heavy with arousal.
"I know, I'm sorry." She says laughing.
"No one has ever called me sexy before." I say quietly.
"Well I obviously am the only one with good eyesight then." She jokes.
"I think you're flirting with me Willows," I joke.
"If you only think I am I must be rusty at it," she says laughing.
Oh no, you're doing it right.
"Don't you have work to do?" I tease.
"Not everyone loves their job as much as you Sara. Turns out I have something more important to do."
"What?" I ask.
"Talk to you."
Oh dear. I'm really struggling to wipe this ridiculous smile off my face.
"Oh." Is all I can come up with.
It brings a laugh from Catherine.
"But I should be going, Nick said Brass may have some info soon."
I don't want to hang up.
"Okay." I say almost sulking.
"Oh poor baby. Should I leave work early just to come over and make you feel better?" She teases.
"No, I suppose I'll just wait until you finish." I say.
"I bet you're sexy when you pout." Catherine says as she hangs up.
Damn her and her need to get the last word.
I'm no longer pouting but I'm blushing pretty darn hard.
As I take the now dry batch of clothes out of the dryer I replay my numerous conversations with Catherine. I think of how I feel when I'm with her. Or thinking of her. I really can't see my life without her in it.
Oh dear, I'm in love with this woman.
PART THIRTY NINE
Love? With Catherine? No, this is just a natural reaction to her comfort and my detox. Yes I care for her but to label it as love? Before I really get to know her? This is not some high school love affair.
I bet Catherine was a cheerleader. The skirt, the little sleeveless top.
Sara, focus here. Your libido is not important.
Ha, tell that to my libido.
I simply cannot afford to be falling in love with her. Not when there is still so much of me to fix.
So that's settled then right? I am not in love with Catherine Willows.
I spend far too long getting ready. Making myself look perfect for Catherine. I make sure my usually dead straight hair has a curl to it. It could never rival the perfection that is Catherine's hair and I'd never be naive enough to think I could get close to eclipsing her radiant beauty.
It's funny, I am actually making an effort for the first time in a long time. Legs shaved, body lotion applied, a little perfume. I went through a few shavers though. That's what happens when you don't shave or wax in a while.
I decide not to go too overboard so I slip on a dark blue pair of pants with boots. The top is more difficult. I had quite a few in my selection process but I finally settled on a black cotton button down. It was tight and I actually liked the reflection looking back at me.
I felt a little funny but I knew it would be okay. I had Catherine after all.
Now if I could just find my belt.
And some courage.
Catherine was at my door precisely the time she said she would. I wonder if she waited until the seconds ticked over. I wonder if she's as nervous as I am.
Opening the door I almost gasp at the woman in front of me. Catherine is wearing white pants and a black sleeveless top. The v-neck showed off areas I'd touched and kissed not too long ago. In fact there was a faint mark just below her collarbone.
"Hey there." She says calmly.
I smile, my voice non-operational.
"Can I come in?" She jokes, throwing her white jacket on my couch.
Now, not many people can pull of white pants but as I stand in this room and see her heading to my fridge to get a drink I can safely say Catherine Willows is certainly one of those very few who can.
"I love your hair," Catherine says coming over to play with a few strands on my shoulder.
I'd be so immersed in Catherine's pants that I didn't notice she was so close.
"Thanks," I say blushing.
I take the glass in her hand and place it on a coaster on my table.
"You look great," I say smiling.
"Great? Is that all?" She teases.
Oh no, there is more but I have no words.
Which is why I kiss her instead.
Her arms wrap around my waist and I pull her closer. I suck her tongue into my mouth and smile when she moans and leans into me.
We break away when her phone vibrates on her belt.
"Go away," she mumbles as she kisses my neck.
I unclip her phone and reluctantly push her away.
She smiles, her hand resting on my hip.
She sounds cute when she's frustrated.
"Okay, thanks Jim."
"That was Brass."
I kiss her forehead.
"You have to go back in?"
Catherine smiles and runs her hand through my hair.
"No way babe, I'm having breakfast with my two girls."
I can't help but smile like a fool.
"Two? Are you cheating on me?" I joke, my hands running up and down her back.
"I could never do that. You are looking like you'll be all I need and more." Catherine says.
I've never been short of language but when I'm around Catherine all those big words I know, all the descriptive dialogue is lost when I look into her eyes.
She cups my face smiling.
"What are you thinking?"
I am in love with you. No, no Sidle. Remember, you are not in love with her.
"I'm just happy." I say.
She seems to think this is an acceptable answer because I feel her arms tighten around me.
"Where is Lindsay?" I ask.
"She's in the car."
"Don't worry, I cracked a window."
I smile at her obvious teasing of a case so long ago I'd almost forgotten it.
"Oh you're funny Willows."
"Honey, you are. That deadpan humour is so hard to read at times but I love it."
"I was a little upset by everyone's reaction to it though." I admit.
"Oh sweetheart, you by your own admission weren't good with children. I've seen parents at Linds school do worse."
"I remember when I used to drop Linds off at day care. Some parent wanted to know if they had a television because it was the only thing the child played with."
"Played with?" I ask confused. "Did s/he pull it apart or something?"
That gets a smile from her.
"Not everyone is like you babe, needing to pulling things apart and putting it back together."
"So why'd this parent ask?"
"Turns out she'd leave her three and eleven year olds at home in front of the television as a electronic babysitter."
"Yeah. Not helping the children's developmental skill or their ability to adapt to social settings."
"Not to mention that mother, what was she thinking?"
"Yeah. Kind of scary that children's services came after me when a woman like that wasn't getting hassled."
Not to mention the cases we get where the outcome of bad parenting is so much worse.
"I guess you got a lot of weird parents." I say enjoying the feel of her in my arms.
"Yeah. I have quite a few stories. Like the time two staff member of the day care were dating. One was married."
"Yeah, it was the worst kept secret but the spouse was oblivious. I dropped Linds off early one day with her show and tell project and went to sign her in. They were having a little show and tell of their own."
"You mean they were having sex in the centre?" I ask amazed.
"Yep." She says smiling.
"So what happened?"
"Both were fired."
"That is highly unprofessional." I say shaking my head.
"Especially in a child centred atmosphere."
Catherine's hands ran up my arm leaving a trail of goose bumps in its wake.
"I have to admit though Sara, I've thought of us in compromising positions at work." She says in a husky voice.
Oh my God, my heart ... is it still beating?
"You have?" I say, having to clear my throat.
"Yes." She says, her hands playing with my belt.
"The two of us?"
Catherine smiles and pulls my shirt out of my pants and lays her hands on the small of my back.
"Yes Sara," she says smiling.
Her hands feel like two hot pads as they burn their way into my body.
"Where?" I whisper before capturing her lips in a searing kiss.
Her hands move up further as my tongue fights with hers. My heart is racing yet I hold no fear of where she is going. My hands cup her backside and she moans into my mouth, her tongue losing the fight.
Laying claim to her mouth I moan myself when Catherine slowly moves her hands to my breasts.
She breaks away and I look at her in shock.
"I don't want to ah, go too far."
My hands leave her backside and lay on either side of her face.
"I want you Catherine. This is new but I'm not fighting it."
"I want it to be special. Not rushed and not while you're detoxing."
"I'll still want you after this." I say firmly.
Catherine removes her hands from my shirt and I suddenly feel cold.
"Good cause I will always want you." She says kissing my cheek.
My insides are on fire. How will I cope when we go that step further?
"Come on babe, we should get Linds." Catherine says putting her jacket on and holding out her hand.
I tuck my shirt back in and clasp her hand.
Before we leave the house Catherine leans into me and I think we're about to kiss again. She surprises me when her hand lays over my left breast.
"I want to be in there." She says softly, turning away as soon as she says it.
Oh Catherine, you are. You are.
The drive to Catherine's place is littered with gaps of silence and while I usually thrive on that kind of thing I'm a little concerned that out of the two of us, I'm doing the bulk of the talking.
"You okay?" I ask, not sure if it is okay to reach out and physically touch her.
Catherine pats my thigh for a second and nods.
I have a feeling, from her tone and constant shifting in her seat that something is definitely not fine.
"You just seem a little at odds with something." I admit.
We pull up to a stop sign and Catherine turns to me.
"I'm fine Sara, honest."
She smiles but it doesn't really light up her face.
I know I shouldn't press it but I do.
"Tell me," I say softly, my hand laying on hers.
I feel pretty bad when she moves away from that contact. Funny how I would have been the one to do that before but now I'm initiating the touch. Now I know how bad she felt when I shied away from it.
"Have I done something?" I ask trying to rack my brain for any possible clues to her shift in demeanor since she last had her hands inside my shirt to now.
This gets her attention and she reaches out blindly for my hand. I grasp hers willingly.
"No babe, just me being silly."
I'm puzzled but I sense that's all I'm going to get from her.
I am glad when she leaves her hand in mine.
"Mommy!" Lindsay yells from the couch. Catherine parks the car and kisses my hand before we opened the door. I smile at her gesture and wanted nothing more than to wrap her body around mine. I knew we couldn't but how I ached for it.
"Hey, I brought a surprise." Catherine says as she drops a kiss onto Lindsay's forehead.
"Is it a puppy?" Lindsay asks hopefully.
"I'm house trained," I say smiling as Lindsay rips her eyes away from the television to peer over the couch.
"Sara! Hey Mom, Sara's here!"
Catherine just smiles as Lindsay crushes my legs in a fierce hug.
"Hey there." I say slightly embarrassed at her display of affection.
"Linds, let Sara sit down." Catherine warns gently.
"Are you staying today Sara? Can you come pick me up from school? Can I show you my classroom?"
"Woah honey, Sara's just here for breakfast." Catherine says mouthing 'sorry' to me as I'm bombarded with questions.
"I'd love to see your classroom Linds. We should make that a definite thing in a few weeks." I say.
I certainly don't want to explain why I can't do it this week but Lindsay just, like before, takes it in stride and just nods.
Catherine watches our interaction with interest. I can see her smile as I look up quickly. She looks so beautiful in her white suit leaning against the couch her arms crossed.
Of course she'd look beautiful wearing anything and doing anything.
"So Linds, are you ready for a big breakfast?" I ask smiling at Nancy. I didn't even notice her sitting on a stool in the kitchen until then.
Catherine has moved over to the fridge and kisses her sister on the cheek. Her sister says something to her that makes her laugh. I must remember to ask Catherine what it was but at the moment I'm occupied with a hyperactive girl who is trying to tell me the value of cartoon watching so early in the morning.
"Linds, hurry sweetheart otherwise we'll be late for school." Catherine says her eyes locked with mine.
Lindsay is ready in a matter of seconds and stands at the door tapping her foot impatiently.
We take the subtle clue and head out, Nancy leaving before me. She smiles at me and kisses Lindsay farewell.
Catherine wraps her arm around my waist and leans into me for a moment.
"About what I said before. About wanting to be in your heart." She says looking anywhere but at me.
Ah, so that's why she was quite in the car.
"I thought it was beautiful." I say softly.
"I'm sorry for saying it."
I try to make her look at me but it's a task full of difficulties.
"Why? Because of what I'm going through now? I told you, I like your honesty." I say wanting to kiss her but not sure of our boundaries in front of her daughter.
"Be that as it may Sara, it wasn't appropriate for me to say that. Especially when I had just out a stop to what we were doing because it was too much for you while detoxing."
She sounds really angry with herself and I want to correct it.
"Look at me Cath. Please."
She takes a moment but ends up looking into my eyes. I see a few tears on the verge of falling and know that what I say next could be a very important step in our relationship.
"Catherine Willows, you don't need to try to get into my heart. You managed to chisel down those barriers. Day by day they crumble away leaving me to feel confused, but happy. You took what I had become and helped me get back from it. You don't need to tell me you want to be in my heart Catherine because you already are."
Catherine runs her hand down my cheek, her tears falling. I wipe them away and smile at her. I know we look really silly, huge smiles on our faces, tears mixed in there also. I don't care though. I want this woman and I'm going to tell her what I'm thinking no matter how sappy it sounds as it comes out of my mouth. My heart has opened for her, it seems only fair that I do its talking.
"God there is so much to you Sara that I always longed to discover. Thank you." She kisses me softly but we're interrupted by the car horn blaring at us. When I look up I see Lindsay holding her hands up as if to say 'are you finished cause I'm hungry.'
"Let's go," I say smiling.
I feel this kind of barrier close around us after that declaration. Like we had finally cemented ourselves into this relationship. I knew that we would hit some bumps along the way but as I jumped in the car and saw Lindsay smiling at me I knew that while I'd always hate the alcohol it did do one thing right; it brought Catherine and I together in a manner of speaking.
"Are you two dating?" Lindsay asks as Catherine turns on the radio.
I look at Catherine whose facial expression is a cross between shock and pure happiness.
"I'd like to take you and your mother out for fun things and maybe see both of you more often if that's going to be okay with you," I say to Lindsay. I'm surprised at how calm I am as I say it.
"You're cool Sara, and mom likes you." Lindsay says.
I look over to Catherine hoping she can decipher Lindsay's last statement.
Catherine is simply driving the car as if nothing is happening around her and I'm worried I spoke up at the wrong time.
"So are you and mom, like, lesbians?"
Okay, now that question is too much for me.
Catherine let out a gasp at Lindsay's question.
"Honey, can we talk about this later?" Catherine says, her face completely white.
"Sure mom." Lindsay says shrugging but not before finally adding, "will Sara sleep in your bed tonight mom?"
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