DISCLAIMER: Sara Sidle and Sofia Curtis are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS and their parent company.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Shadow Boxing
By amluv


It had been a particularly difficult case for us. The ones that involved children are never easy, but this one was particularly gruesome. It was all I could do to rid herself of the image of what was left of little Jared Hanson. Poor little Jared's body was just...ripped to pieces. How could anyone do something like that, especially to their own kid? And the blood, dear god all that blood... everywhere. The sight of it, the smell of it...everywhere. Just thinking about it makes the bile churn back up, begging to be released. It's days like this that I really hate the job.

As hard as it is for us cops, it's probably exponentially harder for the Crime Scene Investigators. They are the ones who have to gather all the evidence, which means that they have to comb every inch of a crime scene. They are the ones who have to wade through the remains of human savagery. I suppose that's one of the reasons why I left it behind. There's a sense of helplessness that comes when you're a CSI because there is but so much you can do on that side of law enforcement. As a cop, I get to hunt down criminals instead of hunting down the pieces that they leave behind .

Nick Stokes and Sara Sidle were the CSIs who worked the Hanson case. They are two of the stars in the crime lab and thanks to them, we where able to bring Jared's killer to justice. When I gave the news about Nathan Hanson's arrest and thanked them for a job well done, it did little to assuage their anguish. The looks on their faces pretty much said it all, but like I said, this was a tough one. Nick gave me a pat on the back and thanked me, while Sara grunted something inaudible and got up from the break room couch and walked out. Nick just shook his head knowingly and told me not to take it personally, it was just Sara's way. "She just needs some time is all," he told me. But something else told me that time wasn't the only thing she needed, so here I am, waiting for her to acknowledge my presence in the locker-room.

I don't know when it happened, but my feelings toward Sara transformed from professional to something far more personal. I mean of course I'd noticed how beautiful she is from the first moment we met, but her reticence and hostile attitude left something to be desired, as it were. But as I got to know her and watch her work, I came to respect her a great deal. And soon those feelings of respect turned into admiration, especially after witnessing the way she stood up to Ecklie. Though it wasn't the smartest of moves, it showed that she is someone who didn't back down from much of anything. Based on all of these things, I suppose I shouldn't be so surprised that my feelings for her are as strong as the are.

"How long are you just going to stand there?" She finally says.

"I don't know. I guess that depends on you."

"Why are you here Sofia?" Sara sighs.

"Call me crazy, but I thought maybe you could use an ear or a shoulder."

"I'm okay, besides, I'm sure you've got more important to things do."

If I were smart, I would just turn around and walk away. The thing is, I am smart and yet I can't seem to bring myself to do so. I think somehow, even the most intelligent of us are incapable of defying what our heart dictates.

"I suppose, but I'm already here, may as well make the best of it."

"I don't need a therapy session."

"That's good, because I'm not a certified mental healthcare professional. I am, however, someone who knows what you're going through right now."

She rolls her eyes at me. "You don't have a clue Sofia, so just stop. I told you I'm fine, so can you please just leave me alone."

Yeah. A smarter person would have definitely left by now.

"I was there Sara, I saw..."

"What would you know about it, huh? I mean what could you possibly know?" She cut me off suddenly. It was more of an accusation than a question. I don't want to keep fighting her, but I continue to tell myself that if I do manage to break through the walls that Sara has erected around herself that it will all be worth it, but now I'm not so sure.

"Apparently not as much as you do Sara. God forbid anyone know the kind of pain that you wear like a fucking albatross around your neck!" I feel my own anger rise up.

"Fuck you!" Sara spat out as she made her way to the locker room door, but I catch her by the arm before she could make her egress.

"Oh no you don't. I've waited far too long for this moment and you're not going anywhere until I've had my say." There is a harshness in my voice that I didn't intend but I need to convey the importance of this moment to her. I can feel my whole body trembling, she has pushed me as far as I can go and it's time that I deal with all the frustration that surrounds our relationship. I slowly release the grip I have on flesh that bruises far too easily, which is evident from the small purplish marks on the upper part of her arm.

A gasp escapes my lips the moment I see the contusions.

"Jesus...Sara, I'm so sorry. I...I didn't me..." I immediately try to apologize, but Sara cuts me off again, "It's...fine..." Her words fade as she absently rubs the angry marks on her skin, her eyes became very cloudy, perhaps with the memories of Jared, or perhaps those of a time long ago. I'm not sure which, or maybe both. I watch Sara retreat back inside herself and the pieces slowly begin to fit. The answer was there all along but I was too blinded by my own baggage to see it. How could I have missed it? How could I not see why Sara reacted to these cases the way that she did? Of course I know the answer to that. I got too caught up in the game that we play. I got too caught up in the push and pull of our relationship. The chase. If I were totally honest with myself, I would admit that I just simply got too caught up in Sara Sidle.

The sight of her sitting there on the worn, wooden bench, took the piss and vinegar of mere moments ago out of me. The bow of her head and the slump of her lanky frame made her seem smaller somehow, almost child like.

The muscles in her arms made distinct by the knuckle white, tight grip that she has at either side of her denim covered legs. Everything you needed to know about her could be seen in that very moment. Sara Sidle is a walking dichotomy, strong yet at the same time, so very fragile, begging the question, how could someone be both? There is a profound beauty to her sadness that breaks my heart and despite myself...I am very much in love with her.

As I lean against the cold metal surface of the lockers, I continue to watch her. I don't know what to say. No, that's not true. I know what to say, but I no longer have the right to say it. My transgression is too severe and now I just feel shame. How did it end up like this?

"Sara, you've been hurt enough already, and the last thing I want is to add even more pain." I finally say. Moments pass and the room falls back in to another prolonged silence that I find too hard to bear. I decide to cut my losses and head home and sleep this shitty day off and I turn to leave, that is the moment Sara chooses to say something. "Why?" She asks. God, I hate that question. "I think that's pretty obvious Sara."

"No. I mean why do you care if I've been hurt before?" There is something in her voice that sounds like a cross between curiosity, caution, and something else I can't quite pin down. Now I realize that we have what can best be described as a tenuous friendship, so in a way her wary curiosity is understandable, but the other thing...surprise, that's it...surprise, how could she find the fact that I care about her surprising? To be honest, it hurts that she thinks that I think so little of her, that she's surprised that I do.

I just stare at her. I feel a bit discombobulated and again, I'm at a loss for words. I see rich, brown eyes staring back at me with so much intensity. There's so much going on in there and I find myself falling further and further...

"I thought that would have been pretty obvious as well but I guess..." I suddenly stop talking and the next thing I know, my lips are pressing against lips, soft lips, Sara's lips. Sara's lips taste of caffeine and nicotine, with hint of a mint. And now the combination is my all time favorite flavor. I want to taste more but something is happening. I'm...on the floor?

"Did you hear what I just said?"

She's yelling at me? What the hell just happened?

"What the hell is wrong with you Sofia?"

Shit. I kissed her didn't I? Damn.

I try to gather my thoughts as I pick myself up off the floor. I can't believe I just did that. I've made a total ass of myself and for what? I see the look in her eyes, she's mortified. I guess this is just the perfect ending to what has to have been quite possibly the worst week of my life and considering the crap I've been through over the years, that says a hell of a lot.

"I.." What can I possibly say right now? Actually, there's nothing to say. She is clearly repulsed by me and right now, I can't say that I really blame her.

"I'm sorry I shouldn't have done that, but I just can't do this anymore Sara...and...You know what, I'm just gonna go. Yeah, I think it'll be best if I just go, so I'm gonna go."

I hear the click of the door jamb behind me and blankly walk out to the lot. It's funny, I could have sworn I heard Sara calling my name but I think that's just another trick my mind is playing on me like the one it told me that Sara had feelings for me. How could I have been so wrong about that?

The sound of the door bell ringing startles me. I never have visitors this late, so I can only assume that I'm about to get bad news. The incessant ringing made me regret the bottle and a half of wine that I had consumed earlier this evening, that much more. I'm definitely in for one hell of a hangover later on. But then again, there's nothing that will sober you up quicker than the anticipation of bad news.

I finally make my way to the door and peer through the peephole, but I have to take a double take because I sure as hell can't be seeing what I think I'm seeing. I slowly open the door as if I half expect not to find anyone on the other side if I just flung it wide open.



"It's 3 A.M."

"You look like hell Curtis." God I love that gapped tooth grin.

Though, I must have been a sight to see in my rumpled up, unfastened, white, button down top and black lace underwear. If my mind wasn't so muddled right now, I might have been able to figure out what was really behind that grin.

"It's 3 A.M. Sara and I'm pretty sure I'm still kind of drunk."

She's not grinning anymore. "Look Sofia, I..." I cut her off before she can finish her sentence.

"It's 3 A.M. Sara and I'm pretty sure I'm still kind of drunk and I just can't do this right now, especially like this. It's been a very long week as I'm sure you're well aware and today...yesterday just capped it. All I really want to do right now is to recapture the lovely bit of unconscious bliss I was able to attain when I passed out on the sofa. Now if you don't mind..." I make a gesture for her to leave. There's hurt in her eyes or is it anger, I can't really tell. My head is throbbing and it's taking everything in me just to concentrate. I can't handle being around Sara the way I am right now, either. Too much has happened already and I doubt any good can come of any discussion that we have right now.

"Fine. I just...you know what, forget it. I'll see you around." She let out a deep sigh and just turns around walks away. As I watch her get into her SUV, I immediately regret pushing her away.

It has been a couple of weeks since Sara showed up at my front door, nor have our paths crossed on any cases. I had a lot to think about during that time and came to the realization that we needed to clear the air between us. As soon as I found out that Sara had taken today off, I finished my shift early and decided to pay the prickly investigator a visit. It was time for me to bite the bullet and apologize for the way I left things the last time we were together and that's why I'm standing here now.

I finally gather up the courage to knock on her door. I rap my knuckles against it. I half expect her not to answer, but a half a beat later and the door swings open and a very miffed Sara is staring at me.

"What do you want?"

Brief and to the point. I wonder if she knows how much that turns me on. I wonder if she knows how much she turns me on, especially when she's particularly huffy and curt. Some people find those qualities off putting, with Sara, it's a way of saying, 'I daring you.'

"I thought that maybe we could...talk. Look I'm really sorry about that scene at my place. To say it wasn't one of my better moments is an understatement. I just thought..." I trail off, suddenly feeling very self-conscious.

"What's that?" She jerks her head toward the items I'm carrying.

"Uuh, a peace offering in the form of a large vegetarian pizza and a six pack of iced cold, imported beer. May I come in?" I ask.

I can see the hesitation in her eyes. I wouldn't blame her if she told me to go to hell. That's pretty much what I did that the last time we were face to face.

She lets out a deep sigh and steps aside and directs me inside her apartment. I can't help the little smile that forms on my lips as I walk past her. The victory is a small one, but it's a victory nonetheless.

"How did you know I was here?" I hear her inquire after she closes the door. I set the pizza and beer down on the coffee table and shrug off my sweater and toss it on the back of the couch.

"Greg told me. Napkins?"

"I'll get them. Greg needs to learn how to keep his big mouth shut." She says looking over her shoulder, my eyes trailing her as she walks toward the kitchen. It quickly dawns on me how relaxed she looked at the door, in a snug pair of faded blue jeans and black tank top. She is slightly tanned too. From time spent in the Vegas sun no doubt.

"He didn't tell me anything I couldn't have found out from anyone else." I tell her as I take the beers out from the bag they're in.

She walks back into the living room from the kitchen with 2 plates and several white napkins in hand. "That's right, you're a detective. Sorry, sometimes I forget." She snarks, handing me a plate.

"Anyone ever tell you that you have all the subtly of a bulldozer?" I quip back, twisting off a beer cap, not missing a beat.

"I've never really had much use for it, I guess."

"That's funny." I reply.

"It is?" She gives me a bemused look and I find myself falling deeper.

How did this happen? How did I let myself fall in love with one of the most emotionally stunted people I've ever met? And yet, here I am.

"Hysterically so." I tell her and quickly take a sip of beer before I say something incredibly stupid.

We eat and drink in silence for the most part. It's nice. I really can't think of a time when we've done anything like this before and the realization of that saddens me. A harsh reality descends upon me in that realization.

"Did you hear what I said, Sofia?"

The sound of her voice brings me out of my ruminations. "Sorry, what?"

"It doesn't really matter. Where did you go just now?"

"I was thinking how this is probably the first time we've ever shared a meal, just the two of us that is."

"Oh. I guess you're right. " She shrugs and polishes off what's left in her beer bottle.

"You don't like me very much do you." I quietly ask her.

"What gives you that impression."

It's just like Sara to answer a question with a question. And to my growing chagrin, I find that too to be yet another endearing quality about her.

"I don't know. Call it a hunch." I try to sound casual and nonplussed about the conversation, but deep down I'm afraid of what she'll say.

"Sometimes that's all a hunch is...just a hunch. Look Sofia, it's not that I dislike you. Truthfully, the reason I tend to shy away from you is because... " She stops mid sentence, eyes cast down and I find myself sitting on the edge of my seat, holding my breath, waiting in anticipation for her to finish what she was about to say. A few moments pass and she finally looks back up at me.

"I feel incredibly exposed when I'm around you Sofia. I don't know why, but I do. That just isn't something that I'm use to and it makes me feel uncomfortable. And the only way I know how to handle it is by completely avoiding it, which means to a certain extent, avoiding you too."

I am completely taken aback by her disclosure, and it leaves me speechless.

"You kissed me." She simply states out of the blue, her brows firmly knitted together.

I wasn't quite ready for that either.

"Yeah I did. And you pushed me away."

"Because I don't want or need your pity." There's an angry edge to her voice that baffles me. She speaks as if she's the injured party even though I was the one who was rejected. And the more I think about her display of indignation, the more I feel my own bubbling to the surface. I feel my body propel itself upward and I start pacing and muttering inaudibly and she's watching me with this frantic look in her eyes and that brings me to a complete halt. I grip the back of the couch to steady myself and look her right in the eye.

"You are unbelievable, you know that. Pity? You think I kissed you out of pity? I know...I am not the type to wear her heart on her sleeve Sara, but I seriously doubt that my actions could be construed as anything other than what they were, for christ's sake. And for you to even suggest such a thing is both insulting and...hurtful."

"I have feelings for you Sara. I have very strong feelings for you to be exact. And they are real."

My voice is full of emotion and it isn't until the room is in complete silence that I realize what I just confessed. My grip on the couch loosens and my hands seem to withdraw from the fabric of their own accord until the feel of calloused flesh clasp them, and fingers become entwined followed by a gentle squeeze.

There are tears in her eyes as she bites her bottom lip. My eyes train themselves on that lip, left swollen and bruised upon its release. She pulls me closer and I lean down and capture that bottom lip, drawing it in to suck on its plumpness. My feet leave the floor and I find myself atop Sara. She has a handful of my hair and her tongue is begging for further entry into my mouth. Oddly enough, despite gorging ourselves on beer and pizza, Sara still tastes like caffeine and nicotine, and a hint of mint. My favorite flavor.

Our bodies are moving against each other and hands make frenzied contact. And somewhere between the loud moans, desperate clutches, and gentle bites, my brain makes a reappearance and everything comes to a screeching halt.

I raise myself up just enough to rest on the back of my heels. "We have to stop..." I breathe out.

Sara looks up at me in confused exasperation.

"Not like this Sara. I want to be with you, but not like this." I tell her hoping that she understands why I put an abrupt stop to...whatever that was.

She pulls her legs up to her chest and rests her chin on her knees. All the while keeping her eyes on me. Then I see it, that shit eating grin of hers. I love that grin. I love her. And that thought brings a grin of my own.

We sit there for quite some time just staring at each other. It feels a bit strange to be able to look at Sara this way, freely, unabashedly, without any barriers. I think she can see my vulnerability as well. At least I hope she can. It's in that moment that I get the impulse to touch her and I hold out my hand. I think in some way, if I touch her...feel her, then I'll know she's real...that we're real.

As Sara takes my hand, I finally break the silence that stilled the room for last half hour or so. "I want to share something with you." She gives my hand a squeeze as if to say "I'm all ears," and smiles at me reassuringly. "The day that I went to the locker room to look for you, it wasn't solely because I thought you needed someone to talk to. I was also there because I need someone too. I had a shit day and you were the one person who I knew would make me feel...I dunno...make me feel, better I guess."

She give me a curious look, "Me?" She asks.

"Yes you." I simply tell her. And she rewards me with another one of her trademark smiles.

"So Detective Curtis, what exactly does all this mean?"

I pretend to contemplate the question and quirk my eyebrow up and say to her, "That Ms. Sidle, I don't know. I guess that depends on you."

The End

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