DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement intended.
CHALLENGE: Submitted as part of the Sara/Sofia 'Let's Get Sassy' ficathon.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Stabilizing Force
By Ann


I rushed to the scene, my heart pounding inside my chest as each second passed. All I'd been told was that Greg had been attacked and was seriously injured. I knew I had to pull myself together before I stepped onto the scene; I had to stay strong for my friend.

Parking next to a police cruiser, I climbed from the Denali and took a deep breath. A moment of relief swept through me when I spotted Sofia near the entrance to the alley, thankful that she was the one assigned to keep the peace, to restore order, and to make sure everything was done by the book. Breaking into a jog, I headed towards her.

An officer spotted my approach and lifted the crime scene tape, allowing me to step under it. Sofia immediately fell into step beside me as we passed under the yellow barrier at the same moment; the familiar rhythm holding me together.

"Hey." Sofia offered in a firm, soothing voice, and I offered the same reply in a slightly shakier one. My focus was on the three bodies lying in the alley. I immediately noted the medics attending to two of the victims while Greg lay unattended in the center of the controlled chaos.

"Why isn't there a medic on Greg?" My voice was accusing, despite my efforts to keep the blame where it should lie, on the individuals who were responsible for attacking my friend.

Sofia again tried to offer me comfort. "He's been stabilized. Sara, he's going to be okay." She gave me a reassuring look and, although the shadows in the alley kept me from looking deeply into her eyes, I could feel the strength and warmth she was projecting my way. With a final glance, she walked away to continue working the scene as I veered my path towards Greg.

Kneeling beside my injured friend, I placed my hand on his hair and lightly stroked the blood streaked locks. Tears filled my eyes when I looked down at his swollen face, marred with dozens of cuts and bruises.

I started as Greg began to stir. "Sara . . ." His voice was so faint.

"I didn't think you could see me." I struggled to maintain my calm. Greg needed me to offer support, not fall apart.

He tried to smile. "I can't . . . but I know that Sidle scent."

I choked back a sob, instead returning his attempt at humor. "I'm going to take that as a compliment." I glanced up and looked around, not able to stifle the small sniffle from escaping. I spotted Sofia watching me, staying at the ready should I need her. The knowledge alone gave me the strength I needed to regain my composure. I focused back on Greg as he began to verbally list the evidence I needed to process.

I sat still and quiet, allowing him to say what he needed to say. Continuing to stroke his hair, I explained softly, "I came here for you, Greg." I stayed by his side and kept silent vigil until he was finally placed on a stretcher and taken away.

I stood in the middle of the alley long after the ambulance had gone from view; my confused thoughts and jumbled emotions keeping me in the one place I wanted most to flee. A warm touch to my arm brought me back to reality.

"Sara? C'mon, let's get out of here." Sofia slid her hand into mine and led me towards the entrance. I took a moment to glance back at the scene, now empty of victims, medics, and law enforcement personnel. Soon, though, soon it would be occupied with crime scene investigators, but this time, it wouldn't be me.

Sofia headed towards her car, and I immediately balked. "Hey, I need to get the Denali back to the lab."

She smiled reassuringly, gesturing towards the truck, and I looked over to find not one, but two Denalis parked where I'd left mine. Nick and Warrick were just climbing from their vehicle, and they waved towards us as they moved to the rear of the truck to retrieve their kits.

"Nick's going to take your ride back. I'm taking you home." I nodded absent-mindedly, relieved that I wasn't going to have to drive. With my current frame of mind, I'd either have a wreck or end up in California before I realized where I was.

Sofia followed me into my apartment and closed the door behind us. She led me directly to the bathroom and slowly stripped me out of my clothes. Any other time, I'd be turned on by her actions, but today, it was more clinical in nature. She took a moment to peel out of her own clothes before turning on the water for the shower, placing her hand in the steady stream to regulate the temperature. When she was satisfied with the water's temp, she helped me into the tub and, grabbing a washcloth, she began to wash the alley's dirt and grime from my skin and from my soul. I closed my eyes and allowed her to cleanse me of my despair.

Dressed in old sweats and a t-shirt, I lay on the couch, waiting for Sofia to return with take-out. She'd been so gentle with me, knowing just what I needed. No words were spoken during our shower; she simply bathed me and washed my hair, occasionally placing light kisses along the way. There was something so very intimate about the whole process, not sexual mind you, but more akin to a profound spiritual experience.

The shower had succeeded in washing the horrible images from my thoughts, instead changing my focus to one of thankfulness that Greg had survived. Yes, he had a tough road ahead of him to recuperate not only from the physical injuries inflicted upon him, but the mental damage as well. I knew a little something about both aspects, and I planned to help my friend in anyway I could.

My thoughts were stilled by the sound of a key in the lock, and I turned towards the door just in time to see my lover enter. Her smile was so contagious, I found myself smiling in return.

"I called Brass while I was out. He said Greg is doing fine, but the doctor wants him to rest. He can have visitors later today." Sofia placed the bags of food on the nearby bar and moved towards the couch. "You look like you're feeling better. How about something to eat?" Leaning down, she kissed me lightly, keeping the contact soft and reassuring.

"C'mon, you. Let's eat." She reached for my hand and pulled me from the couch, grabbing the bags of food as she led me into the kitchen.

I was much hungrier than I'd realized as I practically licked my plate clean, not leaving one morsel behind. Sofia grinned as she watched me devour the last few bites. "Wow, you were hungry."

"Yeah. It definitely hit the spot. Thanks, Sofia. Thanks for everything."

She reached for my hand, gripping it tightly. "You don't need to thank me, Sara."

"I know. It's just nice having someone who cares for me. You always know exactly what I need." I stroked the back of her hand with my thumb and gazed into her eyes. She truly was my lifeline.

The End

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