DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written in response to P&P Anniversary Challenge - five, CSI50 – fear. No spoilers but this is set sometime in Season 6 or later and assumes a long-standing relationship. Part of 'A Kind of Fairytale'.
CHALLENGE: Submitted for the 5th Anniversary Challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Stay With Me
By Venetia


It had been five seconds since Sara was shot.

Silence, safety, relief, then …

"Sara! My God, Sara!"

Blood, so much blood, dark and vicious in the half-light of the street lamps.

"Officer down! Officer down! Paramedics to 134 Hanson Drive immediately! Get the paramedics!"

Bright, laughing eyes, beautiful brown eyes warm with love, unseeing eyes, wide and blank.

"Sara, don't you leave me, baby, stay with me Sara!"

It had been five minutes since Sara was shot.

Sofia pressed her hands to the wound in Sara's chest, desperately trying to stem the flow of blood, desperately trying to keep Sara with her.

"Sara, you promised, remember baby? You promised to stay always, remember?"

Sofia was barely aware of those around her, her whole focus on the woman she loved. Warrick had joined her in trying to stop the bleeding, but she didn't even think of what she was saying in front of him, didn't think about guarding the long-held secret, all she thought of was keeping Sara alive.

"You've never given up in your life, Sara, you're a fighter, fight now, fight for us, baby, please."

The sirens were getting closer, there was a squeal of tires and then people were trying to make her let go of Sara, make her move away. She couldn't let go, couldn't they see that? Sara needed her, they needed to be together. Warrick's strong, gentle hands pried her away, pulled her to him, held her close, as the paramedics began to work.

"Sara, Sara please, please stay."

It had been five hours since Sara was shot.

Sofia sat huddled in a chair in the waiting room, staring at nothing, hearing little of what was being said around her. She was seeing the paramedics working on Sara, trying to staunch the still escaping blood. She was hearing the heart monitor, the sound of the flatline. She was seeing the ER doctors cracking Sara's chest, ripping open that frail, strong body.

She didn't consciously register Greg's arm around her shoulders or see the glare he directed at their colleagues, warning them to ask no questions. She didn't see Warrick's worried, sympathetic gaze or Nick's haunted, grief-stricken expression. She didn't see Catherine's almost angry confusion and she didn't see Grissom's look of fear … and loss. She didn't see Brass coming in, didn't hear his exhausted, ragged voice giving them an update on the search for the perp.

But when the doctor came in, Sofia saw him before anyone else.

It had been five days since Sara had been shot.

Sofia had refused to leave the hospital, arguing vehemently with anyone who tried to suggest that she go home and get some sleep. She was exhausted and her body ached from sleeping on chairs and couches but she was not leaving until Sara woke up.

The perp had been caught, she knew that. A drive-by, a gang initiation aimed at the wrong target, but even in her anger and fear, Sofia couldn't bring herself to care very much about what happened to the shooter. All that mattered was Sara being okay, Sara waking up.

She rested her head on Sara's hospital bed, holding her lover's hand in hers as she listened to the various monitors and their steady, almost reassuring rhythms. She was so tired …

Frail fingers tightened briefly around hers. Sofia looked up quickly to see dark eyes regarding her with remarkable focus.

"You look like crap."

The voice was a little raspy, the eyes a bit hazy, but Sara was back and Sofia half-laughed, half-sobbed as she replied, "Want to look in the mirror?"

It had been five weeks since Sara had been shot.

Sofia was at the hospital every day, although she was also back at work. Sara was nagging her about getting enough sleep, to which Sofia had rolled her eyes and replied, "Pot, kettle. Ring a bell?"

Sara had plenty of other regular visitors. Greg sat with her, catching her up with lab gossip and relating tales of former pranks and exploits which Sara informed him she didn't believe for a minute. He insisted they were all true – would Greggo lie to her? Warrick brought her food that wasn't hospital sludge and bullied her, in the most amiable fashion, into eating it. Brass came by and made lame jokes and laughed over old cases. Nick came and sat quietly, leaving Sara free to rest or talk, depending on the mood. Catherine dropped by and made awkward small talk, not knowing how to react to the new situation. Grissom came by and said very little, leaving books – plays, poetry and forensics – for Sara to read.

Sara was being a remarkably docile and cooperative patient, which wasn't surprising to Sofia. She knew Sara to be stoical about pain and illness. Complaining about discomfort just wasn't part of her nature. But the fact that Sara wasn't fretting to get out of the hospital and harassing the doctor about it at every opportunity was worrying Sofia. The doctor had originally told her that she would be in the hospital for quite some time and Sara had accepted this in a state of morphine-induced meekness.

But today, Sara had snarled at the doctor when he told her that it would be several months before she could even consider returning to work. And when the doctor had left, a small smile on his face, Sofia had been delighted with the ensuing tantrum.

It had been five months since Sara had been shot.

Sara was back at work and apart from some stiffness and a marked decrease in her ability to put in massive amounts of overtime, she was doing very well. She was having considerable difficulty in not yelling at all the overprotective cops and CSIs that she was fine and the shooter was behind bars, remember? But she knew they were just concerned for her and she appreciated it. Sofia was well aware of Sara's frustrations and she did her best not to hover, to just be there when Sara needed her, at the end of a tiring shift or when she had forgotten to eat again. But sometimes Sofia simply needed to see for herself that Sara really was okay.

Sara remembered very little about the shooting. It was Sofia who had the nightmares now, nightmares about endless blood and unseeing eyes, nightmares about dark earth and empty arms. She would wake, gasping and panicked, only to feel the warm, reassuring touch of her lover, letting her know that the nightmares were only in the dark.

It had been five years since Sara had been shot.

The scars on Sara's chest were still there, but they were fading with time, no longer the vivid angry red they had been. Sofia would press her lips to the scars and remember. Sara would stroke her hair and lift Sofia's face, bringing her close for a kiss, reminding them that this was here and now and they were alive and whole and together and they had each other, always.

The End

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