DISCLAIMER: CSI deosn't belong to me. Neither do the characters. I just use them to express myself. No profit has been made or wanted. Just the peace of mind i get from expressing myself. The poem is 'Funeral Blues' by W.H. Auden. I don't own this either.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to SoFrost for all your help. You put as much work into this as I did. This is definitley one story that would have never saw the light of day if it wasn't for you. This story is dedicated to the people that have passed through my life and are no longer with me. I miss you all deeply. I also dedicate the story to those of you who have lost a loved one. The loss never leaves and it never eases, you just learn to survive without their presence.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Stop all the clocks
Old. That was the first thought that came into my head when I saw her again. It seemed that the last two years have really raved her. Almost making her unrecognisable. Just 24 months have passed and the mischievous twinkle in her eyes had dulled. Sometimes I think if I look close enough I could still see it.
In 104 weeks her hair, once glorious, vibrant, flowing mane of sun kissed blonde now lies dull and lifeless. Draped over her head. Like a dirty, ripped rag has been placed there by some uncaring individual. She was never a vain woman but she did like to look good. It hurt her a lot to watch it change. She used to have a lean, curvaceous figure that she'd use to her advantage by showcasing the most wonderful outfits. But in the span of 730 days all that had changed. My favourite has to be the most simplistic of outfits. A plain white tank top with black pants. You could see the defined muscles in her arms, shoulders and back flex whenever she moved and her creamy, white, skin dashed with faint freckles that begged to be caressed. The pants were tight enough to show off her long legs that lead the way to her toned ass. Now though, she looks like a skeleton covered in dry, patchy skin. Her toned muscles have been eaten up by her body, desperate for the protein they contained and have now shrunk away to nothing.
After 17,520 agonising hours her breathing had become laboured and harsh sounding in the quiet of the room. It's a far cry from the times I'd find her asleep and become mesmerised by the rhythmic rise and fall of her chest. Or the times I'd come to pick her up, only to be let in by Lindsay because she was still asleep in her bed with her bare back exposed to the room. These times were small moments of guilty pleasure, that I would get lost in watching the smooth subtle movements of the muscle under her skin as her ribcage contracted and expanded with each even breath she took. I used to get a small thrill gliding my hand over the smooth plain of her warm back to gently shake her shoulder.
It has been 1,051,200 minutes since I arrived at her house to take her out for our regular girly night to find her crying. She sat me down and told me the bad news. She had been for a routine check up and they had found something. A lump. She had all the tests that were required and they had come back positive.
She had cancer.
They wanted her to start treatment immediately so she would have to take time off work. She told me that she'd also need help with Lindsay. She was a bit hesitant but asked if I would mind helping her out sometimes. Apparently Lindsay looked up to me and she'd be more likely to open up to me when things were bothering her. Of course I didn't mind. That's what friends do right? Help each other out in their time of need? Plus I liked spending time with the little Munchkin as much as I enjoyed spending time with her mother.
63,072,000 seconds have passed since Catherine told me her bad news.
63,071,997 seconds have passed since I realised my true feelings for her. I had fallen in love with her and as I held her in my arms I could hear in the distance my world fracturing, threatening to break wide open at any moment. We sat on her sofa, holding each other, Catherine crying bitter tears into my shoulder, both fearing what the future would bring. It was then I vowed to do whatever I could to help. I'd always be at her side, no matter what. In the quiet of the lounge I began to formulate plans. I'd pass my contact numbers to Lindsay; put an overnight bag in my car. Find someone to cover my shifts in case I needed to take time off. I also started to map the quickest routes from my house and from the lab to her house and the hospital. As I planned my life around her, she had cried herself out on my shoulder.
I still remember that day with stunning clarity. After Catherine had finally fallen asleep I gently laid her out on the sofa and made my way to the bathroom. Once inside I locked the door and sat on the closed toilet seat with my head in my hands. I couldn't stop the tears that I had been holding back in front of her. I thought about all she had to go through, all the pain and fear. I prayed that I would be strong enough to support her, to be there for her and Lindsay. A gentle knock at the door startled me.
"Sara, are you ok?" Catherine asked through the door.
"Yeah, I'll be out in a minute." I told her. Turning on the tap I briefly caught sight of myself in the mirror. My eyes were all puffy, going out there to see her looking like this wouldn't be a good idea. I splash cold water over my face hoping to help with the swelling. Quickly drying off my face I headed back out into the lounge.
I saw her lying on the sofa with her eyes shut. I decide that now would be a good time to head home and let her get some rest. I walked up to the couch and crouched down beside her. She'd obviously fallen back asleep. I gently shook her shoulder to wake her up.
"Cath, I'm gonna go now. Will you be ok by yourself?" As soon as the words had left my mouth she quickly sat up and grabbed my hand.
"Sara, can you stay for a while longer, please?" She asked in a low voice. "I really don't feel like being alone just now."
Looking into her eyes, I knew I couldn't say no. I saw fear and uncertainty in her eyes. Seeing that in her eyes broke my heart. I felt tears come to my eyes and my throat tighten up. Not trusting myself to speak, I just nodded my head and moved to sit on the sofa next to her.
Hours later we were both still on the sofa curled up together and Catherine had fallen into a disturbed sleep. Unfortunately I couldn't seem to shut my mind off and find sleep just as easily. Partly due to the fact that her sofa was far too small and cramped to hold my tall frame alone never mind the two of us. Also I couldn't seem to stop myself from imagining what my life would be like without her in it. Whether she knew it or not, she had given me something special. She had made me feel like part of a family, her family. I knew I loved her long before now, seeing her lying here in my arms, I realised just how much I loved her.
I was planning on telling her. I had a feeling that she might feel the same way but now everything would have to be put on hold. With her I know I could allow myself to be loved. I already felt it. From her and from Lindsay but I was not a hundred percent sure it was the same way I loved her, but I was willing to take that chance. Slowly she stirred beside me, disturbing me from my thoughts. I ran my fingers through her hair and down her back. I concentrated on making small circles on her back, hoping to ease her into a sounder sleep. Thinking that I had been successful I went back into my thoughts.
Suddenly I felt her fingers gently stroking my cheek and I lower my eyes to hers. I saw her looking at the tips of her fingers and not at my face. Following her eyes I noticed that they were covered in moisture as the street light came in from the outside. I was shocked to see that she had wiped tears from my face, tears I hadn't even realised that I had been crying. Moving slowly as though she's frightened of scaring me away, she moves to lean over me. Looking at her, feeling very confused, I watched as she settled herself on top of me. As if by instinct, I placed one foot on the floor and she fits her lower body perfectly between my legs. I was almost distracted with the feel of her pressed tight against my centre. I kept very still although all I wanted to do was move against her to create some friction that I found myself desperately needing.
Catherine braced her upper body on the arm of the sofa beside my head. Hovering above me I couldn't help staring into her eyes. I was not sure if it was just wishful thinking or not but I thought her eyes flicked to my lips. As time dragged by we just lie in the same position, just looking at each other. Her breathing matched mine, fast and shallow, and I could feel her chest moving against mine. Her face inched closer to mine till we were just centimetres apart and I could feel her breath ghost against my lips. The tip of her tongue darted out to moisten her lips and I found myself mirroring the action. She closed the distance between our lips. As our lips connected she pressed harder onto my centre and I couldn't help the moan that escaped from me.
Pushing her back, I looked deep into her eyes. I couldn't decide if this was real for her or if she needed a connection with someone and anyone would have done. Including me.
"Cath, I think that this is a bad idea." I told her, as gently as possible. I didn't want to ruin our friendship. Mentally though I was kicking myself, this was my dream coming true.
"Sara, I love you. I think I always have. I didn't understand it at first. The jealousy, the snapping, the rash behaviour whenever you were involved. Then one day it all clicked." She said, not quite meeting my eyes. I couldn't help myself I had to ask.
"When?" Thankfully I didn't have to elaborate; she knew what I wanted to know.
"It was one day when you were helping Lindsay with her math homework. I stood in the doorway just watching you both. You spent so much time patiently trying to teach her how to solve the equation. When she finally started to show understanding of the problem that you were working on, your face lit up with maternal pride. It shone from you. It was then I realised that I was in love with you." As she told me I couldn't help my heart swelling.
"I feel the same, Cath, I really do. But are you certain? I mean, are you sure it's not the cancer that's pushing you to make a 'connection'?" I asked her, hating every word that was coming out of my mouth. "I think you should wait before committing to anything, cause for me I couldn't have a one night stand with you. I feel too much for you for that to happen. Do you understand what I'm saying?" When she nodded slightly I felt a bit braver and I continued. "If you still feel the same when you're better, then we'll talk then. I've loved you since the beginning and I'll go on loving you. I don't think I could stop, even if I wanted to I couldn't. Until then, I'm your friend I'm here for you to lean on, no matter what." I told her, giving her a quick, chaste kiss on the lips. I must have been more convincing than I felt because she just blinked away the tears that had gathered in her eyes and nodded her head. I had no idea how but she managed to manoeuvre us so we were lying on our sides, with me spooning her. After a while her breathing evened out and I knew she had fallen asleep.
Later she woke up again shivering, despite the blanket I pulled across us earlier.
"Cath? Come on, you have a perfectly good queen size bed in that room of yours that you can lie in." Thankfully, she was still too groggy to argue with me. With exadurated carefulness she stood beside the sofa and waited for me to rise. I stood up and immediately drew her into a cuddle. Feeling her small fragile frame in my arms, I made a snap decision. I quickly swept her off her feet and carried her upstairs. When I finally got to the side of her bed, her head was gently lolling against my shoulder. I gently placed her on the bed and kissed her forehead as I pull the covers over her. When I turned to leave she opened her eyes and softly asked me to stay. She looked so small that I didn't hesitate. Kicking off my shoes I walked around to the other side of the bed and crawled in behind her, immediately spooning her. Unable to actually sleep I spent the night just watching her.
This was how it started. Me sharing her bed most nights. Just watching her and watching over her. For two years we battled together, side by side, against everything that came our way. The sickness, the weight loss, the pain and the mood swings. We fought against a foe that could easily win. We saw it all and tried to stay strong throughout. Recently, though, she got sick. Her weakened immune system was easily taken over. She had to be taken into hospital for an intensive and aggressive antibiotic treatment. Two weeks passed and for each day of those two weeks I stayed by her side. I watched as she struggled and fought a battle that I couldn't help her with. I had to listen as she fought for each breath and as she cried out in agonising pain.
Now though there is nothing but silence. Silence that is harder to handle than her crying and pleading.
Looking out over the shimmering water, I wish once again that she was with me. We used to come here after she had her treatment. I never liked having her outside for too long after her chemotherapy but she was always so insistent, and in all honesty who was I deny her. Plus she said that the beauty of the lake, the hills and the eventual sunset, took her mind off the ugliness coursing around her body. After our first visit I put some warm blankets in the back of my car and before leaving the house, her house, I would put flasks of coffee and soup in the car. Sometimes I'd also bring along sandwiches or her favourite cake, just in case she felt like having something to eat. Most time she didn't.
I hadn't intended on bringing her here, it was my secret place. I'd come to the lake whenever I needed to be on my own, when I didn't want to be found. The first time we came here we stood side by side, against the bumper. After that first time whenever I brought her here we would both sit on the bonnet of the car wrapped up in the blankets, soaking up the last of the heat from the engine. It became natural for us to snuggle up together. Every time she would fall asleep before the sun had set. One time I decided to take along a video camera to record it so she would finally get to see it.
It still brings a smile to my face when I remember the first time she actually saw the sun sink down between the valley of the hills and into the water. She allowed her emotions to dance across her face freely. She watched the screen with a childish fascination, awe and wonder flittered through her eyes unchecked as tears rained down from her eyes. When the DVD had finished she launched herself into my arms and cried her eyes out. She was so happy she had finally seen the sunset. I felt pride swell deep inside of me that I had made her this happy that I couldn't stop myself placing a lingering kiss on her lips. When she moved to deepen the kiss I was tempted to go along with her but when I held her tighter to me she let out a whimper of pain that reminded me of why we spent every day together now.
The rustle of nearby trees brings me back to the present. I feel tears sliding down my cheeks, I think about wiping them away but there is no one here to see them. It's just me and an urn with Catherine's ashes inside of them. I asked Lindsay if she wanted to come with me to scatter her ashes but she said she wasn't ready, she'd come up another time. I didn't mind and I knew Catherine would feel the same. Lindsay has already lost one parent, which was traumatic enough for her, now she's had to watch her mother dying. She just needs some time and when she's ready, I'll be there for her, like I have been for the last two years.
Looking at the sky I see that sunset is close. I get out of the car and sit on the bonnet of the car with Catherine's urn on my lap. I hold it, her, gently in my hands and start to speak.
"Hey, beautiful. Well, it finally came. The day neither of us wanted to talk about. The day we both dreaded. You know I regret most things in my life Catherine. For the most part, I don't regret the last two years. I know you know that I love you, but I regret not showing you how much I love you. I'm sorry that I never took the opportunity to show you what you do, did, to me. If I had the chance to go back in time, I would. I wouldn't spend the time fighting with you. I would have done everything in my power to make us friends, then if possible lovers. I've been in love with you for a long time, Catherine. Even before I knew it, I was in love with you. You had this way of making me feel. I successfully tried for years to squash any feelings I had for anyone but then I came to Vegas and I met you. You became my everything." I swallow tightly around the thump that had formed in my throat.
"Do you remember that Brit flick we watched one night? I can't remember the name of it. But I remember how the poem that guy, John Hannah, I think, recited at his lover's funeral made you cry. You said that it was so beautiful and I nodded in agreement. Do you know why I just nodded? Why I couldn't speak? I could guess how he was feeling. I was scared that this was going to happen and now it has I know exactly how he felt. That night when you slept, I went online and I got the poem. It was written by a guy called W.H Auden and not the script writers. So if you don't mind, sweetheart, I'm going to use that poem here. I've search myself and I can't find the words to express how I feel. I really hope you don't mind."
Hopping off the bonnet of the car I walk to the edge of the lake. I quickly scan my memory to make sure I have the poem correctly in my head. I remove the lid of the urn, taking a deep breath I begin.
"Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the piano and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come."
As I finished the verse the sun had kissed the horizon. I poured some of her ashes out into the water. Taking a deep breath I continue.
"Let aeroplanes circle, moaning over head
Scribbling in the sky the message 'she is dead.'
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves."
The sun had sunk lower still, sending rich tapestry of colours over the sky. Magenta reds mixed into burnt oranges which faded into mustard yellows. The clouds at the outer reaches of the sunset are a mix of bruised purples intermingling with moody, turbulent blues. Tearing my eyes away from the sunset I pour some more of Catherine's ashes into the lake and continue.
"She was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong."
I pour the rest of Catherine's ashes out into the lake and close the lid on the urn. Fighting against the lump in my throat, as tears roll freely down my face, I finish the poem.
"The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good."
Choking out the last verse, I fall to my knees and weep bitter tears of loss and regret. If I didn't know any better, I would swear that the sun had waited for my last words before sinking fully behind the horizon to light up another day on the other side of the world.
I wish it would come back again. I wish she would come back again.
To Be Continued
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