DISCLAIMER: These characters and situations do not belong to me in any way, shape, or form. I have borrowed them as part of my sanity maintenance.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: 1: Written for December 19th of the FemSlash Advent Calendar: Dead of Winter 2006. 2: In the summer I received an email from L that basically said this I want you to do the settling, the "Hold On", the someone fucks up badly, and there's no Harlequin novel sweet fucking way to fix it. I want you to write mature. Use whatever Hold On you want, either Catie or my chicks, but use it. many months later this is the result. 3: I have been inspired and borrowed from three songs but this is in no way a song-fic, I promise you. Hold On By Catie Curtis, Baby Hold On By Dixie Chicks and Now by Catie Curtis
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
THANKS: as always go to L (big time) and Ann.
SPOILERS: Way to Go, Built To Kill 1&2
The Story of Us
This is the story of a relationship.
Our relationship. You and me. Catherine Willows and Sara Sidle.
Like all stories it has chapters that tell the passing of time. Like all stories it has good and bad, it has an ebb and flow, sometimes to and sometimes fro. Like all stories it has no end it has several.
I walk slowly into the break room and see you and Sofia sitting, talking.
Coughing gently, I alert you to my arrival. You smile, Sofia just looks wary, as I guess she should.
Returning your smile, my heart skips a beat as you immediately rise and come to stand beside me, resting your hand in the small of my back. The gentle touch we've used since we got together in silent acknowledgement of our relationship. The warmth of your touch thrills me, as do your words.
I grin and nod my head as I whisper, "I am now."
You hand me a coffee and take two more as you return to sit opposite Sofia.
Watching you both closely as you discuss your case results, I'm mesmerized by the way your eyes say more than your words ever could.
Just like the flash of hurt that had crossed deep blue eyes at my answer to your earnest question of months ago.
The smile on your face dropped away at my immediate response, and eyes that had been flashing with love, changed from hurt to anger in a stroke.
I flinched but couldn't stop the words flowing.
"I can't, Cath, I just can't."
"Why, Sara? I love you, Lindsay loves you. What's the problem?"
I couldn't explain it then, and I sure can't explain it now as I watch you, Catherine Willows, the woman I love with a passion, share a chuckle with our police colleague.
I was too fucking scared; too scared to love you, too scared to live with you, and certainly too scared to be with you.
And so, I ran; straight into the arms of someone else.
Only now, as I lock eyes with her, do I realize the enormity of that mistake. It's obvious Sofia's returned with an agenda for the woman that fucked her, used her, and dumped her.
Ducking away from the message in Sofia's eyes, I instead allow myself the comfort of remembering the pleasure of Lindsey convincing me to finally move in with them and the unbelievably good times we've shared in the twelve months since.
And it has been good, more so than I ever thought possible.
Twelve months and we've grown together; become the family I always wanted. Sometimes, I love you both so damn much, it scares me.
It scares me that you don't; that you don't love me; that someday you'll find someone better and just leave.
Now that I've allowed myself to do this, I'm afraid it will disappear as quickly as it happened. Love wasn't meant for me, not for Sara Sidle.
Oh, you try your hardest to say otherwise; you say it often enough. Sometimes, so gentle and so reverent, I can't help but believe you; sometimes, so sexual and so intense, I think it's forever; and sometimes, so habitual and so insincere, I think it's all a mistake.
But I believe you. I have to. Until
My eyes jerk upwards as I hear a chair scraping across the floor and I see Sofia about to leave.
You grin towards me, saying, "Hey! We thought you'd been abducted by little men in white suits to be brainwashed; you were really inside yourself there, hon."
Sofia laughs at your comment, and I rage inside. I grit my teeth hoping it looks a little like a smile and mutter, "Yeah, heavy case, you know."
You look at me, and I know you can tell I'm lying. Damn, there'll be some questions later.
"Ok, I'm away then. Remember what I said, Catherine, anytime you're both free."
The wink Sofia gives me is enough to turn my insides.
I don't want this.
"Sofia just called "
"Oh c'mon, it'll be fun."
"It's only dancing for fuck's sake. You can just watch, okay?"
"Please, Catherine, no."
But like always, you talk me into something you want and I don't, in this case a night out with the newest detective in town, Sofia Curtis.
As soon as she came back into the fold, she made a beeline for you, and all I can do is watch. I know she knows we're a couple, and yet, she pesters you, us, constantly for a date. She's intent in her motivation, and you let her; in fact, you encourage her.
Isn't what we've got good enough for you? Aren't I good enough for you?
You say it'll be fun, and I should lighten up, but I have all I want, can't you see that, I don't want more, I just want you.
I don't want anyone else.
I'm watching you now, dancing with Sofia, watching the way you have this amazing natural affinity with the music. Sofia, she just doesn't have it, but even she is more able than me. I watch your face, and your eyes are staring at me. The look you send my way is electrifying: you want me.
As always, I answer your call. Maybe, just maybe, Sofia is just a distraction. Threading my way through the crowded dance floor, I finally join the two of you. I refuse to look at Sofia, gracing you with my devout attention, and you bask in my gaze for a few heady moments.
Then your intent changes, and you pull me hard into your personal space, kissing me senseless, and whispering something in my ear. So quiet and so husky, I barely hear it. As Sofia steps up behind me, I see the look you throw her way; one of invitation, and my heart speeds up.
I don't want this.
Feeling my immediate resistance, you wrap your arms tighter around me and whisper louder this time. "Relax, Babe, I love you. Just enjoy."
Then your lips join mine, and it feels so good and so right, I forget the presence at my back. For scant minutes, I sink into your heat, your familiarity, your love, and life is perfect.
A warm breath on the nape of my neck spoils the illusion.
I don't want this.
"No, Catherine, I don't want this."
Wrenching out of the hold your two bodies have on me, I take a step away. From the corner of my eye, I see her hand hold you in place.
Daring a glance towards you, I see nothing but hurt in your eyes and anger consumes me.
How can you be hurt? It's you that wants to add another to our relationship. It's you that wants to share me, you that wants to be shared.
I just want to be loved, by you and only you.
Suddenly, I find myself outside, leaning against our car, trying to decide whether to leave you in Sofia's tender loving care or whether to stay behind to claim my right. Before I can move, I spot you and Sofia emerging from the club. You are both talking animatedly, and for a second, I see anger in your eyes. Sofia answers your glare with a kiss. I quietly seethe.
Slowly, you both approach until you are within speaking distance. No words are spoken. I can see Sofia squeezing your hand, and I see Sofia look at me. The question in her eyes is obvious, even for someone as naive as me. I turn away to look at you.
Surprisingly, you raise your arm to call for a cab. My heart drops as I realise you've made your decision; you're leaving with Sofia.
A cab pulls up behind our car, and you walk straight towards it. Opening the door, you push Sofia roughly into the rear seats. To my amazement, you just slam the door in her face, and without a backward glance, you walk towards me and cup the side of my face.
You whisper, "I'm sorry, my Sara, take me home." Seeing the disbelief I know is plastered all over my face, you say it again, "Please, Sara, take me home? We need to talk."
Not that I do much talking, I'm still quietly seething at the ridiculous charade you've just put me through. What in hell you were playing at, I'm not sure I'll ever understand.
The silence is thick in the air as I watch you putter around, clearing away the debris of our earlier grabbed meal. The quiet normalcy of your behaviour begins to soothe my troubled mind, and I marvel at your ability to just switch off the act. You're able to vamp it up without effort, and then, in the blink of an eye, you're Catherine Willows, mom, housewife, partner, and lover.
For once in my life I take the hardest step of all, towards the truth I might not want to hear.
Immediately, you glance over towards me, and I indicate the couch to the side of me.
You come over and sit carefully, mindful not to get too close.
"You said we needed to talk?"
"Yeah, we do. What happened back at the club? Why did you run again?"
Needing to feel your comfort, I sidle across until the length of my thigh rests against yours. The smile that creases your face at my gesture is enough to make this easier.
"I can't play your games, Catherine, it's not me. If you can't see that; if you don't know after all this time that I can't do that, can't share, then I don't think I can do this. I just want "
I want you.
Your hand on my thigh causes me to swallow my words of need. After tonight, I'm not yet convinced I can admit to needing you so desperately. If you let me go, I'd rather it's before I give myself completely, but you won't let me hide.
"What do you want, Sara?"
"I want you, nobody else, just you, me, and Lindsay. I can't play your sharing games, Catherine, I just can't."
Looking at you intently, I add quietly, "I need you to want me," and I'm surprised at your immediate response.
"If that's what you want then it's what I want. Sara, I want you and I'll do whatever it takes."
I watch you carefully, looking for signs that you're lying; all I can see is the earnest truth in your eyes.
"It took me long enough to find you, I'm not going to lose you just because I like to have fun. Hell, Sara, for years all I had was my body. I sold it in my youth, and it made me. Can't you see that? Without my past I could never have found my future. Without the bodies I went through, boy, girl, man, woman yeah, ok I loved it "
You offer up a sheepish smile and a shrug of your shoulders.
" Jeez, Sara, I still love it. I love the way people react to me, to my body, to my sexuality. It gives me a high... but without it, I couldn't have found you, couldn't have known that *you* were all I was ever searching for. I love you, completely. No matter what else I do, no matter who I let massage my ego, I'll always, always come back to you."
Leaning forward slightly, you rest your lips against mine, I think a little afraid that I'll still push you away, and speaking quite clearly, the movement of air at your words sends shivers through me.
"Whatever else I play at, it's not for real. You, Sara, are my only reality."
Your words finally bring me home.
I can hear you say it now: I thought you said this story had no end?
There it is, the happy ending.
You and me together.
So, why the hell am I behind your back with Grissom?
He's in that god-awful shirt, and I'm wearing - a peach, silk, bathrobe hell, I never wear silk. You would laugh in my face if I
You'll never speak to me again if you find out I've spent the night here.
What do I do? How do I stop you from finding out?
I run away again, move back into my apartment and ignore your calls.
So, this thing with Grissom gets deeper, and deeper, and more absurd with passing time. I refuse to look you in the eye. I've seen you look at me; I've seen you look at Grissom; and you've guessed, of that I have no doubt. You've always been able to read me like a book.
Every time I do catch your catch your eye, your pain hurts me, and yet, as always, I can't stop.
You just get more and more distant, and it becomes easier. It's as if, once you let go, as you will, because hell you're far stronger than I'll ever be, when you let go, I'll be able to let go.
When you don't need me; I won't need you.
And then, you send me a text message:
'I need you now. Sunshine Motel, 42nd and 3rd.'
As I walk towards you I know something is wrong. It's not possible to be so close to someone and to not be able to read their mood instantly. You look tired and jaded. Not, my Catherine.
"Hey, what's going on?"
"I may have been roofied and raped. I woke up here."
All I want to do is take you in my arms, but I can't. I don't even touch your hand. You know me; I just can't.
You start to walk towards the dingy motel, and again, I have to physically stop myself from just resting my hand on your lower back.
All I can think is you're not mine now. I don't deserve to comfort you. Your words filter through, "I, uh, improvised my own rape kit. I've got pubic combing, nail scrapings, vaginal swab, urine samples ..." and, of course, in my pain, I turn back to rules and procedures.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Did you call it in?"
Procedure be damned; I want to know if you're ok, but you say nothing, just stare into my eyes and burn me with your eyes.
"I called you."
Three small words and I'm undone. Oh, I fall back on damn procedure, but I'm lost. All I can do, this time, is watch you walk away from me.
I process that damn room, all the time visualizing just what you went through, and find nothing. No prints, nothing. Then I see it; a piece of paper from one of those Polaroid paper slips. In desperation I bag it; maybe we can get a print.
And when I finally get back, hoping to see you, to hold you tight, I find you missing and all hell broken loose. Lindsey's been kidnapped, you're hurt again, and the boys have your back while I work on Grissom's 'model' case.
Later, much later, maybe too late, after Sam's funeral, after Lindsey is safely back to school, I find myself camped on your doorstep, hand raised to the knocker.
Eventually, I knock, and wait.
"Now what the fuck do you want?"
Your greeting surprises me, despite our problems that hurt.
"I just wanted to call and see how you were, how your mum was doing, how Lindsey's doing?"
You just look at me, until a sad smile crosses your face.
"That's a lot of questions, Sara, you'd better come in. Drink?"
Following you through to the kitchen, I nod my head to your offer. For a few simple moments, it's as if nothing has changed; you make up two Sodas and Lime, filling mine with the crushed ice you don't use. A smile flickers across my face at the thought you still keep it in the freezer; maybe for me.
The smile soon drops as you turn to face me with harsh words.
"It's been three weeks, Sara. Did Grissom tell you to come?"
"No, he doesn't know I'm here."
"I just needed to see you, needed you to know that I care, that I'm here if you want me."
Your eyes are tired as you slump on the sofa.
"I called you."
The meaning is clear, and we both sigh.
You look up and stare into my eyes, looking for what, I don't know. Your words are low.
"I never thought I'd have this trouble with you, Sara. With Eddie, I knew he'd be off more often than he was here, but you, you I thought were different."
"Cath, I'm sorry. It's me, the harder I try, the harder it is to see. When you started with Sofia, I "
"Don't blame this on me, I told you that was just a game; that you were the only real thing for me, and still you walked away."
"But you kissed her, for all I know you fucked her."
"No, Sara, that was you: you fucked Grissom and you left me to find out via CSI grapevine."
You pause for a moment, glaring at me, and I'm stuck. I can't say a word.
You smile softly and continue with a hint of apology.
"Maybe for a minute I wanted to be free, but then I saw what I had to lose, and not once, did I hide anything from you. Once you settled in here " you indicate your heart, " I never hid a thing. All my flirting, all my playing was done with you by my side. I guess, for you that was never enough."
"I told you, I don't play."
"Then we're done here."
I shrug and start to leave, then turn quickly, I can do this.
"I can change, Catherine. Please believe me. I can do this. I can let you play, because I know you'll still be you, and if you're you, I'll still love you."
"No, it doesn't work like that."
"Please don't leave me, Cat."
You stand slowly and walk over towards me. Standing as close as you can without actually touching me, you reach up and caress my face.
"I didn't leave, Sar, you did; and there's the line, you can't stay now."
You see what I mean?
A story that keeps ebbing and flowing holds the reader. That's what all good authors know.
Will they? Won't they? Now that's a good story.
And so it goes on.
I continue my dalliance with Gil; all the time, wanting you and watching you.
Watching you take Sofia to places you should have been taking me; watching Sofia get closer and closer to Lindsey, and I seethe, knowing all along that I'm wrong and you're right.
With Gil, I read Forensic journals and discuss new methods of staining fire-ants, with you, I walked the line. With Gil, there's no heart, with you, it was all heart.
You and Sofia are cold. Your eyes hold only half their light, and I remember when they were bright and clear and warm. With me.
You said that whatever you did in life you'd always, always come back to me. Looking at you now, I wonder if that could still be true.
My Grissom infatuation runs its course. I loved him, maybe even love him, but I could never love him like I love you. I could never need him.
I just say my goodbyes; with Gil, there's no need to push, he doesn't have the power to hurt me.
The look on Sofia's face tells me that you too have run out of patience with second best.
That's what I tell myself.
But, who's writing our story, sometimes I wish I knew.
Is it me, or is it you?
Is it just some cliché driven tale?
Yeah, every story has a cliché and this story, our story, is no exception.
Weeks later, when Grissom and Sofia, and I guess, we, too, are history; I wake with a thick head to the insistent ringing of a telephone.
"Sara? It's Lindsay?"
She didn't need to tell me that, I might have drifted away from you both, but neither of you have ever really left my thoughts.
"I'm having problems with my math class, and Mom said you might be able to help."
"Yes, Sara, she did. Can you?"
Lindsey says her words as if it is obvious I can and will help. What am I to do?
That's right, it's a rhetorical question. She's right, I can help, and I do.
After a few sessions at my apartment, she says it would be so much easier if I just come over to your place as all her text books would then be nearby, and you'll cook the meal while we work.
It's obvious she's playing the matchmaker, but once again, just like the time she convinced me to move in, she's right.
I helped her, her grades improved, and we're friends again. There was no malice, just an easy acceptance of the friendship that came first.
And now, now that there is no more pressure, I can see it all. I can see us.
I look across the room and catch you staring at me and see the love I almost left behind.
You smile and hold out a hand to me.
I smile back and take your offered hand, pulling you to me. I put my hand in the small of your back, our sign, do you remember? From the soft look in your eyes, I take it you do.
We cross the room to look out over your backyard, and I can still remember the time I'd almost begun to call it our yard, before I ruined everything.
I can see now, you were only playing, and like a child, I couldn't share.
You have this ability to care for everyone, and yet, I do see it now, once you have what you want, you don't let go for anyone.
And what did I do? I made the decision for you.
I turn you to face me.
"May I take you on a date?"
"Huh? It's a bit late for that, Sara. We've been there, done that, not sure I need another T-shirt at my age."
"Please Cat; I can see it all now. Please?"
I really hate begging, and I know we're still friends, know we're good together, but I just want to have another go.
"You're begging, Sara." You say with a grin on your face, and I realize we're here, here at that point again.
Hey, it might never be the same; we might never get to live our days again.
But hell, we can try.
There you have it.
The story of us.
The story of Catherine, Sara, Lindsey, Sofia, Gil.
The story of a relationship.
How will it end?
I have absolutely no idea, and for once, I don't really care.
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