DISCLAIMER: They're not mine, I promise to put them back where I found them. No money made, no infringement intended.
NOTE: In my little world that team split thing never happened. Special credits go to Sasha, for allowing me to play with her idea and incorporate it into this story. A big thank you to my beta Krys for all her help. Quoted lyrics in chapter 28 written by William Blake, the ones in chapter 33 written by Hermann Hesse.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Strong Enough
By Karen


Chapter 32

Being the first one to give her statement to Brass, Catherine left soon after that and Sara hadn't seen her since. Searching for her lover, a bit surprised she didn't find her in her office or the break room, she tried paging Catherine while checking the labs. Finally Sara peeked inside the locker room and spotted the blonde standing in front of her locker. Something in Catherine's posture made Sara come to a halt, her brow furrowing as she watched Catherine simply stand there before slowly opening the locker and running her fingers over Lindsey's picture.

Sara quietly stepped inside and let the door close softly behind her. "Catherine?"

Catherine nodded a little but didn't turn around. Suddenly overcome with a feeling of dread, Sara quickly closed the distance between them and wrapped her arms around Catherine's waist. "What's wrong, baby?" She whispered close to the small ear, glad to feel Catherine leaning back into her. Something didn't feel right and Sara was scared to ask, so she waited.

"That night when Eddie got killed… all I could think about was how she nearly drowned in front of my eyes." Her fingers still tracing the picture of a smiling little girl, Catherine felt Sara tighten her hold. "I was so angry at him I couldn't even… mourn. But he was dead and it was pointless, and that anger soon turned into resentment." Her voice wavered becoming more quiet and Sara tried calming her by dropping light kisses in Catherine's hair. She couldn't understand where it was all coming from but didn't dare interrupt, sensing Catherine needed to let it out.

"Sometimes she still has nightmares about that night." Catherine admitted softly and Sara nodded a little. She still had hers too but no point in telling that now.

"Things used to be really bad. Lindsey changed. We'd fight all the time, the distance between us growing. I feared I'd lose her forever." Catherine whispered placing her arms over Sara's, "She'd wake up screaming… I'd run to her but she'd pretend to still be asleep. So I'd curl up in the chair next to her just to be close. Then I'd wake in the morning covered with Lindsey's blanket, and she'd be gone from her bed." Her voice cracked and Sara realized she was crying.


"It was like we were afraid to talk to each other about it, both fearing we'd only hurt each other more." Catherine continued, "I didn't know what to do. She needed help but wouldn't let me close." She slowly turned in Sara's arms and snuggled into the embrace. Finding comfort in Sara's closeness the blonde closed her eyes. "It took me a long time to realize she knew I was blaming Eddie for what happened and thought I'd be upset with her for still loving him."

Sara didn't know how to help, she wasn't sure anything she could possibly say would make a difference. She kept stroking the blonde hair, the sadness in Catherine's voice tearing her apart. The closure she was hoping Catherine would finally get seemed so distant now. "I never wanted to make you relive everything again…" Sara murmured, surprised to feel Catherine pull away from her slightly. Reaching up, Catherine lovingly took Sara's face in her hands.

"I know that." She nodded, trying to smile through her tears.

"I'm sorry." Sara whispered and Catherine softly kissed her lips.

"Don't be." She gently traced Sara's cheeks with her thumbs. "I was trying to tell you that things have changed. We've been talking and spending more time together. She's not trying to push me away anymore and I can see how much she loves being around you." Sara smiled a little and turned her face to kiss one of Catherine's palms. "I can see how hard you're trying to be there for us both and I love you so much for that." She wrapped her arms around Sara's neck and pulled her as close as she could.

Moved beyond words, all Sara could do was hug her back desperately, silent tears trickling down her cheeks. She knew Lindsey's nightmares wouldn't miraculously stop, she knew the ordeal of losing her father and nearly dying herself made her vulnerable and insecure, changing her forever. She was robbed of the blessed carefree innocence of her childhood and Sara couldn't change that for her no matter what she did. But she was determined to try and help her heal.

"I'll always be there for you and Lindsey." She promised softly and felt Catherine nod against her shoulder. "Always, Catherine."

"And we'll be there for you, Sara." The blonde pulled away a little to look into her lover's eyes. She gently brushed a stray lock out of Sara's face and tucked it behind her ear. Leaning down Sara captured Catherine's lips, smiling when Catherine immediately pulled her close again, determined to deepen their kiss. Her arms slid up around Sara's neck and she whimpered softly when Sara's tongue slipped into her mouth, robbing her of thought. Sara's warm hands slowly stroked her back, sliding down to brush against her sides only to come back up to tangle in her hair. A moan rose in the back of her throat and Catherine struggled to suppress the desire that gripped her body.

Sara gently ended their kiss and for a few breathless moments rested her forehead against Catherine's. "I'm becoming really fond of this locker room." She smiled.

Chuckling, Catherine nodded her head a little, "Me too." She snuggled into Sara and sighed contentedly, loving the feeling of being held so close. "We should probably get back…" She regretfully mumbled into Sara's neck.

"Actually, we don't have to." The brunette told her and Catherine looked up in confusion. "Grissom gave us a few days off." Smiling a little at Catherine's shocked expression, Sara nodded for emphasis.

"He did?"

Sara nodded again, "I didn't even get a chance to ask." She let go of Catherine so they could both gather their things before leaving.

"Wow." Catherine mumbled turning towards her locker.

"The case stays open for a few days because he wants to be sure we didn't miss anything. We still don't know who set Black's house on fire." Sara informed her while putting her jacket on. "I actually went to Grissom to apologize…" She trailed off when Catherine turned around looking at her questioningly. "You know, for giving him a hard time about the whole case reopening thing." She watched as understanding slowly appeared in Catherine's eyes. Lowering herself onto the bench Sara hung her head. "Truth be told, if it weren't for his insisting…"

Catherine crouched in front of her and took one of Sara's hands squeezing it lightly. "Sara." She waited till the brunette raised her eyes and gently cupped her cheek. "Don't diminish the importance of everything you've done."

"I didn't really do much." Sara insisted lowering her eyes again, "With the lack of evidence to process and this whole mess with my mother…" Silenced when Catherine gently pressed her fingers against her lips, Sara looked up into the soft blue eyes.

"Don't ever say that again." Catherine whispered, "Dodging bullets just so you could catch that bastard doesn't exactly qualify as not doing much, Sara. I nearly lost you." Her eyes filled with tears when Sara softly kissed the fingers still pressed against her lips. "And now I can go home, and tell my daughter that the person responsible for stealing her father away from her will have to answer for it." She kneeled in front of Sara and rested her arms on her shoulders. "You did everything." Catherine said quietly, watching those beautiful dark eyes cloud with tears. "Everything and more."

Sara's hand gently curled around the back of Catherine's neck pulling her closer. "I love you." Sara murmured and soon her lips were crushing Catherine's again and there was nothing the blonde could do but give into the amazing sensation.

They parted slowly and Catherine lowered her head on Sara's shoulder, enjoying the feeling of Sara's fingers sliding up her neck and into her hair, soft lips trailing light kisses down her forehead. "When do you want to leave?" Catherine asked quietly, her face still buried underneath Sara's chin.

"Steven is leaving in the morning. He was supposed to stop by to say goodbye before going to the airport…" She trailed off searching Catherine's eyes when the blonde looked at her. "I was thinking maybe I should change those plans a bit and go home, help him pack. If that's okay with you?"

"Of course it is, sweetie." Catherine kissed her lips softly. She got up to her feet pulling Sara along and the brunette wrapped her arms around Catherine's waist.

"Then maybe we could leave later tomorrow? Or the day after, if you need more time to arrange things with Nancy." Sara offered.

"I'll call to let you know, okay?"

Hugging the blonde close, Sara whispered in her ear, "Thank you for wanting to go with me." Her voice was full of emotion and Catherine hugged her tighter.

"I'd go anywhere with you Sara."

They stood unmoving for a long time, just holding each other until Sara pulled away a little to look at her lover. "I know you want to spend some time with Linds tonight, but maybe you could come over in the morning?" Dark eyes kept looking at her hopefully and Catherine had to smile a little. "He's not leaving before 10."

"Are you sure? I mean, with everything going on you guys hardly even had time to see each other."

"I'm sure." Sara smiled widely, "And I know Steven would love to meet you."

"Oh?" Catherine looked a bit confused and Sara chuckled seeing her expression. "Should I get worried?"

"No." She kissed Catherine's nose. "He's a very nice guy." She promised softly but Catherine still didn't look convinced. "And he knows how much you mean to me." Finally Catherine sighed a little making Sara smile again. "I'll make coffee." The brunette promised, wiggling her eyebrows.

"You better." Catherine joked receiving giggles in return.

Sara watched as Catherine walked over to the locker to get her jacket out. "The lab will be three investigators short." Catherine mumbled getting dressed. "Do I even want to know how you managed to get days off for both of us?" She asked turning around, smiling mischievously.

Sara shrugged, "Well, it's not like I had to twist Grissom's hand…" Catherine came closer and Sara reached over to brush a lock of hair out of Catherine's face. "Strangely enough, he offered."

"I was joking, baby." Catherine offered softly. She took Sara's hand and led her out of the locker room.

"I know." Sara nodded entwining their fingers, "And I think he knows about us."

"Do you mind?"

Catherine sounded almost worried and Sara rushed to reassure her, "No. I want everyone to know." Her eyes sparkled and the most beautiful smile graced her lips.

Catherine smiled back, "Good. I get to show you off then."


Chapter 33

Sara heard the doorbell ring and playfully warned the grinning man hunched over the sink, "Behave."

"I'm almost hurt." Her brother joked not turning around. Still busy putting the breakfast dishes away, he chuckled when Sara gently slapped his arm passing by.

Sara opened the door expecting to find just Catherine behind them. She only had a moment to feel puzzled before Lindsey hurled herself at her, embracing her tightly. Instinctively she wrapped the small girl in a hug. "Hey sweetie." She could feel Lindsey's small form shaking slightly and looked up into Catherine's eyes. The blonde just shrugged a little trying to smile.

"Linds wanted to see you before leaving for school." Catherine told her quietly, "Nancy is waiting for her in the car." She looked a little shaken up and Sara felt confusion mixed with worry wash over her.

Not sure what to do, she tenderly stroked the girl's head hoping to get her to talk but Lindsey only tightened her grip. "Lindsey?"

Big blue eyes looked up at her and Sara ran out of words. Small hands were still holding her close as she gently pushed the hair from Lindsey's face. "I didn't know you almost got hurt." The girl whispered blinking the tears away and Sara suddenly understood everything.


"Why didn't you tell me?" Lindsey asked burying her face into Sara again. There was no real accusation in her tone, just the need to understand.

Sara kissed the top of the blonde head. "I didn't want you to worry." She whispered.

Lindsey nodded a little not looking up, "That's what mom said too."

"I hate seeing you sad." Sara mumbled in Lindsey's hair, gently rubbing the girl's back to calm her and Catherine could barely stand to watch them and not fall apart.

"I'm glad you caught that man." Lindsey whispered quietly and Catherine lost her composure when tears started trickling down Sara's cheeks. Covering her mouth with her fingers she watched in agony as Sara fought against the lump in her throat before finding her voice again.

"Me too." Sara told her, her fingers playing with long blond locks. "He'll never hurt anyone again." Lindsey looked up and Sara smiled and leaned down to softly kiss her cheek. "Are you okay?" She asked and Lindsey nodded her head.

"I have something for you." The girl whispered conspiratorially, handing a small box to Sara. When the brunette simply remained frozen to her spot staring at the box in her hand, the girl sighed and rolled her eyes. "Don't worry, it's not about to explode." She grumbled.

"Lindsey…" Sara started, "I don't… you didn't…"

"Just open it, Sara." The girl interrupted and Catherine wiped her face, smiling a little at her daughter's impatience. She had no idea what Lindsey was up to.

Sara unwrapped the small box and stared in wonder at the package of nicorette's. She chanced a glance at Catherine who just lifted an eyebrow and shook her head, "Don't look at me."

"Don't be mad, Sara." Lindsey mumbled quietly, turning her gaze to the floor. She felt Sara's hand gently stroke her hair again and looked up with a plea in her eyes, "You have to stop smoking. I need you around for a very long time."

A smile spreading on her face, Sara tucked a strand of hair behind Lindsey's ear, "Oh yeah?"

Lindsey just nodded pulling Sara to lean down so she could whisper in her ear, "You make mom happy. And I love you."

Grinning like a fool, not caring that the tears were starting to blur her vision again, Sara pulled the girl closer. "I love you too sweetie." She kissed the top of Lindsey's head and chuckled softly. "I promise to start munching on these right now."

Sara was amazed at how relaxed she was actually feeling. Her brother stayed true to his word and made sure Catherine felt welcome and comfortable around him. No moments of awkwardness, no silly questions; Steven simply treated Catherine like an old friend from the moment she walked through the door and it had a calming effect on the blonde. He didn't have much time before having to leave and Sara could only feel grateful for Catherine's presence. It was a wonderful distraction from dealing with the fact she would soon have to say goodbye to her brother again.

When Catherine excused herself and left the room briefly, Steven turned to his sister, a huge smile plastered across his face. For a while they just looked at each other until Sara finally lost her patience.


"She's wonderful." He told her gently.

"I know." Sara smiled. She watched Steven shake his head at her slightly and wondered what was going through his head.

"And you didn't believe me." He accused playfully and grabbed his mug from the table.

"What are you talking about?"

"Didn't I tell you good things come to those who wait?" He winked at her.

"Well…" Sara leaned back on the couch smiling. "You told me a lot of things, Steve." She reminded her brother and watched him raise his eyebrows questioningly. "You told me there was Santa, that brown cows produce cocoa..." Steven chuckled quietly, shaking his head again. "You even told me that the gap between my teeth would close some day if I brushed them regularly."

Her brother nearly choked on his coffee. "You were five and wouldn't brush!"

"And you lied, knowing I'd believe anything you said." Sara mock pouted, not even noticing Catherine approaching.

"Oh come on," Steven was still trying to catch his breath again, "I told you some pretty cool stuff as well. Like how the Earth rotates."

"Yes. And guess how frustrating it was for me that I could never get up early enough to see our front yard out of the back window? Stop laughing!"

"Yeah." Steven croaked. "I still can't believe you majored in physics…" He managed to say before a small cushion hit him across the face. Still laughing he offered, "I don't know why you keep complaining about it. That gap was always charming."

"Right." Sara drawled.

"I like it." Catherine chimed in taking a seat next to her. Her eyes sparkling brightly, she smiled when Sara blushed a little and gently ran her hand across the brunette's back.

"See?" Steven smiled, hiding the cushion behind his back just in case.

"All right." Sara finally agreed, unable to stop grinning, "So you were right about a thing or two."

Steven glanced at his watch then into Sara's eyes again. His expression changed a little and she realized it was time, a sinking feeling settling unpleasantly in her stomach. A moment later the phone rang and Steven picked it up. Taking a deep breath Sara released it slowly watching his shoulders slump a little.

"My cab's here." He said turning around again.

Nodding, Sara got up from the couch. "I'll get your luggage." She left the room and Catherine stood up when Steven approached her.

"I'm really glad we've met, Catherine." He shook her hand warmly, "And I'm happy you and Sara found each other."

"Thank you." She smiled looking into suddenly saddened green eyes.

Steven surprised her by pulling her in a gentle hug. "Thank you," He told her quietly, "For making Sara so happy." He pulled away, slightly embarrassed by his unexpected action but Catherine's gentle smile told him she didn't mind. For a moment Catherine wondered how to respond, he seemed troubled and it was confusing her. Steven shrugged a little, lowering his gaze to the floor. "I hate leaving her to deal with our mother alone." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair, "But it's something she wants to do. I can't stop her even if I think it will only bring her more pain."

"She won't be alone, Steven." Catherine promised. He looked up when Catherine squeezed his arm. "I'm not letting her out of my sight."

He searched Catherine's eyes for a few moments and nodded slightly. For some reason Steven felt like he could trust her and it was making his decision to leave a little easier. Hearing Sara's approaching footsteps he gently pleaded with Catherine, "Please take care of her."

"I will."

Catherine's whisper sounded so genuine, her eyes were brimming with tears and Steven realized she really cared about his sister. He smiled and gently touched her shoulder before turning away and leaving. Grabbing his jacket he walked over to Sara to take the suitcase from her hand.

"Should I walk you to the car?" Sara asked walking behind him but Steven shook his head.

"Don't." He told her gently before opening the door and turned towards her, trying to smile. Sara stood in front of him, staring at the floor like a small child waiting to be punished and Steven thought his heart would surely break.

"I hate this." She murmured looking up.

"Me too."

Sara reached up to fix his collar, unable to think of anything to say without making things worse. She would have rather been anywhere else than right there, letting him go, hating not knowing when or if she might see her brother again.

"Do you still love Hesse?"

Taken by surprise, Sara blankly stared in his eyes.

Her brother's brow furrowed while he quickly searched his memory. "Since life may summon us at every age" He started reciting, "Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,"

Sara would have laughed if the tears weren't already choking her.

"Be ready bravely and without remorse" Steven chuckled when Sara shook her head at him, happy to see the beginnings of a smile on her face, "To find new light that old ties cannot give."

"I don't believe this…" She mumbled looking away; knowing Steven was expecting her to quote her own favorite part. It was a part of the game they used to play when she was still in school.

"Come on," Steven nudged her, "I know you still remember."

"I remember you used to joke about how depressing he is." Sara reminded him, "And now we're bidding farewell quoting his lyrics?"

Lifting his eyebrows and trying to look every bit as solemn as Sara used to look while reciting as a kid, he went on, "We must prepare for parting and leave taking or else remain the slaves of permanence." Receiving a playful slap on the arm for his efforts, Steven chuckled again when Sara shot him a death glare. He waited for her to play her role and Sara knew he was trying to make it easier for them both, but he couldn't fool her. He was after all a man who cried at her graduation and couldn't stop hugging her when she was leaving for Vegas so she almost missed her flight.

"If I don't show my ass at work tomorrow, I'll get fired, Sara." Steven told her as if reading her thoughts. "So if you're trying to get back at me…"

She heard the irritated honking of a car outside her building and snapped out of her haze. "Even the hour of our death may send…" She looked up into the green eyes, "…Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces, and life may summon us to newer races…" Her voice cracked and her brother crushed her in a hug. She felt tears sliding down her cheeks and struggled against sobs.

"So be it, heart: bid farewell without end." Steven finished for her, kissed her cheek and waited a moment for Sara to compose herself before letting go of her. "I'll call you when I get to Paris." He promised quietly and noticed Catherine standing near by, looking upset. He touched Sara's cheek with his hand and left hurriedly, leaving Sara to close the door after him.

Feeling Catherine's closeness without turning around, Sara closed the door and remained still, as if embarrassed to be seen vulnerable. Her back still to Catherine, she whispered brokenly, "Promise me something."

Catherine slowly made her way towards her lover. She carefully placed a hand on the small of Sara's back, "Anything."

"Promise me I'll never have to part from you." Sara asked in a small voice. She looked so fragile Catherine was almost afraid to touch her. Her breath hitched when the brunette made her gentle plea. She placed her hands on Sara's shoulders and gently turned the slender body so they were facing each other.

Cupping Sara's face, Catherine made sure to look into Sara's eyes while making her promise, "Not in this lifetime." She wrapped her arms around Sara and pulled her close, "Never again, I promise."


Chapter 34

The sun was already setting behind the trees and Catherine took her sunglasses off. She was hungry and tired and worried about her lover. Speeding down dusty roads for hours with nothing in sight but tumble weeds and the occasional gas station, Catherine kept glancing at the quiet woman next to her. Lost in thought, Sara kept silent for the better part of their ride from the airport and Catherine felt reluctant to start a conversation. They've had their share of eerie rides in the past but this one was different. Finally the blonde decided she couldn't take the silence any more.

"Earth to Sara…" She tried joking, her eyes never leaving the road.

"Huh?" Sara turned her head in surprise and their eyes met for a moment. "Sorry." She mumbled smiling a little. Catherine simply reached out to touch Sara's hand, smiling when Sara entwined their fingers.

"Are you nervous?" Catherine asked.

Sara just shrugged, looking away. "I guess." She admitted after a while, "I don't know what to expect. It's kind of unnerving." Catherine nodded silently and Sara brought their joined hands up to her lips, softly kissing the blonde's knuckles. "I'm glad you're here though."

"Me too." Not willing to go back to silence now that she had Sara's attention, Catherine cleared her throat a little. "You never told me what the doctor said over the phone yesterday."

"They've moved her to a different room so that they could watch her more closely." Sighing, Sara hung her head. "She has balance and coordination problems, difficulty with speech." She ran her hand through her hair and glanced out the window again, not really seeing anything but her own reflection. "She's half paralyzed, depressed and angry as hell. And I don't think I'll be able to change any of that."

The sadness in Sara's voice breaking her heart, Catherine sighed and gently squeezed the hand she was still holding. "Maybe not, but your presence should still make a difference." She didn't dare look at Sara but felt long fingers gently caress her palm.

"Things are rarely the way they should be." Sara mumbled more to herself.

Catherine didn't respond and for a while the silence stretched. She noticed almond trees in bloom in the distance and couldn't help but smile. "But sometimes…" She trailed off when Sara looked up and quickly leaned over to kiss the brunette's lips. "Sometimes people surprise you."

The first thing she noticed was the absence of handcuffs. Her mother was lying so still Sara had to come close just to make sure she was still breathing. Unsure of what to do, she pulled the chair closer to her mother's bed, quietly studying her face for a few moments before taking a seat.

Laura looked more pale than before, almost as if she might fade away under the sheets. Even in her sleep there were tiny shadows under her eyes and Sara briefly wondered if she ever had dreams that troubled her. Or maybe she found escape in sleep, the way Sara never could. Without thinking about it, she reached over and moved a strand of faded hair from her mother's face, realizing her hands were shaking. She slowly smoothened it towards Laura's temple, frozen when her mother opened her eyes.

If she was surprised to see her daughter again, Laura didn't show it. Proving her looks still belied her nature, she grabbed Sara's hand when Sara tried to move it away.

"I'm sorry." Sara mumbled, inwardly cursing her own moment of weakness.

"For touching me?" Her mother asked calmly, still holding her hand, "I'm not contagious."

Barely refraining from rolling her eyes, Sara took a breath to calm herself. "For waking you."

Nodding almost imperceptibly, Laura's eyes showed no emotion yet. "I'm a light sleeper these days." She said.

"Your hands are too warm." Sara noticed, frowning slightly.

"Were you hoping I'd be cold already?"

Becoming annoyed, Sara stood up and tried to pull her hand free but her mother wouldn't let her. She averted her eyes, anger swirling in the brown depths, and refused to look at her mother's face till she felt her fingers loosening their hold.

"Sit down, Sara." Her mother asked quietly when their eyes met again. She glanced towards the open door than shifted her gaze back to her daughter. "I see you've brought backup this time."

Lowering herself onto the chair again, Sara turned around, her features softening when she saw Catherine watching them from the hallway with her arms folded across her chest. The blonde woman was looking worried and Sara couldn't help blaming herself for that. They gazed into each other's eyes for a few moments till Sara smiled a little, a sense of calmness washing over her when Catherine smiled back.

When she turned to face her mother again fully expecting another vicious comment, she was surprised when none came. Laura's eyes were closed tightly, a small frown appeared on her forehead and Sara realized she had to be in pain.

"What's wrong?" She asked alarmed but her mother didn't answer right away. "Should I call someone?"

"Don't." Her mother croaked. The pain subsided as quickly as it appeared, but the green eyes seemed more distant than before.

Trying to relax again, Sara leaned back in her chair. "The doctors say you've been refusing to eat."

"You would be too."

Not exactly an answer Sara had been expecting. At least they were still talking, she thought bitterly. "Why are you not fighting this?" She asked quietly, hoping to get her mother to look at her again.

But Laura wouldn't. Her eyes were glazed as she kept staring out the window. "I'm tired, Sara." She finally offered.

Sara didn't know what to say. Her own grief pushed aside, she felt torn between the need to sympathize like she would with anyone in pain, and a deep desire to yell at her mother for daring to give up. Shaking her head in frustration she rubbed her face with her hands.

Before she had a chance to compose herself, Laura turned to look at her. "You seem to be anxious to see me back in the joint."

Sara actually smirked before looking away. It was definitely easier to keep barking at each other than deal with all the issues that would most likely stay between them forever. She sighed deeply, biting back all the sarcastic remarks just waiting to fall out of her mouth. "What happens when in five years you become eligible for parole?" She asked instead.

"You tell me, Sara." Her mother challenged, "What happens?" Striking green eyes narrowed a little when Sara looked up. The two women simply stared at each other for a long time and Sara wondered if she should even bother to respond. Laura's eyebrows lifted a little as she watched her daughter's blank expression. "Don't tell me you're volunteering to be a witness on my behalf?" She asked slowly, trying to ignore the numbness in her jaw that just wouldn't go away.

Sara didn't move an inch, she didn't even blink. It almost seemed the words meant to upset her never even reached her ears, so her mother just snorted a little before mumbling, "Didn't think so."

As another brief rush of pain shot through her body, Laura's face contorted with the effort to fight it back. Sara nearly jumped to her feet but her mother raised her hand to stop her. "Let me call someone." She asked and watched as Laura shook her head.


"You don't have to be in this much pain." Sara offered, wondering if her presence was making everything worse.

"Save it, Sara." Laura growled in a low voice. "Why do you care anyway?"

Sighing, Sara looked away. "Sometimes I wonder too."

They stayed silent for a while, Laura staring at the ceiling and Sara thinking how everything seemed different than the last time. Despite her mother's best efforts to piss her off and push her away, she felt more worried than angry and realized things might never get better, but perhaps that was something she could learn to accept. Maybe it was time to let go. Would that be the same as giving up?

"Why the sudden change of heart?" Laura asked as calmly as she could. Startled brown eyes met hers and then glanced away.

"Nothing's changed." She said quietly, not expecting to see so much resentment flaming in her mother's eyes.

"Don't you dare pity me." Laura coldly warned her but Sara didn't miss the hurt behind her words.

"Don't worry, I'd never do that." Sara shifted in her chair, "I know you too well."

The silence returned, Laura closed her eyes and appeared to be resting. After a while Sara almost started believing she had fallen asleep. She watched her mother's face, her earlier thoughts returning. Could letting go be described as a form of forgiveness? If she decided to no longer live in the shadows of her past, would it bring her peace?

Without moving or opening her eyes, her mother once again brought her attention back to the present. "Go back to your life, Sara." She told her quietly.

Sara noticed Laura's voice lacked its usual venom. Taking a moment to get over her surprise, she glanced towards the door. She did have a life to go back to and the thought made her smile.

"Are you going to fight this?" Sara asked one last time before leaving. Her mother didn't respond and Sara hung her head, certain no answer would come.

Her head snapped up when Laura finally uttered, "Maybe."

Nodding slowly, Sara realized that would have to be enough. She didn't really need more than that.

Getting up from her chair, she was stunned when her mother slowly reached out her hand. Once the uncertainty passed Sara moved closer and took the offered hand, her eyes meeting the green ones. She couldn't read the emotion they held and she wasn't sure what the gesture meant, but for those few moments it didn't really matter. The touch felt strange and familiar at the same time, neither of them ready to handle more closeness. Maybe sometime later in life, maybe not. But not right then.

She lightly squeezed the slender fingers before letting them go and quietly left the room.

Walking down the empty hallway, Sara's face broke into a smile when she noticed a lone figure standing next to the open window. It was getting dark outside, but the shape of the trees gracing the front of the hospital could still be seen.

Catherine's eyes were closed as she reveled in the cold air, enjoying the feel of the wind on her face. She wanted to be there for Sara but at the same time wanted to give her space, and not being sure what Sara needed more was driving her insane. She gasped in surprise when strong arms wrapped around her waist. Placing her arms over Sara's, Catherine leaned into the body behind her and smiled when the brunette kissed her cheek.

"Let's get out of here." Sara whispered in her ear.

Catherine turned around to face her lover and rested her arms on Sara's shoulders. "How did it go?" Her eyes kept searching Sara's face worriedly. The last time she checked things weren't looking good at all.

Sara just shrugged, "Okay, I guess." Her fingers gently brushed the blonde hair. "Could have been worse." A small lopsided grin appeared on her face.

"Ever the optimist, eh?" Catherine joked, relieved to see Sara smiling. For a while they just looked into each other's eyes before Catherine gently pulled her closer. "What happens now?"

Sara ran her fingers along Catherine's cheekbone, once again lost in that brilliant blue gaze she loved so much. "We go home." She whispered before cupping the back of Catherine's head and pulling her in for a long kiss.

"Are you sure you're ready to leave?" The blonde murmured softly, resting her forehead against Sara's. Moments later Catherine found herself wrapped in a hug.

"I'm sure I'm not ready to stay any longer." Sara mumbled into her hair, finally relaxing a little in her lover's arms.

"Baby, are you okay?"

"I will be." Sara promised. She closed her eyes when Catherine snuggled closer, hating herself for making her worry but knowing she never wanted to lie to her.

"You know I'm here for you, Sara." Catherine gently pulled away so she could look into the dark eyes. "I'll always be here for you."

"I know." Sara nodded. Her little grin turned into a gorgeous smile. Leaning down for another kiss, she murmured against the soft lips, "You're all I'll ever need." She couldn't tell what the future might bring her way, but no matter what happened Sara knew their love would keep her strong enough.

The End

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