DISCLAIMER: CSI is the property of CBS and Jerry Bruckheimer.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SERIES: Sixth part of the 'Stuck' series.
Stuck In Las Vegas
The third man in the ring makes boxing possible.
~ Joyce Carol Oates
I guess I should've told her the truth, but I couldn't.
I guess that makes me the bitch, huh?
But let me tell you, when Greg called? I didn't know what to think. He was rambling and crying and not making any sense whatsoever and if he knew I'm telling you this he'd kill himself. So what was I supposed to do?
I sent Greg home, I finished the scene, and I told Curtis shit that's what I did. So sue me.
I'd waited six years for a shot at that particular game; and I checked my odds, I placed my bet, and man, was THAT a bust. I know some would call me a Wonger, but no. No, that's not it at all... And hey, she went in feet first, no one held a gun to her head.
But Curtis... Now, that's another story. When I was waiting tables at the Suncoast? You saw sucker players like that all the time, stumbling shell-shocked from the pit... Well, any good gambler knows when to hold'em, and when to fold'em.
I reached down in my desk drawer and took out a flask. I poured a drink, closed my door, and pulled the blinds. When the knock came, I wasn't surprised.
She was doing her leaning thing in the door, and I must admit it was kind of cute, but I was tired and fucked up, and frankly? I'm too old for this shit.
"You know," I motioned to a chair, which she took. And as she sat down, I continued. "I used to drive up to Barstow for the night... But these days it seems nowhere is far enough away."
She looked at me warily, and her eyes kept dipping to my busted lip. That's right, you whimp. You HIT me. Damn right you should feel bad.
We stared at each other.
"I used to think her anger was her fuel," she looked away. "Propelling her forward..."
I kept my mouth shut.
"But now I realize it was only draining her, she's wasted so much energy being angry."
I couldn't help but snort.
"I wonder what else you two have in common..."
Her head snapped up, and she watched me cooly.
"The last time you said that, I didn't have a clue what the fuck you were saying. But now..."
I put on my glasses and rose, and slowly walked round to her side of the desk.
"Any good gambler," I said, "knows when to walk away from the table."
She reached out and touched my lip. It was no-nonsense, matter of fact, but surprisingly gentle.
"Looks better already," she stated.
"Is that your way of saying you're sorry, Curtis?"
A shadow of a smile flashed by, but she closed it.
"Maybe it is." She turned abruptly and walked out the door.
I looked at her hips swinging as she went away.
No joker, jack, king, OR queen can take this loser hand and make it win.
I stepped over to the door and peeked out. Across the corridor, I saw Sara and Grissom leaning over an evidence table, studying something through a magnifier. When Sara straigthened and stretched her back, our eyes met. Grissom said something and I could see her lips move as she replied, but her eyes were on me and the moment was oddly intimate.
After just a moment, though, her attention was back fully on him again, and I cringed as I saw him smile at her and her smiling back.
I closed the door and returned to my desk. Any good gambler knows you don't go after The Big Score if you really want to come away with more than you walked in with. I took another swig from the bottle, and this time, the knock surprised me.
"I saw Sofia in here... What did she want?"
"Oh, just something we had to clear up from the other day."
"Oh, yeah?" she tilted her head and squinted at me. "You sure about that?"
"Oh, honey, don't be paranoid," I tried my kindest smile and watched her slump down in the chair Sofia had just vacated.
And right then I knew I could stay like this for hours; Watching her fiddle with her car keys, push some stray locks behind her ear, she have such small ears... I had to close my eyes and take a deep breath to stop the onslaught of sights, sounds, and smells of us together. Memories of us hit me, shook me, left me nearly gasping. It's such a muddly line between the things you want and the things you have to do.
When I opened my eyes she was watching me silently.
"Anyway," she muttered. "I gotta run. I was hoping to catch Sofia before she..."
"Yeah, you do that."
I took off my glasses again, and folded my hands on my desk and stared at them for a long while. Sara didn't move, and I knew she didn't mind the quiet, she rested in it.
"Cath," she said finally. "Do you ever think about me?"
I looked away, and didn't answer.
"You better watch it, hon'," I said instead. "Curtis is SO mad at you..."
I watched in amazment and susprise as a smile started, twitching her lips, playing at the corner of her mouth, and slowly crept into place, settling, turning full-blown within seconds.
"I know," she grinned. "Hot, huh?"
I smiled back at her, God I've missed this.
"What happened to your lip?"
"Curtis," I chuckled.
"She did that?"
"Now, THAT's hot!"
I threw my head back and laughed, and soon we were both laughing. Laughing together for the first time since... Well, since ever.
She wiped at her eyes and smiled ruefully, and then she swirled her keys around, turned, and started to leave.
"Hey Sara," I called out, and she stopped, but didn't turn to look at me. "It's not about having what you want, it's wanting what you've got."
She snorted and gave me a small wave over her shoulder, and then she was gone.
I don't know how long I stayed in my chair, at my desk, in my office that morning. I heard the day shift come, and heard them go out on their assignments, but somehow, I couldn't find the energy to move.
Eventually, though, I dropped the now empty flask in the bin, and I guess I rose and straigtened my shirt and my slacks. I pulled up my hair in a ponytail and checked my make-up.
"Screw'em," I said out loud. "I'm going dancing."
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