DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Though I wouldn't mind.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I tried. The muse was fairly cooperative, hence this. Enjoy!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Tears That Never Came
"Call me if you need anything?" Catherine was reluctant to let go of the woman in her arms. It was entirely too comfortable to stay in the hug.
"Promise," Sara leaned down to kiss Catherine's cheek. "You better get going or else "
"Or else what?" the blonde started drawing lazy circles on Sara's chest. "Gonna tie me to the bed?" Like you did five hours ago, she mentally added.
"Or else you'd have to explain to Grissom why you're wearing yesterday's clothes when he sent you home early," Sara couldn't help but smirk.
"Well " Catherine's words died off when Sara's lips connected with hers. "We could show him."
Eyes wide, Sara loosened her hold on the other woman. "Ugh, disturbing thoughts."
Chuckling softly, Catherine finally let go of Sara. "I guess I better go."
"Don't worry, I'm just going for a short hike," she assured the blonde as they stood at the door. "It'll be nice to get some fresh air, you know?"
Nodding in agreement, Catherine left Sara's apartment with a smile plastered on her face. The extra spring in her step was just for Sara, a token of appreciation for all the woman had done the previous night.
When Sara had parked the car at a safe spot, she took in the view in front of her. She gathered the small backpack from the front passenger seat and started her impromptu relaxation trip. As she was about to finish her hike, a sharp scream shattered the quiet desert.
"Help!" The scream was followed by a loud thud, then silence returned.
Even with the sunset glow, it was hard for Sara to locate the source of the commotion. From afar, she saw a body sprawled motionless on its back and sprinted toward the body to seek out a pulse. Without looking, the CSI hit speed dial No. 5, willing the phone to connect.
"Jim, it's Sara. I need you to send an ambulance to..." she continued to relay the details to him but her attention was on the body. "Yeah, she's alive, but barely."
Sara slipped the phone back into her pocket just as the person was coming around. Giving her a quick once-over, Sara prayed for the ambulance to get here soon.
"Whoa, take it easy," she wanted to hold her down to keep her steady, but her CSI mind reminded her to preserve the evidence as much as possible. "Sit up slowly."
"Please, you have to help me," she begged.
"Ok, what's your name?"
"A Amanda Sterling. My friends call me Mandy," she answered slowly. As though her brain just had caught on to reality, she started shaking. "You have to help me. Jet's going to kill me. He killed the others."
"Wait a minute. Others?" Briefly, the pang of fear sprinted through Sara. Shaking off the shivers, she focused her attention back to the woman.
"H Henry and Donna. She's his fiancée." On cue, the water works began.
Before Sara could offer comforting words, the sounds of speeding cars distracted her. She flagged them down, directing the paramedics toward the woman as she sought out a familiar face.
"Can't stop working even when you're on vacation, huh?" Brass kidded with her.
"You know me, ever the workaholic."
"So what do we have here?"
"Caucasian female, mid-20s. I was finishing my hike when I heard her scream. She was unconscious when I found her. She came around not long after I ended our call."
The veteran detective nodded his head as he scribbled down Sara's statement. "Did she tell you anything?"
"Her name's Amanda Sterling. She was here with a few others," Sara went quiet for a moment. "We're looking at a double homicide and a murder suspect on the loose."
"Jesus," Brass sighed.
"He still might be in the area. If we do a search right now, we might get this guy."
Without a word more, the detective made a few calls. He wasn't surprised to find the CSI hovering close to the victim.
"Sara, can I talk to you for a moment?"
"One second, Jim," she said as she turned back to the woman. "I'll see you at the hospital, ok? I'm just going to take care of a few things here."
"No! Please, stay with me," the woman pleaded with her. "Please."
Before Sara could reply, a group of four approached them. Instantly she recognized her co-workers and walked up to them. "Hey guys."
Nick, being the good friend that he is, dropped his kit and was by her side in the matter of seconds. "What are you doing here, Sara? Are you hurt?"
"No, Nick, I'm not. Thanks for asking, though," Sara smiled weakly, her gaze fixed on Catherine.
"So what are you doing here?" Grissom asked.
"Miss Adventure here called it in. We've got two DBs and a suspect to look for in this lovely desert this evening," Brass gestured around them.
"Let's get to work then," Grissom walked away, taking the other two CSIs and Brass with him.
Catherine stood in front of Sara, unsure of what to say. She desperately wanted to pull the other woman in her arms but refrained from doing so.
"I thought I told you to stay out of trouble," the blonde joked lightly.
"Yeah well, you know me, ever the overachiever."
"Hey," Catherine took a step closer so that nobody could eavesdrop on their conversation. "How are you holding up?"
A tap on Sara's shoulder effectively ended the conversation. "Ma'am, we're ready to go."
"I'll be right there," Sara told the female medic, hastily moving away from Catherine when they were alone again.
"Wait, where are you going?" Catherine called out to the other woman.
"Riding in the ambulance with Mandy."
"Who's Mandy?" Catherine asked but there was no answer. Dejected, she turned around to meet Grissom's curious gaze. "Sara's gonna ride in the ambulance with the victim."
"I suggest you make a trip to the hospital as well," he told her simply. "For evidence."
"And take Sara's car with you. You're the only one that didn't drive here."
"We got something!" A cadet managed to yell out before throwing up in a nearby bush.
"What the hell happened here?" Warrick asked out loud as they surveyed the scene in front of them.
"That's why we're here to find out," Grissom calmly took in his latest crime scene.
Two bodies lay next to each other, spread eagle. Their clothes soaked crimson, and the wounds on their body indicated to the CSIs that they were stabbed and most likely had bled to death. Most of the camping gear was still in place, and the campfire had died out long ago. What caught the CSIs and the coroner's attention, though, was the matching slits on the throat.
"Let's get to work," the graveyard shift supervisor told the other two men.
Catherine, on the other hand, tried to focus on her driving as she followed behind the ambulance. Her mind kept replaying the image of Sara holding onto the victim's hand as they got into the ambulance. When she arrived at the hospital, she watched from afar as Sara sat on a chair beside the victim's bed.
"Excuse me," Catherine lightly tapped on the door to catch the women's attention. "My name is Catherine Willows and I'm from the Crime Lab. Miss Amanda Sterling?"
"Y-yes," the blonde answered cautiously as she looked at Sara for some recognition.
"Mandy," the younger CSI called out to the victim. "Catherine is my co-worker and she's here to collect evidence from you so that we may know what happened. Can you do that for us?
"But but why? I already told you what happened," the victim claimed. "Isn't that enough?"
Sara chanced a look at the other CSI then. They've had to deal with situations like this before and it wasn't easy to explain it away. She sat forward in her seat, closing the distance between her and the woman in bed.
"The more we have, the stronger the case will be," Sara chose her words carefully. The last thing she wanted was for the victim to start crying again. "The evidence will help strengthen the case and make sure whoever's responsible will not be able to get away so easily."
She nodded, accepting the explanation without further questioning. "Ok."
Catching Catherine's gaze, Sara stood up but was stopped by a hand on her forearm.
"Do you have to go?" Mandy turned to look at Catherine. "Can she stay?"
"Mandy, I'll just be right outside," she reasoned with her. "It won't take long."
To say that Catherine was annoyed at how clingy the victim had become was a gross understatement. She particularly didn't liked how her lover did not flinch away from the other woman's touch.
"Shall we?" Catherine reined in her emotions and snapped on a pair of gloves.
Working in silence, the blonde could not shake the uneasy feeling that had been bothering her since she arrived at the crime scene. Something about the victim that seemed off yet she could not figure out what it was.
"Miss Sterling? Thank you for your patience, we're all done now," the CSI said politely as she fished out a card from her pocket. "The number on the card is for a counselor if you need one."
By the time Catherine had finished packing up, Mandy was already snoring lightly. The CSI figured the day finally had caught up with the other woman and so she left the room as quietly as possible. As soon as she left the hospital room, she spied Sara's sleeping form shifting uncomfortably in the waiting lounge.
"Sara? Baby? It's time to go." Her heart skipped a beat when chocolate brown eyes blinked into focus. "There you are."
"Sorry I fell asleep. How was it?" Sara asked as she tried to stretch.
Mesmerized by the sight in front of her, Catherine could not help but lean forward and capture Sara's lips in a kiss. She deepened the kiss, grateful that there was no distraction.
"And a hello to you too," the brunette breathed heavily as she regained composure. "Not that I'm complaining, but what was that for?"
"Just my way of letting my absolutely amazing girlfriend know I miss her," Catherine answered with a smirk.
"Oh," Sara blushed when she heard the words.
When Catherine realized she wasn't going to get an answer from Sara, she picked up her kit and led the other woman toward the parking lot.
"What's wrong?" Catherine got worried when she saw Sara looking out of the car window, deep in thought.
"I'm your girlfriend?" The question whispered so softly the blonde had to strain to catch it.
"Girlfriend, lover, partner," Catherine sprouted off. "Each and every word in the English language that says you're mine."
"What about " There was a tinge of nervousness to Sara's voice and Catherine found it strangely endearing. "What about parent to your child?"
"Aren't we getting ahead of ourselves here?"
"I I'm sorry," Sara began as she realized her mistake, missing the comforting hand on her shoulder. "It's just that I've had a lot of time to think and I thought "
"Sara, honey, look at me," the blonde reached over to get Sara to turn around as she parked the car in the lab's parking lot. "There's nothing more that I would love than to have you for the rest of my life."
"But let's be realistic. We can't say that we'll be together forever," Catherine realized how her words sounded so she quickly set out to rectify the situation. "The most we can do is try."
"Then I want to try," Sara said out loud, more to convince herself than Catherine.
"That's all I need," Catherine reached out to cup Sara's cheek with both hands, drawing the brunette in for a searing kiss.
When the two women finally came up for air, they weren't surprised to find that they've been in the car for quite some time. Reluctantly, Catherine and Sara got out of the car. The older CSI collected her kit and the evidence bags from the back seat and stood in front of her co-worker.
"Call me?" She tried to push away the bubble of unknown but she wasn't as strong.
Unsure of what to say, Sara nodded. She held Catherine's hand in hers, loving the feel of soft skin on hers.
"Count on it."
It was silly, Catherine chastised herself as she watched Sara drive away. Yet she could not shake the queasy feeling off. She knew she was being realistic when she told Sara her little speech about forever. The look on the other woman's face, though, made her feel like dirt.
She had no doubt that Sara would make good on her word. It was not Sara that had Catherine worried but rather her own insecurities.
When Sara had gotten home, the first thing she did was hit the showers. Hospital smells reminded her of her checkered past and it was the last thing she needed right now.
"Get a grip," she mentally told herself as trembling fingers reached for the shampoo. A distant memory crept to her conscious mind, paralyzing her brain with vivid images of a young Sara.
As she dried her hair and prepared for bed, Sara thought about calling Catherine. She desperately wanted to talk to the other woman, because she knew Catherine always would be an anchor to her fleeting life.
Instead, Sara grabbed a beer from her fridge and settled down on her armchair. The past few days' events slowly came back to her as she contemplated on the recent development of her relationship with Catherine.
Finding that she could no longer fight off sleep any longer, the brunette drained the last of her beer and climbed into bed. Sleep came almost immediately for her, affording her with a few hours of peace.
Meanwhile back at the lab, the CSIs were about to wrap up their meeting on their latest case. Pages of lab test results were strewn across the table as the group tried to grasp the facts of the case.
"So how long till we get to talk to this Jet guy?" Nick asked as Catherine finished giving her report on the evidence she got from Mandy.
"Not for another 12 or so hours, I'm afraid," Grissom answered.
"Dude must have hit up pretty good," Warrick pointed out simply.
"We found traces of Rohypnol in the beer bottles next to the body. As to how much or if they ever consumed it, we'll just have to wait for the tox screen from Doc."
The CSIs got up to leave the room, but Grissom stopped Catherine on her way out. He motioned for her to follow him, much to her annoyance. She was aching to hear Sara's voice again and was planning on calling the brunette.
"So she's kicking and screaming about her time off then," he said.
"I'm surprised that she hasn't tried to sneak into the lab and work," Catherine joked.
"Who knows, she might have done that already," Grissom pointed out.
"What are you saying, Gil?" It was then that the realization hit. "You're worried about her."
"Yes, of course. She's one of my CSI," he said as he took off his glasses.
"It doesn't matter now," he told her.
Sensing that it was something her friend did not want to discuss, Catherine veered the conversation to safer grounds. "Don't worry, I'll take good care of her."
"Thanks. If there's anyone that can take care of her, it's you."
"I'll take that as a compliment for my mothering skills," she said. "Anyhow, there's something off about the victim."
He was silently glad for the change of topic. Gil Grissom never was one to openly discuss his relationships, even though the other person was his close friend.
"I don't know how to explain it," she began. "Her actions seemed stiff, somehow."
"Follow the evidence, Catherine."
"Right now the evidence isn't telling much," she countered.
"Which reminds me, I need to get to the morgue to see Doc Robbins," Grissom told her as he headed out of his office. "Update me when you find out more about the victims."
She went back to her own office then, eager to find out more about the victims, especially Mandy. Catherine tried to push away the nagging feeling she had about the case, forcing herself to remain objective. Two hours later, a soft knock on her door alerted her of a new arrival.
"Hey Cath, do you have that file on our male victim?" Nick asked as she motioned for him to sit down.
"Henry Desmond, 28, high and mighty stock broker. Last known address is in Henderson." She handed the file over to him.
"What about the suspect?"
"Jet Desmond, 32, security supervisor for a local bank. Same address as Henry," she read from another file.
"So Mandy's with Jet and Henry's with Donna," he thought out loud.
"From what she told Sara, Henry and Donna just got engaged."
"You know, this case is starting to look pretty cut and dry to me. Why are we all on this case?" Nick asked.
"Remember Grissom's motto, Nick."
"I know, I know. Follow the evidence," he said. "Right now, the evidence is telling us Jet killed his brother and the fiancée because he was high on drugs."
"There's more to it, Nick. We also need to find out why," she reminded him.
"Yeah well until Mr. Roofie comes back to reality, there's nothing much we can do about that," he said simply.
"In the mean time, we need to find out as much as we can about their lives. Call it gut instinct, but there's something more to this case. We just have to find it."
"I for one won't be surprised if there are a few skeletons in their closet," Nick told her.
"Everyone has a skeleton in their closet," she commented.
"I better go, Warrick and I are working on the stuff from the crime scene."
"Let me know if you two came up with something," she said to his retreating back.
When she had made sure the door was closed and nobody was going to barge in any time soon, Catherine picked up the phone and started to dial Sara's cell phone number. Her hope faded when the call went unanswered, so Catherine waited for the voice mail to finish playing before leaving a message.
"Hi there, just called to see how you're doing but apparently you're busy. Hope you've gotten lots of rest. I'm heading home now so call me when you get this message. Bye."
After she ended the phone call, Catherine packed up and headed for home. For once, she would leave the lab on time.
"Hey Sara, Brass here."
"What can I do for you, Brass?"
"Listen, the victim is being real uncooperative at the moment," his gruffy voice was drowned out by a string of angry words in the background.
"Sounds like you're having a ball there, Jim."
"Yeah. Miss Sterling here refused to talk to any of us and I quote 'God's worst creation.' That, and she's been asking for you," he told her.
"Okay," she hesitated for a moment.
"Think you could come down here and help us out?"
"Give me some time." Sara ended the call then, already putting on a top and her jeans before darting out of the door.
As soon as Sara stepped out of the elevator 20 minutes later, she was met with Brass and another detective.
"Thanks for bailing me out, Sara. Let me introduce, this is detective Elizabeth Conroy," he motioned to the woman next to him. "She'll be taking the victim's statement."
"Hi," Sara extended her hand to the other woman. "So what's the story?"
"Our vic seems to have a slight dislike for the male species," Brass began. "Every officer, doctor, nurse and orderly that has different body parts than hers are automatically deemed the Devil."
"Ah, so you need a feminine touch then," Sara smirked.
"Yeah, apparently she doesn't like me in tights," he countered. "Plus she trusts you."
"Have you tried to talk to her yet?" Sara asked the other detective.
"I did, but she would not say anything unless you're there," Conroy replied.
Detecting a slight annoyance in the female detective's tone, Sara went into work mode. "Let's blow this joint, shall we?"
Knocking lightly on the door, she heard Mandy's voice before they even entered the room.
"How many times do I have to tell you imbeciles that I'm not talking to anyone unless it's " the rest of the heated sentence was cut off when she saw Sara's figure at the doorway. "Sara!"
"You were saying?" Sara smiled when she saw Mandy blush a little.
"I'm sorry, it's just that "
"Hey, it's ok," the CSI moved closer to comfort the blonde. "You have nothing to apologize for."
Remembering the detective, Sara took a step back and motioned to the other person in the room. "I trust that you've met Detective Conroy?"
"We did," Mandy said shyly. "I'm sorry about earlier."
"Don't worry about it," Conroy smiled a little to take the sting out of the situation. "Shall we?"
"Where should I begin?" the blonde asked wearily.
"Tell us what the four of you were doing there," the detective said as she took her notepad out.
"Well it was a last minute kind of thing," Mandy began. "We were there to celebrate Henry and Donna's engagement."
"Did you guys drink much?" Conroy continued to scribble on the notepad as she focused her gaze on the victim.
"There was the bottle of champagne, then the 12-pack," she answered.
"Do you remember who bought the alcohol, Mandy?" Sara threw in a question as she stood at the foot of the bed.
"Jet did. He was the one who took care of the drinks while Henry took care of the camping stuff."
"Go on," the detective urged Mandy.
"I get a call from Jet around 2, telling me to pack an overnight bag and get some groceries because we were going to celebrate the engagement so I did."
"What time did you get to his place?" Conroy asked.
"Around 4. He had me take care of the food while we waited for Henry and Donna to get home. When they got there, the guys did the rest of the loading while Donna and I chatted about their plans."
"What happened after that?"
"We got there around 6 in the evening and we started partying right after the guys had set everything up," she continued. "I wasn't feeling too well so I didn't drink as much. By the time we went to sleep, the sun was already up."
"Do you want to stop, Miss Sterling?" Conroy asked when she saw the blonde shaking slightly.
"No no I'm fine. And please, call me Mandy," she smiled then.
"So what happened next, Mandy?" the detective noted the way Mandy looked at Sara before answering a question, as though seeking approval.
"I-I woke up and I saw " her voice trailed off as the water works began.
"It's ok, take your time," Conroy told her.
Taking a deep breath as her sobs slowly died down, Mandy accepted the tissue from Sara and wiped her cheeks. "I saw Henry and Donna and there was so much blood "
"Why don't we take a break?" Sara offered.
"I turned around and I saw Jet with that knife in his hands and I just ran," Mandy continued as though she had not heard Sara's question.
"And then what happened?" the detective prodded further.
"I just kept running. I-I was so scared I didn't know where I was headed," the victim stammered. "That's when I saw Sara."
"Anything else you want to add, Mandy?" Conroy asked as she wrapped up the interview. Upon seeing the negative nod, she closed her notepad and stood up. "All right, I think that's it for now. Thank you for your time, Mandy. Do you have family that you can stay with for a few days?"
"Not really," Mandy shrugged. "I guess I could try to call up a friend and see if they can put me up for a few days."
"That would be advisable. Sara, can I talk to you for a second?"
"I'll be right back," the CSI told Mandy as she followed Conroy out. When the two were in the hallway, Sara rested against the wall. "What's up?"
"You know, this case is by far the most complicated this week," Conroy chuckled softly.
"By saying that, you probably jinxed yourself," Sara joked back.
"Story of my life."
"Not that I don't enjoy my time with you, but is there a reason to this conversation?" the CSI eyed the blonde in front of her.
"Actually, yes. What do you think of the case?"
Sara thought about the question for a while. "Should we be discussing it? I mean I'm a witness in the case, after all."
"Off the record, Sara," the detective told her.
"I think it was a party gone wrong," she began. "Booze, drugs and sex is always a lethal combination."
"Hey it worked for Mick and Steve," Conroy joked. "I better get going or else all the doughnuts will be gone."
"Can't help you there, I'm afraid."
With a departing chuckle, Conroy bade Sara goodbye and left the hospital. As Sara headed back to Mandy's room, she tried not to think about the case.
"Hey there," she announced her arrival as she stepped into the room.
"Did Detective Conroy get all she needed?" Mandy asked.
"Yeah, she did," Sara fidgeted as she stood at the foot of the bed. "Listen, I have to go. If there's anything else you remember, don't hesitate to call Detective Conroy or Catherine, ok?"
"You have the number for the counselor?" At Mandy's nod, Sara continued. "Take care of yourself."
"Will I see you again? I-I was " the blonde waved off the rest of her sentence. "You know what, it's silly so just forget about it."
Unsure of what to do, Sara smiled to take away the tension in the room. "Take it easy, ok?"
"I feel so useless," Mandy chastised herself.
"Don't be. You went through a traumatic experience and it's natural to feel that way," Sara reasoned with the blonde.
"Thanks, that made me feel better." The sarcastic tone was not lost on both women. "Sorry."
"I'm going to go now. Get well soon," Sara told the blonde as she left the room.
As soon as Sara had climbed into her car, she reached for her cell phone. Frowning when she saw that she had a missed call, she smiled when she saw who the caller was. Hitting the speed dial button, she waited patiently for the line to connect.
"Hello there," Sara purred.
"Hello indeed," Catherine smiled.
"Sorry I didn't call you back sooner. I was helping Brass out."
If Catherine was surprised, she didn't show. "Not a problem. You home?"
"Why, is that a proposition, Miss Willows?" the brunette teased.
"That's a promise, my dear," Catherine smirked in reply. She used her shoulder to hold the phone in place while she contemplated what she wanted to wear.
"I'm about 20 minutes away from home." At the slight noise in the background, Sara asked, "Where are you?"
"At home, trying to find something to wear," the blonde added as she put on a blue button down shirt.
"I'll get the food," Sara informed her lover. "You just worry about getting to my place."
"Yes, Ma'am." With that, Catherine ended the call and finished up changing. She took one last look at the mirror, making sure everything looked presentable before leaving the house.
She was glad that Lindsey was still at school. As much as Catherine loved to spend time with her daughter, she learned that she very much enjoyed Sara's company.
When the blonde pulled up in front of the familiar apartment building, she felt her stomach flutter. After checking her reflection in the mirror for the umpteenth time, Catherine finally got out of the car.
"Sara, it's me," Catherine knocked on the door to announce her arrival.
The door swung opened, revealing a Sara clad in T-shirt and sweatpants. She smiled when she saw Catherine, and stepped aside to let the woman in. As soon as the door was closed, a pair of hands spun her around and pushed her against the door.
Pinned with nowhere to go, Sara was surprised by the pair of lips on her mouth. Hot, wet and delicious lips left a trail on the brunette's neck soon after, robbing her of her breath.
"I missed you," Catherine told the woman when they pulled away for air.
"Aren't we clingy today?" Sara teased.
"Well when I decide on something, I go all the way."
"All the way, huh? Interesting outlook on life, not to mention your choice in words."
"You should know, you have first hand knowledge," Catherine grinned when she saw Sara blush.
"Come on, I'm hungry," Sara took a step back and dragged the other woman toward the kitchen.
"For food or something else?" Catherine winked at her lover.
Face flushed, Sara took a while before responding. "Guess I walked right into that one."
Neither woman said a word after that, Sara busy with setting the table while Catherine watched her. The tall brunette was breathtaking when she's relaxed, Catherine decided. They ate in silence, both enjoying each other's company.
She cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher with dirty dishes when they were done eating. Patting the spot next to her on the couch, Catherine gladly accepted the invitation to sit next to Sara.
"This is nice," the blonde said as she shifted so she was half lying on top of Sara.
"Won't hear me complain, that's for sure."
After a stretch of silence, Catherine spoke up. "So, want to tell me what was it Brass had you do for him?"
"Ah, I was wondering when you'll ask me about that," Sara smiled a little.
"Why does it matter so much to you?"
The blonde took a deep breath. "I just the other day when they called in the 10-13 and I found out it was you I just about lost it."
"Hey, look at me," Sara cupped Catherine's cheek to get her to look up. "I'm a little worse for the wear but other than fatigue there's nothing wrong with me."
"I know that but still " A single tear made its way down Catherine's cheek, and Sara moved to wipe it away.
"I wished I knew how to make it better but I don't," Sara said simply.
But there was no reply to that, Sara found out as Catherine had fallen asleep on her again. She cradled the blonde close and stood up, careful not to lose her balance. Slowly she made her way to the bed before placing a slumbering Catherine underneath comfortable covers.
"Sweet dreams," Sara whispered to her bedmate as she kissed a tear-stained cheek.
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