DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to Jerry
Bruckheimer, CBS, and other people who aren't me.
This particular story is mine, and was written for fun,
not for profit.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: So, I finally got to watch #716, Monster in a Box, a few weeks ago, and I came up with this little scene. Many thanks to Erin Bree for beta-reading this. Any screw-ups I might've made changing this or that on my last edit are entirely my own. Feel free to point out any you spot.
SPOILERS: Up through and including Monster in a Box, #716. Mention of "A Bullet Runs Through It" from season six.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Good Ones
By Susan P
Sara entered the restroom and had to do a double take before she could take a step toward the nearest stall. The blonde was sitting on the floor near the sinks, back against the wall, knees drawn up to her chest and her arms wrapped around her shins. Her eyes shifted up just long enough to register who had entered, but she didn't meet Sara's eyes. She just went back to staring straight ahead.
Sara took in the lost look on Sofia's face, her bloodshot eyes, and turned back to flip the lock on the door, hoping that no one would come by for the next several minutes.
She said nothing, just crossed to the opposite wall and sank to the floor next to the despondent detective, close enough that their shoulders touched. She stretched her legs out in front of her, crossing one ankle over the other. She sat there in silence, trying to give Sofia the option to speak, or not, without any pressure.
Sofia remained silent for what seemed like several minutes, but she eventually spoke up.
"Did you know her?" she asked quietly.
"Kamen? We worked together a couple times. She seemed...nice." Sara shook her head at the lame description. "I didn't know her well, but she seemed like a good cop."
"For what?" Sara asked, honestly curious as to what Sofia might say. But the blonde didn't reply, just shook her head roughly, obviously struggling to keep it together.
Sara sighed, wishing she knew the perfect thing to say. Something to ease Sofia's conscience. Something to ease her own. After all, if they'd caught this murderer sooner--if they'd been better, smarter, or at least faster--then Kamen would never have been in that situation in the first place.
"Sofia, you may not want to listen to this, and it may not help, but I think you need to hear it." She tried not to flinch, and tried even harder not to react when Sofia did, knowing they were both thinking about those awful things she'd said to Sofia when she'd been so distraught after Bell's death, fearing it had been her bullet that killed him.
At the time, Sara had been trying to shock Sofia enough to get her to leave before she made things worse for herself, but Sara knew even then that she could've handled things with more compassion. She'd regretted the harsh words, even as they had come out of her mouth, and she still did. She knew that the whole incident still haunted Sofia, despite the fact that she'd been cleared in the end. And Sofia's flinch told Sara that her words had really hurt, and still did, no matter how far their relationship had come since then.
She was tempted to try to apologize for that, as well as every other time she had been cold toward the blonde, but she knew that it just wasn't the time. Her own guilty conscience would have to wait.
She looked over at Sofia, who was still staring straight ahead. "The only thing you're guilty of here is not being superhuman. Or psychic. There was no way you could have known what was happening."
The only reaction Sofia betrayed was the barest shake of her head.
Sara knew from her own experiences how powerfully guilt could grab hold of you in this job, and she knew just how hard it was to shake yourself free of it. She decided to take another tack, hoping that it would help, rather than make things worse. "Her eyes were open, right?"
Sofia closed her eyes tightly and choked out a "yes."
"Sofia," Sara continued gently, "If Officer Kamen was awake, and still unaware of what was happening to her, how could you be?"
Making this argument was a gamble, she knew. From what she knew of carbon monoxide poisoning, it was entirely possible that Kamen did experience some physical symptoms as a result of breathing in the gas. Symptoms that might have seemed fairly minor to her at the time, and that she might have chosen to ignore in favor of performing her assigned duties. Sara hoped that Sofia's anguish had prevented her from thinking the situation through to that degree, and that she might actually be able to find some comfort in her words.
"I should have..." Sofia started to object, but Sara cut her off.
"Should have what? Been there with her? If you had been, you still might not have been able to save her. In fact, there's a very good chance you would have died in that room with her. Then the force would be short two good officers, and..."
Sara blinked, feeling as though she'd been kicked in the gut at the mere thought of losing Sofia. "And I would probably be the one falling apart in the restroom," she finished quietly.
Sofia turned to look her in the eye for the first time, something akin to disbelief written plainly across her features. Sara wasn't sure she knew how to answer the questions in the blonde's eyes, but she couldn't help but respond to the need in them.
"C'mere." She threw her arm across Sofia's shoulders and gently pulled the blonde into an embrace. It was slightly awkward, given the way they were both positioned, so Sara reached over to pull Sofia's legs across her own, allowing the blonde to turn into her body more fully. Sofia burrowed into her shoulder and wrapped one long arm across her torso.
Sara had a sudden, and entirely inappropriate, vision of Sofia straddling her hips, and pulling her close for a soul-searing kiss. She closed her eyes and tried desperately to control her breathing as she felt the tightening in her groin. It really wasn't the time for those kind of thoughts.
As if to remind her of that fact, Sofia shuddered in her arms, finally letting go, silent tears sliding down her cheeks. Sara took one look at her anguished face and felt a surge of tenderness for Sofia that was just as strong as the surge of desire she'd felt a moment before. She wrapped her other arm around the blonde, holding her tightly.
They stayed like that for several minutes, until Sofia's tears stopped. Sara wiped them away tenderly, surprised when Sofia allowed it. Sofia made no move to pull away, seemingly content to remain cradled in Sara's embrace.
Sara was just thinking that it was lucky no one had come by to disturb them when the very thought seemed to cause the door to rattle from someone on the other side trying to get in.
Sara called out immediately, "Uh, could you come back in five minutes? I'm changing in here."
"Sara?" Catherine asked through the door.
"Yeah," Sara sighed, knowing how hard it would be to divert this particular co-worker.
"Well, hell, it's not like I've never seen you half-naked before. Or..."
"Catherine!" Sara broke in desperately, not wanting Catherine to finish that thought. "Please?"
She felt the blonde in her arms shift a little, and she loosened her grip to allow Sofia to pull back slightly. She spared a guilty glance at Sofia before looking back to the door, silently willing Catherine to just let it go.
The blonde on the other side of the door finally relented and called out, "You've got ten minutes, Sidle." Sara could tell from Catherine's tone that she wasn't angry, but it was obvious she suspected something was up. "And don't think you can get away without telling me what's really going on," Catherine added, confirming Sara's assessment.
Sara turned to find Sofia eyeing her curiously, one upraised eyebrow asking a silent question. Several silent questions, really, but one in particular.
"Um, she, uh..." Sara stammered, not at all sure she wanted to answer. After taking a moment to think it over, she decided to repay the trust Sofia had shown in her. "Let's just say that Catherine and I have...had our moments," she emphasized the last phrase, trying to make the implication clear.
Sofia just nodded and muttered a soft, "Ah," before slowly disentangling herself from Sara's body and wiping at the remnants of her tears.
Sara looked away, giving Sofia a moment to collect herself. She felt a little exposed after her own admission. She'd seen no judgment in Sofia's eyes, but she still had no idea what the repercussions might be for their still somewhat tentative friendship. She suddenly felt the urge to move, and got to her feet. She risked a glance at Sofia before extending a hand to help her up.
She was a little surprised when Sofia took her hand, and even more surprised when she continued to hold it, even after she was on her feet.
"Are you still?"
Sara was so focused on the feel of Sofia's hand in hers that the question took her by surprise. She frowned a moment, trying to figure out the seeming non sequitur, but ultimately gave up. "What?"
"Oh! With..." Sara made a vague gesture toward the door. "Um, no. Not for a while, now."
There was something in Sofia's eyes that looked almost like satisfaction, but she merely nodded and asked, "What happened?"
"It...played itself out." There was a longer version of what had happened between her and Catherine, but they didn't really have time to get into it. "Um, I know she said ten minutes, but we'll probably be lucky to get five, before she..."
Sofia nodded, as though she'd expected as much. "What will you tell her?"
"The truth would be best, if that's okay with you. Catherine can keep it to herself. She just hates feeling left out of the loop."
"I've noticed that about her." Sofia's smirk was almost back to full strength, and Sara took it as a good sign.
She reached up and brushed a lock of Sofia's hair back, trying to make the move seem casual even as she fought the urge to run her fingers across the smooth skin of Sofia's cheek. "You should probably wash your face before you leave here."
"Sara?" Sofia looked at her as though she had a lot to say but, after a long moment, she just stepped into Sara's body and pulled the brunette into a tight embrace before whispering a quiet 'thank you' against her ear.
Sara returned the embrace fervently, recognizing that she needed the comfort and the closeness at least as much as Sofia did.
The two pulled away reluctantly after a minute or two, and Sara forced herself to take a step back. "Um, I'll go see if I can head Catherine off at the pass."
"I would appreciate that."
Sara turned toward the door, but turned back before she reached it. "Sofia? I could..." she trailed off, feeling suddenly awkward and foolish. "I mean..." Frustrated with herself, she squared her shoulders and forced herself to look the blonde in the eye. "I could go with you, to the funeral. If it would help?"
Sofia looked as though she might refuse, at first, but then she seemed to crumple a little at the thought of Kamen's funeral. "I-- It would, I think. If it wouldn't be?"
"It wouldn't be," Sara answered simply. "I'll pick you up."
"Okay," Sofia nodded.
"Okay. I'll, uh, see you later."
The blonde just nodded before stepping over to the sink and turning on the tap. Sara stared at her back a few precious seconds before slipping out into the hallway.
Once there, she slumped against the nearest wall, feeling suddenly out-of-breath for reasons she wasn't quite ready to acknowledge. She couldn't shake the absurd feeling that she'd just asked the other woman out on a date--to a funeral, no less!
She didn't want to think about that, nor did she want to think about how good--how absolutely right--it had felt holding Sofia, being in her arms. Having the occasional sweaty interlude with Catherine was one thing, but this was different, somehow. Complicated. Scary. And she wasn't sure she could handle either, at the moment.
She let her head fall back against the wall, and concentrated on breathing deeply, trying to compose herself before Catherine showed up. As if on cue, Sara heard the sound of Catherine's heels clicking along the hallway, coming toward her. She blew out a breath and pushed off the wall. When Catherine drew even with her, Sara started walking, motioning with her head for Catherine to follow.
"So, are you okay?"
There was genuine concern in Catherine's voice, and Sara couldn't help but smile in response. "Yeah. I'm okay."
"So, what was going on in the bathroom?"
Sara sighed. "It's Sofia. She's...having a rough time."
"Is she gonna be all right?"
"Given time. She feels responsible."
"The good ones always do. It's hard not to, sometimes."
They walked on in silence for a moment before Catherine spoke again. "It's good you were there for her."
Her tone said she knew something, but Sara wasn't sure she wanted to give her any ammunition, so she just shrugged.
They walked along for several more steps before Catherine gently bumped shoulders with her. "So," she drew the word out, "how are you?"
"I--" Sara started, but she wasn't at all sure how to answer the question. There was just too much going on in her head for her to sort it all out, just yet. Finally, she decided upon something she hoped would be a safer topic. "I offered to go to the funeral with her. Do you think that will look...weird?"
"To whom?" Catherine asked, studying Sara's profile. She came to a stop and waited until Sara turned to face her. "A: This is Vegas. Weird is in the eye of the beholder. B: It's a funeral. No one there should be paying that much attention to who walks in the door with whom and, if they are, they probably shouldn't be there in the first place."
Catherine put a hand on her shoulder and met her gaze steadily. "Sara, if Sofia wants you at her side, then maybe that's where you should be."
Sara opened her mouth, then closed it, twice. That was the thing about Catherine: she could be nearly oblivious one moment, and then too damned perceptive the next. Leave it to Cath to see what was going on, when Sara was still trying to deny it.
"Cath," she finally managed, placing her hand over Catherine's. "I...really need to go to the bathroom." It wasn't what she had started to say, but she wasn't sure she had the energy for any more serious conversation today, and it was not merely an evasion.
She couldn't help but roll her eyes at the look on Catherine's face, which was caught somewhere between puzzled and amused, her brow furrowed, but her lips already turning up into a smirk.
Sara made a vague gesture with the hand that had just been covering Catherine's. "I went in, and she was... And I never..."
Catherine's smirk grew into a full-fledged smile that had 'You got it bad, girl' written all over it. Thankfully, she didn't give the thought voice. She just nodded her head back in the opposite direction. "Go."
Sara had already taken two steps down the hall, heading for the restroom, when Catherine called out, "You need me, you know how to find me."
Sara threw a quick look over her shoulder as she hurried back down the hall. "Thanks, Cath."
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