DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters or CSI. I am just letting them out of the box for a while.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Passing reference to Grave Danger.
What Goes Unsaid
"You doing OK?"
Jim Brass and Sara Sidle were walking down the hall of the Las Vegas Police Department. They had just coaxed a confession out of a two bit burglar responsible for a number of thefts over the last several weeks.
Sara looked at Brass and nodded her head, "Yeah, I'm OK."
Not at all convinced, Jim asked, "Have you been paired with her on any cases?"
Sara sighed and looked away. "No. Well, once. I traded cases with Nick. I just can't face her yet."
"It's gonna take some time, kiddo."
"That's what I hear," Sara said with a pained smile.
Jim Brass was the only person who had known of Sara and Catherine's short relationship. The two had been secretly dating for three months when Catherine had abruptly ended things with Sara, without so much as an explanation.
Brass put a fatherly hand on Sara's shoulder. "She's an idiot, Sara."
Sara chuckled humorlessly. "No. I'm the idiot for ever thinking....." Sara trailed off as she looked at anything other than her friend.
"Just leave it, Jim. Please."
As they continued to walk, Sara thought about the brief happiness she had experienced over the last several months. She and Catherine had slowly gravitated toward each other after Nick had been abducted. Things had started with the occasional breakfast after a long shift and had gradually grown into lunches and dinners that they both studiously avoided labeling as 'dates'.
One night after a dinner when they had both had the evening off, Sara had spontaneously kissed the redhead. After ending the kiss, Sara had taken a step back, expecting a slap in the face. Instead, Catherine had closed the distance between them and attacked the younger woman's lips with a fervor.
The months that followed were intense. The two women seemed to be forging a relationship that would last. Or so Sara thought. She had never felt so much for a person before and had finally thought something was working out for her for a change. Until the night Catherine had simply told her that it was over. The older woman had offered no explanation other than 'this just isn't working for me' and Sara had returned to her lonely apartment and had tried desperately to figure out what she had done wrong.
Trying to shake herself from her morose thoughts, Sara glanced to her right and saw a young boy alone in an interrogation room. Something about the boy made Sara stop. "Who is that?"
Jim Brass followed Sara's gaze to the boy. "Uniforms picked him up a few hours ago. He ran away from an orphanage across town. He's cooling his heels in there until his social worker comes by to take him back."
Sara looked at the boy's slumped shoulders as he stared at the empty table in front of him. She was struck by how much she was reminded of her own youth, hours spent waiting to be transferred from one foster home to the next, assuming one was available. Otherwise, she had been shipped off to one group home or another waiting for those illusive adoptive parents to come sweep her off to a better life.
Sara turned to Jim and said, "Why don't you go on ahead? I'm just going to check on him."
"You want me to wait?"
"No. I'm good. I'll see you later."
Sara watched Jim disappear down the hall. She was glad she had confided in Brass when her relationship with Catherine had become intimate. Having someone to talk to had been helpful. She tried not to think about what she wold have done if no one had known about her relationship with Catherine. She would truly have been alone. She quickly gave thanks for her friendship with Brass before she faced the door and turned the knob.
The boy looked up when he heard the door open and looked at the lanky brunette that had come into the room. "You're not my case worker."
"No. I'm Sara."
"What do you want?"
"Nothing. You just looked a little lonely."
The boy shrugged and returned his eyes to the table. "I'm used to it."
Sara nodded and sat down. "Me too."
The two sat together in a comfortable silence for a few minutes until the boy spoke. "You need something?"
"What's your name?"
Catherine was walking through LVPD on a mission. She was looking for Sara. The brunette had been avoiding her in the weeks since their breakup and Catherine wanted to talk to her. Thinking about Sara made Catherine's heart ache. Their brief relationship had been both satisfying and frustrating. There had been moments when Sara had seemed completely engaged in what they had together. Then there were other moments when Catherine would swear that Sara just wasn't there at all. When Catherine had tried to talk to the woman about how hot and cold she could be, Sara would either clam up and brood or look like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car.
Catherine had thought long and hard before she had ended the affair. She was too old and had too much at stake in her life to spend it with someone who wouldn't talk to her. She had taken enough of that shit with Eddie and other men in her life. She needed someone who was willing to be an equal partner and that wasn't happening with Sara. When she had told the younger woman it was over, Sara had just looked confused and left the house. She hadn't asked any questions or put up a fight at all. A part of Catherine had hoped that trying to end the relationship would light some kind of fire under Sara, so the young woman would fight for what she wanted, but Sara had simply left. Catherine had taken that as a clear sign that Sara wasn't as invested in their relationship as Catherine wanted her to be.
Lost in her thoughts, Catherine turned the corner and ran straight into Jim Brass, nearly landing them both in a heap on the floor. "Sorry, Jim. I wasn't paying attention."
"I can see that. Where's the fire?"
"No fire. I'm just looking for Sara."
Brass narrowed his eyes slightly and cocked his head, "Why?"
Catherine looked at her friend and sighed. "I just want to talk to her, Jim. She's been avoiding me. I know she swapped assignments with Nick to get out of working with me. We can't let what happened between us affect our jobs."
"She just needs some time to get over you, Catherine. At least give her that much."
"Get over me?" Catherine asked incredulously. "Jim, what would she need to get over? She was barely there in the first place. Getting anything out of her is like getting blood from a stone. Even when I broke it off she barely reacted. She just got this perplexed look on her face an left. She didn't even try to fight for us."
Jim shook his head. "She's not like you, Catherine. She's not as sure of herself as you are. Not when it comes to her personal life. She's been hurting over this, even if you can't see it."
"Well, it would be nice if she could tell me that herself. She acts like she's never been in a relationship in her entire life," Catherine said with an exasperated sigh.
'She hasn't' is what Brass wanted to say, but he kept his mouth shut. It had taken him a long time to gain Sara's trust and he wasn't about to go spilling Sara's secrets, even if it would give Catherine more insight into the beautiful brunette he cared so much for. "Look, just take it easy on her. She may not show it, but she cares about you a lot. She's down the hall checking on a kid in interrogation room three."
Jim nodded and continued on his way, hoping the two women could somehow come to an understanding.
Catherine watched Brass leave then resumed her journey. She saw Sara talking quietly with a young boy who looked to be about eleven or twelve. Watching the two together, she smiled softly. Sara always claimed to be lousy with kids, but Catherine knew differently. Sara had always been great with Lindsey. In fact, one of the hardest things about breaking it off with Sara was how hard it had made things on her daughter. Lindsey had barely spoken to her since Catherine had told the girl Sara wouldn't be around as much anymore.
Curious as to what was going on between this young man and Sara, Catherine slipped into the observation room and activated the speakers so she could listen in.
"That's an unusual name."
"Yeah. Well. I'm an unusual kid," Gideon replied sarcastically.
"Why did you run away, Gideon?" Sara asked quietly.
Gideon shrugged. "I just wanted to."
"I can see that, but why yesterday. You've been living there for a while, right?"
"So what was different about yesterday?"
"I was supposed to have an interview."
"An adoption interview?"
Catherine's brow furrowed in confusion. "Why would this kid run away when he was going to meet a couple who might adopt him?" she asked herself. "I would think that would be a good thing." She stopped talking to her self when she saw Sara nod as though she understood the boy's motivations.
Sara nodded. "How many times have you been interviewed?"
"Yesterday would have been nineteen, plus the four foster homes."
"That's a lot."
"Yeah." Gideon turned to look at Sara and studied her for several moments before saying, "How many did you have?"
Sara looked at the boy with a sad smile. "Adoption interviews or foster homes?"
Again, Gideon shrugged. "Either. Both."
"How do you know I had either?" Sara asked the boy curiously.
Gideon was quiet for a moment before returning his eyes to the table. "Takes one to know one, I guess."
Sara nodded slowly. "Yeah, I guess it does. Let's see. Foster homes: twelve. Adoption interviews: fifty-seven."
Catherine stood frozen in shock. Sara had been in the system? "How could I not know that?"
Catherine quickly ran through her conversations with Sara. The younger woman had actively avoided talking about her family, only going as far as to say that her parents were hippies who had run a B&B outside of San Francisco. Catherine had never pressed the issue, figuring that there would be plenty of time to discuss their pasts as the relationship progressed.
The boys voice brought her attention back to the scene unfolding before her.
Gideon looked back into Sara's face. "That's a lot."
Sara let out a small laugh at the circular nature of their conversation. "Yeah. Like it it's not enough my own parents didn't really want me, I got rejected by a hundred and fourteen other people too."
"Plus the foster homes."
Sara sighed in agreement. "Plus the foster homes."
"Did you ever find one?"
An image of Catherine and Lindsey flitted in front of Sara's eyes and she felt a familiar stinging behind her eyes as tears started to form. "I thought I did," she whispered.
Gideon looked at her with concerned eyes and reached out to touch her hand. "What happened?"
Sara looked down at the small hand that covered her own. "I don't know. I guess I wasn't very good at having one. I didn't really know what to do. I mean, I had never really had one before, so......it just wasn't working."
Catherine felt the blood drain from her face when she heard her own words fall from Sara's lips. She closed her eyes. Was it possible that Sara simply didn't know what to do or how to act because she had no experience in a family? That her only failing in their relation had been that she didn't know what a family was and didn't know what her place in one should be?
Gideon looked at Sara with painfully understanding hazel eyes. "Well, it was your first time. Maybe it just takes practice."
"Maybe," Sara agreed as she wiped away the few tears that had escaped from her brown eyes.
"Maybe you'll get another chance," Gideon said hopefully.
"Yeah, maybe. And maybe you will, too."
"But you have to give someone a chance. You can't run away from people who might want to be your family," Sara said while turning her hand over and giving Gideon's hand a squeeze.
"All the best stuff usually is."
Sara and Gideon looked at each other in silence until the door to the room opened and Gideon's social worker entered the room.
"Hi, Mrs. Washburn."
The woman extended a hand to Sara. "Emilia Washburn. DCFS."
Sara shook the woman's hand. "Sara Sidle. CSI."
Emilia's eyes opened in concern and she glanced at Gideon. "Has something happened?"
Sara waved off her concern, saying, "Oh, no, no. I was just keeping Gideon company until you got here."
"Oh, good. Well, thank you. I'm sorry it took me so long to get here. It's been a busy night."
"No worries. Gideon's a good kid," Sara said with a wink in his direction. Both women smiled when Gideon blushed under Sara's attention.
"Well, thank you for looking after him. We should get going." Emilia bent down to speak to Gideon. "And you, young man. You can't keep running away. We need to keep you safe and we can't do that if we don't know where you are."
"I think Gideon will stick around from now on," Sara said, ruffling Gideon's hair. "Right, Gideon?"
"Yeah, OK, Sara."
Sara knelt down and faced Gideon. "If you need anything, give a call, OK. Anything at all." She reached into her pocket and drew out one of her cards. "On the back is my cell phone number and my home number. Call me anytime."
Gideon tentatively took the card and looked at the strong handwriting on the back. He looked at his new friend and stepped forward, putting his arms around her in a tight hug. "Thanks, Sara," he whispered.
"No sweat, buddy. I hope you find that family," Sara whispered back.
"You too," he said with a smile.
Sara led Gideon through the door and watched Gideon and his social worker walk down the hall and out of sight.
A door opening to her right startled her and she looked over to see Catherine coming out of the observation room. Sara felt a familiar shame shoot through her body and she felt her face flush with embarrassment. "Were you listening?" she croaked out of her suddenly dry throat.
Catherine looked at Sara carefully and nodded. "Sara, can we talk?"
Sara took a step back, shaking her head. "No."
"No, Catherine. You weren't supposed to hear any of that."
When Sara started to walk away, Catherine grabbed her arm to stop her. "Sara --"
"Let me go, Catherine."
"No." Looking around, Catherine noticed that she and Sara had attracted the attention of a number of people in the hallway. Returning her attention to the woman in front of her she said, "Come with me" and led Sara back into the observation room.
With a resigned sigh Sara followed Catherine and crossed to the two-way mirror that looked onto the interrogation room she had just left.
Catherine watched Sara's stiff back and knew the conversation she wanted to have would not be easy. "Sara, I'd like for us to talk."
"Why? Because of what you heard in there?"
"Yes. No. Well, partly. I was actually looking for you anyway."
"I wanted us to talk."
"I wanted to see if we could find a way to work together again."
"Well, I'm sure we can given a little time." Sara headed for the door, eager to escape this uncomfortable situation. "If that's all, I need to --"
Catherine blocked Sara's exit with her body. "Stop Sara!"
"Catherine, I don't see how anything has changed."
"What do you mean? Of course something has changed."
"Why? Because of what you heard in there? I don't want your pity, Catherine!"
"Well, that's good because I don't want to give you any. Sara, if had told me--"
"Yeah, that's what I should have done. 'Hey Cath, I know this thing between us is just starting, but, just so you know, I'm completely inept at anything approaching a relationship and you should really run while you have the chance.' That would have been a perfect icebreaker."
"Well, it would have helped me understand, Sara. I would have known that you weren't unengaged. You were just --"
"Inexperienced! I would have been more patient. I would have helped you learn."
"You shouldn't have to teach me, Catherine. I mean, that's what people - normal people - do, right? They meet someone they like and fall in love and settle down and live happily ever after. That's something that should be natural. Innate. You shouldn't have to hold my hand and deal with my shit. You deserve better than that."
"That's what a relationship is, Sara. You hold each other's hand and you deal with each other's shit. Doing that is neither natural or innate. It's a hell of a lot of work. It's messy and it's frustrating, but it's what you have to do in order to fall in love and settle down and live happily ever after. That's the way it works."
Sara was quiet for a while as she thought about what Catherine had said. Finally, she sighed and said, "I have a lot more shit to deal with than a regular person."
Catherine took Sara's hand and said, "So do I. We can deal with it together."
Sara looked down at their joined hands and said, "This is scary."
Catherine leaned into Sara and said, "All the best stuff usually is."
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