DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A very special thanks to my wonderful friend, Debbie, for the beta and lovely suggestions.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Windows to the Soul
By Ann


Extending my senses outward, I kept my eyes closed, trying to establish that I was truly alone. I was so very tired of feigning sleep just so I didn't have to carry on conversations with my visitors. Of course, I was physically exhausted as well, not to mention dehydrated and sore as hell.

I knew I was lucky to be alive, but I needed time to deal with the whole ordeal on my own terms. In my mind's eye, I chose to play out the ending; the rest would have to wait.

The whole team was there when I was finally pulled from under the wreckage; the scene so much like when Nick was freed from his dirt grave, it was frightening, mostly because I was the one being placed on the gurney and into the ambulance. The only difference was, instead of Catherine and Warrick climbing in with me, it was Catherine and Grissom. It felt so strange having both my hands held so tightly by two different individuals, my current lover and my former lover. Talk about weird. That's when I came up with the idea of keeping my eyes shut.

I heard Grissom whispering how sorry he was that I'd been taken and that it was his fault. He even confessed that he'd been out of his mind with worry. I lay as still as I could, waiting for him to go the distance and finally profess his love for me, but in usual Grissom style, he just squeezed my hand as his voice faltered.

Catherine must've been expecting him to admit his feelings as well because she gripped my hand so tightly I thought I was going to have to quit playing possum to ask her to lighten up, but when Grissom's words trailed off, she eased her grip and changed to lightly running her thumb across the back of my hand. The motion both calmed and relaxed me, and the next thing I knew, I no longer had to pretend to be unconscious as I fell into a peaceful sleep.

I wasn't sure how much time had passed when I opened my eyes to find myself in a hospital room attached to IV's and monitors. Slowly scanning the room, I spotted Warrick and Grissom over by the window, and thankfully, neither had noticed that I'd awakened. I quickly closed my eyes and concentrated on their whispered conversation.

"She's going to be fine, Grissom, but you need to get some rest. I'll stay here with her; you go on home and sleep." I almost leapt from the bed with joy at hearing Warrick's words. I'd done quite a bit of thinking under that car and had come to the not so startling conclusion that although I needed someone in my life, that someone wasn't Gil Grissom. I just wasn't ready to fill him in on my revelation.

After a bit more persuasion from Warrick, Grissom finally agreed to leave, but he made it a point to kiss me on the forehead before he left the room. I'd have loved to have seen the expression on Warrick's face when the ever stoic Grissom had shown that he was human after all.

I almost started when a hand touched mine, but somehow I was able to keep from reacting to Warrick's gesture. I lay as still as possible, waiting to see what my teammate was going to do next.

"Sara, I'm glad you finally found someone. I know how hard it was for both you and Cath to end things between the two of you. She told me that you'd both decided it was for the best, but I've always believed that you still love her as much as she still loves you. I guess the timing just wasn't right, huh?"

I couldn't believe that Catherine had told Warrick about us. That had been one of our many problems, I'd wanted to tell our teammates about us, but Catherine hadn't wanted to. Funny that she'd never mentioned she'd confided in Warrick.

A knock sounded at the door, and I focused my hearing on the approaching footsteps. Nick's whispered voice was filled with nervousness.

"Um, hey, Warrick, how's she doing?"

"Still unconscious; I sent Grissom home a few minutes ago. I promised that I'd stay."

"What about you? You've been here as long as Grissom. Why don't you go home and see Tina? I'll stay with her. I promise I won't leave her alone."

Warrick hesitated, probably trying to decide if he'd break his word to Grissom if he left. A loud sigh signaled that he'd come to a decision.

"You sure you don't mind, Nick? I am kind of beat."

"No, go on. We'll be fine."

"Alright." Warrick squeezed my hand. "You take care, Sara."

The sound of retreating steps headed towards the door, and Nick didn't waste any time pulling up a chair and taking Warrick's place. He gently took my hand and started talking.

"I know how you must've felt, alone and scared. I just want you to know that I'm here for you whenever you want to talk. I understand perfectly what you went through."

Nick patted my hand, never saying another word. He just sat there and quietly stood guard. I'd almost fallen asleep when Greg made an appearance.

"Hey, Nick. I talked to Warrick, and he said you were staying with Sara. I'd like to take a turn if you don't mind?"

"Um, okay." Nick released my hand. "Just make sure you don't leave her alone, Greg. She needs to know someone is here at all times. It's important."

The tone of Nick's voice said more than his words. He truly knew what I'd gone through, the anger, the despair, the fear, the loneliness, the sadness. Maybe after I'd had time to recover from my physical ordeal, I'd take him up on his offer to talk.

"Sara? It's me." Greg's hand was shaking when he took hold of mine. "I'm glad you hung on long enough for us to get to you. I was so scared."

Greg's voice broke, but he somehow managed to continue. "I wished I'd told you how I felt about you. Now, it's too late; you've got Grissom."

Great, my suspicions were confirmed. I'd always figured Greg had a crush on me, but thinking and knowing were two completely different things. I'd have to sit down and have a little talk with him when I got out of here.

More time passed, and another knock sounded at the door. The visitor entered the room without a word. I recognized the familiar footfalls immediately.

"How's she doing?" Catherine asked in a soft tone, one I hadn't heard in such a long time.

"She's been sleeping."

"Well, why don't you take a break, and I'll stay with her awhile."

"Um, okay, sure, Catherine. You have my number if you need me."

I concentrated on keeping my breathing steady. If anyone could figure out that I was faking, it'd be Catherine.

"Hey, you." I'd just thought Greg's voice was shaky. I'd never heard Catherine so out of sorts.

"Don't you ever scare me like this again!" Ah, there was the Catherine that I'd grown so accustomed to. Several minutes passed before Catherine spoke again, and judging from her disclosure, she'd taken the time to organize her thoughts.

"I knew you'd find someone, I just never figured it would be Grissom. I thought it would be someone a little feistier, but. now, I can finally tell you something I've been dreading. I've been dating Wendy for a few months and, well, we've fallen in love. Neither of us saw it coming, it just sort of happened. I wanted you to know that I'll always love you Sara, and I wish you all the happiness with Grissom, I do."

Of everything that'd been said, this was the one thing that tempted me the most to open my eyes, even in my drowsy state Catherine couldn't hide her doubt from me, she never could. And yet, I stubbornly kept them closed, not wanting to deal with anything else at the moment. She was wrong, I didn't love Grissom as a lover; I loved him as a friend. Catherine had found love, and I'd found comfort. That hurt. I continued to lie still while Catherine held my hand.

I don't know how much time elapsed before Brass made his appearance. After speaking softly to Catherine, I was left in his care. Just like the others, he took the seat next to me, and then took my hand.

"Hey kiddo, I'm so glad we found you in time." Brass sighed loudly. "The scuttlebutt is that you and Grissom have a thing going. Don't get me wrong, you know I like Grissom, but I don't think he's the one for you. I know it's not my place to say, but well, there's a certain detective who's been devastated by the news about you and Grissom. I think she has her own feelings for you."

I couldn't believe my ears; Sofia, she couldn't be gay, could she? If I'd wasted months on Grissom when I'd had a chance with Sofia, I'd willingly put myself back under that car for being so stupid.

"Excuse me, sir; I need to administer meds to Ms. Sidle."

"Um, do you need me to leave?" Brass asked nervously. I almost laughed aloud imagining him being worried about seeing my ass.

"No, they'll go directly into her IV. You can stay."

Before I could object to the meds, she'd already pushed the plunger. How did I know? I opened my eyes just in time to witness the act right before they rolled back into my head.

Later still, I awoke from my drug induced nap and, judging by the darkness in the room, several hours had past since the nurse had administered the meds. I'd be willing to bet there was a tranquilizer involved. Even now, I felt so very drowsy, but I forced my eyes to open. The chair that'd held my friends most of the day was empty. It appeared I was finally alone, and for a precious few minutes, I believed I was until I heard a soft voice coming from the window.

"Damn Grissom and his need to speak to that bitch alone. We wasted precious time while he played mind games with the psychopath. If you'd have died, I . . ."

Sofia? What was she doing here and why did she sound so upset? Was Brass right in his assumptions? The questions raced through my mind as I started to turn towards her, but the soft sound of footsteps had me closing my eyes once again. A rustling noise beside me placed Sofia in what had become the most popular seat in the hospital.

A soft touch to my hand didn't startle me as the others had; this time the touch felt warm and comfortable.

Sofia's words were barely a whisper. "As usual, I'm too late; the story of my life."

I didn't understand. She wasn't late; they'd found me on time. What was she referring to? As if reading my mind, Sofia filled in the blanks.

"I can't believe I lost you to Grissom." She chuckled softly. "My fear has cost me the one person I wanted the most, but I'm so very thankful that you're alive, Sara."

What happened next was open to debate for quite some time. I wasn't sure if I'd squeezed Sofia's hand consciously or unconsciously. It just seemed like the right thing to do. When she shifted her gaze from our joined hands to my eyes, I made sure that I was looking right back at her. She smiled nervously.

"Hey, how're you feeling?"

I returned her smile and decided to take a chance. Life was too short, and boy, didn't I know it.

"Sofia? You're not too late. "

"Really?" This time her smile was genuine.

"Yes, I'm finished with Grissom."

"Really?" Her smile grew in intensity.

"Yes; now, would you mind terribly if I asked you to kiss me?" I knew my words were unexpected but suddenly I needed something, some contact, something solid. I'd heard words of love, now I wanted this.

"Really?" Sofia leaned closer and closer until we were a hairsbreadth away.

"Really." I reached up and drew Sofia to me, our lips meeting tentatively, each of us still a bit unsure until Sofia slowly increased the pressure.

Falling deeper into the kiss, my eyes caught a glimpse of Catherine, standing in the doorway, watching, smiling as if she knew everything. Without words, she asked a question and I answered.

Catherine gently closed the door. I knew she was going to find Grissom. To ensure my happiness, she'd do anything even upset her best friend. Without my permission, she'd probably end up tearing Gil a new one. With my permission, damn. Grissom was in trouble.

As Sofia sighed into our kiss, I could honestly say that I didn't care; I was in Heaven and I was alive.

The End

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