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You work it out
By Rach


Part 1

"You know..." said Catherine in that insufferably smug tone, "Every time we get a case with a hint of domestic violence or abuse, you go off the deep end. What is your problem?"

"You're the investigator, you work it out!"

I stormed out the door. I was furious that Catherine wouldn't listen to me, that she wouldn't back my judgement. Also furious that she was trying to turn this back on me, attack my judgement rather than accept my words at face value.

Maybe the fury was emphasised by the fact that in nearly 5 years of working together I suspected she didn't know the first thing about me. Maybe it was just that this case really had gotten to me. Maybe it was that Catherine, the person I most admired, was displaying yet again that she seemed to hate my guts.

Whatever the reason I should have known better than to throw down an investigative challenge to Catherine "King Kong on Cocaine" Willows.

The next day there was a note in my in-tray.

Are you sure you want me to do this?

If you tell me to stop I will.


But there was no way I could do that. Call me prideful, stubborn or pig-headed. Or call me a coward, because if I told her to stop she'd know there was something to hide. So I just hoped she wouldn't find anything.

The next day there was another note.

Breakfast, end of shift today.

Meet me at my car.


What could I do but go?

When we were sitting in a quiet booth at a diner, untouched coffees in front of us, Catherine finally started speaking.

"So, here's what I came up with. My first thought was simple – run your name through google, see what comes up."

I stare at her. I know full well what she'd have found if she searched under "Sidle" and "California". Even worse if she'd refined the search with a few other key words. Yes, my first name had been suppressed because of my age, but not the rest of my family's. Please don't let this be happening.

Maybe she saw the panic in my eyes, because the next words were more reassuring.

"Sara, I didn't do that. I felt like it would be cheating. I'm just going to go on how I've seen you act."

I'm relieved. Catherine and I have never been friends, so it seems unlikely she'll be able to deduce much here.

"To start with, you're normally pretty professional at scenes, almost detached – like Grissom. So, what are the common features of the scenes that you do over-react to? Abused or neglected children, women being victimised, abused, raped. This suggests that someone close to you has been a victim of a crime like this."

I take it back – friends or not Catherine is obviously much more observant than I thought.

"On a personal note, I can look at the relationships you have."

"What relationships?" I ask sarcastically.

"Sara, you're the one who told me to do this. Do you want me to keep going?" Catherine looks me, blue eyes locked with my brown, and I'm surprised to see concern there.

I'm too proud to back down though. "Go ahead, do your worst. I'll even tell you if you're right in the end."

Damn pride.

"Alright," Catherine draws a deep breath. "You set your cap for someone who is as remote as you are; little chance they'll get through your barriers. You keep your colleagues at a distance, not letting anyone in too close. Yet I suspect that you genuinely like the people you work with, suggesting that the reason you push them away is a fear of rejection. You also don't want them too close because you feel you have something to hide."

I'm wondering why Catherine became a CSI – I suspect she could have made a fortune as a shrink.

"Remaining clues; you crave recognition and acceptance from those you admire. You light up like a candle whenever Grissom throws praise your way. It's not quite as obvious as Greg's puppy dog approach, but noticeable. Adding this to your defensive behaviour, and I'm concluding that you had a pretty un-supportive childhood. Throw in the way you flinch away from sudden noises or aggression; if you were a kid I'd be calling child protection services, much as I disliked their interference in my life, and reporting a likely case of abuse."

I definitely don't like where she's going here. Does she watch me more than I thought?

She's relentless, although her eyes stay fixed on mine. "The behaviours seem pretty deeply set, not anything recent. Whatever happened was while you were still developing. So, I'm guessing that that childhood abuse, and possibly rape, probably happened in the house you grew up in."

"Anything to add to your little story?" I know I sound defensive, but how can I not? She seems to have put most of it together.

"There's only one other thing, and I'm not sure what it means. I remember a case, years ago, where the older girl killed her family to protect the younger from abuse. I remember that you gave so much time to the younger girl, but that the one who did the killing got pretty short shrift. As I said, I'm not sure what it means... I..."

Her voice trails away into silence, and I stare at her. It's not until I lick my lips and taste salt that I realise I am crying, tears running down my cheeks.

"Sara, I'm not saying this to hurt you," her voice is gentle. "I'm not even sure exactly why I am. I just know that you're hurting inside. From what I can see you've been hurting for a long-time, only none of us took the time to see."

Catherine reaches out tentatively, placing her hand on mine.

"Sara, I don't know why, but if you don't share them these things will always come back to haunt you. Look at your behaviour recently, it's getting out of control. You barely leave work unless you're kicked out. The DUI. Do you think that none of your friends notice? You don't have to tell me anything, although I think it would be good for you."

I should be getting up, running away, but I'm still sitting there, my hand in hers, staring helplessly into her eyes.

"Sara, I suspect you've been through things, had the kind of childhood that I can't imagine living through. Don't let it control your life. Don't let it stop you from trusting your friends. Don't think that we'll judge you by your past, because the guys at work love you. They won't turn their backs on you."

I tear my eyes away from hers, looking down at the table.

Easy for her to tell me that others won't turn their backs. She probably can't even bear to look at me.

There's a napkin sitting next to my forgotten coffee, which is cold now. I move my hand away from hers, reaching for the napkin, and start dabbing my eyes, refusing to look up.

"You're good," I say quietly. "I never knew I was such an open book. The only part you missed was the ending, when my mother stabbed my father, not for the abuse but for cheating on her. With me."

She reaches towards me again, touching me below the chin this time, slowly compelling me to look up at her. I see tears welling in her eyes. No triumph at being right, just pain.

"Sara, I'm not going to turn my back on you either." Simple words, but her eyes are fixed on me, as if she's trying to bore the truth into my skull with a sapphire drill.

There are more tears then, from both of us, and through it all she holds my hand, offering the constant reassurance that I need. Catherine takes a sip of her coffee, then gags as she realises it's cold. Instead we both drink water.

It's as we're about to leave that a question occurs to me.

"Catherine, tell me something."


"We've never been friends. We haven't even worked that many cases together over the years. I've always gotten the impression that you ignored me whenever possible. So, how is it that you can have noticed so much about me?"

Her eyes widen, like a deer caught in headlights, then she looks away from me.


I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by her response.

"You're the investigator, you work it out!"

Part 2

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