by Alison Nixon
Spoilers: Mainly Recipe for Murder, but minor references to Season 3 up through Lady Heather's Box
Archive: www.grissomandsara.com, otherwise please ask first.
Disclaimer: The usual. None of the characters are mine. They belong to Anthony Zuiker, CBS, et al.
Feedback: Of course! Please do let me know what you think.
Author's Note: Well, as is often the case, it's hard to know what to say in the notes. I guess this is my attempt to work through S3 events, taking Recipe for Murder as a starting point, and sort of working forward through Lady Heather's Box. The story is told mostly from Sara's POV, but not entirely. There are some shifts back and forth in time (including pre-RfM) that I hope aren't too confusing. Anyway, here goes. Thanks for reading...
Summary: It's been a painful year, and Sara is falling. Post-ep fic, up through LHB
"Hey Sara, come here. There's... someone I want you to meet."
She turned at the sound of his voice, one hand wedged into the pocket of her jeans, the other drumming a restless rhythm against the lean length of her thigh. Her smile was vague, a barely passable attempt to hide--
Don't. If you think it, you'll feel it... and you are not bored. You're not.
She moved towards him slowly, hoping to steal enough time to conjure into her face what she knew she should feel. His smile deepened as she approached and when she was near enough, he steered her forward until her slender frame stood in front of his own. As she stood with her back to him, he let his hands trace the long path from elbow to shoulder, stopping only when he found the base of her neck. When he curled his fingers there, directly against her skin, she shivered.
Was it his touch, or her falling temperature? Only she knew for sure, and the fine bumps spread across her skin like shame.
"Sara Sidle, meet the television I've been searching for all my life."
Even in the distorted reflection into which they stared, Hank's eyes were alight with possibility. The possibility buried somewhere, Sara could only assume, in the twenty-inch plasma screen suspended in front of them.
He doesn't ask for much. Can't you...?
One hard blink drove the plea from her head to her mouth, which dutifully angled itself upward.
"Um... wow, Hank. That's... cool."
"Didn't I tell you?" He stepped forward eagerly, further reducing the distance between them. "The sales guy said this one is top of the line, state of the art. And, yes," he added, as if mocking her for objections made earlier, "it is worth the investment. All the tech trends say this plasma technology is going to change everything."
As he gently squeezed her neck, she tried to focus on what she saw in his eyes. The loud conviction in his voice echoed against her ear.
"Pretty soon, we'll be at the point where looking at the pictures of a place on a TV like this will be almost as good as going there yourself." He shook his head, grinning. "It's amazing, when you think about it."
The frown scrambled her face even before he finished speaking.
"Hank... that's not even..." She tried not to sigh. "A person's perception of a two-dimensional image can't even begin to substitute for his experiences in the real world. Reality is empirical, multi-dimensional... interactive. I mean, at best, an image can only approximate that. In fact, most scientists-"
"Jesus, Sara, I'm not talking about the 'science' of it," he said sharply. "I'm talking about the experience. It'll be as if people don't have to leave home anymore to travel the world and 'be' somewhere else. Somewhere else will come to you and 'be' wherever you are."
She crossed her arms and thrust her face forward. The movement rounded her shoulders, which slipped a little underneath his hands.
"Of course it's about science, Hank. We're talking about how the brain works, the nature of human perception. Our brain chemistry just doesn't process images as if they were equivalents to what actually exists. How could it, when different areas of the brain are used depending on whether we just sit passively and watch something on screen, or whether we experience it in the real world? Scientists can actually map those sorts of differences now. There was a study done at John Hopkins last year--they used functional MRI to map which areas of the brain "light up" with cortical activity and--"
He exhaled suddenly, the force of his breath striking her face like a rough wind. The torrent of words fell back from her lips, her eyes dropped from his. With all the practice she'd had, it should have been second nature by now. Softer tones. Pliable language. Holding back and holding in whatever might expose the stubborn fault lines between them.
Already regretting her tongue, she bent her head and pretended to study her feet. He bent his head and pretended to study her.
How many times had he seen that look?
She couldn't help it... the way her mind worked, the way her thoughts spilled out whether she flattered him, or not. Some women wear their hearts on their sleeve, right? Well, Sara wore her brain on hers. He knew that, from the beginning. Granted, it seemed funny at first, even sexy. It still was... most of the time. Hank shook his head again, minus the grin, as he let his eyes travel from her face to his hands, which still lay coiled against her neck.
Maybe he was doing this for all the wrong reasons. Maybe he should have walked away. He might have, too, if it hadn't taken so long to even get her this far. Besides, he wasn't one to walk away from what was willingly offered. Even if he wasn't sure he really wanted everything else that came with it.
Every man is the hero of his own life.
He'd heard that somewhere, a long time ago. It was probably one of the few quotations he could recall at will, and which made some sort of real sense to him. That sense might have come from the grand sweep of the words and their construction. It might have come from the implied flattery. Or maybe it had everything to do with his having first heard it as a boy, a boy like so many others. The ones who never quite grow up to be the men they dreamed they would be.
It was hard work, this heroism... so many costumes from which to choose. Astronaut. Fighter pilot. Surgeon. Paramedic. Some people might have figured that devolution told the tale of his life. But those didn't know about heroes. Not the real ones. The ones out there in the field, not in some soft hospital or office... not somewhere high above the earth where everything is empty and clean. The real heroes are the ones who deal with the mess--the bullets and knives and car crashes and drug overdoses, and everything else. With his own two hands, he had saved the lives of babies and boys, mothers and men. He'd even called the time on those who didn't make it. He'd done it all, just like any real hero would.
Given all that hard work, of course he'd taken his reward. It wasn't a hard thing to understand. Women liked him. He liked them. No harm there. Only the union of admired and the admiring, that's all. As long as both sides were having a good time--and he could read women well enough to know that they almost always were-what was the problem? Yes, there was always someone, and someone else, in his orbit. So what? It wasn't as if he pushed them for anything. He didn't need to. They usually did all the work for him. Sara had been no different, although he did give her credit for playing fast and loose for a while. She had been eager enough when he had come to the lab to ask her out without any preamble. Most women would have balked at being expected to drop everything and have dinner when it was convenient for him. Not Sara. It was all for nothing, though, since they didn't actually make it out of the building. There had been way too many girls that didn't smell of death for him to deal with her that night.
But later, when she called... out of the blue... he found that she cleaned up all right. Better than all right. And that's how it began, in fits and starts with no discernible pattern. No pattern, except that her work always came first. No pattern, except that she could never seem to decide what she really wanted. But even that was okay--there was no hurry. He kept up with other women regardless, and if Sara wanted to wait, he could wait. Whenever she was finished with whatever game she was playing, whether with him, or perhaps, with herself, he would be happy to take what she offered. She was certainly pretty enough for that, and he'd always liked a challenge. But it wasn't as if they had made each other any promises. If she wanted to play, he'd play. He had nothing to lose.
Sure, some things did bother him. Like the way she didn't always play by the rules that united them--the admired and the admiring. He could have ended it then, as soon as he saw the first lapse, and maybe he should have. But... she was pretty and she was sexy, and sometimes, she was definitely a challenge. So he just worked a little harder, redrawing his hero's angle until he could make it fit the problem at hand, until he could tip the scales once again. Soon enough, instead of resenting every time her eyes wandered away when he spoke, he tried playing with ways to bring them back. A compliment here, a little flattering innuendo there-nothing he hadn't done many times before. Soon enough, instead of giving in to boredom when she talked endlessly about her work, he leaned forward and gave her the unwavering attention she seemed to need. It was easy enough to do since it fit with his basic theory anyway. She needed him. He didn't need her. He had a life, after all. She only had her work.
These fables had become so familiar during their time together that he didn't even think of them as such anymore. There was no need to question their assumptions, or think himself callous, not when Sara confirmed them. It was her work, she said again and again, always before launching into another lengthy explanation of her day with dead bodies that he didn't need to hear. Explanations he could do without, but the apologies that followed... those were another matter. She was at her... sweetest and most... affectionate... when she felt she the need to apologize. Lately, it seemed she spent a lot of time making things up to him. He hadn't the faintest clue as to what had turned the tide, but she had suddenly stopped putting him off every time his kiss goodnight lingered a little too long, or his touches roamed too freely. Another man might have wondered why, but heroes don't need to question good things. Good things happen to heroes all the time, with one girl or another, sooner or later.
It could have been anything, of course. The answer might well have been there in all the talk of her cases and her colleagues, but there was so much to wade through he just couldn't know for sure. It had been odd, that first time together, when she seemed so... quiet. She had been going on and on about something... being cooped up... needing to get clear... back in the field. But her boss... wasn't talking, or seeing... he had been so different--more like he used to be. The words came out rather like that, disjointed, disconnected, and almost sad. He remembered only half-listening, thinking that it sounded too heavy and weird for a simple matter of getting the man's signature on a piece of paper. He also remembered that it sounded like some typically complicated Sara saga that he had no intention of drowning in. Especially since it wasn't as if this was some real relationship they were in, the kind where he had to listen and care about everything that ever happened to her in life. Especially since it wasn't some real relationship, the kind where the right man might have decided to really be a hero to her, instead of just playing one.
How many times have I seen that look on her face?
She was gnawing at her lips doggedly, struggling to see what he wanted her to see, struggling to fix whatever needed fixing. He could actually see it, all of the upheaval passing in waves over that pretty face. It was like watching an old-fashioned picture show play against the white screen of her skin. As he watched the frames of her mind scroll past, he felt his shoulders begin to relax again. She was sweet to take everything so seriously all of a sudden, but truthfully, he could do without the angst. If he was going to spend his day off with her, instead of someone else he could call, the last thing he wanted to do was argue. Life was definitely too short for that.
Brushing the back of his hand against her neck, he exhaled the last of these thoughts into the air just above her bowed head. He then raised both hands in exaggerated surrender.
"Okay, okay, Sidle, I am officially shutting up now. Never mind. Just trying to stretch myself a little here. Let's just have a good time... okay?"
Their eyes met, paired reflections jumping in tandem. His grin. Her guilt. She stared at him, even as she stared at herself.
He's trying, and all you can do is get hung up on some stupid intellectual point about ... about nothing... He was just trying to play with an idea, for you, to have a conversation with you... What is that you want? Not everybody is... you can't expect...
Whatever she expected, she knew what she would get before long.
Girl meets guy. Girl can't even pretend to be normal. Guy decides she's hard work. Girl goes back to being alone.
Aren't you tired of that yet?
The long breath wound its way through her like smoke, obscuring all that she should have seen.
"I, I'm sorry, I was being too... literal, or too... I just, like, totally missed your point, didn't I?"
Bright and wide, the smile appeared on cue. She would make it up to him. She would fix it.
"You know, these plasma screens are the latest thing in Hollywood. I heard on the news that one of the networks gave one of these to all the stars of their biggest show. What a big step up from some crappy fruit basket, right? I mean, the very best models cost close to fifty thousand-"
She heard the laugh in the moment before he bent his head to stop the flow of words. Surprised, relieved, she turned her face and pressed her lips to his. She stood there with his arms around her waist, her back to his chest, feeling less pleasure than a strange sense of purpose. The same purpose she called upon every time he touched her, every time she had to seal her mind against thoughts of all that she should be feeling, but did not.
Doubts would just lead to her being alone. What use were they?
Maybe he wasn't the man she wanted. But he was the man she had.
Those must be the parents.
Two ordinary, middle-aged people, both too smooth and unlined to be the parents of anyone old enough to live on her own, far less to die that way. Two people staring at her like... like survivors of a shipwreck standing on some hard shore, watching the horizon for what will never come. It was probably a character flaw, never knowing quite what to say to certain families... the quiet ones like these, the ones who don't cry and rail against fate, fortune, or whatever else they needed to believe was to blame, instead of their loved one's own hand. Control, composure, and yet the shock and grief had to be there, under the skin, burrowing a new home in every bone and muscle they had. How is it done, this business of hiding it all where no one can see? When you suffer, when is the right time to scream, to cry, to lose yourself in pain? Sara could only wonder. She still lost herself on a regular basis, even after all these years.
Looking away from the survivors, she mounted the final set of steps that would take her past old questions and into the new, those posed by what remained of a living, breathing human being. What remained of a specific someone, with a name and a face, and two stricken people standing below where she used to live, half-expecting her to come out and step back into their arms one last time.
It was like another part of her switched itself on.
He stood tall, as always, hands on his hips, his face still recognizable even in the face of death having taken someone before he could do anything about it. He wasn't a complicated man, that she did not try to pretend, but he was... solid and strong. There are lovers and fighters, doers and thinkers. He's a doer... not the worst thing in the world, right? She wanted to smile so that he could see that it was not, but she suppressed the impulse and merely looked at him instead.
True to their agreement, he kept his voice as neutral as hers. After briefly meeting her look, he immediately returned to the reason they were both here.
"Time of death 7:20, coroner will be able to tell you more. It looks like she bled out. Left wrist is transected."
"Hank is not my boyfriend."
Another little lie, but for his own good. It wasn't herself she was covering for, anyway.
"You date... you share a subtle communication. Did he move the bra to where you might have wanted it?"
No, and no. I date him, but we don't do anything subtle. And maybe we communicate, but not without words, nothing like the way I can just look at...
But words are better, aren't they? If you say it, you think it. If you say it, you feel it. Intentional. Volitional. Right? That's why Grissom never says much of anything at all, so that I can never quote him on the one thing that really matters. Play back everything I say, little girl, but not that...
So, again I say no, and no. I don't do anything subtle, and I barely communicate with the man in front of me at all. And yet, he's still with me, still wants to be with me. That's counts, doesn't it... doesn't it?
"It's not typical for a female. Women usually commit suicide in a tub. Easier cleanup for whoever's left behind."
He could have left by now, but he hadn't. He stayed, not looking at her, not doing anything noticeable, just like they had agreed. It wasn't that she was ashamed of anything. She was just trying to make things easier for him. It was better for him if people didn't know. I don't care who knows. I don't. It's no one's business. I just think it's better for him to keep it quiet. For him. Not for me.
She could hear Warrick talking. The deflection gave Hank a chance to finally look up at her. She kept her face blank.
"I like the way you work." That was their second date. The second one that felt real, anyway and she knew that she ought to want something from this, from him. "It's... sexy. You probably sound so good when you sing." That was their third date, when even something so obvious had meant more than it should. "Mind? No way. You tell great dead-body stories." That was the fourth, when it occurred to her that he couldn't really want something from this, from her. By the fifth, he had kissed her, holding her close and saying all those nice things to her all over again, without speaking a word. Communication, perhaps, but hardly subtle...
By the sixth, she had found a way to not pull away the first second a familiar face floated somewhere beneath her closed lids. Not that Hank would have let her pull away, after a while. He had made up his mind about her, he declared, smiling as if he was joking, staring as if he was not. I'm good for you, you know. Bold, strong, and a little too sure of his ground. But also... clear, unconfused, and so very, very normal. A normal guy who seemed to like a not-so-normal girl, a proposition she was just now starting to believe. So what if part of what she hoped was that the normalcy would leap from him to her? If being normal meant feeling what she could at least pass off to herself as happiness, then...
"Did her parents say whether she was dating a man?"
Her eyes traveled the normal route, from the bloody straight edge back to the body's bloodied arm. Not to him, though. Doesn't that prove I can do this? Or does it prove I don't feel this? She could never keep her eyes away from... but then, he wasn't the man she had, was he? He was the man who had her. No wonder she looked and looked and never got enough of simply watching him.
"She was dating a Brody Jones."
Hank should have left by now, but he hadn't. She had really been asking the detective, but Hank answered anyway, a small thing that pleased her. Maybe she really didn't bore him. Maybe he didn't really bore her. How could a man who listens to you not be enough?
"Did somebody move this body?"
"I found her propped up like this when I came in."
Warrick was frowning. He didn't honestly think Hank would have moved the body and not told her? They'd been through this before and he had told her then, even before he had made up his mind about her. Even before he decided to not let her pull away. Even before she stopped trying to. Even before...
"Hey." A quick flashing grin she is sure he can see from across the room.
Well, he almost smiled, she thought, watching his eyes drop from her face to her lips. Maybe that was a good sign... instinctive male mating response. She grinned a little more, laughing at herself and at him.
She walked further into his office, strangely excited like a child with a secret that only he and she knew. Something had happened a few days ago, he knew it and she knew it. But she would be patient and not push. As long as he had her, there was no need.
He had lowered his eyes to his laptop again. Trying to be discreet, she decided.
"So, um... I was wondering if we could... talk about my overtime? You know, this business about my not being able to go out in the field for a while."
"There's nothing I can do, Sara. Protocol's protocol."
"Oh come on, Grissom. You know I can handle being maxed out on overtime without needing some enforced break."
He looked up, his face carefully composed.
She dared it.
"Besides, you know you'll miss me."
His eyes didn't waver.
"I thought you were getting a life these days." He shuffled some papers to the right of his screen. "You have the time... go live it. It is allowed, you know."
Could he... could he actually be smiling at her?
"I, I don't need to be forced to stay in the lab in order to have a life, Grissom."
"Is it harder to know what we need, or what we want? In this case, it's probably harder to know what we need, isn't it?"
He moved his lips into that small, indecipherable smile, the one she was sure contained nothing more than a reflex.
Again, she had misunderstood. It seemed that having a woman did not mean that you actually want her.
She smiled, hugely... falsely.
"Yeah, Grissom. Damn near impossible."
She pivoted so quickly that she missed his puzzled frown, and although she almost hesitated near the door in the hope he would call her name, he did not. She was halfway down the hall before she slowed down enough to notice Catherine in one of the layout rooms, moving her hands among a tangle of tree limbs. Maybe he wasn't tired of riddles, but she was. Without waiting to change her mind, or to decide how to speak, she went in.
"With all your life-saving efforts, you didn't move her?"
No, he didn't.
"Hey, man, like I said: I checked for vitals."
He doesn't ask for much. Can't you...
Her eyes drifted up to his. She answered her own question, a mere matter of continuing her train of thought. If you think it, you'll feel it.
"It's okay, baby."
If you say it, you feel it. Intentional. Volitional. Right?
She hid in the closet, her face aflame. He made some joke. She smiled, hoping to conjure into her face the things she knew she should feel.
Sleight of hand had indeed become a way of life. As necessary as air. He might not be the man she wanted, but he was still the man she had.
She slid her slim hips into the Tahoe, tossing her leather jacket through the space between the front seats. Warrick was settling himself in beside her, but she kept her eyes focused on the windshield, praying that he would just let it go. Business as usual. Don't even acknowledge it. Move on. That inner voice seemed steady enough, but her small hands still shook as they grasped the wheel. She had never taken feeling foolish very well. Warrick probably thought she was some kind of freaking moron.
Why did I say that? Why? She had been repeating the same question, fruitlessly, ever since Hank left. While he was still there, she could force a smile onto her face-she'd had more than enough practice in the past few months, and the last thing she wanted was to embarrass him by seeming ashamed of what had come out of her own mouth. And she wasn't ashamed, not exactly, just... Her head fell forward as she shrank into herself a little more. Maybe it was better not to dig too deeply into what she was right now. The only thing left to hope for was Warrick's silence.
"So... ready when you are, Sara."
When she turned to him, she could almost feel her smile pulling her skin apart, as if those three little words had stretched it too tightly over the bones of her face.
"Are we done here, or what? We need to get back to the lab sometime today." He looked amused. "Evidence being time sensitive and all."
He waited for her reaction before turning thoughtful. "Is that your Joker smile?"
"You've got it down... that big ass grin so tight you just know he was the victim of some comic book disaster." His eyes flickered back toward the apartment building. "I don't recall you falling into any vats of Super Fund waste up there, so... what is it?"
The grin, which was little more than a pained exposure of her teeth, finally faltered and fell completely. Leave it to me to stop smiling only after somebody tries to make me feel better. Thanks, but... I don't think I want to feel better. Better is worse, better is one step further away from...
"It's nothing, Warrick."
"I mean, what you said might qualify as an industrial accident, but nothing that ought to justify that expression."
She tried to laugh.
In typical fashion, he just said it, without adornment or cheap sympathy. "You embarrassed yourself."
"I... it just came out... I didn't even..." She fixed her eyes on the dashboard and began fiddling with the indicators, not caring what she touched.
Warrick nodded, tapping his long fingers against his jeans.
"Well, did you mean it?"
She tried her best to slide further into the leather folds of her seat, but there was no place to go.
"... Of course I meant it, Warrick." The laugh was a little more convincing this time. "Why else would I say it?"
He looked at her so long that she finally turned back to him.
"You tell me."
Even at the worst moment, the one even worse than the moment she knew her child was gone, Sara marveled at the woman's control. She stood without speaking, nearly as unlined as before, nearly as ordinary, and nearly as empty as she stared at the man she loved. It was worthy of a Greek tragedy, complete with stricken heroine and unfortunate child struck down by its own father in a fit of... love, fear... madness? He had cut his own daughter, cut her to keep her whole, cut her before he cried into her sleeve, the one that hung in her closet but would never again hang on her. She had been sacrificed, but to what no one could say.
When will she break? When? Even in the face of this new worst moment, Sara had yet to see the woman shed a single tear. Some people were like that, too stunned to even generate the outward signs of distress. It was admirable, but lonely. Without the tears, it was too easy for people to get away with saying nothing. But then, what was there to say? Unless the words you offered could undo what had happened to this family, whatever you did say would make very little difference at all. Maybe Warrick was right, maybe the father did go mad trying to keep his daughter sane.
As she trailed Warrick out of the house with her head down, she asked herself the question that never really left her. Was this justice? "What are we doing? Digging up graves, chasing prints... If it's not good in court... If the killers win..." Was this man a killer? A real one, like the worst of them? He did take a life, but... She sighed. Grissom was right, as always. One of life's riddles... Warrick was driving this time. She was glad-she needed the time to make up her mind. Should she go find him when they made back to the lab? When she felt like this, he was the one person she wanted to talk to, and to hear. Whether he said what she wanted to hear or not, just his taking the time to listen and stand somewhere nearby when she tried to make sense of things was a comfort. He probably could have recited the entomological roots of his favorite beetle and that would have been enough, as long as he was near, and directing the recitation to her and her alone.
Oh yes, he has me. Even if she was right...
She just caught the flash of the blonde's small form slipping out of the front door. Where is she going? She hasn't even told me what he said! Moving swiftly, Sara followed. She had been quite a ways down the hall when she caught the glimpse of Catherine leaving, and with that head start, even her long stride didn't close the distance between them until the older woman was nearly at her car.
She breathed in, trying to catch her breath, which fluttered more from nerves than exertion.
"I just wanted to find out... so did you talk to him?"
Catherine watched Sara try to sound normal, instead of breathless. And nervous, she noted, her eyes narrowing slightly.
"I talked to him. Well, if you can call it talking when one person communicates and the other doesn't."
Sara tried to smile. "So... what did he say exactly?"
"You mean, did he say 'I'm sorry I've been so distant, Catherine, but I've got a lot on my mind, why don't you sit down and I'll tell you all about it?'" She crossed her arms, giving Sara a hard look. "No, he didn't."
Her colleague looked away as a light wind blew her hair into her face.
"What did you expect, Sara?"
"I... nothing, I just thought he'd talk to you if..."
"If he wouldn't talk to you, right?"
They stared at each other for a beat. Sara looked away a second time.
"Look, if you and Grissom are having some kind of personal problem--"
"It's not a personal problem, all right," Sara said coldly. "I just thought that while you were handing out compliments to Nick and Warrick about their work, maybe you'd like to play supervisor for me, too."
They stared again. Sara didn't look away.
Smiling without really smiling, Catherine cocked her head.
"Well, that's gratitude for you. Do you have a problem with my letting my colleagues know when they've done a good job?"
"I have a problem with you treating my request as some personal problem between me and my boss instead of treating it the way you would if it was Warrick who asked for your help, instead of me."
"When the shoe fits..."
Catherine cut her short, slicing the air between them with one small hand.
"Whatever your issue is, Sara, it isn't about overtime, so don't bullshit me, okay? I'm not getting in the middle of this. It's a waste of time, and it's getting in the way of our work. You can either deal with it yourself, or not, but don't try to get me to deal with it for you. If you want to find out what's going on, ask him. If you don't have the guts for that, then I suggest you go out and have a good time with your boyfriend."
The words seemed encased in ice. "I told you, he's not my boyfriend."
"Yeah, Sara. Right." Catherine nodded and almost laughed. "Oh, I bet I know what it is. So you think as long as you haven't slept with him, he isn't your boyfriend, right?"
When the other woman's heightened color gave her away, she pressed on, leaning forward to punctuate her words.
"Well, if you think anyone is buying that little distinction, you should think again. We all know what's going on. All of us."
"Why do you all care so much about my personal life, huh? What business is it of yours?"
"It isn't, and I don't want it to be. I'm just offering you a little friendly advice. The damage is done. You might as well have a little fun now that you've burned those bridges."
"What do you mean? What 'damage'?"
Catherine said nothing. Sara quelled the urge to run her hands over her face to try and erase what she feared must be showing there. One hand began to move, but she stopped it in time. What did he tell her? What has he been telling her? Oh, God...
"Good night, Sara."
Catherine turned and unlocked the door to her car. She was already inside, her purse thrown onto the passenger seat, when Sara's tall frame blocked her window. Catherine could see her breathing heavily. The girl looked scared.
"Look, forget it, okay? It is none of my business. Nobody can read him really, so what do I know? Just go on and live your life, Sara. That's all anybody can do."
It was nearly dusk, and she was looking up at Sara from an odd angle, seeing her face only in the few inches between the top of the open car door and the straight line made by the edge of the car's roof. It was a narrow vantage point, a distorted perspective, but still, she would have sworn that she saw the glisten of moisture in the younger woman's eyes. She felt a tinge of guilt and made her voice a little softer.
"That's all anybody can do." Catherine wrapped her fingers around the door handle and held it tightly. Before she pulled it closed, she tried to smile. "Try to have a good night. At least you're not alone, right?"
Sara stepped back a moment after she heard the door slam shut. She didn't wait to see the car begin to pull out. The wind was pushing her hair into her face again, nearly blinding her. She didn't bother to push it aside. There wasn't much point. There wasn't much point to anything, anymore. Not one damn thing.
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