by Amanda Hawthorn
Rating: PG-13/ maybe R when finished
Spoilers: Loosely based on season 4
Archive: Sara and Grissom and my site http://www.pink-martini.net/amanda/
Disclaimer: CSI belongs to CBS and Alliance-Atlantis Productions. No infringement intended.
Feedback: Love it, but no flames please I'm fragile!!
Author's Note: Thanks to everyone who is still reading and huge thanks to Marlou as always.
Summary: Grissom and Sara try to rebuild their relationship. Sequel to Bulletproof.
© Amanda Hawthorn October 2003
Catherine headed straight for the women's washroom; the first logical place where she knew Sara would head for. Her mind was reeling as she walked, Sara's visible scars still haunting her mind. She'd said some pretty awful things back in the break room, things she wished she could take back and bury along with all the other regrets that had started to pile up in her wake.
Coming to the washroom door, she pushed it open slowly as she entered into the dimly lit room. Catherine knew Sara wasn't one to take things to heart and pour out her tears to just anyone, not that she'd ever feel close enough to her to actually feel comfortable with that. No, Sara was a strong willed woman, and truth be told, that's why their personalities clashed so often. Taking a breath, she listened to the silence. Maybe Sara hadn't come to the sanctuary of this room after all. Just as she was about to turn around she heard a gagging sound, alerting her to another presence in the room. "Sara?" she asked cautiously as she took a further few steps, leading her away from the door.
The sound of someone vomiting violently caused her to take a step back and she wondered again if she had made an enormous mistake in coming here. She was torn with uncertainty as she heard the toilet flush, wondering whether she should go outside and give the other person some privacy, but she seemed to be fixed to the same spot, unable to move.
The cubicle door opened and Sara stepped out looking incredibly pale. She eyed Catherine warily as she walked slowly over towards the basins and turned on the cold-water tap. Splashing water over her face just as she had done earlier in the day, she caught sight of Catherine's reflection in the mirror, her eyes still upon her. "I don't want to argue anymore Catherine," she muttered tiredly, "Say whatever it is you want to say."
Taking a step closer, Catherine reached out a tentative hand and touched her shoulder. She could feel Sara's muscles tense beneath her shirt but she kept her hand still as she tried to instill some warmth into the young woman before her. "I'm sorry for the things I said to you. I had no idea."
Closing her eyes, Sara tried to control the shaking that desperately tried to permeate her body, but she fought it with everything she possessed, still unwilling to show her vulnerability, even now. She knew her voice would no doubt betray her turmoil, so she kept silent, still unsure of what she should say.
"I shouldn't have accused you of those things," Catherine continued, stepping closer as she spoke. "I've been under a lot of pressure with personal issues, and Lindsey. I'm sorry I took my frustrations out on you." She waited patiently for Sara to say something, anything, but she remained silent, her eyes still firmly closed. "Sara say something, please?"
"What do you want me to say?" Sara asked quietly as she opened her eyes.
"I don't know, anything. Yell, scream, swear at me, I don't care, just say something."
"I'm so tired," Sara whispered sadly, "I'm tired of fighting. I'm tired of closing my eyes only to be thrust back into my nightmares. I'm tired of being alone."
"Honey you're not alone," Catherine told her softly as she came around to stand beside her. "You have all of us here."
"No I don't Catherine." Standing up straight, Sara turned around to face her. "I know if it came down to it and Grissom had to make a choice between us, I'm not so sure he'd ever pick me."
"Sara, we're not like that," Catherine squeezed her shoulder as she spoke. "Everyone here knows that Gil and I have been friends for a long time."
"Yeah I know, and my point is just that. You guys, all of you were together before I even came here, and the second I came into your lives you've never once tried to put some faith in me. None of you."
"Everyone trusts your abilities Sara, you've proved to us all time and time again just why Gil wanted you here."
"That's just my point Catherine," Sara sighed, "my abilities you trust, and that's all. As for Griss wanting me here, I'm not so sure he does anymore."
"Give him time Sara, he's too set in his ways to even begin to start letting someone else into his life." Stepping back, Catherine let her hand drop from Sara's shoulder as she fought to make her understand. "He told me about your invitation because he was confused, not because he wanted to mock you Sara. He's a lot of things, but that's not one of them."
Sara remained silent, her eyes avoiding Catherine's as she fought to keep the tears away from her eyes. She loved Grissom, maybe too much, and now, after all this time she wondered if maybe she needed to step away from him and give him the freedom to breathe.
"He didn't tell me anything else Sara," Catherine continued. "He wouldn't do that to you."
"You sound just like him," Sara whispered softly. She could feel the struggle with her tears beginning to wage a war within her heart, and she wasn't so sure she could control her emotions for much longer.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Catherine offered, lifting her hand to touch Sara's arm once more. "I don't know what happened to you, but I think I have a pretty good idea."
"You have no idea," Sara whispered, closing her eyes against the images invading her mind. "No one knows, and no one will EVER know."
"What about your friend?" Catherine asked quietly, "Couldn't you talk to him?"
"Mark?" Sara asked, opening her eyes to look directly into Catherine's. "He was the one who found me, he was there when..." Stopping mid sentence, Sara pulled away from Catherine's touch and looked at her reflection again in the mirror. "I'm a mess."
"Sara you're fine."
"Yeah," Sara huffed, "I think you nailed it before when you said I didn't bother about my appearance."
Catherine's mind cast back to the point in time when she had muttered those words to Sara. Another regret that was adding to all the others and she fought to find something to say that could erase that remark from Sara's memory. "I didn't mean that," she told her, "not in the way you think it was."
"I know what you meant Catherine," Sara sighed. "I'm damaged goods. I have too much emotional baggage for any man to invest any personal interest in." Turning to face the blonde woman beside her, Sara plastered a false smile onto her lips. "I think I'd better get back to work before Grissom gets pissy with me again and realizes that he doesn't really need me after all and fires me."
"Sara..." Catherine gasped at her words.
"Don't feel bad Catherine," Sara told her as she moved towards the door, "everyone here trusts you and supports you. You don't have to fight to survive, not in the way that I do."
"To what Catherine?" Sara whispered sadly, her voice laced with suppressed anger. "None of you notice that I am struggling to breathe every second of every day. None of you notice that sometimes I lose the struggle and I'm almost drowning before your eyes. None of you care what happens to me, so please don't insult me by pretending that you do, okay?" Before she pulled the door open, Sara took a deep breath before she spoke again. "For Grissom's sake let's at least try and get along at work. We'll never be best friends, and you don't even have to like me, but for his sake, let's just pretend that everything's fine, at least until I can find another job. Then you can tell him how awful I really am."
"I would never do that Sara," Catherine told her through tears. "How could you ever think that I would?"
Turning around to face her, Sara fixed her with tear filled eyes. "How many times have you guys gone out to breakfast without me? When was the last time I was invited over to your place with the others? You won't even accept my contribution towards a birthday present for your daughter. Should I really go on?"
"I'm so sorry," Catherine told her as a tear escaped from her eyes. "I didn't realize you felt this way, I never understood you before."
"And you understand me now?" Sara scoffed, "Look it's no big deal, I've always been alone, I'm used to the isolation."
"Well you shouldn't be used to it dammit," Catherine groaned, stepping closer towards her. "You're not alone anymore, you're part of this family now Sara."
"I wish that was true Cath, I really do." Turning away from her, Sara pulled open the door to take a step out into the corridor, leaving a tearful Catherine to watch on helplessly as she left.
By the time Sara returned to the morgue she had all but banished the sorrow from her heart. She had to accept that she didn't belong here in any other capacity but for her ability to work. She didn't like the fact that work was all she was and had, but she understood now that maybe work was all she would ever have to offer.
Grissom looked up from the young woman's body when Sara came slowly into the room. His heart leapt inside his chest when he caught sight of her sad eyes. Beside him, Mark Burrows moved swiftly to her side to gather her into a friendly hug. "You okay?" he asked in a whisper.
"I'm fine Mark," she told him softly, her empty eyes conveying to him that it wasn't his arms she needed to feel around her right now, but she kept silent all the same. Moving away from him, she stepped around him to go and stand opposite Grissom, studying the woman's body as if the answers would leap out at her from sheer will alone.
"Sara?" Grissom asked, his voice no more than a whisper as he coaxed her eyes to his. He wanted to ask so many questions right now, but he didn't know where to start. Taking a breath, his eyes fell onto Sara's friend who had once again taken up residence by her side, and his words died on his lips.
"I'm fine," she told him by way of an answer, her eyes recognizing the tiniest glimmer of emotion in his blue depths. Dropping her eyes from his again, she looked down to the unknown woman on the table. "So is this the same MO as the other murders?"
"Harvey," Mark groaned, turning to her as he spoke. "It can't be the same MO honey, Alan Wilson is dead."
Sara's eyes darted up to Marks face, a flash of anger piercing her eyes. "Humor me," she told him before turning to Grissom, "Grissom, you know my capabilities right?"
"Of course," he nodded, unsure what else she expected him to say. He watched on uncertainly when Sara once again turned towards the man by her side. "You were there Mark, you know what he did. This woman bears all the same characteristics of the previous murders. Do I need to remind you how those women were tortured to death? I was almost..." Stopping mid sentence, she closed her eyes to regain some of her composure.
"Sara," she told him angrily, "I no longer attend Harvard, my name is Sara. I suggest you use it." Stepping back, she turned to Grissom once more, "I'll be in Trace if you need me." She gave Mark one last glare before walking towards the door and made good her escape.
Moving to follow, Grissom moved swiftly around the table to capture Marks arm, holding him in his vice like grip. "Leave her," he commanded, his voice rising in sheer pitch and volume as he fixed Mark Burrows with determined eyes.
"I don't think you understand, she..."
"No. I don't think you understand," Grissom told him flatly. "You are here to assist in this case, not to hassle one of my CSI's."
"Sara is my concern," Mark challenged, hoping to bait Grissom further.
"From 11 P.M. until 7.30 A.M. she is MY concern. If you can't keep personal feeling out of the work place I suggest you leave."
"That's the difference between us Grissom," Mark told him angrily. "I care about her." Pulling his arm away from Grissom's grip, he stormed out of the doors and went in search of his friend.
Grissom watched the swinging doors, his mouth twitching in anger as he turned back towards Al Robbins and reverted back into Gil Grissom, CSI.
Sara looked up from the computer when Catherine came into the room carrying two cups of steaming coffee. "Hey," she offered softly as she came over to pull up a chair beside her.
"Hey," Sara nodded quietly, keeping her eyes fixed on the screen of missing persons that followed the same steady pattern one after another.
"Thought you could use one of these," Catherine smiled, holding out a Styrofoam cup to her. Sara's eyes left the screen and met the blonde woman's beside her. She could see the openness in Catherine's eyes and for a moment, Sara allowed her resolve to crack, just for a little while. Reaching out, she took the cup from her hands to take a grateful sip from the burning hot liquid. "Thanks."
"So any luck with our mystery woman?" Catherine asked as she tried to keep the conversation going even though it was strained.
"Nothing," Sara sighed sadly, her eyes returning to the screen. "This is the second time in three days that I have had to look for a young woman who no one seems to miss. I mean, is it just me or has there been an increase in rapes over the last few weeks?"
"Sara," Catherine whispered, placing her coffee down onto the table beside them. "You need to tell someone."
"What?" Sara asked quickly, her eyes darting to Catherine's only to return back to the screen to hide the burning tears that had started to gather in her eyes. "No."
"No." Pushing herself back in her chair, Sara looked up towards the ceiling and then closed her eyes. "It's gone, in the past. No one else should have the nightmares I have."
"If you talked about it, then the nightmares would ease." Sitting forward in her chair, Catherine leaned over to touch Sara's arm lightly. "Think about it?"
"I've lived with the nightmares for over ten years Catherine, and no doubt I'll be plagued with them for a very long time to come. I wouldn't want anyone to suffer the way those girls did." Sitting back up in her chair, Sara once again began scrolling down the list of missing persons, indicating to Catherine that this topic of conversation was over.
Catherine watched her quietly, the worry inside her chest burning through into her eyes as she calmly sat beside the young woman who had shown everyone, time and time again, just why she was so good at what she did. So staying in her seat, she remained close-by hoping her presence showed Sara that she cared enough to still be here.
"There she is," Sara gasped triumphantly, turning to Catherine as she spoke. "Shauna Holmes, age 22, she's been missing since Tuesday."
"Good work Sara," Catherine beamed. "I'll find Brass."
"Ok, I'll go and bug Greg. We need that DNA." Both women stood and walked simultaneously towards the door. "See you later."
Catherine turned and offered her another smile, "Later."
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