Title: She never could let go
Author: Elizabeth Carter
Feedback address: email@example.com
Date in Calendar: 11 June 2005
Pairing: Sara / Catherine established
Fiction: Missing Scene
Rating: P.G.: note any graphic bits are as equal to what is aired on the show
Summary: Sometimes doing your best isn't always good enough....or in time.
Spoilers: Heavy for Lady Heather's box
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC DD05
Disclaimer: Fanfic with no copyright infringements intended. Just pure fan fun. Much of which could not have been written without my muse, my own beloved.
All tales start some where, this one started out as a classic.
Once upon a time.....
No.... this story doesn't start at the beginning, but at the end.
The case had been emotionally grueling. It had taxed Sara's heart deeply, for several different reasons.
Her back to the door, her mind wrapped around the failure to pin the murder of Eddie Willows on any one person, circled as an albatross above Sara's soul, the woman had not heard Catherine enter the layout lab until she spoke. Sara's hand hovered above the paper work and packets of evidence she had before her.
"So you're calling it?" The biting tone in Catherine's voice was unmistakable. She stopped writing, looked up and all she wanted to do was to look away, but she was unable to.
"I got two liars and no murder weapon ... and no choice." Sara answered. Her regret, her sorrow so clear. Her throat tightened, yet she managed to keep her voice and hold back the tears of her remorse. " I'm going to nail the singer on child endangerment and fleeing the scene, and the dealer goes up on possession for sale."
Catherine didn't want to understand it. A part of her still felt that if Grissom had taken the case, Warrick even Nick that they would have been able to solve it, that they would have found the person to blame. A part of her mind screamed at her that Sara had settled for what she could get. Candeece Pink-haired Lady was only going to serve seven years for the death of Lindsey's father. The dealer might have gotten life but it wasn't enough she should have gotten death. And yet a part of Catherine battled with her anger, her rage, this part of her knew what her lover was saying was true. Either way she didn't have to like it.
"What a great bedtime story for my little girl." The words were spoken with more accusation, that Sara was incompetent.
"Cat, I did my best." Sara pleaded. She had not given up. She wanted to find answers. Two liars, no weapon. There was no choice. None.
The scene in the hall played over and over in Sara's mind even now when Catherine, the woman who had been her lover for over a year said nothing further.
She didn't have to.
Sara watched as Catherine moved like a ghost from the room, leaving Sara with renewed pain and guilt and the memory of the words slung at her in the hall way only yesterday.
Ignoring the plaintive pleas of the young singer, Sara whisked Catherine into the hall of LVPD, confronting her, unable to keep the disbelief out of her voice. "What the hell are you doing?" her arms wide in an exasperated gesture, "Do you know where you're at right now?" Her hands displaying both her irritation and her non-threatening position.
"I've been here a lot longer than you ..." Catherine said between her clenched teeth, her rage still dangerously violent.
"And you should know better." Sara's voice was icon of calmness, knowing that Catherine was only looking for a fight.
"And I wouldn't have to be here if you were doing your job properly." the older woman snarled, her finger poised like a knife, punctuating each word she said.
Sara nearly fell back as if sucker-punched. "There is a difference between me doing my job and you wanting to do it for me." Jaw tight she bit back her irritation, "You don't want to get the job done. What you want, right now, is revenge."
"You're going to tell me what I want, huh?" Catherine was almost on the verge of slamming Sara into the wall of the hallway. And here was her lover....telling her what she wanted, that she had no right to her righteous indignation over that woman in the other room.
"Go home, Catherine." Sara said gently. "Be with your daughter. She's the one that needs you." Before Catherine's words could sting her further, Sara stalked away leaving the strawberry blonde to stare after her.
Sara bit down the ache of pain, its throbbing hold viciously kept her hostage.
I wouldn't have to be here if you were doing your job properly. Do. Your. Job. Properly.
The words continued to burn through Sara's mind on the way to the evidence locker, on her way home, through more than a few beers and throughout the early dawn and into the daylight hours when she was supposed to be sleeping. Not that she slept much as it was.
I wouldn't have to be here if you were doing your job properly.....
Restlessness dictated Sara's motives for what she felt she had no choice but to do. Her lover for Catherine and Lindsey demanded it of her. Catherine had plunged herself into her work in the few days following Eddie's death, not wanting to face a pair of blue eyes at home. Eyes that would never see her Daddy alive again.
Unable to bear the pain and guilt that came with it, Catherine retreated into her work, only at night did she cry. The only thing she held onto then was her daughter, both mourning. So effective was Catherine's exile that she had all but banished Sara from her life.
Once lover, now their relationship was back to the near resentment that Sidle was even in the same building. Lindsey was allowed to talk to and see Sara when ever she needed to or wanted to, Catherine wasn't going to take that away from her daughter, even if the object of her daughter’s affection couldn't solve the case.
Sara felt her world break away and crumble. A day stretched into two and Catherine wouldn't even meet Sara’s eyes after the younger woman was forced to close the case. The funeral was scheduled soon after and Catherine took it as an excuse and the reason why she had no time for Sara.
I wouldn't have to be here if you were doing your job properly.....
Grissom thankfully had forced Catherine to take the next few days off, to properly mourn the loss of her ex-husband, even if he wasn't the best father or husband or ex, there was a part of Catherine that still cared for him. For the most part Catherine mourned for her little girl.
I wouldn't have to be here if you were doing your job properly.....when the spirit moves you Sara, and in your case, I'd say that was never....since when do you care about how you look......What a wonderful bedtime story to tell my little girl......
‘I will find you the answers, Catherine. I'm going to change that bed time story for Linds.' Sara bit down on any pain she held. She knew how to do that. Her parents made sure she knew how to suppress the pain of a broken heart, to hide the evidence of turmoil. Sara Sidle if anything was an exceptional student, which in turn made her an exceptional CSI.
I wouldn't have to be here if you were doing your job properly.....
There was one person Sara knew of that could help her find the answers for Catherine and Lindsey. Just by her asking he would do it, because a part of him loved her.
"Hey you got Greg." The young man said as he stretched some of the kinks out in his back. Most of his night off he had been sucked into the world Playstation, and unaware just how much time had actually past. Unlike the guys at work who played all manner of sports games, Sanders preferred Action / adventure games or even the odd RPG.
‘Greg, hi its me.'
"Sara!" the young man felt his heart beat a little fast and it had nothing to do with the game, saving his progress he immediately shut the game down so he might give his forever crush his full attention. "I'm here for you." He couldn't help the smile that crept onto his face.
‘You're still a certified diver, right... look it doesn't matter I need you to teach me, I need to go diving.'
"You need to go diving." Sanders parroted.
"Why do you need to dive?" Sanders' mind took a detour envisioning Sara's body slick with KY jelly so she could slide into the wet suit. Coughing and adjusting in his chair because his jeans became a little tight he tried again, hoping there would be no squeak in his voice.
“It's for a case.”
"Um....ok...where Lake Meed? Sara, PD has divers...."
“Greg please. It's private...it's important.” Sara tried to keep her waning patience.
Letting out a sigh, Greg nodded, then felt foolish because Sara couldn't see his acquiescence. "Okay. I'll drop by a buddy of mine. She's about your size and she'll loan me her wet suit and gear. I have only the one tank. Do you want me to come pick you up?"
“No just meet me outside, we’re taking two cars. And, Greg? Thank you.”
“Sure thing, Sara. Anytime, you need me....you got me.” He didn't mean to sound desperate, only supportive. No matter what came, Greg would always be there to cover her back, to protect her if she needed it, not that she ever did. He would forever love her, even if her own love for him was more along the lines of a sibling. If that was all she could offer him, Sanders would take it.
"Okay you want to tell me why we're going diving in the drainage canals?" Greg started as he was sorting the various accouterments of scuba diving.
"Evidence, I need to find a gun."
Greg frowned, Grissom would never okay this. There were others in the lab and in PD that were experienced divers and certified for underwater retrieval of evidence. "So what's the real reason?" Greg played.
Sara gave him a pained look. "I told you the truth; I need to find a gun."
"This is off the records isn't it?" Greg persisted. "I think I know why we’re here. This is the spot where Lindsey and her dad went in."
Again the look of pain behind the soulful brown orbs.
"Sara this is insane, you can't bring back the dead." Greg touched her arm. "I know about the argument in the hall way, what Catherine said to you was way out of line. You're the best CSI next to Grissom, maybe even better then him. Sara, you have nothing to prove. Why are you doing this? I don't think you'll find your missing weapon. I'm sorry she's hurting you but this....going diving for a gun that isn't there? Sara....you're....chasing rabbits.."
"I can try to put Lindsey and Catherine at ease, they will know who did this to ...to Eddie. If there is even a remote chance a gun is down there, then there's a chance to change things. Like I said you can help me or I'll find a commercial avenue that will." Sara's eyes drew taut.
Greg combed his fingers through his spikey bleached hair, his teeth gnawing at his bottom lip. "I said I'll, I'll help."
Sara's expression changed from stubborn resolve to gratitude. She leaned forward her lips brushing his cheek. "Thank you."
"Hey, I'm just doing this so I can spread K-Y jelly on your back." Sanders wiggled his eyebrows up and down playfully.
"And that is as far as you go," Sara bantered back. "You dive by yourself, so how do you get your own back?"
"Oh I squirt the lubricant inside the wet suit's back and slide home."
"Slide home?" Sara cocked her head. "Going Freudian on me, Sanders?"
"Wouldn't dream of it. But you know, use the right lube and you can slip right into a tight spot."
"Greg!" Sara chided, "Can we just do this?"
"Right. Sure thing." Trying to be the gentleman for once Greg squirted the gel on his hand to spread across Sara's long back. His mind drifted to how fortunate Catherine was, to be the one chosen by Sara. Catherine got to be the one Sara called out to while making love, got to touch and steal kisses from.
"Hey!" Sara called Greg back from his day dream. "I think I'm good to go."
"Oh ah sorry. I was trying not to look," the young man stumbled. "It's actually not that complicated. A gauge tells you how much air you have left in the tank. This particular gauge registers the amount of pressure you're exposed to and this the depth. Wear the tank upside down so you have full control over the flow." Greg shows Sara the intricacies of scuba diving including it's technical terms and how to control her breathing and rate of ascent.
"So you ready?" The lab-rat asked
Sara nodded, "Yeah, lets hit it."
The storm had abated and the rain water had receded but where the car had plunged into the canal, the K-rail and downed fence Candeece had crashed through had made a crude dam, thus creating a blockade of water that was several feet deep. Paradoxically the area where Eddie Willow's body was recovered was laced with puddles only, other wise the area was dry. Cadets had already scoured the area but they had uncovered nothing but landscape debris.
Sara wasn't satisfied. She trusted the cadets to do their jobs well but for her own satisfaction she would search the area herself and after she had made a grid. It would be the same for the underwater hunt. The area to be searched was gridded before Sara even went looking for her elusive bit of evidence, a .22 handgun.
In the first two hours they had found nothing probative, bits of headlight, concrete, foliage but nothing more. The submerged search area looked like an archeologists' dig-site with quadrants gridded off with yellow nylon rope.
Two more hours and still nothing probative. And they were forced to give up for lack of oxygen.
Hoisting herself onto the cement embankment, Sara urged the flippers that were on her feet off, before she took off the mask and tank. "Let’s get these filled and go back down."
"Sara it’s not a good idea to over do it your first day down. Your body has to adapt and recoup. Even pro-divers come up for air every four hours or so. Your body is going to be sore as it is." Greg tried to use reason, knowing Sara appreciated logic.
"I get it Greg." Sara smiled. "And you're right, four hours down is more tiring than I thought it might. Don't worry. I'm not going to over do it."
"Good." Greg said cheekily. "I'll hold you to that."
Days had passed, Catherine continued to give Sara the cold shoulder, even after the funeral. Allowing Lindsey to have quality Sara-time but Catherine would make excuses for her girlfriend why she couldn't come to the house, or have dinner or spend the night.
Sara knew her time with Catherine had come to an end, the blonde closed it just as Sara had to close the case of the murder of Eddie Willows. Sara retreated further and further into herself. Pouring her energy into her cases working the typical seventy hours a week and then some. She would leave the labs, go home only to grab her own gear which she had purchased and go back to the drainage canals in search for the .22 pistol that had killed Lindsey's father.
After four hours under the water, Sara would stop her search, go home to sleep four hours, eat give two hours to Lindsey then head back to the labs to start the process all over.
Days passed into a week. A week passed into a month.
Gaunt, dark circles under her eyes, Sara became a shadow of herself. Though her work wasn't suffering, she was. Greg worried about her. Sara had not kept her word. She said she wouldn't over do it, even after she had Greg convinced looking for the gun was indeed futile.
Biting his lip the young man approached Sara, and blew out a breath of air he had been holding. He wasn't sure how best to approach her, but for the love of their friendship he had to. He saw Sara going towards the coffee pot, and placed his hand over hers, unaware that while doing so from the hall a seething blonde was watching the exchange.
"Naw, you don't want that sludge. I brought in Havana Blue." He quirked a smile.
Sara smirked and playfully ruffled his hair before placing a kiss on his cheek. "You're a lifesaver."
"Glad you think so." Greg said. "Sara—how long are you going to be keeping this to yourself?" Greg whispered. "Sara, come on I can even see you dropped some weight that isn't good for you, and you're almost always wearing sunglasses so no one see the dark circles. And you're way too pale, even for you. Please Sara, just let it go."
In the hallway just as she had done as she watched Vega and Sara interrogate the Pink-Haired bimbo, she stared, grinding her teeth, trying to hold down the rage that was threatening to erupt.
Her girlfriend was standing so close to Greg, almost intimately so. Yes Catherine had said that she and Sara were on a break, but she didn't expect Sara to fill the empty spot in her bed so quickly and with the DNA lab-rat. Willows was seething.
She darted in swiftly brushing past Greg as she did nearly tipping him off his feet. "Hey Greg-o why don't you stop whispering sweet nothings into Sidle's ear so we can all get to work. Some of us have to do that you know. Work." The whole time her eyes never left Sara's.
Trailing behind Catherine, were Warrick and Nick, both wincing as they heard the words being said and the frozen look the blonde was giving the younger woman. It took them back to Sara's first month in Vegas. ‘When the spirit moves you, in your case Sara, I'd say never.' Since the death of her ex-husband, Catherine had nearly shut Sara out of her life completely.
Someone young, beautiful had expressed an interest in her. Catherine had willingly taken the love Sara offered, then she took it away, and seemingly gave it to someone else.
Sara looked away; unable to meet the once beautiful face and gorgeous blue eyes that now reflected only contempt. A gesture Catherine took for guilt she had seen it often enough on Eddie, to know something was up. Something her girlfriend and the kid were hiding. Though she had no probative evidence Catherine followed what she had. Sara and Greg were conspiring over something, and Sara was more removed than ever.
The brunette sipped her specialty coffee.
"You must really love her." Greg muttered. "If you don't stop for yourself, then stop for her, Sara. You're killing yourself for something that isn't there"
"I have to try," was Sara's only response.
Grissom came in stopping any further conversations between Sara Greg and Catherine. The tech slipped past the enigmatic entomologist just as he started to brief his CSI's on the cases for the night.
Greg gave an involuntary yelp of surprise when he felt a hand clamp down on his shoulder, wheel him around only to be pinned against the red metal of his mustang.
"Jeez Catherine! Don't do that, you gave me a heart attack!" He clenched his hand at the end of his free arm to clutch the space over his heart.
“Want to tell me what the hell you're doing with my girlfriend?”
"Ehe?" the brown eyes of the young man blinked in his confusion.
"I'll give you a little refresher. In the briefing room at the beginning of shift, what was that?"
"I was just... being me."
"It looks like you two are close. In fact I happen to know she spends a lot of time with you. You see a lot of her. A lot more than just casual friends."
"Catherine, you're...." Greg stopped. "She loved you, Catherine. I can't believe you would even think Sara is anything like that. She's not Eddie! She loves you. Yeah, I admit I've had my fantasies but they are just that. She chose you, Catherine. She wants you, Catherine." Greg moved away from Catherine. "You have no idea how much she loves you, if you're out here slamming me into cars."
For a moment the blonde remembered herself. She saw the fear in the young man's eyes, and the same in her own.
"Go to her, look at her Catherine. What you're going to see is a result of her dedication to you, to Lindsey and to her work. And for the record she's a great CSI. You should tell her that too. We both look up to you. But right now, I don't know who you are. Do you know where you are right now? Go to your girlfriend, Catherine. She's the one that needs you right now."
Greg turned from Catherine, got into his car started the ignition and drove away leaving the blonde to stare after the retreating sports car.
Sara slid into the wetsuit, hoisting the tank onto her back and checked the gauges. After the second week Greg had thought the search was over, and Sara had had him convinced it was. But it wasn't. It never would be.
Three hours in the hunt, Something caught the CSI's eye. Something out of place in the depths of the canal. Instinct took over. Going for the utility belt at her side, Sara retrieved the aqua-camera so that she might take pictures of the broken branches and rubble from the rare ‘winter' storms. A month of frequent storms could devastate a desert, and yet it gave it life for the triple digit heat index for the coming months.
Multiple shots later, Sara moved the rubble and she gulped, her heart hammering loud. She had found the gun!
Sara wanted to scream, shout, do something to celebrate.
Professionalism kicked in as she took several more shots of the gun where it lay. She put the camera away in her utility belt and took out a red seal evidence bag. Sealing the bag, Sara marked it with a special pen used by research scuba-divers who collected data whilst they were underwater.
Under the water, it was an odd echoing sound, the dull thud of metal against metal. Sara turned from placing the gun into an evidence bag, her mind trying to process just what it was she had heard.
The aqueducts were opening. Saving the city from a flash flood the rains had brought with them.
Water surged forward. Visibility became terrible. The churning rush making it impossible to gain one’s bearings. Up was down, down was down further. The tunnels were vast, with no lighting even more disorientating.
Panic set in, took over, dominating. Sara fell away convulsively, feeling as though she'd been shoved. Her heart hammered in her ears and the sense of spinning intensified into a sickening whirl. Desperate she clawed at the rush of water battering her body, slamming her against the culvert grating with such force it sent riptides through the bones in her body.
Sara was in righteous terror, now.
Roaring agony tore through her body, drowning the clashing inward voices that told her she was going to die. The water surged, ripping, tearing---a mini typhoon in a eight foot cylindrical tunnel, slamming Sara's body until it resembled little more than a rag doll. Never did she let up her death's hold on the evidence bag. Her arm held it close to her body, making it an impossibility to catch hold of any purchase. Her only thought... ‘Preserve the evidence. Change the bedtime story for Lindsey.'
Kicking frantically, feeling that heavy-pressured hum in her head that kept screaming. Air! Give me air! The more her body screamed the more it hyperventilated, drawing in the oxygen in the tank. Taking on too much air, choking in panic as the monster water gained on her, beating her.
She couldn't get the tank free from between the rails of the steel gate. She was trapped.
‘I'm dead. ....change the bedtime story. I have to change the story....' She struggled not to think about it, just put all her waning energy into kicking, fighting, struggling. In the dim light in this nightmare underwater world Sara became ensnared in death's embrace. She flailed, and kicked to no avail, watching as a new wave of water surged forward, knowing the mini-tidal wave would crush her.
‘Knife!" Greg's voice screamed in her mind. The struggling stopped for the frantic search for her utility belt. She found it; fumbling fingers nearly made her drop it twice. She only had one free hand. After all of this she would not let go of her treasure, the gun.
Blade free, Sara cut the straps of the tank. She took in greedy gulps of air, and pushed forward from the grating. The current lashed at her, pushing her as waves breaking on the beach. As a child Sara had been caught once on a rip tide and nearly died. She had lost her surfing board but she had her life. Sara would not lose the gun even if it meant she would lose her life. Her hand clutched tighter on the bag.
Now without air, no bearings, Sara had one thought. ‘Get air!'
She couldn't give up hope now. She kicked hard, rocketing up toward the looming surface of the water. Her head emerged into life giving air, greedily sucking it in, painfully. Rain pelted down on her, another storm equal to that of the one where Lindsey had lost her dad. Finding purchase on the angled sides of the canal, Sara climbed on her belly using her weight to give her leverage as she struggled with renewed desperation for the roadside.
Sure exhaustion took her over. Her hand hurt where it held on to the bag with the gun. Even if she wanted to she couldn't open her hand. The muscles had frozen solid.
Sara was still gasping in much needed air as she looked at the wondrous impossible treasure in her hand.
Looking at it she knew it wasn't a .22. It was a .45
She was still crying when Search and Rescue found her. Greg leading the charge. "I told you! See there she is! SARA!!!!"
Deep lacerations, contusions, a massive concussion, pneumonia, exhaustion and a sprained wrist, Sara had been admitted into Desert Palms Emergency, under the very effective care of a Doctor Rothery. It took her four days to become fully conscious.
On fifth day, Catherine had come to see her girlfriend. Panic and worry filling her. Until she saw Sara's pale form lying the bed. Her panic turned to anger. Anger that Sara had needlessly risked her life.
"I didn't ask you to do this," were Catherine's first words as she entered Sara's hospital room. “What did you think you could do? You should have just left it be. Finding the weapon? What… You thought you might put it in the hands of the killer? God it’s not even the right gun. If you died what the hell am I supposed to tell my daughter?" Catherine all but stormed the hospital bed Sara was lying in. Catherine had made it evidently clear her faith in Sara was perfunctory, both in skills and as a lover.
Sara opened her dark brown eyes, blinking back the exhaustion in her soul and the lethargy from the meds being pumped into her. She was so fatigued that she could scarcely remain cognitive of her surroundings. She felt Catherine's ire sure enough.
"Whatever the hell you want, Catherine. Seems to me you've been doing a good job of that so far. You know she's asking me why I'm always working and never over anymore. I'm not going to turn the tables and tell her, you don't want me there. I just let her believe whatever it is you want her to believe. Maybe I was ... Out there making a fool out of myself chasing rabbits because I don't do my job properly."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Catherine was now gripping the metal rails of the bed, until her knuckles turned white.
"Nothing...everything... I don't know. Look you made it pretty clear about us. There wasn't any us left. Had I found the right gun, I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be tearing into me. I'm sorry. I couldn't bring a better end to your bedtime story for Lindsey. I tried Catherine. I'm tired. ...just leave. I can't do this right now; I'm not strong enough to fight with you."
Sara turned in the hospital bed, her eyes half mast as she removed the needles that attached her to the IV drips. The fight, the spirit gone from her. Her heart shattered. She had found a gun but not the right one, she wanted to prove her skills as a CSI and failed miserably, and she had lost the woman she loved over a ghost. Now free of the medical equipment, Sara pushed herself off the bed, gathered her old Harvard sweats, that unknown to her Catherine had brought in during Sara's first day in the hospital, and quickly donned them.
She knew Catherine would mourn Eddie, Lindsey of course would also mourn her father for months if not years to come. Sara had dared to think she might be able to be there for the two ladies she loved. The grief and anger Catherine held was too strong. Sara tried to battle it, but Catherine had slammed the door on her and their relationship.
"I just wish that you trusted me," Sara whispered to the air.
"Sara... .I owe you an apology."
"Apologies are just words." Sara whispered and left Catherine staring after her in the hospital room.
Both had eyes filled with tears.