Title: Shadows of the Present
Author: Elizabeth E. Carter
Feedback address: email@example.com
Date in Calendar: 16 December 2006
Pairing: Sara / Catherine
Category: Missing scene
Series: companion piece to Shadows of the Past and Shadows of the Present
Spoilers: Lady Heather’s Box thru to season 6
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DW06
Archive: Passion and Perfection. Dark Matter
Disclaimer: I am not wasting time to list who owns them at CBS etc. and I don't. This is fanfic.
Note: Written for the Dark Days of Winter 2006 ficathon
Shadows of the Present
by Elizabeth E. Carter
Catherine had gone yet another round with her daughter. It was going from bad to worse, until there were more bad days then good. Therapy both individual and family didn’t seem to be working. Lindsey was still belligerent, foul-tempered and rebellious more than the typical teen. The only ray of golden hope was the relationship between her child and her colleague and now close friend Sara Sidle. Since that dark day when Catherine discovered the truth of Sara’s hurtful past, and especially after the Adam Trent incident they became close.
Sara was still as skittish as a feral kitten around Catherine on a personal level looking always for the hurtful moment that she believed would eventually come. The trust was tentative but steadily growing. The one thing Catherine was very much aware of was the friendship and bonding her child had with Sara. Both had seen their father’s as bastards that were murdered in front of them at relatively the same age. Sara was only two years older than Lindsey at the time. But Lindsey’s relationship with her father was far far better than Sara’s had been. Eddie Willows might have been feckless and manipulative but he was far from the rapist and abuser Mathew Sidle had been.
Lindsey was under the impression her mother barely tolerated Sara, and for a time Catherine allowed this delusion to continue for more often than not Lindsey ‘ran-away’ to Sara’s more than she did to Sam Braun. Lindsey figured Sara would piss her mother off more and Catherine couldn’t have been happier her child was in the safest possible place, second only than home.
Sara was well aware of the covert intentions of the older woman as Catherine had let her in on her plan to have Sara be Lindsey’s safe haven. The condition was Catherine would not make disparaging remarks in front of or behind Sara’ back to the child on this pretense. Catherine had readily agreed. Sara also agreed not to allow such disparaging remarks about Catherine that clearly Eddie Willows had indulged in his daughter.
“You know the ‘Drama Queen’ threatened to bar dance practice and she said she wouldn’t let me take my drivers training test if I didn’t shape up.” Lindsey huffed loudly settled on Sara’s sofa with her arms crossed over her chest, her feet kicked up onto the coffee table.
“Hey you know calling people names isn’t something I allow here.” Unless of course it’s talking about the rat-bastard Ecklie. Sara smirked to herself as she moved from her tiny kitchen to the living room making sure that the youngest Willows woman didn’t see her hit speed dial on her phone or the fact she had hit speaker phone after she heard the click of ‘Willows’ on the other end.
“But come-on Sara! You know she is one!”
“I’m not denying your mother can be a bit dramatic at times but she’s far from a drama queen. She doesn’t remind me at all of those ladies on your soaps.”
Lindsey wrinkled her nose at that one. “Close enough.”
“She doesn’t get it; she had no idea what its like to be ‘the girl whose father was shot.’ You do. You know why ya sometimes have to fight. Sometimes it’s all you can do. I get so pissed off Sara, it’s like it all boils in me like… like ya know acid reflux and crap. I get so mad I want to hit and I hit back.”
“Lindsey you don’t want to be that person. You don’t want to carry it with you.”
Lindsey remained silent for so long Sara wondered if she had pushed too far. Finally Lindsey spoke, “Do you think my fighting will turn me in to a bad-person? Like… like your father?”
“I don’t think your that too far gone, Lindsey. Not yet, not if you can ask the question. But anger isn’t the answer. I know sometimes it’s all you have, anger can make you feel full, violence might seem liberating but all it is is an illusion.”
“So what am I supposed to get religion or something?” Lindsey spat.
“It might work in some case it does; I turned to more of a Zen approach to things. Martial Arts became an outlet for me to focus my rage at the world.”
“Aint that more violence?”
“It is controlled, centered, focused. It channels the dark within to something positive. Think of it this way. There are two dogs in you; one light, one dark whichever you feed the most will grow the strongest. What you have to do is feed the one you want to be. You will never get rid of the other one but it will become so small you won’t hear it over the sound of the other.”
“Is that Zen?” Lindsey asked softly, unconsciously taking Sara’s hand into hers as she had always done with her mother and traced the fine lines of bone and veins to draw a still comfort from it. And like she would with her mother, Lindsey draped the arm over her shoulder and snuggled in to the warm embrace. Sara never protested the need of a mother’s touch from Lindsey who was too prideful to take it from her own mother.
“Close enough.” Sara smiled. “Lindsey, all of us at headquarters feel the same way, we get protective of those we care about, and working and seeing the things we see, it sometimes is very frightening. We see people on their worst days of their lives, everyday. We are their last voice. Trust me; none of us want to be your last voice kiddo. You already had a ‘worst day of your life,’ do you want your mom, your nana and aunty and cousin to have a worse day? Your mom behaves like she does because she sees things she wished she didn’t have to know exists. You see, some people feed the wrong dog. And it devours everything good.”
“I can’t wait until I grow up,” Lindsey pouted, “then Mom can’t boss me around.”
Sara cracked up laughing so loud that Lindsey looked at her stunned then found herself laughing as well.
“Tell me kiddo, your nana still tell your mother what to do? “
“Ah crap!” Lindsey exaggerated and pretended to faint as if she were Camelia on stage. “I’ll never get away from her!”
“Not if she continues to be the protective mother she is.” Sara commented warmly.
Lindsey sat back up, her knees drew up under her chin as her arms wrapped around them. “She does love me doesn’t she?”
“Kiddo you hung the moon. She is over the world in love with you. To her you are the best thing to ever happen to her. Hang on to that as long as you can.” Sara winked and riffled the girl’s golden top. “Hey think of it like this, when you are an old woman like your mother and me, you can make your mom baby-sit for free like your mother gets your Nana to do.”
“So I better stop being a bitch just to get free babysitting when I’m what in my thirties?”
“Sara, why don’t you have kitten because of my swearing?”
“Because it is a very small thing compared to being a dumb-ass and hitchhiking, or being a Grade-A brat in school which could place you in boot-camp for being ASBO.”
Lindsey considered the words carefully. “Hitchhiking was a real dumb-ass thing to do wasn’t it?”
“When ya think a cab or calling your grandfather would have been better, YEAH. Besides if you were looking to piss off your mother, then yeah calling the old man would have been a better choice. And it wouldn’t have gotten you grounded. ”
Lindsey nodded, “I already feel stupid about it.”
“Good.” Sara said sternly.
“You think I am anti-social?”
“A little, but it comes with the territory, with what we lived with. The trick is not to let it take you down. I struggle with it. I’m not belligerent to the outside world, but yeah certain things tip me over the edge. And they will you too. The thing you have to remember is control. You want control take it, don’t let what happed rip away the control from you, we suffered enough as it is, we don’t need more.”
Lindsey snuggled under the arm once more as if she was with her mother. “Sara you really were hurt when you were little weren’t you. I mean bad.”
Sara stiffened, sighed and nodded. “Bad, yeah.”
“A ton of kids have divorced parents, that’s no big deal, not any more. And some kids even have dead fathers and some had moms that are dead on account of the War over there in the Gulf. But they don’t know what its like to have a murdered parent.”
“Brenda Collins doesn’t go to your School does she?”
Lindsey shook her head no.
“Or Cassie McBride…?”
“They lost their entire families because of homicide.” Sara said softly. “They know what it’s like, and worse. They have to live with being ‘the girl whose family was killed.’ I visit Brenda sometimes. She’s a year or two younger than you. Sometimes I have similar conversations with her. She was four when her family was taken from her, and she suffered a bit more…”
“Like you? She was hurt like you?” Lindsey asked and saw only that Sara nodded.
“God that’s horrible! A baby I mean God…!” Lindsey clutched at Sara tightly. “And what about Cassie?”
“Her family was shot and she was cut and left for dead.”
Lindsey whimpered. “Mom didn’t talk about any of it.”
“No she wouldn’t have and I wouldn’t have either, but I think it is important to know you’re not the only kid in Vegas that is hurting like you, that you’re not alone. And maybe knowing this and knowing how much your mom loves you and her having to see cases just like this to work on them puts her views into perspective. You get why she is super protective of you, why she becomes a ‘drama queen?’ It’s because we’ve had to work cases were babies like Brenda and Cassie were harmed when you weren’t much older then they were. And there are countless others.”
“Mom showed me a dead twenty year old in the morgue months back… but I got mad at her for it.”
“She was desperate, Kiddo. I think every time she works a case with a kid she sees you, your face, your body and she pulls a mama bear. You are her treasure, the best thing in her life, kiddo. Like I said you hung the moon for her. She told you about her past because she wants you to feel like you can tell her the truth. Because you know she’s done some questionable things, and things to get by like her dancing.”
“Like yeah she stripped and did coke so me doing something dumb-ass stuff like taking a sip of beer isn’t as bad and she won’t judge me. But won’t like condone it either.”
Lindsey nodded slowly. “Yeah okay, I get it.” She rose and stretched. “Can I crash here?”
“Your mom has to know.”
“I’ll give her a call.” Lindsey promised.
“She gives the okay fine, you can stay the night, take my bed for now, if you can we’ll make up the futon for you, if not you can take my bed until your mother gets off shift and she can collect you.”
Lindsey hugged Sara as tightly as she would have her Aunt Nancy before going to Sara’s bedroom to make a call she didn’t want to make.
Sara moved to the phone in the kitchen, switched the receiver from conference call to private mode. “Go easy on her, she’s trying.”
“Sara, thank you….” Catherine’s voice was thick from emotion, from tears privately shed.
“Of course.” The younger woman answered. “So what will it be?”
“Can I stay the night too?” a shy request.
“Of course.” A shy answer.
“I better hang up so she can call me.”
When Lindsey woke the next morning it was a disconcerting feeling as she didn’t know where she was. Then memory asserted itself and she recalled she had been allowed to crash at Sara’ place. Sometime during the night the lanky brunette had moved her to the living room and tucked her in.
Lindsey recalled that Sara allowed her to borrow a pair of sweatpants and a tee shirt even if they were a few sizes too big before she laid down but she didn’t remember moving from the bedroom to the futon in the living room.
Unfortunately Lindsey woke with a full bladder and needed to use the bathroom, she crept up out of the bed and moved down the tiny hall way to the bathroom right next door to the bedroom.
The door was slightly ajar and so Lindsey thought nothing of it to sneak her head in to see if Sara was up. What she didn’t expect was to see her mother snuggling up to Sara as if the younger CSI was some sort of teddy bear.
Both of them had smiles.
They were both slightly awake and neither of them noticed Lindsey hovering.
“Thank you for what you did for my girl.” Catherine said gently.
“I care about her, Cat.”
‘CAT! No one gets away with calling Mom, Cat!’ Lindsey’s mind yelped.
“I know and it feels wonderful to know she cares about you too.,”
“Oh my God, Becky! She let Sara call her Cat. No way!’
“Sara, you’re a blessing to both of us.”
‘How may times has Sara been able to call Mom ‘Cat’ with out her having a whole herd of cows?’ Lindsey stared then smirked. ‘Sara is blushing! Holy Hannah Sara is blushing!’
Sara kept silent she had nothing to say to that, her throat was tight from emotion. Catherine smiled fondly and softly placed a gentle kiss on the younger woman’s lips. A kiss that was unassuming, a kiss that was promising not of something more but of something safe.
‘Oh my God Mom is a lesbian! I thought she was a bit slutty for chasing after any dick that smiled at her… but Gods Sara! Whoohooo! Finally someone to treat mom right, to make Mom know she deserves respect and not a quick shag for shagging sake. I hope mom doesn’t frack this up. I hope she keeps Sara. Sara needs love, Mom. Good love, kind love. You have to treat her right on account of her being beat up as a kid and not knowing what real love is. Mom, please… please don’t frack this up for her, for you… for me! Oh please… I hope this isn’t a shag-buddy thing.. That this is real. I can deal with you being a dyke and all, no problemo even if you’re a part-time dyke, or bi what ever they call it. I hate the fact you shag guys like they were Kleenex. What they supposed to be strong soft and disposable? Sara isn’t disposable, Mom. You aren’t either so don’t screw around with this.’
The next minute seemed to pass like a week as Lindsey watched her mother kiss her friend in a way that most children made an ‘eww’ face at and ran away. Lindsey on other hand held her head up high believing the future had hope after all. And then she started the pee-pee dance and could no longer pretend to be a silent observer to so clearly a private moment.
In the bedroom Sara moved nuzzling Catherine’s jaw, “I think a little bird is up and around, I can hear someone prowling around in the bathroom. Are you ready for this?” Her pupils darted back and forth watching the woman who had over time become her lover.
The love between them had grown steadily out of the trust had had been cemented since the day Catherine had discovered Sara’ abusive tragic past. A love blossomed from the day Catherine had discovered Sara’s scalded body in the locker room after being attacked by a serial rapist in a mental institute for the criminally insane. Catherine was distraught to have discovered that the shower incident wasn’t a singular occurrence. But a ritual during such hard cases of domestic abuse and rape case. How Sara had survived the Strip Strangler with any skin intact was a marvel.
From that time to now Catherine had taken Sara aside and allowed the woman to engage in another ritual the young CSI would never have done before. Simply cry. Love blossomed between them first was a love of friendship, trust and companionship. A love likened between sisters, but after Catherine had had a scare with a suspect serial killer who came to her house, that love grew to what it was now.
“You think I will deny us?” Catherine asked keeping her voice soft and gentle knowing her lover was reverting to skittish from. “That I will deny you if Lindsey becomes disgruntled.”
“She is your priority as she should be, Catherine. We can tell her you just slept over, that the bed is big enough….”
“That might have worked if she was six. And besides I am not going to pull a Sam Braun with my own daughter. I was told so often when he came over that it was ’too late for him to drive home so he slept over. But I knew the truth; he was playing around with my mother.” Catherine shook her head. “No I want to be truthful with my kid. The last true falsehood I let her believe was that Santa Claus was a real person.” Catherine chuckled, “You know what Lindsey did?” She investigated his ‘B and E’ like a case. And fond the evidence there was no unknown male in the house or that the roof had eight reindeer on it and there were no treadmarks from a sleigh. She concluded that Santa Claus was a fancy carried on by tradition and nothing more.”
Sara chuckled. “Like mother like daughter.”
“I told her well if that is the case then the extra present isn’t necessary. Since it is only fancy.” Catherine smirked. “She still gets a present from Santa Claus, ‘It doesn’t hurt to indulge in fancy’, I was told.”
“Is that what I am Catherine? Fancy?”
“I hope not.” It wasn’t Catherine who answered the question but another Willows from the doorway. “If it is Mom, then something is fundamentally wrong with your head.”
“Fundamentally? That is a large word…” Catherine smirked proud of her child
The young blonde rolled her eyes, “Mom it isn’t like the stone ages when you went to school you know back when women couldn’t vote… kids today have a large scope of vocabulary and its use.”
“Hey I’m not THAT old!” Catherine protested.
Sara patted the bed hinting that Lindsey should join them, “We’re decent and we haven’t done anything…so don’t spazz about sitting on the parental bed.”
Lindsey launched herself at the bed making both women yelp in surprise.
“Hey I live in an upstairs apartment Linds….”
The child hung her head looking more sheepish than a sheep. “Sorry.”
“Don’t sweat it but don’t forget it.”
Catherine was amazed. Had she chastised Lindsey like that even in a playful but meaningful manner it would have erupted into a fight between herself and the girl. But Sara had chided Lindsey and the girl accepted it.
“Lindsey, you obviously are aware of the relationship I am sharing with Sara. How much of a problem is this going to be for you….”
“Well that is the way to approach it isn’t it?” Lindsey immediately went on the defensive. “You assume so much. Like I will go postal because your kinda a lesbian and dating a true lesbian. Like it’s the end of the world… like some crap.”
“Oh come on! Nancy and Sara said I can say words they say on PG shows. So crap.”
Catherine glared at her girlfriend.
“Make a big deal out of it and it becomes a big deal.” Sara said. “Choose your battles.”
“Getting Sun Tzu on me?” Catherine folded her arms over her chest.
“I have since the day we met. I’ve had too. That isn’t the point Cat. The thing is you assumed Lindsey would have issues with us being together, a negative approach will get a negative answer.”
“You don’t have kids how would you know how to respond to them?”
Sara thrust the blankets aside, stood up; put a robe over her overly large shirt and boxers. “I’m making coffee.” With that she left the room.
Lindsey turned to her mother with a mirror scowl to the one the older woman held. “I knew you’d frack this up. It’s like you don’t want to be happy. You find the shittiest guys to date. A manipulative city-planner, some slut-monger night-club owner and well frack a coke-dosing record producer wanna-be. And Grandma told me about that failed rock-star you ran away with to California. As well as the countless male-sluts… you entertained. But something good, someone great comes along and you self-destruct it.” Lindsey snorted. “Typical.” The girl pushed herself up from the bed just like Sara had. She shook her head sadly. “It could have been great you know. She would have been perfect for us. I’m going to ask her to take me to Nana’s.”
Catherine sat with her hands in her lap staring at them, wondering how it could have gone so wrong so quickly. She heard voices in the living room and then footsteps heading for the bedroom. Looking up she saw Sara silently picking up a pair of jeans and a clean shirt. It didn’t take long for the brunette to get dressed, run a brush through her hair and clean her teeth. So she was ready to go.
“Linds asked me to drop her off at her grandmother’s.”
“I know.” Catherine said softly still not looking up.
“You going to be here when I get back?”
“Do you want me to be?” only then did the head raise, blue eyes glistening.
“That isn’t the issue.” Sara repeated the earlier answer and left.
In the car Lindsey leaned her head against the window of the passenger seat, staring at the traffic they passed. “So… can I still come over?”
“You staying or bailing?”
“That depends on if your mom is still at my place when I get back.”
“I don’t have a problem with you and her being a thing.”
“I suspected you wouldn’t.”
“Why did she have to ask it like that? Why does she think I’m like all against her?”
“She doesn’t have evidence to the contrary from the past two years. It’s been hard on you both.”
“That isn’t the issue.”
“But it is! Sara it is the issue. She is fucking this up and I don’t want her to. Don’t bail! Fight okay? For me?”
Sara pulled the SUV over and hugged Lindsey tightly. “I don’t want it to be hard for you, or your mom. I have issues with relationships; I’m not good at it.”
“You don’t have fly-by night dates with male-sluts. My mom wouldn’t know a good steady relationship when it stares her in the face, one her kid wants to have happen, you going to let her get away with it?”
Sara shook her head. “No, Lindsey I won’t.” As a mother would her daughter, Sara kissed Lindsey’s forehead. “If your mom is still at my apartment when I get back, I’ll fight for us. If she’s gone, I’ll give her time to come to terms that there is an ‘us’ possibility.”
“Your nana’s waiting.”
Lindsey looked over her shoulder to see her grandmother waiting at the end of the driveway of her little Henderson home.
“Cause mischief.” Sara ruffled the teen’s hair.
Catherine hadn’t moved from the spot since Sara and Lindsey had left. Her mind had warped around the accusations of her child that she was deliberately trying to sabotage the best possible relationship she had in what…forever? That she set out to destroy the bond that had steadily grown between herself and Sara - the love that had come when neither expected it.
All she had to do was ask Lindsey’s thoughts on what was happening. Instead she set both her lover and daughter on the defensive so that this very situation would arise and give Catherine a way out. So why was she still here? It would be so easy to slip out and not return to tell Sara it wouldn’t work, too many complications.
Because she was terrified the relationship was working, it would work and it would last and nothing like this had ever lasted for the blonde. She was terrified to the potential happiness in her way so she deliberately set out to kill it. Committed relationships were alien to either women but Sara hadn’t run, in fact she fought her own fears and embarrassment at the prospect. Catherine who had never had to face the torment of a past like Sara’s ran from a happy life. The shadows of the future were in a word… Scary.
“You’re still here.” Sara said without accusation or malice.
“You didn’t expect me to be.”
Sara smiled and gave the single answer she had before. “That isn’t the issue.”
“Then what is the issue Sara?”
“Do you want an ‘us’?”
Catherine didn’t answer right away and Sara wouldn’t have respected the answer if she had. “I fear what could come. I start to feel strong about someone and it ends up blown in my face, I guess I don’t trust the happiness.”
“I understand that.” Sara said now coming further into the room and sitting on the edge of the bed. “Its worth the risk.”
“Yeah it is.”
“Lindsey wants it.”
“No of course not!”
“You’ve never lived in the lesbian light since your girl was born - can you go back? It can be alienating.”
“Less so if I alienate my child and my lover from my life because of it.” Catherine moved forward and took Sara’s hands into her own, curled them around her fingers so she could kiss the back of each hand before placing them on either side of her own cheeks. “The shadows of your past were horrific; the present doesn’t seem so hot, I want to make the shadows of our future to be of warmth and comfort. I want you to be my future shadow, Sara. I want you to be in my and my daughter’s life.”
“Then allow yourself to be happy, Catherine. Allow the three of us to be happy, don’t run from it because it is unfamiliar. Snatch it up and make it yours.”
Catherine claimed Sara’s mouth in a searing kiss. Lips met, fuelled by passion, desire, need and desperate longing not born of lust but desperation to belong. The future was wide open for them rich in possibility and continent of the heart when it knows if found its perfect place in the universe.
Two years later would mark a first anniversary of a new family.