I'M WITH YOU

Spoilers: "Bully For You" (204), but really this could take place anywhere in season two or early season three.
A/N: Contains lyrics from Avril Lavigne's "I'm With You."

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Sara Sidle stood on a bridge in Mansfield Park, eyes slipping shut as tears streamed down her face... her brunette strands getting caught in the rivulets on her cheeks as the wind whipped her hair about. Stood up again. Why was he doing this?

I'm standing on the bridge, I'm waiting in the dark... I thought that you'd be here by now

Two hours ago Hank was supposed to meet her there. And he hadn't. Two hours she'd stood on that bridge, on an unusually chilly Las Vegas night... and for what? Just to go home disappointed again. Why did she even bother anymore?

There's nothing but the rain, no footsteps on the ground

She sighed and shoved her frozen hands into the pockets of her navy Forensics windbreaker, removing one ever-so-briefly to zip up as she began to head back to her Tahoe.

I'm listening but there's no sound

Didn't he care anymore? Was she really that dull of a person that he would just give up caring? And for that matter... was she SO dull that NOBODY cared?

Isn't anyone trying to find me? Won't somebody come take me home?

She sighed upon reaching her Tahoe... noting how lonely it seemed, in the parking lot all by itself. I know how you feel... she thought, then immediately shook her head at herself for having such thoughts. Inanimate objects did not have feelings. "No wonder nobody wants me," she murmured, then stepped forward to fling the door open and climb inside. As soon as the door slammed shut, she heard the thunder... and rain then began pelting the car from every angle. She stared out the windshield at the fastly blurring city lights beyond, and sunk back against the seat. What a night.

It's a damn cold night trying to figure out this life

Maybe she needed to rethink her whole dating strategy. Or just change a few things about her personality. Or maybe I need to... Her cell phone ringing jarred her out of finishing the thought, and she glanced down at the center console of the Tahoe, watching the viewing screen illuminate a fluorescent blue before reaching over to pick it up. "Yeah, Sidle..." she answered, knowing she sounded completely unenthused, but not caring in the slightest.

And out came a Texan accent from the other end of the line. "Sara, it's Nick. I just wanted to update you about our 407 case, and... are you okay?"

Won't you take me by the hand, take me somewhere new

She allowed a sad, half-smile to escape her lips, and she tucked a piece of coffee-brown hair behind her ear. "Hi, Nick. I'm fine. What did you find out?"

"Well, get this: the manager's been embezzling thousands of--" There was a brief pause, before his tone changed. "Aren't you supposed to be on a date right now?"

She couldn't help but chuckle. "I'll tell you if you can complete a sentence."

I don't know who you are, but I... I'm with you, I'm with you

"Seriously, Sara, am I interrupting you? I can call you back later, or just leave you a message or something," he drawled.

The bitterness seeped through in her tone as she replied, "Don't worry Nick, there was no date TO interrupt."

The line seemed to go dead for a moment before his voice returned... coming out soft... surprised. "Seriously?"

She rolled her eyes, leaning her head back against the driver's seat before sitting up straight once more, staring out the windshield at the rain-soaked city of Las Vegas. "No, Nick..." she sighed dryly, "It's just all one big joke. I'm sitting here in my car, alone, watching the rain..." Her voice broke with unshed tears, "Growing more depressed by the second just to be funny! You caught me!"

"Whoa, hey..." She could almost sense him holding up his palms in surrender on the other end, before his voice softened... "Where are you?"

I'm looking for a place, searching for a face... is there anybody here I know

She sniffled, choking back her tears as she glanced at her surroundings, absent-mindedly reaching over to lock the doors.

'Cause nothing's going right, and everything's a mess... and no one likes to be alone

"Mansfield Park," she replied in a shaky voice. "In the parking lot by the bridge."

"Okay..." he murmured in a low voice, "Stay there."

Isn't anyone trying to find me? Won't somebody come take me home?

With that, they both hung up, and Sara tossed her phone back onto the console with a sigh, propping her elbow up against the door before leaning her forehead into her hand, rubbing and kneading her skin as if it would soothe her. And the tears continued to fall.

It's a damn cold night trying to figure out this life

Sobs soon overtook her body, the sound filling the Tahoe and filtering out into the night. Boy, do you know how to pick 'em, Sidle... she berated herself. Every man she chose to have feelings for ultimately ended up screwing her over. Her crush on Grissom had been fruitless; his eyes lingered somewhere else... on a certain strawberry blond, to be exact. Every guy she dated in college had either ended up using her to get someone else, or cheating on her with someone else... and now Hank was just completely blowing her off. Though she didn't yet know what his problem was, she knew that no matter what it was, it wasn't going to make her feel better.

Won't you take me by the hand, take me somewhere new

She remained in the Tahoe, listening to the rain pound down on the roof as her sobs began to wane. The only evidence left of her despair were the tear-tracks that had marked clear paths down her face, her mascara smudged under her eyelids. She sighed heavily, leaning her weary head back against the seat as she allowed her eyes to close. Maybe, if she could fall asleep, she'd wake up in somebody else's life.

I don't know who you are, but I... I'm with you

A sudden, loud knock on the passenger side window caused her jump, gasping loudly... and she turned to see Nick's face practically pressed against the window, his eyes narrowed as rain poured over his face, threatening to fall into his eyes. "Hey!" he shouted, voice muffled slightly through the glass. He pointed at the door. "Wouldja mind letting me in?"

I'm with you

A half-smile, sad in nature, twitched at one corner of her mouth, and she pressed the button for the power-lock, allowing Nick to enter a dry environment. He let out his breath in a whoosh of air, shaking his head slightly... this action subsequently reminding Sara of a dog shaking off water. She took a moment to study the man beside her, feeling a tug in her heart at the sight of him. He was such a good guy... selflessly dropping everything he was doing to go to her. Why couldn't the men she dated be more like him?

Why is everything so confusing? Maybe I'm just out of my mind

"You okay?" he asked, turning to her... then upon catching sight of the tear-tracks and smudged eye-makeup, he downcast his eyes on his lap. "Nevermind, don't answer that... stupid question." He stared at his fidgeting hands momentarily, struggling for something comforting to say... finding he came up with nothing. He glanced back up at her, his gaze soft. "Wanna talk about it?"

She kept her gaze straight ahead, staring out the windshield at the blurry streaks of color beyond... the lights of Vegas. "Nope," she replied sadly, "Because there's not much TO talk about."

He shifted his position, angling his body to face her... hoping she would do the same. "Sara, what happened?"

It's a damn cold night trying to figure out this life

She shook her head and chuckled grimly, lips contorting into a frown as her eyes filled with tears once more. She blinked several times in succession... trying to ward them off... but a few slipped past her lids regardless. "He just didn't show up..." she murmured shakily, adding even softer as she glanced to her lap, "Again."

Though she'd uttered it softly, he'd caught it nonetheless... his eyebrows raising, along with his voice. "Again?! You mean, he's done this more than once?!" When she nodded silently in response, his jaw clenched. "That son of a..." He shook his head and closed his eyes, fist clenching as he willed himself to calm down.

He drew in a breath and glanced up at the brunette on the other side of the console, finding her head tipped downward sadly. He frowned, his heart breaking for her... and he reached out to sweep a few errant chocolate strands behind her ear. "Sara..." he drawled softly, catching her attention. When she met his eyes, he leaned forward slightly, his voice soft... declaration adamant... each word emphasized as his sable eyes bored into her. "You deserve so much better." He grasped her hand tightly.

Won't you take me by the hand, take me somewhere new

Her chestnut eyes searched his. "Are you sure about that?" she whispered.

His forehead creased in part confusion... part sadness. "How can you ask that? Of course I'm sure. Sara..." He reached out to cup her face just as she turned her eyes away... his hand on her cheek fusing the brown irises together once more. He leaned closer, trying to hammer in the truth of his words. "Trust me... he's a jerk. If he can't see what an amazing, brilliant, beautiful woman you are, then he DOES NOT deserve you."

She chuckled grimly once more, swatting his hand away. "Stop it, Nick, that's not gonna make me feel better." She went back to propping her forehead up in her hand, her elbow on the windowsill.

He sighed, shaking his head. "Fine, if you're gonna fight me on this as usual, we're gonna have to do this the hard way."

I don't know who you are, but I...

Brows furrowed, she turned to face him. "What are you--"

And he stopped her voice with a kiss.

I'm with you

She sucked in a deep breath through her nostrils, the shock of his kiss sending her stomach somersaulting. But after a moment, she warmed to the sensation, and let out the breath slowly from her nose, heart skipping when his hand reached her face. All too soon, however, he pulled away... his face lingering just inches in front of hers as they stared into each other's half-open eyes. Now, staring at the man she so-often considered to be her 'sparring partner'... she felt totally foreign sensations coursing through her. Her eyes drifted to his lips... "Do that again," she murmured.

I'm with you

His hand still on her cheek, he searched her eyes... wondering if he'd hallucinated her order to do it again. But when she nodded her consent, he closed his eyes, tilted his head, and leaned in once more, caressing her lips with his... just a brushing of skin on skin, before pulling back once more... searching Sara's eyes for a response.

Won't you take me by the hand, take me somewhere new

Her eyes were still focused on his lips as she leaned in, whispering against his lips, "Again."

I don't know who you are, but I...

And this time, their lips crashed together.

I'm with you

Both scooted closer to the other, Nick's thumb caressing Sara's cheek before gliding into her hair, as he gently sucked her bottom lip between his. She sighed at the wonderful shiver that crawled down her spine and cupped his face... her hands then wandering down over his shoulders, and down his finely toned arms. Though her eyes were closed, her eyebrows raised at the feel of his biceps under her fingertips. Hmm... how did I miss THOSE before?

As if her thought had been spoken aloud, Nick chuckled, his fingers still threading their way through her hair.

I'm with you

As his lips slowly parted from hers, his hands slid to her waist... their foreheads coming together seconds later. "Sara, you deserve to go out with me..." he breathed, his hands rubbing up and down on her arms.

Won't you take me by the hand, take me somewhere new

She leaned back, finding she missed the contact of his forehead on hers already... and she smirked at him. "A little cocky, are we?"

He chuckled, his adorable Texan accent rolling off his tongue. "No, no... I just..." He shrugged. "I know how to treat a woman."

I don't know who you are, but I...

She cocked her head, her smirk widening her kiss-swollen lips. "AND you're humble, too..."

I'm with you

He rolled his eyes, grinning... glad to see that there was no post-kiss awkwardness, and that they could fall back into their normal line of banter. Perhaps it was a sign. "Am I gonna have to barter with you to get you to go out with me?"

"Depends..." she shrugged, a smug smirk playing across her lips. "What do you have to offer?"

Nick shrugged in return and shook his head slightly... the tiny smile adorning his lips and his following words unleashing the butterflies in her tummy... "Just me."

I'm with you

She forcefully let out a breath, her hand finding her slim stomach as she willed the butterflies to calm. Never had a man been so candid with her. And never did she have as much faith in a man as she did in Nick. Was it a sign? Was this somebody's way of telling her that she'd been over-looking the man that could possibly be the best for her? And those two simple words... 'just me'... told her everything she needed to know. Nick would be different. He wouldn't hurt her. "Wow, uhh..." She smiled brightly at him. "I'd say that's a pretty good offer. I'll take it."

He returned the bright grin, "Excellent," and leaned in for another kiss. Millimeters away from her lips, he paused and pulled back. "Wait a minute... I thought we were bartering, here." He smirked. "You didn't make an offer."

She pursed her lips as her eyes rolled skyward pensively. "Hmm..." She glanced back down at Nick, smirking at him, her voice deep and low. "How about... 'just me' in exchange for just you?"

I'm with you

His hand swept through her hair, settling on her cheek as his eyes focused on her lips, a smile escaping his. "Deal," he whispered, and they sealed their words with another kiss.

FINIS