A Breaking Point
By Jess aka willowaus
Disclaimer: I do not own CSI and I am in no way making any money from writing this, alas.
A/N: Lots of thanks to AussiRayne for the beta. Hope you enjoy.
She could tell that he was angry. Forcing herself to ascend the staircase to her apartment floor, she listened to his breathing, to the gentle grinding of his teeth. She wondered what he would say once they entered the apartment. He wouldn't scream. Sara laughed at the thought. Gil Grissom didn't scream. He may raise his voice, or in his case lower it with the added effect of the disappointment she knew would be in his eyes.
Turning the key in the door, she wished that he would just yell. Yelling she could deal with. This silence was something she could not. If he yelled, she could yell back, could fight back. The silence was what killed her, made her feel invisible, worthless. Dropping her purse on the counter, she wondered if he was even aware that he had the power to make her feel that way.
Sara walked past the counter, idly looking towards the phone, cringing at the zero displayed on the answering machine. She collapsed onto the chair, twisting her body away from him, gazing at one of the photographs on the wall. From the corner of her eye she saw him take a seat on her couch, eyes focused on her, waiting for her. She ignored him, intent on making him start.
'I don't know where to start,' she told herself as she sighed.
"What's going on?" Grissom asked, breaking the silence.
"I don't know," she answered truthfully, her gaze never faltering from the photograph.
"Sara," he began, his voice tinged with frustration.
"I don't know!" she snapped and looked at him, pleading with him to understand. She shook her head and turned away. "I feel like I'm treading water. But my arms are so tired…"
"Sara," Grissom repeated, his hand touching her arm.
She pulled away from him. "I don't know what is wrong!" she yelled at him. "I don't know why the memories are being thrust upon me more and more. I don't know why everything I see reminds me of when I was younger. I don't know why I went to the casino. I don't…I just don't know…"
She felt the tears start to fall and wiped at her eyes, cursing herself for being weak. "Crying isn't a weakness," Grissom said, leaning forward, hands resting on the edge of her chair.
Sara shook her head in response, berating herself for speaking allowed. His hand was on her arm again and she didn't have the strength to push him away. She turned into him, accepting the comfort he was offering, crying into his body, trying to let all of her frustrations go. "I can't do this anymore," she hiccupped.
His hand was stroking her back as he answered her. "Do what?"
"I think I need to leave," she answered.
His hand stilled its movements. "Leave?" Grissom asked his voice breaking as he said the word.
She pulled back from him and nodded. "I think I need to," she said.
He shook his head, his hands moving to her arms, running up and down them. "Sara," he said his eyes frantic with emotion.
She opened her mouth to reply when his cell phone rang. He ignored it, hands continuing their movements, his mouth opening and closing as he tried to think coherently. The phone began ringing again and Sara fished it out of his pocket, handing it to him, looking pointedly at him to answer it. He did so, eyes never leaving her face as he spoke.
Grissom hung up the phone and placed it back in his pocket. "I have to go," he said. "Everyone on swing is out in the field. I need to process the suspect's apartment."
Sara nodded, moving to stand up. "Promise me you'll be here when I come back," Grissom said, pleading silently with her.
She bit her lip and looked away from him. "Promise me," he urged, tugging at her.
She solemnly looked at him before pressing her lips to his, eyes closing as he returned the kiss. "Go," she whispered against his lips. "Catch the bastard."
Grissom nodded and walked out of the apartment, turning back to look at her quiet smile. It was only after he met Brass at the suspect's apartment that he realized she hadn't promised him. With great effort he got out of the car instead of heading back to her apartment, silently hoping that she would be there when he went back.
It had taken Sara exactly fifteen minutes after Grissom left to download driving directions, pack a few belongings and write a simple letter explaining that she needed to leave. Exactly twenty-three minutes after Grissom left, she was on the I-15, driving away from Las Vegas, trying to push aside the desperation in his eyes when he had asked her to promise not to go.
Placing a CD into the player, she leaned back into the driver's seat, letting Ani DiFranco's voice wash over her, as she headed back to the one place she promised herself she would never see again. She was finally heading home. Glancing out of the rear view mirror, she cast one more glance at the lights of Las Vegas, hoping that he would understand. She doubted that he would. 'No one ever has.'
His eyes drifted again to the watch on his left arm before he shook his head, silently berating himself for the distraction. The Corbin family deserved more. He shook his head and refocused himself, pulling the covers off of the bed as he pushed the glasses into place, scanning the ALS across the sheets. He frowned as he saw the tell tale signs of semen dispersed along the fabric.
His thoughts turned back to Sara as he carefully circled the spots. It had been five hours since he left her, five hours since he had asked her not to leave. His brow creased in frustration as he wondered how far she had managed to get away from Las Vegas in that time.
Julia Corbin's lifeless body rose to his mind as he circled the last stain. He removed the glasses and turned on the light, pushing Sara once again from his thoughts. He walked over to the hamper leaning against the far wall and opened the wicker basket. His eyebrows rose slightly as he removed a sheet from the top. Opening it up, he cringed as he saw the blood stains soaked through the fabric, creating an outline of Julia's body.
Grissom placed it inside an evidence bag, writing out the necessary information, before returning his attention to the rest of the basket. He shook his head as he removed a bloodied knife and a gun. 'Is it really that simple?' he pondered, knowing full well that no matter how thought out a crime was, the thought process after the act was committed was usually sloppy.
He turned from the basket, eyes wandering around the room as he took a moment to reflect on where to look next. His gaze stalled on the mirror above the dresser. His own reflection stared back at him, Sara and the little girl from his dreams smiling happily at him before Sara drifted away, the child looking sadly at the spot she used to fill.
Grissom turned away from the mirror, forcing the images away. Turning, he opened the closet, ignoring the silent crying in the back of his mind. He needed to finish processing the scene.
She could smell the salt in the air, the scent telling her that she was nearing the coastline of California, bringing her one step closer to Tamales Bay. Eventually she would cross over the Richmond-San Rafael bridge, passing over the San Pablo bay and inching ever closer to Tamales. Her grip on the steering wheel tightened, knowing that the route would become infinitely more familiar the closer she got. She shook her head and reached for the mug of coffee she had filled at the last gas stop.
'Would it be the same?' she wondered. 'Or have things changed?' Did the children on her old street still cut behind the old Sampson house on their way to the school bus stop? Did the Sampson house even still exist? Did her old house?
Sara shook her head again and placed the mug back in the cup holder, rolling her shoulders in an attempt to relieve the tension that had built up in them. Her cell phone lay in the passenger seat and she wondered why Grissom hadn't called her, demanding to know where she was.
'He might still be at the scene,' she reminded herself. 'Or maybe he's finally realized how screwed up you are and washed his hands of the situation.'
It wasn't that hard to imagine. Her foster families had done that, so had a number of boyfriends before she decided that it would be easier and less hurtful if she continued concentrating on school. 'God, Sara, your own brother left you to fend for yourself,' she scolded herself, pushing away any thoughts of her family.
She just needed to keep driving, to finally get back to the little town, to put to rest the demons that were eating her up inside. As the Richmond-San Rafael bridge came into view she hoped that she would finally be able to do just that.
Gil Grissom handed over the last evidence bag from the apartment, watching as each one was catalogued into the computer. He looked at his watch, shaking his head as he realized that eight hours had gone by. Nodding to the man collecting the bags, he exited the room and walked towards his office. If Sara wasn't in her apartment, which he suspected she wasn't, he had a pretty good idea where she was headed.
Entering his office he walked to the desk, carefully pulling open one of the drawers and removing an innocuous envelope. In it was Sara's case file from when she was a ward of the state of California, one of thousands shuffled about from foster home to foster home. In these papers was the address of the place she had grown up in, the house where she had seen her father murdered and her mother become a killer, the place where her innocence had been shattered.
Smoothing out the papers he knew it was where she was headed. If the memories were coming back, if she couldn't stop thinking about it, then she would go home to try and see if it would help. He looked again at his watch, calculating the time it would take her to drive to the small town, determining that she would probably be there in the hour if she had left slightly after he did.
He folded the papers back up and slid them into the envelope, sinking down into the chair behind him. He stared at the door to the office, trying to decipher what he should do. The lab needed him. They were in the middle of a case, with a staff shortage because off the split Ecklie had done to the team. His eyes lowered to the envelope in his hand. But Sara needed him too.
Looking away from the envelope he silently cursed, knowing this was the exact reason he had not wanted to form a connection with her. There would always be this choice. The lab or her, both were important to him, and both demanded his attention. He shook his head.
'No,' he reminded himself. That wasn't true. She hadn't asked him to follow, hadn't asked him to decide between the two. He had a feeling she never would ask, would never hold it against him if he didn't follow her. With an air of defeat he stood up, placing the envelope back in its spot before closing the drawer.
'There really is only one choice.'
'Marin county,' she read, her grip tightening once again, anxiety running through her.
Her speed slowed considerably as she remembered how curvy the roads here were and the chance of her encountering a deer on the road. She forced herself to pay attention, happy for the respite from her thoughts. As time crawled by her gaze flickered over the familiar sights. She inched past Bivalve, the scent of salty air becoming more prominent. She knew if she opened the window she would hear the sounds of the water.
Millerton. Marconi. The small towns flew by her window as she neared her destination, the road curving away from the bay as she made her way up the hills of green grass, finally entering the small town of Tamales. All was quiet, as she would expect this late at night.
'Some things don't change,' she thought with a tinge of bitterness as she turned down the main street, following one of the smaller ones away from the center of town. Her grip tightened again as the houses rolled by before she stopped the car, her gaze trapped on the house at the end of the cul-de-sac. She could barely make it out in the dark, but she knew it was there.
She rested her head against the steering wheel and sighed. 'You can't go now,' she reasoned with herself. The neighbors would call the police or someone could be living in it and call them. turning around she drove back the way she had come, driving past the inn and bed and breakfast in the center of town. She drove back down route one, stopping at the small inn she had seen on the side of the road.
It was new and the chances of running into someone in her past it were slim if she stayed there. Plus, they were still open. Slowly she walked inside, using her credit card to pay for a three days. If she needed to stay longer she could always pay more. She retrieved her bag and cell phone from the car and made followed the night clerk up the stairs to her room.
She quickly changed and slipped under the covers, closing her eyes as she clutched her phone in one hand. A sigh escaped her as she realized that he had never bothered to call.
Sara awoke to the rays of light coming in through the room's curtains, surprised that she had been able to sleep at all during the night. She blinked and sat up, looking down at the cell phone still in her hands, frowning at the lack of missed calls. 'You really do need to get out more,' she chided herself, sitting up in the bed and leaning her head against the oak frame.
She was actually here, in her old town. And she had no idea what to do next. Standing, she walked over to the window, looking out at Tamales in the daylight, the first time she had seen it this way in over ten years. She leaned against the cool glass and closed her eyes, stilling the thousands of thoughts coursing through her mind.
'Just take a shower and get dressed,' she told herself. 'You can figure the rest out later.'
She rummaged through her bag, grabbing the necessary products. A half an hour later she was ready, her hair put up in a pony tail, scowling at herself for forgetting the hairdryer. There was always the possibility of asking to borrow one of the inn's. 'Stop delaying the inevitable,' she thought, glaring at her image in the mirror.
With a sigh, she put on her boots, grabbed her purse and phone and left the room, locking it behind her. She idly wondered if Diekmanns general store was still open, mouth curling into a smile as she remembered her times in it. She descended the stairs and nodded to the morning clerk, donning her sun glasses as she readied herself to step out into the light.
Her gaze fell upon the man reading today's paper in one of the over stuffed chairs, a cup of coffee set on the table before him. As he turned the page, her eyes widened with recognition.
A/N: There is no such place as Tamales Bay in California.There is a Tomales Bay and it is located in Marin county, California, though it is an actual bay, but I'm sure none of you needed to know that. :P However, there is a small town called Tomales that is only a few miles from the bay and is what I've based Sara's town on.