A/N: God I'm so sorry for not updating this sooner guys Life has been extremely hectic lately, my grandmother was just diagnosed with cancer so we've been really busy. Thank you all for reading and sending your encouraging reviews!
"Who are you protecting?"
"I'm not protecting anyone!"
"You're obviously hiding something."
"I told you I don't know anything!"
"Listen," Catherine whispered to the wide-eyed Ashley sitting across from her in the interrogation room. She rested her elbows on the table as she leaned forward to let the girl know exactly how serious and close she was to losing it right then and there. "You obviously know something, or you wouldn't be trying to hide anything. You wouldn't even tell us your last name, so quit protecting the son of a bitch that killed your boyfriend!"
That was enough. Sara, who had been observing through the observation room opened the door connecting with the interrogation room and cleared her throat, making both an infuriated Catherine Willows and red-and-puffy eyed Ashley glance her way. "Catherine, can I talk to you for a minute?" she asked.
"I'm a little busy right now, Sara," Catherine harshly replied. She had had about twelve hours now to cool down after the scene at the school but she was still fighting to keep it all together. When she had taken Lindsey home, she had stomped up the stairs and headed straight to her room. She remembered hearing a deafening slam as her daughter shut her out once again for the entire night.
"Cath, I really need to see you outside," Sara told her, holding her ground. Sara had long-since gotten used to the wrath of Catherine Willows. She wasn't really angry at Ashley—Sara knew that. She was upset and on the verge of tears. She knew it was a high possibility that Catherine hadn't gotten any sleep; her eyes were circled with black and she came into work that morning wearing the same clothes she had worn the night before.
Catherine stared at Sara for a long moment, hoping that for once Sara would just back off but alas she never did. With a defeated sigh the blonde turned around to look over at Ashley who was still sitting in her chair from before, now wiping at her eyes and further smearing her mascara. "You're free to go." With that she turned around and headed out of the room.
Sara inwardly sighed as she turned and followed Catherine out of the room. When they made it to the locker room Catherine kept her back toward the brunette the entire time as she opened her locker up and started rummaging around for some unknown item. It was just another excuse to not make eye contact.
"Cath, look," Sara started, folding her arms across her chest. "I know you're mad at me. That's no mystery. You can be mad at me; I'm not trying to get you to apologize to me. I just want to make things right."
Catherine let out a dry laugh, turning to look over at Sara with her signature 'yeah right' grin. "Good luck with that, Sara. You know what happened last night?" she asked, finally turning her entire body around to face her. "Lindsey didn't say a word to me. Not one word. We get home and she walks up to her room and slams the door. I didn't get any sleep last night, Sara."
"I could tell," Sara admitted.
"This isn't time for your sarcastic crap, alright?" Catherine snapped, shoving her locker door shut with her elbow. The noise echoed throughout the small room. "You had absolutely no right to do what you did last night! That's my job! If Lindsey needed someone, you should've told me, not gone and tried to be her surrogate mother!"
"Catherine!" Sara exclaimed, scoffing in disbelief. She was still hung up about it. She wanted to not get into another argument—she tried damn hard not to—but she was beyond peeved. Catherine was acting like it was her fault. "Will you please just listen to me? You're not getting it! You're blaming me when you should be—"
"I think I've listened to you enough, Sara," Catherine interrupted. "Actually, I think Lindsey has done enough listening for both of us. What did you tell her? Did you tell her not to talk to me last night?"
"For god's sake Cath you're sounding ridiculous!" Sara cried, throwing her arms up in the air as Catherine took a step toward her. "What am I, the Catherine Willows Nazi? She asked me to go to her, Catherine, what was I supposed to say? I sure as hell wasn't going to say no!"
"You could've told me, Sara!" Catherine angrily growled.
"She asked me not to, Cath!" Sara pointed out, "She didn't want you to know what had happened, because she thought you would be mad at her!"
That stopped Catherine for a moment and her features softened some. "…What?"
"Don't you see, Cath?" Sara whispered, taking a few small steps toward the older woman. "She asked me not to tell you. She was scared, she didn't know what was going on, I doubt she even remembered where she was. She was a scared little girl, and she didn't know what to do."
Catherine's eyes slowly widened as she envisioned her baby in the picture Sara had painted on the canvas of her mind. Just imagining her daughter that scared brought tears streaming to her eyes. "She didn't feel… like she could ask me?"
"She thought you would be upset with her, Cath," Sara whispered. "She went out last night and she thought you would be angry with her. I wasn't trying to replace you- I never was. I don't know how any other mother could ever compete with you. I've been talking with Lindsey now for a while over the internet…"
Catherine quickly wiped at her eyes before Sara could see that she was crying. But Sara had already seen, it was no use trying to hide it. "What…" she cleared her throat to compose herself. "What has she been saying?"
"She talks about you a lot," Sara informed her, "All the time, actually. She's afraid that you're going to be disappointed in her."
"Why would she ever think something like that?" Catherine whispered. She couldn't put into words how proud of Lindsey she was. Lindsey was her whole world.
"She just wants you to be home with her more, Cath," Sara whispered. "She thinks you avoid her and that's why you work so much. She's just a teenager. She just wants that support from her mother. You're her role model, you have no idea how much she thinks of you."
That did it and before either of them knew what was going on Catherine had given up and let the tears that were forming in her eyes fall down her face as she choked on a guttural sob in her throat. Sara took a hesitant step forward, not sure if she should try to comfort her or not. If there was one thing Sara knew she had never done before it was trying to comfort someone. She couldn't even comfort herself.
"Cath…" Sara whispered, reaching a tentative hand out to touch her shoulder. "I—" before she knew what was happening Catherine had thrown herself into her arms as she began to sob. So Sara did the only thing she thought to do—she wrapped her arms around Catherine's back and tried her hardest to console her.
"Why am I such a horrible mother?" Catherine asked Sara. She didn't know what the hell she was doing—she was breaking down in front of one of her friends. Sara, nonetheless, who knew absolutely nothing about comforting someone let alone how she was feeling at the moment. But for some reason she didn't care right now; Sara's embrace was warm and welcoming and that was all she needed.
"You're not a horrible mother, Cath," Sara whispered. "You give up having a social life so that you can work to support yourself and your daughter. When you have time off, you always go home to spend it with Lindsey. You're one of the least selfish people I know. But you have been maxing out on overtime a lot the past few months," she whispered. "Are you trying to compete with me? That's my job."
Sara was rewarded with a small laugh from the strawberry blonde who wiped at her eyes one more time as she shot the younger woman an appreciative smile. "Thanks, Sara. I owe you one."
"Don't mention it, Cath," Sara smiled back. "I don't like seeing you upset." After a few moments of silence and Catherine taking a few breaths and letting them out shakily to compose herself, Sara continued, "Come on. Let's get out of here- I think there's a little girl at your house waiting for you."
Catherine couldn't keep the smile from crossing her face. "You're right. Let's go."
Just as they were about to turn and walk out of the locker room, Catherine heard a voice booming from the hallways. A voice she recognized.
"Where is Catherine? I have to talk to her right now!"
"Miss, please calm down, I'm sure she'll be returning from the interrogation shortly—" Judy was interrupted by the distraught and frantic voice of Catherine's mother once again.
"This can't wait! I have to see Catherine now!"
Sara and Catherine both exchanged looks with each other before they walked out of the locker room down the hallway. "Mom?" Catherine asked, confused. "What's going on? What are you doing here?" she asked. "And where's Lindsey? She was supposed to be with you!"
"Oh, Catherine thank God," Lilly panted, dashing toward her daughter. "I tried to call you but you weren't picking up, and—"
"Ms. Willows, calm down," Sara spoke up, holding up a hand to stop her. "Try and calm down and tell us what's going on, alright?"
Lilly looked from Sara to Catherine with wide eyes. "It's Lindsey, Catherine. I don't know where she is!"