Title: Mad World

Disclaimer: I don't own CSI. This is rated M for language and violence. This is also femslash Catherine/Sara pairing. This is told from the POV of an original character.

Chapter One

If she's made anything clear to me in my lifetime, it's that she doesn't accept me. She doesn't know where she should classify me in her big scientific mind. Every time I'm around her she acts weird and standoffish. She's been able to avoid me for most of my life. She's been able to walk away and pretend like I've never existed.

I was cool with that. I didn't know much what to do with her either. I couldn't talk with her, not even about our parents. She told me she had a harder time with them than I did, but she really wouldn't know that. She says living with them was better for me, but she really wouldn't know that either. For her knowing so much, I think she knows shit. I had it just like she did; I just played their game differently. I let them make me into what they wanted me to be.

She may have liked Mom and Dad's "love taps" but I couldn't stand them. I also couldn't bring myself to try to fight back. I grew up to be bigger than him too. I grew up and I was stronger and bigger, but I still fit into the mold of who they thought I was and who they thought I should be.

They never let me forget that they saved me from my horrible real' parents who didn't want me, and told me that I should be thankful they decided to take me in. They always told me I was worthless until they came and saved me from my drug addicted, unfit, stupid parents. I was called stupid too, because genetically I couldn't be smart, at least that's the story they told.

So Sara says I had it different than her. She looks at me and she sees everything her parents wanted from her but that she couldn't give them. She looks at the surface, but she doesn't look at me at all. She doesn't know me, no matter how much she tries to pretend that she does.

They're dead now. They died tragically in a car accident, as cliché as that sounds. Now I'm stuck with her. She's my only living relative and she doesn't give a damn about me. She never has. She was seventeen when they adopted me. She was out of the house almost before I could talk. I hardly even know her, but now because the law insists I have a guardian I'm stuck with her and she's stuck with me.

I guess I could look on the upside. I only have to stay with her for two years then I can run away off to college and forget that I ever called myself a Sidle. For now though, I've got to continue playing the same stupid role I've played all my life. I have to pretend that I'm someone and something that I'm not.

"Have you gotten everything you need for school?" This is the first thing she's said to me all morning. We don't really talk that much to each other. Even at the funeral we didn't really say anything. I hardly even recognized her when I first saw her and I'm almost positive that she didn't recognize me at all.

"Yep." I hold up the paperwork I've filled out and had her sign so that I could actually start going to school again. It's been two weeks since the accident, and I think that's enough mourning time

for me. I rather be at school than sitting around in silence with big sis' any day.

"You know Catherine's sister Nancy is going to be picking you up?"

"I forgot to tell you, I'm staying after school to try out for the basketball team. The season just started and the coach told me she'd be willing to give me a shot." Basketball is the only way I'm going to be able to go to college. It's my ticket away, and I can't afford taking off a season. College recruits don't look at that very highly, and I don't intend on using my dead parents as an excuse for anything.

"How are you going to get to my place?" It's still her' place. It's not even ours. I know when I'm not wanted.

"Maybe one of the girls on the team can give me a ride. I'll work it out."

We pull up to the front of my new school in this new state, in this new city, and I'm finding myself nervous for the first time in a long time. What if I can't do this?

"Call me if you need a ride," Sara offers me as I open the car door. "And good luck with the tryout," she adds timidly.

I wonder if she even knew I play basketball. If she did she probably doesn't think much of it. She probably would be more interested if I was president of the science club or some other reputation killing organization, not that popularity is that important to me. I rather fly under everyone's radar except when I'm on the basketball court.

"Later," I say to her before I shut the car door. I don't look back at her once I turn away. I put my full attention on the school in front of me. It's big. In reality it's probably not any bigger than my school out in Cali but it certainly looks a lot bigger right at this moment.

Someone bumps me from behind and quickly apologizes. I don't see who it is, because they've already faded into the crowd of people that surround me. This may not going to be as easy as I thought, but I can't change anything now. So I walk up to the building, turn in my paperwork and head off to my first class.

It's advanced Calculus. Sara's not the only smart person in the family, but she really wouldn't know anything about that. I'm not even sure she actually read through the crap I handed off to her to sign. It listed all my coursework. She didn't ask me about any of my advanced classes, but I'm not looking to impress her.

I don't really care about all these fancy classes, but it puts me a step up in line for getting that scholarship I want. I'm a great basketball player, but there are a lot of great basketball players

out there waiting to take my scholarship. I've got to set myself apart.

If I can show the recruits that I have a brain as well as the brawn then I'm going to get a full ride. Not a lot of sophomores can handle advanced Calculus. Not a lot of sophomores are even in advanced Calc. If I keep up on the road I'm on, the school's going to run out of the choices of math classes they can offer me.

The class if full of seniors and I'm the youngest here. They all look at me with a hint of envy and I can even point out some of them who are going to want to be my friends because they want to make an A' in the class. There's no quicker way to make false friends in this place than being able to help people cheat.

Ms. Eddington introduces me to the class and points out a chair for me. She collects the homework from the other students and then begins her lesson. I take out my notebook and start absently taking notes.

Unfortunately, my brain isn't as engaged as I need it to be. My mind starts wandering and I start getting these stupid flashbacks from the life before. My parents never knew I was in advanced math. They didn't know I was in any advanced classes. They kept uninvolved in my academic life.

They thought I was too stupid to even think. Once they actually told my principal I was cheating in all my classes. There was no way I could be smart enough to get good grades. I had to be cheating. I was too stupid to be smart.

"Melinda?" My head flips up when I hear my name. It's Ms. Eddington and she's pointing at the overhead. I think she wants me to finish solving the problem she's got up there. She's probably just calling on me to make me feel included or something.

I take a quick look around me and see everyone's eyes on me. I wonder how many times she tried calling my name.

I get up and walk over to her. I accept the red marker she's offering me and take a look at the problem below me. I run through all the formulas I know in my head and decide on which one will work for this particular problem. I take a stab at it and circle my answer.

Without looking at the class or Ms. Eddington I put down the marker on the glass and walk back to my seat. It doesn't really matter to me if I got the problem right or not. The teacher will correct any and all of my mistakes, which I'm sure there are many. Stupid people make mistakes and get things wrong. I'm stupid.

"Well," Ms. Eddington is looking down at the problem thoughtfully, "that's certainly one way of doing it. It's a little more advanced than where we're at, but you still did a great job." She smiles at me, but it doesn't lighten my mood any. "How many of you understand what she did here?"

No one in the class raises their hand. Ms. Eddington erases my work and starts working the problem again. She does it a lot slower than I did, and takes her time explaining all her marks. I pick up my pencil again and start copying her writing.

I've got to get their stupid voices out of my head. They're dead now. Everything they've said doesn't matter. They don't matter any more. It's just me now. It's just me. It's only ever going to be me, because my sister the great Sara Sidle doesn't even care. She never has and I doubt she ever will.