Author's Note: Okay. So this is the end of Mad World. I would like to thank every one of you who gave this story a chance even though it might have not been your normal reading material. I'd also like to thank every one of you who took the time out to review. I read them and made some adjustments during my editing time. So enjoy the end of Mad World.

Chapter 59

It's evening time and I've decided that I don't like being home alone that much. Lindsey is off with one of her many friends and Nikki is working and so are Catherine and Mom for that matter. The loneliness almost made me want to go out and find a job, but that feeling passed quickly and instead I decided to crash in on Catherine and Mom at work. I've only done it a couple of times before and I'm sure there are probably rules about this stuff, but at least this time when I show up it won't be because I'm going crazy.

Hanging out with them will give me a chance to see what it is they do exactly. I can be proactive and get involved in their lives. I can show them that I actually care about what they do. I can even tell them that I've decided to pursue school. That should make them happy.

"Excuse me," Someone's hand goes on my arm and I quickly turn around ready to punch whoever it is that touched me. I'm still a little jumpy about being out in public places and it doesn't help my anxiety much when people I don't know start touching me. The woman standing across from me doesn't flinch. She holds her ground. "Can I help you?" She asks but it doesn't sound like she's asking me to be helpful. It's like she's asking because she thinks I'm somewhere I definitely don't belong.

"I'm looking for Sara Sidle," I tell her figuring that it won't be in my best interest to piss off my parents' coworkers. I'm out to set good impressions these days. "I'm her daughter Melinda."

"Daughter?" The woman looks surprised. It's not the first time I've gotten that reaction. "She never mentioned a daughter to me."

"Are you friends with her?"

She looks confused and I can tell she's trying to figure out the relevancy of my question. "We work together," she answers carefully.

"Mom's secretive. She doesn't offer up information to people she doesn't really know."

The woman is looking at me like she doesn't believe me so it helps that Mom is calling out my name from behind me. I turn to her, kind of brushing off the woman in front of me.

"Hey," Mom walks up to me. "Is something wrong?"

"Wrong? No." I shake my head. "I was just feeling a little claustrophobic at home and figured I'd do my best to bother you and Catherine at work."

"She said she was your daughter?" the woman I've tried to dismiss steps up next to me.

"She is, Sofia."

So her name's Sofia. I'll have to remember that for the future. She'll be on my list of people to try and avoid while visiting my parents at work.

"Oh." For some reason Sofia looks hurt. I guess she just learned that she's not as close to Mom as she thought she was.

The moment is feeling a little awkward so I decide to get away from it. If I wanted awkward I could have just tried to tag along with Lindsey on her yet another adventure to the mall with her friends. Although, this time I think they were going to see a movie too but I'm fairly certain it was one I would have rather shot myself in the foot than pay to go see. "Catherine's in her office, right?"

Mom nods at me but it doesn't look like she's going to be leading me there so I take the initiative again. "I'll go surprise her then," I say and start to walk away but Mom stops me by putting her hand on my waist.

"I'll come with you," she tells me and takes my hand, which is kind of odd since I don't ever remember her doing it before. It's kind of like she's announcing her claim on me. It's almost like she's putting up a sign that reads, 'she's with me'.

Sofia walks away from us and I know that there are questions that most certainly can be asked. When we reach Catherine's office Catherine looks up from whatever papers she's going through and the first question she asks is, "Is there something wrong?"

I tell her I'm visiting them just to visit then quickly follow that up by asking Mom, "Do we not like Ms. Sofia?"

Catherine's eyes narrow. "Sofia? Did she do something?"

"No." I shake my head. "She just greeted me when I entered the CSI domain, it was nothin' big but there were some strange vibes flowing. So what's up with that?"

"Nothing," Mom and Catherine answer at the same time.

I cross my arms across my chest and lean back a little. "For some reason I don't believe either of you."

"It's none of your concern," Catherine replies.

"Did one of you sleep with her or something?"

"What? No!" They both yell at the same time. "What makes you think that?" Mom asks.

"I don't know," I shrug. "I've just been in a few situations in my day that had that kind of vibe attached to it. I think I've even seen the look she was giving you, Mom, on a face or two. It usually happened with some person who just learned I didn't really give a shit about them at all. I usually saw the look after we fu—"

"Mel!" They're getting really good at in sync yelling.

"I'm just sayin'."

"I thought you knew us better than that, Mel." Catherine doesn't look too happy. She almost looks disappointed.

"I didn't mean to offend either of you," I quickly apologize. "I know you two care for each other a lot and I'm glad that you do. I've already told you what I think of your relationship. I want to see you two together forever. I want you to get married in a really big ceremony, but preferably not with a lot of people, and I want you to have a honeymoon so that you can get away for a while and not worry about me. I want everything good for you both nothing bad." I stop talking only because I need air.

"The look you saw is of someone who has feelings for someone but that someone doesn't feel the same way," Mom says softly and almost offends me by her tone. It's like she's trying to explain something to a little kid. I'm not a little kid, especially when it comes to these types of things.

"So she told you that she had feelings?" That's tacky considering she must have known Mom and Catherine are together. Doesn't everyone know that? To me, it seems like it's kind of obvious. Although, when I first came here I didn't know about them, but eventually I guessed it or rather it was just told to me by Lindsey. Still, I would have caught on eventually.

"In a way," Mom answers.

"So you're here to annoy us?" Catherine may sound irritated but she's smiling.

"That was my original plan, yes, but you've both got a lot of drama going on right now. I thought our lives were supposed to be settling down."

"Our lives have been part of a series of dramatic stories, Mel." Catherine's still smiling. "It's part of life and part of our job."

"Don't you get tired of it?" My life is getting some sort of order for the first time in forever and one of the last things I want to hear is that I can expect more stuff in the future.

"I get tired all the time," Mom confesses. "But there's a lot of good stuff that happens in the drama, Mel. I got my daughter."

"And I got another daughter," Catherine adds.

For some reason I feel like this conversation has turned into a philosophical one that I'm not really wanting to participate in right now. "I've decided to go to school. I've already sent out applications to universities because somehow I ended up fulfilling my requirements for my high school diploma without anyone telling me that was what I was doing."

Mom and Catherine smile. "If you had cared more about what you were being tutored in and why then you would have known what was going on." Catherine tells me in that mom voice of hers.

"So that's how it's gonna be? It's all my fault and I wasn't being misled at all?"

Before either of them can answer there's a knock on Catherine's open door and when I turn around I see Sofia standing there. She says something to Catherine about tests or something and then everything is all about work again. Catherine tells me that I can hang out in her office but that I can't touch anything or she'll have me arrested—I'm almost sure she's joking—and then she and Mom are walking away off to fight the forces of evil.

Sofia lingers in the doorway and I'm getting the impression that she wants to say something to me. I sit down on Catherine's desk making an effort to appear as non-threatening as possible. I'm a few inches taller than her and I don't want her to feel like I'm hovering over her at all.

"I'm sorry about earlier," she eventually says. "I didn't mean to be rude. I'm glad I got a chance to meet a member of Sara's family. Like you pointed out, she's very private about her personal life."

"And I'm sorry if I implied that Sara didn't care for you at all. If it makes you feel any better neither Mom nor Catherine really talk to me about their work at all. They try to keep the home life and work life separate."

"So you're close to Catherine?" Sofia is leaning against the doorjamb now looking a lot more comfortable than she looked before.

"Well I consider her to be my mother too, if that's what you mean by close." I've just realized that I'm now well enough to have relatively comfortable conversations with a person I don't know. I'll have to tell the Doc about this.

"Oh really?" Sofia seems a little surprised by this.

"Trust me," I move from the desk and sit in one of the chairs in front of it, "it took me a while to think that way or at least admit to feeling that way. I think when I first got here I didn't really think of Catherine at all."

"When you first got here?"

"Yeah, Mom and I sort of were separated at birth, kind of. It's a long story."

Sofia nods her acceptance of my answer. "Catherine and Sara seem like they're close. I know that they're roommates. A lab tech told me that they moved in together because of something that happened with 'a daughter'. I assumed they were talking about Catherine's daughter because I once overheard her talking to Grissom about sending her daughter to private school."

Roommates? Okay I know that Catherine and Mom don't advertise their relationship everywhere, but I do know that at least Mr. Grissom knows about them. Although, I think he found out about it because of everything that was happening with me. I know for sure that Greg knows about everything because he helped them out so much when I first came, what with staying with Lindsey and all. Mr. Brown, I'm pretty sure knows about it too. Catherine talks to him or at least I got that impression when he drove me over here from Jenny's house that one time. I'm not sure I've actually had any real conversations with any of my parents' coworkers. There was that one breakfast but I wasn't exactly working the crowd trying to get to know everyone there. I don't think this woman was there.

"How long have you been part of Mom's unit or team or whatever?"

Sofia walks further into the office and takes a seat in the chair next to me. "Not very long. I just got here, actually."

"You like doing this stuff?" I wave my hand around hoping that my lack of knowledge in this particular job area can be overlooked.

"Yeah," she smiles, "I like this stuff."

Okay so I don't have anymore questions and I'm not feeling the need to volunteer any more information. I certainly don't want her learning from me that my parents live in the same house and stay in the same room because they have an intimate relationship that involves stuff that goes way beyond friendship.

"You don't have to keep me company," I say as politely as I possibly can. "I'm sure you have your own work to do. I can entertain myself. I'll count ceiling tiles or something."

She nods. "You're right; I do have work to do. It's just a little weird meeting you. Sara seems a little young to have a child your age."

She's fishing for information, I think. "Sometimes it happens that way."

"Yeah," She nods again. "I just think it's odd she never talks about you. Catherine talks about her daughter all the time."

I'm sure 'all the time' is an overstatement. "Sofia, trust me when I say that there's a lot to talk about when it comes to me but not a lot that we want to share with everyone. I'm sure that if my mom isn't talking about me then it's because she thinks the stuff she has to say is my story to tell and not hers."

A figure passes by the door and steps back in front of it when their eyes fall on me. "Hey Mel," It's Mr. Brown. "Sara said something about you being here."

"Hey, Mr. Brown." I say getting up to greet him.

"You know it's Warrick. You're too old to call me, Mr. Brown." Once I get close enough to him he puts his arm across my shoulders.

"I'm trying for the polite thing these days." I'm not entirely comfortable with his display of affection but I'm not having a panic attack right now either, so that's good.

"They told me about you applying for school." He smiles at me and I can just imagine Catherine and Sara telling him that I finally decided to go to college with big grins of triumph on their faces.

"It seems liked the right thing to do."

"It's good to see you doing so well," His arm falls from my shoulders and he steps away from me. "I've got to get back to work but it's good seeing you again."

He walks away and once again I'm left alone with Sofia. "I should get back to work." She gets up, finally, and it actually looks like she's going to leave me alone. "Good luck with school."

She's walking away from me and I know I'm relieved to see her do so but apparently my mouth isn't working like I want it to, "I'm sure my mom does like you, you know as a person," I say softly because I really don't want anyone else to hear me. "I hear it just takes a while for people around here to warm up to newcomers. My parents will be telling you more stories about me than you want to hear soon enough."

"Your parents?" A light goes off in Sofia's eyes and I know that I just unintentionally said something that probably gave away more information than I meant to give.

Giving away the truth can't be so bad, though. "Yeah."

"Okay." She nods once then walks away from me and I'm finally alone in Catherine's office. I walk around her desk and sit in her chair. There's a bunch of papers on her desk and I read a couple of them making sure not to touch. I can sort of follow some of the big words that are written down but quickly get bored with them. They all seem like really dry reading.

My cell phone rings in my pocket and I fetch it out. Lindsey's calling me. "Hello?" I answer.

"Melinda?"

"That's who you called." I smile.

"Can you come pick me up and don't tell Mom about it or Sara?"

Well that sounds like trouble. "What's wrong, Lindsey?" I get up from Catherine's chair and start walking out of her office.

"I just don't want to be here anymore and if I call Mom then I'll probably get in trouble." She sounds kind of upset.

"I'm already on my way." I'm almost to the building's exit. "Just tell me where you are exactly and I'll be there as soon as I can be."

She gives me some address on some street that I'm vaguely familiar with. I keep her on the phone until I reach her and only hang up when I see her standing outside of a house that has loud music coming from it. I walk up to her and the first thing she asks me is, "You're not going to start freaking out are you? I didn't know who else to call."

Her question is a valid one, which is probably why I stop to seriously consider it. I don't feel like I'm going to freak out. I feel almost a normal amount of concern and a little bit of anger. "No freak outs today, Lindsey." I put my hand on her back and gently push her towards the car that I've somehow become part owner of since Mom and Catherine rideshare to work. "But you do owe me a story about why I'm picking you up at a party instead of at the mall."

Lindsey pouts but lets me push her to the car. Once we get inside of it she starts telling me why she ended up at the party in the first place. She says a lot of words but I think it all comes down to that there was a boy there she wanted to see, but decided to leave when she saw what was actually going on at the party. "I'm glad you called me," I tell her once her flow of words has stopped.

"You're not going to tell Mom or Sara are you?"

"No, not this time. You showed that you're actually kind of responsible so that means I'll be your accomplice in your crimes this time."

"Thanks," she says softly. "It's kind of cool to have an older sister, now."

"Hey don't abuse it too much, Lindsey."

"I won't."

We sit in silence for a while and I recognize that I'm not really driving to anywhere. "I'm hungry," Lindsey puts her hand on her stomach for dramatic emphasis of her statement. "Buy me food or I'll die from starvation."

I laugh. "You're such a drama queen."

"Yeah right," Lindsey snorts, "says the girl who's the drama goddess of the world."

The End


Sequel Anyone? I'm already working on it. I'll probably start posting it in about a week. The only reason I initially chose to end Mad World where I did was because I felt the characters had evolved past this story and are moving into another. The sequel's title is Inner Peace.