Just another glass, just another beer. Just one last taste of carelessness, and then I'll go home. My empty, cold home sweet home. One more beer, before.
I am sitting alone at the counter in a club I don't know. Familiar lights and noises all around me, familiar faces and smokes and voices, but everything looks the same in Vegas, and I might be anywhere else, instead, and I wouldn't really care.
I take one sip, two sips, three sips, and the bottle is empty. I stare at it, as though I expected something beautiful to come out of it any moment, like an angel who will save me from the nothingness I'm drowning in. But this is just glass and air, and all I've found in it was a moment of peace and some bittersweet taste I still feel in my mouth.
No salvation, no love, no compassion, and angels don't exist.
I'm dizzy, but not drunk enough to stand the guy sitting by me. His words smell of too many vodkas as he hits on me restlessly, probably not even noticing my mind is elsewhere, lost between my dead wishes and my self commiseration.
There are hundreds of people in here, but I've never been so alone.
In my head one thought keeps repeating over and over, driving me each time closer to madness. There's nothing I didn't do for him, nothing I haven't tried. What do I have to do to be worth Gil Grissom's attention?
I look down at the wound in my hand, and I nearly laugh at it. 'Honey, this doesn't look good', he said. I wonder what he would say if he saw what he has done to my heart. Does he even realise what he does to me?
Rumours say Gil Grissom and Sara Sidle have had an affair in the past. People say Gil Grissom and Sara Sidle have something going on. Gil Grissom says he doesn't know what to do about this. Sara Sidle is tired of being only a name in a gossip and just wants to forget.
I shouldn't be here, I know better, but I like to stay in places where nobody knows me, and nobody expects anything from me. All I have to do here is to sit back and pay for some momentary comfort. Alcohol does not sort out problems, but it does help bearing them.
I'm really tired now, but I don't feel like going home. I want someone to come and pick me up, and take me somewhere I don't have to care about who I am and what I want and what I can't have. I need a shelter from the world.
The barman is looking at me. He's handsome and smiling, and he's been keeping an eye on me for the whole evening.
"Another one, Beautiful?"
I look at the three empty bottles in front of me, and the glass I'm still drinking. I said it was the last one, and I said it after each of these bottles.
Maybe I can stay another few minutes, and let time wash over me like I didn't care. This is the last one, I promise. The very last one.
I keep drinking, but my thirst won't be soothed. The music seems louder, the club more crowded, and I'm starting to feel suffocated by all this chaos. I stand up and sway through the tables and dancing people, trying to make my way to the exit. I feel breaths on me, other bodies skimming mine, until I bump into a guy who seems to enjoy the game.
"Hi, pretty princess."
His hands lay on my hips, trapping me in his grip. I should writhe and push him away, I know I can, I was trained to do this, but my body refuses to obey to my brain, and he pulls me to him before I can even think of what to do.
"Are you all alone, honey?" the guy asks me smugly, and I hear a laugh rise from his friends. They're all around me.
"No, smartass, she's not alone." A familiar voice says, and a new pair of hands grab me and drag me away. I know this touch, but I can't remember whom it belongs to. It's firm and yet gentle, and within seconds I find myself breathing the freshness of the night, under a dark cloudy sky. The air smells of tears and rain.
"Sara, what the hell are you doing here?"
I blink to focus the person standing before me. I know this voice, I know these lightly rough hands holding my naked arms. I know these green eyes scrutinizing me in the dark.
"Warrick." I hang onto his chest as my head starts spinning. I can almost hear new rumours spreading around.
Sara got drunk after Grissom rejected her.
Humiliation starts emerging from the hundreds of mixed feeling I have inside, and suddenly I don't feel so okay anymore.
"Take me away from here." I whisper, looking straight into his inquiring eyes. I know every single question he's longing to ask me. "Please."
He looks up, and I see a beautiful girl standing at the entrance of the club. She's staring at us, and looks angry and offended. Warrick returns the look for a brief instant, then drops his head and places an arm around my shoulders, turning his back to her without a word or gesture. The girl goes back into the club, and he walks me to his car. Two cops we know are watching from the other side of the parking lot, but I don't give a damn.
I follow him numbly, suddenly wishing he'd left me where I was. Maybe I would have ended up raped and beaten up, and left in an alley to die. Maybe I would have got Grissom's attention, that way. I wonder if he would cry, if I died, or if he would just study me like any other victim, and treat me with indifference, as our job requires. Not Sara, but just a nameless girl. No, not even a girl. An object. It wouldn't be hard for him, after all. He would just have to act like he always does. Maybe dying would have reminded me how being alive feels like.
Maybe I'm simply already dead, and I just don't know.
Warrick helps me onto the passenger seat of his Denali and fastens my seatbelt, then leans on me, brushing a lock of hair behind my ear, resting his hand on the nape of my neck.
"Don't worry, Sar, it's going to be fine." he says softly, with a sweetness that nearly makes me believe him, and gives me a small smile.
I only want to cry.
I don't know where he's driving me, it's a zone of the city I've never seen, but I don't really care. Warrick casts occasional glances at me. Worried glances, concerned glances, glances I'm not used to get. It confuses me. There have never been traces of this concern in Grissom's look, though I've been waiting for one for years and years. It's nearly funny how I'm finding it now in the eyes of someone I would have never searched in.
Warrick and I have never been particularly close. We've always had this sort of competitiveness to divide us. There used to be valid reasons why, in the beginning, I didn't like him. Reasons I clearly remember, but I don't want to think of. It was just me, twenty minutes ago, like I've always been, but then he appeared out of nowhere and my walls of numbness crumbled down. I felt pity for myself when I realised how pathetic I must have looked, how stupid, and, really, now I don't know anymore why I even went to that club.
"What were you doing in there on your own?" Warricks asks again. I don't know what to say.
I could lie, and go on pretending it's alright. Yes, I could lie, and say I was there to have fun, but I'm aware I don't look like someone who has had any fun in the last few years. I could lie, and he wouldn't buy it, but I won't, not for tonight.
"I was looking for some relief in the wrong place." I answer lamely, my head vaguely aching. "In the wrong way."
He scowls, not removing his eyes from the street, and yet I know his attention is all for me. It makes me feel important to have someone caring for me. It's a feeling I had forgotten.
"What kind of relief can you find in a place like that?"
I smile sarcastically, abandoned on the seat like an empty coat.
"Drinking makes things more bearable. I wanted to feel like I didn't care."
I can smell his next question, now. It's kind of obvious, but I'm not sure he's going to ask. We're not confident, we're not intimate friends. Sometime we just are not. I know he still carries some grudge in my regards for what happened when I first came to Las Vegas. I was called here with a very precise role: I was the bitch who was supposed to ruin him. I was the enemy, and sometimes I have the feeling I still am.
Not now, though.
"Care about what?"
Useless and trivial question. I think he can read the obvious answer on my face, in the way I look out of the window as if there was nothing to see. My own silence smells of wistfulness and want to run away
I smile again, this time more serenely – resignedly, perhaps – lulled by the slight waving motion of the car running on the road, and I shrug.
He smiles back, still not turning to me. He's keeping a safety distance, as though he doesn't want to invade my personal space. He shakes his head and turns left. The car keeps going, the night is still young. I'm tired of talking.
I don't know why I was in that pub, and I don't know why I am here. This is an unknown territory as much as that anonymous club was, as unfamiliar, but it makes me feel way more uncomfortable. I might as well be in a stranger's house, and I'd feel exactly the same: out of place and out of context, like a snake in a cage of butterflies. I have nothing to do with Warrick's private life, I know nothing of him away from the job, and I'm standing here in bewilderment, looking around in the dim light coming from the large window on the other side of the room, and I wait. I've been here for only a few seconds and I already feel like I shouldn't be here at all.
And yet there is something in this place that attracts me, a pleasant scent, a cosy atmosphere. I have never been here before, I'm not at ease. I've been living in my current apartment for three years, by now, but there's something here that makes me feel at home more than I do in my own bed.
Warrick closes the door and walks next to me, then he looks around, too. He stays silent. He knows me well enough not to expect any comment from me. It's amazing how you can get to know someone through years and years of silence and distance, as amazing as it is to spend half of your life trying to communicate with somebody who still hasn't understood a thing about you.
"You can breathe, you know." He quips at my stillness, shifting on his feet. I laugh mildly. I know that, given all the alcohol I've had, I should be drunk, but I'm completely lucid, though vaguely lightheaded, and I'm fine. I can't the remember the last time I told this to myself and actually believed that.
"You left your girlfriend." I say absentmindedly, observing a picture of a young Warrick Brown in his late teens, who smugly smiles at the camera with a basketball under his arm. He looks handsome and selfconfident, not much different than nowadays.
He moves in front of me and tilts his head with a small smile, folding his arms over his chest.
"She didn't need me, and you did." He replies matter-of-factly. "And she wasn't my girlfriend."
His leather jacket is gone and the white shirt he's wearing makes him look bigger than usual. It's like his presence is filling up the room, and I discover myself not so disturbed as I would have thought.
"What was she, then? Your Saturday night date, or… Some kind of one night stand I ruined, maybe?"
He stares at me intensely and slowly jiggles his head. The distance between us is shortening, I don't know how, or maybe it's just my impression. Maybe just what I want.
"She was nobody."
His hand raises and cups my face. I can hear his brain racing, his thoughts getting confused and blurry, his conscience screaming for attention. There are unlistened alarm bells ringing furiously in his mind. Mine is silent.
I know he's thinking the same things as I am, I can sense his want to slam me against the wall behind my back and give in to whatever this growing need is. Where's commonsense when it's needed? Probably hidden beneath my bunch of disappointments, badly endured betrayals, unvoiced wishes and this desperate, pathetic need to feel loved.
Our faces are approaching tentatively, but steadily enough for us to perceive each other's tension. I don't know how I ended up here, nor why, nor why I let him drive me here so passively. I guess I just liked the perspective of getting out of there and being taken care of. It just felt nice, and I didn't want it to end.
Our foreheads skim, and the brief contact seems to jolt him back to reality. He backs away, but his hand is still here. I like it where it is.
"Come on," he blindly seeks my hand and pulls me to follow him through the room to a short corridor. "Sleeping time."
He opens a door and I soon realise it's his room. It looks essential and vaguely modern, but not bare, nor cold. It's exactly like the bedroom of a CSI is supposed to look: clean, tidy and underused.
I turn to him questioningly and he grins mischievously.
"Don't worry, I'll get the couch." He winks at me. "Get comfortable, the sheets are clean and scented."
He makes to leave, but I don't want him to. I don't want to feel lonely again. I grab his wrist, just like a drowning man would grasp at a lifebuoy. I don't know what I'm looking for. It doesn't matter, now. I want him to stay.
"Don't leave me alone."
I hear my own voice speak these words and I hardly can believe it's actually me. Begging, pleading, supplicating. Am I this desperate?
He doesn't say anything. He just lingers for a moment on the doorway, then gazes at me in that understanding way I have seen only in movies. He nods. His arms warp around me and he holds me tight to him. He places one hand on my head and I feel safe. Not safe as in out of danger, but simply safe, as if there's nothing to worry about. It's a beautiful sensation.
I am still dizzy and for a moment my legs give in, but he's strong, and he lifts me up before I can even realise it. He gently carries me to his bed and lays me down, then covers me with a soft blanket, and lies next to me. His arms surround me again, rocking me soundly. It feels good. It feels damn wonderfully good.
"Why can't I be enough?" I sob onto his chest. "What do I do wrong?"
He lets me cry, and I feel free to let go of all I've always kept inside. He strokes my hair and his lips brush against my forehead. He knows what I'm talking about. He knows he doesn't have to reply to my questions, because he's aware I know the answers better than him. He just lets me vent my sadness, all that angst I've long repressed to keep my pretty tough disguise up. There is a young sensitive woman, however disillusioned and broken, behind CSI Sara Sidle, and Warrick is uninvolved enough – detached enough – to stand this truth. For once I can be myself and not struggle to be the one I am expected to be, to be better and more perfect. I'm not perfect, I'll never be, but tonight it doesn't matter.
"You're more than enough, Sara." He mutters softly. "And you don't have to be strong all the time to prove this. You are already the best, baby, he just doesn't want to see it."
My heart seems to stop. The situation is crazy, insane, and I shouldn't be here at all, basking in an embrace that doesn't belong to the man I love, but that makes me feel loved as I have never felt. I don't how this is possible.
"God, Sara, you're shaking…"
The concern in his tone melts me. I am a moth flying to the wrong flame, but I no longer want to search for warmth where there's nothing but ice. I am warm here, now, as Warrick's unshaven chin brushes against my neck, sending shivers of pleasure all over my body.
The last little remnants of my self control vanish when I feel him pressed against me, eager and yet reluctant. He tries to pull away, but I don't let him go. I approach my mouth to his until they lightly touch.
"Sara," he breaths urgently upon my lips. "Are you really-?"
"Sure." I confirm, and one second later we collide into a passionate kiss. It doesn't taste of love, but of hunger and desire, a feeling I haven't experienced much more than love itself. This is not my secret dream coming true, but I'm in too deep to turn back now. I wouldn't, even if I could. I'm here, he's here, and we both want something we can have. Romantic, some way, wild and irresponsible and unwise, too. I like playing the insensible one. I like getting what I want, even when it's just the consolation prize. I'm not coming second best this time.
His hands crawl under my shirt and explore my skin enticingly, up and down my whimpering back, across my sensitive stomach, then down under the beltline, demanding for more. He regards me one last time, the heat growing in my whole body, and I can't wait anymore.
I kiss him and let him pull my shirt up. He tosses it somewhere on the floor and starts trailing kisses and tiny bites down my torso. I can't remember how his clothes went off. There's no need to say anything, it's not worth the risk to break the enchantment. His fingers undo my pants, I lift my hips and let him remove the last obstacle left.
Another kiss, another jump into senselessness, another suicidal attempt to fill in eternal gaps and heal everbleeding wounds. But as long as it lasts, I don't care.
Tomorrow new rumours will start spreading in the lab. Sara Sidle and Warrick Brown left a club together. Warrick Brown took Sara Sidle to his apartment. Sara Sidle and Warrick Brown slept together.
But today will be gone, tomorrow, and what happened yesterday will be already forgotten. I don't want to think about it now. Tomorrow is another day, and today – tonight – I just want to make love. And forget.
Grissom barely talks to me or Warrick ever since we got into the lab, one week ago. He never listens to rumours, but there are things you just can't pretend not to hear. Everybody looks at us differently, today, but nobody asks, no one inquires. They stare at me, at Warrick, at Grissom, like they expected one of us to explode from a moment to another. They fall silent when we pass by and start whispering again when we're gone. Grissom notices, put prefers to pretend he doesn't. Warrick was right all along. It is safer to hide behind a lie rather than face an inconvenient truth. Despite all the evidence, he still refuses to see. Will he ever grow up?
I'm in the break-room, and Warrick is hugging me. There's nobody around, but we wouldn't care anyway. We've grown closer now, and I can't define what is between the two us. We're not lovers, but we're not friends, either. We're hanging between the two sides in a sort of convenient compromise. I could say I'm happy, but it would be better to say I'm not unhappy anymore.
Maybe one day it won't be enough, and everything will end as inexplicably as it begun, but for now I like to wake up in a pair of arms which have been holding me through the whole night. We're not friends, but we support each other. We're not lovers, but we do sleep together. This is all I know for sure.
Grissom appears in the doorway and freezes as he spots us in the darkest corner of the room, tangled in a kiss. He's probably wondering what Warrick and I have been wondering from the start. How did this happen?
Warrick departs from the kiss, but doesn't let go of me. He toughly returns Grissom's dazed look, and waits. A tense atmosphere is in the room. I dig my nails in his arms, and he holds me more firmly in response, remarking his property.
Warrick stands Grissom's wry look challengingly. I know what he's thinking, and Grissom does, too.
"I'm doing what you've never bothered to do, Gil. I'm taking care of her."
I feel good where I am, with Warrick holding me like it's all he wants, all he needs. I feel protected from myself.
And perhaps angels don't exist, but at least now I know what flying feels like.