A/N: Wow, I've really been needing my Cath/Sara fix lately xD This is a Nesting Dolls oneshot that takes place right after Brass finishes the interrogation with the husband. I hope you guys enjoy it!
"She never appreciated me."
How could anyone possibly appreciate someone like you? She thought to herself, watching as Brass made a motion to one of the uniforms inside the interrogation room and Andrew Melton was handcuffed. She had gone through her experience of abusive husbands, abusive boyfriends, the works. This guy turned out to be just like the rest of them. He was just a gray-haired balding shorter version of Eddie Willows.
And she had defended him. She rolled her eyes at her own stupidity and stubbornness as she turned and walked out of the room, her high heels clicking behind her. She had argued with Sara over the man and she had actually defended him. She knew he wasn't innocent from the second she saw him. She felt even worse now knowing that the only reason Sara got suspended in the first place was because of her own stubbornness.
Catherine Willows was stubborn, but Sara Sidle was the definition of stubborn. Anyone knew that if you mixed the two together it was like oil and water.
But she couldn't be concerned about the younger woman, she tried to remind herself. She was supposed to be upset about what she had said to her. It was unprofessional and out of line. She was the superior and Sara was the subordinate.
Damn it, Sara. Sometimes I just don't get you.
She walked into the small break room of the police department with a sigh as she looked at the half-empty coffee pot. It wasn't really what she wanted or needed at the moment—she was hoping for something much, much stronger—but it would have to do.
Just as she was about to pour herself a mug of the lukewarm brew there was a loud crash from inside the hallway. Startled and thus dropping her coffee mug, her battle instincts quickly kicked in and she reached for her holster on her hip as she dashed around the corner to see what was going on.
She saw Brass and about three other uniforms trying to wrestle someone to the ground. She listened to the voices—
"Calm down!" one of the officers not doubt.
"Get him away from her!" this was Brass. 'Her'? Catherine didn't see a woman.
She took a few more steps forward and that was when she saw her sprawled out on the floor on her back. There was blood dripping from her mouth and she was grasping her right eye painfully. She heard her let out a moan of pain.
"Sara?" Catherine quickly asked, kneeling down beside her. She watched as Sara tried to get to her feet but stumbled. "Stop, stop, okay, I'll help you," she told her. Throwing Sara's arm around her shoulder she slowly hoisted them both to their feet off to the women's restroom.
"You bitch! If you were my wife I would slap you black and blue!" Catherine heard the last part of Andrew Melton's tirade before Brass and some officers were able to wrestle him out of the room.
Letting out a relieved sigh, she snuck a glance at the younger woman on the way. There was a nice bruise forming around her left eye and her lip was now swollen and purple. She wasn't sure what had happened but it seemed pretty obvious now.
She propped the restroom door open and led Sara inside, stopping when they reached the sinks. "Sara, I'm going to let go of you now, okay?" Catherine asked her. She helped her get steady against the counter before she let go and grabbed a few paper towels, folding them over and turning on the faucets to wet them.
"Here, just hold this against your eye…" Catherine instructed her, pressing the cold wet towel against the bruise. Sara winced but grabbed the towel and held it as Catherine got to work wetting another series of paper towels and started to dab up the drying blood on her bottom lip.
"Thanks," Sara finally spoke, letting out a small sigh. "I guess I walked right into that one…"
"What happened?" Catherine questioned, setting the paper towel down when she had wiped up the remainder of the blood.
"I got a nice big-ass shiner for opening my mouth," Sara told her, trying to shoot her a small smirk but the pain coursing through her head said otherwise.
"Brass had just finished the interrogation…" Catherine trailed off. But something still didn't make sense. "But what were you doing here, Sara?"
She watched as the brunette quickly turned away, refusing to make eye contact. "Do you have any aspirin?" Sara asked her.
Catherine just nodded, reaching into her pocket and taking out a small packet. She had bought some right after their argument in the hallway—she had expected she was going to need it that night.
"Thanks," Sara sighed, swallowing the pills dry. Finally she looked up and made eye contact with the blonde. "I came to apologize."
And for once Catherine was the one struck speechless. All she could get out was, "…What?"
"I came to apologize, Cath," Sara repeated, slowly moving the paper towel away from her eye and letting out a small hiss of pain. The skin was already turning black and blue. "What I said was out-of-line and I just…"
"Its fine," Catherine automatically replied. She tried to make it click in her mind—Sara, here, apologizing to her in the women's restroom. Something about that just didn't quite seem believable. They had always had choice words with each other and it always seemed neither of them got around to the apologizing stage. "If it's any consolation I wasn't any better."
"But what you said wasn't insulting toward me, and I stepped over the line," Sara told her. It was almost as if Sara wanted her to be upset. "I deserved everything I got, and I'm sorry."
Catherine finally got a good look at Sara and her features softened. Her eyes were red and puffy—there was no doubt she had been crying. Her hair was tucked behind her head in a messy ponytail and her clothes were wrinkled. They were the same clothes she had been wearing earlier that day. "Its fine, Sara, don't worry about it," Catherine repeated, looking over at her in concern. "But are you doing alright? You don't look so good."
"I'm fine, just fine, I—"
"Don't lie to me," Catherine interrupted. "You've been crying. Your breath smells like alcohol." She bit her lip for a moment before she continued. "Empty your pockets."
Sara looked like she had just been shot. "Cath, I—"
"Just do it, Sara," Catherine repeated. If Sara had been drinking there was no doubt she had tried to cover it up with the signature cough-drop trick before coming over to the station. Catherine had never really seen Sara drink before but if Sara was feeling anything like she was—which she just amplified times ten—she knew the first thing she would do was grab a beer.
Sara stared at her wide-eyed, trying to think of something to say but no words came out of her mouth. Getting impatient Catherine finally reached over and grabbed Sara by her arm, pulling her toward her and snaking her other hand into the front pocket of her jeans. Not much to her surprise she took out four individually-wrapped cough drops, setting them down on the counter beside them.
Sara looked at Catherine in disbelief, a look of guilt and shame on her face as she looked back at the cough drops and then Catherine two or three times. "I… I…" she couldn't think of anything to say. She was caught red-handed.
"Now, are you going to tell me what's really going on?" Catherine asked her. She felt bad that she was being so firm and hurtful toward her but she needed to get the truth out and she wasn't going to let Sara continue to hurt herself. At the same time she was fighting the overwhelming urge to pull her into an embrace and never let go.
"I… I don't know what you want from me, Cath," Sara whispered, her eyes glistening with unshed tears. She had already cried in front of Grissom. She was not about to cry in front of Catherine. It just didn't work with her 'tough as nails' persona.
"I want the truth, Sara," Catherine told her, standing her ground. "I'm worried about you. I'm not trying to embarrass you, I'm here as a friend."
Sara was finally going to say something when the door to the restroom opened and a female officer walked in. Catherine watched as Sara immediately retreated back into her little psychological shell. Damn it, she was so close she could taste it!
"Come on," Catherine motioned to the door. "I'll take you home." Not giving Sara a chance to protest she was already on her way out. There was no doubt in her mind that Sara would follow her. She nodded in satisfaction as she heard Sara trailing behind her.
Once they were outside Catherine pointed to her own SUV and Sara followed, getting in the passenger's side as Catherine started the car up. After pulling out of the lab's parking lot the rest of the ride was completely silent. Sara was trying her hardest not to break down and Catherine had no clue in hell what she was doing.
Catherine pulled the car into the parking lot of Sara's apartment complex and after parking the car, the two of them sat there in silence. Catherine snuck a glance over at Sara who refused to make eye contact and was staring out her window.
"Please don't look at me like that," Sara softly told her.
"Sara, I'm concerned about you, please…" Catherine tried to push her. "Just tell me what's going on. I want to clear the air between us."
"There's nothing going on," Sara protested.
"Damn it, Sara!" That was it. Catherine had been trying her hardest not to snap at her but now she couldn't hold it in any longer. She just didn't get Sara Sidle. When something was able to penetrate one of her walls she lost it and then refused to talk to anyone about it. "How is anyone supposed to help you if you just shut us out?"
"It's not your burden to bear," Sara said, finally turning around to look at Catherine. Her eyes were dangerously close to overflowing with tears now. "Don't you see, Catherine? You have your daughter, your career, your friends, your mother. I'm not going to ruin all that by shrugging my problems off on you. You don't deserve that. None of you do."
"Sara, we're your friends, it's out job to help you," Catherine explained. "Don't you see how silly you're sounding? You act like you're not important enough for anyone to care about you!"
"That's exactly what I'm saying," Sara replied. Catherine's eyes widened and she stared at Sara in shock and disbelief. "Thank you for driving me home," Sara told her, unbuckling herself and opening the passenger's side door. "And the aspirin."
Catherine watched Sara walk around the car to the sidewalk and before she knew what she was doing she had unbuckled herself and thrown the driver's door open, slamming it behind herself and storming up to cut her off half-way. Sara was reaching into her pocket for the key to her apartment when Catherine grabbed both of her shoulders and pushed her against the hood of the Denali.
"Sara, I swear to God I am trying my hardest not to slap you right now," Catherine whispered to her, staring her straight in the eye now that their faces were mere inches from each other. "You know that's one of the dumbest things you've ever said. I know it and you know it!"
Sara looked at Catherine, her eyes wide in shock but her face quickly contorted into a look of anger and outrage. "Let go of me, Catherine. I didn't ask you for help."
"Well you're going to get it either way, Sara!" Catherine firmly told her. When Sara tried to move she grabbed her arm and pushed it back against the hood of the car. "You're not running away from me this time. Incase you've forgotten I'm still pissed off about what you said to me earlier today," she whispered. "So tell me—what's going on?"
Sara bit the inside of her bottom lip and returned Catherine's striking gaze, fire in her eyes. To onlookers it would have appeared to be the most heated staring contest ever. "My father was abusive," Sara finally said. "He used to beat my mother on a regular basis. I tried to get in the middle of it but each time I ended up in the ER."
Catherine immediately let out a small gasp, her eyes widening as she looked down at Sara. Her grip on her arms slowly loosened.
"One night when my father came into my bedroom my mother grabbed a butcher's knife and stabbed him twelve times in the chest," Sara continued, never breaking her gaze. Catherine watched as a tear finally descended its way down her face. "My mother was a survivor. But you know what, Cath?" she then asked, more tears of anger starting to fall down her face now.
"Sara…" Catherine started, but Sara didn't let her finish.
"Svetlana Melton wasn't a survivor," Sara whispered.
There were a few moments of silence between the two before Sara finally gave in and choked on the sob she had been trying to hold back the entire time. Catherine realized she was breaking down and wrapped both arms around her tiny frame to try and comfort her, pulling her closer. She stared at the hood of her car wide-eyed trying to comprehend everything Sara had just told her.
She could see it now—Sara cowering in her room as she heard her parents fighting. Sara trying to make herself invisible as she heard the door to her bedroom open. Sara screaming as she watched her mother stab her father repeatedly in the chest.
And a blood-covered little girl being taken to the hospital by a social services worker grasping their hand for dear life. For her life.
"Oh my god, Sara," Catherine finally whispered. Her own tears were falling now and she didn't bother to hide them. "I had no idea…"
"It wasn't your fault," Sara shook her head, choking in shaky breaths as she tried to stop herself from crying anymore against Catherine's chest. "I just… I just didn't want you to have to deal with it too! It's taken me 30 years to come to terms with it!"
"I know," Catherine whispered, gently rubbing her back as some form of support. Now she truly felt horrible for everything she had ever done or said to Sara. She had no idea how much she had to deal with, and at such a young age…
"And… and that husband…" Sara continued, wiping at her eyes. "He was guilty… I just knew it, Catherine. Just by looking at him, I could tell! He was smiling… the bastard was smiling and he killed her!" she shouted, her hands balling into fists.
"I know, Sara," Catherine told her, slowly reaching down and taking her fists into her hands. She gently pried her hands open and uncurled her fingers. "And we got him. I should've believed you, and I'm sorry. My stubbornness can turn me into a bitch sometimes."
Sara let out a small laugh as she let out a shaky sigh, wiping at her eyes again. "Not as big a bitch as I was, though."
"Oh so you're saying I was a bitch?" Catherine teased, shooting her a small grin. When Sara giggled she couldn't help but smile. "Come on, I'll help you up to your apartment."
"You don't have to Catherine, you should go home and be with Lindsey," Sara told her.
"Lindsey's at my mother's, she's staying over there until this weekend," Catherine replied. In seconds she had snatched the keys from Sara's hand. "And incase you've forgotten you have a nasty bruise on your face and you had trouble walking to the bathroom because of that mouth of yours. Do you really want to argue?"
Sara shot her a look but her lips quickly curled into a smile. "Thanks, Cath."
"Don't mention it, Sara," Catherine smiled. "It's the least I could do after making you have to put up with me. Now which one's yours?"