Disclaimers: I don't own CSI or any of its affiliates.


She entered the bar already drunk, walked up to the bartender and slurred out her order. She couldn't remember the last time she had been completely sober, and now feared the day when the alcohol she had consumed would completely leave her body. She knew that sober she would start feeling the full weight of her memories again, and she wasn't ready for it. She didn't want it.

Once the glass was placed in front of her, she stared down into the dark liquid wondering not for the first time if it would finally provide her with all the answers to her problems. She chuckled at her own stupidity before her hand connected with the cool glass. The alcohol burned the back of her throat, adding a welcoming discomfort that had been missed throughout her hours of work.

She ordered another drink, and when she looked down at the next glass placed down in front of her, she was so brave as to propose a toast, "To Cath," she told the glass.

She ordered another drink. "To Linds."

She ordered another drink. "To me."

She ordered another drink, not caring anymore whether or not she would divine answers from the liquid she drank so greedily, but now just hoping it would quiet the thoughts and images that wouldn't leave her alone. Now, she just wanted the darkness that came along with another alcohol induced slumber, but she still had one more toast to make, "And as always, to my Melinda."

The liquid burned no less now than it had for the first drink. She wanted to order another, but decided against it since she wasn't yet ready to pass out in public. Her standards on how to live her life might have lowered significantly, but she still did have some.

She turned away from the bar, the movement jarring her inebriated senses. When the room righted itself, she found herself staring into blue eyes that she thought she would have been given a reprieve from for at least another ten hours.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Her words were slurred, she didn't understand them but wasn't willing to risk repeating them.

"I'm taking you home, Sara."

"You didn't have to follow me," She moved into her co-workers personal space. Shoving her body inappropriately against the woman she had made her first toast to. "You could have just told me you wanted to fuck. I would have made time for you." Her words even disgusted her, but she didn't feel like being pleasant. She felt like being vulgar and crass. She didn't want this woman's sympathy.

"I'm not letting you drive."

"I don't always have to be on top. You can drive tonight." she whispered into the other woman's ear, making sure their bodies remained in contact. She didn't want to be the first to pull away and admit defeat in a game she had started.

An arm went around Sara's waist, and she didn't resist its support. A hundred curses formed rapidly in her head, but she couldn't find the strength to disgust herself any further. She let Catherine lead her out of the bar and into the passenger's seat of a car. She didn't ask any questions and couldn't bother herself with even keeping her eyes open. She had let Catherine have her way many times before, there was no reason to fight Catherine's will now.

Catherine pulled her car into Sara's apartment complex, intent on pushing her drunken colleague out of the door now that she knew Sara had arrived safely without ending up in a case file. She poked at Sara's sleeping form, not quite able to hold back the feelings of revulsion she felt at seeing Sara in this state. She had thought that Sara was stronger than this, stronger than seeking out a manufactured escape from reality. Catherine had believed that Sara was stronger than she.

That was one of the reasons—really perhaps the only reason—that Catherine had felt so much comfort in unleashing her rage on Sara: she had always believed that the younger woman could handle it. The revulsion Catherine felt as she looked upon her lover and sometimes friend, she realized, probably in some way connected to the disgust she felt with herself.

Sara moved away from Catherine's poking, and curled up against the door next to her. Catherine mumbled an incoherent curse, then opened her own door and stepped out of the vehicle. She walked around to the passenger's door, and then yanked it open. Sara almost fell to the ground, but somehow managed to drunkenly brace herself against the car before she fell out.

Catherine reached in to help Sara step out of the vehicle, but was rudely brushed away by Sara's hands and a firm reminder that her assistance wasn't welcomed nor needed. Sara stumbled her way out of the car and somehow found some semblance of balance so that she could continue her journey to the front door of her apartment.

"You don't have to follow me," Sara spit out behind her, careful not to turn her head too quickly. "You've done your charity work already."

"It's not charity work," Catherine mumbled, already knowing that any thing she bothered to say now wouldn't be appreciated and might not even be remembered. "I care about you."

Sara braced her body against a near by rail as she laughed at Catherine's words. "You're not a very good liar." She pushed her body back up, this time intent on ignoring the woman who was following her.

Catherine grabbed hold of Sara's arm. "I'm not lying."

Sara stumbled out of Catherine's hold, unwilling to admit that it was unlikely Catherine would go through all this trouble only to lie about her reasons for doing it. She continued her way to her apartment, intent on closing the door on Catherine's face, and then seeking out a bottle of whatever alcohol she had left in her apartment. She knew it was time for another drink since she was starting to form rational thoughts again and understood that eventually her brain would catch up to her actions and the guilt would form an oppressive aura around her body, making it impossible for her to have single moment of peace.

Once the door was open, Sara quickly stepped through it with Catherine following close behind her. She didn't give Sara a chance to close the door in her face. Sara thought about cursing at her co-worker but decided not to waste the energy. She stumbled to her bedroom and closed and locked the door behind her. Catherine could wait out in the apartment as long as she wanted, Sara reasoned, she just didn't want to be in the same room as the more experienced CSI.

Sara fell on her bed, not thinking to change her clothes. She almost immediately fell asleep and managed to stay that way for a few hours until a nightmare woke her up. It was the same disturbing image that had been keeping her from a full night's rest for the past month. Sara rolled out of her bed and made her way to the bathroom, having completely forgotten that her door was locked because of her unwanted guest.

She leaned against the bathroom counter and stared at her image in the mirror. She rubbed her hands against her face, failing to rub away the flashes of memory that had fueled her nightmares. She cleaned up and then went back to her living room only to be met by a waiting Catherine.

The other woman stood up and moved in front of Sara. She placed her arms around Sara and pulled the taller woman to her. Catherine had heard Sara screaming out her anguish as her nightmare took control of her mind, but no matter how much Catherine wished to offer comfort to Sara she was unable to. Sara had locked the door and Catherine was unwilling to kick the door down. Sara had to come out eventually.

Sara allowed herself to be pulled into the comfort Catherine offered. She closed her eyes as she leaned further into Catherine.

"Who's Melinda?" Catherine whispered the question into Sara's ear, afraid that if she spoke too loudly then Sara would push her away again. She was tired of Sara pushing her away, despite that maybe she deserved being pushed back a little for the amount of anger and frustration she had been unleashing on Sara's delicate psyche.

Sara did push away from her. "What?"

Catherine considered letting the name she had heard more than once that night, drop away like she didn't hear Sara's voice muttering the name with so much pain. But, her curiosity wouldn't let the name be forgotten. She wanted to know if the name would give her the secrets to Sara's sometimes maudlin personality. She wanted to know if this Melinda was responsible for the reasons Sara was so reluctant to enter into a relationship with her that included more than having sex when they both had a free moment. "Who's Melinda?"

Sara wanted to pretend like she didn't recognize the name, but she knew better than to try and fool Catherine. It wouldn't work and she was certain she wasn't strong enough to go through the fight that would ensue her trying to lie about the origins of that simple name. So, Sara walked back to her bedroom and let Catherine follow her to the bed. She sat down and rubbed at her face again.

"Technically," Sara whispered to the woman who leaned down in front of her, "I guess you could say that Melinda is my sister." She continued talking, forcing her words to come out, sounding more monotone and emotionless than her words seemed to require. She looked down into Catherine's blue eyes and confessed everything about the name of a girl she hadn't bothered to consciously mutter unless she was drunk.

When Sara was done with her story, Catherine told Sara to try and sleep. She didn't want to continue a conversation unless Sara was fully sober and completely awake. She walked out of the bedroom, making sure to close the door behind her and took a place back on the sofa in the living room. She sat and thought about what Sara had told her until her lover awoke again a few hours later and exited the bedroom.

Sara took a seat next to Catherine and then placed her head on Catherine's shoulder. "Have you slept at all?"

"No," Catherine placed her arm around Sara's waist, trying not to be too surprised by the fact that Sara was leaning against her and they still had their clothes on. This simple physical closeness was much more than the previous lustful affection they had shown before.

"You're thinking about her, aren't you?" Sara closed her eyes, knowing that she had to stay and make sure that Catherine understood what had happened last night.

Catherine nodded. "I'm thinking about both of you."

Sara took her head off of Catherine's shoulder. "Forget about her." She ordered sternly.

"How?" Catherine expected Sara to ask her to forget anything happened last night. She expected Sara to ask her to pretend like Sara hadn't shared with her something so intimate that it went beyond anything they had shared physically.

"You just have to." Sara kept her voice strong. She didn't want to risk crumbling into the pieces she had broken into the night before. "It's my problem."

"But…"

"But nothing," Sara interrupted, not wanting to hear whatever objection Catherine could come up with. She didn't want to give the other woman a chance to talk her into something she wasn't ready for. "If you want to be with me, then you have to let it go. This is my issue to deal with."

It was a threat and an ultimatum, and despite not wanting to completely give up on changing Sara's mind about Melinda, she wasn't willing to risk losing Sara. The previous night, Catherine had seen Sara for the beautiful, damaged creature that she was. Catherine had been witness to a woman that she now desperately wanted in her life more than anyone she had wanted before. So, it was easy to agree to Sara's wishes especially since she had never met or encountered in any way the girl she would be turning her back on.

"You will have to deal with this eventually, Sara." Catherine caressed her lover's face, wanting the contact now more than anything.

"I know," Sara nodded slightly, "but it's mine to deal with."

"Okay." Catherine pulled Sara to her and held onto the woman, an action Sara hadn't really allowed before. There were so many things that still needed to be said, but Catherine wasn't willing to risk bringing anything more up. She didn't want to appear like she was nagging Sara about her life when Catherine still knew very little about the life that Sara had.

Perhaps, later when they figured out how to be in a relationship together that involved more than sex, Catherine could bring up all the things she wanted to. Only time could give the answers for what would be appropriate to mention later on, but the risk was too great now. Catherine needed Sara in her life; she had understood that much before she entered the bar to retrieve Sara. For now, Catherine knew she had to enter Sara's life under Sara's conditions and right now, Sara wanted Catherine's silence.