Title: Problem Girl

Rating: T (rating may change in later chapters)

Summary: When they all make you feel like you're a problem girl, remember-- you're no problem at all.

Disclaimer: I own nothing as usual, blah blah. CBS, Anthony Zuiker, Jerry Bruckheimer and some other important people that are not me own CSI: and all of it's properties and affiliates. I also don't own the song "Problem Girl" by Rob Thomas.

Author's Notes: This an an AU fic I wanted to try and write after listening to one of my favorite Rob Thomas songs, "Problem Girl". Music is often a huge inspiration, and I thought the song fit the character Sara Sidle perfectly in the eyes of Catherine Willows. This story takes place in the midst of Catherine and Sara's relationship; they're both teenagers and about the same age (hence the AU). I'm going to go into more detail in later chapters about how they met :) Hope you guys enjoy it!

Nursing a black eye she frantically ran to the bedroom and closed the door, wisely locking it behind her to sheild herself from the booming voices outside the door in the hallway. Her hands were shaking but she managed to pick up the receiver of the phone and dial in the correct numbers of the only person she thought to call. The only person who could help her.

It took a few rings, but there came an answer from the other line followed by a tired-sounding yawn, "Hello?"

"Cath, it's me. I--"

"Sara?" Catherine asked, sitting upright in bed and turning the lamp on that was sitting on the bedside table. "It's two in the morning," she explained, squinting to see the clock positioned on the wall. "What's going on?"

"Cath, I... I can't stay here," Sara told her. "They got into it again, and I tried to make them stop, but I couldn't. I just... I can't stay here!"

"Okay, okay, calm down," Catherine told her, "What happened? Are you hurt?"

"I... I'm bleeding. I think."

"You think you're bleeding? Jesus, Sara that's a big deal!" Just as she finished she heard a loud crash from the other line. "Sara? Are you okay?"

"I'm jumping through my bedroom window," Sara told her, already putting her jacket on with much difficulty. "They won't even notice I'm gone, but I can't stay here anymore."

"Hang on, give me five minutes," Catherine told her, remembering to keep her voice down so as not to wake her mother as she got out of bed and started looking around for clothes. "I'm going to come get you. Can you meet at the end of the block?"

"Y-Yeah, just hurry!"

After hanging the phone up Catherine grabbed the pair of jeans she had worn that day and a shirt that was lying in some desolate corner of her room before carefully slipping out of her bedroom down the hallway to the kitchen to get the keys to her mother's car. It was rare that Sara ever called her home, she knew that Sara's parents didn't really trust her with anything, certainly not a phone, but when she did, she knew it was because it was urgent.

It was no mystery that Sara's parents were messed up. Catherine wanted nothing more than to beat the living daylights out of them herself and see how they liked it. When Catherine had met Sara, it had been an accident. She had never really noticed her, but one day when a fight broke out in the hallways at the high school she broke it up. She was class president, and it was one of her many duties to maintain the hallways' sanity. She had been surprised when she had seen Sara in the middle of it, fists up and nose bloody.

Sara always had thought she was the problem girl; messed up family, no social skills, poster-child for anger management. But she always got good grades, the best in her class as a matter of fact, and Catherine knew the only reason Sara put on her daily "I'm going to kick your ass if you look at me funny" persona was because it was her coping mechanism. Inside she was the most wonderful person Catherine had ever known, and she was only sixteen. Every night she went to that hellhole called a home and had to see her parents, both of whom were never supportive and almost always intoxicated or doped-up.

As she pulled up to the end of the block next to the stop sign, Catherine saw Sara just a short distance away, wrapped in her ratty old leather jacket she wore almost everyday. She was hiding in the shadows of the bushes, no doubt so that her parents wouldn't be able to see her from the house if they even noticed she was missing. "Sara?" she asked, parking the car and opening her door up.

Sara stumbled toward her as best she could, and she could see that she was shaking despite her bulky jacket. She felt sick and disoriented; she couldn't remember what had happened exactly even though it had just happened. She remembered her father coming home, her mother saying some smart retort to him drinking again and then she felt a stinging sensation in her head. That was about it. The rest was all too fuzzy.

"Sara, whoa, slow down," Catherine told her, catching her just as she was about to fall over onto the dew-stained grass. "Here... I've got you." Wrapping one arm under her shoulders and keeping the other on her back to help steady her, Catherine slowly led Sara back to her waiting car, opening the passenger's side door up for her.

"I feel sorry for you..." Sara murmured as Catherine helped her inside.

"Why is that?" Catherine asked, puzzled. She thought it was the other way around.

"Because you're the one who has to drive this piece of crap around all day long and act like it's cool," Sara told her, some sort of smirk crossing her face before it contorted into a grimace of pain.

Catherine tried to laugh despite the circumstances. "Watch it, Sidle. One day, this could be your car." After Sara was situated, she closed the door and jogged around to the driver's side, getting in and turning the key in the ignition. In a matter of moments they were speeding out of Sara's neighborhood.

For a few minutes there was only silence. Sara was staring blankly out the window at unsignificant things; trees, bushes, a candy wrapper on the ground that missed the trash can, a newspaper dispenser. She was avoiding conversation so as not to aggravate the pounding in her head. Silence worried Catherine almost more than anything, because silence always meant something was wrong. But how could there not be, she thought?

Pulling the car over to the side of the road when they were a few miles away, Catherine pulled the key from the ignition and threw a glance over at Sara, who was still staring out the window. "Do you want to talk about it?" she quietly asked.

Sara slowly shook her head. Catherine wasn't surprised. She never wanted to talk. "Are you hurt?" she then asked. "You said you thought you were bleeding."

Sara finally looked away from the window to meet the strawberry blonde's gaze, and Catherine caught a glimpse of a mottle of purple and blue Sara had tried to hide underneath a patch of brown hair. "Can I see?" Catherine asked her, motioning to her own eye for indication. Sara simply nodded.

As gently as possible, Catherine leaned forward and tried to brush the hair away from Sara's face to see the extent of the bruises. Once she saw her black eye she gasped. "Sara..." Then she noticed the drying blood on the side of her face ending just under her cheekbone and her eyes followed it, almost afraid to find out where it was coming from. She didn't have to look hard before her eyes latched onto the cut on the side of her head above her ear. "Jesus Christ Sara what did they do to you!" Catherine exclaimed.

"I... I..." Sara could feel the tears stinging at her eyes and she tried to fight them back before they fell, but she didn't succeed. "I... I..." It was all she could really say.

"Oh Sara," Catherine whispered, putting a gentle hand on her shoulder. Sara gave in and let her tears overtake her, welcoming Catherine's warm and friendly embrace as she buried herself pitifully against her chest to sheild herself from the rest of the world. "Honey it's okay..." Sara always smiled when she called her 'honey'. Catherine was a year older than Sara, and it always made her feel like she was talking to her big sister when she called her that. But under these conditions, it never had the same context.

"I shouldn't have gotten involved," Sara whispered, shaking as Catherine tried to soothe her by running a hand up and down her back. "I should've stayed out of it! Why am I always so stupid?" Underneath that rock-solid barrier, her only defense against all the horrors of the real world lied her very foundation, the very mold that made Sara Sidle who she was. She tried to act tough, but she was fragile and broken. Catherine had vowed to try and pick up the pieces and put her back together again, to undo the damage that had already been done.

"Sara, it wasn't your fault this happened," Catherine whispered. "It never was. Trying to stop your father from hurting your mother does not make you a bad person." After a few more minutes of soothing her, Catherine finally asked, "What happened?"

"Dad... Dad was drinking again," Sara tried to say between tears. She was still crying, but she could now form a coherent sentence without falling apart again. "Surprise, surprise right?" she laughed weakly. Catherine didn't laugh, she simply tried to mask the look of anger on her face. "I don't know, my mom must've said something... but it pissed him off. I heard her scream, and..." she choked back the sob that was rising in her throat again. "I came in and he was hitting her, and I tried to make him stop but..."

"What?" Catherine prompted, holding Sara as tightly as she was holding her.

"You... you know that small figurine on the mantlepiece that belonged to my grandfather?" Sara whispered. She hoped Catherine wouldn't hear her, but she heard her perfectly.

"...Which one?" Catherine nervously asked. "The soldier? Or the moose?" She already knew the answer to her question, and it made her hurt just thinking about it. The soldier had a miniature-sized bayonet, and the genius that had designed the damn thing made the tip of it razor sharp. She knew because she had bumped into it one day. When Sara looked up at her Catherine let out a sigh, gazing up at her wound. "The son of a bitch. I swear to God Sara, I'm not going to let him keep hurting you. I'm not just going to stand to the sidelines and act like nothing's going on anymore."

"What?" Sara's eyes widened in astonishment. One of their agreements when they had first met and gotten to talking was that everything that was said between them, stayed between them. She knew Catherine wanted to bite her father's head off but she promised not to interfere. Sara had convinced her it would only make things worse. CPS was not an alternative way of living. It was suicide. She would never survive in the system. "Cath, you said--"

"I know what I said Sara," Catherine growled. She wasn't angry at Sara; she could never be angry at Sara. She was seething with anger and hatred toward her parents. She hated them more than she ever thought humanly possible to hate someone. "You won't have to go into CPS, you can stay with me! But I can't just not do anything anymore!"

"Catherine, forget it, it's not your problem!" Sara told her, breaking out of her protective embrace with wide eyes.

"Yes it is, Sara!" Catherine countered. "You're my girlfriend, therefore it makes it my problem!"

"Don't use that defense against me! I--" Sara was cut off by the sensation of Catherine's lips pressed against her own after she had lunged forward into the passenger's seat. She tried to protest but each time she opened her mouth to speak Catherine simply took advantage of the opportunity that had arisen and cut her off with her tongue. Seventeen and she had the most skilled tongue of anyone Sara had ever seen.

When Catherine finally pulled away from the kiss leaving Sara breathless, she tenderly looked into her eyes and brushed a gentle hand against the bruise forming around her eye. "I love you, Sara," she whispered. "Let me help you."

The tender look in her eyes, the sense of caring in her voice, the protectiveness in her tone- it all made Sara's eyes tear up again. She didn't know what she had done to deserve Catherine, but she wouldn't give her up for anything in the world. And that was why letting her help her was such a big decision. She didn't want Catherine to get hurt because of her, and her parents had no problem smacking her around as well.

"Sara, look at me," Catherine told her, watching her mind wander. "I know what I'm doing. I am not going to get hurt."

"How do you know?" Sara whispered in disbelief. "How do you know that for sure? Cath, look at me... I don't want this to be you!"

"It's not going to be, Sara," Catherine explained. "You just have to trust me. You trust me, don't you?"

Sara opened her mouth to argue further, but no sound came out. She couldn't argue further, because she did trust Catherine. She trusted her more than she had ever trusted someone before. She had given Catherine her virginity. "...Cath, I swear if you get hurt, I'm never talking to you again." It was the most threatening thing she could think of.

Catherine let out a sigh of relief, shooting Sara a small smile. "Well that won't be happening anytime soon, so don't worry about it. Besides, you couldn't go one day without talking to me." Sara finally shot her her signature glare that made them both laugh. "Come on, I'm taking you to my place," Catherine told her, putting the car back in drive. "My mother can sleep through a thunderstorm, so it'll be fine."

"Thank you, Cat," Sara whispered, leaning over and resting her head on her shoulder.

"Don't worry about it, Sara," Catherine softly told her, planting a small kiss on the top of her head, inspecting the gash on her head as she did so. "But let's get out of here."

TBC