Warning: This chapter deals very strongly with the subject of self-harm. If this subject makes you uncomfortable, I suggest reading something else.
A/N: I truly am sorry for the lack of updates on this story guys. I've been focusing on my other Catherine/Sara story right now, so this one has been neglected and I apologize for that. But I want to thank everyone who's still been reviewing and reading and has been patient with me :) There's only going to be one or two more flashback chapters after this before the story moves back into present time. This chapter is mainly just a random little tidbit from Cath and Sara's relationship. I hope you guys enjoy it :)
As much as she hated to admit it, Sara just couldn't deny how heavenly the smell of Lily's home-baked cookies was.
After school that day, she had met up with Catherine and together they walked together to her house. This had been their daily routine now for several months, although it didn't take but a week or so before they both realized just how strong their instantaneous bond was. It started out with Sara helping Catherine with her calculus homework in study hall, then Catherine inviting her over after school to watch a movie until finally they ended up going to her house every day after school, occasionally even on weekends.
Lily had started baking cookies when Sara would come over, and despite how she didn't want to try them at first, she instantly fell in love with her own secret recipe.
So it became a tradition. Catherine and Sara would walk to the house after school with their books, sit on the carpet in the den and work on finishing homework or studying for tests, even though Sara almost always had hers done already. Some fifteen minutes later, Lily would walk in with a big plate full of fresh chocolate chip cookies and between Catherine, Sara and herself, the plate would be gone before Sara had to leave.
"That's your fifth cookie," Catherine informed Sara who was getting crumbs on her English homework.
"Mmfghhsf?" Sara tried to reply, her mouth completely full.
"Nevermind," Catherine chuckled, poking her in the ribs with her pencil. "You really like those cookies, don't you?"
Sara managed to swallow, her hand automatically reaching for another one. "Are you fucking kidding me? Can you please tell your mom that these cookies are the shit?"
"Hey, remember what I said about watching your mouth," Catherine rolled her eyes. "Obviously I didn't cement it deep enough into your brain."
"You can try, but it's not going to do you any good," Sara told her, shoving the cookies into her mouth at record speed.
"Jesus, I should think about entering you into one of those competitive eating contests," Catherine told her, watching Sara in astonishment. Despite how many times she had seen Sara devour an entire plate of her mother's cookies in mere minutes, it never ceased to amaze her how hungry she seemed to be.
"Someone was hungry!" Lily suddenly appeared with another big plate of fresh-baked cookies with Sara's name written all over them. "You don't have to scarf them down dear, there's plenty more."
Sara smiled sheepishly at Lily. "I'm sorry Miss Willows, I didn't mean to be rude, but I love your cookies. You should think about starting a bakery."
Lily chucked, setting the plate down on the coffee table between the girls. "Oh, I don't know about that. But I'm just happy there's someone around to eat all these cookies. Catherine has gone on a strict no-carb diet."
Sara immediately shot Catherine a look. "The hell is wrong with you?!"
Catherine shrugged. "I really want to lose three pounds."
"Bullshit. You should think about gaining fifteen or so."
Catherine loudly cleared her throat. "Sara, remember what I said about language."
Lily just laughed. "You two are a riot. Just don't eat too many cookies okay, Sara? You wouldn't want to spoil your dinner."
"Thank you, Miss Willows!" Sara called as she turned and walked away. "And don't worry, I wouldn't miss your baked zitti for the world!"
After Lilly had left the room, Catherine leaned in to Sara. "You know, you don't have to try so hard to make her like you," she whispered to her. "She's already nuts about you."
"Huh?" Sara asked in confusion. "What do you mean? I'm just being polite."
Catherine smirked, nodding as she got back to work on her school assignment. "Right, Sar. Whatever you say."
Sara rolled her eyes, but she didn't dwell on it. "Hey, can you pass me another cookie?"
"Jesus Christ Sara, pace yourself. You're not going to be able to eat dinner. What, do you have four stomachs?"
"Maybe," Sara grinned, holding her hand out. "Cookie please."
Catherine sighed in defeat, unable to say no to those brown puppy dog eyes. Grabbing a still warm chocolate chip cookie off the plate on the coffee table, she was about to place it in Sara's hand before she noticed the red marks covering her wrists, finally visible from under the long-sleeved shirt she had worn that day.
Dropping the cookie onto the floor, Catherine snatched Sara's arm instead, yanking it toward her.
"Hey! What the fuck, Catherine!"
Catherine slid the sleeve up over Sara's arm and her heart jerked at the sight of all the bloody cuts along her skin. They were all jagged and obscure and abstract, like Picasso had taken a razor to Sara's arm as his canvas. But Catherine's sadness was quickly replaced by anger.
"You told me you had stopped," she growled, dangerously low. Her hand was gripping Sara's wrist so tightly her knuckles were turning white.
"It was a bad night," Sara replied, her eyes narrowing when Catherine's face simply hardened. "Catherine... let go of my fucking arm. This isn't the time or place for this."
Catherine shot Sara a glare, knowing that she was just trying to get out of having this conversation and that she was praying she would just forget about it later. But this time, that wasn't going to happen.
"You're right," she instead said, getting to her feet. "Get up."
"Cath, really, don't you think--"
"I said get up, Sara. That's a goddamn order," Catherine growled, keeping her voice stern enough so that Sara would understand she wasn't joking yet quiet enough for her mother not to hear.
Sara glared back at Catherine just as hard as she was glaring at her, but she complied, pushing herself to her feet in a huff. Although she had folded her arms across her chest, Catherine had grabbed ahold of her elbow and was dragging her up the stairs.
"We're going upstairs, Mom!" Catherine called over her shoulder for her mother's benefit. "Just be a sec!"
"Okay, you two!" Lilly called back. "Dinner's almost ready! Don't be too long!"
Once up the stairs, Catherine pulled Sara in front of her and shoved her toward the bathroom, making sure to stay behind her so she couldn't run away. Once she was inside, she flicked the light switch on and slammed the door, locking it behind them.
After opening several cabinets and drawers, Catherine found the first-aid kit and set it down on the counter. "Give me your arm," she ordered Sara.
"I'm not doing a damn thing. I didn't come to your place so you could lecture me," Sara shot back in defiance.
"I don't care why you came to my house! You're in my house, so you follow my rules! Now give. Me. Your. Arm."
"You're not fucking touching me with that shit, Cath, so you can just forget it."
Quickly losing patience, Catherine grabbed Sara's arm and rolled her sleeve all the way up to her shoulder, her eyes blazing in anger when the angry red marks on her skin stopped just at her collar bone. Sara had promised her she was going to stop hurting herself, not make it worse.
"Stay still," Catherine growled, grabbing a gauze and dipping it into a small bottle of rubbing alcohol. "Stop wiggling! I'm going to clean them no matter what, so you may as well stay still and let me get it over with!"
"Are you dumb? I didn't fucking cut my arms for you to come along and play Nurse and make them better."
Catherine swiftly slapped Sara across the face, the sound of the smack ringing in her ears. Although she felt badly for hitting her, she was also furious at Sara for continuing to hurt herself.
Sara slowly turned to look back at Catherine, her eyes wide in shock, her cheek stinging and turning red from the force of her slap. Stunned from the act, she didn't fight with Catherine when she pushed her down onto the toilet seat and began to clean the cuts on her arms.
Several bloodied pieces of gauze later, Catherine sighed, looking up at Sara from her place on the carpet. "Look... I'm sorry for hitting you, alright? I really am. And I know it was a stupid idea, especially given everything you've grown up around."
She didn't get a reply, only two brown eyes staring down at her, waiting for her to further explain herself.
"But sometimes you're just so damn infuriating, you know? I mean you don't listen to me, Sara. I told you not to hurt yourself anymore, and what do you do? You slice your arm up almost to the bone."
"I said last night was bad, okay?" Sara suddenly snapped. "What did you expect me to do? Just try and fall asleep to the soothing sounds of my asshole father smacking around my mother? It's a release."
"Of course I didn't expect you to do that," Catherine replied, her voice just as harsh. "But you could've called me. I told you to do that whenever you got like that, Sara! Did I not say those exact words the last time this happened?" She didn't wait for a reply. "I said that whenever you felt the desire to cut, to call me! Whenever you felt like it, thought about it, you call me!"
Sara suddenly didn't have a retort to that. Staring down at the floor, she tried to mask the burning sense of guilt she was feeling by not acknowledging it.
"Look at me," Catherine told her, her voice much softer this time. When Sara didn't, she gently placed a finger underneath her chin and forced her to make eye contact with her. "Look at me, Sar."
Sara hesitantly made eye contact with Catherine, dreading the look of disappointment she was sure she would be met with.
"I love you," Catherine whispered. "And I don't like to see you like this. This..." she motioned to her arm. "This... hurts me, Sara. This sort of thing kills me. I can't stand to see you hurting yourself like this, and it hurts me, too. I know that things aren't easy for you, but you have other options. Instead of dragging something sharp against your skin, you can call me. You can come to my house. You can crawl in bed with me and talk to me. You don't have to bleed to cope with it." She paused a minute to allow her words to sink in, wondering if she was getting through to Sara. "Can do you that for me?"
Sara instantly broke down in sobs, lunging forward off the toilet seat to wrap both arms tightly around Catherine's neck. She felt two arms wrap around her waist and her sobs grew louder and came faster.
"Shh, it's okay," Catherine whispered, gently rubbing up and down her back. "It's okay, Sara..."
"I'm so sorry, Cath," Sara sobbed into the crook of her neck. "I'm so sorry for hurting you. I didn't mean to. I-I never wanted to hurt you..."
"Shh, I know, Sara," Catherine whispered. "And it's okay, baby. I know you didn't mean to hurt me. And I forgive you. I just don't like seeing you do this to yourself, because I care about you."
"I know," Sara choked out, nodding her head. "I know you do. It's j-just so hard to stop. I hate myself... Jesus Christ, I hate myself more and more every time I drag that razor across my skin, but I can't stop, Cath. I just can't stop!"
"Shh, don't say that," Catherine whispered. "Yes you can. You can stop, Sara. And I'm going to help you."
"I'll do whatever it takes," Sara sniffled, pulling away from Catherine for the briefest of moments. "I don't want to do anything to hurt you ever again."
Catherine smiled at that, wiping the tears away from Sara's eyes. Tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, she said, "I'm very glad to hear that."