Disclaimer: I do not own CSI.

AN: There are so many reasons why this should have stayed unwritten, but I've been sick, and my willpower sort of died with my energy.


I am so sorry.

She doesn't think anyone knows about the second letter she left. At least, that's what she hopes. The logical part of her brain just happens to agree with her. Things between them had always been private.

Not the sort of privacy she and Gil had had—not the secrecy that had always made her feel half ashamed of their relationship. No… the two were definitely not the same.

They had always fought out in the open. Looking back, she thinks that it was probably the way they balanced it: thunderous hostility complementing silent intimacy. …It had worked for them. They were too good at saying the wrong things to each other—the silence had been needed to make things work.

Eventually, they might have been able to do the whole conversation thing properly, and not just depend on comforting looks and touches, but it was too late for that.

She thinks about the first letter she wrote, and how writing it should have been more painful. She's pretty sure she knows why it wasn't. If she had kissed Gil before she wrote it, she knows the letter would have been much different.

…She knew that before she did either. She wonders if that qualifies as lying. It probably does; she wrote the truth just minutes before she knew it wouldn't be the truth anymore.

She had been in love with Gil; she's sure of that. She's just as sure that they both deserved more. It had always been in the back of her mind—almost since the day she fell in love with him.

Her past ghosts had kept it there. There, with all the unpleasant shadows of her heart. That's where it all stayed.

Lying under the car, she hadn't been able to move. She hadn't been able to run. Her demons finally caught up with her. Along with everything else.

Denial had worked for her. She had hung onto it for as long as she could. And then it had vanished. Not all at once, even though that was how it felt. Watching the paramedics trying to remove the knife from the woman's back… the denial was gone. Bitter acceptance replaced it. She finally allowed the full thought to voice itself.

One day, maybe after years of being happily married to Gil, she would have started to hate him. The feeling would have been mutual—she's pretty sure of that. She saw the light in his eyes when he talked about Lady Heather. She had seen that light, and oddly enough, it hadn't made her jealous.

It was one more thing that she kept under lock and key for years. She and Gil loved each other, but whatever true flame of passion had once been there had long gone out.

…Maybe one day hadn't been so far off. She had already started longing for that passion. She thinks that maybe Gil felt that longing, too. They just hadn't known what to do about it. Their relationship made them happy—happier than either of them had been in a long time. Abandoning that just because they weren't passionate about each other… it hadn't been enough of a reason.

She thinks back to what had been in the process of becoming an extremely good reason and feels like crying.

They had always had an odd way of communicating. Unlike with Gil, it wasn't because they felt awkward about it. It had been because that was how their relationship worked.

Every time they fought, she had almost felt like laughing. Their words had very rarely meant something. Sometimes the words could hurt, but as far as their relationship was concerned, it meant little beyond letting them know that it wasn't their best form of communication. The affectionate glances in between the next day's sniping were what mattered.

She misses it horribly. It hadn't quite been love, but she misses it more than she misses Gil. …She wishes she had written the first letter after she had kissed him and finally felt how empty the lack of passion made her feel.

She remembers writing the second letter vividly, and thinks that she at least did something right with that. If it hadn't been second, it would have been the only letter she wrote.

She looks out at the ocean, watching as the sun sets. It almost looks like the water's on fire.

She could still feel the heat burning her body as she walked through the desert. There had been nothing there but sand. She likes the ocean better.

She digs her nails into the palms of her hand, wondering why she does this to herself.

She already knows why, though. The ocean reminds her of Catherine, especially at times like now, when it looks like it's on fire. …The ocean's the exact same color as Catherine's eyes.

When the sky finally goes dark, she walks away, following her footprints back to her car. She's done this every day since she's left Vegas. And every night, as she lies awake in her new apartment, she thinks about how glad she is that she found the strength to write the second letter.

She truly is sorry: with all of her heart, she wanted to able say goodbye to Catherine. She wanted to give Catherine the same sort of letter she had left Gil. But she hadn't been able to.

One horribly inadequate sentiment. That was all she had managed before she felt her heart begin to break. Four unbelievably pathetic words. She hates herself for not being able to do better.

…She hopes desperately that Catherine doesn't hate her for it, too.