Disclaimer: Not mine.
Author's Notes: I've been writing a lot of unfinished Cath/Sara fic lately, mostly all in the second person and from Sara's POV. I just couldn't get anything to work. So, I sat down and decided to cut and paste all of these unfinished fics and tie 'em together. Coupled with a different angle concerning Sara's family history and you've got this. I don't have a real outline for this and I don't really know where it's going or if it will end or whatever, but I want to give it a try. Hope you enjoy my latest foray into the Cath/Sara realm.
Summary: A looney brother, a freak accident and a fortuitous love. It was bound to drive you a little crazy, right[Slight spoilers for Committed, Nesting Dolls; Cath/Sara femmeslash
You often wonder what categorizes someone as 'crazy'.
What you've done in life, the things you have said to others could very well justify you as a crazy person. Still, there are different kinds of crazy and it's fairly important that one understands the differences between each kind.
There's the 'mentally insane' crazy. The kind you don't like to think about. The kind that reminds you of home. The kind that nearly got you killed a week ago. That kind of crazy is dangerous.
There's the 'lack of sleep, slowly losing your faculties' crazy. You think you fall somewhere along there. You don't sleep very well. Each day, your mind finds new ways in which to torment you.
Then of course, there's the 'environmental' crazy. Where you live, where you work, the people you work with; they all somehow factor into your craziness. It's the kind of crazy that constantly makes you wonder, are they all out to get me?
You glance up to find Catherine standing there in the doorway of the breakroom. She's wearing a very amused smirk, eyes twinkling in an irritating fashion. After a few more seconds pass, that classic simper has grown into a full blown grin. A grin that you're certainly not in the mood for. What the hell is so funny, anyway? Considering where your relationship stands at this point, you don't find one damn thing funny.
You have to admit, however, she has been making strives for a truce. They are half-ass attempts, but attempts nonetheless and you could at least applaud her for that. Even still, you're not willing to meet halfway yet, so she will just have to keep trying or eventually give up. You would prefer the latter.
You fail in giving any kind of audible acknowledgment of her presence, your usual tactic. You hope that maybe ignoring her will make her disappear. You're never so lucky.
"How long have you been at the lab? Fourteen hours? Sixteen?" Catherine asks you, still highly amused by something near or around you. Maybe she is laughing at you.
"Uh, yeah. About that much. Why?" you reply, still trying to figure out what's so damn funny.
"Go home and sleep. One, you look like the living dead," she points out unmercifully, to which you answer with a heavy sigh. Then she adds smartly, "Two, you're stirring your coffee with a pencil."
You look down at your cup of coffee. Your cheeks flush with embarrassment as you notice the yellow stick swirling around in your hot beverage. You quickly fish that pencil out of there and set the coffee aside. You groan mostly to yourself. "Maybe I do need some sleep."
Catherine chuckles as she makes her way over to the coffee machine. You're silent for a moment before she asks, "Would you like me to make you a new cup, minus the graphite?"
"Sure," you say indifferently. Your original cup of coffee had merely served as a diversion anyway. Stirring the dark liquid as a means to keep your mind off other things. You hadn't really planned on drinking it, but considering you had a pencil in it, you're really glad you didn't drink it.
A new, fresh cup is set in front of you in no time.
"No cream and two packs of sugar," Catherine announces somewhat proudly. You give her a curious look, wondering how she knows what you put in your coffee. She seems to catch your confusion and supplies the answer. "We've made coffee together in the same breakroom for the last five years. As an investigator, you tend to pick up on these things whether you want to or not."
You have this nagging urge to tease her. Sure, you've worked together for five years, but let's face facts. You're just as observant as Catherine and needless to say, you have no idea what she puts in her coffee everyday. And now that your curiosity is peaked, you watch her dump in about a teaspoon of cream and one pack of sugar. You'll have to log that away somewhere for future reference.
Your eyes catch each others in a moment of diluted silence. She flashes that quirky smile at you and winks. For the first time in days, you smile. You actually smile and it feels good.
It's that motherly side of Catherine, the side that you forget exists somewhere underneath that hardened exterior. Despite her bitchy tendencies, you find yourself immensely enjoying her spastic moments of maternalistic care and solace. It's something that's been lacking in your life for a very long time.
You realize you're still smiling into your mug and immediately stop. She doesn't need to see that you're getting back to normal. You're still angry at her, damn it. She doesn't need to see that she's wormed her way back into your good graces simply by mixing up your coffee just right. Oh, and trust. . .it's perfect.
"Are we friends again?" she asks. Good grief, she's reading your mind now.
"Were we friends before?" you jest, unable to keep from smiling.
"Good point," she concedes, her smile two-fold. She sips her coffee, then yanks the cup back quickly. She spills some on the table and curses, "Damn it."
"Too hot?" you ask, reaching for a napkin almost immediately. It's only when your hand brushes hers, do you realize you both had the same thought. Catherine clearly beat you to the napkin by about two milliseconds, but her hand still lingers. She doesn't move. Your hand is still hovering over hers and you wonder why you haven't pulled back yet.
The tip of her finger barely grazes your palm (whether it's accidental, you're unsure) and your hand snaps back like it's been burned.
"I have it, thanks," she says quietly, finally grabbing the flimsy sheet of paper and wiping up the table. She's dutifully trying to avoid your eyes, your face. Something happened there. Something shifted. You went from mildly annoyed to amicably comfortable to strangely displaced, all in the span of a few minutes. Something shifted. Catherine just did something to you.
Or maybe you did just something to her. She's different. She's not looking at you.
You clear your throat. "Catherine?"
"Hmm?" She looks up at you again. She seems normal now, her eyes connecting with yours and there's not a shred of discomfort in her gaze. The spilled coffee, her accidental touch is suddenly a distant memory.
You force a smile and just shake your head. "Never mind."
Her brow crinkles a bit as she squints ever so slightly at you. Now you take your turn to avoid her eyes. There are moments you think Catherine sees you differently. That she sees you as more than just who you are, but those moments happen so quickly, so innocently, you have to wonder if your imagination is just running wild.
On a good day, Catherine is just your co-worker and nothing more. You two fight on occasion, disagree about things, but oddly you find you don't mind that so much. There is something enjoyable, something comfortable about quarreling with Catherine. On the other hand, you find that your differences are the only things that bind you together and you'd like to think there's something else going on here. There has to be something else that connects you to Catherine aside from a difference of opinion on the job.
After five years, you'd like to think there's something more.
"Sara," she says, her voice almost shy.
When you look up, you're back in that moment. The moment you think Catherine sees you as more than just who you are. You feign awkwardness, giving her a tentative smile. "What?"
"I do think it's important that we get along," she says, her smile timid.
"Okay," you say, not sure what else to say. You feel a little out of place right now. You set your coffee mug down.
Now Catherine's expression is that of classic irritation. "That's it? All you got for me is an 'okay'?"
You go to say something, but like you said, you're not sure what else to say. So your mouth opens, then closes like a fish gasping for water.
Catherine leans back in her chair, looking at you askance. "I swear, talking to you is like talking to Grissom. Sometimes it's scary how much you two are alike."
You cough at that statement. You and Grissom alike? Sure, maybe in some ways. You'd like to think you're more eloquent than him, though. Right now, though, eloquence abandons you.
"I'm sorry, Catherine. I just don't know what you want me to say."
"At this point, I'll accept a prediction for when you think hell will freeze over," Catherine retorts.
"Five years, two days and eighteen hours from now," you reply smartly. There really is something enjoyable about quarreling with Catherine. It's what binds you together.
"Okay, smartass. I've been trying to apologize for the last three weeks now," Catherine says, clearly angry now. "I was advised by our mutual boss that it might be a good idea, that we work better when we're not fighting. You're not helping."
You shake your head. "Cath, you've done everything but say 'I'm sorry'. If you really want to apologize to me, then just do it already."
"You know what? How about I apologize to you in about five years, two days and eighteen hours from now," Catherine practically growls at you.
Or in other words, when hell freezes over.
Catherine stands up to leave, but she doesn't go anywhere, much to your surprise. You watch her slowly fall back down into her chair. She looks exhausted, defeated. You raise an eyebrow curiously, not sure what's going on now. Usually after a verbal spat, one of you walks away. She's not walking away.
"Sara, I'll be honest with you. I really think you should apologize to me," Catherine says. Before you can disagree, she raises a hand up to silence you. "Look, I know you don't see it that way, but you hurt me just as much as you think I hurt you. Okay? What you said hurt me."
You didn't want to hurt her. Well, maybe at the time you wanted to hurt her, you wanted someone else to be hurting just as much as you were hurting. Still, deep down, you didn't want to hurt her.
"Probably didn't help that I shouted out my misgivings for the whole lab to hear," you acknowledge reluctantly.
"I wish I had the forethought to pull you into my office, approach you as a friend and not as a supervisor," Catherine sighs. "Might've prevented your suspension."
There's that word again. Friend. You find it hard to believe you and Catherine have ever been friends. Maybe you are, you just didn't notice? Or you didn't care to think beyond the world of co-workers.
You and Catherine are fine just the way you are, you think. To be friends, there would have to be something else there. A something you haven't been able to find. To be friends, you'd have to do more than fight with her. Again, the fights are oddly gratifying. The question is, do you really ever want to venture into the realm of friends with Catherine?
"Sara, for once, could you say something? Anything?" Catherine pleads.
It's only now you realize you haven't spoken in quite a while. She practically wished aloud that things had gone down differently and here you are over thinking the word 'friend' and what that would mean for you and Catherine. You and Catherine. Friends.
It seems she would like to. She would like to be your friend. Or maybe she's just really tired of arguing and trying for a friendship of sorts is the only means in which to reach that goal. You don't really know her motives, but you do know she's trying.
You grudgingly admit that maybe you're being the stubborn one this time. Catherine really is trying for a truce here. Maybe it's about time you met halfway.
"Jesus, Sara. Forget I came in here," Catherine sighs, throwing up a hand in defeat. You really need to work on this speaking up thing.
"Cath, wait," you say finally. This stops her before she walks out. "Sit back down? Please?"
Catherine sits and waits with an expectant look. You sigh. Here goes nothing.
You lean forward and say, "Catherine, I'm a lot of things. I can be selfish, angry, resentful, but none of those things gave me just cause to say what I said. I'm . . ."
Greg's voice snaps both your attention to the doorway. Damn that boy and his timing. He nods his head toward the receptionist desk and tells you, "You've got a call. The woman on the other end says it's urgent."
A phone call? Aside from your co-workers, you don't have very many people in your address book who would take the time to call you. You look at Catherine apologetically, but she waves at you to go.
"Sara?" she calls out to you, just before you exit the breakroom.
"Hmm?" you look back at her, lingering in the doorway.
Her expression is sympathetic as she says, "Maybe someday you'll tell me why."
"Why you're angry."
Your lips naturally purse together, as you take a brief moment to consider her offer. Catherine really wants things to be okay between the two of you.
"Yeah, maybe," you tell her and the relief that flashes in her eyes leaves you feeling content. Things with her will be okay. Maybe you can consider this a new beginning.
Reaching the desk, you see Warrick and Nick down the hall reading a report of some kind. They're a little too close for comfort, but privacy is a hard thing to come by in this lab. Glass walls, open doorways, nosy labrats. You'll have to try and keep this call short, sweet and discreet.
Judy smiles when you reach for the phone already sitting out and waiting. "Line 2," she says.
"Thanks," you mutter, picking it up. "Hello?"
"Miss Sara Sidle?" a woman with a gruff voice greets you. She sounds irritated and mean. You frown. You don't like mean people.
"Yes, I'm Sara. Who is this?" you say, already bored with this conversation. Must be some kind of confirmation on a case from the DA's office or something.
"I'm Susan Gilbert with Child Services. A man walked in here yesterday evening claiming to have a sister named Sara working for the police," Susan tells you. "You're the only Sidle working with law enforcement in this city."
Your heart had already clamped shut at the sound of 'child services'. Processing the words 'man' and 'sister' and their meaning in your own life have effectively shut down all motor skills.
Damn, damn, damn. Not good. Not good at all.
You clear your throat again, noticing Catherine has joined Warrick and Nick. Her curious eyes are traveling down the hall toward you. You weakly smile at her.
Right, that was brilliant. As if you smiling at her will really put her at ease. That'll only signal that something is really, really wrong. You never smile at her.
"His...uh, his name?" you ask quietly. Judy is also looking at you from behind her desk. Good grief, no privacy in this place!
"Paul Sidle," Susan answers. Yep, it's Paul.
"Is he okay?"
"He's fine. Now, Miss Sidle. You're his only family in the area and we can't keep him here. You'll have to pick him up."
Your eyes widen. "I can't!"
Now you see Catherine out of the corner of your eye. She's moving closer. Damn it.
"Oh, you will take him, trust me. If I have to drive him over to your place myself, you'll take him," Susan promises. "We're overworked as it is and babysitting is not listed as one of the job requirements. It's plainly obvious he's been looking for you."
You rub your eyes, then see Catherine trying ever so hard to approach you without being invasive. You turn your back to her and say as softly as you can, "Paul is a grown man, Ms. Gilbert. He can take care of himself. Just give him a little bus money and he'll leave. He always does."
Susan sighs that time. Her voice seems to soften as she nearly whispers, "Sara, I'm sure you must know of Paul's. . .condition. I'd feel much better if you picked him up."
The way Susan says 'Paul's condition' makes you want to reach through the phone and slap her. As if Paul is diseased or something. Your readily need to protect Paul, however, only proves that you still have a soft spot for him. He is your brother.
You slump against the receptionist desk and shut your eyes tightly. Of all the freaking times for your brother to disrupt your life, it had to be now.
"Sara? I need an answer."
You sigh heavily into the phone, then say, "Fine. I'll get him. Give me an hour."
You drop the phone and stand straight again. That didn't happen. Just stand here for a minute, yeah. In a minute, you'll realize this is all a dream.
"Sara? Everything alright?"
Not a dream. Definitely not a dream. You turn to Catherine, stupidly plastering that smile back on your face again. "Great, just great. I think I will go home, though. You were right. I've been here too long. I need sleep."
Catherine gives you a funny look. "Sara? You feeling okay? I think you just told me I was right."
"I did?" you ask, then gesture with your hands in a flighty manner. "I did. I did. Look, I have to go. Everything's fine."
Whatever Catherine said next, you did not hear. You simply brush past her quickly, round a corner and kick the first thing you see. It's a trash can. The trash goes everywhere.
Okay. Release of your frustration in a physical manner taken care of. Now if you could only start digging out your brain with a spork through your ear, that would take care of all the mental problems
you'll be sure to endure before the day is out.
"Uh, Sara? You gonna clean that up?" Nick asks. You ignore him and storm into the locker room.
You throw open your locker and grab your things. You're still upset.
For crying out loud, Paul! Why now?
You need to get over there, you realize. You have to get there as soon as possible. You have to fix things and get your life back on track. He can't be here. He just can't be here! He has to go back home.
"What?" you reply curtly, whirling around as you slide your jacket on.
Catherine stiffens a bit. "Are you sure everything is okay?"
Something about Catherine's posture, her voice gives you reason to pause. You've never really known her to be disquieted, reserved. Especially not around you. She's watching you intently, her hand fidgeting with the hem of her blouse.
"Sara, you're scaring me a little," Catherine tries to joke.
"I just have to take care of something," you answer, feeling a bit calmer now than before. You weakly smile, "I didn't mean to . . ., uh. . .."
"Hey, don't worry about it," Catherine shrugs it off. She backs out of the doorway. "Just take care of yourself."
She's gone before you can reply.
If you didn't know any better, you might say that Catherine was really concerned just then.
Damn it. Okay, time to get it together. If you've broken Catherine with your erratic behavior, that means you've gone too far. Don't lose it now. Your suspension merely added flame to the fiery hearsay surrounding you. Don't give your friends reason to believe that you're crazy. You're not crazy.
You're just a tad unstable.
Now your brother? He's the crazy one. He's crazy and you're about to pick him up and bring him into your home. You're going to bring him back into your life.
Hm. Maybe you are the crazy one.
To be continued. . .