Disclaimer: I do not own CSI.

AN: Random real life happenings and certain health issues have prevented me from writing for a while... hopefully this means I'm back, but who knows.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?"

"Cat, I—"

"You what? You thought you'd be long gone by the time I got home?"

"No! I just… I told you Cat, I can't stay here."

Catherine shook her head and wiped away the tears of fury that were forming in her eyes at her lover's broken tone. How dare she… Taking a deep breath, Catherine tried to reign in her temper. She tried to remember why she had broken so many traffic laws racing home.

"You didn't tell me anything, Sara," she said softly, allowing the love she felt for this incredibly frustrating woman to temporarily displace her anger. "You left it all in a letter. A letter you hid so damn well that I didn't even notice it until I tripped over my chair and nearly cracked my skull open on the desk!"

Sara looked away from the duffel she was stuffing full of clothes to stare at the wall just above Catherine's right shoulder. She opened her mouth to say something, but Catherine beat her to it. She marched over to where Sara was sitting and gripped the stubborn woman's face in her hands.

"At least have the decency to look at me."

"Catherine… I need to leave. I've been falling apart since that night in the desert, and… I…" Sara closed her eyes and tilted her head down as much as Catherine's hands would allow.

Catherine wasn't sure if she should laugh or cry. She had never wanted to slap Sara so badly. "What was it you said in your letter? Something about self-destructing?"

Sara nodded slowly, leaving Catherine to stare at her in disbelief. The older woman leaned back and released her grip on Sara's face.

They both stayed quiet for several minutes, neither moving an inch.

Then Catherine stood up and slapped Sara.

The pain in her palm faded quickly, and it was beyond tempting to hit her lover again. Instead, she picked up the duffel Sara had been packing and threw it on the bed.

Catherine turned back to Sara and crossed her arms. "You've been falling apart since Natalie trapped you under that car, huh? Gee, do you think that has anything to do with the amount of time you've spent staring at dead bodies? What the fuck did you think would happen when you started spending every waking moment at the lab!"

Running both her hands through her hair, Catherine paced around the room, ignoring the dull ache that was returning to her left hand. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw tears beginning to fall down Sara's cheeks, and her anger melted away.

"You don't need to leave Vegas, Sara. You need to stop letting the job consume you. And you need to let go of your pride and accept that I'll see you in pain; I plan on sticking around for a long time."

Catherine knelt down in front of Sara and brushed the tears away from her lover's face. "Sweetheart, look at me."

Sara looked up and met Catherine's eyes. The love there warmed both their hearts, and Catherine smiled weakly and wrapped her arms around her.

"I won't let you fall apart, Sara. I promise. I love you."