A/N: I honestly didn't think I'd make it even this far in the post-episode series, but you guys inspire me and keep me wanting to write! We've reached the end of season three... look out for season four's story, "A Blind Eye" to be started tomorrow.
Spoilers for episode 3x23, Inside the Box.
"The next week will tell us more, but from what I can see, everything went well."
"Thank you, doctor."
They were out of the room and halfway across the hallway, but even with my ears still heavily bandaged, I could vaguely hear the conversation. Relief washed over me for the first time since I had woken up, groggy and anxious, after the surgery. Nobody had come by since – no opportunity to check out my new ears – but Catherine had apparently waited out the procedure in the waiting room and was anxious to be my first (and only) visitor. She shook hands with the doctor and walked into my room.
"Hey," she said, smiling.
"So… doctor says all went well."
I tilted my head.
"It's a little skewed right now, but I'm hopeful," I said, not wanting to be too positive on the chance something went wrong.
Catherine took a seat beside my bed.
"I know I said this already, but… thanks again," I told her. "It means a lot to me that you're here."
"Can I ask you something?" she blurted. I gestured for her to continue. "Why didn't you tell the guys? I'm sure this is something they'd want to know."
I paused, considering her question. It was a loaded one. Answering it completely honestly would give away everything that had been on my mind the past year – my self-doubting, my anxiety for the future and most of all, my confusion and mixed feelings when it came to Sara. I don't know when or where or how or why our relationship had gotten so complicated. It seemed like only yesterday Nick and I were dropping dummies off a roof and she was there, behind me. It seemed like things were so simple. Since then, she'd invited another man into her life, I'd been faced with a challenging disability, I'd become more reserved, and we'd grown more distant. Seeing her sitting on the sidewalk, injured and looking scared, or sad, I couldn't tell which, had concerned me. I hated seeing her in pain. But as soon as she walked away, I realized I never saw her anymore. I wasn't sure I still knew who she was any more. I had no one to blame but myself, Sara only reminded me of everything I was unsure of in my life. I would be lying if I said I hadn't been keeping her at arm's length… because she scared me.
She still did.
But I was nowhere near a hospital-bed confession, so I raised and lowered a shoulder, and answered Catherine's question diplomatically.
"I'm the supervisor," I said. "I'm not supposed to be inadequate."
She just stared at me.
"I haven't even decided if I'm comfortable having you here yet," I said, my tone light.
"Well, I won't say a word to anyone unless you want me to," she said.
"Thank you," I replied softly. "I appreciate that."
She dropped her gaze, and I noticed that something seemed off about her. Years of working together had resulted in a subtle communication between us, and though neither of us saw the other as a confidant, per se, nor did we spill our secrets and emotions to each other on a regular basis, we did have a stable support system. And I felt as though her support for me warranted a similar undertaking from me.
"Is everything okay with you?" I asked.
She brought her hands to her mouth and sighed deeply.
"Sam Braun is my father," she said simply as I gaped at her. "I… compared my DNA to the unknown blood in the deposit box… seven alleles in common. I should have known."
"How could you?"
"I'm just disappointed in him, that's all," she said. "A huge part of my life, and he couldn't trust me enough to tell me."
"I guess it's been one heck of a day for both of us."
"You got that right," she said, before handing me a pile of my clothes. "Come on, I'll drive you home."
I looked at her in surprise.
"I can go home?"
"Technically, they wanted to keep you for a night," she said, before throwing me a wink. "I convinced them otherwise. As long as you stay away from work for at least a week, you're free and clear."
"I owe you, Cath."
"You always do."