A/N: This is a strange one, I think. It has two issues in it: a bad situation and the stress of coping with it. It might not be what you expect, but I hope it makes sense!

Sarah x


He walked into her office and found her lying on the floor. Silent. Still. Miserable. Asleep. She had a tiny blanket wrapped around her, using her rolled-up coat as a pillow. The make-up she'd worn when he watched her leave UCOS last night was melted and seriously askew, grey tear tracks on her white cheeks.

She must have gone home and came back here. He didn't know why, but he had his ideas. It would be another bad break-up; she had so many of them he thought she would have become immune by now. He knelt down beside her, gently rubbing her shoulder to wake her up. "Sandra," he whispered, not wanting to startle her out of her slumber.

She moaned as she stirred, wanting to stay where she was – asleep, so she couldn't feel the hangover and she didn't have to experience the pain of yet another disaster in her love life. Last night was particularly nasty row, a particularly near miss. An almost moment. So she escaped the ringing silence of her home, a place she was meant to be safe in, choosing instead to sleep on the hard floor of her office. Her mobile rang through the night, but she put it on silent and stuffed it in her bag by about two in the morning.

"Sandra," she heard a familiar voice call her gently back to the present. She turned around slowly to find a face she knew well, laced with concern for her well-being upon finding her sleeping on her office floor.

"What?" she groaned. Her back ached from the way she slept. Her head ached from the tension of the previous night. Her eyes still stung from the tears she cried.

"Time to get up, don't you think?" he said to her, helping her upright. She tugged her arms free from his grip, not wanting any assistance from him. She guided herself up, using her desk as a crutch, and stood up straight. But her right foot gave way, unable to support her weight. She looked down at it. She couldn't feel pain. She couldn't feel anything in her right foot. It was numb. Nothing there.

Gerry caught her before she fell, and demanded, "You alright?"

"Must have got up too quickly," she lied smoothly. She rubbed her eyes to wake herself properly, flakes or ruined mascara coming off onto her fingers. "I'm going to wash my face."

She walked out, feeling like she was dragging her right foot along. It wouldn't cooperate – or do anything, for that matter. She made it to the bathrooms, staring at her reflection. The woman before her was not someone she knew. She was looking at a deathly pale woman, with sweat on her forehead, and melted make up all over her face. This woman had visible black marks under her eyes, nothing to do with the make up situation at all.

She threw water about her face, wiping off the chemicals with a wet paper towel. When it was all gone, she saw just how pale she really was this morning. She thought on how she ended up here at half past eleven last night, uncomfortable in the silence of her own home. How could she, of all people, allowed this to happen to her?

When she returned to the UCOS office, all three of her boys were there and Strickland was sitting in a chair with a case file in her hand. Jack handed her a cup of coffee, and as she took it, she found her hands trembled. She turned to Strickland and asked him, "Have you got a case for us, sir?"

He held the file up, and she faked a smile. Good. She needed a distraction.

She brought the coffee mug up to her lips, drinking in the hot caffeine like her life depended on it. Her right hand shook when she brought the cup back down, and it slipped from her grasp. There was a sharp pain in her arm that turned almost instantly to a cold, frozen ache. The pain descended down her right side, right into her leg, and into her foot. Well, at least she felt something in her foot now.

Her attention was pulled back to the situation around her by Strickland's concerned voice. "Sandra," he said, giving her a look of unusual concern. "Your hands. They're shaking," he pointed to her trembling hand.

"I'm fine, sir," she lied again. What was happening? Something wasn't right. She'd never been in so much pain, even after someone had hit her or decked her. It wasn't the usual kind of pain. It wasn't a stabbing pain, or a sharp pain, or a dull ache, or even a grinding pain. It felt like she was being frozen from the inside out on her right side.

Now her toes were going numb again; she could feel the sensation ebbing slowly from them. This was strange. She'd never felt anything like it in her life before. She reached out to Strickland for the file, losing her balance slightly. She grabbed his wrist so she wouldn't topple over to the floor, and he looked at her pale face. He decided not to say anything, because they both knew exactly what she was going to say.

When he left, she read through the file, involving the others. After an hour of discussions, she started giving orders. "Right," she said. "Jack and Brian, you two can go through the evidence and see what you make of it, since the original investigation doesn't appear to have made much effort." The nodded silently, not daring to question her well-being, so she turned on Gerry. "We'll go and see Sedona, Roma's sister."

She carefully went to get her keys, and her office spun around her. She latched onto the edge of her desk for support. What the hell was wrong with her? She couldn't feel her right foot, and the numbness was ascending faster than she thought it might. Then she remembered she had a woman to talk to about the death of her little sister ten years ago, and forced herself to walk towards Gerry.

When they reached her car, she gave Gerry the keys. He raised an eyebrow at her, so she raised her right hand, holding it flat horizontally, watching the tremors ripple through it. "I'm stubborn, Gerry. I'm not suicidal."

The drive was silent, and Sandra was beginning to worry. Surreptitiously, she dug the nails of her left hand into her right thigh. Nothing. No pain, not even any pressure. She did the same to the back of her right hand before she got out of the car at the block of flats Sedona lived in and achieved the same thing: nothing.

Cautiously, she got up out of the car, leaning on the door with her left hand. Then the world was rushing in circles around her. Her hand slipped off the car door, and her right leg would not support her weight. She fell to the ground, and her eyes closed, refusing to open. She could still hear everything around her. She could hear Gerry frantically calling her name, and she wanted to reply, to let him know she would be fine, but her brain wouldn't let her do it.

And anyway, if she told him that, she knew now that she would be lying.


Hope this is OK!
Please feel free to leave a review and tell me what you think!
Sarah x