Seven Years On

Rating: CSI-1
Disclaimer: I don't own CSI.
Summary: Seven years: And they've been nothing like she had expected them to be.
Season: set early season 9
A/N: When I realised today was Graveshift's anniversary, I knew I had to post a fic. Originally I'd intended it to be a fluffy fic to mark the happy occasion. My muse had different plans. This is angst. I'm sorry, but I hope you like it anyway.
Happy 7th anniversary Graveshiftcsi :-)
Date: 24th October 2009

It's seven years today. She came to the realisation when she had to sign the date on a report at work. Seven years: And they've been nothing like she had expected them to be.

Of course, her idea of what it would be like was, no doubt, somewhat idealised. Her marriage to Eddie had been so rocky that the thought of not being tied to him anymore gave way to dreamlike notions of how her life was going to change. Where she could go; what she could do… who she could spend her time with.

Reality, as always, has been very, very different. She has done perhaps two or three of the things on her original 'list', but life has been far from the perfect, happy one that she had thought was to come. And, looking back now, if the choice was to continue as she was with Eddie, or to experience everything the universe has dealt her since then, she thinks she might actually have stuck with her marriage.

She knows, as she thinks that, that it's a ridiculous concept. The end of her marriage was not the catalyst that set in motion a chain of events that she would gladly give anything to undo. But it's human to wonder 'what if?' – and she can't help but consider that if she had stayed with Eddie, he, for one, might still be alive.

There's no logical way, though, that her marriage would have saved Sam, or Warrick. But the mind is such that once you start on the path of thinking about what you've lost, it all builds up, clumps together, and it's hard to think logically. She must have done something to deserve the loss and pain she has been dealt, and breaking a vow, that she had made in the presence of God, is the only thing she can think of.

So, right now, she regrets this day, seven years ago. Right now, the relief she felt then, when she learned her divorce was final, is the reason she now lives without her daughter's father, her own father and one of her closest friends. It's the reason her daughter hates her; the reason they fight more than they laugh. It's the reason Greg got hurt because of her negligence. And it's the reason she is losing the one person that would be able to save her from a descent like this. The person that, seven years ago, she had imagined growing closer to, not watching in the arms of another woman. Yes, at this moment she can find only one thing to blame for it all: Herself. Seven years ago. If she could meet her now, she'd slap some sense into her.

This version of herself though can only sit and swirl her vodka round its glass. Most of it is gone; likely adding to the irrational string of recrimination that is similarly sloshing round her mind. She can control the drink though. The movement stops if she decides it should. She has tried it with her thoughts, but it doesn't work. She started this, but she has no idea how it will end. And she's not sure it should. After all, right now, she believes she is getting exactly what she deserves.

She picks up the glass again, tilting it left and then right; watching the clear liquid sweep from one side to the other. Then she tilts it backwards, then forwards, disturbing the initial rhythm. Then it's left, back, forward, left, round in a circle then back, creating waves of chaos in the small container as tears slip from her eyes. Then a hand grasps hers and the fluid is permitted to still. An arm wraps across her shoulders and hugs her against a familiar, warm body and she allows a sob to break free.

She's crying mainly for Warrick, she knows. Deep in her mind she does know that the last seven years have not been just pain and loss. But Warrick was the last straw, and today's reminder that she had been so hopeful for happiness also reminded her how much she misses him. And Sam. And Eddie. How much she misses the easy relationship she had with Lindsey before the young girl had to deal with the same loss. And how much she misses being able to turn to Gil.

And so she does just that. She turns her face into his chest and releases it all. She wraps her arms around his waist and pulls him closer, clinging to him and their friendship. And he holds her; gently stroking her hair, softly whispering that she will be okay, that he's there. And that gives her more comfort than he probably expects it will. Because, for seven years, they've been drifting in the opposite direction to what she had hoped and imagined. But when she needs him, he's still there without her having to ask. He will hold her without her having to explain why she's crying: Because he already knows.

It's seven years today since she first allowed herself to dream of being in Gil's arms. This was not what she had meant. But, as there is nothing she can give that would undo all the loss of the last seven years, she's holding on to this. To him. As she always has. He has always been there, despite what her mind tells her. And when she can see past everything else, she knows he will always be there. Not necessarily in the capacity she had hoped for, but definitely as her best friend. No matter what happens – what has already happened – he will get her through it. She'll be okay. Because he's there.

THE END