~ If you need to crash, then crash and burn, you're not alone…~
Sara's beer remained on the table, untouched; condensation dripping down the cold glass.
Catherine had taken several sips from hers, as she watched the younger woman; empathising with her as she saw emotions of hurt and anger flit across Sara's face. They had been sitting in silence for about ten minutes, but that didn't matter. If Sara needed to talk, then she was there. If she didn't, then they would sit in silence until Sara wanted to leave.
Catherine didn't have the full story, she didn't know what exactly had happened to end things between Hank and Sara, but from the pain radiating from her colleague, she could tell it was over; and that it must have been something serious that terminated it.
She didn't know how serious Sara's relationship with the paramedic had been; it wasn't something that they talked about. In fact, this was the first time that the two of them had socialised outside of work, not including team breakfasts.
There had been a distance between them ever since Sara started, and Catherine had never quite managed to pinpoint the reason behind it. She did harbour, she would reluctantly admit - but only to herself somewhat of a feeling of resentment towards Grissom's hand-picked member of the team. Mainly because, she justified, Sara had referred to herself as `hand-picked' and that inflated sense of self- importance bugged her. But, the resentment seemed to flow in both directions, and Catherine could think of nothing she had ever done to Sara to warrant such regard, and therefore, as Sara seemed to be making no effort for the two of them to become closer, Catherine also made no such effort. There was nothing bitter or bitchy about it, they simply did not need to be friends. Colleagues worked just fine. They could laugh together from time to time; they could work together professionally the majority of the time; and when one of them needed support like now they could be there for each other.
Sara's voice stirred Catherine from her thoughts as she asked: "How did you do it?"
Catherine frowned, wondering what exactly she was being asked about. "Sorry?"
Sara trailed an index finger through the moisture on the side of her glass, choosing to concentrate on that, rather than face Catherine as she spoke. "How did you handle the betrayal?… How did you… get past it?"
Catherine offered a sympathetic smile at this revelation of some detail about the break-up. "I got angry… I cried… I may have thrown a couple of things… I drank only when Lindsey was staying at my Mom's…"
"… I lashed out at friends who tried to help me… In fact, at anyone who came anywhere near me… Until someone pointed out to me, that it wasn't me that I should be angry with."
Sara frowned. "You?"
"Yeah… It was a smart-ass who figured out that I was snapping at everyone around me because I was mad at myself for being so blind and goddamn stupid," Catherine smiled.
"So it was Grissom?" Sara guessed.
Catherine gave a small laugh and nodded. "Yeah, it was Grissom… How'd you get that from my description?"
The joke served its purpose, and a small smile briefly graced Sara's lips.
"Were you…" Sara picked up seriously again after a few seconds of contemplative silence. "… angry at the other woman?"
"Yes." Catherine's answer was immediate, and from the look on the younger CSI's face, was not what Sara had wanted to hear. She frowned a little, and continued. "I was at first, just like I was angry at Gil for not telling me, and at half my colleagues, simply for… existing… But I realised there was no point me being angry. Well, not at anyone except Eddie. He was the one married to me; he was the one who had broken vows and promises… So then I cut up some clothes… And some photos; I cried some more; then I moved on… Because he wasn't worth it… Just like Hank isn't worth it. If he cheated on you, Sara, you're better off without him."
"He didn't cheat on me…" Sara responded, turning to face Catherine now. "Well, not exactly… He already had a girlfriend… I was the other woman."
Catherine cringed. "Ouch!"
"Yeah," Sara sighed, then she rubbed her hand across her tear- stained eyes.
"Did you love him?" Catherine asked, quietly.
Sara seemed to consider the question for a few seconds before she said: "I think I could have done."
"It's better that you weren't there yet."
Sara nodded. "I know… But…" She paused and an increase in the speed of her breathing indicated building anger. "I was moving on, you know… I was getting somewhere." She wiped angrily at tears that crept onto her cheeks.
Catherine frowned, confused by that statement. "Sorry… Moving on? …" Then it hit her. "Grissom?" And, inexplicably, it hurt.
Sara nodded. "I had started to believe that I could love someone else. That I could get over the ridiculous crush and get on with my life."
Catherine's mind was reeling doubly so, as she tried to process why it was that it had started to reel in the first place. The word `crush' had made it through though, and seemed to calm her panic a little.
"Crush?" she asked, hopeful. "So you and Grissom have never…?"
Sara shook her head vehemently. "No! And I've known since San Francisco that we never… That nothing would ever happen… I just wouldn't let go… And when he asked me to come here, that sparked a little hope, and when I got here and found that you and he still weren't involved then my hopes grew "
"Whoa!" Sara had given all of that information very quickly, and Catherine had just about caught up. "What have I got to do with this?"
For a second Sara's eyes were wide with panic, then she quickly said: "Sorry?" her ignorance of the subject, however, was clearly feigned.
"You said `that you and he still weren't involved…'"
Sara frowned. "Did I?"
"I don't know what I meant. I was just… talking… Do you want another drink?"
"Sara!" Catherine reprimanded as the other woman began to stand. "You haven't drunk that one yet."
Sara looked at her beer, and then dejectedly sat back in her seat. "Any chance we can pretend I didn't say it?"
Catherine shook her head and waited, a patient look of expectation on her face.
Sara sighed and rubbed her hand across her eyes before turning to look at Catherine. "You really cannot tell Grissom that I told you this," she said. "And, it's all based on conjecture on my part, I don't know for definite that it was you, it's just… you seemed to fit the description so well, and… well, I've never seen any other women in his life who he could have meant if he didn't mean you."
Despite Sara having begun her explanation, Catherine was now more confused than she had been before.
"Sara… Could you just…" A rolling wave of her hand followed her words, and Sara understood that she meant to move the story along.
"Sorry… When Grissom was in San Francisco, we went for a coffee, just one afternoon, and I asked him about his family… You know, was he married? Girlfriend?… He was very… Grissom about it. Told me very little. But then we got talking about work, and his eyes would just light up every time he mentioned this particular `colleague'. He never said her name… I knew it was a woman, because of references to `she did this…' or whatever, but he never used any name… I asked him about her. Tried to keep it light and teasing, you know. Asked if she was just a colleague. But you know Grissom… He just said: `Yes.' And that was it."
Catherine smiled fondly, able to picture so clearly everything Sara had said about Grissom.
Sara seemed sad as she continued. "So when I started work here, and I saw the two of you together, I realised you must be the woman he had been talking about… His eyes lit up in the same way whenever you walked into the room "
"Sara " Catherine tried to cut in, realising from the increasing speed of Sara's speaking that she was getting gradually more upset
She shook her head to dismiss Catherine's interruption. "And I kind of realised that, regardless of the fact that he had asked me to come here, he didn't feel anything for me… But the others told me nothing was going on with you two, and I guess that gave my clingy mind some hope, and I wouldn't let go and then I - "
Tears were welling in Sara's eyes, and Catherine leaned forward, covering her colleagues hand with her own. "Sara…"
The younger woman turned to Catherine, her face crumpling as tears streamed down her cheeks. "I could have loved him, Catherine. I really…" she trailed off, the words sticking in her throat as she cried, and Catherine wrapped her arms around Sara's shaking form.
"I know, honey," she whispered softly. "I know."
Catherine held her as Sara wept, soothing away the occasional `why?'s and `how could I be so stupid?'s that were mumbled out through the tears, and cursing Hank herself for leaving Sara in that state.
Eventually the crying subsided and Sara sat back as she took deep breaths to calm down.
"I'm sorry," she said, quietly, with a small embarrassed smile.
Catherine smiled reassuringly. "Hey, don't worry about it… I've been there."
Sara nodded slowly. "How long will it take?… To get over him?"
"Hank or Grissom?"
Sara sighed, then laughed a little. "Both?"
"Well, Hank, you'll soon realise was an idiot and isn't worth your time… Grissom… I don't know."
"Not managed it yourself yet, huh?" Sara smirked.
Catherine's eyes widened at Sara's comment, but she smiled as well. "No, not quite."
Sara raised an eyebrow.
"Okay, not at all," she admitted.
Sara smiled a genuine smile. "You should just tell him how you feel."
"Maybe. One day… Anyway, we're not here to talk about me… You will get through this, Sara. I promise."
Sara nodded slowly. "I know… Thanks, Catherine… I know I haven't always been "
Catherine cut her off. "Hey! We don't need to go there."
Sara laughed. "Okay… I'll leave it at thanks."
Catherine grinned. "No problem… And if you ever wanna cry and call men all the names under the sun… you know where to find me."
Both women laughed, as they picked up their beers.
"A toast?" Sara asked.
"Sure… To what?"
Sara took a deep breath. "Starting over?"
Catherine smiled and clinked her glass against Sara's. "Starting over."
~ For there has always been heartache and pain
~ And when it's over you'll breathe again. ~