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Fic Post: Waterproof Mascara

Title: Waterproof Mascara
Author: vegawriters
Fandom: CSI
Pairing: Post GSR (yes, that is a pairing now.)
Rating: Teen
A/N: This started as a dabbling with a DB/Sara idea. But I couldn’t go there. Not completely. As I hope is shown when you finish reading this. It is also possibly how I might end up dealing with what I fear is the inevitable signing of the divorce papers and the sinking of the ship that helped to save my life. I wrote this with Sleeps with Butterflies in mind, but it is not married to that universe – mostly so I can keep that series canon should things change right now. Right now, this is a one-shot. We’ll see what happens next.
Disclaimer: Sara Sidle, DB Russell, Doug Wilson, Greg Sanders, Nick Stokes, and even Gilbert-hoseweed-Grissom are owned by CBS and the other powers that be. But I’m not sure I like how they’re playing with them. I might have to steal their toys.

Summary: The white cloth was streaked with her mascara and eyeliner and she realized that there was in fact a level of tears that could wash off waterproof eye makeup.

Sara hadn’t made a big fanfare about the official, legal end of her marriage, the Basderic case had been humiliating enough. But when she’d submitted the paperwork to HR letting them know that she was again a Ms., that Gil was no longer on her insurance policy, she’d been glad that HR only worked during the day. Paperwork submitted: her life insurance plan still in his name, and he remained an emergency contact, but other than that their lives were no longer entwined. She’d left the office on shaking legs, avoiding everyone, and made a beeline for the home he’d suggested they buy. He’d found it with her in mind, but it had been his idea. And the day they’d closed on the house, they’d made love in every room and fallen onto an air mattress, sated.

Once at the home that was now solely in her name, she’d sat out on the porch, chain smoking her way through a bottle of wine, and stared at the thin golden band she hadn’t worn in months. First it had been in her pocket and then next to his photo and now what? She couldn’t just toss it into the junk drawer next to the pens and her extra boxes of tampons she hadn’t needed in far too long and cigarettes she needed far too often anymore. But she didn’t have a ring box – it had been lost in one of the many moves around the planet and it wasn’t like it mattered at the time. She’d never planned to take the ring off. Her brain couldn’t even comprehend the redecoration she knew her living room needed. No, she wasn’t going to remove every image of her now ex-husband, but she couldn’t walk into the house and see their wedding photo anymore. She couldn’t harbor the reminder of the times she’d been happiest, when they’d made a home together.

Drunk, and sick from the cigarettes, she’d made her way inside. The wedding photo went into the empty drawer in the end table. She blew away the thin layer of dust where the photo had held court for so long, replaced it with a photo of Hawaii from her study, and stumbled to bed where she slept through her alarm but still managed to not be late for work. Even in sleep she’d clutched the ring so tightly it made an impression in her hand. Her dreams were peppered with the image of Gil in the helicopter on the way to Desert Palm, the day it had almost ended for them forever. Back when she thought she knew what pain was.

At work, no one questioned if she seemed quieter than usual, and she appreciated how DB assigned her to a case out in the middle of nowhere. By the time she made it back to the lab, most of the team, including DB, was gone.

Day two was easier. No one asked. No one looked twice. And if her makeup seemed lighter because she didn’t want to erase sudden streaks of eyeliner, no one noticed there either. After all, she was Sara, the tomboy, the tough girl. People looked twice when they noticed her makeup. Days melted into weeks. And eventually she stopped falling asleep with her wedding ring clutched against her chest and it joined the photo in the end table and she only looked at it three times a day. And then two. And then when she got up for shift. And eventually, the desire faded, replaced by all the stages of grief. Anger was her favorite. Denial haunted her. Gil emailed at the end of the month to check on her and she sat, staring at his words, wondering if he cried when he wrote it like she had when she responded.

She rearranged the living room. Hank stayed in a place of honor. Next to him was a favorite photo of her and Gil. But most of the photos of her life with him were stacked into that end table drawer. She chose photos she’d taken – Hawaii, Costa Rica, a black and white series she’d done of Ice Box Canyon after she returned to Vegas. Her final catharsis, letting go of Natalie.

Nick set her up with a friend of his who was also recently divorced. The date turned into two broken people reminiscing about their exes and they vowed to stay friends but realized it could go nowhere. She and Greg had more than one awkward moment and Sofia called a few times, but she needed to not date inside the lab. Tom was fun. A professor at WLVU, but he studied butterflies. Andrea taught art to high school kids. Doug flew in and the sex was as mind-blowing as ever, but after he left she cried too hard for her to ever let it happen again.

Still, no one at the lab, not even Greg in their awkward moments or Sofia in her phone calls, asked if it was official and she let them keep wondering. After all, it was practically the Gil Grissom Shrine and like it or not, she was still their connection to him.

Once a month he emailed and she cried and drank while she read and replied. As always, she was fine. If he didn’t know she was lying with every word she typed, that was his fault, not hers. She went to her gyno appointments by herself and decided, eventually, to manage her endometriosis through medication and follow-up. Losing her ovaries and her husband in the same year was just too much. She didn’t want him to feel like he had to rush back if she did have the hysterectomy.

Six months to the day, Russell called her into his office.

“Sara,” he said, that voice letting her know this wasn’t a professional visit. After all, she’d already had her evaluation and walked away with a glowing review and the cost of living adjustment the county was allowing. No merit based raises were coming any time soon. “When were you going to tell me?” He closed the door and she sank into the familiar chair and stared at the familiar sight. Russell was a botanist, not an entomologist, but the cases of plants reminded her of the bugs and there were books piled high and his awards and photos and he even used Gil’s desk. She stared at the crack in the paint and shook her head at DB’s tone.

She’d wanted to keep it quiet forever. Instead she shrugged. “How long have you known?”

“HR gave me the heads up six months ago.”

She stared at him. He stared back. She shook her head and stared at her nails and wondered for a moment what it was like to be one of those women who had manicures every week and kept their hair perfect and faces smooth. She needed a haircut and her jeans were frayed slightly at the knees. Catherine had always baffled her in her grace and dignity. She had been the gawky kid sister. But at least she’d landed the lab’s hero.

Maybe that was the problem. Maybe she just wasn’t the kind of girl that heroes went for.

“Sara …”

She couldn’t look up at her boss. Her friend. She couldn’t look into those eyes that had always looked right through the wall she put up. He knew her too well. He knew she preferred to work alone and knew when to race after her to slow her down and she hated, hated so much, that he was her supervisor because she hated that she had a type and a pattern. Greg turned her head but how often was she looking through him and following DB’s movements down the hall. At least he was married. At least he was off the market. That reality would force her out of her comfort zone, away from the lab. If she wanted older and academic, college campuses were full of them. Hell, maybe she’d just go a completely different route and hook up with some truck driver. No. Too much like her brother.

“Sara,” he repeated.

She bit her lip and shook her head again, realizing how unable she was to speak. She hadn’t said the words to anyone. Not even her dates. They knew she was divorced but it was all this and that and nothing that said, “My husband thought it was in my best interest to break my heart because he was too fucking lazy to figure out how to make this work and his bugs were more important than seventeen years of history.” And she couldn’t breathe and then the tears were coming and she was bending forward, angry because she’d cried it all out already but here it was, back, punching her in the chest and the tears came silently at first but then she heard the embarrassing hitch in her voice, the sob that came from her chest, and she pressed her now ringless finger to her lips and kept shaking her head but she wasn’t sure if it was from denial or the tears as they poured out of her. DB’s arm was around her shoulders and she leaned into him and the tears flowed harder and harder and he just held her and it was the first time she’d let anyone hold her since it all happened and she cried and cried and even when the sobs stopped, the emotion didn’t and she sniffed and sniffed and it took a long time before she could breathe.

When she opened her eyes, a handkerchief was waving before her face and she laughed a bit and took it. After she blew her nose, she looked at him and he gently brushed a lock of hair from her forehead and touched her cheek. “You’re going to be okay, Sara.”

She sniffed and nodded and felt like an idiot but he was nonplussed by the whole situation. It was like he spent his days holding grieving ex-wives and then hanging them handkerchiefs. The white cloth was streaked with her mascara and eyeliner and she realized that there was in fact a level of tears that could wash off waterproof eye makeup. He brushed her hair aside again and crooked a half-smile and she returned it. “Thanks,” she said softly.

“You’re welcome.”

The air hung between them and she again cursed his marriage and her compulsive attraction to the authority figures in her life and she knew that in another world, they would be good together. Instead, he and his wife had worked through their marital issues and she was yet another statistic of working women. Another foster kid who couldn’t handle long term relationships or intimacy or well … anything. She was good at her job. That would have to be.

He met her eyes again, took the handkerchief, wiped the last of her tears away, and handed it back to her. “Go on home,” he said. “You’ve got the night off.”

Too drained to argue, Sara stood, catching her reflection in the TV screen. She stared at the half-image of her face, DB sitting behind her, and wondered how she could ever make it work again.

Taking a breath, she walked from the office. Instinct told her to call Gil. Instead, she got in her car, drove home, changed her clothes, washed her face, and dared herself to go out.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 2nd, 2013 02:58 am (UTC)
This fic reminds me all over again how much you love Sara. Not that I needed reminding. ;) But every description of her is so lovingly crafted and that more than any of the other wonderful things about your writing sells the depth of the story. <3
Aug. 2nd, 2013 03:01 am (UTC)
Awww lovey. Thank you so much. :)

Edited at 2013-08-02 03:01 am (UTC)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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