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Bed of Roses by Kerlin [ - ]
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Category: CSI - Ship Ahoy! > Gil/Sara
Characters: Gil Grissom, Sara Sidle
Rating: R
Genres: Angst, Case, Character Study, Established Relationship, Romance
Warnings: Adult themes

Summary: The time and the miles between them have only served to make the thorns more apparent.





prologue

Rating: PG-13 Summary: The time and the miles between them have only served to make the thorns more apparent. Spoilers: Oh, probably. Nothing specific off the top of my head, though. Consider at least the first two seasons fair game. Disclaimer: So not mine. And I seriously doubt I'm using them for their intended purposes. But isn't that half the fun? Author's Note:Thanks to buggs, for the swift kicks in the eema and the cheering section and the "I hate you"s. And to elishavah, for her vastly superior knowledge of Boston geography and legal systems. And to both of them collectively for the beta tweaks.

For those interested, the title comes from the Bon Jovi song of the same title. The rest of the words only apply in the vaguest possible way, though the two lines that helped drive the story - "I wanna lay you down in a bed of roses/For tonight I sleep on a bed of nails" - are still very apt.


Sara stetched under the blankets and reflected on the fact that the biting cold invading her apartment was probably one of the few reasons she would ever wish to huddle under the covers and sleep in. She squinted at the alarm clock and considered just closing her eyes and staying in the warm cocoon for a full ten seconds - and then on cue, the coffee maker in the kitchen clicked on and began gargling its way toward making two cups of coffee.

That did it. She braced herself and threw the covers off, shivering, and quickly pulled on several layers of jogging clothes, topped by a black watch cap pulled snug down over her ears and thick ski gloves. She had exactly one half-hour before the coffee was finished, and she was out the door within two minutes of first getting out of bed.

Cambridge in the thin light of a midwinter late-afternoon held an ethereal timeless quality to it even as Sara paced herself past eighteenth-century brownstone houses with a few carefully anonymous late model cars parked on the street. Ice salt crunched under her sneakers, and the cold invaded her lungs with little tiny knives. She just ran faster, rounding the corner, and a few minutes later she was along the half-frozen Charles and the noise from Boston echoed across the river to prod her on even faster.

While she could no longer feel her nose, cheeks, and forehead, her limbs had loosened and warmed, and she was moving quickly when she banked right to head toward Harvard Square. It was busy, and crowded, but then it always was, and she knew which side streets would let her make a circuit of the main area without interrupting the flows of people.

She bypassed the elevator at her apartment building to take the stairs at a run, all six flights of them, skipping steps and catching a hand on the banister to swing around the landings easily. When she entered the apartment, the coffee machine was bubbling to an end and Sara poured the first cup and sifted in the sugar with quick, efficient movements. The first mouthful scalded her tongue and she made a moue of frustration before blowing on the liquid for a few seconds and trying again.

Half the cup was gone in time it took to travel from the kitchen to the living room, where she flipped the computer on, and the second half of the cup was gone by the time she returned to the kitchen and set the cup on the counter. She began lifting layers of clothing as she made her way to the bedroom and its adjoining bath. The hot water sluiced the sweat from her body and restored tingling feeling to her cheeks.

Twenty minutes later Sara was seated at her computer, hair wrapped in a towel, doing the usual run-through of junk mail and forensics newsletters while sipping the second cup of coffee. She quirked her eyebrow at several anatomically impossible offers and forwarded a comparative analysis on fingerprint powder to the usual suspects in her address book. And it seemed that one of her San Francisco contacts had reciprocated; two forwards of articles that she dropped onto her desktop to read later.

It was a careful routine - precision embodied in the mastery of small, everyday tasks. Step by step by step and before she realized it, four months had passed. She wasn't sure whether it disturbed her more that she'd stopped counting, or that she didn't know when she'd stopped counting.

And thoughts like that had no place in the routine. Unsettled, she shut the computer down and went to dry her hair, focusing on the action at hand. Lift the damp hair, stretch it out with the brush, press the dryer close in. Repeat.

Six o'clock, and the weak winter sunlight was giving way to a slow sunset as Sara exited the bathroom and saw the cup of coffee still sitting beside the computer. She frowned at it, and with jerky movements dumped the rest of the coffee in the sink and washed the mug, the coffee pot, and refilled the reservoir for tomorrow morning. Her fingers stilled across the bag of coffee with a slight smile before she opened it to pour the coffee in the filter -

She'd forgotten to empty the old filter. She stood and stared at it, uncomprehending, coffee bag poised in mid-air. Carefully, she set the bag back on the counter and pinched the sides of the wet filter together, leaning over to toss it in the trash can under the sink. Lips pressed tightly into a thin line, she set a clean filter inside and sifted out dry grounds, pushing the coffee maker back against the wall and flicking the timer on.

Deep breaths, in and out, as she pressed her palms against the edge of the counter, fingers curled tightly inward, nails scraping the countertop slightly. Her knuckles were white and fine tremors shook her body as she watched the blood leave her hands from the force of her grip. They didn't look like her hands at all, looked like they belonged to a corpse, an unbreathing slab of flesh laid out on the autopsy table, ready for someone to cut up and learn all its secrets -

Air exploded from her lungs and sparks danced before her vision as her body protested the lack of oxygen. Sara hadn't even realized she'd been holding her breath.

Pushing off from the counter, she snatched up hat, gloves, scarf, and coat on her way out the door.