DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of these characters. Sorry for treading on any toes I do it only for my sanity.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Another version of my, for those of you who have already read it, 'Meant to Be' fic. This time I have taken a little artistic license with Sara's past history, but for the rest of my tale I hope I have stuck as much with canon as I could. You will see what I mean.
CHALLENGE FIC: Written for Chemistry for Catherine Challenge to fit the following assignment: For: Lora, Pairing: Cath/Sara, Rating: any, Requests: Angsty as hell please, and I'll give a cookie for memories of stripper-Cath (angsty of course) ;)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Another Time, Another Place
By Debbie

Smoke and testosterone hung heavy, like a cloud, over the beautiful blonde silently watching the show; both onstage and offstage. Grimacing inwardly, she had prayed never to set foot in one of these places ever again. Yet, here she was, three years later assigned to give "dancing" instruction to an undercover police officer from San Francisco.

It appeared the SFPD had saved a beautiful young woman from certain death. It was believed she had been kidnapped in a certain Vegas strip-club to be sold to the highest bidder in San Francisco; this very club.

Catherine Willows, ex-exotic dancer, ex-stripper, now a bone-fide member of Las Vegas professional suburbia and the mother of a young child, had given this life away many years previously to follow a rocky path to CSI level 2 with the Las Vegas Criminalistics lab.

And yet, watching the young women on stage she had a sudden yearning to be up there again, although it was a part of her life she wanted to forget, there was no denying the thrill that she had received from dancing. She had hated the predatory nature of the watching crowd but the exhilarating freedom from the dance had been more than addictive. As had, she thought sadly, the pull of the cocaine that blotted her mind to the crowd.

Now, thinking back on those years she was amazed that she had never succumbed to the seedier side of stripping, not once had she allowed her body to be anything other than a dancer to watch, not once had she allowed a customer to touch.

Glancing around the crowd of which she was a member, watching the "dancers" allow the customers to grope, she realized that it was probably only her own utmost belief in herself and her desire to get out, that had prevented her descent into a sort of prostitution.

Suddenly her eyes came to rest on a tall brunette watching the dancers from the rear of the room. Leaning against the far wall in a relaxed crossed-arm posture this young woman gave off a supposed confident air and yet her eyes glanced around the room nervously. Even under the subdued lighting of this seedy nightclub Catherine could see vivid flashes of concentration and fascination, she was drawn to the intense look in those dark eyes. Catherine was mesmerized and felt a blush creep up her neck when the brunette held her gaze for a moment. The magnetism between them was palpable.

Before the blonde CSI could approach the brunette however, she sensed a shift in the room as the brunette began to stride towards the stage. Giving Catherine a small shrug of something that looked very much like a shrug of apology she passed the CSI's table, and approached the stage. Turning around, Catherine saw a sultry blonde beckoning the brunette forward. As she reached the stage, with a smile and a lick of her lips, the tall dark beauty placed a roll of dollar bills in the dancer's garter and took the dancer's hand, leading her towards one of the private booths to one side.

Enchanted by the look in the young woman's eyes, and driven by some inner pull, Catherine followed discretely, finding a table with a view of the private dance. Surreptitiously drinking her scotch chaser, she watched the show.

The sultry blonde dancer performed an erotic lap dance for the brunette but something was off. To Catherine's trained eye the brunette was being too methodical, there was interest in the dance she was receiving, but it was not a sexual interest like the usual "Johns" had it was more a clinical interest. The CSI could tell the exotic dancer was getting frustrated at the brunette's "non-interest" by the way she was allowing her body to touch skin to skin more than she really should.

Catherine smiled, it appeared the lap dance being performed was really meant to seduce and it wasn't working. Her smile turned into a chuckle; if Catherine had really wanted to seduce the brunette resistance would have been futile. That one thought gave her confidence for the mission she had to come; she might now be 32 years of age and well past it in dancers' terms but she could certainly show this blonde a thing or two.

Looking back into the booth she could see that the private dance was coming to a conclusion by the way the blonde woman sat heavily into the lap of the watcher and leaned in to brush her lips against the brunette's mouth. For some reason Catherine's stomach clenched at the vision and for one moment she had a vision of herself sitting astride the young woman's lap. Fighting back that vision she was shocked to her core when the brunette's eyes met her own. The intense look that passed between them was doubled as the brunette claimed the dancer's lips in a scorching kiss while maintaining the eye contact with Catherine.

Time stood still for Catherine and her heart raced. What the hell was happening to her? She was a married woman and a mother, yet this young woman was firing something deep in her psyche that she didn't want to recognize or even acknowledge. Deep in thought she was shocked to feel a hand on her shoulder and see another scotch on the rocks placed in front of her.

Looking up into intense ebony eyes, darkened by an obvious lust, Catherine gasped. The brunette smiled and leaned over to brush her lips against Catherine's cheek as she whispered, "Another time, another place, maybe?"

Stunned into inaction, Catherine watched the stranger and the dancer leave hand-in-hand still wondering what the hell had just happened.

After a sleepless night thinking about her connection with the stranger she would never see again, Catherine Willows, CSI 2 wandered into downtown CSI headquarters ready for the challenge that lay ahead; teaching a San Francisco police rookie how to pole dance and how to stay away from trouble.

What was it she often told her ex-colleagues; the pole is there for a reason. It's what you hang on to so the creeps don't pull you out of there. In Catherine's dance days the girls rarely gave private lap dances for that very reason. It was something she intended teaching this young policewoman carefully, from last night's example, it appeared to be something the dancers already working there didn't quite comprehend.

The blonde CSI arrived at the designated meeting place and saw that Jim Brass was talking to a long-haired brunette. She knocked gently and entered the room, watching the couple chatting animatedly. Hearing that the voices were raised slightly she was not surprised they failed to acknowledge her presence. Catherine took the moment to feel her way into the situation and as she did so she felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand to attention. The feeling was similar to the one she had had the previous night on first sighting the young brunette; a feeling that was still foreign to the self-assured Catherine Willows, a feeling that was unexplainable, a feeling of falling out of control. Clearing her throat she watched as first Jim and then the young woman turned. All thought left her head as the young woman revealed herself to be the exact same brunette as the previous night.

"Ah, Cath, let me introduce you to Sara Sidle, a police officer from San Francisco. Sara, this is Catherine Willows, one of our CSI 2's," introduced Jim Brass.

The two women shook hands, feeling an electric shock pass between them, and shared a sheepish smile. Without losing the contact of their hands they both looked to Brass as he continued, "Catherine used to... um... work as a dancer and has agreed to teach you a few rudimentary dance moves, as well as... um... I guess, a few pointers on avoiding any trouble.

The two women chuckled at Jim's nervousness and were glad that he had released some of the tension in the room. Noticing their still clasped hands Catherine dropped Sara's hand quickly and murmured, "We meet again, huh?"

Jim glanced between the two of them, surprised; "You two know each other?"

It was Sara that answered quickly, laughing, "Sort of, Sir, it's a long complicated story, something you might hear one day." To Catherine she whispered, "Or probably never."

Catherine smiled again, amazed at the automatic ease she felt with this young woman. Taking charge, she said, "Ok Sara. Let's go somewhere quiet and see what I can teach you. Jim, when do you want Sara back and ready to go?"

"She has her first shift booked for tonight. Can you have her ready by then?" answered the bemused detective.

"Oh! I'm sure I can, Jim, of that have I no doubt," replied Catherine with a cheeky wink. She then indicated the door and guided Sara out.

That evening, Sara Sidle was sitting waiting to go onstage, looking back over her day. She and Catherine had spent the whole day practicing moves that she could use in her pole-dancing act. Despite the previous evening's events the two ladies had got on well, surprising each other with the ease that they worked together.

Sara had been shocked, and a little disappointed if she was honest; to hear that Catherine was married and the mother of a young girl. She may have only been 24 years of age, but Sara Sidle knew when she felt attraction for another and she had thought that she knew when she felt attraction that was reciprocated. Last night the magnetism between the two of them had been palpable; she would never have dared to buy a stranger a drink as she had done without the belief that something was shared.

Smiling inwardly she put that thought squarely to the back of her mind, Catherine was unavailable and she had a job to do. Hearing her cue she went out onto the stage to work the crowd as she had been taught.

At the end of her act Sara was pleased with her efforts. As she watched the crowd she was disappointed to see no signs of Catherine Willows. Deep down she knew she was being unrealistic, Catherine had a life to lead, a life that surely prevented attendance at a strip club, and yet she had been there last night, and there had been that feeling of connection. The young brunette sighed, she had a criminal to catch and she needed to concentrate, worrying about something that could never be was not going to help at all.

"So, how did it go?" were the first words Catherine said, as Sara walked into the break room the following morning.

Grinning ruefully, Sara answered, "It was ok, I guess. Kinda thought you might be there to give me some support."

"Oh Sara, I couldn't. Eddie was working and Lindsey's too young to leave. Anyway, you're a big girl now, you can do this."

"I know Catherine, it's just... it's just... ah nothing," Sara's words trailed off as she realized just what she was saying and doing.

Catherine caught her hand, "I know Sara, I do know." In truth there had been only one thing that had kept her from the strip club and that had been her tiny daughter, there was nothing in this world that would stop her protecting and caring for her child, not even her fear for the safety of Sara Sidle. Smiling softly she once again took the younger woman's hand, "Come on. If I can't be there with you, I damn well need to make sure you know all the tricks of the trade to keep you safe."

That was all she could do.

The next few weeks passed by in a whirl. For some reason CSI was very busy and Catherine was hard pressed to find any free time to be with her husband and daughter, never mind keep track of what was happening in Sara's case.

Sara was very busy too. She was working as many shifts as possible at the strip club. She was determined to be the officer on duty when the man responsible for the kidnap and sale of a number of young women attacked once again. So far she and her colleague had had no obvious suspects appear. The young San Franciscan police officer had had a number of men who had paid to see her dance more than once but so far nothing concrete to tie anybody to their investigations.

Although Catherine was very busy, she had made time, unbeknownst to the young policewoman, to call into the strip club and watch a few of her performances. On each occasion she had been disappointed to see that Sara and the original sultry blonde dancer were more than close. It appeared that at 9pm each evening Sara and the exotic blonde shared a quiet lap dance together.

On one of her visits, Catherine watched the couple for a full ten minutes. It still looked to be the blonde that was the aggressor but Catherine couldn't deny that the young brunette seemed more than happy with the situation. A streak of pure jealousy ripped through the older CSI's heart at the witnessed sight. She knew she had no right to be jealous but it didn't stop the feeling. She knew she was too old, too married, too much attached to her child, and too much unavailable, and yet something inside her was attracted to the brunette, and so desperately wanted Sara to feel the same attraction.

Finally, towards the end of Sara's third week at the strip club, the police officers got a break. Sara's dance colleague had been paid for a lap dance on the previous four nights and had felt something decidedly fishy at the man's attentions. She couldn't quite put her finger on the problem but she was suspicious enough to put out a few traces on his lifestyle and had warned Sara to be extra careful and watchful of the man until further information came through.

The very night Sara's colleague warned her to keep a look out for the suspect was the night she happened to catch sight of Catherine watching her. Already on tenterhooks that the case might be coming to a climax, and nervous that she might come into contact with the suspect, she approached Catherine's table quietly, hoping to get a few words of encouragement from her friend.

"Hey Catherine. What are you doing here? Can we talk, please?"

But Catherine, only seeing Sara exit the private area close on the heels of the younger blonde woman, missed the quiet entreaty in Sara's voice and snapped back, her jealous frustration throwing the words out without thought. "What the hell was that, Sara? What're you doing with that young hussy? I thought I told you never to let go of the damn pole. What the…"

Shocked, the fiery tempered Sara snapped back, equally without thought, "What the fuck?"

"Exactly, what the fuck were you doing in there? Fucking?" retorted Catherine before she realized what she had said and a look of contrition flittered across her face.

In her rage Sara missed the remorse on the older woman's face, turning on her heel, she spat back at the blonde CSI, "Leave me alone, Cat. Who I fuck and don't fuck is none of your damn business." With those angry words she was gone.

The following morning Catherine was surprised when Brass called her into his office as she was leaving.

"I just wanted to thank you for taking Sidle under your wing, whatever you taught her certainly worked. That's one bright kid San Francisco police have on their books, and with her science background she'd make a damn good CSI, you know," enthused Detective Brass.

Catherine was astounded, "Huh? Jim what are you talking about?"

"Sara, caught their perp last night, just like that. It seems her colleague, you know that blonde hotty that shares lap dances with the delightful Miss S…"

Catherine interrupted, all she heard were the words 'blonde hotty' and 'colleague', "Jim, hold up a minute. Blonde hotty? Colleague?"

"Yeah. Didn't you know, Sara's been working alongside a Federal agent already trained in this sort of thing. They've been using an attraction between themselves as cover for passing information. If you don't mind me saying so, it's a job that might have held an attraction for even little old me." Jim laughed at his words, but stopped as soon as he saw that Catherine wasn't laughing with him.

Catherine was too deep in thought for a moment. After her little explosion of jealousy the night before to find out it was all an act in the name of catching the perp was too much for the CSI to take in. She covered up her thoughts by focusing back on the case, "So, Sara's closed it out. How? Why?"

"Last night, she was warned about a guy that investigations were starting on. He paid Sara for a lap dance and while she was leaning over him she smelt that his breath had a sweet sickly tang to it. She remembered that one of the guy's victims had evidence of Insulin on her clothes and that she had been a non-diabetic. Anyway, long story short, Sidle knew that diabetics use Insulin, and diabetics often have ketoacidosis breath, which is fruity smelling. She put two and two together and came up with 5. Luckily for her it appears, she managed to disarm him in the process of attempting to inject her with a sedative. She…"

Catherine just stared as Jim rambled on; Sara had solved her case, which probably meant she would be returning to San Francisco forthwith. All she could think was that she had upset Sara and needed to set things right before the young woman left. Zoning back in on Jim's words her thought was confirmed.

"… So, it seems Sara will be going back to San Francisco first thing tomorrow morning, she's asked if she might work one last shift at the strip club to say goodbye to one or two people. Her bosses trust her enough to say yes. She'll be calling in here before to say her goodbyes this end if you want to be around."

Catherine nodded her acknowledgment and left Jim's office slowly.

She had something to plan.

That evening Catherine waited for Sara to show. Having already arranged with Gil that she might need to leave at a moment's notice she was hoping that Sara might join her for a goodbye and apologetic drink. She knew that Lindsey was safe with her sister and that Eddie thought she was working the night, so she was ready to heal her bridges with Sara.

Unfortunately, a case had come in and Catherine had been out in the field. Arriving back at HQ around 8pm she was sure that she would have missed her opportunity to address the young police officer. Dejected, Catherine was concentrating over some crime scene photographs when she heard feet approaching in the corridor and the unmistakable voice of Sara, looking up her eyes locked with the passing young woman.

As she was about to follow, Warrick stopped her with a question. By the time she'd answered and made her excuses ten minutes had passed by. Catherine ran into the locker room to be met by an eerie silence. She dropped to the bench, shoulders slumped in defeat only to spot a small handwritten note attached to her locker door.

'9pm. Last dance at the club. Please, be there.'

The two statuesque women circled each other warily. Now a decision of sorts had been made both women were unsure what could or should happen next.

Not twenty minutes before Catherine had entered the dingy strip-club to glance around in silent anticipation. Ordering a drink, she took a seat to await the appearance of Sara. Suddenly the house lights had dimmed and a tune began playing in the background. The CSI 2's ears pricked up; it was the tune Catherine had used while teaching Sara the rudiments of pole dancing. Watching the stage she gasped as Sara sidled onto the stage.

Slowly, she wrapped her long lithe legs around the pole and leaned back seductively. Then in perfect time to the music she dropped to the floor and back up again, as she moved she swung her hips from side to side and twisted her head gently and intently over first her left and then her right shoulder. Constantly rising and falling, Sara performed a perfect parody of a slow, graceful fuck. As Catherine watched the subtle eye flashes Sara sent to the few watching men, she couldn't decide whether to be jealous as hell or pleased as punch that she had taught her so well. In the end she decided to enjoy the show and the unwelcome arousal for what it was worth: Sara's goodbye to her.

Mesmerized Catherine could only stare as Sara was joined by her blonde partner in crime; the woman Catherine now knew to be another police officer. The sultry blonde officer spent two dips on the pole with her "lover" then left, leaving behind a rose in Sara's mouth. As she exited the stage, Catherine was surprised when the blonde caught her eyes and with a wink indicated that Catherine should approach the stage.

Looking back to Sara, Catherine saw that the dance had changed to one of a come-here-and-get-me dance of seduction. Taking a leaf out of her own book of life, she took a leap into the unknown. Locking eyes with the young brunette on the stage, she opened her wallet and took out a C note, then walked slowly forward. As she reached the stage, Sara left go of the pole, and turned towards the older blonde. Mimicking the slow up and down movement on the pole, she shimmied in front of Catherine, her eyes holding a look of such desire that Catherine couldn't have resisted even if she'd wanted to. She placed her C note in Sara's garter, then turned on her heel.

Sara jumped gracefully from the stage and grabbed Catherine's hand. Turning the woman back towards her, her expressive brown eyes asked a question. Receiving an infinitesimal nod in answer she gave Catherine the rose and took her other hand to lead her to the private dance area at the rear. The applause from the watching few was explosive as they thought they had been privy to a new erotic routine; Sara graced them with a final bow, then followed Catherine into the booth.

Now, still slowly circling each other with nervous energy the silence was unbearable. Their eyes locked in smoldering intensity, the sexual tension growing exponentially. After coming this far Catherine was torn; could she follow through with what her body demanded when her head was telling her it was so, so wrong. As if spotting the inner turmoil and fearing she may not have what she desired, Sara took the decision out of Catherine's hands. Pushing Catherine down into the plush seating, the beautiful young woman climbed astride Catherine's lap, and slowly leant down to take her mouth in a gentle kiss of query. Hearing no refusal Sara deepened the kiss, probing firmly with her tongue, demanding entrance. The kiss that followed was incendiary as the weeks of pent-up frustration threatened to break free. Suddenly, Sara pulled back. Looking down into clear blue eyes heavy with a desire she had never seen before, Sara whispered hoarsely, "Is this what you want, Catherine, me off the pole?"

Freed from the shackles of her lust Catherine looked into the eyes, equally heavy with desire, and began to rein in her control. Smiling evilly, she pushed Sara off her lap and said, "No!"

Sara's face dropped and immediate tears of hurt, anger, frustration, threatened to spill, only to be stopped by the radiant, loving smile on the older woman's face. Catherine smiled again, reached out with her hand, and whispered seductively, "I want you, Sara Sidle."

Leading her out of the strip club, Catherine called for a waiting cab, and hoped that Sara had received her none to subtle meaning.

Once in Sara's hotel room, finally released from the shackles of indecision, the older woman took charge. Pushing Sara hard against the locked room door she proceeded to kiss Sara hard and demandingly, using her tongue and her body to drive Sara to distraction. Long minutes were spent sharing desire through rampant nips and bites to hot succulent lips, ear lobes and long sleek necks. As both women were losing all sense of reality, not knowing where one kiss finished and another started, Sara managed to draw Catherine towards her couch. Sitting down with a thump, the dazed brunette pulled the beautiful blonde into her lap and dared to plead, "Dance for me, Catherine."

Smiling, Catherine looked down into the ebony eyes and held the look. Remembering her favorite tune she began to hum softly. Swaying her hips she stood, licked her lips enticingly, and slowly ran her hands up across her own torso. All the time moving to the tune in her head, Catherine made love to her own body. Running her hands gently around her own breasts, she began to circle the nipples until they stood out firm with arousal.

Sara was transfixed on the woman so wantonly dancing for her alone and couldn't stop the gasp that escaped as she watched Catherine draw her blouse over her head, flinging it in the corner. Catherine's lacy red underwear, carefully chosen in case this happened, held two beautiful prizes that Sara was desperate to touch. Reaching forward, her hands were knocked away by the beautiful woman in front of her, who tweaked her own nipples firmly before turning away from Sara to sashay her hips from side to side.

Catherine slid her own hands over the cheeks of her ass and bent forward, ostensibly to remove her boots but secretly to offer a seductive look back through her spread legs towards her soon to be lover. Footwear removed she turned back to face Sara, noticing the intense look of arousal on the watching woman's face and neck.

Lowering the zip of her jeans, she drew them slowly down her legs, making sure Sara saw the way she caressed her own calves. Kicking them towards the corner she planted her leg up onto Sara's lap and indicated for Sara to remove her silks. Reverently, Sara did so, leaning forward to kiss each knee as she did, only to receive a shake of her head from Catherine.

Sara slumped back once again entranced by the vision of beauty in front of her. Matching red bra and high leg panties completed the vision of gorgeous alabaster skin and firm muscles that rippled invitingly as the blonde danced her desire for Sara without words.

At last, Catherine climbed onto Sara's lap. Drawing her hands down over Sara's breasts in the briefest of caresses, she looked into Sara's eyes again. Seeing only acceptance she stroked Sara more firmly though her black lace bra, the only remnants of Sara's earlier escapades. Leaning down, she licked the nipples standing to attention beneath the lacey material. Another gasp escaped Sara's lips as a bolt of electricity shot straight to her already soaking core. Unable to stop herself, she pulled Catherine's hand to the apex of her thighs and thrust her hips forward to gain some degree of a contact.

Driven by her own desire Catherine allowed her fingers to push the flimsy material to one side and drew her fingers gently though the wetness that was her doing. The groan that left Sara's lips this time was the final straw for Catherine's own lust. Unable to resist further, she plundered Sara's lips and maintained the burning intensity as she stood to remove her own underwear, before positioning her burning center over Sara's slightly raised hips.

Taking Sara's right hand she sucked the long fingers into her mouth and ran her tongue lovingly up and down and around the digits, sucking in a feral rhythm. Then, knowing she was more than ready, she placed the fingers at the opening of her sex and dipped imploringly. The groan that left the older woman's mouth as Sara obliged was base in its extreme.

Sara rose up in a position of worship to take Catherine's breast into her mouth. Lavishing loving attention on each breast in turn, she continued a slow steady rhythm with her hands, thrusting two, and then three fingers deep inside her lover. As Sara continued to lovingly suckle, Catherine began to rock her hips in time with the thrusts, sinking down further requesting silently that Sara took her even deeper. Adding a fourth finger and pushing as hard as she dare, Sara bit down firmly on the nipple in her mouth, while touching Catherine's throbbing clit. Catherine slumped forward to bite down hard on Sara's shoulder before rising up into her overwhelming orgasm. Screaming her release, she kissed Sara hard, and allowed the younger woman to ride out the pleasure as she wanted. Sated for a moment she rested her head on the brunette's shoulder and whispered non-sensical thanks as small after-shocks rumbled at Sara's still enveloped caressing fingers. Slowly Sara removed her hand and licked the juices off her trembling fingers.

Gently Catherine climbed off Sara's lap to kneel at her feet. Smiling up into the ebony eyes she mouthed her first words since leaving the club, "My turn."

Seeing the brown eyes turn black at her words, Catherine drew Sara's panties slowly down her legs, kissing every inch of skin on the way down and on the way up, to finally come to rest with her chin on Sara's neatly trimmed triangle of brown. Licking her lips suggestively, she sucked Sara's long fingers back into her mouth to taste the vague hint of her own juice. Then, quickly, she let go of Sara's fingers and pushed the young woman's knees far apart, moving comfortably into the space.

Without waiting for acknowledgement she dipped her head down to take her first taste of the beautiful woman that was Sara Sidle. Plunging her tongue in deep to the sweet, salty liquid, Catherine sighed in contentment and was immediately rewarded with more flowing juices. The older woman probed and lapped at the red-hot lower lips of her lover, suckling none too gently on the stiff, swollen nub at their apex.

Sara continued to groan and was unable to stop the urgent rise and fall of her own hips in time with Catherine's licking. Throwing her head back she grasped Catherine's hair tightly, as the first wave of her orgasm exploded. Catherine rode out this first orgasm never ceasing her deep stroking, but slowly allowing Sara to come back down. Just as Sara thought she was being released from her height, Catherine added the tip of her middle finger and swirled it slowly around Sara's depths. One 'come here' motion was all it took to send Sara straight over a higher edge than before, Catherine's name was stolen from her lips in a scream of release.

Catherine drank her fill and suckled gently and expertly till Sara came back to earth, before climbing gently back into Sara's lap to cuddle and rest.

Long moments passed in perfect silence, both women aware of what had just happened and how much it had actually meant to each one. Both women were also aware that tonight was really about goodbye and were reluctant to break the moment to come back to a now dreaded reality. Finally, Catherine lifted her head to break the silence. Chuckling, she whispered, "So my dear Sara, was that what you wanted?"

The answer was immediate but again very much unexpected, "No!" Caressing Catherine's cheek, Sara smiled gently, "No Catherine, I wanted, want, all of you. I lo..."

Before she could say the words Catherine stopped her with a finger to her lips, "Don't say it, Sara, please. You know we can't do this, whatever we feel. You must go back home and I have my life here. I'm sorry, but that's our life, we have to live it."


Again the older woman stopped Sara's words, as she murmured, "No Sara. Please, let's sleep and enjoy this. Let's remember this. Please."

Giving in, tears streamed down Sara's cheeks, as she pulled the woman that had stolen her heart to her chest. Feeling that Catherine's cheeks were as wet as her own, the two women shared sobs and cuddles till an exhausted sleep finally overcame them.

Rising together in silence, the two lovers dressed together, sharing an occasional gentle, chaste kiss of love.

Eventually, Catherine was ready. Standing in front of Sara, holding both her hands in her own, the blonde CSI was reluctant to leave, knowing she had to she whispered a very quiet, "Thank you, Darling."

Sara's breath hitched as she once more realized what she was losing; she spoke without thought, "I could ask for a transfer. I could stay." Then the words disappeared and her words drifted off, "I... I... I know. It just can't be. God!"

"I'm sorry, Babe. What was it you said the night we met, 'Another time, another place, maybe?'" Then with a sad grin she added, "I'll be waiting," before turning on her heel and reaching for the doorknob.

As Catherine turned to wave goodbye, Sara answered firmly, "I'll be waiting too, just don't ever forget me."

Their eyes met for one final time in an instant of unspoken acknowledgment of all that had passed.

For what seemed like ten minutes neither moved a muscle, they just stared into expressive eyes. Both women had tears rolling down their cheeks. Finally, Catherine mouthed the words, "I won't," then turned and walked away without ever looking back.

The End

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