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Are We There Yet?
By Jocelyn Brant


"Did I ever tell you that when I was a kid, my dad would drag me all over Pennsylvania in a rented RV, which by the way isn't as glamorous as one might assume, just so he could say that we bonded." I glanced over at Sara, watched her one hand grip the steering wheel tightly, and the other hand tap gently against the outside of the driver-side door. She was more relaxed then I'd seen her at work lately, but she still wasn't quite, 'Let's talk about boys and The OC like best girlfriends!' To be honest, I think I'd be appalled if she said that. After all, what was The OC but nothing more than a soap opera for horny teens? And the idea of discussing 'boys' isn't exactly my first choice of activities to do with Sara; then again, neither was going to Ohio for a field training course, like we were.

"Why Pennsylvania?" she asked, breaking me from my reverie, before thoughts of what I'd prefer to be doing with Sara had the time to materialize in my head.

"He wanted me to be informed of the heritage of this great country. Or torture, I hadn't figured out which." She glanced over at me, her lips slightly upturned, then turned her head back to the road in front of us. "It's not as though I don't love my dad, but dragging an eight year old around the 'keystone' state in order to traverse the Civil war trails isn't what I would call bonding."

"'The Keystone state'?"

"So I learned a few things along the way," I grumbled.

"Are you equating your childhood trauma of visiting civil war era monuments to our little road trip?" She looked amused, but I didn't want to take the bait and risk saying something stupid that might erase the amusement from her face.

"No," I sighed, relaxing more into my seat. "I'm just making conversation."

"You don't have to try so hard, Sofia. Sometimes silence is just 'quiet' with less noise." Now it was my turn to look at her with amusement.

"Did you come up with that gem all on your own, or did you hear that over your police scanner one night?" She looked like she wanted to snap back with something harsh, and I probably would deserve it after that barb about the police scanner. Greg shared that factoid with me once when I made a comment about a lack of a life when becoming a CSI. I should have been aware that the anecdote would probably start some ill-willed sparks in the brunette. But she kept silent; her face returning to it's near blank expression of earlier.

"I came up with it all on my own."

We'd been quiet for so long, I didn't even expect to hear anything, and certainly not that comment, but when I looked over at her, to see what kind of state she might be in, she had her eyes forward and her lips pursed, struggling to keep the grin, that threatened her mouth, from forming.

I chuckled softly, and then glanced back out the window. The sun reflected off the moist foliage that adorned the side of the highway, and I actually found myself appreciative of the browns, reds, and gold colors that were symbolic in many respects of the season that had swiftly come. Leaves and dead grass never fascinated me like it did some people. I guess I saw so much death in my every day life, that even the death brought on by Fall was something I disliked. But at that very moment, I found myself imagining an alternate universe where I could jump into the piles of freshly raked leaves; hear the giggle of a child, my child, enjoying the crisp crunch of leaves under foot, and bask in the shared happiness with my lover, and our life.

I think that particular scenario was the ending to a romance novel I once read.

I rolled my eyes at my musings. Why would I want that kind of a life, anyway? I had everything I wanted with the one I had now. Sure, I wasn't involved with anyone, but I have never defined myself by another, and I'm not about to beat myself up over being single now.

"Amen," I muttered under my breath.

"Amen to what?" came the reply from the driver-side.

"Just my internal dialogue."

"You have an internal dialogue?" Sara countered with an incredulous smile.

"Ha. Ha," I returned sarcastically. "As I've explained before it helps me go through a scene. We all have our quirks. Grissom has his riddles, Catherine has her sultry one-liners, and you have your dead-pan expressions."

"Wait, you think Catherine's one liners are 'sultry', and my expressions are just… 'dead pan'?"

"Well, what was I supposed to say? You purse your beautiful mouth, and your eyes speak volumes of the thoughts churning behind their depths." My voice returns to normal from the 'seductress drawl' of previous, "Not exactly my style."

Her right eyebrow arched towards her hairline, and I could see she was waiting for further explanation, likely for what I've just said, more so than anything else. But she'll just have to keep waiting, because I'm done with voicing my thoughts. Anything further might get me in a lot of trouble.

We're quiet again, and she shifts around uncomfortably in her seat, replacing the steering hand with the tapping hand, and laying the tapping hand on her thigh, to continue the now erratic beat of this new silent tune. I find myself compelled once more to fill the silence, and I open my mouth to blather on about something I once read in a forensic journal, when I feel her free hand capture my left, sufficiently putting a stop to any speech.

Or thought process, for that matter.

Her fingers slide between mine and I turn my palm up, to intertwine our fingers. I stare at the entanglement for a moment, and then glance up at Sara. Her eyes are still forward on the road, and she seems stoic, but I can see her jaw working, clenching, trying to fight off, I assume, the need to pull away.

This action is supposed to tell me something, and I feel dumb, but I can't for the life of me figure out what she's trying to say. I squeeze her hand, and am delighted to feel her squeeze back, gently. Suddenly the daydream from earlier resumes playing in my head, and this time my lover is Sara, and the child has dark hair and wide eyes, and that same defiant nose that I find so enticing on Sara.

I still roll my eyes at these fantasies. I really don't want that life, not exactly. I can't imagine being that domesticated that I'd have a house with a yard, a picket fence, a wife, and piles of grass. Who's going to rake those leaves? Sara doesn't strike me as the sort who would do that other than for the sheer purpose of getting them out of her way, and I'm certainly not going to rake them; I live in a condo for that exact reason.

We're turning off the highway, taking one of the exits into Columbus, and she releases my hand briefly to make the transition without error. My hand feels chilled without Sara's to keep it warm, but I only have to wait a moment before her hand returns to mine, and her fingers seek out the spaces between my own. This is companionable, and I'm glad for once that I've got nothing to say. I think any chatting might break this spell we're in, and who's to say it will last beyond the confines of this vehicle, but right now, it's comfortable. I imagine that this is what old lovers do when their in a car for several hours.

Just hold hands, and let the hours seep by.

Sara's thumb is lightly stroking the back of my hand, and I don't want to look down, and act surprised by her actions. I pretend like we do this all the time and that this isn't the turning point of our combined history, so I revel in the feeling that the pad of her thumb creates under its path, in silence.

I catch something in the reflection of the window, and focus my eyes to look at it. Sara has turned her attention from the road, and is now watching me. The image is skewed and blurry, but I swear she's gazing at me with a lovelorn expression. Wishful thinking? But maybe not. She drops her eyes to our hands for a second, then back to the road.

I've never been a risk taker, and there is likely a reason for that, but sometimes I've just got to say, 'Sofia Curtis, just fuckin' do it!' Right now is one of those moments. I turn my head back to her, and with practiced ease, and a deep, cleansing breath, I leap.

"Can I kiss you, Sara?"

Her head snaps towards me comically, and I'm reminded of a moment from some cartoon I watched as a child. She looks shocked, her eyes are wider than normal, and she's stopped stroking my hand with her thumb. I squeeze her hand, raise my chin defiantly, and don't break eye contact with her. If I'm going to hear "no", I'm going to hear it with dignity. I can kick my own ass, in private, later on.

Her eyes search through mine for a second, before returning back to the road, her posture a bit more rigid, but she looks like she's trying to relax. I continue to stare at her, my defiance deflating a bit with each passing second. I finally feel her tug our joined hands towards her, resting them on her thigh, and resuming the soft stroking of her thumb.

"Not while I'm driving."

I barely resist the urge to grin broadly, as I turn my eyes back out the window to watch the buildings of Columbus pass on our way into the city. When I'm sure my face is properly hidden from her eyes, I let the grin manifest for a moment on my lips, and witness its reflection in the window.

Turning back towards her, I say as seriously as possible, "Are we there yet?" Her eyes remain forward, but her lips purse slightly, trying to contain her own grin. And when we finally see our turn off, that will lead us to the hotel we're staying at for the duration of this trip, I swear I hear her breath hitch in anticipation.

No, seriously, are we there yet?

The End

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