DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS.
CHALLENGE: Submitted as part of the Sara/Sofia 'Let's Get Sassy' ficathon.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SEQUEL: To The Cities of Sin

Back Home to You
By Shatterpath


I'm exhausted, but that's certainly nothing new. The drive out to Pioche and back is a long one and I'm happy to not drag myself out to the boonies on a regular basis. But we saved little Cassie and brought three murderous teens to justice, so it was worth it.

Nick's story about finding Cassie, white as death, the remains of her gum drop trail still clenched in her fist, throat bloody, no sound but his own breathing and the chorus of frogs is haunting. His faith in her survival paid off and I hope that this success will help him lay his own demons to rest.

Setting the heavy box of evidence down for a moment, I scrub my face with my hands before getting back to business.

"Hear you caught a rough one."

I'm startled by the voice, but manage to not drop the box that I've nearly hoisted into its final resting place. Roughly, I shove it into its slot before turning. "Oh my god," escapes me before I can swallow it and the voice's owner smiles thinly.

"You should see the other guy," Sofia jokes with little humor and I push past my initial reaction to get a better look at her ravaged face and bandaged hands. She's dressed casually in khaki pants and a thin-strapped t-shirt that later will make me smile over the cartoon blue flamingo stenciled across her chest. Beside its crooked beak is spelled out, 'Miami', and I put together some of what must have happened.

"But… you were on vacation," I note idiotically, as if horrible things don't happen to people on vacation… The irrepressible investigator in me notes the broken blood vessels in the blue eyes, casting them almost violet, and the delicious and enticing golden cast of her lightly tanned skin.

I do my best to shove the reaction down into its Pandora's Box and try to focus.

"Yeah. Some guys in a bar wouldn't take no for an answer."

Flooded with concern that might not be appropriate for this woman I supposedly barely know or care about, I move close and my hand rises as though to touch the wicked bruising on her face. "Are you okay?"

There's a strange moment, where Sofia shrugs and her body language makes like she's going to duck away… but she stops and fires me an intense look that ripples across my nerves like a touch. Baffled and magnetized, I can only stand still; hand still half-raised and watch her red stained eyes. "I'm… okay," she hedges, obviously fighting with herself. "But I gotta make good on a promise to a friend."

"I don't understand."

"Can I buy you breakfast?"

++ Sofia ++

Color me shocked that I actually had the cojones to ask. Guess all that good sex turned out to be a good way around my reluctance after all… Color me even more shocked when, after a startled moment, Sara actually colored lightly, her expression shy, and agreed to do just that.

Now I'm in the parking lot, fidgeting like the class nerd who's scored a date with the head cheerleader and my mind is wandering.

It took a trip to Florida to make me notice the light here is unusual, brassy and sharp. It was warm and golden and kind of sensual in Miami. There was something almost unreal about it, like an oversaturated painting or a brightly colored comic book. Eyes closed, I tilt my head to the familiar brassy sun and let the wind soothe my injured skin and the nervous buzz in my ears.


Sara's voice startles me from my zone and I nearly knock myself on my ass trying to get a grip. There's a flash of pain as Sara grabs my flailing hand, keeping me upright. "Brain's still on vacation," I joke lamely and Sara smiles. It's a warm smile, one that I'm not entirely certain that I've ever seen before, because I would remember, not the small, tight near-smirks that she usually doles out. This is my brain, caught up in this nervous dance…

Sara so very gently stroking my battered knuckles with her thumb is only making my brain stupider.

How can such a simple caress shatter me so easily? The internal question is merely redundant, being with Calleigh proved that. My experiences with that woman were earth-shattering, and while I really like Calleigh, there is so much more with this mercurial brunette that haunts my heart.

Smiling helplessly like the lovesick fool that I am, I gesture towards her car and try and make my voice work. After a squeaky start that actually deepens her smile, I finally manage something that resembles proper English. "Could… could you drive? My coordination still sucks." A wiggle of my trapped hand illustrates my point and Sara startles a bit, pink once again coloring her smooth skin.

Could it be?

Could she really be as nervous as me?

++ Sara ++

I'm so embarrassed! Stroking her damaged hand like… like…

Like what?

This woman's suddenly awkward charm is completely disarming and absolutely sweet. If I felt weird about the breakfast invitation, the awkwardness is bleeding away like the morning's fading coolness. Abruptly, I realize that I'm still holding her hand, caressing the damage painted red and blue and faded green in her flesh.

Quietly, we step apart and climb into my Prius. "Any requests?" I ask quietly and Sofia shrugs where she is scrubbing both hands over her face. Gingerly, of course.

"Surprise me," she deadpans and then smiles almost wickedly at me. "Just nothing too shocking, y'know? Miami did that enough to me, thanks."

Something warm and squirming deep in my belly fights for recognition at that enticing expression on her bruised but still lovely face. I use the quiet drive to gather my thoughts, sorting through them just as I would with evidence at work.

By the time we reach my favorite place to eat, I have as many questions as I did when the soul-searching began. "Do you like omelets?"

"I better," Sofia sasses, "since this place is called 'the Egg Plantation'."

"Smartass," I mumble and climb from the car to her chuckling. "I could just leave you here. Bet you wouldn't get far all beat up like this."

Her blue eyes gleam crafty, her smile mischievous. "Then I'd have to track you down later, hmm? I can't imagine that stranding an officer of the peace is a good idea."

++ Sofia ++

The sudden playfulness is a mystery and I'm thrilled. A slow, teasing smile transforms Sara's normally serious face and makes her dark eyes twinkle in the morning light. "Oh, I'm sure you can find your way, detective."

Am I as enchanted and horny as I think I am?

The omelet place smells fabulous and my stomach grumbles crankily in hunger. The audible sound earns a chuckle from my companion, who snatches up a donut from the bakery counter and holds it out with a significant look. The 'cops and donuts' joke doesn't need words and I give her a mockingly sour look. As it's later in the morning, the place is just empty enough that we get a table quickly and I marvel at the endless list of stuff that these people will fry into an omelet. The donut and some coffee shuts up my beast of a belly and we're left waiting for our orders.

"Let me see your hand again," Sara demands out of nowhere and I obey with no hesitation. With the intense focus that makes her such a great CSI, she pours over the cuts and bruises redefining my flesh. "Someone didn't do a very good job with these."

I can't help but laugh at the comment. "Yeah, Alexx pretty much said the same thing." Sara's look of confusion makes my throat tickle with more laughter, but I swallow it. "After the Miami CSI took my samples, because a guy fell down and died in the fight, they sent me to the ER. Later, I went over to their HQ to thank them in person, and their ME was horrified at the job 'the hacks at the hospital night shift' and I quote. The gouge on my face she cleaned up herself."

"So they took good care of you?"

The question is innocent, but all I can remember is the two and half days where I had been lucky enough to monopolize their sensual ballistics expert. That was great fun, but even now, I wish it had been the beautiful woman sitting opposite me.

"Yeah," I try to say in a normal tone of voice. "They took good care of me."

++ Sara ++

That morning starts something beautiful. Taking Sofia home led to revelations, which led to kisses, which led to several more wonderful dates, which led me here. Sleepily, I stretch and wallow in how good my body feels. The memories of kisses over what felt like every inch of my skin, her gentle hands skimming my shape, have me happy and warm. In return I'd feasted at this singular woman, learning so much as she taught me, and I in turn extrapolated on my own.

Loneliness has always been such a part of me. The offer of love and companionship offered by Sofia is a startling change. Sure, I agonized and fought it, but really, what's the point? You only live once and the familiar loneliness is starting to feel like a burden. Sure, there are no guarantees, but she is well worth the chance.

Sleepily, Sofia squirms in her sleep and makes a noise that is half relaxed and half painful. The way she lays on her side is crimping one of the dulling contusions on her ribs and I reach out to rest my hands on her silky skin.

"Come here, sweetie," I whisper and Sofia willingly allows me to coax her onto her back to lie more comfortably. Tenderly, I sweep away blonde tresses from her relaxed face and ponder her, and me; I ponder us. After a few moments, her eyelids flutter and open to watch me hazily. Then she smiles and all I can do is helplessly echo the expression.

"Hi," she whispers softly.

"Hi," I whisper back.

Certainly this is only the beginning, but as she tugs my head down for a leisurely kiss, all I can think is that is a hell of a beginning!

The End

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