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Loving the Buckeye State
"Tell me again why did we get picked to go to a boring police procedures conference in the middle of winter in Ohio?" Sofia asked her traveling companion as they got out of the cab in front of their hotel, trying, fruitless, to avoid the slushy brown puddle at the curb.
Sara gave the blonde detective a quick grin as they carried their bags toward the door, where the doorman finally noticed their plight and came to their rescue with a baggage cart. "Catherine has a kid, Warrick has a wife, Nick and Brass came to the last one, Greg's too junior and Grissom is too senior. Thus, here we are."
"In the lovely land of what is this place known for, anyway? Corn?"
"Cows? Cow-tipping?" Sofia speculated as they made their way through the lobby, loosening their coats as the warm, slightly steamy air that smelled vaguely of chlorine and cleanser enveloped them.
"It's the Buckeye State," Sara supplied helpfully.
"Brown, inedible nuts, or so I've read."
"You read up? On Ohio?" Sofia's voice carried over the other voices of people waiting in the check-in line, earning her a dirty look or two.
"Yup," Sara confirmed as she gazed over the heads of other people in the line, trying to estimate how long the line would take.
"You are entirely too cheerful," muttered the detective, frowning over at the brunette. "Very unlike you."
Sara shrugged, a slight smile still gracing her lips. "I get to sleep at night, plus a change of scenery, and an expense account. Nothing wrong with that for a few days. Besides, I haven't really seen a good snow since I moved from Boston." Her face split into a wider grin again. "I like snow."
"You mean you like frigid temperatures, grey skies, and slush," Sofia confirmed in a flat, monotone voice that implied that she thought her companion was crazy.
Sara didn't seem to have heard her companion. "After we get checked in, do you want to take a walk?"
"A walk? Outside?" Sofia asked incredulously.
Sara just rolled her eyes and moved up in the line. After they checked in (sharing a room, 'cheap bastards' muttered Sofia, earning her another dirty look from the clean-cut receptionist), Sara just put her suitcase in the door and headed out for her walk before it got too dark, leaving the blonde detective alone with her thoughts. The weather was not the only reason for her bad mood; no, the other reason was the unusually chipper brunette who was traveling with her. While she didn't mind spending time with Sara at workmost of the timespending a full three days with a woman whose barely concealed jealousy had made her few months on the nightshift at the Vegas crime lab an annoyance at the very least was not her idea of fun. Besides, it hadn't been Sofia's fault that Grissom had been interested in her, not that the brunette CSI had ever considered that.
Sara picked that moment to burst back into the hotel room, bringing the chill of the outside with her as she excitedly explained that the doorman had recommended a wine bar nearby for dinner. "They have live jazz tonight," Sara told the blonde as she quickly unpacked her suitcase, and Sofia decided that since Sara was obviously trying to be friendly, the least she could do was lighten up and try a bit harder herself. And she hadn't realized that they shared an interest in jazz.
Later that night, after two large glasses of passable Cabernet, Sofia even had to admit she was enjoying herself. The two of them were seated in a comfortable leather sofa, sipping wine and sampling a variety of appetizers while debating their favorite musicians and movies.
Sara caught Sofia glancing behind her for the third time and finally asked, "What?"
"There's a couple " she indicated a table, "making out."
"They're both female."
Sara glanced back herself before turning back to the detective, "So?"
"Nothing, you just don't see that every day in Vegas."
"No, Vegas is definitely a very het city."
"Het?" Sofia asked, impressed in spite of herself. Sara had a reputation as being somewhat of a prude, and this was a surprise.
"I lived for a couple of years in San Fran," Sara answered with a shrug. "But we're in the Short North, which is a queer part of Columbus."
"You read that too?"
Sara gave her an odd look. "Yeah. And I, uh, noticed the fifteen million rainbow flags on the street."
"All I noticed was the slush."
"And you call yourself a detective," Sara laughed and slapped the detective's knee, and then, indicating their empty glasses, headed back over to the bar, leaving the blonde to puzzle over her behavior. If she hadn't known better, Sofia would have thought that the brunette was flirting with her. Naw, she thought to herself, it's just this odd, un-Sara-like good mood she seems to be in.
"Here." A hand materialized in front of her, holding several wrapped toothpicks. When Sofia looked up, puzzled, Sara explained, "You always have one in your mouth."
Surprised she had noticed, Sofia accepted them without question. "I gave up smoking a few years," she said to explain the habit.
"Really? I thought it was to draw everyone's attention to your mouth."
"What?!" If she had actually taken a sip of her newly-filled glass, Sofia would have spit wine across the bar; as it was, she sloshed a little over the rim as she sat up quickly to stare at her companion.
"Relax, Curtis, I was teasing." Sara glanced around the bar, noticing that the couple at the table behind them was not the only gay couple surrounding them now. "Is this freaking you out? We can go if it's making you uncomfortable."
Sofia shook her head, "No, this is not freaking me out." You, Sara Sidle, on the other hand, are another story all together. "It's just you're awfully different than you usually are at work."
Sara flopped back against the cushions and put her feet up on the coffee table, cradling her glass of wine carefully. "I'm unwinding. And it's just good to be away from the Lab for a few days. Do you know how long it's been since I've taken a vacation? Hell, forget a vacation, a day off?"
"You have an odd definition of vacation," Sofia chided, thinking of the days of boring police procedures ahead, but she understood what Sara meant.
"Away from the lab equals a vacation in my book. And I don't have to pay for anything and I didn't have to do any of the planning."
"Bonus," Sofia agreed in that mild sarcastic tone she used to tease, but the look Sara gave her was serious and contemplative, like there was something she wanted to add to the list, and Sofia recognized it from all the times it had been directed at her when they were in the presence of Grissom, and she just had to add, with more of a sneer to her voice, "And if you had a better traveling companion, it would be perfect."
Sara stared at her for a second before answering, carefully, in an even tone, "I have no complaints about my traveling companion."
"Yeah, well, I'm not Grissom," Sofia snapped, not sure why she said it with such vehemence, not sure why it bothered her so much.
"No," Sara agreed, "no, you're not." She was still staring at her, dark eyes troubled, and that's when Sofia felt a hand brush her knee and saw Sara's mouth lower toward hers.
The kiss was light, chaste, but with a hint of fire, and the shock of it scorched through Sofia like a wildfire. She knew she had to be gaping at the woman on the couch with her like a fool, her mouth moving but no words forthcoming.
"I'm sorry," Sara said, looking away from the blonde detective, "When we get back to the hotel, I'll arrange for another room." She started to rise but Sofia pulled her back down, finding her voice finally, "That's not necessary."
Sara still wasn't looking at her. "I think it probably is."
Sofia reached up, trailed her fingers along the angle of Sara's jaw until the other woman met her eyes. "It really isn't," Sofia asserted again as she slid her hand around to the back of Sara's neck, tangling her fingers in the dark hair to pull her in for another kiss. That was the moment that Sofia Curtis fell in love with small Midwestern cities and the taste of strong red wine on Sara's tongue.
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