DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The Case of the Chicken Pox
By Ann


Part 8

Lily comes into the room before Sara can answer Catherine's question. "Hey, you two, I was thinking about making a light pasta salad. Would you like to try something a little more substantial than soup and crackers, Sara?" Sara's stomach growls on cue causing Catherine to laugh aloud. Sara turns red and replies "That would be wonderful, Lily. I'd like to try to build up my strength."

Lily replies "Great. I'll fix Lindsey some vermicelli. I don't think she'd eat the salad." On the way out of the room she looks directly at Sara and adds "Oh, Catherine. Why did you put those two boxes of oatmeal on the kitchen table? I thought the oatmeal bath was out."

Sara grimaces as Lily's laughter is heard all the way down the hall. Catherine, not understanding the problem, asks "Sara, what is wrong with trying an oatmeal bath? The oats are ground to a fine powder before sprinkling it into the water. It is supposed to provide instant relief for itchy skin."

Sara asks "Catherine, do you remember the floater case we had awhile back? You know the one with the college student where we had to scoop buckets of 'man juice' out of the tub for evidence." Catherine makes a face and nods. Sara continues "Well, your oatmeal bath makes me think about that case. I don't think I could get into the tub with the oatmeal, ground or not. The water would be yucky."

Catherine bursts out laughing. "Yucky? Is that your scientific description?" Sara seriously replies "Think about it, Catherine. The water would be roughly the same color and texture as the floater's bath was." Catherine stops laughing and responds "Yuck."

The four of them make it to Thursday without too many major problems. Sara owes the swear jar $15.00 and Lindsey seems to be on the mend. The two have played games for hours and watched 8 movies. Tomorrow will make day 5 of the isolation period.

Catherine has made an appointment for Lindsey Friday afternoon. The doctor seems to think Lindsey will be able to return to school on Monday, but he wants to check her out to be sure. Lindsey is very excited while Sara remains stoic. Sara's case is progressing very slowly. She still has occasional bouts with fever and she has a perpetual case of tiredness.

After beating Sara two out of the last three games on the computer, Lindsey says "I'm going to miss being with you, Sara. I mean, I'm glad I'll be able to see my friends and all, but I don't want to leave you by yourself next week." Sara smiles and answers "Hey. You'll still see me. We'll still have our outings and maybe your mom can bring you by to see me sometime this weekend or early next week."

Confused, Lindsey answers "What do you mean? Aren't you going to stay here until you're better? You can't go home and be by yourself if you're still sick. You have to stay here and let mom and grandma take care of you."

Catherine stands outside the door listening to the conversation and waiting for Sara's answer. She doesn't have long to wait as she hears "Lindsey, I need to go home. Your mom is a very busy lady. She doesn't have time to take care of me. Besides, she'll need to get back to work soon." Catherine walks away dejected.

Lily looks up from her book to see an upset Catherine go into the kitchen. She marks her place and gets up to see about her daughter. When she walks into the kitchen, she finds Catherine looking out the window into the backyard. "Catherine, what's the matter? You seem upset." Catherine turns with tears in her eyes and replies "I am. Sara plans to leave this weekend. I knew she wouldn't stay if Lindsey got better. She thinks I don't have time for her. She thinks I don't want her around."

Lily moves to Catherine and embraces her. "Catherine, we've talked about this. Sara is not going to be able to take care of herself. Surely, she knows this. You need to make her understand that you want her to stay and you're willing to continue taking care of her."

Catherine lays her head on her mother's shoulder as she replies "She is so hard headed, mom. I don't think there is anything I can say to change her mind. I don't know what to do."

Lily pulls away and takes Catherine's hand leading her to the table. "Okay, here's what we're going to do. You are taking Lindsey to the doctor tomorrow afternoon and I'll be staying here with Sara. I will have a talk with her while you are gone. Maybe I can talk some sense into her."

Catherine agrees and the two begin to plan the evening meal. They deliver the meal to the patients and make small talk. Nothing is mentioned of Lindsey's appointment for the next day. The three have a pleasant conversation with Lindsey occasionally chiming in.

Lily walks to the master bedroom the minute Catherine leaves with Lindsey for the doctor's office. Sara appears to be sleeping, but Lily can now spot when Sara is playing possum. "Sara, do you mind visiting with me for a little while. I'd like to get to know you without everyone else around." Sara's eyes pop open as Lily adds "There's nothing to be nervous about. I just want to talk."

Sara shifts into a sitting position against the headboard. She doesn't say a word, but waits for Lily to initiate the conversation. After a few moments, Lily replies "You know you are still very weak and could relapse without proper care. Catherine's doctor friend thinks you should stay here until at least Monday." Sara shakes her head and says "I have already imposed on you and Catherine for too long as it is. I'll be fine at home. I'll make sure I get plenty of rest."

Lily moves to the side of the bed and sits down. She reaches for Sara's hand and grasps it with her own. "Sara, I'm going to tell you something that is none of my business. Catherine is upset that you are leaving. She is worried about you and she wants you to stay."

Sara is clearly stunned and does not reply. Lily realizing she has Sara's attention continues "What would it hurt to stay a couple of more days? I'll be here to help out, so it's not like you are burdening Catherine. You'll be so much stronger by Monday if you'll continue to let us care for you. What do you say?"

Sara remains silent for several minutes. Lily decides to wait her out so she stays quiet as well. After several more minutes, Sara replies "I appreciate everything you and Catherine have done for me. I would have never been able to care for myself, and I hate to admit it, but I am not feeling very strong at all. I will seriously consider your offer for me to stay."

Lily smiles and pats Sara's hand. "Good. I really think it would be in your best interest to stay here with us. Maybe tomorrow or Sunday, we can get you up to walk around a little." Sara returns the smile.

Lily hesitates for a short time before deciding to say "Sara, you've worked with Catherine for awhile now and you have been so good with Lindsey since Eddie's death. I can tell you care a great deal about Lindsey, but exactly what are your feelings toward Catherine?"


Part 9

Sara stutters "Catherine? Well, um, we're friends, I guess. We didn't get along at all when I first came to Vegas, but we worked really well together. When Eddie died, I felt so guilty for not being able to close the case. Catherine reamed me a … I mean, she was very upset with me and she brought Lindsey into the argument. I decided right then and there that I was going to try to help Lindsey in any way possible. I was surprised when Catherine agreed to let me take Lindsey places. Somewhere along the way, Catherine and I started being civil to each other. So I guess we're friends."

Lily studies Sara during her explanation, noticing her apparent nervousness. "Okay then. If you consider Catherine a friend, I hope you think of me as your friend also." Sara immediately replies "I do, Lily."

Lily pleased with Sara's answer says "Then why can't you let a couple of friends continue to take care of you? It's what friends do for each other." Sara realizes she's been skillfully backed into a corner and not wanting to fight with Lily replies "Okay, Lily. You win. I'll stay through the weekend, but if I am feeling better on Monday, I'm going home; deal?"

Lily puts out her hand toward Sara to seal the agreement. The two smile at each other as they shake hands. Lily offers to get Sara some juice and Sara agrees, not because she is thirsty, rather she needs some time alone to review the conversation. Lily, proud of her manipulation of Sara, leaves the room with a satisfied expression.

Sara lies back down and stares at the ceiling. 'What the hell just happened here? How could I have agreed to stay? When did I lose control of the conversation? Oh yeah, when she mentioned my feelings toward Catherine. I have to hand it to Lily, she's good. She is very good."

After her juice, Sara takes a nap until she is awakened by an excited Lindsey. "Sara, Dr. John said I'm not conta…conta…um, I can't give my friends the chicken pox anymore. Mom said I could go to Aunt Nancy's tomorrow for a few hours and play with Jeremy. And I can sleep in my own bed. Not that I don't like sleeping with you, but I miss my bed."

Sara can't help but smile at Lindsey's excitement. Hopefully, it won't be long until she is able to go back home and sleep in her own bed as well. Lindsey leaves to go to her room with the promise of coming back to play games with Sara later.

Catherine comes in a short time later to check on Sara. She repeats almost verbatim the news Lindsey shared except Catherine was able to pronounce contagious. The two discuss the doctor's visit in detail.

Catherine, remembering why she came into the room in the first place, asks "Sara, would you mind sitting in this chair while I change the sheets? I think you'll feel better on fresh sheets." Sara replies "I'd rather take a bath. I love being clean when I crawl into a newly changed bed."

Catherine responds "That's a good idea. Do you think you can fend for yourself in the bathtub while I wrestle with the sheets?" Sara softly answers "Yes, but I think I'm going to need you to help me into the bathroom and possibly the tub." Catherine pleased Sara has asked for help walks over to assist her.

After a quick bath, Sara lies back in the tub and closes her eyes. It took almost all of her strength to walk to the master bath and crawl into the tub. 'I can't believe how weak I am. This absolutely sucks. I wonder how long it will take for me to build my strength back up.' As she continues to downplay her health, she slowly drifts into sleep.

Catherine strips the bed and takes the sheets to the washer. She starts the washer and moves to the linen closet. Picking out a clean set of sheets, she returns to the bedroom and puts the sheets on the bed. Fluffing the pillows, she places the pillowcases on them. Pulling the comforter back up, she folds down the bed and goes to retrieve Sara.

As soon as she steps into the master bath, she hears a soft snore coming from the bathtub. She takes a few minutes to observe Sara and how relaxed she looks in sleep. Noticing the chill bumps popping up on Sara's arms, she decides to wake up the sleeping beauty. "Sara, honey, we need to get you out of the tub."

Dreaming of kissing Catherine, Sara smiles as her dream girl calls her honey. She is pulled from her dream when she realizes Catherine is calling her. 'Did she just call me honey? Nah, it must have been my dream talking.'

Sara opens her eyes and looks down at herself saying "I can't believe I fell asleep in the tub. I am never going to get over this tired feeling." Catherine replies "Yes, you will. Now let's get you standing and dried off." Catherine assists Sara from the tub and Sara reaches deep within to find the strength to dry herself off. Catherine helps her into boxers and a t-shirt and together the two return to the bedroom.

Sara crawls under the covers and allows her body to sink into the bed. "You're right, Catherine. The clean sheets feel wonderful." She closes her eyes and immediately falls into a deep sleep. Catherine watches her for awhile before leaving to check on Lindsey.

Catherine wakes Sara for her evening meal and leaves her alone to finish her dinner. 'It sure feels lonely in here without Lindsey. Maybe she'll keep me company later.'

Catherine returns after a short time to retrieve the tray. During her meal, Sara's thoughts had turned to the sleeping arrangements. "Catherine, if Lindsey returns to her bed, where are you going to sleep?" Catherine replies "On the couch." Sara, not happy with the response, says "You can't sleep on the couch. This is your house. I can sleep on the couch and you can have your bed back."

Catherine takes a few cleansing breaths before replying "Sara, you are still sick. You need to be in a comfortable bed and close to the facilities. Besides, you are too tall for my couch." Sara argues "No. I refuse to let you stay on the couch because of me. You sleep in the bed and we can make a pallet for me on the floor."

Aggravated, Catherine answers "Damn it, Sara. You are sleeping in this bed and that's final. I have slept on the couch numerous times and lived through it. Now, don't argue with me."

Sara opens her mouth to counter when Lily appears at the door. "What in the world are you two arguing about? You've upset Lindsey. She came to get me to see what is wrong." Catherine turns to her mother and responds "Sara is being an obstinate mule. She thinks she should sleep on the couch or the floor. I am pointing out the reasons why she needs to stay in the bed."

Lily looks to Sara who adds "Catherine should be sleeping in her own bed now that Lindsey has moved back to her room. I think I should be the one on the couch or the floor."

The two begin to bicker back and forth when Lily yells "Girls! Stop it. There really is a simple solution to this problem." Both Catherine and Sara turn their attention to Lily. Catherine is the first to ask "And what would that be, mother?"

With her hands on her hips, Lily shakes her head and replies "Catherine, your bed is huge. The obvious solution is for the two of you to share the bed."


Part 10

Speechless, Catherine and Sara both stare at Lily. She looks back and forth at the two before replying "What? Is there some reason why the two of you can't share the same bed? You are friends. Friends share things. Surely, this isn't a problem."

Catherine and Sara can only nod their heads. Lily finishes with "Okay, it's settled then. No couch and no floor for either of you. Now, if you'll excuse me, I missed my soaps today so I'm going to catch up on the SoapNet Channel. Call me if you need any more problems solved." Lily walks out the door. As she moves into the hall, she pumps her arm in celebration murmuring a silent "Yes!"

As Lily gets settled on the couch, the phone begins to ring. Reaching for the portable, she answers. "Hello . . . . Oh, hi Mr. Grissom . . . . The doctor said Sara needed to be isolated for several more days . . . . She's sleeping right now and I don't want to disturb her . . . . Yes, I'll tell her you called . . . . Bye."

Lily looks around to see if anyone overheard her conversation. Satisfied no one heard the call, she softly mutters "Sorry, Mr. Grissom. I don't think I'll be delivering your message anytime soon. I have to give my Catherine a chance with Sara without any interference from you."

Back in the room, Sara and Catherine are still stunned by Lily's clever manipulation of the situation. Sara looks to Catherine and says "You didn't stand a chance growing up did you?" Catherine responds "As a teenager, I was not aware of mother's skill. I always thought I was getting away with things when in reality mother was calling the shots the entire time. She's only gotten better as she has aged."

After a few moments, Catherine asks "What about your mother? Was she in charge as well?" Dead silence prevails for several minutes. Sara finally answers in a flat tone "In a manner of speaking, yes, you could say mother was in charge."

Catherine looks at Sara's guarded expression noting the firm jaw and clenched teeth. Deciding a change of subject is in order, she asks "So, what side of the bed do you prefer?" Sara, thankful for the question, answers "The middle." The two laugh and playfully argue about who gets to sleep on the side closest to the master bath.

Lindsey comes in with a movie and climbs into bed with Sara. She sits right next to Sara and instructs her mother to come sit on the other side. Catherine complies and the three sit in silence while the movie plays.

Lily comes in a bit later to say goodnight. Catherine looks at the time and jumps out of the bed. "Oh, I didn't realize how late it was. I'm sorry, mother. Why didn't you come and get me sooner?" Lily smiles and uses the excuse of being caught up in her soap operas. She doesn't bother to say she had already come into the room earlier to see the three of them wrapped up in the movie. Sara had her arm around Lindsey and Catherine was stroking Lindsey's hair. It made the perfect family portrait.

Lily leaves after promising to come back in the morning to take Lindsey to see Jeremy. After a bit of coaxing, Catherine is finally able to talk Lindsey into a bath before bed. Lindsey tries to explain that she's had more baths this week than she has had in a month. Catherine ignores the exaggeration and tells her she can't sleep in her own bed tonight unless she bathes. Lindsey grudgingly agrees.

After tucking Lindsey into bed for the night, Catherine makes her way to the master bedroom where she finds Sara sleeping soundly. Catherine notes she has conveniently chosen the side closest to the bath room. Catherine shakes her head and smiles as the changes into her gown.

As Catherine climbs into bed, she realizes how exhausted she is. She has pretty much gone full out all week with only a few breaks. Thankfully, Lily has been around to help. In only a few minutes, Catherine is out like a light.

Sara awakens the next morning feeling a bit hot. She begins to worry the fever has returned when she notices the body next to her, right next to her. In fact, Catherine is attached to her like a limpet. Catherine's head is nestled on her chest with her arm wrapped protectively around Sara's middle. Getting her bearings, Sara realizes Catherine's leg is lying on top of hers and is precariously close to settling in between her own legs. Sara's eyes pop wide open. Definitely not fever.

Sara tries to ease out from under Catherine, but Catherine only holds on more tightly. After several failed attempts, Sara decides to gently wake Catherine. She whispers very softly "Catherine. Catherine, you need to wake up." Catherine mumbles and burrows closer. The movement does not waken Catherine, but it succeeds in awakening several sensitive areas of Sara's anatomy.

Sara tries yet again to rouse Catherine. "Catherine, c'mon you need to wake up and move back to your side of the bed." Catherine lifts her head slightly and without ever opening her eyes, she leisurely kisses Sara on the lips and mutters "Go back to sleep. It's not time to get up."

Sara freezes in place. She reaches up and touches her lips not quite believing what just transpired. She looks down at Catherine to find her sound asleep. 'How can she kiss me like that and just go right back to sleep?'

After a few minutes, Catherine rolls back toward the other side of the bed and Sara quickly moves to the edge of her side. As Catherine begins to stretch, Sara closes her eyes and pretends to sleep. Catherine awakens on her side of the bed none the wiser to her earlier sleeping position. She looks over at a sleeping Sara and quietly gets out of bed.

When Catherine walks into the kitchen, she finds Lily sitting at the table drinking a cup of coffee. She looks over at the wall clock to see 8:00 a.m. "Wow. I haven't slept this late on a non-working night in forever. I slept like a log. I feel great." Lily motions toward the coffee pot and Catherine pours herself a cup before sitting down at the table.

Catherine savors her first few sips before saying "Mom. I really appreciate all the help you've given me this week. I realized last night how difficult this week has been. I never could have made it through without you."

Lily replies "Nonsense, Catherine. You could have done it, but I am glad I was able to make it a little easier for you." Lily anxious to find out about how the sleeping arrangements fared says "I guess it felt good to sleep in your own bed."

Catherine responds "Oh yeah. Don't tell anyone, but I hate sleeping in Lindsey's twin bed. The first night I almost fell on the floor twice. I finally moved toward the wall to help get my bearings. I am used to having so much room to maneuver."

Lily smiles and asks "Did you have any problems sleeping with Sara?" Catherine answers "No. I thought it would be awkward, but I think both of us were too tired to think about anything but sleeping."

Lily adds "That's good. I had wondered about your tendency to snuggle. Ever since you were little, you would always latch onto anyone you slept with." Lily's words slowly sink into Catherine's head and she begins to replay what she can remember. 'I know I woke up on my side of the bed this morning. I remember rolling over shortly after I kissed Sara. I had my head on her shoulder and ….. wait a minute …. Oh my God, I kissed Sara!'


Part 11

Lily moves to Catherine's side as she notices how pale she has become. "Catherine, are you okay? You look as if you're about to faint." Catherine looks at her mother and stutters "Mom. Oh, mom." Lily worriedly asks "What, honey? What's wrong?"

Catherine leans over and puts her face in her hands. She repeats over and over again "I am so stupid." Lily kneels down and pulls Catherine's hands from her face. "Catherine, talk to me. Maybe I can help." Catherine looks up at her mother and says "I can't go back into my bedroom ever again as long as Sara is here. I'll take Lindsey and go to your apartment and you can stay here and take care of Sara."

Lily replies "Don't be silly, Catherine. You'll do no such thing. Now, tell me why you are suddenly so afraid to be around Sara." Catherine hangs her head and quietly says "I accidentally kissed her." Lily asks "How do you accidentally kiss someone?" Catherine's head snaps up as she answers "I don't know. I just did, okay!"

Lily puts her hands up in surrender and replies "Okay, okay. I'm sorry. Tell me exactly what happened." Catherine begins to recount her memories to her mother. She becomes even more mortified when she realizes she practically slept on top of Sara. When she finishes her narrative, she asks "What am I going to do? How am I going to face Sara? She probably thinks I'm some sort of pervert."

Lily moves her chair over to sit next to Catherine. She says "You said you were half-asleep when you kissed Sara. Maybe she was in the same state and doesn't remember you kissing her." Catherine quickly replies "I think she would know if someone's tongue was in her mouth." Surprised, Lily asks "You slipped her the tongue?"

Frustrated, Catherine gets up and begins to pace. "I don't know, mother. I usually do…um…I mean I might have. Shit, shit, shit. I can't believe I kissed her. Stupid, stupid, stupid." Lily watches Catherine berate herself for a few moments before asking "How did Sara react to the kiss?"

Catherine, still very much unnerved, answers "How should I know? I never opened my eyes. I was practically asleep at the time." Lily ignores Catherine's tone and continues with her questions. "Then how do you know she was upset with your kiss?" Lily receives the full 'what planet are you from?' expression from Catherine.

Lily looks at the clock and notes forty five minutes have passed since they began their conversation. "Why don't I take Sara a cup of coffee? She hasn't had any all week so it should put her in a good mood. I'll talk to her for a few minutes and see if she says anything." Catherine, not able to think of anything else, agrees.

Lily enters the quiet room with the coffee and the newspaper. She places the coffee on the nightstand and moves to open the blinds. Sara opens her eyes as she smells the aroma of the coffee. She is relieved to see Lily and not Catherine. Lily walks back to the bed and takes a seat on the edge. She reaches for the coffee and hands it to Sara.

Sara sits up in the bed and takes the cup. She puts the cup under her nose and savors the aroma before taking her first sip. Smiling, she continues to sip her coffee. Lily silently observes Sara's demeanor for a few minutes.

After drinking half the cup, Sara says "Lily, you have made my week. I can't tell you how much I have been craving a cup of coffee. Catherine wouldn't let me have any." At the mention of Catherine's name, Lily pays close attention to Sara's tone and body language. There does not appear to be any sign of discomfort.

Lily smiles and asks "How did you sleep?" Sara instantly turns red before replying "Fine." Lily mentally works out her next question. 'Something has embarrassed her. Question is what? Was it Catherine's snuggling or the kiss? It's not going to be easy to get her to open up.'

The two sit in silence for a few moments before Lily says "I bet you missed Lindsey. Catherine takes up much more room than the little tyke and Catherine tends to hog the bed." Sara begins to choke on her coffee. Lily quickly grabs the cup before any can spill on the bed. She places the cup back on the night stand and reaches over to pat Sara on the back.

Lily instructs Sara to raise her arms over her head and Sara complies. After several minutes, Sara finally stops coughing and is able to breathe easier. The ordeal has taken its toll on Sara as she sinks back down on the bed. Lily mentally kicks herself for not anticipating Sara's reaction to her question.

Lily brushes the hair from Sara's face and asks "Are you okay? I'm sorry if I said anything to upset you." Sara closes her eyes and relishes Lily's caring touch. She has never known the kindness of someone like Lily or Catherine.

Knowing she needs to respond in some way, Sara says "I'm okay. The coffee just went down wrong. Sorry." Lily answers "It wasn't your fault. I'm the one who should apologize. I did come in here to bring your coffee, but I also had an ulterior motive."

Sara opens her eyes and looks at Lily. She asks "What did you want to find out?" Lily smiles and says "Maybe we should talk about this when you're feeling a little better." Sara thinks for a minute and decides she would rather find out now than worry about it when the time comes. "I'm okay and I'd rather talk about it now."

Still concerned, Lily opts for the slow, questioning approach. "Sara, do you remember anything that happened during the night or this morning?" Confused, Sara asks "What do you mean? Something outside or in the house or something with me?" Lily smiles and answers "With you and Catherine."

Sara closes her eyes and stalls for a few moments. She finally asks "What did Catherine say?" With a calm and loving voice, Lily responds "I'd rather hear your version, but first, I want you to know Catherine is very upset with herself."

Sara sighs and begins to recount her view. "I slept all night without dreaming which is a first. When I woke up, I was rested but felt warm. I thought the fever had returned, but I quickly realized Catherine was the source of the heat. She was draped practically on top of me. I tried to slide out from under her, but she wouldn't let go. I finally called her name several times and she started to rouse. The next thing I know, she is kissing me and then she lies back down on top of me."

Lily opens her mouth to ask how Sara felt about the kiss but is stopped by Sara's voice. "Did she know it was me? Why would Catherine kiss me, Lily?"


Part 12

Lily smiles down at Sara and replies "I can't answer that question. You'll have to ask Catherine. She will never initiate the conversation, but the two of you need to discuss your feelings. Promise me you will talk to Catherine when I take Lindsey to Nancy's.

Sara shakes her head and opens her mouth to refuse, but Lily places her fingers on Sara's lips and says "You can't say no. Someone has to be the adult. You two can't avoid seeing or talking to each other for the rest of your lives. For goodness sakes, you two have to work together. It's going to be up to you, Sara. Do the right thing."

Lily pats Sara's cheek and leaves the room. Sara stares up at the ceiling wondering how far away she could get on her hands and knees since she still wobbles when she walks. Sara smiles as the image sparks a memory 'Weebles wooble, but they don't fall down.'

Lily comes in thirty minutes later with some toast and juice for Sara. Nothing is mentioned of 'the talk.' Instead the two discuss how excited Lindsey is to get out of the house. Sara finishes her meal and hands Lily her tray. Lily says "Don't forget, Sara. It's up to you." She turns and walks out the door.

About an hour later, Sara faces her first dilemma. She has to go to the bathroom and Catherine has not come in to check on her all morning. 'Okay, Sidle, decision time. Should I call Catherine or try to make it on my own? It is obvious Catherine doesn't want to talk to me, but she clearly was not happy the last time I tried to venture out of bed on my own. However, I am much better than I was before. I think I should give it a go.'

Sara sits up and moves to the edge of the bed. She swings her feet around and places them on the floor. Very slowly, she stands up using the night stand to assist her. Sara stands for a few minutes to make sure there isn't any dizziness. Satisfied with the result thus far, she gingerly takes a few steps. Soon she successfully arrives at the toilet.

Completing her business, she stands to return to bed. Noticing the revolution of the objects in the room, she sits back down. 'Damn it. I am tired of this dizzy feeling. You would think I would be able to walk to the toilet and back. I guess I'll sit her for a minute and try again.'

After several minutes and two unsuccessful attempts, Sara decides she will indeed find out how far she can crawl. Reaching down, she is barely able to lower herself on the floor without falling on her head. She slowly begins to crawl and is able to cover about four feet before she has to stop to rest. 'This sucks. An infant could outdistance me.'

Sara finally makes it out of the bathroom door and onto the carpet at the exact same time Catherine peeks around the corner to check on Sara hopefully without being seen. Catherine looks at the bed to find it empty. Alarmed, she rushes into the room to find Sara on her hands and knees looking at her. Catherine hurries to her just as Sara's arms give out and she falls.

"Sara, what in the hell are you doing out of bed?" Sara looks up at Catherine and weakly says "Lindsey must be gone or else you would owe a dollar." Catherine reaches down to help Sara into a sitting position before answering. "Let's get you off this floor and back into the bed." Sara does everything in her power to assist in the process.

They finally get Sara upright and slowly move to the bed. Sara plops back into the bed and says "I hate this. I fucking hate this!" Catherine pulls the covers over Sara and replies "Good thing Lindsey's gone. I think you may have been charged extra for that one." Sara glares at Catherine but refuses to respond.

The two stare at each other for a few minutes before Catherine says "Next time you need to get up, call me. If you fall, you could hurt yourself." Grinning, she adds "Good thing you were already so close to the ground." Sara, not amused, replies "I figured since you have avoided me all morning; you didn't want have any contact with me. Besides, I should be able to get up to go to the bathroom on my own."

The grin falls from Catherine's face at the mention of her avoidance of Sara. Looking everywhere but at Sara, she replies "I'm sorry I haven't checked on you this morning. I had to get Lindsey ready to go to Jeremy's and then I cooked some spaghetti sauce for lunch. I left out the meat because I know you're a vegetarian. I wasn't sure what else you would eat so ……" Catherine is cut off midway into her babble by Sara's very insistent voice. "Catherine, look at me."

Catherine gradually makes eye contact with Sara who says "Please come over here and sit down." Catherine slowly makes her way to the bed and sits on the edge. Sara takes a deep breath and asks "Did you mean to kiss me this morning?" Catherine immediately responds "No! I mean yes. I mean . . . I don't know what I mean. I do know I'm sorry and I won't ever let it happen again."

Not pleased with the answer, Sara continues "I accept your apology, but I would like an answer to my original question." Catherine gets up and stands in front of the window. She looks outside for a few moments while she gathers her thoughts.

"Sara, I am so thankful to you for getting Lindsey out of her funk when her dad died. She wouldn't talk to me and she was always moping around. You brought sunshine back into her life." She pauses before continuing "I have enjoyed getting to know you through Lindsey's eyes. Somewhere along the way, we began to be friendlier toward each other and I really like the person I came to know."

Sara waits patiently for Catherine to continue. After several minutes, the silence in the room becomes deafening. Sara deciding to prod Catherine along replies "I'm glad I could help Lindsey out, Catherine. And I'm glad we have become friends. I care about you too."

Without turning around, Catherine wraps her arms around herself and looks to the floor. "Sara, I am attracted to you. I've been able to keep it under wraps for months now, but I guess my subconscious overruled by brain this morning. Add in the dream I was having when I started to awaken and, voila! , I kissed you."

Expecting Sara to be disgusted and outraged, Catherine quietly awaits her response. Sara, on the other hand, sits up against the headboard stunned.

Sara finally finds her voice and asks "Catherine, are you serious? You are attracted to me?" Catherine detecting a sense of hope in Sara's voice turns around and walks back to the bed. She sits on the side and reaches out for Sara's hand. Catherine smiles as Sara willingly gives it to her.

"Sara, I think I've always been attracted to you. I believe that's part of the reason I was so horrible to you in the beginning. You had come in to evaluate Warrick and I didn't want to like you. I had to go to extremes to stop myself from acting on my attraction. As we worked together through the years, you gained my respect and admiration for the job you do. When you befriended Lindsey, all those early attractions came back full force."

Confused, Sara replies "I don't understand. You aren't gay, Catherine. You dated all those men. Am I a test subject to see what it would be like to date a woman?" Sparks fly from Catherine's eyes as she vehemently replies "Is that what you think of me? That I could toy with your emotions for an experiment? Well, fuck you, Sara." Catherine tries to pull her hand away, but Sara hangs on with as much strength as she can muster in her weakened state.


Part 13

As Catherine finally pulls free and walks toward the door, Sara cries out "No, Catherine. I don't think that of you. Please don't go. I'm attracted to you too. Please don't leave." Sara begins to sob uncontrollably muttering 'don't leave me' over and over. Catherine turns back and her heart breaks at the sight. She moves back toward the bed as Sara starts to hyperventilate.

Catherine takes Sara's face in her hands to make eye contact. She gently says "Sara, it's okay. You need to relax and take deep breaths. Can you do that for me? C'mon now, look at me. That's it. Now breathe." Catherine continues her mantra until an exhausted Sara finally begins to breathe normally.

Catherine helps Sara into a lying position and softly strokes her hair. Within minutes, Sara is asleep. Catherine looks down at Sara and whispers "Someone hurt you very badly didn't they? If I ever meet them face to face, I'm going to kick their ass. Now, sleep. I'll be here when you wake up."

An hour later, Sara opens and closes her eyes several times to clear her vision. Feeling someone playing with her hair, she looks to her left to find Catherine sitting next to her looking out the window. Sara opens her mouth to speak but only a squeak comes out. Catherine's focus moves to Sara. "Hey, sleepyhead. You scared me for a few minutes there. How are you feeling?"

With a raspy voice, Sara answers "Better except my throat is killing me." Catherine says "Let me go get you some water. I'll be right back." She leans down and kisses the top of Sara's head before getting up to leave. Sara smiles as she watches her go, but as she remembers the previous conversation, she takes on a worried expression.

Catherine returns with a glass of water and a straw. She holds the glass and bends the straw for Sara to drink. After half a glass, Sara says "Thank you, Catherine. I'm sorry I lost control. I don't know what came over me." Catherine replies "I'm sorry, too. I never should have spoken to you like that. You just hit a nerve."

Catherine takes the glass and places it on the nightstand. She takes off her shoes and crawls into the bed facing Sara. The two spend hours talking about their past relationships and fears of new ones. Sara confirms Catherine's suspicions of being hurt. In San Francisco, she became involved with one of the lab techs and fell in love. Three months later, the tech left her for a male supervisor. She told Sara that she never loved her and she was just an experiment. Catherine holds Sara close and tells her she will never make false promises.

Catherine entertains Sara with stories of growing up with Lily and then asks about Sara's childhood. Sara talks of her few pleasant memories, but asks Catherine if they could discuss it later. Catherine picking up on Sara's discomfort agrees. She takes Sara's hand once again and says "Now, let's start over. I am attracted to you, Sara. How do you feel about that?"

Sara smiles and responds "I'm attracted to you too, Catherine. Do you think we can try kissing again now that we're both wide awake?" Catherine grins, leans forward, and softly kisses Sara. As Catherine pulls back, Sara says "That was nice."

Catherine answers "Yes, it was. You don't know how long I have been dreaming of kissing you, but I want to take things slow. I want a relationship built on honesty, trust, friendship, and love. I have always jumped right into bed at the beginning of a relationship and it never worked out. I want us to work."

Lily comes into the room and is both surprised and pleased to find the two in bed together holding hands. Smiling, she says "It's about time. I was worried that neither one of you would open up. I am so happy for you two." Pausing, Lily asks "Have the two of you had anything to eat since this morning?" When Sara and Catherine shake their head no, Lily grins and says "I'll go order some pizzas to celebrate Lindsey's recovery and you two finally coming to your senses. I'll let Lindsey know."

A few minutes later, Lindsey runs in yelling "Yes! Grandma said we're going to have pizza to celebrate. Um, what are we celebrating?" Catherine replies "You getting all better, sweetie, and …." Catherine looks at Sara who nervously asks "Lindsey, how would you feel if I dated your mom?" Lindsey grins broadly and asks "For real?" Sara nods as Lindsey says "Cool!"

Lindsey and Lily bring the pizza and drinks into the bedroom so they can all eat together. Sara looks over at Lily and smiles. She is so grateful to Lily for everything. Lily is exactly what Sara has always wished for in a mother. She is kind, loving, caring and she even ordered a vegetarian pizza. The four enjoy the good food and pleasant conversation.

Lily asks Catherine to help her with the dishes while Lindsey stays behind to play video games with Sara. As the pair makes their way into the kitchen, Lily asks "Well?" Catherine responds "Yes, mother you were right as usual and I thank you for pushing and prodding us both. I'm really going to go for it all with Sara. I think we can make each other very happy." Deciding not to say the infamous 'I told you so,' Lily smiles, quite pleased with herself.

After refrigerating the unfinished pizza and rinsing off the dishes, Lily asks if Catherine needs anything else before she leaves to go back home. Catherine says "Not that I can think of, but I'll call you if I think of something. Thanks again for everything, mother. And I do mean everything." Lily replies "You're so welcome, honey. I'm going to head home now. I'll see you in the morning." As Catherine turns to leave the kitchen, Lily adds "Oh, by the way, when Sara gets to feeling better I'll bring Lindsey over to my place for a sleepover so you and Sara can have some privacy to perform the horizontal mambo." Catherine walks right into the door facing.

Epilogue (of sorts)

Sara recovers and the two begin the dating process including weekend outings with Lindsey. Back at work, only Warrick has figured out what is going on between the two. He is happy for them, but stays mum on the subject to the others. Lily is very happy with the coupling and has 'adopted' Sara as her daughter. Weeks later, she gets a phone call from Catherine requesting her baby sitting services while she and Sara engage in dancing lessons.

The End

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