DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Consequences of Clubbing
By Myck's Nyx
I suggested a refill on coffee. Catherine took her coffee black with two splenda. Sitting back down and sliding a cup her way I watched as Catherine pulled out her wallet.
"How much do I owe you?"
I just looked at her.
"For the coffee."
"Oh. No, Catherine, it's on me."
"What?" she protested, "No, that's ridiculous."
I reasoned, "How about you get the next one, okay?"
She flashed that triumphant smile again, "There's going to be 'a next one'?"
I ducked my head, "Sure, why not?"
She leaned back against the booth with her coffee, "Good." She blinked slowly at me and I felt a knot in my throat tighten, "Now, stop stalling and start talking."
I sighed and put down my coffee, "I never had much problem with being gay. It was just other people. I started kissing girls on the playground when I was four. I always knew. But my parents now when I look back I think they probably suspected something. My father he was always telling me how useless women were. I think the idea of two women surviving without the help of a man would have given him apoplexy. I once told him- I was really mad at the time, that I was never going to get married. I've never seen him so angry in my entire life."
I was trying to hide behind my coffee, but Catherine must have seen the shadow in my eyes. "I'm not trying to pressure you, we don't really have to talk about it if you don't want to."
I shook my head, "No, it's fine. It's just been a while since I've had to come up with the words..." I tried to figure out the best way to start up again, "Before I moved to Boston I was too afraid of getting caught. Not because I was ashamed- I just didn't know what would happen. If my father had caught me hooking up with a guy, dating, anything; he probably would have just laughed, said I was a dumb pair of tits doing what women do best." I couldn't help the bitter smile that crossed my lips and it didn't escape me that Catherine flinched visibly at the vulgar language. "But with a woman? I don't know. He might've killed me. The easiest way to avoid finding out was to just not doing anything; not be gay."
Catherine nodded her head, I could tell she was still listening, but she was staring out the window. I lost my train of thought as she twisted a strawberry lock between her fingers. The way the waning light of evening glowed through it
"What?" I was startled by the touch of cool fingers on my arm.
Catherine's blue eyes looked mildly concerned, "I said, 'are you okay?' You just went off somewhere."
"Oh, yeah, sorry, I'm fine, just caught up, I guess."
She smiled at me and the smile was so warm and full that my heart skipped two beats. "What?" I asked her nervously. What had prompted her to smile so suddenly? I wiped my lips self-consciously, "Do I have foam on my mouth or something?"
She giggled, "Yeah, you do, actually," her arm stretched across the table and her hand cupped my chin as her thumb brushed playfully at the crook of my lips. I think I actually stopped breathing when she touched me, "but that's not why I was smiling." She brought her hand back down to cradle her coffee.
"Why, then?" God, her smile was infectious.
"You just had this goofy happy smile when you were staring off into space. It was unexpected, given the nature of what we were talking about. And it was really cute."
I blushed, but I chose to ignore the comment; I had no idea that the Catherine Willows outside CSI was so friendly and easygoing. Instead of responding, I went on with my story, "Then, when I got to Boston, everything was fine. It took me a little while to realize that I didn't need to be hiding. For the most part, Cambridge is a really accepting town. I was a serious student, but I did date and I had a couple of good relationships and everything seemed okay for a while. Then I had a series of bad relationships that knocked me off a bit." I paused to look up at Catherine. I was amazed at how easily this was all coming out even though I seemed to be spectacularly nervous around this woman. What the hell was going on?
"When I moved back to San Francisco, I relaxed a bit a lot, actually. I had this really nasty break-up when I first arrived and to get over it a bunch of friends took me clubbing. I got really into the whole scene. Just the drinking, dancing, meaningless sex thing. It was a lot easier than having to deal with relationships. I became this total partier outside of work. My whole life had this pale green, trendy, Goth feel to it. It was the same when I moved here; only in Las Vegas the club scene is really hardcore. After a while I got a bit sick of losing control, it was a release and yet it wasn't, you know? It's really not me. At least I didn't think it should be. But as much as I used it to forget about my own life, I realized that after I became a CSI, I was also using it to forget about the sick crap I saw at work."
Catherine just nodded her understanding; some of what we saw at work was enough to haunt the heartiest of minds.
"So I started up again a little. Sage, the girl I went with on Saturday, she started me up again. We actually met during a handicapped stall rendezvous similar to the one you witnessed that night." I lifted my eyebrows expressively and Catherine smiled, had she also just blushed? "But as lovers, we had little chance of staying together. I was still on a rampage and Sage is a hopeless romantic, and young, too. Only twenty-six, I think she's still in that 'have it all,' 'love at first sight' dreamland place."
Catherine gave a half smile, "I was there for a long time. Until after Lindsey was born. I just clung to the idea that everything would just one day be magically okay."
"I was never there. Even as a little kid, I was always a logical thinker."
I was contemplating this statement when Catherine asked me a question, "Huh?"
The blue-eyed beauty across from me rolled her eyes, "Geez, Sara, am I so boring that you have to resort to staring at air to entertain yourself?"
"What?" I asked, startled, "No, you're not boring at all," I fumbled, "I just "
Catherine threw back her head at the expression on my face, laughing, "Sara, I was joking."
"Oh." I finished off the rest of my coffee and looked at my watch. "Hey, we've got about an hour until work, you want to head in early?"
Catherine looked at her cell phone worriedly, "What? Oh, shit. Sara, I can't." She stood up suddenly and collected the coffee cups, "I don't know where the time went, I've got to run some clothes over to Nancy's, Lindsey forgot her bag on the way out this evening. I said I'd drop everything off before work! Crap."
"That's fine," We threw away our cups and started heading for the door together, our walking fast-paced, "I'll just see you at the lab, will you be able to make it on time? Should I tell Griss you'll be late?"
We stopped at her truck, "Only if I don't make it to assignments. Thanks Sara." She grabbed my hand briefly but tightly, "I'm glad we had a chance to clear the air." She smiled, "I had fun, I wish I didn't have to go."
I waved as she got in her car, "Don't worry about it, I'll see you at work."
As I walked to the Tahoe, I expected to hear the start up of her engine and the screech of her tires as she pulled out of the lot, but instead all I heard were the unhappy half-hearted revs of a dead battery. Half a minute later, I could hear Catherine yelling colorfully at the steering wheel. Smiling, I walked back to her.
"Car trouble?" I leaned against the window, trying not to laugh at an obviously very frustrated Catherine Willows.
"Don't give me that smug look, Sidle." Her tone was severe, but the smile on her face betrayed her feelings.
"Why don't I give you a ride to Nancy's?" I offered, "Then we can come here after shift and I'll jump it for you?"
"Oh, Sara, I don't want to make you do all that. It's such a fuss "
I just gave her a look, "Catherine, what makes you think anyone can get me to do something that I don't want to do?"
She smiled but she still hesitated.
"Come on," I said, ignoring her expression and walking around the back of the truck, "Let's get your stuff loaded into my car."
Almost reluctantly, Catherine transferred her gear to the Tahoe and climbed into the passenger seat.
"Which way to Nancy's?" I asked as we pulled out of the parking lot.
Catherine gave directions and we were quiet for a few minutes before she said, "You said that when you met Sage that you were on a rampage." We both smiled a little at the unintentional rhyme. "Can I ask why?"
I nodded but continued to look ahead, "I've always had a lot of issues around trusting people. My childhood was not the most happy one," I couldn't believe I was telling her this, "and when I finally got away from all of that, it was really hard for me to get along with people that I thought had 'normal' lives. Then when I finally did open up to a few people, I was just shut down." I stopped at a red light, "As you know, I'm not very easy to get along with or relate to. It's easier not to deal with me."
"You are easy to talk to," Catherine protested, "We've been talking amiably for two hours. You're a good listener, you're supportive, and you talk back. As far as I'm concerned, this is the best conversation I've had in months."
I smiled but I had to argue, "Catherine, you and I both know that I'm not usually this forthright. I'm never this open with people, hell, I'm never half this open with people!"
Catherine made a questioning face, "Yeah, that's true. Why are you being so un-Sara-ish?"
"Honestly? I have no idea." I was as in the dark as to my behavior as Catherine was. Well, I had an idea, but it was barely formed and I certainly wasn't about to discuss it with the gorgeous woman sitting in my car. "Maybe because you trusted me so much. I don't trust people, and not many people bother to trust me. That's why I was on a rampage. Sex with strangers and imagined relationships are a lot easier to get over."
I turned left as per Catherine's instructions and we entered a quiet residential neighborhood. The street lamps were just lighting up.
"Are you still?"
"Am I still what?"
"On a rampage? Are you still on a quest to fuck every lesbian in Las Vegas?"
There was a bit of an edge to her voice, but sticking to my plan to not fight with her anymore, I took a minute to calm down before I spoke again, "That was a little harsh, Catherine. I thought we were trying to be friends now."
Catherine shut her eyes in an apologetic way, "Sorry, I didn't mean it to sound the way it did. I'm not judging you at all. I'm just finding my new image of Sara Sidle to be conflicting."
I didn't know what to make of her apology so I just shrugged, "It's fine. In answer to your question, I don't know. I'm not as adamant as I used to be, that's for sure. But a serious relationship hasn't presented itself as of yet. I don't think I'll be able to tell until it does."
She nodded and looked out the window, after a few moments she said, "Take the next right and then there's a really sharp left, it's the second house on the right, the one with the swing on the porch." She pressed a few numbers on her phone and held it to her ear, after a minute she said, "Nance, I'm right around the corner. Yeah, okay, I'll be there in a sec. 'kay, bye." She sighed and said, "Thanks for driving me, Sara, I promise it will only be a minute."
I looked at the clock, it had only taken us about ten minutes to get there, "It's fine, we've got plenty of time, Cath. From the way you acted I thought it was a half hour drive or something."
As I pulled up outside the house, a lanky blonde flash jumped off the porch and ran for the car. It had been a while since I had seen Lindsey; she looked like she had grown a foot. Catherine pushed the car door open just in time for her daughter to leap into her arms.
"Mom!" the girl threw herself on top of Catherine.
"Ooof!" Catherine fought for air but she still managed to wrap Lindsey tight in her arms, "Hey, sweetie! Good to see you too!"
"Mom," Lindsey sat up in her mother's lap, "I was so worried that you wouldn't get here! I really need my green shirt for school tomorrow; the whole soccer team is wearing them. I would look like such a dork without mine."
"Oh I see," Catherine laughed, "So this hug isn't really for me, it's for your shirt. That's nice."
"Mom!" Lindsey rolled her eyes.
Catherine tickled her sides and she cackled.
I watched the interaction with a smile on my face; no matter what Catherine said, she was a wonderful mother.
A medium height woman with sandy hair and brown eyes made her way to the window, her hands in her pockets. She didn't look a thing like Catherine, but I knew immediately that this had to be Nancy. The way her eyes went from soft when she looked at Lindsey to calculating when she saw me; that was exactly the way Catherine looked on a case.
I was a bit thrown off by her less then friendly gaze until Catherine noticed it and hit her sister on the arm, "Nancy, stop protecting me, this is-"
"Sara!" Lindsey finally noticed me and catapulted off her mother and into me.
"Ah! Oh! Hey there, kiddo." The sudden presence of a little girl in my arms took me by complete surprise. I always think I'm going to be bad with kids, but around Lindsey I was instantly relaxed.
"Yeah," laughed Catherine in agreement, "This is Sara, my coworker, I had some car trouble and she offered to give me a ride." The way she emphasized the word 'coworker' made me realize that Nancy had thought I was some new amusement of Catherine's, someone she needed to protect her sister and niece against.
As soon as she heard the explanation, however she relaxed and smiled, "Oh, Sara! Well, it's nice to finally meet you."
Lindsey wrapped her arms around my neck and bounced on my bladder. Ah, cutie. "Mom, can Sara stay for a little while?"
"Uh " Catherine looked at her watch and then at me, "Do we have a few minutes?"
We had about a half hour and Catherine knew that, this was just her way of asking if I was okay with it. I was more than okay with any way I got to see more of Catherine and her life. "Yeah, absolutely!"
"Hooray!" Lindsey kissed my cheek and threw her arms around me again.
"But only a couple of minutes!" Catherine warned.
I struggled to open the door, "We've gotta get out of the car, kiddo."
Lindsey giggled into my nose, her hands on my face, "Carry me!"
"No, Lindsey. Come on now, you're almost eleven years old," protested Catherine, "You know you're too big!"
"I have an idea," I interjected. Twisting out of the car and putting Lindsey on the seat, I said, "How about piggy back?"
"Yes!" Lindsey enthused. She immediately leapt onto my back and swung her arms around my neck like a tree trunk.
"Hey, you monkey!" I laughed at her as I adjusted her weight. I used her foot to shut the door.
Catherine said, "Oh, Sara, put her down, she's too heavy." But she was smiling.
"Too heavy? Catherine, I bench about 150, this kid is like what? Seventy-five?"
"Seventy-seven!" supplied Lindsey as we walked around the car to join her mother and her aunt.
"There, you see? So I can carry her around until she's twenty five years old- at least."
Lindsey giggled at that and Catherine smiled. I realized that I was rapidly learning to live from one of her warm smiles to the next. Every time one came my way, it was like my life hadn't been complete until that moment.
"Just be careful." Catherine succumbed to her adorable daughter's pout and my grin. I spun around in a circle and Lindsey yelled, "Weee!"
Even though my arms were full with Lindsey, Nancy held out a hand for me to shake, "It's nice to finally meet you."
I managed to shift the little girl's weight and take the woman's hand, "You, too." I looked over my shoulder at Lindsey, "Okay, monkey, where to?"
"Wanna see the pool?"
"No way," I exclaimed with way too much enthusiasm, "There's a pool?"
Lindsey never noticed, she just ate it up, "Uh-huh! Around back, go this way." She steered me with her feet.
Twenty minutes, a glass of pink lemonade, and a bear hug later, Catherine and I were on our way back to work. Catherine jumped in the passenger seat, yelling out the window for Lindsey to finish her homework. She turned to me smiling as she buckled her seat belt, "You're amazing with her."
I laughed, "I don't know why, kids usually hate me."
"You always say that, but I've seen you with Lindsey and the kids of some of the PD, and I've seen you with victims' kids. I don't know where you get that logic, but you're really good with kids. You should have some."
I snorted, "Maybe I'm okay with older kids, but babies scare the hell out of me. And I would be a horrible mother." We turned out of the residential district and onto a main road.
Catherine shook her head, "Babies are different when they're your own. Do you really think you'd make a bad mother?" She looked at me seriously.
I sighed, "I don't know. I always swore that I'd never have kids. I didn't want to risk fucking them up. I was always afraid that if I ended up even a little bit like one of my parents that I would regret bringing a child into this world. But now I'm not sure. If I could be promised one as great as Lindsey, maybe I'd do it."
"Ha! This was one of her good days, she can be a real terror a lot of the time."
"No." I insisted, "She's a great kid. But that's probably to do with her mother being so great." I saw the blushing smile on Catherine's cheeks out of the corner of my eye, "My kids would end up becoming shoplifters or Nintendo junkies."
"I still say you underestimate yourself. I think you would be a wonderful mother. You would love your kids so much. And I'd be there to help with babies. They really aren't so bad."
Wait, wait, wait. Back up a sec. "You'd help take care of my hypothetical babies?" I gave her a look of disbelief.
I shook my head, "Boy, a day in my life. You go from someone who totally hates me to offering to give me parenting advice and inviting me in for lemonade."
"Well, a) Lindsey invited you for lemonade, and b) Sara, I've never hated you."
I raised my eyebrows.
"Okay, so sometimes I wasn't very happy with you and at the beginning maybe I was a little jealous of your sway with Gil, but I've never hated you. I always thought that you were the one that hated me."
"What? No! Catherine, I didn't hate you."
It was her turn to raise her eyebrows at me.
"No," I shook my head, "It's just I sensed right away that you didn't like me, and, going along with my not trusting people thing, it was just a lot easier to be rude to you and not have to risk getting to know you better and getting hurt." As I finished my sentence, I pulled into the parking lot. We still had ten minutes to spare.
As I put the car into gear, neither of us made to get out. We just sat there. After we got out of the car our afternoon, our weekend, would be over. Things would change the moment we walked into that building. Would everything just go back to the way it was? I didn't know.
"So " Catherine began.
"I was just going to ask you."
"Well we've both agreed to keep quiet."
"Yep." There was a long pause, "Do you want to maybe "
"Call a truce?"
"Absolutely." I was never more certain of anything in my life. I knew that I never wanted to fight with Catherine ever again. "You?"
We never even looked at each other.
"So, no more fighting?"
"I guess we should go in "
"Yeah. Uh head with me to the locker room? I need to change." I asked before I realized that I had just condemned myself to undress in front of Catherine."
We got out of the car slowly, why did it seem so hard?
In the locker room I headed toward my extra stash of clothes. I figured that the shirt I was wearing was very impractical. Catherine sat on the bench and I turned away to unbutton my top.
"So what were you and Lindsey talking about? When I was in the kitchen with Nance?"
"Umm...hamsters at first. I think I talked her out of getting one."
"Yeah, now she wants a cat."
I laughed as I pulled the blouse off my shoulders. I ignored the Goosebumps that usually told me I was being watched. "Then we talked about math homework, I guess she's having some trouble with fractions. Anyway, I offered to help her sometime."
"Oh." There was a weird tone in Catherine's voice so I turned around in my sports bra.
"What?" Catherine looked at me with wide eyes.
"Nothing, umm I just didn't realize that you had a tattoo."
"Huh? Oh, yeah, I have four actually "
"And a bellybutton ring?"
I followed Catherine's eyes to the curved barbell through the top of my navel. "Uhh yeah, I'm supposed to take that out for work." I blushed slightly. I had actually forgotten that these would be new sights for her. "I've got four tattoos and three piercings. What can I say? I spent my twenties in San Francisco."
Once she recovered, Catherine was Miss Curiosity. I began to think that having her here was a bad idea this could get awkward pretty fast.
"Three piercings? So, belly and ears?"
"No," I started to put my hair back, my arms above my head unintentionally thrusting my chest forward, "I never got my ears, though I've been thinking about it. Actually I have my tongue and my-"
"Nipple." Catherine was about six shades of pink, but that didn't keep her from staring at my chest.
I hadn't realized that you could see the imprint of the ring through my sports bra when I stretched the way I was. My cheeks got hot and I thought that Catherine and I must be about the same color. "Yeah."
I quickly turned around and reached into my locker to grab a black tank top. "What about you, you don't have any tattoos or anything?" Let's get off the topic of my nipple ring- yes, that's a very good idea.
There was a smile in Catherine's voice when she said, "I didn't say that. I have two, and I used to have a navel ring too, but I let it fill in. It's not conducive to having a three year-old who keeps tugging on your shirt front to get your attention."
I flinched at the idea.
"Hey, how could I have never noticed that you have a tongue ring?"
I shrugged as I re-donned my leather jacket and turned to head out, "I'm not allowed to wear it at work. I had it on last Saturday though. It's kind of a pinky red, so I don't think people notice it right away."
"Well, now that we're friends I fully expect to see it someday. And the rest of those tattoos." We were walking toward the break room.
"Umm, yeah, that's not going to be happening. I'd have to be pretty scantily clad for anyone to be able to see a couple of them." Try naked.
"You told Lindsey that you love to swim," said Catherine, clearly not giving up, "So come for a dip some day after math homework is done. Or are you a one piece kind of girl?" Catherine smirked.
"No, I wear bikinis, but Catherine? A bikini wouldn't show all of my tattoos."
Catherine stopped short at the door to the break room and I just slipped past her, noticing the wide-eyed expression on her face and smiling to myself.
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