DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Another round of thanks to mrswoman for the beta as well as allowing me to ‘chat her ear off’ as I bounced ideas off of her.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Gods and Monsters
By Ann


"I can't believe we're both off for the next two days. So, what do you want to do tonight?" Catherine swabbed a spot on the steering column of the murder suspect's car.

Sara pulled a print from the passenger-side door and slid it into a plastic sleeve before reaching for more fingerprint powder. "How about take-out and a movie? I don't feel much like going out."

"Alright, I'll get the take-out, and you get the movie. Why don't you come over about eight? Lindsay's leaving at seven to go to a friend's house for a sleepover." Catherine smiled. She and Sara had been dating for several weeks now, and she was hoping Sara would consent to staying the night. After their last make-out session, Catherine had almost spontaneously combusted.

At Catherine words, Sara juggled the container of fingerprint powder, just managing to catch it before it spilt all over the interior of the car. "Lindsay's not going to be there?" Her voice cracked with the question.

"No, it's just you and me. That's okay, right?"

"Huh? Oh sure, I, um, was just looking forward to seeing her is all."

Catherine smiled again. Sara was the only person she'd ever dated who actually enjoyed being around her daughter. All the others had avoided Lindsay like the plague.

"Okay, I'll just take these samples to trace and leave you to finish up. I'll see you at the house?" Catherine gathered her supplies and started for the door.

"Yeah, I'll be there." Sara assured, her grip on the powder more secure as she began to dust the dashboard. Catherine stood in the doorway and watched Sara for a few moments before she left the garage. She was going to do everything in her power to make this relationship work.

"Hey, what's up?" Nick strolled into the break room and plopped down on the couch.

"Sara and I are discussing what movie she should rent tonight." Greg turned towards Nick, grinning widely and working his eyebrows up and down. "She has a date."

Nick quickly sat up, his fatigue vanishing and his curiosity piqued. "Oh, really. Who's the lucky fellow?"

"She's not telling." Greg looked back at Sara. With Nick's help, he was sure they'd be able to wheedle the information out of her.

Sara smiled and leaned back in her chair, folding her arms snugly across her chest. "I'm not telling guys, so give it up. Now, let's talk movies."

Both men sighed pitifully. When Sara took that particular stance, there was no way she'd give up the goods.

"Alright." Nick settled back on the couch and looked up at the ceiling in thought. "Damn, what was the name of that awful movie Sherry made me go to? You definitely don't want to rent that one."

Greg frowned. "Sherry? Wasn't she that bleached blonde accountant by day, stripper by night?"

Nick grinned like a fool. "Yeah, she was."

"Hey, we're supposed to be discussing movies here." Sara tried to refocus the conversation, the ghost of a smile forming at the corners of her mouth.

"Oh yeah, I remember now. 'Gods and Monsters' was the name of the flick. How could I have forgotten? It was terrible. Whatever you do, Sara, don't get that one."

Overhearing Nick's assessment, Ecklie strolled in and stood in the middle of the room, immediately offering his unwanted two cents. "Wasn't that the one with the dirty old man? That has to be the worst movie ever made."

Sara immediately disagreed. "I saw that film. It was great."

"Oh, c'mon, Sidle, the guy was a pervert. He made that reporter strip down to his skivvies."

Sara stood her ground. "No, he wasn't. He was just an old man having some harmless fun. After all, the reporter went along with it. He didn't have to if he didn't want to. And besides, that was just one part of the film. It went so much deeper than that."

"Jeez, Sidle; he played the kid, promising answers for the removal of articles of clothing and don't get me started on the gardener. He lusted after that guy." Ecklie shook his head, clearly disgusted.

Nick and Greg's heads twisted side to side as Sara vied with Ecklie.

"Yeah, at first, but things certainly changed for him." No one seemed to notice the sad tone of Sara's reply.

"No it didn't. He was a fag from the beginning to the end, even in the flashbacks to his youth. And what was the whole monster thing? I didn't get it."

Sara glared at the lab supervisor. "I didn't realize you were homophobic, Ecklie."

"What? When did I say that?"

"Fag? You do recall saying fag, don't you?" Sara stood to her full height, readying herself for battle.

"Um, Sara..." Nick, at last, decided to cut in, trying to calm his friend before she dug herself into a hole she wouldn't be able to climb out of.

"It's just an expression; I didn't mean anything by it, Sidle. You know, methinks the lady doth protest too much." Ecklie smirked and glanced over at Nick and Greg.

"If you're going to quote Shakespeare, Ecklie, at least get it right. It's 'the lady doth protest too much methinks'."

"That's what I said. Are you deaf as well as a dyke?"

Nick pushed to his feet. "Hey! You're out of line, Ecklie."

"Why? Because I called Sidle on her deviant behavior; I've known she was a queer long before she proved it by defending the…" Ecklie used his hands to form quotations, "… 'homosexual' director in that idiotic movie."

Sara moved into Ecklie's face. "You're an asshole, Ecklie."

"That's enough, Sidle." Ecklie sneered, inches from Sara's face.

Walking over to the faced-off pair, Nick took Sara's arm to pull her away, but Sara shrugged out of the grasp, turning back to the lab supervisor. She was way too angry to hold back now.

"None of your promotions have ever come because of your merit. You're just a fucking, ass-kisser, Ecklie. I bet you have stock in ChapStick."

"Okay, that's it. You're done for the night, Sidle. In fact, you're suspended for the rest of the week, and if you don't apologize to me by Friday, it'll give me great pleasure to fire your ass."

Greg finally came to life. "You can't do that. You came in here and purposely started a fight with Sara."

Ecklie turned his gaze towards the graveyard shift's youngest member. "You're more than welcome to join Sidle, Sanders."

Greg moved to stand but stopped at Sara's words. "Don't let him bait you, too, Greg." Sara started towards the door, turning at the doorway to issue instructions to her colleague. "Greg, make sure to check with Wendy on the DNA from the Carter case."

"C'mon, Ecklie. Let this go. Sara's right; you did bait her. You can bet that Greg and I will let everyone know how this went down." Nick clinched his jaw, waiting for the lab supervisor to come to his senses and reconsider his rash decision.

Ecklie just nodded his head. "You and Sanders can do whatever you want. The suspension stands. Sidle . . ." Ecklie turned to address Sara, but she'd already left.

"Lindsay! Your ride is here!" Catherine grabbed the take-out menus from the side of the refrigerator and shifted through them, quickly deciding on Thai.

"Mom, I'll be home late tomorrow. Mrs. Harrington is taking us to lunch and then to the movies." Lindsey raced through the kitchen and kissed her mom on the cheek.

Catherine smiled at her daughter's gesture. Usually, it was like pulling teeth to get Lindsay to show any affection.

"Here's thirty dollars. Make sure you pay your own way."

"I will. See you later." Lindsay was through the door before Catherine could reply. Catherine chuckled and reached for the phone.

An hour later, she sat at the table alone, surrounded by take-out bags.

"Damn it, Sara. The food's going to get cold." Catherine grabbed her cell and punched in Sara's number. When she'd reached Sara's voicemail on both her home and cell phones, she called the lab. Three transfers later, she was talking to Nick.

"Hey, Nick. Listen, I was looking for Sara. She has, um, some information about one of my cases."

"Aren't you off for the next two days?"

Catherine sighed; she wasn't in the mood for polite conversation. "Yes, thank God, but I was worried about this case. I just wanted to be able to sleep soundly tonight."

"Well, Sara won't be able to help you; she's been suspended. You want me to patch you through to Wendy?"

"What? What do you mean she's been suspended?" Catherine jumped from the chair, frantically searching for her purse.

"She and Ecklie got into it last night about some stupid movie. He baited her Catherine, called her a dyke, and then suspended her when she defended herself."

Catherine immediately saw red. "Listen, Nick. I've got to go. Don't say anything to anyone about this until I've had a chance to talk to Grissom, okay?"

"Alright, Cath, but tell Grissom to talk to Greg and me before he confronts Ecklie."

"Will do, Nicky. Talk to you later." Catherine flipped her cell closed and walked out the door. First things first, she had to get to Sara.

The lights were off in the apartment, and Catherine almost drove away, figuring Sara must have driven to either Lake Mead or the spot in the desert she'd recently told Catherine about. However, a glow from behind the curtains of Sara's apartment window had the redhead switching off the ignition and climbing from the car.

At the door, Catherine held up her hand to knock but hesitated at the last moment. If Sara hadn't answered her phone, chances were she wouldn't open the door either. A quick smile crossed Catherine's face when she remembered the key Sara had given her just last week. Inserting the key into the lock, she opened the door and stepped inside the dimly lit room, softly pushing the door to as she allowed her eyes to adjust to the lack of lighting in the room.

Sara was sitting on the couch, engrossed in a movie, and from her lack of movement, it was obvious she had no idea that she was no longer alone. Catherine narrowed her eyes and eased forward to give Sara a piece of her mind when the scene of the movie suddenly cast a bright light on Sara's face, illuminating the tears that were streaming down her cheeks.

Catherine clamped down on her jaw, and without a word, she walked towards the couch and sat next to Sara, placing her arm around the other woman's shoulder. Sara laid her head on the nearby shoulder but never took her eyes off the screen. The two women sat in silence as the movie played on.

As the closing credits rolled across the screen, Sara finally spoke, her voice a raspy whisper. "I screwed up, Catherine. I should've walked away from Ecklie, but I didn't."

Catherine gestured to the screen. "Because of that movie?"

Sara nodded her head and closed her eyes. She didn't want to see the disappointed expression on Catherine's face when she laid into her.

"I bet he was being a homophobic prick! Nick said Ecklie was way out of line, that he baited you. Hell, Sara, as far as I'm concerned, you probably showed restraint. I would've just decked the son of a bitch."

Sara turned towards Catherine, opening her eyes to see firsthand the fiery blue eyes. "He'd have never called you a dyke, Cath. You can bet he'd have figured someway to include me in the conversation, probably hoping that I'd overhear. He's going to fire me this time, Cath. There's no way I can apologize."

Catherine smiled slightly, moving a strand of hair that had fallen into Sara's face. "You apologized to me."

"Yeah, well that was different. I never should've said those things to you."

Catherine chuckled. "Yes, you should have. We were both caught up in the heat of battle, saying things we didn't mean."

"See, that's why I can't apologize to Ecklie. I meant every word I said."

"I'm sure you did." Catherine drew Sara closer. "Tomorrow, I'll go talk to Grissom. With Nick and Greg's account, I'm sure he can persuade Ecklie to change his mind concerning your suspension. If not, I'll have a little chat with the asshole myself."

"Slaying my monsters for me, Cath?" Sara smiled and placed her head back on Catherine's shoulder.

"You say monster, Ecklie says god."

Sara laughed. "He does think he's a god, doesn't he?"

"Oh, yeah. It's time someone finally put him in his place."

The two women sat in comfortable silence, each caught up in their own thoughts. Sara was the first to express hers.

"You know, growing up, there were monsters everywhere. I'd have given anything to have some white knight ride up on his horse, slay them, and take me away from the nightmares. Then, I got older and realized he was never going to come, that I was on my own."

"You're not on your own anymore, Sara. You've got me; you've got Nick, Warrick, Greg, and even Grissom. You don't need to fight your battles alone."

Sara smiled. "Maybe I should've been wishing for a beautiful princess to come save me instead."

"Maybe you should've." Catherine sighed, wishing she could've saved Sara all those years ago, but she was here now, and nothing was going to stop her from defending Sara tooth and nail.

"At least Whale had a prince to save him at the end."

Catherine kissed the top of Sara's head; the gesture intended to take the sting out of her reply. "Um, Sara? He killed himself."

"Yes, but only because Clay gave him the strength to finally end it."

"Sara, you're losing me here. How can you say Clay saved him?"

Sara sat up and turned in Catherine's arms. "Don't you see, Cath? The monsters would've never left him alone. The memories were intensifying, becoming more brilliant in detail with each passing day. He'd have gone mad."

"He was mad, Sara. He tried to get Clay to kill him."

"Only because he didn't want to die alone, Cath; he thought that if Clay killed him it would make his death more bearable."

"Well, dead is dead as far as I'm concerned. It doesn't matter how it's achieved."

Sara gently placed her hand on Catherine's face and slowly leaned forward, her need to feel alive suddenly too great. Their lips met in a reverent kiss, and Catherine had to force herself to let Sara set the pace. Endless minutes later, Sara pulled away and smiled.

"Thank you, Catherine. Thank you for being my princess."

Before Catherine could respond, fingers to her lips halted her words. Sara pushed to her feet and extended her hand, and Catherine didn't hesitate to grab hold. Interlacing their fingers, Sara turned and silently led Catherine to the bedroom.

All thoughts of Ecklie, gods, and monsters faded to the background.

The End

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