DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for a challenge in the LJ femslash_fluff community involving a very unstable chair and concern.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Golden Opportunity
By Ann


"Son of a bitch!" Sara cursed, falling to the floor as her teammates burst into fits of laughter. From her awkward sitting position, she threatened, "If I find out who put this broken chair back at the table, I'm going to kick his ass."

"Hey! What's going on?" Catherine raced into the room, her eyes immediately tracking to the floor where her colleague still remained and, judging from the brunette's expression, Sara was obviously quite pissed off.

Making her way over to the seated woman, the temporary supervisor caught sight of the mangled chair and turned to question the rest of her team, "Who moved the broken chair from the corner?"

Three sets of shoulders shrugged in unison, but the smiles never left the three men's faces. Passing a cursory eye over her team members, Catherine couldn't tell from their guarded expressions if they were all innocent or all guilty, but the redhead seriously hoped for the former. She certainly didn't need her team to engage in a round of practical jokes, knowing that their fun and games would probably never end until Ecklie got involved, and the current supervisor had no desire to see his ugly mug at any time during her command.

Taking Sara's extended hand, she whispered, "Are you okay?"

Grimacing, Sara reached for her tailbone. "For someone with a broken ass, I'm doing great."

As Catherine pulled her lover to her feet, she leaned in close and purred, "If you can hang in there tonight, I'll kiss it and make it better in the morning."

Sara slowly straightened and pasted on a smile. "Look, I'm already better." The brunette desperately tried not to limp the few steps to the table as she gingerly took a seat in a more stable chair.

Catherine watched with concern as her lover slowly moved towards the empty seat. Sara rarely complained and never showed any sign of weakness in front of others; however, it was obvious that she struggling not to show how much pain she was in.

Feeling guilty for laughing, Greg leaned over and asked softly, "Are you okay, Sara? You really hit the floor hard. I'm sorry I laughed at you; I didn't realize you'd been hurt."

The brunette thanked her colleague for his concern while keeping an eye on Warrick and Nick for their reactions. Warrick was nodding his head in agreement with Greg, but Nick pursed his lips and turned a nice shade of pink. Sara knew she'd found the culprit and immediately began to plan a proper payback for her colleague.

Assignments were quickly handed out and, thankfully, Sara drew Greg and not Nick. She didn't think she could work so closely with the Texan without letting on that she was aware of his high-jinks and, right now, she needed to concentrate solely on blocking her current pain. It was going to take everything she had to stay focused on her crime scene.

Her hip seemed to be getting worse by the minute, and she secretly hoped their scene didn't have any stairs because, frankly, she wasn't sure she'd be able to manage. Sitting in the Denali and riding on the bumpy streets was going to be bad enough.

Reading the address, Sara sighed in relief; the two were assigned to a smash and grab at a downtown jewelry store. The fingerprinting should be a snap for Sara as she was finding a slightly bent over position to be less painful than standing erect or bending over fully. She just hoped she was going to be able to last until the end of shift.

The scene was indeed simple, only requiring fingerprinting, and for once, the brunette didn't complain about the tedious work. She just listened quietly as Greg grumbled throughout the entire procedure and, two hours later, the pair were headed back to the lab with Sara's hip silently screaming in pain.

Pulling next to the building, Greg offered, "Sara? Why don't you go on in, and I'll park and bring in our kits?"

Grateful, Sara sighed in relief. "Thanks, Greg. I think I'll do that." Slowly climbing from the truck, she made her way into the building under the junior investigator's watchful eye. Greg tracked his friend's sluggish movements and quickly decided that the minute he logged in the evidence, he was going to find Catherine.

Entering the lab, Sara headed directly for the locker room. She flipped the privacy sign on the door to indicate 'only females allowed' before stepping into the room and closing the door behind her. Releasing a deep breath, she threw off her tough guy facade and walked with a pronounced limp towards the mirrors located on the far side of the room.

She eased off her vest and reached for her belt. Unbuckling it, Sara pulled it from the loops, focusing on the button and zipper of her jeans to keep her mind off the intense pain radiating from her hip. Several minutes later, she'd finally managed to lower her pants enough to inspect the damage.

Her entire right side was a nice shade of black and blue, and her hip area had started to swell. She knew she'd hit the floor hard, but she had no idea how hard until now. Just as she reached to pull her jeans back up, a gasp sounded from behind her.

"Sara! We need to take you to the hospital and get an x-ray. You could have a broken tailbone," Catherine said in a worried tone, moving closer to her lover to get a better look.

"Oh, no. No hospitals. Besides, I've had a broken tailbone before, and this isn't it," Sara protested vehemently, preparing for the inevitable war of words.

Lightly running her fingers over the bruised and swollen hip, Catherine quickly pulled her hand away when her lover hissed in pain. Looking the brunette directly in the eye, she insisted, "You are going to the hospital, and that's final."

"No…I'm…not." Sara enunciated her words slowly and with emphasis.

"Oh yes, you are." Catherine placed her hands on her hips, blue eyes flashing in anger.

Knowing she wouldn't win this particular argument with her current strategy, Sara changed tactics, whining, "Catherine, I hate hospitals. I really did break my tailbone in college, and trust me; I wouldn't have made it this far into shift if it was broken. Can't I just go home?"

Not happy with the final outcome, but pleased that the brunette had so easily agreed to call it quits for the night, Catherine replied sternly, "On one condition."

Turning big brown eyes on her lover, Sara asked pitifully, "What?"

"I'm going home with you, and if the pain gets worse, then I'm taking you to the emergency room." Catherine stood her ground, knowing Sara would have to agree to her terms if she wanted to avoid a trip to the local hospital.

Hesitating, Sara finally acquiesced to her lover's conditions. "Deal, but what about the rest of shift? They'll be down two people."

"No, they won't. Grissom came back from vacation early, and it's a slow night. Not only that, Nick will be working your next two shifts, and Grissom's agreed to cover for me as well. So, you'll have plenty of time to recuperate, and I'll be right there to make sure you don't do anything stupid," Catherine explained as she helped the brunette back into her jeans.

Nodding, Sara leaned heavily against her lover as they started towards the door but, just as Catherine unlocked the hasp, Sara said, "Wait a minute. Nick's off the next two days. He's going on a camping trip. That's all he's been talking about for the past week."

"Not anymore," Catherine supplied in a sing-song voice, swinging the door open and coming face to face with an obviously upset Nick.

"Catherine! What's this about me working the next two shifts? I signed up to be off for these two days a month ago."

The redhead smiled and calmly replied, "Hey, Nick? Did you know that Sara may have a broken tailbone all because someone decided to play a practical joke and place an unstable chair in a position where a team member would inevitably sit? Greg and Warrick are already slated to work the next two nights. I'd have thought you'd want to do everything you could to help an injured colleague."

Nick's anger immediately turned to concern as he focused on Sara. "Oh man, Sara. I didn't realize how badly you'd been hurt. I'll gladly take your next two shifts. You just go on home and don't worry about a thing. I've got you covered."

"So, any news on the culprit?" Catherine interrupted, watching as Nick suddenly began to fidget.

"Um, no, but I'll get on it right away, Catherine. You just take care of Sara, and I'll get to the bottom of the practical joke," Nick promised, holding the door for the two women to walk through.

As the couple exited the building, Catherine insisted Sara stay at her house until she'd made a full recovery, and the brunette didn't offer any resistance whatsoever, alerting the redhead that she needed to get her lover home quickly.

Helping the brunette into her car, Catherine grimaced every time Sara moaned, but thankfully, she got her buckled up safely. Closing the door, she jogged around to the driver's side and climbed in.

"Catherine, you do know that Nick was responsible for moving the chair, don't you?" Sara asked, turning her head towards her lover.

Catherine smiled smugly. "Oh, yeah. How do you think I was able to talk Grissom into making him cover your shifts? It was easy to persuade Gil that this was the perfect payback and that there would be no need for retaliation when you returned to work, and Sara? I want you to promise me that this *will* be the end of it."

Looking into clear blue eyes, Sara decided that Nick missing his camping trip was probably payback enough. Besides, she was going to be spending the next forty eight hours in the company of her lover and, even though she was far from one hundred percent, she couldn't think of anywhere else she'd rather be.

Leaning back in the seat, she closed her eyes and smiled. She never actually promised Catherine that she wouldn't retaliate at some point in the future, and to be quite honest, she wasn't sure she'd be totally happy until she'd finally extracted some kind of fitting revenge on the guilty Texan.

A soft hand took hold of hers and squeezed, and then Catherine slowly intertwined their fingers; the gesture simple and loving, causing Sara to rethink her payback plan.

Maybe she wouldn't seek Nick out. Maybe she'd just wait until the perfect situation presented itself. Then it wouldn't be considered payback anymore; it would just be considered a golden opportunity.

Now, that was something Sara could live with. Opportunities came in all shapes and sizes, and right now, she planned to look upon this injury as the perfect golden opportunity to enjoy the next couple of days in the company of her beautiful lover.

Yeah, paybacks could definitely wait.

The End

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