DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of these characters. I do this only for my sanity.
NOTES: Written for LJ Group Femslash_Today: Guns and Microscopes Ficathon. Request from LJ user emily1982. Prompt: Stars.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Guiding Light
By Debbie


Catherine and Warrick strolled back into CSI headquarters after a grueling night collecting evidence at a multiple vehicle accident. Grasping the door handle Catherine turned to her colleague, in the process missing the rushing brunette barreling towards her. Before Warrick could mutter a warning Sara Sidle had knocked Catherine off her feet, jumped in her Denali, and sped off into the distance with nary a backward glance.

Warrick helped Catherine back on her feet, muttering, "Boy, Sara sure looked spooked there."

Catherine shrugged her shoulders and offered Warrick a rueful smile; at least it wasn't her doing this time.

Continuing into the building the two friends walked in silence, each deep in thought. If truth were known their thoughts were following a similar path, Sara Sidle and her obvious distress. Catherine wondered what had derailed Sara this time though she hankered that she could make a safe bet; some kind of familial abuse case.

Of late the two women had started to be more open and friendly, for the first time in over five years they had worked side by side without any major spats for many a month. It seemed as if their major blow-out during the Russian mail-order bride case had been the final straw to break the camel's back of their animosity. Mutual apologies during Nick's kidnap saga had guided the two women to a better relationship. Catherine now considered Sara as dear a friend as any of her male colleagues and if Sara was hurting she was hurting too.

Reaching the evidence lab Catherine was not surprised to see Nick and Greg with worried looks on their faces. Crossing over to Greg she rubbed the small of his back soothingly and murmured, "What was all of that about?"

Surprised, Greg looked up, misunderstanding in his gaze.

Catherine enlightened Greg, "Um, we just got barreled over by Sara. What happened?"

Nick just pushed one of the photographs, laying on the evidence table towards her and intoned in a voice Catherine could tell was only false indifference. She knew Nick well enough to know this was his way of coping with a bad case.

"Multiple bodies. Husband stabbed in the heart by wife. Wife self-inflicted femoral artery wound, bled out at scene. Arterial blood flow sprayed across walls and floor and sitting in the middle of all this blood and gore," his voice hitched a little unable to hide the horror, "a young girl, holding tight to her mother's hand, mute."

Turning back to look into Greg's face, she could see the paleness and the tears that were threatening to spill. Deep down she knew there was more, all she had heard so far wouldn't have freaked her two male colleagues quite so much, Sara maybe, but Nick and Greg, no. She prodded, "And…"

Greg took up the tale in a shaky voice, "Sara took the young girl in hand, went to the hospital with her, stayed there for hours, running the evidence, encouraging and eventually listening. Finally left the girl in the hands of foster carers then came back here, refused to give in until she'd told us the story. You know what she's like."

"What did she tell you?" Catherine urged.

"The girl was being abused by her father as her mom decided enough was enough. Literally. She was there throughout the massacre."


"Um, as she told us the tale, she spotted this photograph," he held up one of the father with bulging eyes, so obviously dead, but with a look of pure hatred ingrained on his face, that even Catherine winced, "and then turned on her heel and left. The rest you know."

Catherine's heart missed a beat in silent heartbreak for her younger colleagues but more so for Sara. Catherine had always known that domestic abuse cases were at the heart of Sara's troubles but had no idea of the whole reason why. Pondering these new facts she thought she had even more of an understanding. Looking around at her worried friends she made the only decision she could; Sara needed a friend that much was obvious, and she, Catherine, could finally be just that.

In a tone that brooked no argument she ordered, "You lot take a break, the evidence can wait. You all need it. Leave Sara to me."

With that she left the men with even more astonishment on their faces.

Poking her head around Grissom's door she quickly filled him in on the happenings so far that night.

"Gil, I know you know more than you are letting on and I don't want to pry." Seeing the shock on his face she smiled ruefully. "Yeah Gil, Sara will tell me when she's good and ready, and not before, but I do want to help her. Things have changed between us and I need to be there for her. So, if you've any idea where she may have gone, please tell me."

Grissom smiled at Catherine's admission but ignored it for another time. Thinking back through his odd conversations with Sara he remembered her once talking of her thinking place. "She likes to go out to Lake Mead Observing Site to look at the stars and think."

As always Grissom had some information lying around, he passed her directions, then silently shooed her away. Catherine nodded and left.

Driving quickly but carefully Catherine was soon pulling up at Lake Mead. The car park was empty save for three cars, one of which Catherine was pleased to see was Sara's black Denali. Alighting her car she looked around for any clues as to Sara's destination. A small map indicated a viewing area by the side of the lake; Catherine decided to take a chance.

Shivering at the cool air, she turned back to her Denali and picked up two CSI jackets. Putting one on she slipped the other under her arm and approached the viewing site. As she walked she became aware of a low keening sound, similar to the noise a distressed cat might make when cornered by a hunter.

Finally, she turned the corner towards the shoreline and saw Sara's strong body shuddering with heavy dry sobs. Wanting nothing more than to pull Sara into a deep embrace, she knew enough not to startle Sara in this state and quietly called out, "Sara?"

Sara jumped slightly and gave Catherine a watery smile. The redhead walked over and placed her hand carefully on Sara's shoulder. Despite their recent improved relationship Catherine still found it hard to share her touchy-feely side with Sara, always feeling as if Sara would resent the touch, but now, feeling Sara's easy acceptance of her hand she had no hesitation in immediately sitting beside the younger CSI to envelop her in a strong hug.

Silence reined while Catherine offered warmth and comfort to Sara. The smaller woman drew Sara's head onto her shoulder and gently wrapped the CSI jacket around her shoulders before breaking the silence, "Jeez Sara, it's a little chilly to be out here star-gazing, what gives?"

Her question may have seemed a little out of place but Catherine knew enough about her friend to know that a direct question about her emotional state would pull the blinds on any connection. This way the older woman hoped to draw Sara out of her reverie until she was ready to share her emotions.

Surprisingly, Sara chuckled. She was astute enough to recognize Catherine's ploy and was grateful for it. Enjoying the comfort and warmth being offered her after the horror of her preceding hours, she dared to wrap her arms around Catherine's waist.

The easy working relationship that had been developing between the two women made Sara want more; she'd always found it hard to make friends and regretted the perceived distance between herself and Catherine; tonight that was going to change she was sure. Now, looking up into Catherine's expressive blue eyes Sara appreciated Catherine's concern and the fact she'd bothered to drive out to find her and decided then and there to offer something of her life to Catherine.

"When I was little Grammy used to call me her 'little bear'. As a teenager I had a girlfriend into Astronomy and as we made out under the stars she taught me their names. When Grammy left me, I kinda got attached to Arcturus, 'the bear watcher'. If Grammy couldn't watch over her little bear maybe the bear-watcher could." As she spoke she indicated the star in question in the sky.

Catherine listened intently, amazed that Sara was sharing something so personal with her. She stroked Sara's back as her words continued.

"Grammy was the only one that ever listened to me, so when she'd gone, whenever I needed comfort or to think, I'd find somewhere to look up in the sky and search for Arcturus, my Grammy's star. Since being in Vegas I come here."

Lost in memories Sara fell into her scientific role with ease. Catherine realized that, in Sara's way, this sort of talk was cathartic, and just allowed her to continue without interruption, surprisingly finding comfort herself in Sara's steady drone.

"Arcturus is the brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere. It follows Ursa Major, the Great Bear, around the north celestial pole." At this point Sara lifted her head off Catherine's shoulder and grasped her hand. Pulling behind Catherine's slighter body she rested her chin on the redhead's shoulder as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Then pointing their joined hands upwards she showed Catherine where her special star was situated. "You can find it by using the Big Dipper as your celestial guidepost; just follow the arc of the handle until you come to a bright orange star, that's Arcturus."

Pressing her cheek to Sara's, Catherine murmured, "Even I know the Big Dipper so it'll be easy to find." Seeing Sara's doubtful glance, Catherine laughed as she corrected herself, "Or it will be if you're with me. It's beautiful, Sara, would you to show it Lindsay?"

Wrapping both arms around Catherine, Sara whispered, "I'd like that, Cath. You too. Maybe we could make a date of it, one night when we're both off?"

As if noticing the position they were sitting in Sara suddenly dropped her hands and added shyly, "Um, well not a date as such, um, a time, maybe?"

Catherine, without the strong arms wrapped around her immediately felt the chill and, not wanting the closeness to end, grabbed Sara's hands and held them tight across her abdomen, "A date would be good, hon. Really."

The redhead could feel the smile that tugged at the corner of Sara's smile at her answer and grinned herself. Turning to look into the dark eyes of Sara, she rested slender fingers against Sara's cool cheek and said with as much conviction as she could convey, "If you ever need to talk, about anything, I'm here. Stars are lovely, this place is lovely, but maybe one day you'll let me be your star, huh?"

Sara's eyes filled with warm tears at Catherine's words and the redhead quickly pulled her in to standing, "Come on, hon, it's cold. Let's get back to base and get warm. We'll come back here, I promise."

Sara pulled her jacket on, smiled at Catherine, and offered her hand. Walking back towards the car park area, her shoulder rubbing gently against Catherine's, Sara thanked the powers that be for her Grammy's star. Once again it's power had guided her to a better place.

The End

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