DISCLAIMER: Alas, for shame, 'tis not mine.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: It's cliché, especially the end, but I'm a romantic and I don't care. This is just something I wrote in chemistry when I should have been paying attention and working, but that would require effort and caring on my part, so I wrote this instead. Please give me some feedback and help me make my writing better if you would. Thanks.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Crystal

Home. That was all she had ever really wanted in life: a place to call home, the proverbial opposite of everything she had ever known. She wanted a safe place to go at the end of the day, with warm colors and whispered words of adoration from her lover, a big green backyard with at least one really big tree and maybe, if she was choosing to be completely honest, a white wooden swing; she wanted an open house with windows everywhere; … she wanted love. That was wanted more than anything, and what she truly wanted to call home more than anything; love. She had once hoped beyond hope that maybe someone could love her. But, then again, Sara Sidle had given up on hope many years ago, if she had ever believed in it; she couldn't ever remember believing in hope, hope didn't keep you safe at night.

You could quite easily attribute this cynical, closed-off nature to Sara's extreme shock when she had answered the door one morning after a particularly trying shift to find Catherine Willows standing on the threshold, looking for all the world resigned and weary.

Sara stood there, dazed at her unexpected guest, and then Catherine shifted her weight from one foot to the other, pulling Sara back to where she was. Sara asked hesitantly if Catherine wanted to come in. Catherine, suddenly self-conscious, rubbed her palms over her watering eyes and nodded, stepping past Sara.

Finally, seated on the couch with a cup of tea for herself and Catherine, Sara cut right to the chase. "Catherine, what… wh- are you okay?" she asked, shifting her body sideways on the couch to see the other woman better.

Slowly, Catherine nodded, taking a sip of her herbal tea, letting the scorching liquid burn her throat.

"Which is why you're here? If you you're okay, then this is just a social call? I'm not stupid; you don't come to me for casual conversation," Sara prompted, careful not to make Catherine mad. The last thing she wanted was for another fight to break out between the two.

"I'm… sorry, Sara. You 're right. You probably have better things to do," Catherine finally spoke, her first words to Sara an apology.

"No, I have no life outside of work; when the spirit moves me and all that," Sara said, unable to keep the bitter words from so long ago in check. Mad at herself when she saw the instant flash of hurt in Catherine's eyes, Sara got up and moved across her apartment to close the curtains on the window. She stood there for another moment, taking deep breaths. She really wanted to be helpful. She wanted to rebuild burnt bridges with the older woman as part of her 'be more of a friend to everyone' campaign. The women had proven that they were stronger united and Sara wanted that back, even if she had to swallow her inner bitterness to get it. So, one more deep breath, and she turned around. "Look -" she started, but she stopped when she saw that Catherine was softly crying. Guilt settled deep in Sara as she moved back to her place on the couch.

Sara sat down right next to Catherine awkwardly. "I'm sorry, Catherine," she said softly, but it did nothing to alleviate the tears already flowing. "Please don't cry, Cath-"

"No, no, Sara, it's not … it's just … they won't stop," Catherine burst out, burying her head in her hands, "I didn't know where to go, and I just thought of you …"

Sara couldn't help it when her heart broke. She realized that Catherine had no one she could really go to when she needed someone, a rebellious daughter and overbearing mother at home, and her new supervising position had alienated her from most of her old friends at the lab. Sara carefully reached out and drew Catherine into a gentle embrace. Sara just rocked Catherine slowly, stroking her hair and whispering soft reassurances to her. Sara knew more than anyone what it was like to be separated from everyone she worked with.

Catherine just continued to cry softly, letting herself be held in Sara's strong yet gentle arms, until she pulled back just enough to look at Sara, seeing silent tears running down the other woman's cheeks. She couldn't help herself but to reach out and brush a tear off of Sara's face. "What are you crying for?" she asked, not angrily, but softly and … tenderly.

"You … me … everything, I guess. I can't help it," Sara laughed just a little, she really couldn't stop the tears. Something about Catherine hurting just made her hurt, too.

"That's one of the things I love about you," Catherine said, her voice still soft, barely above a whisper, her hand still resting on Sara's cheek, the other unconsciously settled on Sara's waist, and she realized how close they were and that Sara's arms were still comfortably around her and that her very soul seemed to be laying bare before Sara's chocolate brown eyes and Catherine really wanted to …

"You gonna be okay?" Sara asked, almost breaking the moment until she reached out to tuck a strand of Catherine's hair behind her ear, leaving her hand to rest on Catherine's neck.

Catherine nodded slightly, "I think, I hope …"

And there was that word again. Sara almost wanted to pull back for fear of that word. Almost; but Catherine's icy blue eyes held her still and made her want to … hope.

Then Catherine's lips met hers and Sara knew that she could believe in hope, that she always had. But with the passion and fire and softness and tenderness that Catherine brought to her in that moment, Sara realized that she didn't need hope; she was home.

The End

Sequel In The Arms of the Angel

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