DISCLAIMER: Characters are definitely not mine – I'm making no
profit from this
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I've only watched the 1st series of CSI, so all my characterisation is based on that. Thanks to my beta reader Rachel.
SPOILERS: some from season 1
Sara followed Catherine back into the suspect's bedroom. "Hey, you alright?" She had heard the strain in the older woman's voice as she accused the woman of killing her six-year-old daughter.
"Er, yeah." Catherine looked anything but, the tension and anger clearly visible on her visage.
Sara was not used to offering comfort, but had been concerned about Catherine ever since they began working the carnival case. The blonde woman had taken a personal interest that had bordered on the obsessive. Sara tried something she seldom did with any of her colleagues; she extended an invitation to share some of her personal time. "Since, er, we skipped lunch, wanna get something to eat? Walk it off?"
Catherine barely heard the suggestion. Her head was swimming. The investigator had never felt such rage. How could a mother kill her child to make her new life easier? It was inexcusable. She couldn't help but compare Sandy Dantini to her own daughter. Lindsay came first no matter what or who came into her life, and yet she managed to work full time and continue her study. Poor Sandy didn't figure in any of her mother's future plans and had been drowned in the Tunnel of Love. If it weren't so horrific, Catherine would probably laugh at the irony of it all.
Realising that she needed to respond to Sara's suggestion, the older woman shook her head. "I gotta go home. Thanks, rain check?"
Sara was disappointed but not really surprised. She suspected that the only thing Catherine wanted to do was hug her daughter and try and block out the tragedy. She nodded acquiescence at Catherine's put-off. "Uh huh." The tall dark-haired woman turned to collect the rest of her belongings and did not even see Catherine leave. "I'll finish off the report for you too," she muttered, slightly bitterly.
"You say something?"
Sara jumped and turned to face Jim Brass. She had forgotten that he had been with them. "Nothing. Just talking to myself," she answered.
"We're taking her in now. You set?" Jim Brass knew that both women had been affected by the case, just as he and his colleagues had. This sort of case was one of the reasons he was glad that he was no longer head of the C.S.I department.
Sara nodded. "I'm going back to the lab to finish off the report." She shrugged her jacket on and walked out, taking long purposeful strides down the hallway. Brass followed her quickly, shaking his head slightly. He would have put money on Sara burying herself in work, and guessed that Catherine had rushed off to see her daughter. He too would go home as quickly as possible. His children might be older, but they would always be his little girls in his eyes.
Catherine gripped the steering wheel of the car tightly. She stared resolutely ahead as she headed for her destination but could see the blanched white skin pulled tightly across her knuckles indicating the death grip she was using. Her initial impulse had indeed been to find Lindsay and reaffirm the love she had for her. Then she recalled that her sister had offered to look after Lindsay overnight. Tempting though it was to go over and take Lindsay back for the night, Catherine knew that she would probably end up upsetting her daughter by disturbing her routine and annoying her sister for taking advantage and abusing her good will.
As soon as she had made up her mind not to disturb the arrangements already made, Catherine found herself driving with no destination in mind. She recalled a telephone call she had received earlier in the day from Paul Newsome, the civic engineer she had worked with a few weeks earlier. An offer of a meal and a mindless night of sex appealed; she wanted to forget the case and feel loved herself, but as the blonde changed direction and headed down the interstate, she realised that she was not thinking of David at all, but the final conversation she had with Sara. It was rare that the young level 3 investigator opened up, let alone socialise with anyone. Yet she had been prepared to spend time with Catherine and the older woman had given her the brush-off without a second thought.
Catherine smiled wryly for the first time in what felt like forever. She might not have given Sara a second thought at the time, but she couldn't stop thinking about her now. She mulled the whole case over, along with their interactions. There was something indefinable about Sara. She was an enigma, barely giving anything of herself away. Catherine recalled how she had teased her about her perceived lack of generosity when Sara asked about getting a present for Lindsay. And yet in reality, Sara was prepared to give something far more precious than money and had offered her free time without any ulterior motive.
She was practically at Paul's house before she yanked the steering wheel to execute a u-turn and head back to the CSI headquarters, knowing that Sara would still be there; if not finishing the Santini case, then looking at some other case evidence. Suddenly, a meal and mindless sex with someone she barely knew held far less appeal than dinner with her dark-haired colleague.
Sara ran a hand through her hair as she stared at the computer screen. Putting the finishing touches to the Santini case had left her strangely dissatisfied. It was one part of being a CSI that she did not like. Now that all the evidence had been collated, the case would be concluded in the law courts and the outcome would depend on how good a lawyer the woman got. It should be enough that Sara and Catherine had uncovered the whole sorry story, but the cynic inside the brunette would not allow her to consider it a victory until she knew the outcome of the trial.
She was also mulling over her rebuffed dinner invite with Catherine. She was surprised at how deflated she felt by the older woman's deferral. Sara had admired the blonde woman discretely ever since she joined the team. Knowing the woman's background, Sara had resigned herself to a look but don't touch existence around Catherine, but the Santini case had greatly affected the CSI 4 and Sara wanted nothing more than to try and comfort her in any way she could. Apparently inviting her out to dinner was not such a good idea, and Sara wondered if Catherine had guessed her sexuality and did not want to give her the wrong signals. Sara just hoped that it hadn't marred their professional relationship; she valued Catherine's experience and enjoyed working with her.
She was so caught up in her musing that she didn't hear the door to the lab open and jumped visibly when a familiar voice called out.
Sara spun her head round. "Catherine. I thought you had to be somewhere." A smile split the younger woman's face as she spoke.
"I was gonna go home and see Lindsay. Then I realised that she's supposed to be with my sister all today and overnight. I didn't want to upset her routine." Catherine's explanation rolled off the tongue easily and she felt no compunction to reveal her second destination. "Is dinner still an option?" She asked hopefully.
Sara's smile widened as she stood up. "Well, I'm still starving, so that's a definite yes."
"Well come on then. Unless you want to finish up here first?" Catherine gave Sara the option of continuing but there was no conviction in the comment. She raised her eyes slightly as Sara grabbed her jacket and hurried to the door. "It makes a pleasant change to see you hurry away from work," she teased lightly.
"It's not often I get a better offer," the taller woman riposted, slipping past Catherine quickly and striding towards the exit. She hoped that the flush to her face cooled before Catherine caught sight of it. She silently berated herself for so overtly flirting with the blonde woman the second she was back in her presence, but the words had tumbled out of her mouth without thought. She heard Catherine's footsteps as she followed her out of the building.
"You don't even know where I'm taking you yet," Catherine continued the light tone of the conversation, already glad that she had returned to take Sara up on her original idea.
Sara turned. "Uh uh," she shook her head. "I'm taking you out, my treat. It was my idea first," she insisted.
Catherine shrugged indifferently. "Okay. Just as long as I get to return the favour."
Sara's heart skipped a beat. Surely Catherine wasn't flirting with her. "I'll hold you to that," she returned, a grin plastered across her face again. "You want me to drive or did you want to follow?"
"As you're taking me to dinner, you can drive," Catherine told the taller woman. She had to admit that she was in no mood to drive any further after twice changing direction since leaving the Santini property.
Sara nodded and led the way to her car. A short drive later found them at a quiet restaurant off Freemont Street. Both were hungrier than they realised and ordered a good quantity of food.
"You still off the meat?" Catherine teased.
Sara nodded, shuddering at the memory of a pig wrapped up in a blanket as a case study to prove a murder. "It might take a while," she admitted ruefully.
Catherine smiled as her food arrived, a rare fillet steak with salad. "You don't know what you're missing," she commented, attacking the flesh with relish.
Sara laughed. "I'll just have to live vicariously through you," she retorted.
"Only if I let you," the blonde responded, popping a small morsel into her mouth and relishing the flavour.
Sara shook her head with a smile and set to work on her own meal. The two women fell into easy conversation, mainly on old cases and discussion about the latest investigation techniques that were currently in vogue. Both were surprised at how relaxed they were and how much they enjoyed each other's company. They both steered well clear of the Santini case however, knowing that it was too raw for them to discuss it with any sort of rational objectivity. Despite their avoidance, Catherine still couldn't help mulling over it in silence and allowed herself several glasses of wine to compliment her meal.
It was only when they received the bill that Catherine realised that she had drunk too much wine to legally drive home. She looked ruefully at Sara. "Do you mind giving me a lift home? I'll get a lift in tomorrow."
Sara nodded. "No problem. You'll just have to stay awake long enough to give me directions," she jibed, noticing the smaller woman's heavy eyelids.
Catherine shook her head slightly. She was more buzzed than she had originally thought. "I'll be okay, as long as the air con is on full blast."
True to her word, Catherine dutifully directed Sara to her house. As the Tahoe stopped on the drive, the blonde turned to her chauffeur. "You comin' in for coffee?"
Sara hesitated for a fraction. There was nothing she wanted to do more, but she didn't want to make a fool of herself in front of the woman she had secretly admired since joining the unit. Somehow, despite having consumed a good quantity of wine, Sara knew that Catherine would still have a sharp eye and good perception. However, Catherine didn't appear to be waiting for an answer as she had already lurched out of the vehicle and was currently fumbling in her bag for her keys.
After watching the blonde drop her bag twice in quick succession, Sara knew that she could not leave without at least making sure Catherine was safely inside. She mentally prepared with a fervent wish not to make an idiot of herself and hurriedly got out the car, locking it remotely as she hurried to pick Catherine's bag up before the older woman fell over. "Want me to look for your keys?" she offered.
"Thanks." Catherine smiled gratefully. Somehow, every time she managed to locate the elusive bunch of keys, she managed to drop her bag. It was getting tedious. Thankfully, Sara took no time at all in retrieving them from her bag and Catherine waited for the younger woman to open the door.
"I'm not going to set off an alarm am I?" Sara asked worriedly as she put the key in the lock.
Catherine shook her head. "No. Come on, I can hear the coffee calling."
Sara grinned and pushed the door open before standing to one side and allowing the owner of the property to enter first. She tensed as Catherine brushed past her and bit down on the moan that was threatening to break from the back of her throat.
Catherine headed straight over to the kitchen and the coffee maker. "I can't bear instant, so you'll have to wait for it. Is that okay?" she asked, looking back over her shoulder.
"Yeah, sure," the taller woman agreed, hovering in the hallway.
Catherine noticed and smiled. "You can come in you know. Make yourself comfy."
Sara studied the blonde for a second before walking over to the couch and sitting down. She took in and then exhaled a deep breath, willing herself to stay calm and relaxed. She had had no problem when they had been at the restaurant. There had been a table between them and food to take her eyes away from Catherine's beautiful face. Now, she had nothing to hide behind, and she was feeling more and more nervous by the second. It didn't help when the couch suddenly jolted as Catherine crashed back onto it unceremoniously.
"You okay? You look kinda tense." Catherine sat back on the lounge and allowed her head to roll to one side in order to look at the younger woman.
"I'm fine. Didn't want to make a mess," Sara replied, mentally kicking herself for such a lame reply.
Catherine laughed throatily. "I have a 5 year old daughter, Sara. What makes you think this place is ever neat?"
Sara couldn't help but laugh at that. And then found herself relaxing a bit more. "I don't know. Probably just thinking how immaculate everything has to be when you're working."
Catherine nodded lazily. "You're the same. It's a case of not wanting to lose any information." She hesitated for a second, looking at the brunette's profile. "You're so beautiful," she sighed quietly.
Sara stiffened instantly as her head spun round to face Catherine. "What?"
Catherine smiled. The taller woman's sudden defensiveness was endearing. "You are beautiful." She pronounced each word slowly before bringing up a hand to trace Sara's jaw line. The buzz of wine Catherine had been experiencing evaporated as she realised the truth of the statement. She had noticed Sara watching her before and had been secretly flattered at the attention. The CSI 4 had always found Sara attractive, but had never thought about changing the nature of their relationship. Catherine was not one to muddy the workplace, but there was something irresistible about the tall brunette and Catherine was beginning to wonder how long she would be able to stick to her self-imposed rule. As she saw the flush creep up Sara's neck in response to her compliment, she forgot the rule completely and leant in to kiss the other woman's inviting lips.
Sara was lost. One moment had her sitting on the couch looking at the most gorgeous woman, and the next moment had that same woman initiating a kiss that sent her senses reeling. She could feel her heart trying to escape from her chest as Catherine's soft lips caressed her own. She gasped as she felt Catherine's velvety tongue brush her lower lip, seeking permission to deepen the embrace and suddenly they were duelling for dominance and exploring each other's mouths ravenously. Sara wrapped her slender arms round the smaller woman and slowly tugged her towards her body, leaning back to lie on the sofa.
Catherine, feeling Sara manoeuvre her body underneath, adjusted her own accordingly, allowing the brunette to lift up her legs even as she moved her own onto the couch, the two women entangling each other as they craved every touch.
Eventually, she pulled her face away slightly so that she could gasp in a deep breath of much needed air. She looked into Sara's deep brown eyes and grew light-headed again as she acknowledged the passion directed at her.
"God, what took me so long to do that?" she murmured softly.
"I don't know. But you have no idea how glad I am that you did," Sara replied with a small grin before capturing the older woman's lips again in a searing embrace.
Catherine returned the kiss ardently. Her self-imposed rules be damned. She wanted this woman. She would deal with any consequences later.
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