DISCLAIMER: These characters and situations do not belong to me in any way, shape, or form. I have borrowed them as part of my sanity maintenance.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A Christmas wish-list fic to darandkerry's prompt.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Jim Brass gazed over his crew. He still called them his crew despite the fact he'd stopped being their boss many years before. Even though they'd all crossed swords many times when he was the boss, this group of people still stood by him through thick and thin. Hell, he even had Gil as his power of attorney, and when he'd needed him, the stoic man had come through.
He gave a sad little sigh when he thought of the missing member; Sara Sidle had been his 'baby'. Maybe it was something to do with losing contact with his own daughter, Ellie, or maybe it was something to do with the 'little-girl-lost' face he'd seen Sara sporting when she'd accidentally had one too many and had been stopped by the traffic cops.
He'd known she didn't really have a problem, but it'd been nice to be able to offer her some support when it was needed, and, if he was honest, nice to have the support accepted.
Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted the only remaining female crew member, Catherine. What was it with the women of CSI? Holly Gribbs murdered on his beat, Sara leaving, and Sofia Curtis transferred to the police department. He smiled to himself; that had actually turned into a very good outcome; Sofia was now one of his most trusted detectives.
Once more, he watched Catherine. He could see she was struggling with the loss of Sara. She'd never admit the fact, but she was; he could see it in her eyes. Since Sara's sudden departure, her eyes had lost some of the sparkle their altercations always helped fuel. Friendly banter, Catherine called it; healthy antagonism, Sara called it. Whatever the definition, it kept the two women at the top of their game, and now it was gone.
And the guys, they missed Sara more than they were willing to admit. Greg had lost his mentor and was obviously blaming Gil for her departure. Nick had lost his friend but seemed to be accepting of her readiness to go. Warrick, was just Warrick; strong and easy going, but hurting inside. And Gil, what could he think about Gil? He was definitely heading for a hard fall if he didn't allow his friends to support him.
"Penny for them, Jim?"
He turned quickly, shocked by the woman he hadn't heard approaching.
"Oh, hey Sofia, it's good to see you managed to get here. We've really missed you these last few months."
"Yeah, I know, and I've missed you guys, too. This damn international spy ring took some flushing out. I never thought I'd resent being able to turn an English accent on at the drop of a hat."
"Hmm, but just think how it'll look on your résumé; Sofia Curtis, especially picked by her Majesty's Government to act on behalf of the United States of America."
"Hardeharhar, Jim. I'd much rather have been here just recently."
Her eyes caught sight of Catherine leaning against the bar, her head in her hands.
"How's everybody doing?"
"Not good. Oh, they're all being very professional, but inside, every single one of them miss her. I take it that's what you mean?"
He pointed to Catherine. "Take Cath for example, she's usually the life and soul of these Christmas get-togethers but look at her now. And she wasn't even friends with the woman, or so she'd have you believe."
Sofia grinned at Jim's remark. She had noticed Catherine, had always noticed Catherine, had sort of thought she had no chance with Catherine because everyone knew she was as straight as a die and, when she wasn't, she and Sara were going at it like rabbits. Guess she'd been wrong about that one all along.
What had really surprised Sofia was when Catherine, of all people, had called her to gossip about Gil asking Sara to marry her. She smiled again. The phone-call from Catherine had lead to a tentative friendship developing; one Sofia was scared of spoiling by admitting her attraction to the older woman. It was one of the reasons she'd accepted the FBI's request to work in London for the British monarchy.
Now, she was back, and she still couldn't get enough of Catherine's legs.
"Penny for 'em, Sofia."
"Oooh, sorry Jim, I was miles away."
"She has got nice legs, hasn't she?"
"Catherine; I remember once seeing her dance, many moons ago; damn, she was gorgeous then. Um, not that she isn't now, but "
"I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about, Jim."
"Of course you do. Why don't you just talk to her; I think you'd be pleasantly surprised."
The two detectives both turned towards the bar and saw Catherine buying another drink. Before Jim could comment on the number he'd seen her already consuming, they were interrupted by a joyful couple of lab technicians. Hodges pulled Sofia off for a dance, complaining all along that Catherine wasn't playing this year, while Wendy offered her arm to a willing Brass.
On the dance floor, Sofia maintained a subtle eye on Catherine, pleased to see Greg managing to get her dancing. For the next hour or so, things almost felt like a normal Christmas party. Once Catherine hit the dance floor, her face flooded with a smile, and her laughter rang around the room.
To Sofia's ears, the laughter was still somewhat forced, but at least, she was letting her hair down a little. Even Gil managed to share a few dances with his friends, and his dance with Catherine to the French Can-Can left not a dry eye in the house. Sofia wondered if he'd ever managed to loosen up while Sara was in Vegas, or if that had been one of the reasons she's upped and gone. Either way, even she could admit he was a more handsome guy when he had a twinkle in his eye.
As Catherine parted from Gil's arms, Sofia was sorely tempted to throw caution to the wind and to ask for a dance, but she was just seconds too late. Instead, Catherine headed to the bar and ordered a large whiskey as Ecklie took to the stage to mouth his insincere platitudes.
Sofia walked to Catherine's side, and they shared a warm smile of acknowledgement. Catherine asked her about England and then surprised Sofia with a swift goodbye. Without waiting for Sofia to respond, Catherine walked out of the dance hall.
Sofia trailed behind, surprised to see Catherine jingling her car-keys.
She shouted out. "Catherine, Catherine!"
In a daze, Catherine turned around. "Yeah?"
"Surely, you're not driving home. You've been drinking, Cath."
"It's Catherine to you, and I haven't had that many." With that she turned and left.
Sofia sighed; hurt at Catherine's treatment of her but also understanding of the reasons. She followed quickly, just managing to catch up with Catherine as she opened the door to her car.
Sofia reached out to touch Catherine's arm as she spoke quietly. "Catherine, I really don't think you should be driving. Please, let me take you home?"
Catherine threw off Sofia's hand and almost fell into the driver's seat. "I don't need your help, and I certainly don't want to be taken home like a silly, young girl. Just leave me be, Sofia."
She slammed the door and powered away from the curb.
Sofia looked around frantically. Luckily, she'd driven over in her work car, and her only thought was to give chase. Maybe she could prevent something too bad from happening.
Within moments, she'd spotted Catherine's car up ahead; at least she appeared to be driving well within the speed limits and in a safe and controlled manner. Sofia held back, hoping to see Catherine safely home. Unfortunately, around the next bend, she spotted a marked police car and saw the tell-tale twitch as the two officers spotted Catherine's car, speeding through the intersection.
Sofia slammed her portable red-light on the roof and set off to pull Catherine over. It was lucky they weren't on the strip as that was highway patrol's jurisdiction. Cutting across the path of Catherine's car, she was pleased to see her pull over safely and doubly pleased to see her police colleagues drive on past.
She got out slowly, catching Catherine's look of shock as she approached the car. Sofia walked to the passenger side, opened the door quickly, and climbed in. She wasn't surprised to hear Catherine's quiet sobs, but she was surprised to feel Catherine's hand grasp hers tightly. Sofia remained silent, allowing Catherine her moment of peace, quietly enjoying the contact with soft, warm skin.
Catherine's gentle caress of her wrist caused a shiver to run up her arm, and her tear-husky voice nearly caused Sofia to hitch a breath.
"I'm sorry, Sofia, you were right. I should have listened; I should have let you drive me home."
Catherine's immediate words of apology shocked Sofia more than she cared to admit; it was as if all the fight had gone from Catherine. Maybe it had, maybe the loss of her sparring partner had dulled Catherine's spirit; Sofia sighed again, she hoped her thoughts were wrong.
"I can still drive you home, Catherine, that's not the problem. The problem is this " Sofia wasn't sure why she was pushing Catherine, but her instincts told her it was the thing to do. " Why drive off like a bat out of hell? Why drink so much in the first place? Why be so damned stupid? Do you know what would have happened to your career if it'd been those patrolmen instead of me? Do you, Catherine?"
"Fuck me, Sofia, of course I know!"
Catherine's curse broke Sofia from her ranting, and she calmed a little. "Then why?"
"I'm not sure I even want to be a CSI anymore. It's just not the same these days."
Sofia dared to ask the question that had intrigued her since she'd seen how bad Catherine was reacting to Sara's departure.
"You mean with Sara leaving?"
"Yes, no, yes; well partly that. It's the cases, too; everything just feels sicker and sadder these days. It's losing Sam, it's Lindsay growing up, it's mom missing her life back home now that Sam's gone, it's Sara leaving and why she left, it's yes, I admit it, it's missing the competition we had together, the way we'd score points off each other to get the best results, but you know what the final straw was "
Catherine stopped talking and turned in her seat so that she could look directly into Sofia's eyes. " the final straw was you just up and leaving. I thought we were becoming friends, and you just left. I missed you, Sofia."
The words struck a chord deep in Sofia's chest, and she leaned forward to rest her forehead against Catherine's. "I missed you too, but I'm here now, I'm not going anywhere again soon, I "
Catherine kissed her.
The kiss was soft, sweet, undemanding, gentle, needy, hard, demanding; everything Sofia had imagined and more. Her brain melted, how could one kiss be all those things? She allowed Catherine to control this kiss, allowed her to pull away, knowing that soon she would have her turn.
"Catherine? Are you "
"Yes, I'm sure, Sofia. I've not had that many that I don't know what that just meant. We've got all the time in the world, huh?"
"Yeah, we have. All the time it takes."
They shared a smile before Sofia pulled Catherine into the kiss she'd been saving for just this night.
It was enough to start tomorrow.
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