DISCLAIMER: Take one look at my bank account and you will find that I obviously don't own this show or these characters. I'm just borrowing them for a little while so their real selves can come out to play.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm totally hooked on the first season of CSI. I have the DVD set and watch at least two episodes almost every night. Since I came into the CSI fan fiction field a little late, it makes sense that I'm just now writing a first season story. ::grin:: This is the way I see Sara and Catherine's relationship advancing if they had addressed their lack of a developing friendship early in the first season.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Cj

In The Beginning

He was engrossed in the paperwork he had been putting off, so the knock at his door was a surprise. He glanced up to find his young protégé standing in his doorframe looking uneasy.

"Sara, what can I do for you?"

He could tell she was troubled but hoped it was something simple that pertained to work. Dealing with personal problems, his or anyone else's, was not his strong suit. His hopes were dashed, however, when she fully entered his office and shut the door behind her.

"I need to talk to you about something."

He took off his glasses and watched as she paced around the small space. She was nervous, which was not a good sign. He wished she would just say whatever was on her mind, but he knew that Sara had to be ready before she would open her mouth.

"Look, you've got to stop calling on me when you need a mole. I can't be a part of the team if the team doesn't trust me."

Although he was a little shocked over the subject of her admission, he was prepared for her bluntness. It was just another Sara Sidle trait.

"Okay," he drawled. "Where is this coming from?"

He asked the question, but he knew the answer. He had been witness to the latest confrontation between the young woman in front of him and his lead CSI. Catherine had been giving Sara a hard time since the level 2 had appeared in Las Vegas approximately six months earlier. He wasn't entirely sure why but he had his ideas.

"I may never be friends with these people, but I would like for them to respect my work. They can't do that if they can't trust me and they can't trust me if I'm your go-to-girl whenever you want to spy on them."

"Is there anything else?"


He knew there had to be something more than what she had already voiced, but another minute passed before she continued.

"When you have me to track someone, like Warrick, and then you completely dismiss my findings without offering an explanation, I feel like you're writing me off to protect your favorite CSI. In turn, I get angry and everyone around here treats me like I'm deliberately setting out to ruin their friend's career." She took a deep breath before adding, "I know you think you're teaching us something when you let us work out our issues by ourselves, but sometimes just being told the information is enough. If you had explained what Warrick had been doing at that casino, I wouldn't have gotten so outraged and we could have worked together better."

"I think you did fine, Sara."

It was his turn to pause and he worded his next statement carefully.

"If I had told you, then whatever feelings you had toward Warrick would never have been addressed. The two of you needed to get some things out in the open before you could start building a successful working relationship."

The expression on her face told him that she could not believe that he was once again lecturing her.

"Look, Sara, you're right. The next time I need to investigate someone in my department, you won't be my first call. I want you to be a part of this team. You already are, whether you know it or not."

At first, he thought she was going to argue with him, but, finally, she just smiled and nodded her head.

"Thank you."

Grissom just shrugged.

"Hey," he said before she could open the door. "You should talk to her."

Sara stood completely still and kept her back to him while answering.

"I don't know who you're talking about."

"Sara, talk to her," he urged. "She likes you. She respects you. You and I both know you're not worried about Warrick and Nick. They're easy and you have no trouble relating to them. You wouldn't her either if you would just talk to her."

"She's never given me a chance," she all but whispered.

"Then take one."

Sara, once again, just nodded then disappeared.

Taking A Chance

When she could, Sara avoided spending any time with Catherine. It wasn't that she disliked the older CSI, quite the opposite actually, but she couldn't stop her mouth from running away from her whenever she was around the strawberry blonde. Sara knew that the two of them made a good team, but she also knew that the level 3 brought out the worst in her. For some reason, whenever they were together, Catherine caused the younger woman to lose control of her emotions. When she wasn't looking at the other woman in complete awe, Sara was trying to one-up Catherine, whom she desperately wanted to impress.

The subject had been distracting the level 2 CSI for several days, especially since her conversation with Grissom earlier in the week. For now, she was in the break room trying to work on paperwork, but she couldn't concentrate. Instead, she was staring off into space, lost in her own thoughts.

"Hey, Sara, you seem preoccupied. You okay?"

The voice startled her, and she dropped her pen. Glancing up, she noticed her colleague sitting across from her nursing a cup of coffee. She had no idea how long he'd been there.

"Oh, yeah, I'm just thinking about something," she responded sheepishly.

"Anything I can help with?"

Sara seemed deep in thought for a long moment, weighing whether she wanted to discuss what had been on her mind. Eventually, her curiosity won out over her embarrassment.

"Nick, you and Catherine work well together. You laugh, talk, get along well. Why can't she and I do that?"

"You're too much alike," he answered immediately, his charming smile growing even as he spoke. The indignation quickly settled on Sara's face and was apparent in her tone.

"What do you mean? We're nothing alike! She's stubborn, bossy, arrogant."

"Brilliant, self-motivated, beautiful, determined, dedicated. Sara, the two of you are so similar it's no wonder that you don't get along," he laughed. "You take her too seriously sometimes." Off her annoyed look, he sighed but continued. "Listen, instead of arguing with her or getting angry when she argues with you, try compromising. Hear her out and ask her to listen to you. Talk to her. Get to know her. Let her get to know you." His smile vanished and he reached out to touch her hand. "Sara, you and Catherine are an unbeatable team when you work together. Nothing gets by either of you and you're both willing to work until you can't walk to solve a case. Just don't let competition get in the way of that."

He flashed her another grin before standing and disappearing. Sara wanted to disagree with him but she couldn't. Although she had never considered that she and Catherine were too much alike, now that the thought had been planted, she could easily see the truth behind it.

The problem was, of course, finding common ground. Although they had worked together on several occasions, they had rarely made time to have a conversation outside of job-related issues. Everyone thought Catherine and Sara disliked each other, and neither woman had made an effort to dispel that idea, which now worried the brunette. Her respect and admiration for the older CSI had grown tenfold since their first case together and she found herself wanting to be the other woman's friend. The thought that Catherine really didn't like her made Sara's stomach ache. She knew what would happen if they continued on the road they were on. In the end, what everyone thought now would become reality later.

So Sara decided to formulate a plan. Although she had no idea how, she would make an effort to open up to Catherine a little bit more and would force the other woman to do the same.

"Grissom said you wanted to talk to me." Sara's head snapped up at the sound of the recognizable voice, and the surprise she was feeling was clear in her expression. "You didn't want to talk to me?" Catherine asked, her confusion evident at the other woman's reaction.

"I, uh, well.Would you like to have breakfast with me?" she stuttered, adding, "Right now. We could go to that new place down the road."

"Sure. Let me grab my jacket." Catherine was almost out of the door before she turned back to her colleague. "Sara, are you okay?"

"Yeah," she responded. "Fine. Why?"

"Nothing. You've just seemed anxious the last few days. Is there something going on?"

"No, not really. There was something but I think I've got it figured out." Although she didn't look entirely convinced, Catherine just nodded her head. "But thank you...for caring," Sara added.

"Uh, yeah, sure. I'll meet you outside in five, okay?"

Sara just smiled as she watched the other woman disappear. She gathered what she had been working on and put it away before heading to the car park. She wasn't sure what would be happening next but she had a good feeling. Going out to breakfast, just the two of them, was a good start to developing a friendship. Or, at the very least, a better working relationship.

"You ready?" Once again the younger CSI was caught with her mind in space. This time, however, she recovered before her companion noticed.

"Most definitely. You wanna drive?"

"Nope. You can do the honors."

Sara smiled as she unlocked her Tahoe. Both ladies got in and buckled their seatbelts. The radio came on as soon as the SUV was cranked. Catherine reached to lower the volume but she didn't switch it off. As Sara pulled out of the garage and turned onto the highway, she noticed the other woman's head swaying to the music.

"I never figured you for a blues fan."

"Blame Grissom. He's not a huge fan, but once, about eight years ago, we worked a case involving a local blues singer. Gris started throwing out facts and trivial information. I, on the other hand, took the time to listen to the music. I found the rhythm soothing. A whole new side of sexy."

Sara glanced at her passenger and felt herself smile again. It was rare that Catherine shared this kind of familiarity with her.

"You don't strike me as a blues fan, either. What's your interest?"

"Back in Tamales Bay there was a little coffee shop about four blocks from my house. When I wanted to get away from my family, I would hide out there. No one from my high school would have been caught dead in that place and I could work or read in relative quiet. Blues music was usually on in the background. I guess you could say I learned to like it."

"I can see that," she said. "A younger Sara Sidle hiding out in the back corner of a dark bar working on scientific arguments that should have been beyond her grade level."

Sara started to disagree but bit her tongue before she opened her mouth. Maybe, she thought, Nick was right. Perhaps she did take Catherine too seriously. So, instead of arguing, she laughed.

"You're right. I did spend a lot of time alone, but I had good reason."

"Really. Want to share?"

"At some point, yeah. It's not something I want to talk about now though." Bad memories from her younger years flashed through Sara's mind. For a moment, she was silent before shaking herself out of her thoughts and continuing with her light tone. "And I had friends. My best friend, AJ, was actually a lot like you."

"How so?"

"Well, she argued with me all the time," she replied playfully. "Never gave me any slack. She challenged me, and she always watched out for everyone she cared about. She was smart and compassionate, and a hard worker with a unique sense of humor."

Catherine felt her cheeks reddening from the compliment. This was a side of her companion she was not accustomed to experiencing and she wasn't sure how to respond.

"What? No checkered past?" she said nonchalantly, trying to cover her wariness. A smile was her only answer. "So, what happened to AJ?"

"We're still friends. Not as close as we once were. After college, we went our separate ways, but we stay in touch. I'm not sure what happened."

Catherine knew from Sara's tone that there was something else about the story she wasn't telling. She also knew that the younger woman wouldn't explain until she was ready. Before she had the chance to even ask, Sara was parking the car outside of a small diner past the strip. The two women made it inside and to a table before speaking again.

"So, what are you in the mood for?" Catherine questioned as she looked over the menu.

"I think I'm in the mood for breakfast food, like pancakes."

"You still off the meat?"

Sara glanced up at her associate in surprise. She hadn't realized Catherine even knew that she had given up meat.

"Uh, yeah. Since that experiment with the pig, I can't force myself to eat anything that was once alive."

Both women smiled as the waitress appeared.

"You ladies ready to order?"

"Yeah," Catherine said. "I think we'll both have the pancakes with coffee." She turned to Sara. "You want anything else? Maybe some orange juice?"

"Sounds good."

"So, Sara, have any big plans for the day?" Catherine asked once the waitress had gone.

"Not really. You and I both know that I'd still be at work right now if we weren't here. I'm still getting adjusted."

"How's your apartment?"

"Nice. Comfortable. I haven't even finished unpacking yet," she admitted sheepishly, which made Catherine smile. "But I plan on finishing it next weekend. How about you? Any plans?"

"Same as every other day. Go home, do laundry, shower, sleep, pick up Lindsay, eat dinner, drop Lindsay off, go to work. It's a vicious cycle."

"What about on Saturday?"

"Uh, no, nothing right now. Why?"

"Well, I was thinking, if you wanted, that we could take Lindsay to the zoo. I mean, I haven't been to the Las Vegas zoo yet, and I'd like to get to know Lindsay better. We've only met a couple of times."

Curiosity and surprise warred in Catherine's gaze at the other woman's offer. Suddenly, she remembered the conversation she'd had with their boss earlier in the day.

"Sara, what did you want to talk to me about earlier? What did Grissom mean?"

The brunette took a deep breath and sighed. She was saved from answering by the arrival of their food but as soon as the waitress disappeared, Catherine pinned Sara with her eyes.

"This, Catherine. Us, talking, having an actual conversation. We've never done this before."

"Okay. You're right. We haven't, but what's the big deal?"

The level 2 hesitated but finally said, "I...I want us to be friends. I thought it would be a good start if we spent some time together, got to know one another better."

Sara could see the astonishment once again flicker across the older woman's face and felt the blush heat her own. When the younger woman ducked her head, Catherine smiled. She couldn't believe how cute Sara could be when embarrassed.

"Sara, I...I'm surprised." She hastened to add, "But a good surprised. What, uh, what brought all this on now?"

"Honestly? Fear. If we keep going the way we've been going, we'll lose the chance to develop a solid friendship. I don't want to do that."

Both women were flabbergasted at what Sara was revealing because neither of them were used to this level of honesty from the brunette. At first, Catherine wasn't sure what to say.

"I'd liked us to be friends," she said, settling on a simple response. "And I'm sure Lindsay would love to go to zoo on Saturday. Are you sure you're ready for a day with a six year old?"

"I can handle you all day. She can't be any worse."

"Watch it, Sidle, or I'll feed you to the lions."

As they finished their meal, their conversation shifted to less intense matters, and Sara's grin reflected her newfound lightheartedness. Maybe, she thought, this could be the start of what she had been looking for all her life. Just maybe.

What Now?

"Since, uh, we skipped lunch, wanna get something to eat? Walk it off?" Sara asked, concern tingeing her voice. For a moment, she wasn't sure the other woman had even heard her.

"I gotta go home. Thanks, rain check?"

"Uh huh."

The older woman quickly made her way outside without another glance at her friend. All she wanted to do was go home to see her daughter, but when she reached her car, she remembered that Lindsay was sleeping over at a classmate's house. Instead of going back inside, she just leaned against her Tahoe lost in thought. A little while later, she wasn't sure how long, a voice startled her out of her reverie.

"Hey, you okay?"

Catherine looked up to see Sara. Even in the dim lighting, the younger woman could see the worry lines etched on her colleague's face.

"Yeah, just thinking about this damn case."

"Lindsay's sleepover is tonight?" Catherine just nodded, not at all surprised that Sara would remember that detail of her life. "Are you going to be alright?"

The level 3 took a deep breath before actually looking at the other woman.

"I just don't get it. How could anyone hurt a child, especially a mother? I just don't get it."

The look of devastation on Catherine's face caused Sara's heart to break. She moved forward until she was leaning next to the redhead.

"I don't understand either. The only thing I can tell you is that woman in there is sick. She doesn't realize what she's lost, what a gift she's thrown away. But we got her, Cath. She's going to prison, hopefully for the rest of her life. We gave Sandi that much."

"It's more than her mother gave her," Catherine whispered. They stood in silence for several long moments lost in thought, staring at the stars.

"You should go home. Try to get some sleep," Sara finally said.

"Only if you come with," Catherine replied, surprising them both. "I don't want to be alone."

"Okay. Let's go."

Catherine handed Sara the keys to the Tahoe and the brunette accepted them without a word. That hush continued until they reached Catherine's house and were inside. The older CSI left Sara to lock the door behind them and flopped onto the couch in the living room. With her eyes closed, she only felt the other woman join her.

Sara took an almost guilty pleasure in watching the woman sitting next to her. She rarely got the opportunity to study Catherine so intently and so up close. The younger CSI avoided her sudden urge to pull the other woman near to her. That urge had been manifesting itself quite frequently in the last few months and with each instance, Sara had a harder time resisting the temptation. Catherine, being the tactile person that she was, didn't help. It was a trait that she had passed on to her daughter, who Sara was growing very attached to, and something that Sara enjoyed immensely.

The silence between them was broken by the ringing of a phone, which pulled both women out of their trances. Catherine glanced at Sara before reaching for the cordless.

"Hello," she said, her tiredness evident in her tone, but a second later, a smile replaced her frown. "Hey, baby. How ya doing? Good. Having fun? No, I finished early, so I came home. Of course, I would never forget you. I'll pick you up from school tomorrow and we can have ice cream. I don't know, sweetie, but she's here if you want to ask her."

Sara was surprised when Catherine handed her the phone with a smile.

"Hello. No, I came home to keep Mommy company. Uh, well, I don't know. I should be. Why? Ice cream, huh? I think I can stick around for ice cream. Can I have double chocolate? Okay, sounds like a plan. Alright, kiddo, I'll see you tomorrow."

The smile on Sara's face caused Catherine's smile to grow. Taking back the phone, she moved closer to the younger woman and leaned back into the couch until she was sitting cattycornered.

"I'll see you tomorrow, Lindsay. Sleep tight. Yeah, I'll make sure she's there. She's going to stay with me tonight and I won't let her out of my sight. I promise. Alright, sweetie, good night."

Catherine hit the end button and returned the handset to its cradle. She turned to Sara, who blushed when she realized the other woman had caught her staring.

"So," the brunette said. "Am I being held captive?"

"Yes. I'm supposed to make sure that you show up for ice cream tomorrow." Catherine watched Sara for a moment before continuing. "My little girl is quite infatuated with you, Miss Sidle. She talks about you all the time."

"I'm glad. I like her, too. It'll be good to see her. It's been too long."

"That's what she said. She likes it when you spend Saturdays with us."

"Well, we could take in a movie this weekend. Maybe hit the mall. I need new boots and I know how much Lindsay loves to shop."

"She would love that, but I don't think you know what you're in for. Taking Lindsay to the mall is like taking Grissom to a bug convention," Catherine laughed.

"I'll take my chances," Sara answered with a grin. She studied the woman across from her for a long moment, which made Catherine's smile vanish.


"Nothing," Sara nodded. "I'm just glad to see you happy."

"Having you here helps. Some cases." Catherine sighed and closed her eyes. "Some are hard to get out of my mind, especially those involving children. I just don't understand how anyone could harm a child, a little girl who just wants to go to an amusement park, to spend time with her mother."

Sara let the other woman talk, hoping that she would get all her thoughts out in the open. After a moment, the anguish in Catherine's voice caused the younger CSI to reach out her hand to her friend, who squeezed Sara's fingers tightly.

"Thank you," the strawberry blonde whispered.

"I'll always try to be here, Cat. For you and for Lindsay," Sara said and tugged on Catherine's hand, pulling the shorter woman into her arms.

They settled quickly, falling naturally into a comfortable position. Catherine's head was tucked under Sara's chin, her arms around Sara's waist. Sara took in the fresh scent of Catherine's hair, burying her nose in the soft tresses. After a while, Catherine's breathing evened out and she was leaning more heavily against Sara, who responded by hugging the other woman tighter. The last thing the younger CSI remembered was thinking she could definitely get used to falling asleep like that every night.

Moving Forward

"Sara," she questioned, her mind going into overdrive. "What if the attacker wasn't a stranger?"

The brunette moved closer to her colleague but didn't interrupt the other woman's thought processes. She knew that Catherine was on to something, most likely something that would break the case. Besides, Sara loved to watch the blonde work. Her approach to an investigation held an almost hypnotic quality that the younger CSI admired.

"Let's try something," the senior CSI said as she stood. "The attacker was behind his victim, holding her with one arm around her shoulders and the other around her waist."

Catherine turned so that her back was to her colleague. Sara, taking the hint, put her arms where instructed and pulled her friend closer to her body. At the contact, the taller woman had to bite back a moan. It was getting harder and harder to deny her attraction to her coworker and moments like these made it even more difficult.

"The victim tries to get loose by squirming around to loosen his hold," Catherine continued. As she spoke, her movements mimicked her words. Sara instinctively tightened her grip while the woman in her grasp tried to pull Sara's arms loose with her free hands. When Catherine stilled, her friend's clasp loosened but didn't fall away. "This isn't right. Tonya's attackers wouldn't have left her hands unattended." Catherine pulled away from Sara slightly and put her own arms to her sides. "Now, try again." Sara once again wrapped her arms around the smaller woman. Catherine tried to move but found she couldn't. "See. Tonya knows who attacked her. Whoever it was, she trusted him. She let him get close."

"How do you know?" Sara asked, her voice low next to Catherine's ear.

"This is a lover's embrace." As if to prove her point, Catherine completely relaxed into Sara's arms. "You only let someone you trust, someone you love, this close. It's a loss of control."

The younger CSI felt her face become flushed at her friend's words and actions. Catherine's hair brushed her cheek when the blonde moved, and for a moment, Sara closed her eyes enjoying the sensation. She knew this experiment would fuel her imagination for many nights to come.

"What are you doing?" Sara's eyes flew open at the sound of her boss's voice, but she didn't let the woman in her arms go. Catherine was still leaned against her.

"Working on the Simpson case. I think we've got it figured out."

"Looks like fun," Grissom responded, a barely suppressed smirk marking his face.

"It is," Catherine answered, her voice vibrating through Sara's body.

"Keep up the good work," he said before disappearing down the hallway.

"Good thing Greg can't see us. We'd have to pick up his jaw from the floor."

I know how he feels Sara thought as she released her colleague.

"So, did, uh, did Tonya mention anyone special in her life?" the level 2 CSI asked to get her mind back on track.

"No, but I don't think it'll take much to convince her. Let's go."

Three hours later, the two women returned to CSI headquarters with a suspect and a confession. It hadn't taken their victim long to turn on her boyfriend and an even shorter amount of time to find and arrest him.

"I'm going to take these to the evidence room," Sara said, holding up the bags that held the clothing the man had worn during the attack.

"Okay, I'm going to start on the report." The women separated but didn't get far before Catherine called out to her younger colleague. "Hey, Sara, want to grab breakfast when shift is over?"

"Definitely," the brunette answered and turned back toward the evidence room with a smile.

After she finished checking in the evidence, Sara wandered down the main hallway of CSI lost in thought. Although the majority of her free time was now spent with Catherine and Lindsay, Sara still felt nervous whenever she had the opportunity to be with Catherine alone outside of work. The women had taken to having breakfast together after shift most mornings and had even picked up a usual table at their favorite restaurant. The easy camaraderie they had formed was occasionally bombarded with moments of palpable, yet pleasurable, tension. But those moments confused Sara and she wasn't sure what to do about them. She still hadn't fully admitted to herself how she felt about the other woman but it was becoming harder and harder to ignore the feeling in her stomach whenever she was around Catherine.

"Sara." At the sound of her name, the brunette turned to see her boss coming toward her.

"Grissom. What's up?" she asked, pulling her mind from her thoughts.

"You and Catherine seem to be getting along better these days."

"Yeah, we've become friends. Thanks."

"You make a good team. Speaking of which, how's your case coming along?"

"Good. Solved," Sara answered. "Cat's doing the preliminary paperwork right now."

"The boyfriend?"

"Yeah, our vic broke soon after we started questioning her. She told us where we could find the boyfriend. We got a warrant on her ID, and the DNA matched."

"Good work. Aren't you and Catherine off tonight?" Sara nodded.

"We're taking Lindsay to the night show of The Pied Piper just outside of Greensboro."

"Have fun."

"I'm sure we will. See you tomorrow, Gris."

"Bye Gil," Catherine said as she passed Grissom in the hall. "You ready to go?" she asked when she was in front of the tall woman.

"Yeah, I'm starved."

"Good. I've got a surprise for you."

Sara followed behind her friend like an excited puppy.

"A surprise? What is it?"

"If I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise, now would it?" she replied teasingly.

"Aww, Cat. C'mon. Tell me."

"Not yet. Get in the car."

Sara whined but did as she was told. After they were both settled and Catherine had pulled out onto the highway, the younger woman turned to her friend.

"Am I going to like it?"

"I hope so."

"If you tell me what it is, I'll tell you if I'll like it," Sara argued reasonably, which only caused Catherine to laugh.

"You'll know soon enough."

"Cat, you just missed the turn."

"I thought we'd have breakfast at my house."

"Is that part of my surprise?"


"So far, I like it," Sara responded quietly. Catherine just smiled. The rest of the ride was made in silence, neither woman saying a word until they were inside Catherine's house.

"Want some orange juice and pancakes?"

"Sounds good."

"Wash your hands. You get to help."

"Forcing me into manual labor can't be my surprise," Sara said as she took off her jacket and made her way to the sink. Catherine's only response was to swat the other CSI on her bottom with a dishrag. "Ouch. Hey!"

Sara turned to grab the rag and instead got a handful of Catherine. The two women lost their balance in a tangle of arms and legs and landed on the floor in laughter. Sara was very aware of Catherine's body pressed into hers and the other woman's ragged breathing tickling her collarbone. Looking down into the blue eyes of her friend, Sara felt her heart stop.

"Seems we've spent most of the day in each other's arms," Catherine said as she settled a hand on Sara's hip.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. You?"

"Wonderful," Sara answered and felt the heat rush to her cheeks. She started to extricate herself from their predicament but Catherine's hand on her outer thigh stopped her.

"Sara. Sara, look at me. Please."

Against her better judgment, Sara looked down at the woman in her arms. There was a pleading quality to Catherine's voice and the same was in Catherine's eyes. Before Sara could formulate a question, Catherine's lips were on hers. The kiss was soft, gentle, and more pleasurable than even her dreams had imagined. When Catherine pulled away, Sara kept her eyes closed. She didn't want to see the regret on her friend's face.

"Sara." The brunette just nodded. "Sara, baby, was that okay?" Again, Sara just nodded. Don't get your hopes up she told herself. Catherine was at a loss on how to get Sara to talk to her, so she did the only thing she could think of, she kiss the other woman again. A few minutes later, when Catherine pulled back again, she smiled at the moan that escaped Sara's lips. "Are you going to talk to me now?"

"If I don't, will you kiss me again?"

"No." Sara's eyes opened at that answer.

"What do you want to talk about? I'll tell you anything." Catherine laughed.

"You can start with how you liked your surprise."

"I...you mean.Cat?" the taller questioned, her confusion evident.

"I'm sorry, Sara. This isn't exactly what I had in mind, but I'm not going to complain." Catherine wiggled a little bit, her body sliding down Sara's taller frame with ease.

"This was a setup?" Sara asked incredulously.

"I got tired of waiting on you. I had to do something to speed things up."

"You little vixen! I can't believe.." Catherine didn't give her the chance to finish her sentence before claiming her soon-to-lover's lips for another passionate kiss.

"Sara, we need to talk," the blonde said after a few more kisses. The other woman sighed but nodded.

"Yeah, I guess we do." At the despondent look on her companion's face, Catherine caressed her cheek.

"No worries, sweetie. This is just the beginning. We'll get back to the good stuff soon."


"I promise."

Sara believed her.

Looking Back

"Can we go for ice cream?" Lindsay asked as she got in the car.

"Sure, but don't you want to go get Mommy first?" The brunette driver asked. Lindsay shrugged.

"If you want but we don't have to. Mommy won't let me get two scoops before dinner."

"Ahh. Well, we can't have that. Let's just keep it you and me, huh?" Sara smiled and checked the rearview mirror to ensure her charge was buckled in before pulling out of the school parking lot. "So, what did you do today?"

Lindsay's answer lasted all the way through ice cream and the drive home but Sara didn't mind. She loved spending time with the little chatterbox and was happy that Lindsay seemed content to be with her.

When they arrived home, Sara went around to the backseat to help Lindsay but the young girl was already out of the car and heading toward the house.

"Don't run," Sara warned as she gathered Lindsay's backpack and shut the car door. She followed Lindsay inside and was met by her girlfriend in the living room.

"Did you have a good day, sweetie?" Sara heard Catherine ask her daughter.

"Yeah, Sara and I went for ice cream."

Catherine glanced at the brunette over Lindsay's head and raised an eyebrow.

"I bet Sara let you have double scoops, didn't she?"

"Yep, but don't be mad at her, Mommy. She can't say no to either of us when we pout." Sara blushed but Catherine just laughed. Lindsay had heard Sara say the same statement one night after Catherine wanted to watch a movie that Sara wasn't interested in. The little girl enjoyed repeating the phrase whenever she could.

"Alright, but you know you shouldn't abuse Sara's weakness like that."

"She doesn't mind," Lindsay said as she sat down on the couch. "She's like you, Mom. She loves me." The little girl turned on the television and missed the look that passed between the two women. Catherine reached out her hand to her girlfriend and pulled the woman into the kitchen.

"So," the blond asked as she stepped into the other woman's embrace. "You love my daughter, huh?"

Sara nodded and answered, "And her mother," before kissing her softly.

"Good because I have a surprise for you," Catherine said when they parted.

"I love your surprises," Sara responded, remembering the last time her girlfriend surprised her. It was the beginning of their relationship.

"Do you know what today is?"

Sara smiled. She had a surprise of her own planned for later. She couldn't believe their one anniversary was finally here.

"Should I?" she asked teasingly.

"Behave or you don't get what I have for you," Catherine warned. Sara tried to look contrite but couldn't stop the smile from spreading across her face.

"What is it?"

"Don't start that. You'll know soon enough."

"Cat," Sara whined. Catherine kissed her girlfriend's lips before disappearing into the living room. The brunette heard the television turn off and the mother/daughter team talking. A minute later, Lindsay came into the kitchen with her backpack.

"Math first," she proclaimed. "I have a test tomorrow."

Sara settled down at the table to help the little girl with her homework just as she did every weekday afternoon. Catherine busied herself with laundry and straightening up the house while her girls worked. Occasionally, she would stand in the entryway of the kitchen to watch them. She enjoyed seeing them interact with each other and loved that they had formed a strong bond over the course of the last year and a half. Even when she and Sara were just friends, Lindsay would beg to spend time with the taller woman and Catherine knew that Sara felt the same. As she passed by the kitchen on the way to Lindsay's room, she peeked in to see one light and one dark head close and knew that they were whispering about something. Although she was curious, she let it go and just laughed quietly. They would tell her soon enough. She had learned the hard way how difficult it could be to get them to share their secrets before they were ready. When she finished putting away her daughter's clothes, she checked the clock and made her way back to where she had just been.

"Time for dinner," she announced. "What are we in the mood for?"

"Pizza," Sara and Lindsay chorused. Catherine turned to look at them over the refrigerator door.

Narrowing her eyes at the two sitting at the table, she said, "I detect a setup."

"Who us?" Sara asked innocently.

"Never us, Mommy," Lindsay chimed. Catherine watched as Sara gently elbowed the little girl in the side and both of them smiled.

"Uh, huh. Well, okay, if you've finished your homework, pizza is fine with me. Pack your bag and gather your things so we won't have to make another trip by here."

Lindsay jumped up from the table and ran to her room. Catherine put her hands on her hips as she turned to see Sara still smiling.

"You two are trouble," the blonde said but even her fake anger melted when the brunette got up and enveloped her in a tight embrace.

"I thought you had a thing for dangerous types."

"Apparently, but at least you're the safe kind," the older woman responded as she kissed her girlfriend. They sighed when they heard Lindsay from her bedroom.


"Duty calls," the requested party replied before untangling herself from Catherine, who grinned.

Half an hour later, all three were in the car and heading to Lindsay's favorite pizza place. The adults knew that they wouldn't have a chance for silence again until after dinner and they dropped the little girl off at Catherine's sister for the night. Neither woman complained since both had the night off and special plans for the rest of the evening. It was after 7 before they made their way to Nancy's house as Lindsay regaled them of tales about how she beat the games at the restaurant, and it was after 8 before Sara and Catherine reached the blonde's home.

"Alone at last," Catherine said when she entered the house. She felt Sara's arms come around her from behind.

"Do I get my surprise now?"

"Don't you want to wait?" Catherine asked, placing teasingly sweet kisses on Sara's neck. Her response was a moan that reverberated through her body. She smiled against the other woman's skin.

"Catherine," Sara almost growled.

"Okay, okay. Come on. We have to talk."

Sara stiffened at those words, but she knew the news couldn't possibly be bad considering Catherine's demeanor. She allowed her girlfriend to pull her into the living room and onto the couch.

"Since we promised each other that we wouldn't buy anything for this auspicious occasion, I thought now would be a good time to ask you to do something that I've wanted you to do for a while now. If you don't want to or you need more time, tell me. I'll understand, but I'm ready whenever you are."

"Cat, just tell me."

"Sara, I love you and Lindsay loves you. We both want you to be a permanent part of our lives. We want you to move in with us. We want this to be your home."

Sara looked astonished and for a moment, Catherine thought she had made a mistake, but then suddenly she was being swept into her girlfriend's arms.

"I...Are you sure? I mean, I...I'd love to," Sara whispered into Catherine's hair. She pulled away to look the blonde in the eyes. "Have you talked to Lins about this?"

"Yeah, of course. She's thrilled with the idea. I, uh, I also talked to my lawyer."

"Your lawyer? Why?"

"Sara, you're going to be Lindsay's parent. I want you to have some legal say in what happens to her. I mean, if something should happen to me, I want you to raise her."

The younger woman's eyes grew moist at the firm confession. Catherine gently wiped away the tears.

"I don't know what to say," Sara admitted. "Are you sure?"

"Very. She loves you, we both do, and I know that you love both of us. I know that you'll take care of her. You've been doing that for the past year and a half, just like you did tonight. I know you let her pick the place to eat so she would feel like a part of this day."

"Busted," Sara said, a blush heating her cheeks. Looking at the other woman, her tone turned serious. "I..Cat, I'm honored. Thank you. I'll do my best."

"I'm not worried," Catherine reassured. "That is, if you think you can live with a teenage girl? I have a feeling I'm going to need all the help I can get."

Sara laughed and pulled the other woman into her embrace. They held each other for a long moment, both enjoying the contact, and then Sara tugged on Catherine's hair.

"I've got something for you, too. It's not as important as what you just gave me, but I thought it might help you understand me and how much you mean to me." Sara took a deep breath before continuing. "Do you know how you're always asking me about my childhood, about what I went through and what happened?" Catherine nodded. "Well, my brother has a storage room in California where he put a lot of our childhood memorabilia after my parents moved out of the house where we grew up. I called him a few weeks ago and asked if he could find the journals I used to keep when I was younger." Sara got up from the couch and disappeared down the hallway. She returned a minute later with a medium-sized box that she handed the other woman. "I know I sometimes have trouble talking about my past, but everything you would want to know are in those journals." Catherine opened the box to find half a dozen notebooks, each filled with pages of Sara's writing. She held them reverently as she looked from them to her girlfriend.

"Sara," she said, tears coming back to her eyes. "I...thank you. I...I know how hard it is for you to share your personal thoughts and feelings. Thank you."

"Catherine, you have all of me - my past, my present, and my future. That is, if you still want me after reading those books."

"I'll want you. It seems like I've always wanted you," Catherine answered, her voice rough with emotion. She kissed her lover sweetly before smiling against her lips. "Matter of fact, I want you right now."

"I'm all yours," Sara responded, pushing her lover into the couch cushions and kissing her passionately.

"Good," was the only reply.

The End

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