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AUTHOR'S NOTE: Dedicated to RalSt.Congratulations on the fifth anniversary of your website!!!
CHALLENGE: Submitted for the 5th Anniversary Challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Now the team was reunited again they all knew there were changes to be made. Changes in order to build up their team-bond again. One of these changes was a weekly breakfast after shift during which they would evaluate the cases they had been working on that week.
All the team-members had evolved on work-level, but also in their personal life. Everybody was glad the graveyard-team was back together again, and all were willing to comply with the new 'rules'.
Today was the day for another of their team-evaluation-breakfasts, and all but one were already sitting at a table in a diner near the CSI HQ.
"I thought she said she'd be here " Nick looked at his watch before continuing "Fifteen minutes ago"
"You know how she is she gets carried away, totally loses track of time" Warrick said as he passed on a menu to Grissom.
"She told me she had to make some arrangements" Greg stated before taking a sip of his coffee.
"Arrangements? For what?" Catherine asked, her curiosity about the whereabouts of the brunette getting the better of her.
Since the reunion of the team Catherine had done her best to create a better relationship with the younger woman, and of recent she realized where her previous anger towards Sara came from.
It hadn't been the threat of another woman on the team. It hadn't been fear of losing her place among the guys. No, all these arguments, this head-butting with the brunette originated from a deep feeling within the strawberry blonde.
Her reaction to Sara had just been a way to mask her true feelings for her.
Now they all were working together again she decided to not ignore her feelings anymore and put in all her effort to obtain some sort of relation with Sara. Whether it would turn out in just a friendship or maybe even more, she would grab the opportunity with both hands.
"Well I'm not supposed to " Greg started
"And you're not going to" came a voice from behind.
Heads turned and all eyes were focused on Sara, who had suddenly appeared behind Greg.
"Right" Greg piped up, almost feeling Sara's hands on his neck trying to strangle him "My lips are sealed" A sigh escaped his throat as he noticed Sara wasn't standing behind him anymore.
"So" Sara said as sat down next to Nick "Who's going to start this time? Nick?"
Since these 'arrangements' had to do with something she normally wouldn't do, she felt nervous. She wanted to get this over with and go home as soon as possible therefore she decided to speed things up and get them talking about their cases.
As their meals arrived and Nick started telling about his case, Sara's mind started wandering. 'I hope they'll come.'
Catherine, sitting opposite the brunette noticed her distracted state of mind. And when Grissom asked Sara a question and didn't get a response she decided to shake the brunette out of her thoughts.
Carefully placing her leg between those of Sara she gave the brunette a little nudge.
The reaction she got from the younger woman was priceless. Hazel eyes shot up and a look of confusion came on Sara's face.
Catherine nodded into the direction of their boss, and when Sara noticed the questioning look on Grissom's face she finally understood Catherine's intentions.
Quickly finding her equilibrium again she cleared her throat and started to update everybody on the case she had been working on.
During her 'speech' Sara noticed Catherine's constant staring at her, a smile gracing her beautiful lips. Strangely enough, receiving this glare from the strawberry blonde made Sara's nerves flee her body.
An hour later all cases were discussed and all meals were devoured. While most of them were still involved in amicable conversation, Sara was the first to stand and leave.
"Well guys, see you tonight" Leaving a few bills to cover her expenses she grabbed her jacket and walked off.
As she reached her car she heard a voice calling her from behind a voice she immediately recognized.
"Yeah Catherine?" she said as she turned to face the older woman.
Sara had noticed the change in Catherine's behavior during the last weeks, and it made her feel nervous at times. She really enjoyed seeing this new side of the strawberry blonde, but she thought she might be enjoying it a little too much, hence her nervousness.
"I uh can I get I ride home? Warrick was going to give me a ride, but he, Nick and Greg decided to spend another hour or so on talking about last night's football game, while I "
"Want to go home, to Lindsey?" Sara finished for her.
"Yeah" Catherine said sheepishly, looking down at her feet as if she'd never seen them before.
"Hop in" Sara answered as she got into her car. Seeing Catherine's shy appearance gave Sara some confidence strangely enough.
The ride to Catherine's place way relatively quiet, the only words uttered being directions towards the strawberry blonde's house. Both women were in deep thought, and without knowing it from one another, both their minds were occupied with thoughts about each other.
Although Sara's mind kept wandering off to the blonde next to her she tried hard to focus on traffic the streets getting filled with more cars every passing minute.
Suddenly a car in front of them made an unexpected movement, and Sara slammed on the brakes.
Thanks to her quick reaction her car avoided a crash, her only 'thanks' from the other driver was a middle finger into her direction.
Looking over at her passenger, Sara's face went from relief of not hitting the car to nervousness as she saw what was thrown all over the strawberry blonde's lap. White envelopes that had been lying on the dashboard were now scattered all over Catherine.
Reading all of the graveyard shift member's names on them she picked up one.
"What's this?" the strawberry blonde asked holding up the envelope with her name on it.
"Well, I wanted to surprise all of you with it tonight, but I guess you can have yours now."
"You're not getting married, are you?" Catherine asked, fearing her chances with the woman next to her were now completely vanished into thin air.
"NO no" Sara quickly said.
"Good" Catherine replied.
"Excuse me?" Sara raised an eyebrow at that last remark of the blonde.
"Oh, never mind" Catherine quickly opened the envelope, trying to avoid any other questions.
Reading the card inside Catherine's face showed a look of surprise.
She turned towards the brunette, still an incredulous look on her face.
"Well, I thought, since the shift's back together, Warrick got married, it's my fifth year as CSI in Vegas and my birthday is in two days, what better reason does one need for a party?"
Catherine looked at Sara still not saying a word. She had never thought Sara would think of arranging something like this.
Stopping in front of Catherine's house, Sara turned and faced the older woman. "Thought it would fit in our new 'team-building-spirit'" she said, raising her hands and making quotation marks in the air.
A smile crept onto Catherine's face. "That's a great idea. I'd love to come" Getting her bag she turned to exit the car. But before she got out completely she turned back to Sara.
Placing her hand on Sara's thigh she spoke up "If you need any help, just give me a call ok?"
Sara's mind went completely blank the minute Catherine's hand connected with her thigh. Her mouth opened several times to answer, but not one syllable came across her lips. Not wanting to look like a complete idiot, she quickly nodded.
"Alright, well see you tonight" Catherine said, a teasing smile on her face as she noticed the brunette's inability to speak. She definitely liked the effect she had on the other woman. And with her mind filled with that thought, Catherine walked towards the front door and got inside.
Sara let out a big sigh as she saw the front door close again. "Nice job Sidle. Just act like a complete moron and she won't notice a thing" she said to herself, sarcasm tangible in her voice.
Turning up the volume of the radio, Sara drove off, her apartment the destination or more precise: her bed. Although she was known for her ability to work double shifts without yawning once, she did need some hours of sleep from time to time.
As she opened the front door of her apartment and stepped inside, she threw her keys on the table next to the door. Stretching her body she noticed how much she needed to rest.
But the minute she laid her head on her pillow, sleep was nowhere to be found. Her mind was filled with thoughts about a certain blonde. And no matter how she tried, sleep she did not. "Damn you Willows, depriving me of my needed sleep" she sighed.
So after an hour of twisting and turning, and adjusting her pillow and blankets a thousand times Sara decided to get up and clean her apartment. The party would be in two days, and since she already knew she would have to pull a double shift tonight because she was working on a time-sensitive case she'd better start already, spending her time wisely.
Walking into the kitchen area and seeing the mess there she decided that would be the place to start her cleaning job. Grabbing all the dirty dishes and glasses that were spread across the entire kitchen counter she let out another sigh.
This job would need something to make it more endurable, so she walked into the living room and turned on her stereo. As she was satisfied with the music now playing on the radio, she walked back to the dreaded dishes.
Just as she picked up the last plate to dry it off there was a knock on the door. Not expecting anyone she quickly placed it onto the counter, threw the towel over her shoulder and walked to the door.
Without looking through the spy-hole she opened it, and to her surprise she was met with a beautiful sight in front of her.
Sara pinched herself to make sure the person standing at her door was not a figment of her imagination.
"Catherine? Shouldn't you be at home sleeping?"
"Eh I mean come inside" Sara quickly added, gesturing to her living room. Seeing a blush creep onto the younger woman's face Catherine decided that maybe now was a good time to let Sara know her true feelings. Not just blurt it out in the open no, just gradually trying to show the brunette what she felt for her.
"I could ask you the same" came the strawberry blonde's reply as she stepped into Sara's apartment.
"Could ask me what?" Sara said, not following Catherine's answer.
"Oh," Sara started, her face getting redder by the second " that well I tried, but my mind was filled with I " She couldn't tell Catherine that she was the reason she couldn't sleep "eh I couldn't stop thinking about the Jenkins case."
Catherine noticed Sara's hesitation, and wondered what she wasn't telling her. That combined with the blush on the brunette's face made Catherine wonder whether Sara might feel something for her too.
'Yeah right, Catherine, ever the cocky one, thinking she would have feelings for you.' She thought, scolding herself. 'Well, that never stopped me before so, here goes nothing'
"Well, after spending some time with Lindsey before dropping her off at school I also gave sleeping a try and I failed miserably I couldn't stop thinking about you"
Sara's eyes shot up "ME!?" she almost shouted.
"Uh, yeah you the party you know" Catherine answered quickly, misinterpreting Sara's shout and therefore deciding not to drop the figurative bomb now.
"Oh, I see"
"Sooo" Catherine sighed "Can I help you with something? For the party?"
Not getting an immediate response, she quickly added "I know I said you just had to call me if you needed help, but I couldn't sleep you just told me you couldn't either so here I am, at your service"
'At my service,' Sara thought, 'hmmm wonder what she's willing to do Stop it Sidle, don't go there she's standing right in front of you, expecting some sort of reply.'
"Well, I just finished the dishes, and my next project would be the living room. And when that's done I planned to go grocery shopping." Sara said as she was ogling at the backside of her colleague who was in the process of taking off her jacket.
Suddenly Catherine turned around and noticed Sara's staring. 'Uhoh, caught like a deer in headlights' Sara thought as she saw a sneaky smile appear on Catherine's face.
"See something you like?" Catherine asked.
"Uh well actually yes" Sara answered honestly.
This reply startled the strawberry blonde, and made her wonder whether she heard it correctly.
"That blouse it suits you" Sara cursed herself mentally 'Damn you chicken'
Catherine was disappointed, but didn't let Sara know. "Thanks"
"If you want to help perhaps you could do the grocery shopping while I clean up here?" Sara asked. "That way we'd probably be done at the same time, leaving us plenty of time to prepare for work."
"Sure," Catherine said "You already got a list of what you need?"
"Yeah, I started on one. I'll get it for you." Sara said as she walked into the kitchen and walked over to the fridge. Ripping the note away from under a magnet she quickly scanned the list again.
"If there's anything missing on it, just take it along" she said, handing Catherine the list. Reaching for her wallet she was stopped by a hand on her shoulder.
"It's ok, you can pay me back later. Well then, see you in a few." And before she realized what she did, she placed a chaste kiss on Sara's cheek. And only when she reached her car, it dawned upon her what just had happened.
"Oh my God, I kissed her" Catherine said to herself as she touched her lips a tingly feeling going through her entire body. How was she supposed to do the shopping when her mind was preoccupied with remembering the soft feel of Sara's lips?
Catherine quickly drove off. 'Thankfully she gave me a list' Catherine thought smiling at herself for acting the way she had. Ok, this hadn't been her exact plan, but it was a start sort of.
Inside her apartment, Sara was still staring at the closed door. 'Wow' was the only thought that filled her mind. The second Catherine's lips had connected with her cheek a jolt of electricity had gone through her spine.
As she tried to process what exactly had happened and figured out the meaning of it, she came to the conclusion that it had just been a friendly kiss nothing more.
'That's what friends do, right?' she added mentally, trying to justify her train of thoughts. Fiercely shaking her head she tried to forget about it, and focused on her living room.
About an hour and a half later, Catherine arrived back at Sara's apartment. Arms loaded with brown paper bags containing all sorts of goods that were needed for the party. While juggling all the groceries in her hands she knocked on the door.
Just as it opened, one of the bags slipped from the older woman's grip. Luckily, Sara could catch it before it would hit the ground.
"Nice catch" Catherine was the first of them to speak up.
"Yeah all those years of playing baseball finally pay off" Sara joked.
Catherine was glad to see the brunette's alleviated state she expected to be attacked full frontal for her actions earlier. But Sara didn't even mention it.
As Sara Helped the strawberry blonde to get all the groceries into the kitchen both of the women felt tension fill the air.
"I euh I'm gonna finish up in the living room, I'm almost done." Sara said. From time to time they would sneak glances at each other, but as soon as their eyes met, both would quickly focus on something else.
Acting as if they were really busy trying to pretend nothing had happened they worked through the things that needed to be done.
When all the groceries were out of the way, and the living room was done, Sara offered Catherine a cup of coffee.
Gratefully accepting the steaming liquid, Catherine sat down on the couch, soon to be followed by Sara.
"Well," Sara started looking around "I thing everything's almost set for the party. I don't think I would have managed to do this all tomorrow in just two hour preceding the party. Thanks a lot"
"Sure, no problem at all. It's good for our 'team-building-spirit'" Catherine smiled, mimicking the words the brunette had said to her earlier that morning. This earned her the gap-toothed smile she loved so much.
For the rest of the hour they talked amicably both never touching the subject of the kiss.
Looking at her watch Catherine noticed there were only three hours left before shift would start, so she grabbed all her belongings and prepared to leave.
"Thanks for helping me out" Sara said as she walked to the door to let Catherine out.
"That's alright, it was my pleasure." Catherine took a step outside, and shoved her hands into the back pockets of her jeans.
"Well, I'll see you tonight" she added, not really knowing what to say further, and definitely not wanting to make the same mistake of kissing her younger co-worker again.
"Yeah, a few hours left before shift so, thanks again."
Catherine nodded courteously and walked off.
Unknown to each other their minds were filled with the same thought: 'At the party, I'll tell her at the party'
That night the entire team was gathered in the break room at the start of shift. After Grissom filled them in on all the news there was on the case they were working, Sara asked for their attention.
Not really knowing how to deal with such a thing, Sara just started handing out the envelopes, and as most of them were reading the card she said "I hope you'll all come"
"A party?" Nick asked "I like the sound of that. So that's why you were late this morning"
"Yeah," Greg piped up "I wanted to tell you, but I had sworn secrecy"
"And if I had turned up one minute later you would have betrayed my trust" Sara playfully nudged his shoulder.
"I would never do that" he replied mockingly as he placed his hand over his heart.
"You know, Greg, if this CSI thing doesn't work out for you, I think you should try acting" Warrick laughed as he saw the dramatic gestures of the youngest team member.
Then he turned to Sara who was looking expectantly. "I'll be there, and I think Tina will be delighted when she hears she'll finally be able to get to know you guys."
"Count me in too" Catherine said, even though she had already told Sara she would be there.
"This party I certainly don't wanna miss" Nick said.
"Ditto" was Greg's reply. "How 'bout you Grissom?" he asked shifting in his chair so that he was now facing his boss.
"I think I'll be able to come by for a while" He answered "But for now we've got a case to work. Let's go guys."
While all of them walked out of the break room Sara felt a sort of relieve come over her now she knew her co-workers would be coming. And with two invitations left she headed off the morgue her first stop, the LVPD the next.
The night of the party had finally arrived, and Sara was really busy with last minute arrangements, getting everything in place music, beverages and snacks and al she could think off necessary for a party.
At eight o'clock sharp there was a knock on the door. Nick and Greg were the first ones to arrive.
"Happy birthday Sara" Nick said as he pulled her in for a friendly hug. "Greggo here has got a present for you. It's from the four of us, that is, Warrick, Tina, Greg and me."
"Ok move over Texan, it's my turn now" Gregg kidded. Holding out a large box with a blue ribbon wrapped around it he turned serious again "Happy birthday, hope you like it"
"Thank you Greg"
"If you don't like it" Nick said, "You can blame him, it was his idea"
The box felt heavy, and it was as if the content was moving. As Sara pulled the ribbon off one of the flaps of the box moved.
Lifting up her present Sara spoke up "Ah, what a sweety. Greg, you did a great job. Thank you" she said as she placed a small kiss on his cheek. "And you too Nick, thanks"
"Our pleasure" the square-jawed Texan answered.
About a month ago Sara and Greg had been talking about pets. Sara told she had always had dogs when she was little, that she really missed having one around these days, and was thinking about getting one herself.
And now, she was holding a cute little brown Labrador retriever. One look at the little pup and she fell in love with him.
"You've still got to name him" Nick said as he petted the pup.
She didn't have to think long about that. "Poe his name is Poe, as in " Sara started, but before she could continue Greg finished for her "As in Edgar Allen Poe, the famous writer"
As she told Nick and Greg to make themselves comfortable there was another knock at the door, and with Poe still in her arms she let in the new guests.
Brass, Grissom and Doc Robbins were the next ones that arrived. And since they knew what Sara's present would be they all brought presents that would come in handy for Sara's new buddy.
As she gestured everybody to the living room, the party seemed to get going all of them really enjoying themselves, talking amicably with each other this time about all sorts of subjects not related to cases.
The only ones missing were Warrick and Tina and Catherine. She really hoped Catherine would be there soon, because all day she had been mustering up all her courage for what she was going to tell Catherine tonight.
A knock at the door shook her out of her reverie. She hoped to be greeted with the sight of an amazing blonde standing at her door, but when she opened Warrick and Tina were the ones outside.
"Heya Sara, congrats" Warrick said.
"Thanks Warrick. Also for the present"
"Sara, happy birthday" Tina said as she shook the brunette's free hand. "Guess you like the present who wouldn't? Oh what a cutie" she added.
"Yeah he is" Sara smiled, she was so glad the guys had gotten her Poe. "Please come in, make yourselves at home"
Warrick let Tina enter first, who walked into the room, immediately mingling with the other guests.
"Sara, Catherine called just called me. She told me I should tell you she's really sorry, but she won't be able to come, Lindsey's sick, so she has to stay with her." Warrick said.
He noticed the disappointment in those dark brown eyes in front of him, and placed his hand on her shoulder.
"She tried to call you, but you didn't answer the phone."
Thinking about how she could have missed her phone ringing she let out a big sigh. While she had been prepare the last things, she had turned up the volume of her radio hence missing the phone call.
Looking at the answering machine she noticed the blinking red light. Letting out another sigh Sara spoke up "Damn, I wanted to tell her " 'Wait' she thought, 'Warrick is standing right in front of me.'
Warrick looked at Sara expectantly, waiting for her to finish her sentence. Through the last days he had already noticed there was a different kid of tension between the two women, and seeing Sara's reaction to the news that Catherine wouldn't come confirmed his feeling.
"You know, if she can't come to the party, the party can come to her" he said.
Looking at the dark tall man, Sara realized he knew he knew about how she really felt for Catherine. Suddenly a smile appeared on her face.
"You're right. But I can't leave you I'm supposed to be the host."
"I think we can manage for a while, that is if you would let me be in charge of your household while you're gone" Warrick kidded.
"Thanks Warrick" she said as she handed him the puppy. Slipping into the kitchen, she quickly grabbed a bottle of wine. Taking her jacket and of course Poe out of Warrick's hands she said goodbye, and walked off, hearing Warrick call after her that he would take care of everything.
Thus, sneaking away from her own party, she headed for Catherine's place.
Within fifteen minutes she stood on the porch of the strawberry blonde's house holding the bottle of wine in one hand, and the chocolate brown pup in the other.
She hesitated a few minutes before finally knocking on the door. And when it opened, a rather disheveled Catherine appeared in front of her surprise written all over her face.
"Sara? What are you doing here? I called you, and I called Warrick didn't he tell you Linds is sick? What about the party?" Catherine started rambling.
"And who's that little fellow?" she added as she noticed the little dog in Sara's arms.
"This is Poe, and we came here because we well actually I need to tell you something." Sara said. Her nerves were getting the better of her, so she knew she had to say the things she wanted to say before she would chicken out again.
"Well then, come inside" Catherine asked, taking a step back.
Handing Catherine the bottle of wine Sara did as she was told, and soon both of them were seated on the couch in Catherine's living room. Placing Poe on the ground Sara knew it was now or never.
"Catherine yesterday when you kissed me " The brunette started, but was interrupted by the other woman.
"I'm sorry Sara, I don't know what had gotten " Now it was Catherine's turn to be interrupted, as Sara placed a finger against her lips.
"Shhh please let me finish." Sara said, finding more confidence as she looked into those two sparkling blue pools that were staring at her intently.
"Cath," Sara said, immediately scolding herself for using the nickname that the strawberry blonde hated. But as she saw the smile that appeared on Catherine's face, she knew she had nothing to fear.
Without noticing it, both of them inched closer. Their breathing became heavier, and mere seconds before their lips touched Sara finished what she wanted to say. "I think there might be a possibility that I have got feelings for you"
Feeling the taller woman's lips grazing along her own as she said those words, Catherine's heart almost seemed to leap out of her chest.
"I think there might be a possibility that I have got feelings for you too" Catherine smiled. And with that said she closed the remaining gap between their lips.
When the need for air became too prominent, they broke apart both with big smiles plastered on their faces.
"How 'bout a toast?" Sara said as she reached for the wine bottle.
"That sounds like a great idea" Catherine answered "Wait here, I'll get some glasses" But before she headed to the kitchen she once more claimed Sara's lips in a fierce kiss.
As Sara watched Catherine walk into the kitchen she had to smile once more: Poe was walking behind the strawberry blonde following every move she made.
Catherine came back with two glasses while Sara was opening the bottle. After filling both of the glasses, Sara handed on to Catherine.
"Happy birthday Sara. Let's hope your party is a success. To celebrating your birthday" Catherine said as she raised her glass.
"To celebrating love" Sara said, before engaging their lips in a kiss once more.
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