DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of the characters, sorry for treading on any toes, I do it only for my sanity.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I cheated with this holiday fic; the idea had come to me many weeks previous, as some of you might already know. However, sitting one night after a glorious day, the words just came to me and the fic just grew and grew.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
WARNING: Mention of non-consensual sex.

Meant To Be
By Debbie

Chapter One

Summer 1988 – Tamales Bay, Ca.

The 17 year-old woman, for that was what she was beginning to realize she now was, wrote carefully and precisely in a loose leaved file. No longer a girl but still unsure of her body, still needing to grow into the curves of adulthood, still needing to accept her own type of beauty. Tall and slim with long dark hair that had a tendency to lay limp on her shoulders or curl up in untamed waves, she was reluctant to become involved in the beauty tribulations that many of her peer group were wont to do, preferring instead to bury her head in text books and study logs. Ignoring her burgeoning sexuality, her sole purpose in life was to achieve a level of academia that would allow acceptance into Harvard to read Physics.

Glancing towards her dresser she was astounded to see 5 hours had passed since she had started her brief study period. Waking at 8.00am she had had a quick breakfast before retreating into her bedroom for a couple of hours study, avoiding her mother in the process. She had wanted to avoid another argument with her worried parents; they thought she was spending too long locked away, needing fresh air and a break from study to refresh both her mind and her body.

The young brunette grimaced at her pale, sunken features, seeming to emphasize the small gap between her two front teeth, the gap she hated with a passion. She was loath to admit it but at this point in time it looked as if her parents were right, she needed some fresh air desperately. If she was to study diligently to achieve the grades she wanted, the woman was intelligent enough to know that she needed to remain strong and healthy.

As if on cue, the angry voice of her mother drifted up the stairs, "Sara Sidle if you don't get yourself down these stairs and out into the fresh air right now, I swear I'll burn those damn text books right in front of your eyes."

Throwing her textbook onto the dresser, she stood and left her bedroom. Bounding down the stairs she grabbed her baseball cap and grinned at her mother, "Sorry Mom, I got carried away again. I'm off to watch the summer league softball trials." She leant forward to kiss her mother's cheek only to be held tight in a deep hug.

Bronwyn Sidle brushed the lank hair back behind Sara's ear and whispered, "Oh Sara, look at you. It's not right, a 17 year-old to be locked away in her room all through her summer recess, you should be down on the beach, enjoying the surf, meeting boys and sharing a drink."

Sara allowed a laugh to escape; the truth was she had no friends, never mind boyfriends.

Her mom continued, "Yeah, I know, and if you were doing all those things I'd probably be moaning that you should be at home studying. But that's not the point, that's a parent's prerogative. The point is you need to live a little, as well as study…"

Sara cut off her mothers rant, "I know mom, I do really. It's just I want to get higher grades, you know."

Her mom smiled, surprisingly understanding, "I know, Hon, but just look at you, pale, drawn, lank hair and absolutely no color whatsoever, and for a girl living in Tamales Bay that's ridiculous."

Sara smiled sweetly, once again trying to but in, "Yeah mom, that's why I'm trying to go out now. Next week, I promise I'll go to…"

This time it was her mother who interrupted, wearing a worried look, she held the shoulders of Sara and said, "Next week Sara, your Dad and me, we've booked you into a summer camp in Las…"

"Oh shit mom, no! I must do some study. I must…"

"No if's and buts Sara, you're going. And don't look at me like that just listen for once. Your Dad and me we've spent ages finding the right camp for you, we really think you'll actually enjoy this one. It's a science camp being held by the Las Vegas University with an emphasis on criminal forensic investigations. Yeah, we know it's not particularly your chosen field of study but it's near enough to be interesting and still allow you to learn something of worth in your own study."

The look of surprise on Sara's face was priceless to her mother and gave enough feedback. It was obvious she was annoyed to be sent away but fascinated by the camp choice. Bronwyn chuckled delightedly, "What? You didn't think dad and me had enough brains between us to know what our baby needed? Well see, we care, Sara, and you might just enjoy this, yes? Look it'll do you good and we're not saying you can't take some study books with you. Just take a break and I promise we'll leave you in peace to study the rest of your recess. Take a break, meet some new friends, learn some new stuff and come back refreshed. Ok?"

"Ok mom, ok. You've convinced me. I'll give it a go." Sara was so surprised and secretly pleased that her parents had taken such care in arranging this endeavor that she just couldn't feign any reluctance. Pulling her relieved mother into a hug she whispered a thrilled, "Thank you mom, you are the best, you know?"

That was why a lonely Sara Sidle found herself sitting under a large oak tree staring at the beautiful older woman that had captured her awakening libido on day one of LVU's summer camp.

Catherine Willows was a slim, strawberry blonde with legs that seemed to last forever. A young woman with personal problems of her own she was spending time putting something back into the community that was trying to help her beat an addiction to coke that had threatened to drive her deep into despair.

An ex-stripper in the clubs of the seedier side of Las Vegas she had been drifting towards a life of prostitution, or that was how she now accepted things. At the time the only thing that kept her going each day was the thought that she was much too strong to be dragged into that line of work. However, meeting the man of her dreams and marrying him had not been the saving grace it should have been. Eddie Willows was a small time music producer trying to make it big in a world he wasn't really good enough to enter.

It was Eddie that had introduced her to cocaine being able to acquire it easily within the circles he kept, and Eddie that had always insisted there were more cost-effective ways of making money. Unable to resist the lure of the cocaine, Catherine had resisted the lure of prostitution 'til she found the strength to make a break.

One of her regular dance clients, Jimmy Tadero, was a detective in the Las Vegas Police Department and he spent many a night talking to Catherine and her best-friend Stephanie, bestowing on them anecdotes of the hell he saw on the streets, along with anecdotes about the heaven of achieving convictions to get the scum off the streets.

Catherine was a very intelligent young woman that had just needed to get a way from small town Montana and taken the quickest and easiest way out, using her beauty rather than her brains. She began to realize that there were other things in life to drive people on. Despite his faults, she loved Eddie and wanted to have a family with him.

Then the murder of her beloved friend, Stephanie, and the way her killer was hounded to conviction by Detective Tadero, had given her the new direction she needed; she wanted to move into some sort of police work. She had used her well-earned dance money to put herself through a de-tox program and then into college where she had achieved high enough grades to be accepted into Las Vegas University to study Medical Technology.

A recent meeting with one of Jimmy Tadero's colleagues had lead her to being accepted into a job in crime scene investigation. She was now working as a lab technician on the understanding that once gaining her BSc she would be elevated into the heady world of being an actual CSI. She had the steady support of Jimmy Tadero and now the support of her new friend and confidante, Gil Grissom.

Her world of sleaze seemed very far behind her and yet her continuing relationship with Eddie Willows meant that it was never far from her mind. She had decided this summer to try and give something back to the LVPD that was helping her finally become something important. When she's heard about the summer camp devoted to forensic investigations she had volunteered immediately to be involved.

Catherine Willows was going to not only give lectures to a group of youngsters but she was also going to set an example of what could be achieved with a little strength and perseverance. She was going to set a good example and that was more than enough incentive for the ex-stripper, and Catherine was pleased to say that now the emphasis was on the ex.

That was why an intrigued Catherine Willows was walking towards the young woman that had been staring at her since day one of this camp; a young woman that for some reason she was drawn towards by an irresistible and uncontrollable force.

Chapter Two

Summer 1988 – Las Vegas, Nevada

The 25 year-old Catherine Willows watched the young brunette carefully as she walked towards her. It was obvious the young girl hadn't seen her coming, as always she had averted her eyes quickly as Catherine had turned around.

For the last three days Catherine had felt the young woman's eyes track her every move. At first it had been disconcerting but then she had glanced into the ebony brown eyes and seen something that drew her in. The CSI in-waiting had practiced her investigative skills by some discreet questioning of the camp administrator to find the girl's name, Sara Sidle. It was obvious that something was troubling her deep inside.

Catherine had heard that Sara was from a small coastal town in California where her parents ran a local bed-and-breakfast place; she knew she was a genius in the making and that she appeared to be somewhat of a loner. This was borne out by the fact that Catherine had not seen Sara in casual conversation with anyone in the past few days, always taking part in study sessions or sitting somewhere with a book on her knee.

As Sara watched Catherine, Catherine watched Sara. She could see that she was intense and had not yet grown into her body. Catherine's knowledge of her own body allowed her to see that this young woman had the potential to be a beautiful gazelle; tall, graceful and totally captivating. All that the girl needed to do was to open herself up, to become proud of who she was, and hold her head up high and poised. Little things that would make her the beauty she could obviously be.

On the odd occasion Catherine had tried to catch the eye of her watcher, Sara had turned away immediately with a deep red blush on her cheeks. This overt shyness was evident with all her interactions; polite and courteous in class, talking with her peers was a different matter. In the three days of camp so far she had failed to attend one of the social gatherings that made these camps the enjoyable occasions they were supposed to be.

Catherine smiled to herself as she realized they were only enjoyable if you enjoyed them, if you didn't, God help you. At that moment she acknowledged that something about Sara Sidle made her believe it was her destiny to bring this woman out of her shell. Catherine Willows was going to help Sara Sidle become a woman.

Just then Sara looked up and locked eyes with Catherine. The blush started immediately but this time she didn't look away, instead she eyed the approaching beauty with a new wonder.

Sara had first caught sight of Catherine Willows as she had alighted from the Greyhound that had brought her in from Vegas airport, immediately being entranced by the tall beautiful woman with a wide welcoming smile. On being greeted by the young woman Sara had been unable to pull her eyes away from the depths she saw in the cool azure blue eyes. She could see that Catherine had already lived a life but that she was now happy and content with where she was. The confidence Catherine showed with every movement screamed 'look at me, I'm gorgeous, I'm healthy and I'm happy'. Sara was enraptured by this beauty because she believed it was a state of being she was destined never to possess.

As the hours passed the shy retiring Sara Sidle was astounded to feel changes in her body she had never felt before, every time she caught a glimpse of the strawberry blonde hair her heart-rate quickened and a trickle of sweat appeared between her breasts. The one time she had seen Catherine, oblivious to her scrutiny, sway her hips in time to some imagined tune in her head, she had been shocked to feel a tightening of her nipples and a twinge somewhere deep inside of her. Unsure of the intensity of her feelings she did know that she was in lust with this woman now walking towards her.

On realizing her attraction Sara had become, if it was at all possible, even shyer in the blonde's presence. Unable to look her in the eye she knew that she blushed profusely every time she glanced away and that, if she thought Catherine was in earshot, she stuttered over even the simplest of words. She had rationalized her attraction as a child's crush, probably five years later than her peer group's own first crushes but Sara had never felt the need to be one of the crowd so why not be late with this experience too.

And now it scared Sara, her first ever crush had to be on a woman, not for her the bronzed surfers of home, oh no it had to be a woman who was not only female but also so very unobtainable. Sara had quietly asked questions and listened in to chatter, Catherine was unobtainable in so many ways it was unbelievable. The object of Sara's desires was 25 years old, already married, and, not that it mattered to Sara, but if rumor was to be believed she was a recovering crack addict.

Grinning to herself, she saw that Catherine was smiling too. She immediately wondered what had brought that smile to the beauty's face and looked around to see whom Catherine was on her way to see. Seeing no one else in the vicinity she was amazed to think Catherine was walking over to see her and her heart missed a beat at the thought.

Looking up her eyes locked with the approaching Catherine's eyes, and time seemed to stand still for her. She saw something in the blue eyes that bore into her soul, or that was the romantic notion that the previously scientific clogged brain of Sara Sidle came up with. Catherine's eyes offered Sara hope in that instant, hope that she was about to grow up and become an adult.

At last Catherine reached Sara and immediately flopped down besides her striking up an attempt at conversation, "Hey! Sara, isn't it? I'm Catherine, pleased to meet you."

Offering her hand Catherine heard the quiet, "Hi Catherine," in reply and then nothing.

She smiled at the young girl and realized the conversation might be hard work. Surprisingly, it wasn't. The two women, after a few moments awkwardness, began to chat easily and openly as if they'd known each other for years. For Sara it was unbelievable that this older, more beautiful woman was spending the time of day with her; for Catherine it was unbelievable that this younger woman offered her the understanding that no one since Stephanie had offered her.

The two women shared many confidences. Catherine told Sara about her previous occupation, about her descent into her drugs hell, and about her struggle to climb out of the depths. She admitted to loving her husband but not with the intensity she thought she should. She allowed that the thought of children was in her mind, but that first she wanted to become the CSI she thought she could become. Sara told Catherine about her problems at home, and how she was desperate to get away to study. She admitted to having no friends and no social life, but allowed that the thought of having a relationship had become a possibility, but first she wanted to attain the grades to go to University.

Catherine tried to explain that visions of the future were important but that living in the here and now were also pretty important. She rationalized that by describing her depths in detail and how working towards a future she thought she wanted kept her there. Going on to say that only inner strength and belief allowed her to get out and head towards a better future. She could see that Sara was at the other end of the scale; so intent on achieving the better life that she wasn't allowing herself to live through the problems of being a teenager.

When Catherine said that Sara wasn't living in the here and now because she wasn't allowing herself to suffer being a teenager she was surprised to hear a glorious laugh from the young brunette. Turning towards her, she was astounded at the look of beauty that laugh gave to Sara's face. Happiness transformed Sara's face in an instant.

The younger woman chuckled, "Not living through the problems of being a teenager? Look at me, Cat, I'm blushing just talking to you, my hairs dreadful, I'm as white as a sheet, and I couldn't tell you a pop song from a dirge. No problems, huh?"

Grinning back and pleasantly shocked to here a shortened version of her name thrown into the sentence, she replied, "Ok, Ok, you've got problems. I give, but you know what? You could be the life and soul of any group if you shared that laugh and that smile. You Sara, just need to let go a little. I swear, you've got it made, brains and beauty, what more could a girl ask for?"

Sara could only blush at the compliment given her. Looking into Catherine's eyes she said, "I guess we're not so different after all."

Laughing, Catherine jumped up, "No, I guess we're not. Now come on, we've got a BBQ to go to."

If anything, Sara and Catherine became inseparable, at least to the degree they were allowed to within the constraints of Catherine being responsible in all ways for the young Sara. Catherine talked Sara into attending all of the social events and supported her in every way she could.

The older woman gained great satisfaction as Sara blossomed before her very eyes into a much more confident and therefore much more beautiful young woman. Sara for her part accepted her increasing confidence with the respect it deserved; she knew that it came mostly from the continued and unexpected attention from this gorgeous blonde woman that still held her heart.

If anything Sara began to fall more and more in love with Catherine, yet she was sensible enough to know that nothing could ever become of her desire but not yet mature enough to stop it happening. She knew that whatever Catherine thought, and surely it was only pity for the shy insecure girl in front of her, she was honest and reliable to a fault. There was no way that Catherine Willows would ever violate the trust given her by LVPD to have any sort of romantic relationship with a minor, no matter how captivated she was by the shy gap-toothed grin.

And she was, Catherine Willows was ashamed to admit it but somewhere hidden inside of her, camouflaged by her professional interest in the well-being of her young charge, she felt a tingle of attraction for Sara Sidle. She had not felt attraction for another woman since meeting her friend, Stephanie, ten years before, and that she decided was the problem. She missed her dead friend desperately and Sara just reminded her so much of Stephanie that she was feeling it as a deep-set need.

Sara, however, was right in her assumption that Catherine would never act on any feelings, her only thought was to support Sara through camp and to help guide her towards a more fulfilling relationship with the world.

Catherine's attention worked and gradually Sara became much more sociable with her own group of peers. She realized that she had made a wonderful friend and confidante in Catherine and became much more out-going and friendly as a result.

Somewhere along the way she noticed that she had gained the attention of another beautiful young woman very similar in appearance to her older friend but a full nine years younger. Although one year younger than Sara, Kirsten O'Neill was everything Sara wasn't. She was confident, beautiful, sociable and sexually experienced. And, she wanted Sara.

Chapter Three

To Catherine's consternation, Kirsten O'Neill made an immediate and winning play for the socially naïve Sara Sidle. Midway through Sara's second week at camp, Kirsten had well and truly hooked her claws into Sara, showering her with flowery words of adulation and promises of undying love. Sara no longer sought out time with Catherine, instead hanging around with Kirsten and her cohorts. All Catherine could do was to watch and worry, knowing deep down that Sara was heading for a fall, but knowing that she had promised herself to help make Sara a woman, and this whole scenario was a part of that play. And so Catherine watched and waited.

She watched painfully as, on Sara's penultimate night at camp, Kirsten lead her eager young friend into the nearby forest. Laughing and giggling it was obvious to the watchers what was about to transpire.

Sara was enraptured with her pretty new friend. She had never had a friend who wanted her for her looks and her body rather than for her brain. It was a revelation and one that she couldn't fight. She knew she was hurting Catherine, but Kirsten was there to offer her the things that Catherine couldn't. Deep down she still lusted after the older woman but had realized that friendship was her only chance with her camp counselor, and so Kirsten was a blessing in disguise: a quick, easy fix on forgetting the unattainable woman.

In the forest, walking hand-in-hand with Kirsten, for once in her life Sara felt wanted and she felt needy; for some reason she knew the two thoughts didn't really marry right but who cared at that point in time.

Deep in the wood, Kirsten turned to her and whispered, "Kiss me, Sara."

Sara did and was amazed. It wasn't her first tongue kiss but it was certainly her first "kiss". Kirsten drove her tongue deep into Sara's mouth and swept gently and erotically across the roof of her mouth. Alternately thrusting in and out she nibbled on Sara's bottom lip, tugging firmly until Sara entered and used her own tongue in retaliation. Hearing immediate moans from the more experienced Kirsten caused a tightening of Sara's groin, and a feeling she had never experienced before: arousal.

Sara became more aggressive in her response at the feelings coursing through her young body. She wrapped her tongue around Kirsten's and sucked ever more strongly. As she sucked and gasped for breath, she felt Kirsten's hands begin to massage her shoulders. Groaning in anticipation Sara withdrew from the kiss to glance shyly at her friend. Kirsten grinned and raised a suggestive eyebrow in silent request. All Sara could do was pull the young woman boldly to her body. Taking that action as acquiescence, Kirsten swept her hands down the front of Sara's chest and began to knead gently at Sara's breasts. Feeling her nipples harden immediately Sara's knees began to buckle and so she boldly guided Kirsten to the forest floor.

Lying next to each other the temperature began to rise and before Sara knew what was happening she was bare-chested and being nuzzled by experienced lips, teeth and tongue. Lying back in complete arousal and amazement her mind suddenly kicked in. Pushing herself up on one elbow, she tried to stop Kirsten's questing mouth. Her words were husky and half hearted, "Huh, Kirsten? We can't do this. It's against the law. We can't."

"We can't, huh?" was Kirsten's eloquent reply as she raised her head to suck deeply on Sara's neck, and with a sharp bite of her teeth, left her mark for all to see at a later time. Grinning against Sara's neck, she licked hotly upwards to whisper in her ear, "I want you, Sara. Now."

As she put her hand between Sara's legs and squeezed invitingly, Sara's breath hitched and the whispered continuation from Kirsten, "You want me too, don't you Sara?" was the Sara's undoing.

Gone were thoughts of legalities and rights and wrongs, replaced by thoughts of fingers stroking maddeningly through her wet heat, and thrusting, questing fingers and tongue that drove her insane, and brought her young body out into the open as a woman.

Catherine's heart weighed even heavier when she watched the two young women reappear after nearly two hours deep in the forest. To her experienced eye it was obvious that Kirsten, and she guessed Sara too, had got what they wanted. Sara looked flushed and besotted, while Kirsten looked smug and satiated. Kirsten however, to Catherine's disquiet also looked decidedly uninterested in her companion; Catherine knew, Kirsten had got what she wanted and was now on the look out for her next conquest.

Catherine slept restlessly that night, tortured by dreams of an older Sara and thoughts of what was to come the morning after.

Sara too was troubled. She was over excited about what had happened to her earlier that evening but now realized just what she had done at her point of release. Lost in the passion of the moment she had stared into the clear blue eyes of Kirsten and seen the face of Catherine Willows staring right back at her. As she fell over the precipice of her first ever orgasm she had been unable to stop herself crying out, "Fuck me, Catherine." She was sure Kirsten had been so intent on sending her over the edge that she hadn't caught Sara's mistake, but Sara's embarrassment was still profound.

Sure enough the following morning brought all that Catherine had feared.

Looking for her girlfriend in the mess hall, Sara Sidle was astonished to see Kirsten sitting astride the lap of the camp jock, whispering in his ear. As Sara walked towards their table, willing to join the group as a friend, she heard laughter erupt from the jock's followers. Hearing her name and a few other choice phrases, she turned on her heel mortified. Refusing to shed tears in front of the group the young brunette made her way quickly to the oak tree where she had first spent time with Catherine. Sinking to the floor she allowed her sobs to flow.

Catherine had seen Sara's betrayal and now rushed after her, she needed to be there for Sara and didn't care who saw her hasty retreat from the mess hall in pursuit of her friend. Any gossip that ensued was nothing compared to her need to offer comfort to this young woman that had captured a part of Catherine's heart.

Finding Sara under the oak tree deep sobs racking her young body, Catherine sank to the floor beside her and just pulled her into an all-encompassing hug. Whispering sweet nothings into Sara's hair she just soothed and waited until Sara came around slowly but surely.

As the sobs began to recede, Sara began to try and talk, "Oh Cat! What have I done? She played me like a fool and I fell for it, hook, line and sinker. I thought... but how could she... I mean, look at me, Cat... I'm nothing, just a fool..."

Catherine interrupted immediately as Sara began to berate herself, "Hey you! Stop it! You're a good girl, not a fool at all, just stop blaming yourself, huh?"

"I know, but I feel so used. How could she? It was so damn good, Cat, how could it just be...?"

Catherine stopped her. "Sara, don't tell me what happened. I guess I know already, but you know I can't know, don't you? You're 17, Sara, and Kirsten only 16, so no details, huh? It's important to me that I do things right, you know that, and why it must be, yes?"

Sara looked into Catherine's eyes and saw the acceptance that Catherine's words denied. Trusting her older friend implicitly, she whispered, "I let you down, Cat, I'm so sorry..."

"Hey! None of that, you didn't let me down at all. If anything, you've let yourself down, but Sar, you're growing... growing into a fine young woman. Don't let that vixen stop you ever loving. Sara, you have so much to give... just... are you listening to me?"

Sara nodded and wrapped her arms around Catherine's waist even harder, "I hear you, Catherine. Thank you for being here with me. I can't go back in there, not now. So I guess this is the last I'll see of you."

Catherine drew back to look into Sara's eyes. It was obvious that Sara wouldn't attend the last night's festivities now her mind was set, and yet she knew that she couldn't miss spending just one more night in the girls company. The blonde woman took a deep breath and said, "Ok Sara, but you need to enjoy your last night here. Would you like to go in to town and get something to eat with me? Maybe?"

Astounded at the offer, Sara could only stutter her acceptance. She knew that Catherine was risking the ridicule of her co-workers and yet she cared enough about Sara to offer. At that moment Sara grew 10-feet tall in confidence and acceptance.

Later that night, over burgers, ice-cream and sodas the two friends fell back into the easy, comfortable conversations they had shared prior to Kirsten O'Neill's appearance on the scene.

Emboldened by the warmth of friendship and the feeling of love that traversed the evening Sara dared to broach a subject that had been sitting in her head all day; her feelings for Catherine. Walking home, side-by-side, upper arms gently touching each other, Sara suddenly stopped and took a hold of Catherine's hand. Turning the older woman towards her, she allowed her hand to reach up and gently cup Catherine's cheek. Smiling, she whispered, "Cat? You know how I feel about you, and... I know I'm only 17... and I know I just made a fool of myself with someone else, but I really do feel something for you, and... and... " Sara rambled and stuttered, before adding, "... and I think you feel something for me. So... can I?"

Pulling Catherine towards her she got her lips to within inches of Catherine's inviting lips before realizing that the pressure she felt on her shoulders was Catherine pushing her off, gently but firmly. Putting a gentle index finger over Sara's parted lips, the older woman whispered, "No hon, it doesn't matter what I feel; there is no way we can... I'm sorry."

Sara turned away as tears began to fall. Catherine saw her shoulders drop and pulled her face back around, "Don't cry, Sara. I'm kind of glad you've developed enough courage to feel able to say those words to me and to try what you did." She shrugged her shoulders and added, "And pleased in a way that you feel comfortable enough with me to try it. But Sar, I can't be anything but a friend to you, you do know that? Apart from you being a minor, I'm married, and happily so, honestly.

She tilted Sara's head up to stare deeply into the dark ebony eyes, "But let me tell you something very important, Sara Sidle. I do feel something for you. I feel that you have a brilliant future ahead of you. Please, if you take anything from me, take the knowledge that I do care and that I'll always be here sending my support to you, wherever your brilliance takes you. Don't you ever forget that? And now, let's get you back to camp, and I promise I'll come see you off tomorrow."

Bags packed and ready to go, Sara stood under the oak tree for one last time. Smiling to herself she felt Catherine approaching and looked up. Locking eyes with the blonde, they shared a wide happy grin of understanding.

Hugging each other tightly the two friends shared a moment's silence. Then Sara whispered into Catherine's ear, "I love you, Cat. Thank you for everything."

Catherine chuckled, "Hey you! What did we say? Just go out and get them, Miss Sidle. And remember me, huh? One day, I want to see you back here as the wonderful, brilliant woman you can be."

Catherine leaned forward and planted a soft gentle kiss of love on Sara's forehead and pushed her firmly towards the waiting Greyhound bus with a proud, "Goodbye."

Sara blushed and felt tears prick the back of her eyes. She walked away slowly, turning just the once before getting on the bus. She raised her hand and waved, whispering on the breeze, "I'll always love you, Catherine Willows. 'Till soon."

Catherine saw the girl's lips moving and waved her own hand in reply. Smiling one last time she allowed her inner voice to say the words she had been hiding all week, 'I love you'...

Summer 2004 Las Vegas, Nevada

Catherine Willows was full. It was four years to the day since Sara Sidle had returned into her life and they were celebrating. Feeling long slow fingers caress gently across her already swollen and bruised lower lips she couldn't help but groan in surrender.

"Jeez Sara, I love you so much," moaned Catherine against the lips of Sara as she pulled the younger woman's mouth up to meet her own. Thrusting her exhausted tongue into Sara's welcoming mouth she caressed the sweet tongue of her soul mate and nipped down hard on her lower lip. Withdrawing slightly she allowed the kiss to become much more gentle and loving.

Sara gradually increased her erotic teasing of the smaller woman in her arms, the warm wetness that coated her fingertips proof of the effect she had on this gorgeous woman. The woman she had loved unreservedly since that summer many moons before. Catherine's moan caught her by surprise, sending a powerful surge of arousal through Sara's own body.

Catherine whimpered, "God! I want you. Now."

That was the only encouragement Sara needed to once again drive Catherine towards her peak. Shifting slightly she slipped one finger inside Catherine's warmth. Beginning a slow, rhythmic thrusting, she smiled against Catherine's neck, as the blonde whimpered and arched her back in pleasure. Sara suckled on Catherine's neck as she firmly added another finger and then let her other hand wrap itself around Catherine's torso. Allowing her free hand to caress the beautiful butt of her lover she felt Catherine hitch as her middle finger slipped into the crack she loved. Kissing the spot she had just nipped with her sharp teeth, Sara whispered, "That's it, Cat sweetheart, come for me. Come again."

With those quiet words echoing in her head Catherine screamed out her release for the nth time that evening. Groaning with pleasure and satisfaction she flipped Sara over and worshiped her from head to toe with lips, tongues and gentle fingertips. Feeling Sara's release, and the words she never tired of hearing, " Fuck me, Catherine, fuck," she fit the length of her body atop Sara's longer one and snuggled gladly into the long shining hair of her partner.

Gradually, the two lovers came back to their senses. Catherine was the first to speak, "Seems like so long ago, doesn't it? Yet I can remember it like it was yesterday. You know I nearly fell through the floor that morning when Gil said that a Sara Sidle was coming to work with us. I didn't believe that you were finally coming back to me after 12 years. 12 years, Sara?"

Sara chuckled, "I know, Cat honey. If my young mind had won over my geeky mind I'd have come back as soon as I was legal. But deep down, I thought you were happily married, and I knew you'd said you wanted kids, so I just thought I couldn't do that to you. But when Gil rang to invite me to work in Vegas, and I knew I was still in love with you, what could I say?"

Catherine smiled to herself, "Hmm, what could you say? And then when you poked your head around that door and asked where you could find Catherine Willows, I was so scared that I pretended I wasn't her. I knew damn well you knew who I was because I read it in your eyes, but Sara you hadn't changed one bit; I just knew that I had never stopped loving you. You and that damn sweet gap toothed grin and that oh so innocent smile, I was 25 and fell in love with a 17 year-old, that's scandalous you know. But here we are, 16 years later, together, happy, who'd have thought it?"

"Me. I would have, Cat. I knew, even back then, that one day..." whispered Sara earnestly.

"Do you know something, Sidle? You're the only person that has ever been allowed to call me Cat. You used it so many times that summer that I just couldn't bear to hear it from anybody else's lips. As soon as you whispered it to me as we watched Holly's killer being driven away, I knew you had come home."

Sara pulled Catherine to her chest and placed the softest of kisses to her lips; no longer a kiss to arouse passion, it was a kiss to affirm the love that had started all those years ago and had finally found fruition in two older but compatible women. Pulling away she grinned, "Meant to be, my Cat, meant to be."

The End

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