DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILER: Reference to "Lady Heather's Box".

Mother's Day
By Ann



Glancing at the calendar, I find the circled date almost a week away, May 14, 2006. I can't believe it's almost been a year since Catherine and I finally acknowledged our feelings for each other. I have got to come up with something to make this Mother's Day special for all of us, but especially Catherine.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined Mother's Day bringing me feelings of joy instead of sadness. Growing up, I would make the attempt to be thankful for my mother on the day where seemingly everyone else was truly grateful for theirs.

When I was very young, I would make a card and go out and pick some wildflowers. I couldn't wait for mother to get out of bed so I could give her the gifts. She would always graciously accept my trinkets as if they were gold and diamonds and make me feel like the perfect child.

Of course, this was all before my father began to drink and take all of his frustrations out on her. By the time I was eight, he turned his attentions on me as well. She never once tried to stop him. I think she welcomed any kind of reprieve and didn't care where it came from, even if it was in the form of her only daughter

On the days when he chose to use her for his punching bag, she would seek me out later to dole out her own brand of punishment. I think she truly blamed me for the times he beat her. It's almost as if she thought I should have come to her rescue or offered myself in her place. To this day, I believe she was the one to suggest he use me to satisfy his 'other' urges as well.

Through the years of continued abuse, I still foolishly tried to honor her on her special day only to have her laugh in my face and rip up my card. I even received a few slaps on the face when I tried to verbally wish her a happy Mother's Day.

Shaking the unpleasant memories from my head, I concentrate instead on Mother's Day 2005. I am leaving work around 8:00 a.m. on that particular Sunday morning when I notice a young girl sitting on the bench outside the building. On closer inspection, I realize it is Lindsey Willows.

I walk over and take the seat next to her. She looks quite upset about something, but it is also apparent she isn't going to say anything. We sit quietly on the bench for several minutes before she finally says "I know you. You investigated my dad's murder. How come you couldn't find out who killed him?"

Damn, this kid goes for the jugular right away. She is definitely Catherine's daughter. Why did I feel the urge to come over here anyway? Maybe I was looking for some good ol' Mother's Day retribution.

Seeing as how the truth usually works for Catherine, I proceed to outline the physical evidence I had to work with in Eddie's case. Lindsey listens very carefully to every single word. I finally finish my explanation after adding a heartfelt apology at the end. She purses her lips and wrinkles her brow in thought. I feel like I'm sitting with a younger Catherine as I watch Lindsey's expressions change.

After a few moments of reflection, I hear "Sara, you didn't have any other choice. You didn't have the murder weapon, and there was no evidence to implicate Candeece or Kiner. You did everything humanly possible to solve the case."

Holy shit, this kid even sounds like Catherine. Wait a minute, her lips didn't move. I quickly spin around to see and hear Catherine utter "I'm just sorry I was such a bitch to you."

I tighten my grip on the side of the bench to keep from sliding to the ground. I can't believe Catherine overheard me talking to Lindsey. She and I have been avoiding this particular topic for years. What the hell do I say now?

I am saved from my reply when Lindsey stands and gives Catherine a hug. She very sweetly says "Happy Mother's Day, Mom." Catherine returns the hug before replying "Thank you, Linds. Now, are you going to tell me what you are doing here, and more importantly, how you got here?"

Lindsey steps away from Catherine and says "Grandma brought me. I thought maybe we could have breakfast together. I wanted to tell you how sorry I am for all the things I've done lately. I promise I will try to do better."

Feeling like an intruder, I decide to quietly sneak away. Besides, I am not ready to talk to Catherine about Eddie's case. No matter what she says; I know I failed both she and Lindsey. I slide to the end of the bench and stand to walk away.

Lindsey stops my progress when she asks "Sara, would you like to go with us?" Before I can respond, Catherine quickly adds "That's a good idea, Linds. Why don't you join us, Sara?" I try to explain that the two of them should spend some time together, but neither of the Willows girls will take no for an answer.

Both the breakfast and the conversation were so enjoyable that I agree to accompany the two to the afternoon matinee. I even offer to pick them up before the show. Lindsey met some friends there and wanted to sit with them away from us, far away from us. Catherine acted hurt for a few minutes, but she finally gave in telling me later it was all an act to keep Lindsey on her toes.

I wonder how often she tries to keep my on my toes. As a few images pop into my brain, I put an immediate stop to the playback. Whoa, don't go there Sara. Wait until you're in the privacy of your own home.

Throughout the movie, Catherine would reach out and touch me, sometimes on the hand, sometimes on the arm, and once or twice on the leg. I felt like one of those Mexican jumping beans by the time the movie was over.

One of Lindsey's friends invites her over for the rest of the afternoon, and Catherine agrees only after she meets the parents of the girl. At least now I know Catherine isn't a homophobe since she just allowed Lindsey to go home with two lesbian moms.

When I drop her off, Catherine asks me in for some coffee. I have some chores waiting at home, but I decide they will still be there later. I follow her into the kitchen as she sets up the coffeemaker.

We sit at her table and enjoy each other's company. On the second cup, Catherine brings up the subject of Eddie's case and forces me to talk to her about my feelings of guilt. An hour later, she has almost convinced me the case was unsolvable.

I finally start to relax after such a tense conversation when she drops her next bombshell. She actually reaches out and holds my hand before imparting the big news. "Sara, when I walked out of the building and saw you sitting by Lindsey, I was filled with a joy I can't explain. After I overheard you talking to Lindsey and carefully explaining things to her so that she could understand, I decided to get over my fears and ask you out."

I sit there like a dumbass not realizing exactly what Catherine is telling me. I thought she was referring to the breakfast outing with Lindsey. I had no idea she was talking about a date, a romantic date. When she leans over and lightly kisses me, I finally catch a clue and I respond the only way I know how. I kiss her back. And let me tell you, from the way Catherine kisses, she is most definitely not a homophobe. The rest, they say, is history.

Returning back to the present with a goofy smile on my face, I once again try to come up with ideas for the big day. I know I'll have to enlist Lindsey's help; otherwise, I'll never be able to keep it a secret from Catherine. I think I'll also need the guy's help as well. Matter of fact, Warrick is a romantic. Maybe he can help me come up with something special.

I walk out of my lab in search of Warrick thankful that Catherine is off tonight.


Part 1

I find the guys sitting around the table in the break room talking about the new girl in DNA. I shake my head at the schoolboy type conversation and move to the coffeemaker when Greg shouts to me from across the room. "Hey, Sara. What do you think of the new girl? I mean, I know she isn't as hot as Catherine, but she's pretty hot in her own very single heterosexual way."

Smiling, I turn to Greg and ask "Are you sure she's heterosexual, Greg? You thought Catherine and I were straight all these years, too. Could it be you are also mistaken about the new girl?" I walk toward the door as Greg turns red and the guys begin to laugh. I discretely signal Warrick to follow as I leave the room.

Several minutes later, Warrick enters my lab chuckling. "Sara, you have got to quit messing with Greg's head. When I left he was mumbling something about wishing he had gaydar. I don't think he realizes the significance of having that particular ability."

We both have another laugh at poor Greg's expense before I finally explain my dilemma to Warrick. He smiles and says he knows the perfect place for me to take Catherine and Lindsey for the weekend. In the Toiyabe Mountain Range, just 45 minutes from Las Vegas, is Mt. Charleston. Warrick describes the view as spectacular, and it just so happens one of his old high school buddies owns one of the larger isolated cabins.

Still grinning, Warrick says "There is a balcony off the master bedroom suite that looks out over the mountains. Catherine's going to love it." He pauses before adding "The best part of the layout is the master bedroom. It is isolated on one side of the cabin and is as close to being soundproof as you can get. Lindsey won't be able to hear a thing." Taking a page from Greg's book, I turn red as Warrick leaves to call his friend.

At last, shift is over and I immediately head for home. Warrick was able to talk to his friend, and the cabin is officially mine for the weekend. Grissom balked at the idea of Catherine and me both being off for the entire weekend until I explained the situation. He finally agreed to it after I promised to work two doubles next week. Now, I need to find someone to switch with Catherine for Saturday's shift since she's already off Friday and Sunday. I make a mental note to talk to the guys tomorrow.

I walk into the bedroom to find my sleeping beauty sprawled across the bed with the covers on the floor. Smiling, I pull the covers back over her before moving to the bathroom to brush my teeth. Every time Catherine goes to bed it's the same. She starts off cold and wants all the covers, and then sometime during her sleep, she gets hot and kicks them off. When she wakes up, she is always cold again and accuses me of taking her covers. Of course, I usually smooth things over by warming her up in a completely different way.

Deciding to take a quick shower before crawling into bed, I am rinsing off the last remnants of soap when I feel two arms wrap around me from behind coupled with a ghost of a kiss between my shoulder blades. I turn around and begin my morning in a most sensational way.

Catherine tucks my sated body under the covers and lightly kisses my lips before leaving the room. We learned not too long ago the person coming off shift really needed to rest, and if we climbed into bed together, sleep became secondary.

On the nights we work the same shift, we promise each other a nice 'reward' if we allow the other to get some sleep. So far it's worked out well except for the nights we're assigned to work together. Either one or both of us tend to be a bit 'tense' by the end of the shift, and we have to relieve the tension when we get home. Sometimes it takes several hours for the horniness. . .I mean...tension to disappear.

Later in the afternoon, I walk into the kitchen to find Lindsey sitting at the table working on some kind of project. I mumble a good afternoon on my way to the coffeemaker. I really am not much of a talker until I've had my first cup.

Sipping my coffee, I sit down at the table with Lindsey and watch her progress. As the caffeine enters my system, I ask about Catherine's whereabouts. Lindsey informs me she left a few minutes ago to buy some groceries so I take advantage of her shopping trip to explain my plan for next weekend to Lindsey. We decide to keep it a secret until it's time to get in the car and head for the mountains.

Lindsey is going to help me pack Catherine's bag Thursday night. She'll keep it in her room until it's time to leave. We continue to plan out our strategy until we hear Catherine's key in the door. I go through the motion of locking my mouth and throwing away the key as Lindsey rolls her eyes.

I give Catherine a kiss as I take the bags from her arms. Together, we begin to put away the food items. As I am leaning down to place the drinks on the bottom shelf of the pantry, Catherine says "Oh, I keep forgetting to tell you that I am going to switch nights with Nick this week so that I can go to Lindsey's parents night on Tuesday."

I try to stay calm as I ask "Which night?" Catherine responds "Friday. He wanted to go somewhere Saturday so I told him I could work Friday's shift if he would take this Tuesday."

I quickly stand up forgetting about the shelving as I hit the back of my head on the upper shelf. "Fu...fudge that smarts." I glance over at a smirking Lindsey who probably knows more curse words than I did at her age, but she's not going to hear them from me, at least not if I can help it.

Catherine quickly comes over and rubs my head. "Oh, I bet that hurt. Are you okay?" Smiling through my tears, I reply "Yeah, I'm fine. Pretty stupid, huh?" She kisses my head and moves back to unloading the groceries leaving me to figure out how I'm going to cover yet another of her shifts.

Lily comes over around 9:00 p.m. to stay with Lindsey for the night. She is a wonderful help and never complains when she is needed. I really wanted to include her in our Mother's Day outing, but Catherine said Sam was taking her to New York for the weekend to see some shows and do a bit of shopping.

We arrive in the break room just before Grissom. Catherine and I are teamed together on a series of break-ins over by Valley View Park while the rest of the team is assigned to work a drive-by shooting at a local mall. Damn it, there's no way I'll be able to talk to the guys tonight so I'll have to wait until tomorrow.

On the plus side, I get to work with Catherine all night, and our morning should prove to be quite invigorating not to mention stimulating. I am pulled from my musings by Catherine's voice. "Sara, the kits are in the Denali. Are you coming?"

No yet, my dear, but I'm pretty sure we both will be in the very near future. Sometimes, I just love my job.


Part 2

It takes Catherine and me almost five hours to process the three homes. We probably lifted over 200 prints in total and found enough trace to keep Hodges busy for the next few months. I even had a sneezing fit at one of the scenes when the fingerprint dust accidentally flew up my nose. I made the comment about not understanding why anyone would voluntary snort something up their nose, and Catherine said she would explain it to me later.

We finally pack our gear and head back to the lab. Thankfully, Catherine called ahead for some help unloading the evidence. Nick and Greg made it back from their scene about an hour ago and agree to meet us out front. The two walk toward the Denali as I pull into the closet space. Greg tries to get my attention, but I'm not in the mood for any of his stories so I ignore him as I grab both of our kits. Catherine can direct Nick and Greg to the evidence bags.

The minute I step through the front doors, I discover what Greg wanted to tell me. I cringe when I hear Julie's voice coming from behind the receptionist's desk. "Hey, Sara, long time no see. I do believe you have been avoiding me, but you can remedy that by taking me out this weekend. What do you say?"

What the hell is she doing here? Grissom had her moved to the day shift for this very reason. Crap, I so do not need this. Last time she came onto me, Catherine didn't talk to me for two weeks, and it wasn't even my fault. Julie is going to single-handedly ruin my plans for the weekend. It's very difficult to have a romantic weekend with a partner who won't talk to you.

Determined to put a stop to this once and for all, I answer "Why do you do this, Julie? You know I'm with Catherine and have no interest in you. Hell, even if I wasn't with Catherine, I would not go out with you." There that should do it.

Julie gives me a sexy smile and says "Oh, please Sara. You can't tell me that over-the-hill redhead is satisfying you. I can turn you inside out if you'll give me the chance. One night with me, and you'll throw her over the headboard. Come on, give me a try."

What am I going to do? Catherine is going to go ape shit if she finds out Julie propositioned me again. I can not get this chick to understand that I am not available. I have tried everything, but she just doesn't get it.

I open my mouth to once again decline her offer when Catherine grabs me and proceeds to kiss the living daylights out of me. I drop the kits on the floor and hold onto her for dear life.

Several delicious minutes later, she releases me. I stand stock-still with my eyes closed and a huge grin on my face. I believe this would be the correct pose to demonstrate someone who has been kissed stupid.

I open my eyes when I hear Catherine's voice. "Do you get it now, you silicon, oversexed, undereducated, peroxide bimbo? If you ever talk to Sara again, I will bury you so deep into the ground that the heat from the Earth's core will incinerate your sorry ass!"

Catherine reaches for my hand and pulls me down the hall as I continue to wear my stupid grin. I look back to see Nick and Greg pick up our kits and follow us down the hall.

Catherine opens the door to her office and pushes me down in the chair. Nick and Greg tell Catherine they will drop off our kits and log in the evidence. Catherine nods her head as the door closes behind the guys.

I begin to come out of my stupor as I feel Catherine's eyes on me. I blink a few times and focus on her face staring at me from across the desk. Uh oh, this can't be good if we have a barrier between us.

I sit up straight and try not to squirm in my chair. I feel like I'm under a microscope or something. Please let her say something.

After five minutes of silence, I decide to make the attempt to communicate. "Catherine, I didn't know Julie was in the building. If I had, I would have gone through the side exit. You know I'm not interested in her." Catherine just continues to glare at me without uttering a word.

Shit. I freakin' hate the silent treatment. Think, Sara. There has to be something that will break down her barrier.

Recalling the night I first professed my love, I decide to turn to Elizabeth Barrett Browning for a little help. "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach, when feeling out of sight . . . ."

Walking toward Catherine, I continue my recitation. I kneel down in front of her and bow my head as I utter the final line ". . . Smiles, tears, of all my life and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death."

Catherine places her hand under my chin and raises my head to hers. She leans down and gently kisses my lips. She pulls away and says "Sara, don't you ever speak to that woman again." I smile as I lean forward to meet her lips once again.

Leaving the office, we separate to check on the evidence. Catherine is checking on the fingerprints while I head to trace and Hodges. I figured the least I could do was to volunteer to deal with Hodges after the Julie fiasco.

Greg catches up with me on the way to trace and apologizes for not properly warning me about Julie. I talk him into taking Catherine's Saturday shift to make up for it. I don't mention I ignored his attempt to get my attention.

Now all I have to do is find someone to take the Friday shift. Problem is Nick is the only one available, and he's already working for Catherine Tuesday. I'm going to have to come up with some sort of extra incentive to get him to take Friday's shift too.

After leaving trace, I pick up my speed in order to catch Nick in the break room while Catherine is still occupied. As I turn the corner, I run head on into someone wearing a suit and carrying a stack of papers. We each end up on the floor with the papers scattered around us.

I glance across the corridor into the eyes of a pissed off Conrad Ecklie. Well, shit. This shift keeps getting better and better.


Part 3

I quickly pick up the scattered papers before Ecklie can get his ass off the floor. He still looks pissed so I make a snap decision to apologize. Knowing he would never expect an apology from me, I'm hoping it will catch him off guard. "I am so sorry. It's just that I was in a hurry to check with Nick about something important, and there is never any traffic in this corridor. I should have been more careful." I don't mention exactly why I am seeking out Nick nor do I ask Ecklie why he is here at this particular hour. Instead, I act truly remorseful as I hand him his papers.

My plan must work because Ecklie spits out "Just pay attention to your surroundings from now on, Sidle. And no more running in the halls!" Counting my blessings, I apologize once more and take off down the hall at a slightly slower speed. Maybe I have found a new way of dealing with the asshole.

Ecklie's encounter has cost me precious time. I enter the break room at the exact moment as Catherine. Any other day, I would be grateful for such good timing, but today I am cursing Ecklie for delaying my attempt to talk to Nick alone. It looks like I'm going to have to catch him tomorrow night.

Turning my attention to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, I pour a cup of Greg's special blend for myself and Catherine. She graciously accepts her mug as I sit down beside her. I savor the rich French vanilla flavor as I listen to Catherine and Nick discuss the upcoming weekend. I smile to myself when I picture us in our mountain cabin. It's going to be a wonderful trip.

Greg's coffee shoots out my nose when I overhear Catherine agree to dog sit for Nick Saturday and Sunday. After making sure I'm okay, she goes on and on about how Lindsey has always wanted a dog. I really wish I had gotten to Nick earlier. Now I am going to have to find another dog sitter on top of everything else. Damn Ecklie.

Catherine and I are delayed for an hour after shift writing up our reports so we decide to stop at the diner around the corner for breakfast before heading home. With processing the scene, cataloging the evidence, dealing with Julie, 'guilting' Greg into taking one of Catherine's shifts, running into Ecklie, and trying to find time to talk to Nick, I am utterly exhausted. I sure hope Catherine doesn't need to relieve any 'tension' when we get home.

The minute we return home, I take a quick shower and crawl into bed. I can't believe I'm trying to get to sleep before Catherine comes in. Shutting my eyes, I peek through the slit of one eye to see Catherine come into the room. She glances at the bed and quietly moves into the master bath. I roll onto my back and stare at the ceiling wondering what in the world is wrong with me. Who in their right mind would play possum to avoid making love with Catherine Willows?

After several minutes of contemplating my question and a list of none, I turn on my side and wait for Catherine to emerge from the bathroom. I am certainly not disappointed as she walks toward the bed wearing nothing but a smile. I lift the covers as she crawls into the bed next to me.

I awake mid-afternoon alone in the bed and reach over to touch Catherine's side. It's still warm so she hasn't been up long. I swing my legs over to the side and leisurely stretch. I'm pleasantly surprised at the lack of soreness. After the workout Catherine put me through this morning, I'm surprised I can move. To be quite honest, I didn't realize I was so limber. Smiling at the memories, I rise and move into the master bath.

As I exit the bathroom, Lindsey comes running into the room and shuts the door behind her. She excitedly says "Sara, what are we going to do? Mom said we're taking care of Nick's dog this weekend. How can we do that and still go to the cabin?"

As I open my mouth to respond, a wild and crazy idea enters my head. What if we took the dog with us? It's only a 45 minute drive and I'm sure the dog would be fine in the car for the short trip. It would also give me a little leverage to talk Nick into working Friday's shift. Besides, the dog would keep Lindsey company while Catherine and I are otherwise engaged. Hmm, perhaps we should look into getting Lindsey her own dog.

Lindsey is quite pleased with my idea and promises to take full responsibility for the dog. I'll talk to Nick to be sure it's okay with him if we take the dog out of the city. I would imagine the dog would definitely be in favor of it. I'm sure he gets tired of being cooped up in Nick's apartment. I bet he would vote two paws up.

During dinner, another bump in the road materializes when Catherine informs us she has made reservations at Olive's for Sunday. She goes on and on about how difficult it was to get reservations until Sam called for her. He assured her we would have the best seat in the house. Lindsey and I almost choke on our meal but somehow manage to smile and act excited.

Catherine has been trying to get reservations to Olive's for months, and we could never get in. I hate to call and cancel, but maybe I can bite the bullet and ask Sam to help me get reservations for another time. Talk about the ultimate sacrifice, I would rather date Ecklie than ask Sam for a favor.

Lily arrives to stay with Lindsey as Catherine and I decide to go into work early to check the progress of our case from last shift. I was able to talk to Lily alone and let her in on my plans. She is going to take care of canceling the reservations at Olive's and even offered to talk to Sam. I graciously accepted.

Spotting Nick's truck in the parking lot, I tell Catherine I will meet her in her office after I check trace to see if there are any more results. The minute we separate, I begin my search for Nick.

I find him in the audio/visual lab alone. Things are definitely looking up. "Hey, Nick. You got a second?" He gives me one of those big Texas smiles and replies "Always for you, Sara." I quickly explain my plan and ask for his help. He really likes the idea of his dog getting to go to the mountains, but he can't work Friday's shift. He has plans for a camping weekend with friends. The group gets together once a year, and this weekend was the only time they were all free.

Nick suggests I ask Rizzo from the swing shift if he would be willing to work a double. He said if Catherine hadn't asked to switch then he was going to ask Rizzo. Looking at my watch, I realize Rizzo should still be in the building. I thank Nick as I seek out Rizzo. This is turning into a regular scavenger hunt.

After checking almost every room in the building, I spot his size 16 sneakers sticking out from under a Volvo in the garage area. He actually told me his shoe size one day when one of his cases overlapped into the graveyard shift. Our victim was a former basketball player with size 18 feet. I made a comment about the correlation between a man's shoe size and the size of his penis. Greg argued that it was all hogwash, and the bet was on.

Rizzo's information allowed me to win the bet. He told us his shoe size and then had Greg follow him into the men's room. A couple of minutes later, Greg came out with a red face and handed me twenty dollars. To this day, Greg avoids Rizzo at all costs.

Smiling from the memory, I reach down and pull on the feet in question. Rizzo rolls out from under the Volvo and gives me a huge grin. I explain my predicament, and Rizzo agrees to help me out as long as he gets a share of the winnings on my next bet.

I head for Catherine's office after agreeing to give Rizzo ten percent of my next three bets. It will be well worth it if I can pull this weekend off. I find myself constantly looking over my shoulder waiting for the next obstacle.

My cell phone rings as I'm in the corridor next to Catherine's office. Pulling it from my hip, I look at the display. The Rampart? Who would be calling me from there? I flip the phone open and answer "Sidle."

The voice on the other end responds "Ms. Sidle, this is Sam Braun."


Part 4

I almost drop the phone on the floor when I hear the raspy voice. Stay calm, Sara. He can't hurt you over the phone. At least I don't think he can. In a semi-controlled voice, I answer "What can I do for you, Mr. Braun?" Hey, that sounded fairly professional, score one for me.

Sam doesn't waste any time as he responds "I understand the plans I made for Catherine this weekend have been cancelled. Do you know what I had to do to get those reservations along with the best seats in the house?"

My mind quickly runs through several possibilities. A simple payoff, bribery, blackmail, strong arm techniques, or, oh God, please don't tell me the owner of Olive's woke up next to a horse's head.

Realizing Sam is waiting for an answer, I squeak out a no. A chuckle is heard on the other end before Sam says "I was quite upset until Lily told me you are working on a special family weekend. I must say I am very impressed with you, Ms. Sidle; however, I do wonder if you ever plan to make an honest woman out of my Mugs."

The phone successfully finds its way to the floor as Sam's meaning seeps into my already overactive brain. I reach down, grab it off the floor, and offer my most sincere apology. "Mr. Braun, I am so very sorry. Um, I was juggling some papers and temporarily lost my grip on my phone. Er, listen, I would really like to continue our conversation, but I am being paged by my boss. Maybe we can discuss things later. Bye."

I flip my phone closed the minute he offers his goodbye. Sliding down the wall, I take a seat on the floor to compose myself before meeting with Catherine. Shit, what was that all about? I was right there with him until he mentioned the 'honest woman' bit. Catherine and I have never actually discussed our feelings on commitment ceremonies. Would she want one?

After sitting long enough to acquire a numb ass, I pull myself up off the floor and dust off my jeans. Sam has given me something else to think about. This weekend would provide the perfect setting for me to pop the question so to speak. I'm going to have to give this some serious thought, but for right now, I need to see Catherine. As I walk around the corridor, another thought runs through my head. How in the hell did Sam Braun get my cell phone number?

Knocking on Catherine's door, I enter to find her on the phone, and I can't help but wonder if Sam is on the other end of the line. I take a seat in the chair facing the desk and smile at the stupid ducks sitting on the shelf behind Catherine. Gil really needs to find her another office before she sells them on eBay.

Catherine hangs up and asks "Where have you been? It's been almost an hour since we split up. Did trace find anything of value?" Crap, I knew I forgot something. Deciding it's time for a little vagueness, I reply "They are still processing most of the evidence. I told Hodges I'd check back in about an hour."

She nods her head and says "By the way, what have you done to win over Ecklie? He was in here earlier talking about a visit by some big FBI honcho this weekend." I interrupt to ask what the visit has to do with me. Catherine smiles and answers "The visitor happens to be Dr. Carol Woods. She supervises their entire crime lab division. Dr. Woods has heard great things about our lab and has arranged for a tour and overview of the workings of the lab. Ecklie says she is some sort of genius so he thought you would be the perfect tour guide."

I am flattered until I realize Catherine said this weekend. Now I feel nothing but nausea. There is no way I will be able to get out of this duty short of being fired. Damn Ecklie. What a time to decide to place his faith in me. This weekend trip has been doomed from the very beginning.

Catherine becomes concerned when I don't respond to her news. She's probably noticed all the color has drained from my face as well. I attempt to put on a 'happy face' to reassure her, but she knows I'm forcing my smile since she has been the recipient of my true 'happy face' before. Matter of fact, she witnessed one just this morning when she climbed into bed.

Looking very determined, she begins to ask questions about what is bothering me concerning the upcoming visit. As I gather my thoughts to respond, my pager goes off. I check the display to find I am being summoned to Grissom's office. I guess he gets to make Ecklie's request official. I say a quick goodbye to Catherine before leaving.

Oh well, it was a really good idea. Maybe we can visit the cabin sometime this summer. My mood takes another downward spiral as I realize Catherine is going to kill me. Not only did the trip not pan out, but I had Lily cancel her reservation to Olive's. I'm thinking it's probably not the right time to ask Catherine about a commitment ceremony.

I enter Grissom's office expecting to see Ecklie. Instead I find Grissom sitting behind his desk with a very smug expression. I take a seat across from him and await my fate. He just smiles and remains silent.

Wanting to get this over with, I say "I know what this is about. Catherine told me all about Ecklie's plan for me to chaperone Dr. Woods around the lab. Let's make this official so I can go cancel my cabin for this weekend."

Grissom smiles broadly which causes me to smile as well. Grissom never smiles unless there's a perfectly good reason. Please tell me he has a solution to this problem. Finally, he says "Sara, you owe me big. When Ecklie told me of his plan, I informed him Dr. Woods is an old friend of mine and that I would dearly love to spend some time with her." He stands and moves to lean against the front of his desk before adding "You're off the hook. I'll show Dr. Woods around."

I jump from my seat and grab Grissom in a bear hug. Releasing him, I say "Grissom, thank you so much. I just knew this was the end of my plan. This really means a great deal to me. I promise to pay you back somehow."

I lean forward and give him a quick kiss, and he instantly turns a bright red. I begin to laugh until I hear a noise at the door.

I turn to see Catherine's shocked expression as she says "Sara?"


Part 5

Grissom excuses himself and quickly exits, the coward. Catherine steps further into the room after shutting the door behind her. We stand facing each other with completely different expressions. She displays feelings of both hurt and anger while I show the classic 'how the hell am I going to get out of this one?' look.

I know I will only have one shot to make this better so I don't want to blow it by spouting off some premature excuse. Catherine moves parallel to me without getting any closer and asks "Is there something going on between you and Gil?"

Stifling a laugh, I answer "No, Catherine. I, um, ... well...you see..." I quickly pray for divine intervention and find it in the form of an amazingly good excuse. "Catherine, Grissom informed me Dr. Woods was going to be here all day Saturday and Sunday. Ecklie expected me to devote every minute to her so I wouldn't be able to go with you and Lindsey to Olive's. I explained how upset I was to Grissom, and he offered to take my place."

Catherine smiles and asks "So, you were just thanking Grissom for a favor?" I nod my head yes as she moves closer adding "You were really upset?" I nod once again as she pulls me into a heated kiss. Lord, this woman can kiss. Please God, don't strike me down until I've at least had this one last kiss.

As we break apart, Catherine puts her head on my shoulder as I hug her close. She laughingly says "Can you imagine how red Gil would be if he walked in on us kissing?" I join in the laughter as we continue to enjoy being in each other's arms. Elated that God seems to have given me a reprieve, I glance upward and make a promise to go to confession when this weekend is over.

The shift stays fairly calm the rest of the night. Catherine seems satisfied with my explanation concerning the kiss. She did warn me that if I need to thank Grissom in the future, a handshake will suffice. I promise her my lips will never stray again.

When we arrive home, Catherine proceeds to thank me properly for going out of my way to ensure her reservations at Olive's would not have to be canceled. She went on and on about how upset Sam would have been. I didn't have too much time to feel guilty about my deception once she switched from a verbal thanks to a more physical one. I can truly say that I am feeling very appreciated at the moment. I have never been 'thanked' on so many different surfaces in my entire life. I'm pretty sure the imprint of the pantry doorknob is permanently tattooed on my ass.

I arrive for the next shift a few minutes late and receive a few gibes from the guys. If they only knew how close they are to being correct. Catherine and Lindsey returned from Parent's Night around 10:00 p.m. Lindsey headed straight to bed and Catherine headed straight for me, nothing like a little quickie to start off the night.

Greg and I are assigned a DB at the Sands, and I allow him to drive. He takes advantage of my good mood and jumps behind the wheel as I let my mind wander. I keep going back to Sam's words, a commitment ceremony. Should I ask Catherine? I glance over at Greg and decide to run it by him. He is the closest thing I have to a best friend besides Catherine, of course.

We finally arrive at the scene after a few traffic problems. Greg suggests I go for it; he believes Catherine will be overjoyed. I think I'll talk to Warrick before making any sort of major decision. He knows Catherine better than any of the guys and can probably give me more insight.

The body is lying at the edge of the alley and is in pretty bad shape. It is apparent he took a dive off the five story building. Question is did he jump or was he pushed? I glance up at the eave of the building and look back at the body. From the ground, it appears he ran off the end instead of jumped. I tell Greg we need to go up to the roof to check things out.

After walking to the edge and peering over, I come to the conclusion that this guy had to have been pushed. There are signs of a scuffle and a few broken tiles near the 'jump' location. I reach to retrieve one of them and lose my footing sending me toward the edge. As I try to regain my balance, I realize I am in deep shit. If I don't die from the fall, Catherine is going to kill me.

At the very last minute, a hand reaches out and pulls me back toward the safety of the roof. I immediately crawl far away from the edge and lie on my back looking up at the stars. Son of a bitch, I could have been killed. Right then and there I make up my mind; we're having a commitment ceremony come hell or high water.

After regaining my composure, I roll to my knees and stand. Greg is sitting beside me shaking in his boots. You would think he was the one about to take a header off the side of the building. I put out my hand and say "Greg you saved my life, and I'll never be able to properly repay you. All I can do is offer a sincere thank you. I would give you a kiss, but Catherine told me I couldn't thank anyone with my lips again." He smiles as he shakes my hand.

We collect the rest of the evidence without incident. As we leave the roof area, I tell Greg of my decision to ask Catherine. He is genuinely excited and asks what I'm going to give her. My mouth opens and closes several times before I realize that I have no idea. Great, just what I need, another dilemma, and I thought things were going to be easy from here.

As shift comes to an end, we have made a bit of progress on the case. I have been able to recreate the probable trajectory of the body from the roof, and we have even made a couple of casts from the prints off the slippery tiles. Brass promises to round up some witnesses to interview by next shift. I leave the building with thoughts of Catherine's commitment gift running through my head.

On the drive home, I come up with different excuses to leave Catherine this afternoon to check out some jewelry stores. I think I want to try to find her a necklace instead of a ring. She is always complaining about how hard it is to put on her gloves over her rings. In fact, she has gotten into the habit of not wearing any rings at all to work.

I finally decide to use the excuse of Nick's dog, Ralph. Poor dog, I hope he doesn't have any complexes from such a pitiful excuse for an animal's name. Anyway, ol' Ralph is going to need some treats and things so I will offer to go pick up a few items. I believe there is a jewelry store or two on the way to PetSmart.

Pleased with myself and my decision, I smile as I enter the house. I walk into the den to find Catherine sitting on the couch. As I approach her to give her a kiss in greeting, I stop in my tracks when I notice her expression. Looking more closely, it appears as if she's been crying.

I step toward her as she says "Sara, what in the hell were you thinking on the roof of that building? Greg said you would have gone over the edge if he hadn't gotten to you. How could you have been so careless?"

I am going to kick Greg's ass the minute I see him. Better yet, I think I'll throw him off the top of that damn building.

Part 6

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