DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS.
CHALLENGE: Submitted as part of the Sara/Sofia 'Let's Get Sassy' ficathon.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Sara Sidle, Queen of Denial
By Salamander


Sofia was not Catherine, but there was still something showy about the detective's confidence. It burrowed into Sara's skin where all it seemed to do was irritate when the other woman was around.

Take the patented Sofia Swagger, for instance. It was a nice, fluid gait accentuated by her hips. It meant business. It always reminded Sara of a gunslinger making his presence known, with a feminine flair thrown in.

"You think she practices?" Greg asked, transfixed by the woman's backside.

Sara scowled and swiped the back of his head with the file in her hand. "Don't you have something better to do besides being the poster boy for sexual harassment in the workplace?"

That only got a snort before Greg took the hint, turned, and started his trek deeper within the labs. Sara scowled as she went back to studying Sofia just before the other woman vanished around a corner.

"Pot, kettle," Greg stage-whispered, but when Sara turned around with an even deeper scowl, she was alone in the hall.

So what was it about Sofia that had Grissom willing to take a chance on her – he had taken a chance on her, right? – and not on Sara? What did Sofia have that she didn't?

Okay, Sara could think up a number of things, and on one particularly bad night off and after three beers, she'd even gotten out a pencil, a pad of paper, and another beer and had started a list. A bad child abuse case the previous night, a marathon of Twin Peaks, a six-pack of Miller, and thoughts of Sofia were really bad for mood and the ego, apparently, because she managed to get to 47 entries scarily easily.

She stopped only when she realized that maybe that was the sort of thing Sofia would do herself, if she had self-worth issues. Didn't that woman like to itemize things? Sara wasn't sure. She tried not to pay attention to the other woman too much. She scribbled down "48: Sofia does not have a 'me problem,'" before heading to her kitchen. The entire pad of paper was set into a pot which was set into the sink and then a match took care of it.

The fire alarm had gone off.

Sofia Curtis strikes again.

After the alarm had been dealt with, Sara took out her fifth beer and put in the next Twin Peaks disc and brooded for the rest of the night.

A few nights later, Sara really took notice of Sofia while the detective had been interrogating a suspect. She'd seen the posture before, but for some reason it was this showing of it that flipped a switch somewhere in Sara's head. It was the Sofia Stance: Sofia's arms had been crossed, her face taciturn. On Sara, it would have looked defensive, but on the other woman, it commanded authority and somehow also made her look relaxed.

It had set Sara off, and for the rest of the night she'd been grumpy. Even Catherine had stayed away with minimal snarky comments, although Sara was pretty sure she'd heard a mumbled, "Needs to get laid."

That hadn't helped.

Anyway, it wasn't a compulsion or anything, but after that night, Sara had a hard time not studying the other woman. It was like picking a scab, and it only made the situation worse. Sofia would sweep onto a scene and effortlessly take control, the beat cops instantly willing to go the extra mile when they'd barely acknowledged Sara. A suspect underestimated Sofia only to realize how screwed he was even before Nick had the chance to show off evidence. Mannerisms, habits, speech patterns catalogued through side-glances and from behind sunglasses.

It had been a few weeks into Sofia Stalking Watch when Sara came upon a highly suspicious scene in the lab's break room. Sofia was blocking the door, the Sofia Stance in full affect. Over by the coffee machine was a pathetic Greg, who instantly became terrified when he spotted Sara over the detective's shoulder. There may have even been a whimper.

"What's going on?"

Sofia jerked in surprise, and Greg took the opportunity to brush past both women frantically. That was not a good sign.

Frowning, Sara entered the room and took out her mug. "So?" She looked up after pouring herself some coffee.

Sofia had stood there, contemplation written into her features, one of those ever-present toothpicks at the corner of her mouth.

Did this woman think she was John Wayne or something?

Sara sent an irritated glance Sofia's way, which only seemed to make the detective smirk. "Greg and I were just having a little discussion."

If anyone were going to have a discussion with Greg that practically made him wet himself, it was going to be Sara, dammit. That was her right. Who did this woman think she was?

Sara's eyes narrowed over the rim of her mug as she took a sip, but that just egged Sofia on more. She was clearly fighting to keep the amusement off her face, eventually giving up to chuckle. "Be seeing you around, Sidle," she'd said before slipping from the doorway.

Sara had stewed over her mug, sipping occasionally, before giving in. She headed over to trace, where she knew she'd find Greg. He liked to hang out there when he was in trouble. No one wanted to venture into the lab unless it was important, and Hodges was fine with it because he got to see the drama firsthand.

"Just because you can't see me doesn't mean I can't see you," Sara said by way of greeting, Greg hiding behind a binder. She noticed Hodges' Grinch-like smirk appear. "Most people learn that as toddlers."

Greg peeked out, glancing at Sara and then at David. "She's going to kill me," he whispered.

The tech seemed to ponder that before, "Can I have your stereo?"

Before he could stall the situation further, Sara had walked up to Greg and literally taken him by the bunching collars of his coat and shirt, dragging him out of the lab. "Dead man walking!" Hodges' bellow brought the unwanted attention of everyone in the lab, and Greg's face was red and hot by the time Sara had hauled the other CSI out the back door.

The problem was now that she had him, she didn't know what to say. Sara gave him a few minutes to compose himself. "Why do you look so scared?"

Greg stilled and remained quiet for an interminable amount of time. Finally, he blinked, took a breath, and started. And once he'd started, he didn't seem to be able to stop. "She's been at me for days, Sara! I don't know what you expect from me. You know I've got your back, but you've been so... Look, this is not my fault! I didn't tell her anything. You have to believe me. I wouldn't do that to you. She cornered me and asked me questions, but I said nothing! I didn't have to, anyway. She knows. On her own. She figured it out." Tirade complete, Greg expelled a breath through hollowed cheeks and relaxed.

This time, it was Sara that was silent as she tried to find any substance in Greg's ramblings. And found none. "What the hell are you talking about?"

Greg laughed. "Are you serious?"

Sara was stony-faced and decidedly not amused.

"Oh my God, you're serious." He inspected her closely. "Oh, Sara."

"What?!" From not amused to highly irritated.

"Sara," Greg said softly. "You have no clue."

"Greg, what --"

"No. Look, you're going to hate me for not explaining this to you, but I think you'd hate me even more if I said something. Especially while we're at work." He frowned sympathetically. "Take some time and look over things, okay? Take the next few days and think over the last couple of months. Will you?"

"Greg -- "

He cut her off by hugging her, which she eventually returned. When he finally pulled back, there was a grin on Greg's face. "No wonder you haven't responded to any of my teasing! Knew it couldn't have been my material."

Sara still had no clue what he was talking about, but she felt like punching him in the arm. Hard. So she did.

Sara wasn't so good at thinking. It usually didn't lead to anywhere nice. And anyway, she really couldn't figure out what the hell was Greg's problem. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened over the last few months.

But she had tried, really hard, to work it out, mainly for Greg. He'd seemed concerned, and Sara had to admit that felt good.

Four days later, though, she had concluded he was insane.

Women were supposed to go to the restroom in groups, for some reason. Sara had never understood that kind of pack behavior. If she had to pee, she'd rather do it alone. And if she didn't have to pee, why go to the restroom?

Sara was fairly sure that women weren't supposed to sneak into restrooms after someone, though, so when she'd opened the stall door to see the Sofia Stance directed at her, it gave her pause. "Hello?" That had sounded weak to even her own ears, and she wondered how the detective viewed it. Clearing her throat, she moved to the faucet to wash her hands.

Sofia had followed her movement with her eyes, shoulder leaning into the wall, one of her insufferable smirks appearing.

Sara scowled as she dried her hands with a paper towel. "What? Am I being interrogated?"

"Maybe," the detective drawled out. "Y'know, Greg and I have been catching up. -- "

"Leave him alone. -- "

"Oh, he's fine. Resilient boy. Has to be with all the strong women around him." And then Sofia... she... well... assessed Sara's entire frame from top to bottom to top again. In a way that... Sara wasn't sure if... what just happened?

"Look, I don't know what's going on, but -- "

Sofia's laughter cut in. "I somehow don't doubt that."

"Dammit, Curtis, what are you up to?"

A surprised chortle came from the detective. "What am I up to? Are you kidding me? After the last few weeks, you ask me that?"

Sara's lips were a thin, angry line, and she moved to throw away the towel. Shockingly, Sofia had planted herself right in front of the enclave in the wall for it. She marched right up to the detective and ground out, "Move."

So Sofia did. Only marginally. Just enough to let a hand in. Did she really always have to have all the power in a situation? Or was Sara just lucky?

The towel was hastily thrown away. "Leave me alone, Sofia. I won't ask you again."

"I could say the same to you, but I'm not." She straightened, no longer leaning against the wall, her arms no longer crossed. The movement brought the two slightly closer together.

Which made Sara slightly uncomfortable, but she wasn't about to back away from this. "What the hell are you talking about? What have I done to you?"

"You're really that dense, aren't you?" There was wonder and pity in her voice, and Sara hated it instantly.

"What the hell is your problem?!"

"My problem?! I'm not the one who -- "

The kiss was a sneak attack. On Sofia, sure, but Sara was pretty sure she was the most surprised, even if she had been the instigator. It was rough and needy and fast, and Sofia let out a grunt as she was pushed into the wall. And while Sara couldn't form coherent thoughts, there was an annoying "What am I doing?! What am I doing?!" and a rather relieved "Yes! Yes!" feelings buzzing around her head. And her heart was thumping wildly and Sofia's hands clutched painfully at Sara's sides to pull her closer and they were trying to devour each other.

It could have lasted five seconds or twenty or a minute, although she wasn't out of breath so Sara doubted it. But it did end. With a bang, unfortunately, as someone opened the restroom door and plowed into her back.

"Oh, I'm sor -- "


Oh shit! Catherine!

Sara whirled around, wide-eyed. It was the most uncomfortable ten seconds of her life. The other two didn't seem to be fairing well either. Until Catherine let out a puff of breath and shook her head. "Well, I'd tell you two to get a room, but it looks like you already found one." And then she sauntered to a stall.

Oh. Right. This was Sara Sidle's life. She finally "gets it," but it's a highly inappropriate time, place, or person. She decided that making out with co-workers at the diner they normally eat breakfast at was a bad idea.

Especially when that co-worker was just going to laugh at her hysterically after being caught. Sara clenched her jaw, pulling away, having to wrench her arm out of Sofia's grasping hand. She was reaching to slam the door open when Sofia's soft, "Sara," reached her.

She took a moment to compose herself before turning back to the other woman. There had only been one other time Sara remembered seeing Sofia that vulnerable, and that had been when she'd practically driven the detective out of Grissom's office when Sofia was being investigated for Bells' death. It wasn't something Sara was used to seeing.

"I'm sorry," Sofia mouthed the words.

When Sara kissed her again, it wasn't to shut Sofia up.

The End

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