DISCLAIMER: These characters and situations do not belong to me in any way, shape, or form. I have borrowed them as part of my sanity maintenance.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written, finally, as the companion piece to Letting Go and Holding On, to make a Trilogy I'm going to call, The Power of 3. Without Ann this story would never have happened; she wrote the first paragraph for me and said, 'here you go.'
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To deb123em[at]gmail.com
She sat at the edge of a deserted beach, the worn backside of her denim jeans resting on a patch of brown withered grass and her feet coated with grit and sand. A soft sigh escaped her wind chapped lips as she leaned forward and wrapped her arms around her knees, her toes tunnelling deeply into the sandy earth. How had everything gone so horribly wrong?
Sara glanced back to look at her cabin; seeing the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree in one window and the warm glow of kitchen lights, as two women prepared their idea of a welcoming feast, in the other. Sofia and Catherine, the women she loved in equal parts and the women she'd left behind in the same equal parts, were here with her, trying to make this the best Christmas they'd ever had.
How had it gone wrong? Natalie Davis and Grissom, that was how. Although, with a rueful smile, Sara had to correct herself and finally admit that she, Sara Sidle, also had a big part to play. Yes, she was the main reason it had all gone wrong. Her kidnap at Natalie's hands and Grissom's professions of love had been part of it but, deep down, she knew, the main problem had been her own stupid fear of finally finding a love that she was scared to lose.
Despite harbouring an unrequited crush for Catherine Willows, she'd fallen hard for Sofia Curtis and finally allowed herself to be happy. Sofia's affair with Catherine had somehow kick-started Sara to admit to her crush and the other great love of her life had begun. Wondrously, the three of them had come together in an understanding; Sara Sidle/Catherine Willows; Sara Sidle/Sofia Curtis; Sofia Curtis/Catherine Willows. Chuckling to herself at all the connotations, she realised they were a fiction writer's dream. Her laughter broke through her thoughts because there was the crux of what had really gone wrong. Sara had never allowed herself to truly believe in Sara/Catherine/Sofia. All her life she'd lost those closest to her, blaming herself for much of the loss. In her eyes, all it would take was for her to make a mess of it with either or both women, and she'd lose the only thing that had ever mattered. Rather than lose; she'd run.
And now, she was back; but was she? Sara Sidle was struggling. Sofia and Catherine had become the couple she'd hoped they'd become but, for her, something was missing this time; where once she'd known bliss in these women's arms; now she just felt lost, like an outsider. She still adored Catherine, still loved Sofia unreservedly, still cared for Lindsay, and yet, despite all of this, she was afraid to fully commit to being home.
Six months she'd been back in Vegas and still she was holed up in a small, cramped apartment, refusing all offers of moving back in with Catherine and Sofia, and still afraid of being with both women together. This whole load of negative 'stills' was driving her insane and driving her 'family' insane, too, if this holiday was any indicator: Nick and Greg pulling her to one side and insisting that she and Catherine both took Christmas leave; Brass shoving Sofia out of the squad room to take her women out to Sara's cabin and, earlier this evening, Sofia pushing her out of the cabin to 'get her head on straight'.
So, here she was, thoughts and memories a maelstrom in her head.
Sara strolled into Katie's diner ready for her breakfast get-together with Catherine. Since her return, this had become their oasis of normality in an otherwise ever more weird nightshift. Glancing around the booths, she searched for Catherine, smiling softly when she spotted her beloved face. Suddenly, a wave of jealousy she hadn't had in years hit full force when she saw Catherine in an animated discussion with a man whose hand she was caressing across the table.
Recognising the man as Detective Vartann, she strolled towards the pair.
Catherine glanced up and her look claimed Sara as hers with no care of anyone else seeing the look.
Sara blushed and Catherine smiled indulgently.
Vartann spun around and immediately stood, drawing Sara to his now vacated chair.
"Hey Sara, it's good to see you back. Here take my chair; I'll leave you two alone."
Sara watched as Catherine touched his hand and whispered, "Don't worry, Lou, just talk it through with David, like we..."
Their words disappeared as Sara got lost in looking at Catherine. Feeling the heat that always radiated between them, she wondered how she'd ever thought she could live without.
After a moment, she heard Catherine chuckle, "Penny for them, Sara."
"Just missed you, that's all."
The pleasure written all over Catherine's face almost made up for twelve months of hurt.
"Come home with me."
Sara watched the baseball game carefully; at least, spending time with Grissom, had given her something better than a hatred of all things invertebrate, especially after realising it was a passion she shared with Sofia. Like her breakfasts with Catherine, baseball had become her and Sofia's way back together.
Glancing towards the aisle, she saw the gorgeous figure of her girlfriend returning with two bottles of Coke. She flashed a grateful smile as Sofia flopped in the seat beside her.
"What did I miss?"
Sofia chuckled at Sara's reply. "So, we're playing as well as usual, huh?"
The two women continued to watch the game, chatting amiably, laughing and joking, but rarely touching. Sara sighed ruefully; she'd never have guessed that touching Sofia naturally would be the thing that got lost in her absence and, yet, here it was, her lover treating her as a friend.
Suddenly, a home run cheer broke her musings and two strong arms pulled her into a hug.
"Did you see that, Wallace finally earning his pay?"
"Oh, Sara, the 51s are finally goin' to do it; you're a good luck charm, you know."
Lifting her head, she locked eyes with Sofia, and it was as if she had never been away. Sofia's kiss plundered with the force of rightness was almost worth the last twelve months.
"Come home with me, Sara."
Lindsay pulled the dog towards her gently; obviously infuriated at the Boxer's antics. Sara laughed out loud at the sight.
"I don't know what you're laughing at Sara; it's your fault Mum and Sofia got this oaf to look after." Bending down, she tickled his ears and whispered, "It's a good thing you're a big ol' softie really, huh?"
Sara smiled at the love being shared; in that instant, missing acutely her lovers and their daughter.
Seeing the wistful smile on Sara's face, Lindsay let Hank, Grissom's dog given to Catherine and Sofia for safe keeping, off the lead to run in the surf. Flopping down beside Sara, she punched her on the upper arm, hard.
"Ow, that hurt."
"It was meant to, Sara. I'm mad at you right now."
Sara looked stunned; seeing Catherine's eyes staring back at her from the face of her daughter, she prepared herself to hear some wrath.
"You smile as if you're missing something; your family, maybe. Well fuck you, Sara..."
Sara tried interrupting. "Hey, Linds, there's no need..."
"What, no need for the language? Well, fuck you, Sara; it's all your fault. Yes, yours. They want you home; have always wanted you home. But me, I don't care what you do from here on in. I loved it when you three were together; Mom was the happiest I'd ever known her. Guess what, Sara; she still is. It took a while, but THEY made it work; it was hard after you left, but they tried, and it worked. I heard them say that was your plan, for them to find each other and then they'd find you again. Well, it worked; they found each other. And they'd give anything to find you again."
"I don't know, Linds..."
Lindsay jumped up, "As I said, *I* don't care, Sara. Look at them..." she flung her arm out indicating the cabin window, "... really look at them. You'll see. And when you've seen, the question you need to ask is do YOU want to be found?"
So now, her thoughts coming together with Lindsay's remembered words, she turned to face her cabin, seeing her two lovers preparing their Christmas Eve feast. She watched as the two women moved in a dance perfected with time spent together. It was as if they'd been choreographed in the meal preparation, perfect timing, side-step here, swivel there, the occasional touch of one hand to the other's lower back, a laugh here, a smile there, perfection. And yet, something was missing. She watched as Catherine stared into the front room, watched as Sofia listened for a voice that wasn't there, saw a look of disappointment flit across Catherine's face, saw as Sofia passed the oven gloves to a missing hand, really saw...
Catherine smiling down at Sara nuzzling her perfectly toned stomach, comforting Catherine as she slowly came down off the high bestowed by Sara; Catherine murmuring breathily, 'Jeez, Sofe, that was...'
It was her only slip, but Sara saw.
Sofia pulling away from their heated kiss, distracted; only to turn back with a look of disappointment as she muttered, "Sorry, Sara, I thought I heard Ca... someone."
It was her only slip, but Sara saw.
... In fact, she could see it all clearly now.
At last, she stood from her cramped place on the withered grass. Taking one last look at the deserted beach where she often spent time working through her issues, she shook the sand and grit from her shoes and headed inside.
Making a detour to her bag of gifts, she pulled a small but important white envelope from its hiding place and made her way to the kitchen. She knew it wasn't time to exchange gifts, but now her decision was made, it was the right time.
Walking through the door, she grinned as three faces turned towards her to light up with the love she now knew was hers to accept. She threw the envelope on the table and stood back to watch. Catherine and Sofia shared a glance, and then turned to stare at the envelope. Lindsay picked up the small white square, turning it over in her hands. She looked at Sara expectantly.
Holding Catherine and Sofia's eyes for a second, she whispered, "I'm ready."
She then indicated to Lindsay to open the envelope and watched as each woman in turn read the photocopied letter of withdrawal from the leasehold on her apartment. She laughed out loud for the first time in hours as it took her lovers much less time to 'really see' the significance of her gift. She was suddenly engulfed in a crushing hug from all directions.
Finally, at peace, the last thing she remembered for a long time after that was Lindsay's gentle caress of the 3 gold bands resting one on top of each other as she peeled away to leave the threesome in their own special bliss.
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