DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of these characters. I do this only for my sanity.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Inspired by my love of the Gene Pitney/Marc Almond epic "Something's Gotten Hold of my Heart".
SPOILERS: Cool Change, Crate 'n' Burial, Table Stakes, Blood Drops, The Strip Strangler (S.1), Nesting Dolls, Justice is Served, To Tough To Die (S.2)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart
By Debbie


"Something's gotten hold of my heart
Keeping my soul and my senses apart
Something's gotten into my life
Cutting its way through my dreams like a knife
Turning me up, turning me down
Making me smile, making me frown"

Sara Sidle was looking out of her National Airlines airplane as it circled McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas. It was exactly 12 hours since she had received a call from her friend and mentor, Gil Grissom.

"Sara, I need you. One of my team has got himself in a tight spot and I need an outsider to come and run the internal investigation."

Quickly arranging everything with her Californian boss this was the quickest turn-a-round of base she had ever completed.

No matter how much she argued 'she didn't want to investigate a colleague', she'd known from the moment Gil had uttered the words, "I need you," that she would be winging her way to Las Vegas as soon as possible.

Yet, it wasn't her respect, nor her love, that she could only equate to big-brotherly, for Gil Grissom that pulled her towards the bright lights of Las Vegas without a second thought; it was the vivid picture of clear blue eyes boring into her very soul that she still held 11 full years since she had last been here.

Allowing her mind to wander as the plane started to descend she remembered back to the previous time she had been in Vegas.

An obviously uncomfortable 18 year-old Sara Sidle was sitting among her baying peers in a swanky strip joint off the Vegas Strip. Underage and naive she felt totally out of her depth after being dragged into the club by her two supposed best friends. Like all young women they had the ability to look and act older then their true age even if their maturity didn't coincide, and a summer vacation prior to University, was the catalyst for this visit.

The young brunette glanced towards the stage where a couple of artistes were performing what Sara could only assume was a pole dance. Fascinated by the lissome beauties she could only lick her parched lips discreetly. To her side her friends were whistling and cheering but Sara felt only embarrassment at the show. Oh, she was enjoying it, but that was what made it embarrassing, women shouldn't have to exploit their bodies for an other's enjoyment.

The young woman sighed. She reached for her illicit Martini and took a small sip. Another couple of sips later and she began to relax.

Her laughing friends eagerly bought and downed two more drinks, encouraging Sara to follow suit. As she finished her third Martini she was pleasantly buzzed and finally admitted to her friends that this was indeed a good idea. This time, joining in with their laughter, for the first time in her young life she felt part of a family; Sara Sidle felt wanted.

The next few minutes were to change her life dramatically.

The lights dimmed and a gasp of anticipation rose from the massive crowd. The crowd rose almost as one and began to chant quietly. Sara listened intently as the hairs on the back of neck stood up in awe. The crowd appeared to be chanting the name, "Katerine."

Suddenly a crescendo of music filled the air and a voice announced, "Ladies and Gentleman, I give you our greatest talent, Katerine."

The crowd hushed and the three young women gazed towards the stage in amazement.

Sara gasped at her first sight of the gorgeous blonde woman that slinked onto the stage like a predatory feline. The woman commanded her stage with a presence none of the other dancers possessed and proceeded to ensnare her already captive audience with an ease born of grace and beauty.

A stunned Sara was still capable of acknowledging that this graceful woman captivated the crowd for a full 30 minutes without the need to take off her clothes. Mere glimpses of the treasures that lay beneath were more than enough to satisfy.

It was as the finale began to fade out that Sara's life changed. The blonde woman had danced towards the friends' side of the stage and Sara, being a good head taller than her friends, had caught the gaze of the dancer. For some reason the blonde held the gaze.

Sara was powerfully entranced by two, clear, sea blue pools of such intensity; eyes that twinkled with warmth, love, understanding, and pure lust for life held her own for probably no more than 30 seconds and yet it was a picture she had never ever lost.

A picture, a vision you might call it, that had sustained the young Sara Sidle through her troublesome University days and on into her early professional days. Whenever she had felt down, afraid of living her life, she called up the vision of those blue eyes and she managed to cope.

Standing now, 11 years later, looking down on the asphalt of McCarran International Airport, the vision returned as vivid as the day she had first seen it.

Sara wasn't here to meet with Gil Grissom, although that was an added bonus, she was here to meet the owner of those blue eyes. If it was the last thing she did, Sara needed to thank that woman for giving her back her life.

Chuckling to herself Sara watched Gil Grissom have someone throw simulation dummies off a roof-top, hearing his muttered comments, "Norman 'pushed', Norman 'jumped'", as he methodically took photographs and jotted in his notebook.

The man never changed, of the old-school of CSI's he refused to always run to the computer, preferring the hands-on scientific approach. Although she didn't always agree with his methods, she did respect them, and did learn more than enough to compensate.

As the last dummy landed and Grissom muttered, "Norman 'fell'" she couldn't resist adding her own comment.

"Wouldn't you if you were married to Mrs. Roper?"

She grinned at Gil as he started to turn, "I don't even have to turn around. Sara Sidle."

She shared a few friendly rejoinders with her friend before getting down to the serious business of her summons, the shooting incident involving a rookie CSI and the absence of an experienced CSI supposedly supervising.

Sharing Grissom's desire to find out answers she quickly left Gil to his crime scene, heading towards the CSI laboratory to meet up with a senior CSI by the name of Catherine Willows.

At the lab she was directed towards one of the evidence rooms. Opening the door she spotted a strawberry blonde woman leaning over a lap-top deep in thought. Clearing her throat gently, Sara enquired, "Do you know where I can find Catherine Willows?"

Without looking up the woman replied, "She's out in the field."

Unsure of what to do next, Sara looked at the door and her piece of paper again; she was definitely in the right place. Glancing back towards the blonde she saw the older woman start to lift her head, "Let me guess ... Sara Sidle?"

Shocked at the malice in the tone Sara stuttered out her confusion, "I know who I am. I think you're a little confused," only to miss the other woman's answer as she was completely and utterly floored by the eyes that met her own in confrontation.

Looking back at Sara was the owner of those blue eyes.


"In a world that was war I once lived in a time
That was peace with no trouble at all
But then you came my way
And a feeling I know
Shook my heart and made me want you to stay
All of my nights and all of my days"

Catherine Willows was sitting at her desk trying to concentrate on the report in front of her. Her mind was a whirl of images and tunes she hadn't seen or heard in many a long year. She could almost pinpoint the time when the images had begun to surface to two weeks ago with the arrival of the younger CSI, Sara Sidle.

Initially, irritated to be in the same room as the Californian interloper, she had been surprised to find that her greatest memory of solving the Holly Gribbs shooting was the quietly whispered words of Sara, "Nice work, Catherine," as she'd finally nailed the bastard through his DNA sample.

That night she'd tossed and turned at the disjointed images that ran through her sub-conscious: the face of Holly Gribbs, in life and death, the face of the young woman's killer, Jerrod Cooper, alongside happier scenes with Lindsey and Eddie.

These images of her present jumbled together with scenes from her dancing days: the punters, the dances, her colleagues and something she couldn't quite dredge up from the depths, something that had caused her to wake with a start.

Abandoning all thoughts of concentrating on the report Catherine headed towards the break room. If she was lucky she might get first go at the coffee pot and might find five minutes to inspect the parcel, a birthday cake she hoped, that had been delivered to her earlier in the shift.

Walking towards the break room she allowed her mind to wander over her dreams of the last two weeks.

Since that first night the dream had coalesced in to something deeper and in its own way something more troublesome.

It felt like a good dream, a dream that was trying to lead her somewhere, somewhere she hadn't quite found, towards a place that was different and better than her now, and yet it was a bad dream too, holding some feature of great significance that somehow remained just out of reach.

In her dream she was waiting in the wings of her last strip joint. As a young woman she'd always known that dancing was only a stepping stone to something more important in her life and here she was about to perform her final dance. In a few months time she was going to start a job at the local police department in its CSI unit.

One of her punters, a grizzly cop by the name of Jimmy Tadero, had directed her towards a young, up-and-coming crime scene investigator, Gil Grissom, and he had offered her a job on the understanding that she worked her way through an appropriate university degree. Having made enough money to do just that, Catherine had handed in her notice, convinced her boyfriend to attend drug rehabilitation with her, and was about to change her life for the good.

Looking around the watching audience she saw a trio of very young women laughing and joking, watching the pole dancers with barely concealed lust. She smiled to herself, thinking how wonderful it was to be so young and carefree.

Suddenly, she heard the dulcet tones of the club's MC, "Ladies and Gentleman, I give you our greatest talent, Katerine." In the background she could hear the rising chant of "Katerine, Katerine," and the hairs on the back of her neck stood to attention. Covered with goosebumps she took a deep breath and entered the stage.

The crowd hushed and the swaying blonde could almost feel their awe. The young Catherine danced as never before with an ease born of grace and beauty. She knew she was good, knew that she could hold her audience spellbound and yet, on this night, she danced better than ever before, as if there was no tomorrow. Her movements flowed from somewhere deep inside and her body was drawn by the strings of an unknown puppeteer.

For 30 minutes she danced to her very own siren song until the rising notes of her finale's crescendo broke though her consciousness, still the hidden puppeteer had one last twist for the young dancer.

Driven towards the edge of the stage her gaze was captured by one of the young girls she had previously watched with amusement. A good head taller than her peers the brunette was striking in appearance.

Catherine held the gaze for probably no more than 30 seconds but in that time she was ensnared by the depth she could see in two dark ebony eyes; eyes that shone with intelligence, vitality, passion, and something darker, a hurt or loss that shouldn't be seen in eyes so young.

It was those eyes that had returned to her dreams on and off for the last ten years or so. Whenever her life was troubled it was that vision, burnt deep in her memory, that always reared up to remind her that no matter how bad she was feeling there was always somebody worse off.

Standing now, 11 years after that last dance, looking down at Lindsey's seventh birthday cake, the vision that always assailed the end of her dream swam in its hazy image. Rarely coming into her daytime thoughts, she smiled to herself as this time it continued to resurface into full Technicolor clarity.

With a rueful sigh she pieced the last couple of weeks together: upset at Warrick's investigation at the hands of that woman, separated acrimoniously from Eddie, worried about her daughter's happiness, it was no wonder her dream and her vision had once again risen to the surface.

The blonde CSI was beginning to regret her busy work-life. Splitting up with Eddie was one symptom that would probably have happened anyway but if it was beginning to affect her daughter, then that was one headache she could do with out.

Waiting for her colleagues to descend on the break room she once again wondered just what it was about those ebony eyes that had caught her soul and refused to let go all those years ago.

At times like this, she wished she could meet up with the young brunette and maybe help to take the hurt away, maybe even help to take her own hurt away.

Her quiet reverie was broken suddenly by the arrival of Warrick.

"Catherine, I just got off the phone with the traffic guys. They've impounded Moore's car. Should be here any minute."

Glad of something to take her mind off her thoughts she questioned her colleague.

"Is it me or did he give it up too easy?"

Looking down at her daughter's cake Catherine nearly missed Warrick's quiet, "Old guy was scared." With a sharp glance towards the taller man she was about to reply when she was stopped by an excited Grissom holding out a box towards her.

"You have to see the birthday present I got for your daughter."

Out of the corner of her eye Catherine noted that Sara had followed Gil into the room and her senses bristled. Tamping down the feeling as best she could, her efforts were hampered by the younger CSI's cheerful rejoinder.

"What's the rule? How long do I have to be here before I start kicking in for gifts?"

Unsure why Sara riled her so much Catherine was unable to hold her tongue.

"When the spirit moves you, Sara. So, in your case, I guess, never."

Sensing the shock in the room at her vindictiveness and hearing a disgruntled sigh from Sara, Catherine turned slowly to pierce Sara with her patented scowl. Grissom's attempt to deflate the situation by showing Catherine his present for Lindsey was completely missed by the seething blonde as she was quite literally stopped in her tracks.

Looking back at Catherine was the owner of those ebony eyes.


"I wanna tell you now
Something gotta hold of my hand
Dragging my soul to a beautiful land
Yeah something has invaded my night
Painting my sleep with a colour so bright
Changing the grey, changing the blue
Scarlet for me, scarlet for you"

Pulling the tangled wet sheets from around her weary, sore body, Sara Sidle allowed the memory of her nightmare to slowly wane. Soaked to the bone, sweat dripping between her shoulder blades, she crawled out of bed.

Since coming back to Las Vegas six months previously her nightmares had lessened in intensity slightly, not in quantity but certainly in effectiveness.

Swinging her legs out of bed Sara allowed herself to admit it was the very real presence of her guardian angel that was having the calming effect. The dancer, Katerine, with eyes that had bewitched her so many years before had morphed into her arch nemesis, Catherine Willows, and yet, despite the antagonism that lived between them, Catherine's eyes still managed to soothe her worried soul, just like they had all though her college years and into her early professional life.

The brunette walked blindly towards her bathroom, reached into the shower stall to let the water warm, and glanced in her mirror. She growled at the sight that met her eyes; pale, wan skin, sunken heavy eyes, and dull, drab hair; she was a mess.

As she dropped wearily onto the toilet seat she allowed her mind to once again relive the dream that continued to haunt her sleep.

The smell of iron assaults nostrils already haunted by the smell of human excreta and, if she turns her head in the wrong direction, Sara can see crimson red blood patterns blending in with those dreadful 70's style flowers. Jeez, Sara hates that wallpaper.

Screams rent the eerie silence that falls over the assembled members of the Sidle clan and she can see the knife in slow motion as it hovers over her father's scared face. Even in her dream it troubles her that she feels an immense joy at seeing her father scared.

Then the fear hits. Hearing a whimper from the corner Sara turns, to see herself, smaller, vulnerable, cowering in the corner, protecting her scarred, weak body from the avenging monstrosity that is her mother.

The scene jerks awkwardly with the appearance of a young, too young, beautiful cherubic looking cop. Sara winces as he vomits the hamburger, swallowed in a hurry at the recently opened McDonald's of Tamales Bay, all over her mother's pride and joy, her afghan rug.

Then silence once more; a calm before the storm. Looking up into soothing green eyes Sara can feel the warmth of the hand that guides her away from the scene of destruction she cannot tear her eyes from. Alison, that was her name; the social worker who saved her. Alison, who took her to a family that loved her unconditionally for too short a time.

Suddenly, the watching Sara is dragged back into the abyss, staring into the anger that is her father's face as he beats the living day-lights out of her young body. The pain, as his belt rains down on already shredded buttocks, never goes, it just throbs and beats in increasing rhythms. The pain builds and builds, rising into a crescendo of agony. High, high, higher…

… then, the beat changes, the rhythm changes, the melody begins to haunt and she can hear the soft chant of 'Katerine, Katerine' somewhere off in the distance. Afraid to lift her head, Sara cowers away from the fear, only to feel an invisible thread drawing her chin upwards, opening her eyes to the bright light.

And there she is: an enchanting guardian angel, her savior, a woman with haunting, ice blue eyes: eyes that hold the answer to her problems, eyes so full of life that the dying Sara can't afford to not live. So, she does, Sara Sidle, broken and scarred, lifts up her hand and is guided upwards into life.

Now, standing under the flowing shower, she let the hot water pound down on her face and chest, she could almost feel the gentle cleansing of her soul. She glanced at the bathroom clock to see it had been all of five hours since she'd fallen into a troubled doze.

It was obvious she was still dead-beat and in need of more sleep; so why the hell was she dragging herself into work for more punishment? Shrugging her shoulders resignedly Sara knew the answer, Catherine Willows, that was the reason why.

Hearing the shrill tone of her phone deep in her dream Sara had dragged herself out of the nightmare that was engulfing her to hear the sweet voice of her colleague.

"Hey, Sara! You sleeping?"

Still half entrenched in her depths Sara had been unable to stop her angry retort, "What the fuck do you think?"

Considering the atmosphere that had unfortunately built up between the two of them since Sara's introduction to the night shift, the younger CSI was surprised to hear a smile in Catherine's murmured, "Oh!"

The still sluggish woman had been even more surprised when Catherine had asked her to hold up a moment while she went somewhere private. After a few moments her almost seductive voice had whispered, "Sara, we need to talk and Grissom needs you on a case, can you come in? Now?"

Not missing the first part of the rushed sentence but refusing to acknowledge it for now Sara had agreed to meet Grissom at the crime scene.

As the water began to cool, she shivered uncontrollably, quickly reaching to turn off the water. Climbing out of the stall, Sara chuckled wryly; it was absolutely amazing how the thought of twinkling blue eyes, so full of life, could still drag her out of the depths of her worst nightmares.

Sara didn't however meet up with Grissom, finally reaching the crime scene she was immediately dispatched back to CSI headquarters with Nick and assigned the tedious job of analyzing and sifting through all the forensic evidence.

Catherine and Grissom had the more interesting job of visiting Portia Richmond's mansion to collect more information and search out more clues.

Back at the lab Sara continued to struggle with her tiredness, bitching to Nick and Greg about being pulled out of her bed. She knew it was all an act; there was no way staying in the depths of her nightmare even if it usually finished with those eyes, was better than sifting through the puzzle of a difficult case.

In all her years as a CSI, Sara had never tired of the thrill of finding that little something that brought everything together. Like now, finding out that the real Patrick Haynes was officially a dead child and that this Patrick Haynes was actually Chad Matthews wanted in respect of a 10 year-old murder case.

Going through the case-files with Catherine and Nick, Sara couldn't help but let her mind wander to the enigma that was Catherine Willows. Occasionally stealing a glance at the older woman she couldn't deny that Catherine had lost none of the grace and beauty she had when Sara had first laid eyes on the dancing Katerine. Now though the blonde's features held a subtle hard edge, as if life had offered more hurt than necessary.

Sara pondered the life Catherine must have lead the past years; she knew Catherine was going through an acrimonious split with her husband, Eddie, but had also met the gorgeous off-spring of that union, Lindsey.

Smiling to herself despite the brevity of this case, Sara remembered how she had teased Cath and Gil about her abilities to care for a child during the ironical horrific mass murder of a family of child abusers. Yet, a few weeks later, Catherine had actually asked Sara if she'd mind watching over her precious daughter while she had a court appearance. To say shock was Sara's reaction was an understatement.

This dichotomy of actions between the two women confused Sara immensely; one minute angry antagonism, the next friendly togetherness.

There was no denying her and Catherine worked well together. The few times they had shared a case it was as if their thoughts and deeds were shared and understood by both parties without a need to voice the obvious. It was as if an invisible thread held the two together.

"Well, according to her credit card statements Portia Richmond hasn't spent a dime since she's been in the Mediterranean."

Lost in thought Sara was shocked by Catherine's voice, thinking she'd missed something earlier she could only mutter a stunned, "She's dead."

Brought back to the present Sara was happy to join in with some light-hearted banter with Nick before being taught how to forge a signature using a pin and a pen.

Still a little ruffled by her disturbed night, the time spent with Catherine and Nick warmed Sara's soul greatly and she was pleased further when Catherine looked directly into her eyes suggesting a team dinner to replenish their energy levels and discuss the case.

If she didn't know better Sara might have thought this was going to be the time the two women finally got around to having the talk Catherine had alluded to in their earlier telephone call.

Later, at the restaurant, Sara thought this case was fast becoming her favorite since arriving in Vegas. It was the first time she'd felt an integral part of the graveyard shift and the feeling was in the most part due to Catherine's continued friendliness towards her.

Over a glorious dinner Sara came to quite a few realizations: why the graveyard shift considered Detective Jim Brass a part of the team and not just a seconded detective, that the relationship between Catherine and Nick was something akin to a sibling rivalry, and that she had an important part to play in the team dynamics.

As the team threw questions and theories at each other Sara listened to Catherine's quiet resume of why the chief suspect had stuck around after the charity event and even been willing to offer up his DNA despite being wanted for a previous murder.

"The Haynes' controlled Portia Richmond's bank account including the Burn Center Account but they had to stick around for the checks to clear."

If that was the case then… Sara looked up, bright eyed and questioning.

"So, why kill Lacey Duvall?"

With her fork poised half way between her plate and her mouth, Catherine chewed her food contemplatively and locked eyes with Sara to say, "Excellent question."

Reading the twinkle that glistened in Catherine's vivid blue eyes, Sara finally realized why Catherine had always had the ability to get under her skin. Catherine Willows was the epitome of what Sara wanted to be in life. Catherine was a successful woman in her own right, with no need to rely on the male of the species; a woman who could hold her own with all the strong characters surrounding her, and yet, a woman who wasn't afraid to live; a woman who wasn't afraid to get it wrong.

Catherine Willows was the woman Sara Sidle could never be.

Yet, as she continued to read the unspoken thoughts in those expressive blue eyes, she was beginning to realize that this wasn't a fact that needed to bother her. She could finally see that her role in life was to be the perfect compliment to that sort of woman. Sara could be as strong in her own way and yet, as different as it was possible to be.

Maintaining the intense but gentle eye-contact with her colleague throughout the remainder of the meal Sara wasn't surprised when Catherine followed her to the rest-room.

As soon as they were in the privacy of the rest-room Catherine grabbed a hold of Sara's elbow, turning the brunette towards her, "We really do need to talk, Sidle, but you look like shit, you need to rest."

Chuckling at Sara's fleeting look of anger, Catherine continued gently, "Go home, hon, the case is coming together nicely, I'll tell Gil you've gone. Then, maybe later, say 7.00, we can meet for coffee."

Her anger gone in an instant, Sara enjoyed the feeling of easy camaraderie that had started during the meal and joked, "Yeah, later sounds good, if I don't get some annoying CSI calling to invite me into work again before I've even closed my eyes."

Catherine laughed, "Hmm, sorry about that, next time I'll make it worth your while, huh?"

Before Sara could react to the subtle innuendo Catherine turned on her heels and left Sara standing, only to turn one last time to lock eyes with Sara. The blonde smiled and said, "7.00, Betty's Diner." It was a statement not a question.

Ensnared once more by those damn blue eyes Sara knew she would answer the call.


I've got to know if this is the real thing
I've got to know what's making my heart sing, oh yeah
A smile and I am lost for a lifetime
Each minute spent with you is the right time
Every hour (yeah) every day (yeah)
You touch me and my mind goes astray
And baby yeah, and baby yeah

Slowly walking the lengths of CSI corridors Catherine Willows remembered the last real conversation she had had with her colleague, Sara Sidle. She'd known they needed to talk. Being at loggerheads with each other was not conducive to talking and a drink at Betty's Diner had seemed an ideal way to start.

Had seemed like the ideal time to finally address their history. The history that Catherine wasn't even sure they had: 30 seconds of eye-contact over a crowded strip joint didn't really amount to much history. She couldn't even be certain that Sara too remembered the connection but there was an occasional glimpse of something in the dark, ebony eyes that told Catherine that Sara did indeed recollect something.

Sometimes the blonde CSI could see the same hurt she had recognized in the too young woman all those years before, and sometimes, she thought it was followed by a glimmer of hope as the ebony eyes connected with blue. Yet always, that flicker was quickly hidden by Sara turning her eyes towards the floor before looking back up with the shutters down.

Even now, Catherine felt the same pull of something that had ensnared her sub-conscious in that single instant and she knew, though she couldn't understand why, that somehow she held the key.

And so they talked.

And how.

Sitting across from the young brunette Catherine listened intently to the story that Sara started to tell in a cold monotone voice.

"It's funny ... the things that you remember and the things that you don't, you know. The fights, the yelling, the trips to the hospital. Just thought it was the way that everybody lived. When my mother killed my father, I found out it wasn't."

Catherine couldn't hide the flinch as a shiver traveled the length of her spine as Sara continued in her clinical CSI voice.

"There was a smell of iron in the air. Cast-off on the bedroom wall. A young cop puking his guts. Death surrounding me, 11 years of age, without a father and more than likely without a mother."

Catherine watched mesmerized as Sara's eyes changed from the deep, deep hurt that had haunted the older women's psyche many a time in the last 11 years to a warm, vibrant chocolate color.

"I remember the woman who took me to foster care. I can't remember her name. Which's strange, you know, 'cause I couldn't let go of her hand? And for a little while I had a better life, Catherine, I lived with people that tried to love me, but…"

As Sara's voice trailed off, Catherine's breath caught in her throat as the eyes staring deep into her own once more became haunted.

"… I remember the looks. I became the girl whose father was stabbed to death. And it hurt, more than I could ever describe. So, when I won that scholarship to Harvard that was my way out. My way to escape the death that surrounded me. Only it never leaves you, Catherine, it's always there."

The blonde CSI reached across the table without a thought and grasped hold of Sara's trembling hands. Trying to offer some sort of comfort she couldn't find any words to help so she used the only way she knew how, touch.

Sara smiled into Catherine's eyes and the blonde's heart skipped a beat, there was that connection once again. She started to ask Sara if she'd been to Vegas before but her words were cut short by Sara's surprise answer.

"Yeah Cath, you remember, you can feel it too, I know you can. Eleven years ago, your last night as a dancer, I was there and you looked at me."

Catherine was stunned. Sara did remember and Sara felt it as a connection too. Suddenly lost in her own thoughts, Catherine nearly missed the impassioned words that followed.

"I was just about to start at University, going through a bad patch. My friends decided I needed a distraction and arranged for the weekend in Las Vegas with lap dancers and clubs galore. Me, I hated it, until that night."

"Standing, minding my own business, when the most beautiful, most graceful woman I had ever seen in my life entered the stage. Katerine. And then, after blowing my mind with her dance, she caught my eyes and held steady for probably only 30 seconds, but I was hooked.

Captivated by haunting, ice blue eyes: eyes that held the answer to my problems, eyes so full of life that I couldn't afford not to live."

Catherine looked into Sara's eyes. They were dazed as Sara obviously re-lived the night. The older CSI could only wonder if Sara really did recognize Catherine as that very dancer. Sara's next few words stopped her wondering before barely getting going as Sara easily proved recognition.

"When I saw you I just knew, knew you were the woman to bring me back to life and you did, Katerine, every time. Whenever things were bad, you were there, clear blue eyes, full of life, willing me to live and so I did, I lived."

As if finally realizing just what she had revealed to the woman opposite her, Sara dropped her eyes to the table top, shy and embarrassed, for once afraid to look into Catherine's eyes. Then quietly, almost reverently, she whispered the words she had come all the way to Las Vegas to say.

"Thank you for helping me live."

Reaching her destination Catherine acknowledged that Sara's slip into the present tense had literally thrown her for a loop. The thought that a woman as intelligent and as competent as Sara Sidle could hold her in such reverence scared the hell out of the usually confident older woman and she had done something she never did: ran.

Wanting so much to develop a friendship with the brunette but scared of what that might entail she had hidden behind the starting of a liaison with the architect, Paul Newsome. Even when she had come across Sara in the locker room sobbing desperately because Pamela Adler had been too damn stubborn to die and was now looking at a lifetime of being in a vegative state, she had held back.

Seeing Sara with big tears of hurt and despair Catherine had wanted so much to offer the physical comfort that Sara so badly needed, but all she'd managed was the thing she had apparently always been able to offer, a look. A look so intense that the blonde had been thankful to see a ghost of a smile on the young CSI's lips as Catherine turned and left the locker room.

Looking through the work slips on Gil's desk Catherine suddenly came to a decision. She reached for the phone and dialed a number that was etched on her brain.

Leaving Gils office with a new determination Catherine collided solidly with the man himself.


Wanting to get on with her job Catherine was a little abrasive with her friend. Being Gil Grissom he immediately picked up on the undercurrent of tension but, also being Gil Grissom, he had no idea of the cause.

" What are you doing?"

"The carnival case. I'm taking it." It was a statement not a question, a technique the confident woman often used to get her own way.

"The carnival case?"

"A six-year-old girl died on a ride at the carnival over on Washington. The paperwork's on your desk."

At last Grissom had an inkling of why the tension was radiating off Catherine in waves, he glanced to his office and tried to settle her nerves with an attempt at a joke.

"Did you straighten up my office while you were in there?"

The joke fell flat as Catherine immediately retorted, "You think I overstepped? These people come to town, they commit crimes and they leave. I just want to get there before the carnival moves on."

Knowing not to push his long-time friend further Grissom acquiesced without a murmur. As Catherine turned to leave something hit Gil in the face, figuratively; a feeling that for some reason Catherine and Sara needed to talk. In his one-track mind, the only way CSI's could 'talk' was over a case, and so he offered, "Take Sara with you."

At any other time Catherine would have smiled at Gil's open mouthed stare as she replied, "She's meeting me there."

Meeting Sara at the carnival they had walked quietly towards the body of the young girl. Despite every intention of using this case to prove to Sara that she was good at her job Catherine immediately allowed her emotions to take over.

The sight of the frail child was all it took to stir Catherine's inner demons and she snapped at the attending coroner's aide about needing a clean, new, body-bag. At that moment in time all the blonde CSI knew was how to be a mother and any mother would only aspire to have the best for one's flesh and blood.

All rational thought escaping her for a few heady moments Catherine was warmed by the genuine look of concern that flitted across her colleagues face as she quietly whispered, "You okay?"

Turning around the blonde looked into the warm depths of chocolate brown and regained her equilibrium. Offering an almost imperceptible nod she ordered brusquely, "Why don't you go find the mother and talk to her. I'll take the crime scene."

Acknowledging the dismissal for what it was, Sara smiled gently and left.

After collecting their evidence and Catherine having an interesting conversation with one of the fairground Carney's the two women found themselves back at headquarters interviewing the cocaine addicted Thomas Picken's.

Once again unable to hold in her ire at the unwarranted death of a small child and needing a suspect to vent that ire on, Catherine had exploded in the interview room.

Afterwards Sara tried hard to get through to her colleague. It was obvious to the younger woman that Catherine was struggling to remain impartial in the case and Sara was hurting for her. Reaching out for Catherine's elbow to stay her almost manic rush, the two women jumped at the electrical charge that ran through their touching skin.

Catherine stared at the hand resting on her forearm and then up into the uncertain eyes of Sara.

"Look, don't bite my head off, but is there any chance you're going after this guy because you're a mother?"

Catherine grimaced, she was too angry with the case to accept the words for what they were, Sara's attempt at offering comfort. Her ire fuelled, Catherine ranted.

"Pickens is a drug addict and sex offender operating a two-ton kid magnet. Did you take a look around that carnival? Did you notice anything about those other rides? Ferris wheel- single cars in the open. Zipper-single cars in the open. Himalaya-group cars in the open. How come Pickens was hanging around the only ride that takes kids into the dark?

Oblivious to Sara's attempts to join in the conversation Catherine allowed the anger to guide her thought processes. She didn't however miss the twinkle in Sara's eyes that at any other time she would have thought was something akin to hero worship and filed it away to consider when the case wasn't pressing.

Finally, a concept surfaced, "What if he pulled that little girl out of the car?"

Catherine watched the cogs turning in Sara's brain and knew what the younger woman's answer would be: evidence?

"You have anything to support that?"

Triumphant that she not only had something to work on but that she had also read Sara's mind, Catherine turned on her heels and left. She didn't turn back, content on her direction, but did falter slightly as she heard the young CSI mumble bitterly.

"We aren't going to lunch, are we?"

Catherine allowed herself a second to leave the case behind to imagine that prospect and smiled to herself with the thought, 'One day, Sara, one day.'

Later, as she woke beside the architect, Paul Newsome, the same thought sadly crossed her mind. Her head pounding with the aftermath of too much drink in too short a space of time the blonde CSI groaned, once again she had taken the easy way out and run from Sara.

After working closely together for the first time since Sara's arrival in Vegas the two women had fed off their uncontrollable ability to antagonize each other to solve the case in record time.

Allowing Sara to be the calm to her storm, Catherine had realized and, with the perfect help of her colleague, had proved that Carla Santini, the mother, had killed her own daughter. Carla had found a new man and callously wanted her daughter out of the way to allow her the freedom to share an unhindered lifestyle.

When Catherine had worked out the probable scenario Sara had been the perfect foil to Catherine's righteous anger, supporting her pursuit of Carla with surprising understanding and tact and stepping back at the end to allow Catherine the false triumph of putting the final nail in Carla's coffin.

Then, as Catherine felt the need to flee the scene, Sara had tried to offer Catherine the olive branch of a new attempt towards the relationship that, deep down, Catherine craved.

Catherine remembered the soft concern in Sara's voice, "... you all right?" and then the shy, almost apologetic attempt at getting Catherine to join her, "Since we skipped lunch, you want to get something to eat? Walk it off?"

Once again Catherine groaned as her reply filtered through her memory, "I've got to go home. Thanks. Rain check?"

Home indeed? What the hell was she thinking? Glancing once again to her companion Catherine knew she had made another mistake. Sara Sidle continued to cry out to her soul and Catherine had ignored her. She wasn't going to chicken out again.

As this thought planted itself solidly in Catherine's future, her last view of Sara earlier that day played out behind her closed eyelids.

Seeing the hurt in ebony eyes Catherine knew she would collect on that rain check.


"Something gotta hold of my hand
Dragging my soul to a beautiful land
Yeah something has invaded my night
Painting my sleep with a colour so bright
Changing the grey, changing the blue
Scarlet for me, scarlet for you"

Catherine was busy searching for any kind of clue to the person that had so viciously ended the young victim's life when she saw a glimpse of Sara walking through the crime scene. Smiling to herself her thoughts once again drifted back to the very first time she had glimpsed Sara Sidle.

Katerine waltzed off stage on such an artificial high she always took more than minutes to come down. Tonight was no exception, especially as the vision of dark ebony eyes shining with intelligence, vitality, passion, and something so much darker was imprinted on her retinas.

Carefully removing her heavy make-up she took slow steady breaths until her heart-rate settled to normal. She stared into her own vivid blue eyes, sparkling with life, and was once again assaulted by the hurt hidden behind the young woman's glowing gaze; eyes begging for some kind of help.

Catherine felt a fluttering in her chest; she needed to help the girl. Standing quickly to go front-stage, hoping to catch the brunette before she left, she was stopped in her tracks by the voice of Jimmy Tadero.

"Hey Cat, I've got Gil here, he wants to talk about that job to tide you through college."

An hour later, her future more settled, she was disappointed to find the young woman had already left.

Hearing footsteps above her head, Catherine sighed and brought herself back to the present as she thought back to the fruitless search for three young women in Vegas; even with access to Sam Braun's connections it had been like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Eventually, she'd resigned herself to never see those eyes again other than in her own moments of despair; until Sara Sidle walked into CSI headquarters nearly one year ago.

She smiled; since their recent joint handling of the fairground case Catherine had kept her promise to herself and had finally enjoyed a couple of friendlier get-togethers. She was pleasantly surprised at how easy their conflicting personalities actually seemed to balance each other out.

Suddenly, a small commotion caused her to glance upwards to see Sara rushing out of the victim's bedroom.

Her pained voice echoed down the stairway. "Damn that guy."

Catherine watched as Gil grabbed hold of Sara's arm.

"Listen, no emotions in here."

Catherine grimaced. Knowing full well that Sara always reacted badly to any sort of abuse against young woman, Gil's comment would not go down well. She and Sara may not share the same method of working and may still clash more often than not while working but one thing Sara did not do was to let her emotions affect her judgment.

"He's escalating, Grissom."

Catherine could hear the anguish in Sara's voice and knew this was going to be one of those cases; maybe Catherine could finally prove that she could be there for Sara like she had wanted to be all those years before.

Sara, Warrick and Grissom were working the crime scene, the young victim already transported to autopsy. The brunette was getting more and more frustrated with the complete lack of forensic evidence.

"I've tape-lifted, roll-lifted… I'm not finding one hair."

"I wonder what that might mean," was Grissom's usual cryptic response.

Sara and Warrick caught each other's eyes, both pondering his question. It was Sara that came up with something first.

"He vacuumed this place before he left. We've established that he utilizes materials from the victim's domicile."

She looked at the victim's vacuum cleaner, only to find it was emptied.

"Well, look for prints," advised Grissom.

At that moment Catherine entered the room and immediately locked eyes with Sara hoping to convey her support.

"Don't bother. There aren't any. Just like the last time. The guy's Mr. Clean. Here, knock yourself out." The older CSI handed the laser detector over, allowing her fingers to brush gently against Sara's.

Sara immediately felt the warmth and smiled her thanks, before sharing one last look as Catherine left to meet Brass with orders from Grissom to ask him to chase up details on past sex-offenders in the area.

Sara set to work on the vacuum. As it became apparent there were no fingerprints to find, she allowed her mind to wander back eleven years

Katerine exited the stage and Sara stood motionless; stunned. The vision of blue eyes staring directly into her brown pair refused to leave. After a few minutes she heard her two friends trying to speak to her. Reluctantly, Sara followed her peers out of the strip-joint, unable to convince them that a visit backstage might be interesting.

The following night, she returned alone and had been disappointed to find no signs of Katerine on the bill of dancers. Two further nights went by before she plucked up courage to ask whether Katerine would be appearing again. The bouncer informed her, with obvious regret, that Katerine had performed her last dance the night she and her friends had been in the audience.

She smiled; knowing that that was the reason the performance had felt so special. The bouncer went on to tell the young brunette that Katerine had gone back to college and gone over to the dark-side, his description for the police department that occasionally raided his establishment. Sara grinned but was nevertheless surprised to hear the pole-dancer was studying forensics and was going to be working in the police department associated with crime scene investigation.

After leaving Las Vegas the young Sara immediately changed a couple of her chosen college subjects making a conscious decision to follow the same path. She also made a promise that one day she would return to the city of Las Vegas.

And she had, nearly one year ago, surprised to find that her colleague Catherine Willows was the dancer that had so enraptured her back then. Smiling inwardly, she acknowledged that finally they were beginning to nurture a friendship; a friendship Sara craved, and had craved since that first vision.

Suddenly, Sara was pulled from her musings by Warrick's excited cry, "Nobody move."

He held up a hair and immediately offered to run it back to the lab.

Sara sighed; it was moments like this that made her job almost worthwhile. A hair could be the beginning of the final stretch in catching this bastard. She smiled inwardly; the need to gain justice for the victims had always been one of the main reasons for her entering the profession of CSI, that and the knowledge that her own personal angel had gone into the same field.

She sighed again; an idea formulating in her mind, if only she could get Grissom to agree. Sara decided that she too needed a word with Brass; he would know how she could put her plan into action.

As it happened Sara didn't need to talk to Brass. On returning to headquarters she heard that the FBI had been drafted in to the investigation and approached the lead officer with her suggestion.

Special Agent Culpepper jumped at the chance of having a 'qualified' woman that fit the victim profile enough to act as bait to the serial killer now known as The Strip Strangler.

Unfortunately, Gil Grissom did not agree with the plan. It hurt Sara to not have the support of her mentor and friend but this was something she had to do, for herself and for the victim.

After hearing Gil's ridicule of the plan, Sara exited his office. Catherine, who had heard on the grapevine of Agent Culpepper's plan, immediately grabbed a hold of her hand and pulled her into the corner.

"Sara, I'm not here to talk you out of this, though I wish you weren't even considering it…"

Sara looked at Catherine with disbelief.

"… but I do want to know that you're doing this for the right reasons, not some gung-ho power trip"

Sara chuckled wryly, shrugging her shoulders.

"Catherine, you know why I have to do this; I just do, ok?"

Catherine held onto Sara's shoulders and looked into her eyes, seeing nothing but strength and resolve. She sighed.

"Ok, just don't do anything stupid out there, ok?"

"I won't, Cath."

"Good, I've only just found you; I'm not going to lose you again."

The only word that Sara's addled brain could focus on was 'again'. Catherine didn't want to lose her again; when had she lost her the first time? The voice of Culpepper calling her brought her mind back to the present; that question was going to have to be tabled until later.

Sara looked into Catherine's eyes, drawing the strength she always did, "I promise."

"Ok. Go on then. See you later." Catherine gave an encouraging smile and pushed the brunette towards Culpepper.

Much later the whole of Graveyard shift were sitting in easy familiarity around a table of the local Diner. Sara grinned at her colleagues as they listened to Sheriff Mobley and Special Agent Culpepper claim the credit for the eventual solving of the Strip Strangler case.

It had been a hard shift, especially with the 'resting' of Grissom by the sheriff. The moment Catherine had refused to accept Gil's handing over of the case leadership to her at been a defining moment in Sara's day. Since coming to Vegas she had seen a side to Catherine that she hadn't wanted to see; the ruthless, hard, sexual side that Catherine cultivated easily to get her own way. The young CSI wanted to see Catherine as her heroine, her savior, not as this woman who had seen the world and played it to the hilt. Now, she could see, behind Catherine's hard façade was the woman she had fallen under the spell of years before, a woman she could be the perfect compliment for.

She looked around the table, at Nick and Warrick, sharing easy banter, and at Catherine and Gil sharing the loving smiles of two close friends. At last, Sara believed she was a part of this amazing family.

In the background she heard their order number called and joked, "Do we have a breakfast budget, Grissom?"

His easy reply, "I believe Catherine was going to requisition one," was met with chuckles around the table.

Sara caught Catherine's eyes as she stood to fetch their order, "Good, cause our plates are up, and nobody has any money."

The smile she received from Catherine made Sara smile in return. Walking towards the service counter she was pleased to hear Nick and Warrick follow and turned to joke quietly with them.

Catherine smiled gently towards her best friend, Gil Grissom; the man that had stood by her through the hardship of fighting through college, through her pregnancy and return to work, through her battles and subsequent divorce from Eddie, in fact through all that life threw at her. Gil had been her rock for over ten years now. So, when faced with the sight of Sid Goggle, the Strangler suspect, ready to rain heavy blows down on his head, Catherine had not needed to think twice, she had shot. She had shot well and true, killing Goggle stone dead.

Catherine was grateful that the younger half of her team had left the table; she was certain they could feel Gil's need to talk to his senior colleague. Sure enough, as soon as the coast was clear, Gil addressed Catherine.

"I never should have put you in that position, Catherine. I'm sorry."

Catherine sighed inwardly, knowing that Gil would feel like this. In truth it had been one of the easiest things she had done in a while, her only thought to save Gil's life. She tried to reassure her friend, "What position? Never doubt and never look back. That's how I live my life."

Across the table Gil's eyes showed the truth of his next words, "I admire that."

As the others returned to the table Gil and Catherine shared a last look of friendship. Gil Grissom was a man of few sentimental words, so his quiet utterance gave Catherine more comfort than any gushing words of thanks. She looked on, oblivious to the world around for a moment, until she caught Sara's words in the distance.

"Whole wheat and fruit? Who ordered that?"

The redhead considered the similarities between her friend and his protégé. She already had Gil's friendship; all she needed now was the same intensity from Sara. Catherine was convinced it was achievable; only something that was meant to be could survive eleven years of separation. Eleven years ago she had felt a connection to the young Sara Sidle; eleven years later, every time she looked in to those ebony eyes, the connection remained.

Lost in her thoughts she was still able to comprehend what was happening around her as she rolled her eyes at Gil's healthy eating option. Once again engaging with the three younger CSI's to her left, she chuckled as Nick muttered some ridiculous comment that made the group laugh freely.

This was her life and, as she'd just said to Gil, it was a life that held no regret. Sara was a part of that life, a part that needed to hold a larger position, a part of her life that needed addressing.

Once more she glanced over to the brunette, trying to convey some of her thoughts directly to the young woman. She was gratified when a light blush traveled up Sara's neck at her gaze and a shy smile was offered in return. Later, she vowed, they would find time to talk.

An hour later Warrick and Nick rose to leave offering their goodbyes to the three remaining team members.

Gil smiled at the two women before offering Sara a lift back to her car. Catherine looked up with a start at Sara's reply.

"Um, no thanks, Grissom, Catherine's taking me home today."

Seeing the look of surprise that flittered across Gil's face Catherine nodded at the truth of the statement and stood to leave.

Sara rose at the same time and waited for Catherine to climb out from the booth before saying her farewell to Grissom. Catherine echoed the sentiment and followed Sara out, resting her hand in the small of the younger woman's back as they walked side-by-side.

Gil just watched, then smiled.

Setting the coffee pot to brew, Sara turned to address Catherine. "So, Cat, I thought we needed to talk. We say that a lot, don't we? Maybe it's time to stop talking, maybe it's time to address this thing," she motioned between the two of them, "head-on."

Catherine laughed. "Yeah, this thing, huh? This… um, what is it, Sara? What is it that draws me to you?"

Sara smiled shyly, hearing Catherine admit there was this connection between the two of them was important to the younger woman.

"I'm serious, Sara, what is it, this connection? It scares the hell out of me, I can tell you."

"Don't ask me what it is? I was 18 when I first laid eyes on you, 18 years old and as naïve as hell, but something clicked, something that's still there even now. You push my buttons, Catherine, all of them."

"Yeah, and I was 25 and a stripper, already attached to Eddie, and about to change my life for the better, what was I supposed to think?"

Catherine looked up and smiled softly at Sara. She whispered, "I looked all over Vegas for you, you know."

Sara stammered, convinced she'd heard wrong, "Huh, what?"

"I searched for you, even got Sam Braun to use his contacts. Do you know how many young women were vacationing in Las Vegas that summer?"

Sara couldn't hold back the laughter. "No, no, I don't know how many, quite a few I should think. But I bet none of the others were ensnared by Katerine of the gorgeous blue eyes. Hell, Cath, all you had to do was return to the strip-joint, it cost me a bloody fortune sitting waiting for you to dance again. Money I could ill afford."

This time it was Catherine's laughter that echoed around the room.

"Oh, I'm sure it was worth your while, hon."

Sara smiled at the innuendo. "No, Catherine, not a one came close to making me feel what you made me feel."

Handing Catherine her mug of coffee Sara directed the redhead towards her living area. Once sitting at opposite ends of the couch Sara continued.

"I don't know what this connection is. I do know it's something I want to explore. I think we can be good for each other. Friends, or something more, I don't really know, but I think we need to try."

Catherine sipped her coffee, surprised that Sara had been bold enough to say her piece, she needed to formulate her reply.

"I agree with everything you've said, Sara, I really do but…"

Sara sighed, disappointed that Catherine appeared unwilling to follow her heart.

Seeing the look of disappointment cross Sara's face, Catherine sighed in return. "Hey! I said I agree with you, I want to give this a try but… I think you really need to consider the facts. I'm eight years older than you, a mother of a young child, an ex-stripper, a coke addict, and a murderer."

Catherine couldn't believe she had said the last thing, Gil needed saving and that was all that mattered, looking to see Sara's response, she tabled that analysis for another time.

"Catherine, I've been a little in love with you since that very first time I laid eyes on you, and if I remember rightly you were already a stripper and more than likely an addict even then, so I'm sure I'm not going to let a simple thing like you shooting a guy in order to protect your best friend put me off, I promise you."

Catherine smiled and gave a prayer of thanks before realizing just what Sara had admitted to. Instantly, another realization hit her, the explanation for the connection. Quietly, she agreed. "Yeah, I think, maybe, some small part of me as loved you for the same amount of time…"

Catherine smiled at Sara's look of surprise. "… oh, don't get me wrong, not the heart-stopping, happy-ever-after type of love, not yet… " once again a look of shock flittered across Sara's face, "… how could it be when to all intents you were only ever a figment of my imagination."

"But now?" queried Sara.

"Now, I want to see where this can go. But, whatever happens, I promise I'll always be here for you."

Sara reached for Catherine's hand and nodded in acknowledgment. "Thank you, Cat. I know we're always going to have spats, whatever happens you're always gonna drive me crazy but yeah, angry or not, I'll always be here for you too."

Catherine smiled. "Each other's guardian angel, huh?"

"Yeah." Sara's utterance was so soft Catherine barely heard it. She reached across the couch and gently caressed the brunette's cheek in silent acknowledgment of all they had shared and would go on to share.

"So Sara, the next time we go for breakfast after shift, how about it being just you and me? You know, like a date."

"That sounds good, very good in fact, but, um, maybe, before that, I could take you to dinner?"

The grin that split Catherine's face was answer enough.

The End

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