DISCLAIMER: They're not mine, I promise to put them back where I found them. No money made, no infringement intended.
NOTE: In my little world that team split thing never happened. Special credits go to Sasha, for allowing me to play with her idea and incorporate it into this story. A big thank you to my beta Krys for all her help. Quoted lyrics in chapter 28 written by William Blake, the ones in chapter 33 written by Hermann Hesse.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Strong Enough
By Karen


Chapter 5

Not entirely sure how wise it had been on her part to bring Lindsey to the lab, Catherine tried convincing herself that she had really had no choice. Her mom was out of town for the whole week and Nancy came down with a cold. Coming home from pulling a double way too late to be able to get a decent amount of rest, she spent the whole morning bickering with Lindsey. Then she actually managed to burn their lunch while trying to get her daughter to clean up her room, only to realize it was Saturday and she had no one to call to look after Lindsey. There was no way Grissom would let her off the hook this time. They were swamped with unsolved cases, with Ecklie breathing down their necks, so she came up with the only available solution and dragged her pouting child along.

Now she was secretly glancing at Lindsey who seemed preoccupied with staring out the window, while rummaging through her filing cabinet. Grissom already paged her twice, Brass was waiting for them at that scene from yesterday and she just couldn't find the damned report.

"Is Sara here?" Asked Lindsey, suddenly forgetting all about pouting. She turned away from the window, looking at her mother who seemed oblivious to her questioning gaze.

Too wrapped up in shuffling through a huge pile of papers, Catherine almost jumped in surprise when Lindsey called her more loudly this time, "Mom!"

"Huh? What is it, Lindsey?" Turning back from the cabinet to look at Lindsey, her pager went off one more time, making an annoying shrilling sound. Sighing, expecting it to be Grissom again, she was surprised to see the unexpected caller ID. Why would Sara be paging her now? She agreed to stay in the lab and process the evidence along with that abandoned truck Nick found, while Catherine was supposed to check the scene one more time with Grissom. Catching her unprepared yet again, Lindsey asked, "Do you think Sara's here?"

Confused, Catherine stared at her daughter for a moment before stammering, "Erm… Sara? Yeah, she's probably around here somewhere."

Sitting behind her mother's desk Lindsey took a chance to open a few of the desk drawers. Not finding anything interesting inside but not quite giving up on rummaging through them either, she asked not looking up, "Can I stay with her?"

"With Sara?" Catherine seemed oblivious to the mess her daughter was quickly creating.

"Yes. I like her." Looking at her mother expectantly, she waited. But her mother seemed to be unusually slow this morning.

"You like Sara? Since when?" The pager went off again, distracting her momentarily.

"I've always liked her. Can I?" Swirling around in her mother's chair Lindsay was trying not to sound too impatient. Before Catherine could formulate an answer her cell started ringing so she answered it exasperatedly.

"Where the hell are you?" Grissom sounded irritated, "Don't you wear your pager anymore? The sheriff's been pressuring Ecklie to wrap the case up as quickly as possible, so now he's determined to make my life a living hell. He's waiting for us, what's keeping you so long Catherine?!" Ecklie, oh joy… An evening spent with that uptight, ass kissing creep.

"I'll be right there, Gil." Quickly ending her conversation with Grissom, Catherine rang Sara, urging her daughter out of the office.


"You paged me. Where are you?"

"Comparing prints… Got nothing so far. Listen, Warrick said to tell you you've left a report on his desk yesterday. He's out in the field but he left it with me, thought you might need it at some point."

"Oh…" Catherine groaned, "Where were you five minutes ago before I made a total mess in my filing cabinet?"

"Sorry… Wasn't sure if you were in yet." Sara sounded apologetic so Catherine rushed to convince her it didn't matter. After all, it always felt good to piss Ecklie off, "It's all right, I was kidding. Not about the mess though… but it's okay. I'm on my way to the break room, can you meet me there? Gil's kind of on my back over this and I'm running really late."

"Sure. I'll be right there."

Entering the break room Catherine was once again confronted with her daughter's determined look, "So… Can I?"

"Ahem… What, Lindsey?"

Trying with all her might not to roll her eyes at her mother, Lindsey patiently answered,

"Can I stay with Sara?"

Catherine was out of words. She actually lost a whole train of thoughts when Sara suddenly appeared and Linds almost ran to greet her.

"Hey kiddo!!" Sara greeted her warmly, wrapping the girl in her arms, "What are you doing here?"

"Mom couldn't get aunt Nancy to stay with me today so I came for a visit!" Lindsey explained.


"Are you busy?" Big blue eyes stared at her expectantly, making Sara smile.

"Yep. Just thought I'd sneak in here and steal a cup of coffee though…" Sara added playfully, "Don't tell anyone, okay?"

When she spotted Catherine staring in her direction, Sara whispered, "Oops… busted!" earning Lindsey's laughter. She handed her report to Catherine who quickly stuffed it between the rest of the files she was carrying.

"Mom has to go in the field so I was wondering if I could hang with you for a while?" Linds asked quickly before her mother could react.

"Sure." Sara nodded without a second thought, then remembered to add, "If it's okay with your mom."

They both looked at Catherine.

"Catherine?" Sara frowned slightly, getting no response.

"Ahem… Sure. Are you sure? That it won't be a problem?" Catherine stammered.

"It'll be fine." Sara said calmly.

"All right… Thank you." Catherine said, confused when Sara offered her a cup of steaming coffee.

"See you later." Sara said, turning and guiding Lindsey through the door.

"Bye mom!" And with that her little rebel was gone, leaving her to wonder when exactly Lindsey and Sara managed to become so friendly with each other.

'And here I was thinking she didn't even like kids…' Catherine mused silently while almost running through the hallways, ignoring her pager going off once more.

Taking another break, Sara ordered a pizza for Lindsey and herself and settled for another cup of coffee while they waited for the delivery guy.

Wondering if she should even bring the dreaded subject up, she figured it couldn't hurt. It also might help her understand why Catherine's relationship with her daughter seemed so strained lately. Sara could understand the whole "acting out" thing; she knew things would undoubtedly change for them after Eddie's death but still hoped Lindsey would find solace in her mother. Unfortunately, Lindsey's puberty along with God knows what unresolved issues hit them both at full speed and it was heartbreaking for Sara to watch mother and daughter slowly growing apart.

"So… What's up with the hitchhiking?" Sara blurted, going for the kill.

"Oh, not you too… " Lindsey said exasperated. Sara merely waited for an explanation, taking another sip.

"Well?" Looking at Lindsey over her cup, Sara pressed on, "Trying to give your mom a coronary, eh?"

"Like she cares." Lindsey mumbled, shrinking down in her seat.

Throwing her empty cup away, Sara came to sit beside her, "Come on Linds, you know better than that. Of course she cares."

"Like you would know! You're not even friends!" Lindsey shot back.

Shrugging in discomfort, Sara managed to keep her face straight, "We don't have to be for me to know how much she loves you."

"Yeah, well… She grounded me for life." Came the grumbled reply.

Trying really hard not to grin, Sara asked, "You scared her half to death, Lindsey. What did you expect?"

"Not to get caught?"


That was Catherine's girl after all. Of course she had all the answers ready. Sara's quiet musings were interrupted when Lindsey unexpectedly murmured, "It's so confusing… I don't even know how to talk to her any more. Every time I try it only gets worse. It's like I always say something wrong and end up in more trouble."

"Have you tried just being honest with her? Like you are with me now?" Sara asked gently. Lindsey said nothing, just kept staring at her so Sara continued, "You know… not turning everything into a battle, just telling her how you feel?"

"You make it sound so easy." The girl complained.

"She's your mother, Lindsey." Sara said softly, "And she's been thirteen before, chances are she can relate." She gently stroked Lindsey's hair.

"Right. And if I end up grounded for a couple of next lives, can I come back to you and complain?"

Smiling, Sara answered sounding very serious, "Sure. Although I don't think she'd be able to do that."

Snorting, Lindsey disagreed, "You don't know my mother."

"Just talk to her, Lindsey. No yelling, talking back… Give her a chance. I promise you it can't be all bad." Pulling Lindsey closer, Sara wrapped the pouting girl in a brief hug and told her seriously, "It would hurt her if she ever thought you were scared to talk to her."

Looking at Sara with genuine wonder, Lindsey asked, "Why do you care at all? You only ever fight."

Stopped short, Sara stuttered, "We don't fight… Who… told you that? We argue."

"A few weeks ago, when Greg was taking me to the movies, I overheard him say to someone over the phone that you and mom yelled at each other so loud that day he thought he would have to call for help." Lindsey happily informed her.

"Oh, for God's sake…" 'Guess I'll have to have a long chat with Greg today' Sara mused bitterly, than said, "He was exaggerating, sweetie."

"But you were fighting." Lindsey sounded adamant.

Apparently there was no point in denying this again so Sara figured she could at least lighten it a bit, "She's my fighting buddy. What can I say?" She winked at the girl.

Trying to understand the strange logic Lindsey looked at Sara with interest, "Why do you fight her?"

"Because she fights me back… It's our work dynamic." Sara said ruffling Lindsey's hair, amused that she was sending the gentle locks in a variety of directions and totally unaware of being the only living person still allowed to mess with Lindsey's hair.

"You're both weird." Lindsey concluded shaking her head.

"Well, now… Hey, no more hitchhiking, okay? Think of some other diversions if you really have to."

'Oh, God… Did I say that out loud?! Catherine's going to kill me.'


Chapter 6

It was a little after 7am when Catherine finally managed to come back from the field. It was an awful enough scene the first time and she had to go through everything again. It took nearly four hours for them to finally conclude they'd never find the missing hand. The heat was making her nervous and dizzy and to top it off, once Gil left with Ecklie she was teamed up with Warrick, both of them still dancing that weird dance around each other. They've searched everywhere, covered enough ground she couldn't feel her legs anymore. She was tired as hell and just wanted to pick up her daughter and go home.

Break room was strangely in the dark. Catherine rounded the corner and peeked through the open door. There was Sara, sitting on the couch, her legs sprawled, eyes closed while humming under her breath. Lindsey was curled next to her, sleeping peacefully while Sara combed her hair with her fingers.

Catherine just stood there, mesmerized, feeling all the tension disappear. She was amazed by the sight before her. Lindsey, her blond little pest who was just developing a rather rebellious streak, experimenting with her mother's patience and hitting puberty at lightning speed; once her mother's angel and these days her very own brat who would sooner die on the spot then be caught showing affection to her mother in public… and here she was, snoring in Sara's arms.

At some point Sara turned her head meeting Catherine's soft gaze. As if on cue, they smiled at each other and Catherine came closer, gesturing for Sara to stay still. She crouched in front of them touching Lindsey's forehead lightly. Looking into Sara's eyes she found genuine concern there.

"You look tired." Sara whispered.

"So do you. You should have clocked out hours ago." Catherine noticed.

Still playing with Lindsey's hair, Sara murmured softly, "Yeah, well…"

"You stayed for her… Thank you." Watching Sara with renewed appreciation Catherine wondered why she never realized there was such a gentle side to Sara Sidle.

"Anytime. She's fun." Sara said smiling, looking at Lindsey with soft eyes.

"Fun?" Catherine almost snorted, "Well, that's a first."

"Cath… it's just a phase." Sara said looking up.

Catherine just nodded not looking back at her, "Hopefully it won't last a lifetime."

Lindsey shifted a little and buried her face deeper into Sara's side. "I don't have a heart to wake her." Sara softly admitted. Catherine just watched her till their eyes met again. "What?" Sara asked a bit nervously.

"You should have a child." Catherine told her, surprising them both. Seeing Sara's eyes widen she tried to explain, "You always say you're not good with kids and here you are cradling my spiteful teen." Sara didn't say anything but looked a bit more distant. "Have you ever thought about having a kid?" Catherine prodded gently. She shifted her weight slightly and for a moment balanced herself grabbing Sara's knee for support. Noticing Sara flinched, Catherine moved her hand away.

"Yes," Sara nodded, "Back in the day when I still believed I could find that one special person…" She trailed off and Catherine thought for a moment Sara wasn't going to continue, but then Sara spoke again, even more quietly than before, "Special enough that I would actually want to create another being with them, a part of us both."

Taken aback by the whispered admission, Catherine was at the loss for words. "But I never did find that person." Finished Sara, not really expecting Catherine to say anything in return.

Catherine dropped her gaze back to her daughter. "That's a beautiful reason to have a child, Sara," She found her voice again, but didn't look up just yet, "Although not very many of us have been created as results of that kind of reasoning." Feeling Sara watching her intently, Catherine looked up and whispered softly, "Keep believing, Sara." She got up, leaned in and gently kissed Sara's cheek. She heard Sara's sharp intake of breath and moved away to look into her eyes, and then felt a small hand on her side. Looking down, she greeted her daughter with a smile, "Hey baby."

"Hi mom." Mumbled Lindsey sleepily, turning her head to look at Sara.

"Hey sleepyhead…" Sara gently touched her nose, "Did you sleep well?"

"Yep." Smiling widely, Lindsey asked, "Are your legs numb yet?"

"What legs?" Sara joked, showing her gap toothed smile to the girl.

"Ready, Linds?" Asked Catherine, almost sorry to interrupt them.

"Ready." Sitting up she stretched, kissed Sara's cheek and got up, "I had a good time, thanks Sara."

"Me too. You should come more often." With a smile on her face Sara watched Lindsey trying to suppress a yawn. It was certainly safer than looking up at Catherine. Sara could feel her insistent gaze and desperately tried not to start blushing under it.

Pulling her daughter closer Catherine asked, "Aren't you going home yet, Sara?"

"Yeah, I am." Sara nodded getting up herself, "I just need to take some files to Grissom's office first." She chanced a glance in Catherine's direction, "See you tonight."

Slightly worried she may have already pushed a bit too far, Catherine decided against embarrassing Sara further by pulling her in a hug. It was something she really wanted to do seeing Sara looking so lost all of a sudden, but in the end she just smiled and said, "Okay. Get some rest."

"You too." Almost relieved to be left alone in the room, Sara sat back down on the couch and took a deep breath to calm her beating heart.

Padding down the hall, feeling a little bit better after taking a shower, Catherine peeked inside her daughter's room.

"Can I tuck you in or will you throw a pillow at me?" She asked half jokingly.

"You can tuck me in, mom."

Picking up the book she almost tripped over from the floor and sitting on her daughter's bed, she looked into Lindsey's sleepy eyes, "So… you liked spending time with Sara then?"

"Yes. She's really smart. I watched her work; she was explaining everything to me along the way. I never thought comparing fingerprints could be fun. Then there was this truck she had to pull apart… She looked like she had won the lottery, mom!" Lindsey chuckled.

"I'm glad you had a good time, baby." Catherine smiled at the images invading her mind. Softly she added, "I'm sorry I had to leave you like that."

"It's okay, mom."

Kissing the top of Lindsey's head Catherine was surprised to hear her ask, "Why aren't you and Sara friends?" Where did that come from?

"Sara said that?" Catherine asked feeling a slight pang of hurt.

"No. She's never said that. I just figured… Well, Nick comes over sometimes, and Warrick does too. Although, not so often any more…" Furrowing her brow Lindsey wondered for a moment why her mother suddenly couldn't stop blushing but decided to ignore it, "Even Greg. But not Sara… How come? She's far more interesting."

"You think so, huh?" Catherine tried gaining some time answering with a question of her own.

"You don't?"

Well, that apparently only worked with Grissom. Thinking how to get out of that one, Catherine shifted a little, "Well… I don't know. I guess we've never been all that close."

"Why not?"

Bless her heart, Linds still wanted an answer to everything.

Sighing, Catherine muttered, "Maybe we didn't try very hard."

Lindsey didn't look satisfied, "But you get along, right? I mean… You don't fight as much as you used to."

"Who said we fought?" Catherine was staring at her daughter now.

"Greg." Blurted Lindsey; completely unaware Greg was already in a lot of trouble as far as Sara was concerned.

"Oh, that little… Ahem." Stopping herself just in time, Catherine added, "We don't fight. We argue." Well that was almost true, right?

"Yeah," Lindsey nodded, "That's what Sara said too."


"She said something about that being your work dynamic?" Yawning widely, Lindsey watched a slight smile spread across her mother's face.

"Oh. "

"Yeah. Apparently, you're her fighting buddy."

Amused, Catherine asked, "What else did she say?"

"Well, for someone who's not even a friend… she sure seems to agree with you in a lot of matters." Lindsey mumbled averting her eyes.

Now this was getting interesting. Raising one of her eyebrows, Catherine asked slowly, "Involving… what exactly?"

"A potentially disastrous halt you've put on my social life…"

An amused smile quickly disappearing from Catherine's face, she looked into her daughter's eyes seriously, "You sure you want to get into that now?"

"Not really." Rolling on her side Lindsey tried not to show too much disappointment.

Chancing a glance at her mother, she said in a small voice, "I am sorry about that."

Not quite sure how to respond to that belated apology, Catherine tried predicting where this was heading when Lindsey offered, "I know you're still mad… and I know I'm still grounded. But, I just wanted you to know that I'm sorry."

"Okay…" Confused about the unexpected absence of the ever present pout on her daughter's face but unwilling to push her luck, Catherine leaned over and kissed Lindsey's cheek. "I love you, baby." She whispered, gently pushing back the hair from Lindsey's face.

"I love you too, mom."

Part 7

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