DISCLAIMER: Jerry Bruckheimer, CBS and various others own CSI, not me. I just played in their sandpit for a while.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for the Dog Days of Summer Challenge.
SPOILERS: Set around the last half of Season 5.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
DEDICATED: For the one I love as always.
Sunday in the Park with Sara
The flyer seemed to be haunting her. Dayglo green, it was difficult to miss. On every noticeboard at work, on the corkboard in Mia's kitchen. That of course led her to realise how much time she was spending in Mia's kitchen, in Mia's apartment. With Mia.
She really should pop home sometime. Collect her mail. Water her plants. If she still had any.
The Fourth Annual Las Vegas Inter-Service Family Day. Sunday. Normally she just would have worked it. Let the people with family have their day. But this year she was going. Because Mia had asked her. And she hadn't said no. She hadn't argued her case. She hadn't put across some faux political or sociological standpoint. She had just said. "Sure. That sounds like fun."
God, she had it bad.
But at least she was just an observer, not a participant. A fact which puzzled Mia. "How did you get out of the volleyball tournament?"
"Wasn't asked," Sara grinned. "My sporting prowess is well known. So Catherine got to you, huh."
"Yeah," Mia said ruefully. "I pretty much got sandbagged on my way into the lab."
"She can be persuasive," Sara said.
"Yet you resist," Mia mock-glared at her girlfriend. "Just how do you do that?"
"Practice," Sara shrugged. "And Catherine usually has very low expectations where I'm concerned. I usually don't even go. I mean, family days not really my thing."
"Oh but you gotta come this year," Mia begged. "You can't back out on me. You can't let me face this on my own." She put on her special pleading face.
Sara knew what she was trying to do and remained strong. "I'll come, I'll watch, but I don't do team sports," Sara said. "Never did, never will."
"Bad experience in school?"
"Sara Sidle, class geek at your service." She shook her head, smiled. "Don't get me wrong, I wasn't totally helpless I was good at track and field, just "
"You against the world, I get that," Mia grinned. "Well at least come and cheer me on."
"That I can do," Sara reached over and kissed her lover. "That, I can do."
Amongst the activities that were happening was the hotly contested volleyball tournament. For the fourth year running Catherine Willows was team captain. For the third year running she had not even asked Sara if she wanted to be on the team. Sara had made her feelings on the subject very clear when Catherine had first asked her and Catherine saw no reason to revisit that argument. She saw no sign that Sara had changed her opinion.
CSI had got through to the finals the last two years, beaten out both times by the homicide division. This year, things would be different. Catherine Willows had spoken. There was new blood on the team: Catherine had high hopes that Mia Dickerson, their new DNA technician, would be useful. And Sofia Curtis had actually asked to be on the team. She had guts, Catherine granted her that.
Conrad Ecklie was very keen that all shifts be represented on the team. And Sofia was the only one off the night shift who had shown any enthusiasm for the idea. Greg was on the team as well, supposedly, but hadn't even managed to turn up to the practice sessions. And so far he was a no-show on the day itself. So Sofia was on the team representing night shift. Catherine's team. And in their practice sessions Catherine had made that point very clear to Sofia.
It was a surprise to see that both Grissom and Sara had turned up. Given Mia's relationship with Sara she supposed it was to be expected that the CSI had turned up. It said a lot for how serious things had got between them. But Grissom's presence was a surprise.
What was also a surprise to her was the rush of emotion she felt at seeing Grissom and Sofia talking so easily to each other. They were making a lot of eye contact, they were touching, his hand on her arm, her fingers touching his chest, then his hand. They were smiling. He looked comfortable with that. He looked comfortable with her.
Catherine turned, hearing soft husky laughter, a sound that sent a shiver up a spine. Mia and Sara were standing so close together that there was no space between them. Sara Sidle, whose definition of personal space was usually several yards around her at least. The two women kissed. There was no denying it. They looked good together. Sara looked more relaxed, happier than Catherine could ever remember seeing her.
Realising that she was staring, she turned away, catching Grissom's gaze. He had been watching her watching Sara. There was an expression on his face, slightly wistful. She was not the only one thinking of 'might have beens'.
Since her ill-advised (on so many levels) liaison with Chris Bezich, Catherine had more or less removed herself from the dating game. Catherine Willows had always been the golden girl able to get any one she wanted. Or so she thought. She was a player.
Catherine had always thought of Grissom and to a lesser extent Sara as back-up. If she ever needed anyone one of them would be there for her. She tempted, she teased, she pushed their buttons. For three years they had danced around each other.
But now it seemed they had both moved on. And she was still here.
Vice were playing Traffic. Traffic were ahead three points. Warrick held up a bottle of beer from the cooler at his feet, motioned towards Mia who was lying across Sara, her head pillowed in Sara's lap, her eyes closed. Sara shook her head indicating her diet soda and then mimed that Mia was asleep. He nodded, grinned.
Today had been good. Sara leant back against the tree, her fingers carding gently through Mia's hair. Mia had made their picnic lunch and it had been delicious. They had ignored everyone else and fed each other, kissing and touching. She was normally so selfconscious and yet with Mia other people's impressions of her became less important.
She was actually enjoying this, lying on the grass under the trees, the sun on her face, the wind in her hair. She could not remember the last time she had done anything like this. For a moment she had the slightly horrifying thought that this might actually be a first for her.
Grissom had also turned up to support the team. He was sitting by himself, but Sofia and Catherine were buzzing around him and glaring and just about spitting at each other like two cats encroaching on each other's territory. Grissom seemed to be unaware of their attention but Sara knew better. In his own way he was enjoying it.
Greg was supposed to have been on the team but he had arrived late, missing the first game, his shades and pallor telling them he had spent his downtime partying. He helped himself to bits of their picnic before mooching off Warrick who had beer in his cooler rather than soda and juice and getting into a conversation with him on the merits of 50Cents as a musical artist. Catherine had merely glared at him but had not said anything about his tardiness. Greg was nightshift after all. A lost cause.
Mia made a soft noise, her hand brushing her face for a moment but she did not wake. Sara was amazed at the level of trust this young woman seemed to have in her. They had not known each other for that long when you thought about it. She did not normally give her trust so easily and she had a feeling that Mia was cut from the same cloth. What they had between them was rare and precious and Sara had no intention of letting go of it any time soon.
The Family Day was typically well attended. Hundreds of Las Vegas's finest from all the services and their families. The volleyball was only one of the competitions going on in the park. A jazz band was playing a few hundred yards away and Sara focussed her attention on it for a moment or two as she watched her friends, her colleagues and if she was honest with herself, her family. In her lap, Mia stirred, opened her eyes. "Hey," Sara smiled. "How are you feeling?"
"Good," Mia sat up, stretching before reaching over and kissing Sara. "What did I miss?"
"Traffic took Vice, I think. The guys are arguing who was the most overrated Tupac or Cobain. I'm not sure but I think Grissom's doing a spot of bug hunting. Or he's trying to freak out Sofia. And Catherine's schmoozing with Ecklie."
"She's ambitious, you gotta admire her for that," Mia observed.
"I know. I do I just don't get her sometimes. The way she is around people. Around men. Every time I watch Catherine Willows at something like this I get a flashback to all the girls in High School who made my life a living hell," Sara said.
"She can be a little overbearing sometimes, but "
"Sometimes, I'm not even sure whether or not she even likes me," Sara said. "And then I think why the hell am I bothered whether she likes me or not? When we were on the same shift, it was a problem sometimes, but now we're on different shifts, what the hell does it matter?"
"But it does," Mia said.
Sara nodded. "Yes, it does."
"And that bothers you."
Sara took a long pull from her soda. "Yeah. I don't know where I stand with her. I never did. And I don't like that uncertainty."
"You like her," Mia observed.
Sara did not reply for a long time. "Yeah," she said softly. She reached over pushed a stray lock of hair back behind Mia's ear. "I like her. I love you."
Mia smiled. "I don't think I'll ever get used to hearing you say that."
They kissed, long and sweet. Someone rounded the tree. "Mia oh, sorry."
It was Catherine. "It's okay," Mia said. "We up?"
"Yeah, ten minutes. I just wanted to go through a few things before we step up."
"Sure. I'll be over there in a minute." Mia put her arm around Sara's shoulders and smiled up at Catherine. Catherine looked momentarily discomforted and retreated.
"So we're going to continue this later?" Sara asked softly.
"Count on it," Mia smiled, leant over, kissed her one more time then rose smoothly to her feet and dusted off her jeans.
CSI were drawn against the EMTs. Their opposition included Hank Pedigrew who Sara had gone out with in what felt like another life. He grinned at her as she took her seat on the benches and she smiled back. He had behaved like a complete shit towards her but that was in the past. She had moved on. She hadn't really talked to him since she found he had two-timed her and she found she didn't really want to start now.
Grissom took the seat beside her as the game began. Sara could not take her eyes off Mia, the young woman moving with real athletic grace. Sofia also looked a natural athlete. But she wasn't Sara's type. Catherine encouraged and energised her team through every move, every point. Once Sara would have watched her, but not today.
CSI were two points up, working well together. The EMTs weren't as organised or as focused. They didn't have Catherine Willows.
Mia was airborne, lofting the ball over the net between two of the EMTs who barged into each other in their attempt to knock the ball back. Make that three points.
Catherine gave Mia the thumbs up and a bright grin, Sofia and then Warrick high fived her. Her girl was part of the team.
"So why aren't you out there, Sara?" Grissom asked.
"Why aren't you?" Sara countered.
"Same reason, I suspect," Grissom smiled. "Never did see the point of team sports." He took a pull at his beer. "So, you and Mia you're definitely together."
"Definitely," Sara grinned at him before turning her attention back to the game. Nick reached for a wide ball stumbled into Greg both of them falling to the grass and nearly taking Archie with them. Both Sara and Grissom were on their feet before they realised it but their colleagues picked themselves up and dusted themselves down laughing about it, no harm done no hurt taken. Catherine checked with them and the game continued. Thirty seconds later their team were four up. The EMTs were looking grim.
Grissom took another pull at his beer. Sara judged her timing perfectly. "So, you and Sofia?"
For a moment Sara thought she had killed him. It must have been a good three minutes before Grissom's breathing got back to anything approaching normal. And everyone was looking, the game had ground to a halt. Grissom shakily raised his hand. "I'm fine, I'm fine," he wheezed. "Went down the wrong you know."
The game continued. "There is no me and Sofia," he hissed. "I'm her supervisor."
"You're my supervisor," Sara said.
"And there's no you and me either," he said, giving her a strange look. "Never was."
"No, there never was." Sara said. Mia jogged over to them. "Sara, can I have some water?"
Sara fished in her rucksack, passed her the bottle and a handtowel. "Here you go, love."
Mia smiled, took a deep draught, wiped off her face and neck with the towel. "Thanks."
"Mia!" Catherine shouted. "You okay?"
"Yeah! Just got a little overheated. Be with you in a sec!" Mia turned back to Sara, grinned, bent down to kiss her. "The game ain't the only thing making me overheated."
Sara could feel the blush rising in her cheeks. Grissom was carefully not paying attention.
Mia sauntered back to the game, an extra wiggle in her step that Sara knew was just for her.
Mia was actually enjoying this, being part of the team. She had always got on well with Greg and the guys, as soon as they realised that she was never going to be interested in them they converted to big brother status including her because she was important to Sara. Catherine and Sofia were another proposition of course. Sofia was polite but cool, but then she was the same with everyone other than Grissom. And Catherine was Catherine.
She knew that Sara was watching her every move and that she liked what she saw. It made her feel good. She was still getting to grips with what she felt for Sara coming to terms with the fact that this might be serious. She had the feeling Sara felt the same way. She knew that Sara had told her things that no one except perhaps Grissom knew about her, about her family, her background. It was amazing really that someone who had been hurt so badly, who had come from such a damaged home could have the resilience of spirit to be the kind of person that Sara had grown to be. A person who deserved to be loved.
It was good that she was out here with everyone, doing normal stuff. If Sara had a fault it was that she lived in her head too much. It was good for her to step out into the real world every now and then. Just set down and smell the flowers and feel the sunshine on her face. A Sunday in the park with Sara.
Perhaps next year she could even get her to join the team.
The EMTs went off, licking their wounds. Thrashed thirteen points to five. So it would be CSIs against Traffic in the final which would start in about ten minutes time.
Greg was lying on the grass, one forearm over his eyes. Nick was crouched next to him a water bottle in his hand. Catherine was off talking to Lindsey and her sister and nephew. Lindsey was growing fast, Sara knew from stuff she had overheard in the coffee room too fast for her mother's liking. Sara still felt uncomfortable around the girl. No one had ever been brought to justice for Eddie Willow's murder.
Now it was Sara's turn to lie with her head in Mia's lap. Mia was still buzzed from the game. Sara hadn't done anything strenuous but she still felt tired. She supposed it could be the fresh air. Or was that an old wife's tale? All she knew was that she felt sleepy and safe and loved. She had never felt like that before, not for the longest time.
It was true what they said: what you never had you could not miss. But she had it now. She had tasted what family, what a loving relationship was supposed to feel like and it was wonderful. But it was also a little scary. Because if it went wrong, if she screwed up then it was going to hurt, worse than anything had ever hurt her before. And she didn't know if she was strong enough to deal with that. She used to drink because she was unhappy with herself, the emptiness of her life. The counselling she had received and her relationship with Mia had helped her with that and she could truly say that she was not that person any more.
"Sshhh," Mia said softly.
"What?" Sara didn't think she had spoken aloud.
"You're thinking too much. Just relax, baby. That's supposed to be what today's all about."
"I was thinking about us. About how good it feels, how right."
"Yeah, it does." Sara heard the affection, the wonder in Mia's voice. "Right from the first. And I've been thinking as well."
"Next year when we do this, you're gonna be standing right beside me on that volleyball team."
Sara laughed. "When you put it like that, suddenly team sports don't sound that bad."
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