DISCLAIMER:I don't own them, I never will. Proper rights go to Bruckheimer, CBS and every one.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

On the Surface
By Amy Jo

Part 10

I move to kiss her again and it's even better than before. She opens her lips to me and lets me explore the inside of her mouth. Her mouth is hot and her tongue plays moves against mine until I can't breathe anymore. I move away from her with great reluctance. I keep my eyes closed as I control my breathing and I hold onto her gently. Just the simple feel of her underneath my hands, even fully clothed, is enough to make my skin sing with excitement.

I want to remember this moment forever. The softness of her lips, the taste of her skin, and the feel of her fingers flexing against the skin on my back. I am glad I chose to wear this particular blouse today because the feel of her fingers through the silk is much better than it could ever be through the cotton of my usual tank top. Not as good as it would feel to have her hands on my skin, but it's not like I could go to work topless.

She lets me hold her for a few minutes before she removes her hands from my body. The loss of contact is enough to force my eyes open and I look at her with what has to be the biggest grin of my life. Barely able to speak I struggle to talk to her. "You have no idea how long I've wanted to do that."

I'm not willing to let go of her, and she places her hand on mine to remove them from her hips. I watch as she processes the barely audible words I said to her. When she figures it out, she just smiles. It's beautiful.

"We need to get back to the lab." She's still holding my hands and not looking at all like she wants to let go. I'm walking on clouds with my happiness in this moment.

"Yeah. I know." I think I love her. This one moment of time is more than I ever thought possible and I don't want it to end. But she's right. We must get back to work. I reluctantly let go of her hands and turn to close the rear doors of the Tahoe. She's quiet on the ride back to the lab, but she doesn't move or say anything when I reach my hand out to hold hers.

When we get back to the lab, the moment between us makes its final break. She must go her way, and I must go mine. With some reluctance, I watch her walk away. I head to the DNA lab with the blood samples.

"Sara? Sara where have you been all night?" Greg is obviously excited to see me.

"Working Greg, what the hell do you think I've been doing?" I try to make it sound like I'm irritated or annoyed, but the grin on my face just makes me sound as happy as I feel. I give him the paper sack containing the samples.

"From what I've been hearing, you've been turning heads all night. And now that I've seen you in person I can tell why," Greg backpedals across the lab to avoid the smack on the arm he knew he was going to get.

"Greg, I'm not even going to tell you wrong it was to say that. You know how wrong that was right?" From across the room he nods his head repeatedly, but I can also tell that his eyes are moving up and down my body taking another good look. "Greg." This time not even the good mood I'm in can keep my voice from rising in anger.

"Yeah, yeah. I know." He takes a cautious step forward. "But Sara? You should know you look seriously hot." It's his way of complementing me. Doesn't mean I have to like it. Something in the way he says it just makes me want to smack him. At least Archie was silent in his approval.

Before he can irritate me anymore, I turn and leave the lab. A few more stops and I get a chance to get back to my cases from the night before. I've got nothing on the pawn shop. The video surveillance is so grainy that the frames pulled for pictures are basically useless.

The pictures Archie got for me from the jewelry store are fabulous though. That guy really invested his money in the right system. I've got clear pictures of all the suspects from various vantages. The suspects all have their faces covered with ski masks, but it's obvious that one of them is female, her hair is peaking out from under the ski mask. She has incredibly curly hair and if I had to guess, I'd say she was a redhead. That's just the information I need to wrap up this case. I need to get back to the jewelry store and check out his employees.

Not wanting to leave Catherine in the lurch on our case from tonight, I search her out to tell her I need to follow up on another case. I nearly have a heart attack when I find her in a lab with Warrick. It looks they may have been talking for a while, but good for me, Catherine seems to smiling.

"Catherine," she turns her head to look at me and she has the cutest expression on her face. Caught with her hand in the cookie jar. I desperately want to know what they were talking about. "I need to check on something from a case I caught last night, page me if something comes up okay?"

Much as I want to know what they were talking about, because I'm certain it was me, I exit the lab quickly to let them get back to their conversation. I can always try to get the information from Warrick now that we've got some sort of friendship thing going. Or, now that I'm back on good terms with Catherine I could try to get the information from her. My money's on Warrick; Catherine and I still haven't really talked about what's going on between us.

I'm distracted on the way to the jewelry store thinking of what Catherine and Warrick might have been talking about. My own insecurities have tied my stomach in knots. I shouldn't be worried, she was happy and she kissed me back. But that doesn't seem to stop the worrying.

There is a sign on the front of the store indicating that they will be closed for 'remodeling'. I pull out my pocket knife and slice through the crime scene tape on the door. The door opens easily and I notice that the alarm system is not armed. I'll have to remember to tell the owner that he should leave that armed even if it is a crime scene.

A look around the store shows that the cleanup crew hasn't made an appearance. There is still shattered bits of glass all over the floor. The cases are all now empty of their contents; looks like Mr. Segobiano took my advice about making sure he put everything in the safe. I head for the office in the back of the store, knowing that this is where the employee files will be.

Part of me wonders if I shouldn't have called the detective running this investigation about a warrant, but the thought is put away when I notice a picture on the desk. Plain sight. A picture of Mr. Segobiano with his arms wrapped lovingly around what looks to be my female suspect. I bag the picture and prepare to head out of the store. I'll have to get a warrant for anything else.

On my walk back through the front of the store my pager beeps scaring the shit out of me. In the dead silence of the store the ringing echoes loudly. I grab the pager off my belt and check the number on it. Warrick. I'm really going to have to talk to him when I get back to the lab. He probably has the worst timing of anyone I know.

By the time I get back to the lab half my shift is over. I'm thankful that today feels more productive than yesterday. I head to my office to call the detective on the jewelry store break in and leave him a message to get a warrant on the employee information and whoever the girl is in the picture. The name of the detective is one I haven't heard before, but that's no big surprise since he works days and I work nights.

Figuring it's about time for a little coffee, I head into the break room. Apparently I wasn't the only one with the idea, as I find Nick and Greg sitting at the table. I walk past them to the coffee maker and barely notice the look that Greg gives me. Fortunately for me Nick catches it too and he gives Greg a smack on the back of his head. The coffee is empty and I start another pot.

I sit down at the table across from Nick. "Thanks Nick," I say cocking my head in Greg's direction.

Nick just smiles and says, "No problem. Besides, I don't mind hitting Sanders here. He usually deserves it for something or another."

I don't really talk to the people I work with about anything outside of work. I try to come up with something to say to Nick when Greg suddenly decides to open his stupid mouth again.

"So Sara who's the lucky guy?" Greg asks with a big grin on his face, making sure he pushes his chair far enough away from the table to be out of arms reach from me. But I have Nick as backup.

"Greg, shut up." Nick tries to get Greg to leave it alone.

"No way. Have you looked at Sara today? She's smokin' in those jeans. I want to know who the lucky guy is, 'cause it sure isn't me." Before I can reach across and strangle Greg, Nick gives him another smack. Much to my dismay Greg doesn't look like he's backing down and Warrick and Catherine suddenly show up. Great. "Ow. Damn Nick, that hurt."

"Good, you deserve it," I say as I get up to get that cup of coffee I originally came in for. Hopefully I'll just be able to duck out the room before anyone asks what's going on.

No such luck I realize as Catherine sits in the chair I just vacated and asks, "What did Greg do now?" Catherine's mood has certainly improved from the beginning of shift. I can't suppress the smile that spreads across my face with the realization that I had something to do with the good mood she's in.

"Oh, Greg just can't manage to keep his mouth shut, that's all." I finish pouring my cup of coffee and move to add some sugar. I hope that this is explanation is enough. But it's not.

"What'd he say now?" Warrick joins the conversation as he pours himself a cup of coffee. I'm beginning to think that if it weren't for this coffee machine, none of us would make it through a single shift.

Proving that he really can't stay quiet, Greg decides to explain the situation. "I just commented that I think Sara looks really good tonight and I wanted to know who she was dressing to impress."

"Whatever Sanders. That is not the way you said it." Greg looks at Nick and decides that it's time to leave the break room. Which is probably a good idea, because I think Nick might be ready to hit again. Thank god for Nick's good-ole-boy manners. Saves me the trouble of having to beat up Greg myself.

"Yeah," I say, "I think the words you used were 'seriously hot' and 'smokin', not 'really good'. And I'm not dressing to impress anyone." Big fat lie. I hope no one catches on. Greg eases his way out of the room. Catherine looks at me and I feel myself blush under her gaze as it travels lazily up and down my body.

"I don't know," Catherine says. "I think I'd be interested in knowing who this person is as well. You do look nice Sara." I thought for sure my heart would stop beating as her eyes looked over my body. Her approval makes me feel fantastic. I know that I'm grinning like an idiot, but I can't seem to stop myself.

"Sara, can I get your opinion on something," Warrick asks, saving me from a conversation that I'm not prepared to have. Maybe his timing is starting to improve.

"Yeah, sure. Lead the way." And we walk out of the break room leaving Nick and Catherine attempting to figure out what' going on.

Part 11

Warrick leads me down the hall to a lab. Actually it's the lab he and Catherine were working in earlier. I step up to the microscope and look at whatever is on the slide. After all, I'm supposed to be helping Warrick with something. And it's not like I can't talk and get something done at the same time. Right?

Warrick finally notices that I'm not going to start talking. I don't volunteer information. Ask the right questions and I tell you the answers, but I never volunteer information.

"You know I paged you earlier right?" I suppose that's as good a conversation starter as anything else. At least he's nice enough to work up to the questions he wants to ask instead of just blurting them out.

"Yeah, I was right in the middle of a dark and empty jewelry store. Scared the crap outta me." I laugh a little remembering that I actually had jumped when my pager beeped. "But I figured all you really wanted was to have this conversation and I didn't feel the need to hurry into this. Besides, you didn't page me again when I didn't respond and that just confirmed my suspicions that it wasn't urgent."

Warrick chuckles at my observations. "Yeah. You're right about that. You know I talked to Catherine earlier?" His serious tone returns. I really wish we weren't having this conversation at work.

"Yeah. I walked in on it remember? It was funny though, Catherine looked like she'd been caught sneaking cookies out of the cookie jar. Pretty cute." Why I chose to reveal this to Warrick I will never know. But I'm fairly certain that the friendship we established at Patricks after yesterday's shift is going to turn into something solid and good. I'm almost frightened at the ease with which he can get me to open up.

"Really?" I think he's just as amazed as me that I'm finally starting to open up and be more friendly. "You know what we were talking about?"

"I have a fairly good guess. But I'm not sure it's really any of my business." I really, really want to know what they were talking about. But it honestly isn't any of my business. I settle myself into one of the chairs in the room and wait for Warrick to get to his point.

"What would you guess?" There is a smile picking up the corners of his mouth and he looks genuinely happy.

"Me. From the look on Catherine's face and they way you're talking to me know, I'd have to say I'm pretty sure you were talking about me." I know that this sounds pretty cocky, but I'm also 90% sure I'm right.

Warrick's eyes widen for a minute and he lets out a small laugh. "Yeah. You're right about that. Want to know what she said?"

Warrick gets this little devilish look that almost scares me. Maybe confiding in him isn't the best thing. If he's so free with the information, even Greg will probably know soon.

"I'm not sure I should know what she said to you. Isn't that something between the two of you?" I've never been one to gossip and anything a friend ever told me always stayed between the two of us. I don't want Warrick to tell me anything that is just between him and Catherine. I appreciate his efforts to help Catherine find happiness, which in turn is good for me, but I don't want to compromise their friendship over anything.

"Oh no. Not at all. When you wouldn't talk on the phone I tried to get information out of her. She said she doesn't kiss and tell. And she wouldn't say anything more than that. I take it the talk went well? I mean she did say 'kiss', so that's got to be good right?" Warrick pulls a chair next to mine as he's talking and is now looking at me expectantly. Like I would ever tell him the details.

"Now Warrick what makes you think I'm going to tell you something that she won't?" The disappointed look on his face is priceless. "As far as the talk, we didn't really have one. I kept trying to get her to tell me what was wrong but she wouldn't say anything. You called in the middle of it and I didn't need to be distracted from trying to get her to talk to me."

Well, it's mostly true. We didn't really talk. And she really wouldn't admit to what was bothering her. When I finally gave up on getting her to talk I just kissed her. The memory of that kiss is enough to make my heart pound and my body blush. Shit, I hope Warrick doesn't notice that. Warrick called in the middle of a fantastic kiss and I didn't want to be distracted from that.

"So you did kiss her." He's grinning big and his eyes are wide at the shock of it.

"What makes you say that? I didn't say I kissed her." He apparently did catch the blush. Oh well.

"Sara, you're beet red right now. The only thing about the conversation we're having right now that could possibly even make you blush would be if you did kiss her. Sara?"

I'm never going to live down the embarrassment I feel right now. I thought it was bad when he stared at me slack jawed when he busted me kissing Rayn. But that was nothing compared to the way I feel now. At least he didn't know Rayn. He's been best friends with Catherine for years. I am so screwed.

I hope he takes it easy on me. "Yeah?"

"I'm happy for you. Now all you need to do is actually have that talk with her. Clear the air. Let her know that what she saw wasn't what it looked like but that what she felt was."

He's so right. I don't know how she feels about the past few days, but I'm certain that it's not all good. She was pissed when she Rayn and I two days ago. I didn't see her the next day, but I think she did that on purpose. Then today when she saw me, she was all pissed again. She was still pissed when I kissed her. I think the fact that I kissed her might have made her a little less angry. But since we didn't really resolve anything there's a possibility that she's still mad at me.

"Warrick, I can't do this at work. I can barely do this kind of thing outside of work. I drank nearly a whole bottle of rum when Rayn and I talked. And then yesterday, with you, I was slamming back glasses of Jack. And you two aren't even the ones I'm supposed to have this conversation with. It should be her. Unless Grissom changed the rules recently I'm pretty sure there's no drinking allowed while I'm working."

Warrick thinks about what I've said for a few minutes. I'm about to give up and go get some work done but then I hear him clear his throat to get my attention.


I'm confused. "Why what?"

"The drinking. Why do you feel the need to drink before you'll talk openly with anyone?" He looks concerned.

"It's not anyone. I don't get wasted with my shrink." Just the thought makes me laugh. Warrick has that shocked look on his face again. He probably had no idea I talked with a shrink. With a low voice, the rest of the explanation comes out. "Just with people who can hurt me."

"Interesting." I think he knows not to continue talking about this particular subject, because he switches gears. "So what are your plans for after work today?"

You know, today he has a knack for making me confused. "Nothing why?"

"Cause I'm thinking you should talk with Catherine. Especially if you did kiss her. I know she's happy right now, but part of her is going to be worried about what's going to happen between the two of you. I mean just two days ago she saw you kissing another woman and then today you're kissing her. She's going to want to know what's up."

"Got any suggestions? I'm not really sure I can handle another day of emotional conversations drowned out with liquor. Though I haven't had tequila in a while. Think she'd do shooters with me?" It's a pathetic attempt to lighten the mood. I know that everything he's saying is right, but it's totally killing my good mood.

"I think you should be sober for this conversation. Maybe you could take her and Lindsey to the park. Let Lindsey play while you and Catherine talk."

"You really think I can handle the two of them at once? I don't think that's such a great idea. And besides, shouldn't Lindsey be at school or something?" I know for sure I'd probably have a nervous breakdown if I had to answer questions from both Catherine and Lindsey at the same time. Just the thought scares me.

"Sara, by the time you get off work, it'll be Saturday. Lindsey will be at home. You know what, I have an idea. You make sure to get Catherine to go out with you after shift, and I'll take care of Lindsey. But you should know, that little girl is incredibly smart. You're going to have to face her someday."

Warrick seems more excited about his idea than I ever could be. I'm still really insecure about where I stand with Catherine. I'm not sure how I'll take it if she brushes me off. But then again if she just talks to me, it'll be a step in the right direction. And I am excited at the prospect of spending time with Catherine outside work. But I'm also really, really fucking nervous.

"Okay. I can do this I think. Yeah. I can do this." I'm not even convincing myself. "But if I'm going to even try this, I need to find Catherine." I walk out of the lab leaving Warrick to his work, or whatever else he feels the need to do.

Since I left Catherine in the break room, this is where I go to look for her. To my good fortune, she is not there. This will give me more time to think of what to say to her. I used to be able to do things like this; trying to get a date never used to make me feel this tongue-tied and useless. Something about her confidence and her gracefulness makes this ten times harder for me. She is everything I am not. Everything I want to be.

I eventually find her in the DNA lab with Greg. Oh fun.

"Catherine, got a second? I just wanted to see where things were on our db from Freemont Street since I ducked out earlier."

"Yeah as soon as Greg here decides that I'm worthy of the DNA results." She's not too happy with Greg at the moment. I hope the shit doesn't roll downhill in my direction once I get a minute alone with her.

"Here you go," Greg says as he handles the results to Catherine. We both walk out the door looking at the results. The results show, not surprisingly, that all the blood from the scene belonged to our vic.

"So umm, do we have anything to contradict the witness reports?" I'm so lame.

"No everything looks like the witnesses say. Guy tries to run off with our vic's purse, she holds on to it, he pulls a gun. Then BAM, one shot and she drops. Bloody mess everywhere. Surrounding witnesses managed to get the gun from him and keep him on scene until a cruiser showed up. End of story. Plus, they've got his confession."

"Pretty cut and dried then. On our end anyway." As we walk down the hallway I noticed that we're very subtly inching closer to each other. That's a good sign right? So why is my stomach in knots?

"Yeah." She's suddenly quiet. When she agreed with my statement it was almost a whisper.

I wasn't paying too much attention to where we were walking, but Catherine slows down and it appears that we've reached our destination. I look up and in front of me is Catherine's office. I'm not sure if she knows that I'm up to something right now, but she leads the way inside her office, and I follow. She stays standing by the door and I turn to face her. I know the surprise is evident on my face when she closes the door behind her.

"Umm. Yeah. So I wanted to ask you something," I say looking at my feet. I still don't understand why this makes me so nervous. I used to be able to do this without being so tied up about it.

She steps closer to me and I see her hand reach out to mine. She gives it a gentle, reassuring squeeze and I'm positive she knows what I'm going to say. I lift my head to look at her and she steps closer, nearly pressing herself against me. Any thoughts I had were gone when she puts her lips on mine.

I can't even describe what it's like to kiss her. The way her body moves into mine, the way she lets her hands play with my body. The way she smells up close, the way she tastes. I know I don't have much experience kissing her, but every time it's a whole new experience. Behind the safety of her closed door I am not ashamed to let her hear my appreciation of her technique. My moan of pleasure is lost in her mouth and it only seems to encourage her; making her hands pull us closer together even as they work their way under my shirt.

My knees buckle when she first touches my skin and I rely on her strength to hold me up. I tangle my hands in her blonde locks and just let her kiss me. Her tongue plays with mine and when it retreats I follow, not willing to stop now. Only when there is no more breath in my lungs do I force myself apart from her. I still don't want to let go, so instead I just lean my head on her shoulder and gather up enough air to at least be able to speak to her.

"So. Umm. I was wondering if maybe you'd want to do something after shift. With me. Maybe we could go somewhere and talk or something." My vote is for the or something, but that has a lot to do with the hormonal daze I'm currently in. The logical part of my brain tells me that the talk needs to come first.

Even with the kiss we shared just now, I'm still frightened that she'll say no. That she'll realize that she doesn't want me. If I weren't held so close in her arms, I would be tempted to do a victory dance when she says yes. But being so close, I decide the best thing to do would be to just kiss her again.

Part 12

I know I'm in big trouble when I can't make myself let go of her. Here we are in the middle of her office necking when we're supposed to be working. I know it's wrong, I know we're not supposed to be doing this. But I feel so comfortable in her arms that I can't let go. It feels so right to be here.

Her hands have worked their way under my shirt and my brain shuts down as they move all around my torso. I've never wanted anything as bad as I want her right now. Maybe it's the fact that there's been no one in my life for so long that makes me want her this bad. Maybe it's the way she is slowly but rhythmically pushing her hips into mine. Maybe it's her hands creeping up my stomach. Whatever it is, it's driving me to the point of no return, and I just can't do this here.

It takes every ounce of will power I have to step away from her. I want her so much I can't even look at her now. I'll never be able to walk out of this room if I look at her face.

"Cat?" I put enough space between us that, at least momentarily, I can resist the urge to kiss her again. But I still can't look at her. Not if this is going to work, and I'm going to be able to get out of this office and back to work. "Cat, I need to go. You know get some work done or something."

I look up at her face and I realize just what a mistake I've made. Her face is flushed and her eyes are dark with desire. Oh god. How am I going to make myself walk out that door? I am so weak when it comes to her.

"I know. Me too." We are the only ones in the room, but she whispers to me like we're sharing a secret. And it feels, in a way, as if we were. I feel as if I'm glued to the floor. My legs won't take the few steps I need them to to get out the door. And looking into her eyes, I am stuck here.

"So why can't I move?" I can't move because I don't want to. There isn't a single part of my body that wants to be anywhere but here.

"C'mon," she says to me and tugs at my arms to get me to follow her. The few steps to the door are covered quickly and she brushes a fleeting kiss across my lips before opening the door and giving me a light, playful push out.

I'm just uncoordinated enough to stumble the first few steps and as I regain my balance, I hear her laughing at me even as she closes the door behind her. I can't help but think that I should somehow get her back for that, but I know I never will. I'm not sure I have it in me to be even the slightest bit mean to her, and she's too graceful to stumble around like me.

The click of her door behind me reminds me that there are things I need to do. Not that I can remember any of them. The safest way out is to hide in my office and get paperwork done. I can always write up a report on my two B&E's from yesterday and ship them off to the detectives.

Time moves way too slow for my taste and it seemingly takes forever for the shift to end. Just before shift is over, I find Warrick to tell him that I seem to have plans for after work. Plans that involve him being nice of enough to take care of Lindsey for at least a few hours; he agrees to hang out with her for the whole day, taking her to Catherine's sister at night. I'm not sure who's happier, him or me.

A quick stop in the locker room to pick up my things and I'm headed out the door. Only to be cut short by Grissom. Damn it. I do not have time for this. I say a silent prayer to myself that he makes this short and quick. It's not like we have long talks anyway.

"Sara?" His voice is cautionary and low.

Ugh. "Yeah boss?" Please go away. Please. There is more irritation in my voice than I really wanted him to hear, but I've got things to do and he's only standing in my way.

"I was just wondering if you."

"Hey Sara, you coming?" I hear Catherine's voice as it interrupts whatever it was Grissom was saying. If I wasn't falling for her before, I know I am now. Someone out there answered my prayers.

"Yeah, hang on. Hey Griss, can we do this later? You know what a pain in the ass Catherine can be if she has to wait." I don't even give him a chance to answer as I jog over to Catherine's car, where she is waiting on me.

After I get in the car I turn to Grissom staring after us, looking completely baffled. Before I can stop it, I burst out in laughter. I don't know where we're headed, and it's a long time before I stop laughing. Catherine, unlike Warrick, has excellent timing and that look on Grissom face when I left with Catherine. It was great.

"So, where to?" I ask after I finally stop laughing.

"I need to pick up Lindsey, then I'll take her to my sister's for the day." Oh, I guess Warrick didn't have time to talk to her.

"Got it covered Cath. Warrick's going to spend the day with Lindsey. I suppose he didn't tell you that?" She looks surprised and a little wary of what I've just said.

"You got Warrick to watch Lindsey for the whole day? I'm impressed. And incredibly curious about what's going on." I kind of like keeping her on her toes like this. She's always so in control, she looks flustered now that she has no immediate plan.

"Warrick is happy to help. And I'll tell you all about what's going on if you'll just take me to my place. Or yours for that matter." Probably not what she had in mind for the morning, but I'm having a wonderful time already. She's cute like this, not in control and depending on someone else. She's apparently not ready to have me go to her place because she immediately asks for directions on how to get to mine.

I give Catherine directions to my place while she keeps asking how I managed to get Warrick to watch Lindsey for a whole day. Apparently the most he's ever volunteered is an hour or two. I keep telling her that we should wait until we get to my place before we talk about it. I'm not sure how she'll react to the news that Warrick is playing matchmaker. Even though all he really said was that I had a chance if I tried, I'm still not sure how she'd feel about Warrick even telling me that.

It's not until we get to the apartment that I even feel the lightest bit nervous about her coming upstairs. I know that we need to talk first, and now I'm not so sure that we shouldn't have just gone someplace in public. At least here I'm more comfortable. I'm not sure how she feels about it though.

"You know, if you don't want to do this here, we can always go somewhere else. Maybe get some dinner, or I guess breakfast if you want." I give her the option to back out now. I don't know for sure what she's thinking but when she responds, it's definitely clear what's on her mind.

"Sara honey, I don't think the things I want to do are allowed in public." With these words she steals my breath. I am also apparently speechless as she leaves the car and waits for me to lead her upstairs. Wordlessly I lead her upstairs to my apartment. I am almost shaking I'm so nervous.

Catherine follows me into the apartment, quietly taking notice of her surroundings. Her observation isn't nearly as blatant as Warrick's, but I can tell that she's trying to learn more about me by studying my apartment. Determined to make this the one personal conversation that I have completely sober, I head into the kitchen and grab a glass of orange juice. I offer one to Catherine, but she declines. I know from her words before we came up here that she has a different plan for the day than I do.

"Want the nickel tour?" I ask as she continues to look around my place.

"No thanks. I'm pretty sure I can figure it out myself. Let me guess, kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom. That about cover it?" She moves closer to me as she talks and the closer she gets the more I feel a tightening in my chest. The look in her eyes is serious and demanding and I'm guessing that I'm about to get seriously kissed.

"Yeah. But there's also a second bedroom and a balcony." Catherine's steps toward me are slow and sure. The feeling comes over me that I'm about to be devoured. I carefully set my glass down, and she is soon right in front of me.

I think she sees that I want to say something to her, because she just shakes her head and whispers to me, "Shh. Later." And then she kisses me. The world slips away when she kisses me; there is nothing left but her and me. There is a hunger in her kiss that wasn't there before. A persistent need that is strong enough to take my breath away instantly.

I break the kiss, pulling away slightly to catch my breath. Good god she can kiss. She is not letting me deter her from her intentions. She moves her lips down my neck, licking and sucking at the exposed flesh.

"Cat?" It's a whispered request for her to stop, or at the very least slow down. She chooses to ignore it. "Cat please?"

"Hmmm?" She vibrates into my neck. Wow. Never felt that before. Wow.

"Cat please stop." And she does just that, and my body instantly regrets the request. I can't believe I'm making her stop. She's all I've wanted for years and here she is ready and more than willing and I'm the one that says stop. I feel like such an ass. "Fast. Too fast."

I am well aware that I'm not making much sense right now, but Catherine doesn't seem to mind as she smiles and pulls me toward the couch. In my debilitated mental state I am not prepared for her instantaneous switch from would-be-lover to friend. More and more I realize just how much she amazes me.

Just before she sits on the couch, I decide to sit outside on the balcony, and I pull her so that she follows. The morning air is cool and helps me regain my senses. Trying to figure out the best way to explain my behavior, I sit and stare out at the city. At night, the view from here is filled with the glitz and glamour of Vegas. In daylight it looks like any other city.

"Sorry," I apologize, not really knowing what else to say.

"No Sara, don't apologize. Never apologize for saying no." The conviction and vehemence behind the words startles me and makes me wonder just what it is that she is feeling right now. Her voice softens and she continues, "I should apologize. I should have known you wouldn't want to move so fast."

"Oh no you don't. If I can't apologize, then you can't either. You just surprised me I guess. I wasn't expecting you to be so..." I trail off trying to find the appropriate word. "Anyway, I just think maybe we should talk about this first. I want to know that everything between us is okay before we move forward. I don't want to fuck this up."

"Sara, you won't fuck this up." Well, I'm glad she's confident in me. Too bad I'm not.

"Catherine," I laugh at her, "you don't know my track record. Chances are pretty good I'll manage to screw up. I don't want to hurt you. I just think it would be best if we cleared up a few things first. Don't you even want to know who that woman was the other day?"

It's hard for me to believe that she hasn't mentioned that yet. I'm a little bit too straightforward and that question probably would have been the first thing out of my mouth, probably even before I said hello. Catherine, however, hasn't seem concerned since we first kissed. Before that she was angry with me, but since then she's been happy. I'm probably about to ruin that.

I was right. She looks so hurt. I ache to hold her in my arms and tell her everything is okay. But I can't because I want her to ask whatever questions she has and then if she still wants me, I'll hold her forever.

"I'm not sure that I want to know. Does it matter?" She looks as if I've already broken her heart. As bad as I feel right now, I'm glad it's now and not later.

"It does. If she stays in Vegas it does. If she leaves it will still matter. She's an old flame. I want you to feel comfortable with that. I'm not saying that Rayn and I are going to be best friends or anything, but it's important to me that you understand."

"Okay then. If you really think it's a good idea to tell me, then I think you'd probably better start filling in the blanks." She sinks further into her chair, probably wanting to be as far away from me as possible right now. I don't blame her at all.

"I don't necessarily think it's a good idea, but I think you should know anyway. Rayn was my first. In many ways. She was the first girl I kissed. The first to become my girlfriend, the first person I fell in love with. It was long ago, really. But there's still a lot of hurt from that relationship."

"How long ago?" At least she's getting a little more comfortable. Probably the investigator side of her. She once said she liked puzzles, and I'm a big one.

"High school." I swear I think she wants to laugh at this. The girl from high school, so long ago, who shows up in my life again. If it wasn't me that she hurt so bad, I think I'd probably find the situation amusing too. "We were freshman we started dating. By senior year I thought everything was perfect. I was going to Harvard, she was going to come with me."

"Was?" Catherine interrupts.

"Yeah was." Even now my voice reflects the hurt from that long ago. "Graduation day she shipped out to boot camp with the Army. I didn't know. She wasn't at the ceremony and I didn't see her afterward either. Late that I night I went to her house and her parents told me she was gone. At the time, and for a long time afterward, I was devastated that she left. She didn't even tell me she was considering the Army, didn't tell me she was leaving. I was in love with her, even at that young age. It hurt."

"And now?"

"Now she's back. For whatever reason. I don't really know. I know that she's a sergeant, I can tell from the chevrons and arcs on her uniform. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say staff sergeant, but it's been a while since I could recognize status just by uniform. In San Francisco there were a lot of Army personnel around and after a while, you get to recognize the patches. But that was years ago and I'm afraid I'm out of practice."

"What about personally? Where is she in your life personally?"

For all the world I can't think of why she looks so hurt to asked. I realize that there's a lot about me that she doesn't know. But at least by now I'd think she would have figured out that there's no way in hell I would even think of starting something with her if Rayn was in my life in a romantic way.

"Personally, I'm not sure." There's that wounded look again. "No, Catherine, not like that. Not in any romantic or sexual way. That's the past. The present is awfully confusing. She's a big part of the reason I have what my shrink calls 'commitment issues.' I'm not sure why she's here. I'm supposed to call her, actually I was supposed to call her yesterday, but I haven't."

"Why not?"

"Well for one, I broke my phone. But I'm not sure how I'll handle talking to her. That morning, after you saw us, we talked for a long while. By the end of the conversation I'd had probably about three-quarters of a bottle of rum. I'm not sure I can handle that again. After a while I couldn't talk about anything personal. It hurts you know. What I really want to do is yell at her, but I'm not 18 anymore. I should be able to handle things more like an adult. So instead I avoid."

"You should talk to her. You wanted to 'clear the air' with me. I think you need to do the same with her." That's a pretty evolved opinion for someone who, not twenty minutes ago, was worried that Rayn and I were romantically involved. I'm still not sure that I'm ready for that.

"You're right. I should. That's probably not going to happen anytime soon, but you're right. She knows about you." I try switching topics and hope she goes for it.

"She knows about me? What does she know about me?" Catherine takes the bait, saving me from a conversation I'm not ready for. Too much of this emotional, let's look at Sara's screwed up psyche talk. I'm not ready to lay it all out there yet.

"Not much really. At least not much that I told her. She knows that you saw us kissing. Which, by the way, I'd like to say was a mistake and an accident." We should clear that up now. "She knows that you're straight, and you've got a daughter. And that I've fallen for you."

I'm pretty sure that's all she knows. I don't know what she talked with Warrick about, other than embarrassing stories about me that is.

"You've fallen for me?" She looks at me with probably the most self-absorbed, smug look I've ever seen.

"Yeah. Long ago. But more everyday." I can't help the big grin on my face. Even in the midst of exposing all my issues to her, it's impossible for me not be happy that it's her. That's she's really here.

"Really?" I thinks she's blushing. It's so cute. I just nod. "But she thinks I'm straight?"

"Well yeah. I mean until yesterday I did too. It's not like either of us advertise our sexuality or anything. And you were married to Eddie and dated Paul, so I just assumed you know."

"Yeah well, you dated Hank. And everyone know you have a thing for Grissom." Ow. She sounds just a little bitter about that. There's probably something to be talked about there. But not now. I can tell I'm working my way back to her good side.

"Yeah, so you can see how great my choice in men is." Now the bitterness is all mine.

Hank was an asshole. It was fun while it lasted, and for awhile he was safe. Nick stopped badgering me about hooking me up with one his friends and I had a distraction outside work. It wasn't like the relationship was really going anywhere, but I was still pissed to find out he was cheating on me. Or actually that he was cheating on Elaine with me.

Grissom. Now there is something that I will never live down. People will always assume that I still have a thing for him when I don't. I'll admit I did have a thing for him. But even I could tell he wasn't interested anymore. I know when I was in San Francisco he probably was interested. But now that I look back at it, I think my unavailability made him more willing to consider it a possibility. When I came here and started working for him, that pretty much took care of any romantic inclination he may have had. I can be persistent though, and I gave it one last try and asked him out. The rejection wasn't really all that unexpected. Still hurt, though.

"Glad to see you have better taste in women." She's a little cocky now.

"Well, we'll find out won't we? So far my choices in women have been about as good as men. I hoping to change that." I'll appeal to her vanity if it helps me get back on her good side. I can't help but laugh a little. It's not really funny, but it breaks the last bit of tension between us. This emotional talking is draining and now that we've at least cleared up the thing with Rayn, I think I've had enough for today.

"Oh you think you're so funny." But she's laughing too.

"I have my moments." The silence that follows is a comfortable silence. I know that I've given Catherine more than enough to think about today. I get up to head inside. "I'm going to grab my juice. You want anything?"

"Nah. Thanks though."

On my way to the kitchen I stop and check my machine. I've got six messages. I'd bet next weeks salary that at least four of those are from Grissom. The others are probably from Rayn. I don't bother to listen to the messages, I just grab my juice and drink what's left in the glass before filling up again and going back to Catherine.

When I get back outside Catherine has moved to the edge of the balcony and is leaning over the railing. I've got a very nice view of her backside. I lean back against the doorway and admire the scenery. I'm not sure when she realizes I'm there, but I'm certain she notices long before she says anything.

"You've got a nice view from here." If she's actually talking about the view of the city I'd be surprised.

"Uh-huh." I don't say anything else and she eventually turns to face me. I don't even bother to try to suppress the grin on my face. There is something to be said for this time of day. Seeing Catherine with the sun dancing through her hair, bringing out the red that usually hides discretely behind the blond. Beautiful.

Catherine stays at the edge of the balcony as she asks, "What are you thinking right now?"

"I was just thinking about how beautiful you are." I set my glass down and walk over to her, placing my palm against her cheek. "How the morning sun brings out the color in your hair."

I am so grateful that she's still here. I'm sure I gave her enough reason to walk out and never look back. After all, we've only shared a few kisses and few light touches. I've got enough hidden demons to make any sane person run for the hills. And so far, we've only talked about one of them. But she's still here.

"And now?" She asks me looking concerned. "Tell me what you were thinking right then."

"I was just thinking about how glad I am that you're still here. That you still want to be here." My voice is low and intimate. There isn't anyone else around to hear, but that doesn't stop me from whispering.

"Sara," She looks into my eyes, searching for something. "The only place I've wanted to be for a long time is here. And I'm not leaving anytime soon." And with those gentle words she wraps her arms around me and leans forward for a kiss.

Part 13

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