DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Though I wouldn't mind.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Late season four onwards.
Winds of Change
"Man is it hot or what today?" Nick asked Sara as they both got out of the Tahoe.
"Won't hear me complaining about being stuck in the lab for once," she told him as they walked into the building.
"Sara, the only time you complain is when you're being shooed out of the lab," the Texan teased.
"Who's being shooed out of the lab?" A voice from behind startled them both.
"Jesus Greg, don't you ever do that again!" Sara slapped the lab tech's arm playfully.
"Ow, that hurts," Greg said, his face cringed in phantom pain.
Walking into the break room, the two CSIs had not noticed the bouquet of flowers sitting on the table in the middle of the room.
"Whoa, who are those for?" Nick's eyes went wide when the pleasant smell finally registered.
"Sara." Two pairs of eyes shot to Greg, and his grin only got wider. "There's a card."
When she had picked up her jaw from the floor, Sara moved closer to the table to inspect the bouquet of calla lillies. Shutting her eyes, she inhaled the long forgotten scent. Memories of her life in San Francisco clouded her conscious mind.
"Sara?" Nick's voice broke her thoughts, and when she opened her eyes she could see Nick fidgeting slightly next to her while Greg was grinning like an idiot. "You ok?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," Sara answered. "God I missed the flowers."
"So you gonna tell us who's been rocking your world, Sara?" Greg asked playfully.
"None of your business, Sanders. Let's go, I need you to work your charm." Nick dragged the other man out of the break room when he saw that Sara was beginning to feel uneasy with the line of questioning.
Picking up the flowers, Sara headed out of the break room, her eyes staring at the card that came with it. Just as she stepped into the hallway, she slammed into a body. Hastily she muttered an apology, and when she looked up, she met Catherine's curious gaze.
"You know, people usually read those, not stare at them," Catherine looked at the card in Sara's hand.
"I uh I..." Sara was stammering, a sure sign that the woman was nervous.
"Sara, hey, it's ok. Calm down," Catherine soothed her when she saw Sara's hand slightly trembling. "Something wrong?"
"No, everything's fine," Sara repeated. "Just fine."
"Ok." Catherine's tone told the other woman that she didn't buy it. "If you need to talk, come find me, ok?"
Not trusting her voice to work, Sara nodded her head instead and walked away. She didn't want Catherine to see the turmoil in her eyes, nor did she want Catherine to see the pain that had been simmering below the surface for four years slowly creeping out.
She found herself thinking about Catherine's offer rather than the sender of the flowers. The other woman's offer had taken her by surprise. They were co-workers, acquaintances at best. She concluded that she must've looked horrible if even Catherine had tried to reach out to her.
When she finally mustered enough courage to open the card, Sara was holding her breath as the anticipation grew.
'From an old friend - S'
She read those words again, as if doing it would somehow make the answers that she wanted appear before her. When she first spotted the flowers she knew who had sent them. There was only one person that knew of her love for calla lillies. It was the only person who ever gave them to her.
Inwardly she told herself that it was just a coincidence, for when she left San Francisco she made sure that no one had known where she was headed to, except for her parents. Putting the flowers aside, Sara chose instead to work on the evidence that she and Nick had collected from their crime scene.
Every so often she would steal a glance at the bouquet sitting in the corner of the room before focusing her attention back on the evidence in from of her. Half an hour later, Sara found herself wandering into the break room for a much needed coffee break. Her mind was working overtime, focusing on the case and the flowers at the same time and it was draining her energy.
"You ok?" Catherine's voice pierced the silence in the room.
"Huh? Yeah I'm fine," Sara answered too quickly.
"You don't look fine to me."
"Look Catherine, I told you I'm fine," came the heated reply.
"Hey, I'm just trying to help," Catherine said as she held up her hands in surrender.
"Sorry, didn't mean to be harsh," Sara winced slightly when she saw the hurt in Catherine's eyes.
"Don't worry about it. So...Hank?"
"What? Who?" Sara was thrown off the loop by the other woman's question.
"Did Hank send you those flowers?" the blonde asked.
"Oh. No, it wasn't from him," Sara was quick to dismiss that notion.
"Ok." Catherine didn't push further, and after grabbing her cup of coffee, she went back to her office.
After she had her share of caffeine, Sara went in search of Greg.
"Just the man I was looking for," she said as a way of greeting when she saw the lab tech.
"I'm not giving you the results until you tell me who sent you those flowers," Greg stood in front of Sara and crossed his arms.
"Greg..." she warned him.
Something about her tone of voice and her body language told him to drop the subject and move on, but he always had a soft spot for the brunette and he wanted to help.
"Was it from Hank?"
"Why does everyone thinks that it's from him?" Sara shouted a little too loudly.
"Sara, we're just concerned for you," he replied softly. "You know, if he comes near you, I've got a mean right hook."
Her anger dissipated when she saw Greg doing his best impression of Rocky. Chuckling softly at first, Sara was soon in fits of laughter when Greg started prancing around the lab.
"Thanks, Greg, I needed that," the brunette placed a hand on his shoulder to steady herself.
"Anytime, Sara. You know you're my number one."
"The results, Greg?" Sara changed the subject quickly.
"Give me an hour and I'll have everything for you," Greg said apologetically.
"All right. Thanks."
Four hours and endless cups of coffee later, Sara dragged her tired feet to the locker room and prepared to go home. There was nothing they could do but play the waiting game and so instead of spending her day in the lab, Sara opted to go back to her apartment.
"Yes?" Sara turned around to look at the receptionist.
"There was a visitor for you earlier," the young woman told the CSI.
"Why didn't you page me?"
"The visitor, she uh told me not to page you. Said she would wait till you come out."
"Ok." The brunette took a look around the waiting area and found no one. "I don't see anyone here."
"She just stepped out about five minutes ago when she received a phone call," the receptionist pointed toward the parking lot.
Nodding, Sara was about to leave when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Turning around, she saw Nick smiling at her.
"Wanna go for breakfast with us?" Nick asked her.
"No thanks, Nick. I want to go home and get some rest," Sara threw in a smile for good measure.
"Come on, Sara, it won't take long. An hour, tops," he assured her. "Besides, it's just the four of us."
"I'd love to, Nick, but I can barely stand on my feet, let alone eat." Sara was already on her way to the door when she threw back, "I'll see you later."
"So she's not coming," Catherine said to Nick when she saw a retreating Sara.
He shrugged his reply and followed the blonde out to the parking lot. As soon as they stepped out of the building, they were greeted with a surprise. Sara was talking to a beautiful tall blonde and she was half-shoving the bouquet of calla lillies into the blonde's hands. It didn't take a trained eye to see that the blonde was the one who sent the flowers to Sara.
Even from afar they could tell that their colleague was upset. Just as Nick was about to go check on Sara, Catherine stopped him, telling him that she would meet them at the diner. He understood her actions, and went ahead to his car. Straightening herself a little, Catherine walked toward the arguing pair.
"Hey," Catherine said softly to announce her arrival to Sara.
"Catherine." The surprise in Sara's voice was evident even to her distant friend.
"Hi, I'm Susan Carlton. You must be one of Sara's colleagues," the taller blonde extended her hand to Catherine.
"Catherine Willows. You a friend of Sara's?"
Chuckling at the older CSI's question, Susan answered, "Sara and I are more than that, aren't we?"
"That was a long time ago, Susan."
As if a lightbulb had gone off in her head, Catherine realized just what was happening. It was obvious that the two women had a relationship at some point in their lives, and if her intuition was right, Sara got hurt real bad because of the blonde. Sensing the brunette's discomfort, Catherine moved closer to her and placed a hand on her small back.
"Well it was nice meeting you, Susan, but Sara and I need to go or else we'll be late sending our daughter to school," Catherine told the other woman as she gently guided Sara toward her Tahoe.
Confused, Sara turned to Catherine, whose eyes were screaming for her to play along. Too shock to react, Sara followed her colleague's lead. The tingling sensation from where Catherine's hand rested was all she could feel.
The two women stopped in mid-stride, both turning around at the same time to face the other woman.
"Can I talk to you in private?" When she felt Catherine shooting daggers at her, she added, "I won't take too long."
"I'll wait for you in the car, sweetie," Catherine said, and as though it was a natural thing for her to do, she placed a chaste kiss on Sara's cheek.
Nodding, Sara could only watch her colleague walk toward her car. She was too stunned by the kiss, even though her cool demeanor showed otherwise.
"So... daughter, huh? Didn't know you were that domesticated."
"Yeah well things change," Sara spat out.
"I don't think she likes me, though. But then again I wouldn't too if my girlfriend's ex-girlfriend showed up one day with flowers," Susan laughed throatily.
"Let's cut to the chase, Sue. Why are you here? Why now?"
"Always aiming for the bullseye huh, Sara?" the blonde smiled. "I came to see how you're doing. And to tell you that I'll be in Vegas for a while."
"Whatever," Sara walked away, leaving a smiling blonde behind.
"Some things never change, Sara," Susan mumbled to herself.
Climbing into the Tahoe was one fuming CSI, and Catherine held her breath at the sight. Even when the brunette was angry, she still looked gorgeous. Dark brown orbs had a distinct glow to it, while pale cheeks were flushed with a shade of pink.
"God you're gorgeous when you're angry." When Catherine realized she had said it out loud, she silently berated herself for letting it slip. "Sara, I didn't mean..."
"Hey, you won't hear me complain. Come on, let's go home, sweetie." Sara's smirk turned into a full blown grin when she saw the other woman blush at the endearment.
After a long moment of silence, Catherine finally spoke up.
"So this Susan..."
"Before you ask anything, I want to thank you for what you did just now," Sara said.
"Look, Sara, I know you cherish your privacy. I wasn't trying to spy on you or anything but you looked like you could use some help back there," Catherine admitted.
Under normal circumstances, Sara would have found that to be insulting and a shouting match would ensue, but deep down she knew she could trust her co-worker, despite their differences.
"Since you risked your life for me, I feel that you should know what you got yourself into," Sara said jokingly.
"You don't have to, Sara." Catherine tried to prevent the brunette from doing something she would regret later, but Sara would have none of that.
"I know, but I want to. I know we're not exactly friends, but I'd like to change that," the brunette said.
"And telling me about your relationship with your ex-girlfriend who just happened to show up at work out of the blue is the best way to start? Boy you sure know how to pick your moments," Catherine chuckled softly.
"You know me, ever the overachiever."
Before the Tahoe was even out of the parking lot, Susan was already on the phone. Seeing Sara again made her heart flutter, but there was something about Catherine Willows that got her attention. The blonde intrigued her curiosity, and she had the urge to find out everything about the woman.
She could tell that Sara was smitten with the blonde, for the brunette's eyes never lie. They were truly windows to her soul, and it was the first thing that caught Susan's attention. When she felt Sara's gaze on her, she knew she was hooked. She was foolish enough to let the brunette go the first time, but she knew she never made a mistake twice.
"So how did you two meet?" Catherine asked Sara when the car stopped at a red light.
"Let's see, we met about six years ago. Susan was working on a story about using DNA to solve crimes and I was asked to show her around the lab."
"She's a reporter, then?"
"TV anchor for the six o'clock news," Sara corrected her co-worker. "Anyways, after the story got out, she called me and wanted to thank me for the help. Told her I was just doing my job but she wouldn't hear any of it so we went out for a drink."
"We uh started meeting for drinks more often, and before you know it, we were dating. Things were fine for a while but then we would go out less and less. Eventually I asked her about it, and she confessed that she was not ready to be out. Public face and all."
All this while, Catherine nodded her head and tried her best to pay attention to Sara while she drove. Every so often she would steal a glance at the woman sitting next to her, letting Sara know that she was listening.
"I can't say I understood her actions, but I took it in stride anyway. We'd sometimes meet in the middle of the night but more often than not I'd go over her place, only to have to leave hours after that. Six months into that, I told her it wasn't working."
"The breakup was perhaps the easiest and most painful. It was as if we never were together at all. She went on with her life, I went on with mine, but there was always a void, you know?"
"God it still feels like yesterday," Sara let out a sigh. "Two months after that, Grissom called, and it took me a whole two seconds to say yes. And the rest, well, don't need me to tell you, you were there."
"Forgive me for being blunt, and feel free to shut me up anytime, but if you were into women, what was Hank?"
"Hank was..." Sara took a moment to find the right word. "A distraction, I guess. It was never meant to last, but it still stung when I found out about Elaine."
"You were better off without him, anyway," Catherine reassured her.
"A part of me knew he was never the one, but it was nice to have someone shower that kind of attention on you, you know?"
Pulling the car up in front of Sara's apartment building, Catherine turned to face the brunette.
"I know we're not the best of friends, but any time you need someone to talk to, I'm here, ok?"
Sara fidgeted in her seat. After the whole episode with Susan, she was feeling a little bare. Years of secrecy had allowed her to shut off her life away from others, but the secrecy was shattered when Susan had sent her the flowers.
"Sara? Earth to Sara. You ok?" Catherine saw the brunette had paled slightly, and she wondered if it was something she said.
"Want to tell me what you were thinking just now?" the blonde pushed gently.
"It's nothing," Sara waved it off.
"It was obviously something if it's making you nervous. Was it something I said?"
"No, no it's not. I just..."Sara took a deep breath before continuing. "I don't feel comfortable talking about my life in front of others."
Catherine winced inwardly when she heard Sara's words. The silent implication that she wasn't a friend felt like a punch to the gut to Catherine. Still she took it all in and stood her ground.
"I meant what I said, Sara. I know we're not exactly friends, and we always butt heads over work but that's just it. It's only work," Catherine said honestly.
"A part of me knows that. But Catherine, work is my life. It might just be a job for a lot of you, but it isn't for me," Sara said quietly.
"Just make sure you don't burn out. As much as you'd like to deny, we need you here. Besides, Greg wouldn't share his forty dollars a pound coffee with us if you weren't here."
Laughing softly at the last remark, Sara replied, "Thanks Catherine, I needed that. It's your day off, right?"
"Yeah, gonna need all the sleep I can get," Catherine smiled at Sara.
"Well see you then," Sara said before getting out of the car.
"Hey baby, ready to go?" the brunette asked Catherine.
"Ready when you are," the blonde winked at her male companion. "So where are we going tonight?"
"Dinner, then I've got a surprise for you," the nightclub manager whispered into her ear.
The silver sports car sped off, and not far behind a dark blue sedan followed closely. Taking note of everything the couple did, the driver made sure to stay in the shadows. After tailing them for the better part of the night, the driver finally called it a night. He had seen enough, and now he was ready to exchange the information for a sizeable payoff.
Just as he was about to tail the blonde, something caught his attention. A brunette, to be exact, was seen embracing the blonde's male companion. Definitely not his sister, judging from the way the two were practically tearing each other's clothes off. The driver smirked, one more piece of information that will help him fatten his bank account.
A sharp shrill penetrated the silence in the bedroom, and slender fingers grazed the nightstand in search of the offending device.
"Sidle," came the raspy response.
"I didn't call at a bad time, did I?"
"Before you hang up, Sara, I just want to apologize," the blonde said quickly.
"For earlier or for the past five years?"
"That's why I'm here, Sara," Susan told her softly. "I don't want us to be strangers, like someone that you wouldn't even look twice on the streets."
"Yeah and who's fault is that?" Sara, now fully awake, spat out angrily. Taking a deep breath to calm herself down, Sara continued. "Look, I don't want to fight. Just tell me what you want."
Susan exhaled the breath she didn't know she was holding. "How about we talk over dinner tonight? We can have dinner at the Italian restaurant in my hotel."
"I'm working tonight. Besides, I need to go in early," Sara said matter-of-factly.
"Ok," was all Susan could muster.
"What about the day after tomorrow? I'm off on that day," the brunette offered when she heard the hurt in Susan's voice.
As much pain as the blonde had caused Sara, she could not bring herself to hurt the other woman. Payback and revenge were not in her nature, no matter how badly she was hurt.
"Great, I'll come pick you up then?" The blonde asked hopefully.
"I think it's best if we went there separately." The reply came out a little too harsh, and Sara was quick to add, "You know, just in case I get called into work."
"Ever the workaholic huh, Sara?" Susan couldn't help but tease the brunette. "Some things never change."
"Actually, a lot did, thanks to you no less," Sara replied a little too hotly. "Look, I need to get ready for work. I'll meet you there at 7, ok?"
"Sounds good, I'll see you tomorrow then." After a short pause, Susan added, "Sara, I..."
"I'll see you tomorrow. Bye, Susan," Sara cut her off before she could go any further and hung up.
"I'm sorry..." The words fell on deaf ears, but Susan said it anyways.
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