DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Though I wouldn't mind.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Late season four onwards.

Winds of Change
By Wingsfan

Chapter 13

By the time Catherine arrived at the lab she had calmed down considerably. The other woman's behavior worried her, but she knew not to push further until Sara was ready. After stopping by the locker room, Catherine headed to the break room for assignments.

"Hey Warrick," she said to her co-worker as she sat down at the table.

"Hey. You look horrible, Lindsey keeping you running in circles?" he joked.

"I wish. She's having fun watching Rugrats at my sister's place today."

"Well at least she's not out wasting time at the mall or anything," Warrick told her. "She's what, 12? She's got years to go before you need to worry."

"That's true, but it won't be long, and I am not looking forward to it," she rolled her eyes at the thought of her little angel growing up.

His laughter at her refusal to accept the inevitable was cut short by the appearance of Grissom. The man looked agitated, and Catherine concluded it might have a lot to do with the growing pile of paperwork on his desk.

"Catherine, DB at Henderson and take Warrick with you. If you need more help, give me a call," Grissom said curtly.

"Where's Nick and Sara?" Catherine's curiosity got the better of her.

"Sara's working on a missing persons and Nick should be on his way there as well. Now I suggest you get going," Grissom said to the pair before going back to his office.

"What crawled up his ass today?" Warrick asked Catherine as they walked toward their Tahoes.

"Maybe one of his pet spiders," Catherine deadpanned.

"Thanks Catherine, for putting that horrifying image in my head," the man winced when the image made its way into his conscious mind.

"Ask and you shall receive."

Shift was over by the time Catherine and Warrick had finished processing the evidence. For once the locker room was busy with people, yet there was no sign of Sara. Her look of disappointment was not missed by her co-worker as he made his way over to her in no time.

"What a day, huh?"

"Yeah." Her tone told him that was the end of the conversation, but he knew her well enough to know his limits, so he pushed further.

"I'm not talking about work, though something is definitely fishy today," Warrick said to her.

"Just tired, War," she shrugged to deter his further questioning.

"All right, call me if you need anything, ok? Anytime at all," he locked eyes with her, not missing the concern in her eyes.

"I'll be fine but thanks for offering," Catherine smiled weakly.

Hurrying out of the building quickly, the blonde was too engrossed in her thoughts to notice the silver sports car parked next to her Tahoe. The driver exited the car and walked toward Catherine, frowning when he realized she had not noticed him.

"Hey gorgeous."

The familiar voice cut through the fog in Catherine's mind, and she looked up to see Chris smiling at her.

"Hey," she did not bother to hide the disappointment in her voice.

"What's wrong?" the nightclub manager picked up on her mood instantly. "Everything ok?"

"Yeah, just a little tired."

"I'm sure that's something I can remedy. Breakfast?" he smiled for good measure, snaking his arms around Catherine's waist and leaned in for a kiss.

When she broke the kiss, Catherine barely caught sight of a tall figure hurrying into the building. As the sports car pulled out of the parking lot, she noticed Sara's Tahoe parked not too far away from hers. Realizing that the tall figure was Sara, she had the sudden urge to go back to the lab and talk to the brunette. She was tired, and it was not because of the shift that had just ended.

"We're here," he announced, shaking her shoulders lightly to wake her up.

"Huh? You know what, Chris? I'm really tired, maybe we can do this some other time?"

His smile faltered a little, but he was determined to spend some time with her.

"I know you're tired, but you need food. Tell you what, we'll grab a quick bite then I'll take you home, ok?"

She heard what he was saying. Have breakfast, followed by a quick roll in the hay. It was a routine they had perfected since the day they met. Time was scarce and they were tired of overtures. But all of it seemed mundane to her right now.

"All right," she said softly, knowing that he would not give up until he had things his way. Besides, she needed something to take her mind off all thoughts of Sara.

"Hey Sara, wait up!" Warrick ran out of the break room when he saw the brunette.

Sara, who just exited Greg's lab, walked toward her co-worker.

"What's up, Warrick?"

"You clocking out?" he asked her.

"In a bit, yeah. You?"

"Yup. Listen, Nick and I are going for a drink. Wanna join us?" he knew the odds of the brunette agreeing to go was slim, but still he tried.

"Sure, but I'm gonna have to meet you guys there. I'm suppose to go pick my car up from the mechanic in a bit," Sara told him.

"Ok, I'll give you a call once we decide where to go. What's wrong with your car? Didn't you just bought it last year?" He hid his surprise well, masking them with questions instead.

"Just routine maintenance," she said.

"Hey you need a ride there?" Warrick asked.

"Nah I'll be fine." Taking a look at her watch, she realized she had little time left if she wanted to show up at the workshop in time. "I better go."

"All right. See you later."

He went back to the break room, and the only occupant in it looked at him.

"She coming with us?" Nick asked hopefully.

"Yeah, but she's going to pick her car up first from the mechanic."

"What was wrong with her car?"

"Just scheduled maintenance." Warrick shrugged. "I'm suppose to call her once we decide where we're going. So, any ideas?"

"I was thinking the one we went the last time to celebrate my birthday."

"The sports bar?"

"Yup," the Texan nodded his head.

"Fine by me," Warrick said as he got up from his seat. "I'll call Sara from the car."

"You guys want another round?" Sara asked her two co-workers as she got up from her seat.

"Nah, I'm good for now," Warrick held his beer bottle up to show her.

"I'll go with you," the Texan stood and followed her to the bar.

He understood Nick's actions, so Warrick sat back and enjoyed his beer while Nick tried to smooth over the feathers with Sara. Warrick of course had heard of the whole job promotion fiasco through the grapevine but he didn't want to agitate either one by bringing it up.

"Two please," Sara held the beer bottle up to the bartender. When the bartender came back with their drinks, she stopped Nick when he reached for his wallet. "I'll get this round. You get the next, ok?"

"All right." He knew better not to argue with her, so he let her pay for the drinks.

Chapter 14

Conversation was scarce between the two as Sara was more interested in the drink in her hands than the Texan standing next to her. After watching her down her third shot of the hour, he decided to try to have a conversation with her again. This time, he chose a neutral topic instead.

"So, what was wrong with your car?"

"The usual maintenance routine. Check oil levels, filters, brakes, the whole works," Sara recited the list her mechanic had given her.

"You know, I wondered why you chose to buy an SUV," he asked truthfully.

"Because I like the design. Plus it's practical. I didn't want a truck because it was too big but this...this is the perfect size."

"I hear ya. Sometimes I have a hard time fitting my equipment into my car," Nick nodded his head in agreement.

"Yeah, plus the gas mileage isn't that bad too so I figured why not," she smiled a little. "Come on, let's go back to the table before Warrick sends a search party out to look for the two of us."

He wanted to talk to her more, but he also knew that conversation had to be saved for another time. Following closely behind, Nick looked around in time to see a few people had their eyes on his female co-worker. Their gaze left no imagination as to what their intentions were. Tapping her shoulder to get her attention, they were halfway to their table when he leaned in close to her.

"Looks like you've caught a few pairs of eyes around here, Sara."

"What? What are you talking about, Nick?" Clueless, she looked around and realized a few smiles were directed her way, including a young blonde woman sitting at the bar. A surprised look was all she could form as a response.

Chuckling softly at her reaction, Nick gently nudged her along back to their table. Seeing the blush slowly coloring her cheeks, his chuckles soon turned into a full-blown grin.

"What did I miss?" Warrick turned to Nick when he realized Sara made no move to answer.

"Nothing," she spoke quickly.

"Yeah right," Nick teased her. "Our Sara here has got admirers."

"Oh, you're talking about the blonde at the bar and the guy in the suit at the corner?" Warrick said nonchalantly.

"Whoa, wait a minute. You knew and you didn't point it out?" Nick was a little surprised.

"Of course. I'm an investigator, Nick. I get paid to observe things," he took a drag of his beer before continuing. "And by the looks of it, the blonde is definitely enjoying the view much more than the rest of the crowd."

As if on cue, the young blonde got up from her seat and was heading toward their table. Both men held their tongue, waiting anxiously to see how the scenario will play out. Sara, on the other hand, was fervently praying that a hole would open up soon and engulf her. Anything to prevent the impending awkward moment.

The blonde stood at their table, smiling at the trio and dropped a napkin on the table and left without saying a word. Instantly the two men shared a knowing smile.

"So you gonna call her?" Warrick watched her closely as he tried to gauge her reaction.

"Of course not," she replied a little too quickly.

"Not your type?" he teased further, wincing slightly when he felt a jab on his arm from Nick. "What was that for, Stokes? Don't tell me you're not curious."

"I am, but that doesn't mean I'll ask her. It's not polite," Nick had a feeling the brunette sitting next to him would not appreciate her life being discussed like that.

"C'mon, Sara, tell us. Is she your type?"

"No she's not. Too young," she mumbled softly, then mentally slapping herself when she realized she had spoken out loud. Gotta stop drinking, she told herself.

"Wait, what did you say? Too young?"

Sara's groan of protest went unheard as the two men broke out in laughter at the same time. She hid her flushed cheeks behind her hands, refusing to meet her co-worker's gaze despite their urgings.

"I'm never gonna hear the end of this, am I?" she asked. "If Greg gets a wind of what happened here..."

"We won't tell a soul," Nick was quick to reassure her. Now that they were on talking terms, he didn't want to do anything that might jeopardize that. "Scout's honor."

Time passed by quickly as the teasing subsided and they continued drinking. Polite conversation replaced the earlier tension, and all three CSIs were ready to call it a night. After settling their tabs, they headed back to the parking lot to collect their cars.

"I'm really glad you got the recommendation, Nick," Sara told the Texan when they were alone.

"See, that wasn't so hard, was it?" he said softly. He knew he shouldn't flaunt, but he needed her to understand the world doesn't stop if she didn't have things her way at work.

Instead of replying, Sara walked away. Her mind was on a constant replay, repeating Nick's words over and over again. She barely remembered getting into her SUV and driving away. His words were like salt to an old wound, and she could not help but feel hurt by it.

Tears were trickling down her cheeks as she drove. Never had she felt so betrayed before and the past four year's events were pulling her down fast. Stopping at the red light, she wiped away the tears, grateful that she had forgone with the makeup that day.

Sara knew with her current mental and physical state she was in no position to drive but for once she didn't care. She was tired of always being the responsible one and she was tired of shouldering the world on her shoulders. A flash of blue and red lights caught her attention, and in her inebriated state she knew what was going to happen next.

"I'm sorry, officer, it won't happen again," was her words to the officer who pulled her over. Sara knew he would have no choice but to call her supervisor but Grissom was the last person she wanted to see at the moment. Next to Catherine, that is.

"Wait here while your supervisor come get you ok, Miss Sidle?" the officer's words registered, and she nodded her reply.

Inwardly she cursed at herself for losing control like that, knowing that it was just another failure on her part. Sighing, she failed to notice Grissom's presence in the waiting room. He sat down quietly next to her and making up his mind, he held her hand in his.

"Come on, I'll drive you home," he said softly.

It was only then that Sara pulled her hand away from Grissom, standing up from her seat quietly. Their hands fitted perfectly, but it was not his hands that she wanted to feel. No, the hand that she desired belonged to someone else. The drive to her apartment was eerily silent, neither CSI ready to discuss what had happened earlier.

Chapter 15

"Thanks," Sara mumbled to Grissom when the car came to a stop in front of her apartment building. She climbed out of the car quickly but stopped when she realized that the man had killed the engine and followed her up the stairs. "You don't have to do this, Gil."

He winced when he heard her use his first name, but he hid it well. Without saying a word, he held the door open, silently beckoning her over. Letting out a defeated sigh, she walked up to her apartment and opened the door.

Sara directed him to the living room while she went to the kitchen to make coffee. She could feel his eyes following her every move, and she chose to ignore the pang of anger coursing through her blood at the moment.

"I'll be fine, Gris, you don't have to babysit me," she said defensively.

"It's obvious you're not, Sara. Please, let me help."

"Remember what I told you a long time ago?" When she saw the confused look on his face, she continued. "When you had finally figured it out, it would be too late."

He didn't know what else to say, so he sat there in silence instead.


"No, Gil, I said you're too late so no point trying to do damage control now," she managed to get those words out without hitting the man. "I think it's better if you leave."

"Please, let me help." He was never one to plead, but it pained him to see her hurting like that and know that there was nothing he could do to help. Still he tried, knowing all too well the brunette's stubborn streak.

"I know you mean well, but right now I don't want to talk about it. And definitely not with you," she said dejectedly.

"I understand," he nodded his head. "But whenever you want to talk, I'm there, ok?"

She smiled for the first time since he picked her up from the police station, feeling some of the tension leave her shoulders. He took that as his cue to leave, and as he stood at the threshold, he returned her smile with one of his own.

Walking toward his car, Grissom fished out his cell phone from his coat pocket and dialed a familiar number. He knew the person on the other line would be the one to get through the Sara.

"It's me, Grissom." He waited for the speaker to finish before continuing, "I need a favor."

The speaker must have heard the pleading in his voice, because a small grin appeared on his lips.

"I need you to check up on Sara."

"You want me to what?" Catherine practically yelled into the phone.

"Look, what I'm about to say is between you and me, ok? No repeating to a third party."

"Who do you think I am, a kid? Just spit it out, Gil," she said.

"Sara got pulled over by uniforms earlier and got herself a DUI. Since procedure dictates that the supervisor be called..." he left the sentence unspoken.

"She's a big girl, Gil, she can take care of herself." Catherine was already dressing at this point, mentally calculating how long it will take to get to Sara's apartment without breaking any traffic laws.

"I know she is but right now I think she needs someone to be by her side." It hurt to finally say it out loud, to acknowledge that he was too late but he knew he never really stood a chance.

Finally giving in, the blonde promised to stop by Sara's place, even though she would have gone without Grissom's prompting. Sara lived across town and it would take Catherine at least twenty minutes on a good day to get to her place. She made it in ten.

"Sara, it's me." Catherine tried her best not to shout, but the passing minutes did nothing to calm her nerves. Knocking louder this time, she raised her voice a little. "I know you're in there, open the door."

Minutes passed and still no answer. At this point the blonde was near tears, her investigator mind doing nothing to qualm her fears. Thousands of possibilities surfaced, but the image of Sara passed out in her apartment stuck in her conscious mind. She was contemplating knocking down the door when she heard footsteps behind her.

"Catherine?" A puzzled Sara stood three feet away from her, a sheen of sweat glistening her skin.

Moving so fast that she would have put Marion Jones and her fellow sprinters to shame, Catherine engulfed the younger woman in a hug. When she felt Sara stiffen, her arms tightened around slim waist, determined to not let the brunette go.

"Uh Cath," she nudged gently. "What are you doing here?"

Not bothering with an answer, she buried her head on Sara's shoulder instead. She blinked back the tears that threatened to fall, swallowing the lump in her throat at the same time. Not knowing what to do, Sara rested her arms on Catherine's shoulders.

"Cath, you're scaring me. Is everything ok? Did something happen to Lindsey?" Sara was confused with her co-worker's behavior, even though she was enjoying the other woman's proximity.

Her sudden urge to hold the brunette in her arms satisfied, Catherine pulled out of the embrace slowly, clearing her head in the process. All she could feel was Sara's arms on her shoulders and how well they both fit together in an embrace but she quickly pushed those thoughts away.

"They're fine," she said, shaking away the fog in her head. "I... I was worried about you."

"Come on, let's go inside," Sara guided the other woman into her apartment. A little voice inside her head told her that it was Grissom's doing, and she had to suppress the pang of disappointment that followed. "Coffee?"

The blonde nodded her head in agreement, watching her co-

worker move gracefully in her kitchen. She had never seen the other woman so relaxed before, and for a brief moment she wondered if the tension at work was a direct result of her animosity toward the young woman.

"The coffee should be ready in five. I'm gonna go jump into the showers real quick," Sara told her co-worker.

Catherine took the chance to take a good look at the apartment. Warm colors rainbowed the place, with photos displayed along the walls. There were some photos of Sara when she was a kid but none of them when she was older.

"So why are you here?" Sara's voice startled Catherine, and she nearly jumped up when she turned around and realize just how close they stood to each other.

"Jesus, you walk like a ghost," Catherine tried to catch her breath, blushing because the other woman had caught her snooping around.

"No I don't. You were too engrossed in the photos," the brunette challenged. Under other circumstances she would have been angry at the blonde for prying into her life like that, but seeing the blush on Catherine's face more than made up for it.

"Let's move this to the couch. I have a feeling you will need it."

Part 16

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