DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Though I wouldn't mind.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Late season four onwards.
Winds of Change
"So?" Sara knew where the conversation was headed, but for the second time that day she was enjoying seeing the other woman so unsure of herself. It was a nice change from the professional facade that Catherine puts up at work and truth be told, Sara liked the new side of her.
"You're not making this any easier for me," the blonde pointed out.
"Making what easier?" Sara feigned ignorance.
"This," Catherine waved her hand between them to prove her point. "Me trying to talk to you."
"Well, I'm here and I'm not going anywhere soon so talk."
Catherine wrinkled her eyebrows, trying to think of the best way to approach the subject. She was so focused on trying to come up with a thing to say that she had missed the frown on Sara's face.
"Look, I don't know how to say this so I'm just going to lay it all out," Catherine began.
"Cath," the brunette cut her off. "You don't need to do this."
"Yes I do. I don't want you to waste your life away, Sara." The words came out of her mouth easily.
"I'm not wasting my life away," Sara challenged.
"No you're not. You're just drinking your future away."
"I don't have a drinking problem!" Sara raised her voice. Knowing she was fast spinning out of control, she took deep breaths to calm herself down. "I made a mistake, but I don't have a drinking problem."
"Then what is the problem? Because I'm not buying the whole 'I'm fine' routine," Catherine prodded further. "You never make mistakes, Sara and you know better than to do something like that."
"Why does it bother you so much?" the brunette asked.
"Because I've been down that road before and it's not the best place to be," Catherine said quietly.
Sara must have caught the sadness in Catherine's voice because she moved to place a comforting hand on Catherine's shoulder.
"Hey, I'm the one that's suppose to be doing the comforting here," the blonde joked.
"Well you looked like you needed it more than I do," Sara shrugged.
"Thank you," Catherine smiled a little. "So, you wanna talk about it?"
"No, not yet," she answered. "But I will, eventually."
"Whenever you need someone to talk to, I'm here, ok?"
"You know, that was exactly what Grissom told me," Sara told the other woman. "And I was two seconds away from throwing him out of this place."
Busted, Catherine thought to herself. Of course she knew Grissom called you to come check on her, she's a CSI after all.
"I know you guys are trying to help, and I'm grateful for it. But this is something I have to do on my own, ok?" Sara smiled to take the sting away.
"You don't have to do it alone, Sara. You need support and...and..." Catherine's voice trailed off. What was Sara to her? Co-worker? Friend?
Seeing the other woman struggling to get the words out, Sara took over the talking instead.
"You'll be the first person I'll come to if I need help." For the second time that day, she flashed a gap-toothed smile at her co-worker. "I know you didn't have to do this but thank you for doing it anyway."
Catherine could feel her nerves calming down a little and so she returned the smile. Unsure of how to continue, she chose to observe the woman in front of her instead.
"Stop doing that." Sara's voice brought Catherine out of her musings.
"Staring," the brunette answered calmly. "At me."
Eyes wide with her jaw slacked open, Catherine reeled in her shocked reaction on time and tried to form a coherent response but all that came out was a groan.
"Yeah, that's what I thought," Sara winked at the blonde.
"You know, for someone who's suppose to be drunk, you're pretty sober. And awfully observant," Catherine added as an afterthought.
"Sarcasm helps me get through the day and observing is what I'm paid to do," the young woman teased.
"Smartass," Catherine mumbled to herself.
The break room was eerily quiet that night as most of the CSIs were already on their way out to their crime scenes. A wave of crime had hit the town like a heat wave in the middle of July and the graveyard shift was swamped with a mountain of cases.
After witnessing the minor accident in the DNA lab, Sara decided to talk to Grissom after shift and told the man as much. Hurrying to the locker room to gather her jacket, she saw Catherine slamming her locker closed angrily.
"Hey, everything ok there?" Sara asked, approaching the other woman slowly.
Spinning around so fast she had to steady herself on the bench, Catherine let out a weak smile when she saw the brunette. Sara was only gone for three days, but from the moment the younger woman had told her that she was taking some time off, Catherine already missed her company.
"Sara, hey, welcome back," Catherine's smile got even wider when she was rewarded with a gap-toothed smile from the other woman. "How was your vacation?"
"Draining." At the blonde's confused look, Sara explained. "I didn't actually go on vacation. I went for counseling."
"Oh," Catherine said dejectedly.
Sara caught the note of disappointment in Catherine's voice and inwardly cursed at herself for causing it. Wanting desperately to make things right, she sat down on the bench next to the other woman.
"I uh, didn't call because I thought what with me gone the graveyard shift would be stuck with cases. I know you were probably busy with work, Lindsey and your boyfriend," Sara said that last part with a sliver of pain flashing in her eyes.
"Yeah," was all Catherine could muster. "Look, I better go. There's a dead body waiting for me in a hotel room."
"All right. I have one waiting for me at the desert too, so I guess I better get going as well," Sara said. The mood in the room had shifted so suddenly that she found herself at a lost. Sighing loudly, Sara walked out of the locker room and headed toward the parking lot.
The next few minutes were a blur to Catherine as her mind kept replaying her earlier conversation with Sara in the locker room. When she heard that the brunette had sought counseling she felt relieved but at the same time sad because Sara did not trust her enough to tell her that. Catherine knew she was being childish, hurt that Sara would rather go through counseling alone than seek for her support.
Parking her Tahoe next to a patrol car, Catherine flipped open her cell phone and dialed a number from speed dial.
"It's me, Catherine."
"Catherine? Is everything ok?" Sara found herself asking the same question just minutes before.
"Yeah I'm fine. Listen, I wanna apologize for my behavior in the locker room earlier," Catherine said. "I...I don't know why I acted the way I did and I can only say that I'm sorry."
"Hey, it's no big deal. It's not like you hit me or anything," Sara joked to lighten the mood.
"Are we ok?" the blonde finally asked.
"Of course we are. Why wouldn't we be?"
"I just wanted to make sure. Talk to you later?" Catherine was hopeful. Perhaps the friendship wasn't as flimsy as she had thought.
"Sure, we just got to our scene so I gotta go. Bye."
"Grissom, you got a minute?" Sara popped her head into Grissom's office but she couldn't see him.
"Erm sure, just...let me clear a place for you to sit." Grissom appeared from behind the shelves holding his pet spiders, startling the brunette.
"Ok," Sara stood in front of his desk while he moved the stacks of files on the chair to his desk.
"You wanted to talk to me?" he asked, recalling their conversation from the start of the shift.
"About your counseling?"
"Yeah." Sara took a deep breath, mentally telling herself to just talk to him. "The counselor suggested that I talk to my supervisor and that's you."
"Ok." For the first time, Grissom felt nervous just being in Sara's presence. "And what did the counselor suggest you talk to me about?"
You can do this, Sara told herself. She looked into his eyes, finding nothing but understanding there.
"I don't have a drinking problem," Sara started but she was being interrupted when they both heard yelling in the hallway.
They both got up to investigate and found a dumbfounded Greg with a lab coat on the floor and a retreating figure that looked like Chandra. He looked at Sara, then shifted his gaze to Grissom. Sara got the hint and knew that her conversation with Grissom would have to wait.
"I'll uh come in earlier tomorrow and we can finish the conversation then," Sara told the man, flashing a smile at Greg to show her support.
Sara hurried out of the hallway and headed toward her car. It was a long and tiring shift and all she wanted to do was to get home and spend the rest of the day in the tub with her stereo blaring in the background. Just as she stepped out into the Las Vegas morning sun, she saw Catherine pulling out of the parking lot. She wanted to wave, but figured the other woman would not be able to see her.
"Sara, wait up!" Nick came running toward her.
"You need something, Nick?" she asked him when he finally caught up with her.
"Wanna join us for breakfast? Warrick and I were just going to the diner down the street," he smiled.
"Nah, I think I'll take a rain check, Nick," Sara squinted a little against the blaring sunlight.
"I uh already made plans," she told him simply.
"Ok," he didn't push further, and she didn't offer any more information.
The two CSIs went their separate ways, Nick back to the lab while Sara climbed into the car and drove off. She had just enough time to go home to shower and change before going for her counseling session. She fought off the urge to call Catherine, thinking that the blonde was probably at home spending what little time she had with her daughter.
It was another draining session for the brunette, bringing up events of the past always left her feeling bare. Nonetheless she was glad to finally take some of the weight off her shoulders. Secrets and emotions buried deep in her were forced to the surface, leaving Sara no choice but to deal with them. Feeling a little better, she went home, wanting to catch a few hours of sleep before shift started again.
"Hello?" Sara managed to pick up the phone in time, dashing through the door when she heard it ring as she reached her front door.
"I'm not going in," she told the man simply.
"Don't worry, I'm not asking you to go in early."
"So what do you want?" The counseling session had drained what little patience she had and it showed in her agitated voice.
"We didn't get to finish that conversation in my office," he stated. "Is it ok if I come over later to your apartment? I have a feeling the conversation is best suited away from the office."
"Sure. Just give me a call before you come over. Gotta clear the skeletons out of the closet," Sara joked.
"Goodbye, Sara," the man ended the call.
"Go to your room!" Catherine ordered her daughter angrily.
"Whatever," the young girl answered back, her footsteps making her disagreement with the punishment known.
Slumping down on the couch, the blonde hung her head low. The arguments were fast becoming a fixture between the two Willows and Catherine did not know what to do anymore. Taking a deep breath, she got up from her seat and went into the kitchen.
"Jesus, sis, when did you get in here?" Catherine placed a hand over her heart to steady herself.
"Been here a while," the other Willows woman answered. "So what's the latest shout fest about?"
"The usual." Catherine shrugged. "Thanks for watching her, sis."
Catherine's sister waved off her thanks, offering a smile in return.
"You're doing your best to provide for this family. Besides, it's not like you're going out to have fun or anything."
The CSI froze when she heard her sister's remark. She knew she would have to come clean soon about her relationship with Chris but she wasn't sure if the man was ready to deal with her daughter.
"Some job I'm doing," she said softly.
"You're doing a great job, under the circumstances." The other woman patted her hand to reassure her. "It's puberty. Just give both of you some time to deal with it."
"I wish it was so easy," Catherine sighed.
"It is that easy, Cath. Just talk to her, listen to what she has to say."
"Yeah." She was not ready to deal with the problem and her voice showed it. "I better go. I'll call if I'm going to be late."
The other Willows woman nodded, ushering Catherine out of the kitchen and out of the front door. She climbed into her car and sped toward the nightclub that she had come to know so well the past two months. However hard she tried, her mind kept going back to Sara. She kept thinking about their conversation in the locker room and the subsequent blush that colored her cheeks when she realized Sara was just sitting inches away from her on the bench.
Sighing loudly to no one in particular, Catherine was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She desperately wanted to spend the rest of the day cuddled in someone's arms but at that moment Chris didn't seem like the perfect candidate to do just that.
Parking the car, Catherine straightened her hair and checked her makeup before climbing out of the Tahoe. The club was half-filled with clubgoers when the blonde got in. She waved to the bartender and upon recognizing who she was, he directed her toward the manager's office. Catherine smiled her thanks, and from the corner of her eye she thought she saw the man winking at her.
Opening the door, she was greeted with a soft laughter that definitely did not belong to Chris. She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the sight in front of her.
"What do you expect?" the man looked apologetic, but Catherine knew better. "I run a nightclub."
Catherine willed herself not to cry, turning on her heels and left the club. She didn't want to go back home, for she didn't want her sister and her daughter to see her in such distraught state. A face appeared in her mind, and Catherine knew where she would go.
It didn't take long for Catherine to arrive at her destination. Sitting in her car, she wondered briefly if the occupant would let her in. Shaking away all fleeting doubts that she had, Catherine locked her car and walked into the apartment building.
"Sara, it's me, Catherine. Open up," the blonde tried not to yell, but if Sara did not open the door soon she would just break down right there in the hallway.
Groaning at the interruption, Sara got out of her bed and put on her robe. When she looked through the peephole and saw strawberry blonde hair she was jerked out of her slumbering state.
"Catherine?" The confusion was evident in her voice.
"Can I come in?" Catherine managed to get the words out without bursting into tears.
Sara moved aside to let the woman in, unsure of what to do next. The blonde sat down on the couch, and so Sara followed suit. They both sat in silence for long moments before Sara realized that tears were trickling down Catherine's cheeks.
Without thinking, Sara moved closer to the other woman and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. It seemed to be the right thing to do as Catherine began sobbing even louder.
"Don't worry, I've got you," Sara soothed.
Catherine buried her head on Sara's shoulder for the second time that week, and Sara's arms went around her back instinctively. The blonde took a deep breath in between sobs, realizing just how well they fit together. For once she allowed herself to enjoy the other woman's company, not caring about the consequences.
Fingers caressed smooth back, and two arms encircled slim waist but neither woman made a move to separate any time soon. Sara felt rather than saw her robe collar drenched with Catherine's tears, and she inwardly cursed at whoever had put them there in the first place.
The brunette let out a barely audible sigh, knowing that it was going to be a long night. She looked down at the woman in her arms, silently wishing that they were doing much more. But Sara knew the truth. Catherine was straight and she would never be interested in someone like her.
Catherine chose that moment to tighten her arms around Sara's waist, and for a brief moment Sara could feel Catherine's lips on her neck. She chalked it up as her imagination, diverting her focus back on comforting the other woman. The butterflies in her stomach fluttered in full force, making it hard for Sara not to think of the blonde.
"Hey there," Sara said softly when she felt Catherine lift her head.
Wiping away the residual tears still on her cheeks, Catherine managed a weak smile.
"Thanks for the shoulder," she pointed to Sara's robe. "Oh God."
"It's washable, Cath," Sara shrugged. She stilled the movements of her hands, unsure whether to continue. "Feeling better?"
"Yeah, thanks," Catherine said. "For not turning me away."
"That's what friends do, right? Be there for each other," Sara smiled.
"Can I...that is...oh never mind," Catherine finally gave up.
"No, what? Tell me, I'll do anything to help."
"Ok, but you can say no if you don't feel like it." Seeing nothing but concern in the other woman's eyes, Catherine continued. "Is it ok if we stayed like we did just now for a while longer? I...I kinda like it."
Sara pulled the other woman closer and engulfed her in a hug as a way of answer. Truth be told, she too was enjoying their proximity.
"He was cheating on me," Catherine mumbled so softly that Sara almost missed the words.
"He's a fool," Sara replied.
"It hurts, you know," the blonde continued. "Fool me once, shame on you. But fool me twice..."
"They're fools for not noticing what a good catch you are."
"You think I'm a good catch?" Catherine's question threw Sara off the loop.
"Well yeah," Sara was confused. How can anyone not appreciate her co-worker was beyond her understanding. "You're a smart woman, Cath. Not to mention a strikingly beautiful one at that. It would be hard for anyone to know you and not love you."
"You...think I'm smart?"
"Of course I do. I think you're smarter than a barrel of drunken monkeys," Sara deadpanned.
Catherine pulled out of the embrace so fast that Sara thought she might have hit a nerve.
"A barrel of drunken monkeys, Sidle?" Catherine tried her best not to laugh, deciding to play the brunette a little.
Sara had to stifle back a groan when the other woman pulled away. She was getting used to the feel of Catherine in her arms that she felt lonely without the touch of the other woman. Mentally going over her options to smooth things out, she saw the laughter in Catherine's eyes and realized she was being played.
"Oh you're good," Sara narrowed her eyes, sending a weak glare toward the woman in front of her.
"Be still my heart, did the resident CSI genius Sara Sidle just said that I'm good?" Catherine couldn't help but tease the brunette.
"Me? Genius? Hardly," Sara shook her head.
"Admit it, you're smart. Possibly even smarter than Grissom, though the man doesn't want to admit to that."
Instead of retorting with a smart comeback, Sara opened her arms and the blonde obliged to the silent request. Catherine sighed out loud, reveling in the tsunami of comfort the simple hug has brought. Being in the other woman's company had calmed her down considerably but she was not ready to face the world just yet.
No more words were exchanged after that, both women choosing to draw comfort from their proximity. It lulled them into a sense of security, and soon Sara had a slumbering CSI in her arms. She shifted their bodies slightly, rearranging them so that they would be more comfortable on the couch.
Catherine mumbled softly when she felt her human pillow move. She found a soft spot and decided to bury her head there, not knowing that it was Sara's breast. The brunette, on the other hand, could hardly control the thoughts that were going through her mind at that moment. All of them involved her hands doing more than friendly touches.
"If you only knew," Sara whispered.
The woman sleeping in her arms stirred, prompting Sara to loosen her hold. She hoped that her words had not woken her co-worker.
"Don't go," Catherine's words were muffled by Sara's robe but Sara heard every word clearly.
She wasn't sure if the words were directed at her or the blonde was talking out loud in her sleep but she decided to play it safe. After making sure Catherine had gone back to sleep Sara moved ever so slowly out of the embrace.
"I don't want you to go, Sara." Catherine's voice belied the sleep that she was in just moments earlier. "Please."
"Ok." Sara knew there was no way out of this, so she stopped trying.
"Sara," Catherine warned the other woman when she could still feel movement underneath her.
"I'm just getting the throw to cover us, that's all."
Moments later, Catherine could feel a feather-like material covering her back. She fell asleep with a smile on her face, feeling better than she did when she walked through that door earlier.
Return to C.S.I. Fiction
Return to Main Page