DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Though I wouldn't mind.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Late season four onwards.
Winds of Change
One thing Catherine did not like about the layout of the lab was that it could be as open as a football field or it could be as confusing as a maze at times. She spent the last 20 minutes looking for Sara, checking the labs that the brunette frequently used but came up empty. Giving up, she decided to go home and try to talk to the brunette the next day.
Meanwhile in the parking lot, Sara was heading toward her car when Greg came running after her. Lucky for him, her groan of protest did not reach his ears.
"Sara, wait up!" He called out to her when he saw that she did not stop to wait for him.
Irritated and exhausted, she turned around and snapped at him. "Look Greg, can this wait? I'm really tired and I need some sleep."
"Oh, um actually I was wondering if you want to go breakfast with me but since you're tired..." his voice trailed off with just a glimmer of hope.
Taking a deep breath to calm herself down, Sara replied, "Sorry Greg. I'm exhausted. Maybe next time?"
His eyes brightened up when he heard her last remark. "I'll hold you to that."
She didn't bother with a goodbye, opting instead to wave. Her nerves still were raw, her anger boiling close to the surface. Sara knew she had to call in reinforcements this time. Flipping her phone open when the car came to a stop at a red light, she dialed for her PEAP counselor. She just knew today's session will be an extra long one.
"Hi, Lisa, this is Sara. I was wondering if you could squeeze me in for a session today? OK, thanks. See you later."
Work came almost too early, in Sara's opinion. She had at least 20 minutes left in her session with the PEAP counselor before her cell phone began to ring.
"Don't be. Work's more important," the redhead counselor told the CSI.
"But life should be as important as well," Sara repeated the words the counselor had reminded her in every session. "I'll be right back."
Stepping out of the counselor's earshot, Sara answered her cell. "Sidle."
"Sara, we need you to come in. There's an Amber Alert issued and the Sheriff wants the whole graveyard shift on the case." There was a strange detachment to Grissom's voice and it bothered Sara.
"I'll be there in 10."
When Sara turned around to face the counselor, the woman waved her off. "Remember our next appointment."
"You have my numbers if you need to talk."
She sped toward the CSI lab, her thoughts already on the case. Amber Alert meant that a kid was missing and in a city like Vegas... Sara shuddered when the possibilities floated into her conscious mind. It reminded her of a darker, deeper scar that she was carrying. Closing off that part of her nightmare for another day, she went over the steps that her PEAP counselor had taught her to calm herself down.
A flurry of activities tied her through the majority of the morning, making Sara wish she could have a clone that could do the million other things for her. She desperately wanted to talk to Catherine when she found out Lindsey had been picked up for hitch hiking but she never could ignore the call of duty. Adamant on talking to the blonde, she tracked her down at the morgue.
"Hey," came the dull reply.
"Was that Lindsey I saw running out of here a moment ago?" Sara wasn't sure if she had seen the girl. The pages of report that she had gone through the last hour made her eyes hurt.
"Oh." Sara wasn't sure how to proceed, so she said the first thing that came to mind. "You know, Cath, a morgue's no place for a kid like Lindsey."
"You don't think I know this?" Catherine snapped at her co-worker. It was as though she was given the green light to release her pent-up anger. "First Doc, now you. What kind of mother do you guys take me? I am more than capable of taking care of my daughter and I don't need any parenting advice. Especially from you!"
"Hey I was just trying to help," Sara held up her hands in mock surrender. "Guess you've got it all under control, huh? And to think I was going to offer my help."
"Shit!" Catherine muttered under her breath as she watched the brunette walk away from her. "Sara, wait!"
"I have nothing to say to you, Catherine," Sara spat out. "Certainly you wouldn't want any advice from me."
Taking a deep breath to calm her raging pulse, Catherine reached out for Sara. The contact stopped the brunette's movement, drawing her attention back to the woman beside her.
"Sara, please don't go," Catherine pleaded. "I'm sorry I was such a bitch to you. I guess I was...I...am scared out of my mind."
"I understand that but you've been nothing but a royal pain to me. Did I do something to tick you off or do you just hate me?"
Momentarily shocked by her co-worker's words, Catherine shook her head. "No, Sara, I don't hate you. I can never hate you."
"Then why do you act like you do?" Sara's voice was calming, Catherine noted in her mind.
"I don't know," the blonde answered with a sigh.
Sara walked away at that moment, Catherine doing nothing to stop her. She turned away, not wanting to let Catherine see the broken look on her face. Willing herself not to break down, Catherine had missed the trembling hands.
The two women continued to work that morning, their shift drawing to an end hours after their conversation at the morgue. Catherine was exhausted, and she needed sleep. Her mind chose at that moment to remind her how good it had felt to be asleep in Sara's arms, the warmth and the love that she felt was no doubt real.
"I don't hate you, I love you," Catherine said to herself.
"You know, doctors say the first sign of insanity is talking to yourself," Grissom's voice floated to her ears.
"I'm not in the mood, Gil," she tried to send her friend away.
"Neither am I. You need some rest. Come back in six hours. Everyone will be back at the same time." He turned and left, leaving the conversation as it is.
She sighed, that meant she would have to put talking with Sara on hold again. What she wanted was a warm body and a few hours of undisturbed sleep but her latest outburst had robbed her of that chance. Too engrossed in her thoughts, Catherine did not realize that she had driven around town for the better part of the hour.
The neighborhood looked vaguely familiar to her, and when she saw the nondescript Tahoe parked by the street up ahead, it clicked. She parked her car behind the other Tahoe, careful to make sure the other woman was indeed at home. She raised her hand halfway, hesitating before knocking on the solid wood door in front of her. She held her breath and waited.
"Yeah?" came Sara's gruffy reply.
"It's me, Catherine." She tried to hide how nervous she was but it didn't work.
One look at the blonde and Sara pulled her in without another word. Whatever nightmares, "me" problems and insomnia that she had was thrown out of the window that instant. Catherine needed her and she'd be damn if she weren't there for the blonde.
"Let's get you inside," Sara's voice was soft, the tone gentle.
The blonde in her arms did not protest, which sounded the warning bell in Sara's head. Carefully she guided Catherine to her bed. She took off the blonde's shoes but stopped after the socks.
"Catherine?" When Sara tried to move away, Catherine reached out for her. "I'm just going to get you a change of clothes. I'll be right back, ok?"
After receiving a weak nod from Catherine, Sara darted toward the chest of drawers and pulled out a t-shirt and a pair of sweat pants. She didn't want to leave the other woman alone for too long, hurrying back to her side.
"Here, these should fit you. The bathroom's over there. Do you need my help?" At Catherine's shake of the head, Sara continued. "OK, I'll be right here waiting for you."
Barely suppressing the chuckle that was threatening to burst out, Sara covered her mouth to stop herself. Under other circumstances, her words would have been taken as a come-on but in this instance, she didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Before she was allowed to explore it further, the bathroom door opened, revealing a sleepy Catherine.
"Come on, you need sleep," Sara said as she gently placed the blonde on her bed. Smoothing the covers on her, Sara flashed a smile toward Catherine, hoping that the gesture might calm the woman.
"Don't go," she heard Catherine say to her.
Without a word, the woman in bed moved over for the owner. As soon as Sara had lied down on her back, Catherine attached herself to her, half lying on top. She rested her head on Sara's shoulders, her hand resting on Sara's waist. Sara's arm went around Catherine's shoulders as though it was taking up a familiar position.
Sara wasn't sure how much time went by but she was certain that the woman in her arms was asleep. Careful not to wake Catherine up, she extricated herself from the slumbering form. Adjusting the cushion on her couch, Sara pulled the throw from the back of the couch and lied down.
In her current state of mind, Sara knew she was having a nightmare. She knew this because it was the same nightmare that has been haunting her for more than two decades. Even in her dreams Sara's scientific mind peeked through, fighting with the axis of evil for dominance.
Jumping so high she landed on the couch with a thump, Sara tried to get her bearings right. Talking to the PEAP counselor seems to have intensified the nightmares, each time more vivid and draining than the last. In the cloud of cold sweat and trembling hands, she remembered that she had a houseguest.
Quietly she got up, thanking the Gods that the other woman was a heavy sleeper. After checking on Catherine, who was at that moment clutching a pillow to her chest sound asleep, Sara headed for her bathroom.
Stripping out of her sweat soaked clothes, Sara let the water run. When it was at the right temperature, she let the cascading waterfall soothe her body. The water washed away remnants of darkness, giving her a clean slate. Just as soon as she step out of the bathroom, a shuffling noise alerted her of the woman in her bed.
"Good morning, or afternoon," she smiled at a yawning Catherine.
When Catherine had stretched and yawned enough, she saw that she was in Sara's bed. Her eyes darted toward the brunette, and an instant blush developed. There was something about Sara that just captivated her and she wanted more.
Too engrossed in drying her hair, Sara didn't see Catherine get out of bed. When she caught sight of the woman, it was too late. Luscious lips that she had dreamed of so many nights connected with hers, sending her nerves through the roof.
"Cath..." she managed to get out before Catherine's lips overtook her senses. "Cath, stop."
Like a wall of rain rushing down on her, Catherine realized what she was about to do. She took an involuntary step away from Sara, and the tears came falling. Strong arms anchored her, and she cried even harder. The feather light kisses on her head and the soothing hands on her back, however, gave her hope.
"I'm sorry." The apology was whispered through tears but Sara heard it.
"Hey, remember I said I want to be your friend," she waited for the blonde to nod. "So being a friend meant taking the good and the bad."
"I don't want to be your friend," Catherine said softly.
"Oh," Sara kept a straight face, though she felt a slight tug at her heart. Not now, she told herself.
"I want... I want to be with you," the blonde blurted out.
"You want to be with me?" Realization dawned on her. "Oh."
"You know what? Forget about it," Catherine tried to smile even though she was hurting inside.
"No, wait," Sara held on to the woman tighter. "It's not that I don't want to but..."
"But you have someone else in mind. I think I know who that person is," Catherine tried her best to keep the sting out of her voice.
"It's not that." Sara took a deep breath, thinking that she might as well show her hand now. "You know I had to go counseling, right? Together with the forced vacation."
Catherine just nodded her head; she would hold her tongue until Sara finishes with whatever she had to say. She realized that they were now sitting down on the edge of the bed but she couldn't remember how they got there in the first place.
"I'm still trying to work out my issues, and..." Sara's voice trailed off. Flashbacks of a forgotten past flickered through her conscious mind. "Sorry, where was I?"
"Sara, you don't have to tell me if you don't want to," Catherine told her co-worker.
"No, I want to. I want you so much that it hurts," Sara admitted. "I was never good at opening up to others but I want to try. I never had a reason to but now I found the only reason to."
Catherine blushed a healthy pink when she heard the words. It made her feel like 16 all over again. Young, carefree and full of hope. She reached out for Sara, their fingers entwining.
"Sara..." Tears streaked down her face again but this time, she was smiling. "That was... beautiful."
Wiping away the tears on Catherine's face, Sara stared at the woman beside her. Life etched itself on the angelic face, making their mark with hints of wrinkle. Her fingers traced an invisible path on the face she dreamt of seeing every morning when she woke up.
"We uh need to get ready. Work in an hour," she said.
Catherine didn't want to let the opportunity slip, so she leaned forward and captured the lips that she had been thinking of ever since she woke up. Soft lips caressed its counterpart, coaxing untold dreams out of the brunette. The death grip on her shoulders did not deter her, it only caused her to deepen the kiss.
"Let's go," Catherine said, out of breath and with a smug grin on her face.
"Easy for you to say," Sara mumbled as she got up from the bed.
As fate would have it, the graveyard shift was swamped with new cases the next few days, and by virtue the two women barely had time to mutter their hellos to each other. While Sara was back at the lab, Catherine was out on one of her cases.
When she walked past that mirror, she couldn't help herself. She stood in front of it, giving herself a once-over. For someone at that age, she was in good shape, Catherine thought to herself. Nothing anyone said could make her feel less than what she deserves, she reasoned with herself. Yet the little voice inside her head begged for more.
Just as Catherine's car pulled up in the parking lot, Sara walked out of the CSI building. When she recognized the blonde walking toward her, a bright smile plastered on her face.
"Hey," the one word was said with such underlying emotion that it made Catherine smile.
"Hello, gorgeous." Catherine's smile got wider when she saw Sara blush. "Oh you know it's true."
Before Sara could answer, a body appeared next to her, effectively ending their little flirt session.
"Hi Catherine." It was Sophia from day shift. "Hey Sara, ready to go?"
The expression on Sara's face caused Catherine's smile to falter. With a pang of jealousy that she didn't know she have, Catherine squared her shoulders and waited for the next move.
"Oh yeah, I was just asking Cath if she wanted to join us," Sara said quickly.
Good answer, babe, Catherine thought.
"Catherine?" Sophia asked.
"Sure. Sara, can I get a lift from you?" Catherine smiled a little for good measure.
"Of course. The usual?" Sara turned to the younger blonde.
"Yup. See you there in a few."
When Sara had secured the seat belt and started the engine, a pair of hands grabbed her face and all thoughts were lost after that. Kissing Catherine always made her head swim and this time, it was no different. When the kiss had ended and her head had cleared enough, she saw the same smug grin that she loved so much plastered on Catherine's face.
"Hi." There was a hint of tease in Catherine's voice.
"I'll say," Sara muttered as she drove them to the diner.
The two women walked into the diner standing as close to each other as possible, mindless of the stares that were directed at them. Sitting across from their counterpart in day shift, the three women relaxed into polite work chatter. Halfway into their meal, the shrill of a cell phone interrupted them. Three hands searched for purchase but it was Sophia who was summoned.
"I'll be there in 10," she said into the phone. Waving the waitress over, she asked for a box to go. "Sorry, guess we'll have to continue this some other time."
"Don't worry about it," Sara waved her off when she tried to put a few bills on the table. "You'll get it next time."
"Thanks." With that, Sophia was gone.
"It's about time," Catherine muttered under her breath, but Sara heard it.
"Oh?" Her eyes followed her blonde lover, who had moved to the seat across her. "Care to elaborate?"
"Sara," Catherine's voice was serious, laced with just a layer of shaky confidence. "We've barely had time for each other the past few days and I...I miss you."
Too stunned to say anything, Sara busied herself with the salad in front of her. She wasn't sure what to make of the last statement. She was never one to express herself so freely but she felt that was about to change.
"Sara?" Catherine's voice pierced through, followed by a soft hand caressing her fingers. "Say something, please."
"I uh I..." Sara swallowed the lump in her throat and continued. "That's the first time someone said it to me."
Before Catherine could comment, Sara's cell phone rang. Something about the way Sara corrected her posture when she realized who was on the phone irked Catherine. Must be work again, she told herself. Life was never this good to her, she chided.
"Where?" Sara was listening to directions given to her by the caller, and Catherine did her best not to eavesdrop. "OK, I'll be there in an hour."
As soon as Sara ended the call, she was met with a blinding smile from across the table. When Catherine had heard the last snippet of the phone conversation, it was all she could do not to reach over and kiss the other woman senseless.
"So how was your case?" The question brought Catherine back to earth, and she answered with a shrug. "That bad?"
"Yeah." She didn't want to say how inferior she had felt the moment she stepped into that clinic. Here with her was a woman who is young, confident and gorgeous, and to Catherine, that was the best booster she needed. "Just don't understand why these women want to defy gravity."
"Well clearly they don't have it as good as you do." Sara's answer was simple and to the point but still it managed to stop the blonde in her tracks.
"You mean that?" Catherine learned early on not to trust everything people told her.
"Of course. Why would I have said it if I didn't mean every word of it?"
"It's just...I feel as though I'm not good enough," the blonde admitted.
"We all have our demons," Sara said as she held Catherine's hand.
The little voice inside Catherine's head screamed for her to prod further but Sara's retreating hand caught her off guard.
"You ready to go?"
Knowing the moment was lost, Catherine nodded and followed the woman out of the door. Every so often she would steal a glance at the driver, oblivious to the tight grip on the steering wheel or the square of strong shoulders.
Pulling up in the lab's parking lot, Sara left the car idling. Turning toward her passenger, she tried to smile a little to chase away the tension that was in the car earlier.
"See you later?"
Catherine silently rejoiced when she heard the tinge of hope in Sara's voice. She returned the smile, making sure the other woman know her intentions.
"Count on it."
As soon as Catherine stepped out of the car, Sara let out a breath of relief. She was trying to hide the trembling in her hands yet somehow the other woman had other ideas. Driving toward her intended destination, her mind drifted back to the phone conversation.
There was something about the caller that got Sara's mind working overtime. She sensed something was about to happen and she was going to be in the middle of it all. Willing her mind to focus, she parked the car in front of an old building, her hand reaching for her sidearm reflexively. Walking into the building, she was not prepared for the sight in front of her.
"What's going on here?"
"Please take a seat, Miss Sidle, and then we can begin," a man in a crisp black suit motioned toward the makeshift conference room.
"I'm not taking one step forward until I know who are you and why do you want me here," Sara demanded, her elbow squeezing her sidearm against her body.
"You're here because we need your help. I need your help, Sara," a voice from beyond the shadows answered.
"Susan?" Sara turned to the familiar voice.
The blonde nodded and started walking toward the conference table, prompting Sara to follow suit.
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