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 4

Two hours and three cups of coffee later, Sara showed up at the lab feeling refreshed. Glad that none of her colleagues were around to question her about Susan, she headed to the evidence room to start working on her case.

Ever since the fallout from the Julie Waters case, Sara had kept her distance not only from Catherine but the team in general. Invitations to breakfast after shift were turned down, but none of the CSIs had noticed that the brunette was slowly drifting away from them. It was business as usual for the graveyard shift. High profile cases which brought the Sheriff breathing down their necks notwithstanding, everything was back to normal with the CSIs.

Shift was painstakingly slow tonight, and as Nick and Warrick both worked on a murder in Henderson, Sara was confined in the lab running tests and processing the evidence the two men had brought back. When she realized that shift was over, Sara let out a sigh of relief. She loved her job, but sometimes the paperwork bored her.

"Grissom, I just finished processing the vic's sheets. Greg should have something by the start of next shift," Sara told her boss as she stood at the doorway of his office.

"I know tomorrow's your day off..." Before her could continue, Sara cut him off.

"No Gris, I'm not coming in," Sara told him firmly. "I'm beat and I need to rest."

The man blinked when he heard her last remark.

"Does this have anything to do with the incident at the parking lot?" Grissom asked pointedly.

"It has *nothing* to do with what happened yesterday." Sara felt her anger rising a little, her fingers clenching into fists reflexively. "I was just having a talk with an old friend at the parking lot. After shift, I might add."

He heard what she was saying, but he also heard the silent message. She made it clear that she did not want him prying into her personal life. Once again he had undermined her judgment, and now he was paying for making wrong assumptions. Grissom of course had heard from the grapevine that a bouquet of flowers were sent to Sara yesterday, followed by a visit from a beautiful blonde later that morning at the parking lot.

Truth be told, Grissom did not know how to act around Sara. Her likeliness to him perked his curiosity, but he knew there was always something holding her back. For a fleeting moment he wondered if the blonde friend was the reason. He watched her retreating figure, trying to make sense of what had just transpired in his office moments earlier.

After she had left Grissom's office, Sara felt a weight had been lifted off her shoulders. For years she had pined for the man, but all her advances fell short and she had stopped trying. A part of her knew he meant no harm, but a big part of her resented the fact that he assumed that she would allow her personal life be mingled with her work.

When she got home, Sara was beyond exhaustion. She didn't even bother with breakfast before changing into a tank top and boxer shorts and hopped into bed. Sleep came almost instantly, and her body relaxed into the slumber.

Hours later, when her body has had enough rest and her mind had calmed down, Sara woke up from the sleep feeling refreshed. Seeing it was almost time to meet Susan, Sara took her time getting ready. Laying out her clothes on the bed, Sara mentally calculated how much time she had before she had to leave the apartment.

Driving to the hotel, Sara let her mind drift to the blonde. She had four years to forget her, but a certain blonde CSI made it almost impossible to do that. Everything about Catherine reminded her of Susan and the blonde CSI's initial hostility toward her did nothing to distinguish the animosity between the two CSIs. Just as she was about to pull into a parking spot, Sara's cell phone rang.


"Sara, it's me, Susan."

"Hey, I'm just parking my car. I should be there in about five minutes," Sara told the blonde when she heard the nervous voice on the other end of the line.

"Ok, I was just going downstairs myself. See you in a bit then."

True to form, Sara met up with the blonde at the hotel lobby. Susan closed in on their distance and encircled her arms on Sara's waist. All eyes focused on the two women as they embraced in an awkward hug. Sara had no choice but to return the hug, quickly pulling away when she felt the blonde's lips on her skin.

"Uh Susan?" Sara pushed the woman away gently.

"Sorry, I forgot that you're taken," the blonde's tone said otherwise. "She's cool with just the two of us having dinner?"

"Catherine trusts me," Sara lied. "Besides, she knows that I will never cheat on her."

"Don't be too sure about her," Susan mumbled under her breath. "Shall we?"

When the two women stepped into the restaurant all chatter stopped at that moment. Appreciative glances from both men and women were more than enough to make Sara blush. She had chosen a dark red v-neck top and her black leather pants to wear that night, with her knee-length leather coat to cap off the look. Susan on the other hand had chosen to wear a sky blue halter top with a pair of silk slacks. Both women were a sight to behold.

Conversation was strained during dinner as Sara avoided all topics pertaining to relationships. Many times Susan tried to get Sara to talk about their past, but the brunette had sidestepped the topic with talks about her work as a CSI. Finally Susan gave in and asked the question she had wanted to ask all along.

"So this Catherine..."

"What about her?" Sara asked defensively.

"Tell me more about her. How you two met and all that."

"There isn't much to tell," the brunette didn't want to lie, but she knew her friend would not stop until she told her something.

"Sure there is. I mean she did manage to get you to play house with her, there's got to be a story behind that," Susan said simply as she sipped on the glass of wine.

"We work together, one thing led to another, and here we are now." Sara kept the details to a minimal, hoping it would be more than enough to quench the other woman's curiosity.

"Oh come on, Sara. You sound like a newspaper article. Less is more will not work here," Susan pushed further.

"What do you want to know? What we do when we're in the showers?" Sara felt her anger rising, and she quickly took a sip of water to cool herself down.

"Don't need those, I've got first hand experience."

"I've had enough," Sara said abruptly. "Enjoy the rest of your meal, and don't ever call me again."

"Sara, wait," the blonde placed a hand on Sara's wrist to stop her. "Please stay."

"Why should I?"

"Because I've got something here that might interest you," Susan brought out an envelope to show Sara.

Chapter 5

"If this is your way of telling me that you want me back, it's not working," Sara spat out.

"First of all, I must apologize," Susan began. "I did this at first out of sheer jealousy. I saw how comfortable you both were and I was curious as to who this woman was so I had someone check on her."

"You spied on Catherine?"

"I just wanted to know who she was and what was so special about her that had you so smitten," the blonde said in a quiet voice.

The two women held their tongue as the waiter came back with the check. Seizing that opportunity, Sara stood up and headed toward the exit, leaving Susan to catch up with her.

"Sara, wait."

"I don't want to talk to you, Susan. As far as I know, you were never here," Sara said in between clenched teeth.

"Just take a look at the pictures, Sara." Susan shoved the envelope into Sara's hands. "Ask yourself, do you trust her?"

"Completely, which is more than what I can say about you," Sara said coldly.

"Ok, I was asking for that," Susan said in defeat. "Look, you deserve someone who loves you, who would do anything for you. Not someone who uses you."

"And you think by hiring some goon to follow Catherine around and snap some pictures, I would come running back to you?"

"This isn't about me!" Susan raised her voice. "Just take a look at them, would you?"

Grabbing the envelope from Sara's hands, Susan emptied the contents and showed it to the brunette.

"This is what I'm talking about!" she said hotly. "She's been cheating on you, Sara. With a man. Open your eyes and smell the lies!"

When she saw the first picture, Sara had to look away. She didn't feel comfortable seeing pictures of her co-worker in an intimate position with someone else, so she took the pictures and put them back in the envelope.

"Just drop it, Susan," Sara told the blonde as she walked out of the hotel.

Susan, mistaken Sara's discomfort as refusal to accept her lover's infidelity, was following right behind.

"Sara," Susan called after her friend.

"I meant it, Susan. Just drop it," the brunette warned. "And stay away from Catherine and Lindsey. If I so much as hear that you're near them I will report it to the police."

The warning tone would have been enough to deter Susan, but something in her snapped. It was the sight of the woman walking toward them.

"Everything ok here?" Catherine eyed the two suspiciously.

"Yeah, we're fine. Susan was just walking me to my car," Sara shot a glare at her friend to dare her to say otherwise.

Never one to back down from a challenge, Susan ignored the glares sent her way.

"Actually, we were talking when Sara decided to leave."

"What are you doing here, Catherine?" Sara asked her co-worker in an attempt to change the subject.

"Crime scene on the 12th floor. Murder central," Catherine joked lightly to ease the tension.

"And here I thought you came to check up on Sara," Susan said sarcastically.

Shooting a glare at the woman to warn her, Sara continued. "Huh, interesting. Where are the others? Or are you alone on this?"

"Well Grissom was working with me on this but as soon as he heard Nick found some bugs near the DB he was working on..."

The two CSIs laughed softly at the image of Grissom racing across town for bugs, much to the puzzlement of Susan. After the laughter had subsided, the three women traded uneasy glances.

"So you headed back to the lab?" Sara spoke up.

"Yeah, I rode here with Gris earlier so I'm stranded."

"I'll take you to the lab, I was just leaving anyway," Sara told her co-worker.

"Sara..." Susan saw that as her cue to speak up.

"I'll give you a call," the brunette turned to face her friend. "It was nice seeing you again, Sue."

Mindful of the envelope in her coat pocket, Sara made sure that Catherine would not see it. Driving was a silent affair as Sara concentrated on getting the woman next to her back to the lab safely, while Catherine was contemplating whether to ask the brunette about the dinner.

"I'm sorry."

It took a while for Catherine to realize that the brunette was talking to her.

"For what?" she was confused.

"For dragging you into this mess."

"Sara, don't apologize. You didn't put a gun to my head and ask me to help you, did you?" At the shake of the brunette's head, Catherine continued. "I came over yesterday because I wanted to help you. Besides, being mistaken that I'm with you is way better than being mistaken that I'm with Grissom. At least people know I have good taste."

Wincing at the image the blonde's words had conjured up, Sara let out a small laugh.

"Better?" Catherine asked when the laugh was replaced by a sigh.

"I'm ok," Sara reassured herself out loud.

"Well then you must look better than you feel," Catherine pointed it out.

For the first time that night, Catherine took a good look at the woman sitting next to her. Jet-black hair blown straight with just a hint of makeup, coupled with a simple top, a pair of leather pants and a leather coat, Sara was simply gorgeous.

"Oh don't look at me like I'm a ghost, Sara. You do look gorgeous tonight," Catherine stated simply when she saw the blush creeping up Sara's cheek.

"I uh...I mean...I..." Sara stammered for a reply.

"I call it like I see it and you, Sara, are breathtaking. If I were into women right now you'd be first on my list," Catherine added the last part as an afterthought.

"Erm thanks, I guess," Sara didn't know how to reply, so she did the courteous thing instead.

"Relax, I'm sure Susan won't bother you anymore after you practically gave her the cold shoulder."

"You don't know Susan like I do. She can be persistent if she wants to," Sara told the woman.

"Must be how she got you." The words flew out of her mouth even before Catherine had realized she had said it.

"Yeah, I'm real easy," Sara felt her anger slowly rising, but once again her cool demeanor showed otherwise.

"Sara, that's not what I meant," Catherine tried to correct the mistake. "I just meant that..."

"Sorry, Catherine. I just...I guess the dinner drained me out," the brunette apologized to her co-worker.

"We all have one of those days, don't worry about it."

The car came to a stop in from of the CSI building, and Catherine turned to face Sara.

"Thanks for the ride," she told Sara.

"Thanks for bailing me out yet again back there," Sara countered.

"I'll see you tomorrow," Catherine said.

In an uncharacteristic move, Catherine leaned closer to the brunette and held her in a loose hug.

"You looked like you could use a hug," the blonde offered. "Always works with Lindsey."

"Thanks, Mom," Sara teased Catherine.

"Hey you dropped something," Catherine told Sara as she bent down to pick up the white envelope from the car floor.


Chapter 6

The envelope was open, the content was visible. On the top of the pile was a shot of Catherine getting into a silver sports car. The blonde was shocked to see her as the subject of the pictures. Her curiosity got the better of her as she filed through the first few photos.

"You were following me?" Catherine yelled.

"No." Sara remained calm, not wanting to agitate the woman any further.

It didn't take long for Catherine to put the pieces together.


"I'm sorry," was all Sara offered. "I promise I didn't go through them. She showed me one but I put them all back in the envelope before she could show me more."

Catherine was fuming at this point. She was beyond pissed at the blonde for intruding, and her mind was doing its best to fuel her with vengeful thoughts.

"I'm sorry," Sara repeated. "I'm sorry that Susan intruded into your life and I'm sorry for getting you into this mess."

The blonde turned around so fast her neck strained from the sudden movement. Whatever anger she had felt toward the other blonde was nothing compared to the guilt pouring out from Sara.

"Sara, look at me," Catherine moved closer to the brunette. "I'm only going to say this one more time. This is not your fault, and you never once force me to lend you a hand. I volunteered, on my own free will."

"Look, I'm not gonna pretend that this never happened, but what I'd like for the both of us to do is to get past this. Every time we fight something of the past is always brought up and frankly speaking I'm sick of fighting."

"I'm sick of fighting too," Sara echoed her words.

"All right, now that that's settled, I really need to get back to the lab," Catherine said as she lifted her kit. "You gonna be ok?"

"Yeah, I'll be fine. I'm really sorry..."

"Sara..." the blonde warned her.

"No more apologies, I get it," she smiled at the other woman. "Just because you forgave me doesn't mean I can't feel I'm partly to blame for it. I can't believe Susan would do such a thing."

"Love makes people do crazy things, especially when their other half is someone as special as you," Catherine said earnestly. Seeing the younger woman blush, Catherine continued. "Sara, you're a beautiful woman, and a really smart one too. Just the fact that you're still talking to her even after all that had happened tells me you're worth the hassle."

At the mention of her old flame, Sara felt her anger rising again. "What she did... I don't mind if it was me, but she had no right to do that to you."

"She doesn't have the right to do that to anybody," Catherine countered. "Look, why don't we go out for a late lunch? I don't need to pick up Linds until 4 and I can only sleep for so long."

"Sounds good, why don't you give me a call after you get up? That way we can discuss what to do then," Sara said.

Watching the blonde disappear into the building, Sara let out a sigh of relief. Her initial thought that her co-worker would go ballistic if she found out about the photos came true, but Catherine never once blamed her. Instead the woman had made every attempt to put her at ease.

Twenty minutes later, Sara arrived home to find a body slumped against her door. She walked closer to take a better look, gasping a little too loudly when she saw who it was.

"Susan?" Sara gently shook the other woman's shoulder. "Wake up, Sue."

"Sara?" came the sleepy response.

Her heart took a dip when she saw the other woman in front of her. Susan had changed her clothes, and she was now in a simple baby tee and jeans. Extending a hand to pull Susan up on her feet, Sara noticed the puffy eyes.

"Come on, let's get you inside," Sara said softly to the blonde. Gently guiding the woman to the couch, Sara patted her arm to get her attention. "Stay here, ok? I'm just going to the kitchen to get us something to drink."

When Sara came back to the living room with two cups of coffee in hand, Susan was sitting with her head tucked between her knees. Accepting the warm liquid readily, Susan took a sip to calm herself down while the brunette kept a close eye on her.

"I'm sorry," Susan said in a small voice.

"You should be," the CSI replied.

"I don't want us to fight, Sara."

Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, Sara placed her cup on the coffee table and moved closer to the blonde.

"Look, we both said some things we shouldn't have said, so let's just forget about it, ok?" the brunette told Susan. "Let bygones be bygones."

Smiling weakly at the woman sitting next to her, Susan's smile soon turned into a grin.

"What's so funny?" Sara was confused at her friend's display.

"Nothing." Seeing the challenging glance sent her way, Susan offered an explanation. "You've changed so much, Sara. If I recall correctly you practically lived in the lab when you were in San Francisco."

"I still do," the brunette answered her. "The difference now is that I have something else to look forward to."

Susan winced slightly when she heard the last remark. She shouldn't feel hurt, but she could not help it. Sara was the best thing that ever happened to her and she had given up on them easily because she wasn't ready to be out. To make things worse, Sara was willing to wait until she had muster enough courage to face the world, but she had pushed the brunette away.

"I'm glad things work out for you. You seemed...really happy," was all Susan could come up with.

"I am. The guys at work, they're like my brothers. Catherine and Lindsey, on the other hand, are the closest thing I have to a family." Sara fidgeted in her seat, and the blonde immediately caught on.

"Catherine's not your partner," Susan called on her bluff.

"What? Of course she is. I told you, we've been together for the past four years," Sara insisted.

"Sara, you're a terrible liar. Plus you always get so uncomfortable even the astronauts in the International Space Station could tell you were lying."

Smiling sheepishly, Sara knew her hoax was out in the open. A part of her was relieved that she did not have to keep lying to cover up anymore, but this meant that she would have virtually no reason to hold Catherine in her arms again.

"I'm sorry I lied to you," the brunette said after a prolonged silence.

"I know it wasn't exactly your idea," Susan told her.

"Still, I feel bad for lying to you. And Catherine..."

"And I need to apologize to her. I shouldn't have done that, get a private investigator to pry into her life like that," the woman admitted.

Deep down, Susan knew Sara was in love with the older blonde. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. One look at the way Sara looked at Catherine and it was hard for anyone to deny the attraction the brunette had for her co-worker. Catherine, on the other hand, concealed her feelings better than the brunette.

Part 7

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