DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story worked out because of the altruistic help from Ann, thank you, what would I do without you?
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Karin


On your way to reception, a low and husky laugh catches your attention and, instinctively, you're drawn to the sensual sound. Subconsciously, you must've been thinking of her because the resonance of her laughter fills your body with excitement. A shiver runs along your spine, your breathing becomes somewhat irregular, and you experience the sensation of your heart skipping a beat. You try to suppress a grin, but you can't help it, you simply start to smile.

"I got one. There's no way you guys know the answer to this," Greg says enthusiastically, practically jumping up and down in his chair. His eyes widen merely because of the anticipation, and he clears his throat, asking, "Okay, before people considered him the Godfather of Soul, which sport did the late James Brown participate in to earn a living?"

Three heads turn to you in surprise when you stand in the doorway and curiously ask, "Hey guys, what's going on?"

You're immediately invited in by Catherine as she lightly taps on an empty space, indicating you can take the seat next to her. "Come sit with us. We're bombarding each other with sport questions. Well, just as long as a question is raised that the other two don't know the answer to, that is," the strawberry blonde investigator hurriedly explains.

"Why would you do such a thing?" you reply in wonder.

"Because our fitness level is being challenged by this one here." Catherine answers, pointing her finger to the person whose laughter lured you to the break room in the first place.

You're even more intrigued by this explanation, and you react curiously, questioning, "What happens if you lose?"

"Then the so-called losers have to carry out a sport related assignment," Catherine responds with a chuckle.

Listening to the banter, Greg finally loses his patience. "Oh, come on. What's with all the questions? Stop it, this is supposed to be fun," he interrupts, teasing, "So, you want in, or, are you too scared?"

You look at him sideways, weighing your options fast and carefully. You're painfully aware of the lousy shape you're in, but you don't want the others to think you're too afraid to take on this contest, so you half heartedly give in, and an intense gaze from across the room practically makes you blush.

"Okay, guys, who knows the answer to the James Brown query?" Greg asks, bubbling with enthusiasm as he looks expectantly at you.

'Fuck,' you curse inwardly. The first question and you already lack the answer; almost immediately, you feel horrified by the prospect of any form of exercise. 'Christ, what was I thinking by agreeing to this stupid challenge?' you continue to chastise yourself internally, but a clear voice comes to the rescue with its reply, "Boxing."

A displeased Greg slumps back into his chair, uttering in defeat, "That was my sixty-four thousand dollar question, and, hey, how come you always know the answers to everyone's questions?"

Contagious laughter fills the room again, and Greg quickly drops his disappointment, proving that he is a good sport no matter what.

The brief moment of relief is cut very short when she seriously brings up the next poser, "Which country won the most gold medals this year in speed skating?"

Instantly, you realize that you're out of you depth, and you silently acknowledge your defeat. Seeing the puzzled look on the faces of your colleagues, you become convinced that they don't know the correct answer either.

"Canada?" Greg tries hesitantly, the room remaining utterly silent.

Catherine shakes her head as she unconvincingly suggests, "We did?"

Three pair of eyes lock onto yours, but you just shrug and remain silent.

"The Netherlands," is declared in a triumphant tone, and Sofia slaps her thigh with her hand when she sees the way the three CSI's look at her in complete disbelief, her infectious laugh filling the space around them.

Stupefied, Greg asks, "The Netherlands? Where's that? Second star to the right?"

You immediately react in an annoyed tone, "Don't be stupid, Greg. It's in Europe, of course, and you may also want to note that they have a queen as well."

What one has to do with the other, you haven't got the foggiest idea. You simply feel the need to state an intelligent observation which you immediately regret when you see the teasing look on the blonde's face. You look away somewhat embarrassed, such a typical case of overcompensation.

With a big sigh, Catherine accepts her defeat and inquires in a low voice, "What is your challenge, Sofia? But can you have a bit of mercy, please, at least with me?"

"What are you saying, Cath, you're too old to play games?" the blonde counters suggestively.

"Watch it, Curtis, you have no idea of what I'm capable of," the strawberry blonde says just as evocative.

"Whoa, I'm all scared now, best be on my way then before you jump on my bones," the detective carries on, innocently holding her hands up to protect herself.

You interrupt their bantering, asking, "So, what's the deal, Sofia?" The tone of your voice brings everyone to a stop, and you immediately avert your eyes. 'Christ, what's the matter with me? Why am I making such a fool of myself?" A tiny voice continues to nag at the back of your head.

"Yeah, well, right, uh," Sofia starts somewhat flabbergasted, but she manages to compose herself rather quickly and, clearing her throat, she continues, "I'll make it easy on you guys. Why don't all of you simply join me for a full workout in the department's gym? Let's say, this coming Saturday, around nine in the morning, right after shift?"

More moans and sighs are exclaimed as the detective carries on jokingly, "No excuses, people, just be there, and you'd better be prepared because I'm so going to wear you down."

With that final statement, you feel her eyes pierce into yours as she turns and walks out the door. You quickly push yourself to your feet and rush after her. At the end of the corridor you finally catch up with her and grab her by her upper arm, making her turn around so you face each other.

"Sofia, I'm sorry for just now, I…" you stammer.

Up goes her eyebrow, and her expectant look forces you to continue. "Uh, I'm not really into sports, you know," you explain, but then you have to stop as you work to catch your breath. 'Christ, only a few yards, and I'm totally wasted. What a lousy impression she must have of me by now. Way to go, Sidle,' you mutter to yourself, desperately trying to control your breathing.

You become unsettled when she puts her hand on your shoulder while the other gently slips a strain of loose hair behind your ear. Softly, she whispers, "That's where you're wrong, Sara, I'm totally impressed by you."

Her hand caresses your cheek lightly, and then she walks away without saying another word. In slow motion, your hand touches your face as you experience a sensational tingle on your cheek. Even as other people pass you by in the hallway, you just stand there, in complete bewilderment.

Time flies, even when you're not having fun. For the last three hours, you've been working on a cold case, and you feel as if you're back at square one when you review the photo evidence. Your mind keeps wandering off as you study the pictures. You think about Sofia, and the fragments of different conversations you've had over time keep creeping into your head.

"One minute you were here and, the next you were gone, without ever saying goodbye."

"Rather than dwell on what used to be, I look forward to what's yet to be. That's why I came back, Sara."

Reluctant to analyze your turmoil, you try to refocus on what lies in front of you on the table. However, despite your best efforts, you don't experience a sudden insight, not even a slight resemblance of that feeling, and the magnifying glass you use to examine the photos sheds no undiscovered details, merely its own reflection instead.

"What are you saying? This is pretense? That I'm pretending?"

"What I'm saying is, when you spend your entire life keeping it a secret as to who you really are, Sara, you learn to stop trusting people and, soon, it becomes second nature."

"How dare you come here and judge me."

"I don't, Sara; however, I am standing right in front of you, but do you see me?"

You try to stretch your back, but your body protests painfully. For too many hours, you've been stooped over in a single position and, only by uttering a series of loud groans, are you finally able to resurrect yourself.

"That's where you're wrong, Sara, I'm totally impressed by you."

You rub your burning eyes with both your hands and stretch your aching shoulder blades to ease the tension just as Greg walks in.

"Hey, Sara, listen. I can't make it to the gym. When I'm done here, I have to go see my parents. Something is up with my dad, and I don't know what it is because my mom wouldn't say over the telephone."

You see the worried look on his face, so you hide your own disappointment and offer encouragingly, "Sure, they're far more important than this silly workout thing with Sofia, but, hey, I bet everything is going to be fine with your dad."

Nodding his head, Greg exits as Catherine walks around the corner. They exchange glances, but you can't interpret their interaction. You dismiss it as nothing because you notice the time on the clock hanging above the door; thirty minutes before your shift ends, meaning it's a mere half an hour before your number is up.

"What's the matter with him?" Catherine asks, gesturing towards the doorway Greg just vacated.

You sigh before answering, "Something with his dad. I don't really know; he's going over to his parents after he finishes here." Running your hands through your hair, you continue, "So, that means you and I are off to the gym in less than half an hour, right?"

"Well, that's kind of why…" Catherine starts to explain, but you interrupt her impolitely.

"Please, you must be joking. Don't tell me you can't go either," you exclaim, mentally slapping yourself for your outburst. 'I'm worse than a four-year-old; what the hell is the matter with me?' you ask yourself in despair. When your eyes meet hers, you find an expected look of surprise.

"Jeez, Sara, what's wrong with you?" your coworker reacts astonished. "This thing with Sofia is supposed to be fun." Catherine stares at you curiously, as she carries on, "Is there something going on between you and Sofia that I'm not aware of?"

With a flushed face, you snap, "There's nothing going on between me and Sofia, absolutely nothing."

The way you emphasize those two final words brings a smile to Catherine's face. Humming suggestively, she nods and starts walking away, mentioning gaily over her shoulder, "I rest my case. Oh, by the way, I came to tell you that I'll be running a bit late, I'm taking Lindsey with me, so I'll meet you there."

The second Catherine's gone, the 'aha-experience' finally comes down on you, but it's more like a comet crushing into earth's atmosphere, breaking through to your core, and literally making you slam back against the wall.

Sofia; it's her you want, no more emotional crippled men, like Gil, or even Hank, just her. The hell what other people might think, you've been standing in the wings for far too long; the time has come to step onto the stage.

You suddenly realize it's not just wanting, it's really more like a hunger; you crave her desperately. You're feeling emotionally wrecked because of this clarity when a familiar voice slowly penetrates your brain.

"Are you okay, Sara? You look like you've seen a ghost. Hold on, I'll get you a glass of water."

Grateful for the minute alone, you urgently try to recompose yourself. You're definitely not ready to share this whole new feeling with anyone, let alone Sofia. After a few deep breaths, you're able to peel yourself from the cold plaster, and you manage to take a seat on the high stool near the illuminated table.

"Oh, thank God, you look much better now. For a minute you had me worried," Sofia says, reentering the room. "Here, have a sip," she offers, and you mumble an inaudible thank-you before gulping down the water, still feeling her worried look all over you.

"I'm fine, Sofia, really. I've been working non-stop for the last couple of hours, and I'm exhausted, that's all." It's a feeble excuse, and you know it; it doesn't come close to explaining the fact why, only a few minutes earlier, she found you glued against the wall.

She decides to let you off the hook, replying, "Listen, I injured my knee tonight while apprehending a suspect. Well, it's really not that bad, but I don't want to take the chance of making it worse," she rushes to explain, suddenly noticing your surprised look. You registered her moves just now, and they were, as always, ever so eloquent.

"So, I have to cancel our workout session," she concludes in a flat tone.

"What about Catherine?" you ask with an inquiring look, of which you're very aware of but, nonetheless, unable to shake off.

"I ran into her in the parking lot and told her, so she's on her way home now," she answers, doing her level best to avoid eye contact with you.

You feel something is off but, this time, it's you who lets it slide... almost. "You could've called instead of making this big detour and telling me in person. Not that I don't appreciate it, but it would've been far easier," you state in a more self-assured tone than you truly feel.

She just stands there, her hands in the pockets of her jeans, shrugging her shoulders. You look at her admiringly. She asks you something, but the voice of your inner monologue is more persuasive, 'God, she's so unbelievably beautiful.'

Her features are accentuated because she wears her hair in a ponytail, and your eyes slowly glide along her strong jaw and mouth before coming to rest on her laser blue eyes.

Your musings dissolve when you hear her say, "You will?"

Her look makes you realize you probably agreed to something she didn't expect and, evidently, neither did you. The thing is though, you missed out on what it was you said yes to, but you don't want to make a fool out of yourself by asking what you'd gone along with, and her suggestion to follow her with your own car luckily prevents you from that particular fiasco.

Thirty minutes later, you find yourself standing in her kitchen, watching her make cheese crêpes. Leaning against her kitchen counter, you slowly drink your coffee and listen to her chatter. "I have relatives living in Europe, and they gave me this recipe. It's the first time I've tried them, so I apologize in advance if they're tasteless."

Soon, her face wears an amused smile when you devour your breakfast in compete silence. "This is absolutely delicious. I didn't realize I was this hungry, so please, forgive my table manners," you apologetically offer.

"No need to say sorry, I'm glad you like them. I'm not exactly one's queen of the kitchen, you know," she chuckles, moving to clear away the dishes.

You gratefully accept her offer to relax in the den while she cleans up the kitchen, and you sit comfortably on her couch, legs stretched in front of you, listening to her working as she softly hums a tune. It's a familiar melody, but before you can recognize the song, her humming has lulled you to sleep.

Soft strokes on your cheek slowly awaken you, and you discover that you lay within the crook of her arm. Taking in your surroundings, you also note that you're lying in her bed, and you're both fully clothed. You must have been completely exhausted because you have no recollection of how you got to her bedroom.

The cadence of your breathing changes when her grip tightens around you and she softly says, "Hey, sleepyhead, time to wake up, you've been sleeping for the last six hours." She eases her arm out from under you and flexes her fingers. "Pins and needles," she says. "You're heavier than you look."

She leans on her elbow and looks down on you. "That sounded far worse than I intended to," she says in a husky voice. The devastating blueness of her eyes makes your heart hammer so hard you're convinced she must hear it and, perhaps she does, but you don't back out, not anymore.

The energy between the two of you is almost palpable as you softly reply, "I know, but it wasn't a very romantic thing to say."

The color of her eyes changes to purple the second you say those words, and her breathing becomes uneven. "You called them off, didn't you?" you whisper, and she nods, knowing to whom you're referring. Ages pass; the world spins on its axis, unheeding.

Desire sweeps through your body, and your skin begins to tingle, but you need her to make the first move. She understands your waiting and, in one fluent motion, she rolls on top of you. Then, she brings her mouth to yours and, heavily and passionately, she kisses you. Groaning, she parts your lips with her tongue and explores her way hungrily.

"You have far too many clothes on," she whispers, eyes wild with urgency as she reaches for the buttons of your shirt. She makes a soft, moaning sound as you run your fingers down the seam of her jeans and, desperately wanting to hear more, you push up her T-shirt, kiss her stomach, and caress her breasts with your tongue.

"Sara," she says in low voice, dripping with passion. Hearing your name as it leaves her lips ignites such longing, such desire, that you hear yourself moan. She rips her T-shirt over her head and tosses it aside, lifting her hips to assist you as you peel her jeans down. Frantically, she strips you, and then you grab her, pulling her fully down on top of you.

She slips one long, lean thigh between your legs, and you scissor your legs around hers. You're both so wet that the flowing moisture fuses you. You want to come instantly but, at the same time, you want never this feeling, this need, to ever end.

The way she touches you, makes you realize you'd only brushed the edges of ecstasy before. You muffle your cries against her throat, murmuring, "What are you doing to me?"

"I'm going to make you come," she promises huskily. And she does.

Shuddering in each other's arms, she kisses you gently on your forehead and whispers with an equal mixture of passion and teasing, "Well, for someone who claims to be out of shape, you certainly can keep up with this kind of physical exertion."

You laugh, and your heart soars as you wholeheartedly agree. "I'd say you're right."

You pull her into a kiss, deep and slow, and, coming up for air, you softly challenge, "Care for another workout?"

The End

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