DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of these characters. I do this only for my sanity.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: For darandkerry who asked for Aspect 26. Exhausted Girl – Sara Sidle – (Prompt: Catherine/Sara - Sara is working a missing person case and has been on the job for 50 hours straight. Successful, but exhausted, Sara returns home with the intent of sleeping for at least 12 uninterrupted hours. The moment she steps foot in the house, she remembers today is the fifth anniversary of their commitment ceremony.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Debbie


The car meandered carelessly across the road's center line. Luckily for the exhausted driver oncoming cars were conspicuous by their absence. All Sara wanted to do was to get home to see Catherine and her daughters.

She sighed out loud and began to chant the periodic table in an attempt to keep herself safe; Catherine would kill her if she managed to get herself killed. The brunette couldn't stop the maniacal laughter that greeted that absurd thought.

Making a quick calculation, she realized it had been all of 50 hours since she'd been pulled from her bed by Conrad Ecklie. A local politician's wife and daughter had gone missing, and he wanted his best people on the case. Sara was still astounded that he of all people had pulled her off Graveyard to the special task-force; while her partner, Catherine, had *only* been asked to supervise Graveyard, albeit with a hugely decimated crew.

After 24 hours straight, Warrick Brown and Detective Curtis had found Mrs Fernandez raped, and badly beaten in the trunk of her own convertible. Sara and Sofia had then spent long hours just piecing together Mrs Fernandez' words, trying to build up an idea of where her four year-old daughter was being held.

Just as they realized Lake Mead was a possibility; Mrs Fernandez had heard waves lapping as she was brutally taken, the task-force received a phone call from the abductors. Mr Fernandez had 12 more hours to produce 10 Million Dollars; if not, Tara would be killed.

Sara reached Antimony and smiled, remembering a quick few minutes snatched with Catherine; a quick few minutes kissing to be precise, words had no part to play in their grabbed togetherness. Just after their snatched moment, all hell broke loose as Tom Wolfe from days managed to decipher a hidden message in Tara's words to her mom. Sara still marveled at the ability of this four year-old, and yet, she knew her own daughter was unbelievably intelligent, and she was still only three.

42 hours after starting work, Tara was finally reunited with her mother and father; badly shaken, but thankfully unharmed. Still Sara's shift wasn't over; she had spent more hours painstakingly taking evidence from the young girl. A further six hours onwards she was confident they had enough to get the needle for Tara's abductors.

Another groan crossed Sara's face at the changes in her work practice wrought these past five years; not only did Ecklie now rate her work, but she was often trusted with taking evidence from children. Settling down with one's lover, gaining a teenage daughter from hell, and bringing up a daughter who was now three, gave Sara the confidence to be everything she had always wanted to be, and other's noticed and appreciated it.

Still chanting the periodic table she reached Mendelevium as she swung into her driveway.

She checked her watch; 6.00 pm. Another smile crossed her lips; she was just in time to read her daughter a bedtime story, grab a quick hug from Linds before she was no doubt off on the town, and finally share a long kiss with her beloved before collapsing into her bed for nothing short of 12 hours sleep.

Jumping out of the car, her hand touched the door knob, just as a vivid memory from the last couple of days assaulted her subconcious.

"Please don't forget *me*."

The agonized cry of Tara had cut through all listening to the taped message; how could anybody forget…

… Sara's Toyota screeched out of the driveway as she headed towards the nearest 24 hour grocery store. Sleep would have to wait, buying a five-year Anniversay present for your wife was much more imporatnt.

Despite all that had happened over the last 50 hours how in the hell had Sara forgotten today was the 24th July?

Five years to the day since she and Catherine Willows had shared their commitment to each other with all of their family and friends; five years to the day since Catherine had made Sara the proudest woman alive; five years to the day since she had gained the family she'd never thought she would have; and five years since she had made Catherine the happiest woman alive by committing to stay.

Entering the fifth store on her journey, another hour of exhaustion passed, she acknowledged once again that leaving had never been an option. Once she and Catherine had admitted their aggression towards each other was all about the passion, Sara had never wanted to be anywhere else than in Cath's presence.

Sara slammed her head against the steering column, where could she find a suitable present at this time of the day to celebrate that much love?

An idea surfaced, and Sara drove carefully back into the city. A quick phone-call to Sam Braun, a favor called in by Sam, and Sara found herself picking up seven Sterling Silver roses from the emporium at the Bellagio; five for her love, and one each for her daughters. The cost was extortionate, and asking Sam for the loan, difficult, but Catherine and her daughters were more than deserving of such hardship.

Once again the periodic table came in handy, and this time Sara reached the rarely spoken of Ununoctium just as she pulled into her driveway.

52 hours after leaving, two hours past her little one's bedtime, she finally opened the door to her haven. She was met by an eerie silence, and panicked.

"Catherine? Lindsay? Where *are* you guys?"

Lindsay came from the kitchen and hugged her tightly, whispering, "Thank God, you're home, we worried."

"I know, love, sorry! It was a bad one."

"Yeah. Hey, Happy Anniversary, Sara!"

Sara grinned and handed a rose to Lindsay.

"And Happy Anniversary to you too. You off out now?"

Seeing a nod from Lindsay, she added, "Where's your Mom? With Ann?"

"Ann's fast asleep, poor mite was exhausted, like you must be, huh? Mom's in the dining room."

With that Lindsay kissed her cheek and walked away.

Sara watched her go, calling out, "Be safe."

She then turned slowly and walked to the dining room, maybe Catherine would join her in bed, and hold her close until sleep took her to oblivion.

The dining room was in darkness, and Sara sighed in despair, would this day ever be at an end.

She flicked the light on and gasped.

"Surprise, Darling!"

Catherine slowly rose from the table, and walked towards Sara.

"I thought you'd never get here, and I know you must be exhausted, but I just needed to do this for you."

The redhead indicated the set table; two glasses of wine, candles ready to be lit, a gorgeous looking array of salad dishes, and a silver-wrapped present on Sara's plate.

Reaching Sara, Catherine whispered, "Happy Anniversay, my Sara, thank you."

The deep kiss Catherine offered her swept all Sara's exhaustion away, and the smile that graced Catherine's lips as she accepted her gift of the Sterling Silver roses made the last 50 hours plus worthwhile.

In fact, made it all worthwhile.

The End

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