DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm in a CSI phase apparently. I'm working on several stories at the moment, all featuring our two lovely ladies, but this is the one that has taken over my mind. It's written a little differently than I've written anything before but the second person pov seemed to fit. Also, I know this doesn't exactly fit with the character of our two ladies, especially Sara at the end, but it worked for the story. Sorry.
TIMELINE: This is after Hank but before Eddie's accident. I bent canon to my will.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
DEDICATED: To my SWS friends - I hope you like.
You didn't notice the silence so you don't know how long you've been alone. You wonder briefly where everyone went but you don't really care. Or, at least, you tell yourself you don't. Against your will your mind conjures a familiar image - the one that is always just at the edge of your thoughts. As if you could summon her by thinking of her, she suddenly appears in the doorway to your lab.
"Sara?" she asks, concern barely tingeing her voice. You realize you were too slow in covering the emotions her mere presence evokes in you, and she reads your face just as she's trained to do.
Turning away from her, you continue your work while answering her inquiry. You ignore the underlining question that was in her tone and instead focus on what you can control.
"Yeah, what can I do for you?"
"I was wondering if you had finished writing your report on the Henderson case. If we can get it closed before midnight, we can count it toward our yearly proficiency report."
She has entered the lab fully now, is standing a few feet from you, and you can feel the heat from her body. Only her hesitant voice makes you stop yourself from pulling her into your arms. If she is this uncertain about asking you a simple question, you can't imagine how she would react to your lips tasting her skin.
"I'm finishing it now. I was just rereading it to make sure I didn't forget anything."
She hovers above you but you remain strong and keep your back to her. She moves so that she can read over your shoulder and her breath tickles your neck. Glad that she can't see your face, you shut your eyes for just a second to regain your equilibrium. When she's this near to you, your heart beats a little faster and you have trouble concentrating. It takes at least half a minute before you can continue, but she doesn't seem to notice.
"Good," she murmurs next to your ear. "Very precise."
Just as her proximity warms you, her praise does as well. You turn your head just slightly because she's so close, and if you're not careful, you'll do something that you'll both regret. Although you want nothing more than to kiss her senseless, you refuse to do anything to strain your already tenuous friendship. If you cannot have her the way you want her, you'll take her whatever way you can.
"Thanks. I, uh, I think it's ready."
"Great. Print it, sign it, and file it." She straightens and takes a step away from you. "As harsh as the sheriff judges us, we can use all the help we can get."
You stand, distance yourself from her while busying your hands with your report. You try to ignore that she's less than an arm's length from you, but you can't disregard the lack of sparkle in her eyes. You live through her enthusiasm, can see her passion in your dreams, and you know when something is wrong.
"Catherine," you begin offhandedly, unsure of yourself. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, just tired," she answers. You know she's dismissing you but you're rarely the one to challenge her on personal issues. Most of the time you don't know what to say to her, which is why you suspect you argue with her as much as you do.
"Is that it?" you ask, uncertain why you're finally revealing your interest. But if she's surprised, she doesn't show it. Instead, she smiles before responding and you think you see a hint of something light in her expression.
"It's enough of it." She sighs and seems to be weighing her options. "Actually, I'm just ready to get out of this place. It feels like I've been here for days."
"I think we both have," you tell her, glad that she's sharing with you. You hand her your report and she glances over it, seemingly happy to stay in your presence.
"What time were you planning to bail?" she asks suddenly. Your voice, when you answer, shows your surprise.
"Soon. I, uh, I was trying to finish that report."
"Gris said we could go after wrapping up everything we needed to. We'd still be on call but there's nothing for us to do. Besides, Nick and Warrick are here. Want to go out? Grab a beer? Go dancing?"
You have to fight yourself to keep the grin that is splitting your face from growing even more. She's oblivious to your joy.
"Uh, yeah. That sounds great."
"Let me drop this off by Gil's office and I'll meet you outside."
She's gone before you can give her a reply, but it doesn't matter. You don't know what you would have said anyway. As you shut down your computer and gather your things, you feel your nervousness increasing. The rare moments you spend with her alone outside of work are usually clouded with sadness. You've waited for an opportunity to be with her in a relaxed atmosphere. Now that you've got the chance, you realize you don't know what to do.
Escaping into the darkness, you make your way to your car to deposit your belongings. You're so wrapped up in your thoughts that you don't hear someone approaching you from behind until there's a touch on your lower back. You jump at the unexpected contact. Turning, you see her grin at your reaction.
"Geez, Cat! You scared me half to death!"
Even in the dim light of the parking garage, you know there's mischief in her eyes. Your smile grows because this is the first time in which that playfulness has been directed at you.
"C'mon. I'll drive," she says simply.
"Where are we headed?" you ask, as you follow her without argument.
"What are you in the mood for?" she counters as she slips into her car. Although she can't see you, your reply is a shrug. Once again, you follow her and settle into the passenger seat.
"You're the one who asked me out," you offer, feeling impulsive. She doesn't look at you but you can see her smirk and you tell yourself that you should just enjoy your night. The rest of the ride to your destination is quiet but short. You find yourself outside of the strip's newest dance club and internally groan. You're not a dancer and start to tell her so but then catch a glimpse of her stomach as she reaches into the back seat for her purse. You decide your mild discomfort of trying to move to music you don't listen to is worth getting to watch her dance. You would rather not admit it to anyone, but you've often wondered how she looked in her previous profession - all silk and skin and motion.
"Are you coming?" she asks, her amusement evident in her voice. You smile sheepishly at your own preoccupation before getting out of the car. She's already at the door of the club talking to the bouncer, who allows the two of you to pass in front of the line gathered.
"I should have known you would be able to get us in," you say close to her ear. Her only response is a laugh.
You look around and are surprised at the environment. The music is not as loud as you thought it would be and the lights are brighter. Though crowded, the place is not packed and you tag along behind Catherine as she leads you to a table in the back. She slides into a booth and reaches for your hand, pulling you in close to her.
"Can I get you ladies something to drink?" the waitress who suddenly appears asks.
"Beer. Whatever's on tap," Catherine answers and pokes you in the rib. You can't stop the smile that creeps upon your face and you're beginning to think it's a permanent fixture.
"Same," you respond as you poke her back. You catch the waitress's grin as she disappears.
"So," she begins, "how have you been? We haven't had the time to talk much lately."
"Fine. Busy, just like you," you tell her and wonder where she's going with this line of small talk. You've never been good at chitchat. You would rather get to the point of the conversation, and you always thought she was the same way. "Until the last few days, you haven't been around much."
"I refused overtime last week. I had to get Lindsay straightened out."
"She's wanted to spend more time with her father, which is fine, but I wish he wouldn't be so reckless when they're together."
"Yeah," she sighs and you regret even bringing up the topic. Her eyes dim just enough for there to be a difference and you reach out to her without realizing you're doing it. She smiles when your hand squeezes hers but looks up at you with surprise in her eyes. Neither of you know what to think of your uncharacteristic show of concern. You pull your hand back quickly when the waitress appears with your drinks. Catherine offers a thank you to the blonde as the server vanishes before turning back to you. "Sara, relax. Let's just have some fun tonight. No worries."
You know you're smiling again but you don't say anything. Instead, you tip your drink to her in a silent salute. She clinks her bottle to yours before drowning half in one sip. She closes her eyes as the cold liquid slides down her throat and you have an incredible desire to follow its path with your lips. She notices your stare and smirks before nudging you.
"So, Sara, tell me something about yourself I don't know."
The request catches you off guard and you sputter for a second before answering.
"Anything. Tell me what you were like as a child. I can just picture little tomboy Sara Sidle, climbing trees, playing in the dirt, getting into trouble, always being smarter than everyone else."
You feel yourself turning red and curse how easily she can make you blush.
"That was me," you finally reply. "I grew up in Tamales Bay, about an hour and a half outside of San Francisco, at my parents' bed and breakfast. It was quiet most of the time although my brother and I were always into something. We used to worry our mother to death about what we would be doing next." You laugh and are surprised at how much you want to tell the woman sitting across from you all about yourself. Glancing up, the smile on her face makes you feel warm and safe. "Do you remember the book set I gave Lindsey last year for her birthday?"
"Remember it? Every time I turned around she was reading a new one. For a couple of weeks there, the only time she talked to me was to tell me about something happening to the characters in those books or that she couldn't wait to talk to you."
"I'm glad she liked them. They were my favorites when I was younger. I used to climb this huge pine tree in our backyard where I had set up this makeshift plank." You laugh at the memory. "I would take my books, a drink and some snacks up there and sit for hours reading. I would go so high my brother couldn't reach me."
"I wish I had known you as a child. I bet you were a delight, much like you are now." Her smile is flirtatious and you try to hide your reddening cheeks by taking a long drink. She laughs but then turns serious. "Sara, I'm sorry. I don't mean to make you uncomfortable. I'm glad you're opening up to me. I know I haven't always been the nicest person in the world to you." She shrugs. "I can't, no, wait. To be honest, I don't want to explain why that is, not just yet anyway. It took me awhile to figure it out myself. I hope you can forgive me and that we can spend more time together."
You know your face expresses all of your shock at her words and you're surprised she can't hear your heartbeat. The waitress has appeared to exchange your empty bottles for full ones and disappeared before you manage to find your voice again.
"Thank you," you stammer. "I mean, I, I'd like that."
"Does that mean you forgive me?" She sounds unsure and vulnerable, so unlike herself that you lean forward to look into her eyes. You want her to believe you.
"There's nothing to forgive. I didn't exactly work extra hard to make you like me. Don't worry about the past, Catherine."
"Good," she sighs and hangs her head for a moment. When she looks up at you again, there is genuine relief in her gaze. "Now we can move forward and have a real relationship."
"I'd like that," you repeat, this time with more confidence. You feel a weight lifting from your heart and you relax fully for the first time in years. "Now, how about you tell me what little Catherine was like?" Her laugh echoes through the bar and settles into your smile.
Two hours later, you've lost count on how many drinks you've both had but you're not drunk. As you watch her grin happily at nothing, you realize you have never been more sober. No one can get to you like she can. You're not clear when this fascination began but you know it's strong. You think it started when you first met her. She tried so hard to throw you off but instead the two of you worked together like you had known each for years. An instantaneous connection was formed and has bonded you together.
You have tried to convince yourself that Grissom is the one you want, have went out of your way to convince others of the same thing, but you know he's just a convenient distraction. It's always been her. Since the moment you walked into an evidence lab to be met by her sharp tongue, you've known that your world would not be whole until she was everything to you. Tonight, you muse, is a beginning. Her hand on your arm knocks you out of your self-induced contemplations.
"Let's dance," she says as she's pulling you out of the booth.
"No. No, I don't dance."
"Please, Sara, c'mon. It'll be fun," she pouts, which does you in. You sigh and she smiles. She knows she's won and tugs you to your feet and onto the dance floor. You're not sure what to do or where to put your hands. She senses your uncertainty and places your hands on her hips. "Close your eyes," she whispers into your ear. "Move with me." You willingly do as she orders and feel her as she begins to dance. The song is a middle beat blues tune that speaks of love and loss but you don't hear the words. You're concentrating on your breathing because having her this near plays havoc with your emotions. Suddenly, the music changes to something even slower and you feel her body become flush with your own. Her fingers are on your sides and her stomach is flat against yours.
"Catherine," you moan and open your eyes when her reply tickles your neck.
"Call me Cat."
"I've always loved KitCat," you hear yourself say and you feel her smile against your breastbone. You inhale the scent of her hair and slip your arms around her back. You must be more drunk than you thought. There is no way you would be this forthright otherwise. Her head comes to rest on your shoulder and you marvel at how well she fits in your embrace. You don't know how long you've been on the dance floor and you don't care. The music changes several times but she remains in your hold. It isn't until the barkeep announces last call that she pulls away from you. Her smile is lazy as she takes your hand to lead you back to your table.
"I didn't realize it was so late," she says and glances at her watch. "It's almost 2 a.m. and I'm still wide awake." She reaches for her purse and throws some money on the table. You start to protest but she raises her hand to stop you. "Don't. I asked you out, remember?" You just smile.
"Do I get to return the favor?" you ask as she wraps her arm around yours. The cool night air makes you shiver and she snuggles closer to you for warmth.
"Anytime. For tonight, though, let's head back to my house. It's still early for us." You don't argue then or when she hands you her car keys. "You do remember the way there?"
"Of course. It's not been that long."
"Long enough. Lindsay will be angry when she finds out you were there and she wasn't. She's known the guys longer but she likes you best."
Your blush returns and you surprise yourself at how giddy what Catherine just said makes you feel. Lindsay is so much like her mother at times that you believe if she can like you, then there's real hope for Catherine.
"It would be nice to spend more time with her. I always feel rejuvenated after seeing her."
"Mmmm, me, too."
The rest of the ride is quiet and you wonder briefly if she's changed her mind. But when you glance at her, she's smiling and looking out the window. You make it to her house in record time and follow her inside silently. She throws her purse on the table beside the door and takes off her jacket.
"Make yourself at home," she says as she vanishes into the kitchen. "Want some coffee?"
You take off your own jacket and settle on the couch. You're just getting comfortable when she appears with two cups of steaming liquid. You take one gratefully as she sits down close to you and props her feet on the table in front of you. Hiding behind your cup, you admire her denim clad legs. You've seen her in shorts and know what a delectable sight the material is hiding. Her hand on your arm startles you and you spill a little of your coffee on yourself.
"Sara, aw, baby, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. Are you alright?"
She gets up to grab a towel and returns to wipe up the mess you've made. You're now standing, feeling foolish for getting so lost in thought, and letting her clean up after you.
"I'm sorry," you say as you reach for the towel. "I don't know what's wrong with me tonight."
"It's okay. No big deal. Are you alright? It didn't burn you?"
She examines your hand and, to your astonishment, kisses your palm before placing it on her cheek and holding it there. She leans into your touch and you close your eyes at the feel of her.
"Sara," she whispers almost against your lips. Your eyes open and you take a step back, surprising both you and her.
"I...we...I'm sorry," you stutter, realizing you've done that a lot that night. You've moved further from her now but you still can't seem to think straight.
"No, Sara, I'm sorry. I thought this was something you wanted."
She's hurt. You can hear it in her voice and, if you could look up at her, you'd see it in her eyes. She's also confused. You can't blame her. You've sent her one signal all night.
"Oh, I want this," you say sincerely. "I want this more than you'll ever know. But it's taken us a long time to get to a friendship. I don't want to lose you because I finally have the chance to live out a fantasy. You mean too much to me for that."
"I'm not asking for a one-night stand, Sara." Suddenly, she's in front of you and you find it even harder to think. "Did you ever stop to wonder why it was so difficult for us to have a friendship? I couldn't understand it either until I realized I was attracted to you. I kept you at arm's length because I couldn't let you get too close. I didn't want to push you away, Sara. I thought I had to." Her hand runs up your arm and your breath stalls in your throat. "Do I have to?" she asks and it takes you a second to break through your lust filled haze to answer her.
"I don't want you to. I...I just don't want to lose you."
You get the courage to look her in the eyes and you see understanding warring with desire. Taking a chance, you lean forward only to be met half way. The first taste of her is heartbreakingly glorious and you think you could cry at her tenderness. You feel her tongue tracing the outline of your mouth and you waste no time granting her request. You couldn't stop the moan that escapes as her tongue touches yours if your life depended on it. Finally, the need for oxygen compels you to part. Leaning your forehead against hers, you can only hear the smirk in her tone when she speaks.
"Now, you mentioned something about a fantasy."
You can't help the smile in your own voice when you respond.
"I, uh, I couldn't be in the same room with you for more than a few minutes without wanting to push you against the wall and kiss you senseless."
As you speak, you walk her backward until she's against the living room wall. When her back hits the solid, you push her into it and claim her lips in a rough and passionate kiss. You decide, as you pull away, that forceful or sweet, her kisses are addictive. Your head is screaming at you to slow down, to ensure the future of this new relationship before you take it to the next level. Your body, however, has different ideas and you think you'll explode if you don't get to feel her skin soon.
"Sara, it's okay," she whispers as if she could read your mind. "I'll be here tomorrow and we'll be fine." She draws you closer. "Tonight is not about tonight. It's about everything. It's just a start."
You believe her. You want her. You crave the heat that exists in the curve of her hip. You begin unbuttoning her blouse and slip it from her shoulders. Your hand traces her side, eliciting giggles as you make your way to your destination. You slide your fingers between her underwear and her jeans, pushing the material down her thighs and watching it pool at her ankles. You drop to your knees and bury your face in her stomach. Pulling her closer, you drink in your first taste of her skin. You allow your lips to trail down her body and your tongue to leave a path of where you've been. You help her out of her shoes and remove the knot of clothes at her feet.
When you feel her fingers tangle in your hair, you know this is a sensation you will never tire of. Standing, you kiss her brutally, possessively, and quiver when she whimpers in your mouth. She's strong and independent and fierce and to know that she desires you is too much for you to bare. Before you realize that you're crying, she's kissing away your tears and murmuring comforting words. You want to tell her that you've never felt this way before, completely exposed and exhilarated, but you can't talk. Instead, you allow her to hold you, to wrap herself around you, and to tug you toward her bedroom. You still say nothing as she gently removes your shoes and pants before climbing into bed with you. Finally, as she pulls you to her once more, you find the strength to be honest with her.
"I'm sorry. I don't know what's gotten into me. I just...I've never wanted anyone this much. I've never been so afraid."
She smiles at you fondly and you see it there in her eyes. That same look that you know is in your gaze is reflected in hers and you sigh with relief. She understands.
It may not be love yet but it's something more than lust and goes beyond friendship. And she's right. Tonight is just the beginning.
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