DISCLAIMER: I know they're not mine, but it's fun to play...
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
You work it out
By the start of shift the next day I'm convinced that I must be loosing my mind. I mean honestly, going on a date with Catherine? Chances are we'll have end up arguing about something stupid. And even if this date goes well, what then?
What if things go well, and I start trusting her, then she blows up at me? She's already hurt me so many times without even trying. If I got involved with her, how much worse might things be?
That's without even considering Lindsay. How is she going to feel about her mother dating a woman? Not just any woman, but the one who couldn't solve her father's murder?
If I can get Catherine alone for two seconds I'll probably call this whole thing off, but Catherine is a few minutes late for assignments so there's no chance before Grissom starts handing out case slips.
"Catherine, you're with me on a suspicious circumstances; Sara, human remains in a rental car, in the car park at the Excalibur; Warrick, a B&E in Henderson; Nick & Greg, a DB out at the Dunes."
"Why call Sara's case human remains and ours a body?" Greg asks.
"Because, you've got a body. She's got remains."
With that Grissom walks out. Catherine smiles at me, then follows him out of the room.
"I still don't get the difference." Greg sounds petulant now.
"How about we compare notes later," I say, "maybe then we can spot the difference."
"Cool." Greg always sounds happy when I suggest working together. I think it used to be because I'm young and female, but these days it seems to be more about what he can learn, and occasionally teach me.
When I arrive at the Excalibur car park I follow directions to the 7th floor. It's not hard to find the scene, flashing police lights are always a good indicator. I don't recognise the officer at the scene, and I'm a little surprised that there is only one.
"Officer Banks. Are you from forensics?" he asks.
"Sara Sidle," I shake his hand. "What have we got?"
"Tourist called it in." He points over at a young woman who is seated in the back of his car. "She was playing pokies, came back to her rental car, discovered a flat. Popped the boot to get out the spare, opened the compartment and found more than just a tyre."
"She was going to change it herself?"
"Called AA, but thought she should check for the tyre before they arrived."
"Okay, let's look at the car."
There's no particular smell as I approach the new model hatch-back, just the usual car-park odour of oil and exhaust. Obviously whatever is in the car is relatively fresh. The hatch is already open. When I look inside I realise why Grissom didn't call this a dead body.
There's a hand, wrapped in a clear plastic bag, tucked behind the spare tyre.
I hear Greg before I see him, I'm so focussed on my work.
"So, what's the difference between a human remains and a DB?"
"Probably about 100 to 150 pounds Greg."
"Really?" His eyes light up. "What did you find?"
"One left hand. White."
"Where's the rest of the body?"
"Good question. Definitely not in the car, but Doc confirms it the hand was severed post-mortem so there is a body out there somewhere."
"What else do we know?"
"Our vic is left handed, callouses from gripping a pen. Other callouses look like she played a stringed instrument."
"She?" I hate being interrupted. "Did you get DNA already?"
"Still waiting on DNA. I used the Hand Index."
"It's pretty new, but seems reliable. Length of hand divided by breadth, multiplied by 100. Guys score over 44, girls under. Our vic scored a 42.9."
"Where do you get this stuff?"
"This one is in last years journal of forensic science. You do know you're supposed to keep up with the journals now that you're a CSI?"
"I'm up to date on DNA, otherwise there's just so many to read. Not enough hours in the day."
Greg pulls up a chair and looks like he's settling in.
"What about your case? The DB at Henderson?"
"Slam dunk. The ex-husband confessed the second we knocked on his door. His statement lines up perfectly with the evidence. So, what else can you find out from a hand?"
"She's got a few scars, and a few old broken bones. No scarring around the knuckles so the marks aren't from fist fights, but she does something active. There's some odd trace on her hands, I've sent it to trace but I probably won't get the report til tomorrow."
"Until then, the hand was in a generic clear plastic bag, could be from any supermarket produce section. Blood inside the bag will probably come back to our vic, but I'm hoping that a few drops from the outside might tell us more about our perp."
"This sounds interesting."
"It is. The car is good too. The locks haven't been tampered with, so someone with a key put it there. There are a few blood spots in the boot of the car. Again waiting for DNA to see if it belongs to the vic. Prints from the inside of the car, but not many. I'm thinking our perp wiped it clean before returning it, so the prints may all come back to the rental company and the girl who called it in. Rental company say that the car was rented to a Moira Miller from Tuesday until yesterday, which covers our approximate time of death. I'm waiting on their records. There's one print from the boot which I have hopes for. Until then... I'm writing up what I've got. Never to soon to catch up on paperwork."
"I hate to argue, but shift ends in five. Wanna catch some breakfast after?"
Shift ends in five? Guess I managed to distract myself with the case.
"No can do for breakfast. I've got something on."
"Something better than breakfast with me? Tell me."
"Not going to happen."
"Go on, tell me you're not just going to listen to your scanner. Have you got a date? Who is he?"
I know Greg will keep up the questions, so I go with the oldest trick in the book walking out on him mid-question.
I don't see Catherine in the locker room, and when I get to the car park her car is already gone. I wonder if she's deliberately avoided me this shift?
I drive home then go upstairs. A quick shower, then I'm standing in my bedroom, wrapped in a towel, trying to decide what to wear.
Do I dress up? After all this is supposed to be a date.
Or do I go casual? I don't want to be over-dressed.
I'm sure that whatever Catherine is wearing will be perfect. It always is.
I spot my newest pair of jeans, fitted dark blue denim. I haven't worn them to work yet, although they'll probably join my "work" wardrobe soon enough. I throw them on the bed.
Next stop, a top. If I wear a "dressy" top with jeans, will that look funny? Or can I maybe strike the right balance between casual and classy? I pick a top that still has the label attached, one that I bought when I was trying out "retail therapy" to see if it worked for me. Shopping is definitely not my scene, but at least now I had something to wear.
Of course before getting dressed I had to make another decision. Underwear.
I own about two matching bra and knicker sets. Should I wear one? And if I did, did that mean I was planning on Catherine seeing my underwear? Surely not on a first date.
But wasn't nice underwear part of dressing up?
I'm still trying to decide when I notice the time ten minutes before Catherine is due to arrive. Making a hasty decision I grabbed the "nice" knickers and started dressing. I tell myself that I am wearing them for myself, to give me more confidence.
When the doorbell rings I'm still trying to decide about shoes. I don't want to wear my everyday boots, I wear them to work all the time. But the other option, a pair I haven't worn for a couple of years, has a two inch heel. They're still comfortable, but the heels will mean I tower over Catherine. Is that a good idea?
Then I realise Catherine must be used to dates being taller than her since she normally dates men.
I slip the heeled boots on and zip them up while walking to the door.
Pause, and take a deep breath.
Then I open the door.
"Wow," she sounds almost shy. "You look gorgeous."
She took the words right out of my mouth. Catherine looks even more stunning than usual. Fitted slacks, a lovely top which is slightly lower cut than the clothes she wears to work. Leather jacket over the top, keys in her hand.
"Thanks. You look really nice too." I look at her a few moments longer before remembering that we're going out. "I just have to grab a jacket, did you want to come in?"
"Uh, we've got a reservation for dinner, so maybe I better not."
"Okay. I'll be two seconds." I duck into the lounge and grab my coat, checking that my wallet and keys are in the pocket before walking back to the door.
One of the most surreal things about living in Vegas is that the city never stops. I know New York is billed as the city that never sleeps, but I can't imagine that you could find a 5 star restaurant serving dinner at 11am. In Vegas you can take your pick, and not be the only diners.
Conversation over dinner was easy. We started with discussions about movies, ostensibly so that we could decide what to see after dinner. From there we flowed into music, discovering where our tastes met and where they differed. Then art, which neither of us knew much about. By the time we got to the cinema we'd established an easy rapport, talking like people who'd known each other for years.
Of course, we have known each other for years. We just haven't really talked much before.
That's not to say that it was all easy and comfortable.
The first time Catherine openly flirted with me I almost dropped my cutlery. So she stopped.
Half an hour later I saw her smiling, and suddenly realised that I was flirting with her. Catherine is much smoother than me, so instead of dropping things she flirted back. I was having a lot of fun. More fun than I had had in years.
Once the movie started there was no more talking, but that didn't stop the flirting. When I innocently rested my hand on the arm rest between us I didn't realise Catherine would take it as an invitation. I can't really tell you what happened in the second half of the movie, all I remember is the feel of Catherine's fingers gently stroking my wrist, then drawing lazy circles on my palm. I never knew my hand could be so sensitive.
"Sar," her voice rouses me from my reverie. "The movie's finished. We're about to get kicked out so they can clean."
Walking out of the cinema into broad daylight is a shock. It should be dark. It should be quiet. There should be an orchestra.
Instead there are crowds of people, flashing neon lights, the steady drone of traffic along the strip.
Catherine is behaving like a perfect gentleman. She opens the car door for me and checks that I'm in before moving around to the drivers side. I find myself missing her presence even in the short time it takes her to walk around the car.
The daylight seems even more surreal as we pull up outside my apartment building. If it were dark I might lean across to kiss her, but the bright sun is intimidating.
"Do you want to come up? For coffee?"
It sounds lame to my ears, but Catherine is nodding, smiling.
I feel nervous about Catherine seeing where I live. I know it is tidy, I know it is clean. But what will she think? There are no photo's on the walls, just a few framed Salvador Dali reproductions. The bookshelf is filled with text books.
I open the door and motion Catherine to precede me in. As I'm locking the door behind me I feel her hand on my shoulder.
"I don't actually want coffee." I turn to face her as she continues. "I don't want anything. Except this."
And she is leaning towards me, giving me plenty of time to move away if I want to. But moving away doesn't occur to me; instead my eyes drift closed and I feel her lips press gently against mine. She tastes like popcorn, and soda, and something else that has no name. Her lips feel warm, and sweet, and I can't get enough.
I'm not sure which of us steps forwards first, but suddenly we are pressed against each other. As we move closer our lips part, and I feel her tongue brush against my lips. Then my tongue is against hers, inviting her into my mouth.
I don't remember breathing.
I don't remember how we made it to the couch.
I do remember the moment her hand slipped under the bottom of my top. My breath caught in my throat and she stopped and drew back.
"Is this too much? Am I rushing things?"
I don't bother answering, just lean forward again to capture her lips. Catherine obviously takes that as the invitation it is supposed to be because it isn't long before I feel her hand back under my shirt. It feels amazing.
So amazing that I can't resist moving my hand, which had been tangled in Catherine's hair, down to her lower back, then sliding it back up under her top. Her skin is warn, and soft. My fingers explore flesh, muscle and bone, revelling in what they discover.
I'm not sure how long we kiss. It could have been minutes, but it felt like hours. Despite temptation we manage not to push things. My hands stayed on her back, her fingers never slid under my bra. I think we both knew what wouldl happen if we cross that line, and I know I certainly didn't want to risk ruining this before we get started.
When we finally pull away from the kiss I find it difficult to open my eyes, let alone meet Catherine's. I'm slightly surprised to realise that I am laying back on the couch, with Catherine kneeling above me.
"Sara, you are..." Catherine voice is husky. "That was..."
"I know." And I do. It was mind blowing and awe inspiring. It was fireworks and waterfalls.
"I should probably go."
My arms tighten around her, pulling her down til she is resting her head against my neck. "My head agrees with you, although my body seems to want to argue on that."
We don't move for a few minutes. I'm cherishing the feel of her body against mine. A woman's body feels different to a man's. There is softness, and curves. There are her curves pressed against mine, making it hard to think. There is her smell, shampoo or perfume, maybe both. It is intoxicating.
"So, does this mean that you might agree to go on another date?"
I can't help but smile.
"I think you could say that."
As we slowly unentwine our bodies, making each separation slower than the last, a random thought pops into my head, making me smile.
"What? Sara, why are you grinning?"
"Other than the obvious?"
She blushes, red staining her face around the ears and neck, and I take pity on her.
"Actually, I was just thinking about the locker room at work."
"The locker room?" She looks hurt now. "I thought maybe you were thinking about me."
"I was. I was thinking about the other day when I asked you if you had ever perved on me getting changed. And I'm thinking that if you get changed in front of me now I wouldn't be able to help myself."
"Oh." In the last minute her face has gone from embarrassed, to hurt, to thoughtful. "I'm not sure I'd be able to either. Maybe we need some ground rules here."
"Like, no getting changed in front of each other at work unless it's a complete emergency."
"That seems sensible," I agree, "But it kind of brings up another point. Greg asked me today if I was going on a date. I didn't answer him, which probably didn't surprise him. I don't really want to tell anyone about this, because it's so complicated with work. I need to be sure."
"Yeah, I don't think it's a good idea to tell them yet. But, if things get serious I wouldn't want to hide things."
"So, if things progress we'll tell them. That sounds right to me."
Catherine suddenly looks at her watch.
"I really have to go now. I have to pick up Lindsay from school. Plus we both need some rest before work tonight."
I stand up, then take her hand to help her up. "It's okay. You're right, we do both need sleep." We walk to the door, and then I pull her into my arms, wrapping my arms about her waist while hers go over my shoulders. "I just wanted to tell you, I had a great time. Thank you." I force myself to pull away, then kiss her quickly on the lips. "Guess I'll see you at work tonight?"
"I'm pretty sure you will. But there won't be any hello or goodbye kisses. Can I have another kiss, just to tide me over?"
Our farewell kiss is more lingering, but we pull back before it gets too heated. Instead of saying good-bye Catherine reaches out to stroke my cheek, and then touch my lips.
Then she is gone.
And I go to bed, cuddling a pillow as I fall asleep and dream of sapphire eyes.
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