Title: A Sassy Encounter, or, The Return of the Infamous ‘Love Scene’
Author: Shatterpath
Feedback address: shatterpath@shatterstorm.net
Date in Calendar: 27 June 2007
Fandom: CSI
Pairing: Sara/Sofia
Rating: NC17
Summary: Summary: a desert, a disaster and a pair that needs to see where their sparks might take them.
Spoilers: Sixth season
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DD07

Disclaimer: CSI isn't mine, but we all know that. No sane femslash writer can resist the chemistry that sparks between Sara and Sofia. Well, when TPTB let them have screen time anyway…

Note: Started on Halloween, 2006. First draft completed 5-21-07.

Author’s notes: Ummm… I wrote this scene ages ago, and liked it so much that I keep redoing it over and over as I fall madly for new couples. First is Kathryn Janeway/ Seven of Nine, Star Trek: Voyager. Mmmm, how I adored those two. Too bad TPTB killed the poor show. Sorry, there’s a bitter, bitter divorce there. Next up is Sam Carter/Janet Fraiser of Stargate SG-1 fame. As much as I loathe what eventually came to pass in that universe, I still adore these women. Through Sam & Janet, I came into my own as a writer. Something about them really made my muses click. After that came CD DeLorenzo/ Jinny Exstead from Lifetime’s The Division. Obscure, I know, but damn those two throw sparks! There are the fondly remembered Birds of Prey, of which Barbara Gordon and Helena Kyle played key roles in my fantasy life for a good, long while. I meant to do a CSI, Catherine Willows/Sara Sidle, but it somehow slipped through the cracks. Also, I very quickly lost the chemistry between these two, and don't understand those that cling so tenaciously to the couple. When I was rereading some of my work on the infamous Light, Water and Muses, I realized that I also redid this scene for a couple I can’t name, ‘cause I won’t give it away. I’ll just say that both women are from ER, and it’s not at all who you think it is. Trust me. Then, I modified the story for Alex Cabot/Olivia Benson, surely the hottest couple to hit femslash in years! It's these two that made this repeating idea a story unto itself finally, and the document grew to be 27 pages long! From that beast of a tale, we continue on the journey of the Scene That Wouldn't Die. Enjoy!

Thanks go to: Caitrin for letting me bounce the idea off her until it solidified in my head. You rock girl! And, as always, my best bud, Ariestess. Together, we are stronger than the individual.

Beta: Caitrin.

Wet Desert

++ Sofia ++

"This is wrong on so many levels," is only my latest complaint about a trip gone straight to hell. What began as a simple business trip out to Carson City to impress a jury, which we did, and then a quick backtrack to home, has become an epic journey. What I'd expected was a reverse of the drive there, with Sidle quiet and introspective beside me and no more than a few dozen words exchanged over four hundred and fifty miles.

That was not to be.

There's a trick to living in a desert. Adaptability is the name of the game and a body must be ready for anything. And I do mean anything. Most of the time it's baking hot or icy cold, with a near total lack of humidity, much less actual rain

And then there's days like this, where whatever weather gods there are decide to take some kind of perverse revenge on the desert. The deluge started up within an hour of leaving Carson City, and has been pummeling us ever since.

Pummeling is probably too mild of a word. I expect to see an ark full of all the animals of the world float by. Already, we've blasted through several small rivers and lakes masquerading as puddles that would have swamped a lesser car. Truthfully, I'm getting more than a little nervous at how this storm will affect us as the early afternoon grows as dark as dusk.

But so far, I've remained moving south towards home, strictly due to the steady and implacable calm of the woman beside me.

++ Sara ++

My roots are buried in the moist, cool forests of northern California. Pulling them up and trying to replant myself in the arid wasteland that cradles Las Vegas is not an easy transition, even after more than five years.

Frankly, the desert scares me.

Life is so tenuous here, like the jugular pulsing just under fragile skin. That element of danger is a constant, and keeps me on my toes. I envy the calm of people like Sofia who always seem such a part of their environment. Even now, aside from her hands tapping nervously on the wheel, the woman seems to be unruffled.

Good thing too, because this weather is biblical. The best I can do is to sit quietly and not distract her, because our very lives could hang in those elegant hands.

"Oh shit…"

The slow murmur makes my freeze with terror at her tone and I follow the widening blue eyes where they stare into the dimness of the storm. There are headlights swimming in the deluge, actually two pairs of them, and I have a feeling that at least one of them is in trouble.

I don't even need to ask if we will offer assistance.

++ Sofia ++

For the first time this trip, for the first time in a long time… I am abruptly and completely unaware of my attraction to the woman beside me. This is an emergency and the cop in me is gearing up with a mind of her own. I hear Sara's voice yell my name urgently as the Tahoe skids to halt next to the straining pickup truck and the endangered car at the end of its towline.

Considering that the other car's headlights are straining skyward in the near-dark, this can't be good. The screaming for help reinforces that. The pounding rain nearly slaps me back into the Tahoe and I shake it off, ignoring the bite of cold and stumbling for the truck.

In shouts over the roaring weather, I help the terrified young man with the truck try and haul a couple with a screaming baby from the river that is trying to eat them and their SUV.

My terror and theirs blurs into a feeling like a dust storm that blurs all of one's senses. No single sensation or impression stands out in my overwhelmed mind, but my body burns with fear, fatigue and pain. There is a cable in my hands, strung piano-wire taut and as cold as a refrigerator. I'm hanging over the sucking morass of rushing water and sand, desperately trying to reach the young mother and her baby, who are both scared out of their minds.

Then something deeper than mere terror turns my spine to tundra as my numb fingers slip on the cable. Is this how it ends then?

Fingers on my belt have never felt so good.

++ Sara ++

If pressed to explain my desperate grab, I would be stumped. Watching this fascinating woman being so impossibly heroic has left me feeling out of place and utterly useless. All I've done so far is babysit the guy's truck, one hand on the wheel, the other on the brake, and several times, the accelerator.

Until I see the slip.

Now, the distance between the driver's door and a cable stretched from the front bumper is not an easy distance to cover.

Somehow, I manage to do it.

And somehow, it's not only Sofia that I yank at just the right moment, with the right strength and the right angle, but mother and child too. The dog pile of a hug I'm immediately wrapped up in is almost worth the danger.

Unfortunately, the flash fire of pain up my leg ruins my appreciation of the moment, and I hear myself yelp even over the storm. One set of arms stay around me, strong hands on my back and skull, Sofia's voice close but incomprehensible in the cacophony.

There is only a moment of acknowledgement of how this embrace makes me feel; confusion and delight in conflict within me. A flash of lightening in the hills around us lights up the terrain like a camera flash, illuminating the woman who causes such conflict within me.

Then the truck owner shouts in alarm.

++ Sofia ++

There is something in Sara's mysterious, dark eyes, gone nearly invisible in the gloom that makes my insides twitch in primitive reaction. The energy between us flares now, like the lightening illuminating her face beneath me. I've made such an effort for so long to ignore it, that I'm not at all certain how to decipher the look on her face.

The truck driver shouting breaks the electric moment and my curiosity and fear must be pushed aside in the face of this new catastrophe. What I see is the Tahoe's headlights swinging crazily and inexorably to the darkened skies. In the bad light, the big SUV bucks wildly like an untamed horse, before lurching to its side, headlights pointing away from us. The rear running lights settle uncomfortably, distorted from the rush of water pushing at them.

"Oh man," Sara grumbles as the torrent swamps over the exposed belly of the truck. "Good thing the windows are rolled up."

I can't help but laugh, a short, tense sound that's more stress relief than humor. "All of our things are in that car," is my comment, more to hear the words than explain anything she doesn't already know.

"Then it's a good thing we already won that trial," she replies dryly and this time I laugh for real. Rolling away, I offer a helping hand and Sara gestures at her lower body with a grimace. "Something happened to my left knee in that rescue attempt."

"Attempt, nothin'," says the husband, kneeling beside me. "Doug Carson, pleased to meet you ladies. That was some of the bravest rescuing I've seen in years." He smiles bravely past the lingering terror and exhaustion. "Leg hurts?"

++ Sara ++

"My knee." I surprise myself by answering his question honestly. Normally, I'm not candid about physical discomfort, but there is a sincerity to this man that appeals to me. Grinning, he touches both of our shoulders. "I'll take care of that, just give me a sec."

As he scrambles for the bed of the truck, Sofia remains close, bracing my body with her own. Her heat reminds me of how damn cold I've gotten in this crazy weather. "Bet he's EMT," she murmurs conversationally, resting her chin on my head, and I shiver at the easy intimacy of this near-cuddle.

"Firefighter," I argue. "Energy's not quite right for EMT."

"How would you know?"

"Dated one."


When we have time later, I'll have to thank her for not pursuing the subject. It's still a sore spot and no one likes being reminded of past stupidities. Doug returns, shrugging off his flannel shirt and gripping what looks like a tire iron and some kind of wrench of all the silly things. "This is gonna hurt…" The questioning tone makes me grin tightly.

"Sara Sidle. Do you know what you're doing?"

"Pleased to meet you, Sara. You're in good hands; I'm a firefighter."

I take great pleasure in smirking at Sofia. "Told you so."

++ Sofia ++

To say that I'm startled by the woman's cheekiness would be an understatement. Sure, I'm delighted with the change, but still startled. As Doug goes for that knee, I press in closer to Sara, wrapping my arms around her tightly.

"This is going to hurt," Doug warns. "But splinting this should help prevent further injury. Hang on."

Hang on she does, fingers digging into my shoulder and arm, her face pressed hard into the curve of my neck, her breath hot and fast on my skin.

Wish we could try something like this for better reasons.

That thought vanishes as Sara's tension increases, her body clenching in agony, despite Doug's voice speaking soothingly. Time passes in this awkward embrace, where I do my best to anchor her as our new buddy doctors her hurt leg. Once the tire iron and the big wrench are secured in place with Doug's shirt, it's time to move Sara.

"Hey, Sweetie," I hum in her ear. "Shift your grip so that we can get out of here. C'mon now, I've got you, you're okay." With a bit more coaxing, Sara's chest to chest with me, arms clutching like a drowning victim. This leaves Doug and me to communicate in short sentences, him gathering up her legs to wrestle her slender weight into the truck bed. It's more of a struggle than I would have liked, with us trying so hard not to jostle Sara too much.

++ Sara ++

They try, they really do, but my leg is on fire. The young man who owns the truck has pulled out all the stuff from a duffel bag and I'm settled onto the lumpy, thin layers of dirty clothes. Yuck, but better than getting any colder with my flesh against the chilly metal of the truck. Thankfully, Sofia doesn’t make any move to separate her warmth from mine.

"You're shaking," my hero murmurs softly into my hair, holding me tightly to her. A heavy, sodden blanket is tossed over us in an effort to insulate our waning body heat. Even if it's psychological, I feel warmer already, pressing myself as tightly as I can into Sofia. It's not just the cold that makes me shake, but the memory of her grip failing. Even the grounding feel of her svelte body, firm and soft, can't quite exorcise the scare of the close call.

There are a few peaceful moments before the truck rocks and another body joins our huddle. Part of me shies away from the sleeping bag being half pulled away from where I'm barely starting to defrost and another body sliding up against me. "Chris is taking us back to his grandparent's farm," Doug half-shouts over the noise of the storm. "Rebecca and the baby are in the cab and I'm donating my body heat to my new heroes."

It's strange to have this stranger praising me. Sofia chuckles and talks with him as the truck lurches to life, but I'm too drowsy to follow anything but the comforting sound of her voice. Sleep is probably a good idea for me anyway, as my knee objects shrilly to the jostling of the terrain. Sighing heavily, I press my nose to the pulse of life in Sofia's throat and relax into the safety of her presence.

++ Sofia ++

It's a huge relief to feel the pain and tension seep from Sara's slight frame. Good thing too, because the terrain is hell, jostling us even at Chris' slow speeds. Turns out that is the young man's name who owns the truck, and Rebecca, of course, is Doug's wife. "Humboldt County?" I question my firefighter buddy. "You're awfully far south."

"Clark County?" He teases back, squirming a bit to try and find a more comfortable position in the hellish truck bed. "You're awful far north. Just kidding. We were on our way to see Becca's sister just outside Vegas. She wants to meet the baby." I can hear the smirk in his voice. "Guess she'll have to wait, huh?"

I chuckle, wiggling a bit myself to try and find a better position without disturbing Sara. The metal tools tied to her knee are digging into my calf, where I placed it to prop up her sore leg. I've already given Doug the basic bullet of who we are, and he's returned the favor. We're just talking now to stay awake. All six of us, including the nameless baby, are strangers brought together by natural disaster.

One particularly harrowing stretch of the trip stirs Sara, but I wrap myself around her like a python and pray she sleeps again. The truck lurches up a shallow incline, leaning hard enough that Doug rolls out from under the sleeping bag to use his body to brace Sara and I from sliding. The rain has abated significantly and I'm hyper aware of the sound of rushing of water, the spray dancing among the raindrops. With a few lurches and the roar of horsepower, we escape and Sara settles again.

It feels like a very long time passes before the engine dies, jerking me from a half-doze. Doors creak open and slam, and there's a scruffy, barely-out-of-his-teens face peering at me over the edge of the truck. "Ma'am?" he says hesitantly and I cringe inwardly. "I'm Chris Tucker. We finally made it back to my grandparent's farm. Come inside and warm up."

++ Sara ++

With eight hundred milligrams of ibuprofen, a better splint than truck tools, a warm fire and a belly full of cider and chili, life is much, much better. Chris' grandparents, horrified at what we strangers have been through, fed us, warmed us up and found dry clothes. Sofia looks ridiculous in Grandfather Henry's old farm clothes, but I can't look any more dignified in similar flannel and denim. Sofia's gun looks positively bizarre where it's belted over the barrowed outfit. That gun, its matching badge and wallet in Sofia's pockets and a handful of change and ruined receipts in mine are the only things that made it out with us. I feel vulnerable without identification or a mobile phone, much less my kit.

The locals are very impressed at Sofia being a big city detective, but they seem a little confused by me. Guess there's little call for criminalists in the isolated boonies of Placer County, California. Considering the nearest neighbor is some ten miles away, and the nearest town over twenty, I can understand their confusion. While this group of mismatched people is intriguing, I can't keep my eyes off of Sofia. Disheveled and badly dressed, she is graceful and charming and utterly at ease with this strange circumstance. I envy her that grace.

Chris comes stomping in from the slackening storm. "It's not so bad now," he tells us, stripping off his sodden coat. "Just a plain old storm. I cleaned up the barn apartment and it's warming up. Can you walk enough to hobble out there, Sara?"

From what his grandparents have told us, this tattooed and goateed young man, all of twenty years old, came to the isolation of this part of rural California to get his life back in order. The almost overly respectful way he treats his grandparents and guests is proof that it's working.

"Thank you, Chris," I tell him sincerely, smiling warmly. "You have truly been a lifesaver."

Embarrassed, he squirms away from the compliment, instead slinking off to check on the others while Sofia comes to me. That gentle smile, almost loving, enthralls me like a moth to flame. "Let me give you a hand up." It's a bit of a painful process, but I manage to get onto my feet, clinging to Sofia's strong, curvy frame. My knee aches something awful as the blood flow grows stronger to the damaged area. "We'll get you to the local doctor as soon as we can," she promises softly, warm breath making me shiver. "But a solid night's sleep will have to do for now."

Standing for a moment and letting my sore knee adjust has helped the pain fade quite a lot and I gingerly shift some of my weight. It's a real relief when the joint grumbles and flares, but takes the pressure. "At least I haven't violated my warranty," I mumble and Sofia laughs.

"You have been an unexpected delight this trip," is the compliment that makes me blush and I get a hard squeeze of a hug. She's under my skin, and the unexpectedness of it has made me a little silly.

++ Sofia ++

I would have never guessed at Sara's sense of humor and the way she draws me in. Trying to avoid my attraction has only sharpened my awareness of her, making me hyperaware of every word, gesture and look. I've got to be imagining the caress of those rich, dark eyes, hinting of curiosity and heat.

Nerve-wracking is an understatement.

On a more banal note, our isolation is a worry. We have no cell phone, no landline and no electricity, though Henry assures me that the propane tank can keep the farm running for weeks. These are nice people, but I won't spend weeks here. That's just crazy.

"Come on, Sara," I instruct her, and then duck under her left arm to help keep weight off that leg. With Chris acting as a crutch on the other side, and a poncho tossed over us women, we stumble into the blustery night.

Whatever I expected from an apartment in a barn, I'm pleasantly surprised. It’s small, but looks just like any small apartment anywhere. It has a cramped kitchen and living space, an even smaller bedroom and a full bathroom. It's painted in warm greens and furnished with well tended hand-me-downs.

"Nice digs," Sara comments with a smile. "Sure you want to give them up?"

Shrugging, Chris mumbles something and it amuses me that we've hardly heard more than about ten words out of him. Something that might be, "see you in the morning," sounds from Chris and he escapes back into the rain.

Tugging at me, Sara manages to get seated on the bed before bursting into peals of laughter. Once again she has shocked me. Always so stoic and self-possessed, this riot of feminine laughter, her lanky body sprawled boneless across the comforter is so striking…

Something looms big in my heart.

It's not what I fully suspect is a serious crush, or the very real attraction I feel towards her. This is something altogether different, but completely related as well.

God, I'm in so much trouble.

++ Sara ++

Who knows where the hilarity comes from, but I feel like a champagne bottle, uncorked. Stress and tension and confusion and worry escape me in a wild rush, leaving me breathless, teary-eyed and giggling like a child. The relief is almost painful, like a crying jag, but I feel much, much lighter, as though the laughter has swept out many cobwebs from my soul.

Sofia looms over me, a strange look in her eye and the sweetest smile on her face. "At least you make a decent roommate."

And I'm off in hysterics again.

There is a fond roll of blue eyes that make my giggling all the worse and she sighs indulgently before carefully scooping up my legs and rolling me onto my side. With some wrestling of the bedding, I find myself on the cool sheets, a pillow under my knee, shoes removed and Sofia retreating to the bathroom with an enigmatic smile. While she's gone, I struggle out of my bra and tug the covers over myself.

To think that just this morning, my life was ordinary.

Just this morning, the details of my job crowded my brain. There were slightly dry blueberry muffins and Sofia dug through bacon and eggs while I wrinkled my nose. What a snob she must think I am.

"Hey Sof?" I call out, feeling delirious.


"Sorry I made faces at you over breakfast."

She peers around the edge of the doorway, toothbrush dangling out of her mouth. It's a hysterical sight, but I swallow the giggles and wait for her response. Disappearing for a moment, she runs water and reappears with a grin. "I heard about the pig experiment. But I just can't give up bacon. I'll forgive your nose wrinkling with barely disguised disgust if you promise me you won't make me sit through one of Gris' experiments."

I'm still giggling to myself as the bed shifts with Sofia's weight and the darkness of sleep closes in.

++ Sofia ++

In the twilight between sleep and wakefulness, my dreams and reality are blurred. In the night, we've melted together, our body heat mingled, except for my right ear, which is cold. Some part of me knows the softness and heat half trapped beneath me and relishes this fantasy made flesh.

I don't want to wake and end this.

Looking at Sara's lanky, almost angular frame, one might think that she's not soft. Nothing could be further from the truth. There may not be any voluptuous lines to her, but she's soft in the best way, one that is uniquely hers and hers alone.

Sara's body trapped beneath me starts to stir and crossroads are suddenly reached. What do we do now?

A fist banging on the door makes both of us jump as though electrocuted.

"Detective Curtis?" calls Henry's voice and there's only a moment for us girls to stare at each other before I carefully disentangle myself and escape for the door. Henry looks determined, and thankfully, mostly dry. "Chris is going to go check up on the neighbors, see if there's a working phone. Can you ride a horse? Got the best damn mare in four states here that'll take good care of you." Obviously, my confused silence has left the old man at odds, because he rubs his neck uncomfortably before meeting my gaze with determination. "I'm too old to watch his back, and the land is tore up somethin' awful."

The love this man holds for his grandchild is obvious, and my childhood experiences with trail horses will have to suffice. "I'll watch his back, sir. He'll just have to lead the way."

Famous last words…

++ Sara ++

It's been a long day. With my limited mobility, Vera, Chris' grandmother, has brusquely bossed me around all day, finding me tasks that have almost exclusively kept me in a chair. This has included watching the baby, whose name is Maggie, and she's actually pretty good company. Her folks volunteered to help out Henry as the gang of us watched Chris and Sofia ride into the light rain right after a big breakfast. We've seen them for lunch, and a few times when Rebecca comes in to tend her daughter.

In the odd normalcy of this collection of people, I find myself evaluating my life. They seem to actually like my company, drawing me into conversation and domestic chores. With my leg damaged, I cannot escape them and I'm shocked to find myself enjoying things like winding yarn into balls and tending a baby. Sure, I'm worried about what work must be thinking and if any of my things survived in the Tahoe, but what good will stressing over them do me right now? There's no working phone, our moderate electricity is being provided by a generator and we're in the middle of nowhere. I'm going with the flow for now.

Maggie has allowed me no time to brood. I'm not used to living in the moment so much, always caught up in my own head. Right this minute, the baby is squealing with laughter as I make faces and tickle at her, wild noises escaping me in response to her delight.

During the daylight hours, Vera has mostly kept to neutral subjects. However, she does go through bouts of fascination with my job. But darkness is nearly on us and conversation has run out as this stoic old woman is being consumed by her worry. Light from the oil lamp flickers off of her careworn features. "Sure, I'm worried," she admits to no one in particular. Both Maggie and I look over to her and Vera smiles bravely. "But Chris knows these lands like an old pro now. And he has that nice detective of yours to look out for him as well. You're lucky to have someone like her."

Lucky to have someone like her.

My body remembers the feel of her from the night before and I couldn't agree more.

++ Sofia ++

I have had it with California. Particularly this godforsaken corner of it.

At least the company has been decent. Chris might be a man of few words, but he's smart and determined to make something good of himself. Thankfully, he also knows the territory and that knowledge has saved our bacon several times this trip.

The neighbor's house was empty, obviously evacuated prior to our arrival. Valuables were up off the floor, doors locked, rugs rolled up and stashed. If water came through here, it would do far less damage than a house unprepared. Chris peeked into another room and definitively told me that they owners had gone. "Gary's hunting rifle is gone," was all the explanation I needed.

Raiding the larder made both of us feel a little guilty, but I know that Chris will make good his promise to restock them. His grandparents have gone from three mouths to seven and a half. The supplies will be welcome. So, makeshift bags of sheets and pillowcases are draped in front and behind the saddles of both of us. Canned food, frozen meats and boxes of stuff from the pantry will tide us over until we strangers can get home.

The trip to the neighbors was bad enough, but the trip back is threatening my sanity. What had been a knee-deep stream in the morning is a chest deep torrent now. Crossing it tests not just the will of us humans, but the mares as well. Even my placid old girl is more than ready to be back in the barn. Patting her neck, I murmur, "soon now."

Darkness comes early to these storm-soaked hills, the grey fading to black far too quickly. Thank goodness Chris has one of those shaker flashlights with magnets instead of batteries, so we've had light, no matter how faint and intermittent. Luckily, my mount Flora seems content to follow her stable-mate closely, nose almost on her tail.

Faint firelight has never been a more welcome sight, and the weary plod of our mounts picks up eagerly. Honestly, I'm right there with them. My body aches in impossible ways from being in the saddle for so many hours. The water and mud is not helping at all.

But I hardly care, as the anticipation to see my companion, particularly the enigma that haunts me, is so powerful.

++ Sara ++

Waking with an almost violent start, I realize that I finally dozed off at some point. Darkness brought on real fear for our missing loved ones, and I see Vera's indistinct shape on the couch nearby. Was it a sound that woke me? Curious and sick with worry, I drag myself up to stand on the sore leg and grab the cane Vera scared up this afternoon.

The darkness outside is impenetrable. There could be a tap-dancing chorus of black bears out there and I wouldn't have a clue.

When the door slams open with a wave of wind and laughter, I jump and squeak in alarm. "Guys?" Chris calls out. "We're home."

"Christopher Walter Tucker!" bellows Vera and I'm surprised by the volume. "What in God's green earth are you doin' makin' an old woman worry like this?"

"Oooo," Sofia's voice taunts. "You're in trouble now."

While Chris placates his worried grandparents, I see Sofia's head moving in the gloom. The faint glisten of blonde hair stills, like a rattlesnake sensing heat. "I was worried," my voice whispers, and she moves quickly, almost quickly enough to startle me.

Then my arms are full of her.

Wet, clammy and strong, her embrace is pure bliss. Hell, for an insane moment there, I thought that she might kiss me. That mouth skims past the corner of mine, skitters over my cheek and buries into my hair near my ear. "Long day," she murmurs and I read tension and not a little fear in her tone.

"Come to bed," is the clearest reassurance I can offer, squeezing her hard enough to hear her lungs huff at me. Then some of Vera's fussing at Chris registers.

"Now go take care of those poor horses and get your tailfeathers back here, young man."

"Yes ma'am."

"I have to help," Sofia tells me, pulling away. "As tired and wet as I am, the mares are worse. You can supervise."

++ Sofia ++

Sara's moving better, I notice, as I follow Chris and Henry back into the drizzly night. A hot shower and bed would be heaven right now, but Flora has been a trooper and deserves my care…

But I'm ecstatic by Sara's physicality and the memory of the press of her body.

Tossing on a coat, she follows us, shooing me away to tend to Flora while she makes her painstaking way to our quarters.

My memories assault me as I pull off Flora's tack and really feel the burn in back and arms as I go through a mountain of towels to dry her sodden coat. God, the smell of wet horse is pervasive. Once Henry has silently given me the seal of approval on Flora's condition, I get to toss her hay and strap a thick blanket around her sturdy body. Before staggering off, I'm rewarded with a nuzzle from the heavy nose and a whuff of warm breath. "Goodnight Flora," I whisper affectionately.

Chris is long gone by now, but Henry is waiting on a bale of hay as I close the stall behind me. "Thanks for watching his back," the man says simply, taking in the mud on my clothes and my haggard appearance.

"You're welcome," I reply as he hands me clean, dry clothes and walks away. There is a lamp burning in the little apartment, back in the bedroom. Picking my way carefully through the dim living areas, I follow the light to the bedroom.

"You had some trouble," Sara says simply, looking up from whatever she's reading. There's something dark and mysterious in her gaze that both attracts me and makes me too nervous to dance any closer. For a moment, I almost lie and make light of how tenuous the trip became. Instead, I nod, exhaustion swamping over me and leaving trembling and lightheadness in its wake. "Can you manage a shower?" Sara asks softly, her tone tender and worried. "You look half frozen." Abruptly, she grins impishly and I perk up unconsciously at the change. "And you smell like horse."

"Cheeky," I fire back in a mockingly annoyed tone that makes her smile. That's my cue to escape to the bathroom and force myself through a shower and half-heartedly scrubbing the cheap toothbrush over my teeth before stumbling back to the haven of the bed.

The covers jerk back in welcome and some animalistic grunt of relief and exhaustion is all the thanks I can manage as I collapse. Some part of me, the part that is attuned to this woman, notes that she tosses the covers back over me, shutting away the cool of the night.

But sleep does not truly come until I feel her curl almost hesitantly against my back. Then, and only then, is my day over and I rest peacefully.

++ Sara ++

The sensations are still dreamlike, with arousal pooling like heated syrup deep in my body. My breath is growing shallow and labored, my skin damp with sweat, my heart rate picking up like running horses, pounding with carnal need and something that is beginning to feel distinctly like stark terror.

All of this from the feathery warmth of that slow breathing against the nape of my neck and the pressure of the strong body at my back. Astonishment swirls with fear and desire at the intensity of the reaction, clearing the cobwebs of sleep. Some part of me knew that the conflict of emotion was leading to this… this tsunami of feeling. Some part of me knew that we were headed to exactly where we are now.

As though sensing the conflicting emotions welling up from my body, Sofia burrows closer and tightens her loose embrace. A soft murmur rumbles up from deep in her chest and I moan softly in response. Again Sofia stirs and breathes something incoherent across the back of my neck, while I feel the pull of my need unravel all self-control further.

The relaxed hand on my abdomen suddenly splays across the baggy black jeans and presses against the tense muscles there. Gentle breathing at my nape changes tempo and soft lips brush across the tiny hairs protecting my spine. Now I groan in earnest, unable to control myself. In response, Sofia shifts the arm beneath my head to curl her hand around the curve of my jaw and throat. Calloused fingers brush over that vulnerable spot, as though testing my trust in her.

++ Sofia ++

A start of surprise ripples along my body when Sara’s narrow hand covers my own, trapping me against the heat of her abdomen. Something deep and primitive drives me blindly on. The trustingly curved neck, the soft note of desire, the press of the slighter body into my own are signals so utterly foreign and yet so deeply familiar to me. Sara jumps when my inquisitive mouth suckles at the base of her neck and my curious tongue tastes her skin. Oh, please don't let me wake from this dream…

She is a gourmet meal of flavors, sweet and salty with a rainwater tang. What must she taste and feel like beneath the protective layers of cloth? How hot she burns, low in her body. An answering pull of desire settles in my groin and leaves me shaken.

"I need you," hisses up from my chest as though completely out of my control, gentle and urgent against Sara’s ear. It's like something animal breaking loose inside me, fighting past the dam of self-control and abstinence and denial, flooding me with her burn. Hoarse with need, there is more emotion in my voice than either of us is accustomed to. Too much, too little, too soon, too long, want her, need her, might fall in love with her...

There is an undercurrent of animal panic in Sara’s deep moan even as her body begs, pressing deeper into me. All I can think to do is not pressure her, but the temptation of that beautiful neck is too much to resist. I understand her conflict between need and control. My own upper brain is ranting at me in confused horror, but the lizard brain is in control now.

It's not like me to let my baser instincts out to play, but certainly not unheard of. They have caused me as much pleasure as pain over the years.

It takes me a moment for me to realize that I have grown still in the face of the conflict still making her body tense. Only the tiny brush of my index finger, low on her abdomen, gives any indication that I'm still awake and still interested.

What now?

++ Sara ++

"Move back, Sof," I whisper uncertainly and I'm completely startled when I roll onto my back and see the hurt, disappointed scowl on her expressive face. How I love that expressiveness, and that absolute focus of her keen mind and big heart. Having seen it in many a scenario at work, I am thrilled to have that energy focused on me now. There is a new fire smoldering in her pale eyes, raw need mixing with the rejection we both know she is expecting. I don’t want to reject her; I never wanted to reject her, but do I have the courage to explore this energy between us?

My hands hesitantly reach up to brush over smooth cheekbones and her slim, straight nose before moving on to pale brows. Where the freedom and courage come from, I have no idea, but I explore her familiar features with uncharacteristic openness and fascination. "I’ve never looked at you so closely," I whisper reverently and a shy smile flashes across Sofia’s face, chasing the darkness from her eyes. My heart lurches to a halt for a breathless moment at the beauty of her and I drop my fingertips to her beautiful mouth to beg hoarsely, "do that again."

Confusion and curiosity etch themselves across Sofia’s face, but I don’t need those familiar expressions.

"Smile. Sofia, please," I beg, feather soft, needing it like I need air. Delicate muscles shift across mouth, cheeks and eyes and I am done for. There is nothing in my extensive emotional arsenal that stands a chance to resist that sweet, shy smile. There was never any chance for me resist what she is offering, what I need so badly from her. Despite my past, despite my very real fears of needing anyone else, she has wormed her way into my heart with her kindness and bravery and sweetness and kick-ass attitude. All of it and so much more make up the package of this woman, and she is irresistible. The fact that she is very female has been decided as a non-issue and the last barriers in my mind fall away to leave me light and free.

As the worry and fear drain away, her expression grows fascinated and hungry. My exploring fingers hesitantly coax her closer until our breath mingles. "I need you too."

++ Sofia ++

At last our lips meet, barely brushing, and I am shaken by the softness of her. I have kissed, and been kissed in return, but this feels different in unexpected ways. Truthfully, Sara is not the first woman I've kissed, but she is totally unique to herself. There is a long moment where we barely touch, soaking up the feel of this first experience.

The urgency has been building too long, fueled on by the precariousness of our lives recently, and I tilt my head to slant my mouth over hers. A faint whimper trembles from her to me as she opens up and flicks a curious tongue against the corner of my lips. If neither of us tastes too great after sleeping, neither of us seem to give a damn as the kiss intensifies. Slender, sensitive hands curl into my already tousled hair, caressing my scalp as thoroughly as my mouth. I moan hungrily, inflamed by this embrace.

Torso half atop Sara’s narrower frame, pelvis nestled against her sharply defined hip, I am burningly aware of every point where we touch. My hand caresses her cheek to feel the movements of her jaw as we kiss, slow and deep. There is no sense of who is being more aggressive in the kisses, but I'm certainly loving the strong hold she has in my hair.

It's as though we've done this a thousand times before. We aren’t touching nearly enough and Sara solves that problem by shifting to her side and wrapping a leg around my hip and thigh. I'm beginning to realize that she's a wildcat under the cool exterior and it thrills me. Heat burns through the heavy material of our pants into my groin, making me dizzy. While mouths and tongues continue to duel, hands begin to explore. I run one hand over the expanse of Sara’s back and over the curve of her hip, earning a low growl of desire and I lean away from the kiss to regroup emotionally. For an endless moment we stare at each other, shocked by what just happened. There is wariness mixed in with the thick pleasure in her expression and I knew the same thing reads in my gaze. When she shifts her weight slightly, I can’t stop the groan of pleasure from the bolt of arousal that flashes through me.

"I’ve never felt this way before," Sara confesses quietly. The weird mixture of bewildered and defensive in her voice causes my heart to skip a beat. Once again, she touches my face, and the sweet intimacy of the gesture draws me in even more than her kisses. "You are so amazing," she muses, embarrassing me, but pleasantly so. Then, abruptly, she grins wildly and my heart is completely in her thrall. "I have to admit that I'm perversely thankful to that damn storm now."

I can’t stop the strangled snort of laughter at her impeccable comedic timing. Then she tugs imperiously at my hair and I am lost once more in her kiss. When we come up for air, I am desperate for her, all sense of propriety blown away by the taste and feel of her. "I’ve never felt like this either," I whisper against her mouth, watching the rich brown eyes closely. "And I've never been more glad to be trapped with someone in my life."

++ Sara ++

Sofia is impossibly seductive, eyes fiery and royal blue, hair completely in disarray, her expression stark, focused and hungry. Normally, I would be completely intimidated and shaken but something about her makes me feel steadied in the presence of her need.

Normally, I would hate being vulnerable and needy with another human being, but now I tug at her, until her weight settles once more to my body. "That feels good," I whisper shyly into the soft wave of blonde hair that tickles over my face and neck. "I wish I were more mobile."

The petulant complaint makes Sofia chuckle kindly and pull her head up to meet my eyes. "Oh, I'll bet that we can think of something."

Some subtle shift of her weight suddenly changes the intent of her body blanketing mine. It's like the jolt of touching a live wire, an experience I've actually had, and the shock of pure arousal makes my nervous system tingle. Leaving me to process as best I can, Sofia drops her head to press that wicked mouth to my throat. When her entire body moves over mine, I can only moan happily and roll my head back so that she can keep doing whatever it is that she's doing to my neck.

Then I get an even better shock as my wandering hands unexpectedly find the warm, smooth plane of her lower back. Even as I drag my hands higher, wallowing in the feel of her fine skin, Sofia raises her head and stares into my eyes.

Fearless now, absolutely certain what I want from this woman, I do my best to smile seductively, playfully. "Detective, I think a strip search is in order."

It works, making Sofia laugh and press a hard kiss to my mouth before suddenly bursting into a flurry of activity. Part of me shies away at potential jostling of my injured knee, but she is careful and I am treated to the mouthwatering sight of her strong body worked into a stretch as she perches carefully on her heels beside me. Then I'm pleasantly startled when she tosses one of those long legs over my hips and settles herself easily onto me. Strong fingers trail over the different textures of cotton covering me, her touch like liquid fire on my skin. "I suppose I really should clear the scene before you can do your job, hmmm?" The grin is playful and seductive as she leans over to nuzzle my face briefly. There is a strangled snort of laughter from me as her eager hands roam with abandon, inflaming me further.

++ Sofia ++

The first kiss might have been a joint effort, but Sara ups the ante this time as I hiss in reaction to her wandering hands.

"You like that."

It's a statement, not a question, but I'm hardly paying attention as, once again, her curious thumbs brushing over both my erect nipples to test the reaction and I jump on her with a kiss that is rough and demanding.

My t-shirt is jerked loose from the baggy jeans and I yip like a startled dog when those hands, those wicked, sensitive hands, trail around to my back once more and jerk me in close with handfuls of shirt.

I’ve never been kissed like this, rough and sweet and eager. Many times I have fantasized about what Sara would be like as a lover, but this fire is a wonderful shock! Blunt nails rasp over the planes of my back and my grip in her hair grows punishing.

I can’t stand the torture for one more damn second, and tear away from her seductive mouth with a growl that almost scares me before sitting up. While I shakily try to strip out of my shirt, I feel her shift suddenly beneath me, dragging my body further up the bed. "You are gorgeous," Sara whispers soft and awed in my ear and I feel myself blushing from the navel up. Tender-rough hands sweep over my belly and I cry out hoarsely as she confidently cups both breasts to worry at my swollen nipples with firm gentleness.

"God Sara!"

++ Sara ++

I am ecstatic at how responsive she is, grabbing my wrists to encourage my caresses. Groaning and growling, she eggs me on as I draw my one good knee up to give her something to lean back against. While I am painfully wet and swollen from all the making out, I'm more than happy to set aside my arousal and focus on her.

The pleasure of the warm, full weight of Sofia's breasts in my hands chases off any nervousness that would normally make me doubt myself and start to pull away. I would have never guessed at how good this feels, to really feel another woman. So much wasted time… When my thumbs again brush over her hard nipples, I earn another hiss of response and Sofia throws her head back and arches her back as I delicately knead her sensitive flesh. I am enthralled by the way her slender body begins to writhe in abandonment, hot color rising on the pale skin.

Cupping my hands around the whole ripe swells of her breasts, I marvel at the sight of my familiar hands doing this. Her fingers pulse strongly around my forearms and her lovely voice drops well into the low alto range as she murmurs at me.

"Sara, oh god, Sara, come on," she murmurs deliriously, and I am awed at the effect I have on this strong woman. My caresses range from feathery brushes over the pebbled areolas, to an almost rough grip of fingertips shooting fireworks across her nerve endings.

Silky skin whispers across my cheek and jaw as Sofia leans forward to nuzzle my neck. I have long admired the sensual shape of Sofia’s mouth, watching her talk and drink and eat. All of those pleasures fade at the feel of wet suction at the tendon and muscles protecting my wildly pounding jugular. Sharp teeth rasp over the pulse point and I cry out finally, a shocking sound to me in its rough neediness and volume. Okay, I need a different kind of distraction before I combust.

"S... sit up, Sof, so I can return the favor," I moan softly and after a distracted moment, Sofia complies. I can't meet her distracting eyes and stare instead at her curvy torso, blunted by the battered men's clothing. My hands settle restlessly on her hips, thumbs tickling back and forth beneath the trailing edge of the shirt, intoxicated by the softness of her skin. The temptation of that skin is too much to bear and there is no resistance as I begin to unbutton the loose men’s workshirt covering her. Smooth, creamy skin is revealed in a long, teasing stripe down her body. My breath strangles as I tug her loose shirt away from her body. Something wary and needy dances in her gaze as she watches my face.

Sofia’s well-formed torso shifts my perceptions of the universe around me. Like driving a nail into wood or cementing a brick into a wall, I am forever changed. All from the sight of her beautiful bared skin. Her flushed curves are mouth-watering, nipples the color of salmon pink roses. Reverently, I lay both hands over the thrust of collarbones, tracing over the powerful muscles in shoulders and upper arms, pushing the shirt further away. Burning blue eyes watch like a hawk as I read her like Braille, my whole attention in my fingertips and palms.

++ Sofia ++

The reverence in Sara's touch is something I would not have expected. The look of total concentration is everything I anticipated if I had the chance to get her in bed. So far I've held my tongue, letting her set the pace. Whatever caused the fearful wariness in her eyes is a minefield I have no intention of setting off.

With nothing but the strength in my back and hips, I hover above Sara's prone body, kissing her deeply and letting my hands wander over her slender torso. When I grab the edge of her borrowed t-shirt, she stiffens for just an instant before relaxing in trust.

I hold her eyes as I push the fabric away from her skin. My touch is reverent and gentle because she must not think that it's only the physical that I want from her, because nothing could be further from the truth.

However, it's getting really damn hard to keep my hands to myself as Sara trails curious fingers over my torso and exposed breasts with a freedom and relish that would have shocked me even just a few minutes ago. So, I break the eye contact and trail my appreciative gaze over the angular soft planes of her.

"You’re beautiful," I hum quietly, leaning back into Sara's soft flesh and nuzzling my way from sternum to windpipe, pressing the lightest of kisses to that vulnerable spot. Her breath hitches but her body remains calm and trusting. Teasingly, I lick at the corrugated pattern of her throat, making her gasp, and turn my attention to the soft underside of her chin.

"Feel so good," Sara groans softly as I kiss my way from the hard curve of her jaw to the soft underside and back up the other side. The loving attention earns a soft note of surrender that morphs into a low, possessive sound that makes the fine little hairs on my arms stand on end and my nipples get even harder. Trailing kisses up to her nearest ear and catching the lobe to be suckled lightly makes our hard nipples brush together, getting both of us to jump and moan.

That is the most exquisite sensation… and I don't hesitate to do it again; once more tickling our erogenous zones together, coupling the maneuver with deep suction on Sara's earlobe. She can't seem help the spasm of her hands in my hair and a low, lusty groan grates up from her chest like rusted door hinges being forced open. That's what I want, her complete surrender, and I want it again and again…

With a quick twisting of our intertwined bodies, I'm abruptly cradled beneath Sara's lanky weight. The blissful shock of our naked skin pressed together eclipses every other sensation for long moments. Soft on soft, our curves dovetail together with heart-wrenching ease. Looking into shadowed brown eyes, I know this is more than just an experiment or a fling just because we woke up all twined together. "Have I ever mentioned that I really like you?"

For a moment, Sara gives me a strange look before the muscles of her face twitch. In moments I am treated with the most heartbreakingly sweet smile I have ever seen on an adult face. Awed by the power of that tender grin, I drink in the feeling. "Thank you," she murmurs softly, vulnerable but not fearful; one more reminder to be careful with her heart. "I really like you too. I think I have since you came back with the badge and the swagger." Sara flushes rosy with embarrassment at the confession. I can't help but grin in delight at her sweet discomfiture. "This," her expansive hand gesture includes our little love-nest and intertwined bodies, "is more than I would have hoped for."

++ Sara ++

Certainly I feel buffeted by my unfamiliar feelings but strangely, I don't feel as threatened by this as my history might suggest. Stroking my back tenderly, Sofia coaxes me to snuggle down into her body. It doesn't take much effort and I settle with a happy sigh. It occurs to me that I'm going to have an extremely difficult time sleeping without her. The sudden serious thought is chased away by Sofia's voice. "Well, you've been flirting with me forever," she teases softly and I can't help but join in on the quiet merriment.

"Me? God woman, you've been driving me mental since you came strutting back into our lives. As much as I bristled at you as a CSI, I can't keep away from you now."

The confession startles me, and yet I'm not shocked at all that I said it. So gently, Sofia tugs at my chin until I tilt my head back enough to meet her twinkling gaze. "Oh really? I'll keep that in mind." Stroking my dark hair, she effortlessly holds my gaze. "I always found you fascinating, right from the first."

Never, never would I have thought that, and the wave of emotion can only be weathered one way, which it to roll to my side and wrap this stunning woman in a crushing hug. She's found me fascinating all this time? It's a mind-bending concept, as I've spent my entire life trying to keep others at arm's length.

There's a long moment of bonding as we just hold each other and let our emotions calm, Sofia once more stroking my hair in a gesture I think I just might grow to love. In many ways this is more intimate then the making out, and I'm still shocked by how comfortable I feel.

In that comfortable space, arousal builds again like smoke gathering in a confined space, warning of fire nearby. The gentle touches of Sofia's competent hands change intent, becoming heavier and sensual, making my heart race and my blood heat. As she nuzzles at my face and throat, it takes only heartbeats for my ability to think to be lost in her taste and feel as she seduces me again.

Before I know it, Sofia manages to wiggle her way down my body. Hell, I'm just along for the ride, totally in thrall to her seduction. Never leaving off from her open-mouthed kisses, Sofia suddenly noses demandingly at me until I shift away slightly. "What?" I breathe in confusion and she soothes me immediately.

"This is perfect. Just relax…" she purrs softly, the vibrations making my skin sing.

++ Sofia ++

Over time, I have watched this enigmatic woman, barely able to see the carefully concealed facets that many would not make the effort to see. There is a sweetness to Sara, a tender heart that is integral to the whole of her. Yes, there are scars she wears like armor, bristling defensively, scaring off any who would get close to her; disguising the sweetness that caught my attention so long ago. With that sweetness peeping out from beneath the armor, she captured my attention and soothed away my own nerves. What else can I do but respond?

Teasing with my tongue and lips at the hollow of Sara’s throat gives me the pleasure of tasting the sweet saline taste of her skin. But there is more to explore and my velvet caresses wander further down her body and she begins to tense in anticipation. So many years I've wanted this, the feeling of a woman's skin, the sound of her pleasure. So many years I've been too afraid. It's important that Sara know what this means to me, and suddenly it isn’t enough, my mouth moving from tasting the curve of breast to capturing a puckered nipple. A broken sound of ecstasy warms the room in reward for the new sensation. Oh, how I like that. Sucking and pulling at Sara’s body like a starving woman at a feast, I add my own groan of enjoyment in harmony with my new lover. Tender fingers twine in my pale hair to softly caress my scalp and her gentleness slows me down as I coil my tongue sinuously over the hard knot of flesh. Trailing small kisses over Sara’s warmly-toned skin, I work my way over to the other breast to repeat my explorations.

"Oh, Sofia..."

There is so much trust in that shaken voice, so much vulnerability and need. I know exactly how she feels, want to show her exactly what she’s come to mean to me; want to show her that I would rather shoot myself than betray the trust she is showing me in sharing the gift of her body and mind and time. Continuing to suckle gently, I wander a hand downward with a few side trips to caress her soft belly, the curve of strong ribs and the tickly indent of her navel. We chuckle at her squirming before my hand slips beneath the dark blue material of her jeans. I prop myself onto my elbow to watch her expression change, the earthy dark eyes turn smokier. Wispy tendrils of hair are glued to Sara’s damp forehead and she is panting with excitement.

"Are you this soft all over?"

++ Sara ++

I perversely attempt to take the question literally even as Sofia’s wandering hand caresses across my abdomen. Her feline grin warns me that the games are far from over. "I… I guess… I’ve never really paid attention before."

Then those teasing fingers slip into the wiry fur between my legs and my nerves girlie-squeal in reaction. Hell, I think I might have girlie-squealed myself. A delighted grin splits Sofia’s face. "I like it. I like the contrast to your no-nonsense image. Not that I don’t think that you’re not sexy as hell both ways, because you are." Lost in the sensations, anchored by her heart-of-the-flame blue eyes, I reach down to cover Sofia’s hand with my own. I can feel the curve of knuckles and curled fingers through the worn denim, an exciting counterpoint to the press of her touch on my sex. Fully cupping her hand around the sweet arch of my groin, Sofia trails her fingers through the heat and wet, driving me mad. "Raise your knee, lover, and promise you’ll tell me if I do something you don’t like."

"Yes," is all I can manage to groan around the tension in my body. Long muscles ripple as my thighs drift apart and I ignore the dull pain from that bum knee, the other knee nudging up against Sofia's heat. Eyes locked, the gentle exploration continues. I suddenly feel a single finger slip deeper into the damp at the junction of my thighs, sending body and voice wailing in response and my hand clamps down hard enough to make both our bones ache. Squirming and whimpering, I stay locked down on that exploring hand and feel tears gather.

"What’s wrong?" Sofia worries and I shake my head roughly.

"… So strong… never felt like this… I…"

++ Sofia ++

Tracks of wet tears etch their way down Sara’s face and my alarm spikes. "Oh Sara, maybe this is all happening too fast. I don’t want to rush you or hurt you."

Light kisses steal the trails of moisture from the corner of Sara’s clenched eyes as she gradually catches her breath. Then her free hand curls into my disheveled hair to pull my head back until our gazes meet. The blazing intensity freezes me to the spot, branding my soul and forever leaving me marked. "From the first damn time I met you," Sara whispers in a fiercely possessive tone, "You drove me crazy. I thought I didn't like you, that you were some kind of competition. Then you went away and I realized that I missed you." The burn in her dark eyes actually grows more intense, and I can now state that I have been moved nearly to orgasm, or fear, by a look alone. "Then you came back, and suddenly you were everything I wanted but swore I couldn't have. The last couple days have shown that you compliment me in ways no one has before. Give me half a chance to get you under my skin and the other way around, and you might never get rid of me."

Awed by her strength, I search her eyes to drink in the terror and determination and arousal and honesty there. It's more than enough to reassure my worried heart that this is real. I’ve never felt quite like this, never expected to find these emotions with this strong, scarred woman. We continue hunting one another’s gazes for reassurances of this growing bond that thrums like a warm, living thing between us.

"Oh Sara, that was beautiful," I sniffle around the lump in my throat. "I never expected this because you seemed so unapproachable."

"Glad you were so persistent," she smiles warmly and I can't help but laugh. Here we are, in a very compromising position, and Sara Sidle, of all people is cracking jokes at me.

"I knew you'd be worth it, and I was right. There was something about you that attracted me pretty much from the first time that we interacted. I'd really like a chance to figure out what's going on together."

"Fate," she purrs and presses soft kisses to my face before grinning wickedly, nudging at my hand still trapped around her heat. "Now finish me off before my statute of limitations expires."

Once more, I chuckle, nuzzling her face, drawing us both back to the sex. "My pleasure. Slip your hand down here and help me out."

++ Sara ++

My hand in her hair tugs Sofia into a deep kiss while the other slips down the length of her arm. Some point in the future, I'm going to be amazed at my need and audacity. Right now, I just need her touch desperately, and will do just about anything to get it. I'm grateful for the baggy pants as Sofia gingerly curls her middle finger and again I jump as though I’ve grabbed a live wire. Holy crap that feels good… Agonizingly slowly, Sofia strokes through the heat and wet to map me out, and I give up trying to pay attention to anything but the here and now. I can barely remember to direct her touch occasionally; I'm that lost in her loving. I’ve never been uninhibited in bed, but for Sofia, I beg incoherently, squirming like a cat in heat, wanting it so bad that I know my brain is shorting out. Never in my life has a lover driven me wild, never!

The pattern of Sofia’s teasing fingers draws in on itself and centers on the liquid opening of my aching pussy. When I press urgently onward with our twined fingers, she obliges with a sultry chuckle. "Are you telling me I’m teasing too much?"

"C’mon Sofia, I’m gonna need CPR if you keep teasing me…" I whine, and despite the gravity of the situation, Sofia manages a loving smile. Now the pressure is really on and our libidos growl into high gear. Twined fingers slide carefully into dark heat and I moan with lusty abandon at the stretch and thrust of our combined touch. "Please, Sofia... Please..."

++ Sofia ++

Oh, I like her like this. Open and needy, her body ready for the taking. I’ve never touched another woman before, felt the clench of wet, velvet walls, so like my own body and yet completely unique. Her broken whisper starts a rhythm I feel in my bones, the stroking of our intertwined fingers pushing her arousal along. A flick of my thumb, right where I think I should be, curls her up and sends her voice up half an octave. Pressing into the hard little shaft, thrusting our fingers deep into her heat, I wait for the inevitable.

Pulling away her hand, Sara whispers for me to replace the pressure, and I pause to add another finger to the grip of her tight pussy. Unwinding, Sara arches her body back, totally abandoned to the sensations and I am thrilled at her surrender. The hard fist in my hair is probably loosening strands, but I couldn’t care less. Long moments pass as I press my fingers home gently but unmercifully, before repeating the process again and again. Sara is a live wire, a phenomenon I had hoped for, but not expected. Hauling me close by the punishing grip in my hair, Sara holds me to her, mouth to mouth, panting fast, her eyes wild. Locked together like this, body to body and eye to eye, it starts like the building of an earthquake, as Sara gives in with a jolt of completion. I watch the climax scorch across her nerves, race from point to point with the force of a car bomb. Within that satin darkness, the ripples radiate along her long body, pulling her muscles taut. Head thrown back, body arched into a perfect bow, whining like an animal from between clenched teeth, she is glorious. I ignore the ache of her strong hand in my hair and watch the storm pass.

Gradually, Sara relaxes into the bed until she is limp and immobile while I watch with bated breath. When the last tremor passed from body to body, a lazy, satisfied grin curls her kiss-swollen mouth. "You can pat me down anytime, detective."

Snorting with laughter, my emotions very close to the surface, I collapse into Sara's lanky body, gently tugging my fingers from her soft heat and enjoying her hiss of reaction. The laughter is contagious and the giggling rises up in both of us until we are howling with laughter. It is, as always, cathartic, and in time we begin to wind down. I am treated with the treasure of Sara, completely uninhibited, sprawled in the tangled bedding, flushed, giggling and half naked.

"I could love you, y’know." Yes, that was my damn voice that blurted that out. Certainly not the most eloquent expression of adoration, but it could have been worse. "I only want half a chance." It isn’t at all what either of us expected and slowly Sara raises her head to stare at me. There are a few terrifying heartbeats of mutual ‘commitment phobia’, but I know I am right. Suddenly grave, my heart full to bursting, I brush away the faint tracks of laughter tears on Sara's cheeks. "You’d be easy to love, all strength and commitment and brains wrapped up in a really gorgeous package. Seriously."

++ Sara ++

There is still a part of me that wants to tell this surprisingly sweet woman she's wrong about me. There's too much baggage, too much damage to my heart and soul, too much danger with work and reputations and, and, and…

For an endless, agonizing moment I hover there above that terrifying chasm and hold my breath. Then I remember that I can no more resist her than I can stop breathing. So I screw up my courage and give in to the inevitable with a shy smile. "Oh Sofia, you are so wonderful, you really are. I could love you too," I whisper around the choking lump in my throat and feel my fears fall away.

To my relief, Sofia kisses me softly and rolls to her back to pull me against her side. There is tension in her body that is all related to her still-quick breathing and the hard nipples that still stand proudly from her fine breasts. As much as I want her and feel bad that she's sexually frustrated, I really need a few minutes to process. So much of my life has been academic, that the ability to just live in the moment and feel is rare with me.

"I think I lost it completely on that werewolves case," Sofia muses softly, still stroking my head and back. I tear my eyes away from where I have been staring at the way our naked chests blend flawlessly and move my head to stare at her profile. That intoxicating, teasing grin turns on me and I smile helplessly back. "I was so annoyed with you for making me wait, but it gave me a crapload of time to think. Just about the time I convinced myself I was being stupid," an all-encompassing gesture makes me giggle, "there you were. Looking back now, I really wanted to kiss you, maybe even ravish you in that phone booth."

The blush is silly, it's not like she didn't just bring me to exquisite orgasm, but this complimentary behavior is always hard for me to accept. "Watching you leaning up against the cruiser, all arrogance and attitude certainly made me a little mental," I confess and her grin deepens into something playful and predatory.

"You like my new attitude?"

This is as good an opening salvo to ravish her as any I'm going to get. So, I get up on my elbows, leaning over her sturdier frame, nuzzling at her mouth, tracing a teasing hand over her curves. There is a long moment where I concentrate on the smell of her, the feel of her skin, waiting for whatever reaction she will give me.

When her breath hitches suddenly in her throat, I know that she is mine. Settling my weight more solidly onto hers, I smile all coy seriousness. "I think I'd like to explore you further. You know us CSIs," I grin to offset any censure in the words, "just gotta know everything about a scene." Then I let the heat I feel for her show in my expression and her eyes widen and her body grows warm and twitchy beneath me. "And I intend on finding all of your secrets, Sofia Curtis."

++ Sofia ++

I really cannot get over how funny Sara is. There have been glimpses of the warm and enticing woman that I have discovered, but the reality is enthralling. At this point in time, she could ask me to go dance naked in the rain and I'd do it, I'm that far gone. Then my thoughts derail as the earthy dark eyes go dark and possessive. When she swoops in to kiss me, quick and hard, I meet her halfway, and the force of her mouth presses my skull back into the pillow.

"You’re mine," she growls possessively and then she abruptly leans away, leaving my skin to miss the warmth of her. Then I am shocked again when, after a heated look down my body, Sara grabs a handful of denim and jerks me onto my side. Any objection is lost at the press of her mouth to my spine, her body pressing into mine. "I never wanted to be a cop," she growls and I shiver. "But watching you do it, I can see the appeal." Not being able to watch what she is doing is forcing me to concentrate on the raw sensations and it is thrilling. "I have this fantasy of wanting to frisk you," she breathes out hot and raw against my back, her tongue trailing the groove there, making me pant. "Want you pressed up against a wall, me pinning you in place." Color me startled as hell when she grabs my thumb, fingers pressing expertly and almost painfully into the webbing there, and wrenches my arm up my back. "Got anything I should know about?"

Sara's voice has gone dark as a nightmare, and I'm dripping like a slut. Do any of my perps ever feel like this? It's a disgusting and strangely titillating thought, cut short as Sara switches hands so that she can trail the free one over my ribs and hips.

"Concealing anything?" She purrs, still breathing hard into my back, while that hand skims lower, smoothing the worn denim over my belly and pelvis. When she snakes her fingers to the inside of my thigh, I lose all control and moan wantonly, dizzily. The back of her thumb is millimeters from my sweet spot, and I'm near to undone.

Sara wriggles down the bed, and I'm guessing that out-of-context hiss is her bum knee, but the expert hold she has on me prevents me moving much. The tickle of her mouth in the small of my back derails my concern, once more plunging me into the morass of this big, big feeling growing within me.

"God damn Sara... who taught you how... to do this?" is all I can whine in desperation, and the teasing hand jerks away. Before I can straighten out my brain enough to wonder if I've done something wrong, her hand is yanking at the borrowed jeans. With a physical dexterity that would have impressed me if I were any less desperate, I'm on my back, denim digging into my flesh, and shimmying loose from the fabric. Thankfully, my arms are both free, and I can bodily grab Sara to haul her over my body and kiss her wildly. "Sara, Sara, please…"

"I want you..." she growls like a lioness-in-heat tone that ratchets the intensity impossibly higher. I'm not a screamer, no one has ever made me feel enough to make me that crazy, but I have to wonder if my time hasn't come at last. Like a tsunami or an earthquake, it's waiting for the right time to strike. We're attached at mouth, chest, hip, but what I need most is her touch to put the fire out.

And when those rough-gentle fingers slide deep inside, I sob and lose whatever shreds of sentience I have left. The thrust of her slender fingers is sublime, filling and stretching me in all the best ways. Whimpering into her mouth, I draw up a leg, giving her all of me, desperate for the release gnawing at my guts.

Some dimmed part of my upper brain notes that Sara's not rutting away at me like some idiot male, but her hand caresses my pussy inside and out, really making me feel her touch. Panting and dizzy, I climb up the slippery slope of my desperately needed orgasm, entirely enslaved to her pace. It's maddening and exhilarating as I writhe and babble from the intensity.

When it hits, I'm startled by the earthquake rumble that leaves me shaking and rigid, teeth and eyes clenched, totally caught up in the sensations. Like slow motion Hollywood pyrotechnics, I am engulfed.

I'm not a screamer, but this is too big to contain because I have wanted her for so damn long, because I have wanted her so desperately, because we escaped death together, because of reasons I may never understand. It's a scream or an aneurysm, and there's really only one choice that I can make.

To Be Continued in Part 2.