Title: Five Christmases Aiden and Sara Might Have Had
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 7 December 2006
Fandom: CSI:NY/CSI crossover
Summary: The way things might have been, and the way they are
Spoilers/Warnings: Minor for CSI:NY Grand Murder at Central Station and Heroes; minor for CSI Way To Go
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DW06
Disclaimer: They don’t belong to me, for which I imagine they’re very grateful.
Five Christmases Aiden and Sara Could Have Had by Emily
Getting out of uniform takes more than just being good at her job and passing all the tests, or at least that’s what Aiden tells herself as she’s swept through the airport with the rest of the passengers, trying to pick out the officer they said would be meeting her. It’s all about getting noticed, going above and beyond the call of duty, and sometimes that means going to San Francisco on Christmas Eve to pick up a suspect.
Sometimes it means throwing yourself in front of a bullet meant for a CSI, but she won’t know this until Valentine’s Day, when she’ll save a man’s life, get shot in the leg and taken off active patrol, then picked up by CSI in what she’ll never quite believe isn’t a pity assignment.
She spots the woman with a San Francisco PD sign a moment before she turns in Aiden’s direction, and, even after it turns out saying they had the suspect was maybe a little more wishful thinking than fact, the CSI who’s been sent to pick her up pretty much makes it worthwhile.
Even more so when Sara Sidle offers Aiden her couch, since she’ll be staying over while they finish actually picking up the suspect.
The offer of the couch is less than entirely fact as well, but the bed she gets in return, with Sara sleepy and intense and incredibly hot, more than makes up for it.
It never got really cold in San Francisco, and it’s not that warm in Las Vegas, but it still doesn’t feel like proper Christmas there: there’s so much neon that she barely notices the decorations, and while she’s never really celebrated Christmas, she notices that it’s missing.
Gil agrees to her taking four days over Christmas, with a raised eye brow that says he can’t quite believe she’s asking for it. Sara knows just how he feels, even as she books a flight and a hotel.
New York is exactly what she was hoping for, cold and crisp, with lights in the trees and Santas on the streets. It doesn’t annoy her the way she worried it might, and she’s left her cell in Vegas, so no-one can get hold of her. Four days by herself, and she thinks that maybe it wasn’t the Vegas anti-Christmas she wanted to get away from, but the way her colleagues still look at her like she’s out to get them.
On Christmas Eve, she stops for hot chocolate in a little coffee shop near the police building, and listens to the couple at the next table over argue for ten minutes before she realises they’re not a couple at all, they’re CSIs discussing their evidence. The pang of homesickness hits her hard, and she wonders if she should have gone to San Francisco instead.
The guy rolls his eyes and disappears to the men’s room. The woman steals the last of his pastry and grins when she catches Sara catching her, then offers her half of it. Sara offers her the last of her cookie, and they talk about the weather and Christmas, and Sara’s hotel, until the guy comes back and hustles her back to work.
The woman waves as they go out the door and Sara wishes she’d thought to ask for her name.
It wouldn’t be too hard to find out who she is, she thinks, swallowing the last of her chocolate, which is cold and gritty. Go round to the lab, ask her to show Sara a good restaurant in the city. She’s sure the woman would say yes.
She orders another chocolate, and stays in the coffee shop till it closes.
Aiden would have missed the call, except she left her gloves in the office and had to go back for them, because it’s eleven in the evening and the air is white with frost. She contemplates leaving it for someone else to pick up, but she’s never been able to resist a ringing phone, so she sighs and answers it.
“Hi, my name’s Sara Sidle, I’m a CSI in Las Vegas, and we think your lab might have information on a suspect in one of our cases.”
There’s no apology for the time or for calling at that time on Christmas Eve, just the sentence and an expectant pause.
Aiden shrugs her coat off and boots her computer back up. “All right, I’ll see what I can find. Have you got a case number?”
It turns out to be one of her cases, that the call was actually put through to her, rather than bounced around for an open phone line, one that they never quite got a handle on, never actually came even close to solving, and Sara wants more than just the bare facts. She tells Aiden bits and pieces of their case, then the whole story, dates and times and locations, and they match up so well with Aiden’s case that they both boot up the internet and start looking, bouncing theories back and forth.
Aiden mentions getting coffee while she’s waiting for a file to download, explains that she’s tired because she was on her way home. Sara sounds wired and says that she just started her shift, working nights. Aiden would sympathise, but there’s clearly no point.
When she comes back to the phone, coffee in hand, the file’s sitting waiting for her, and Sara complains about the Christmas hold music they have. Aiden agrees with her, then finds the extended version of Jingle Bells that her brother sent the other day, and emails it across to Sara, just to annoy her.
They hang up at one thirty, and Sara wishes her happy Christmas.
She has the next two days off, but when she gets back, there’s an email waiting from Sara, with an arrest report and a cartoon singing frog attached to it.
When they finally meet for the trial in July, Aiden can pick Sara out of the crowd of people waiting at Arrivals in an instant, without ever having seen a photo of her.
Aiden’s the one with nothing but free time and Sara only gets Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off, so she sends her a copy of the front door key and makes sure to leave on time on the 24th. Aiden’s still sleeping, doesn’t even wake up when Sara slips into bed next to her.
It’s hopelessly soppy, and Sara’s glad Aiden’s too heavy a sleeper to wake up and catch her, but she lies there in the dim morning light and watches Aiden. She looks more relaxed than she’s been in months, since before she turned up on Sara’s doorstep, said, “I’ve been fired,” and burst into tears.
It’s just an illusion, though, because she’s sleeping. Sara knows that when she wakes up, her face will slide back into the determined mask that Sara can’t seem to get past and doesn’t know the meaning of. Aiden’s got a plan, one that she’s not sharing, and Sara can’t shake the unease that fills her bones every time she looks at Aiden’s face. She doesn’t believe in premonitions or predicting the future, but she’s a CSI and she’s learned to trust her instinct.
Something’s going to happen, something bad, and she doesn’t know how she can stop it.
She’s just beginning to doze when Aiden finally wakes up, and they spend the rest of the day in bed.
It’s just like before, kissing and touching, and tickling Aiden’s wrists to make her laugh.
Sara keeps her eyes closed as much as she can, and tried not to look at Aiden’s eyes.
Gil offers her over-time, even though they don’t need it, offers to make her dinner, offers to take her out, offers her a plane ticket to New York or San Francisco, or anywhere else she chooses.
He’s trying to be considerate, but it takes everything Sara has not to scream at him to stop. She’s not sure what she’s doing with him, not sure why she took the comfort he was trying to offer, or how to escape it now she has.
She turns down all his offers, takes the two days she’s due this year, her name somehow up on the roster again, and goes back to her apartment.
It doesn’t look like Christmas, the presents she’s been given still in her locker at the lab. She’d like a drink, but she doesn’t do that now, doesn’t take the kinds of risks she might have done before. Instead, she makes coffee and leans at her window in the dark, staring out at the street.
It’s easier this way, removes some of the temptation to turn around and look for things that she wishes were there and wishes weren’t.
The fingers sliding over her neck are warm, leaving a trail of burning nerves behind. The kisses pressed to her shoulder blade are gentle and too soft to leave a mark. The arms she’s used to wrapping round her waist are just hands, settling low on her hips where she can’t see them without looking down.
Sara stares at the empty street below her, leans back into an embrace she knows isn’t there and thinks about falling.