Title: Third Time’s the Charm
Feedback address: cherokee1962verizon.net
Date in Calendar: 23 December 2015
Pairing: Catherine Willows/Sara Sidle
Rating: NC-17/M Sexual Situations involving women, hurt, comfort, language, angst
Word Count: 20,171
Spoilers: Final episode of CSI Fix it fic
Summary: AU: Catherine returns to Vegas to help find the terrorist who exploded a bomb in her casino, the Eclipse. This tragedy also brings back Gil Grissom. Is she ready to see her ex Sara with her Ex-husband, and what are these strange feelings she is having every time she is near Sara?
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Author's Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, just having some fun with them. They are owned by CBS Corp. No profit is being made with this story.
Note: This is a fix it fic in response to the final episode of CSI. I love the show and have shipped Catherine and Sara for years and felt insulted both intellectually and fan wise to her ‘sailing off in the sunset’ with Grissom at the end of the series finale. So I decided to end it my way. Made me feel better at least. I hope you at least are amused by it and thanks for reading it.
Third Time's the Charm
Chapter 1: Present Day
Sitting in D.B.'s office, Catherine couldn’t help but think of Sara; the way Sara's head shot up when she had heard Catherine’s voice as she came into the Eclipse; and the surprise and joy she'd seen in Sara's eyes, even amidst the carnage around them. “Was it just a few hours ago?” Catherine thought. She had to admit seeing her ex had made her feel like everything would be alright, even if just for a few moments. The feelings that quickly coursed through her when Sara embraced her took her by surprise and almost started the tears she had been struggling to hold back.
“Catherine. I’m so sorry.”
Those four simple words, coupled with the look in Sara Sidle’s eyes almost undid Catherine Willows. She wished, for just a second, one brief moment, to fall into Sara’s arms and let Sara take care of her. Accept the comfort that look seemed to offer. “Sara. I just got in from L.A. Tell me how I can help.”
It was the pause. It was so slight, so minimal that if you didn’t know Sara as well as Catherine did she might not have even seen it. “Well…I’m not sure. It’s a conflict of interest.”
That quickly the old Catherine wanted to come roaring back and fight. “Legally I’m the owner of the Eclipse!” Catherine snapped. Her eyes had narrowed and her stance changed from wanting to lean on Sara to the old push and pull posture of when she was Sara's boss.
Sara backed down instantly, “Of course, of course.”
Catherine barely heard the rest of what she said, so surprised that Sara had given in without fighting her like she would have in the past. Was it compassion, had the dark-haired woman changed that much, or was it just not worth the fight?
Catherine had been told Grissom was on his way and even though she worried how his arrival would affect Sara, it was easy to put on a smile when she saw him; he had been a good friend once, and he had even given his blessing when he found out Catherine and Sara had become a couple. He had told Catherine in a long ago phone call, “I always knew, was just waiting for Sara to realize you were the one she really needed, not me.” She felt no threat from his presence and knew there should be no reason she should. “Might make it a little more difficult to get to talk to Sara alone if she’s going to be playing hide and seek to avoid Gil,” Catherine thought as she watched the former married couple. She couldn’t help but grin at the little jabs from Sara at Grissom. “That’s my Sara!” she thought with a smirk, then couldn’t hide her surprise when Sara suggested Grissom accompany her to Lady Heather’s house.
Everything Catherine saw suggested that Sara believed Lady Heather Kessler was, at the least, involved if not outright guilty of the bombings at the Eclipse Casino and the local school. It was also plain to see that she thought Gil was still infatuated with Heather and that was why he couldn’t see what was so obvious to everyone else. Even as much as Catherine hated to jump to conclusions or try to make the evidence fit Heather, she thought Gil was pushing his theory a bit far. “Poison flowers that turn you into a zombie? Really?” Catherine chuckled to herself, rolling her eyes when Sara glanced at her. “What next, Aliens looking for a little BDSM thrill from Lady Heather?”
Judging by the looks on the others' faces, Catherine was the only one surprised when Grissom walked in with Heather when evidence pointed to the likelihood that the ex-dominatrix was the burned corpse lying on the autopsy table. Catherine wanted to ask how he knew or how he had reached her, for that matter, when they had been looking everywhere for her. . During the interview the hostility Sara showed made it so obvious that her pain over Grissom was far from in the past, and Heather knew just where all the sore points were and pressed hard on them. Catherine followed Sara into the viewing room after she stormed out of the interrogation, “Just breathe Sara. She’s only trying to get a rise out of you.”
“I know, I’m sorry. I lost my cool in there.” Sara gave her a look that said she felt she disappointed Catherine more than herself.
Catherine shook her head, “Don’t beat yourself up. I don’t feel the way you do about Grissom and I want to kill the bitch with my bare hands.”
Sara’s eyes had widened and she appeared to stumble over the words that refused to come. It looked like she wanted to deny Catherine’s words, wanted to tell her that she was wrong.
“I’m a woman; I know it when I see it. So does she, remember that.” Catherine continued, not allowing Sara to say anything. She covered the hurt she felt inside as well as she could. To hear Sara confirm her belief or try to deny it would have cracked the wall she had built around herself to get through this case, get through seeing Sara again. “I’m going back in.” Without another word, Catherine moved past the still silent Sara and returned to the interview.
“Do you love him” Lady Heather asked Sara, her one eyebrow lifted in curiosity.
“Yes, I do” Sara practically spit out, “Do you?”
“Love him?” Lady Heather asked, a slight chuckle of amusement in her voice. When Sara nodded slightly Heather sighed; “No.”
There was no denying the look of relief and hope on Sara’s face at that simple word. Catherine could not explain the spear of pain that shot through her heart when she saw that look. She stood on the other side of the double mirror, watching the interview in secret. Even though she had guessed that Sara still held deep feelings for Grissom, and had even let the dark-haired woman know she knew, she still couldn’t help feeling gutted at that moment.
“What did you expect, Cat, for her to say no?” Catherine muttered to herself as she hastily wiped the lone tear that had run down her cheek. “There was no reason to think anything had changed since before I walked away. He still has that mysterious hold on her.” Catherine sighed, shook her head and left the observation room, the remainder of the interview of no real interest to her. “Jesus, and what do I even care? It’s been over between us for years now,” Catherine thought as she rushed away. “Not like she has looked at me like she’s been looking at Grissom.”
Lindsey hurried passed the break room, looking for her mother to tell her that she had actually helped Grissom by finding a clue on the luggage she had brought in earlier. She was heading for the lab but a glance to the side revealed her mom standing over the coffee machine, just staring down at it as if she had no idea how it worked.
“Mom?” She entered the room and slowly moved over to Catharine. “Mom, you okay?”
Catherine gave a slight jump then laughed, “Lindsey! Sorry; deep in thought. Yes, I’m fine.” Picking up the coffee carafe she motioned toward a cup, “Would you like some, honey?”
“Umm, no thanks.” Lindsey looked at her mom and reached out to lightly touch her hand. “Are you sure you’re okay, Mom? I know this case has been really hard on you, but…” Linsey wasn’t sure how to say what she thought was bothering her mother.
“But what, honey?” Catherine finished making her cup of coffee and looked up at her daughter, struck as always by how much she had grown. “This has been exceptionally difficult. Just too close to home, you know? And seeing everyone again; it can be very emotional, even for an old broad like me.” Catherine laughed and gave her daughter’s hand a reassuring squeeze.
“So it has nothing to do with Sara then?”
“Sara? What would it have to do with ---“
“C’mon, Mom. I’m not a little girl anymore and I’m not blind.” Lindsey glanced over her shoulder to make sure no one was coming into the room, “I’ve always known how you felt about Sara. I thought for years she was my second mom before she became ‘Aunt Sara’, then just Sara.”
Now it was Catherine’s turn to just open and close her mouth, the words not coming as she stared at her daughter in shock.
Lindsey gave her Mom a soft kiss on the cheek and smiled, “We’ll talk later, I know you’re busy. But, Mom…please don’t let yourself get hurt again. See what’s right in front of you, okay?”
Catherine nodded, “We’ll talk later.”
“It’s alright, baby. I’m not blind either and all of that was a long time ago.”
“And there’s Mr. Grissom.” Lindsey said softly.
“Yeah, and there’s Grissom.”
Catherine was still physically shaking as she sat in her car. “Jesus. Jesus.” She muttered over and over. “Lindsey. I could have been blown to bits and left my little girl.” Catherine ran her shaking hands over her face and let out a deep breath. She stared out of the car window at the flashing lights of the police cars and nodded to Greg when he motioned if she were alright. She closed her eyes for a moment, trying to get ahold of the fact of just how close she, Sanders and Brody had come to being that monster's last victims. She wiped her eyes and gave a sad chuckle as she thought of the face that had popped into her mind at that last second. It hadn’t been Lindsey. No, not at that exact moment. She thought of her child after it was over. At the moment she was sure she was going to die she saw the woman she had loved so hard, and still loved. The woman she realized just how much she loved when she lost her the first time.
“Sara.” Catherine stared in shock as she watched the younger CSI officer walk into the lab. Conrad Ecklie had claimed the replacement officer was experienced but he never said it was Sidle. Catherine pulled herself up and hurriedly stuffed away all the emotions that were suddenly whirling through her mind as she looked at the woman she once, and if she were honest with herself, still loved. “Sara, this is a surprise.”
“Catherine.” Sara nodded but only met Catherine’s eyes for a moment. “I heard you needed some help, so here I am.”
“Oh, so you are here to save the day, eh? How noble.” Catherine scoffed. “Is Gil parking his white horse?”
“Grissom isn’t here, just me.”
Catherine rose an eyebrow in question but Sara was looking at Ecklie, “Can I take a look at the evidence please?”
Catherine nodded and watched as the pair turned and headed toward the lab, her mind filled with questions and conflicting emotions. It would be almost a month before Sara would reach out and talk to Catherine about why she was back and the fact that she and Grissom were separated, and that she still held feelings for Catherine.
It took time but Catherine let her back into her life and into her heart and slowly they began to rebuild their friendship, then their relationship moving toward having what they both had claimed they wanted before Sara left for Costa Rica. There were issues of course. The road was not smooth, but Catherine was positive this time her love would be enough. Sara was still technically married to Grissom and mourned the loss of that relationship, but Catherine understood. Grissom had been so much more to Sara than a lover or husband. He had filled all the missing male role models Sara felt she needed, so to lose him, in any fashion at all, caused her great anguish even as she gave her heart to Catherine.
“It’s over, Cat.”
“I’ve heard all of this before, Sara. You tell me it’s over then you sit and pine because you haven’t heard from him.” Catherine crossed her arms over her chest and tried not to glare at her lover. “It’s way past getting old, darling.” Catherine sympathized, but her patience had been pushed well past its limits and only her feelings for Sara kept her civil when this subject arose.
Sara silently handed over her phone, email screen open. “Here. See for yourself.” She sat down and watched Catherine’s face as she read the email Grissom has sent to Sara. Her expression changing from one of patronization to incredulity as she read.
“He’s telling you this via email?!” Catherine asked, her voice escalating. “What an asshole!”
Sara shrugged, “The point is, it’s over. Really over this time.”
“Oh, baby, I’m so sorry.”
Sara glanced up in surprise as Catherine rose from her chair and rushed around her desk to embrace her. “You are?” She mumbled into Catherine’s cleavage. “I thought you would be happy.”
“Oh, sweetie, no.” Catherine bent down and kissed Sara lightly on the lips. “I mean, yes, I wanted it over between you and Gil once and for all, but I knew it would bring you pain; but I never expected him to be so callous about how he did it.” She pulled Sara back into her embrace, “You deserve so much more than that, baby. So much more.”
Sara looked up at Catherine and smiled, “I love you, ya know.”
“I know, baby, and I love you, too. Always.”
“You okay in there?” Greg knocked on the driver’s side window, making Catherine jump.
Ripped from her memories, Catherine just stared at him for a moment then lowered the window. “Yes, yes I’m fine. Guess I was just still caught up in what just happened.”
“Yeah, I hear ya. If you want, I could drive you back to the lab.”
Catherine smiled but shook her head. “No thanks. I really need to clear my head.” She picked up her phone and looked to see if anyone had called to check on her and saw a missed call from Lindsey, but none from Sara. “Have you heard from Sara?”
Greg shook his head, “Not directly, but I did hear they got the bastard and she and Grissom are fine. Same drama for them as us; dude threatened to blow them up after they watched our countdown to oblivion. Wouldn’t be surprised if they need some time to clear their heads as well.”
“Jesus. Okay, well if you see her…them before I do, just tell them I’ll see them later. I need to go see my daughter.”
Greg smiled at Catherine and nodded, “I’ll let Sara know.” He started to move away from the car then grinned, “And Grissom, too.”
“Mom!” Lindsey grabbed her mother and hugged her as tight as she could. “When I heard…” Her daughter burst into tears and held onto Catherine even tighter.
“Shhh, it’s okay, baby, it's okay.” Catherine whispered as she hugged her daughter back. “I’m fine, I’m fine.”
“Don’t you EVER scare me like that again!”
Catherine laughed, “Lord, you sound like me when I used to scold you.”
“I mean it! I have never been so scared in my life.” Lindsey kept her arm around her mother as they walked into the young woman’s apartment. “I need a drink. How about you?”
Catherine’s eyebrow rose, “Sure. Bourbon for me, coke for you. Right?”
“Mom, I’m over twenty-one, you know.” Lindsey laughed as she went to make them both a drink. She handed her mom her glass and sat next to her on the couch. “I heard things got pretty tense for Sara and Mr. Grissom, too. I’m just so glad this case is finally over. I was hoping my first day would be exciting, but this was more than I bargained for!”
“Welcome to CSI, baby. It only gets better.” Catherine clinked her glass to her daughter's and took a deep swallow of the amber liquid and sighed as she enjoyed the heat of it going down.
“Mom, can I ask you something?”
“Sure, sweetie, anything.” Lindsey fidgeted for a moment then sighed, “Was I right about Sara? You and Sara, I mean?”
“Oh, Lins, what does it matter?” Catherine sighed and took another deep swallow of her drink. “All of that was a long time ago.”
“It’s just…well I can see that Sara still has deep feelings for Mr. Grissom and…” Lindsey stared into her drink and wasn’t sure how to go on. “I don’t want you to think I’m judging you, Mom. I don’t care if you’re bi or gay or whatever. I just want you to be happy and find someone to love you, you know that.”
“Lord. Isn’t this a talk I should be having with you, not the other way around?” Catherine sighed. “I know you just want me to be happy, honey, and I am happy. So stop worrying about your old mom and concentrate on your future, not mine.”
“I guess I’m being rude even asking, but I’ve always wondered about all the times Sara stayed at our house when I was younger. I didn’t think much of it at the time, seemed natural to me to have her there. It wasn’t until she left and married Mr. Grissom that I got a little confused I guess.”
“You and me both, kiddo.”
“See, the thing is, Mom, I see the same look in your eyes that I see in Sara’s and I guess it kinda worries me.”
“I don’t understand.”
“When you look at Sara, and you think no one else is watching…you get this look. At first I thought it was just you being happy to see an old friend but sad at the circumstance; then I realized that it was almost identical to the way Sara was looking at Mr. Grissom.”
“I’m sure you imagined it, Lins. I have missed Sara, greatly. She was once one of my dearest friends and now we hardly even talk on the phone. You spend over ten years working side by side with someone and they become a part of you, and when that ends you miss them. You’ll see.”
“So why don’t you look at Mr. Grissom that way? You worked with him even longer than you did Sara.” Lindsey smirked when her mother glared at her.
“Don’t be a smartass, it’s unbecoming.”
“So I was right. You and Sara were lovers back in the day and you still love her.”
Catherine stared open-mouthed at her daughter’s straight-forward pronouncement, then slowly nodded. “Part of that is accurate, yes. If you must know; Sara and I were lovers, okay? But just like any other couple, it didn’t work out. All of that was in the past Lindsey and I have moved on just like she has. So can we just drop this subject?”
“I hope you mean that, Mom. Sara loves Mr. Grissom. If you still loved her, you would just get hurt and I don’t want that.” Lindsey leaned over and hugged her mom tightly. “Not again.”
“How long are you staying in Vegas, Catherine?” Conrad asked as they walked toward D.B.’s office.
“I’m supposed to head back tomorrow. Once I get my final report filed and get a copy of the CSI report there’s not much left for me to do here.”
“And the Eclipse? What are your plans for that?”
“Well it’s going to take some time to make repairs, and see what settlements we’re going to have to offer to those who were injured in the blast as well as taking care of the families of my employees that we lost. Those people are family, we take care of our own no matter what or where I hang my hat.” Catherine tried not to picture the two little girls who were now orphans and gave a slight shake of her head. “As if there would ever be enough I could do to make any of this easier for them.”
“It will still go a long way, Catherine. You have to know that.”
Catherine nodded, “Vegas will always be my home and I was once just like them. Sam would have done the same. But I don’t have to be here for any of that to happen. Lawyers and insurance companies will handle most of it, time will handle the rest.”
Catherine turned at the sound of the soft voice; she had not expected to see Sara and had been almost hoping she wouldn’t. “Hey. How are you doing? I saw you on the news last night, you handled that like a pro. Wouldn’t be very surprised to see you sitting in D.B.’s chair soon.”
Sara blushed at the praise but waved it off, “I was hoping to catch you; you got a minute?”
Conrad nodded and took the folder from Catherine’s hands, “Go ahead. I can give this to D.B. for you.”
Nodding her thanks and looking curiously at Sara, Catherine followed her to the break room. “What’s up?”
Sara glanced around looking a little uncomfortable, “Umm…I was wondering if…well, we really haven’t had any time to catch up with each other…so, if you don’t have any plans? I’m done for the day in about thirty minutes or so, and if you didn’t mind hanging out; well of course you mind, why wouldn’t you mind? Who wants to hang around a place they don’t work at anymore right? It’s just…we haven’t seen each other or really had much chance to talk for a few…well a lot of months and I---“
Catherine smiled and took Sara’s hand. “Are you trying to ask if I want to go out with you, Sara?”
Sara sighed, relieved. “Yes! I mean yes, not like a date or anything, just go out for a meal and catch up. No pressure, just two friends who haven’t seen each other in a while, ya know?”
“Not like a date.” Catherine repeated, her own disappointment flaring after that moment of joy she felt when she realized Sara wanted to go out with her. “Right. Two old friends just out for dinner. I would suggest the Eclipse but…” Catherine shrugged and Sara smiled.
“I know a place; not as nice as yours, but not too shabby.”
Catherine looked down at her pants and grinned, “Tell ya what. Since you still have a little time left on shift, that will give me time to run to Lindsey’s and change. Meet you back here in, say an hour?”
“You look great Cath, you don’t need to change.”
“It may not be a date, Sara Sidle, but I still occasionally like to dress up when I go out. Besides, it’s my last night in Vegas I might as well go out in style!”
Catherine pulled up in front of the Las Vegas CSI headquarters and smiled when she saw Sara pacing outside. As usual the young woman was wearing her dark jeans and button up shirt. “If I didn’t know better, I would swear that was all she owned.” Catherine chuckled to herself, unconsciously smoothing her hand through her own long, strawberry-blonde locks.
Pulling up beside Sara, she tooted the horn and rolled down the window, and joked, “Looking for a ride, honey?”
Sara jumped, then grinned when she saw it was Catherine. “Hey you.” She replied and slipped into Catherine’s car. “Sure you don’t mind driving? I forgot my car was in the shop when I asked you out for dinner and my bike just seemed…inappropriate.”
“Of course I don’t mind; just point the way.” Catherine gave her a brilliant smile as Sara settled into her seat. Her heart was beating in her chest so fast she felt a little light-headed and she gave herself a slight admonishment, “Easy, Willows. Just dinner, nothing more. Just a little dinner and some talking, so take it easy. Jees, you’re acting like you’re twenty and desperate here. Just calm down already!”
“Are you all right, Cath?” Sara asked.
“Hmm? Oh yeah, I’m fine. Just a stray thought.”
“Care to share?” Sara asked with a small smile.
“Maybe later. So where to?”
“Would you mind a quick stop at my place? I really need to change out of these jeans.” Sara looked down at herself with a slight frown. “I look like a bum next to you.”
Catherine caught Sara looking at the body hugging, simple black dress she was wearing. It was understated, not the least bit flashy and absolutely perfect for any place Sara picked for them to dine. At her throat rested a thin gold chain that for some reason seemed to have just distracted Sara completely. One thing she could never deny was how she loved it when she had such an effect on Sara.
“Don’t be silly, you look sexy as hell!” Catherine’s eyes got wide for a second as she realized what she said, “Shit, did I say that out loud?”
“Yeah, you did,” Sara said with a laugh. “And thanks; you look sexy as hell, too.”
Catherine cocked an eyebrow and grinned when Sara blushed and quickly averted her gaze.
“Even with our blinding sexiness, most restaurants don’t allow jeans, so I need to change. I won’t take long I swear.”
Catherine laughed, “You need to hang at classier places, Sidle. This much sexiness in one car is practically illegal and definitely carte blanche to enter any and all establishments!” She laughed harder at the growing shade of redness on Sara’s cheeks and just shook her head. “Still so damn cute when you blush. Okay, your place, no problem. Still at the same address?”
Sara nodded and Catherine pulled out into traffic, grateful for the distraction of driving. It was hard enough being near Sara at work, but a relaxed, playful Sara out on the town was going to be hell. A delightful hell, but hell none the less.
“Did you want to come up while I change?” Sara asked when Catherine pulled up in front of her building. “I won’t be long.”
Catherine closed her eyes for a moment and sighed, “I better not.”
“Better not? Why, better not?”
Catherine’s eyes flew open and she stared at Sara. Blushing, she was happy the car interior was dark. “Umm…faster if I just wait here. If I go up with you I’ll start running my mouth, or something, and just slow you down.”
Sara frowned but nodded, “Okay. Be right back.”
Catherine watched as Sara jogged to the apartment building’s door and disappeared inside. “Lord, I have got to get a grip on myself!” she muttered. “It’s not a date! Remember that, Willows; it’s not a date so calm the hell down!” Catherine shook her head and sighed. “Lord, I wish this were a date.”
Less than ten minutes later the passenger door opened and Sara slipped in. Catherine just managed to catch a glimpse of leather as the overhead light winked off. She couldn’t see the entire outfit but she did catch a whiff of the distinctive scent of Sara’s leather jacket and internally groaned. “Oh great, leather.”
“So I booked a reservation at Koi’s. Is that cool with you?”
“Sure; I’ve been dying to try that place. Shall I head there now, or do we have time for a drink?”
Sara glanced at her watch and nodded, “We should head over there now. We can get a drink there if you’d like; but they can be very strict on reservation times.”
They were led to the bar by the maître d', “Your table will be ready in a few minutes, ladies. You are a tad early it seems, but that is fine as long as you don’t mind the wait.” He smiled as he held out a stool at the bar for Catherine.
“Not at all. We figured better early than late,” Sara replied.
“Hmm, I wish more patrons thought that way,” he mumbled as he bowed and backed away.
“The usual, Cath?” Sara asked as she motioned for the bartender.
With a smile and a nod, Catherine looked around as Sara ordered her a whiskey and soda and a beer for herself. She was trying not to outright stare at Sara in her skin-tight, leather pants; black, silk shirt; and distressed-leather blazer. This was simply Catherine’s favorite outfit of Sara’s, and knew the younger woman wore it whenever Sara had to dress up but wanted to feel comfortable in her own skin. It was not a manipulative ploy to get Catherine’s attention, it was just who Sara was with her hair down. The fact that it made Catherine’s blood pressure rise ten points was just a biological side-effect.
“I'm surprised you remember my drink of choice.” Catherine said as the bartender put it in front of her.
“I remember everything from those days, Cath. You’d be surprised,” Sara said.
“Probably would be,” Catherine agreed. “Beautiful place; you come here a lot?”
Sara looked around and shook her head. “Nah. Once or twice for special occasions. I really don’t go out much anymore, and things rarely qualify as special.”
“No dates? Surely you’ve been out a time or two.”
Sara blushed and began to fiddle with the label on her beer bottle. “One or two, here and there. Nothing serious for a long time. Work doesn’t allow for much of a social life. You know how that is.”
“I thought I had heard you were dating, a lawyer I think?” Catherine watched Sara’s eyes, looking for something, but not sure what.
“Me? A lawyer?” Sara laughed heartily. “I don't know who you’re getting your information from but you might want to consider a new C.I., because the one you have is way off base! The closest I got to dating anyone in law enforcement was a very short affair with a cop…lasted a week, I think.”
“That long?” Catherine shook her head. “Must have been hot; you know what they say, the hotter it burns the faster it goes out.”
Sara shrugged. “We both got what we needed at the moment and moved on. It happens.” Sara took a long pull on her beer and looked at Catherine, “And you? How has your love life been?”
“Love life? Not sure I would use that term; sex life maybe. Or is that too crude? Anyway, I’ve been out a few times. Dinner, theater, a dance or two, that sort of thing you know. Nothing very serious though.” Catherine met Sara’s eyes, “I’ve gone that route and it didn’t work out. No reason to follow that road again, easier to just find a way to satisfy the occasional physical need and move on.”
Sara was about to respond when the maître d’ stepped up; “Your table is ready, ladies. This way, please.”
They were seated in a private booth for two that was wide and comfortable. The maître d' pulled out the table so Catherine could slip in first, followed by Sara. Once they were settle, Sara leaned slightly closer and said softly, “I neglected to mention how lovely you look tonight, Catherine. Date or no date, you look beautiful as always.”
Catherine’s face lit up in a bright smile and her eyes seemed to twinkle, “Why thank you, Sara. How kind of you to say so! I was trying to think of a way to tell you how nice you looked without sounding…inappropriate. Even though you know how much I always loved it when you wore leather.”
Catherine chuckled when Sara blushed a deep red and glanced down at her outfit. “It was the dressiest, casual thing I could find quickly. I hope you don’t think I’m trying to be manipulating or…whatever.”
“A girl can dream.” Catherine mumbled and picked up the menu. “Since this is a place you know, any suggestions?”
“If you don’t mind, and if I may assume your tastes haven’t change, I would like to order for us.”
Catherine looked up, surprised but nodded. “As you wish; but I must say, Sara, that is straying into date territory.”
“I’ll take the risk,” Sara said with a playful grin.
The waiter came over and Sara began to order, keeping both her taste and Catherine’s in mind. “We would like to share the cucumber sunomono and the Kobe style potstickers to start, please.” She glanced at Catherine who just smiled back. “Oh, add some lobster tacos as well. They are amazing!” She said to Catherine. “And for our entrees, my friend will have the steamed Chilean sea bass and I’ll have the miso bronzed black cod. Also sides of shishito potato mash, sautéed asparagus with mushrooms and some shiso pickled slaw.” She paused, closing her menu and handing it to the waiter then added, “Also send a bottle of your best sake.”
Catherine’s eyebrow shot up and she grinned, “Are we celebrating, Sidle? That’s a lot of food you ordered, and a bottle of sake?”
Sara shrugged, “Maybe a little celebration. I wasn’t going to mention it, but…”
Catherine shifted uneasily in her seat, “Well, don’t keep me in suspense.”
"It’s not going to be announced until tomorrow so you can’t say anything to anyone—“
“Who would I tell?”
“Lindsey, for one.”
Catherine laughed, “Okay. My lips are sealed, what’s your secret?”
“There’s a good chance I’m going to be promoted to Lab Supervisor tomorrow.”
“Oh, my God, Sara; that’s wonderful!” Catherine threw her arms around Sara and hugged her tight. “You have wanted that position for so many years and, lord knows, you deserve it more than anyone! I’m so happy for you!”
Sara grinned, obviously feeling proud. She seemed just as pleased with Catherine's praise as she did the promotion itself. She began to talk about the position and the challenges she would face as the waiter brought out their starters. They ate and chatted, Catherine making appreciative sounds as she tried something new and found it delicious or if she agreed with something Sara said. This was more talking than the brunette had done in the entire time she had been back in Vegas and Catherine didn’t want it to end, she enjoyed this side of Sara.
“God, I love seeing you this excited and happy, Sara.”
“I am excited, Cat. It’s been a long time coming but I’m ready for this challenge, ya know?” Sara was so caught up she didn’t even notice she had used her old pet name for Catherine as she bit into her lobster taco. “God, this is so damn good!” she mumbled with her mouth full, making Catherine giggle.
Sara looked up and grinned, “You always believed in me, Cat, even when, hell especially when, I didn’t believe in myself.”
Catherine smiled and stared into Sara’s brown eyes and said softly, “Because I always knew you were special, Sara. More special then you ever gave yourself credit for.” Without thinking she leaned forward and gently kissed Sara on the lips. The kiss was light and feathery and she smiled as it landed on the younger woman’s soft mouth, “Congratulations, sweetie. I am so very, very proud of you.”
Sara’s mouth dropped open slightly, and she sat gaping at Catherine, her taco forgotten in her hand. To Catherine it looked as if Sara had been struck by a lightning bolt and the poor woman was frozen in shock. Sara appeared to actually be dumb struck. But then she apparently found the ability to speak.
“Th-th-thanks, Cat. That means a lot to me. Truly.”
Catherine reached out and gently squeezed Sara’s hand, a look so full of emotion passed behind her eyes before she glanced up and the moment was gone. “Ah, here’s the rest of our meal. I’m looking forward to trying this bass, it smells wonderful!”
They ate the remainder of the meal in companionable silence, only commenting on the quality of the food or how much they were enjoying the meal. Sara continued to sneak peeks of Catherine every now and then, already convincing herself the kiss hadn’t happened or at the least that it was normal for friends, especially female friends, to kiss each other like that when they were happy for each other.
By the time the meal was over, Catherine had drunk quite a bit of the sake and was feeling very warm and cozy. She looked at Sara, who was recounting some case from a few months back and her mind began to wander. “She’s so cute,” Catherine thought as she smiled at her ex-lover. “Something about that gap in her teeth just drives me to distraction.” Catherine giggled but Sara hadn’t notice because she had said something she considered funny and assumed Catherine was just chuckling in response. “What is it about you, Sara Sidle? Why do you get to me so badly?” Catherine just slightly shook her head, “You’re not the most beautiful woman I’ve ever been with, but no one has ever moved me like you have.”
“It was amazing, Cath!” Sara gushed about something or other.
“It most certainly was,” Catherine whispered, then leaned forward and took Sara’s face in her hands and kissed her squarely on the lips. The kiss was direct and firm, nothing shy or awkward about it. For a moment Sara froze then began to melt into the kiss as she helplessly responded. When Catherine finally pulled back she was smirking at the look on Sara’s face, even as she was about to begin to admonish herself for losing control.
“Just like I remember. Still a hell of a kisser, Sidle.”
“WHAT THE HELL, CATHERINE?” Sara cried out. She was obviously shocked and surprised and Catherine knew Sara hated being surprised.
“Something wrong?” Catherine asked, smirk still in place. Instead of making her angry, Sara’s response heightened the feelings coursing through Catherine and the past was more alive in her memory than she had ever allowed it to be.
“Why would you do that?” Sara looked at her in shock. “What would make you…?”
“Lust. Desire. Curiosity. Pick one, I’m easy.” Catherine shrugged as she looked Sara up and down. “I was thinking of all the fun we used to have, how amazing we were together, and well there is a hotel right above us so…”
“So what?” Sara asked. “This was just dinner, Catharine, not a ploy to get you into bed! I thought you trusted me more than that?”
“Hmm?” Catherine looked up from the flash of cleavage showing at Sara’s throat and nodded. “Of course I know that, honey, and I do trust you. But what has that got to do with the fact that I want to get you into my bed? As soon as possible, if not sooner.”
Sara’s mouth dropped open and she stammered when she met Catherine’s eyes and saw that she was not joking. She stammered, “Cath…I’m not sure that’s such a good idea.” She looked around like the answer would appear out of the crowd and jumped when Catherine’s hand alighted on her thigh.
“And why is that, darling? We were, if nothing else, good together.” Catherine slid her hand a little further up Sara’s thigh and sighed. “I admit I’m surprised at my own feelings right now, but I’ve long ago decided not to waste time wondering why I feel the things I do and to not let opportunities pass me by. If I had acted on my feelings for you in the beginning maybe we would have lasted.” She shook her head sadly, “If nothing else we would have had more time together before I lost you…twice. There has never been anyone else, Sara, because there is no other you.”
“I hope I’m not interrupting, ladies.” Catherine and Sara looked up at Grissom standing at their table. “I stopped by to see you Sara and Sanders told me you had left to go to dinner. He overheard you making reservations for this place, so I took a chance…” Grissom looked around frowning, “Not exactly the type of place I would have expected to find you but nice, I suppose.” Grissom, as usual, either did not feel the tension between the two women, or felt it or chose to ignore it.
“Grissom.” Catherine said in a flat voice. She was about to make a cutting remark when a young woman stepped from behind him with a shy, embarrassed smile.
“Hi, Mom, Sara.”
“Lindsey, what are you doing here? What the hell is going on here?” Catherine began to stand but Sara put her hand on her forearm and softly shook her head. Catherine glanced at her and relaxed slightly before glaring at her daughter and former boss, “Well? Why the sudden reunion party? Something I miss?” Their booth was in a corner and offered a little more privacy than the other seats, so part of Catherine wondered just how much they had seen as they came in the restaurant; but the other part of her couldn't care less about what either of them had seen.
“Didn’t Sara tell you?" Grissom asked. “I thought this was a celebratory dinner and since I never think of these things I just assumed that’s what was going on here.” He immediately sat down and slid into the booth, sitting close to Sara with a shy smile. “Congratulations by the way.” He said softly to her when she turned toward him.
“Yeah, Sara, We heard the news and figured Mom was taking you out before she headed back to L.A. tomorrow. I ran into Mr. Grissom and kinda tagged along. I hope you don’t mind?” Lindsey gave Sara a dazzling smile. She smiled back and motioned to the empty space in the booth next to Catherine.
“Well we were right in the middle of a conversation that—” Catherine began.
“Of course I don’t mind! Sit, join us. We just finished our meal and were thinking of dessert.”
“Never mind, moot point I guess.” Catherine mumbled as Lindsey slid next to her and smiled.
“So everyone knows, huh? It’s not official yet, there’s still a chance it could go to someone else,” Sara said with a blush.
“I don’t know if everyone knows,” Grissom said. “But Sanders knows and he’s telling anyone who gets within five feet of him as if it’s chiseled in stone.”
Sara laughed and caught Catherine’s eye. She gave her a happy smile and Catherine sighed and smiled back. Before she knew it Sara and Grissom were talking and Lindsey was asking Catherine about her plans for when she got back home.
“Are you still seeing Steve, Mom?” “Who?” Catherine asked as she sipped more Sake.
“Steve. You said he was an agent from Homeland Security that you were dating.”
Catherine didn't miss Lindsey's glance and smile at Sara to see if she were listening and when Sara leaned in closer to hear what Grissom was saying. “I never said I was dating him, I said he asked me out. I didn’t go, he was a bore at work I expected no less outside of work.” She looked at Sara and Grissom and took another sip of her sake, trying not to look annoyed at the interruption of their night.
“That’s what you said about Michael.”
“It was also true about Michael.” Catherine nodded to the waiter who asked if she wanted a refill. “He was boring, too. Is it my fault most of the men I meet in L.A. believe the F.B.I. hype they see on television? Or that I’m not impressed by them or their thousand dollar suits.”
“Oh, Mom,” Lindsey sighed. “You’re not getting any younger you know.”
“And if you want to get any older, you’ll watch your tongue, young lady!” Catherine snapped.
“Sorry. I just mean, I hate seeing you alone and unhappy, that’s all.”
“Who says I’m unhappy? And I was working quite well on the alone part before you showed up, thank you very much.”
Lindsey looked at Sara then her mom, “Mom.”
“Look at them,” Linsey whispered, leaning close to Catherine. “It’s so obvious they still care about each other. Heck, I bet neither would notice if we left right now.” Lindsey giggled, “I never thought I would see Sara actually swoon, but that’s the closest I’ve ever gotten.”
Catherine looked at the pair and snorted, “That is not swooning. I have seen Sara swoon, and that is not it!” She lifted her arm and signaled the waiter for another drink and signaled a round for the table. “We should order dessert since that’s what you are here for right?”
“Ooo, do they have mochi here?”
Catherine sighed and nodded, “I think I saw it on the menu. Sara?” She looked over and she had to repeat herself to get Sara’s attention. “SARA!”
Sara jumped and looked over at Catherine, “Yeah! What? Jesus, Cath, I’m right here, no need to yell!”
“Well maybe if you answered the first time I wouldn’t have had to. It should not be that hard to get your attention when we are less than six inches apart.”
Sara looked surprised then abashed, “Sorry, Gil was telling me about the shark fin problem and it was…anyway. What was the question?”
Catherine looked at Sara then Grissom and shook her head, “Lindsey just wanted to know if they had mochi on the menu, that’s all.”
“Mochi?” Sara asked, not following.
“Mochi; a small, round dessert ball consisting of a soft, pounded sticky rice cake wrapped around an ice cream filling. The original mochi featured azuki bean filling and was very popular, but they added ice cream to adapt it to American taste in 1993.” Grissom spouted in his usual monotone.
Catherine, Lindsey and Sara just stared at him for a moment, then Catherine sighed, “Thank you Gil for that fascinating dissertation. Now, does this fine establishment offer that wonderful sounding concoction or not?”
Sara snickered, “Yes as a matter of fact they do, as well as other more traditional fare.” She glanced at Catherine and grinned, “Personally I suggest the Koi cheesecake with passion fruit sauce. Damn near orgasmic!”
“Damn near, eh?” Catherine whispered close to Sara’s ear with a wicked smirk.
Sara winked at her and Grissom cleared his throat causing Sara’s attention to shift back to him, and the moment passed. When the waiter came over Lindsey ordered the mochi and Catherine ordered the cheesecake with extra passion fruit sauce. Sara looked over out of the corner of her eye and Catherine winked making her blush.
“Might be the closest I get to orgasmic tonight, might as well have double.” Lindsey kicked her under the table. Apparently, she could easily hear Catherine's mumbling and didn’t want Grissom to hear her. Catherine glared at Lindsey but said nothing. She would have plenty to say once they got home.
Soon Grissom was monopolizing the conversation with his tales of the high seas and just how dangerous his new found passion was. While Catherine had to admit it sounded fascinating, she was not very thrilled with the way Sara’s eyes were lighting up as he talked. Last time she saw Sara hang on Grissom’s every word with such, all she could think to call it was ‘fan girl’ devotion, it had ended with her getting a postcard from Costa Rica.
“I didn’t realize things had gotten so out of hand?” Lindsey said, trying to keep the conversation with Grissom going.
“And that’s just the legal trawlers we know about!” Grissom gushed. “The illegal boats are even worse.”
Sara nodded as she looked at Catherine, “Gil was telling me earlier about how they had to swim to the boats and sneak on to load explosives in their hulls. Sometimes sinking them was the only way to stop them.”
Catherine just nodded, what had begun to turn into a promising evening between her and Sara was very quickly starting to look like another night of her taking a sleeping pill as she lay down alone in her bed, hoping to fall off before the memories came and tormented her. She sighed deeply, “No sleeping pill tonight. Too much sake and an early flight took care of that cure.” Sara laughed at something Grissom said and Catherine looked over as she put her hand on his arm. Catherine bit her lip hard to keep her mouth shut and closed her eyes for a moment, “Damn you Gil Grissom! How do you do that?” She opened her eyes and watched Sara for a moment, “Maybe the memories will be kind tonight. Just memories of when it was me you loved, not him.” Sara laughed and Catherine wanted to cry, “God I miss you,” she thought and immediately got angry with herself.
“Isn’t that right, Mom?” Lindsey nudged her mother hard. “Mom? Didn’t you have a case where some guy murdered his lover with a puffer fish?”
“Huh?” Catherine snapped back to the conversation at the table, “Umm…yeah, honey. A few years ago we did have a case like that. I think Grissom was here then, but the years have begun to blend together for this old broad.” She laughed, though it was forced and fake, melancholy having taken root in the dregs of the sake and the wasted opportunity that had been.
Sara looked at her with obvious concern. “You okay, Catherine?”
“Yes I’m fine. I was just thinking I should probably get going.”
“Already?” Sara said quickly, a slight note of desperation in her voice. She didn't seem ready to say good-bye to Catherine.
“Already? Sweetie, I’ve been here for hours and I have a very early flight back to L.A. Besides you have Gil to keep you company if you want to celebrate more.” Catherine looked into Sara’s eyes for just a moment, which was all she could bear just then. “I’m sure his company is more to your suiting anyway.” She patted Lindsey on the arm and motioned for her to let her out of the booth.
“What? Wait, no.” Sara began to stand but the maître d' had come over and pulled the table out so Catherine could step out.
Catherine leaned down and quickly kissed Sara on the cheek, “Thank you for a lovely dinner, Sara. And for making me feel…well for just making me feel again,” Catherine said quietly in her ear. “It’s been a long while since I’ve allowed that. Now I remember why.” She stood straight and nodded to Grissom, “Good night, Gil. It was, as always, a pleasure to see you again. I hope the next time our paths cross it will be under better circumstances. Sara, good luck in your new job, sweetie. Remember everything I’ve…well, I guess everything Gil’s taught you, since he taught me.” She gave them a wide, bright smile and began to turn away. “Lindsey, you need a ride home?”
“No,” Lindsey quickly said. It was obvious Lindsey had wanted to get Grissom to Sara and, consequently, Catherine away from Sara, but it was equally as obvious that she didn't wanted to feel her mother’s anger over it when they got alone in Catherine’s car, whatever her reasoning for it. “There’s a club I promised Jannie I would meet her at later.”
Catherine stared at her daughter then nodded and simply walked away.
Sara jumped out of her seat and she and the maître d did a complicated little dance as she tried to shimmy past him and he tried to move the table for her. “JUST MOVE!” Sara finally bellowed and slid out of the booth. “I’ll be right back!” she called over her shoulder as she raced after Catherine.
“CATHERINE, STOP! WAIT!” Sara called after her receding back.
Catherine handed her valet ticket to the short, stout attendant and sagged. She turned around and watched Sara rush through the crowd toward her, yelling her name. When the younger woman finally reached her, Sara simply grabbed her arm and held on.
“Wait. Please.” She breathed heavily, searching Catherine’s eyes.
“Wait for what, Sara? I said my good nights, I said my good-byes. What’s left to be said?” Catherine turned away from the brunette, her body language suggesting she was protecting herself from a physical blow.
“So much! Oh, Catherine, so much is still left to be said!” Sara looked around in almost a panic and tightened her hold on Catherine, “I had wanted us to have a chance to talk. We’ve had so little time since you’ve been here; with the case, Heather, Grissom, and Jesus, Cat, you were almost killed!”
“And we just spent two hours together, the first hour and a half was very pleasant but the rest left a little to be desired, if I was being honest. You sort of forgot I was even here once Gil showed up, Sara, and that’s all right. Really it is.” Catherine looked up the drive for the valet with her car and glanced back at Sara. “I told you earlier at the station; I’m a woman and I can see what being around him does to you. I know you still love him. Hell, everyone, except maybe him, knows how much you still love Gil Grissom. You’ve always loved him, more than you’ve ever loved me. Lindsey knows it; that’s why she’s being such an ass about all of this. I’m the only one who never wanted to see the truth, even after you left me for him.”
“I NEVER left you for him! I left Vegas. I left CSI. He followed.” Sara’s eyes had darkened and even though Catherine was hurt and angry she had to laugh at herself for the unconscious thought of just how sexy Sara looked when she was fighting for what she thought was the truth.
“Well he’s followed you again.” Catherine looked over Sara’s head at Grissom moving slowly toward the periphery of the valet area, Lindsey staying slightly back in the usual casino crowd. “Look at the bright side, Sidle, maybe he picked up the tab for dinner. Saved you a couple hundred bucks and an awkward morning after. What a guy!”
The valet pulled up with Catherine's car. Sarah was turning to make a comment, “I don’t need him to pay for my damn meal! I invited YOU out not him!” But Catherine was already slipping behind the wheel and the valet closed the door.
Catherine rolled down the window and smiled. “Oh, don’t be that way Sara. The big old lug loves you, too; he just doesn’t know how to tell you. Somewhere he never learned to really show emotions, but he feels them deeply. Go on, sweetie. Thanks for a lovely dinner and enjoy the rest of your night.” The window silently rolled up, not waiting for Sara to say anything in return and Catherine pulled away from the curb.
Sara looked back at Grissom and saw Lindsey disappear into the crowd. She walked back over to him and just gazed at him, saying nothing.
He finally cleared his throat and looked out toward the street, “So you need a ride home?” Sara just sighed, “Guess so. Let me go settle up with Koi’s and I’ll be ready to go, Gil.”
“I took care of it, Sara. It was your celebratory dinner after all,” Grissom said.
“No, it wasn’t. I was taking Cat to dinner, not the other way around. She didn’t even know about the rest until after we got here. So I’ll just hit the ATM and pay you back instead.”
“It’s really not necessary, Sara. Regardless of what the meal began as, it turned into a celebration for your imminent promotion.”
“Some celebration,” Sara sighed but shook her head. “You can get the desserts if you want but I insist on paying for Catherine and my meals. I don’t let someone else pay for my dates, just a thing I take issue with. You understand.”
“Oh. I didn’t realize it was…you said it was just dinner…damn Sara why didn’t you say something? I could have left you two alone.” Grissom looked both crushed and mortified by his faux pas and didn’t know what to apologize for.
Sara just laughed, “Maybe because I didn’t let myself admit it was a date until just now? Maybe because her daughter loathes the idea of her mother seeing me or maybe because I was surprised by the sudden and totally unexpected appearance of my ex-husband at my table! How the hell should I know, Gil? Pick one, any one and make it work for you.” She stomped away to the nearest ATM and made the quick withdrawal, walked back to Grissom and stuffed the money in his hand. “I’ll call a taxi.”
Grissom reached out and took her hand, so softly and gently it surprised her into stopping and she looked down. “Sara, don’t. I didn’t mean to upset you or insult you. Let me drive you home or wherever you want to go.”
“Damn it. Buy me a drink, Gil; that will be a good start.”
“So…” Grissom began as he and Sara sat at a coffee bar not far from the casino.
Sara just groaned, “Not now, Gil. Please?”
Grissom nodded and sat back in his chair and waited. He was, if nothing else, an extremely patient man, and knew when Sara was ready she would talk.
The waitress, a tall, thin, young woman with blue tinted hair, walked over and smiled brightly at them. “How ya’ll doing tonight? Lady Luck been good to ya two?”
Grissom gave her a blank stare as if she were speaking a language he had never heard before and Sara simply growled at her. “Umm…”
Grissom frowned at Sara’s growl and the young woman took a few steps backwards. “Just two coffees, please.”
She nodded and hurried away, looking over her shoulder at Sara.
“It’s not nice to scare the help, dear. We’ve talked about this before.
Sara glared at him then laughed. “Never did master that ‘Woman of the Manor’ attitude they so loved at your university, did I?”
“You did fine.” Sara rolled her eyes and Grissom smiled. “Well, you did fine most of the time. And all of the china was thankfully just reproductions and easily replaced.”
“Hey, that wasn’t my fault! Besides I warned her if she called me ‘Madame’ one more time I would start throwing plates at her but she just wouldn’t listen!” Sara chuckled, “Never did understand what we needed a cook for anyway.”
Grissom laughed, “It was expected for the housewife to cook a meal at least once a month for the department heads, rotating from professor to professor, and cooking wasn’t your strong suit then if I recall.”
“Housewife? I was NEVER any damn housewife!”
“Which is why I had to hire a staff to do the things that the housewife was expected to do.” Grissom shrugged, “Never bothered me. I didn’t realize it had bothered you so much. You should have said something, Sara.”
Sara’s grin fell away. “Oh, I did, Gil. You just never heard me, even when the dishes started to fly. I wasn’t that kind of person; never would be. We moved to Paris for you but I still expected to be seen as your equal not just your wife.”
“You say that like it’s a dirty word,” Grissom grumbled.
“It sure felt like one in Paris. And why are we even talking about that? It was so long ago it doesn’t even matter anymore how it felt.”
“We could talk about tonight and what happened with Catherine, if you’d like.”
“No, I wouldn’t like.” Sara saw how cold her words came out by the slight twitch in Grissom’s eyes and sighed. “I don’t mean to be so nasty about it, Gil, but you and I have never talked about Catherine and me.”
“But you have talked to her about you and me?”
“Well, yeah. Catherine has always been my confidant. She can hear the things I don’t say. I’ve always trusted her to be straight with me and not hold any punches.”
“Something you don’t trust me to do,” Grissom simply stated.
“It’s not that, it’s just…” Sara shook her head. “It’s hard to explain, Gil.”
“I see that. It’s hard to understand as well. You were always someone I felt I could talk to about anything.”
“And yet you never did. Talk to me. Hell, Gil, you only said ‘I love you’ a handful of times during our entire relationship. You never trusted me with the full extent of your relationship with Lady Heather, still haven’t if we’re being honest here; and the cruelest part is that you just don’t see it.” Sara looked up as the young woman placed their steaming mugs of coffee in front of them, and nodded her thanks. She fiddled with the cream and sweetener, more avoiding the piercing gaze from Grissom than an interest in how her beverage tasted.
They sat and drank their coffee, every now and then saying something to each other but not much more passed between them. Grissom had sat back in his chair and was simply watching her. He seemed to find everything she did to be fascinating, from the way she stirred her coffee to how her lips pursed when she blew on the hot drink before taking a sip. He looked incredible sad when she lofted her cup and took the last sip from it.
“I guess I better be getting home, Gil. I can still call a taxi if you’d rather not take me home. It’s really not a problem.”
“I said I would drive you home and I will.” Grissom stood and threw a few dollars on the table and gently helped Sara to her feet. “I’m sorry your night didn’t end the way you expected it to.”
Sara smiled, “Funny thing is it ended exactly how I expected it to. Me going back to my apartment to spend the night alone.”
“You don’t have to spend it alone, Sara,” Grissom said softly.
Sara gave him a surprised look then just shook her head in wonder, “Take me home, Gil. That’s all I can process right now.”
Catherine paced back and forth in her daughter’s apartment, frustrated and angry. “Damn, damn, damn!” She muttered over and over to herself as she paced. Finally she stopped and went searching through her daughter’s cabinets for something to drink and found a bottle of mid-range red wine. She pulled it out and gave it a critical look, “Not my favorite but better than nothing, I guess.” After a short but surprisingly frustrating search for the wine opener, Catherine poured herself a glass and sat in the living room. “If nothing else you should help me drift off to sleep,” she mumbled to the glass and took a sip.
After she finished the first glass, she sighed and eyed the bottle. Rising, she picked it up and refilled her glass and headed toward the bathroom. She took a long hot shower and dressed herself in boxers and a too large t-shirt that was longer than the shorts. She was finally at least feeling comfortable, if not sleepy. She stood at the large window and looked out over the brightly lit city and was surprised at her feelings of melancholy and nostalgia. “God, do I actually miss Vegas?” She laughed at herself, “Or do I just miss some of the people still in Vegas? Oh, but this town has been amazing, I never can deny that.” She lifted her newly refilled glass and silently toasted her home town and sipped while she just stared at the memories that paraded pass her eyes.
Sara stood outside her apartment door, fidgeting with her keys and trying not to look at Grissom. He was standing too close. So close she could feel the heat radiating off of his body, could smell the cologne he put on before he had headed to the restaurant earlier that evening. Everything was set up for the perfect moment; all she had to do was lift her head, close her eyes and he would kiss her. Problem was she wasn’t sure she wanted him to kiss her. Not right now. It just felt wrong to have started the night with Catherine and to end it with Grissom. Just…wrong.
“Thanks for the ride, Gil,” Sara said lightly. “I appreciate it, I really do.” She lifted her head, “I know you would like to come in but…”
He nodded, “I understand. It’s been a long trying day for us both. Get some rest, Sara; big day tomorrow.” Grissom leaned forward and kissed Sara’s forehead, smiled, and turned and walked toward the elevator.
“Night, Gil. And thanks.”
Sara entered her apartment, dropping her keys on the small table to her left and her jacket on the couch to her right. She let out a deep, depressed sounding sigh and headed to the kitchen. She pulled out a beer, gave it a long look and put it back. “Won’t solve anything,” she whispered and grabbed a bottle of water instead. As she walked through the semi-lit apartment she turned on her stereo and headed to the bathroom, pulling off her shirt and unbuttoning her leather pants as she went. When she emerged fifteen minutes later she was dressed in just a long, V-neck, white t-shirt and a pair of black panties. Swigging from the bottle of water she walked over to the large sliding glass window and looked out, unknowingly mirroring Catherine miles away. “God…I’m such a fucking idiot.” She rested her head against the glass, and fisted her hand just under her breast bone, “Such a fucking idiot!”
“I’M COMING, I’M COMING!” Catherine yelled as she moved quickly through the apartment toward door. The pounding was loud and steady and she was sure it would wake the neighbors. “JESUS! I SAID I WAS COMING!” She swung open the door, expecting to find a drunk Lindsey standing there but instead in front of her was a disheveled, wild-haired Sara.
“Sara! What the hell?”
“I need to talk to you.”
“It’s three in the morning, Sara. Go home and sleep it off, okay. I’m not in the mood to deal with you drunk.” She began to close the door but Sara stuck out her arm and her motorcycle-booted foot.
“I’m not drunk,” Sara simply said and Catherine stopped and looked into her eyes.
“Then you better have a damn good excuse for trying to wake up all of Lindsey’s neighbors.”
Sara’s eyes darted over Catherine’s shoulder then back to hers, “Is Lindsey home?”
Catherine frowned, “No, I don’t think so. No way she slept through the racket you just made.” She glanced over her shoulder than back at Sara with a frown, “Why?”
“Then maybe I’ll have a chance.”
“A chance to what? Sara, are you sure you’re not drunk?” Catherine stepped away from the door and looked Sara up and down. She was dressed in her usual jeans and a large white t-shirt, so it was obvious the brunette had gone home at some point that night. “Come in already before you wake all of Vegas!”
Sara stepped in and closed the door as she moved closer to Catherine. “I’m an idiot.”
“I’ve known that for years, Sidle.”
“A fucking idiot.”
“No argument here, kiddo. Sorry.”
Sara nodded like her response was what she expected. “You were right earlier.”
“Of course I was,” Catherine said. “Wait. Right about what?”
“It was a date. It was always a date. From the minute I got the nerve to ask, it had been a date.”
“Oh,” was all Catherine could say.
Sara took a deep breath and reached up with both hands, cupping her palms on either side of Catherine’s face and kissed her. The feeling of Sara’s breath hitch almost made Catherine faint as she kissed her with passion and desire. Catherine’s lips parted slightly and Sara’s tongue moved into the gap as if pulled by magnets and toyed at the small opening, waiting for permission. The tip of Catherine’s tongue darted forward and just touched Sara’s, making her knees almost buckle.
Sara pulled back first, breaking the kiss and both women stood there, staring at each other, slightly panting.
“What…was…that…?” Catherine asked.
Sara’s smile was slow and seductive. “My reply to your offer earlier; if it still stands of course.”
Catherine’s eyes closed and she took a shaky breath. When she opened her eyes, the look was intense and smoldering. She took Sara’s hand and placed it on the tie of her robe and began to walk backwards. “Think you can handle it, Sidle?”
“I know I can, Willows.”
The tie came undone and Catherine let the robe fall open, then smoothly slid out of it. “We’ll see…” and with a wink grabbed the other end of the robe sash and drug Sara into the bedroom.
Sara looked up the long, lean body as the deep moan reverberated down to where she could feel it rumble smoothly against her tongue. She sighed as she took in the pale form, arched up high from the waist, her shoulders and toes flat against the mattress. Catherine’s long hair flared out as she twisted her head from side to side, her arms moving in from clutching the sheets on either side to tangle her fingers in Sara’s wild hair and hold her hard against her. Sara’s eyes fought to close in ecstasy as she watched the sweat glisten off of Catherine, goosebumps rising right before her eyes on her lower belly as she screamed Sara’s name, her third and most powerful orgasm slamming into her.
Catherine’s body fell back to the mattress and she groaned, “Jesus…” Then tightened her hold on Sara’s ears and tugged Sara up her body. “God; c’mere, you.” Sara grinned as she slid up Catherine’s damp skin, then hissed as Catherine slammed her muscular thigh between Sara's legs. With a helpless moan, Sara and Catherine’s lips smashed together and Sara began to undulate her hips fast and hard against Catherine. The wetness caused by her desire for Catherine as well as the result of her ministrations to the blonde, made her movements smooth as she pressed her clit firmly against the tightening muscle of Catherine’s thigh. It didn’t take very long before Sara had to wrench her mouth away from Catherine’s, her forehead down and against the hollow of Catherine’s neck. “Cat…Oh, God, Cat…My Cat…my Cat….my Cat,” Sara helplessly chanted.
Catherine wrapped her right leg around Sara’s waist, her heel resting at the small of her back and arched hard against her pelvis, gasping as the hard bone rubbed the already over stimulated bundle of nerves of her clit. Grasping the back of Sara’s head and holding it firmly to her throat, her head flew back and she gave an inarticulate howl and came again with Sara.
They lay like that, neither moving, simply breathing heavily. Catherine kept her head back as tears ran down the sides of her face. Was it the emotional force of the orgasmic release or the simple words she had heard come from Sara? “My cat…” She hadn’t called her that since the last time they had been together, and she only called her that when they were together like this. “I miss you so much,” Catherine thought as she tried to control herself before Sara could look at her, grateful the younger woman needed to catch her breath.
When Sara lifted her head to look at Catherine, her eyes were slightly unfocused, “Wow!” was all she said before she let her head drop again to Catherine’s shoulder.
Catherine chuckled then began to laugh. “Well you sure beat the experience I got from that cheesecake!”
Sara lifted her head again and gave her a wide-eyed look, “I would hope so!”
Catherine grinned and kissed her nose, “For the record, you tasted much sweeter too,” and laughed when Sara gave her a look that could only be called a swoon.
The two woman lay side by side, Catherine on her back and Sara on her side watching her.
“You are still so damn beautiful Cat. I swear you never freaking age.” Sara smiled and reached up to move a stray hair from Catherine’s forehead.
“And you are still the smoothest talker I’ve ever had in my bed.” Catherine chuckled, “Such a charmer!” and bent forward to kiss her lightly on the lips.
Catherine sighed contentedly and looked up at the ceiling, then glanced out the corner of her eye at Sara who was still gazing at her. Her smile widened and she turned her head, “How have you managed to not get yourself snared, Sidle?”
Sara frowned, “What do you mean?”
“You are…God, I don’t have words for what you are other than a hell of a catch. So why haven’t you been caught?”
“I run fast.”
Catherine looked at her then burst out laughing. “Fair enough, I guess. Some poor woman or man is missing the real deal here. I know I never found anyone that even came close to you. Not in how you treated me or how you made me feel. Not just here in bed, that wouldn’t even be fair to try to compare anyone to the things you do to me.” Catherine got a dreamy look on her face that made Sara blush and kiss her hard on the lips. Catherine’s eyes refocused and she laughed again, “As I was saying; all the other things you make me feel, Sara.” She suddenly stopped and sat up, looking away. “You hungry?” she asked unexpectedly.
Sara blinked then reached out and touched her arm, “Hey. What just happened, babe?”
“Ah, just on the verge of getting too damn mushy. You don’t want to hear all of that crap.”
Sara sat up and shimmied closer, “Maybe I do. You’ve never told me how I made you feel back then, other than the sex part.”
Sara shook her head, “Nope.”
“Odd. One thing you always made me feel is comfortable enough to say anything to you.” She turned quickly and threw her legs over the side of the bed and grabbed Sara’s t-shirt—the first thing she touched. “I don’t know about you, Sidle, but I’m ravenous. I think there may be some leftover Chinese in the fridge. If not, I know there is cheese and crackers. I’ll go make us a little snack; then later I'll make you my little snack.”
Sara grinned and settled back, the first time in ages she didn’t feel like she needed to get dressed and run after a sexual encounter with someone. But then she really only felt that with Catherine, and sometimes Gil. She watched Catherine walk out the room and frowned as Gil’s name popped into her head. She gave it a slight shake and leaned back with a very satisfied smile. The picture of Catherine in her shirt forming in her mind. “Mmm, maybe she needs a little help with that snack?” and decided to pull something on and go look for her fiery lover.
Catherine sashayed into the kitchen humming to herself and walked over to the refrigerator. As she opened it and bent down she heard the front door open. She popped up in surprise. Lindsey stumbled in, giggled, then shushed herself before closing and locking the door.
“Are you just getting home?” Catherine asked, standing in the kitchen doorway, hand on hip, eyebrow arched high on her forehead.
“EEP!” Lindsey jumped and whirled around, almost falling over her own feet. “Jesus, Mom! You scared the crap out of me! What are you doing up?”
“Forget what I’m doing up, what are you doing falling in here at this hour?”
“Oh, Mommmm,” Lindsey whined. “I’m a grown ass woman, ya know?”
“A grown ass woman who has to be at work in a few hours, ya know,” she replied sarcastically.
Lindsey moved toward her. “Nah, night shift. Boss let me switch so I could spend some time with you before you left.” She hiccupped and then grinned at Catherine before looking at her attire, confused. “What are you wearing? Where did you find a man’s t-shirt?”
“Spend time with me? When exactly did you plan to do that?”
“Trying to change the subject…” she leaned forward then sniffed. She frowned then walked around her mother, looking her up and down. She began to grin. “Oooo. You got laid!”
“LINDSEY!” Catherine exclaimed. “Watch your mouth, young lady. You’re not too old for me to put over my knee!”
Lindsey just laughed and impulsively hugged her mom, “That’s why you got his shirt on…Oh, good for you, Mom; good for you!” She turned to the open refrigerator and leaned in. “Oh, I could use something to eat. I’m starving!”
As Catherine stood there with her mouth hanging open, Sara tiptoed up behind her and wrapped her arms around her waist. Apparently, from her vantage point, Sara could only see the back of Catherine and the open fridge door.
“God, you look so sexy in my shirt. Got anything in there I can lick off of you?”
“Ooff! Owww!” There was a loud rattle and a crash as Lindsey shot up, hitting the shelf above her head and knocking over bottles of condiments. She stood straight and whirled around just as Catherine turned to look surprised at Sara.
Both Willow women called out Sara’s name making her freeze like a deer in headlights.
“Oh shit,” Sara stammered, staring at Lindsey. “When did you get home?”
“Mom? What is she doing here?” Lindsey’s drunk mind was evidently having a rough time making all of the connections as she looked from Catherine to Sara then toward the bedroom. Suddenly her eyes grew wide and her hand flew to her mouth. “Oh…My…God”
“Lins, there’s no reason to react like this—”
“Oh…My…God! The three of you?” Lindsey was staring at the bedroom door as if Dracula or Jack the Ripper was about to come out next. “Oh…My…God!”
Sara whispered to Catherine, “What the hell is she talking about?”
“Oh, Mom! You, Sara, and Mr. Grissom? Oh…My…God!”
“WHAT? NO!” Catherine yelled.
“EW, NO!” Sara cried out. “Don’t be sick!”
Looking at each other, Catherine shuddered and Sara cringed.
“God, I think I lost my appetite,” Sara groaned.
Catherine stared at her then burst out laughing. “So bad.”
Sara grinned that love sick smile, then turned to Lindsey. “Umm, no, young lady. We did not have a threesome with Grissom.”
“Then why are you here, and why are you wearing my mom’s night shirt? Is that your shirt she’s got on?”
Sara looked at Catherine and blushed. Lindsey looked back and forth between the two women then threw up her hands. “I tried! Don’t blame me when you’re sitting in your apartment in L.A. crying your heart out. I tried. You refused to listen to me, had to have it your way. So just go ahead and do what you want. See if I care!” She moved passed the pair and walked a fairly good impersonation of a straight line to her room, slamming her door behind her.
“Gee. Was it something I said?” Sara asked.
Catherine was looking towards Lindsey’s room then took a deep breath. “Ignore her, she’s drunk off her ass. And I really don’t care for her opinion anyway. I didn’t ask for it, and I don’t need it. She’s not the only grown ass woman around here.” Catherine wrapped her arm around Sara and pulled her close, kissing her deeply. “Take me back to bed beautiful,” she purred huskily.
“But my snack?”
“Didn’t you hear me?” Catherine nibbled on Sara’s ear and reached passed her into the fridge. She pulled out a can of whip cream and a bottle of chocolate sauce. She just held them up and smiled.
“Yes, dear,” Sara said. She grabbed the bowl of strawberries and followed Catherine back to the bedroom like a faithful puppy.
Sara studied Catherine’s profile while she slept, amazed she was lying next to this wonderful woman one more time. Right then she couldn't care less if it was a one-time deal or not. Catherine was here, just a breath away. She had just spent over four hours fulfilling most of the past two year’s fantasies and she couldn’t be happier. Morning would take care of itself, right now Catherine was here next to her.
Catherine stretched and slowly opened her eyes. She turned her head slightly and smiled when she saw Sara looking at her. “Hey.”
Sara just leaned down and kissed her.
“What time is it, babe?”
“Who cares?” Sara responded.
“Umm…I do; you should.”
Sara shook her head. “Only world I care about is right here.”
Catherine held her gaze and sighed. She slipped her hand up behind Sara’s neck and pulled her head gently down to kiss her long and tenderly. “If only…”
“Stay,” Sara whispered, almost surprising herself at the word.
“Oh, honey. I would love to, but I have to get back.”
“Just a few days. Stay, Cat, please.”
“Look I know you told then you would stay until the case was over, no way could they assume how long that would take, so you have to have some wiggle room.” Sara sat up and let the blanket fall from her nude body. “And if I know you, Catherine, you have a ton of vacation time already piled up.”
Sara's internal temperature rose as she watched Catherine’s eyes take a slow trip down her body then back up to her eyes.
“Well you surely aren’t making it easy to leave your bed.” Catherine reached out to stroke one of Sara’s breast with a grin, but then grew serious. “I can’t just take off like that, Sara, you know that. I have responsibilities and this was extenuating circumstances.” She paused for a beat. "As for vacation days," she gave Sarah a small smile, "I have a few vacation days saved, yeah.”
“I’m not asking you to stay a month, Cath, just a few extra days. We’ve just found…something, maybe. I’d at least like to find out if we did.” Sara’s heart skipped a beat as she gazed at Catherine, “Unless I’m assuming too much and last night was just a fun tumble for you.”
“I’m still processing last night Sara, but you know better than that. One thing you never were, and will never be, is just a fuck. Don’t insult me or you by insinuating as much,” Catherine huffed and sat up. It took a moment, but Catherine seemed to calm down from the anger that Sara heard in her voice. She took Sara’s hand, “Look, baby, I want to spend more time with you, I do. But I just can’t make that decision without talking to work first. I have to go back today, they are expecting me.”
Sara opened her mouth to protest but Catherine put her two fingers over her lips and smiled. “Once I have checked in and given my report to my Director I will request a few days off. Under the circumstances I’m sure it won’t be a problem getting them but it won’t be many.”
Sara couldn't keep from smiling.
Catherine smile brightly, “I’ll be on the first plane back and I’ll check into my suite at the Eclipse and then I’ll be all yours.”
“Stay with me! Why bother staying at the Casino?”
“I’d rather not advertise the fact that I’m here, and I’d also prefer we each have our own space. It’s been a while since we’ve spent any real time together, baby, and we’ve both developed our own habits and ways of dealing with that. You always needed your space to retreat to, I want to make sure you have that. Just in case.” Catherine gave Sara a long look and smiled, “Now, I have two things I want to do and only time to do one of them. How are your multi-tasking skills?”
Grinning, Catherine climbed over Sara to get out of the bed, and led her toward the bathroom by the hand. “I have two things I need to do; shower and you.” With a giggle she pulled Sara into the bathroom.
Sitting in the back of the taxi heading toward the airport, Catherine stared out the window at the passing sights. Her mind was running at breakneck speed over all the things that had happened over the past few days and it was enough to make her dizzy. So many reasons to run back to L.A. and never look back, so many reasons to not get on that plane, and so many reasons to just slow down and think for a minute. “Do I even know what I want anymore?” she whispered to herself.
“You say sometin’ lady?” the driver asked, looking up into the rear view mirror.
“No, sorry. Just thinking out loud.”
“Happens all da time. More dan you would tink.” He replied. “Ya lose a lot back der? Dat has a tendency ta make it happen.” He laughed then coughed a smoker’s hack.
“No, no. Just thinkin—“Catherine suddenly sat up straight and leaned toward the divider. “Wait. I need to make another stop before the airport.”
He looked back at her and shrugged, “Whatevah you want, lady.”
Catherine knocked on D.B. Russell’s door. “Heading out?”
“Yeah. Not one for big good-byes. Cakes, candles, and hullaballoo." He said as he packed his personal belongings into a file box.
Catherine smiled and nodded, “Well, I’m not one for good-byes either. Which is why I’d like to put my hat in the ring for that Director’s position. I mean if Sara doesn’t take it.”
D.B. gave her a look of shock. “Really?”
“Yeah. I’m coming back home,” Catherine explained. “Vegas is in my blood. I have my daughter, Lindsey, and…just so much of what my father left behind is here.” Catherine paused for a moment. “Not to mention those two little girls who don’t have anyone. All the reasons to come back where I belong; home.”
D.B. nodded and smiled, and Catherine took a deep breath and changed the subject before she blurted out her real reason for deciding it was time to come home: Sara. Her heart was in Vegas, and if Sara would, could, try again, Catherine was more than willing.
Catherine went looking for Sara, but she wasn’t anywhere in the CSI building. With a smile she sent her a text, “Hey, beautiful; meet me at the Eclipse when you get off of work. Come directly up to Suite 2212. Bring just that beautiful smile.” She hit send and wanted to kiss the screen like a giggling teen. “Stop being silly, Willows,” she admonished herself. “And get moving! I have tons to do!”
Sara pulled out her phone and her eyes got wide as she read the text from Catherine. Grissom began to bend slightly to read over her shoulder but Sara suddenly shoved the phone back in her pocket. When she looked back up at him, her face was reddening.
“Everything all right, Sara?”
“Yes!” Sara barked then cleared her throat. “Yes, yes. Everything’s fine…fine.”
“Are you sure? You’re hands are shaking. Did you receive some bad news?
“No, surprising news, but not bad.” Sara shook her head in wonder and began to smile.
Sara stood outside Suite 2212 and ran her hands through her hair and puffed out a nervous breath. She laughed when she saw her hands were trembling, “Jesus, Sidle, it’s just Cat. Get a hold of yourself.” She reached out and knocked solidly on the door and then shoved her hands in her back pockets. When the door opened, she looked into the darkened room and frowned. “Cat?”
“Come in, Sara,” came the smoky reply.
“I’m surprised you’re back so soon, Cat,” Sara said as she walked into the suite. “Did everything go okay in L.A.? Did you change your mind about staying a few days?”
Catherine stepped out of the shadows wearing a skimpy negligee and a sexy smile. “Anyone ever tell you that you talk too much, Sidle?”
Sara just went slack jawed and stared at Catherine. “Good Lord…”
“I have been thinking about you ALL day, and all of the things you did to me last night.”
“Mm Hmm.” Catherine moved smoothly forward and took hold of the edge of Sara’s jacket and began to walk backwards. “And just how much I really, really want you to do each…and every…one of those things to me again…and again…and again.”
“God…” Sara breathed as she helplessly followed Catherine into the suite’s master bedroom.
Three hours later Sara lay flat on her back breathing heavily and grinning widely. She raised her head and looked at Catherine, rolled her eyes, and let her head drop to the mattress. “God…” she said for the dozen time that night.
Catherine just laughed lightly then sighed. “My thoughts exactly.” She gave a long sigh again then giggled, causing Sara to lift her head to look at her and burst into laughter.
“Nothing like excellent loving to make you giddy,” Catherine said bending up and curling her body so her upper torso was now at the bottom of the bed with Sara’s. “Plan to stay down here, beautiful?”
“I might,” Sara said with a grin and a quick kiss. “Seems to have worked well for me so far.”
“No complaints from me.”
Sara laughed and rolled onto Catherine, kissing her wildly until they both laughed themselves breathless. “I have to say, Cat, you sure did surprise me today. I really hadn’t expected to even hear from you until later tonight, and not see you until sometime tomorrow or the next day.” Sara kissed her again. “How did you manage to get everything done so quickly?”
“I had an epiphany on the way to the airport, I guess you could say.” She sat up and ran her hands through her long hair, which just fell back across her face, making Sara smile.
Catherine blushed happily and winked at her lover. “Glad you think so, baby. All that matters to me.” They stared at each other for a moment then Catherine laughed, “Oh, you are distracting, Sidle! As I was saying…epiphany.”
“Yes, epiphany.” Sara leaned forward and began to kiss Catherine’s upper thigh and down to her calf. “Such long, lean legs…so yummy…”
Catherine closed her eyes for a moment then reached and pulled Sara up by her ears, “Focus, Sidle.”
“I was focused. On you.” Sara tried to pull away and return to her exploration, but Catherine put her hands on either side of her head and made Sara look at her. “Sara. Baby. Time to listen…play later.”
“Promise?” Sara pouted her lips and it was such a rare sight that Catherine almost said “Fuck it!” and jumped her but instead nodded.
“Promise.” Catherine kissed her on the tip of the nose. “Anyway; I was thinking how much I hated the idea of flying back to L.A. to ask for time off, then just how much I hated the idea of returning to L.A. at all. Vegas is home to me, it always has been. Everything I hold the most dear, is here. I grew up here, in more ways than one. I fell in love, more than once; here. I had my daughter here and she has chosen to live her life and have her career here. Everything I love is right here.” Catherine took Sara’s hand and kissed it, “Everyone I love, is right here, Sara. How can I be anywhere else?”
Sara frowned, “But your job isn’t here, it’s in L.A. I thought you loved working with the F.B.I.?”
“I do…I did.” Catherine shrugged. “If I was honest with myself I’d admit I took the job to run away. I convinced myself that I was taken for granted here in Vegas. That CSI didn’t use me to my full abilities…that I would be better off. In a way I was; the job is exciting, the money is good, but it’s not enough. I thought it was until I came back. Even if you and I hadn’t found…this, whatever this is we have right now, I still would be thinking seriously of coming home.”
Sara sat up and looked deep into Catherine’s eyes. “And work? What will you do? I mean I know your father left you well off, but I also know you’re not the type to just stop working.”
Catherine smiled, “I already spoke to D.B. this afternoon about that very subject.”
“D.B.? But he’s gone, well as of today he’s gone. Wait…what did you talk to him about?”
“I told him I wanted to throw my hat into the ring for Lab Supervisor. You should have seen his fa—“
“You told him WHAT?” Sara sat straight up and gawked at Catherine. “How could you? You know…I told you that Conrad said…” Sara jumped out of the bed and began to grab her clothing from around the room. “SHIT! How could you do this to me Catherine?”
“Sara, what in the world are you doing? What’s wrong?”
“What’s wrong? Seriously?” Sara stood there naked, her clothing forgotten in her hands. “You waltz in here, make me think you’ve changed, think you actually cared for me! God, I’m such a fucking idiot! And all you really wanted was to sweep in and take my damn JOB!”
“What? No, that’s not what I’m doing!”
“No? You knew I wanted that position. I told you Conrad said I was almost guaranteed to get it and that it was a matter of formality at this point. So why would you mess up the works by putting your name in contention if not to steal it from me?” Sara took a deep breath, apparently ready to scream, cry, and lash out at the woman in front of her. “Who do you think they would rather have? Me or the F.B.I. agent? Think of the PR! FUCK!”
Catherine leapt out of the bed and grabbed Sara. “Sara, honey. I have no intention of taking that job!” She practically had to shake Sara to make her stop fighting and listen to her, “I had to tell D.B. why I wanted to come back to Vegas. I want my old job back at CSI, the job you have now, not D.B.’s job. If I had said that, he would have suggested the Director position. I told him I was interested only, ONLY, if you turned it down, which I knew you wouldn’t.”
“Why? I don’t understand.”
“Baby, I want to be with you. I am hoping against everything that you will want to be with me. I know it’s sudden and I intend to give you as much time as you need to think about it but I know what I want. What I always wanted and never stopped wanting.” She saw the confusion and fear in Sara’s eyes and just smiled.
“I didn’t want to let on too much about why I was coming back, for a variety of reasons. But I did want to let him know I was interested in working for the department again. I know they will offer you the Lab Director’s job and you will take it. That will leave team leader open and I will apply for that. Being in the field is what I love anyway.” Catherine pulled Sara into her arms, taking the clothing from her hands and tossing them onto the nearby chair. “Hurting you is not part of my plan baby. I never want you to think I would purposely hurt you.”
“I’m sorry. I over-reacted. It’s just…”
“What you’ve come to expect.” Catherine closed her eyes and hugged her tighter. “And for that I will forever be sorry. But in case I wasn’t clear, and I never want you to have to wonder or guess, Sara, I love you.”
Sara looked up, shock plain to see on her face, “You do?”
“Oh, yes, I do. I love you, Sara Sidle. I never stopped.” Catherine kissed her long and passionately then placed one finger over her lips, “Don’t say it back. Not yet, not until you are absolutely sure you not only want to say it, but mean it. Just know either way, I love you. Nothing changes that, Sara.”
Sara stood next Conrad and smiled for the camera, holding up her new badge. She didn’t see Grissom standing in the background smiling like a proud parent. Conrad turned and shook her hand, “Congratulations, Sara, you deserve this.”
“Thanks, Conrad. I’m just shocked it wasn’t Catherine.”
He smiled and gave her hand a squeeze, “It was always yours. Good luck.” He nodded to Grissom and walked away.
Sara turned and smiled when she saw him, not even really noticing how nervous he seemed. “Gil, nice of you to come out for this. Thanks!” She gave him an honest smile and stood waiting for him to say whatever it was he obviously wanted to say.
Gil Grissom nodded and wrung his hands together, looking for all the world like a scared little boy. “Congratulations, Sara. I’m proud of you.”
“Thanks, Gil.” Sara paused then sighed. “Well, it was good to see you again, Gil. I hope you find whatever it is you’re looking for.” She stared at him for another moment, then just sighed again and walked past him to her new office.
He watched her go, still wringing his hands, looking like he missed his chance to say what he had been practicing all night to say.
Sara sat at her desk finishing up the case paperwork, her mind going back to Catherine and what she had said to her the night before. In all of their time together in the past, neither of them had ever gathered up the courage to utter those three magical words to each other. Maybe if they had things would have gone differently, maybe not. Sara had no idea, all she knew was Catherine had found the courage last night. The courage and the passion to say, “I love you, Sara.” Sara could not stop replaying it in her mind, and it just made her downright giddy with happiness. Right that moment it didn’t even matter if the words had been just a byproduct of too many orgasms, Catherine had said it. Right to Sara’s face. Both of them stone cold sober, she had said it.
The knock on the door startled Sara, but she smiled when she looked up and saw Lindsey. “Hey. What’s up?”
“Hi. I just wanted to drop off the tape of Grissom’s final interview with Lady Heather.”
She held up the envelope and Sara reached for it with a smile. “Thanks.” And placed it on her desk without so much as a glance. The case was over and Grissom was safe, she no longer cared about Lady Heather.
“I watched the whole thing. It was interesting, I learned a lot from it…especially the end.”
Sara nodded and returned her interest to the report she was working on, dismissing Lindsey.
“You should watch it…especially the end.” Lindsey paused then turned to leave. “I think you might find it very interesting.”
Sara looked up as Lindsey left then picked the envelope up thinking, “What could I find interesting in Gil’s final interview with Heather?” She started to drop it back on the desk but curiosity got the better of her. She rolled her chair over to the tape player, opened the envelope, let the tape slide out, and popped it into the device.
After fast forwarding to the last fifteen minutes, she watched with her mouth agape. She then rewound and watched it again, and again. After the third time she shut it off and just stared at the blank screen before glancing at her watch. Without a word, she grabbed her messenger bag, turned off her computer, and left her office.
Catherine called Sara again and frowned when her voice mail picked up again. “Hi, sweetie. I was just calling to see how your first day is going. I saw you on the news earlier, you looked so incredibly sexy it should be against the law!” She laughed a deep, sexy laugh before continuing. “I’m so very proud of you, darling. I hope you are able to get off on time tonight so I can take you out for dinner. We have to celebrate this wonderful occasion. Call me back when you can. I love you!” She hung up, fiddled around the suite for a little, then called again.
“Me again! I was thinking of coming in and seeing about checking out my new office, just to get the feel of it.” She laughed, “Yes, yes, I’m already getting bored. Maybe I can stop by and say hi to the new boss. I hear she’s pretty hot. See ya soon!” She hung up, grabbed her keys and jacket, and headed out the door.
The taxi pulled up to the dock and Sara got out. She stood at the bow of Grissom’s boat and waited until he noticed her. He looked up and was shocked to see her standing there. He held out his hand and she took it, stepping aboard his boat with a smile. They stared at each other for a moment then he asked softly, “Why?”
“I actually have the same question,” Sara replied. “After all of these years, why would you tell Heather that you have loved me? You never told me, why would you tell her?”
Grissom looked embarrassed then glanced off at the water, unable to look her in the eye, “I…it was easier to tell her how I felt about you then it was to tell you.”
“How is that possible, Gil? If you loved me, you should have been able to say it to me.”
He nodded, “Love you. Not loved, not past tense.”
“Oh.” Sara dropped her eyes, surprised and unsure how to even answer that.
“And you never said it to me, so how could I say it to you?”
She nodded, “I never said it to you because I was afraid you would laugh at me. How could you love me, a silly little girl, in your eyes? If I had told you how I felt and you didn’t feel the same, I would have died. So I just never took the chance.” Sara lifted her gaze, “Still doesn’t explain how you could confide in her.”
Grissom smiled, “If you saw the tape, then you know. Heather taught me to open my heart, to let you in. I knew I loved you for a very long time, Sara, longer than I had admitted it to myself. I needed to know it was okay to open up and accept the love you were offering me. I felt she deserved to know what she did for me.”
Catherine walked down the hall, smiling to herself, and waved to Conrad.
“Hi, Catherine, what brings you in? You’re not due to start until Monday.”
“Bored, restless, not used to having so much free time. With Lindsey working here now, I don’t even have anyone to shop with!” She laughed and Conrad just rolled his eyes.
“Well remember that feeling when you want to complain I overwork you.”
“I will, I promise.” Catherine laughed. “Hey, have you seen Sara?”
“Oh you’re not gonna start in on her already are you? I told you before, I had already given her that position by the time you decided you wanted to apply for it, Catherine, it just wouldn’t have been fair to—“
Catherine held up her hand and grinned, “And I told you I was fine with it. I just wanted to poke my head in and say hi and congratulations, but she wasn’t in her office.”
“Oh. No. Check with Sanders. Maybe she’s down checking on a case.”
“Okay, I will. Thanks, Conrad.” She waved and moved off shaking her head. “Lord, I must have been a class ‘A’ bitch to Sara when I was here before, the way they jump to protect her.”
“Hey, Greg! Have you seen Sara lately? I wanted to pop in and give her my congratulations but I can’t seem to find her.”
Greg Sanders looked up and grinned. “Catherine!” He grabbed her and gave her a bear hug, lifting her off the floor and twirling her around. “I can’t believe you’re back for good! I have missed you soooo much!”
“Well nice to have been missed that much! I love you, too.” She gave him a huge smile and hugged him back. “So have you seen her?
“Oh, not for a few hours.” He bent back over his microscope and said nothing else.
“Umm, any idea of where she went, when she’s coming back.”
“Oh, I saw her get in a taxi about two hours ago. Not sure where she was heading but it was after Lindsey gave her the tape of Lady Heather’s interview. Maybe Lindsey knows, you should ask her.”
“Heather’s interview? Who conducted the interview?”
“Grissom, I think.”
Catherine felt a cold wave run over her body and she shivered. “Thanks, Greg. I’ll talk to you later.” She headed out to look for her daughter.
“Oh, excuse me.” Lindsey looked up from her tablet and then smiled, “Mom! What are you doing here?”
“Oh, Lindsey, I’m sorry. Are you alright, honey?” Catherine held onto her daughter's arms so she wouldn’t fall over and looked her up and down, ever the protective mother.
“I’m fine, Mom, just a bump. What’s up, why are you here today?”
“I’m looking for Sara, but I can’t seem to find her anywhere. Greg said he saw you with her earlier so I thought maybe you know where she ran off to.”
“Oh. Umm…yeah. I did see her earlier but just to drop off an interview tape.” Suddenly Lindsey seemed unable to meet her gaze.
Catherine felt her daughter’s hesitation and moved her head to force Lindsey to look at her, “Lindsey? What are you not telling me?”
“Nothing!” Suddenly defensive, she was pulling away, in a hurry to continue onto where ever she had been heading before they had collided in the hallway. “I need to get back to the lab, Mom.”
“Just one moment, young lady. You haven’t gotten any better at hiding things from me then you could when you were little, so just spit it out and get it over with.” Catherine narrowed her eyes and gave her a stern look, “Do you know where Sara is, or where she was heading when you saw her last?”
“Look I just gave her Heather’s interview tape, told her she should really take a look at it and then left. That’s all! After that, I did see her leave the building and get in a taxi, but I have no idea where she was heading. I swear Mom!”
“What was so important on that tape you thought she should watch it right away?”
Lindsey shrugged, “I dunno, just thought she might find it interesting is all.”
Lindsey sighed, “Mr. Grissom said some things to Lady Heather that I thought Sara might want to know. I saw how he had been acting around her, and how…well how frustrated it made Sara, so I thought it might put her mind at ease a little.” Lindsey looked at her mom and for a moment seem to regret her decision. “I was just trying to help Sara, Mom. You know I’ve always liked her, and I hate to see her upset or unhappy.”
Catherine felt an icy finger of fear spear her heart and took a deep breath, “Where is that tape?”
“I want to see it.”
“I guess it's in Sara’s office.”
Catherine took Lindsey by the arm and pulled, “Show it to me!”
“You really love her don’t you?” Lady Heather asked Grissom.
He smiled and nodded. “She’s my best friend and I will miss her for the rest of my life.”
Catherine hit rewind over and over, her eyes burning with unshed tears, her mind racing. “Will this change things between me and Sara? Sara had always complained that she never knew where she stood with Gil, even after they had gotten married. Well now she does. He loved her. Hell, he cherished and adored her, no question about that anymore.”
Catherine looked at her watch and stood suddenly. “Maybe there’s still time.”
“Time for what, Mom?”
But Catherine just rushed out of the room, leaving Lindsey with the playing tape.
She ran out of the building and jumped into her rental car and headed for the marina, praying that she hadn’t wasted too much time looking for Sara, that she hadn't missed her chance to stop her. “Please, baby…please don’t be rash like before. Wait…wait for me!”
“Why are you here Sara?” Grissom asked. “You should be at the office, it’s your first day.”
Sara smiled and touched his arm lovingly. “I couldn’t just ignore what I heard and saw on that tape, Gil.”
Grissom shrugged, “I never really expected you to see any of that. I know when I was Director I wouldn’t have watched a closing interview. Would have been an extraneous waste of time.”
“I thought as much myself," Sara laughed. “But Lindsey insisted it would make interesting viewing, and I guess she piqued my curiosity.”
“Did you know I had no idea she was Catherine’s daughter when I met her the other day?” Grissom laughed. “I actually asked Catherine where she came from.” He shook his head. “At least I refrained from calling her an idiot.”
Sara laughed loudly, “Good thing, too. Catherine would have knocked your head off. Lord, she loves that child!”
“And damn, she looks like a young Catherine! So much like she did when I first met her twenty years ago.”
They both smiled, thinking different thoughts. Grissom was the first to break the silence. “What did Catherine say about you coming down here?”
“I didn’t tell her. I sort of did it impulsively.” Sara frowned a little as she thought of how Catherine would feel about the similarities to today and the day Sara had left Vegas for Costa Rica.
“Which brings me back to my original question. Why are you here Sara?”
Sara sighed, “I really don’t know, Gil. There is a part of me that has waited so long to hear the words you said to Heather.”
Grissom looked up surprised and stared into Sara’s eyes. “I thought you always knew how I felt about you, Sara. I always enjoyed working side by side with you. You stimulate me intellectually like no one ever has before or since.” He smiled, “I enjoy our conversations. I enjoy our silences together. I enjoy every moment we have ever spent together.” He closed his eyes for a moment, took a deep breath. “I love you, Sara. From the first moment I allowed myself to admit that you have been my best friend, then more than that, I have loved you.”
Sara felt the first tear run down her cheek and she closed her eyes. When she opened them she looked directly at Grissom, “So many years I longed to hear that. So many years.”
“And now it’s too late?”
“It’s never too late to hear you are loved, Gil.” Sara smiled sadly. “You have always been my mentor, my hero and my best friend, Gil. When I fell in love with you, no one was more surprised than me; though I suppose it was a natural progression.” She reached up and cupped his cheek and gently stroked his beard. “I think I will always love you in some fashion, Gil. How can I not? You have been such a large part of my life, my world, and my heart for so many years.” She leaned up on her tip toes and kissed him softly on his lips with a smile.
“Come for a ride with me, Sara?”
She nodded and he rushed over and pulled the rope off the piling. He went up into the Captain’s station and started the boat. Sara climbed up next to him, threaded her arm through his, and smiled up at him. There was a blast of a horn in the distance, but when she turned her head to look she saw a tug boat and thought no more of it. Grissom also turned, stared for a moment and began to say something until Sara looped her arm in his. He glanced down at her and smiled, then pulled the boat out into the harbor and sailed off into the sunset.
Catherine pulled up to the marina’s gates and waited impatiently for the car in front of her to move. The driver was talking to the security guard about something so she could just glance out the window and see Grissom’s boat. “Still there. That’s a good sign. I just hope I’m right and this is where you are,” Catherine said to herself.
Finally, the car moved and Catherine drove up. The guard approached. “Can I help you, ma'am?”
“I’m here to see Gil Grissom. Slot 33.”
“You can’t drive on the pier, ma’am.”
“He did.” Catherine motioned to the car that had been ahead of her.
“He’s just dropping off supplies to that yacht over there, so he’s not parking or visiting, ma’am.”
“Okay, stop calling me, ma’am. And I’m not visiting either. I just need to ask Mr. Grissom a question then I will be on my way.”
“Mr. Grissom is planning on leaving in a few minutes, so I really can’t let you drive out to his boat, ma’am.”
“Oh, for Christ sake! This is an emergency and I am here on official business!” Catherine pulled her purse over and began to dig in it and pulled out her ID. She held up her Federal shield and credentials, “I’m with the F.B.I. and I have to talk to Gil Grissom!”
“Well why didn’t you say so? You can park right over there and walk down to his boat.”
“Why can’t I drive over there?”
“Like I said, ma’am…no personal vehicles allowed. If you could just pull over there…”
“Shit!” Catherine began to move her car as close as she could when she glanced back over to Gil’s boat and saw Sara and Gil standing on the deck. “Sara,” she whispered. The two were standing close together talking, Sara looking up at Gil in that way that made Catherine shake in both anger and fear.
Catherine inched a little closer, hoping another car would move to the security shack so she could just drive toward the boat before the guard could notice. Suddenly she saw Sara lean up and kiss Grissom and Catherine couldn’t breathe. She stopped the car and just sat there. “Oh, God. I’m too late…oh, God.” She almost turned the car around and left but something in her just wouldn’t allow her to give up that easily.
“NO! Not this time Grissom. You don’t win without a fight.” She looked behind her and began to park the car when she saw Grissom run up the ladder to the control tower to start the boat. “Sara! No! Don’t do this! Not again, not again!” As Sara ran up the stairs behind him, Catherine hit the horn to get her attention and cursed loudly when a tug boat blew its horn at the same time. Sara looked up but in the wrong direction, not seeing Catherine, not expecting to. Grissom looked up and directly at Catherine. Catherine got out and waved at him. Their eyes met and for a moment Catherine expected him to stop, but he turned, glanced down at Sara then slammed the control on the boat and sped out of the slip.
Catherine was stunned for just a moment. “You bastard!” She began to run toward the boat slip as fast as she could. She waved her arms and called, “SARA! SARA!”
As the boat moved farther away she stopped at the edge of the dock and just cupped her hands over her mouth and yelled, “SARA, WAIT! SARA, PLEASE! SARA!” Catharine fell to her knees, tears running down her face freely. “NO, DON’T GO! PLEASE, SARA!” She stayed on her knees calling to Sara until she was hoarse and the boat was simply a dot on the horizon. “Sara…Sara, I love you…Don’t leave me again…Sara!”
“Sara…Sara…Sara!” Catherine yelled over and over. “Don’t. Oh please don’t!” Tears ran down her face as she cried unheeded. “Sara! Nooooooooo!”
The door crashed open, a woman ran in, and grabbed Catherine, pulling her into her arms.
“Baby…baby, wake up!” She crushed Catherine to her chest, kissing her forehead over and over again. “Baby…shhhh, baby.”
“SARAAAA!” Catherine violently pulled away as she screamed Sara’s name and sat up. She looked around wildly then at the woman sitting next to her in the darkened room.
“I’m right here, baby. Right here where I will always be.”
“Sara? You left…you left with him!” Catherine sniffled and wiped her eyes.
“No, baby, I didn’t leave. You’re having a bad dream.” Sara gently pulled her back into her arms and kissed her again.
Another head peeked into the room, “Hey! You’re not supposed to be in here! You know its bad luck! OUT! OUT!”
“She was having another nightmare, Lins!”
“OUT! I’ll take care of it.”
Sara looked down at Catherine and smiled, “Gotta do what she says, honey. See you in a few hours, beautiful.” She kissed her softly on the top of the head and got up. As she passed Lindsey she stuck her tongue out at her, “You won’t be pushing me around for much longer, young lady!”
Lindsey laughed, “Oh it will just be getting worse. Now go get dressed.” She slapped Sara on the ass.
Lindsey slid into the room, turned on the bedside light, and sat next to her mom. “Hey, Mom, you all right?”
Catherine nodded, still a little confused. “That was Sara?”
Lindsey smiled and nodded. “Yup. And she knew better than to come in here. So stubborn.”
“I thought she left…left with Gil.” Catherine took a deep shuddering breath and wiped her eyes again.
“I thought those dreams had stopped. But I’m not very surprised you had one today of all days. So much going on and all the planning and everything. So much leading up to this and you just waiting for Sara to either get hurt, killed, or back out.” Lindsey laughed and hugged her mom. “Today? What’s today?” “Seriously? Did you fall out of bed and hit your head or something?”
“I took a sleeping pill,” Catherine admitted with a blush.
Lindsey shook her head and leaned down and whispered into her ear. Catherine’s head shot up, eyes impossibly wide and all she said was, “No shit?”
As Catherine worked her way to the front of the room, she kept expecting to wake up. This part had to be the dream. Watching Sara sail away, Gil’s arm around her, that was the reality. This was the dream, had to be. When she got to the front of the room she turned and looked back and swayed a little. She felt the warm strong hand on her elbow and turned to look at the loving face smiling at her.
“I got you, babe.”
“You know this means they all know, right?”
“Yeah, I kinda figured this made it a little difficult to be in the closet, darling.”
Catherine smiled, “Pretty damn sexy yourself there, Sidle. Making it hard to stay focused.”
Sara grinned, “Good to know.”
They both turned their backs to the crowd and Sara took Catherine’s hand. Catherine stole a peek at Sara and grinned, “Never really thought I would do this again. First time kinda sucked.”
“I know what ya mean. But this time will definitely not suck Catherine Willows. Know why?”
“Why?” Catherine asked in a sotto voice.
“Because I trust you with my all heart and I love you like I’ve never loved anyone else in my life.”
They smiled at each other for a moment.
Sara nodded, “More than ready”
They looked at the woman in front of them and Sara nodded to her and she smiled back.
“Dearly beloved we are gathered here to join together Catherine Willows and Sara Sidle in beloved Matrimony…”