Title: Around You.

Author:  Corbeau's Alcove

Email: persistance_is_futile@hotmail.com


PART FIFTEEN.

How Catherine managed to park without having an accident amazed both women.  Sometime during the trip Sara had unzipped Catherine's pants and was teasing her with almost phantom touches through her pubic hair.

Sara extracted her hand from Catherine's pants and pulled her into a steaming kiss.  Catherine was taken by surprise but recovered to push her tongue into Sara's mouth.  Sara moaned as she felt Catherine knead her breast.

"Cat, home,"  Sara panted.

Catherine ignored her and continued to massage Sara's left breast.  She allowed Sara to take control of the kiss, content to concentrate on Sara's chest.

Sara pushed her body into Catherine's hands, hissing when Catherine pressed on her nipples.

"Cat,"  Sara moaned.

"Bed, I need you,"  Catherine whispered.

Sara pulled away from Catherine smiling.  She ran her index finger from Catherine's jaw to her unzipped pants.

"I'll unlock, you park."  With that she kissed Catherine and opened the car door.

Catherine revved the engine playfully.  Sara turned, smiling.

"Be naked," Catherine ordered.

Sara bounded up the stairs, humming and laughing at her impetuous behaviour.   Catherine had energized her entire outlook on life.  Sex had been good in the past but she'd never felt a connection so strong.  Catherine was an amazing woman, that she'd always known.  However, she was seeing a side to Catherine that she'd never been able to share.  She was enjoying it.  If it only lasted for a few days she'd treasure these moments.  Then she'd resign and leave Las Vegas.  If this turned out to be a quick situation she wouldn't be able to see Catherine everyday.

Sara sighed.  She had started thinking about the negatives and it was depressing her.

"Hey sexy.  I thought I told you to be naked."  Catherine said, wrapping her arms around Sara's waist from behind.  She frowned when she felt Sara tense.   "Sara, what's wrong?"

Sara turned, kissing Catherine's cheek.

"Deep in thought.  Sorry."

"Want to talk about it?"  Catherine asked.

"No.  I want to touch you."  Sara said.  She silenced any response Catherine had with a kiss, massaging Catherine's tongue with her own before pushing past it and tracing Catherine's teeth.

Catherine pushed Sara backwards until her legs hit the lounge.  She pulled away from the kiss and attacked Sara's neck, biting and licking her throbbing pulse.

Catherine unzipped Sara's pants, pushing them down.  She kept Sara's sky blue panties on, dipping her hand down the front.  She smiled into Sara's neck as she felt the warmth there.

"My, my.  Someone is ready."  Catherine said.  She knelt in front of Sara, pushing her panties down.  She kissed Sara's kneecaps, traveling upwards.  Sara grabbed Catherine's head moaning as Catherine's hands massaged Sara's ass.

Catherine took her hands away from Sara's ass and ran them up and down her inner thighs.  Sara subconsciously moved her legs apart as Catherine was stroking them.

"Patience Sara,"  Catherine said.  She ran her finger through Sara's juices.   Sara's thighs twitched at the action and she felt as though she'd fall down.

"Cat, bed.  I can't stand,"  Sara pleaded.

Catherine ignored her plea and inserted two fingers into Sara, thrusting hard.  Sara was taken by surprise and, as a result, fell back onto the couch.  Catherine's grin was feral as fell with her, her fingers still inside her.  She pulled them out, hearing Sara whimper at the loss.

"Take your top off Sara," Catherine said as she brought her fingers to her mouth to lick them clean.  Sara was mesmerized, the only time she took her eyes off Catherine was when she was pulling her top over her head.

Sara laid back down and opened her legs wider, inviting Catherine to enter her.  Catherine stood removing her own clothes.  She could feel her own centre throbbing.

"Catherine, you're truly a work of art,"  Sara said.

Catherine smiled.  She held her hand out to Sara who took it.

"Make love to me Sara."

Catherine thought her elbow had separated from her body as Sara yanked her arm.  They ran to the bedroom, giggling.

Once there, Sara kissed Catherine.  The kiss was fierce and passionate.  Both women grabbed and stroked body parts until Catherine backed Sara onto the bed and spread her legs.  She kissed Sara's centre, plunging her tongue in and out.  With her hands she reached up, blindly searching out Sara's erect nipples.  She pinched and pulled in rhythm with her tongue.

Sara was writhing and moaning, her hands firmly nestled in Catherine's hair.   She knew her release was on its way.  Catherine also knew and pulled her mouth away, kissing Sara's inner thighs.  She smiled as she felt Sara direct her head back to her core.

"Catherine,"  Sara moaned.

Catherine moved her head up to Sara's bellybutton.  She kissed it and continued upwards.  She took one of Sara's nipples in her mouth and licked it with her tongue.  She enjoyed the taste of Sara's juices and sweat mixed together.

Sara's core was on fire.  She needed release.  As she was about to do something about it herself she felt Catherine's fingers enter her once more.   They pushed deep insider her, curling as they left.  Catherine repeated this action as Sara fell over the edge.  She continued to assault her breasts, making her territory with a love bite on her right shoulder.

"No one else can have you,"  Catherine said as she kissed the bite.

Catherine took her fingers out of Sara and pressed on her clit.  Sara had not been expecting that and her torso lifted off the bed.  She screamed her pleasure as Catherine's mouth moved down to gather up her flowing juices.  She had an orgasm twice more, small ones but still powerful.  Catherine placed a gentle kiss on Sara's stomach and straddled her left leg.

Sara could feel Catherine's wet core rubbing up and down her prone thigh.  She raised it and Catherine bucked at the sensation.  Sara reached up to pinch Catherine's nipples.  She smiled as Catherine leant into her, still rubbing her core on her leg.  She felt Catherine's juices and heard her panting.

She flipped Catherine onto her back, her kneecap pressed against her centre.   She licked Catherine's lips begging entrance.  Catherine gave it and they plundered each others mouths.  Sara broke away and went to Catherine's clit.   She flicked it twice and entered her with three fingers.

Catherine screamed at the intrusion.  She moved her hips with Sara's fingers and loudly announced her first orgasm.  Sara stilled her fingers, waiting for Catherine to regain her breath.  Once she did Sara took one finger out and re-entered her.  She found Catherine's spot and enjoyed Catherine's yell of release.

"My God Sara.  No more.  Baby no more."

Sara licked Catherine's juices up gently, occasionally flicking or sucking on Catherine's clit knowing it would cause her body to tremor.  Once she felt Catherine had had enough she moved up to kiss her.  Catherine's tongue came out to meet Sara's and they parried until Sara gained supremacy.

Sara sighed, breaking away form the kiss.  She rolled on her back and smiled when Catherine rolled onto her side to look at her.

"You were amazing Sara."  Catherine said, tracing Sara's face.

"You make me amazing.  You make everything amazing."  Sara admitted.

"Oh honey, you are so beautiful.  My Sara."  Catherine whispered in Sara's ear.

Sara felt tears welling up and fought to keep them from falling.

"No crying Sara.  It's the truth."  Catherine said matter of fact.

"Cat?"

"Yes baby?"

"I'm falling for you hard."  Sara said.  She knew that was the closest she'd get to a declaration of love for a while.

"I'll do my best to catch you."  Catherine said as she drifted off to sleep.


PART SIXTEEN.

Sara's internal body clock was a godsend.  She was glad she had woken with plenty of time to get ready for work.  Otherwise both Sara and Catherine would be explaining to Grissom why they were late.  Telling a man you once considered to be a suitable companion you were having mind blowing sex with another woman who just happened to be Grissom's second in command would test the waters slightly.

Sara chuckled softly imagining the look on Grissom's face.  Caught between feigning neutrality and shock.  It would be an interesting meeting.

"What's so funny?  Do I have bed head?"  Catherine murmured under Sara's neck.

Sara kissed Catherine's head, running her fingers through Catherine's red hair.  Truth be told, it was closer to blonde.  'She's an angel' thought Sara.

"We've got to get ready for work Cat.  I don't have two good excuses to explain why we are late."

Catherine stretched, moaning as her body reacted.

"I can't even get up.  I'm physically exhausted."

Sara traced Catherine's nipple, smiling.

"You were the one who woke me up to; how did you put it?  Ah yes, finish me off."

Catherine swatted Sara's hand away from her hyper sensitive nipple.

"So you then waking me up later to make me scream so loudly the neighbours complain was what?"  Catherine asked.

"Payback." Sara said, leaning down to kiss Catherine.

Sara and Catherine pulled apart simultaneously.

"Work," Catherine grumbled.

"This isn't finished," Sara said.

Catherine trailed her finger down to rest just above Sara's pubic hair.

"I don't think you'll last," Catherine teased as she felt Sara move her hips.

Sara pinched Catherine's nipple, laughing as Catherine hissed in response.

"You'll be gone long before me.  I'm a master at unresolved sexual tension."   Sara proclaimed.

"Cocky aren't you?  I bet breakfast that you cannot go a whole shift without touching me."  Catherine said.

"Easy deal.  Prepare to lose," Sara said, rubbing Catherine's nipple.

"Sara," Catherine groaned.

"It starts now," Sara said leaping out of bed and heading for the bathroom.

Catherine flipped onto her back in frustration.  Sara had her so worked up she was afraid she'd not make it to the door without needing Sara to take care of her throbbing centre.  She got up out of bed and entered the unlocked bathroom.

"Cat?"  Sara asked when Catherine opened the shower door.

"The bet starts when we get to work," Catherine said, entering the shower and pushing Sara against the wall.

Sara grinned.

"Excellent idea."

*****

Catherine left thirty minutes later claming she needed another shower before going to work.  She got to her place with little time to spare and rushed through her routine, skipping food and coffee.  Showered, dressed, go.  She smiled as she left for work, realising she'd not been this happy for sometime.

*****

Sara whistled as she walked through the corridors to the break room.  Heads turned in amazement as she passed co-workers.  Sara would wave, smile and say hello and continue on her way oblivious to the whispers and looks of surprise.

"Sara you're in a happy mood.  Grissom let you do more overtime?"  Nick asked.  He'd heard rumours in the halls about Sara's joyful mood but didn't believe them.

"Hiya Nick.  Yep, I'm in a good mood and no it's got nothing to do with Grissom."

"Back with Hank?"  Nick asked cautiously.  He knew Sara needed no protection but Hank was bad news.  If she was back with him he'd have to lay a few ground rules for him.

Sara frowned.

"Hank?"

"Yeah, is that why you're so happy?"

"Can't I just be happy Nick?"  Sara asked defensively.

"Of course Sara.  It's just.  Well it's just that you rarely seem to be."  Nick said hesitantly.

Sara realised with some sadness that Nick was right.  However, she wasn't going to let the past drag her good mood down.

"I'm happy Nick.  It's not because of Grissom, extra work or a man of any description."

Nick held his hands up in a show of defeat.

"Okay Sara.  You're a tough nut to crack."

Sara smiled.

"It's so you'll find me more alluring," Sara joked.

Nick laughed.

Grissom broke up the banter with his usual gruff entrance.  Warrick was following behind talking to Catherine.  Sara smiled as she saw Warrick swing his arm around Catherine for a brief moment.

"Catherine, what's going on with your case?"  Grissom said.

"Gee, can't I even make a coffee?"  Catherine joked, bringing laughter from the table.

Grissom looked around the table effectively silencing the laughter.

Catherine shrugged and replied, "Sara and I are going to do a little string play.  The spatter doesn't seem consistent with suicide.  We've got a few things for Greg, I'm hoping if Sara flashes a smile at him they'll get done faster."

Sara opened her mouth to say something but was cut off by Grissom.

"Can we treat these cases seriously please?"

Catherine sighed dramatically.

"Yes Mr. Grissom."

Nick tried to conceal a smile under his hand.

Catherine continued, "as I was saying Gil.  Sara and I will be on the scene for a while.  If you need us, page us."

Grissom nodded and turned to Warrick.

"We've got two suspects to question.  Brass said he'd page us when the first one comes in."

"In the meantime we'll keep working on the evidence we brought back from the scene."  Warrick added.

"Yeah and you still owe me a case of beer," Nick exclaimed.

"Beer?"  Grissom asked.

Nick groaned.

"Ah, yeah.  It's nothing Gris."

"Guys I need you working together.  This is not a place for bets and joking."  Grissom lectured.

Catherine smiled as she saw Sara looking at her white tank top.

"Okay Gris, is the lecture over because Sara and I need to go."  Catherine rose from her chair, smiling at Nick who looked like he'd be sent to his room.  She turned to Sara saying, "we'll have a lot of string, bring some knitting needles.  It'll give you something to do with your hands."

Sara choked on her coffee.  She looked around to see if anyone was listening and was terrified to see all eyes on her.

"Catherine, she was just making a joke about how I like to do all the work."   Sara said.  She sighed inwardly at her explanation but was relieved when Warrick and Nick traded smiles.

"Taking control Sara?  I don't know how Catherine puts up with you,"  Warrick said jokingly.

Sara sighed in relief.  "Anyway, I better go."

Sara knew she had to get Catherine back but without being able to touch her she wasn't sure how she could tease her enough.  She smiled as she made her way to the locker room; she'd found the perfect way.

Catherine stood by the car, mentally checking through the materials she needed.  She'd gone through it several times but her mind kept wandering back to Sara.  She'd experienced the early stages of a relationship a few times since her split with Eddie but never did they occupy so much of her memory.  Even when she had been swept up in the charismatic persona Eddie portrayed she'd not felt such a strong connection.

"Hey," Sara said resisting the urge to wrap her arms around Catherine's waist.

Catherine turned and as soon as she saw Sara's outfit all idea of speech had been replaced by ogling.

"What is it Cat?"  Sara said innocently.

Sara was wearing her standard issue forensic vest but was causally unzipping it to expose bare flesh.  Catherine considered walking back into the lab and calling in sick.  That, to her was the only way she could win the bet made earlier.

"Do you have ..."  Catherine stumbled over her question, her eyes firmly fixed on Sara's cleavage.

Sara slid her hand into her vest smiling.

"Yes Catherine?"

Catherine cleared her throat and willed her eyes to look away.

"Do you have anything on under that vest?"  Catherine said.

Sara pushed past Catherine to lay her case in the back of the car.  She stretched out allowing Catherine to get a visual answer her question.

"Oh my God," Catherine muttered.

Sara grinned as she stood back up.

"Shall we go?"  Sara said.

Catherine nodded mutely and followed Sara to the passenger side.  Sara stopped in her tracks, Catherine nearly walking right into her.

"Ah Cat, we both can't sit in the same seat."  Sara joked.

Catherine blinked rapidly.

"I'll uh drive," Catherine said.  She walked around trying to avoid Sara who she knew was smiling at her.  She started the engine and sighed.  "This is going to be a long shift."  She admitted.


PART SEVENTEEN

Catherine's mind was on sensory overload as she drove to the scene.  She thanked her mind for switching to auto pilot for is she had to remember where the house was and think of Sara and that vest she was sure they would have never left the car park.

Sara had zipped the vest up after her little tease.  As much as it was enjoyable, seeing the power she had over a woman like Catherine, she knew that they were at work.  The boundaries would blur but she wanted to prove to Catherine and to her self that it was under control.

When they parked the car, Sara grinned at Catherine.

"No more teasing okay?  We'll work the case."

Catherine nodded.

"Can you put a top on?  I don't want everyone seeing so much of you."  Catherine whined.

"You sound like sulking child."  Sara laughed.

Catherine handed Sara her case, their hands touching.  They stared at each other, both feeling the electricity that surged between them.

"I'm worse."

"How is that Cat?"

"I'm a jealous girlfriend and I won't have any man or woman leering at my girl."  Catherine said.

Sara stood in shock, the doors of the car still open.  Catherine had walked up the path, exchanging pleasantries with the officers at the scene before Sara regained the ability to move after what felt like years.  She knew she was smiling like a fool but couldn't help it.  She'd been looking for affirmation's that Catherine wasn't looking for a bit of fun and while she wasn't going to push her she had wanted a little bit of hope to hold onto.  Catherine's declaration that she was her girlfriend was it.  She desperately wanted this bet to be over with so she could show Catherine what her small gestures meant to her.

Sara shivered when she recalled the last time they had both entered this room.  She had been avoiding Catherine, even becoming rude to her because she felt she had made a comment that would effectively announce her attraction to her.  It had all worked out in the end she told herself but she couldn't shake the feeling of dread that had passed thorough her that time.

"Cat?"

Catherine had begun to re-familiarize herself with the scene and looked up at Sara.

"What's wrong Sara?"  Catherine asked, concerned.

"I want to apologise for my rude behaviour last time..." Sara was silenced by Catherine raiding her hand.

"No, forget it Sara.  You were dealing with strong emotions that you thought you may have to conceal forever.  No harm done."

Sara smiled.

"You're amazing," Sara admitted.  She smiled when she saw Catherine turn away embarrassed.

"Glad you finally noticed," Catherine joked.

Sara looked at Catherine, her eyes penetrating through Catherine's entire body.

"I always noticed Cat.  Always."

Catherine blushed, unsure how to reply to Sara's quite declaration.  She moaned in frustration.  "I want to touch you," she fumed.

Sara grinned.

"Feel free but be warned, I'm very hungry."

Catherine turned away and tried to concentrate on the case.  She tried to visualize the scene from her photos.  Karl Vale, shot in the head.  It was a clean shot through one side and out at an angle to the front.  Looking at the spatter she frowned.

"What Cat?"

"Help me string these," Catherine asked.

For the next hour and a half Sara and Catherine worked side by side without any teasing or innuendo.  An occasional accidental touch would momentarily halt their progress but when they stood back and admired their hard work they both felt satisfied that they could work as a team.

"Okay, so look here Sara.  It's at a 90 degrees right?"

Sara walked around the scene, taking in the evidence.

".45 bullet came through here," Sara continued, pointing at an angle.

"Blood spatter on the wall and bookshelf, some on the photo's.  Impact consistent with these differing spatters."

"Look here Cat," Sara said pointing to where the body had laid.  "The point of origin is the head right?"  Sara asked rhetorically.

"Yeah.  He was bending down slightly.  That's where the small concentration of blood spatter originates.  The photo frames."  Catherine said.

"Right.  So how does this become a suicide?  He can't have shot himself in the head at this angle.  The positioning is all wrong."

Catherine smiled.  While they were both convinced of it before placing the strings around the room, it always made an investigator confident when the evidence was presented to them.

"You're onto a good thing here Sara.  The bookshelf shows a forward spatter."

Sara smiled, enjoying the puzzle.

"Then we have some transfer bloodstains over the other side of the original spatter."

Catherine smiled.

"This wasn't suicide Sara."  Catherine said, reinforcing Sara's previous observation.

"The girlfriend lied.  We're looking for a murderer."


PART EIGHTEEN (a).

Once Catherine was satisfied that everything was done at the scene they gathered up their tools so they could head back to the lab.  Greg had paged Sara letting her know he had some information.  Catherine had joked that she was primary yet he alerted her.  Sara simply stuck her tongue out and took the keys from her.

"Sara, I'm driving."  Catherine stated.

"Well if you can get them off me without any inappropriate touching feel free," Sara said grinning as she put them down her vest.  She shivered as she felt the cold steel touch her skin.

Catherine waved her finger at her.

"You won't get me to break the bet Sara.  I intend on winning."

Sara unzipped her vest slowly, displaying more of her chest.  Catherine smiled, bent down to pick up her cast and walked past Sara.

"Honey, I've seen those breasts, ain't nothing special there."  Catherine said laughing.

"Really?  That's not what you said last night.  Or this morning in the shower.  Or in the car park."  Sara joked.

"I must be immune to your charms now."  Catherine said.

Even thought Sara knew Catherine was joking she felt herself doubt their relationship.  It was a mental thing, something she knew would cause her to doubt at times but she didn't want to show it to Catherine.

Catherine saw Sara hesitate and knew that the time to talk was near.

"Sara?  I was joking."

Sara tried to smile but found she couldn't look Catherine in the eyes.

"I know Cat.  Insecurities."  Sara shrugged.

"We'll talk after work."  Catherine said.  It was more of a statement than a question.

"I want to Cat but I'm afraid."  Sara admitted.

Catherine put her case down and walked over to hold Sara's hand.

"This doesn't count towards our bet," Catherine said glad when she saw Sara smile.  "Sara, baby, I want to know about your past and I want to be able to help you.  I don't want you doubting my feelings towards you.  I especially don't want you doubting yourself.  You are a remarkable woman and I'm lucky to be with you."

Sara smiled, kissing Catherine's knuckles.

"Did you read a book to find the right things to say to me?"  Sara joked.

Catherine laughed.

"I'd find Grissom's studies easier to decipher baby."  Catherine replied.  "I don't like people who are one dimensional.  You are perfect."

"Cat, if you continue to say things like that I'll gladly break that bet and contaminate this crime scene."  Sara growled.

"Ha!  You've been the one teasing me all shift."  Catherine pointed out.

"You don't need to be vigorously teasing me Cat, I just look into your eyes and I'm gone."  Sara admitted.

Catherine was about to reply by unzipping Sara's vest and taking her up on her offer when a police officer cleared his throat.

"Ah, Miss Willows?"

Catherine turned, smiling.

"Yes?"

"Detective Brass radioed in.  He'd like to see you."

"Thank you."  Catherine smiled, turning back to Sara.  "Come on Sara."

Sara walked past both Catherine and the police officer, cheeks burning.  She turned to see the officer offering to carry Catherine's case for her.  Sara guessed from their body language that Catherine had tried to refuse him but he was persistent.  Sara smiled as she saw Catherine walk to the car.

"Where would you like me to put this Miss Willows?"

"Just in the back please Officer."

"Officer Jack Ciccone.  It was my pleasure to help you."

Sara could have sworn he was seconds away from bowing to her.

"Thank you Officer Ciccone."  Catherine said.

"Anything else ma'am?"

Sara started the car.  Catherine looked in her direction.

"No, that is all.  We must be off."

"Yes ma'am.  Have a good day."

Catherine smiled and climbed into the passenger's side.

"I can't even talk to other people now Sara?"  Catherine joked.

"He liked you."  Sara stated.

"Greg is infatuated with you," Catherine replied.

"Greg is harmless."  Sara said.

"My Sara, jealous?"  Catherine asked.

"No."  Sara said unconvincingly.

Catherine laughed.

"Liar."

Sara turned on the radio.

"Sara?"

Sara turned to Catherine.

"I love that you were jealous but he had no chance.  I'm yours."


PART EIGHTEEN (b)

Catherine's declaration made the trip back to the lab a silent one.  She worried that Sara was second guessing her but it was that very fear that kept Catherine silent.

Sara, on the other hand, felt like her insides would implode.  Catherine's simple admission had filled Sara with an incredible joy.

"Sara, I paged you ages ago!"  Greg exclaimed as Sara made her way to his lab.  She had left Catherine to unpack the car.

"Greg it wasn't that long.  What have you got?"

"A love that burns brightly?"

Sara groaned.

"Greg, your results?"

"Okay.  The blood samples are from the vic only.  The sample's Cath took?  The fibers?"

"They were animal right Greg?"  Catherine asked, entering the room.

"Yes.  Cat.  Nothing special, a typical tabby cat."

Sara turned to Catherine.

"We didn't see an animal at the scene Catherine."

"No, and there were no visible signs that he owned a pet."  Catherine replied.

"So someone other than the vic was there.  Find the cat lover, find the killer."  Greg said.

"Not necessarily Greg.  Thanks for those results."  Catherine said.

"Anything to get the two of you here with me."  Greg said smiling and winking at Sara.

"Sara, Brass needed us remember?."  Catherine said effectively rescuing her from having to stay with Greg.

Sara smiled apologetically at Greg and followed Catherine out.  They walked side by aid, Sara shortening her stride to match Catherine's.

"What do you think Brass wants?"  Sara asked.

"Not sure.  I don't think Greg would have told him the results before telling you.  Maybe Doc told him about the angle of the shot in the autopsy."  Catherine mused.

"He hadn't done the autopsy yet.  He's off till next week and we've got a new bloke who is doing favors for Day Shift before even touching our cases."   Sara said.

"I may have to have a little word to him," Catherine said.

"Flash him that wonderful smile Cat, he'll fall at your feet."

"Unzip your vest Sara, that'll make more of an impact."

Sara looked down and swore.

"No wonder Greg was even more eager than usual to conduct my breasts in conversation!"

Catherine laughed.

"That's what you get for trying to tease your hard working girlfriend."

"I like the sound of that," Sara admitted.

"What, Greg leering at you?"

"No Cat.  'Girlfriend.'  I like that."

Catherine smiled.

"Good, because that's how I see you.  It sounds a little junior high doesn't it?"  Catherine laughed.  "Partner is good too but people often mistake that for working partners.  You are my partner both here and outside of work."  Catherine said, blushing.

"How about lover?"  Sara joked.

"Oh you are certainly my lover, and a wonderful lover at that."  Catherine said, licking her lips.

"Cat," Sara complained.

"Yes baby?"

"I concede on this bet.  I'm happy to pay for your breakfast."

Catherine laughed, attracting the attention of Brass who was on his cell phone.  He waved them over.

"Ladies.  We have the shooter."  Brass said.

"The shooter?"  Sara asked.

"Girlfriend called in; said the guilt was too much and is here to confess."

"What a waste of collecting evidence," Catherine joked.

"Don't let Grissom hear you say that," Brass said.

"We could blame it on Sara." Catherine whispered dramatically.

"Nah, never work.  Sara's his pet."  Brass said.

"This woman, can we see her?"  Sara interrupted.  She was always uncomfortable when people labeled her as Grissom's favourite.

"Miss Impatient," Brass joked.  "Come on."

Brass opened the door of the interrogation room allowing Sara and Catherine to enter before him.  Catherine smiled when Sara held her seat out for her, pushing it in as she sat.  Sara took a standing position behind her.

"Miss Leigh, Catherine Willows and Sara Sidle from our crime lab," Brass said introducing all parties.

"I want to confess.  I did it," Miss Leigh stated.  She took out a tissue as she sneezed.  "Allergies.  Damn bitch next door to me, her cat sleeps in my laundry."

Catherine looked to Sara who smiled.  The connection to the cat hair seemed to have been made.

"Why kill your boyfriend?  Didn't get you flowers after a fight?"  Brass asked.

"He was cheating on me with my sister.  He was gloating that she did everything to satisfy him.  I lost it."  She admitted.

"Miss Leigh, if I could ask you a few questions," Catherine spoke up.

"Call me Ally."  Miss Leigh said.

"You said you killed Karl, may I ask how you went about that?"

"I took his gun and shot him in the head.  He thought I was leaving and I was; I wanted to confront my sister.  Then I remembered his gun so I went to the drawer and took it out.  He laughed saying I couldn't pull the trigger.  He was wrong."

"Why didn't you just break it off with him?"  Brass asked.

"He was my boyfriend.  No one can take him from me until I want to get rid of him," Ally yelled.

"So you killed him because he wasn't faithful?"  Sara asked in amazement.

"I killed him because he made a fool of me."  Ally replied.

"Were you willing to kill your sister also?"  Catherine asked.

"No.  She's my blood."

"Yet she committed the same offense against you."  Brass said.

"We're family.  He wasn't."  Ally said.  "Can I see my lawyer now?"

Brass smiled, "you've just confessed to the murder of your boyfriend Miss Leigh, he won't be able to help you now."

"I was acting under diminished responsibility, I want to plea.  Get my lawyer."

Catherine looked back to Sara who was as shocked as she was at the outcome.  She motioned with her head that they leave Brass to take Ally to the cells.  Sara smiled and made her way to the door.

"I'll come get your reports later," Brass said.

"Sure thing Jim."  Catherine replied.

Once in the hall Sara sighed.

"What is it baby?"  Catherine asked, pulling her hand back at the last moment.

Sara smiled at Catherine's term of endearment and the fact that she pulled back.

"Nearly had you," Sara gloated.

"I told you Miss Sidle, I intend on winning."

"The shift is still young Cat."  Sara taunted.

"Well it's taken a different turn that I had thought.  A confession so early."

"I guess now that frees us up for the million other cases.  Or paper work," Sara groaned.

"I'm surprised you have any old cases that aren't up to date," Catherine replied.

"I love my job Cat but the writing is not one of them.  The actual process of solving a case is what gives me that adrenalin rush."

"I love finding these things out about you Sara," Catherine admitted shyly.

Sara grinned as they made their way to the break room.

"I'm making coffee Cat, would you like one?"

"Yes please."

Sara turned and saw Catherine stretching out on the chairs.  She was about to comment on Catherine's torso when Grissom entered.

"Ladies, Brass tells me the case has solved itself."

"Girlfriend confessed."  Sara said.

Catherine made no attempt to get up, turning her face to Grissom.

"So now we're taking a break and then writing our reports."

"I need one of you on another case.  Sara?"

"Is that an order?"  Sara said.

Catherine's eyes fell upon Sara.  She knew from her demeanor that Sara was about to get angry so she interjected.

"I'll do it Gil.  After my coffee."

"Okay Catherine, it's yours.  Come see me when you've finished."  He then turned to Sara saying, "can I see you for a moment?"

Sara considered saying no but she felt uncomfortable with both Catherine and Grissom looking at her.

"I'll be there in ten minutes Grissom."  Sara replied.

Satisfied with her answer he nodded and left Catherine alone with Sara.

"What was that about?"  Catherine asked.


PART NINETEEN.

Sara sat down and motioned Catherine to do the same.

"He'll want to know why I passed up coming into work early."

Catherine smiled. "I don't think you should tell him the real reason."

"I should go and get it over with," Sara said standing quickly.

Catherine rose with her and briefly held onto Sara's hand.

"Don't lie to him too much.  If you feel like you have to be honest with him then do so."

Sara blinked in response, too shocked to talk.

"Sara, this isn't a quick fling, I don't care if he knows."

Sara wiped a tear from her eye.

"I'm not ready for that Cat," she admitted.

Catherine smiled.

"I'm just letting you know baby.  I don't want you to have to hide or lie about yourself."

"I've always been doing that Cat, it's pretty normal now."

"Don't put yourself down baby.  You've hidden from the world out of fear.  I'm here for you now."

Sara scanned the area before kissing Catherine's forehead and resting against her.

"You are so amazing." Sara admitted.

"Thank you baby," Catherine replied, blushing.

"I'd better go."  Sara said reluctantly.

"Hey Sara?"  Catherine shouted out.

"Yeah?"

"I think we both lost that bet."  Catherine said laughing.

"Hey, you reached out first!"  Sara said pointing to her.

"Oh, so I did.  Oh well, breakfast is on me."  Catherine said shrugging.

"On you?  Well that brings up many scenario's I certainly wouldn't mind playing out," Sara said grinning.

Catherine put her hand to her mouth in faux shock.

"Miss Sidle, these comments are very un-ladylike."

"Just like the screaming you'll be doing in my bed after work," Sara said retreating with the last word.

Catherine laughed as Sara left.  She hoped Sara wasn't faced with outing herself to Gil under stress.  She knew it wouldn't be a secret forever and she accepted that.  Sara however, Catherine wasn't sure how she'd react to the looks and whispers.

Her train of thought was distracted by the ringing of her cell phone.

"Willows?"

"Cathy Cutie?  It's Eddie."

Catherine cringed at Eddie's nickname for her.

"Calling to cancel?"  Catherine asked in reference to Lindsay's school play set for the next evening.

"No Cathy.  I'm calling to say I'll be there but I may be late.  Can you save me a seat?"

Catherine sighed.  She had hoped Sara could have come instead of Eddie but with Eddie there it would be a very uncomfortable evening and she didn't want to put Sara through that.

"Don't be too late Eddie.  Linds will be very disappointed and I'm sick of making excuses for you."  Catherine warned.

"Easy sugar, I'll be there.  Bye."

Catherine hung up.  She was always having to defend Eddie and it made her angry.  The constant lying to her daughter wasn't healthy.

"Hey Cath, heard you got the murderer without having to do anything," Nick said smiling as he dropped his meal on the table.

"Nicky, hey.  Yeah, she came in and confessed."

"So you on another case now or just hiding out till the end of shift?"  Nick joked.

"Gil's got me on something new."

"I saw Sara in his office.  She looked distressed."

Catherine's head whipped up.

"Distressed?"

Nick nodded, opening his salad container.

"He must have told her that she works too hard," Nick laughed.

"Excuse me Nick, I've got to go."  Catherine said rushing out the door.

Nick looked up to see Catherine running.  He shook his head, "chicks!"

Catherine couldn't remember the last time she had run through the corridors at work but she needed to know if Sara was ok.  She slowed down once she reached Gil's door and knocked.

"Come in," Gil said.

Catherine looked around.  No Sara.

"Catherine?"  Grissom asked.

Catherine looked back to Grissom.

"My, uh next case?"  Catherine asked glad she had an excuse to be in his office.

"I'm taking it.  I was about to call you in."

Catherine's heart began to beat faster.

"It's about Sara."

Catherine tried to act nonchalant when replying, "what about Sara?"

"She doesn't seem to be herself.  She passed up on overtime, then just now when I asked her if anything was wrong she said she didn't want to be the first person I called when I wanted a slave."  Grissom said, shaking his head in astonishment.

"Maybe she's just sick of people thinking she has no life outside of work Gil," Catherine offered.

"Sara is a very private person Catherine and I wouldn't expect her to tell me."

Catherine waited for Grissom to add something.  When he didn't Catherine stood up about to leave when he stopped her.

"She's gone home Catherine, can you write up the report and give it to Brass?"

Catherine spun around.

"Gone home?"  She asked her voice a little too high pitched for someone trying to be neutral.

"She told me she wasn't feeling well and asked for time off.  Another unusual request."  Grissom added as an after thought.

Catherine nodded and opened the door, hoping Grissom didn't call her back.  She sighed in relief when she noticed he'd turned back to his opera and bugs.  She wasn't sure what emotion she was experience at the moment but had to admit to herself that one of them was anger.  She couldn't believe Sara had left without telling her.

"Hey Cath, Sara was looking for you," Nick said as she walked into the break room.

"Thanks Nicky."  Catherine replied in relief.  She knew Sara would either be in the locker room or her office so she set about finding her.

She got to the locker room and saw Sara leaning against the back wall.

"Hey sexy," Sara said smiling.

"Gil told me you had gone home."  Catherine said not walking over to Sara.

"I am going home, he sent me home."  Sara said.

"I thought you had already gone," Catherine said walking to sit on the bench near Sara.

"You thought I'd go without telling you?"  Sara asked.

Catherine nodded and ducked her head to avoid Sara's return gaze.

"Cat, I wouldn't leave without telling you."

"I know.  I know.  I was just a little worried," Catherine admitted.

"Grissom told me he thought I was leaving the lab forever."

"Why?"

"Because it was the first time I turned him down," Sara replied.

"Surely you've told him to go to hell before," Catherine asked.

"A few times I've said no but I always end up doing something else for him.  When I told him I had a life outside here he looked positively shocked."  Sara said smiling.

"He probably thought you were his kindred spirit," Catherine said standing and circling her arms around Sara's waist.

"You are my spirit Cat," Sara said kissing Catherine.

"Sara you're honesty is going to get you in so much trouble," Catherine said after the sweet kiss.

"Why?"

"You say things that I don't expect from you and they are always beautiful."   Catherine shook her head and spoke once more, "I don't mean that first part as an insult.  It's just that we've never really been close and I didn't know you had this part of you."

Sara ran her hands up and down Catherine's back.

"It's okay Cat, I know what you mean.  I don't usually talk like that; it's true.  But you bring out so much happiness in me I'm finding this new Sara hiding under the depression and seriousness.  I like who I'm becoming and I'm becoming her because you're in my life."

Catherine pushed Sara's head down and captured her mouth in a searing kiss.  Sara grabbed Catherine's ass and pushed her against the wall.  Catherine moaned into Sara's mouth as she thudded her back against the wall.

"Catherine," yelled Warrick.

Sara and Catherine flew apart, Sara trying to wipe the lipstick off her own mouth and giggling as Catherine swatted her hands away so she could do it.

"Catherine you back there?"  Warrick asked, coming closer.

"I'm naked Warrick, I'll meet you outside,"  Catherine replied, trying her best not to moan as Sara sucked on her earlobe.

"Sorry Cath, I'll be outside."

Once Sara was sure Warrick had left she unzipped Catherine's pants and slid her hand into Catherine's panties.  She met no resistance and smiled when Catherine spread her legs.

"Already so wet Cat?" Sara teased.

"It's you baby.  It's your words and the way you kiss me."  Catherine said moaning as Sara pressed on her clit.  Sara bit Catherine's neck smiling as she realised it would leave a mark.

"Sara please," Catherine begged.

Sara pulled Catherine's pants off and sat her on the bench.  Catherine spread her legs and grabbed onto the sides of the bench preparing for Sara.

Sara smiled, dipping two fingers into Catherine's welcoming core.  She thrust hard and fast and brought Catherine to a quick orgasm.  Sara tried to hide the scream with her mouth and smiled when Catherine shuddered her release.

"Sara," Catherine said.

"I know baby." Sara said bending to lick Catherine clean.  She kissed the inside of her thighs and pulled her pants back up for her.

"Warrick is just outside," Catherine exclaimed.

"Well I didn't hear you telling me to stop," Sara joked.

Catherine closed her eyes as Sara stroked her hair.

"I want to stay with you," Catherine complained.

"You'd better see to Warrick Cat and I'd better go home before Grissom makes me take a psyche eval."  Sara joked.

Catherine rose to her feet with Sara's assistance.  She was slightly unsteady and hit Sara when she grinned.

"What was that for?"  Sara asked innocently.

"You know Missy."  Catherine said kissing Sara's throat.  "I like you this way."

"What way?"

"Happy and joking," Catherine replied.

"I now have something to make me happy Cat.  I have you."

"Take these," Catherine said handing Sara keys.

"What are these?"  Sara asked.

"Keys to my place.  I want you to go there, make yourself at home."  Catherine said.

"Cat, I don't want to intrude,"  Sara said uncomfortably.

"You're not intruding, I gave you my keys.  I want you to be naked by the time I get home," Catherine said kissing Sara's cheek.  "No argument."  Catherine said in her best 'mom voice.'

"Or what, you'll spank me?"  Sara asked.

"If you want," Catherine said, her voice husky.

Sara almost had to hold the locker to stop from falling.


PART TWENTY.

Sara made her way to the latest call out; a man murdered at a night club.  Sara wondered why a place filled with patrons failed to nab the killer but she realised that not everyone was prone to assessing every situation as a possible crime scene waiting to happen.

She saw Warrick and Grissom collecting evidence on the dance floor.  It seemed to be covered with bubbles or some sort of foam.  What was that smell?  Strawberry.  It made Sara flash back to an hour before her shift stared.  Catherine and her in the shower; Catherine washing Sara with strawberry lotion.  'Her licking my nipples, steadying me as I almost fell to the shower floor in pure unadulterated pleasure.  Me making a comment on her strawberry blonde hair and the taste of her.'  Sra shook her head trying to focus on the case.  She smiled as she remembered Catherine pulling her out of the shower and making love to her on the bath mat, the shower still running.

"Is this a dance club or a sex club?"  Sara asked as she willed her mind to switch gears.

Warrick looked up greeting her with a quick smile.

"A little of both."

Sara looked at Warrick wondering if his tone indicated he knew of a few other moves that went on besides dancing.  She tried to get the vision of Catherine gyrating her hips out of her head and went to work.

*****

Catherine sat, video recorder in hand glowing as Lindsay, her little star, performed in her school play.  Next to her was the empty seat she had reserved for Eddie.  She tried not to wonder just where he was and with whom hoping for Lindsay's sake that he would keep his promise to show.  As she was cursing him he arrived, taking the unoccupied seat.

"Nice perfume," Catherine commented sarcastically.  She knew that she shouldn't be making an issue out of something she couldn't control.  This was Lindsay's special day and she didn't want to spoil it.

"Great, nagging me even before my seat gets warm."  Eddie complained.

"You couldn't keep that in your pants until after you saw your daughter?"  Catherine asked already knowing the answer to that.

"For Christ's sake Catherine, give it a rest."  Eddie said raising his voice attracting the attention of everyone in the hall including Lindsay who missed her cue.

Catherine was about to reply when she noticed Lindsay turn to face the audience.  She cringed and smiled in her direction hoping to sooth her.  The teacher continued to repeat the line but Lindsay shot up off the makeshift bed and fled the stage.

Catherine swore under her breath and turning off the camera raced out to find her daughter, Eddie following her.

"You couldn't leave it alone for one night," Eddie complained as he caught up with her and saw Lindsay being consoled by a teacher.

"And you couldn't stop thinking about your dick for one night,"  Catherine responded.

"There was a time Cathy that you didn't complain," Eddie said leering at her.

"Yeah?  Well we all make mistakes."  Catherine said waving to Lindsay.

Lindsay knew, even with the glass window partition her form her parents that
they were arguing.  She sighed and let go of her teachers hand, walking out
to face them.

"Lindsay baby, you were great,"  Eddie commented.

"It was ruined.  You ruined it," Lindsay said looking to both parents.

"I'm sure you can do it again Lindsay, the school will have other plays,"
Catherine said reassuring.  She knew she had said the wrong thing when
Lindsay moved closer to Eddie.

"Come on hon, let me drive you home,"  Catherine said.

"I want to go with Dad," Lindsay said.

"Are you sure honey?"  Catherine asked.

"Yes," was all Lindsay said as she grabbed her father's hand.

"Give mom a kiss Linds and we'll go."  Eddie said.

Lindsay hugged her mother, praying that one day the fighting would stop.

"Mom?"

"Yes baby?"  Catherine asked as she kissed her forehead.

"I wish Sara had come," she said before leaving with Eddie.

Catherine smiled at the mention of Sara's name and sighed.  She too wished Sara had been here tonight to share in her daughter's evening.  She considered Sara a very big part of her life and wanted her to feel comfortable with Lindsay.  At least if Sara had been there instead of Eddie Lindsay would have finished her play without distraction.  She dug her keys out of her pocket and made her way to the car park determined to invite Sara over for dinner with Lindsay.

As she was hopping in the car Nick called her with the address of their case.  She smiled as Nick recounted Greg's latest interaction with Grissom.  It felt good to take her mind off Eddie and the mess they had made of Lindsay's special evening.

When she got to the scene she saw Nick chatting to a female police officer.  She was in obvious raptures over him yet he seemed oblivious.  She smiled thinking she'd had something to tease him about while they were working.

"Cath, hey."  Nick said greeting her with a warm smile.

"Nicky.  You too busy to work the case?"  She joked.  She noticed the female officer blush and duck her head.

"I was just talking, filling in time."  Nick replied.

"Well let's go then," Catherine said gesturing he enter first.  She turned to the thoroughly embarrassed officer and whispered, "I'll get his card for you.  Feel free to ask him out."

The woman nodded, not sure how to respond.

Catherine shrugged, "I'm his match maker" she responded leaving the officer to wonder what just went on.

"Wow," Catherine said as she entered the room and saw the body.

"Been here a while and roasting in the sun by the look and smell of it," Nick said.

Catherine was about to mention the officer when her cell phone rang.  She held it away from her ear as static greeted her.  She hung up.

"Who was that?"  Nick asked.

"The ex," Catherine replied bitterly.  She walked over to the deceased closet hoping it would shed some light on the case.  Her phone rang again, this time she held on the line longer when she thought she heard a voice.

"Mommy?"  Was all she heard at first.  She frowned, Lindsay sounded like she was tense.

"Lindsay?  Is that you?"

"Mommy ... please ... I'm all alone ..."  Lindsay shouted into the still faltering phone.

Catherine's pace quickened as she heard Lindsay's distress.

"Lindsay?  Baby where's Daddy?"

Nick looked up hearing Catherine's panic.

"Mommy?  I can't hold on ... water ..."  Lindsay continued.

"Cath, go."  Nick said.

Catherine nodded still holding the phone to her ear as she ran to the car.

"Lindsay can you hear me?"  Catherine yelled.  When she got no response she thought the worst but sighed in immeasurable relief as Lindsay's voice came through the speakerphone.

"Mommy there's lots of water."  Lindsay said.  Catherine felt tears welling in her eyes and berated herself.  She needed to keep focus if she was to find Lindsay.

"Lindsay?  I'm coming baby.  I just need to know where you are."  Catherine said.  For the next few minutes Catherine muddled her way through locations, special signposts or landmarks that would help distinguish one area from another.  She couldn't remember how she got to the car, adrenalin and sheer fear had taken over her senses.  All she knew is she had to get her daughter out and nothing was going to stop her.

After ten minutes of hugging her daughter and thanking the Gods, Catherine vaguely remembered the paramedics and police surround the scene.  Lindsay was looked after first at Catherine's staunch insistence.  Detective Vega had handed Catherine a Starbucks coffee and she sat there holding the grande cup with a rug protecting her from the cold.

She smiled when the paramedics placed the rug around her mistaking the shiver that ran through her body as a reaction to the freezing water when, in actual fact it was her coming down from the adrenalin.  It had protected her during her daring rescue and now that she looked at Eddie's car being pulled out of the canal she realised just how close she had come to losing her daughter.  She had almost been completely submerged in the car with no way out.  Thank God the cell phone had worked and Lindsay was a keen observer of her surroundings.

She pushed off her rug and walked over to the car.  She hadn't even noticed that Sara was on the case until she saw her peering in on the cars right side.

"Cat, I'm sorry."  Sara said.  As she spoke it she wondered if it sounded inadequate for the current situation.

Catherine nodded and looked in on the left side.  She noticed the blood stain on the seat and looked away.  On the dashboard she saw a vile.

"Drugs?"  Sara asked.

"Knowing Eddie's taste in women I'd say that's a good bet."  Catherine replied.

"Hey Catherine?  You want to give me that?  You shouldn't be handling evidence you're not on the case."  Sara said.  She wanted nothing more than to take Catherine in her arms and comfort her but she knew Catherine wouldn't allow people to think she was weak so Sara reverted into what she knew.  Work.

Catherine looked at Sara.  She knew she was right but her daughter had almost died and Eddie was missing.  This case was going to be about her life and she needed to be a part of it.  She reluctantly moved away and, with one last look at Sara, walked back to the ambulance and into her daughters waiting arms.

Back at the lab Catherine, Sara, Lindsay and Vega sat and began the interview.  Lindsay had wanted to find Eddie so Catherine had made her shower and change, Catherine collecting her clothes as evidence.

"Lindsay can you tell me what you did tonight?"  Vega asked.

"We had banana split and then we drove some.  I had fallen asleep when Daddy stopped the car and let some girl in."

Catherine fumed as she sat next to Lindsay.  Eddie had been warned to keep his sexual encounters away from Lindsay.  She thought to herself, 'I'll kill him,' and closed her eyes for a moment thinking that she may not have the opportunity to fight with him.

"Did your Dad get out of the car?"  Sara asked.

"Yeah, he went to go get her."

"He left you in the car alone?"  Catherine yelled.

Sara noticed Catherine becoming increasingly agitated and knew Lindsay would feed off that and may not remember all of the evening so as not to make her father look bad.  She stood and asked Catherine is she could speak to her for a moment.  Catherine didn't even make eye contact, she got up and left the room.  Sara stood rooted to the same spot.  She had hoped to place a reassuring hand on Catherine, sooth her or something but the cold manner in which she was treated worried her.  She sat and continued to ask Lindsay about the night.

Catherine was fuming.  Sara had no right to stop her feeling anger towards Eddie.  She was tempted to take Lindsay home but she knew that Eddie had to be found.  If Lindsay had some insight into where he was she had to let Sara know.  Knowing Eddie he was probably in some mangy hotel fornicating with this woman, on drugs or something.

Her cell phone rang and she answered with a curt, "Willows."  It was the officer in charge of the diving crew.

"We found him,"  he said.

Catherine knew from his tone that Eddie was dead.  She hung up and looked at Lindsay through the glass.  How was she going to tell her daughter that her father had died?

*****

Catherine knew that the body coming into the lab was Eddie.  An eerie silence followed her as she walked into the room.  There was Eddie, lying on the steel bed, a sheet covering most of his body.  Catherine walked over, her eyes resting on Eddie's closed ones.  She'd seen dead bodies before and always noticed the wound or the surrounding scene but this time it was different.  She was viewing it as she imagined those left behind on her numerous cases did.  With disbelief and questions.

Doc Robbins cleared his throat telling her she couldn't view the body in the autopsy room.  Catherine nodded and walked out saying nothing.  She had to find Lindsay and tell her about her father.

Lindsay was sitting with Sara when Catherine got back.  Sara smiled, hoping Catherine would take comfort with her.  Catherine held her hand out to Lindsay who she noticed, had been crying.

"Come on baby, we should go home."

Lindsay sniffed and hugged Sara.  Sara responded by wrapping her arms around her and kissing her head.

Catherine took Lindsay's hand and they walked to the car.  Catherine knew Sara wanted to talk to her, be there for her but she wasn't ready to be comforted.  She knew Sara had looked hurt when she refused to look at her.

"Mom?"  Lindsay asked in a voice that sounded decidedly like a three year old.

"Yes baby?"

"Daddy's dead isn't he?"

Catherine caught a sob in the back of her throat.

"I'm sorry baby, yes he is."

Lindsay's tears flowed for a long time after Catherine had told her.  Catherine held her close singing softly and stroking her hair.  She mumbled 'I love you' over and over again, closing her eyes and seeing Eddie lying on the table ready to be dissected by the Doc.  She did not cry once, even when her neighbour came in to look after a sleeping Lindsay while she went back to work.

*****

Nick and Warrick met each other in the break room, seeing Sara staring into her cup of coffee.

"What's going on?" Nick asked.

"Eddie died and Lindsay almost drowned."  Sara said.  Warrick came over and put a supportive arm around her shoulders that were shaking from the silent sobs.

"Where's Catherine?  Is Lindsay alright?"  Nick asked concerned.

Sara took a deep breath and recounted the evening, her voice tinged with sadness for Catherine and Lindsay but also with pride over Catherine's actions.  She had always known Catherine would give her life to save Lindsay but now hearing of her bravery she knew that if Social Services had listened to Eddie all those years ago they would have robbed Lindsay of the best mother she could ever hope for.

Grissom had come in while the three of them sat there and reluctantly made them get back to work.  It was in the lab where Catherine found both Nick and Warrick when she came back in.

"Hey Cath,"  Warrick said, hugging her.

"Anything you need," Nick said also hugging her.

"Thanks guys."

"Where's Linds?"  Warrick asked.

"Sleeping.  She'll be out for a while.  I needed to get back to work, do something."

Nick nodded, he knew what it was like to sit around and think of the experience moment after moment.  He had done that when he'd had a gun pointed at him.  He knew Catherine needed to be distracted for a while so he began to recount the scene and the evidence he was currently working on.

Catherine stood in the room, her mind wandering to the car in water and Lindsay screaming.  She turned her head, hoping to get rid of the memory when she saw Sara.  She heard her discussing the drugs in the car and was tempted to follow her.  When she saw the look of love and concern Sara sent her and felt overwhelmed.  She decided to stay away from Sara for the time being.

*****

Sara had taken Detective Vega with her to interview the workers at the music studio where Candice had worked.  She had found out that the woman in the car, thanks to Lindsay's description matched one of the singers on the payroll.  It turned out that Eddie was her manager.  After getting an address for this singer, Sara spearheaded the search for her.  She knew it wasn't her job but this case was personal.  She had to find the cause of the accident.  She had to help Catherine and Lindsay find peace.

Once back at the lab Sara set about grilling Candice over her whereabouts.

"What happened to your wrist?"  Sara asked.

"Hurt it."

"In the accident?"  Sara asked.  She knew that the blood on the seat did not belong to Candice but she led on that it would incriminate her and Candice began to admit she in the car.   She was fuming when she continued to mention Lindsay as 'that child' or 'that brat.'  She was glad Catherine wasn't aware that they had Candice here.

"Yeah ok.  It all happened so fast."

"There was a child in the back, you didn't think to save her?"  Sara yelled.

"My main priority was Eddie.  What could I have done differently?"

"Called an ambulance,"  Sara replied sarcastically.

"That stupid screaming kid wouldn't shut up, I got out of there quick smart."

Suddenly the door to the interrogation room flew open.  No one in the room was prepared for an angry Catherine who flew across the table to make a grab for the singer.  Sara grabbed her waist having to use all her strength to pull her away.  She finally managed to get Catherine out into the hall with Catherine still yelling threats at the singer.

"What the hell are you doing?"  Sara exclaimed.

"I've been here a lot longer than you," Catherine started.

"Then you should know better," Sara replied, hurt that Catherine seemed to have little faith in her ability to solve this case for her.

"I wouldn't have to be here if you were doing your job properly," Catherine spat out.

Sara wondered if Catherine's anger was directed at her because Eddie had passed and there was no one else to take it or whether Catherine still resented her for reporting unfavorably on Warrick all those years ago.

"There's a difference between me doing my job and you wanting to do it for me," Sara responded.  "You don't want to get the job done, what you want is revenge."

Catherine laughed sarcastically, "oh so you're going to tell me what I want now huh?"

Sara sighed.  This shift had seen too much sadness.

"Go home Catherine.  Be with your daughter."  Sara said softly.  She almost cried when Catherine looked at her for the first time in the shift.  Her eyes were cold and unwelcoming.  Catherine didn't want her support or comfort and it broke her heart.  She knew Catherine wasn't interested in being near her so she added, "she's the one that needs you."

Catherine blinked in shock at Sara's tone.  She seemed depressed.  She watched as Sara walked down the hall and wondered if she had just pushed Sara too far.  In her attempt to pretend life was fine she had fought with the only one she trusted and cared enough for to break down her defenses.

Sara continued walking aimlessly around, tears falling as she went.  She found herself in Grissom's office.  He looked up in surprise and when he noticed her tear stained face he rose to meet her.  She threw herself into his arms and sobbed.  She cried for Lindsay, she cried for Catherine and she cried for herself and her inability to reach Catherine in her time of need.  No wonder her partners always left her.  She was no good to anyone even when she loved them.

She pulled away from Grissom and smiled when he handed her a tissue.

"Are you okay?"  Grissom asked.

Sara almost laughed at the question and the absurdity of it.

"This case is hard," Sara admitted.

"I know but I gave it to you because I knew you could get it done without letting Catherine take over.  I knew you'd treat it as another case when it came down to the end."

Sara blew her nose and sighed.

"Because I'm not emotionally attached?"  Sara asked bitterly.

"No Sara.  Because you are emotionally attached.  Because you know she deserves the truth no matter how hard it is to say it.  I know Nick and Warrick would sugar coat the facts, look for things that aren't there.  They'd have her best intentions at heart but it wouldn't help her or Lindsay in the long run."

Sara looked down to her pager.

"It's Vega," Sara said.

"If you need to talk my door is always open," Grissom said.

"Thanks Grissom."  Sara said.  She didn't know why she had ended up there but was glad she had.  After her little breakdown she was refreshed and ready to take on the case once more.

"I'll solve this for you Cat.  I'll bring this to an end so you and Lindsay can try to rebuild your lives."  Sara said aloud as she went to meet Vega.

"Sara, we got our other suspect.  Owns the right type of bike.  Thought you'd want to come see where he lives."

Sara smiled.  Working on breaking down the sounds from the recording studio's cd's had proved to be a worthwhile venture.  When they had stripped the tracks had heard what sounded distinctly like a gun shot and the roar or a motorcycle.  They were making progress.


PART TWENTY-ONE

Sara smiled with some satisfaction as Vega arrested the biker boy.  She struggled to recall his name and shrugged.  It wasn't as important as Catherine's emotions were and if he confessed she'd be one step closer to some sort of closure.

She dialed Catherine's home number feeling a little ashamed that she rang this number instead of her cell phone.  She wasn't terribly confident that Catherine would answer her cell if she saw the number.

"Hello?"

Sara's eyes opened wider at the voice on the other line.

"Linds?"

"Who is this?"  Lindsay asked.

"It's Sara.  From your mom's work."  She added.

"Hi Sara."  Lindsay replied quietly.

"Who is it Linds?"  Catherine asked in the background.

"It's for me mom, can I take it in my room?"  Lindsay asked.  Catherine must have replied because Sara heard the door close and Lindsay's breathing.

"Sara?"

"I'm here Linds.  Why didn't you tell your mom it was me?"

"I wanted to talk to you.  Mom will only get upset if I talk about Daddy."

Sara winced at Lindsay's description of Catherine's mood.

"You can talk to me Linds," Sara assured her.

"I just wanted to say that I love Daddy and I didn't want him to die."

"Of course you wouldn't Linds."

Lindsay started crying and Sara considered leaving work and coming over.

"Linds?"

"It's my fault Daddy is dead," Lindsay said blowing her nose.

"Linds, your Daddy had an accident, it wasn't your fault."

"It is.  I wished he and Mom would stop fighting and that you could come to see my play.  Now he's dead."

Sara was silent, unsure how to respond to Lindsay.  She hated that a girl so young was carrying around guilt so heavy.

"Oh Linds, we all want our parents to be friends.  It wasn't your fault."

Lindsay's cries were getting increasingly louder and Sara felt powerless to help her.  She picked up her cell phone and called Catherine's cell.  Catherine picked it up on the fourth ring.

"Sara?"

"Cat, listen I know you don't want to talk to me but you need to go to Lindsay."

"Lindsay?  She's here."  Catherine said puzzled.

"I know, I'm on the phone with her.  She's put it down and is crying.  She thinks she's to blame for Eddie's death."

Catherine felt tears well up in her eyes.

"Okay.  Thank you."  Catherine said.  She held on the line wanting to ask Sara to come over, to comfort her.  She knew she had no right to ask.  After all, they were in the very early stages of a relationship.  She wasn't about to embarrass herself and beg.

"Cat?"

"Sara."

"How are you?"  Sara asked.

Catherine wanted to yell that she ached for Sara's touch, for Sara's comfort but held back.

"I'm okay Sara.  Lindsay is my priority, like you said."

Sara cringed at Catherine's tone.  It was dull and flat, devoid of emotion.  It worried her.

"Okay well I'll let you get to her.  Give her a hug from me," Sara said hanging up before she cried.

"Sara I ..." Catherine's sentence was cut short when she heard the line go dead.

Sara didn't have time to sit in the dark office and cry for the collective pain she was feeling for her pager vibrated on her belt.  It was Grissom.  Sara took a deep breath to compose herself and made her way to the break room.

"Sara."  Grissom greeted her.

"Did he confess?"  Sara asked expectantly.

Grissom shook his head, "sorry" was all he said.

Sara clenched her fists in anger.  Candice and Biker Boy were supposed to roll over.  Isn't that how it was done in those movies?  The good guy wins?  Sara had seen her fair share of unsolved cases but this wasn't just a case number to file away.  This was Catherine and Lindsay.  This was family.

"Shit!"  Sara yelled.  A few people passing by looked up.  Greg dashed out of the lab and came to stand at the doorway.

"Catherine?"  He asked.

"Sara, there is no gun."  Grissom stated.

"But we heard it," Sara shouted in anger.

Greg made a few tentative steps towards her but stopped when Grissom nodded no.

"We can get them on lesser charges," Grissom said.

"This is bullshit."  Sara said, her voice lower but still holding the anger of her previous statements.

"We can only follow the evidence so far Sara.  Even when we want it to take us further."

"Fuck the evidence speech Grissom.  This is Catherine and Lindsay we're talking about.  How can we look her in the eye after this?  How can I look her in the eye?"  Sara said.

If Grissom was offended at Sara's outburst he didn't show it.  He simply rose from the table and handed her a folder.

"This is what we've found.  We all worked on this Sara.  We dropped other cases.  That was done for Catherine."

Sara knew she couldn't monopolize the feeling of sorrow and sighed.

"Sorry."  She said.

Grissom tucked his folders under his left arm.

"Do you want me to tell her?"  Grissom asked.

Sara smiled at the gesture but nodded no.

"It was my case, I'll do it."

"I can be there if you want," Greg offered.  He felt helpless to help.  He worked on evidence and it was an easy yes or no world.  Seeing everyone take the pain of this case as if it was their own made him feel like an outsider.

"Thanks Greg for the offer but I'd better do this on my own," Sara responded.  She saw Greg fidget and kissed him on the cheek.

"I'll tell Catherine you're sending your best wishes.  You're part of the family."  Sara said.  It was true even though he annoyed her.  She knew what it felt like to be on the outside of this group.  It wasn't a nice feeling.  She felt like she was passing the gauntlet onto the newest family member.

*****

Sara spent the next hour going over the case and was resigned to the fact that Catherine was not going to be satisfied with her outcome.  She just hoped that Catherine would realise that she had worked hard.

Grissom had apparently called Catherine in because as Sara was filing away notes and so forth she heard Catherine's voice behind her.  Sara froze as she spoke.

"So you're calling it?"  Catherine asked.  Her voice was a mix of anger and disbelief and it cut right through Sara's heart.

Sara turned, unable to look Catherine in the eye.

"I've got two liars and no murder weapon; and no choice," Sara said.  She choked on a sob that was perilously close to being released.  She felt her own heart breaking as she spoke.  "I'm going to nail the singer on child endangerment and fleeing the scene," Sara has to stop as her voice faltered slightly.  "The dealer goes up on possession for sale."

Catherine closed her eyes and looked away.  She was seconds from breaking down.

"What a great bedtime story for my little girl," Catherine said.

From her tone Sara knew Catherine wasn't satisfied with her work on the case.  She almost told Catherine no one could be as disappointed in her performance than she was but instead she said, "Cat, I did my best."

The look Catherine shot Sara was one that Sara was sure she'd relive everyday for the rest of her life.  It was filled with anger and pain and it was directed at her.  Before Sara could move closer Catherine put her hand up and walked away.

Sara knew she should follow her but her own heart was suffering under the strain.  She had always pushed herself in her cases, took them personally.  This one was personal and she had not played it well enough.  She sat at her computer and began typing.  Word after word made her think clearer.

Catherine just made it to her car before the tears began to fall.  They spilled out of her eyes at a fast pace, cascading down her cheeks and dripping off her jaw.  Her mouth would open but no sound would be released.  She put her glasses on and drove back home.  Lindsay would need her mother to be strong, not fall apart.

When Catherine got home she stood at Lindsay's door and watched the rise and fall of her daughters chest.  She looked at peace, an illusion Catherine was happy enough to believe for the time being.  She finally made it to her bedroom and layed on her bed.  It looked so large, like it would swallow her up.  She curled into a ball and let her tears flow.  She cried for the loss of Eddie.  It was true, they weren't terribly compatible but there was a time she cared for him.  Now Lindsay was without a father.  Those issues would be resolved on the surface after a while but what happened when it came time for Father's Day?  Or Lindsay's wedding day?  The small events like drawing pictures for her parents; would Lindsay feel the shame and sorrow of having to tell people her father died?

Catherine's mind swung to Sara.  She had treated Sara badly during this whole dreadful mess.  She wished she was here now cuddling her, whispering to her.  Reassuring her.  Sara had done her best and Catherine had dismissed it on more than one occasion.  She knew Sara would take that personally and part of her did it simply to make another person feel bad too.  It was cruel and despicable and Catherine felt ashamed.  She wondered if she called Sara now and asked her to come over, would Sara say yes?

Catherine's sobs got louder as she prayed that Sara would forgive her.

Lindsay was awoken by the sound and made her way into her mother's bedroom.  She saw her mother curled on her right side and could hear her muffled cries.  She climbed on the bed and layed with her whispering, "it's okay mommy."

Catherine's tears fell harder as she realised she had let Lindsay down once more.  Her life was a mess and she only had herself to blame.  She made the decision right then that she would call Sara tomorrow and apologise.


PART TWENTY-TWO

Catherine woke next morning to see Lindsay wrapped around the rug on her bed and ran her hand through her hair.  Lindsay was a sound sleeper to which Catherine was thankful for.  She needed time to relax, this was too much for such a young girl to take in.  Catherine shook her head remembering the night before.  Lindsay had thought she was to blame.  That kind of guilt wouldn't evaporate quickly.

Catherine got out of the bed, leaving the door slightly ajar.  She hit the answering machine and listened to the platitudes of her co-workers, some of Lindsay's friends and their parents.  She wondered how the news had spread so quickly but that train of thought was quickly forgotten when her machine told her she had no more messages.

"Cell phone," Catherine said aloud.  She ran around the house furiously trying to find her bag.  When she got her mobile out she saw she had several missed calls.  Scrolling through the numbers she sat on the couch deflated.  "Why hadn't Sara called?"  Catherine said to herself.  She ran her hand through her hair wondering if she had gone too far and Sara simply didn't care.

"No, no, that's not Sara."  Catherine told herself.  She smiled.  Talking to yourself is a sign of madness was it not?  That or an indication that you're in a soap opera.

Catherine poured herself a cup of juice and sat back on the couch.  Her mind went through the evening and her interactions with Sara.  She began to cry as she understood why Sara wasn't calling her.  She thought Catherine blamed her. Catherine hadn't been terribly welcoming at the conclusion of the case and she knew how Sara took her work.  She had tried her best of that she was certain and Catherine had essentially told her it wasn't enough. What a slap in the face for one of the hardest workers in the lab; a person who took each defeat personally and wrestled with those demons long after the next crime.

"A person who opened herself up to you,"  Catherine said.  She threw the pillow she was resting on in anger.  She sat there for a moment wondering if she should call Sara or wait until she went back to work.  She closed her eyes for a moment, sleep taking her.

*****

Sara woke with a strange feeling on her cheek.  She pulled her head up and looked around.  She was in her office and had slept through the shift, a post it lying creased on her cheek.  That hadn't happened to her for a while.  She was about to check her messages when the phone near her rang.

"Sidle?"

Grissom sighed.

"I was hoping you weren't going to answer that," he said.

"Then why did you call?"  Sara asked, her mind still foggy.

"Sara?  Come see me."

"At your home?"  Sara asked confused.

"My office Sara."  Grissom said.

Sara opened her mouth in surprise.

"Okay.  Bye."  She said hanging up.

She made it to his office in a matter of seconds and saw that he too had stayed the night.

"You were here too," Sara stated.

"I'm the boss," Grissom said like it was all the reason he needed.

"Grissom, I need to talk to you about something."  Sara said reluctantly.

"Catherine?"  He asked.

"Here, this will answer your question," Sara said handing him a folded sheet of paper.

Grissom took the paper and opened it.  It was Sara's resignation.

"No, I'm not taking this," Grissom said.

Sara laughed.

"You are the boss," she said.

"I meant I won't accept this.  You are not quitting."

"I think that it's my decision to make Grissom."  Sara said sadly.

"This because of Catherine?"  Grissom asked.

Sara looked up and wondered if he meant her relationship with her.

Grissom continued, "because her behaviour wasn't an indication of how she feels about your work or your place on the team."

"I failed Grissom," Sara said.

"You didn't fail Sara.  We all pooled our resources and none of us could find any more that what we had."

"You wouldn't understand," Sara said.

"Sara please don't leave us," Grissom said.

"You can find a replacement,"  Sara stated.

"You are family, that can't be replaced with a signature on an employment paper."  Grissom said.

"It's for the best," Sara said tiredly.  She had hoped Grissom would be his usual stoic self and not fight her on it.

"For who?  You?"

"Yes Grissom, for me.  I'm thinking about myself for once.  I'm making a decision about my life that will effect it for a long time to come."  Sara yelled.

"Maybe if you took a few days off?"  Grissom suggested.

"The case will still be where it is.  Catherine will still look at me with those disappointed eyes."  Sara said softly.

"Sara, is this about Catherine or you?"

Sara sighed, "probably both," she admitted.

"Take two weeks off Sara."

"Grissom."

"Hear me out.  You'd have to stay until we found a replacement anyway.  Take two weeks off, it's owing to you.  I'll file this after those two weeks if you still want to leave."

Sara sighed.

"Grissom, I'll work until the replacement is found.  If I take two weeks off I'll go crazy."

"Okay, but I'm still giving you two weeks to make up your mind."  Grissom said.

"Then I'll be here longer while you get a replacement."  Sara pointed out.

"No, you can leave after those two weeks and we'll make do."  Grissom offered.

"Whatever, I'll be gone either way," Sara said shrugging.  With that she walked out of his office.  She needed to sit in the darkness of her office and agonize over every second of Eddie's case to see if she could have done something differently.

She contemplated calling Catherine but resisted.  She wouldn't be doing it to make Catherine feel better, she'd be calling to make sure Catherine was indeed talking to her and at a time like this that wasn't reason enough.

"She'll call me if she needs anything," Sara told herself.

*****

Catherine was shaken awake by Lindsay.  She woke with a start, hoping everything was okay.

"What is it baby?"

"You were screaming for Sara to save you," Lindsay said.

Catherine couldn't remember her dream but she felt like it had been an emotional one.

"Just a dream Linds, I'm okay."

"Can Sara come over today?"  Lindsay asked.

"I don't think so, she's probably at work."

"Can I call her and ask?"  Lindsay begged.

"I didn't know you were so close with Sara," Catherine said sarcastically and immediately cursed her tone.

Lindsay missed the sarcasm in Catherine's tone and continued, "she was really nice to me last night mom.  I like talking to her.  She's smart."

Catherine smiled at Lindsay evaluation of Sara.

"Linds, we'll see okay?"

"Okay mom."

Catherine was glad Lindsay didn't continue begging her otherwise she would have relented.  She got up and made breakfast for Lindsay and herself, thinking about how  their lives had changed forever.

"Mommy?"

"Yes Linds?"

"Will we have the funeral soon?"

Catherine choked on her coffee at Lindsay's question.  It was so straightforward that it took her by surprise.

"I'm not sure baby.  Why?"

"I was just wondering."  Lindsay said.

"Okay," Catherine replied, unsure what to say.  She took a deep breath and said, "Daddy was hurt when he died so the doctor has to see how it happened.   Then we had to find the person who did that to Daddy."

"You mean Sara and everyone?"

"Yes sweetheart."

"That's why we had to answer those questions?"

"That's right Linds.  We couldn't find the man who hurt Daddy but we arrested that woman in Daddy's car because she didn't help you."  Catherine knew that wasn't the whole truth but she decided against telling her about the drugs.

"Okay mom."  Lindsay said.

"Okay?"  Catherine asked.  She had expected Lindsay to ask more questions.

"Did Sara help find who hurt Daddy?"

Catherine sighed.  She hadn't stop talking about Sara in one way or another all morning and it was making her resolve to stay away from her harder and harder.

"She was in charge baby.  Everyone helped though; Warrick, Nick and Gil.  Greg too."

"Mommy you're lucky to have friends who help you."  Lindsay said taking a sip form her glass of milk.

Catherine smiled, a tear running down her face.

"I am baby.  And I'm lucky to have you."

"I love you mom."  Lindsay said.

"I love you too baby.  With all my heart."  Catherine said kissing Lindsay's forehead.

"Mom, don't cry."  Lindsay said wiping the tears from Catherine's face.

"Sorry baby."

"It's okay mom, I cry too.  I wish Sara was here to help you too."

Catherine swallowed a sob at Sara's name.  Lindsay's innocent suggestion meant more to her than her daughter would know.

"I'm going to have a shower mom," Lindsay said getting up from the table.  She felt bad for her mom and hoped she would be okay.

Catherine took the chance to call Grissom while Lindsay was in the shower.

"Grissom?"

"Gil, it's Catherine."

"Cath?  How are you and Lindsay?"

"Getting through with each other to help,"  Catherine said.

"Send her our love," Grissom said.

"Thank you Gil, I will.  I was calling to see if I could get Eddie's body today."

"Are you taking care of the arrangements?"  Grissom inquired.

"Yeah, for Lindsay."

"I'll get the body released to you right now.  Case is closed so we have no need to hold him here any longer."

Catherine took a deep breath before asking, "is Sara still there?"

Grissom frowned.

"How did you know she'd still be here?"

"Just a hunch Gil."

"She is, she slept in her office."

Catherine sighed.

"She took this hard," Grissom said.

"I was a bitch to her," Catherine admitted.

"You were grieving," Grissom countered.

"No excuse.  She needed support and I gave her attitude."

Grissom wondered whether he should tell Catherine about Sara's resignation letter but decided against breaking Sara's confidence.

"I'll be in tonight to get a few things Gil, is that okay?"

"Of course it is Cath."

"Thanks.  Anyway, I'd better get the funeral home details so you can send the body there.  I'll call you back."

"I'll be here Cath.  Take care."

She hung up and tried to remember the funeral home card that Doc Robbins had discreetly passed her.  She found the card with little effort and dialed Grissom's line again.

"It's me Gil."  Catherine ran off the address and hung up.  She cradled the phone in her hand and took the step she had been wanting to take all morning.

"Sidle?"

Catherine opened her mouth but no sound came out.  She quickly hung up without saying anything, disgusted at her cowardice.

Sara shook her head.  She was relieved that the phone had rung because she was swallowing herself up in self-pity and hated being there.  She made her way to the break room and saw a few day staff there.  They looked at her and smiled.  Sara being there after her shift was not an unusual occurrence.

She poured a coffee and wandered the halls.  She saw Grissom in the morgue and knew he was there to collect Eddie's body.  Sara's shoulders slumped.  That had meant Catherine had called work and hadn't been interested in getting Sara's help.  She knew Grissom and Catherine were close but she had hoped she was closer.

"You were only together a few seconds," Sara mumbled.  "She probably hates you."

Sara and Grissom made eye contact and she looked away.  She didn't want Grissom to see that her eyes were filling up with tears.

Grissom frowned at Sara's appearance.  He was used to her taking some cases harder than others and it made sense that this case would be one of those.  But in her eyes he could have sworn she was taking this case personally.  Like she had lost someone.

*****

Lindsay was dried and changed by the time Catherine had called around to a few places to organise the funeral.  She had the Church booked for three days away, she had rung a few of Eddie's relatives and some of her own.  Catherine was glad most of Eddie's relatives lived in the area with three days not being too long away.  She had smiled when the priest had said there was an opening so quickly.  Eddie always like things done fast, it seemed fitting somehow.

"Lids?"

"Yeah mom?"

"Come sit down here, Catherine said patting the space next to her. Lindsay sat and curled into Catherine.  "Daddy's funeral is on Friday.  Do you want to ask some of your friends from school to come?"

"Only Jessie.  She told me it was okay to cry in front of her because sometimes she gets really sad when she remembers her grandmother's funeral."

"Okay sweetheart, well you can call her if you like.  I've got to get everything ready for that so will you be okay if you stayed with Jessie?"  Catherine hated the idea of being separated from her daughter but she knew that she wouldn't get through the arrangements if she had her there.  She wanted to treat this like a case; methodical and precise.

"Mommy will you be okay by yourself?"  Lindsay asked.

Catherine smiled weakly at Lindsay's concerned face staring at her.

"That's sweet for asking Linds, I'll be okay."  She gathered Lindsay up in a hug more as a comfort for herself than for her daughter.

"I'll go pack," Lindsay said kissing Catherine on the cheek as she got up.

Catherine sat on the couch organizing the day in her head.  She had to go into work, pick her sister up and find a suit for Eddie to be buried in.

"Mom?  I'm ready."

Catherine looked down at her watch and noticed that an hour had passes since Lindsay had gone to get a few things ready.  She shook her head wondering where that time had gone.

*****

Once Catherine had dropped Lindsay off and fielded the usual speeches of condolences and support she steered her car towards the one place that was making her stomach feel like it had butterflies flying around inside.

Grissom had met her at the front doors to which she was grateful for.  He looked at her with sympathetic eyes and hugged her briefly.  She smiled and patted him on his chest.

"I'm okay Gil."

"It's harder to find something to say that doesn't sound like the company line when it hits closer to home," Grissom admitted.

"I know Gil but honestly I'm okay."

"Where's Lindsay?"

"Staying with her best friend.  I thought she might need someone her own age to share her feelings with."

Grissom nodded.

"I sent off Eddie's body to that address you gave me.  They said they'd do the transportation and the rest for half price as a courtesy."

Catherine smiled at the kind gesture.

"I'll be sure to thank them."

"I'll give you some time to do what you need but if you want me to help you know you can come see me," Grissom offered.

"Thanks Gil, I know.  Thank you."

Grissom nodded and walked back to his office.

Catherine made her way to her locker to get a few valuables.  She wasn't even sure what it was that she was looking for but she needed to feel a sense of peace and being at work gave her that.  She sat, locker door open, and stared into it.  She looked at the photographs of a smiling Lindsay.  She pulled one off and rubbed her face.  How different that time had been.  Now what would become of Lindsay?  Would she act out when it all sank in?  Would she blame Catherine?  Catherine wiped a tear off the photo and put her head in her hands, sobbing uncontrollably.

*****

Sara received a call from the front reception letting her know her visitor had arrived.  She smoothed her clothing down and made her way to the main area.  When she got closer she started to feel like she had made a mistake but it was too late to change it.

"Sara, this a surprise."

Sara smiled and embraced Montana.

"Thank you for coming.  I'm sorry if you were busy."

Montana smiled and moved a stray lock of hair out of Sara's face.

"I told you that you could call me and I meant it.  So come on honey, tell me what has you so down."

Sara escorted Montana to her office saying nothing the entire trip.  Montana fell into stride alongside her willing to wait until Sara was ready.  When Sara closed the door to her office she turned to Montana and cried immediately.

Montana pulled Sara to her, soothing her with whispers of support.  Sara's body shook as she tried to slow her crying down.  Montana kept hold of her until Sara pulled away.

"I'm sorry."  Sara said, her eyes fastened firmly on a spot on the floor.

"Tell me Sara,"  Montana urged softly.

"It's Catherine."

Montana smiled.

"I figured as much.  Did she do something to you?"

"No.  I messed things up.  I failed her."

"How honey?"

Sara looked up and saw nothing but concern and comfort in Montana's eyes.  She took a deep breath and recounted the entire case with Eddie.  Montana sat there allowing her to determine the pace of the story, keeping silent until Sara looked at her.

"What do you think?"  Sara asked.

"I think you both need to communicate.  Sara, you didn't fail her.  You did what you could and there is nothing more anyone can ask."

"You don't understand," Sara said blowing her nose.  "She needed some good news to tell her daughter and she was counting on me.  On me!"

Montana put her hands on Sara's shoulders and forced her to face her.

"Sara, there would be no good outcome of that case.  Even if you found someone guilty of murder Eddie would still be dead."

"It's not that simple," Sara complained.

"But it is Sara.  Yes, Catherine was mad and said things that I can see have hurt you but that shouldn't make you resign.  You love this woman and from what I know of you, well you don't make that kind of commitment to everyone.   Is leaving her when she most needs you going to be how you want Catherine to remember you?"

Sara put her head on Montana's shoulder.

"She'll never forgive me."  Sara whispered.

Montana kissed Sara's head.

"Come stay with me tonight," Montana offered.  She saw the look of alarm pass over Sara's face and smiled.  "Stay as my friend.  Let me be there for you."

Sara considered Montana's invitation.  She knew she'd either stay at work again or go back to her place.  A place that now reminded her of Catherine.  Both places would remind her of Catherine.

"Okay.  Thank you Montana."

"It's my pleasure."  Montana said, opening the door of Sara's office.  She turned to kiss Sara on the cheek and smiled.  "Do one thing though."

"What?"

"Have a shower cause I don't want the flies to follow you," Montana said laughing.

Sara smiled, glad that Montana's joke broke a little of the tension.

"I'll even change my clothes," Sara said smiling.

Montana smiled and blew Sara a kiss.

"See you tonight honey."  Montana said waving.

Catherine chose that time to come around the corner.  She walked into the wall, not noticing anything but the interaction between Sara and Montana.  The thud was loud and attracted Sara's attention.  She stood in shock fully aware of how the situation may have looked to Catherine.

"Cat, it's not what you saw."  Sara said moving closer to Catherine who was rooted in the same spot.  Sara reached out to wipe the blood that had pooled above Catherine's eyebrow.  She moved her hand away when Catherine flinched at the touch.

Catherine placed her hand on her mouth, a few tears rolling down her face.  She backed up, not sure what to say and ran out of the lab and into her car.   She noticed that her cream pants had a small patch of blood on her thigh.  She touched her cut and hissed as she felt it still bleeding so she reached for a tissue from her purse and pressed it onto the cut.  She was about to start her car when she saw Sara place her hands on the bonnet.  Catherine lent on the horn not caring if it caused people to look around.

"Cat, please."

Catherine pressed on the horn again and tried to lock her doors as Sara came around to the drivers side.  She was feeling a little faint from her wound therefore Sara was faster.  She opened the door and Catherine noticed she too had been crying.

"Catherine, she was only there to comfort me," Sara started.  She cringed when Catherine snorted in reply.  "Comfort me as a friend."

"How nice,"  Catherine said finally finding her voice.

"I was hurting and needed you.  I need you."  Sara said placing her hands on Catherine's thigh.

"She's more than happy to comfort you with a pity fuck?"  Catherine asked.

"She would never take advantage of me," Sara replied.

"I'd rather not hear about your planned sexual escapades Sara."  Catherine said trying to start the car.

"I know you don't think I did a good enough job and I know I let you and Lindsay down.  I'm sorry.  I would trade my own life if it would make the disappointment dissipate for you."  Sara said.

"It's not about trading one life for another Sara."  Catherine said softly.

"How can I make you see that I care for you?  That I spent all the night and day going over every single aspect of the case to see if I could find more for you?  That I'm resigning so that you don't have to walk the halls and see me?  Everything in my life is about you."  Sara said crying.

"This isn't about you Sara.  It's about my daughter and her pain."  Catherine said.

"Catherine I am completely in love with you.  I know you may not want to hear that or even believe it but it's the truth.  If I don't see you in the morning before going out on a case I feel incomplete.  When I hear you laughing and joking with Nick or Warrick I imagine you're smiling at me.  When you're talking about Lindsay I love the look of pure devotion that graces your face.  It's so natural and pure.  I can watch you working out a clue forever.  Your face lights up when a breakthrough is made.  It's almost comical yet still beautiful.  When you get angry your eyes screw up slightly; they are the first indication to your mood change."

"Sara," Catherine said putting her hand up to stop her.  Sara ignored it and continued.

"I have loved the time we've spent becoming friends.  I've never felt close to many people but you make me want to share feelings and fears.  You make me want to make you proud.  I know you think I haven't done that with Eddie but I couldn't do anymore than I did.  You may think someone else could have done better no one else put their whole heart on the line.  It was hard for me to open up because I didn't want to be in this position."

"Sara, I have to go," Catherine said tears falling.

"I love you Cat.  I love you."  Sara said moving away so Catherine could close to the door.

Catherine drove off, tears filling her eyes and making driving almost impossible.  She knew Sara's words were heartfelt but she was having trouble making a decision on what to do.  She replayed Sara's speech over and over and slammed on the breaks when she recalled one thing Sara had said.

"Resigning?  She can't resign."  Catherine knew her mind was made up, she turned her car back in the direction of work determined to bare her soul to Sara.

*****

Sara found herself lying on the concrete car park floor crying.  She picked herself up hoping that no one had witnessed her behaviour.  She was willing to let Catherine in but was not willing to let her co-workers have the same insight into her life.  She looked back at the lab doors, considering her options and climbing in her car and driving to Montana's.

*****

Catherine's tyres screeched to a stop and she jumped out of the car.  Without bothering to lock the car Catherine ran through the halls in a desperate search for Sara.  She looked in Sara's usual haunts and when that was unsuccessful she dialed Sara's cell phone.  It went right to her message.

"Shit," Catherine yelled.  Had she missed her opportunity?

She looked at her watch realising that she had to get Eddie's suit and get it to the funeral parlor in three hours.  She sighed and focused on the task at hand.  She called Sara's cell phone once more in hope.  When she got the same reply as a few seconds ago she hung up before leaving a message.

*****

Sara rang the doorbell to Montana's house.  She smiled when Montana met her with two beers in hand.

"Thought you might want one of these," Montana said.

"Thanks.  For everything."

"No thanks needed Sara.  Now come, tell me all about your Catherine."  Montana said, leading Sara to the leather couches.

"I don't know if I'm up for talking about her," Sara admitted.

"You love her?"  Montana asked taking a sip from her beer.

Sara picked at the label and watched the tear away piece move across the condensation on the glass as she pushed it with her finger.

"With all that I am and possibly more."  Sara admitted.

"Then you're a fool to be here.  You should be helping her."

"I tired, she drove away."

"So you try once and then that's it?  Come on Sara.  If that's how dedicated you are to your cases then I'm going out to commit a crime and get you to work on it."  Montana said.

Sara took a long gulp of her beer.

"That was uncalled for," Sara said sadly.

"It was better than me slapping you," Montana said with a smile.

"I can't do this Montana."

"Drink beer?"

"Love her.  It hurts."

"Well it would be wonderful if you could just snap your fingers and be rid of it wouldn't it Sara?"

"Don't patronize me," Sara said hurt.

"You're talking complete shit Sara.  Surely you see that?"

"Great, I come over for support and get kicked while I'm down."

"Hey, I gave you a cold beer," Montana said smiling.  "Seriously Sara, I think you need to pursue her.  Even if it's as a friend.  She may have split form Eddie but his death has to be hurting her.  She needs you honey."

Sara put the empty beer glass on the table and stood up.

"I'm going home," Sara said.

"Sara wait.  I'm sorry if I hurt you.  Please stay."

Sara yawned and Montana smiled.

"You can have my bed Sara.  Get some sleep and then go home."

Sara was about to refuse when she realised she was incredibly tired.  She nodded and allowed herself to be escorted to Montana's bedroom.  She fell onto the bed and sleep caught up with her instantly.

Montana took Sara's shoes off and placed them near the door.  She unclasped her cell phone and noticed she had the phone on the silent setting.  She debated where or not she should call Catherine.  She knew Sara would be mad and she had no idea how Catherine would react but she scrolled through the names and found 'Cat Mobile.' She rang it from her house phone and waited for her to answer.

"Willows?"

"Ah, hello.  This is Montana, Sara's friend."

Catherine considered hanging up but waited for her to speak.

"I was wondering if, uh, if you would come over."

"What are you playing at?"  Catherine asked.

"Sara is here,"  Montana started.

"So you called to gloat?"  Catherine hissed.

"No.  She loves you Catherine.  I think you may feel something strong for her also.  Please come over."  Montana asked.

"I can't I'm busy."

"Please Catherine.  She's hurting."

Catherine considered saying no and hanging up but something in Montana's voice made her say yes.  After writing her address on a napkin Catherine hung up and made her way to the address with sweaty palms.

Montana walked back into her bedroom and watched as Sara slept.  She smiled as Sara's mouth moved like she was talking in her dream.  She continued to watch over her until she heard the doorbell ring.

"Catherine.  Thank you for coming."  Montana said opening her door and motioning for Catherine to enter.

Catherine paused for a moment and then made her way inside Montana's house.

"Where is Sara?"  Catherine asked.

"In bed," Montana said.  She immediately regretted not elaborating on it when she saw Catherine's face.  It looked like a combination between anger and hurt.  "She's sleeping.  Alone."  Montana added.

Catherine took a deep breath remembering her silent pledge to stop being so stubborn and allow Sara to be a part of her life.

"Can I see her?"

Montana pointed up the hall.

"She loves you Catherine, remember that."

Catherine nodded and made her way to the bedroom.  She saw Sara curled up and her heart broke.  Sara looked so small and lost.  She kicked off her shoes and knelt on the bed.  Sara did not stir as Catherine spooned her own body behind her.  She inhaled Sara's scent and silently cried as Sara instinctually grabbed Catherine's arm and wrapped it around her waist.

"I love you too Sara," Catherine whispered.


EPILOGUE.

Sara woke to a gentle snoring sound coming from behind her.  Her heart rate quickened as she realised where she was.  She closed her eyes hoping the sound would disappear.  It didn't.  Could she have slept with Montana?

"You're awake," a voice said from a far.

Sara groaned at the sound of Montana's voice.  She frowned.  Was she in a tunnel?  Montana sounded somewhat distant.  She rolled over to see the red locks of her sleeping companion.

"Catherine,"  Sara whispered in shock.

"I called her.  She came in and went right to sleep.  Poor thing must be exhausted."

Sara reached out tentatively as if Catherine would vanish if her presence was made known.

"Catherine."  Sara whispered again.

"Do you want something to eat?"  Montana asked.

"No, I'm going to stay here with Cat," Sara replied.

Montana nodded and closed the door as she left.

Sara kissed Catherine's forehead smiling at her presence.  She had almost given up hope of being reunited with her but if this was an indication of Catherine's opinion of their future she was overjoyed.

"That tickles," Catherine rasped.

"Catherine?"

Catherine turned to face Sara.  She reached up to stroke her cheek.

"I'm sorry Sara.  So sorry."

Sara bent down to softly kiss Catherine's lips.

"I love you Catherine."

Catherine sat up, bringing Sara with her.

"I love you too Sara.  With all of my being."

Sara's smile was the widest Catherine had ever seen at her declaration.

"Are you sure?"  Sara asked shyly.

"I may not have shown it recently baby but you are the one I love.  You're my rock; my heart.  This thing between us transcends speeches made on Hallmark cards and fluffy teddy bears with 'I love you' sewn into them.  It speaks in actions.  I look at you and I feel like I'm doing the right thing in my life.  Like I have a purpose.  I need you baby.  I'll always need you."

Sara wiped a tear that had spilled out of her eye and pulled Catherine into a passionate kiss.  She dictated the pace, trying to convey her love and support through it.  She massaged Catherine's tongue and moaned as Catherine pushed her onto her back.

"Cat, we can't."  Sara said stopping Catherine's hand on her breast.

"We've done it before baby and we're quite good at it," Catherine said smiling as she rubbed her palm up and down Sara's torso.

"No, I mean we can't do this here.  In Montana's bed."

Catherine pulled Sara's top up, biting her nipple through the bra cup.  She then undid Sara's bra and licked her nipples.

"Sara, she can change the sheets," Catherine said.

Sara moaned as Catherine began to massage her breasts.  She bucked up as Catherine unexpectedly pressed her knee into her centre.

"Cat,"  Sara moaned as she moved her hips down to meet Catherine's retreating knee.

"Want me to stop?"  Catherine teased as she played with Sara's erect nipples.

"No."  Sara grunted.

Catherine smiled and sitting aside Sara's stomach she stripped herself of her clothing.  Sara watched as Catherine furiously undid her bra, her breasts falling free and bouncing slightly.  Sara wasted no time in grabbing them and feeling their weight in her hands.

Catherine arched her back and moaned as Sara ran her palm up and down her breasts.  She could feel her core getting wetter through her panties as she rubbed it on Sara's firm stomach.

Sara flipped Catherine onto her back and, rocking on her heels, tore her shirt off and threw it to the left of her.  It knocked over a photo frame and they giggled as it happened.

Sara lowered herself on top of Catherine capturing her bottom lip and sucking on it.  She ran her hands up and down Catherine's side smiling as Catherine tried to turn her body into the feathery touch.

"You're so beautiful Cat."  Sara whispered as she undid her own jeans.  She didn't push them down but Catherine reached in and cupped her ass cheeks, squeezing them.  Sara moved with Catherine's motion, rocking in and out.  She slipped Catherine's panties down to her knees and kissed her mould.

"Get these jeans off," Catherine ordered.

Sara smiled.  She ran her finger through Catherine's pubic hair teasing her as she slowly pulled her panties down and off her legs.

"Sara, please take them off," Catherine begged, hooking her fingers into her belt hoop.

Sara couldn't resist Catherine and to be honest, she too was ready for release.  She rolled onto her back next to Catherine and pulled them off.  Catherine's eyes were firmly fixed on Sara's dark curls.  She ran her finger through, resting at Sara's opening.

"So wet and ready baby," Catherine purred.  She moved down the bed, smiling as Sara parted her legs.

"What do you want baby?"  Catherine asked as she kissed her way up Sara's legs.

"I want you inside me."  Sara said yelping as Catherine bit into her thigh.

Catherine could smell Sara, she knew she was ready.  She took a moment to compose her emotions.  She wanted to make this time a time of healing and to show Sara that she loved her and that she was sorry.

"Cat?"

Catherine realised she was sobbing.  She wiped her eyes and lifted her head to lock eyes with Sara.

"I love you Sara."  Catherine said.

Sara stroked Catherine's face gently smiling down at her.

"I love you too."  Sara said.  Her hips thrusted up as Catherine; still maintaining eye contact, pushed two fingers inside her.  She moved with the pace Catherine was setting, staring into Catherine's eyes.  She noticed that she was still crying but they were silent tears.

"Don't cry Cat, I'm here,"  Sara said in between her moaning.

"I'm so happy that I have you Sara," Catherine said.

Sara was about to reply when she found that all she could do was scream as Catherine took her clit into her mouth and flicked it with her tongue.  Her nerve endings were on fire as Catherine played with her sensitive nub and trust her fingers in tandem.

"Cat, Cat, Cat," Sara chanted like an old  prayer lost from her days of school mass and, with one last flick of her erect clit Sara's head snapped forward and hit the pillow with a well sated thud.

Catherine cleaned her juices and placed a kiss on the love bite forming on Sara's left thigh before nestling herself in Sara's embrace.

"I can't believe we just had sex in Montana's bed,"  Sara panted.

"I'd make love to you in the desert if I could Sara," Catherine admitted.

"We'd get interesting sunburn," Sara replied.

"I'd rub lotion on you baby," Catherine replied, kissing Sara's collarbone.

Sara smiled and traced Catherine's navel.  She laughed when Catherine pushed her hand to her centre.  She obliged and ran a finger through her pubic hair, pressing on her clit.  Catherine shot up and perched her core onto Sara's thigh.  She winked as Sara watched her ride the raised thigh.

"You're such a wonderful sight," Sara said as she firmly tweaked Catherine's nipples.  She enjoyed the sight of Catherine but had to admit she enjoyed the feel of her even more.  Catherine's juices were coating Sara's thigh making the sensation feel amazing.  She stared in awe of Catherine's hips moving with such a wonderful rhythm.  Her panting was in quick breaths of air, her moans very vocal.  Her hair fell onto her face, some sticking to her forehead and cheeks.  Sara pulled Catherine's face down, thrusting her tongue into Catherine's warm mouth.  Catherine licked Sara's lips, pulling away from the kiss as she pushed down hard, climaxing loudly.

Sara turned her so she was on her back and licked her way down to Catherine's core.  She put two fingers into Catherine's mouth, hissing as she nibbled at them.  Trailing them down her side and smiling when she hit a particularly ticklish spot Sara placed them at Catherine's opening.

Catherine grabbed Sara's wrist and pushed the fingers into her.  She sat up, trapping Sara's fingers in between the mattress and her centre.  She smiled ruefully and knelt, spreading her legs.  Sara knelt in front of her, kissing her and biting her lip.

"Come with me," Catherine whispered as she reached for Sara's clit.  She began rubbing it, circling it and pressing down as she rode Sara's fingers inside her body.  Catherine climaxed first, but Sara wasn't too far behind.  They fell against each other, exhausted not just physically but mentally.

"I want to be here for you," Sara said.

Catherine kissed Sara's cheek before wrapping her body around her.

"You are baby.  We have to talk but I know we'll be okay.  Love you," Catherine murmured.

"Love you too.  Always."

THE END.


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