Title: Two Drinks and a Murder

Author: Sky_Tye

Rating: For now? It's a PG-13 but I'm thinking it'll get up to R on ff.net and NC-17 on the Yahoo Group Cath/Sara in some parts.

Disclaimer: They're not mine, or at least that's what the nice men in white lab coats giving me my medication say. :)

Spoilers: A slight reference to "After the Show"

Author's Note: This isn't my first CSI fan fiction, but it's my first attempt at Catherine/Sara so be nice.

*~*~*~*

If one asked Catherine Willows why she'd gone into Shay's Shack that night she wouldn't have a ready answer to give. She linked it to her sudden feelings of loneliness or she could perhaps link it to the fact that her last meal was with Gil Grissom and that event had taken place in the Dark Ages. So when she drove place the small parking lot outside the pub she found it was almost instinctive for her to pull in and check it out.

Walking in, a bell ringing somewhere above her about her arrival, she expected a cloud of stale cigarette smoke to slam into her senses and make her eyes water from the sting but was pleasantly surprised when nothing hit her. Rather a low roar of rambled conversation entered into her hearing and set a background monotone that eased her mind down from the anxious high she had wound up to earlier that night dealing with a drug dealer and two dead teenagers. God help her she loved her job but sometimes, sometimes she just wanted to leave. The cloud of melancholy seemed to fade as she claimed a leather upholstered stool at the bar and was greeted by a slim, attractive redhead in her late thirties who seemed trustworthy in that bartender sort of way. She smiled at Catherine and reached under the counter to pull out a clean glass.

"What can I get for you Sug?" she asked, her voice a mellow southern drawl. Catherine looked up from the spot on the polished wood counter she had focused on right after sitting and smiled hesitantly in return.

"Oh, coffee, please."

"Black?"

Catherine's response was a silent nod and the bartender walked away with a hum on her lips. She watched the woman pour the coffee and then return to place the steaming mug in front of her. Smiling gratefully in thanks Catherine reached for the packets of sugar and cream the woman had set down after picking up the first glass. Curling her hands around the cup she sighed when the warmth crept into her fingers and up into her arms, chasing away the chill the night had set onto her body.

"So you're a new face 'round here. Got a name?" the bartender asked, leaning up against the counter opposite the one Catherine was sitting at. Her eyes twinkled with a maternal glow and her lips were beginning to curl into something of a small smile.

Catherine took a sip of the coffee and sighed in appreciation of the hot drink before answering. "Catherine."

"Catherine? Pretty name, my niece's named that." the bartender wiped her hands on the towel she had draped over her shoulder earlier. "I'm Adrianne. But call me Anne, everyone else here does."

"What's wrong with Adrianne?"

"Too stuffy," Anne wrinkled her nose in distaste. "And do I look like an Adrianne to you?"

Catherine studied the redhead for a moment and then slowly shook her head. "No, I guess not."

"See? Besides, whoever heard of a bartender named 'Adrianne'?" Anne chuckled, "So, what brings you here this time of the day? I rarely get anyone now, well 'cept for those six over there," she gestured to the group of men whose conversation had become her background noise, "and my favorite little gal every Tuesday and Thursdays .which reminds me." Anne trailed off and ambled to another part of the bar where a kettle was plugged in.

Before Catherine could make a comment, or even start to think of a reply the small bell above the entrance jangled and signaled another person entering the bar.

"Hey Anne sorry I'm late, my car's being an ass again and Grissom wanted to take forever in the meeting." a familiar low voice crooned from the doorway. Catherine's ears perked at the voice and she paused in taking another sip of her coffee to marvel at the coincidence. Or was she cursing at the irony of the situation?

"Darhling, where have you been? Oh never mind that, I have your usual ready to go." Anne pushed from the counter and stepped up to hug the person now standing to Catherine's left. "Just give me a minute."

"That's all right, I need to use the bathroom to freshen up. That last case and my bloody engine really threw me for a loop." the person paused as if something had caught their attention in mid-thought and Catherine knew she had finally been recognized. "Catherine?"

Smiling wryly into her coffee Catherine lifted her shoulders in a shrug. "Hey Sara."

Sara Sidle flashed a puzzled smile at her; she had expected a sarcastic or even callused remark but not a weary hello. "Uh---would you excuse me I need to-"

"Need to freshen up, I heard."

Sara nodded and touched her shoulder briefly, a gesture from the old days and left, waving idly at Anne to set the tea on the counter. Anne did so and slid a sideways glance towards Catherine.

"So you're Catherine."

"Excuse me?" Catherine frowned politely, not getting the apparent enlightenment Anne suddenly had thrown on her.

"You're the Catherine from work that Sara's always going on about."

"She talks about me?" Catherine glanced over to the restrooms and back. "Sara?"

"Oh all the time Sug'. There's not a moment she's in here when she's not talking about you. You two must be close."

Catherine gave a slow shrug and dropped her gaze into her coffee. "No, not really. No anymore at least."

"Really?" Anne sounded genuinely shocked but recovered quickly. "Well from the way that girl goes on about you it would seem that she'd like that." Anne winked and moved over to the far side, grabbing a few glasses to clean leaving Catherine the chance to think over her words.

Catherine's brow furrowed and she peered into her coffee, ignoring the slight wisp of steam floating into her eyes. She was thinking over what Anne had said, wondering exactly what she had meant by that. She knew that after the whole Hank thing her and Sara had started a friendship in a attempt to get closer but after the last high profile case, well, everything had got to pot with their try at it.

The only problem with the falling out was that Catherine hadn't wanted the friendship to wither away and die. Surprisingly she had started to enjoy the company that Sara offered, even coming to look forward to the rare occasion her and Sara got together and simply lived and had fun. And (though she would never admit it aloud under pain of death) the younger woman had grown on her past the point of friendship. Catherine was falling for the brunette and she was falling hard.

She shook her head forcibly to clear the near forbidden thoughts from her head and turned just in time to see Sara emerge from the restroom, their eyes meeting before Sara gained a faint blush and averted her gaze. She walked over to sit a few stools away from Catherine where Anne had set the tea and looked up when the strawberry blonde coughed once loudly to draw attention.

"Yeah?" she looked up, the blush still in her cheeks and her dark eyes hopeful for something other then the snarls and snaps both had thrown at the other for the past few weeks. Catherine took a breath, swallowed the lump forming in her throat and gestured for Sara to scoot over.

"Come on, I promise not to bite." Catherine said, looking quickly to see Anne watching them with a sort of fascination. When Sara took the invite and moved, Anne allowed a hidden smirk to blossom on her face before she excused herself with the need to tend something in the back.

"Hey Catherine." Sara greeted, her voice soft and unsure. Catherine smiled back almost shyly and then sipped at her coffee, watching Sara from over the rim. "Look ...about last month I'm sorry, it was..." Sara trailed off, looking ahead into the mirror that faced the two of them from the back counter making the rows of beer, wine, and liquor bottles on the back counter look like stained glass.

"Stupid." Catherine saw the angry storm rising in Sara's eyes and hastened to add, "Of both of us. I'm sorry too, for what it's worth."

"It's worth a lot." Sara's lips curled up into a half-smile and Catherine held back a relieved chuckle. Maybe things would slowly climb back into the normal range.

"And ...I've missed you, you know? Well, I've missed this." Catherine waved a hand between the two of them, expressing that she missed the friendship and half hoping that Sara would read into it more and half-hoping her lack of social skills would prevent her from getting the intended slip.

But either way Sara interpreted the gesture and words something softened in her features and a warmer smile flitted over her lips before she took a drink of her OJ. "I've missed you too KitKat,"

A warmth not unlike the coffee's heat flowed through Catherine at Sara's use of her old nickname. She beamed at the younger CSI then growled when a vibrating at her hip told her she was being paged. "So help me Lord if that's Grissom with a case on my supposed day/night off I'll show him a murder up close and personal myself." With a quick movement of her wrist, she grabbed the thing and glared at the digital readout.

"419, Call Griss." it read, making Catherine roll her eyes in annoyance and grit her teeth in anger. She looked up to tell Sara only to see the brunette glowering at her pager as well.

"Grissom page you?"

"Yeah. 419." Sara sighed. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a twenty, more then enough to cover her meal and Catherine's unfinished coffee. "Come on, might as well get back to the grindstone." They fell into step walking the short distance to the entrance, and there Catherine reached out to touch the lapel of Sara's jacket to stop her. "Yeah?"

Catherine opened her mouth to speak, thought better and closed it before stepping forward and surprising Sara with a hug, curling her arms tightly around the taller woman's waist for a split second before letting go. "I am sorry. Friends?"

The smile on Sara's face was all the answer she needed as they both walked out into the glowing sunrise.

*~*~*~*

(A/N: ) So ...like it? Not like it? Feedback is my daily source of protein ...without it I'd wither away. And flames will be used to warm my feet, it's cold!!