CSINut214 Author's Note: Leslie (ScullyAsTrinity) and I got such a kick out of cowriting the last story that we decided to try doing a series together. Unlike the last one, though, we're going to alternate writing every other chapter. She gave me a sneak peek at chapter 2, and I love it. Can't wait to see what happens next. See you in chapter 3...
When the planets finally aligned, Sara almost missed it.
To be sure, she'd spent a lifetime trying to convince herself that there were no signs. She'd rolled her eyes when her parents squinted at tea leaves or claimed to sense spectral auras. They saw omens everywhere, and so she forced herself to see them nowhere.
But damned if today didn't make her reconsider.
First, there was the homeless guy outside the police station. When he saw her, his face lit up.
"Change is coming, pretty lady! Keep your eyes open!"
Of course, he always yelled that when he saw her. And in those five years, had anything ever really changed? She shook her head at him, looking up at the darkening sky when she felt a drop land on her cheek.
The rain pounded against the hood of her car as she drove through morning traffic after shift. Hundreds of people, all heading to work. They'd probably left their homes after kissing their spouses, hugging their children, patting their dogs. Sara had had a plant once, for about five minutes. Things tended to die around her.
Between the driving rain and the blaring radio, she was lucky she heard the beeping that indicated a low gas gauge. There was a Sunoco three blocks over. The urge to flip on the siren and slice her way through the traffic was strong, but she waited. She was good at waiting. After twenty minutes, she made it to the gas station.
Muttering under her breath about the price of gasoline, she jumped out of the car. The rain was coming down so hard it hurt, like thousands of pinpricks across her skin. But she tilted her head up in response. Sometimes pain was the easiest reminder that she was still alive.
The woman pumping gas on the other side of the station was laughing as the rain soaked her thoroughly. Sara stared at her, unabashed – the chances being noticed from fifty feet away were slim. Holding out her hand to catch the drops, the woman called into her car. Whatever response she got made her throw back her head in laughter.
Sara leaned against the hood of the car, watching wistfully. This woman had it all – good looks, a sense of humor, and someone in the passenger seat. The gas pump clicked behind her, and she removed the nozzle, the woman doing the same with her own car. Sara glanced up just in time to watch the woman stumble on the curb and fall. Before she could react, the woman's passenger door opened, and a man rushed out to help her up. She grinned at him and pulled his head down to meet hers. They kissed in the rain, mindless of the cold, mindless of Sara's sharp intake of breath, mindless of how he'd claimed he'd never been interested in beauty before he'd met Sara. This woman had it all.
Jumping back into her car, Sara pulled out of the gas station, swiping at her cheeks angrily to rid them of raindrops and teardrops. She was driving, but to where? If she went back to her apartment, she'd wallow, and she was sick of wallowing. Truth be told, she was sick of all of it.
So she drove to the only place she could think to go, taking Grissom's empty parking spot bitterly. The lab was a different place in the daytime. There was the same frenetic energy, but without the bleariness of the night shift.
She turned to see a short black man with a lopsided grin heading her way. "Hey, Sam," she said with genuine warmth. "Giving out autographs?"
"Yeah, yeah," he said, shaking his head and chuckling. Sam Evans had become a reluctant media darling in past weeks after solving a high-profile serial rapist case. Reporters loved to draw a link between his love for his two-month-old daughter and the drive that he'd shown in finding justice for the victims. "You're soaked, Sara. I have a spare shirt in my locker, if you'd like to borrow it."
"Actually, I'd appreciate that," she confessed, and they fell into step together, making their way to the locker room. "So, I heard the FBI approached you."
"Yup," he replied simply.
"Any interest?" There'd been a time when she'd considered working for the Bureau herself. Surely they didn't have any entomologists on staff there. No bearded, bow-legged men who entered rooms with their fingers splayed out as if they were skimming invisible tabletops.
Sam shook his head. "Not really. Meg and I like it here. We've made a home in Vegas, and we're in a good school district for when Faith gets older."
They entered the locker room, holding the door for an exiting member of day shift. Sam pulled a collared shirt out of his locker, tossing it to Sara. She ducked into a shower stall to change.
"Ecklie must be loving all this publicity," she called.
"Sure is," he agreed. "He said if there was anything he could do to make my life easier, that I should let him know. And there actually is something that I want. But I don't think he could give it to me."
Sara came out of the stall, the men's shirt looking huge on her small frame. "What's that?"
"I want to work on the night shift," he said. "Meg's been itching to get back to the law office… She'd just made partner when she got pregnant. So if she worked days and I worked nights, we'd always have coverage for Faith. But there's no openings on the night shift, and I couldn't just leave days in the lurch anyway."
She maintained a neutral expression as the wheels turned in her head. "So tell me… what's Kingston like? As a supervisor, I mean?"
"Peter? He's awesome. Great guy. Knows everything about forensics, but doesn't make you feel stupid if you don't. Everyone on days gets along so well because of him."
She could go into work and leave before Grissom arrived. She could drive in morning traffic, having just woken up, like a normal person. She could hit a bar after work, pick up a curly-haired stranger and ask him to spend the night. She could… but could and would were worlds apart.
Turning to leave, she remembered the tinkle of the woman's laughter, the way that Grissom's hands had grasped her elbows to steady her while they kissed.
"Hey, Sam… you got a second?"
When she was twelve, she'd told her mother coldly that the only signs she believed in were the ones on the side of the road. Stop, Yield, Slippery When Wet.
Change is coming, pretty lady. Keep your eyes open.