Sara and Catherine returned to the CSI headquarters. Catherine went first, full of determination and the unstoppable Willows charm. Sara was less confident, but she wasn't going to back down. What Catherine had said, was true. She was no less a CSI because of what had happened nearly two decades before...and if anyone be they Ecklie, Grissom or anyone else, had something to say about it...well, Catherine was playing a very good guard dog at the moment and Sara was no longer a scared sixteen year old.
When she got to the break room, she was surprised to find it full. Nick, Warrick, Greg, Brass, Sofia and even Grissom were there, seemingly waiting for her. She gave a weak smile. "Uh...hi, guys." There was a moment of silence, then Greg spoke. "All right, I'm going to say it. It's what everyone is thinking, so I'm just going to put it out there." Sara braced for the worst. "Is your bellybutton still pierced?" From Greg's laugh, Sara supposed that her jaw drop must have been highly comical. Catherine came to the door. "Now, boys, behave." Nick snickered. "Someones jealous because they've been out-scandaled." Sara blinked. Grissom cocked an eyebrow. "I, for one, don't have any idea what they're talking about." Sara blinked and watched as all of the investigators shrugged. They were going to cover for her. She couldn't speak, she didn't have the words. Nick came around the table and threw an arm around her. "We love ya, Sar." She grinned at him.
"Well, if you're going to be so supportive, I guess you can't razz me about it?" Warrick laughed, "Oh no, girl, you're not going to hear the end of it for a long time...but no one else is going to hear anything about it." She smiled, "That's good, I think." Greg grinned, "Well, you can't win them all." Sara took a seat on the couch, "Well, I guess I can live with that..." Nick handed her a cup of coffee, "Now about that belly button ring?" Sara grinned, "I guess some things will remain a mystery."
Sofia Curtis sat across the room, she said nothing, but she inclined her coffee cup and smiled. That was enough to tell Sara that their staus-qou...whatever it was, for she wasn't exactly sure, had remained the same. Jim Brass gave her a smile and thumped her on the back. "Good work on the case tonight, Sara. Now go home, you look tired. Hell, we're all tired." A chorus of groans signaled that everyone agreed with the Capitan.
Despite being tired, Catherine Willows stayed up, to watch the dawn. Her daughter was safe. Catheine had said it before and would say it again, she was sure...she wasn't surprised by what people could do to each other anymore. She'd seen every kind of abuse, bloody murders, broken families... When it was a case, she could control it, lock it away, look at it with a degree of detachment. Sara wasn't a case. Sara was...well, she was Sara. She was the CSI who never said die. She chased criminals and followed evidence, chasing rabbits, running motives to ground. She was dedicated, she was talented, she was one of the best CSIs Catherine had ever worked with. She knew that what Sara had told her was only a small piece, only one of the many demons that haunted the woman. Catherine sighed, she'd once accused Sara of "going off the deep end" now she knew why. Sara chased justice and closure for not only the victims, but for herself as well. One day, Catherine hoped that Sara would tell her everything. One day, Sara would know, without a shadow of a doubt, that she was safe...and no one would ever hurt her like that again, not if Catherine had anything to say about it.
Sara Sidle lay in her bed. Tonight her deepest fears had been met, her nightmares had come true. Her dirty secret had been dragged into the unforgiving light of day...well metaphorically speaking. She couldn't say that she was happy about the turn of events...because frankly having her body displayed for the entire shift to see...still didn't thrill her all that much. The truth, though, was that she'd panicked a little too soon. She'd found a home here in Vegas...friends...family. She didn't need to be afraid that a secret would turn them away from her. It was strange, but delightfully true. Nick was right, they loved her. She smiled and rolled over. She was loved, she was safe...two things that were definitely worth waiting for.
Author's Note: Well, there you go: Not pretty, not fluffy. I actually wrote a Sara/Cath friendship fic. I don't know about the rest of you but I'm proud of myself for that if nothing else. As always, there are a few thanks to go out. To all the lovely, marvelous, stupendous people who sent me reviews, thank you so much! Big thanks go out to my always loyal beta reader Jenn, who after going through her own tests had to hear me yak about this and other CSI fics for what must of amounted to hours on end, brave woman. Last, but certainly not least, thanks to everyone for reading! Now if you'll excuse me, I have some more writing to get to...