Unexpected

She had no idea how or even when it happened. All she knew was that it did. She, Sara Sidle, Crime Scene Investigator, was attracted to Catherine Willows. To say it was unexpected would be an understatement. This was Catherine. When they had first met, they hadn't gotten along at all. As time went by, things had slowly gotten better between them, but they still weren't exactly best friends.

CSIs see the best, and unfortunately, more often the worst, things people are capable of. Even though they know they have to remain detached towards the victims in cases, they can't truthfully say it doesn't affect them. It's… intense, and witnessing that kind of thing tends to evoke either powerful emotions or a dull numbness in a person. For Sara it was a mix of the two. When she had first started out, she'd had difficulty handling her emotions, and too often she had gotten attached to the victim. She knew it was probably because of her family situation from all those years ago, but as a workaholic she would not tolerate failure on her part, and kept pushing herself. It had gotten so bad, Grissom had warned her she was in danger of burning out. Now more experienced, she had gotten better at distancing herself from the case, being impartial. Or at the very least, she could contain her feelings and keep them private.

This should have been the same. She should be able to keep this to herself until it went away. Yes, she knew she had a crush. Everything Catherine did was beautiful. Her casual, graceful movements, and the way when she spoke her voice had that amazing, impossible to describe quality that made Sara want to soak in every word.

But that wasn't love, it was lust, right? There was no way Sara Sidle had fallen head over heels in love with Catherine Willows. It wasn't just the fact that she was another woman, although that had caught Sara by surprise. But she was open-minded, and after some serious soul searching Sara realized that wasn't what would keep the relationship from working. She was on the whole a very rational person, and she knew that the chances were extremely slim that Catherine would return her feelings. Even if she did, their personalities just were not compatible. Besides, workplace relationships never worked out. She was better off trying to find a new guy, or even woman, to direct her affections towards. So, Sara had been able to stop herself from falling in love with Catherine.

Except that she hadn't. No, she tested that out and found that she really hadn't gotten rid of what she felt. Maybe it's just work, she had thought. Maybe I'm so stressed here that my thoughts are all out of whack. So she had approached Catherine one day in what she had intended to be a casual manner. In actuality, it was more like an incredibly awkward attempt to initiate a conversation. She met up with her just as they were both leaving work.

"Hey," accosted Sara.

"Oh, hi," replied Catherine, her expression showing she was rather surprised. Sara felt rather self-conscious; suddenly realizing she'd never really talked to Catherine like this before, unless she had something important to say. And right now, she truly had no idea what she planned to say.

"Do you want to, like, go get some coffee, or breakfast, or anything?" she blurted. Apprehending what she'd just said, she silently reprimanded herself. She contemplated adding "As friends," but then realized that would only make the alternative more obvious.

Catherine seemed caught off guard, and took a while to answer. At last, she said, "Sure. Yeah, you know, that would be interesting." Interesting? Is that good or bad? wondered Sara. "There's actually a new place around here that I've been meaning to check out. Does that work with you?"

"Yeah. Yeah, that's great!"

"So, what time?"

Sara hadn't thought of that. "How about now? If that works for you, that is."

"Oh, sorry, I have to pick Lindsay up from her friend's house now. But how about tomorrow?"

"Okay. Yeah, that sounds good. See you then." She turned away and packed up as quickly as possible before exiting the building.

Sitting in her car, keys in the ignition but not turned, Sara said to herself, " Wow, when did I get to be so awkward?" Catching a glimpse of herself in the rearview mirror, she noticed her face really was as red as she had feared. She started the car and drove off.

The next day had been pleasant enough. The new place was good, as far as Sara could tell. She wasn't really paying attention, being too distracted by Catherine. She had to remind herself several times to stop gawking. Catherine, beautiful as ever, had worn a tight black shirt and a purple skirt that showed off her long legs.

They'd talked about all kinds of things; movies, music, places they had been and things they had seen. It seemed they talked about almost everything; except work. Catherine didn't mention it once, and Sara was grateful for that. She knew it was true she obsessed over cases every chance she got, and it was nice to have a break from that and just take it easy for once. After a few minutes of talking with Catherine, her awkwardness seemed to alleviate and she ended up having a great time.

In conclusion, the results to her experiment were a bit mixed. She now knew her attraction to Catherine wasn't just a work-stress thing. But she also found out that despite popular belief, the two of them could actually be friends.

After that, they began spending more and more time together outside of work. A lot of people noticed their change in attitude towards one another.

"They seem to be getting along better," Grissom commented to Greg when the two of them were alone.

"Tell me about it. There hasn't been a decent catfight in weeks. Alas, I've had to go elsewhere for entertainment," joked Greg, striking a mock-tragic pose. Grissom shot him a get-back-to-work look. "Well, I'll just… get… back to work, then," said Greg.

"Are you free later today, Sara?" asked Catherine one morning at work, after Sara returned from getting them both coffee.

In truth, Sara had been planning to work overtime, but she changed her mind immediately. "Yeah, why?" she asked.

"Well, I was wondering if you wanted to go out again," said Catherine. Go out? wondered Sara. Oh, she means as friends. Ack, why can't I get her out of my head?

"Sure, that would be great! Where do you want to go?"

"Well, since you're a vegetarian, I thought we could go to this really good vegetarian place my friend told me about. What time should I pick you up?"

"Six is good. If… that… works for you."

"It does. See you then! I am off to calibrate a microscope."

"Sounds like quite a partay."

"Oh, it's not nearly as exciting as it sounds."

Later that day, Sara was looking through her outfits for something to wear. She decided on a black dress, then changed her mind in favor of dress pants and a blazer, then changed it again to a black skirt and blue shirt. She finally decided on the first dress and a blue scarf. This is ridiculous, why am I so nervous? We're just friends!

The chime of the doorbell suddenly rang out through the house, and she ran to answer it. Catherine was there, wearing a red dress. "Hi!" said Sara.

"It's nice to see you again," said Catherine.

"You too. These two hours since I've seen you have been torture," she joked.

Catherine laughed. "For you too, huh?"

When they arrived at the restaurant, Sara was surprised to see how formal it was. There were crystal chandeliers on the ceiling, and several different sized forks were set out neatly atop the pure white tablecloth. "Is it wrong that I don't know what we need seven different forks for?" she asked.

"I don't know what half of these are for either," said Catherine.

"I thought you came to places like this all the time!" said Sara, surprised.

"No, not really," answered Catherine. "I have to take care on Lindsay, so I don't actually get out that much. Besides, it would look strange for me to go to a place like this by myself."

"So you really don't know what all the forks are for?"

"Okay, I do," admitted Catherine, laughing a bit. "I was just trying to help you calm down, you looked so surprised."

Sara had actually been more surprised by the fact that most people here were couples than she was by the number of forks, but of course she didn't say so.

"You know, I'm really glad you could come," said Catherine sincerely.

"Thanks, I'm glad too. I really like you-" Sara cut off suddenly, realizing what she had just said. Quick! Change it to something else. Change it to "I really like your hair" or something!

But Sara didn't get a chance to add anything to her sentence because at that moment, Catherine kissed her on the mouth. Sara couldn't believe what was happening, but she quickly caught on and kissed Catherine back passionately. Her heart leapt with joy and she ran her fingers through the other woman's soft hair. The kiss was deep and felt amazing, and Sara felt sure she would wake up at any moment and realize it was just a dream she had already had so many times before. But this was the real thing, and the moment was more incredible than anything her imagination had ever come up with.

When at last they broke apart, out of breath, Sara tried to come up with something to say. "Wow, that was… wow."

"Yeah."

"That was amazing. That was wonderful. That was… unexpected."

"I'll agree with you on those first two, but I wouldn't call it unexpected," said Catherine, much to Sara's surprise. "You were the one who asked me out first."

Sara didn't know what to say. Her first instinct was to deny it, but thinking back she realized what Catherine said was true. She had asked her out, even if it had been an accident. But it was the greatest accident she could have ever possibly made, and she definitely did not regret it. "I guess I was," she said, and she felt proud that she had been able to ask Catherine Willows out on a date.

"You know," said Catherine, "I'm really glad you didn't work overtime today."

"Same here," replied Sara, just before she leaned in to kiss Catherine again.