Part 2

My response is instantaneous; with my free arm, I grab her waist and pull her against me, standing on the tips of my toes to close those last couple of inches, to gain just enough height to capture those thin, angry lips with mine. Overbalanced by my sudden move, Sara falls into me, her free hand connecting with the lockers to make a hollow ringing in my ears. I cling to her for long moments, my tongue forcing past her teeth, as she moans into the kiss, or maybe it's me, I can't tell. I have her, right here with me, her body pressing mine into the lockers, until, suddenly, I don't.

And maybe I was wrong about her reading me and my desires, because her eyes, which looked at me with such clarity just moments before, are now muddied, clouded, confused. And she's backing away, disappearing out the door, and the only sound is my labored breath.

She didn't speak to me for over a week after that, and now she's only progressed to monosyllables in response to my questions. The guys no longer even try to figure it out; they just give Sara a wide, wide berth, which, given her narrowed eyes and furrowed brows, is a smart strategy. The only one exempt is, of course, Grissom, who doesn't even notice anything is going on around him. He just blunders through the days, or rather nights, at work, his eyes rarely focusing on anyone. It must be nice to be so clueless.

Green looks good on her, I notice, especially under that jacket, although I think I prefer the tight orange sweater she had on earlier. Damn it, ever since the kiss, or even before that, the sudden dumbstruck realization that I wanted her, I can't stop thinking about her or watching her through the glass of the lab or even cataloging her clothing choices. She doesn't notice, or she pretends not to notice, I can't tell which. Nick tells me about their case, about Sara going off the deep end about their Jane Doe, and she still is, apparently. She sitting in there at the computer, punching the advance key hard enough to either break the keyboard or her finger, barely looking up to pour more sugar in her coffee. How can anyone drink coffee with that much sugar?

Grissom goes in; god, how oblivious can one person be? He's actually quizzing her on her hobbies and telling her he occasionally rides roller coasters, as if that's going to help. At least she's not lapping it up like usual; maybe that overeager student act gets boring even for her. I can just barely make out her voice: "I don't like anything," she tells him, defiant, stubborn, angry.

The later, she tells him, "I wish I was like you, Grissom, I wish I didn't feel anything," now exhausted, defeated, broken.

Her voice is so close to breaking, the tears just barely choked back and once again, I'm running away from Grissom's office. I don't want to see her in his arms, even if it is to cry. But I've barely twirled my locker combination when she comes in and stumbles over the bench, tearing streaming down her face.

I have her in my arms in a second, wordlessly pulling her down to the bench with me. I doubt she knows who is holding her; in fact, I'm sure of it. She wouldn't want me to see her with her guard down this way. That doesn't stop me from taking advantage of the opportunity, tangling my hand in her hair, holding her close, rubbing her back. God, she smells good.

She cries for a long time and her sobs shake her entire body, her arms wrapped around my waist, and if it weren't for her obvious pain, I would be enjoying myself. As it is, I'm slowly bracing myself for the time she comes to her senses and realizes who is holding her.

But once again she surprises me; as she calms, she squeezes me in a gentle hug and whispers, "Thank you, Catherine," near my ear. Then she's gone.

I find myself echoing her sentiment, wishing I were like Grissom, with my feelings walled up behind some impenetrable barrier, because ever since that moment in the locker room, I'm finding myself with all kinds of feelings for Sara Sidle. It doesn't help that she's thawed toward me. She isn't friendly, exactly, and she never brings up either incident, but we're reached some kind of a truce.

Until that case at the carnival, that is. We aren't going to lunch, are we?" she calls to me after I just about ripped that carnie's head off. No, we're not going to fucking lunch, at least not until this creep is behind bars where he fucking belongs. And that crack about my approach, This is fun… compared to a more scientific approach, just because I play people or bend the rules sometimes when I have to. Fuck her.

But it wasn't him; it was the mother. That… monster held her own daughter's head under water until she drowned. I see the whole thing flash through my mind and I'm afraid I'm going to be sick. Sara must have sensed how I was feeling because she follows me out into the hallway and offers dinner, so sweet, so concerned. Since we skipped lunch, you want to get something to eat? Walk it off? It's clear, she's trying and I can't be with her right now; I have no defenses for her kindness and her compassion, so I turn her down, curtly, and end up with that big dumb architect Paul.

God, nothing excites me more than a pissed off Sara Sidle, although that skin-tight sleeveless body shirt she is wearing is certainly giving her anger a run for its money. The number of times I've wanted to rip that thing off of her is almost equal to the number of times I've wanted to strangle Grissom during this case. And then she goes out and plays the decoy and Grissom gets to be the big hero, and I never even got to see her in a skirt.

I should be fine. I mean, I shot a guy; ok, a suspect, actually, a murderer. And I killed him, but I should be fine. We're sitting at the diner, having breakfast, like nothing happened. I even make up with Gil, even though I'd like to throttle him for putting me in this position in the first place. And apparently I'm not the only one who's made up with Gil, because Sara is smiling and teasing him about the breakfast budget and his monk's breakfast, back to the same old non-flirting flirting they always do. Well, she's got him and I've got Paul, so it all works out. Never doubt, never look back, that's how I live my life, or at least that's what I told Grissom.

I also have an appointment with IAB after breakfast and I'm going to be cleared, so what's the big deal? Like I asserted during that case on the airplane, I will do whatever it takes for myself, my daughter, and, apparently, even Gil.

"You ok?"

Her quiet words startle me. Oh yeah, Sara headed to the bathroom as everyone else left. "Of course. Why wouldn't I be?" My tone is harsh, cold, the opposite of hers. Go away, it says, go home. Hell, go fuck Gil, I don't care.

"Well, you've been standing here, keys in hand, for about five minutes."

"I'm enjoying the sunlight," I snarl. Go the fuck away.

"Catherine, you shot someone."

"It was a good shoot. I'll be cleared, no problem."

"That's not the point."

I finally swing around to face her. "So what is the point? That you would feel guilty about shooting a scumbag and therefore I should? I guess we should all be like the mighty, compassionate Sara fucking Sidle. Should I bow down to the or pray to learn to be like you?" She doesn't answer my tirade, her eyes hidden behind her dark glasses. "WHAT?!?"

She just shakes her head, sadly, a little sigh escaping her lips, and she walks to her Tahoe and drives away without a backward glance.

They cleared me, of course. Gil had already given his statement and with that dick Culpepper on the TV proclaiming the 'Strip Strangler' was dead, they really didn't have much to investigate. Said I needed to go see the PD shrink for a few sessions. Procedure.

I don't remember the drive home, couldn't name a song on the radio to save my life, and almost trip on the stoop as her quiet 'hey' surprises the hell out of me. Sonofabitch. She didn't end up at Grissom's. "We should talk."

I'm struggling with the locks for some reason, my hands shaky and uncoordinated. I finally break the silence just as I get the last key turned. "You want some coffee?" I ask.

"Sounds good."

"Catherine!" We turn as Paul runs up, out of breath, his car door open and beeping behind him. "I saw on the news, are you ok?" He's pulling me in for a hug before I can push him away.

I reassure him as I watch Sara slowly fade back, moving away from the open door, away from me, and I curse him for his bad timing. "Shouldn't you be at work?"

He's taken aback by the question. "I thought you might need some company…"

"I do. That's why my friend Sara is here."

He's flustered, and stutters out a few words as I usher Sara into the house, deliberately leaving him out on the stoop as I shut the door. I hear his car reverse out of the driveway a moment later.

"Since when are we friends?" she asks, her lips turned up in a half-smile, irony, amusement, and nervousness coloring her tone in equal parts.

I look over at her, standing just inside my door, her black trousers creased but still hugging her hips and ass, her black leather jacket draped over her shoulders like she should be at a photo shoot.

"We're not," I answer her. After a pause, I ask, "Why are you here again?" My eyes roaming her body get even more blatant as I begin a slow advance across the foyer. "Talk, right?"

"Yeah… talk…." She stands her ground, but her eyes are wide as they watch me. "We should…"

I stop her, mid-ramble, my finger more caressing her lips then shushing her. "I'm not in the mood for talking." I replace my finger with my lips, sucking her lower lip so I can nibble at it for a few moments. I pull back and look into those near-black eyes with a smile. "You still want to keep me company?"

Her nod is the only incentive I need as I throw her against the door behind her and start to pull her clothes off. After all, with enemies like this, who need friends?

fin