Disclaimer: not mine

Author's Notes: This will be slightly AU as it kinda messes with timelines, locations and such. I think I tried to stick to canon as much as possible, though. Pre-1st Season. Um, Cath/Sara. Yeah. That's it.

Summary: She, on the other hand, had never met anyone who could read her. Who could know her before she knew herself. [Pre-1st Season; Cath/Sara

Redemption

by e-dog

Sara had a choice: lecture on bugs or a frat party?

Oh, the tough decisions of a college student.

She held the tiny flyer between forefinger and thumb, unable to decide if she really wanted to go listen to some guy talk about bugs.

Well, no. The decision was practically made. She already knew that she wanted to go. Being the nerd that she was, she was eager to learn and absorb new information twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty five days a year. In other words, she had no social life. At least, not a normal one.

Sara could party with the best of them, when she wanted to. She observed, she selected, she conquered. Even she blushes at the thought of conquering anyone, but that's what she did. She possessed a quiet volition, a subtle prowess. She could have anyone. Most anyone, if she tried.

She never quite considered herself to be beautiful, but as the saying goes, beauty is all in the eye of the beholder. She held some mystical quality all her own and she knew it. She was shy when necessary, bold when the situation beckoned for boldness. Tonight, however, she wasn't sure which Sara she should be. Shy Sara or Bold Sara?

Shy Sara would go to the lecture, cower in the back and take notes. Bold Sara would go to this party, hook up with some random guy or gal. Either way, she would end up alone in the end.

She held the tiny flyer between forefinger and thumb. The lecture would satisfy her curious mind, but this party would satisfy something else. She just didn't know what she needed more.

There was a chance she could meet someone new at this party. A chance to cure a bit of the loneliness residing in her heart. Yeah, she would like that. Even these random encounters never worked out quite as planned, though.

After her last fling, she just stuck her head in the books. To be frank, the whole thing was a disaster. What should've stayed as a one night thing turned into a full blown relationship. In the end, she hurt her partner. Another random hook up was to blame, only this time she got caught. She hurt someone who cared for her.

Sara never wanted to hurt anyone like that ever again. Even now, she's not too sure why she betrayed their trust. She's still not too sure why she perpetuates such negative behavior, why she desires to be put in these awkward situations. She doesn't know why she can't give her heart away completely.

So Sara just kept to herself for a while, studied for long hours. She had been so determined to be the best, to know everything that she needed to know, that she suddenly lost all interest in meeting new people. She didn't need them, or so she thought.

Her soul ached for human contact.

She wasn't completely without. She had friends. This circle of friends was mostly limited to study groups. To some, that might seem too bookish. For her, it was just a way to stay protected. To keep from getting too close. She could deal with the random fling, maybe even a week-long relationship, but beyond that she was useless to anyone. She didn't need to hurt anyone like that. Most importantly, she didn't want to be hurt.

Tonight, tonight, tonight. Go to this lecture or. . ..

She shivered. The bench on which she sat was cold to the touch. Winds picked up slightly, chilling the rest of her. It was almost as if the weather was an omen. Cold, bleak, dreary. Except, she didn't know what the fates were trying to tell her. Was going to the lecture the wrong thing to do? What if she went and the guy was utterly boring? If that was the case, she would just go to the party, have a good time.

Although, she highly doubted she would be bored. She read large, scientific texts for fun. Plus, she did a little research on the man who would be talking.

This guy knew his stuff.

Entomology was his area of expertise. His lecture was supposed to outline how one could determine the time of death for a human simply by studying the life cycle of the given insect. Seriously, who comes up with this stuff? It was by far one of the more interesting lecture topics this semester and she really didn't want to miss it.

It didn't hurt that he was uniquely handsome, in that geeky sort of way. Fluffy hair, five o'clock shadow and wire rimmed glasses, he was the epitome of nerd. Not too much unlike her. Minus the five o'clock shadow, of course.

She held the tiny flyer between forefinger and thumb.

She was going to go. She would go and seriously consider her Plan B. She would leave and go to this party only if Dr. Gil Grissom bored her to death.

She had a good feeling she would be skipping this party.

----------------------------

The lecture hall was relatively empty. Okay, the lecture hall was really empty.

There was this one guy sitting in the front row. He was always at these events, a likely suspect. They had spoken to one another a few times, once they realized how often they attended the same lectures. They never exchanged names. They didn't always say hello. It was just, sometimes, it was nice to know she wasn't the only one who did this. She wasn't the only nerd who loved this stuff.

She took a seat near the back. She always did that. Had to survey the set-up. Was there a projector? Would he be reading from notecards or would he have a pointer and charts? Or would he just sit in a chair in the middle of the stage and shoot the breeze? She didn't know, but she always liked to sit back and observe from afar.

The podium was standing up there by its lonesome. No table with a projector, no screen pulled down on which to cast relevant images. No chair, no chalkboard. Nothing. She frowned. She at least liked some kind of visual aid with these things.

Oh, but who was that?

Ridiculously high heels clomped across the stage hurriedly. The woman belonging to those heels was carrying several items. Folders, a few rolled up sheets of paper, a tote or bag of some kind. Sara checked her flyer again, just to make sure she was in the right room.

Yes, yes she was. She was most certain, however, that Gil Grissom was not a five foot something redhead with stiletto heels. Sara returned her eyes to the stage and watched the redhead at work. All the items were either placed on the podium or inside it. Whoever this person was, Sara could only assume she was the assistant to Dr. Grissom. Judging by the stiff movements, a very irritated assistant to Dr. Grissom.

It was at that moment, the woman looked up from the stage and out into the crowd. Sara's mouth opened slightly. The woman was frowning, possibly taking note of how few were in the audience. Even with the frown, it was easy to see how beautiful she was. A white sleeveless blouse, khaki dress pants and those heels all made for one classy image. A breathtaking image.

Sara unconsciously ran a hand through her curly, brown locks. Her hair had always been untamed, unruly. She just hadn't figured out the secret to maintaining a more chic look. Whoever this woman was, surveying the tiny crowd with steely eyes, she knew how to do it all. Hair, make-up, posture, everything.

Sara sunk lower in her chair, never taking her eyes off the redhead. She was most certainly glad she decided to attend this thing now. Oh, so very glad. In that moment, Sara knew what she wanted. She observed, she selected, she conquered.

Sara's fantasy's were soon dashed. The high heels stalked off the stage just as quickly as they arrived. Sara wondered if she would see her again.

----------------------------

Gil Grissom would be twenty minutes late getting started. By then, the crowd had risen to a whopping 15 avid bug fans. Certainly more than Sara had thought would attend at such an hour on a Friday night.

Abnormal to her routine, Sara stayed in the back. Usually, she moved up to at least the center rows, but found her original seat to be suitable. Well, more than suitable, actually. Dr. Grissom's assistant or whoever she was, stalked out of the side door (left of the stage), made her way up the aisle and searched for a seat. That seat happened to be in Sara's row, three chairs to Sara's left.

Dr. Grissom's lecture was interesting, but so was the color of the fingernails tapping that armrest lightly. A pale red, some white pattern on the thumb. The light rapping would have annoyed Sara had it been anyone else. Except this mystery woman had a magnetic force about her. Sara couldn't pinpoint why her mind was consumed with her. Beauty, maybe, but was it all purely physical attraction?

What else could it be? Sara didn't know her, couldn't begin to guess at her aspirations or dreams. It had to be the looks, the strong set jaw line, the takes-no-crap attitude emanating off the redhead in waves. Sara's mind was consumed with her because she was downright gorgeous. The others attending this lecture had to be dead. Not one turned their heads when the redhead looked for a seat. Not one. She was gorgeous.

Sara could see the muscle tone in the arms and she dare not visualize those long legs. An athlete maybe? Gym instructor or trainer? Although, she couldn't imagine why anyone involved in sports would be assisting a lecturer, a doctor of entomology. She chanced a glance at the feet. Open toed stiletto heels gave her a nice view. Toenails were well cared for and the skin was fair, the obvious work of a pedicure or two.

When Sara's eyes traveled back up, she froze when she caught steely blue looking back at her. Busted.

Sara blushed fiercely, turning away. She mentally cursed herself for her conspicuous observations. All she wanted was to know the woman, not to appear like a pervert! She shut her eyes and nearly smiled to herself. How could she be so stupid? This wasn't exactly how she planned on getting the woman's attention.

Oh, but boy, did she have it. Sara could feel a presence in the seat next to her now. Great. She was going to be called out. The beautiful redhead was going to call her on all that obvious gawking. Perfect.

A voice near her ear spoke softly. It wasn't really a voice she would've guessed of the woman. Slightly raspy, like that of the occasional smoker.

"You look bored. Trust me, I don't blame you."

Sara opened her eyes, turning her head just enough to see those steely blues again. She swallowed hard before whispering back, "I'm not bored."

Sara could see lips painted a shiny shade of pink turning up into a smile. Sara nearly cringed. Of all the things to say. I'm not bored? Good grief. Of course she wasn't bored! Sara wasn't sure if she could blush more than she already was, but her neck and cheeks were hotter than the Sahara desert. She had to fix this.

"I, uh, I mean. I saw you on the stage. At first I thought I had the wrong room. Are you Dr. Grissom's assistant?"

The question made the redhead snort. She did keep her amusement relatively discreet, so as not to disturb the others actually listening. Returning her gaze to Sara, she answered, "No. I might hang myself before I subject myself to that kind of job. It's not even a job. It's a death sentence."

Sara watched as the redhead looked back toward the stage, then rolled her eyes. "Hey, you smoke? Our lecturer just glared at me. I think he's hinting that I'm too loud."

Sara had only ever smoked once or twice in her life. Both times were okay, but nothing to call home about. Still, she found herself gathering up her bookbag and following Dr. Grissom's Non-Assistant outside for a smoke break.

"Finally, some fresh air!" she exclaimed. Sara watched on in wonder as the redhead spun around once, then gracefully leaned up against the stonewall circling the building. Sara couldn't fight the small smile because she had figured it out. She knew what this woman did for a living. She should've known.

The redhead produced a cigarette seemingly from nowhere and was puffing on it in no time. She glanced Sara's way and asked, "So, you got a name?"

"Sara," was the meek reply.

The steely eyes twinkled back. "Catherine."

Sara kept her distance, not sure what to make of this invitation out here. She couldn't fathom why someone like Catherine would ask her to join her for a smoke. Not that Sara didn't want to be out here. In fact, she was mad she didn't ask first. It was just, Catherine could clearly have anyone. She wasn't the kind of woman that needed to watch and wait and pick the right one. No, she could just walk up to anyone and say, "You."

That's all it would take. Catherine could've sat next to anyone in that lecture hall, but she choose Sara's row. Why? Was Sara simply the most available person in the room? Did she look like an easy target? Naive?

"You don't really smoke, do you?" Catherine asked. She patted a space on the wall next to her. Another invite. An invite to sit next to her.

Sara paused a moment, then took the offered seat. Answering the question, she said, "Actually, no, I don't smoke. I don't know why I'm out here."

"It's okay. You can say the lecture was boring. I won't tell him," Catherine joked, winking at Sara. For whatever reason, this elicited a laugh from Sara. Catherine patted Sara on the arm and said confidently, "I knew it! You were bored."

Sara shook her head. "Really, I wasn't bored. I skipped out on a party to be here. I wanted to be here."

Catherine rose an eyebrow to that. "You did what? Honey, you should've went to the party. Gil's bug lectures can be bought on tape, you know. No one buys them, but you know what? It would make his lifetime if you walked up to him after this shindig is all over and asked to buy one. Really, Gil would probably worship the ground you walk on."

Sara found an interesting line in the cracked sidewalk to study, anything to keep herself from unabashedly staring at Catherine for too long, but she was listening. She was listening to every word. Catherine spoke of Dr. Grissom like he was a bumbling fool, but her tone was too soft and too kind to indicate she disrespected him. Catherine was fond of Dr. Grissom.

"You're best friends, aren't you?" Sara asked. "You and Dr. Grissom?"

Catherine looked at Sara, then nodded, "Yeah, we're pretty good friends. I mean, he's the reason I have the job I have now. Well, I don't have it yet, but you get what I mean. He's helping me turn my life around." She took a long drag on her cigarette before adding sardonically, "All I have to do is indulge his love for bugs and help him out with these stupid lectures on occasion. I keep telling myself it's a small price to pay. . ."

Sara pursed her lips some, finding Catherine's candor refreshing. Maybe she could learn a thing or two from this beautiful stranger.

"I was trying to figure you out," Sara finally admitted.

Catherine cast her eyes on Sara once more. "You were what?"

Sara could feel herself blushing again and she thanked her lucky stars that night had fallen. The dull, yellow streetlights were helping to conceal her embarrassment. "I couldn't figure out why you were there. I was trying to guess what you did for a living."

"So, just observing then? It wasn't a come on?" Catherine asked. There was a hint of humor in her voice, but that didn't keep Sara from stammering out her shame.

"No! I mean, no, no, no. I was just. . .I wasn't trying to. . ."

"Sara, it's okay. I was joking," Catherine chuckled. She then cupped Sara's chin and turned the young woman's face toward her. Catherine shook her head and scoffed, "God, you're about as red as a tomato. Stop blushing for Pete's sake. Stop it."

"Trust me, I'm trying." Sara laughed lightly herself, feeling Catherine's hand fall away from her chin. Sara tucked her curly hair behind her ears and said bashfully, "I'm just embarrassed."

Catherine dropped her cigarette and stomped it out. "Why?"

"Well, you're beautiful," Sara blurted out without thinking. She cringed a little, then added, "What I mean is. . . I don't know why I said that."

"I think you know exactly why you said that," Catherine commented. Her voice was low, it was peculiar. It was a voice that sent tingles down Sara's spine. It was enough to make her realize how utterly silly she was to think she was in the same league as Catherine. This was not meant to be. She could've found someone to cure her loneliness at the party. This was not meant to be.

Sara stood suddenly. It was time to end this miserable encounter, this fruitless endeavor. "I should head home. I've already missed half of the lecture and I have a test tomorrow anyway. . ."

"Sara, wait a minute. Hold on," Catherine stood with her. Sara was surprised to see a smile on Catherine's lips. Surprised to still see that twinkle in her eyes. "You know, I like observing too. People especially. You don't think I was watching you watching me?"

Sara didn't know what to say. People of any consequence didn't look her way, they never did. Why would someone like Catherine observe her? Well, aside from the fact that she knew she was being watched.

"You're shy, or at least, that's what you want people to think," Catherine begins. "Your body language, however, negates all of that. You have a determined focus, sharp eyes, stern gaze. You observe with purpose, you watch to learn. You were holding a pencil, as if anything you noticed about me might need to be documented. Just in case you forgot."

Sara chuckled nervously. "I was? I mean, I was holding a pencil?"

"Yeah, you were," Catherine said, grinning. She stepped back, as if she was going to just walk away, but she looked at Sara again. "So, what did you learn about me?"

Sara's eyes widened.

"Hey, I said stop blushing."

This time, Sara smiled despite herself.

"I thought at first you were a yoga instructor or something," Sara began, trying to will her voice to be a tiny bit stronger. She cleared her throat, feeling Catherine's eyes on her. She rubbed the back of her neck, then continued on, "Your arms, I mean, you look like you work out or something. It's just, I couldn't see someone like that working for Dr. Grissom."

"Could be a side job," Catherine pointed out.

"Yeah, it could be. It was something else, though. I couldn't really figure it out, I just knew that whatever your profession, it showcased your power. A secretarial job wouldn't do that.," Sara said, now her voice wistful, almost longing. "You exude a strength unlike any I've ever known."

Catherine now looked bemused. "You sensed that about me? In that short amount of time?"

"It was in the way you walked, the way you looked down at Dr. Grissom even though he's taller than you," Sara pointed out. "It didn't take me long to see how strong you are." Then Sara added coyly, "At least, that's what you want people to think."

Sara thought for a moment that she overstepped with that last remark, but she saw Catherine relax.

"I'm impressed," Catherine nodded, folding her arms. "You should consider law enforcement. A few years down the road, we could use someone as observant as you."

Sara frowned, clearly disappointed. Catherine squinted her eyes curiously before asking, "What?"

"You work for the police," Sara said quietly. "I was going to guess you were a dancer, did a secretary thing on the side."

Catherine smiled widely, "I was a dancer."

Sara glanced back up, pleased with herself for guessing correctly. She was good at reading people.

Sara adjusted her bookbag on her shoulders, just to be doing something. There was this feeling inside her, this equally joyous and frightening thing just bubbling in her stomach. Maybe this wasn't as formidable as she thought. Catherine seemed interested, right? Was Sara reading her body language wrong?

When she caught Catherine's eyes again, she spoke, "You said, I want people to think I'm shy."

"Yeah, I did," Catherine nodded. Sara could see that Catherine's eyes were not focused now, they were catlike almost. Dazed. Catherine was more than a dancer. She was other things. She was lonely. Catherine definitely invited her out here for more than a smoke. Catherine was lonely. She was also an addict.

Sara found herself gravitating toward Catherine as she observed, "You need a fix."

"Drugs are the last thing I need," Catherine promised. Sara felt a hand slide up her arm. It felt nice, but also strangely right. Still, if Sara was correct about Catherine, this whole thing was supposed to be wrong. Really wrong. Sara couldn't get involved with a woman like Catherine. Catherine was out of her league.

"How do I know you're not high right now?" Sara asked quietly, reluctantly shrugging away from Catherine's touch.

Catherine's expression turned thoughtful. "You've been hurt before, that's why you pretend to be shy. Even if you never see me again, you're afraid. You're afraid I'll hurt you."

Sara didn't say anything.

Catherine then took on this enlightened expression. "No, that's not it. You're afraid you'll hurt me."

Sara cast her eyes down, feeling exposed. She had always been the one to read other people. She, on the other hand, had never met anyone who could read her. Who could know her before she knew herself. Sara just shrugged, "I came to this lecture to avoid something like this."

"Sara? Look at me," Catherine requested softly. When Sara looked up, Catherine said, "It wasn't my intent to bring you out here to. . .I mean, it sorta was."

"It's okay. I know. Maybe I would've said yes," Sara smiled sadly. She grabbed Catherine's hand, then held it up. The ring glistened in the light of the streetlight. "You're married."

"He's a jerk," Catherine replied, her eyes lighting up for a moment. She was angry for just a moment, then her eyes softened again. She repeated, "Really, he's a jerk."

Sara could still see the hurt hidden behind those steely eyes. This man was a jerk. He was an idiot for hurting his wife like this. Catherine was beautiful, no doubt, but Sara could already tell she was more than the glamour. Hell, she was following Dr. Grissom across the country to assist with bug lectures. If that didn't scream 'help', she wasn't sure what would. Catherine wanted to get away from wherever she came from. She used Dr. Grissom to escape her home, to escape her husband for at least one night.

Sara wanted to make the hurt go away.

"You think Dr. Grissom will miss you for an hour or two?" Sara asked curiously, nodding toward the lecture hall.

Catherine grinned. "Was that a proposition?"

Sara pursed her lips again, before replying, "Think of it more as an invitation to escape for a night."

For the first time all night, Catherine seemed unsure. She checked her watch, then avoided eye contact with Sara for a few seconds more. When their eyes connected again, Catherine said, "No, I don't think he'll miss me. In fact, I'm sure he'll expect it. We have a hotel room not far from here. He'll wait up for me."

Sara smiled. "He'll wait up for you, huh? Sounds like a nice guy."

Catherine nodded in agreement. "One of the nicest I've ever met. The most patient too."

"Really, though. You won't get in trouble for leaving him?"

Catherine chuckled. "Like I said. He'll expect it. He knows I hate listening to him talk about bugs."

"Okay then. My room isn't far from here," Sara said, motioning for Catherine to follow.

"You really are propositioning me!" Catherine joked.

----------------------------

Her room still smelled of scented candles. It really was against policy to burn them, but they helped her to relax on the really stressful days.. If she was written up once or twice for lighting them, it would be worth it. Sara lit two candles on the windowsill, before turning around and apologizing, "I'm sorry. These rooms aren't exactly made to house more than one person."

"Don't worry about it," Catherine shook her head, already making herself comfortable on Sara's bed, her heels haphazardly kicked to the floor. Sara watched as Catherine hugged a pillow to her chest and for just a tiny fraction of a moment, Catherine looked like a little girl lost. All too quickly, Catherine was back to being Catherine though.

"So, I'm guessing you're too noble to have brought a married woman you've just met up here for sex. What did you want to show me?"

Sara was sure she would never get used to Catherine's curtness. Well, not that she would ever see Catherine ever again after this night, but still. If she had known Catherine before all this, before now, she would never have gotten used to it.

So Sara just shook her head, breathing in deeply before opening a drawer and digging inside. "Well, you're right. I wouldn't. . .I guess I couldn't do that. I did bring you up here for something else."

"Ah, you wanted to make out then?" Catherine teased, unable to keep herself from laughing.

"Nooooo," Sara said, now grinning. "Just be patient. I have to find it."

A few seconds later, it was found. Sara made Catherine move over, sitting herself on the bed and holding a small jewelry box. She opened it and revealed a fragile, gold necklace. There was a charm shaped like a star dangling from the chain. Sara lifted it out, then held it up. Catherine hesitated.

"Go ahead. Take it," Sara said.

"Take it?" Catherine repeated.

"There's a story," Sara explained, dropping the necklace in Catherine's open palm. "Ready?"

"Sure," Catherine nodded, studying the little charm in her hand.

"My mother gave that to me. It was a gift," Sara began. "I loved it because I got it from her. I knew it meant she loved me. Anyway, years later she decided one night that she wanted it back. She took it from me."

Catherine now looked perplexed. "Why would she do that?"

Sara paused, not sure how much she wanted to reveal about her frightful past. In the end, she decided to gloss over the details. "Let's just say she had changed. She was different. What she didn't know was that I had changed too. I was growing up and I was angry. I had never been more angry with her in my entire life. So I took it back."

"You took it back?" Catherine said.

Sara nodded, a small smile of satisfaction on her face. "Yeah, I took it back. I fought for it. She got a black eye out of it, me a broken arm."

"Sara. . ."

"Look. I know what you're thinking. Don't think it. The point I'm trying to make here is that, this jerk? Your husband? He took something from you. Take it back."

Catherine glanced down at the piece of jewelry again, allowing herself a laugh. "Sara, you're talking about redemption and people like me don't deserve second chances. You can't save me."

Sara did want to save her. She wanted to make the hurt go away.

"What's Dr. Grissom then?" Sara asked wittingly. "He's not trying to save you?"

Catherine seemed caught off guard by that question. She shrugged, "He's a means to an end, nothing more."

Sara smiled, "I have a feeling he's more than that."

Catherine looked irritated for a moment, but only for a moment. She sighed. "You're right. Gil is more than that. He really cares about me."

Sara thought Catherine might let a tear get away, but somehow she didn't see Catherine as someone who cried a lot. She wouldn't cry now. Sara could see the engrossed expression on Catherine's face and wondered aloud, "What are you thinking, Catherine?"

Catherine looked at her, "That I'm 29 years old. I spent most of my youth partying, the other parts I don't remember and only just recently did I decide that maybe life had something more to offer. That's why I'm here with Gil. It's why I'm trying to start over."

Sara quirked an eyebrow. "Recently?"

Catherine smiled and it was the most sincere, genuine smile Sara had ever seen. "I have a little girl now."

Sara immediately thought the worst. "He doesn't have her. . .?"

"Oh hell no," Catherine shook her head. "No. She's with my mother. Eddie...he's around. I think he's trying to wrap his head around the whole being a dad thing."

"He shouldn't have to think about it," Sara said plainly. She closed Catherine's hand over the necklace. She said with quiet force, "Take it back, Catherine. Take back whatever he took from you."

Catherine grasped the necklace tightly. "How old are you, Sara?"

Sara couldn't help the sheepish smile as she answered, "Uh, I'm 22."

"God, advice from a 22-year-old," Catherine scoffed lightly, rubbing her eyes with her free hand. "Where did I go wrong in life?" Then Catherine glanced up, adding quickly, "Don't answer that. That was completely rhetorical."

"I wasn't going to say anything. I barely know you," Sara said, holding up her hands in defense.

"Yeah, you barely know me," Catherine repeated softly. "That's usually the point of one night stands, isn't it? You meet someone random, think they're attractive. They're into you too and suddenly you're in a tangle of sweat and bed sheets. The perfect escape. At the end of it all, you're usually hard-pressed to remember their name."

Catherine did this all the time, Sara could tell. Sex, drugs, whatever she could use to temporarily forget about this guy, Eddie. Sara could feel her insides turning with rage. She said simply, "He's hurt you bad."

"Bad enough that I seek solace in the first available warm body I meet, yeah," Catherine admitted, her voice thick with shame. "I'm sorry, Sara."

Sara reached up a hand to caress Catherine's cheek. "Hey, I've been there. Don't apologize to me."

Catherine leaned into the touch. "You better be careful, touching me like this. I'm about to break all my rules on one night stands."

Sara couldn't fight the grin as she let her hand fall away. "Rules?"

"Never let them know me. Never show that I'm weak, that I'm running from my problems," Catherine listed. "Never give them something that they can use against me later. If any of that happens, then I shouldn't muddy up matters more by sleeping with them too."

Sara smiled shyly. "Catherine, I'm flattered but . . ."

"I'm married. You didn't invite me up here for that, I know," Catherine finished Sara's sentence, her eyes twinkling the way they did when Sara first gazed into them.

And Sara was gazing into them. Right at that very moment. They sat in comfortable silence for what felt like ages, studying and learning more about one another. Catherine was showing the least patience, however, inching closer to Sara. It was quite obvious what she wanted ever since Sara brought her up here. Sara knew it, she just couldn't take advantage.

Sara spoke softly, "I already said I couldn't."

"You forget. I can read people," Catherine replied, her voice softer, yet gruff.

Sara tilted her head ever so slightly. Her lips parted, almost ready to give in, but she backed away at the last second. Catherine's grunt was a clear sign of frustration. Sara had to grin. "You can read me? Tell me. What do you see?"

"I see someone who's just as lonely as me," Catherine answered confidently. Sara's grin faded. Catherine leaned back in, whispering against Sara's lips. "I see someone who's wanted the same thing as me, from the time I spotted you out in the crowd. From the moment you saw me and couldn't stop looking at me."

Now that Sara didn't expect. Catherine had noticed her before she had noticed Catherine. Catherine deliberately choose her row in the lecture hall. She purposely invited Sara outside for a smoke. She must've known all along that Sara had been smitten within the first few seconds. Catherine could read people. She could do that very well.

Sara smiled. "I was right. You do like to showcase your power."

"I may not be a dancer anymore, but that doesn't mean I've forgotten how to reel them in," Catherine quipped. Before Sara could speak again and hold her off any longer, Catherine crushed her lips to Sara's. Sara shut her eyes tightly, parted her lips and allowed Catherine to take control. Of all the random flings she had participated, this kiss had been the most satisfying, the most pure. Filled with the most passion.

When Catherine pulled back, her grin was smug and for good reason. Sara was absolutely breathless. Catherine was still grasping the necklace in a closed fist. It was now Sara thought it best to put it in a safe place. No sense in accidently breaking it, of course. Sara took the piece of jewelry back to return to its box, then did all she could to remain steadfast in her ways. "Catherine. You're married. . ."

Then Catherine grinned widely, "I told you. My mother is watching my little girl."

Suddenly, everything clicked in Sara's mind. For all the skills she had in reading people, she surely had some kinks to work out when it came to listening.

"You and Eddie are getting a divorce."

"Yeah," Catherine said, before capturing Sara's lips again. You and Eddie are getting a divorce. Seven magic words and it was enough to finally allow Sara to give in to temptation. Sara soon found herself devouring every inch of exposed skin she could find, Catherine pinned beneath her. In one swift move, Sara was no longer in control. Catherine was now straddling Sara's hips. She placed another quick kiss on Sara's mouth, then confirmed, "As of right now, we're getting a divorce."

"Right now?"

"Yep. Before coming out here, Eddie and I got into it. I told him it was over, right? He said we would talk about it when I got back. Well, I don't want to talk anymore. I couldn't leave his own daughter with him for one lousy weekend. If he can't handle babysitting, he can't handle life."

Sara smiled widely, "A divorce."

"Yeah," Catherine said again. "I'll get a lawyer as soon as I get back."

"Good," Sara said, breathing in deep the scent that was Catherine. Eagerly seeking out her mouth again, Sara could only feel great things. Amazing, wonderful feelings of hope and promise. She had never wanted so badly for another person to be happy. She had only known Catherine for a few short hours and she wanted Catherine to be happy. Sara would do what she could to make sure that happened.

Those hands under Sara's shirt felt pretty good too, she might add.

Sara's hands found their way into the red locks. She would remember this mixture of perfume, cigarettes and shampoo for as long as humanly possible. She would remember the shimmer in Catherine's hair, the way it felt when their lips met. She would remember this. Unlike any of her other partners, she wanted to remember this. When their lips parted again, she looked Catherine in the eye and said, "Promise you'll take back what he took from you."

Catherine's eyes held more passion than Sara had experienced in her whole life. The beautiful redhead she had only met hours before, whom she had learned so much about in such a short period of time, smiled softly and said, "I'll do that and more. I'll remember the person who told me to fight for what's mine."

The End