Timeline: Mid season 5.
Spoilers: 5.09 - Mea Culpa
A/N: I just want to say ahead of time that I love Sofia. Okay?
Disclaimer: Not mine. I play with other people's toys.
Breakfast isn't the same anymore. Nothing is. Change is like that. It can take something bad and fix it or it can warp something good and turn it upside-down so you don't know what to make of it. It can flip your whole life around, so unexpectedly that it still has your mind reeling two weeks later. But maybe it's for the best. Now they're on different shifts, no one can complain about their relationship affecting their work. Not that they'd ever let it but that wouldn't stop Ecklie from using it against them. Anything to get at Grissom. Which, ironically, is what put them in this position in the first place, watching the strawberries turn her waffle to mush while she waits for Catharine to meet her, already thirteen minutes late.
Mornings used to mean deep conversations over black coffee or joking around over confectionary breakfasts with no nutritional value before they discreetly waved goodbye, mindful of the fact that the diner was a popular place for CSIs just before or after a shift, before meeting back at Sara's place after Catharine saw Lindsey off to school. Now, they meet for a quick breakfast, even quicker when one of them is late, which always ends way too soon even if Catharine doesn't get paged early and Sara doesn't get held late, parting with a quick kiss and several backward glances from both of them as some of the more uptight old couples glairing as if their looks alone secure the two women their own place in hell. It's not perfect, but it's getting there.
There isn't the secrecy they used to have, that danger of being caught that pushed them to do stupid things like stealing a kiss in the locker room or sitting closer then necessary during meetings, all the while knowing that if they were caught, there'd be hell to pay and that knowledge only adding to the thrill. When they got really hard cases, the kind that would hit too close to home, they would end up taking it out on each other instead of just falling apart into the other woman's arms, the stress coming out in other inappropriate ways just to keep up the fiction that they weren't anything more then semi-rivalling coworkers working long hours with short fuses. But ever since Catharine's promotion, even though she's not around as much, they're there for each other even more now. They can take their brakes together when they're shifts cross over, exchange little smiles across the lab and just hold one another if the job gets to be too much without worrying about on-lookers. Hodges will make snide comments and Ecklie'll go fuming into his office but no one else will say anything about it. Well, except Greg who has a field day teasing them because he knew about their relationship long before anyone else and is thrilled he's not the only one out of the closet anymore. Sofia's a little weird around them, but Sofia's a little weird in general so it's not really worth the effort of worrying about it. Besides, she's too occupied with her sudden 180' demotion to make trouble.
Nothing's them same anymore. Their brief romantic encounters at work are more sweet then exciting and her trace analysis don't even get acknowledged unless she threatens their own genetic mistake with bodily harm, but that's okay.
And when Catharine slides into the bench across from her and vents about her latest argument with Lindsey even as she steals a bite of her waffle, Sara knows without a doubt that she wouldn't trade what they have now for anything.