Flirt, Sidle, Flirt Chapter 4 06/17/2013

A/N: Be impressed! Be very impressed! I have updated…AGAIN! I know. I am quite something. And this update is even longer! Ha! Go ahead. Say you love me!

But more than love and respect, what I really like is praise. Aka reviews…

Also, big thanks again to sidlelove and also a shout out to leigh03 who's stellar message gave me a burst of speed to get this update finished!

And without further ado…

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Sara was, as they say, a mess. It seemed like every area of her life was collapsing- social, personal, professional, you name it, and all because she was an idiot and she knew it. It had been two weeks since she and Lindsey had left for the Grand Canyon, and she still had not stopped fighting with Catherine. Oh, she had kept her promise, she was there for Lindsey whenever possible; going to her softball games, teaching her guitar- scarcely three days went by in a row when she didn't see the little blonde. But 'civil' was the best you could ever describe her interactions with Catherine, and when they were at work? Sara was downright confrontational.

She just…couldn't see how she could be any other way. That night in the lab? When Catherine had joked about their love affair- as if it were completely ridiculous? That had hit a little too close to home for the brunette. Catherine seriously had no idea how she felt, and apparently found the idea of the two of them together totally laughable. Ugh. What was the point of life? She knew she was head over heels for the redhead at this point. What had started as mild infatuation and general curiosity had quickly escalated to desperate pining for the older woman as they had gotten to know each other. And now? Sara was stuck.

She couldn't be relegated to permanent friend duty for the duration of their relationship, but she also knew that anything more was out of the question. The only thing she could think to do was put distance between herself and the other woman. But with her promise to stay in Lindsey's life (which she couldn't break) and the torture of working with Catherine every night (which she couldn't avoid), it was very difficult to put literal distance between them. So she picked fights. She gave stony expressions and cold shoulders. She grumped and sulked and dragged her feet just to be annoying. And it worked.

Catherine gave as good as she got- as good as she always had. Nearly. She fought back, perfected the icy stare, griped and pounced on every opportunity to show Sara up. But sometimes…actually, pretty much always, she was the first to give in. In the past, Catherine had never hesitated to put Sara in her place; to pull rank, push boundaries, and undermine authority. Now though, when the brunette sniped and snapped a little too eagerly, Catherine would back down. She'd get a sad expression in her eyes and look down at the ground.

"Are you still coming to set up Lindsey's webcam tonight?" she'd ask, resignedly. "I can't seem to figure it out."

And Sara would feel like an ass. In fact, Sara felt like an ass pretty much all of the time. Because, case in point; Sara was being an ass. She knew it, Catherine knew it, and Grissom, who had stopped putting them on cases together the week before, also definitely knew it. And what was worse, the brunette was starting to get the feeling that Lindsey knew it. And that was unacceptable. She had no right to take her stupid lovesick broken stomped-on heart out on a sweet kid who just needed people in her life who cared about her.

So back to friend duty it was. If Catherine would have her back as a friend. Despite knowing the heartache and longing she would be subjecting herself to if she took up the platonic torch once more, Sara found herself desperately hoping Catherine would forgive her. It would be an utter relief, at least at first, to cease with the immense chore of having to be constantly defensive with the one person she wanted to be close to. It was ridiculous how much she was looking forward to apologizing when you considered how much she was also dreading it.

But it would have to wait until Tuesday. Sara had only come to this decision an hour ago and by then, Catherine was already on a plane to Seattle for a forensics conference that started on Friday and ran clear through the weekend. It had been scheduled for months, and before their fight two weeks ago, Sara was going to watch Lindsey for those four days. But Monday, Catherine had reneged on their agreement, saying she had gotten her mother and some babysitters to cover it because she had not wanted to 'inconvenience' the brunette. Sara hadn't felt like she'd had much right to argue, given her complete ass hat-ness of late, and had acquiesced without much of a fight. Now she was sitting alone in her apartment in the middle of the day, unable to sleep and utterly appalled with her own behavior. She could only hope that Tuesday would come soon and that it wouldn't be too late.

CSICSIILOVECSI!

Meanwhile, thirty thousand feet up, Catherine Willows woke from a fitful nap to stare out the window at the cloudless horizon. Her stomach was in tight knots and she knew it had nothing to do with her distance from the ground.

Sara.

It was always Sara these days.

There was no way around it. Sara was being a grade A bitch. And Catherine had no idea why. It had literally been hot to cold in two seconds flat. They'd been the best of friends one minute and the next? Catherine sighed. What annoyed her more than anything was not Sara's behavior, but her own. Sara was clearly having some kind of problem that she didn't want to talk about. And three months ago, Catherine could have ignored it. Three weeks ago, she would have asked what was wrong like a properly concerned friend. But now? She was horribly trapped in the middle. And she did not like feeling trapped. Sometimes, Sara would provoke her and her instant reaction would be to provoke right back.

"Nice attitude, Catherine. Maybe you could be a little more hostile with that witness."

"Kiss my ass, Sara. You can't even be less hostile with people trying to be your friend."

Or possibly,

"Just because you're beautiful doesn't mean you can walk all over people and treat them like dirt."

"PMS much, Sidle? Just because you're a tight ass doesn't mean I can't look good when I come into work."

And so on. But other times…other times, she would look at Sara as she said those things and see that the venom didn't quite reach her eyes. And she would lose heart. Being mean to Sara now that she actually knew Sara left a bad taste in her mouth. Clearly, Sara was hurting and this was just her way of lashing out.

On top of Sara, there was Lindsey to think about. Lindsey had attached herself to Sara in such a small amount of time. In retrospect, Catherine realized that she should not have encouraged the relationship so quickly. She had never brought anyone she was dating into her home the way she had ushered Sara in. Especially not someone she knew to be emotionally unpredictable. But Sara wasn't someone she was dating, Sara was a friend, and it had just seemed so natural at the time. And she had never met someone who liked and appreciated and supported Lindsey the way Sara did. Bottom line, she trusted Lindsey with Sara more than she ever had with anyone else- even Eddie. Hell, especially Eddie!

But these last two weeks, she had found herself treating Sara more like her ex-husband than anything else. Bickering in private, but then still figuring out ways to manage the brunette's relationship with Lindsey- making sure they had quality time together and working really hard not to confront Sara on her issues any time Lindsey might be around. It was exhausting. And not something Catherine had ever wanted to do again.

Catherine blinked. Suddenly, she was mad at the other woman. This was complete bullshit! Sara had no right to take whatever it was she was going through out on the Willows family. No matter how hard Catherine worked to keep it out of her house but keep Sara in, Lindsey was thirteen and she was not stupid. Neither mother nor daughter needed the aggravation. When she got back from this conference, she was going to tell Sara she could either grow up and talk about her problems or she could stay out of their lives. It wasn't fair on anyone to keep things going the way they were. Sure, it would upset Lindsey in the short term, but in the long run, it would be better for her to have stability than to have the stress of parents who argued all of the time.

Catherine blinked again. Parents? She shook her head. That was a weird slip.

CSICSIILOVECSI!

"…I am the sun…I am the air…"

Sara jolted awake from her awkward position on the couch, immediately reaching for her phone. God, why had she left the ringtone on so loud? And what time was it?

"Hullo?" she croaked into the mouth piece as she checked her watch. She'd only been asleep for twenty minutes.

"Sara?" came a weak voice.

"Lindsey?"

"Yeah," came the small reply.

Sara sat up. "Are you okay? You don't sound good."

"I threw up."

"Where are you?"

"At school. At the nurse. I have a fever. Can you come pick me up?"

Sara thought very quickly, "Umm, yeah, sweetie, I can. Can you put the nurse on please?"

"Okay."

A moment passed and then, "Mrs. Sidle?"

Sara didn't bother to correct her. "Yeah. Is Lindsey okay?"

There was a smile in the other woman's voice at her concern. "I don't think its too serious. She's thrown up and she has a low grade fever. With a fever though, I'm afraid she needs to come home. Lindsey said her mother was out of town, and we've got you down as her emergency contact."

Really? Sara almost said. Then she remembered. Before their fight, Catherine had said she was going to add Sara in that capacity. And she had still done it? Even though Sara was being nasty?

"Right," she said instead, "Right. Okay. I can be there in fifteen minutes. Could you put Lindsey back on?"

"Of course."

"Sara?"

"Hey, sweetie. I'm going to be there really soon to get you, okay?"

"Okay. I'm sorry, Sara."

"No, don't be sorry kiddo. We'll get you better in no time. Why don't you get all of your stuff together and I'll be as fast as I can?"

"Okay. See you in a little bit."

"You betcha."

Sara hung up, running a hand through her hair. As soon as the line went dead, she was speed dialing Catherine's phone. She knew the other woman would still be in the air, but she wanted to leave her a voicemail anyway, so she had an update as soon as she touched down.

"Hey, Catherine, its Sara. I just got a call from Lindsey's school. She's sick and even though they don't think its too bad, they want me to come and pick her up. I'm heading over there now, I just wanted you to…know. Yeah, so give me a call when you get this and I'll let you know how things are going."

Thirty minutes later, after directions from the nurse to drink plenty of fluids and maybe stick to lighter foods until Linds was feeling better, the woman and the girl buckled up in the car. Lindsey looked positively green, and despite the nurse's insistence that it was a simple 'tummy bug,' Sara was very worried.

"Honey, do you have a key to your house? It might be better to be in your own bed than at my apartment."

Lindsey nodded and closed her eyes. "Uh-hum…"

"Okay. Next stop; home."

Lindsey nodded again, but within seconds of pulling away from the curb, she was asleep.

Sara's thoughts raced for most of the ride. She'd never handled a sick kid before. And this wasn't just any kid. It was Catherine's kid. What would Catherine do? Halfway back to the house, she realized that Lily Flynn would need to be told so that no one else tried to pick Lindsey up from school. Sara looked over at the girl and smiled softly. Despite the circumstances, it was good to be around her again. At least they would get to spend some time together this week after all. When they pulled into the drive, the brunette gently shook the young girl awake.

"Linds? We're home."

The blonde jerked her head suddenly and instantly regretted it. "Sara? I'm gonna be-"

But Sara had seen the expression on her face and known what it meant. Lunging forward, she pushed the girl's door open and angled her head over the pavement. Lindsey was immediately sick, narrowly missing the side of the car. Sara rubbed her back until the bout of heaving subsided. Then she carefully got out of the car and went around to the Lindsey's side. Avoiding the puddle of sick, she unbuckled the girl's seat belt and hoisted her out of the car. Setting her on her feet in the grass, she crouched down to take inventory of the thirteen year-old. She swept hair out of her eyes to see tears on her face.

"Hey, Linds. What's wrong?"

"I hate being sick."

Sara hugged her as tight as she dared. "Me too. I'm a rotten patient too."

"I'm sorry I puked on your car."

Sara glanced over and saw that there was indeed a small amount of vomit on the running board. She shrugged. "No biggie. We can hose it off. At least you didn't puke in my car. Then I'd have to kill you."

Lindsey gave a weak giggle.

Sara smiled. "You gonna be okay?"

The girl nodded.

"Okay, then why don't you-"

"Put up your dukes, let's get down to it…" Sara knew that ringtone.

"Hey, its your mom. Why don't you let yourself in and get a glass of water? I'll wash this mess off and calm your mom down before she freaks out and flies straight back here!"

Lindsey smiled and headed for the door as Sara picked up her phone.

"Catherine?"

"Sara! Thank God! Is she okay? Do you have her? What's wrong?"

"Okay, deep breath! She's okay, I have her, and I think it's the stomach flu."

"She threw up?"

"Yeah. Once at school and then again as soon we got home. But she's okay. She's a tough cookie. She's in good spirits."

"Okay." Catherine finally took that breath. "Okay."

"Cath?" Sara moved toward the side of the house and turned on the hose at the spigot.

"Yeah?"

Sara moved to pick up the hose and start spraying off the driveway. "Don't freak out, okay? But…what do I do?"

Catherine thought for a second, trying to calm herself. "This actually happens fairly often. A few times a year anyway. When she's really stressed out or active. Does she have a fever?"

"She did at school. The nurse took her temperature. Uh…99.9? Does that sound right?"

"Right. Okay. There is a thermometer in my bathroom, Linds will show you how to use it. Check her temp again soon and then every couple of hours after. If it goes above 103, you need to call her doctor. That number is on the fridge. If the doctor can't see her, you need to take her to the hospital, okay? The closest one is Spring Valley on Rainbow Boulevard."

"Hospital?" Sara felt a bit faint herself.

"Yes. But Sara? Just so you know, that's never happened to her with stomach flu."

"Okay." Sara breathed again. "Check her temp. What else?"

"Fluids. Mostly water. She has a pink bottle with a sports top next to her bed so she doesn't knock it over. Ginger ale and tea are okay too. No dairy, no sweets, no rich foods. Stick with crackers until she stops puking for at least three hours and then start her on soups with a broth base-not cream or tomato. She sleeps a lot, and I'd highly recommend sleeping while she sleeps. This is what usually happens; she throws up for the first four to six hours. Then she sleeps and her fever climbs for the next twelve hours. Then it peaks and breaks and it takes her a couple of days to feel one hundred percent. But it's a little different every time, Sara. Use your judgment and talk to her about it. If she has more pain than usual or there's blood in her vomit? Take her to the hospital. If she's still vomiting after eight hours? Hospital. If her fever goes up more than a couple of degrees in an hour?"

"Hospital. Got it. If in doubt; hospital."

"Right. I'm at baggage claim. Do I need to book a flight home?"

By this time, Sara had shouldered both her and Lindsey's packs and walked into the front hall. She found Lindsey there, sipping on a pink water bottle. She smiled and put her hand on the girl's head. "I don't think so. Let me put her on for second."

"Mommy?"

Sara took their things into the living room and then moved to the kitchen to give them privacy. While she was in there, she took inventory of the fridge and pantry and found a good supply of all of the things Catherine had mentioned. Ginger ale, crackers, soup. This must really be a fairly common occurrence for Catherine to be so well stocked. Returning to the front hall, she found Lindsey saying her goodbyes and handing her back the phone.

"Cath?"

"Yeah. So, Linds says she's okay and knows you'll take good care of her. I've told her to try and help you and tell you if anything is out of the ordinary. She doesn't want me to come home, so for now, I'm going to stay. If it becomes too much though, call me straight away, okay?"

"I will. But I think we'll be okay. I should probably call your mom, shouldn't I?"

"I'll do it. I'll tell her what's going on and tell her to call you to work out a schedule for tonight."

"I'll stay with Linds tonight." At the silence on the other end of the line, Sara hurried to say, "if that's okay. I just don't want to leave her." Lindsey gave her a sleepy grin and she ran a hand through the girl's hair in response.

"Yeah. No, that'll be good. Sar…" there was a hesitance in her voice. "This could be our fault. She…this used to happen a lot when Eddie and I would fight. I think this might be how she might be dealing with…our situation, lately. Do you get what I'm saying?"

Sara's heart clenched. She hadn't thought of that. She gave those blue eyes a sad smile. "Yeah. I hear you." She tried to keep her words light and still convey her message to Catherine, "We'll fix it."

"The second I get back, Sara."

"I'll be here," she said firmly. "The second you get back."

Catherine sighed her relief. "Okay. Call me in a few hours with an update. All I have to do this afternoon is check into the hotel and tour the conference space."

"Will do. I'm going to get this kiddo into bed."

"Alright. Umm…take care."

"You too." Sara slipped her phone into her pocket and turned the girl toward the stairs.

Lindsey barely made it to the bathroom at the top of the stairs before she was sick again. After she rinsed her mouth, she picked up the waste paper basket and brought it with her to her bedroom. Sara went for the thermometer while Linds changed into pajamas. When she came back, the girl was in bed, blinking sleepily. They took her temperature and Sara was distressed to find it had risen by half a degree.

"One hundred point four," she reported frowning.

Lindsey nodded, sinking further under the covers and closing her eyes. "That's pretty normal."

"Get some rest, kiddo. And I'll be in your mom's room if you need me, okay?"

"Okay, Sara…g'night…"

"Goodnight." Sara leaned forward and kissed the warm forehead before her. "Sleep tight."

The girl was asleep before Sara turned out the light. It was still only midday, so the sun shined merrily through the windows as she entered Cath's room. Finding the blinds and pulling them down, she found that Catherine had the same light blocking ones that she had on her own windows. The redhead had said to sleep when Lindsey slept, and Sara was feeling pretty tired. She set her phone alarm for two hours and then slipped out of her shoes.

As tired as she was, sleep did not come immediately. She was thinking about what Catherine had said. This used to happen a lot when she and Eddie fought. Sara was wracked with guilt to think she had driven the thirteen year-old to this with her idiotic behavior. It was unforgiveable. She hated herself for it.

Realization struck her. Enough was enough. She reached for her phone and hit redial.

"Sara?"

"Catherine. Here's the thing. I'm in love with you."

"I…what?"

Sara plowed on. "I'm in love with you. You're an amazing, irresistible person and…I'm in love with you and your family. And I want to be with you any way I can. I'll learn to deal with just friends if that's what you want. I'm sorry I was such an ass the last couple weeks. I hate that I upset Lindsey so much. It makes me sick. I just didn't know how to handle it and I'm not used to thinking about how my actions affect other people. But if you'll let me…I'll make it up to you. I'll put you and Lindsey first for…well…ever."

There was a long pause.

"Say anything."

"Sara…" the name came out as a great exhalation.

Catherine's mind was…blown. She was flabbergasted. To say that was the last thing she was expecting when she picked up the phone would be the biggest understatement of the century. She was completely blind sided. Not only by Sara's confession, but by the wave of her own emotions upon hearing it. It was going to take more than a few seconds to sort them all out.

"Sara…" she said again. "I'm not…I mean, I've never been…"

"Gay?"

"Right. That."

"Yeah. I kind of figured."

"But umm…" Catherine's thoughts raced a million miles an hour. The weirdest thought of them all was that she wasn't completely dismissing the idea of being with Sara as soon as it entered her brain. Why wasn't she chucking that idea straight out the window?

It was the longest silence Sara had ever had to endure over the phone and it was making her squirm. "Catherine? I've clearly given you a lot to think about. Why don't I hang up and call you back in few hours with an update about Lindsey? And we don't have to talk about this again until…you get back?"

"Lindsey…right…yeah…" Catherine's thoughts were in a complete haze. "Right…"

"Okay…bye, Cath."

"Mmm-hmm…"

Sara hung up. For a moment, her heart pounded in her ears. Then, she breathed an enormous sigh of relief. And slept.

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