Title: Four Weeks
Author: RebelByrdie
Feedback Email: REBELBYRDIE@aol.com
Rating: A Strong Pg-13 or 15 for language more then anything else.

Author's Disclaimer: The Author does not, nor does she claim to, own the television show CSI. All characters, affiliated symbols and recognizable content belong to the rightful creators and the television networks that they are contracted to. All “original” characters, locations, events and circumstances are, unless otherwise noted, fictional. Any resemblance to persons: living, dead or otherwise copyrighted, are unintended and by occur only by coincidence. No financial gain from the production or public distribution of this story. The content is for entertainment only and no harm or offence is intended.

Spoiler Warning: The following story contains information and scenes taken from and alluding to Leaving Las Vegas, from the seventh season of CSI. If, for whatever reason, you have not seen said episoide and do not wish to be spoiled, discontinue your reading now.

A/N: A response to RalSt's Four Weeks Challenge. This particular story is unbetaed, so I will go ahead and apologize for any butchering of the English language that I may have overlooked.

Week One
Know Your Prey

It was all very subtle: the changes at the lab that happened when Gil Grissom took his sabbatical. I had to give credit where credit was due though. Despite my less then friendly relationship with the woman, Catherine Willows could handle the job. Cases were being handled with the usual amount of skill and enthusiasm, scenes were seen to promptly, without too much unprofessional bickering. The night shift was running like a well oiled machine, going strong without even a hiccup to signal that something, or someone was missing.

The talk of the gossip circuit and the center of the betting pools was the day count. How many days would it take before Catherine Willows and Sara Sidle had one of their well documented blow ups without Grissom there to play 'Neutral Belgium'. Most people had it pegged for under a day and a half. As if those two had nothing better to do then needle at each other. Still, even I knew that putting two strong headed women in one room with no buffer for to long was going to eventually cause some spark.

Four days into the sabbatical, which most people were sure would be a permanent one, things started going downhill.

The signs were all there, something was off with Sara. I knew that I couldn't be the only who had noticed that she had been a little edgier then normal since Grissom's departure. Either they had thrown some rather heated words around before his leaving or the gossip was true and there was a whole different kind of heat between them. Personally, I would like to believe it's the former rather then the later, but the evidence is, unfortunately, leaning heavily in the later's direction.

Honestly, Catherine should have known better; they all should have. If there's one thing Sara doesn't do, it's wax poetic on her feelings and personal experiences. If something bothers her, she grits her teeth, and falls back on silence to get through it. The worst thing one could do was confront her about it. Apparently, Catherine Willows hadn't gotten that memo. All things said, it was probably rotting away on Grissom's mess of a desk.

The Ramirez case was a tough one. Not technically speaking of course, the evidence was all there, black, white, but mostly red. The father, Jesus Ramirez had been one heavy handed head of household and his three year old son had taken one too many hits to the side of his tiny skull. The doctors in the Pediatrics ICU at Desert Palm had pronounced the tiny boy brain dead at two o'clock in the morning. When Sara had suggested putting the sister, six year old Carmen, in temporary foster care, she and Catherine had disagreed, of course that's putting it mildly. Sparks nothing, the situation was a raging damn brush fire. I wasn't there, unfortunately, but from what I hear, it was the Svetlana Melton case all over again, only this time Sara held her tongue. It must have taken every ounce of will power in her to do so. Especially since she had been right all along. Jesus hadn't been the only abuser in the Ramirez household, but none of us had seen it until it was too late. When Carmen Ramirez ended up in a Coroner's drawer beside her brother, Sara didn't even bother telling Catherine 'I told you so.' She just turned her back on the whole scene and walked away, shoulders slumped.


Warrick was busy with Catherine, Nick and Greg had their own case to worry about, and everyone had apparently forgotten, or pointedly ignored Sara's obvious need for someone to talk to. So as soon as I finished signing off on the case, one that I would be trying to run out of my memory for many weeks to come, I went to find her.

I don't miss much about being a CSI. I love being a detective, it's fulfilling, like I was born to do the job. There are some perks that I wouldn't mind still having, though. One of those is Sander's coffee, the man can make day old Folgers grounds taste like heaven, and the other is the small locker room at the back of the labs. If you hit it at just the right times, it's empty. No fighting with the boys about whose time it is to be there; no listening to the other ladies bitch and moan about boyfriends, mortgages or kids. It's a dim and blissfully silent cave, perfect for brooding after a hard night. I know I'm not the only one who appreciates that fact, even if I hated being bumped back to a locker.

Sure enough, I found her there, sitting by herself in front of her open locker. She's not seeing the dinged metal in front of her, though. Her mind was obviously caught up in another place and another time because I was able to get all the way into the room and beside her without her noticing me. When I put my hand on her shoulder, she jumped. She jerked so hard she almost fell off of the bench. "Hey it's just me." Sara looked at me, her face mostly in shadow. "Hey." Her voice was low, gravely and full of unshed tears. A less then subtle sleeve across her eyes told me that all of her tears hadn't been held back. I gave her a moment and just as I expected, she looked at me with a Poker face that would have made professionals cry for mercy. "Something I can do for you, Sofia?"

I gave her a hard look and made a snap decision. "Yeah, actually, I was hoping you'd join me for a drink." I could see it, the no was in her eyes and it was about to form on her lips. It was time to pull out the big guns, "Because you're not an alcoholic if you don't drink alone and I've been doing that far too often lately." Something flickered through her eyes, "Is that supposed to be a joke?" Ah, that would be anger. I'd seen her file, right before Ecklie sent me packing to the night shift. I knew about the near miss with the DUI and the counseling she had to take. That had been a bad move on my part, but when all else fails, trash Catherine. Going for casual I shrugged, "No, I'd like to go for a drink with you without Greg and Nick there to get into a Frat Boy drinking contest or Catherine giving every breathing, fully functioning human with a penis one of her looks while Warrick looks on and broods about it. Sara laughed, a sound that was not heard nearly enough around the Lab and PD, and gave me a smile. "Sounds great, actually."

It wasn't the thrilled 'Oh God, yes! Take me now, Sofia!' I'd been vainly hoping for, but it's progress and I'd take it. I stood and offered her a hand, "Can I squeeze a meal out of you too?" Sara flashed me another gap toothed grin, "I don't know, how is your bank account faring, Sofia?" Oh yes, progress.

Week Two
Of Tigers and Lilies

A beer after shift here, a light lunch while on the same case there, and before I knew it, we had all made it into Week Two without killing each other. Well, to be truthful, Catherine and I had come close, but I hadn't been suspended and she had been thoroughly humbled, so I supposed things were going well enough. I think that was mostly due to Sofia. The Detective had decided that this was the best time to suddenly become my new best friend. I can't argue with her logic or fault her timing a bit. My initial anger with Gil for leaving, and leaving the way he did, had been transferred to Catherine for just being herself, mostly. The somewhat bitter pangs of loneliness, though, had been soothed away by Sofia.

We have things in common, things I hadn't even realized before. Like the fact that she had been a vegetarian since college or that we both had a closet love for the music of the Seattle Grunge Revolution. She likes to tease me about going to Harvard and I always came right back at her for spending a year at Sarah Lawrence before switching back to UCLA on a volleyball scholarship. Even our differences are enjoyable. She, despite being a born and bred Cali girl like me, prefers the mountains to the ocean. She says I'm uncouth because I prefer beer or a hearty scotch to wine and I say she's lazy because she won't drive a stick-shift. We don't talk about death and we don't sneak around as if being seen together would cause the world as we know it to end. She had been there for me when no one else had bothered to check up on me. Had the woman sensed something was off? I really don't put it past her, she's a great detective. Honestly, I don't care if it was office gossip, or her Spidey Senses, I'm just glad she showed up. I honestly don't know what I would have done without her.

I won't admit it out loud, but I'm especially grateful for her tonight. Despite both of us moving the earth, sun and several planets trying to avoid it, Catherine and I were partnered up on a 419 out in North Vegas. Niether of us was particularly pleased. The Ramirez case was only a few days old and for my part, I was still ready to throw down my kit and brawl with the woman who was, temporarily, my boss.

"Catherine." Sofia's words were noticeably cold, as though kissed by an Arctic wind. When she turned to me, though, she gave me a little smile and her voice had returned to it's normal, warmth and cadence. The smirk that played across Sofia's lips always makes me want to mirror the gesture, so I do. "So, what do we have tonight, Detective?" "You're going to love this one." She popped one of her toothpicks, she had a never ending supply of the wooden splinters, in to her mouth as she walked around the building. Apparently, she wanted to show rather then to tell us. I was about to ask her for a hint, but was cut off by a sound that isn't all that often heard in the urban jungle, a roar.

Catherine, slightly ahead of us, backpedaled when she turned the corner. The look of shock on her face made it pretty clear why Sofia wanted us to see for ourselves. "Is that a tiger?" What can I say? Catherine didn't, despite my usual scathing run down, become Grissom's right hand because of her looks. The full-grown and obviously unhappy Bengal Tiger paced around a torn up corpse while animal control was warily trying to get close enough to shoot it with a tranquilizer. I looked over at Sofia and almost laughed out loud at her attempts to keep a strait face.

"That's Kali, recently stolen from the Robertson Show Animal Center." Sofia edged around a blood pool, making sure she didn't disturb the evidence that we would later have to collect. "Where Idiot Number One, our vic, and Idiot Number Two, the guy who just wet his over- alls, used to work." Merriment danced in Sofia's eyes. "After being terminated for reasons that he," She jerked her thumb in the direction of the so-named Idiot Number Two, "Won't specify, they decided to steal a tiger to sell on the black market."

I couldn't help but scowl. This wasn't the first time an animal had been used to make some quick cash, and it probably wouldn't be the last. Every time I come across sleaze-balls like these, it gets the screaming PETA member deep inside of me worked up and ready to rumble. "I guess the ten or twenty grand they'll get for selling her off piece by piece to smugglers and collectors will make a nice severance package."

Sofia nodded sagely, letting me rant without interrupting even once. She paced off the entire scene, staying out of the way of the animal control guys, and laid out the crime.

"They find a buyer, but the cat, who hasn't eaten in days maybe, wakes up and gets a little angry." Catherine, who had decided to play nice with the rest of the group, nodded, "Buyer sees the carnage, and the police and keeps driving."

Okay, I can go with that, but, " Who called the police, this is a pretty empty area." Sofia's snicker got past her hand, "He did. Apparently all these boys did was scoop animal poop, neither of them had any idea how to handle a full grown tiger. The training team is on it's way."

Off to the side, none too amused, Catherine was posturing: arms folded over her chest, head tilted just a bit, she's the picture of annoyed. "Death by tiger. I suppose we can't do anything 'till the trainers get here." I watched Sofia roll the toothpick around her mouth, and held back a smirk because I knew she was about to blast off her mouth. "If you'd like to try, be my guest." The tiger chose that minute to rear back on it's hind legs and let out another roar. I put my none-too-light kit down by the tire of Sofia's car. "Vegas, you've gotta love it." Sofia quirked an eyebrow and leaned against the metal of the car, content to watch the show.

The tiger case wrapped up rather quickly, especially after Kali's trainer, Joanne arrived. I love animals, I really do, but I have limits. How anyone could pet a several hundred pound wild animal with teeth, claws and a natural ability to kill things like it's a fuzzy kitten is completely beyond my comprehension. Despite the obvious danger in getting within lunge range of an animal that was still licking the human blood off it's chops, the trainer had gone strait to it. The cat and trainer reunited like old friends. The more power to them, but I think I'll stick to the more manageable Feline domesticus.

Filling out the paperwork is almost fun and I can't help but wish Ecklie could have somehow caught the case. Putting up with him for more then five minutes would have been worth seeing the look on his face when he found out his suspect was a tiger. I'd shared that little thought with Sofia and she'd gotten the funniest look on her face, "I would pay big money to see that man dance with Kali."

Catherine was taking photos of the scene, trying to get close ups of the tiger, and not paying the two of us a bit of attention, so I took the golden opportunity that had been offered to me. "Next time you invite me to a show, we should at least get dinner too." Sofia hadn't even tried to hold back her laughter. It was from the gut and hardy. She threw her arm around my shoulder and assured me that if we ever did go on a date, Vegas might not ever recover because, to quote, "We would light the entire city on fire." That little snippet had caught everyone's attention. Even Super Dave looked up from his mauled body. I'm not much of a show-woman, but I know a cue when I see one. I bumped my hip against hers, we're almost the exact same height, and grinned, "Promises, promises, Curtis." She'd laughed again and gave me one of her patented looks, "Time and place, Sidle."

Sofia doesn't whisper. That's something I've noticed about her. I've heard her voice go low, from pain or anger, but she doesn't whisper. She has nothing to hide. When she says something, she doesn't care who over hears. In fact, sometimes she projects for all to hear, like tonight. She'd let the entire cadre of police and assorted support personnel at the scene know that she wouldn't mind "lighting the city on fire" with me, not one bit. In fact, she even seemed a little cocky about the whole mess. It was a refreshing change from being someone's dirty little secret.


'Light the city on fire' The words echoed in my head like bad song lyrics, especially when the florist delivered the rose bush, an actual live and blooming rose bush, to the lab. The card was simply addressed to me, but I had no doubts as to the identity of the sender. Greg and Nick needled me, demanding to know who was "putting the moves on their girl" and I forced, extra emphasis on forced, a grin. Gil was too afraid to sign even his initials to it. He had once confessed his "feelings" for me to a murderer, and probably Lady Heather too, but he didn't want our colleagues to know we were seeing each other on a personal level.

Not to say the roses didn't touch me, they did. They brought tears to my eyes, only not in the good way. Sure, he was thinking of me, but he just didn't understand. Not only was the card unsigned, the flower was of the hothouse variety, no thorns. Maybe he had been trying to send me a metaphorical message, something symbolizing his love or whatever it was he has for me. It's safe to say he failed miserably. I left it in the break room, the lab rats could use a little color in their lives.

We might not light the city on fire, but I have a great recipe for vegetarian stir fry that will go wonderfully with Sofia's favorite wine. The best part, though, was that I didn't feel like a character in a second rate spy thriller when I asked her to come over.


When Sofia showed up at my door with a bottle of wine in one hand and a dozen tiger lilies in another, I felt a goofy grin steal across my face and a hard squeeze in my heart. I might have been going gooey on the inside, but I had a reputation to maintain. "You, Detective Curtis, are a smart ass." Sofia grinned, "You're cooking it's the least I can do. Besides, roses are so cliché. They're strictly for unimaginative luke-warm relationships where a dime a dozen bouquet equals a quick tumble in the sheets. Lilies are far more suited to romance." She had me there, but Sofia being Sofia had to add the kicker, "And to you." Damn, why couldn't I have fallen in love with her first?

Week Three
She's the Bomb

The last day of Week Three began and ended with two very different bangs. The explosion at the courthouse sparked panic in the streets. The news hounds immediately swooped in and started batting around terms like Terrorism and Homeland Security like well used hacky sacks and the Mayor demanded an answer, quickly. I was oh-so-lucky to have been the first detective on scene, so this disaster was my baby to tend to until someone of a higher rank arrived.

When the CSIs arrived on scene, I smiled and waved at Sara. She and Warrick Brown were the lucky pair that would get to go down through the access tunnels to see the main scene, where the sparks had ignited the explosion. I wished them luck and proceeded to take statements and generally look like a busy detective. While I was moving around the crowd, though, I watched Warrick and Sara suit up. They each pulled on a set of coveralls, dark blue with 'FORENSICS' stenciled on back. They put on their helmets and did radio checks. The two of them looked like the picture of professionalism.

Except, for a brief moment, I saw it. Sara's eyes betrayed her when she looked at the open man hole. She had never said anything, but it hit me like a bolt from the blue, she was claustrophobic. Sara was claustrophobic and was about to climb down into a dark underground tunnel. Warrick chucked her on the shoulder, "You ready?" I watched her force a smile, and start the climb down. When her bottom half was already in, she looked over at me. She'd already lost all the color from her face, but her chin was jutted out, probably from gritting her teeth and she was determined to go down and do her job. At a loss for how to help her, I gave her a smirk and a thumbs up. She stuck her tongue out at me as she descended. She would be okay, and after she got back out, I was going to shang-hai her for a bit and take her out to dinner.

As the minutes rolled into hours, the worry returned. Radio checks revealed nothing except for the fact that they were still alive and a bare-bones report of what they were seeing. It was beginning to look more like an electrical blunder then an all-out terrorist attack. I tried to keep busy, but every time I looked back towards the manhole, I had to stop and remind myself that Sara was a professional. It was funny how, in the space of little more then a few days, I had gone from a little crush to actively worrying about Sara.

Okay, so maybe it isn't all that surprising. I'd been attracted to her from the first time I'd seen her. The forever unreachable Sara Sidle. Nothing touched her, not on the outside at least. On the outside she was the prefect Classical Stoic. Nothing ever shook her. She'd had a shard of pottery held to her jugular by a crazy man and she had worked through it, pushing it back and finishing the case. Of course, that was CSI Sidle, not Sara the woman. I know Sara the woman now, maybe I'm the only one around here who does. Remembering the entire Adam Trent incident makes me worry just a little bit more. How well had she really dealt with what had happened?

Probably not half as well as Grissom had indicated. The very thought of the absent etymologist makes me want to hit something or someone. Oh I know about their relationship, Sara had let it slip after one beer too many. Relationship my ass. No one in their right mind would keep any kind of romance with Sara a secret. If he had half an idea how precious a gift she'd given him, he'd be screaming it from the top of the Stratosphere Tower. Not running off to some tiny Atlantic state, who really lived in New Hampshire anyway, to lecture a bunch of college kids who couldn't care less about something that only five people in the country understood. Gilbert Grissom might have a PhD, but he has to be the dumbest smart person I've ever met.

Thoughts about Sara, Grissom and relationships came to a screeching halt when the ground beneath my highly polished boots gave an almighty lurch. I used to live in Los Angeles, I know earthquakes. This wasn't an earthquake. Man made thunder sounded out from the manhole and chaos erupted.

Uniforms were moving around, shouting reports into the radio, civilians along the perimeter tape were screaming and the press was already making wild guesses at what could have caused the boom. All I could think about, the only thing that fired through my synapses was the fact that Sara was still under ground, right in the path of whatever had just happened. "Sara!" The name came out of my throat in a horrified half scream. Frantic radio chatter buzzed in my ears, the above ground team trying to locate those who were still hundreds of feet beneath the asphalt.

Warrick reported in, he was dirty and in the dark, but he and the electrician that had gone down with them were okay. Neither knew where Sara was; they had, despite procedure and direct orders, split up. It took every ounce of my waning patience and Jim's direct order to keep me from going down there myself to help look.

An hour later, Search and Rescue reported in that they had located a survivor. A survivor? We were only looking for one woman. One claustrophobic woman who had been alone in the dark, possibly injured, for what seemed like an eternity. In the same communication, they requested an ambulance. Jim shot me a warning look, but from the way he was ringing his own hands, I was sure he was just as ready to jump down into that tunnel as I was.

Ten longer then life minutes later a combination of bellow and above ground efforts brought Sara back to the surface. She was pale, about the same color as freshly cracked ice, covered in concrete dust, dirt and worst of all, blood. All things considered, she seemed to be more or less okay. She was shaking, but standing up under her own power and calmly answering questions in her `nothing effects me' tone of voice.

It took me all of three strides to reach her, and in less time then it took a heart to beat, I had her against me. She relaxed, all but collapsed, against me. I took her weight, would have willingly picked her up and carried her away a la The Body Guard, if she needed me to. For the moment I just tucked her head against my shoulder and held her close until she stopped trembling and I had convinced myself that she was, indeed, safe and sound.

An EMT, his name was Hoss or Henry or some Southern-fried 'H' name or other, finally came over and informed me that he needed to examine Sara. I might have considered it, as she did have a head wound, but Sara turned in my arms and gave the guy, his name tag read Hank, a look and a positively frigid `No.'. I think I actually saw him shrink a little. When another EMT, her name tag read Irene, came over, Sara grudgingly consented to be patched up, but she outright refused to go to the hospital. If I were a good friend, I would have probably insisted she went, she had a concussion after all. The thing is, I'm not a good friend, I'm an over protective would be girlfriend, that added to the fact that the word 'hospital' made Sara clench my hand tightly enough to all but break it, decided it. No hospital today, but thanks.

No one even considered calling Grissom. Not once. Things were, as Jim had commented affably, just fine now.


Catherine had told Sara, with a face that was etched with guilt, to take the rest of the night off. Jim, the saint that he is, volunteered me to drive Sara home. As if I'd let anyone else at that point. Sara might have been putting on a strong front. She had even joked with Greg that they would probably have matching explosion scars, but underneath the bravado and that fake little smile, she was heading for a serious break down and I intended to be there for her when she let it all out.

I drove her to her apartment and let myself in with the spare key I keep conveniently forgetting to return to her. I made popcorn and turned on the TV and lead Sara to the couch. I left every light in the apartment burning and as we were settling in to watch a mindless sit-com marathon, she relaxed against me and I knew that her higher utilities bill would be more then worth it.

We fell asleep that way, Sara's head cradled in my lap. Technically speaking, she shouldn't have been sleeping, but I'm a detective, not a doctor.

Later, I'm not sure if it was the crick in my neck or something else, I woke up. As I was blinking myself back into consciousness, I heard it, something was terribly wrong.

Still stretched out, head on my lap, Sara was muttering and jerking her head from side to side. I ran my fingers through her hair, dancing lightly over the gauze and the darkening bruise that was peeking out from under it. She was having a nightmare, poor baby. I couldn't stand to let her relive what had happened earlier. "Wake up." She jerked once more, her hands going up to protect her face from something, but she didn't wake up.

Mumbled 'No's and 'I'll be goods' clued me into the fact that whatever viscous nightmare Sara was having, it wasn't solely based on today's events. When Sara's whimper of 'Don't leave me in the dark' sounded off, and ripped into my soul, I decided that I'd had enough. I put a hand on each of her well sculpted shoulders and began to gently shake her awake.

When she finally returned from whatever Hell she'd been trapped in, her big brown eyes darted around for a minute, obviously terrified of something, or someone. I would give my left arm to have three minutes alone with who ever that someone was. With no phantoms to beat down for her honor, I did the only thing I could think of, I pulled her onto my lap. I kept my hand running through her now tousled and sweaty hair and uttered nonsense along the lines of "Shhh" and "You're okay" . Sara looked at me and after a moment, relaxed. Relieved, and still mostly asleep, she snuggled closer and rubbed her nose up against my neck. Her muttered "Sofie" went strait from my ears to my heart.

I nodded and smiled, how could I have done anything less, "It's me." Sara nodded, "You're still here." Again, I nodded, "I'm on concussion watch, remember." Sara nodded vaguely. "Thanks." I had her in my grasp and she wasn't trying to wiggle free so we sat there, quietly, soaking in each other's presence. Later, I knew, she would raise the walls up and pretend like nothing was wrong. It wasn't later yet, though.

The loudest noise was the panicked throbbing of Sara's heartbeat against my own, more steady one. After what seemed like hours, Sara looked up at me again, our faces were only inches apart. "Sofie-" Only two people can get away with calling me 'Sofie'. My mother, Jim, and now, it looked like Sara was going to be able to use the most hated nickname carte blanche because I couldn't control the shiver that went down my spine when she uttered it. We were locked in a loaded gaze. I don't need soaring cellos, a slow motion moment, or singing sea life to tell me when to kiss the girl. I closed the distance between the two of us and our lips brushed together for the first time.

That thing about cellos and time slowing down, forget it. The whole cheesy, mushy romance movie reel began to echo in my head as Sara and I began to kiss in earnest. It might have been seconds, it might have been days, but I was rooted to the spot. I was kissing Sara Sidle, and she was kissing me back.

Week Four
The Return

The dreaded four week sabbatical has almost come to it's end. Greg, Nick and Catherine were not so secretly planning a 'Welcome Back' Party and the lab is, Ecklie excepted, in a festive mood. I could care less. Four weeks ago, I thought my world had screeched to a halt because Gil left. Now I'm pondering what the hell I was going to do when he got back. The smart ass that lives in the back of my mind did an impression of an over-active student who had the answer. I obviously had to break off the secret relationship with him. It was as simple, really. I had fallen out of whatever I had been in with Gil and was falling hard for Sofia. It sounded very junior high school, but it was the truth. Maybe his absence had lifted the blinders, because I hadn't seen so clearly in years.

I hadn't told her why I was claustrophobic, but she had held me close and assured me that I was safe, right in the middle of the street. She hadn't asked questions or expected an explanation, she had just held me. There was a nice picture of the two of us on page eight, but she didn't seem to care. I swear I saw her pocket a clipping of it with a smirk on her face. I couldn't remember the last time Gil had touched me in public, and as for hugging, I don't think he's ever been so bold unless we were hidden behind closed doors. I used to tell myself that I liked it that way. I wasn't touchy-feely, I never had been. I liked the fact that he wasn't hanging over me like a high school dunderhead boyfriend hoping to get lucky. I've always been rather good at lying to myself. While I'm at it, I might as well try to convince myself that I don't like how Sofia kisses or that I don't find her swagger incredibly sexy. I could go for the gold and say that I don't want her naked, sweaty and between my sheets, writhing beneath me. I think the time has come for me to come out, pun not intended, and say it. I have gotten myself into a real predicament. I'm in love with a wonderful woman who stayed awake all night holding and cuddling me to keep the nightmares away, while technically in what was supposed to be a monogamous relationship with a man who had once kept me up all night to watch a pig decompose in sewer water. Great job, Sidle.

With Gil, I want to forget everything about my childhood. I want to please him and make him smile. I sound like a hero-worshiping student and that realization has made me look at myself hard. With Sofie, I sometimes want to spill everything to her. Especially when I wake up and she's right beside me, arms around me, ready to listen to whatever it is I have to say. I think she's already figured out a couple of things. It's hard to miss the scars on my back, especially when you're changing the bandages in the same general area. Of course Grissom had spent a lot of time ignoring them.

Oh hell. There it is. I call him, even in my head now, Grissom, and I call her Sofie. That's probably a sign, a big Strip worthy flashing neon one.


She's noticed that I'm preoccupied, not a great feat. We're at the diner we've been all but haunting for the last month. The wait staff has gotten to know us, because how many vegetarian lesbian cop-types eat the special at three am? She catches my hand from across the table and laces our fingers together. It's the little things like that, taking my hand and not caring who sees, that get me about her. It's not like I haven't been with women before. It's not been long enough to forget how some women would rather be dipped in a vat of acid then to be outed. Sofia, though, doesn't give two damns about what people see or think. The whole thing is just so wonderful that I can't see how I'm going to be able to go back to the clandestine, cloak and dagger act with Grissom.

I have a choice, I know that and she knows that. Sofie knows about Grissom. Which is why we have yet to give into our raging teenage- esque hormones and very adult needs. "Grissom's getting back in a few hours." I nod, not trusting my voice. She gives me one of her looks. "You'll be at the party?" I nod again, Catherine wanted us all to be there, besides, he was expecting me. He was expecting me, I knew, to act like a colleague who was pleased he had returned, not like a lover who had missed him. Had I missed him? Maybe a little, but I know that if Sofia suddenly jumps up and leaves for a month, I would be in a far worse state of mind. I would probably find myself working copious amounts of overtime and looking at life through the bottom of a bottle until she returned. As it stands, I'm not only not on the line of maxing out on overtime, I think, for the first time in nearly seven years, I had four consecutive forty hour weeks on my time card, and my little "me" problem has receded far into the background. Sofia is very very good for me.

To top everything off, I'm happy. Harlequin novel, turn heads when I walk down the halls, happy. Even Hodges had noticed the difference. Nick had noted that I was back to my old habit of "caterwauling" as I worked and Greg said he'd not seen me look chipper in a long time. There is a choice, but in the end, I don't think that there's a choice at all. My watch beeps off the hour and I know that we both need to get back. Not because someone will miss us, but because the results on our case will be in soon. Since Sofie is throwing a twenty on the table, I guess she's got the same idea I do.

Sofia doesn't let go of my hand and as we get in my Tahoe, she gives me a look. She pushes her fingers through honey blonde hair, the hair I adored running my fingers through, and takes a deep breathe. Here it comes. "Sar, I know Grissom's coming back and you two have some issues." Oh God, was she, she couldn't be, was she about to dump me? I hate that paranoid voice even more then the smart ass one. "If you want to talk to me, I'll be at my condo, but Sara." I look her dead in the eye and I see that even uttering these words are hurting her, "I won't hide and I won't share." Ah, there it is, the ultimatum. She's too damn classy to have done anything but that. I usually hate ultimatums, but I'd seen this coming long before now. She's right of course. I have a choice to make.

In a little less then five hours time I have to make a life altering decision: Gil Grissom or Sofia Curtis. I could deliberate on it. Usually, when faced with important decisions, I make lists. I weigh out the pros and cons. I sometimes seek out advice or read up on a subject. At the very least I brood over the problem with a beer. All of that, though, is moot. The decisions already been made, it was made four weeks ago, now I just have to go break a heart to carry it out.