Notes and disclaimers: CSI and all characters are not mine. No profit garnered ever. For Ariestess. Thanks to circusgirl for awesome urgent beta work. Title from Kristin Hersh.
THERE'S NOTHING HERE BUT THE GROUND
Work wasn't different. People still stole and killed and raped. Sometimes Sara went a whole week and didn't notice her friends had all moved on. Sometimes she barely went an hour.
Sara and Catherine did more interrogations with the two who replaced Sofia and Brass. The new CSIs weren't quite up to snuff. Catherine would look over at Sara and just lift her eyebrow less than a millimeter and Sara knew what to say next. The newbies had experience but they couldn't do that.
Catherine lingered one day in the locker room. She sat on the bench and watched Sara put on her jacket. Catherine said, "The house is so empty now. Empty nest, who knew?" Lindsey had gone away for college.
Kid off to college, it was like being done, Sara thought. And she thought of Lady Heather suddenly and how she hadn't been done at all. Catherine said, "What were you just thinking of?"
Sara frowned and said, "Lady Heather." She watched Catherine think of the same thing she had been thinking and said, "I'm sorry," quickly.
Catherine shook her head. "No, it's fine. It's always out there, isn't it? But you can't keep anyone safe, no matter how hard you try."
"No," Sara said. You couldn't. Sara still felt flushed. So she said, "Do you want to get breakfast?"
Catherine smiled. She looked old enough to have a daughter in college, but she also looked beautiful in a way that struck Sara as almost unfair. "I'm picking where we go," Catherine said, "And you're paying."
They had breakfast together after work three days a week after that. Like Catherine had been waiting to get Sara back. But they'd never really had each other, Sara thought.
Catherine's house did feel empty. Everything was neat. A few magazines, a few journals on the table and the remote was lined up right on the edge. Like Catherine came home and sat down in the same place every night, fired up the TV and then went straight to bed without moving anything at all. It looked like Sara's apartment.
"I'm not saying I'm a great cook or anything," Catherine said. "But I can make pancakes."
"That works," Sara said. She put her bag down on the corner of the couch. "You know, you don't have to."
"I know I don't," Catherine said. "But it's nice to actually set the table."
The pancakes had chocolate chips. Sara said, "These are really good."
"Lindsey's favorite," Catherine said. She ate three without talking. Then she mentioned one of their new team members and she and Sara spent twenty minutes detailing the new guy's weirdness. Alec was the least new of the new people; he'd been with CSI for seven months.
Sara repeated what Greg had written in his last email and Catherine told her what Warrick had told her in his last call. Like friends. Which they were now, Sara realized. Not the friendly teammates they were before everyone left. Catherine made pancakes. Sara looked up from her plate and said, "I make a mean omelette. Let's do that Wednesday."
Catherine smiled again. "As long as there's no olives. I once dated someone who always made eggs with olives. The taste." She wrinkled her nose. "Worse than the smell of a two day decomp."
"I like olives," Sara said. "But not with your eggs, I get it."
Catherine still knew Sara's buttons, the ones that got pushed. After a shift investigating two domestics, Catherine just showed up at Sara's apartment, carrying a white plastic bag that looked like it had take out. "Smells good," Sara said, leaning against the door.
"It's going to taste even better." Catherine looked over Sara's shoulder, not pushing her way in but not leaving either.
Sara stared and wished for her space. She wished she knew more people who didn't know her. Only Catherine would think to come here.
Catherine said, "We have to watch out for each other." She smiled.
Sara sighed. "You're not leaving, are you?"
"I saw your refrigerator yesterday. All you had was the food you made me."
"I can call for take-out." Sara had planned, though, to just go straight to bed.
Catherine took a step forward and Sara could smell the food, rich and garlicy something, and Catherine's shampoo. "Let me in, Sara, it's better than trying to sleep it off."
Sara stepped away from the door. "It's not like you'd go away."
"Hell, no. It's breakfast and conversation with you or microwave pizza and the View at home. I hate Joy Behar."
Sara smiled at Catherine's back and swaying hips.
They were getting breakfast at a bar when Sara said, "Who made omelettes with olives?" Three months of breakfasts and she was thinking she'd heard about all of Catherine's exes. Even Grissom, though Sara wasn't sure how Catherine classified Grissom in her head.
Catherine smirked. "Once upon a time when I was a dancer, I had a husband and a girlfriend. Before I got pregnant. So, actually, before I got married."
"A girlfriend?" Sara smiled. "Another dancer."
"Oh, yeah. She had an amazing body. So did I, back then. But she was something special. Got more tips than any of us. And she couldn't stand any of the guys who came in, even the nice ones. But she liked the girls. She liked all of us, in the end."
"So it wasn't a long relationship?"
"No." Catherine smiled. "But it was nice while it lasted."
"Where's the olive girl now?"
Catherine sighed. "She overdosed eighteen years ago."
Sara said, "You know, in college, I had a girlfriend."
Catherine smirked. "No, really?"
"Ha. I had a few boyfriends, too."
"I know you did." Then they were both smiling at each other. Catherine had that perfect smile and that perfect body.
Catherine kissed Sara first. Back to back shifts led to dinner for once and Sara could barely keep her eyes open over pasta. As they got into the car, Catherine leaned over and did it. Sara gripped Catherine's thigh and felt the heat of her through her jeans. It wasn't anything like a surprise. She was completely awake all at once.
Catherine pulled back and said, "I've been thinking about that."
"Me, too," Sara said. "Not often."
"Me neither," Catherine said, nearly laughing. "But you're beautiful, you know."
"Thank you." She blushed. "What do we do now?"
Catherine said, "I thought we could go back to my place."
"Just like that," Sara said. She started the car.
"Just like that."
Catherine undressed quickly and Sara wondered how many times it would be before she could ask for the professional version. She was already planning multiple times, she thought, toeing off her socks. She looked up at Catherine crawling up the bed, the way her breasts swayed and her firm thighs, and thought she'd be an idiot not to want multiple times. Hundreds of times.
She pushed Catherine onto her back and cupped her breasts. "All natural," Catherine said, arching her back, pushing herself against Sara. She ran her thumb over Catherine's nipple, her tongue over the other until Catherine bit her lip and muffled a grunt. No wonder Catherine had made a living showing her chest off.
"All natural," Sara said, smiling as she kissed a trail between Catherine's breast down to her stomach. Catherine's skin was pale and soft with tiny stretch marks. Every part of her was beautiful. She could feel Catherine breathing against her lips and Sara clenched her thighs together in appreciation.
Sara pushed Catherine's legs apart and licked little circles on Catherine's upper thighs. The smell of her was everywhere. Catherine said, "Come on," and pushed at Sara's head.
Sara smiled and pushed two fingers inside Catherine with no preamble. She could feel Catherine's whimper in her fingers. Between her mouth and her hand, she had Catherine bucking against the bed and nearly shouting. Sara used her free hand on herself and came a few seconds after Catherine did.
Catherine sucked Sara's fingers clean. She used both hands between Sara's legs, smiling around Sara's finger. Another smirk, Sara thought, and that was the sexiest thing. Sara felt sweat beading on the back of her knees and then she came again.
"All natural, too," Catherine said, kissing Sara's breast.
"I never had the body for a dancer," Sara said.
"Sure you do. But CSI's a better job." Catherine sat up and stretched. "Do you want to stay?"
She sounded hesitant. Sara blinked and said, "I do want to stay."
"Good," Catherine said. "I'd like that." She smiled.
It took six times before she convinced Catherine to undress like she was still a dancer. Sara let Catherine have a drawer in her bedroom and Catherine let Sara have two. Catherine's emptier house had more space to fill.
They were both sand, Sara thought. Longtime residents made for the desert.
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