DISCLAIMER: These characters and situations do not belong to me in any way, shape, or form. I have borrowed them as part of my sanity maintenance.
CHALLENGE: Written for Passion & Perfection's Big 5000.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

You're Paying
By Debbie


It'd been one of those days when all she'd wanted to do was to have a shower, eat some good food, pour herself a beer, sit down, and forget.

And, she was halfway there; she'd had the shower, had the take-out, and was currently staring into her fridge, trying to decide on wine or beer. Decision made, she popped the cap of her Miller Lite, took a long hard swallow, and then wandered into the den to flop onto the couch.

She sighed and closed her eyes. As tiredness gradually overtook the hyperactive visions in her brain, a sense of complete nothingness began to turn into sleep.

A knocking on her door violently broke the eerie peace, and she sprang into stunned inertia.

The knocking continued; finally, she crossed to stare through her peephole. What she saw did nothing to break her inertness. What the fuck was Catherine doing at her apartment?

"Sofia, are you in there?"

The voice, definitely Catherine's, brought her to her senses, and she quickly unlocked the deadbolt, swinging the door open to her visitor.

Without waiting for an invitation, Catherine crossed the threshold and immediately scanned the area before her.

"Does this look like the condo of a woman who sings weekends at the Gorilla Room?" Catherine's voice was shrill and more than a little slurred, and from the uncontrollable laughter that accompanied her words, it was obvious she was further down the forgetting road than Sofia.

"Catherine, what are you doing here?"

"Huh? Oh, I was in the neighbourhood, and I thought, 'why not visit my partner in crime', so to speak…"

Her words trailed off as she caught the eyes of Sofia; she couldn't hide the inner sadness from the watching detective. Sofia made a decision.

She guided Catherine through to the den and indicated her sofa. "Can I get you anot…" she quickly corrected her assumption, not wanting to antagonise Catherine, "… a drink or anything?" If the truth were known, the intervention of a beautiful woman to what would have been just another maudlin lonesome evening was a blessing to Sofia. The fact it was Catherine, a woman she'd struggled to befriend over the years, was beside the point; she was a colleague, and therefore, welcome in Sofia's home.

"A beer would be good, thank you, but I think I'll let you bring me a coffee instead, black please, you can probably tell I've had a few drinks already. I don't want to upset my host, you know?"

Opening her fridge door, Sofia remembered one of her comments from earlier that day and called over her shoulder, "It's maybe a good thing you don't want a beer, we'd need a damn sight more than I've got here for a wild weekend."

Sofia could hear Catherine's laughter and smiled slyly at her reply. "Don't joke, Sofia, I might just take you up on that one day."

Coming back into the den, Sofia asked a question that was puzzling her. "So, where's Lindsay? I thought you'd be loathed to let her out of your sight after you know what."

Catherine shrugged, "Yeah, I know, but since I nearly lost her, I've been trying to let go a little; I want her to know I love her. Sounds silly, huh?"

"No; actually, it makes a perverse sort of sense. So, why this?" Sofia threw her arm out to indicate between the two of them, and then made a sweeping motion around her apartment.

Catherine gave a sheepish smile. "Um, I was lonely and decided to have a drink. Guess what? I was still lonely and I thought…"

Sitting at the other end of the couch, Sofia nodded her understanding. "Yeah, but why me?"

"I thought about earlier at Charlotte Danville's apartment and how well we worked together. We just seemed to fit together, you know. It's been a long time since I've had that feeling with anyone." Catherine edged herself closer to Sofia and turned at an angle to look directly at the detective. "I think, maybe, we could, um, you know, have the beginning of something different here."

Seeing the blank disbelieving look on Sofia's face, she mumbled on, "Oh, don't look at me like that. You're a detective, a damn good one; I know you've felt some kind of energy between us. All I'm saying is let's explore, uh no, that's not right, that's way too scientific. How about we just see where it can go?"

Sofia knew where Catherine was coming from with the energy talk, but she'd never put voice to her thoughts; would never have dreamed of approaching Catherine, still reluctant to even consider the possibility. Hell, they worked together, Catherine had a child and a reputation, she was just starting out on her new career; things could only be difficult…

Her meandering thoughts were quickly shattered by the feel of Catherine's lips pressing hard on hers and a tongue, surprisingly gentle as it demanded entrance. Sofia gasped and, with great difficulty, managed to push Catherine away.

"No, Cath, not like this."

"Why Sofia? We're both grown women; we both feel this. Why not?"

Sofia sighed; "Because you're grieving, Catherine, and hurting." She reached up to caress the other woman's face, trying to lessen the impact of her words. "I saw you earlier today, lighting a candle for your father. It's too soon; you've lost someone close, your daughter's leaving the nest… I don't want to be anybody's diversion, Catherine."

"You wouldn't be. I want this, Sofia. Heather says… " Sofia's head snapped up; Catherine had discussed her with Lady Heather? When?

Catherine, oblivious to Sofia's thoughts, continued, "… I should give you a chance."

Sofia stood, needing to move further away from the inviting pressure of Catherine's closeness. "Yeah, well, I'm not biting. You're tired, you've had too much to drink, and I'm going to bed. You can rest your head there and sleep."

Catherine looked up at the pacing Sofia, an incredulous smile crossing her face.

Sofia grinned. "Now!"

"Okay, okay. I can take a hint when I hear one."

Catherine watched Sofia walk away, obviously making her way to her own bedroom. She waited until Sofia had reached the doorway before calling her back.

"So – fee - a?"

Sofia stood still; there it was again, that seductive voice reaching out to her. She'd heard it once before today, and that time, had willingly answered Catherine's siren call. This time, she resisted, turning to lock eyes instead, eyebrows raised in question.

"If I still want this in the morning, may I take you to breakfast?"

Sofia laughed; it was just like Catherine to assume she'd cave eventually. "We'll see. Now, go to sleep."

She waited in the den's doorway and watched until Catherine laid her head down, her eyes closing immediately. Taking a moment to enjoy the vision of a softer looking Catherine, she turned to close the door.

As the door clicked into place, she grinned as Catherine whispered - as always - the last word, "You're paying."

The End

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