Sarah was the second child born to Tina Lord and Cord Roberts, although it was believed that she was not his daughter at first, but that Johnny Dee Hesser (Carlo's son) was Sarah's father. However, the blood tests were switched and when Cord arrived in Texas after learning that he was the father, he helped DuAnn Demarest deliver the child, named in honor of good friend Sarah Gordon (Bo's presumed dead wife) and aunt Victoria Buchanan.
While out on the road with her brother C.J., her cousin Jessica Buchanan, and Marty Saybrooke, the foursome became involved in an accident with a truck carrying felons on their way to Statesville Prison. The four of them would have perished if not for the unlikely heroism of Marty's one-time rapist, Todd Manning, who was on his way to jail. Todd's deed won his parole. Todd, much to Tina's chagrin, became friends with both Sarah and C.J., and Sarah acted as flower girl in Todd's first marriage to Blair Cramer.
When Tina left Llanview for Baltimore in 1997, she took her children with her. But in 2003, Sarah returned (under the identity of Flash) with her band, but did not reveal her real name to anyone. At around the same time, Joey Buchanan returned from London, with the intention of becoming an Episcopalian priest. One of Joey's first assignments as a curate (minister in training) was to mentor and reach out to those in Angel Square, Llanview's working-class neighborhood, where Flash was living. At first Flash was resentful of Joey's attempt to help her, but in time, they grew closer, as she confessed that she was in Llanview looking for Tina's son CJ. Joey and Flash dated occasionally (much to Jennifer Rappaport's dismay, who wanted Joey for herself), and even shared a kiss. When Jennifer learned who Flash really was, Flash decided to confess to a shocked Joey that she was indeed his cousin. As soon as Viki and Asa learned Flash's identity too, they welcomed her into the family. Sarah was terrorized and nearly murdered by the Music Box Killer in 2004. He strangled her, but she survived and her voice was saved. Her father, Cord, arrived to bring her back to London for further recovery, and she broke up with Riley Colson in a "Dear John letter."
Three years later, while in Chicago searching for his kidnapped son, Todd Manning was stabbed and soon disappeared. It turned out he was being held hostage by a young man named Hunter Atwood. Hunter's girlfriend discovered Todd unconscious and seemed to recognize him. She secretly called Todd's ex-wife Blair Cramer in Llanview and told her Todd's whereabouts, asking her not to involve the police. When Blair arrived in Chicago with Cristian Vega and Rex Balsom, Hunter had moved Todd to parts unknown but Blair recognized the caller: Sarah. She told Blair and the others what little she knew of the situation, but Sarah had no idea where Hunter had taken Todd. After Hunter threatened Sarah on the phone, Cristian and Rex insisted she return with them to Llanview and stay with either her mother's sister Viki Lord Davidson or her paternal grandfather Clint Buchanan. Not eager to reunite with her family, she refused and agreed to return only if she could stay with either Rex or Cristian. Sarah claimed she had been staying "off the Buchanan grid" and living off money from her parents, who believed she was abroad with an important job.
In August, Hunter finally tracked down Sarah, first seeing her leave her great-grandfather Asa Buchanan's mansion. He followed her to Antonio Vega's club Capricorn; inside the empty club, he demanded money. Cristian appeared, and after Sarah couldn't convince her father over the phone to send any money, there was a struggle between Hunter and Cristian over Hunter's knife. Hunter was stabbed and died shortly thereafter. Sarah went to the Buchanan mansion to speak with Asa, but Clint told her that Asa had died the night before. Sarah's father Cord came to town for the funeral; she and Cord had a brief but loving conversation, and he returned to London.
Strapped for cash, Sarah took a job as a waitress at Capricorn. Not any good as a server or bartender, Sarah pressured club manager Cristian Vega for more responsibilities, in particular a position as talent booker, supposedly her area of expertise. Cristian refused repeatedly, insisting that she needed to prove herself first. Sarah had been rooming with Cristian but later moved in with Layla Williamson. Cristian finally challenged Sarah to book a major talent to perform at Capricorn, never expecting that she could do it. Owed a favor by hip-hop star Timbaland's manager, Sarah managed to book Timbaland to perform on October 9, 2007.
After making peace with the loss of his former love Evangeline, who was trapped unconscious in a coma, Cristian asked Sarah out on a date and they slowly began seeing each other. In June 2008, Sarah's long-absent mother, Tina Lord Roberts, suddenly turned up in Llanview. Tina was on the run, having escaped a shoot-out in which Police Commissioner Lee Ramsey was killed by people looking for the missing Crown Jewels of Mendorra, which Tina had in her possession. Tina found refuge with Sarah and Cristian, who was upset at Tina for having abandoned Sarah years earlier. Sarah was tentative with her mother but ultimately welcomed her back into her life. Sarah soon was abducted however by the U.S. Ambassador to Mendorra, Jonas Chamberlain, who wanted to exchange Sarah for the jewels. Jonas also had taken Talia, Sarah's other roommate. Cristian, Antonio and Tina agreed to accompany Jonas back to Mendorra in order to exchange the women for the Crown Jewels. But while in Mendorra, it was discovered that the man plotting the kidnapping was none other than Carlo Hesser, who had terrorized Sarah's family for many years. Carlo wanted revenge against the Vegas and Tina and at the same time wanted to rekindle his relationship with his own estranged daughter, who turned out to be Talia. Carlo and his minions dragged Cristian, Sarah and Tina to the river above the treacherous Hohenstein Falls, where a horrified Tina watched as Carlo tied Sarah to a raft and sent her and Cristian over the falls, deliberately echoing Tina's own nearly-fatal plunge over the Iguazu Falls in 1987. Carlo then set out to behead Cain and Tina for treason. But Cristian, who managed to survive the plunge, returned to the palace and saved Tina and Cain. Carlo stopped them all on their way out of the palace, and Talia agreed to stay behind and marry Jonas if he would let her friends go. Carlo acquiesced, and they headed to a plane to return to Llanview. Just before takeoff, Cristian spied someone outside in the distance and dashed from the plane, only to return with Sarah, who it turned out had also survived the falls.
Cristina, Sarah and Antonio soon returned to Mendorra with a plan to free Talia by drugging Carlo and Jonas and staging them in bed together, just as Talia lead a team of reporters to "discover" the scene on live television. With a protesting Carlo and Jonas arrested for fraud, Talia and the others left Mendorra. While awaiting for a connecting flight from New York City to Llanview, Cristian was kidnapped and awoke to find himself a prisoner on a cargo ship, with Carlo there gloating. Posing as his dead twin brother Mortimer Bern, Carlo delivered Cristian to Plato prison in Colombia, passing him off to the authorities as "the worst criminal in all of Colombia." Unknown to Cristian, he had been exchanged for another prisoner, Ray Montez, who was himself headed to Llanview so he could claim his niece Langston Wilde in an attempt by Clint Buchanan to wrest control of Buchanan Enterprises from Dorian Lord.
While in prison, Cristian was visited by Ray's wife, Vanessa Montez. Vanessa told Cristian that Ray was in jail for murdering his first wife. She paid off the prison guards to release Cristian, in exchange for Cristian's promise to help Vanessa and her step-daughter, Lola, gain safe passage from Columbia to Llanview, where they would be safe from Ray. Just before departing, Cristian managed to call Sarah and tell her that he was alive. Antonio and Talia traced the call to Columbia, and they and Sarah booked a flight to Columbia so they could locate Cristian. Cristian, meanwhile, was on his way to Llanview with Vanessa and Lola. They arrived at the airport and were greeted by a stunned Sarah, Antonio and Talia. Vanessa, meanwhile, was stunned herself to come face to face with Ray Montez, who was at the airport awaiting his own flight back to Columbia with his niece Langston. After John McBain thwarted an attempt by a hit man hired by Dorian to shoot Ray, Vanessa grabbed the gun and shot Ray in the chest. Vanessa was charged with attempted murder. Cristian agreed to look after Lola and Vanessa while Vanessa awaited her day in court and said they could both say at his loft, much to the chagrin of Sarah.
As Vanessa was facing an immigration hearing, Vega family friend Téa Delgado returned to town and told Vanessa her best shot at avoiding deportation was to marry an American. Vanessa immediately asked Cristian to marry her, but he politely refused because he was dating Sarah. Vanessa said she understood, although Lola was upset. On the day of Vanessa's hearing, a note was slipped under the door of Cristian's loft threatening Vanessa's life. Assuming the note was from Ray or someone else hired by him, Cristian decided his only choice was to marry Vanessa. He stood up in court and declared that Vanessa was to be his wife, as a despondent Sarah stood by helpless. Cristian and Vanessa were married, but at first it was only a marriage of convenience. But Sarah could tell that Cristian felt more for her than he was letting on and soon broke up with him.
Meanwhile, Sarah was disappointed, but hardly surprised, when Tina arrived at her apartment and told her she was leaving town yet again. Sarah pressed her to explain why she was leaving so soon, but Tina refused to give her an explanation. In reality, Tina had been banished from town by her sister Viki after admitting that she had helped Jessica's alter Tess keep Natalie and Jared locked up beneath Llanfair. Tina gave Sarah a puppy born by her dog David Vickers, who had turned out to be a female, and Sarah named the dog Cristian Vega.
Depressed by the breakup of her relationship with Cristian and being abandoned yet again by Tina, Sarah holed up in her apartment, refusing to go out even on New Year's Eve. When Sarah saw Cristian and Vanessa at a New Year's Eve party on television, looking every bit the married couple, she called immigration officials and reported their fraud marriage. After immigration officials confronted Cristian and Vanessa, Sarah showed up at Cristian's loft and admitted to having reported them. She angrily confronted Cristian for abandoning their relationship and told him that she had accepted a job as a tour manager for the band Puddle of Mudd, which had just come to Llanview for the New Year's celebration. In tears, she stormed out on Cristian and out of Llanview.