DISCLAIMER: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and other related entities are owned, trademarked, and copyrighted by Anthony E. Zuiker, Jerry Bruckheimer Television, CBS Worldwide Inc., Alliance Atlantis Corporation, CSI Productions and CBS Productions. This is fanfiction and is written purely for the fun and enjoyment of the fans without profits being made what so ever.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This idea came after watching "You've Got Male" and the phone call Sara made asking the other person on the other end of the line if they wanted to do something. I came up with the someone. I also thought of the hell Catherine was going through in "Outside the Box" about what a lousy way it was to find out Sam Braun was her father.
SPOILERS: Season Two, most specifically "You've Got Male"
THANKS: many, many thanks to Lewis for being my beta.
ARCHIVE: Only with the permission of the author.

6 Degrees
By Elizabeth Carter

Chapter 20

Sara felt her chest first.

The morphine she was receiving didn't seem as if it was even working. Every breath was so painful she didn't even want to breathe. In and out of consciousness Sara watched as nurses came and went, the haze of pain, sleep drifted in and out. The last time she opened her eyes she saw Doctor Rothery standing near her, giving her a very encouraging compassionate smile.

"He-ey Sara." the tiny woman said as she put her hand up. "No don't speak, I know from personal experience just what sort of pain it can be. But I want you to show me on this chart where your pain is set at. Can you do that?"

Sara merely nodded. Dr. Rothery showed Sara a chart with a full toothed smiley face with the number zero below it at ten the face looked absolutely miserable. It was this last face Sara pointed at.

"I'm sorry." Rothery touched her patient's arm. "I going to give you a sedative, so for the next three days as I fear the pain will be higher maybe than you can tolerate. There are some cases in which we keep patients under heavy sedation. Burn victims and those with crushed sternums are those that we try to keep heavily sedated."

Sara gave a thumbs up. Hell if she could sleep through the next three days she'd be happy. Happier of course if she hadn't ended up in the hospital. It seemed that Fate was set against her.

The stupor of morphine settled over her mind and the sedative set in making her drift into the fog. In the distance she could hear Doctor Rothery, utter reassurances, she felt the softness of the doctor's hand upon her cheek "She loves you Sara. I can see it in her eyes, her protectiveness. She loves you. And she knows you love her. You'll live through this pain. And it's okay to allow your Catherine to be your strength. She doesn't think down of you because you'll need to. It's okay to feel a little off, I need you to concentrate on getting better. I need you to rest."

Sara felt the heaviness of the sedation numb her mind, she might have answered, or maybe she just thought the word "okay." And she did feel okay about being weak, she'd been through hell, and the doctor and her Catherine just told her it's okay she can feel hurt, all she need do was heal. She could allow Catherine to be her strength. Rothery said it was okay. The last word on her mind before darkness prevailed was 'Catherine.'

"Catherine," Grissom walked up to the blonde once she emerged from the hospital. After all he was her ride back to the lab. "Well do you want to tell me what is going on between you and Sara?"

"No." The CSI answered swiftly. "It has nothing to do with our professionalism, we don't bring it into the office and you can't reprimand us because of what you thought you saw here at the hospital." The fire burned behind the blue eyes.

"You don't find this a conflict of interest?"

"No. Griss, you would have never known about Sara and I, if you hadn't seen me kiss her. You don't know if I was merely comforting someone hurt, and very much in pain. As a matter of fact I know you would have done the same. I kissed Nick's forehead when he was hurt because of his stalker, and you didn't call me out then. Why are you doing it now?"

The man didn't answer straight away. He pursed his thin lips concentrating on the evidence before him. He was a trained investigator, it was his job to be as observant as possible. "Because what transpired between you and Nick was platonic. What happened between you and Sara wasn't."

"Be careful Grissom, you're treading on thin ice here. Do you know what kind of trouble it would lead to if there was any hint of discrimination because of same-sex relationship? And there is nothing in the employee regulations for CSI fraternization on our levels."

"You researched it." Gill commented.

Catherine only smiled. "I knew eventually you would try to play chess with us on this. I am stalemating you. I'm CSI three, Sara is a level two, I might be lead CSI but I am not her supervisor. You won't break up our teamwork because frankly when we are together, even when we were frosty we're the best. She and I are like King Kong on cocaine. And you knew it then, you know it now." Catherine made sure she was facing Grissom and speaking clearly so he might not misinterpret her words as she knew he read lips.

He was still for a moment, a habit of his as he sank into deeper thought. He would continue to be silent as they drove back to the CSI HQ.

The whole drive back Gil Grissom was locked in his own mind. Sara Sidle the single soul that knew the same obscure information he did, who could recite the same quotes. She was even interested in entomology's contribution to forensics, she got excited over things like the Body Farm. She was a physicist, and mathematician. Her mind was sharp, equal to his own. She was his shadow, his female clone.

They were perfectly matched.

Catherine Willows, a woman who had an affinity for puzzles and could solve the most difficult of them, street smart and she knew how to get into people's heads, the perps and the vics. A woman who as bright and powerful. A woman who was self contained and didn't need approval of a man to make herself feel valued. She knew herself and she didn't take anyone's crap for long if at all. She was a woman Gil could relate to and she completed all the vacant holes in his life both professional and personal.

They were perfectly matched.

No Sara and Catherine they're perfectly matched.

Grissom turned to Catherine, all he did was nod as he slipped out of the SUV. "Take care of her Catherine. Once you're in, you're in. You always go for what and for who you want by the throat, don't hurt her."

At first Catherine's first reaction was to bristle in anger, the man just insinuated that she would harm his precious shadow, the infamous broody Sara Sidle her second reaction was to want to slam herself up side the head that the Grissom Shadow, that broody Sara Sidle was the woman Catherine had just professed her loved to. The woman Catherine had claimed as hers and had challenged Gil for. This was a woman that in her first year in Vegas Catherine had made several snide comments and deliberate digs on more than a few occasions. Was it any wonder that Grissom was concerned?

"You don't have to worry about Sar, Griss. She's one hell of a woman. She's not going to be hurt because of me, or our relationship." Catherine's answer came. She would never give plaudits, trifle excuses or promises, that wasn't her style besides such things were always overplayed and overrated. She believed in herself and in Sara. She believed in her heart she would never seek to deliberately harm Sara, and she had faith in her younger lover that she would do the same for her. Gil Grissom would have to take Catherine's word for it.

Sara was a warrior, a woman of deep conviction, despite the issues she might have with herself, her past Sara was an extraordinary woman. A woman who always charged to the forefront of any case dealing with rape and domestic violence. Something in those thoughts triggered Catherine's investigator skills. Sara had been harmed. Raped? Abused? Forced to watch abuse? Willows didn't know and she pondered how much of Sara's past her supervisor knew. Why was he so protective of her? How much did he know? How much trust did he have to earn to have Sara confide in him.

From her past experiences Catherine knew that love and trust were not mutually exclusive. Once upon a desperation Catherine had loved Eddy Willows. She had never truly trusted him. She wanted Sara's trust as much as she craved the younger woman's love. Catherine vowed to herself she would have Sara's unyielding trust, do whatever she had to do, whatever it took to earn it. And she would start by giving her own.

The two had scarcely entered the HQ of CSI when they were bombarded by five others, Warwick, Brass, Nick, Greg and of all people Lindy. Each of the nearly parroting the other in the questions over Sara's condition.

"How is she?"

"Is she going to be okay?'

"How much damage?"

"How bad is it?"

"She is going to pull through, right? Right?"


Grissom held up his hands not in surrender but in an attempt to still the cacophonous chatter. "She's stable now but she has a long road in healing." The supervisor began to list the injuries Dr. Rothery had given him and he saw one by one of the faces pale. The bleakest among them was Greg and a female he did not know. He found it almost curious that Catherine immediately took hold of the stranger's hand held her as she wept and pulled her into an embrace.

Momentarily distracted Grissom didn't hear the question that was given to him or by whom it was spoken by. He had to turn his attention back to the group hoping the speaker would ask the question again so he knew which one of the guys had spoke without him giving away his hearing problem.

"Grissom, when can we see her?" It was Nick that had spoken. "If she's in ICU is she even allowed visitors?"

"She's allowed one visitor but they prefer family. In time she can see friends and coworkers." Grissom said. "Which reminds me I have to make a call to California." He turned and left for his office leaving behind four gape mouthed men behind. They didn't know how Grissom could be so removed. Perhaps he wasn't, perhaps it was a defense mechanism because they all knew Sara meant something to their boss.

"Oh goddess." Lindy said, her voice thick with lamentation. "She's gotta pull through."

"She will." Catherine tried to sound confident. "She even spoke to me a little before she went back to sleep. The doc is keeping her pretty doped up. You know Sar, she won't give up easily."

Lindy wiped her eyes. "Don't tell her I cried. She'll never let me live it down carrying-on like a baby." the small framed actress tried a touch of joviality to lessen her embarrassment.

Catherine found herself automatically rubbing the smaller blonde's back as she would her own daughter's. "Not to worry, Linds. Your secret is safe with me."

Lindy pulled away slightly and sank on the sofa in Catherine's closet of an office. "She got pretty smacked up huh?"

All Catherine did was nod. It was all she was able to do. She kept seeing that broken body being carried away by the EMT that gave the CSI the shudders, like some sort of 'Spidey-Sense' that all was not well with the man.

"She doesn't need this." Lindy said.

"Like anyone needs to have the life beat out of them." Came an automatic sardonic reply. When in doubt always use sarcasm. It was the Catherine Willows way. Only this time she really didn't want to it was an automatic response. Her own defense mechanism

"It might send her back," Lindy ignored the dig. Being Sidle's friend she was accustomed to barbs being cast about without regard. She knew how to dodge well. "You gotta make sure she doesn't slip back, you being her girl and all."

This had Catherine intrigued. Once more she was in quandary as to Sara's past. "Doesn't slip back. What do you mean? How can I help her if I don't know what 'slipping back means."

There was clear evidence that Lindy had said more than she had meant to. Her mind was retreating and descending into regret for having said anything at all. "I'm just saying her child was a bit rougher than it should have been. Laid back parents can feel a bit dejected when their kid is ten times smarter than they are and gets a full scholarship to Harvard. Science nerd..... gangly socially inept, a cute gapped tooth smile she absolutely hates, and a birth that wasn't exactly ...it wasn't.... look lets just say her mom...well made sure Sara knew she was a mistake. A huge one. The only thing that stopped Sara from meeting the nasty turn of a coat hanger when she was taking nine months lodging inside a womb was that the hippie in her mom believed in Karma."

Catherine winced. She could only look at her folded hands. No wonder Sara never spoke of her parents. Never spoke much of her family then again why would she? Growing up like that, constantly reminded you're a mistake ...sure would give a person a lot of inner-self problems.

"I won't let her fall." Catherine vowed. To herself. To Lindy. To Sara. 'You hear that baby? I won't let you fall.' "Sara wasn't a mistake." Catherine retorted.

"Something we both know, something Sara has learned." Lindy whispered. "I grew up with her, even fell in love wit her even though she's my best friend. She's always had deep feelings for me but I never knew if it was a romantic love or a more sisterly one. We never truly acted upon it. I am glad she has you Catherine. She needs someone empowered that values her as a person for who she is. She needs something like that. Dealing with stuff like her rape, her abuse ...she just needs."

It was then at seeing Catherine's deep paleness that Lindy knew she had blurted out far too much. She didn't know what it was about Sara's lover but Lindy found herself talking to her as if she was a sister, someone fully trustworthy.

"Goddess. Oh shit… fuck me!" Lindy bolted to her feet. "Just forget I said that!"

"Forget!" Catherine was now on her feet as well.

"I didn't mean for all that to come out. Please don't ever say anything about it to her, and for the stars sake don't treat her like she's fragile glass just because you know. She .... Please!"

Catherine was stunned into muteness by that bit of information. Truth be told...the older blonde had suspected as much but never gave voice to it. Now that she had had her suspicions confirmed, Catherine wanted to hold Sara to her, and proclaim that no one would ever harm her like that again. Only Maxwell "Maxiepad" Kingsley had come damn close to doing just that.

"Lindy...I won't tell her. I know you didn't mean for it to slip, but in a way I am glad it did it gives so much clarity to her personality. Her sometimes low self-esteem, her venom for rape cases. She went ballistic over a man who beat and murdered his wife. I get angry too at the violence done to women, but not like Sara. She chases rabbits with rape cases. She hears them scream in her sleep. She never told me, but I once heard her talking to Grissom about it. Those types of cases are devastating to her."

Lindy only nodded.

"There was a case. A young girl aged thirteen was raped repeatedly by her own father, and she became pregnant to a little girl named Brenda. Sara was the one placed in charge of the child's safety and special processing. I think she even visits her even now, nearly a year later."

Lindy again nodded. Clearly she knew a lot more than the titbit she had given Willows.

"There's this child, we're involved with now, my daughter's best friend. She s abused and Sara thinking heavily of becoming the girl's foster parent. One thing is for sure the child needs to be rescued. There was a ghost smile on the older woman's face. "She even looks like Sara....."

Catherine paled once more.

Lindy as if reading the older blonde's thoughts shook her head this time. "No Sara was never impregnated because of her violation, the prick had sense enough to wear a condom." Lindy took a hold of Catherine's arms hugging her. "Catherine you wont say anything, treat her any differently? I ...I betrayed years of secrets in a sheer moment of fucking weakness. I don't know why I trust you so well, but I do and I just felt safe talking, but Sara would be devastated if you knew and it wasn't her that told you."

"Lindy you're stressed about someone that you love, you care about, I understand. Sara might be mad at first but she'd understand because we are a lot alike. I'd be pissed at first but I'd understand after I had a long time to cool off. I won't say or treat Sara differently. Don't worry." Catherine almost felt as if she were talking to her baby sister. It was strange that this new friend gave Catherine the exact same vibe that Nancy did. And it was a vibe she trusted.

Lindy seemed to settle. "So...er..." it was then the younger blonde realized she was still holding the taller woman and she dropped her hands, her face becoming heated and red from the slight blush. "Um thank you." She took a step back and when she spoke again her voice had regained its strength. "So when can I see her? I need to tell the 'gazelle' to get her lazy ass out of bed." The joviality was back. Lindy's defensive mechanism.

"Tomorrow." Catherine answered without having to think. "So you want a beer?"

"Hell yeah." Lindy nodded. "Maybe something stronger." she grinned.

"I have something back at my place. I need to pick up my little girl." Catherine said. "And you can tell me silly childhood stories of what you and what was it you called her 'the gazelle' did as kids."

All the tension wafted off the younger blonde. "Sure. You know that's why I was here in the first place. I came to ask you and Sara out for a drink. That Captain Brass bloke told me that Sara was hurt and taken by the paramedics to the hospital. I wanted to go but then I saw you walk in and figured you had just been there, and I could find out what was going on."

The air took a sombre turn once more, until Catherine placed her arm over Lindy's shoulders. "You already know everything I do now. And we both know Sara Sidle is one stubborn woman. She won't let this beat her." That seemed to be exactly the right thing to say because the Liliputian actress relaxed once again.

In his overstuffed office of pickled pig fetuses, preserved insects including a two headed scorpion and pet tarantulas, Gil Grissom had finally reached "Sidle On Over: Bed and Breakfast" which was an hour and a half outside of San Francisco in Tamales Bay.

Grissom knew very little about Sara's personal life. But he did know Sara was still rebelling partly against her parent's lax approach to social obligations and partly because she was afraid of what she'd find out about herself if she ever slowed down. She was so driven, always chasing rabbits on particular cases. Gil had been worried about her work ethic not that it was bad in fact she was a workaholic. She read Forensic textbooks, listened to a police scanner, always in the lab she hadn't taken a day off in the year and half she worked at the lab. She didn't have a release and she'd burn out soon because of it. Gil gave her three years before she broke.

"Mrs. Sidle?"

"Yes?" the voice that answered was a bit like Sara's only smokier, older.

"I'm Gil Grissom from the Las Vegas Crime Lab, where your daughter works as a forensic scientist, a criminalist."

"I know what she does. What's this about? She get herself in trouble."

Gil didn't know how to answer that or what Mrs Sidle had meant by asking it. "She was attacked whilst on a case and is seriously injured. She's in ICU right now and....."

"Is she expected to live?"

"Yes of course but...." Grissom started but was cut off.

"Good." the answer sent a chill down Grissom's spine. "She won't want nor will she expect 'mommy' to hold her hand. She has friends? She never did growing up always holed up in her room or the barn studying. Always books that girl always trying to show us up by sinking herself into books, chasing rabbits. She chased them all the way to Harvard, just to rub our noses in it because we wouldn't franchise the B & B on the models she built."

Gil bit his lower lip, no wonder Sidle had reacted so venomously when he accused her of doing exactly the same thing. She must have heard it all her young academic career. "Yes he has friends. But a visit from her family...."

"I am not about to drive or fly at a drop of a hat Mr. Gil Grissom just because my daughter was stupid enough to get herself into trouble. Let this be a lesson for her. Maybe it will teach her she needs to stop chasing rabbits and watch the clouds instead. Good night Mr. Gil Grissom."

Grissom stared at the receiver of his phone trying to puzzle out Sara's mother. He hadn't expected such removed chilled answers from the woman. She reacted as if Sara had deliberately set out to be born with all of the right chromosomes to be extremely intelligent. Intelligence was a gift and one must handle it with care and responsibility. Sara had, her mother was still punishing her child because she had made something of herself. Jealousy the CSI reasoned. It was the only answer that made any sense. But why would a mother disregard her child who was so obviously suffering?

What Gil knew of mothers came from his own strong, willful and loving mother, who even deaf had complete control over her sons. And Catherine's love for Lindsey, to who his 2IC thought hung the moon and stars. To Catherine Lindsey was the best thing that had ever happened to her. It surprised him every time he had a case of child abuse that led the child to danger or death. It surprised him Mrs. Sidle wanted nothing to do with Sara.

A lot more of Sara's personality suddenly fell into place with the CSI supervisor. Well if her mother wasn't going to be there for her, Gil promised to himself and to Sidle he'd be there for her. And knowing Sara had the love of Catherine the graying man knew his protégé would have love as well. Her 'family' at the labs would make up for the one that had abandoned her, he'd make sure of it.

Part 21

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