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 22

Voices cascaded over the rise of rolling waves of fog, some disembodied song lingering just on the edge of consciousness. "Mommy" Lindsey's soft voice whispered into Catherine's ear. "Mommy?"

Catherine rolled over, blinked a few times before her sleep fogged mind registered on her daughter. "Sweety?" The blonde used the heels of her hand to push herself up to a sitting position. "What is it? A bad dream?"

"No." the girl denied. "I'm just worried."

Catherine ran her slender fingers through her strawberry blonde hair before she gathered her child into her arms. "About what baby?"

"Sara." came a half muffled reply. Lindsey buried her face into her mother's chest feeling safe and secure.

The mother rubbed her little girl's back kissing the softly scented baby-powder of Lindsey's hair. "Sweetheart, I am worried too. But Sara, she's one tough cookie. She'll pull through sweety. She's in a bit of pain, which is why her doctors have her sedated. She broke her sternum." Catherine put her hand on Lindsey's chest "Its also called a breast bone, it connects the ribcage." she said using the most elementary explanation.

Lindsey winced "Oh man that's gotta hurt. I remember when I fell off the monkey bars and it hurt for a long time, I even lost my wind."

Catherine nodded recalling the same incident. Lindsey had been goofing around on the playground and lost her grip on the monkey bars and fell. "It's a lot like that, only Sara is going to feel like that for months. We have to be gentle around her. She's going to stay here for a while I think after she's released from the hospital. The elevators in her building don't always work."

"But Sara is kinda shy Mom will she go for it?" Lindsey asked innocently enough.

"Good question, with Sara you kinda have to handle her with logic, science and stuff."

"Work the evidence." Lindsey quoted Gil Grissom like a disciple. "She can't fight that."

Catherine threw back her head and laughed. "No babe she really can't."


"So what?"

"MOM!" Lindsey huffed a child's impatient sigh. "When can I see her? Janet wants to see her too."

That struck a chord with Catherine. Little Janet. She still needed to be rescued. Catherine and Sara had both called Child Social Services. Sara had a great deal of positive influence with them ever since Brenda Collins. Sara after all had been the only one Brenda for months reacted positively to. "She can come too, sweety we'll have to set a date when Sara is out of ICU. That should be in a couple of days. Okay?"


"Sweety how is Janet?"

The youngest Willows grew very quiet.

"Lindsey?" Catherine's voice was soft, urging, comforting.

"I think her mother beat her up again." the voice was not that much above a whisper yet it was as a shout in Catherine's ears. "Mommy she can't stay there any more....I am so scared Janet is going to end up dead because her mommy just beats so badly."

Catherine held Lindsey to her. "I am going to fix that. Me and Sara....we're going to make it right. I promise you. I promise Janet."

"Okay." Lindsey knew she could always trust her mother's promises. She laid her head down on her mother's chest as she might have done when she was three. "Mommy, tell Sara hi and I love her okay?"

Catherine nodded, kissing the top of her child head's. "I sure will Linds."

"Oh!" Lindsey jumped up and ran out of her mother's room and into her own. The enormity of pink within seemed as Barbie and the Powder Puff Girls were holding a toy convention. Everywhere one turned you saw the no handed triplet anima creatures with too large eyes or the falsely smiling anorexic lily-white model.

Lindsey flung open her closet door and reached into a plastic bag still containing some of the toys her father had bought her for her birthday. Inside she had found the perfect plush white tiger with blue eyes. She had seen it not at a toy store but at one of those unique boutiques that sell oddities as museum replicas from Egypt, crystal figurines and richly carved wooden animals and wonderfully detailed wild animals. Lindsey fell in love with the fifty dollar animal and wanted. Eddie thought it was pretty cheap compared to the hundreds of dollars he owed every month for child support. He had been late several months running and spending only three hundred dollars on the kid's birthday seemed pretty cheap.

Clutching the tiger Lindsey ran back to her mother's room discovering a rather curious look on her face. "I want to give this to Sara. She likes tigers."

Catherine knew her daughter adored tigers as well, ever since she had seen the white tigers and lion in the Siegfried and Roy magic show at the Mirage for Christmas last year. A present from Sam Braun, as a 'just because he could' gift. The stuffie clutched in her little arms was gorgeous not cutesy, even to Catherine's standards. "Sweety are you sure?"

"Sure. It will make Sara feel better because when she sees it she will think of us and she'll smile," the girl reasoned. "I heard on TV you heal better when you feel happy. Sara will look at the tiger and know we want her to get better and we're thinking of her. And its way better than some dumb card with flowers on it and cursive spelling. Nana 'always' gives me those kinds of cards. They are so lame." Lindsey made a face. She hated cards like that. "But we should get her a silly card. I like those kinds of cards."

Catherine took a hold of her daughter and held her tightly. "You are pretty remarkable. I tell you what, why don't you wait to see Sara and give her the tiger herself. She'd love it far more getting it from you personally. It will make it all the more special to her."

"Cool, okay." Lindsey said.

"Before I have to go to work, we'll go pick out a card together and I'll give that to Sar tonight."

"You're going everyday?"

"Until she gets sick of me, and then I'll still go."

Lindsey seemed to take it all in, evenly. As a child her true concern was her good buddy Sara the Spider-slayer was going to be okay. Her other concern lay deeply with another lost spirit, her dear friend Janet. Sara couldn't help her now, but the child knew her mother would keep her word.

Three days had slipped by, before Sara was transferred out of ICU and into her own room. Rothery had ordered a private room, despite the fact it was little more than a closet it was secure. The small doctor would not relinquish the care of her patient to another doctor. As Chief of the Surgery Rothery had that privilege.

Sara was still heavily medicated but she was conscience perhaps not completely lucid but she was awake enough at times to receive visitors. Slurping down blue jello as it was one of the few things she could keep down, Sara was actually feeling a bit human at the moment.

"You look like shit." Lindy said before kissing Sara on the forehead not so sure that even that bit of flesh was unharmed. "But you're alive, so you're gorgeous."

Sara half smirked. "Yeah, gee thanks. Kinda feels like back home, old school days."

Lindy found her hands fascinating. "That bad huh?"

Sara shrugged. "At least I know what I can expect for the next couple of weeks." The voice was low like velvet drug over gravel, analgesic-laced and laden with morose that comes with memories of angst.

"It's better, I think," the stage performer said.

"Oh? How so?"

"You've got that cute blonde in your corner this time. This time its hell of a lot of pain but no fear. So its gotta' be better right?" Lindy took Sara's free hand that wasn't holding the spoon.

"You're the only one," Sara pulled her hand away, "that knows. Laura, after her..."

"I was there most of the time, hell Sara I saw you afterwards. I never understood you and that trip to boys' town. Magnus Lehnsherr.....wasn't that his name? What he did to you I am so sorry Sara... God he was in my troupe....I am so sorry I should have known better. What he did to you....." Lindy sighed stopping what she was going to say. All she could see was Sara beaten several times over and over, first with Laura Sidle and then with Magnus.

"Can we not talk about this?" the investigator growled. Sara's eyes fell to the half eaten cup of blue jello. She couldn't help but think of something safe, sanguine sapphire... the color of Catherine's eyes. "Look what happened to me has nothing to do with Laura or that prick. The first time I fell out of a tree and had a professor land on me. The second time, the owner of the hell hound who treed me in the first place, jumped me." Sara took a breath. "It had nothing to do with me being...being a mistake or a terrified virgin wanting to wait."

Sara turned her head, her eyes glued on the blue jello. "I am a damn good CSI, Linds. My mother and Magnus might have thought I was a lousy excuse for a daughter or girlfriend. Hell they let me know it. I am..." Sara paused once more, whatever she was going to say was halted as she changed her mind. "That's done and over with. But I have my work. I am good at it. I see people everyday on the worst day of their lives, and I chase the truth. I am the victims' last voice."

Lindy took her friend's hand into her own smaller one. "Done and over with," she repeated. Inwardly the young woman winced for the accidental betrayal of her word. It still troubled the actress as to why she told Catherine as much as she had. Lindy had known a few of Sara's ex's and none of them had ever gotten out of her what that blonde had. Lindy knew only that she related to her, on some phantom level of trust. "So ...when do you get to blow this popsicle stand?"

Sara was grateful for the switch of subjects. "A few days I think. My doc... a hard case, but a good one. She says I can't leave until I can sit up with out grunting and hissing out curses in pain."

"You! Admitting to pain? Sara Sidle? Get out of here."

"Bite me." Sara growled though her smile was anything but malevolent.

"Would, but you got a cute blonde to do that now." Lindy smirked.

Sara smiled with that last comment. "Its new.... we're still feeling each other out. Our relationship was a bit rocky when we first met, we got into spats and stuff. We're a lot alike, she's smart funny, wicked since of humor and strong. She commands a room when she enters and knows it. She doesn't take any crap from powerful jerks who are used to giving it all day."

Lindy had heard enough. The smaller woman heard only the 'spats, the rocky start'. 'Power? Fighting? Oh god Sara, don't go down that path again...you deserve so much more. Come on kid you're a fucking genius ... to fucking think I fell into trusting that woman.'

"You said rocky? How rocky Sara? I know you've been alone for a while but. Sar, just don't fall for...are you really in the hospital because some perp hit you?"

For a moment Sara, just stared wide eyed at Lindy. Stymied bewilderment flashed across her face. "What you think Catherine did this?"

"Laura hurt you, made you think the only type of attention you deserved was cruel and abusive. God Sara, I remember the bloody backs, and welts across your legs. Magnus did the same. He made you feel like shit because you're a lesbian. And when he was done beating you he raped you because you wouldn't cross the line and sleep with the prick. I was there to help you pick up the pieces of your life. I was not going to see you sink into hate Sara mode. Now... Sar, it follows pattern. You know..."

"Lindy!" Sara yelped then groaned as she felt her chest screaming at her in viral pain. The excitement of the conversation, rushed through her body waking all the agonized muscles and tormented bones. Eyes closed, teeth gritted Sara rode the wave. Unfortunately Lindy took it to mean her dearest friend was swallowing the pain of truth.

"Sara, I love you, always have. You don't need to hang onto someone because they give you attention. You want that.... fine I'll give you all the attention you want. We'll cross the line of dearest friend and be lovers. Okay? Just don't... don't do this..."

"Lindy!" Sara groaned again trying to push past the pain of her sternum and get through her thick headed friend.

"What's going on?" Catherine said immediately as she entered Sara's room.

"That's what I like to know!" scolded Dr. Rothery.

Lindy whirled around glaring at Catherine. "YOU!"

"Lindy!" Sara gasped. "She's not ..she didn't...."

Rothery grabbed both shoulders of Lindy and Catherine and with the strength that belied her tiny stature pushed both woman out of Sara's room. "You're in a hospital for crying out loud. Act like it or go away!" she snarled before she returned to her patient's room and closed the door.

"What the hell is your problem, lady?" Catherine demanded, once they were alone in the hallway.

"You!" Lindy snapped. "Go near Sara again, I'll kill you. I don't care if they give me the needle, the chair or they hang me. I'll kill you." Lindy's face had become scarlet red with rage. Her fists clenched so tightly at her sides the knuckles had turned white, she was fortunate not to have broken the skin. "Don't fuck with me Willows, I figured it out. Sar was always good at making things up to cover up the beatings. But I've known her most of her life... and she's hiding something. You did that to her and I'm going to the cops. You might be CSI, but there is always evidence, Sara taught me that."

Catherine was absolutely dumbfounded. She couldn't form the words to defend herself, nor berate the smaller blonde.

"And if the cops wont do jack shit, I have connections that can. My pops owes me a favor. I guarantee you don't fuck around with that power, and for once I'll use it."

That snapped Catherine out of her stupor. Being taller and ten pounds heavier she snagged the lithe actress by the shirt and dragged her into an adjacent room that was empty. With the door closed she could speak with the riled raving woman without disruptions.

"You want to tell me why you're threatening my life?" Catherine demanded.

"You have to ask? God give me a little credit, I am not a moron! And the innocent act just pisses me off." Lindy snarled. "You won't be able to hide for long. Sara tried to deny it, but I figured it out."

"What in the hell are you talking about?" Catherine was becoming agitated. "Look, I am sorry you missed your chance with her, but she's with me...."

"You are so stupid to think I am jealous!" Lindy laughed dryly. "Sar never went for stupid blondes before, guess she started now."

That nearly severed all of Catherine's tightly reigned reserve. "Look you have some issues you need to work through. Whatever bug crawled up your ass you better start thinking before you threaten me. You think you can call on daddy and pull some marker to get rid of me; you've got another thing coming, little girl. I don't care who your father is, hell I don't even know who he is. And another thing, you don't EVER threaten me!"

"I do where Sara is concerned." Lindy wasn't backing down nor was she intimidated.

Catherine held up her hands, her breath exhaling in a long ragged wind, she had to get control of the conversation such as it was. Something had set Lindy off and the CSI in Catherine wanted to know what it was. "Okay just what the hell are you talking about. Sara...what?"

"Okay just for you Blondie, I'll dumb it down for you. You beat Sara. Sara in hospital. Sara lies about it, says a perp did it to her. I wiggled the truth from her. She pretty much admitted it. Only when she tried she was crying. I trusted you! I told you about her past ......you know...god they say battered kids fall for abusive partners.... you're fucking whore to ...'

"That is enough!" Catherine ordered. "First, I never hurt Sara like that. Not ever and I would never. WE got into rows, yeah. A few nasty words slung back and forth. And I regret them. So does she. I saw the pain in her eyes all the times we had our spats, or I said something. God you have no idea how that _expression haunts me. She says so much with her eyes, even if she never says things aloud. Sara is guarded but she has deep emotions. And not once have I ever been tempted to strike at her. And it WAS a perp that put her in here. Don't believe me fine. YOU follow the evidence. There's an interrogation tape you can watch and see for yourself that she was beaten by some asshole." Catherine drew in a steady breath. "Now you want to talk civilly or should we start screaming at each other like bitches on the warpath?"

Lindy ground her teeth taking in the words of the taller blonde. She wanted to believe her. For Sara's sake she wanted this to be the truth. But where her beloved friend was concerned. She could never be too careful. "I grew up seeing her beaten. She's in there now, a victim of a beating and this isn't the first time. She denies you touched her. But come on that's a old crock of shit, a woman is beaten and comes up with some excuse. Yeah, I assumed you did it.... but I would rather look like an arse than be right."

Having just a small glimpse of what Sara had lived through when she was a child and young teenager, knowing she was violated later, Catherine couldn't fault Lindy from becoming a pitbull and attacking on sight. Catherine had been guilty of such a thing in her past, in almost identical fashion. Go for the throat, ask questions later. Of course that was before Willows had become a CSI, and even now and then, Catherine was honest with herself she tended to go high and to the right at times. Especially when it came to cases with kids.

"You look like an arse." Catherine said in answer.

Lindy was mute for a moment. Then: "I want to see the statement and video feed that shows the truth. If I'm going to look like an arse I'm going all the way."

Catherine was about to speak when the door opened revealing a very livid Dr. Rothery. "You're both out. I had to sedate Sara, she was in a great deal of pain, she didn't need this added aggravation. She's sleeping now, peacefully and without pain. I had to boost the meds. You want to behave like spoiled snotty brats in my hospital you won't be welcomed back. Got that?"

Both blondes had the decency to look chastised.

"Can I see her?" Catherine whispered.

Rothery was about to say no. But the sorrow in the tall blonde's eyes made her change her mind.

"For a few minutes, only. Then you have to go. I want Sara to heal and she can't do that if her family is bickering over her. Understood?"

Again the chastised _expression was evident in the women's eyes. Lindy had felt more than terrible for the agony she might have brought her beloved friend. But if she was right, if Sara was a victim of abuse, rather that burst of pain than a life of suffering. "I'm sorry." this was said to the lilliputian physician but not Catherine. "I just want her safe, I didn't mean to hurt her or disturb anyone else. I have to make sure she's okay."

"I understand your position, I respect it, but sound off like that again and the only way you can come back into my hospital is if you need help." Rothery's voice though compassionate was firm, strong, holds-no-bars dominating. And it was evidently clear that she would not tolerate any disruption in her infirmary.

Catherine had been granted only a few moments time with her Sara. Enough to kiss her girl's forehead, stroke her cheek, whispering her love.

"You've got a pretty dynamic friend, Sara. She's pretty protective of you. You're lucky. I wanted to snarl back at her, but I know I do exactly the same thing. Hell say the same words. I do love you, Sar." Once more she laid a kiss upon lover, save this time it wasn't on the forehead it was upon her lips. Before she left, Catherine would lay the silly Shoe-box greeting card Lindsey had picked out upon the wheeled tray, so that when Sara opened her eyes it would be one of the first things she saw.

"I'm so sorry you were hurt so badly. Baby I am so sorry. Eddy..he was an arse and yeah he hit me a few times, but nothing like what happened to you. Baby... I am going to protect you. Hell you've got Lindy to protect you too, that little spitfire. She tears right into her enemies doesn't she? I'm glad she's on your side babe. I won't let you be hurt again. Never like that again. Not ever."

Sara opened her eyes after a time that was neither short nor long but had merely continued until a new sensation occurred, hands tugged at her and someone wanted something of her. The hands guided her when she listlessly responded to the dual pressure. She moved as long as someone wanted her to, stopped when the pressure lessened, sat passive and empty of thought while her shoes, jacket, and belt were removed and her shirt pulled free. When she was tipped to lean against something she knew only as hot and alive. A larger contact gathered her in and surrounded her.

If she was capable of wishing she would have wished the contact would release her into the drifting emptiness that was almost like peace. But it did not. So she endured it, with no will do otherwise. The voices withered went away or she ceased to be aware of them. But the contact remained, tethering her to consciousness that something existed beyond the vague dimensions of her retreat. White shock light, black quiet light, stabbing pain. rippling pain.

Taking, forcing, ripping, stealing, nothing… nothing... discarded, torn... taking... fear.. terror… Words... so many words... skin to skin, bone to bone... choking... gasping… Reluctantly Sara found herself rousing to the present moment it felt like rising through deep cold water as the dead were said to rise. Her eyes blinked, and she contemplated the newest thing that had registered in her mind.

There was a voice, humming something simple and slow. Both music and voice. Undemanding as air. The contact seeped in like quiet. Something... pain... tearing, ripping, pressure, force. Shock. Hands. The presence on shoulders, her pelvis. Force. White light and black light. Shades of reds. Warmth... and cold spilling from her. After another timeless time her knees drew up and she curled into herself, feeling very small. The contact scorned and forced her away. The humming continued as if had always been and always would be a condition of her existence.

The only sound in that dark velvet room, was a small whimper.

Part 23

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