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 24

The sights and sounds, the smells of hospitals tended to bring to the surface carefully guarded memories. The great happiness carried to her by friends would place Sara in the lee of surfacing recollection of the past. Past the title she had been known as, the girl whose father was stabbed to death by her mother. With a stifled cry, she felt herself being pulled into the regresses of a life of once dark time.

Laura coughed, her lungs raw, the very motion caused a wave of nausea to wash over her. Matt hoisted the tall brunette up by the throat dangling her over the floor, before he flung her across the room, she hit hard against the far wall before she crumbed to the floor as a puppet with its strings cut. "I am telling you the truth!" Laura roared from a parched throat. She climbed to her feet using the wall to support her lithe broken frame. "It's the truth."

"You lie again woman! Now tell the truth you whore! Where the hell did you put the stash!" Matt's shrill voice cut as sharp to the small child's sharp ears as any of the blows the former hippie had dealt her mother. Holding onto walls where they formed a corner, Laura managed to remain on her feet.

"Get me the bag, Sara, fill it with the oranges." Matt Sidle ordered not turning his vile gaze form his wife.

"No!" She shook her young sable head. " No! I wont." Sara gave a look to her mother who tries so hard to remain on her feet. "I said get the bag!" Matt towered over the small child. She was only six years old and yet her eyes five times that age. "You're a smart girl Sara....do as you're told. Get the bag."

"NO!" Sara couldn't bare the thought of her mother now so helpless, so terrorized and beaten.

Yes, Laura sometimes hurt her, but only when she was drunk. So drunk Mom didn't know what she was doing. As long as Sara remained quiet, practically invisible Laura left her alone. Matt was another story. Since before she could remember, Matt was angry. Always wrathful. Anything could and would set him off. Sara would try to avoid him as much as possible, but that wasn't always so.

The next moment, Sara was staggering backward, her face burning from the force of Matt's slap. Colliding with the side of the wall, she found her self abruptly sitting back down. "You were given an order little girl you will obey it instantly," said the enraged man his skin darkening with anger.

Too shocked by the torment and the speed with which Matt had moved to answer the small girl merely nodded. Pain exploded at the base of her scull coursing down her spine then out to her limbs. As the spasms racked her body, she yowled in fear and shock. She was falling but back arched and limbs rigid, she was unable to move to save herself. She slammed to the floor, the impact knocking any remaining from her lungs. Wave upon wave of fiery agony surged through her body as she lay there unable to gasp for breath, it stopped and her body went limp. But the pain remained. Sara tried to speak but her throat was so dry and sore that she began to cough, sending fresh agony lancing through her body. When the coughing ceased, she pushed herself up on her hands until her head and chest were clearer of the floor. Brown eyes regarded her dispassionately.

"You will learn to listen and obey. You were born a girl that means you are owned. You are less than nothing. When you grow up, you'll have to find a man willing to take you in. You will learn your place little girl. You're so smart why haven't you leaned that yet?"

Sara struggled to stand once more using the corner of the wall to pull herself up as she had seen the hand of her tormentor go for her wrist, he twisted and yanking. Sara yelped, crying hard, unable to focus she fell but the pain stayed with her. When the twisting finally stopped with a loud pop, she lay there panting, waiting for the agony to subside, mercifully, she passed out.

Pain was the first thing she was aware of when she came to. Sara tried to open her eyes, panicking until she remembered she'd been hit by Matt. He had backhanded her, the blow had been hard enough to send her spiraling across the room, the former hippie, had struck another blow at the side of her head. His next blow sent her staggering across the autoimmune near one of the chairs. She landed unconscious heap. Blood seeped slowly from the cut of her rapidly swelling eye.

Putting a hand experimentally up to her face, Sara gently probed the blood-encrusted cut on her forehead and the puffy eyes beneath it. No wonder she couldn't open it. Licking her fingers, she gently eased the eyelashes apart and attempted to open her eyes again. Only a crack, but it was enough. She could still see.

Sara tried moving then; unable to stop a groan escaping her as she pulled herself free from the tangle of bedding she had been thrown. Landing on hands and knees, she collapsed to the floor, every muscle and joint a jangle of pain.

It would be a time later when she heard grunting and soft whimpers. Using the wall to support her body once more, Sara slid along its surface going for the sound. There was something deep down in the human heart that tells you when you hear a sound you already know why it is made and what it is coming from. There is another aspect of the human mind that thinks nothing could be so terrible and real.

And when you see it, it always manages to shock and stun. She saw her mother bend over on a counter, her father forcing himself from behind. Laura couldn't fight back, her hands were tied and fastened to the thick oaken post of the minnie bar. Sometimes they played games like this, sometimes it wasn't a game. Sara turned away closing her eyes wincing. And covering her ears so she couldn't hear the sounds.

Something in the sight, told Sara the rapist that made her mother pregnant was no stranger, it had been Matt, all along. But Sara was never to speak of it, instead she had to play her mother's game. The rapist wasn't a stranger, and made Sara, an unwanted get. Matt had been outraged when Laura had become pregnant and that outrage lasted years.

Sara learned at an early age how to make herself into nothing, fade from the mind. Sometimes it worked so well they would forget about her for weeks. She would be able to scrounge for food, order take out, and hide. Sometimes she wasn't fast enough to get away, fast enough to hid and be forgotten about.

"Love is a powerful thing. See that is what happened here. I refuse....I wont live without you, my Laura..." Kneeled by the painting sweaty young brunette woman his voice husky from his lust. His hand brushed the mattered hair away from her face almost tenderly. "You force me, Laura. You don't actually think I want to hurt you, do you? No...I don't, but you force me you hurt you, Laura. You force my hand." His voice contained sympathy of pure falseness. He untied the woman leaving her in the kitchen. "I need sometime....." He would turn and trod into the hallway finding Sara there crouched with her hands over her little ears.

In the hall Sara shivered under the touch of their tormenter, she wanted the floor to open up and swallow her whole. The blood and sweat was nothing in comparison to Matt's hand upon her, wherever the hand touched, Sara felt soiled and befouled. "You better start listening. You think you're too smart for this family? You're lucky you have us. Have 'me' to take care of you. Maybe you should learn a lesson of my generosity. And you're learn to be grateful. Get up!"

In her weakened condition, her legs buckled from under her, it hurt too much to walk, to move. Disgusted by the weakness, Matt's inpatients overwhelmed him and he moved to hoist Sara by her elbows, but she yowled in pain, Matt ignored her pleas as he half carried her, half dragged her down the hall. She was used to taunts she had been since she was four, Sara didn't bother answering the jeers either her parents played at her anymore. Especially her father's. What was left? Matt had beaten everything she had out of her.

"With school out, you're going to be underfoot all the time. Life was pretty good before you came along. I need quality time with my wife, you little get. I think you need some time to think about your disobedience."

"I can go to Grandma's..." Sara half offered. "Or..or.. Mark's apartment....I can stay with..I wont be in the way there."

"If I want your opinion, I'll ask for it, so shut the fuck up." Matt growled. "Besides my son doesn't want a worthless too smart ugly girl around him anymore than I do."

The pastel painted halls erupted into ear-pricing screams. He barely finished speaking before the pain started again. Sara felt disembodied, unable to concentrate on what the man was saying as her hearing and consciousness kept fading in and out. "You're a smart girl you figure away out." Matt's voice lingered in the small ears.

"You are a child, an unwanted get. Gets don't have rights, they have privileges. Privileges that can be given or taken away. Take a look at your magnificent quarters, complete with a toilet, and a sink. You have water, a cot and even blanket. These are privileges. Feel fortunate that you have them." Matt's voice was filled with saccharin. "I think you learned what happens when you ignore my requests. I can show mercy Sara-girl. I am not an unkind man. Surly an very smart little girl like yourself can understand." Matt leaned in close allowing Sara to smell the sweet-decay of bad teeth, beer, grass and the lingering musk of sex. He clenched her face in his large paws, squeezing until Sara believed her jaw would shatter. "If you're good, I might remember to feed you." His words lingered as he closed and locked the door to the cellar.

Physical pain was not the only agony she had felt in the four days she had, had nothing to eat, only small glasses of water that were stale and lukewarm, but to her they tasted as sweet as the freshest lemonade. She could feel the walls of her stomach closing in on her. The effects of her torture and the lack of food was beginning to tear at her. Sara was losing all hold of her strength. The child sat in the corner of her "room" her knees drawn up to her chest her arms folded atop of them making a pillow for her head, waiting to die.

Matt would leave her in the cellar of the barn as it suited him to forget he had a child. It was nearly the same every Summer. Sara loathed the summers, dreaded them. She only had to put up the occasional drunk beatings of her mother, most of the time. Sara watched as Matt took what ever frustration he held out on Laura.

Laura, victimized and terrorized had grown bold. Blood spatters on the wall, the floors. Laura would strike back strike Matt down with bats, cast iron pans whatever she could get her hands on. Or she would get Matt so high he would forget his anger and take Laura wherever they happened to be. There were such times, Laura had forgotten she had a child that had suffered as much as she had.

Sara's mind thinking of all the words, Matt had slung at her. She couldn't get the one phrase out of her mind, that she was less than nothing. 'I can't be less than nothing. There is nothing less than nothing. If there was something less than nothing, then nothing would be something. But nothing is nothing and so there is no such thing as less then nothing.' Her mind drifted as her pain and fear had taken their toll.

She tried to steady her breathing; she knew that she had suffered broken ribs. Last night she had a temperature, she was positive that something was very, very wrong within her. She was bleeding internally she would not have long. If she didn't have medical attention soon she would become poisoned by her own blood. After that . . . three days maybe.

'Good. It wont be long now . . .I dying . . . not fast enough . . .' Sara, held her damaged side, cursing her weakness, her agony, she couldn't move, she could scarily breath. Each breath was a new definition of pain and suffrage.

One memory fogs into another. One day of pain always melded into another, until there was only a long continuous line of faded memories. When the door opened to the cellar several day latter, Sara titled her head up, her mind foggily wondering what new pain would she be introduced to today.

"You should be indebted to me little Get! I gave you a hunger. You can survive a long time on hatred. I gave you that hatred. Hate me but be honest about it." Matt leered closer to his captive. "Free will is a folly, lies that leaches the flow of real life. You and your mother are repugnant. Your little girl altruism is worth nothing. Remember your rage when you saw your mother's blood. When you saw your blood. I gave you the will to survive. I only gave you the will to live. You owe me."

Sara could only nodded. His words little more than a buzz in her ears, it had been difficult to concentrate on their meanings. All she could think of was the defiant words."I can't be less than nothing. There is no such thing as less than nothing."

"What did you say?" Matt growled.

"Nothing." Sara answered. "Less than nothing."

He smiled, thinking he had taught this scrawny child her place in life. "That's right you're less than nothing."

"No such thing as less than nothing. You said think on what you told me. I did. There is no such thing as less than nothing. I can't be less than nothing. So I am something."

Matt's backhanded blow came so fast Sara didn't have time to doge, the strike hit her along side her head sending her to the floor one more. She felt her lungs burn as she began to cough uncontrollably. Each movement made her ribs scream out in pure white agony, she began to cough up blood.

Eventually she found the strength to lift an arm to try and fend off the blows.

"Get up!" Matt growled. "Little scab of a dog. I said get up!"

Sara shook her head. "I can't."

"Never tell me you can't do something!" Matt screamed at her. "You will do what ever I tell you to do, when I tell you to do it! Understand!?"

Sara didn't say a word. She simply let the world spin around her until she felt like vomiting. She suppressed the urge, knowing, fearing the pain that would follow if she did. Her breath was forced out in a grunt of pain.

"I asked you a question!" Matt approached her.

The child remained silent, aware that the level of pain she was suffering was rising beyond her ability to cope and it was making her incautious. She was tired, deadly tired. She blinked her puffy swollen eyes repeatedly. Trying to work the grit from her eyes. The room was beginning to take on a surreal glow.

"Answer the god damn question!"

Sara tried not to cause herself more pain by gasping for the air she needed. "Yesss. I understand."

"Good girl. I guess you need food. I'll let your mother fix you something to eat." Matt closed the door again, leaving Sara in the dark and dampness of the cellar.

Sara waited in anticipation for the first real meal she had in nearly ten days of her imprisonment, five of those days had been kept in constant torture. She knew that a soul could last only three weeks tops without food. She had learned this on National Geographic special about hostages.

Some time latter the door opened and Laura came in carrying a bowl of chicken soup and a slice of bread and a glass of water. "You better eat real slow or you'll get sick."

Sara nodded trying to slow down her eating, but it was so hard. So very hard not to gobble the food.

"Look Sara while you were away...Matt and I made some peace." Laura's voice was surreally tender. " He said he'll cut down on the drinking, and the coke. And he going to try and be patient with you. You have to watch your mouth around him. He's only...look Sara, he's going through a rough time right now. Losing his job and everything, and the Bed and Breakfast we're trying to start isn't taking off as it should. Now the pigs are out here again. You have to keep quiet, understand?"

Sara nodded quickly too afraid to not give an answer. "Yes."

"They're trying to bust him for possession. They are always after us for the grass. Keep you're mouth shut and you can get out of here.... Look I even brought you a couple of books and a flashlight to read by. Now just keep quiet. Matt told them you're away at summer camp. You know how mad he can be if you disobey him. Just do what you're told."

Sara's lackluster eyes watched her mother, and managed to nod again. She wanted to be held. To be comforted. Told she was right there was no such thing as less than nothing. That she was something. That she mattered. That she was loved. She wanted to be wanted.

Tears slid down her eyes as she saw her last chance of escape leave through the cellar door, the sound of the paddle-lock and the retreating sounds of footfalls. She sat curled on the cot, the tears grew into sobs. She drew her legs up under her chin, her arms bruised and battered pulled around the already long limbs and her head bent as the sobs wracked her body.

The constant attacks, would lessen her survival. A wave of nausea and dizziness swept through her, a reaction to the pain she's suffered. Her stomach began to convulse and she sat up abruptly, making her pounding head throb even more. She moved to fall from the cot to her knees onto the floor; the bruised and broken ribs jarred her into immobility. For several minutes her stomach convulsed each time stopping just short of throwing up its meager contents. Gradually the seizures stopped and she leaned against the cold wall of her cell, gasping.

She blinked, grunting with each breath. The pain was constantly stabbing her insides now. Each breath she took agony. "Oh. . .God . . Mommy....it hurts. . ." The voice of a child to her mother. "Let me die, Oh god. . . please. . ." The chilled emptiness of her cellar chamber was her only answer. The pain was beginning to subside at last, and as she slowly pushed herself upright on her still shaking limbs, Pain gripped her again, felling her to the floor. Her nerves already inflamed by the previous punishment, this time it felt a thousand times worse. She lay there, keening her agony, unable to stop because somehow it helped lessen the pain. Finally it ceased.

Sara berated herself for the inability to fight, for her weakness, but the act of proper nourishment had taken its toll. She looked gaunt and wraith like. No amount of healing could repair the after affects of the starvation. In her near two week incarceration Sara had, had one meal and that meager, even by squatter standards. She was fortunate to be alive. She needed fluids and food if she could eat. She needed true rest.

Sara thought of her future. And it was bleak, and beyond hope. What was the body but bone and tissue? It wasn't the soul. Once her spirit was gone, the only thing left was a shell. It didn't matter what happened after that, it never would.

Laura became terrified of her husband, sometimes to escape and forget she smoked cannabis, or ate mushrooms, did peyote and at times hard it was heroin. When her mother was high, she was almost tender and loving as a mother should be. Sara would try and help her mother, and care for her. The child would make sure Laura ate, and had plenty of water and she would help heal the wounds as Laura's own body bore lashings Matt had given her. Then there were the hidden bruises caused by oranges in a towel carried in a pillow case. They would leave no visible marks, Sara herself had been victimized by 'The Bag.' Most of the time Matt tended to be careful with his 'punishments'. The classic blanket party, was his favorite.

Sometimes to forget the abuse of herself and her daughter, Laura drank. The more she drank the more her anger became twisted and turned toward a new target. No, not Matt but one she had begun to blame for her beatings, Sara. And when that happened it wasn't 'The Bag,' it was the 'Judge.' that came to touch her young flesh.

Of course there were countless bouts of shouting, fighting and yelling. And far too many trips to the hospitals, and clinics never the same one twice in a row. One of the few things Sara would recall as an adult would be the fighting, the yelling, all the trips hospital. There was so much Sara would try to forget, so much she wanted to. So much she never could.

It had been nearly four months since Sara had been incarcerated in the cellar, she was back to school and so she was never truly on Matt's mind then, Laura was actually more likely to feel his fists or his unwanted lustful touch.

Sara never understood while during the school year she was safer from Matt than her mother. Matt was actually nice to Sara during the school year, she was even allowed to join a science club and of course she was the classic science nerd. During the school months the shouting, yelling fighting were directed always to Laura, and in turn Laura directed them against Sara.

No one noticed the gauntness of her frame, too tall, always plan, ugly if she were to believe Matt's words. But Sara had stopped believing what he a said when at six, she had reasoned there was no such thing as less than nothing. She just took her hits, ate when she could and was allowed to, and looked forward to the day when she could leave and go to Harvard; a dream of hers since Sara was young. A dream she had never let go of.

To a child of four now fifteen, all Sara had ever known was anger, fighting and yelling. Some years worse than others. She had always assumed this was the way things were, everywhere. Father's hurt their wives, hated their children and beat them. Mother's who didn't want to have a child and had one anyway hurt their unwanted get. This was the way things were, would always be.

Sara believed the only way she could live, was inside her own head, pulling away from everyone and everything but science and math. Science and math always told the truth, always where there and reliable. Mathematics never hurt anyone. Science was true. Sara found a home in their arms. She was either teased for being a science nerd or ignored and deemed unimportant. No one really missed her when she was absent at school for days at a time, because of some injuries she had been given by Matt, or Laura caused her to be laid up at home, the hospital or the cellar.

There was images too, disjointed memories flickered and warped as they paraded frequently across her consciousness, nightmares that would never let go of her. Even now Sara was haunted by the malice of her parents, of her father's anger, and her mother's rage. There was the smell that would always linger, always be there in the back of her throat.

Downing his tenth bottle of booze that night hadn't done Matt any favors. He would hold onto the wall for support, unable to make it out doors or to the bathroom. His stomach heaved, retching the contents of hamburger and beer on the titled floor of the hallway between the kitchen and livingroom.

"What'd you look'n at little get?" he sneered at Sara. "Come to laugh at your old man?" he laughed. A hoarse sort of sound preluding to another bout of vomiting. Frothy strings of spittle trailed from his mouth.

Sara watched as Matt staggered up right a bottle of Budweiser in his hand. Wiping his mouth with his sleeve. He teetered toward her, something in his eyes, terrified Sara. "You want to know something Get? You're mother's a tamp...she fucks around a lot, she likes being fucked by several men at the same time. She's good at it to." He coughed. "She likes it rough"

Sara tried to ignore his words. She had thought him always to lie, but still his words burned in her mind. "There were three of us that night she got you in her belly. I was one of 'em." he coughed before taking a swig of his beer. "Right up the arsehole. I planted my little solders there and guess they did their job because you showed up."

"I knew you were my father." Sara growled. "See, when I look in the mirror those eyes that look back at me aren't her eyes. They're yours."

Matt laughed. "Always too smart for your own fucking good. You're even becoming pretty. You a good little fuck too?"

He looked at her, spat on the floor a bit of bile still caught in his throat. He grabbed her arm twisting it as he had when she was younger. Sara tried to turn away, to brake free, but Matt flung her hard against the wall. "You're still less than nothing. You have courage though. But so does a dog. " he chuckled. "Woof...Woof..woof." he mocked. "The only thing that will shank your scrawny ass is a dog." He pushed away from the wall, leaving Sara standing there still in her own stunned fog. He was still laughing when he felt a bat strike him across the face.

"What the hell!" he staggered back wards into Sara knocking her into a the wall, yet again.

Laura's blood was up and there was nothing about her that night that looked human. She lifted her voice into a scream.

Sara pushed up from under her father's body in tangle of legs and arms. Matt managed to find his feet by shoving the girl a second time out of irritation. The shove was so powerful it had sent Sara spiraling back against the glass hutch in the hall and through it, with an explosion of wood, glass and nicknacks

Although the concussion had nearly knocked Sara into a near comatose, the girl felt the tremendous jolt of her crash landing on the floor from her collision with the armoire. The jarring impact knocked the breath from her lungs and sent shock waves racing through her entire body.

Sara staggered. She reeled. Firm footing eluded her. Around her the world was unfolding, for a moment she thought she was blacking out. Her hands bloody from the fall and the fallout of glass shards as she tried to shield herself from the sharp rain.

Sara blinked groggily and took several deep ragged breaths. The back of her head thundered hard as if she not her father had been hit in the face with the bat. A concussion she knew that was why the world was blinking in and out all around her like some frame of her life was stuck in strobe lighting.

Overcoming her horrified paralysis, the terrified girl desperately groped for a purchase on the wall, trying to peel her way across the hall before her mother came for her. Swallow back pain and fear she staggered away as her mother surged toward her. Sara flinched in anticipation of slashing blades, then stiffened as a deafening burst of blood splattered across her face and the dingy walls.

Cerotic blood sprayed along the walls, and Laura, the second stab sliced into the man's chest, directly into his heart. The knife raised cast off from the blade became red paint, the tang of iron filled Sara's nostrils, until it was the only thing she could smell.

Laura moved with preternatural speed, so quickly that she appeared to be nothing but a blur of motion. Unsheathing her knife again and again in the cavity that was Matt Sidle. Bits of flesh and muscle clung to the blade of Laura's knife. Her face, shirt front and hair became coated in red ichor.

Sara's beleaguered awareness registered the screech of her mother, the sickening slurp of meat against mettle. There was so much blood, so much. It pooled a thickening red puddle around the body seeping its way slowly to Sara. Her eyes widened as she saw the body convulse. Her mind too young to register the movement as human death throws. She had only ever known beheaded chickens to flop around like that.

Blood everywhere.

Coating so much of the walls, the floor, Laura.

Sara. Iron in the air so thick it was the only smell in existence. And darkness swirled.

The girl turned her head from the mutilated body, the image of her mother to see a young cop puking. She had no idea how much time had elapsed from the murder of her father to the sound of someone retching.

"He-ey there...My name is Samantha Tapping, okay?" A young woman crouched near the girl. "It's okay, you're going to be safe. You're safe now. Just take my hand okay?"

Sara looked at the hand reaching for her, a little shocked to see anyone offering her kindness. "Safe, is a made-up place." Sara whispered. "I had a teacher once who said I was going to be safe. But they fired her from the school and made her go away. Safe is not real."

"Not anymore, Little one. I'm going to make sure you're safe okay? You're very brave." blonde woman smiled warmly, kindly.

Sara nodded and clutched the hand offered to her, she would never let go. "He's dead." Sara said looking at the carcass of what was once her father.

"I know." Tapping said softly. "But you are going to be safe."

"My mother stabbed him." Sara commented in the honesty that comes with shock.

"I know that too, Little one." The young blonde woman continued to lead Sara from the house, past the black and whites, the flashing lights on their roofs, past the young cop who was still vomiting. Past the image of her mother being placed in the back of a squad car.

"Will it come off?" Sara looked up into large blue eyes.

"What?" This confused Tapping but she wasn't angry because of the confusion.

"The blood? Will it come off?" Sara rubbed her hands feeling the tackiness sticking to her like glue. "Does it ever come off?"

Part 25

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