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 25

"Well I look like an arse." Lindy admitted looking at the video feed of the interrogation of Maxwell Kingsley. "Like I said, better that than right."

Catherine turned to the smaller blonde, who was perhaps the only one close to Sara to know all her secrets. A part of her was jealous over the closeness this small woman had with Sara. She couldn't help but wonder if she would ever share that closeness, that bond with the enigmatic Sidle.

"I know from what you told me, and from what I pieced together from her nightmares, Sara was hurt as a child."

Lindy turned from the monitor looking at Catherine, finding a familiarity in the blue eyes that were nearly a mirror of her own. Shaking off the doppelganger effect, Lindy felt her breath slip from her lungs. "Things were...look Catherine things were bad okay? You want to know things ask Sara. I said a lot already."

"Lindy there is nothing wrong with protecting someone you love. I know you love her deeply." It was almost unbearable for Catherine to admit that last bit. Lindy loving Sara... "You two go way back, don't you?"

Lindy shrugged. "Yeah we do. Since like the fourth grade. See my mother...well she came from Vegas and after I was around nine or so we moved to Tamales Bay out in Cali. My ma's best friend Vivian Verona was killed. Mom suspected it was the jealous boyfriend thing, weird thing Mom and her friend sorta shared the same man. My mother's friend was dangling two boyfriends, Benny Murdock, and Sam Braun, my mom never knew which one did it. Braun could play the field but his ladies better not. Part of the old double standard. No woman that he was with was ever going to be with another man. I, think he had at least seven or so showgirls in his bed besides his wife."

Catherine thought of her mother. To this day Alice still sat at home waiting for Sam Braun's call. Braun! "Wait, wait, wait, Sam Braun is your father?"

Lindy shrugged. "Call it a hole in the condom...look It's not something I'm all that proud of. He acknowledges me when it suits him or he has the once a decade guilt trip for having a daughter he can't say he has because of his reputation."

"So that's the pops you were speaking of that owes you a favor?" Catherine smirked. "Sorry to disappoint you kid but he's kinda fond of me."

"Oh god don't tell me you were one if his harem girls?" Lindy stared at the older blonde.

"Sam and me!" Catherine burst out laughing. "Oh god no! No he was a 'friend' to my mother. Like since I was young." she made quote marks in the air. "He stayed the night several times because it was too late to drive back home. I knew what was going on. My mother loved him, I think more than my father which was why no doubt they got a divorce. Only Sam wasn't the prince my mother believed him to be. She still waits for him. He's always been in my life. He explains why Mom had a fascination with Vegas."

"Aw gottcha. So you were what an unofficial step-kid?" Lindy gathered.

"I guess. But with no real bennies. Occasionally I got a Christmas gift."

"I am a real kid with no real bennies, either. Sam only has two sons you know. Well one dead, the other in prison. The Braun boys were no treat. Real pricks growing up, spoiled brats. They had fun with me, because I was only Pop's daughter behind closed doors." Lindy flashed a half smirk that Catherine knew well, it was exactly the same _expression Lindsey gave, the same smirk that people said belonged to Catherine. "He paid for college though, and gave me some cash. Enough that I don't need anything, but not enough where I can't do anything." She frowned not sure that made any sense. "Anyway that's neither here nor there. I am a little maverick for his tastes I think. Not the little princess he wanted. Of course he likes spirit."

"So," the taller blonde re-directed the question back to Lindy and the original subject. "You grew up with Sara."

"More or less, yeah. We're like three months apart so I was in her class, and well when we first went out there my mom knew Laura Sidle pretty well, guess they were friends growing up or something, any way their bed and breakfast was still pretty new. Sara came with all kinds of ideas how to make it a branch, to expand the franchise because it was a pretty neat business. The Sidles never did take their daughter's advice. She worked so hard on those models, even did a project about her idea for the Sidling Away bed and breakfast inns in school. We did everything together, even things we weren't supposed to." Lindy smiled mischievously. "Smoking, practicing kissing... reading forbidden books and playing guitars, the drums and stuff. We even played at making an all girls production company called "Honey Pot."

Catherine chuckled softly at the innuendo.

"And I helped keep the secret. Helped fix her back, legs. I held her even when we were little and let her cry. Soon she stopped crying and she just faded from herself." Lindy's voice became sullen. "She shined with math and science, things I really suck at. She tutored me in those areas, even when we went to college together. I would have never passed the courses without her. Me, I am a theater girl all the way. I even had a troupe...." Lindy sighed as if trying to void herself of a memory of a guilt she had carried for years. "Sara as you know went for a BS in Physics. God she's brilliant. I just get protective of her, she's got this quality about her. Vulnerable but so strong. "

Catherine remained quiet for a while. Then something that nagged her mind came to surface and without thinking of it the words spewed from her mouth even though she mightn't like the answer she would be given. "You love her, I get that, so were you two ever....a couple?"

"Me and Sara? Eww no! That's like bopping your own sister!" Lindy gave a shudder. "She's gorgeous and sexy and yes as teens we kissed, that's when we discovered the eww factor. Like it's incestuous. But yes I love her deeply and with all my heart. As she does me. To protect her, I'd even cross that line if she asked me to, there is nothing I won't do for her. Nothing…" Lindy admitted. "But no I am not sexually in love with Sara."

Catherine drew in what Lindy had said. Yes she had that sort of relationship with her sister. As close sisters are their love was strong, pure and unbreakable. And there wasn't anything either sister wouldn't do for the other. What Sara and Lindy had was a loving relationship without the sexual attraction. Despite the fact that they found the other pretty, but then again Catherine thought her own sister was very pretty, as she did her own daughter.

Lindy smiled. "Well, I did tell Sara she had a cute blonde to kiss and make her better, and you were in her corner. Glad I was right on that."

Catherine returned the smile; oddly enough it sounded like a sisterly approval of her relationship with Sara. "Look I am going to be honest. Couples get into tiffs, and Sara and I started out rough. But I will never strike her, that's not my style. Yeah, I have a wicked tongue but I won't intentionally seek to hurt Sara, that's the only thing I can promise."

Lindy nodded. "Don't tell me, tell her. Catherine, it won't take much to push her over the edge of self-destruction. Just watch she doesn't go down that direction. Don't give her false hope okay. Don't play her emotions. And just don't tell her you're protecting her, she wont accept it."

"Don't worry 'big sis'," Catherine teased. "You'll get gray hair."

Lindy stuck her tongue out at the older blonde. "I am only three months older than Sara." The young stage actress. "Look I gotta jet. I am meeting up with some of my Troupe after set. Our set director and manager called a conference, they probably going to go over some stunts or pre-acts." She turned to leave. "And Catherine, I am really glad I was wrong about you hurting her."

Sara had been locked in one of her memories - nightmares. One apparently that had knocked the young brunette back into a horrific time in her past. One Catherine could never imagine. Yes granted her parents argued, but hell there were the horses to ride and run with. Life back home in Bozeman Montana wasn't all that bad. The eldest daughter of fourth-generation ranchers, but the rural life was never for her, despite enjoying the thrill of racing the horses with her sister in the pastures.

They both could ride before they could walk, but horses were always for taking her away from work. That never sat well with either parent.

Her dad never forgave her mother for her affair with Sam Braun and never forgave Catherine for taking off at sixteen with a would-be-rockstar boyfriend, eking out a living as a waitress in Seattle. Of course her life with her boyfriend ended abruptly as the sixteen year old was cast aside oddly enough for an older model. ..A Model with money and promises to make the rocker a star if he got rid of the kid. Besides it rained way too much anyway. Emerald City indeed. More like the Soggy City.

When she came back, she was never welcomed back home, for one thing home wasn't there anymore, the Ranch had been lost to the bank and small town life in Montana had less appeal for the young Catherine than rural life had. Both parents made it abundantly clear that if Catherine was able to make a life in Seattle she could anywhere, it just wouldn't be with them. So the lights of Vegas called to her. Waiting tables… the tips were okay. Young, a lean body of former farm-girl the right color golden-red hair, Catherine as perfect for a much more lucrative line of work: exotic dancing.

It was only a year later that both Nancy and their mother Alice came to Las Vegas. Though Catherine suspected it was Sam Braun not her that beckoned Alice. Alice was always, always waiting for her Sam Braun. Catherine rolled her eyes, Braun was always playing his own show girls, Alice was just his favorite one.

The whispered moan. "Does it ever come off?" echoed shrilly in Catherine's mind despite having to strain to hear the breathed slurred whisper.

Catherine looked behind her to see Lindsey clutching the stuffed white bengal tiger in her little arms. "Wait right there, sweety." The blonde lifted the bar on bed so that she could sit on the edge of the bed.

"Is Sara having a bad dream?" the girl asked earnestly.

"Yeah, I think so." Catherine looked back down to the crying, sleeping young woman.

"Maybe she just needs a kiss, Mommy." Lindsey spoke with the innocence of youth.

Catherine smiled at her child's words. "Maybe so." the blonde bent down and placed a soft kiss on Sara's lips. "Wake up, sweety. Hey....Sara....sweetheart wake up. You're safe." Catherine placed the pieces of Sara's nightmares together, added to Lindy's words, she knew Sara's past was something born out of nightmare.

Sara's eyes flickered open at the soft touch on her lips. It took her a moment to register where she was. 'A hospital....I am so sick of hospitals.' It second latter it dawned on Sara that the woman she loved was practically hovering over her. "He-ey." Sara said lazily. "A beautiful sight to wake up to." Sara shifted so that she was now sitting up. "There's another one." she smiled at seeing Lindsey lurking near the door, clutching a white stuffed animal.

"You had a bad dream, huh?" Lindsey moved into the room. "Sorry you get them."

"Yeah me too," the brunette said morosely. What she didn't tell the girl was she had them so often, that they deprived her of sleep. She was kidded at work for insomnia and staying up for three days straight. But how could she tell anything the truth. When she closed her eyes, particularly after a domestic violence case or a rape the nightmares always came for her. Always seeking her, to steal what ever peace she might have forged for herself. She'd wake in a cold sweat, heart racing, the screams of the victims' merging with her own, with her mother's.

"Well maybe this will help." Lindsey placed the expensive and beautiful crafted stuffed tiger on Sara's lap. "She'll protect you when you sleep." Lindsey commented with the pure belief children had in a stuffed guardian. The girl was in the in-between stage when stuffies and toys were alive when no one was looking and that of adolescent cynicism that perhaps just perhaps make-believe was for toddlers. At eight you gave Santa Claus, the Tooth-Fairy and the Easter-Bunny one last shot before you fell into peer-pressure of non-existence.

"She, huh?"

"Yes. She's too pretty to be a boy. And tigers can be girls, otherwise there wouldn't be any baby tigers." Lindsey defended her view. "I like girl stuffies better anyway. Well except for my Mickey Mouse and Pooh Bear stuffies. This one doesn't have a name yet. But, I got her for you."

Sara was shocked. She gave a concerned look to Catherine who shrugged and nodded. "Yep, she sure did. Lindsey wanted something for you to cuddle so you wouldn't be lonely in the hospital and so you would have someone to chase away the bad dreams." said Catherine.

Sara stared for a moment into the blue eyes of the tiger; her thoughts drifted for a moment on all things blue… blue jello… and then to another set of cerulean eyes… and lifting her dark orbs her gaze rested on the very blue she had been thinking of... Catherine. Her blue eyes reflected only kindness. Four months ago those baby-blues held only a mild tolerance, or so Sara had believed. They were now filled with love.

It hadn't occurred to Sara that she was weeping until she was gathered into Catherine's arms, being held closely. The blonde reminded herself not to crush Sara into her protection, and as she would with Lindsey just woken from a nightmare, Catherine stroked the soft brunette hair. At the moment for Catherine it didn't matter what it was that had set Sara into her current state.

"I've got you, baby." Catherine cooed. "Its okay, just let it out." she encouraged, knowing how incredibly guarded Sara was to appear that she had any semblance of weakness. "You can cry now. You're safe, you're loved."

"Mommy. ....did I make Sara cry?"

Catherine quickly denied her child's guilt. "No, Baby-girl you didn't."

Sara had heard the girl's question but so overcome by the pureness of generosity, of unrelenting kindness and love she was showing in contrast to her recent relived memories, she couldn't find her voice to reassure Lindsey. She clung to Catherine as she might a life preserver.

Lindsey watched her mother hold Sara, softly talking and kissing her forehead. Lindsey knew how it felt to be held like that, to be cuddled so tightly in her mama's arms, she felt safe from all the night terrors and terrible imagined places, and things that live in the closet and under the bed. She was now eight but sometimes those things still lurked and nightmares always hovered just in the distant horizon waiting for some unsuspecting sleeper. Sometimes all it took was one of Mommy's hugs and things were better again. Sara would be okay soon. Lindsey took this as gospel after all, Mommy was here and she made everything right.

Careful as not to jar Sara too much the child climbed up onto the bed, wanting to hold her. "See Sara...its okay.....Mom always makes things better. You're going to be okay...Sara," Lindsey made it sound as a promise.

Sara felt herself sink into the tenderness of Catherine's touch. She had never thought she would be offered such tenderness from this woman. She had never dared hope for it had seemed forsaken given their past. Then again on occasion there was a softness in Catherine's voice that reached Sara's ears, that was for her alone. Words were not what she needed, and she knew of none that would heal a wound as deep as the ones inflicted upon her.

There was something in Sara that reminded Catherine of the finest gold, in its warmth and elemental purity, if anything could be said to be comparable to a human soul - if anything could be said to be comparable to her. And just like the most exquisite gold that withstood the harshest of fires to be tempered into perfection, Sara had gone through such fires.

All Catherine could say was "I can see your heart in your eyes, baby I know you're in pain. Let me help you carry it. Sara, whatever haunts you, let me help you."

The words of Lady Heather now echoed within Catherine's mind. 'You must have a very strained relationship with her. You both speaking. You've dominated her, and she willingly gave you the control, but she will not let go of her power. You are ensnared by her silence, that secret hidden part of her that not even Gil Grissom knows. She gives you her submission and expects some sort of acknowledgment, some reward, some release, and when she doesn't receive it you have confused her so she becomes agitated and marcel around you. And in turn your passion becomes hostile and acrimonious.' Catherine simply held Sara still mindful of the injuries. 'Yes Lady H, I'm ensnared by her silence. And I want to know that secret most hidden part of her not even Gris knows.'

Sara felt herself letting go. It was the last thing she wanted, the last thing she thought she would ever do. But Catherine....pulled out of her the secret emotions she had so carefully buried. Catherine knew it was nearly futile to coax from Sara what tormented her so. Because of Lindy Catherine didn't have to know. Love freely given was an alien sensation to one that had only known rejection, self exile, social death and the loneliness that comes with nightmares remembered. With memories resurfaced.

"Sara, baby its okay, you're wanted, needed...loved."

Sara felt undone, exposed, yet oddly enough safe. Even shieldless she wasn't vulnerable. Or at least Catherine didn't make her feel as if she were but it was only as long as Catherine held her. In her eyes the older woman saw the pain of indecision, the pain of choice.

"Sara?" Lindsey whispered wanting to know why her hero the spider-slayer was so distraught. What or who had caused her friend to weep so, who or what broke her heart? The child wanted to fix it, but she was at a loss as what to do. So she did what her mother did. Already on the bed, Lindsey leaned in and softly kissed Sara's forehead. "It's gonna be okay." she patted the woman's back, quietly steeling her place into Sara's arms.

Little blue eyes lifted up with wide _expression of wonder, hope and so many questions. The child only recognized her friend was in pain, and she felt helpless to fix it. Sara, not Catherine managed to answer first. A face now tear stained, eyes red and puffy from the crying, looked to the child with utter amazement. "With the two of you here, yes it is. I didn't mean to upset you Linds."

"You didn't. Mommy says even grown-ups feel bad and cry and even get scared."

Sara looked up to see blue eyes watching her with a tenderness three months ago she never thought to be directed to her. Such tenderness had been given to Nick when a child was killed in therapy and it looked as if the therapist had molested him. Warrick had received such tenderness when he continued to blame himself for the death of Holly, Catherine was there for him, covering his back. With herself Sara always figured Catherine would blow off. If Sara butted heads with the department head as Warrick had done Catherine would be the first to say Sara was in the wrong and deserved what ever punishment came her way. There was no doubt in Sara's mind that Catherine would have open disputes with her, lock horns and yell at her in the aquarium halls of the lab. At one point Sara had convinced herself Catherine was so threatened by her presence that she would even question her own skills as a CSI and call her incompetent.

As it was now Sara found not contempt in the eyes she had been convinced could hold no other _expression for her, but love and quiet understanding. She found support and tenderness. So accustomed to wrathful emotions directed to her, it had been a constant unwanted companion. Lindy, Samantha and Gil had never given her such looks, such disdain. In Catherine's arms Sara now knew in her heart she would never be given it from this wondrous woman holding her.

Together working on the railroad murder, Catherine had said Sara was all she needed. And she was all Catherine had needed. When they were together on a case they were indomitable. As a couple they were a force to reckon with. A wonder to behold, even Lindsey had noted the change in her mother with Sara around.

A hand shaking with overwhelmed emotions stroked the white fur of the stuffed tiger. The blue eyes the same shade as those in the child and mother now cuddling Sara. "Thank you." she said a voice soft, laden with her earlier tears. "Thank you," the words were repeated, but the depth of Sara's heart were felt in those two words.

She felt Catherine's lips on her forehead, the haunts of past memories of nightmares would slowly erode, at least in this hour of her life. Thirty years of build up was a long road to traverse, many barricades, blocks and hurdles to navigate. But at least now the door was open.

"Thanks you." Sara uttered again as she fell into the warmth of Catherine and Lindsey's embrace, holding her tiger close to her heart as she did the love they were offering her.

Part 26

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