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 26

"Good News." Dr. Rothery came padding into Sara's room holding several files under her arm alongside a clipboard. "Two weeks in here and I know you're stir crazy."

"Hey listening to a police scanner and reading text books twice can only alleviate the boredom so far," Sara said. "Sooo, I take it I am being released?"

The petite doctor nodded. "We need the bed for someone who really needs it," the woman smiled. "And you can now sit up and move a bit without damaging the healing process of your sternum. BUT don't go jumping up and down. You still have a week down time. NO WORK! After that a month of light lab work only, young lady."

Sara pursed her lips, a full blown pout. "A week! Down time! I've been laid up for two weeks as it is. I never take this much time off."

"Have you ever taken time off?" Rothery asked. Of course her own wife had ten weeks of vacation time booked up, and she had lost six months of backlogged vacation time before that. Rothery saw the same tenacity in the brunette lying in the bed. As she did with all grumpy and belligerent patients Rothery delivered an ultimatum. "You want to make it two?"

"No." Sara almost lost the pout. Almost.

"Okay then. A week. I phoned your supervisor and told him absolutely under no circumstances are you allowed anywhere near that lab. Even if there is cake in the staff lounge because of someone's birthday. And I made him sign an agreement with me that you will only be allowed in the lab on, and again I say, LIGHT duty."

The full pout returned.

Rothery laughed. "Doesn't suck to have a physician that cares about her patients when they leave her hospital?" the warmth in the doe brown eyes softened the irritation festering in Sara. "And yes, your girlfriend knows about the restrictions too and I made her verbally promise me, no 'athletic" activity beyond a good sound kiss. You need to take it easy Sara." the tone was gentle. "I know from the x-rays, and some of the nightmares I woke you from that you suffered several childhood injures. The previous broken ribs and bruised sternum are adding to the healing time of your injuries now. Sara you will experience pain from time to time even when you're fully healed because of the extent of the trauma you suffered. I want to recommend a few ointments that will ease the tightness and pain in your chest. As for the pain itself I'll prescribe you Fentanyl."

She handed Sara a small list of medicines all but the anesthetic, were homeopathic. "There is an apothecary that sells the ointments, I feel they do just as good a job if not better than some of the over the counter healing balms and muscle creams and athletic ointments. But if you prefer commercial labels, I've listed those as well. Tiger balm is very good in either case." Rothery winked. "And hey there are no rules saying you can't have help with the ointments."

That made Sara grin in her adorable gapped tooth smile. "Thanks Doc." She sighed. "And fine I promise to be good."

"Humm." Rothery frowned a little. "I'll take THAT promise with a grain of salt. Workaholics are never god when it comes to that one. The compulsion is too strong. But he-ey that's why I enlisted help. Your girlfriend and your daughter."

'My daughter?'

Sara's _expression must have triggered something in Rothery because she was suddenly explaining her chosen word use. "I see the love in your eyes, when you look at that little blonde clone. She might be your lover's daughter but you care for that child deeply."

"Yeah I do." Sara nodded. "Its just we're a little new at this relationship thing."

The smaller brunette nodded her own understanding. "I think you found your family, Sara. Your center of the world. Hang on sweety and don't let go."

"I don't plan too." Sara answered. "I belong to them as they do me."

How Sidle had known the girl was in trouble the moment she had, was beyond Brass. Some gut instinct, perhaps? Sara was so insistent that SVU be dispatched to the girl's house the aging detective could not ignore it.

The Sullivan House was located in a nestled community of low income housing. Here a twenty year old Oldsmobile was parked in a drive with a leaking oil pan and a lousy starter and a radiator that tended to overheat. A dog of a dozen different breeds on a choke chain yipping at the wind, his water dish littered with leaves and a food dish covered in ants. The whole yard stank of dog crap and mildew.

Brass couldn't believe that anyone lived like this on purpose. The yard not only contained the dog feces but broken beer bottles, a rusted-out rim for a Buick, a flat soccer ball, and several smashed aluminum cans of coke, what looked like piles of soggy newspaper, a dead rat and of course a few piles of garbage that was home to a colony if that what it could be called of maggots. The old detective's mind went to Grissom as he thought of the piles of fly larva. The sanitation department hadn't visited this place in a while. Either that, or the Sullivan household hadn't paid their bill. In either case the place simply smelled.

The officers of the Special Victim Crimes Unit were leading the investigation, but Brass felt he somehow owed it to Sara to be here for her. Atonement for his inability to protect her when Kingsley attacked her, at least he could be here to protect another child. Of course Sara was much older than a mere child, but she was still young enough to be his child.

He hoped to god his presence as a homicide detective wasn't needed. He would rather at this point be a redundant officer on the scene. So far Sara had been right on the mark, if a child lived in this squalor she needed to be rescued.

"Department of Social Services had been out here. They saw an impoverished home of a welfare mother, but no need to remove the child. There were no apparent signs of abuse." Detective Luke Nikolaievitch, "Sidle - she's sure about this?"

Vivian Munoz turned looking at both men, "You know as well as I do that bruises can be hidden, and there are beatings that don't leave bruises." Both detectives had seen countless such instances. "According to the documents a Miss Karrieann Fox--- first grade teacher at West Las Vegas Elementary school called in the first report. Catherine Willows and Sara Sidle a second. We have to remove the child, if only for observation."

They had secured a warrant not only to search the house but collect any evidence as to the girl's abuse. If they found anything of course the 'Geek Squad' would be called into process the evidence, until such time, securing the child was paramount.

Almost with a remote _expression on his hound dog features Brass watched as Munoz careful opened the screen door which was hanging by a single hinge at the top and rapped on door beyond. The press-wood had seen many a violent day, as the corner at the bottom was chipped and the wood frayed. There were several dents as well as a few holes high enough to indicate someone had used their foot to either knock or force their way in. Of course it could be a simple case of kicking too hard with an arm load of groceries. Brass had to squelch the thought the hole was created by the skull of a child.

The sound of the knocking turned his attention back to the door and he realized it had yet to be answered. His hand slipped to his waist readying to draw it if needs be. Something started the hairs at the back of his neck. Something was just wrong with this whole situation.

The door opened slowly by a man who by his appearance hadn't seen the inside of a shower in days. He was medium-short, stocky and dark-haired with three days worth of stubble. He wore an Area 51 hockey jersey, stained with might have been last nights dinner. A beer in one hand he took a heady swig before addressing the three officers. "Cheryl!" his voiced bellowed. "It's for you." He didn't say anything more, but shut the door presumably returning to the living room to watch whatever program was ESPN.

"Polite aren't they?" Luke took a neutral but almost snide tone.

From inside the house they heard the man bellow, "Woman you hear me?"

"Better not be those god-damn Jehovah Witness. This time I'll cut their fucking tongues out!" The door swung open so violently all three officers went to their hips for their side arms, which they didn't relax – too many years of experience taught the lesson of being vigilant.

"I can safely say we're not Jehovah Witnesses." Munoz said."

"Is that a joke? What the fuck do you want? Oh and if you are some bible thumper. I like to fuck, smoke and drink, I don't believe in the twelve apostles, and Jesus screwed a whore, so go get lost assholes."

The badges came out. "Detective Munoz, this is Detectives Nikolaievitch and Brass."

"A Spic, Ruskie and a Wop....great..." Cheryl rolled her eyes. "Where did you get your badges, from a cracker-jack box?" She seemed to think her comment was on the funny side as she started snickering until it turned into a hacking cough, bred from too many years of smoking.

"Ma'am, step outside." Munoz ordered. Her no-holds-barred, no argument _expression made the belligerent woman think twice before she spoke again.

"What's this 'bout?" She crossed her arms and would not be moved.

"You have a child by the name of Janet?" Munoz asked.

"For what its worth, yeah. So what?"

The three officers took a single sigh and at exacting moments they let it out in a heavy breath. Sidle and Fox had been right. The girl was in trouble.

"I'll stay with her, you go in." Brass offered this time making a show that his hand was on the pistol grip of his gun, the strap holding in the holster unsnapped. "Ms Sullivan and I will have a nice chat out here. Won't we?" On the last question beady eyes pinned the woman to her spot.

"I'll save you the fucking trouble. You want that little good for nothing maggot? Take her. She's nothing but a leach. Little parasite." Cheryl snarled. "I only had her to keep my man, only he bailed a year after the little cunt was born."

Munoz and Nikolaievitch entered the dilapidated domicile with a dubious look to the living room. Nikolaievitch secured the premises, his eyes never leaving the boyfriend. He looked more irritated that his game was interrupted than his girlfriend was under interrogation for child abuse.

"Janet?" Munoz called softly, keeping her voice a purr. Something to sound safe. "Janet, my name is Vivian Munoz I'm with the police. Sara Sidle and Catherine Willows sent me....." Munoz had been told that the Willows' girl was a friend to this lost soul she was now seeking out. "Lindsey's mommy.....they sent me to help you. Sweety are you here?"

Munoz tiptoed into a bedroom. That resembled a child's room. A scant few toys littering the floor, some clothing that never made it to the hamper. 'Typical room.' Munoz uttered softly. Her dark eyes fell on a closet that had a latch installed secured by a padlock. She closed her eyes briefly before rapping on the door.

"Janet, honey are you in there?"

"I'm in here....." a muffled sound, followed by thumping on the closet door.

"Oh god." Vivian swallowed hard "Sweety I'm going to get you out of there, okay."

"I feel dizzy," a tiny voice answered. "I hurt when I breathe in."

Oxygen depravation. It was fortunate the girl was still alive.

The child never felt as if she never belonged to anyone. To anything. She was always drifting a shadow waxing and waning in the eyes of another but nothing anyone truly pays attention to. She knew a constant in her life were the trials of punishment and pain. She knew she would never be delivered from it. Life in her experience had stagnated.

Black light. White light. The world spun wrong way round. Voices disembodied. Lifting. Softness voices kind and soothing. Red light, blue light sounds. The stink of August on the humid evening wind. Somewhere in someplace something barked. Barking orders of people, officers, the cooing of soft voices in her ear and the child was lifted from the fate that had been made for her. It wasn't fixed after all. Gray light, soft quiet and sleep...

Dr. Rothery came into Sara's room her face grave and still. "Sara...."

The first thing that Sara thought of was that something horrific had happened to Catherine on her way here to the hospital. It was rush hour on the Strip and there were dangers. Even if she took an alternative route Catherine might have been in an accident.

"Cath...." brown eyes brimmed with tears. 'Catherine....no...no....baby.....'

"NO! Oh no Sara, no. It's not your lover..." Rothery took Sara's hand and squeezed it gently, reassuring the startled woman. "No, I didn't mean to scare you. I'm sure your Catherine is fine."

"Then what is the matter? Something 'is' wrong." Sara would not move her eyes from the petite physician.

"I know I put you on inactive duty. But there is a child in the ER ....she might need your special care. She was rescued from a hostile environment." Rothery shivered thinking of the malnourished little waif, how cruel she knew life to be. "Sara, if you can only be there to keep your eyes open, I want the people who did this to her punished, I want them to pay for what they did to her. I need a CSI there to secure the evidence until someone from your lab can be there."

"Let's go." Sara needed no further prompting. Abuse cases always, always ripped her heart out, filled her with righteous rage and vengeance. She put every effort beyond the call of duty to make sure the DA had a conviction. This is not to say she didn't put every effort on any other case she worked, but abuse cases struck very close to home. Too close.

Rothery if anything was as doggedly ardent about keeping the rules and regulations in 'her' infirmary. Which meant Sara was confined to a wheelchair during transportation from her room down to the ER. It was here in the hustle and bustle of the Emergency Room that Sara was brought to a semi private exam room.

"We have a camera set aside for evidence pictures, a SAR's kit, and bindles ready for possessing."

Sara was a little surprised that Rothery had everything that would typically be found in a CSI's kit. But then again the Palms had treated several victims of sexual assault and abuse. Tragic to say, they were well prepared to handle such instances.

"Catherine can process the evidence, she's on her way to pick me up. What is the child's name?"

Sara's dark eyes matched Rothery's own dark orbs. The woman had seen so much in her young life as a physician but her heart broke every time she came across abused children. In her eyes, Sara found a kinship, that she had not even found in Catherine.

"Janet Sullivan."

"Janet Sullivan?" Sara blinked. Then smiled.

Rothery at this point became confused.


"Good! Good? What..."

"Doc, I had Detective Brass call in SVU on her. Catherine and I knew something was wrong at her home. You see she's safe now." Sara explained. "It will take sometime but she's going to be okay. I'm going to make sure of it."

Gingerly pushing herself out of her chair, Sara moved past the curtain into the exam room. The child so frail so tiny lay in the bed making her seem all the more lilliputian. "He-ey." Sara greeted the frightened child.

"Sara!" the girl's pinched and pallid face brightened immediately.

The doctor of course had prior knowledge that Sara knew the girl but Officer Munoz didn't.

"You know CSI Sidle?" She asked the girl. Munoz of course had worked with Sara on a few cases and admired the taller woman's mind and skills even if she did belong to the Geek Squad.

"Oh sure. She's the Spider slayer. Lindsey my best friend said Sara faced a spider as big as Shelob, just to get the bouncy ball back and so Linds wouldn't get in trouble for bouncing it in the halls! Sara is very brave and she knows pirates and she's nice and pretty."

"Shelob?' Munoz frowned not catching on to the name.

"A spider monster in the Lord of the Rings trilogy." Sara answered. "And the spider wasn't that big, Squirt." She made her hand clutch spider like. "About that big."

"What - a tarantula?" the cop asked.

"African Baboon spider....yeah it's a breed of tarantula." Sidle answered.

"There are 'breeds' of tarantula?" Vivian blinked before shuddering. She and spiders were not on speaking terms. In fact she wasn't at all friendly towards the arachnids. The whole department knew of course of Gil 'Bug Man Grissom' kept a few of the massive spiders in his office. Her respect for Sidle went up a few notches for putting her hand in one of those tanks to retrieve a child's toy. No wonder the kid thought Sara was brave. She was.

Sara reached for Janet tentatively, not wanting to spook the girl. Even now sometimes Sara would flinch when someone reached out to touch her, it was a habit born from years of abuse. "Janet we have to take special pictures of you and, Dr. Rothery will have to give you a special exam to look at ....um.. .your private place to make sure you're not hurt down there."

Janet only nodded.

"Okay." Sara moved to pull her hand away but Janet clutched it in a tiny death grip and wouldn't let go. Sara slayer of Shelob was now her champion and she wasn't going to let go now that she was safe.

"Um, I'll step aside." Munoz said, she herself became relieved knowing their girl was safe. More than that Janet felt safe.

Janet and Sara both watched as the officer left the private exam room, leaving only Rothery and Sidle behind.

"I'll hit the lights, just tell me when you're set." the tiny doctor commented.

Sara turned her dark eyes to Janet, "I'll need my hand back, baby."

"You're not leaving?" Panic almost filled the girl's voice.

"No, I am not going anywhere, don't worry, Janet."

Large brown eyes watched her hero pick up a bulky looking camera. "This... is a very special camera. It's a black-light camera. It can see deep into your skin, like an x-ray takes pictures of your bones. It can see things nobody can see. How about I take a picture of me first, okay?" A slight nod to Rothery and the lights went out.

Janet nodded her head. Sara lifted the camera and took a picture of her own arm as she had done with Brenda a year ago. The camera clicked. Sara looked at Janet and smiled slightly.

"See? It's okay." Sara's voice was warm and reassuring.

Janet nodded her head once again. "They took pictures of me like that. My fingers were broken and Dr. Rothery taped them in a metal ..splint thingy." she held up her left hand showing the splint on the index and middle fingers.

"Well now we're going to take more pictures only this is not to the bone, just to the muscle underneath. But it won't see through your clothes like the X-ray, okay?"

The child nodded once more giving her newly adopted hero leave to take the pictures. Sara untied Janet's gown, slipping it just below the little girl's shoulders. She remained silent as Sara clicked the camera.

Sara smiled, quietly speaking, "Okay. This time with a little ruler, to measure....things." Sara attached a ruler to the top of the gown just below the girl's shoulders. Sara picked up the camera and checked with Janet again. "All ready?"

"Yeah." Janet nodded, her dark doe eyes trusting. After all the Spider-slayer would never let anything harm her. She felt safe now. Safer than she had in a very long time, even if she was in a hospital. Hospitals were places to be feared.....until now. Plus Doctor Rothery was so kind and so warm, just like Miss Fox, Lindsey's mommy and Sara-Slayer of Shelob.

"Okay, Sweety." and again Sara took more pictures, knowing what the film would show. Deep bruises. Flashes of Matt beating her with a pillow case filled with oranges filled her mind, making her almost lose her hold on the camera. Acidic bile filled her mouth for a moment, nearly making the young CSI gag. Pushing the memory away, Sidle forced herself to concentrate on the here and now. Janet needed her with her, not lost in memories. "Just a few more, okay?"

Again Janet nodded, as the camera clicked away.

Connie Bellevue arrived on scene, another child hurt by another parent. God how she hated these cases. It broke her heart every time. She waited for the door to open from the exam room so she might interview the child and prep her for transport to Sunview, until they could find a foster parent for her.

The caustic woman smiled when she saw none other than Sara Sidle emerge from the room. "I didn't know you are on this case, Sidle." Since the Collins case a year ago Bellevue had warmed up to the very young CSI. For months the girl was the only one little Brenda would respond favorably too. Even now Sidle would visit the child every month.

"I'm not. Not really." Sara clarified. "In fact I want to refuse myself."

"Why?" This baffled the Social worker.

"Because, I want to take Janet as a foster child. I want to take care of her." Sara admitted.

"You?" Bellevue was beside herself, astonished by the CSI.

"I am fully capable of taking care of her. You said it yourself when I was with Brenda, I'd make a good parent. I want that chance with Janet. I want her safe, I want her with me."

"I wasn't questioning your fitness to be a foster parent Miss Sidle. I was just amazed you want to do this. And relieved. I'll start the paperwork, right after I speak with Janet."

Part 27

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