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 29

The man watched the TV screen mounted high on the bar room wall. It was some sort of news briefing. Typically the bars in Sin City played ESPN or anything else sports related. For all he knew this could just be a briefing. What caught his attention was the face of the woman being incarcerated and the picture of a small dark haired little girl.

The man nearly spit up his beer when he saw the girl. The bar keep reached to turn the channel but the man bolted so quickly out of his chair the stool he had been sitting upon toppled over. "Don't touch that dial!" he roared lurching forward causing his mug of Budweiser to spill over, the contents splashing across the bar, making the other patrons scowl and scorn the man.

"Sorry," he muttered half-heartedly.

The volume was still lowered but he caught enough of the conversation. "Cheryl Sullivan will be remanded into custody without bail, the hearing concerning the child is pending evidence from the Greater Las Vegas Police Department. It seems one of their own took the child into fostering, making sure the Sullivan girl will be safe, and well cared for after years of child abuse," the male news anchor frowned slightly, "It seems this same personage on the police department was responsible for capturing the murder of another little girl Lyeanna Rush." the face of the second little girl flashed on the screen.

The face of the first child, the little Sullivan child stayed with the dark haired man. "So what abused little girls do something for you?" questioned a blonde man as he shook off the remains of the spilled beer on the bar.

"You want all your teeth, asshole?" the brown haired man snarled.

"Sorry, look I didn't mean to infer. Name's Hank....I'll buy you a new beer...."

"Not interested, " the man scowled. He looked up to the bar tender and threw a couple of more bills on the counter an offering for the mess. "Sorry about that," he said leaving.

"Fucking weirdo," Hank said watching the screen that had now been changed to a more appropriate basketball game putting the thought of abused girls aside. He didn't want to think of the murdered ones.

Sara felt a small wave of nausea strike her as she rose from the warm nest of her own bed. Moving as if she were on perpetual slow-motion she moved to the bathroom, hoping that her supper of last night wouldn't revisit her. Her ribs couldn't handle the stress of vomiting. It was her ribs that gave Sara her pain.

Grunting back the pain, the young woman went through her morning ritual as always use the facilities, wash hands, face, brush the teeth and hair and then apply a little make-up blue eye-shadow over the eyes to make her dark brown eyes stand out, a little blush and a lipstick. It was by rote she went threw the motions and she could do it in less than a half of an hour.

Her ribs once more screamed at her that they were not happy but Sidle was a stubborn woman and would not succumb to the pain. Pushing it back, Sara had other concerns before her. Her foster daughter.

Foster daughter.

The words rolled around her mind for a moment before settling in her heart and for a moment the warmth of knowing she had given a lost girl a new start made Sara forget about the pain in her sides. Going into the bedroom directly across the short hallway she peeked in to see that Janet had yet to arise from her sleep. The tiny girl was clutching the expensive plush white tiger.

Leaving the room, Sara made her way to the kitchen, coffee as always was first started. "Okay, Cath what did you supply me with?" she said softly as she opened the cupboards. Cereal mostly nutritious variety; Crispex, Raisinbran, Cinnamon Life and of course one sugared cereal Trix, no doubt picked out by Lindsey.

The freezer held frozen waffles, pancakes and Morning Star Stripples a mock-meat bacon and sausage links vegetarian faux-meat. Sara smiled at the kind consideration of her love. The near taste of sausage and bacon but made from soy rather than the muscle tissue of an animal. Children and adults needed their protean and soy was high in it.

"Well I think I'll let Janet decide what she wants." Sara murmured thinking of one of the few times she had enjoyed the mornings with Laura. When her mother was high from smoking grass or sober and Matt was away, she was okay, even loving. On the good days. Sara enjoyed the morning ritual of choosing what kind of breakfast they would enjoy eating.

It was one of the very very few traditions Sara would bring to her new family. Her own breakfast on a typical day was two cups of coffee. But on her days off Sara indulged in an omelet complete with pepper-jack cheese, mushrooms, bell-peppers and onions.

A small cry told Sara that Janet was awake. Her ears picked up the slight distress in the child's voice stilling the sudden and rapid protective streak within her. Janet was sitting in her bed looking around, confusion not terror masked her little face.

"Janet?" Sara's worry was still thick in her throat.

"I forgot where I was." Janet answered as she climbed out of the bed. The stuffed tiger was set aside as the girl stepped up to her foster mom. "I forgot I get to stay with you."

Relief washed over Sara's features. "I'm glad you're here sweety, and yep you get to stay. Go wash up and brush your teeth and we can have breakfast. You hungry?"

The child nodded her head. "Starving."

Stepping slowly as not to spook the abused child, Sara gingerly knelt down, ever mindful of the ribs that were still angry with her, so that she was eye level with Janet. She placed a gentle kiss on the girl's forehead. "Well Catherine got us plenty of food so we'll raid the kitchen." Sara answered. "After that, we'll figure out what to do. Sorry we can't go out and do things right away like a park but my sides aren't playing nice today, but maybe later. Before Catherine has to go to work she and Lindsey will stop over and you can go out with them."

Janet only smiled shyly. It was new to her the softness being offered to her, Sara was taking things slowly as if Janet was a newborn kitten. The child knew in that moment she loved Sara. Deeply as all children love, the way love between parent and child is supposed to be. She went on instinct hugging Sara hard around the woman's neck, trying to be oh so careful of her foster mother's broken ribs.

Sara grunted back her pain, the girls love and need outweighed her pain, even if the agony was persistent. "Okay go get ready, so we can eat."

Even a child can tell when someone is in a lot of pain, Janet helped Sara back to her feet and made sure her hero was okay before moving back. "Sara, are you going to be okay? Should we call a doctor because of your ribs?"

"No. I just need to take it easy," came the answer. "Not to worry, Squirt."

Moments later found the new Sidle family in the kitchen working on making oatmeal, omelets, vegetarian sausages and toast. Sara had allowed Janet to bring a stool around the bar so she might help with cutting up bits of onion and the bell peppers. For the child it felt as if she was given a most important task and thus beamed in pride. More so when she was allowed to make the concentrated orange juice all by herself. Of course she read aloud the directions to Sara before she began her task, but she had never felt so grown up in all her life. Or so free.

It almost took Sara by surprise when she heard the knock at the door, and while slightly startled at the noise Janet almost seemed petrified that Cheryl was on the other side ready to take her away.

"If that's Catherine, she and Lindsey are early." Sara remarked going for the door, Janet jumped off the stool and went for Sara's bedroom to hide, just in case it was Cheryl. The little girl wanted to pretend she didn't exist and her true mother would just leave.

Sara looked through the peephole and was a little more than surprised to see that it was none other than Gil Grissom. She slid the chain free and undid the deadbolt. "Hey Gris. Typical – you only call when you want me to come in on my days off." She flashed a small smile. "Come in."

Grissom took a step through the door recalling the last time he had truly been in her home was when he had helped her move in a year ago. "I came to see that you were okay, Sara." he said deadpan serious, his boyish face revealed his own deep concern for the young woman.

"Worried?" Sara through over her shoulder as she went back into the kitchen to make sure the eggs and veggie-sausages didn't burn.

"Of course. You were only released from the hospital last night. What happened to you.....it scared all of us."

Sara looked down at the folded over egg and thought Grissom had just folded his own truth that 'he' was the concerned party. Though she had no doubt the members of Graveyard were worried for her too. "I'm doing fine. A little stiff, but fine."

Janet having heard a man's voice and not Cheryl came creeping around the corner looking at the tall man. His face was kindly, almost boyish with a cleft in his chin he had twinkling blue eyes and his hair was graying. "Are you Sara's daddy?" she asked in all her innocence.

Sara sputtered trying hard to stifle a laugh, Grissom didn't think the question nearly as hilarious his young protégée had.

"No," he said firmly, "I'm her friend,....her boss."

"Oh! Mr. Grissom the bugman! Lindsey talks about you all the time. You used to have Shelob, but Sara slain the big nasty spider."

Sara's face reddened and she quickly darted her look away to the omelet and oatmeal.

Grissom had no clue as to what the child was referring to, but he did know that all of his spiders were fine, so which nasty spider had Sara supposedly killed? Shelob the name he had incidentally given the red baboon tarantula was fine and healthy as was Queen Araucana.

"Sara?" his voice dropped dangerously low as it did when he was annoyed. Though typically the tone was given to Hodges, Ecklie and sometimes Greg.

Sara bit her lower lip and proceeded to tell him about the bouncing ball incident. "Look Gris kids exaggerate. All I did was reach my hand into the tank and pull the ball out. Lindsey is terrified you'll sic the spiders on her and of course getting into deep trouble. Catherine had grounded her for what she did, so there is no need to go off the deep end."

"It was no wonder Shelob was agitated, I couldn't figure it out." Grissom admitted. Then shrugged. His babies were fine and the incident weeks old, the spider in question had forgotten about it already there was no need for Grissom to renew the issue.

"Sara, the spider slayer ehe?" he teased. "And you work for a entomologist."

"No, I work for the Los Vegas forensics department," Sara corrected. She flashed him her most radiant gapped tooth smile. "You eaten?"

He shook his head. "Cup of coffee."

"Want to eat?" Sara asked as she reached for two plates, waiting to see if she should pull down a third. At a silent nod of the head a third plate was removed from the cupboard.

"Sara?" Grissom kept his eyes on the beautiful little girl. 'The resemblance is remarkable!' "So who is the little one?"

"I assumed Catherine might have said something," Sara tilted her head as she cut the egg into thirds. "Gil Grissom, meet Janet Sullivan.....my foster daughter."

"Daughter!" Grissom's mouth dropped open, his blue eyes widened. 'Who's the father! Sara never had any kids! Not in LA....she never spoke about kids, she said she wasn't good with kids! When the hell - how the hell - did she get pregnant?'

"Foster," Sara corrected her boss again. "I'm taking her into my custody. Long story, but she needed someone. And I want to be that someone," Sara smiled, though she was speaking to Grissom her dark brown eyes never left Janet.

"Foster daughter?" Grissom repeated. "Sara, that's a great undertaking...."

"Grissom, I can deal with it. What you don't think I'm up for the task?" There was almost a scowl marring the beautiful oval face.

"No! " he repeated a second time much softer. "No. I know that you can. It just surprises me. With Brenda Collins, you said you're not good with kids," Grissom said as he watched the two before him. 'I could have sworn Sara was the girl's natural mother. ...'

"A lot has changed. Besides I see Brenda once a month. She has a great foster family that wants to make it permanent."

"So ...... this is the little girl you sent Brass and SUV after? Good call Sara."

"I couldn't let her go through what I..." Sara stopped, drastically backpedaling, she was loath to speak of her past. "What I know other kids had suffered, kids like Brenda. I had to do something. I know the system, Gris... Brenda's case was a refresher....I wanted Janet to have a fresh start a good one."

Grissom looked up to the young woman who even he couldn't admit had stolen his heart, he loved her but could never find the fortitude to say anything about it. Now he never could, considering Sara was in a romantic relationship with Catherine. It would be a forever unrequited love.

"She does. I know she's going to be in the best of hands," Grissom softly admitted.

"Your eggs are going to get cold," Sara said suddenly a little freaked out by the tenderness coming from a man that was supposed to be emotional anemic. "Eat."

Grissom couldn't resist the opening, "Yes mom."

Janet giggled at the old man calling her hero, mom.

"You too, Squirt!" Sara smiled gently admonishing her new ward. "Your gruel is getting cold."

"Eww. It's not gruel, it's oatmeal!" Janet blatantly reprimanded Sara for the semantic slip.

"Oh! My pardon," Sara smacked her forehead, "I forgot. Well eat it anyway."

"You know when I said you need to find other interests not work related, you truly go 180' don't you? Nothing by halfway for you Miss Sidle," Grissom said around a bite of omelet

Sara knew what Grissom had meant. He was still worried she would burn out because of her chasing rabbits. Police scanners, overtime, forensic and criminal textbooks had made up Sara's life. Now she had someone else to worry about, someone else to care for. Janet would be as good for Sara, as Sara was for Janet.

Sara only smiled.

Grissom knew a little of Sara's background, some she allowed to slip which was very rare, mostly during rape and child abuse cases. He was the supervisor of the second best lab in the country, an investigator he knew Sara had been hurt deeply beyond any hurt any child should be hurt. And yet it surprised him that Sara had opened up her heart, her home and her sense of privacy to another soul. ... a soul that was a child.

"Sara, I...." Grissom paused and started once more, "You just solved a hard case involving a murdered......" giving a look to Janet, Grissom had the sense enough to stop. "The case you worked could be influencing your decision, this isn't a goldfish you've taken in."

"Grissom, are you accusing me of ....."

"Sara, I'm not accusing you of anything, I just want you to think about this. Your heart is in the right place, as is the good you want to do, but I can't help but think that your need to do something for this little one hasn't been influenced by your most recent case."

"Grissom, I'm not denying that maybe it has, but it's more complicated than that. I am not comfortable going into that right at this moment. But I genuinely care for Janet, I want to give her a chance and a new start. Maybe it has something with paying it forward, I don't know. But I 'need' to do this. I need to be the 'one' to care for her."

Grissom saw the resolve in his protégée's eyes and knew that there would be no talking her out of her decision to take the girl into foster care. He prayed to the gods of Vegas she would not regret it.

"I 'm back to work nest week." Sara needed to change the subject once more.

"Light duty only. I made a promise to that Napoleonic powermonger that I'd make sure you stayed in the labs. No field work for a month and for two weeks you are only allowed to work three days."

"Gris! I can handle lab work."

"No arguments, Sidle," Grissom pulled a more dominating voice. "This isn't up for debate. I need you at hundred percent ASAP, and that won't happen if you ignore your medical advice. I made Catherine promise to keep you still and at home. She said she'll help me make you take it easy. So did the guys including Brass and Doc Robinson and David, Archie, Bobbie and even Jacqui."

"What the hell, Gris you get the whole night shift to play babysitter?"

"The whole night shift is worried about you Sara, and they care for you. All of us so get over it," he added this last bit with a warm smile. "Besides you now have someone else to worry about. Someone to get better for. The more time you have with your foster daughter the better it is for you to settle into a routine, with her."

"What are you now, a child psychologist?" Sara was frowning.

"Just laying the scene out for you CSI Sidle, you process it." Grissom said gently.

Sara rolled her eyes. "Right." Sara looked down at the three empty plates and she was astonished that she didn't recalled devouring her breakfast "You should have more faith in me. Gris."

"I always have, Sara," the words were softly spoken.

Despite a week of forced recovery in the hospital and four days of medically induced coma, by the time Grissom got up to go, Sara had lost her energy reserves for the day and felt like a dried out sponge. After Grissom had gone, Sara had put the plates into the dishwasher and decided to settle down for an afternoon movie. Something she hadn't done in awhile and now Janet's presence was a perfect excuse to veg out.

The girl was happy to watch Flintstones the Movie. Though she had first wanted to watch Species but Sara was adamant that a child her age not see it, considering the rating of that particular sci-fi movie despite the fact she liked the blonde scientist from the movie. Of course Aliens Resurrection was out for that same reason. It wasn't PG and Sara had a thing for allowing kids under sixteen watching rated R movies. It wasn't going to happen. The Flintstones it was.

Before Fred had to fire Barny from his job in the quarry Sara was fast asleep on the sofa. Janet slipped into Sara's bed room and coming out a moment latter dragging out the dark green coverlet so she might drape it over Sara. Having covered her foster mother with the blanket, she disappeared down the hall once again this time to her bed room to retrieve the stuffed tiger. She placed it under Sara's arm then softly kissed Sara's cheek.

"I'll help you get better too, just like Miss Catherine." Janet vowed. She turned then and sat on the floor content to watch the rest of the move feeling safe.

Janet was in a near panic when there was a knock at the door. Looking at Sara who was still sleeping, the girl debated on whether or not she should wake Sara up or not. Dreading the thought even after Sara the Slayer of Shelob had promised her, Janet believed it was Cheryl on the other side of the door. Quickly Janet switched the deadbolt into the locked position, just to be on the safe side.

The girl went for the counter at the kitchen, dragged a barstool over to the door so she might look into the peephole. Out of the sheer dreadful curiosity that drives the scream queens in slasher movies, Janet had to know who or what lay beyond the door. Bravely climbing up the stool the girl looked and squealed softly. She jumped down from the barstool, moved it aside so she could unlock the door, and open it.

"Hi Janet!" Lindsey squealed.

"Shhh, Sara is sleeping." Janet admonished. "Come on, you want to see my new room?"

"Yeah." Lindsey said. "Hey, Janet its cool you got a new mom. Even better it's Sara."

Catherine pushed past the girls so she could enter the apartment, smiling as they hugged each other as young girls do.

The blonde passed into the livingroom and saw Sara tucked, well buried, under a haphazard coverlet, evidence of a child's care, the smile Catherine sported grew larger when she saw a tuft of white fur under the blanket. Lindsey's tiger.

Unable to resist, Catherine kissed Sara's unmarred brow. The smile turned to a frown when the blonde detected a slight fever in her lover's skin. An expert mother's attention and another pressing of lips to Sara's forehead told Catherine everything. Sara's temperature was slightly elevated. Granted it could just be from being overheated because of the downy coverlet, Catherine took it off much to the displeasure of the grumbling occupant of the sofa.

Sara's eyes snapped open, "Where's Janet?"

Catherine's smile returned 'well she's gone zero to mom in nought point four seconds.' "In her bedroom with Lindsey. Don't' worry....'mom'." Catherine dusted Sara's hair back from the beautiful oval face. "She's fine."

Sara moved to get up and grunted as her ribs yelled at her for the jarring move. Catherine was immediately there to help her young love up. "Hey you might be out of the hospital but you can't take on the world yet."

The joke placed a smile on Sara's face, "No? Damn and here I thought I was invincible."

"Close, but nope not invincible," The blonde once again couldn't resist but to feather back the long brown hair. "How you feeling?"

"Post-nap-groggy but I'm fine, Catherine," Sara affirmed.

"You seem warm to the touch." Catherine insisted.

"I was under a thick blanket." Sara pushed the concern away for a second time. "Cath, really, I'm fine." Sidle wasn't at all used to the fact she had someone to pamper her or voice their deep concern over what she considered her more pedestrian health. Everyone at the lab expressed their concern over her ribs and the recovering collapsed lung, but when it came to a mere fever, Sara passed it off for just a small spike in her temp, nothing to worry about.

"Yeah..." Catherine wasn't buying Sara's excuse but she wasn't going to push the issue either. Of course some people had a higher temperature than others, and sometimes it was a reaction to meds, whatever the mother in Catherine wouldn't let her let the issue go. She decided to monitor Sara with discretion.

Sara shifted her body once more showing Catherine that her feet were bare. On top of her right foot was a black sun burst.

"That's cute." Catherine said picking Sara's feet up to place them on her lap. Her finger traced the tattoo. "Any more?"

"I have a few other tats." Sara admitted. "But they're in places I can't show you....here in the living room." the brunette winked.

"Why Sara Sidle you trying to get me into your bedroom?" Catherine fanned herself as if she were Vivian Lee in 'Gone With the Wind.'

"I wish," Sara commented honestly, "but there is no way my ribs would ever let me do anything more athletic that sit up and even than they grumble at me."

"Oh come on, give me a peek?" Catherine was almost whining.

"And take out all the fun in anticipation...." Sara stopped mid sentence for she saw the girls coming out of Janet's room. Whispering so the children wouldn't hear, Sara leaned closed to Catherine's ear, "for the unveiling when I'm better and able to handle your more amorous side."

Catherine purred, then snapped her teeth shut loudly as if she were making to bite Sara's ear.

"So hey, we all ready to go out?" Sara said trying to distract herself from Catherine's flirting. "I thought it might be neat to go to Chucky E. Cheese for dinner."

The girls hooted and cheered.

"I think it's a hit." The younger woman said to Catherine waiting for her to cast her vote.

"Why not? We need to celebrate a new family." The blonde looked to Janet who had migrated to Sara's side as if pulled by some gravitational field. " Let's go have some fun."

Yet before the four could make it out the door, a knocking sound came from the other side if it. Sara shifted around Janet to answer the door, she wasn't at all surprised to discover that Lindy waiting in the hall.

The brunette didn't hesitate as she opened the door allowing her life long friend to enter. "He-ey Lindy, Come in."

The small blonde saw the others gathered, looked to Sara and back again to the cluster. "It's a bad time."

"No," it was Catherine not Sara who spoke. "I was just taking the girls out, it's no problem."

Lindsey frowned, she was looking forward to spending time with Sara and Janet, now that was all off. Granted she liked Lindy the Pirate, but still she liked Sara slayer of Shelob way better. A hand clamped on her shoulder, looking up the young blonde scowled at her mother.

"Don't." Catherine whispered

"How did you know I was going to say something?" Lindsey was still scowling

"I am your mother." Catherine responded.

Lindy tried to smile at the children and Catherine, but there was nothing of warmth in the gesture. Sara escorted her dearest and closest friend to the living room to sit upon the futon with no effort at all before returning to Catherine's side.

"I'm sorry...."

"Sara, you both lost someone close to you, don't worry about us. I'll take Janet out and we'll have a good time, I'll bring her back later. But if you need too, I can have her stay at my place. Lindsey has the nanny over tonight...they can have a sleep over."

Sara nodded. "I owe you one."

"You can take the duo next time, we'll call it even." Catherine turned to the girls, "Hey you two, we're still going out to Chucky E Cheese and we'll bring pizza back to Sara, but she needs to stay here with her friend for a little while."

"Sara?" Janet was hesitant in leaving her new foster mother so soon.

"Hey, its okay kiddo go have fun with Linds and Catherine, and save me a slice of pizza okay? But no meat on mine"

The dark haired child nodded, "I promise," the girl vowed.

Sara slowly moved to touch the child's cheek as not to spook her. The touch was gentle, warm and motherly, a touch Janet craved. "Don't get into too much trouble, but make sure you have fun."

Cheryl had never said anything remotely like that to her ever and it almost perplexed the tiny brunette in hearing it come from Sara. "I'll win a prize for you Sara." She said.

"Me too! Me Too!" Lindsey boasted. "Come on Mom!" Lindsey grabbed her small friend by the hand and yanked Janet out of the door.

"Jeeze Lindsey!" Catherine yelped using the 'mother tone' "be careful with Janet! She just got home from the hospital herself!"

"Sorry Mom!" Lindsey bellowed from the hallway. "She said she's not hurt."

Sara rolled her eyes as did Catherine both laughing softly.

"Sara...." Catherine looked past her to the sulking blonde on the futon, "They boys are doing all they can for Alex..."

"I know that, Catherine." Sara admitted. "I do. They always do their best, I just wish I could reassure Lindy."

"Go to her, be the friend she needs, don't worry about me, or the girls, we'll be fine." Catherine kissed Sara not on the lips but a chaste kiss to the forehead. "I'll see you later babe, and I'm here if you need anything. Anything at all."

Sara took Catherine's hand into her own and squeezed it in a silent thanksgiving. "You're all I need."

Part 30

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