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.
WARNING: its going to get dark. Physical and sexual abuse issued are heavily discussed. Rating M for Mature, subject mater is very much on emotional up-setting level but it is nothing we haven't' seen on the show itself or LAO / SVU.
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 32

Janet was still in a fragile place and needed the reassurance she was safe, protected and the sure things in her life were things to look forward to, not dread. Sara recalled her own foster mother had done the same thing for her the first weeks of her new life. That small thing had made a great deal of a difference.

Sara was still very concerned, Janet was battling malnutrition, low iron and potassium - according to Dr. Rothery she was anemic because of the lack of nutrients. Catherine had been right, Janet had been slowly starving to death. But several days' recuperation and she was looking better. The broken fingers didn't seem to hurt the child much as Dr. Rothery had put the hand into a splint so she couldn't move them as well as a wrist wrap that was not unlike the wrist braces one uses for in line skates, to help the child remember to protect her arm.

It was wonderful to see life in the dark brown eyes that were eerily a mirror of her own. "What do you have there?" Sara said eyeing the red plastic fireman's hat. On the child's first day back to school Sara decided to defy Dr. Rothery's words and actually pick Janet up from school.

The woman knew she really shouldn't be driving so soon but she wouldn't allow something as important as coming home to a new place to be dismissed because of mere medical reasons. Janet's security was paramount.

"Oh Sara! It was super tight! Fireman Sam, that's what we got to call her, but she's a captain for the firefighters. She was so wonderful and pretty just like you. She told us everything about the engine, and the truck and ladders and the jobs they do. And ... and ...and... we got comics, color books even a dvd with Smokey the Bear all about fire safety, and this neat hat.

Sara laughed, "Sweety take a breath and tell me slowly."

As the very young often do Janet re-counted the whole of the experience with the firefighters, everything the firefighter showed them or said was repeated. Janet related what Fireman Sam had explained about the engines, the trucks and what it meant to be on a ladder, like Fireman Sam she went in as part of search and rescue. Janet of course like the other kids thought all of the firefighters were heroes, and proceeded to tell Sara about what she had learned the young captain had done during 911.

"She said hero was a strong word, and she didn't think she was a hero, but Tee and Probe said she was. Is she?"

"I would say so," Sara nodded. "And just like the families of law enforcers, families of fire fighters are heros too, because they never know if their loved one is safe, in danger or if that red car will pull up in front of the house with ... bad news."

"If...a firefighter got killed, like that one on the news." Janet concluded.

Sara nodded. "So what else happened?"

"Sara.... were you really in an ambulance and saved by a guy named Hank?"

"What?" Sara frowned. Though the name of the paramedic sent a ripple of angered anxiety down her spine the fact Janet knew of the man sent alarm bells ringing in Sara's ears. Her mind flashed to the moment in the ambulance, his words haunted her still.

Sara's eyes blinked open, the pain still numbing her mind, her vision blurry but yet clear enough that she recognized she was in the back of an ambulance. She also recognized the blonde EMT from the first time she had been injured. "You... know you... Pedigrew right?" Sara uttered softly.

"Yeah, I helped you last time."

Sara blinked trying to fight her way from the gray haze of pain. "Where's... Cath–er...ine?"

"She's not coming," Hank lowered his voice whispering, so that Sara alone might hear. His lips now brushing against her earlobe. "She doesn't think it's a good idea to be with you. Considers being in a homosexual relationship would be damaging to her daughter."

Sara opened her eyes trying to blink away the haze of thoughts running in her mind.

"She only felt sorry for you. You're damaged goods Sidle, bad things happen to you, do you think she wants you near her perfection? Everyone knows she's the pretty one."

Sara didn't want to hear anymore. She was rather unremarkable. And that damn gap in her tooth, her flat straight black hair, too large brown eyes, an oval face not the perfect heart shape.... Her voice smoky, too long legs, too skinny body. Now a broken shell of a body with too many scars, too many bruises.

"She doesn't really want you Sidle or your baggage. She said as much. Damaged goods and baggage, do you really expect a confident classy doll to want you? You might as well do them a favor, when you close your eyes don't open them again. I can help you with that." the smile on his face was demonically angelic. He took out a hypodermic watching as Sara's dark eyes became large and fearful.

The tone in Sara's voice spooked Janet, fear filled her own dark eyes, worried she had done something wrong. "He...he said he helped you." her voice had gone soft, small—a shadow of what it was.

Sara's expression changed swiftly. "Sweety, I am not angry with you, just...well tell me about this Hank."

"He...he made me feel ...."

"Did he touch you! Touch places he shouldn't?" worry was back in Sara's voice, causing Janet to involuntarily flinch.

"No...He picked me up. Put me on....thing like at a hospital...a...a gurney. He said victims have to be strapped in. He put a collar thingy on me... Sara... it was scary. He made me feel like ants were crawling all over me."

Sara bristled. Here she was trying to make Janet's life better, safer, and it was wiped out by a loathsome man with the face of a boyish angel. Sidle wondered if that was what Lucifer looked like--- a boyish faced dark angel that made you feel as if ants were crawling over your body, biting you until there was nothing left.

She doesn't really want you Sidle or your baggage. She said as much. Damaged goods and baggage, do you really expect a confident classy doll to want you? You might as well do them a favor, when you close your eyes don't open them again. I can help you with that

"Didn't your teacher help you?" Sara was careful to keep her voice neutral–neutral, as if she were taking a statement from a victim.

"She was mad at him and told him to let me go. And he did. I don't think ..." Janet paused looking at the folded hand in her lap. The soft hand on her shoulder made her jump.

"Tell me," Sara encouraged Janet to reveal more.

"I don't think he...wanted to.. to let me go. Oh Sara, it was so scary! I wanted you."

"Baby, I'm sorry I wasn't there. " Sara reached with her right hand to softly touch the crown of the child that had taken residence in her heart.

"I'd knew you would come for me..... Sara. I don't like him. I don't think he's a hero at all."

"He isn't," Sara said. "I'm going to do something about it."

"I think he's a big fat liar," Janet added.

In the fog of memory Sara's mind flashed to that night in the ambulance after her attack in the interrogation room.

Hank looked at the semi unconscious form lying on the bed before him. Her neck locked into a C-collar, her body strapped down on the gurney her lungs exhaled a raspy breath labored and slow. Her pulse was erratic and thready. It would be easy... so easy... just to...

He continued looking down at the beaten woman, her chest already darkening with deep bruises, this time tomorrow her entire chest would be black, blue ichor green and a ghastly yellow hues.

"Yes he is," Sara confirmed. "Don't worry about him sweetheart. I'm going to call Captain Brass...you remember him?"

"Yes, he made Cheryl go to jail so she couldn't hurt me anymore. He was nice like Officer Munoz and Captain Fireman Sam, and mostly you."

Sara found herself smiling at the list of comparisons. "He is a good man. I'm going to tell him what happened." Sara didn't add what she recalled from the haze in the ambulance. The concussion, drugs and pain had fogged her memory for a time, and Catherine had proven contradictory from everything Hank had said, Sara had almost convinced herself that she had dreamed the words in the ambulance.

Something about the whole incident was off to Sara, not just on the mental anguish but the words he had spoken, what he had done to her and now to Janet. The collar, being strapped down, even subdued into a heavy stupor from a near overdose of morphine, which could have ended her life because of the concussion, collapsed lungs and the simple fact of OD.

"Janet," Sara's voice once again took on the perfection of calmness, and strength, "remember you can call me anytime. I made it so your phone is on vibrate, so it's always on when you go to school. You just push one on speed dial., it rings me. I'll come to you. I arranged it with your principal and your teacher, you can always carry it with you. You just hit one and enter. Promise me, Janet if anything like what happened today you'll do just that."

"I promise Sara." Janet looked up to the Slayer of Shelob in awe, Cheryl would never had done anything of the sort. She would have smacked her for saying something about an ambulance man, and smacked her again for allowing a man to touch her calling her a whore or worse. Sara looked like the tiger—like she wanted to tear into Hank the creepy and rip him apart.

"I promise you, I'll find you, protect you.. See that's my job, protect you, teach you to think for yourself and love you." Sara said not knowing she had confirmed the child's thoughts.

Janet watched the young woman who was now her foster mother. Her mind thought about what Fireman Sam had said about heroes. According to the firefighter classifications, Sara was indeed a hero. There was no doubt in Janet's mind that Sara wouldn't keep her promise. If Sara said it, then it would be so.

There was something Sara had to do once she had her foster daughter reached home. On her own speed dial she hit the number that would dial Nick.


"Nicky.... It's me." Sara said.

"Sara.... honey, are you okay?" Nick's voice took on a brother's love.

"I'm coping, looking forward to when I can come back to the lab."

"Believe me, we miss you," Nick said gently. "About your friend. I'm sorry. I truly am. I promise you 'Rick and I are doing our best."

"I know you are. I have every faith in you and Warrick," Sara answered. "Actually that's why I called. Nick, I know she was cut up. Her heart shot out, almost decapitated. Lindy, told me. Nick you're looking into the medical profession right?"

"Sara...." Nick had a warning tone this time, then paused. "Yeah we are."

"Try Hank Pedigrew. He's an EMT. Something about him ...check him out."

"Sara, give me what you know," Nick requested.

Sidle did just that, she told him what she knew what happened in the ambulance. Minus what Pedigrew told her exactly. A apart of her inner demons still held onto what the man has said to be truth. She couldn't possible share with anyone else what had been said. It was bad enough Catherine knew. But Sara had related to her counterpart that he had said discriminating things about women. She told him of Janet's reaction and what had happened at the school.

"I'll look into it," Stokes didn't tell her what Doc Robbins had said about the victims being strapped down, drugged as they bled out from IV extraction. The removal of the womb, though Sara was well aware Alex had been cut. She knew about the slit throat and the gunshot wounds to the heart.

An EMT would have knowledge about emergency caesarians, and according to Sara, Hank Pedigrew had done such a procedure. It wasn't a stretch of the imagination to think he might be capable of cutting a woman open to remove her womb, especially if he had a disparaging and abusive reaction to women as Sara reported. The man had moved to the top of the list of possible suspects.

"I'll pass the word on to Brass," Nick said, "though you really should tell him yourself, for the record."

"I know, I will," Sara agreed.

Her next call was in fact to Jim Brass. The Captain of Homicide listened as Sara once again went over what she heard in the ambulance editing out anything to do with Catherine and their relationship but told Brass of how easy Pedigrew said it would be to snuff her life out. Sara spoke of the morphine and the trapped feeling she had when he hovered over her as she did. And of course what he had said to Janet and the bit about the tracheal procedure.

"He told children he had preformed emergency cesareans and tracheal procedures?"

"Yes, the entire first grade level and West Los Vegas Elementary heard it as did the teachers."

Brass was silent for a moment. "Sara how much do you know about the case?"

"Not much, Brass look the woman who was killed, was my friend. Lindy told me she was cut pretty bad and her heart was shot out."

Jim Brass wavered for a moment on whether or not to tell the young woman more details. She wasn't on the case, she was connected ---- he hated to do it but erred on the side of caution. Despite the fact Sidle would hear bits of details if in the briefing room, but she wouldn't be anywhere near the labs for two weeks. And there was the factor that it had been her friend that had been murdered.

There was a grim satisfaction for Sara to know that Alex's killer might be apprehended. But in that emotion a more terrifying sensation to realize a brutal killer had laid his hands upon the child that was now her daughter and had been close to Lindsey.

A fraction of Sara's mind just prayed Hank was an asshole and not the killer, for she was loath to think how close to danger, Janet and Lindsey had been.

At a snail's pace, routine set in for Sara and Janet. Having lived in the System herself for a time, Sara knew that one of the more important things to establish for a lost child was safe place. That you were safe now. A knock at the door isn't the monster to come and take you back to the dark place. And simple routine was the second thing that had to be established.

Sara would already be up, never mind it had been for hours with the police scanner on so she might feel connected to the world outside, then at six forty-five, she would awaken her foster daughter. Breakfast, even though they did offer breakfast at the school, Sara wanted to Janet to feel at home and a part of a family. Time would be a special commodity and rare once Sara was back in the lab. Better to savour the time they had, then let it go out of convenience.

Sara would then wait outside with her ward as the bus came to pick her up, she would be there as well when the bus dropped the child back off. Sara relaxed a little knowing that Lindsey rode the same bus when she wasn't picked up by her mother, or another family member.

Once home after school, there was a snack, one hour of cartoons then homework. Dinner, an hour or two spent doing something together even if it was just watching something Sara felt was okay, Animal Planet, Discovery or History channels or even Law and Order, a bath then off to bed at about eight-thirty / nine completed with reading a chapter in a book together.

It was a moment of healing not only for Janet but for Sara was well. It had been something she had lacked in her own childhood and here she had felt she had been given a second chance to be in a true family. They both enjoyed it.

Though it wasn't always sunshine. Janet would wake from wretched nightmares, screaming. The bed wetting continued. Mortified Janet often hid under the bed, or in the closet for hours until Sara's calm reassurance that she would not be punished, not be hit or thrown in a locked dark room, would tempt the girl out. She would curl into Sara's arms weeping over the accidents, and over the overwhelming kindness shown her. Sara-tiger: the stuffed animal Sara had given her to look out for, acquired tear stains from all the crying.

Janet could hear Sara stifle a grunt as she sat on the hardwood floor of the bed room, her long legs stretching out. "You know, I don't think the floor is going to be all that comfortable for long periods of time."

Janet didn't say anything. She was too embarrassed about what had happened, by now Cheryl would have rubbed her face in the mess. Sara just sat down. And waited.

Dark brown eyes twinkled as they saw the head of a plush tiger stick its head out from under the bed. "Hey there guy." Sara petted the tiger's tuft. "Will you tell Janet to come out?"

The tiger pulled back into the shadows then reappeared., it seemed to shake its head.

"No ehe?" Sara shrugged. "Okay. Guess I have to stay here all night too, then."

Ventriloquistically the tiger spoke, ""But you can't! Your broken ribs. You'll be hurting."

"Well nothing can be done if Janet won't come out from under the bed."

"You can hit her," the tiger said, "or drag her out. Rub her face in the mess..." the tiger's voice hitched, weeping.

"I have no idea why I would want to do that." Sara winced biting down on her own memories of similar events, Janet's pain was so close to her own.

"Cheryl did," the tiger hiccupped in a tight squeaky voice.

"Oh well my name is Sara. And Sara's don't hit and drag and rub people's faces in messes. In fact I have an idea about the accidents, but I can't talk to a tiger, I need to talk to Janet about it."

Moments later a small head appeared trailed by a small body.

"I'm sorry." Janet held her head down, her dark hair covering her small face.

Sara's heart broke when the girl flinched at the touch of her fingers under the babe's chin. "You have nothing to be sorry about. You're going through a big change in your life, and yes you'll have a great deal of bad dreams, and maybe accidents. I picked something up from the store to help with that. And well the dreams... until they go away you can camp out in my room, but if you want to stay in your room I have a nightlight for you too."

Janet's eyes filled with tears, her body slumped against Sara's longer one.

"Honey why are you crying?"

"I don't know" the child wailed softly.

"I think I know," gingerly Sara placed the girl on her lap and held her. "You expected to be punished, to be hit. It's a little confusing I know, but honey if you...well let's say I do have to punish you, I'll just make you go into time out like at school or ground you from TV or what ever, but I promise you, I will never strike you. Not ever. I know what that is like. I know what you're feeling right now, and its okay to feel disorientated, scared and even a little afraid, it's natural. But I do care for you, I love you and you're going to be okay." Sara placed a very motherly kiss on the child crown, then upon the tiger's furry white head. She simply holding her foster daughter until the sob subsided, singing softly Bette Midler's 'Baby don't you Cry.'

As for the bed wetting , Sara had indeed found a small solution: Pampers made a product called Goodnights underwear it was designed for older children with a problem with night-wetting. It had the look and feel of real underwear but offered wetness protection. The accidents still happened but they were not as shaming or humiliating. Even still after all of Sara's reassurances, Janet was dumbfounded again and again why her foster mother, her Sara had yet to raise her voice, had not yet taken a belt, a wooden spoon or book to strike her. She never did.

Janet would watch the dark eyes filled with kindness, and sadness. The girl waited for her hero to disappear, to be gone and she would be left in the dark. But when she woke Sara was there. She would close her eyes the whole bus ride back from school waiting to see if the bus would stop at Sara's loft. It always did. Sara was always there to walk home slowly.

Once in the loft, Janet almost immediately went for the tiger. If ever her hero was out of eyesight the tiger was face out to the world, its soft leather teeth and claws waiting to tear at the dark thoughts, the would be shadows. Once Sara was in sight, the plush tiger became passive and lay as if asleep on the child's lap.

Near the end of the two weeks Connie Bellevue had come for an inspection and interview with the child. The home as always was immaculate and ordered. The social worker wasn't surprised given Sara's personality of needing things orderly.

A few children's books were scattered about the house as would be in any home with children. Connie was impressed with the semi-orderly condition of Janet's bedroom. In her experience most abused children had things in order, as they needed some sort of control over their environment.

Janet clung to the white tiger as the social worker wondered the house, speaking to her hero. Weary eyes would not let go the sight of the portly black woman, fearful she would come and take her away from her beloved Sara. The tiger was in a near strangle hold. Sara's words in her ears, the tiger was Sara. Sara would protect her.

When it came time for the social worker to speak alone to Janet, the child wouldn't be budged from her rooted spot in the living room.

"Can you show me your room?" Bellevue asked watching as the large plush animal in the child's grasp was held as a shield its face and paws extended outward.

"You walked through it already," Janet said caustically. "You wrote things down."

Bellevue grinned passively. "So, I did. But I would like to talk to you, ask a few questions."

Janet's dark eyes became as saucers, dread fear filled her heart, her stomach filled with the fires of terror, the woman was here to take her way! "Sara said talking to strangers isn't a good thing. I really don't know you, just knowing your name doesn't mean I know you." The tiger was in a strangle hold once more.

"Honey, Mrs. Bellevue is here to help us, it's okay to talk to her. It's kinda like having to go talk to the principal, sometimes it just has to be done." Sara sat down near her foster daughter, her hand slowly stroking the dark hair that matched her own so perfectly, calming the girl before she went into an anxiety attack and hyperventilated.

Janet looked from Sara, to the tiger-Sara to the smiling woman. Her small head nodded. "Can we talk here?" Her eyes again looking to the Slayer of Shelob. She didn't trust the portly smiling woman, only Sara could be trusted. The tiger paws were extended so that the claws showed.

Bellevue agreed. The questions she held ranged from how Janet felt about Sara, her new place, being back in school and if she was sleeping okay. Too embarrassed to speak of the bed wetting, Janet said she had nightmares, and Sara wasn't at all mad about being woken up. She spoke of the sleep-overs and the couch cushions on the floor and the sleeping bag in Sara's room.

"I've ordered a trumble bed for the master bed room. Until then she seems to sleep better with me. The nightmares are not as bad. And of course she has her teddy...er–cat."

When Connie reached to pet the tiger, Janet slapped the woman's hand away. "Sara-tiger doesn't like that!" Janet growled. "She watches out for me!"

Sara, that is to say the human one was surprised at the girl's hostile reaction just as much as she was the name the tiger apparently acquired. Janet had never spoke of it until now.

"When Sara is here nothing bad will happen to me. When she can't be, I hold Sara-tiger, she protects me. My Sara protects me like a real tiger. And my Sara just as cuddly as Sara-tiger." Janet defied Bellevue.

Connie had noticed previously the muzzle and claws of the tiger facing outward, of course to ward off any threat. She noticed to how agitated the true Sara was, ready to pounce if Janet gave any further hint of distress. Had the living Sara a feline's tail, the social worker would have no doubt it would be swishing back and forth almost angrily.

"It feels good to be protected doesn't it?" Connie changed tactics. "What else does Sara do to protect you?"

Janet spoke of the cell phone, and how Sara picked her up at the bus stop, had interviewed the bus driver, teacher and principal. Bellevue, had spoken to the school as well and found out that both Miss Fox and Dr. Annette Armstrong had felt as if they were in a police interrogation room when speaking to Sara Sidle. Sidle had a very fierce protective streak when it came to the girl.

When asked about her days at her new home Janet raved about her new life, how fun and smart Sara was. How homework was even fun and they got the measuring lesson down in math by making homemade cookies and she had wished that they would do that in school.

"But, I had to eat tofu. I don't like it, but Sara said it's important to try new things. It tastes like paste," Janet made a face. "Sara, is a vegetarian, that means she doesn't eat meat. I used to be an omnivore, in science we're learning those things. It means I eat both meat and veggies, but now I'm turning into a vegetarian. Sara, gets meat that isn't made from animals but plants. It tastes okay. She said I can eat meat at school if I want, or if I'm with Lindsey and Miss Catherine. But she won't make it here. I don't mind. I like grillers and veggiedogs, and stripples, they're pretend bacon. We eat all kinds of other stuff. And I get to eat the fun cereal on weekends. But for school, Sara said I have to have brain food and a peppermint candy; 'cause peppermint wakes you up and it makes your ...your well I forgot the words she used but it makes the brain all sparkly."

Connie looked to Sara.

"It's proven fact peppermint fires the synapses in the brain and makes you more alert, aware and it a good way to start the morning," Sara explained. "It also helps with the ability to retain knowledge. And it's a good way to get rid of breakfast breath if she doesn't have enough time to brush after her meal."

"Yeah, I have to brush my teeth twice in the morning," Janet went on to explain. "When I get up and after breakfast. But Sara does it too. She brushes my hair nicely and tries not to yank when there are snarls. And 'cause her ribs are still sore, I get to help her brush her hair. I want my hair cut just like Sara's," Janet rambled feeling a little secure now. The tiger was now on the lap versus the shield.

"Next week, I have to go to the doctor's, and dentist and....and the eye doctor. Sara, said she wanted to know everything was alright with me. And, I can go with her to her doctor when she gets check out 'cause of the broke ribs." feeling more confident with both her Sara's the living one and the tiger near, Janet had no qualms about answering questions or explaining things.

"You already made medical appointments for her?" Bellevue was astonished, generally it took a lot of reminding and nagging to get foster gardians to do anything of the sort.

"Of course." Sara answered as if she had been asked the most foolish of questions. "She's my foster daughter, I need to know what kind of health she is in and if she is in need of anything from glasses to having her teeth in cavity prevention. And, I want to talk to a pediatrician to know if she's in good health. Catherine Willows gave me references to the doctors she takes her own child to. I also requested she be able to talk to the school counselors whenever she feels the need."

Connie smiled at the pro-active actions of Sidle. "Everything seems fine here, and checks out. Visits will now be monthly for a time. And...Sara, I'll push for the adoption to go through. I think you've proven to give Janet a stable environment and she's in far better health and spirits."

The tiger, Bellevue noticed was now facing Janet as if embracing her.

"Adoption...that means I get to be Sara's daughter for real right!" the girl squealed delighted.

Connie nodded. "For now sweety she is still just your guardian, but she wants you to be apart of her family and I can see no reason why this shouldn't happen."

The tiger was now dancing.

Her first day back, Sara was practically bombarded in the foyer of the CSI HQ by the night shift, not just the CSIs but several of the lab rats, Greg, Archie, Jacques even David and Brass. Of course Catherine was there, if not a bit over protective of her young lover.

Sara was a bit shocked to see mylar balloons welcoming her back, though Greg, with a party hat and party favor whistle wasn't all that surprising.

The other CSI's and lab techs all surged foreword to give Sidle their own version of a bear hug but stopped in time realizing that Sara's ribs would still be very tender. So instead they each in turn gave her a small but very warm embrace, each man grabbing the opportunity to place a kiss on her cheek.

Even Grissom made a small gesture of care. Emotionally inhibited, the man could not detach himself from the fact he could have lost his beloved protégée. It actually prompted Grissom react to the deeply buried emotions. Despite the fact Grissom wanted to keep things professional, he could not resist the need to show his gratitude that Sara was back.. He gingerly hugged her, but offered no kiss.

"How are you doing?" Grissom asked concern filling his voice.

"Okay," Sara let the smile spread, she was so touched that everyone had welcomed her back it was nearly overwhelming for her.

"Don't do that again!" Brass scolded as any panicked parent. He could not explain it to himself but he took Sara under his wing as if she were his own child. Ellie, would never let him get close, not since New Jersey and the fiasco that had been their lives, but Sara was just as lost sometimes as Ellie was. And like a father he wanted to watch out for Sara. "You sure you're okay?"

"Yeah-a, a little sore but I'm fine," Sara's smoky voice assured the others. "I know I said this at the hospital, but thanks you guys for the new scanner. Of course I listened to it during my down time, and it was superior to my old model."

The guys all gave each other a high five congratulating one another on getting the topself model for their favorite brunette CSI.

Sara grinned she had already thanked Grissom for the books he had brought her, but she looked at him and grinned. "The text books helped pass the time, thanks again for them. They were really very fascinating."

"Sidle, always the same," Nick teased. "Police scanner and forensic text books."

"Expanding the educational process," Sara shrugged, "it never ends."

Catherine had without the others noticing moved to Sara's side. Lending her support and silent love. A look and the love was returned the gaze of dark brown eyes.

"Hey, we even got cake," Warrick said distracting the women. "We had to welcome you back to night shift properly."

Catherine's hand had migrated to the small of Sara's back, a tiny touch of encouragement. Sara flashed her adoring gapped toothed smile as much to her lover's touch as to the guys.

"Well your shift ends here in five hours. You only have half shifts, Sara." Grissom reminded her. "All lab work, and no expended time on your feet, got it?"

Sara was about to open her mouth to protest, but she didn't want to push her luck, Grissom just might send her home for another two weeks.

"Fine," She said though begrudgingly, hating to have to comply. It would be half days for a month, and light duty following that for two months. But at least she would be on the field, then. Still on the optimistic note she was here at work even if she was grounded to the lab versus stuck at home.

"Grissom," Sara pulled her boss away from the crows. "I have to change a few things in my personal files concerning Janet, insurance, my W-2 stuff like that. And considering that it's early in our shift, I'd like to do it now before you're detracted by whatever case that comes in."

The entomologist scowled, "Sara, I don't get distracted... I get involved."

"Right," Sidle said not convinced. "Can we just get the paper work out of the way?"

Catherine smiled, "Sara you forgot to tell the guys, you're a mom."

The men and Jacques dropped open their jaws and snapped them shut again.

"I'm adopting, Janet," Sara explained, "the girl Jim and SVU rescued. The paperwork is being processed. It looks like I get to keep her."

It seemed the whole lab would burst into cheers and had it not been for Catherine's sudden appearance, Sara would have been bombarded with a hoard of bear hugs. "Broken ribs," Catherine admonished the others.

That stopped them. But just. Instead a ginger hug for each of them.

"So when do we get to meet this new Sidle?" Warrick asked.

Sara turned white, she hadn't thought of passing on her name. Over the years she had struggled to make the name Sidle respectable, something independent form the nightmare that came with the legacy. Perhaps it was time to pass on a new legacy, something that had no relation to what once was. A new beginning. For both of them.

"Sara," Catherine's soft voice filtered into the dark haired woman's mind. Shaken Sara returned to the present.

"Sorry," Sara shook the cobwebs from her mind. "What?"

"I asked when do we get to meet mini Sidle," Warrick repeated.

"Oh," Sara frowned. "I'm not sure. She's a little shy. Her real mom .... ah....Janet...she's just adapting to the fact things are different now---that there is kindness in the world. She's easily overwhelmed, I think a slow introduction to all of you is a little more prudent." Sara reached for her carry all, "I do have a photo of her though."

"Give it up!" Greg demanded, reaching for the picture.

It revealed Lindsey and Janet at the Pirates of the Caribbean.

The guys and Jacques leaned in, their eyes all taking in the details like trained investigators and almost as a choreographed moment all of them rose their heads looked to Sara and back again to the dark haired child.

"Are you seeing what, I'm seeing?" Nick asked his counterparts.

"Carbon copy," Warrick said. "And I'm not talking about Linds. She even has that cute little smile of yours Sara."

The brunette blushed slightly. "A coincidence. I think I would have known if I gave birth. And I never have."

"But look at her! I mean no one would never know...."Greg protested. "I mean it's incredible."

Sara shifted from foot to foot feeling suddenly uncomfortably under the scrutiny of her peers. "Sometimes it happens. We share similar traits. That's all." She reached for the photo and placed it back into a small interior pocket of her backpack. "Isn't there work to be done?"

"Indeed," Grissom supported Sara, not out of a since to protect her but as a supervisor who had enough of loitering.

"What about the cake?" Greg protested "There was talk of cake."

"Eat it while I hand out assignments," came the answer. The graying man turned to Sara, "Let's get that paperwork out of the way."

The paper finished moments latter, Grissom returned to the break-room with Sara in tow, and assignments in his hand.

"Nick, Warrick what have you got on your case."

For a moment neither spoke, their eyes fell upon Sara. Warrick spoke. "We found a lead to a possible suspect, a EMT, Hank Pedigrew. He's done both emergency caesarian and tracheal procedures, he has access to equipment, and opportunities to dispose the blood. He could have killed the vic in the ambulance and do so anonymously. Sirens on, no one is going to notice screams. He also has access to sodium pentothal and morphine.

"He's had a few complaints from female passengers that he got a little too close for comfort. Brass said that even a Doctor Jeanette Rothery at Desert Palms said a few times she had to intervene with his 'flirting'. She would always ask how was his girlfriend, that would shut him up for a while. All the nurses said he was a charmer, it was the boyish smile. Apparently several women didn't care he was dating someone else or they actually didn't know they were the side order. Guess he made them feel special....they didn't think he was using them."

"He had reports of sexual harassment against him? Why was he still in a rig?" Grissom asked.

It was a question Sara herself wanted the answer to. And why was he allowed anywhere near children? The very thought made her ill. And pissed.

The answer came from Nick. "He claims life saving procedures made it necessary to touch them as he had and to get that close. His CO says he's a hot shot paramedic. The charges didn't hold and most were dropped. Brass' people went looking for him, but they couldn't find him, it seems that he took some vacation days off with his girlfriend Elaine Alcott gone off to Hawaii. They left about four days ago."

'Just after his lecture at the school,' Sara noted the timeline. 'Maybe he felt the pressure coming on....flee the state, perfect alibi out with his girlfriend on an expensive vacation. Hawaii.....' Sara shook her head. 'And he was hitting on me...god what a louse. I still like him for this. He has the tools, the knowledge and a way to dispose of the body. Life saving procedures failed if he's caught.... His bumbling golden retriever personality he shows outwardly might fool others...but...like Janet said, he makes you feel like you're eaten alive by fire ants.'

"Follow the evidence, Nicky," Grissom reminded the thick muscled Texan. "Victim, suspect, crime scene. Where's your crime scene? You only have body dump. They sterilize the ambulances inside–out and paramedics don't always use the same rig every shift."

"Brass is looking into the ambulance Pedigrew was on the night our vic was killed.," Warrick said from his position at the threshold of the break room. "He also secured a warrant to search it and Pedigrew's place. Right now that's the only lead we have on suspect and crime scene. All evidence points to medical profession. Everyone at the diner theater checks out. The roommate had an irrefutable alibi. She was here."

"That doesn't mean she's not involved," Grissom said caustically not knowing the relationship between Sara and the small blonde.

"She didn't do it," Sara nearly jumped out of her chair, her ribs protesting the sudden action. Blood fumed with adrenaline allowed Sidle to ignore the jarring pain for a moment. All eyes turned to her, Grissom's filled with amazement.

"Look, I know..." Sara shut her mouth, sat down and closed her eyes. "I know Lindy isn't good for this murder. She didn't set it up, she didn't do it and she has no motive for it. Both she and Alex are my friends."

"You can't be any where near this case Sara," Grissom said warning.

"I know that, Gris," Sara's voice dropped an octave. "Just as I, know Lindy isn't good for this."

"We follow evidence, Sara not feelings," the graying man repeated.

Sara stood once more this time with a bit more caution. "The evidence is pointing to the medical profession, Lindy barely knows typical first aid. Blood ...she gets queasy at the sight of it." Sara told them that her oldest friend had learned first aid when she was seven years old just so she could help her little friend heal from her encounters with the Sidle parents.

A small rap at the window placed a near permanent pause on the conversation. Several heads looked up and watched as Greg walked into the break room turned briefing room.

"Sara, um......" the young man shifted from foot to foot "there is someone at reception waiting to see you, Brass is out there...kinda keeping an eye on him. Back ya up, you know."

"Back up?" Sara frowned. "Who is he?" The woman's mind spun around the possibilities, an old con she helped put away, a suspect or the family member of one, the family of a vic or the vic of a crime themselves. Greg had said a 'him' so Sara knew it wasn't Lindy, but it could be Alex's family. Though.....that was doubtful considering they had disowned their 'gay' daughter.

The grave expression on the young man became even more grim. "He said he was the father of Janet Sullivan."

Sara's heart plummeted. The weight of it forcing her down into chair.

Catherine's flash anger reared its head. "What the hell are 'they' doing giving out that kind of information? I thought 'they' kept things confidential for the child's protection."

"....You're not Roman, so you can't kill me. I'm only the messenger." Greg said stepping away from the fiery haired CSI. "Sara....um...he flashed all sorts of ID, even a birth certificate."

Sara stood up with such force it startled the others, she moved past Greg, Catherine and pushed past Warrick who had still maintained his vigil near the door of the break room. Her long colt legs allowed her to quickly traverse the stretch of halls in the glass warren of labs to the reception area.

She saw him.

"NO!" Sara screamed as her eyes fell upon the tall dark haired man. His equally dark eyes widened at the woman's scream. As did everyone else, they had never seen Sara Sidle react in such a terrified fashion. "You're dead! You can't be here! You... can't! She killed you!" Sara shouted her defiance of what her eyes had fixed upon

No one moved. Dare it be said no one breathed.

"Why are you here? YOU can't be here!"

Was that her voice? It must have been because it was her question.

"You're DEAD! How can you be here?" Sara howled

"Sara?" Both Grissom and Catherine said in the moment.

Sara fell back nearly falling as she scrambled to get away from the stunned man standing in the hall. "It's impossible! She shot you! She shot you. I...was there.....there was blood....everywhere you can't be here!" Sara's body trembled, her dark eyes revealing only feral fear.

Fear made her move.

Fear controlled her.

Fear so ancient and so recently brought to light, now given life, dominated her.

"Wait Sara..." he called after her, and as he made a move for the fleeing woman, he found his way blocked. He couldn't move, he dare not move. Four muzzles of police issued .45's were pointed in his face.

"Buddy, if I were you, I'd have my hands up," Brass ordered, his muzzle still pointing at the man's chest.

Nick, Warrick and Catherine didn't lower their sidearms either, too stunned by Sara's terror, they did what they could do. They protected their own. Even Greg took a defensive stand as if his lithe scrawny body could stop the man before him.

Catherine's eyes blazed with scorn, hate, the malice she reserved for pedophiles and the destroyers of innocents. She kept her tongue, reholstered her weapon, turned and went after the woman she loved.

The dark haired man looked at the hall where Sara had vanished, to the guns, to the thick bodied man that had spoken to him and back down the hall. His hands slowly came up and over his head.

"Until we get this sorted out, I think you need to have a seat....down at PD," Brass continued giving orders. He reached for the cuffs behind his belt took one wrist of the brunette male, then the other. "Just for precaution's sake."

Grissom studied the man before him, and he flinched involuntarily. As a masculine figure the man wasn't what one would call attractive, he was far too feminine. The same exacting eyes, the line of the mouth even the nose was identical to that of Sara. The dark hair the same hue as their Sara, though his was cut off the collar and around the ears, was gray around the edges.

They were looking at another Sidle.

Part 33

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