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 37

Saying you are going to do something and the actual act of carrying out those intentions are two separate and distinct events. Fear kept Sara in her place on the outside of the interrogation room door. You could almost see her heart mustering the courage to face the person on the on the other side of the door. No, not Mark, but the shadow of the person he represented, the person Sara had thought him to be.

The physical telltale difference between the two Sidle men was that Matt had a goatee that Mark did not have. But even the clean-shaven face was too much of a twin for Sara's memory to ignore fully. It was why she lingered so, if only to convince herself that it was her brother not her father waiting.

Taking in a large breath of air as if diving into frigid mill pond, her hand on the door knob she pushed the barrier open, only when she passed the threshold did Sara let out the gulp of air she had been holding.

"Sara!" Mark exclaimed moving forward too fast, too excitedly for Sara's tastes. Despite her seemingly prepared state of mind she took a large step back and in the process she stepped on Lindy's foot, making the tiny woman yelp.

A quick look to the mirror Lindy waved off the knee-jerk reaction she knew Catherine would have to come barreling in ready to steam-roll Mark.

Sara closed her eyes tightly then opened them again. This time she forced herself not to see Matt Sidle, the man whose only touch was pain, but to see her estranged beloved big brother.

"Sara, oh Small Fry, I can't believe this, that you're alive!" Mark said. He still moved forward, however this time his steps were more gauged with care. "I've missed you. Oh God, I've missed you Kiddo."

"Mark..."Sara's voice amazingly didn't come out as a squeak, but was uttered softly as if she gave too much thought upon it, he would vanish.

Mark took a step forward, and enveloped his sister into an embrace. Sara snapped her already tense body into rigid form so quickly, Lindy feared her spine would disengage from her hips. Of course the still healing ribs only added to the sheer discomfort taking Sara hostage. To his credit, Mark sensed his sister's extremely uncomfortable stance and let go of her, his face holding a chagrined expression of regret.

"I never meant to hurt you, to frighten you," he said softly.

It was a tense few moments before anyone said anything. It was Sara who broke first. "I know." She tried not to look away, tried to ignore the years of trained reaction to cast her eyes to the floor as her father had beaten into her. "You look like him - when he died. You don't have the beard."

"It's more than the military that keeps me from wearing the face hair." Mark said trying to lighten the mood. "I'm not him, Sara. I'm not."

"Yeah, but you ditch your kid because you think you are." Lindy shot out like a .45 straight to the head. "So what's that? You play 'I might be daddy-dearest card', take off and then what? Pop back in to their lives, fuck it up?"

For the first time, Mark acknowledged Lindy. His mind played the faint strings of familiarity, not unlike trying to recall a few notes of a song heard long ago. "And who are you?" He was still frowning trying to recall the tiny person and why she was so familiar to him.

"Marky, it's Lindy." Sara answered the question.

"The Twerp!" Mark was smirking now, "Wow, you haven't grown."

Lindy held her sneer.

"She's always been there when I needed her." Sara admitted, the tone in her voice indicated the deep running familiar love that connected the two hearts. "She's here for me, now."

From her place behind the glass of the observation room, Catherine's jaw set, the tendons in her neck tightened and pulsed. She hated the fact she was jealous over Lindy's bond with her girlfriend. 'Get a grip, Cath they might as well be sisters - I have nothing to fear.' Still there was a significant age difference between Sara and herself, one that didn't separate the wiry-energetic stage actress from the younger CSI.

For a small moment Lindy faced Mark as if he was still the enemy, still the threat to her dear friend. Mark took the better part of valor and yielded his ground to his sister's small protector.

"I'm glad you had someone all these years. Believe me when I tell you, I never intended our reunion like this, or to ever bring you pain, Small Fry."

"I know, Mark. It wasn't something I was prepared for. I don't know that I ever could have been. There's a lot that happened then, now, in between." she offered a helpless shrug. "It all overwhelmed me." Sara looked away ashamed of her earlier actions.

"I think you were pretty brave."

Brave?" Sara scoffed, "Oh yes screaming at the top of my lungs and taking off down a hallway making an ass out of myself is the icon of bravery."

"Sara, don't you know?" Mark's voice became urging, soothing comforting to his sister and even the hovering overly-protective Lindy. "Bravery isn't the absence of fear, but facing fear. You came back here today; you even came back that day and faced me when the image I represented was terrifying. That's brave."

For a moment Sara considered the idea she was being toyed with, that somehow her brother was playing her for the fool. It was something of her father's favorite game. Give a strange compliment then add grave insult to the mix so that the up-lifting comment was always disparaged. It got to the point that Sara had always waited for some dark thing said at the end of any compliment she received. 'You're so smart, Sara. Too bad you're only good for breeding. That is of course if any man will have you, you're only marginally pretty. Some guy is going to have to be very desperate to want you. Good thing you're so smart.'

Mark added nothing more to his comment, leaving Sara ill-equipped on how to manage such words.

So she did what she always did when she received the rare pure compliment. She changed the subject. "You knew of Matt's death?"

"A little. I lost touch with our parents for a time. Like I said, I haven't been in touch with them since you were little." Mark was a little surprised by his sister's abrupt change in demeanor. Her voice had the sharp edge he had heard in plenty of officers.

"How much do you know?" Sara continued to question her brother as if he were a suspect. It was difficult to rationalize the fact her long thought dead brother was alive and well. Her heart and mind still had to process the reality of it. It seemed like some dream, only the details were far too sharp to be of anything generated out of the imagination. There were so many questions. So many on the mind, and the sudden opportunity to ask them, the questions tended to crowd together and trip over one another, much like the passengers on a crowed subway car trying to get out at a popular station. Add emotions to the mix and it becomes an internal war of chaos.

"Sara," Mark took a step forward causing Lindy to move as if her slight size would make an intimidating figure.

A hand from Sara stilled the quivering would-be bodyguard. "If you knew he had been killed, you must have known how and that our mother was taken into custody."

"Sara by the time I found out about the stabbing, it was already two-year-old news. I was in Kuwait. I was twenty-three, on a base fixing planes. As far as our parents were concerned, I was disinherited. They said I was dead to them. The Marines thought it just as well, I was stationed in a lot of 'widow-maker' locations. Some I can't talk about, because of orders.

"I only knew about what happened because a buddy of mine got a care package in the mail and some of the packing was old newspapers from Tamales Bay. Rourke gave me the paper because he knew I was from there. The scrap only had a part of the story: Matthew Sidle was murdered by his wife Laura Sidle, stabbed several times in a bedroom at the Sidling Away Bed and Breakfast. She was taken to Pascadero Mental Hospital for evaluation. The rest of the story wasn't there. I swear if I knew what had happened, I would have asked to be sent back State-side for you."

"You never thought to search it out?" Sara demanded.

"No. You were dead, Mom killed Dad, and she was in prison. I went on with my life. Small-Fry there was nothing to look back to. Not that I knew, I know it sounds like a cop out, but its true. I went career after that, well after I heard you were "killed" I never bothered to look them up or anything. I just walked away from it all."

"You're good at that walking away." Sara couldn't help herself but vent her years of frustration and hurt at the betrayal his abandonment had meant for her. "First me, then your daughter."

The man found he had no voice, nor the will to counter the accusations from his sister. "I can only tell you, I was a cowering pissed off kid when you were little. I wanted to send for you, even saved up the cash to do it, when you 'died' I just kept the cash in a savings fund. When Janet was born I used it for her, well saved for her. And started saving all over again to send her to college. And it wasn't court ordered, it didn't have to be but I sent two grand every month for her. Child support."

Sara thought of what Brass told her. The kid had virtually nothing, but Cheryl had the one of the most expensive sound systems including a sub-woofer that was the envy of many a soul. Not to mention surround sound DVD/ DVR and one of those new flat screen plasma tv's. The woman's dvd and cd collection had to run into the thousands, and yet her child was wearing items from goodwill.

Had been, Sara had used what little she has squirreled away and what the foster-care system gave to properly clothe her new daughter as well as put good shoes on Janet's feet as well as a few sets to spare including a set of Pokemon sports shoes that had blinking lights all long the sole that flared to life every time the girl placed any amount of pressure on the bottoms.

"She never saw any of it," Sara said, her voice taking on a note of sadness. "Your ex didn't seem to think 'your daughter' was a priority nor worth much after you abandoned them."

Mark's face reddened for a moment, anger flaring to life in his dark eyes, anger Sara reacted to immediately. She took a step back readying herself for a blow, this time however she wasn't a defenseless child, but a well trained officer of the courts.

"That bitch! That money was for Janet!"

The door flew open with a loud bang of metal against brick, admitting not the uniforms but Brass and a highly anxious Catherine who was bound and determined to be in the room before the detective.

Both Sidle siblings looked up in unison at the besieging at the door, Lindy took a small leap back allowing for the new comers' ingress to be unhindered. It was just as well Catherine pushed the younger blonde out of her way, nearly shoving her to the floor. Only her acrobatic skills prevented an un-gainly sprawl to the tiles, a spider-hop and skip righted the actress to her feet.

Mark stepped back not knowing what awaited him, but he knew the temper of the golden-redhead was flash hot and she and the heavy set captain were both a force to be reckoned with.

"What?" He couldn't keep the defensive tone from his voice even if he had tried. And he had.

Sara was befuddled, she just stared at Catherine and Brass who both looked as if they were to gang-slam Mark to the floor and have their own little private blanket party. Ancient instinct commanded Sara's actions. Instantly the young woman placed herself between her brother and inevitable danger. For a brief moment neither Sidle saw the faces of friends but those of Laura and Matt enraged and full of murder. It was there but only for a flash of an instant then the image dissipated

"Catherine, Brass," Sara turned to her would be saviors, "everything is fine. Mark won't hurt me, he's my brother."

Mark still had his hands up, unmoving. Too many years in the Force commanded his actions. He knew he had to appear as nonthreatening as possible. Dealing with terrified refugees of the Gulf wars Mark Sidle knew how to approach the fearful even if he was in full gear and loaded with deadly weapons.

Once more his voice took on the tones of neutrality and prosaic calm. "A reaction only to learning that my daughter was deprived of what was hers. If you are parents can you not say you'd have the same reactions?"

Perhaps it was his tone, or the cadence of how he pieced his words together or the words themselves, but all at once the demeanor of all Sara's protectors, Brass, Lindy and not least of all Catherine stood down their guard.

Sara returned her attention to her brother. "Your daughter," her voice soft and questioning. "I know you want to see her." A fear resonated in the woman, fear that whispered to her she would lose her adopted daughter to her brother once he saw her. How could Mark not be over the moon in love with that little cherub? But even with that fear now taking squatter's rights within her heart, Sara could not deny her brother the chance to see Janet.

Mark's lips pulled back in a near identical gapped-toothed smile to that of his sister's. "Oh, Sara, thank you! Thank you."

The CSI moved, placing her body between Mark and the door. "Before you do, I need to know now do you plan to take her from me. Are you going to play her father or her uncle? I need to know Mark."

The world held its breath.

The gothic castle was much as Nick remembered it. A castle alone upon a on the hill still as forbidding. The ambiance was only accented by the candle light which seemed to be the only lighting within as well as without.

'This is still freaky..." Nick shuddered as he leaned over the dashboard of the Tahoe, his dark brown eyes taking in the details of the castle.

"Oh yeah, I can see this place appealing to Grissom." Warrick looked up at the castles turrets complete with actual gargoyles perching on the eves in their silent vigil. "So the Mistress of the Dark, do we need garlic, crosses and holy water to talk to her?"

Both men climbed out of the SUV, gathered their equipment, and turned toward the castle.

Nick chuckled. "No, but a strong stomach might be in order." He leaned close to the taller male. "She likes to smack men around with cat-o-nine-tails."

"Oh, leather and whips," Warrick's green eyes sparkled, "I've always had a thing for the bad girl image."

"Then you'll love this place 'Rick."

Taking a look at the massive inset doors, Warrick couldn't help but visualize Grissom in bondage gear. "Oh bad place, very bad place."

"Yeah, its not normal." Nick agreed assuming his partner was speaking of Lady Heather's Domain.

"No, I mean, Gris and this place, chained up..."

"Dude!" Nick winced. "Oh don't do that. I don't want to think of it! I'll need mental-floss just to clean the image out of my brain."

"Glad you could make it, I was beginning to become concerned." A new voice greeted them from the shadows. Lieutenant O'Riley reveled himself to the men, he was no longer rumpled but looked respectable enough to have a conference with the mayor. Or in this case a very empowered dominatrix.

"Shall we?" O'Riley gestured taking point. The Sergeant announced their presence by ringing the bell but didn't wait for anyone to answer. The castle might be a private domicile but it was place of business as well.

Lady Heather was a vision to behold. She was the embodiment of grace and eloquence and seemed to the eye to be almost ethereal and beyond surreal. Warrick was like so many before him caught in the web of her grace and beauty. She was as Grissom once had described her, a dark angel in the flesh. She was a woman who was not only in control of her surroundings but herself, perfectly contained and very much aware of the power she held. Her dark red mane hung in painted perfection. Her eyes... almond shaped and with the perfect Egyptian stroke of mascara were made to appear feline, which added to their hypnotic effect. Any who looked within the emerald orbs saw their soul reflected back, and you knew almost instinctively that she saw your most buried and deepest secrets.

Unable to hold the gaze long, Warrick and Nick both shifted apprehensively wanting desperately to look away. Of all people O'Riley didn't turn away, in fact he seemed to glow in the woman's very presence. The tall dark dominatrix garbed herself in black translucent lace that flowed freely about her hourglass figure. Her perfectly sculpted breasts were concealed erotically behind a strapless blood red bra. An equally tantalizing leather bikini covered her lower half. Her shapely legs were perfectly complemented by the knee length ebony leather stiletto boots. Her full lips begged to be kissed, as did the delicate curves of her neck which was adorned by a black Chantilly lace choker.

"Detective, you do not have an appointment, but I'm sure that we can accommodate you and your companions." She turned to Nick and gave him the grace of a warm if not intoxicating smile. "Welcome back Nicholas Stokes. I was under the impression that you had reservations about my dominion."

"I - er – um…" Nick felt as if the collar of his shirt was strangling him.

O'Riley was feeling his own discomfort, His being a client of Lady Heather's Dominion wasn't something for public consumption. It was something he wanted to be kept exceptionally private. With the labs biggest gossip hounds as witness there would have to be several kegs of beer and a few Playstation2 games to buy their silence.

"Lady Heather, we're here on a professional - my profession that is - matter," O'Riley tried to divert the questions he knew the lads were dying to ask. "A few questions that could clarify a fact on a case we're on."

Lady Heather's emerald eyes swept past Nick and O'Riley to the chocolate-skinned taller male, who was still mute. Nick followed the gaze to see Brown bewitched by the dominatrix.

"Lady Heather, this is CSI-Three Warrick Brown." Nick said, willingly taking a stand in the taller man's shadow. Let him suffer her attention. The CSI couldn't bear to look at the beefy Irishman. It was bad enough to have the image of Grissom in cuffs and a studded collar, to have the vision of O'Riley in that same position was more than anyone could stand.

The woman before them, Warrick found was the sort of woman many men fell for, most were terrified of and now he knew why Grissom was attracted to her. Their boss was always attracted to gorgeous, strong, high-IQ, street-smart woman. Lady Heather embodied all of those things, she was a love letter to her gender. Apparently O'Riley felt the same to be so willing submissive to her power.

"What answers to you think I have that could assist you on your case?" Lady Heather was if anything direct.

Nick remained silent watching for Warrick's and O'Riley cues. After all, the sergeant had a rapport with the dominatrix. "A woman, Alexandria Montague was found murdered several days ago, we recently learned she was in your employ."

If Lady Heather was at all affected by the news she did not let it show. Her eyes, her expression remained completely impassive. Her body so controlled Nick could not help but envision the dominatrix was almost a ceramic doll

"Follow me." She would say no more but led O'Riley and the CSI's up the red carted flight of stairs that wound around a stained glass window featuring a white robed femme-fatale and up yet another flight of stairs that was less ornate. They crossed into the west wing of the castle past ladies getting dressed, and the screams of males enjoying their liberation into submission and into her private chambers. It was something that the Irishman was very familiar with.

Like the rest of the antiquated domain this area had hard wood floors and reminders of ages past from the fire screen to the furniture that was distinctively Elizabethan and Edwardian.

"My private chambers are better suited for this conversation."

Warrick was more than puzzled about the woman's demeanor. "You don't seem surprised."

The red head didn't turn her head as she addressed Brown. "Must I show something CSI-Three Brown for you to know what I feel? What I show and I feel are not related."

Lady' Heather's private chambers were as ornate as the rest of the domicile. Hardwood floors, a walnut wardrobe gilded with gold leaf. A suit of armor polished to a silver mirror finish, near it a shirt of chain-mail and red ostrich feathers. On top of the mantle all manner of masks from steel, to leather to lacquered wood. The thing that caught Nick's eye was the iron maiden or at least that what he thought it was, tucked neatly in one of the corners. Definitely used for torture at one time it was now an item for display. Along the walls hung fetish magazines in frames with none other than Lady Heather as the cover story. Golden hand cuffs, and red silk drapery also decorated the chamber.

Warrick picked up a mask, lifted it so from his perspective it would cover O'Riley's face. "Yeah, this doesn't work for me." He said still trying to wrap his mind around the fact the portly detective was a client of Lady Heather's.

The dominatrix grinned broadly showing perfect white teeth. "I profit from the theatrics of pleasure, allowing people to play out their fantasies. It is liberating to play them in a sanctuary that is removed from Victorian Ideals. Mr. Brown you might find liberation yourself if you free yourself from the restraint you rein yourself with."

"Funny, I thought this place was all about restraint and reins." There was a smile on Warrick's teasing face.

Lady Heather grinned.

Nick leaned in whispering softly, "Flirting?"

The dominatrix chose to ignore the Texan's comment, "Let us sit and talk then of the sordid topic of death, the reason you are here."

Intrigued by the words the dominatrix had spoken, the two CSIs found themselves seated upon red overstuffed chairs whose legs ended in carved lion's paws, around a tortoise shell octagonal table. It was no wonder that Grissom was mystified by this woman she was all sensuality and power. Nick, and Warrick both found themselves thinking of a feline, or perhaps even Cleopatra, whose own sensuality nearly toppled Rome. Was she here now reborn in Lady Heather whose presence could threaten to topple yet another empire?

Warrick shifted under the scrutinizing gaze of the dominatrix, a gaze Nick and O'Riley were quick to look away from. The Texan knew that gaze it greeted him when he first met the femme-fatale. Lady Heather was able to hold them all with her emerald gaze.

"Alex did act as a dominatrix here from time to time, she had a small and loyal client list, those who enjoyed the fantasy of pirates."

"Do you have a list of the men she saw?" Warrick asked.

"No." Lady Heather answered quickly then clarified her response. "Investigating her murder, you know of her personal life, she was a lesbian. She was one of my very few dominatrixes that saw female clients. Exclusively. She was always dominant and never saw clients off the books."

"Would you know if she did?" Warrick pressed.

There was a smile however slim. "Of course, I would. I demand honesty and loyalty of my employees or they are no longer my employees. How exactly was Alex murdered?"

This time it was O'Riley who spoke. "Guys, give us a moment." He nodded his head to the door and the two CSIs complied. "Lady Heather, this is going to be bad." He took out the folder that contained the crime scene photos of the body and the autopsy report. "It's not pretty and once you see what's in there you'll understand why we need to know if anyone of her clients had a connection. Something that will point us in the right direction. We also need to know if a Hank Pedigrew was ever a client here and if he had contact with Alex."

Brown and Stokes lingered a moment at the threshold of the room and what they saw they would not soon forget. The impassive haunting features of a most powerful woman faltered. She said nothing, but her green eyes screamed.

Catherine watched the man standing at her side as he watched his sister wake the sleeping child. Her arms were folded about her smallish frame but she was anything but frail, despite how the stance made her appear.

"What you're doing is wrong." Catherine finally spoke, when she did her voice was scornful.

"I want the chance to make things right, lady. I ran out on Sara and I ran out on Janet. Now I'm going to stop running. I'm going to be my daughter's daddy."

"Sara loves her. And Janet adores Sara. If you love your daughter and your sister, and you want to make it right, then don't do this."

"I have a right to be her father." The man countered.

Sara's fingers brushed up and down along the small girls cheek until she woke, with groggy brown eyes, Janet took in the figure she longed to be her mommy. So deep was that desire, it was the first word out of her mouth when she spoke.


Sara bit her lip hard, her hair fell over her eyes, shielding her face. "He-ey, Sweetness."

"Are we going home?"

"No baby."

A pause of a heartbeat, "Are we going to meet that person?" Janet recalled the reason her Sara brought her to work in the first place.

"Yes honey."

"Sara?" Janet reached for her hero, her small fingers touching the woman's cheek, discovering a wetness there she asked, "Are you crying?"

Sara shook her head slowly, sniffed and blinked away the well of tears blurring her vision. Her arms gathered Janet into her embrace, holding her tightly, "I love you, Janet."

Life makes sense, mostly. Maybe not people's behavior, but for the most part, one thing follows another. Cause and effect. But was the cause here? What was the effect? To Janet something caused Sara to cry. The effect - Janet began to panic. Something was most defiantly wrong and life started to make a lot less sense than it had an hour ago.

"I love you too Sara." This was a certainty. "Sara - why are you crying? What's wrong? Cheryl! Cheryl is coming for me?"

"No! No baby." Sara clutched the girl that would have been her daughter. "No, that will never happen. but - we need to talk."

"Miss Bellevue? Is she taking me away?" Janet pushed away from the arms that held her so securely. "BUT I DON'T WANT TO GO!" the girl screamed. "You said you will be my Mommy, Sara. You're supposed to be my Mommy! You said! You said!"

Catherine turned to Mark Sidle. "I guess you're your father after all. What is this trait of the male Sidle genes; to bring pain and heartache to Sidle women?" Her incredulous voice followed Mark as he began to move for the room.

"I'm going to do what is best for my daughter." He would say nothing more as the door to the small closet-like office closed behind him.

Part 38

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