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 40

"So you'd work for Steve Wynn but not your old man?"  Sam Braun scowled.

"Pops would you give it a rest?   You don't have a show in any of your casinos I can be involved in. I'm a stage actor I need to play the part. I love being the pirate and the Treasure Island has the best pirate show in Vegas. I love it. And besides you would never run from trouble, you confront it and you beat it one way or the other. I'm a Braun by blood do you really think I'd not face this shit?  I'm not a fucking coward Pops."

Despite his protection of his daughter, Braun couldn't be prouder. In so many ways his little girl reminded him of another fiery spirited red-headed blonde with blue eyes.  "No, you're not but being brave doesn't mean being stupid. Like you said that's Braun blood in your veins.  Don't bust my chops, Muggsie for wanting to do right by my daughter and keep her alive."

"Which is why I agreed to the bodyguards."

"Then why do they tell me you manage to give them the slip, several times?'

"Better hire better bodyguards."

"Is that supposed to be funny?"

"You're not laughing, Guess not." Lindy shrugged. "If you really want to help me out, Pops, have some of your 'ants' tail a guy by the name of Mark Sidle."

"Sidle - isn't that one of your old college friends?" He frowned.  The name was familiar from another source as well.  Hadn't Catherine mentioned someone called Sidle, someone she worked with?

"Yeah. Sam – she's family.  But the brother is bad news. Sara is top notch."

The frown remained.

"Hey, look just because you share the same name don't make you righteous. I have one brother dead, one in prison, and then there are some of the morally questionable things your hands touched Pops. Sara good, Mark bad.  I don't trust him."

At the mention of his sons Tony and Walt Braun looked down at the whiskey-sour in his hands. He downed the drink stood and looked at his daughter with eyes that held such sadness it broke Lindy's heart to see them.   "I visit Walt about every two weeks.  Pretty regularly.  He has a prison tat of a scorpion on his arm now.  Told me an old Native American story about a scorpion and frog going across a river. It had the Aesop-like moral at the end, you can't go against your nature even if you think you can.  It's in Walt's nature to strike out at blood because of silver, it's mine to be rebelliously independent and piss you off, and it's Mark Sidle's to turn on those he claims to love."

"Do you think he's one that tapped your friend?"

"I don't know.  He has the marksmanship being a marine he would have, but not the motive."

"These fibers came from your floater?" Sara genuinely sounded pleased with the puzzle before her under the microscope.  She might not be able to go out into the field but she still could enjoy solving the riddles of the case.  And this case of Grissom's was more than your average floater body-dump. "Not much to go on. White fiber blend, eighty-seven percent polyester - thirteen percent cotton. Commonly used in a myriad of clothing including: military issue flight jackets, lab coats and casino uniforms to name but a few. "Where on the vic did you find it?"

"It was scraped from under the finger nails," Grissom answered. "He must have tried to grab a hold of his attacker and ripped his finger nail to the quick because I found the fibers caught on the remains of the nail.  His death however is rather extraordinary for Nevada."

"How so?"

"Shark bite."

Sara stared at her supervisor. "You're serious.  A shark? Here in Nevada with no sea water to speak of?"

"No open sea water, there are however aquariums, and one such at the Vegas zoo."

"You're telling me that your man was bitten by a shark and body dumped at Lake Mead?"

Grissom gave a lopsided shrug. "We've had the weird ones before."

"Scuba diver in a tree and drowning in the desert, yeah I recall them.  But this is a little beyond weird, like bad-Sci-fi channel-Saturday-night movie-weird."  Sara slipped a slight gapped-toothed smile. "Gris you have to let me on this case."

"I seem to recall you have bad luck with vicious animals with teeth..."

"If I promise not to get treed by the shark can I go on the field?"

"You're a laugh riot, Alice."

"Oh come on Grissom, let me in on this, more than the lab. I won't do anything strenuous, I won't even carry a kit, and I won't put in the thirteen hour shifts."

"With your daughter, I expect not." the graying man answered softly. He could see the pride in Sara' chocolate brown eyes at the mention of the little girl who was now playing a very pivotal role in the young woman's life. "Three hours in the field and if I see any fatigue, the slightest hint of physical discomfort and you're back in the labs. Talk and walk, no more."


Grissom's _expression changed, softening. Already standing close to her, he reached and placed a hand upon Sara's shoulder. "How are you doing?  I don't mean physically, though that does have concern for me.  But you've been under tremendous strain–."

Sara was indeed taken a little by surprise by Gil Grissom's inquiry then again she wasn't for she knew this enigmatic man and shared a strange if not sometimes problematic relationship. "I'm dealing.  Janet is healing, and we're both discovering what a family is supposed to be for the first time in either of our lives.  The guys are trying not to look at me with pity, I appreciate it.  I do. The looks always burned, I will always remember the looks when I was a kid."  Sara took a deepening breath effectively stilling her emotions, quieting them. "Some of the techs though, they give me the looks, the other half stare at me as if I'm a loose cannon with a gun.  I'm not, not any more than anyone would be if they saw the evil they thought dead come back to life."  Sara smiled causing her eyes to sparkle, "And I have—" she blushed, "someone very special now."

"Your relationship with Catherine."

Sara nodded, "Gris, what I have with Catherine, what we share will never become a problem in the labs.  We won't let it.  God I'm over talking, I hate that when I get nervous."

"I know. You're both far too professional to allow that to happen. You both care too much for careers, for your work, to allow your love lives to be an issue. And since she isn't your supervisor it isn't a departmental issue, it cheats itself out of departmental fraternization.  Only myself and the guys know about what lies between you."

"It will have to stay that way." Sara said glumly.  Grissom took note of the gravity in the tone of her voice.  "Just like most of the world and the 'man's field.' It's dangerous to be outed.  Never know when a bigoted badge might be "caught in traffic"."


Nothing more needed to be said.

"So death by shark in Nevada, this has got to be a first." Sara change subjects and thus easing the slow tension that had built up without either CSI noticing it.

Lady Heather was looking at Nick with an intensity that wasn't at all comfortable.  Her face mask like. Talking with Lady Heather wasn't easy. It was rather like playing with a dangerous animal. 

Nick had come to ask more questions knowing that Lady Heather could be a treasure trove of insight if he could just slip under her graceful power to the heart.  Of course he was still terrified of this woman.  He obediently sipped on the tea served in cups so thin that you could see the shadow of your finger on the other side of the china.  Nick swallowing made a loud noise in the silence.

"If you knew Peddigrew was a danger to Alex why didn't you step in?"

"I dominate others, their will when they are in the Dominion, not the choices they make outside of it.  His obsession in having what he could not is what drove Hank Peddigrew. If not Alexandria then it would have been another.  It is my assessment Alex was a stand in for another, someone else he could not have."

"Who? You don't think this is payback for you not allowing him to have more sessions with you? You never questioned him?"

Lady Heather made a very soft noise that could have been a snarl, aware he had trespassed again, Stokes looked down at the table.  He was moving too fast— what was wrong with him?

"Hank wanted something he could not have as a petulant child he took it regardless.  This is payback, not against me, nor for that matter against Alex." Lady Heather looked coldly at her teacup as if it had spoken instead of her.  It had occurred to Nick that Lady Heather had perhaps said more than she had intended to. But before he could think of an appropriate response, the powerful woman spoke:  "It is a message against lesbians.  Find those close to Alex, and you will find your connection there."

Nick weighed his next question carefully. Finally after a long beat he asked, "Has he ever mentioned a woman named Sara Sidle?"

"CSI Sidle?"

There was another silence.

"No." Lady Heather's tone indicated she was finished with the questions and if he wasn't careful she would be finished with Nick

"You suspect Sara's involvement in this because she and Alex were friends?  That's quite a leap from revenge because I said no that he could not be a client to Alex to her being a friend to one of your colleagues."

"It's a possibility, Lady Heather."

"Yes it is.  Hank Peddigrew is your man, he isn't done."

Nick was judiciously silent

"He is a medic.  He will treat lesbianism as an infection, and the lesbians the disease to cut away from the body. His true target is safe from relative harm. He will kill thus removing the infectious diseased part out of her life, as if surgically removing cancer from the body even if it means removing whole organs from the body to do so.  She is the body.  Find her friends, find the 'cancer' and you will find the next victim."

"He's removing them not as punishment."

"No the punishment is saved for the victims themselves for being a lesbian, but he isn't doing it to punish her for being a lesbian. He believes she is ill and excuses her actions because of that illness. He wants to 'save.' he is under the delusion she is being saved."

"The only problem is that the cure like many treatments is worse than the disease."

Lady Heather's dark head inclined one nodding her approval of Stokes' assessment. 

"So who is the target?"

"You are the CSI, Nicolas Stokes. That lays in your purview."

He smiled softly. "Anyone ever tell you, you would make a wonderful CSI?"

"Yes. Your boss." Lady Heather stood up, singling that tea was over. As he followed the dominatrix silently through the house, the CSI absorbed as much of what was around him as he could.

It was exactly as he had recalled, but in the daylight Stokes had hoped to pick up details that might be otherwise hidden by shadows. Light streamed through the stained glass window of the wanton lady in white.  No doubt some Greek goddess, probably Aphrodite though not of any depiction Nick had ever seen.  The only one he could think of was the one with fat cherubs in the air blowing wind whiles the Goddess of Love stood upon a half-shell. Covering her body with her golden hair looking like Lady Godiva than the goddess of sex, drugs and rock-and roll or was that Venus?

"You seem to be under the impression my domain metamorphoses when sun falls." Lady Heather gave a lazy grin that belied her amazement. "The only thing that truly changes is when all the naughty little boys show up."

"I wasn't…" Nick started to deny his wonder then stopped because there was going to be no way he could with the dominatrix's keen eyes and perceptions.  "Um — Okay, yes I thought this place might look different in the light of day."  He paused pinning the dark redheaded woman before him with an intense look of curiosity.

"Go ahead ask — how can I be involved with something as this?" Heather still sported an amused smile.

"I wasn't—" as before he stopped his denial for the same reasons he had before. "Okay, I was going to ask but–but really it's none of my business what your motive is behind becoming a dominatrix, Lady Heather."

A body in a dumpster behind Caesar's Palace.   Just what she loved dumpster-crawling.  A wicked grin spread across her lips, Greg had been trying to pursue time in the field for possible consideration to be trained as a CSI.  Now was a perfect time to implement the desires of the wiry haired DNA lab-rat.  Oh he might complain but he would comply knowing that Catherine Willows carried a lot of weight not only with Grissom but with the Sheriff.  The latter because Catherine knew how to politic as well as the sleaze ball Ecklie.  Only she did the play with class, and mostly by the time you were aware you were played it was too late to outmaneuver the former stripper.

Still contemplating the call to CSI-HQ Catherine passed the two uniforms who had secured the area allowing her to work in relative piece.  She saw Detective Cyrus Lockwood standing close to the dumpster; she flashed the tall lean man a smile. She always thought next to Warrick, Lockwood was an exceedingly beautiful man to look at.  His wife was very fortunate to have such a man. A smile warmed her soul as she thought of her own beauty whom she had fallen in love with.

Walking up to the lean black officer she spoke, "Hey Cy. So what do we have?"

"Hey Catherine." Lockwood gave the blonde a grim-on-the crime-scene-smile, "Homeless man went looking for something to eat, found our vic.  We hauled him in for questioning." He flipped out a black leather bound notebook, "Said, 'I done seen that dead girl, and I freaked out.  Touch a dead body and the ghost haunt you forever, man." Lockwood grimaced at the poor attempt at street slang.  "He's currently getting sober; you could smell the Mad Dog a mile away."

"You sure it wasn't the dumpster?" Willows jibed.

"Believe me, the dumpster smells like sweet roses in comparison."

Catherine would have answered if not for the ringing of her cell-phone at her hip. The red-headed blonde reached for her cell, looking at the caller-ID she smirked, 'Speak of the Devil.' 

"Hey babe,"

"Hey girl," the voice belonged to Sara.

Catherine turned her back to Lockwood so she might be able to speak to her lover without anyone listening in.  "Hi Babe.  Is everything okay something wrong with Janet, your brother?" Without knowing it Catherine started for her SUV, before the words of her lover stopped her.

"No, Janet is fine and Mark is Mark.  No I'm calling to ask you a question about your college days."

"O–o-okay..." A blonde eyebrow rose. "What about them?"

"In the lab department, not that a desert university would not be able to handle such things, but marine biology, were there any large tanks of sea life?"

"Um?" Willows paused a bit, "Yeah I think so, I seem to remember a lot of tropical fish, a squid and several shell fish. Fresh water fish too."

"What about big fish,"

"Sharks? In Nevada?  I'm assuming your not referring to the gambling-sharks or 'Whales'?"

"Sharks yes."

"Sara what is this about?"  Catherine didn't quite snap but her curiosity was getting the better of her, it was the sort of impatience that hinged on watching someone else open up a present very slowly when all you wanted to do was tear the paper off to enjoy the gift.

"Grissom's floater is a man who was killed by shark-bite."


"Well you had a scuba diver up a tree."

"Yes well… but a shark? Jaws? Here in Vegas?"

"Yes.  I don't think so– the radius of the bite isn't that of a great-white, and yes." Sara answered all the questions.  "I know it sounds like one of those Sci-fi Channel- B-Movies on Saturday night. But it's the truth.  Man dead by shark in Vegas."

"Wait this is Grissom's case?"  Catherine smiled causing her blue eyes to twinkle, "Let me guess he's allowing you to play?"

"I can pout well." Sara retorted with humor in her voice. "Besides this is weird case, I like the weird ones.  Especially if they are benign weird ones."  There was a soft smoky giggle on the other end of the line that caused a tickle of delight to shudder down Catherine's spine. "So how is the dumpster crawling going?"

"Just started, walking the perimeter first taking pics, and waiting for the coroner to show up so I can process the body and the dumpster."

"It's going to be a nightmare to print it."

"Don't remind me." Catherine all but groaned. "But this isn't the first dumpster I've had to print and Lord knows it won't be the last." 

"I better let you get to it.  You know if 'you' ask Grissom for help processing the dumpster, I'm sure he will send it."

"I was thinking Greg."

"Oh." the tone of the other woman's voice became flat

"Babe, you're still healing do you really think you should be crawling around in a dumpster?"

"I could help print it."

"Tempting." Catherine whispered, "But what about Jaws?"  She could almost hear the smile that spread across the lips of the woman she loved.

"Well, there is that.  But if you need the extra hands, we can tag-team Gris into letting me get out into the field."

"What makes you think I can do anything?"

"You're Catherine." Sara answered easily. The faith Sara showed in those two words were remarkable and overwhelming to the blonde-redhead.  "See you later, love you."

"Love you too." Catherine clapped the cell-phone shut and returned it to her hip.  It was time to dig in and start processing the scene. 

After swabbing a few red congealed blotches on the tar with cotton swaps and dripping Luminal on tip, Catherine knew she had blood. The pink hue of course indicated that the blood was human. They led to all the dumpster. Dropping yellow numbered cones, Catherine shot multiple photos of blood drops, for later evidence.  After that things became rote.  Pictures of the dumpster from multiple angles, lid closed, lid open, the body laying on a pile of black trash bags, damp cardboard boxes and host of other unidentifiable garbage in various states of rot and decay.

"Whephew!" Catherine coughed once and pulling back. Her eyes watering from the stench. Her instinct was to cover her nose with the sleeve of her jacket.  "Time for the jumps suit and mask." she muttered to herself.  Her nose was still wrinkled from the stink, but it wasn't going to deter her from doing her job 'And this smells better than the homeless man?  Hard to imagine."

She must have been more involved than she thought for she hadn't heard the heavy steps of David Phillips approaching behind her until she heard his soft voice shyly call out. 'Hi guys."

"Hi David," Catherine recovered quickly.  "She's waiting for you."

His youthful face gave a churlish grin. "Gee thanks."  He moved to the dumpster.  His face wrinkled in disgust at the stench but he had smelled worse.  Liquid man for one.  He grimaced at the memory before closing in on his target.

David took out a thermometer and moved the deceased's arm aside so he could slip the thermometer into the torso of the corpse. After a moment the assistant coroner removed it, checked it:  "88.6 - ten degrees below normal."

"So she died approximately ten hours ago." Catherine did the math.  "That would make it about two p.m."

"Catherine, she's all yours."

"Thanks, David. Okay, let's see who you are ..."

David quickly moved aside. Allowing for Catherine to search for any sort of wallet or purse but came up empty.  Still that didn't mean it wasn't in the dumpster.  And even if it wasn't there were ways to discover who Jane Doe was.

Sara called Nancy to check up on her daughter wanting, needing to tell Janet she was loved before the girl went to bed.

"Hi Mommy." Janet said the name with such naturalness one might think never anything but 'mommy'.

Sara basked in the glow the name, the title brought with it. "Hi Munchkin, you behaving yourself."

"No I'm getting into loads of trouble." Janet teased, feeling delight she could be so free with her Mommy.  It was a liberation she never had before.

"Oh in that case carry on." Sara giggled.  "Sleep well my girl.  Know that I love you."

"Love you too, Mommy. Get the bad guys."

Sara hung up the phone, her lips still sporting a warm glowing smile.  She didn't think she would ever grow tired of that wonderful title. Catherine was right; 'the mommy years are the most wonderful.'   Sara was going to allow herself this one true indulgence and greedily enjoy the 'Mommy years.'

Catherine hadn't called back so Sara assumed she was lost in the work of processing a dumpster. A few short hours ago the body of a young brunette female; identity yet unknown came back to the coroner for special processing as per Catherine Willow's orders. 

Inside a dumpster there were sure to be insect activity which would bring in Grissom's expertise.  Sara grinned to herself, time to monopolize on something other than 'the mommy years'.  Time in the lab.    She knew she could talk Grissom into allowing her to help Catherine with lab work especially if she countered she truly wanted to help Nick with Alex's case.  Grissom had already placated her with the shark-man but now she could also help on dumpster-girl.

It took some time to process the dumpster, by the time Catherine returned to the labs Jane Doe was already on the slab and in the middle of the autopsy.

"What do we have, David?" Catherine asked upon entering the cool confines of the autopsy room with Sara on her heels.

"Vic's got a post-mortem contusion on his forehead. Probably from the impact of being thrown into the dumpster," came the reply.

Catherine leaned in close getting a better view of the young brunette. She frowned for a moment as she took a pair of tweezers as she removed something from the body's nose. "A fiber in her nose."

"Yeah, I'll get it to trace." Sara said putting the fiber into a bindle, after which she gave her own inspection of the corpse. Checking the eyes, she spoke once more. "Petechial hemorrhaging."

"I would've thought she was strangled during some kind of rough sex-play, but there's no visual marks." David said.

"Suffocation maybe?" Catherine looked up to her partner.

"That's why undertakers love smother-victims." David put in his own two cents worth of thought.

"She's got something under her nails." Taking one of the other instruments on the tool-tray Catherine begins to dig out the crud from under the nail and put it into another bindle. "And what did the tox report give us?"

"Alcohol count was point twenty." David answered.

"Double the legal limit." said Catherine.

"There was no limit to Jane Doe. Blood work showed heavy traces of M.D.M.A."

"Ecstasy? And alcohol? Party mix."

"Yeah, it might have made her docile."

Sara cringed at David's rather vanilla delivery, but she knew the more clinical he was the more upset he was that the vic was a possible date-rape.

"All I can tell you is cause of death. Injury to the cervical spine. I would say it looks to be hands-on but there were no abrasions on her skin to indicate such.  A fall maybe.  Pushed?"

The three of them examined the deceased's neck. It was Catherine who turned away first, not because of the marks but to see the x-ray mounted on the lighting-board. From it she could see the dark-haired woman's spine and neck.  There were several spinal breaks.

"Somebody–something snapped her neck." Catherine said.

"She died instantly," David concurred.

Back to the body David pointed to the forehead on the head. "As I said before the contusion to the forehead, was post-mortem. Something cut her arm up… I found glass in all the incised wounds. Except for these abrasions on her breasts and on the small of her back."

He rolled her over slightly so the CSIs could see the scratches.  Catherine took out the camera and took several shots as she did with the abrasions on the breasts.

The three of them studied the scratches on her breasts.  "Fingernails maybe. Possible sign of struggle." Sara spoke softly. "Could have been made during sex, in the heat of the moment."

"Yeah but they seem small.  Of a female hand—" David blanched as a thought occurred to him how a woman could have come to have scratch marks on her breast from another female. "I–er–ah-- swabbed the abrasions for foreign DNA sent it to the lab."

As she continued to take pictures Catherine spoke to Sara, "elaborate tattoos ... perfectly dyed hair." She showed both David and Sara the corpses' left ear with multiple piercings. 

"She has a pierced navel and...." He lifted up the sheet and showed Catherine and Sara the vic's pierced navel and scorpion tattoo.   "Her–ah–clit-- clitoris is pierced as well.  I discovered it taking a SARS kit." Again the man blushed having to relay this information to the women before him.

"Oh relax David.  My own navel is pierced." Catherine chided him.

Sara smirked. "You too ehe?" she winked. 

David's blush passed pink and became hot-red.

In a rare moment of mercy Catherine chose to switch the conversation back to Jane Doe. "Multiple body piercing. Tells me she craved attention."

"Sure." David gave a hesitant shy smile.

"Dana Marks." Sara said suddenly, causing both heads of the other occupants in the room to look at her. "Her sister was just like that. Tats and piercings, an attention-monger. Dana was the wall flower, her sister the wildflower."

Catherine moved from the table to stand near Sara her words soft and for lanky woman alone. "I know what you're thinking, and there is no way you are like Dana."

"You're wrong.  I–we had the same exact mailing-lists.  I did most of my shopping the exact same way and on speed dial I had take out-joints."

"Well now you're a mom, and you're cooking for your little girl.  A wall-flower no, a woman with a loving mom's social life, yes.  But then so am I."

Sara snorted. "You had a social life—"

"Still do babe, you." 

Sara found the corners of her lips curl up into a smile.  

"So what's going on about this shark-thing?" Catherine asked far more interested in the body found in Lake Mead than her own case.   It wasn't every day a shark-attack was reported in the desert city of Nevada.

Part 41

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