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 46

Sara rubbed the weariness from her eyes feeling the long hours of her shift seep into her brain.

"Not a good look for you babe," Catherine greeted her lover deftly on the feet of a dancer the older woman moved from the door to the coffee pot and systematically filled two mugs with the dark caffeinated brew. One Splenda for her, two sugars for Sara she stirred both before turning to the table and setting the steaming mug in front of the brunette.

"Gee thanks." Sara's sarcasm always became more acidic when she was bone-tired and mentally drained. Most of the time the young CSI loved the challenge of a good puzzle in a case, the daunting task of proving or overcoming a particular riddle in a case, right now she looked like she wanted to crawl into bed.

"An hour left to go love," Catherine changed tactics. At one time she might have hit the other woman between the eyes with a scathing remark then sardonically take it back with saccharine falseness. But truth be told Catherine hated that part of herself. The part had been the preppy-girl in school always bullying the science-nerds.

Until Lady Heather pointed out this trait as was weakness in her otherwise very dominant personality Catherine was unwilling to acknowledge her attraction for Sara. And then one day she had kissed her. It had been such a natural reaction and it shocked them both how easily it had been accepted. A little peck on the cheek before leaving the lab to retrieve a couple of cans of pop and damn it was all there right in the open.

Neither one had regretted the transition of their sometimes friendship to lovers. They might have not had intercourse but in so many small ways, ways that had nothing to do with sex, they had made love. And it had been the best feeling in the world to Catherine who had been a love-'em-and-leave-'em-wanting-more type of gal. But Sara never played those games. Never the fling. Catherine was tired of flings, and she had her share with both sexes. Right now she was over the moon happy with her relationship with Sara Sidle.

"How's Shark-boy?"

"Try tracing white fibers to one particular lab coat."


"Yeah, I think I'd rather try printing a radiator cap for prints again than find a match for the lab coat. And yes we looked for coats with human DNA splashed on it. Came up nil. A few with fish guts on em' but it is an aquarium that feeds live fish and baits their sharks into tanks with chum so no surprise there."

"So nothing definitive?" No wonder Sara was so tired; she would take this lack of evidence as a personal blow. For a moment a wash of leeriness flashed across Sara's eyes. "I wasn't trying to be smug Babe." Catherine caught the look and understood why. She didn't blame Sara for looking for a dig at her skills. In the past Catherine had been swift to point out any fault in her the younger woman's abilities as a criminalist. Compliments were still something very new for Sara to hear coming from Catherine's lips. "If the evidence isn't there it isn't there, you just have to prove Shark-boy's death with something else. You're great investigator Sara, you'll find something. You don't need my validation Babe, just follow your instincts."

Catherine felt her heart flip as she saw true awe and happiness in the chocolate eyes. It was a look that burned deep into Catherine's soul as it had the first time she had paid Sara a compliment. The brunette wasn't egoistical by any stretch of the word but after so many disparaging or cutting remarks from Catherine in the past year a true acknowledgement she was seen as an equal had brought joy to the Californian native.

A teasing gapped tooth grin etched its way on the young oval face, "Not very Grissom-ish to follow instinct over evidence."

"I'm not Grissom."

"Thank the goddess for that." Sara smiled heartily then surprised Catherine by leaning over the table and placing a chaste kiss on her lover's lips, "If you were we wouldn't be together." Her breath became softer smokier, a purr in the ear. "I like my lovers nubile, extremely intelligent blondish-red and feminine,"

"Lovers, ehe? As in more than one? Would I be worried?"

"Fictional women do not constitute competition." Sara said keeping her voice as serious as possible despite the teasing light in her eyes and her mouth pulling to a grin.

"Fictional… so who are your fantasy lovers?"

Sara blushed. "I'm not a fan girl sort mind you but hey…." She shrugged a little embarrassed. "Okay fine I like Sam Carter on Stargate and I like Seven of Nine and Captain Janeway."

"The Barbie-Borg bim-bot?"

"She isn't like that. Only the male writes turned her into eye-candy for pimply faces boys named Kevin. But she's rather smart, sexy and feminine but I have to say the bio-suites have to go."

"Naked ehe?" Catherine chided her young lover.

"Uniform. I'm a sucker for a uniform. She looked sexy in the all in black ninja outfit and in the Starfleet uniform. And Sam Carter looks sexy in anything she wears. Very cute in the BDU hat. And before you go there yeah I know Seven and Sam are blonde not redheads but I like the color. You, by the way, look very sexy in the black tac-vest and cute as hell in the coveralls."

"Coveralls are cute and sexy?" Catherine snorted, "And all this effort wasted on designer look-alikes from outlet stores when I could be running around in CSI coveralls."

Sara shrugged helplessly or rather shamelessly.

"Redheads… Kate Mulgrew isn't she a little old for you?"

"Age is irrelevant." Sara said easily shrugging. "Smart, powerful and yeah I find her very appealing."

"You like bossy women?"

"I fell for you didn't I?"

Catherine gaped but then let out a great laugh.

It was at that moment the Nick and Warrick appeared in the break room staring in awe at the blonde who was laughing not at Sara but apparently with her. They knew the two had come to a new level of relationship but the transformation of this bond still caught them off-guard.

"Give it up ladies - what's so funny." Warrick's smooth voice asked.

Catherine was going to tease Sara about the little quirk about thinking she was sexy in her overalls then thought better of it. Sara would misread the jibe and react as if she had been slapped. There was no reason to turn their light playful bantering into something ugly and found only in the locker-rooms of addlebrained jocks.

"Private in-joke guys, sorry."

When Catherine saw the relief flood her lover's dark eyes she knew she had chosen the better part of valor. It had been a timely reminder when Sara had to mentally search Catherine's comment for a hint of stinging sarcasm. So much of their past wasted in belittling heated venom when the most delightful love was there waiting to be explored.

The blonde-red head placed a hand on her lover's shoulder and lightly squeezed before she whispered, "Yeah you did. Fortunately I happen have a thing for dark haired women in lab-coats." With that she disappeared out of the breakroom leaving the new comers still pondering what it was they had walked in middle of.

After Catherine left the men turned on Sara.

"Spill Sidle." Nick's Texan accent came across in his warm friendly demand.

"Like the lady said boys it's private." Having said that Sara took her now tepid coffee and left for the back drying room that she had sequestered almost as her exclusive private lab.

"Man… we're always out of the loop."

"Not wise to rile a woman about private things Nicky. They get even if you do and when they get even they get nasty."

Nick turned his face to the taller man with a cocked eyebrow. "Since when did you become so wise, Yoda?"

"Since those two became an item… no man's land. You picking up what I'm laying down?"

Nick snorted through his smile. "I hear ya. So 'Rick, coffee?"

Holding someone in a place they don't want to be, asking them questions they don't want to answer was all in a days work for the Las Vegas law enforcement personnel. In fact Jim Brass was adept at needling out confessions from suspects, often times the more uncooperative the better. His unassuming manner, and non-threatening visage made the suspected overconfident and that often led to arrogant mistakes.

Brass enjoyed catching suspects with what he called 'felony stupid.' In his book feeding a guy to sharks and then dumping said gnawed-on body into Lake Mead was felony stupid.

Doctor Patterson had been hauled in by Jim not an hour ago. For the moment she was held - not charged - on the count of suspected murder. The only other LVPD staff member present was Gil Grissom head of CSI nightshift.

Sidle had opted to stay behind the observation glass and watch the proceedings. She did now not because she was afraid of another suspect who had used large animal with very sharp teeth and a powerful jaw to attack her, but because her supervisor was. And in this case it was simply easier to agree than argue over the aspect of misplaced chivalry. It wasn't - it was responsible management. Sara after all was still healing and for another two days was on light duty. And oddly enough despite the sitting and talking interrogation wasn't necessarily considered light duty.

The young woman listened intently to the interrogation led by the homicide captain.

"Your prints came back positive when we compared them to the prints recovered from the murder weapon." Homicide Captain Jim Brass related the information to the woman he had taken into custody for the murder of Ivan Karkaroff. "Care to explain it."

"I'm all over that area back there; I could have handled the pipes at anytime." Vickie Patterson scoffed at the men before her with a quiet smugness. "That is circumstantial at best."

Grissom smiled, "We never said anything about pipes Dr. Patterson." He watched her with a scientist's eyes. Fifteen per cent of violent crimes in America were carried out by woman. He knew statically speaking a female killer could be just as lethal and dangerous as their male counterparts and at times more cunning.

Vickie's face dropped from smugness to what is often referred to as the 'oh shit' expression criminals often carry when they just admitted culpability in the most inane fashion. Wincing she closed her eyes looked to the floor and shook her head. "I want my lawyer."

"I thought you might." Jim's hang-dog face sported the smugness Patterson had recently given up. "So help us out here, and maybe yourself from murder one to maybe man-three. We're just talking here… so what happened? If you were acting in self-defense over something inappropriate Karkaroff did why perpetuate the crime and feed him to the sharks?"

Patterson sneered at the detective, "Because the slimy bastered deserved nothing better, feed a shark to a shark."

"You took pains to make it look like an accident or point to the finger to Dr. Stirling." Grissom said, his eyes never leaving the naturalist's. He had to admit Patterson had been very careful, methodical and she would have been very successful had she not spoken of the pipes. The only way she would have considered the pipes as a murder weapon was if she had in fact used them as such or knew they were responsible for the killing blow.

"A fortuitous encounter between them, it was happenstance that he became involved. I studied marine life for years, wrote several papers for marine–biology forums and zoological factions. Crocodilian and most predatory marine life are opportunists, as well as hunters. I simply put observation into action. I snatched the opportunity when it came my way."

"Why?" Brass pressed

Vicky shook her head no, her arms folded over her chest defiantly. "Lawyer first Captain Brass, not another word until then."

"Fine, I have a nice cell waiting for you until your attorney comes," he got up, went to the door and gestured to two waiting uniformed officer waiting just outside the interrogation room. "Take Dr. Patterson to central booking on the charge of the murder of Dr. Ivan Karkaroff."

Cuffs were slapped on the naturalist's wrists prior to being led out leaving behind the two men.

"She almost had it." Brass said darkly. "Evidence went two ways accident or murder it wasn't conclusive." He rubbed his hands over his face, his mind boggled over the interview. Patterson hadn't given any motive to her killing, showed neither remorse nor the rage the detective associated with killers. He knew better than to ask Grissom what he thought the motive was the entomologist would rebuff the question with the classical he only worked evidence, motive was Homicide's department.

"The philanthropist Lord Astor once said, 'Everyone starts out totally dependent on a woman. The idea that she could turn out to be your enemy is terribly frightening.' Karkaroff made a very deadly enemy and a very efficient one."

"Efficient?" Brass turned to his friend "Care to clarify there, Gil?"

"Sharks are one of the most efficient killers in the ocean, perfect in execution. She was too. Deadly and precise enough to make the death look like an accident by the evidence left behind, everything neatly explained; chargers would be drawn up not against her but the owner of the hotel for his ordering the body dump. She was careful in not having anything to do with those orders."

"She still got caught."

"Because she assumed her guilt was already known. She gave up the fight; all we had to do was reel her in."

The interrogation was specifically set up that way so the suspect would incriminate themselves. Patterson's mind was on the pipes so that's what she heard when Jim said murder weapon.

Sara was intent, placing black olives slices onto the mound of salad of roman lettuce, fresh spinach, baby corn, raw sugar-snap peas, cucumber and cherry tomatoes. All was left was to top three of the four bowls off with shredded colby-jack cheese. The dressings would be left up to the individual.

Catherine walked behind her in the narrow space between counters that the kitchen allowed rubbing Sara's long back in the process, "So you got your perp?" she said leaning over Sara's shoulder and nicking a olive from her hand.

"It's up to the DA now." Sara said "We gave them a ton of evidence but all of it circumstantial."

"O.J. Simpson ehe? Guilty as hell but the evidence is not concrete."

Sara sighed. "Yeah. Her prints on the pipes could have happened at any time, he was wearing a lab coat and so was everyone else including Dimitri Stirling when he was in the back, the snag under the finger nails again could have happened at anytime and may not even be related."

"You don't believe that?"

"No not entirely. But the evidence doesn't lie and in this case its hard to tell what it IS saying. One thing is clear though we have the owner up on negligence and obstruction of justice, and we have three of the lab techs for the body dump and conspiracy to commit a felony of said body-dump."

"You think this shark-doc of yours will get off?"

"Probably. Like you said O.J. Simpson, but she will be charged with contaminating a wild-life protected exhibit and she will do jail time for that. Those golden-crocs are expensive and a nationally protected species." Sara smirked morbidly. "The beasts with the teeth got her in the end."

Catherine 'stole' another olive before collecting the glasses from the high cupboard closest to the fridge to set them on the counter for one of the little girls to take and place on the table.

"I'm glad it wasn't you this time. Being treed by a coke-headed Cujo was bad enough."

Sara smiled softly and smiled. "Oh I don't know. It was that incident that let us open our eyes and take what was right in front of us." She kissed the redheaded woman softly on the lips. "And the opportunity to lay in a course of actions that allowed me to have my daughter."

Sara cocked her head slightly at an angle so she could see her tiny girl finish setting the table for dinner.

"I think that is actually Lindy's doing." Catherine responded. "Her and her pirate show," a smile of pride, "and of course Lindsey's willingness to open her heart and look out for the new girl. Something her mother should have done a long time ago."

"We already talked about this, Cat. I was investigating your friend of course you were defensive."

"For a whole year? And well that remark I made about her birthday last year…"

Sara placed her long fingers on Catherine's lips. "We had this discussion too. And I forgave you. It hurt when you said it and for a time after that but… I know how to deal with that."

Catherine looked down at the hardwood panels' of Sara's floor. "I'm so sorry."

"Hey, forget it okay?" Sara was becoming increasingly nervous about the subject of her past. "Right now, right here it's the four of us having a good time with salad and spaghetti with rich garlic and basil tomato sauce."

Catherine gave her lover of a handful of months a grateful smile filled with warmth and love. "You said like that Brit-guy….Janie Oliver."

Sara rolled her eyes, "He's annoying. I still laugh when the girls thought 'the naked chef' was a naughty program… and decided to sneak a peek at the 'forbidden'."

"That was my nephew's fault he set them up." Catherine chuckled. "He knew the truth but of course it was the perfect opportunity for a practical joke on the girls."

Sara shook her head at the gullibility of the seven year olds and she thanked the moon and stars it was the innocence within them that could be teased but not harassed nor victimized.

"Mommy." Janet called her mother's attention to her. "When are the garlic breads done?"

"Shit!" Sara turned quickly to the oven and turned off the gas. "Good call, Little-Bit you saved the bread." Putting her hand in a black-white checkered oven mitt, Sara opened the oven door, reached in and withdrew a baking sheet with slightly more than golden-brown slices of fresh-bread topped with garlic and mozzarella cheese. The edges of the cheese had distinct burnt-ness to them. "Ah well it adds flavor." Sara said disgruntled putting the hot tray on the surface of the stove.

Janet came over and rising up on her tip-toes looked at the slightly charred bits of bread, "You're not going to dunk that in your drink are you?"

Sara snickered recalling the topic of the merits of dunking burnt toast in coffee. "No sweetie. As you said so well… 'eww.'"

Janet laughed at her mother's crinkled up nose and grimace at something gross.

"But I will dunk it in my spaghetti sauce."

"Oh well that's alright that isn't a eww factor." Janet approved.

Catherine chuckled enjoying this side of her lover and colleague. Motherhood had done wonders to get Sara out of her shell. Now she had someone to protect and to love who loved her back. Who wouldn't abuse her as so many in the tall young woman's past had done. Janet had someone to look out for her, love her without abusing her as her birth-mother had done, as her birth father had abandoned her. That was something Sara would never do.

Six degrees had separated the two and brought them back together.

Catherine sat pondering another connection one that had surprised her and nagged on her mind as a bit of elusive evidence. There had always been speculation on Catherine's part to her connection to Sam Braun. He was always there in her childhood memories. Just how far back did that connection go? Catherine knew Braun and her mother were lovers, and Willow had off-and-on wondered if the man who was Lilly's husband was in fact her father or was it Braun?

And if so… then that tiny fierce red-headed pirate was not simply a friend to Sara and her former lover but Catherine's sibling. Nancy was her sister but was Lindy as well?

Maybe it was time to start asking the question.

Part 47

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