DISCLAIMER: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and other related entities are owned, trademarked, and copyrighted by Anthony E. Zuiker, Jerry Bruckheimer Television, CBS Worldwide Inc., Alliance Atlantis Corporation, CSI Productions and CBS Productions. This is fanfiction and is written purely for the fun and enjoyment of the fans without profits being made what so ever.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This idea came after watching "You've Got Male" and the phone call Sara made asking the other person on the other end of the line if they wanted to do something. I came up with the someone. I also thought of the hell Catherine was going through in "Outside the Box" about what a lousy way it was to find out Sam Braun was her father.
SPOILERS: Season Two, most specifically "You've Got Male"
ARCHIVE: Only with the permission of the author.

6 Degrees
By Elizabeth Carter

Chapter 9

A black CSI Tahoe was followed by a black and white squad car into the parking lot near the Liberal Arts Building at UNLV. The occupants piled out and started for opposite directions. The park where Janey Doe had been attacked separated the Physical Education complex from the Liberal Arts. It was a hike, but Sara had wanted to re-walk the path the evidence said the assailant took. If Kingsley and Greeson did indeed meet it could have been in the park. The young CSI also hoped it would give her some clue as to where the little girl came from.

Catherine turned to the Liberal Arts building with her own uniform in tow, after watching Sara and the second officer disappear into the park. Instinct wanted her to make the other uniform trail after Sara, but regulations stipulated that she be covered by an officer when questioning a potential suspect in a murder investigation. And even if Catherine didn't think Stirling was good for the murder there was evidence ( planted or not) that said he could have, however unlikely committed the crime. Having been in Stirling's office only the one time, for a moment Catherine had forgotten just how labyrinthian it was.

"The guy we need works in here? What is he some sort of comic-book super science geek." the young man shook his head as he followed the CSI past all the shelves to the desk near the rear of the massive office. Looking at the room once more it was less of an office and more of a converted storage room. The only true window was over the professors desk and it scarcely more than a ventilation shaft.

Upon the desk was the now assembled Gateway, with as much trouble Stirling had, had with the computer either Greeson or one of his students had put the thing together for him. Catherine thought about 'the confounded machine' and the good professor. Lindsey could put a computer together and yet this brilliant man had been utterly confounded by it. It made the CSI wonder just how much the outside world confounded Doctor Dimitri Stirling. Give him a thousand year old puzzle and the man could solve it, but apparently the very present human conundrum was well past this man's ken. Gil Grissom was the same. The man had a PhD in entomology, knew everything there was to know about bugs, but when it came to people, the man didn't have a clue.

The good professor was not to be found in his office despite what his schedule had said. Of course he could have stepped out of the office for a moment. At this particular moment a noise could be heard that seemed to originate from a closet near the back of the office.

As Catherine was wandering through the inner most part of Dimitri Stirling's office, Sara had traversed half way through the park when she saw the familiar form of that same professor, Catherine sought to interview. Turning to Officer Ron Mirer, Sara gained the cop's attention.

"That's Stirling." She said pointing to the man in a hounds-tooth coat. "Ah why don't you meet me at the PE. Complex, I'm just going to notify my partner her witness is here, and I'll detain him."

The young man looked to the seemingly harmless man the CSI-2 had pointed out and back to the pretty brunette. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah, he's not going to give me a problem, go a head." Sara urged. She might not have been able to convince Brass to speak let alone detain Stirling but Mirer was new to the force and Sara decided she might play the card. If nothing else she would make it seem if she pulled rank. After all CSI-2 sounded a little higher up on the proverbial ladder than officer. Mirer was pretty much a beat-cop whose job was no less important than a detectives but he was still a little green.

"Alright then, if you're sure."

An encouraging nod and slight smile was all it took for the young man to comply.

Stirling had noticed the officer pass him, but the professor made no overt actions other than a titled to his dark head. Sara watched for a moment as he lit his pipe and inhaled deeply. Almost playfully he blew out smoke rings.

Sara watched for a few moments as she hit speed-dial on her cell, ringing Catherine's own phone. She heard in the background a few dogs barking, college kids chatting and the distant hum of traffic.

'Willows,' came the Blonde's salutation.

"Yeah Catherine, I have Stirling. He's out here in the park."

'What's he doing out there?' Catherine sounded a little troubled.

"Blowing smoke rings." Sara couldn't help the mirth in her voice. "You want him, or do you want to trade? I already sent Officer Mirer to Coach."

'Yeah, that's fine, I'll take Coach since Stirling is already with you. Sara he's mild-mannered but watch your back, I don't want to explain to Gris that Mr. Mellow turned all Manson.'

"I'll keep an eye open and hey I am wearing my gun." Privately Sara found herself smiling at the concern lacing Catherine's voice. It wasn't the superior smugness she normally heard in the blonde's tone, in fact to Sara's befuddlement the words made her feel a little cared for by Catherine. It was a feeling she further found herself enjoying very much. "Hey Catherine, you have the more dangerous one now, you watch your caboose."

"I have two uniforms with me Sar, I think I am fine. I'll let you know what's going on."

"Like wise." It wasn't a goodbye, and one wasn't needed. Sara snapped the cell closed and replaced it on her hip along side the pager and headed for the professor. She took note in her peripheral vision of the freshman playing frisbee with a dog, art students planaria painting, others studying under trees, but her focus was upon a gangly middle aged man in front of her.

She found him oddly enough rooting about a similar grove of trees where little Janey Doe had been beaten. Around this particular nook of pine trees just like its twin, grew a briar patch of English roses but amongst the deceptively beautiful blossoms and thorns grew yet another flower if not understated by the opulence of the more grander rose.

The professor withdrew from his trouser pocket a penknife and began to delicately slice through the smaller blossoms. It took a moment for Sara to realize what it was this enigmatic man was cutting. It was heather. Her parents grew the same blossoms for their body-scrubs at their B&B. It was one of many things Sara had wanted to her parents to market. They had a plethora of homemade soaps and scrubs at the bed and breakfast and yes they sold a few products, but not like they could. Not like Sara knew they had potential for. Turning away from the limited minds of her parents, she studied the professor once more, debating if she should have Mirer return. 'I do have my gun....'

Once Stirling had a stem he folded the penknife back and slipped it home into his pocket. Sara watched for a moment as the man with sprigs of blossoms in his hand look at the lapels of his suite coat. Frowning he looked at the vest he was wearing then back to the suit coat the befuddled expression on his face grew.

"Bother it all, I've misplaced my buttonholes," he was heard to grumble.

'That was it!' That's what was bugging her about him and why she was a little jittery around him, he had reminded her of someone other than Grissum and it nagged her until now. It was the flower in the button hole that did it. Jimmy Stewart! Doctor Dimitri Stirling was like Jimmy Stewart from old movie 'Harvey' she had loved as a little kid. Dimitri Stirling was the love child between Gil Grisom and Jimmy Stewart.

"Tell me you doing see six foot rabbits named Harvey?" Sara commented as she approached the odd little man. He wasn't so little he had the near same build as Nick Stokes but he carried himself with such quietness, one could not help but think...'little'.

"No. No Can't say that I have." Dimitri took her questions seriously. He looked around them wondering why this beautiful though very young woman had asked such a bizarre question. "Though... I have seen a six foot wolf. UNLV's mascot is a wolf, perhaps you have confused the two?" He offered gently.

Sara waved her hand dismissing te whole line of questions. "Never-mind Professor, it was rhetorical."

"Oh. Oh all right then" Apparently he had forgotten about his futile search for a buttonhole because he was now searching his lapels once more. "Oh well," he sighed and handed the heather blossoms to Sara. "Perhaps these will serve you better than I," he said. "I have no place to put them. An extraordinarily beautiful lass should not be without blossoms." He smiled warmly. It was a smile that a father was supposed to give their child,. It was an experience Sara's never truly had.

Sara could only stare. It was so exceedingly rare that anyone ever called her beautiful let alone give her flowers that she for a moment was stuck dumb.

"You know heather is a remarkably sturdy and extremely independent blossom. The rose....pretends to be resilient but in truth it is more brash. It also is a very boastful flower, it likes attention, craves it, almost demanding it. The heather of course thrives on its independence, one must never try to tame it. The rose is a far better blossom to be domesticated." Dimitri seemed to talking to himself rather than Sara.

For the moment she was content to let him ramble, it would she believed open a door for communications. He was speaking of something beyond flowers. Perhaps Lady Heather and Emily Greeson? This thought in mind Sara had an open door for her questions.

"Professor I need to ask a few questions." She guided him to a bench near the trees and sat down. The gangly professor sat near her, with his hands folded neatly upon his lap.

"If it is about having an extension on the mid-term paper I'm sorry but the answer is no. The deadline is the same for all."

"No no professor I am not one you your students." Sara clarified. "I was in your office the other day remember? From the Crime lab? Sara Sidle CSI."

Dimitri frowned for a moment carrying the expression many a student had during one of his tests, trying to find the answer in the mental filling cabinet. "Oh! Oh yes, yes of course. How can I help you Inspector?" Stirling had all but forgotten about his pipe being lit when he shoved it into his pocket, apparently Sara hadn't caught that it was lit either.

Sara deiced to leave well enough alone. Maybe it was a British thing to call a criminalist an inspector. It was more trouble than it was wroth to correct the error on title. "I need to clarify a few things about... the case. About the altercation you had with a Max Kingsley, and any contact he might have had with Emily Greeson."

"Max Kingsley is wasted potential." Dimitri said, his voice filled with lament. "When one allows for the baser emotions to gain dominance much is destroyed. Often the innocent become unintentional targets."

Sara didn't know if Stirling meant the child that had been killed, his own implication that he was somehow involved with harming the little girl or perhaps Emily's incarceration. Was he confessing in a Zen sort of way or was he trying to convey something else entirely?

"Professor, I need you to focus. Did Kingsley threaten you in anyway after he was expelled?"

"No. Not in any true since of your meaning. He said however ' a wolf was not a beast with whom I would wish to..." here the professor stopped. He swallowed hard and fought against the blush creeping up upon him. "Well lets say he implied I would not wish to fornicate with a wolf."

Sara flashed a toothy grin understanding now why this most proper of gentlemen would not finish the words Kingsley had spoken. The paraphrase would do. "I get the idea. And wolf meaning the football team?" Her nose wrinkled as she sniffed something on the wind but it was quickly gone. But for a moment it smelled like burning fibers.

"Well I believe so yes,. Emily clarified it a bit more, I had first assumed he meant bestiality and of course that is not something any sane person would consent to. And of course it is something I would not wish to do. Later of course I realized he meant the his former team, or rather himself."

"So nothing more than that?" Sara was fishing she knew it. But she needed to define the situation between Kingsley and Stirling.

"No. I told him that his comeuppance was duly paid by Karma, and he chose his path poorly." Dimitri turned to his hip and frowned. "Oh I say!"

"Professor?" Brown eyes grew large as a doe's "your pocket's on fire."

"Oh Bother!" Dimitri leapt up off the bench and in that same motion tore off his coat, thrust it to the ground where he promptly stepped on it. "Emily will have my hide. She is so very displeased when I do that."

Sara was astonished that the man took his coat had caught fire all in stride and was worried about a verbal scolding. At that moment she was reminded just how child-like men could become. Worried about getting in trouble rather than the offence. And it started Sara to wonder if Dimitri wasn't in an abusive relationship. Having dated a dominatrix who knew the limits of the human body and spirt, who knew how to control and inflict pleasurable pain without suffrage, would this not send the professor seeking similar experiences. Only Emily Greeson was no Lady Heather. And not having the understanding that it was the submissive in power, she could completely control this soft spoken man. If he was under Lady Heather's 'liberations', did he take physical abuse from Emily in a vain attempt to recapture what he once held?

"Professor, just what is your relationship with Emily Greeson?"

"She is....a very close and dear friend."

"You know she's being held for questioning for the death of the child?"

"Yes," a very simple if not vanilla answer.

"You don't seem surprised," Sara countered. "Or upset."

"Veridis de Liberate. The truth will set her free, Miss Sidle. I trust the truth. And while in protective custody no harm will befall her."

"Can you tell me what you mean by that?"

"As you know Inspector, the campus has been stricken with malice. Several people have come under attack from person or persons unknown seeking avarice. It is most disconcerting. This innocent's death indicates how truly malevolent things have progressed. The perpetrator will be apprehended of this I am sure."

Sara edged a bit from him making it seem as if she were only finding a more comfortable position sitting on a hard wooden park bench. "You're very confident about that."

"You belong to CSI, Crime Scene Investigation... there is a team here during the day that are dispatched out of the LVPD from North Trope Boulevard, your CSI."

"Yeah...Day-Shift, I know. Did they speak with you?" Sara frowned. There was a constant rivalry between the two shifts and Eckly was renowned for stepping on Night-Shift's and especially Grissom's toes. Something was bothering Sara.

The whole park seemed to buzz with an eerie pre-calm before impending disaster. Turning Sara realized all too late why the world was going in freeze frame.

It was Officer Jarred Olsen in fact who moved towards the small noise, with the intrepid-ness born of a Los Vegas beat-cop. Catherine brought up the rear mindful to give Olsen enough room to maneuver if needs be.

The closet was in fact not a closet, but a small brake room about half the size of the one at CSI HQ. There was a small kideny shaped table in the center of the room, to far side had a faux leather sofa and two easy chairs. The opposite wall there was a counter top complete with a sink. On top of the counter was a microwave and coffee pot. and a dorm-sized refrigerator. The noise they had heard came from the rooms occupant a young man no older then twenty-two. He wasn't a typical science major in fact he was rather brawny weighing in at 200 pounds. His blonde hair had a green skunk strip down the middle. He was wearing royal blue sweat pants with UNLV in white lettering going down either leg. He his sweatshirt had ripped sleeves, reveling a tribal tattoo.

He was rooting about inside the microwave, busing himself with cleaning it out. It was obvious he was not aware he had an audience.

"Geez Doc this is nasty." He grumbled as he used a cloth to scoop out a congealed mass of something undefinable. "Dude...ya gotta learn take the frigging lid off the plastic when you nuke it. "

"Excuse me?" Catherine stepped around Olsen.

The kid turned took in the uniform first then Willows. "Yeah?" Catherine shouldn't have been shocked at the nose stud or the ring in the kid's lower lip, and eyebrow, but it had amused her.

"Can you tell me where Professor Stirling is?"

"He stepped out for a moment. He'll be back soon, he has class in about half of an hour." He looked at the Olsen once more, "You're here about the kid?"

Catherine didn't answer right away, "You are?"

"Tony Bishop." The kid smiled as if that explained everything.

To Olsen it must have, "Quarterback for UNLV, I saw the last game, great play during the last quarter."

"Smack on!" Tony grinned as if he was auditioning for the role of the Joker. "It was a hell of a game, went into overtime." He was posturing now, whether for Olsen's benefit or Catherine's, the CSI couldn't say.

Catherine took the new bit of information in, "Tony, did you play when Max Kingsley was on the team?"

"Yeah fucking psycho. He was all spaz on the field, good for smashing down the line."

"And off the field?" Willows pressed.

"Didn't hang with him much. He's an arsehole."

"Sorry miss, " Tony shrugged, "Doc Dim would bust my...er..he'd be ticked I cursed in front of you. And this is his crib."

Yet another bit to add to the mental file cabinet. "Catherine Willow Los Vegas Crime lab, this is Officer Olsen. I'd like to ask a few questions."

"Sure." the kid shrugged.

"Doc Dim gets ticked a lot?" Catherine asked

"No. The kind of mad my mom gets when I was a kid and she knew I lied about something, she'd never say anything but she gets this look. Like I committed the worst sin imaginable and all I would have done was lie about taking cookies or something equally as dumb. Its that mom-look. Doc is pretty handy with it to. Like you do less then your capable of and he gets that look. Or you do something like..."

"Like use profanity in front of a lady?" Catherine was mildly amused.

"Yeah. Ya know a few things you don't do according to Doc Dim, use profanity in earshot of children, ladies, one's mother and spiritual leader." he rambled the list off like a well rehearsed speech. "Never an occasion not to be polite." Tony added. "The stuff works, my girl is like all gooey-eyed and her parents think I am the bomb. So hey Doc Dim might not be ...er..getting any but he knows his stuff to get a girl's attention. So a guy does well to listen to the old dude" He chuckled at a joke known only to him. "Chicks in the class think some old flame trained him well, and Greeson is taking up where the other chick left off."

Knowing just who Dimitri's old flame was it wasn't far from the truth to say the good professor was trained. And it was quite possible that Lady Heather's influence carried over into his relationship with Emily. And the woman had worked for the dominatrix, she would know a few things about the ideal of dominating another person.

'Liberate her and yourself...' Lady Heather's words echoed in the CSI's mind. Shifting her attention back to the Tony, Catherine began a new line of questioning. "Tony, Just a few more questions. I don't mean to be insensitive but you don't look like the typical student-aid."

The quarterback let out a small chuckle. "I am not an aid, Doc Dim is helping me with a few essays. See you get low grades or something and you can write reports for him to help lift your grade up. Do lousy on a test and he lets you do essays on every question you missed. Means the difference of being benched and playing. I 'm not failing out of college. Ball-player doesn't mean stupid. I aim to have a career outside the pro-circuit."

"I've seen you play man, you own the field." Olsen piped up. "You'd smoke the pro-line."

The officer's comment was rewarded with a look of scorn from Catherine.

"Yeah well until my knees or shoulder gives out. I want something a little more solid to lean on. Doc Dim is helping me with that. Looking in going into Archeology. Girls dig the idea of Indiana Jones, course I know it isn't all like that but hey last year I went on a dig with Doc Dim and it was tight. This year he's taking his best student to Giza. You know King Tut, the pyramid, the real Luxor Pyramid, Its gonna be killer."

"Best student?" Catherine frowned, Tony's own admittance told her he wasn't anywhere near an honor roll student.

"According to Doc Dim, best doesn't always mean acing everything. Best means you give it all, everything you got, I do. Doc Dim says I am one of his best student, cuz I try hard. I want something out of life. Football got me here, Detective but it isn't going to be my life."

Catherine saw the same idolization in the kid, she recognized in Sara for Gil Grissom. And as a CSI, sometimes the evidence was blocked by facts of lying suspects and lack of weapons. But there was no one on night shift that didn't give each case their all, everything they had.

Catherine nodded, Olsen took notes. "The professor seems to have his own fan club."

"I guess. The girls fawn over him, even some of the gays do, but he's not into banging college girls. I don't know but you ask me he could do a hell of a lot better than that old bitty."

Catherine bit her lower lip, trying to maintain her composure. "You mean Emily Greeson?"

"Yeah, she's all over him. And he's gotta love her, or he wouldn't do some of the crap he does."

"What do you mean some of the crap he does?" Catherine wanted clarification.

:"Take that for instance," Tony pointed behind his shoulder with his thumb to the microwave. "The dude hates chipped beef on toast. I mean he nearly gages eating the crud. 'But' he eats it cuz' Greeson makes it. Doc Dim said she makes it every Wednesday night and he eats several portions just so there isn't any left overs. Only when there is, she packs it up for him for the next day for lunch." Tony was laughing. "He heats it up in the Glad plastic with the lid on so it explodes then he gives an excuse that he can't eat it and high tails it to the commissary to eat."

"Yeah, you're right, that's something you only do for some one you care about and don't want to hurt their feelings. I've done the same thing when my mother makes a certain dish I can't stand. I eat it anyway just so I don't hurt her feelings."

"Well mother-figure or his girlfriend, Dim loves Miss Greeson. He even switched his pipe tobacco for her, and he hates the flavor she buys him. But he doesn't have the heart to tell her. Dude I am telling you the only thing missing in that relationship is the rolling pin and the 'yes dear.' He is so whipped."

Catherine snickered thinking just how whipped 'Doc Dim' truly was. His little fan club wouldn't know what to think if they found out their patron professor had formally dated a dominatrix. But knowing this lot, it would give 'Doc Dim' endless 'street cred.'

"You've got a lot of respect for the professor," Catherine stated the obvious. "Other than yourself and Kingsley was there any other of your teammates taking his classes? From what I understood, your Couch had the team pulled from Stirling's courses."

"He tried," Tony shrugged. "There's like six of use taking Doc Dim's courses. Kingsley like some of us didn't fare well on the tests, freeze up and junk. Doc gave him a chance like he gave the rest of us; essays for missed questions and a report for extra credit. Only Maxiepad thought he didn't have to do that shit. See all his teachers in high school passed him because he was a star jock for his school. He got babied, figures UNLV owed him the same pamper treatment. Figured teachers would pass 'em cuz' he deserves it because he gets glory for the school. Only Doc Dim doesn't play that game. It took the other four of us to pull that frigging wack job off of Doc Dim. Hell he didn't even press charges or nothing. Said some Zen-ish thing like karma would get Maxiepad or something.

"I mean man, he was pulp-city, Maxiepad did a number on him and Doc Dim, did nothing. Greeson his lady made a complaint though. Said her ...whatever he is to her was too traumatized to do anything. Doc Dim has tenure and he's like one of the top proffs here. The dude came all the way from Oxford where he used to teach, and only God knows why he'd come to Vegas to teach. Oxford! Dude that's like Ivy League, right? Anyway the Dean expelled Kingsley. Coach got a little pissed off. But backed off after awhile. I told em' I'd quit the team so would my homies if he didn't leave Doc Dim alone. I mean he's as monkish as you can get, and Coach well he made nice. Doc Dim even started coming to most of our games. It was kinda cool seeing ol' Dim try and cheer us on and all. Didn't quite get the hang of the game, but it was pretty cool anyway he 'trying his best' to fit in to the sports world." Tony smiled. "We thought it was so cool that he came to all of our games, and all he did for us we even got him an honorary letterman's jacket."

Catherine opened her mouth stunned. "He has a letterman's jacket? Leather, wool the real deal?"

"Yeah, though he looks kinda geeky in it wearing a button up shirt and bow tie, but he wears it often, that its kinda normal for him now," Tony said.

Catherine took the cell phone off of her belt and hit the Sara's speed dial. Suddenly the 'planted' evidence looked less and less planted. Dunbar tobacco, a woman so in love she would lie to protect him, missing watch and now the honorary letterman's jacket.....Mr. Mild was going Manson...

The other end of the phone answered almost before it rang, 'Sidle!' the voice was stained snapped and distracted. 'Cat, um a little help.....shit!.. Shit! Back away! Back away.......!'

There was the sound of a gun shot

The line went dead.

"Sara!" Catherine screamed. "Sara!"

Olsen was quick he took his own radio "Mirer possible Officer in distress in the park. Shots fired. Collect campus police and converge on last known coordinates of CSI Sidle. Repeat possible Officer in distress, shots fired. "

"Hey!" this came from Tony. "Er ...here... it's the golfcart from Coach, I was borrowing it, to get from one side of campus to the other. It will get you where you need to go faster, it's right outside the north door." He handed Catherine the keys.

"Thank you," the blonde said even as she was darting for the office door, Officer Olsen hot on her tail.

Chapter 10

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