DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The Assignment
By Ann


Round 27

After several minutes of watching me unravel before her eyes, Catherine places her hand on my back, gently rubs up and down my spine, and says "Sara, we can skip this place and head back home. I can see that you're upset and there's no need for you to push yourself. It's just the first night. We can come back tomorrow or Friday."

The back rub seems to calm me. I lift my head saying "No. I'm okay. He may very well be here and we can't take the chance of missing him."

I open the door and step out. Catherine turns so that I can lift her out of the truck. She hugs me but doesn't pat my ass this time.

I take her hand and lead her across the street. There are only a few couples in line and I do not know this particular bouncer so we decide to wait our turn.

In 20 minutes, we are inside. I again head to the bar with Catherine in tow. We both decide to only order one drink each this time around. We follow the same routine as before, me on the stool, Catherine in front.

Finishing the drinks, we head to the dance floor. A song with a salsa beat begins to play. Catherine gives me a very sultry smile before she begins to dance around me. One look in her eyes and I'm toast.

As she continues to dance, I notice how warm it's getting in here. My earlier mental preparation is wearing thin and my libido is moving to the forefront. Catherine is not helping the situation by occasionally rubbing against me. God certainly has a warped sense of humor.

By the time the song finishes, I am one sexually frustrated individual. I flinch slightly as Catherine touches my face. She pulls my head down to hers and looks directly into my eyes before bringing her lips up to meet mine.

I taste the peach and cranberry from her drink along with a flavor that is exclusively Catherine. Our tongues duel as I pull her closer to me and slide my hands to her perfectly round ass. She holds onto my neck and gives as good as she gets.

I pull my lips from her and hug her tightly to me. If I died this very minute, the mortician would never be able to remove the smile from my face.

Even in my state of bliss, I get the feeling of being watched. I always know when someone is watching me. I guess I developed a sixth sense from my childhood traumas.

I glance in the direction of the bar. There are a couple of guys who fit the initial description of the suspect. Neither of them appears to be pleased with our performance. Of course, neither one of them had the pleasure of having Catherine's tongue down their throat either.

I whisper my suspicions to Catherine who by the way is attached to me like a limpet. She agrees to follow my lead as I step back and pull her to me with her back against my chest. Catherine turns her head as I nibble on her neck.

I rotate us to give Catherine a view of the bar area. Between the two of us, we should be able to give accurate descriptions of the potential suspects to Maggie.

I look down at Catherine and notice she has her eyes closed. Chuckling, I whisper in her ear "Cat, you need to have your eyes open to see these guys." Her eyes immediately pop open as her face turns pink.

My, oh my. Either Catherine is well on her way to earning her Emmy or she is enjoying my touch. Perhaps a little of both are involved, but in my fantasy world, I'm going with the latter.

Catherine very subtly scans the bar area as I move us into a slow dance. One of the men has moved to a table very close to the dance floor. I instinctively pull Catherine even closer and move us in the direction of his table. Catherine has now spotted the man as well.

As the song ends, we are directly in front of the possible suspect. Catherine turns in my arms and lightly kisses me. Making sure she is talking loud enough to be overheard she says, "Baby, I need you to fuck me senseless and then slowly make love to me. Please take me home."

I give her a devilish grin and pull her toward the door surprised my feet are able to move after such a directive. We slow our steps when we get outside just in case the guy decides to follow us.

I once again lift Catherine into the cab. I casually look back at the club as I get into the truck. There does not appear to be anyone following us, but I still have a strange sensation we are being watched.

I pull out of the parking space and stop at the red light. Catherine is seated almost on top of me. She puts her head on my shoulder as she looks out the side view mirror. Her faced is flushed and her breathing a bit erratic.

I ask "Hey, Cat. Are you okay? I didn't hurt your hand when we left the club did I?"

She responds "No. I think I must have gotten overheated dancing."

No shit. I got overheated myself and I wasn't the one dancing. In fact, I almost proved a human really can spontaneously combust. Warrick would have been proud.

We've driven a different route back to Catherine's house. I wanted to know for sure if we are being followed. With all the different turns, it appears we have not picked up a tail. I don't know whether to be disappointed or relieved though relief should be welcomed at this time. I think it will be nice to come home this first night without having to worry about continuing the charade.

I pull into Catherine's driveway and turn off the engine. Catherine has regained her composure and is seemingly back to normal. I wish I could say the same for myself. I do believe a cold shower is in order, a very cold shower.

I get out and turn to lift Catherine out. She raises her eyebrow but allows me to help her.

As Catherine places the key in the lock, the door opens revealing Erin. She moves back and allows our entrance.

We move to the kitchen area while Catherine makes a pot of coffee. We give Erin the highlights of the night's events. She will inform Maggie of the details when she returns to her apartment.

Erin writes down her apartment phone number and tells us to call if we need her. I walk her to her car to say goodnight. I tell her to be sure to tell Maggie that I am sacrificing myself for the greater good. She laughs as I describe my sexual frustrations.

When I walk back into the kitchen, Catherine is nowhere to be found. The cups have been rinsed and the coffeemaker is ready for the morning brewing.

I turn out the lights in the kitchen and den area and make my way into the bedroom—our bedroom.

I see the light on in the master bathroom. I decide to get my "sleepwear" from the dresser drawer and go to the bathroom in the hall. Cold shower, here I come.

Standing under the cold water is helping until I get an image of Catherine dancing at the clubs. Maybe I can figure out a way to have an ice bath after the next club night.

I towel off, put on my tank top and boxers, and head back to the bedroom. The light on my side of the bed is on. Catherine is already under the covers.

She appears to be sleeping which is a relief for me. I'm not ready to talk about tonight's activities until I get better control of my emotions. In fact, it will be just fine with me if Catherine avoids the subject all together.

I turn out the light and get into bed. Even thought the bed is quite roomy, I find myself hugging the edge. I would rather fall on the floor than to sleep close to Catherine.

Not too much later, I find myself drifting into a peaceful sleep. My last thoughts are of what life would be like if I truly were in a relationship with Catherine.

I awake before dawn and make a move to look at my watch to see the time, but for some reason, I can't move my arm. The reason becomes quite apparent when I realize my arm is pinned to my side because Catherine is practically lying on top of me.

Just my luck, Catherine is a cuddler and I am her human teddy bear. She must have had a female teddy bear as a child because she seems to be partial to breast cuddles. It seems my nipple has its very own wake up call.

I begin to extract myself from her grasp only to have her increase her grip. And I do mean a tighter grip. In fact, I am feeling this particular hold all the way down to my southern extremities.

Please, do not let her wake up with us in this position. I gently stroke the back of her hand. She slowly releases her iron tight grip on my right breast as I slide onto the floor.

As I stare at the ceiling, I come to the realization I am in hell. No one could have come up with a better form of punishment than this.

I think about taking another cold shower, but I don't want to wake anyone up with the running water. How am I going to survive this constant state of horniness?

Ah, I believe I have come up with a temporary solution. I grab my bathing suit, change in the master bath, and head for the pool. The water should be just the right temperature for a temporary fix.

I dive into the pool and head for the center. Holy shit, this water is really cold. Now my nipples are standing at attention for another reason.

I tread water for a few minutes before deciding to get out. As I swim toward the end, I see Erin walking toward me with a worried look on her face.

Not wanting to go into this particular explanation, I decide to sink to the bottom of the pool instead.


Round 28

I hold my breath for as long as possible before surfacing. Erin is standing there looking at me as if I've totally lost my mind. Perhaps I have.

She reaches for my hand and I allow her to pull me from the pool. Without a word, she hands me the towel from the nearby chair. I wrap the towel around myself and start for the house with Erin right behind me.

As I open the door, Catherine is rounding the corner from the hall. Before I can say a word, Catherine attacks. "Damn it, Sara. How many times do I have to tell you to stay out of the pool until the sun heats it up some? Even Lindsey has better sense. Do you have a death wish? Do you want to catch pneumonia?"

Ah, let's see. Die of pneumonia or perpetual horniness? At least with pneumonia, I would feel too crappy to be horny.

As I seriously contemplate my preferred cause of death, I realize Catherine is standing directly in front of me pulling the ends of my towel closer together to keep out the chill. Her expression has changed from pissed off to concerned.

I am shivering uncontrollably, but I'm not sure if it's from a possible case of hypothermia or Catherine's proximity. Catherine's voice interrupts my confusing thoughts.

"Sara, you need to get out of that wet bathing suit and into some dry clothes. I'm finished in the master bath. Why don't you go take a hot shower and use the shower massage to loosen you up? We have about an hour before we have to leave for work. Erin and I will make breakfast while you get ready."

Two words make it through my mental fog, shower massage.

I turn and walk down the hallway to the bedroom and enter the master bath. I reach in with a shaking hand and turn the water dial to hot while I strip out of my bathing suit. I adjust the dial slightly and step under the stream.

The pool sounded like a good idea at the time, but now that I am having a difficult time getting my body temperature back to some semblance of normal, I'm not so sure. I believe this would be the equivalent of overmedicating oneself.

Finally, after about 15 minutes, I begin to thaw. I finish my shower and wash my hair. Stepping from the shower area, I realize I did not make use of the shower massage. Oh well, I'll have to save it for another day.

I step into the kitchen to see Erin, Catherine, and Lindsey sitting around the table eating breakfast. Catherine motions for me to take a seat as she gets up and brings me a cup of coffee and some toast.

We keep the conversation light during the meal and allow Lindsey to lead most of the discussions. Erin offers to clean up so we can get to work a little early. She tells us to seek out Brass when we get to headquarters. It seems Maggie has a possible change of plans for our night.

Catherine and I take the Denali into work. I hated to leave the truck; I am already in love with it. Maybe I can work out some sort of deal to purchase it at a lower cost when this is all over and done with.

Catherine and I talk of our concerns of working the day shift. We both wish there was some way for the night and day shifts to swap for a couple of weeks. It would be great to keep our team intact and know we had our friends to look out for us each day. I just hope my request to work all cases with Catherine is approved.

I pull into the closest parking space and turn off the engine. Neither of us makes a move to exit the vehicle. I finally reach for the door handle and get out of the SUV. I walk around to Catherine's side and open the door. She clearly does not want to get out.

I put my hand out to her and say "C'mon, Catherine. Let's get this over with. The sooner we get in, the sooner we get to leave." I interject a little humor with "Do you want me to lift you out of the Denali in front of headquarters? We could cause quite a stir. You can even hug me and pat my ass."

Catherine snorts a laugh and replies "You wish. Now get out of the way so I can get out."

Now, there is the Catherine Willows I've come to know and love. And love her, I truly do.


Round 29

We enter CSI headquarters and immediately head for Grissom's office. Our shift doesn't start for another 45 minutes, so we have time to check in with Grissom and meet with Brass.

Brass is waiting in Grissom's office when we get there. He motions us in and closes the door behind us. Grissom is seated behind his desk with his typical non-emotional expression. We sit in the chairs in front of Grissom's desk and wait for our "new" instructions.

After being briefed on our activities from last night by Erin, Maggie has decided the two suspicious men from Flex look promising as suspects. She wants Catherine and me to limit our club visits to Flex exclusively for the time being. The surveillance team will determine whether or not the two men are viable suspects.

Grissom informs us that he has spoken to the day shift supervisor about the two of us working all cases together. The supervisor questioned the reason and Grissom deemed it important enough to fill him in. The request was approved without further questioning. Maybe this move won't be so bad after all.

Grissom goes on to say "I also need you two to complete all the paperwork on your current cases. You will not be assigned any new cases so that you can concentrate on this task." Then again, this move may be paperwork hell.

I love being out in the field. I get such an adrenaline rush when I first report to a crime scene. It's the initial step in finding the pieces needed to complete the big puzzle. I really need to experience this feeling today. I open my mouth to protest Grissom's directive, but Catherine puts her hand on my arm silencing my retort.

She looks toward Grissom and says, "Fine, Gil. Today we will work on our paperwork, but if we are not finished by the end of the shift, we will have to find time to complete it in between our new cases." Grissom nods his assent.

Damn, she's good. I would have never thought about making a counter offer. I would have vented my anger and still have been stuck with paperwork for days. Following Catherine's lead is going to be enjoyable and beneficial.

We finish up our meeting with Grissom and Brass and head over to the lounge area for some coffee. Greg, Warrick, and Nick are sitting around the table chatting and drinking coffee. It seems the guys were waiting for us and Greg even made some of his special brew for the occasion.

We visit until it's time for our shift to begin. The guys get up to leave, but not before wishing us well and instructing us to call them if we need anything. The door shuts leaving Catherine and me alone in the break room.

Catherine rises to leave and says, "C'mon, Sara. Let's get our paperwork and head over to your favorite lab. It's nice and quiet in there so maybe we can get our work done in peace."

I get up and follow Catherine. A habit I could definitely get used to especially when she is wearing those tight jeans.

Catherine and I work through lunch eating only some crackers from the vending machine washed down by a soda. We have actually made some solid progress on the paperwork from our cases.

I find myself having an inverse reaction to Catherine's presence. Instead of feeling tense and sexually frustrated, I am calm and relaxed. We have had very little conversation today, but the silence is both pleasant and comfortable.

One of the techs comes in and apologizes for barging in unannounced saying he thought the lab was unoccupied. We look to the clock to see there is only five minutes left in our shift. Gathering our papers and thanking the tech for calling our attention to the time, we leave the lab and turn toward Grissom's office.

The lights are off so we leave our case work on his desk and turn to leave. I accidentally brush against Catherine as we get to the door and the electricity of the touch is felt by both of us. We choose to ignore the implication and continue down the hall.

We are once again greeted at the door by Erin and she informs us Lindsey is in her room working on her homework. I walk to the kitchen to get some water as Catherine asks Erin for pointers on how she managed to get Lindsey to do her homework so early in the day.

When I return Erin has left and Catherine is sitting on the couch with her eyes closed and head leaned back. As I sit in the chair across from her, she opens her eyes and smiles. I ask if Erin had any problems with Lindsey today and she smiles wider as she fills me in on Lindsey's day.

As Catherine finishes her recount, I look to my watch. We have about four hours before Erin returns and our second trip to Flex.

"Catherine, what do you say we take Lindsey out to get something to eat? We can even let her pick the restaurant for being such a model child today. It will be my treat."

Catherine rises from the couch and walks toward the hallway while saying "Great idea, Sara. I'll go get Lindsey. Thank you for thinking of her. She always gets cast aside in my other relationships."

Other relationships? Am I a relationship? Well crap, it's back to the state of confusion for me.


Round 30

We had a wonderful time at dinner. Lindsey chose Battista Locatelli, a local Italian restaurant. I was quite surprised. I figured we would be dining at Chez McDonald's.

Upon our return and after Lindsey has gone to her room, Catherine says "Sara, this is the first time Lindsey has requested to go to Battista Locatelli since Eddie died. He used to take her there on special occasions. She told me she never wanted to go back."

With tears in her eyes, she continues "I had told Lindsey she would remember all the good times if she returned to the restaurant, but she didn't believe me. Thank you for somehow making her feel safe enough to return."

I respond with a 'you're welcome' knowing I should say more, but unsure as to what. Instead I steer the conversation back to our assignment and how we're going to get these guys' attention again . . . speaking of the possible suspects.

"Hey Catherine, do you really think one of those guys is the rapist? They could just be a couple of homophobes."

She responds "I don't know. That guy seated near the dance floor looked seriously pissed when I told you to take me home and . . . um, well you know."

Catherine looks lovely with an added rosy color to her cheeks. I laugh and tell her "Yeah, he did. But that alone doesn't make him guilty."

Our conversation is interrupted by a knock on the door. Looking at my watch, I realize it's almost time for us to leave. I tell Catherine to go get ready while I get the door. I'm surprised to see both Maggie and Erin.

"Maggie, I didn't expect to see you here. I thought you were going to break off contact with us after last night."

She answers "Well, that was my intention, but since you seemed sure the guy didn't follow you last night, I thought I would trust your judgment. I wanted to talk to you directly to find out everything about the guy's behavior. Don't leave anything out and start from the beginning."

I relate all the details I can remember while Maggie listens intently. As I finish, Catherine enters the room in another one of her new outfits.

I'm glad I am currently seated because it would not have been very butch of me for my ass to hit the ground as I fell with my mouth agape.

Catherine has on a short tight low cut top with yet another short skirt hugging her hips. There is a small expanse of skin exposed between her top and the skirt. She has on a different pair of high heels and what appear to be stockings as opposed to pantyhose.

Erin breaks the silence first with a pretty decent Billy Crystal imitation. "Catherine, you look simply marvelous." Maggie and I wipe the drool from our mouths and agree.

Catherine laughs and tells me we're going to be late if I don't hurry up and get ready. I regain my senses and rush to the bedroom leaving Maggie to explain everything.

I step into the walk-in closet to decide what to wear. Let's see. Leather, leather, or leather?

I chose a pair of black pants and a black vest, all leather of course. Thankfully, this vest does not have holes in it, but it is cut fairly low in the front. The cut will at least allow me to wear a bra so if Catherine rubs against me I'll have a little more protection between me and Catherine.

I stop by Lindsey's room on my way out to say goodnight. She is hunched over the computer and informs me she has almost completed her research on the stellar parallax. She still has to write a background paper as well as report her conclusions regarding her experiments.

I compliment her on how well she is doing and tell her I would love to read her paper when she is finished. She gets up from the computer and thanks me while giving me a hug. I turn to leave the room as she returns to her work. As I cross the threshold I hear "And Sara, you look seriously hot tonight."

As I return to the den hoping the look of embarrassment has left my face, I find Erin, Maggie, and Catherine in what appears to be an intense discussion. All conversation ceases as I enter the room.

Catherine compliments me on my selection while Maggie and Erin concur. I don't think my attire is the reason for the halt to the conversation. I'm going to have to ask Catherine about it later. I have a sneaking suspicion something is being kept from me.

Maggie walks us to the door informing us Sam is going to be "watching" us tonight. If either of the two men are at Flex tonight, she wants us to try to ignore them and not get caught spying; however, if Catherine or I can do anything to get a reaction out of the guy, we have Maggie's blessing.

As we step into the night, Maggie says she is going to stay with Erin for a little while. I open my mouth to throw out a teasing barb, but Catherine grabs my hand and pulls me away before I can draw breath.

I walk toward the truck still holding Catherine's hand in mine with my version of a Disney song playing in my head.

Hi ho, hi ho, a clubbing we will go.


Round 31

We arrive at Flex and find a space directly across from the front door. I hope this is a sign of a good night.

I get out of the truck and lift Catherine from the cab wondering what she will do tonight. I am dumbstruck when she pulls my head down for a rather heated kiss. As we break apart, I regain my balance and senses long enough to take her hand and pull her to the entrance.

The bouncer from last night is on duty and it seems he remembers us or more than likely remembers Catherine. He motions us to the front of the line and waves us in with a slap on my back.

I once again pull Catherine to the bar and move her in front of me. Instead of leaning back against me, she turns toward me and kisses my neck. Rather, she is sucking on my neck.

I attempt to order our drinks as Catherine continues her imitation of a vampire. As she bites down, I roughly pull her from me saying "Enough, Catherine."

I spread my legs and lift her so that she is sitting on my left knee. She puts her arm over my shoulder and leans back into me. I place my left hand on her hip and pull her closer.

Her eyes widen slightly and I believe I have gone too far when she leans in and whispers in my ear. "Sara, the guy from last night is sitting at the edge of the bar. We definitely have his attention." She licks my earlobe as she pulls away.

I keep myself from shivering and reach for the drink the bartender has placed in front of us. We whisper back and forth with Catherine discretely keeping an eye on the suspect.

We decide to have only one drink and move things to the dance floor. As we leave the bar, we walk side by side with my hand on Catherine's ass. A slow song is playing as we arrive on the dance floor.

I pull Catherine in front of me with her back to my chest. She puts one arm up around my neck and the other holds my hand at her waist.

As we move to the rhythm of the music, I slide my hand down the side of her leg to the bottom of her skirt and move our joined hands to the exposed skin between the top of her skirt and bottom of her top.

Catherine turns her head and exposes her neck to me. Now it's my turn to feast upon her.

I lower my lips and gently lick and suck the smooth skin. We continue in perfect harmony with the music.

The song ends much too soon for me. As the beat changes to a rapid tempo, I hold Catherine close to me not wanting to let go.

Catherine senses my dilemma and somehow turns in my arms. She looks at me and smiles as she pulls me into another one of her patented heated kisses.

Catherine pulls away from me and begins to put on a show with her erotic moves. She never loses eye contact with me throughout the entire dance. I am once again mesmerized by her movements.

As the music winds down, she dances back to me and kneels in front of me with her head down as the last beat sounds.

Holy shit. She is offering herself to me in front of all these people. Catherine Willows is not a submissive. She is an equal.

I kneel down in front of her and place my hand under her chin lifting her head.

"Catherine, never kneel for anyone including me. Your place is beside your partner, never below." I lean in and gently kiss her lips. Standing, I hold out my hand for her. She takes it and stands. We walk out side by side.

My "spider senses" must be off or else I have spent all my efforts on Catherine tonight. I did not have the feeling of being watched once even when Catherine spotted the guy at the bar.

We take our time getting to the truck and don't bother looking to see if we have a tail as we leave. Sam is watching out for us and if Maggie trusts her, then so do I.

Returning to the house, we have to assume someone is out there watching us. I help Catherine out and we walk toward the door holding hands.

I take the key from Catherine and unlock the door. Erin is sitting in the den watching TV. I start to ask her why she didn't greet us at the door, but realize she is probably playing her role as well.

Catherine and I take a seat on the couch across from Erin. Well, I take a seat and Catherine sits in my lap. Erin's eyes almost pop out of her head and somehow get larger when she glances at our neck areas. I glance at Catherine's neck and my eyes widen as well. If my neck looks anything like Catherine's, we're both wearing scarves tomorrow.

Catherine is totally oblivious to our observations. She seems to be in a world all of her own.

I briefly describe tonight's adventure to Erin while paying close attention to Catherine. If this guy is watching he may not be able to hear what we're saying, but he can still pick up on our body language.

I walk Erin to the door as Catherine goes to get ready for bed. I say goodnight to Erin and turn out the lights in the den area before retiring to the bedroom.

Catherine is in the bathroom and has left the door open. The implication hits me right between the eyes. We will be expected to use the same bathroom. It's a good thing this guy can't see anything past the bathroom door.

I enter the bathroom to see Catherine sitting on the edge of the tub looking down at the tile floor. I quietly approach and sit next to her on the rim.

"Catherine, what's wrong?"

She replies "Sara, I'm scared."

I counter with "Hey, now. There's nothing to be afraid of. After tonight, you will be under surveillance. No one will be able to get near you. And don't forget, I promised I wouldn't let anything happen to you or Lindsey."

She looks up at me with tears in her eyes and says, "Sara, I'm not afraid of this guy."

"Then what are you afraid of."

"Sara, I am afraid of my feelings for you."


Round 32

What? Did Catherine just say what I think she said? She has feelings for me? Me? Sara Sidle?

I grip the edge of the tub tightly to keep from falling back. Let's see if I can get a little clarification here.

"Catherine, what exactly do you mean by your feelings for me?"

"I'm confused, Sara. You and I have always had a volatile relationship. We work in perfect tandem on cases as long as there is very little verbal communication between us. It seems the two of us can barely go three days in a row without one of us baiting the other into an argument. That is the relationship I am used to. I don't know how to act in the relationship we have now."

I'm a bit confused here. We have a relationship now? I thought we had an assignment.

"Catherine, just tell me what you're thinking. Tell me what you're feeling."

She pauses for a minute before replying "I never really took the time to get to know you, Sara. I thought I knew what kind of person you were from your work ethic and the way you responded to certain cases. It was wrong of me to base my opinion of you on so little."

I open my mouth to reply but Catherine holds up her hand saying "No, let me finish. I like the Sara I have gotten to know these past couple of days. We have been together almost every minute and I have seen sides of you I didn't know existed. You are kind, caring, and loyal to a fault. I know in my heart you would do anything to protect me and Lindsey. If you were a man, you would be perfect for me."

Slam! That ladies and gentlemen was the sound of the door shutting in my face. Catherine can't possibly realize how much those words hurt. She has no idea how I feel about her. I need to somehow respond without showing any signs of rejection and then get the hell out of here.

"Catherine, we've been through the gambit of emotions these past few days. Anyone would be confused by what we've gone through. You've got to relax and quit worrying about things. Why don't you take a bath? A nice soak will help you feel better. I'll wash my face and brush my teeth in the other bathroom."

I rise to leave but Catherine puts a hand on my wrist stopping me. I could easily break her hold but I don't want to hurt her.

"Sara, wait. You don't understand. I'm not saying this correctly. My problem is not that you're a woman."

Okay, is she a mind reader or what? Do I really want to know what she is thinking? Hell, I may as well go all the way. "What is the real problem then, Catherine?"

Catherine looks directly in my eyes and touches my face. She then looks back at the floor as if searching for answers. Raising her eyes back to mine she says "The problem is I am attracted to you. I have true feelings for you. I am beginning to think of you as my perfect mate."

The perfect mate? The perfect butch? The perfect femme? Am I dreaming? I mean, there's even the perfect muscle truck. Am I going to wake up drooling on the break room table with Ecklie standing over me laughing? Or maybe I'm on candid camera and Allen Funt's ghost is going to jump out of the shower stall.

I am pulled from my reverie by Catherine calling my name and gently kissing me on the lips when I don't respond to her verbal method of getting my attention. She releases my lips and I shake my head to clear my disturbing thoughts.

"Sara, say something. I couldn't go on with this charade any longer without you knowing how I feel. In fact, it is no longer a charade to me."

In a low voice I reply "It was never a charade for me. Every smile, every touch, every hug, every kiss was real for me. I love you, Catherine Willows."

Smiling, Catherine leans forward to kiss me again. I put my fingers to her lips to stop her. Her smile rapidly turns to a frown.

I quickly try to reassure her "I don't want to begin a relationship with you under these circumstances. These next few weeks are going to be difficult enough without being worried about starting a relationship. I want you to be sure you want to be with me and aren't confused by our current living arrangements. When this assignment is over, I want to start dating you. I want to start at the beginning. I want you to fall in love with me when we're in our normal everyday lives not while we're trying to trap a serial rapist."

"Now, why don't you take a relaxing bath and I'll meet you in the bedroom by the window when you're done. I want to show you the stars and how Lindsey plans to prove the stellar parallax theory."

I leave Catherine to her bath and move into the master bedroom with a smile on my face and a warmth in my heart.


Round 33

Catherine enters the bedroom from the master bath and approaches the window. I put out my hand for her to join me. She asks, "Can you tell if anyone is out there watching us?"

"No," I reply. "There are too many places for him to stay hidden. We just have to assume he's there are all times."

Catherine takes my hand and I pull in front of me to look out the window. I point out the stars in the sky and explain how Lindsey is going to run her experiment to estimate the distance between the earth and the stars.

Catherine laughs saying "Sara, you sure know how to woo a girl with geometry and trigonometry."

Smiling, I release her and we move toward the bed. I lift the covers for her to get in as I follow. She stiffens momentarily but soon relaxes back into the mattress.

"Sara, do you think he can see our shadows while we are in the bed?"

I muffle a laugh and tell her about my conversation with Maggie about the same thing. Of course, I failed to mention the simulated sex part of the conversation.

I start to move to the other side of Catherine and toward the outer edge when she grabs hold of my arm. I stop all movement immediately.

"What's wrong, Catherine?"

"I don't want you to move, Sara. Can you hold me? Nothing sexual. Just hold me."

I smile into the darkness and pull her close.

It's amazing how perfectly she fits in my arms and even more amazing that I am able to feel so comfortable with this close proximity and have my "horny genes" behave. Although, I imagine those same genes will make an appearance in the very near future.

I wake up feeling better than I have in ages. I'm not sure if it's due to a dreamless sleep, waking up with Catherine in my arms, or remembering Catherine has feelings for me. I'm going to go with all three. I guess I am a trifecta kind of gal.

The alarm goes off as I am enjoying my current state of happiness. Catherine reaches out and slaps the snooze button before burrowing back into my side. I lightly rub her back as she snuggles in closer.

"Catherine, rise and shine. It's time to get ready for work. You need to let go so I can go take a shower."

I hear a muffled response "No. I don't wanna get up. Gonna stay here with my nice pillow."

Seeing as how I happen to be the pillow in question, I can't argue with her logic. However, we really do need to get dressed before Erin gets here.

After some cajoling, I am able to extricate myself from Catherine with the promise she can sleep a little longer while I shower.

I return from my shower refreshed and rejuvenated. It's amazing the difference a day can make. Just yesterday I was on the brink of hyperthermia and today I am ready to conquer the world.

I look over at Catherine sleeping soundly with her arms wrapped around my pillow. She is so beautiful. I make my way over to the bed and sit on the edge.

I call Catherine's name while gently rubbing her arm and shoulder. She rolls over and looks at me with a smile on her face and says, "Good morning, Sara. You sure smell nice. Why don't you lie back down with me?"

"Oh no, Catherine. As tempting as the offer is, you have to get up and get dressed for work. Besides, it's Friday. You can sleep late tomorrow. Now, c'mon and get up. I'll go put the coffee on and let Erin in."

I stand and leave an unhappy Catherine in the bed, an unhappy Catherine who likes to snuggle with her bed partner. I must be nuts to ignore her invitation to climb back into bed. Well, there's always tomorrow.

I make my way into the kitchen and set up the coffee pot. I unload the dishwasher while I wait for the coffee to make. I have become totally domesticated and it feels great.

As a pour my first brew of the day, I hear a knock at the front door. Sipping my coffee, I move toward the den area. Opening the door, I find Erin standing there looking a bit pensive. She offers a hello before heading straight for the kitchen. Something must be up. Erin is an eye contact kind of person and she walked by with barely a glance.

I follow to find her getting a mug from the cabinet and pouring herself some coffee. I sit at the kitchen table and wait for her to enlighten me.

I can't wait to fill Erin in on my conversation with Catherine last night. Just thinking about it puts a smile on my face. I'm not going to let anything ruin my good mood.

Erin makes her way over to the table and sits down. Looking me straight in the eye, she says "Sara, you were followed home last night. The guy watched you and Catherine enter the house. He seems to be a very patient man. He waited for 45 minutes before observing you and Catherine in the bedroom window then left about an hour after you two got into bed."

I watch my coffee mug slip out of my hand and roll across the floor.


Round 34

Catherine enters the kitchen just as I begin to clean the coffee from the floor. Erin has retrieved my unbroken mug from under the cabinet. It's a miracle it's still in one piece which is more than I can say for myself at the moment.

Catherine looks to me then to Erin and back to me again and says "What the hell happened here?"

I don't say a word but continue with my mopping of the floor. I can't believe my friggin' luck. Happiness has always eluded me. Whenever it's at my fingertips, something happens to jerk it out of my reach. Why did this guy have to choose us? I know the whole plan was to lure him to us, but damn it, couldn't he have at least waited for me to have 24 hours of bliss.

I am so caught up in my thoughts I don't realize Catherine is standing right in front of me. I almost mop her off her feet. She regains her balance and puts her hand on the mop effectively stopping my cleaning efforts.

I look up and realize we're alone in the kitchen. Where the hell did Erin go?

"Sara, put the mop down and come over and sit with me."

I obediently lay the mop against the counter and take a seat at the table avoiding eye contact with Catherine. I now understand Erin's earlier strategy except Catherine is very hard to resist when she pulls her chair next to mine and places her hand on my cheek.

I close my eyes at the contact but I find myself leaning into her hand. A single tear escapes my eye without permission.

"Sara, talk to me. What is going on that has you so upset? Erin wouldn't tell me. She said I needed to ask you. Please, I want to know."

"Catherine, we have been targeted. We were followed home from the club last night. He watched us in the bedroom window and waited an hour before leaving."

After a short pause, I continue "I think Maggie should pick this guy up for questioning.

There has to be some piece of evidence linking him to the other crimes."

Catherine places her other hand on my face and turns my head toward her before saying "Sara, you know there is not a shred of evidence against this guy. It's up to us to stop him from terrorizing other women. You knew going in what was expected of us."

"Yes, I did. But Catherine, I didn't realize I was in love with you at the time. And never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined you would have feelings toward me. I don't want to take the chance of this bastard getting his hands on you for even a second."

Catherine leans forward and kisses me softly before replying "I'm not going to take any unnecessary chances. We're both going to be under surveillance until this is all over. He can't be arrested unless he tries to take one of us. Maggie and her team will grab him the minute he makes contact. We've got to trust her and more importantly we need to trust each other."

"I trust you Catherine more than I've ever trusted anyone in my life. I also trust Maggie to do her job, but there are some many things that can go wrong in an operation such as this. I can't help but worry about you. You have become my heart and soul."

The next thing I know I've pulled Catherine to me and am kissing her deeply. I need her to fully understand my feelings. In this case, actions really do speak louder than words. And I find they are so much more enjoyable. Catherine seems to be enjoying herself as well judging by the little moaning noises she is making.

The little voice in my head is telling me to slow down, but I need this connection so badly right now. Evidently Catherine does too because she has moved to straddle my lap. The hell with this going slow crap as least as far as making out is concerned.

Erin walks in as things have really started to heat up and says "Hey, I didn't think the suspect could see in here. Why are you….oh, oh! Excuse me I think I hear Lindsey calling me."


Round 35

Catherine and I are finally on our way to work. Erin seemed to have survived her embarrassing walk in moment. She stayed in the den with Lindsey until Catherine and I came out of the kitchen. After a few minutes of stilted conversation, Erin finally relaxed and things were back to normal by the time we left the house.

I have returned to my happy mode once again. Having a dueling tongue match with Catherine has a tendency to make one forget all other problems. In fact, I also discovered my "horny genes" have recovered and are alive and kicking. For awhile there, I barely remembered my name.

Catherine stopped me from heading out to the pool to cool off after she performed her lap dance. Instead, she calmed me with soothing words and sweet, soft kisses. I much prefer her remedy over taking a dip in freezing water. Besides, kissing was involved in her method and that's always a good thing.

Maggie has arranged for us to work 5 day shifts to allow us the weekends off so we can be seen spending time with Lindsey. I hate that Lindsey is a pawn in this assignment, but I am going make the best of it and enjoy our time together. Maybe we can get some work done on Lindsey's science project as well this weekend. I wonder if Catherine can be persuaded to help.

I pull into the CSI parking lot and we head into the building. Brass again greets us in Grissom's office. He and Maggie have been working on the surveillance teams for the weekend activities. Brass is going to use a few of his off duty officers to backup Maggie's team. It is still too early for the suspect to attempt to make contact, but Maggie doesn't want to take any chances.

Brass also informs us that Maggie wants Catherine and me to visit Flex again tonight. She wants to be sure we have truly captured the suspect's attention. After tonight, we will only have to go to the club on Tuesdays and Fridays. I was hoping for a break for my libido today, but I'll guess I will sacrifice my body once again for the greater good.

We sit down with Brass and map out our plans for tomorrow and Sunday. If there is any change we are to contact Erin and she will relay the information.

Completing our morning briefing, we head to the break room for coffee. I am in bad need of a caffeine fix since I missed out on my initial cup of the morning due to my mug fumble.

The night shift has ended and we run into the guys leaving the break room as we enter. Greg made sure there was some of his special brew left in the pot for us. I am so thankful I give him a hug. He turns beet red and stutters a goodbye as he leaves.

Catherine laughingly says "Sara, you almost gave the poor boy heat stroke. Did you see how red his face got? He probably would have fainted if you had kissed him, but I would much prefer you save your kisses for me if you don't mind."

Mind? Is she kidding? No one else's kisses could hold a candle to hers. I've waited my entire life to experience the feelings I have when I kiss Catherine. Mind? Hell no.

The day supervisor comes in with only one case to be assigned at this time. He bypasses Catherine and me and gives it to another pair instead. If Grissom has anything to do with this, I'm going to give him a piece of my mind.

With no new cases available, Catherine and I get to perform our favorite pastime, paperwork. We head over to my lab and begin the tedious task. After only thirty minutes, I am bored out of my mind. I can't seem to concentrate on the numbers in front of me. I look over to Catherine who has put on her reading glasses to go over some DNA data. Catherine is one sexy woman, but damn she's hot with those glasses on. The only thing better would be if she were leaning over a microscope in one of her short skirts. Dear Lord, this is going to be a long day.

After a couple of hours, the supervisor finally text messages Catherine and me to come to his office. He hands me our assignment slip and we head toward the locker area to pick up our gear.

We are assigned to a DB in the alley behind one of the clubs. Oh goody, my favorite part of being a CSI, dumpster duty. My inner grumbling immediately screeches to a halt as I read the name of the club. Flex.

I quickly hand Catherine the slip and she seems to have the same initial thoughts I had judging from her expressions. I know the minute she sees the name of the club as her eyes snap up to meet mine.


Round 36

We decide to check out the DB before alerting anyone else to the possible connection. Maggie is probably going to ream us a new one, but I want to check this out myself. I'm sure our surveillance agent will inform Maggie of our whereabouts. I wonder if we'll be having an emergency meeting in Ecklie's office when we return.

I drive around the club to the rear entrance of the building. Thankfully, there are only a few people standing around behind the crime scene tape. Catherine and I exit the vehicle and make our way to find the lead detective. We are both surprised to see Sofia walk up and greet us.

Catherine asks "Detective Curtis, are you working a double today?"

Sofia responds "No. I am returning a favor to a friend by changing shifts for a few weeks. By the time my body gets used to the change it will be time to go back to the night shift. How about you two?"

Catherine responds "About the same thing. Grissom and the day supervisor decided to switch out two investigators for a couple of weeks. I think they want to compare operating procedures between the two shifts. Something about sharing what works well and what doesn't."

Wow. Catherine's explanation is so good I almost believe it myself. I'm glad to know Sofia will be around some of the crime scenes we'll be working. She is a bit aloof, but Sofia is highly professional and very good at her job. She pays close attention to detail and will notice if something is off at a scene.

I walk toward the body which is lying near the wall by the dumpster. From this distance, it appears to be a man. As I get closer and get a look at his face, I realize it is the guy who was sitting at the bar watching us last night.

Catherine steps next to me and stifles a gasp. I instinctively grab her hand to still her. It must have a calming effect because she takes a deep breath and releases my hand to crouch down to check the body. The day coroner has arrived and is waiting for us to complete our initial investigation before taking body temp. There is no need to try to guess the COD. There is a bullet hole right between the victim's eyes.

There are no stray fibers on the body and no defensive wounds on the victim's hands. It looks like someone walked right up to him and shot him point blank. He had to have known the shooter for someone to get this close without some sort of fight.

The body is taken away and Catherine and I begin our search of the area. A couple of hours later, we have found nothing that can be connected to the crime. We decide to go back to headquarters to check out the coroner's report.

As soon as we close the doors to the Denali, both our cell phones ring. Looking at the numbers of the incoming calls, I'd say we have some explaining to do. My cell shows Maggie's number and Catherine's holds up her phone displaying Brass' number. I'm thinking we should let both calls go to voice mail.

Catherine must be thinking the same thing because she places her cell on the seat. Smiling, I follow her lead and place mine back on my hip.

We are silent for the first few minutes of the ride back before Catherine says "Now what? The victim was our main suspect. He could very well be the serial rapist. No evidence was left behind to confirm or deny his guilt, but waiting around a few months to see if the rapes stop is not a very good option."

I agree and reply "I think Maggie is probably going to call this whole thing off. This murder is just too much of a coincidence to be ignored. We also have something else to consider. If the vic is not our stalker, then the real perp has been following us today. He knows we are involved in law enforcement and are actively involved in a murder he could have committed. There is no way he will continue to be interested in us."

Catherine leans her head back on the seat and closes her eyes before saying "We should have handed this case over to someone else. I think we blew it."

Handing her my cell, I add "There's only one way to find out. Why don't you check Maggie's message?"

Catherine takes my phone and listens to the voice mail. Shaking her head she says "We have been ordered to return to Ecklie's office. I guess we're going to get a face to face reprimand."

We both remain silent as I continue driving to the lab for our confrontation with Maggie and Brass.

Taking the elevator up to Ecklie's floor, we meet Brass standing on the other side of the doors as they open. He merely shakes his head and gets on the elevator to go back downstairs.

I feel like I'm walking to the principal's office after pulling one of my school pranks. The only difference is Maggie has a gun.

We enter the office and find Maggie looking out the window with her back to us. Without turning around, she tells us to have a seat.

Catherine and I choose the couch and sit right next to each other. Somehow there is comfort in knowing Catherine is in this with me.

Still facing the windows, Maggie begins to speak "Sara, I can not begin to tell you how upset I am at this moment. You have jeopardized the entire operation with your pigheaded decision to go to this particular crime scene. Did you even consider the consequences of your actions?"

I have been put down and yelled at my entire life mostly from my own parents. I got used to it and after awhile it didn't bother me anymore. For some reason, hearing these words from Maggie is tearing me apart. My eyes fill with tears and I can hardly swallow with the lump that has formed in my throat.

I open my mouth to respond, but I can only manage a sob which alerts Catherine to my state of mind.


Catherine lightly rubs circles on my thigh and jumps to my rescue. "Now, wait a damn minute, Maggie. This decision was made by both of us. We have done everything you have asked of us and more. If you have something to say, you need to address both of us. Yes, we know we fucked up and we are extremely sorry, but you need to get off Sara's back."


Round 37

Maggie turns towards us for the first time. She stands motionless for a few minutes seemingly stunned by Catherine's words.

"You're right, Catherine. I didn't intend to attack Sara. I figured she bullied you into taking the case because that's exactly what I would have done. I have become rather fond of both of you, and I let my emotions get the best of me. Your safety is a very high priority for me."

Finally, she moves to sit behind Ecklie's desk and says "I apologize for my anger. I know you two are not trying to deliberately sabotage the plan, but you really need to think things through more clearly. This could have been a disaster."

Catherine and I both sit up at those words. Could have been? Does this mean the assignment is still a go?

I finally find my voice "What do you mean by could have been? Aren't you going to call the whole thing off?"

Maggie replies "On the contrary, Sara. This major cluster fuck may be exactly what we need to get the suspect to make a mistake by his overconfidence."

Catherine speaks the one word that is running through both our minds. "What?"

Maggie begins to explain. "Your murder victim is not our serial rapist. He had a Treasure Island room key in his back pocket. We have identified him as Robert Brown from Portland, Oregon. Sam talked to his wife and Mrs. Brown informed her that her husband has to travel from time to time during the year for business reasons. This was the first time she had accompanied him. Mr. Brown bought her tickets to see Celine, the Blue Men, "Mystere" and "O" while he attended his business meetings."

Maggie picks up what appears to be a coroner's report and reads "Robert Brown died somewhere between 10:00 p.m. and midnight. There is no way he followed you home last night. The stalker left your neighborhood around 2:00 a.m."

Maggie continues "Speaking of your stalker, he seems to be very confident in his ability to elude capture. I'm sure he has been following you today and observed you working the crime scene. He will see this as the ultimate challenge. He is both the hunted and the hunter. He will continue to stalk you as you in turn try to solve the murder he committed. Don't you see the irony in this?"

I answer "Yes, but we don't actually know if he committed the crime."

Maggie smiles and replies "Oh, but yes we do. I put a rush on the ballistics test. The bullet used to kill Mr. Brown was fired from the same gun used in Deb's murder in Houston. This guy is our cop killer and serial rapist."

The silence following Maggie's information is deafening. I am trying to get my mind wrapped around the realization of what Maggie has said. This means the suspect has killed twice and we don't know what triggered either murder. Okay, I am officially scared shitless.

Catherine on the other hand appears in deep thought and relatively calm as she asks "What is the connection between our suspect and Robert Brown? Did they meet at Flex and bond over their mutual hatred of homosexuality? Or could they possibly be working together and had some sort of fallout? What could have happened to warrant Brown's murder?"

An accomplice? It that even a conceivable notion? It would tie the two of them together that's for sure. After all this time, could the FBI be looking for one man when there were two?

Maggie responds to Catherine's questions and my unspoken thoughts. "I wondered the same thing, Catherine. I have Susan doing a background check on Robert Brown. She is checking the cities he has visited in the past year with the corresponding dates. I should have a report within the hour."

"In the meantime, Brass has found a couple of guys who frequent Flex. I would like for the two of you to interview them and see if either of them remember Robert Brown or his friend."

Maggie apologizes to me once again as we leave to question the witnesses. We will get a more detailed report on Robert Brown as it becomes available.

We decide to interview each witness together. Entering the first room, we once again find Sofia. She is sitting with the bartender from last night. Shit. If he recognizes us and says anything about our activities from last night, Sofia is going to want to question us as well.

Catherine takes the lead and sits directly across from Sofia and the bartender. I follow and sit next to Catherine. Sofia states the man's profession and introduces him as Hal Jones. Catherine in turn introduces both of us and it is evident Hal recognizes us, but he doesn't let on. I guess there must be some unwritten bartender/patron confidentiality agreement.

The interview ended quickly. Hal stated that Robert Brown visited Flex every night this past week. He was always alone when he ordered his drink and he usually sat at the bar until he finished the drink. Hal was not sure of Mr. Brown's activities when he was away from the bar.

We move into the next interview room to find John Sayers. This guy is definitely a player. I always thought the Brian Kinney character was fictitious, but I find myself sitting directly across from him.

Catherine shows him a picture of Robert Brown and a smirk immediately appears on his face. "Yeah, I definitely remember him. Forget all that Watergate crap, this guy is the true deep throat. He can polish a knob like no other if you get my drift, but he is so deep in the closet, I picked up the scent of mothballs."

I immediately sit up straight and lean forward. Mr. Homophobe was gay? Now that would have pissed off our suspected killer unless the two of them were an item and they both were floating down the "De-Nial" river in Egypt.

Sofia pipes in and asks Mr. Sayers if he remembers which night he got together with Mr. Brown.

He replies "Yes, it was the best birthday present I have ever received. It was Tuesday."

Okay, Catherine and I first visited Flex on Wednesday. Robert and our suspect must have been casing the place looking for the next victim. Let's see how much more information we can get from Mr. Sayers.

"John, did you and Robert get together after Tuesday night or was that just a one time thing?"

The smirk reappears before he responds "I don't usually allow anyone to suck me off after the first time. I'm not into attachments or relationships so after I get what I want I move on to the next cocksucker. But, I didn't see any reason to deny myself of a great blowjob especially since this guy didn't live here. I ran into him Wednesday night and asked him to meet me in the restroom for an encore performance. He said he had to follow a couple of dykes home as a favor to a friend, but he said we could get together the next night."

Shit, shit, shit. We were followed the first night. How could I have missed him? I guess my horny genes must have short circuited my spider senses.

Catherine stays in the investigator mode and asks "Did you two hook up last night?"

"Yes, finally, at around 11:00. He told me his friend left to follow the dykes. I was just about to ask him why the interest in a couple of dykes when he knelt down and begin to unzip my fly. I put my hand on the back of his head to move him in for the kill when the restroom door was opened and his lunatic friend came in. He yelled at Robert for being a hypocrite and stormed out. Robert immediately took off after him."

Catherine asks "Did you get a look at the friend or maybe catch his name?"

John replies "Lady, the only head I was interested in was the one on the end of the 9 inch cock poking out of my boxers. Coupled with the hard on I had, I barely knew my own name."


Round 38

Catherine and I are sitting in my lab going over the coroner and ballistic reports and the witness interviews. We are still waiting on the Robert Brown report from Maggie, but it appears he was somehow involved in stalking us.

This assignment is beginning to have more twists and turns than a J. T. Langdon murder mystery. As long as I get the girl in the end, I will manage as best I can. The occasional make out sessions with Catherine should help matters as well.

There is a knock on the glass and we look up to see Erin walk in. Maggie has sent her with the report since it would not be unusual for Catherine's sister to visit her at work.

We sit at the lab's display table to go over Susan's findings on Robert Brown. Receipts show Robert had attended business meetings in each of the victim's cities just before the initial rape. He always flew home the day after the first rape.

It would appear that he may have been involved in choosing the first victim in each city. I wonder why he didn't arrive in Vegas until after the first rape. I think Mrs. Brown needs to be interviewed again. Maybe she can shed some light on the grey areas.

Erin gets up to leave saying "Maggie still wants you to go to Flex tonight. If there is any doubt in the suspect's mind about the two of you being the real deal, a trip to Flex will more than likely cast shadows on his doubt. If nothing else, he will probably be pissed off that you are able to go out and have a good time in the same location of the murder."

Before reaching the door, Erin adds "Oh, one more thing. When I pick Lindsey up from school, I'm going to take her for pizza and to the arcade. The suspect may decide to follow me when I leave and Maggie thinks this would be a good time for Lindsey and me to be seen together. I'll see you back at the house later."

We say our goodbyes to Erin and review Maggie's report again. Catherine calls Mrs. Brown and schedules a meeting time of 3:30 p.m. She tells her we will come to her hotel room.

Since it is close to 2:30, we decide to head over to Treasure Island and grab a bite at Canter's Deli. They have great soups and salads so we'll just call it a working lunch.

We stop by the supervisor's office to apprise him of our progress. Catherine tells him of our meeting and asks if it would be okay to call it a day after our meeting with Mrs. Brown. She promises to call in to report any significant findings. When he readily agrees, I figure Maggie has instructed him to give us some leeway in our shift. I guess that makes up for her verbal attack on me this morning.

On the way to Treasure Island, Catherine says "Sara, I know Maggie was rather harsh on you this morning and she was totally out of line, but I have never known you to react the way you did. You usually just clam up and give everyone a go to hell look. What was different?"

I grip the steering wheel tightly and try to remain calm. How does she do that? It's like she's inside my head. I answer "Jeez, Catherine, how can you remember that incident after everything else that has happened today?"

Catherine must sense my tension so she interjects a little Noel Coward humor. "I have a memory like an elephant. In fact elephants often consult me."

Softly laughing, I reply "I'm sure they do, but would you mind terribly if we had this discussion later? I don't think I'm quite ready yet."

Smiling, she takes my hand and intertwines our fingers. I return her smile as we continue the drive in silence. Finally, someone who understands me.

Canter's is not too crowded at this time of day and we easily find a seat and order our food. We spend the time discussing how we should question Mrs. Brown. I'm going to follow Catherine's lead as usual which is fine by me, funny how that used to bother me.

We arrive outside of the hotel room at precisely 3:30. Mrs. Brown introduces herself and asks us to call her by her first name, Wanda. She offers us a cup a coffee before we begin. Catherine and I decline but insist she pour herself a cup.

Catherine and Wanda take a seat while I choose to stand. Catherine begins by asking about Robert's job and the reason for his travels. Wanda tells us Robert was a self-employed web designer specializing in hotel web pages. He always traveled to a hotel and met with the management staff before creating a web page specific and unique to the particular hotel. It seems he was very good at his job. The hotel paid for his travel and hotel accommodations along with his fee for the design.

Catherine is one of the best interviewers I have every seen. She projects a calm, relaxed atmosphere before getting to the difficult questions. She asks a few more innocuous questions before moving back to the subject at hand.

"Wanda, did Robert have any strong prejudicial feelings toward any race or group of individuals?"

Wanda pauses before answering. "Well, he always had a strong dislike for gays. You see, his younger sister, Tammy, is gay and he has never been able to accept it. Growing up, they were very close and when she went to college and then onto medical school, he was so proud of her. On her thirtieth birthday, he wanted to surprise her, so he flew to Chicago and showed up at her apartment unannounced. He talked the landlord into letting him in because he wanted to decorate her apartment before she got home."

Uh oh, I think I know where this is going. I have a feeling Robert is the one who got the surprise.

After taking a sip of coffee, Wanda continues. "When he got in the apartment, there didn't seem to be anyone home. He thanked the landlord and started with the decorating. He was interrupted when he heard a noise in the bedroom. As he got closer, he heard Tammy cry out and he thought she was calling for help or in some kind of pain. He threw the door open to find her naked and bent over the footboard of the bed. According to Robert, some Amazon woman with one of those strap on things was …um, was …um."

I am so engrossed in this tale that I blurt out "Fucking her." Shit. I said that out loud. I glance over at Wanda and Catherine. Catherine has a look of disbelief, but Wanda has a look of relief.

"Yes, thank you Ms. Sidle. Anyway, he walked out of the apartment and hasn't spoken to Tammy in ten years. She called all the time for the first couple of years and then she finally gave up."

Well, that gives us a reason for his hatred of gays. I wonder if he realized sucking a guy's cock placed him in the same category.

We end the interview and thank Wanda for her insight and give our condolences on her loss. Neither Catherine nor I feel the need to tell her of Robert's "outside activities."

Arriving at the Denali, we begin our trek home. Stopping at the first light, I notice Catherine is once again in her contemplation mode which has been a bad thing for me lately. It is usually followed by a question I would rather not answer.

Sure enough, at the next light Catherine opens her mouth. "Hey Sara, have you ever used a strap on?"


Round 39

If the vehicle had not been stationary, I am sure I would have run into something. Where does she get these questions? And how come I'm choking? I'm not drinking anything this time. Can one choke on air?

I continue to cough as Catherine pats me on the back. I finally get my breath back as the car behind us begins to honk. I accelerate through the green light and pull into the next parking lot.

I lean my head on the steering wheel and take slow deep breaths with my eyes closed. After a couple of minutes, I turn to Catherine who is sporting a huge grin. "Well?" she asks.

I put my head back on the steering wheel and reply "Yes Catherine, I have used a strap on. Now can we add this to the things we can talk about later?"

Preferably, much later.

Catherine takes pity on me and replies with a yes. I put the Denali in gear and once again start for home.

As I pull into the driveway, I notice Erin and Lindsey have not returned yet. Glancing at my watch, I notice it's too early to worry. Lindsey is probably involved in some video arcade game. Erin doesn't realize what's she has gotten herself into. Catherine says Lindsey is a video fanatic who usually has to be physically pulled out of the arcade.

I remind Catherine we could be watched and for her to stay in the car. I walk around the SUV, open the door for Catherine, and lift her out of the vehicle. She wraps her legs around my waist and hugs me closely while whispering in my ear. "You big, bad butch. Take me inside."

I really wish she wouldn't say things like that if I am expected to keep us both off the ground. Staying in character, I carry her into the house. I walk to the end of the sofa and deposit her on the couch as I follow her body downwards. It's payback time.

Lying on top of Catherine, I deliver a spine tingling kiss. Unfortunately, my tingles begin to rapidly move south as Catherine wraps her legs around my hips.

If she starts to rock against me, I'm toast. I pull away and look down at Catherine. Her eyes are closed and she is breathing heavily. My breathing is on the erratic side as well.

"Catherine, I'm sorry. I was just trying to get you back for the butch remark and making me carry you inside. I didn't mean for things to get out of hand."

She opens her eyes and brushes the hair from my face. "Sara, this was just as much my fault as yours. I shouldn't have teased you. But for the record, damn girl you can kiss."

We both laugh as I pull myself off of Catherine. Taking her hand, we move into the kitchen where prying eyes can't follow.

Catherine puts on a pot of coffee as I take a seat at the table and begin to mentally process the day. Considering everything that has happened, this is going on record as the longest day in my life and I still have to go to Flex. Maybe I should take a nap.

I am pulled from my wool gathering when Catherine places a mug in front of me. The same mug I dropped this morning. From the look on her face, she purposely chose this mug.

"Sara, talk me through your day. Step by step. I want to know what you're thinking."

I begin by telling Catherine how good it felt to wake up with her in my arms only to have my bubble burst by Erin's news of the stalker. I go through the day talking about everything from getting my ass chewed out to interviewing a Brian Kinney clone who boasted of his sexual prowess to having to listen to a middle aged conservative woman talk about an Amazon fucking her sister-in-law with a strap on. I conclude with the very hot kiss we shared on the couch. I avoided mentioning her question about my expertise with sexual devices.

Somehow I feel better and more relaxed after verbalizing my day to Catherine. I believe that was her intention. What a thoughtful and insightful woman, just one more reason to love her.

Catherine thanks me for sharing my day as she leans over and lightly kisses me on the lips. As she pulls away, Lindsey and Erin come bounding into the kitchen. Lindsey immediately begins to tell us about her day. I could get used to this family sharing ritual.


Round 40

Catherine and I get ready for our night at Flex. I am so tired I'm not sure how convincing I can be tonight. I just want to crawl into bed and sleep for 12 hours.

I chose my usual pair of black leather pants but I am going to wear one of my own shirts. Those leather vests are beginning to chafe me in some very interesting places. I pick a long sleeve black cotton shirt and finish off my ensemble with my black boots.

I walk out of the closet and into the bedroom to find Catherine standing there with her skirt on, but she hasn't put her shirt on yet. She turns and my mouth falls open at the sight of her very skimpy, lacy bra.

"Wow. I mean…um… I'm sorry Catherine. I thought you were in the bathroom. I'll just go to the den and wait for you."

I take a few steps only to find Catherine blocking my path. I look everywhere and anywhere avoiding any eye contact with the goddess standing in front of me.

Catherine places her hands on my hips saying "Sara, hey it's okay. You don't have to be nervous. I'm not embarrassed for you to see me in my bra so you shouldn't be either."

Is she kidding? Seeing her half naked is not the problem rather it's my body's reaction to seeing her.

I nod my head but still avoid looking directly at her until she reaches up and pulls my head down to her. Smiling, she gently kisses me and says "Now get out of here so I can finish getting dressed."

I stride out of the room with my head up and a smile on my face.

Erin briefs us before we leave. "Maggie has talked to Sam and Jane who have recently been shadowing the two of you. Neither one of them can say for sure if the suspect has been following you today. He seems to be very good at staying in the shadows and he has not been observed following your vehicle. In Sam's report from last night, she only saw the guy briefly. He matches the description we have of the serial rapist, but he is very adept at keeping his face from view."

She adds one more bit as we are walking out the door. "Maggie said to assume this guy is always watching you. He's that good."

Catherine and I make it to Flex and to our favorite bar stool without any problems. We are both a little edgy, but I am hoping a drink will solve the problem.

Hal winks at us before taking our order, but doesn't say anything about today. He's getting a big tip tonight.

Catherine takes up residence on my knee as we whisper in each other's ear as we finish our drinks. I am having trouble keeping myself focused on our goal. Between the drink and Catherine's soothing tones, I find myself in a state of exhaustion.

Moving to the dance floor, I take Catherine in my arms as we sway to the slow beat of the song. We both show the effects of a long day as we find solace in each other's arms.

The next song begins to play and it has a very upbeat rhythm. Catherine smiles at me and takes my hand as she walks from the dance floor and toward the door.

She will get no argument from me. The suspect will just have to assume we're having an off night. In fact, this particular butch is having a very off night.

As we get to the truck, Catherine pins me between the door and her body. She lightly caresses my face saying "Sara, you can barely stand up. Let me take care of you tonight. Please give me the keys and let me drive us home."

I must really be tired because the next thing I know the keys are placed in Catherine's hand as she thanks me with a slow, sweet kiss.

Catherine wakes me as we pull into the driveway. I don't even remember getting into the truck much less falling asleep. I only feel this lethargic right before I come down with something and illness is not on my agenda for the coming weeks.

Catherine reaches over and moves the hair from my face. She feels my forehead with the palm of her hand and then with her lips.

"Sara, you have a fever. Why didn't you tell me you weren't feeling well? I just thought you were tired. We should have never gone out tonight. This assignment is not worth jeopardizing your health."

My mind attempts to work through the fog as I so eloquently reply "Huh?"


Round 41

Catherine helps me to the door as I find myself leaning heavily against her. Any other time, I would be more than happy to have my body so close to her, but this is not the scenario I had in mind.

Erin must have heard us fumbling around outside because she greets us at the door with a questioning look on her face. Catherine heads straight for the bedroom and deposits me on the bed.

She helps me sit on the edge as she kneels down to take off my boots. Even in my fevered state, I can't help but look down her shirt at her ample cleavage. Whoa, I think my temperature may have spiked a degree or two.

Erin has followed us into the bedroom and Catherine explains the situation through muttered sentences while she is taking off my boots and pants.

Pants? I need to concentrate. I am missing out on all the good parts.

"Damn woman is sick. Did she say anything to anyone? Noooo. She just had to play the butch role to the max. Pretending everything was okay while she was running a temperature. A pretty high temp it would seem. She has been mostly incoherent since we left the club."

The next thing I know I am under the covers minus a pair of pants and boots trying to get warm. Catherine has asked Erin to stay with me while she looks for the thermometer. At least, I think that's what she said. I am thankful Lindsey is old enough to have a regular thermometer and not one of those anal ones. Now I am really shivering.

I wake sometime later to the sound of Erin's voice talking softly to someone. I look around to find myself in bed with no sign of Catherine. Erin is sitting in a chair at the end of the bed with her back to me and her cell phone in her hand. There is light coming in through the window. From the angle, it appears it is late morning.

Looking down I find myself dressed in a pair of boxers and a tank. I don't remember changing clothes. I move to sit up and note my left hip is extremely sore. Did I bump into something or fall out of the bed?

Catherine walks in with a tray containing orange juice and toast. She places it on the table near the bed and immediately turns to place her hand on my forehead. I close my eyes at the gesture.

She slides her hand to cup my face and kisses me on the lips. Pulling back she says "Good morning. You are looking much better and your fever is almost gone. How do you feel?"

I instinctively smile and respond "Much better except my left hip hurts like a son of a bitch. Did I fall out of bed?"

Erin answers from the end of the bed. "No. I injected you with a strong antibiotic and followed it with a GG shot. I didn't want to take the chance that you may have contracted something so I gave your immune system a much needed boost."

I am definitely lucid today. "You did what? Isn't Gamma Globulin used to treat people exposed to Hepatitis? And what do you mean you injected me?"

I begin to hyperventilate. I hate shots. How could Catherine let Erin inject me? She's not even a doctor.

Catherine gathers me in her arms and softly whispers in my ear. "Shh, Sara. It's okay. You're fine now. Relax. That's it. Take slow deep breaths. You're okay, Baby."

I slowly regain my correct breathing cadence and mentally store Catherine's baby comment for another time.

Erin is kneeling beside the bed as I open my eyes. She quietly explains. "Sara, I am a medical doctor. I finished college when I was 13 and from there I went to medical school. I practiced for a few years, but I wasn't happy with the medical profession so I joined the FBI."

Holy crap. Erin is a child prodigy. No wonder Maggie is afraid of a relationship with her. She has got to be intimidated by Erin. It's not the age difference after all.

Erin, unfazed by my look of surprise and awe, continues with her explanation. "I carry basic medicines with me when I travel, but the only medicine I had to boost the immune system was Gamma Globulin. I couldn't very well go to a pharmacy to pick up what I needed because it would blow my cover so I went back to my apartment to retrieve my kit and medicines from the refrigerator. I carried everything back in a grocery sack to give the appearance of groceries in case I was being observed. Maggie instructed me to give you the GG shot. It couldn't hurt you and more than likely it will make you feel better with the exception of the sore hip you'll be sporting for the next couple of days."

Catherine chimes in at this point. "Sara, you were very sick. Erin wanted to take you to the Emergency Room but you freaked out. You only calmed down when I promised you could stay here instead. Erin told me about her background and we called Maggie. We decided to treat you here. Erin wanted you to take a cool bath to try to lower the fever while she went to pick up her kit. We got you in the bathtub and Erin left. When she returned, she treated you in the bathroom. If the suspect saw anything, it was the two of us helping you both in and out of the bathroom."

Who the hell cares about the suspect? I took a bath? Naked? Catherine and Erin saw me naked? I slide under the blanket and cover my head.

Catherine uncovers my face and looks down at me with a concerned expression. All of a sudden she grins and says "I know what this is about. Sara, you were sick. Erin and I were very clinical when giving you a bath; however, you do have a rather interesting tattoo on your right hip. That was the deciding factor in choosing which hip to inject."

Groaning, I pull the covers back over my face.


Round 42

Erin has restricted me to bed rest for the day. I am only allowed to get up to go to the bathroom. By myself I might add.

I am following her instructions to the tee. There is no way I'm going to risk a relapse. I don't think I could survive having Catherine and Erin bathe me again.

If I ever get the chance to take a bath with Catherine Willows, I intend to be totally aware of what is going on. In fact, I plan to become an expert on water aerobics.

Speaking of Catherine, I look to the door to see her leaning against the frame watching me. She pushes away and walks toward me. Leaning down she feels my forehead for the umpteenth time today. She smiles saying "It looks like we caught this in time. You feel cool to the touch, but I'm going to take your temperature just to be sure." Turning, she walks to the bathroom.

I decide to reward myself for being a good patient by watching Catherine's perfect ass until she is out of sight. Speaking of asses, well, I guess actually it would be hips, the injection sight is really starting to smart. I thought it would get better as the day went on, but I am feeling quite the opposite effect. If Erin had injected that stuff in my arm, it would have fallen off by now.

Catherine re-enters heading straight for me with the sterilized thermometer. We had quite a discussion on the proper care of thermometers earlier today. I gave up and let her sterilize to her heart's content.

I grab the thermometer out of my mouth as it beeps. The display indicates I am normal again at least temperature wise. I beg to get out of bed. Catherine says she will talk to Erin.

After much discussion and more begging, I am allowed to get up for awhile. I make my way to the kitchen where Catherine has made vegetarian soup and serves it to me with some crackers.

Lindsey is sitting at the table working on the computations for her project. She has been extremely quiet today.

"Hey, Lindsey. I'm sorry my being sick has put a damper on our plans for today. I am sure we'll be able to go out tomorrow. Maybe we can go to the football field and begin taking measurements for proving your stellar parallax theory."

Lindsey smiles at me and says "That would be great Sara as long as you're feeling up to it. Mom says you were really sick. I wanted to come in your room and see you, but Mom said you needed your rest. I was worried about you."

Ah, what a sweet kid. "Thanks, Linds. I really appreciate it."

Catherine watches us with a very pleased expression. Someday, I hope to please her in an entirely different context. One day at a time, Sara. One day at a time.

I have talked Catherine into letting me stay on the couch instead of going back to bed. Lindsey has asked to pick out a movie for us to watch. Normally, I would be worried about what she will choose, but today I'm willing to sit through just about anything as long as I get to stay up for awhile longer.

Catherine has taken up residence at the end of the couch. After a few minutes of squirming around trying to get in a position where my hip doesn't hurt, Catherine takes one of the pillows from the couch and places it in her lap. She pats the pillow and motions me to lie down with my head in her lap.

I hesitate briefly before deciding to risk having my fever return. There's no way I'm going to turn down this invitation. Besides, the suspect may be watching. How's that for a bit of rationalization?

After a few minutes of Catherine lightly stroking my hair, I am out like a light. My last thoughts were to try to stay awake and enjoy this closeness for as long as possible.

I awake the next morning at my usual time surprised to feel so well. My hip is still a bit sore, but the rest of me feels fine. I attribute my recovery to the wonderful care I have received. Throughout my entire life, no one has ever taken care of me when I was ill. I always thought tender loving care was just a bunch of sentimental crap. I was so very wrong. It is the most wonderful feeling in the world.

Catherine woke me from the couch last night with a gentle kiss. Lindsey had already been sent to bed, so I was next on her list. We walked to the bedroom hand in hand as if we had been doing so for years.

I decide to show my gratitude by making pancakes for Catherine and Lindsey. I think we should plan a trip to the park and have a picnic lunch followed by some ice cream. Maybe we can head over to the arcade by the park and let Lindsey loose on the video machines.

Catherine walks into the kitchen as I am pouring the batter for the first batch onto the griddle. She kisses me on the cheek as she moves to the coffeemaker. It seems I am moving up in the order of importance. Kiss first, coffee second. I can go with that.

Lindsey comes bouncing as I am finishing the last batch. Catherine has already set the table so we sit down together to eat and go over our plans for the day.

Catherine is a little skeptical about me overdoing things, but I assure her I will tell her if I am getting fatigued. Lindsey leaves to get ready and Catherine sends me to the shower insisting she get the picnic ready by herself.

After about an hour, we take the truck and head to the park. It is a beautiful day and Catherine and I have decided not to let the possibility of being watched ruin our outing.

We walk through the park enjoying the fresh air. Lindsey entertains us with stories about her friends and teachers. We also discuss the finer details of her science project and how each step will be accomplished.

Catherine points to a nicely shaded area. We decide to have our picnic under an old oak tree. Catherine has definitely prepared for all possibilities. She has both a tablecloth and an old blanket to use as an eating surface.

Catherine and I finish our crackers and cheese and of course, wine. Lindsey is still munching on her tuna sandwich and chips as I lay back and look up at the clouds.

I must have dozed for awhile because when I awaken Catherine and Lindsey are whispering about going to the arcade. Lindsey seems upset. I open my eyes and glance toward the two. Yep, Lindsey is definitely not a happy camper.

Sitting up, I ask "What's the matter?" Lindsey doesn't answer and Catherine just shakes her head. I look to Catherine with a raised eyebrow.

"Sara, I told Lindsey we could go to the arcade later this week. You need to go back home and rest. I don't want you to relapse."

I reply "Catherine, I feel fine. In fact, I feel much better after my little nap. What do you say we head over to the arcade and stay for about an hour?"

Lindsey instantly perks up at my suggestion but doesn't say a word. Smart kid, she doesn't want to incur the wrath of Catherine.

After a short discussion, we are on our way to the arcade. We almost have to run to keep up with Lindsey.

As we arrive, Catherine gives Lindsey last minute instructions. She tells her to always stay in eye contact with us and not to even go to the restroom without one of us with her. Lindsey agrees and heads for the first video machine.

Catherine sighs saying "I wish I had half the energy she has. I get tired watching her." She adds "Sara, I'm going to go to the restroom. Keep an eye on Lindsey."

I answer "Who's going to keep an eye on you? Look the restrooms are right over by the emergency exit. I am going to walk over there with you and stand where I can see both the restrooms and Lindsey."

Catherine agrees and we head toward the restroom area. I stand with my back to the emergency door and get in a position where I can see both my girls.

I am watching Lindsey jump up and down after apparently winning her game when I hear a noise behind me.

Turning, I catch sight of an opened door. I reach to pull it closed and everything fades to black.


Round 43

I awaken with a major headache. I open my eyes but everything is black. Did I hit my head? Am I blind?

I attempt to move my arms and legs, but my movement is very restricted. My hands and feet seem to be tied to something. I close my eyes to the darkness and concentrate on my other senses.

I am lying on a flat surface with some sort of blindfold tied around my head. There is a dank, musty smell in the air. Perhaps I'm in an old building or a warehouse. I do not detect any sound, so I must be somewhere outside of the city.

I let out a sigh of relief as I realize I am still fully clothed; however, I immediately tense up as I hear a sound to my right.

"Well, well. Good afternoon, CSI Sara Sidle. You don't mind if I call you Butch now do you?"

Not responding, I try to keep myself from hyperventilating. I have to say calm and keep my wits about me.

"Oh come on now. I know you're not shy. You're usually so sure of yourself. Where is the cocky dyke I've been seeing for the last few days?"

I calmly reply "Do I know you?"

"No, you don't know me, but I know you. I have met many women like you. You walk around like you own the world, seducing straight women, and moving into a ready made family."

Pausing he adds, "I do have some questions for you though. How come your driver's license has a different address than your lover's? What are you planning? Break up some happy marriage, shack up for awhile, and then leave her to go back to your apartment to start the cycle over again?"

I take a few minutes to formulate my answers. I really wish my head didn't hurt so badly. Finally, I answer "First, my lease runs out on my apartment in two weeks. I never got around to changing my address on my license. Second, I didn't break up Catherine's marriage. Her ex-husband was a cheating, drug dealing son of a bitch. He broke up their marriage all on his own. In fact, it was years after the breakup that Catherine and I got together. And for the record, I never plan to leave Catherine."

After a few minutes, he continues "I believe you are involved in some sort of elaborate plan to catch me. The last time someone tried to trap me, it ended very badly for the person involved."

In a controlled voice, I ask "What are you talking about?"

He laughs saying "You mean you haven't heard about the recent epidemic of rapes in your femme-butch community. I guess you people need to work on your communication skills. Surely with your law enforcement ties, you would have heard of the murder of a fellow police officer."

I cringe when I remember the pictures of the crime scene. How am I going to get this guy to believe I am unaware of his activities? I have to come up with something to keep him from going after Catherine. Think, Sara. Maybe I can use a current event to throw him off.

"There has only been one police officer killed recently. His death was a result of friendly fire between law enforcement and a gang of Hispanics. I don't remember hearing of any other deaths."

He responds "Oh, really. Well, I guess that's possible. After all, it took place in Texas. I would have thought the larger cities would have been informed since the murder was tied to a serial rapist. Let me be the one to fill you in. The FBI set up a sting operation in Houston using a couple of local police officers. I saw one of them going into the police station and she was greeted by every cop she encountered. It didn't take long for me to figure out what was going on. Stupid bitch, if she had just stayed away from her precinct, she would still be alive today."

Breathe, Sara. Just breathe. Slow, even breaths. Keep on your toes.

"Why did you kill her? Couldn't you have just moved on?"

He pauses before replying. "Actually, my first instinct was to leave, but I wanted to see them together at the club one more time. I wanted to look for signs Robert and I missed earlier. We should have been able to tell the two of them weren't in a relationship. If that dyke hadn't confronted me outside the club, things would have turned out differently."

Okay, he's mentioned Robert and it appears he doesn't like confrontations. I definitely need to keep my temper in check.

I ask "What happened? And who is Robert?"

"I'll tell you what happened. She came right up to me and pushed me against a wall. She wanted to know why I was following her. The minute she mentioned something about a serial rapist, I knew she was part of a trap. I injected her with a tranquilizer and took her to the warehouse. My plan was to tie her up and leave her, but she was so arrogant and she just wouldn't shut up. I showed her who was boss then I shot her in the head and dumped her in an alley behind one of the clubs. Don't you see? She had seen my face. I had to kill her."

Oh God, please don't let him take off this blindfold.

Regaining my composure, I ask "But who is Robert?"

"We were fraternity brothers in college and ran into each other quite often during the years. He was close to his little sister, Tammy. He talked about her all the time. Then one day he walks in on her and her butch lover. It just about killed him. All he could talk about is how she was lured into the relationship and she was cheated out of having a husband and children. He always hated gays. Kind of ironic, huh, he ends up being exactly what he despised."

Now we're getting somewhere. It is looking more and more like Robert was responsible for starting this rampage of sexual crimes.

My abductor continues "About seven years ago, I ran into Robert at a hotel in Washington D. C. He was in the bar and was quite drunk. He told me he had run into Tammy that morning in the lobby. She was living in D. C. and was attending a medical conference in the hotel. She tried to talk to him, but when he found out she was still seeing the butch, he told her he didn't have anything to say to her. I told him she just needed some man to show her what she was missing. He got a far away look in his eye and said that was a great idea"

"Anyway, the next day as I'm getting off the elevator, Robert is down in the lobby area waiting for me. He asked me if I would mind taking a ride with him. I said sure and away we go. We traveled to an old seedy motel and Robert got out with a room key. We walked up to a room and he told me Tammy was inside and he wanted me to show her the difference between a real man and a butch. Without saying another word, he opened the door and motioned me inside. There was Tammy lying on the bed naked and tied spread-eagle to the bed posts. Her face was covered by a mask. Robert just looked at me and walked out of the door."

"I walked over to the table to find a box of condoms. I figured why the hell not, after all Tammy had a great body. I took her four different times. She just kept calling out for her precious lover, Maggie, to help her."

This has got to be a coincidence. Maggie is such a common name. She would have known Robert was Tammy's brother and let us in on the connection.

Before I can ask another question, I hear "Robert told me Tammy ended up leaving her partner about a month after the incident. Too bad she ended up with another woman a couple of years later. The funny part about the whole thing is we got away with it even though her former lover was an FBI agent."


Round 44

Holy shit. Now I know why Maggie jumped down my throat. This case has become personal for her. She more than likely wanted to check out all the evidence before exposing Robert, but damn it, Catherine and I had a right to know.

"Don't you see the humor in anything, Sara? Think about it. The stupid agent didn't even suspect Robert. From what I understand, Robert tranquilized Tammy after I left, then he untied her and left her in an alley blocks away from the hotel. I don't know how he got her to the hotel in the first place, but Tammy had no idea Robert was responsible. She was so traumatized she went home and washed away any evidence before she told the police or her lover. It ended up being the perfect crime. I fantasized about it for years. Robert and I would talk about it every time we got together. One day Robert suggested we should rid the world of as many butch-femme relationships as possible. A year ago today, we began our crusade."

This guy is insane and I get to be his anniversary victim. There is probably no way I'm getting out of this alive, but at least, Catherine will be safe. I am just thankful I was able to express my feelings to her. She knows I love her and right now that is all that matters.

I may as well try to get this guy to tell me all about his crime spree if only for my own peace of mind. And while I'm at it, try to cast some doubt in his mind about me trying to set him up. Maybe if I throw in a little humility, he may spare my life.

"I do have a sense of humor, but I'm trying to wrap my mind around everything you are telling me. Neither Catherine nor I realized we were a target chosen by you and Robert and the only time I've personally worked with the FBI was on a counterfeit ring. I promise you, I was not trying to trap you. I didn't do anything out of the ordinary. I was just living my life with the woman and child I love."

In a menacing voice, he replies "That child deserves to be with both her mother and father. If you're not around, it's entirely possible the two could get back together."

Stupid, stupid, stupid. I should not have brought up Lindsey. What was I thinking? Let's see if I can steer this back to calmer ground.

I answer "I think you're right about one thing. A child does need the love of both parents. Catherine allowed Eddie to be a part of Lindsey's life even though he disappointed Lindsey on numerous occasions. He would still be a part of her life today if he hadn't gotten himself into a bad situation. Eddie somehow managed to get shot and died from a combination of the gunshot and water in the lungs when the car he was riding in plunged into a flooded drainage culvert."

I avoid mentioning Lindsey's involvement because I don't think I can keep the anger out of my voice. I am still pissed off at Eddie for endangering Lindsey's life. To this day, Catherine and I have not discussed the case or my failure to give her closure. I regret not apologizing to her.

His voice interrupts my musing, "I'm glad you recognize the need for a father figure. Most butch women think they can fill the need. I'm sorry the little girl won't grow up to know her father."

I bite my tongue to keep from replying to the father figure inference.

It's time to shift gears. "Why did you kill Robert?"

There is silence for several minutes. Shit. I definitely hit a nerve. They say every psycho has a trigger that sets him off. I certainly hope I haven't found his.

After a few more minutes, I breathe a sigh of relief as I hear "Robert was my best friend. In fact, he was the only true friend I had. We both had the same ideals and beliefs and together we were ridding the world of an abomination."

My tongue is going to be severed if I keep biting down on it. I have to control my reflexes to strike back.

I am saved from having to respond when he continues. "We were the perfect team. He would call me when he was to fly out to a different city. I would meet him and we would begin our hunt. He always chose the first victim then would leave for me to continue while he returned to his wife. From the beginning, we decided since I had no one waiting for me, I was the logical choice to conduct the majority of the purification process."

Purification process? He's making this sound like it's some sort of religious ritual. It's almost like he believes he's doing the work of God. Great, now I'm dealing with a religious zealot psycho.

He continues in a monotone voice as if he's reading from a script. "Everything was perfect. I had the FBI running around in circles. Houston was almost a problem, but I took care of it. I flew into Vegas before Robert this time. The adrenaline was flowing from the Houston fiasco so I found a butch-femme couple the first night and took care of business. Robert flew in later and we both zoomed in on you and your partner."

"It happened the second night after you had been selected. I was to follow you home and Robert was going back to the hotel. I left him at the club, but after following you half way home, I remembered we hadn't made plans for the next day. I knew where you lived from Robert's report from the previous night, so I could check up on you later."

That explains how he was able to shoot Robert and still find Catherine's house without following us. The time frame had been bothering me. I bet the argument they got into was huge. I don't have long to wonder what happened next as he continues.

"I took a chance that Robert was still at the club. I looked for him at the bar and then went into the restrooms. He was on his knees in front of some asshole guy. The man was stroking his cock and Robert was about to suck the damn thing. I immediately left out the back door and Robert followed me trying to get me to understand the situation. As far as I was concerned, there was not anything he could say to get me to see the positive side of putting some guy's dick in his mouth. I did the responsible thing. I shot him between the eyes and walked out of the alley. I never looked back."

He seems to have lost some of his anger during his summary of the lives and times of a serial rapist. Well, it's now or never. I think it's time to ask "the" question.

"What are you planning to do with me?"


Round 45

"Now that is an excellent question, Sara. Seeing as how I will need to leave Vegas fairly soon, your fate is something we should talk about. I have succeeded in removing you from your partner's life so she now has a chance to move on. I do regret not being able to remind her how good sex with a man can be. I bet she is one hell of a lover. Hopefully, she will see the evils of homosexuality and turn to a man for her next partner."

It's sounding a bit ominous for me at this point, but at least he has confirmed he will leave Catherine alone.

"As for you, well, I truly haven't made up my mind yet. You don't have to worry about me trying to show you the joys of sex with a man because I know my efforts would be wasted. The few times I've had sex with the butch partner have been futile. I lost my temper with the cop in Houston and raped her out of anger because of her arrogance. You have not given me any reason to punish you in this manner."

He certainly wouldn't have said the same thing to me before this year. I would have incurred his wrath within the first thirty minutes. During my attack at the asylum last year, I realized the importance of trying to stay calm under pressure. I'm glad to see the efforts to keep my anger at bay will result in at least one good thing.

I really wish my eyes weren't covered with this blindfold. I would like to see the face of the person who is holding my fate in his hands. I move to lift my head in the direction of my abductor so I can at least direct my next question in his direction. As I make the move, I suddenly feel very dizzy and nauseous. I lay my head back down immediately.

"I wouldn't move around too much if I were you, Sara. I believe you may have a concussion. When I was moving you into the building, you started to regain consciousness and in my attempt to hurry to get you tied down, I dropped you and you hit your head on the concrete floor. I would apologize, but as it turned out, I was able to tie you down without a problem."

Well, duh. I'm so glad I was able to help out by being unconscious. The drop certainly explains the heavy metal band playing in my head.

Once again I am able to hold onto my sharp reply. This time it's more to keep me from throwing up from the nausea than to refrain from making him angry.

"I am going to leave you alone for awhile. There is no need to attempt to yell for help. We are in an abandoned warehouse well off Highway 147. This place looks like it hasn't been visited in years. Robert found it his first day here. He was very good at finding these types of locations. I guess I am going to have to develop the skill myself now that I'm alone in the quest. Anyway, I'll be back in a couple of hours. Don't go anywhere."

Laughing, he walks away and I hear a sliding door open and shut. He leaves me alone with just my thoughts. I need to concentrate and take some inventory.

Judging from his steps, I am approximately 30 feet from the door. I am not sure how that information is going to help since I can't release myself from these bonds. Even if I could, I don't think I would be able to take two steps without falling down.

I wonder how long it took Catherine to realize I had been taken. Probably right away. She knows there would be no way I would abandon my post at the doorway. How could I have not checked to make sure the door was secure before turning my back? What a rookie mistake. Of course, I never thought I would be the one to be abducted.

I guess it is all hindsight now. Too bad I didn't have some of that "hind" sight when I was standing in front of that damn door.

I wonder if this is how Nick felt. I know it's not the same as being buried underground, but being tied down in a hot warehouse in the middle of nowhere with a concussion is no picnic either.

At least Nick had a recorder to tape his last thoughts and feelings in hopes his body would be found and the messages delivered. I would love to able to let everyone know how much they mean to me.

I never really told my co-workers how wonderful it is to work with them. Being part of a great team is something I am very proud of. I'd like to be able to tell Greg that I think he's going to become a great CSI.

It would also be nice to let Maggie know I don't blame her for my capture. There was no way any of us could have known what the suspect planned to do. I'd also forgive her for not coming clean about Tammy. I can understand how much getting this guy means to her. She would finally get some closure. I'm just sorry I wasn't able to help her achieve her goal, and I don't want my death to add to her guilt.

Maybe I could have somehow let Erin know how Maggie feels about her. I'd like to know the two of them got together because of me.

Finally, Catherine. I'd like her to know how much I was looking forward to sweeping her off her feet by wining and dining her. The last few days I've spend with her and Lindsey have been the best days of my life.

Oh well, no since pondering over things that will never be. There is no way my captor is going to grant my wish to leave messages behind.

I wonder how long it will take to find my body or if I'll ever be found. I think I would want everyone to know what happened to me and not wonder through the years about my demise.

Damn. All this thinking is giving me a worse headache. I may as well try to get some sleep before my keeper returns. I have always heard a person with a concussion should stay awake. Maybe if I go to sleep, I'll slip into a coma and never wake up.

I must have dozed off because I wake up to a roaring headache and a tingling in my hip. That damn shot is still causing me problems. I hear a noise to my right and realize my captor has returned.

He evidently realizes I'm awake as he greets me. "Welcome back, Sara. I thought maybe you had taken a turn for the worse. You didn't even budge when I returned and that was hours ago. You do have great timing though. I have removed all traces of evidence that could link me to this place. I've packed my things and was just about to try to wake you to bid you farewell."

I reply "So you've decided what you're going to do with me then?"

After a few minutes, he answers "Yes. I've decided to leave you here to contemplate your life and ask God's forgiveness for your perverted lifestyle. I hope you take the time to reflect on all the errors you've made in your life."

He walks away, slides the door open, and says "By the way, I've put a 9mm Beretta next to your right hand. If worse comes to worse, you have two tries to put an end to your miserable life. Good luck with that."

I feel for the gun and find he is telling the truth. If I'm going down, I'm going to try to take him with me. I lift the gun and fire in the direction of the door.

Within seconds, I hear the sound of return gunfire.


Round 46

I instinctively try to dodge any unseen bullets which is difficult to do when one is tied down and can't see anything. All I manage is to tense up my body and freeze in place.

Seconds later, all I hear is silence. Did I manage to hit him? Is he injured or dead? What the hell is going on?

I am on the brink of another bout of hyperventilation when I hear Catherine's voice. Great, now I'm hallucinating or maybe I'm dead. I have always believed the dead can hear your thoughts and Catherine's voice is making its way through my addled brain.

Through the fog, I hear several voices. They seem to all be speaking at the same time. Don't they know I can only listen to one at a time? I try to zero in on what is being said.

"Catherine, wait. You can't go over there yet. Sara is part of the crime scene."

"Screw you, Maggie. She's hurt and in need of medical assistance. Please let me see if she's alright."

"No way, Catherine. You know I am right about this. We can't afford to make any mistakes."

"What mistakes? The guy's dead. There's not going to be a trial. His rights can not be violated posthumously. Now get the hell out of my way, and get Erin in here to check out Sara."

The next thing I know, I feel shaking hands remove my blindfold. I open my eyes and immediately shut them to keep out the floodlights shining in from the door. Well, at least I'm not blind, but for the time being, I think I'll keep my eyes shut because the nausea is back in full force.

I truly must have died and gone to heaven because the next voice I hear is definitely Catherine's.

"Sara, are you okay? What did he do to you? Please open your eyes."

There's no way I can turn down a request by Catherine even when I'm dead so I slowly open my eyes. The pain is worth it as I look into a pair of beautiful blue eyes.

Catherine moves toward me and ever so softly kisses my lips. She pulls back with tears in her eyes.

Oh my God, I'm alive and Catherine is right here with me. I make a move to rise but Catherine's hand keeps me in place.

She then begins to loosen the bindings on my arms and says "Sara, don't try to move. Maggie is bringing Erin in here to check you out. I have been sick with worry. I was so afraid we wouldn't get to you on time."

Not moving is a good idea. Why didn't I think of it? I close my eyes once again to the bright light and grab hold of Catherine's hand after mine is released. Feeling the warmth of her hand in mine assures me everything is going to be okay.

My temporary bliss is interrupted when Erin arrives. She and Catherine remove the rest of my bindings and Erin begins to examine me.

Ow, ow, ow. I didn't know my ribs were injured until Erin started poking me. She begins to raise my shirt. My reflexes kick in as I try to fight her. Catherine stills me by lightly stroking my arm and speaking to me in soothing tones.

Erin finishes her examine of my ribs and moves to check out my head wound. She uses a much gentler touch. I guess this injury is more obvious so she doesn't have to poke me.

I am finally able to speak as Erin begins my head examine. "Catherine, what happened? How did you find me? Were you able to follow the suspect back here?"

Erin instructs me to lie still and I will be filled in later.

Catherine ignores her and begins to relate the story.

"God, Sara. I came out of the restroom and you were gone. The door to the alley was open and I immediately became suspicious. There was no way you would leave Lindsey and me alone in the arcade."

I smile. I knew Catherine would not think I abandoned her.

"Anyway, I gathered up Lindsey and went outside. I apparently looked distraught because the next thing I know two people are rushing toward me. Jane, one of Maggie's agents, introduced herself and asked what was wrong. The second was Sofia. It seems Jim had assigned some of his people to watch over us as well."

"I told them what I suspected and Sofia took off running toward the alley. Jane got on her cell and called Maggie. She ushered Lindsey and I to her car and we took off toward CSI headquarters."

"Maggie was there waiting for us along with Archie. We headed toward the audio/video lab and Archie began to work at the computer. He was attempting to zero in on your chip's frequency."

Chip? Frequency? What is she talking about?

Catherine is continuing her story, but I stop her to ask "What kind of chip are you talking about? I don't have any chips."

Catherine smiles at me and replies "Yes, you do. Erin implanted a very tiny computer chip in your hip area when you were sick. Maggie was planning on both of us receiving an implant the next day. When Gil found out, he told Maggie you hated hospitals and anything to do with shots. He said you would probably never agree to an implant. So when the opportunity arose, we took it."

I do hate shots and needles. I wanted a tattoo so badly but I had to take a tranquilizer first. The idea of some foreign object in my body scares the shit out of me. In fact, just thinking about it makes me feel light headed and once again everything fades to black.


Round 47

I open my eyes to find myself in the back of an ambulance with Catherine at my side. She is holding my hand and staring pensively out the back window.

I squeeze her hand and her gaze immediately shifts to me. She squeezes back and rewards me with a beautiful smile.

She lightly brushes the hair from my face and says "Hey. You have to quit scaring me. I became frantic when you passed out, but Erin assured me you were okay."

I redden slightly and reply "I'm sorry. It's just everything is happening at once and it's a bit much to process. Having this chip imbedded in my hip is freaking me out."

Catherine nods her head in understanding. "I figured that was the case, so I had Erin remove it back at the warehouse. You don't have anything to worry about. Everything is going to be fine. Erin suggested X-rays and a cranial CT scan to be sure your ribs and head are okay."

I immediately tense up. I really hate hospitals. The nurses make you put on those skimpy little gowns that don't even come close to covering your ass then wait forever to come back to check on you . I think I hate being alone in the room waiting for the test to take place more than I fear the actual test.

Catherine must sense my nervousness. She says "Sara, I'm not leaving you alone for one minute while you're in the hospital. I know it is not your favorite place so I plan to be by your side the entire time."

With a sigh of relief, I respond "Thank you, Catherine. You're right. I don't care for hospitals, but I think I can make it through if you're there with me. You can fill in all the missing blanks while we wait for my tests."

The ambulance pulls to a stop and the back doors swing open. Catherine makes a move to step out to allow the two paramedics in to remove my gurney. I reluctantly let her go.

The minute the wheels are down on the gurney, Catherine once again takes my hand and walks beside me through the ER doors.

Erin is talking to the ER doctor as the nurse motions for the paramedics to wheel me into a side room. Catherine is true to her word. She has not let go of my hand and has on her patented look of defiance. Both paramedics give me their best wishes as they depart along with the nurse. She doesn't even try to make Catherine leave the room.

The doctor enters with Erin at her side. She introduces herself as Dr. McGraw then gives me a brief, but through, examination. A different nurse comes back into the room with the dreaded gown and asks everyone to leave so I can get ready for the test. Erin and Dr. McGraw take their leave, but Catherine stands firm.

The nurse tells Catherine she has to leave the room while she helps me into the gown. Catherine is told she can return as soon as I am dressed.

Catherine looks the nurse right in the eye and says, "No, you can leave while I help Sara into the gown. She is my partner and my responsibility. So, if you will excuse us, I'll get Sara properly dressed for the test. I'll come get you when we're ready."

The nurse replies "Now, wait just a minute. Who do you think you are coming into my ER and telling me what to do?" just as Erin sticks her head in the door to see what is going on. It doesn't take her long to size up the situation and she asks the nurse to please come outside so she can explain.

The nurse turns to leaves, but not before giving both of us a death glare. Catherine's return glare is just as deadly. Erin takes the nurse by the arm and pulls her from the room.

I try to relieve the tension by asking "Hey partner. Want to help me into this Victoria's Secret gown? It seems to be the rave of every hospital in the country. People are purposely injuring themselves and getting ill just so they can wear this exclusive lingerie."

Catherine laughs as she moves toward my gurney. Mission accomplished.

Now, how are we going to get this gown on me without her seeing me naked?


Round 48

I manage to live through putting on the gown without dying from embarrassment. I pretty much just laid there while Catherine did all the work. I am a bit worried about this dizziness problem I seem to have.

Nurse Ratchet returns a short time later with a wheelchair. Thankfully, Erin is with her and explains she and Catherine will accompany me to the X-ray lab. She makes some remark about queers and walks out the door.

Catherine starts to go after her, but I shift her attention back to me by asking her if she would mind pushing me around. She laughs saying she pushes me around all the time. She then assumes her position behind the wheelchair.

The three of us head toward the lab with Catherine "driving." Erin seems to be out of sorts. I definitely need to find out exactly what transpired while I was away.

As we reach the reception area, Erin heads for the desk and asks us to wait behind. After a few minutes, she returns with a nurse and we move toward a set of doors.

I am immediately shown to an X-ray room. Erin and the lab technician help me onto the table. Catherine stands as close to me as possible while managing to stay out of the way.

The lab tech gets me into the proper position to X-ray my ribs. When it is time for the three of them to step behind the shield, I immediately tense up and almost fall from the table. Thanks to Catherine's alertness, I manage to keep my balance.

She instructs the lab tech to get her a lead apron because she is staying with me during the X-ray process. The tech starts to protest, but Catherine tells her she is not leaving me.

After consultation with Erin, Catherine is allowed to stay. The tech is very efficient and we are finished in record time. Next stop, the CT scan.

As we enter the room, once again I notice there are very few staff members present. I think Erin has paved the way for me to feel as little anxiety as possible.

Catherine is going to be allowed to hold my hand through the process. I will not have a contrast dye injection since this is merely a precautionary measure. Erin suggests I try counting, deep breathing, and thinking pleasant thoughts to help me stay relaxed. I tell her as long as Catherine is here I'll be fine.

She tells me the actual process takes a very short time as long as the patient lies very still. I decide to imitate a stone statue as soon as I am placed in the scanner.

We are sent into a waiting area as soon as the scan is over while Erin leaves to look at the preliminary scans. Catherine wheels my chair next to a set of empty seats and sits down in the chair adjacent to me. She immediately takes my hand. I do believe I am becoming addicted to touching Catherine. It has an automatic calming effect on me.

Maybe I can get some additional information on the case while there seems to be a lull in my medical activities. I turn to Catherine and ask "How come it took so long to find me if I was basically a homing device?"

I must have hit a sore spot as Catherine's expression alternates between looks of anger and frustration. She shakes her head and replies "For some reason, there was major interference. Archie couldn't figure out the problem. He must have reconfigured his frequency wavelength a hundred times. Of course, it didn't help that I was screaming at him to find you. Maggie finally had to physically remove me from the room."

"To make a long story short, he finally realized the interference had to be coming from some huge electrical source. He used an electrical grid of the entire area to find the area most likely to cause this kind of interference. Once he isolated it to a power station on Highway 147, Maggie rounded up the posse and we came to find you. Archie was able to hone in on the signal as we got closer to you. He led us directly to the warehouse. I apologized to him and even rewarded him with a kiss as you were being loaded into the ambulance."

Before I can ask about the suspect or if I was responsible for his death, Erin comes over and tells me the doctor has agreed to release me to her care. I will have to return tomorrow for the results of the CT scan. The X-rays showed my ribs to be bruised instead of fractured and the preliminary scans revealed no problems. Erin said the nausea and dizziness should wear off gradually. If not, I will have to undergo more tests.

I have to admit this was the first positive experience I have ever had with a hospital. I guess the old adage it's who you know that counts is true. Between Erin working behind the scenes with the staff and Catherine standing guard dog against the nurses, I survived the ordeal in tact. Of course being in and out of here in less than two hours has helped as well.

Erin has confiscated a pair of scrubs from Dr. McGraw for me to wear home. She said my clothes were being sent to the crime lab to be checked over for evidence. That's fine with me. I was planning on burning them anyway.

Catherine wheels me into a dressing area and helps me into the scrubs. I am becoming a little more comfortable being undressed in front of Catherine. I just wish it were under different circumstances and she was also in a state of undress.

I start to ask more questions about the shooting, but she stops me and promises to tell all when we get back home. I wonder if I'll be moved to Lindsey's room now that the assignment is over.

Sensing my need for reassurance, Catherine leans down and kisses me. As she pulls away, she tells me not to worry about a thing. She then pushes me out the door and down the hall where we meet Erin.

I'm going home.


Round 49

We left the wheelchair outside the hospital doors. I was adamant about wanting to walk on my own two feet. Of course, I did have to get some support from Erin and Catherine, but between the three of us, I managed to make it to the car.

Catherine and I rode in the back with Erin acting as chauffeur. Catherine made me lie down with my head in her lap. Obviously, I didn't protest at all and immediately complied with her request. I am going to enjoy this closeness we are sharing for as long as it lasts.

As we pull into the driveway, I slowly sit up and note Maggie's car parked next to my truck or rather my former truck. Erin has noticed it as well. She just sighs and shakes her head. I think I may have missed quite a bit in my absence.

I make my way to the front door while once again being supported by Catherine and Erin. We walk straight to the couch where Catherine helps me lie down. Maggie walks out of the kitchen as I get situated on the couch with my head resting on a pillow in Catherine's lap. I think I have found my favorite position.

Maggie sits in the chair opposite us and asks the results of the tests. She looks from Erin to Catherine and back to Erin again as Erin details the medical findings. I do believe Maggie is avoiding eye contact with me. I wonder if she is aware that I know about Tammy.

After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, Maggie finally makes eye contact with me. With tears in her eyes she says "Sara, I am so sorry this got out of hand. I mistakenly believed I had covered all the bases. I wanted this guy so badly that I lost focus. I should have considered the possibility of him taking you instead of Catherine especially after Robert's murder. My obsession almost got you killed."

Maggie has opened the door. I think it's time someone stepped across the threshold.

I respond "Maggie, this is not your fault. I can just imagine the turmoil you've gone through over the years. Tammy's abduction was not your fault either."

Maggie's eyes immediately widen in surprise. Now she's certainly cognizant of my knowledge of Tammy's past history with her.

Catherine's aware something is going on as well. She immediately sits up almost dislodging my head from her lap. I calm her with a hand to her knee as she settles back down apparently content to allow me to control the conversation.

I keep my attention focused on Maggie as I say "I am surprised I haven't had to give a formal statement about my abduction. I figured you had something to do with that. I appreciate the time I have been given to check out my physical problems and relax a bit before reliving my 8 hour abduction period. I would like to discuss some things informally, if you don't mind."

Maggie doesn't say a word, but nods her head in assent.

"My abductor told me …. Hey what was this guy's name?"

Erin, who has been very quiet up until now, answers "Tom Anderson."

"Okay. Tom told me all about his past with Robert and he explained their partnership in crime initially began with Tammy's abduction. He bragged about the way they got away with everything even though Tammy's partner was an FBI agent."

I soften my voice to try not to sound angry or accusatory. "Imagine my surprise when he mentioned your name, Maggie."

Catherine is poised to jump off the couch, but I grab hold of the hand that has been lightly rubbing my shoulder to keep her in place. Erin seems stunned by the revelation.

Maggie drops her head in her hands and begins to cry. Erin moves to kneel in front of her and puts her hand on the back of Maggie's neck gently rubbing up and down. Maggie immediately pulls Erin to her and breaks down.

I sit up while Catherine stands. She helps me up and together we quietly leave the den and walk to the bedroom leaving Erin alone with Maggie and her demons.


Round 50

Catherine walks me over to the bed where I promptly flop back on the mattress ignoring all my aches and pains. I am utterly and totally exhausted. This will go down as the longest day of my life. I still have many questions but right now I just want to sleep.

Catherine pulls me back up long enough to turn back the covers and remove those stupid little hospital slip on shoes. She motions me to lie back down as she pulls the comforter over me.

The last thing I remember is Catherine leaning down to lightly kiss me and pulling back saying "Sleep."

I awaken to whispering voices. Catherine and Erin seem to be having quite a discussion. Should I pretend to be asleep and eavesdrop or make my presence known? I think I'll wait until I know the topic of their conversation.

I zero in on Catherine's voice. "I don't see any reason Sara has to go back to the hospital. Can't you go talk to the doctor and read the results? If there's a problem, then I'll be more than happy to bring her back. Sara doesn't like hospitals."

Aw, how sweet. It sure feels nice to have someone looking out for your phobias.

Listening more closely, I realize only Catherine and Erin are in the room. I wonder where Maggie is. I hated leaving her last night, but I know she would have been embarrassed if Catherine and I were there after her breakdown.

I decide to let Catherine and Erin know I am awake since I seem to be the topic of conversation.

"Good morning. Or is it good afternoon?"

Catherine smiles and moves to sit on the edge of the bed. "It is good afternoon, but just barely. Erin is going to go talk with Dr. McGraw. We've decided there is no need for you to get out today unless the tests show some sort of problem."

I don't think there was any "we" in that decision. Erin bids me good afternoon as she leaves the room.

Catherine reaches out and takes my hand. "Sara, I have been doing quite a bit of thinking in the past 24 hours."

I withdraw my hand and lower my head in defeat. I don't think I can be touching Catherine as she explains the reasons we can't be together.

Catherine immediately grasps my hand back and holds it tightly. "Now, you listen to me Sara Sidle. I have no intention of letting you go. You have to stop having these negative thoughts if you're going to live with me. I want you to believe in me and in our love for each other."

My head snaps up so fast I have to close my eyes to keep from getting dizzy. Did Catherine just use the L-word? I open my eyes to see what I have always dreamt of, Catherine's eyes looking at me with love and devotion.

I ask "But what about taking the time to get to know each other?"

Catherine replies "When you were taken and the stupid chip wasn't working properly, I was so afraid I would never see you again. I decided right then and there that if you survived this ordeal, I would make it my life's goal to love you and do everything in my power to make you happy. No one knows what the future holds and I'll be damned if I'm waiting any longer to grab onto happiness. I love you, Sara."

Hot damn! I pull Catherine on top of me and deliver a deep, soul rendering kiss.

I break away and lean my forehead on Catherine's. "I love you, Catherine Willows, with everything I am. I promise to believe in you and in our love."

My hands begin to make their way under Catherine's shirt. She stops me with a gleam in her eyes. "Oh no you don't. You still have a concussion and until we get the results back from your CT scan, there will be absolutely no love making. Besides, you can't tell me that you aren't dizzy right now."

Of course, I'm dizzy. How can I not be dizzy? Everything that has happened in the last several minutes is making my head spin. I am dizzy in love. Although, I may be a little dizzy from the concussion as well.

Catherine rolls to the side and takes me in her arms. I don't think I have ever been held by someone who truly loves me. It is a wonderful feeling.

After a few moments of blissful silence, Catherine asks "Do you want to know more about your abductor?"

I answer with a nod and Catherine holds me closer as she begins to fill in more of the blanks. "Tom Anderson inherited millions from his parents when they died five years ago which explains how he was able to stay in one place for an extended period of time. He had his own airplane and pilot at his disposal which made it very easy to fly into and out of any city of his choice. Tom also helped bankroll Robert's web design business. He used a dummy corporation so it took some time to uncover the link between the two."

"Tom had a history of getting involved in various right-wing causes. He wouldn't stay with a cause very long, but he was passionate when he was involved. As you know, his latest cause was to rid the country of lesbians, specifically, butch-femme relationships. Robert was the perfect co-conspirator except for little problem of being a closet homosexual."

I take a deep breath and ask the question I most fear the answer to. "Catherine, was the fatal shot fired from my gun?"


Round 51

Catherine tightens her hold on me before replying. "No. Brass' team had surrounded the warehouse and was awaiting orders from Maggie. The door to the warehouse slid open as Maggie, Erin, Sofia, and me were almost to the building. We all froze in place, but Tom's attention was not on us but rather on you. We were close enough to hear him taunting you and then the shots were fired. I caught a glint of steel in his hand and when he raised his arm to fire back at you Maggie and I each unloaded our clip. It was surreal. We fired at the exact same time in perfect unison with each other. Doc said the fatal shot could have come from me or Maggie. I'm just glad the sick son of a bitch is dead and we were able to get to you on time."

I roll over to face Catherine. I brush the hair from her eyes and softly kiss her lips. I pull away saying "I hate that you had to pull the trigger, but I am thankful to you for saving me. Are you doing okay with the shooting? Do you need to see or talk to someone?"

She smiles and answers "No, I'm fine. I've done this before, remember? I don't have any problems shooting someone that is threatening a team member or in this case, someone I love."

I lean in and kiss her again. Things begin to heat up quickly as I throw my leg over her hip and pull her closely to me. We are interrupted by the ringing of the phone. I groan as I flop onto my back.

Catherine takes a few calming breaths before answering. She replies to a few questions and then hangs up.

She takes my hand in hers and says "Lindsey is staying with Nancy for a couple of days until everything settles down. Nancy wanted to know if everything was going okay and Lindsey was pestering her to call to find out how you were. She was very worried about you. I think she's fallen in love with you too."

"She's a great kid, Catherine. You've done a wonderful job raising her. I'm just sorry I wasn't able to give her some closure with Eddie's death."

Crap. I close my eyes in disgust. This was not the way I wanted to bring up this discussion. It seems my grey matter must still be scrambled. The words popped out of my mouth before I could censor myself.

When I open my eyes, Catherine is leaning over me. I start to close my eyes again when she touches her hand to my cheek. "Don't, Sara. Don't blame yourself. There was no evidence to convict either suspect. I'm sorry I was so horrible to you. I was just so upset, I flew off the handle. I should have never said those things to you. I knew you had done everything humanly possible to give Lindsey closure and I thank you for that."

I start to speak but Catherine places her fingers to my lips. "I don't want you to say anything. I want you to accept my apology and move on from here."

With Catherine's fingers on my lips, I nod my head. She pecks me on the lips and springs from the bed. Damn she's agile. I can't wait to see what other attributes she possesses.

"Erin said you needed to get up and move around today. C'mon, let's go to the kitchen and I'll prepare you something light to eat."

Catherine takes my hands and helps me sit up. I take my time standing to be sure the room is going to stay in the same place and not move around. Catherine puts her arm around my waist as we make our way out of the bedroom.

I settle at the table while Catherine puts together a salad. "Catherine, how's Maggie doing? Has Erin said anything?"

Catherine reaches into the refrigerator for a few items before replying. "I was very angry last night when I realized Maggie had kept vital information from us. It was all I could do to keep my mouth shut. Erin told me this morning Maggie confessed everything to her. She told her all about Tammy, the rape, and the breakup. Maggie knew if she said something to the director about her suspicions of Tammy's case being linked to the current cases, she would be pulled from the assignment. She told Erin she would report her error in judgment to the director this morning."

Damn. Maggie's a good person and a good agent. She doesn't deserve to be reprimanded or demoted by a man who initially assigned the case to a homophobe and then took so long to reassign it when there were obvious problems.

"I hate to hear that. I was hoping we could keep that bit of information amongst the four of us. Maggie's poor judgment did not affect the outcome of this case. I wish she wouldn't tell the director anything."

Catherine puts our plates on the table and says "Well, Erin talked Maggie into waiting until the four of us can sit down and talk things over. Erin is going to pick up Maggie and bring her here this evening. I think there may be something going on between those two."

A huge smile graces my face as I respond "I think you may be right."


Round 52

Catherine and I relax on the sofa for awhile after our late lunch. We discuss how we should tell Grissom and the rest of the team about our newfound relationship. Catherine doesn't think it will be a problem with us working together since she's not my immediate supervisor. I just hope Grissom is receptive to the idea. If not, I'm sure Catherine can be quite persuasive.

The topic of Lindsey and Nancy also comes up. We decide to sit down and explain the situation to the two when Nancy brings Lindsey back home. Catherine said Nancy has already picked up on a possible relationship between us and seems okay with it. She says Lindsey told her that she wished I lived with them all the time. At least the immediate family will be receptive to our feelings for one another.

I begin to yawn and Catherine insists I go back to bed and rest. I ask her if she would like to join me and she tells me I wouldn't get any rest if she did.

She walks me to the bed, tucks me in and leaves after telling me I would be rewarded for being a good patient by taking a nap. It takes me awhile to fall asleep though. I keep thinking about my reward.

I manage to get up on my own and go to the bathroom. I am so ready for a shower, but I think I better wait until I'm sure my dizziness won't return. I take a spit bath instead and change into some jeans and a tee shirt.

I walk barefoot out of the bedroom and into the den. Catherine is sitting in a chair reading a book with those sexy glasses on. I lean over the top of the chair and place a kiss on the top of her head.

I move to the sofa and take a seat. Catherine continues to read and I am content just to be able to observe her. She is so beautiful; I could watch her 24/7 and still want for more. After a few minutes, she closes the book, takes off her glasses, and smiles at me.

As she gets up to join me on the couch, the doorbell rings. Catherine changes directions and heads for the door. Her moves are so stylish and graceful and oh my, what an ass.

Maggie and Erin enter with take-out from the local Chinese restaurant. Catherine takes the bags and asks Erin to help her in the kitchen leaving Maggie standing in the entry way. I smell a setup here.

I invite Maggie over and she sits in the chair across from me. She seems extremely nervous and edgy.

After a few moments of silence, we both begin to speak at the same time. "Maggie"…"Sara…"

We both laugh relieving the tension. "Maggie, I am not upset with you. I probably would have done exactly the same thing if I were in your shoes. I don't see any reason why you should write yourself up for something that had no affect on the outcome of the assignment. I think we should leave this between the four of us."

Maggie nods her head and says "Yeah, Erin says the same thing. I have always gone by the book. I don't know if I can ignore this."

I answer "Just think about it, okay? Hey, speaking of Erin. I know it's none of my business, but I think you should come clean about your feelings to Erin. I know I sure am glad I told Catherine about my feelings."

Smiling, Maggie says "I did. Last night when all hell broke loose, she was right there with me. She held me and told me everything was going to be okay, and for the first time in a long while, it felt good to be comforted. I held her tight and let her know how I felt. I told her she could be reassigned to another task force if she wasn't comfortable with my feelings."

"And I told her I loved her as well and we would make things work," Erin replies as she walks into the room.

Catherine follows and tells us now that all the relationships have been sorted out, it's time to relax, celebrate, and eat.

We sit and visit for a couple of more hours before it's time for Erin and Maggie to leave. The task force will stay for another couple of weeks to wrap things up, and I have to give my formal statement to Maggie tomorrow.

Catherine and I have been given the week off by the department as a reward for services rendered. Maggie and Erin have agreed to come back for dinner and I told them Catherine would serve them her Rocky Mountain Oysters as soon as Ecklie returns.

Catherine locks the door behind Maggie and Erin and tells me to go ahead and get ready for bed while she puts things away. I start to argue but know it's futile with the look I am receiving.

Besides, Erin has given me permission to shower and I can't wait to be clean. The dizzy spells have not returned since my nap and Erin believes I will be fine as long as I take it easy for a couple of days. The CT scan was clear and as long as no other symptoms appear, I will be fine.

I place my tank and boxers in the master bath. I turn on the shower and step under the hot water. This is heaven. You don't appreciate life's little luxuries until they are taken away and Catherine's walk-in shower adds to the experience.

I am reaching for the shampoo when I feel two arms wrap around me from behind. I momentarily freeze until I hear "Would you like me to wash your hair?"

I nod and hand the shampoo bottle to Catherine. She asks me to lean back slightly and then she begins to work the lather into my hair. I didn't realize how sensual it is to have your hair washed. Of course, being naked with Catherine is overloading my senses.

She rinses my hair and runs her fingers through it. I turn in her arms and put my hands on the shower wall behind her. She leans up and passionately kisses me. I step forward forcing Catherine to step back as well. I now have her pinned between me and the shower wall.

I push my tongue into her mouth as I reach between us to cup her breast. She moans into my mouth as she brings one hand to rest behind my neck and the other to my right hip.

I begin to squeeze and knead her breast as I continue to explore her mouth. I marvel at the way Catherine's breast fits perfectly in the palm of my hand. I wonder how it would feel in my mouth.

No time like the present to find out. With one last nip at her lip, I pull away from her mouth and begin my descent.

I can't resist stopping at her neck especially since Catherine has turned her head to give me access. She tastes so good. I get caught up licking and sucking her neck until I feel my own nipple being pinched. I think Catherine is trying to tell me my attention is needed elsewhere.

I continue licking my path to her unoccupied breast until I finally reach my destination. I trace circles around her nipple before taking her breast into my mouth. Sucking, I finally release to concentrate on her nipple.

Catherine has become a moaning machine. I now have a new purpose in life to hear these noises as often as possible.

I move to lavish my attention to her other breast when I hear "God, Sara. I need you to stop. This feels so good, but I want our first time to be in our bed."

Shit, Catherine's right. I am attacking her like some animal. I move to pull away from her and she stops me with a hug. She whispers in my ear, "Hey, I just want to move to a new location. I don't want you to stop. I love what you are doing to me. I want to be where I can comfortably return your love."

How does she always know when I need reassurance? This woman reads me like a book. I won't be able to get away with anything from now on.

We both dry off and walk hand in hand to the bedroom. Catherine pulls back the covers and pulls me into bed with her.

She looks at me with desire in her eyes and says "Now, where were we?"

I gently kiss her lips and slide my hand up and down her side. She is so soft and tastes so sweet. It doesn't take long for our passion to rise again.

In a short time, our tongues are dueling and my hand is back on her breast. I again work my way down to her nipple and take it into my mouth sucking and biting gently.

I slide my hand down her flat stomach and into her curls. She moves onto her back and opens her legs for me to continue my exploration.

I slide my fingers back and forth through her wetness. My fingers come away soaked and I use my fingers to paint her other breast and move my tongue to remove the wetness as I move my hand back for more.

Catherine is rocking on my hand begging for more. I finally enter her with two fingers as she arches off the bed. I have not relinquished my mouth from her breast. She tastes so good I believe I need to drink from the source.

I kiss my way down her body to join my fingers. Catherine is quite the enabler. She has spread her legs wide open. I lick my way to her opening as I pull my fingers from her and spear my tongue into her. I slowly but thoroughly tongue fuck her. Catherine is moaning and rocking with my tongue movements.

She tastes like ambrosia. I don't think I will ever get enough of her. I move my fingers back to replace my tongue. I finger fuck her as I lick her clit.

I continue licking as I hear "God Sara, please don't stop." As if.

I increase the speed of my fingers as I suck her clit into my mouth. I am rewarded with Catherine's scream of my name and the sweetest cum I've ever tasted.

I pull my fingers from her and lick them clean. I work my way up to a heavily breathing, but sated Catherine. I gently kiss her lips and tell her how much I love her.

The next thing I know, I've been flipped on my back and Catherine is between my knees. She begins to finger fuck me as she relentlessly licks my clit. I don't think I have ever been this wet in my life.

The minute she sticks her tongue in me, I cry out her name as I cum. She pulls her tongue from me as she resumes finger fucking me until I cum again and again.

I rarely have one orgasm with a lover much less three. This woman is going to kill me, but I do believe I have found my preferred cause of death.

Catherine crawls up my body and kisses me before laying her head on my chest. After a few minutes, she asks me to turn over. I tell her I need to rest between orgasms.

Laughing, she says "Not that, Sara. I want to see your tattoo up close."

I roll over and she traces her fingers over my tattoo. "I've seen this pattern before but I can't remember where or in what context."

I answer, "It's called the claddagh pattern. It is two hands holding a crowned heart. It's not uncommon."

"Why did you choose this design?"

I turn over and cup her face in my hands. "Catherine, I chose this particular design because it depicts the type of love I have always wanted. It is the Celtic symbol for eternal love. I have been searching for this love my entire life. I had given up hope that I would ever find it. Then this assignment came up. Never in my wildest dreams, would I have imagined we would fall in love. I have found my eternal love in you. You are my soul mate, Catherine Willows."

With tears in her eyes she replies "I love you, Sara Sidle."

We slowly and reverently make love before settling into each other's arms for the night. Just as I feel myself nodding off, I hear "Tomorrow, you can tell me about your strap on experience."

My eyes pop wide open. Shit, she does have a memory like an elephant.

The End

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