DISCLAIMER: Some other lucky beggar owns the characters. Sorry for treading on any toes.
NOTES: 1: This is probably one of the darkest things I have written in a while. 2: thanks go to Geonn and Lewis for beta work and encouragement, and to the awe inspiring writing of Lisa who gave me the initial push to continue a first chapter drabble.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Darker Days of Me and Him
She was quickly losing all sense of her surroundings and where she was on this earth. Somehow she knew, when the opportunity arose, she had to get some sort of message out of here.
She vaguely recalled being picked up by Hank and him plying her with drinks. More than likely, she realized, plying her with some sort of memory dampening drug like Rohypnol. After a short uncomfortable ride, she half remembered being dumped, and then, what? It appeared she had been left in some sort of warehouse. Blindfolded and drugged, CSI Sara Sidle was uncontrollably frightened. Her life was so much about the evidence of her senses, that not having that evidence was more than disturbing.
Suddenly alert, she realized she wasn't alone. Footsteps sounded, increasing in intensity until she could smell a sweet, sickly male scent filling her nostrils. Then goosebumps sprang up all over as she felt a warm breath on her ear. She heard a sinister laugh and a voice Hank? - whispered: "I'll be back later, to finish what I've started, you whore." Then, silence.
The fact he had failed to check if she was carrying her work cell as well as her private cell made her smile. Here was her chance. She remembered reading somewhere that the most important thing in your head worked its way to the surface whatever predicament you were in. Sara really hoped that was the case now. For try as she might she couldn't remember a single damn telephone number. She knew that the emergency number was simple, but it was only simple when you were of right mind. And at this point in her life she wasn't in her right mind. She was terrified and she was drugged. Struggling to hold it all together she thought hard.
Surely, she could remember the number of the most important person in her head; he was after all a work colleague. Wasn't he? She remembered pining for someone and being rejected. She remembered a man with a weather beaten face, but gentle eyes that sometimes looked at her like she wanted them to. Gil something? Concentrating. Her finger hovered for a second; then with intense deliberation she pressed speed-dial and waited.
Wishing with all her might that *he* picked up, she heard the unmistakable click as the call connected. Smiling, she heard the voice of her savior, "Willows."
What? How? For a fleeting moment, she was dumbstruck. Who? A blonde vision merged into a redhead, but then piercing blue eyes bored into her consciousness. Fighting for control, she stuttered a few quick words, "Help. Kidnapped. Need help."
Catherine Willows shot up. Looking at her cell display she saw 'Sidle', and responded keenly, "Sara? Is that you? Where the hell are you?"
"Don't know, drugged. Hurry. Hank."
Already running towards the break-room to find the guys, she thought on her feet. "Sara, leave your phone on, I'll get Brass to trace the call. Just hold on, Hon, I'll get to you. I promise."
With that solemn promise Sara relaxed slightly. Catherine that was the voice was coming, and if she remembered only one thing of the woman, it was that she was determined and sure. Her thoughts swirling evermore out of control, she knew the rationalizing of her subconscious contact would come later, for now, she had to make sure she was still alive when her rescuer arrived.
Catherine Willows struggled with her desire to be somewhere she was not. She knew that she really had to keep things together, for Sara's sake. Yet, ever since she had answered her cell not 10 minutes previously, her heart and her body had been racing uncontrollably. That was something that she just didn't understand; not being in control. She also knew if she stopped to think, she would begin to wonder why on earth Sara Sidle, her arch nemesis had called her in a moment of need. She would also wonder why she herself was getting so anxious about saving the brunette adversary, why she hadn't just let Jim Brass and his crew get to the warehouse, why she had insisted on being a part of the operation.
The fact that Warrick and Nick were also waiting anxiously for the call from Brass to alert them to Sara's whereabouts was more understandable, they were, after all, Sara's friends as well as her colleagues. But she, Catherine, was just a colleague, wasn't she? Maybe Sara already knew she would be better served by having a female colleague find her and that was why she had called Catherine. Catherine's mind raced, God forbid Sara had been raped, because that would be heartbreaking. Dampening down these thoughts for later, right now she knew that she had to keep a clear head for the mission ahead. Yet, she was terrified, terrified that they might be too late.
Looking around, she searched for Grissom without success; she had called his cell almost immediately, and sent a text when there was no reply. Expecting the man to charge in and save his favorite CSI, she was stunned when he hadn't responded in any way. Where the hell was he? Catherine knew Sara more than either of them really thought possible, and she knew that Sara would need Grissom to be there, and there sooner rather than later. Goddamn the man; he really disappeared at some inopportune moments.
Breaking the silence, her cell rang. Glancing fearfully at the guys she answered. Without any preamble the strong voice of Jim Brass rang in her ear, "Catherine, Tampaloona Warehouse, the corner of 39th and 51st. Lights on, but kill them at least two blocks away. If he's still around, we can't afford to alert him to our presence. Go." Years of familiarity told Catherine that Jim was worried and that frightened her more than she already was. Grimacing she turned and ran, shouting back over her shoulder, "Come on, I'll drive."
Speeding to the address she told the guys what Brass had told her. Driving carefully, she pulled up in front of a seemingly derelict warehouse and saw that Jim and two other squad cars were already there. Quietly alighting the three CSI's approached the grim faced police officer.
"I want to do this quietly. If that man is still in there anything too overt could be dangerous to Sara. If he isn't in there, I want to check Sara over and then "
Catherine interrupted, "No games Jim, let's get in there and get Sara out, no more, no less." The blonde threw daggers at her police colleague and friend.
Brass, expecting Catherine to feel that way, but somewhat surprised at the vehemence felt in her tone, smiled tightly and countered, "Catherine, I know, I know what you're saying but we both know Sara. If we can stop this Hank, if indeed that's who it is, doing this again, she would want us to take him out now. You know that, I know that, we all know that." He looked to Nick and Warrick for some support. Their eyes were scared but both nodded slightly.
They all turned to Catherine, she grimaced, but nodded very slightly, "Ok, but we check Sara out first. Any signs of danger, injury, anything, she *is* coming out. Now!" The three men all glanced at each other. Yes, they knew Sara's feelings, but they all knew Cath's feelings too. She was a proud and determined CSI, one of the best in the States, yet underneath she had that gentle mother's touch and understanding too. What none of them had seen, or even realized before, was that she had this same caring streak for her supposed enemy Sara Sidle.
Catherine ground out in agitation, "Come on Jim, Sara needs us. Let's go."
The sound echoed eerily around the cavernous building. The man inflicting pain on the small woman in front of him smiled inanely. He was distantly aware of more cries and sobs, but it was the whimpers from this woman that he was solely concentrating on.
The feelings coursing through his body were so different to what he had imagined. Normally so stoic, holding in all the anger he felt, never being able to let go of his emotions, the release he felt as the cane descended on his victim was indescribable.
Her murmur of pain showed him real power. Power he had never experienced before. Clinically, he realized this was the release he needed, the release he had always craved, but never been able to achieve.
She had said he needed to feel submissive and maybe, in some ways, he did. But he had wanted, needed even, to experience this at least once. His usual extreme repression of any overt emotion was too self-controlling; he needed an avenue to not be in control. Sure, to be submissive smacked of not being in control, but this rush, this heady feeling of power was uncontrollable too. Although this was his first experience he knew intellectually that the submissive was the one who really held the power, this way he was really surrendering his normal control rather than just appearing to.
He now knew that he needed to feel the power of physical domination as well as his inborn strength of mental domination.
Gil Grissom smiled at the release flowing through his veins.
Sara heard rather than felt numerous blows to her body. The pain was different to any she had felt before. The emotional element of being taken, drugged, and beaten was too much for her body. Normally so in control of her own destiny this physical and mental domination was beyond pain.
Slowly, drifting in and out of consciousness. She was becoming more and more disoriented. Somewhere in the recesses of her mind she heard the warm tinkling laugh of a female friend with piercing blue eyes. A woman, who held such promise of warmth and love, she held onto that vision with all her strength. Behind lidded, tired eyes, she stared into the blue eyes of her savior. Slowly it all became too much and she began to give in to the sluggishness and the pain. As unconsciousness descended she jerked up in surprise.
Suddenly, more alert, she heard a scuffle of someone entering the cavernous room she was hidden in. Gathering all she could of her very being, she waited.
Scanning the open space in front of them Catherine and Brass looked at each other. Nick and Warrick had stayed outside to cover any attempted escape and to alert them to any returning perp. The blonde CSI could see the darkness in Jim's eyes, she knew he was worried they were too late and that scared her. The warehouse appeared deserted, which could be seen as good or bad. There was no sign of Hank, but where the hell was Sara?
Suddenly Catherine heard it, a noise so faint she nearly missed it. It was a soft mewl of someone in pain. Grabbing Jim's arm, she indicated a pile of boxes at the far end of the building. Slowly they approached the noise. Itching to dive in, Catherine held herself in check to give Brass the cover he needed to clear the area. Once he rounded the boxes, Catherine followed him.
Sickened by the sight that met her eyes, her heart lurched in distress. Sara was slumped in a fetal position across the middle of dirty coconut shell matting. Her clothes were ripped and she appeared to have been badly beaten. Dropping to her knees, Catherine grabbed Sara's hand to check the pulse, relieved to feel a strong but rapid pulse she relaxed slightly. Ignoring the protocol of preserving evidence, she was too intent on soothing Sara, she pulled the unconscious brunette to her lap, brushing her sweat damp hair back from her face and caressed her cheek gently, mindful not to hurt further the battered and bruised face. Glancing at Jim who was scouring the place with a look of pure hatred on his face, she bent forward to give a gentle kiss to the younger woman's hair.
As if drawn from the depths, Sara managed to open her eyes a little. Catherine murmured, "Shush honey, it's ok. We're here, Jim's here, the guys, we're all here. You'll be ok now, I promise you."
Bending over, she heard Sara mutter, "Grissom?" Catherine flinched, hurt for Sara that he was the only one not around at the minute. She covered up quickly, "We're all hear, love. Just relax."
"Cath? Where's Hank? It hurt, he hurt me. I'm scared. Did he... did he...?"
Cuddling Sara harder, Catherine grimaced, she knew what Sara's fear was. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted what appeared to be semen stains, and balked at the sight. Sara feeling the lurch groaned, "Catherine? Did he?"
"No babe, no, he didn't," she soothed Sara, hoping desperately that she would be forgiven if she were wrong. Feeling Sara drift away again, she lay her down carefully and approached Jim. "Jim, we have to get her out now. If that bastard has done anything to her, I want the evidence now."
"Catherine, let's get the bastard now. Please?"
"Jim! She needs a hospital now. She needs to be clean. Jim?" beseeched Catherine.
Brass just looked from Sara to the filth she was lying in. His eyes showed the disgust he felt, but deep down he knew to catch the guy red-handed would be irrefutable. He dropped his eyes from the scared eyes of Catherine and swept a warm fatherly gaze over Sara, "Please Catherine, my way. Just a little longer, please..."
Turning at the quiet voice that called for her, she dropped beside Sara once more. Hearing the hurt woman ask what was happening, Catherine explained Brass' plan and was given the answer they all knew Sara would give if given a choice.
"Get the Fucker now, Catherine, for me, huh?"
Carding her fingers through the dark hair, Catherine whispered, "You sure?"
"Yes, Cath. Stay with me though. I need to feel you here, need to see you, need you Cath, need..." Sara collapsed bonelessly down, her eyes locked on Catherine.
Nodding imperceptibly Catherine spoke to Jim, "Hey Jim, let's do it, but I'm stopping here. I'll get behind that box when he comes back. If he comes back. But I tell you, if nothing goes down in half an hour; we're out of here. You got it? And God forbid I get my hands on him. I mean it Jim."
Despite the gravity of the situation, both Brass and Sara managed a little chuckle. Neither of them had heard Catherine so angry and so protective of Sara before; to all minds Catherine hated Sara and Sara hated Catherine, but this show was proving otherwise. Sara managed to grasp hold of Catherine's hand. Squeezing tightly she whispered, "Thanks Cat."
"Hey, nobody calls me Cat to my face, young lady. Surely you know that by now." Cath's words were soft and teasing, and a smile graced her lips. Maybe their relationship wasn't past redemption yet.
Suddenly the crackle of Jim's radio spoilt the gentle scene that had just occurred, both women heard Warrick hiss that a car had just pulled into the lot. Brass had time to order Warrick and Nick to follow the perp in slowly with guns drawn but in no way were they to show themselves till Brass gave the say so. Looking at Catherine and Sara quickly he saw them nod in understanding. Catherine crawled backwards behind the boxes maintaining fingertip contact with Sara and staring into her eyes.
Blue eyes locked with watery ebony eyes, hoping she was giving strength and comfort in the look. A door flew open and the sound of heavy male feet echoed across the warehouse floor. Sara visibly flinched as he shouted, "So whore, are you ready for some more action."
Reluctantly letting go of the brunette's fingers, Catherine watched the man appear. Sure enough it was the man she knew to be Hank. As he approached Sara, he lashed out with a kick that jolted Sara's already hurt body. With tears in her eyes Catherine shared her apologies with the younger woman, and stared at Jim Brass. His eyes were dark and alert, and while indicating his own apologies to Catherine, he waited.
As Hank fell to his knees shouting loud, "You bitch!" Jim made a small move. When Hank straddled Sara and raised his arm to strike her, Brass pounced.
"Put your hands above your head you fucking no good son-of-a-bitch. Now!" he screamed, knocking the guy ten paces away from Sara. All hell then broke loose, as Brass' angry words lit the fire within Sara's colleagues. Showing enormous restraint Nick and Warrick dragged Hank to his feet and yanked his arms behind his back with a careful knee to the back of his they dropped him to the floor unceremoniously.
Before anyone could stop her, Catherine flew across the room and backhanded him across the face. Shouting abuse and crying, Catherine was enraged. Astonished at her show, her colleagues just stood back for a few moments and let Cath say and do all they wanted to do for them. Eventually, Brass took her hands in his, "It's over Cath, it's over. I got this. You go to Sara."
Dropping beside Sara, Catherine once more kissed the top of Sara's head, and massaged gently along her back. Sara raised her head slightly and rested in Cath's lap as they listened to Jim read Hank his rights, "... with the abduction, assault and attempted rape of..."
Suddenly Hank roared up, "No way. No fucking way you are doing me for that. Ask her. Go on ask her, if I touched her." Pointing at Sara he raged on, "I drugged her, brought her here, left her here. It was that guy at your place. He called me, told me to dump her here. Told me I could have second pickings. It was him, that Grissom guy, I tell you."
Catherine Willows was sitting at the side of Sara Sidle's hospital bed, holding tightly to the soft hand of her colleague, her colleague who had so obviously been badly beaten. At this point in time, she still didn't know if she had been through something potentially even worse, sexual assault.
Catherine had refused to allow a vaginal inspection by the hospital, knowing that Sara would be distraught if that had happened without her knowledge. Hell, Catherine had been on the end of Sara's sharp tongue enough times to know that Sara believed deeply that the victim's cooperation was everything. However, she also knew that these waiting minutes were reducing the potential of the evidence to be completely conclusive.
Looking up she saw the drawn face of Detective Vega, it seemed the assault of one of their own was hitting everybody hard, so where the hell was Grissom? He should have been here from minute one, never mind hours later. She smiled towards the detective as he handed her a sexual assault kit. He said gently, "Warrick asked someone from PD to rush this over. I had to come, needed to do something, you know?"
Catherine nodded, "Yeah. How's it going?"
"Your guys are working back at the scene, and Captain Brass is grilling Peddigrew. Still no sign of Grissom, and Jim asked me to see what you thought about an APB."
Grimacing, Catherine put aside her love and respect for the man in question. At this point in time, Sara was her one and only concern, he had been implicated, he wasn't here to answer, and she wanted him to answer for his neglect of the young woman who probably idolized him too much. "Yes, tell Jim, do it. Find him. We need to know what's going on here, and quick."
Just then they both heard a weak voice mumble, "Catherine? What's happening? Where am I?"
Detective Vega stepped forward, touched the joined hands of the two women, and whispered, "Sorry." Then he turned with a slight nod of acknowledgement to Catherine and was gone.
Gently sweeping the hair of the brunette from her eyes, the older woman smiled, "Shush honey, everything's going to be ok. We're at Desert Palms, waiting for you actually, so that I can um " her words faltered.
"So that you can what, Catherine?"
"Tell me Sar, what do you remember?" Catherine winced at the name Sar. Where had that come from? She'd never called Sara anything other than Sara, or on her most bitchy days, Sidle. She caressed the hand gently resting in hers and waited.
Groggily Sara answered, "Huh? Not much, not much at all. 'Member Hank calling to invite me for a drink. 'Member thinking, ok. Hate being angry with people. Guess I needed someone. He *was* nice. 'Member he picked me up from the apartment. Then not much. Jeez, I hurt Cath. What happened?" Sara managed to look at Catherine. The normally beautiful woman looked pale and haggard. It was obvious she had been crying, and she had dried blood up the front of her silk shirt. "Catherine?"
"There's no easy way of saying this Sara. You were abducted, by Hank we think, drugged, then badly beaten up before you managed to get a phone call off to me."
Sara jumped slightly. Even in this groggy state she knew that sounded wrong, "You? I called you?"
Chuckling at the absurdity of that statement, Catherine squeezed Sara's hand. In a way, she was glad she could take the sting out of her next words with a little humor, "Yes my dear Sara Sidle, you called big bad Catherine Willows when you were in a pickle. But, hey, more of that later. We need to examine you some more. There were signs you might have been assaulted in other ways. I'm so sorry, Sara, we need to examine you, and quickly. Can we do that?"
Knowing immediately what Cath was referring to Sara sobbed. She could feel bruising around her perineum, and had a violent flashback of the strong smell of male ardor. She nodded, but as Catherine turned to fetch the doctor, she grabbed the blonde's hand, "Only you, Cat, please."
Both women smiled at the use of Cat, but no comment was made. Sara knew she had now used that name, at the most three times, and each time it was when she was beseeching her nemesis for understanding, Eddie's murder case failure, this assault, for example.
"Ok Sara, let's do this." Catherine gently proceeded with her SART testing, putting Sara in as much ease as possible. She also managed to get some epithelial cells from under Sara's nails. It appeared her assailant had got his own souvenir of the encounter.
That had been two hours ago, and now Catherine was back at CSI sitting around the evidence table with Nick and Warrick. She had dumped all her evidence with Greg Saunders and given him carte blanche to do as he wanted, as long as he did it now. She knew there would be no arguments, even Ecklie, the day shift called in to cover a couple of other cases while night-shift dealt with Sara's assault, had given his blessing.
They were quietly checking over all they knew, all wondering where Grissom was and if he could be involved as claimed. Catherine had gratefully told the guys that there was absolutely no evidence of sexual penetration of Sara. It looked like she might have been kicked, or even beaten with a cane, down below, but no penetration. They had all breathed a deep sigh of relief at that knowledge. She had found semen stains on the clothes, hairs, and the skin scales, so at least there was something to tie the attacker to Sara. Warrick and Nick had also found semen stains, blood stains, head and pubic hairs, a vial full of a chemical, and one piece of cloth that might be from the attacker's clothing.
As they were chatting Brass threw Hank Peddigrew's statement at them along with the printout of his most recent phone-calls. His statement was adamant that he had only picked her up and beaten her up a little. He had wanted to pay her back for dumping him, and for being the cause of Elaine dumping him too. He insisted that someone from CSI called to arrange the whole warehouse part of the crime, and his phone record appeared to bear out his words. There were three calls from a CSI lab logged onto his printout, all three before the actual crime. The team looked at each other and it was obvious what they were thinking, all roads lead to Grissom. So where was the man? They desperately needed him to answer their questions and prove he was the man they knew him to be and not the man he was appearing to be.
Avidly thinking about the problem, none of them heard soft footsteps approaching until a terse voice almost shouted, "What's going on? Why are you all here? Where's Sara? Why do I feel like an intruder in my own home?"
All eyes turned to look at Gil Grissom.
The four people sitting around the evidence table were stunned. They stared at Gil Grissom, who was standing in the doorway with his arms folded across his chest as if nothing had happened. Catherine felt the three men turn towards her and dared a glance into Jim Brass' eyes. He was silently telling her it was her show but she didn't know how to react. Then a vision of Sara beaten and broken came to mind and she knew what she wanted to say.
Standing slowly and deliberately the blonde CSI walked from behind the table and moved towards her boss. Standing two foot from his personal space she jabbed him in the chest and shouted, "Where the fuck have you been?"
The stoic superior was dumbstruck and unable to get anything out as Catherine's frustrations surfaced, "Where were you? We've been calling and paging you for hours. While you've been out, your precious Sara has been abducted, battered, abused and damn near raped. Gil. Where! Were! You! Fuck me, Gil, Sara's in a bad way."
All the while she was talking she was jabbing away at his chest. Slowly getting more and more angry as visions of Sara invaded her mind. "She needed you, damnit. Sara, the girl who depends on you, needed you and where were you? Not here for sure." Tears were beginning to fall from Catherine's eyes at the absurdity of it all. Here was the man Sara desired, the man Hank had insinuated had orchestrated the whole vile plan, and he looked as calm as he always did.
She snapped, slapping him across the face. With the whispered words, "She needed you, Gil," echoing to the slap, she stormed out of the room, and collapsed sobbing at her own desk.
Gil looked out at his male colleagues and was shocked to see their eyes full of anger. The anger appeared to be directed at him and he didn't know why. Quickly, he followed Catherine, he had to talk with her properly.
Catherine heard Gil enter her office quietly. He dared to touch her shoulder. This unusual action from her boss and friend broke through her anger and Catherine turned into his arms. Holding her tightly Gil Grissom murmured so quietly she nearly missed them, "I'm sorry, Catherine."
"Oh Gil, it's no good being sorry now. It's too late for Sara. She's hurt bad, Gil. So broken, so frail, so scared."
Grissom started to pull away, the closeness was too much for him. Hearing a sound at the office door he turned to see Jim Brass watching them with an odd look on his face. Gil turned back to Catherine, "There's more isn't there? But first, I must go and see Sara."
Catherine jumped up, "No! You can't, Gil!"
"What do you mean, I can't? What's going on? Tell me."
Jim approached him and guided him to the chair, "Sit down Gil. We need to talk with you."
Brass and Catherine told Gil the whole sorry tale from the moment Catherine's cell rang to the moment Hank had accused Grissom of being a part of the plan.
As they'd expected Gil was vehement in his response, "I didn't. I had nothing to do with this. You must believe me. I love her, Cath, I couldn't"
Catherine was startled by those words from Grissom. She couldn't decide if she was pleased for Sara, or saddened by the thought Grissom might actually be pushed into forging a relationship with the young woman. Whatever, her thoughts weren't for now, and she pushed them away, addressing Gil quietly, "I think we need to call Ecklie in, Gil. I feel too close to Sara to be objective about you, I'm sorry. I was there when she sobbed. I had to hold her while that bastard leered over her. I don't think I can do this Gil."
"Catherine? Jim? Please, only you two. I'll tell you where I was, I promise I had nothing to do with this. Just you two, please?"
Catherine and Jim shared a look. He seemed to nod and she gave a deep sigh. "Ok Gil, but I need to see Sara before I can do this. I need to know she's ok, that she's going to be ok. You'll just have to stew and suffer. Like she did." And with that she left the room.
While Catherine was calling in on Sara the remainder of the graveyard crew were working hard on deciphering the evidence. Warrick had proven the drug used on Sara was Rohypnol, the date rape drug. Nick had spent time trying to pinpoint the cloth found in the warehouse, the nearest he had come so far, was the blue lab coats that all the staff of CSI used at one time or another. Greg was painstakingly working on each of the hairs, the epithelials and the few semen stains.
At the hospital Catherine was unable to talk to Sara, the young woman being in a deep sedated sleep.
Sitting by the side of Sara's bed and holding tight to her hand, Catherine took a few minutes to collect her thoughts. She remembered vividly the moment her cell had rung and Sara's quiet voice had begged for help. Shuddering at the events that followed on, Catherine dared to wonder slightly about her reactions. She hadn't realized until she had seen her colleague in such distress just how much she really cared. It was obvious her antagonistic attitude towards Sara was a smokescreen for this feeling of respect and love that now sat much more comfortably in her psyche.
When this mess was over, she needed to talk to Sara, she needed to apologize for her previous attitude. But more than that, she needed to convince Sara that they could be friends. This episode had shown Catherine that they could be just that, and good friends if they allowed it. That determined, she bent over Sara, kissed her forehead and whispered, "I'll get him, Sara, I promise."
When Catherine returned from the hospital, she heard updates from Warrick and Nick, and recounted a small flashback Sara had remembered while Catherine was examining her; a flash of blue that the young CSI likened to the very same lab coats Nick mentioned.
She then called in on Greg to update him on Sara's condition; everyone at CSI knew how much Greg cared for Sara. Catherine encouraged him gently and asked him to bring the results of the DNA tests as soon as he could. Whatever she was doing, he was to come and find her immediately.
She then fetched Brass and they made their way to interview Grissom. They had agreed to interview him in his own office rather than over at the PD.
On entering Grissom's office it was obvious to his two close friends that Gil had been beating himself up over his predicament. The man looked pale, and there were tear streaks down his face. He looked up at them and shrugged, indicating his chairs.
Catherine and Brass took the chairs opposite Gil and without any preamble he launched into his explanation. "I promise you I had nothing to do with this. I was at Lady Heather's." He paused, giving his colleagues time to react.
Catherine gasped and looked at Jim, surprised to see a calm look of acceptance on his face as if he had guessed.
Smiling sadly, Gil Grissom told his dearest friends the details of his appointment. He was not ashamed of his actions at Lady Heather's though he was ashamed at the unpredictable consequences, and so he bowed his head a little as he spoke, only occasionally glancing up to look at Catherine and Jim.
He admitted he had been participating in an "anger management" session. He told them the start and finish time of his session and told them the name of his sub. He agreed that her name was obviously a stage name but gave them his permission to contact Lady Heather for confirmation. Knowing that Jim knew about his friendship with Lady Heather and that he might feel she would stand up for Gil whatever, he added quietly while staring into Catherine's eyes, "When you interview the young lady ask her our safe word. Her answer will prove she spent time with me. The answer should be 'Tampaloona.'"
At that word both Catherine and Jim started. Coincidence or something else?
Jim looked at Catherine and with a nod of his head and a slight raise of the eyebrows, they agreed to terminate the interview. It always astounded Catherine just how effectively the two of them worked together, but tonight, she had also realized that Jim was as much a part of her family as the rest of night-shift were. His care and concern for Sara, as well as his gentle handling of her own attitude had touched her deeply. She'd always known he was a friend, she now knew he was a true friend. Touching Jim's elbow, and sharing a warm-ish smile with Gil she left to find the guys to find where they were with results.
Jim stayed behind to advise Grissom he would be under close observations until his alibi could be checked out, but that he maybe ought to head home, away from the investigation. Jim told him he would appoint one of the older police officers to accompany him home. The detective then left Gil to arrange his escort.
Catherine, Warrick and Nick were having a quiet conversation and a much-needed coffee when Brass rejoined them. Catherine had told the guys a brief version of Gil's alibi, just that he had been at Lady Heather's not that he had been taking part in a session, but that he had also mentioned the word, 'Tampaloona'. They were all just murmuring that this was quite a large coincidence - why did Grissom know the name of the warehouse? - it wasn't, after all, a well-known name when Greg came rushing into the room.
Waving a sheet of results in one hand and his ubiquitous coffee in the other, he looked gray and shocked as he stumbled over his words, "Catherine? The results are back... um... it's not... it's..."
The young DNA technician slumped gracelessly to the floor spewing the results sheet he held as if his whole life depended on it towards the table. His body finally giving in to the stress he had been feeling at Sara's assault, and realizing that the assailant might actually be one of his colleagues, he dropped into a dead faint.
Rushing to his side, Catherine grabbed for the results sheet only to find the name had been smudged indecipherably by Greg's spilt coffee. She sighed, shrugged her shoulders at the team, and gathered Greg into her arms, coddling him back to reality and their truth.
"Ecklie, I tell you," whispered Greg from his uncomfortable position on the floor, "Hook, line and fucking sinker."
Catherine turned around to look at the other 3 men in the room. They all had looks of absolute horror on their faces. Jim Brass was the first to regain his composure, "How do you know, Greg? Are you sure?"
"I checked and double checked. The hair was Peddigrew's but the semen, the blood, and the epithelials weren't. But they were all from the same donor, so I ran it through CODIS, like you do, and it threw out a perfect match to Ecklie's." Greg slumped back against Catherine's knee; his anxiety at his news was slowly being released with the gentle stroking of Catherine's hand as she combed through his hair comforting him.
As if realizing what she was doing, Catherine made a move to pull Greg to his feet, murmuring, "Are you ok now, Greg? Can you do me a favor? Get the blue material from Nick, and test it for sweat. Let's see if that throws out Ecklie as well."
Nick nodded and indicated to Greg to follow him. He draped his arm around Greg's shoulder and gave him quiet comfort as they left.
Silently watching the two younger men leave, Catherine turned back to Warrick and Brass, "Hell! What do we do now?"
The normally calm and stoic CSI, Warrick Brown responded first, "Get the bastard, Cath, that's what we do."
Equally out of character in some ways, for Jim Brass and Warrick Brown had had a somewhat stormy relationship, it was Jim that reached out to calm the younger man. Resting a steady hand on the tall man's shoulder, he answered, "Easy son, easy. That's what we'll do, but let's make sure we get the bastard properly, huh?"
Catherine watched the two men carefully. She mused quietly to herself that this horrific incident had served a secondary purpose of drawing her family even more tightly together. Once this whole mess was taken care of, she intended to make the team see just what a close knit group they had become. For Sara's sake she hoped that the guys and herself could give her the support she would undoubtedly need. There was no way that shit from dayshift was going to undermine her team.
Pulled from her musings by a hand on her shoulder, she looked into Brass' dark eyes and knew that he was focussed on the next part of the investigation; his part, the interviewing of a new suspect. He said, "Catherine, I want to double up with Brown in interviewing Ecklie, is that ok?"
Hearing a surprised gasp from Warrick she smiled at him encouragingly, "Yeah, no problems, go and find out what he's got to say for himself. For some reason, I need to see Sara again. Call me."
While Jim and Warrick were hauling Ecklie in Catherine was making her way to the hospital. Once there she was pleasantly surprised to see that Sara had come too. Walking into the room, she quietly greeted the resting woman, "Hey!"
"Hey Catherine, thank you for coming back. Sorry I wasn't awake earlier, the nurses said that you came and sat with me."
"Yeah, well you needed the rest. So, how do you feel?" Catherine took the seat next to the bed once again and reached for Sara's hand.
The two women looked at each other; Catherine could see a look of disbelief cross Sara's expressive features as she glanced down at the hand that was holding her own tightly.
"What?" asked Catherine with a smile.
Sara blushed, and with her free hand indicated too and fro between themselves, "You, me... uh... we don't, you know... we don't do this touchy feely thing."
Catherine laughed out loud, at last feeling as if things were going to be ok, "Jeez Sara, I... we... nearly lost you. Our little spats don't compare to that, I promise you." Then more quietly she continued, "I just need to touch you, to make sure you're alright. Sorry and all that, but..."
"It's ok Cath, I'm not complaining. I like it. It's nice. Oh damn, now look at me." Tears began to fall slowly down her cheeks. "I don't know why I'm crying. I'm safe now. I feel sore but for some reason, I don't feel as violated as I thought I would. That sounds silly after what he did to me, but I feel ok. You've helped."
Catherine smiled, wiping the tears from Sara's face. Both of them knew that Sara would have a lot of bad days to come, but at least they seemed to have found each other and that could only be good. The older CSI flinched uncontrollably at Sara's next words.
"Catherine, where's Grissom? I thought he'd at least come to see me in the hospital. He wasn't there to save me either, was he?"
"No hon, he wasn't. I'm sorry, he was busy elsewhere." Catherine hoped Sara didn't push her for an elaboration of the point, she couldn't tell her where Gil had really been, not while Sara was so vulnerable, not while she was still in hospital. She couldn't.
Luckily, Sara didn't push. She just asked, "So, where is he now? Does he know?"
"Yeah, he knows. You know Grissom, he won't stop till the attacker is caught, and then he'll be in to see you, I'm sure," Catherine lied easily. She remembered Gil's words to her earlier that night, 'I love her'. She was pretty certain he would come eventually, as long as they could prove his non-involvement.
Sara gave a sad smile and her next words were torn from her depths, "I just pick the wrong guys, don't I, Cath? They just use me and..."
Catherine didn't hesitate, she pulled the young woman to her, "Oh Sara, you'll get it right one day. He's out there waiting for you somewhere. How could he not be? You're perfect for someone, I promise you. You just need somebody good enough for you, my girl, don't you ever forget that." As she spoke the words, Catherine was surprised to hear a small voice in her head whispering, 'Not as good as I would be though'. She blocked the voice off immediately, filing it away to consider when she had more time.
Looking down she saw that Sara had drifted back to sleep. She carefully lay her back against the pillows and went back to CSI to see how Brass and Warrick were doing.
The PD had hauled Conrad Ecklie out of his bed unceremoniously: he wasn't a well-liked CSI at the best of times, and rumor had quickly spread as to why he was being hauled in making the officers even more enthusiastic than normal for date-rapists.
Shouting obscenities he was shown into Brass' office. Jim had decided to afford him the same courtesy as Grissom had been afforded until it was proven he was involved. Brass indicated the seat opposite him and began.
"Conrad, I'm sure you've heard about the problem night-shift have had. I believe half your staff, with your permission I might add, have been in working doubles while night-shift worked on solving Sara Sidle's assault case."
Ecklie started to rise from his chair, anger lacing his words, "Yes, so what? Why have I been dragged here like a common criminal."
"Well, maybe you could tell us how your DNA has been found at the scene of the vicious assault? " Brass emphasized the word vicious and leaned towards the man in front of him. Nodding to Warrick he said, "Brown "
Warrick threw crime scene photographs on the table. "Blood found on the boxes by Sara's body, a pubic hair found on Sara's jeans, semen stain on the floor of the warehouse, semen stain on Sara's trousers, all yours. How?"
Ecklie paled and looked downright scared, but he had a ready answer, "Sara and me, we're a couple. Didn't you know she likes it rough? We go to places and have wild sex; we enact crime scenes. It turns her on, you know."
Neither Warrick nor Brass could hide their contempt as Ecklie sneered at them.
Brass bit first, "Yeah, I'm sure she does. Then tell me, if she likes it so much, why she was drugged with a large dose of Rohypnol. A dose so high, it's only Sara's superior fitness that keeps her with us. Tell me why Sara is lying in hospital, dangerously ill from the beating you gave her. Warrick?"
The tall CSI leaned right down over Ecklie's shoulder, placing another two photographs in front of him. Tapping each photo as he spoke, "Sara's face, note the bruising and gashes. Sara's hands, note the blood and skin cells." Staring into Ecklie's face he snarled, "Yours."
Warrick turned away from Ecklie and glanced at Brass; he knew that, if Ecklie maintained his story they were stymied for now. Brass grimaced slightly but rose to loom over Ecklie playing his favorite card: the joker. He had a sneaking hunch that Ecklie was nothing more than a coward and if he played his joker well enough the man would crumble under the weight of evidence.
"Come on Ecklie, tell us the truth. We know you called Hank Peddigrew from CSI. We know that Peddigrew dumped Sara so that you could assault her and we know that Peddigrew spoke to you after the attack when *you* told him he could go back for second servings. Tell us the truth."
Surprisingly, Jim's ploy of intimidation worked, Ecklie crumbled before their eyes.
"That fool, I must have been crazy to trust him. He was supposed to keep her quiet 'til the morning. I could have cleared up then. That stupid man. The fucking whore deserved..."
Before he could go any further, Brass interrupted, "Conrad Ecklie, I am arresting you for the assault and attempted murder of Sara Sidle, CSI." He read him his rights and indicated for the waiting officers to escort him to the real interview room.
He shook hands with Warrick but neither man looked happy. "God Warrick, what was that all about. Do you want in on this interview now? Let's go and find out why?"
After taking half an hour to update Catherine on Ecklie's admission of guilt, and calling into the lab to update Nick and Greg likewise, Warrick and Brass were ready to grill the day-shift CSI once again.
Entering the interview room they saw that he looked pale and drawn, and had obviously been sobbing. His eyes were red and there were signs of tear streaks on both cheeks. To Brass, it was obvious from the look on Ecklie's face that he was already broken and would admit everything in the next few hours.
Jim Brass, a detective for longer than he cared to remember, had never dreamt that something this gruesome could have been instigated by one of his own CSI's. Sure he despised the man now sitting in front of him, but attempted rape and torture? No way. Something must have triggered this man's actions and now it was his duty to find out just what that was
Brass nodded to Ecklie's brief, introduced himself and Warrick, and then turned on the voice recorder.
At the hospital, Catherine had received the news incredulously. She too hated Ecklie with a passion, but was at a loss to explain his actions. She knew he was insanely jealous of Grissom's expertise and ability but surely that wasn't enough to send him over the edge. And why Sara? Did he think that hurting Sara would hurt Grissom, or was there some other sinister reason for hurting Sara? For some reason it scared her to think that Ecklie had a crush on Sara and that this was his pathetic attempt at getting her to see himself rather than Grissom. Her head was whirling at the possibilities and she decided the best thing to do was to go and listen to what he had to say for herself. But first, she had a visit to make.
After checking with Brass, they had decided that Grissom could be informed that he was more than likely to be cleared, and Catherine wanted to tell him face to face. That was why she was now knocking on the door of his apartment after being cleared by the watching police officer.
Grissom looked the worst that Catherine had ever seen him. He was disheveled and pale, and had obviously been beating himself up in a physical way: his knuckles were bleeding and raw. Without a word, Catherine took a hold of his hands and led him through to his bathroom. Running his hands under warm water she carefully tended to his wounds.
Eventually looking into his sad eyes, Catherine smiled thinly. "Oh Gil, whatever were you thinking of?"
Seeing his immediate hurt reaction she quickly continued, "Not what you did, Gil. That's your choice, your life. You know my motto on life. But on work time Gil, that's not you. Never." She stopped her words knowing now wasn't the time to have this conversation.
Pulling him into her arms, she was surprised when the normally stiff and unresponsive Gil Grissom melted into her body and squeezed her so tightly it took her breath away. She whispered, "More of that another time, huh? It seems you are going to be in the clear my friend, Jim and Warrick are interviewing another suspect right now, and from what I can tell, he's all but confessed."
Once again surprised, Catherine heard a wretched sob coming up from Grissom's boots. "Hey Gil! It's ok, it really is. Sara's conscious and doing well, even asked about you. Jim'll get the bastard that did this, and you can live your life free again."
Rocking him gently, she continued, "I think you should go and see Sara, Gil. She needs to see you."
"What can I say to her, Catherine? I wasn't there when she needed me; I never am, am I? It's just she wanted more than I could give. I love her Catherine, but I'm not in love with her. There's no way I could ever be the man she wanted me to be."
Catherine listened to Grissom's outpouring with a funny sense of relief, relief that he didn't want Sara romantically. Why she felt relief she wasn't sure, but it was there. Releasing him slowly, she pulled back to look into his eyes, "I don't care what you tell her Gil, but so help me God, if you cause her anymore hurt at this time I will personally cause you to suffer as much as she's done."
Seeing him start at her words and seeing the look of shock in his eyes, she chuckled. "Yeah, let's just say that a few of us have realized just how much Sara Sidle means to us during this sorry fiasco. Now go and tell her you love her. Just do it right for once Gil or you will have me to answer to."
Catherine dropped a spruced up Gil at the hospital and then hurried back to the police department.
Both Brass and Warrick were painstakingly drawing Ecklie's confession out of him.
In a monotone voice and showing hardly any remorse, Ecklie recounted hearing about Sara's disastrous relationship with Hank Peddigrew. He admitted calling the paramedic to ask if he would be interested in causing some discomfort to Sara. Hank was and so their evil plan had been born.
Warrick Brown listened carefully to Ecklie's recounting of his part in the happenings, but something just didn't sit right. He interrupted, "This is all very nice Ecklie, but as a trained CSI, why did you leave so much evidence behind?"
Ecklie's brief tried to stop his client answering but Ecklie was beyond help. He answered with a sick grin, "Peddigrew was supposed to take second helpings and then move that bitch to another warehouse on the other side of Vegas. By the time her body was found it would be day-shift territory and I was going to make myself lead CSI. Then, if any leads went to where I didn't want them to, I could quietly push them under the carpet."
Warrick looked aghast at his words, pushing further, "And the samples we found on Sara's clothing?"
"Peddigrew was supposed to remove all her clothes as he dumped her. Then he was to set fire to the clothes in another location. Again, my expert CSI skills would fail to find this evidence. After that it would have been so easy to implicate that bastard Grissom"
Catherine entered the observation booth just as he started to chuckle manically to himself. He ground out, "Such a perfect plan in its simplicity; a wonderful CSI covering his own tracks as he went along. Except for that idiot, Peddigrew, how was I supposed to know that he had left Sidle with her cell? If I'd known, I could have taken it off her when I was showing her just who really cares the most for Catherine. Hell, if I'd known, I could have got rid of that whore Sidle permanently, just like Peddigrew was supposed to do."
Catherine in the observation room, and both the men in the interview room, jumped as Ecklie mentioned Catherine's name. What did he mean, 'showing Sara who really cares the most for Catherine'? Smoldering with rage, Catherine left her seat and stormed towards the interview room. Remembering the last time she had done the very same thing she halted her movements. Taking a deep breath, she calmly entered the room to hear Ecklie's continued rant.
"The motto of the story, Brown? Do it for yourself. If you leave it up to imbeciles, you pay the price."
Luckily for Catherine, Brass intervened at that point or she might have been up on a charge of secondary assault. "That's enough Ecklie. We have an idea of how, but for Chrissakes, why? Why did you subject one of your own colleagues to such an horrendous ordeal? Why did you nearly kill Sara?"
Ecklie's face turned bright red in his anger, "Nearly kill her, she *should* be dead. I'll tell you why."
Suddenly standing, he spun around to face Catherine. He stared into her eyes with such a look of madness that she took an involuntary step backwards. Raising a hand he pointed to her face with short emphasizing jabs, "I'll tell you why, because I love *her*. I love Catherine Willows."
Incredulous and enraged, she turned pale and shouted at the leering man in front of her. Emphasizing each word she ground out, "You. Love. Me."
Then, without a backward glance, she turned on her heels and left. Brass and Warrick looked at each other and shrugged. They couldn't decide whether to take a break or to try and draw some more out of Ecklie while he was talking. They didn't have a chance to decide as Ecklie just kept right on rambling.
"I love Catherine Willows and she never even spared me a glance, too busy working with that imbecile Grissom. Both of them too full of their own importance, too full of their own skills to see or hear me. Always trying to be the best CSI team in the land and damn well succeeding most of the time. Then when that woman entered the scene, graveyard became the best, no question."
Looking up, Conrad Ecklie met the eyes of Warrick Brown, "It was always a competition for me, and Grissom, Willows, Brown and Stokes were the team to beat. But when Sidle joined the team it became unbeatable. Have you any idea how that feels? Coming in to work every morning knowing that, whatever you did, the sheriff, the police, and all the CSI staff wanted another group of people working their cases."
Clenching his fists together and slamming them on the table in front of him, he shouted forcefully, "I'll tell you how it feels, it feels like hell. It feels like something has to give. And the something that gave was my love for Catherine..."
Watching through the observation window, Catherine was still in shock. The gruesome Conrad Ecklie was in love with her, and giving that as his excuse for violating Sara. Why? Something was nagging at the back of her mind but could she pull it up? Surely he didn't think that she and Gil were an item? Even if he did, where was the sense in attacking Sara? Unless, of course, Sara was just a pawn for Ecklie: a way to bring Grissom down by framing him for the crime. And yet, so far, Ecklie hadn't mentioned Grissom, the only one to mention Grissom had been Hank Peddigrew as he was initially arrested. Hank Peddigrew maybe thought he had an axe to grind with Grissom because Sara had dumped him, and Sara was in love with Grissom.
Catherine's head spun with the thoughts whirling around her brain. With one ear listening to the bile flowing from Ecklie's mouth her thoughts meandered. Suddenly she heard the sound of someone entering the observation room with her. Glancing up she saw Nick and Greg, both with a serious look on their faces. As Nick started to speak, she heard the words of Ecklie, words she needed to hear. She held her hand up and whispered, "Wait Nick, just let me hear this."
"And the something that gave was my love for Catherine. There'd always been that damn relationship with Grissom, but when that bitch came to work here, even that paled in comparison to the relationship those two perverts were having."
Catherine sat up, stock still. She saw that Warrick and Brass did the same. What the hell was the madman insinuating?
"Every time I saw them together, it was obvious they were having an affair. Sidle would touch Catherine's back and direct her towards the lab, or Catherine would smile into that bitch's eyes. It was awful. In front of everyone, flaunting their perversion to all the world."
Incensed, the blonde CSI found she couldn't listen anymore and turned to a bemused Nick and Greg. She shrugged her shoulders and smiled gently at them.
"What's that all about?" Nick asked.
"Oh nothing, just Ecklie being Ecklie. I'll explain later, I promise. Now tell me what you've got? From the look on your faces, it's not good."
"Um... well... Greg ran the DNA tests on that piece of cloth and... oh shit, you tell her Greg," mumbled Nick, knowing full well that Catherine would be devastated by the news.
Greg blushed and looked down at his shoes.
Catherine Willows didn't suffer fools gladly and now was not the time to upset her in any way. "Guys, quit acting about. Sara's lying in hospital badly hurt, one of my best friends looks like a broken man, and that son-of-a-bitch in there is trying to blame it on me. I'm sure as hell not in the mood for playing games. Out with it," stormed Catherine.
Her tirade over and feeling better for it she graced Greg with one of her dazzling smiles, "Come on Greggo, it can't be as bad as all of that, can it?"
Greg Sanders didn't miss the term of endearment she had just given him and he drew it in to give him support through his next words, "I ran the sweat sample through CODIS and it gave us a perfect match. Not Ecklie. Not Peddigrew. Grissom."
"Jeez, Greg, you've got to be kidding me." Surprisingly, Catherine wasn't devastated, instead she displayed icy calm. Turning to Nick she said, "Nick, get Jim and Warrick out here. I want in on this interview, I've just about had it up to here."
Meanwhile, at the hospital, Grissom had found Sara fast asleep. Sitting by her bed, just like Catherine had earlier, he watched her sleeping peacefully. Sometimes, he wondered just why he couldn't love her, as she appeared to want him to, it wasn't that he didn't care, he did. It was more that he cared too much; he cared for Sara as he would for a sister, as he would for a friend, as he would for a colleague. To Grissom science had always been his world, and science had given him another of his great passions, crime-solving. Nothing in the world, except for one woman that was deliciously becoming more attainable, had ever come close to his love of science and bugs. That woman was Lady Heather not Sara Sidle and now he had to find a way to tell her that.
Deep in thought he failed to see Sara wake and jumped visibly when she touched his hand gently, "Grissom?"
"Hey Sara, what have you been up to?" was his gentle reply. "Catherine tells me, you've been in a pickle."
"Yeah, I guess I have. You weren't there, were you Gil?"
Her innocent question and her use of his first name threw him for a loop, "Huh? No Honey, I wasn't there. I'm so sorry, but I think you know me by now. I just can't do it right by you, can I Sara?"
Squeezing his hand, Sara smiled at the bumbling man in front of her. Looking up into his eyes, she was surprised to see tear streaks on his cheeks, and the unmistakable sign of water in his eyes. She had never seen this amount of emotion in Gil Grissom before and yet, for some unknown reason, it was suddenly obvious that his emotion indicated that he wasn't in love with her. The woman who had thought she was in love with Gil Grissom was even more surprised that a feeling of happiness flowed through her veins at that thought, he cared about her but he didn't love her. That was good.
Seeing the wide grin that crossed Sara's face a bemused Grissom asked, "What?"
"Nothing, nothing. Where were you, Gris? I need to know," implored Sara. Then seeing his look of abject horror, she squeezed his hands again and whispered, "It's ok, Gil, it's ok."
Gil Grissom found himself telling his tale once more. He told her factually and without emotion everything that he had done while she was in trouble, he left nothing out, and found that she seemed to relax with his admittance rather than shy away. As he finished his story, he whispered, "So now you know, Sara, Now you know what sort of a man you think you are in love with. I'm so sorry I wasn't there for you, but I can't change that now. Can you ever forgive me?"
"Gil? I love you more for telling me the truth, I think it's the first time you've ever given me a part of yourself without hiding. But you are right, I only thought I was in love with you. Lying here I've had time to think, you were just there, the unobtainable man I could pretend to have a thing for so that I didn't need to make any other sort of effort in my life," replied Sara.
Grissom and Sara did something they had never done before. As they both unburdened their hearts they shared a hug and they shared tears.
The two friends spent another hour just talking and clearing the air. Sara realized that Grissom and Lady Heather were good for each other, and realized that she was definitely happy for her friend and mentor.
As he stood to leave, Grissom stroked Sara's hair back, and smiled. "I'm sorry we didn't, you know. But somewhere out there Sara, is the one for you. I know it. You know it. You'll be ok." Leaning over he kissed her cheek and whispered, "Love you."
As he reached for the door handle, Sara was once more surprised when he turned and said with a twinkle in his eye, "Actually Sara, I think you might have already met the one, and not too far away from home. All you need to do is be the investigator you claim to be. Open your mind Sara and you will see it." He winked at her and left.
Back at CSI, Catherine had convinced Jim that the only way forward was to confront Ecklie head on and she wanted to be the one to do it. The arrangements made, Brass and Warrick went back into the interview room with their new evidence.
Ecklie grinned ruefully as the two men re-entered the room, it was almost as if he knew what they were about to say. He taunted them, "Have you proved I wasn't there? Maybe you've proved Grissom was there? Is that why you all look so serious, your precious Grissom is not so precious after all?"
That was enough for Catherine, she didn't wait for Warrick to present the information to Ecklie, she just stormed right back in to the room. Thought, rhyme and reason flew out the window in her anger. Yet she was calm enough to know she must avoid any physical contact with the man. Leaning right over the red faced CSI she shouted, "I've had enough of this rubbish, Ecklie. You know that we've found Grissom's sweat on that cloth because you put it there."
Warrick and Brass jumped as Catherine gave away the facts of the DNA ownership. This could backfire and yet, they both knew that Conrad Ecklie was a slime-ball at heart; hopefully Catherine's confrontation would knock him off balance further.
The angry woman continued, "Tell the goddamn truth, man. You implicated Gil Grissom because he's better than you, because I love him more than I love you. That's right, isn't it? I'm in love with Gil Grissom, so you thought 'I'll implicate him in the assault of his favorite CSI and then Catherine will love me'. That's right, isn't it?"
The four men watching the proceedings knew deep down that Catherine was play-acting, or they were pretty sure she was play-acting, but even to them it was a convincing show. So they were all surprised when Conrad Ecklie just laughed right in Catherine's face.
"Oh you're right in one way, my dear Catherine. I did implicate Grissom. I planted a piece of Grissom's lab coat at the scene, and that was the piece of evidence that was going to solve the crime. His sweat on the cloth and blue fibers under Sidle's nails; that was the clincher. But you are not in love with him; you are too good for that idiot. No, my dear Catherine, I just hate Grissom because he is a better CSI than I am. I knew, or thought I knew, because I was wrong, wasn't I, that Grissom would come running to save his darling Sara, and that would help my case."
Once again confused, Catherine dared to ask her most important question, "So Sara was just a means to get rid of Grissom from your life?"
Ecklie gave another evil chuckle, "Oh no, Sara was the number one target. Grissom was just the wonderfully appropriate scapegoat. I wanted rid of that bitch and I nearly succeeded, if only that Peddigrew had been as efficient as he should have been."
Slamming her hands down on the table, Catherine shouted, "Why Sara, damn you, why Sara?"
Seeing a final way to cause anguish to this group of people that he hated with a passion, Conrad Ecklie grinned, and answered her question in a cold, calm, manic voice. "Because she was the one person that was stopping me getting to you. I watched you, the way you looked Sara up and down, the desire shining in your eyes; the way you touched her, so gentle and reverently; you loved her. I watched her, pretending to love Grissom, all the time undressing you with her eyes; trying so hard to solve her cases so that you noticed her; craving and getting your acceptance; she loved you. But together, you made my blood boil, the way you argued and antagonized each other just screamed unresolved sexual tension, the way you stared into each others eyes with passion and lust, the way you comforted each other through bad cases; you were lovers and I couldn't break through"
Laughing out loud he emphasized his next words, "I love you, you love her, she loves you. What's a man to do?"
Astounded, Catherine had enough sense to drag as much out of her victim as she could. Looking him coldly in the eyes she asked, "You love me? And you thought violating the woman I am in love with, while implicating one of my dearest friends, would make me love you? How?"
"You're gorgeous Catherine, could have any man you wanted. How can you love a woman, never mind a bitch like Sidle? You deserve so much more. I just knew that if I could sully that bitch you couldn't love her. You are perfect Catherine. You deserve perfection. How could you love a woman that allowed herself to be drugged, abducted, raped and tortured? How could you still love an imperfect whore like Sidle? That was why I did it. To have any chance with you I had to stop you loving her."
With tears in her eyes, Catherine turned her back on Ecklie, and looked towards her friends. She saw they too were shocked and tearful. The disbelief in all their faces was evident.
Striding out of the room, Ecklie's last vision of Catherine was her back and her cold words, "Book him, Jim, for everything."
Catherine Willows was sitting in a darkened locker room deep in thought. The last half hour had passed by in a blur. After leaving the interview room she had been unable to think of anything other than Ecklie's last words to her, 'To have any chance with you I had to stop you loving her'.
Some misguided belief on Ecklie's part had caused him to attack and harm Sara. All Catherine could think was that it was all her fault; how could she face Sara again knowing that fact?
Footsteps echoed behind her and she turned to look up into the hazel-green eyes of her dear friend, Warrick Brown. He smiled gently and reached out to touch her shoulder, "Jeez Catherine, sorry you had to hear all that. What the hell was it all about?"
"I don't know, Warrick, I really don't know. We're not, Sara and me; you know that, don't you? How can I tell her that goddamn man violated her because he was in love with me? How?" The blonde CSI leaned forward to rest her head against Warrick's stomach.
Wrapping his arms around her slender frame and soothing the rising sobs he whispered, "I don't know, Cath, I really don't. Do you want me to have a go at telling her?"
Vehemently Catherine replied, "No Warrick. I'll talk to her, I just need to get my head round his reasoning." Looking up into his sympathetic eyes, she asked him the question that was burning through her, "Hey Warrick, did I... um... did we, Sara and I... did we do anything to make Ecklie see what he saw. You know what I mean? Did I... did we... oh..."
Chuckling out loud, deliberately trying to lighten the mood, he answered her, "You mean when you were tearing each other to shreds, or when you were giving each other daggers, or when you just ignored each other, or... No!"
"We were never as bad as that, were we?"
"Um, yeah. Then again, you could say that was a pretty passionate, healthy relationship, ripe for lots of reconciliation, if you get my meaning?"
Smacking him playfully, she grinned for the first time in a few, "Get on. I'll tell you one thing, this fiasco has proven to me just how much Sara has become a part of our team, and I intend letting her know that I care about her, whether we argue or we don't"
"That's good Cath." Then, cryptically, he added, "Just take a few moments to look inside yourself, huh? There is one saying my Grammy swears by, 'There's no smoke without a fire'." Hugging her quickly, he smiled once more and left her to her thoughts.
Realization dawning at his words, she shouted to his retreating back, "Just what the hell is that supposed to mean, Warrick?" but he kept going, ignoring her outburst and leaving her to follow his advice.
Back at the hospital, Sara had said goodbye to Grissom and was now resting. Her body ached in places she had never imagined, and she knew that bruises were beginning to show across her body. Try as she might, she couldn't seem to bring up a vision of what had actually happened, and that to Sara, was tantamount to actually being raped. She could never claim to be anything she wasn't, and couldn't lessen the severity of any rape crime, but this violation of her body, without any self-knowledge, without any understanding, to Sara Sidle, this feeling was just as horrific. Normally so in control of her own life, she was scared just how easy it had been for someone to disable her so easily.
The only image she could bring back, other than Hank picking her up for a drink, and the first sight she had of Catherine coming to save her, was a flash of blue. The more she pictured the scene, the more she was sure her assailant was actually wearing a blue lab coat. But, the more she pictured the scene, the more her blue coated attacker morphed in to her blue coated savior.
All Sara could see was a vision of Catherine Willows, wearing her blue lab coat, bent over some evidence, her hair framed in a golden light, looking up to smile genuinely into her eyes. This vision scared Sara nearly as much as her thoughts of losing self-control. Where did her vision of Catherine come from, and why was Catherine the recipient of her desperate phone-call?
That thought made her smile and she suddenly remembered Grissom's last words to her, maybe she had already met her one, not so very far from home. Drifting off to sleep, she once again saw Catherine's vivid blue eyes smiling into her own.
Just before leaving the PD to head towards the hospital, Jim had called Catherine into his office. He said that all the formalities had taken place, Ecklie had been officially charged with attempted rape, assault, and conspiracy to abduct, Hank had been charged with assault and abduction, and Grissom was in the clear, his alibi had been substantiated. At last the CSI staff were able to take a break before completing all their investigations and reports.
For some reason Catherine decided that she needed to see her daughter, Lindsey. Looking down at her golden haired child she smiled to herself; here was the reason she did what she did. Sometimes working in CSI was unbearably grim, but all she had to do was to look at her daughter.
As if realizing that she was being watched, Lindsey woke from her sleep. "Mommy, what are you doing here?"
"Just called to say hello to my baby. Is that ok?"
"Mommy! I'm not your baby; I'm your little girl. Is Sara ok, Mommy?"
Surprised, Catherine could only murmur, "She's fine. A little bit sore, but she'll be fine. I'm just going to see her now, but how did you know she was hurt?"
"Um, Aunt Nancy told me you were helping Sara and that's why you couldn't come home. Then she said you were at the hospital with her, so I thought she must be sick." Suddenly bright-eyed, she reached to her side-table, "So I made this for her. Do you think she'll like it?"
Catherine looked at the picture in her hand; two stick women were swinging a little girl between them. Above the figures was a big smiley sun. "Oh, I'm sure she'll love it, hon. Can I ask who the people are?"
"D'uh, Mommy. That's me, you and Sara, in the park," explained Lindsey as if it was the most natural thing in the world. "I'm going to take her to *our* park when she's better."
Tears coming to her eyes, Catherine murmured, "Oh, you are, are you?" Seeing her daughter's sleepy nod, she agreed quietly. It always amazed her just how perceptive her young daughter could be. Only nine and yet she was ready to give Sara support and her own brand of unconditional love despite the fact that until now, Sara had hardly been a part of Catherine's personal time.
Touching the head of her daughter reverently, Catherine made a silent vow to bring Sara into her family's bosom and if that meant them becoming more than friends, then so be it.
Driving her car towards the hospital, Catherine suddenly realized what her thoughts had delivered; she was interested in having some sort of relationship with Sara, most definitely friendship, but maybe even romance. Giggling like a school-girl as the trials of the last couple of days got to her, she pulled into the hospital car-lot and prepared herself to face the young CSI whose part in her life was hopefully changing drastically.
Entering Sara's room she stood for a few moments just taking in the sight before her. Sara was resting quietly with her eyes closed, her face serene in its relaxation. Even though the bruises of her assault were beginning to darken and take shape, Catherine thought she was at her most beautiful; young, free and innocent. Smiling, she realized that her pulse rate had risen slightly, and wondered if it had always done that at the sight of Sara, or if it had only started with the prompting of an insane man.
Maybe, she thought, the ranting and unbelievable actions of that maniac could have some blessing after all; maybe Ecklie's actions would bring Sara and Catherine together. Frowning slightly at the direction of her thoughts: what if deep down Sara really did hate Catherine? What then of Catherine's new found recognition?
Deep in thought, Catherine failed to see Sara's dark eyes turn towards her with a questioning stare. "Catherine?" the brunette prompted.
"Hey Sara. I got you these in the foyer. Sorry, they're not very much, I'll get you some better ones tomorrow, I promise," the blonde woman rambled as she handed over a small posy of violets.
"Thank you Catherine; you don't have to buy me flowers, it was enough that you came to rescue me." Grinning up at the older woman, Sara teased, "My knight in shining armor."
Then she did something she never thought she'd have the nerve to do; she held her hands out to draw Catherine to her. Hugging the smaller women tightly, she whispered, "Grissom tells me you've arrested somebody in connection with my attack. Will you tell me who, and why he did this to me? Please Cat, I need to know."
Sara smiled secretly into Catherine's hair at the use of that nickname once again; she liked using it, for some reason it was how she saw Catherine, feline. Unbeknownst to Sara, Catherine was smiling too; for some reason she liked Sara using that pet name and hoped she'd continue to do so.
"Yes, hon. I'll tell you, you deserve the truth." Pulling out of the hug, Catherine traced her slender index finger gently down Sara's cheek, she entreated, "Please know I had no inclination that this was happening. I'm so sorry."
Stunned, Sara could only wonder at Catherine's words. "What do you mean, you're sorry? You saved me, Catherine, why do you need to be sorry?"
"Shush Sara and listen, and then you'll know why. Can I hold your hand while I tell you, please?"
Immediately reaching for Catherine's hand, Sara squeezed it in silent encouragement then lay back to listen to Catherine's words.
Slowly and carefully Catherine laid it all out on the table for Sara, sparing no facts, she told the truth as Ecklie had told it. Not once did she attempt to look into Sara's eyes, half afraid she would see total and utter rejection, or worse still repulsion. Gently she stroked the hand held in her own, and sub-consciously she listened for Sara's telltale signs of recollection and realization. Small gasps and deep intakes of breath filtered through occasionally but otherwise Sara just sat and listened.
If Catherine had been looking into Sara's eyes she would have seen disbelief, incredulity, compassion, love and not a small degree of hope. Listening intently, she still managed to let her thoughts drift a little.
Sara remembered being lost and scared in the warehouse and remembering reading somewhere that the most important thing in your head worked it's way to the surface whatever predicament you were in. She then remembered calling Grissom, only to get a massive jolt of surprise when it was Catherine that answered the phone. Thinking back it was amazing that even in her drugged state she automatically knew that she had indeed dialed the most important thing in her life, Catherine.
Hearing Catherine describe her assault as Ecklie had told it, she once again felt the fear as her attacker was beating her to the brink of unconsciousness, and heard again, the warm tinkling laugh of a female friend with piercing blue eyes. A woman who held such promise of warmth and love, that the vision had sustained her 'til her rescue by Catherine and Brass.
Feeling Catherine's vision slowly come to rest on her face as she finished her tale, Sara looked up into those very eyes. Catherine Willows was the owner of the piercing blue eyes that had saved Sara's sanity in her hour of need; Catherine Willows was the woman that held such a promise of warmth and love. Catherine Willows was... Sara came to an epiphany.
Shocked she looked up into Catherine's waiting gaze and saw a quick glimpse of hope, desire and love, before Catherine blinked and started to speak, "So Sara, can you see why I'm sorry. I never meant for my actions to cause that asshole to assault you; I never meant for my actions to lead him on so. Please, please forgive me."
Smiling to ease Catherine's discomfort it was Sara's turn to gently trace the cheek of the woman sitting in front of her. Hearing a sharp intake of breath, Sara whispered hoarsely, "Cat, if, and I mean if, there was any misunderstanding to be had, it came from two people. The relationship Ecklie perceived was between two people. I am as much to blame for what happened, so don't beat yourself up over this, he's not worth it."
"I mean it, Catherine. He's nothing, don't let him spoil what we have, don't let him win," Sara beseeched in a strong, serious voice.
Feeling Sara's thumb gently stroking over her jaw line, Catherine whispered, "What are you saying, Sara? What *do* we have here? What..."
For once in her life Sara took a step into the unknown without thinking it all through first. Grissom's words ringing in her ears, 'open your mind Sara and you will see it', she leant forward and brushed her lips against Catherine's. Lifting up and looking at the older woman, she saw it; Catherine's eyes held a look of such love and desire it took Sara's breath away. So much so that she was amazed she had never seen it before.
Chuckling at her observations and her still investigative mind, Sara leaned forward once more and allowed her lips to hover gently over Catherine's mouth, giving the older woman enough space to withdraw if necessary. Catherine didn't withdraw; she held the position deliberately, allowing the sharing of deep breaths to occur. Then the warmth of Sara's life force whispering over her sensitive lips became too much and Catherine Willows closed the distance between their lips to nothing. Slowly the pressure increased and the two adversaries shared their first kiss.
The kiss that followed was all that a first kiss should be: magical, memorable, loving, caring, friendly, erotic. As rational thought disappeared the kiss become sensual and needy. Gradually, Sara felt confident enough to offer her tongue to Catherine, pushing gently to gain entrance. Catherine gasped against the probing intruder, allowing Sara to stroke the depths of her waiting cavern. It was Sara's turn to gasp when her tongue was greedily accepted and thrust aside with interest. The younger woman couldn't stop the moan that escaped into Catherine's welcoming kiss. Suckling deeply on the blonde's tongue, Sara was rewarded by an answering groan from Catherine. Desperate for air, the two ladies were reluctant to stop. As lips massaged lips, hands came into gentle play; each woman caressing the other's arms and back. Drawing strength from the feelings that were coursing between them, the kiss deepened once more. Time stood still as the love and passion the ladies had hidden carefully for the last four years poured between their two hearts.
Eventually, a need to live and therefore to breathe enticed the ladies to stop. Looking at each other with open amazement they shared a collective, "Wow!" followed by happy laughter from deep inside the both of them. Whatever happened now, that kiss was something to remember, and definitely something to repeat.
Catherine glanced down at her throbbing cell phone, seeing the display read 'Sara' she smiled and answered quickly, "Sara? Is that you? Where the hell are you?"
Sara's mind flew back to the last time she had heard those very words coming from Catherine's lips, chuckling she replied, "Hmmm, seem to remember hearing that somewhere before. I'm sorry babe. Jim's been here with me and he asked if we could discuss the afternoon's plan over a beer or two. I kind of lost track of time and forgot I was supposed to be letting you know what time I'd get there."
"And? What's happening? Where are you? Shall we wait or shall we go home?" said Catherine, looking across the park to see her daughter Lindsey happily swinging to and fro. Sharing a wave with her daughter she felt the unmistakable shiver she always got in Sara's presence. Turning quickly, she locked eyes with the tall brunette ambling across the green towards her.
"I'm here. Couldn't miss spending time with my girls now could I?" said Sara in the cell at her ear as Catherine watched and read the lips of her lover moving in the distance.
Catherine shouted across to Linds that Sara was here then started walking towards the dark haired CSI. As they neared each other she heard the tinny voice in her ear say, "Anyway, there's something else I needed to do," and then the click as Sara switched off her cell.
Pulling Catherine into her she finished her words quietly in Catherine's ear, "I needed to share a kiss with my savior." And she did, locking lips with her smaller lover in a slow, well-practiced dance of love and sensuality.
Lost in each other they missed the sound of approaching feet. The first the two women knew of Lindsey's arrival was the moment a small bullet impacted hard with their lower legs throwing them both dangerously off-balance and into a tangled heap on the floor. Immediately jumping on top Lindsey squealed in delight, "Sara, you've made it. Come on, Mommy said we could get an ice cream as soon as you arrived. Where've you been? We missed you."
Jumping to her feet, she pulled Sara up into a child's bear hug, and then watched as Sara did the same with Catherine.
Sara winked at Catherine, and then the two lovers took their daughter's hands, one on each side of her, and swung her high in the air between them, in a similar vein to the much loved drawing Lindsey had made Sara months before. Laughing out loud, the three members of a loving family ran across the green towards a small ice-cream kiosk.
Later that day, sitting in a darkened courtroom, staring hard at the evil face of Conrad Ecklie, Jim Brass sitting calmly and reassuringly by her side as he had been so often these past few months, Sara remembered that perfect moment with deep pleasure.
It had been six long months since Sara's assault at the hands of Conrad Ecklie and finally they were in court. Ecklie had pleaded guilty to everything but attempted rape, so it was hoped proceedings wouldn't take too long. Sara was going to give her evidence as the victim and Nick, Warrick and Greg were scheduled to give forensic evidence. Catherine was not going to be involved as it was deemed she was too closely involved with Sara. Grissom had arranged to be present throughout the length of the trial, no matter how long it took. He still had a massive guilt complex about not being around when his team was in trouble and thought his support now would be scant redemption but welcome nevertheless.
Hank Peddigrew had already stood trial for his part in the assault and was now residing at Las Vegas penitentiary, awaiting transfer to another jail in time.
During the hours of the trial Sara had to live through her assault once again. The only thing that helped in any way was the thought that now, she was going home to a family, Catherine and Lindsey, rather than home to a lonesome existence.
Since the recognition of their feelings for each other Catherine and Sara had enjoyed a slow and unhurried courtship, full of romance, love and togetherness. The guys of Graveyard had not been surprised by the relationship that had developed; if anything they had all seen it approaching in some way or another prior to the whole sorry fiasco. It had just taken the ranting of a mad man to make them all acknowledge what they had been seeing.
The support Sara had received was firmly locked in her heart. Prior to her assault she had always felt on the outside of the team known as Graveyard shift. Now she knew she was as much a part of the team as any of the other members. Fulfilling her promise made to Warrick and to herself, Catherine had let Sara know just how much she was accepted, and had also arranged regular team get-togethers to emphasize the point. Not only did they all work together, but they all, Grissom and Brass included, spent social time together. They were a family and that was all that mattered.
Catherine and Sara had reached an important decision just before the start of the trial, but had decided to keep things secret until the results were known. Catherine had called one of the team get-togethers immediately after the trial and the secret would be announced then.
Finally, after 12 hours in court, and 2 hours of the jury being out, the verdict was ready to be announced. Catherine had left Lindsey with Nancy for the rest of that day and night, and was now sitting in close proximity to Sara. Sharing a glance as the clerk called the court to order, Catherine grasped Sara's hand and squeezed tightly. Looking up she caught the eye of Conrad Ecklie and he sneered evilly, winking as he motioned his head between the two lovers. Catherine gasped as he blew her a kiss.
Sara pulled Catherine to her side, oblivious to the fact they were in a public place. Turning her head to the side she kissed Catherine's cheek and whispered, "Ignore the bastard, Cat. He's not worth it and without him, we might not be stood here holding each other. I love you, you know that, don't you?"
Tears filled Catherine's eyes as she kissed Sara gently in response, "Yes I do, hon. And I love you, more than anything. Thanks."
Looking back towards the front of the courtroom, they were just in time to see the judge open the written verdict. He smiled to himself, handed the paper to the clerk and then nodded. The clerk of court turned back to the jury and asked the foreperson to stand.
The clerk stood tall, looked into the eyes of Conrad Ecklie and announced in a contemptuous voice showing just how much this case had sickened all members of the law/police professions: "Guilty."
Smiling at the jury foreperson he continued on, "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is this your verdict?"
In a surprising show of unity, the jurors held raised for all to see their joined hands, and as the foreperson answered, "Yes," they all nodded towards Sara and Catherine.
A swell of voices filled the courtroom as the verdict was announced and everyone rose to congratulate each other on the much-wanted verdict. The judge allowed the clamor to continue; he was just as elated at the correct verdict as everyone else.
Sara rested her head against Catherine's shoulder and sobbed, as she heard both Greg and Nick let out a whoop of joy. Grissom and Warrick were much more sedate and both leant forward to touch her shoulders.
Then Jim Brass surprised Sara even more as he pulled her from Catherine's embrace and hugged her tightly to his chest. With a hitch in his voice he murmured into her hair, "Got the bastard, Sara. Thank you for being so strong, without you we couldn't have got him and Peddigrew. But don't ever do that again, you hear. We need you to be safe." He then kissed her hair lightly and passed her back to Catherine.
Warrick was hugging Catherine and he drew Sara into his circle. Mindful of court proceedings the team began to quietly leave the excited courtroom. Sara and Catherine brought up the rear and with one last contemptuous glance at Ecklie they followed their friends. Their ordeal was finally over.
Later at Catherine's pre-arranged get-together in CSI headquarters, the team was joined by many more of their friends and colleagues. Nancy had brought Lindsey in for an hour and the Willows ladies and Sara had all shared a group hug before Lindsey went away for the night, allowing Sara and Catherine to spend the evening together.
All of the lab technicians had shown their face, as had Doc Robbins and David. In fact, most of the day shift had called in to pass their congratulations. Many police officers were there or calling in for a few moments. It was a massive relief to everybody that Ecklie had been found guilty and had been shown to be the madman he was. Now, the whole of the police department and especially CSI could get back to doing what they did best; solving crimes and putting the bad guys behind bars for their public not for themselves.
Grissom had asked Catherine, and Sara, if he might bring Lady Heather to the party. They had both agreed readily. Over the months since the assault case, Lady Heather had become a permanent fixture in Gil Grissom's life and both Sara and Catherine cared enough about him to accept that unquestioningly.
In fact, immediately after the assault, Grissom had spoken to all of his team and Jim Brass, explaining honestly and openly where and what he had been doing on the night in question. He had offered to resign his position if that had been what they all wanted, but to a man they had just accepted his life and accepted his continued leadership without a murmur.
More recently, he had told Catherine, Sara and Jim that he and Lady Heather were negotiating a property deal to purchase the Tampaloona warehouse. He wanted to ensure Sara had no reservations about his deal, before proceeding in his plans to support Lady Heather's dream of owning and running a fetish nightclub of good repute. Sara did not mind and had even asked Catherine to approach Sam Braun for advice for her close friend and mentor.
As Gil told them of his interest in the warehouse, the last piece of the assault puzzle fell into place in Catherine and Jim's eyes, why Conrad Ecklie had used the Tampaloona warehouse as his crime scene. Catherine realized that Ecklie had found out about Gil's interest in the warehouse and had used that building in the hope Gil's involvement in the crime would be further compounded.
Now, looking around the room at all the smiling faces Sara Sidle had never felt so loved. Walking over towards Catherine Willows she took her hand and took her out into the quiet corridor. Smiling beatifically she kissed her partner, best-friend and now lover to the depths of her soul, whispering, "It's time, my love. Let's go and tell them our news, ok?"
Catherine pulled Sara back and looked intently into her eyes, "Are you sure you want to do this, hon?"
"Yes, Cat, more than anything. You know me more than anybody now, it's something I've always wanted to do, and if it means I get to help you with bringing Lindsey up, I'm even surer. You two are all that matter to me now, your safety and your future."
"Thank you Sar. You two are my life too, so don't ever forget that, and don't ever forget my telephone number, God knows who you'll call next time."
Laughing together they went back to greet their friends. Calling their "family" across to them, they were joined by Gil, Lady Heather, Warrick, Nick, Greg and Jim.
As he sat down, Warrick could sense something was a foot, he asked, "Come on ladies, spill the beans, you've got something to say."
Pulling a bottle of champagne from behind her back Sara took a hold of Catherine's hand, "Yeah, we have. Just let me open this and fill your glasses."
Glasses filled she looked around the group once more, seeing their expectant faces she grinned, "Oy! I don't think you're going to hear what you're all expecting but here goes. You all know that Catherine and me are now a couple..." She took a hold of Catherine's hand once again, "... Well, we've come to a major decision. As of tonight, I am moving into Catherine's home and hopefully making Lindsey my own. That said, we thought something else had to change and so..."
Emotion took a hold of Sara and she faltered, seeing her distress, Catherine took over, "So, you know there is a vacancy for Supervisor on day-shift?" She looked at the group who all held a look of 'D'uh" and laughed out loud. "Well, there isn't a vacancy anymore; can I present the new day-shift supervisor to you all, Sara Sidle."
A moment of silence hung over the group as the fact registered, Sara was leaving her team to join the day crew.
Suddenly Grissom piped up, "Um, Sara, Catherine, this might not be the time, but are you sure? You'll be like ships that pass in the night." Smiling sheepishly he shrugged his shoulders and murmured, "I was just thinking."
Sara smiled and hugged him; he really was like an older brother these days. "Yeah Gil, we know that. But with two understanding supervisors we are hoping that we will get all our days off at the same time, and with doubles and stay-ons, we thought we'd probably see each other a damn sight more than we do now." Winking at the team, she added, "And this way, there should be one of us with Lindsey at most times. So, yeah, we really are sure. Um... don't I get any congratulations, huh?"
As if realizing the deeper significance of the move, all argument and shock forgotten, the group stood as one and enveloped her, and Catherine, with congratulations. They all knew it was what Sara had wanted since her arrival in Vegas, and now with Catherine's personal support they knew she could do it. They also knew, immediately, with these two strong but deeply in love women on opposing shifts, there would be no more competition and aggression between the two teams. The PD and CSI would be stronger for the cooperation between shifts.
As the night drew to a close, the two women walked towards their home together. Arms around each other they chatted happily and opened up the house. Suddenly, Sara picked Catherine up and carried her into the hallway, pausing to close the door with her elbow, and giggling as Catherine threw the lock and switched the hall light on, before slowly lowering Catherine to the ground. She then leaned in and gave Catherine a slow sensuous kiss of love and welcome.
Catherine laughed delightedly and asked, "What was that all about, Sara?"
"Oh nothing, Cat. I just feel like this is the start of a new life, a new brilliant life, and it seemed like a good idea to carry my woman over the threshold of my future with me."
Grinning evilly, Catherine's eyes lit up with a lust that took Sara's breath away every time she saw it. Sara knew instinctively that her own eyes were widening and darkening as she read Catherine's intent. Accepting the hands that were offered her, Sara allowed herself to be dragged slowly towards the master bedroom. Her last conscious thought of this momentous day was of Catherine's husky voice dripping with desire, "Well come this way, my love, and let me show you our future."
Sara smiled as the bedroom door was slammed on the dark days, their future light in front of her.
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