DISCLAIMER: Jerry Bruckheimer, CBS and various others own CSI, not me. I just played in their sandpit for a while.
SPOILERS: Set during the Season 5 Episode: Nesting Dolls. Soundtrack: Nina Simone "All the Way", words and music by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

How Deep It Goes
By Celievamp


Her head hurt, her eyes were burning, her skin was crawling and her chest felt far too tight. If she didn't know herself better, Sara would have thought that she was having a panic attack. Boxes and boxes of files. Face after face after face. All different yet all somehow the same. Half-defeated, half-defiant, brutalised, staring up at her in mute appeal. Where were they now, she wondered. Had this been the final straw for them, had they made their escape or were they still enduring their lot for whatever reason, or had they already passed through her unit or others like it or were they out there somewhere, as her Jane Doe had been, waiting to be discovered, waiting for her, Sara Sidle, to tell their story.

"We don't get as many of these as we used to," the nurse had said.

"Domestic violence laws have forced men to get smarter about their hitting," Sara replied. Her father had been smart. He had got away with it for over a decade and then it had only stopped because her mother had finally snapped. She opened the file and tried not to see her mother's face, her own face stare back at her from the page. But it was so hard. This was her past after all.

She had made a study of abuse victims and the children of abuse victims in college. She knew the statistics – how many women were serially brutalised by father's, brother's, boyfriends, husbands. Career victims. How many abused children became abused adults or abusers themselves continuing the cycle.

Not her.

This wasn't the same face. Sara opened the next folder. Another pair of eyes stared up at her. Sick with pain, defeated, compliant. Someone else who was `clumsy', who had `walked into a door' or `fallen down a flight of stairs'. She could hear her father's drawl as they took their mother to the emergency room again. No, not her father, her mother. Matt Sidle and Laura Sidle. She was never allowed to address them as mom and dad, only by their names. Later, she was grateful for that distance.

Mia glanced at the clock. Four thirty. Ecklie had already given her a hard stare from the corridor. He was on the prowl for some reason. Mia had very little time for the man. Few of her colleagues did either by all account. She had learnt very quickly that the best way to get rid of him was to go technical. Ecklie had been a political animal for so long he had forgotten what little he once knew of the labwork side of the job. Not that he'd ever admit that. He'd listen to whatever she told him, brow furrowed, thin lips pursed and then nod decisively. "Good job, Mia."

It wasn't as if she had to make-up work. This extra time let her put a dent in the backlog, nothing more. And she had promised herself that she would wait for Sara. She would be there for her lover, if she was needed. Inching up the volume on her CD player she let Nina's voice wash over her for a moment before returning her attention to the array of samples in front of her.

"Deeper than the deep blue sea is

That's how deep it goes - if it's real"

What she felt for Sara was real – she was sure of that. Mia was pretty certain that it was reciprocated, that Sara had come to truly care for her. It hurt her so much to see Sara hurting herself over this, but it was the kind of person she was to give herself over 100% to this kind of case to be a voice for the voiceless.

Ten more files and I'll quit, she told herself. She isn't here… it was a longshot at best. Ten more files and I'll report it a bust and go home. I've been here hours already. No one will think any the worse of me. The others would have quit ages ago. Ten more files…

Ten more files and there were perhaps another dozen files left. She stared at them, nervously flexing her fingers and cracking her thumb joint. There was no way she could do it. There was no way she could just get up and go leaving those dozen files unexamined. With a heavy sigh she reached for the next file.

It was her Jane Doe.




Sara scanned down the rest of the page, the two words leapt out at her…


Svetlana… the name told her the whole story. Mail-order bride, much younger than her husband, in a foreign land with no one to turn to no one to notice the bruises and the broken bones. Probably totally dependent on her husband for food, clothing, never allowed to have money of her own or to go out of the house without his presence. The isolation she must have suffered. Sara could picture that life, the suffocating terror fading to blankness, invisibility… just like…

No. Not her. Never her.

A face. A name. An address. A husband. A murderer?

Time to find out.

"Hey," Mia tried not to show how out of breath she was as she finally caught up with her lover. Sara had contacted Brass from the hospital – by the time she had arrived back, Andrew Melton was on his way in to be interviewed. Catherine Willows had taken the lead on the interview with Sara second-seating. It had not gone well. She caught a glimpse of Sara almost running along the corridor out of the building and managed to head her off in the carpark.

"I suppose you heard what happened," Sara said bitterly, leaning against the hood of her car.

Mia winced. The whole building must have heard the angry exchange between Catherine and Sara in the corridor and Ecklie's equally angry intervention. She had apparently accused Andrew Melton of being a wife-beater and murdering his wife to his face. Unfortunately, as things stood, there was no evidence that he had anything to do with his wife's death.

Mia had never seen Sara so angry and out of control. She wasn't entirely sure who that anger was directed towards – Andrew Melton, Catherine Willows, Conrad Ecklie or indeed inwards, on Sara herself.

"I blew it," Sara said softly. "We'll never get him now. I totally screwed the case but I know… I just KNOW that this guy is guilty. He killed that woman. And now he's got this… child-wife who doesn't speak a word of English and has no idea that she even HAS rights and is dependent on this bastard for everything and there's nothing that can be done because Catherine Willows…" she paused, took a deep breath, shaking with reaction. "No, that's not fair really, Catherine was just trying to do her job and salvage the case. But sometimes there has to be more, you know. Once, a couple of years ago, Catherine accused me of having no feelings, of not seeing beyond the science. And now she wants me to step back to leave it to the authorities to follow up if Melton is abusing her. Which he is, of course. I know he is, he has to be he's a control freak just like…just like…" she stammered to a halt.

"Sara, I…" Mia reached out to touch her but didn't quite make contact. Sara was far too spooked to tolerate any kind of physical interaction even from her. Her walls were as high as Mia had ever seen them.

"You didn't hear what I said to Catherine," Sara said, closing her eyes. "It was unforgivable…"

You can't arrest someone for marrying the wrong person.

You would know.

"She got so high and mighty with me, about how I was letting my emotions cloud my judgement – as if she's never… I don't know how she dares…"

You know… every time we get a case with a hint of domestic violence or abuse, you go off the deep end. What is your problem?

"I was so mad at her I didn't think that Ecklie would be lurking. I don't think Catherine knew either… I don't want to think she was goading me deliberately…" Sara sighed. "God, did everyone hear what I said to her?"

"Pretty much," Mia forced a smile. "Though the connecting door to the morgue was shut. The Doc and SuperDave might not have heard directly…

"… but the gossip hotline in that place will have taken care of that," Sara said bitterly. "Jeez, Mia, I accused her to her face of using her sexuality to get what she wanted and letting it affect her judgement about cases…"

Yeah, I probably do, and you let your sexuality cloud your judgement about men and I'm gonna go over your head.

"She has every right to be mad as hell at me… but then that prick Ecklie…" When Ecklie had called her into his office she felt she had nothing to lose. Catherine, as ever, had brought the worst out in her: she still wasn't sure what it was about the redhead that brought out the viciously arrogant aspect of her character sometimes.

You are a law enforcement officer and a representative of this city. That means I expect you to conduct yourself in an appropriate manner, in and away from this lab.

Having Ecklie rub her nose in the fact that Catherine was technically her superior – if not her actual supervisor rubbed her even further the wrong way. He called her on her disrespect for the older woman, her aggressiveness towards witnesses – and the way she got an easy ride on her DUI. He intimated that her relationship with Grissom was inappropriate, which was so far off-beam that she had difficulty keeping a straight face. As her relationship with Mia was an open secret in the lab and had been for months it just proved that the man saw everything and nothing. In short, she was not the kind of person he wanted in his lab. Well that worked both ways.

The only reason this is your lab is because Grissom doesn't kiss ass. You couldn't hack it in the field, so you fail your way up, you break up our team, and now you just hang out in the hallways waiting for one of us to screw up.

"In case you hadn't heard already I'm suspended without pay for one week. And he gave me a strong suggestion that I should re-evaluate her personal loyalties, whatever that means. Oh, and I have to apologize to Catherine…" Sara made a disgusted sound and shook her head. Mia got the impression that it would be a cold day in hell before that happened. Sara had inched a little closer to her as she spoke, leaning in towards her and Mia answered the unspoken invitation, taking her partner into her arms.

"It'll be okay, you'll see. You needed a break…" She paused as she felt Sara tense and pull away slightly from her again.

"The suspension's nothing. Ecklie's completely bogus but… what if I've screwed up our chance of getting Melton… if I've blown the case I'll never forgive myself. I failed her…"

"You didn't fail anyone, Sara. You were probably the first person to stand up… to care for this woman in a very long time. Now you just have to trust the rest of us to put together the best case that we can," Mia said softly, brushing a lock of dark hair back from Sarah's cheek.

"I know… I'm being stupid… I know you guys will do your best. I know. Really. It's just…" Sara sighed. "Look, I'm going home. I need to get myself together…"

"I should have finished an hour or more ago. Give me a minute and I'll come…" Mia paused as Sara shook her head.

"I really need my own space for a while, Mia, no offence, please. I'll er… I'll call you later, okay." Her lips fleetingly touched Mia's and then she got into her car. All Mia could do was stand back and watch her drive away.

All the Way by Billie Holiday (lyrics and music Jimmy Van Heusen / Sammy Cahn)

When somebody loves you
It's no good unless he loves you - all the way
Happy to be near you
When you need someone to cheer you - all the way
Taller than the tallest tree is
That's how it's got to feel
Deeper than the deep blue sea is
That's how deep it goes - if it's real
When somebody needs you
It's no good unless he needs you - all the way
Through the good or lean years
And for all the in between years - come what may
Who know where the road will lead us
Only a fool would say
But if you'll let me love you
It's for sure I'm gonna love you - all the way, all the way

The End

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