DISCLAIMER: CSI belongs to CBS and Jerry Bruckheimer, though Vlad Stavcovic, the Blantic Brothers, Ellie Wilson, and Reese Denver belong to me.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is an A/U story. Sara never became a CSI, Catherine doesn't know Sam Braun is her father…yet. Written in response to Wend's Catch Me If You Can –challenge. Hope you like it…
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By MBInc


Chapter 1: Russian Roulette.

"Copy that," a tall, dark-haired woman in a well-fitting, black suit said as she received a message through her earpiece.

After straightening her newly-tailored jacket, Sara Sidle headed for the main entrance of the casino where she would escort her boss to an appointment at the Bellagio. This was her second week in Vegas and her very first day as member of Sam Braun's surveillance team.

When she'd signed her contract yesterday she thought she'd have to stand guard in one of the gambling rooms –a boring job to her, but she needed the money and so, had took this opportunity with both hands.

This morning, however, she was gladly informed she would be assigned to Mr. Braun's group of bodyguards and that she would get a permanent appointment if she did well today.

Her previous job had been in San Francisco, where she had been head of a team of personal security to self-made millionaire Vlad Stavcovic. The middle-aged man had always been a good boss, easy to work for, and hardly any problems had arisen during the year Sara had been chief of security.

But one night, about a month ago, things had changed.

Mr. Stavcovic and Sara were having their weekly dinner meeting. After half an hour of going through the schedule of the coming week, noting down some special events the millionaire had to attend, Stavcovic suddenly asked the tall brunette about her personal life, a thing he every once in a while –when in a good mood- did.

"So, how are you and your better half?" Stavcovic asked. He had overheard one of his servants talking about his chief of security and her foul mood of the last few weeks.

Sara had to smirk a little at his choice of words. "My better half," she said, her smirk turning into a rueful grin, "betrayed me three months ago. When I came home I found this guy in our bedroom."

"Another man? He betrayed you with another man?" Mr. Stavcovic asked. "He's gay?" Not giving the brunette time to answer he continued. "That's not the way a woman should be treated. That filthy ani-"

"No," Sara interrupted. "She, my girlfriend, betrayed me. Moved in with me, used me, then decided she couldn't go without certain parts of the male body. That night I kicked her, as well as all her little knick-knacks that had invaded my house, out. Since then I've been on my own again."

Stavcovic sat there staring at the brunette, taking in everything the tall woman had just said with a rather disgusted look on his face, not saying a word. Sara started to regret her actions, she shouldn't have thrown it all out in the open like that. But she was so fed up with Ellie Wilson.

The bitch.

She wasn't 100 percent sure, but she thought she'd seen Ellie's car speed off just seconds after that Molotov was thrown –badly aimed- against her front door, bouncing back and landing on her porch. No real damage was done, but the next day she'd started packing and now she was living in this small apartment at the other side of town.

Looking back at Stavcovic she was about to say something when he finally spoke up. "You're a lesbian?"

Sara merely nodded, fearing what was to come.

The next morning when she entered the security office at Stavcovic's villa, she was handed her resignation. She then and there decided to leave San Francisco.

She decided to try her luck in Las Vegas.

One week ago, after she had temporarily dropped all her stuff in a crappy motel room, she went in search for a job and ended at the Strip –at a casino of Sam Braun.

As she reached the main entrance she took a quick scan of the surroundings –noticing the limousine waiting already.

Jake, chief of the surveillance staff, was headed her way, two other bodyguards walking behind him, flanking Sam Braun.

Just as Sara opened the door of the limousine, a black car sped by with the passenger's window down and the brunette noticed a glint from inside the car. The smell of burning rubber that had filled her nose was quickly replaced by that of gunpowder as shots were fired, coming from the car.

"Get down!" she screamed as she pulled her gun. Suddenly she was pushed and fell forwards.

The shooting didn't stop, and Sara felt the whizzing of a bullet past her shoulder. Quickly she scrambled onto her feet and sought shelter of the bullet-rain behind the limousine. Aiming her gun at the black car, she noticed shots were still fired, though seemed to miss every target.

An hour later Sara stood at the one-way window of one of the interrogation rooms at the LVPD, using its mirror-simulating quality to look at her battered reflection.

The door opened and the bodyguard saw the reflection of a strawberry blonde woman and a droopy-eyed, grumpy looking man entering the interrogation room. She recognized the man to be detective Brass whom she had already spoken to at the casino. The woman, though, she hadn't seen before.

She guessed her to be a few years her senior, but damn did she have a nice body. She definitely knows how to accessorize, Sara thought, thoroughly enjoying the view she had of the low cut shirt –a golden necklace pulling her eyes towards the small hint of cleavage.

Sara felt a shiver run through her spine as she noticed a pair of striking blue eyes checking her out. She also noticed she small smirk settling on the lips of the strawberry blonde woman.

"Miss Sidle?" the detective spoke up.

The brunette turned to face them, her face guarded –not showing any emotion.

"This is-" he started, but was interrupted by the woman.

"Catherine Willows, CSI," the strawberry blonde said as she walked over to the tall dark-haired woman and shook her hand. Though the bodyguard's suit was practically ruined, Catherine thought she still looked beautiful. No, handsome, she thought. Handsome seems to fit her better.

Sara raised an eyebrow at the electric shock she felt as her hand connected with that of the CSI's. Did she feel that as well?

"Right," Brass started, both of the women focusing again on why they were here. "We need you to tell us everything you can remember."

Sara nodded, closed her eyes and took a deep breath, the entire scene enfolding itself in her mind again.

"The guy that shot us drove a black Toyota, yellow star on the hood, tinted windows, license plate started with LFJ," the brunette said as she used her already completely ruined jacket to swipe at the blood seeping from her cheek and eyebrow.

"That's an observing eye you have there," Catherine said. After setting her kit down and snapping on some gloves she walked over.

Sara shrugged. "Part of the job. Have to be on your toes every second, take in your surroundings. It's what I get paid for, and what I do best." She hissed as she pressed the sleeve of her jacket a little too hard against the cut in her eyebrow.

"Let me have a look at that," Catherine said as she reached for the dark fabric pressed against the still bleeding wound.

"Nah, it's okay. I'll live," the brunette said stubbornly as she moved back and out of the strawberry blonde's reach.

"Come on, it's what I do best," Catherine smiled reassuringly as she took another step towards the tall woman.

"I thought you said you were a crime scene investigator, not a doctor."

"I'm a mother. That job requires medical knowledge as well as that of cooking, washing, school politics, latest fashion trends, hottest new boy bands," she said, adding the last part with a dramatic sigh of despair.

"A mother, huh?" Sara said as she let the strawberry blonde take her jacket out of her grip.

"Yes, so having a look at bumps and scratches is part of my job," Catherine said as she cupped the younger woman's chin, turning her head just a bit to get a better look at the wounds. Sara was marveled by the soft touch of Catherine's fingers on her skin –the stinging pain from the cut instantly forgotten and replaced by a tingling feeling settling in her stomach.

"Boy or girl?" Sara inquired after she had composed herself, moving her head back and out of the strawberry blonde's grasp.

Catherine shot her an evil glare, motioned to the chair –wordlessly ordering the tall woman to sit, then turned and reached across the table, pulling her kit closer and searching for some absorbent cotton and gauze.

Sara kept her stance, not willing to let this woman walk over her completely, even though her body had an entirely different idea on that matter.

Catherine turned back, hands filled with the necessities she needed in order to clean the brunette's wounds. "Sit down," she said sternly as she pushed the brunette on a chair.

Brass, who had found his familiar 'hanging spot' against the back wall, sniggered softly as he watched the two stubborn women. This could get interesting, he thought, a smirk lingering on his lips.

As the older woman turned back to the bodyguard she reached for Sara's chin again –a little rougher than before. The brunette flinched a little as Catherine started to disinfect the scratches on the younger woman's cheek.

"Sorry," the strawberry blonde started while she was working on the brunette's wounds. "I have to clean this up first. Please keep your head still." She felt the younger woman nod and slowly let her hand slip off Sara's chin.

She locked eyes with the brunette as she placed the used cotton on the table and reached for new. Sara, spotting from the corner of her eye that Catherine reached past the absorbent cotton, stretched her arm, grabbed some and handed them over to the CSI.

"Here," she smirked.

"Thanks," Catherine quickly replied, feeling her cheeks burning up as one single thought went through her mind, Busted!

Those dark, hazel eyes had such an enchanting effect on her. The minute she had stepped into the interrogation room and had first laid eyes on the tall bodyguard, a shiver ran through her body, settling in the pit of her stomach. But knowing she had a job that needed to be done, she quickly ignored the stir the brunette had caused, wiped the smirk off her face and let her investigative skills kick in. However, now all those skills seemed to have vanished to the background again. Damn those eyes...

A soft clearing of a throat shook Catherine out of her and remembered Sara had asked her a question. "A girl, Lindsey," she replied. The scrapings on the bodyguard's cheek all fixed up, Catherine now examined the cut in Sara's eyebrow.

"Well, if she's as persistent as her mother she must be a handful," Sara smirked.

"That she is," Catherine smiled back.

"Alright," Brass chipped in. "Is there anything else you can tell us?"

"Well," Sara thought for a moment, replaying the entire event once again –her eyes closed as the older woman was assessing the cut in her eyebrow. The way those bullets had flown across the air, how they had whirred past her head it was a miracle she hadn't been hit.

The cut in her eyebrow had actually been Jake's fault. The chief of surveillance made his way over to Sam Braun, pushing him to safety into the limousine the second the first shot rang, causing the brunette to fall head-first against the curb, her face connecting with her drawn Glock.

As she recalled the shots, there had been something odd about the trajectory. The shots hadn't been aimed at Sam Braun. They had been aimed at her.

Her eyes shot open as that fact dawned upon her.

"What's wrong?" Catherine inquired. "Do you remember something? Something about the gunman?"

"No," Sara whispered. "Sam Braun was not the intended target."

"Then who was?" Brass asked not believing that anyone other than Sam Braun, a shady casino owner, could have been the gunman's target.

"I was," she whispered, locking eyes with the strawberry blonde.

"There were shots fired from my left, directed at me. The car was right in front of me, the gunman firing towards the guards at the door. I think he didn't even fire live rounds, considering not one of the guards got hurt despite the dozens of bullets he fired. The gunman never fired in my direction, though I had to duck behind the limousine, dodging a couple of bullets."

"Can you remember who was or were at your left?" Catherine asked softly.

Sara nodded immediately. "My chief, Jake Banting."

"Banting? Blantic you mean," Brass said. "Are you sure?" he asked, a not so happy look settling on his face.

The brunette nodded again, running a shaky hand through her hair. Blantic, Blantic. She searched her brain, thinking why that name sounded so familiar.

Sara gasped as pieces of the puzzle started to fall into their places. "Fuck."

"What?" Brass asked as he took a tentative step towards the tall woman.

"Blantic you said, right?"

The detective nodded.

"Before I came to Vegas, I worked in San Francisco as head of a personal security team of Mr. Stavcovic, a fifty year old millionaire. He had a business partner, Pavel Blantic."

"Big chance he's related to our Jake," Brass interrupted, but then urged the woman to continue.

"After working for Stavcovic for about a year, he suddenly fired me without a good reason."

"What reason did he give you?" the detective inquired.

"I walked in on my lover and some guy."

"That's definitely a strange reason to be fired," Catherine quipped.

"That's not it," Sara started again. "It was because I caught my girlfriend with another guy."

Catherine had to swallow once, wondering –secretly hoping- whether she had heard the brunette correctly.

Sara, noticing she strange look on the strawberry blonde's face, spoke up again, hoping everything would be clear then. "He fired me because I'm gay."

The older woman nodded, another shiver running through her spine as Sara glanced at her.

There was a knock at the door and their heads turned towards the door. A cop was standing there, asking Brass to come along, because there was a man who needed to speak to him immediately about the shooting accident at Sam Braun's casino. The detective excused himself and headed for the reception area, leaving two silent women behind.

Catherine, looking at the brunette who still sat on the chair, shoulders hunched, head hung, decided to break the silence between them. "When exactly did you arrive here in Vegas?"

"Two weeks ago," Sara said, not looking up.

"I'm sorry to hear she did that to you, you seem to be such a nice person."

The brunette lifted her head, a small smile curling her lips. "I'm not."

Catherine raised her eyes questioningly at that statement.

Sara noticing the look on the older woman's face knew she had to clarify herself. "Sorry, that is. Because otherwise I'd probably never have met you," she said softly, looking straight into Catherine's sparkling blue eyes.

The strawberry blonde felt her cheeks reddening again and just as she was about to speak up, Brass entered the interrogation room again.

"Damn," the detective cursed as he entered the room. "Blantic. He's here."

"What? Here? I though he accompanied Mr. Braun to his hideout?" Sara asked surprised.

"No," Brass replied. "After being questioned by the police Sam Braun headed off for his appointment after all."

That coldhearted asshole, the dark-haired bodyguard thought, her hands clenching into fists –knuckles turning white because of the tight grip. Caring for his staff, yeah right.

"We have to get you out of here," Brass started. "Without him noticing. Where are you staying at the moment?"

"They just set me up with…"

"A room at one of Sam Braun's hotels," Catherine finished.

Sara nodded.

"You can't go back there," Catherine stated flatly.

"Why not? If I don't go back, Blantic will know something's up. He'll realize I know something," the tall dark-haired woman said as she stood up.

"She has a point, Catherine," Brass said, immediately regretting his words as he received a death-glare from the CSI.

"She can't go back," Catherine said to the detective.

"Hey," Sara started, walking over to the strawberry blonde. "I can take care of myself. I've had years of training," she said, anger tangible in her voice.

"You need to leave Vegas," Catherine quipped, locking eyes with the brunette.


The two women were involved in a staring contest –both strong-willed and not wanting to give in.

"At least don't go back to that hotel," the older woman spoke up, her voice as well as her look softening a little as she noticed the fatigue in those hazel eyes looking at her.

Sara pinched the bridge of her nose, thinking over her options in the process. "No," she replied. "I'm sorry, Miss Willows, but I need to get back."

Grabbing her jacket off of the table she walked out of the interrogation room, leaving a flustered Catherine behind.

Brass quickly headed after the brunette, and stopped her before she would walk into the reception area and cross paths with Blantic.

"Not a smart move, kiddo," the detective said as he pulled her into his office. "Listen, I'll come along to your hotel, drop you off at your room and arrange a stake out."

"That's not necessary, I'll be fine," Sara said, still not wanting to give in an inch.

"Listen to me. You do not want that woman to be angry at you," he said as he pointed to outside of his office. "Especially if you want a chance with her," he added mumbling.

"What did you say?" Of course she had heard him –loud and clear, but she realized the man was right, and that if she would be killed tonight, she would never get a chance with the strawberry blonde.

"Nothing, nothing," the detective answered. "Just let me make a phone call, then we're out of here."

Sara sighed her defeat. She had definitely felt something between her and that CSI Willows, and although she could take care of herself well enough, decided to take the detective up on his offer.


Chapter 2: Vegas Hold 'em

After Brass finished his phone calls he told the bodyguard to stay put. Sara asked him if she could use his phone to make a call, showing the detective her cell phone which had been broken during the gunfight.

He nodded, then left her in his office. As he walked out into the hall he noticed Catherine talking to Sam Braun's chief of personal security.

"I thought you told me that she was still here, making her statement?" a dark, frustrated sounding voice asked.

"Miss Sidle indeed was here to make her statement on the casino-shooting," Catherine answered. "But she's left about an hour ago."

Good girl, the detective thought. Without having shared his plan with the strawberry blonde CSI, she was helping him get the younger woman out of the LVPD unnoticed.

Catherine looked over Blantic's shoulder and spotted Brass, who nodded and headed over.

"Mr. Blantic. It's good you're here. I have some questions for you," the detective started as he pointed down the hall, into the direction of the interrogation rooms. "So if you could please follow me."

"Sure," the tall man said as he headed for the room Brass pointed to. Meanwhile Brass indicated for Catherine to go to his office.

Blantic entered the interrogation room, Brass following behind closely. As the detective was sure the chief of personal security was seated in the room he told him he would be right back.

"If you could wait just a sec, I need to get the case file."

"Alright," Blantic answered calmly, though the detective noticed in the other man's eyes that he was busy trying to figure out what was going on.

Catherine entered Brass' office and wanted to speak up, but then saw that the brunette was on the phone.

"LFJ, yeah," Sara sighed into the phone, waiting for whoever was on the other side to look up who the car belonged to.

Catherine could vaguely hear a reply muttered through the phone and saw the brunette's face take on a very angry look.

"Thanks," the bodyguard growled before she slammed the phone back on the desk.

"Asshole!" she yelled as her left fist roughly connected with the table top. The stinging it caused made her immediately regret that she had lost her temper. Cradling her left hand in the other she slumped down in the chair behind the desk.

"Hey," the strawberry blonde carefully tried as she walked over to where the younger woman was seated. "What happened? Did you find out whose car it was?"

Sara merely nodded, not elaborating any further.

"You know," Catherine started. "I hate to sound like a broken record, but let me have a look."

"Huh?" The brunette's head snapped up and hazel eyes locked with concerned blue ones.

"Your hand," Catherine said as she gently took the bodyguard's left hand and examined it. "Flex your fingers," she ordered.

"Can't," Sara started. "Hurts."

Delicately, Catherine let her fingers slide over the brunette's palm. "Come on, try."

She carefully pushed the younger woman's fist open and noticed Sara twitch a little as she stretched her fingers. Without giving it a second thought, the strawberry blonde leaned down, pulled the palm towards her lips and placed a soft kiss on the injured hand.

Terrified she quickly dropped the brunette's hand. "I'm sorry," she muttered as she shyly stepped back and looked away. "It's just, with my daughter…"

"Hmm," Sara started, visibly calmed down. "And here I thought it was because you liked me."

"I do!" the strawberry blonde quipped –a little too quick, the CSI noticed as she saw the grin on the bodyguard's face. "But…I…" Catherine wasn't sure how to continue and suddenly found an interest in the recently polished floor of the detective's office.

"Hey," Sara said as she reached out for the older woman's arm. Blue eyes shot up to meet hers. The taller woman placed herself in front of Catherine, her hand still on the strawberry blonde's arm. "It's okay. Maybe, when this is all over we could-"

But before she could finish her question the door opened and a not so happy looking Brass entered.

"Catherine, I need you to…oh." He stopped as he noticed the intimate vibe the scene in front of him sent out.

Quickly, Sara stepped back, bumping into the wooden desk in the process. Scratching the back of her head she tried to compose herself. "You were saying?"

"Right," the man started. "Miss Willows here will accompany you to your hotel. There will be two undercover cops waiting for you outside. They will stay present at all time."

Sara realized they were only trying to help her out of this, and, despite the fact that she knew she'd be able to take care of herself, was glad for the support the detective and CSI gave her. She looked over at the older woman who was watching her expectantly and nodded her consent.

"Now," Brass spoke up again. "I'll try to stall Mr. Blantic as long as possible, grill him about the car that drove by."

Sara's head snapped in the detective's direction. "About that partial number plate…" she started. "I just called a friend of mine at DMV. Only one black Toyota popping up here in Vegas and…" she hesitated a second before she finished, "it's registered to Blantic, Pavel that is."

"Did you get a good look at the driver? Was he in the car?" Brass asked.

"Sorry, tainted glass. I can't really tell," Sara sighed, fatigue claiming all the energy of her body.

"Come on, think. Didn't you see him when the windows were down?" the detective pushed.

Sara searched her memory, her eyebrows in a frown as she tried to recall the drive-by. She hung her shoulders in defeat as she came up blank. She rubbed her hand across her forehead, feeling the dull thrum of a headache settling in.

"We'll deal with this further tomorrow," Catherine intervened. "Let's get you out of here."

And with that said she ushered both the brunette and the detective out of the office, Brass heading for the interrogation room and the two women towards the LVPD parking lot.

"How did you get here?" the strawberry blonde asked.

"I drove here," Sara quipped before she stifled a yawn. She pointed towards a deep blue, brand new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX.

"That is your car?" Catherine asked incredulously.

"Practically the only thing I took with me from Frisco," the brunette answered as she pulled the keys out of her pocket.

"Here," Sara said as she threw them to the older woman. "You drive. I'm way too tired to drive my baby."

"Baby?" Catherine grinned.

"Yes, baby. Now, if you would be so kind to drive me to my hotel," Sara said as she waited for the door to be unlocked.

"Yes ma'am," Catherine replied.

Within fifteen minutes Catherine had cruised them through traffic, and now they were at the hotel. The minute the women had arrived at the front entrance of the hotel, Sara had already spotted the undercover cops.

"Undercover my ass," she muttered.

"I know," Catherine spoke up as she turned and faced the tired-looking bodyguard. "You can always spot them from miles away."

"Yeah, like they have these friggin' neon arrows above their heads," Sara said frustrated.

"Hey, calm down," Catherine started as she reached over, placing her hand on the brunette's firm thigh. Her thumb started a circling gesture and she could feel the tension flee from the younger woman's body.

Sara looked down at where the strawberry blonde's hand was caressing her, pleasantly shocked by the wave of butterflies it sent through her stomach. As she looked up and locked eyes with Catherine she placed her own hand over the other woman's.

"Thank you, Miss Willows," she started. "For everything."

Catherine simply smiled and gave the brunette's thigh a little squeeze. "It's Catherine and you're welcome."

"Catherine," Sara whispered as she started to lean forward, towards the strawberry blonde's very inviting lips. But mere inches before their lips would touch, the bodyguard suddenly realized what she was about to do and pulled back.

"I'm sorry. I don't think this is such a good idea. I don't want to get you into this mess."

"If you're not going to kiss me, then I will," Catherine said as her hand reached up and cupped the brunette's cheek.

"Please, don't," Sara whispered, her breath already caressing the older woman's lips. "I can't let you in on this. Not now," she added.

"I'm an adult, I can make my own decisions. And it is my decision now to do…" the CSI answered, closing the remaining distance between them, and as her lips brushed across the bodyguard's she finished, "this."

She claimed Sara's lips in a soft, slow kiss. Her tongue traced along the bodyguard's bottom lip, earning her a moan that reverberated through her entire body. Soon the brunette took over control of the kiss, her hands finding their way into strawberry blonde tresses.

After a few minutes they broke off their kissing, foreheads resting against one another –Sara's hands running through Catherine's hair, Catherine's hand caressing Sara's cheek.

"You sure are persistent," Sara smiled as she found her equilibrium again.

"And you're a damn good kisser," the older woman smirked.

Sara suddenly noticed one of the undercover cops headed over to her car. "I think I should be getting inside," the brunette sighed as she let go of the strawberry blonde CSI.

"Yeah," Catherine replied as she reluctantly opened the car door and got out. "I'll see you tomorrow," the CSI said as she handed the brunette the keys.

"Right," Sara answered, her smile disappearing as reality caught up on her.

After seeing the strawberry blonde off in a cab, and convincing the undercover cop she could check her room by herself, the bodyguard finally was able to enter the hotel and go to her room.

With her hand resting on her gun she opened her room, flipping the lights on before stepping inside. Once she saw the living area was just as she had left it that morning she headed for her bedroom, then bathroom.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary and finally, forty-five minutes after she had arrived at the hotel, she was able to rest.

Not having much energy left in her system, Sara decided to head straight for bed, only stopping long enough to pull off her suit.

With her gun placed right beside her on the nightstand, the brunette relaxed as she slid under the covers. Her entire body ached, all her muscles were sore, and her head felt like it was about to explode.

As Sara closed her eyes she reached up and carefully examined the wound above her eye. As she felt the small band aid that covered the cut in her eyebrow her mind filled with thoughts about a certain strawberry blonde.

Catherine Willows.

The minute she had locked eyes with the CSI she could read those blue pools like an open book, and had been glad to see some of her own feelings mirrored in them.

Just as sleep was settling in there was loud banging on the door. "Sidle! Open up. I know you're there!"

Her eyes snapped open, her hand automatically reaching for her gun.

"Fuck," she whispered as she rapidly donned her suit pants and sneaked over to her bedroom door, opening it just so that she could see the front door.

The banging continued, and Jake Blantic's yelling became louder and louder. The bodyguard quickly grabbed her cell phone to dial 911. Just as she realized her phone had been broken during the drive-by shooting the door of her room flew open with a loud crash.

Blantic was raging as he stormed into the room, violently trashing all that was in his path.

Sara suddenly recalled she had another cell in one of the boxes she had brought along from San Francisco. Carefully she sneaked away and started to rummage through her belongings.

The minute she found her cell the bedroom door flung open and Blantic stepped in, gun drawn and pointed at the brunette's head.

"Drop your gun," the man ordered, not noticing the cell in her other hand.

As she did what the guy asked she punched in some numbers and quickly slid the phone into her pocket, then held up her hands in plain sight.

"What are you doing, Jake?" Sara asked as she started to stand up from her crouched position.

"DON'T MOVE!" the man thundered.

"I'm just going to stand," Sara stated calmly as she stretched to her full height.

Her years of training kicked in and she knew her chance of getting out of there unharmed depended on her keeping her calm. The phone in her pocket was her chance of survival, she needed to get as much information out of the chief of security as possible –hoping that the person at the emergency center would realize what was going on.

Suddenly the man lunged forward, grabbed hold of her, and started to pull her out of the bedroom.

"Where are you taking me, Blantic?" Sara asked as he pushed his gun into her back and led her out into the hall, towards the elevator.

"You'll find out soon enough," the man snapped. "Now, get in and shut up," he added as the doors of the elevator slid open.

Blantic pushed her inside and before the doors closed the bodyguard heard the cocking of a gun.

Just as she turned around a shot was fired, the sound echoing through the metal cage of the elevator. Everything in front of her eyes turned black as she fell backwards against the cold metal –the last thing she noticed was the dinging sound of the elevator's doors closing.


Chapter 3: Crap(s)

As she opened her eyes again, Sara tried to focus on her surroundings. Trying to sit up a pain shot through her right shoulder and her hand immediately flew up to where the stinging pain pierced through her body. Looking down she saw blood seeping through the strap of her white tank top, a small hole in the middle of the red mess.

Suddenly she heard the cracking of a door being opened and only then she finally took in her surroundings; one of Sam Braun's private security/interrogation rooms in the basement of his casino.

The darkness that had filled the room was replaced by a bright spotlight which was switched on and pointed at the brunette.

Sara squinted to see who had entered the room. The person hadn't spoken yet and the light disabled the wounded bodyguard from having a good look at her capturer. But as the person walked over to where she lay on the ground, stopped behind her and pulled her up and into a chair, she smelled a familiar, cheap cologne –especially cheap for someone that rich.

"Wh…wh," she tried, gasping for air as the pain in her body worsened. "What do you want from me, Stavcovic?" she was finally able to ask.

"You need to pay for your filthy deeds," the middle-aged man said calmly as he tied Sara's hand behind her back, causing another bolt of pain to shoot through the bodyguard's already severely battered body.

"What…what are you…talking about?" Sara asked as she tried to focus on staying conscious, ignoring the pain as much as possible. She could feel her cell still in her pocket and hoped the person on the other end was still listening.

"You corrupted my cousin."


"Ellie. Pavel's daughter. You didn't know that, did you?"

"Bl...Blantic's daugh-" Sara started.

"Yes," Stavcovic interrupted. "She took her mother's name, though. Surprise, surprise…she already was the family's scapegoat, but you took her on the wrong path completely. Luckily she was able to realize her mistake."

"I didn't…she," the bodyguard started again

"Save it, I don't care about what you have to tell. You were the one who pulled her into that...that…sickness, and you will pay," he spit out, his calm demeanor quickly vanished.

Throughout this revelation, Sara knew to keep her calm, if she wouldn't, she would only aggravate the man more. Her training had taught her to focus on survival, and so she knew she had to find a way to get the cops over to where she was held captive. The cell phone gave her some sort of advantage, now she only needed a way to trick him into spilling the beans.

Suddenly she knew she had him and thus, the bodyguard pulled out her trump card. "Why here? In Braun's casino?" –this would tip off the police where to look for her.

Now the only thing left on her mind was to hold on long enough to be found…

"Because he owes me," Stavcovic stated. "Plus, here in Vegas there are plenty of opportunities to make someone disappear," the man said, his hands making quotation marks in the air.

Meanwhile at the LVPD…

"Captain Brass?" a voice asked via the intercom.


"There's something wrong at the emergency center. They've asked for you," the lady from the front desk said.

"Alright, thanks," Brass started as he stood up and grabbed his phone. Dialing the emergency center's number he was soon connected to the shift supervisor.

"What's going on?" the detective asked while he reached for his cell.

"We received a strange phone call. No one talking to us directly, though from the conversation at the other end of the line we can make up there's something wrong. The call has been going on for about forty-five minutes now and-"

"And you just called me?"

"Sorry sir," the man started. "We just didn't know how to handle a call like-"

"Didn't know how to handle?!?" Brass questioned angrily. "You incompetent…" He held his tongue, swallowing the words he badly wanted to throw at that idiot's head.

As he dialed a certain CSI's number, he asked the shift supervisor to fill him in on everything that had occurred –already dreading the man's answer.

Just as he heard the man mention Sam Braun's casino, Catherine answered her phone.

"Catherine? Jim here. You need to get here right away," he stated.

"Why? What's wrong Jim?" she asked, but even before the detective could answer the strawberry blonde got a nagging feeling in the pit of her stomach. "It's Sara Sidle, isn't it?"

"Yes," Brass answered. "She's in big trouble." The man heard some muffled sounds coming from the other end, then a quickly muttered "I'm on my way" before the line went dead.

There was a knock at the door and another person entered the room. "The car's here," a hoarse voice said.

"Good," Stavcovic replied. "Let's go."

"Stand up," the millionaire said as he roughly pulled her from her chair. As Sara tried to stand on her feet, Stavcovic noticed something in her pocket.

"What's this?" he asked angrily as he fished the cell out of her pocket and held it out for the brunette to see.

"Crap," the bodyguard muttered.


Chapter 4: Call

As Catherine drove into the LVPD's parking lot Brass was already standing outside, waiting for the CSI's arrival. Pulling up in front of the detective she let him get in before turning the car and heading off again.

"Where to?" the strawberry blonde asked.

"Here," he said as he handed Catherine an earpiece. "The call's been connected to this." He held up a small black box. "And with the earpieces we can follow everything."

Catherine took the offered apparatus. "Did she mention anything about where she was?"

"Sam's casino," Brass answered. "But seems they'll soon be on the move. Heard something about a car being ready."

"Damn. Is she still there though?" Catherine asked as she had listened to the call, only hearing rustled noises.

Just as Brass was about to speak up they heard someone's voice again.

"What's this?"


A loud bang was the next sound that boomed through the earpiece, causing both Catherine and Brass to cringe. It appeared that the cell phone had been smashed into the wall, though still some crackling, muffled sounds were transmitted.

"What the-" Brass started, but was interrupted by the strawberry blonde CSI.

"Shhh," she muttered. "Listen."


"They're taking her to Hover Dam," Catherine said as she changed lanes, flipping on her red and blue flash lights, running a red light in the process.

"Catherine, slow down," Brass said as he reached for the overhead handle. "We need backup. We can't handle them with just the two of us."

Another loud bang was transmitted and the detective and CSI looked at each other fearing the worst. That had definitely been a gunshot.

"..capt... ss... Ca…rine," came the bodyguards pain-filled voice over the statics.

"Waiting, my ass," Catherine spit out as she took a sharp left.


Chapter 5: Raise

Everything was dark though the bodyguard was sure she'd just opened her eyes. The sounds surrounding her told her where she was. Combined with the motion she felt Sara knew she was in the trunk of a car –on her way to Hover Dam.

Her chance of escaping Stavcovic's plans was nonexistent at the moment. If the detective and CSI would have heard the call, they would have caught up with them already –the phone had been on for more than thirty minutes already before it was slammed into the wall.

Against better judgment the brunette hoped the phone hadn't been destroyed completely; that Brass and Catherine had heard her last scream for help.

Suddenly the vehicle stopped and Sara heard two persons step out of the car. The trunk was opened and though it was dark already, the badly injured bodyguard squinted as light fell on her face.

One of the guys she recognized being Blantic, the other person she didn't recall. As she was roughly pulled out of the trunk she noticed that besides her hands her feet were now also tied together, making it impossible for her to defend herself.

The two men both grabbed hold of her and carried her towards the depth of the dam.

They were only a few feet removed from the edge when suddenly headlights came out of nowhere, speeding towards them.

With screeching tires the dark Tahoe came to a halt right in front of them.

One of the men let Sara out of his grip, her legs falling to the ground.

"Stay where you are!" one of them yelled at the persons who'd just arrived.

Sara tried to look into the direction where the yell had come from, but the headlights prevented her from seeing who was there. She had to fight against the pain shooting through her entire body –the pain almost causing her to black-out again. Blantic pulled her upwards and in front of his body, using her as a human shield as he reached for his gun.

Please, let this all be over... was the only thought that filled the bodyguard's mind

"There's no way out, Blantic."

Sara was shaken out of her thoughts as the sound of that voice filled her ears.


"We'll see about that," Blantic responded, his drawn gun placed against the brunette's temple. Walking backwards he took Sara closer to the edge of the dam.

"Let her go," Brass said as he tentatively stepped closer, his gun also drawn and aimed at Blantic.

"I think it's time to say goodbye," the man said. He'd reached the spot where he could throw the battered bodyguard down the edge.

Sara, noticing that Catherine was sneaking closer and closer, gathered all the energy that was left in her body and tried to break free from the man's grip.

As she struggled to get loose a shot was fired…


Chapter 6: Bingo!

Sara felt how Blantic tugged at her shoulder, almost pulling her along. But with a last try she turned to face him and pried herself free from his grip. Just before she fell to her knees she saw Blantic stumble over the edge and into the dark depth.

Catherine had her gun still aimed at where Blantic had stood mere seconds ago. The bullet she'd fired had hit him in his shoulder and sent him tumbling backwards.

As she saw the badly injured bodyguard fall to the ground she quickly ran over. After reholstering her gun she kneeled down next to the brunette.

"Sara?" she asked as she tentatively reached out for the bodyguard's shoulder.

"I need…" Sara tried as she gasped for air. "Hosp…" She knew she'd already lost a lot of blood, plus the fact that she could hardly breathe told her that they needed to rush.

"Can you get up?" the strawberry blonde asked as she pushed strands of blood-caked hair out of the bodyguard's face, her hand lingering on Sara's cheek. "God, you feel so cold."

"I…can't," Sara replied, gasping for air after every word.

"Alright," Catherine started as she pulled off her jacket and covered the younger woman with it. "Hang on." She turned and yelled into the dark. "Brass!"

Half an hour later the badly injured bodyguard, the CSI, and detective arrived at Desert Palms Hospital -the brunette brought to the ER immediately.

Several doctors and nurses started to assess Sara's wounds -a gun shot wound in her shoulder, a concussion, tender ribs, several scrapes and bruises and a broken leg the outcome of their examinations.

Not once did Catherine leave the brunette out of sight, not wanting to let her alone for another second.

As a doctor was working on the cast on Sara's leg, Catherine was seated beside her bed, her hand holding onto the bodyguard's. Her thumb carefully caressed the back of Sara's hand as she looked at the tired expression on the bodyguard's face.

"Alright Ma'am," the doctor started as he finished the cast. "My job's done. Dr Jeffries will stop by in a few minutes. He'll tell you whether you have to stay the night."

"Thanks," Sara replied as she struggled to keep her eyes open. As the man walked out of the room Sara turned to face the strawberry blonde.

"Catherine," the brunette started as she urged the older woman to get closer.

"Yeah?" the CSI said as she stood up and leaned in.

"Could you do me a favor?"

Catherine looked questioningly at the hazel eyes in front of her, a worried feeling settling in the pit of her stomach. "Sure, what?"

"Could you please kiss me?" the brunette quipped.

The strawberry blonde smiled at the bodyguard's request, but immediately replied by carefully capturing Sara's lips with hers. Catherine's kiss was the best medicine the bodyguard got. Her entire body relaxed from Catherine's soft touch, the fatigue that held her captive dissipating gradually.

"Thank you," Sara smiled as the CSI backed away. "I so needed that."

"Me too," Catherine smiled as she reached out and cupped Sara's cheek. "I…I thought," the older woman started as her eyes filled with tears, several finding their path across her cheek. "I thought I'd never see you again."

"Well," Sara replied as she once again pulled Catherine close. "I sort of promised to take you on a date, so that I kept in mind the entire time." She claimed the strawberry blonde's lips in a short fierce kiss before continuing. "And as you can see it worked. Tough I couldn't have done it without you. You saved my life out there on that dam and I owe you, big time."

"You don't owe me anything," Catherine replied sincerely. "Except for that date," she added, smiling through tears. Both of the women were smiling now, their foreheads leaning against one another's as they were staring into each other's eyes.

A few minutes later Brass, who had been taking care of things (making sure the scene would be processed, Sam Braun would be brought in for questioning and an APB would be sent out for both Pavel Blantic and Vlad Stavcovic), walked into the room.

"How are you feeling, Miss Sidle?" the Captain asked.

Not taking her eyes off of the sapphire ones staring at her intently, the bodyguard spoke up. "Fine, as long as I ignore the pain in my head, shoulder and ribs." She then turned to face the detective. "Thank you for saving me." Turning back to Catherine she added, "Both of you."

"You did most of it yourself. Smart thinking, Miss Sidle," Brass replied, a small smirk curling the corners of his mouth.

"Sara, please," the brunette huffed as she gasped for air.

"Sara," Brass nodded as he reached for his pager. Looking at the small screen he spoke up again -a stern look on his face. "Sam Braun is at the PD for interrogation. So I gotta go."

Turning his attention to the bodyguard he carefully patted her good leg and added, "I'll see you soon."

Sara merely nodded as sleep was now inevitably forcing its way into her system. Brass motioned Catherine to follow him and together they exited the room, standing just outside and both looking at the sleeping brunette.

"I think I already know the answer, but still," Brass started. "Do you want to come along for a little Vegas inquisition?"

"I'd rather stay here if you can handle things down at the PD," Catherine replied, her eyes trained on Sara's steady breathing.

"That's what I thought," Brass said as he smiled a little. "Good, you keep a close eye on her. I'll send two uniforms to stand outside her room."

"You think that's really necessary?"

"Considering Stavcovic is still out there, yes," Brass said as they were still watching Sara, who became restless and started to stir in her sleep. The detective nudged the strawberry blonde's shoulder. "You'd better get back in there."

Catherine nodded and headed back in. Back to the spot right next to the brunette's bed. Back to holding her hand.


Chapter 7: No More Bets

Dr. Jeffries had stopped by minutes after Brass'd left and he informed them that Sara had to stay for observation that night and that if things were alright in the morning she would be released.

And so, Catherine stayed at the hospital -at the bodyguard's side the entire time- only stepping out of the room to call her sister Nancy to inform her she'd not be able to bring Lindsey to school in the morning.

Sara had a fit-full sleep. Besides the obligatory waking by a nurse every other hour she would shoot upright in her bed almost every hour, drenched in sweat, pain coursing through her body.

Everything that had happened to her came back to haunt her as soon as she closed her eyes.

Fortunately for her, a certain strawberry blonde CSI stayed at her side, calming and comforting her.

It was around 4 a.m. when a nurse came to check on Sara. As she woke the brunette, Catherine, who'd fallen asleep on the very uncomfortable chair, also sat back up, stretching her arms and legs.

"Alright," the nurse said as she quickly noted something down on Sara's chart. "Last check'll be round 6."

The nurse gave Catherine a short nod, then walked off, continuing her nightly round.

The strawberry blonde stood beside the brunette, looking down into hazel eyes which seemed to capture her each time she looked at them.

"Hey," Sara started as she raised her arm, her hand reaching for the CSI's.

"Hi," Catherine smiled. She entwined their fingers and bent down to place a lingering kiss on the bodyguard's fingers. The simple, soft caress of Catherine's lips caused Sara's eyes to flutter closed as her stomach started doing leaps.

The younger woman sighed as she opened her eyes again and noticed the look on Catherine's face. Though the strawberry blonde looked very tired with her sleep-filled eyes, disheveled hair, and creased clothes she'd never looked more beautiful to Sara than at that moment.

The bodyguard was grateful that Catherine had stayed with her, but she suddenly felt selfish just because of that.

She hadn't thought about it before…


Catherine probably wanted to go home to her daughter.

Suddenly avoiding the CSI's sapphire eyes she spoke up again, "You should go home, get some sleep…in a comfortable bed. I'll be alright."

Catherine raised an eyebrow. "You're not serious, are you?"

Sara didn't respond.

"You really think I'm going to let you out of my sight? After all that happened to you?" Catherine asked incredulously.

Sara still avoided the strawberry blonde's eyes, looking at their entwined fingers. "Shouldn't you be with your daughter?"

"She's in good hands, she's staying at my sister's. No need to worry about her. There's someone else who needs me now," Catherine said as she cupped the bodyguard's chin and forced her to look at her.

"Listen carefully. My daughter is very important to me, and most of the times she comes first. However there are exceptions. And you," the older woman said as she leaned closer to Sara's face. "Are the very first exception I'm going to make. I'm not going anywhere."

Before Sara could reply Catherine claimed her lips, hoping to convey how much she meant what she'd just said.

Meanwhile at the PD…

Brass was sitting in his office, drinking his umpteenth cup of coffee while reading through the files of the kidnapping and attempted murder of the bodyguard.

Sam Braun didn't give him much information at first. Not that the detective had thought the hotshot casino owner would help the investigation in any way.

But when the Captain got a phone call from Grissom, and Braun overheard the conversation, his attitude changed.

"Excuse me," Brass said as his phone started to ring. He stood up and took a few paces away from the table where Sam Braun was seated.


"Yes, I know."

"Maybe. How about her apartment?"


"I'll make sure Archie gets a copy of the call."

"Catherine...She's still at the hospital."

All the while Brass had watched Braun. The man's posture didn't show a hint of tension, nor interest in the interrogation or the conversation Brass was having on the phone whatsoever.

Until the name of a certain strawberry blonde CSI was mentioned…

The casino owner sat up straight, straining his ears to catch everything that was said.

"Alright. I'll meet you in an hour." The detective put his cell away and walked back to the table.

"I didn't know there was an officer down," Sam Braun started, keeping his cool and feigning uninterest.

"There isn't," Brass replied. "Then again, what has that got to do with you?"

Sam Braun didn't answer the detective. Ignoring the question he spoke up, "Listen, I don't even know this Stavcovic. He paid big money for a room at my casino and a car. As long as people pay I don't ask about their business. Now, if you don't have anything else," Sam said as he stood up.

"Actually," Brass said as he held up his hand, motioning Braun back to his seat. "I'm not completely done yet. How about Blantic?"

"Who?" Braun asked, a look of surprise on his face.

"Your head of security," Brass quipped.

"You mean Banting, Jake," the casino owner said.

"Wrong. I thought that especially a person like you would thoroughly screen the people you hire for personal security," Brass said. "Jake Blantic has…well, had connections with Stavcovic and this here," the detective spoke as he opened a file and threw it in front of Braun, "is a little note we found in the car Blantic used. It has details about the security system and vault of your casino."

"What?!" Braun practically yelled as he nearly lost his cool.

"They were planning to rob your vault," Brass smirked.

"That son of a b-"

"You still don't have anything to tell about Stavcovic?"

It took some time, but Brass had been able to get Braun to share some of the things he knew about Stavcovic. Now he at least had an idea where to look for the millionaire.

Sam Braun stood after he'd told the detective about Stavcovic's last whereabouts. His entire demeanor had changed during the conversation with Brass. Walking over to the detective he extended his hand for Brass to shake. "I hope you'll keep me posted on this, especially on things concerning my casino."

A bit surprised Brass let go of the other man's hand. "I sure will."

"Good. Now," he added as he reached into his jacket. "Here's my card, you can reach me at this number anytime."

"Geeh, thanks," Brass huffed, still thrown off by the casino owner's behavior.[/I]

After Braun's questioning Brass had retreated himself to his office for some quiet time. And so, he sat there, reading the file, another cup emptied of its coffee. He would meet Grissom in half an hour at the CSI HQ to go over some of the evidence they'd found.

Suddenly there was a knock at the door.


"Sir," a uniformed cop came walking in. "Here's the file you asked for," the young woman said as she handed it to the detective.

"Thank you, Denver."

"Sir, can I ask you something," the cop asked.

"That depends on what it's about, Denver," Brass said as he perused through the papers.

"I'd like to help you with this case."

"And why is that?" Brass asked, still not taking his eyes off of the sheets.

"Because I know how to find Mr. Stavcovic."

That got his attention…

Brass' head shot up and he met brown eyes staring at him intently. "You do?"

"Yes," the young woman replied.

"Close the door and take a seat," Brass said sternly.


Chapter 8: Wheel of Fortune

The cop did as she was told and took a seat in a chair opposite the detective. Brass leaned forward on his elbows. "How do you know him?"

"I worked for him, a few years ago. Right before I went to the academy. I needed some cash, his cleaning staff had a vacancy. I also met Miss Sidle there. I'm sorry to hear what happened to her."

"She's going to be alright, she's in good hands now," Brass said as he remembered the way Catherine had looked at the battered bodyguard. "Now, about that way how to find that bastard."

"Well," Denver started. "When I worked for him, I noticed certain particularities. For instance, his very strict daily routine."

"As in?" Brass inquired.

"As in getting up at 6.30, swim for half an hour, breakfast at 7.30, work in his office from 8.30 till noon. Lunch at 12.30, business meetings from 2 till 5. Then off to his private gym till 6.30. Dinner at 7. Do I need to continue?"

"No," Brass smirked. "And you know all these details because?"

"He did the same thing every damn day…even during the weekends," the dark-haired woman sighed. "Trust me, that guy suffers from a bad case of OCD, there's no way he'd change anything about that."

"But he's not at his own villa right now, he's somewhere here in Vegas. How do you know where to find him when he's not in his normal surrounding?"

"Well," Denver smirked. "I know that when he stays in Vegas he always stays at the Bellagio. He has his own suite there."

"Then how come that APB is still out? Why didn't we know this?" Brass asked as he got a little frustrated.

"Because he uses his 'American' name when going on a trip," the Latina cop said, her hands making quotation marks in the air.

"Like Blantic?"

Denver nodded. "Yes, Vlad Stavcovic became Victor Stevens once he left his city for 'business'."

"For a cleaning lady you sure did a thorough job," Brass smirked.

"Thank you," Denver smiled broadly.

After a moment of thought Brass spoke up again. "Alright, you're coming with me," he said as he stood up and together they headed down the halls of the PD.

Sara sighed, relief washing all over her. Dr. Jeffries had just checked on her and was now signing her chart.

"You can go home, though you'll still need to take it easy. Get plenty of rest and give your body time to heal."

"Yes Sir," Sara replied as she smiled at the doctor -her mind already thinking of what she'd do once she got home.

Turning to the strawberry blonde who was seated beside the bed, the man continued. "I'm sure you'll help her out the first couple of days and keep an eye on her."

"Of course," Catherine smiled as she reached for Sara's hand and entwined their fingers.

"Alright. Well, I'll see you again in two weeks," Dr. Jeffries said as he shook hands with both of the women, then left the room.

Sara tugged at Catherine's hand, urging her closer. "I'm glad to get out of here and go home. Sleep in my own bed." She smiled as she pulled the older woman even closer -the scent of vanilla filling her nostrils.

"No you're not," Catherine replied sternly.

Sara tensed. "I'm not?"

Catherine backed away and locked her eyes on dark hazel ones staring at her confusedly.

"I am taking you home. To my place."

Just as the bodyguard was about to protest there was a knock at the door. Catherine took a step back as both of them turned their heads towards the door.

The door opened and Sam Braun took a few tentative steps inside.

The look on Sara's face turned ice cold. "You're not welcome here," she sneered.

"I'm sorry about what happened, Miss Sidle," the casino owner said as he took another step towards the bodyguard's bed.

"I don't need your pity. Please leave."

"I didn't know about Banting's hidden agenda," Sam continued, ignoring the brunette's words.

"Blantic," Sara snapped. "He was your chief of personal security. My ass you didn't know about his plans," she spat out as she pointed at her former boss. No way I'm gonna work for him any longer. "Get out, or I'll have you escorted out."

"He wanted to nail me as well," Braun started again.

Catherine noticed the angry and tired look on her love's face and walked over to the casino hotshot, stepping in between him and Sara's bed. "You heard her. Get out."

"Muggs, please," Sam started as he reached out for the strawberry blonde.

Catherine backed away from his touch. "Don't you 'Muggs' me. Leave," Catherine seethed.

"If there's anything you need, please call me," the man said as he looked at Sara while handing Catherine a business card.

He turned to leave the room, but before he walked out he turned back and spoke up once more. "I'm glad to see you're alright."

Both Sara and Catherine were surprised by the gray-haired man's words. They hadn't been directed at the bodyguard, but at the CSI.

As the door closed, Sara was the first to speak up. "What was that about?"

"Beats me," Catherine replied as she walked back to Sara's side.

"I don't trust him. He must-"

"Hush, don't tire yourself with anger. We'll talk about him later. Now, let's get you into some clothes and head out of here."

Sara wanted to finally protest to the strawberry blonde's decision, but before she could utter even one syllable an index finger was placed across her lips.

"No arguing about this. You're coming with me and that's final."

"Fine," Sara muttered before she pulled Catherine close and claimed her lips.

"As for clothes," Sara started as she broke off the kiss. "I think I might have a problem. This is all I've got here," she finished as she plucked at the hospital gown.

"Already been taken care of," Catherine smiled before she gave Sara a quick kiss and walked over to the chair on the other side of the bed, reaching for something underneath.

"I asked a nurse for some scrubs," the older woman said as she threw the green shirt and pants to Sara. "At least that'll be a bit more comfortable than that gown. We'll make a stop at your place to get some of your stuff."

Sara carefully swung her legs over the edge of the bed and grabbed the clothes.

"You need any help with that?" Catherine inquired as she stepped in between the brunette's legs, letting her fingers trail along Sara's jaw, down her neck and across her chest.

Captain Jim Brass and Officer Reese Denver were seated in the Captain's Taurus in front of a small diner. They had already spotted Vlad Stavcovic inside, sitting at a table, another man opposite him. They seemed to be in a heated discussion.

"So how did you know he'd be here?" the Captain asked.

"I'd seen him yesterday and the day before…on my coffee break," Reese replied as she started to unbutton her sand-colored uniform blouse.

Brass' eyebrows shot up as he noticed the young woman's movements. "What are you doing?"

"I'm gonna get us some coffee," Reese smiled as she threw the blouse to the backseat then proceeding with her holster, carefully placing her gun on the dashboard.

After she'd rid herself of most of her 'cop' appearance she reached for her leather jacket that lay on the backseat. As she got out of she reached for her gun again, putting it in the hem of her pants, hanging her jacket over it.

"You can't go in there," Brass quipped. "He'll recognize you!"

"Don't worry," Reese smirked as she pulled a baseball cap out of her jacket. "Last time he saw me I was a platinum blonde," the now jet black-haired cop said before closing the door.

Shaking his head at the young woman's actions, Brass followed her every move as she entered the diner.

Catherine was pushing a wheelchair into the room. "Your chariot awaits, madam," the strawberry blonde said as she stopped beside the bodyguard's bed.

Holding out her hand for support she helped Sara into the wheelchair.

"Thanks," Sara said as she placed her feet onto the supports.

Catherine leaned down, her breath teasing the bodyguard's ear. "You're welcome," she hushed.

A shiver ran through Sara's body, the soft kiss on her cheek remembering her body of how 'helpful' the older woman had been as she had to change into the scrubs.

"Let's get going," Catherine said as she turned the wheelchair around and headed out.

After helping the bodyguard into her car and placing the wheelchair in the back, Catherine climbed in as well and together they headed off, first stop being Sara's place.

Reese walked over to the counter, ordering two coffees to go. Sitting down, she positioned herself so that she could catch some of the conversation between the millionaire and his companion.

"That bitch killed Jake. You shouldn't have let him take care of that sick woman."

"Paul, you know the deal. Jake knew the deal. Too bad he didn't know how to handle things. Too bad he wasn't as apt as I thought," Stavcovic replied indifferently. "That woman is dead, I presume?"

"Haven't you heard?" Pavel Blantic looked at the gray-haired man incredulously.

The millionaire shook his head.

"Sidle is at the hospital," he spat out. "Saved by that blonde bitch."

Stavcovic was silent, contemplating how to proceed with his plans.

Reese, still waiting for her coffee, listened attentively to the two men, shifting a little in her seat to get a glimpse of them.

"Paul," Stavcovic spoke up after a few minutes of silence. "You know what needs to be done."

Blantic merely nodded.

"Meet me at the casino in two hours. I'll take care of Mr. Braun. You settle things with Sidle." After he'd thrown some cash on the table he stood up and walked out of the diner.

Reese watched the millionaire leave, soon followed by Blantic. Just as she stood to head back out to Brass, her coffees were placed in front of her. Quickly paying the woman the money she owed her, the young cop grabbed the paper cups and practically ran out.

As she stepped into the Captain's Taurus she was met with a questioning look. "And?" Brass asked as he took the offered coffee. "Where are they off to?"

"Start the car. Head for the hospital. I think Blantic is going after Miss Sidle."

"But Blantic is dead."

"Jake, yes," Reese nodded. "But Paul isn't."



"Ah, right," Brass replied. He pulled out of the parking spot and into the morning traffic. Handing the young cop his cell he continued. "Call Willows, put her on speaker. I'll tell her we're headed over, then you can tell us everything you heard of that conversation."

"Yes Sir."

Catherine had just wheeled Sara into the elevator at the bodyguard's apartment building when her cell rang.

"Willows," she replied as she pushed the button for the third floor.

"Catherine, Jim here. Listen, we're on our way to the hospital. You need to stay where you are. Don't let Sara out of your sight. I'll make sure-"

"Whoa, what are you talking about? We're not at the hospital anymore, Sara was released this morning."

"Good," Brass replied. "Where are you now?"

"At Sara's. We're grabbing some of her clothes and stuff, then we're going to my place."

"Alright. Go there a.s.a.p. We'll meet you there."

"Hang on, who's we? What's going on?"

Sara looked over her shoulder up to the strawberry blonde, mouthing a silent 'What's wrong?'

Catherine shrugged.

Brass replied, "I mean Officer Denver and me."

"Denver?" Catherine repeated.

Sara's eyebrow shot up at hearing that name. "Reese?" she quietly asked. Again, the CSI shrugged.

"Officer Reese Denver overheard Stavcovic and Blantic, Pavel, that is," Brass said as he motioned for Reese to tell what exactly she'd heard.

"It is Reese Denver. Do you know him?" Catherine asked as she pushed the receiver onto her shoulder.

"Her. Yes," Sara replied. "She worked for Stavcovic back in Frisco."

Catherine nodded as she put her cell back at her ear.

"Miss Willows? This is Reese Denver. Is Miss Sidle listening as well? She too needs to know this."

"One moment," Catherine replied before she pushed her cell back on her shoulder, pushing the wheelchair one-handedly out of the elevator.

After Sara opened her apartment door and Catherine pushed her inside, the strawberry blonde put her cell on hands-free and placed it on the coffee table.

"Reese?" the bodyguard asked. "So you made it through the academy?"

"Yes Ma'am," the young woman replied, pride tangible in her voice.

"So, what's going on with Stavcovic and Blantic?" Catherine started.

"Well," Reese said. "Stavcovic and Blantic were talking about Jake's…failed attempt. Stavcovic ordered Pavel to…take care of business. He gave him two hours. After that, at 11 a.m. they're to meet at Sam Braun's casino."

"Jake, probably ordered by Stavcovic, was planning to rob his vault," Brass added.


Chapter 9: Final Round

Catherine immediately reacted by snapping open her holster, her hand resting on her gun. Sara motioned Catherine to stay where she was. As she wheeled over to the door, there was another heavy pounding.

"Who's there?" the bodyguard asked as she unlocked the drawer of the small table next to the door, taking out her Glock, clicking the safety off.

"Miss Sidle?" a dark voice asked.

Sara frowned. She recognized that voice. Her mind started to search for the face that belonged to that voice, and the second time the person spoke up one person's image formed…

Pavel Blantic.

"Miss Sidle. I'm the new super. I'd like to…"

Sara turned to Catherine and, while pointing to the door, mouthed, "Pavel Blantic."

Catherine nodded as she reached for her cell phone and walked further into the room, away from the door and away from the younger woman -her eyes never leaving the brunette.

"Hang on," Sara muttered as she pushed herself up out of her wheelchair. After wobbling a bit on her plastered leg, she took a steady stance in front of the door and raised her gun, index-finger already placed on the trigger.

Meanwhile Catherine quietly informed Brass and Denver about the situation, the detective telling her they'd be there in five minutes and ordering them to stay put.

"I don't think we'll be able to keep him out there much longer," Catherine whispered as she watched the bodyguard aiming her gun at the door. Suddenly she noticed Sara was about to open the door. "I've got to hang up now, get here. Hurry," the strawberry blonde said before she snapped the cell phone closed, threw it on the couch, and headed for where Sara was standing, her gun now drawn as well.

Brass flicked on his red and blue lights and sped over to the brunette's apartment building. They were only a few blocks away, but traffic that morning crowded the roads and he had to put in a lot of effort to zigzag through the cars without hitting anyone or anything.

"How did that fucking bastard already find out she wasn't at the hospital anymore?" Brass quipped as he sped through a red light.

Reese, who was holding on for her dear life, looked over at the Captain. "He probably had one of his men in or near the hospital, keeping an eye on Miss Sidle."

"Call for back up. We won't wait for them, but we're probably gonna need them," Brass said sternly.

"Yes Sir," Denver replied as she reached for the radio and called dispatch for the needed back up.

Sara felt the adrenaline course through her body. She knew she wouldn't be able to keep him out of her apartment so opening the door seemed the most logic thing to do. That way she would be the one in control in stead of having to wait for Blantic's move.

Her training had taught her that you should always try to get the upper hand in each situation. So, when the bodyguard noticed Catherine approaching with a drawn gun as well, she had to smirk a little. Blantic was in for a big surprise.

"Miss Sidle?" Blantic said again. "I need to-"

But before he could finish his sentence Sara threw the door open.

Though Blantic was very surprised to see two women pointing their guns at him, he had his own gun in his hand as well. As he was about to raise it and aim at the brunette, Catherine cocked her gun.

"Don't move. Slowly put the gun down," the strawberry blonde said, a stern look on her face, her eyes not once leaving Blantic.

Pavel wasn't impressed by the CSI's words and the guns pointed at him seemed to have no effect on him whatsoever. Instead of doing what he was asked he stretched his arm out, the gun aimed at the brunette's chest.

"Put the gun down!" Catherine growled again. She could feel anger build up inside of her, but knew she had to keep her calm in order to be able to control this situation.

Sara tried to step forward, but because of her cast she was unsteady on her feet and almost fell. Catherine noticed the younger woman threatened to fall into the man and quickly reached out for her, preventing the collision.

But though she was able to keep Sara on her feet, Blantic took that opportunity to step forward and plant his gun against the bodyguard's head. "Drop the gun," the man ordered. Sara complied by throwing her Glock on the ground, out of Pavel's reach.

"Seems to me you're the one who should put the gun down, bitch," Blantic said as he pulled Sara out of Catherine's grasp.

Brass hadn't even completely stopped in front of the bodyguard's apartment building as Reese already got out of the car and sprinted inside, her gun already drawn.

"312, right?" the young woman yelled over her shoulder as she entered the main hall.

"Yes!" she heard Brass reply from a few steps behind her.

The cop headed for the stairs and started on the six flights of stairs, taking two steps at a time. Brass had to choose between two evils. Take the stairs and be out of breath before he'd reach Sara's door, or wait for the elevator. The choice was already made for him as the elevator door slid open in front of him.

The ride up seemed to take hours, though in two minutes the elevator had reached Sara's floor, a loud ding indicating that the doors would open.

Unfortunately the sound of the arriving elevator also alarmed Blantic who pulled Sara closer and stepped back into the hallway. With his gun still firmly pressed against the brunette's temple he looked from Catherine to Brass.

"Lose that gun, Detective," Pavel grunted through clasped teeth.

"Don't listen to him," Sara replied. She knew that if Brass would listen to him her chance of survival would be nil.

Brass didn't comply with the man's words and kept his gun aimed at his head. "Let go of her, Pavel. You don't want to end up like your brother, do you?" He took a careful step towards them.

"Don't move," Blantic yelled as he loosened his grip on the brunette and pointed his gun at the Captain.

"You can't get out of here unnoticed, Blantic. Back up's here," Catherine said as she tried to get the man's attention.

Though he seemed calm, Pavel became very nervous, the small tremor in his hand the only noticeable sign. Back and forth he pointed the gun first at Catherine, then at Brass.

"Let go of Miss Sidle," Brass spoke up.

"Drop the gun," the strawberry blonde immediately followed.

"Shut up!" Blantic said. "If you don't shut up I'll kill her, I swear." To emphasize his words he placed the gun back at the bodyguard's temple.

While Blantic was busy trying to get control over both Catherine as well as Brass, Sara had caught movement in the corner of her eye.


Sneaking another glance she noticed Reese motion for her to E 'n' D, elbow and duck, a thing Sara had taught the young woman. (While they had both worked for Stavcovic, Sara had also taught some self-defense classes, and Reese had been one of her most fanatic students.)

Sara looked at Catherine, trying to get the strawberry blonde's attention without Blantic noticing. Fortunately, Brass got his full attention by taking another step towards him.

The bodyguard didn't utter one syllable, but Catherine understood she had something planned and gave a little nod before taking a step back into the apartment.

Blantic again aimed his gun at the Captain and at that moment Sara elbowed him in the ribs, effectively freeing herself from his grasp as he collapsed. The bodyguard threw herself forward, into her apartment.

At that moment Reese stepped out of her hiding place and fired a round. The bullet hit the man in his right shoulder, his gun falling to the ground. The look on Blantic's face the moment the bullet struck was one of surprise.

Catherine, who had thrown herself on top of Sara, looked up and noticed the look on his face. The surprise made place for anger. He seemed confused as to where the bullet had come from and as he spotted Catherine watching him he was about to reach for his gun again.

"Don't move!" the young cop said as she stepped closer.

As he turned his head into the direction of Reese, Brass walked over, kicking away the man's gun. With Reese still aiming her gun at Pavel, Brass holstered his gun and reached for his handcuffs. The Captain roughly pulled the man back onto his feet, then grabbed first his left arm, then his right, ignoring the grunts of pain as he put the handcuffs on.

Her gun still pointed at Blantic, Reese looked through the doorway and saw the two women lying in each other's arms. They both appeared to be unharmed. The thumbs up she got from the bodyguard reassuring her, and so she started to read the wounded man his rights as they started off down the hallway towards the elevator.

Back in Sara's apartment, Catherine and Sara were still both on the ground -the strawberry blonde still on top of the brunette.

"Are you alright?" Sara asked as she pushed a lock of hair behind the older woman's ear.

"Shouldn't I be the one asking that question?" Catherine replied as she braced herself, pushing herself up and off of the bodyguard.

But before she could get up, Sara pulled her back down, needing the close contact of Catherine at that moment. Blue sparkling eyes focussed on her dark hazel ones as the bodyguard placed her hand at the back of Catherine's head, closing the last gap between them and engaging their lips in a fierce kiss.

"Nice job back there," Brass said to Reese as they reached the patrol car and ambulance that had just arrived.

"Thank you, Sir." The young woman beamed, proud of how she'd been able to end the dangerous situation.

"But we're not done yet," Reese continued as they handed Pavel Blantic over to the paramedics, the two police officers who'd just arrived waiting at their side.

"Everybody else alright?" one of the paramedics asked.

"I'm not sure," Brass started.

"They're alright," Reese said, smirking at the Captain.

The look on the young woman's face didn't go unnoticed. "You think we should check on them?" he asked, one eyebrow raised and an equal smile firmly settled on his lips.

"That won't be necessary," a familiar voice said from behind.

Both Reese and Brass turned to face the two women. Sara was walking with the strawberry blonde's arm wrapped around her waist for support.

"Glad to see you two are okay," Brass smiled.

"Yeah," Catherine replied. "And we're glad you two showed up. Your timing was perfect."

"As always," Brass kidded.

Reese stepped over to Sara. "It's good to see you again," she started as she held out her hand. "Unfortunately the circumstances weren't…" she trailed off.

"Well, officer Denver," Sara replied, "forgetting the circumstances for a moment, it sure is good to see you again." She ignored the younger woman's hand and pulled her into a friendly hug. "I knew you'd make it," she whispered into Reese's ear.

The young woman smiled at her as she pulled back. "Thank you, Ma'am."

"If you every call me that again…" Sara threatened mockingly. "It's Sara, got that?"

"Yes Ma- Sara."

Sara stepped back to the strawberry blonde CSI, putting her arm around Catherine's waist, both for support and -of course- the need of having the older woman close by. "This is CSI Catherine Willows. Catherine, Reese Denver."

"Sorry to interrupt," Brass said, "but we need to get going. Stavcovic is still planning to rob Sam Braun."

Reese nodded. "Yes, we should be on our way."

They started off to Brass' Taurus. The bodyguard looked into sapphire eyes -no words were needed. As Catherine nodded, Sara spoke up, "Hang on. You two don't think you're going without us, are you?" They walked over to the Captain's car as well.

"I don't think that's a go-" Reese tried to say.

Brass noticed the determined look in both of the women's eyes and interrupted the officer. "No use to say no, Denver."

"But Sir, they'll-"

"No we won't," Catherine quipped as she opened the car door and helped the bodyguard get inside.

As they all got in the car the Captain spoke up. "Alright, you know the deal," he said to the strawberry blonde.

"Yes Sir," Catherine replied, earning her a smirk from the brunette.

Reese, wondering about the easy banter between all of them, let out a sigh, buckled up, and focused on the new job at hand.


Chapter 10: Game Over

With Pavel Blantic taken care of, the only threat left was Vlad Stavcovic himself. Due to Reese's eavesdropping they knew Sam Braun's casino would be the place where they'd find the middle-aged millionaire.

"Once we get there the two of you stay in the car," Brass said as he locked eyes with the strawberry blonde via the rearview mirror.

"I'm more use out there with you," Catherine quipped.

"No, Catherine. Officer Denver and I will go in and see what's going on. For all we know Stavcovic is still waiting for Blantic to arrive."

"Jim, I can help. I've known Sam for-"

"No," Brass interrupted. As he stopped the car for a traffic light he turned in his seat to face the strawberry blonde. "You're a CSI, not a trained police officer. I can't risk having you out there."

With that said the Captain turned back and put the car in motion again, the casino only five minutes away.

Catherine felt frustrated; though there was a certain truth in Brass' words, she wanted to help nail the bastard who'd hurt her friend. Well, more than just friend, Catherine thought as she looked over at the brunette.

Sara smiled a little as her eyes met sapphire ones. She noticed how Catherine was feeling, she was feeling the same way. She reached over and took the older woman's hand, entwining their fingers and pulling her closer.

"I think we've done enough," Sara said quietly. The event taking its toll on her body -a dull ache continuously present.

"I guess." Catherine sighed as she leaned her head against the bodyguard's shoulder. "But I feel so…"

"Useless. I do too. But Captain Brass is right. He and Reese are trained for this."

Catherine leaned up and placed a chaste kiss on Sara's cheek. "You're right."

Reese smirked as she noticed the incredulous look on Brass' face as the strawberry blonde's words registered. Never had the detective known the CSI to give in that easily.

"Maybe we can give Mr. Braun a heads up," Reese said. "Let him know we're coming?"

"Good idea," Brass replied.

"I'll call him," Catherine replied as she reached into her pocket and pulled out her cell as well as the casino owner's business card.

"Sam, it's Catherine."

"Muggs. Is something wrong? Is there something you need?" the casino hotshot asked.

"Yes. I need you to listen carefully. Raise the casino's security level to max."

"Why? What's going on?"

"Stavcovic is on his way to settle some business with you."

"He's already here. His limousine just arrived."

"Go to the security room and stay there till we get there," Catherine ordered.

"I'll get Franklin to escort him out," the man replied.

"No. Don't. We'll handle him once we're there…which will be in about five more minutes."

"I cannot have that man ruin my business. I'll see what I can do."

"Sam, please listen to me," the strawberry blonde sighed into her cell phone.

"Take care Muggs. I'll see you soon." With that said the casino owner hung up. Catherine snapped her cell shut. She pinched the bridge of her nose as she felt Sara's hand on her thigh.

"Stubborn," Catherine muttered.

"Just like someone else I know." The brunette smiled as she gave the older woman's thigh a squeeze, receiving a mock-glare from Catherine.

"Yeah and I know another person to add to that list," Reese sniggered, soon joined by Brass.

"What was that?" Sara inquired, one eyebrow raised and a look on her face that clearly stated she'd heard Reese's words very well.

"Oh…nothing," Reese replied, winking to Brass. "Really nothing at all."

"That's what I thought," the bodyguard said, a smug smile on her face.

"Stubborn," Brass whispered, nodding his agreement to the young officer.

"So, how do you actually know Mr. Braun?" the brunette asked as she focused her attention on the strawberry blonde sitting next to her.

"We go a long way back. He and my mother were friends," Catherine answered.


"They lost touch, haven't seen each other for years…Though, my sister, Nancy, told me he'd recently sent her a letter…"

The CSI's words were interrupted as they came in view of the casino.

"Shit. Call for backup," Brass ordered Reese as they drove up to the casino's entrance.

All heads turned to where Brass's eyes were glued to. The doors swung open and people were running out, complete panic and chaos taking over the normally calm and relaxed guests.

Both Brass and Reese were out of the car in no time, guns drawn and running into the lobby.

As they got to the reception area they were met by two camps of aimed guns. At one end of the room Stavcovic accompanied by three men were taking refuge, at the other end –behind the reception desk- were Sam Braun, one of his personal bodyguards and one of the casino's security guards –a second lying motionless in front of the desk, blood oozing from the left side of the man's chest.

Reese and Brass had the advantage of being unnoticed by the millionaire while Braun had been told about their arrival.

The bodyguard noticed Brass, and as the Captain motioned he'd try to circle around them, he gave a short nod. Reese watched Brass signaling her to try and get to the other side of the room. That way she'd position herself between doors leading to the casino's large gambling room and the reception desk, giving her a clear view of Stavcovic.

Just as she started to move towards said place, the doors leading to the gambling room opened and an employee walked in – not knowing about the situation in the lobby.

The woman's eyes practically bulged out of their sockets as she saw a gun pointed at her. She froze where she stood, right in the line of fire.

Reese knew she'd have to act quickly and so she got out of her hiding place, sprinted over and threw her arm around the blonde's waist, pulling her along behind a large green plant.

"Are you alright?" Reese asked as she seated the woman behind the shelter of the green leaves.

"Yeah…yes," was the blonde's shaky reply. Their eyes met for only a second, but Reese knew she was hooked on them –the woman's staring emerald green eyes were so addictive.

"Good. Don't move. Stay here," Reese said as she forced herself to turn away from those beautiful eyes and check Brass' position.

"Where's the backup? What's taking them so long?" Sara asked as she started to fidget in her seat.

"I can't stand it any longer," Catherine said as she had just seen Reese sprint through the line of fire and grab an employee while she had been looking inside through the open doors.

"Neither can I," the brunette quipped as she started to open the door. "But you'll have to help me," she added while pointing at her leg.

"Of course," Catherine replied as she got out of the car as well.

"Good," Sara said as she un-holstered her gun. "Do you know if there's another way in?"

"Yes, there is," the strawberry blonde replied as she placed her arm around Sara's waist. Together they headed to the other side of the building.

"This way we'll be able to get to the lobby via the wardrobe area," Catherine said as they reached the service entrance. Though the plastered leg didn't hinder the bodyguard while walking, each step she took she did feel a pain shoot through her leg. But this didn't stop her from getting inside, to help out Brass and Reese.

As they crept into the lobby, Brass immediately spotted them –a roll of his eyes and a shake of his head their greeting.

Reese noticed Sara and Catherine as well, and now they outnumbered Stavcovic and his men, she realized they'd be able to stop the madman.

She saw Captain Brass signing things to the bodyguard and the CSI. Just as he turned to her, the Latina noticed from the corner of her eye that Sam Braun left his place behind the reception desk, giving Stavcovic plenty of room to use him as a human target.

Without much thought Reese sprinted over, her gun aimed at the millionaire. As she jumped in front of the casino owner she started firing her gun at Stavcovic and his cohorts.

All hell broke loose, bullets flying everywhere. One bullet hit the millionaire in his leg, causing him to lose his balance and fall. Another hit one of the other men in his shoulder. Sara managed to fire a round and hit another of Stavcovic's men in his upper arm.

Unnoticed by the others, Stavcovic managed to crawl back up and fire his gun, hitting the police officer who was just pushing Sam Braun back behind the desk.

The young woman fell to the floor in front of the desk -nothing between her and the millionaire. Again, Stavcovic aimed at the dark-haired woman, but before he could squeeze off another round Brass fired and hit the man in his shoulder, stopping him from causing more harm to Denver.

Right at that moment, backup finally arrived and soon Stavcovic and his cohorts were all overmastered.

"Reese!" Sara quickly staggered over to where the young woman was still lying on the floor. The police officer was looking very pale and she seemed unresponsive.

"Reese?" the brunette asked again as she knelt down next to the younger woman and started to examine where she'd been hit.

Though the front of her sand-colored blouse was now covered with blood, there fortunately was no big gaping gunshot wound to be found in Reese's chest.

"I'm okay," Reese groaned as she tried to sit up. The bodyguard then noticed the hole in the officer's sleeve, blood seeping out.

"Hang on," Sara said as she re-holstered her Glock, ripping off the other sleeve of Reese's blouse to use it as a tourniquet on her friend's arm.

Catherine walked over, just ending a phone call. "Ambulance's on its way."

"How are the others doing?" Sara asked as she pulled the piece of fabric really tight around the officer's arm.

"Sam's okay," Catherine started. "Thanks to you," she added as she looked at the Latina. "The security guard didn't make it…Neither did Stavcovic."

"Asshole got what he deserved," the bodyguard growled.

"Sara." Catherine tried to calm the brunette by placing her hand on Sara's shoulder, giving her a little squeeze.

"Denver, you idiot," Brass scolded as he came walking towards them. "And not to mention the two of you," he added, looking from the CSI to the bodyguard. Turning back his attention to the police officer he continued on a lighter tone. "Well done, Denver. I think someone's up for promotion."

"Thank you, Sir," Reese replied. Though the pain in her arm wasn't that bad, the blood loss caused her to feel lightheaded, making it hard for her to focus on what was going on around her. That is, until she noticed the employee she'd saved walking towards her.

"Will she be alright?" the blonde asked worriedly as she kneeled down next to Reese, her eyes immediately locking on the officer's.

"I'm…I'm okay," Reese replied as she struggled to get up onto her feet, but as she pushed herself up with her arm, pain caused her to almost black-out.

"Reese Olivia Denver. Keep your bottom seated on the ground," the bodyguard said sternly as she pushed the young woman to the floor.

Brass who'd just headed off to meet the EMTs came walking back, one paramedic in tow.

"Make some room," the Captain ordered. "And you two come with me," he added as he motioned for Sara to follow.

As the paramedic set to assess Reese's arm, the casino employee never left her side. "I didn't get the chance to thank you for before," the blonde started as she once again got the Latina's full attention. "Thank you, Officer Denver, for saving my life," she said seriously as she placed her hand on the cop's upper leg.

Reese looked at the woman's hand, the blonde's thumb caressing her thigh.

"No thanks needed. All part of the job, Ma'am," the dark-haired woman said as she finally managed to look up and into the blonde's emerald eyes again.

"If there's anything I can do to repay you…" the woman trailed off as she got distracted by seeing the police officer biting on her lower lip.

Reese had to stop a groan from flying out, the treatment of the paramedic being very painful at that moment. It took her a while to find her equilibrium again and after a deep breath she said, "Your name would be enough."

"Sorry Ma'am. We need to get her moving now," the paramedic interrupted as he pushed the blonde aside to make room for a second EMT who just brought in a gurney.

Sara and Catherine, who'd just been reprimanded for their stupid action of going inside as well as thanked for their help by Brass, both noticed something was going on over at the other end of the room where Reese was helped onto a gurney and wheeled out, the casino employee staying behind with a surprised look on her face.

The two women headed over, the taller of the two leaning on the other for support.

"Ma'am?" Catherine started and as the blonde turned to face her she continued. "Are you alright?"

"Yeah…I'm fine," the woman answered absentmindedly as she turned back to search for the charming dark-haired police officer.

The CSI and the bodyguard locked eyes and both new what to do next…

"I think you need to be checked by the paramedics," Sara stated as she walked further towards the woman.

"What?" the blonde asked, still not paying full attention to the two women next to her.

"Your cheek," Sara said, pointing to the red scrapes.

The woman finally snapped out of it and turned back to Catherine and Sara. She raised her hand and touched her cheek. As soon as her fingertips touched the raw skin she realized the spot caused a stinging pain.

"Come on," the brunette said as she pulled her along, the three of them heading for the exit, following the paramedics to their ambulance.

"Wait up, guys!" Catherine called as she spotted one of them closing the doors of the ambulance.

The EMT helped her into the rig and just before he closed the door the two women heard the blonde's voice.


As the ambulance sped off Sara and Catherine turned at each other and started smiling. "Mission accomplished," the bodyguard said as she pulled the strawberry blonde close.

"You think so?" Catherine inquired as she locked eyes with the brunette.

"I know so," Sara answered smugly.

"Well, let me take you home so I can accomplish my mission," the older woman replied huskily.

The brunette gulped audibly as she felt Catherine's body push even further into her own tall frame, the closeness of the CSI stirring a fire within. With Catherine's arm firmly placed around her waist, the brunette led them back inside to find Brass and see whether they needed to stay any longer.

After being told by the Captain he'd see them the next morning they left the casino. They got into a cab and Catherine gave the driver directions to her place.

They were quiet the entire ride, content with holding each other's hands and looking at one another.

It was time to forget about all that happened. About Stavcovic. About Sam Braun –even if it was only for a short while.

It was time to focus on one another. To see where things would lead between the two of them.

This game was over…

…But it would only be a matter of time for the next one to start.

The End

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