DISCLAIMER: the characters aren't mine, they belong to CBS, Jerry Bruckheimer,
, I'm just borrowing them for a while. After I'm done playing with them, I'll put them back, virtually unharmed. Please don't sue, the only thing of value I have are my brain cells and even those are shrinking fast due to non use.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I juggled the seasons a bit to fit my story better. The Donna Marks case takes place in the fourth season, Hank never happened and Eddie, well let's just say he's still alive and kicking. No real spoilers I think. Oh and no animals were harmed, after I splattered them, I always gave them the kiss of life before sending them on their way again.
WARNING: English isn't my mother tongue. There are bound to be spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Please don't start throwing things every time you spot one, you could seriously damage your pc with the multitude you'll encounter.
THANKS: to my beta for all her help.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Letting Go of the Past
To say the Donna Marks case hit her a little too close to home is an understatement, it shook her up completely. Too many resemblances between the victim's life and her own to ignore, Sara knew she had to make drastic changes. She couldn't continue living like this, hell you couldn't even call it living: she existed, drifting between work, sleep and the occasional beer bottle. She couldn't even remember the last time she had fun or was genuinely happy, probably San Francisco, she thought. Stop thinking like that, she mentally berated herself, that's the past, you're in Las Vegas now, think about your future instead.
As always the last to clock out, Sara used the drive home to gather her thoughts and make a mental list of the aspects of her life she could or should change. She was still deep in thought when she entered her apartment, automatically dropping her keys on the kitchen table and reaching out to the phone to order take out on speed dial. Only when she heard a young voice saying "Vincenzo pizza, can I help you" did she realise what she was doing. Disgusted and angry with herself, she threw the phone down. This was just the type of behaviour I wanted to get away from. She frantically ripped the various flyers and phone numbers of take out joints off of her fridge, chucking them in the bin. Next were the various catalogues that lay on her lounge table. Silently looking around her flat for other evidence of her "non life", she saw her flat for the first time. This isn't a home, she thought, just a place to crash: sparsely furnished, walls still in the same non colour as when she moved in, no personal touches, no items that just scream out << this is Sara's domain>> No, just a cold and impersonal flat, with some boxes, even after four years, still unpacked. Not a place where you could welcome and entertain friends, hell, who was she kidding, what friends? Grissom, her intellectual crush, who only had eyes for his damn bugs, Warrick, who, she was sure, still didn't trust her or Catherine with her snide comments and remarks? I really don't get that woman, every time I think our relationship is improving, that we're becoming friends she sends an acidic remark my way. The woman f*cks with my mind. The only possible exception is Greg, he's always there for me, he always talks to me, even if it is about stupid, nonsensical stuff. He even asks me out occasionally, but I always decline. Maybe I should go out with him sometime, just as friends, go for a beer or something. It wouldn't hurt.
She knew that changing her life couldn't be done overnight, it had to be done in baby steps and would most probably be long and painstaking, but at least she had taken the all important first step: she had acknowledged the problem. She decided that her first project would be making her apartment a real home, pushing the subject of friends to the back burner. As long as I can't invite them over, what's the point, she rationalised to herself.
She looked at her apartment again, mentally adding up what was there and more importantly- what was missing. Noticing the barren, colourless walls for the second time, she sighed heavily. A Total make over was in order! "Where are Debbie Travis and her team when you need her? It will take me ages to do this, she mumbled out loud. For heaven's sake Sara, snap out of it. Don't think of the things you can't do, think of the things you can do." She looked at her walls sceptically, letting her hand run over it. Well, a dab of paint certainly wouldn't go astray, a soft and warm colour, like maybe yellow or orange? Hmmm, better buy fast drying and odourless paint, if I'm going to do this, I don't want a splitting headache for days on end. Moving the furniture shouldn't be a problem, the few things I do have, aren't really heavy. This trail of thought made her chuckle out loud. Her eyes fell to the pile of books on the floor, one stack higher than another, all of them dangerously close to toppling over. A bookcase is definitely second on the list. Maybe I can even make it myself, carpentry always relaxed me in San Francisco and I still have the tool belt my granddad gave me. Maybe also a couple of quirky looking CD racks, because my music collection doesn't seem to do any better. What else? A couple of paintings? Nah, she immediately dismissed the idea of paintings, paintings aren't really my thing. Pictures? Yes that's it, pictures!
Suddenly very enthusiastic, Sara went to her spare room where she had dumped some boxes when she had moved in. The boxes contained her personal items, knick knacks and souvenirs of her life in San Francisco. When she first came to Las Vegas, she couldn't deal with the pain of her past life, the wounds were still too fresh. So she had dumped the boxes out of sight in the spare room, where they remained untouched for all those years, gathering dust.
Sara sat down and carefully opened a first box. She knew that rummaging through the boxes would probably be a painful experience, but she needed to do it. She needed to confront her past, in order to get on with her future. Bracing herself for the emotional pain, she looked into the first box. Not immediately finding what she was searching for, she slowly and carefully looked at each item: some making her laugh when she remembered the story behind it, others making her cry softly. She placed the things she wanted to keep aside: a couple of framed pictures, a very big and odd looking ashtray, leather pants and jacket and finally a small wooden jewellery chest. Not wanting to look inside immediately dreading what she knew she would find she went into her bedroom and put the jewellery chest lovingly, almost reverently on the bedside table. She went back to the spare room and gave the other boxes the same treatment. In the end, she found it in the very last box: her camera. That will certainly give the place a personal touch, my own pictures on the wall.
Like carpentry, photography used to be a hobby, it had relaxed her immensely, washing away the tensions after a bad day at the office. Although she didn't want to brag, she was quite good at it too. She used to go out every weekend to take one picture after another: landscapes, people, animals . She had enjoyed it, awestruck every time by the devastating and raw power of nature or by the simple joy a child's smile could give you. Yet another thing she had given up when she moved to Las Vegas.
As she didn't have to go in for work later, she decided she would use her day off to pick up some paint cans and film rolls, maybe some wood too. She would also get the film rolls she had spotted in the last box developed. She couldn't really remember what was on them, but maybe there would be a really good picture she could hang on her wall.
Happy with the plans she'd made, Sara padded to the bathroom to change into her night gear, getting ready for some much needed sleep. Wearing her Taz boxers and t-shirt, she went into the bedroom and sat down on her bed. She put the jewellery chest in front of her and just stared at it for a long time. Suddenly she became nervous, she had a hollow feeling in her stomach and began to rock back and forth slightly, unknowingly biting her lip. "Come on Sara, you've got to face it sometime", she said to no' one in particular. Clumsily she fumbled with the key, her hands trembling when she finally had gathered enough courage to open it. There it was, a silver celtic wedding ring. She put the ring on her finger and just burst into tears, grabbing a pillow to have something to hang onto. After a while the tears slowed and emotionally drained, Sara fell into a deep sleep.
A couple of hours later, Sara woke up a bit disoriented and groaned loudly. She couldn't understand why she was feeling so lousy, she knew she hadn't drunk too much, the lack of pounding in her head told her that. The reflection in the bathroom mirror gave her the answer: red and puffy eyes stared right back at her, telling her she cried herself to sleep. Then her eyes caught a glimpse of the silver ring still on her fingers. Frantically she tried to get it off, holding her hand under the water to make the ring slide better. Once it was off, she twirled the ring between her fingers, deciding what to do with it: locking it away again in the chest or wearing it on her finger. She decided against the latter, it would only drag up a load of questions she wasn't ready to answer. But she didn't want to hide the ring either, she felt she would be betraying her vows all over again, denying her marriage and her feelings so to speak. She shouldn't have locked up the ring in the first place. Maybe she could wear the ring on a necklace, this way she would always have it with her, but she could hide it under her shirt to avoid all the questions.
After a quick shower and a bite to eat, she was on her way to the stores. First stop was a jeweller, where she bought a simple silver necklace. Then she went to the supermarket; if she were to stop ordering take away, she 'd better stock up on food and drinks. There weren't many customers, so pretty soon Sara stood at the check out, paying for her groceries. Leaving the store, she noticed a one hour photo lab. Handing in the film rolls at the counter, the pimply cashier said to come back around seven. After giving specific instructions on how she wanted the photos developed and buying some new rolls, Sara decided a trip to the hard ware store was next on the list. She thanked the cashier and gave him a gap toothed smile, leaving him drooling on the spot.
Sara was amazed by the rows and rows of orange and yellow paint. She had found her brushes easily enough, had even found some nice pieces of rare reddish brown teak wood, but how was she to choose between all these colours? She hadn't even heard of most of them. How did they come up with these names anyway? Citrica, amaretti hah that sounded more like an Italian drink than a paint-, Pavarotti, hey wasn't that an obese opera singer? She was so deep in thought, she hadn't seen Greg sneak up behind her.
When he put his hand on her shoulder and said: "Hey Sara", she jumped up and gave a rather loud yell. Several customers turned their way, looking at them oddly. "Sorry, didn't mean to scare you, thought you had seen me coming. Guess not, eh?" He looked at her cart and seeing all the brushes, he asked: "doing some redecorating?"
Sara, still trying to get her accelerated heart beat under control, just mumbled: "yeah, something like that."
"That's great, do you need some help? I know I don't look it, but I'm pretty nifty with a paint brush. Just call me Grego Picasso", he laughed.
"You're kidding, right?"
Greg painted a mock hurt look on his face and grumbled :"Hey, no need to be insulting, if you don't want my help, you just had to say so."
Grabbing Greg by the arm, Sara said in a soothing tone: "no, that's not what I meant. I mean Why would you spend your day off helping me paint my crummy apartment? You've probably got far more interesting things to do?"
"Erm", he laughed sheepishly, "no, not really. My roommate has his girlfriend over, he hasn't seen her over a month. So you know, thought I'd better make myself scarce, wouldn't want to be in their way. Anyway, it's what friends do, isn't it? Helping each other out, while sipping ice cold beer?" He sent a goofy grin Sara's way.
"Ah that's what you're really after", she laughed, "free beer and a place to hang out. Should have known you had an ulterior motive. Tell you what, if you're serious about that offer, I'll even throw in a free dinner. Deal?"
"Sure, beer, food, good company, what more could a man want", he grinned.
"Well ok then, I've just got to pay for these and then swing by the photo lab, but then I'm heading home. You know where I live, right?"
"Actually, could I catch a ride with you? I kind of left the house in a hurry and forgot to grab my keys, so I'm on foot "
"Even better," Sara said, " now you can help me carry this wood."
"What are you going to do with the wood?"
Sara, suddenly shy, mumbled " make a bookcase and maybe even a few CD racks."
"You know how to do that?", Greg uttered stupefied. Receiving an embarrassed nod, he continued "you never cease to amaze me."
Nearing her flat, Sara suddenly got nervous. What was she doing? Just yesterday she decided to get her apartment in order before inviting people over and today she's inviting Greg. Granted, Greg sort of invited himself, but still .
She turned to face Greg and said: " Look Greg, about my apartment ."
"Don't worry about it, can't be worse than mine," he laughed.
Sara smiled too and said: "Come on, we're here, time to attack those walls."
A couple of hours and several beers- later, they were finished. Greg and Sara, both exhausted, flopped down on the couch, side by side. An icecold beer in his hand, he asked: "So what are you going to put on the walls? Paintings, posters, ?"
"No, I was thinking about pictures. That's why we had to stop at the photo lab earlier. I had some photo's I had taken in San Francisco developed. I can't for the life of me remember what's on them, but perhaps I could use a couple of them."
"Do you mind if I have a look?"
"No go ahead, knock yourself out, I'm going to get us another beer."
Greg began looking at the black and white photographs. "Hey Sara, these are really good", he called out to the kitchen.
Greg was now looking at another picture: Sara with her arms around a beautiful blonde, both leaning against a Harley and smiling brightly at the camera. "Hey Sara, who's this?"
Sara plopped down beside him and took the photograph in her hand. She just froze.
When she didn't answer him, Greg laughed: "Is it a state secret or something?" When he turned around to face her, he saw big tears rolling down Sara's cheeks. "Hey, it's okay. You don't have to tell me if you don't want to. None of my business anyway. But . If you want to talk about it I know I'm a goof sometimes, well all of the time actually- but I'm a really great listener. But only if you want to, that is. I don't want to force you or anything ."
Wiping the tears away, she croaked: "no it's alright, I think it's time I talked about it." Pointing at the blonde, she whispered: "This is Erin O'Neill, my wife."
"I met Erin at Sanarte, a small art festival in San Francisco that gives budding artists a chance. A mate of mine had convinced me to try and sell some of my photographs, as a way of getting some extra pocket money. I didn't really have anything better to do and thought it would be a laugh, so I went for it. Erin was there to sell her latest sculptures. She was a very talented and versatile sculptress; she used wood, stone, marble and had one hell of an imagination. All of her work had a mythological theme, she made that unicorn over there, told me it reminded her of me. I don't know about that, but anyway, her stall was right next to me and we started talking. We really hit it off, you know, we clicked from the start. She had this thing about her, a welcoming warmth that made you want to be with her all the time. When she looked at me, I felt myself drowning in her eyes and when she smiled, God, I can't tell you what that did to me. I don't think either of us sold very much, we were too engrossed with each other to pay attention to enquiring customers. So when the festival drew to a close, I gathered all my courage and asked her out for a drink. When she whispered <<yes>>, I felt like I had conquered the world. I'm probably a closet romantic, believing in love ever after and fairy tale endings, but at the end of the night, I just knew I had found my soul mate, my other half. It may sound corny, but at that time I realised I had been lonely all the time, that I had spent my entire life just looking for her. I had met the one person that made me realise how lost and incomplete I was without her. When I tried to tell her this, stumbling over my words as I went along and nervous as hell I thought I was making the biggest fool of myself-, she just kissed me and told me she felt the same.
I won't bother you with the boring details, suffice to say that two months and several dates later, we moved in with each other. Sounds like the typical lesbian whirlwind romance, doesn't it? Second date, U-haul and all that crap. But we were just crazy about each other, we wanted to be together all the time. Our first place was shabby to say the least: a tiny apartment with small, barred windows and a very nice view of the dumpster out back. It was all we could afford. Money was tight, Erin was the stereotypical struggling artist, I had just finished uni and moved back to San Francisco. But we didn't care, all we needed was each other, we were living off love so to speak, all the rest didn't matter. Corny I know, but true.
Then things started looking up; I began working at the coroner's office, she started making a name for herself, selling more sculptures to local buyers along the way. We moved to a bigger place: lots of light and space, a nice view of the ocean and even a little studio where Erin could work. Things were going great.
The picture you've seen was taken the day I asked her to marry me. I picked her up after work on the Harley and drove us to our favourite spot, a little secluded beach, just north of San Francisco. We had a romantic pick nick and spent the night looking at the sky, Erin pointing out stars and constellations to me, telling me the story behind them. The big dipper and the little dipper being Callisto and her son When the sun rose from the ocean like a big angry ball of fire, I looked at Erin and my breath hitched. She looked so beautiful that day: the first rays of sunshine giving her face an almost ethereal shine, the wind playing softly in her hair. She just looked like an angel, my angel. I realised she was the only person I couldn't live without, I simply couldn't imagine my life without her. I got down on one knee, took her hand in mine and asked her to marry me. Of course I will silly, was all she said. We got married three months later on Erin's birthday. A simple ceremony in our own backyard, a few friends and family members. We couldn't be any happier.
Three years later Erin started thinking about a baby. She was a little older than me and heard her maternal clock tick louder every day. We talked about it and decided to just go for it: we were financially secure, loved each other very much and we were both crazy about kids. Erin, being the eldest, would carry our first baby, she worked out of home anyway and I had just started working as a CSI. A mate of mine was very happy to help out spermwise, so a long story short, Erin was pregnant a couple of months later. I've got to tell you, she sure had crazy ways of telling me stuff. I got home after a particularly nasty day at work and there she was, standing in the doorway, waiting for me. She had a new blue dress on and she just took my breath away. She ushered me in and plopped me down a kitchen chair, excitedly telling me how she had prepared me a special dinner. Now Erin couldn't cook if her life depended on it, so I was really expecting the worst. She put a big plate in front of me with a silver lid on it, you know, like they do in all those fancy restaurants. She took the lid away and all that was on my plate were some badly knitted baby booties. Anyway we were both over the moon and did what all expecting parents do: we cried when we heard the baby's heart beat for the first time, we started browsing through every baby book we could find, thought about baby names The pregnancy in itself was rather uneventful, although Erin drove me up the wall sometimes with those weird cravings she got. Her water broke on Independence Day. We were at her mother's at the time, celebrating. I behaved like the typical confused, scared and clumsy dad: I couldn't find the overnight bag, I couldn't find my car keys In the end my mother in law shoved me in her van and drove us to the nearby hospital.
The hospital staff was great, they didn't even flinch when I told them I was Erin's wife. They made no problem in me being present at the birth. But something went wrong during birth Erin arrested They later told me there was something wrong with her heart, a condition she was apparently born with and nobody knew about They managed to resuscitate once, but she arrested again. In the end there was nothing they could do They tried to save the baby, they did an emergency caesarean, but it was too late Matthew died ten minutes later in my arms
I went from deliriously happy to losing my family in a matter of hours. My world had ended, I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep. Everything in San Francisco reminded me of my loss, I felt I was slowly losing my mind. A couple of weeks after the funeral, Grissom called and offered me this job. I just took it, I left everything behind and hopped on a plane. I wanted to get as far away as possible. I thought Las Vegas wouldn't make me remember it all, but I was mistaken. I kept seeing Erin and Matthew everywhere, kept thinking about them all the time, so I buried myself in work. Work was the distraction I needed, I wasn't allowed to focus on my own pain, I could simply turn off my feelings .
"God, Sara, I don't know what to say, I'm so sorry, I ." Greg, not knowing what to do, just took a crying Sara in his arms, softly rubbing her back. He muttered some reassuring words and continued to hold her until her sobbing eased. "None of the others know about this, do they?", he whispered.
"No and I would appreciate it if you didn't "
"Don't worry, I would never betray a friend's confidence." They continued to sit like that for a long time, before falling asleep on the couch.
The sound of a blaring car horn slowly drifted through Greg's sleepy mind. Carefully he opened an eye, only to be met with unfamiliar surroundings. He couldn't figure out where the hell he was at first, but then it dawned on him. Sara's. Wincing slightly he got to his feet when he heard pots and pans rattling in the kitchen. God, he felt stiff all over, even muscles he never even knew he had were sore. He leaned over the kitchen island, watching Sara scramble some eggs. She looked up and laughed:" Hey sleepyhead, nice case of bed hair. You up for some breakfast?"
"Sure," he mumbled and stretched, groaning loudly.
"Yeah, just a bit," Greg said, rubbing his neck.
"Sorry about that. I tried to get you into a more comfortable position when I went to my own bed, but you just turned over and started snoring again. I even tried waking you up an hour ago, but you just mumbled <<oh mom, not now, school doesn't start just yet>>," Sara laughed.
Greg's face turned a bright pink and he muttered: "So I'm a heavy sleeper, sue me." He cleared his throat and asked: "All right if I have a quick shower first?"
"Sure, go ahead, there are fresh towels in the bathroom. Breakfast will be ready when you're done."
At breakfast, conversation was easy; they talked about everything and nothing. "So a Harley, huh? Never pictured you as a biker chick," Greg said at one point.
Sara chuckled, "Well I don't quite think of myself as a biker chick, but yeah I love bikes. I've always loved riding. Even had one back in high school, an old army one that my granddad restored for me. The Harley on the picture was a present by Erin for my 27th birthday. We used to take long drives along the coast", Sara said with a dreamy expression on her face.
"Do you still have it?"
"No, I sold it the day after the funeral, didn't see the point of it anymore if Erin wasn't there to enjoy the ride, so I got rid of it. I do miss my bike though, I miss the feeling of freedom it gives me. You know, the ability to get away from it all, enjoying the ride and the view, the wind in your hair.. Who knows, maybe I'll buy a another Harley one of these days," she chuckled. Sara's smile got even brighter at that thought, something Greg didn't miss.
"You know Bill, my brother in law, has a Harley. If you want to, I could ask him if you could take it out for a spin sometime." Sara's smile got even brighter.
"Are you sure he wouldn't mind?"
"No, he wouldn't mind," Greg said laughing. "Bill still owes me a favour or two, I introduced him to my sister," he added winking. "But seriously, if you're up for it, I could give him a call later."
"Thanks Greg, that would be great. I'd love to take that Harley for a spin. It's been too long."
After they finished breakfast, Sara drove Greg home; they both had to go to work in a couple of hours. When they got there, she switched the engine off and turned to face Greg. "Look Greg, I just wanted to say thanks for everything. Not only for your help painting, but also for listening to me rambling on about Erin and especially for letting me cry on your shoulder. I don't know how I'm ever going to repay you for that. Thank you." She kissed Greg on the cheek and gave him a big hug.
A bit embarrassed, Greg just said: "That's ok. That's what friends are for. Maybe we can do this more often? Hang out, I mean. Maybe you could even show me how to make CD racks or if you don't want to do that, we could do whatever you want, you know, I'm easy . he rambled on.
Sara just smiled and said: "Sure Greg I'd love to hang out with you." Greg just looked like a kid on Christmas day.
"Well, I'll see you tonight then, bye". He sprinted to his front door and even gave a tiny wave before he went in. Sara laughed and drove back home. It seems she had a friend in Las Vegas after all. He might be a bit of a goof, but his heart's in the right place and that's what counts after all.
Sara, as always the first to clock in they do say that old habits die hard used the few extra minutes of peace and tranquillity she had to think about the day she'd had: she had painted her walls, talked to someone about Erin for the first time in four years, had actually outed herself in the process, had discovered she did have a good friend in Vegas after all and had even made a start on her book case. Not bad for a day's work. Her little project of turning her life around was off to an excellent start. Rather pleased with herself, she smiled brightly.
"You know, laughing at whatever your inner voice tells you is the first sign of impending insanity," Catherine stated, throwing her handbag on the locker room's bench. "So what are you so happy about?" she added.
Sara just smiled and said: "nothing. Everything. Life in general."
"I'm so glad at least one of us has something to smile about," Catherine said bitterly.
"Why? What's happened? What's wrong?" Sara asked.
"Relationship problems. You know Eddie pulled some crazy stunts while we were married, but you'd never believe what the crazy son of a bitch has gone and done now Why in hell am I telling you for? It's not like you'd understand, you've been here four years and I never even heard you mention a boyfriend. Like you'd understand man trouble." Catherine hissed sarcastically.
Sara smiled enigmatically and said "You're quite right, I don't know the first thing about man trouble" before walking out the locker room, humming a cheery tune.
That girl's seriously strange, Catherine thought to herself, getting ready for shift.
A couple of minutes later all CSI's were gathered in the staff room, waiting for Grissom to divide the crime scenes. "Ok, Nick and Warrick, you're with me, we've got a double murder downtown. Catherine and Sara, you've got a corpse in the desert. Brass is already there. Oh and take Greg with you." Grissom said.
Sara turned to Catherine and said: "I'll go and get Greg, we'll meet you outside, Okay?"
"Sara, wait, I'd like to talk to you for a minute," the older woman said.
Great, Sara thought, another round with Miss Venom.
"I'd like to apologise for my behaviour in the locker room earlier. I was in a bad mood and I had no right to take it out on you, I'm sorry," Catherine said.
Sara looked at her and when she saw Catherine was sincere in her apology, she said: " Don't worry about it, everybody's allowed to have a bad mood now and then." Pity you take it out on me all the time, she mentally added.
They both went to the lab, looking for Greg. "Ah, my two favourite ladies," he said, "so, what can I do for you today?"
Sara smiled and said: "well you can grab your coat and come with us. We've got a D.B in the desert and Grissom said you could come with us."
"Great, my first crime scene," he stated enthusiastically. "Can I drive?"
"No you can't," Catherine said laughing at his eagerness, "I've seen the way you drive and frankly I'd rather live another day."
Soon all three of them were in the car, Catherine at the wheel. Greg was chatting all the way to the crime scene, Catherine and Sara hardly getting a word in edgewise. Suddenly he turned towards Sara, who was sitting in the back and said: "Hey Sara, I called Bill earlier and he said anytime Saturday is fine with him. So I thought maybe you could swing by my place first to pick me up. That way I could catch up with him, it's been a while since my last visit. Besides you don't know where he lives and it's a bit tricky to get there."
"Great," Sara said, "how does one o'clock sound to you?"
"A bit early for a Saturday," Greg laughed, "but your wish is my command."
Catherine couldn't get her head around the conversation she'd just heard, her furrowing eyebrows evidence of her obvious confusion, something Sara hadn't missed. "Something wrong Catherine?", she asked.
"Correct me if I'm wrong," the older woman started, "but you're going on a blind date with Greg's mate and you're taking Greg with you?"
Both Greg and Sara started laughing at this; not only did Catherine add two and two up to come up with five, but also the obvious disbelief and astonishment in Catherine's tone proved too much for them not to crack up. Catherine, not liking being laughed at, icily hissed: "what's so funny about that?"
Still laughing Sara answered: " One, if I wanted to date, I certainly wouldn't need Greg's help to set me up. I'm perfectly capable of finding my own dates, thank you very much. Two, Bill is soooo not my type." Greg just started laughing harder at this. "Three, I don't think Greg's sister would appreciate me making a move on her man." Seeing that Catherine still didn't get it and was getting a bit pissed, she added in a more serious tone: "Greg knows how I love motorcycles and how I miss riding one. He just asked his brother in law if I could take his Harley out for a spin sometime. You just got the totally wrong end of the stick, but you've got to admit it was funny."
Catherine, embarrassed for jumping to conclusions and still a bit miffed for being the but of a joke, remained silent for the rest of the drive, a fact that went unnoticed by the other two. While Sara and Greg continued chatting, Catherine mulled over the information she just heard. Why didn't I know Greg and Sara are close friends? Why didn't I know Sara loves motorcycles? How can Sara know Bill isn't her type if she's never even seen him? The answer to the questions was fairly easy: she hardly knew anything about Sara. Although they had worked closely together for the past four years, she still didn't know Sara. Sure, Sara was pretty closed off and hardly gave away anything personal, but it's not like she had really asked, is it? She still saw Sara as an arrogant and overachieving intruder. She hadn't really taken the time to get to know the real Sara, to break through those walls to see if her first impressions were correct. No, all she did was react sarcastically to anything Sara did. Looking at Sara through the rear view mirror, she decided the time had come to correct that mistake: she would try and solve the enigma that's Sara Sidle.
Arriving at the crime scene at last, Sara was the first out of the car. Spotting Brass a bit further, busy giving a young officer some commands, she walked over and said: "Hey Brass, what have you got for us?"
Turning over to face Sara Brass said: "not a pretty case. Young Caucasian female, no identity as of yet, but we have her purse. We just waited for you guys to go through it. Looks like she's been here a while too. Mr Bishops over there found her. He's an ex- police officer, so he knew better than to disturb the scene. Called us immediately and then kept the coyotes away by shooting some rounds in the air. Fat lot of good that did though, looks like they've been lunching on her already." Looking at Greg, who had stepped up behind Sara, he said: "Hey Greg, looks like you landed a particularly nasty first crime scene."
"Any ideas on the cause of death?" Sara asked.
"Only thing visible is a single stab wound through the heart, but the coyotes have done a bit of damage." Snapping his notebook shut, he said: "Think I'm going to have another talk with Mr Bishops, see if he knows anything."
Sara and Greg walked over to Catherine, who was looking at the corpse. When Greg saw the decomposed body he gulped audibly and became a bit green around the gills. Catherine, remembering her first crime scene, said: "not a pretty sight, is it? Try putting a big smile on your face, it'll help."
"Help, how could that help me?," Greg squeaked.
"Smiling prevents the gag reflex," Sara said matter of factly, snapping on her rubber gloves. Taking pity on Greg, she said: "don't worry about it, we've all reacted that way on our first scene. It doesn't make you a lesser CSI. Hell, I even threw up on my first scene and it wasn't half as bad as this one. You know what, Catherine and I will process the body, why don't you search the perimeter for footprints. Then go over to Mr Bishops and make a print of his shoes." Relieved Greg walked over to the car to get the necessary equipment.
A bit late Sara realised that Catherine was the primary CSI on the case and that it was up to her to give Greg orders. Sheepishly she looked Catherine's way and said: "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to undermine your authority like that I just thought it was a good idea to get Greg away from smelly Nellie here before he started puking all over the place."
"No, that's ok, you did the right thing," Catherine said. "I've never seen someone turning so pale before," she added laughing, "I thought he was going to faint for sure."
They worked together in a comfortable silence for a while. Catherine went through the victim's purse, while Sara photographed the scene and the victim from several angles. She was laying on her back, fully clothed. She had to be dead at least two days, Sara thought. Putrefaction had already started in the stomach area, attracting the coyotes. They seemed to have had a field day: parts of her intestines were missing and her hands seemed to be nibbled upon, one finger actually missing. Still, that was something that Doc Robbins had to check, they could have a mutilating killer on their hands. Other than the stab wound to the chest and the gaping hole in her stomach, there didn't seem to be any other wounds. No apparent signs of struggle; the victim still had all her fingernails and as far as Sara could tell they were relatively clean, reducing the chance of DNA. While taping a plastic bag around to hands to preserve evidence, Sara noticed slight marks around the wrist. Possible restrained by a soft rope, she thought. No evidence of marks around the mouth, so the killer wasn't afraid she would start to scream or anything. Noticing the lack of blood at the scene, she would guess the murder took place somewhere else. The livor mortis signs seemed to corroborate that: hypostasis on her back wasn't pronounced enough for the body to be there for at least two days. No, she was killed somewhere else and then dumped here, probably hours after her murder. Maybe that would explain the wrist marks too: the killer bound her arms and feet together to make the transportation easier. Sara went to check the feet and sure enough, they also showed slight bruising.
She was so deep in thought, she startled when Catherine started to speak. "Seems our Jane Doe's name is Jennifer Porter, 34, Charleston Boulevard", Catherine read off the driver's licence. "Did you really throw up on you first crime scene?" she added as an afterthought.
Sara's cheeks turned a bright pink and she started looking everywhere but in Catherine's eyes. "No I didn't", Sara admitted sheepishly, hating being caught in a white lie. "I just didn't want Greg to feel bad about himself, you know. He's trying so hard to be a good CSI and I just know he would beat himself up about it. Besides if the guys knew he had thrown up, he wouldn't hear the end of it. I just wanted to spare him the humiliation. They tease him enough as it is".
Stunned momentarily by Sara's thoughtfulness, the older woman was silent for a few seconds, before stating "that was really nice of you Sara."
Not knowing how to react to the genuine words of approval, Sara just muttered shyly: "Thanks." Embarrassed at being the topic of conversation and a bit uncomfortable under Catherine's analysing and scrutinising stare, Sara just wanted to get away. She looked at Catherine and said: "I'm going to tell Brass we established the victim's identity and then I'll go and see how Greg's getting on. OK?"
"Sure," Catherine said, "nothing more we can do here anyway. We bagged everything, but it appears the killer left practically no clues. The victim obviously wasn't killed here, it's just the dumping spot. See if Brass can get a search warrant for the vic's house, would you? I'll see to it that miss Porter is safely transported to Doc Robbins." Sara just nodded and went in search of Brass.
By the time Catherine got to the car, Greg and Sara were already there, putting their bags and cases away. Opening the car door, Sara told Catherine: "Even Brass didn't dare knock on a judge's door at four in the morning to get a search warrant signed. He told me he'd have the warrant ready for next shift. He'll also send a couple of officers from day shift over to her work place to get some background on the vic. No use in interrogating the neighbours yet, she lived in a residential area, mostly DINK's, so practically nobody at home during the day. We'll have more luck in tomorrow evening, when they're home from work."
"Do we know what she did for a living?" Catherine asked curiously. She had noticed the vic's clothing, all brand names and not cheap either.
"She was a big wig at a bank, handling million dollar deals and loans," Greg piped up.
Surprised Greg knew the answer to her question, she asked him: "How did you find that out?"
"I didn't actually," he admitted sheepishly, "Brass remembered reading about her in the newspaper last week, something about a big investment she'd handled, a million dollar merger or something. He wasn't really sure." Catherine and Sara laughed at his embarrassed tone.
"Anything else known about the vic?" Catherine asked, starting the car.
"No, no yet, Brass said he'd try and get us some more info by the end of shift."
"Back to the office it is then," Catherine said, putting the car in first gear.
As Doc Robbins was still busy with Grissom's bodies, all they could do was process the victim's clothing. Side by side Sara and Catherine patiently went over the clothing with the ALS, but nothing. No semen, no blood, no saliva, only a couple of hairs in the same colour as the victim's . Until that was analysed, there was nothing more they could do. They'd hit a dead end. Their evidence bags were off for analysis, but there was a bit of a backlog, so they weren't really expecting results until next shift. Sighing Sara got up from her chair, rubbing her neck. Sitting in the same position for a long while had left her a bit stiff. "Sit back down," Catherine said, "I'll give you a massage. Maybe I can get rid of that crick."
Obediently Sara sank back down onto the chair as Catherine started kneading Sara's painful neck muscles. "God that feels nice," Sara purred. Suddenly Sara noticed that Catherine's touch had become more sensual than therapeutic and she sprang away, stammering: "I'll go and see if Greg has come up with something." She bolted to the door, almost inaudibly adding "Erm thanks for the massage," before disappearing out of sight.
Wonder what the hell that was about, Catherine thought to herself.
Out of breath Sara arrived in Greg's lab. "Hey, Sara, what's up?"
"Erm nothing," she said, "I just wanted to see if those nail scrapings gave us anything. The clothing only gave us a couple of hairs, most probably the victim's. They're her hair colour anyway, we'll have to wait on the DNA analysis. So? Anything?"
"No, not really, just trace amounts of dirt. Soil to be more exact. She probably did some work in her garden before getting killed," Greg said.
"Damn," was the reply he got.
"Erm, Sara? I feel a bit awkward asking this, but could I maybe crash at your place again?" Greg asked with a sheepish grin on his face.
"They still at it then?" Sara laughed. Greg just nodded embarrassed. "Yeah, no problem, but don't complain if you're stiff again." Greg took her in a bear hug, kissed her on the cheek and whispered "thanks" in her ear.
Just then Catherine walked in, wide eyed at the sight before her. "Could I talk to you for a minute Sara?" she asked.
Turning beet red Sara just croaked: "sure." She took her car keys out of her pocket and handed them to Greg, saying: "you go ahead to the car, I'll catch up with you." Greg nodded and started walking out of the lab. "Oh and could you clock me out too?" she yelled just before Greg disappeared around the corner.
Turning to face Catherine, she was met with incredulous eyes. "Greg's just crashing on my couch for the night, his roommate has his girlfriend over and Greg would rather not be witness to their shag fest" Sara stammered nervously. "Anyway what can I do for you Catherine?" she continued more calmly.
"I just wanted to apologise for making you feel uncomfortable earlier, that wasn't my intention," the older woman said.
"You didn't, not really It's me who should apologise for behaving that way, I don't know what came over me," she said shyly. Liar she mentally berated herself. You know exactly why you behaved that way. "Anyway, I'd better go before Greg changes all my radio stations," she continued. With a final "see you tomorrow" she was out the door.
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