DISCLAIMER: the characters don't belong to me, but to CBS, Jerry Bruckheimer,…I'm just borrowing them for a while. After I'm done toying with them, I'll give them back in one piece, I promise *evil laugh* Please don't sue, I'm a poor uni student, all I have left in my wallet after paying a very hefty entrance fee is a couple of Euro' s. Not worth the hassle.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: no real spoilers. I'll probably introduce a lot of new characters and change cannon along the way. I don't know anything about Nevada criminal law, so I've probably made huge procedural mistakes. Same goes for possible medical procedures: I'm not a doctor, so everything you'll read is most probably quite impossible in real life. I don't care, I live in la la land anyway. It's set about four weeks after the Hank thing.
WARNING: English still isn't my mother tongue, so you'll probably encounter a lot of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes along the way. It's my way of annoying the hell out of everyone lol
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
THANKS: to my betas for all their help.

With a Little Help
By Piranha

Chapter 1.

After a mildly exciting night, yet another shift was slowly drawing to an end. Arriving back at the lab with screeching tyres, Sara jumped out of her SUV and started walking towards the labs, humming a cheery tune. She was feeling rather pleased with herself, the robbery she had been sent out on earlier that evening already solved with a suspect in custody. In the hallway she ran into a panting Warrick, who let out a huge sigh of relief when he saw her, stating: "thank God I'm not the only one who's late."

"Late?" Sara asked dumbfounded. "Late for what?"

"Grissom's little meeting." When it became obvious to Warrick that Sara didn't have a clue what he was on about, he continued: "Grissom called all of us in for an impromptu meeting at six. Now he's going to another one of those entomology conferences, he wants to know where we all stand on our pending cases. In other words, it's his last chance to check up on us before he leaves. Anyway, didn't you get his message on your cell phone?"

"Erm no, I don't think so, let me just check," Sara said, fishing her cell phone out of her back pocket. Checking the tiny screen, she cursed: "damn, the battery's dead again. You know that's the third time this week this has happened. How come there's enough money for Grissom to go on one of those stupid bug things, when budget is overstretched for one lousy cell phone? I don't ask for much, I don't want the latest model or anything, just one that actually works will do me nicely."

"I don't know," Warrick laughed, "guess it's one of those two standards things. Just buy one yourself, it's what I did when mine died on me." With that he pushed the door to the lounge open, effectively ending their conversation as the others were already there, waiting for them.

"Finally," Grissom said sternly, "let's get this show on the road. Catherine, how are you on the Marshall case?"

"Well, I actually solved it. At first I thought it was some weird sex crime as Roger Marshall, by all accounts a very successful dentist, was found dead by the janitor, with his trousers unzipped. He was laying face down on the floor of his own office with an anesthesia mask over his mouth and nose.

I found no apparent signs of struggle, he didn't appear to have any appointments for that afternoon and the janitor swore he saw Marshall very much alive and kicking fifteen minutes after the last patient left. The janitor himself had no motive at all.

I was pretty clueless until I spoke with Doc Robbins. It seems nitrous oxide causes hypoxia, which is a deficiency of oxygen in inhaled gases. One of the side effects of a diminished oxygen supply to the brain is sexual arousal, so Marshall's death was in effect accidental. He suffocated due to auto-erotic masochism or hypoxyphilia as Doc Robbins likes to call it, but I think he was just showing off.

In other words, he wanted to get his rocks of and miscalculated the dose of gas. And before you ask Grissom, yes I already did the paperwork on the case, I left it in your tray."

"Sara? How about you?"

"Well, nothing to say really, I only had two cases pending and they're both solved. The robbery you gave me was pretty open and shut: the robber didn't wear a mask, he was recognized by the store owner and his wallet fell out when he tried to pocket the cash. We picked him up and he confessed.

My missing person's case has pretty much the same story: her father called me at the beginning of shift to say she turned up again. It seems Olivia just wanted to go to a rave. When her parents said no, she snuck out and hitched a ride with a friend. She's safe and sound, but grounded until she's eighteen."


"Well, Nick and I have been working on that double murder for the last couple of days: mom shot through the head, dad bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat. The kids are in the clear, they were both at summer camp and have several hundred witnesses to corroborate their story. They're staying with their grandparents at the moment.

We're working from a different angle now. We only found out tonight that the Owens' had a lot of cash in their house at the time, something about the bank being closed on Bank holiday so they couldn't deposit it. We still haven't found that cash, so we're thinking now it's a burglary turned murder. They had a state of the art alarm system, but the manufacturer says it's been very cleverly bypassed.

We're looking for someone who has a very good knowledge of alarms or computers. We didn't find any prints, but we did find some bubblegum that Greg's processing at the moment. Maybe we'll get lucky that way, otherwise I think we're stumped at the moment."

"Okay, give that case another day. If you're still clueless then, you can shelve it." Turning around again to face them all, Grissom cleared his throat and continued: "Right, so you know I'm leaving this morning for a seven day conference. In my absence Catherine is boss. I want you to pair up as much as possible, but if it's an open and shut case, then one of you can go solo.

I also want Greg in the field as long as the lab's not backlogged. Help him out and show him the ropes, he has a lot of potential but he still has a lot to learn. Guess that's it." Looking at his watch, he added: "I still have some time before my flight to Detroit leaves. Come on, let's have breakfast, my treat. Oh and someone get Greg too, he's part of the team now."

"And for you?" the waitress sullenly asked Sara, still busy scribbling down the last order.

Scanning the menu for the umpteenth time, Sara said: "erm I think I'll have a coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice, the special omelet with the vegetarian salad as a side dish and a big stack of pancakes." When she felt the incredulous and baffled eyes of her colleagues boring into her, she looked up and turned beet red with embarrassment, muttering in an apologetic way: "I'm a bit hungry."

The conversation flowed easy, mostly concentrating on Grissom's conference and the speech he was going to give. When the waitress returned with their orders and put Sara's plates in front of her, she attacked them like a woman on the verge of starvation, unknowingly eliciting an amused smile on Catherine's face, who was watching her intently.

She had already finished her pancakes when Greg asked Grissom about the various stages of the putrefaction process. Grissom, always eager to pass knowledge down and oddly pleased by Greg's apparent interest in the gory subject, began to explain in great detail. When he came to the part where larvae begin to pop in the rotting stomach goo, Sara suddenly turned deadly pale. Pushing her chair back so forcefully it actually fell to the ground, she jumped up and made a mad dash to the toilets. The others just looked at each other, not really knowing what was wrong.

"I would never have thought Sara to be so squeamish," Nick said.

"She isn't," Warrick answered, "she worked in the San Francisco coroner's office for a couple of years before she became a CSI, remember? I think she has pretty much seen it all. There must be something wrong with her, maybe she ate too much? I mean, normally she orders something light like a salad, but today…… and she was wolfing it down too. Look, only a third of her omelet left."

"I'll go check on her," Catherine said, "I'll be right back." Walking into the ladies' room, she called out: "hey Sara, you in here?"

"Yeah, second stall, the door isn't locked," came Sara's muted reply, before she vomited again.

Pushing the stall open, she found Sara hugging the toilet bowl. "Are you okay?" Catherine asked very concerned. She had never known Sara to be sick in all the years they had been working together. Sara just shook her head before retching again. Pushing the door closed behind her, Catherine kneeled down next to the younger woman, gently rubbing her back. After a while the retching stopped and Sara eased back. "Are you feeling any better?"

"Erm yeah, sorry about that and thanks for helping me," came the shy reply. Standing up, Sara made her way to the sink and splashed some cold water on her face, desperately trying to get rid of that nasty aftertaste. What she wouldn't do for a bit of mint gum at the moment.

Looking at Catherine in the mirror, she added nervously: "must be something I ate. I shared a veggie pizza with Brass while we waited for the robber's solicitor to turn up and I thought at the time it tasted a bit funny. Probably a mild case of food poisoning, I'll be right as rain after a decent night's sleep."

Noticing that Sara was still looking rather pale and that she was shaking uncontrollably, Catherine asked: "do you want me to take you home?" Before Sara could give her an answer, Greg came barging in. "Do you mind Greg? This is the ladies' room, you know? Yours is next door."

"Erm I know that Catherine, I just wanted to check up on Sara here," he sheepishly replied. Seeing Sara shiver, he took his coat off and draped it around Sara's shoulders before saying: "are you feeling any better? Do you want me to take you home?"

"Yeah, I'm feeling a bit better." Looking in Catherine's general direction, her eyes drifting all over except directly at Catherine, she continued: "thanks for the offer Catherine, but I think I'll just go with Greg. He left his car at my place last night, so he would have needed a lift anyway. Tell the guys I'm sorry and that I'll see them tonight, okay? Erm bye." With that both Greg and Sara left the ladies' room, Sara leaning quite heavily on Greg.

With a heavy heart Catherine watched them leave and sighed deeply. She wasn't really surprised that Sara had turned down her offer, ever since Eddie's death and Catherine's eruption at Sara's inability to solve the case, things had been very strained between them, even more strained than before. Sara didn't dare look her in the eye and tried to restrict their interactions to a bare minimum, avoiding her at all costs if possible.

No matter how hard Catherine tried to mend the bridges, Sara remained skittish and withdrawn. Can't really say I blame her, Catherine thought, the way I blew up on her, she probably thinks I hate her guts. But I don't, I really don't, quite the opposite actually. Although we didn't get on when she first started working here, we were becoming closer in those last months before Eddie's death. I got to know her better and found out I really like her. But then I go and spoil it all by blowing my top off and blaming her, while it's hardly her fault she had to close Eddie's case.

I thought we had a breakthrough when we went out for drinks after she dumped that slime ball Hank, but I guess not. She still doesn't talk to me, she can hardly stand being in the same room. I guess I'll have to work harder at regaining her trust. But now I'm the boss for a week, I guess I can tell her she has to double up with me. Smiling at the thought, Catherine went back to her colleagues.

Chapter 2.

"Why don't I drive?" Greg said when they reached Sara's SUV. "I mean with you being queasy and all, it would probably be a lot safer."

"Yeah, you're probably right," Sara mumbled, fishing her car keys out of her back pocket. Opening up the passenger door, she looked up to the sky when she heard some loud rumbling in the distance. "It looks like the weather forecast is spot on for once, looks like we'll have a huge thunder storm on our hands. I just hope it starts to rain. I haven't been sleeping that well the last couple of days, it's too damn hot." She got into the car and looked over to Greg, saying: "thanks for rescuing me back there, you're a real mate."

"That's quite all right, I know how uncomfortable you are around Catherine these days, can't really blame you after the things she said to you that day. But you know, I really don't think she meant any of it. I think she was just blowing off steam, lashing out her anger and frustration … I mean, put yourself in her position: suddenly her daughter had lost her father.

Granted he wasn't the best father in the world, but Lindsey still loved him. Better a lousy father than no father at all. How was she going to tell that to her little girl? And she didn't get the satisfaction of seeing the guilty party sent to jail.

Don't get me wrong, I know you did the best you could, that you gave the case your all, that there was nothing more you could do. We all know that. I guess that at the time she felt helpless and out of control, she was grieving and just wanted to blame someone. I guess that you were just the easiest scapegoat. But that's just my idea. Has she said anything about it yet?"

"She has tried to bring it up a couple of times, but I never stick around long enough to hear her out. I just flee the room; think that's actually a typical Sidle reaction. I was really hurt by what she said to me that day and I know her little tirade probably a spur of the moment thing, but still…

On a moment like that, people are at their most truthful, they're painfully honest: they say what they really mean and believe. I just can't believe she would think so low of me. I guess that in the end I'm just too scared of what I might hear, of what she might say…. Stupid, huh? You know, another minute alone with her in that tiny room and I would have bolted. That would have been kind of hard to explain. It would probably just have reinforced her negative opinion of me. Anyway, thanks Greg."

Wanting to say something to reassure Sara, Greg looked over and knew immediately that all well meant efforts would be in vain. Sara continued to stare out of the side window, making it very obvious she had nothing more to say on that particular subject. Knowing firsthand how very stubborn Sara could be when she had made her mind up, he decided to drop the matter… for now. They were silent for the rest of the drive, both too absorbed in their own thoughts.

Parking in front of Sara's building, Greg helped her out of the car and up the stairs towards her apartment. Just when he was trying to open her door, lightning flashed, immediately followed by a very loud rumble, startling the both of them. "I think you're going to get your wish Sara, looks like the thunder storm is getting closer. We're in for a hell of a ride by the looks of it, think it might get ugly."

"Yeah, the clouds look a little ominous and the wind is already picking up, think we're in for a rather heavy night, well day. Do you want to stay here? I mean, it could be a bit dangerous to drive home in this weather and I do have a good couch as you well know."

"Thanks, I think I might just do that. Besides we didn't really get the chance to talk properly yesterday, did we? You were far too busy beating me on Nintendo…. Do you mind if I get myself a beer?"

"Nah, go right ahead, you know where everything is. Oh, would you mind making me a tea? Think that might calm my stomach. I'll just have a quick shower, I feel a bit sticky. I'll be right back."

When Sara emerged from her bathroom some ten minutes later dressed in clean gym sweats, a damping hot cup of tea stood waiting for her. Greg watched her intently and was very pleased to see that the dark circles under her eyes had disappeared and that she wasn't looking so deadly pale anymore.

"Are you feeling any better?" he asked. Receiving a tiny nod and a slight smile, he continued hesitantly: "just tell me to shut up or to mind my own business if I'm out of line, but I wanted to ask you…. Why did you date Hank if you have feelings for Catherine? I mean, I don't understand, you told me months ago that you're in love with her and then you date Hank? Why?"

"God, what a question Greg," Sara laughed. "Couldn't you ask me something simpler like how to solve the third world's debt or the theory behind black holes? But seriously, I don't really know, it's kind of hard to explain. I guess it all boils down to loneliness. I know that I don't have a chance with Catherine, she's so obviously straight. Besides, even if she isn't, she wouldn't be interested in someone like me, I'm nothing special.

Then Hank came along and he paid attention to me, he made me feel special in a way and I really liked it. I hadn't felt like that for a long time, so I just went with it. I had missed the feeling of sharing your life with someone, you know? Being able to talk to someone about your day, cuddle someone when you're feeling sad or even argue with someone over the newspaper. It didn't really mean that much to me, my heart wasn't really in it, I just saw it as some harmless fun.

That's why I wasn't so upset when I found out he was cheating on me, well rather that he was using me to cheat on his girlfriend. I wasn't heartbroken, I just hated being the bit on the side, you know? Although my heart wasn't really in it, the betrayal still hurt. It made me realize that love's something illusive, something I'm obviously not meant to have.

I mean just look at my track record: Mel, then the girl who's name shan't be mentioned in San Francisco, Grissom for a fleeting moment –although I still can't believe what the hell I was thinking at that time-, Catherine and then Hank. Not exactly encouraging, is it? Oh well, I guess I'm destined to be that crazy cat lady in the rundown house when I get old. You know what, we should sign a pact that we'll marry each other when we're still single at fifty. We could drive each other crazy in old age. Deal?"

"Sure," Greg said laughing. "But it won't be necessary, I'm sure there's someone out there for you. Your other half, your soul mate so to speak. You can't give up on love, just because you had some nasty experiences. I mean, look at me, you shoot me down several times a day and I still believe in it. Besides you shouldn't think so negatively about yourself, you're a great catch. No, I really mean it, you're trustworthy, loyal, the best friend a man could have."

"Thanks Greg, you make me sound like a dog," Sara interrupted laughing.

"You know what I mean, you're great. Anyone should be grateful to have you. So I don't want to hear you saying that Catherine or anyone for that matter wouldn't want you because you're nothing special. You're special to me. And Hank, well he's just a jerk. You're better off without him."

"Thanks Greg, I really needed to hear that," Sara whispered in Greg's ear, hugging him tightly.

Leaning back a bit to look Sara in the eye, Greg asked:" if you were feeling so lonely, why didn't you tell me? I mean, you know I love you and that I would do just about anything for you? I would have been there for you, you know as a friend or something more…."

"Well, I have to admit, I've thought about it, but … I mean, you already hear enough about my ranting and raving, I didn't want to inconvenience you. I was just feeling lonely, that's not the end of the world. Besides what could you have done? You were with that girl Rosie at the time and I didn't want to be the fifth wheel. As for that something more… Greg you know I love you, you're my best friend, but I'm sorry… I love you like a brother. Anything more between us would just be too…. incestuous I guess."

"I know what you mean…. But a guy can dream, can't he? Besides, you asked me to marry you, not many men can say that. Guess I should be flattered."

"You should", Sara laughed, "I don't just ask anyone, even if it was just a joke." Sara yawned loudly and continued: "I'd better go to bed, if I want to beat this stomach bug or food poisoning or whatever it is, I'll need a decent night's sleep. Goodnight, Greg."

Around five Greg slowly drifted back to consciousness when a beautiful a capella rendition of Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable" invaded his still sleep fogged mind. Thinking that Sara had probably put one of her jazz CD's again, he carefully cracked one eye open, fully expecting to find her in her lazy chair, reading the paper or something. When he didn't immediately see her, he got to his feet and padded to the kitchen. Leaning against the kitchen island, he observed Sara with a very amused smile on his face, thinking that the brunette never ceased to amaze him.

Totally oblivious to his presence, Sara was busy preparing what smelt like another mouth watering meal, happily singing along with the next song on her disc man. She probably doesn't even realize she's singing out loud, Greg thought. She does it all of the time, humming a tune or singing some song, totally lost in a world of her own. Intending to grab another spoon, Sara suddenly turned around and jumped up when she spotted Greg standing there.

Turning beet red, she pulled off her headphones and croaked: "Hey Greg, you're up. I'm just making some sort of fish stew, I think you'll like it. Erm, I hope I didn't wake you?"

"Well, actually you did," Greg said. When he saw Sara was about to start apologizing, he quickly continued: "it was nice. I wouldn't mind waking up like that every day. It sure beats the annoying blaring of my clock radio or my mom's shrill, loud yell when I was still in high school. You really have a very beautiful voice Sara, you should sing more often. Why don't you?"

A bit embarrassed, Sara admitted: "Well, I used to be in a band when I was still in high school. You know the likes: a bunch of wild teenagers who think they can sing, badly covering their favorite songs and desperately trying to write their own material. I was one of the lead singers and I played the guitar.

There were five of us and come to think of it, we weren't that bad. We had a couple of gigs from time to time. Anyway, by the time we were eighteen, we lost touch. You know how it is: everybody goes to a university in a different state. I'm still in contact with most of them, but it's just e-mails and phone calls. I haven't seen the guys in ages. But we've been asked to perform at our high school reunion later this year, so that should be interesting."

"Wow Sara, that's great. So are you guys going to do it? What was the band called?"

"Erm, don't laugh okay? We thought it was a pretty cool name when we thought it up, but in our defense we were a bit stoned at the time: Euterpe. You know, the Greek muse of music? Yeah, I know, pretty stupid name huh?

Anyway, I think we're going to put in a little performance, maybe a couple of songs. I think it's going to be a blast, besides I haven't seen the others in quite a while. Think I saw Erin about three years ago, Jake and Jill about five years ago and God, I don't think I have seen Robert since high school graduation. But enough about me and my silly band, let's eat, I'm starving."

"So have you thought about what we're going to do on Saturday yet?" Sara asked while they were doing the dishes.

"No, not really, I don't really care as long as it's not too strenuous. I'll probably be too tired, I have a hot date on Friday," Greg said, waggling his eyebrows suggestively, making Sara laugh.

"And who's the poor victim this time?" she asked with an amused smirk, "so that I can warn the poor girl off?"

"Yeah, yeah, laugh it up Sidle", Greg replied, hitting her with the towel. Suddenly turning unusually serious, he continued: "no, you know Samantha, that cute cop I was telling you about, has finally agreed to go out with me and you know how much I like her. I thought I'd take her to a fancy restaurant and then to a show. I really want to make a good impression."

"Don't worry about it Greg, I'm sure you'll do just fine. Just be yourself. Besides, a very good source, hmmm let's call her Deep Throat, has told me that Samantha really likes you too. So something relaxing on Saturday huh? How about we go to Lake Mead? You know, make a day out of it: a nice bike ride, a little sun, a bit of surfing?"

"Yeah, that's fine. Anyway, I'd better run, I still have to go home and change. I'll see you at the lab. Oh and don't let Catherine get to you too much, okay?" With a final peck on Sara's cheek, Greg was out the door, leaving Sara alone with her thoughts.

Chapter 3.

Parking her car in front of CSI headquarters, Catherine switched her engine off and was just about to open her door when the roaring of an arriving motorcycle caught her attention. Intrigued she sat back down and watched the graceful, almost catlike movements of the driver, who cut off the engine and dismounted the bike in one swift and fluent move. She'd know and recognize that body anywhere, hell she had ogled it often enough when she thought nobody was looking.

There was no doubt in her mind, that was definitely Sara. <<Down Willows down,>> she mentally berated herself. <<You're as bad as Greg, worse even. At least he's upfront about his pubescent lusting after Sara. You just sneak around like some kind of a sick and twisted pervert. But damn, just look at her all leathered up. She'd even have dead men drooling all over her if they weren't … well dead.>>

Totally mesmerized Catherine watched Sara take off her helmet and shake her head, combing her fingers through her wild and curly hair. Her breath hitched at the mere sight. When Sara sauntered towards the building, politely nodding to the passing Homicide detective, Catherine sighed deeply and got out of her car. <<Another long and frustrating day ahead>>, she thought grimly.

By the time she arrived in the locker room – she had been held up by various colleagues-, she was very surprised to find Sara still in there, humming a cheery and rather familiar tune while rummaging through her locker. As Sara was still wearing her leather pants, Catherine knew that if she played her cards right she'd have the extreme pleasure of watching the younger woman strip, a mischievous thought that made her tingle all over. "Hey Sara," she croaked rather hoarsely, "you're looking a lot better this evening and I must say, I just love those leather pants. They really suit you."

The humming stopped abruptly and Sara's obviously startled face popped out of the locker. When she caught Catherine's wandering eye giving her a rather blatant once over, she turned bright red and mumbled a squeaky "thanks". Sara's eyes wandered all over the locker room before finally settling on a spot directly above Catherine's head.

She cleared her throat and continued: "I feel just fine now, think the sleep did me the world of good. It was probably just one of those twenty four hour things, you know?" The conversation over as far as she was concerned, Sara turned away from Catherine and began to change into something more comfortable.

"Damn she's still too spooked to make any direct eye contact", Catherine thought, " I'll have to work on that". Putting her purse in her locker, she casually sat down on the bench and watched the totally oblivious Sara strip, finally understanding what had hooked all those leering men in her previous career. When Sara was done lacing up her combat boots, she looked up, staring directly into Catherine's somewhat hazy eyes. Not really understanding what the older woman was still doing there and fearing the outbreak of World War III, she nervously asked: "so boss, what do you want me to do?"

Catherine looked at her slightly confused, but then it finally dawned on her: assignments. "Erm I don't know yet, I totally forgot I'm in charge this week. I haven't checked my office yet. Why don't you go to the lounge and warn the boys? I'll be there shortly."

Sara just nodded and strolled out of the locker room. She couldn't make head nor tails about Catherine's odd behavior tonight, but was very relieved that they seemed to have reached some sort of truce. At least for the moment. Walking into the lounge, she found the guys already there, creating an almighty ruckus. Grissom's moderating and sometimes subduing influence was obviously taking a well deserved vacation, something she didn't actually regret. Sometimes he could be just a bit too strict.

Nick and Warrick were in the middle of a rather noisy and definitely a very competitive videogame, while Greg cranked the volume of the stereo up before pouring himself a fresh cup of coffee. When he noticed Sara, he poured another cup and plopped down beside her, handing her the much needed drink.

They were just chatting animatedly when Catherine strolled in, announcing: "okay guys, listen up. It seems like we're having a really slow night, no new cases have come in yet. Anyway, Nick and Warrick, you heard what Grissom said yesterday: one last chance to crack the Anderson case. If you don't find any new and solid leads by the end of shift, you'll have to put in the freezer for the moment.

Take Greg with you, you never know, a fresh pair of eyes might work. He might offer you a different perspective, an alternative interpretation of the evidence. Sara, guess you and I are temporarily stuck here until a new case comes in. Erm maybe you can catch up on paperwork or something?"

The guys left the room, secretly relieved that at least they had something to work on, even if it was mulling over the same old case over and over again. When Sara felt Catherine's eyes on her, she looked up and realized that the older woman was waiting for some kind of answer. "Erm I've already done all of my paperwork, but don't worry. I'm sure I'll find something to keep me occupied. If you can't immediately find me when a new case comes in, just page me. I'm sure I'll be around somewhere."

Three hours later Catherine found Sara in one of the outer labs, totally engrossed in the latest forensic magazine. Clearing her throat to announce her presence, she ventured in further when Sara looked up. "We're up", she said, "a new case has just come in: a dead body in a burnt down warehouse. Guess we'll see some action tonight after all." When Sara didn't answer, but just got to her feet, Catherine continued: "anything interesting?" Sara just looked at her dumbfounded, so Catherine pointed to the magazine on the table.

"Erm no not really. I was just reading about decomposed bodies in the Australian desert. Anyway, do you know something more about the case?"

"No, not really, the information I was given was sketchy to say the least. It seems that there was a really big fire this afternoon. A warehouse on the industrial zone burnt to the ground. After they had put the fire out, the fire department went in to secure the place and stumbled upon the body. Maybe Brass will something more, he's waiting for us at the scene."

"Ah my two favorite CSI ladies from nightshift, you've just made my day", Brass greeted them.

"Jim, we're the only CSI ladies on the nightshift, but keep up the good work. You know flattery will get you everywhere", Sara laughed. Anyway, what have you got for us today?"

Switching to full business mode, Brass started: "Carpet diem or what's left of it anyway. Like the name implies a carpet company, some people really have no imagination. Anyway, witnesses noticed the fire around four o'clock this afternoon and immediately called 911. Although the fire department responded pretty quickly and was on the scene within minutes, the warehouse burnt out completely. There was nothing they could do apparently, except to try and contain the fire and stop it from spreading to the surrounding buildings.

I had a little chat with a fireman earlier and he said it was Hell's inferno down here. When the fire was finally out and there were no more danger of flare ups, lieutenant Wolf over there went in to check it out. You know, making sure the building doesn't collapse. That's when he found our Mr. Crispy. The dead body was in the bathroom and get this, he was found with his trousers still around his ankles.

The poor guy never stood a chance. Looks pretty open and shut to me, but you never know. Now, Lieutenant Wolf has secured the building and says it's quite safe to go in, so you don't have to worry about that. I still have to talk to some people, so I'll leave you to it. Have fun with Crispy."

Catherine turned to face Sara and said mockingly: "hmmm seems that lately all my cases involve guys with their pants down. Must be some kind of strange vibe I'm emitting. So… Sara why don't you go and talk to that lieutenant Wolf and I'll make a start on the body. Okay?"

"Sure. I'll come over and help as soon as I'm done", Sara stated before she walked over to a group of firemen. They directed her towards the very last fire truck, where a lone figure was busy rolling up a hose pipe. Tapping him on the shoulder – scaring the fireman half to death by doing so-, she asked: "Lieutenant Wolf? So sorry about startling you. Erm anyway hi. I'm Sara Sidle and I'm a crime scene investigator. We've been called in to investigate the dead body you've found. I was wondering if you could tell me a bit more about the fire and the body, you know some background information. Like if you think it's arson, where you found the body, if you've moved it,… You know, stuff like that. It would really help us with our investigation."

"Well, I don't know. Sara wasn't it? As for the fire being an arson, I can't really answer that question. We've called in our own specialist, but we've been having a lot of suspicious fires lately, so Matthews probably won't make it until tomorrow. If you want to, I can mention your interest in the matter. I'll have Matthews call you, that way you could both come down here to investigate or something.

My gut feeling however screams accidental fire. It just doesn't feel like an arson, I can't really explain it. I think that thunderstorm we had caused this raging inferno. With the warm and dry weather we've been having and the materials they kept here, all it would have taken was one bolt of lightning and whoosshh. As for the body, well like I already told that policeman, I found him where the bathroom used to be.

The poor bastard never had a chance, he had probably just sat down on the toilet when lightning struck, turning the whole warehouse in a raging sea of fire. I left him like I found him, crouched over with his head on the floor and his erm… behind in the air. Then I had the boss call you guys."

"Any ideas on who this could be?"

"None whatsoever. We called the owner when we arrived on the scene and apparently nobody's supposed to be here. The warehouse was closed for the week, that's why we never even attempted to go inside. We couldn't have saved him if we did anyway. The flames and the heat, there was just no way of getting in there. Nasty way to die though, being burnt to a crisp. I just hope he died of smoke inhalation. Now, if you'll excuse me, seems we have another call. I'll tell Matthews to contact you, okay?"

"Sure and thanks," Sara smiled, flipping him her business card. Turning around she realized the most daunting thing was about to come: facing Catherine and the dead body. Now corpses she had no problem with, she worked even the nastiest, goriest cadavers with a smile on her face. Facing Catherine however was making her slightly light headed and queasy.

Mustering up all her courage, she walked into the warehouse's remains. Stopping a couple of meters away from Catherine and the dead body so she couldn't contaminate the scene, she said: "Wolf has no idea who this is. Apparently the warehouse was closed for the week, so it's possibly a thief or a bum. The fire department has their own investigator coming in, but that will probably be tomorrow.

I've given Wolf my contact numbers so I can hook up with the specialist. Wolf has a gut feeling that it's an accidental fire and with the thunderstorm we've had the day, I'm inclined to agree, I didn't see any characteristics of accelerant on my way in. Guess I'll find that out for sure tomorrow. Anyway, Crispy probably died of smoke inhalation, what do you think?"

"Well this case gets weirder and weirder. When I first looked at him, I thought it was smoke inhalation too, that he was sitting on the toilet and just toppled over after death. His pants around his ankles seemed to corroborate that story. Then I took a closer look to his head and imagine my surprise when I found a huge, gaping hole in it.

So I'm thinking, okay he's been shot in the back of the head. But how is that possible? How can you shoot a guy through the back of the head while he's sitting on the toilet? And he must have been sitting on the toilet when he died, just look at him. He's still in a sitting position, extreme instant rigor mortis or cadaveric spasm. I have no idea what happened here."

"Are you sure he was shot?" Sara asked incredulously.

"Pretty sure yes, just come and take a look at the back of his head." Sara stepped closer and kneeled down beside Catherine, audibly gulping when she smelt the burnt skin. "Nasty smell, isn't it?" Catherine commented when she saw Sara's reaction. "Think I'm going to call him Baconman from now on. It has a nicer ring to it than John Doe. Besides he smells like the burnt bacon and eggs breakfast Lindsey once made me."

At that last comment Sara became deadly pale and feeling the bile rise, she sprinted out of the warehouse, throwing up in a bin outside. A very worried Catherine was immediately behind her. "Are you okay? This can't be a stomach bug and I've never known you to be queasy seeing a gruesome body. You've even searched bloodied intestines for the E-coli bacteria and tooth marks. Come on, let's get you to the E.R. You need to be checked out."

"No hospital, just drive me home please", Sara mumbled before vomiting again.

"Sara, this isn't the time to be stubborn. This is the second time I've seen you puking your guts out in twenty four hours. You've got to see a doctor."

"I will. I've got a friend who's a doctor. I'll ask her to come over and check me out. I just don't want to wait in the E.R. You know it'll take hours if we do it that way. Could you just give me a lift to my place? Oh and ask Greg to park my baby in the CSI garage for now, I don't want her stolen. Here are the keys."

Knowing there was no way she'd convince Sara to stop by the E.R. Catherine reluctantly drove Sara to her apartment, promising to send Greg over as soon as possible.

Chapter 4.

After Catherine dropped off Sara, she reluctantly returned to the burnt out warehouse. There were still three hours left in the shift and the crime scene needed to be processed. Besides Catherine figured she could do with the distraction, maybe working the scene could chase away the anguish and the concern she was experiencing at the moment. She was worried sick about Sara, seeing her turn deadly pale and watching her puking her guts out had really tugged at her heart strings.

She had wanted to reach out and help her colleague, comfort her and tell her that everything would be alright, but hadn't really done any of those things. Sure she had comforted her, but not the way she really wanted to. She realized that the gesture wouldn't have been appreciated anyway, she knew that she probably was the very last person Sara would turn to and confide in.

The mere thought that Sara didn't trust her hurt Catherine immensely, especially since she realized that it was all her own fault. There was no' one to blame but herself. She had driven the younger woman away with her little comments, her snide remarks and her bitchy attitude. They had been on the road towards a fragile and tentative friendship, but then she had to spoil it all by going ballistic on Sara after she had closed down Eddie's case. She had really blown her top, even Warrick had said it was pretty scary.

She was desperately trying to rebuild their friendship and had considered their little bonding session after the Hank debacle a positive step forwards, but then again…. She was a bit too optimistic it seemed. She should have known better really. You just can't regain trust overnight, especially not when you're dealing with a cagey, shy, closed off and distrustful person like Sara. Catherine knew she had to bide her time and take little baby steps. All she could do at the moment was sit back and hope for the best.

Arriving back at the scene, she found it nearly deserted. The curious bystanders had all gone back home to bed and the fire department at another fire. Only Brass and the coroner's assistants were still there, drinking coffee and playing a rather loud game of poker while they waited patiently for her to return. Exiting her SUV, she walked over to them. "Sorry guys to take so long. I just wanted to make sure Sara sees a doctor. You know how stubborn she can be," she said apologetically.

"That's quite alright Catherine", Brass said. "It's not like we had anything better to do. It's a really slow night, according to dispatch no new cases have come in, not even a boring domestic dispute. So we all decided to stick around and have some fun while we waited. I even won a couple of bucks. How's Sara doing anyway? Any better? She looked awfully pale when you led her over to your car."

"I don't know yet. She flatly refused to go to the E.R. and insisted I drive her home instead, saying she'd call a doctor she's friends with. That girl is as stubborn as a mule, if you'd look the word 'hard headed' up in the dictionary, you'd find a picture of Sara next to it. In the end I just gave in.

I dropped her off, ordered her to rest on her couch and refused to leave until she called her friend, which she eventually did. I had no reason to stick around after that. She practically threw me out anyway, stating she'd be fine on her own and that the scene still had to be processed. So here I am," she concluded with an amused smirk on her face.

Turning towards the coroner's assistants, she said: "I just need a couple of more minutes with the victim and then he's all yours, okay?" When the men just nodded and resumed their poker game, she looked at Brass and said: "Jim, do you mind helping me out a bit? With Sara gone, I need an extra pair of hands. Besides there's something I think you should see. The case isn't as open and shut as you thought it to be."

Crouching next to Baconman, Brass whistled softly and said: "I see what you mean. The guy's got a hole in his head the size of the Grand Canyon. What do you think? Gunshot wound, very close range?"

"Well yeah, that's what I thought at first, but how? I mean, the guy was definitely sitting on the toilet when he died. How in hell do you shoot someone in the back of the head that way? You'd have to be quite a contortionist to lean over the cubicle wall and get that angle. I don't get it, I really don't. I just hope Doc Robbins will be able to tell me more. Help me turn him over, would you?"

Together Brass and Catherine rolled Baconman over, Brass cursing under his breath and mumbling something resembling "Jeeze, nasty." Catherine just smiled and turned her attention to the body. "Well, his face is gone, which won't help us identify him", Catherine stated dryly. "There's actually not a whole lot of him left. I just hope that Doc Robbins will be able to extract a DNA sample from somewhere, if he's a convicted sex offender, his DNA will be on file.

Otherwise we'll have to check all missing persons reports, call in Grissom's friend Teri Miller to reconstruct his face, …." Sighing loudly, Catherine got back to her feet and snapped off her gloves. "Guys, he's all yours", she called out to the coroner's assistants. "Well Jim, seems we're done here. I'm going to head back to the lab, I'll call as soon as I know anything, okay?"

Saying her goodbyes, Catherine drove back to the lab, bumping into Greg when she walked into the lounge. "Hey Catherine", he started. When he looked behind her and didn't spot Sara, he continued: "where's Sara? Is she still at the scene?"

"No, I had to drive her home. She began vomiting again. She called her doctor friend and asked her to come over. Sara asked if you could put her motorcycle in the CSI garage for the time being, here are the keys."

"Oh, okay. So her doctor friend, eh? That'll be Mel. She and Sara are really close. Don't worry, Mel will take good care of her. Guess I'd better go and check up on her, you never know what those two might get up to. Last time they were together, they…." Just then Greg's cell phone beeped.

"Hmmm a message from Sara. She wants me to drop by her place around nine, she wants to talk to me about something. Guess that gives me some time. You up for some breakfast?" Greg asked with a goofy grin on his face. "Warrick and Nick are already waiting for us in the diner."

"Sure Greg, lead on. You know, you and Sara seem pretty close. What do you think is wrong with Sara and who's Mel? I never heard Sara mention her before."

"I don't know what's wrong with Sara, but I'm sure Mel will find out. Mel's really great, she and Sara go way back. They met in high school, but then kind of lost touch when they went to university. Mel is a doctor here at the local hospital. They bumped into each other again at the hospital when Sara had to go talk to a rape victim. She's a lot of fun, that Mel. A real flirt too, she'd charm the pants of a nun. Too bad she bats for the other team", Greg sighed heavily.

After Catherine left her apartment Sara sank back down on her comfy couch, a million different thoughts running through her already overactive mind. She was feeling totally out of sorts, she didn't know what was going on and that left her worried and confused. She hated feeling like that, she wanted to appear strong, confident and in control all of the time. Self-doubt and worry ate away at her, it made her feel weak and she just couldn't stand that.

Feeling a bit queasy again, she laid down and started to think about Catherine and today's shift. She couldn't get her head around Catherine's strange and erratic behaviour. <<The woman really messes with my mind>>, Sara thought. <<First she ignores me, then she slowly becomes my friend, then she blows up on me when I can't solve Eddie's case and now she wants to be my friend again. I mean, what's up with that, can't the woman make her bloody mind up?

And was she checking me out in the locker room earlier today? That can't be true, can it? Well, I must say that she was breathing kind of raggedly and she didn't really have a reason to hang around, so maybe… But surely Catherine's not into women? Knowing her straightforwardness, she would have said something to me by now, wouldn't she?

Maybe she's too afraid to say something, after the way she behaved towards me it would be kind of difficult I suppose. I mean how does one tell her supposedly mortal enemy she's attracted to her? I sure as hell don't know how, otherwise I would have told Catherine about my feelings by now.

Whatever she's doing or whatever she feels for me, I'd better be careful. I don't want her to walk all over my feelings again. She probably thinks I don't feel anything, that I'm some sort of robot or Borg drone. I just can't take the emotional rollercoaster she puts me through. I've got to protect myself. Knowing how quickly her attitude towards me changes I just can't open myself up to her yet. I've got to be sure about her intentions and feelings before I do that. I'd better keep my distance for a little bit longer, at least until I figure out where I stand with her.

Though I have to admit it felt kind of nice to be in her arms, to be comforted by her when I was sick. The way she smelled, the way she rubbed my back, the way she whispered into my ear that she'd take me to the E.R., I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was everything I had always wanted, but did it mean the same for her? She probably just wanted to help a sick colleague; nothing more, nothing less.

Well I don't want her pity, I don't want to be just one of her little humanitarian projects so she can feel better about herself or so she could alleviate her guilt over her god awful behavior towards me ….. Don't go there Sara, you'll only make yourself sick again, think about something else instead. What's up with all that puking anyway? I never get sick. I just hope that Mel finds out what's wrong with me, I hate feeling this way.>>

Knowing Mel would at least be another thirty minutes, Sara decided to interrupt her soul searching. It wasn't helping her at all. On the contrary, all it did was make her feel even worse. She decided to have a warm and relaxing shower, thinking that at least that way she would feel better physically if not mentally.

Sara had only just sat back on her couch when there was a loud knock on her door. When she went over to open it, the whirlwind better known as Mel Kendricks came waltzing in. "Hey babe", the rather attractive blond said, "so sorry to be late. That stupid idiot Monroe pulled a sickie on me again, so I'll have to pull another double. I only have about an hour, then I have to head back to the hospital. Stupid bastard. I bet he's just doing it on purpose, because I got the promotion he so desperately wanted. But anyway, enough about me. What's going on? You sounded kind of panicked on the phone. Don't tell me that Catherine woman laid in on you again?"

"No, nothing like that. Quite the opposite actually, she's being really nice to me lately. It confuses the hell out of me, let me tell you. But that's not why I called you, I called you for a doctor's consult. You see, I've been throwing up a lot the past two days. At first I thought it was a mild case of food poisoning as I had eaten an iffy pizza, but then I threw up again. I just thought that maybe you could take some blood samples and rush them through the lab or something?"

"Okay, I'll see what I can do. When did you start throwing up?"

"Well, let me see. I felt a bit queasy before shift last night, but I didn't throw up. Then I had that questionable pizza I told you about, that was about halfway through shift. After shift we all went out for breakfast and that's when it happened. Grissom started talking about the putrefaction process and before I knew it I was hugging the toilet bowl.

Greg took me home after that and I just went to bed. I felt just fine when I woke up. I actually ended up eating most of the dinner I had prepared for Greg and myself. I went back in to work and started to feel a bit queasy again about halfway through. I only started puking again when I caught a whiff of the torched body Catherine was examining and you know things like that don't usually bother me."

"So in short, you've been eating a lot and puking a lot, huh? Did anything stressful happen at work? Maybe you're working another heart wrenching case or maybe you've been arguing with Catherine again?"

"No, nothing like that. It's been pretty calm actually, on both fronts."

"Okay then. Erm lay down on the couch for a minute, would you? I'd like to examine your stomach area." When Sara hesitated, Mel winked at her before she continued: "come on Sidle, take off that damn bathrobe. Nothing I haven't seen before, up close and personal I might add," Mel stated, wagging her eyebrows and throwing Sara an overly exaggerated sultry look. Sara just laughed and took off her bathrobe, laying down topless. Mel started to examine her stomach, scrunching her eyebrows a couple of times, making Sara rather worried. Finally Mel opened her mouth again. "When did you have your last period?" she asked.

"About two months ago, but you know how irregular I am. What's that got to do wi…."

Mel didn't let her finish her last sentence and asked: "any spotting?"

"Just a bit. Why? Oh God no, you don't think it's that again, do you?"

"I don't know yet, but we're going to find out. Come on, get dressed. We're going to the hospital immediately. I'll order some blood works and an echo. There's no need to panic or jump to conclusions just yet. It might be something entirely different, so don't worry okay? We'll know something more within the hour."

As usual Mel kept her promise, so an hour and a half later, a slightly bewildered Sara staggered out of the hospital. Promising Mel she'd call her soon, she stepped into the already waiting cab. She couldn't get her head around the news she had just received and desperately needed to talk to Greg. Leaving him a message on his cell phone, she asked the cabbie to drop her off at the grocery store near her apartment.

When she finally made it home, her arms full of shopping bags, she couldn't even be bothered with putting the groceries away. She just plopped everything down on the kitchen counter before sinking down on her couch. Hugging her arms tightly around her knees, she waited for Greg's arrival, numbly staring into space.

Chapter 5.

Sara was still sitting like that, lost in a world of her own, when Greg knocked on her door in his usual exuberant way. Immediately noticing the black circles under her eyes and her almost ghostly pale appearance, Greg knew that there was definitely something wrong with her. Knowing Sara the way he did, he also knew that he shouldn't push her, that she would tell him in her own time. Carefully walking past her, holding out the paper bag he was carrying, he gently said: "hey Sara, I brought you some breakfast from that deli you love so much. You know, the one on the corner of fourth. I figured you'd be quite hungry by now."

"Thanks Greg, that was very thoughtful of you," she replied distractedly, taking the brown bag with her to the kitchen. Knowing Greg would be following her around like a puppy dog –he always did-, she put the bag down on the kitchen table and motioned Greg to take a seat. She began putting her groceries away before rummaging through her cabinets, trying to find a plate. "So did Ecklie give you any grief when you parked my motorcycle in the garage?" she asked, never turning around to face Greg.

"No, not really. He said he was fine with it as long as it's temporary. That reminds me, here are your keys", Greg said, trying to fish them out of his pocket without getting up. Finally he gave up trying and stood up, holding the keys out to Sara. When Sara still didn't turn around, he just put them on the table.

"Do you want something to drink? Coffee?"

"No thanks, I just had breakfast with the guys. They told me to say hi by the way. Anyway, I had about a gallon of the black stuff. Another cup of coffee and I'll burst. I won't sleep for a fortnight as it is and you know how I get when I'm sleep deprived, even freakier than usual", he joked, desperately trying to alleviate the tension.

Sara didn't even seem to have heard him, she just said: "I think I'll have some herbal tea, I'm parched."

Greg nearly fell out of his seat when he heard that. "Sara Sidle drinking tea? Everybody run for cover quick. Armageddon must be near," he laughed. When he saw her grip the edge of the counter tightly, her knuckles turning white, a sense of dread and panic started in the pit of his stomach.

Turning uncharacteristically serious, the sheer worry obvious in his very concerned tone of voice, he asked:" Sara? What's wrong? You know you can talk to me about anything, you know I'll do everything in my power to help you. Just tell me, I'm starting to seriously freak out here and that's never a good thing."

"I'm pregnant," she whispered almost inaudibly.

"What? Did you just say what I think you've said? You're pregnant?" he squeaked with a very stupefied and dumbfounded look on his face. When Sara just nodded, he continued: "but how?"

The – even for Greg's standards – very stupid question brought a smile to Sara's face and smirking a little, she said: how do you think Greg? The usual way off course! I'm pretty sure you're mother told you about the birds and the bees."

"You're pregnant", Greg repeated, not really noticing Sara's slightly sarcastic tone, still trying to take the very unexpected news in. "So it's Hank's, right?"

"Yes off course it's Hank's, you idiot," she laughed. "You know very well that there's been no' one since and I may be a lot of things, but the Virgin Mary I'm not."

Turning beet red with embarrassment, he sheepishly muttered:" sorry, I wasn't thinking straight. So all that vomiting, that's just morning sickness? I mean, besides being pregnant, you're okay, right?"

"Yeah, I'm just fine. Mel said that morning sickness is quite normal, something about protecting the baby by chucking all the harmful stuff out. She advised me to eat some salty crackers, to stay away from greasy food and to drink loads of ginger tea. Apparently those things help."

"So…. Are you going to tell Hank that you're pregnant? Are you happy about it or….?"

"No, I'm not going to tell Hank, I never want to see that bastard again. As far as I'm concerned he's just an unknowing sperm donor, nothing more. I know he has paternal rights and everything, but in my honest opinion he doesn't deserve to be a father.

I know you said better a lousy father than no father at all, but the kid will probably be better off without him. I mean, all he does is chase the next bit of skirt. Besides he told me once he never wanted to have kids, that he hates them.

As to how I'm feeling at the moment, I don't really know. For lack of a better word, I'd say I'm shell shocked. I mean, it was the very last thing I was expecting to hear. I've never given motherhood much though, I've never thought about kids, let alone having one myself. I never thought I could do it."

When she saw that Greg was about to interrupt her, she just held out her hand to hush him up, saying: "please let me finish. I never thought I'd have any kids because I know I'm practically infertile. I always thought I couldn't have any. Guess I was mistaken there, eh? You see, I had a major operation when I was in my teens, they had to remove one of my ovaries. During a routine examination my gynecologist had discovered a cyst on it.

Normally that's nothing to worry about. A cyst is a benign tumor that can easily be treated with additional hormones for instance. In my case however the cyst was twisted around my ovary. The only thing they could do was remove the whole ovary, otherwise it would probably have become cancerous. He checked the other ovary while he was at it and found a couple of tiny cysts. Nothing to really worry about, but it greatly reduced the chance of conception.

So you see, I was pretty convinced I was never going to have any kids and I had resolved myself to that fact. You can imagine my surprise when Mel said I'm pregnant. It was a good surprise though, I'm really happy about it. And yes, before you ask, I've already decided to keep it.

I'm scared though. Scared that I'll be a lousy mother, scared what others might think, scared of being a single parent, scared that something will go wrong, ….I guess I'm happy, excited and scared all at the same time. I just needed to get my head around it, you know? That's why I was acting a bit funny when you first arrived, that and I didn't know how you were going to react."

When Greg saw that Sara had a tentative smile on her face and was looking at him expectantly, a little doubt still lingering in her eyes, he returned her smile with a goofy grin of his own. He said: "congratulations Sara. I just know you'll make a great mom, after all you do get along with me an I'm an oversized kid. Seriously, you've got nothing to worry about, you'll do great and you know I'll help you out. I'm kind of looking forward to that; Uncle Greg, it has a nice ring to it, don't you think? I can be like the dad if you want. I don't mean us getting married or anything, but I could be like the father figure or something."

"You would do that?" Sara asked agog. "You would help me take care of a kid you know isn't yours?"

"Off course I would help you. I love kids and being there for a kid doesn't have anything to do with genetics. It's about cheering him on when he hits a home run or wiping his tears when he falls off his bike. Being a parent is about being there for your child, loving it no matter what.

It doesn't matter if the parents are men, women or other. What matters is that you love the child and you know that I would love yours. I'd be the perfect uncle, I'd take him or her to little league, teach him to ride a bike, help him with his homework, teach him how to cheat on Nintendo, … Anyway, you catch my drift."

Sara just hugged Greg tightly and said: "you're an amazing guy Greg. You've just said what I've been thinking all my life, you know about being a parent. Not that many people feel the same, which to me is a great shame. Anyway, guess I'd better start calling you Uncle Greg from now on."

Grinning from ear to ear, Greg looked at Sara's stomach and asked: "can you feel anything yet? You know, like a tiny bump?"

Sitting down at the kitchen table Sara just laughed and shook her head. She opened the brown paper bag and started eating. Happily munching on the breakfast Greg had brought over, Sara asked: "so how was your first day in the field?"

"Really cool. The guys were really patient with me and explained everything they were doing. They even let me do some things although they had to talk me through it mostly. It was fun, I finally understand why you love your job so much. I got to dust the safe for fingerprints and with a little help from Warrick I was able to lift a partial fingerprint.

The thief must have gotten careless somehow because the print didn't belong to any family member. So now we have his DNA and his fingerprint. Catherine said we could continue to work on the case as we finally have some solid leads. I'll be going out with Nick and Warrick again next shift and I can't wait. I never realized the adrenaline rush you get when you find a tiny clue to the complex puzzle, it's really addictive."

"Guess we've converted you already," Sara laughed, stabbing the last piece of breakfast on her fork.

"Yeah, guess so," he smiled. "Anyway, I'd better get going, I want to catch some Z's before we go in again. Oh, Maybe you'd rather have me stay over? You know, in case you get sick again?"

"No, that's alright. I'll be just fine. Mel told me what to do, what home remedies to take to reduce the symptoms. Don't worry about picking me up tomorrow, I'll probably go in a bit early. I still have a couple of things to do before shift starts."

When they reached the front door, Sara hugged Greg tightly, saying: "thanks for coming over Greg, you've been a real friend." Coming out of the hug, she looked him straight in the eye and added: "one last thing though. Could you keep this between us for the time being? I don't want the others to know that I'm pregnant just yet. I'm probably being a bit silly, but I don't want to jinx it."

"Don't worry about it, it'll be our little secret," Greg whispered conspiratorially and with a final goodbye, he was out the door.

Humming softly, Sara walked into the locker room, nodding politely to one of the guys from dayshift. Shift didn't start for another two hours but Sara wanted to take care of a few loose ends before emerging herself fully in the mysterious death of Mr. Baconman. Changing out of her civilian and into her work clothes in less than five minutes, she trotted towards the lounge, her heavy rucksack slung over her shoulder.

She opened up the tiny freezer section of the refrigerator and propped it full with the lemonade popsicles she had bought on her way in. It wasn't something she usually ate – way too sugary and artificially flavored for her demanding taste buds – but Mel had ordered her to suck on a popsicle whenever she felt a bit queasy.

She had just pushed the refrigerator door closed and was about to go to Catherine's office, when she walked into Ecklie. Before he could say anything, she said: "thanks for letting me park my motorcycle in the garage for a day, it really helped me out. I was afraid someone would steal it if it was left standing outside all day. I know we're in the police building, but still… I know it's totally against policy and everything, but it was a genuine emergency. It won't happen again," she promised, giving Ecklie one of her famous gap-toothed smiles.

It seemed that even Ecklie, notorious for his sticking to the rules and being a general fuddy-duddy, wasn't immune to the Sidle charm as he stuttered: "I guess it was okay, for once."

Heaving a huge sigh of relief of having nipped a potential problem in the bud, Sara continued her walk towards Catherine's office. Having no real office of her own, Sara secretly used Catherine's from time to time. It not only gave her the privacy she sometimes craved, it also made her feel closer to the older woman in a way.

Over time Catherine's office had turned into Sara's after hours' hideaway, the place she escaped to when she needed to lick her wounds after a particularly nasty case or after yet another emotionally wrenching fight with Catherine. But today Sara was walking on cloud nine, she only needed Catherine's office to make a couple of phone calls.

Looking at her watch, she was very surprised to see that an hour and a half had passed already. Knowing Catherine could walk in any minute, she began to clear up the other woman's desk, meticulously getting rid off any evidence of her presence. Although Catherine had been acting very friendly towards her the last couple of days, she didn't want to provoke World War III by using her office without proper authorization. She had only just lain down on the couch in the lounge, hungrily munching an apple, when Catherine walked in. <<Speak of the devil>> she thought, <<that really was a close call>>.

Chapter 6

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