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 26.

Snapping on her gloves, Catherine indicated to Sara she was ready to investigate the crime scene. They agreed to work from the inside out, starting with the body and ending with the door. Taking the lead, Sara pushed the door open and was met by the almost deafening blare of a television.

One look at Catherine confirmed that they were thinking along the same lines: the television was switched on to drown out the noise. What kind of noise, that still remained to be seen. Sara was surprised that the adjoining rooms hadn't complained yet and made a mental note to ask the security guard about it later.

Careful not to destroy any evidence, she stepped inside the room, immediately scanning its layout. Although it certainly looked luxurious and hideously expensive, it wasn't all that big. From her position in the doorway, she had a good overview of the room. The bed was the only thing she couldn't see, but she gathered it was obscured from sight by the bathroom immediately on her right.

Taking one step at a time, her flash light pointed to the floor to spot evidence, she slowly ventured in further to stop right next to the bed. As soon as she saw the body, she knew they were dealing with a murder. The way the body was positioned, it was just too unnatural. It had to be a setup, a post mortem pose by the murderer.

The victim, a Caucasian male in his late fifties, laid on the bed fully clothed, an almost serene expression plastered on his face. His arms were stretched out vertically, his sleeves rolled up to mid arm. You'd almost think he was taking a little nap, if it wasn't for the note pinned to his chest and the coins on his closed eyes.

Catherine came to stand next to Sara and taking one look at the body, she muttered: "murder. NO doubt about it." Turning to face Sara she continued:" why don't you examine the body while I work the room? It'll be fingerprinting hell again. Last time I dusted a hotel room, I lifted 146 different sets. It makes me shudder to think about the cleanliness of places like this."

Grinning at Catherine's indignant tone, Sara nodded her agreement and set to work. She took one of the camera's and started snapping photographs of the body from every conceivable angle. She was nothing if not thorough. The camera still dangling from her neck, she stepped closer to the body to perform a more thorough inspection.

Her first point of order was determining the cause of death or at least make an educated guess. A casual inspection revealed no clues however. No blood, no gunpowder residue, no foam at the mouth, no ligature marks, cuts or abrasions. Puzzled Sara realized that she would have to give each body part a closer examination.

After taking a close up of the victim's head, she carefully removed the coins from his eyelids. She took a good look at them before bagging them and added two fifty cent coins, one issued in 1991, the other in 2004 to the evidence inventory. She peeled the victim's eyes open and found something interesting for she immediately checked the mouth and the throat.

<That's strange,> she thought. <Petechial hemorrhaging and bluish lips, both indicative of asphyxia, but he wasn't strangled. There aren't any rope burns, the tongue bone wasn't broken and although there are some bruises on the throat, they're too faint for manual strangulation. How the hell did this guy die?>

Taking a close up of the eyes, the lips and the faint bruises, she turned her attention to the victim's arms. Taking his left hand in her own, she looked at it closely. <No callous or chipped fingernails, an almost baby soft skin, this man is no blue collar worker,> she thought.

She scraped under the fingernails and bagged the swabs, but held little hope. The nails simply looked too clean. < Hmmm, a Rolex watch>, she mused. < Looks like the real deal to me too. The victim must be quite well off. No needle marks on the underarm, no signs of habitual drug use>.

On a whim she rolled the sleeve up even further, revealing the antecubital fossa. Snapping a photograph of a very recent needle mark, she then searched for ligature marks of a tourniquet, but found none. <This case is full of contradictions>, she pondered. <Asphyxia, but no signs of strangulation. Needle marks, but no signs of drug use.>

Taking a closer look at the needle mark, she thought it was rather big. It looked like some kind of tube had been inserted rather than a needle. Even more flabbergasted, Sara turned her attention to the victim's right arm. She scraped under the fingernails and traced the veins. When she reached the elbow area, she found another tube mark. As the victim was right handed, she knew it was hardly likely that he had inserted the tube himself.

The rest of the body revealing nothing of interest, well other than the fact he was wearing some really ugly loafers, Sara took a look at the note.

"Frères humains qui après nous vivez,

n'ayez les cœurs contre nous endurciz,

car ce pitié de nous pauvres avez,

Dieu en aura plus tôt de vous merciz,»

she read out loud with hardly any trace of an accent.

Surprised, not only that the killer would leave a note in French, but also that Sara spoke the language fluently, Catherine looked up and threw Sara a questioning look. Stepping closer, she said: "I didn't know you spoke French?"

Past lovers having made fun of this geeky side of her as one of them called it, Sara turned bright pink with embarrassment and muttered: "oh well, you know… just a bit. I haven't spoken it in a while."

"Where did you learn it?" Catherine asked intrigued as she knew that Sara had been a full science major in university.

"My gran is from France. She, my mom and I used to speak French among ourselves when we wanted to keep something secret. You know, like some kind of code. It used to drive my dad and granddad up the wall. I took some evening classes too when I was in high school. I don't know, I guess I always wanted to see where my gran grew up. I promised I would take her back when she was eighty."

"How old is she now?"

"She's seventy eight, so I guess in two years time, you, me, Lindsey and gran will be off for France."

Touched that Sara was making long term plans involving her and Lindsey and that she would include them in what definitely was a family affair, Catherine gave Sara a kiss on the cheek before pulling her in a tight hug. Releasing her, she purred in Sara's ear: "you don't know what it does to me to hear you speak French. I think it's damn sexy."

Noticing Catherine's flushed face and slightly increased breathing, Sara laughed and stepped even closer, leaving hardly an inch of space between them. Seductively she whispered: "so you wouldn't mind me whispering sweet nothings in French to you late at night, huh?

Maybe something like 'je connais par coeur ton visage, tes désires, ces endroits de ton corps qui me disent encore. Tant que l'amour inondera mes matins, tant que mon corps frémira sous tes mains, peu m'importe les problèmes, mon amour, puisque tu m'aimes?»

Turning her head slightly, Catherine was just about to kiss Sara senseless when they heard a slight cough, making them spring apart. "Ladies? Fred from downstairs just called to say that your colleague have arrived. He'll be up shortly.", the security guard said.

Very glad they were obscured from sight by the bathroom Sara called out "thanks", while Catherine groaned in disappointment and put her head in the crook of Sara's neck. Lifting Catherine's chin up, Sara gave her a soft kiss and promised "later".

Looking at the note she was still holding in her hand, Sara got sucked right back into work mode. "I've heard it somewhere before," she said, "I just can't remember where. Guess I can call gran in the morning, she'll know." Busying herself with dusting the note for prints, she fell silent, giving Catherine the time to compose herself.

Once she had her raging hormones back under control, Catherine asked: "what does the note say? Can you translate it for me?"

"Huh? Oh yes, sorry. It says:

'Brothers, men who live after us,

let your hearts not be hardened against us,

because if you have pity for us poor men,

God will have more mercy toward you' "

It doesn't ring a bell, but then again I was never much into poetry," Catherine said. "Anyway, find any prints?"

"No," Sara sighed disappointedly, "clean as a whistle".

Just then Brass popped his head in the door and said: "sorry about the tardiness ladies. There was a traffic accident downtown. Is it safe to come in yet?"

"Yeah, just watch where you're going and don't touch anything, I haven't finished fingerprinting yet, " Catherine called out.

Slowly Brass made his way in and taking a good look at the body, he asked: "so, what have we got?"

"Caucasian male, late fifties. Big needle marks on both arms, but also signs of asphyxia. I have no idea on the cause of death, guess doc Robbins will have to clear that one up for us. It's a weird case because get this: he had an excerpt of a French poem pinned to his chest and two fifty cent coins on his eyes," Sara said.

Taking over from Sara, Catherine said: "his name is William Butler and he's from Houston, Texas. Robbery doesn't seem to be the motive as his wallet still contains over five hundred dollars and his state of the art laptop was untouched. I found a business card of his and it seems he's an ICT consultant. I tried to start up his laptop, but it's password protected, so that's going to be a job for Archie.

He had at least two visitors as I found three glasses with the remnants of whisky in them. One of the glasses had lipstick smudge on it, another was wiped clean on the outside. I bagged it anyway, maybe Greg will find some DNA on the inside.

As I expected, I found a lot of fingerprints. None in the bathroom though, that was wiped clean. The killer went to a lot of trouble to clean up behind him, making sure he left hardly any clues behind. Well except the ones he left behind deliberately. We still have to process the hallway and the door, but I'm not holding my breath."

"Okay," Brass said, "I'll gather as much information as I can on the victim and I'll subpoena the security tapes, maybe we'll get a clear picture of the victim and his visitors. Then I'll interrogate the employees and the guests on this floor. Anything else you want me to do?"

"Well," Sara said, "the television was on very loud when we came in. Maybe you could ask the neighbouring rooms about it, it could help pinpoint the time of death."

Nodding Brass closed his notebook and left the hotel room, leaving Catherine and Sara by themselves again. "I'll go and talk to the security guard again, while you process the door and hallway, okay?" Catherine asked. "Then we can call David in to take away the body. Just bag the covers, we'll go over them at the lab." When Sara agreed, both women set to work.

Translation: I know by heart your face, your desires and those little places on your body that tell me you want more. As long as my mornings will be flooded with love, as long as my body will shudder under your hands, I don't care about my problems because you love me, my Love.

By the time they got back to the labs, there were only two hours left in the shift. They dropped their evidence bags off in DNA and Trace, but both Greg and Hodges were swamped because of the desert body case. They wouldn't get results until next shift, if they were lucky that is.

Jacqui from Fingerprint had more time on her hands and solemnly promised to burn the midnight oil, especially when Sara coughed up the tickets she still owed her. Accepting them with a squeal of delight and a bone breaking hug, she immediately began feeding her computer the prints Catherine and Sara had lifted.

Although Caesar's Palace was most cooperative handing over the fingerprints of all employees of the past year without even demanding a subpoena, Catherine and Sara knew it would still take Jackie a while. Not only did they lift a lot of prints, quite a few of them would remain unknown, belonging to totally clueless prior occupants of the hotel room.

Their best shot at cracking the case lay in the laptop, the security tapes and DNA. Archie was up to his neck in a disturbing case of child porn through the internet, but he promised to take a look at the laptop as soon as he had a minute to spare.

He assured them that decrypting the password would be a piece of cake, even if the owner was an ICT consultant. Most people weren't all that imaginative when it came to thinking up passwords and even if they were, he had written a hacking program.

They hadn't seen Brass since they left Caesar's Palace, but he had called saying that the requested security tapes would be handed over tomorrow. He was still interviewing the employees and the guests, but he would let them know if he found out something interesting.

Satisfied that they'd know a lot more tomorrow, they took their last evidence bag to Sara's favourite lab. All there was left to do for them, was examining the sheets from Butler's bed. Sitting at the table side by side, the sheets spread out in front of them, they set to work.

Spraying the sheets and illuminating them with the ALS, they diligently searched for sperm, vaginal fluids and any other fluid they could think of. Though they'd never admit it in the presence of Grissom, it was a tedious and rather mind numbing task.

Knowing that they could both do this with their eyes closed, Catherine asked: "Why do you think the killer put those coins on the victim's eyes?'

Sara looked up and holding her spray can in mid air for a moment, she answered: "all that I can think of is a slight variation on the obol." When Catherine scrunched her eyebrows in confusion, Sara continued: "according to Greek mythology, the Styx was a river that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead.

The Styx, also called the river of hatred, was the most important of five rivers circling the Underworld. You had to cross it to receive the final judgment and know your Fate for the rest of eternity: a state of oblivion by drinking from the river Lethe, Tartaros or the Elysian Fields.

To make sure no 'one entered the Underworld before his time had come or even worse tried to escape, a ghastly dog stood watch at the front gate. Cerberus was a vicious hellhound with three heads, a dragon's tail and a back made out of hissing snakes. His breath was pure venom and he could turn people into stone by just looking at them.

He devoured all those who were stupid enough to escape and opened the doors for the newcomers. The Styx was a very dangerous river with a strong undercurrent and wild rapids. The only way to cross it was by row boat.

Charon was an old and very cranky ferry man who guided souls across in his shabby, leaky boat. He demanded a fee though, a gold coin or obol. That's why the ancient Greeks buried their dead with a coin placed under the tongue. They believed that if you didn't bury the dead properly, they were doomed to roam around aimlessly for the rest of eternity.

I guess the killer wanted to make sure that when Butler faced his final judgment that he wasn't stuck in some kind of perpetual limbo. A killer with a conscience," Sara smirked. "That's a first, huh?"

Still taking swabs from every stain the ALS highlighted, Catherine asked: "how come you know so much about Greek mythology?"

Putting a swab in it's plastic container, Sara answered: "well, I didn't have what you would call a traditional upbringing. My parents are hippies and they have their own opinion on what a child should learn and be taught. Instead of singing lullabies and reading me bedtime stories like Little Red Riding hood or Cinderella, they sang Dylan songs and told me about Jason and the Argonauts or Orpheus and Eurydice.

I loved those stories as a kid. Don't get me wrong, some of them were quite gruesome and totally unsuitable for kids' ears, but there was always a lesson to be learnt. I still read them from time to time.

When I can't sleep and I'm fed up with all the annoying mistakes in your average police thriller, I like to submerge myself into the world of heroes, gods and monsters. Their imaginative explanation of the world is a nice diversion from the cruel reality we face everyday."

Looking at her watch, Sara continued: "anyway, it's nearly six o'clock, gran will be up by now. Is it okay if I use your office to call her?"

Putting the last swab in a container, Catherine answered: "sure, I'll just clean up in here, drop the swabs off and then try to find Grissom. I want to give him a brief rundown on our case and see if it's okay if we both clock out a bit early. Nothing more we can do here now anyway and you have a doctor's appointment to get ready for."

"Okay, I'll come and find you as soon as I've finished my call"

About fifteen minutes later Sara walked into the lounge and fixed herself a cup of tea before sitting down next to Catherine. Finishing his story on how he and Nick had established what type of sword was used by decapitating a bunch of pigs, Grissom asked: "so did your gran know what poem it was?"

Putting her mug back on the table, Sara answered: "yeah, she'll mail me the whole poem today, but according to her it's the opening verse of 'la Ballade des Pendus' by François Villon. She said that Villon was a highly educated scholar, who moonlighted as a thief and a vagabond.

His debauched ways and belligerent attitude landed him into trouble all of the time and he was more in prison than out. He wrote the poem while he was waiting for the gallows in some Parisian gaol and it's considered to be his epitaph.

Although a last minute appeal changed his sentence to banishment from Paris, his roguish ways and humorous poems won him friends in high places, he was never heard from again. So the poem was in fact his very last.

It's a bitter testament to medieval criminal injustice, the transitory nature of life and the sorrows of the poor. Gran said it's the ultimate prayer, riddled with Christian references, but at the same time gruesome in it's clinical precision in depicting death and decay."

"Why do you think he used that particular poem? I mean, what is the killer trying to say?" Catherine asked.

"I have no idea," Sara admitted," guess I'll need to see the rest of the poem to answer that. It's a puzzling case though. I mean, on the one hand we have a murder, the killer hated the victim enough to take his life.

On the other hand, the murderer asks pity for the victim. He wants to make sure the victim's soul is saved, not only though our prayers, but also by the coins. The poem is written from the perspective of the hanged men, it's like the murderer is trying to say that the victim was a criminal too. I guess we need to know more about the poem and the life of the victim before we can adequately answer that question."

Smiling at them both, Grissom stood up and said: "on that note, I'll let you both go home. Nothing more you can do here anyway. Don't forget the team meeting before shift starts."

Chapter 27.

Watching Sara put on a clean T-shirt and jeans, Catherine patiently waited for her on the bench in the locker room. The impromptu striptease, although not intended to tantalize, made her dormant desire flare up again. All she wanted to do right now, was drag Sara home to have her wicked way with her. <How very cavewoman of me>, she mused, licking her suddenly very dry lips.

Deep down hoping that the offer would be turned down, she asked: "do you want to grab some breakfast before we go in to see Dr. Martinez? We still have a couple of hours to spare."

Getting her wallet and keys out of the locker before slamming it shut, Sara turned around and said: "I don't think I could stomach anything right now, I'm way too nervous." Looking at Catherine for the first time since they entered the locker room, Sara couldn't help but notice the way her lover was practically leering at her. Slowly closing the distance between them, she seductively purred: "I'd much rather go back to your place. I still have a promise to fulfill, remember?"

The mischievous gleam in Sara's eyes not escaping Catherine's attention, she found herself blushing at the ease with which Sara seemed to read her thoughts. <How could I possibly forget>, she pondered, remembering how turned on she was by a couple of French words seductively whispered in her ear. She audibly gulped when Sara traced her lips with a fingernail. All she could mutter was a very hoarse "I remember" before pulling Sara down for a passionate kiss.

Letting go of Sara's by now very wrinkled shirt, Catherine was immensely pleased to see she wasn't the only one affected by the kiss. Her last still functioning brain cell warning her that she'd better take Sara home before she jumped her here and now, Catherine grabbed her lover by the hand and practically dragged her out of the locker room. Totally oblivious to Greg's amused smirk and Warrick's approving grin, she marched them out of the labs, whispering: "come on, baby. Get a move on, I have a sure fire way of helping you relax."

They had already reached the car, the older woman keeping up a frantic pace, when Catherine suddenly realized something: "my place? But why? I mean, your place is closer, isn't it?"

Sniggering at Catherine's eagerness, Sara unlocked the doors and got behind the wheel before answering: "yes, my place is closer. It also has a stack of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, which is a major turn off for me. My guilty conscience would start gnawing at me and we'd only end up doing the dishes. I'd rather do them when we get back from the hospital. Besides my bike is still parked in your garage."

Keeping her hands to herself in a desperate attempt not to pounce on Sara, Catherine asked: "so you want to go back to your place afterwards?"

"Erm yeah, if you don't mind that is. Garfield and Tequila need to be fed, I have a hamper full of clothes that need to be washed and gran said she wanted to talk to me about something, so I need to be online in the late afternoon."

"Your gran knows how to use a computer?" Catherine asked utterly stupefied. When she received an exact replica of Lindsey's 'Duh' expression, she quickly explained: "it's just that one of my older aunts is roughly your gran's age and aunt Bertha wouldn't for the life of her know how to turn a computer on. I mean, the woman has trouble distinguishing between the tv remote control and her cordless phone. Your gran sounds… well, cool for lack of a better word."

"I suppose she is," Sara said, thinking about her gran. "No knitting club or tea parties for her, she'd be bored to death. Anyway, I guess she was kind of forced into using the internet. I live out here, my brother lives in New York and we both work odd hours.

She just got tired of paying hefty phone bills whenever she wanted to talk to either one of us, so she enrolled in one of those computer initiation classes." Snickering at the memory, she added: "got kicked out of class too, for flirting incessantly with one of her fellow students. But she had picked up the basics by then and learned the rest by trial and error."

Amazed at all the things she still didn't know about Sara, Catherine asked: "you have a brother?"

"Yeah," Sara said, getting a far away look in her eyes. "He's a couple of years older than me. We don't see each other all that often, but we talk regularly. But enough about Thomas, we're here. Es-tu prête pour un petit tour entre les draps?" (Are you ready for a little turn between the sheets ?)

The surprise clearly visible in her eyes, Catherine looked up to see Sara was right. They stood parked on her driveway and Sara was already making the moves to get out of the car. Frantically searching her bag for her house keys, she quickly followed her out, appreciating the light swaying of Sara's hips. The short drive over only subduing her raging hormones, she fiddled with the lock to get inside, almost dropping her keys when Sara leaned in to nibble on her ear.

Once the door was closed, she attacked Sara with animal ferocity, pinning her against the front door. Her tongue dueling with Sara's over control of the kiss, she pushed Sara's jacket to the ground. Releasing Sara's bruised and swollen lips long enough to mutter "say something in French", she moved her hands under Sara's shirt, relishing the fact that the muscles quivered and rippled beneath her touch.

Moaning softly when Catherine started sucking at her pulse point, Sara let her hands slide to Catherine's ass to pull her even closer. Feeling liquid desire course through her veins, she knew they had to move from there and quick. Otherwise they'd only end up fucking each other senseless against the front door and that really wasn't what she had in mind. She realized that they'd never make it to the bedroom and settled for Catherine's huge couch instead.

"Couch" she croaked before kissing Catherine passionately. Slowly she steered her lover backwards, slipping Catherine's jacket off of her shoulder while exploring every inch of her mouth. She trailed her fingers to the opening of Catherine's blouse ever so slowly, giving her breast a tentative squeeze before attacking the tiny buttons. Not able to open them fast enough to her liking, Sara ripped the blouse open, sending buttons flying everywhere.

Growling at Sara's unexpected aggressiveness, Catherine's knees buckled when Sara cupped a breast through her satin bra, unhurriedly rolling the nipple between her fingers. When she felt that Catherine was threatening to fall, Sara scooped her up in her arms and carried her the rest of the way. She sank down on the couch with Catherine straddling her thighs, their tongues still boldly claiming what was rightfully theirs.

Breathing raggedly, Sara broke off the kiss and reached up with one hand, her fingers sliding over Catherine's cheek to tuck some stray hairs behind her ear. Softly stroking Catherine's jaw with her thumb, her eyes ablaze with molten desire, she looked her straight in the eye before whispering reverently: "sans toi, je ne vaux absolument rien. Tu es mon tout, la seule lumière dans mon existence pathétique.

Je t'adore, tu sais ? Tus es ma rose cachée, la seule à qui j'ose avouer mes vœux et mes angoisses. Si ce serait possible, je voudrais avoir ton enfant. Je veux te voir dedans, voir tous tes petits défauts dans ses yeux, parce que je t'aime. Tu es la seule pour moi, nous avons pour nous une éternité.

Je t'aime de l'aube claire au crépuscule, je t'aimerai jusqu' à la fin de mes jours. Comme Jacques Brel l'a déjà dit bien avant moi : 'je t'offrirai des perles de pluie, venues de pays où il ne pleut pas. Je creuserai la terre jusqu'après ma mort pour couvrir ton corps d'or et de lumière.' Je t'aime ma chatte. »

Although Catherine didn't understand a word of what Sara had just said, the heartfelt honesty behind the words turned her on even more and without any hesitation she kissed Sara, a deep tongue dueling kiss full of passion and desire. Slowly they tasted each other, their tongues dangling and colliding together, leaving them moaning in each other's mouth.

Sara started trailing open mouthed kisses from Catherine's lips to her collarbone, licking her pulse point before sucking on it, marking Catherine as hers. Deftly opening Catherine's bra with one hand, she licked her lips, making Catherine moan at the lust filled look in her eyes. She ran her tongue along the curve of one breast while her fingers kneaded and massaged the other.

Catherine's nipples were rock hard. Sara flicked her tongue over it before sucking it gently, rhythmically, making Catherine arch her back. Turning her attention to the other breast, she captured the hardened nipple between her teeth, scraping over it just hard enough to elicit a yelp of surprise and a gasp of pleasure before licking it soothingly with the flat of her tongue.

Sara's fingers crawled downwards achingly slow, making Catherine's stomach flutter and quiver at the touch. She opened Catherine's slacks and pushed her hand inside, finding the thin material of the satin panties soaked with want. Catherine groaned again and began to rock against Sara's hand, inviting it to enter her. Softly sinking her teeth onto Catherine's nipple, Sara pushed the flimsy material aside and trailed a finger through the copious amounts of wetness, making Catherine whimper and resume her rocking.

Slowly she pushed a finger inside, quickly followed by a second one. Her fingers entwined like the good luck sign, she slowly ventured in and out, matching the rhythm set by Catherine's rocking hips. Still nipping and sucking at Catherine's breast, she continued to thrust her fingers in and out, pumping harder and faster each time while keeping a constant pressure on Catherine's engorged and throbbing clit with her thumb. Sliding in and out at a frantic pace, she felt the first signs of Catherine's impending orgasm and curled her fingers, finding that special spot.

Breathlessly Catherine called her name over and over again as she came, her vaginal walls clamping down tightly around Sara's fingers, trapping them motionlessly inside. Catherine was flying. The rollercoaster ride she was on carried her to the top of the world and left her writhing in ecstasy.

Riding out the last of the waves, she kissed Sara passionately before slumping against her shoulder. Her breathing still erratic, she eased back so Sara could retract her still trapped fingers and moaned loudly when she saw Sara licking them clean.

The exquisite taste of Catherine's juices coating her fingers not nearly enough to satisfy her, Sara sat up straighter, taking Catherine with her. "I need to taste you ma chatte," she whispered, making Catherine shudder. Snaking her arms around Catherine, she turned her over, laying her flat on her back on the couch. She pulled Catherine's slacks down along with her panties and put two cushions underneath her to get a better angle before sinking to her knees on the floor.

Kissing her way up Catherine's leg, she nibbled on her thigh, making her quiver in anticipation. With her hands on Catherine's hips, she placed her tongue flat and broad against the base of her slit and slowly pulled her tongue upwards. She lapped softly, flicking her tongue over Catherine's clit achingly slow, enticing it to come out and play some more.

With tender strokes she got Catherine to call out her name, gyrating her hips at Sara's incessant tongue. Moaning loudly Catherine felt her orgasm come closer and closer until Sara stopped her ministrations just torturous inches away from release. When Catherine growled in protest, Sara really got down to business, increasing the pace with every stroke until she was lapping in earnest like a cat licking cream from it's bowl, reveling in the sweet nectar offered.

Swirling her tongue through the moisture, she snaked her tongue upwards, licking Catherine's clit before sucking it in her mouth, making Catherine cry out in delight. Feeling the end was near, she replaced her tongue with her thumb, making hard eights on the pulsating clit. She licked her way down again and pushed her tongue inside, immediately feeling the spasms of Catherine's release under her open mouth.

Gently coaxing her down from her high, her tongue darted out to taste the oozing honey. Licking her clean before crawling her way up Catherine's spent and worn out body, she sucked the still rock hard nipples before kissing Catherine passionately.

Enjoying the taste of her own juices mixed with something uniquely Sara, Catherine kissed her languidly, her tongue roaming all over Sara's mouth. "Your turn beautiful", she said, snaking her hands underneath Sara's shirt. When Sara stopped her roaming hands, she looked up confused until she saw Sara's dilated eyes.

"We don't have that much time left, we'd better take this to the shower, "Sara said.

"Don't worry angel, you'll be on time for your appointment," Catherine husked, "and fully relaxed to boot."

Translation of the French: without you, I'm worth nothing. You are my everything, the only light in my otherwise pathetic existence. I adore you, you know? You're my hidden rose, the only one I dare to admit my wishes and fears to. If it was at all possible, I'd like to have your child. I want to see you in our child, see all your tiny faults in his eyes, because I love you. I love you from the break of day to nightfall, I'll love you to the end of my days. As Jacques Brel said it way before me: 'I'd offer you pearls of rain coming from countries where it doesn't rain. I'd dig the earth until my last day to cover your body with gold and light.' I love you, my kitten.

Jacques Brel quote: excerpt from "Ne me quitte pas »

Slightly out of breath after the brisk walk through the hospital, Catherine having trouble keeping up with Sara's longer strides, they politely nodded to the three other women present in Dr. Martinez's waiting room and sank down on the comfortable couch. They were totally oblivious to the women's stares: one of them was clearly disapproving, the woman's face so puckered that you'd think she had just sucked on a lemon while another stare was definitely appreciating with a clear tinge of jealousy. Catherine took Sara's hand into her own and rubbing it soothingly with her thumb she whispered: "see? I told you we would get here on time. We still have a couple of minutes to spare."

Still slightly annoyed at being pressed for time, Sara grumbled: "only because I drove like a bat out of hell to get here. I'm surprised we didn't get pulled over, I was definitely setting some new speed records."

"You worry too much Sara," Catherine chuckled and with a devious waggling of her eyebrows she added: "I found the ride very invigorating, both of them in fact. You've got to admit that few extra minutes in the shower was worth it. I mean, you're totally relaxed now, aren't you?"

"Well yeah, I suppose so," Sara admitted in defeat. "It's just that I hate being late. I'd rather be fifteen minutes early than one minute late."

"That's because you're a control freak," Catherine smirked. "That's not healthy, you know? You'll get an ulcer that way, you're rushing to your own death. You need to go with the flow a bit more, babe. You can't plan your life to the very last minute, you need to live and enjoy it."

Sara wanted to respond to the slight ribbing but a pretty young nurse, a non siliconed version of Pamela Anderson, called out her name. Hand in hand they walked over, again totally oblivious to the dagger looks the woman on the right was throwing them. "Perverted queers," the woman hissed under her breath. "You're all an abomination in the eye of God. People like you don't deserve to have children."

Feeling all her hackles rise, Sara turned around, her nostrils flaring and her eyes spewing fire. You could hear a pin drop in the room, everybody waiting to see how the clearly unbelievably angry Sara would react to that bigoted comment. Sara, fuming over the indignant remark, was just about to launch a full blown verbal attack when Catherine whispered: "don't, you're playing into her hands. She's not worth it, babe. In the bigger scheme of life, her opinion hardly matters, does it?"

Feeling her anger and indignation diminish with every stroke of Catherine's thumb, she whispered back: "I know. I just don't want people talking about you like that."

"My knight in shining armor," Catherine murmured. "If us holding hands gets the hag upset, let's give her something to be outraged about." Taking a totally startled Sara into her arms, she kissed her shamelessly.

Being caught off guard Sara resisted for a second, but soon relented to Catherine's probing tongue. Moaning softly, she wrapped her arms around Catherine and kissed her back. They were still standing there in the middle of the waiting room, their arms awkwardly around each other as the crash helmets prevented a full embrace, when Abbie Martinez, who had witnessed the whole scene, coughed before saying: "well, well, well. Isn't this a sight for sore eyes? Sara Sidle. You caught yourself another life wire I see."

Leaping out of Catherine's embrace, Sara turned a lovely shade of red and squeaked out: "Abbie." Returning the woman's bright smile, she gave her a big hug. Taking Catherine's hand again, she followed Abbie out to her office and asked: "how are you and Rick doing?"

"We're doing just fine. We're getting married in August. You're coming, aren't you? The both of you?" Abbie asked, trying to include Catherine into the conversation.

Properly chastised, Sara said: "sorry about that. Abbie, this is Catherine Willows, my girlfriend. Catherine, this is Abbie, doc extraordinaire and the only one Mel ever lusted after and didn't get into bed."

Chuckling at the truth behind that remark, Abbie cordially shook Catherine's hand before asking: "how's the spitfire doing anyway? I haven't seen her in a while. We talk, but it's mostly on patient related matters."

"She's just fine. She's fallen in love with a fire inspector and she's thinking long term for once."

"Oh how the mighty have fallen," Abbie howled. "Miss hump and dump 'em struck by Cupid's arrow. P-FLAG mothers in the greater Las Vegas area must have heaved a big sigh of relief that day, she was going through their daughters faster than the speed of light."

Having heard from Mel's reputation through Sara and Greg, Catherine had to laugh at that. "Of course I don't know Mel as well as the two of you," she said, "but from what I've seen she seems totally smitten with Alex. The way she behaves around her, the way she hangs onto every word, it's just too cute."

"Mel and too cute. Two things I never thought I'd hear in the same sentence," Abbie snorted. "Anyway, enough about Mel. You're here about a second opinion?"

"Yes, I called Mel about two weeks ago because I kept having cramps and dizzy spells, I couldn't stop throwing up and I was a couple of days late. Because we thought I had another ovarian cyst or something, she did an ultrasound. To my big surprise she announced that I was pregnant."

"Why to your big surprise? I mean, all the symptoms were there and you said yourself that you were late," Abbie interrupted, taking notes.

"I've been irregular all of my life, so being a few days late really didn't worry me. Besides I always thought I couldn't have any children. I had an ovary removed when I was seventeen because a cyst had twisted itself around it and threatened to become cancerous.

My other ovary is in slightly better condition: there were a couple of small cysts, but non threatening ones. Still the gynaecologist's verdict was that my chances of ever conceiving a child were slim to none. Anyway, I had the symptoms I had then, so I naturally assumed it was another malignant cyst. I nearly fell out of my chair when she told me I was pregnant, it really knocked me for a loop."

"So this isn't a planned pregnancy? Through artificial insemination I mean?"

"Erm no," Sara replied, "it was a natural conception. Mel said that I was about seven weeks along and that sounded about right. I mean, counting back to when Hank and I last… you know."

"Okay, let's take a look for ourselves, shall we? Hop on the table, would you?" When Sara did as she was told and laid down, Abbie laughingly said: "hold your horses there Slugger. As much as I love to see you all leathered up, you'd better lose the pants and jacket before I examine you. There's a cubicle over there where you can change."

Turning beet red, Catherine's soft snicker not really helping matters, Sara hopped off again and went to change. When she returned, only wearing a T-shirt and panties, Abbie said: "much better." Making herself comfortable on the hard table, bunching her shirt up, Sara silently asked Catherine to come over for moral support. Taking Catherine's hand into her own, she then looked over to all the equipment Abbie was getting ready for use.

Pouring a fair amount of conducting gel on Sara's belly, Abbie warned: "now this may be cold and wet, but it doesn't stain. We can all follow on that monitor, okay?" Receiving a nod from Catherine and Sara, she put the transducer on Sara's abdomen and started tracing it all around, trying to find the clearest picture. "What tests did Mel do?" she asked.

"She just excluded ectopic pregnancy and looked at the crown rump length for dating. According to Mel I was seven weeks along."

Looking at the monitor, Abbie said: "that would make it about nine weeks now. That sounds about right. The only other thing we can do at this stage is confirm the cardiac pulsation. As you can clearly hear, the baby's heart is beating really fast. That's a very good sign. From nine weeks onwards, the heart beat of a fetus should be between 140 to 170 beats per minute. A lower bpm means that the baby's bradycardic."

"And that's bad?" Catherine asked.

"Not necessarily, no. You can still have a perfectly healthy baby, but the risk of miscarriage is slightly higher, so we need to monitor those pregnancies more closely. But that doesn't seem to be the case here, the heart beat is fast and steady."

"This might sound a bit odd," Sara began, "but am I having twins?"

"Oh, did Mel say something about elevated HCG-levels? That's usually indicative of multiple pregnancies…," Abbie inquired.

"Erm no", Catherine answered before Sara could, "it's a long but incredibly weird story, but someone told Sara that she's having twins and we just wanted to see if she's right."

Not even raising a brow at the request, Abbie said: "ok, let's see." Swirling the transducer around, prodding all over Sara's belly, she said: "well, I'll be damned, hello baby number two. Congratulations Sara, you're having twins."

"How come Mel didn't pick this up during the first ultrasound?" a curious Catherine asked.

"Seven weeks is a bit early to spot multiple pregnancies. An ultrasound done too early can result in one of the babies going undetected. They sometimes hide behind each other. If you hadn't asked me to check, I wouldn't have seen it today either."

Pushing a button to freeze the screen, she continued: "as you can clearly see here, there are two gestational sacs, which means you're having dichorionic twins. Monochorionic twins are connected to each other through the placenta which results in a risky pregnancy because of the life-threatening complications that may occur. Dichorionic twins aren't connected like that, but have their very own gestational sac, greatly reducing the risks.

It also means you're having fraternal twins. It's a little early to see their sex, you'll have to come back in a month or so if you want to know that. But they're perfectly healthy babies. Okay Sara, you can get dressed again," Abbie said, handing Sara some tissue to wipe away the goo. "All we need to do now is schedule your next appointment and take a look at your medical history."

By the time Sara was dressed again and taking her seat next to Catherine, Abbie had already called up Sara's medical file. Browsing through the file with a few clicks of the mouse, she mumbled: "okay, nothing to worry about in here." Turning around to face them again, Alex asked: "this might seem like an impertinent question, but what about the father? Are you two still in contact? It's just that it might be interesting to get a hold of his medical background relating to congenital diseases. You know, to see what we're dealing with."

At the mention of Hank, Sara tensed but when Catherine squeezed her hand reassuringly, she answered: "the father and I are no longer on speaking terms, so I'm afraid I can't help you there. Sorry."

"That's okay," Abbie said. "How about your family? Any diseases that you know of?"

When Sara tensed again, Catherine didn't understand and looked at her lover questioningly. Noticing the uncomfortable look on Sara's face, she tried to reassure her: "it's okay Sara. You can always call your parents or your gran and ask. Abbie doesn't need to know right away."

"It's not that. It's just that I can't give you my family's medical background. I mean, sure I can call up my parents, but that wouldn't really help. I mean, what I'm trying to say is that I'm adopted. I have no idea who my parents are, let alone what their medical history is like."

Trying to break the uncomfortable silence – Catherine was sitting there shell shocked at Sara's third secret of the day while Sara was embarrassed at having to divulge her biggest secret – Abbie said: "Oh well, look…it's really not that important, okay? Don't worry about it. Erm because you're 33 Sara, it's important that we test the babies for Down syndrome, so I'd like you to come back in four weeks time, okay? Just make an appointment with my secretary, she knows when I'm here."

Getting up from behind her desk, Abbie walked over to Sara and gave her a big hug. "It's so good to see you again, Slugger. Take care of yourself, okay? I'll see you in four weeks time."

Having scheduled Sara's next appointment with the secretary, Catherine and Sara were walking back to Sara's motorcycle in silence. Waiting for the elevator to arrive, Catherine said: "We need to talk about this Sara."

"I know," Sara sighed. "We have a lot to talk about: when we're going to tell the rest of the family, my adoption, me having twins, … But would you mind waiting until this afternoon? It's just that I'm too tired for a deep and meaningful at the moment."

Seeing the dark circles marring Sara's face again, Catherine acquiesced and said: "sure babe, we're both tired. Let's go home."

Chapter 28.

Waking up in a sweat after a ghastly nightmare, Sara was in no particular hurry to drift back to sleep. She was shaken to the core and needed a couple of minutes to compose herself again. In her dream a giant crystal blue eyeball tracked her every move, making it virtually impossible to escape the evil clutches of the army of hostile androids chasing her.

No matter where she ran or hid, the tin can bastards kept popping up, continuously saying "we've got to talk" in their mechanical, monotonous voice. In the end there was nowhere left to run and cornered against a wall too high for her to climb, Sara got overpowered by two robots.

The androids simply grabbed her by the arms and frogmarched her to an ominous looking military hangar. Shoved down to her knees, Sara looked up to see the hangar filled to the hilt with state of the art medical equipment. Next thing she knew the androids surrounding her cowered away, making way for the big and rather vicious looking android stepping up to her.

Clearly the chief of the troop, he pulled her chin up and snarled when she looked him defiantly in the eye. "An excellent specimen. Prepare her for dissection," he barked before donning a surgical shirt and latex gloves. Two androids pulled her to her feet and dragged her over to a corner of the hangar.

Strapped down on an operating table, duct tape over her mouth to stop her from screaming, Sara anxiously awaited her fate. Then the chief stepped up to the table, his blunt and rusty scalpel glimmering in the light. Rightfully fearing for her life, she tried to inch away from the surgical knife, but the straps were just too tight.

Just before the scalpel plunged into her the face of the Chief shapeshifted into Catherine's. To Sara's great horror she was forced to watch her lover dissect her, a vicious snarl marring Catherine's face. Using the overhead lights as a mirror, Sara was confronted with her biggest fear: she had no reflection.

Sara realized that the nightmare was induced by her impending talk to Catherine. To say she wasn't looking forward to it is like saying the Pope is catholic: the complete truth, but also the understatement of the century.

She felt ill at ease at the thought of opening up completely to someone, even if that person was Catherine, whom she loved more than life itself. Letting someone know her darkest secrets and her innermost fears was simply inconceivable to Sara. It would leave her in a far too precarious and vulnerable position.

She feared that others would gain some kind of leverage over her, so she desperately held on to her last bit of self control and erected an impenetrable wall to protect herself. She was so used to her defense mechanism that she did it on automatic pilot, shutting out even the people she loved.

Previous lovers had often complained that they never really got to know her. They felt that they barely scratched the surface, hitting a brick wall as soon as they dug deeper. In hindsight Sara had to admit they were right, she did shut them out.

Catherine was different though, Sara knew she had to let her in or she would lose her forever. She even wanted to open up to Catherine, but that still didn't mean that she felt comfortable or happy about it. But now, after thinking about it rationally, she also realized that Catherine would be there for her no matter what, which made the talk easier to come to terms with. She still wasn't looking forward to it, but the thought no longer filled her with fear.

Her anxiety over the nightmare fading and her heartbeat returning to normal, Sara realized that going back to sleep was no longer an option: she was wide awake by now. One look at the alarm clock told her that it was nearly time to get up anyway, so she expertly extricated herself from Catherine's engulfing embrace and slipped out of bed.

Desperately needing a strong cup of tea to chase away the lingering images of her nightmare, Sara pulled on her nightgown and padded to the kitchen, only to find the dirty dishes still cluttering up the sink. They had both been too damn tired that morning and had gone straight into the bedroom, curling up around each other for a well deserved rest.

Sara knew she wouldn't enjoy her tea as long as the dirty cups and plates were staring back at her, so she rolled up the sleeves of her nightgown and poured some dishwater soap in the sink. She turned on the radio to the local oldies station and was soon rinsing pots and pans, sashaying her hips to the infectious beat.

The dishes over and done with, she took her tea to the living room. Picking up the newspaper from her doorstep, she plopped down on the couch, adjusting some cushions to make herself comfortable. She always saved the funnies for last, knowing she'd need a little pick me up after reading about the dreadful things happening in the world.

By the time she was chuckling about Hägar's condescending remarks and Garfield's legendary laziness, her mug was empty and the nightmare a distant memory. Right on cue her very own Garfield made an appearance and started begging her for food. Scratching the purring cat behind the ear, she went back to the kitchen to fix him something to eat

"You're a spoilt brat Garfield," she muttered. "You do know that, don't you? Any other cat would be content munching on some dry cat grains, but not you. No, your royal highness insists on having fish at least once a week. Well you're in luck today, I just happen to have some tuna. Does that tickle your demanding taste buds?"

She looked at the cat expectantly and had to snort when he threw her a condescending look. It seemed that all Garfields had that trick down to pat. Giving the cat one final scratch, she got up from her crouched position. And looked around for Tequila. Not immediately finding her, she abandoned her search and decided to put some wash in. She was sure Catherine would sleep through it. Hell, the woman would even sleep through canons going off beside her if she was sleepy enough.

Remembering that she still had some dirty laundry in the bedroom, she tiptoed in and chuckled at the sight: Catherine still very much in the land of nod, sharing her pillow with an equally sleeping Tequila. Thinking that this was too good an opportunity to miss, she silently took her camera out of the crap drawer and snapped a picture.

The washing machine soon doing it's job, Sara realized that she still had some time before school was finished. A good long soak in the bath is just what the doctor ordered, she disappeared into the bathroom.

When Catherine woke up it was eerily quiet, the only sound to be heard the rhythmic thumping of the washing machine and the distant noise of the busy bustle outside. She kept her eyes shut for a minute longer, not quite ready to face the world just yet. She was still getting used to waking up alone, despite being in a relationship.

Although Sara had reluctantly admitted that she tired more easily and slept longer hours nowadays, she was still up way before Catherine, usually doing something around the house. Sara had to keep herself busy all the time it seemed, she was far too restless to stay in bed twiddling her thumbs if she could be doing something else instead.

If Catherine was honest, she had to admit that she missed a warm body to cuddle during half slumber, the reassuring presence of someone next to you or the whispered conversations when you desperately want to keep real life at bay for just a little while longer. She found it a great shame that she didn't get to do that with Sara, but vowed to change that.

She felt that Sara was racing through life, not standing still long enough to enjoy the simple things. Planning her life to the very last minute, she lost track of the tiny details that make life worthwhile. To Catherine it seemed that Sara ran from one thing to another to keep her mind busy, to avoid remembering her so called failures. Simply said, Sara was running away.

Catherine vowed to change Sara's way of thinking, even if it meant tackling every insecurity that plagued her lover or breaking down the walls she had erected brick by brick. For she knew that Sara kept up this blind approach to life because she was scared to death of getting hurt. She realized that it was a gigantic task to undertake, it would take a lot of time and effort to slow Sara down and get her to open up, but she was definitely worth it.

The glimpses of the real Sara she'd seen had tugged at her heart strings: the emotional way she had declared her love in French, her nervous rambling when she had offered her the ring, even the spooked and embarrassed look when she was forced to admit that she's adopted. It had all reinforced her desire to talk to Sara.

Although they were together for nearly two weeks, she only knew a little more about Sara. Apart from a few snippets here and there, mostly blurted out accidentally, Sara was still very much the enigma she had always been. Catherine didn't complain about the two weeks she had spent at Sara's side, on the contrary they were the best ever, but… they hadn't really sat down and talked to each other.

Although Catherine realized that her skittish and withdrawn lover would be spooked to the core, she intended on having a deep and meaningful conversation with Sara later that day. <She'll probably think that the honeymoon's over,> Catherine snorted.

Deciding that it was time to face the world, Catherine slowly cracked an eye open only to have a near death experience from fright when she saw two deep green eyes staring back at her. She clutched her hand to her heart as if to stop the accelerated beating and chuckled when the sudden movement scared Tequila into hiding under the dresser.

Once she had composed herself again, she crawled out of bed and went in search of the note she was sure Sara left behind. Spotting it on the kitchen table, she read:

Good afternoon, Sleepyhead.

About time you got up. I've popped out to pick up Lindsey and then we'll just make a quick stop at Greg's before coming home.



P.S: in case you're wondering what happened to your clothes, I put them in the machine with mine. I put some of mine out for you, I'm sure they'll fit.

Looking at the kitchen clock, Catherine knew it would be a while before her girls were back. Greg was worse than a fishwife sometimes, no doubt he wouldn't let them escape any time soon. Enjoying having the place to herself, she decided to laze around for a bit. Pouring herself a cup of coffee, almost drooling over the exquisite taste, she couldn't help thinking that Sara must have stolen some of Greg's special Hawaiian blend.

She sat down at the kitchen table and started reading the newspaper, unknowingly mimicking Sara's earlier actions. By the time she was finished, half an hour had passed and Catherine knew that she'd better get ready. Rinsing the empty mug, she padded to the bathroom, knowing a hot bath would help chase the last cobwebs away.

Feeling like a whole new person, Catherine emerged from the bathroom some time later wearing a pair of Sara's sweats. She knew she looked ridiculous in them, for one thing the pants were too long and the sweater too baggy, but she didn't plan on wearing the Taz sweats for long. She had taken an extra pair of clothes with her when they left her place that morning, but for now the sweats would do nicely. She didn't plan on doing anything other than laze around anyway.

The lazing around proved harder than she thought though, for once not forced to do anything around the house, she was at a loss what to do. Unused to the peace and quiet Sara's apartment offered, her house was always filled with either annoying teenage music or crazy cartoon sounds, she had already turned the radio on just to have some background noise.

She decided against watching television, knowing nothing of real interest was on at this time of day and reading one of Sara's many novels didn't appeal to her. She had just plopped down on the couch, almost giving the snoring Garfield a heart attack, when her eye fell on Sara's laptop. She got up to fetch it before sitting down again, not noticing how Garfield scurried away to avoid getting squished. Starting up the laptop Catherine was relieved to see it wasn't password protected, knowing Sara the code it would have been impossible to crack. Archie she was not.

She was navigating the internet, looking up some information about multiple pregnancies and what to expect, when a soft bling let her know that someone had sent her a message through Aim. Not quite sure what to do, whoever was talking to her thought she was Sara, she let her curiosity get the better of her and opened the blinking window.

Supergran: Slugger, there you are. Finally!!! I thought that you'd never log on. I'm not getting any younger over here, you know.

Immediately realizing that she had Sara's gran on messenger and that this was a golden opportunity to find out more about Sara, she thought she'd better let the woman know who she was before inconspicuously pumping her for information. She didn't know how much Sara had told her gran about the two of them, so she decided to keep things casual. Wiggling her fingers to loosen them up a bit, she started typing.

Ouroboros: Hi, this isn't Sara. My name's Catherine and I'm a friend of Sara's. She's not here I'm afraid.

Supergran: Merde. I really need to talk to her. Do you know when she'll be back?

Ouroboros: I'm not sure, she said she'd drop by Greg's before coming home.

Supergran: say no more. I love Greg dearly, but boy can he talk. He's the biggest gossip I've ever met and that's saying something. She could be hours. Oh well, can't be helped. Anyway, it's a real pleasure to talk to the woman who captured my Sara's heart.

Ouroboros: you know who I am?

Supregran: of course I do, Sara tells me everything. Slugger can't shut up about you. Even before you two got together, it was always Catherine this and Catherine that. I knew she was in love with you before she realized it herself. Lord only knows why she hooked up with that slimy bastard Hank. But anyway, indulge an old woman and answer me this: do you love her too?

Ouroboros: yes.

Supergran: short, to the point and without any hesitation. I like that. Don't worry, that's the one and only impertinent question I'll ask. I'm not in the habit of meddling in Sara's life, she's old enough to make her own decisions. I just wanted to make sure that she doesn't get hurt again, you know?

Ouroboros: I understand your concern, but I can assure you that I'll never deliberately set out to hurt Sara. I love her with all my heart.

Supergran: with that said, let me be the first one to welcome you to the family. You'll soon realize that we're completely nuts, but not to worry: we're relatively harmless.

Ouroboros: thanks for the warm welcome…. Erm I'm not sure what to call you?

Supergran: gran is just fine, but if you insist on calling me your empress, who am I to stop you?

Ouroboros: lol I think I'll stick to gran if it's all the same. So gran, why do you call Sara 'Slugger'? I mean, you're not the only one to call her that, Abbie and Mel do too.

Supergran: ah Sara's Slugger nickname. Well there are two reasons for that. When Sara was about six years old, my husband and Thomas were playing baseball in the backyard. Frank, that was my husband, wanted to teach Thomas how to throw a fast ball. Sara was fed up with playing all by herself and had asked Frank if she could join in. Thomas teased her by saying that she'd never be able to hit his ball.

Well, that's simply something you can't say to Sara. She hates being made fun of and never backs away from a challenge. She grabbed the baseball bat, took up her position and tauntingly told Thomas to give it his best shot, with a defiant smirk on her face.

Of course she hit the ball and quite hard too for it crashed through my kitchen window to land right in the middle of the tomato soup I was making. Since then everybody in the family just calls her Slugger.

Mel calls her Slugger for an entirely different reason however. As a birthday surprise Mel took Sara to a very posh restaurant and when Mel couldn't read the menu, Sara gallantly offered to order for the both of them. Little did Mel know that one of Sara's favorite French dishes is sea snails and oysters.

So when the first dish arrived, a rather green around the gills Mel sprinted to the bathroom, leaving a stupefied Sara with two plates. She's called Sara Slugger ever since. So how's Mel doing these days anyway? It's been ages since I've last seen her.

Ouroboros: I don't know whether Sara told you already, but Mel's in love.

Supergran: No! You're kidding me, right? I always call her 'papillon d'amour' or love butterfly because she flutters from one woman to the next and now you tell me she's in love? Tell me everything!

Ouroboros: well see, it's like this….

Catherine continued chatting with gran for over an hour, finding out a lot more about Sara through anecdotal stories. Promising that she'd have Sara call her back later that evening, she logged off, totally forgetting about her earlier intention of navigating the net. She had just gone into the kitchen to get herself a drink when Sara and Lindsey burst through the door, talking animatedly about guitars.

A bit non-plussed about the strange topic, she walked towards them and greeted Sara with a chaste kiss and a sultry "hi babe". Turning towards her daughter while Sara disappeared into the kitchen, she asked: "so pumpkin how was your day?"

"Really cool, mom. Sara took me to see Greg. At first Greg wasn't at all pleased to see us, I think we woke him up or something, but then Sara said he'd better stick to their deal or she'd double his days of slavery. Anyway, Sara rehearsed in the garage while Greg made me some pancakes. They were really yummy too, Greg said he…."

Curious as to what Sara could be rehearsing in Greg's garage, Catherine interrupted her daughter. "Rehearsed? Rehearsed what?"

Standing in the kitchen door with a steaming cup of tea, Sara answered: "playing the guitar. I need to start rehearsing if I don't want to be a complete laughing stock in a couple of months time. Greg lives in the middle of nowhere, so no neighbors complaining about excess noise."

"Yes, it was so cool, mom," Lindsey gushed. "After a while Greg joined in too and then Sara sang a song by Justin Timberlake just for me." Suddenly remembering something, the girl continued: "hey Sara, do you think Mel still has that CD?"

"I'm sure she does, short stuff. She always hangs onto incriminating evidence like that. I'll ask her next time I see her, okay?"

Lindsey nodded and disappeared into the lounge to start up Sara's playstation, muttering something about beating Greg's high score. Knowing that Lindsey would be in a little world of her own for the foreseeable future, Sara pulled Catherine to her and whispered "hello lover, I missed you" before kissing her passionately. With a last chaste kiss on the lips, Sara slowly turned around and walked to the kitchen.

"Where are you going?" Catherine asked in a whiny voice, clearly not expecting Sara's retreat.

"You look adorable when you pout", Sara smirked, "especially when you're wearing my Taz outfit."

"Bite me," Catherine replied, sticking her tongue out.

"Oh I fully intend to when Short Stuff's at your sister's," Sara husked, suggestively waggling her eyebrows. Turning serious again, she continued: "I just thought that we could have our little talk in the kitchen while I make dinner. You know, kill two birds with one stone?"

A bit surprised that Sara brought up the talk herself, she really thought that she'd have to force her into it, Catherine followed her lover to the kitchen. Sitting down at the kitchen table, she watched her starting to dice some peppers. She understood that Sara used the vegetable cutting as an attempt to hide her nerves and unease and so she didn't say anything about it.

For a couple of minutes the only sound to be heard, was the rhythmic dicing of peppers. Catherine realized that although Sara had proposed to have their talk, she clearly wasn't going to be the one to start. Clearing her throat, she began: "I know that we haven't been together all that long and that we're really only getting to know each other, but… I don't mean to say that it hasn't been fun, on the contrary I've loved every minute I've spent with you, but… we didn't exactly take the time to talk to each other, did we? I mean, really talk to each other.

I want to know everything about you, what makes you laugh, what makes you sad, … I find out new things about you every day, things that make me fall in love with you even more, but I feel like I find them out by accident. I'd much rather hear them from you. I don't expect you to tell me everything today, I just wanted you to know that you can talk to me about anything, I'm always there for you."

Expertly chopping an onion, Sara answered: "I know that you're there for me, it's just that I'm so used to taking care of things myself. Besides I find it very hard to open up about certain things. It's not like I deliberately set out to exclude you, it's just that …. Some things just can't be said in a casual conversation, you know?

Babe, could you pass me the peas? Oh and by the way, did you know that I had an ovary removed when I was seventeen? Or maybe something like this: hi honey, I love that color on you and did you know that my parents adopted me when I was three months old? I know I'm exaggerating, but you know what I mean.

I agree however that we need to talk about things, not only about my adoption, but also about my family and that we need to decide when we're going to tell Nancy and Lindsey that I'm pregnant.

Maybe we'd better start with my adoption. I didn't mean for you to find out like that, I swear. I just never thought Abbie would be asking about my family's medical condition. Barring Abbie, you're the only one who knows that I'm adopted. I've never told anyone, not even Mel. She knows that Thomas is adopted, but like everybody else she just assumed that I'm my parent's biological daughter and I never really corrected her."

"How come nobody knows? I mean they seem to know about Thomas, why not about you?" Catherine gently asked.

"Well, Thomas is Hispanic, so everybody knew by just looking at him. They adopted me first when I was only three months old and moved to Tamales Bay a month later, so all the neighbors just assumed that I was theirs. They adopted Thomas when I was about four, he was ten then.

"Why haven't you ever told anyone?" was Catherine's next question.

Lighting the gas cooker, Sara put some butter in a pot while thinking about Catherine's question. Shrugging she said: "I don't know, several reasons I guess. First of all, like I already said, it's not something you can casually drop into a conversation. Besides, I really do see my adoptive parents as my parents.

Although somewhere in the back of my head I'll always know that I'm adopted, it's not something you're likely to forget, I consider Linda and Mark to be my parents. I mean, they raised me, they loved me and were always there for me when I needed them. They consoled me when life got me down, they supported me when I took up soccer, they cried when I graduated from Harvard and they stood behind me when I came out to them. Maybe they didn't give birth to me, but they're my parents in every other way.

Another reason is shame, it's not something you can easily admit, not even to yourself. You know, my birth mother gave me up for adoption the day I was born, I checked the papers. Talk about the ultimate rejection, huh? I could never understand that and now that I'm pregnant myself, I understand it even less.

I mean, she carried me inside of her for nine months and then the day I'm born she just gives me away, like I'm a sack of potatoes or something. I couldn't get my head around that and I still can't in fact. You can't imagine what it feels like to know that your own mother didn't want you, that she didn't even love you enough to make a go of it."

"You're assuming a lot here," Catherine said. "I mean, I'm a mother myself and I can't imagine the anguish your mother must have gone through when she made that decision and is still going through now. Knowing that you have a daughter out there somewhere, but not knowing if she's doing okay, if she's happy,… That must be hell on earth. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

I think you're skimming over your mother's choices and feelings at the time too lightly. I'm not saying that she did the right thing by giving you up for adoption, personally I would never have done that, but I'm sure she had her reasons. No woman would give her own child up without a good reason.

As long as you don't know anything about her, about the situation she was in at that time, you can't really judge her. Of course that's very easy for me to say, after all I'm not in your shoes, but that's my opinion. Have you ever thought about trying to find your birth mother?"

"Yes quite often actually, especially when I hit puberty," came Sara's immediate answer. "I didn't do anything about it though. As a teenager, you try to build up an identity of your own. You look at the people around you, you try out several roles and then you incorporate all those beliefs, ideas and values into a blend of your own.

Puberty was especially hard for me because of my adoption. Not only was I struggling with the typical adolescent anxieties, I also experienced this profound feeling of loss and abandonment. I felt I didn't belong, I couldn't figure out who I was, I felt alienated from everybody. All because the two primary role models of socialization, my birth parents, weren't there.

I didn't know anything about them. This may sound a bit ridiculous, but when I looked into a mirror I saw nothing. I felt totally empty, like I had no reflection because I couldn't say 'oh I have my dad's nose' or 'I chew my lip just like my mom does'.

That's when I started thinking about tracing my birth mother. I even contacted a support group to get some tips and advice, but in the end I couldn't go through with it. On the one hand, I felt that I was betraying my mom. Although my mom assured me that she was behind me every step of the way, I just couldn't do that to her. It would have hurt her immensely, she'd have felt like she wasn't good enough for me. I had a million questions I wanted to ask my birth mother, I just didn't want it to be at the expense of my mom's feelings.

On the other hand I was afraid. Well scared to death actually. Afraid of what I might find out, the answers I'd get, but especially afraid that I would be rejected again. I don't think I would have survived a second rejection by my birth mother at that time, my ego was already very fragile. So in the end I just didn't go through with it.

"How about now? How do you feel about tracing your birth mother now?" Catherine asked.

Well, I must admit that I've thinking about it lately, probably because I'm going to be a mother myself. I'm curious about her, but at the same time I'm still scared to death. I'm terrified of being rejected. But I guess I'd know for sure then. I don't know, I have to think about it some more."

"Whatever you decide," Catherine said, "I just want you to know that I'm 100% behind you. If you decide to trace her, I'll support you. If you decide not to, I won't pressure you. It's your decision."

"Thanks," Sara said. "I really appreciate that. How about we finish our conversation after dinner? All this talking has given me an appetite. Will you call Lindsey while I finish the sauce?"

"Sure, babe."

Chapter 29.

When Nancy and Lindsey were out the door, her sister dropping by especially early to take Lindsey to the movies, Catherine went into the kitchen to fix them something to drink. She knew how much Sara missed drinking coffee and didn't want to torture her with the divine aroma when she couldn't have any and so resigned herself to drinking tea instead.

In all honesty she couldn't stand the stuff, it smelled like sweat socks and tasted even worse, but she'd much rather drink the vile potion than have Sara drooling next to her. Bringing the mugs to the lounge, she noticed that Sara was engrossed in a documentary on national geographic channel. She placed the mugs on the table and asked: "what's it about?"

Distractedly Sara looked up and said: "it seems that some people are immune to AIDS, they are HIV+ but they never develop AIDS, which has prominent virologists baffled. They think that the immunity has something to do with mutated genes. The same thing happened with the bubonic plague. Although whole villages were quarantined, effectively closed off to the rest of the world and all the inhabitants were expected to die, still some of the villagers survived against all odds.

They're now tracing the descendants of those survivors to check their DNA. They want to know how nature provided this biological immunity as it might hold a clue to the cure of AIDS. Anyway, it's a repeat, I've seen the documentary before. We can watch it if you want or we could continue our talk?"

Watching Sara turn down the volume, Catherine sat down next to her and said: "I forgot to mention it before, but I chatted with your gran earlier. I was using your laptop, so she thought that you had come online and sent me a message. We just got to talking, I hope you don't mind.

Slapping her forehead, Sara groaned: "gran. I totally forgot about her. I planned on talking to her when I got back from Greg's, but it slipped my mind. Anyway, what did she say? Did you get some dirt on me?"

"Well, now I know why everybody calls you slugger, if that's what you mean," Catherine laughed. "But seriously, she only said positive things about you. She even officially welcomed me to the family. She does want you to call her back though, she said to tell you that it's rather urgent and that she'd be home after eleven tonight."

"I wonder what that's all about," Sara muttered, "guess I'll find out tonight. Anyway, when do you want to tell the guys at work and Nancy and Lindsey that I'm pregnant? I mean, the guys at work can probably wait a bit longer. Personally I'd only tell them when I start showing, but Nancy and Lindsey? I want to tell them before they find out from someone else, you know what a blabbermouth Greg can be."

"I agree about work, they don't even know that we're together yet, so maybe we should tell Nick and Grissom about us, before we announce your pregnancy. Nancy and Lindsey, well we can tell them tomorrow if you want," Catherine said.

"I wonder how they'll react to the news? I don't want Lindsey to feel left out, you know? It's not like I'll love her any less, but she might not see it that way. And Nancy, I hope she doesn't see me as a leech."

"A leech?" Catherine laughed.

"Yeah, she might think that I'm just using you, that I don't really love you, that I'm only with you because I need a second parent or a cheap babysitter or something. I'm sure that she won't want you to be involved with me and I wouldn't really blame her. It's not just me that you take on board, but an instant family. I'm damaged goods, second rate material, you know?"

Furious about her lover's low self-esteem, Catherine took Sara's head between her hands and forced her to look straight into her eyes. Forcefully she said: "you're not damaged goods and I never want to hear you say that again, you hear? I love you, all of you and I know that you're not planning on sponging off of me. You wouldn't have offered me a way out if you had.

I'm sure that Nancy will be happy for the both of us and if she isn't, well I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, together. I'm the one who loves you, I'm the one who's in a relationship with you, not Nancy. So in the end, it's my decision."

"But I wouldn't want you to have to choose between me and your sister," Sara whispered.

"I'm sure that it won't come to that," Catherine replied. "Like I told you once before, Nancy has always stood by me, even if she didn't agree with my decisions. Besides she's the one who encouraged me to fight for you, she said I was a damn fool to let you slip away. She has a very high opinion of you and I'm sure that the fact that you're pregnant won't alter that. And Lindsey? Well, you've got nothing to worry about baby, she has always wanted a baby brother or sister. She'll be tickled pink. So don't worry about it, okay?"

Still not entirely convinced, Sara nodded yes. There was no use in fretting about it yet, she'd know how Lindsey and Nancy felt about her pregnancy soon enough. Clearing her throat, she asked: "what about Warrick? I mean, he did win the bet and I promised him that we'd take him out for dinner. How about tomorrow night? Lindsey's at that sleepover, so we could make a night of it, if you want?"

"That's a good idea," Catherine said," how about that little Italian off the Strip?"

" Sounds good. Oh damn, look at the time, we'd better get ready for work," Sara said. Pulling Catherine up from the couch, she gave her a quick kiss before disappearing into the bathroom. Knowing that she'd be the laughing stock of the entire graveyard shift if she turned up wearing Sara's Taz outfit, Catherine quickly followed suit.

Arriving at work with half an hour to spare, since Catherine was very eager to find out just how fast Sara's vintage car could go, Sara disappeared into Catherine's office while Catherine walked to the locker room. Just as she was walking in Warrick was walking out. Standing rather awkwardly in the door of the locker room, they looked at each other as if they were sussing each other out. Warrick didn't really know where to begin and Catherine was, despite Sara's reassurances, still uncharacteristically afraid that he might reject her.

Catherine's fear dissipated when a slow smile spread over Warrick's face and he engulfed her in a warm hug, saying: "congratulations Catherine. I think that you've finally found someone who deeply cares for you and can keep up with you."

Thinking that the last remark was a dig at her expense, Catherine broke out of the hug and looked at him questioningly. "What do you mean?" she asked with scrunched eyebrows.

Realizing that his statement might have caused offence, he immediately started to explain: "you're a very strong and independent woman, you're passionate and driven, you don't take any shit from anyone. You need someone strong to stand by you. Someone who knows when to stand by the sidelines and just let you be or when to stand up for you and fight your battles.

You could never settle for a doormat, a lover without a backbone, you'd grow tired of him or her within a week. You need someone who challenges you on all levels, who gives as good as they gets. Essentially someone who's not afraid of your wild side, but on the contrary embraces it. I think that Sara's just the right person for that, you two are so alike."

Noticing the surprised look that Catherine threw him, Warrick continued: "we all know that Sara's as quiet as a church mouse most of the time, you'd sooner squeeze blood out of a stone than get anything remotely personal out of her. You sound complete opposite: you're loud and outgoing, Sara's quiet and introvert. But it's all just a front. Sara's emotions are just hidden behind the surface, she's just as passionate, driven and wild as you are.

I mean, she's calm and collected in most cases, the epitome of the professional CSI, but have you ever seen her in domestic abuse cases? That's when the real Sara starts to show. She's like a volcano waiting to erupt, you must be having the time of your life."

"Wouldn't you like to know," Catherine said, waggling her eyebrows, making Warrick laugh.

"Seriously though," he said, "I think that you're perfectly suited. I'm actually surprised that I didn't notice it sooner. I thought you two were always antagonistic towards each other, especially when Eddie died, but now I realize that it was just your weird way of courting each other."

"So you're really okay about us?" Catherine asked, wanting to be absolutely sure.

"As long as you're happy, I'm happy. I don't have to ask you if you are, it's written all over your face. It's plain to see for everyone who knows you."

"Thanks Warrick," Catherine said, giving him another hug.

"Anyway, I guess I won the bet. So…? Where are you and Sara taking me?"

Snorting Catherine answered: "I was wondering when you'd bring that up. We were thinking about Italian tomorrow night. How does that sound?"

"Great, anyway I'd better go; I still have a phone call to make before I go to the airport. Oh and don't worry, I won't tell anyone." With that he walked out of the locker room, only to bump straight into Sara in the hallway. Hugging a rather startled Sara, he whispered "take good care of her for me" before walking off again.

Entering the locker room, Sara asked: "I guess Warrick's okay about us if your bright smile is anything to go by?"

Pulling Sara really close and slipping her hands into the back pockets of Sara's jeans, Catherine answered happily: "he is. He thinks that you and I are a perfect match and I couldn't agree more." After giving Sara a sweet celebratory kiss, she continued: "so… what did your gran have to say? Nothing wrong I hope?"

"No, not at all. She got engaged this morning. Her boyfriend Daniel, you know the one she flirted with in evening school, got down on one knee and proposed to her.

Now she wants my mom and me to be her bridesmaids, so I guess that I'll be heading to California for the holidays as they're getting married on Christmas Eve. Would you and Lindsey like to come with me? I want you to meet my family and my parents have more than enough room."

"I'd love to. I know that Grissom gave us both Christmas off, so it shouldn't be a problem. I can't wait to meet your family or to see you in a bridesmaid's dress for that matter. I simply love weddings."

"You do, huh? Guess that you're just a sucker for romance. I'll have to remember that," Sara whispered before kissing Catherine. Groaning Catherine pulled Sara even closer and opened her lips for Sara's probing tongue. They were so lost in each other that they didn't hear the approaching footsteps.

"Hey you two, Grissom has postponed the meeting until…", Nick said before falling completely silent. Guiltily Catherine and Sara sprang apart and looked over to an utterly shell shocked Nick. He stood frozen to the spot and was white as a sheet, all the while muttering something incoherently.

Looking over at Sara, Catherine decided to take the lead and said: "Nick, as you can probably guess Sara and I are a couple. We're very sorry that you had to find out like this. We wanted to tell you in person, but erm you kind of took us by surprise. Why don't we take you out for dinner tomorrow night? That way we could answer any questions or objections you might have? How about it?"

Pulling himself together again, Nick answered: "sorry for reacting like that, it's just that I never in a million years expected that you two… Anyway, I'm happy for you both, I really am. It might take some getting used to, but…

As for dinner, can I take a rain check? It's just that I have something else on… erm a hot date, yes that's right I have this hot date lined up. Anyway, I came in to tell you that the meeting's been postponed, Grissom and Warrick have gone to pick up Tucker's daughter from the airport. She should be landing any minute now. So I'll leave you to it, I have to go trawl the antique and weapon shops for a sword." With that he scrambled out of the locker room.

"A hot date lined up, my ass, "Catherine grumbled. "He was lying through his teeth. He just didn't want to be anywhere near us. Maybe he thinks that homosexuality is contagious and that he'll develop the sudden urge to hump Greg if he came within a foot of us.

"Yes, he didn't seem to take it too well," Sara said. When she noticed Catherine rolling her eyes at the blatant understatement, she continued: "I'm sure that he's just shocked. He never expected to find the two of us engaged in a very intense game of tonsil hockey. Give him the benefit of doubt; I'm sure that he'll come around as soon as the shock wears off. Anyway, we'd better get to work before Archie or even worse Hodges catch us."

As Hodges and Greg were still processing the evidence they had brought in the day before, Catherine and Sara decided to pay a visit to the mortuary. With any luck Doc Robbins had finished the autopsy by now and would be able to provide them with some clues. Holding the heavy door to the mortuary open so that David could wheel out a dead body on a rather rickety gurney, Catherine greeted the pathologist: "good evening Doc. I hope you have some good news for us."

Throwing the victim's liver in the scales in front of him, Robbins said: "well I just heard from my accountant that I'll have an 800$ tax refund, but I'm sure that's not what you're driving at."

"Not exactly, no," Catherine laughed, "but good for you."

Pointing towards the dead body on the slab, Robbins continued: "ladies, you seem to pull the weirdest cases lately, this one's no exception. Your victim, William Butler according to the Texan driver's license, shows all external marks of asphyxia, but I couldn't figure out what method was used.

The lack of ligature marks in the neck and the lack of bruising to the tongue bone excluded strangulation. Strangulation, whether it's manual strangulation or some kind of rope was used, always leaves nasty bruising behind, especially on the inside of the throat as the food pipe and the windpipe are crushed together.

Suffocation didn't fit either as even the softest cushions leave pressure marks behind, especially in the nose and mouth area. I was really puzzled. Then I thought that maybe a plastic bag had been pulled over his head, but I had to exclude that option too. Again no ligature marks on the throat and neck where the bag would have cut into the skin. Besides the carbon monoxide levels in his blood would have been much higher.

His tox screen proved an interesting read however. Not only did I find traces of Tamazepam, but I also found a big clue to his cause of death: asphyxia caused by a mix of saline, sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride."

Staring at the rather triumphant looking Robbins, Sara said: "I'm afraid that you've lost me Doc, You'll have to be a bit more specific. I still have no idea what killed him."

Looking rather pensively, Catherine said:" but I think that I do. Correct me if I'm wrong doc, but penthotal, the trade mark name of sodium thiopenthal, is a very heavy barbiturate that induces general anesthesia. It's used in very small doses in surgical operations as it reaches the brain in thirty seconds.

Pancuronium bromide is a muscle relaxant, also used in surgical operations. I have no idea what the third drug does, but it sounds to me that our killer deliberately gave the victim a lethal amount, effectively giving him the lethal injection. If I'm not mistaken those are the exact drugs given to prisoners condemned to the death."

"You're quite right Catherine," Robbins said. "The cause of death is asphyxia by lethal injection. Pancuronium bromide was given is such a high dose that it paralyzed the diaphragm and the lungs, making breathing impossible. Potassium chloride interrupted the electrical signaling essential to heart functions, inducing cardiac arrest.

I checked the doses generally used in executions and your killer used about the same amounts. During my research I also found out that by law every prisoner executed within the United States must have an autopsy to determine the cause of death. Weird I know, but quite useful as I could now compare bruises and other marks on your victim's body.

The marks on the elbow are of course from the tubes used to administer the drugs. The bruises in the throat area are caused by the killer however. Prisoners are always strapped down for their execution, but that wasn't the case with our victim.

I assume that somewhere during the procedure the victim came to, the amount of Tamazepam in the blood was rather low so it's quite probable. The killer had to find a way to render the victim unconscious again and one of the quickest ways to do that is by pushing on the pressure points in the throat.

They send signals to the brain to slow down breathing and heart beat, so the victim would have been knocked out cold in mere seconds. Add to that the drugs that started flowing through his body and death is a matter of minutes. A painless death, but still a horrible way to go."

"Damn," Sara muttered, "it seems that we have a serial killer on our hands."

"A serial killer? How do you mean?" Catherine asked.

"First a beheading, now the lethal injection, a bit too much of a coincidence for my liking," Sara said.

"But Warrick and Nick didn't find a note in French," Catherine countered.

"Well, that's true. But they didn't really look for one either, did they? Maybe it's somewhere in Tucker's house? Or maybe it was pinned to the body's chest and blew away while it lay in the desert, …. Either way, we'd better let Grissom know."

"I guess you're right," Catherine admitted. Saying their goodbyes to Doc Robbins, they left the mortuary and went back to the labs. While Catherine called Grissom from her office, Sara decided to drop by the media lab. Maybe Archie had found a minute to crack Butler's access code.

The computer whiz was still busy trying to track down the ringleader of the child porn network, but as soon as he saw Sara enter, he pointed towards the laptop on one of the consoles. Chuckling he said: "people have no imagination whatsoever when it comes to choosing passwords, they always go for something that's easy to remember like their name and birthday, sex or even God.

You're victim was no different. He belonged to the megalomaniac category, his password was a slight variation on the God theme: Ego sum Deus or I'm a God in Latin. It was no challenge at all to crack it." Answering Archie's chuckle with a bright smile, Sara thanked him and left the media room with the laptop under her arm.

Just as she entered Catherine's office, the older woman put the phone down. Perching down on the edge of the desk, the laptop safely beside her, she watched Catherine swivel around to look at her. "Grissom said that he'd take Tucker's daughter straight to the house. He thinks an informal setting might be better for an initial interview and it would give him a chance to look for the poem.

Warrick remembers seeing some papers in French in Tucker's office. He didn't think anything of it as most other papers laying around were in a foreign language, he just figured that Tucker was a polyglot working in an international environment."

"So what do we do now?" Sara asked.

"Well, there's not a fat lot we can do without our test results. Hodges and Greg are taking way too long for my liking, I think I'll go put the fear of God into them," Catherine said, giving Sara a sly wink. "Jacqui was running the last batch when I dropped by earlier. She'll probably be finished by now, I'll pick up those results on the way. Why don't you take a look at the laptop in the meantime?"

Catherine was already at the door when Sara asked: "what about Butler's family? Have they been contacted yet? Are they coming to Vegas to claim the body? And what about the CCTV – tapes, are they here yet?"

"Brass said that he'd contact the family, but I haven't heard from him yet. I don't know what's keeping him. Why don't you call and find out? Tell him that we'll also need a subpoena for Butler's cell phone and a list of all telephone numbers he called from the hotel. Oh and remind him of the tapes, would you?"

Before Sara could answer, Catherine was out the door, hell bent on finding out what was taking the lab techs so long. Sara realized that Catherine was still pissed off about Nick's reaction earlier and that she needed to blow off some steam. Having been on the receiving end of Catherine's anger many times in the past, she really didn't want to be in Greg's or Hodges's shoes right now.

Chuckling at the thought of Catherine ripping Hodges a new one – Sara really couldn't stand the guy, she suspected him of being in cahoots with Ecklie, another slime ball - , she called Brass's office. When he heard how the victim died and that they had a possible serial killer on their hands, Brass was uncharacteristically dumbstruck for a moment, but then he assured her that he'd be there within the hour. Not only with the requested telephone numbers and CCTV-tapes, but also with Mrs. Butler.

It seemed that she had flown in from Houston early that afternoon and that she was waiting at the police station. The interviews of the hotel staff and guests hadn't revealed anything major, although several people had commented that a buxom redhead had been hanging on Butler's arm the afternoon of his death.

From Brass's tone of voice, Sara gathered that the buxom redhead definitely wasn't Mrs. Butler and realized that velvet gloves would be needed in the interview of the widow. <Definitely a job for Catherine, what with my eternal foot in mouth syndrome>, she mused. Saying bye to Brass, she started up the laptop.

Diligently typing in Ego sum Deus, she waited for Windows to start up. Pretty soon she was greeted by a scantily dressed pin up girl looking very alluring in the camera while the short cuts popped up. She clicked on the victim's electronic agenda, intent on making a timetable of his movements the last couple of days.

It seemed that Butler was scheduled to stay in Las Vegas for five days before flying back home to Houston, his entire stay filled with business meetings and seminars. The only time that looked a little less hectic was yesterday; only a business lunch at noon and then a late night meeting were scheduled, leaving most of the afternoon and early evening open. <I wonder if this is where the buxom redhead comes in>, Sara thought.

The late night meeting coincided with Butler's estimated time of death, so it was definitely worth looking into. The weird thing about this entry was that although every other entry was very detailed, this one only mentioned "Pierrepoint".

Sara had no idea what it referred to: a name, a company, a location, …. But was intent on finding out. Entering a search query, she came up empty handed: nowhere else on the laptop was Pierrepoint mentioned. She was just reading through the details of the business lunch when Catherine came back in with a devious smile on her face.

"Well, that was fun," she smirked. "Both Jacqui and Greg had their results ready, so I had no reason to chew their ass out, but I did get to hurl some abuse to Hodges. That always makes my night, the annoying little twerp."

"You're evil Catherine," Sara laughed.

Trying desperately to put on an innocent face, but failing miserably, Catherine replied: "what? Me evil? I'm an angel, honest! The horns are just there to keep the halo up straight. Anyway, let's go to one of the outer labs to review this evidence, we'll have some more room there."

Chapter 30.

Catherine and Sara were so busy sifting through and discussing the evidence, bouncing ideas off each other that they didn't hear Brass walk in. He just stood there for a minute, observing them in silence. They really were a sight to behold: the way they unconsciously touched each other to emphasize their point, the way they seemed to read each other's thoughts, their easy interaction, …

To him it proved that they shared something special, something most people spend their whole lifetime searching in vain for: true love, the chance to spend your life with your soul mate. Not often prone to talking walks down memory lane, the taciturn detective now found himself thinking back to that magical year in which he met, fell in love with and then lost his own soul mate.

Although he had only been seventeen at the time, he knew that what he and Elise had shared was special. There had been no' one quite like her since. Sure, he'd had his fair share of women, loved some of them, even married one of them, but still …. Elise had remained his one true love, the only occupant of his soul. Smiling at the bittersweet memories, he shook himself from his reverie to concentrate on the case on hand. It just wouldn't do to be caught reminiscing on the past.

He had to clear his throat several times before Catherine and Sara looked up and waved him in further. Gesturing towards the empty seat next to Sara, Catherine asked: "you didn't forget to bring the tapes, did you?"

"What? No hello Jim, how are you doing this fine evening?" he joked.

Laughing Catherine replied: "sorry Jim, how are you?"

Winking he answered: "I'm doing just fine Catherine, thank you for asking. Sorcha sends her regards by the way. I dropped in earlier this evening and she was just getting ready for her amateur dramatics performance. She's playing a witch and was already in full acting mode when she answered the door. Scared the living daylights out of me, let me tell you."

Unused to Brass in a chatty mode, Catherine raised her eyebrows but remained silent, Sara however had to chuckle at the strange visual she just got. "I can just picture Sorcha as a witch," she said. "I have two days off after tomorrow's shift, I think I'll go and pay her a visit. You know, just to catch up. I like Sorcha, she's fun, feisty and just a tiny bit eccentric."

"That she is", Brass readily agreed. "Anyway, could you give me a quick rundown of the case before we interview Mrs. Butler?"

"Sure," Sara answered. "Where is Mrs. Butler by the way? I hope you haven't left her in Grissom's office. Arachna, his pet tarantula, did a Harry Houdini last night and hasn't been found yet."

"I didn't know that," Catherine yelped, getting goose bumps at the mere thought of Arachna on the loose. "Why didn't you tell me? I was in his office earlier, I wouldn't have gone in there if I had known that. I hate spiders."

"Sorry, I just plain forgot about it. Greg told me earlier. It seems he and Warrick were goofing around a bit last night and accidentally knocked down Arachna's tank. They tried to catch Arachna again, but she was way too quick for them. She's just lurking in one of the many dark corners Grissom's office has. She'll come out of hiding soon. Anyway, she's probably more afraid of you than you of her."

"I don't think so," Catherine muttered under her breath, vehemently shaking her head, but Sara had already turned her attention to Brass again.

Grinning at the thought of the fearless Catherine being afraid of an innocent little spider, Brass replied: "No, I didn't make her wait in Grissom's office, that place is creepy enough without a tarantula on the loose. Robbins is having her formally identify the body. David promised to escort her back to the labs as soon as they're done, which can be any minute now. So … where do we stand?"

Banishing all thoughts of Arachna to the back of her mind, Catherine despondently sighed: "nowhere actually. We have a lot of evidence, but it's not really telling us anything. That's why I was so eager for those tapes, maybe they'll give us the break that we need. We need to talk to that buxom redhead, the call girl Butler spent the afternoon with. Maybe she will be able to tell us something more."

When Brass looked at her expectantly, she started to explain: "Like we expected, Jackie was only able to identify a tiny amount of the prints lifted, fifteen different sets to be exact. Eight of them belonged to hotel staff, room service and housekeeping personnel mostly. The victim's prints were all over the place, which is hardly surprising and we've made a start at eliminating the other six.

I'm not really all that hopeful to be honest. It looks like they belong to innocent tourists; their prints were only in the system because they all seem to work for the government. We still have to check it out further, ask their local police departments to look into their alibis but I'm pretty sure the finger prints are a dead end.

We bagged three glasses at the hotel, all with remnants of whisky in them. One of the glasses had been carefully wiped clean: no fingerprints were found. I asked Greg to check for DNA, thinking that there was a chance of saliva transfer, but no dice. The killer cleaned the glass pretty thoroughly, outside and inside.

The second glass had the victim's prints all over it. Hodges found trace amounts of Tamazepam, but Robbins already confirmed that there wasn't enough narcotic in the bloodstream to keep Butler subdued for long. I think the killer just wanted to knock Butler out for a while so he could get his lethal syringes out.

The lipstick on the third tumbler suggests it belonged to the call girl. Hodges was able to identify the lipstick as Estée Lauder Electric intense LipCreme Possessive color scheme, which is quite an expensive lipstick, believe me. The prints we lifted, came back unknown, so either she hasn't been in the game for long or she's very high profile.

Greg was able to find enough saliva in the glass to put together a DNA fingerprint, which he then compared to the vaginal fluid we found on the sheets: a perfect match. Butler and the call girl definitely spent part of the afternoon in bed together. Hodges confirmed that when he found DNA flakes of the redhead under the finger nails of the victim. Nothing else of interest was found under the finger nails, beside the usual dirt that accumulates during the day.

The coins and the poem offer a few clues, nothing forensic however. No usable prints were found. Jacqui's computer can only do so much, there were simply too many overlapping prints on the coins. I'm sure the issue dates hold some special meaning to the killer, but we're still pretty much in the dark about his reasoning.

The note didn't have any fingerprints on it and was printed with a laser jet, so virtually impossible to trace. The paper itself didn't offer any special clues, just your run of the mill printing paper: cheap paper, no watermark.

Thanks to Sara's gran we now have the whole poem. It's called the ballad of the hanged men or Villon's epitaph and goes like this:

Mortal brothers who after us live on
Be not hardened when our fate is known,
But pity us our ills when we are gone,
And likewise God will pity you your own.

You see us hanging, nameless and unknown,
The flesh that we so recently did sate,
Mouldering now, devoured and decayed,
And we, the bones, are bleaching in the sun.

Let nobody despise our wretched state;
But pray that God absolve us, everyone.

And if we call you brothers, then forbear
To scorn us, even though you see us dead
Through justice. All the same you are aware
That not all men possess a level head.

Have mercy on us now our souls are fled,
And that we may be pardoned for our shame,
And gain salvation from eternal flame,
Commend us to the blessed Virgin's son.
Now we are dead, let no one speak our blame;
But pray that God absolve us, everyone.

We have been washed and cleansed by rainy skies,
And burnt and blackened by the sunlight's glare;
Magpies and crows have fed upon our eyes
And from our beards and brows plucked out our hair.

Never in repose, now here, now there,
Swaying always as the winds decree,
Our bodies hang for all the world to see,
For birds and beasts to peck and prey upon.

Then be not one of our society;
But pray that God absolve us, everyone.

Prince Jesus, you who reign in majesty,
Vouchsafe to guard us from the enemy
That his infernal kingdom we may shun.

Men, here there is no trace of mockery;
But pray that God absolve us, everyone.

It's a medieval French poem by François Villon, a bit of a scoundrel by all accounts. His poetry is alternately pleading, bitter, ribald and self-pitying. He writes scathing caricatures of his contemporaries and harrowing images of death. I mean, the man pictures himself rotting on the gallows and is very realistic in his depiction. He wrote this poem while he was waiting for his own execution.

The main theme through all his poems is the injustice of man, so added with the killer's M.O. it doesn't take a genius to figure out the killer is trying to make a statement on criminal justice. Maybe he suffered a gross miscarriage of justice or something? It's worth looking into at least. Maybe the background check on the victims will tell us more.

Sara checked Butler's laptop, but again found little clues. Butler was here on business, his days filled with meetings and seminars. On the day of his death, he only had two meetings: a business luncheon with a couple of C.E.O.'s of a local clothing factory and then a late night appointment. We think he cleared his whole afternoon for his illicit little tryst with the buxom redhead.

We already called one of the C.E.O.'s and he confirmed that Butler was still very much alive and kicking when he left the restaurant. He also told us that Butler came alone to the meeting and was actually very surprised when I mentioned the possibility of an escort. To him Butler didn't seem the type, as he had presented himself a real family man.

He was forced to admit however that it could have been all a front as a million dollar deal was involved. It seems that the factory's director is a devout Christian and looks for the same values in his potential partners. Anyway, it's all academic now, as we now know that he did pick up a buxom redhead somewhere between the luncheon and the time he was killed.

We really need to find this woman. In all probability she's the last person that saw Butler alive, except for the killer of course. We need to know what she heard or saw, when she left, what Butler's plans were, …. I know that we can't really rule her out as a suspect, but I really don't think that she'd leave so many clues to her identity if she did it. Then again, some murderers are really stupid. Anyway, we really need to trace her, that's why I was so eager for the tapes and phone numbers," Catherine said.

"What about the late night meeting?" Brass asked.

"Well, there's something really odd about that," Sara said. "Although Butler was a meticulous and detailed note taker, his agenda filled to the hilt with all kinds of information he'd need for a meeting, all he had written down was one word: Pierrepoint.

We already checked: there's no' one with that name in the greater Las Vegas area, so we have no idea what it refers to. It could be the name of a company, a project, a location, maybe even a false name the killer fed him, we just don't know."

"But I think I do," Brass said with a pensive look on his face. "It would make sense in a twisted way, when I think about it. I mean with the poem pinned to his chest and his killing M.O. … I could be mistaken of course, but I think England's last public executioner was Albert Pierrepoint."

"Guess that makes sense," Sara agreed. "Anyway, I'll go and have a look at those tapes, see if I can take a clear picture of the buxom redhead. Good luck with Mrs. Butler." Giving Catherine's shoulder a gentle squeeze, Sara slid off the stool and walked out of the lab, leaving both Brass and Catherine staring after her until she was out of sight.

"She's a good kid," Brass muttered, trying to regain Catherine's attention, "she reminds me of someone I used to know. Anyway, guess we'd better get started too, David will be here any minute. Where do you want to interview her?"

"Maybe we should take a more informal setting like my office, Mrs. Butler isn't exactly a suspect and she might be a bit too intimidated when we take her to the interrogation room."

Nodding his agreement, Brass stood up and started to follow Catherine out. Just then David popped his head around the door, saying he'd left Mrs. Butler in the lounge with a cup of coffee. Intent on finding out as much as possible about Butler's past, they headed for the lounge.

By the time Catherine and Brass finished the interview and said goodbye to the teary eyed Tamara Butler, Sara had already reviewed most of the security tapes in fast forward mode. She felt she had been given a privileged glimpse into human nature at it's best or worst, depending on your point of view. She couldn't believe the things people got up to when they thought they were alone in an elevator and had chuckled several times at their weird antics, caught on celluloid.

The woman who checked her make up and adjusted her bra straps, pushing her breasts up until they almost bulged out of the very revealing and low cut dress. The nervous young man who checked his appearance in the mirror time and time again, fiddling with his butterfly tie and combing his fingers through his hair to smoothen a curly lock. The newlyweds who couldn't keep their hands of each other, kissing each other passionately, they all brought a smile to Sara's face. <Ah, the many shapes and forms of love> she mused.

She was still smiling when Catherine entered the media lab and seeing the goofy expression on her girlfriend's face, Catherine asked: "what has you so happy?"

"Life, love…. Isn't love just wonderful?" Sara cheerily asked before sliding her hands around Catherine's neck and pulling her down for a passionate kiss. Sinking deeper into the kiss, Catherine moaned when Sara pulled away again and had to steady herself by grabbing Sara's shoulders. Their faces just inches apart, a hint of lust and devouring passion swirling in their eyes, Catherine wanted nothing more than kiss Sara again. Realizing they were still at work and could be caught at any time, Sara moved away a bit and breathily asked: "so …. What did Mrs. Butler have to say for herself?"

Catherine reluctantly let go of Sara and grabbed a nearby chair. Sighing deeply she replied: "she couldn't tell us all that much I'm afraid. They hadn't been married all that long; they got hitched after a whirlwind romance and were still getting to know each other it seems. She doesn't know all that much about Butler's past, she was only able to give us a general outline.

He was born in Miami in 1946, his mother already widowed by then. She got remarried to a soldier a couple of years later, so Butler was raised as an army brat. She doesn't know all that much about his childhood, other than it was a happy one. By the time he was eighteen, Butler had made a name for himself as a bit of a hell-raiser so his step dad decided that he had to clean up his act and enrolled him in the army.

After a short learning stint on Parris Island, Butler got sent to Vietnam, where he did two tours of duty before being sent home with a bullet in his leg and a purple cross on his vest. It seems he saved a couple of young soldiers at the risk of his own life, but she didn't know too much about it. He didn't like to talk about that period in his life, it still gave him nightmares, she said.

Anyway, by the time he got out of the military hospital, he was twenty one and head over heels in love with one of the nurses. They got married straight away. According to Tamara his first marriage was childless but very happy. It seems that Butler was quite the business man, starting up several successful ventures and striking it big at a young age. They moved around quite a bit, but finally settled down in Houston, Texas.

When he turned fifty, he sold his businesses and decided it was time he and his wife enjoyed the easy life, but then disaster struck. His wife was killed in a freak car accident; an unsolved hit and run apparently. Butler was grief stricken and threw himself into work again, starting up a new ICT consultancy business. He met Tamara about six months ago and according to her it was love at first sight, they got married right away."

"They've only been married for six months and he's already straying? That's f*cking unbelievable," Sara muttered under her breath, her illusion of everlasting love trampled on once again. "You're right, she didn't know all that much about her husband's past, but maybe it's enough to make comparisons with Turner's life. There's got to be a common ground in there somewhere."

"Mrs. Butler was understandably distraught, I'm sure she'll be able to give us a more detailed description of Butler's past when we talk to her a second time. Anyway, what did you find?" Catherine asked.

Reaching out to grab some print outs on the desk beside her, Sara replied: "well … I managed to get a clear picture of our call girl; it should make it easier on us to track her down."

Looking at the computer print Sara handed her, Catherine said: "I certainly understand why Butler couldn't resist temptation, she's a stunner."

Slightly miffed at Catherine's easy acceptation of adultery, Sara said: "that may very well be, but it's still no reason to be unfaithful. Anyway, you were right as usual, the call girl isn't our killer. She came in with Butler around a quarter past two and left around six, hours before he was murdered. I've checked the tapes, but she didn't come back in again, so she's in the clear. I think I spotted our killer though…."

"You did? That's wonderful, show me," Catherine interrupted.

Freezing the frame on a hooded figure, Sara continued: "he's pretty unrecognizable however. I think he knew there were security cameras because he made sure that we never got a full facial shot. This picture is the best I got and it could be anyone. His hood hides half his face and then that scarf.... well you can see for yourself. I tried to clear the picture up a bit, but no dice. It's not all bad news however; I did manage to calculate his height: he's about six feet tall."

"How did you manage that?" Catherine asked confused, but when Sara started a lengthy explanation filled with 'extrapolating', 'degree of the angle' and 'trigonometry' she quickly said: "never mind, you're the math whiz in the family, I'll just take your word for it." Looking at the printout of the buxom red head again, she added: "guess you and I have a date with the shadier part of town tomorrow night, beginning with Lady Heather's."

"Lady Heather? Grissom's favorite dominatrix? But why?" Sara asked stupefied. "I mean, there's no indication that Butler was into sadomasochism, is there?"

"No, but Lady Heather will be able to point us in the right direction. She's bound to know which businesses front as a cover for escort agencies and I'm sure her information will be more up to date than Vice's will ever be." Looking at her watch, she continued: "let's go and grab something to eat. Grissom called earlier, he wants all of us in the lounge by five to discuss the case and if I'm to face Nick again I need a full stomach. Otherwise I might just be tempted to have a piece of him."

"I really do think you're being too hard on him. He'll come around, you'll see," Sara said soothingly.

"I know, but that doesn't mean I can't have a little fun with him in the meantime," Catherine said with a mischievous glint in her eyes. Not waiting for an answer, Catherine stood up and walked out of the lab, leaving Sara to scramble up and follow her.

Finishing her presentation of the evidence they had gathered so far in the Butler case, Catherine pinned a printout of the buxom redhead on the board before walking back to her seat. Giving Sara a mischievous wink, she sank down on the couch, scooting extra close to Nick, effectively pinning him against the armrest. Sending him a death glare, she dared him to do something about it, making Sara smile behind her mug of tea.

Nick was so petrified by the open hostility in Catherine's eyes, he didn't dare move. Only when Sara whispered into her ear to play nice, did Catherine ease up on him, leaving him to draw a quick breath of relief. He had been so hung up on Catherine's silent psychological warfare all meeting long that Grissom's question caught him totally off guard, making him gulp like a fish out of the water. "I'm sorry, what was the question again?" he stammered, flushing bright red when he heard Catherine snigger beside him.

"Are you alright?" Grissom repeated. "You're looking kind of pale."

"I'm fine," Nick muttered embarrassedly when he felt all eyes on him.

Grissom knew that there was something going on between Nick and the women, something he couldn't put his finger on, but he decided to let it drop. He had bigger fish to fry at the moment. "Okay then, the Turner case," he said. "Warrick and I have talked to Turner's daughter Barbara this evening and she was able to fill in a few blanks. They weren't all that close however, so her input was less detailed than we would have wanted. It seems they hadn't really been in contact since the divorce, the daughter resolutely taking her mother's side.

Anyway, Archibald Turner was a judge in Seattle before moving to Las Vegas, handling quite a few high profile cases in his time. Then one day, totally out of the blue, he handed in his resignation, packed his bags and moved down here.

The daughter has no idea why, she tried talking to her father several times, but he was less than communicative on the subject, saying that it's better to let sleeping dogs lie. The little contact there was disintegrated further with the move, Barbara has no idea what Turner did for a living nowadays or where he lived."

"So no comparisons in their past so far?" Brass piped up. "I mean Butler was an ICT consultant in Texas while Turner was a judge from Seattle."

"No, nothing yet," Grissom admitted. "Even their military past is no match: although they've both been to 'Nam, Turner was a Marine while Butler was Infantry. I think we have to focus on Turner's past however. As far as we know he's the first victim, so something in his past must have triggered the killer. We just have to find it.

With the whole justice theme the killer is playing out, his past as a judge is worth looking into. We need to review the cases that he handled; maybe someone is holding a grudge? We also need to know why he resigned and what he was doing now; it might have some bearing on the case.'

"So Warrick found the poem in Turner's study? What does it say?" Nick asked.

Suddenly all eyes were on Sara, who semi consciously licked her lips before reciting:

«Quant de la chair, que trop avons nourrie,

Elle est piéça dévorée et pourrie,

Et nous les os, devenons cendre et poudre.

De notre mal personne ne s'en rie:

Mais priez Dieu que nous veuille tous absoudre»

It's a most apt passage in my opinion, because translated it means:

<When our flesh that was nourished so well

Is over time devoured and putrefied

And we, the bones, have become cinders and powder

Let no' one laugh at our misfortune:

But pray that God absolves us all.>

Although Turner was the first victim, the killer used the second verse for him, probably because it was a better fit to the circumstances. Not only is there a small reference to a judge with the God absolves all part, the killer also knew that Turner wouldn't be found right away so that rotting part would be quite literally true.

When you think about it, there's another reference to the final judgment in the Butler case; although the obol was the coin used to pay the ferryman, once a soul had entered the Underworld, he had to pass the Final Judgment: three judges would decide his Fate. So I agree with Grissom: whatever's the killer's motive, it has something to do with Turner's past, more specifically his past as a judge."

Giving everyone time to let it all sink in, Grissom cleared his throat and said: "before I let you all go home for a well deserved rest, I have one last thing I need to day. We have a ruthless killer on our hands and an organized one at that, which makes our job a hell of a lot harder.

Not only is he ten steps ahead of us at the moment, we'll also be under very close scrutiny. We'll have the sheriff and the mayor breathing down our necks, the FBI threatening to take over and the media looking over our shoulder.

He killed in our backyard and I want the LVPD to be the one to bring him in. This collar is ours, I don't want the Feds to take the glory while we do all the grunt work. Brass and I will go talk to the sheriff, to try and hold off the FBI as long as possible.

The media aren't a problem yet, but believe me a story like this will get out and all hell will break loose then. So watch out what you say and who you say it to. Before you say anything, yes I know you're not in the habit of blabbing to the press, but we really need to keep a close lid on this to avoid a widespread panic. So think before you say anything, okay? The walls have ears. That's it. Go home, have a good night's rest and I'll see you all tomorrow."

Original poem (medieval French)

Frères humains qui après nous vivez
N'ayez les coeurs contre nous endurciz,
Car, ce pitié de nous pauvres avez,
Dieu en aura plus tost de vous merciz.
Vous nous voyez ci, attachés cinq, six
Quant de la chair, que trop avons nourrie,
Elle est piéca devorée et pourrie,
Et nous les os, devenons cendre et pouldre.
De nostre mal personne ne s'en rie:
Mais priez Dieu que tous nous veuille absouldre!

Se frères vous clamons, pas n'en devez
Avoir desdain, quoy que fusmes occiz
Par justice. Toutefois, vous savez
Que tous hommes n'ont pas le sens rassiz;
Excusez nous, puis que sommes transsis,
Envers le filz de la Vierge Marie,
Que sa grâce ne soit pour nous tarie,
Nous préservant de l'infernale fouldre
Nous sommes mors, ame ne nous harie;
Mais priez Dieu que tous nous vueille absouldre!

La pluye nous a débuez et lavez,
Et le soleil desséchez et noirciz:
Pies, corbeaulx nous ont les yeulx cavez
Et arraché la barbe et les sourciz.
Jamais nul temps nous ne sommes assis;
Puis ca, puis là, comme le vent varie,
A son plaisir sans cesser nous charie,
Plus becquetez d'oiseaulx que dez à couldre.
Ne soyez donc de nostre confrarie;
Mais priez Dieu que tous nous vueille absouldre!

Prince Jhésus, qui sur tous a maistrie,
Garde qu'Enfer n'ait de nous seigneurie:
A luy n'avons que faire ne que souldre.
Hommes, icy n'a point de mocquerie;
Mais priez Dieu que tous nous vueille absouldre!

Part 31

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