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 31.

Catherine and Sara were changing in the locker room when there was a polite knock. "Are you two decent or am I interrupting something?" Warrick asked, unable to keep the laughter from his voice.

Guiltily Sara put some distance between them and turned her back to the door, busying herself with the rebuttoning of her blouse. Amused at Sara's obvious embarrassment Catherine smirked before calling out: " come on in Warrick."

Warrick poked his head around the door and gave them both a good once over. As Sara was now tying her shoelaces, he couldn't see her face and switched to look at Catherine instead. Although she was totally pokerfaced, he had to smile when he noticed the smudged lipstick. Cheerfully he asked: "Greg and I were wondering if you'd like to join us for a beer? It's been ages since the four of us hung out together."

Looking at Sara for confirmation, Catherine replied: "sure, we'd love to. You two go on ahead, we'll catch up. Okay?"

Nodding Warrick closed the door again, but not before pointing out to Catherine that she'd better reapply her lipstick. Groaning in embarrassment Sara got up from her crouched position and muttered: "great, now they'll make fun of us all morning. We'll never live it down."

Laughing at Sara's muttered grumblings, Catherine got out her lipstick, giving Sara a playful wink in the mirror. Feeling her embarrassment melt away, Sara said: "I've just realized that we still have to tell Grissom about us. He might make a big fuss about it, you know? I mean intra office romances are frowned upon and you are the second in command."

"You worry too much," Catherine said, grabbing her purse out of the locker before slamming it shut. "Sure intra office romances are frowned upon, but they're not forbidden and although I may be a higher ranking CSI, I'm not your immediate supervisor. Short of sending one of us to days and I'm sure Grissom won't play that card, he hates Ecklie too much, there's really nothing h can do about it. He'll probably give us both a stern lecture and then just get on with the case. So don't worry, okay? You get wrinkles that way."

"Another bridge we'll cross when we come to it, huh?" Sara laughed.

"Exactly," Catherine said succinctly," I see I'm starting to rub off on you. Anyway, we'd better tell him soon though. He's the only one who's out of the loop and I'd rather he doesn't hear it from someone else."

"Don't tell me you believe that Nick would blab on us just out of spite," Sara asked incredulously.

"No, not really," Catherine answered, "I was more thinking along the lines of Ecklie or even Hodges. You know what a suck up Hodges is, he's one stampede of lips directed at the nearest powerful ass. The way I went ballistic on him today, he might just want to get even."

"I don't think they know about us, but I get your point. They might use it as ammo against us or against Grissom even. How about we tell him next shift?"

"Sounds good," Catherine said. "Anyway, get a move on woman. I hear a beer with my name on it calling." Chuckling Sara put her leather coat on and followed Catherine out of the locker room.

It was only a five minutes walk to the team's favorite bar and when they pushed the door open, they crossed the threshold to another world. Animated chattering, laughter and soft rock music filled the cold morning air and invited them in further. They deftly made their way through the crowd and plopped down at their usual table.

"What can I get you ladies?" Greg asked.

"An iced tea and a beer," Catherine answered when she saw Sara stuffing herself with pretzels. "So what were you two talking about?" she asked Warrick.

Before he could answer a man stepped up to the table and asked Sara if he could buy her a drink. Annoyed at the interruption, she hadn't even taken her coat off yet, she shot him a dagger look and replied: "if I throw a stick, would you go away?" When the man didn't seem to take no for an answer, she added: "look buddy, I'm not interested so you can save your breath, okay? I'm sure you'll need it to blow up your next date."

When Catherine and Warrick started to laugh at Sara's answer, the man walked off with his tail between his legs. Sara shrugged her coat off, all the while muttering something under her breath, making Warrick and Catherine laugh even more. "What did I miss?" Greg asked, putting three beers and an iced tea on the table.

"Nothing much," Catherine replied. "Sara's just blown a man's ego to pieces, that's all."

"Don't tell me," Greg sniggered, "someone came on to her again? She always shoots them down in the most hilarious way."

"Shut up Greg," Sara said menacingly, swatting his arm.

Not paying any attention to Sara, Greg continued: "I think her best come back was a couple of weeks ago. We were out having a couple of beers when an obviously piss drunk man came on to her. She just looked at him from head to toe and said: <I have a message for you from your village, they're missing their idiot.> When the man just looked at her blankly and dared to ask her out on a date, he really was a mental midget with the IQ of a fence post, she stood up and started jabbing him in the chest, making him back up.

Very slowly, so even he would understand it, she said: <look buddy, I wouldn't even date you for practice. If you and the queen of England were the only two people left in the world and I was horny, I'd crawl over you to f*ck her. Do you get it now? I'm not interested>. The whole bar just stood there watching the display. I must say, we weren't bothered again that night."

"So you fancy the English queen, huh? I have to remember that," Catherine laughed, making Sara groan and hide her face on the table.

Sitting back up again, she looked at Greg through narrowed eyes and whispered "you're so dead Rat Boy", making him audibly gulp and scoot closer to Warrick.

Rubbing her hand along Sara's thigh to calm her down, Catherine asked: "so Greg, how 's the search for your replacement going? Did you call that friend of yours?"

Forgetting about Sara's threats, he scooted closer again and enthusiastically began to say: "Gina? Yeah, I called her. She's flying in later this week to talk to Mobley and Grissom. You'll really love her, she's totally insane. Weird, but fun."

"How so?" Warrick asked.

Well she once set me up with this really ugly chick and before you have a go at me, yes I know looks aren't everything, but man was she ugly. Her mother should have given her away and kept the stork. She had this blank, helpless face, rather like a rose before you drench it with DDT.

She had so many piercings she probably set off every metal detector in a ten mile radius, a big head and a face so ugly it almost became fascinating. So I said to myself: <Greg my boy, you have to give her a chance. Looks aren't everything; it's what's on the inside what counts. She might have a great personality, a marvelous sense of humor>.

But no, she was as fun as watching paint dry, really no sense of humor at all. And there probably was an end of season sale at the cerebral department when she was conceived. It really was the date from hell and all the while in the restaurant Gina was sitting there laughing her head off, looking as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food. Never again did I agree to a blind date."

"Anyone who puts you through that kind of hell sounds okay to me. I think I'll really like her," Sara sniggered. When Greg didn't reply but just stuck his tongue out, she added: "I'll just file that comment under bite me then, shall I? Anyway, talking about tarantulas, did you guys catch Arachna yet?"

"No, not yet" Warrick said. "I almost had her but then Brass came in and frightened her to death. I mean, she took one look at him and all her hairs stood on end. She scurried away again before I could grab her."

"That's it," Catherine said. "I'm not setting foot in that office again until that hairy monster is caught."

Putting a hand on Catherine's thigh in sympathy and slowly rubbing her fingers up and down, Sara asked: "does Grissom know that you've lost his baby?"

"No, not yet," Warrick answered. "I'm not really looking forward telling him either, but if push comes to shove I guess I could always blame Sanders over here."

"Gee thanks," came the immediate reply. "Another drink everyone?"

"No," Catherine said, the slow circles Sara was tracing on her thigh driving her insane. "We've got to go. Warrick, my place at eight, okay? Come on Sara, we've got things to do."

Putting on her coat, Sara asked: "we do?" Catherine didn't say anything, but just slid her hand in Sara's back pocket, giving her a light squeeze. "Ah yes we do," Sara squeaked.

The unrelenting radiance of the afternoon sun streaked through the half closed window blinds, showering Catherine's bedroom with golden light and a few shadows. The distant murmur of a neighbor mowing the lawn penetrated though Catherine's still sleep fogged mind and gently pulled her from her sleep.

Blinking a couple of times, she slowly opened her eyes. The sound of Sara's slow breathing, almost bordering on a light snore, made her smile and sigh happily. Not often did she get the chance to wake up next to her lover, the younger woman usually up and about long before she was.

She turned to her side and propped herself up on one arm, determined to enjoy the treasure sleeping next to her. The sight nearly took her breath away and filled her heart with pride, love and lust. Sara laid on her stomach, splayed out on all her glory, the blankets regressed to her thighs leaving Catherine an unrestricted view of her lover's back.

She could see the tiny freckles and moles peppering the olive colored skin of Sara's back, who even in winter didn't seem to lose her tan. She trailed her fingertips lightly along Sara's arm, delighting in the goose bumps that appeared and almost moaning at the memory of Sara's long and slender fingers sliding over and scratching her skin. She was mesmerized by Sara's hands; at work her movements were steady, calculated and assured, but when they were together her fingers trembled as they slowly glided over her body in awe.

She looked at Sara's face, so peaceful in slumber with a contented smile curling at her lips and remembered the feel of those lips as they had languidly explored her body, nipping, sucking and licking until Catherine was left a quivering mess. As if Sara knew that she was being watched, she seductively licked her tongue over her lips before settling down again.

Scooting even closer, Catherine lightly trailed her nails along Sara's shoulder blade before leaning down and planting a soft kiss on her shoulder, making Sara murmur but not wake up. She then trailed her fingers to the nape of Sara's neck and tangled them in her soft hair, stroking it gently. Sara stirred at her lover's touch and whispered: "Catherine".

"Shush, go back to sleep," Catherine whispered but Sara turned herself onto her back. She looked up into Catherine's deep blue eyes shining at her and felt her heart begin to race. "What a gorgeous sight to wake up to," she whispered reverently before leaning in to capture Catherine's lips with her own. Moaning softly, she allowed Catherine to deepen the kiss and delighted in the unique taste of her lover.

Catherine grinned and rolled herself on top of Sara, who parted her legs to allow Catherine to rest between them. Gently combing her fingers through Catherine's ruffled hair, she said: "sometimes when I wake up and I see you laying there next to me, I have to pinch myself to realize that it isn't all a dream. I'm not one for overly fluffy speeches, filled with sweet declarations of everlasting love. I'm not one for flowers, candy or romantic candlelight dinners, but I want you to know that I love you. This is only the beginning."

Catherine's eyes brimming at the heartfelt statement, she looked at Sara's face, soulful brown eyes full of love and adoration staring back at her and felt her heart contract. Her voice croaking she whispered: "I love you too. I can't bear the thought of ever living without you. You speak to me in verses, you speak to me in tongues. <There's a moment when I look at you and no speech is left in me. My tongue breaks, the fire races under my skin and I tremble and grow pale for I'm dying of such love.> I want to spend the rest of my life with you Sara."

Sara saw the truth of the statement in Catherine's eyes, a tantalizing contradiction of icy blue and smoldering fire. She pulled Catherine's lips to her own and they kissed slowly, like it was the first time. When they finally came up for air, Catherine caressed Sara's flushed cheek, enjoying the feel of Sara's strong arms around her, holding her close. She gave Sara a kiss on her nose and asked: "how about something to eat?"

"I could eat," Sara purred, licking her lips and looking at Catherine like she would ravish her on the spot.

Her cheeks flushing red, Catherine swatted Sara's arm and said: "real food. I need to keep my strength up, you wore me out this morning, you're insatiable."

"Who can blame me," Sara said with a lecherous smile on her face, but she followed Catherine out anyway as she was feeling the pangs of hunger too.

During lunch Catherine watched her lover become more and more withdrawn, her answers to even the simplest questions straight to the point and mostly monosyllabic. In the end she shooed Sara out of the kitchen, telling her to watch some television while she did the washing up. She had a fair idea of what was running through her lover's mind, but wisely chose not to question her about it. Nothing she did or said would reassure Sara now, she needed some time on her own to get her thoughts straight. She needed to deal with whatever was bothering her in her own pace.

Confronting Sara or forcing her to open up would have an adverse effect this time, so Catherine gave her some space to work it all out, all the while hovering in the background, silently letting Sara know she was there for her if needed. It occurred to her once again what a wonderful mix of volatile emotions, quirky contradictions and little insecurities Sara was.

At work she was the ultimate professional: totally in control, strong and self assured, someone who you could rely on when the going got tough. In private however Sara's adorable little insecurities were so touchingly unbearable it made Catherine's heart ache. All she wanted to do was wrap her arms around Sara and never let go. She wanted to slay the demons that haunted her lover, comfort her, offer her strength and unwavering support.

Catherine guessed that Sara's role reversal boiled down to confidence and control issues; at work she was confident because she knew that she was one of the best CSI's. Sara knew her stuff and was good at her job, hardly ever surprised by whatever shift threw her.

Romance and relationships were a totally different story however. Catherine surmised it was pretty much uncharted territory for Sara, making her very insecure on how to act or what to expect at times. She had a pretty successful friendship going on with Mel and Greg, but it's hardly the same, is it? Although she was sure Sara loved them dearly, there was much less emotional investment involved and Sara had the advantage of experience to fall back on.

It seemed to Catherine that Sara wanted to present herself as the perfect girlfriend, getting totally insecure when something happened that would knock her off that pedestal. She hadn't told anyone that she was adopted out of fear that they'd look down on her, she was desperately afraid that Nancy would think less of her when she found out she was pregnant,… She simply let others influence her life too much. She was Catherine's polar opposite in that respect: Catherine couldn't care less what others thought of her. Never doubt, never look back, that's how she lived her life. The fact that Sara's was so insecure at times ignited Catherine's protective side; all she wanted to do, was kiss the worry frowns away and tell her that everything would be all right. It actually felt good to be needed sometimes.

She didn't want to smother Sara however; Sara had a fiercely independent streak running through her, an all too obvious offer of help would only result in insulting her lover. She'd see herself as weak and would retreat into her shell once more, fighting off every well meant attempt at help. Sara's wonderful complexity meant that Catherine was walking a thin line between letting Sara brood and offering her assurances. Leaning against the kitchen doorframe she watched the object of her mental musings stretched out underneath the kitchen sink, softly humming a tune while banging on the water pipe.

With each minute that passed Sara grew more anxious; Nancy and Lindsey would be home soon and despite all Catherine's assurances, she was still worried about their reactions. She was nervous as hell and it showed: she had been doing odd jobs around Catherine's house all afternoon, just to keep her mind busy. She didn't want to tell Catherine about her fears, especially as her lover had only reassured her yesterday.

She knew Catherine had kept a close eye on her all afternoon and could just kiss her for not forcing her to talk. She knew it was silly of her to be so scared, but she didn't do too well with the great unknown. She considered new experiences as a living hell, she had no prior knowledge to fall back on and winging it had never been her forte. Not being a people person, she had no idea how Lindsey and Nancy would react to the news of her pregnancy and hated this lack of control over the situation.

Her previous relationships hadn't prepared her for situations like this, she just hadn't loved them enough to do the meet and greet the family thing. Although she realized that she had already met Catherine's family, now she faced an even bigger hurdle: telling them that she was pregnant. She hadn't loved her previous lovers enough to even contemplate such a thing. Sure she had loved Mel, but that had been a schoolgirl romance, void of all the adult traps she faced right now. The hardest thing Mel and her had to do was come out to their parents and that hadn't been all that hard considering the fact that they had been caught red handed by Mel's mother.

The memory made her blush again; she didn't know who had been more embarrassed: Mel's mother or herself. Of course had been cool as a cucumber again; alarmed by Sara's ear piercing scream that in no way could be mistaken for an orgasmic groan, she had looked up from between Sara's thighs and merely said: "hi mom, you're home early." The incident took a prominent place in Sara's top five of embarrassing moments.

She never had to deal with a protective big sister or a teenage daughter however and it scared the living daylights out of her. Their opinions mattered to her and she was petrified that they'd reject her once they knew the truth. Sara desperately wanted to belong in this family, she wanted them to like her but her pregnancy was like a time bomb looming over her, set to go off at any time.

She knew Catherine wouldn't really understand where she was coming from; Catherine was used to barging in and taking the bull by the horns, screw the consequences. She really couldn't care less what people thought of her. Not wanting to lose face with her lover and determined to get over these fears, Sara had been brooding all afternoon, running all possible scenarios in her head, steeling herself for every possible reaction. Nothing worked better for these mental projections than doing chores around the house: fixing the leaky toilet, replacing a broken tile in the bathroom, pruning a tree in Catherine's backyard and now doing some plumbing. Her parents owners of a moderately successful B and B meant Sara was a regular Jill of all trades, her parents saving a lot of money by fixing leaks themselves.

Thinking that Sara must be parched from all the hard work, Catherine pushed herself off against the doorframe and walked over to the sink. A cup of tea would probably be a godsend right now, so she grabbed the kettle and turned the tap, making Sara shriek at the rush of icy cold water inundating her. Catherine apologized profusively until Sara appeared from underneath the kitchen sink, dripping wet. Kneeling next to a grumbling and cursing Sara, she handed her a towel, biting her lip not to laugh out loud at the sight of the drenched Sara.

Sara snatched the towel from Catherine's hands, wiping her face dry before drying her hair. She was still cursing when Catherine cooed "my poor baby" rubbing her back in soothing circles. She looked up at her and couldn't help but smile when she noticed the amused twinkle in Catherine's eyes. The she saw Catherine's eyes dip lower and the amused twinkle made room for a lustful stare. Looking down, Sara noticed that her white T-shirt was near see through now. She quickly moved out of Catherine's grasp and said: "oh no you don't. You can wipe that lecherous smile right off your face Willows. I'm cold and wet, I need a new T-shirt." Totally ignoring Catherine's adorable pout, she stood up and walked out of the kitchen.

She had only been gone a minute when Lindsey burst through the door all excited. Giving Catherine a quick "hi mom" she ran up the stairs at lightning speed. Nancy followed at a much slower pace, putting her coat on a chair while searching for her sister. She had to laugh when she finally located her in the kitchen on her knees in a big puddle of water. Clearing her throat, she asked:" don't tell me you and lovergirl have been playing with Lindsey's water gun?"

Looking up distractedly, Catherine noticed her big sister wagging her finger at her in a mocking way and replied: "erm no, Sara was just trying to fix a leaky pipe when I turned on the tap and gave her a cold shower."

"I bet she appreciated that," Nancy laughed. "Why did you do that for anyway?"

"I wanted to make her some tea and plain forgot about the tap," Catherine replied grumpily.

"So where's lovergirl now?" Nancy asked.

"Upstairs, changing. She was a bit wet," came Catherine's reply.

Looking at the big puddle on the floor that Catherine was attempting to clear, Nancy muttered: "I can imagine."

"So do you have a minute? Sara and I want to talk to you about something."

Looking at her watch, Nancy shrugged and said:" sure, I can stick around for a while, I suppose."

"Okay great," Catherine said. "Why don't you wait in the living room and I'll be out in a minute. Do you want something to drink?"

"I'll have an OJ, thanks" Nancy said before sinking down on the couch with a glossy magazine in her hand.

Putting a glass of orange juice on a coaster, Catherine asked: "what's up with Lindsey? She hardly spared me a glance before bounding up the stairs like a bat out of hell."

"Oh, she mumbled something about mailing Melissa to get the latest gossip before doing her homework. Anyway, what do you want to talk to me about?" Nancy asked. "If it's to ask me to baby sit tomorrow evening, I can't. I have a date with 'the dish'."

"Really? So he finally asked you out, huh?"

"Erm no, I asked him out actually. If I had to wait on him to find his courage, I'd probably be using a zimmer frame on our first date," Nancy said, rolling her eyes.

"So how did he react to that?" Catherine asked, making herself comfortable on the couch for a good old-fashioned gossip session with her sister.

"Well I thought he was going to faint for sure; he became deadly pale before turning bright red. It really was too cute for words. He managed an 'I'd love to' in the end. His shyness is totally adorable and then his eyes… God! They're the most amazing green," Nancy gushed.

Smiling at her sister's enthusiasm, she was obviously smitten with the guy, Catherine asked: "so where's he taking you or are you organizing the date?"

"No, he said he'd take care of everything, but he wouldn't tell me what we would be doing. He said it had to remain a secret. He did say I had to dress up though."

"Ah, a man of mystery," Catherine said winking, "you just got to love his guts. Doesn't he know that you hate surprises?"

Before Nancy could answer Sara came down the stairs, looking like sex on legs, making both sisters audibly gulp. She had changed into black leather pants and a tight red T-shirt, an outfit that just screamed "don't mess with me or else…", something Catherine had seen her wear when Sara needed a confidence boost. Sara stopped short for a moment when she noticed Nancy next to Catherine, but then she mustered up all the courage she had in her and said: "hi Nancy, how are you doing?"

Sitting down next to Catherine, Sara laced her fingers through Catherine's and allowed her hand to be pulled into Catherine's lap. Catherine gave her lover an encouraging smile before turning towards her sister. A slight taint of nerves audible in her voice, she said: "so… erm… Sara and I have something to tell you. I don't really know where to begin, so I'll just come out and say it, okay?"

Looking from Sara, who was fidgeting in the couch and wouldn't meet her eyes, to Catherine who almost defiantly returned her gaze, Nancy knew that this was serious. She slowly nodded before reaching over to the table and grabbing her orange juice.

Catherine squeezed Sara's hand before blurting out: "we're pregnant with twins."

If she wasn't petrified of Nancy, Sara would have laughed out loud at the woman's initial reaction. As it was she bit her lips and refused to look at Catherine who was dripping wet with the orange juice Nancy had splurged all over her. Sending her sister a death glare, Catherine stood up and slowly walked out of the room, mumbling something about needing to change. "Oups, didn't mean for that to happen," Nancy smirked

Sara just smiled and remained quiet, not really knowing how to react. An uncomfortable silence filled the room, neither women not quite knowing what to say. Unable to deal with this situation on her own, Sara was praying Catherine came back soon, while Nancy was only now realizing just what Catherine had told her. Three minutes later Catherine sat back down and moved the glass of orange juice out of Nancy's reach, stating: "no more OJ for you Nance, not until we've talked this through. There are only so many outfits I can change into. So…. What do you say to our news?"

Nancy looked gob smacked and didn't seem able to string two sentences together . "I'm guessing it's Sara that's pregnant? How? No I don't mean how… On second thoughts, yes I do….Why? Are you two sure about this? I mean, isn't it a little early in your relationship to have kids?" Giving Sara a blatant once over, Nancy waited for an answer to her stammered questions.

Imploring Catherine to take the lead, there was no doubt in her mind an appearance before the Spanish Inquisition was less painful, Sara remained silent. She was immensely relieved when Lindsey yelled from upstairs "Sara can you come and help me with my math?" Making her excuses, Sara all but bolted from the room, sending a silent thanks to whatever God above that was listening to her. At least now she had a legitimate excuse to escape the evil Nancy was undoubtedly giving her.

"Wow, she's fast," Nancy laughed," if I didn't know any better I'd think she's afraid of me."

"She is," Catherine replied, "you scare her to death."

"I do?" Nancy asked incredulously. She would never have thought Sara to be afraid of anything.

"Yes, she's afraid you'll see her as some kind of leech." When Catherine noticed the dumbfounded expression on Nancy's face, she started to explain: "she's afraid you'll think that she's just using me that we're only together because she was in a desperate need for a second parental figure."

Playing the devil's advocate, Nancy asked: "and is she?"

"NO," came the indignant response. "She gave me an out twice. She didn't want us to get together at first, she said it wasn't fair on me. I really had a hard work convincing her otherwise. Then, when we found out she's having twins, she gave me an out again. She only wants what's best for me and in all her foolishness she really believed that it would be better for me if we didn't get involved in the first place."

Her voice neutral, giving Catherine no indication as to what she was thinking, Nancy asked: "so how do you feel about becoming a mother again?"

"Well I was shocked at first of course, this wasn't how I envisioned Sara and I starting out. All kinds of thoughts were running through my head, that I was too old, that I didn't want to go through all that again,… but then I realized that Sara isn't Eddie. I wouldn't be going through it alone, she'd be there, we'd be doing this together. When I got over my initial qualms and fears, I was really happy. I mean, I have the chance of raising two babies with the woman I love, something I didn't think possible a couple of weeks ago. Sure, it's happening a little bit sooner that I would have preferred, but that doesn't change the way I feel about Sara. I love her and I'm proud to become a mom with her."

"If you're happy, then I'm happy. You're right, Sara's nothing like Eddie." Giving Catherine a big hug, she whispered: "congratulations, not just on the babies, but on finding Sara too. She's a keeper, you did well sis."

"Thanks Nance", Catherine replied emotionally.

"So have you told Lindsey yet? You know how pleased she'll be, she has always wanted a baby brother or sister", Nancy asked.

"No, we wanted to tell you first, we plan on telling her tonight," Catherine answered. Just then Sara came back downstairs, searching Nancy's face for clues to her reaction. When she saw a bright smile plastered on her face, she suddenly felt a lot more confident and said: "sorry for rushing off like that, Lindsey was having trouble with equations."

Before she could sit down, Nancy had enveloped her in a great big hug and said: "congratulations Sara, I'm happy for you both."

"Thanks Nancy," Sara whispered softly.

Breaking out of the hug, Nancy said: "well girls, I'll leave you to it. I need to find a killer dress." Shouting goodbye to Lindsey, she walked out, leaving Catherine and Sara alone in the living room.

"I told you that you had nothing to worry about," Catherine whispered before giving Sara a quick kiss. "All your brooding this afternoon was for nothing."

"I'm sorry," Sara said embarrassed.

"Don't be," Catherine smirked. "You more than made up for it by doing all the odd jobs around the house. If this is the way you deal with things, I'll never need a handy man again. Anyway, could you do me a favor?"

"Sure, anything," Sara said.

"Would you mind babysitting Lindsey tomorrow? I've got to work and Nancy has this big date, so …"

"Consider it done. I'm sure Linds and I will have a blast."

Chapter 32.

Catherine and Sara were laying in each others arms, stretched out on the big couch. Catherine's slow and steady breathing let Sara know that her lover was out for the count. She kissed her softly on the lips, careful not to wake her up and sighed contentedly, a ghost of a smile curling at her lips. For the first time in her life she could truly say that she was happy with just being here. She was totally at peace with herself, all worries were temporarily pushed aside. There had never been anyone that made her feel this good by simply smiling, being happy or sleeping next to her.

With the soft music on the background, she felt her eyelids grow heavier and was just about to drift off when Lindsey came down the stairs. Lifting her head a bit to peer over the armrest, Sara asked in a very hushed tone of voice: "hey short stuff, homework all done?"

"Yeah," the girl replied walking towards the couch. "Is mom asleep again?"

"Yeah, so we'd better keep quiet," Sara whispered, expertly extricating herself from Catherine's surprisingly tenacious grasp. Catherine moaned at the loss, but then turned over to snuggle up with a cushion, never waking up. When a soft snore could be heard, Sara placed a blanket on her sleeping lover and gestured to Lindsey to follow her to the kitchen. "Sit down short stuff," she said, "I need to talk to you about a couple of things."

"Okay," Lindsey replied slowly, eyeing Sara suspiciously, finding Sara's serious tone of voice very ominous.

"So erm, you know that your aunt has a date tomorrow evening, right?" When the girl nodded, not getting what Sara was driving at, Sara continued:" well I have tomorrow and the day after off, so what do you say to me taking care of you?"

"Cool," Lindsey smiled, "do you think we could go to Uncle Greg's again? It was so wicked, the two of you playing the guitar together. So is this what you wanted to talk to me about?"

"Yes, no …. Well, yes but it's not all of it, there's some more. Boy, I really suck at this," Sara stammered. When she noticed Lindsey looking at her expectantly, those big blue eyes watching her every move, she gulped and started pacing the tiny kitchen. "Erm …. Okay …..the thing is …."

"Sara, could you quit doing that pacing around thing? You're making me seasick," Lindsey moaned.

Surprised at the interruption, Sara looked up and mumbled "sorry about that, I'm a bit nervous" before kneeling down next to Lindsey. Clearing her throat, she said: "you know that I love you more than anything in the world, right? And that no matter what happens, I'll always love you, that nothing could ever change that?"

"Don't tell me that you and mom are breaking up already?" the girl asked anxiously.

"What? NO!" Sara said forcibly. In a much gentler tone she continued: "you don't have to worry short stuff, we're not breaking up. It's just that …. I'm pregnant and I wouldn't want you to feel …."

With a big squeal of delight Lindsey interrupted Sara by saying: "you're having a baby? I'm going to have a little brother or sister?"

"Well yeah, I guess you're going to have a step brother or sister. Possibly even both, I'm having twins," Sara said, relieved at Lindsey's enthusiasm.

"Twins? Really? This is so cool! I can't wait to tell Melissa that I'm going to be a big sis," Lindsey gushed.

"Stepsister," Sara corrected automatically.

"Nah, that's just a word," Lindsey said. "They're going to be my real brother and sister. I mean, you're sort of married to my mom, so that makes you my second mom. We're all part of the same family."

Lindsey's big smile emphasizing the truth behind her statement caught Sara off guard and she had to swallow a lump in her throat. "So you're okay with all this?" she asked, just to make absolutely sure.

"Hell yes!" Lindsey exclaimed. "Oups, don't tell mom I said that," Lindsey mumbled, looking bashful.

"Don't worry munchkin, it'll be our little secret," Sara laughed, giving the girl a conspiratorial wink.

"Cool," Lindsey said. "So can you already see something? I mean, do you have a bump?"

Lifting her T-shirt for Lindsey to see, Sara replied: "no, not really. I don't have a bump yet, I just look kind of bloated."

"I didn't know you had a tattoo," the girl whispered, tracing the pattern with her finger. "It's really pretty. What does it mean?"

"It's an ouroboros, that's a snake eating his own tail. It symbolizes the cyclic nature of life." When Sara saw that Lindsey didn't understand, she explained: "erm okay, you know that a snake loses his skin, right? Well you could say that every time the snake loses his skin, he dies and then gets reborn. It's an endless cycle of life and death. It's kind of like the butterfly. Before a butterfly is all beautiful, he's this really ugly pupa. The pupa case has to be broken for the butterfly to emerge, there's creation from destruction, life after death. When you think about it, everything in life follows this cycle. Do you understand?"

"Think so, yes. Anyway, it's very pretty," Lindsey said, fascinated by how the snake rippled with Sara's stomach muscles. "When did you have it done?"

"Oh, ages ago, when I was still living in California. Speaking of California, I've asked your mother if the two of you wanted to accompany me to my gran's wedding. She wants me to be one of her bridesmaids and I really want you to meet my family. What do you say?"

"Cool," Lindsey smiled, "I've never been to a wedding. Does this mean that you'll have to wear one of those really frilly frocks?"

"Hmmm, probably. I just hope gran doesn't choose pink. I hate pink, it makes you look like a lolly," Sara mumbled.

"A lolly," Lindsey laughed. "Sara, you're really weird."

"I'll take that as a compliment," Sara smirked. "Anyway, there'll be lots of dancing, so I need to practice. I'm afraid I'm a bit rusty." Bowing before Lindsey and holding out her hand, she asked in a really formal voice: "my lady, may I have the honor of this dance?"

Lindsey giggled but put her tiny hand in Sara's all the same. Together they started to spin and twirl, eventually moving into the lounge when the kitchen became too small. "How about a tango?" Sara whispered in Lindsey's ear, wiggling her eyebrows.

"I don't know how to do that," Lindsey whispered back.

That's okay, I do," Sara said. She picked the girl up and put her on her hip, saying:" all you have to do is hold tight and look pretty. Flutter your eyelashes around so all the boys and girls will be green with envy that I'm the one dancing with you." Elegantly she started dancing with Lindsey to the beat of tango music only Sara could hear. When she did a very low dip, Lindsey had to laugh out loud, inadvertently waking up Catherine.

Yawning widely, Catherine stretched out like a lazy cat before peering over the couch. Still rubbing her eyes, she had to smile at the sight. She rose from the couch and with clear amusement in her voice, she said: "Lindsey, don't tell me that you're making a move on my woman."

"Mom, you're up," Lindsey said, jumping out of Sara's embrace. "Did you know that Sara's pregnant? I'm going to be a big sister, just like I always wanted. And Sara's taking us to her gran's wedding. We were just practicing her dance moves because she thinks that she's a bit rusty."

When Catherine looked at her questioningly, Sara just shrugged and mumbled: "I left you on your own to tell Nancy, so I thought that turn about was fair play."

Looking down at Lindsey, Catherine said: "pumpkin why don't you go upstairs and pack your bag? It's nearly time to go to Melissa's."

"Okay," the girl happily replied before dashing up the stairs.

Not able to read the strange expression on Catherine's face, Sara nervously began to ramble: "I'm sorry that I didn't wait for you. I know you wanted us to tell her together, but I really wanted to tell her before I lost my nerve and you were sleeping so peacefully and …"

Curling her arms around Sara's neck, Catherine whispered: "Sara? Shut up and kiss me."

Wrapping her arms around Catherine's lower back, Sara readily complied, sashaying their hips to the romantic music on the background. When a new song came on, she gently broke out of the fevered kiss and looking Catherine straight in the eye, she started to sing along:

"How do I get through the night without you?
If I had to live without you
What kind of life would that be?
Oh, I need you in my arms, need you to hold
You are my world, my heart, my soul

If you ever leave
Baby, you would take away
Everything good in my life
And tell me now

How do I live without you?"

With a big thud Lindsey dropped her bag to the ground and said "ready" while putting on her coat.

Both Catherine and Sara realized that the magic spell was broken and with an apologetic smile, Sara gave Catherine a quick kiss before saying: "come on short stuff, I'll drive you. I need to stop by my place anyway to check on the cats and pick up some clothes. This way your mom will have all the time in the world to get ready for our night out. You know how she likes to take ages."

"Tell me about it," Lindsey replied, rolling her eyes. The girl was smart enough to move out of the way to avoid the wallop she was sure would follow.

Sara however wasn't quick enough and when she felt the light swat on the arm, she grinned "love you too babe" before shrugging on her leather coat and grabbing Lindsey's bag. "Come on kid, let's roll."

While Catherine expertly navigated through the busy late night traffic, Sara was lost in thought. Staring out of the window, she softly hummed along with an old jazz song on the radio.

"The night I looked at you,
I found a dream that
I could speak to,
A dream that I could call my own.
I found a thrill I could press my cheek to,
A thrill I've never known.
Oh yeah, you smiled, you smiled
And then the spell was cast,
And here we are in heaven
For you are mine at last."

Looking over at the driver's seat, Sara felt a warm sense of pride and elation invade her and realized once more just how true those words rang. Catherine's smile had the most beguiling effect on her, it made her thumping heart skip a beat, it made her feel that she could take on the world.

She really loved everything about Catherine: her wild and passionate nature, her cut throat, no nonsense attitude, her air of subdued class and sophistication. The way she looked in the throws of passion, the way she completely understood her, yes she even loved the way Catherine's breathing sometimes turned into a slight snore.

She really felt the luckiest, happiest woman alive to be in love with and loved by Catherine. Maybe she didn't have that much experience with love, but even she knew that what they shared was unique and once in a lifetime. A love so captivating and deeply emotional that at times Sara feared she'd get burnt by the sheer intensity. But like a moth to a flame, she was drawn in time and time again.

She was sure they'd have fights and arguments in the future, they were both too damn stubborn and tempestuous to avoid that, but she'd never doubt the love that Catherine felt for her. With every little thing Catherine said or did, she felt cherished and adored. She didn't crave candlelight dinners, romantic poems or dozens of red roses, a simple smile was enough to make her heart beat faster.

Just then Catherine shouted angrily "are you blind, you stupid moron", giving the driver who recklessly cut in front of them the finger. < Yes that's my girl>, Sara thought <The epitome of grace, class and sophistication>.

Her mind drifted back to their night out on the town. They'd just spend the most fantastic evening: a delicious dinner, hilarious stories and anecdotes by Warrick and ill concealed flirty comments by Catherine. She had drawn strength from Warrick's unconditional support. Though she had never really doubted him for a second, she now felt more optimistic about their impending talk with Grissom.

Catherine parked the car and drew a shuddering breath while cutting the engine. As if he could read Sara's thoughts, she asked: "do you think that Grissom's already here?"

Grabbing her bag, not really looking at Catherine, Sara answered: "yeah, he should be. Whenever I came in early, he was always lurking about somewhere." When she finally looked at Catherine, she noticed the worried frown. Reaching over, she laced their fingers together and whispered: "please, don't worry. Everything will be alright, you'll see."

Kissing Catherine softly on the lips, she continued: "we're not breaking any departmental rules, we're just following our hearts and there's nothing wrong with that. Love doesn't follow reason or logic, something surely Grissom will understand. Whatever happens, we'll face it together.

But remember, this is Grissom we're talking about. He'll probably go all Zen on us. He'll quote some obscure fourth century philosopher nobody's ever heard about and then he'll just get down to the business of the day."

Leaning her forehead against Sara's, Catherine whispered back: "yeah, you're probably right. Besides, there's nothing much he can do about it, is there? I'm sorry, I didn't mean to go all scared on you. It's probably last minute jitters or something."

Looking Catherine straight in the eye, tenderly stroking her cheek, Sara murmured: "that's quite alright. I like reassuring you for a change, normally it's the other way around. Anyway, are you ready to face the big bad wolf?"

"I don't think we quite qualify as Little Red Ridinghood," Catherine chuckled, getting out of the car. Walking towards the labs, Catherine added: "but for some inexplicable reason I can totally picture Grissom as the big bad wolf. Weird."

When they didn't immediately find Grissom, Sara told Catherine to go and change while she tracked him down. Nodding her assent, Catherine walked off in the direction of the locker room. Sara searched all the labs for a sign of Grissom, but nothing. In the end she found him in the mortuary, discussing execution methods with Doc Robbins. Clearing her throat, she said: "sorry to interrupt Doc, but I need to borrow Grissom for a while. I promise I'll bring him back to you virtually unscathed."

"You go right ahead," Doc Robbins said, giving her a conspiratorial wink, making Sara frown for a minute. "We were finished anyway. Guess I'd better make a start on that body of Ecklie's before he starts whining again. See you both later."

Leaving the morgue, Grissom asked: "so? What seems to be the problem?"

"No problem really," Sara replied. "Catherine and I just need to talk to you about something."

"Don't tell me the two of you are butting heads again? I mean, I've noticed that there was some kind of cold war going on between you a couple of weeks ago, but then I thought you were getting along better. I noticed the two of you teasing Nick yesterday, so ….I really wish the two of you got along better…."

"No, it's nothing like that," Sara quickly interrupted him, pre-empting another long and boring monologue.

"Well, what is it then? Has it to do with the case?" Grissom asked.

"No, it has nothing to do with the case, but I'd rather tell you in your office. Catherine's waiting for us there," she said. Sure enough, when they rounded the corner, Catherine stood waiting for them in the hallway. "Why didn't you wait inside?" Sara asked her lover perplexed.

"What? Wait in there on my own with a hairy Harry Houdini on the loose? You've got to be kidding me," Catherine whispered softly, knowing full well Grissom wouldn't hear. She didn't want Warrick and Greg to be dropped in it in case Grissom hadn't noticed the vanishing act his beloved spider had pulled.

"Oh yeah, forgot about that. Don't worry babe, I'll protect you from the flesh eating monster," Sara whispered back, taking Catherine's hand into her own and giving it a reassuring squeeze.

If Grissom noticed their joined hands and their whispered conversation, he didn't say anything about it. He just walked into his office and motioned them to take a seat before asking: "so what's this all about then?"

When she noticed that Catherine was anxiously scanning the room for the presence of Arachna and not really paying any attention to Grissom, Sara realized that she would be the one to spill the beans. Slightly nervous at the daunting task, she began to rattle: "erm well, see it's like this…. Catherine and I are together and before you go off on one of your lectures, yes we realize that it might make things awkward and difficult for a while, especially when you look at the way Nick reacted when he found out about us, but it's not like it's against departmental rules.

We know relationships are frowned upon, but they're not forbidden. And even if they were, it's not like you can help the way you feel, so the rules are stupid anyway. It's not like we'd go kissing every chance we get and risk contaminating the evidence that way. I mean, give us a little credit, we're professionals. We keep work and personal life completely separate. We just wanted you to know and I guess now you do," she finished, drawing in a deep breath.

When Grissom didn't react at all, he was still too busy deciphering what Sara had actually told him, she asked: "Grissom? Did you hear what I just said?" If it wasn't for the intermittent blinking of his eyes, Sara would have thought the news had frozen Grissom on the spot.

When he had finally decrypted Sara's nervous ramblings, Grissom asked: "you and Catherine are involved romantically?"

"Yes," Sara answered when she noticed that Catherine's eyes were still darting all over the room.

"With each other?" Grissom added.

Rolling her eyes, Sara replied: "yes, with each other. We're lovers."

Slowly a big smile appeared on Grissom's face and he said: "well, I guess congratulations are in order then."

"What?" Sara said completely flabbergasted. "No reprimand, no stern lecture, just congratulations?"

"Well, I think I know the both of you well enough to realize that this isn't a casual fling or some extended one night stand. No, you're both completely serious about this relationship. You've thought about it and talked it through with each other, otherwise you wouldn't be sitting here now telling me about it.

I know you're professionals, you know better than to bring private arguments to work or to contaminate the evidence. I trust you and I will continue to pair you up for cases. However, should I see that you can't keep work and your personal life separate, then you give me no other alternative than to split you up. Deal? Okay, then let's get to work. Now Sara, before you think I'm going back on my word, hear me out, okay?"

Sara nodded, but frowned when she suddenly felt Catherine squeeze her hand really tight. Yelping slightly at the unexpected pain, she turned to face Catherine and was about to say something when she noticed the sheer panic on her lover's face. She sat there frozen rigid, big beads of sweat slowly rolling off her forehead.

She followed the path of Catherine's eyes and finally saw what had her lover in such anguish: Arachna deftly making her way up Catherine's leg. Bending down, she scooped the spider from Catherine's leg and put it in her lap, covering her up with her sweater. She turned to face Grissom again and said: "sorry, you were saying?"

Having missed the whole scene, the stacks of paper on his desk too high to see anything but Catherine and Sara's torso's, Grissom repeated: "Nick has his night off, so I want you to team up with Warrick tonight. Catherine and I will pay Lady Heather a visit. This is in no way meant to split the two of you up, it's just that Catherine and I have already established some kind of rapport with Lady Heather. I think it would be better if we were the ones to question her."

"No problem," Sara said, hiding the spider in her sweater and trying hard not to squirm when she felt the hairy legs tickle her stomach. "Guess I'd better go and find Warrick then. Good luck with Lady Heather." She stood up so quickly that she nearly knocked her chair over.

When she was out the door, Grissom asked puzzled: "is she alright?"

Regaining her momentum, Catherine answered: "Sara's just fine. You know how eager she always is to get to work. So anyway, I guess you and me have got a date with Lady Heather. I hope you can remember your safety word."

Chapter 33.

Sara came barreling out of Grissom's office and almost knocked the passing Jacqui off her feet. Realizing that she needed to be more careful, bumping into someone would surely get her precious cargo squished, she mumbled an apology to the totally flabbergasted Jacqui before stalking off again, skillfully bypassing a speeding lab tech with a laden trolley. <Thank God I took up ballet for a year>, she thought.

Squirming slightly when she felt hairy legs tickle her ribs, Sara barged into Greg's tiny lab, convinced she looked like a spasmodic idiot. The unexpected interruption silenced the gossiping Greg and Warrick and they immediately looked up, only to see Sara frantically joggling her arm. "Quick. Give me a big plastic container or something," she said.

Greg, afraid that Sara would puke her guts out all over his evidence, immediately sprang into action and whipped out his waste basket. When Sara didn't make a desperate lunge for it, but instead started to peel off her sweater excruciatingly slow, giving the guys a good look at her bare stomach, he was totally confused. Scrunching his eyebrows, Greg said: "not that I don't appreciate the impromptu striptease, but what the hell are you doing? Catherine will kill us all when she finds out."

Narrowing her eyes menacingly, Sara hissed: "I'm saving your butt Rat Boy, that's what I'm doing. So stop dribbling all over the floor and help me out here, would you? Arachna's in my shirt somewhere."

"She is?" Warrick said questioningly, taking a step closer to the still squirming Sara.

"Yeah, I managed to scoop her off Catherine's leg and hide her in my sweater before I hightailed it out of Grissom's office. I don't think he noticed anything and I'm sure Catherine will try to keep him busy for the next couple of minutes." Wiggling when she felt Arachna was on the move again, Sara became a bit impatient and spat out: "will you two bumbling idiots stop looking at me like I just sprouted a second head and grab her? Her stubbly legs are driving me around the bend."

"Erm …. Yeah …. Of course…. Sorry," they both stammered. Not quite knowing how to achieve this particular feat, Warrick stepped closer to the wiggling Sara. "Greg, grab the waste basket, would you?" he commanded. Looking Sara in the eye, he then softly added: "I'm really sorry, there's no other way to do this." He pulled back the hem of Sara's T-shirt and peered inside, making Sara extremely glad she had decided on wearing a bra to work. Spotting Arachna, his hand slowly crept up Sara's stomach, deciding a sneak attack was the best approach.

Just then Catherine walked into Greg's lab and taking in the scene before her, she smirked: "trying to get to second base with my girl there Warrick?"

Sara and Warrick shrieked and sprang apart, both blushing profusively at being caught in a compromising situation. Arachna, rather fond of her newfound freedom, took advantage of the general confusion and jumped to the floor. The long drop only knocking her out for a second, she quickly began scurrying away again. "Quick, grab her before she goes AWOL again," Catherine screeched, having jumped on the nearest desk.

Greg decided that it was his time to play hero and like a real football pro he jumped after her, skidding over the floor before masterfully placing the waste basket over the fleeing spider. "Touchdown," he shouted enthusiastically from the floor, seeing his happiness reflected in the smiles of the others.

"Am I the only one who actually does some work around here?" Grissom asked from the doorway. When they all had the good grace to look bashful, he turned to Catherine and asked: "you ready to go?" Not really waiting for an answer, he turned around again and started walking towards the parking lot.

Rolling her eyes, Catherine jumped off the desk and said: "I think I've just been demoted to bottom in that relationship. Guess I'd better go before he starts cracking the whip." Closing the short distance with Sara, she gave her a quick kiss before whispering "bye babe". With a short wave and "bye guys" she was out the lab.

"Guess I'd better put Grissom's beloved tarantula back to her rightful place," Greg said, getting up from the floor and wiping the dust from his jeans. Slowly he lifted the waste basket up far enough to peer under it and quickly grabbed the skittish spider before she could run off again. Holding the hairy creature in front of him, he started giving Arachna a stern lecture on the dangers of going AWOL in a busy crime lab, waggling his finger menacingly to proof his point. When Greg disappeared out of sight, Warrick and Sara dissolved into laughter at the lab techs weird antics.

"He's one seriously deranged guy" Warrick said, wiping a lone laughter tear away and desperately trying to regain his composure. So anyway, where are Grissom and Catherine off to in such a hurry? Although Grissom is pretty much a one expression man, this time he looked …. I don't know, excited I suppose, like he couldn't wait to get out of here. I swear he looked positively giddy."

"Oh they're trying to track down the redheaded escort. Catherine thinks that Lady Heather might have a pretty good idea what respectable businesses pose as a front for escort agencies; her information will at the very least be more up to date than Vice Squad's. I mean, Lady Heather's bound to have more connections in that world, she might be able to point them in the right direction.

Anyway, Grissom reckons it might be a better idea if he and Catherine questioned our favorite dominatrix. They've dealt with her before, so according to him they've built some kind of rapport. I don't know, I wasn't really listening to his reasoning, I was too preoccupied with getting Arachna out of his office to really pay attention," Sara explained.

"A better rapport, yeah right," Warrick snorted derisively. "Grissom just saw a legitimate excuse to meet Lady Heather again and he grabbed it with both hands. Who's he trying to kid anyway?" When Sara was about to comment, Warrick held out his hands apologetically and said: "hey no skin off my nose, to each his own I always say. If he's infatuated with a leather clad, whip cracking dominatrix, then more power to him. Or less, whatever the case might be.

It's just that he plain forgot about our scheduled meeting with Professor Landers and that's so unlike him. I mean, I had to move heaven and earth to get the man to agree to see us on such short notice. He only agreed because he had to be at the university anyway, there holding some kind of fundraiser tonight apparently. Hey, maybe you could accompany me instead of Grissom?"

"Sure," Sara said. "I still have a couple of things I need to in the Butler case, but nothing that can't wait. So who is this Professor Landers anyway?"

"Theodore Landers is a bit of a legend on campus. He teaches courses on criminal justice and penology, has written several books on serial killers and is the country's leading expert on the history of capital punishment. His classes are always packed I've been told, because he tries to make his sometimes very gruesome topics more accessible with true stories and anecdotes. Anyway, I thought that maybe he'd be able to shed some light on what we're dealing with here," Warrick clarified.

"Sounds good," Sara agreed, "let me just grab my coat and I'll be right with you, okay?"

Looking at his watch, Warrick said: "no need to hurry, we still have some time. He told me to meet him at his office at one o'clock."

By the time Sara walked back into Greg's lab, Jacqui had stopped her on the way to interrogate her on her strange behavior earlier on, Warrick and Greg were in a serious discussion on the latest football transfers. <Boys will be boys> she thought, shaking her head. "Ready when you are," she said to announce her presence. When they were about to step out of Greg's lab, she turned around again and added: "oh Greg, before I forget, the munchkin and I'll be round your place at three, okay? Lindsey thought the two of us jamming together was so cool, she said she wouldn't miss it for the world."

On the drive over to the university, Warrick looked over to Sara and asked: "so you and Sanders are jamming together, huh? What's that all about?"

Very glad that it was pitch dark outside so Warrick wouldn't notice the nice shade of pink she was sporting now, Sara stammered: "erm yeah, Greg's helping me rehearse. I've got a high school reunion coming up in a couple of months and my band's been asked to perform."

"Your band?" Warrick asked.

"Yeah, I used to be in a band. You know, a couple of high school kids thinking they're America's answer to U2."

"I didn't know you could play an instrument. What was the band's name? What kind of music did you guys play?" Warrick asked interested.

"We called ourselves Euterpe and I guess we played a bit of everything: jazz, rock, pop, … Mostly covers, but we had a couple of songs of our own. We were just mucking about really, but had a lot of fun. Anyway, I haven't played the guitar or sang in ages, so I've asked Greg to help me rehearse. I don't want to be a laughing stock at the reunion. Trouble is that we both play the guitar, so I don't really get the same feel for the songs like I used to. Oh well, what can you do about it?" Sara said, shrugging her shoulders.

"Euterpe, one of the Greek muses," Warrick said pensively.

"You know your classics," Sara said surprised.

"Anyway, I think I can help you out if you want," he said, peeking Sara's interest. "I play the piano and I have a keyboard, so if you have the sheet music to the songs, I'd be more than willing to help you rehearse. I think it would be a lot of fun actually, I haven't played in ages myself."

"Really? You'd do that for me? I mean, give up your precious spare time to help me out?" Sara asked flabbergasted.

"Of course, that's what friends are for, isn't it?" he said, not comprehending Sara's confusion.

"Thanks Warrick, you're a real star," Sara stated enthusiastically, impulsively leaning over to kiss him on the cheek. "Erm my place at two thirty then?"

"That's fine," Warrick smiled. "Anyway, back to work, we're here."

Shaking the hand of the burley professor, Warrick said: "I'm Warrick Brown and this is my colleague Sara Sidle. Thanks for seeing us at such short notice and at such a late hour."

"That's quite alright Mr. Brown. I had to be on campus anyway with this damn fundraiser. As a faculty member I'm forced to show up at these dreadful and boring things, so I was actually glad to have a legitimate excuse to escape. Those things always go on to the small hours. Anyway, how can I help the local police?" he said, motioning them both to sit down.

Telling the professor the whole story, Warrick said: "so we'd appreciate it if you could keep a tight lid on this, there's no need to alarm the public. Anyway, I brought the crime scene photographs with me, but I'd better warn you: they're quite gruesome, especially the ones from the beheading."

Taking the photographs, the professor never blinked an eye as he carefully looked at every picture. Lurking on his pipe, he tried to take in as many details as possible. "Disturbing and gruesome indeed," he finally said, breaking the silence. "What is it exactly you want me to do?"

"Well what's your take on it all?" Sara asked. "What's he trying to tell us? Why is he using executing methods as a M.O.? Are we correct in our assumption that it all centers around justice?"

Leaning back in his chair, the leather creaking from the shifting weight, Landers pondered the questions for a while. Finally he said: "of course I'm not a forensic psychiatrist, so I can't really offer you a scientific reason for his killing spree. That aside, I think you're quite right in your assumptions. It all has to do with justice, redistributive justice to be more exact. He wants to correct an injustice done to him.

He becomes judge, jury and executioner, but at the same time he asks for leniency on behalf of his victims. This case is riddled with duality; it's like he's trying to say <yes, I've killed them, but I've shown them mercy too> I think whatever injustice he suffered, he didn't get that mercy.

He or someone he cared deeply about was never shown leniency and I think that this is what triggered his killing spree. He deeply believes in justice, but something happened to destroy his faith, so he turns to vengeance. The talio principle with a strange twist: an eye for an eye, but with kindness and mercy mixed in with it.

I wouldn't be surprised if you found out that his victims were the key players in his injustice. I know you haven't found a connection between your victims yet, but I think your boss is right: by concentrating on Turner's past as a judge, you will find the link. Archibald Turner had a very good reputation as a judge, you know?"

"You knew Turner?" Warrick asked.

"By reputation yes," Landers said. "He was a very good judge, strict but fair. He stood somewhat hesitant towards the death penalty; he'd rather not sentence a criminal to death, but still did so when the circumstances asked for it. He handled quite a few high profile cases in his time.

Maybe it's a good idea to look at disgruntled family members: the criminal's family where he did sentence to death or the victim's family when he didn't. I mean, capital punishment seems pretty central in this case, doesn't it? Anyway, it's a real shame that he resigned from the bench; it was a great loss to the judicial system."

"Do you know why he resigned and what he was doing now for a living?" Warrick asked.

"Well," Landers said," I don't know why he resigned. I mean, officially he never gave a reason, but there have been rumors of course. Some were far fetched and ludicrous; others were plausible and sometimes very likely. The one most people tend to believe is that he just couldn't hack it anymore.

It seems that he attended an execution at the specific request of the condemned man and apparently, it shook him up completely. Maybe something went wrong, I don't know but he resigned the very next day. He now worked for a Las Vegas based organization, specialized in helping death row prisoners form an appeal."

"Seems to me like Turner was doing penance," Sara said. "I mean, a judge with a known hesitancy against the death penalty finally witnesses an execution and immediately starts working for an anti-death penalty organization. It looks like he wanted to atone for his past."

"That may very well be the case Ms Sidle," Landers said. "Isn't it all a little ironic that he got sentenced to death himself then? It really seems a case of biblical revenge to me."

The three of them staying silent for a couple of minutes to let it all sink in, Warrick then asked: "what about the specific execution methods? Can you tell us something about them?"

"Ah yes, the execution methods," the professor said, scratching his beard. "So far he has chosen beheading and lethal injection, an ancient and a modern death penalty. Unless I'm very much mistaken, your next victim will have received an ancient execution again, because make no mistake, he will kill again? He hasn't finished his divine justice yet.

Beheading goes a long way back in history as it was a cheap and practical method of execution: a sword or an axe was always readily available. Decapitation was introduced in the Anglo-Saxon world under the reign of William the Conqueror and it was reserved for those of noble birth. Perhaps this is an indication that the killer still held the victim in high regard?

You said that Turner was beheaded by sword, right? When decapitation took place by sword, they didn't need a block to put the victim's head on, so you have a horizontal beheading instead of a vertical one. The typical execution sword was 36 to 48 inches long and 2 to 2,5 inches wide with a handle long enough for the executioner to use both hands for maximum leverage.

The victims were usually blindfolded so that they couldn't see the sword coming and move at the crucial moment. Anyway, it was a pretty messy and bloody death as blood spurts from the severed arteries and veins. If the sword was sharp and the headman's aim true, it was a quick and relatively painless form of death. If the sword was blunt, well…. You can imagine. To avoid this gruesome fate, the prisoner was advised to give a gold coin to the executioner, then he'd sharpen his sword before the decapitation.

The cause of death is the separation of the head from the body: there is heavy hemorrhaging from both head and body, causing a massive drop in blood pressure, anoxia and shock. Consciousness is lost within seconds, quickly followed by brain death. Decapitation may take more than one blow however as the muscles and the vertebrae in the neck area are very resilient. Your killer must be big and strong to achieve decapitation in one blow.

A pretty disturbing fact is that some believe that the severed head remains alive for a couple of seconds after the blow, fully conscious and thus able to feel everything. This notion is supported by studies on the presence of certain chemicals in the brain of beheaded animals and stories from France about heads of guillotined persons changing facial expressions after the decapitation.

I guess you could compare it with the decapitated chicken story: a chicken is still able to run around for a couple of minutes after it's head is chopped off. Whether it's true or not, it's one of the major reasons why the use of beheading has been discontinued. Another important reason being the messy nature of the practice; basically it's blood galore as the heart continues pumping for a couple of seconds, making blood shoot out.

Like I already said, decapitation has been used as a form of capital punishment for millennia. It was always used as a punishment for very serious and heinous crimes. Sometimes the head was used as deterrent: in medieval England the heads were placed on spikes.

In your case the killer may have taken the head with him as some kind of token or it may have been taken by coyotes, we might never know. According to Chinese beliefs however, the spot where the executioner put the head after the beheading was crucial as the executed person was doomed to walk around with his head on the position it was found.

For obvious reasons a head placed between the legs was seen as the ultimate disgrace. The family often paid the headman to achieve a better placing for the head; if they paid enough he sometimes sawed the head back on. Japan has also a history of decapitation as part of ritual suicide or hara-kiri. Hara-kiri was a privilege for dignitaries who committed suicide to avoid a humiliating public execution and the outlawing of their family.

Only people who were sent a special hand carved knife were allowed to commit hara-kiri. They had to kill themselves before sundown and were forced to follow strict procedures. The first step was ritual disembowelment or seppuku. A few minutes before sundown, the condemned man kneeled down, opened his kimono to bare his chest and then sliced open his own stomach with the knife he'd been sent, trying to get the knife all the way up to his heart.

The second step was the ritual decapitation: as soon as the victim had sliced open his stomach, a close family member would strike his head off from behind with a katana sword to hasten death and relieve suffering. Sometimes however the Japanese used decapitation as a dishonorable punishment. A samurai, found guilty of betrayal, was buried vertically in the ground before they sawed off his head with blunt wood saw."

Sara audibly gulped at the thought. She was very relieved that Mel's homemade remedies for morning sickness seemed to be doing the trick. "Good thing I didn't plan on eating for another couple of hours", she said in a serious tone of voice. "That was really gruesome. It never seizes to amaze me what people can do to each other. Anyway what about the lethal injection?"

Clearing his throat, professor Landers said: "well although the lethal injection is a fairly modern method of execution, it has its roots in the end of the nineteenth century. When detailed reports of botched hanging hit the press and caused a public outrage, New York legislature appointed a committee to study and recommend more humane forms of execution.

The committee met with representatives of several fields and after careful deliberations the guillotine and judicial hanging were rejected. They ultimately opted for electrocution, though they toyed with the idea of death by injection of cyanide for a while. They only gave up on the idea when it became clear that the medical profession disapproved.

During the second World War death by lethal injection was carried out on a large scale in the concentration camps as a part of the Euthanasia Program. It was Hitler's personal physician who suggested terminating disabled persons by injecting them with a lethal dose of poison.

A couple of years later the subject of judicial lethal injections was raised in the United Kingdom, but the British Medical Association was so dead set against it that the bill never got approved. Not only did they say that it would be a complete breach of the Hippocratic Oath, they also said that it would be extremely difficult to give an intravenous injection to someone who resisted.

The following two decades the subject resurfaced occasionally. For example Ronald Reagan thought it a more humane method, comparing the lethal injection to the killing of wounded animals. Isn't it ironic then that one of the drugs has been prohibited in the termination of animals by some states as it is too painful? Anyway, as you well know there was an unofficial moratorium on executions between 1967 and 1976 as several death penalty appeals were waiting on Supreme Court ruling.

A 1976 ruling of the Supreme Court gave capital punishment an official seal of approval again and executions resumed. By then however the Oklahoma electric chair was so derelict that local legislature began searching for a cheaper alternative than a complete restoration of the chair. They called the Head of the Anesthesiology department of the university and he proposed to administer a drug concoction to the death row prisoners, ensuring a quick and painless death.

The bill got adopted in 1977, quickly followed by a similar bill in Texas. Legal matters slowed down the application of the lethal injection for a couple of years, but by 1982 the first death row prisoner was executed this way. Now lethal injection is the most important execution method in the United States.

Like I said before, your killer must be a pretty strong guy, not only to decapitate a victim in one single blow, but also to witness an execution by lethal injection when the victim isn't strapped down. Most people think that the lethal injection ensures a painless and tranquil death, that the prisoner just goes to sleep, but nothing could be further from the truth. It only looks that way because the prisoner is strapped down and injected with Pavulon.

I'm sure your pathologist already explained this in great detail, but just to recap: three chemicals are injected at a one minute interval. First they inject a general anesthetic to put the prisoner to sleep. He doesn't actually lose consciousness, he just isn't totally aware of his body anymore.

Then they inject Pavulon, a curare derivative used in surgery as a muscle relaxant. They inject it in such a high dosage however that all muscles except the heart constrict. The prisoner can't move, can't scream and in the end he can't even breathe.

The last chemical injected is potassium chloride to stop the heart from beating. When it is injected in high doses it causes all muscles to lock up in extreme contraction. Until the blood pumps the chemical to the heart, the prisoner is in extreme agony.

For a long time nobody knew that the lethal injection was so extremely painful. Because the prisoners are strapped down on a gurney unable to move or scream, everybody thought it was the most humane method of execution so far. It wasn't until an unfortunate accident happened at a hospital that people began to think otherwise.

A woman was given a lethal dose of potassium chloride by mistake and screamed in agony for minutes, convulsing violently before finally succumbing to cardiac arrest. She wasn't given Pavulon, so her vocal chords weren't paralyzed and she wasn't strapped down, so she could move around on the bed. Your victim wasn't strapped down, so all his muscles would have constricted, sending him into violent spasms until he arrested. If you can witness such an atrocity without puking your guts out, you have to be really heartless.

Your killer has two faces: on the one hand he's cold, calculated and ruthless, on the other he worries about the perpetual state of his victim's souls. In my opinion, you're looking for a highly educated man with a good knowledge of penology, medicine, poetry, mythology and religion.

He's strong and smart, hell bent on revenge and he won't stop until the very last culprit of his injustice is punished. You really need to delve into Turner's past as a judge; only then will you find the connection between the victims and catch your killer. He's too intelligent to leave behind any forensic evidence and he'll keep on killing until he's caught or has killed every single man on his last, whatever comes first."

"Well professor, you've certainly given us a lot to think about," Warrick said somewhat dejectedly.

"I'm sorry I couldn't be of more help," Landers said. "But feel free to call me when he kills again, I'll do everything in my power to help you: lend you assistants to help delve into Turner's past, clue you in on specific execution methods, …. You name it, I'll do it."

"We certainly appreciate the offer Professor Landers, but I sincerely hope that we don't have to take you up on your offer," Sara said shaking the man's hand.

"As do I Ms. Sidle," he said, "as do I."

"Thanks for your time Professor and again sorry about the late hour," Warrick said before leaving the man's office with Sara.

Chapter 34.

Finishing the mind numbing task of cross referencing all of Butler's phone calls, Sara had trouble suppressing a wide yawn. Another few hours of dreary lab work none too appealing; she decided a short nap on the lumpy lounge couch was in order. She'd never admit it to Catherine, but the pregnancy was starting to affect her. For one thing, she needed a lot more sleep than she used to.

Sighing deeply, she stretched out in the vain hope of getting rid of the crick in her neck. When she spotted Warrick walking by from the corner of her eye, she jumped up and shouted out his name before he could disappear into the locker room. She hadn't expected him to still be here since shift had officially ended about half an hour ago.

Retracing his last steps, Warrick walked into Sara's favorite little lab. Taking note of her slightly flushed cheeks and the obvious fatigue marring her face, he smirked: "madam hollered?"

"Erm yeah, sorry about that," she stammered bashfully, "I was just so surprised to see you, I thought you had already clocked out. Anyway I was wondering if you could do me a big favor? Catherine called about twenty minutes ago; she and Grissom finally have a solid lead on the escort's current whereabouts and want to pursue it before she vanishes into thin air again.

They'll be at least another couple of hours and that kind of leaves me in a lurch. Catherine and I rode in together this morning and she has the key to the car. Normally I'd just hail a cab, but I think she has my wallet too. I would have bugged Rat Boy for a ride, but he has already left for the day. So …. Could you drop me off at my place?"

"I would really make it worth your while," she added a few seconds later, smiling brightly until she realized just how her words could be construed. "Oh God that came out wrong, I meant that I'd offer you a homemade breakfast for your trouble. Not that I don't think you're really great, you are. You probably have dozens of women fawning all over you and with good reason, so I really do think that you're worth it. It's just that …."

Increasingly amused by Sara's nervous ramblings – he had to admit she looked totally adorable when flustered – Warrick decided to put her out of her misery before she dug an even bigger hole for herself. Certainly understanding why Catherine had fallen for her, though he considered Sara a sister he could see the attraction, he said: "thanks for the vote of confidence there Sara. I think you're really great too and of course I'll drive you home."

"Thanks Warrick," she said, flashing him her famous gap toothed smile. "I really think that a nap on that sorry excuse for a couch would have done me in. We should receive hazard money for just sitting on that damn thing. A nail bed is probably more comfortable. Anyway, I'll be right with you. I just have to clear these papers and tell call Catherine that there's a change of plans."

"That's okay," he said. "Take your time, I'll just wait for you by the car."

"So," Warrick asked when they were finally heading for Sara's apartment, "did you make any breakthroughs?"

"No, not really," Sara sighed dramatically. "I mean it all seems so anticlimactic after that gory talk with Professor Landers. The fingerprints were a dead end like we pretty much expected. I had the local police departments check out the whereabouts of the identified persons, but they all had a solid alibi for the time of the murder. One was even in a holding cell for a drunk and disorderly.

I checked the numbers Butler called with the hotel phone and his cell, but no real surprises: except for the odd phone call to his wife, they were all business related. My guess is that he called the escort agency from a public phone, the smart thing to do if you don't want to leave incriminating evidence for a suspecting wife.

There was one odd thing though, he got called a couple of times from a public phone, presumably our killer setting up the meet. I traced the number back to a phone booth on the Strip, not too far away from Caesar's Palace. I went over to check it and to Jacqui's utter dismay, I found over fifty different prints.

At first I thought it would help us pinpoint the killer's current location as you don't use a phone booth miles from your home, but again no dice. The phone booth's out of order and has been for the past five days according to City Maintenance. My guess is that the killer somehow manipulated the phone, tapping into the line from somewhere else. He was probably sitting in the safety of his own home when he did that. Anyway, what about you? What did you find?"

Clearing his throat, Warrick answered: "well, I struck a dead end too. I wanted to find out how easy it is to get hold of the three drugs used in the lethal injection. They're hardly drugs sold over the counter, even with a medical equipment, so I focused on hospital break ins. The hospitals in the greater Las Vegas area get broken into on a regular basis, mostly junks looking for their next fix.

None of them reported one of our three drugs missing however. I searched the national database and the only time a hospital reported the three drugs missing was a burglary a couple of months ago in New York. I guess our killer has been planning this for a while. Anyway, the case remains unsolved, there were hardly any leads to go on and the police never had a suspect in custody. I've asked New York to fax us the details, but I'm not really holding my breath that it'll help us further.

I also conducted a more thorough search for our sword. Yesterday Nick dropped by every shop he could think of, but nothing: our killer didn't buy the sword locally. I decided to extend the search to auction houses and break ins. According to the national database, not a hell of a lot of swords were stolen the past couple of months.

There was a burglary in an Alabaman weapons museum, but the theft report was incomplete due to bad stock keeping. None of the swords matched our description, but like I said, with an incomplete list we can't be too sure. I've also found a couple of auction houses specialized in weapons; local police departments will check those later today.

"Doesn't sound too promising," Sara sighed dejectedly. "I guess that, unless the escort knows something, the case has reached a standstill. Forensically we have nothing more to go on. Professor Landers was right, we need to focus on Tuner's past and hope we'll find the connection before he kills again."

"I know what you mean, but I still have to talk to Turner's boss. Who knows…. Maybe he knows the real reason why the judge resigned," Warrick said, desperately trying to find some silver lining.

"Anyway, you'd better take Catherine with you when you interview Turner's boos, otherwise you might have another murder on your hands," Sara warned.

Scrunching his eyebrows in confusion, he asked: "another murder? Why? I mean, I don't understand …."

Chuckling Sara answered: "Nick is enemy number one on Catherine's hit list at the moment. He walked in on us in the locker room yesterday and he didn't seem to take it too well. I'm sure he's just shocked, he'll come around eventually but Catherine is livid. You'd better keep those two separated for the time being, you know how Catherine gets when she's pissed off. Otherwise you might just find Nick in a pool of blood, bludgeoned to death with one of Catherine's spiked heels."

Sympathizing with Nick's plight, <hell hath no fury like a woman scorned> described a pissed off Catherine perfectly, Warrick chuckled: "consider it done"

"It's the first on the right here," Sara informed him. "So …. How does a Mediterranean omelet grab you?"

"Sounds divine," he answered, feeling his stomach grumble in anticipation. Parking the car near a tree, he killed the engine and grabbed his coat before following Sara out to the apartment. Casting a more than envious glance at the beautiful black motorcycle on the closed off parking lot, Warrick wasn't really minding where he was going and almost body checked Sara when she stopped to open the door.

"Come on in," she said, throwing her keys in an empty bowl. "Don't mind Garfield and Tequila, they might think they're tigers defending the house, but they're all roar and no bite." On cue the two cats appeared, casting suspicious glances at the newcomer. "Anyway, make yourself at home, I'll be right back."

When Sara disappeared into the bedroom to change, Warrick took a good look around her apartment; he was a CSI after all, snooping around came second nature to him. The room told him so much about Sara that he didn't know: her love for family and friends, her passion for books, her strange obsession with tiny Buddha's,,…. Chuckling softly at a photograph of Greg and Sara in a goofy embrace, he continued his tour of Sara's domain, determined to unravel the mystery of his host.

Whistling softly at the entertainment centre taking a prone position in the room, Warrick thought he had died and gone to heaven when he noticed Sara's music collection. Not only was she the proud owner of a CD collection that easily rival his, she also had a rack full of LP's. Interested he sat down and started flipping through them, amazed that they shared a similar taste in music.

Gasping softly when he recognized the cover of a certain LP, he almost reverently took it out of the rack to study the back flap. He was so caught up in a world of his own, he let out a very unmanly shriek when he suddenly felt a friendly nudge against his thigh. Absentmindedly scratching the purring Garfield behind the ears, he called out: "hey Sara, would you mind if I played one of your blues LP's?"

"Knock yourself out," she said emerging from the bedroom and disappearing into the kitchen. When he heard pots and pans clattering, he carefully took the LP out of it's protective wrapper. Keeping it well out of reach of the still purring Garfield, he blew a thin layer of dust away before putting it on the player. When he heard the intro to "that old devil called love", he sighed contentedly and settled down on Sara's couch, closing his eyes to better appreciate the music.

He let Billie Holiday's powerful, emotive voice wash all over him, escaping into a world of his own. Lady Day cast her spell on him, only broken when the divine aroma of coffee and omelets penetrated his bliss filled haze. His stomach grumbling widely, he picked Garfield of his lap and mumbled: "sorry cat, you'll have to find another pillow."

Leaning against the kitchen island, watching Sara scoop the omelet on two plates, he asked: "where did you find that LP? I've been looking all over for it, trawling local flea markets, fruitlessly browsing the internet,… It's a very rare find these days and then in such a mint condition, it must have cost you an absolute fortune."

Sitting down at the kitchen table and indicating to Warrick to dig in, Sara said: "no, not really, my granddad have it to me. He was a very big jazz and blues freak, if you think my collection is to die for, you should have seen his. He had them all: Billie Holliday, Duke Ellington, Sara Vaughan, Charlie Parker, … Anyway, he gave it to me the day I graduated from Harvard. He knew how much I loved that LP, I was always borrowing it from him, so he decided to give it to me as a graduation present. It was the single best gift I ever received."

Staying silent for a while to take his first bite, Warrick said: "hey Sara, this is really good."

"You sound surprised," Sara laughed.

"I guess I am," he admitted. "I never knew you could cook. Anyway, tell me more about your grandparents, it sounds like you loved them very much."

Yeah, I do. I was really heartbroken when my granddad passed away unexpectedly ten years ago. One day we were planning a trip together and the next he was just gone. But I guess he had a good life…. You know, he and my gran met at a jazz club in Paris and fell in love at first sight. He always told me that it was her voice that did it for him. He was standing at the back of the club with no clear view of the stage, but then he heard my gran sing. He just knew he had to meet her and the rest as they say is history.

They got married and moved to San Francisco, opening a string of jazz clubs in the area. A lot of the big names played for them apparently. Anyway my granddad had the tradition of buying the records of all the artists that ever played for him, to the despair of my gran sometimes as she soon had a house filled with LP's. She still has most of them I think. She could never depart with all of them she says, they represent such a big part of her life."

"Wow, your granddad had his own jazz club, I can't quite believe it. He met the giants of jazz and blues, I really wish I could have been in his shoes. What about your gran? Does she still sing?" Warrick asked.

"Yes, occasionally. When she gets really homesick, she sings Josephine Baker's "J'ai deux amours" and I must say, her accent is way better too. But yeah, she still performs now and then, her repertoire can be compared to Ella Fitzgerald's I suppose. I guess my grandparents are the reason why I love jazz, to me it represents my childhood. What about you? Why do you love jazz?" she asked, putting the empty dishes on the sink.

"Well more or less the same reason, I guess. I was a bit of a tear away as a child, always getting into trouble. My gran had one hell of a time keeping me on the straight and narrow. One day she saw me tinkering on the community center's old piano and she promised me that, if I kept my head low and improved my grades, she'd buy me a piano.

She had to save months for it and work her fingers to the bone, but she kept her promise. One day, when I came back from school, there was this huge big piano in the living room. A second hand one of course, but I didn't care. A friend of my gran, an old jazz musician, was kind enough to give me some lessons and I guess it grew from there. I thought of going professional for a while, but you know …."

"Why didn't you?" Sara asked.

"I don't know, lots if reasons I guess. My gran wasn't doing too well at the time so I couldn't really leave her. Then there's the uncertainty of the music business, you never know when you next pay check's going to come in …. In the end I opted for security and became a CSI," he said.

"Do you regret your decision?" she asked.

"Sometimes I do, especially when we're working on a difficult case, but overall … no, not really. I'm happy with what I have, I'm happy with the man I've become," he said. "Besides, if a case becomes too hard, I just play the piano at home or I go to the old folks' home to entertain them, that way I have the best of both worlds."

Looking at his watch, he then added: "look at the time, I'd better get some shut eye, otherwise I'll end up hitting the Fa key with my right hand. Anyway, thank you for a wonderful breakfast and I'll be back around two thirty, okay?"

"Breakfast was the least I could do. Come on, I'll walk you to the door," Sara said.

Standing in the hallway, looking at the parking lot, Warrick suddenly asked: "do you know whose Harley that is? It's a real beauty."

"Stallion you mean?" she laughed. "yeah, it's mine. I bought it while I was still living in San Francisco. Why?"

"You have a Harley? You never cease to amaze me Sidle, I really had no idea. Could I take it out for a spin sometime?" he asked with a puppy dog look in his eyes.

"Sure, you can drive it to Greg's this afternoon if you want," she said.

"Really???? That would be great!! But wait, I can't. What about my keyboard?"

"Oh yeah, I didn't think of that," she admitted, trying to come up with a solution "well, why don't I take your car to Greg's? I mean, I need lots of room anyway: Lindsey, guitars, amplifiers, microphones, …"

"Yeah, that could work," Warrick said with an excited gleam in his eyes. "I guess I'll see you in a couple of hours then. Bye."

Sara closed the door with a smile on her face, Warrick really looked like a kid in a candy store when she said he could ride her Harley. Making a mental note to call her gran about some jazz LP's for him, she quickly did the washing up before going to bed herself. She had to pick Lindsey up in a couple of hours and needed all the sleep she could get, even if it meant a short cat nap.

She figured she could always rest later, when Lindsey was in bed. Yawning widely she settled down under the covers and turned the bed lamp off. She was out like a light in a matter of minutes, mumbling softly when she felt the bed dip beside her a couple of hours later, but never fully waking up.

Waking up to the screaming guitar solo in AC/DC's "Thunderstruck", Sara carefully cracked one eye open to peer at her alarm clock. Seeing she still had time for a little slumber, she put the damn thing on snooze with a resolved thud before turning to her back. Burrowing closer in the warmth the blankets and Catherine's snuggling embrace offered, she closed her eyes for another couple of minutes, until Tequila landed on her with a well aimed jump.

Gasping for air, Sara jumped to an upright position, her heart thumping wildly in overdrive. She tried to stare the cat down with a menacing glare, but Tequila just kept on washing herself before adopting a sphinx like position on Sara's stomach. Knowing that there was no way she'd get back to sleep now, she turned the clock radio off before it started blaring again and stretched out languidly.

Her jerking movements causing Catherine to mumble, Sara looked to her left and just had to smile at the sight. Catherine was almost completely covered by the blankets; only her hair, strewn all over the pillow like a golden halo, was to be seen. Sara sat watching her lover for a while, finding Catherine's soft and rhythmic breathing the most soothing and oddly erotic thing she had ever heard.

The clock was ticking however and Sara realized that she had to pick up Lindsey; with regret she moved to leave the warm cocoon of Catherine's embrace. "Don't go," Catherine murmured to her back, her voice thick with sleep.

"I have to baby," Sara whispered back. "Warrick's going to be here in an hour and I still need to pick up Lindsey. You sleep, okay?" Giving Catherine a chaste kiss on the cheek, Sara scooted Tequila off the bed and grabbed her clothes before going into the bathroom, her lover already sound asleep again by the time she turned on the shower.

About twenty minutes later Sara was already heading towards Melissa's, happily munching on an apple to quell her first hunger. Tapping her fingers on the steering wheel to the rhythm of "Hotel California", she zipped through Sunday traffic with a remarkable ease.

Parking in front of the house, she checked her appearance one final time in the rear view mirror before getting out of the car. A cold gust of wind chilling her to the bone, she zipped up her denim coat and all but ran to the door. She hadn't even pressed the bell yet when the door opened. A woman in her late thirties with a very nasal voice said: "you must be Sara, I've heard so much about you. Well don't just stand there, come on in."

Stunned for a moment, Sara always found overly cheery people suspicious, she said: "erm thanks … erm I'm sorry I didn't quite catch your name?"

"It's Bonnie, Bonnie Roberts. I'm so very pleased to meet you at last. Lindsey has been singing your praises all day yesterday," the woman said, giving Sara a very firm handshake. Wiping her feet on the coconut mat, Sara followed Bonnie to the living room, inwardly cringing when the woman suddenly screeched: "Lindsey, Sara's here."

Arriving in the living room at last, Sara found herself being hawked at by the whole Roberts family. Dad, children, gran, yes even the family parrot were looking at her quite strangely, like they couldn't believe their eyes. Looking down at herself, but finding nothing wrong with her appearance, she didn't know what to do. In the end she settled for a "hi" giving them all a short wave and an awkward grin. Wishing to God that Lindsey would hurry up, she just stood there feeling like the bearded lady at a curiosity show.

"Where are my manners," Bonnie suddenly said, feeling genuinely embarrassed about her family's rude stares. "would you like something to drink Sara?"

"No thank you Bonnie, that's very kind of you but Lindsey and I are on a rather tight schedule," Sara said, offering the woman a weak smile. She felt that, if she had to smile any harder, she'd get muscle cramp. Luckily for her Lindsey ran in, squealing loudly as she was being pursued by a giggling Melissa.

The girl coming to a full stop right in front of her, Sara produced her genuine 400 Watt smile and immediately taking Lindsey's backpack, she asked: "hey short stuff, are you ready to go?" When Lindsey nodded, Sara looked up to Bonnie and said: "it was a real pleasure to meet you and thank you for having Lindsey."

"The pleasure was all mine, Lindsey's a sweet kid. Come on, I'll walk you to the door," the woman said. With a final wave to the rest of the family who were still looking at Sara with wonder, they followed Bonnie out to the hallway. Just when Sara was about to leave, she felt Bonnie grab her arm and not wanting Lindsey to witness the scene she was sure would follow, she told the girl to wait for her by the car. Bracing herself for a verbal lashing she turned back to face Bonnie, but the woman quite took her by surprise.

I'm so sorry about the way my family treated you just now," Bonnie said sincerely. "They're not normally like that and they didn't mean to sate like that, it's just … well, you're just not what they expected. The way Lindsey described you last night, a Harley, a tattoo, your own rock band, a penchant for leather, …. I guess they thought a foul mouthed Hell's Angel wannabe would be walking through that door. I don't know, some kind of mean and tough cross between Tommy Lee Cooper and Marilyn Manson."

"What?" Sara stammered, completely taken aback. "I don't know what to say really, except that I'm very sorry to disappoint them then. I'll be sure to wear my leathers and combat boots next time," she added sarcastically but Bonnie didn't seem to notice.

"I hope you don't think it's because you and Catherine are together, it's not. Ellen's' puppy episode' opened our eyes to that," the woman said smiling. "I guess they just expected someone … rougher and butchier I suppose, kind of like Corky from 'Bound'. Anyway I just wanted to apologize in case they made you feel uncomfortable."

Feeling frustrated at the Roberts' attitude and angry at being lumped into a specific category again, Sara felt all her heckles starting to rise. Willing herself to stay polite, Melissa was Lindsey's best friend after all, she said: "that's quite alright Bonnie, you get used to it after a while. Anyway, it was a real pleasure to meet you and I guess I'll be seeing you tomorrow morning when I pick up Melissa. Bye."

Still inwardly seething, Sara joined an already impatient Lindsey at the car. After making sure the girl was properly buckled up, she went over to the driver's side and drove off. People like the Roberts made her so angry, they pretend to be open minded and liberal, saying they've got nothing against gays, but in truth they're just as bigoted and prejudiced. They still didn't see her as a person, but rather as a special category. They were the type of people that said: "but you can't be a lesbian, you don't look like one."

She hated labels, they were too confining, they restricted your personality. So what if she liked motorcycles, tattoos and leather? It didn't make her butch, just like her crying at sappy films and secretly loving being taken care of once and a while didn't make her a femme. She was amazed at how long these stereotypes persisted. Truth be told, she was actually surprised Bonnie wasn't afraid that she'd seduce her. Then again they probably thought she'd seduced a rather unwilling Catherine. She was sick and tired of all these stereotypes: she was her own person, with likes and dislikes just like everybody else.

She was abruptly shaken from her inward rant when Lindsey started to fiddle with the car radio. Finally settling on a station with bubble gum music, the girl asked: "where's mom? Is she still sleeping?"

"Yeah, she had to work overtime this morning, so we'll have to be really quiet when we go in, okay?" Sara answered, feeling her anger slowly dissipate at the thought of Catherine. "So tell me, how was the sleepover? Did you have fun?"

"Oh yeah," Lindsey gushed, "we listened to music all night and watched videos and painted our nails. What do you think of the color?" Lindsey asked, waving her fingers before Sara's eyes. When Sara commented that it was a very nice color indeed, the girl continued: "I know that I promised to keep it a secret, but I just had to tell Melissa that I'm going to be a big sister. She's dead excited, we both can't wait for the babies to be born."

"I promised her that she could be an honorary sister. I mean I know that she has brothers, but they're both older than her and very annoying. They're always teasing us, so I said she would share my brother and sister. That's okay, isn't it?"

"Of course it is, short stuff. That's an excellent idea," Sara said reassuringly, although she didn't quite know how Melissa's parents would react when they found out. That's something she had to discuss with Catherine later, how they'd deal with bigoted parents. "The babies are very lucky to have sisters like you two," she added.

"So you're not mad that I told Melissa? I swear I won't tell anyone else and I made Melissa pinkey swear it too," Lindsey whispered.

"No, I'm not mad," Sara laughed. "Of course you had to tell Melissa. She's your best friend and best friends tell each other everything. Don't worry about it, okay? But remember, not a word to anyone else, especially not Warrick when we see him later."

"Uncle Warrick is coming? But I thought we'd go to uncle Greg's?" the girl asked.

"We are, but Warrick is coming with us. He's bringing his keyboard, he promised to help me rehearse," Sara said.

"Oh cool, you'll really sound like a band then. Uncle Warrick is really good, you know? And he thought me how to play chopsticks." When they arrived at Sara's apartment, the girl added: "look, he's already here." Lindsey opened the car window before yelling: "hey uncle Warrick."

Stopping dead in his tracks, Warrick turned around and went to meet them at the car. "Hey there princess? How are you doing? Are you still going to marry me when you're older?"

Lindsey thought about it for a while before answering: "yes, but only if Justin Timberlake doesn't ask me first."

"I'm crushed," he whispered so only Sara would here, "turned down in favor of a snot nosed young brat."

"Don't worry about it Romeo," Sara laughed, "your secret is safe with me. Anyway, you're here early? You couldn't wait to ride Stallion, huh?"

"Busted," he grinned sheepishly.

"you'll need to help me lug all the equipment first though," she laughed. "We need to be very quiet though, Catherine didn't come in until late, she's still sleeping. I know she can sleep through a canon going off beside her, but still …"

Between the three of them, they managed to get the equipment in Warrick's car in a matter of minutes. With a huge smile on his face when Sara handed him her keys and helmet, Warrick told them he's meet them at Greg's. Feeding the cats, checking up on Catherine for a final time and leaving her a tiny note, Sara ushered Lindsey to the car. At a much slower pace, they made their way to Greg's house.

Chapter 35.

After Warrick had sped off like a bat out of hell, leaving them standing in a faint cloud of desert dust, Sara and Lindsey went back up to Sara's apartment. Though they were running a bit late, they still had a couple of things to do before they could follow Warrick out to Greg's place. Entrusting Lindsey with the task of checking up on her mother, making Sara an overnight bag and feeding the cats, Sara sat down at the kitchen table to write Catherine a note.

Although she had originally only intended on letting her lover know where they were, Sara found that her creative juices were flowing so she ended up writing Catherine a lengthy letter, letting her know exactly how she felt about her. She had only just finished when Lindsey entered the kitchen to let her know she was ready to go. Sara decided not to reread her letter out of fear that she'd up binning it.

Although she had spoken from the heart and every word expressed exactly how she felt about Catherine, she realized that she'd find her own fluffy mutterings too embarrassing. So instead she sealed it in an envelope and put it on the kitchen table before joining Lindsey in the living room. Ticking off her mental list of things to do, she was caught a little off guard by Lindsey's whispered question: "Sara, would you mind if borrowed your video camera for a while?"

"Sure I guess you can borrow it for a while," Sara muttered distractedly. "What do you need it for anyway?"

Moving closer to Sara, as if to make her a partner in a huge conspiracy, Lindsey said in very hushed tones: "well, see it's like this. It's Christmas pretty soon and we have this family tradition: one of the Christmas gifts we give each other can't be bought in a shop, you have to make it yourself. Gifts from the heart mom calls them, she says they're more precious because you have put a lot of time, love and effort into them. Anyway, I was thinking that maybe I could make mom a special videotape? You know, like a video clip of all the things she likes."

"That sounds like a wonderful idea, short stuff. I'm sure your mother will love it. Of course you can use my video camera, I'll just get it for you," Sara said.

"Great, thanks," Lindsey smiled. "Could you also help me edit the edit the fragments and maybe put them on some music or something?"

"I'm sorry Lindsey, but I don't really know how to do that," Sara smiled apologetically. When she saw Lindsey's face fall, she quickly added: "but not to worry, I know someone who's a whiz in stuff like that. I'll take you to see her tomorrow after school if you want?"

"Cool, thanks. That would be great. So ….. what are you going to give mom?" Lindsey asked curiously. "Remember, you can't buy it in a shop, you have to make it yourself."

"That's a very good question," Sara said, handing Lindsey her digital video camera. "I'll have to give it some thought. Anyway, we'd better get going before Greg starts to worry what's keeping us." Locking the door behind her, Sara ushered the little girl to Warrick's car.

Although they set off at a much slower pace and even stopped along the way to pick up some new batteries for the video camera, Sara wasn't at all surprised to find that they were still the first to arrive. If the way Warrick raced off earlier was anything to go by, Sara was sure he was giving her Harley a good and proper work out. Undoubtedly choosing a rather scenic route to Greg's, it might take Warrick a little while longer to arrive.

By the time they got out of the car, Lindsey telling Sara all the things she intended to capture on film, Greg was already waiting for them at the front porch, sporting a huge grin. When they noticed the silly and once clean apron he was wearing, Lindsey started to giggle and Sara couldn't help but chuckle. Only Greg would chose to wear a Looney Tunes apron of Tweety and Sylvester and get away with it. Her sparkling eyes unable to hide her obvious amusement, she smirked: "Hi there Tweety, does this mean you've been experimenting with food again? I hope you didn't set fire to your stove like last time!"

Sticking out his tongue at that last comment, Greg descended the few steps, careful to avoid the rickety middle one. He stopped right in front of them and with his usual theatrical flare, he greeted them with an overly courteous bow. Putting on a very fake foreign accent, almost sounding like a Transylvanian vampire with a sore throat, he dramatically declared: "ladies, I found it such an honor to have the pleasure of your company this lovely Sunday afternoon that I've prepared a delicious, exquisite, mouth watering dessert just for you. A royal dessert that'll melt on your tongue, cause tiny explosions of culinary delight behind your eyes and leave you begging for more. Only the very best is ever good enough for my two beautiful princesses."

Giggling like mad at Greg's phony accent, wild gesticulations and over the top flattery, Lindsey turned crimson red when Greg got down on bended knee to give the girl a chaste kiss on the hand. To Sara's eternal amusement, Lindsey didn't know what to say for a moment. Then she turned to Sara and asked: "does Uncle Greg want us to play guinea pig to his cooking experiments again?" When Sara merely nodded, finding it very hard to keep a straight face at Lindsey's expression, the girl rolled her eyes and stated: "uncle Greg must have asked his girlfriend over for dinner again. He only asks us to taste his cooking when he wants to impress Samantha."

Sara had to chuckle at Lindsey's blunt, but accurate statement and whispered: "you're so busted Casanova, outwitted by a kid. Shame on you."

Greg had the good grace to look bashful for a minute, but then he clutched his hand over his heart and with a wounded expression on his face, he said: "Lindsey, I'm crushed that you'd think so lowly of me. Don't you know that you're the only queen in my heart? Step into my humble abode and let me prove it by dazzling you with the best dessert you've ever tasted."

A rather pensive look on her face, she still remembered the god awful taste of Greg's last cooking experiment, Lindsey asked: "what did you make?"

Wrapping his arm around the girl's shoulder to lead her into the once pristine kitchen, Greg replied:" I made the world's greatest tiramisu, even if I do say so myself."

Greg's warm smile and energetic enthusiasm were so contagious that Sara was already looking forward to her first spoonful, so she quickly followed the terrible twosome into the house. Lindsey was still a bit doubtful however and asked: "tiramisu? I don't think I've had that before. What does it taste like?"

Finding it very hard to describe the classic Italian dessert to the little girl, Greg looked pleadingly at Sara for help. Clearing her throat, she said: "well short stuff, you like chocolate pudding and sponge cakes, don't you? Just imagine pastry made of lady fingers with very light, mocha flavored cream on top. A subtle, tantalizing hint of Italian cheese, amaretto and coffee with chocolate sprinkles on top, causing a heavenly explosion on your tongue. You'll love it, trust me."

Despite Sara's reassurances, Lindsey still wasn't too convinced. Scrunching her nose, she said: "amaretto is booze, right? Oh yuck! Cheese, coffee and booze? I don't think I'll like that tiramisu thingy. Besides, mom would never let me have that."

"Hmmm, you've got a good point there, short stuff. Catherine would skin me alive if I let you have a whole plate of tiramisu," Sara said. When she noticed Greg's crestfallen face at the loss of one of his critics, she quickly continued: "how about you have one spoonful of mine, just to see what it tastes like and we give your portion to Warrick when he gets here?" When the girl nodded, Sara turned to Greg and said: "patron, one tiramisu and two spoons if you please."

"Of course madam, coming right up," Greg smiled in full waiter mode, busying himself with whipping up a copious plate of Tuscan Truffle. Wringing a towel between his hands, he looked on expectantly as they both took their first spoonful. "And?" he asked nervously, "how does it taste?"

It tastes a bit funny, but in a very good way. It's much better than the last dish you had us taste. I'll go videotape Boomer and the puppies, okay?" she said, referring to Greg's black Labrador.

Cringing at the thought of his disastrous attempt at partridge with parsnips, Greg turned to face Sara, who was eagerly spooning up the last of the dessert. Putting her spoon back on the empty plate, she licked her lips before saying: "Greg, that was simply divine, the best tiramisu I've had in a very long time. It had just the right amount of coffee and amaretto. Samantha will love it, trust me."

"Really?" Greg asked. "I couldn't find any mascarpone, so I was a bit worried the tiramisu might lose some of it's edge when I replaced it with whipped cream, but if you say it's fine, I guess I did okay then."

"You've got nothing to worry about," Sara said reassuringly. "If you don't believe me, you can always ask Warrick when he gets here. When he heard we were jamming together and that we both play the guitar, he offered to help us out. He plays the piano and has a keyboard, so we'll sound more like a real band this time. Anyway, he'll tell you the same thing: this is a dessert to die for. You know, I bet I can guess why you choose tiramisu as dessert." When Greg turned bright red, Sara knew she had hit the nail on the head and continued: "it's rumored that tiramisu was one of the favorite desserts of the Venetian courtesans. They used it as a little pick me up in between their romantic encounters. Tiramisu literally means 'pick or pull me up'. You must have one hell of a night planned, if you're serving tiramisu as dessert."

Greg just stood there nailed to the floor, mortified at being found out. He should have known that Sara would see right through him, the way she was able to read him was spooky at times. Not really knowing what to answer, he was relieved when the doorbell announced Warrick's arrival. Deciding that losing face once a day was quite enough, he quickly tossed his apron on the kitchen counter and went to open the door to a widely grinning Warrick. "So sorry, I'm late," Warrick said, "I guess I lost track of time."

When they arrived in the kitchen, Sara asked: "so? How was it?"

"Really awesome, your Harley handles like a dream. It was such a rush. Thanks so much for letting me borrow her for a while," Warrick gushed.

"Anytime," Sara smiled. "Anyway, we need your help. Greg has been cooking again and he needs you to taste something."

"Yeah?" Warrick asked, looking doubtfully from Sara to Greg and back again. When Greg put a plate of tiramisu in front of him, Warrick asked: "I'm not about to keel over from the first taste, am I? I heard about Sander's cooking disasters."

"Once …. I set the stove on fire once," Greg muttered through clenched teeth, am I going to her about that unfortunate incident for the rest of my life?"

Not paying any attention to Greg's grumbles, Sara laughed: "no, you're not going to keel over. I think it tastes great, but Greg wants a second opinion. So if you could just give him your honest, unbiased opinion?"

A little hesitantly Warrick scooped up a spoonful of tiramisu. He eyed it suspiciously, even sniffed it, before finally daring to taste it. "Man, this is awesome," he said. "Way better than the rather bland tiramisu I had at the Italian the other day. You rock, dude. This is really great."

"Thanks," Greg smiled embarrassedly. "I guess that if I can hack it as a CSI I can always become a pastry chef."

"Well, if all your desserts taste like this, I'll be your best customer," Warrick said, finishing off his plate. Looking at his watch, he added: "guess we'd better get this show on the road. I noticed that everything is still in the car. Come on Sanders, time to flex those muscles."

By the time Catherine woke from her deep, dream filled slumber, it was already way past four in the afternoon. The very last thing she wanted to see a cat's ass again, the last time nearly sent her into cardiac arrest, she carefully cracked an eye open to check her surroundings. Immensely pleased Garfield and Tequila hadn't taken up residence in the bed, she stretched out languidly, unable to suppress a wide yawn. Though the nap had done her the world of good, she was still tired and practically had to force herself to get out of bed and face the real world again.

Somewhere in her sleep cogged mind she recalled Sara mentioning Warrick dropping by, making her frown deeply as she had no idea how her colleague fitted in the girls' plans for the afternoon. Determined to solve this intriguing little enigma as soon as she'd had her coffee – her brain cells needed the caffeine kick start – she tied Sara's bathrobe around her and shuffled into the kitchen. Knowing Sara there'd be a tiny note explaining everything anyway.

Determined to fully indulge in her caffeine craving now that Sara wasn't around, Catherine decided to make herself a cop of coffee before hitting the shower. Already knowing her way around the kitchen – control freaks like Sara had everything in their rightful place – she opened a cupboard and grabbed the coffee beans. Not unlike Greg Sara was a real coffee nut, preferring to buy beans and grind them herself. According to Sara, it preserved the flavor, enriched the aroma and gave the coffee that extra little kick.

The memory of her lover's enthusiastic, impassioned discussion of something as mundane as coffee made Catherine smile and think of Sara's other eccentricities. Unscrewing the jar lid, her thoughts still somewhere else, she was surprised to find a tiny little note inside.


I noticed you stopped drinking coffee around me ever since Mel put me on a caffeine free diet. Little gestures like that make me love you even more, especially since a little bird just told me how much you detest tea. Just so you'd know how much I love you, I wrote you a little something (1)

I don't need a compass to find you,
Your heart will lead my way.

I don't need the sun to find you,
Your smile will light my way.

I don't need the wind to find you,
Your voice will whisper my way.

I don't need the moon to find you,
Your eyes will shine my way.

I hope you enjoy your secretive cup,

Love Sara

A goofy smile on her face, who would have thought Sara would send her a sappy love note, Catherine just stood there for a minute, taking it all in. Trying to come up with ways of repaying the romantic gesture, Catherine began to grind the beans. The coffee machine gurgling and hissing, Catherine decided to have a quick shower. Not only would she be able to put the final touches to her plan, she'd also have the time to enjoy her newspaper and coffee in relative peace and quiet.

She had only been in the shower for a couple of minutes when the phone rang. Thinking it was Sara, asking what kept her, she scrambled out of the bathroom and made a mad dash for the lounge, quickly tying a big, fluffy beach towel around her. Dripping all over Sara's hard wood floor, scaring the cats with her rather frantic gestures, she answered quite out of breath: "Sara residence, Catherine speaking."


"Oh hi gran, …. erm no, you're not interrupting anything, I was just taking a shower. Congratulations on your wedding by the way."

"Yes, of course we'll be there, Lindsey and I wouldn't miss it for the world."

"No, they're not home at the moment, they're at Greg's again."

"I don't think she has heard from Thomas, she hasn't mentioned anything anyway."

"Okay, I'll tell her to give you a call this evening then."

"No, she's off tonight, she promised to baby sit Lindsey."

"I hadn't really thought of that, but you're right, Sara doesn't have an extra bed. I guess she'll be staying at my place then."

"No, I'll certainly tell her."

"Yeah, it was great talking to you too, bye."

A bit flabbergasted about the odd conversation, Sara's gran seemed really worried about something, Catherine just sat down on the couch for a minute, a pensive look on her face. One look at the clock snapped her back to attention; if she still wanted to have her coffee, she'd better get dressed quick snap.

Ten minutes later she entered the kitchen feeling like a whole new person, dressed to the nines and a plan to woo Sara already forming in her mind. The divine aroma of coffee drawing her in, she grabbed a mug and filled it. She was just about to take a sip when she spotted another note, this time on the kitchen table. Rather intrigued, she put her mug on the table and began to read.


Since you still haven't found my other note (you call yourself an investigator, shame on you), I thought I'd better write you another one and put it in plain sight this time.

You know, sometimes when I want tot ell you something, I wonder just how much of my feelings I should allow you to see. I know that I shouldn't be afraid to tell you anything, but I'm still quite new at this opening up stuff. I guess that I'm still slightly nervous about revealing what's on my mind.

I never want you to doubt my love and devotion however. I know that I'm nobody's poet but you are the sun in my day, the moon in my night and the wind in my sky. I hunger to know you completely. My love for you is pure, boundless through space and time. It grows stronger everyday, just because I know that you are mine. Eyes of passion, blue and tender, let me know that a whole new world awaits me. It's all because of you, you make me dare to love again.

Like Keats put it so eloquently way before me:< I cannot exist without you. I am forgetful of everything but seeing you again. My life seems to stop there, I see no further. You have absorbed me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I were dissolving. I have been astonished that men could die martyrs for religion... I have shuddered at it... I shudder no more. I could be martyred for my religion: Love is my religion. I could die for that. I could die for you. My creed is love, and you are its only tenet. You have ravished me away by a power I cannot resist.>

Just as the sunbeam cannot separate itself from the sun and the wave cannot separate itself from the sea, I cannot separate myself from you. You are a part of me, you are the one I've waited for my whole life. Because of you I'm finally whole for I've found the other part of my soul. We are angels with one wing, we can only fly while embracing each other.

Tous les mots qui me viennent, sont dérisoires. Je sais bien que je ne l'aie pas assez dit, mais je te le dis maintenant: je t'aime de tout mon cœur. Je suis née pour la seule raison de pouvoir t'aimer. Avant toi, j'existais, maintenant ma vie a finalement de la signifiance car je peux la partager avec toi. Je t'aime à folie.

Love, S.

P.S: Short Stuff and I are jamming with Greg and Warrick Why don't you join us?

Though Sara probably hadn't intended Catherine to find both notes on the same day, Catherine was speechless for the second time in less than an hour. Maybe Sara wasn't much of a wordsmith when it came to professing her everlasting love, but that didn't make the gesture any less meaningful to Catherine. The French alone was enough to send Catherine into a frenzy, she needed to see Sara right away. She wanted to kiss her senseless, tell her she felt exactly the same way, hold her tight and whisper that she'd never let her go.

Gulping down her coffee and putting the rest in a flask for tonight, she didn't become a CSI level three for being stupid, Catherine grabbed her coat and purse. With a final look around to see if she had everything, she fished her keys out of the purse and locked the door behind her.

Part 36

(1) excerpt from 'To find you', a poem I found on internet. Sadly I forgot to write down the name of the poet, so I guess I'll just put X.

(2) Translation of the French: The words that come to me are laughable. I know very well that I haven't mentioned it enough, but I'm telling you now: I love you with all my heart. The only reason I was born is to love you. Before you I merely existed, now my life finally has meaning because I get to share it with you. I love you madly.

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