DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement intended.
CHALLENGE: Submitted as part of the Sara/Sofia 'Let's Get Sassy' ficathon.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Ann for the beta.
A Little Pride in their Work
The scene was a nightmare.
A body, dull and lifeless, lay trampled on the ground. The death itself nothing new or noteworthy, but the contamination to the scene had been enough to send Grissom running back to the lab to meditate with his bugs. Thousands of feet had trodden the ground where the man now lay; sneakers, stilettos, work boots and strollers had all left their mark on the concrete beneath and beside the body's sprawl.
"I don't suppose there were any witnesses?" Catherine asked, a headache beginning to form as she noted all the trace evidence they'd soon be forced to collect.
Sara shrugged. "Ortega was collecting statements, but I haven't seen him since before you arrived." She looked up the street to where the sound of revelry could still be heard. "They said on the radio last night that they were expecting a crowd of ten thousand at the parade this year." Her gaze landed on the corpse. "The bigger the crowd, the less people see."
"Excuse me?" A portly gentleman stood to the side of the police tape, his eyes fixed on a spot several feet to Sara's left as he attempted to gain their attention without having to look at the cooling corpse. "The detective said I should talk to the lady in charge."
"You spoke with Detective Orgeta?" Catherine looked at the milling crowd behind the man but she couldn't see any sign of the missing detective. "When was this?"
"About twenty minutes ago." He mopped at his brow with a sweat stained cloth, the night air uncomfortable in its humidity. "He said to wait for the lady in charge." His gaze followed the same path Sara's had so recently taken. "Only I'm expected to MC one of the music events in . . ." He looked at his watch, a flustered desperation entering his voice, "thirty minutes."
"This is a homicide investigation," Sara reminded.
"I know. I'm sorry." More sweat made itself visible on his brow. "But, I don't know anything."
The two CSIs shared a rare look of understanding, the man's agitation one of the classic signs of a guilty conscience. "Why don't you accompany one of the uniform officers to the station," Catherine suggested, "he can take your . . ."
"That won't be necessary."
Three heads turned in the direction of the new voice, followed by the scrutiny of the tiny crowd that had gathered around the crime scene tape. The approaching blonde looked far more casual than either of the CSIs were used to, a skimpy t-shirt and low riding jeans accentuating a figure that was already blessed with womanly curves in all the right places.
Catherine looked confused. "Sofia? I didn't think you were on today."
"I'm not." Sofia ducked under the tape and sauntered towards the group, attaching her badge and gun as she did so. "But, Ortega's wife was taken to the hospital suddenly and I was the nearest officer on call." She didn't look pleased.
"Sofie?" The portly man looked relieved, and Sara was convinced that he would have hugged the newly arrived detective if Sofia wasn't, at that moment, adjusting her gun holster. "Thank God you're here. I was trying to explain to these ladies . . ."
"I heard," she quickly cut him off. "Give me a couple of minutes to speak with my colleagues, and we'll see about getting you out of here." Her smile was dazzling. "I know a certain CPA who would kill me if he missed the chance to hear you sing along to ABBA."
The man's cheeks infused with red, but the smile on his face conveyed genuine happiness at the teasing.
"What do we have?" Sofia moved out of range of the crowd and towards the body, her eyes constantly scanning the area around the corpse for anything significant. "Ortega said something about a riot?"
"No riot." Catherine knelt beside the body and used her pen to point to various parts of his anatomy as she spoke. "The contusions on his forehead, wrists and calf look to have been made by repeated blunt force trauma." She used the pen to slightly widen the gash in the man's left trouser leg. "Obviously, we won't know until we get him back, but it looks to me as if he was trampled to death."
"Could it have been an accident?"
"Yes." It was Sara who answered, the lack of acknowledgement she'd so far received from the detective making her word far more abrupt than she'd intended. "He could have been knocked down by one of the floats, and then stepped on by a dozen or so people before anyone would have realised what was going on."
"That's purely speculation," Catherine reminded them. "We won't know anything for sure until Doc Robbins has taken a look."
The murmuring from the crowd grew in volume, and the three women turned to see that a lively debate had erupted between the onlookers. Spotting their interest, one of the participants began waving in their direction, but before Sara's hopes of new information could rise to the surface, the woman was cooing 'Sofia' at the top of her dainty lungs.
"A friend of yours?"
Catherine hid a smile at Sara's tone; she didn't quite know what was going on with the pair, but she had a feeling the next few hours would be interesting.
Sofia ignored the question. "Why were you questioning Perry?"
"Perry?" Catherine was positive Sofia was referring to the portly gentleman, but she wanted to distract her two colleagues from the still waving redhead before Sara did something stupid and contaminated their crime scene even further.
"Perry Whitaker." Sofia pointed towards the man, who was now in conversation with a large woman who appeared to be the waving redhead's friend. "He's one of the float organisers."
"Another friend of yours?" Sara's eyes hadn't left the redhead, despite Catherine's efforts at distraction, and it was looking increasingly likely that she was going to arrest the woman for creating a public nuisance. "At least this one's dressed."
"Perry's a mortgage broker," Sofia explained to Catherine, having decided to let the brunette stew in her own juices for the time being. "He handled all the paperwork when I bought my condo." She turned and waved to the redhead. "And that's Candy."
"Also known as Gary Peterson." Sofia waited for the anger in Sara's eyes to be replaced with confusion. "He's my next door neighbour." Catherine laughed at the look of sheepish disbelief colouring Sara's face. "I think you met him," Sofia continued, "the last time you . . . stayed over."
Catherine's laughter was unrestrained as she watched the normally cool and aloof Sara Sidle turn an interesting shade of puce and smile apologetically at the detective. It was definitely one of those moments she wished she'd managed to catch on film because there was no way the guys back at the labs would believe her otherwise.
"Do you have reason to suspect Perry is involved?" Sofia asked, having decided to show leniency to her lover. "Only he's been planning this event for the last nine months, so if we can hold off questioning him for a couple of hours, I'd appreciate it."
"We've got nothing, besides his manner, to suggest anything." Catherine looked at the growing crowd and knew that it would be pointless to start interrogating anyone before they'd had a chance to examine and sift through the evidence. "If he's willing to give us his shoes for analysis I don't think we need to keep him."
"Catherine? Sofia?" All three women turned to see Dave kneeling beside the body. "Is it okay if I turn him?"
After a moment of consultation, Catherine stepped over to the body to assist Dave and preserve any evidence that might have been trapped beneath the corpse.
Sara placed her hand on Sofia's arm. "I'm sorry, about before," she said, her voice uncertain. "I know I don't have any right to be . . ."
"You have every right," Sofia interrupted. She lowered her voice to preserve what little was left of their privacy from Catherine's ears. "I know we've never talked about monogamy, and your relationship with Grissom was . . ."
"Don't." That was one subject that Sara did not, under any circumstances, wish to discuss or remember. "That's history."
"I know things aren't exactly . . . settled, between us, but until you tell me otherwise, I am yours, and no one else's." Sofia wished she could have followed up the statement with a kiss, but they had promised in the very beginning that they wouldn't let their relationship impinge on their work. Not that Sofia wanted to keep it a secret, and now that Catherine knew, that would be an impossibility, but she didn't want them accused of unprofessional conduct either. "Understand?"
Sara's grin; full force and directed solely at her was, Sofia decided, the nearest thing to a kiss that two people could share in public without being arrested for public lewdness.
"Guys?" Catherine's call interrupted and saved both women from breaking their vow of professionalism. "You might want to see this."
Her hand snugly wrapped around Sofia's waist, Sara leaned into the other woman, her words brief, but the meaning clear, "And I am yours."
Sofia didn't have time to respond, as Sara disentangled herself and joined Catherine overlooking the body, both women soon sporting identical looks of confusion.
"What's going . . ." Sofia looked at Dave. "Is that a Y incision?"
He nodded, his look of confusion mirroring the CSIs. "Body temp was ninety-six," he explained, adding to the conundrum.
"How does an autopsied corpse find its way into the middle of Las Vegas Pride?" Catherine asked.
"With help," Sara and Sofia said in unison.
"Why would anyone want to dispose of a body in the middle of the parade?" asked Dave.
"To ruin the day." Catherine looked into the crowd and instantly spotted the sweating and watch obsessed figure of Perry Whitaker. "Sofia, why don't you tell Mr. Whitaker that he's free to go, and apologise for me for any inconvenience." She looked to Dave. "Get the body back to Doc Robbins and ask Mandy to run his prints through CODIS. We need to get him back where he belongs."
Sara watched the two leave before turning to Catherine, "What do we do? There's still a hell of a lot of ground to cover."
Catherine disagreed. "It's no longer a homicide," she explained. "So, we don't need to trace the footprints or any other damage inflicted post disposal. Which means that most of the evidence we need will be on the body or on those." She pointed to the surveillance cameras positioned on several of the nearby buildings. "Whoever did do this will have needed transportation and a way to re-heat the body, and that's how we'll catch them."
"And the parade?"
"Goes off without a hitch." A smile lit Catherine's face. "And you get to dance the last dance with that gorgeous lady of yours."
Sara was about to protest, her ingrained sense of duty demanding that she stay in the labs and analyse every last piece of evidence until the sick son of a bitch was behind bars, but one look in Sofia's direction changed her mind. "Every last dance," she whispered, her smile promising a forever that her word would soon confirm. "Let's do it."
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