DISCLAIMER: CSI and all characters are the property of CBS and Bruckheimer. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Ok, I know the premise is a little far-fetched, to begin the fic, but hey, I'm trying to move fan universes here. It's really hard work. I could do a mythology reference just to make myself feel better, but really, it would be pretentious.
And I personally think people who write crossover fics should be regulated to the 9th circle of hell, so, well, of course I decided to write a crossover fic. So if anyone wants to know what this circle of hell is like, I'm down here, stoking the fires.
SPOILERS: Through the current seasons on CSI and SVU.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Between Love and Hate
By zennie

3. Dead Guy in a Tree

That night as she arrived at work, Jim sidled up to her in the detective's locker room, a slip in his hand and a grin on his face. "I got a good case for you, Benson. Dead guy in a tree." He waited for her to look impressed or excited but instead she reached for her badge, waiting for the other shoe to drop. "Sara will meet you at the scene."

Pausing as she went to clip her cell phone onto her belt, Olivia hung her head and closed her eyes for a long moment before looking up at Brass. "I should probably take another case." Jim didn't say anything, just cocked an inquiring eyebrow. "I think it's best if I don't work with Sara tonight. I… may have messed up this morning, said the wrong thing or something." Or something, yeah, it was definitely something.

Jim looked disappointed, but not surprised. "It's easy to do the wrong thing with Sara. She can be stubborn at times and she's not real good at opening up." Almost like a peace offering, he extended a different slip to Olivia. "Suspicious circs. Sophia and Greg are on-route."

Olivia took the slip and tugged on her jacket, already heading for the door. "Thanks, Jim."

"Olivia?" When she stopped and turned to face him, he gave her a half-hearted smile. "Look, we're not just pairing you with Sara just for spite. The two of you, personal differences aside, make a good team. The solve rate on the cases when you work together is unprecedented." Jim's expression was thoughtful as he paused, obviously trying to find the words. "And Sara, well, she doesn't like to work solo cases. She much prefers to work with another CSI so she can have someone to bounce ideas off of and collaborate with. I dunno what's special about you, but she likes working solo when she's paired with you." He shrugged, aware of his surprising long-windedness. "Look, all I'm saying is, I hope you work this out because we don't want to lose you as a team."

Thirty minutes later, when he stepped up beside Sara, who was staring with interest at the dead body suspended some 25 feet off the ground by the branches of a tree, she didn't even glance at him as she said, "No Benson tonight?" A tight smile pulled at the edges of her mouth, but there was none of the anger he expected. If anything, Sara seemed sad.

"Nope, you got me instead," he replied cheerfully.

Sara gave him a sideways glance before asking with a note of resignation in her voice. "She requested not to work with me tonight, didn't she?"

Brass shook his head. "Nah, I was just missing my favorite CSI." Her half-smile told him she saw through his denial. "Besides, I stuck her on a nasty decomp."

Watching as the firefighters prepared a lift to retrieve the body, Sara gave him another sideways glance. "She working the suspicious circs with Sophia and Greg at the Tangiers."

Jim chuckled at that. "Nothing gets past you, does it, Sidle? Ok, but I promise, first nasty decomp we pull, I'm putting her on it." Sara tried to hide the pleased grin that was slowly peeking out, and Jim laughed. "Remind me never to get you mad at me." Just then the fire marshal joined them, carrying a climbing harness and hardhat.

"You ready?" It was the same fireman who had brought her the saws-all and he was once again appreciative of Sara in her forensics jumpsuit. At her nod, he helped her shimmy into the harness, making sure the straps were secured, all the while reading her the riot act. "When we go up, you observe and direct where we are to cut, understood? Do not unclip from the safety line and do not stand under where we are cutting." She kept nodding while she pulled back her hair to tuck it under the hardhat, smirking at his caution.

"Ok, Daddy-O. Lead the way," Sara said, sweeping her hand out to direct him to the crane.

Brass watched as the marshal tied her into the safety line, grinning at her flirtatiously as he tugged on the rope and unbalanced Sara, causing her to laugh and clip him on the shoulder. Jim sensed a presence at his shoulder and peeked over to see Olivia had joined him. She was frowning, almost glaring, at the fire marshal, and Jim looked between the three of them with renewed interest.

"Hey Jim, that suspicious circs was a straight-up heart attack and there are no other crime scenes so I thought I'd come see the guy in the tree." He wisely didn't comment on the fact that she could have gone back to the station to catch up on her paperwork. He didn't even mention that Olivia couldn't seem to take her eyes off the tall brunette; instead filled her in on the case, finishing with, "Poor Sara. The fire marshal told her she can't play with the power tools tonight."

"Yeah? She looks upset," Olivia replied, the sarcasm evident in her voice as Sara, grinning widely, made a 'start'er up' motion to the lift operator to take them up.

Trying to distract herself from the brunette and the broad-shouldered fire marshal, who was leaning over Sara's shoulder, pointing to a wide branch holding their body, Olivia asked, "If we think that the guy may have jumped from or off that weird house, why aren't we checking inside?"

"We will. I have a call into the rental agency and someone's bringing by the key shortly. It is odd looking, isn't it?"

"Looks like the House of Usher," Olivia observed, taking in the dark, foreboding look of the house, the smudged grey old-fashioned shingles and hanging eaves that hid vast amounts of the house from light.

"You a Poe fan?"

"Aren't all detectives?"

He chuckled at that, and then flipped to a page in his notebook. "You are pretty much on-target. The rental agency said that the place was supposed to be one of those specialty bed-and-breakfasts, with a haunted house theme. Just came under new ownership after being abandoned for the last two years." The sound of the crane died down as the lift reached its position underneath the body.

A uniformed approached them, leading a homeless man. "Detective, this guy says he saw something." As the homeless guy related a fantastic story of weird noises and four men in robes going into the house earlier that evening, the roar of a chain saw reached them, and Olivia watched as the firefighters cut along a line Sara had sketched on the branch and tried not to stare. As the roar of the chainsaw died off and the lift started descending, Olivia realized that she had barely heard a word the homeless guy had told them. She kept watching as Sara and David debated the best way to transport the body and tree limb. As usual, Sara seemed completely caught up in work and hadn't even glanced in Olivia's direction.

Brass cleared his throat to get Olivia's attention, and she swung her head toward the other detective, who obviously had been waiting for her to respond. He dangled a key between his fingers and gestured toward the house with his head. "Got the key. Wanna help me clear the house?" Glad for something to do, Olivia nodded and followed him up the walk, pulling her gun and turning on her flashlight as she did so.

Jim took the first floor and the basement, sending Olivia upstairs. Olivia walked steadily through the house, keeping to the walls as she checked each room, dimly aware that the crane had started up again in the background as she strained to listen for any sound in the eerily quiet house.

Finally, Olivia did hear a sound, a faint scratching sound, coming from a bedroom at the far back of the house. Hurrying her way through the other two bedrooms, Olivia stepped out and around in one smooth motion, her gun trained on a figure in the window.

"Police," she announced, and then, recognizing the silhouette perched outside the window, she exhaled audibly, exclaiming, "Damn it, Sara. I thought you were a perp. You should be more careful."

The CSI, who had been examining the window from her perch on the crane outside, let out her own sigh as Olivia lowered, and then holstered, her weapon. Olivia started to enter the room when Sara called to her, "Don't." For a second, Olivia didn't know if she should be shocked or hurt by Sara's abruptness, until Sara's flashlight illuminated a huge blood pool at her feet before moving on to the four bodies, each at one point of the pentagram.

Olivia's torch joined Sara's as they surveyed the room. "Here's our primary crime scene," Sara said quietly before straightening and reaching for her cell phone. "Grissom? I'm going to need some help on this scene. I have four more bodies here." A pause, and then, "You got another multiple? Can I get anyone?" She considered for a moment, and then said, "I'll take Greg. Yeah, I'm sure. I know he annoys you, and well, frankly, Sophia annoys me."

Brass came up behind Olivia, holding his cell. "I got called to a multiple. Whoa." His eyebrows quirked in surprise as he saw the scene in the bedroom. "Another multiple, I guess. You keep working this and I'll be with Griss." He was down the stairs before Olivia could even protest, and she rolled her eyes as she turned back to Sara, who was once more crouched at the window, surveying the scene. "I guess the guy in the tree was the lucky one," she said finally, reaching for the crane controls. "I'll join you in a few minutes."

Greg watched as both Sara and Olivia reported their findings at the morning update meeting; Sara seemed obsessed with the stack of papers sitting in front of her as she read off notes on each one and shuffled through them. Olivia toyed with her notebook, her eyes darting around the room, fixing on anything but at the brunette sitting in front of her. They were both clearly uncomfortable, and Greg guessed that they had had another blow-up; water cooler gossip had it that the two of them were pretty volatile when they worked together.

Just as Sara said, "Ok, I guess that's it. We'll start with the financials tonight," Greg interrupted.

"There's just one more thing." When both Sara and Olivia made eye contact with him for the first time since the meeting had begun, he continued, "The two of you need to figure out whatever it is by tonight so I don't have to sit through any more of this." He tried to convey his seriousness by giving them each a meaningful glare. "Work it out, ok? Goodnight." With that, he stood and left the conference room, leaving between two guilty- and embarrassed-looking women.

Olivia finally made eye contact, to find Sara was staring at her with an unreadable expression on her face. "He's right." Sara didn't look happy about being called out by her young protégé, but she did admit the problem. They had been professional, but obviously stiff and awkward around each other, all night as they worked.

"Yeah," Olivia agreed, her heartfelt sigh filling the silence. "Look, Sara, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to… make our interactions more stressful or to make you uncomfortable. I apologize for that."

Sara nodded, seeming to accept her apology, her dark eyes still puzzled. "Why did you kiss me?" she asked, bluntly, her directness catching Olivia by surprise.

Olivia had been expecting questions, mostly along the lines of, "What were you thinking" or "What made you think I'd be interested in you?" and asked with an edge of hostility that would have made all of their previous arguments pale in comparison. This question, however, was a walk in the park. "Because I wanted you to understand," she answered quietly, watching as Sara puzzled over the words.


"Understand that I was leaving, not because I didn't want to be there, but because I wanted to be there too much." Olivia dipped her chin so that she could gaze deeply into Sara's eyes.

The next words were out before Olivia could censor or suppress them. "And because you're beautiful." Sara's eyebrow arched and she rolled her eyes, giving snort of disbelief. Olivia reached out, cupping Sara's chin in her palm to bring Sara's attention back to her. At her touch, Sara's eyes snapped back to hers, wide with shock. "You were telling me about butterflies and you were just…"

"Beautiful?" Sara interrupted scornfully.

"Yes," Olivia replied simply, edging closer to tall CSI, her body closing the distance as if it had a mind of its own. Drawn to her, Olivia raised her other hand, not sure what she intended to do but unable to stop herself from wanting to touch. Her lips were inches away from Sara's when Sara broke the contact, pulling her head away from Olivia's hand and taking a short step back.

"Detective," she whispered quietly but without the anger or disgust Olivia expected, especially since she very nearly kissed her again in a conference room in the middle of her workplace, "I can't."

Olivia searched Sara's face, seeking a clue to help her decipher the woman in front of her. She saw the same confusion and surprise from the morning before, along with a lingering pain and a sense of resignation, none of which helped her words make sense. "Can't?" Olivia puzzled over her choice of words. "Because you're involved with someone else? Or because you don't date women?"

Sara had given a snort of laughter when Olivia asked if she was involved with someone else, obviously finding the question ludicrous. "I just can't. I… hope we can forget about this and be professional about work." Olivia's eyes narrowed at how carefully Sara had avoided her question about dating women, but she nodded her assent. With one last long measured look at Olivia, Sara gathered her papers and left the conference room.

A quiet knock on the door brought Olivia's attention from the file she was perusing to the nervous-looking brunette in her doorway. Sara took two steps into the room, pausing midway between the door and desk, her fake, wide, nervous smile pulling at the edges of her mouth.

"De… Olivia, um," she began, while Olivia leaned back, lacing her fingers behind her head as she tilted the chair back, amused by the sight of the usually poised and confident Sara Sidle fidgeting like a three-year old. "Um, this," she continued, waving a hand between the two of them in lieu of explaining what this meant, "can't happen. I, ah, I just wanted to make that clear."

Olivia let the silence stretch for a long moment while she watched Sara squirm, trying to suppress a grin at how Sara obviously hadn't followed her own advice and forgotten all about the incident. If anything, it looked like Sara had been thinking about it all day.

"Why?" Olivia asked.

"Why?" Sara repeated, as if she were thrown by the question, as if the answer should be self-evident. Sara had not been the only one giving their conversation some thought, and the more Olivia thought about it, the more Sara's assertion required further explanation. "Because it just can't."

"That's not a reason."

"Ok, I can't. I can't do this."

For a scientist, she isn't very precise in her terminology, Olivia thought. "You said that before, but why can't you? Is it the job?" Olivia probed, "because we work together?" She paused and let her smile widen, seeing Sara's eyes widen in response. She does look like she's afraid I'm going to pounce on her and eat her whole. Now there's a thought. Letting her mouth curl into a knowing smirk, Olivia resisted the urge to let her eyes wander south as she recalled the sensation of the younger woman's body against hers.

When she realized that she had been lost in thought for well over a minute, Olivia brought her attention back to the conversation at hand and explained, "I mean, it's not like you aren't attracted in me."

Sara's mouth snapped shut and her eyes bugged. "What?!?"

"Remember when I kissed you?" Olivia asked quietly as she gave in to the impulse and ran her eyes over the curves of Sara's body, so obviously that Sara couldn't miss her meaning as she relived the feeling of Sara's hips cradled in her palms, Sara's soft lips under hers.

Her question earned her one of Sara's patented death glares, but Sara couldn't hold the gaze for long and stared down at the floor, absently nibbling on her lower lip. Slipping around her desk, Olivia was in Sara's personal space in seconds, so close she could smell the vanilla scent of Sara's shampoo. "I kissed you…" she whispered, close enough so that she knew Sara could feel her breath on her cheek, "but you kissed me back."

Sara shook her head emphatically, dismissing Olivia's words. "No."

"Deny it if you like, but that doesn't change anything." She felt Sara tense as she laid her hand on Sara's hip, tense but not move away. "You can deny what happened…" she said, rubbing her thumb over the bone in a gentle caress, "you can even deny that you are staring at my lips right now, waiting for me to kiss you again." Sara's eyes snapped up from Olivia's lips to her eyes, a sick look on her face as she realized she had been caught. She took a step back then, her eyes as wide with a classic 'deer transfixed by the headlights of an oncoming car' look.


"You can deny it, but it won't change the facts. But don't worry…" Olivia whispered as her chin dipped and Sara's tongue darted out to moisten her lips in anticipation, "…the next time we kiss, I'll wait for you to make the first move."

"The next time?" The words came out strangled but edged with anger at Olivia's audacity. "Detective, that arrogance really isn't an attractive quality," Sara snapped, as anger seemed to have allowed her the ability to form a coherent sentence.

Olivia edged her body closer, close enough to feel Sara's body heat, close enough that Sara could feel her own, and the little flickers of electric current that jumped the tiny gap between their bodies made her breath catch in her throat. "Yeah… actually… it is," she said assuredly with a lazy, cocky smile and a tilt of her eyebrow.

Olivia loved the confused expression in Sara's amber eyes warmed by the slightest hint of fascination. She stepped away, deliberately turned her back and walked around her desk, feeling Sara's eyes rake over her body so intensely Olivia felt stripped and bare under her gaze. Dropping into her chair and trying not to look like she was collapsing into it because her knees were giving out, Olivia returned Sara's gaze with a hungry look of her own.

Sara let out a disgusted sigh, shook her head and threw up her hands in exasperation, and left without another word. Olivia allowed herself the luxury of watching Sara's quick, furious strides carry her away while she savored the liquid heat in the pit of her stomach. Game on, Sidle, she said to herself as she went back to her paperwork, game on.

Part 4

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