DISCLAIMER: Jerry Bruckheimer, CBS and various others own CSI, not me. I just played in their sandpit for a while.
CHALLENGE: Submitted as part of the Sara/Sofia 'Let's Get Sassy' ficathon.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
It was some slight consolation to know that she would never be out of a job. The statistics were stark enough. There were 100,000 missing people in the United States and at least 6,000 unidentified bodies. And that was just the cold cases. New cases were generated every day. Every night shift Sara Sidle saw the evidence for herself.
All the CSIs knew about the amateurs out there. Grissom got letters every other day from people wanting him to look at `evidence' they had found that would crack their own particular chosen case. Sometimes it did help. Most of the time it was just wishful thinking. All of the CSIs and most of the detectives that Sara knew had that case that would not go away, the one that sat at the bottom of their in-tray, the one that every time they got word that the system had been updated or another medical examiner's office had digitized their files they did a search again, hoping for that elusive clue to suddenly illuminate the darkness, for a connection to be made, a stalemate to be broken. The internet was both a boon and a bane. More information was available than ever before, distance was no longer an obstacle and most officials were just an email away.
Too much information and not enough evidence as Grissom would have phrased it.
Sara's `case' had followed her all the way from San Francisco. Serafina Roye, thirteen years old, taken from her bedroom as her family slept just a few feet away. Blood at the scene was all from the victim the girl had put up a fight, but there was not enough for them to automatically think they were looking for a body. Precious little other evidence, one blonde human hair minus a follicle, fibres traced to generic white cotton towels sold in every Wal-Mart in the land but not present in the Roye household, a couple of partial prints on the window frame and the iron bedstead that did not belong to any family member or anyone else who had business being in the girl's bedroom. Days passed, weeks passed with no sign of her, though a ransom note was received by Mr Roye at his business (sporting good dealership) three days after the crime. He brought it into the station himself. There were no prints on the note which was laser printed. The envelope was self-seal so there was no traces of saliva. It had been mailed at the central post office in Las Vegas the previous evening.
The printing on the note was analysed for unique characteristics and all the printers in the Roye household and the family business were checked no match. The note asked for a quarter million in 100 dollar bills to be placed in a briefcase in locker 227 at the Central bus depot. The lock on the door and the briefcase was to be pin- coded with a four digit code which the kidnapper also provided 2805 Serafina's birth date 28th May.
Mr Roye decided to go through with it and pay the ransom demand if there was any hope of getting his youngest daughter back even though the police and the family lawyer, a Mr Hallorahan strongly advised him not to do so. The money was placed in the locker as per instructions and the locker placed under surveillance to see who came to collect.
But no one did. A week passed and the money was still in the locker. There was no further communication with the abductor and no news or further sightings of Serafina. They had no suspects: the Roye family were well liked, had no enemies and had never had any trouble from their neighbours, employees, friends or acquaintances. Neither of them was having an affair or had had an affair in their twenty five year strong marriage. Serafina was a good student, a good girl but there was nothing exceptional about her. Her older siblings were either college students or holding down jobs. None of them were involved in drugs or any other criminal activity. The trail went cold.
Sara stayed in intermittent contact with the Roye family over the years, periodically reassuring them that Serafina was by no means forgotten. When she left San Francisco to come to Las Vegas she handed over the open case file to a trusted colleague. Once a year on Serafina's birthday, the Roye family put as large an advert as they could afford in the San Francisco Sun, with the last picture they had of Serafina and a computer enhanced version aged to what would be Serafina's current age. They wished their daughter a happy birthday and asked if anyone with any news or information about her could contact them. The police department, radio and tv stations and their local politicians received a flyer with the same information on it. Anything to keep their daughter from becoming just another cold case. Sara always received a copy and put it up on the wall above her desk so that she would never forget either.
Hundreds, thousands of cases had passed through her hands since then. But she never forgot about Serafina. This year, Serafina Roye would have been twenty one years old. A young woman, on the brink of a wonderful life, perhaps at college, perhaps in a job she loved, perhaps a young mother with children of her own. In their last letter, Mrs Roye told the CSI how the family had become involved in various on-line groups dealing with cold cases, missing children and (because however hard it was they were forcing themselves to be realistic) unclaimed bodies, anything to keep the details of Serafina's case alive and in the public consciousness. With this being Serafina's 21st birthday they had received a little more publicity than usual, even being interviewed by the local evening news which had been picked up by CNN even if it was just as a poignant add-on to another more current story about a little girl who had been abducted whilst on holiday with her parents in Europe.
`It's been quite something after all this time to know that we are far from being an isolated case,' Mrs Roye wrote. `The internet has given us an opportunity to gather and share information, to work on a common cause. We can cross the globe in seconds with a click of a computer mouse.'
So many might-have beens, Sara reflected, staring at the beautiful young woman that the little girl was sure to have become. So many lost children out there, waiting to be found. Given her family history, she could easily have become one of them. Perhaps that was why Sara shook her head as if to physically dislodge the unpleasant train of thought. She stood up and was leaning over her desk to take down last year's flyer and replace it with the current one when Sofia Curtis came into the office. Sofia picked up the discarded flyer from the desk and glanced over it, comparing the information to the new version.
"You worked the original case?" she asked.
Sara nodded. "Yeah She's been missing eight years. I still keep in touch with the parents. They're still looking for her every day of their lives. I think they always will."
"We all have cases like that," Sofia said. "It doesn't get any easier working both sides of the fence like I have. It's like you have this mental `most wanted' list in your head all the time. Sometimes a face or a mannerism will just click "
"I know how hard it is to turn it off," Sara nodded. "I don't think I ever did not before " She smiled, drew closer to the other woman until they were almost touching. "I used to know someone who went into profiling, she found it so hard not to `profile' even casual acquaintances. She said it takes people watching to a whole new level one that's not entirely comfortable."
Sofia realized she was still holding the old flier and put it back on the desk. "I'm on my way out - I just came in to check if you're still on for later." Since Sofia had transferred to the Detective division finding time to be together outside work was something of a juggling act. But Sara was no longer maxing out on overtime every month.
Sara smiled. "Sure, I've just got a couple of reports to finish writing up and then " she paused, stared up into the deep blue eyes. "I'm all yours." She pitched her voice even lower than usual, an almost growl.
A blush stained Sofia's cheeks and neck and she gulped audibly. "You don't know what you do to me when you sound like that," she said in a low voice, bending closer. Sara could see that the blush went all the way down to the tops of Sofia's breasts.
"Oh, I think I know exactly what I do to you," she smiled. "I'll come over to your place when I'm done. You want me to bring dinner?"
"No, it's okay, I thought I'd cook," Sofia said. "I've this new recipe for vegetable lasagna that I want to try out "
"Sounds great," Sara said. Sofia was an excellent cook so Sara had no fears on that front. She glanced around, the corridor outside was deserted and the room beyond also seemed empty for once. Daring, she brushed her lips against Sofia's feeling her smile against her skin. This is what she wished for Serafina, wherever the girl was, someone to love, someone who loved and respected her. "I love you I know I don't say it often enough but that doesn't mean "
"I know " Sofia said softly, pressing her lips to Sara's again. She let her hand rest palm-down over Sara's heart. "I know you here even if you can't say it because of what's in here " she caressed Sara's temple and watched as Sara's eyes drifted closed as she gentled her cheek. "I know how much you feel."
They stood like that for another few seconds, wanting more but the odds were that someone would come along the corridor any second and interrupt them. "I'd better go," Sofia said at last, "and let you finish up here. I love you." One final caress and she was gone, glancing back at the doorway, a smile curving her cheek and brightening her gaze.
"Love you too," Sara said, watching the other woman out of sight round the curve of the glass corridor. She picked up the old flyer and went to her file drawer, putting it with the other outdated fliers in a manila folder at the back. She never threw them out, that seemed disrespectful. She kept them in the hope that one day Serafina and all the other lost ones would find their way home.
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