DISCLAIMER:I don't own them, I never will. Proper rights go to Bruckheimer, CBS and every one.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Some things you should know about my CSI universe. First off, the main cast (excluding Greg, sorry) all have offices, because that just makes sense to me given the amount of work involved in being a CSI (it's not all just fieldwork folks). There will be more explanations of my CSI universe in future parts of this story.
SEQUEL: To On The Surface.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Premature Breakdown
By Amy Jo

Part 10

I wake at the sound of an alarm beeping incessantly. There is an arm laying protectively across my ribs and a warm body nestled against me. I lean over to where the bedside table should be and slap at the alarm. Only I miss horribly as my hand comes in contact with nothing but air. Groaning I lift my head off the mattress and open my eyes.

Right. I'm at Catherine's. That explains why the alarm is on the other side of the bed. I turn my head to watch Catherine sleep. I wonder if she ever gets up on time. There's no indication that she can even hear the alarm, and the blaring noise is coming barely two feet from where she is laying.

I try to move out of the bed gently so that Catherine can sleep for a little bit longer. I have barely moved an inch when her arm pulls me closer to her and I hear her mumble something into the pillow underneath her head.

She's clearly not ready to let go of me, but she also doesn't move to shut off the alarm. I turn so that I am facing her and she mumbles good morning to me. I give her a light kiss on the cheek and reach across her body to shut off the alarm. I can't quite reach and by now the sound is really starting to piss me off.

I roll on top of Catherine, a move I know she won't resist. From my new position not only can I shut off the alarm, but Catherine seems to be wide awake now. The house is completely silent now that the alarm has stopped beeping. Catherine's hands find their way to my hips and when I try to move off her, the grip of her hands tightens and I find myself unable to move.

I move so that I am straddling her hips and I look down at her as she slowly wakes up. She is naked beneath me and my breath catches in my throat as I am suddenly reminded of things we did before falling asleep. She looks up at me with her eyes half open but I can still see the fire behind them, her hair is mussed from sleep and sex, and there's a smile slowly spreading across her face. It's nice to have this view of her.

Her hands are still holding my hips tightly though she has started moving her thumbs in lazy circles against the skin of my inner thighs. The tips of her thumbs occasionally brush against the dark hairs where I am pressed against her.

"Morning," I say to her, thinking that I need to concentrate on something, anything, other than movement of her thumbs.

"Mmmhmm," she mumbles, intently watching the way my body reacts to her gentle teasing.

Even if I tried, there would be no way to hide the way her touches make me feel. Sure, if I wasn't naked and straddling her hips I might be able to just smile and not let her know she is driving me crazy. But by the look in her eyes I can tell that she feels exactly what she does to me.

I concentrate on the fact that I have to be at work in a few hours and that I still need to shower and grab something to eat before then. Maybe even make it home for a minute to check on those messages that have been sitting there for days. It's no use. The rhythmic movement of her thumbs is too distracting.

Catherine slides her hands up my hips and presses them into my back, forcing me down onto her. She loosens her grip as her hands move up and down my back, but when I try to move she squeezes just hard enough that I know I'm not allowed to leave her. And so I stay, letting her hands roam over my body and her lips move along my neck. We're going to be seriously late for work tonight if she keeps this up.

"Cat," the word barely comes out as a whisper even though I intended it to be forceful.

"Hmm?" Catherine hums into my ear, the vibrations sending chills across my body.

Her hands and lips are determined to make me forget anything but her; and for a little while I let myself forget. Fleeting touches and soft kisses driving me mad with desire.

"Cat please, I need to." I was going to say shower, but the words refuse to form when I feel her hand slide between us and she kisses me roughly. I try to pull away, kissing with morning breath is not my favorite activity, but Catherine is very intent in her movements.

I had planned on waking up, taking a shower and getting something to eat before getting to work. It seems that Catherine had a different idea, and there is no way I can deny her what she wants when she touches me like this. It's another hour before I manage to get showered and dressed.

My shower is rushed and not as relaxing as I had hoped it would be, but I realize that Catherine will need a shower too. She attempted to follow me and it took some explaining, but I managed to convince her to let me shower alone. As satisfied as I am, there is no way I could shower with her and not touch her. And if that happened we would both be late for work tonight.

I don't even want to think about how I would explain to Grissom not only the fact that I was late, but why I was late. At this point, I don't have a problem with telling him about my relationship with Catherine, but I don't know what I would say if pressed for details. How do you tell your boss that you were late for work because you can't keep your hands off your girlfriend? And that said girlfriend is your coworker and that is why she is late too?

When we are both ready for work, we decide that it would still be best if we drove in separately. No need in tipping off the night shift that we are anything more than coworkers. Someone is eventually going to catch on, and when they do, neither of us will deny it, but for now it's nice to have this time for ourselves.

I take my time in driving to work, not wanting to make it too obvious that I followed Catherine here. She is already in the break room when I walk down the hall to my office. I realized on the drive in that not only have I neglected my messages at home, but also any messages that may be on my office voice mail. Thankfully there are only two.

The first message is from the detective running the B&E on the jewelry store that I covered for the day shift a few nights ago. His message is short, telling me that my hunch paid off and the girl in the picture was part of the crew that robbed the store. He also tells me that the girl was in fact married to Mr. Segobiano and that she caved after less than ten minutes of questioning when faced with the pictures from the store's security system.

The second message is from Mr. Segobiano. For someone who was robbed by his own wife, he seems pretty chipper about things. He leaves me a message telling me he got my number from the detective and wanted to call and thank me himself. He also tells me that the store had finished its 'remodel' and that I should stop by and see him sometime.

I make a mental note to do just that. When I talked to him previously he didn't strike me as the insurance fraud type of person. But then again, he seems way too happy considering his wife robbed his store. There might be more to his case than I originally thought.

I check my watch and head off to the break room for assignments. If the evening news was any indication, tonight will be a relatively slow night for us. Nick and Catherine are already waiting, and I remember that Warrick has tonight off.

"Sara, suspicious circs at the Venetian. And that's it." Grissom hands me the slip of paper and turns to leave the room.

"Wait that's it? One case?" Nick sounds disappointed. It's not like we haven't had slow nights before.

"That's all I've got so far," Grissom tells Nick.

I look at Catherine and give her a small smile, my way of saying goodbye, before I leave the room. I want no part of the conversation that's about to happen. Nick is going to complain that it's not fair that I get the only case of the night and that he could do just as good a job as me. And he's right, he could. But I think I got the case for two reasons. Grissom is still mad at me for whatever reason and he knows that I like being on the scene instead of bored in the lab.

Grissom wouldn't dare tell Ecklie or anyone else on dayshift, but the Nick keeps a game system in his office and on slower nights he hooks it up to the TV in the break room. Grissom doesn't necessarily approve, but he lets Nick do it anyway. Nick can entertain himself while I would be aimlessly wandering around the lab looking for something to do.

I can still tell that Grissom is somewhat agitated from what he saw the other day. I can't figure out what his problem is. Even if he thinks he saw something more than a friendly hug between Rayn and I, that should be no reason for him to be upset. I never thought he was the type to be bothered by alternative lifestyles. Hell we all know he had something going on with Lady Heather.

I'm halfway through the lobby of the Venetian when it finally makes sense. I can't believe that I didn't see it. He wasn't upset about any kind of alternative lifestyle. He was upset because it was me. It was me embracing someone that wasn't him. Fuck.

Part 11

I have no idea what I'm going to do with my new realizations about Grissom. If I'm right and he's upset about seeing me in the arms of someone else than that means he finally figured out what to do about us. And now it really is too late.

As I think about it now, I'm not sure what my feelings toward him really were. When I first met him I saw an attractive, intelligent, single man. He was very involved in his work, so much so that the phrase 'married to his job' would come up when others talked about him. But I was the same way, in fact we had a lot in common.

After the seminar he spoke at in San Francisco we talked for hours. At first we just talked in the empty room, then we moved to the restaurant in the hotel, and finally to the bar. I learned a lot from him that night, and not just about entomology or his regular work as a CSI. I learned a lot about him as a person.

He spoke very freely about his job, his hobbies, his coworkers, but never anything really personal about him. I think that was what he needed that night. Someone to listen to him, someone he could talk to that didn't know too much about his life. Someone who could be completely objective and, honestly, someone he wouldn't have to worry about ever seeing again.

By the end of the night I gave him my phone number, and not as a come-on, but rather as a friend-in-need. I was attracted to him even then, but I sensed that something was holding him back. I felt comfortable in his presence, something I hadn't felt with all that many men. I didn't push anything because I knew he would go back to Vegas and I would probably never see him again. I just let him know that he could call anytime and I would listen. He actually seemed relieved to hear those words.

And he did call. He didn't call often; over the next few years I probably only heard from him a dozen or so times. I think he only called when something really got to him at work, but oddly we never talked about work when he called. We talked about science and human emotion but never about a case or his emotions.

And still I felt a connection to him. I really did believe that something might come of our friendship and that it had the ability to be more. I used to think that if he were in San Francisco with me, or if I were in Vegas with him, that maybe it would be more than a friendly voice on the other end of a phone.

We didn't always talk about him. Occasionally, though not often, we talked about me. He helped me make the decision to move from the Coroner's office to the Crime Lab. With my love for science it wasn't really a tough decision, but it was nice to have him support me. The friends I had in San Francisco at the time supported the move for no better reason than they thought it was creepy that I worked for the Coroner. Grissom understood my love of science and why I thought the move would be more intellectually satisfying.

And then one day he called to ask me to come to Vegas. For the briefest of moments I let myself believe that he was asking me come and see him, that he needed me and not just the impartial third party he was looking for. In my heart, and my brain too, I knew that he wasn't really calling me to Vegas, I was just someone he was comfortable with that would be fair and honest.

When I got to Vegas he withdrew. I was no longer a voice on the other end of his phone. I was here and my presence somehow changed things; we kind of regressed and weren't nearly as close as we had been. I think that is when I first knew for certain that nothing more would ever come of our friendship.

I made a few efforts over the years to see if there was still anything between us. From the day I started working for him it was pretty obvious that he had distanced himself from our friendship. In one last feeble attempt I asked him to dinner. And he told me no because he didn't know what to do about 'this'.

And if his being upset about a friendly hug between Rayn and I is anything of an indication, I think he figured out what he wanted to do. But now it is too late. Even when I thought I wanted to be in a relationship with Grissom, he always took a second seat to Catherine.

I tried not to acknowledge my attraction to Catherine when I first got to Vegas. During my conversations with Grissom before I came to Vegas I knew a little about each person working the night shift. Nick, the good-ole-boy from Texas, Warrick the Vegas native with a slightly troubled youth, Greg the quirky and annoying DNA tech, Catherine the only one of the crew that was married.

Catherine and I didn't quite get along when I got to Vegas, and I can't say that I blame her. She thought I was stepping on her territory. I didn't make any overt attempts at friendship because I was worried if I pushed than nothing would come of it. Well, there was the one time I asked about getting her daughter a birthday present, but when that didn't end well I just figured that small steps would be best.

When I decided to acknowledge my attraction to her, I didn't want to lose the tentative friendship that we had. The attraction was always there, even from the first moment I saw her. But she was out of my league, so the attraction simmered. I don't think I could pick out the exact moment the attraction went from something that I was aware of to something that I wanted to pursue.

And even when I wanted to, I knew I couldn't. Catherine was straight, and not available anyway. I thought for a long time that she was still dating the Civil Engineer, Paul. I made a feeble attempt at dating someone the guys knew when Nick kept pestering about setting me up with a friend of his. Nick stopped bugging me, but the relationship with Hank didn't end well.

The night Hank and I split Catherine came very close to finding out what my true feelings for her were. When she asked me to go out for drink I completely forgot about how Hank used me. Catherine wanted to spend time with me; and not only that, but it would be time spent alone with me, away from the rest of the crew. We got smashed at some nameless bar and I nearly told her everything.

I snap out of my daze, realizing that I have stopped walking through the hotel and am now just standing next to the elevator. I know I must have been here for a while because people are actually staring. I can't believe I spaced like that when I was working.

I should have just gone to the scene to process the room but thinking about Grissom. I should have just used the work to bury the thoughts so that I could deal with it later. But instead I'm standing her in the lobby looking like a fool while I take a trip down memory lane. Thankfully for me the elevator comes quickly and I disappear inside avoiding further stares.

Part 12

Up on the eighth floor I see Detective O'Riley talking with someone from the hotel staff. He waves me over when he sees me get off the elevator.

"Well I just thought it was weird, you know," the kid says. This kid looks like he's barely 19. There's a small nametag on his shirt that identifies him as Robert H. It's obvious that he's nervous about something, he keeps fidgeting with the tie the hotel makes him wear and he's practically bouncing from foot to foot.

"What was weird?" O'Riley asks. He is trying his best to take notes and follow the kid's story, but it doesn't look like O'Riley has managed to get much information yet.

"Well like I said, I work in room service and we got a call to this room at like two or three, I had just started my shift. But then like six hours later when I brought up a dinner to that room down there," the kid points down the hall, "I noticed that the dinner tray was still sitting outside this room. I was going to take it back, but I picked it up I thought it was kind of heavy. Not like extra heavy or anything, just heavy like they are when I bring the food up."

"And that was odd?" O'Riley asks.

"Well yeah. I mean, I brought the food up to this room like right after I started shift and no one answered the door. I had a bunch of other things to do, so I left the food outside the door. I'm not supposed to do that. I'm supposed to wait until someone answers."

"But you wanted to get other work done right?" O'Riley tries being patient with the kid, probably hoping to ease the young man nervousness.

"Yeah, so I just left the food. But then when I brought food up later and the tray was still there, and no one had eaten any of the food, I got worried. I mean like it had been a really long time since I brought the food up and it was still there. So I got this buddy of mine in housekeeping to come up with me when we got a break."

"Why housekeeping?" This time it's me that's asking the question. The kid could have easily just called the front desk, or found the hotel manager and said he thought something was wrong.

"Well 'cause if I called anyone else then they would know that I didn't follow procedure and I would get in trouble. I asked my buddy to come up 'cause his key works on every room. We knocked loud a couple of times and when no one answered we opened the door. She looked like she was sleeping but she didn't move or anything. And that's it I swear."

O'Riley gets the name of the buddy in housekeeping and is ready to let the kid go. I motion the kid over to take his fingerprints before he leaves. Better to do this now than to wait. It's easy to tell that he's never been fingerprinted before, he's still nervous and his fingers are stiff as I try to roll them on the pad.

"Relax Robert, it's not that bad." I smile up at him to try to ease his nervousness and it works. He relaxes his hands and in the next minute I'm done. As he walks away someone, I assume his buddy from housekeeping, gets off the elevator. They share a nervous look and the kid from housekeeping heads our way.

"You guys wanted to speak with me?" He says when he walks up to O'Riley and me. The tag on the kid's shirt says Jimmy B.

"Yeah Jimmy. We need to know everything you and Robert did today." O'Riley tells him. Sometimes I really like working with O'Riley. He can be very straight and to-the-point when he wants to be.

"Well I didn't talk to Bobby at all until he told me he needed a favor. He said he left some food for a room and no one had taken the food. He's done it before, just left food like that, and he knows he's not supposed to. So when he said that he left the food and that no one ate it, he was worried. He says that has never happened before."

"And so you just decided to let yourself into the room? Why didn't you just call the manager or even the concierge?"

"Well I just figured someone ordered the food and then forgot and went down the strip for some gambling or something. My key works on all the hotel doors, and I figured I could just open the door and he would see that no one was there and that would be all. I didn't think there would be anyone in the room."

"What happened you went in the room?"

"We looked around real quick and saw that lady sleeping on the bed. But she wasn't moving and we had knocked really loud before we opened the door. So I reached over and she was cold, not like really cold you know, but colder than she should be. And again she wasn't moving so we took off right then. I made Bobby talk to the manager and I guess they called you."

"You touch anything other than the body?" I ask. He's not nearly as nervous as Bobby was and he had probably come in contact with more than a few cops in his life.

"No ma'am," he replies.

"Well then you won't mind if I take your prints will you?" I smile at him and reach out for one of his hands.

He hesitates before answering, making me even more positive that he has done this before. "No ma'am, go ahead."

Unlike his friend Bobby, Jimmy is an old pro at getting his fingerprints taken. His hands are limp and relaxed. The first few times someone gets their prints taken, their hands are nervous and stiff. You have to remind them to relax their hands, and even then you usually have to tell them a few more times because as soon as you roll one finger, their hands tense up again.

"Done now?" He asks when I've finished.

I nod my head to indicate that I'm done and O'Riley simply tells him, "Yeah, we'll find you if we need you."

The kid leaves and I turn to O'Riley. "So what's with the suspicious circs call? So far it sounds like a natural death."

"Since when does anyone ever die a natural death in Vegas?" O'Riley questions with a smile. "Actually it was the manager that was worried something wasn't quite right. The lady is young, probably in her mid-30's and from the looks of things she was in relatively good physical condition. Except that now she's dead."

"O'Riley, even you know young, healthy people can die a natural death." Not that I mind the work, because it sure beats doing paperwork or sitting around the office, but this doesn't really seem all that suspicious so far. Maybe there's something about the room that raised questions.

I head into the room and I hear O'Riley behind me telling me he's going to go find the manager again. The room looks to be rather large. I open the door and the bathroom is to my right. Straight ahead is a living area, complete with a couch, a loveseat, and a television. It looks like the bed is off to the left around a corner from the living area.

The room is very well kept, which either means a clean freak or someone who hasn't been in town for long. There are clothes hanging with perfect creases in the open closet area, and towels still folded perfectly in the bathroom. It doesn't look like anyone has touched anything in the room since housekeeping came and cleaned up this morning.

I take pictures as I walk around the room, making visual notes of everything I see. I forgot to get the victim's information from O'Riley before he left, but it really didn't seem important at the time. I wanted the fingerprints from the kids and to hear the story.

As I round the little corner and the bed comes in sight, my breath catches in my throat. I make certain to take pictures as I head over, but part of me wants to drop the camera and rush to the bedside. I'm pretty sure Grissom would tell me that doing so would somehow contaminate the evidence. And some part of me doesn't want to rush my judgment, after all that is where mistakes are made.

I can't see her face right away, but the woman lying on the bed has short blonde hair and, as O'Riley said, is in very good physical shape. I really don't want to face the possibility, but from here, this young lady looks a lot like Rayn.

When I reach the body, and have taken all the pictures necessary, I reach out and gently turn her to face me. The breath I was holding is expelled in one large rush of air when I look at the face of my friend on the bed.

Part 13

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