DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thank you Ann (darandkerry) for being my "SUPERBETA".
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Karin


Standing in front of Brass' desk with both hands placed firmly on the surface, Sofia exclaimed, "You must be joking, Jim. I'm a detective, not a frigging school teacher."

"Hold your horses, Sofia," Brass replied calmly, despite the fact that two stone-cold blue eyes pierced into his own. His mind worked overtime knowing he had to pull a rabbit out of his hat one way or another; otherwise, he was in some serious trouble. God, how he hated politics.

Clearing his throat, Brass continued. "Let me attempt to rephrase. As you know, six months from now, it's re-election time, and the mayor has come up with a brilliant idea he's coining 'prevention.'"

Waiting for a response from his colleague, but getting only absolute silence in return, Brass carried on.

"Representatives from different service organizations, including the police department, are cordially invited to give a lecture at our local schools. All you have to do is tell the youngsters about the work we do and what they specifically shouldn't do. You know; the usual stuff."

"The strong hand of law enforcement, embodied in none other than Detective Sofia Curtis, girls and boys," the blond mumbled sarcastically.

Completely ignoring her comment, Brass concluded, "And you, Sofia, being LVPD's finest, were selected by the mayor, but only after carefully deliberating with yours truly for this satisfying task."

Sofia slumped into a nearby chair and rubbed her eyes. With clenched jaws, she half- heartedly agreed to the request, and a sigh of relief escaped Brass' lips as he laid out the remaining specifics to his colleague.

"Oh, one more thing," her boss added absentmindedly while punching in the number to the mayor's office. "You must bring a CSI along with you, and who you get to accompany you, is your own choice, naturally. It will give the whole thing, uh, an extra dimension, you see."

Sofia's weariness immediately disappeared. The idea of being accompanied by her favorite CSI made her energetic once again.

"Well Jim, why didn't you say so before? I'll be more than happy to fulfill the mayor's request."

Leaving her boss' office, a mischievous smile slowly curled at the blond detective's lips; an extra dimension, indeed.

At Mountain View Hospital, Doctor Carol Robson intently studied Mrs. Grey over the rim of her reading glasses. There was something nagging in the back of her mind as she tried to remember the nearly inaudible remark the woman had made earlier, but no matter how deep she dug into her memory, she came up blank.

Mrs. Grey had cried uncontrollable after hearing the results of the various examinations conducted on her daughter Julie. The little girl was brought in by an ambulance suffering from severe respiration problems almost causing her death.

"Well, Julie is very lucky to have a mother who knows how to put CPR into practice," Doctor Robson said understandingly. She offered the other woman another tissue, and the upset mother accepted without looking up or uttering a single word. Since there was no reply, the physician decided to wait for a response, studying Julie's medical record in the meantime.

After a few moments of silence, Mrs. Grey sniffed and said in a tearful voice, "I used to be a trained nurse, but then the kids were born. Well, you know how it is. My husband insisted I stay at home and take care of them."

The redheaded woman played with her tissue, adding forcefully, "He completely disregarded my needs and the importance of my work."

Carol Robson tried to hide her confusion as the conversation had suddenly taken an entirely different direction. The anger projected in the mother's voice was in sharp contrast with the fact of why she was here. They were here to discuss the welfare of her seven-year-old daughter, not the way her mother's life had turned out.

Without warning, it hit the doctor square in the face as she recalled the mother's reaction to the news that there was no scientific explanation for her daughter's respiratory dysfunction. The woman had venomously spat, "Tell me something new."

Across town, Sara looked up from the photographs covering the table in the layout room as the sound of laughter in the hallway caught her attention. Apparently, Greg was being a smartass, and Sofia's contagious laugh had reached Sara's ears, the smooth, sexy sound causing her heart to skip a beat.

Leaning against the illuminated table, the brunette reflected on the moment the blonde had entered her life three years ago. The detective had come rolling in like an unstoppable force, but needing the safe shelter of her own controlled private life, the investigator had considered herself an unmovable object. As a scientist Sara knew the two could never coexist, so she'd kept her distance from the other woman.

Hearing Sofia brushing Greg off, Sara took a deep breath in order to compose herself for the blonde's entrance into her lab; however, she failed miserably in her attempt to play it cool when the detective revealed her news. The investigator was totally baffled when Sofia told her about the school prevention program.

"Hell no, Sofia, I'm a scientist, not a bloody schoolteacher," the brunette cried out.

Despite Sara's fierce reaction, so very similar to her own, Sofia kept running the straight course. Ever since Sofia had returned to Vegas as a detective, Sara had kept her distance. This project was a chance to finally spend some time together with the unreachable investigator outside of work and that was something Sofia craved, so she decided to use her secret weapons, her irresistible wit and charm.

"C'mon Sara, be a sport. It'll be fun. You can wave your magic, using your powders and all to make fingerprints appear," Sofia offered passionately.

"The kids will love it, and I'll be the good cop. You can tell them that it's my job to come to the rescue, just like in those comic books, kind of like Superman," the blond carried on jokingly.

"And who is it you want me to be?" Sara interrupted with an arched eyebrow. "Lex Luthor?"

Looking at the stunning detective with her hands in her pockets and that big goofy smile on her face, Sara couldn't resist any longer and reluctantly agreed with a deep sigh.

Meanwhile, in the hospital corridor, Carol Robson made her way to the medical library as her shift had finally come to an end. Analyzing the encounter she'd had with Mrs. Grey earlier, a disturbing idea had settled in her mind. As a trainee, she couldn't consult Professor Young, her supervisor, based on her gut feeling alone. No, the concerned doctor needed medical facts to prove her suspicions.

In an almost completely empty library, Carol seated herself with the best reference book available, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. She quickly flipped through the pages until she found the chapter she was looking for, Factitious Disorders.

Pouring over the harrowing facts for over two hours, Carol reopened Julie's medical record pensively. Bearing in mind that the family had only moved to the Las Vegas area five months ago, the girl had been hospitalized three times in less than four months. Mysterious infection, sudden fever, and, the latest, respiration failure had been recorded, and her colleagues had also been unable to determine the cause of the illnesses.

The diligent trainee weighed her options carefully, but the memory of the frightened little girl lying alone in her hospital bed made her choice suddenly very easy. Despite any possible personal ramifications to her training, Carol decided to present her case to Professor Young.

With determined strides, Carol left the library, heading toward the professor's office. Her mind was made up; she would speak freely on the behalf of a scared seven-year-old girl.

While waiting for her testresults in the DNA-lab, Sara had come to realize that she truly enjoyed working with Sofia, but more importantly, she enjoyed spending time with the detective outside of work as well as with the school project. The brunette wasn't quite sure how to act upon that feeling; however, she made a special effort to be nice and sociable, not because of some moral code she had to oblige to, but simply because she wanted to.

Four weeks had passed since Sara and Sofia had started to work together on the school prevention program, and today was their third time to visit the local school. The women had also picked up a routine after each visit as they would discuss the program's progress over drinks at a nearby bar.

Before commenting on anything, Sofia thankfully gulped the cold beer and placed the empty bottle carefully in front of her. From the corner of her eye, the blond carefully watched the brunette; she felt that she was finally able to tear down bits and pieces of the invisible wall surrounding the beautiful woman sitting next to her.

"You never cease to amaze me, Detective. I never considered you to be the gluttonous type," Sara remarked casually, taking another sip from her half-empty bottle.

Sofia chuckled and replied, "Believe me, Sara; you don't even know the half of it, you'd best be prepared."

As Sara opened her mouth to counter with a sly comment, Sofia's cellphone began to ring. It seemed her presence was requested at the precinct ASAP. Only two hours prior to Sara and Sofia's arrival at the bar, a call was recorded at the 911 call center.

"Oh my God, something terrible has just happened. You've got to send an ambulance", a hysterical woman's voice cried out. "My baby, oh god, my baby."

The call was immediately traced to a phone at 112 Gibson Road near Henderson, and the dispatcher was quickly able to send an ambulance; however, the employee closed her eyes and prayed as the recording ended with a horrifying outcry, "She's going to die; my baby is going to die."

In the hallway of the LVPD, Brass waited impatiently for Sofia to arrive, and when she finally rounded the corner, he rushed her into his office to introduce her to a very somber woman.

"Sofia, I'd like you to meet Doctor Carol Robson, trainee at Mountain View Hospital. Doctor, this is Detective Curtis."

Shaking the doctor's hand politely, Sofia looked from one to the other apprehensively, having no idea what to expect. Brass took a seat behind his desk and waited until the two women were also seated before continuing in a tone that garnered Sofia's immediate attention.

With an uncharacteristically emotional voice, Brass informed Sofia about the death of young Julie Grey, and the blonde sat motionless, listening intently to the theory being laid out in front of her.

On the way to meet Sara at the lab, several scenarios ran through Sofia's mind. The detective realized it wasn't the best environment to break the awful news, but she didn't want to postpone it either. Her main concern was how Sara was going to react to the information.

Sofia had seen Julie Grey on their second school meeting. The girl always sat in the back of the classroom, simply staring out the window. She'd looked very mature for her age which was what first caught the detective's attention.

Stepping into the lab, the detective made her way to Sara and gently explained the situation, detailing the specifics of the case. As expected, Sara took in the news stoically, withholding any comment and carefully shielding her emotions.

Sofia went on to explain that the death of Julie Grey was suspicious, but extremely hard to prove as she relayed the facts given by Carol Robson. Julie had probably died as the result of one of the most harmful forms of child abuse, the Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome, named after Baron von Munchausen, an eighteenth-century German dignitary known for telling outlandish stories.

In the Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome, the parent deliberately makes his or her own child sick or convinces others that the child is sick. The parent misleads others into thinking that the child has medical problems by lying and reporting fictitious episodes. He or she may exaggerate, fabricate, or, in some cases, induce symptoms. As a result, doctors usually order tests, try different types of medications, and may even hospitalize the child or perform surgery to determine the cause.

Carol Robson had explained that she'd informed her own supervisor about her theory in the Julie Grey case. Her professor took her suspicions very seriously, and she learned that diagnosis of the syndrome is extremely difficult and that interior motives by the perpetrator are beyond comprehension. As required by law, her professor had reported their concerns, but unfortunately time wasn't on Julie's side.

"Hip, hip, hurray for the school prevention program," Sara sarcastically commented, excusing herself and quickly leaving the room, and the detective had to fight the urge to go after the investigator, but she realized the brunette needed time alone to contemplate the tragic incident.

Five days later, Sofia found Sara sitting on her doorstep, and wordlessly, she invited the obviously troubled brunette inside. The detective grabbed two bottles of beer from the kitchen and returned to the den to find the investigator standing in front of the window overlooking her small garden. Nodding, the brunette accepted the offered beer.

"I had a rotten youth, you know," Sara said in a hoarse voice, adding, "But at least I'm alive to tell about it."

Turning around and looking sadly at the detective, the brunette asked, "Why? Why do people hurt each other? Why do parents hurt their children? Why does a child die because of her parent?"

Sofia simply took Sara by the hand and led her to her sofa, gently pushing her down. There was nothing to be said, no answers could be provided to Sara's rhetorical questions. It was beyond comprehension, and any attempt to provide an explanation would be lame and vulgar.

For the longest time, the two women sat side by side on the couch, sipping their beer and listening to the sounds of silence. Finally, Sofia offered Sara the protectiveness of her arms, and gratefully, the brunette laid her weary head on the blonde's shoulder. The detective softly stroked the silky hair until Sara slowly began to relax.

"I've thought a lot about you; I missed you," Sofia whispered, tightening her grip on the brunette.

Gently extracted herself from Sofia's strong arms, Sara turned towards the blonde and saw nothing but endless blue, caring eyes. She'd missed Sofia in a way she never expected. She'd thought about the detective every single day, but still she was afraid to admit her true feelings.

"What do you want from me, Sofia?"

Closing the distance between them, the blond suddenly remembered an earlier conversation, and she asked in her most seductive voice, "Care to be my Lois Lane?"

Sofia's contagious laugh was soon smothered by Sara who kissed her passionately in answer to the teasing question, and in the land void of superheroes, but certainly not of villains, the two mortals had found solace in each other.

The End

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