DISCLAIMER: The CSI world and characters aren't mine, and I'm writing only for my own entertainment. Sadly no profit in it. I have stolen shamelessly from a book called Crime Scene, written by Esther McKay, the true story of a rookie cop turned crime scene analyst. Many of the details in the "case" in this story come from her book, though they are used out of context. It's a really interesting read – I'd recommend it.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Rach


A woman in a robe is carefully ironing a blouse. The robe has a hotel logo on the breast, and a pair of slacks hangs in the open wardrobe behind the woman.

She sits, staring into the mirror above the desk. Her face is drawn, her eyes haunted. Finally she looks down at the gun lying on the table. She picks it up and holds it to her head, experimenting with different angles and grips. She looks in the mirror, eyes narrowed as she places the barrel of the gun in her mouth, and then shakes her head as she puts the gun on the table and instead picks up a pen, chewing the end thoughtfully before beginning to write.

Time passes, and the woman continues to write feverishly. When she puts the pen down she folds the pages which are filled with small neat writing, and places them in an envelope bearing the logo of the Tangiers.

She stands up and removes the robe, dressing carefully in the freshly ironed outfit. She brushes her hair, then places the brush in her handbag and hangs the robe in the bathroom.

She then returns to the desk and looks at the envelope and gun for a moment. She writes on the envelope and then places it in the middle of the immaculate bed, then picks up the gun and walks into the bathroom.

Paperwork, the bane of Sara's existence, was spread over the layout table. The painstaking details, the tedious evidence logs and report content sheets, all were conspiring to keep her in the lab instead of out on a case as she would prefer.

The ringing of her cell phone pulled her attention away from the files.


"Sara, it's Catherine."

"I thought you were on that suspicious circs at the Tangiers?"

"I am. It looks like a clear-cut suicide. There's a letter, probably the suicide note."

"So why are you ringing me?"

"I need you to come down here."

"You need me. Why?" If it had been anyone but Catherine Sara would have been jumping at the chance to escape the labs.

"I don't want to explain over the phone," Catherine's response sounded odd, almost anxious. "I've cleared it with Gil, so please don't argue."

Sara paused for a moment before responding, "Okay."

As Sara walks down the hotel corridor she is oblivious to the strange looks being sent in her direction by the two uniforms outside the door, but even she couldn't miss the uncomfortable look Catherine gave her when she entered the room, nor the fact that Nick wouldn't meet her eye.

"What's so important that you managed to convince Grissom to un-ground me?"

"You were only 'grounded' because you'd maxed out on overtime," Catherine justified. "Again!"

"Exactly. But one word from you and Grissom lets me out. What's up?"

"It actually took seven words." Catherine replied. "Follow me." She led the way into the bathroom, stopping in front of the tub. "Do you know her?"

Sara looked down, studying the blank face of the woman in the tub, then let her gaze wander down to take in the carefully pressed clothing, the shoes lined up perfectly on the bathmat, the gun lying beside her and the gaping hole in the woman's chest.

"I don't think so. Should I?"

"It depends," Catherine led the way back out to the main room, and then picked up an envelope. "The seven words that convinced Grissom to let you out were about this. The suicide note is addressed to you Sara."

"So, we've dusted the envelope, right?" Sara asked, looking at the letter lying before her on the lay-out table.

"The only prints come back to our vic," Catherine began. "Nothing on her in CODIS, but I'd expect that. Her passport was also in the envelope. Her name is Melanie Rhodes; she's from Sydney, Australia. Is this ringing any bells?"

Sara was staring at the passport. "Maybe. Melanie," she tried the name out slowly. "Mel. I may have met her at a ballistics conference a few years back. I'd have to check my desk at home, see if it's her."

"Your desk?"

"If it's the woman I'm thinking of we went out one night after a workshop. Lots of bourbon, we talked pretty late. She gave me her card, when I got home I would have put it in the desk drawer."

"Alright, can you think of any reason she'd have left you the letter?"

"No, I only met her once. She kind of poured her heart out that night, the difficulties of being a woman in a male dominated profession. Things were pretty rough for her when she started; I think she needed a sympathetic ear."

"And she picked you?"

"Don't sound so surprised Catherine. Anyway, shouldn't we be reading the letter rather than second guessing her motives?"

With that Sara picked up a pair of tweezers, carefully extracting the letter from the envelope and placing each page in a protective plastic sleeve. Then she began to read.

"Dear Sara,

I'm guessing that you barely remembered me until tonight. You're probably wondering why it is your name that is on this letter. I guess it's your name because of that night we talked, and because I'm trusting you to do the right thing. I also think, perhaps, that you might understand.

I joined the police force when I was 18, and I can't remember anymore why I did. Probably I wanted to make a difference, don't we all? I spent three years in enforcement, walking a beat, driving a patrol car. In that time I thought I'd gotten to know the seedier side of life: I certainly learnt how to cuss, fight and drink. I discovered the forensic division, and spent two and a half years manoeuvring for a transfer. I had no scientific qualifications beyond year 10 science, but the work fascinated me. When I finally got in I spent a few months riding with a partner, then was put on the roster solo. This meant that for one week in every three any job that came up outside of business hours was mine alone. For seven days straight I would carry that pager. Some days were quiet and I could almost sleep, although I'd start at the slightest noise. Other nights were busy: why does the darkness bring out the worst in people? I grew to particularly dread the full moons. I am not superstitious, I don't believe in werewolves and the like, but I came to know that the moon exerts a powerful control over the darker aspects of the human psyche.

My first dead bodies were two teenage brothers who were in a car accident. It was in my first month in uniform, and it was Father's Day. I had to tell the parents that neither of their sons was ever coming home again. The first time I knew the deceased was three years later during my second on-call rotation in the scientific division. I'd been called to a scene where a young aboriginal girl had her head bashed in. Eyewitnesses saw the ex-boyfriend flee the scene. While I was processing the scene the ex-boyfriend returned through a back door and was about to attack me when a uniform intervened. That night I'd just gotten to sleep when I got paged to attend a death in custody. The ex-boyfriend had hung himself with a bed-sheet in his cell. The hardest part for me wasn't that I'd seen him alive, but that I'd hated him for what he'd done to the girl.

My years became full of anniversaries. Father's Day I remembered those two boys from the car accident. The lead-up to Christmas was no longer about Santa and presents; it was recalling the liquified remains of two young boys who went missing weeks before being found in the pylons of a bridge. New Years is the anniversary of disaster recovery work after the earthquake and every refrigerated truck I see makes me think of bulk body transports.

It was six months after the earthquake recovery that I cracked up for the first time. For two weeks I hadn't slept more than an hour without nightmares. I was jumpy, snapped at friends. When I got called to a scene involving a dead infant I lost it, huddled in a toilet cubicle crying for hours before my boss found me. He told me I could take a few weeks holiday to sort myself out, but that any access to formal police force counselling would go on my permanent record and hinder my career. I took the time off, got away from it all and started sleeping again. My first night back at work the dreams were back, but I learnt that with enough bourbon I could sleep through them.

Shortly after that I first considered suicide. I'd seen so much death that it no longer scared me. Sometimes, after being called to a suicide, we'd discuss what they'd done wrong. Tied the noose badly, angled the gun wrong, thrown themselves in front of a motorbike instead of a car, not given themselves a long enough drop. We'd never discuss why they did it though; that struck a little too close to home. My first method of choice was gassing in an oven, then I switched to carbon monoxide. I never considered hanging, it's too painful unless you get it exactly right.

You probably wonder what this has to do with you, and why I came to Las Vegas to do this. Anytime I began seriously contemplating ending things one of the things that stopped me was the idea of one of my colleagues being called to my scene and having to deal with that. Don't we all have enough on our plates already? With Australia being such a small country, in population anyway, I know most of the forensics people around the country. So just driving away from Sydney wouldn't have been enough. I thought of you because a stranger might not understand this request.

Sara, when my colleagues contact you to ask about what happened, as I'm sure they will, tell them that it was quick and painless, tell them that I had a smile on my face, and tell them I'm sorry I wasn't strong enough or smart enough to find another way. But please, whatever you do, don't send them photos or reports. They have enough bad memories without this one.

It is unfair of me to have given you this to deal with, but I'm sure you will do what I am asking. In exchange I will tell you this: don't let it become too late for you too. Reach out to your friends and colleagues, don't keep it inside. If it becomes too much for you to cope without alcohol or other forms of escape, know that it may be time to leave the job. You have the brains and the qualifications to find another scientific career, and I think you have the strength also.

There is a letter for my mother on the next page.

I'm sorry,

Melanie (Mel) Rhodes

"Ouch," Catherine sighed as she reached the end of the letter.

"Huh?" Sara looked up in confusion.

"She had it tough."

"Yeah, I guess so." Sara looked back down at the letter.

"You guess so? Imagine if you'd been thrown in the deep end like that. Look at how much time we've spent with Greg making sure he knew what to do at scenes, making sure he was coping. She was a kid with no qualification and no support." Catherine stared at Sara, eyes narrowing as she realised the younger woman wasn't taking in a word she said. Instead she is staring vacantly at the letter. "Sara?" Catherine reached out and rested her hand on the slim shoulder beside her.


"Are you okay?"

Sara blinked a few times before replying. "I'm fine, why wouldn't I be?" Then she seemed to notice Catherine's hand on her shoulder, staring at it as if wondering how it got there.

"Why wouldn't you be? Someone you know, however briefly, took their own life after leaving you a letter which makes my heart ache even though I didn't know her. Days like this I used to go home and sneak into Lindsay's room, sometimes I'd climb into her bed and cuddle just to remind myself that the world wasn't all like that. Then she got too old and too 'cool' for cuddles. I miss them."

"What's that got to do with me?" Sara asked.

"I've never known how you cope with what we do, and usually I feel like you put up these 'don't touch' barriers so I keep my distance. But, reading this, picturing you in her place... it makes me need to push through those barriers. Sometimes I think you don't know that you have friends here who care for you. I don't mean abstract care; I mean watch you, worry about you care."

"Really?" There was a defensive note in Sara's voice.

"Really, truly." Catherine stepped forward and rapped her arms around Sara, ignoring the tensing of the younger woman's body. "I care."

The tension drained slowly from Sara's body and the first gulping sob ripped forth. The older woman simply held on tighter letting the young woman cry in her arms, an odd relief on Catherine's face as tears ran down her own cheeks.

Muzzle flash illuminates a dark alley: in the desert vultures circle in a clear blue sky: in a dimly lit car-park tourists are mugged: daylight in a blood spattered room where Sara and Nick collect evidence: night time, Catherine peeps around a doorjamb at her sleeping daughter.

"I'll do the bedroom," Sara says.

"It's my scene," Catherine says firmly, looking at the white door with it's wooden name tag saying 'Brittany' next to a picture of a grey pony.

"I know how kids get to you Cat," Sara says gently.

"They get to everyone, that doesn't mean I can't do my job."

"I would never suggest that," Sara is quick to reassure. "But each kid, especially the girls, you picture as Lindsay. The kids hurt you, so why not let me do the room while you do the rest of the house?"

"Because..." the break is palpable as Catherine realises what she was about to say.

"Because you don't trust me to do it properly?" Sara's voice has hardened.

"That's not what I was going to say," Catherine responds to quickly.


"Maybe a little," Catherine hesitates. "But that's not my head speaking, it's my emotions."

"That doesn't make it okay." There is no emotion showing on Sara's face as she looks back at the door. "So, you're working the room, I'm out here."

"Let's both work the room," Catherine's offer is an apology of sorts. "Over-lapping spirals."

"Okay," Sara picks up her kit, step forward and opens the door. "After you."

"How did it go?"

Warrick asks as Catherine walks into the break room.

"Weird," Catherine shakes her head slightly as she heads for the coffee machine.

"Weird how?"

"Sara weird," Catherine pours her coffee then takes a seat at the table. "To start with she was being really considerate, even though I bit her head off. You' know how I am when it comes to kids, I'm not always the nicest person. Anyway, we're processing the bedroom and we've just finished the initial search when Sara goes over to the closet, opens it and looks at it for a minute with this really strange look, then turns back to the bed. I was about to ask what was going on when she gets down on the floor on her back and wriggles under the bed. A minute later she's back out holding the girls journal."

"How did she know it was there?"

"That's what I asked, and all she said was that there was no room for a girl to hide in the closet, as if that's the most obvious explanation in the world."

"I thought she didn't like kids?"

"She always says kids don't like her, but I guess she understands them better than she admits."

"Weird," Warrick stands up and gathers together the remains of his lunch. "Well, I'd better get back to that hit and run."

Catherine is left alone with her coffee, a contemplative look on her face.

A boy runs from bright sunlight into the shadows, stopping suddenly o stare in terror at whatever is in front of him: shadows move across a room, the light from the window touching a desiccated foot: Nick photographs tyre-marks on a lamp-lit street: in a brightly lit room a closet door opens and a child peeps out with terrified eyes.

"So," Greg slides into a booth and pushes one of the beers across to Sara. "What's the occasion?"

"Occasion?" Sara raises an eyebrow.

"Well over the last four years I've asked you out for a drink at least once a month, more often twice, and you've never come out. Now you're asking me out."

"Must be the new hair style," Sara is grinning, looking at Greg's carefully mussed hair.

"Really?" Greg tosses his head like a hair model. "I wouldn't think you'd be so superficial."

Sara sips her beer, starts to put it down, then changes her mind and drinks deeply before speaking. "I'm trying to turn over a new leaf. Catherine accused me of shutting people out, and maybe she's not entirely wrong."

"Go Catherine!" Greg raises his beer to toast. "Here's to new leaves."

"Are you ever serious Greg?"

"Deadly serious, I just hide it well."


"No-one expects me to be serious," Greg says, putting his beer down, "So mostly you guys don't notice when I am."

"Opposite to me I guess," Sara muses. "Even when I do make jokes no-one much notices."

"You're not always serious, but you joke with such a dead-pan face. You'd be deadly in poker, you guard your expression so well."

"Legacy of a messed up childhood," Sara says gently, then takes another sip of her beer.

"Wow, this new leaf is working already," Greg grins. "I never even knew you had a family. We all thought you sprung up full-grown in San Francisco somewhere."

"I grew up in Tamales Bay, not San Francisco."

"Tamales Bay, where's that? Do your parents still live there?"

"I don't have parents anymore," Sara's face closes briefly, then with obvious effort she looks back to Greg. "My father died when I was a kid, my mother has been institutionalised ever since."

"That's tough, do you have other family?

"Just a brother somewhere. I haven't heard from him for years."

"So what happened to you?"

"Foster care. I was lucky, the system didn't let me down totally. Not like most of the kids we see."

"This is good," Greg says gently.

"What's good?"

"This new leaf," Greg explains. "I like knowing a bit more about you."

"If I hadn't promised myself to be different I'd have changed the subject."


"I guess I got used to people looking at me differently if they knew my history. I don't like to be judged."

"But I'm your friend," Greg protests. "I'm not going to judge."

Sara smiles down at her beer. "Maybe that's part of this new leaf business, trusting that people really are my friends."

Greg raises his beer. "To friendship."

"Friendship," Sara clinks her beer against Greg's then drinks. As she lowers her beer to the table she murmurs under her breath, "May it last."

A man in a window, sunlight glints off the tears in his eyes as he steps from the window ledge and falls: a couple embrace passionately, oblivious to the darkly clothed man watching from the darkness outside: a man in a restaurant grabs at his throat, face swelling as he gasps for air: Grissom sits in his office reading a case file.

A dark haired woman is lying in bed, apparently asleep despite her restless movements and quiet moans. Suddenly Sara sits, blinking sleepily, letting the bed clothes fall to her waist and revealing an old college t-shirt. She reaches up to tuck her tousled hair behind her ear, then moves her hand slowly down her neck, lingering at the collar bone before continuing down, stopping just above the breasts. All of a sudden her eyes open wide in realisation.

"What the..."

"So, when is it my turn?"

Sara looks up from her journal. "Your turn for what?"

Catherine sighs heavily before answering. "From what I hear you've turned over a new leaf. Drinks with Greg, breakfast with Warrick and Nick. This change of heart is, I'm told, due to something I said. So, when do I get to meet the new Sara? Or am I after Grissom and Ecklie on the list?"

"There's no list," Sara is fidgeting with her coffee mug. "The guys were just... easier."


"Less complicated? Less intimidating."

"I'm not intimidating."

"Yes you are," Sara's tone is firm. "How many times have you shut me down if I made any gesture of friendship? Or don't you remember those times?

"That was years ago," Catherine protested.

"So it doesn't count anymore? Well it counts for me, which is why I've been talking with the guys instead of you."

Catherine hesitates, obviously thinking about Sara's words.

"Saturday night."

"What?" Sara looks bewildered.

"Lindsay is staying with her Grandma, we both have the night off. You can come over to my place, we'll eat pizza and watch trashy movies."

"Do I get any say in this?"

"Nope," Catherine walks out the door, then stops and leans her head back into the room "Oh, bring something to sleep in. If we have a few drinks you're not driving home.

Sara sits, confusion evident on her face.

Sara and Catherine lie on separate couches, the only light coming from the flickering television. Two empty glasses lie on the floor, a mostly empty bottle of scotch between them

"I think you're trying to get me drunk." Sara says seriously.

"If you're not drunk by now then we've just wasted most of a good bottle of whisky."

"Whose idea was this anyway?"

"Mine, remember? I invited you round here, fed you pizza, then got you started on drinking games."

"I've never heard of drinking games involving kids movies before."

"That's because you've never been invited to help out at a slumber party."

"Yeah, no kids and all. So, mothers get drunk at slumber parties?"

"Wouldn't you need to, ten screaming kids in one house for a whole night?"

"Hmm, that was one of my foster mom's excuses. Truth is I think she needed us kids so she could afford the booze."

"Foster mom?" Catherine rolls over slightly to look at Sara. "Where were your parents?"

"Dad died, mom's institutionalised."

"Wow, the deepest darkest secrets of Sara Sidle. Who would have guessed!"

"That I had secrets?"

"No, that you'd tell the secrets without the use thumb screws."

"The deepest and darkest secrets might still need that."

"Which is worse? Deepest or darkest?"

"I don't know."

"Tell me, I'll help you decide."

"No way Cat, I may be drunk but I'm not falling for that trick."

"Okay, hypothetical question then. Your life depends on telling either your deepest or your darkest secret. Which would you tell."

"Right now?" Sara hiccups. "My darkest secret, which leads to my darkest fear, which would send you running a mile."

"You think I'd run a mile?" Catherine sounds surprised.

"Hell, I'd run two miles, but it's hard to run from yourself."

"Okay, now you have to tell."


"Because otherwise I'll make you drink the rest of that bottle then ask again."

"That probably would kill me."

"So tell Sar, your darkest secret."

"Um, okay, but I need another drink first." There is the sound of glass hitting glass, then a gulp as Sara drains the whiskey. "Okay, here goes. My father was abusive, I got really familiar with emergency rooms when I was growing up. When I was 13 my mother killed him, and it wasn't pretty. She pled insanity, but she's still spent the last 23 years in jail. That's why I was in foster care. So my background is abuse and murder. I hope neither of those traits is genetic, but I'm afraid they might be."

"Shit," Silence fills the room. "That makes my darkest secrets look like a day in the park. How did you cope?"

"By becoming the confident and free spirited individual you see before you." Sara's tone is sarcastic, and she ends with a hiccup and wry laughter. "I think I'm drunk!"

"Yes Sara," Catherine sounds sad, "You're definitely drunk."

After a moments silence Sara speaks again. "Hey Cat, what's yours?"

"My what?"

"Your darkest secret?"

"Oh, I don't know. Maybe that when I was young I had a coke habit, or maybe Sam Braun being my real father."

"How can you not know?"

"Know what?"

"Which secret is darkest."

"I guess because I don't think about secrets much."

"Oh... so, did I scare you off?"

"Do I look scared?"

"It's dark Cat, how can I tell?"

"Oh, well the answer is no. I'm not running off anytime soon.


The silence this time is comfortable, but is eventually broken by Catherine.

"Sara, if I didn't run from your darkest secret you could always try telling me the deepest one."

Deep breathing is the only answer.

"Sara?... Sar?"

Finally Catherine rolls off her couch, fetches a blanket and lays it gently over her apparently sleeping colleague. She drops a feather-light kiss on Sara's forehead, whispers "Sleep well," then walks quietly towards the stairs.

A door is heard closing from upstairs, and Sara turns onto her back and opens her eyes.

Neon lights flash amongst crowded slot machines, suddenly a rush of coins fills one tray: a priest kneels before a crucifix, a tortured expression on his face and the photo of a young man on the floor before him: sunlight streams into a room where Grisssom carefully mounts a butterfly specimen.


"Yeah Greggo?"

"When are you going to shock us all by going on a date?"

"Who with?"

"Nick's suggesting a friend of his... I think you could do worse than me?" Greg smiles hopefully, fidgeting with his coffee cup.

"Greg, I love you, but I'm not going out with you."

"Why not? I'm charming, incredibly gorgeous..."

"You're also like a little brother. Dating you would be very wrong."

"I can settle for brother I guess."

The two lean back in the booth, Greg picking up his coffee and sipping appreciatively. "So does that make Nick and Warrick brothers too?"

"Maybe..." Sara considers. "Definitely in the 'No way I'd date them' regard. But not the same as you're a brother."

"Hmm, Nick and Warrick are brothers, I'm the favourite brother. Does that make Grissom like dad?"

"Grissom, that's... complicated." Sara looks down at her coffee. "I definitely didn't think of him as a father figure for a while, but maybe that was some kind of misplaced Oedipus fixation."

"Because your Dad died when you were young?"

"He wasn't much of a father when he was alive. But Grissom, doesn't really work as a father figure. A Mentor perhaps? Distant but wise?"

"Yeah, I think he's like that for me too," Greg mused, "With a fair bit of the father figure built in too."

Sara grinned. "Our work family, replacing the birth families that didn't quite fit us?"

Greg looks thoughtful at Sara's words. "Grissom as the absent but caring father, Nick and Warrick as the older brothers who annoy us but are still supportive. Does that put Catherine in the mother role?"

Sara's eyes widen, then blink before she responds. "I don't think Catherine works as the mother figure, she's too... sexual?"

"So," Greg looks relieved. "I'm not the only one to think that?"

"Probably not. She's not exactly your typical mother figure type."

"You know," Greg smiles fondly, "I still remember one time when she told me she used to dance in nothing but skin, then she turned away and strutted down the hall. That is not an image a guy should have to deal with in the office. I think she likes doing that, forcing people to see her as a woman rather that just a colleague. Or maybe she just likes to tease?"

"You're intrigued by her," Sara accuses. "Maybe you should be asking Catherine out instead of me?"

"Ask Catherine out? Do I look crazy? Besides, she's got Lindsay!"

"You don't see yourself as Dad material?"

"One day, but not yet," Greg blushes. "Besides, she kind of scares me. I think she scares most men."


"Um," Greg sips his coffee again, considering his words. "I think where Nick comes from they'd probably describe her as a wild filly. You'd never be sure she wasn't just about to throw you off."


"Who else?"

"I think perhaps you guys are reading her all wrong. Sure, she puts up barriers and they can be pretty scary at times, but I think she'd like to find the same thing as everyone else with, someone to love and hold."

Two young girls swim in a lake, a glimpse of trees on the shoreline then one of the girls screams and looks around desperately for her friend: a woman opens a garage door and coughs as exhaust fumes spill out:: evening, Greg and Warrick sit at a bar talking

Catherine looks up from a magazine when she hears someone walk into the break room.

"That looks good on you."

"What, this?" Sara reaches down to pluck at the old shirt she's wearing.

"Not the shirt, the smile."

Sara looks confused. "It's the same smile I've been wearing for the last 6 years."

"No, it's not." Catherine looks closely at her colleague, then pats the couch beside her. "Come sit down for a moment."

"Why?" Sara sits down and looks at her colleague.

"Can I say something," Catherine begins nervously, "And you promise to listen to it while remembering that I'm saying something good?"

"You mean, promise not to take whatever it is the wrong way and be offended?"

"Yeah, I mean that."


"Alright," with a deep breath Catherine starts to talk. "That smile you were wearing, and the openness in your face, that's not the same expression you've worn since you got here. You look comfortable, and secure. You don't look defensive, or guarded."

"Why should I look defensive, I'm at work," Sara smiled. "And my colleagues are all good friends."

"Exactly. You know that you belong here, with your friends."

"Of course I belong with here. I love my work, we have a great team."

"Yeah, but it's not the same smile you've had since I met you." Catherine smiled at Sara. "Sure, you always loved your work, but I think it's only recently that you've learned to trust us all. It feels good having you as a real member of our team. I know the guys feel the same way. So I wanted to thank you for letting us in, and trusting us to be your friends no matter what."

"No matter what?" Sara asked cautiously.

"Well, you revealed your darkest secret, admittedly under the influence of a great deal of scotch. I don't think the guys would be scared away or change how they see you any more than I did. Do you really think you can scare us away with anything else? We're all friends here."

Sara sat silent for a few moments before responding.

"Okay Catherine, you win. Do you want to go for coffee after shift?"

"I win? What does that mean?"

"It means that unless I chicken out before then I'm thinking of telling you my deepest secret. Showing that I trust you as a true friend."

"Wow," Catherine smiled broadly. "When you decide to be friends you go all the way. You're on."

A car speeds through a pedestrian crossing, narrowly missing a mother and child who jump out of the way; a derelict wakes up on a park bench and finds bloodied women's lingerie lying on the grass beneath him; a new shift begins at the crime lab, day shift waving to the graveyard crew as their paths cross in the locker room.

Sara was laughing out loud at Catherine's story of Greg's latest crime scene antics when Catherine's expression suddenly turned serious.

"So, you lured me here with vague promises of your deepest secret. You can back out if you want, but if you want to talk..."

Sara blinked at the sudden change of subject, then took a sip of her coffee followed by a deep breath.

"Okay, so it's not like my darkest secrets. Nothing terrible or scary. Well, hopefully not. But it could be considered kind of embarrassing."

"Now you have me intrigued," Catherine leaned across the table. "Okay, spill the beans."

"Well," Sara hesitated, "You've got to promise not to hate me, or tell everyone."


"Here goes. I've been having these dreams. I keep waking up in the middle of the night thinking about someone at work. Someone whom I like and admire. I tried cutting out caffeine before bed, counting sheep. Doesn't work, I keep waking up all flustered."

Catherine was curious. "Hmm, waking up flustered suggests a certain type of dream. Is that what you mean?"

Sara blushed. "Yes, that's the kind of dream. They started a few months ago, out of the blue. I mean, at one level it's nice, but it's kind of awkward to be remembering these dreams at work."

"Hmm, someone at work. You know if they're about Greg you'd be making his day."

Sara laughed awkwardly. "They're not about Greg. I like him, hell I even love the guy, but not that way. But since these dreams began, I'm thinking about this person a lot. The dreams started out sexual, you now what I mean. But they're not like that any more. They're about waking up together, quiet domestic type moments."

"Wow," Catherine was smiling. "Who would have thought Sara Sidle was such a romantic! What are you going to do about it?"

"Um," Sara was blushing again. "I kind of had this vague idea that maybe I should tell this person about the dreams, and see if I could work out whether they were at all interested in return."

"They'd be a fool not to be interested in you Sara. Well, unless it's Grissom, we already know he's either a fool or a coward."

"Is that what you really think? You don't think it's weird or sick?"

"Sara, why would I think it was sick for you to be interested in one of the wonderful guys we work with? Oh, it's not Hodges or Ecklie is it?. I don't think I could deal with that."

Sara looked Catherine straight in the eye. "I can promise you it's not Hodges, or Ecklie."

This made Catherine smile. "I'm glad of that. Now are you going to tell me who it is?"

Sara continued staring at Catherine, biting her lip as she pondered what to say next. Catherine stared back for a full minute, her trained investigators eye taking in her friends blushing cheeks and fidgeting hands before the truth began to dawn on her.

"Sara, those dreams aren't about one of the guys, are they?"

Sara's blush grew more heated, but she didn't take her eyes of Catherine.

"No, they're not about one of the guys. I think you know who they're about. And you don't have to do or say anything in response. I know this puts you in an awkward situation, but you asked. I wouldn't have said anything otherwise."

Finally Sara looked away from Catherine, staring down at the luke warm coffee sitting in front of her. She felt embarrassed by her revelation, but also free. It was as if some heavy burden had been removed from her shoulders.

Then she felt fingers brushing against her cheek and looked up into impossibly blue eyes.

"Did you know you're not the only one to have dreams." Catherine spoke softly.

Headlights race up and down the Vegas strip; Nick, Warrick and Greg drink a final beer before saying goodnight and heading their separate ways; two women, a brunette and a red head lie spooned together under tangled sheets; Grissom puts down a forensics journal, then stares out his window at the sun rising behind the Las Vegas skyline

The End

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