DISCLAIMER: They're not mine, I promise to put them back where I found them. No money made, no infringement intended.
NOTE: In my little world that team split thing never happened. Special credits go to Sasha, for allowing me to play with her idea and incorporate it into this story. A big thank you to my beta Krys for all her help. Quoted lyrics in chapter 28 written by William Blake, the ones in chapter 33 written by Hermann Hesse.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Strong Enough
By Karen


Chapter 23

For some reason Grissom decided to split them up for the night, sending them in opposite directions. The case of B/E Catherine got assigned to ended up being solved pretty quickly, all the evidence pointing towards a guy who confessed the minute he was brought in. Sara hadn't been so lucky. She got stuck in the lab again since Gil assigned her to help Warrick out.

The shift nearly ending, Catherine pushed her paperwork away and sighed. Rubbing her temples she glanced at her watch and decided to go look for Sara. They hadn't seen each other all night long and Catherine decided she would have to change that. Picking up the files to take them to Grissom on her way, she went in search of the brunette.

Finally she found Sara hunched over a microscope, tired but determined look on her face.

Knocking slightly so as not to startle her, Catherine waited for her to look up. She didn't miss the look of annoyance briefly crossing Sara's features before their eyes met and Sara's small smile quickly turned into a full blown grin.

"Hey…" Sara straightened up reaching her arm and Catherine approached the desk smiling back at her. She quickly found herself enveloped in a warm hug. "I missed you." Sara murmured against her neck.

Sighing contently now that she had Sara in her arms again, Catherine snuggled closer. "Are you almost done here?" She asked after a while, "I was hoping we could have breakfast together." Pulling away a little so she could look at her, Catherine brushed Sara's cheek, noticing the tired expression in her eyes once more. "Hard case?"

"Not really, just frustrating. Warrick's all jumpy because Grissom is checking his every move." Sara leaned against the desk pulling Catherine along, not wanting to lose contact with her body. "I have no idea what's up with Grissom tonight. He made me run every freaking test three times." Smiling a little, Sara added, "Breakfast sounds good though. The best idea I've heard all night." Leaning down a little she captured the blonde's lips softly, enjoying the feeling of Catherine's body pressing into her.

Catherine's hands trailed across Sara's back to rest in her hair before cupping the back of her head and pulling her down. The need to deepen their kiss too strong to resist, she happily noticed Sara giving in; her soft whimpers showing the blonde her actions were appreciated. Sara's hands came to rest on Catherine's hips before sliding down to unexpectedly cup her backside pulling her closer, causing the blonde to gasp and lose control of their kiss. Lost in the sensation of Sara's lips on her neck while her fingers performed their gentle massage, Catherine arched into Sara, a low moan almost breaking free from her throat before being smothered by their lips crushing together.

Catherine squirming against her making it difficult for Sara to keep in mind they were still at work, she gently ended their kiss. Grinning smugly, she murmured against the blonde's lips, "How am I doing?"

"Huh?" Catherine sounded disoriented, still struggling to get her breathing under control.

She felt Sara's arm wrap around her waist for support while the other brushed her hair out of her face. A finger gently hooked under her chin making her look up into mischievous dark eyes.

"You know… with breaking your rule?" Sara reminded her, trying with all her might not to chuckle at Catherine's confused expression.

"Oh." Catherine finally caught on. Her eyebrows rising slightly, she asked in disbelief, "And you've actually stopped just to ask me that?"

"No…" Sara mumbled, lowering her head so she could brush her lips against Catherine's. "I was worried those sexy little sounds you kept making would attract audience." She slowly trailed the tip of her tongue across Catherine's lower lip before sucking it into her mouth.

"Can you blame me?" Catherine murmured once her lip had been released again. Sara's arms pulled her closer and she snuggled into the strong body.

"Never." Sara kissed the top of her head, enjoying the sensation of Catherine nuzzling her neck. "I'm just being selfish. I don't want to share."

"So… You have a possessive streak, huh?" Catherine smiled closing her eyes, "I guess I'll have to find a way to get used to that."

"Shouldn't be too hard." Sara teased, "It kind of resembles your own." Looking up in slight confusion Catherine was met with a lopsided grin, "Steven still checks around twice before giving me a hug."

"Ugh…" Burying her head in Sara's neck again, her cheeks flushed, Catherine heard a few low chuckles and felt Sara's arms tighten around her waist. "I'm sorry about that…" She mumbled without looking up.

"Don't ever be sorry about that." Sara tilted Catherine's head upwards, looking into embarrassed blue eyes. Kissing Catherine's forehead she admitted softly, "Who knows how long it would have taken me to figure things out on my own." Smoothening a stray blond lock with her fingers she smiled at Catherine, "Guess I should learn to appreciate that temper of yours."

"I'll help you study." Catherine offered pulling the brunette down for another deep kiss.

Looking across the small table into Sara's smiling eyes, Catherine pushed the now empty plate away and leaned back in her seat. "So… How come you decided to sit across from me instead of next to me?" She asked while motioning to the waitress to bring them more coffee.

"I wasn't sure you would behave yourself." Sara told her between two bites.

"Me??" Catherine nearly squeaked, "Oh, that's rich." Shaking her head she slowly slid closer to Sara. Thank God for narrow booths.

"Was it not you cornering me in the lab?" Sara wiggled her eyebrows, reaching for the napkin so she could hide her grin behind it.

"Well now…" Catherine cleared her throat, her leg slowly brushing against Sara's. "I don't remember you complaining at the time." A hand unexpectedly sneaked underneath the table to gently squeeze the brunette's thigh and Sara almost choked on her newly arrived coffee. Faking nonchalance, Catherine went on, "In fact, were it not for your groping…"

Desperately trying not to cough, Sara blinked the tears away, "Excuse me?" Catherine just smiled sweetly while her fingers inched higher causing Sara's breath to hitch. Their eyes locked, Sara gently stilled Catherine's hand. "Now who's groping?"

"Apparently no one," Catherine noticed, "Since you're holding my hand in a death grip." A quick glance at her watch made her take mercy on Sara. Remembering Nancy was still at her house watching over Lindsey, Catherine sighed realizing it was time to leave. She reached to tuck a strand of hair behind Sara's ear and leaned in to kiss her cheek. "I have to go, sweetie. Nancy will need to leave for work soon and Lindsey doesn't have classes for another couple of hours today."

"Ok, let's go." Sara nodded reaching for her jacket, stopped short by Catherine's hand grazing her thigh once more.

"Don't think I'm letting you of the hook though." Catherine mumbled close to her ear, "We have some unfinished business, Sidle." Happily noticing Sara's blush, Catherine smirked, "You better take me out on that date soon or I'll break the damn rule myself."

"What are you doing?" Lindsey mumbled sleepily, surprised to be shaken out of her slumber by her mother pushing the blankets away so she could lie down beside her. She was certain it wasn't time for school yet.

"Climbing in." Catherine informed her.

Lindsey didn't look enthused with the idea, "Why?" She was eyeing Catherine suspiciously over her shoulder, not moving an inch.

Her mother ignored the question and gently pushed her forward a little, "Move over."

Not having much choice in the matter since Catherine had already crawled in, Lindsey yawned and grumbled under her breath, "Where??" The bed was really becoming too small even for her.

Catherine wrapped an arm around her daughter barely stifling the laughter and brushed a stray lock out of Lindsey's face. "I miss this." She admitted softly, "Cuddling."

"Mom…" Lindsey complained half-heartedly, "We're both too old."

"I'm not. I don't care how old you are, you're still my baby."

Her mother's soft admission making her smile Lindsey still figured she had a reputation to uphold. She also knew Catherine expected nothing less. "Just please stay where you are," Lindsey tried to sound all serious, "Every time you roll over on your back you start snoring like a freight train."

"Yeah well, you drool in your sleep so that makes us even." Catherine offered grinning behind her daughter's back. Hearing an exasperated sigh coming from the small form in her arms, she chuckled and asked, "Are you comfortable?"

"No." Came the muffled reply, "Your feet are cold."

"Grumpy." Catherine murmured before kissing Lindsey's temple and snuggling closer. Lindsey offered no response and Catherine allowed herself to relax a little. Unconsciously playing with her daughter's hair she tried to decide if it was too early to talk to Lindsey about Sara. She couldn't really bring herself to try predicting Lindsey's reaction and had to settle for simply hoping the revelation she was about to make wouldn't set them back again.

"Mom?" Lindsey asked quietly after deciding Catherine had grown too quiet too soon. Turning around in her mother's arms she looked up into her face. "What's wrong?"

Her little girl's ability to sense her moods making her smile, Catherine brushed her cheek with the back of her fingers, struggling inwardly to find the right words.

"No secrets, remember?" Lindsey reminded her gently and Catherine nodded.

"My relationship with Sara has been changing lately." She started carefully, "A lot has happened and… We've become closer."

Lindsey nodded, "I've noticed."

"I know." Looking straight into her daughter's eyes, Catherine softly admitted, "She has come to mean a great deal to me." She paused for a few moments waiting to see if Lindsey would make a comment and than added, "I really care about what we have now and… and I know she does too. Uhm…"

Taking a breath before diving into the unknown, Catherine was left staring in shock when in hopes to end her mother's stuttering misery Lindsey suddenly asked, "Are you dating Sara?"

Big blue eyes kept watching her intently waiting for response and Catherine blinked a few times before shrugging a little. "Not really… I mean, not yet… But we're sort of heading in that direction and uhm… well, I need to know if you would mind."

Suppressing a giggle at her mother's flustered rant, Lindsey carefully told her, "You know I like Sara. Why would I mind?"

"Really?" Catherine's eyes widened. This was just too easy, there had to be a catch somewhere. "You wouldn't?" She kept staring at Lindsey, hoping to see if the girl was just trying to indulge her or was actually telling her the truth.

Sighing, Lindsey smiled at her mother's wide eyed expression. "Remember that talk we've had? About a year ago?" Catherine's eyebrows shot up so Lindsey went on, "When we were both mumbling and blushing and feeling totally awkward… and I kept asking all those questions and you nearly busted something trying to explain human sexuality to me?"

"Uh-huh…" Catherine nodded slowly, hoping to God Lindsey hadn't thought of more interesting questions to ask.

"Let's not go into it again, please?" Her daughter smiled pleadingly, oblivious of huge waves of relief washing over her mother. "I don't care who you date as long as you don't end up hurt again."

Feeling a sudden rush of emotions threatening to overwhelm her, Catherine closed her eyes for a moment. A small hand brushed her face making her meet her daughter's gaze again. "Besides, Sara's great." Lindsey told her shrugging a little, "She makes you smile."

Her heart soaring, she pulled Lindsey in a hug not caring about the tears rolling down her face. "I have the most amazing kid in the world…" She mumbled happily in Lindsey's ear, earning herself a few muffled giggles.

"Was there anything else?" Lindsey asked after a while, still not letting go of Catherine.


"Good." A soft kiss landed on Catherine's tear stained cheek. Pulling away to look into her mother's eyes, Lindsey told her with a huge grin, "I love you too. Now get out of my bed."


Chapter 24

She couldn't see anything but the quiet darkness surrounding her. It was cold and she was barefoot and confused for she couldn't tell where she was nor how she got there. Out of the corner of her eye she recognized the shape of the wall. It seemed familiar and she felt the need to touch it just to make sure it was there. Trying to determine the distance she considered taking a few steps to close it and reach the smooth surface, but suddenly there were footsteps approaching and her breath got caught in her throat. The feeling of guilt washed over her and she couldn't understand where it came from. Was she somewhere she wasn't supposed to be?

The unnerving feeling rising inside her, she tried taking a few steps back but realized she couldn't move. Her mind clouded with fear keeping her frozen in place, she suddenly realized the sound of footsteps had quieted. For long moments she could see or hear nothing, shivering in anticipation until a familiar silhouette appeared in front of her making her gasp before it vanished again.

"What's the matter, Sara?" Her mother's voiced echoed from somewhere behind her and she nearly jumped when fingers touched her face, her eyes lifting to meet her mother's.

Feeling small again under Laura's gaze, Sara tried looking away but those fingers gripped her chin more firmly. "Can't bear to look at me?"

Her heart beating frantically, she looked up again, determined not to show the terror she was feeling but to no avail. A faint smirk appeared on Laura's face for a moment and then the green eyes turned a different shade and Sara was almost certain they were brimming with tears. "Don't worry." Her mother told her, her voice unwavering even as her eyes were telling a different story, "I'll be leaving soon."

And then she was gone. No warning, no sound. Nothing.

"Sara." A gentle hand came to rest upon her shoulder, "Wake up."

She woke with a start, surprised to feel someone else's presence in the room. The webs of sleep still making it difficult for her to focus on her surroundings, Sara covered her eyes and tried to calm her breathing.

"Are you all right?"

Turning towards the sound of a familiar voice she looked up into the worried eyes of her brother. For a few moments she just looked at him, thinking how much of their mother she could see in his features and yet how strangely calming it was just to have him near. She tried responding but found she couldn't speak just yet; too afraid the only sound that would come out would be a sob.

"You were crying in your sleep." Steven told her softly and Sara only nodded and closed her eyes, taking more deep breaths in hopes to push the unsettling images of her dream away.

"I'm okay." She finally whispered.

A sound of phone ringing forced her eyes open; she looked up to Steven as he reached for the cordless and handed it to her. He silently got up and left the room to give her privacy and she sat up in bed trying to clear her throat before answering.

"Sara? Did I wake you?" Brass sounded worried and Sara smiled a little.

"Yep," She mumbled, "You've disrupted my beauty sleep."

"Sorry kiddo… But it's not like you need it anyway." Jim offered and Sara could hear the amusement in his voice.

"You'd flatter your way out of anything, Jim." Sara told him trying to untangle her leg from the sheet. "What's up?"

"Change of plan." Jim sighed before continuing, "Kiner called Candeece, said he wanted to meet her sooner."

"What?" Frowning, she shook her head to clear it, "When? Where?"

"Same place, 6pm."

Glancing quickly at her watch Sara felt the adrenalin rush when she realized it was past 5 already. "Jesus! Why didn't you call me sooner?!" She jumped out of her bed nearly tripping over her own legs.

"Easy there, just wanted to give you heads up. Grissom will probably call you in soon…"

Sara interrupted him hastily, "I'm coming with you."

"No way, Sara. I don't want you doing anything silly."

"I'm not going to jeopardize something as important as this!" She barked out, "Come on, Jim. You know me better than that."

"Sara, I'm too old for this." He sighed again, "I have to make sure to protect that woman. The testimony she's willing to give won't mean much if she ends up dead. I can't deal with worrying about you at the same time."

Little did he know Sara was already hopping around her apartment, half dressed and narrowly avoiding collisions with her startled brother while trying to find her car keys.

"Why would you call me if you didn't want me there?" She mumbled while rummaging through her pocket.

"To give you…" Jim tried but Sara interrupted him again after finally fishing out the keys.

"…heads up, yes. Thank you. I'm coming with." She grabbed her jacket and kissed her brother's cheek before storming out of the room. "See you in 10 minutes. Don't you dare leave without me." She told Jim before hanging up, throwing the receiver on the table and running out of her apartment.

"What do you mean, she left with Jim??" Catherine's voice could be heard all the way down the hall. She was staring incredulously at Gil who looked desperate to get her off his back. As if it wasn't bad enough that Sara decided to disregard his orders to stay in the lab, now he had Catherine chasing him around, demanding explanations.

"I sent Warrick after her to make sure she doesn't get into trouble, all right?" He asked exasperatedly, taking his glasses off.

"No, it's not all right!" Catherine practically yelled at him, "How could you let her go?"

"I didn't really have much choice in the matter, Catherine." He told her taking a seat behind his desk, "She sent me a message saying they were already on their way."

Covering her face with her hands Catherine just stood in the middle of his office, her mind frantically running through all the possible complications. She finally took a deep breath and released it slowly. "So… Sara is with Brass and two other officers, tailing after Candeece Black. And Warrick is following them?"

"Yes." Grissom nodded, watching her closely and silently wondering what she might come up with next. He was becoming painfully aware how at times like this he really had no control over any of these people working for him. Wouldn't Ecklie just die to know that?

"Have you heard from any of them yet?" Catherine asked ending his trail of thought.

"They've only left ten minutes ago, Catherine. It's too soon to…" He trailed off, shocked to see her turn around and practically run out of his office. "Catherine!!" He yelled after her but it was too late. By the time he reached the hallway she was gone.

Driving as fast as she could without risking being pulled over, Catherine tried to decide whether or not she should call Sara. She had a feeling the brunette wouldn't be too pleased to know she was being followed. It was not a matter of not trusting Sara, Catherine just couldn't stand the thought of sitting and waiting to see what happens. Candeece Black was simply trying to save her own skin, but that bitch most likely got Eddie killed and what was even worse she left her baby to drown and Catherine knew she'd never be able to trust a single word from that woman's mouth. The whole idea of relying on her now just seemed wrong.

Finally she sighed, shoved her somewhat still hurt pride aside and dialed Warrick's number. "Where are you?" She asked as soon as he picked up.

Trying to cover his surprise at hearing her voice, Warrick answered after a few moments, "Driving south down Hoover Avenue." She sounded pissed and he figured he'd better not ask any questions yet.

"I'm a few minutes away." Catherine informed him, "Where are you exactly?"

"Behind Brass. We've almost reached the intersection with 4th Street. I can see a yellow Sedan in my rear-view mirror." He mumbled looking around, "It's ugly as hell, should be easy to spot." After a few moments of not getting a response of any kind his curiosity finally got the better of him, "Griss knows where you are?"

"He probably has a pretty good idea." Catherine told him not caring to elaborate.

"You know… This is weird." Warrick started.

"What is?"

"For some reason we're moving really slow." He sounded confused and she couldn't tell what he meant exactly. Startled when her pager suddenly went off Catherine slowed down a little. Asking Warrick to hang on she checked the message Grissom sent her.

"Cath? What's wrong?" Warrick asked after catching a few of her loud curses.

"4th Street is closed for traffic. Damn!" She finally told him.

"What?" The only thing he could hear clearly were Catherine's screeching tires.

"Building demolition…" She explained, "Call Sara. I can see that yellow Sedan, I'll park somewhere and try to reach you guys." She hung up before he had a chance to ask anything else.

"You okay, kid? You look a little jumpy." Jim teased gently, noticing Sara's eyes never left the car in front of them.

"I could use a cigarette." She muttered without looking at him.

"How about a nicorette instead?" Jim offered, stopping at the red light.

Sara turned towards him in surprise. She ignored the offering hand for a moment, asking incredulously, "You're using them again?"

"Ah, no. Still." Jim admitted, shrugging, "Sometimes." He turned his attention back to the road.


"Hey! At least I'm not fantasizing about cigarettes… much." Smiling, he dropped the small pack in Sara's lap.

"All right then." Popping one into her mouth Sara turned away muttering "thanks". Her eyes fixed on the road ahead; she suddenly caught a glimpse of a familiar SUV in the rear-view mirror. Turning around in surprise she noticed Warrick waving at her slightly.

"Oh, for God's sakes…" She mumbled returning her attention back on Candeece's car in front of them, "Warrick's behind us."

"I've noticed." Jim said unhappily, "Grissom probably sent him."

"Great." She popped another gum in her mouth, grimacing at the taste. "Is it just my imagination or did the traffic suddenly become heavier?"

Considering her pun for a moment, Jim frowned noticing they indeed seemed to have found themselves trapped in a long line of vehicles. "What the hell is going on?"

"It's not rush hour, is it?" Sara mumbled more to herself. Her cell phone started ringing and she recognized Warrick's number before answering.

"The entire 4th Street is closed for traffic due to building demolition and block redevelopment! We're trapped!" Warrick yelled in her ear loud enough for Brass to hear.

Exchanging a look with Jim, Sara nearly jumped in surprise when one of the officers from the back reminded them of his presence, "She's getting out of the car!" They've both turned in time to see Candeece abandoning her car and rushing across the street, the small microphone unexpectedly slipping out off her jacket.

"Shit!" Brass cursed their luck and tried to unfasten his seat belt but Sara was faster. Before he even managed to blink twice the brunette was already running after the small woman. The two officers quickly jumped out of the car leaving Brass to curse under his breath. "Shit, shit!!" He kept fumbling with the door handle and the small scanner in his hands, finally exiting the car only to hear Warrick yell in passing, "I'm going after Sara, you deal with Catherine!"

"Huh??" Brass just stood there, staring after Warrick in confusion for only a moment before the familiar blonde appeared from behind him, grabbed his shoulders and none too gently swung him around.

"What the hell happened?!" Catherine demanded angrily still trying to catch her breath, her eyes flashing in frustration. Running in high heels has never been her favorite sport.

"Where did you come from?!" Jim stared at her in shock They both heard Warrick yelling Sara's name and turned around in time to catch a glimpse of his retreating form disappearing behind a large van. Not wasting another second, Catherine let go of the startled detective and ran off down the street after Warrick.

"Shit! Shit! Shit!" Seemed to be the only thing Brass could come up with before joining the race.


Chapter 25

Chewing on her lower lip Sara squeezed her eyes shut for a few moments and then opened them again, hoping to adjust slowly to the darkness which suddenly surrounded her. She had been following Candeece up until the point when the woman rounded the corner and vanished.

Her heart still racing inside her chest, Sara took a few deep breaths and touched the butt of her gun through her shirt. The way things seemed to be going to hell it was a really good thing she actually remembered to bring it.

They were supposed to follow closely behind so that they could protect the damn woman; this foot race had been completely unexpected. Who would have thought she would just take off? When the initial shock wore off it occurred to Sara that given their past experiences with Candeece Black such turn of events really should have been foreseen in advance. But it had already been too late for dwelling on it, Candeece disappeared and Sara didn't have time to consider her reasons. The only thing she was certain of was she had to find that woman no matter how scary it felt to be here without so much as backup. If she didn't they'd probably never get another chance to get Kiner and she'd be damned before she'd ever let him get away with everything once more.

Weighing all the options she decided there was a good chance Candeece sneaked inside the bar through the back door, she wouldn't have had time to reach the other end of the alley with Sara so close behind. Besides, the door was slightly ajar, this had to be it. Her newfound determination spurring her on, Sara drew her gun out, opened the door and disappeared inside.

"God damn…" Warrick mumbled coming to an abrupt stop. He found himself in a small dark alley and tried to catch his breath. Just a few moments ago Sara rounded that same corner so where the hell was she? He tried concentrating on the faint sounds that seemed to be coming just a few feet away from him, nervous that he could barely see where he was going. "When did it become so dark?" Warrick wondered, not even realizing he was whispering to himself.

Things were going good and then that strange woman started running like mad and he couldn't for the life of him understand why. He saw Sara take off and jumped to follow her, sensing they wouldn't be able to find Candeece again if they let her out of their sight. She had told them she was meeting Kiner because she still owed him money, Warrick remembered. The question was why she seemed so eager to get there on time.

He kept taking slow steps, not really knowing where he was. As much as he hated relying on a hunch Warrick wasn't about to give up now. Sara was there just moments ago, he was sure of that. She couldn't have gone too far. Squinting in the near darkness he thought he saw a movement somewhere in front of him so he quickly hid behind the pile of empty boxes. His heart beating madly in his chest, Warrick tried to focus but not a sound could be heard.

He pulled his gun from under his jacket, his fingers nervously trembling around its butt. He rarely had the chance to even draw it out, now he just kept praying he wouldn't have to use the damn thing. His palm sweating against the cold metal, Warrick slowly straightened up and rounding the boxes continued to walk. As he was approaching the other end of the alley he noticed a street lamp nearby, casting a wan glow over what appeared to be the back entrance to the bar. He rushed towards it, praying that he wouldn't be too late. He'd never be able to forgive himself if anything happened to the brunette while he was supposed to be protecting her.

Struggling to remain calm, Warrick finally decided there was only one way to find out if Sara entered that door. He grabbed the door handle and tugged.

Listening to the sounds of music coming from the front, Sara slowly kept walking, trying to ignore how uncomfortable the darkness was making her feel. The unsettling images from her dream came rushing back to her and she shuddered involuntarily. Now was really not the time to lose concentration. She shook her head as if to clear it and slowly rounded another corner, thinking how the place looked like a tunnel. It was making her nervous to know she could be walking into a trap but still couldn't afford to slow down. She did however come to a halt once she spotted dim light illuminating the other end of the hallway.

The panic rising inside of her with every new step, Sara only halted again when she was close enough to hear voices coming from the small room. She recognized both of them.

"What the hell do you mean, you didn't bring me my money?!" Kiner's raised voice could be heard clearly and Sara clutched her gun a little harder.

She heard some kind of rustling sound and than the sound of footsteps became louder and Sara gasped knowing there was no way he wouldn't see her if he decided to come out of the room. Keeping her back to the wall, her eyes never leaving the smudged glassy door in front of her, she could hear Kiner screaming, "You bitch!! I told you not to show up without it!"

"That money should be the least of your concerns!" Candeece yelled back at him, "They're coming for you, you idiot! They know where you are!"

"What?!" He roared and Sara now knew things could only get worse. "You brought cops with you??"

"I came to warn you!" Candeece told him, the anger still dripping from her voice, "You better start running fast and take the main exit while you're at it."

Sara's mind kept racing; she couldn't understand which game this woman had been playing. What was she hoping for? To give him heads up and he would forget she owed him money? Jumping in surprise when a heavy ashtray crashed into the door, glass shattering everywhere, Sara realized Kiner must have thrown it when Candeece shrieked in terror, "You freak! What more do you want??"

"I'll show you!" He yelled before a loud smashing sound came from inside followed by another scream. "Bitch!! First you lure the cops over, then you come to tell me what you've done?!"

"What?? What will you do?" Candeece dared him, "Haven't you killed enough people already?"

Sara kept frowning in the darkness, wondering at whose side exactly Candeece was on. It now seemed she was trying to fish out that confession they've been so desperate for out of Kiner and Sara felt torn between barging inside before the woman ended up dead and staying outside to listen.

"Don't you worry! I always have another bullet to spare!" Kiner promised menacingly and Sara took it as her cue to enter when a sudden movement behind her made her jump around ready to shoot.

Trying not to lose sight of the running blonde in front of him, Jim never stopped cursing for too long. "Why are all these people in my way?" He kept wondering while bumping into them. Those that haven't already jumped to the side once Catherine dashed by simply didn't have a chance in hell to avoid a pissed off detective in full speed.

He managed to jump over what looked like a discarded female shoe and continued to run after the blonde. "Damn." He panted unhappily, "Too old…" The patch of blonde hair he'd been following disappeared around the corner so he picked up his pace only to barely avoid crashing into huge pile of liquor boxes once he rounded the same corner.


"Jesus, Jim!" Startled, Catherine snapped at him before turning her attention back to the small back entrance to the bar. "Could you make any more noise?" She grumbled quietly.

Relieved that he finally managed to catch up with her, he looked apologetically at the blonde woman already clutching her gun. Glancing down he noticed she was barefoot.

"What happened to your shoes??"

"I can't run in high heals." Catherine calmly told him not bothering to turn around again. She kept moving slowly along the wall towards the door.

"So that's what I nearly tripped over…" He mumbled under his breath, making his way towards her. "Could have given me a small warning, you know?"

Frowning, Catherine finally turned around, "What are you talking about?"

"Never mind." He waved her off. With daylight disappearing quickly they didn't have time to waste. He could barely see three feet in front of him as it was.

"Where the hell are those officers you brought along?" Catherine asked in a hushed tone while approaching the door slowly.

"Damned if I know." Jim followed her, drawing his gun from his holster. "Maybe they decided to resign before I get the chance to fire them myself." He saw Catherine reach out for the handle and quickly grabbed her hand, "Don't." When she opened her mouth to protest Jim gently pulled her away, "You get to cover my back."

"Why?" She grumbled, "I'm not one of your rookies." Sara was in there and Catherine was in a hurry to get to her.

"Nope." He had to smile despite the situation, there was just something adorable about a grown woman pouting, "But I'm the one who's here to wield the gun around if necessary. You're here to process the scene in case I accidentally shoot someone."

"Not funny." She mumbled but stayed behind his back.

The eerie quiet surrounding them slowly started getting to them both, it felt like the calm before the storm and Jim hated to think of all the things that could yet go wrong. He hated not having things under control and the mere thought of Sara being somewhere out there, unprotected and possibly in danger because he had been silly enough to allow her to tag along was eating away at him.

Holding his breath, Jim slowly reached the handle and tugged. The door creaked open and they could hear faint sounds of music coming from inside. They exchanged a look and Jim signaled to the blonde to stay close behind.

Suddenly a scream pierced the air freezing them to the spot before a lone gunshot followed. Before they had a chance to react two more shots were fired.

And then the silence returned.

Part 26

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