DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Though I wouldn't mind.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I tried. The muse was fairly cooperative, hence this. Enjoy!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Tears That Never Came
Watching Warrick leave, Catherine was distracted by another tall figure looming in the hallway. Draining the last of her coffee, she offered a weak smile to the CSI.
"Hey," Sara tried to sound nonchalant.
She stood a few feet away from Catherine, their distance made more obvious by the tension in Sara's shoulders. When Conroy walked in, both barely acknowledged the detective.
"So what is it do you want to know?" The detective asked Catherine.
"Sara, why don't you go ahead and make sure Mandy's comfortable in the interview room? We'll be right there."
"Yeah," Sara answered and left the break room without a glance.
Catherine hoped the brunette knew the reason behind her actions. As much as she cherished Sara's help on the case, she knew she needed to be careful. Sara was too close to the case as it is, and her own ugly streak of jealousy didn't make things better.
"I'm really interested in her relationship with Jet," Catherine began. "He's been convicted of rape and assault and all the cases were tied together because of a bridal shop."
Catching on to the thought, Conroy continued. "You think he was targeting her all along?"
"Maybe. Maybe with her, he would have easy access to the shop and all their information."
"Let's go then," Conroy stood and waited for Catherine before heading toward the interview room.
The detective of course had noticed the tension in the air as she entered the break room earlier but she held her tongue. Word around the PD was that Sara and Catherine never really saw eye to eye on a lot of issues but both women were phenomenal when they worked together on a case.
With the detective in tow, Catherine entered the interview room to find Sara and Mandy deep in conversation. Their proximity annoyed her, and the fact that Sara had allowed the other woman into her personal space so easily added to her annoyance.
"Mandy, thanks for coming down here so soon," Catherine managed a weak smile.
"It's not a problem," the woman sitting next to Sara said meekly. "Did something happen?"
"No, not like that," Conroy answered. "What can you tell us about Jet?"
Much to Catherine's annoyance, Mandy reached out for Sara's hand and the brunette did not pull away. Reminding herself that she's at work, Catherine tried to ignore the jealousy boiling inside her.
"We met about a year ago at the bank he works in," Mandy said. "I was making a deposit for the shop because the owner, Audrey, was busy. He asked me out as I was leaving the bank."
"Do you know that he has a criminal record?" Catherine asked.
She looked away, releasing her hold on Sara's hand. "Yeah, I did."
"When did you find out?" It was Conroy's turn to ask a question.
"I-I can't remember. About three months ago, I think," Mandy answered Conroy as she shifted in her seat. "I overheard Henry and Donna arguing one day but nobody said anything after that."
"Do you know what he was convicted of?" Catherine prodded gently.
"I-I don't know," the woman sighed.
"Does Henry and Donna fight about Jet a lot?" Catherine asked.
"Not that often nowadays but when I started dating Jet, yeah," Mandy replied. "At first I thought maybe they looked down on Jet and was trying to get rid of him but "
Sensing the need to direct the interview back on course, Conroy spoke up. "Has Jet ever visited you at the bridal shop?"
"Uh, yeah. He'd come around sometimes to take me to lunch."
"And was he ever left alone where he might have access to customer information?" Catherine asked.
"Yeah, I guess. Maybe. He comes around often. Everyone knows him," Mandy frowned.
"Anything jumps out to you? Anything unusual about his behavior while in the bridal shop?"
"I caught him checking some of the other girls out a few times but that was it."
Throwing a look toward Conroy, Catherine turned her attention back to Mandy. Smiling, she stood up and held out her hand. "Thanks, Mandy. You've been a big help."
"Anything to help," the woman got up slowly. "Is that it?"
"Yes. Don't hesitate to call us if something jumps out," Conroy held the door open for her. "Did you drive here or did a friend drop you off?"
"I took a cab," Mandy said softly.
"I'll take her home," Sara blurted out, much to Catherine's surprise.
The bubble of jealousy inside her rose up, and Catherine knew she had to be far away from the two women before she did something she would regret. Walking away, she took deep breaths to calm herself down.
"Always eager to play hero, huh?" The words came out of her mouth so quickly Catherine wished that nobody had caught it. Chancing a look at Sara, she knew she was doomed.
"Mandy, why don't you wait for me in the parking lot? I'll just be a minute," Sara said to the woman, her fiery gaze never leaving Catherine. She stood in front of the blonde, her gaze holding Catherine's attention. "I'll pretend you didn't say that."
"I'll see you when I get back," Sara threw over her shoulder as she turned to walk away.
Catherine had no choice but to watch the brunette leave, even though her hand already was in mid-air reaching out for Sara. She hurried back to her office, not wanting others to see her fall apart.
As she allowed herself to reflect on the past 24 hours, she realized just how murky the situation had become. She knew the animosity between her and Sara was a direct result of her actions. Deciding to do the obvious, Catherine sighed. Things were easier said than done, and when it involved Sara, it always was complicated.
"Catherine?" Nick called out for her behind the door.
"Come on in, Nicky," she told the Texan.
"Hey," he smiled as he sat down in front of her.
"What's up?" she returned his smile, albeit with a weak one.
"Grissom says to meet in the conference room in 10 minutes."
"Oh. Sara's not in yet, though," Catherine said.
"Nah, we're talking about the Desmond case. In the mean time, she'll be catching cases," Nick supplied. "Oh yeah, and bring everything you have on the case."
"Ok," Catherine's heart sank when she heard Nick's words. That meant she wouldn't be seeing Sara until after the meeting.
"Catherine? Are you ok?"
"Yeah, didn't get enough sleep," the blonde lied.
"Everything ok at home?" Nick frowned when he took in the almost blank stare in Catherine's eyes.
"Yeah, got called in early, that's all."
"Ok, why don't you catch grab a cup of coffee before the meeting? I have a feeling we'll be in there for a long time."
"I'll do that, thanks Nick," Catherine flashed him a smile as he got up and left her office.
"Mandy, have you made an appointment with the counselor?" Sara asked the woman sitting next to her as she drove.
Sensing Mandy's reluctance in her answer, Sara wisely dropped the subject. The rest of the drive was silent, and they barely spoke two words to each other until they arrived at their destination.
"Thanks for the ride, Sara," Mandy said softly.
"No problem, take care of yourself, ok?" the brunette smiled to take the sting out of their earlier tension.
"Would you would you like to come in for a while? I don't want to be alone right now." There was a pleading tone to Mandy's voice and she looked just about ready to burst into tears.
The woman just nodded and got out of the car. Sara followed Mandy in and took in her surroundings a little awkwardly. She never liked walking into the unknown.
Looking around the living room, something caught Sara's eye. It was a single white rose placed in front of a black and white photo of the Las Vegas skyline. What was interesting though, was the sparkling item in the midst of the rose petals.
Startled by the reappearance of Mandy, Sara tried to divert her attention back to the woman. "Yeah?"
"I'm so sorry for taking up your time. I'm sure you have to get back to work," Mandy looked away shyly.
At the mention of work, Sara looked at her watch and realized how late it was. "Now that you've mentioned it, I better go. You going to be ok here?"
"I'll be fine. Thanks for coming in with me," the woman threw in a smile to show her appreciation.
"Anytime." Sara could not help but take one last look at the flower. From this angle, she surmised that it was a ring. "Call if you need anything."
"I will, thanks again," Mandy said to Sara's departing figure.
Not wanting to give her new discovery much thought, Sara concentrated on getting back to the lab on time. Her mind, however, kept going back to Catherine. Flashes of the past 24 hours came back to haunt her.
"Damn it, Sidle, get a hold of yourself," Sara chastised herself out loud.
When she arrived back at the lab, there was a stillness to the place she never liked. It was as though they were waiting for the other shoe to fall. Taking a deep breath, she headed for Grissom's office.
"Grissom?" she knocked softly on the open door before going in.
"You're just in time," he told her as he hastily gathered a few files and stood up. "We'll be meeting about the Desmond case so you'll be the only one catching for the time being."
"For how long?" Sara asked, surprised.
"At least for an hour. The swing shift is on-call should you need them," Grissom handed her a piece of paper as they stopped in front of the conference room. "Thanks, Sara."
Before Sara could say anything, Greg appeared out of nowhere with a file in his hand. "I've got it!"
"What is it, Greg?" Grissom eyed the CSIs and the two detectives waiting in the room.
"Hi Sara. Grissom, I found something you might be interested in that Desmond case," Greg said excitedly.
"And that will be my cue to leave," Sara announced as she turned around and caught Catherine staring at her. Face flushed, she hurried to the break room.
Grissom went into the room and placed the files on the table, waiting for Greg to speak. "Well?"
"The murder weapon," he motioned to Nick to pass the photo from the crime scene and held it up for everyone to see. "Notice anything missing?"
Intrigued, everyone in the room leaned forward to study the photo. "Greg, we don't have time to play games."
"There's no blood on the blade," Conroy pointed out.
"Bingo! We have a winner," the lab tech grinned.
"He could have wiped it clean before he passed out," Catherine challenged.
"But you didn't find a blood-drenched cloth anywhere, did you?"
"Not at the crime scene, no," Nick supplied.
"What are you getting at, Sanders?" Brass asked impatiently.
"Someone cleaned it, all right. Someone licked it clean," Greg said with a grin. "The clear substance Nick swabbed from the knife is actually saliva."
"But that's not the rabbit you pulled out of the magician's hat," Warrick interjected. Brass' earlier words came back to him.
"Damn you're spoiling my fun. The saliva came back to none other than our very own victim, Miss Amanda Sterling."
"The stab wounds were done post-mortem, according to Doc Robbins," Grissom said. "Henry Desmond was stabbed 10 times while Donna was stabbed 15 times."
Everyone seemed to have been shocked into silence but it was Warrick who recovered first. "Blood splatter at the scene suggests they were upright when they were stabbed in the stomach, not lying down."
"So what, she drugged Jet, slit their throats, then pulled them upright to stab them multiple times and after that licked the knife clean?" Catherine quirked an eyebrow.
"Don't forget they were moved post-mortem," Nick said.
"And the tox screen on the two bodies came back negative for any substance. However, their blood alcohol level was twice the limit," Grissom passed the report to the others.
Leafing through the pile of photos in the middle of the table, Catherine frowned when she couldn't find what she was looking for. "Did you guys ever found a ring at the scene?"
"No. Why?" Warrick raised an eyebrow in question.
"Because according to Mandy, Donna showed her the ring before they left for camp," Catherine looked to Conroy for confirmation.
"So why does Donna have the wedding dress ready when they're just only announcing their engagement?" Brass' brow furrowed.
"Beats me," Catherine shrugged. "Something's missing here."
"Ok, let's regroup here. What do we know about the murders so far?" Grissom looked to his CSIs.
"They weren't drugged, only drunk," Catherine offered.
"Their throats were slit, and then stabbed," Grissom continued. "And cause of death was massive loss of blood."
"They were upright when they were stabbed," Nick added.
"Even though the murder weapon was found in Jet's hand, further tests indicate it was licked clean by Mandy," Greg threw in.
The room fell silent. "If we find the ring, we find the killer. And in this instance, Mandy's looking good for it."
"Brass, can you get us a search warrant for Mandy's place?"
The veteran detective nodded. "I'll make a few calls. In the mean time, I'll have someone shadow Mandy, make sure she doesn't try anything funny."
Grissom waited for the two detectives to leave the room before he spoke up. "All right, Catherine, you'll go with me to do the search. Nick, Warrick, go see if Sara needs help with any cases that came in tonight."
Dropping the files off in her office, Catherine set out to find Sara. She knew the brunette most probably was out at a crime scene but she had to try. Rounding the corner, she spotted one of the lab techs.
"Catherine," the woman smiled at her.
"Seen Sara around?"
"Yeah, she was just heading out for her crime scene just a minute ago. If you hurry, you might still catch her."
"Thanks, babe!" Catherine said hastily as she rushed to the parking lot.
Even in the darkness of the night, she could spot her lover. Quickening her steps, she slowed down as she neared the other woman.
Startled, Sara dropped her keys as she turned around to face Catherine. "Jesus, Cath, you scared me."
"Sorry," Catherine stepped closer to her as she reached for the keys on the floor.
"Not that I don't enjoy your company, but is there something you want from me?" Sara asked.
"Yeah," was all the indication Catherine gave before she moved in to kiss Sara.
Robbed of breath and her senses, Sara snaked her arms around Catherine's waist and held on tight. In her mind she knew she should resist, that she has a crime scene to attend to and she hasn't quite figure out what to do about their earlier snafu.
Being in Sara's arms was like coming home, Catherine decided. She took the opportunity to part her lips, coaxing Sara to do the same but all of a sudden the brunette broke the kiss.
"Cath," Sara's grip on her arms stopped her. "We're at work."
"I'm sorry," Catherine whispered to Sara as she hugged the other woman. "I'm sorry I continue to mess things up."
"Hey," Sara pulled away to regard the woman in her arms. "Nobody's perfect."
"You are," the blonde countered. She drew lazy circles on Sara's shoulders, smirking when she heard her groan.
"Nobody's perfect, Catherine," Sara repeated. "Look, I really need to go or else O'Riley's going to chew my ass for being late."
"Ok." Catherine reluctantly let go of her. "Be safe."
"Always," Sara flashed a gap-toothed smile. "Besides, I still have to repay you for that kiss."
"And don't think I'll forget."
Both went their separate ways with a smile on their face. At least it was a step in the right direction, Catherine told herself. Since she has yet to receive word from Grissom about the search, she headed back to her office.
Just as she was about to sit down, the shrill of her cell phone alerted Catherine. In one fluid motion, she flipped open her phone. "Willows."
"Brass has the warrant. He'll meet us there," Grissom hung up before she could say anything.
"Just my luck," Catherine mumbled to herself as she collected her kit and headed for the parking lot.
She climbed into the waiting Tahoe, buckling her safety belt when Grissom pulled out of the lot. "Where's the fire, Gil?"
"I want to get this search done as soon as possible. Brass will be talking to Jet again in three hours," Grissom said without diverting his attention away from driving.
"And I have questions he has answers to," he replied. "The evidence we have against Mandy is flimsy so we need something more to tie her in."
"You mean her saliva on the murder weapon isn't enough?" Catherine teased lightly.
Their conversation was cut short when the car came to a stop behind Brass' unmarked sedan. After collecting their kits, they met up with the detective and settled into work.
Brass knocked on the door, stepping aside as he waited for an answer. He turned back and looked at the CSIs, only to receive a noncommittal shrug from Catherine.
"Be right there," Mandy's voice was drowned out by the door. Moments later the door swung open. "Catherine, nice to see you so soon."
Her memory chose that moment to remind her of the last time she saw Mandy. Biting down jealousy, Catherine flashed a polite smile to the young woman.
"Hi, I was wondering if we could take a look at your house?" Catherine took a step closer.
"Oh, like a search?"
"Yes, like a search," Catherine nodded. "We've got a search warrant so please step outside."
Catherine turned to Brass and held out her hand for the document before putting it into Mandy's hand. Seeing she had no choice, Mandy stepped out of her house and watched as the trio marched into her house.
"Catherine, you take the bedroom while I take the living room," Grissom said to the blonde as they stood in the hallway.
"We got something," Brass yelled to them, motioning them over.
"I'll say," Catherine quipped as Brass fished out the ring from the midst of rose petals with his pen.
"Let's see what other skeletons we can uncover, shall we?" Grissom snapped on a pair of gloves and went to work.
The blonde CSI bagged the ring and went in search of the bedroom. Slowly, she placed her kit down and shined her light around the room. It seemed organized, and when she saw the closet, her interest perked.
Everything from clothes to shoes was arranged according to color and each item was lined up symmetrically. Either she's meticulous or she's a neat freak, Catherine thought to herself.
After two hours of searching, both Grissom and Catherine decided to call it quits. Nothing other than the ring was substantial evidence that they had collected and there was the impending interview with Jet.
"Ready?" Grissom eyed the house for one last time.
Instead of replying, Catherine nodded and followed Brass out of the house. "Thanks for cooperating, Mandy."
"No problem," Mandy managed a tight smile at Brass. "Can I go back into my house now?"
"Of course," Grissom moved aside to let her through.
The three of them walked to their cars, wanting to put some distance between them and Mandy's house.
"So," Brass was waiting for either of the CSIs to answer.
"She's meticulous," Grissom began. "Her book collection is arranged in alphabetical order, not to mention separated according to their topic."
"We can't arrest someone for being a neat freak," the detective said.
"Ah, but don't forget we have the ring."
Catherine knew her hunches were correct all along and it had nothing to do with jealousy. She snorted at the thought, drawing confused glances from both men. Ignoring them, she walked over to the car and brought the case file out.
She held up the bag containing the ring in the light next to a photo of Donna's ring. "It's a visual match."
"Let's cover our bases and have the people from the jewelry shop take a look at it as well," Grissom looked closer at the two items in Catherine's hand.
"All right, I better get back to the station. There'll still be an officer sitting on her house just in case. Who's going to sit in this time?" Brass asked as he fished the car keys out of his pocket.
"I will," both CSIs said at the same time.
"I'll see you at the station then," Brass hurried away.
"Gil? I want in on the interview," Catherine demanded as they climbed into the car.
"Ok," Grissom replied as he started the engine.
"Gil, I said I want in. I've been speaking to Mandy from the get-go and I'll be able to spot the holes in his story," Catherine spoke as though she had no heard Grissom. "Wait, did you say ok?"
"Yes I did, Catherine."
"Oh," Catherine sat back on her seat quietly.
"Yeah, Gil?" the blonde CSI turned to face Grissom.
He knew when to push and when to back away. At this instance, he knew he should back away. Pulling into the station's parking lot, he returned his focus to the case.
"We're here," Grissom announced. "Why don't you go ahead with the interview first while I get the ring tested."
Taken by surprise with the man's words, Catherine waited for an explanation but Grissom just nodded and walked away. Shrugging off her questions, she entered the building and made herself focus on the impending interview, knowing that it was vital to solve the murder case.
"He talking yet?"
"Just the usual greeting for the boys in blue," Brass commented dryly as he turned to face the CSI. "You guys ready?"
"As we'll ever be," Catherine offered as the detective opened the door and led them into the interrogation room.
"You brought your dirty friend to watch, you filthy cop? What's this, a county fair?" the man in orange jumpsuit sneered.
"The way I see it, you can do this the hard way or you can do it the easy way," Brass leaned in close to him.
"Or what, pig?"
Not taking the bait, Brass turned to Catherine and waited for her to play her cards. "You know, I'm going to enjoy watching you get the needle."
"You aint pinning that shit on me. I told you, I didn't kill Henry or Donna," Jet banged his hands on the table angrily as he asserted his innocence.
"Did Mandy get along with your brother and Donna?"
Surprised by Catherine's question, the man focused his gaze on her instead. "What does it matter whether they get along?"
"Answer the lady's question," Brass' voice made no room for argument.
"Yeah, they did. The women sit in the room, painting their nails or something while we knock back a few watching the game," Jet replied.
"Did Mandy ever mention arguing with Donna over something?" Catherine continued questioning him.
"Look, lady, I already told you, they got along just fine."
Jet, clearly annoyed at the line of questioning, leaned in a little too close to Catherine's liking. The CSI held her ground, turning the challenge into a staring contest.
"Ok, so they would fight. Sometimes, about silly little things but most of the time they stayed out of each other's way," Jet finally offered.
"That wasn't so hard," Brass sarcastically told the man.
"Yeah, you were real polite about it."
"What else?" Catherine tried to ignore the bickering and reigned in the situation. "Anything stand out in your mind?"
"How did Donna end up ordering her wedding gown from Mandy's workplace?" the detective asked.
"I don't know. One minute they were not talking and the next they were meeting up for coffee or something."
"Do you know who initiated it?" A new voice caught all their attention. It was Grissom.
"Who are you?" Jet looked at the CSI supervisor suspiciously.
"I'm a criminologist with the Las Vegas Crime Lab. My name is Gil Grissom," Grissom answered calmly.
"Whaddaya want from me?"
"Do you know if it was Mandy or Donna that initiated the truce first?" Grissom repeated his question.
"I guess Mandy did." Jet shrugged. "I don't know these things, ok."
Hearing the man's words, Brass turned to the two CSIs. "You know what I think? I think Desmond here is saying that to save his own skin."
"Fuck you," Jet spat out. "You aint know shit."
"Enlighten us then," Catherine spoke up as she finished reading the file from Grissom. She passed the file over to Brass, quietly observing the man seated in front of her watching them.
"Interesting," Brass commented as he took a small evidence bag out of the file and snapped it shut. "Recognize this?"
"No, should I?"
Catherine reached over and held the bag in front of Jet. "Take a good look, buster. We'll stay here all day if we need to."
The man shifted his gaze and regarded the ring for a moment before he spoke again. "That's Donna's wedding ring."
"Are you sure?" Brass leaned in closer.
"I aint blind like some of you doughnut boys, ok? Henry and I went together to pick up the ring after they altered it. That stone costs a chunk."
"When was that?"
"We went that day before we left for camp," Jet shifted in his seat.
The three traded knowing glances and used the silence to collect their thoughts. More and more pieces of clues began to fall into place, but they still had to be cautious.
"Look, I don't know what shit you all are smoking, but Mandy could not have killed them," the surviving Desmond brother voiced out the proverbial pink elephant in the room.
"How sure are you? As I recall, you were passed out at that time," Brass challenged him.
"You're crazy if you even think that Mandy is capable," Jet asserted. "Instead of going after the real killer, you guys are ready to crucify the victim. Well, so much for justice."
"I've had enough of listening to you yak," Catherine told him as she stood up.
Brass waved to the officer in the corner and Jet was led back to his cell. He then took a seat across from the two CSIs, taking the moment to figure out their latest information.
"So," the veteran detective began. "Who wants to do the interview when I get Miss Sterling in?"
"I'll do it," both CSIs said in unison.
Not again, Brass thought to himself. "I'll page when we have her in custody."
"Yes, Catherine?" Grissom's voice was calm, his mind elsewhere.
She crossed her arms and regarded her supervisor then, trying to decipher his actions. "So what do you think?"
"I think Jet is telling the truth," the man began. "I also think we might have a cold-blooded killer on our hands."
"Given what we know about the murders, yeah."
There was an unsettling feeling every time Catherine's gaze fell on the crime scene photos. With the new information from Jet's latest interview, she was certain that her hunch was correct.
"The evidence against her is circumstantial so we need more if we want a conviction," Grissom said plainly.
"You mean her saliva on the murder weapon and the ring in her house is not enough?" Catherine challenged.
"Any decent defense lawyer could argue them away easily."
"What about the blood on her parka?"
"Catherine, our job is to collect and process evidence, not argue the case," Grissom stated. "I'll have Nick and Warrick go through everything one more time to make sure we didn't miss anything."
"I'll help them," Catherine offered as their truck pulled into the lab's parking lot.
"No, I need you to focus on the interview."
Catherine understood the reasoning behind Grissom's move. She knew he had noticed how Mandy flinched every time a man was near her. Part of Catherine wondered if it was an act but she chose not to voice out that thought.
"Get your head straight," the blonde scolded herself.
Hours later, when Catherine walked into the break room, she jumped when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Turning around, she was met with Sara's concerned gaze.
"You ok?" Sara asked her as they neared the coffee machine.
The blonde gave her a weak smile in return. "Just work."
"Ok." Even though Sara didn't believe the other woman, she knew better than to push for answers.
Pouring a cup of coffee for Catherine, Sara grabbed her own steaming mug and headed for the couch. Without a word, Catherine followed suit. Together, they sat in the break room and let the grunts of life around them do the talking for once.
From the outside, they looked as though they were not talking but their body language spoke volumes. There was a breath of space between them, both drawing comfort from the other's proximity. Even when Catherine's cell phone began to ring, they made no point of moving.
"Detective, what can I do for you?" Catherine tried to focus her attention on the phone call and not the feel of Sara's bare skin against her arm.
"Mandy's ETA is one hour." The detective's tone was sharp, almost irritated.
"I'll be there, thanks," Catherine told the detective before ending the call.
Turning to Sara, Catherine flashed the woman a smile and was about to say something but she beat her to it.
"See you after your shift tomorrow?" The tone of hope in Sara's voice made Catherine's heart skip a beat.
"You bet," Catherine said as she got up. "Oh and Sara?"
"Yeah?" Sara got up and rinsed her cup in the sink.
"Next time, make sure we're not sitting so close together when I have to leave soon," the blonde smirked.
"Why's that?" Sara feigned innocence and stepped closer to Catherine.
"Because I'm not sure I want or have the willpower to leave," the older CSI threw over her shoulder before making a beeline for the parking lot.
Pleasantly shocked from the woman's words, Sara could not stop the smile plastering her face as she went back to work. The day off was a welcomed bonus, but she now had something to look forward to.
"Look, I don't got much time so I'll make this fast. The pigs are trying to pin Henry and Donna's murder on you."
"Oh?" This new revelation got her attention.
"Don't worry, sugar, I set them straight. These people aint know jack if they think you did it."
"Hey, when's your attorney going to go see you again?"
"This afternoon. Why?"
"Nothing." Realizing he needed more, she added in a low voice, "I've got a surprise for you, baby."
"I can't wait." He spied the officer tapping his foot impatiently. "Listen, sugar, I've got to go."
"Bye." She didn't even bother to wait for his reply before hanging up.
She needed to work fast and at the same time avoid raising suspicion. That was the last thing she needed then.
"Where have you been? I've been trying your cell for the past 20 minutes," Conroy huffed out as she approached Catherine.
"Driving. What's up?"
"Jet killed himself. Guards found him during their rounds. He's been dead for about two hours," Conroy replied.
"That puts his time of death some time around 9. How the hell did it happen?" Catherine's mind worked overtime as she absorbed the new information.
"Beats me," the tall detective shrugged. "According to the guards, he didn't look good after his meeting with the attorney."
"Who's at the scene?"
"Brass and Grissom."
"So what now?" Catherine did not bother to keep her frustration out of her voice.
"We wait for the two and see what they have to say," Conroy replied flatly. The case was getting to her like it did with the CSIs and she hated that feeling. Before she could dwell on her thoughts any longer, her cell phone crackled to life.
"Brass. Willows with you?"
"Get over to CSI Sidle's place ASAP. No lights; bring two patrol cars with you." Brass' voice was clip, right on the edge as he relayed Sara's address to her. "Suspect is believed to be targeting CSI Sidle. Proceed with caution."
"10-4." Turning to Catherine, the detective motioned for them to head out. "We gotta hurry."
Sensing talk would come later, Catherine hurried to her car and sped off in the wake of Conroy's sedan. When they neared Sara's apartment, the blonde's heart almost leaped out.
"Detective?" Catherine whispered, her training kicking in as she stood next to Conroy.
"Stay behind me until I give you the thumbs-up," was all the detective said.
As soon as Conroy had dispatched the two patrol officers to stake out the other exit to the apartment building, she led Catherine and another officer up the stairs to Sara's apartment.
Taking two steps at a time, Conroy rested her hand on her gun. Though to this point, there was no reason for her gun to be drawn, she wanted to be careful. As they approached Sara's apartment, a lone figure stood in front of the door. In one swift movement, Conroy had her gun trained on them.
"Hands above your head, Mandy," Conroy demanded.
Everyone held their breath while they waited for the woman to comply. Slowly, Mandy held out her hands, raising them above her head. When Conroy closed in on her and slapped the handcuffs on her wrist, a feral grin broke out.
"Amanda Sterling, you are under arrest for the murders of Henry Desmond "
"I know my rights, detective," Mandy cut the detective off. "Took you guys long enough to catch me. Well done."
Conroy motioned for the other officer to escort Mandy to the car, leaving Catherine standing in front of Sara's apartment. As she contemplated whether to knock on Sara's door, the door swung open.
Without a word, Catherine pulled the brunette in for a searing kiss. All tongue and lips, there was nothing subtle about the emotions behind the kiss. Slowly pulling away, she willed her heartbeat to return to a normal pace.
"You're all right," she told Sara.
"I am. What are you doing here?" a confused Sara spied an officer down the hallway. "Something I should know about?"
"Sara," Catherine breathed out. "Mandy was here. Outside of your door."
"We think she killed Henry and Donna. Maybe even Jet too."
"I thought he was in a cell," Sara's brow furrowed as she tried to make sense of the situation.
"He killed himself. We found a note on him," Catherine closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "That's how we know to come here to find her. She wrote that note, with your address on it."
"Holy shit," Sara mumbled.
"I I have to go," Catherine stepped away from Sara's embrace. "I need to sit in on the interview."
"Catherine?" Sara's one-worded question was enough to stop Catherine in her tracks.
She flashed the younger woman a reassuring smile and nodded before walking away. Feeling better than she did 10 minutes ago, Catherine followed Conroy's car and headed back to the PD.
"There you are."
That voice was irritating to her ears ever since she first heard them but now it was pissing Catherine off. Biting down her own anger, she focused on the woman in front of her.
"Not too smart move you made there, Mandy," Catherine began.
"Just another move in the grand scheme of things," Mandy tilted her chin higher in defiance.
Knowing their best chance to get a conviction was to get Mandy to confess, Catherine kept her talking. "But then one wrong move is enough to defeat you."
The resulting snort from Mandy's lips sent chills down both Conroy and Catherine's spines.
"I don't expect you, of all people, to understand anything," Mandy said flatly. "I don't expect you to see the big picture."
"And what is the big picture?" Conroy piped in.
"Nothing to do with you, that's for sure."
"Why did you kill them?" The sudden shift in question caught Mandy off guard, but she composed herself quickly to answer Catherine.
"No use for them anymore. They're not fun to be around anymore. Take your pick."
"I got bored of them," Mandy said in a blasé tone.
Before the detective or Catherine could ask more questions, a man in a suit walked into the room and announced the interrogation as over. As Mandy balked and argued with the attorney, Catherine and Conroy waited in the hallway.
The rest of the shift was lost on tying up loose ends in the case and Catherine was eager to go home. She was disappointed that they didn't get to talk to Mandy after the arrival of the attorney but she knew better.
Grateful that the case was coming to an end, Catherine packed up her things and was about to head out when she spotted a tall figure walking toward her.
"Miss me?" Sara's whisper was meant for her ears only and she could hear every ounce of love in the woman's voice.
"More than you'll ever know," Catherine smirked when she saw the slight gleam in Sara's eyes.
"Ready to go home?"
"Yeah, just let me run to the locker room real quick."
"I'll wait by the car."
As Catherine walked hurriedly to the locker room, another figure was walking down the hall.
"Hey Sidle," the annoying voice of Ecklie reached Sara's ears. "I heard that vic you found was actually the killer. Nice job."
"Nice job?" Sara felt her anger slowly boiling inside her.
"Yeah. Although if you ask me, a gorgeous little thing like that, I'd jump at it too." The leer was not lost on Sara.
Taking a deep breath to calm herself down, Sara spoke up. "Ecklie, if I were you I'd walk away and pretend this conversation never happened. In fact, do everyone a favor and think over what you just said."
Not bothered to wait for Ecklie's shock to wear off, Sara left for the parking lot, only to find Catherine watching from afar.
"Damn, you sure set him straight," Catherine commented.
"Yeah, well " Sara's voice trailed off.
Once they were in Sara's car, Catherine slid her hand onto Sara's, intertwining their fingers in the process.
"Yes, Catherine?" Sara turned to regard the woman as the car came to a stop at a red light.
"Would you would you like to go out on a date with me?"
There was a tinge of nervousness in Catherine's voice and Sara found it strangely endearing. "I thought we were past that."
"Please?" Catherine never really begged for a date but for some reason she wanted to romance the younger woman.
"You don't have to do that, Catherine," Sara turned her attention back to the road as the lights turned green. "And for your information, the answer is yes."
Throughout the rest of the drive, only the matching smiles were their conversation. Nothing else needed to be said. They would navigate through the relationship like they do with life.
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