DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement intended.
CHALLENGE: Submitted as part of the Sara/Sofia 'Let's Get Sassy' ficathon.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Crossing under the yellow crime scene tape, Sara gripped her kit tightly as she moved across the lawn towards the front door. The bright lights from the TV cameras reflected off the windows of the house, giving a spotlight effect to the yard and its occupants. McKeen, the Undersheriff, stood almost dead center holding court and barking out orders to anyone who'd listen. The unpretentious CSI slid past his radar, staying in the shadows until she finally reached the house where she was met just inside the door by a relieved Grissom.
"Hey, Sara. Sorry to call you out on your night off, but we need everyone on this one. It's a real mess."
Looking back outside, Sara gestured to McKeen. "I kind of gathered that this must be a bad one, seeing as how the Undersheriff's put in an appearance."
"Yeah, it's bad alright. The homeowner is the mayor's nephew. He and his wife were brutally tortured before the murderer finally killed them. Catherine and Warrick are working the bedroom where the murders took place. Greg is checking out the perimeter, and Nick is in the garage where we believe the killer gained entrance."
Sara looked over Grissom's shoulders to see a pale faced Catherine emerge from the bedroom. "Okay, then. What do you need me to do?"
The supervisor motioned to Catherine that he would join her shortly, and then turned his attention back to Sara. "Um, well, their five year old son is missing, and I'd like for you to process his bedroom. It doesn't appear that the killer went upstairs but, just to be on the safe side, I'd like you to investigate the possibility. Sofia is already in the bedroom. She and another officer cleared the top floor, but she stayed behind, hoping that the boy was hiding out upstairs." Grasping her kit's handle, Sara nodded and started up the stairs.
Sofia stepped out of the room at the far end of the hall and motioned Sara towards her. The brunette smiled brightly and headed towards the detective. Despite the horrific scene, Sara was glad to be working with her lover again.
"Hey, find anything?" Sara asked the other woman as she placed her kit down on the floor of the child's bedroom.
The detective shook her head sadly, clearly upset with not finding the boy. "No, I looked everywhere. He's just not here." After a brief pause, her voice crumbled. "Oh, Sara, the killer mutilated the parents. If they have him . . ."
The brunette quickly closed the distance to her lover and, not caring if anyone was watching, she pulled Sofia into an embrace. "Shh, I'm sure he's okay. The killer wouldn't have gone to the trouble of taking him; he would've just killed him here."
Sofia released a sigh and closed her eyes, allowing Sara to give her the comfort she'd been craving since she first walked onto the scene and discovered what had happened. Children were her downfall, just as they were Sara's; maybe, together, the two could get through the case and come out relatively whole in the end.
Stepping back from her lover, she smiled. "Thanks, Sara. I really needed that. Now, let's get started on this bedroom. Perhaps, we can uncover at least a fingerprint or two that doesn't belong to the parents or the child."
The CSI immediately turned to her kit and pulled on a pair of gloves, handing Sofia a pair as well. The two women began the tedious process of looking for locations that the killer might've touched. Sara worked the bed and its area while the blonde moved to the window.
Sofia gave a quick glance through the glassed panes, and her eyes immediately widened in surprise. "Holy shit, Sara. Look!"
The investigator quickly dropped what she was doing and made her way to the detective's side. Following Sofia's line of sight, she spotted a tiny figure hanging onto an upper tree branch. The small boy was terrified; his eyes were closed and his tiny hands clutched at the limb.
Sara immediately pulled off her gloves and vest and bent down to remove her shoes.
"What are you doing?" Sofia asked, reaching for her cell to phone Brass for some help.
"What does it look like I'm doing? He can't hold on for long. His hands are slipping. I'm going after him."
"Like hell you are. I'm calling for help. You just keep your ass in this room until rescue can get here."
"Sofia, they'll never make it in time." Sara stood in her bare feet as she continued to remove items from her belt.
"Have you lost your fucking mind?"
Chuckling in spite of the seriousness of the situation, Sara reached for her lover's hand.
"I've never met a tree I couldn't climb. Growing up in my household, it was a necessity; neither Mom nor Dad could climb worth a shit. As long as I made it to the upper branches, I was safe. Usually, by the time I climbed down, Dad was so drunk he didn't remember he was mad at me in the first place, and Mom. . . um, well, she was usually nursing some injury he'd inflicted on her."
Sofia squeezed the brunette's hand. Sara had told her a few things, here and there, about growing up, but she'd never gone into detail. "Yes, but you haven't climbed a tree in a very long time. So, why don't we just wait for the experts?"
The CSI pulled the window the rest of the way up and lifted her leg to step onto the sill. "You know what they say about riding a bicycle? The same applies to trees."
"You mean the part about when you fall off, you just get back on? Sara, if you fall out of that tree, there's no way in hell you'll be able to try again. Humpty Dumpty would have nothing on you."
"I won't fall. Now, go call Brass." Before Sofia could argue, Sara had jumped to the nearest limb and was walking towards the trunk, trying to figure out the best way to get to the frightened boy.
She shouted upwards in a gentle but firm voice, "Hey there, I'm Sara. Just hang on a little longer; I'll be right there, okay?"
Sofia never took her eyes off her lover as she flipped her phone open. "Brass. This is Sofia. Get the fucking fire department here now! And make sure they have a truck with a ladder...a very long ladder."
Sara gracefully made her way to the next branch, surveying her path to the boy. Eyeing a closer limb, the investigator leapt across the expanse, tottering slightly on her landing. Sofia gripped the edge of the window sill and closed her eyes. She was going to kill Sara when this was all over.
"I'm almost there. Keep holding on. It won't be long now." Sara assured the small boy, hoping that the limb would hold until she got there.
A cracking sound was heard, and both Sara and Sofia held their collective breaths. The investigator pushed off just as the limb she'd been standing on broke and fell towards the ground, leaving the brunette hanging on the sturdy limb above. Swinging her body upwards, Sara easily maneuvered onto the branch directly below the young boy.
"Okay, I'm right below you now. I'm going to reach up and put my arm around your middle, and then I'm going to count to three. On three, I want you to let go. Can you do that for me?"
A tiny head shook back and forth as he clutched the limb more tightly, his small hands shaking at the effort. Sara widened her stance and braced herself as she slowly moved her hands towards the boy.
"Hey, what's your name?"
A whispered voice barely made its way downwards. "T--T-Tommy."
"Oh, I like that name. I grew up with a boy named Tommy. He was smart and very brave. He loved to climb trees, too. But one day, he climbed a little too high, and his brother had to climb up to get him. And, even though he was scared, he trusted his brother to get him down. That's why I called him brave. He trusted someone else to help him down. Do you think you could do that, Tommy?"
Sara waited patiently for a reply. "Sara? I'm scared, too."
The investigator smiled. "How about if we do this together? You wait until I have a really good grip on you, and then you count. You can let go when you're ready. I'll wait for you. Does that sound like a good plan?"
Tommy hesitated briefly. "Um, I guess so."
Sara suddenly realized that there might be another reason for the boy's fear. "Alright, I'm going to slowly reach up. I'm not going to let go, Tommy. When you decide it's time, I'll pull you to me. We'll go back inside where my friend is waiting. She's a police-lady, and she won't let anyone hurt you. So, it's okay if we go back inside, okay?"
Sara held her breath, watching as the boy wrestled with his fear, until eventually he answered firmly. "Okay, Sara."
Sofia watched from the window. "Please, please be careful, sweetie."
A strong hand reached upwards and placed a firm grip around the young boy. Tommy closed his eyes and began to count. "One, two, three, four..." On five, he let go.
Sara pulled the boy against her, keeping her balance by holding onto the upper limb with her free hand. Turning slowly, she started back down the limb, heading for the next one. Tommy somehow turned in her arms and grasped his arms around her neck tightly.
"I've got you, Tommy. I promise I won't let go."
The investigator continued her mantra as she slowly retraced her steps back to the window. With the missing limb, she had to improvise, but she successfully managed to get within an arm's length of the window.
"Okay, Tommy. My friend, Sofia, is going to pull you inside. She's the police-lady I told you about. I'll be right behind you."
The young boy gripped his savior tightly, not quite ready to let go. A voice from the window tried to ease his fears.
"Tommy. If you come inside, I'll take you away from here in a police car. Your Aunt Claire is already on her way to the station. I can take you to her." Sofia softly made her promise, hoping something would get through to the young boy.
A quiet voice asked, "Can Sara come, too?"
'You better fucking believe it,' were the first words that came to mind, but aloud, Sofia answered, "Sure, she can. I wouldn't have it any other way."
Two very weary women climbed into the police cruiser, physically and mentally exhausted. They'd stayed to interview Tommy, not wanting anyone else to upset the already fragile child. It seemed he'd heard his mother scream, and he'd crawled under the bed. When his father had cried out, the young boy headed directly for the window and jumped to the nearby tree. He'd told Sara he just climbed and climbed until he could barely hear them anymore.
"What a horrible ordeal he had to go through." Sara shook her head and reached for her lover's hand, hoping Sofia's touch would have its usual grounding effect.
"Yeah, but at least, he didn't have to watch his parents suffer. I know the sounds will haunt him but, at least, he doesn't have the images to go along with them."
Sara sighed and looked out the window. "That's true. I definitely know what that's like, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy."
Sofia squeezed the hand she held, and the couple continued on their way without another word. That is, until Sara noted their direction.
"Hey, the crime scene is on the other side of the city."
"I know. I called Brass and told him what we've been dealing with. He talked to Grissom, and they both agreed we needed to go home."
Sara stiffened, and Sofia scrambled to reassure her lover. "Hey, just until tomorrow night. We're still on the case. We just need to get away for a little while so we can get our perspective back."
A stubborn nod was the investigator's response, and Sofia patted herself on the back. She was finally learning how to handle Sara. Pushing down on the accelerator, she headed towards their apartment as another idea popped into her head.
"Hey, Sara? We've both got vacation time coming, so what do you say we take up my friend's offer to use her cabin. It's nestled in the woods with a lake and plenty of trees."
The smile that crossed the investigator's face lit up the car. "Really?"
Pleased that Sara seemed excited about the prospect of actually taking a vacation, Sofia jumped at the chance to make plans. "Sure. She said anytime I wanted it; I could have it. We probably could take off next week; a day's drive, four days in the solitude of the cabin and its surroundings, and a day to drive home."
"Call her. Let's do it. I can't wait to get away for a week."
Sofia grinned; she was definitely getting good at handling her lover; however, Sara's next words had her rethinking both her abilities and her plan.
"You know; I bet the trees are sturdy and tall. I can't wait to teach you how to climb."
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