DISCLAIMER: i don't own and CSI, i don't own any Xena except my action figure collection, this was written for fun not for profit.
SPOILERS/WARNING: Since I made it up there are no real spoilers for CSI, some for Xena but if you don't know how the show ended…well i think it's been long enough now.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By layla


Part 1

Sara strolled easily down the corridor her long stride moving her smoothly out to the pool area. Grissom had loaned her out to work with Catherine for the night. For some reason he thought she might be helpful. So far all Sara knew was that this was your average DB in a casino. A couple of hours earlier Catherine had answered the call to come to Caesar's Palace. A body had been discovered in one of the pool side cabanas near the Apollo Pool. The entire area was opulently decorated with giant Corinthian columns, ornate tile mosaics, everything one would expect in one of Vegas' famous casinos.

As Sara rounded the corner, evidence kit in hand, Catherine turned to see her lover. "Hey babe, Grissom was willing to part with you for the night, huh."

"Yeah, he said I might have some insight into the case, what's up?"

Catherine couldn't entirely keep her grin in check at the fact that Grissom had actually offered Sara up for this case, Catherine hadn't really needed her but she wasn't about to turn down the opportunity to work with Sara. Ever since the shift change they had had a difficult time getting quality time together so Catherine cherished any time they had even when it was just putting there heads together on cases. As for Grissom's assessment of Sara and this case, well, he really did have a sick sense of humor sometimes.

"Take a look for yourself, the body is in there," Catherine motioned toward the open cabana they were standing outside of, "so far all we know is female, 5' 10", dark hair, no ID on the vic, but we do have an idea what she was in town for."

As they were talking they walked into the cabana. "So what was she in town for?"

"Convention," Catherine's answer seemed vague to Sara, like there was something she was purposefully not saying, so she opted to take a look at the body. What she saw was not at all what she had expected. Lying on the floor by the bar was a woman dressed in a dark brown leather tunic. It was laced up the back and had a skirt made of strips of the same leather. She also had bronze colored armor over her breasts, bracers on her wrists, high boots and greaves, and long dark hair. Lying next to her was a sword with a black handle and mother of pearl inlay and protruding from her chest was a round metal ring about ten inches in diameter.

"You have got to be kidding me; this is why Grissom thought I might be helpful?"

"Everyone knows about your little 'secret' Sar. That's what happens when you get caught watching dvds on slow nights." Catherine knew Sara had tried to keep her little obsession with Xena a secret and had been mortified when Greg had caught her watching it one night when the lab had been painfully slow. Word had spread quickly once Greg got this juicy bit of information. Catherine, of course, had not been at all shocked by this news as she had seen Sara's collection in person.

"Grissom really is a sick man. There is something very wrong about using a murder victim to further an inside joke. I think maybe we all spend way too much time around this." Though there was a certain amount of truth in what Sara said she still couldn't help but at least appreciate a touch of gallows humor in the situation.

"Sick or not, you are now mine for the night. So why don't we take advantage of this situation and put our heads together. After all two sharp women are better than one, remember." Catherine and Sara shared a grin at the memory of those words on their first meeting. They both, from time to time, had to stop and appreciate how far they had come from their rocky start. It had taken them awhile but they had made it. Together they had changed the fire between them from fighting, to passion, to love.

"Definitely better than one," Sara grinned then turned all business, "So what else do we know about Xena here, the cause of death seems pretty obvious, have you found anything else?"

"The initial sweep of the room hasn't turned up much. From the amount of blood on the body and on the floor it seems this is our primary scene. There's no blood trailing or drag marks. There are obvious signs of struggle; the lamp to the left of the bar is broken and the curtain on that window is half pulled off. So far we've had similar problems as with any hotel room, too many prints, too much DNA. We did find a strand of blonde hair on the body, but if this Xena was that into the part we all know her affinity for blonde sidekicks so it could be suspect or girlfriend or both until we find out who the vic is we are kind of spinning our wheels."

"Not entirely, she has on a rather elaborate Xena costume, with the convention in town she had to have been entered into the costume competition. There is no reason for her to have invested this much in that outfit and not enter. We just need to head over to the convention hall and find out who she was."

"I do expect you to tell me just how you know so much about Xena conventions when we get home tonight. For now I guess I should just thank Grissom for sending you." As they wrapped up their conversation Nick and Warrick entered.

"Hey Sara, Cath decided to bring in the expert for this case huh." He couldn't help poking a little fun at Sara; it was really the only thing they had to tease her about so he had to take advantage of the situation.

"You're a funny man, Nicky. I just figure Grissom didn't trust you around all those women in leather." Sara figured if he was going to start dishing it he could take a little.

"All right kids," Catherine said good naturedly, "Nicky, you and Warrick finish up in here. Catalogue the prints, make sure and print the murder weapon before David takes the body back to Doc Robbins, collect the pieces of the lamp, you know the drill. Sara and I are going to go see if we can't identify our vic."

As they approached the convention hall the two CSIs noticed the crowd begin to thicken. There were woman milling about, most dressed casually in various bits of Xena paraphernalia; t-shirts, baseball caps, jackets. There was also the occasional full costume, though in Vegas those folks barely seemed out of place. There were Amazons in bird masks, young Gabrielle in full on peasant chic, Callisto with wild blonde hair and tiny leather outfit, Ares God of War, there was even a Caesar, though they couldn't be sure he didn't work for the hotel. Sara noticed what looked like the registration desk and motioned Catherine toward it.

"Hello ladies, can I see your tickets please," came the comment from the attractive blonde sitting behind the table.

"Actually, I'm Sara Sidle and this is Catherine Willows, we are with the Las Vegas crime lab. Can we ask you a couple of questions?" Sara held out her identification for the woman to peruse.

"Sure, what can I help you with?"

"First, do you have a list of the people entered in the costume contest?" Sara inquired knowing even if this woman didn't have the list she knew who did. It was the second night of the convention so the contest should be the following day and all participants should have been registered.

"I don't have it but I can get if for you just one minute," with that answer the woman pulled out a walkie-talkie, "Sharon, are you available?"

*Right here, what can I do for you?*

"Do you have the complete list of costume contest participants?"


"Can you bring it up front; there are a couple of cops that would like to take a look at it," with that the woman looked back at Catherine and Sara, "anything else I can do for you?"

"We'll let you know when we see the list. And just so you know we aren't cops we're crime scene investigators." Sara rather got tired of explaining the common misconception that they were actually police and not science geeks, she'd much rather be a science geek.

As they waited for the list of participants to arrive both Catherine and Sara took the opportunity to people watch. It was fascinating the kind of community that could build around something as everyday as a television show. People were greeting and hugging friends they hadn't seen since the last convention, or people they had only ever met online; in chat rooms or on mailing lists. Sara could relate to them more than she cared to admit. This was one place they could share something that had become important to them in a way that went beyond the bounds of simple TV entertainment. Watching this particular show had gotten Sara through some tough nights, watching stories of true love and soul mates when she had felt her own soul drawn to someone she never thought would be interested had helped in some strange way. And now, now that she had found her other half, the sappy romantic part of her loved the show even more. This was probably the one place where people might understand that feeling.

Catherine was lost in her own set of thoughts as she watched the crowd. She knew Sara loved the show, knew she may actually have gone to something like this at some point. She also knew that someone wandering among these folks had killed someone. There was very little chance the killing and the convention weren't connected in some way. The murder weapon alone indicated some sort of link. Catherine wondered how a cheesy, albeit enjoyable, television show could grow into something that would bring hundreds, even thousands, of people together. It was an interesting phenomena and understanding it would probably help her get to the bottom of this case.

Both women were drawn out of their thoughts as they saw someone hurriedly approaching the registration desk papers in hand. The woman seemed incredibly busy, like she had about a hundred places to be five minutes ago. Her curly brunette hair was in mild disarray and she seemed a bit winded.

"Tracy, you said some cops needed to see this list. What's going on?"

This time Catherine took the lead, "We aren't actually cops; we are criminalists. We were wondering if we might see that list so we can make an identification."

"What sort of identification?" Sharon seemed a bit concerned.

"I'm afraid we found a body dressed in a Xena costume and we thought your list might help us narrow down who the victim was." Catherine answered the question giving out as little information as possible. It was always dangerous letting people know exactly what was happening this early, before the victim was identified anyone remotely related to the situation could be a suspect.

"A body, as in a dead body, shit you have got to be kidding me." Sharon's already haggard face took on an even more concerned cast.

"I'm sorry, but that list would really be helpful," as she spoke Catherine reached out her hand as if to remind the other woman she still had the desired papers in her grip.

"Oh, sure here whatever you need. In fact, here's my cell number. If anything is going to turn my convention upside down I would really like to know what it is." In addition to handing Catherine the list she also gave her a business card identifying her as the event's organizer.

Catherine quickly glanced at the card picking up the woman's last name, "Thank you Ms. Douglas. We'll let you know if we have any further questions for you."

Upon reviewing the list of about forty entrants it was quickly narrowed down. Of the forty only ten entrants were listed as traditional Xena costumes and two of those contestants were men leaving them with a short list of eight. The easiest place to start, following that, would be to see how many of those were checked into the Palace. Catherine and Sara quickly found their way to the hotel's registration desk.

As they approached the desk they saw a sandy haired young man behind the counter efficiently checking in the line of guests. Sara flagged him over. "Excuse me, but we are investigating the situation in the pool area and we could use your help." In her years working in Vegas Sara had learned rather early on when you used words like murder or body when standing in a crowded hotel lobby you tended to attract the wrong kind of attention and generally pissed off the hotel employee you were trying to get information from. Subtlety was a much wiser course of action, she had only made that mistake a couple of times before catching on, not too bad considering her usual grace when it came to such common courtesies.

"Ah, yes, do you have any idea when we will be able to open the pools again; we've been getting some complaints," the young man, Todd according to his name tag, asked.

"It should be a few more hours yet, we need to clear the pool area as well as the cabana itself, we do apologize for the inconvenience, but we don't want to miss evidence in a case like this," Catherine had opted to answer the question knowing her lover had learned a great deal about diplomacy but often the questions of people concerned more about business than human life tended to try Sara's patience. "You could help us speed up the process if you could tell us if the following people are registered here" as she stated this Catherine handed him the list of names.

He took the list and quickly began typing the names into his computer. "Yes, all of them are registered here, usually people that involved in a convention stay in

the hotel it is held in. It gives them a better chance of running into the celebrities after the day's events, and it means they can have as much fun as they want and only have to stumble to an elevator to get home. Here's a print out of the names and their room numbers. Is there anything else you need?"

"No, thank you Todd, you've been a big help." Sara took the list from the young man and turned to Catherine. "So you wanna do a little door to door?"

"After you," Catherine held out an arm indicating Sara could take the lead over to the elevators that led up to the suites.

"So we have eight rooms, three in the Centurion Tower, four in the Roman Tower, and one is the duplex suite in the Forum Tower. Should we start with the money? Those duplex suites are not a typical stay, they have more square footage than our house," Sara, even after years in Vegas, still couldn't believe the places there were to stay here. The suite she was referring to had over 3,500 square feet; it was a lot of ground to cover if their victim was the person registered in that room.

"Sounds like as good a starting point as any," Catherine said as they boarded the elevator that would take them to their destination.

About forty-five minutes later the two CSIs found themselves back in the Forum Casino only slightly further toward identifying their victim. Six of the rooms had been occupied by women baring a striking resemblance to their victim; same costume, same hair, same weapons. It was a bit disconcerting for both women. The good news was they were down to two women unaccounted for, Marsha Tompkins, who was registered in the duplex suite, and Jill Mawson who was checked into murder central in the Roman Tower.

"I need to go check in on Warrick and Nick, see if they've turned anything up as of yet. Do you want to head back down to the convention and see if anyone has seen our two missing Xenas?" Catherine figured they had little left to go on after their trip through the hotel until there was more evidence to process or an actual name for their victim. Vegas was a town people traveled through, the biggest challenge they often faced on murder cases was thousands of people passed through town in a day and once they left, they left. It wasn't just a joke that what happened in Vegas stayed in Vegas. Visitors on the strip were all too transient to be tracked well.

"Sounds good, I've got the polaroid of the victim and now maybe a couple of names to attach. I'll see what I can dig up." Without giving it a moments thought Sara gave Catherine a quick kiss before she turned and walked away. It didn't dawn on her until she had taken a few steps what she had done, it wasn't often she forgot herself like that, forgot where she was, but then again, sometimes she just couldn't help herself. When your soul mate was standing right there it was just too tempting to pass up.

Catherine smiled as she felt a fleeting blush touch her cheeks. Sara never ceased to amaze her. They would be going along, all business, and there she would be showing just a peek into her heart. The grin stayed firmly planted on Catherine's lips as she made her way back to the pools to see what the boys had turned up.

Catherine returned to the cabana to see Nick and Warrick putting the last of their equipment into their kits. "So, find anything interesting?"

"Nothing probative, at least not yet, we got some prints off of the murder weapon and found something on the blade of Xena's sword but we couldn't tell what it was until we get it back to Trace. We found some metal links in the victim's hand; they looked too big to be jewelry so we're thinking part of a costume maybe. It also seems someone was kind enough to leave us a fresh DNA contribution on top of the bar. Other than that it was a typical hotel scene, way too much information. The area around the Apollo Pool didn't turn up much of anything; it looks like our scene was pretty localized to this cabana. With all the wet footprints out there it's impossible to tell if a specific trail leads in here." Warrick answered, giving Catherine the quick recap of what they found. "How'd you guys do, do we have a name yet?"

"Other than Xena, no. Sara's trying to track down our last couple of leads. Hopefully she'll find something, sounds like you guys picked up quite a bit though, now we just have to wait and see what you got," Catherine really didn't like this point in the case. She was a master at putting the puzzle together, but she needed some pieces before she could do it. She didn't need all of them, but at this stage she didn't have nearly enough information. She just had to wait for Trace to turn something up, or AFIS to spit out a name, or for her Sara to work her magic and come up with an identity for their victim.

"Did David take the body back to the morgue?" Catherine asked Warrick so she could check one more bit of information off of her mental list.

"Yeah, he took off shortly after you and Sara left so, assuming they weren't too backed up we should have the prelim results when we get back."

"Excellent. So if you guys are finished here why don't you head back and I'll hook up with Sara and see if we have a name yet. We'll meet you back at the lab and hopefully we'll have somewhere to go from there."

"Sounds like a plan boss," Nick said as he picked up his kit and some of the evidence bags.

"Oh, one other thing guys, is Brass still around?" Catherine had a few questions to ask the detective now that he should have taken the initial interview with the employee who found the body.

"Yeah, he's out by the pool talking with the hotel manager about when he can have his pools back. I'm sure he'd appreciate the interruption," Warrick said with a knowing smirk as he picked up the last of the evidence and followed Nick out of the cabana.

Catherine stepped out and spotted Brass a few yards away on the other side of the pool talking to a tall balding man who seemed highly agitated.

"I understand you have an investigation to conduct Detective, but I have a business to run and this is definitely getting in the way of that."

"This is a woman who has been murdered Mr. Jenkins. We will gather all the evidence and then we will clear the scene. This is a homicide investigation; we'll let you know when we are finished." Brass pulled no punches with pushy managers who didn't seem to give a damn that someone had died. They only saw dollars and angry customers, and they tended to be pains in the ass. They definitely didn't make him want to release the scene any sooner than necessary.

Catherine decided this was a good time to interrupt, before Jim told this guy to go to hell. "Jim, can I borrow you for a moment?"

"Sure, what can I do for you?" Jim didn't even bother to dismiss the hotel manager he just turned his back and began talking to Catherine; he was done wasting his time on this particular officious little man.

"We're just about done collecting the evidence and I was wondering if you found anything out from the person who found the body." Catherine really hoped he had something for her.

Brass flipped open his little notebook and began to give Catherine the lowdown. "The body was found by one of the pool attendants. Jimmy Blackwell, he was making his stops at the private cabanas to check on towels and such when he knocked and got no answer he came in to stock everything and he saw the body lying there. He called his manager and she called it in to 911. I did find out that this cabana was registered under the name Carissa Martin."

"Thanks Jim, I'm off to catch up with Sara and see if she's found anything further." Catherine gave Jim a nod of thanks and headed off to meet up with Sara.

Sara wasn't having much luck tracking down either of their missing Xenas. You would think nearly six foot tall women dressed in leather would stand out more, but in this environment it seemed they were the rule rather than the exception. Sara paused for a moment, taking in the scene around her trying to decide where to head next. As she watched the crowd, something caught her eye. There were two women standing off to the side and they seemed to be having a fairly heated disagreement.

That alone wasn't enough to draw Sara's attention, it was coupled with the fact that both women were in full costume. The taller of the two was dressed as Callisto right down to the wild blonde hair and the midriff baring black leather, the smaller woman was dressed as Gabrielle circa season six, short blonde hair, red velvet skirt and top, sais strapped to her boots, she even had the dragon tattoo drawn on her back. Sara couldn't help but wonder what the two were fighting about.

Before she could make her way over Gabrielle slapped Callisto across the face turned on her heel and left. Sara decided to follow a hunch and continued over to ask Callisto a question. "Excuse me, can I ask you something?"

Still rubbing the growing read mark on her cheek the woman turned to face Sara. "Sure, what the hell, it's not as though my day doesn't already suck."

"My name is Sara Sidle, I'm with the Las Vegas crime lab and I was wondering if you might recognize this person," as she asked the question she held out her picture of the victim's face. She hadn't yet had much luck asking the other costume contestants if they knew either of the women she had yet to track down, but it seemed this one definitely had something going on in her life today and perhaps it had something to do with the case. Sara had very little left to go on so she figured this was the moment to follow her gut.

"Uh, yeah, I've seen her around a couple of times. Her name is umm…Martha or Marsha something," as the woman handed Sara back the picture she shrugged indicating that was all she had.

"Thank you, you've been a big help." Sara could sense that there was a pretty good chance this woman knew more than she was letting on. "Can I get your name just in case I have any other questions?"

"What are you a cop or something? Is there something going on?"

"No, I'm not a cop; I'm with the crime lab. There was an incident earlier today and I'm just trying to figure out what happened."

"What, like did she get in a fight or something?" For someone who had no real connection to the victim the woman definitely seemed interested in anything Sara might know.

"Something like that. So you say the woman's name is Marsha? Marsha Tompkins?" Sara wasn't about to give this woman any of the information she had, she was fairly sure that at this point this woman knew more about what happened in that cabana than she did. There was something in the way this woman was evading Sara's eyes that told her she was hiding something.

"Yeah, I think that was her name. She's been to quite a few cons, always enters and wins the costume contest. I think she won in Burbank and Pasadena, I've seen her around."

"Thanks again, I'm sorry, I still didn't get your name." Sara knew she needed this woman's name before this conversation was over.

"Oh, yeah sorry about that, Jillian, Jillian Martin."

"Thanks Jillian. Are you staying here at Caesar's?" Sara could have found out that information fairly easily on her own but after covering most of the hotel in search of people she was really ready to cut out the leg work.

"Why, you want my room number?" Jillian wasn't blind and cop or not, this chick was hot, and hey she was in Vegas right.

It took Sara a quick second to realize this woman had just started flirting with her. Sara's personal space was suddenly invaded by a blonde in leather, and it was not anywhere near the correct blonde in leather. Jillian had taken a step closer and was standing just inches away from Sara. "I'd be happy to give you my room number," the other woman's voice had dropped to a dangerous purr and Sara was just trying to find a way out. Her main path of escape was blocked by the overeager new suitor and behind her was one of the giant Corinthian pillars that decorated the area. She was stuck.

"I don't think she wants your room number. I think she was asking for your information to further our investigation and if you don't step back you may be facing a situation you don't want to deal with. We may not be cops but you get much closer and you will still be charged with assaulting a member of law enforcement." Catherine had been making her way across the room to see if Sara had turned anything up on their victim; she had been watching the interaction between her and the leather clad blonde and she hadn't liked what she was seeing. She had watched the woman step into Sara's space and not back off, Catherine knew how much Sara hated when strangers did that. Hell, she knew how long it had taken Sara to get used to her being close. There was no way she was going to let this woman get away with making her lover feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

Sara felt immense relief at the sound of Catherine's voice. She also felt immense joy at the sudden look of fear that moved across Jillian's face as she quickly moved herself what she thought was a safe distance away from Sara. Catherine was a force of nature and it didn't take anyone long to figure out that challenging that was a really stupid thing to do. Sara knew she could have gotten out of the situation on her own, but it was so nice to know she didn't have to. It was an amazing feeling to have your own champion.

"Hey, I was just being friendly. No harm done." Jillian quickly put up her hands in a sign of surrender. No matter how hot this Sara was, she knew better than to try anything. That little blonde would probably tear her apart for even trying. There was a look in her eye that left no room for doubt that the tall brunette was more than spoken for.

"Then I would say we are done here. If we have any further questions for you, I'm sure we'll let you know." It was obvious Catherine was dismissing the woman and she took the hint and made a hasty retreat.

"You really are incredible you know that." Sara was smiling at Catherine, her full wattage smile she saved just for the love of her life.

"What?" Catherine hadn't really put a lot of thought into what she had done. She just did what she had to do, it was an emotional choice not a logical one.

"You just walked up to a woman dressed in metal and leather carrying a sword and scared her away with a few well chosen words. And you did that because you knew she was making me nervous. Not because she was a real physical threat but because you saw she was standing too close and you know how much I hate that. That was all it took to get you to ride to my rescue; that spells incredible in my book." It wasn't every day Sara actually laid it all out like that and from the adorable blush now in Catherine's cheeks she was really glad she had said what she said.

Catherine tried to shrug off the compliment but couldn't entirely hide the smile in her eyes at the image of being Sara's knight in shining armor. Maybe all the costumes were finally getting to her. Now was not the time though, they did have a case to work. Sara could see Catherine shifting gears in her head moving from loving knight to CSI. She also knew they would talk more about this later, but now was the time to focus on the case. "So Sara, did you get anywhere?"

"Yes, actually, Callisto there, her name is Jillian Martin and she positively identified our victim as Marsha Tompkins. So it looks like we have the duplex suite to look through. Should we head over there now?" This was the point in the case Sara started to really get excited. The case was just beginning to open up before them; it was the first moment it started to feel like they were getting somewhere.

"I'll call Brass and have some uniforms secure the room. Before we head over there I want to look into something. You said your new admirer's name was Jillian Martin and the cabana where the body was found was registered to a Carissa Martin; I'm guessing there is a connection. Let me call Brass and then find out if Warrick and Nick have gotten anywhere at the lab and maybe see if they can help us process the hotel room, that's too much square footage for just the two of us to handle unless we both want a bunch of overtime." Catherine couldn't help but grin at her partner who was much less likely to max out on overtime. These days she actually had better things to do than work.

Catherine had gotten Brass to send a couple of uniforms over to keep anyone from entering the victim's suite after that she decided to get just a bit more information from the desk clerk. With little coaxing he gave her the room number of Jillian Martin, the overly amorous Callisto and she discovered that though she had rented the pool side cabana for the day Carissa Martin did not, in fact, have a hotel suite registered in her name. That taken care of Catherine called the lab to find out if anyone else was available to help process the victim's rooms.

Nick and Warrick had, for the time being, finished up at the lab, the evidence they had found had been given to the Trace and DNA labs and now they were free to head back to the hotel. Along the way they had picked up Greg who had just finished up a B and E he had been working on. Grissom was apparently losing much of his crew but it was a slow night and it sounded like they could use the extra set of hands to process the duplex. Catherine and Sara had gotten a head start so, hopefully, they could get this done in a reasonable amount of time.

As the boys entered the door to the suite they each had to take a moment to get oriented. This wasn't just a hotel room; this was bigger than any of their apartments, and much more opulently decorated. "Damn, our vic must have had some serious money, these rooms are like thousands a night." Greg couldn't quite keep himself from commenting.

At his comment Catherine and Sara came into the main entrance way. "Yes they do, the good news is that means fewer people stay in them and they are cleaner than your average suite so we aren't dealing with thousands of prints, the bad news is we have some serious area to cover. Greg you take the upstairs bathroom and office. Warrick you take the kitchen and dinning area. Nick you take the downstairs bath and living room. Sara you take the downstairs office and I'll take the master bedroom. When we're done there we'll get the other bedrooms. We're looking for anything that links our victim with anyone else in town, things with phone numbers, business cards. We need to find out who else here knew her well enough to kill her." Now that everyone had their marching orders they quickly fell out to their respective rooms.

Calling the room Sara entered an office really was an understatement. It was huge. One wall was all windows offering an amazing view of the strip; the furniture was all polished dark wood, the floor lush soft carpet. Sara made her way over to the desk looking for a date book, notes by the phone anything that would give her a direction to go in. As she looked at the surface of the desk she spotted some discoloration on the corner, there was a smudge of green, possibly paint, like a small spill. In the corner of the spill she found a partial print, it wasn't much just a tiny portion. Sara snapped a photo of it and lifted the print then efficiently took a sample. It wasn't a name but it was something.

Greg began looking through the bathroom just off the master bedroom. It was enormous. It had a round, jetted marble tub, an enclosed glass shower, two vanities, and amazing lighting. As he took a closer look at first he didn't notice anything out of place there were toiletries, hair brush, two toothbrushes; that's when he noticed there was two of most things in the bathroom. Marsha had been sharing this room, which probably meant she had been sharing the adjoining bed room. They needed to find out who else had been sleeping here.

"Hey Catherine," Greg called out into the bedroom.


At her answer Greg made his way to the door adjoining the master bed and bath. "Marsha wasn't staying here alone; she was sharing the master bath. With the size of this place the only reason to share a space is if you want to. I'm going to bag up the toothbrushes to compare to the DNA we found at the scene."

"Sounds like a plan Greg, looks like I found her day planner," Catherine held up a small pocket pc she found on the bedside table, "maybe this will show us something."

"Alright, we've been through this place top to bottom, quick overview on what you found." Catherine wanted to be up to speed on all the evidence so they could get back to the lab and find out the results on what had been run so far. She also needed to check with the Doc on the autopsy results.

"I found something on the desk in the office, some sort of green smudge, paint maybe, there was a partial print in it and some blonde hairs that seem to be about the same length as the one we found on the victim." Sara felt she really hadn't turned up much.

"Did you say a green smudge on the desk, 'cause we found a green substance on the sword at the crime scene. Nick already handed it off to trace," with that Warrick filled Catherine in on what he found, "not much in the kitchen and dining areas, looks like our vic either ordered room service or ate out, it doesn't look like it's been used."

"She probably hasn't been in here much, just at night to sleep and in the morning to get ready. Cons take up most of the day, events are planned from nine in the morning and there are usually evening events or bars to go to. I'm not surprised she didn't eat here much."

It was Greg's turn to throw in his two cents, "Our vic was definitely using the room for something, she wasn't staying here alone. There were pairs of most things in the master bath."

"And she definitely wasn't in that bed alone; there was plenty on those sheets. No swimmers though it was all girl on girl action. I also found her pocket pc so if she had any dates they should be in here." Catherine decided it was time to wrap up the overview and get back to the lab. "Anything else interesting?"

"Not really, I didn't find much the only folks staying here were in your room Boss," Nick hadn't found anything of interest and he wanted to get back to the evidence they did have.

"So let's head back and put this stuff together." With that the crew headed for the door with Catherine and Sara bringing up the rear.

"Girl on girl action?" Sara couldn't help but smirk at her lover.

"What?" Catherine feigned innocence.

The five CSIs caravanned into the parking garage, quickly unloading their evidence and kits with practiced ease. Sara and Warrick headed off to Trace to drop of the sample of green paint and find out if it matched what they found at the scene. Greg and Nick went to DNA to give Mia the samples from the bathroom to compare to the DNA they found in the cabana. Catherine went with them to drop off the samples from the sheets and then continued on to visit with the Doc and find out the results of the autopsy.

She entered the morgue to find Doc Robbins quickly hiding his "secret" espresso machine. "Taking a coffee break Doc?" Catherine smiled at the older man, letting him know she knew his secret.

"You know I don't want word of this too get out, right?"

"Don't worry, you know I would never rat you out. Your secret is completely safe with me. With that established do you have any results for me?"

"Time of death was only about two hours before she was found, probably between four and five this evening and I'm sure you figured out the cause of death. Nothing like slicing open the chest cavity to cause someone to bleed out. There were no defensive wounds on her arms or hands, for Xena she didn't put up much of a fight. From the shape of the wound in her chest it would seem the weapon was thrust upwards hard enough to crack the sternum and puncture the pericardium. There was some serious force behind the blow, whoever did this meant to kill and kill quickly no doubt about it."

"I'm surprised there were no defensive wounds, the cabana looked like there had been some sort of a struggle, things broken, curtain pulled down, strange. Any evidence of sexual assault?" Catherine wanted to rule out rape since they found evidence of sexual activity at the scene.

"No, she had sex within an hour before she was killed but there is no evidence of bruising and all evidence indicates her partner was female. I took swabs and sent them up to DNA for you." Doc finished summing up his findings in his usual matter of fact way.

"Thanks Doc, nothing too surprising. Now we just have to find out who all this evidence points toward." Catherine turned, preparing to leave when Doc asked her a question.

"Have you taken a look at the murder weapon?" Doc Robbins often asked questions that would seem out of the purview of a coroner but he usually offered very valuable insight as well.

"Not yet, did you notice anything interesting?" Catherine was curious.

"It didn't look like a simple prop. There are plenty of replicas of the chakram out there but this one was unique, strong and sharp like I imagined the real thing would be. It was stuck in the sternum it took both David and I to pull it out. It was left in after she was transported because they thought we may have to cut it out."

"Thanks Doc." Catherine filed this information away as she left the morgue, so it would seem we had some specially made killing toys as well as costumes.

As Catherine was walking back up to the labs she was met by Sara in the hall. "I figured I'd catch you on your way back. We found out some things you might be interested in."

"So spill," Catherine was ready to get into the meat of this case.

"First, I did a quick internet search on our victim and it would seem Google liked her, it turns out she owns her own advertising agency in L.A. She started out as a graphic designer, built the company from the ground up, now she does spots for major companies, turns out she's a self-made millionaire. She definitely had no trouble affording that suite. She's also a bit of a mini celebrity in the L.A. gay community; she's been quite the crusader for marriage rights in California. She went through a rather public break up a few years ago, her partner sued her for palimony and I guess it got pretty ugly." Sara wasn't sure what had compelled her to look into the past of their victim when her murder seemed very connected to the convention here in Vegas, but knowing more never seemed like a bad idea.

"As for the actual evidence, the DNA we found all came from the same donors. One, of course, being our vic, the other an unknown female. The DNA from the hotel room and the cabana all matches, hairs and vaginal contributions, Marsha and her girlfriend were definitely busy and it seems only with each other."

"We didn't find anyone else's DNA at that scene or the hotel room?" Catherine's voice conveyed her incredulity at this.

"Nope, Mia checked the samples from the sheets and it looks like if you want clean hotel sheets pay the big money. The hairs found at the scene matched the blonde hairs found in the hotel room so it's no surprise those match. It's not everyday we get such clear results." Sara understood Catherine's disbelief over the continuity of the evidence, it was a rare day things seemed so straight forward, the truth was that usually meant things were more complicated.

"So it would appear Marsha was monogamous at least. Did we find out anything about our green stuff? Did your print turn up anything? Did it match the prints off of the murder weapon?"

"The green stuff appears to be very high end theatrical body paint. We managed not only to pick up a partial from the desk but when we looked more closely at the sword it seems there was another partial in the paint on the sword. It was only a small bit but we may be able to pair it with the partial from the desk. It would seem the sword was on the desk when the paint got spilled. As for the prints on the murder weapon most of them belonged to our victim. There were a couple that matched some of the prints we lifted from the hotel room, so I'm guessing the girlfriend. The murder weapon itself is pretty interesting, it's not the same make up as your usual prop, it's a much harder metal that could actually stand up to sharpening, like a knife. Props are usually dull on the edges, this wasn't, it was deadly sharp. Whoever used it had acquainted themselves with it, the outside edge was sharpened all the way around, when you hold it your grip has to be on the inside of the circle. It would take some practice to handle it without cutting your hand and the only blood on it belonged to our victim. Warrick is working on putting together the partials to see if they match any of the prints we already have. We're still waiting to see if AFIS comes up with anything on our clear prints from the chakram and the hotel room," Sara summed up everything she knew up to now.

"Did we turn up anything interesting on the metal links we found in the victim's hand?"

"Trace confirmed what we originally thought, they are lightweight aluminum, like the stuff used to make inexpensive jewelry, or costume chain mail if you don't want it to be too heavy to wear comfortably. So I'm guessing a bit of costume."

"So it looks like the only thing we really have left to look at is her pocket pc. You want to head over to the AV lab with me. I'm going to have Archie transfer the information off of this so we can see what Xena was up to," even now that Catherine knew the victim's name she just couldn't seem to shake the notion that Marsha would have preferred to be remembered as Xena.

"Sounds like a plan, boss," Sara couldn't help throwing a little teasing into their conversation, "lead the way."

Catherine smiled at her lover taking the brief moment to appreciate how lucky she was to get this side of Sara. To most the simple teasing wouldn't seem like such a difficult thing but Catherine knew how long it had taken Sara to truly be willing to be open and show all the sides of her personality. Catherine felt privileged to be the one person Sara shared everything with. As they walked down the hall to pick up the computer and take it to Archie, Catherine couldn't help but watch her partner and wonder what Sara was thinking as she watched extremely subtle changes of expression play across her face.

Sara was lost in thought. There was something about this case that was perplexing her. Maybe it was the fact that there was a part of her that kept associating the victim with the character Marsha had obviously identified so strongly with, right down to the blonde girlfriend. Sara was surprised by the fact that almost all of the evidence they had collected was either linked to Marsha or her lover. The killer always left some part of themselves at the scene, it was inevitable, but it just didn't seem like anyone else was there. That of course meant 'Xena' was murdered by her 'Gabrielle' and Sara just couldn't wrap her brain around that yet. Maybe she just needed to stop associating these people with the show. Time to make sure she was firmly set in reality, maybe Grissom sending her to work on this case wasn't such a good idea. Sara couldn't help but let a tiny self-deprecating grin sneak onto her lips.

"What are you thinking?" Catherine's voice held just the ghost of her own smile as she watched her lover think as they walked, winding well memorized paths through the labyrinth of corridors.

"Just trying to clear my head, I know it's soon but I'm just not getting a good feeling from the evidence we have so far. So far everything we have is pointing toward Marsha and her lover being the only ones at the scene and that only means one thing. It's just not sitting right and I'm just making sure I'm not living in a fiction is all." Sara again smiled at her love hoping the other woman would understand something she still couldn't quite explain with her usual articulateness.

"Don't worry babe, of everyone I know, even Gil, you will always follow the evidence, both physical and emotional. You'll get to the right answer; just don't think so much yet." Catherine couldn't hold back her grin at her last suggestion knowing it was virtually impossible for Sara to shut down her genius brain completely, except in very specific situations which Catherine was more than happy to facilitate on a regular basis.

They paused for a moment as Catherine ducked in to retrieve the pocket computer from the evidence locker where they had checked it in upon returning form the hotel. Within a minute she had rejoined Sara in the hall and the younger woman picked up the thread of their previous conversation. She knew as well as Catherine that there was really only one thing that kept her from thinking too much.

"Yeah, sure no problem," Sara grinned, "unless you plan on heading to the locker room with me for some distraction you know that's not going to happen." She just couldn't resist a little flirting and was rewarded with an intense blush from her partner.

"You really are just a little bit evil aren't you," with that a mischievous look found its way into Catherine's eyes as she took a step in front of Sara stopping them both. "If you meet me there at the end of shift tonight, when we don't have anything to think about but each other, I'll give you far more than some distraction." By the end of the sentence her voice had dropped almost dangerously low and the blush that she had felt paled in comparison to the one now on Sara's cheeks. It was amazing to both women that in the middle of a murder investigation, in the middle of the hall, in the middle of the lab everything could drop into just background noise in a moment.

Sara could say nothing, her higher brain functions had momentarily frozen at the idea of meeting Catherine in the locker room after shift. She knew she'd never get used to being on the receiving end of Catherine's passion. It was all she could do to keep from dragging them both off to a dark corner when Catherine sounded like that. It took her a solid minute to get her voice back in working order. "And you say I'm evil." Sara decided to offer one last parting shot before they had to remember where they were and what they were supposed to be doing, she bent just a little toward Catherine and whispered in her ear, "work now, but don't worry before we make it home I will be lost in you." With that Sara stood back up and sidestepped around a now gaping Catherine and continued down the hall. Catherine had to collect herself and try not to make good on her promises before the shift was done. As she watched Sara walk away she was hard pressed to get back to work, the only thing that let her shift gears was the knowledge that Sara would still be there when the case was done.

As they turned the corner and entered the AV lab Catherine's thoughts were put back on the track of the case as she handed Archie the computer and asked him to retrieve the files from it.

"Ooh, this is a nice little unit, you can keep everything in here; pictures, e-books, your entire address book, appointments, alarms, documents. This one is top of the line. It shouldn't take me more than a few minutes to download the info off of it. Feel free to hang." Archie quickly set to work hooking up the pocket pc to his bank of computers.

Sara couldn't help but grin at his enthusiasm over the gadget. She could relate to his techno-geek excitement. That was one of the reasons Sara loved being a CSI; the lab was one place geekyness was valued; it was, in fact, an asset to the job. Sara liked being able to come to work everyday in a place that truly ran better because of the aspects of her intellect that had caused her no end of trouble in her earlier life.

As they waited for Archie to work his magic Sara began running over all the information that they had so far in her head. She was concerned about the lack of evidence of anyone other than their Xena's lover, the violence with which Marsha had been killed definitely indicated a crime of passion but something just wasn't sitting right in Sara's head. She couldn't stop thinking she was missing something, like all the answers were just out of her grasp. Maybe her focus was off; maybe she just needed some last bit of information.

Catherine was feeling less contemplative than her partner she wanted a direction to go in sooner rather than later. "So Archie, finding anything interesting?"

"She had a serious addiction to Xena fan fiction I can tell you that much, especially uber fiction. She had a big chunk of memory dedicated to e-books," Archie said this as though Catherine would have some clue as to what he was talking about.

Sara could see the look of confusion crossing her lover's face and decided to field this one, "Uber fiction is a specific genre of fan fiction," the look of confusion didn't seem to be getting any better, "fans of a show who feel so inclined write stories using the characters from that show and sometimes that isn't quite enough so they create original characters based on the defining aspects of the lead characters. In the case of Xena there are many stories out there about tall, dark haired, brooding women who fall for shorter blonde women with personality to spare." Sara couldn't help but smile as she said this out loud. She had to admit it was kind of ironic really.

"Is that so," Catherine smiled back at her dark haired lover, "maybe I'll have to check some of that out."

Archie was oblivious to the broader meaning of the conversation happening around him he was too absorbed in what he was retrieving from the pc. "Hey, ladies this might be of help on your case," he indicated the images that were now playing across one of the larger monitors. He had downloaded a series of photographs of the victim in her daily clothes on the beach. They were candid shots of her playing with her dog in the surf, walking along the sand, and then there was one of two smiling sun kissed faces obviously taken by holding the camera in one hand as far away as possible to fit both women in the frame.

"Hey wait, I know who that is," Sara suddenly remembered where she had seen that face before, "that's the Gabrielle that slapped Callisto. I think we may have found the girlfriend."

"Have you talked to her?" Catherine was curious to know how quickly they would be able to find her.

"No, I just saw her walking away from Jillian Martin after she slapped her. There was definitely something going on between the two of them but I didn't get close enough to hear what they were fighting about," Sara was now very interested in the interaction she had seen earlier.

"Well, then I guess we should find out who our little blonde sidekick is then shouldn't we," Catherine was thrilled to have found someone linked to their victim.

Just as she spoke the phone on her hip chirped to life. Catherine unclipped it and answered, "Willows."

*Catherine, it's Brass. I have someone here you may want to speak to. She says her name is Carissa Martin*

"Is she by any chance blonde, blue-green eyes –"

*and wearing a rather revealing costume?*

"Yeah, sounds like our victim's girlfriend has turned up on her own."

*I've got her in an interview room, she seems pretty upset but I haven't been able to get her to talk about anything, I haven't told her anything about the case. Do you want me to break the news to her?*

"No thanks Jim, I'd like to see her reaction. So far the only person we can place at the scene other than our victim is her so keep her around; we have quite a few questions for her. Sara and I will be right there." Catherine hung up her phone and motioned for Sara to follow her. They were headed over to talk to their prime suspect.

Catherine and Sara met up with Brass outside one of the more informal interview areas in the station. When first getting a feel for someone's role in a crime it was best not to tip too much of your hand and the rooms with windows and comfortable couches tended to let people feel more relaxed and less like suspects. At this point that's exactly what they wanted. The two CSIs could see the petite blonde sitting in one of chairs; she seemed distracted, upset about something. Her hands were clasped in front of her and she was rocking slightly and her eyes looked as though she'd been crying for a while.

Brass opened the door allowing Catherine and Sara to enter first. He figured that for the time being he was better window dressing than doing the questioning. He wanted the CSIs to get as much as they could before the lawyers were brought in. Often once the cop started asking the questions even the most innocent started calling their attorneys.

"Hello, I'm Catherine Willows and this is Sara Sidle, we're with the crime lab. Could we ask you a couple of questions?" Catherine wasn't really sure what to expect from this woman yet. At the sound of her voice Carissa looked up at Catherine for the first time, the only way Catherine could think to describe the look in the other woman's eyes was lost.

"She's dead . . . isn't she?" The young woman's voice sounded flat.

"Do you mean Marsha Tompkins?" Sara asked the question, keeping her voice gentle.

"Yeah," the flatness was gone now replaced by the strangled sound of unshed tears.

"Why did you think she was dead?" This time Catherine spoke.

"I just knew, earlier today it was like . . . I can't explain it. You wouldn't understand anyway. I knew something was wrong, I went back to our room and it was sealed off with tape and a cop was standing guard. Let's just say it was a good guess." Carissa sounded so resigned, so empty, neither Catherine nor Sara knew what to make of her.

"We don't really have any answers for you yet. We are still in the early stages of our investigation. Do you think you could help us? Maybe give us more information about the nature of your relationship, anyone who might have had an issue with Marsha." Sara wanted to draw the young woman out, try and get her talking. If she managed that there was a good chance they'd get the answers to at least a few of their questions.

Carissa let out a derisive sound. "The nature of our relationship, huh. We were lovers, we were everything," her voice began to fade. "She was everything." Carissa slumped forward putting her face in her hands, her shoulders shaking with silent sobs.

Sara knelt down next to her speaking quietly, "I know how difficult this must be for you, but any information you can give us will help."

Carissa shuddered at the sound of Sara's voice, she drew in a few shaking breaths trying to bring herself back under control. "No one was after Marsha; she was well liked, respected."

"Could there have been anything going on you didn't know about?"

"No," she sounded so certain; there was no explanation, nothing, just that simple answer. Sara couldn't even follow up with an 'are you sure'; it was fairly obvious this woman knew.

"Earlier this evening, I saw you with Jillian Martin, you two seemed to be having a disagreement." Sara left her comment open for Carissa to fill in the blanks.

"What you saw was just one more minor drama in a long history. Jillian is my ex, she was my first girlfriend and we were together for a long time. She thought we would be together forever, I was young and I let her take the lead. She even convinced me to change our last names; she thought it added validity to our relationship. We broke up five years ago; she still hasn't really resigned herself to that fact. I had hoped she would eventually move on. I hadn't seen her in eight months, until today, I guess she hasn't. Look Jillian is really the last person I want to be thinking about right now. Since you all knew Marsha was. . . do you have her – body, I should take care of things."

"We can't release the body yet, we are still conducting our investigation. Anything you can tell us would help us find the killer." Sara wanted to keep Carissa talking.

"Look, I don't know what to tell you. I rented us a pool side cabana so we could have some private time, we made love, I left, and the next thing I know she's dead. I've just lost more than you could possibly grasp and I've got nothing for you, I've got no information." As she spoke Carissa's voice and demeanor became more and more agitated until she finally stood up and bolted from the room.

For the first time since they all entered Brass spoke, "Do you want me to go after her?"

"No need, she doesn't seem to be going far," Sara gestured toward the window that looked out into the hall where Carissa was now sitting on the floor her back to the wall her head in her hands. Even from the other room it was easy to see her shoulders shaking as she cried. "Let me go see if I can bring her back in," Sara said this as she was already half way out the door.

Sara took a few long strides and knelt down in front of the sobbing woman, she kept her voice low and gentle as she spoke, "I know how difficult this must be for you Carissa, I can't imagine what this must feel like for you but the more you help us the better we can do our jobs. Things that seem so insignificant can make all the difference."

As Sara spoke Carissa lifted her head wiping away tears. "Do you believe in soul mates Ms. Sidle?"

The question caught Sara off guard, she hadn't been expecting this woman to ask her anything really, but she also knew she would answer honestly. Something in Carissa's eyes made Sara feel like she owed her the honest answer. "Yes, I do. I didn't for a long time, but then something happened and I had no choice but to believe." Sara tried to resist but she couldn't keep herself from throwing a quick glance over her shoulder to see Catherine talking to Brass in the interview room.

"Then you probably have some idea of how I feel right now. There is nothing, nothing that can make this okay. You can finish your investigation or not, you can find the killer or not, my life is lying on a slab in the morgue and there's nothing I can do to bring her back. There will be no magic, no godly intervention, no ambrosia to save me and you want me to tell you details about what we have done for the last few days. I don't know what you think I can give you."

Sara was stunned, she wanted to be able to explain to this woman how the truth would bring her closure, how finding the killer was important for her sense of peace, she wanted to be able to tell her a lot of things that she now realized were essentially meaningless. Sara knew, deep in her heart, that this woman's sense of peace was shattered and she was not going to be the one that helped her fix it. For all of Sara's analytical nature she was well aware of what she would be like if she ever lost Catherine, and she knew in her heart everything Carissa just said was true. That being the case, Sara still had a job to do and she believed that, whether this woman believed it or not, Carissa would be better off if they found the killer.

"I know you don't think anything will help you, but it will be better if we solve this, not today, not even tomorrow, but someday it will be important. And you are the only person we have found with any connection to Marsha, you are the only person here who might know who would do this." Sara knew it went against the evidence to assume this woman hadn't killed her, but she knew in her gut there was no way Carissa had killed Marsha. "Come back into the interview room with me and we can try and figure out what happened. There are more questions than answers right now and we want to solve this."

Carissa reluctantly stood and followed Sara back to the interview room. Sara felt like it was possible the only reason Carissa followed her was because she had nowhere else to go. When they entered Catherine gave Sara a bit of a questioning look, the kind of look that said she wanted to know what had gone on out in that hallway. Sara returned her gaze with an answering look that didn't give Catherine any answers but left her feeling slightly warmed from the inside out.

Carissa sat back in the chair she had recently vacated and appeared to just be waiting. Catherine decided to start back in with the questions she had swimming around in her head. "You said that Marsha was liked and respected back in L.A., does the same hold true in the convention arena? We were able to gather that she attended many of these."

"Yes, she designed her own costumes and helped many others with theirs, she was really talented. She even did the reproduction of the dragon tattoo on my back. I thought it was a bad omen to dress as Gabrielle from the series finale, considering what happened, but Marsha was so excited about doing the tattoo I agreed; I guess in the end I was right."

"Would you mind letting me have a look?" Catherine suddenly felt a piece of the puzzle slip into place.

Carissa stood and turned revealing the intricate Japanese dragon covering most of her back. "May I take a sample of the paint on your skin? I won't need much and I'll be careful not to ruin the design." Catherine wanted to match this paint with their spill.

"Sure, and take as much as you want, it really doesn't matter now," Both Catherine and Sara exchanged another glance at the empty dead tone in Carissa's voice.

"Are you absolutely certain no one held any kind of grudge against Marsha, something as simple as resenting her for winning the costume competition, anything at all," Sara was determined that they needed to expand their search in order to find the killer.

"No one had ever indicated anything like that, the worst relationship she had in her life was with her ex, but they had long since worked through their issues. We hadn't even heard from her in two years, she moved out east and that was it. We had more problems with my ex, Jillian."

"You mentioned that before, what sort of problems did you have?" Catherine knew they didn't have the evidence to point them in another direction but it never hurt to find out all the details.

"Jillian couldn't let go, she was convinced we'd get back together and then when I moved in with Marsha she freaked out, showed up on our doorstep and demanded that I explain to her what the hell I was doing with another woman, she told me no one could make me as happy as she had, typical crazy ex stuff. Marsha finally convinced her to leave; it took some not so gentle persuasion. But that mess was years ago now. It's never a good time when I run into Jillian but it's not violent and she's never threatened either of us. I really wish I had some simple answer for you, could point my finger and say that person did it but I really have no idea."

"Can you tell us where you were this afternoon between four and five?" Catherine had to ask the question.

"I was in our room resting. I wasn't interested in the evening presenter so I decided to take a nap before we went out for the night. I woke up with a terrible feeling in my stomach, like something awful had happened and I couldn't shake it off or fall back to sleep so I tried to walk it off in the sunshine, why do you actually think I did this, is that what you are asking me?" Carissa's tone went from empty to righteous anger in a matter of seconds.

"We-," Catherine started to speak but was immediately cut off by Sara.

"No, we don't think you did this, we just need to establish a time line, try and figure out a series of events. Can you tell us what happened the last time you were with Marsha, the last time you saw her?" As she was speaking Catherine was looking at Sara in mild astonishment, a questioning eyebrow raised.

"I had rented one of the poolside cabanas for us for the day, the speakers today were, with a couple of exceptions, ones we felt like we could miss if we chose so I thought some private time would be nice. We spent the afternoon together, we had lunch, we made love, we talked, we did couple things. I decided to head back to the room; I kissed her and went for my nap that was around three thirty."

"Thank you Carissa, there are just a couple of other things we need, if you wouldn't mind we need to take a sample of your DNA and get your fingerprints so we can compare them to what we found at the scene and in your hotel room. This will help us exclude you." Sara knew she would have hell pay with Catherine as soon as this was done but she also knew she was doing the right thing.

Carissa agreed to give her DNA and her fingerprints and Sara took the sample and sent her off with Brass to have her fingerprints taken. As soon as Carissa and Brass had left the room Catherine unleashed herself on Sara. "What the hell was that all about, Sara?"

"We tell suspects every day we are getting their information for exclusionary purposes Catherine." Sara stated simply, prepared to defend her actions.

"Yes, but in this case you really believe it. We have no evidence of anyone else coming within twenty feet of these women in the last few days and you are ready to let her walk out of here. What did she say to you out there?" Catherine was pissed. She rarely got in Sara's face about cases anymore, their animosity had long since been discovered for what it really was and the pent up energy was much better spent. But right now she was pretty convinced that her partner had taken off somewhere and was taking this case with her.

"I know what the evidence says, and I know the evidence never lies but sometimes it fails to tell the whole story, we both know how hard that can be Cath," Sara's tone carried more weight than the simple words, their relationship had nearly been torn apart when the evidence in Eddie's murder had not been enough to tell the story.

"I do know that but right now you are making up a story the evidence isn't even hinting at. And you didn't answer my question. What did she say to you?"

"It's not what she said Catherine," Sara didn't know why but she couldn't quite admit to Catherine what she had so easily admitted to a stranger in the hallway of the police station, "it's just a feeling. She didn't do this, she couldn't have."

Something in Sara's tone made Catherine reconsider her anger, she knew her lover better than anyone and she could tell Sara meant what she said with her whole heart. Catherine made the choice in that moment to put her anger away, for the time being, and instead just trust Sara. Catherine took a deep breath and started to speak, "I know you Sara, and I believe you wouldn't be saying that if there wasn't a reason, so I'm trusting you to remain true to this case and what the evidence ultimately turns up. I know you will follow this wherever it leads. Am I right?"

"Thank you, I appreciate that you believe in me, and yes you are right to do so. I won't let you down. We will find the answers, whatever they are."

Part 2

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