DISCLAIMER: I don't own them, I never will. Proper rights go to Bruckheimer and gang. Sue me you will not, nothing I have.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Amy Jo

Part 1

I go through the same routine at the end of every shift. I say a short goodbye to Grissom and the guys, then off to Sara's favorite lab. She's always working in this lab after shift, even when she's maxed on overtime. About once a week I offer her a break and ask her to come to breakfast with me.

"Sara?" I ask entering the lab.

Sara is leaning across the table, intently staring at something miniscule on the surface. She's too involved in her work to hear me, and as I watch her I can hear the soft singing that she only does when she's really involved in her work. I complimented her on it once and she turned bright red and stammered out a thank you. I think she gets embarrassed easily about this habit and now when I hear her I simply listen for a minute before clearing my throat or knocking on the lab door so that she knows I'm there.

Sara has no idea that I'm watching, and listening to her, and for a moment I let myself take in the sight. She's barely touching the floor, the tips of her toes pushing her up and across the table in front of her. The jeans are worn and faded, a pair I've seen her wear often. Her tank top has slipped out of her jeans, revealing a small patch of tanned skin on her lower back. The fabric is pulled tight across her the muscles of her upper back and her shoulder blades stick out sharply.

Sara continues her soft singing, still unaware that I have entered the room. I step a little closer to the table and clear my throat a little louder, announcing my presence. Sara's head snaps up alarmingly fast and she immediately looks in my direction as she pushes off the table and onto her feet. A blush creeps over her face and I can see her hands gripping the edge of the table with enough force to turn her knuckles white.

"Sara, you okay?" I glance down the table and see about a half-dozen rolls of duct tape and just as many different cutting tools. I don't see anything incriminating on the table and it takes me a second to realize that Sara's embarrassment was because I caught her singing again.

"Huh? Oh yeah. Fine." Sara replies quickly, immediately returning her gaze to the work in front of her.

"So," I say, leaning against the edge of the table next to her. "How about some breakfast?"

"Nah. I've got work." Her voice is quiet and deeper than usual.

"C'mon. We'll go down to IHOP and have some pancakes and coffee." Normally after she says no once, I leave her to her work and continue with my routine. I should be halfway to the locker room by now, but instead I'm still standing next to her.

A smile plays at the corner of her lips. "Thanks anyway Cath, I think I'll just finish up here."

A thought nags at the back of my head, persistent but not quite willing to surface. I can feel that there is something I should know, and that now would be a good time to have this sudden insight. But try as I might, I can't figure it out right now.

"Okay. Don't say I never offered." I say to her before leaving the lab, still thinking that I should know something that I don't. It's an incredibly irritating feeling.

I continue about my routine, going to the locker room and changing from the boots I normally wear at work into shoes that are more suited for the rest of the day. The boots are comfortable enough, but I learned within my first week here that changing out of the boots I wear at work is one of life's simple pleasures. Not to mention that with my job you can get some downright disgusting things on your shoes.

Finally changed into something more comfortable I make way out of the lab for the night. That persistent, nagging thought is still there and try to think about something, anything else. If I don't try so hard to figure it out, the answer will come to me. I start my car for the drive home and the radio comes on. Though I wasn't paying attention to the song Sara was singing back at the lab, the radio station reminds me as it starts playing the same tune.

In Vegas there is never a time when traffic is light. The drive home, which in any other town would probably take a maximum of twenty minutes, takes me an hour this morning. I take the same path every day and after so many years I barely have to think about the drive to make it home.

Even though it's been an hour and I've heard many songs since I left the lab, I find myself humming the same tune Sara was singing as I push my key in my front door and step inside. I still don't know what the song was, but I've decided that I like it. Maybe tomorrow I can find a way to ask her what the song was without letting her know that I was listening in.

At home I begin another routine. I usually start with breakfast, though sometimes work can kill my appetite and I sit down with just a glass of juice and the newspaper. If I eat, the next part of my routine is the dishes. Everyday I say a small thank you for whoever it was that invented the dishwasher.

While the dishes run I gather up laundry and start a load of that too. It's much easier to wash a small load of clothes every day than it is to do large loads two or three times a week. With my job I change clothes a lot, sometimes for practical purposes, sometimes simply to get away from reminders of the things I see every night. Lindsey has picked up my habit of changing clothes sometimes more than twice a day. She has her own reasons I'm sure, but whenever I ask all I manage to get from her is a look that clearly says 'duh'.

The only alteration to my routine is that occasionally I feel the immediate need to shower. Otherwise everyday is the same and once the laundry gets going I crawl into bed for a few hours of sleep. The alarm on my night table is set for 2:00 p.m. giving me plenty of time to be awake and alert when it's time to pick up Lindsey after school.

When Lindsey comes home all sense of routine is lost. Sometimes after school we go to the park, sometimes we go for ice cream, sometimes we just go home to watch movies or do homework together. Lindsey is actually smart enough that she doesn't need my help but I think she knows that I like to watch over her like this. While she gets her things together for her overnight stay with my sister I work on dinner. Depending on my mood, or sometimes hers, I will cook something or simply order out.

After Lindsey leaves with Nancy it's back to routine. Shower, change, and off to work. Time at work is much like time with Lindsey. Sometimes the cases seem routine, sometimes things get changed up.

Today Lindsey is going straight to a friend's house after school for a sleepover. Absently I wonder if kids even call them sleepovers anymore. I crawl into bed and don't bother with the alarm today. I want to sleep for as long as I can. For some reason the song that Sara was singing is still going through my head and as I drift off to sleep that nagging thought comes back. Right before I slip into the land of dreams I finally get the answer to what that thought was.

I'm attracted to Sara.

Part 2

The thought wakes me up immediately and sleep becomes elusive. Once the thought emerges, it won't go away and I can think of nothing else. Images of her flash across my mind, showing me all the things that I should have noticed before.

I see her as she was just this morning. She's standing on the tips of her toes leaning over the table, though I'm not sure why. She's tall enough that she can easily reach at least halfway across the table without even moving, much less leaning across the table on her tiptoes. But there she is, the stretch of her body causing her tank top to pull out of her jeans. The small patch of skin that is exposed is tan and beautiful, and I want nothing more than to reach out and touch her.

Last week. She walks in the break room and heads straight for the coffee machine. Greg had brewed one his favorite blends of coffee and Sara almost always steals a cup before he comes in to claim it. I watch as she puts sugar in her coffee; never artificial sweetener, always real sugar. She sits across the table from me and picks up a newspaper to read. The first sip of coffee burns her tongue, as it does every time.

A few months ago. We're outside a convenience store processing a shooting. She squats down on her heels to pick up a shell casing and her shirt rides up, giving me a glance at that patch of skin. Only this time I can also see a hint of the panties she's wearing. Dark in color, and I can see enough to know it is a thong.

Last year. Once again in the break room, I'm reading a medical text and she leans over my shoulder reading with me. She's snacking on an apple. I feel her breath in my ear when she leans closer to me, asking a question. She moves away from me and I feel the warmth of her presence linger for a moment before it fades.

Two years ago. Sara is walking down the hall at the end of shift. It was one of the few occasions when she left the lab almost immediately after shift; she's giving evidence in court on the Henderson stabbing. She has changed clothes in the locker room. Her hair is pinned up, a new blouse covered by a leather jacket to fight off the morning chill. Knee-length skirt exposing long, muscular, tanned calves.

I'm amazed that it took me this long to figure out that I'm attracted to her. There were definite signals long before today. All those little things I noticed about her but never acknowledged as anything more than friendly interest. I give up on sleep, knowing that it will be a while before my thoughts slow down enough to let me drift off. And with the things I'm thinking about sleep might not be the best idea anyway.

The rest of my day is spent doing other menial tasks around the house. I leave for work early, planning on getting some paperwork done or really anything to stop my thoughts from returning to Sara. For probably the first time in my career I'm in my office before Gil even shows up at the lab. The stack of paperwork on my desk has shrunk in half by the time shift really starts and I head to the break room to catch an assignment from Gil.

Once in the break room I grab a bottle of water from the fridge and sit at the table, hoping to find a new magazine or the latest newspaper to read. Most of the magazines that sit around the lab are forensic magazines; I think it's Gil's way of trying to keep us working even when we're trying to relax for a few minutes. None of the magazines are new and the only newspaper in the room is two days old.

Warrick walks in the room and sits across from me just before I'm ready to give up and turn on the television while I wait.

"Hey Cath," he says as he sits. "How's Lindsey doing?"

"She's good. Doing all the things an eight-year should be doing. Sleepovers with friends, listening to that irritating pop music, trying to convince me to spend eighty bucks on a pair of jeans she'll grow out of in year. You know, all the things little girls do these days."

Warrick laughs at my description of Lindsey. "Eighty? Man that's a lot of bread."

"Tell me about it. She usually just pulls out all the stops on Eddie and guilt trips him into buying things like that for her. I think she knows it won't fly with me."

"She always was a smart girl," Warrick says just as Nick and Gil walk in the break room.

Nick goes almost immediately for the coffee and Gil shifts through the papers in his hands. I can see that he's debating over which cases to give to whom. Gil has these phases where he likes to have each of us work cases that are likely to makes us work with evidence or sciences that we're not usually the best at. That's how Warrick got so good at fingerprinting, and Sara so good at playing with the power tools in the garage.

But tonight it looks like there might be a lot of crime scenes and Grissom seems to be contemplating the how to split us all up so that we can do our best work but still cover most of the scenes. He looks indecisive so I stand up and grab the papers out of his hands.

"Nick, robbery. Warrick, missing persons. Gil you take the db in the desert. I'll take the suspicious circs." I hand each of them the assignment slips with the pertinent information.

Nick grins widely, probably happy to get his own case. Warrick glances between Gil and I, covering his mouth with his hand to suppress what I think are giggles. Probably about thirty seconds too late I stop to think that maybe I overstepped my boundaries.

"Uh, if that's okay with you, Gil?"

Gil stands silently for a second before just nodding his head slightly and leaving the break room.

"Smooth, Cath. Trying to get his job, or what?" Warrick grins, finally letting his laughter loose.

I reach over and smack him on the shoulder lightly, "No. It's just that he was going to stand there debating what cases to give you guys and I just want to get to work."

"Hey it's fine with me," Nick finally speaks up from his spot near the coffee machine. "I don't mind working a robbery by myself."

"Man you wouldn't mind working any case by yourself," Warrick says as he gets up from his chair and starts to head out the door. "You're just happy to work a case solo."

Warrick's good-natured tone is apparently lost on Nick, who looks wounded for a second before trotting down the hall after Warrick. I grab my bottle of water and take a look at the address on my assignment slip before heading out the door and on my way to the parking lot.

I've only moved about three feet when I collide with something. For a split second I wonder when they moved the walls around. Just seconds ago there wasn't a wall right there; and come to think of it, when did the walls around here get so cushioned?

A soft "oof" makes me realize that I unfortunately did not just walk into a wall, but rather a person. I think I would have been more comfortable if it was a wall. Sure I would have felt like an idiot, but had no one seen me than I wouldn't have to acknowledge it. But smacking full-body into another person, well, that just makes me feel like a jackass.

"God, I'm sorry," I say as I start to look up and apologize to the person I just ran into.

I feel warm hands at my elbows, keeping me steady on my feet before a pleasant voice responds, "You okay Cat?"

My skin burns where she's holding me, fire spreading both up and down my arms. I can feel my face flush with the heat of embarrassment as I look up at the smiling face of Sara.

Part 3

Her hands linger even though I'm steady now and I lose my train of thought as I stare at that adorable gap-toothed grin. Adorable? Since when did I start thinking that her smile was adorable? I feel a flush of embarrassment heat my face as she continues to look at me.

"Cat? You okay?" She asks again when I remain silent.

She still hasn't let go of my arms and I take a step back, forcing her to let go. "Yeah. I'm just fine."

"Okay," Sara draws the word out, clearly not believing me. "Have you seen Grissom?"

"He's probably already out on his way to a scene."

"Uh, okay. He didn't happen to leave a case here for me to work, did he?"

Shit. With all the thinking I've been doing about her lately, I really should have remembered that Sara was working tonight. "Actually he was being kind of slow about handing assignments so I did it for him."

Sara looks at me quizzically before laughing. "Allright. Well then, where should I head out to?"

"Uh. Well Nick's got a robbery. He seemed pretty happy to have his own case, though I'm sure you could work with him. Warrick's got a missing persons and Gil is out with a db in the desert. Pick and choose, I guess."

Sara thinks for a minute before saying anything. "And you?"

"Huh?" Boy I really do seem to be distracted tonight; I hope Sara doesn't notice.

"You. Your case. What have you got? If I get to choose the case I'm going to work I might need to know what you're working. Especially since you seem to be the only person left at the lab."

"Oh. Suspicious circs. Nothing all that interesting for me."

Please don't let her want to work with me tonight. Please. I'm not sure with all the things I've been thinking that it would be a good idea to work with her tonight. I need more time to get a handle on these new feelings before I can work with her.

"Well sounds better than anything else. I don't want to take one of Nick's only solo cases from him. Missing persons doesn't sound too interesting and I'm not in the mood to work with Grissom tonight. So, it looks like it's you. You ready to head out?"

I'm stuck on the part of her explanation where she says she doesn't want to work with Gil. I don't think I've ever heard her say that. Usually working with Gil is nothing if not challenging and I know that Sara likes working with him for that reason. And because, well everyone in the lab knows that there is something between Sara and Gil. No one is quite sure what it is, but everyone knows that it is there.

"Cat? Are you sure you're all right?"

"Oh, yeah. I think I'm just tired. Didn't get much sleep."

Not really wanting to talk about why I didn't get much sleep, I simply move around Sara and head to the parking lot. If nothing else, at least working with her tonight will help me figure out how to hide my attraction to her.

I think I hear her mutter something behind me, but I'm not sure I want to know what she said. My behavior has certainly been odd today, but I hope that my explanation of simple lack of sleep is good enough.

She catches up with me in the parking lot, and I toss her the keys. "You think you could drive?"

I don't know if I'm asking because I just don't want to drive, or if it because I don't want to be too distracted by close proximity with her. The last thing I need is to try to explain getting into a traffic accident on the way to a crime scene; I've been too unfocused since I ran into her.

A swift movement of her arms and she catches the keys with a simple nod of her head. She slides into the driver's seat of the truck and waits until I'm buckled in to ask, "Where to?"

I check the assignment slip I still have clutched in my hand. "2813 Silver Shadow Drive."

Sara pulls out the parking lot and almost immediately turns on the radio. Our drive across town is silent, with only the radio to provide any noise. I spent nearly the whole drive trying not to steal glances at her. Apparently I have no self-control. Sara likes to sing when she drives too. I can tell that she's trying not to, but I think her singing is just such an unconscious action that she can't control it.

I can't help but smile as I turn away and stare out the window. That singing is just too cute. Too cute? That's like saying her smile is adorable. Since when did I start thinking like this? Staring out the window and watching the streets go by as we drive distracts me for the beginning of the trip, until I realize that I can watch her if I focus my attention on the window itself and not the environment outside.

We pull up outside a rather nice two-story residence on Silver Shadow. There is a lone squad car sitting vigilant in the driveway and a uniformed officer leaning against the hood, apparently awaiting our arrival. Sara and I both grab our kits from the back of the Denali before walking up to the officer.

"Ladies," the officer says politely as he pushes himself away from the car. For a second I think he would probably tip his hat at us if he were wearing one.

"What's the situation?" Sara asks quickly. No pleasantries for her; right to business.

"Elderly woman up and disappeared. She doesn't have any relatives living in Vegas, but her son came from somewhere in the mid-west to take care of some legal matters. Those are the details I've got. For anything else, give Detective Secula a call. She's with the son right now at his hotel. The place is empty."

A glance at his uniform tells me his name is A. Cully. I can't exactly say why, but I try to remember the officers I work with on cases. Never really does me any good because most officers switch off the graveyard shift as soon as they can.

"Thanks Cully," I tell the officer. Sara looks more than anxious to get to work. She's nearly bouncing from one foot to the other waiting for me to walk up to the house with her.

"Andrew, ma'am."

I can tell he must be a rookie, because he's trying as hard as he can to be polite. Most of the officers I'm used to working with lose such pleasantries after about three months on the job.

"Well then, Andrew," I smile sweetly at him. I can't tell in the darkness of the night surrounding us, but I'm almost certain that Officer Cully is blushing. "You got a partner tonight?"

The question seems to throw him for a moment. "No, ma'am. On my own."

"First time by yourself?"

Sara shifts the kit to her other hand and nods her head toward the house, indicating that she is going to head up to the house.

"Yes, ma'am. Is it that obvious?" He ducks his head, and I know for certain that he is blushing now. I can't see it, but his sudden shyness gives it away.

"Only to someone who has been on the job a lot longer than you," I smile again in an attempt to reassure him. "So why is the Detective not here? We'll need to speak with both him and the son."

"She, ma'am." Cully corrects me. "And I'm not positive why they didn't stick around. But the son seemed pretty upset."

"Okay. Listen, if you want me to call you Andrew, you're definitely going to have to stop calling me ma'am. It's Catherine."

"Catherine," Cully nods his head.

"And that's Sara up there," I say pointing toward Sara, who is watching my interaction with Cully from the front porch of the house. "You might as well know her name too since you're going to be here with us for a while."

I don't bother to tell the kid that I won't be actually calling him Andrew. There are enough officers named John, Richard, and heck even Andrew, in Vegas to make my head spin. Last names are easier to associate with faces.

"Yes ma'am. Uh, I mean, Catherine," the kid quickly corrects himself. "You two need me up there with you, or do mind if I just hang out back here?"

"I think we'll be okay by ourselves. We'll holler if we need something from you."

I walk toward the house, noticing that Sara is still watching the interaction between Cully and I. For someone who was nearly itching to get to work I'm surprised at her behavior.

Part 4

Gil would probably have my head if he knew I let Cully hang back so far. He doesn't like people tromping through his crime scenes, but he also doesn't like us working strictly alone. He's made it clear on a few occasions that someone should be within earshot of us at all crime scenes.

I noticed that Sara was watching me as I talked with Cully but by the time I reach her she's got her kit open and seems ready to take a close look at the entrance. She is squatting next to her kit and I move to stand in front of her, hoping to get her attention.

"Perimeter or interior?" I ask her when she finally looks up at me. I'm not entirely sure what has happened, but when I look at her I can see a coolness in her eyes. She doesn't look angry, or upset really, just distant and cold. I guess I'm not the only one working tonight who is acting strange.

"You're the primary," Sara says, an icy undercurrent to her professional tone. "You decide."

"Uh. Right." I'm incredibly confused at her behavior; she was friendly and warm earlier but is now cool and reserved. "I'll take the interior, and you can join me after you've made a pass at the perimeter. From the outside this place looks big enough that it would take one of us way too much time to work the interior alone and I'd like to get done at a decent hour this morning."

I can't interpret the look that crosses Sara's face. Completely unreadable except for the fact that I know something is wrong. Part of me really wants to ask her what has changed since we left the lab. Part of me also knows better than to try to get Sara to open up about something; if something is really bothering her, she'll let me know.

Just a few steps inside the house and my mind switches from thoughts of Sara to thoughts of our case. The walls of the entryway are covered with pictures of, I assume, our missing lady and her family. On top of a small table by the door is a set of keys and what looks to be today's mail, addressed to a Mrs. Anna Nenadov. There's an open closet a few feet away from the door and inside are a few pairs of shoes and some jackets.

A cursory walk through of the first floor of the house shows no signs of struggle, and nothing looks out of place. Mrs. Nenadov was quite a clean person, probably a 'Type A' personality; everything in it's place and a place for every thing. Unfortunately for me, that makes it all the harder to figure out what happened here.

Sara is inside before I make it upstairs. I watch as she checks and sees the same things I did; the pictures, the keys, the mail, the overall cleanliness of the house.

"Do we know anything about this lady, her house, her family, anything?" Sara asks as she sets her kit down in the entrance hall.

"Nope. Without her son, or Detective Secula, here to fill in the details we've got nothing."

"Well that's a big help."

"Hey, I tried to tell you I didn't have an interesting case," I say to her with a smile. "I just didn't know how uninteresting it was."

For a brief moment Sara laughs and smiles at my attempt at humor. Wherever that cool behavior I sensed earlier came from, it seems to be gone now. That little fact makes me smile bigger.

"You been upstairs?" Sara asks as she cocks her head toward the stairs.

"Nope. Just got done with a walkthrough here. You were pretty quick outside."

"Couldn't find anything that looked disturbed or that didn't seem to belong. It seems like it will be the same inside."

"Looks that way."

Sara turns and heads upstairs. Without even thinking, I follow her. She's just a few steps ahead of me, but her height above me gives me a nice view of her jean clad legs. And I've got a nice view of some other things, but I'm trying not to admit to myself just how much I'm watching her.

We don't talk much, each of us trying to find some kind of evidence. The upstairs is just like the lower level. Everything seems to be where it belongs; nothing disturbed or out of place. It really seems like Mrs. Nenadov might have just walked out of her house and never come back.

Sara goes back downstairs, and this time I make sure not to follow her as close as I had on the way up. It's quite a bit easier to hide my not-so-subtle looks when she's ahead of me. There's a good chance that she can notice my awareness of her, that sixth-sense feeling that people get when they are being watched. I try not to think about that either.

The house is clean, and the garage still has her car in it. For our purposes, we've managed to spend a few hours and find nothing. Officer Cully is still leaning against his car when Sara and I return to the Denali to stow our kits.

Sara starts up the truck and I let Officer Cully know we're leaving. He hands me a business card Detective Secula had left with him and I climb in the truck after wishing him a good night.

I reach for my cell phone and call Detective Secula, who tells me that she is speaking with the son at his room at The Palms. I really want to ask her why she took the son back to his hotel room, but instead I keep the conversation short, just getting the hotel name and room number before hanging up.

Sara heads for the hotel and silence fills the truck. I want to say something, anything, but I'm not sure what to say. There's nothing about the case that I can ask, we simply don't have enough information yet to start tossing questions and theories around. I'm afraid to ask her something personal because we've simply never had that kind of friendship.

"So what was with the tape you were looking at this morning?" It's a lame attempt at conversation but I can't think of anything else to say.

"Testing tool marks for a case Grissom and I caught a few days ago. There's plenty of evidence to convict the perp, but we haven't been able to figure out what he cut the tape with. I've testing every cutting material we found at the scene, in the perp's car, his house, everything I can think of. I was just putting a little extra time into it, it bothers me not knowing what he used."

I'm not at all surprised that Sara uses some of her personal time to wrap up loose ends. She's a lot like Gil in that manner. She'd test everything she can think up until she comes up with the tool used.

"Well if we come up with nothing when get to The Palms, I'll see if I can't help you with that." Sara looks almost offended at my offer to help. Trying to be a little clearer about my intentions, I go on to explain, "Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes helps. You probably spent hours working on that last night."

"Yeah, I guess." Sara still sounds just a little reserved, but I decide it's probably best not to continue talking.

Part 5

Minutes later we pull up to The Palms. I grab my kit from the back of the truck and Sara and I head inside. Normally the silence between the two of us doesn't bother me all that much; and if I'm going to attempt to control my attraction to her, it shouldn't mean anything now. I find myself struggling not to fill the silence with meaningless conversation just so I can hear the sound of her voice.

A light knock on the door to Mr. Nenadov's room is answered by a young blonde woman, probably in her thirties. I'm not sure if this is Detective Secula or Mr. Nenadov's wife.

"Catherine Willows, crime lab. This is Sara Sidle. We're looking for Detective Secula and Mr. Nenadov."

"Detective Jennifer Secula, happy to meet you," the blonde says, sticking a hand out at Sara and then at me for a shake. "Well, maybe not happy given the circumstances, but I'm sure you know what I mean."

Secula heads back inside the room, leaving Sara and I to follow. The room is barely lived in, suitcases tossed near the door, a single jacket hanging on the closet rack. It doesn't seem like Mr. Nenadov has been here long.

There is a man sitting on a couch in what appears to be the living area of the room. He looks to be mid-40's with rapidly graying hair. I recognize him from one of the photos in the entrance hallway of Mrs. Nenadov's house. Next to him sits a young, early-20's brunette. Her head is tilted downward, like she's whispering something in his ear, and she's rubbing her hands up and down his back, offering comfort.

"Mr. Nenadov?" Both heads from the couch snap upwards, looking immediately in our direction. "Mr. Nenadov, I'm Catherine Willows and this is Sara Sidle. We're from the crime lab and we'd like to talk to you about your mother."

Mr. Nenadov looks confused. It takes him a minute to process his thoughts. "Actually it's James Nesbit. Mom remarried about five years ago."

"Sorry about that Mr. Nesbit," Sara says. She's been so quiet all night I almost forgot I was working with her. "When did you get in town?"

"Angie and I got here two days ago. We were supposed to meet with mom yesterday down at the Sunrise Café, but she never showed. We called, but mom never liked answering machines. And today I was supposed to pick her up and take her down to our attorney's office, but I. I. I couldn't find her."

He stumbles over the last few words, and buries his head in his hands again. I assume the woman sitting next to him is Angie, but I'm not sure. When she looks up, she catches the question in my eyes.

"I'm Angie Nesbit." She stays close to James, continuing to offer comfort. From the way he's breaking down it would seem his relationship with his mother was pretty close.

"Have you talked to anyone about filing out a missing persons report?" I ask as I set my kit down out of the way near a wall. Somewhere along the lines of communication this case went from being clearly a missing persons case to suspicious circumstances. It's probably something I should discuss with Gil if I see him at the lab later.

I expect the answer from James, but it's Angie that answers, "When we couldn't find Anna, we called the police. A squad car came out, followed by Detective Secula. We've said everything we know, but haven't filled out any paperwork or anything yet. James started feeling physically sick about what could have happened to his mother, and the detective agreed to let us finish talking here."

"I'm really sorry, but we're going to have to go over everything again," Sara tells Angie, a surprising amount of sympathy in her voice. I doubt anyone else in the room is surprised at the emotion in Sara's voice, but having worked with her for years it surprises me to hear the tone of her voice.

"We're also going to need a few things from you. Fingerprints, samples of DNA, that sort of thing," I tell the pair sitting on the couch.

James looks up, clearly confused, "Why would you need those?"

Again Sara speaks up, "It's only for elimination purposes. We need to be able to tell who was in your mother's house and where they where. It will help us learn what happened there."

James nods silently and Angie speaks for them, "Whatever you need. We'll cooperate in any way possible."

"Detective Secula?" I hear Sara say as I squat down to open my kit. No other words are said, but I watch as the detective and Sara move off toward the door to the room.

I can only hear hushed words and I can't help but wonder what Sara and the detective are speaking about. I know I have questions for the detective, but I wouldn't mind knowing what Sara is thinking right now. I move over to the couch and settle myself on my knees in front of James.

"Mr. Nesbit? I'm going to need to take a few samples now, okay? Shouldn't take but a few minutes."

The only response I get is a nod of his head, and so I take that as my cue to go ahead. I put my hand on his chin and raise his head. "Open up and say ah."

He doesn't really say 'ah' but he follows the instructions and I rub a swab across the inside of his cheek for a saliva sample. I smile at him, "Good. Now this next one might make you flinch. Sorry about that."

I reach up and pluck a few hairs from his head, placing them in a spindle. "Last one, but this one is going to take a while. I'm going to need your fingerprints."

Again, he nods mutely. Quietly he sticks his hands out and I try to be gentle rolling his fingers through the ink and onto the print cards. I have to tell him to try to relax a few times. It's incredibly hard to get fingerprints from someone who is tense, even if they don't realize they are making it difficult. He relaxes only a little when Angie returns her hand to his back and repeats the comforting rubbing that I've seen her do at least three times since we've been here.

"All finished. I'd suggest washing your hands right away. Sometimes that ink can be a real bitch to wash out." It's not the best attempt at humor, but he at least smiles weakly at me before moving off the couch and heading toward the bathroom.

Sara and the detective return shortly after Mr. Nesbit left the couch. He probably interrupted their conversation as he walked past them. I slide over on the floor and place myself in front of Angie.

"Your turn."

Without any further coaxing, Angie immediately opens her mouth for the swab. She even pulls out a few of her own hairs, explaining, "I think it'll hurt less if I do it."

"You're probably right about that." Again I find myself smiling. I'm not sure why I've been smiling all night. Maybe it's because I managed to catch a case that seems relatively non-violent so far. Sara and I haven't encountered anything to indicate that Mrs. Nenadov met an untimely violent death. And with suspicious circs you never really know what you're going to come across.

"Hands out," I say to Angie and I repeat the process of fingerprinting with her. Thankfully I only have to tell her once to relax before she lets her fingers go limp in my hands. I should get this woman to teach other people how to get their fingerprints taken. "Go wash up, or that stuff may stick for a while."

Sara and Detective Secula have been silent since they entered the room. I turn to look at them and see that unreadable expression on Sara's face briefly. In a flash the look is gone, and she has returned to work mode.

Part 6

Mr. Nesbit has returned to sit on the couch and Sara begins with her questions as I make sure the evidence is properly labeled and placed in the kit carefully.

"You got here two days ago?" James answers with a silent nod again. "What were you two doing the first day you were in town?"

"Uh. Eating, drinking and gambling. You know, tourist-type stuff."

"We were only supposed to be in town for two more days. We figured we'd do the tourist stuff on the first day and then get down to business," Angie says as she walks back in the room.

"And what business were you here for?" I ask looking at both of them, unsure of who will answer.

"Mom needed to sign some contracts. Angie and I felt it might be time for a vacation, and it seemed like a good idea to just come here and get some business done too. And mom was just thrilled that we were going to come out."

James seems to be handling things better, probably for the simple reason that the questions he is answering have already been asked. Recitation and repetition of facts occasionally has a calming effect on some people in these situations.

"What type of contracts?"

Again, I'm surprised to hear Angie respond. "Real estate. Anna still owned a house back home and she was signing it over to James. We had tried to get it signed over to Scott, but our attorney felt it would be best to have it signed over to James first and then James could sell it cheaply to Scott."

"And Scott is?" Sara asks.

"Sorry. Mom married Terry Nenadov about five years ago. Scott is his son."

James explains a little of the family history to us. Anna and Terry met back home, which is apparently somewhere in Missouri. They decided to retire in Vegas. Terry apparently died about a year and a half ago, leaving Scott's brother Jason the only real estate he owned. Anna and Scott became pretty close after Terry's death and she wanted Scott to have her old house.

"So why not just let Scott move into the property? Why all the hassle with attorneys?"

"Anna had rented the property to a couple of college kids, so Scott couldn't just move in. But if she transferred, or sold, the property to him it would be his choice on whether or not to extend the lease. He could either make some money on the property or move in."

Frankly the thinking behind their plans doesn't really make a lot of sense to me. Mrs. Nenadov could have simply not renewed the lease and let Scott move in at the end of the term. I glance at Sara and she doesn't look like she believes them either. Rather than give myself a minor migraine trying to figure out their logic, I move on to other questions.

"What time were you supposed to meet your mother today?"

"Seven. I was going to take her to breakfast first and then to a 9:00 a.m. appointment with our attorney. I was kind of worried when we didn't speak yesterday, but I figured maybe we were calling at the wrong times or something. I mean, I don't really know her schedule or what she does out here, so I just figured maybe she was out with friends or something."

"Do you know any of her friends here at all?"

"None. She didn't talk about her friends. Every time we talked on the phone she always wanted to know about Angie and I, or she asked about my son, sometimes she asked about Scott. But she never really talked about her life here in Vegas."

James is becoming more and more composed. The constant questions seem to help him focus on something other than grief. I find it fascinating how different people react in these situations. Some cry so much that you can't talk to them at all, some have detached themselves so much from what has happened that their answers become cold recitations of facts, some simply clam up and stop talking altogether.

"You have a son?" Sara asks. "Is he here with you?"

"Nah. Junior is in his early twenties now and we offered to bring him, but he said he would rather stay back at home."

That makes even less sense than their legal strategy. I can't imagine a kid in his early twenties wanting to stay home in middle America when he can live it up for a few days in Vegas. He would either have to be the most responsible son on the planet, or he's hiding something from his parents.

I look at Sara and realize that once again we both seem to be on the same wavelength. Her face doesn't show disbelief, but I can see it in her eyes. I can also see the gears working and I can tell she has come up with many, many more questions for the couple.

"Sara, can I speak to you for a second?"

Her eyebrow quirks up in confusion, but she nods her head toward the short hallway and starts walking.

"Yeah Cath?" Sara asks quietly once we're far enough away from everyone that our conversation won't be overheard.

"Well I was just thinking I could take this stuff to the lab and get a little bit of work done there. You've obviously got a lot of questions for these two, but I'd like to get Greg started on the DNA samples and maybe get Jacqui started on some fingerprint comparisons from the house."

"Uh. Okay. You know, it will probably be a lot easier to interview these folks down at the lab. Why don't we see if we can get them to come down with us?"

Truthfully I was hoping to use the drive to the lab and the work that needed to be done there as a way to distance myself from Sara. Luckily I had so far been able to keep pretty good control over my impulses while we were here. Being alone with her seems to be the only problem. I can work professionally when other people are around, but times like the drive over here and when we were alone at the house make it harder for me not to notice her.

"Right. It probably would be easier at the lab. We could take notes and keep track of who everyone in this mess is." I smile at her, more because I'm happy to be so close to her than anything else. Sara catches the humor in my voice and smiles back.

Before I can control it I smile wider at her. She looks at me for an extra second and I see the flicker of a thought as it flashes behind her eyes. She walks back into the living area of the room with that smile still on her face. I move to gather the kit and hear her explaining to the detective and the couple that we will be heading back to the lab.

"We would like you to come down to the lab tonight so that we can finish the questions there." I hear Sara say just as I stand and round the corner.

"Have we done something wrong?" James asks from his seat on the couch. Angie has already started to get up, seemingly to follow us.

"No, not at all. But there is paperwork that we'll need you to take care of, and honestly it will be easier at the lab." I say, moving closer to Sara. That smile still seems to be on her face and try as I might, I can't help but grin even bigger just from seeing her smile.

"Okay. I guess it's better to get this over with sooner rather than later." James seems suddenly tired.

"Mr. Nesbit, I know it's been a long day, but we really appreciate your coming down to the lab. You're right it's better to do this now, the memory can be a tricky thing and we want to get as much detail as we can."

The words are spoken by Detective Secula and I can barely suppress a little bit of shock that she has finally decided to speak. With the exception of speaking with Sara for a few minutes, she's been silent the entire time we've been here. Maybe she's just comparing notes with what they've said earlier, or maybe she's just the quiet type, but I'm surprised to hear her agree to having the Nesbits come down to the lab. After all, she was the one who let them leave the scene earlier and accompanied them back here instead of to the PD or the lab.

Kit in hand, I lead the way out of the room. Sara is quiet on the trip downstairs and through the lobby, but I can tell that there is definitely something on her mind and that she has a lot to say before we get back to the lab. Hopefully talking about the case will distract me just as talking with the Nesbits had.

Part 7

The kit goes in the back of the truck again and Sara is already buckled in with the engine turned over by the time I slide in the passenger seat. I notice that she has turned down the volume on the stereo, even though it wasn't at all loud earlier.

By some cruel twist from the radio gods, the song that is playing is the same one that Sara was singing this morning and that I heard on the radio on the way home after shift. I can't resist the urge to lean over and turn the radio back up.

"You don't mind do you? I heard this song on the radio yesterday and I seem to really like it. I promise I'll turn it back down after this song is over."

Sara gives me an odd look, but nods her head in agreement and pulls away from the hotel and into traffic. The song isn't very long, and we seemed to have caught it in the middle. As far as I'm concerned it's over way to soon. I know I shouldn't let myself think about it, but the song reminds of Sara. Of her body stretched across that lab table and that lickable patch of skin of her lower back.

My face flushes with heat and I can only hope that in the darkness Sara doesn't notice. I reach over to turn the volume down once again and my hand knocks into hers as she was reaching to do the same thing. The blush spreading across my face intensifies with that small amount of contact. What I had once thought was an attraction is rapidly turning into full-blown lust. This is not going to be good for my concentration.

"Uh. Sorry," Sara mumbles at the same time that I apologize.

"Hey do you know what song that was? I heard it yesterday, and now again today, and I still don't know who sings it." Well that's not entirely true. I know Sara sings it, but I don't think I could tell her that without embarrassing her and, lovely as I think her voice is, I know it's not Sara I keep hearing on the radio.

"You're kidding right?" Sara asks with a smirk on her face.

"What? Should I know who it is?" The blush on my face that was once from touching Sara's hand has now turned to one of embarrassment. "Unless it's one of those irritating bubblegum pop bands that Lindsey forces me to listen to, I'm not going to know who it was."

Sara chuckles at my description of Lindsey's choice of music. "No, it's definitely not bubblegum pop. Whatever the hell that is."

"That's Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, 'Nsync and all that other crap. Lindsey loves it. Every other week she's telling me that there's this new cd that she just has to have."

"Ah," Sara says as she nods her head. "Well that song was definitely a little bit before Lindsey's time."

I wait for her to tell me what it was, but she seems to enjoy the fact that I am utterly clueless right now. "So are you going to tell me or not?"

"If I tell you, that kind of takes the fun out of teasing you about it," Sara starts laughing again. I'm not sure where this new playful attitude of hers came from, but I think I like it. On one hand it's fun to have her kidding with me like this, but on the other, I really do want to know who sings that song.

I cross my arms in front of my chest and do my best to fake a pout. "Pleeeaase?" I draw the word out, similar to the way Lindsey does with me when she wants something.

I swear Sara starts giggling when she looks over at me. For the second time tonight I find myself thinking she is just adorable. I can see the gap in her teeth, and the sound of her laughter fills the truck. She is like I've never seen her before, and I want nothing more than to see her like this everyday; to make her smile just like that and to hear the sound of her laughter.

When she speaks my jaw nearly drops at her words, "Now that is cute. Are you pouting?"

Dear god, I think she just said I was cute. Breathe. Breathe. This is not something I was prepared for. If I weren't trying so hard to pretend that her words mean nothing to me, I'd be grinning from ear to ear. I have to concentrate and remember that she asked me something. "Yes. Lindsey taught me how. Is it working? Will you just tell me already?"

A thousand thoughts flicker just behind Sara's eyes and she's silent for merely a few seconds, but it felt like an eternity. "I guess it does work. Just so you know, the song was 'Crimson and Clover'."

Sara pulls the truck into a parking spot and kills the engine. I didn't even realize that we were at the lab yet. "Okay. Now who sings it?"

"I'm not telling you that one. You'll have to figure it out for yourself," Sara says smiling as she gets out of the truck.

"That's not fair you know. Giving me only half the information." I don't think the pouting I'm doing now is something that Lindsey taught me. This time, I think it's an honest pout.

"Well that's all you get. Maybe if you're good for the rest of this shift I'll tell you who sings it."

I'm standing at the back of the truck, retrieving my kit and Sara just smiles and walks away. I think Sara was flirting with me. With that smile, the gleam in her eye, her playful behavior. She's never acted like that around me. It might be wishful thinking, but like it or not, I'm sticking with the idea that she was flirting with me. I don't think there's been a day when I've grinned bigger.

I know better than to let myself fall into this attraction for her. She's a coworker, she's got a mad crush on Gil, I'm pretty sure she's straight. And if I really think about it, there are probably hundreds of other reasons for me to try to ignore what I'm feeling. But the more I try, the more I can't. It's hard to ignore something that makes me feel so good, so happy. With any luck, the boys in the lab will just assume I started things again with Paul, or that I found some other man to make me smile like this.

My first stop in the lab is Jacqui. This girl is a whiz at prints. Warrick once said he could get a print off air, but if anyone can do it, it would be Jacqui. I give her the print cards, telling her that right now the only thing we've got is some prints from the entrance to the home, and the prints of a couple of people who might be expected to be there. As far as evidence goes, the prints from the Nesbits will prove nothing. But it will help us figure out just where in the house they were before they called the police.

The next stop is the trace lab. There's not a tech in sight, so I log the evidence in the evidence locker and remind myself to come back later. I glance at my watch and notice that it's about mid-shift now and the trace lab tech is probably off somewhere on his lunch break. Or breakfast break, or whatever he calls it.

The final stop is Greg. I usually try to put off talking to him for as long as possible. I suppose someone who physically works in the lab all night long probably does need to have an outlet for all their energy, but sometimes I just can't handle Greg's enthusiasm and his never-ending bad jokes. Once more I explain that I don't really have anything for him, but that I need him to run the DNA so we have a basis for comparison. He nods, and I'm surprised that he hasn't made some sort of joke or rude remark yet.

"Hey Catherine?" Ah, I spoke too soon.

"Yeah Greg?" I was headed out the door, but I turn when he calls my name.

I think he hears the exasperation in my voice, because when I turn around and look at him, his hands are up in the air in mock-surrender.

"Easy Cath," he says. Before I get the chance to remind him not to call me Cath he speaks again, "Just wanted to say you seem really happy tonight. Can't be the case, because that seems a little dull. But whatever it is, I think you should do it more often. You look stunning smiling like that."

I'm tempted to thank him, but the leer on his face makes me want to smack him. I can't figure out why it seems so hard for him to make a compliment without somehow making it seem just the slightest bit off somehow. I know that he didn't intend for it to come out that way, so I refrain from hitting him.

I'm about to walk out the door again when I get an idea. "Hey Greg?"


"You know a lot about music, right?" I ask, that pesky smile still firmly in place.

Greg seems a little stunned, but recovers nicely, "Well I like to think so, why?"

"I keep hearing this song on the radio and I can't figure out who sings it. I was wondering if maybe you could help."

Greg beams with pride. I'm sure he is more than happy to finally have someone ask for his help on something that is not DNA or case related.

"I can try. What do you know about it? You got any lyrics or anything?" There's a bit of a smirk on his face again, back to the same old Greg.

"Don't even think I'm going to start singing to you or anything. I know the name, I just don't know who sings it. I asked Sara, but she seemed to think I should already know and now she won't tell me." I try a little bit of that pout again, just to see if it has any effect on Greg.

"Well what's the song then?"

"Crimson and Clover."

"Ah. So was it a guy or a girl singing?"

"What difference does that make? Just tell me who sings it."

"Makes a big difference. The original was from sometime in the late 60's and sung by a man. Then in the early eighties Joan Jett did a remake. And don't let my parent's hear me say this, but the Joan Jett version rocks so much better than the original."

"Thanks Greg," I tell him smiling and leaving his lab. I got my answer, and Greg got to feel useful for something other than DNA. All and all not a bad trade. I realize only after I've left his lab that now I have no reason to go back to Sara at the end of shift and bug her, or really flirt with her, about that song. Damn it.

Part 8

Shift is half over now and with the exception of a few looks that lingered too long and the possible flirting in the truck, I think I've handled myself pretty well today. If it wouldn't make me look like a complete weirdo, I'd pat myself on the back for not doing something drastic after I bumped into her earlier.

It would have been so simple, so natural to slide my hand up her arm when she steadied me earlier. So easy to wrap my fingers in the hair at the nape of her neck and pull her down gently. I can already imagine the taste of her lips and how soft they would feel briefly pressed against mine.

By the time I snap myself out of my little daydream I realize I've already walked past my office and seem to be headed for the break room. I guess I could use a cup of coffee to keep me going. I'm not exactly tired yet; but I can't let my thoughts drift again, pleasant as the journey may have been.

As I expected the break room is empty. I'm surprised to notice the smell of one of Greg's expensive coffees brewing. I can't figure out why he would want to spend so much money on coffee. I understand why he doesn't want to share with the whole crew; if I spent that kind of money on coffee I wouldn't be likely to share it either. But wouldn't Folger's or Maxwell House or really any brand of coffee provide the same amount of caffeine? Greg says it's all about flavor, but with the way he dumps sugar in his coffee I'd be surprised if there was any flavor left.

Knowing that Sara would have paged me if our interviewees were here yet, I figure she's probably hiding out in that lab of hers. I'm tempted to just lean back on the sofa in the break room and relax for a minute or two, but I find myself pouring a cup of coffee for myself and one for Sara. Temporarily I give up on the artificial sweetener I normally use and add sugar to both cups; I know that Sara prefers real sugar, and right now I'm beginning to think that the extra kick of sugar might be a good thing for me.

Cups in hand, I walk off to find Sara. She always hides in the same lab. In fact, she's in here so much that the whole crew calls the room "Sara's lab", not just me. I have wondered what it is about this particular lab that she likes so much because it is exactly like every other lab in building. The same equipment, the same tables, the same everything; the only thing that differentiates this lab from any other is that this one has Sara.

I don't want to sneak up on her this time, remembering the embarrassment she felt just this morning when I walked in. God, was it really only this morning that I walked into this lab and managed to walk out a different person? I didn't realize it at the time, but I did change in this lab; that persistent, nagging thought first made itself known right here. Thankfully that thought waited until I was a safe distance away from her before making itself known.

My voice is a little louder than usual when I walk into the lab. As I suspected, there is Sara, staring down at the same rolls of duct tape and the same cutting tools she was looking at yesterday. "He-ey Sara. Back to the duct tape already?"

Sara turns her head to look at me and see a faint smile cross her lips. I extend a cup of coffee her way and the faint smile turns into a full-blown, adorable, gap-toothed grin. She eagerly takes the cup from my hand before replying, "Yeah. I figured I might as well get some work done while we wait for the Nesbits to show up."

Momentarily I wonder where the Nesbits are. They really should have been here by now. I guess we'll just continue to wait. Besides, I'm not about to turn down a chance to spend more time with Sara.

Logically I know that I should be pulling away from her, not trying to find excuses to be near her. I know that Gil would have a stroke if I told him I was even contemplating having an attraction to someone, anyone, that we work with. I'd get the workplace romance speech, and probably not much more than that because he wouldn't want to know who I was attracted to.

I also know, or at least have the idea, that she is straight. There's the thing she has for Gil, and something with that Hank guy. She tells me that he isn't her boyfriend, and he might not be; but just like with Gil, there is something there. My chances are slim even if I were to get the guts to do something about, and I hate to say it, this thing I have for her.

And there's Lindsey to think about. She's not exactly old enough to understand that her mom seems to be going through a sexual identity crisis. Hell, I'm not sure I'm old enough to understand. Yeah so these things aren't clearly defined, and that's something I can understand. But why now? And why her?

Despite the logical part of my brain clearly outlining all the reasons I should walk away until I've managed to get some semblance of control over this, I find myself stepping closer to her. "You want any help with that?"

Her eyes flicker with irritation, or maybe annoyance, at my suggestion. I guess there's not really a good way for me to explain that I just want to help; that I think she is perfectly capable of doing this work herself, but that I want help. Thinking about it, I realize that when I've offered her help in the past, it has usually turned into a small rift between us when I would find something and then take off with the fresh lead and leave her behind.

"Wait," I say, setting the coffee on the table and raising my hands in a gesture of surrender. "I know what that look means. But really, I just want to help. And since you've been working on this for at least two days now, you might be able to use that help."

"Thanks, but I'm pretty sure I can handle this myself. It can be frustrating, but I can handle it."

There's still a slight bit of anger dancing behind her eyes and the tone of her voice settles matters with a resounding finality. Earlier she had taken my offer of assistance in stride; she seemed unsure about it, but even the slight bit of resentment that I feel now was not there earlier.

I think that's my cue to find some other way to pass the time before the Nesbits get here. "Okay. It was just an offer. Anyway, I'll be in my office. Page me if you hear from Secula or the Nesbits."

I've got a lot to learn when it comes to Sara. Her mood toward me has been swinging all night. She was attentive and caring when I literally ran into her earlier. She was silent and almost unfriendly after speaking with the officer at the scene. I got a few good smiles out of her at The Palms, and we even had that almost flirting thing going on in the truck on the way back. Another smile when I delivered coffee, but then back to the unfriendly at my offer of help.

I should just step away from this attraction. I've already recognized it for what it is, but that doesn't mean that I need to act on it. And I've had plenty of attractions that I didn't act on for one reason or another, so this shouldn't be too difficult. And as long as Sara doesn't know that things have changed, even slightly, than it should be relatively easy to go back the fledgling friendship we once had.

The only real problem is that it feels good to be attracted to her.

Part 9

You ever wake up from a really good dream but still not remember what happened? You just wake up all happy and smiley but the details are missing? I didn't even realize that I fell asleep until something woke me up. I'm still a little groggy but I do wake up smiling.

I'm in my office, that much is clear the minute I open my eyes. My head is lying on my arms, which are crossed on the desk. I feel a numbness in my hands that can only mean that I've been asleep for too long. There is a hand resting on the back of my neck and fingers rubbing my head lightly.

Before I can really get a grasp on what I'm doing, I find myself moaning lightly and telling the hand, "God that feels nice."

I hear a soft chuckle from behind me. I turn my neck a little and see Sara smiling down on me. Oh Shit. I bury my head in my arms again, hoping this is the dream and that when I open my eyes again she won't be here.

Her hand slides down and her fingers curve around my neck. My pulse is out of control and her hand feels like fire against my skin. I want to whimper it feels so good just to have her touch me. It takes every ounce of control I have not to make some sort of noise when she pushes her thumb into the vertebrae of my neck and her fingers move lightly against my neck.

Dear god. If I wasn't awake earlier, I know I sure as hell am now. She has to know what she's doing. There's no way she can be this close to me, have her fingers so close to my pulse, and not know.

"C'mon Cath, we've got work to do."

Huh? Work? Now? No way. I can't concentrate at all. I don't even think I can move, not as long as she continues that pleasant rubbing. My response reminds me of something Lindsey would say, "Don't want to."

I nearly melt into a puddle when I feel a second hand on the other side of my neck. Her hands work in perfectly timed unison, easing tension out of my neck and shoulders. Unfortunately I can feel tension building in an entirely different part of my body. Another barely suppressed moan of delight and I try harder to bury my head into my desk.

It seems that playful, flirty Sara has returned for a short while. I know that I should get up, that I should continue to work. But my legs can't seem to react to the messages my brain is sending. And no matter how hard I were to try, I know I could never willingly walk away from her touch.

The pressure her hands are applying to my shoulders increases slightly, and suddenly I feel her breath on my ear. The shiver that runs down my spine nearly shocks me enough to make me jump out of my chair. But her strong hands hold me firmly in place, as if she knew what my reaction would be.

"I know you don't want to," Sara whispers in my ear. My imagination is working overtime at the low timbre of her voice. If it weren't for the pressure of her hands, that sound would leave me shaking. "But you have to. And if you do all your work like a good girl, before you know it shift will be over and you can get to bed."

My brain has stopped working completely. The words she whispered, while not overtly sexual, have reduced me to a whimpering mass of over-aroused goo. I can't come up with words to describe what she has just done to me. There is no way, no way, I can work with her tonight. Not until I've had a cold shower or something.

I feel her pull away; her breath no longer lingers near my ear, and her hands are gone from my shoulders. I feel the loss and it hurts in an almost physical way. Logically I know that's possible, but when it comes to Sara lately I can't seem to think logically.

I'm still hiding my head in my arms. I know if I look at her, she will easily be able to see the lust in my eyes. And I just don't think I can handle any kind of reaction from her. In less than twenty-four hours everything I've thought about her has changed.

If she's not flirting with me, and this behavior continues, it will kill me. Is it possible to die of over-stimulation? And while it certainly feels like she may be flirting with me now, I wouldn't be able to handle it if I looked at her right now and saw nothing but friendship or concern in her eyes. And it's not that I don't want her friendship, or her concern; but right now, I want so much more.

I want to see desire in her eyes. I want to know that this thing between us is a mutual attraction and that she really is flirting with me. The problem with seeing that reflection in her eyes is that nothing on this earth could stop me from acting on it. Not with the way I feel right now.

Okay. Breathe and try to calm down. This should be a lot easier now that she's not actually touching me. I wonder if she's even still in the room. I strain to listen over the sound of my own heartbeat and breathing, and discover, that yes, Sara is still in my office. Still standing just behind my chair. The nearness of her is completely distracting.

"C'mon Cath, you're going to have to work sometime tonight." Her voice is whisper soft and has an effect on me that I'd rather not put into words.

I prop my elbows on the desk and hide my face in my hands. "Yeah. I know. The Nesbits here?"


I'm still hiding my face from her; certain that she doesn't need to see the flush on my cheeks or the look in my eyes. I hear her move around to the other side of my desk and the distance between us instantly confuses me. I like having her so near, but I feel safer knowing that she is further away.

"Okay. Give me a minute to wake up some more," as if I'm not completely awake just from the touch of her hand. "I'll meet you in the interview room."

If I were to tell the truth, I just need some time away from her to cool down. The sooner she leaves my office, the sooner I'll be able get back to work. Though I'm no longer sure if I can work with her and still keep control of my attraction. I know I definitely can't control it if she's going to be playful like this.

"Okay. See you in a few." She sounds honestly confused; and if I were her, I would be too.

I wait until I hear the soft click of my office door closing before I even attempt to look up from my new hiding place. Thankfully I am now alone again. The memory of her is still crisp and clear in my mind and it soon becomes evident that I can't stay in here and cool down.

I head outside, hoping the fresh cool air can help calm my nerves. I pace back and forth in front of the door, trying my best not to think about her. I try to concentrate on our case to no avail. This case has confused me from the beginning and I feel a migraine in my future if I think about it too much.

I'm still pacing in front of the doors when my pager beeps loudly. I check the number, expecting it to be Sara wondering where I am. Surprisingly the number isn't Sara's, it's Greg. Confused again, I head back inside and toward the DNA lab.

Part 10

Greg is sitting in the lab drumming his pens on the table in front of him to some beat that only he can hear. And from the fast pace with which he is beating up those pens, I'm glad that Gil took away Greg's cd player; nothing that has a drum beat that fast is anything I'd ever want to listen to.

"Greg?" Greg doesn't respond right away and I repeat myself a little louder, "Greg? You paged?"

He twirls around in his chair, finally noticing that I'm talking to him. "Uh, yeah."

"Well what for?" I'm beginning to get impatient with him.

I know that the work Greg does is important, a vital part of our work, but his theatrics can really get on my nerves. He's a good kid, and I keep telling myself that. The only other option is to smack him.

"Well I need both you and Grissom in here for this one. So just as soon as he gets here, I'll tell you."

"Greg. I haven't got all night. Spill it."

"I think you really might want to wait for Grissom for this one," Greg says.

I'm less than a second from yelling at him when Gil appears in the doorway.

"Greg unless I tell you to run my DNA on priority, don't ever page me and put '911' on it," Gil's voice is filled with irritation. "Now what is it that you think is so important?"

I'm almost sorry that I got angry with Greg. I know he didn't page me with an emergency, but since he paged Gil with a 911 that means he knew I'd be pissed at having to wait for whatever he has to tell us and he was hoping Gil would hurry up and get to the lab.

"Okay boss," Greg says. "Now you brought me some DNA samples from your lady of the desert. Samples from her, and samples from what I think you said was saliva you found on her face right?"

"Yeah." I watch as Gil puts his arms on the table, his hands holding the edge. Apparently he's not in the mood for Greg's games tonight either.

"So someone spit in that lady's face. Eew." Greg actually manages a shudder. I'm surprised he finds that gross considering his idea of a good time at work is anal swabs. "And Catherine, you brought me comparison DNA in case we ever found something to compare it to, right?"


Greg must be working up to something he thinks is just a fantastic surprise. He always takes more time to give us information when he feels it's going to be something shocking or case-breaking information.

"Well Cath," he actually shrinks back from the look I give him. "Sorry. Anyway, I ran your samples and came up with nothing in any of the databases."

I cut him off before he gets any further, "Then why did you page me? We already knew we wouldn't get anything from them."

"We're getting to that. Then Grissom comes in with his swabs from the desert. Like a good employee I run Grissom's DNA. Only hit I got was in our database. The samples I ran earlier from Catherine's case."

Well he has our attention now. And he takes advantage of it, going for what I assume is the big dramatic pause. Gil looks intrigued but irritated at the same time, and Greg looks back and forth between Gil and I before handing each of us a piece of paper.

"I don't have anything conclusive, it's not a perfect match. But the DNA from Grissom's sample has familial markers with one of your samples, Catherine. And the DNA from the spit swab shares some of the same markers as the other two. You two got the same case."

Greg grins widely, obviously pleased with his work. I look at the report in front of me, trying to figure out the connection. Gil's victim has the same markers as one of the Nesbits. Looking deeper into the results it looks like it was James.


He's staring at the report too, trying to put together pieces he can't see. "Yeah?"

"Your victim? Eldery white lady?"

Gil looks up from the results and wrinkles his brow in confusion. "Yeah."

"Any ID?" I'm beginning to feel like Greg, stretching things out too much.


"Her name is Anna Nenadov. Sara is talking with her son right now."

Gil just nods his head, expecting me to say more.

"She's our suspicious circs. Which I actually wanted to talk to you about. You need to talk to whoever it is that fills out those assignment slips. Our suspicious circumstances is actually a missing persons. Or was a missing persons anyway. Looks like we found her."

"Let's go talk to Sara," Gil says, already heading out the door.

Knowing that Greg is expecting some sort of recognition I yell back at him as I'm leaving, "Thanks Greg-o."

I don't have to look back to know that Greg is smiling. For all his irritating posturing he did provide us with some rather interesting information. But things with our case just got a little more confusing, and I'm not sure how I really feel about that. I already think I need a chart just to remember all the names of the people involved and I don't really see it getting any better before we wrap this up.

Gil walks at a slow and steady pace toward the interview rooms and I can tell that he's concentrating hard on the DNA results in his hand. He's trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together already. I want to tell him to hold off, to wait until he's at least had a chance to talk with the Nesbits first, but he's so wrapped up in what he's doing that I doubt he would hear me anyway.

We turn a corner in the lab and through the glass walls I can see Sara in an interview room chatting amiably with Secula while the Nesbits fill out paperwork. I watch as Secula apparently says something funny to Sara and she responds by placing her hand lightly on Secula's arm and tilting her head back in laughter.

For what must be the tenth time today I feel my face heat up in a bright blush. The only difference is that this time the blush isn't from anything pleasant.

Sara turns her head and sees Gil and I walking toward the room. I watch as she says something to the group in the room and slips out to join us in the hallway. She looks at Gil, and quickly realizing he's too focused on his results to say anything she turns to me.

Whatever hopes I had of keeping this thing I've developed for her a secret seem dashed the minute she looks at me. I watch as she takes in the flush on my face and confusion settles on her face. She might not be able to figure out exactly what it is that seems to have me on edge, but the only thing that matters is that she picked up on it. I'm not going to be able to hide this from her if simply watching her being friendly with someone else is all it takes to spark jealousy and anger.

And as soon as I realize that it was jealousy another thought pops into my head. This is something deeper than a simple attraction, or even lust, if I'm jealous. Shit.

Part 11

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