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 31

Tension in the room finally breaks as I grin widely and Sara collapses into the chair giggling.

"You're probably right about that," she says after she regains her breath.

"So. Jeans and a t-shirt, huh? I'll have to remember that."

"Why would you want to remember that?" Sara asks seriously.

"Because one of these days I'm going to take you on a date. I think I should at least take the time to dress in something I know you'll appreciate." I can't stop smiling.

"Ooh. A date. Sounds like fun. Just don't tell me you're a closet NASCAR freak."

"Oh no way. That sport involves only two things. Driving fast and turning left."

I'm so glad we're back to joking and teasing each other this way. Things were heating up quite a lot in here just minutes ago, and it feels good to calm down before I have to leave this office and face the remaining graveyard shift. One look at my face if things had gone further and it would be completely obvious, even to Gil, what was going on behind the closed door of my office.

"Exactly! Now please go tell Nick that." Sara grins. I love her smile.

"I think you told him pretty well. You set him up hard for Secula didn't you?"

"I sure did. I figure he owes me. And you too."

"Me?" I'm confused.

"Yeah you. You have any idea what it took for me to tell you that I had a date? It was hard enough to walk away from you, but then I had to explain why."

"Well I don't know how hard it was for you, but I can tell you I was fairly pissed about it for a while."

Honesty is best, right? She told me about the date, I might as well come clean about being angry. I'm sure she knew anyway.

"I figured as much. I wanted to explain that right away, but I was already really late. And I don't need Nick's friend telling him that I was late. Or that I didn't show up at all. He would never have let me live it down."

"I know what you mean. You could have been a few minutes late though. Just told the poor guy that you got caught up in something at work." I'm teasing her and she knows it.

"Well at least I wouldn't have been lying."

"Is that what the flowers were for?" Part of me knows already that this is why she sent flowers. Mostly I just feel the need to have her say it out loud.

"Yeah," Sara blushes. She actually blushes. It's adorable. "But I couldn't think of anything to say. I just wanted you to know I was sorry. I tried to come up with something cute and romantic, but..."

I can see Sara is struggling.

"Sara, it was perfect." Sara looks hesitant, as if she doesn't believe me. "Sara I admit I don't really know you well. And I have every intention of changing that. But had these flowers come with something overtly romantic on them, I would have had no idea who they came from. You wanted to say sorry, and you did. You might have over done it, with three bouquets and then the single flower. But it was you. Simple, straight-forward."

Sara looks embarrassed, "I just really wanted you to know I was sorry."

Sara's hands are clasped in her lap, and she has suddenly found renewed interest in staring at them.

Against the better judgment of most of my brain, I step forward and pull her chin up with my hand. I kiss her slowly, barely remembering to back away when the kiss threatens to heat up too much. "And you did. Sara, that was the sweetest thing anyone has done for me in a long time."

That adorable blush returns and I force myself not to kiss her again. If she's going to continue to be this cute I'm going to have a hard time working with her and keeping my hands off her.

"So you're not still mad about the date thing?" Sara asks quietly.

"Well now that depends."

"It does? On what?" Sara looks suddenly nervous.

"Haven't got any more dates I should know about, do you?" Sara shakes her head no.

"And you're making Nick pay pretty big for this one?" This time her head nods an affirmative response.

"Then I think it's safe to say I'm not mad about the date thing." She looks so relieved I can't help but continue, "Sara I got over that earlier. I was mad after you told me, but I spent some time with Lindsey and that helped. Then I came to work and there were beautiful flowers waiting for me, that helped too. But when I saw you again, I just couldn't stay mad. You smiled at me and everything was okay."

And I realize that at this point, with everything still new between us, all it takes is a smile from her and whatever problem I had seems to melt away.

"And it's good to know that your date was a set up that you couldn't exactly get out of easily. I can only imagine the harassing you would have gotten from Nick about canceling on his friend. I could easily see him continuing to pester you about your apparent lack of a social life."

"I have a life, you know." There's a note of bitterness in her voice.

"Oh, Sara. I know you do. Okay, well, I don't know for certain, but I suspect you have a life outside this lab. We all do. Some of us just talk about it more than others."

She looks only mildly reassured. "I take my work very seriously. I think what we do here is really important."

"It is, Sara. It is. The guys just don't know when to back down and they want you happy. Just make sure there's a little free time in your social calendar for me sometime, ok?"

"Anytime you want." Sara says, completely serious.

I had been half-joking. I want to spend time with her outside the lab, it's going to be hard to pursue a relationship with her if I don't. But the seriousness with which she says the words startles me. Hearing her say such simple words, but knowing the meaning behind them, takes my breath away.


"Uh-huh?" She looks up at me, shyly.

"That right there. What you just said. That's the kind of thing I'm not used to hearing from you. Simple and straight-forward again. But said with such sincerity that I know you mean every word of it. It might not be the fantasized version of romance you read in trashy novels, but from you it's the most romantic way you could ever express yourself."

I've managed to make Sara blush three times in less than a half hour. While I think it's adorable, I can't help but wonder why it's so easy to do. Surely someone in her past has said these things to her, told her just how special she is. She simply can't be this amazing without someone having noticed before.

Part 32

Apparently regular compliments aren't a part of Sara's life. She's staring at her hands again, with the fascination of an infant discovering fingers for the first time. I'm definitely going to have to work on this shyness of hers. She's playful when it comes to actions, but for some reason words seem to bring on incredible bashfulness.

"Sara?" I ask quietly.

"Yeah?" Sara mumbles.

I can sense her growing discomfort and not wanting to press the issue, I think maybe we should talk about these things later. "We should probably get back to work."

She seems surprised that I've changed subjects and looks up at me. "Uh right. Work."

At any other time I'd make a joke about how disappointed she sounds to be getting back to work. She usually jumps in with both feet, but she seems reluctant to go now.

"Well there's just less than an hour left to tonight's shift. We should probably try to get something done." I tell her with a weak smile, hoping she knows that work is the furthest thing from my mind.

When it comes to Sara, it seems I'm going to have to tread lightly until I get to know her better. She doesn't seem used to the idea that someone would compliment her. I know she gets compliments on her work all the time, but outside of that I can tell that she doesn't hear good things often.

Sara moves to get out of her chair. I'm still leaning against my desk and when she stands up, she is only inches from me. I'm tempted to kiss her again, but I know that if I do neither of us will get back to work. Instead I reach out and pull her into a hug. She seems surprised at the quick motion, but as soon as I wrap my arms around her she melts into my embrace.

I don't know why I ever thought I could deny myself something as comfortable as this. How did I think I could turn down the opportunity to have this woman in my arms? She fits so well. Actually, it's me that fits into her.

She's only slightly taller than me, but the difference is noticeable in a position like this. I can rest my head on the front of her shoulder, with my arms wrapped tightly around her waist. Molding into my embrace, Sara rests her chin on the top of my head with her hands lightly stroking up and down my back.

This is a very good place to be. I can smell the scent of clean on her, a combination of soap, shampoo, laundry detergent and possibly traces of an old perfume. Or maybe it's just her, the scent of Sara, that smells that good. Whatever it is, I decide instantly that I like it.

Sara seems to like her new position as well. She squeezes softly before attempting to pull back. "Work now, remember?"

She's right. I should let go. Doesn't mean I have to want to though. "I know."

"Cath?" She asks when I don't let go.

"Hmm?" I hum into her neck. A smile spreads across my face when I feel her shake slightly from the vibrations.

"You're going to have to let me go if you want to get to work. That was your idea after all." Sara tries to be serious, but I can tell from the slight flex of muscles in her neck that she is smiling.

"I know. You looked like you could use a hug and now I'm comfortable here. So you might be stuck with me."

"Okay." Sara gives in easily and wraps her arms around me.

I know it was my idea to get back to work. And, in theory, it's a good idea. We are still at work, so we should probably get something accomplished. But I like having Sara like this. I know that as soon as the door opens and she steps out she will go back to be the distant Sara I know so little and yet so well.

Here, in my office, things are different. She's teasing, playful, and much more open about her affections here. I like this side of her, though I know very well why she hides these parts of herself from others when she's on the other side of the door.

I'm beginning to learn more and more about her without even having to ask the questions. I can tell from her actions and her words that she has been hurt deeply sometime in the past. And because of that she chooses carefully who gets to see her affectionate, playful side.

It sounds so corny, but I'm glad she lets me see this side of her. I like knowing that she feels she can trust me enough. Not to mention it would be a lot harder to attempt a relationship, or even friendship, with her if she didn't eventually come out from under her shell.

I'm still lost in thought when I feel Sara pull away again. "Okay, this time I've really got to go"

"Right," I respond. At least this time I manage to remove my arms from her waist. I really shouldn't be so completely attached so soon. I don't want to let her go even though I know I should. But it's so nice to be with someone like this, and even more so since it's her.

Now that I've let her go she doesn't seem to want to leave. Her arms slide down my back and rest comfortably on my hips, her position mirroring the one I have just given up.

"Now look who isn't leaving," I tease her.

My hands slide up her arms, finally touching that skin I wanted to feel earlier. Soft like I had thought her skin would be, but with an underlying strength.

"It's not as easy as it sounds," comes her simple response.


I'd step away from her if I could, to maybe make it easier for her, but I'm trapped between Sara and my desk. Well maybe trapped isn't the right word, because I rather enjoy being here.

"So, uh. I should go. Get some work done."

When she makes no effort to move I push myself away from the desk so that I'm standing up straight. I'm now nose-to-nose with her and I can feel her breath across my lips. I force myself to turn my head and not kiss her. In this moment it feels like the toughest thing I've had to do in a long while.

Head still turned I take a step closer, forcing Sara to take a step back. With enough room to move I slide away from her. The distance clears both our heads a little.

Sara looks at me with a smirk on her face, "Tricky Willows, very tricky."

"Had to do something or we'd have ended up making out like teenagers again," I grin back at her.

"Would that be so bad?" Her smirk grows.

"Not necessarily. But this is work. And if we don't stop this now, there's no telling where it would lead. And the last thing I want is for Gil, or someone else, to come looking for one of us and finding us in a..." I try to think of the appropriate words. "Compromising position."

Sara laughs at my chosen phrase, "I guess that would be kind of bad, huh?"

"Well it could be quite fun," It's my turn to smirk at her. "But if it's all the same to you, I think I'd rather keep whatever this is between us for a little while. Don't need the boys finding out so soon."

Sara looks unsure and I don't know if it's because I can't clarify what this thing between us is or because I don't want the guys to know.

"Just think for a minute about all the harassing we'd both get if they found out right away."

"You might have a point there. But they're going to find out soon enough." Sara starts walking to the door.

"Why is that?" I ask, knowing there is an underlying meaning to her words.

She turns the doorknob in her hand and opens the door just a crack before turning back to me. "Because I'm going to have a hard time keeping my hands off of you."

I don't get a chance to respond before she's gone.

Part 33

I pick up the folders Sara dropped in my spare chair and turn around to sit behind my desk.

"Because I'm going to have a hard time keeping my hands off of you."

Sara's words play in my head, much like the proverbial broken record. She certainly does know how to leave a girl wanting.

I check my watch and discover that there is still an hour left to this shift. Hasn't any time passed? Shouldn't I be about ready to leave?

With nothing much left to do, I practically memorize Doc Robbins' autopsy report for Mrs. Nenadov. I don't think there is really anything useful in here that I didn't already know, but sometimes pushing the ugly facts of death on killers can make them crack. It just depends on whether the kid we're dealing with is a psychopath or not.

Time crawls. I keep checking my watch, but every time I look at it only five minutes has passed. I think I know Doc's report word-for-word, and with nothing better to do, I lose myself in memories of Sara.

Turns out, all I needed to was think about her and time simply flies by. Soon I am suddenly twenty minutes late leaving. If it weren't irritating it would almost be funny how time plays these little tricks on me.

I head off to Gil's office to let him know I'm leaving. I knock lightly on the door and see him sitting in almost exactly the same spot he was in when I left earlier. The only visible difference is that the stack of paperwork on his desk has increased in size to a nearly disastrous leaning tower of paperwork.

"Gil, I'll see you tonight. I'm out of here," I say to him, walking up to the desk so that he can hear me better. I don't really feel like waiting around to get his attention.

Gil checks his watch and quirks a brow as he looks up at me. "I take it you found something to do then?"

"Something like that. And now I'm just letting you know I'm going."

If at all possible his eyebrow moves further up his forehead at my vague explanation. "Oo-kay," he draws the word out in that tone that implies I should explain. But I'm not going to.

"Night Gil. Have fun with your little friend there. And you should really get some of that paperwork done before it falls over under its own weight. Wouldn't want it to squish one of your little pets," I leave his office laughing.

Sometimes it's necessary to push Gil into doing his paperwork, and the best way I can think of doing it is to tell him that his little buddies just might be in danger.

From what I can tell the rest of the boys are gone but I find Sara in her usual lab.

"Hey Sara," I say loudly enough to disturb her from her work.

"Hey Catherine," I doubt anyone in the lab would notice that extra-low tone of her voice. I do, and I'm amazed at the reaction my body has to her. Just her voice can cut my breath short and make my heart beat faster.

"Thought I'd pop in and say goodnight. I'm about to head out of here."

Her attention still focused on the work in front of her, those damn rolls of duct tape again, and she nods her head slightly. "Right."

Ah, the Sara I know well. So immersed in her work that everything else is reduced to nothing more than background noise.

"Still working on the great duct tape mystery?" I ask stepping closer. I know I should just leave, but a little more time won't hurt.

"Yeah," Sara sets the tape back on the table in front of her. "I've tried every cutting tool I can think of from a kitchen butter knife to hedge clippers. Nothing comes close to matching the tear pattern."

I hear the resignation in her voice and almost offer help before I realize that she might not want it. Sara watches me carefully, her brow creasing in confusion.

"Catherine, You got any ideas on this?"

Sara smiles as my eyes go wide in shock. Just yesterday I had offered to help her with this and she was almost offended and here she is today asking for help.

"Uh. Sure."

"Hey now, don't look so surprised. I do occasionally let people help me on my cases," she says with that smirk on her face.

"Your cases, huh? A little cocky, don't you think?" I can't help but grin at her. I know this was a case she caught with Gil not too long ago and since he's already off to his next adventure with bugs, in theory that does make it 'her' case. She's the one responsible for all the evidence until it gets logged into the evidence locker. "Gil abandoned you, huh?"

"Something came up." She says and we share a knowing smile.

"Bugs," I say simply and Sara nods. "Well he used to say never give up on the evidence. Sometimes you need to just put it away for a while and come back with fresh eyes. Or you could just step out in the hallway every now and then and kidnap a fresh pair of eyes to help you."

"I could, but it's easier when a fresh pair of eyes comes to find me," Sara says with a smile before turning serious, "It gets to me sometimes. Knowing the answer is right there somewhere and I'm missing it."

"I know Sara. But sometimes you should let it go," I get the feeling I'm about to get an indignant speech about evidence and justice and I hold up my hands in surrender. "Not forever, just give it time, I know you'll find the answer; you never give up."

Humor flashes in her eyes for a brief instant, and I'm tempted to ask what she's thinking. It disappears as soon as I noticed it and I decide to simply ask what's going on with her case.

"So show me the tear pattern we're trying to match."

Sara turns back to the table and turns to me with a plastic bag containing a torn piece of duct tape. I've stepped closer to me and when she turns back around I've invaded her personal space. Her eyes widen and she hands me the bag but she doesn't move back. Good.

I take a long look at the tape and Sara stays close to me, watching my eyes the entire time. This could get to be really distracting but since I'm the one that started this little game, or whatever this is, I do my best to pretend that I don't notice her intense gaze. It's a lot harder than it sounds.

"Have you got the roll this came from?" I ask, setting the tape back down on the table.

"Yeah," Sara says reaching forward to grab the evidence bag containing the roll of tape.

I watch her as she moves, noticing that her tank top has once again exposed that small strip of skin on her lower back. I don't even think about it before I reach out and cover that strip of skin with my hand. Her breath catches audibly and the skin under my hand is warm to the touch. She stays stretched out for a minute longer than necessary, letting my hand rest against her.

This is dangerous territory I'm wandering into with her. This lab is far enough removed from the others that any one walking through this part of the building would have to have a purpose, but the walls are still glass and anyone can see us. I know the guys from our shift are gone, but Gil is still here. And the entire dayshift.

Sara hands me a second evidence bag with the roll of tape, looking directly into my eyes as she does. The heat there astounds me. I expected at the least a harsh rebuke for being so forward in the visibility of the lab, instead I find a fire burning in her eyes that sends my heartbeat skyrocketing. I'm definitely going to get us both in some kind of trouble if she keeps looking at me like that.

I close my eyes and concentrate on breathing. Who would have thought something so innate, so natural, would take so much concentration.

Sara clears her throat and steps away, causing my hand to slide across her skin before she is fully out of my reach. Thank god she moved, because I don't think I'd be able to walk away.

This whole thing where I thought I'd be able to gain some control over how she makes me feel was an exercise in futility. I know better, but still can't keep my body from reacting to her presence. I can't help but want to touch her when she is so near.

Part 34

Focus on the evidence. Funny how that little mantra comes in handy in different situations. Gil says to focus on the evidence and not on the people involved in a case because the evidence never lies.

Standing in a lab with Sara I'm trying to focus on the evidence for the sole purpose of not focusing on her. It might be easier if she weren't smirking at me like that; she's knows I'm having trouble, and she seems to be enjoying every minute of it.


In my hand is a plastic bag containing a roll of duct tape. On the table in front of me, in yet another plastic bag, is a piece of duct tape that once belonged on this roll. Match the tear to the tool. Simple, right?

Except that Sara's been working on this in all of her off time and she hasn't been able to come up with anything. And then there's the problem with me being completely distracted by her mere presence.

"I tested every tool I could find, even blunt edged tools that wouldn't be able to give a clean cut. I've got nothing."

"I don't think a tool was used for this. The tear is too irregular." I finally manage to say.

Sara turns again and picks up a spare roll of tape from the table, pulling a little bit of tape and giving a good tug. When it doesn't tear from the roll she tugs increasingly harder.

"And this stuff has to be the best quality duct tape out there, because it doesn't just tear."

I've never been one to care that much about the quality of duct tape on the few occasions I've needed to use it around the house. It's a quick-fix tape; I only use it to hold something together until I can get it fixed properly.

I look at the roll in my hands and realize that Sara is right. The fabric mesh that gives the tape its strength is very densely woven. There are thin dents running across the width of the tape at irregular intervals and small indentations at the same irregular locations across the outer few layers of tape.

A smile crosses my face as I think I have it figured out. I hate to think that I may have the solution when I've only been looking at this roll of tape for minutes compared to the hours that Sara has spent doing the same thing.

"Cath?" Sara questions.

"Hmm?" I'm still staring at the roll of tape. I guess focusing on the evidence can work.

"You've got that 'I know something you don't know' look. Got an idea on what our perp used to cut the tape with?"

There's a slight edge of irritation in her voice, and I'm not surprised to hear it. Had I been spending extra hours on this only to have her come along and solve the puzzle in a few short minutes, I think I'd be a little irritated to.

"I think I might." I say quietly. I don't want her to walk behind that wall of professionalism again. We're not exactly flirting at the moment, but I don't want her to slip back to business completely. She's much more fun when we have this friendly thing going.

"Well are you going to share, or is it a big secret?" Sara asks laughing.

Sara picked up on the uneasiness I was feeling and her laughter makes it all fade away.

"Maybe it's a secret," I tease her. "I might require payment before I divulge the case breaking evidence."

Sara chuckles and grins widely, "Cath, that's not case breaking evidence in your hands. That's a roll of tape. And the perp is already so deep under other evidence that this tape barely matters."

"Ah. Maybe it doesn't matter to him, but it matters to you." I'm barely holding back my own laughter.

It's fun to play with her like this. We both know that I'll tell her what I'm thinking, but a little light humor is good for the soul. There's not much we see every day that we can laugh about. A roll of tape might not be all that funny but it's entertaining enough.

"Well I'm sure I can come up with some form of payment." The dark glint in her eyes almost makes me forget what we were talking about in the first place. "But you don't get any reward for cracking the case until you can prove to me that you've actually cracked it."

I smile at her, stepping forward. I don't need to be this close, but I doubt anyone walking by would notice that I'm standing closer to her than I need to be.

"Thought you said it didn't matter?"

"It doesn't, not really. Just a loose end that needs tied." Sara shrugs and lowers her voice, "Payment was your idea. I'm just willing to play along."

So many implications for one little sentence. Someday I'm going to have to learn to work side by side with her and not let little things like this get to me. But, for now, I kind of enjoy the increasing sexual tension. I take a deep breath. I like the tension, it's thrilling in one respect but absolutely terrifying in another.

I get the feeling that we're not talking about tape or evidence anymore. I'm actually looking forward to going home and cooling off for a little while. I try to get things back on track before they get out of hand in the middle of a lab. "So. Tape. Right."

Sara simply nods and smiles. There's no denying that she knows what being in close proximity to her does to me. Again I find myself thinking that I'm going to get the both of us in a lot of trouble if I don't figure out how to control my baser impulses.

I turn the roll of tape in my hands over. "See these lines?"

Sara looks confused, but nods. The lines really are little more than small creases in the tape.

I hold the tape so that the side of the roll is visible through the plastic evidence bag. "And these odd shaped dents all along the sides?"

Another confused nod.

"The small dents on the side of the tape line up with the creases across the tape." I hand the roll of tape to her and watch as she turns it over and checks.

"And what does that mean?" She's adorable when she's confused.

"Sara, have you ever used duct tape?"

"Well not really. There's probably some lying around my apartment somewhere, but I can't think of anything I would have needed it for recently."

"Allright. Hand me that roll of tape would you?" Sara grabs the tape she had been testing tools on from the table and hands it over. "Now what would you do if you didn't have anything nearby to cut the tape with?"

She's cute when she's confused like this. "I've already tried ripping that tape Catherine. It's just a little too durable to tear off the roll."

"Exactly." I pull a strip of tape off the roll, turn the roll in my hand, and run the nail of my thumb across the width of the tape. A small crease forms in the wake of my nail. A look of understanding crosses her face.

"But the dents you were talking about?"

I give the tape a tug and it stubbornly remains on the roll. "Teeth."

Sara looks at me questioningly.

"Watch and learn." I hold the strip of tape away from the roll and bite at the edge of the crease I just made. My teeth rip the edge of the tape just enough so that when I pull on the tape with my hands it rips jaggedly along the crease. The edge of the tape isn't clean cut and the tear pattern is close enough to be loosely considered a match to the tape in evidence.

Part 35

A look of comprehension crosses Sara's face as she watches me rip the tape.

"It just needed a little give. Now I'd bet that the guy who uses this tape isn't bright enough to have a pair of scissors or a knife close by."

I hand the strip of tape and what's left of the roll to Sara. "Shit. That's so damn simple."

"It's not always complicated you know. Actually, with most of the people we see on a day-to-day basis it's anything but complicated."

"Right." The corners of her mouth turn up in a smile and her eyes dance with amusement. "So I guess I owe you a payment of some kind, right?"

"You know I was kidding about that." I try to remain serious but I feel a grin spread across my face. That grin seems to be permanent. It appears whenever I'm around her and doesn't really go away.

"I know." But the smirk on her face tells me that she's already put some thought into it. "But I have every intention of following through."

Sara sets the tape I've given her on the table and steps closer to me. While we were far enough apart a moment ago that no one walking by would think twice about us standing here, the distance between us is now minimal and it's quite obvious that something more that just a friendly chat between coworkers is happening in this room.

Her arms wrap around me and embrace me in a tight hug. Well now this is the kind of thing a girl could get used to. Give a little help on a case, get a hug in return. And I believe I've already told her just how much I like being wrapped in her arms.

"Mmm. This is nice," I mumble into her shoulder.

For the life of me I can't figure out why she is choosing this moment to be quite so open. Work has appeared to be an off-limits place to show affection. Well behind the closed door of my office seems to be a different story, but with the glass walls that surround the labs I'm surprised at her actions. I try not to dwell on it, and just accept it for what it is.

"I'd be one poor woman if Gil paid me in hugs for cracking cases." I laugh as Sara squeezes gently.

Expecting her to move away after a quick embrace I'm surprised when her head dips a little lower and I can feel her breath on my ear.

"Sorry Cath, but a simple hug isn't what I was thinking," her voice is barely a whisper and a shiver runs down my spine as she speaks.

I want to ask her what she was thinking but when I feel her tongue trace the edge of my ear lobe I seem to lose the capacity for speech. My arms involuntarily squeeze her just a little bit harder as her teeth take a little nip. My heart is thundering in my chest so loud I'm surprised she can't hear it.

I'll do my best to solve every case she works if this is what I get for my work.

Sara pulls back and steps out of our embrace. My face is flush with heat and I know my surprise, as well as my delight, at her gesture is clearly visible in my eyes.

I really can't believe she just did that. Sara isn't an affectionate person to begin with. Away from the lab, and behind closed doors, she opens up a little. Just when I think I have certain aspects of her personality figured out, she goes and changes them. I'm not going to complain; I kind of like that she's difficult to figure out. I get the feeling that not a day will go by when she won't surprise somehow.

I attempt to speak a few times, but every time my mouth opens nothing comes out. Sara leans against the lab table a few feet away, her arms crossed across her chest and a big smirk on her face.

"I ." Maybe I should try finding my breath before attempting to talk. A few deep breaths and I try again. "What was that for?"

"You said you wanted payment for figuring out how the tape was cut. You did figure it out, so I thought I could the least I could was pay you in a way you would appreciate."

"Oh." I can't think of a response to that. The smirk on her face makes it obvious that she knows just how much I enjoyed her 'payment'.

For a minute she simply stares at me in silence, watching the blush on my face as it turns redder and redder. I can't hold her gaze, but I can't seem to walk away either.

"You know, just when I think I've got parts of you figured out you go and change the rules."

"What rules?" There's a playfulness in her eyes that tells me she's not confused at all, just interested in what these little rules are.

"Well you shy away from any kind of contact here at work ."

"Have you already forgotten that you practically climbed in my lap in your office?" Sara cuts me off before I've had a chance to finish explaining. With a devilish look in her eyes she continues, "Or did you need a reminder?"

Where is the Sara I thought I knew? We might be alone, but she's never been the type of person to flirt so openly around the labs.

"No. Yes. I mean ." I take a minute to collect my thoughts from their residence in the gutter before I continue, "No I didn't forget. No I don't need a reminder. But I wouldn't object to one either. I mean..."

"I get it. You're saying that you haven't forgotten making out like teenagers and you wouldn't mind if it happened again." Sara steps close again and whispers in my ear, "Or if maybe I picked you up, set you on the table and..."

And she stops there, backing up a few steps to put some space between us. And what? God damn.

"That. See. Changing the rules." She just stands there smiling. Good god I can't even look at her right now without feeling intense desire. "This thing, whatever we're doing, I know it began just yesterday, but remember how I said mixed signals? I'm not used to you being so overtly flirtatious."

"It's kind of new to me too," Sara says softly.

For someone who says she's new to being this flirtatious, she certainly is damn good at it. My body responds to her words more than it has to actions of previous lovers. Hearing that she wants to pick me up and set me on the table and... Just the memory of those words whispered in my ear makes my body throb in response.

"I never would have guessed." My response is spoken in a soft tone that matches hers. I raise my voice just a little, returning to the more serious conversation, "You've managed to stay pretty distant with me around the lab, with the exception of behind my closed office door. You're changing the rules on me, flirting like that right here in the middle of the lab."

"We're not exactly in the middle of the lab. Okay we're in the middle of a lab, but this one is a little removed from the rest. Hardly any foot traffic, and no one really comes this way anyway."

"Still ."

"Yeah," Sara says seriously before her face breaks out in a wide grin. "I'm going to blame it all on you. And those jeans."

"Well that settles that. I'm definitely not wearing jeans to work in the near future. Neither one of us will be able to get any work done with you flirting all the time."

"Not my fault I can't resist you," Sara begins laughing to help ease some of the tension between us. Her laughter is contagious and soon I find myself giggling with her.

Part 36

By the time I manage to drag myself away from Sara and make it home another hour has passed. I considered asking her to breakfast, but then decided that with all the flirting we had done throughout the night that maybe some time away from her to cool off would be a good thing. I really wouldn't mind something close to a date with her, but at the same time things are already moving so fast between us. By waiting a little bit I hope to get some of that control back.

Without Lindsey in the house today I decide to forego some of my routine. I skip breakfast, having had dinner during shift, and the house is already pretty clean since Lindsey managed to not make a mess yesterday. I still need to do some laundry and a little bit of grocery shopping before I go to sleep.

Above all else, the first thing I do when I get home is jump into a cold shower. I can remember clearly everything that happened before and after shift ended. My body is so overheated that it takes a good twenty minutes of nearly ice cold showering before I can feel the temperature of my skin cool down to normal levels.

My hair gets tied up in a loose ponytail after my shower and I start some laundry before heading out to do some grocery shopping. One of the things that I discovered to be really nice about working third shift is that routine tasks are much easier now. I remember days when I would have to rush straight to the bank or post office after work, but when your shift ends at 7:00 a.m. you've got all day to get such things done. And sometimes it feels like it takes all day to get those done anyway, so it's a good thing I'm trying to do them with the rush of people that have regular day shift jobs.

By the time I get back home I nearly collapse on the bed from exhaustion. The past few days haven't been the best for my sleeping habits and it catches up with me as soon as I snuggle under the blankets. Once again I find my dreams filled with visions of Sara, but this time they are much tamer and not as distracting. At least I still have some control over my dreams.

I wake up in the early hours of the evening, almost immediately missing the presence of my daughter. It feels like the house is too quiet, too peaceful. Lindsey can be a holy terror to deal with on some days, but I do love her and times like now I regret having her spend time with Eddie.

Since things went south with us I find myself missing out on the company. He was only here half the time, but when he was it was nice to have someone to cook for, someone to watch movies with and cuddle with on the couch.

It occurs to me that Sara could be someone to share these things with. And the thought that follows saddens me.

What if Sara isn't prepared to be in a relationship with someone who has a child? I can't afford to be careless about relationships and if Sara can't handle Lindsey and I as a pair, then whatever we have started needs to end. And soon because I find myself drawn to Sara more and more with each passing hour.

Suddenly slightly depressed about things and with hours left before work starts I find myself calling my sister to see if it's okay to stop by for a little while.

Nancy and I are close, but not really as close as I'd like to be. Quite some time ago, in a darker period of my life, we drifted quite far apart. Since I pulled my head out of my ass and realized what it means to have my sister so close I've tried to repair things between us. It's been a long process and we're nowhere near as close as we once were. I'm just glad that even after everything I've done she's still willing to be there for me when I need her.

Without her aid there's no way I'd be able to do the job I do and work the hours I put in. If I need someone to watch Lindsey all I have to do is call and minutes later she is there for me. It's something that I've begun to realize I take advantage of.

When I get to her house, she greets me with a hug and a cup of steaming cocoa waiting. It's been so long since we've done something like this that I forgot about the cocoa. Whenever I needed someone in my life to simply be there, whether I talked about the problem or not, Nancy would always be there with a warm cup of cocoa to ease the problems out of me. We settle in the breakfast nook of her house with warm cocoa and extra marshmallows. Nancy lets me sit in silence for close to a half hour, simply refilling the cup when necessary.

"So are you going to tell me what's been going on lately, or am I going to have to go to the store for more cocoa and marshmallows?" She kidding with me, but there's a note of seriousness in her voice.

"You might need more cocoa," I tell her.

While I'm not sure if I want to open up, I know that I need to. And it's not that I think I'm going to need the comfort of the cocoa, but I think she might. She's always seen me through the worst of times, even when I didn't want her there. But this is different. I don't know what her opinion would be about me dating a coworker. A woman coworker for that matter. And the fact that this is something that could cause a rift between us certainly bothers me.

"That bad, huh?" Her hands wrap around the cup in front of her, much like mine.

"It could be." I seem to find the melting marshmallows swirling around in my cup completely enthralling.

"Eddie?" She asks quietly.

Eddie is always her first guess. And given the things that I've been through with Eddie, he would be my first guess too. Surprisingly, I've barely thought about Eddie over the past few days. He always lingers in the back of my thoughts, his connection to me is permanent.

"Actually no." I look up at her and the expression of surprise on her face is one I expected.

"Work?" This is always her second guess. Also not surprising considering there is little time in my life for anything but work and Lindsey.

"Sort of," My answer intrigues her.

Nancy sets her cup of cocoa on the counter before asking, "How is it sort of? Is it a case?"


"You know this is a lot easier if you talk in sentences longer than two words," she might be kidding with me, but I know it's her gentle way of telling me to start talking. "So if it's not a case, but it's got something to do with work, that means it's someone at work."



"And I think I might start dating someone at work." Again the melting marshmallows seem to fascinate me. This cup of cocoa is fast going cold, but that's okay because once I start talking the cocoa usually goes forgotten.

"Cath that's great!" Well I wasn't expecting her response to be that enthusiastic. "Oh, I just bet it's that tall, dark and handsome guy. What'd you say his name was again? Warrick I think it was."

"Uh. No. Not Warrick." I'm just going to forget that she described someone I consider a close friend tall, dark and handsome. Warrick is all of those things, but it feels almost weird to hear those words from my sister.

"The older guy? Your boss?"

"It's not Gil either." Soon she's going to run out of coworkers and I'll have to tell her who it really is. The fact that I don't know how she'll handle it scares me since she's become such an important part of my life.

"Oh. The young, studly Texan. He's a little young, but I can imagine he'd be a lot of fun."

God, she did not just say that about Nick. I think I'll choose to forget that too.


"Catherine Willows. Fess up already. I don't know that many people that you work with and I'm already out of guesses."

Here goes nothing.

"It's uh. Well. Sara. It's Sara."

I didn't know how she would react to this news; I thought maybe she'd curse, or yell, or at least make some sound of shock. Instead the only thing I can hear is complete and total silence.

Part 37

I'm afraid to look at her. I don't know what I'll see when I finally move my eyes away from her table. I know she's shocked, but will she be disgusted? Will she tell me to leave her house now and never come back? Will she get angry?

I know that Jeremy is in the living room playing video games, but I can't hear anything other than the sound of my own beating heart. I should be able to hear the sounds of the neighborhood; the cars driving down the road, the teenagers next door raucously playing basketball, the sound of power tools down the block from someone who is renovating their home.

Silence is suffocating. I'm beginning to have trouble breathing. Maybe this is what a panic attack feels like. I seem to be rooted to the chair even though my instincts tell me to run. My hands are shaking and I let go of the cup I'm holding before I break it.

I don't know how long I sit here, listening to the thud of my heart against my chest. Eventually a hand falls on my shoulder, prompting me to look in the direction of my sister. My fear must be plainly written across my face.


Her voice is filled with concern, but I think I'll just wait until she says something further. I'm surprised at how scared I feel to be having this conversation. I'm an adult and I can make my own decisions, but I rely quite heavily on the love and support of Nancy.

"So when do I get to meet Sara?"

Well that certainly wasn't on the list of questions I'd thought she would have for me.

"Uh ."

"Well I have to meet her sometime. Make sure she's good enough for you, you know," Nancy says with a smile.

"And you're okay with this?" With all my fears and nervousness I can't help but be shocked that her response is a simple request to meet Sara.

"I guess," and when I look at her confused she explains a little more, "Well I'm not going to say that I understand, because I'm not sure that I do. And I am a little worried about the impact that this is going to have on your life. But I'm your sister, and the only thing I really want for you is to be happy. You deserve happiness just as much as anyone else and if she makes you happy then that is what really matters."

It's a vague response, but it seems mostly positive. I can handle that for now. "Impact?"

"Well, for starters you're either going to have to keep this a secret from Eddie or be honest with him and tell him. And you know that he's going to respond one of two ways."

"Tell me he won't allow me to raise my daughter." I say slowly. It's not something I like to think about, but if he finds out, there's a good possibility that he'll be a big enough asshole about it that he'll try to get custody of our daughter.

"Or he'll be a cocky bastard and forever remain convinced that he was so good that dating no man would compare," Nancy barely kept a straight face as she spoke, and be the time she finished the sentenced she was bursting with laughter.

"Oh I can see that now. He'll add an extra swagger to his step and think he really is god's gift to women." I find myself laughing right a long with her, and it feels good. I'm glad she didn't seem to freak out over this.

"My advice, not that you asked for it or anything, is to not tell him." Nancy grabs both the cups of cocoa and heads into the kitchen to dump the cold contents and get us both refills.

"He'll find out eventually. I can't keep my life secret form him."

"I'm not talking about forever. Yes, he will find out. But that doesn't mean he needs to know right away. Listen, you said you were thinking about dating her, right?"

"Yeah," I answer.

"Well that means you haven't really gone on an actual date yet. And that means that Lindsey probably doesn't know about this yet, right?"

"Not yet." There's another little talk I'm not looking forward to. I've been living in denial that I need to have the sex talk with my daughter. I like to think that she's too young for that sort of thing.

"So you should be able to keep this from Eddie as long as Lindsey doesn't know. And there's no reason for her to know until 'thinking about dating' actually becomes 'dating'."

Well she kind of has a point there. But really I've done more than think about dating Sara. Making out in my office twice is a little more than thinking. And the near spontaneous combustion at the Plams also seems to indicate that this is more than just thinking. Thinking, kissing, touching, reacting.

Nancy is now sitting next to me, with two more cups of cocoa steaming on the table. I don't know how long I've been sitting here, but it becomes clear from the look on Nancy's face that I lost myself in my thoughts for a while.

"So maybe this is more than thinking, huh?" As usual, Nancy gets directly to the point.

"Uh," I can feel the blush of embarrassment once again.

"Well that answers that question," Nancy says with a smirk. "But you haven't actually been on a date with her, right?"

"Does dinner in the middle of shift with one of the detectives count?" I'm trying to use humor to get past my embarrassment.

"No. That doesn't count. So what gives? Why no date yet?"

She's handling this so well I'm almost afraid to keep the conversation going. As if at some point the reality of what we are discussing will hit her and she'll freak out.

"It's kind of a new thing. I haven't asked her yet."

"Well why not?"

"Did you miss the part where I said this was a new thing?" I can't help but smirk at her.

She doesn't care that this is a new thing, she wants to know the real reason I haven't asked Sara about a real date. But I'm not sure I know the answer.

"No, smartass, I didn't miss that part. But it's never stopped you before. So what's so different this time?"

God, she's pushy. "You're pretty pushy you know."

"I know," Nancy says with a smile. "But you love me anyway. And, assuming you're not talking to the boys at work about this, you don't have all that many friends you can talk to right away. Maybe we'll figure things out together. So start talking."

I'm mildly bothered by the fact that she can pick up so easily on the things that bother me. And that she keeps pushing to get me to talk about them. She knows that talking to her always makes me feel a slight bit better, and that talking to her also helps me figure out where all the disjointed thoughts in my head are leading me.

Sometimes I just need to say things out loud and Nancy usually lets me do that with her, even if she doesn't always understand what I'm talking about. Of course, it doesn't help that I don't always know what I'm talking about.

And I think this is one of those times. I don't know if I can explain how Sara makes me feel, what it is that's so different about this than every other relationship I've had. All I know is that I want the chance to see where this is going to go because part of me thinks it could be really great.

Part 38

"I hate it when you're right." I sigh heavily before continuing, "I can't really explain why things are different this time. They just kind of are."

"That's a lousy explanation."

"Yeah. I know. But it's hard to explain something that I don't understand."

"So don't try to explain it. Just tell me what's going on." Nancy is simply being patient with me, waiting for me to find the words.

"Well, there's this girl," I start.

"I kind of already know that part," Nancy says.

"Yeah but you want to know what's going on and since I don't where to start, you'll just have to listen to all of it," I'm tempted to stick my tongue out at her for interrupting. I think the gesture would go well with the cocoa I'm drinking, and the general feeling I have of being childish right now.

"Okay. So tell me about the girl then," Nancy sips from her cocoa and leans back to hear the story.

"I'm not sure what you'd like to know about her. She's beautiful. Tall, dark hair, deep brown eyes, an absolutely adorable gap between her two upper front teeth. Long legs, strong arms ."

"Okay, I get it. She's gorgeous. Moving on."

I get the feeling that Nancy is a little uncomfortable listening to me describe the physical attributes of my latest love interest.

"Strength. Inner strength. I don't really know a lot about her life before she moved to Vegas, and I don't really know a lot about her even after she moved here. But she radiates inner strength. Something tells me that she's been through a lot and it's this strength that keeps her going and makes her the person she is.

"She's incredibly smart. A physics major, I think, from Harvard. But I don't really think she uses that much physics knowledge in our work, I think her intelligence comes from experience and an innate need to constantly be learning new things."

"Harvard, huh? Must be a brilliant mind hiding in there somewhere. But then again, if she's interested in you ."

Nancy is only kidding, but I give her a good smack on the arm anyway. "Oh shut it. You asked, you know."

"Yeah yeah yeah. Should've kept my mouth shut, huh?" Nancy quickly slides out of reach before I can smack her again. "So she's beautiful and intelligent. I get that. What is it that makes her so different?"

"I really don't know. There's a pain in her eyes that makes me want to hug her and tell her everything will be allright. But I can't make things better for her, whatever it was happened in the past and I can't change that. But she makes me want to.

"I can't be too forward. I get the feeling that it needs to be her that sets the pace with whatever is happening between us. And I want it so bad that I let her. I lost control over what's happening and it kind of scares me."

"Ah. So the truth comes out," Nancy smiles at my confusion. "You're just a closet control freak. Have to be in control all the time."

She's kidding. I can tell by the smile on her face and the laughter in her voice. But there is some truth to her statement. There isn't much in my life that I have control over, but I've almost always been in control of the romantic side of my life. The few times I wasn't led to pain and hurt; some of it much, much deeper than simple heartache.

"You might be just a little right about that," I tell her. Returning to the less serious side of things, "Damn it. When did you get so smart, anyway?"

"I've always been this smart. You just don't always listen to me," Nancy laughs as she responds.

"Right again."

Our conversation shifts to things less important until it is time for me to head to work. I watched as she put Jeremy to bed, and he was sweet enough to ask for bedtime hugs and kisses from me before he would go willingly. For a kid his age I was surprised at the gesture. Of course, Nancy could have made him do it and I would be none the wiser, but it was still sweet of him.

My conversation with Nancy didn't alleviate all my fears, and I didn't really expect it to. But it is great to know that she isn't going to freak out if things move forward with Sara and I. I really was worried that she would have problems with this new relationship and though I am an adult and can do whatever I want, it helps to have her support.

The drive to work is shorter from Nancy's house than it is from mine and I find myself in the lab a little earlier than usual. I grab a cup of coffee, the graveyard shift's lifesaver, and sit at a table in the break room reading the evening edition of the Sun. Gradually, the rest of the night shift starts showing up and I give up the paper so that Nick can read the sports pages.

"Hey Catherine," Warrick says sitting next to me.

"Long time no see Warrick," I kid with him. I saw him at the start of yesterday's shift but lost him sometime after that.

"Hot leads, cases to solve. You know how it is," He says with a smile. "So how's your little girl doin'?"

Warrick has always been real good about asking how Lindsey is, constantly worried that the blow-ups between Eddie and I will affect her.

"She's at Eddie's for the next few days. I'm sure she's living off boxed dinners and fast food, but she's good."

"Poor kid. Eddie should at least learn how to cook," Warrick says with a smile. He knows just as well as I do that Lindsey just loves eating with her dad because he doesn't force her to eat things like vegetables.

"He does know how to cook, or at least he thinks he does. His idea of a home cooked meal is ordering from that Mom-and-Pop diner down the street from his apartment."

Nick looks up from the paper and smiles, "Hey that's my idea of a home cooked meal too. Something wrong with that?"

"Oh please. Cooking isn't exactly rocket science. Doesn't take much to make sure you get a few food groups in one meal. And no," I say pointing directly at Nick, "I don't count grease, potato chips, and soda as food groups."

"You misjudge me," Nick says, faking a hurt look. "My food groups happen to include Chinese, Mexican, and Italian takeout. Oh and alcohol, not soda."

Nick and Warrick both practically double over in laughter as I shake my head. Boys.

Gil walks in just as the boys are catching their breath.

"Assignments are up," Gil says handing slips to Warrick and Nick. I wait patiently for him to hand one in my direction and look at him confused when nothing comes my way. "We've only got those two cases for right now. And rumor has it that you're real close to finishing up on that old lady from the desert. Thought I'd give you a chance to clear that."

"How do you know we're close to finishing up on that one?"

"Sara told me before she took off with Brass earlier," Gil says as if I should already know this.

"Took off with Brass? Where to?" Secula is the detective on our case, and I can't think of a reason she would have passed this off to Brass.

"Down to the jail. Apparently something came up last night while she was going over evidence from an earlier case and she and Brass went to go see a suspect. Something about his teeth. I'm not exactly sure what."

Part 39

I'll admit I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get a chance to see Sara before she took off with Brass. I'm also a little intrigued about what she came up with that made it necessary for her to take a trip down to the jail.

With no new case to head out on, I top off my cup of coffee and go to my office. I don't seem to have Detective Secula's pager number anywhere so I call the PD offices and have them page her for me. She calls me back a few minutes later.

"Willows," I answer my phone.

"You paged?" The familiar voice of the detective responds.

"Yeah. I was wondering if you had a chance to get the LUDs from the Palms."

I can hear the shuffle of papers before she responds, "Yeah. The manager was gracious enough to let us get them without a warrant."

"Will wonders never cease," I mumble. Normally we'd have to get a warrant and then wait for the phone company to actually hand them over.

"Apparently the phone company is more easily persuaded by the person responsible for the bill rather than a pesky little warrant," Secula laughs.

"Have you had a chance to look at them yet?" I ask. Having the LUDs is one thing, actually having the time to give them at least a once-over is another.

"Yup. And I even picked up a few other things while I was at it."

"Like what?" I'm definitely intrigued by the way she's telling me what's going on.

"Seems like Junior has had a cell phone for quite a few years. So long, actually, that when he first got it Daddy had to sign the contract papers because Junior wasn't old enough to do it himself. I got James Senior to make a few phone calls this morning and I've got a recent phone bill from the cellular company."

"And what else? You said you had a few things ." I let the sentence hang in the air, knowing she'll pick up on what I'm asking about.

"Well not only did Junior get a cell phone before he was old to sign the contract himself, he also got a credit card. Dad made a call and had the finance company fax me the latest purchases on Junior's Visa."

"So I take it there's something interesting about the credit card bill." If there wasn't she wouldn't bother mentioning it.

"Junior is apparently missing a few brain cells if he thought we wouldn't come across this, but he used his credit card to purchase round trip tickets to Vegas. I called the airline to get the passenger manifests, but I haven't heard back from them yet."

"Can't work miracles all the time, Secula," I tell her laughing.

She's done damn good, being able to get this much evidence so quickly. I barely expected her to have the LUDs, much less a credit card and cell phone bill. Airlines like to take their time at getting passenger manifests and I'm not at all surprised that she doesn't have those yet. But it helps immensely to know that he bought the tickets.

"Miracles. Right." Secula snorts.

"Well you've done great at getting what we'll need so far, and it might not be a water-into-wine miracle, but getting cooperation out of some of those people can be considered a minor miracle. And I'm really surprised that James Senior isn't trying to cover for his son somehow. He's seems pretty willing to put the kid behind bars."

"I think he's more than a little upset that his son is even a suspect. He told me he'd do whatever was necessary to see the person who did this to his mother put behind bars, whether it was his son or not."

"Ah. So you're playing off the anger," I kid with her and the laughter in my voice makes it clear.

"I might be," Secula says seriously, "but I do what has to be done. I'm interested in putting this kid away, and I'll play on the anger if I have to. At least I know I'm doing everything I can."

"Sounds fine to me." Sensing some issues with that part of the conversation, I quickly slip back to the actual reason I wanted to talk to her, "So, about those LUDs ."

"Right. Well the hotel got a call from the same area code of the Nesbit's home town, they patched that call through to Nesbit's hotel room. I asked the Nesbits about the telephone number that the call came from and it turned out to be the kid's cell phone. And that's how I ended up with the kid's cell phone records."

"Anything interesting on the cell phone record?"

"Oh yeah."

"Well are you going to tell me?"

"Just making sure you're still paying attention. Either this kid is incredibly stupid, or incredibly smart. I haven't decided which. His smart move was paying extra money for what the cellular company calls 'detailed billing'. Always good to know exactly what you're paying for, you know."

"And what was the stupid thing?"

"Actually it's the same thing. The detailed billing that this company provides lists a coded location of the tower that every outgoing phone call gets routed through. I don't know why they would bother with that, but boy am I glad they do."

"He called from Vegas didn't he?" God what a dumbass. Why not just find a pay phone?

"He sure did. The location code is a combination of letters and numbers; letters for the state it is in, and a series of numbers to identify the actual address of the tower. I called and spoke with a tech at the company and learned that Junior could have been anywhere within 15 miles of the tower his phone connected to."

"Where was the tower?" I ask, mostly because I can tell that she wants me to. Knowing that he called from Vegas is good enough for me.

"The tower is about seven miles from Grandma's home."

"Thank goodness for detailed billing. Sure cleans that up rather nice."

"I'm almost scared of how it easy was to track down where he called from. I had no idea you could do that."

"That makes two of us."

It's not exactly GPS or anything, but knowing that your location when you make a phone call, on a cell phone, can be tracked within fifteen miles is almost frightening. It's great for our job, but kind of scary to know that you can find someone so easily if you know who to call and what questions to ask.

"You got any other minor miracles for me?"

"Only one."

"And that would be?"

"Junior's back in town. The boys back home shoved him on a plane and he's been sitting down in holding at the jail for a couple of hours. I've been waiting to hear from you guys before I go down and talk to him."

Part 40

I tell her I'll be there in twenty and she simply says she'll see me when I get there. One last look at the flowers still on my desk and I take off the jail with a smile on my face.

The drive is short, the jail is only about five miles from our labs. Of course, in Vegas traffic that means it takes me fifteen minutes to get there. I'm a little early, having told Secula I'd be there in twenty. I show the girl at the desk my CSI identification and she pushes a button under her desk, unlocking the door and allowing me into the jail. Secula is waiting down the hall outside an interview room.

"Where's our good friend Sara?" Secula asks with a smile when she sees me approach.

"Actually, she's around here somewhere. Catching up on the good times with a suspect in another case."

"That's a damn shame. I was hoping for a chance to irritate the two of you again." A big grin spreads across her face as she speaks.

"That's not likely to happen. At least not tonight. She's off playing with Brass."

"Well that's not nearly as fun as the two of you. In fact, even the thought kind of gives me the willies," Secula scrunches up her face. "You ready to talk to this kid?"

"Has he said anything yet?"

"Nah. He's playing dumb."

"How'd you get the boys back home to get him down here so fast?"

Secula shrugs, "Flirted a little with the boys back in his home town. They were more than happy to help a little lady like me catch the big bad murderer."

I can't help but laugh at the tone she uses as she speaks. Secula rolls her eyes but joins me in laughing for a minute.

"He got an attorney?" I ask once we've both stopped laughing.

"Nope. Waived."

"Been Miranda'd?" I assume that he had, but I don't want to step foot in that room if he hasn't.

"Yup. Right before he gave up his right to counsel." Secula smirks.

"Does he know what we have on him yet?"

"He hasn't heard anything from me. He may have heard something from the cops back home, but I doubt it."

"Well then let's lay it all out for him and see what he has to say."

Secula holds open the door for me and follows me into the interview room. Angie was right. The kid sitting on the table could easily be lost in a crowd on the UNLV campus. There's nothing about him that really sticks out in any kind of way. Short, cropped, dark hair. Tan from too many hours in the sun; muscles built from athletics and a little spare time lifting weights. A white ball cap with a perfectly curled bill sits on the table in front him.

"You're Junior?" I ask, setting some files in front of me and sitting across from him. Secula remains standing at the edge of the room, arms crossed in front her, taking the 'intimidating cop' stance.

"Call me James, please. Only my father and his wife call me Junior."

He emphasizes the words 'his wife' with a little disgust, plainly showing that he doesn't really like her. "Right. James. I'm Catherine Willows from the crime lab. I think you've met Detective Secula."

James nods.

"You know why you're here?" I ask him.

"Not really. My father says that Grandma passed away."

"Is that all you know?" I ask, trying to determine how much he's been told.

"That's about it."

"You're grandmother was murdered," Secula says from her corner of the room.

James makes an effort to look upset, but he fails miserably. Lindsey looks more distraught when she watches Bambi.

"Really," he asks softly. I guess he's hoping that we'll fall for his little act.

"Yeah. You think the Las Vegas police paid for your ticket down here just to tell you that she passed away?" Secula says sarcastically as she moves closer to the table.

"Well I don't really know, so why don't you enlighten me?" Junior's anger is starting to show.

"You sure you don't want to just skip this part and go ahead and tell us why you killed her?" Secula pulls a chair out and sits next to me.

"You think I killed her?" Junior snorts in laughter.

"We don't think, James. We know," I tell him.

"Whatever you think you know, you're wrong. I didn't kill her." He reaches on to the table and grabs the ball cap, nervously squeezing the bill.

"Did you know Angie saw you at the airport when you arrived?"

Junior flinches a little, but tries to recover, "What was she doing a the airport today?"

"Not today James. She saw you when you came into town four days ago." I explain.

"This is the first time I've been to Vegas," Junior tells me. "I was at home four days ago."

"Can you prove that?" Secula asks him.

"I doubt it. I was home alone."

"Oh come on James," I say, making it clear that I don't believe him. "You really expect the two of us to believe that a kid your age, with his parents out of town, wasn't out partying and having a good time?"

"At the very least you would have been at the bars, or had a party or something. No kid your age stays at home all by himself," Secula adds.

"You can believe whatever you want, but I'm telling you I wasn't here."

It's obvious the kid is lying. I know it, Secula knows and James knows it.

Part 41

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