DISCLAIMER: "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and other related entities are owned, trademarked, and copyrighted by Anthony E. Zuiker, Jerry Bruckheimer Television, CBS Worldwide Inc., Alliance Atlantis Corporation, CSI Productions and CBS Productions. This is fanfiction and is written purely for the enjoyment of fans, and the author acknowledges that no profit is made from the writing and/or distribution of said writing.
SPOILERS: 'Lady Heather's Box', 'Crash & Burn' and 'Playing with Fire'.
SERIES: The 'Un'-titled Series - sequel to Unmasked.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Amy Jo

Part 16

"Hi. Sorry to keep you waiting. So, what can I do to help the Las Vegas Crime Lab?"

He hasn't said much yet, but taking in my surroundings and watching the body language of these two, the first thing I find myself thinking is that Mr. McCormick is a pompous ass. That's probably not the most impartial opinion. But I do notice that Mrs. McCormick seems to stand just behind her husband, implicitly giving him the lead in the conversation and that when he talks it isn't 'How can we help,' but 'How can I help'. As if Mrs. McCormick isn't there at all.

"You could tell us about your relationship with Croix Richards." Gil tells the pair.

It's her driver's license we saw, her credit card that was used, but it's Mr. McCormick that answers, "Well, I hired Croix Richards to dominate Rebecca. Would you like a chocolate?"

Mr. Richards has barely spoken the words before Rebecca turns to find the candy, effectively showing the submissive role she plays. He dominates the conversation and it seems he dominates her actions, at least when he is in her presence. How do people live in relationships like this? What ever happened to this woman's sense of self?

When Rebecca returns with a tray of chocolates I politely decline, but Mr. McCormick eagerly takes a small piece before continuing with his explanation.

"I guess you could say that Mr. Richards worked for me. We were hoping that he might ease some of Rebecca's sexual difficulties."

I think Rebecca's only sexual difficulty is that she lets this man walk all over her and control everything she does. I guess if that's what she's wants, there's no harm in that.

"Extra-marital sex to help your relationship problems?" I ask confused.

Theoretically marriage is about monogamy, your love and passion for one person. I've seen a lot in my day and I can truthfully say that sex outside the marriage hasn't helped any relationship I've seen. It only helps if you're looking for a way out.

"The problem wasn't with our relationship, it was with my wife's lack of experience."

"Which Mr. Richards helped you with?" Even Gil doesn't seem to understand how that would help.

Rebecca takes her cue from the look Mr. McCormick gives her and answers, "Yes."

Rebecca steps away to return the chocolates to their little alcove in the wall and from the slight hesitation in her step and the look that crosses her face, I think Mr. Richards may have given Rebecca more 'experience' than her husband knows about.

"First over the internet, then we met with him a few times."

"We?" Gil asks.

Mr. McCormick responds, "Yes. I participated in the sessions, yes."

Ah. That explains a lot. His wife's inexperience my ass. He's nothing but a cheap voyeur. Probably got his kicks watching some other man treat his wife like shit. From the smirk on his face I'd say he had a real good time watching his wife learn to be a trained woman with no sense of her own self worth in his presence.

"And these sessions were held at Lady Heather's?"

"Yes. Lady Heather thought it would be best if I was involved. I'm sure secrets would have made the problem worse at that point."

I thought the problem was sexual inexperience, not anything to do with their relationship itself. If he was concerned about secrets, that's not really a sexual problem.

"Mrs. McCormick did you meet Trey Buchman at Lady Heather's?" I make sure to address the question to her, but she looks to her husband and he decides to answer for them.

"I'm sorry, who?" Mr. McCormick asks. Too bad I didn't ask him if he knew Trey, I asked her.

Grissom tells him, "He worked for Lady Heather as well. He's also dead."

"Oh. I don't know who Trey Buchman is." Mr. McCormick says, as if it weren't already obvious.

"Your wife does." Gil tells him.


"I met Trey on Lady Heather's website. Our encounters were only online." Rebecca directs her response to her husband, rather than us.

On the way over here Gil filled me in on why Mrs. McCormick looked familiar. Apparently she was waiting for Trey in a hotel room at the Tangiers. While it's possible that her only encounters with him so far had been online, she was about to cross that line and make their encounters much more than online domination. From the way Gil described things, domination was not going to be the name of the game at the hotel, not like it would have been at Lady Heather's or even online.

"And the night you and I met at the Tangiers?"

This is definitely news to the husband. He looks at Rebecca for an answer and I notice the look in his eyes; it's one of quiet rage. He's obviously ticked off that she made a date without his knowledge. I think secrets just made the situation worse for Rebecca.

"Croix was fun. I wanted more experience," she uses her husbands words against him, "Variation. I made a date with Trey; he never showed up."

The husband's idea of expanding their relationship by adding to his wife's sexual experience has just blown up in his face. Looks like he assumed that he would always be a part of her new experiences and didn't expect to hear that she wanted something that didn't involve him. And he's not at all happy with the way she's doing things without him now.

Sensing that we have taken enough of their time and that they definitely have things they need to talk about without Gil and I present, I tell Rebecca that we're going to need comparison samples from her. Mr. McCormick grabs the tray of chocolates from behind Rebecca and she visibly stiffens as he gets closer. Whatever is going to happen after Gil and I leave this house is not going to be pretty.

"Rebecca will give you anything that you need," he says as he leaves the room without so much as a word or glance in the direction of his wife.

We get our samples and leave the McCormicks to their arguments. It's obvious, to me anyway, that Mr. McCormick is a control-freak. He needs to be the person to run everything in his life and any person who changes an aspect of his life without his knowledge or permission will be dealt with. He may have thought that going to Lady Heather's would teach him how to extend that same control into the personal relationship with his wife, but he seems to have forgotten some of the finer points.

For most a dominant/submissive relationship remains largely sexual; Mr. McCormick was even quick to point out that he and his wife didn't have relationship problems, only sexual ones. Someone might be willing to wear a dog collar and be treated as less than human for sexual gratification, but that doesn't always extend outside the bedroom. Outside the sexual relationship, people still have the basic need to be in control of their own lives; to be the one that calls the shots, no matter what their sexual role may be.

The relationship between Rebecca and her husband is tricky. He has taken what was, even according to him, something that was purely sexual and tried to make it something that extended to every aspect of their relationship. She seems willing to let him dominate her, but only so much. He doesn't have the control over her life that he thinks he does and this upsets him.

She allows him to speak for the both of them as though his word were really their word. But she still wants control over her own life. He opened her up to these experiences and now she wants to have some of them without him.

Part 17

The ride back to the lab was relatively quiet, Gil lost in his own thoughts and theories of the case and barely pausing his thinking to share them. I have a few of my own theories, but not really the energy to get into them with Gil.

It's easy to conclude that the McCormicks are somehow tied with the deaths of Croix Richards and Trey Buchman. Exactly how, I'm not sure. It seems unlikely that Croix would have his lady clients in his own apartment, he did set up various hotel rooms and times for those appointments. And Gil and Warrick first came across Rebecca McCormick in Trey's hotel room, linking her to both men. I'm not convinced the McCormicks were directly involved in the deaths, but they are a part of this somehow.

Insulin poisoning is a relatively passive form of murder. Men have a tendency to be more personal, more involved in murder. Often male murderers choose weapons that are much more, well, masculine. A gun, a knife, hell even a fist; something that obviously shows their power over the victim. It's not exactly the best reason to believe that Mr. McCormick isn't our murderer, but this job is just as much science as intuition and human nature.

But at the same time I can't find any good reason to think that Mrs. McCormick is directly involved either. Sure, poisoning is more common among female perpetrators, but at this point there doesn't seem to be a reason for Mrs. McCormick to want to kill either of the victims. It appears that at least some of the contact with the men was unknown to her husband. Murder is not a good way to keep secrets.

Back at the lab the hair sample goes to Warrick and the DNA to Greg. I leave them with instructions to page both Gil and I when they get something, anything from the samples.

Gil wanders off to his office, deep in thought or just finally unsure of how he should act near me without the buffer of a case. Not completely sure what to do with myself I head to my office. I'm not really in the mood to deal with all of the sympathetic looks I see as I walk through the halls. I know that people are mostly concerned because it's not all that often that the work we do directly involves one of us; and while I understand that, it doesn't mean that I have to deal with it well.

One look at the lack of work to be done in my office and I decide that I can't stay in here either. I think I might take Gil up on that offer of a little time off, but only long enough to get myself away from here for a while. I'm not looking for weeks, or even days off, just enough time to get away from things around here and see Lindsey again.

Turning out of my office almost as soon as I get there, I head down the hall to Gil's office.

"Hey," I say, trying to get his attention. He doesn't notice right away and I repeat myself.

"Catherine. What can I do for you?" Gil says when he finally notices my presence.

"I think I'm going to take a few hours off. See Lindsey for a little while, maybe get some rest."

"Good," he says as if he expected me to come in here eventually. "I can get Nick and Warrick to handle things here."

"And where are you going?" I try to add a little teasing humor to my voice, but I fail.

"I'll be going out to Lady Heather's. I'd like to learn more about the relationship the McCormicks had with Trey and Croix. They aren't telling us everything."

"And you think Lady Heather will?"

"Yeah, I do."

"Okay. Page me if you need anything, otherwise I'll see you at the start of next shift."

Just as I turn to leave my pager beeps, echoed by the sound of Gil's pager. Looks like Warrick has something he wants to tell us about the hairs.

Warrick has the scope set up with the hair from one of Trey Buchman's hotel rooms and the hair we got from Mrs. McCormick. It's not a definitive match, you can hardly ever get a definitive match with hair samples, but it would seem that Mrs. McCormick was in Trey's hotel room.

"She lied to you guys at the hotel. She lied to us at the house. She's been with him, not just online." It was pretty obvious she lied earlier, but now we've got proof.

"But her husband only knew about the guy he hired, Croix Richards. He had no idea that she hired Trey Buchman," Gil tells the both of us. I hope he's saying that for Warrick's sake, because this isn't news to me.

With a wave at the guys I take off and head towards Nancy's place. I'm tempted to stop in and see Sara, but I decide that it's probably best not too. Part of me really wants to know what's going on with Eddie's case but I know enough about the way Sara works that she'll only be upset if I start asking questions.

I'm not sure if it's a good idea to see her right now anyway. There are a lot of things going through my head right now and I don't know if I can share them with her. Granted, most of what I'm feeling is anger toward Eddie, but the fact that he can still inspire this level of emotion in me is not something I'm prepared to think about, much less discuss with her. She's come to mean a lot to me in the past month and I don't know how she'll react to my disjointed feelings.

This time when I leave the lab and head over to Nancy's I take the quicker route, managing to get to her place in less than twenty minutes. Lindsey is awake and playing in the backyard with Jeremy when I get there. For the moment, it doesn't seem like what happened last night has affected her youthful exuberance, and I'm glad. She's too young to feel burdened by life already.

Nancy is moving around the kitchen, I assume cleaning up from breakfast.

"Hey sis," I raise my voice a little, hoping not to startle her too much when she turns around and sees me standing there.

"He-ey," Nancy says without even turning around. "Any news?"

I lean against the doorway and watch as she finishes putting dishes away. "Not much really. I saw Eddie."


"Took a bullet," I tell her.

We don't often discuss work but we've done it a few times when cases got bad for me. I'm glad I have someone outside the lab that I can talk about such things with. My coworkers tend to make everything about science, which is good for work and sometimes good for dealing with the emotional side of things too, but I value the insights my sister sometimes has. More than anything I like to be able to talk about things with her because she can remind me that the work I do is good; that when cases get to me, it means that I'm not just going through the motions, that I'm still human.

"Bad?" Nancy asks.

"Well it killed him," I say with a small laugh, knowing this isn't what she's really asking. "But no. It was probably small caliber. It looked more like a small hole, a defect in his skin, not something that could kill him."

"Is that what really killed him?" Nancy turns to me, finished with her work.

"Don't know absolutely. Doc hadn't even started his work when I went down there. If I had to guess, I'd say the real COD was drowning. But the gunshot certainly didn't help. He was probably in a lot of pain and unable to help himself out of that water."

"Who's on the case? Gil?"

A question I wasn't prepared for. Coworkers are usually something that we don't talk about. Actually until I told her I was going to date someone I work with, Nancy could barely remember their names.

"No. Uh. Sara." I say weakly.

"Sara?" She asks, clearly concerned.

"Yeah." I move out toward the living room, curling up on one end of the couch.

"Well that's great!" Nancy says enthusiastically.

"Why do you say that?"

"She'd do anything for you, you know. She cares a lot about you." Nancy says as if this is something that should be very clear to me. And maybe it should be, but nothing is clear right now.

"How do you know that?" I ask, wondering just where she might have gotten information like this.

"From you," she says and continues when she sees the obviously confused look on my face. "The way you talk about her, the things you tell me about her. The way she treats you. That is, if the information you're telling me is accurate."

I've been sparse in the details I give Nancy about my relationship with Sara, unsure of how well she would handle it. But she noticed the increasing frequency of smiles on my face, and the general happy mood I've been in for the past month. When she asked, I'd give small details, watching her body language and the look in her eyes for clues as to whether I had given too much information.

Unsure of what I really think about what Nancy has just said, I move on to better topics, "How is Lindsey?"

"Lindsey's doing good. She missed you when she woke up this morning."

"Yeah. I kind of thought she would. I don't know how to explain this to her," I say after letting out a heavy sigh.

"Explain what?"

"Everything. Eddie's death. My distance right now when she needs me the most."

"Have you thought about telling her truth?" Nancy asks wisely.

I close my eyes before answering, "What if I don't know the truth?"

Part 18

Lindsey saves me from thinking too much by bouncing in the room and almost immediately wrapping me up in a hug.


"Hi baby," I say as I hold on tight. I wonder if there will be a time when I can hold her like this and be willing to let her go. Right now, I don't think I'll ever be able to let her out of my arms. "You having fun out there with Jeremy?"

Nancy watches us from across the room, a big smile on her face.

"Yeah. You know he's going to get a puppy?" Lindsey says excitedly.

"Is he now?" I look up at Nancy, who nods her head in response to my question.

"Uh-huh. And he's going to let me help take care of him."

"That's very nice of him." I'm talking more to Nancy than to Lindsey, but Lindsey doesn't notice.

"Uh-huh," Lindsey nods enthusiastically. Getting over her excitement about Jeremy getting a puppy, Lindsey turns serious. "I missed you."

"I missed you too baby," I tell her. "I'm sorry I left."

"It's okay," she tells me, still serious.

"It is?" I ask, surprised.

"Yeah. Aunt Nancy told me you needed to find out what happened to Daddy."

I look to where Nancy was standing just a minute ago, but she's gone.

"Did you find out?"

"Not yet baby, but I promise I will." If I squeeze her any tighter, I'm likely to crush her. My little girl, so grown up for her age. I'm proud of her for understanding something I'm not sure I myself comprehend but sad that she's grown up so much.

"Okay." She's quiet for a little before asking, "Is Sara helping?"

I can't tell her that Sara is the only one trying to find out what happened. Lindsey might be able to understand that I need to know what happened to her father, but explaining the ethics of the investigation and how I can't be involved would be beyond that understanding. Not to mention the fact that I need to be doing something, anything, to distract myself from own thoughts about Eddie.

"Yeah, Sara is helping. She's still at work now, trying her best to figure out what happened to your Daddy."

"Good," Lindsey says. "Sara is really smart. She'll know."

"She is really smart, and she's working really hard."

Lindsey finally pulls out of our crushing embrace and settles herself on the couch next to me.

"How come she didn't come home with you?"

It takes me a second to figure out her question, since she reverted back to 'kid-speak'. "Uh. Well. She's still trying to figure out what happened."

"She should have come home with you," Lindsey says with a small nod, as if this is something I should have known.

"Why do you think she should have come home with me?" Sometimes the greatest puzzle in the world is figuring out the way a child's brain works.

"Because. She's probably tired like you," Lindsey tells me and it's clear the days are starting to catch up with me so much that even she is noticing. Almost as an afterthought Lindsey quietly adds, "And she makes you happy."

I decide to make light of the situation, unsure of exactly what Lindsey may think she knows about my relationship with Sara. With a smile I look at Lindsey and say, "You noticed that too, huh?"

"Duh," Lindsey says in a tone I think means 'geez, are all adults this stupid?' "You smiled a lot at dinner. And before the play."

Her voice takes on a note of sadness as she remembers the play. The last memory Lindsey will have of me and her father together is going to be that play. And we couldn't be civil to each other even for her. I feel like the world's biggest fuck-up when I hear that sadness in her voice.

"I'm so sorry about that honey," I could apologize every day for the rest of her life and I still wouldn't be able to express how really sorry I am about that.

"I know."

"You do?"

"Yeah. I know you and Daddy didn't mean to ruin the play."

"No honey, we didn't."

"And besides, next year you can bring Sara and be happy," Lindsey says with typical child enthusiasm.

I wonder if she knows just how happy that would really make me. To sit in the audience with Sara by my side, smiling and encouraging Lindsey. No worries about where Sara might be, because I know she wouldn't miss it, she'd be there for Lindsey and for me.

Lindsey's brow wrinkles in deep thought, "We should do something for Sara."

"You think so?" I find it incredibly odd how her mood changes as quickly as her thoughts. One minute happy, the next a little sad, then back to happy. It takes a lot to keep up with her some days.

"Yeah. You said she was working. And she works a lot, like you. And you said she was working really hard. I think she's probably really tired by now and could use something to cheer her up." Spoken with the wisdom of someone much older than my little girl, but probably a very accurate statement.

"She is. She wants to know what happened just as much as you or me," I tell Lindsey, hoping I'm not wrong about that.

"We should do something nice for her, then."

Surprisingly Lindsey has stuck with this one thought for longer than two minutes. "Okay, honey. I promise we will."

She seems temporarily satisfied with this. "Can I go play with Jeremy some more?"

"Sure honey."

She bounces out of the room almost as excitedly as she bounced in. Once she's gone, Nancy finds her way back into the room.

"So she knows?" Nancy asks and I don't have to think about what she's asking.

A brief memory of embarrassment from when Lindsey first realized Sara and I were more than friends and coworkers colors my skin a deep shade of red. "Yeah she knows."

"Caught you making out, huh?" Nancy says with a smirk.

"Uh. Yeah."

"So how long has she known?" Nancy asks, settling herself in a chair.

"Not long. It was right before the play."

"Oh." There's a note of surprise in her voice.

"I told you we went out dinner, remember?"

"Yeah," she says still smirking.

"Well she needed to get to the lab, and I needed to get Lindsey to her play. But Lindsey had such a great time, and I did too, but it was just so perfect. She was just so perfect. The way she was with Lindsey …" My thoughts drift off and I leave out the details of the kiss we shared.

"And so you couldn't resist a goodnight kiss." Nancy starts giggling.

For some reason I find myself blushing. Nancy might not know the intimate details of my relationship with Sara but there are parts that she does know. And one of those parts is that, yes I have kissed her. It's not that big of a surprise, we've been trying this relationship thing for a little more than a month; certainly by then Nancy has to know that I would have kissed Sara by now. For some reason, this one kiss seems to make me blush as much now that Nancy knows as it did when Lindsey saw us.

"Who could? God, Nancy. She's intelligent, beautiful, charming, and once you get through to her, one of the sweetest human beings I've ever met."

"Sounds like you might love her." Nancy is still smiling, but her tone has turned serious.

Part 19

She knows me to well. To know what I'm feeling and to know just how much that scares me. She also seems to know that I just can't talk about it right now and she shoos me off to her guest room to get some much needed rest.

I lay in the bed for a long while thinking of everything that Nancy and Lindsey have said today. It's a long time before I drift off to sleep and when I do it is a fitful sleep filled with dreams that are ethereal and confusing. Disordered thoughts jumbled together by a restless, unsatisfied unconscious.

Love is an odd emotion. Your entire life you look for that one person to love. To wake up every morning with and to wrap your arms around them before you go to sleep every night. A person to talk to; someone who really understands what you're saying even if you're not sure that you do. Just thinking about this person can make you smile, hearing their name spoken in casual conversation can grab your attention right away. At the end of a long day, knowing that person can make you feel better, make you feel like all the effort you put into what you do is worth it. It's an overwhelmingly fantastic feeling.

But when it goes bad, it can leave unseen scars. When it goes bad you find yourself not just doubting the other person, but doubting yourself too. And wondering just what it was that made that person so special to you that you really did think you would grow old with them and be forever happy. You doubt everything you've ever heard from them, everything they ever did for you, now always wondering if it meant anything at all.

Coming back from that kind of deep hurt isn't easy. It's long road of self-doubt and loneliness. There are people you meet who you think just might be able to take away some of that pain, that maybe what you had before wasn't really love, but rather some deepened feeling of infatuation. Maybe this is the one, maybe this is what it's all about. And then the fear and self-doubt drag you back down until you're alone again.

And I'm staring at that abyss. Do I jump in and experience what may well and truly be love? Or do I let my fears hold me back again, keeping me safe from the deep hurt that seems inevitable? The hurt that I seem to be feeling now from the loss of someone that I truly didn't think still resided in my heart scares me. It shouldn't hurt like this if I don't love him, didn't love him.

I've had only just a small taste of what it would be like to have her in my life. Only a glimpse of what could be and it feels so right. It feels more everything with her; more genuine, more real, and just god damn right. But is what I feel real? Will I end up hurting again?

If I jump into that abyss only one of two things can happen. Sara will be there to catch me, to reaffirm everything I feel in the strength of her arms and gentleness of her caress. Or I will fall in the darkness, having put too much faith in her and be surrounded by the cold and the pain of a broken heart.

One step and I'm over the edge.

My chest clenched in fear, I awaken in a sweat. My heart pounds uncontrollably and my breathing is so erratic I fear I may be hyperventilating. My entire body feels as if it is burning from the inside, but my flesh is cold to the touch. I see goose bumps on my flesh and marvel at how I can feel so hot and be so cold.

The sheets are tangled around my legs, the blankets tossed haphazardly across the bed. The pillows I rested my head on litter the floor, thrown from the bed in the disquiet of my dream. The house is eerily calm when I stumble on weak legs to the bathroom. Even the cold spray of the shower can't seem to cool the fire underneath my skin.

Nancy left a note on the kitchen table telling me she had taken the kids out to dinner while I rested and that she doesn't think they will be back before I leave again. Lindsey scribbled a small 'I love you' on the note and for what seems like the first time in ages I find myself smiling.

When I get to the lab, I am hours early for shift, but it doesn't seem to matter. The halls are filled with busy lab techs and other investigators whose names I will never remember. There is a high energy buzz floating in the air and it almost feels good to be here. I still can't shake the vision of that abyss in my dream, and the lingering fear and doubt that accompanied it.

I search out Gil, assuming that he will have had a chance to speak with Lady Heather and might have news on our case. The halls are once again busy with chatter and people doing their jobs. It feels good to walk through here and not be the object of sympathetic stares. People have moved on, another case has their attention and I am very thankful for that.

Gil doesn't appear to be in his office and I turn around to head to the break room to see if anyone knows where he is before I page him. I wasn't really thinking about where I was headed, having walked this path many times before. Out of the corner of my eye I catch a flash of bright pink and turn to see what in our lab would be that color.

It seems that Sara and Vega are talking with the lady with the pink hair that Lindsey mentioned. They aren't using one of the suspect interview rooms, but a more casual space. There's still a one-way looking into the room, allowing me to eavesdrop on the interview without anyone inside the room knowing I'm there.

Sara says something about talc as the girl rubs at her eyes. Vega explains that they know that the girl saw Eddie last night and that they know she was driving the car. God, was it really just last night? So much has happened, so much time has passed that it couldn't have really been just last night.

"It all happened so fast, you know? One minute I was just outside getting some air and thinking, you know? And then the next my manager is stumbling towards me, bleeding."

Manager. She didn't call him Eddie, she just called him her manager. And if he was bleeding at the studio or wherever they were, why didn't she just call an ambulance? She's lying about something. Hiding something; not telling everything that happened.

The girl goes on tell Sara and Vega how Eddie told her she was shot and how she helped him to the car, apparently to take him to the hospital. She says she turned to Lindsey and reassured her everything would be okay. Even I can hear the sarcasm in Sara's voice when she tells her how heroic that was.

Wavering a little bit, the girl goes on to explain, "Not really. When you're intimate with somebody, you can't imagine life without them. We were partners. I loved him. I thought I was going to die."

Right. She loved him. But she's only mentioned him by name once. And they were going to die, not just her. Eddie and Lindsey were both in trouble, and she abandoned both of them just to save her own skin. It was a mistake for me to come in here and listen to this; the anger I feel toward this girl is increasing with every false word she says. I should turn and walk away, but I can't. This is the only person who knows what happened.

Sara points out that there were other people in the car as well and the girl quickly corrects herself to say that she thought they were all going to die. Vega points out that Eddie was found one hundred yards downstream; the girl doesn't even flinch.

"See, that's where it gets a little less heroic." I don't think anyone in that room notices, but there is quite a bit of anger in Sara's voice as she continues, "We found Lindsey alone in a sinking car."

I found Lindsey alone in a sinking car. Not a rescue team, not a CSI crew, not a police officer. Me. Her mother. I had to save my little girl when this girl decided to just leave her there. Residual fear from last night mixes with my anger. I know I need to walk away from this right now before I do something stupid, something I will regret. My legs don't seem to think I need to go anywhere as they stay firmly planted to the floor.

"I tried to get Eddie out. He was unconscious. And that … that kid kept screaming. And the current was really strong, and we got swept downstream. What was I supposed to do?"

I want to scream, to beat my fists against the glass in front me. She was supposed to save my girl. I shouldn't have been the one to pull her out of that car when this girl was so close. She could have done something, anything to help Lindsey. But she didn't. I doubt she even knows Lindsey's name.

I hear the anger rising in Sara's voice, "Get to a phone. Call the cops, an ambulance. Anything, actually, other than what you did."

"I am just one person. Eddie is my priority, not that … that stupid, screaming little brat."

I lose it. In seconds I'm in that room and in her face. The way she talks about my daughter, my baby, makes bile rise in my throat, but when she actually thinks she didn't do anything wrong by leaving Lindsey there with no chance of help I lose control. I'm yelling at her, I'm threatening her, I'm predicting her death at my hands.

"You even think about my daughter again, I'll kill you," I'm surprised at how easy the words come out. "I'll kill you."

"Catherine." Sara's voice. I'm breaking all kinds of rules right now and I'm sure she wants nothing more than to get me out of this room.

"I will hunt you down and I will put you in the ground."

"Catherine?" Sara repeats.

I'm not moving from this spot on my own. This girl, this bitch, will tell me exactly what happened, and she will tell me everything. I look at her and I see the fear in her eyes. Two more minutes and I will know everything. She might not be willing to tell Sara and Vega what happened, but she knows damn well that I'm serious and she will talk right now. I see it in her eyes.

I'm being pulled back and it takes no small amount of strength to get me to move. I'm determined to stay in this girl's face until she knows exactly what she has done, the mistakes she made and what she nearly cost me.

Sara pushes me out of the room and I can still feel the anger burning through my veins. Now that it's been let loose, I can't seem to control it anymore. I know that my real anger isn't with Sara at all, and yet she is taking the brunt of it for no better reason than the fact that she happens to be standing right here.

"What the hell are you doing? Do you know where you're at right now?" Sara is pissed.

"I've been here a lot longer than you …" I start.

"And you should know better," she snaps back at me.

This is not headed in a good direction and I feel powerless to stop it. The anger is still coursing through my veins and I can't seem to calm down.

"And I wouldn't have to be here if you were doing your job properly."

There's a quick flash of hurt in her eyes before she takes a breath and continues, "There's a difference between me doing my job and you wanting to do it for me. You don't want to get the job done. What you want, right now, is revenge."

And she's right. She's very right. But even that doesn't stop me from taking one last painful stab at her. "You're going to tell me what I want, huh?"

She's angry and frustrated. I think she's even tired. She gives up the argument and brushes me off. "Go home Catherine. Be with your daughter. She's the one that needs you."

With those words she is gone and the only company I have is the miserable feeling settling in my gut. I have just majorly fucked things up; I screwed up on the job and I screwed up with Sara. I knew it was happening even as I was saying the words, and yet once the anger was out it didn't seem to matter that she wasn't the one I wanted to hurt. Only that I hurt someone, as if that could justify my anger or make me feel better. I only feel worse.

Part 20


Fuck fuck fuck.

The miserable feeling in gut combines with copious amounts of regret and I feel as if I could be physically ill at anytime. I let myself get out of control. I should have known better than to do the things I did and say the things I said. What the hell was I thinking?

Threatening a witness. A witness who might be a suspect. And let's not forget I basically told Sara that she can't do her job. That was way below the belt.

In my anger I was looking for answers. Denied the answers I wanted nothing more than an argument. I wanted someone to feel the pain I was in, to fight back with just as much anger. But Sara was too calm for that. And her clam demeanor only made me angrier.

There's a lump in my throat to go with that sick feeling in my gut. I have fucked things up with her. Badly.

Gil is not going to like what I did in that interview room. It's probably better if I own up to my mistakes and just go tell Grissom now. He'll wonder why I didn't come to him if he hears about this from Sara or Vega first. But if I don't calm down a little before talking to him he's likely to get yelled at too, and I don't really need to do that.

I shake my head and start to walk down the hall. Maybe I can get a cup of coffee or something to calm me down. I wonder if Jacqui has any of those cigarettes she thinks none of us know about lying around, I think that would really help calm my nerves. Walking to the break room I realize just how early it is, and that it's likely that no one else on the night shift has even thought about coming in yet.

The coffee pot is empty and I search the cabinets for a filter and some grounds. I get a pot of really bad coffee going and sit at the table. I'm sure I look deceptively normal sitting here waiting on the coffee to brew, but on the inside I'm jumpy. My nerves are still frazzled from my outburst of anger and that sick feeling in my gut has yet to go away.

I'm tempted to leave altogether, but I've already avoided some things and I've discovered that avoidance is not the best way to deal with things. I avoided really thinking about Eddie and what happened. I avoided Sara out of fear that my confused emotions would somehow scare her. I jumped into work hoping the case would distract me from thinking about things, from discovering that maybe part of me still loved Eddie. And if I still loved him, how could I be falling for Sara?

The coffee is done brewing. Actually it's been done brewing for a few minutes now; I just haven't bothered to get up. Guess I didn't need the coffee as much as I thought I did. And that's alright because it truly would have been a bad cup of coffee; not the good stuff Greg spoils us with, and not even half as good as the brand of coffee I buy for home.

I've had time to think and breathe. I feel calmer now and decide to just bite the bullet and page Grissom. I pull my cell phone from its clip on my waist and dial his pager number, sitting back and waiting for his response.

A few minutes later my phone rings. "Willows."

"You paged?"

"I was looking for you. Wanted to see what was happening with our case. You learn anything useful from Lady Heather?" Way to avoid the real issue, Catherine, I chide myself.

"I'm at her place right now," Gil tells me.

Still there? Or just got there? I probably shouldn't ask that. "So you did learn something useful."

"I had Brass get me a warrant on her medical supplies. She's diabetic."

I hate how Gil's voice doesn't reveal just how he knows this information. Sticking with the case, I ask, "You think she had something to do with the deaths of Croix and Trey?"

"I'm just following the evidence, Catherine," Gil sidesteps the question.

"Right," I say with a sigh. Gil is a hard person to read in the first place, but over the phone it's even harder. I can't watch his mannerisms for clues or clearly hear the tone of his voice. "You coming back to the lab sometime?"

"As soon as Brass and I are done here. I think it's better if Brass talks to Lady Heather there."

I notice that he doesn't say that he will be talking with Lady Heather, but rather that Brass will be doing the talking for him. At least now I know the answer to one of the questions I asked him. He does think she was involved.

"Find Warrick to catch up before I get there. Brass and Warrick talked to Mrs. McCormick earlier. I need to finish up here."

And without a sound he is gone. I find it interesting that he thinks Lady Heather was involved. Yeah, there are a lot of coincidences with her in this case, and if she's diabetic that really would point a finger in her direction. But I have a hard time believing she would have good motive.

Trey and Croix may have been selling themselves to clients off her books, but it wouldn't be for an amount of money that she would really care about. She runs a completely legal business and I find it hard to believe she would blur that line for a few extra bucks. I may have only talked with her once, but she's one smart lady and from what I could tell, not a criminal.

Maybe that's why Gil calls me the people person. He jumps on the evidence before asking questions. Maybe if he talked with Lady Heather first he wouldn't need a warrant for her medical supplies. I doubt he'd even have to bring her all the way down here to talk to her. She'd be willing to talk to him right there. But that would seem too personal; here he can be more objective.

I give up trying to figure out what's going on with Gil and leave the break room to find Warrick. I see him right as he's coming out of the locker room, his back turned as he starts to head the other direction.

"Hey Warrick," I say loud enough to get his attention. He turns to look at me and as I step closer I can easily see the concern in his eyes. I wonder if there will be a day after today when he won't look at me like that. "Gil tells me you've got news on the McCormick lady."

"Oh, right," he says. "We brought Mrs. McCormick in after Greg ran the DNA from Trey Buchman's hotel room and matched it to the sample you and Grissom took from her."

"But we already know that she was in Trey's hotel room. That's where you guys found her." Her DNA in a hotel room we already know she was in isn't exactly probative.

"But it makes a difference when the DNA we found is vaginal contribution. She had sex with him and lied to us."

"Wait, didn't you guys find her in the hotel waiting for Trey? So she'd already had sex with him and was just waiting around for him to come back or something?" That doesn't really make a lot of sense.

"Yeah I don't really know why she'd do that. But we've got evidence that she had sex with him. Combine that with her telling you she'd only been with him online and it was enough to pull her in." Warrick says with a shrug.

"Moving on," I say skipping over the fact that someone should have at least asked about that. "What else have you got?"

"Her bank records reflect withdrawals in the same amount of money you found in Croix Richards' closet. And she used to sell insulin for a pharmaceuticals company."

"Now that's interesting." Mrs. McCormick is starting to look much better as our suspect. But then what is Gil doing getting Lady Heather's medical supplies?

"It is. She lawyered up on us after that and we had to let her walk." Again Warrick shrugs.

"So why does Gil want Lady Heather's medical supplies?" I voice my question, wondering if maybe Warrick has an idea what Gil is up to.

"Don't know. He called Brass right after we finished with Mrs. McCormick. Brass said he'd update Grissom when he went over with the papers. I haven't heard from either of them since Brass left."

I look at Warrick and I know now that he's given me the rundown on the case he's going to ask about Lindsey and I. "You want to go get a coffee or something? That sludge in the break room doesn't sound too appetizing right now."

Warrick gives me a knowing smile, "Lead the way."

Part 21

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