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 36

My pager goes off before I can find other ways to embarrass Nancy, and I think she is actually happy to see me called in to work early this time. She won't let me leave without promising her that I will talk to Sara after shift the next morning. Lindsey hears Nancy dragging the promise out of me and is quick to let me know that it would be fine if Nancy took her to school in the morning so that I could have time to talk to Sara.

It's still hard to believe the relative ease with which the most important people in my life are adjusting to changes that seem to have happened so rapidly. I'm not sure if Lindsey really understands the complexity of my relationship with Sara; hell, I'm not sure that I understand it. But that hasn't stopped her from begging lately to have Sara take her back to the Excalibur to see the knights. And if the way Nancy is pushing me to make things right with Sara is any indication, it would seem that she's okay with this latest development in my personal life.

When I leave Nancy's the sun is shinning and the clouds are just starting to roll in but by the time I make it across town to the scene the rain is coming down hard. Gil and Sara are waiting just outside the restaurant; Sara wearing a jacket with the hood up and Gil is graciously holding an umbrella to help deflect more rain. I try not to notice that the way Gil is holding the umbrella forces the two of them to stand close if Sara wants to stay out of the rain.

The physical closeness of Sara and Gil causes a twitch in my jealousy nerve. It doesn't matter that I know Gil will never do anything about the strange tension between them or that I don't think Sara will either; the only thing that matters in that split second is that Gil is standing very close to Sara and a part of me doesn't like it.

Shifting my focus to the scene in front of me, the very first thing I notice is the vast amount of Emergency Services personnel still here. There are four patrol cars, two fire trucks and at least a half-dozen ambulances; broken glass from what used to be the storefront of the bar reflects the multi-colored lights of all the emergency vehicles, lighting up the inside of the bar in flickering shades of red and blue.

There are people standing outside the bar, either just gawking at the scene or they were part of it and are still in shock. Firefighters are still trying to extract the driver of the car; EMTs are everywhere, pushing survivors out on gurneys and checking out people that were able to walk away. The scene is still a rescue, not quite yet ready for us.

Brass is standing just inside the bar talking, or rather responding, rapidly to someone on his cell phone. Gil lowers the umbrella as we step inside and take a look around. Broken glass and bits of wood from the busted tables and chairs litter the floor. The floor is wet from a combination of drinks, rain blowing in from outside, and blood.

Brass gives us a quick rundown of what happened before walking away to continue his conversation. I try not to notice the second twitch of jealousy as Sara recognizes the voice of one of the EMTs and turns her attention to him instead of the scene. My eyes follow Sara as she moves toward an EMT working on a survivor. Hank.

He's not in uniform, or whatever EMTs call the clothes they work in, and it takes me less than a second to know that he was in this bar before the accident. I'm thankful for all the noise surrounding us that covers up the conversation Sara is attempting to have with him. I can tell from her posture that she is surprised to see him here.

Focus on the scene, Catherine. Focus on the scene.

Watching Sara with Hank a dull ache forms in my chest. My plans to talk with her, to see if there is anything still between us have just fallen through. I waited too long, gave her too much time and space because I didn't want to push. I lost her.

Hank rushes past us as soon as the firefighters manage to open the driver door on the car. The elderly woman inside is still alive, though barely. Gil and I watch as Hank and another EMT carefully maneuver the driver onto a backboard and then onto a gurney to be safely rushed to the nearest hospital. I grab my camera and start snapping pictures as Gil takes a look at the interior of the car.

When Gil's phone rings and he walks away from the car to focus on what he is being told over the phone, my attention is diverted to Sara and Hank. As soon as the woman is safely tucked inside an ambulance and speeding toward a hospital one of the EMTs pulls Hank to the side and starts looking at his hand and arm. Hank winces slightly, confirming my suspicion that he was here on his off-time and injured in the accident.

I return to taking pictures of the car, trying in vain to keep focused on finding out what happened here. The front bumper is severely damaged, and the hood of the car is pockmarked with dents. There is glass on the hood and top of the car, which has to be from the front of the bar since the windshield and windows are still intact. Even though the windshield isn't cracked there is a large bloodstain on its surface.

I'm still trying not to notice, but out of the corner of my eye I can see Sara take the splint and tape from Hank's friend and she starts wrapping up his hand and wrist. Finished, Hank walks away and Sara turns to speak with Gil. The concern in her eyes is obvious; or at least it is to me. She isn't just concerned for someone injured working a scene; she's concerned for someone she considers a friend. A close friend.

Sara's body language changes to reflect her emotions; a few months ago I never would have noticed that her stiff posture but slightly hunched shoulders showed her worry and confusion. No doubt she is trying to figure out Hank's presence here and his aloof attitude toward her. I'm not ready to deal with the emotions I can see in her eyes and I remind myself once again to focus on the evidence in front of me.

The first thing I notice is that there doesn't seem to be an airbag. A high-end car like this, even a late model, should have an airbag. The firefighters had cut through the seatbelt to give the EMTs easy access to the body and other than those two cuts the seatbelt appears to be in perfect working order. There's a small pool of blood on the floorboard directly underneath the steering wheel. A few personal effects litter the interior, but otherwise the car is very clean. There is no visible indication of what happened that would make the driver speed through the front of the bar, killing and wounding more than a half-dozen people.

While I'm looking at the interior, Gil has left and Sara has started talking to someone I assume is the manager of the place. I keep my focus on the car and only look up again to see Sara walking toward me. I'm tempted to ask what has come up, but the sudden appearance of a lump in my throat prevents me from saying anything. Reading her body language and getting a close look into her eyes tells me more than I'm ready to admit. I did wait too long to talk to her and lost my chance.

"I'm sorry," she says. "I got wrapped up in ." It seems she doesn't even know what to say.

"Hank." I try to keep any emotion out of my voice, but am not too successful. Luckily, I don't think Sara notices the bitter way I said his name.

Part 37

Work the case, Catherine, work the case. You can think about Sara and … no. Don't think about Sara and him later. Don't think about him at all. Concentrate on the evidence. Put the pieces together and figure out what happened here. Focus.

What was with that look in her eyes? Why did she seem so concerned over someone she insisted was nothing more than a friend, a buddy? There was more to that look than friendly concern.

Fuck. This isn't working.

Sara has already excused herself to go to the hospital and check on the survivors, including the driver. Part of me wonders if she's also going to check in on Hank while she's there. He is a survivor, but I can't help but feel a slight bit of anger that she is going to see him and, I admit, jealousy that she cares so much about him.

I've never known Sara to let something personal interfere with a case, but then again I've never known her to have something personal that could interfere with a case. Except for our tentative relationship when Eddie died. But I'm the one who let my personal feelings hinder that case, not Sara. There's no reason that whatever is going on between Sara and that EMT is going cause a problem. Unless I let it.

I keep taking photographs of the inside of the bar as I wait for Warrick. Glass and chips of wood litter the floor. Puddles of rain near the front window and spilled beverages making the floor slick. Broken tables and chairs. All evidence of the destruction caused by one car, one person.

The rain has stopped by the time Warrick arrives from his Internal Affairs questioning. He doesn't look happy, but then again no one looks happy after a meeting with the guys in IA.

Warrick needs his own distraction. We both try to focus on the case by checking out the road and exterior of the bar for any evidence that might not have washed away in the rain. The storm seems to have passed, but there's no guarantee that another one won't blow in just as quickly.

His flashlight shines across the wet pavement as Warrick comments, "Plenty of tire treads, but nothing looks fresh."

"So are you going to tell me how it went?" I ask him, thinking if I can get him to talk a little about the questioning, I might be able to keep my mind from wandering to Sara.

I know he got pulled in for questioning relating to an assault on a suspect. Something about him knowing the guy's location and leading a distraught father to the suspect's location. The father committed assault on the suspect and IA wants to know if Warrick's actions were intentional. Maybe it was back alley justice, maybe it was a mistake; either way Warrick got in trouble, but just how much has not yet been determined.

Grissom was forced to suspend Warrick for three days without pay; something both the Sheriff and the ADA on the case thought was ridiculously lenient so the Sheriff got Internal Affairs to stick their nose into things. Warrick admitted his mistake, that what he did was not only stupid but foolish, and he's given himself hell for it during the past two months; but Warrick doesn't answer to the public, the Sheriff does. And any further reprimand for Warrick's behavior will only make the Sheriff look good.

"I got called in by Internal Affairs. How do you think it went? Too many questions." Warrick mutters a thank you to the officer that holds up the crime scene tape as we duck under and start checking out the sidewalk in front of the bar. "I wish I could have pleaded the fifth."

"Yeah. You don't answer their questions, you're looking at more days without pay. That blows."

"Yeah," he says in tone that lets me know that conversation is over.

The questioning today should have wrapped things up, but Warrick will probably have to wait another few days before IA lets him know their decision. There's nothing that moves slower in Las Vegas than bureaucracy. Secretly, many of us think that IA gets a thrill out of leaving us hanging like they do.

As we get closer to the sidewalk Warrick shines his flashlight up and notices a red light camera. Many of the busier intersections in Las Vegas have cameras to catch the people who run through red lights. The only witnesses likely to notice if the driver ran the red were the patrons sitting near the front window, and none of them mentioned anything like that. Warrick says he'll put in a call so that we can have the tapes and see if they show us anything helpful.

There's a spot of motor oil on the curb, most likely from when the undercarriage of the car bottomed out as it jumped sidewalk. The car had to have been moving at a pretty good speed to crack the oil pan and leave a puddle this size. Obviously something went wrong; something with the driver or the car itself.

Even though there weren't any fresh tire treads on the street or sidewalk in front of the bar, Warrick notices some treads inside the restaurant. If there are skid marks inside the bar, that means the driver hit the brakes when her car busted through the front window; whatever happened here, it wasn't something with the car, but the driver.

The tow truck shows up to take the car back to the lab's garage and Warrick helps me pack up the evidence I've collected so far before getting into his own truck and heading back to the lab. The drive seems unreasonably long, with only my thoughts to keep me company.

Sara seemed surprised to see Hank at the bar, so whatever relationship they have it hasn't progressed to the point that she would know what he was doing on his time off. But while I'm thankful for that thought, I'm still sensitive about the amount of concern I saw in her eyes when she was helping Hank wrap up his wrist.

Sara has seen the victims and survivors of an accident on scene before and I've never seen that look in her eyes. She's seen the way some cases affect her coworkers and still no soft, concerned look. Hank has to be more than a friend, but how much more?

Part 38

The drive back to the lab gave me time to think, and while I was mostly thinking about Sara and Hank, by the time I pulled into the lot I was even more determined to make things right with Sara and I. When she first came to Vegas, even at my most hostile we still made a good team when we worked together. Our teamwork improved as our relationship did, and I don't want to lose that either.

Seeing Sara with Hank, even though it wasn't a particularly intimate moment, it was still enough to spark anger and jealousy. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was waiting for Sara to let me know that things were going to be okay between us; I shouldn't have waited, I should have acted. I'm a little late coming to this realization, but now is the time for action.

When I pull into the parking lot, I see Warrick getting out of his truck and he comes over to help me take the evidence inside. When we get to the evidence vault I tell him that I'll log the evidence if he can go find Sara and meet me in the break room in about ten minutes. Just because I'm ready to act, doesn't mean I'm ready to do it right this instant.

Ten minutes later, Warrick and I are sitting at the table in the break room and Sara has her back turned to us as she fills her coffee mug.

"Not surprisingly, she died from her head wound. More specifically, an epidural hematoma."

Warrick is busy reading a file, I'm not sure but I think it's the prelims from Robbins, and I'm glad that he is so absorbed in the file that he doesn't notice the way my eyes linger on Sara's form as she talks.

"So she was at least alive when her car went through the front window of that bar," I say. A fairly obvious conclusion, but it helps to have things verbalized.

"Yeah." Sara mixes some sugar into her coffee. When she has the right amount of sugar in her coffee, two of those little packets, she turns around and faces Warrick and me. Leaning against the counter behind her, a small smile curls her lips as she takes the first few sips of her coffee.

"Did she have any medical problems, or anything else that could have made her run that red light? Drunk, maybe?" Warrick asks.

"Greg still has the tox and Doc was only able to give me the prelims, but he couldn't find a physiological reason for what happened."

I sigh. "So we've got nothing."

"We don't have anything yet, but there's always something," Sara says, sounding an awful lot like Gil. "All we need to do is find it."

Taking a minute to think I ask her, "Do you still have that seating chart the manager gave you?"

"Yeah. It's in the layout room. Why?" The way her eyebrows scrunch together as she tries to figure out why I want the chart is nothing short of adorable.

With a little grin I answer her, "I'm going to see if Archie can't put something together for us. I think it might help to have a visual of who was sitting where in the restaurant."

She shrugs, "Couldn't hurt, I guess."

"Are you thinking the driver was after someone specific?" Warrick sets the file he was reading on the table and leans forward, thinking. "It would be hard for her to know specifically who was in that place, much less where they were sitting. And why take a chance at injuring so many other people?"

"Just a theory, Warrick. People take chances and do stupid things all the time." I'm talking to Warrick, but looking intently at Sara. I know Warrick will have questions for me later about that look, but I want Sara to understand that I know lately I've been one of those people doing stupid things.

Sara hides behind her coffee mug, taking a sip and not letting me read her whole face for a reaction. I don't need to anyway; I see the confusion in her eyes and a glint of understanding. I can't guarantee that she caught my entire meaning, but she at least recognizes that there was something more to that statement. Sara isn't the type of person who can let a question go unanswered and I know that sometime before the end of this shift, she'll find me and I might get the chance I'm looking for to talk to her.

"It's not such an outrageous theory, Warrick," Sara says as she sets her coffee mug on the counter behind her. "Her next of kin is her grandson. He says that they lived in Laughlin and that she hated Vegas."

"Then what was she doing here?" Warrick asks the question we're all thinking.

"That's the million dollar question," I say as I push away from the table. "I'm going to go see if Archie has time to put something together for us with that seating chart."

"I need to find someone at the Transportation Safety Bureau to get me a copy of the tape from that red light camera." Warrick grabs the folder on the table and stands up.

"I was on my way to the garage when Warrick found me. Mrs. Lambert's car is here and I wanted to take a look at that GPS unit. Greg's going to page me when he gets the tox results."

Sara looks at me one last time before turning around and topping off her coffee mug. Something in her look got Warrick's attention and he raises his eyebrow in question as I push him toward the door, smiling.

I'm one step closer now. Sara knows I want to talk to her, and not about something work related or I would have said something in front of Warrick. Now I just need to figure out what to say.

Part 39

Archie doesn't have enough time available to put the program together for me, but he does hand me the software I'm going to need and point me in the direction of an empty A/V lab.

The seating charts are amazingly detailed and I'm able to accurately program a matching layout in very little time. Once I have the basic layout of the restaurant interior set up I start to input the customer information; the police report provides me with the basic information about the staff and patrons: names, addresses, where they were sitting at the time of the accident. The lab's access to various DMV databases gives me driver's license photos to associate faces with names.

Engrossed in my work, I don't notice that someone enters the lab until I hear Sara's voice tinged with curiosity when she says, "Hello."

"Oh hey," I greet her briefly before returning to the screen. She's just in time to watch me run through the names and photographs. "So, I got the photos of the restaurant patrons off the DMV database and input the information per the restaurant seating chart and the police report."

Demonstrating as I talk, I touch the screen where various customers were sitting, watching as the photographs flash on the screen. When I press the seat next to Hank a photo of a pretty young woman pops up. "Who's Elaine Alcott?"

I watch as Sara's brow wrinkles in confusion, "Who?"

Uh-oh. That isn't good. "Oh, well, she was seated with Hank. I just thought that ."

"Oh," Sara says distractedly as she sits at the computer running the simulation.

"Anyway um ." Elaine's picture disappears from the display and Hank's picture pops up. His picture is replaced by Elaine's again. Sara seems unsure of who Elaine is as I continue, "Apparently she told P.D. that she was returning from the ladies' room at the time of the impact."

"They must be friends. I saw him with her at the hospital." She sounds both confident and unsure of her assessment.


I know Hank would have gone to the hospital to have his wrist checked out and that Sara was there to see how the driver was doing. From the concerned look on her face as she was talking with Hank, I knew she would seek him out at the hospital and make sure he was okay. And if Hank and Elaine are friends, it makes sense that he would check in on her while he was there.

Maybe it's my own dislike for Hank and the way Sara was acting around him, but something about him makes me suspicious. There are vague similarities between Sara and Elaine and my mistrust for Hank makes me think he might be something more than friends with her.

"Okay," I brush aside my own suspicions of Hank, telling myself it really isn't my place to tell Sara that he may not be what he seems. Moving forward I look at the police report in my hand, "Um .. okay. So we've got 36 people in the restaurant. Twelve worked for Silmont Healthcare, a block away. Another ten were from the brokerage firm across the street, a couple of regulars, a few out-of-towners, and restaurant employees."

Warrick walks in and hands me a file, complaining to both Sara and I, "Do you know how long it takes to get a hold of anybody at the Transportation Safety Bureau? It's way out of hand. Diane Lambert ran the light."

Inside the file are photographs of the car approaching the intersection and two close-up pictures; one of Diane behind the wheel and another of her license plate. Velocity is listed at 52 m.ph.

"Wow. She sped through that intersection; 52 miles per hour."

"That's more than twice the speed limit," Sara says, surprised.

"Well the tread marks tell us that her brakes did work, so it must have been something else that malfunctioned causing her to accelerate." Warrick looks at Sara as he finishes, knowing that of the three of us Sara is the best with taking apart cars and finding the problems.

"Gas pedal could've gotten stuck, or ." Sara pauses to think, "throttle plate could have jammed."

"Only one way to find out," I say as I hand the file folder back to Warrick.

"I'm on it," Sara says as she gets up from behind the computer. Warrick passes her the folder with a smirk as she heads out of the lab and toward the garage again.

I should have asked Sara what she managed to find out from the GPS unit on the car before she left, or if the tox screen showed anything. I'm sure she would have mentioned if anything important had come up, but I'll have to clear up those questions later. For now, I'll just keep working with this reconstruction software.

"I'm going to check in with the TSB again. Maybe they know something about that intersection that we don't," Warrick says as he stands back, checking out the screen behind me.

"Thought you said it was out of control down there? Are you a glutton for punishment or is there some cute girl down that you're trying to hook up with?"

Not bothering to hide the smile on his face he tries to change the subject, "You still working the people angle?"

"I'm trying to. You saw the look on Sara's face, she doesn't seem too optimistic about finding something wrong with the car."

"She'll work at it until she finds something," Warrick states with certainty.

"But if there's nothing to find, that could mean the answer we are looking for is right here," I say, waving the police report across the screen displaying the restaurant interior.

"Good luck with that," Warrick says as he turns to leave.

"Hey Warrick?" I wait until he turns to look at me before flashing a smile and continuing, "Good luck with that girl at the Transportation Safety Bureau."

Part 40

Sara is back in the garage, checking out the car, and Warrick is off somewhere talking to the Transportation Safety Bureau again. With the minimal evidence we have so far, that leaves me with the restaurant itself.

I'm getting nowhere fast by taking a look at the people in the restaurant at the time of the accident. A majority of the patrons were simply enjoying some drinks after work, not at all uncommon for a restaurant so close to other businesses. Right now I can't come up with a connection between Ms. Lambert and any of the patrons or employees.

I sit at the computer running the simulation and pull up Hank's picture again. All-American good looks; blonde hair, blue eyes. I can almost see what attracted Sara to him. I switch to Elaine Alcott's picture and again notice the similarities. Young brunette, brown eyes, and reasonably intelligent if her job at the Sillmont is any indication.

Hank's picture pops back up on the screen and it suddenly hits me why I was so bothered by the way Sara was acting at the scene; her posture, movements, body language, the look in her eyes. I've seen it before.

When Sara first arrived at the aqueduct and handed Lindsey a cup of hot chocolate, her voice soft and caring, she wrapped a blanket around me and gave me a cup of coffee. The tone of her voice, the way she moved. Her behavior was exactly the same with Hank earlier as it was that night on the aqueduct.

There are other patrons in the restaurant I could look into, check backgrounds, look for anything that might connect them to Ms. Lambert, but I'm drawn to the pictures of Hank and Elaine. Hank and Elaine. Hank and Sara. Sara and I. My thoughts are clouded and I need a break to get things back in perspective. Hank's picture disappears into blackness as I shut down the program.

I grab a few file folders from my office, hoping to return my focus to the case and figuring out what happened at that restaurant. Greg has left me the tox report and Doc had someone drop off a copy of his autopsy report. From what Sara said, and didn't say, I don't think there will be anything useful in either report, but I need the distraction right now.

The break room is empty when I walk in and set my files on the table. Unfortunately, the coffee pot is empty too. The end of this shift is rapidly approaching and I could use that coffee to keep me going; I don't think I'll be going home until I've signed off on the final report in this case.

I promised Nancy and Lindsey that I would talk to Sara after shift today, but if I know Sara as well as I think I do, this 'shift' won't be over until we know what happened. She works harder and longer hours than almost anyone else in the lab, and if I'm not giving up until we've solved the puzzle, I doubt Sara will either.

I'm busy digging in the cabinets for a filter to put in the coffee machine when my cell phone rings. Giving up the search, I answer my phone without checking the caller ID.


"Have you talked to her yet?"

"Hello to you too, Nancy," I say with a sigh as I take a seat at the table.

"Yeah, yeah. Hello. So have you talked to her yet? Have you explained what a colossal mistake you made by pushing her away?"

"Nancy, you sound like a gossiping teenager."

"You're avoiding the question," Nancy correctly points out.

"Yes, I am. Maybe you should ask Gil if he has a job opening since you're so good at picking up the clues."

"Smart ass," Nancy laughs even as she tries to insult me. "So, have you talked to her yet?"

"No. First, shift's not over yet and I distinctly remember telling you I would talk to her after work."

"Almost over. Just a few minutes left," Nancy interrupts me.

"Second, we kind of got wrapped up in a case."

"That's no excuse," she tells me.

"And third, I think she's already seeing someone else." I sigh heavily and grab the files from the table and head for my office again. I know that Nancy is going to want to hear more about what I just said, and the break room is not the place for me to talk about Sara's private life, even if I don't really go into detail.

"What?" Nancy practically screams into the phone.

"Damn Nancy, any louder and I think the whole lab could hear you."

"Well good. Then the whole lab can listen in as I yell at you for being a stubborn ass and potentially losing the best thing to happen to your personal life in a very long time."

"Potentially?" I ask as I close the door to my office.

"You said that you 'think' she is seeing someone else. That means you've still got a chance."

"Maybe I should have said 'I know'."

"Well which is it? Think or know?"

"It's ." I pause trying to figure out the best way to explain things in the least amount of time. "It's complicated."

"Everything's complicated with you."

"I know that she's seeing someone else, but I think that it's going to blow up pretty soon."

"Complicated," Nancy agrees.

"Told 'ya," I say with a small laugh. "Listen, I'm still at work and I think I want to wrap this one up before I come to get Lindsey. Can you take her to school and pick her up today? And maybe take her school tomorrow? I don't know if I'll need to look after her for that long, but I'll call to let you know."

"On one condition," Nancy says, and I know that on the other end of the phone she's smiling.

Sighing, I ask "What?"

"Talk to Sara."

"Didn't I already tell you I would?"

"Yeah, but I'm just making sure you don't wimp out on me." From the tone of her voice I can tell that her smile is getting bigger as she teases me. "I'll take care of Lindsey, just try to call and check in with us every now and then."

"I will. Thanks Nancy."

Nancy hangs up and I'm thankful she caught on to the fact that I didn't want to have an extended conversation with her at work. She's given me the break I needed though. Leaving the reports unread on my desk I head off to see Archie again.

Part 41

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