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 51

In the past I've shielded Nancy from the details of my job; someone who is not willingly involved in the kind of work I do should not be subjected to the details. Cops, coroners, investigators; we've all seen more than enough of what people can do to each other when pushed over the edge or sometimes just for fun. There's no reason for Nancy to know the horrible things I see on a daily basis and she might try to tell me that she's adult enough to be able to deal with the details, and maybe she is, but I still gloss over the things I see on a daily basis. Maybe it's my way of being a big sister and protecting her from the big, bad world.

Thankfully, even though so many were injured and four people died, there wasn't anything about the scene I was at earlier that couldn't be described to Nancy. Not that I'm going to, but I can tell from the curiosity shining in her eyes that she's intrigued.

"Did you hear about that car accident down on Meadows?" I ask, gripping my coffee cup in both hands. Even if it is more than ninety degrees outside, the warmth of the coffee mug calms my nerves a little. I don't even have to try to figure out what has my nerves jumpy in the first place; too much caffeine and Sara.

"Yeah," Nancy answers, looking a little confused. "Was that your case? It was on the news but it didn't look that bad." I know that Nancy is thinking in morbid terms of carnage, but it's not always the death and destruction that gets underneath my skin.

"Four dead, including the driver," I tell her. She would have probably heard that on the news and even though that's not part of what bothers me, I feel the need to tell her anyway.

"Oh." I think Nancy can tell from the matter-of-fact way I'm talking right now that it wasn't the scene or the case itself that has me on edge and she's waiting for more details.

"It was raining by the time I got there," I'm almost stalling and I think Nancy notices. "There was a car in the middle of some restaurant; red and blue lights of the emergency vehicles reflecting in the puddles of water and shards of glass from what used to be the front of the building. It wasn't chaotic, but rushed. The rain coming down, the dancing lights, the people running everywhere. So much chaos contained in such a small space. Usually the ambulances and fire engines are long gone by the time I get to a scene; ambulances mean rescue, my part of the job means there are people beyond rescue."

There's a point to all of this somewhere, but I think now isn't the time to get philosophical about work. I think that would be a conversation, or at least some inner contemplation, to have over a nice cup of hot cocoa.

"You and I both know that it was something at the scene, not the scene itself, that bothered you," Nancy voices my thoughts. "Otherwise we'd be sipping cocoa instead of coffee."

"It was what I saw at the scene," I say with a deep sigh. Noticing the way Nancy scrunches her eyebrows in thought and the mixture of excitement and dread in her eyes, I immediately continue, "No, not like that. Anything you saw on the news would have been accurate. Four people did die but it wasn't anything horrifically tragic."

God, listen to me. The death of four people because an old, sick woman felt she had run out of choices. She had other options and that whole mess today could have been avoided. That nothing was done to help her and that it led to the death of innocent bystanders is tragic. And yet, here I am telling Nancy about it like with as much emotion as I would have if we were discussing the latest Rebels basketball game. Maybe I should talk to someone about that.

"So what did you see?" Nancy leans forward and set her coffee cup on the table in front of her, probably expecting me to say something earth shattering.


Nancy looks slightly confused but relieved at the same time. "And that's bad?"

That seems like a simple question, doesn't it? "No. Yes. Well, I don't know. I guess it was good and bad."

"Ah. Now we're getting somewhere," Nancy says sarcastically as I stand up and start pacing across her living room floor. "That's a pretty evasive answer for such an uncomplicated question, don't you think?"

"It's not the uncomplicated question you think it is." My coffee is getting cold and I head into the kitchen, raising my voice so that Nancy can still hear me. I top off my coffee and add a few packets of sweetener before continuing, "Just seeing her is great, really. But it also comes with a lot of baggage."

"Baggage?" Nancy questions as I re-enter the living room.

"Maybe that's not the right word," I say, sitting down again. "I like seeing her. I like working with her. But I screwed things up Nancy. I ... we started dating and I treated her like shit when Eddie died. I want to fix that, but I don't know how. I tried explaining how screwed up things were for me, but she wanted time. I gave her time and ...."

And she turns to someone else. She seeks comfort and friendship from someone who only wants to use her. She lets herself become involved in a relationship that has no good outcome for either of them simply because she wanted friendship with someone who wouldn't turn on her, who wouldn't shut her out.

Nancy tries to wait patiently for me to continue as I stare at my coffee like it has the answers to all my questions. Nancy has never been a really patient person, "And?"

"And when I get to the scene, Sara is standing just outside the restaurant with Gil. He's holding an umbrella to keep most of the rain off of them both. It was the gentlemanly thing to do, but I felt a twinge of jealousy when I first saw how close they were standing."

"Catherine," Nancy says in her best motherly voice, "you know that doesn't really mean anything. Even you just said it's the gentlemanly thing to do."

"I know," I tell her as I stand up again. I shouldn't have sat down since I knew I'd eventually just get right back up and start pacing her floor again. "It's just that he has a closeness to her that I will never have, even if I manage to fix my colossal fuck ups with her. Seeing them standing so close to each other reminded me of that."

Nancy pick up her coffee to take a sip and notices that her mug is cold too. She holds her mug in the air and says. "Make yourself useful. And then you can tell me what you mean."

The short trip to the kitchen gives me a chance to put some order to my thoughts and I begin explaining before I even finish filling her mug, "Gil knew Sara before he called her to come to Vegas and investigate Warrick. I don't know how, I think it was a conference or something."

Back in the living room Nancy's hand is extended for the coffee and I continue, "I guess it's not all that important how they knew each other but whatever it was, it was enough to give Sara some kind of crush or something on Gil."

"A crush, huh?" Nancy asks as she takes a careful sip of the coffee I gave her. "Maybe it was just one of those crushes people develop on their teachers. Adults can get crushes like that, right? And besides, it wouldn't matter. From what you've told me of Gil, I'd be shocked if he ever said or did anything. He doesn't really seem like the 'dating' type."

"He wouldn't, but that's not the point."

"Oh. There's a point to this?" Nancy smiles and I know she's just teasing me, but she can still be frustrating at times.

"The point was just that there's a closeness between them. The physical closeness at the crime scene was just a manifestation of that. But it's a closeness that Sara and I will never have."

"And why do you think that is?"

"Because before we could even really be called coworkers I treated her like an enemy. We work well together, sometimes so well that we don't even need to talk to each to know what the other is thinking. But there was always something keeping us from becoming friends."

"Was, not is. You started becoming close to each other at some point or you never would have started dating her." I turn and look sharply at Nancy, who holds her hands up in defense, "You said it not me."

"You're a frustrating woman," I say, not wanting to admit she's right.

"But I'm right," she smirks.

"Yeah yeah yeah. Moving on," I say, not wanting to dwell too much on something that lasted all of about thirty seconds when so many other things have happened. That, or I'm just not sure I want to think too much about the possibility of Gil and Sara being anything more than friends and coworkers. "Brass gives us the details and Gil and I start discussing what all we need to do; perimeter, photos, trace collection. As Gil and I are talking, Sara wanders off and I notice that she's gone to talk to one of the paramedics: Hank."

"And that's significant?" Nancy asks when I turn to look at her.

"Not normally. It's fairly common for us to have some interaction with the paramedics. Finding out if they've moved the body, where they've walked through the scene, that kind of thing."

"So what's the big deal about Sara going to talk to this Hank?"

"At that moment? Nothing I guess." I should probably just skip right to it, "Except that it turns out that Sara and Hank were dating."

Nancy's eyes go wide and her voice expresses all the surprise and shock that I felt when it first hit me, "What?!?"

Part 52

The feeling of déjà vu is almost creepy as I remember starting to explain this to Nancy when she called me at the lab. I heard the same shocked, "what!" loud enough to practically reverberate down the halls of the lab, but the sight of her face right now is worth repeating myself.

If Nancy had been holding her coffee mug in her hands, I'm certain she would have dropped it to the floor. Her mouth is gaping open and her eyes are open so wide that it almost looks like they are going to pop out; the expression is so downright silly looking that I can't help but laugh.

From the looks of the scowl I get from Nancy, she doesn't find this to be nearly as amusing as I do. She can't see her own face, so I try to rein in my laughter so that I can explain.

"I don't know what you think is so funny," Nancy says as my laughter quiets into a giggle.

"You," I say between short breaths. "You looked … you looked …" I can't find a way to describe the look, but the memory causes me to start laughing again.

"I get it, I get it. I looked amusing," Nancy says, frustrated. She looks at me sternly and continues, "But you've got to stop laughing at me and explain what you mean about Sara and Hank dating."

I stop laughing as I try to figure out how to explain something that I'm not sure I myself understand. I mean, it sure as hell looked like they were touching and exchanging looks with more meaning than just friendship, but Sara was pretty adamant that she was using him for companionship even if he wanted more.

"I thought I already explained this to you?" I ask. I don't clearly remember the time that she called; it could have been this morning, it could have been yesterday, but I remember telling her that I thought Sara was dating someone else. "I distinctly remember you telling me that I was behaving like a stubborn ass and it may have lost me the best thing to happen to my personal life in a very long time."

"Ooh. That's right," Nancy says, her eyes widening as she remembers. "But you only said you thought she was seeing someone else. And you even said that you thought it was going to blow up."

"Well, I mean, they weren't dating per se, and it did blow up. Right in Sara's face." My mind flashes to the look on Hank's face, like someone had kicked his puppy, and the hard look on Sara's face when she left the police substation. Funny how he got caught and he looked like the one with the broken heart, but Sara was the wounded one.

"What does that mean?" Nancy interrupts me sharply.

Uh-oh. She's getting pissed. We've done this so many times over the years I can tell I'm pushing Nancy's limits for patience. "Well, at the time it sure looked like they were more than friends."

"But?" Nancy asks, knowing that there is more to it than just that. She looks a little more patient as I start pacing again, having been through this enough times to know that I'm trying to put my thoughts into an order that would be easy for her to understand.

"But Sara says that they weren't."

"They weren't?" Nancy questions, the look on her face a cross between confusion and irritation. "But you said …." Nancy sighs in frustration before continuing, "Cath, I think you're leaving out some things."

I know that I'm skipping some things, some pretty important things if I want this to make sense to her, but I still don't really know how to explain everything. When I think about it now, maybe I jumped too quickly to the conclusion that Sara and Hank were dating. She looked very friendly with him at the crime scene and she radiated quiet anger after going to speak with Elaine. But maybe I projected my own miserable dating experiences on her when I saw the little touches and the slight twitch of a smile she shared with Hank and then later the flash of hurt that passed through her eyes whenever I mentioned Elaine.

"It's not going to make much sense," I say as I give up and decide to just tell things from my point of view and wait for Nancy to tell me I was being stupid.

"It doesn't make any sense now, and unless you start talking, it will never make any sense," Nancy tells me. "So just start at the beginning."

And I do.

I tell her about the crime scene; not the details of the crime, but how Hank had been there treating the wounded and we later learned that he had been dining at the restaurant at the time of the accident. I tell her about the lingering touch of Sara's hands on Hank's as she finished wrapping up his wrist and the small twitch of a smile that she gave him. I try to explain how that small smile from Sara is more telling than even a big gap-toothed grin, but I think you have to be on the receiving end of that smile and see the warmth in her eyes to understand because Nancy just looks at me like I'm completely insane.

Maybe I am.

I tell her how I put together the restaurant's seating chart and learned that Hank was there with one of the victims, Elaine. When I mentioned to Sara that Hank and Elaine had been dining together, she didn't recognize the name other than to say that Hank was at the hospital with her. But there was a flicker of hurt, or maybe anger, in her eyes before she left the lab to go to the garage.

I tell Nancy how Sara went to speak with Elaine when we figured out that somehow Sillmont Healthcare was involved in the accident. I thought it would be good for her to get an idea of who this "friend" of Hank's was, especially since I certainly thought that Elaine was more than just a friend. Sara came book looking hurt and even angrier, and I don't think it had anything to do with the case or with Sillmont Healthcare's relationship to Diane Lambert.

I tried explaining why I thought it was best that Sara talk to Elaine instead of sending Warrick or even myself to find out if Diane Lambert was a customer of Sillmont Healthcare. If I had told Sara that I thought Hank and Elaine were dating, she would be angry with me and that's the last thing I wanted. But now my advice to her seems almost malicious; as if I wanted her to know about Hank's behavior because it would hurt her. I know that's not true, when she came back to the lab with that hurt look my heart ached for her, but that's not the way it sounds when I try to explain things to Nancy.

"It was a catch-22," I try to rationalize to Nancy. "If I had told her she would have thought that I was trying to hurt her relationship with Hank. But when I didn't tell her and she came back looking broken, I felt like the biggest ass for not warning her before she went to see Elaine."

"Cath?" Nancy asks, trying to interrupt my pacing.

"Yeah?" I ask as I turn to face her.

"You can't hurt her relationship with Hank if she didn't have one." Nancy points out logically.

"Well sure, you can say that," I say. "Because now we both know that they weren't really dating. But I'm telling you it really, really seemed like it earlier today."

"Yesterday," Nancy points out.

"Yesterday, whatever," I say, exasperated. "She would have seen me as spiteful or jealous."

"Aren't you?"

"No!" I say with a little too much emphasis.

"You're not jealous?" Nancy pushes.

"No," I answer. "I'm not spiteful."

"But you are jealous?" She continues to push.

"You're one irritating woman, you know that Nancy?"

"Yes," she says with a big grin. "But you're evading the question."

"No I'm not," I say sitting down. She won't give up and we both know that.

"Yes you are, now stop it." Nancy looks at me knowingly before asking a third time, "You're not jealous?"

With a heavy sigh, I give in, "Yes. I am. I was."

Part 53

"Well, what is it?" Nancy asks curiously while managing to look triumphant at my admission. "You are or you were?"

"Well I was, when I thought they were dating." Nancy smiles that 'I knew it all along' grin and I'm tempted to smack her. "I guess in a way I still am."

Nancy's grin is replaced with a look of confusion. "But you just said that Sara insisted …"

"Yeah I know. But you don't know what else she told me," I say with a sigh, thinking back to our conversation at the bar.

We had both been drinking rather nervously, her maybe because of Hank, but I was nervous just being with her. For so long things were so tense with us, acting as bitter enemies when really we just hadn't taken the time to get comfortable with each other. And when we did get comfortable with each other, it seemed almost overnight that what was just a budding friendship blossomed into a romance. And then I went and fucked it all up.

Sitting in that booth across from her I felt a range of emotions. I was giddy that she was there with me, that we might get past my stupid behavior and work on a friendship together. I was angry at Hank because I thought he had cheated on her. What idiot does that?

I felt jealousy, but mostly an incredible sadness, when she told me she had used Hank for his friendship and companionship because he was the one person that wasn't shutting her out of his life. When she wanted, needed, a friend she went to Hank instead of coming to any of us at the lab. To me.

"I won't know unless you tell me, Cath," Nancy says gently.

"Yes, when I thought they were dating, I was jealous. Irrationally so, since I was the one that screwed things up with Sara. I made that one attempt at talking to her and fixing things and she said to give her time. So I gave her time. And she turned to Hank for the friendship and companionship I wanted to have with her."

"But you want a little more than just friendship and companionship," Nancy points out.

"Well yeah," I say, trying to give her that same 'well duh' look that she has perfected over the years. "But I'd gladly have her friendship over this silent uncertainty any day."

"Have you told her that?"

"Well no," I admit.

"Why not?" She asks, giving me that same 'duh' look. I think she must practice that look with Lindsey; it's almost the exact same look I get from my daughter and one that I cannot perfect, no matter how many times try.

"Look what happened, Nancy. I had my chance and screwed it up."

"You'll never know if you can have a second chance if you don't try."

I know that she's really just trying to help me, but right now I'm feeling frustrated. I take a deep breath so that I don't take my frustrations out on her before explaining, "But I offered. We talked and I tried to explain things, and she wanted time. I can't push her too much, Nancy, or I'll just end up pushing her away."

"Don't you think you've already done that?"

"Actually, what she said was that I shut her out." I sound a lot more bitter about that than I really feel. Sara was right and I did shut her out, but it's one thing to know I've done that and a completely different thing to have it pointed out to me like she did.

"She said that?" Nancy asks. At my nod, she says, "Smart woman."

"Nancy, you're not helping here," I point out.

"Oh, I'm supposed to be helping?" Nancy asks, faking a look of astonishment. "And here I thought I was just supposed to listen to you whine all day."

Nancy has always known when my mood needs a bit of a change, and now is no different. When our conversations turn a little depressing or self-deprecating she will tease me or make a joke about something to lighten the mood. I can't help but give a little laugh at her surprised look. Of course, I also want to smack her for being a smart ass.

I'm smiling again when I say to her, "Of course you're supposed to listen to me whine all day. What else are sisters for?"

"I don't know about most sisters, but I'm here to kick you for being stupid and then help you make things right. I just don't know how much more of this whining I can take," Nancy grumbles but returns my grin with a little bit of extra attitude.

"So great one," I pretend to bow to her and tease, "what do I do?"

"Ask her out to dinner," Nancy says as if that were the most obvious thing in the world.

"Don't you think that's a little forward?"

"Since when has that ever stopped you?" Nancy asks, confused.

"Since now." I can't really explain why, but everything is different with Sara. I'm not my usual confident self; I'm not as straight-forward as usual.

"Why?" Nancy digs for more information.


"Oh now you just sound like Lindsey. 'Why didn't you eat your peas, Lindsey?' 'Because.' " Nancy mimics a common dinner conversation with my daughter.

"Very funny," I glare at her before smiling. She really can impersonate my daughter perfectly, right down to the way Lindsey sticks her tongue out and pouts when you mention that she's not eating her vegetables.

"Seriously, what's so different now that you can't just go ahead and ask her to dinner. It's not like the two of you haven't been on a date before."

"A lot of things are different," I say, standing up to pace again. Sitting feels too inactive when my mind is bouncing from one thing to another.

"Starting with?" Nancy pushes.

"Starting with the fact that we're not really talking to each other right now and ..."

"Cath, for years the two of you barely talked to each other," Nancy interrupts to remind me.

"Yeah, and now I'm getting irrationally jealous over a friendship. I'm not used to this Nancy, I didn't even get jealous when Eddie had girlfriends and we were still married. Angry, yes and incredibly so. He could have at least waited until we were divorced to flaunt his young, pretty girlfriends in my face. I was married to him, but I was never jealous of those girls."

"So again, what's so different now?" Nancy asks.

"This is all new territory for me, Nancy." She doesn't look like she believes me and I sigh before continuing, "And the fact that it's Sara Sidle doesn't make it any easier."

Part 54

"Dating is new territory?" Nancy asks even though I'm positive she knows what I'm really talking about.

"No. But dating a woman is."

"Is it that different from dating a man?" she asks. I can tell from the curiosity in her tone that she's not asking to prove to me that I'm making a big deal of nothing, but that she's really intrigued about what differences there are between dating a man and dating a woman. When she notices my smirk, she blushes and hurriedly says, "I mean, umm not the physical stuff, but you know, just the dating stuff."

"I don't know how to explain it Nancy, it's just different," I say with a sigh. I'm going to wear a path in her carpet if I don't stop pacing back and forth like this. "Dinner, movies, the things you actually do on a date are no different. But everything else is different."

"I don't want to know about those things," Nancy says quickly as she turns even redder. I can't help but laugh at her very obvious embarrassment.

"No Nancy, I'll save those kind of details for when I really want to tease you." She doesn't look at all relieved. Smirking I continue, "Hey, you aren't the only one in this family who gets to tease her sister."

Nancy looks like she's taking my statement as a challenge and I almost regret having said it. She's had way too much fun teasing me over the past few months and I've been letting her; I think it's time I started teasing her again, but for now I need her to keep helping me sort things out.

"It's just different, Nancy. The expectations, the tension, it all just feels different," I say as I sit down again. "I really don't know how to explain it."

"Okay, so it's different," Nancy says as she sits back and settles more comfortably on the couch. I can tell she's not satisfied with my weak explanation, but I can also tell that she's going to wait until some other time to bring that up. "But that still doesn't mean that you can't ask her to dinner. Or breakfast."

"Still hung up on that, huh?"

"If you wait, you'll lose her."

"I don't know how to ask her." I carefully avoid mentioning that I think I already have lost her; that I lost her long before today.

"How about calling her up, or taking her aside at work, and simply saying 'you want to get something to eat'?" Nancy says as if it's the simplest thing in the world.

"I don't think it's that simple, Nancy," I say sighing again. Maybe I'm making this more complicated than it is, but she is oversimplifying it. "I've screwed up Nancy, and badly."

"But you can't make it right unless you do something about it. And sitting here in my living room whining about it won't fix things." There she goes simplifying things again.

"I don't know how," I admit, sounding defeated.

"You don't know how to do anything do you?" Nancy smirks. "Good thing you've got me around to help you out."

Sometimes, she can be so frustrating that it makes me want to scream. "Nancy, you can be one incredibly irritating woman."

"But you love me, and you know it," she says as her smirk turns into a cocky grin.

Grinning right back, I tell her, "Because you're my sister. If it weren't for that you'd be an insufferable brat."

Nancy pretends to look offended, but she quickly sees that I won't fall for her hurt look and responds, "Well, I thought the younger sister was supposed to be a brat. I'll have to re-read the sibling handbook."

I quickly reply with, "Section Five, Paragraph Eight A. Whereupon older sister is having a good day, a bad day, an average day or an abnormal day, the younger sister shall, at her discretion, engage in behavior that is teasing, harassing, and any other behavior defined in Appendix B as 'brat' behavior."

Nancy is laughing so hard it looks like she's having trouble breathing. When she finally recovers enough to talk she says, "You've been spending way too much time with those law-types Cat. Where did you come up with that?"

"It's in the handbook Nancy," I say, maintaining as serious a façade as I can, which is quite difficult with the way Nancy keeps giggling. "I've had plenty of occasions lately to look up that particular section."

Except for the tiniest curl of my lips into a smile, my expression remains perfectly serious and Nancy's giggles erupt into laughter again. I'm glad that we've steered the conversation away from my confusion over Sara and what to do about the situation I've found myself in; I don't think I have enough energy left to try to get through everything today.

Now that I'm taking more than two minutes to rest, I realize that I'm completely worn out. As we chase down leads and find new evidence one shift can turn into two or even three and I barely notice. But as soon as I stop moving or stop drinking coffee to keep me going when I'm long past the need for some rest, the exhaustion nearly knocks me over.

Nancy must notice my dazed expression and my silence because she clears her throat to get my attention and says, "The kids will be home in just a few hours, you'd better get some rest. We'll figure it out, but I think it's going to take more than one pot of coffee and a few hours of chatting. Sleep on it and we'll talk later, okay?"

Nancy is already moving to clean up the coffee cups and I don't argue with her. It's been a long day, or two, I don't remember exactly, and I could use the rest. Lying on the bed in her spare room I marvel at how weary the body can be when the mind is still working too much to let me sleep. Nancy has already helped me figure out a few things and tried to help me with what I need to do to fix this.

I was irrationally jealous of Sara's friendship with Hank even though I didn't know about it until it disintegrated. I thought from the way she looked at him and the way she reacted to Elaine that she was romantically involved with Hank. But now I'm beginning to think that maybe Sara just puts so much of herself into her relationships, even friendships, that it's hard for someone who doesn't know her very well to tell the difference. And apparently I don't know her as well as I thought.

Part 55

Sleep comes easily but all too soon I find myself waking to the sound of Nancy's voice asking the kids to be quiet because I'm sleeping. I find it ironically amusing that I didn't hear the kids at all, just Nancy telling them to keep it down. After slipping into some fresh clothes I head downstairs to see what Nancy is making so much noise about.

"Rosati's," my daughter says, crossing her arms over her chest in an attempt to intimidate Nancy.

"No. Montesano's," Nancy says, trying to stare down Lindsey.

Jeremy is standing across the kitchen, his eyes darting between Nancy and Lindsey, trying to figure out if it's safe to pick a side in the great debate. Apparently it isn't because he says, "Papa Johns."


"Eww gross."

His attempt at a truce failing, he ducks out of the room past me and I clear my throat to make my presence known. Nancy looks surprised to see me and from the glint in her eyes, I can tell Lindsey thinks I'm going to be her ally in the great debate over what pizza place to order from. Happy to see me, she rushes up to give me a hug.

"Mom! Aunt Nancy wants to order from Montesano's but I like Rosati's better and Jeremy wants Papa Johns but they put too much sauce on their pizza and I really want Rosati's and …"

"Whoa, Lindsey, slow down. Mom just got up," I say, my sleep-addled mind struggling to understand her rush of words.

"I thought we'd order in tonight and maybe watch a movie before you guys head home. Homework is already done." Nancy says. "Aren't you supposed to be sleeping?"

"I'll get some more sleep later, I have tomorrow off," I tell Nancy as Lindsey finally loosens her vice grip on my waist. Looking down at Lindsey I ask, "You want Rosati's?"

"Yeah, they have those really good …"

"Garlic knots," I interrupt her, knowing exactly what she wants. "And it's Montesano's that has those."

Lindsey looks confused and I swear I can see Nancy sticking her tongue out at my daughter. That's my little sister, such an adult.

"But I thought …," Lindsey stops in mid-thought.

"Montesano's is over by," I try to think of anything nearby that she might recognize, "By the red and blue neon hotel with the white elevator on the outside. Rosati's is the one in Henderson that your dad used to bring home all the time."

I immediately regret mentioning Eddie when I see sadness clouding Lindsey's eyes. We both go silent, lost in our own memories of her father. I hope her memories of him are far happier than mine.

"Montesano's is that place that we all go and sit down and they bring you and Jeremy a cannoli to eat after you've stuffed yourself silly on pizza and garlic bread," Nancy says, breaking the somber silence. Smiling broadly she continues, "And that one year they sang happy birthday to Jeremy in Italian and for the next three months the two of you wanted to move to Italy."

Lindsey's eyes light up again as she remembers that day and the months that followed. She had insisted on going to the Venetian nearly every weekend day that I had off so that we could take a gondola ride through the canal. She thought the gondolier would be a real Italian and speak or sing to her in Italian. Those days she drove me crazy with her incessant questions and dragging me off to her new favorite place. Now, it's one of my favorite memories.

"So Montesano's it is, huh Linds?" I ask, smiling at the memory. She nods and I muss her hair a little, telling her, "Now go find Jeremy before he thinks you and Nancy started the second Cold War with that stare down."

"What's a Cold War?" Lindsey asks, looking up at me puzzled.

"It was a nuclear…. It was just an expression, Lindsey," I say with a smile. "Why don't you go find Jeremy and pick out a movie for us to watch tonight?"

"Adults never make any sense," Lindsey says before running out of the kitchen yelling Jeremy's name.

Having placed this same order many times before, Nancy needs no help from me and grabs the phone without asking what the kids want. Hanging up a few minutes later Nancy turns to me and says, "She learned that Cold-War-icy stare from you, you know."

I can't tell if that's a compliment or not, but I thank her anyway as I turn to leave the kitchen and head toward the living room, where I can hear Jeremy and Lindsey having a debate of their own over what to watch.

"Did you sleep okay? I told the kids to be quiet," Nancy asks.

"Actually, I didn't hear Jeremy and Lindsey at all. I woke up to you telling them to keep it down," I say with smile.

"Figures," Nancy says sitting down on the couch and rolling her eyes. "I told Lindsey and Jeremy that we could watch a movie while we ate. I thought maybe I'd save you the time and trouble of cooking so that you could get as much sleep as possible. Then you wake up and spoil my plans."

Lindsey and Jeremy are sitting on the floor next to Nancy's collection of DVDs, having quieted their debate a little since Nancy and I came in the room. It looks like Jeremy wants to watch a baseball movie and Lindsey is trying to persuade him to watch a cartoon movie. I know that in a few minutes, if it takes that long, Lindsey will come and sit in my lap and try to sway me into voting for her movie.

"I couldn't really have spoiled your plans if we're still having dinner and a movie," I say, still smiling. I know she meant that part of her plans was to see that I get enough rest. She might be my little sister, but a lot of the time she acts like a mother. "And like I said, I have tomorrow off, so I'll have plenty of time to catch up on my sleep."

Nancy doesn't look like she believes me, but she doesn't saying anything as Jeremy comes up to the couch and sits next to her. As I suspected, Lindsey sits in my lap with her movie, Finding Nemo, in her hands. Looking down at the movie I smile; this is her latest movie obsession and even though it's only been out on DVD for a couple of weeks, and I don't have a lot of time to spend with her like this, we've managed to watch this movie together so many times that I think I know every line by heart.

Jeremy is sitting next to Nancy with the same hopeful look in his eyes that Lindsey has as she looks up at me. In his hands is a movie that I don't recognize, with a dog and a baseball bat on the cover. Looking at Nancy, I can tell this is by far not her favorite movie, but it's just as obvious that Jeremy loves it.

"Linds, honey, why don't we watch Jeremy's movie tonight and then tomorrow you and I can watch Finding Nemo together after school?" Nancy visibly winces at my suggestion and Lindsey looks instantly disappointed. Jeremy, however, looks thrilled. One out of three isn't bad, I guess. Looking down at Lindsey, I tell her, "We'll stop by Wetzel's and go to Leatherby's for some ice cream and then go home and watch Finding Nemo. We'll have a junk food day, and watch girlie cartoon movies all night."

Lindsey smiles as I tell her we'll have all the things I normally wouldn't let her have on a school night. She looks hopeful as she asks, "Really?"

"Really really", I say with a big smile.

"Oh!" Lindsey bounces excitedly, catching my reference, "Can we watch Shrek too?"

"Any movie you want," I say smiling and putting my hands on her hips to keep her from bouncing again; my baby is growing up and she's not as little as she used to be. Cartoon movies are still her favorite though and I have to admit, I like them a lot too.

"Finding Nemo and Shrek," Lindsey gives special emphasis to the 'and', hoping I will give in to her puppy dog look and agree to let her watch both movies.

My first night off in what feels like an eternity and I'm going to spend the evening watching cartoon movies with my daughter. I can't think of anything I'd rather do.

Part 56

Return to C.S.I. Fiction

Return to Main Page