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You work it out
Once more I'm early to work, and again Catherine seeks me out before shift commences to say hello without an audience.
When Grissom hands out assignments there's a problem. There are three new scenes, and Gil wants Greg on one with Warrick, leaving Catherine and I on our case. Which, after the conversation with Catherine yesterday, we both know could compromise our testimony on the case.
"Gil." Catherine calls Grissom back as everyone walks out of the room. "Greg was looking at this case with Sara before I was on it. How about we leave them together?"
Grissom looks puzzled. "But I already made Warrick primary on the suspicious circumstances."
"That's okay, I'll work secondary with him. Keep him on his toes."
He hesitates, looking from Catherine to me, then to Greg who is hovering just outside the door, then back to me.
"Sara, are you okay with this?"
"Sounds fine to me."
"Okay then." Grissom walks out of the room.
Catherine smiles at Greg and I, then walks out throwing a farewell over her shoulder. "Don't do anything I wouldn't."
"Did Catherine really just give up a fun case like this to work with Warrick?" Greg asks.
"Have you guys had a fight or something?"
I shake my head. Nothing could be further than the truth. Greg looks confused.
"I had a thought," I tell him, "I need to check the rental documents. Are you with me?"
"Actually, I was thinking we need to check the security footage again."
"Right, page me with what you find."
Greg heads for AV, while I hit the evidence locker. I'm not normally one for hunches, but I have this feeling.
An hour later I head to the AV lab looking for Greg, but run into him in the hall first.
"She's not our victim." I don't bother with a greeting.
"I know," Greg looks surprised. "How do you know?"
"Fingerprints on the rental form don't match the victim."
"And the driver is right handed. In the footage you can see her watch on her left wrist. Victim wore hers on the right."
"The handwriting on the form is left handed as well."
"We need to go back to the beginning." Greg says.
"No," I correct him. "We need to go back to our victim."
Five minutes later we're in the layout room.
"What have we got?" Greg asks as we set all our evidence out on the table.
"First off, it looks like our vic has a double. We need to find out more about her."
"About the victim, or the double?"
"Both. It's possible that she's got a twin, or some other close relative who looks similar. Or a doppelganger."
"An identical twin would explain the DNA from under her nails coming back as her own." Greg muses. "Assuming the monozygotic twin did it, how do we prove she was present at the murder?"
"We need to know more about them both," I'm running scenarios through my head as I speak. "There may be some way to distinguish the tissue."
"Our victim, Kirsty Lang, is a 29 year old female post-graduate student from UNLV. Her field is geology. She may have been exposed to different environments than the sister. If there is a sister. Other than that, she was killed fairly viciously, repeated blows to the head. That seems personal to me. Removal of the hand I don't quite understand as yet. Body dump is interesting too."
"What do you mean?"
"Look at the photos," I arrange them across the table. "Looks almost like she was positioned to make sure she'd have a view. She's a geologist, there's some spectacular rock formations there. Suggests intimacy, and caring, between the victim and whoever dumped her."
"That's not consistent with defiling the body by removing a hand."
"So, it's looking complicated. What do you have to work on?"
"Actually," Greg looks at his watch. "Shift ends in five, and I've got plans today. When we get back in we should have the records from the university. Can we wait 'til then?"
"I've got another idea," I'm thinking aloud, then realise that Greg is looking anxiously at his watch, "But you go ahead, I'll run with it."
Half an hour later I have a name.
It's in the Californian DMV records. Driver's license issued to Kirsty Lang, D.O.B. 4th September 1977. Another license issued to Kristy Lang, same D.O.B. Photos confirm that these girls look the same. What type of parents would call twin girls Kirsty and Kristy? Current address listed for Kristy is Red Bluff, California.
I look around and notice that there's no-one around. There's something else I've been curious about, but don't want anyone to see me looking it up.
No, I decide, not at work. Home time.
Not long after I'm sitting in front of my pc, doing a search on google. As embarrassing as it is to look this up, I really don't have any idea what constitutes "lesbian" sex.
Yes, I can use my imagination, but I don't always cope well with the unexpected. I'd rather have an idea to expect.
Of course most of what comes up on screen seems to be aimed at the male pornographic market. I scan through the sites and find one that seems more relevant. Interesting wow, if any of my boyfriends had ever done most of these things well, maybe I would have paid some more attention to them. It's difficult to know how most of this works, the site covers the mechanics but maybe, sometime soon, I'll find out.
God, I can't believe I'm even thinking about this.
This scares me witless.
Dating has always been safe, because I've never really given anyone the chance to get close enough to hurt me.
Catherine though she's definitely getting close enough. It seems like maybe she was inside my defenses before I even noticed her closing in. Which is fine if everything goes perfectly and we live happily ever after, but what if we don't?
What if we get together, she gets to know the real me, and decides I'm not really what she wants?
Can I deal with that?
Would I be able to keep the pieces together if she built me up then pulled the rug out from under me?
Maybe I'm just being a coward if I don't give this a try but I'd be safe.
Then again, is safe what I want? Am I happy now? Is the chance of being happy worth the risk of getting hurt?
First thing I find when I get to work is Brass, who tells me that our victim's mother has flown in to identify the body. I tell Grissom that I'm heading over to the police department, then find Greg in the lab.
"I'm going over with Brass to interview the mother. Are you coming?"
"No, you go." Greg is looking at the plastic sheeting the body was found in. "I've got an idea I want to run with."
I rejoin Brass in the foyer.
"What happened to Catherine?" he asks. "I thought this was her case?"
"She left it with Greg and I," Everyone in this place notices too much. "Besides, this is her night off. She probably had a great day hanging out with Lindsay, and may even actually be sleeping tonight."
"Ain't that a crazy thing to do at night." Brass laughs.
It's true, I won't be seeing Catherine tonight. It was strange to come in tonight and not have Catherine come by for a private greeting. It made me realise how quickly I was getting used to the way things were changing between us.
"I knew Kirsty should never have moved to Vegas," the mother says quietly. "It's so far from home. Kristy had already moved away, though not quite so far. She's Kirsty's twin sister, works for the council in a small town north of San Fran. Then Kirsty started talking about doing post-graduate research. She'd been having troubles with her girlfriend, there weren't many geology jobs based in San Francisco. I think Fiona, her ex, thought she'd take a position at Berkeley, but Kirsty said the project and people were better here. They tried long distance for a few months then Fiona broke it of with her. I'm not sure how Kirsty took it, we haven't seen much of her."
I'm sitting in the reception area letting Mrs Lang unload. It can be easier not to ask questions sometimes, just let them tell you.
"How about the rest of the family? Would Kirsty have spoken to her sister?"
"Those two, sometimes they talked a lot. Other times they didn't talk for months. I know, twins are supposed to be so close, but Kristy always competed against her sister. All through senior high I don't think Kristy spoke much to Kirsty at all, then when she tried to mend bridges later Kirsty wasn't that interested."
"So they didn't visit each other often?"
"Occasionally. Kristy is demanding on all of us, nags us into visiting her. Somehow when she visits us she's always out with friends, we barely see her. I think Kirsty flew out and visited Kristy about a month ago. Nothing since then."
The words finally slow, then stop.
"Can you please tell me what happened to my baby?"
I've established a few things from talking to the mother. The relationship between our victim and her twin was rough. Our victim was gay, she hadn't dated men for over ten years. And the sister isn't supposed to have been in Vegas at the time of the murder.
The next obvious step is to talk to local law enforcement in the sister's hometown and find out if she was in town when her sister died.
I make some notes, then talk to Brass. Law enforcement is his problem, not mine. I have to leave on time so I can pick up supplies for my date.
All I told Catherine about today was that she should wear comfortable shoes. Not a lot of information for her, but it's kind of a corny idea.
So, I'm wearing loose jeans, boots, and a tank top with a jumper over it. A bit different from dressing up for our last date, but more the real me. Although, I must confess, I'm again wearing one of my good knicker and bra sets. No, I'm still not planning for Catherine to see them, but I couldn't stop myself wearing them.
I'm nervous as I stand on her door step and ring the bell. Butterflies in my tummy and all.
When the door opens Catherine is standing there, also wearing jeans and a jumper but with bare feet, and smiling at me.
"Hiya," I mumble nervously.
"Hi." Damn, now she seems to be laughing at my nerves. "I'm not quite ready. Come in while I find some shoes?"
I've never been inside Catherine's home before, and I look around nervously. It seems warm, lived in. Stylish, but comfortable.
"Sit down if you want," Catherine waves a hand towards the couch. "I'll be back in a minute."
I watch her walk out into the hall, then look around me again. The couch looks comfortable, but I'm feeling to edgy to sit so I walk over to the bookcase to see what's there. Mostly popular from the looks of things, with crime novels the most common. There are also framed pictures, and I can't help but look at each one in turn. A young Catherine standing in a paddock with her arm around another girl whom I recognize as her sister Nancy. A fairly recent photo of Lindsay with Sam Braun and a woman I suspect is Catherine's mother.
"Do you know how many times I nearly threw that one out?"
I hadn't heard Catherine come back into the room, and the surprise nearly makes me knock over the photo I was touching. In the picture a much younger Catherine is dressed in white looking into the eyes of a younger Eddie. Their wedding photo.
"Why did you want to throw it out?"
"Because marrying Eddie was a mistake. I didn't even really know him, but it seemed so romantic. It feels like displaying the photo is a celebration of that mistake." She's standing close behind me now and I can feel her warmth against my back.
"Why didn't you throw it out then?"
She reaches out to the photo, her fingers graceful as the trace the edge of the frame. "Because even if Eddie was a mistake, he gave me Lindsay and I can't regret that. And because the photo reminds me "
Her voice trails off, and I turn over my shoulder to look at her. "Reminds you of what?"
"Of how young I was, and how naïve," her eyes close as she remembers. "By the time that photo was taken I was far from innocent, I mean, I was a dancer. But I didn't see the bad things, I was caught up in the razzle-dazzle. I don't want to forget who I was."
I look back at the photo, thinking of where Catherine was all those years ago. "I can understand that."
"It's not on display, but tucked away in my highschool physics textbook is a photo from when I was about three. It was before anything bad happened with my parents, back when I thought they were the most wonderful people in the world. I'm sitting on Dad's shoulders, and he's got his arm around mum. They look so in love, and I'm smiling like I don't know how to stop. I don't even remember being that person, but it's nice to know that I was."
Halfway through speaking I'd felt Catherine's hand on my shoulder. Now I felt her arms around my waist pulling my back against her, and I leant back into her warmth.
It's strange; I've never spoken to anyone about my childhood. I've always thought it wasn't important, that I was more than the sum of my experiences. Yet when I'm with Catherine I find myself talking about it. Maybe because I know it's safe?
"Thank you," she murmurs into my shoulder.
"For being prepared to share that with me. I thought, even though I know the basics of what happened that you probably wouldn't want to tell me any more. I don't need to know anything you don't want to say, but I'm glad that you're able to share some of it."
"I was just thinking that I was lucky to be able to share it with you." I turn around and put my arms around her shoulders, loving the feel of her body against mine, her head against my shoulder. "This still feels surreal."
"What does?" I feel her lips move against my neck.
"You and me, being here like this. Talking like this."
"Surreal but good I hope?" Catherine pulls back a little, and I tighten my arms in response.
"Definitely good," I look down into her eyes, then without thinking I find myself leaning down to kiss her.
Damn those lips, I think I could happily spend the rest of my life doing this. Kissing Catherine, holding her in my arms. Our kiss is slow, infinitely patient, starting with a soft caress of her lips against. When I feel her tongue brush my lips my mouth opens to grant her entry, my tongue tangling with hers as she slowly explores my depths. When we finally pull apart I am breathless. I would swear I can feel my hair tingling, although the scientist in me knows that is impossible.
"If you're planning on us going out you'd better not kiss me again," Catherine murmurs, her mouth still so close that I can feel her breath on my lips.
I close my eyes and take a few deep breaths, trying to convince myself that she doesn't really mean those words. I'm sure Catherine Willows has been kissed by better than me. Then I look into her eyes and see that she's still struggling to focus. Did I really make her feel that way?
"Um," I'm struggling not to kiss her again. "Maybe we should go out then?"
"Okay " She walks over to the couch. "I still have to put shoes on."
I hadn't even noticed that her feet were still bare. It feels strangely intimate to watch as she pulls on socks and shoes then ties her laces.
"So," she stands up and reaches for my hand. "Where are you taking me?"
"I know it's corny, but I've been wanting to go for a picnic ever since I got to this town. Just didn't have anyone I wanted to picnic with."
Catherine laughs at me as I unload my back pack, spreading a rug over the grass and laying out dips, biscuits and juice.
"It's not corny, it's sweet. It's just not what I was expecting."
"What were you expecting?"
"Actually, I was trying to guess what you'd plan, but I couldn't guess. I thought of museums and things, amusement parks, movies I couldn't think of what you would do."
"I thought of museums and galleries, but I've seen all the good exhibits at the moment. Plus, not a great 'getting to know you' type date."
"So, this is 'getting to know me?' I thought you'd known me for years." Catherine lowers herself down on the rug as she's speaking, and I follow.
"We may have met years ago, but do we really know each other?"
"I think we're getting there, slowly."
"Okay, tell me something I don't know about you."
"Um when work has been too much for me sometimes I go home, run a bubble bath, have a glass of wine, and listen to a Miles Davis cd. Or sometimes Ella Fitzgerald."
"Miles Davis? I would have thought you'd be more of a show tunes girl." I try not to linger on the image of Catherine in the bath.
"Definitely not. I used to do the same when I was dancing, so show tunes were out. I needed something that would take my mind of those things."
"Does it work?"
"Some days it does. Not always."
"Maybe I should try that one day. I don't have a bath, but when things get to me sometimes I stay in the shower far too long, with the water as hot as I can stand. Why does water make us feel better?"
"I'm sure Freud would say it was an attempt to regress back to the uterus, but for me it feels cleansing. Somehow the bad days at work I normally feel like I'm coated in grime."
"With our job," I point out, "We normally are coated in grime after a bad shift."
"But even when I'm not physically dirty I can feel it."
"Yeah, I know." She's right. It's not just the physical dirt; it's the constant association with the baser side of the human spirit. "Why do you keep doing it?"
"You asked the last question, it's my turn now. Why did you start?"
"Start the job?"
"Why did you go from studying physics to working as a CSI?"
"It's complicated." It really is, thinking back to motivations from a lifetime ago. "It's not something I'd ever thought of doing. I loved the complexity of physics, but once I got down to sub-atomic particles and string theory I felt like it was so isolated from the real world."
"Still, it's a long way from physics at Harvard to CSI in Las Vegas."
"I was reading a translation of an old book on the scientific method. There was a statement in the introduction that really got to me."
"What did it say?"
"I'm not sure I can remember it exactly " I close my eyes and think back to that night, lying in my room, unable to sleep, picking up another old book from the shelf intending to bury myself within the pages. I remember the weight of the book in my hands and picture the words on the page. "The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing, and if nature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living. Of course I do not here speak of that beauty that strikes the senses, the beauty of qualities and appearances; not that I undervalue such beauty, far from it, but it has nothing to do with science; I mean that profounder beauty which comes from the harmonious order of the parts, and which a pure intelligence can grasp."
"How did you do that?"
"You just closed your eyes for a moment, and suddenly you could recite something you read how long ago did you read it?"
"It was just after I submitted my honours thesis; I couldn't sleep so I was reading."
"So you were, maybe 22?"
"It's just a memory trick. If you think of the time something happened, without thinking about the actual event, you can remember more. It's all there in your brain, you just have to sneak up on it." She doesn't look like she understands what I'm saying so I decide to demonstrate. "Okay, can you remember the first thing you ever said to me?"
"Five years ago?" Her eyes scrunch up in concentration. "I don't think so."
"Okay, close you eyes." She looks at me dubiously, then does as I say. "What can you remember about that day?"
"It was terrible. We'd been short staffed for a while, then we got this new girl out of the academy. Holly. By the time the first shift was half over I was exhausted. There was an abuse case, a little girl; she wanted me to take her doll so nothing bad would happen to it. She was so like Lindsay I wanted to cry. Then I had to rescue the new girl from an irate shop keeper, and she told me she wasn't sure she wanted to be a CSI, she was following her mother's dream. I told her how much I loved the job, talked her into giving it a go. I thought the shift would never end quickly enough, then when it was over we heard that Holly had been shot, so none of us were going home. Grissom told us you were coming in to do the investigation into Warrick, and he tried to give Holly's scene to Nick because he hadn't had anything to do with her. I took the scene anyway, because I felt so guilty."
"She was just a kid, and when she wanted to chuck it in I talked her into staying." Without me she'd still be alive. I guess maybe we all felt guilty that day."
"I never knew you felt that way. You shouldn't." I rest my hand on her shoulder. "I get why Warrick felt guilty, and you've just told me about you, but why the others?"
"Not Nick, he didn't even meet her. Grissom talked her into giving a pint of blood; he wanted it for a blood splatter experiment. He used to do that all the time, whoever he could talk into it. That was the last time, because maybe her lower blood pressure slowed her reactions down just that little bit."
"What else do you remember?"
"When you came looking for me I was working on that damn pager. As soon as you came to the door I knew you wanted to ask me about Warrick, and I knew anything I said would be bad for him."
"So, can you remember now what you said?"
"Um, that Catherine was out in the field. Then when you didn't leave I said something sarcastic to let you know I knew who you were and I wasn't impressed. 'Let me guess, Sara Sidle.' Something like that."
"See, you didn't think you could remember, but doing it that way you got the words exactly."
Catherine suddenly turns to me and looks me in the eye. "I wasn't very nice to you, was I?"
"You had your moments." After a second I look away.
"You've never said why you moved to Vegas. Actually, you didn't finish answering the other question either."
"About how I ended up in this job?" I'm feeling a bit sheepish about the reasons. "Both of those answers are a bit pathetic. Do you really want to know?"
"Of course, I wouldn't have asked otherwise."
"Pathetic reason number one was that I thought physics was beautiful, and I didn't think I was good enough for, or even deserved, something that beautiful. Backwards reasoning, since if I weren't good enough I'd never have been offered a post-grad position, but I'm not always logical."
"And the reason you came here?"
"Grissom called me and said he needed my help. He's the only person who's ever said they needed me. Tragic, isn't it? I had no real reason to go back to San Francisco, so when Grissom offered me a job I just stayed."
"Since I wouldn't have met you without that, I guess I'll have to remember to say thank you to Grissom one of these days."
Catherine smiles, then switches to a prone position on the rug, looking at the sky.
"Last time I went on a picnic was with Lindsay, we both lay down and she told me about all the things she could see in the clouds, and how she's going to be a dancer when she grows up."
"Just like her mom?"
"She better not dance like I did. I'd go mad worrying about her if she did."
"Why did you start dancing?"
"I'd left home, again, couldn't cope with my parents. I got here and needed money to live. I was applying for jobs but I didn't have any experience so people weren't queuing up. My landlord suggested I talk to a friend of his about dancing. I was lucky, his friend ran the kind of bar where they actually looked after the girls. I was popular, made good money. Convinced myself for a while that I was okay with what I did, but in the end I started needing to be high to go on stage. There were a lot of cops who came to the bar. One was infatuated with a friend of mine, so he'd always buy us drinks. He talked about the cases he was working, and I got fascinated when he talked about forensics. Went to night-school to get a science degree just so I could work here."
"So the science is a just tool to you?"
"I guess so," Catherine says. "It gives us such unbelievable clues to the crimes."
"Funny, I love the science, all the different investigative approaches. The cases are the excuse for the that."
"Why are you smiling about that?"
"I was just thinking that they're right, opposites do attract."
"We're not complete opposites." I protest, "We did end up in the same job you know."
"That may be true, but we're close to the two most different people there. Who else would you call more opposite than you and I?"
"You and Hodges? Greg and Grissom? I could go on "
"Okay, but we are pretty different."
"You're right " I concede.
I look around, enjoying the fresh air, the sun on my face. When I look back at Catherine she is looking at me with a smile which, for some unknown reason, makes be blush.
She's grinning more broadly now. "I've never seen you look this relaxed Sara. At work you're normally wound up pretty tight. You seem so relaxed."
"You think I'm normally wound up?"
"Not so much when you first arrived in Vegas, but nowadays? Absolutely." Catherine starts of seriously, then grins again. "Guess we'll have to have regular picnics to get you to unwind."
Regular picnics with Catherine. "I think I could live with that."
"Would kissing you help with that relaxing business?"
"I think it might "
With that Catherine pulls me down so I'm lying next to her, then raises herself up on one elbow and brushes my hair out of my eyes before lowering her lips to mine.
My last rational thought is that I'm not quite sure this is relaxing, but I certainly won't let that get in my way.
** Quote from Jules Henri Poincaré, Science et méthode. Translation from article by M.Brown in Journal of Geodynamics (2001) v32 p116
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