Sara and Catherine Montage


Cold Feet, Cold Case, Warm Hearts

Part 1

Email ncruuk

Disclaimer: Not mine. I promise I'm only borrowing them and will return them to their rightful owners whenever they ask for them back. My imagination took a flight of fancy.....my bank account stayed empty. (Seriously, the cast of CSI (and L&O:SVU) belong to other people and I'm only borrowing them for some free daydreaming that I wrote down).


Spoiler/Author’s Notes: None specifically, although good knowledge of what happens in general is required. There will be the occasional reference to a case seen on the show, with any episodes up to the end of Season 3 regarded as fair game. It is from this point that the AU occurs, although back story from the show (such as Nesting Dolls in s5 most obviously) will be incorporated where relevant/appropriate. Equally, a brief knowledge of L&O is helpful, but certainly not at all necessary – for those completely unfamiliar with that fandom, the characters can be read as ‘original’ (i.e. non-familiar).


Rating: 15

Summary: Sometimes, losing everything that you thought was important can be the trigger for gaining so much more.




Quiet weeks have an annoying habit of turning into busy weekends. Whilst Monday could see the entire graveyard shift processing a hit-and-run for want of anything else to do, Saturday was a different story. For some reason, tonight was the night all hell decided to break loose, and a double homicide was just the beginning.

“Sidle”

*Grissom. How’s that B and E going?*

“Just packing up now; was looking to head back to the lab with the evidence.”

*No.*

“No? Grissom, the evidence needs to be got back…..”

*LVPD is providing officer escort. You’re heading on again.*

“To my third scene since leaving the lab for a homicide? I’m going to start running out of stuff here Gris…..”

*Brass is going to meet you at the next one with a new kit for you. 4106 Henderson. Double DB.*

“Brass is gonna meet me? Where’s everyone else?”

*Elsewhere. Look, I’m sorry Sara, but we’re busy tonight. 4106 Henderson,* and with that, the line went dead.

‘Great. Thanks Grissom. Guess this means this double is turning into a triple.’

Resignedly, Sara reopened the back of her Tahoe and cast her eye over the contents. 3 boxes of evidence bags, CCTV equipment, rolls of camera film…..this had been a big scene to process, not least because whoever did it had left lots of themselves behind, taking most of her kit with it. She hardly had any print powder left, not to mention gloves and evidence bags.

‘Just another Saturday night in Vegas,’ she thought as her inward contemplation broken by the approach of two officers.

“Ma’am?”

“Ah, Officers.”

“We’ve been told we’re taking the evidence to Criminalistics for you?”

“You done one of these before?” Sara asked the oldest of the pair, eying them critically.

“Yes Ma’am. Orders from the top are this one’s an escort job, what with all those bloody jewels.”

“Ok.” Satisfied, Sara watched the evidence from the jewellery store B and E be transferred from the Tahoe to a convoy of police cruisers, before getting into her Tahoe and, lights flashing, driving over to the less glamorous part of town.

Drawing up at yet another scene, she was met by Jim Brass who had at his feet one of the spare CSI kits.

“Man, these things weigh a ton.” Was his opening comment

“Yes, which is why we each pack a personal kit and then ride around in these huge Tahoes” was Sara’s comeback, as she bent down to pick up the kit. Brass understood the gesture for what it was and began leading Sara to the scene.

“Okay, heart of the wrong side of town. Two DBs in the living room with execution style gunshot wounds shouldn’t be weird right? But getting shot in the head is messy. This place is completely clean.” As Brass lifted the tape for Sara, she said

“Since when have you ever known a CSI to call a crime scene clean?” And with that, another scene began to be processed.



A couple of hours later, the obvious evidence bagged and tagged and the bodies removed to the morgue, it was time to start processing the less obvious. Two dead bodies don’t die in a room and not bleed. No matter how smart a killer thinks they are, a CSI is smarter, unlocking many secrets of a scene…..but only if that scene wasn’t being alternately bathed in red and blue light. What was often comforting was now not only plain irritating, but also preventing Sara from working. Wearily, Sara got up from her crouching position, absently noticing how stiff her legs were feeling, before making her way to the front doorway, her intention being to either get the cars moved or the lights turned off.

4106 Henderson was two houses up from an intersection. Henderson had been blocked off, but the cross street was still open. As Sara reached the doorway, preparing to shout to Brass, no one noticed the dark SUV with no lights speed towards the intersection. As Sara called out, no one noticed as the front passenger window of the SUV wound down. Everyone noticed the sound of automatic weapons fire. Years of training kicked in as all dropped to the floor amid shouts and sounds of returned fire. After a few seconds that felt like minutes had passed, an eerie calm returned to the scene, still bathed in the familiar pulses of red and blue light. Officers began to rise, miraculously unharmed. Weapons were re-holstered as memories were searched for clues or details. What had happened just then? As comments began to carry across the cool night air about how lucky they’d been, one shout ripped through the cooling night air.

“OFFICER DOWN! OFFICER DOWN! OH MY GOD, SARA!”



4 YEARS LATER:



“Hey Sara?”

“Yeah?”

“What do you think these are?” Greg Sanders, once eager, hyperactive lab-rat, now eager, hyperactive CSI, carefully entered his mentor’s office, clutching a stack of photographs.

“I can’t say until you show me!” teased Sara gently, inwardly amused at his continued occasional shyness around her even after all these years of friendship.

“Oh, sorry.”

After a minute or so of careful perusal, Sara looked up again.

“Tracks?”

“Yeah, but from what? They’re too shallow to be a bike and no stroller would leave a single line like that, I checked. We’re kinda stumped.” Came Greg’s honest reply.

“Hmm. You got any shots or maps of the scene?”

“In the layout room.”

“Ok then. You push, I’ll think!” And with that, Greg moved round behind Sara as she released her brakes and picked up the photographs, dumping the bulk of her pile on her lap, but focussing intently on one. Her focus never wavered once, trusting Greg to manoeuvre her carefully and safely though the sometimes chaotic corridors of the Crime Lab. Entering the layout room, she looked up to see Jacqui also there.

“Slow night?”

“Yeah. All of tonight’s perps are wearing gloves, so thought I’d come and help Greg with his latest mystery.”

“Ok” Smiling, Sara refocused her attention on the plasma screen mounted at one end of the lab.

“We got a site sketch?”

“Yup. Officer Calloway volunteered.” Replied Greg

“Excellent. Let’s see it.” Jacqui, being nearest, pressed a few buttons on a computer, bringing up a neat, free hand annotated sketch of the crime scene. These sketches, often drawn by a police officer, were an informal aid that had been added to the graveyard shift ‘to-do list’, irrespective of scene size, specifically so that Sara could help in this manner. Never used in court, the sketches showed a layout of rooms within a house or of the garden, and were simply a means of allowing Sara to ‘see’ the scene’s layout, not just the key points of evidence.

“Ok, show me where this tread was?”

“Here. That box shows the lawn and that’s the brick driveway. The boundary was muddy.”

“We got a picture of the grass?”

“Here.” As Sara began contemplating the grass and track, Jacqui looked across to Greg, shooting him a look as if to say ‘Grass? WTF?’. Speaking in a near whisper, though that was quite unnecessary given how engrossed Sara was, Greg elaborated.

“There are two broad types of grass - grass that grows horizontally and has big, infrequent blades, and grass that grows vertically with a high density of longer, very fine blades. We generally can’t get impressions from the horizontal stuff, but you can occasionally get them from the vertical stuff since it squashes.”

“Ah, this is horizontal stuff. No prints or impressions then.” Offered Jacqui

“Yup” agreed Greg.

“We got any of those collecting sheets? The really big ones?” asked Sara suddenly.

“Right here,” said Greg, gesturing to a drawer.

“Fingerprint powder?” This time it was Jacqui that gestured.

“Ok, Greg, go out into the corridor and lay down a continuous strip, overlapping them until it’s about ten feet long, sticky side up.” Giving Sara a look as if to say ‘What the hell are you thinking?’ Greg got up and went to do exactly that.

“Jacqui, grab the powder, and follow me.” Grinning, Sara wheeled herself out into the corridor in time to see Greg just finishing.

“Ok, Jacqui, hold down one end, Greg the other.” And, once they were in position, Sara carefully wheeled herself along the sheets, making sure she kept her right wheel along the centre. Reaching the end, she turned herself around to face the bemused pair before explaining

“Dust and scan that. I think that it will be about the right size and width. You’re looking for a manual wheelchair tread.” Before continuing up the corridor to the break room, leaving the pair standing in the corridor looking bemused.



Slow shifts meant long nights, meaning coffee was required.

After half an hour and two cups of coffee, Sara was halfway through the latest forensics journal when Greg once again appeared standing hesitantly by the break room doorway. Looking up, Sara waited for him to speak.

“Ok, so wheelchair tyres are like car tyres – lots of patterns, many of which enable you to then trace the make and so on.”

“Yes.”

“Wheelchair treads are held by the manufacturers in databases, but we can only compare an image that has been made by a wheel that is perpendicular to the ground. Most chairs have them set at an angle, rather than a 90 degree vertical setting. The manufacturers can’t help us unless we know the pitch or what the impression looks like at 90 degrees.”

“Go on.” At this, Greg took another step into the break room and nervously ran his fingers through his allegedly artistically styled messy hair.

“Um, so, well, see, the computer needs more data to make the projected model to either calculate the pitch or create a 90 degree impression.”

“So?” Again Greg’s nervousness got the better of him. Whereas Grissom made Greg-the-lab-rat ramble, Sara seemed to make Greg-the-CSI stall, requiring occasional gentle prodding.

“So, could we borrow your chair or your wheel or well, you know…..”

Laughing at the simplicity of the request, Sara gave Greg one of those smiles he used to live for. Not the slightly up-turned smirk, but the fully fledged beam, where Sara seemingly lost her shyness and allowed her whole face to become animated.

“Of course you can borrow my chair. Why do you think I grabbed a pile of work when we left my office?” teased Sara, plainly enjoying the moment.

“You knew I was going to need to ask that, didn’t you?”

“Yup.” “When?”

“You really want me to answer that?”

“No, wait, it was when you made me lay out the sheets in the corridor, wasn’t it?”

“Uh huh”

“And it only took me half an hour to follow up something you already knew.” Seeing the funny side now, Greg flopped onto one of the easy chairs before smirking at Sara. At her look of askance, he explained

“Did Grissom teach you to be like that or is it instinctive to all graveyard supervisors?” before ducking out of the way of the accurately flung journal.

“Cheeky boy. Yes you can borrow my chair. If you must take it apart, put it back together properly and don’t leave any fingerprint powder on it. Bring it back in an hour?”

“Sure. Thanks. Where do you want to sit?”

“The table.” And, with the ease associated only with long-term friendship, Sara wheeled herself over to the table and dumped her papers on it before Greg carefully scooped her out of the wheelchair and placed her gently in one of the chairs at the table. With a final word of thanks and a promise to behave, he left the break room wheeling the chair as Sara settled down to some paperwork, coffee once again in hand.

‘You’d think living this close to the desert we could avoid mud wrestling at crime scenes’ pondered Catherine as she left the locker room following a much needed shower. What had started as a road accident had turned very mucky when the car was discovered in a ditch. The second vehicle had ended up in about two feet of mud, meaning Catherine had spent a fruitless couple of hours trying to process the scene, most of which was under two feet of mud. Tired and smelly, she had dragged herself back to the lab where she enjoyed a hot shower and clean clothes. The promise of a cup of coffee and a much needed sit down would complete her recovery in preparation for analysing the fruits of her muddy labour.

As Catherine approached the break room, she saw an unusual yet welcome sight. Two impossibly long, lean, denim clad legs lazily stretched out across the floor under the table. Those legs could only belong to one person and, as far as Catherine was concerned, that person was definitely better than coffee. Entering the break room, Catherine moved round behind Sara and dropped a gentle kiss on the top of her engrossed lover’s head, causing her to sit up with a start.

“Cat!”

“Coffee?”

“Do I ever say no?” Laughing, Catherine picked up Sara’s empty mug and headed to the coffee pot.

“You’re grounded?”

“Only for an hour. Greg found some tracks on the driveway that he worked out were wheelchair tracks. He’s borrowed my chair so that the computer can accumulate enough reference data to make a comparison model for the manufacturers.”

“Ah. We don’t often get wheelchair tracks.”

“No. Greg’s first I think,” offered Sara, gratefully taking the coffee from Catherine.

“You smell!” was Sara’s quick response as Catherine passed her

“And I love you too” countered Catherine cheekily as she set her coffee on the table before repositioning Sara slightly.

“Seriously, I thought you were at a collision on the Freeway….” began Sara, trying to picture the assignment slip.

“I was, but the second car didn’t stay on the freeway. I’ve been processing the ditch!”

“Oh, sorry,” came Sara’s sheepish reply

“Don’t worry, you’re forgiven. Anyway, I shall just have to curry favour with the Boss to get some better assignments!” teased Catherine as she pulled Sara’s shoes off her feet and hoisted them into her lap before beginning a gentle yet firm massage on them. Surprised at having her legs moved, Sara glanced to see where her feet were and, on seeing what Catherine was up to, smiled at her lover.

“Thank you” came the simple yet heart felt reply.

“I love you too.” Replied Catherine, seriously this time. To the casual eavesdropper, the exchange may have sounded one sided, with Catherine offering all the affection and Sara just receiving it, but eavesdropping doesn’t allow all the evidence to be presented. On occasion, the phrase ‘actions speak louder than words’ becomes something more than an overused cliché. Early on in their acquaintance, Catherine had made the mistake of assuming that, because Sara rarely entered into a conversation on a topic outside of forensic science, that meant she had no opinion, view or contribution to make about other subjects. Later, this misnomer was corrected and Catherine discovered Sara’s most comfortable vocabulary – her smiles and frowns. Sara could communicate more in a single look than Catherine felt she could in a lengthy speech. Spoken words of affection, whilst heartfelt, are not always intimate. A murmured “Love You” in the company of others is shared, made public, broadcast to all who can hear. A look or a glance, no matter how fleeting, Catherine had quickly learnt, when being sent to her by Sara, was far more intimate and private. That look was for her and no one else. That unabashed smile, with no hint of self-consciousness about the gap between her teeth? That was love, and it was all Catherine’s.

After a few tranquil minutes, Catherine reluctantly stopped her massage. The quiet, almost domestic time had done even more than her hot shower had to soothe her fraying nerves and tense muscles. It had served also as a time to check on her lover’s well being. No matter how rational or irrational her fear was, a part of Catherine was always concerned that Sara’s seemingly redundant legs would get abandoned by her circulation. Even before the accident, Sara had admitted to getting numb feet on occasion. Now, without any sensation at all, there was sometimes a seed of worry in Catherine’s mind, despite protestations from her rational inner scientist based on medical advice and physiotherapy routines. The massaging was, in a way, purely selfish on her part, since Sara couldn’t feel it, but at some point it had become a ritual that the two of them shared, grounding each of them and renewing their connection in much the same way that a kiss or making love also did.

Catherine had just replaced Sara’s shoes when Greg returned to the break room. His arrival caught Catherine’s eye before Sara’s.

“Hey Greg, I hear you’ve been playing with wheelchair tracks?”

“Yes. Jacqui and I now have an image the manufacturers can use for comparison on the tyre, as well as the pitch angle for the wheel. How was your case?”

“Muddy! So, that was your first wheelchair print?”

“Yeah, and Sara went all Grissom on me!” protested Greg, hoping to have a sympathetic audience with Catherine.

“Sara went all Grissom?”

“She made me take tracks from her chair when she knew just by looking at the photos what they were!” pouted Greg good-naturedly

“And so you told her about 40 minutes after you’d asked her for help what they were when she could have told you within seconds?” summarised Catherine

“Yup.”

“And you’re calling that ‘going all Grissom’?”

“Yes. “ Greg began to sound hesitant. Is it such a good idea to complain to your colleague, in front of your Boss, that her lover resembles Gil Grissom?

“I like it! Anyways, I’ve got evidence to process.” And so, having topped up her mug and squeezed Sara’s shoulder affectionately in passing, Catherine left, allowing Sara to unravel her latest ‘intrigue’ with Greg.



Days turn into nights turn into days. In truth, for the long term members of the graveyard shift, ‘day’ and ‘night’ had little meaning anymore. Is night when you work or when you sleep? Philosophical ponderings aside, at some point a new ‘day’ had dawned and now a new shift was begun.

“How was your night off?” Catherine asked Nick as he helped himself to a cup of coffee at the start of shift.

“Really great thanks. How was the shift?”

“You missed Catherine mud wrestling!” offered Greg enthusiastically, seemingly oblivious to the death glare that was being sent his way.

“Oh man. I always miss the good stuff!” was Nick’s only response.

“What good stuff?” asked Warrick, as he arrived for shift.

“Apparently Cath here was mud wrestling last night?”

“Well, we both processed a scene standing thigh deep in mud, if that’s what you’re talking about?”

“You really know how to squash a guy’s fantasy, don’t you?” was Greg’s deflated comment in response to Warwick’s realism.

“Thankfully,” came Catherine’s dry quip, shooting a grateful look in Warrick’s direction.

“So a quiet shift then?” asked Nick, returning to more serious matters

“Yeah. Greg got some wheelchair treads, we closed our freeway crash. All in all, a fairly average shift” concluded Catherine.

“Well, this one isn’t” interjected a new voice from the doorway.

All faces turned to look at Sara as she entered the break room, a pile of files in her lap.

“Before you ask, no, we’re not getting help from day shift as they are already pulling a double due to some casino heists that happened a couple of hours ago. And no, we’re not helping them with those, because we’ve just been slammed. Tonight would seem to be the night.”

“Casino heists?” asked Nick, clearly surprised by the news

“All three of Sam Braun’s places were hit within 10 seconds of each other.”

“But those places have automatic hook ups with the police department. Instantaneous response and lock down type stuff.” Volunteered Warrick clearly baffled as to how this could have occurred. For casinos as big and successful as Sam Braun’s, a few million dollars on a state of the art security system was peanuts in comparison with the amount of money a casino had in its vaults.

“True, but no one anticipated a take down of all three together. The combined system fried, thought it was a systems error and so shut down and reset itself, nullifying any help it could give us. The casinos have collectively agreed to hush it up. Day shift is having a field day with it. We’re not helping.” What Sara didn’t say was that she and Catherine had come in when it happened to help, in anticipation of the two shifts working together, only for the Sam Braun connection to emerge. At that moment, everyone agreed that the graveyard crew really shouldn’t get involved unless it became absolutely vital because, for Sara and Catherine at least, this could be regarded as a family case.

Now, two hours later, the decision had been taken out of their hands as the graveyard shift caught a case that, on any other night of the year would have justified them calling on the day shift for help.

“We’re going out into the desert. Forty minutes ago there was an explosion in a small ravine/canyon type thing at the side of the road. A motorist some distance away spotted it and called it in. Helicopters were sent up to find it, getting us an exact location and some photographs of the epicentre and surrounding blast zone.” At this point, Sara passed out some photographs.

“Gees, that’s one hell of a scene we’ve got to process” was Nick’s comment.

“The helicopters are estimating a debris zone of about 3 square miles. On scene reports from local fire crews are suggesting signs of a vehicle or vehicles, as well as evidence of human body parts,” continued Sara.

“That’s not caused by a few gas tanks.” Observed Greg

“Which is why we’re still here, and not already at the scene?” came Warrick’s speculative enquiry. Nodding, Sara took up the explanation.

“Haz-Chem are currently assessing the scene to see what other agents are present. As Greg says, there was something more potent than gasoline there, be it chemical or even nuclear. LVPD are checking with all the licensed truck firms for chemicals and radioactive materials to see if they are missing any trucks. Until then, we and the Coroner’s Office are waiting to hear if we have to go in suited up. We’re going to have to take so much kit as it is, so the more information we can have before we go, the better.” Pausing to gather in the photographs, Sara took a calming breath to try and slow her racing pulse. As horrendous as this scene was, this was what the criminalist in her now lived for. Since her accident, she rarely went out to scenes, only getting out for the politically sensitive or massive ‘all-hands-on-deck’ ones.

“Brass is going to come by and we’re all going out together. Since he knows how we work the best out of all the captains, he’s going to be running the police once we get control, no matter whether it’s a homicide or not. He’ll bring the most up to date information. In the mean time, go and change into overalls since site access is by rope line only.” At this, Sara couldn’t help but grimace. No matter how determined she was, there was no way she was going to be able to abseil into the scene like she might once have. This was going to be a case where she would be forced to supervise ‘hands-off.’ As the groans of the CSIs penetrated her mental meanderings, she refocused and said, in rarely used commanding tone

“Go. Change. Check all the Tahoes to make sure you have more than full stocks of everything we normally need. More kit will meet us there, so the Tahoes will just need to get us started. Everyone meet back here changed and ready in one hour.” Recognising the dismissal for what it was, the CSIs quickly drained coffee cups before heading out to go and sort themselves out. Nothing was said as each person was beginning to prepare themselves for what the night was going to bring. Holding back, Catherine waited for the room to clear of all but Sara before perching on the edge of the sofas right next to Sara. Drawing one of Sara’s hands into her lap, Catherine waited until Sara focussed on her.

“Hey, stay calm. You can do this.”

“But what if I can’t Cat?”

“When has Sara Sidle not done what she set her mind to? You want to do this, and can do this.”

“This is big Cat, bigger than the bus crash, bigger than the dead plane guy. This is a big scene full of we don’t know what!” Sara’s voice began to rise as the stress she was beginning to feel crept in to her tone.

“Think Sara, remember what Grissom said when he told you about being supervisor. Remember the conversation.” Catherine spoke gently, seemingly becoming more relaxed as Sara became tenser. Finally, Sara seemed to really hear what Catherine was almost cooing and after a moment, began to visibly calm as she remembered the conversation she had with Grissom and Brass the day it was suggested she should become supervisor.

#####################

“No, no way.”

“But I thought you were ambitious Sara?” came Grissom’s emotionless response.

“Yes, but not to go straight to supervisor. What about everybody else? Catherine has seniority……”

“I’m not recommending Catherine.” Grissom interjected, in that same neutral tone.

“Why now? You never gave it to me on the nights you were away….”

“You didn’t need the opportunity. The others all benefited from the insight. You already had that.” Again, Grissom parried Sara’s emotional thrust with cool rationale.

“I was never really a ‘team’ person, why the hell do you think I can lead one?”

“Wrong. You are a team person. You’re dependable, confident, respectful, have integrity. What you were not always was communicative, but that is hardly a requirement. You and Catherine both accused me, correctly, of being less than forthcoming on many occasions. A supervisor needs to inspire their team, to lead, often by example. You can do all of that,” countered Grissom, still remaining completely calm.

“I’M A BLOODY CRIPPLE!” shouted Sara, Grissom’s ever increasing calmness in the face of her anger only angering her further.

“And I’m deaf. Sara, we don’t solve at the scene, we start the case. Once we’ve collected the evidence, we return to the lab where we outthink the criminal, thereby making the case for Brass or whoever. You don’t think with your legs, you use your senses, which are unchanged. Going to the scene doesn’t matter. How many cases am I involved in?”

“All of them, even the slam dunks.” Admitted Sara quietly, still simmering.

“How many scenes do I go to?”

“Not all of them” conceded Sara grudgingly.

“So, what’s the problem? I supervise cases from the lab, so can you.”

“But I don’t know how!”

“Yes you do. What was your role in Greg’s training, exactly?” At this change in questioning, Brass couldn’t help but break into a smile. He could see where Grissom was going, and it was down the home straight. Everything was going to be fine.

There was a long pause as Sara obviously processed all the available information and evidence available to her. Finally, the pause was broken by Sara’s near whisper

“I taught him when he needed to learn, helped him when he needed help, oversaw his work when he did things alone. I tried to do everything for him that you do and did for me.”

“And what am I?”

“My supervisor” came the hollow response

“And you did everything I did. Sara, you may not have ever been supervisor in name, but you did all the jobs. I never gave you the acting-supervisor job because you couldn’t learn from it, the others could. Keep doing what you did for Greg, with a bit more paperwork, and you’ll be a great supervisor.” At this point, rather than sounding neutral, Grissom’s voice finally had some warmth and support in it.

“Excuse me.” After a long pause, Sara had abruptly pushed back and began moving away from the table towards the door, excusing herself almost as an afterthought. As she headed outside, Brass made to follow her, only to be stopped by Grissom.

“No, let her go. Let her do what she does best.”

“What’s that?”

“Process the evidence.”

#######################################

“Honey?”

Sara was drawn back to the present from her recollection to look at Catherine.

“I can do this Cat, can’t I?”

“Most definitely.”

“I’m scared” admitted Sara shyly.

“There’s no need to be. You are a great leader Sara. You have the knowledge. You have the respect.” Catherine carefully helped Sara’s at times fledgling self-belief gather and grow into the sort of confidence she had when it came to evidence. Squeezing the clasped hand, she unknowingly echoed the words that Grissom said to Brass that night in the restaurant

“Just do what you do best.”

“What’s that?” came the tentative reply that, from anyone else, would have seen to be a hook cast specifically to fish for a compliment. Catherine knew that her lover’s question was genuine and once again cursed the people who, over the years, had broken Sara’s belief in herself so badly. However, before Catherine could reply, a new voice offered the response from the doorway.

“Process the evidence Sara. That’s where the answers are.” Smiling, Catherine looked up to greet the new person.

“Jim. Either you got here quicker than we expected, or I’m running late?”

“A bit of both I’m afraid.” Offered Jim as he came all the way into the break room, heading to the coffee pot to grab what would probably be his last cup for a very long time. Smiling weakly, Sara lifted their clasped hands to her lips and placed a fleeting kiss on Catherine’s knuckles before releasing them. Looking into Catherine’s clear blue eyes, Sara said quietly

“Thank you. Go get changed. I can do this.”

“I know you can babe, I know you can.” And with that, Catherine rose smoothly to her feet and left the room, giving Sara’s shoulder one final reassuring squeeze, heading for the locker room to change. After a brief moment, Jim, complete with two cups of coffee, sat down at the table and began to spread out his papers. Sara went to join him.

“I’m guessing you now know more than dispatch knew when they spoke to me half an hour ago?” offered Sara as a conversation opener. Despite becoming more relaxed and open around other people since the double effect of her accident and relationship with Catherine, she still found herself most comfortable when talking about work. Then, no small talk was needed.

“Not much, but certainly more. Haz Chem have assessed it and decided that there was something as well as gasoline, but whatever it is, they don’t know. They do know that the site is non-hazardous for personnel.”

“Meaning we can go in without needing gas tanks and masks.” Clarified Sara, skimming the outline notes contained in the relevant email.

“Glad you understand this science stuff, I’m rather out of my depth with a lot of it.” Offered Jim apologetically.

“But you understand more of it than a lot of the PD, and you understand how important it is, which is why the Commissioner made you the guy in charge,” volunteered Sara honestly, still engrossed in the various reports provided by Jim.

“If you say so” Jim was evidently reluctant to accept this. Whilst he had once run the CSI department, Holly Gibbs’ death had had a significant impact on not only his job, but also his own self belief that had seen a re-emergence when Sara had been shot. However, the night of the biggest scene the lab had ever had to Jim’s knowledge, was not the time to be having such thoughts. Taking a deep breath and a gulp of coffee, he forced himself to refocus on informing Sara of everything he knew. “Anyways, we’re now checking all the chemical firms in the area to see if someone has lost something that could go bang. In the mean time, the fire department are busy making sure that nothing is burning. By the time we get there, they say they will be ready to let you in.”

“Which is going to be a hell of a problem - that ravine means everyone is going to have to be harnessed and roped in” responded Sara pragmatically, shuffling through the various Polaroids that had been produced from somewhere.

“Yeah - this is where it becomes your show,” said Brass simply, causing Sara to look up with a start.

“My show?”

“Yes. All the Chiefs agree that there is nothing that can be done until we work out what the hell happened up there. Right now, we don’t know who, what, how, why, any of those helpful questions. That’s what the geek squad can tell us, and you run the geek squad.” Geek Squad was usually used as an insult, but Brass’ smile took the sting from the words.

“So CSI has complete control of the scene?” asked Sara, trying to comprehend the situation.

“Sara, YOU have control of the scene.” Brass, conscious of the struggles that Sara had at times with her position, carefully set out exactly what was going to happen at the scene.

“Until we know exactly what happened, no one can do anything. CSI is the group that can find the answers. The faster you find the answers, the faster we can all do our bit. So, since no one can do anything ‘til you’ve done your thing, we’re all standing by ready to help however we can. My guys will do what I tell them. The Fire Chief’s guys will do what he tells him. The Coroner’s guys will do what Doc Robbins tells them. But the Chief, the Doc and I, we do what you tell us to do. Sara, it’s your scene to process.” Brass placed a fatherly hand on her left hand, hoping to transmit strength to the still uncertain woman. Ever since her accident, Sara had gradually blossomed into an outgoing, confident woman as she learnt through necessity that she didn’t need to be completely self-sufficient and that there were people who genuinely loved and cared for her, but there were still times when Jim was reminded of the ‘old Sara’, whose self-belief and confidence outside of straight forensic science had been eroded to nothing by previous events and experiences.

“I’ve never run a scene this big before Jim…..” came the quiet admission.

“I know, but Grissom once told me that there were no big scenes, only smaller scenes. There is nothing about this scene you haven’t dealt with before. Just break it down like you would any other. Don’t worry about the size; don’t worry about all the people. Just do what you normally do. We’re all here with you.” Taking a deep breath, Sara slide her hand out from Jim’s and said quietly

“This is just like any other scene.” Like a boxer might repeat their mantra before a fight. Remembering everything that Grissom had taught and shown her, everything that Brass had supported her through, remembering everything she had overcome since the shooting, remembering Catherine’s unwavering love for her, drawing on her love for Catherine and the thirst for forensics she still had, she looked at Jim. Eyes that had been clouded with fear and worry were now dark and clear, full of determination and confidence. As Grissom had observed, the legs may not work but the mind was, if anything, sharper. Sara knew how to do this. Sara could do this. Sara was going to do this.

“Right…This is going to take more than 5 CSIs to process. It’s going to take a hell of lot more than 5 CSIs to process this scene before next week. We need more bodies.” Brass couldn’t help but smile. This was the Sara he knew, this was the Sara he remembered from the night of the shooting, right before all hell broke loose. Cool, calm, focused, determined Sara, irrespective of the circumstances. This was the Sara that was running this case.

“Day shift?”

“Busy.” Sara fired off her answers as she was once again rifling through photographs and papers.

“On what?”

“100 million dollars that went walkies from 3 casinos. No day shift helpers.”

“No shit? Can you get any from any other labs? FBI?”

“Nope. The FBI are already on standby to cover any major scenes that come up whilst we’re on this one, and you know damn well that there are no other labs we can wake up.”

“Major scenes?”

“It’s a Friday night in Vegas. When was the last time you had one of those without a DB?”

“So no more CSIs; who do we call?”

“We need as many official bodies as we can: Cops, cadets, firemen. I don’t care. The Coroner’s Office need to do autopsies, we need to find the bodies. We need people with flashlights walking across every inch of that blast area looking for bits of vehicle, bits of anything, possibly even body parts.”

“Cops I’ve got. Any cop within 100 miles who has line training is being called in. The fire chief is doing the same with some of his guys. We can do flashlight searches.”

“Good. We’re going to need lots of kit: Markers, bags, cameras. You got any police photographers spare?”

“You always complain when you see our photographs.”

“That’s because they don’t know what to photograph. Technically, their ability to take the photographs is fine, so they can take the pictures that we tell them to, given the scene is going to be virtually pitch black.”

“Yeah, they can get clean shots of what you tell them too. I’ll round up a few. The fire chief should have a couple spare too.” Brass began making notes in his pocket book, Sara, oblivious, continued on her assessment based on what she currently knew.

“We need every vehicle the lab has out there, even the Day shift ones. They’re back at the lab now so don’t need them. We’ll need the big rig to bring evidence back and the major incident truck needs to have some kit loaded into it.”

“Major Incident truck needs kit?”

“I remember reading in the package I was given about disaster management. There is a plan where by the major incident truck can be loaded up with some basic kit so that we can do some preliminary tests at the scene. They always need to be redone for court and convictions, but in San Francisco we found it useful to help us direct our focus on processing the scene,” explained Sara, beginning to gain confidence as, amongst other things, her memories drew together to show her that she did know how to deal with a scene of this magnitude, even if some of her experiences had only been as a CSI 1 in San Francisco.

“Ok, who do I talk to?”

“Huh? Oh, the CSI in charge . . . which I guess would be me.” Pausing a moment to consider her best course of action, she reached for her cell phone and rang Greg.

“Sanders.”

“Greg, where are you?”

“Finishing checking the kit with the others.”

“Stop doing that. Go to my office. There is a binder on the shelf labelled ‘CSI DM MIT’. I think it’s red. Take it and go and find whichever tech you think is the best all-round tech, who can do a bit of everything well, but especially scopes and chem tests. Do exactly what the binder says. You’re going to convert the major incident truck into a basic multi-purpose lab so that we can do field tests.”

“I don’t know how to do that” came Greg’s nervous reply as he made his way back up to Sara’s office.

“Yes you do. It’s basically ringing people and telling them what to do. Everyone knows what to do. You then check it with the tech and make sure you’re both happy that everything is there and then it gets driven out to the scene.”

“How do I get to the scene?” Greg, trying to keep his fear under control, tries to focus on the relatively mundane.

“Uh, point 22 on the list I think. A police car drives you out at speed to catch us up. Greg, you can do this, just follow the process.” Sara’s words of confidence do as much to Greg’s confidence as he dreamt a kiss might once have. On hearing them, even though she can’t see him, he stands a bit taller and walks a bit faster. Sara’s belief in him helps him have belief in himself.

“CSI DM MIT. Possibly red ring binder. Grab Bobby and together we do exactly what it says. Does he need to get changed too?”

“Yes.”

“Right. We’ll see you at the scene.” And with that, Greg hung up, setting about his task.

Putting her phone away, Sara glances at Brass to see he’s smirking.

“What?”

“You”

“What about me?” asked Sara, frowning slightly.

“You’ve risen to the occasion. How the hell do you know about the disaster management programme like that?”

“Umm, I read the manual when I was given it?” Sara’s response clearly implying that this should seem obvious, as if to say ‘Surely I thought everyone read every line of every procedural manual and memorised it?’

“Why?” Brass obviously hasn’t.

“Same reason she subscribes to gun magazines and reads all the latest journals. It might be useful one day,” offered Catherine as the rest of the CSIs, minus Greg, return to the break room, making Sara blush.

“Like I said, you’re doing a grand job. Now, what else do you need?”

“Umm, vehicles?”

“You said you need all the Tahoes, both shift’s sets. Greg’s sorting the Major Incident Truck, and I presume someone somewhere knows about the big rig?” recapped Brass.

“How we getting out to the scene?” asked Nick, as Sara seemed lost in deep thought.

“Caning it in a convoy” Was Brass’ quick response.

“We need more police drivers then. Those Tahoes are fully loaded now. We can’t drive them in a blue light convoy when they’re that heavy. They need drivers who are pursuit trained,” stated Sara.

“Let me guess, the disaster management pack?” queried Brass lightly, already scribbling something down.

“Yes.”

“Ok. I’m guessing 12 Tahoes?” At Sara’s nod, Brass continued “Ok. Drivers I can do. They’re department vehicles, so my guys can drive them. Given how many guys I’m sending out there, there should be 12 around who can drive those tanks. I’ll go make some calls.” As Brass took his leave, Sara called out

“About the big rig, call Traffic. It’s over at the garages and comes with a driver.”

Waving in acknowledgement, Brass moved out into the corridor so that he could make his calls as the CSIs worked out what they were going to do.

Continue to CSI part 2



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