Rating: R for disturbing content
Archive: Please ask first I might way yes.
Disclaimer: CSI belongs to CBS and Alliance-Atlantis Productions. No infringement intended.
Feedback: Love it, but no flames please I'm fragile!!
Author's Note: We're all grown-ups here, right? We should probably figure that in 15 months of dating, Sara and Hank did the dirty deed at least once. However, for the purposes of this story (and keeping my dinner down), let's pretend it never happened, okay? Just think of it a blatant plot device; that's all Hank ever was.
Thanks to all who have read this and have given me feedback. Special thanks to Mossley and LSI for the close readings and good ideas - you are the best.
Summary: SS, CW, and GG work on a case that has them examining their commitments to their ethics.
It was Sunday night, and time to choose another dragon to slay. Her eyes played down the printout, further than she had looked before.
"Positive proof that evolution can run in reverse," she said, marking the next name. His name was Patrick Samuell, and he had been convicted of one count of indecency with a child and one count of child pornography. When he was arrested, they had found a video he had shot of an encounter with an eight-year-old boy. He had made several copies, apparently with the intent to distribute them.
"Bad enough what you did to that little boy, but to try to profit off of it..." she said, shaking her head to try to dislodge the mental image forming there.
She printed out the map of the area of his last known address. Tomorrow she would begin her research on Samuell.
Lilith decided to check in on Sara, calling her on her cell phone. "I haven't heard from you for a while," she said. "Just checking in."
"I've been busy," Sara confided. "Unfortunately, yours isn't the only case I have."
"This next one is a doozy. What a slimeball!" Lilith allowed.
"They're all slimeballs," Sara said, trying to get her to be more specific.
"Yeah, but this one is a real piece of work. Not only did he rape that boy, but filmed it. Like it's something to be proud of! Maybe I should film him getting his dick cut off, as a sequel," she laughed.
"I'd appreciate that," Sara chuckled. "It would certainly be incontrovertible evidence."
"Hmmm. I guess you're right. But it was a fun fantasy while it lasted."
"I'm on the schedule for Sunday, of course, but I have a couple of days off this week. So if he does anything to hasten his departure, call me on my cell," Sara instructed.
"Will do," Lilith said brightly. "Later!" she chirped, then hung up.
Sara was already logging onto the sexual offenders database to search for men who molested a boy and filmed it. Lilith had screwed up again.
* * * * *
Sara was reciting the names of the five men in Las Vegas who fit the victim profile. They were going through the police reports on each of them when Jacqui came bursting through the door, huffing from the run.
"I've got a match on AFIS. Your composite print," she said, talking to Sara but handing the report to Catherine.
"Lilian Corte, age 35. Had her fingerprints taken because she's a licensed insurance broker in the state of Illinois."
"Lilian - Lilith. First victims, Chicago, Illinois," Grissom affirmed.
Sara ran across the hall to a workstation to look up the driver's license data on Lilian Corte. She cursed the laser printer for being too slow as it spit out the screen print. She ran back into the breakroom to deliver it to Catherine.
Sara rifled through her burgeoning file to pull up the five names of women who had moved to Vegas from Boston, having lived in Chicago before. The second name was Lilian Corte. Picking out Brass's report that she had just received, it was one of only three names of women who received tetanus shots that Sunday. "We've got her!" she squealed, slamming the pages down in front of Grissom and Catherine. Both looked at the pages as if to burn the images in their minds, then treated Sara to two beaming smiles.
"Like I said, you done good, kiddo!" Catherine said, reaching across to grab Sara's hand.
Grissom took the opportunity to do the same with Sara's other hand, feeling like Catherine's first move gave him cover.
Looking at the hands grasping hers, Sara snarked, "If you guys start singing Kum-baya, I'm out of here."
The three laughed as they gathered the papers spread all over the break room table. Grissom called Brass to get a warrant to search Lilian Corte's apartment. It was almost over - he could feel it. Soon he wouldn't have to worry about Sara anymore... at least until the next time, he reminded himself.
* * * * *
Brass met them at the door, warrant in hand. He knocked, but there was no response. He pounded on the door and announced himself, but there was no answer. He waved forward an officer, who inserted a tool in the keyhole and punched out the lock. The two policemen entered slowly, guns drawn.
Brass took a moment to look back at the CSIs. "You stay here," he said. After one more step, he turned his head back around and looked directly at Sara, "And I mean it," he said forcefully. She rolled her eyes, and shook her head as the other two CSIs gave her knowing 'you deserved that' looks.
After less than two minutes Brass returned to the front to usher them into the house. He posted the officer at the door and followed them in. The three instantly broke up, scanning the living area, but finding it rather bare. It was obvious that Lilian Corte hadn't spent much time personalizing the apartment, as though she didn't expect to stay long.
In the bedroom they found a bed, a dresser, and a desk with a late-model personal computer sitting on it. Apparently, Lilian spent most of her at-home time on the PC. A map was still displaying on the monitor, and Sara pulled out the chair to sit in front of the computer. She printed the map, then looked at the history to see what Lilian had been looking at prior to the map. The sexual offenders list materialized on the screen.
"You are so busted," she said under her breath.
Catherine and Grissom split up, with Grissom taking the bathroom and Catherine the closet.
Grissom opened his kit and removed a swab, rubbing it around the drain of the sink, then coating the swab's tip with phenolthalein and hydrogen peroxide. It turned pink, indicating blood, but it wasn't a strong reaction. He marked the evidence and boxed it.
Looking through the trash, he noticed a few bandaids that had blood on the pads. Pleased to have a sample of Lilian's blood, he bagged them. To match the blood to her, he also took some hair out of her brush.
He carefully dusted around the sink area, where the smooth surfaces of the porcelain and chrome often hold the best prints. He wasn't disappointed, gathering several prints from more than one finger. Though they already had a hit on the composite print, Grissom felt it wise to gather full sets. Jacqui's experimental work on the composite might not stand up under court scrutiny.
Catherine was sitting in front of the closet, picking up one shoe at a time, swabbing it for blood trace before setting it aside. It was hard not to be disappointed as one shoe after the next came up negative. She decided to bag them all, separately, for Hodges to take a look at. He might be able to get some trace that would tie the shoe to a specific location. Catherine reasoned that even if she wore shoe covers to commit the crimes, she probably didn't wear them on her approach or withdrawal from the scenes.
She stood and went through the few clothes hanging in the closet, abandoning that to look through the dresser. She decided that there was few enough articles of outerwear that she could spray them with Luminol to check for spatter.
"Sara, I'm going to turn out the light," she warned, getting a distracted grunt in reply. She was still busy checking the PC for recent activity. The darkness in the rest of the room wouldn't affect her in the least.
Catherine mixed the solution in the spray bottle and quickly began coating the clothes with a light mist. On the edge of a long-sleeved shirt she got a small glowing speck, no more than a few millimeters in diameter. She quickly circled it with a pen and moved on to the other clothes. None of the others fluoresced. Smiling, she folded the shirt, spatter in the middle, and bagged it.
Sara had finished looking at the recent history and began to rifle through the desk drawers. She found the printout with names highlighted. "I've got her list!" Sara shouted out, bringing Grissom, Catherine and Brass to her side.
"God, I love it when it all starts falling into place!" she beamed. "All you have to do is find one crack in the wall, and soon the whole thing is rubble," she said. Sara hadn't intended a double entendre, but Grissom found the need to busy himself elsewhere nonetheless.
Brass immediately called for an APB to pick up Lilian Corte, and sent an officer to the home of Patrick Samuell. It was likely that if she weren't home at this ungodly hour, then she was stalking her next victim, the only highlighted name on the list that hadn't turned up dead and castrated.
The team wordlessly gathered the evidence they had collected and retreated, anxious to get to the lab to begin processing it, tying all the loose ends together. It was up to Brass and the police to complete the task.
* * * * *
It had been two busy days since they had gathered the evidence at Lilian Corte's house, and the police had still been unable to locate her. None would say it aloud yet, but they were beginning to fear that she had moved on, as she had done in the past. Only this time, it was because she had found her worthy opponents and had to run.
Brass sat tiredly, slumped to the side of a chair across from Grissom. He liked the dark peacefulness of Grissom's office, being used to the unusual decor after so many years of knowing him.
"What do you think, Gil? Think she's flown the coop?" Brass growled out.
"I don't know. Maybe. She's done it before," he sighed. "We were so close... so close."
"How did she know?" Brass asked rhetorically.
"She had been watching us, so maybe she saw us go to her house and got spooked," Grissom offered.
"Naw, I doubt that. It's possible, but I doubt it," Brass said, shaking his head 'no'. "Why would she be watching any of us if we weren't at a crime scene? If anything, she'd be watching Samuell."
"Maybe she saw the cop you sent to Samuell's house and put two and two together," Grissom suggested.
"That's probably it," Brass conceded, not fully convinced, but not being able to think of an alternative.
* * * * *
Sara had her part of the report completed and ready to turn in to Grissom. She approached his office, but stopped when she heard another voice, one she recognized as Brass's. Since the door was open, it was obviously not a private conversation, and she was going to pop in to deliver the reports, but the conversation stopped her. She beat a hasty retreat back to her workstation.
Within fifteen minutes she had what she needed and made her way back to Grissom's office. Brass had left and Grissom was sitting alone, signing the reports his CSIs had been turning in at a steady pace. He looked up and looked at her ruefully, knowing that she was going to give him more paperwork to review and sign.
She handed him her folder, and he thanked her mechanically, turning his attention back to the pile of forms. When she didn't leave, he cast his eyes back up to her questioningly.
"These are the records from my cell phone, my home phone, and my work extension for the past three days," she said, laying several sheets of paper down in front of him.
Grissom looked at them uncomprehending, then back at her, confusion written all over his face.
"I didn't warn her," Sara said vehemently.
"That thought never crossed my mind," Grissom said honestly.
"It would have, sooner or later," she retorted.
"No. I trust you," he said, getting up to move to her side of his desk.
"You asked me a question before, that I didn't answer. I told you it was moot, and it was... it is. But now that the investigation is over, I can answer it now," she said softly, not wanting her voice to carry into the hall.
Grissom reached over and closed the door, waiting for her to continue.
"Yes, I do agree with Lilith... Lilian... to some extent. But that doesn't mean I couldn't do my job. They are letting those animals out of jail as fast as they are putting them in. They should all be killed. If not by the system, well..." she trailed off. "Anyway, I can see how someone with her history would snap and decide to mete out retribution on their own."
Grissom didn't comment, instead looking back and forth between her eyes. "Sympathy for the devil?" he finally asked.
"Empathy might be a more precise term," she said, looking away from him.
Grissom closed his eyes. "Did you lie to me?... about the other?" he breathed out, an overwhelming sadness in his voice.
This time, she was prepared and didn't skip a beat. "No, Grissom, I didn't. It didn't happen to me, but to someone I love very much... a very good friend of mine," she said. "And I would do anything to take that pain away from him."
"Would you kill for him?" Grissom asked.
"I would die for him," she answered instead.
"But would you kill for him?" Grissom pressed.
"If it would make it all go away... I would be tempted. But no, I don't think I could kill anyone except to protect the life of another," she said, obviously torn between her ethics and her emotions. "But then again, Grissom, there are a lot of things that I know are wrong, that I never thought I'd do, but that I've done anyway," she shrugged.
"I'm proud of you. You were very strong. Often I'm faced with a choice between what I know is right and what my heart wants me to do. I know how hard it can be."
Sara snapped her eyes to him sharply, her brows knitted in thought. Knowing his propensity for double entendres, she wondered if the course of the conversation was changing.
"That's why I was worried about you with this case. When you are constantly confronted with a temptation to do something that seems so right to you emotionally, but goes against your ethics, well, it can wear you down, tear you apart. Next thing you know, you can't resist anymore. Then you've lost what respect you had for yourself."
"Sounds like you've had to be very strong about something, too," Sara said compassionately.
"It hasn't been easy, and I think I'm losing ground," Grissom admitted. "I'm starting to doubt my ability to hold on, and I can't even remember why the ethic is important anymore."
"Maybe it's not your ethic, but someone else's that you've just accepted," she suggested.
"Maybe," he agreed. "I don't know anymore."
"If you went against your ethic, would it hurt anyone?" she probed.
"It might," he conceded. "I mean, it could have unintended consequences."
"Does the ethic itself hurt anyone?"
"Yes, it does," he answered. "Two people that I know of. Maybe more."
"You do have a dilemma then. I don't envy you," she said gently. "I guess I was fortunate. When Lilith left, I didn't have to face the choice anymore."
Grissom looked up and slowly shifted his eyes to hers. The conversation had already been very uncomfortable for him, even as vague as it was. And now it was taking a turn that shot fear into his emotional mix.
"If it's that painful for you, maybe I can help you with your dilemma, the same way Lilith helped me," Sara offered, her voice wavering and cracking with emotion. She fought to put a smile on her face, but it was a smile of resignation, not happiness.
"That might help with the ethics part, but what about my feelings?" he asked, struggling to force words through a desert-dry mouth.
"Feelings change," she said simply.
His face looked pained and he was struggling to control the swirl of emotions that was bombarding him with demands and questions.
"Sara," he sighed. "I was telling you the truth. I really don't know what to do about this." He looked at her, hoping she would see that he would not be that conflicted unless he loved her very much. If nothing else, he wanted her to know that.
"I do," she said quietly but firmly, holding his gaze. She leaned in and kissed him on the cheek, her hand softly on his other cheek. She stepped back and turned wordlessly. Facing the door, she paused. "Goodbye, Grissom," she breathed, hanging her head, her body starting to curl in on itself, collapsing into the cavernous hole where her heart had been.
"Sara," he said suddenly, knowing he might never have another opportunity. "You know that I love you... right?"
"Yes. I didn't before, but I do now," she answered, still unable to face him. "I love you, too," she replied.
Sara took another halting step towards the door, her hand braced against the frame to steady herself. "You know, it's just like the case. Just because you've finally got all the facts out in the open, doesn't mean it's all going to work out all right," she said sadly, just before she left his office for they both felt was the very last time.
Author's Note: This was the original ending, intended to be more like the ending to one of the episodes. But for all the die-hard 'shippers out there... an alternate ending is coming!
Previous | Story Index | Next