Title: 48 Hours
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 24 June 2007
Pairing: Sara/Sofia, Catherine/Wendy
Summary: A plot is hatched to abduct a certain CSI and demand ransom for her release; however, there’s one small problem with the plan. The abductors not only took the wrong woman, they took two.
Timeline: Takes place well before #701 “Built to Kill”
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DD07
Disclaimer: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS.
Note: Written for the FemSlash Advent Calendar:: Dog Days of Summer 2007.
Thanks: To AJ and Jenn for hosting yet another successful event.
Special Beta Thanks: To Debbie for her endless patience and constant encouragement.
Light bantering and easy chatter filtered into the hallway as Grissom approached the break room, assignments in hand. A particularly inane comment from Greg had the supervisor shaking his head as he stepped into the room. Almost as one, the team members turned towards the door as Grissom announced his presence, not wasting any time calling out the assignments and pairings for the night.
“We’ve got a DB at the Sands. Nick and Sara, take Greg with you on this one. Burglary at the Rampart, Warrick you go on ahead, and I’ll meet you there. Catherine, suspicious circs at an abandoned warehouse on Industrial Road; see what you can find out. Sofia is already on the scene. Okay, people, let’s go. I have a feeling this is going to be a long night.”
Nick poked Greg in the side and grinned as the pair stood and headed for the door. Sara couldn’t help the groan which escaped her lips; she was definitely not in the mood to listen to the guys tease each other all night. Reaching behind her chair for her vest, the brunette quickly realized she’d left it in her locker, and she called out to her teammates just as they stepped into the hallway
“Hey guys, I’ve got to run by the locker room. I’ll meet you outside.”
The two men nodded and continued to make their way down the corridor as both Sara and Catherine veered in the opposite direction. Once inside the room, each woman silently moved to her respective locker and grabbed her gear but, as Sara turned to leave, the other woman’s voice halted her progress. The redhead was obviously upset, and Sara was relieved to hear the displeasure focused solely on Catherine’s daughter.
“Damn it. I told Lindsay to take her medicine out of my purse this morning. She’s got a sinus infection, and the doctor said it could turn into an upper respiratory problem if she didn’t finish out her antibiotics.”
Glancing at her watch, she mentally calculated the amount of time it would take to make a little side trip home before heading to her crime scene. Sara watched the older woman grimace and decided to offer her help.
“Hey, Cath. Why don’t you and I switch assignments? Your house is much closer to the Sands. No telling how long it’ll take you to get to that warehouse.”
Winking at the other woman, Sara smiled. “Besides, I’ll get to work with Sofia.”
“Ah, so that’s what you’re really after, huh?” Catherine teased, giving the brunette a return wink as she shouldered her purse.
“Okay, that sounds like a plan. I’ll phone Grissom on the way to my house and tell him that we switched. He can bitch at us later.”
Together, the women left the building, heading towards the two Denalis parked nearby. No one noticed Catherine climbing in the passenger side of Nick’s truck while Sara moved to the driver’s side of the next vehicle.
Twenty minutes later, Sara pulled up in front of the warehouse and immediately spied Sofia’s Crown Victoria, but there was no sign of the detective or anyone else, for that matter. The brunette waited inside the truck for several minutes before deciding to begin her search for the blonde. Climbing out of the vehicle, Sara called Sofia’s name as she moved to the open warehouse door.
The CSI peered inside but was unable to see much of anything because of the darkness. Quickly sliding on a pair of gloves, Sara pulled out her flashlight and opened the door further. She cautiously stepped inside and immediately froze at the obvious sound of a gun slide drawing back and clicking into place.
A male voice caused the investigator to shiver as he whispered in her ear. “Put your hands on your head and don’t you dare turn around.”
Very slowly, Sara complied with the man’s orders and, in turn, she was frisked and handcuffed behind her back. A blindfold was then placed over her eyes, and she was led a few feet away.
A truck engine turning over filled the silence in the warehouse as it moved into position in front of the brunette, and the abductor manhandled Sara into the back of the truck, slamming the door closed and leaving her standing in the center of the truck bed.
The sudden forward movement of the truck threw the CSI forward, knocking her to the floor, and Sara immediately expressed resentment of her rough treatment.
“Shit. What the hell is going on?”
“Sara? Is that you?”
“Yes, it’s me.”
Sara slowly crawled towards the sound of the voice. “Can you use your key to uncuff me?”
“No, sorry, I’m cuffed, too, and blindfolded as well.”
“Well, that makes two of us.”
Resigned to their current predicament, the captive women quickly put their heads together in an attempt to come up with some sort of escape plan. Before any solid strategy could be formulated, the truck came to a full stop, throwing Sofia fully on top of Sara. When the door slid open, two heads swung towards the back of the truck.
A shuffling noise alerted the detective that someone was climbing in and moving towards them. Quickly able to pinpoint the man, she rose to her feet and ran straight towards him, hitting him square in the chest and knocking him off balance; however, the momentum threw them both out of the truck to land hard on the ground below.
The voice of the angry man rang out into the night. “Kill the bitch. She attacked me. Boss said we could kill anyone but the Willows woman.”
Standing, Sara yelled, “Wait. Don’t hurt her.”
Two chuckles were heard before one of the men reported, “Too late. Looks like the bitch broke her neck. Check it out, Tom.”
Sara held her breath, waiting for word of the other woman’s condition while desperately trying to maintain her composure.
“Nah. She just knocked herself out. She has a nice size goose egg on her forehead. I say we just shoot her.”
Before Sara could once again voice her objection, the second man ordered, “No! Boss said we could kill any of the men, but he specifically said not to touch any woman we captured.”
Obviously unhappy, Tom replied, “Okay, fine. Let’s take them down to the room and get the hell out of here.”
Sara was guided to the entrance of an abandoned mine shaft while Tom dragged Sofia behind as the two men led their charges directly to an old elevator. Soon, the foursome traveled five floors below the surface to a room on the far side of the shaft.
The men quickly uncuffed the two women and ordered Sara not to remove her blindfold until the door was secured. Sara waited all of five seconds, after the door slammed behind her, before removing her blindfold. Blinking in the dim light of the room, she immediately noticed several shelves lining the far wall. She squinted at the wall until she was finally able to make out several lanterns as well as what appeared to be a supply of food and water but, not only that, there was also a cot located below the shelves with a small table placed alongside it. A lit lantern sat in the middle of the table, offering the only source of light in the entire room.
As her eyes slowly adjusted to the light, her thoughts and memories brightened as well. Quickly turning, she found Sofia lying on the floor near the door. Sara rushed to the detective’s side, kneeling to check on her unconscious lover.
The Ransom Note
Held up by a phone call from Ecklie, Grissom finally headed towards the exit, hoping to join Warrick at the Rampart; however, the minute he placed his hand on the door, the receptionist called to him.
“Dr. Grissom. This package was just delivered for you. The messenger said it was urgent.”
Frowning, Grissom walked over to take the delivery, immediately searching for the return address. When he could only find his name on the large envelope, he turned and headed back towards his office. Warrick was going to have to wait.
The supervisor slid on a pair of gloves and carefully opened the envelope, noting two separate smaller envelopes nestled inside the larger one. Removing the one addressed to him, he placed the second one to the side. The CSI quickly scanned the contents before grabbing the other envelope and, just as he suspected, the name Sam Braun appeared on its front in bold letters.
Grissom immediately reached for his phone, stopping his motion halfway to the receiver, his mind automatically moving into crime solving mode. He couldn’t be too careful now; there were only a handful of people he could trust. First things first, he needed to get to Catherine.
Hurrying down the hallway, deep in thought, Grissom spied Wendy as he passed by her lab. Stopping a few feet away, he turned and smiled; Wendy would be the perfect person to help him hide Catherine.
Soon, his Yukon pulled in front of the Sands next to the already parked Denali. Grissom turned and spoke briefly to his passenger, informing her to stay in the truck while he retrieved Catherine. Nodding her assent, Wendy watched the supervisor climb out of the vehicle and head towards the entrance, silently wondering what was going on.
“Catherine, I need you right now. Drop what you’re doing and come with me. Nick, Greg, I don’t want you to go back to the lab until I’ve spoken to you. In fact, don’t leave this scene until I return. I won’t be long.”
Grabbing Catherine by the arm, Grissom started for the exit as the CSI protested her treatment.
“Gil, what the hell is going on?”
The supervisor didn’t say a word, he merely continued on his way. Catherine opened her mouth to demand an explanation when she suddenly noticed his expression. Grissom was scared, and Grissom never got scared. Clamping down on her jaw, Catherine followed her friend towards the exit, never uttering another word.
Opening the back door for his new passenger, Grissom climbed into the Yukon and quickly drove away, looking in his rearview mirror to be certain that no one was following. Wendy and Catherine exchanged glances, and Wendy just shrugged in silent reply to the unanswered question. She was as much in the dark about what was going on as the redheaded investigator.
“Where do you live, Wendy?”
“Um, in an apartment complex on Sanderson Avenue.”
Nodding, Grissom turned left at the next light, now sure of his destination. Once he got the two women safely inside, he could explain the details of the ransom note.
Wendy nervously placed her key in the lock and turned the knob. When Grissom had first approached her at the lab and asked for her help, she’d hesitated briefly, not quite ready to follow the supervisor blindly into whatever he was proposing. However, at the mention of Catherine’s name, the young DNA specialist dropped everything, agreeing to help in any way she could.
The minute Wendy opened the door and turned on the light; Catherine pounced on the older CSI.
“Okay, Gil. Would you care to explain why you kidnapped me from my scene, and why you enlisted Wendy’s help to do it?
“Funny that you should use the term ‘kidnapping’, Catherine, as that’s the exact reason why we’re here. Somebody wants to take you and hold you for ransom.”
Both Wendy and Catherine looked at their supervisor in shock. Neither woman said another word, waiting for Grissom to explain his preposterous claim; as if reading their minds, he detailed the specifics.
“I received a letter directing me to act as a liaison between Sam Braun and the abductors.” Pausing briefly to be certain he had the CSI’s undivided attention, Grissom elaborated. “Yes, Catherine, abductors; they claim to already have you, stating that they took both you and a policewoman from the warehouse crime scene. I’m supposed to deliver a second letter to Sam, detailing the ransom amount and the means in which it’s to be delivered. It seems that I’m to be both the messenger of the news and the deliverer of the ransom.”
The color immediately drained from Catherine’s face as she efficiently put two and two together. “Oh my God, they’ve got Sara.”
Nodding, Grissom confirmed the statement. “Yes, and they may have Sofia, too. Apparently, the abductors have no idea what you look like so they think they're still on course for the ransom. We’ve got to find them before they realize Sara isn’t you.”
Walking to a nearby chair, Catherine sunk into the soft leather and leaned forward, placing her head in her hands. She quickly sent out a prayer to anyone who would listen that the two women were still alive.
“Um...Grissom? What do you need me to do?” Wendy questioned her supervisor, confused as to what her role was in the supervisor’s plan.
“I need Catherine somewhere safe, somewhere the abductors don’t know about. I’m logging you out and penning you in for a DNA conference in San Francisco. No one will ever suspect that you’re at home. Catherine will stay with you.”
Grissom’s words awoke the unusually quiet redhead from her thoughts. Glancing up sharply, Catherine stood abruptly and turned her protest towards her supervisor.
“Now, just wait a damn minute, Gil. I’m not going to stay hidden away while Sara and Sofia are in danger because some crackpot decided to go after me. Besides, what about Lindsey?”
Holding up his hand to stop the woman’s tirade, Grissom calmly waited until Catherine took a breath.
“Catherine, think about it. If anyone sees you, Sara’s life is forfeit. As long as the abductors continue to believe they have you, she’s safe. We’ve got to play out this charade until we can find them. As for Lindsey, I plan to tell your mother what’s going on. She’ll look after her and the rest of the team will pitch in to help. Lindsey will be just fine.”
Catherine retook her seat and stared down at the floor. She knew Grissom was right and, even though she didn’t like hiding out, she knew Sara and Sofia’s life depended on it. So, the only thing left to do was try to figure out how this had happened.
“Gil, how did these guys know that I’d be at the warehouse? Hell, I didn’t even know until you gave the assignment.”
Grissom frowned, still uncertain as to the specifics. “I’m not totally sure, Catherine, but I suspect it's an inside job; *someone* at the lab overheard and alerted the abductors. I also suspect that this had been planned for quite some time, and they were just waiting for the perfect opportunity to grab you. The warehouse was the ideal time and location; however, I don’t believe they’d thought about the possibility of a police officer arriving on scene. Sofia was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“Hmm, why do you think they took her? Why not just knock her out, or, God forbid, kill her?”
The supervisor shook his head sadly. “Catherine, I’m hoping Sofia is with Sara.”
Wendy had been quietly listening to the exchange between the two CSIs; her mind still trying to wrap around the idea that Catherine would be staying with her, knowing that it was going to be extremely difficult to keep her feelings for the older woman from surfacing.
Grissom’s statement immediately shifted her thoughts to the blonde detective. Mentally replaying everything she’d heard, Wendy suddenly realized the supervisor had only surmised that Sofia might still be with Sara.
“Oh my God, you think they’ve killed Sofia, don’t you?”
Sara had retrieved some of the water on the shelf and found a couple of towels lying near the containers of food. Dampening the edge of the cleaner of the two cloths, she gently wiped Sofia’s face and continued her conversation with the unconscious woman.
“. . . So, these morons think I’m Catherine which is probably a good thing. They would’ve probably killed both of us if they realized I’m not her. Hmm, maybe not, since they mentioned something about not killing women. Come on, Sofia, wake up, would you? I’m tired of talking to myself and, well, as you know, I’m not that great a conversationalist anyway, so talking to myself means I’ve got to keep up both sides of the conversation. Scary thought, huh?”
A groan interrupted the brunette’s monologue, and it was the loveliest sound Sara had ever heard her lover emit. Well, almost.
“Hey, sweetie; open your eyes. C’mon now, you can do it.”
The beautiful face grimaced slightly, and another groan escaped as one eyelid struggled to open. Soon, it was followed by a second until two blue eyes were looking up into a pair of dark ones.
Sara smiled and leaned down to softly kiss Sofia, being extremely careful not to jar her lover. Pulling away, she began her examination using both her hands and her words. Lightly palpating the bump, the investigator moved her finger to caress the detective’s face when Sofia hissed in pain at the initial touch.
“Do you remember what happened, Sofia?”
Blue eyes closed momentarily, and Sara took advantage of the involuntary movement to concentrate on the pupils when Sofia reopened them. She didn’t have long to wait as the blonde’s eyelids fluttered opened once again, revealing pupils which seemed to react normally to the introduction of light, albeit very poor lighting.
“Someone herded me into a truck at the warehouse, and then you joined me.” Sofia hesitated for a moment, trying to recall what had happened afterwards. “Um, I think I may have done something incredibly stupid.”
Sara smiled; Sofia had a knack for always understating the obvious.
“I body-blocked the guy and that’s all I remember.” The detective concluded in a frustrated tone, waiting for her lover to fill in the blanks and hoping she hadn’t made the situation worse with her poor attempt to distract the men so that Sara could escape.
Sofia reached up to touch the bump on her head, and Sara quickly intercepted her hand.
“Hey, stop beating yourself up over it.” The blonde rolled her eyes at her lover who smiled in return. “Um, sorry about my choice of words; I guess you kind of beat yourself up after all. Now, lie still, and I’ll tell you what happened following your swan dive from the back of the truck.”
The detective obediently complied with her lover’s demand as she closed her eyes and listened to Sara’s description of the events after she’d lost consciousness. The brunette had taken to gently running her fingers through the blonde hair as she related her tale, and Sofia had a difficult time concentrating on the other woman’s words, the motion lulling her into a blissful state.
“. . . and here we are. So, what do you think?”
“Sofia? Damn it, don’t you dare fall asleep; you’ve got a head injury.”
A pitiful moan sounded from the prone detective. “Ah, Sara; I’m tired. Can’t I just take a little catnap?”
“No, you can’t. Now, tell me what you think of this whole situation.”
Sofia sighed; she really wanted nothing more than to sleep. “Well, the guys who took us have to be the hired help because it’s evident they have no idea what Catherine looks like. Jeez, you’d think they’d at least know she’s a redhead.”
Sara smiled at her lover’s reasoning. The CSI had already come to the same conclusion concerning the men that took them, but hearing Sofia’s sarcasm let the brunette know her lover seemed to be functioning as usual.
The investigator’s attention was immediately drawn to her lover’s next question, pleased that Sofia was focused on their situation.
“Sara? Was Catherine assigned to the warehouse with you?”
“Actually, I was assigned a DB at the Sands. I, um, switched with Catherine because she needed to stop off at her house to give Lindsay some medication she’d left in her mother’s purse.”
The detective narrowed her eyes in thought. “Who knew you two switched?”
“No one, really, but Greg and Nick found out when Catherine climbed into the car with them. We didn’t even tell Grissom before we left; Catherine was supposed to have called him to let him know.”
Sofia grimaced as she moved to sit up, and Sara placed a hand on her lover’s shoulder to stop the motion. “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?”
“Getting up? I promise if I get dizzy I’ll lie back down, but I think better when I’m standing.”
“You mean pacing.”
“Whatever; just give me a hand would you?”
Sara glared at her lover, and Sofia glared right back. Finally, the brunette gave in, but only after explaining the conditions of her assistance.
“Okay, I’ll help you up, but you’re going to go and lie down on that cot. You can think on the walk over.”
The detective glanced over at the small cot, noting the pillow and blanket. She’d gladly agree to just about anything to get off the hard floor. “Okay, but let’s go slow. I have plenty to think about.”
Sara smiled and moved into a squatting position. Placing one hand between Sofia’s shoulder blades, she offered her other for her lover to take. Sofia gripped the brunette’s hand as she placed her free one on the floor of the room for added support. Very slowly, Sara lifted the detective into a sitting position, watching her lover closely for any signs of dizziness.
The room rotated very slowly, pleasing the blonde; she’d been afraid that the movement would be very much like that of a top spinning rapidly on its axis but, instead, the motion was more akin to the same top coming to a wobbling stop.
“Wow, that was fun.” Sofia looked at her lover and smiled as she tried to interject a little humor into the situation; however, Sara’s expression indicated that she wasn’t in the mood for joking around. Raising an eyebrow, she waited for Sofia to ditch the sarcasm and give her a genuine report on her condition and, as usual, the detective read her perfectly.
“Sorry, Sara. I’m just a tad dizzy, but I’m okay, honest. Um, let’s see if we can get me on my feet.”
The pair worked in tandem to get the blonde in a standing position, and Sofia leaned against her lover heavily, not yet trusting her equilibrium. Motioning towards the cot, the detective took her first step and, soon, she was seated on its edge and swallowing slowly as she tried to keep the nausea at bay.
“How about some water?” Sara reached for one of the jugs but halted her progress at Sofia’s reply.
“Truthfully, I don’t think it’ll stay down. I’m feeling a bit sick to my stomach.”
The detective had learned a long time ago never to keep anything from her lover. The one time she’d tried to tough out the flu had been the worst. Sara had let herself into the apartment to find the detective on the floor of the bathroom, sick as a dog. She’d vowed after that incident to always tell the brunette whenever she was ill or injured, and Sara had promised to do the same. Of course, now that they were living together, neither of them could ever keep anything from the other.
“Damn it, Sofia; why didn’t you say something?” Sara’s gentle treatment of her lover belied her harsh tones as she carefully assisted the blonde in lying down on the cot.
“Sorry, I didn’t feel this way until we walked across the room. Maybe I should’ve just stayed on the hard floor.”
Sofia hadn’t made it this far into her relationship with the brunette without occasionally taking advantage of the way Sara processed information. The CSI always paid careful attention to each and every word, and Sofia was banking on the investigator focusing on the latter part of her response. Closing her eyes, she waited. The familiar touch of Sara’s lips against her own gave the detective all the proof she needed that her lover had indeed listened to her every word.
Sara pulled away slowly and wrapped the detective gently in her arms. Content to share the bond they’d created and maintained, Sofia silently offered her thanks that at least the two of them were together. She just hoped the others were aware of their predicament and were working on some sort of plan for their rescue.
Returning to the lab, Grissom headed straight for the video room and Archie Johnson, hoping the audio and video expert had found something, anything, from the security cameras located outside the exits. He’d called the technician from Wendy’s apartment, explaining the situation and stressing the need for secrecy. Grissom quickly located the young man in one of the labs and, noting that he was alone, the supervisor closed the door.
“Please tell me you found something.”
Startled, Archie jumped in his chair but quickly turned back to the monitor. “According to the time frame you gave me, I discovered something a bit unusual with the rear exit’s camera. Look at this guy.”
Grissom squinted at the screen as he watched a maintenance worker push a cart out of the back door. “What’s so special about him? He’s just taking a bunch of empty boxes to the dumpster out back.”
“But the dumpster’s in the other direction. Now, watch closely.”
A broom slipped from the cart, and the man appeared to curse as he bent over to pick it up. Although his face was never visible, his ID badge fell on the pavement when he bent over to retrieve the broom. Archie froze the frame and zeroed in on the photo.
“James Westerman?” Grissom asked aloud, leaning closer to read the badge.
“Yeah, I looked him up. He retired two years ago and, according to records, he also died last month of coronary artery disease.”
“Well, he looks pretty good for a dead man. Is there any way you can focus on this guy’s face?”
Archie shook his head and grinned. “No, but I can give you his name.”
Grissom turned towards the young technician and raised his eyebrow in question.
“I found the abandoned cart around the side of the building and had Mandy run the fingerprints on the broom. They immediately hit on some guy named Jason Rivers. He’d been incarcerated along with two of his brothers, Tom and George. All three were in the system and, coincidentally, all three were released last month. They’d served their full term for armed robbery, and you’ll never guess whose casino the idiots held up.”
“Sam Braun,” Grissom replied matter-of-factly and, turning on his heel, he left a slack jawed Archie staring at the empty doorway.
Arriving at his office, the supervisor quickly checked his watch before sitting down at his computer. The letter had given him a timeline as to when he was to deliver the other letter to Sam Braun and, according to his calculations, he still had an hour before he had to inform the casino owner of the abduction of someone who wasn’t his daughter. His fingers moved rapidly across the keyboard as he began his search of the Rivers brothers. Now that he had a lead, maybe he could figure out possible locations for Sara, and hopefully, Sofia as well.
Wendy sat on the couch, dividing her attention between the woman sitting at the other end and the rapidly changing stations on the television. There’d been very little conversation between the two after Grissom had left as Catherine had answered all of the lab technician’s questions in monosyllables. Wendy had finally just given up and turned on the TV, but she began to question her decision when Catherine grabbed the remote from the table and started to surf the channels. A single image was barely visible before the redhead switched over to yet another one.
“Catherine, would you like something to drink?”
The investigator never took her eyes off the kaleidoscope of shifting scenes. “If you’re talking alcohol; yes. If not, I think I’ll pass.”
“Um. . . I have beer?”
The corner of the other woman’s face lifted slightly in a half-smile. “Beer would be good.”
Nodding, Wendy rose from the couch and headed towards the kitchen, grateful to have something to do other than sit idly by and watch Catherine in silence. Maybe the alcohol would relax the redhead. Anything was better than the current tension radiating from the CSI.
The brunette opened the refrigerator and removed two bottles but, as she turned to close the door, the drinks slid from her hands, the sudden nearness of Catherine startling the young woman. She’d never heard the investigator enter the room.
Catherine easily intercepted the falling bottles before they could make contact with the tiled floor. “Whoa, be careful, hon. We don’t want perfectly good beer to go to waste, not to mention the mess it would make.”
Wendy looked into twinkling blue eyes, full of light and mischief for the first time since they’d heard the news of Sara and Sofia’s abduction. Just for a second, all the worries and guilt were gone; they were just two women enjoying a carefree moment.
“Um, I’ll get an opener.” The brunette sidestepped the redhead, moving towards the utensil drawer. Catherine’s gaze had turned more intense, almost as if the older woman was reading the younger woman’s mind. Just the thought of Catherine knowing what she was thinking alarmed the lab technician, and she quickly removed herself from the piercing blue eyes.
Mentally chastising herself, Catherine closed her eyes and took just a moment before turning around. She’d known from their very first conversation that Wendy had been interested in her, but she wasn’t sure of her own feelings, so she'd basically ignored the pink elephant that always sat in the corner of the DNA lab. Slowly, she’d begun to warm up to the lab technician, and she’d made the decision just yesterday to ask the younger woman out. Now, with Sara and Sofia missing, she needed to concentrate on their safe return before she could even think of dating Wendy.
“Catherine?” Wendy waited for the other woman to turn and take the newly opened bottle. Her nervousness no longer an issue as it quickly shifted to worry.
“Huh?” Catherine turned and focused on the brunette. After her latest thoughts, the beer was sounding better and better.
Wendy seemed to read the older woman’s mind as she offered one of the bottles. Catherine smiled as she walked over and graciously accepted the offering, not wasting a second to taste the amber colored beer. The lab technician watched, mesmerized, as the redhead placed the bottle to her lips and took a healthy swig. Wendy silently tracked the path of the liquid as it left the bottle and traveled down the lovely throat until Catherine finally swallowed. Only when the investigator released a pleased sigh did the brunette raise her own bottle with a shaky hand.
After checking with Grissom, the couple ordered a pizza and opened their third beer, waiting for its delivery. The supervisor didn’t think the abductors would suspect Wendy, but he'd made sure to log her out of the lab just in case Jason Rivers decided to come back to check on the situation. He figured the technician’s home was the safest place for Catherine just as long as the women didn’t leave the apartment.
“Where do you think they took them?” Wendy wondered, slowly peeling the label from her bottle.
“Sara and Sofia?” Catherine looked into the doe eyes in question, noting the subtle nod. “I have no idea. I just hope Sara went quietly and didn’t offer any resistance, and I truly hope she’s going along with being me.” Chuckling, Catherine added, “It’s probably the worst part of the abduction for her.”
“No one else can be you.” The technician didn't realize she’d spoken aloud, the alcohol beginning to cloud her mind. She hardly ever drank much as her alcohol tolerance was extremely low and, with two beers, she’d well exceeded her usual half a bottle limit.
Catherine smiled, not letting on that she’d heard the comment. “I wonder how they got the drop on Sofia. She’s usually very alert.”
“She probably never suspected anything exciting from a suspicious circs at an abandoned warehouse. If there were two men like Grissom suspects, I’m sure it was easy to surprise her.”
“Yeah, well, I’m just glad she’s with Sara. I’d hate to think of Sara alone in a situation like this. I don’t think she’d do well in isolation.”
Wendy nodded. She didn’t know much about the brunette’s background, but she knew Sara’s past held some dark secrets.
“Yes, it’s a good thing they’re together. My only hope is that neither of them got hurt when they were taken.”
Catherine grimaced; just the thought of either woman being injured made her sick to her stomach. She’d started to reply to the younger woman, but her focus suddenly shifted.
“I certainly hope Sofia didn’t get hurt.”
Wendy looked up confused. “Didn’t I just say that?”
“Yes, you did but, if those guys hurt Sofia, there’s no telling what Sara will do.”
The Mine Shaft
Sara watched her lover sleeping. She’d kept her awake for as long as she could, but Sofia’s nausea had reared its ugly head, and the blonde had thrown up twice. Thankfully, their abductors had left several buckets in the room, and Sara quickly retrieved one, choosing to ignore the reason the pails had been left in the first place. Finally, against her better judgment, Sara allowed the exhausted detective to close her eyes and rest.
“I’m going to kill those sons of bitches,” the investigator whispered, lightly stroking the blonde’s hair. “That is if we ever get out of here.”
Standing, she began her survey of the shelves; her mind working overtime to try to figure out what the others were doing to get them out of this situation. The investigator rearranged the various items as she thought about her team’s efforts to rescue them.
Surely, a ransom had been demanded, and the brunette briefly wondered why someone would want to abduct Catherine. Why not find someone with ties to money instead of taking someone connected to law enforcement? And why Catherine?
Sara placed the bottled water in a more convenient location as she continued her musings. As she moved the last container, she froze in place, the pieces of the puzzles finally coming together. Sam Braun. Someone had figured out that Catherine was his daughter.
Glancing at her lover, Sara whispered, “I sure hope ol’ Sam doesn’t do anything stupid.” Turning her attention back to the shelves, the investigator continued her inventory, her thoughts focusing on how long the two of them could survive with their current rations.
Sara wrinkled her nose at the last row of tins. They looked as if they’d been on the shelf since the 60’s. Reaching for the top can, she started when a spider crawled around its edge, and she quickly pulled her hand back, hitting some nearby cans in her quest to avoid the arachnid.
The stack of cans fell to the floor, and Sara peered over her shoulder, pleased to see Sofia still sleeping peacefully. Cursing her fear of anything creepy and crawly, she leaned over to retrieve the fallen cans, frowning when she caught sight of something to the side of the closest can.
Lifting up the object, she stared in disbelief and, glancing towards the door, she smiled. If her suspicions were correct, the key would fit perfectly in the double cylinder deadbolt.
Sara slowly stepped through the door, looking left and right for any signs of life. Satisfied that they were indeed alone, the investigator began her exploration of the lower level of the mine shaft, hoping to find some means of escape.
Sofia was just waking when Sara returned, and the CSI placed some things on the floor and made her way over to the cot. A pitiful groan escaped the detective’s lips.
“Oh, God. If I had my gun, I’d shoot myself.”
Placing a light kiss on the blonde’s forehead, Sara smiled. “Well then, I guess I better not give it to you, huh?”
One blue eye opened. “I’m the one who was hit in the head, right? They took our stuff, don’t you remember?”
Sara motioned to her recent find. “Yeah, but I found everything. The morons must not have known that there was a key to the door lying on the top shelf. They left our things right outside the door.”
Two eyes were now opened. “You found a way out?”
“Well, not really. We can go anywhere we want on this level, but I can’t figure out a way to get the elevator to come back down. I think there must be some sort of mechanism keeping it from descending.”
Two eyes closed. “Oh. Hey, what about our cell phones?”
“No service. I guess we’re either too far away from a tower or too far under the surface.”
This time, the detective almost jumped from the cot. “Elevator? Underground? Where the hell are we?”
“Best I can tell, we’re in an abandoned mineshaft.”
Sofia lay back down and moaned once more. “Sara, have I ever mentioned that I’m slightly claustrophobic?”
A burly man opened the door and motioned Grissom inside. The CSI supervisor stepped into the empty room and turned back to question the bodyguard when the door suddenly closed. Grissom shrugged and moved to sit in a nearby chair; however, the plaques on the wall garnered his attention, and he veered towards the side wall. He focused on the ‘Vegas Man of the Year’ award and never noticed the hidden door opening just to the side of him.
“Mr. Grissom? What can I do for you? Perhaps you need another scapegoat for some awful crime that I supposedly committed?”
Grissom managed to maintain his calm despite the sudden appearance of the casino mogul. “Actually Mr. Braun, I need your help.”
The older man let out a chuckle and motioned for the CSI to take a seat. Grissom opened the envelope and handed Sam the smaller envelope addressed to Catherine’s father.
Sam looked up amused. “It looks like this has already been opened. Tampering with the mail, Mr. Grissom?”
The supervisor’s serious demeanor stopped the businessman from further comment as he finally pulled the letter free of its confines. Narrowing his blue eyes, Sam began to read.
“Is this some kind of joke? Someone really has my Mugs?”
Grissom tilted his head in confusion, but Sam continued his line of questioning.
“Was Catherine taken because of her ties to me?”
The CSI adjusted his glasses. “We think someone has knowledge that Catherine is your daughter, and they’re trying to get to you through her.”
“You know who has her, don’t you? Tell me now, and I’ll make sure the bastards never touch her again.”
“Mr. Braun, Catherine is safe.”
Grissom now knew what it looked like to have someone look at him as if he had two heads.
“If Catherine is safe, then what are you doing here?”
“The abductors accidentally took CSI Sidle and Detective Curtis. They think they have Catherine. We’ve got to find them before they do something drastic.”
“Who are these idiots?”
“We believe the Rivers brothers are responsible. They robbed your casino and were convicted. They’ve recently been released from prison, and we think they’re trying to exact their revenge.”
A full bellied laugh startled Grissom, and he stared at the obviously amused casino owner. “Mr. Grissom, did you read the trial notes?”
The supervisor thought back to the pages and pages of notes and shook his head. He simply didn’t have time to try to determine why the brothers had tried to rob Sam Braun. He was just happy to have a name.
“Their guns didn’t have any ammo. They tried to rob one of my casinos with blanks. They were damned lucky one of my men didn’t kill them; however, the presiding judge was a friend of mine, and I managed to get the armed robbery charge to stick. Stupid dumbasses.”
“Mr. Braun, we can’t take the chance that they don’t have any ammo this time. Two lives are at stake.”
The silver haired man sat back in his chair and nodded. After only a moment, he replied, “Alright, Mr. Grissom. What do you need me to do?”
“Maybe you should go back to the lab and see what’s going on,” Tom suggested, no longer sure of their foolproof plan.
Jason shook his head. “I’m not going back there. They make me clean the lab and shit. You go.”
“Hey, we’re the ones who took all the risks. Boss said it was your job to work the lab end of the job.” George threw in his two cents, taking his twin brother’s side as usual. “Besides, you already know your way around.”
“Well, maybe the boss should get off his ass and go check things out. No one would suspect him if he starting asking questions.” Jason fell back on the sofa and reached for his beer.
Tom turned towards his twin. “You know. Little brother’s right. The boss just sits back and tells us what to do. I say we get more than five percent each for our end of the job.”
“Well, he is going to help us get out of the city when this is all over with. That’s got to count for something. Besides, he needs to keep a low profile. He said it’s been ages since he hung around the lab. If he showed up now, someone might get suspicious. Better he stay out of it.”
Jason listened to his brothers’ conversation, attempting to calculate how much five percent of a hundred thousand dollars was. Of course, he knew the ransom was demanding a million, but boss said all the paperwork and expenses would mean they’d only really get a hundred thousand to split up. Whatever five percent was seemed just fine to the young man.
George’s voice came back into focus making Jason smile. “Yeah, Louisiana is going to be a great place to live.” Closing his eyes, Jason dreamed of alligators and swamps.
“Catherine, I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. I realize we’re not working again until Grissom solves this case; however, we probably should try to keep to our regular sleeping schedule.”
Wendy watched the redheaded woman flick the remote, and she briefly wondered if Catherine ever took the time to actually stop on a station long enough to get interested in any type of show.
“You go on to bed, Wendy. I’d like to stay up awhile. I promise to turn in soon.”
“Um, Catherine? You do realize that this is a one bedroom apartment, right?”
The edges of the investigators mouth rose in a brief smile. “I kind of figured that out. This is a very nice apartment complex. I’d imagine a two bedroom cost a pretty penny.”
“No kidding. I can barely afford this one.”
Catherine kept her focus on the television. “I don’t mind sharing a bed. Lindsey still crawls into bed with me sometimes.”
Doe eyes widened, and Wendy stared in disbelief at the back of Catherine’s head, not seeing the amused look currently residing on the older woman’s face.
“Um, well ... okay, then. Er, I’m going on to bed, call me if you need anything.”
The flustered technician turned and quickly left the room, leaving a very amused Catherine behind. The investigator slumped down on the couch and continued her channel surfing.
An hour later, Catherine crept into the bedroom to find Wendy fast asleep. The brunette had settled in the middle of the bed and her limbs were stretched far and wide. The redhead contemplated sleeping on the couch, but she already had a stiff neck from trying to get comfortable earlier, so she headed towards the right side which had a small empty space for the investigator to settle.
The minute Catherine sat on the edge of the bed, she realized that the only clothes she had were the ones on her back. Not wanting to wrinkle the shirt and pants any more than they already were, she contemplated her options.
Sneaking a peek under the covers, she noted Wendy’s sleeping apparel. The young woman had opted for a t-shirt, and Catherine wondered what the technician would think if she woke next to a nude investigator. Chuckling quietly, she rose to look through the other woman’s dresser. A few minutes later, a t-shirt clad Catherine crawled under the covers, only to find the earlier small space even smaller.
Wendy immediately rolled towards the investigator and threw her leg over Catherine as she made herself extremely comfortable. The redhead smiled and put her arm around the younger woman. She’d forgotten how nice it was to share a bed with another woman. Wendy’s skin was so smooth and soft, and her curves fit against Catherine’s in a perfect fit. Closing her eyes, the investigator drifted off with a smile on her face. When this case was over, she was definitely asking the lab technician out.
A Break in the Case
“Grissom, I went back to the warehouse and found some tire tracks leading out the back. There was some sort of sand mixture in the sample, and I remembered a similar sample taken awhile back. Remember that guy who had the stake in his head? His tires had the exact same composites that these did. He’d got them at an old abandoned mine.”
Nick held out the printout to his supervisor, and Grissom quickly snatched it out of his hand, recalling that the father of the Rivers brothers had worked at one of the mines outside the city limits. Turning, he headed towards his office with Nick trailing behind.
“Brass, this is Grissom. I need to meet you outside CSI headquarters ASAP.... What? .... No, I don’t want to explain on the phone. You’re going to have to trust me on this one.” Grissom hung up the phone and looked at his three CSIs. It hadn’t taken him long to find the employer of the elder Rivers and, with a Google search, he had the directions which would take him to the mine.
“What do you want us to do, Grissom?” Greg shifted from side to side, anxious to do whatever it took to get to Sara. If anything happened to her, he didn’t know what he’d do. Sara was his 'Grissom.'
The supervisor looked at his team and knew from their expressions that there was no way he could leave them behind, but they’d have to be careful to leave separately to not arouse any suspicion.
“Greg, you and Warrick head to the Denali and drive south; you can make a few blocks before turning back north. Nick will ride with me, and we’ll start off eastward. We have to make sure no one is tailing either of our vehicles before we go west towards the mine. I’ll have Brass take another direction.”
“Surely, you don’t think anyone is watching the lab. I’d think they’d be tailing Sam Braun until you go pick up the money. Why would they be interested in what we’re doing?” Warrick questioned the older man, not believing that the cloak and dagger routine was necessary.
Grissom started for the door and called back over his shoulder, “I don’t want to take any chances. Nick, come on with me now. You two wait about five minutes before you leave. We’ll meet up at the mine in half an hour. Be on your toes, guys. Sara and Sofia’s life may depend on it.”
Warrick and Greg nodded their agreement and headed towards the break room, hoping that if anyone was watching, they’d see them go through their normal routine. Both men entered the room and walked directly to the coffee machine. If they had to wait, then at least they were going to get a good cup of coffee out of it. Greg had just made up one of his special brews before they were paged to Grissom’s office.
Jason emptied the garbage can in the lab across from the break room. He’d seen Grissom and Nick leave earlier and just assumed that they were on a case. Now, he found himself hoping that the other two CSIs would be called out. He absolutely loved Greg’s coffee.
Meanwhile, away from prying eyes, Brass met with Grissom around the corner from the main exit. The detective was shocked to say the least to hear about the abduction. He’d figured Sofia hadn’t been in contact because she was simply away from the radio. He never dreamed that she’d been taken, and he didn’t mind letting Grissom know how he felt about being left in the dark.
“Gil, I can’t believe you didn’t call me immediately. Sofia is one of mine; LVPD should be in on this case.”
Grissom motioned the detective towards the Denali. “Jim, I apologize. My first thought was to get Catherine hidden away, and then I just looked for the evidence. This has to be an inside job, and I needed to be careful who I told and where I told them.”
Brass gruffly agreed with the supervisor’s decision, but he insisted that he should have been contacted sooner. Grissom promised to let the detective in on any cases that directly affected anyone under his command the next time, and both men turned their focus on getting their people back.
Beam Me Up, Scotty
“Take deep breaths. That’s it, sweetie. We’re perfectly fine. There’s plenty of room and plenty of air. You certainly don’t need to hyperventilate on top of everything else.”
Sara spoke gently to her lover, making sure to keep contact with the other woman. Sofia’s overactive imagination had gotten the best of her when she realized just how far they were under the earth’s surface. The opened door helped her somewhat, but she just couldn’t keep her mind off the fact that the fairly large area was underneath tons and tons of heavily packed dirt.
The detective kept her ear on her lover’s beating heart, the slow even tempo calming her more than the investigator’s words ever could. Closing her eyes, Sofia concentrated on breathing deeply, and soon she’d calmed enough to reply to her lover’s pleas.
“Sorry. I bet you wish I hadn’t been the one at the warehouse, huh?”
The brunette looked down at her lover and gently lifted Sofia’s face until their eyes finally met. “Never. The only reason I wouldn’t want you here is because I want you to be safe.”
“Ditto.” Sofia’s short answer earned her a sweet kiss, and the detective wondered if perhaps short, but sweet responses weren’t everyone’s best choice.
“Um... Sara?” Sofia asked after her lover released her lips. “I think my little panic attack cured my nausea. Why don’t you show me the problem with the elevator?”
“Are you sure? I don’t want you to pass out on me. It’s a good distance from the door.”
Sofia grinned widely. “Yep, I’m sure. I’ll just lean against you and let you do all the work.”
Sara slowly stood, bringing the detective up with her. Together, the couple made their way to the door, stopping occasionally to make sure Sofia was doing okay. Soon the pair had made it to the spot where the elevator should be.
“You think there’s some kind of lever somewhere?” Sofia looked up at the bottom of the elevator, trying to estimate how far below the surface they were without actually allowing herself to think too much about what she was doing.
“I’ve looked everywhere, and I didn’t find a thing.”
“Too bad we can’t just beam out of here like on Star Trek. Someone is always beaming out at just the right moment.” Sofia noticed a small bench and wandered over to have a seat, her legs suddenly a little shaky.
“Star Trek? I never figured you for a Trekkie.” Sara followed her lover and took a seat next to the detective, keeping a close eye on the lover.
“Just the original one; there was something about it that was just so.... I don’t know. I just liked it.”
The brunette smiled. “Me, too.”
The empty shaft was suddenly filled with a loud, whirring noise, followed by the elevator descending. Both women looked up surprised, neither expecting their captors to return so soon.
Sara raced back into the room to retrieve their guns while Sofia stayed where she was. There was no sense in her trying to get to her gun; she'd probably shoot Sara in error as her dizziness had returned.
The brunette arrived at her lover’s side just as the elevator stopped at their floor. Placing her body in front of Sofia’s, she held her gun out in front of her, ready to mow down the two men who’d taken them.
What Dreams May Come
Catherine awoke with the same smile she’d had when she’d fallen asleep. Wendy was practically lying on top of her and, if it were possible, Catherine smiled more broadly. She’d never really liked the morning after snuggling and usually couldn’t wait to climb out of her recent conquest’s arms, but this morning, she found herself content to just lie still and hold the other woman, amazed that she had such a feeling of contentment, especially since the two had done nothing the night before except sleep. As Wendy began to stir, Catherine ran her hand lightly up and down the younger woman’s spine.
Wendy was having the most glorious dream; she’d asked Catherine out, and the investigator had finally accepted. The couple had dined in a romantic setting, complete with a private table and candles. Every facet of the date had run smoothly, and it had seemed perfectly natural to take their attraction to the next stage. Making love with Catherine had been everything the technician had dreamed: gentle, loving, and, at times, fierce. Just as Wendy became aware of her surroundings, she suddenly realized that her mattress was different, coming to the startling conclusion that she wasn’t alone and that she was currently resting on another person. As the cobwebs faded into the distance, her eyes popped open wide. Catherine; she was sleeping on top of Catherine.
“Good morning. Did you sleep well?” Catherine broke the ice first, managing to keep most of the teasing tone out of her voice.
Wendy froze. Not only had she made Catherine her own personal mattress, but the other woman was aware of the situation. She’d never be able to extract herself from the investigator and slink away without Catherine being none the wiser now. The redhead was awake, and she was . . . gently stroking her back? Wendy closed her eyes enjoying the touch as confusion began to offset the wonderful feeling.
Catherine slowed her movements, waiting for the brunette to acknowledge her words as well as their current position. She knew Wendy was awake and was equally aware that the technician had heard her greeting. Several long moments past with neither woman uttering a word; however, neither made an attempt to remove herself from the loving embrace, giving both women hope that the other was relishing the contact just as much.
Finally, Catherine spoke. “Wendy, I know we’ve been suddenly thrown together in this situation, and I know this isn’t the most perfect time to say what I’m going to say, but, I don’t care. I’m going to say it anyway.”
Wendy nodded as if giving the other woman permission to proceed, both scared and anxious to hear what Catherine had to say.
“I think it’s time we addressed this mutual attraction we have for each other.”
The younger woman cringed. If Catherine was going to let her down, she’d prefer that she not be lying in the investigator’s arms. It was as if Catherine were dangling a carrot in front of her, teasing the technician with something she could never have. Just as Wendy opened her mouth to reply, the other woman’s words finally sunk in. Mutual attraction; Catherine had said mutual attraction.
“So, we should just take this a day at a time and see where it takes us.” Catherine continued with her suggestion, unaware of Wendy’s current musings.
The redhead glanced up to find that the brunette had moved during her one-sided conversation, and she was now hovering above her, looking down at her with a beautiful smile.
“You mean it? You want to go out with me?”
Catherine returned the infectious smile. “Yes, I do; however, it looks like we’ve kind of jumped the gun here. I’m usually wined and dined before I’m bedded.”
Not at all offended by the redhead’s words, Wendy smiled once more before slowly moving towards the tempting lips. Catherine forced herself not to lean up and latch onto the younger woman’s offering, instead allowing Wendy to control the moment.
Just as soft lips made contact, a loud knocking reverberated throughout the apartment causing Wendy to groan in protest. Now that she’d had a small sampling of Catherine, she wasn’t willing to relinquish the lips she’d been dreaming of.
Luckily, Catherine had more control, but she’d told herself it was only because she knew Grissom was probably standing outside. Nothing killed a moment faster than thinking about her supervisor.
“C’mon. I’m sure it’s Gil, and he won’t go away until we answer the door. Besides, he may have news of Sara and Sofia.”
Groaning pitifully, Wendy rolled off Catherine and reached for her sweat pants. The older women chuckled as she sat up in bed. A pair of sweats greeted her smiling face as Wendy had tossed the clothing towards her, mumbling softly. “Put these on, please. I don’t want Grissom to get an eyeful.”
Catherine retrieved the pants from her face and slid them on, laughing aloud as she followed the younger woman to the door.
The Other Side of the Door
“I don’t understand why we can’t just go to my place.” Sara held onto her lover and glared at Grissom. She’d never been so happy to see her supervisor in all her life. He and Brass had stepped off the elevator, and she’d slowly lowered her weapon, relieved beyond belief that she didn’t have to shoot anyone. Grissom had quickly loaded the two women into his Denali and sped away to parts unknown, leaving Brass, Nick, Greg, and Warrick behind to process the mine shaft.
“I told you, Sara. There’s more to this abduction than meets the eye. I don’t think the Rivers brothers could’ve pull this off by themselves. There has to be someone higher up who planned the whole thing.”
“So bring the morons in and ask. I’m sure one of the stooges will fess up.”
The door swung open before Grissom could reply to Sara’s question as another inquiry winged its way towards him.
“Grissom? What’s going on?” Catching sight of the other two women, Catherine blurted in surprise, “Oh my God, Sara? Sofia? Are you okay?" Hugging the two women awkwardly, she realized Sofia was struggling and pulled them both towards the welcoming couch. "Here, come on in, have a seat.”
Sara led Sofia to the couch and carefully assisted her in lying down; leaving Grissom to answer Catherine’s angry questions while a wide eyed Wendy looked on.
“Why did you bring them here? Sofia is injured; she needs medical attention.”
Grissom closed the door behind him. “If anyone finds out that we found them, evidence can be hidden or tampered with, the Rivers brothers could flee, and we’d never find out who’s the mastermind behind this plot.”
“So, why don’t you just pull them in and question them?”
“We’ve got to have solid evidence linking them to the crime. Other than the younger brother working at the lab, we don’t have any proof that they committed the act. Neither Sara nor Sofia actually saw their faces.”
Catherine glanced over at the couch to see Sara ministering to her lover, and Wendy offering her assistance. Adding up what she was seeing, she quickly realized that Grissom intended for all four of them to stay together in the tiny apartment.
“Oh, no; we can’t all stay here, Gil. There’s only one bed.”
Grissom raised his eyebrow and looked over at Wendy. Surely, one of them had slept on the couch while the other took the bed. His analytical mind had barely formed the probability when Sara suddenly piped in.
“Catherine’s right, Grissom. We’ll need plenty of room. Sofia not only needs her rest, but she also needs for you to find a doctor who’ll make a house call. This is totally unacceptable.”
The older man frowned. He knew he had to come up with an alternative plan or else Sara and Catherine would ruin everything. “Well, you four could stay at my place.”
“No!” The sound of four voices in perfect harmony echoed throughout the room.
Grissom started at the resounding reply. “Then you’ll just have to stay here. There’s no other alternative. We don’t know who we can trust.”
Catherine smiled. “I’ve got an idea.”
****** The Layout Room
Grissom strode into the room, glancing over his shoulder to be certain no one was nearby to overhear. He was definitely going to be glad when this was all over with. Never one to give into paranoia, he could certainly understand how the disorder could easily creep into one’s psyche.
“What’ve you got, Nick?”
The Texan turned and smiled at his supervisor. “Plenty. The Rivers brother’s fingerprints were everywhere, from the elevator to the door to the tins and water on the shelves. All we need is to process their van, and we’ve got 'em”
Warrick quickly noted Grissom’s frown. “What’s wrong, Gris? We’ve got these guys dead to rights, and Sara and Sofia are safe.”
“I just want to be sure we nab the head guy. Sam Braun has suggested we go along with the money exchange, but we’d have to involve too many people. I believe someone in the department is responsible, so I don’t think the plan will work. Are you sure no one else’s prints came up anywhere?”
Nick shook his head. “Nope, sorry, Grissom. I processed every inch of that room; all three Rivers have been there, but other than Sara and Sofia’s prints, I didn’t find anyone else’s.”
“Well, I guess we’re just going to have to pull the brothers three in for questioning and hope we get lucky. Brass will try to keep the arrests as quiet as possible, but you know how fast word passes through the department.”
Warrick quietly added his two cents into the mix. “No kidding and especially since no one knew Sara and Sofia were missing in the first place. Hell, how long has it been anyway? Over 24 hours?”
“I’m sure it seemed much longer to them. It certainly did to me,” Nick confessed, grateful that the hours of worry were over.
Grissom gathered up the various files. “Well, let’s see if we can rattle the brothers into giving up their boss. We’ll each take a brother and hope one of them cracks. By all reports, they’re not very, um . . . bright.”
Warrick chuckled at Grissom’s choice of words. “Ah, not the sharpest tools in the shed, huh? That should make our work easier.”
“We used to have a saying back in Texas, ‘He couldn’t pour piss out of a boot with the instructions on the heel.’ Other than somehow getting lucky with taking Sara and Sofia, I’d say it describes these three to a ‘T’.”
The three men grabbed up the remaining files and headed towards the door as Nick and Warrick continued to trade ‘dumb sayings.’ Grissom just shook his head and led the pair down the corridor to his office to wait for Brass’s call.
The Penthouse Suite of the Rampart
The doctor softly closed the door to the bedroom and walked into the small sitting area.
“Detective Curtis will be just fine. She sustained a mild concussion and, with rest, she should be as good as new in a couple of days.”
Catherine stood and offered her hand in thanks. “I appreciate you coming by, Doctor Santos.”
The blonde woman smiled. “It’s all in a day’s work, Ms. Willows. Besides, Mr. Braun rewards me handsomely for the occasional house calls I make to his hotel.”
“I just bet he does,” Catherine agreed, walking the petite doctor to the door and, once again, expressing her gratitude as the woman left the suite.
In the bedroom, Sara knelt down on the side of the bed. “Now, detective, you heard what the doctor said. You need to rest; no work, no overtaxing yourself, and no heavy thinking.”
“She didn’t say anything about thinking.” Sofia objected; she just knew Sara was going to be a mother hen.
“No, but I don’t want you to hurt that precious brain of yours. We need to take advantage of Sam Braun’s generosity and just enjoy ourselves; Grissom and Brass can handle the case.” Sara reached over and moved a strand of blonde hair from her lover’s face.
“Sara? Who do you think is behind the abduction? Someone in the police department or someone in the lab?”
“Well, I’d think that . . . Hey, what did I just say about heavy thinking?”
Sofia smiled at her lover. “Okay, then how about some heavy petting?”
“Don’t you think that’s considered overtaxing yourself?”
The detective reached out and pulled a stunned Sara onto the bed. “Not if you do all the work it’s not. But, we’ll have to be quiet.”
Sara grinned saucily as she climbed into the bed. Barely a sound was heard from the room as the two lovers gently reaffirmed their love for one another.
In the outer room, Wendy looked at her watch. “Hey, Catherine, do you think we should check on Sara and Sofia?”
The redhead swallowed her initial thought. She’d passed by the room a few moments ago and was certain the low moan Sofia had emitted wasn’t one of pain. “I’m sure they’re just resting. Why don’t you come over and join me on the sofa?”
“You’re not going to make me watch you surf through the channels, are you?”
Catherine looked at the technician and grinned. “Only if you’re not interested in making out.”
The older woman laughed aloud as the brunette practically dove onto the couch.
Grissom sat across from George Rivers, glancing down occasionally to review the file.
“Mr. Rivers, I’m Gil Grissom with the crime lab. You’ve been arrested and charged with the abduction of two members of the LVPD, Detective Sofia Curtis and CSI Sara Sidle.”
The dark haired man blinked. “Who?”
Grissom was impressed with the man’s ability to appear as if he had no idea of why he was arrested. That is, until the Rivers brother elaborated.
“Who’s Sara Sidle? I thought that CSI woman was Catherine Willows.”
Across the hall, Warrick had a similar reaction to his line of questioning while Nick’s suspect seemed more than a little upset at the idea that his brothers had abducted the wrong woman.
“What? But Sara Sidle is a brunette, and Catherine Willows is a redhead. How in the world did they get the two confused?”
Nick leaned back in his chair and shrugged. “I don’t know, man. Had either of them actually seen Catherine before?”
Jason Rivers looked up at the ceiling in thought, and Nick was certain that the young man was hoping to see the answer written on the painted surface.
“Well, hell. I don’t think I ever mentioned anything about hair color. I just gave them the location of the crime scene.”
The CSI couldn’t believe the sandy haired man was confessing to his part in the conspiracy. Maybe Jason was just the fellow to give up his boss as well.
“So, your brothers really messed this one up. Too bad you weren’t able to get your share of the ten million dollar ransom.”
“Ten million? I thought it was just a million, and then there’s all the paperwork and stuff which would only leave a hundred thousand. How much would be left of ten million after the paperwork?”
Nick clinched his jaws to keep from smiling. “What paperwork?”
Jason dutifully explained. “Boss said there was tons of paperwork and expenses.”
‘Bingo,’ the CSI thought. Aloud, he asked, “Boss?”
“Yeah, he said if we did our job, we’d get our cut.”
Nick played his empathy card perfectly. “Oh man, that sucks. First, he lied to you about the amount, and then he lied to you about the paperwork. You do all the work, and he gets all the money. There's nothing fair in that deal.”
Jason nodded up and down, pleased that someone understood his plight. “And now we have to face the crime while he sits in his big chair not worried in the least that anyone will arrest him. I mean, c’mon. Who would ever arrest the sheriff?”
Catherine opened the door to allow room service into the room. The polite young man wheeled the cart into the small kitchenette and efficiently placed the various plates on the nearby table.
“If that’ll be all, I’ll be on my way.”
Catherine reached for her purse, but the hotel employee held up his hand. “Oh, it’s okay, Ms. Willows. Mr. Braun has already taken care of everything.”
Nodding, the investigator showed the young man to the door. This was one of the few times that she was grateful Sam Braun was her father.
As the door closed, the door to the side bedroom opened, revealing Sara and Sofia. Both appeared to be well rested and each looked very comfortable in their lightweight sweats and t-shirts.
“I hope that guy brought food. I’m starving.” Sara walked towards the table and lifted up one of the plate covers, her lover following behind quietly, choosing not to tease the CSI as to the probable reason for her hunger.
Soon, all four women sat around the table enjoying good food and equally good company, and Catherine took the opportunity to fill the other women in on her recent phone call to Grissom.
“. . . So, Sheriff Mobley engineered the whole thing. He’s evidently not been happy of late, especially with the Undersheriff becoming popular with the mayor’s office. My guess is he decided to take advantage of his position and used the information about Sam being my father against us. I’m just glad he hired the Three Stooges; otherwise, this might have turned out badly.”
Sofia pushed her food around her plate. “Yeah, real professionals probably would’ve killed us right away.”
Sara reached under the table and took her lover’s hand. “Well, they definitely wouldn’t have followed Mobley’s orders of not hurting any of the women. I wondered about that. I guess we’ll never know why he was so adamant about not harming any of the women.”
“I think I may have the answer to that one, Sara. Did I ever tell you he asked me out? I told him what to do with his offer, ever so politely,” muttered Catherine with a grin on her face. "He probably planned to help Sam save me, so I'd be beholden to give him a date."
"Well, he'd better not let me catch him with his grubby paws on you!"
Sara and Sofia both spun around to look at the seething Wendy, sly interest on their faces; however, before either could comment, Catherine, with a smug grin on her face, piped up with more news.
“Anyway, Grissom and Brass headed over to Mobley’s office to arrest him. Finding his office empty, they went to his house to discover the same thing. He must’ve got wind of the Rivers arrest and fled. Brass doesn’t think we’ll ever find him.”
“Well, at least the asshole is no longer in office, although, the Undersheriff is just as bad.” Sara offered, wondering which sheriff was the lesser of the two evils.
Suddenly, her mind the clearest it had been in the last forty eight hours, Sofia looked up, a teasing smile lighting her face.
"Say, Catherine, how about you get Sam to find the dear old sheriff? I'd pay good money to see that encounter."
Wendy, who’d gone very quiet after her little outburst, finally spoke. “Well, I don’t think we should worry about either sheriff and just take advantage of the next couple of days. We don’t have to work; we have a beautiful suite at our disposal, and room service whenever we want it.”
Sara stood and extended her hand. “Wendy’s right. Let’s leave Mobley’s fate to someone else. C’mon, Sofia. Let’s go back to bed. The doctor did say you needed your rest.”
The detective took one look at her lover’s raised eyebrow and tilted head, and she didn’t hesitate to allow Sara to pull her from the chair. Muttering a couple of chuckling ‘laters,’ the pair headed towards the bedroom. The moment the door closed behind them, Catherine reached for Wendy’s hand.
“To sleep, Wendy, just to sleep. Well, mostly, I do want to say thank you for jumping to my defense, in my own special way.”
The younger woman grinned as she stood and allowed Catherine to lead her to the other bedroom.
Meanwhile, Sara slid over her lover as her hand roamed under the covers.
Just as the investigator’s lips were mere centimeters from the detective’s, Sofia whispered, “Um, Sara? Did I ever mention that the Sheriff asked me out, too?”
Sara's hand stilled. "No, you didn't. I hope you told him as politely as Catherine did to go forth and multiply."
Sofia laughed. "You really think Cath was that polite?"
"I know she wasn't. Hey, do you think she and Wendy are, um, you know…"
"… screwing each other, yeah." The detective laughed again as Sara hit her arm in disgust. Sofia smiled teasingly, intent on pulling her lover’s attention back to the task at hand. "Sara, stop talking about Catherine and help me get better."
This time, just as Sofia was feeling it had all been worth it, Sara's words stopped her dead.
"Did I ever tell you the Undersheriff asked me out?"
The End of the Line
Sheriff Brian Mobley stepped off the plane and relaxed. He was so very lucky to have overheard a conversation between two detectives discussing why Brass and the CSIs had taken control of three separate interview rooms. It hadn’t taken the sheriff very long to find out through the grapevine what was going on, and he’d quickly packed a bag and left the country. He’d managed to clear out his banking accounts and make the flight before anyone knew he was gone.
Exhausted, he climbed into the back of a taxi and breathed a sigh of relief. Although he hadn’t gotten a dime, at least he’d gotten away without jail time.
The red haired man turned to the driver to give his destination just as the back doors of the cab opened, and two men crawled in beside him. As the doors slammed shut, a pair of steely, blue eyes bored into the sheriff’s.
“Hello, Brian. I hear you've been messing with my Mugs…”