dipenates: (Nick - wistful)
[personal profile] dipenates
Title: Passing Judgment on my Life
Fandom: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Rating:  R
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Icon: [livejournal.com profile] bflyw 
Characters:  Greg, Sara and Nick friendship. Nick and Greg pre-slash.
Warning:  Contains references to sexual abuse and rape. Please stay safe when reading this fic.
Summary: Sara and Nick are forced to look at their pasts as they investigate an assault on a child. Started life as a post-ep for 6X05: Gum Drops.

Chapter two

Nick fought down his irritation as he watched Sara push the last bite of her pancakes through the dregs of maple syrup on her plate. Their third visit to the diner in as many months had acquainted him with her breakfast habits but despite the grisly domestic murder that had prompted him to ask her to eat with him this morning, he felt no closer to getting her to open up.

Sara had been silent through all three of their breakfasts, once they had exhausted forensics as a topic. She had never been particularly good at smalltalk and the spectre of the conversation that they weren’t having was making her even more conversationally awkward than usual.

This is the last time we do this, he thought. He sipped his coffee. It wasn’t as good as Greg’s and he wasn’t quite sure why he was drinking it. He was bone-tired and looking forward to climbing between his crisp sheets and sleeping through what promised to be a wearyingly hot day.

Just as Sara finally laid down her fork, their beepers went off. Shit. Sara looked up from her plate, eyes squinting in the glare of the sun streaming through the diner’s grease-spattered window.

“I’ll call,” she said. Her voice was husky. She took out her cellphone and called the crime lab.

“Sidle,” she said, identifying herself to whomever had picked up the phone. Nick waited, adrenaline starting to pump through him. The hope of clean, cool sheets was starting to fade.

“OK,” said Sara. “I can go to Desert Palms for the kit and the photos.”

Sara looked at Nick, frowning. “No, he’s right here. But it’s fine, I can go by myself.” There was a short pause while the person Sara was speaking to responded. “No, really, Grissom…” She looked at her phone in frustration. The call was over.

She looked annoyed. “Grissom wants the two of us to go out to Desert Palms.”

“Sexual assault?” Nick asked, watching Sara carefully. She was shaking off her breakfast funk now, focusing on the fact that her skills were needed to identify and help secure the conviction of a predator. She put on her sunglasses and picked up her cap.

“Yeah. We need to meet CPS at the hospital.” A child, then. Nick felt a twinge of foreboding. He pulled some bills from his wallet and dropped them on the table. Sara was already halfway to the door of the diner, not even looking over her shoulder to see if he was following.

***

Chandra Williams was a perfectly nice woman but Nick was sure that even the children who depended on her on the worst days of their lives found her sympathetic tones cloying and patronising.

As a Child Protective Services officer her role was to stay with the victim during their medical and forensic exam and then take them to a foster-home overnight. Victims were always interviewed as soon as possible, in a specially designed suite within the hospital itself.

Chandra and Sara were standing so close together in the corridor their heads were almost touching; one blonde, one dark. Nick decided Chandra’s outfit was ridiculous before his better angels could chide him for being so superficial. He knew that CPS Officers usually didn’t wear suits, to put the children they worked with at ease, but Chandra’s denim jumper made her look like a pre-teen.

“And so,” Chandra was saying to Sara, almost so quietly that Nick couldn’t hear her at all, “when the teacher’s assistant saw the blood on her panties, she invoked the child protection procedure and here we are.”

“Has the SART kit been done?” Sara’s voice was louder. Chandra flicked Nick a perceptibly hostile glance.

“Yes, the pediatric specialist sexual assault nurse has collected the kit. They did a colposcopy and the tech said that you should be able to collect the video and photos in about ten minutes. They’re just preparing Annabeth for the interview. She’s already in the suite.”

“Great,” Nick stretched his tired back. “We’ll watch the interview with you through the two-way.”

Chandra shot Sara a look. “I hardly think that’s appropriate.”

“I’m sorry?” Nick said. “What isn’t appropriate about it?”

Sara placed a hand on Chandra’s arm. “What Chandra means is that it might be better for you to take the SART kit back to the lab and get started on the samples. That way the two of us aren’t tied up here. Is that OK, Nicky?”

Nick read between the lines. “Sure, Sara.” She didn’t quite meet his eye and he wondered if he was imagining the guilt that crossed her face as she threw him her carkeys and turned and headed towards the interview suite with Chandra.

He sat in one of the plastic chairs that lined the hallway, feeling tired and sticky despite the air conditioning in the hospital. When the sexual assault nurse examiner appeared he took the kit from her and signed for it, explaining that his colleague would collect the photos later.

The blast of heat that met him as he left Desert Palms was oddly comforting and he felt the familiar edginess of being in possession of unprocessed evidence that could resolve a case. He climbed into Sara’s Denali and began the short trip back to the lab.

***

Nick bumped into Greg in the breakroom shortly after he got back to the lab and logged in the evidence. He had gone in search of a caffeine jolt, to help him focus his mind before starting to process the samples in the SART kit

“I heard about your case,” Greg said, pouring Nick a cup of his special coffee. “Five year old rape victim sounds pretty heavy.”

“She’s only five?” Nick was beyond being surprised at the inhumanity of people but hadn’t picked up that the victim was so young.

“You don’t know how old your vic is?” Greg turned round and raised an eyebrow at him. “That doesn’t sound like the brutal efficiency of Sara Sidle.” He grinned.

Nick didn’t return his smile. “I never saw the vic. Sara and Chandra Williams got me out there so fast I’m lucky I remembered the SART kit.”

“Ah.” Greg busied himself with pouring himself a cup of coffee and wiping up a couple of spills on the counter top.

“It’s pretty freaking insulting that the two of them were desperate to have me as far from the victim as humanly possible.”

Greg handed Nick his coffee and leaned his back against the counter, sipping his own. “Doesn’t protocol say that women should be involved in interviewing children where possible?”

Nick sighed. “Yeah, sure, but we weren’t going to be doing any interviewing. We were just going to be watching through the two-way.”

Greg surveyed Nick, who was leaning forward in one of the breakroom chairs, holding his coffee in two hands as if he was trying to get warm from the heat of the cup. “Did you really want to watch that interview?”

Nick looked up from his cup. “Of course not, Greg.” He shook his head. “Just like I don’t want to process tiny underwear, but I will because it might help catch the perp. I just wish that Chandra and Sara didn’t put me in the same category as men who do things like this.”

Greg took a huge gulp of his coffee. “It’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Lord knows that this job teaches us that much, and that must go double for Chandra.”

Nick shrugged. “I guess.”

“How is Sara doing?” Greg’s tone was light but Nick knew what he meant. He wanted to know if Sara was already too invested; too emotionally involved in the case. If her empathy was already bleeding into sympathy and skirting at the edges of propriety. Nick drained his cup and handed it to Greg.

“Thanks for that, man. I feel ready to get going on that kit now. I should have some samples for you real soon.”

Without for Greg’s response, Nick walked out of the breakroom. The lab tech watched him go, aware that he had stepped onto thin ice by asking about Sara. He knew that he was isolated from the emotional demands of a case in the DNA lab and he had made the mistake before of cracking jokes when handing over results when solemnity was required. The CSIs experienced the crimes they investigated in a much more personal way than he did and even if they didn't talk about it often, it meant there was a barrier between the field investigators and the technicians in the lab.

(Part three)

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March 2015

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