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 four


Greg could tell that Nick was still simmering with rage even as Greg gave him the DNA results and they talked about the fact that that Dr. David’s DNA hadn’t been found anywhere on his stepdaughter or her clothes.

The muscle in Nick’s jaw was jumping as started a search in CODIS for the as yet unattributed DNA. Greg looked at the grim expression on Nick’s face as he hunched over the computer in the DNA lab and tried to work out how best he could get his co-worker to calm down and focus on the case at hand.

Nick looked up from the screen and caught Greg staring. He made a frustrated noise. “I know you think I’m over-reacting, but if you do get in the field do you want Sara treating you like you’re some kind of pervert?”

“Is that what you feel she’s doing?” Greg’s tone was noncommittal.

“You were right there.” Nick shook his head. “She was stopping both of us from getting in to the layout room. She thinks that there would be something inappropriate about us seeing those photos.”

“Did she say that?”

Nick rolled his eyes. “Does she have to?”

Greg shrugged. “I’ve seen Catherine do the same thing with SART kit photos. Hell, I’ve seen Archie do the same thing with AV evidence. Isn’t it better if as few people as possible see photos that victims probably wish were never taken?”

“I don’t think you’re quite getting it, Greg.” Nick gestured dismissively.

“I think I might be,” Greg said carefully. “Nick, we’re all on the same team. We’re all on Team Good Guy. No one thinks you have anything but the greatest respect for the victims you process: not Sara, not Catherine.” He paused, choosing his words. “On the other hand, the victims can’t tell at a glance that you’re on Team Good Guy rather than Team Bad Guy and I think it’s important to respect their sensitivities.”

“I can’t stand that they think I’m one of them," Nick said, fiercely.

“One of whom?” Greg was confused.

Nick looked down at the computer in front of him. “Someone who would hurt a child.”

Greg frowned. “Nick!” He held his hands apart in front of him. “There is a million light years between not wanting everyone on shift traipsing through the layout room to look at a child’s SART kit photos and thinking you’re a child rapist.”

Nick winced.

“Sorry,” Greg said, without thinking.

Nick’s head jerked up.

“Sorry for what?” His voice was tight with apprehension.

Greg made a split-second decision. “For reminding you of things you don’t want to think about, I guess.”

Nick looked at him, face unreadable.

Greg cleared his throat. “If you don’t want to talk about it with me, dude, that’s totally cool. I didn’t mean to bring it up. I just figured that you were looking at that website for yourself. If it was something else, then I'm sorry for jumping to conclusions.”

“It’s OK. ” Nick was staring at the computer screen again. His shoulders were slightly hunched, as if he was trying to protect himself from the fact the conversation was happening at all. "They were the right conclusions."

The silence stretched out between them, neither man entirely sure how to continue. Nick avoided Greg's gaze and was feigning absorption in the CODIS search that was flickering on the screen.

“When I was in college my room-mate melted down.” Greg broke the silence. “One night I came back to our room and he’d cut his wrists. He eventually told me that his father abused him and that getting away from home made him realise what had happened.” Greg sighed. “I don’t know much but I read some books about what he was going through. If you ever need or want to talk--” He trailed off.

Nick was looking at Greg with a new respect. “Thanks, man.”

There was another silence, but this one was warmer; less awkward. Nick shook his head. “I was so wrapped in Sara and what I thought she was thinking about this case that I don’t think I realised how my reaction to her was so tied up in my own stuff.”

Greg brushed an imaginary speck of dust off the workbench in front of him. “I don’t mean to minimise your experience when I say this, but these cases are hard on everyone. For you and Sara, it’s a reminder. For Catherine, I bet she goes home and gives Lindsey a huge hug. For me, it reminds me of Andrew.”

“Has Sara ever talked to you about--” Nick left his question hanging.

“No.” Greg shook his head emphatically, face serious. “It just seems like a logical explanation for some of the ways she reacts to things; her dedication to some types of victims.” He looked at Nick. “Including her somewhat black and white thinking about perps and victims and who they are.”

“Yeah.” Nick fiddled with the edge of the file he had laid down on the bench. “You were a pretty awesome room-mate to do so much research to help Andrew.”

Greg grinned. “Truth be told,” he said, blushing slightly, “I was a little bit in love with him.”

“Yeah?” Nick smiled, eyebrows raised in surprise.

“I was 18 years old and had a romantic vision of myself as his rescuer. He was more into some snotty fratboy who insisted they stay on the down low” Nick could hear the hurt in Greg’s voice.

The lab tech shook himself slightly under Nick’s questioning gaze. “Anyway, enough remembrance of things past. CODIS giving you anything useful yet?”

Nick looked down at the CODIS results on the screen: No Match.

“No match,” he said, as his pager went off. He looked at it.

“Apparently Dr. David’s lawyer has arrived. Sebastian Saunders is in reception.”

Greg did a double-take. “The mob lawyer?”

Nick put his pager back on his belt. “The very same.”

***

Sebastian Saunders looked like he had stepped directly into the reception of the Las Vegas Crime Lab from a London townhouse. A handsome man in his mid thirties, he was dressed in what Hodges had informed Nick was an Anderson & Sheppard suit. Hodges had also admired his Olga Berluti shoes and was no doubt going on to offer a comment on his briefcase before Nick cut him off mid-sentence with a reminder that Hodges worked in trace and not for Vogue magazine.

The lawyer showed Brass the results of his expensive orthodontic work. “Is it possible, Captain Brass, for me to see my client?” Nick could have sworn that Saunders was trying to cultivate a fake British accent, and swallowed a smirk.

“Not your usual kind of client is he, Counsellor?” Brass’s face was impassive. “Unless, of course, he’s not actually a mild-mannered engineer but is the criminal mastermind behind an international drugs organisation, and responsible for a batch of bodies buried out there in the desert.”

Sebastian Saunders raised one perfectly groomed eyebrow. “Don’t be ridiculous, Captain Brass. His employer has concerns about its intellectual property, which it understands from Mrs. David was in his possession at the time he came for questioning. Now, shall we get on with things? The real perpetrator is presumably wandering around somewhere sizing up other young girls for similar treatment.”

Brass didn’t even blink. “Your guy isn’t off the hook yet.”

“Oh really?” Saunders’ voice was supercilious. “And you have DNA evidence linking him to the assault do you?” He read the ensuing silence accurately. “So we’re all just wasting our time here, aren’t we?”

Brass smiled a slow smile. “I don't think we've heard all that Dr. David has to say. There may still be information that would assist us with our investigation. And I for one would like to be enlightened on why he doesn’t seem to give a damn that his stepdaughter has been violently raped. He didn’t look so much as concerned when I was speaking to him before.”

Saunders’ laughed, a short mocking laugh. “Are you familiar with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Captain?”

Brass raised his eyebrows. “Come again?”

“Dr. David has Asperger Syndrome. My understanding of LVPD procedure is that he should have had access to a specialist advocate. I do hope that as well as failing to provide that advocate you are not also interpreting his symptoms as guilt?”

Brass looked at Nick. “We weren’t told that Dr. David has Asperger Syndrome and I didn't spend enough time with him to even suspect that was the case. Our conversation was brief.”

Nick nodded in agreement. He was aware that Asperger Syndrome made it challenging for sufferers to process information and relate to other people, and Dr. David’s flat response to Brass’s questions made sense in light of his diagnosis. However, he had also seen killers, arsonists and rapists who had shown no remorse and it hadn’t been possible to work out why Dr. David had seemed so indifferent to Annabeth’s suffering.

Brass turned back to Saunders. “I’ll take you to your client now. I’d like to check this out with the undersheriff.”

Saunders nodded. “I’m sure that my client will be as co-operative as is possible, now you have established that DNA evidence has excluded him from primary involvement in this hateful crime.”

Nick was aware that his own expression was sardonic as he watched Saunders and Brass head towards the interview room. Saunders’ distaste for the crime they were investigating would have been more believable had he not mounted a full-throated defense some years previously of a Las Vegas mobster who had fathered a child with his own twelve year old daughter.

“Nick!” Sara had appeared at his side. “I’ve just spoken to Chandra Williams and there’s a possible line of investigation she flagged up. Are you in the middle of something?”

“Nope,” he said, following her back towards the lab workspaces. “Dr. David has Asperger Syndrome, which explains his flat affect during the interview. Brass is going to check procedure with the undersheriff and Sebastian Saunders is speaking to his client.”

“Sebastian Saunders is David’s lawyer?” Sara was incredulous enough to break stride.

“Apparently Dr. David’s firm has concerns about its intellectual property. There were some encrypted images on his laptop that he is claiming relate to his work as an engineer.”

Sara frowned. “Greg said DNA had excluded David. Do you still like him for this?”

“Not really,” Nick sounded weary. “CODIS didn’t give us a match, though, so we need more leads.”

“I can help with that,” Sara said. “Chandra just phoned me and said that she spoke with the school to follow-up their referral and keep them in the loop. Apparently, the school is seeking legal advice about getting a restraining order for Annabeth’s father, Patrick Bryant.”

“A restraining order?” Nick echoed. “There was nothing indicating violence in his record, apart from domestic disturbance calls relating to when he was married to Mrs. David.”

Sara shot Nick a look.

“I mean, of course that’s indicative of violence,” Nick corrected himself. “I meant to say that there was nothing recent, and certainly nothing from Annabeth’s school. That would have raised instant red flags.”

Sara glanced down at the notes she had taken from her call with Chandra Williams. “Apparently, Patrick Bryant has been hanging around the front of the school, trying to talk to Annabeth through the fence. He does have visitation and Annabeth stays over there every other weekend, but Annabeth would come into school crying after he spoke to her and he was starting to freak out the other children.”

Nick whistled. “That’s not enough for a search warrant, but we definitely need to pick him up for an interview.”

Brass walked into the room. “News for you two on that cross-jurisdiction hit on Patrick Bryant I mentioned earlier. A UK crime agency did a child and violent pornography sting operation last year and they passed the data over to the FBI. The Bureau actioned the child pornography leads but the violent stuff isn’t criminalised here so the information was filed.”

“So what was he caught looking at?” Sara asked.

“I’m getting there, Sara,” Brass said. “The local Bureau field office has been chasing that down for me for the past day or so and just faxed over the file. Their experts couldn’t determine whether the women in the images were children or legal so no further action was taken. It’s certainly violent, though.”

He handed the file over the Sara. “If we really push our luck then we might get a search warrant on the back of those images and the previous domestic disturbance calls.”

“There’s something else, too,” Sara said, and explained about Patrick Bryant’s presence at Annabeth’s school.

“I’ll start dialling sympathetic judges,” Brass said. “A uniform will also go out to pick up Patrick Bryant, and you two head out to his house. I should have the search warrant squared away by the time you get there.”

***

Sara pulled her seatbelt across her chest and secured it with a click. She leaned against the headrest as Nick swung himself into the driver’s seat of his Denali.

He looked at her as he turned the ignition key. “You OK?”

“Sure,” she said, without opening her eyes.

“These cases are tough,” Nick said, pulling out of the crime lab car park and turning in the direction of Patrick Bryant’s house.

“Yeah.” She opened her eyes and turned her head towards him. He could see her chewing her lip out the corner of his eye. “I’m glad we ended up working this case together.”

Nick hadn’t expected that. “You are?”

“You work these cases really hard. You don’t give up. Cassie McBride has that to be thankful for, but so do a lot of other kids”

Nick chose his words carefully. “It’s important to me that kids are safe. If someone hurts them I want to help get their safety back as quickly as possible.”

“Me too.” Sara was looking out of the window now.

Nick has just opened his mouth to ask Sara more when she leaned across and turned up the volume on the country CD that was playing softly, effectively calling time on the conversation.

***

Patrick Bryant’s small one-storey house looked beaten up from the outside and, as Sara and he stood in the living room, Nick concluded that the inside was similarly battered. It was clean enough, though.

“Shall we start with the bedrooms?” Nick asked. Sara nodded.

Sara paused in the doorway of what was clearly Annabeth’s bedroom. It was decorated in pinks and purples and had a single bed with a unicorn bedspread, and some framed pictures on the walls. There was a small white desk in one corner with a noticeboard above it, to which a couple of photos were pinned. A slightly grubby area rug on the floor completed the sparse decoration.

“I’ll take this one.” Sara didn’t wait for an answer.

Nick carried on to the master bedroom, hefting his kit. Patrick Bryant’s own room reflected the fact that he had shared it with the current Mrs. David until they separated. The navy bedspread didn’t match the scuffed floral wallpaper, pale pink carpeting or the ornate white bedroom set. Nick concluded that it was a recent addition and wondered if there was a pink or floral bedspread somewhere that they had once both slept under.

He pulled out his camera and started taking pictures.

Sara came into the master bedroom just as Nick finished pulling a last pile of unmarked videotapes from the shelf in Bryant’s closet.

“How are you doing?” she asked.

“I’ve taken swabs of fluids from the sheets in here and found 40 tapes in the closet. I checked a couple in the VCR in here, which I’ve also lifted prints from, and they’re definitely pornography. Girls, for sure, but there’s an outside chance they could be legal.” Nick shook his head as if to clear the images from it.

“I found more tapes in the living room.”

“You got to the living room, already?” Nick was impressed.

“Yeah, it seems like Annabeth’s room has hardly been lived in. I’ve bundled the sheets for trace analysis, but didn’t find anything significant. No fluids.” Sara paused. “I did, however, find another bundle of tapes in a high cupboard in the living room. I’ve packed those up. I also found a big pile of information relating to a group called Fathers 4 Justice, which I’ve bagged.”

She leaned against the doorframe, exhausted. “I’ve searched the living room, kitchen, bathroom and laundry. There’s no garage, so I think we’re good to go.”

Nick stood up and stretched his back. “Sure. Let’s get all of these tapes back to the lab. Archie can start sifting through them when he gets in.”

He looked at Sara. “Do you want to get something to eat, afterwards. Grissom said we should get some sleep in our own beds before coming in late for our next shift. I’ve already blown my overtime for the month.”

Sara smiled, ruefully. “Yeah, me too. Actually, do you mind if I pass on lunch? I’m craving sleep more than food right now.”

Nick smiled back. “Sure thing. Rain check?”

“Rain check.”

(Part five)
 
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