Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by edog, Sep 15, 2007.

  1. edog

    edog Lab Technician

    May 5, 2006
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    Disclaimer: Not mine.

    Author’s Notes: Might be a bit of a tearjerker in later chapters, so you’ve been forewarned. Some angst, some drama, some romance. This will be a different portrayal of Det. Tony Vartann than most are used to. Granted, we know very little about him to begin with, which is what made this both fun and frustrating to write. I did some research on medical things, but not a lot. Excuse my ignorance. Hope you enjoy nonetheless.

    Warning: Mentions of self mutilation, but nothing in graphic detail.

    Summary: Detective Vartann returns to work for the LVPD after nearly a year long absence. [Catherine/Vartann; Sofia/Vartann friendship; Season 7]

    by e-dog


    Year: 1995
    Las Vegas

    What should’ve been a routine arrest warrant turned into so much more.

    Arriving at the house of Simon Young, Detective Tony Vartann could feel in his bones that something was wrong.

    He wasn’t sure why. Nothing in their investigation indicated any kind of immediate danger. Simon didn’t display any patterns of aggressive behavior. His home was small and tidy; too quaint to house that of a predator. Oh, but a predator he was. Simon had killed two young girls, single gunshot wounds to the chest.

    The motive for the killings had been unclear. There didn’t seem to be any links between the victims and Simon. However, the evidence didn’t lie and it all led back to Simon Young.

    Vartann surveyed the house again. There were no vicious dogs in the backyard and all the shades in the house were open wide. It all appeared to be so normal, so safe.

    Tony knocked on the door once.

    The door exploded, shards of wood flying at both him and his squad. He hit the deck, wincing at the pinprick stabs of pain all over his body. He could already imagine the nuisance it would be to remove all the splinters.

    It was then he saw the shotgun sized hole in the door and nearly lost his lunch. A shotgun. That was close. Oh, that was so very close. He was lucky to be alive. When he shifted his gaze to his left, his heart slowed to an almost deadly pulse.

    Tony’s eyes considered the body lying only a few feet to his left. The officer’s name was Daryl Hanley. He had two young boys and a beautiful wife. The sandy blond hair whispered in the wind and all Tony could think about was how the color had always reminded him of sunflowers. He was dead.

    Officer Daryl Hanley was gone.


    That would be Officer Grier getting his attention. It was time to snap out of it. Daryl was gone.

    Tony breathed in deeply and gathered his wits. He still had a job to do and for the moment, he could still do it. He would do it for Daryl.

    Tony stood to his feet, drew his gun and yelled, “Simon Young! We have a warrant for your arrest! Drop your weapon and step out slowly!”

    Tony was answered with another blast from the gun. He ducked behind a tree in the front yard, the shot missing him by several feet. He watched as two other officers from his squad dragged Daryl’s body off the yard. Seeing Daryl’s body again was enough to set him off.

    Tony rose from his crouched position, leaned against the tree and returned fire. He littered the front door with bullets, yelling out his frustration as he did so. He reloaded and did it again. The other officers followed his lead and soon the front of the house was peppered with holes.

    They stopped firing. Tony reloaded his weapon with his last clip. All was silent.

    Minutes passed before there was any more activity. The front door opened slowly, an exhausted shotgun was thrown out. The first sign of his surrender. Then followed Simon, his gait showing off an obvious limp. One of their arrant bullets had hit the target, crimson liquid flowing from the wound. Simon rose one hand. The second sign of his surrender.

    Tony approached slowly, gun extended. Simon appeared to be wounded, embarrassed and hurt. Good. If Tony had any say in this matter, Simon was gonna feel a whole lot worse for killing Daryl.

    Once he was close enough, Tony lowered his weapon slightly, reaching behind his back to retrieve his cuffs. “I would like nothing more than to kill you, right here.”

    Simon remained quiet.

    Tony began to read him his rights. “Simon Young, you’re under arrest. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you can not afford . . .”


    Two gunshots fired simultaneously. One bullet hit Tony in the shoulder. He wasn’t sure where the other bullet went or where it came from. He didn’t really have time to think about it either. He dropped to the ground, crying out from the sudden intrusion and immediately began putting pressure on the wound. There was one more shot fired and then the shuffling of feet.

    “Vartann? Detective Vartann, are you okay?”

    “Go! Get that little bastard! I’m fine!” Tony insisted to the shadow hovering over him.

    With labored efforts, Tony got himself leaning on an elbow to view the scene. Simon was face down on the ground now, one officer tying him up. The other officer had taken down a second gunmen standing in the doorway. It never occurred to Tony that there may be a second shooter. Why didn’t he consider that? It made sense now. A second shooter all along and it suddenly made sense.

    Tony groaned at the pain. The blood was seeping out quickly. He was losing a lot of it. Too much. It hurt so much to move. He watched Grier drag Simon away. He heard orders for a bus and back-up.

    So that was it. The scene finally felt secure and knowing this, Tony let himself fall back to the ground. He was suddenly very tired.

    He breathed in deeply, then shut his eyes.

    Year: 2006
    Las Vegas PD

    Detective Tony Vartann adjusted the sling holding up his left arm before pushing through the doors. He didn’t really need the sling anymore, but there were some days he simply couldn’t function without it.

    He slowly made his way through the squad room, toward his desk. Now that he was moderately mobile, it was time to face the hounds.

    “Tony. Welcome back.”

    He looked up and saw the usually bright face of Sofia Curtis. It was very rare that they saw one another, always working different rotations. He hadn’t spoken to her since last week before his hospitalization.

    Sofia had tried calling him, obviously curious. He ignored her calls. He ignored all calls period. He didn’t want to talk about it. He didn’t want to talk about what happened or why he was wearing a sling.
    For all she knew, he had a procedure done on his arm. Well, he would let her assume that. He didn’t want to worry her over what really happened and that’s why he ignored her calls.

    He appreciated her concern, of course. He only wished he had been so courteous to her when she was suspected of killing Officer Bell. When he finally reached her, he lifted his good arm and awkwardly hugged her. “Curtis. Good to see you.”

    “Likewise,” she replied. She didn’t ask about her unanswered calls. She didn’t question why he was wearing a sling. Her expression turned to worry almost immediately, though. “Are you ready to be back? Brass told me you had to be hospitalized. He wouldn’t elaborate.”

    “I’m good. I have desk duty for a little while, but I’m good,” Tony said, half smiling at her concern.

    Sofia returned the smile before excusing herself. She had work to do.

    Tony watched her walk away, before turning and catching the cold eyes of the Undersheriff standing in an office doorway. That wasn’t a good sign. Tony made his way over to the office immediately.

    Ten minutes later, Tony left the Undersheriff’s office, went straight for his desk and picked up a few belongings. He left his gun on the desk.

    “Vartann?” Sofia called him.

    He looked at her, his eyes covered in shadow. With a low voice, he promised, “I’ll call you.”

    Then he was gone.

    Sofia Curtis took his promise to heart. He never called. Several months later and she was still waiting on word from him. She really, really tried to just let it go. Tony didn’t care enough to call, so why should she care enough to wait?

    There were weeks she simply didn’t think of him. Detective Tony Vartann had become a legend, a myth.

    There were weeks she simply thought of him all the time. She wondered why he walked out so abruptly, why he promised to call and just didn’t.

    She tried asking around, getting dirt on Tony’s sudden disappearance. All she could ever get out of Brass were two words: medical leave.


    She was working a case with Catherine this night. They were parked in her office for the time being, waiting on some trace results.

    “What’s up, Cath?”

    Catherine sighed. “Oh, nothing. Dayshift handed this case off on me yesterday. It’s a cold case, but they thought it might help me with what we’re working on now. You know, possible serial or something.”

    “Oh?” Sofia said, approaching Catherine to get a closer look at the casefile.

    “Turns out, it won’t help,” Catherine said flatly.

    Sofia smirked, “Then why mention it at all?”

    Catherine turned the folder around so the detective could get a good look. “Well, see for yourself.”

    Sofia glanced down. First Catherine pointed at the date. One month ago. Then she slid a finger down the page and stopped at a name. Sofia’s eyes widened as she read Detective Tony Vartann in bold, black print. His signature was right below that.

    “You’re not the only one who’s been wondering what happened to him,” Catherine said softly.

    Sofia looked up seeing the calm relief on Catherine’s face. Tony was okay. He didn’t fall off the face of the earth. He was okay.

    Sofia sighed, “I thought we were friends.” She took a seat in an empty chair, then asked, “Why were you so worried about him?”

    “We got paired up a lot, pure coincidence I guess,” Catherine said, shrugging. “It was just weird when he stopped showing up at my crime scenes. Now he’s back.”

    Yes, Tony was back. Sofia didn’t know why. She didn’t know where he ran off to, but Tony was back and he was still a Detective in Vegas (working the dayshift, no less). The question was, why did he stay away for so long and why didn’t he tell anyone that he had returned?

    Part One: I am a changed man

    Sofia called me and I actually answered the phone. She sounded angry, but her questions were mostly inquiring about my well-being, how long I had been back, and other related matters. She didn’t outright say she was disappointed I didn’t call her or say hello. I asked how she found out. Catherine saw my signature on a case from a month ago. CSIs and their damn observant eyes. I wanted to hide out for at least another month.

    Anyway, I now have at least one more person in this city I can call friend again and that’s Sofia. I’m surprised she puts up with me or even gives me the time of day. She’s blindly loyal. I wish she would’ve forgotten about me. It would be easier for both of us, but she hasn’t. She won’t. She actually sent me a message today.

    The text message is simple: Simon’s out.

    Simon Young.

    That case was my first and last rookie mistake. I had just earned my way to Detective. Things were going my way, then along came Simon. My first big case. My first real mistake. He was also my first real death threat. Never had I come so close to dying. Up until then, I had been very lucky on the job.

    Hard to believe that case was nearly 12 years ago. I still visit Daryl’s grave.

    Forensic technology at the time was inferior, yes, but it was reliable. It proved that Simon did not fire the shotgun thereby he was not responsible for the killing of Officer Daryl Hanley. The bullet I took in the shoulder was also not his doing. He had a partner with him that afternoon; a second shooter. That guy was put away for life. Simon scraped by on minimum jail time. Now he’s out.

    I’m not ashamed to admit that my first thoughts are of killing the little bastard. Had I been judge, jury and executioner, Simon Young’s body would’ve turned up in some old river bed long ago.

    I shut my cell phone and exit my car. I breathe in deep. This is a big night for me. It started out having nothing to do with Simon Young. The news of his release was just an added bonus. This is my first time working the night shift in nearly a year. I still won’t admit that I missed this lonely, old city.

    My ears pick up a familiar voice.

    “He died within the last few hours. No I.D. Sorry Catherine,” David announces.

    “Don’t worry, David. His attire would suggest he’s got a home somewhere and someone will miss him. We’ll check missing persons in the morning.”

    Catherine Willows is kneeling next to the body, a gaping gunshot wound to the abdomen. The cause of death is clear and I’m sure she’s glad she won’t have to wait on David’s analysis on that. I hear her instruct, “Turn the body over, David.”

    David does so. I’m not sure what she’s looking for, but her next statement clarifies that for me. “There’s an exit wound. That means there’s a bullet out there somewhere.”

    Ah. A bullet. She’ll probably wanna search for it. It’s the one thing about CSIs I’ll never understand. They enjoy looking for that needle in the haystack. They love searching for that one little clue, the one that normal eyes wouldn’t see. I say, let them. Less work for me.

    “Hey, Catherine. . .,” David says. She looks at where he’s pointing. The victim’s belt. “Looks like a gun holster.”

    “He carried a gun,” Catherine nods. “Might be the one that killed him. If we’re lucky, the killer panicked and dumped the weapon around here.”

    She surveys the desert terrain once more before standing again and looking for the detective assigned this case. Well, that would be me.

    “Willows. Over here.”

    She turns to my voice and can’t contain her surprise. “Detective Vartann?”

    Well, I’m a little surprised myself, if her reaction means what I think it means. If I didn’t know any better, I would say Catherine might have missed me while I was gone.

    “In the flesh,” I reply, my voice typically deadpan. I begin to walk slowly, almost gingerly toward her and I can tell she’s noticed my gimp.

    There seems to be a pregnant pause between my reaching her position and the finding of her voice. I wonder what was going through her head just now.

    “The victim has no I.D. I was just going to start a perimeter search for a murder weapon.”

    She’s all business as usual. Good, because that’s exactly what I need. I don’t need sympathy or questions or curiosities ruining my first official night back on the graveyard beat. I just need to work.

    “Stokes is here with you as well?” I ask. I already know that he is. I saw him. Have to admit, that guy irks me.

    “Uh, yeah. He’s documenting some footprints over by that ditch,” Catherine says, gesturing in the general direction of Nick’s location.

    “I can lend you some officers, help with the search,” I suggest. Seems stupid to suggest such a thing. We’re cops, not CSIs. When we conduct perimeter searches, we stomp around and wave guns. Obviously, Catherine will handle things much differently. ‘Delicately’ is the first word that comes to mind.
    “That’d be great,” Catherine nods. I turn and walk away to grab my guys. I can’t shake the feeling that she’s watching me walk the whole way to my car. I hear Nick’s voice in the distance.

    “I got a mold impression of the footprint, but unfortunately it’s only a partial,” Nick says. “It looks like a boot. Could be our shooter.”

    “Or a stargazer,” Catherine remarks. I watch her follow Nick back to their truck, gathering up fresh latex gloves and flashlights. Before I decide to stall any further, I order Metcalf, Mitchell and another young guy to follow me. For the life of me, I can’t remember the young guy’s name. Maybe because I keep confusing him with Daryl. They have the same sandy blond hair, the color of sunflowers.

    As soon as we reach the two CSIs, Catherine takes charge. “Nick, take these two gentlemen over this way and work your way back in toward the body. Officer Metcalf and I will start on the opposite side.”

    “Yes, ma’am,” Nick nods, leading the two officers away.

    I notice she hasn’t ordered me to do anything. I assume it’s because I’m the detective. As if there’s some secret rule stating detectives only get to survey the crime scene and interrogate suspects. As they walk away, I find that I’ll be alone, if you exclude David and the body. I don’t want to be alone, especially not with my thoughts. I want to work.

    “Catherine, I’ll join you and Metcalf,” I say, doing my best jog up to them and catch up. I must look so tired, wounded. The look of worry in her eyes sends chills throughout my whole body.

    “Okay, Detective. Put these on,” she says, handing me some gloves. “Follow me.”

    After several minutes, I find myself side by side with Catherine, our flashlights crossing paths occasionally. The silence between us is foreboding and I can tell she’s itching to ask the million dollar question. A few moments later, she does just that.

    “I haven’t seen you around in a while,” she says. Her voice is casual, nonchalant. Almost too nonchalant. “Where ya been?”

    I stiffen up. Not on purpose. I was trying for indifference as well, but failed miserably. I know she notices my jerky half step. She’s noticing everything about me tonight, but I can’t talk about this. I won’t talk about it.

    “Uh, yeah. I’ve been on medical leave,” I answer, my usually confident tone suddenly missing. I scold myself for not sounding stronger.

    Catherine repeats my words, her voice wavering ever so slightly. “Medical leave?”

    “Yeah. I’ve actually been back for about two months, working mostly dayshift cases,” I clarify, sure to make my voice louder. I can tell she wants more, but I switch back to work mode quickly. I have to.

    “I think I found something.”

    We both follow the stream of light resting upon an object in the sand. It gleams like metal. She carefully brushes the sand away and confirms, “It’s a bullet. It’s not a murder weapon, but for now, it’s close enough. I’ll collect this. Continue on the path we’re on until you meet up with Nick and the others.”

    I simply nod my compliance and move on without her. My gait is still awkward, slow.

    I am a changed man, this I’m sure Catherine knows. For whatever reason, I have a feeling she will do whatever it takes to figure out the change in me.

    A part of me hopes she does. I’m having trouble figuring out the change in me myself.
  2. ladyhunter

    ladyhunter Head of the Swing Shift

    May 5, 2006
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    ooo I love it
    I can't wait to
  3. MrsWillows

    MrsWillows Rookie

    Jul 31, 2007
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    Im really liking this, please, update soon. :D
  4. edog

    edog Lab Technician

    May 5, 2006
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    Glad to hear you all enjoy this! Here's the next part.

    Part Two: I took a break.

    David had called us back to the body after Catherine bagged and tagged the bullet. I wasn’t really sure why he called us back nor was I paying much attention. David has the tendency to prattle, fumble his words. I’m inclined to tune him out.

    Besides, my mind was elsewhere. Thoughts of leaving Vegas again have been plaguing me for the last month now. I thought I was ready to work again, but now I’m not so sure. News of Simon’s release doesn’t really help matters. I thought I could handle the day Simon would re-enter my life. My mind should be on this case, but right now, all I’m thinking about is him.

    I’m thinking that he’s a free man and I’m not. I’m trapped within myself. Simon is free.

    I’m trapped.


    I actually follow Catherine back to the lab. I’m not sure why.

    Probably because there is nothing better to do at my own desk. Paperwork is no more exciting now than it was before I left Vegas.

    We walk our bullet over to ballistics. That Bobby guy is a bit too cheery sometimes, his eyes gleaming at me the entire time. I know I’ve been gone a while, but gee, take a picture Bobby. It lasts longer.

    As I follow Catherine down the hall, she reminds me that the bullet could mean nothing. It’s the desert. All sorts of things find their way into the murky depths of the sandy terrain. For all we know, the bullet was fired ten years ago.

    Another thing that irks me. CSIs and their uncanny ability to point out the negatives in everything. They call it viewing all possible angles. I call it raining on a detective’s parade.

    At present, I’m lingering in the halls of the lab, just outside DNA. Catherine is talking with Gil and I told her I would wait until she was done. Again, I’m not sure why I said such a thing. I really just want to go home. When a certain blond detective rounds the corner and sees me, I regret not doing just that.

    “Vartann,” Sofia says, a little shocked. “Fancy seeing you here, haunting the labs at such a late hour.”

    “New case,” I tell her. “John Doe in the desert. GSW to the stomach.”

    “I see,” she nods. She shifts her weight to one leg, her pose rivaling that of runway models. I wonder if she knows how many heads turn as she walks by, her gait so confident, so sure. I don’t know why I wonder such a thing. She must know her affect on people. I guess a part of me would like to feed off her strength.

    “You got my message about Simon?” she says.

    “Yeah. Got it,” I reply, adverting my eyes down. “Thanks.”

    “Just thought you should know,” Sofia tells me sincerely. She searches out my eyes, but I’m dutifully avoiding her gaze. I see her frown ever so slightly. “So, why are you hanging around then? Thought you might be home by now.”

    “Catherine is running the evidence we found by Grissom,” I shrug. “Told her I would wait so we can discuss our next move.”

    Sofia nods again, holding up a few pieces of paper herself. “DNA results for my case. Killer and victim are related. Speaking of which, I have a suspect waiting for me. Good to see you, Vartann. Take care.”

    She walks by me rather quickly. I can’t help but roll my eyes. I can tell she’s upset with me. I don’t blame her, of course. I’ve been back for over a month and I didn’t tell her. She had to find out while browsing the file for another case, spying my signature at the bottom of the report. She feels slighted.

    I have this uncanny ability to upset most of the women in my life, one way or another. It’s just, I actually feel awful for how I’ve treated Sofia lately. All she wants is to provide some counsel, some support. I keep avoiding her, shooting her down. She doesn’t deserve that.

    “Hey, Vartann.”

    Catherine is back and I turn to face her. She’s not really looking at me, reading some report in her hands. She continues to talk, “I was just going to suggest that you find out if the victim had any relatives.”

    Wait, relatives? I’m perplexed now. I must have missed something on the way over here. I don’t remember getting an I.D. for the vic.

    “Uh, we know the guy’s name?” I ask.

    She looks up at me, her eyes staying it all. Yep, I definitely missed something on the way over here. A slow, uneasy smile crosses her face as she says, “Remember? David found the wallet on the inside of the jacket. He apologized a million times over for missing it.”

    Ah. David was prattling and I wasn’t listening. I nod, mouth half open only further showcasing my idiocy. “Refresh my memory?”

    “Robert Finn,” she says, graciously dismissing my temporary brain relapse. “He’s a resident of Vegas, probably has family somewhere nearby.”

    “I’ll get right on that,” I tell her. I walk away before she has a chance to say anything more.


    I slowly make my way over to the grave of Officer Daryl Hanley. God, has it really been twelve years?

    I can remember the ceremony. It was a good observance. It did Daryl justice. I stand as tall as I can, wincing at the pain in my shoulder as I do so. I rub the nagging injury as I recall that somber day.

    I talked to Daryl’s wife. She had smiled at me upon my arrival and it nearly made me cry. I didn’t deserve her kindness. Not after I had walked Daryl into a trap.

    “Ma’am. Your husband was a great asset to our department and a good man. I want to. . .I wanted to say. . .”

    I remember the words sticking to the roof of my mouth. The guilt was abundant, festering deep within me. Daryl died while following me.

    “Detective, you don’t have to say anything,” Mrs. Hanley had said softly to me, her smile sad and forced. “There’s nothing you could’ve done. Daryl always spoke highly of you. I know you did all you could.”

    “Ma’am, I just really need to say I’m sorry,” I had insisted.

    Mrs. Hanley leaned up and gave me a quick peck on the cheek. “I know you do, Detective. You being here, even with the injury means more to me than you’ll ever know.”

    When Mrs. Hanley left me there alone, I stood in the grassy lane for what felt like hours. The cold air made my shoulder stiff, but I didn’t care. Before long, most of the funeral party departed and went home. I have stood in this grassy lane every year around this time ever since.

    I never stay long. I can’t without losing control, without losing my mind. I finally get my wits about me and turn around, ready to find the next available street and hail a cab. I smile when I see Sofia leaning against her car.

    “Need me to drive?” Sofia offers.

    “How did you know I would be here?” I ask.

    Sofia smiles knowingly. “You’re here every year.”

    “Thanks, Curtis.”

    We ride in silence for a while, but I know Sofia is just itching to ask about my disappearing act and why I decided to return. I really don’t want to talk about it.

    “So, the Undersheriff let you back?” she said. “For good?”

    “I’m back for good,” I tell her. What I don’t tell her is that the Undersheriff wasn’t the only reason I was gone so long in the first place.

    “You know why I told you about Simon, right?” she asks. Sofia knows about my first case. She knows I barreled in there, guns ablazin’ after Daryl got shot. She knows how Daryl died. I had confided all of this to her one night. Big mistake.

    It was a year ago, actually. A week before my hospitalization. That night, we talked for hours. We talked about Simon and we talked about me taking a bullet to the shoulder. I told her about the Internal Affairs investigation on my conduct, on my negligence. My actions nearly got me killed, I told her. I lost Daryl. I lost control and emptied two clips of 9 mm bullets into Simon’s house. I told her nearly everything about that case. . .everything but the most damaging part of my little story. That was just one thing I wasn’t ready to share yet.

    She mentioned things about the Bell shooting in kind, but kept most of her thoughts on that to a minimum. I know she was just trying to relate her experiences to mine, trying to help me cope with my mistakes. I let her talk. I had a feeling she needed to unload some of that pressure.

    I’ll admit, it felt good to talk about the Simon Young case, to express my frustration over Internal Affairs. That night, I was glad Sofia offered to listen.

    Now, I wish I had kept my big mouth shut.

    “Hey, where did you go? I asked if you knew why I told you about Simon?” Sofia asks again, her voice quiet.

    God, I must have blanked out or something. I’ve been doing that lately. Getting lost in my memories. I rub my eyes and mutter, “Uh, no. I don’t know why. I do know that if I see him, I’ll shoot him.”

    There is an awkward silence before Sofia glances at me with concern. “You alright?”

    “Yeah, fine. Why?”

    “I dunno. Lately you sound vengeful, angry.”

    We arrive at my apartment, but before I exit her car, she says, “Hey. I told you Simon is out because I thought you should know. I don’t want to wake up one morning to find you in trouble, okay?”

    “Yeah, yeah,” I say, getting out of the car.

    “I mean it, Vartann,” she says sternly.

    “I know, I know. I’m not stupid,” I tell her with just as much fervor. I shut her car door and she drives away, but not without giving me those skeptical eyes. I don’t think I’ve convinced her of anything.

    Hell. I’m not convinced I won’t shoot Simon myself, if I ever see him again. Because of him, I have to live in this hell that is my life. He should have to pay for what he did to me, shouldn’t he?


    I stand at the bathroom sink, viewing my face in the mirror.

    I took a break. A much needed break.

    Partly because my superiors forced me to, but mostly because that was all I really wanted in the first place. I tighten my towel around my waist, then began studying the scars on my chest. It’s hard to believe that I can still see where the pieces of that door dug into my skin. Then again, I had been standing at point blank range when the shotgun was fired. There was bound to be shrapnel.

    I draw a hand up to my shoulder. That’s one scar that will never go away. The entry wound. I rub the spot gingerly. It wasn’t really the shooting that bothered me so. It was the death of a good officer. It was that damn bullet and what it had done to me physically. Mentally, I’m tough. Physically, I feel my whole body is wilting away.

    I look up because my phone is ringing. I step out of the bathroom, cross my bedroom to the bed and retrieve it. I answer, “Vartann.”

    It’s Catherine. If our found bullet was anything to go by (which she’s confident it is), the murder weapon is a .22 caliber gun. I tell her I’ll still need to search for Finn’s family. There’s no immediate next of kin in the area. She informs me that she and Nick will be paying a visit to Finn’s house, hopefully to find the gun. I’m not sure what compels me to say this, but I tell her, “Be careful.”

    “Always,” she replies, her voice so positive and so full of life. It amazes me. This job hasn’t always been kind to her. Even still, she can approach each case with the same enthusiasm of a rookie CSI. I wish I had her confidence.

    Once I terminate the call, I notice a blinking message symbol. I dial my voicemail and wait. The voice on the playback is Sofia. Why am I not surprised?

    “Vartann, it’s Curtis. I know you won’t talk to me (and for the life of me I can’t figure out why), but you need to talk to someone. Anyone. Even Catherine has noticed something is up with you. If you feel so inclined, call me back.”

    I wince at the part about Catherine. I barely know her, she barely knows me. Her noticing my dumpy demeanor only suggests that I’m not playing the part of strong detective very well. I’m going to have to change things around to keep her from worrying. I don’t need her sympathy or pity.

    I drop the phone back on the bed.

    I will myself to get dressed. It’s time to be strong again.

    to be continued. . .
  5. ladyhunter

    ladyhunter Head of the Swing Shift

    May 5, 2006
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    WOW that's great!

    Looking forward to more
  6. MrsWillows

    MrsWillows Rookie

    Jul 31, 2007
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    Im enjoying this a lot! please update soon! :]
  7. edog

    edog Lab Technician

    May 5, 2006
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    A/N: A huge thanks for the comments. They keep me writing. =) Here's part three.

    Part Three: I’m not brave.

    “So, they let you back, huh?”

    I stop, turn my head to look over my shoulder and see the smug smile of Conrad Ecklie. In another life, I might’ve sparred a few words with the bastard, but I can’t get myself to do anything about it today. I sigh deeply, choose to the ignore the catty remark and continue on to Catherine’s office. I round a corner and bump into Nick. Of all the people to run into, it had to be him.

    “Whoa, hey! Sorry Vartann,” Nick apologizes, smiling as he does so. He pats my shoulder. The bad shoulder. I nearly jump back from his touch and the Texan’s smile fades quickly. He winces as he states the obvious, “That was the shoulder, huh?”

    “Yeah, Stokes. That was the shoulder,” I nod fervently, shaking off the slight yet irritating sting. I wasn’t really worried about the pain as much as I was about Nick mentioning the injury. Someone around here has been doing some talking. I ask him, “So, who told you about me?”

    “Just heard about it in passing,” Nick shrugs

    “You went to Finn’s house?” I say, forcing a smile. Might as well divert his attention from my shoulder and focus on the case.

    “Uh, right. Cath and I didn’t find a gun but we did find an address book,” Nick recalls. He even adds with a coy grin, “We’ve got Hodges tracking down the names.”

    Hodges. I’ve had little interaction with the tech, but judging by Nick’s gleeful expression, it’s safe to say he enjoys giving Hodges the grunt work whenever he can.

    “Well, less work for me,” I say, my hand still on my shoulder. Damn Nick for bumping into me. It’s starting to really hurt now. When I move to walk away, Nick stops me by blocking my path.

    “Oh and uh, if it still hurts like that, shouldn’t you get it looked at?” Nick asks curiously, pointing at my shoulder. “I mean, gunshot wounds tend to heal rather. . .”

    “It’s fine, Stokes. Is Catherine around?” I cut him off, rotating my shoulder gingerly.

    “She’s in her office,” Nick says, his stern gaze never leaving my face. He finally moves out of the way, taking the hint that all I want is to be left alone. Just before I’m completely out of earshot, he makes a last second attempt at reaching out. “Hey, Vartann?”

    I turn around and catch those unforgiving eyes again. Those concerned eyes.

    Nick’s frown grows deeper as he says, “Take care, okay?”

    I nod, nearly rolling my eyes once Nick is gone. I don’t want any sympathy from anyone, especially not form the King of Sympathy, Mr. Nick Stokes. And I most certainly don’t want people to know that my shoulder still ails me from time to time. Nick is right about one thing. My shoulder shouldn’t hurt like this after nearly twelve years. This, however, is no ordinary injury.

    I knock on her office door and hear a soft, “Come in.” I slowly open the door, my thin smile already set in place. I can’t help but notice how her face seems to light up in my presence. It actually makes me feel good, feel wanted. Catherine removes her reading glasses and greets me, “Hey, Detective.”

    “Willows,” I greet her back with a slight nod. I get down to business immediately. “Nick told me what you found at the house. Now it’s my turn. Our victim, Finn, has one brother. The brother is a professor out in Ohio and is still in the midst of spring classes. He wasn’t in town the night of the murder.”

    “Parents?” she asks.


    Catherine mulls that information over, then remarks, “You made a special trip over here just to tell me that? Must be a slow night.”

    I grin. I truly, truly grin. All night I kept thinking I had to be fake around her, to keep her from being suspicious. To my surprise, I feel more like myself in this moment than I have in the last year.

    “My slow night is your slow night, Catherine,” I joke back. “Most of our cases do coincide, after all.”

    “You got me,” she laughs. “I have to admit, aside from this Finn murder, Vegas has been unusually quiet.”

    A few brief moments of silence follow our chuckling, before I say, “Well, that’s all I have. I should get back and. . .” I pause, feeling a wave of nausea hit me suddenly. Oh no. Not now.

    “Tony?” Catherine calls me. She rises from her seat, watching my face contort from a familiar pain. She also watches me clutch my stomach and she knows instantly I’m about to be sick. She quickly grabs her trash can and rushes it over to me.

    I eagerly take it, then turn around to get as much privacy as possible. The bile in my stomach exits out my mouth and dumps into the can. I sputter on the gross gunk for a moment, hugging the can to my chest. I turn up my nose at the smell. I can feel my ears burning in embarrassment.

    “You need something to drink?” Catherine offers quietly. “Some water?”

    “No, no,” I shake my head, my voice hoarse. I open her office door, taking the can with me. “I’ll take care of this. . .I’ll. . .uh. I’ll be back.”

    I walk quickly toward the restrooms, barge into the men’s room and dispose of the bag in Catherine’s trash can. I set the can down and find a sink.

    Rinsing out my mouth, my mind races. I’ve never gotten sick at work before. I view my face in the mirror. I suddenly look and feel like hell. I smooth my hair down, as if that will do anything to make me feel better, then leave the bathroom. Catherine is waiting on the other side of the door.

    “What’s wrong?” she says bluntly.

    I wasn’t expecting her to be standing there nor was I expecting her curtness. I smooth out my suit jacket and clear my throat. “I’m just getting over a little stomach thing. Nothing to worry about, but thanks for. . .”

    “You’re lying,” Catherine says, her tone full of warning. I can already hear the unspoken demand. She’s saying don’t lie to her. She knows I’m lying.

    I rub some sweat from my brow and then sigh heavily. I hold up a hand in surrender and confess, “Okay, so it’s not just some stomach thing, but I don’t want to talk about it either. I’m sorry I lied.”

    I go to walk past her, but she blocks my path. She’s resilient, I’ll give her that.

    “Catherine,” I say softly, my voice nearly pleading she let this go.

    She shakes her head and speaks quietly, yet harshly. “Detective. You’re walking around here like a man who doesn’t give a damn about the world or the people who live on it. Just know that Sofia is losing sleep over you. Everyone in this lab? They’re wondering where you’ve been, what happened. You don’t have to explain yourself, but at least pretend to care when one of us shows you some concern. We did miss you. We are worried.”

    I had always heard that Catherine was good at lecturing. I had never been on the opposite end of one of these lectures before, however. I had just always heard she was good at them and boy, this would definitely be one for the record books.

    I avoid her gaze for as long as possible. I have to say something, right? I rub the bad shoulder out of habit, contemplating my next move. I finally catch her eyes and see something there I hadn’t seen in quite a long while. Compassion. True compassion. She’s pissed, yes, but not even her ire can wash away the compassion I see in her eyes. I let my head fall with shame and say softly, “I do give a damn. Why do you think I finally came back to work?”

    Catherine folds her arms, her tone softening. “I think the real question is, why did you leave in the first place?”

    I continue to rub my shoulder. I begin to wish that Sofia were here instead of Catherine. Sofia is pushy, but only to a point. She usually stops prying after a while. I have a feeling that Catherine Willows is not going anywhere until she gets something concrete out of me. I cast my eyes down, avoiding her gaze again. “You sure care a lot about someone you barely know, Catherine.”

    Catherine’s expression is friendly now. “I care about anyone who holds the same values as I do. I care because we work together and if we’re to continue to work together, I need to know I can trust you. You need to trust me.”

    I’m beginning to feel a certain weight lift off my heavy heart, but somehow, the weight is being replaced with another. The burden still exists within me. The guilt just never seems to go away. A thought enters my mind and I say it aloud.

    “I can’t do this anymore.”

    “Do what?” she asks.

    “Be a detective. You said I have to trust you, that you have to trust me if we’re to continue to work together. The thing is, I don’t think you should trust me, not with your life. My head is just not in the game. . .”

    “So what will you do? We both know you’re not going to quit,” she says confidently. “If you were going to quit, you would have done so by now. Going back on leave is not an option either.”

    “And why not?”

    “Because you’re using that to hide. You can’t do that forever, Tony,” Catherine tells me, her voice dying out from frustration. “You are stronger than this, I know you are. Talk to me.”

    I seriously consider her offer. I really, really do, but I’m not ready.

    “I can’t, Catherine. I’m sorry,” I tell her, then walk away.

    Before I know it, I’m on the road and speeding to nowhere. I just need to drive, clear my head.

    She’s right. I won’t quit.


    I’m leaning against her car when she exits the lab.

    I’m not sure how I ended up back here, but here I am. I swallow hard when she looks up and finally sees me. Her approach slows as she searches out her keys in her purse. I push myself off her car and say meekly, “Hey, Catherine.”

    “Something come up in the case? Did Finn’s brother arrive early?” she asks. Her tone is cold. Ouch.

    I take a deep breath. “No, Catherine. I wanted to apologize for earlier. I shouldn’t have just walked away like that.”

    “I wouldn’t worry about it, Detective,” Catherine says, her voice almost too sweet. “Walking away is something you seem to be very good at, so no need to apologize. You did quite well.”

    “Hey, I don’t need this, okay?” I tell her angrily. “You wanted to know what was wrong with me and I’m here. I’m beginning to see that was a mistake.”

    I go to walk by her, but her hand presses firmly into my chest to stop me. I do stop. I stand there, hands balled into fists, a scowl on my face.

    I suddenly become aware of how close our bodies are, the warmth from her hand seeping through my dress shirt. My senses are hyper aware, picking up scents of shampoo and lingering perfume. How sad is it that she is the first woman to touch me in years? I don’t mean sexually or anything. I just mean, physically touch me with a purpose, with conviction.

    “Tony,” she finally says, her voice very low and regretful. She looks at me. “I do want to help, if I can. It took a lot of courage for you to come back.”

    She backs away from me and I wish she would hold me up just a little bit longer. I wish I had the courage she spoke of. She’s mistaken to think I’m brave. I’m not brave.

    “Are you busy?” I ask, looking up at her now. “I’d feel more comfortable talking somewhere else.”

    “Sure,” she says with a small smile. “Want me to drive?”

    I nod. I climb into her vehicle and wait.

    I wait for the unknown.

    to be continued. . .
  8. ladyhunter

    ladyhunter Head of the Swing Shift

    May 5, 2006
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    I love how she pushes him, you know she would :D

    Good job edog
    Can't wait for more
  9. edog

    edog Lab Technician

    May 5, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Disclaimer: Not mine.
    Warnings: Darker than previous chapters.

    Part Four: I never told anyone else.

    Her house is everything a house should be.

    It’s comfortable. It looks like people live here. A far cry from my one bedroom apartment. All of my walls are bare, coated in average off-white paint. Nearly every surface in her house has a photo of someone, whether it be her, her mother or her daughter. I even notice some of a dark haired man. Must be her ex.

    I had heard very little about Eddie, but I knew enough to know he was a jerk. His death was infamous around the department because of his affiliation with Catherine. The pictures of him signal she still has a soft spot for him. He did father her only child.

    “Coffee?” she asks.

    “Yeah, thanks,” I say back, walking toward the kitchen slowly. My eyes catch a photograph of her with her mother. I unconsciously pick it up to admire it. The photo doesn’t do Catherine justice. It doesn’t capture the soft glow of her hair, nor the twinkle in her eyes. Still, she’s stunning. I’d be blind not to see that.

    “A girl’s night out,” Catherine explains, walking over. She gently takes the photo from my hands to look herself. She’s smiling.

    “Had a good time, I take it,” I say.

    “Oh, God, no. Worst night of my life!” Catherine says, her laugh throaty and full-bodied.

    I have to look at her curiously, but she offers up no reason. No story as to why that night was so bad. She just puts the picture back and suggests the coffee again. I follow her to the table and take a seat.

    She sets a mug before me, before sitting down. I sip the coffee. She waits patiently for me to start.

    I take a deep breath. “Catherine?”

    She looks up from her mug.

    I point at my shoulder. The words grind against the roof of my mouth as I confess, “It’s still there.”

    She looks at where I’m pointing, at the shoulder. I think she understands, but she blinks her eyes several times as if blinking away an illusion. “What’s still there?”

    “The bullet is still there,” I explain. I grip my shoulder tightly, my eyes stinging from the pain. “Twelve years ago, my first arrest as a Detective and I got shot. The bullet wedged itself between a rock and a hard place. It’s still there.”

    Catherine’s hand grasps her mug tightly now. “You couldn’t get it removed?”

    I look away, my mind wandering back in time. “I had lost a lot of blood at the scene. By the time a doctor saw me, going in to remove it would’ve resulted in more blood loss and my blood type is rare. It took a while to replace what I had lost and that was before surgery. After about a week of just lying in a half-awake state, I was told there were other risks of going in to get it. Severing nerves, rendering my shoulder useless, that kind of thing. Like I said, the bullet wedged itself between a rock and a hard place.”

    “And now?” she asks dully.

    “Now, it’s a piece of me. Bone has formed around it, keeping it there,” I tell her, a sardonic grin on my face. I push the coffee away and admit, “Coffee makes me sick to my stomach anymore. Actually, I get sick quite often now.”

    It only takes Catherine a few seconds to understand. She whispers, “Lead poisoning.”

    “Just enough to make me vomit once every few weeks,” I tell her, a trite chuckle escaping my lips. “After twelve years of having a bullet lodged in my body, it was to be expected. It’s not lethal, but my doctor is recommending medication now.”

    “And this is why you won’t talk to Sofia,” she deduces.

    “No, Sofia doesn’t know. I couldn’t tell her. She just assumed the doctors got it out,” I say sadly. “I didn’t have the heart to tell her. She’s been such a big help and I didn’t want to give her more to worry about.”

    “She’s worried now,” Catherine points out. “You haven’t given her any reason to stop worrying now.”

    “No, I guess I haven’t,” I say, leaning back in my chair. We’re silent now.

    Catherine’s the only one who knows the bullet is still lodged within me now. The only one who knows. I never told anyone else. I felt compelled to tell her. Don’t know why, but I did. I’m glad she knows, though. It feels good knowing that someone else knows about me. I don’t have to keep this secret alone anymore.

    “What else happened?” she asks softly.

    I look at her again. She’s perceptive. I really hate CSIs sometimes.

    So, I feign ignorance and say, “What do you mean?”

    “You left Vegas, Tony. You just left,” she says, shaking her head. “You left and came back without telling anyone. What else happened?”

    “I was on medical leave. . .,” I begin.

    “No, that’s not it. What happened to you?” she asks again, her voice persistent, almost desperate to know. “Something made you leave. What was it?”

    What happened to me? Does she really want to know? Do I really want to burden her with that truth?

    “Catherine, I’m just a guy, you know? I made mistakes, I still do,” I tell her. “I’m not sure what else you want me to say here.”

    Catherine looks like she might give up on me, but she just shrugs and requests, “Just be honest. If not for your friends’ sake, then your own. Be honest for yourself.”

    Honest for me? Be honest with myself.

    I stand suddenly and ask, “Where’s your bathroom?”

    She stands with me, her expression confused. “Uh, down this way.”

    “Take me there,” I ask humbly. I tentatively hold out my hand so she can lead me there. She takes it, pulling gently so I’ll follow her.

    I’m not sure what I’m doing, but I’m doing it. I’m letting it all out now, I guess. Just letting it all go. . .

    We stand at the sink and I slowly undo the buttons of my shirt. My hands shake as I do this because I’m going to show her my pain. Aside from my doctors, no one has seen it. She needs to see it, though. She won’t understand if I don’t show her. I let my shirt fall to the floor leaving behind an undershirt, then I look in the mirror. I meet her eyes in the glass, then turn to face her.

    “I want to show you why I left,” I say, my voice so low, I’m not sure she hears me. I see her nod. I pull the undershirt over my head, my chest fully exposed. I see her eyes widen ever so slightly as she sees my scars. Yes, I said scars. There’s more than the one.

    Her hand reaches up doubtfully. It feels like ages, but finally her fingertips graze the bullet wound. I shiver some, partly due to her touch and a lot to do with the cold air surrounding me. I’m so cold all of a sudden. My breath hitches when her fingers trail down to the second set of scars below the bullet wound.

    I finally look at her face and see her eyes tearing up. She looks up at me because she gets it now. She knows what I did. Her voice wavers some, but she tries very much to remain calm. She talks it out, like most investigators would.

    “It looks like a cut. A jagged knife of some kind, judging by the roughness of the line.”

    Next her fingertips graze smaller cuts around the larger scar. She breathes in deeply and continues, “Erratic cutting. Quick. Hasty. The first cut had purpose, it dragged along the collarbone. The other cuts are small, the angle awkward. A downward motion might indicate self-infliction. . .”

    “It was a steak knife,” I tell her quietly.

    A tear escapes from somewhere, rolling slowly down her cheek. I want to cry too because I made her cry. I didn’t want to make her to cry, but I didn’t know how else to do this. She continues to trace the scars, finally saying what I’ve been hiding for the last year.

    “You tried to cut it out yourself, didn’t you?”

    I reluctantly nod. Yes, I tried to cut out the damn thing. I wanted it gone. I drank a lot of whiskey and I grabbed a knife. I cut at myself, I tried desperately to remove the bullet that ailed me. That was the reason I had an emergency trip to the hospital, showing up days later at the station with my arm in a sling. That was the reason I told Sofia I would call her, then didn’t. That was the reason I just left and didn’t look back.

    I was ashamed because of what I tried to do to myself.

    “Tony, I don’t understand,” Catherine says honestly. I like that she’s honest. “Why?”

    “When I started vomiting, I knew I had to do something,” I say, trying to keep myself from crying. The last time I cried, I jabbed myself with a knife. The last time I cried, I was rushed to a hospital, put on a suicide watch. I look in the mirror again.

    “The medical leave,” she says aloud. She doesn’t finish her thought.

    My lips start to quiver now. I’m going to cry again. I’m such a wimp.

    “My superiors put me on medical leave so I could see a departmental shrink. They were willing to give me a second try, but only if the shrink cleared me. I was. . .stubborn, stupid. I left Vegas for a while because I was ashamed.”

    “But you came back. You saw the therapist,” Catherine guesses correctly.

    I nod. I furrow my brow, frustration setting in. “For 12 years, I bit my lip and fought through it. There were days, I didn’t feel it there. Days where I was in top form and my shoulder didn’t hurt at all. Then there were other days. . .When I started vomiting, I had to do something. The stupid thing about it all was I nearly caused more damage than what the bullet was already doing to me. I wasn’t making anything better, not like I thought I could.”

    Now her hand turns my face to look at her. She cups my chin, making sure my attention is on her. She says with a raspy voice filled with tears, “Tony, I need to know something. Okay? You have to be honest with me.”

    “Okay,” I say, making sure to stay focused on her.

    “Promise you won’t do this again,” she says sternly. She lets my chin go to brush a hand over the scars once more. “Promise you won’t hurt yourself again, okay?”

    “Never,” I say. “I’ll never do that again.”

    “You have to say ‘I promise’, Tony. Say it,” she says sternly, wiping a few tears from her face. She sniffles some.

    “I. . .I promise. I promise I won’t.”

    The look of sadness in her eyes finally breaks me. My legs start to weaken and I reach out to grab her shoulders. I need to steady myself. I need support.

    “Tony, let it out, sweetheart,” she coos. I didn’t want to cry. The last time I cried, I stabbed myself. She repeats, “Let it out.”

    I have her permission. I release a sound that’s somewhere between a cry and a strangled groan. Something within me feels different now that I have allowed myself to feel. Catherine told me it was okay to feel, to cry. It’s okay to cry.

    “God. . .I didn’t want to hurt myself. I didn’t want to be useless,” I say aloud, my skin tainted with my tears and my shame. I slowly lower myself to the floor until I’m at her feet and I see nothing but lavender floor tiles. My body shakes as I repeat, “I just didn’t want to be useless.”

    Catherine lowers herself to the floor next to me. She makes me lean my back up against the wall. She sits next to me, then pulls me into her arms. She whispers, “You’re not useless, Tony. You’re human.”

    Moments later, I find that my head is resting on her lap, her fingers in my hair. I have curled myself up on the floor and I’m exhausted. I’m not young anymore. Young men can cry on occasion. They can curl up in a woman’s arms, whether she be mother, sister, girlfriend or wife. Men my age shouldn’t cry. They don’t cry. They should keep a stiff upper lip. They should be the support.

    It’s just, being that support has become such a burden. It never occurred to me that it might actually feel good to be something other than strong. That it might actually be a good thing to let someone else care for me.

    I whisper, “I’m so tired, Catherine.”

    She continues to massage my head and tells me, “Then sleep. Just go to sleep.”

    She tells me to sleep and I do.

    To be continued. . .
  10. ladyhunter

    ladyhunter Head of the Swing Shift

    May 5, 2006
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    I love it!!!
    that is really deep, briliant and a good insight into Tony

    good job !
  11. edog

    edog Lab Technician

    May 5, 2006
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    Author's Notes: Here's the next part!

    Part Five: I feel really, really stupid right now.

    I meander through the halls of the lab looking for Catherine.

    I woke up in her bed. I was confused at first, trust me, but my shirt was back on. I wasn’t naked. My jacket was draped over the arm of a nearby chair. It was safe to say I didn’t make an ass of myself. I didn’t try anything foolish like trying to kiss her or something. I still don’t understand why I keep looking back on this morning like I got drunk the night before.

    Well, maybe I was drunk. Drunk with bottled up memories and unshed tears. When I let it out, I just let it all out. I finally told someone my secret. What I tried to do. Why I left Vegas and didn’t want to come back.

    My biggest fear was rejection, I can admit to that now. I didn’t want the person I told to just reject me, tell me I was stupid. Catherine didn’t do that. She cried with me. I fell asleep and she took care of me. I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to repay her.

    I rolled out of her bed, then proceeded to straighten up the sheets (it was the least I could do). As I did this, I noticed a strand of golden hair on my sleeve. Her hair. I was in her bed after all, I guess it made sense. I slowly removed the hair then let it drop somewhere back on the sheets.

    She left a note on my jacket, giving me a taxi cab service number and informing me that she had to take her daughter to a school function. She would see me at the lab.

    So here I was, meandering through the halls looking for her. I guess I want to say thanks although I’m not too sure how I’m going to do that. I feel awkward and unsure. When she told me to sleep, I did sleep. I slept without reservation. It was the best sleep I had gotten in years. So why do I feel so strange?

    I round a corner and see her talking to Nick. I cringe involuntarily. Seriously, Nick irks me. I don’t even know why, but he just does. I approach them. “Stokes. Willows.”

    They turn to me. Nick offers up a small smile, but he’s careful to say next to nothing. Catherine does speak to me, though. She smiles shyly, “You doing okay?”

    I half smile back. “I’m good.”

    Nick jumps in now. “Doc Robbins just closed our case.”

    “He did?” I say, a tad confused.

    “The wound was self-inflicted,” Nick clarifies. “Robert Finn killed himself. There was gun shot residue on his hands.”

    “We didn’t find a gun,” I say.

    “Yeah, we did,” Catherine corrects me.

    I frown. “You found the gun without me?”

    “We took Brass with us,” Catherine says, her voice bordering caution. She knows I’m upset. I wish she had just woken me up, given me a call, anything. This is my case too.

    I know she was just looking out for me, though. She knew I needed to sleep more than I needed to work. I guess I can let this go. For now.

    “So, how’d you find it?” I say, unable to keep from sighing.

    Catherine continues on, “Hodges came across the number of Finn’s girlfriend in the address book. Nicky and I checked out her place and found a .22 sitting on the table, in plain sight. We were able to lift some prints which led us to her. She said she went out there with him. She watched him die.”

    “We didn’t believe her, so we did a GSR test on her hands. It was positive. Suddenly, her story changed. They both held the gun together,” Nick says, rubbing his eyes. “We don’t know who pulled the trigger. For all we know, she killed him in a struggle.”

    “But the evidence primarily points to an assisted suicide,” I say, shaking my head. “Look, Finn’s brother will be in town later this morning . . .”

    Nick nods. “I’ll break the news to him.”

    Nick leaves us. I’m sorely disappointed with how the case has turned out. My gut tells me Robert Finn was murdered. This girlfriend has to be lying.

    “Hey, if we find out anything else, I’ll call,” Catherine promises. She must’ve noticed the look on my face. “I don’t like it either, but we’ll probably have to close this case as is.”

    I look at Catherine, a sudden bashfulness rising within me. I look around, just to make sure we have a shred of privacy, then say to her, “Thank you.”

    “It’s okay. If she’s guilty of murder, we’ll nail her.”

    I smile, “No. I mean, yes. Thanks for that, but I was talking about this morning. Thanks for this morning.”

    “Oh. Any time,” she says, her smile bashful as well. Good. I’m not the only one feeling unsure here. She repeats, “Really, any time.”

    I rock on my feet for a moment, before saying, “I better go.”

    “Yeah, I’ll see you around, I’m sure,” she smiles at me. “Take care, Tony.”

    “Okay,” I say. She’s walking to her office now and I stand there, watching her. I watch her walk away and the last thing I want is her walking away from me. Over the course of a very long day, I’ve grown dependent on her reassuring voice, her protective hugs. I’m dependent on her relentless need to figure out the truth. She pushed and she got the truth out of me.

    In a split second, my decision is made. I walk quickly to catch up to her, just before she enters her office. “Catherine, wait a minute.”

    She turns around, a bit surprised to see I’m still behind her. “What’s up?”

    “When you said any time, you meant any time? Any time at all?” I ask. I feel stupid. I feel really, really stupid right now.

    She chuckles uneasily, not sure what to make of my question. “Yeah, any time. Whenever.”

    “Well, after shift is over . . .When we get off work, would you like to grab a bite to eat?” I say, feeling uncertain and rock-steady all at the same time.

    Her eyes twinkle then. My heart flutters. My heart never flutters.

    “After shift,” she nods. “I’ll see you then.”

    I smile. “Great. See you then.”

    I leave her standing in the doorway, watching me walk away. By the time I’m in the parking lot, I’m practically sprinting to my car. I’m tingling. Why am I tingling?

    Well, maybe because I just asked Catherine Willows out. I just asked her out on a date, sort of. She said yes. I asked and she said yes.

    God, I feel stupid.


    I sit at my desk. It’s another slow night. Scooping out the room, I notice Sofia’s empty desk. She must be out with Brass or at the lab. I check my watch again. The end of shift is hours away. That means breakfast with Catherine is also hours away. I most definitely don’t wanna be hanging around this place fretting over this date that’s not even a real date. It’s just breakfast. I don’t wanna fret.

    I look at my cell phone. There are other things I could be doing tonight. I just got news on Simon and his whereabouts. I’ve been wanting to check it out. I press the SEND button and wait. It takes a few rings, but she finally does answer.


    “Sofia? It’s Tony.”

    “Tony, hey. What’s up?” She’s surprised to hear from me. I don’t blame her.

    I smile into the phone, “You know how I said I would call you? I’m calling.”

    Sofia chuckles, then scolds lightly, “Tony, you promised to make this call a year ago. Don’t you think it’s a little late?”

    “Better late then never,” I say.

    An hour later, we’re sitting on a street corner. My police scanner buzzes softly, the night sky above my car is endless and vast. I’m so at peace and I don’t even know why. I didn’t expect to feel this way. Not here, not now.

    Simon’s new place is small, just like the house he had before. Quaint, a house that exudes safety and familiarity. What is it about Simon Young that seems so pure on the surface? He’s a murderer. He’s a ruthless murderer.

    Well, no. I keep forgetting. I get angry and I forget. Simon had a partner, a second shooter. Simon was the conspirator, not the killer. The killer was a man by the name of Kevin Elin. Kevin killed those two young girls, murders that Simon was blamed for. Kevin fired the shotgun that killed Daryl. Kevin shot me in the shoulder. Kevin is still serving his time. Simon is out on parole.

    How could I be more pissed off at the man who never touched a gun? Kevin should be on my most wanted list, but no. I’m fixated on Simon, I always have been. Maybe it’s because Kevin fits the profile of a killer. Reading that guy’s rap sheet, I expected that kind of behavior from him, but not from Simon. I guess I can’t understand how Simon got wrapped up in all of this. He was my first lead. I found his home. It was all. His house, his plan, his partner. Daryl died on his lawn. I inherited a bullet to the shoulder while he watched on.

    It was all Simon.

    “When you called, I thought we were going to get coffee,” Sofia jokes, sitting next to me.

    I look at her for the first time since we arrived. I had been so engulfed in Simon, I forgot she was even here. The car is dark, but the street lights give off just enough light, though. Enough light so I can see she is smirking at me.

    “I needed you here,” I tell her. “I need a rational head here.”

    “I’m glad you called me,” she says sincerely.

    I return my gaze to Simon’s house. He has a big bay window. I see him sitting on a chair, watching television. He lives alone. He’s free to be a civilian again.

    “So, what’s up with you and Catherine?” Sofia asks, really, just out of the blue.

    For the moment, I forget about Simon. I say as calmly as possible, “Huh?”

    “Don’t play dumb. Some people at the lab saw you get into an argument near the restrooms. Others said you got in her car, so what’s going on? You went to her house? What happened?”

    I try not to smile too wide, because I do find it funny that I’m a topic for the rumor mill. Me, a coward Detective who couldn’t face his own demons. Me, a man who had too much pride to ask for help. Now I’m part of a rumor circulating around the lab. A rumor about Catherine and I.

    “We talked over coffee.”

    Sofia isn’t convinced. “That’s it? That’s all you have to say? You, Tony Vartann, leave with Catherine Willows (who is arguably one of the more attractive and most available women at the lab), you got in her car, went to her house and just talked over coffee?”

    “That’s it,” I tell her.

    Sofia scoffs. “I don’t believe that for a minute.”

    I would reply, but my eyes are on Simon’s house again.

    Simon got up from his chair. He’s not in my sight for a moment, but he returns with a beer can in hand. He just went to get a drink. He’s going to get drunk. Feeling guilty, Simon?

    We’re silent again as we watch the house. I think Sofia senses I won’t go into details about my time at Catherine’s house, so she lets it go (thank goodness).

    “What are you waiting for, Tony?” Sofia asks instead, her eyes on Simon also. “What did you want out of this?”

    “I don’t know,” I say. It’s true. I’m not sure what I’m waiting for. Simon is just sitting there. He seems so normal.

    “I wanted to kill him,” I say quietly.

    Sofia looks at me now. “Wanted?”

    I look at her. “I wanted to. Past tense. He did his time. I can’t let him control my life anymore. I can’t let this control me anymore.”

    Now she’s confused. “You can’t let what control you anymore?”

    “The bullet,” I say. I start up the car. “We’re leaving.”

    I saw Simon, I saw his house and I had no desire to see him face to face. I thought when I found him I would want to see him, talk to him. Maybe even punch him, but I don’t want that. I really don’t want that. I don’t want to see him at all anymore.

    I drive out of the neighborhood, leaving Simon Young behind for good.

    “Tony, what bullet? Stop being vague,” she pushes.

    I look at her. “We need to talk. I want to talk, really talk this time.”

    “Okay,” she says.

    We drive. I tell her about the bullet, that it’s still in me. I confess that I tried to cut it out and that’s why I never called her. I was embarrassed. I didn’t want her to think I was weak. I didn’t want to confess how stupid I was. I promised to her that I wasn’t suicidal.

    Confessing my sins is easier this time around. I don’t feel like crying about it and I don’t feel sorry for myself. Sofia just listens. She’s good at that, I realize. She’s always been around to listen. I just never took advantage.

    We drive and drive and I tell her everything I didn’t tell her before. This will sound really cliche, but I feel better about everything now.

    When we stop at a red-light somewhere, she pats my leg and says nothing. She doesn’t need to. I know we’re okay now.

    When we’re back at the precinct, we walk back toward the main doors. The rising sun in the distance reminds me that our shift is nearly over. I have to pick up Catherine. I’m taking her out. Unfortunately, I still have no clue as to where I’m taking her yet.

    “Sofia,” I say. We walk inside and head straight for the lockers. “I need to ask you a question.”

    “What’s up?” she says, removing her coat.

    I look around. We’ve got about as much privacy as one can get in a locker room. I lean against the metal doors and say quietly, “Know any good restaurants around here that serve breakfast?”

    Sofia’s eyes light up. I roll my eyes. She grins uncontrollably. “Something did happen at her house, didn’t it? You’re taking her out.”

    “It’s not like that. Would you just stop it already. I’m asking you as a friend now,” I plead. “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing anymore.”

    Sofia puts her jacket in her locker, trying very hard to control her giddiness. It’s not working. She shuts her locker and shrugs, “Do you cook?”

    I look at her confused. “A little. Why?”

    “Take her to your place. Nothing more romantic than cooking for her,” Sofia advises.

    I frown. “I told you. Not a date. I just wanted to. . .I don’t know what I want. Do you really think I should cook for her?”

    I’m rambling. Sofia is grinning. I feel really stupid.

    To be continued. . .
  12. ladyhunter

    ladyhunter Head of the Swing Shift

    May 5, 2006
    Likes Received:
    aaawww he should cook for her
    that would be so sweet :)

    Good job!
    can't wait for more :)
  13. MrsWillows

    MrsWillows Rookie

    Jul 31, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Great Story. Please you should update very soon!
  14. edog

    edog Lab Technician

    May 5, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Author's Notes: Updating. =) Thanks for the comments!

    Part Six: I should call the whole thing off.

    This is stupid.

    I’m 43 years old. Too old to be acting this way. Why did I even ask her to breakfast? Oh, hey, thanks Cath for letting me cry myself to sleep in your bed. Wanna go out?

    I shake my head again in aggravation. I should call the whole thing off.

    I check my watch again because despite my misgivings, the anticipation is too great. Even if I don’t take her out, I still want to see her. I really want to see her and this is something I haven’t felt in quite a long time.

    I suppress a groan. My stomach is acting up. Again.

    My head is swimming a little. I’m feeling sick. Really sick. Only problem is, I can’t tell if it’s because of nerves or because of the lead bullet in my shoulder. I shut my eyes, praying that the world will stop spinning long enough for me to think rationally. I most certainly don’t need this right now. How could I possibly entertain the notion of. . .of. . .

    Well. I’m not sure what it is that I’m doing. Do I want to classify this as a date? Will she consider this a date? I groan again. This is stupid.

    “Tony, sorry I’m late,” Catherine says to me. When did she get here?

    I push myself off the car, but stumble forward. I catch myself before I fall.

    “Tony?” she says softly, her hand reaching out to hold my arm. “You okay? Were you waiting long?”

    “Waiting long?” I repeat. I think back on the last ten minutes of fretting, then lie, “No, I wasn’t waiting long.”

    She smiles. “Good.”

    I nod, then feel that churning sensation in my stomach again. Not now, please not now. My mouth quivers as I try to control the bile rising ever so slightly up my throat. I’m afraid to speak. If I open my mouth, I may just vomit all over the place. A wave of vertigo hits me and I use the car to support myself.

    I look at Catherine and she’s clearly worried now. She helps me stand straight again. Her voice is low as she says, “Tony. You lied about the bullet, didn’t you?”

    Listen up kids. This is why you shouldn’t befriend CSIs. They assume a lot. In most cases, they make assumptions about you. Usually, those assumptions are correct.

    “Lied?” I repeat dumbly. I’m so tired all of a sudden.

    “You lied about the severity of the poisoning, didn’t you?” she clarifies. I don’t respond. I don’t want to because she’s right. I did lie. I lied to her again and I really wish I hadn’t. I didn’t have to lie to her, I realize this now. Her eyes don’t hide her disappointment in me and I feel ashamed.

    She grasps onto my arms, afraid I’ll just tip over. “Tony, listen to me. Tell me the truth. How bad is it?”

    My knees are buckling a bit and I begin to slide down the car. Soon enough, my ass meets the concrete. She kneels next to me and places a hand against my forehead. Checking for a fever, I’m sure.

    I cough and embarrassingly enough, bile dribbles down my chin. I’m trying so hard not to puke all over the place. Catherine has whipped out her cell phone at this point and has dialed 911. She forces one of my eyelids to open wider, checking my pupils, I suppose.

    “This is Catherine Willows. I have an officer down. . .”

    “I wasn’t shot, Catherine. Well, at least not recently.”

    I can’t help but joke, but the look in her eyes tells me she’s not amused. I’m coughing again and spitting up some more on my shirt. This is really embarrassing. I refuse to vomit anymore, I just can’t.

    “Detective Tony Vartann is vomiting and his pupils are dilated. He’s suffering from lead poisoning and I need a bus right away. . .”

    “Catherine, really. I’m okay. I’ll get over it,” I tell her, but I know that it’s bad this time. It’s never been this bad before. My next thought is that I won’t be able to cook her breakfast this morning.

    I hear her snap the cell phone shut. A bus will be here, but most importantly, I’m glad that she’s here with me now.

    She asks again, “How bad is it, Tony?”

    “It’s not lethal,” I promise.

    “How bad?” she pushes, her tone shaky and angry.

    “I was given a prescription six months ago. I never took it,” I tell her, letting my eyes close. I just want to sleep.

    “Oh God, Tony,” Catherine whispers. I feel her tap my cheeks lightly and my eyes open again. “Stay awake until they get here, Tony. Talk to me. If you pass out, I want to be able to tell them everything.”

    “My doctor gave me something to bind to the metal, to flush it out,” I tell her, my voice getting weaker. “I just didn’t take it. I couldn’t get myself to take it.”


    “I. . .wish I could tell you,” I mumble. My eyes flutter closed again.

    There are sirens in the distance. They’ll be here soon to take me away. Catherine taps my cheek again and my eyes open. I look at her. She remarks sullenly, “If I didn’t know any better, Tony, I’d say you really do have a death wish.”

    No. I don’t want to die. I don’t want that, do I?

    Moments later, my eyes are open again. I’m floating. I see her walking along side me. Then suddenly I’m in a box. It’s the ambulance. There’s an IV drip in my arm. They’re sedating me. I’m going to pass out soon. I still see her next to me as we ride. I shakily raise my hand, my palm open. I feel her hand slide into mine before my eyes close again.


    Well, this certainly isn’t like the movies.

    I wake up to find no one is taking vigil by my bedside. I’m alone. Completely and utterly alone.

    It’s clear to me now that I’m the bit player in this film. The character that shows up only when he’s needed, does his one thing that moves the plot forward, then just as quickly as he appeared, he vanishes. Yeah, I’m that guy.

    I’m the guy who showed up for work one day and couldn’t handle the consequences of his actions. I’m the guy who left his home, as if that would cure the ache and erase the self-inflicted pain. I’m the guy who came back, the guy who foolishly thought that maybe home was where he needed to be. The guy who tricked himself into believing that he could get his old life back.

    The door to my room opens and I begin to think that maybe this movie called My Life is gonna turn around. It’s only the nurse, though. It’s not Sofia or Brass. It’s not Catherine. Just a nurse.

    “You’re awake, Detective. Good,” the nurse greets me. I see her check my vitals, before she starts telling me what happened. I already know what happened. I didn’t take my meds and it landed me here.

    “The doctor will be in shortly to discuss a procedure on controlling the lead in your bloodstream,” she says.

    “Okay,” I say, even though I already know the procedure. I don’t want it. The nurse leaves and I’m alone again.

    I shut my eyes, but the door opens a second time. What I see walk through that door is better than any movie I’ve ever seen. Sofia walks in first, her relief evident. She’s got a vase full of flowers in her hands and a small smile in place. Catherine follows her. Then Brass, Nick, Sara. I feel my chest tighten up, not only because they are here, but because more follow. Greg. I barely know Greg! What the hell is he doing here? Warrick and Grissom too. Most, if not all, the night shift crew is here. I don’t deserve this.

    Sofia places a hand on my good shoulder, squeezing gently, “Hey you. They wouldn’t let us in until you woke up.”

    “You waited?” I ask, looking at them all.

    “As soon as we heard, we all came by,” Nick explains to me. “Most of us have been here all day.”

    “I know what it’s like to wake up from something like this,” Brass talks to me next. He’s looking more vulnerable now than I’ve ever seen him. He gestures toward the group and half smiles, “It’s nice to wake up to something like this.”

    I look out at the earnest faces and I have to agree. Yeah. This is nice. It’s more than nice.

    Greg approaches next, grasping my hand in his. He winks at me. “I never got to shake your hand.”

    I squint at him. “For what?”

    “For giving Ecklie that missing corpse case a year ago. I was too busy playing with exploding toilets at the time. To have seen Ecklie’s face when he found that body sitting on the bench!” He glances at Grissom and shakes his head, “Of all the times for you not to have a camera!”

    Grissom quirks an eyebrow at that statement. A classic Grissom response, if I do say so myself.

    “Toilets?” I repeat, confused. I do, however, feel a sense of flattery by the comment. Even if it is from Greg and quite frankly, the kid is weird. I don’t think anyone can deny that.

    Sara smirks, “The toilets. Different case. We’ll tell you about it sometime.”

    I nod, as Sara also gives my hand a squeeze and wishes me well. Warrick walks over and does the same. Grissom, Nick, Catherine, Brass, Sofia. They all make contact with me in some form or another. They all pass on their words of encouragement and hope. It’s now I have to wonder, what the hell was I doing running away from this? I had a family here. A family I wasn’t aware of until today.

    Slowly, they trickle out. Duty calls and I’d be damned to keep them from their jobs. They’re good people. They are really good people.

    Sofia and Catherine linger, but ultimately, they tell me they have to go too. Sofia leans down and kisses my forehead. She looks me in the eye and practically orders, “You do as the doctor says from now on, Tony. I refuse to buy you more flowers.”

    “Noted,” I grin slightly. She leaves and that turns my focus to Catherine. I swallow hard before apologizing, “I’m sorry I lied. Again.”

    “Don’t worry about it, Tony. Just take care of yourself,” Catherine says to me, her smile sad.

    “I’ve been trying to,” I say.

    Catherine shrugs, then suggests, “Well, try harder.”

    “Yes ma’am,” I reply playfully. I would salute too, if I weren’t so tired. Although, I’m sure she wouldn’t take too kindly to that gesture. She nods her goodbye, but I stop her. She needs to know that I really wanted to spend time with her today.

    “Hey. I was going to cook for you this morning.”

    She looks over her shoulder at me, her smile brighter. Her eyes squinting curiously. “Really? You cook?”

    Sheepishly, I say, “Not really. A little. Honestly, I’m horrible. I don’t cook.”

    Her expression is thoughtful, her cheeks a slight pink. Her voice is almost challenging when she says, “Well, I’ll just have to take a raincheck on that breakfast then.”

    “Raincheck,” I say.

    Her eyes flash with something that might be misconstrued as desire and it leaves me wanting. She’s out the door before I can think on that look any longer. I glance around the room and sigh.

    I miss her already.

    to be continued. . .
  15. MrsWillows

    MrsWillows Rookie

    Jul 31, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Please, meabe not this time, but you have to write a chapter with the cooking scene, that'd be fantastic.
    Update soon, this is really good.

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