When the President Calls

Chapter 7

Wednesday December 26th, 2007
Las Vegas, Nevada
The Venetian Hotel and Casino
5:08 p.m.

After Michael’s death, the family, Bartlets, Alicia and Thomas, Jethro, Abby, Timothy, Ziva, and even Tony included, weren’t quite sure how to help Jen and Sara. Both women were obviously affected by the loss of their son and nephew, in a way Sara more than Jen because it made her deal with John’s death all over again. But where Sara was more emotional, Jen became closed up once more; regardless though, the weeks passed. Jackie, Shanti, and Johnny had their first birthday, and another Halloween came and went, this year found everyone at the Bartlet’s party, the three little ones dressed as munchkins with Sara as the Wicked Witch of the West and Jen as Glinda. They didn’t do the Haunted House or Maze though, instead heading home. November passed much the same; Thanksgiving in Norfolk came and went. As December began preparations for the final Bartlet wedding stepped up, and soon it was Christmas day and Zoey married Charlie. The ceremony was beautiful of course, and the reception lasted well into the night.

The next day, Zoey and Charlie flew to Las Vegas, accompanied by Sara, Jen, Pete and Jack. She had heard Sara speak of Vegas often over the years and wanted to visit, the plan to stay through New Years Eve then head on to their honeymoon in Hawaii alone and the agents would officially be relieved of their duty to Bookbag after so many years. The triplets as they began to be referred to by the family were left with Kevin and Patricia, though Fawkes did make the trip with them to Vegas, no one would watch the bird. The plan for Sara and Jen after Zoey and Charlie left for Honolulu was that she would finally take care of the things she had left in storage a lifetime ago it seemed. The time in Vegas would also give both women a chance to figure out what happened next, Jen had an offer from Leo to come run his detail, and Sara had already declined anymore work with the Service, instead debating just staying home with her three for a few months, or perhaps going back to work as a CSI.

The first full day in Vegas they did a bit of shopping, and had a quiet day for the most part, staying under the radar as it were, at least as much as possible. Sara was a bit surprised when Zoey pulled her aside and told her she wanted Jen to have the night off, and that Jen was not to argue, she’d been working non-stop without a night off since Thanksgiving. Sara had sighed before heading to find her sister-in-law to tell her that she didn’t need to accompany them to Treasure Island where they had reservations for dinner, followed by tickets to the Cirque de Soliel show, Mystère, then a planned break to see the Sirens of Treasure Island show before heading back; giving Jen quite the amount of time to be left with either nothing to do, or having hopefully some fun if she did get out of the hotel room.

As expected, Jen did not take the news well, and left the living area of their suite to slam the door to the bathroom. Sara sighed before heading back to tell Zoey Jen knew she wasn’t working. Though she left out the fact she hadn’t told Jen that it had been Zoey who gave the order. After telling Jen through the door that they were heading out, Sara, Jack, and Pete made their way from the hotel with Zoey and Charlie.

Jen could not believe that Gina pulled rank on her and forced her to take the night off. Gina knew how Jen felt about the holidays now without Mike around and yet she still forced her to take the night off instead of accompanying Zoey and Charlie to Cirque du Soliel like she had intended to. Instead, Jen found herself sitting in the North Star Lounge, a sports bar that was a few blocks from the strip.

She had finished eating her dinner, minding her own business watching the news about the craziness that was the day after Christmas sales when he sat down beside her.

“Can I buy you a drink, Pretty Lady?”

“Thanks but no,” Jen replied curtly as she signaled the bartender, who made his way over to where she was sitting. “That should cover it,” Jen said tossing some money on the bar.

“If you let me buy you a drink, Pretty Lady, I’ll cover your meal as well,” the guy sitting beside Jen said as he started caressing her arm with his hand.

“I’m fine really,” Jen said curtly removing his hand from her arm.

“I insist,” he said.

“Why don’t you just leave the lady alone,” Nick said from his spot on the corner of the bar. Jen had caught his eye earlier in the evening when she had walked in and he had been keeping an eye on her because it was not everyday a lady as pretty as she was walked into the North Star Lounge and Nick had a feeling that one of the creeps in the bar might try something with her. This was not one of the nicer establishments in Vegas and he had been surprised to see someone like Jen walk in, normally the tourists stuck to the strip.

“Why don’t you stay out of this,” the creep said turning to face Nick. When he turned back to where Jen was sitting he found the spot empty; Jen having taking the opportunity to get up while his attention had been diverted. “Fucking hell,” the creep cursed when he turned around and noticed the door to the bar swinging shut. Getting to his feet he made his way out the door after Jen.

Nick watched the guy walk out the door after Jen, figuring if the creep did not come back in after about five to ten minutes he would make his way out into the parking lot to make sure nothing was going on that shouldn’t.

“Hold it right there bitch,” the creep snarled as he grabbed Jen by the arm out in the parking lot, spinning her to face him. “You don’t just walk away from me.”

Jen had been right in the bar when she had guessed him to be about six foot, two hundred odd pounds, and he still stunk as if he’d been swimming in a pool full of beer. “Watch me,” Jen said her voice flat as she turned to step away from him, only to find herself being spun back towards him.

“You stupid little cock tease,” the creep sneered as he backhanded Jen hard across the face. He hit her so hard that he actually knocked her from his own grasp, sending her crashing to the pavement. “I’ll teach you a lesson about teasing a guy with that sweet little ass of yours,” he said as he grabbed Jen by the arm and forced her onto her back, every intention of having his way with her. “What the fuck?” he cursed, letting go of Jen’s arm and backing away.

As soon as Jen had hit the ground, her cheek feeling like she’d just been hit by a sledge hammer, she had managed to get her gun in her hand so that when the creep turned her over it was instantly pointed at his head, forcing him to back off enough to let her get to her feet, her gun trained on him the entire time.

“You ain’t got the guts, bitch,” the creep sneered.

“Try me,” replied Jen evenly as the creep started to advance towards her.

“See, told ya, you ain’t got the…fucking hell!” he cursed as Jen fired off a shot, the bullet nicking his ear.

“What was that?” asked the bartender curiously.

“Sounded like gunfire,” Nick said as he dug out his two-way radio cell phone. “Dispatch this is CSI Stokes. I’ve got a 404 at the North Star Lounge. I’ve got shots fired,” Nick said as he got up from the bar and made his way out to the bar parking lot, not quite prepared for the scene that met his eyes.

“You shot me,” the creep snarled as he once more advanced towards Jen.

“That was only a warning shot, asshole. You take one more step towards me and I’ll make sure you never see your next drink,” Jen said training her gun on the guy’s forehead, right between his eyes. She drew the hammer back when he didn’t stop advancing, which finally got him to stop in his tracks.

Just as Jen was drawing the hammer on her gun back a familiar Taurus pulled into the parking lot, Jim climbing out of the driver’s seat, Nick quickly making his way over to him. “I was three blocks away when I heard your call come in,” he explained before Nick could question him on his quick arrival.

Jim quickly took in the scene before him, drawing his own weapon and slowly advancing towards the two currently in a standoff. “Alright everyone, let’s just calm down here, shall we?” Jim said as he neared Jen, his gun trained on her.

“Tell this asshole to back away from me and I’ll be more than happy to lower my weapon, officer,” Jen said, not once taking her eyes of the creep in front of her, yet addressing Jim who was off to her side.

“You got it lady,” the creep said as he threw his arms in the air and backed away as quickly as he could, only to have Nick stop him before he could run too far.

As soon as the guy was a good ten feet away from Jen she lowered her weapon and released the hammer on her gun.

“Alright, what happened here?” Jim demanded.

“I was in there having a bite to eat, minding my own business when this creep decides to hit on me. I leave, he follows me out here, not taking no for an answer. He backhands me hard across the face,” Jen said pointing to the cut on her cheek that was caused by the guy’s ring. “I fell to the ground. He flipped me over; my guess is to rape me, which is when I drew my weapon. He still refused to leave me alone so I fired a warning shot, nicking him in the ear. He still refused to back away until you showed up a few seconds ago.”

“I see,” Jim nodded. “Well, looks like you're going to be getting a lesson in how not to treat a lady,” he added looking at the man.

The two patrolmen that arrived a few minutes after Jim walked over to the creep and escorted him over to their patrol car and helped him into the back seat.

“Okay, now about the gun, I just have to check, you have a permit for it?”

“Of course Detective,” Jen said as she pulled a small leather wallet out of her back pocket. “Navy Lieutenant First Class Jennifer Garrison,” she said handing the wallet over to Jim.

“Was in the Marines myself,” Jim smiled before giving her wallet back to her. “Well then, we're going to have to file an incident report...”

“I’m not interested in pressing charges, Detective,” Jen said as she put the wallet back in her pocket and holstered her gun.

“Are you sure?” Jim asked surprised.

“I’m sure, Detective. Besides judging by the puddle the guy was standing in, I’d say he learned his lesson about picking on defenseless women,” Jen said.

Smirking Jim nodded. “Well then, we'll drive him around a few blocks then release him. You have someone to escort you home, Ms. Garrison?”

“I’ll be fine, Detective,” Jen replied.

“I’ll look after it, Jim,” Nick said stepping forward.

“Really, you don’t have to, I’ll be fine,” Jen tried to argue.

“I insist,” Nick said.

“Well then, I'll leave you in capable hands,” Jim nodded. “Ms. Garrison, Nick,” he nodded towards each of them before heading over to talk to the officers.

“Come on, I’ll take you home,” Nick said after Jim left.

“You really don’t have to,” Jen tried again.

“It’s not a problem Ms. Garrison. This really isn’t the best neighborhood to be wandering around in after dark, even for a Navy Lieutenant,” countered Nick.

With a sigh Jen let Nick lead her over to his Tahoe and climbed in when he opened the door for her.

“So where’s home?” Nick asked as he pulled out of the driveway.

“Norfolk,” Jen said. “Are you planning to drive me all that way?” she teased.

“Okay then, what hotel are you staying at?” Nick asked with a smile.

“I’d rather not go there right now. My roommate is a light sleeper and she’ll flip if she sees me like this,” Jen said.

“Well, I don’t live far from here. We could head to my place and we can get that cut on your cheek taken care of then I can give you a lift to your hotel before I head into work,” Nick offered.

“That’s fine,” Jen said as she watched the houses pass by out the window.

It wasn’t long before Nick was leading Jen into his house. “This way,” he said leading her into his bedroom, before walking into the attached bathroom and returning with a first aid kit. “Come over here,” he instructed as he led Jen over to the bed, sitting her on the edge of it and turning the bedside lamp on so he could take a better look at the cut on Jen’s cheek. “It might be easier if you lie down facing the lamp, that way I can get at the cut easier and have better light.

Jen did as Nick said, hissing slightly as the antiseptic Nick used stung as it was applied to her cheek.

Nick cleaned Jen’s cut as carefully as he could, not wanting to cause her anymore pain than she was already feeling. Once the cut was clean, he put a layer of antibiotic cream on the cut and helped Jen sit up before putting away the first aid supplies.

“Thanks,” Jen said quietly.

“It was my pleasure since I feel partly responsible for what happened tonight,” Nick replied.

“What? Why? You had nothing to do with what happened with that creep,” countered Jen.

“I could have stepped in sooner or I could have followed him out of the bar,” argued Nick, dropping his gaze to his hands.

“Look Nick,” Jen said, reaching out her hand and placing it on his cheek, raising his gaze back to hers. “There was really nothing you could have done to change what happened tonight. If you had stopped him going after me, he would have just gone after another woman. At least now he’s going to think twice about going after someone.

“Ms. Garrison…”


“Jen, I still could have done something,” Nick said rising to his feet and walking over to the window.

Jen got up from the bed and walked over to where Nick was standing, turning him around to face her. “Nick, there is nothing you could have done. Nothing,” she said placing her finger over his mouth to silence any further arguments as she slowly closed the distance between them.

Wednesday December 26th, 2007
Las Vegas, Nevada
Stokes Residence
9:27 p.m.

The shower had woken her a few minutes earlier when it turned on. It took Jen a bit to realize exactly where she was and how she had gotten there. Not really wanting to face the man that was currently in the bathroom taking a shower, Jen took the opportunity to get dressed as quickly as she could and make her way out of the house. A quick stop in the kitchen in the hopes of finding out where exactly she was so she could call a cab, before racing out the door, cell phone in hand. The cab arrived a few minutes later, Jen hopping in and telling the cabbie to take her back to her hotel.

Wednesday December 26th, 2007
Las Vegas, Nevada
The Venetian Hotel and Casino
Garrison/Peters Suite
10:30 p.m.

Opening the door to their suite, Sara looked around and was not sure if she was surprised or not to hear Jen in the shower. Sighing she walked over to let Fawkes out of his travel cage. After dinner, and the first show, they had walked around the shops at Treasure Island until it was time for the show outside. Everything was wonderful, but at the same time, she had wanted to get back and see how Jen was. She turned when she heard the bathroom door open.

“Good Lord, Sis…are you okay?” she asked concerned when she saw the cut and forming bruise on Jen’s cheek.

“I’m fine,” replied Jen as she subconsciously pulled her hair over her cheek and dropped her gaze as she walked over to her bed.

“Jennifer Garrison, don't even try that with me,” Sara frowned as she turned to look at her.

“I’m not trying anything Gina. I’m fine,” Jen argued.

“Then why is your cheek trying to audition for the part of Figment's younger brother?”

“Because I was stupid enough to walk into the fist of a two hundred pound asshole, that’s why,” snapped Jen in irritation.

“Jen...” Sara began concerned. “Oh shit,” she cursed when they heard a scream come from next door, and a crash. Grabbing her gun she was out the door, Jen on her heels, just in time to see Pete kick in the door to Charlie and Zoey’s suite. Sara and Jen made there way inside first, finding Charlie standing in front of Zoey protectively and seeing a man in a mask standing by the window he had just broken.

“On the floor, now!” Jen ordered as Sara moved towards Charlie and Zoey, keeping her own firearm trained on the intruder.

“Don’t!” Sara yelled when they saw the man turn and leap out the window. “Damn it…”

“You guys okay?” Jen asked as she checked out the window to see the man on the ground many stories below.

“Yeah, he came out of the closet,” Charlie explained as he turned and pulled Zoey into his arms.

“He hit Charlie, that’s when I screamed. He must have figured you guys would have heard because he grabbed the chair and threw it out the window immediately after,” Zoey continued shakily.

“Okay, come on, let’s take you guys to our room and you can sit down,” Sara, catching her sister’s eye, began before Jen came over and led them to the room next door. “Alright guys, Pete check the floor and make sure it’s clear, Jack I need you to go down and keep anyone away from the body. I’ll call downstairs and talk to the manager and security then contact Ron and local Bureau to give us backup until we get more agents here.

“On it, Boss Lady,” Pete nodded before turning and heading out of the room, Jack nodded before following.

“Locals are here,” Pete announced stepping into Sara and Jen's room.

“Thanks,” Sara replied before glancing over at the couple and Jen. “I'll talk to them.”

“Gina...you sure?” Zoey asked concerned

“Come on, what are the odds any of them are still working night shift after all this time and would get assigned to this case?” Sara chuckled. “Then again, I could be wrong,” she continued when she saw the three men in the doorway.

“What are you doing here?” Nick asked suddenly from the doorway, recognizing Jen from earlier.

Sara glanced back at Jen before turning her attention to the two CSIs and Detective Vega. She'd ask Jen about it later. “Detective...” she began as she crossed the room.

“Vega, this is CSI Grissom and Stokes,” Vega replied as she shook his hand.

“Gentlemen,” Sara nodded never so thankful for the slight accent she'd picked up from her in-laws as she was now. “Why don't we head over to the actual scene to talk,” she continued seeing Grissom sending Nick confused glances.

“We're going to need to talk to everyone involved...” Vega began.

“I understand that Detective, but for the time being I'll be helping you. Agent Toscano, Secret Service, I'm the head agent for this detail,” Sara argued lightly, but her tone left little room for argument.

“Hey Pete,” Jen called to the other agent, signaling him to walk over to her. “Why don’t you stay here with Zoey and Charlie and I’ll head over to the other room with Gina,” she said.

“Sure Jen, no problem,” Pete said as Jen made her way from the room.

When Jen arrived in what had been Zoey and Charlie's suite, she was a bit surprised to find Sara arguing lightly with the older man, Grissom... “Fine,” Sara huffed a small bit. “Stokes can process this room with Agent Michaels. You can interview Mr. and Mrs. Young with myself. I have an agent down with the body until you are done with your interview of Mr. and Mrs. Young.”

“Thank you,” Grissom answered before going over to talk with Nick.

Turning, Sara spotted Jen by the doorway and headed towards her, “Hey Sis...” she began with a sigh. “Can you do me a favour?”

“Need you ask?” countered Jen. “What can I do?”

“Mr. Grissom is insisting on interviewing Zoey and Charlie, then going down to process the body. Can you just stand in the doorway here a moment while Pete and I change places, then head down to let Jack know it's going to be a little longer and make sure he hasn't killed any onlookers...God only knows why I kept that man and his blasted moods all these years...” Sara shook her head. “After that, just head back up here and hopefully we'll be able to send the CSIs on their way and even more hopefully, the agents from the Bureau will be here.”

“Not a problem,” agreed Jen. “Must take Jack his coffee and remind him to play nicely with the locals,” she smirked.

“Here here, or I'll kick his butt all the way back to D.C. and send you and Pete back on his plane ticket,” Sara smiled slightly. “God, could this have happened at a worse time?” she sighed before noticing Grissom headed their way. “See you soon,” Sara continued before turning to Grissom. “Dr. Grissom, please come with me.”

As soon as Pete came and took Sara’s place, Jen made her way from the room, stopping in the coffee shop to get Jack his coffee before heading out to give him his reminder before heading back up to the room.

“Hey,” Sara greeted when Jen entered the room. “Dr. Grissom is done with his interview. I'm going to escort him down, just heard from the local Bureau office; they should be arriving in five minutes tops.”

“Sounds good,” replied Jen.

“Oh, for the love…” Sara muttered under her breath. “Sheriff just arrived...” she continued with a sigh. “Zoey's on the phone updating Jed on the situation, why don't you go stay with her and I'll take care of the political hoop jumper,” she asked under her breath.

“Enjoy,” deadpanned Jen as she stepped past Sara and made her way over to where Zoey was standing by the window talking to her father as Sara stepped out into the hall.

“Here,” Zoey said holding the phone over to Jen.

Jen stood there for a moment with a confused look on her face before taking the phone from Zoey’s outstretched hand. “Hello?” she asked putting her ear to the phone. “Sir, that really isn’t necessary…Really Sir, I’mfine, I don’t…Sir, I don’t need…No Sir, I…Yes Sir, but…No Sir…But Sir…You’re not going to let this go, are you…But I’m fine…I don’t need…Yes Sir…Of course Sir…Yes Sir…Thank you Sir…Right away Sir,” Jen finished with a glare at Zoey before turning and making her way over towards the door still talking into the phone. “Yes Sir, as much as I need…” she said yanking the door open. “Where’s the sheriff?” she demanded shortly.

Raising an eyebrow, Sara pointed at the man next to her. “Sheriff Atwater, this is Agent Garrison.”

Rory Atwater stepped forward, his hand extended, intent on shaking Jen’s hand.

“Here, President Bartlett would like a word with you,” Jen said shoving the phone into Atwater’s hand before turning and storming back into the room, slamming both the hotel room door and the bathroom door in her wake.

“Hello Mr. President,” Atwater greeted into the phone. “Yes Sir. That’s correct, Sir. Yes, the investigator in question nearly paid with his life and it appears there may be a continued threat against it. Yes Sir. We would appreciate any help you could give us. Yes Sir, thank you, Mr. President,” he finished hanging up the phone and handing it to Sara.

“Agent Toscano, it would seem that one of your agents has been assigned to protecting one of my CSIs,” Atwater began with a smile.

“I see, well if you will excuse me for a minute, I'll make sure arrangements are made. I'm sure you want to inform your investigator about this...” Sara trailed off

“Of course,” Atwater nodded.

“Sheriff,” Sara nodded before heading into the room. Glancing at Zoey and Charlie, who pointed towards the bathroom, Sara moved to knock on the door.

Jen swung the door open before Sara could knock, striding out of the bathroom, towards the luggage racks against the wall, throwing things into her suitcase.

Glancing back at Zoey and Charlie, Sara turned to Grissom, “Dr. Grissom would you excuse us for a moment,” she began before he nodded and left the room; shutting the door behind him she turned her attention back to her sister-in-law. Fortunately now the only people in the room were the Youngs, Jen, and Sara.

“Jen? What's going on?”

“What does it look like?” snapped Jen straightening up and turning to Sara for a moment before turning back to her suitcase and throwing something else in it. “I’m packing.”

“O-kay...” Sara began glancing at Zoey and Charlie. “Can someone help me ‘cause I am beyond lost...”

“Why don’t you ask Zoey over there? Ask her about her call to her father. Ask her how she took it upon herself to see to it that I, how did he put it…dealt with my demons. Did any of you bother to stop and consider the fact that maybe…just maybe I was dealing with everything in my own way? No, of course not because everyone else knows better about what I’m feeling and how I should deal with all these emotions that are just coursing out of control through me, than I do. So, now I’m stuck here in this God forsaken city, using my skills to protect a civilian of all things when I should be going back to D.C. and doing my job. Thank you, Zoey. Thank you very much,” Jen raged, as she continued to throw things in her suitcase, before zipping it up at the end of her tirade.

Even more confused, Sara looked back at Zoey before turning her gaze to Jen once more. “Jed assigned you to protect one of Vegas' CSIs instead of working on Zoey's detail because Zoey called him?”

“Apparently I’m not dealing with Mike’s death to anyone’s satisfaction, so I’m to take the time I’m assigned to guard CSI Stokes to come to terms with the death of my husband,” snapped Jen as she lugged her suitcase towards the door, before walking over to the closet to get her coat.

“Okay,” Sara began shooting a look towards Zoey and Charlie. “Okay Sis, take a deep breath for me. I am going to talk to Jed and the Sheriff all right? Then I'm going to need to talk to you later,” she added glancing back at Zoey.

“There’s nothing to talk about Gina. It’s a done deal. You don’t argue with Jed Bartlett, you know that,” Jen said throwing her coat on before walking towards the door. “I gotta go. My new assignment starts immediately,” she said walking out the door, slamming it closed behind her.

Sara stared at the door a moment before turning to look at Zoey and Charlie, “What the hell just happened?” she asked before reaching up to rub at her temples when Zoey began her explanation. This was not turning out to be even remotely close to a good night.

Jen couldn’t believe that Zoey had done this to her. She completely understood the need for Zoey to call her dad after what had happened but to do what she did, just upset Jen even more. All Jen wanted to do was get back to D.C. and try to get on with the life the fates had handed her when they took Michael away from her and now she found herself stuck in Vegas for God only knew how long, protecting a man she barely knew and had hoped to never see again after their rather impromptu roll in the sack. She was now following Nick from the hotel, who had taken the news from Grissom about as well as Jen had, his time at the crime scene done for now, and out towards his Tahoe, where he stowed his gear in the back along with Jen’s suitcase.

“Well, are you going to stand there all day?” asked Jen as she stood next to the driver’s door of Nick’s Tahoe.

“What are you doing?” asked Nick in confusion at seeing Jen open the driver’s door but not get in.

“My job, now are you going to get in the car or not, Mr. Stokes?” countered Jen, a hint of annoyance in her voice.

“Fine,” Nick sighed as he climbed into his Tahoe, Jen closing the door behind him before making her way around to the passenger side and climbing in.

“Why did you lie to me?” asked Nick after driving in silence for a few minutes.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” replied Jen, her eyes on the passing scenery out the window.

“Why did you say you were a Navy Lieutenant when in actual fact you’re Secret Service?” Nick pressed as they stopped at a red light.

“I didn’t lie to you, Mr. Stokes. I am a Navy Lieutenant but I am also U.S. Secret Service,” Jen said glancing at Nick briefly before turning her attention back out the window.

“Well then, why didn’t you say so when Jim questioned you at the bar earlier?” Nick questioned as they pulled into the parking lot of the Las Vegas Police Department Criminalistics Bureau.

“Because having a Navy Lieutenant in town raises a hell of a lot fewer questions than having an agent of the U.S. Secret Service does and we were trying to keep our presence here as quiet as possible, for Zoey and Charlie’s sake,” Jen said as Nick turned the engine off. “Stay in the car until I come around,” Jen ordered with a glare when Nick made to get out of the car.

“You have got to be kidding me,” demanded Nick in disbelief.

“Do I look like I’m kidding?” snapped Jen in frustration. “Look, Mr. Stokes, it’s obvious that neither one of us is happy with this situation but the decision was taken out of our hands by our superiors so we’re just going to have deal with it. And part of dealing with it is letting me do my job, which is to protect you, the sooner you accept that the easier this will be for the both of us,” Jen said climbing out of the car and making her way around to Nick’s door, opening it for him.

After Nick grabbed his kit and the evidence from the back of the Tahoe, he and Jen made their way into the lab, Jen staying slightly behind and to the side of Nick the entire time.

Thursday December 27th, 2007
Las Vegas, Nevada
LVPD Crime Lab
Parking Lot
7:25 a.m.

“I understand that Jed, but in all due respect as a friend and someone who considers you family, you’re overstepping your bounds…” Sara hissed over the phone as she drove into the parking lot. “Damn it Jed, I need her on this case. She’s my best agent and we can normally communicate without even talking…Jed…Jed…God Damn it!” Sara yelled as she smacked the steering wheel of the car when he said goodbye and hung up. She was going to kill that man, she wasn’t sure how she’d get away with it, but she was going to do it.

Getting out of the car she grabbed her jacket then slammed the door behind her. Slipping it on she headed inside, flashing her badge at reception before heading towards the break room, which was as good a place to start in finding Nick and Jen as any, although she wasn’t expecting the sight that greeted her from the hallway when she neared the room.

In the break room was the entire group Sara left behind, Nick, Grissom, Catherine, Warrick, and Greg. Jen was standing off to the side keeping a watchful eye, and Hodges was there, giving results no doubt.

“Anything else?” Grissom asked when Hodges finished but still had not left.

“Just curious who she is,” he answered, “Don't tell me we're getting a new person, thought we didn't have any openings.”

“She’s not a criminalist, Hodges,” answered Nick, not looking up from the pages in front of him.

“If she's a lab tech, where's her badge?”

“She’s not a lab tech either, nor is she a police officer. Given the current situation in regards to the events surrounding Nick’s kidnapping a few years ago, it was decided that Nick should have a bodyguard. She’s it,” Grissom said.

Her?” Hodges asked skeptically. “No offence but you don't look like you can stop a teenager let alone a grown man or anything else for that matter...”

Jen merely raised an eyebrow in Hodges direction, as Nick started chuckling as he remembered how Jen had made a two hundred pound man wet his pants earlier in the evening.

“You might want to watch what you say there, Hodges,” Nick said.

“What? Like she's going to do any damage to me.”

“You might be surprised,” Nick said, the others looking between him, Jen and Hodges.

“Oh come on,” Hodges rolled his eyes.

Out of the corner of his eye, Nick saw Jen push off from the counter she had been leaning against and silently make her way over towards where Hodges was standing. Having a feeling the unsuspecting lab tech had just lit the very short fuse Jen had that night, he quickly gathered his papers and slid away from the table, catching the others by surprise judging by the looks they were suddenly throwing his way before their attention was drawn back to Jen and Hodges.

Jen had had a horrendous night and because of it her anger, which normally was buried pretty deep in her was sitting just below the surface and had a very short fuse attached to it and Hodges had just stepped on her last frayed nerve, setting her off. She silently pushed of the counter and made her way across the room, noticing Nick slide back from the table as she passed. Without saying a word, Jen stopped in front of Hodges, giving him a once over before swinging back and punching him in the jaw. Once he was off balance slightly Jen spun around so her back was to him, quickly elbowing him in the stomach and stomping on the instep of his foot. With Hodges doubling over, she spun back to face him slamming the heel of her hand into his nose before kneeing him in the groin. Before Hodges could double over in pain, Jen grabbed him by the wrist and flipped him over so that he landed hard on his back on top of the break room table, shattering it under the sudden impact of his weight. Jen crouched down next to where Hodges now lay. “Don’t you ever question my abilities again, I made a man almost twice your size piss his pants simply by staring him down along the barrel of my gun. I am trained to take on people insane enough to try to take out our President and I would be willing to take a bullet or give my life in order to protect the life of the person I’m responsible for. That person is normally the President of the United States; in this case, it’s Mr. Stokes. I would suggest you stay out of my way.”

“About time someone put that man in his place,” Sara chuckled from the doorway, finally getting the attention of everyone present.

“Wait? You know him?” Catherine asked surprised.

Sara glanced at Jen, both of them having the same mental thought ‘oh shit’. “No, just meant that after all the crap he just said, someone should have put him in his place,” she tried to back pedal only to have Greg get up and walk towards her. “Agent Toscano, lead on the case…” she continued hoping to stop him with a handshake.

As Greg shook her hand he looked closely at her face, “Oh my God!” he exclaimed after a moment. “I’d know those eyes anywhere, Sara Sidle….” He continued excitedly.

“I’m sorry…” Sara began quickly.

“Damn girl where have you been all this time,” Greg continued, everyone else in the room taking a closer look at Sara, other than Jen who was mentally wincing along with her sister.

“Good God, he’s right. Sara?” Warrick asked and Sara released a deep sigh.

“God knows I should have started wearing contacts when I found out Zoey and Charlie wanted to come to Vegas,” Sara glanced at Jen. “Alright people, back up the whatever express is going on here. You can call me Agent Toscano, simply Toscano, or if you must, Gina. Otherwise…I won’t respond to you. Right now though I have an investigation to run, so we aren’t doing this little classic movie reunion,” Sara finished glancing around the room. “Now, I need an update on your investigation, and a few minutes with my agent for an update on her assignment. Are you ready to give me an update or do you need a few minutes?”

She wasn’t surprised to see the looks of shock and then, at least in Catherine’s case, anger that she just questioned their abilities. After receiving the update, and wasn’t surprised to hear that they were doing quite well with the investigation on their end; she asked Grissom if she could use his office before heading down there with Jen.

“I tried to talk with Jed,” she began once they were enclosed in the office. “And don’t look too closely around this place. The man has an eccentric collection.”

“No kidding,” Jen shook her head when she spotted the pig fetus.

“Yeah, this is the guy I ended up staying up watching a pig decompose with,” Sara sighed. “I’m going to kill Jed when we get back, want to help me? I figure between the two of us we can dispose of all evidence…”

“You have to get me off this assignment Gina,” Jen said as she leant against Grissom’s desk.

“I tried Sis, God knows I did. I tried to get Jack assigned to it, I even offered to keep Jack and give them Pete. Hell, I even offered myself. Jed refused. Like I said, I figure we can dispose of the evidence, or your mom can help just to be sure...” Sara huffed, still pissed.

“Gina, you don’t understand. I can’t guard Ni…Mr. Stokes,” Jen argued as she ran her hands through her hair in frustration.

“Okay Sis, confess. I saw that look when Nick walked into the hotel room. You'd kinda figure if anyone had a deer in headlights look it would be me seeing as not one but three people I used to work with walked into my life. What's going on?” Sara asked as she slid into Grissom's chair, out of the corner of her eye she saw a picture on the desk, of Catherine and Grissom.

“I’ve broken the cardinal rule, Gina,” Jen said quietly, wrapping her arms around her middle.

“Sis...what happened?” Sara frowned, rising to walk over to Jen's side.

“I slept with him,” Jen said, her voice barely above a whisper. “Oh God, Gina, I don’t know what happened. I’ve just felt so dead inside…I just wanted to have someone hold me…” she said as she broke down in tears.

“Oh Honey,” Sara sighed wrapping her arms around her sister. “It's gonna be okay...”

“No Gina, it’s not,” Jen said pulling away and starting to pace. “You know what they say about getting involved with your assignment on a personal level, how it affects your judgment. How am I supposed to protect Ni…Mr. Stokes if I can’t keep things on a professional level? God Gina, I never expected to see him again after this afternoon and now I’m going to be stuck with him twenty-four seven.”

“Okay Honey, listen to me,” Sara began gently. “Whatever happened with Mr. Stokes this afternoon is not going to affect your ability to protect him. Girl you're a better agent than anyone I know, including Ron. You can protect your assignment half asleep. As for what happened, it happened, Honey. You're going to have to talk to him about it at some point, but for right now, focus on what has to happen. You have to protect him until we leave. I can't convince our bloody ex-President to let me replace you on detail, but I did inform him that when Zoey and Charlie are on that plane, as your immediate supervisor my final act will be to remove you from duty per your pre-established paperwork. Then I'll do the same thing myself. After that, I'm at the point where I'm going to go into that bloody storage shed, only grab the boxes of mementos and tell them take the rest to donation and you and I are out of this cracker stand.”

“And what happens if my assignmentto protect Mr. Stokes isn’t finished yet?”

“I will arrange a replacement through the local FBI office if need be. I can't get you out of this now, Sis, but I won't leave Vegas without you. Officially, you like me are no longer assigned to a detail the moment Zoey and Charlie board that plane. After that, Jed can't tell either of us what to do, we'll answer to Santos.”

“Just promise me that by this time next week I’ll be on a plane back to D.C.,” Jen said.

“Sis...you know I can't predict how long the investigation will take. But I'm going to do everything I can to get this taken care of immediately and in turn get both of us on a plane back home as soon as physically possible.”

Jen nodded, wiping her eyes. “We should head back,” she said turning and walking towards the door.

“Go ahead, I need to call and check in with Pete,” Sara smiled slightly. “Sis...I'm just a phone call away.”

“I know,” Jen replied quietly, not looking back before walking out the door, closing it behind her as she went, making her way back to the break room, praying that Nick hadn’t done anything stupid like leave the room. “Good you’re still here,” she said striding into the room where everyone was still gathered, minus Hodges of course who had been taken out on a stretcher. “If you’re done, I think it best if we head out of here,” she said stopping next to Nick, her arms crossed across her chest.

“No problem,” Nick replied as he rose from his seat. “I just need to grab my jacket from the locker room then we’ll be on our way.”

“Fine, lead the way,” Jen said stepping back allowing Nick to walk past her, not once even acknowledging the others in the room as she turned and followed Nick out of the break room.

Once they were both gone, everyone in the break room just looked around at each other once more. “Okay, what is her problem?” Catherine began after a moment. “She comes in here, could have killed Hodges for all we know, and all this after ignoring us... who stuck a stick up her...”

“Catherine,” Warrick spoke up stopping her before she finished that statement. “She's trained to protect the President and his family; something tells me they don't teach how to carry on a conversation when you need to keep constant surveillance 101 in training.”

“Well, did she have to nearly kill Hodges and break our table?” Catherine countered rolling her eyes.

“He did ask for it...” Greg pointed out with a shrug, “Come on though, you have to admit it was cool seeing Hodges get one in the nuts.”

“Greg,” Grissom frowned.

“Well, it was,” Greg shrugged. “I wonder how well she knows Sara...”

“What I don’t get though is why Sara won’t admit it’s her?” commented Warrick.

“How do we know it is her though?” Catherine pointed out. “She never did actually say hey, you're right; long time no see...or anything like that. All we have is Greg saying it was her and you agreeing. Personally I'm not convinced.”

“Hey! What, I'm not a good enough judge of character?” Greg demanded turning towards her. “He backs me up even and you don't believe me,” he continued shaking his head.

“It's not that Greg,” Grissom began with a sigh. “All of us have thought we've seen Sara at one time or another over the years. I don't want to just assume that this one time it could be her without more proof. We've all been wrong before. This Agent Toscano never gave any indication she recognized us or was surprised to see us when we arrived at the hotel room. One would think that if she is indeed Sara, she would have been surprised to have us walk into her world after all these years, just as surprised as we would be to have her walk into ours. Until we have further proof...I at least am not going to be able to believe it.”

“Same for me,” Catherine agreed quickly.

“Rick?” Greg asked looking over at the other man.

Warrick shrugged lightly. “I don't know man...I really just don't know what to think right now.”

“Fine!” Greg huffed before turning and leaving the room. There was something about the two Agents that was familiar and he wasn't sure what. But he was determined to find out and prove to them that itwas Sara...

Thursday December 27th, 2007
Las Vegas, Nevada
Stokes Residence
8:15 a.m.

Nick led Jen up to his front door, for a second time in twenty-four hours, the situation not lost on either of them. Jen followed Nick into the living room. “Stay here,” she instructed as she put her bag down and pulled her gun off her belt before making her way carefully through the house. A few minutes later she made her way back out to the living room, re-holstering her gun. “We have a problem,” she said stopping a few feet from Nick, her hands on her hips. “You don’t have a guest room.”

“I know,” replied Nick.

“Where exactly am I supposed to sleep?” demanded Jen.

“You’re staying here?” asked Nick in bewilderment.

“Where else am I supposed to stay?” countered Jen sarcastically.

“Your hotel maybe?” snapped Nick, no more comfortable with the current situation than Jen was.

“You mean the crime scene?” argued Jen before letting out a huge sigh, pinching the bridge of her nose as she felt a migraine settling in. “Look, Mr. Stokes…”

“Nick,” he interrupted.

“Mr. Stokes, your superiors have decided that you need twenty-four hour protection. I am the one that has been assigned to that task. Me. No one else, just me. Which means that from this point on, I will be with you twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week until either we catch the person stalking you or I somehow manage to get another agent assigned to you, which hopefully will be in about a week’s time when President Bartlett’s influence over my assignments ends and I’m under the orders of President Santos. Therefore, I will be living here with you until one of those two things happens, which means we need to figure out sleeping arrangements. Since you seem to be missing a guest room, I’ll just take the couch,” Jen said matter-of-factly.

“I’ll take the couch, you take the bedroom,” Nick said, holding up a hand before Jen could argue with him. “You said it yourself, you’re here to protect me and it won’t do to have you tired and cranky because you’ve been sleeping on the couch.

“Are you sure?” Jen asked.

“I’m sure,” Nick replied. “Let me just get something to change into and some blankets and a pillow then the bedroom’s yours,” he said making his way past Jen back towards his bedroom, emerging a few minutes later with a change of clothes and blankets and pillow.

Once Nick was back out of the bedroom, Jen made her way in with her suitcase, which she placed on the bed, images from the previous night flashing through her mind as she took her blazer off. Hearing noises from the other room, Jen made her way back out towards the living room. “Mind if I take a shower?”

“Mi casa et su casa,” Nick said with a shrug.

“What are you doing?” asked Jen curiously.

“Breakfast,” Nick said holding up a frying pan. “Pancakes?”

“Sure,” agreed Jen, a note of sadness in her voice, before turning and making her way towards the bathroom. She emerged a short while later, her blonde hair hanging wetly down her back, wearing Nick’s bathrobe. “You don’t mind do you?” Jen asked tentatively when she noticed the curious look in Nick’s eye as he set a plate of pancakes down in front of her.

“It’s not a problem,” he said getting his own plate and sitting opposite her. “Look Jen, about last night…”

“Its fine, Mr. Stokes,” replied Jen, not meeting his gaze.

“It’s alright to call me Nick, you know,” Nick reassured her.

“Mr. Stokes, what happened between us happened. There is nothing either one of us can do to change that. I’m not about to let it stand in the way of doing my job,” Jen said, her voice getting shakier with each word. “Excuse me,” she said dropping her fork on the table and bolting from the room, making her way as quickly as possible towards the bedroom, closing the door behind her and sliding down it as she was overcome with emotions she had been suppressing for far too long.

After hearing the bedroom door close, Nick heard what he thought sounded like a muffled sob come from the room. As quietly as he could he made his way over to the bedroom door, stopping next to the door, resting his hand and his forehead against it as he heard Jen crying on the other side of the door. 'What is it that haunts you so?' Nick wondered worriedly to himself as he remembered the look in Jen’s eyes from their time together the night before. It was a look that said she had demons in her past that refused to leave her alone. A look that Nick had hoped to never see in anyone else’s eyes after having seen it in his own after he was kidnapped. Hearing the anguish in Jen’s sobs, Nick decided right then that he would do whatever he had to in order to help Jen heal and banish the demons that haunted her.

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