When the President Calls

chapter 8

Friday December 28th, 2007
Las Vegas, Nevada
LVPD Crime Lab
Outside the Men's Restroom
9:49 p.m.

Grissom had said he wanted proof that Agent Gina Toscano was indeed Sara Sidle and Greg was determined to provide it to him. There was something about both Agent Toscano and Agent Garrison that had seemed familiar to him but what it was he couldn’t quite figure out, that was until he was watching the news on CNN before his shift that night that if finally came to him. He knew that Agent Garrison who was now guarding Nick was his way of getting the proof he needed that Agent Toscano was indeed Sara so that’s where he decided to start. After a quick call to Archie, he had met the AV tech at the lab early and they had set to work.

It was just luck that Greg happened to come across Jen alone in the hall, with Nick nowhere in sight. He didn’t feel like confronting Jen with what he had in front of his colleague.

“Is there a reason you’re standing outside the men’s room?” Greg asked stopping a foot away from where Jen was standing.

“Because Mr. Stokes is inside,” Jen said flatly, not even really looking at Greg as she answered.

“Agent Toscano,” Greg said as he bounced on the balls of his feet.

That garnered a look from Jen, a look that promised a painful death at that, “What about her?” she asked once more turning her gaze away from Greg.

“She’s Sara, isn’t she,” Greg pressed.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Jen replied, no hint of the ‘oh shit’ thoughts running through her mind, in her voice.

“The name Toscano threw me at first, but I knew I’d seen both of you before, I just didn’t know where. Not until this afternoon at least,” Greg said.

“What are you talking about?” asked Jen, putting a hint of boredom in her voice and praying Nick would hurry up so she would have a reason to get away from the man in front of her.

“That’s you,” Greg said handing her a piece of paper. “And that’s Virginia Toscano Peters sitting next to you.”

Jen couldn’t believe what she was looking at. It was a print out of a newspaper article that had run in the Washington Post the day after she and Sara had had to bury their husbands. All the pain she had felt that day flooded through Jen once more as she looked at the paper in her hand, and before she knew it she had grabbed Greg by the shirt and slammed him up against the wall, dropping the paper from her hand, just as Nick opened the door.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” snarled Jen as she started cutting off Greg’s oxygen supply.

“Would someone mind telling me what’s going on?” asked Nick in concern as he watched Greg start to turn blue. “Jen, it’s okay, you can let him go,” he said, putting his hand on Jen’s arm trying to get her to release Greg.

Greg wasn’t prepared for Jen to just step back, removing all her weight from him and letting him fall to the floor. “Get up,” she ordered before turning to face Nick. “Grissom’s office, take me there, now,” she instructed coldly before turning back to Greg who was still slumped on the floor and hauling him to his feet before shoving him in the direction that Nick was now walking. None of them noticed as Jim stepped around the corner behind them, nor did they see him pick up the piece of paper that Jen had dropped earlier.

As they reached Grissom’s office, Jen practically forced Greg through the door with a good healthy shove before turning to Nick. “In,” she ordered, following Nick into the room, closing the door behind her. “Sit,” she said as she strode past, Nick doing as he was told, before slamming her hands down on Grissom’s desk, fighting with everything she had to hold her emotions in check. “What the hell kind of operation are you running here, Dr. Grissom? Is there a reason why your CSIs have so much time on their hands that they are sticking their noses in places that they do not belong when Zoey Bartlett’s attackers are still on the loose?”

“Agent Garrison?” Grissom began raising his eyebrows. “What exactly are you talking about?”

“I want an explanation, Dr. Grissom, about why your CSI was digging into my past,” demanded Jen angrily.

“Which CSI?” Grissom countered glancing at the two men in turn.

“Mr. Stokes has been kind enough to refrain from invading my privacy, unlike Mr. Sanders over here,” Jen snarled. “I want to know what right he has to dig up information on me and my past; information that is really rather painful and quite frankly none of his damn business.

Grissom frowned before looking between her and Greg. “Greg?” he asked, hoping for some further explanation of just what had her so angry and what exactly Greg had done.

“Your CSI has decided that digging into my past, and by extension Agent Toscano’s past, will help him prove his ridiculous theory,” snapped Jen before Greg could answer.

“Theory?” Grissom began glancing back at Greg before sighing. “Oh...” he continued when he realized just what she was speaking about. “I'm terribly sorry Agent Garrison, I will speak with CSI Sanders about this, you can be assured of that.”

“Thank you Dr. Grissom,” Jen said turning towards Greg. “Make sure you make it clear to him that if he continues digging in to my past, he won’t enjoy what I will do to him.

“There's no need for threats, Agent Garrison,” Grissom countered carefully.

“That’s not a threat Dr. Grissom,” Jen said turning back to face Gil for a moment before she turned and left the office, leaving Nick where he sat, which told him that she was now standing just outside the door.

“Maybe I should just leave the two of you alone,” commented Nick rather uncomfortably. “You got an assignment for me, Boss?”

“Actually the Sheriff ordered night shift home for the duration of this shift, and to try and stay out of the lab until start of next shift. They don't like us working forty-eight hours straight,” Grissom smiled slightly. “Have a good night, Nick.”

“You mean you’re sending me home with her…like that?” asked Nick, a note of concern in his voice.

“Well, unless you can convince her to go out first, I suspect you're going to have no choice,” Grissom shrugged lightly, sending an apologetic look to Nick.

“Thanks a lot man,” Nick said, throwing a glare at Greg as he stood. “Night, Boss,” he said before turning and leaving the room.

Jen strode out of Grissom’s office, the door closing behind her as she collapsed back against the wall. It took a lot to rattle her, that was something she had taken pride in, that she didn’t get rattled in the most stressful of situations and yet Greg Sanders had managed to do just that with a simple picture, a picture that had reopened an old and still painful wound. She had worked so hard to build up the walls around her heart after Mike died and now she felt as if she was being crushed under each and every one of the bricks used to erect those walls as she felt them crumbling around her.

“Lieutenant Garrison?”

At hearing her name, Jen slowly lifted her gaze, wiping her eyes in the process. “Detective?”

“Is everything alright?” Jim asked in concern.

“Its fine,” Jen said, not sure if she was trying to convince the skeptical detective in front of her or herself.

“Are you sure?” Jim asked.

“I’m sure,” reassured Jen with a small forced smile.

“So what brings you by?” Jim pressed curiously just as the door to Grissom’s office opened and Nick stepped out.

“Hey Jim,” Nick greeted as he stopped next to where Jen had straightened up.

“Hey Nick,” Jim greeted in reply.

“Looks like we got the night off so why don’t we go and get a drink or something,” Nick said turning to Jen, noticing her tear streaked face but opting not to say anything at the moment.

“Mind if we just head back to your place? Your colleague’s little stunt just now has really thrown me for a loop and I think I’d just like to be alone for a bit if that’s alright,” Jen said quietly, not really looking at Nick.

“No problem,” Nick said quietly, rubbing Jen’s arm soothingly. “See ya, Jim,” he said before turning and leading Jen from the lab.

“Bye Nick,” Jim said as he watched the two walk away before turning and stepping into Grissom’s office, knocking on the door as he entered. “Gil, Greg,” Jim greeted with a nod to both men before turning his attention back to Grissom. “What’s the deal with Nick and Lieutenant Garrison?” he asked curiously.

“Lieutenant Garrison?” Grissom repeated with a frown, “I assume you're referring to Agent Garrison?”

“Agent?” asked Jim in confusion. “She told me the other day she was a Navy Lieutenant.”

“She may have been one, but she is now an agent with the Secret Service,” Grissom explained. “As you know Nigel Crane has escaped and has been stalking Nick once more. The Secret Service offered Agent Garrison for his protection while they are here with Mr. and Mrs. Young.”

“Wait a minute here, Gil. Nick is being guarded by an agent of the US Secret Service that was in town protecting the former President’s daughter? How exactly did that happen?” questioned Jim.

“I'm not exactly sure myself, Jim,” Grissom admitted. “One minute I was arguing with Agent Toscano about Nick being sent to work the perimeter because of Crane, the next the Sheriff was informing me that Agent Garrison had been assigned to protect Nick. With everything that has been going on, I haven't quite had the chance to find out just how it happened.”

“I see,” replied Jim, deciding that this was something he might want to dig deeper into, especially after witnessing the scene outside Grissom’s office and finding the photo on the floor earlier where Jen had dropped it before entering the office.

“Was there anything else, Jim?” Grissom asked after a moment. “If not, I need to make the rounds and make sure everyone knows we have to be out of here in five minutes.”

“No, there was nothing else,” Jim nodded before turning to leave the room, only to have Catherine in his way.

“Sorry to interrupt, but if you didn't have any plans for after work...we actually have some...”

Friday December 28th, 2007
Las Vegas, Nevada
Inside Nick Stokes’ Vehicle
10:11 p.m.

Jen sat staring out the passenger window as Nick navigated the Tahoe through the streets of Vegas towards his home, Nick not pressing her for details and she not offering them. After pulling into the driveway, Jen did her usual sweep of the house to make sure that everything was secure, making a quick call to check in. Once done she turned and started making her way towards the back bedroom.

“Jen wait,” Nick called out just as she reached the door, causing her to stop in her tracks.

“What?” Jen asked shakily, knowing that she couldn’t hold the tears back for much longer.

“I’m sorry,” Nick said as he gently turned her around and pulled her into his arms as the tears started falling. Nick slowly led Jen over to the couch and carefully sat down, pulling her down with him, and never once breaking his hold on her as she was overcome with tears. Nick sat there offering Jen silent comfort as she cried, eventually crying herself to sleep. Once he was sure she was sleeping peacefully, he picked her up from where she lay on the couch, careful not to wake her, and carried her into the bedroom where he changed her into her pajamas and got her settled under the blankets. After a moment’s thought, he pulled off his shirt and shoes and carefully climbed in behind Jen and pulled her close, offering her comfort as she slept.

Friday December 28th, 2007
Las Vegas, Nevada
The Venetian Hotel and Casino
Garrison/Peters Suite
10:19 p.m.

“Who is it?” Sara called automatically reaching for her gun when she heard the knock at the door.

“Catherine,” came the unexpected answer and Sara sighed, returning her firearm under her pillow where she kept it at night before walking to the door.

“Hello,” she greeted when she opened the door, leaving the chain intact. “Can I help you with something?”

“Actually yes, in about ten minutes, the rest of the gang will be here, minus Nick seeing as your agent won’t let him out of his house.”

“And I’m going to be helping you with that how?” Sara countered. “And my agent as you put it is being smart, she can protect him better if she’s not escorting him all over town more than necessary. Less chance for Crane to get to him.”

Catherine rolled her eyes before sighing. “Okay sure, look we need to talk.”

“About what?” Sara asked with a sugary smile. She knew full well what this was about, but at the same time, she didn’t care. She was tired, hadn’t slept since the night before everything happened and running on coffee grinds currently…she was stressed beyond belief and didn’t need pissed off CSIs coming and demanding answers at this point in time.

“About what happened when you up and left here. Look you can let me in now or you can just wait until everyone is here and have all of us camped out on your doorstep knocking every five minutes until you let us in. It’s your choice,” Catherine finished with a smirk.

Sara’s smile disappeared immediately and she glared at the older woman a moment before closing the door and undoing the chain, opening the door a second later she stepped back to let Catherine into her sitting room. “You do that again, next time I’m calling security.”

“Well, hopefully we won’t have to come bother you again, Sara,” Catherine countered with a triumphant smile.

“It’s Gina,” Sara countered as she walked back to her bedroom to grab the tea she had left on the dresser, and grab her firearm from under the pillows. Until they caught the people responsible for yesterday’s attack, she was going to keep it close at all times. When she returned, she found Catherine looking around the room. “So, how come you came earlier than the rest of your teammates?”

“Wanted a chance to talk, girl talk and all,” she answered turning to look at Sara. “Okay with you,Sara?”

Rolling her eyes Sara sat down in her favorite chair, her gun hidden by a pillow next to her hip. “Fine, call me what you want, just don’t expect me to answer you after tonight if you don’t use my real name.”

“Could have sworn Sara was your real name,” Catherine shot back.

“It wasn’t and hasn’t always been,” Sara countered as she tucked her legs under her. “So, what do you want to chit chat about, girlfriend? Oh wait, I think I know why you’re here,” she continued with a small smirk, she had heard of the events over the last years in Vegas, and the picture in Grissom’s office only proved her information to be true. “You’re concerned about Grissom. Congrats by the way, probably should have sent a card when you got engaged last year but…didn’t seem appropriate considering everything.”

“You mean the fact that you disappeared and left him with a broken heart?” Catherine asked bitterly.

“Actually, I was talking about the fact I hadn’t had contact with anyone here in Vegas for four years,” Sara shrugged. “And I wasn’t the one who walked away from whatever it was we had, he said no first.”

“Still didn’t mean he didn’t love you,” Catherine shot back.

“In all honesty, he could have fooled me, and did. But you know, it wasn’t meant to be,” Sara shrugged. “The two of you are great for each other…”

Catherine snorted before rolling her eyes once more. “Look Sara, woman to woman, I don’t want you hurting him again. It took years to get him over you the first time.”

“What are you really afraid of Cath? That I’m going to hurt him? Or that he might choose me over you?” Sara challenged as she picked up her tea. “Because you know, I have no intention of hurting him, and I doubt he would pick me over you. You’re worrying over nothing, that man doesn’t give his heart lightly; you and I both know that. And he plans to marry you, that isn’t going to change just because I walked back into Vegas for a few weeks. Besides, I found my Aladdin.”

“Aladdin?” Catherine repeated with a frown before there was a knock at the door.

“Wait…” Sara spoke up, reaching for her gun once more. “Who is it?” she called.

“Me, Boss,” came a reply that had Sara shaking her head before rising and walking to the door.

“Pete, you’re nuts, you know that?” she asked after opening the door.

“Yup,” he grinned back at her. “Just wanted to give you an update, Jack’s got the FBI working perimeter and I’m taking hallways.”

“Didn’t I tell you to do that earlier?” Sara countered with a smile.

“Yeah, but you don’t know that Jen called, she didn’t want to wake you in case you were actually getting some sleep. She and her subject are in for the night. Saw your light on and knew you were up so…” he shrugged.

“Thanks Pete,” Sara smiled before spotting the group coming up the hallway.

“Want me to get rid of them?” he asked when he turned to follow what had caught her attention.

“Nah, one of their own is already here so…”

“Boss lady, you need sleep.”

“You’ve been talking to my mother-in-law again?” Sara asked with a frown.

“No, Zoey. Regardless though, I’ll be passing by here again in about two hours, they still here then, I’ll escort them out.”

“Pete…” Sara began.

“Boss lady, you really want to deal with Zo and Charlie in the morning when she sees the circles under your eyes and finds out they were here keeping you up from me, due to the fact I can’t lie to her?”

“Fair enough,” Sara sighed. “Get back to work, Michaels.”

“Yes ma’am,” he gave a two-finger salute reminiscent of Al on Home Improvement so many years before, before turning and heading back down the hallway.

“Hello gentlemen,” Sara greeted the group before moving out of the way. “By all means, come in. Though one does have to wonder…doesn’t the lot of you normally work at night?”

“We got the night off after being on this case since it was called in,” Jim shrugged as he took a seat, Warrick and Greg grabbing the second couch as Grissom joined Catherine on the other one.

“Hmm, here I thought I was the only one who was working non-stop for nearly fifty-hours,” Sara gave as she returned to her chair. “So, any particular reason for this late night visit and keeping me from getting my much needed sleep? Especially seeing as I don’t believe I ever did verify your belief that I was Sara.”

“Already proved that,” Greg began before getting a look from both Grissom and Brass that shut him up, though he did send a confused look back at Jim. “And come on, do we need one besides the sudden return of a long lost woman we used to know only to find out how she’s got a completely different name among other things?” Greg continued.

“Figured as much,” Sara sighed. “Well, since I have already been informed you all are not going to leave until I hear you out, would you like something to drink? Eat? All that lovely stuff that a hostess is supposed to do?”

“I see your sarcasm hasn’t gone away, Cookie,” Jim chuckled as everyone shook their heads.

“I’m exhausted, stressed, pissed, and brain fried; being cordial isn’t at the top of my ‘to do list’,” Sara countered as she picked up her tea once more, debating spiking it with some vodka.

“At least she’s honest,” Greg laughed.

“You have no idea,” Sara smirked. “So, I’m here, awake for the most part and not having the lot of you removed from the premises, lets disperse with the pleasantries and you can get on with your interrogation, that this visit is no doubt for.”

“You’d really have us removed from the premises?” Greg repeated surprised.

“Don’t press your luck,” Sara countered evenly.

“Whoa, Sara went and got all strict, agent persona,” Greg remarked and Sara somehow managed to keep from banging her head against the back of her chair. Was it too much to ask for a few hours of sleep when she had an investigation to continue to run in the morning?

“Alright, well, we just have some things we need to know, you know?” Warrick spoke up.

“Such as?”

“What happened?” Warrick continued before Catherine jumped and gave a slight shriek. Everyone turned to look at her before Sara turned in her chair to spot a lap blanket moving across the room.

“Fawkes,” Sara sighed as she untucked her legs and got up to cross the room and pick up the blanket, the bird underneath glaring at her. “You know, you really don’t need to be by me to sleep, bird,” she continued shaking her head as she knelt down to let him climb up on her arm.

“Good God, I thought there was a rat or something under there,” Catherine shook her head.

“No, just a bird,” Sara smiled as she sat back down, Fawkes climbing up to sit on the top of the chair as she got comfortable, draping the blanket over her lap, before Fawkes climbed down to lay on her lap on his back.

“Macaw?” Warrick asked as Sara automatically reached down to brush her fingers along the back of Fawkes’ head, and his eyes closed.

“Scarlet Macaw, he’s four,” Sara explained with a smile. “But, you wanted to know what happened, is there any particular time you’re asking about?”

“Well, the most logical would be you’re being at work one night, then gone the next,” Grissom spoke up for the first time.

“Well, quite simply put, you don’t say no to the President of the United States of America,” Sara shrugged.


Sara smiled slightly at Greg’s response. “I received a call from President Bartlet during the night, you don’t tell the President no when he requests that you come to D.C. I was asked; I went. End of story.”

“Wait, not end of story,” Greg argued before anyone else could. “Why was Bartlet calling you in the first place? And that still doesn’t explain why you didn’t…oh I don’t know, leave an explanation of where you were going and why, or even came back or kept in contact.”

Sara raised one eyebrow before reaching over to pick up her tea. “Jed called me because Zoey had been kidnapped for the second time, as I’m sure you all remember. He wanted me to run the investigation. I didn’t tell you because it would raise too many questions and I also figured in all honesty the lot of you were not going to care if I was gone or not. I didn’t come back after Zoey was rescued due to the fact she asked me to stay, and the fact I figured by then all of you were probably quite happy to see me gone and had already found my replacement, so why bother in the first place when it wasn’t like I had a job to come back to.”

“Why would you think that?” Jim asked with a frown.

“Why wouldn’t I?” she countered glancing over at him.

“Because we were your friends,” Catherine offered as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, before frowning when Sara began to chuckle. “What’s so funny?”

Shaking her head Sara set her tea aside once more. “We were never friends, Catherine; we were co-workers, nothing more.”

“What is that suppose to mean?” Catherine demanded.

Sara glanced across the room as she thought before looking back at them, “Friends know things about each other, and they care enough to ask things. None of you ever took the time to get to know me, I was Sara Sidle, that chick who got too involved in rape and domestic abuse cases, the woman who never seemed to sleep, who people would even forget was in the room sometimes. That lady on nightshift who followed Grissom around like a lost puppy dog. Occasionally someone would speak up, act concerned about me, but for the most part…I was just another person in the lab to everyone.”

“That’s not true…” Greg spoke up first.

“Isn’t it?” Sara countered with a shrug. “What’s my favorite color? When’s my birthday? What do you know about my family? Or how I celebrate holidays? I bet you can only answer one of those questions and that’s because it was on the lab calendar when my birthday was,” she continued with another shrug.

“You have a brother,” Grissom spoke up after a moment.

“She does?” Greg and Catherine echoed.

“Yes, she mentioned him once after a case…” he explained.

“And in that, my point is proven,” Sara smiled sadly. “You never asked about him again, never wondered anything about him other than the fact I had told on him once when I found pot under his bed. And no one else even knew he existed.”

“Sara…maybe we didn’t know about your brother, but we still knew you…” Catherine argued.

“No, you didn’t,” Sara answered with a sigh.

“Yes, we did,” Catherine shot back and Sara reached her breaking point in that moment.

“Alright, fine. You say you knew me…” she began, a hard edge to her voice that had Greg glancing at Warrick and Jim in concern. “Did you know that I have a brother and twin sister? Of course he’s been dead twenty-two years and she’s been dead twenty-seven so I suppose it doesn’t matter, now does it? Oh I know, did you know that the first time I ever celebrated Christmas, did the whole tree, gift exchange…had a freakin’ stocking, was only four years ago? It’s interesting really, this woman I had known only through work about eight minutes told me the day I arrived in D.C. I was going to stay with her rather than a hotel, and then she dragged me to Virginia when she went to meet her husband and brother when their ship came in. Then she, her brother, her husband, her mother and her father all told me that I was going to spend Christmas with them pretty much if they had to tie me up and drag my butt back to Virginia. Got my first Disney movie that Christmas too. Oh here’s one, did you know I never knew what Disney was? Here I was flying to Disney World with the Bartlet family, and there’s this kid in coach going up and down the aisle singing the Mickey Mouse Club song…I had no idea what the hell he was singing. Then I made the comment asking what was the big deal about an amusement park. You ever see twenty people turn and stare at you like you’ve been living under a rock all your life? It’s pretty damn unnerving wouldn’t you know,” Sara paused to shake her head. “You think you know me, but you don’t. If you did, you’d know that my mother stabbed my father to death when I was twelve-years-old. Three years after my father pushed my twin sister down the stairs resulting in her death just because for the first time in our lives she spoke up and told him to stop when he had already broken my brother’s collarbone and pulled his arm out of its socket, thrown my mother against the doorframe leaving her unconscious, broken my ankle and wrist, and was in the process of preparing to rape me.” Looking away Sara sighed already pissed at herself for opening her mouth. Moving Fawkes she rose and crossed the room to the door, opening it she turned to look at them. “I’d like all of you to leave now.”

“Sara…” Grissom began.

“My name is Gina,” Sara countered evenly. “And in a matter of weeks I will be going home when this investigation is through, to my friends and family. Now, I would like you to leave, I have an investigation to run in the morning and members of a terrorist organization to find. I don’t have time for walks down memory lane. I’m sorry but that’s just the way it is.”

For a moment she didn’t think they were going to leave, but finally they rose and one by one left the room, until only Warrick and Jim were left. Glancing at them she raised an eyebrow.

“We should have asked Cookie, I’m sorry about that,” Jim sighed. “We were idiots.”

“Maybe you were, maybe you weren’t. It’s in the past and it’s going to stay that way. I’ll be gone in a matter of weeks at the most; hopefully it won’t take that long to catch these guys, as it is. When I am, all of you can forget the things I said and get on with your lives,” Sara sighed as she leaned against the door.

“We’re never going to forget, Gina,” Warrick countered gently. “We haven’t forgotten you in four years, we aren’t going to forget you now after seeing you again,” he added before she shook her head.

“You’d be better off, my husband was haunted by dreams of what he imagined my life to have been like before I met him. You all see enough in this work, you don’t need to imagine what happened to a person who you knew as well,” Sara sighed before taking a deep breath. “Goodnight Jim, Warrick.”

“Goodnight Cookie,” Jim countered before leaving the room, Warrick sending her a sad smile before following after him.

Closing the door Sara leaned back on it before sliding to the ground. “I think I just made our lives a living hell Fawkes,” she whispered as the bird joined her. “Oh God…Jen is going to freak when she finds out about this…”

Wednesday January 1st, 2008
Las Vegas, Nevada
Galaxy Karaoke
9:08 p.m.

After Jen nearly killed Greg, or could have, and Sara was confronted by those in Vegas, everything really picked up steam. Sleep became a rather long lost friend as the search for those behind the attack on Zoey and Charlie intensified. In the end though, as seemed to be a rather lucky tradition, the people behind it were rather stupid and within three days of the conversation in Sara and Jen's room they had a location on the suspects. The first day of 2008, Sara and her team, minus Jen, led a raid on the home. They saw Zoey and Charlie off on a plane bound for Honolulu at seven, followed by finalizing reports and sending them with Pete and Jack back to D.C. on a plane leaving McCarran at half past after eight.

Free of them, and officially no longer working for the Secret Service as soon as she informed Jen she was no longer on duty, Sara happily moved her things to another room in the Venetian and then headed towards Nick's house. When she arrived, Nick had been the one to suggest they go out and get a drink. To celebrate the New Year that no one had a chance to enjoy. Sighing, Sara and Jen had exchanged glances before giving in. Sara at least was seriously in need of a good drink. And Jen was in desperate need of getting away from Nick, if it meant one more hour at a bar, then she'd do it.

Spending so much time with Nick over the past week had opened Jen up to feelings she hadn’t felt since before Mike was killed, and it frightened her, the fact that she had felt so comfortable in his arms. She was eager to get back to D.C. and put the events of the past week behind her. Leave Nick and everything that he represented behind her and return to her life. She hadn’t told anyone yet but she had decided to take Leo up on his offer to head up his Vice Presidential detail and was eager to get back to work, where she could lose herself in what she was doing, not who she was with.

Nick had been the one to choose the place, Sara not recognizing the name from her years in Vegas, and quickly learned why. It was a Karaoke bar that had opened after she left. When they had walked into the bar, Jen and Sara exchanged a glance, their minds both flashing back to the last time they were in a place like this with their husbands. Shaking her head Sara had linked arms with Jen and smiled slightly. “One hour, then we’re home free sis.”

“Thank God for that,” muttered Jen as she let Sara lead her to the table Nick was walking over to.

“So help me, he suggests singing and I'll slip some arsenic into his beer though,” Sara shot back under her breath, grinning for a moment. Jen couldn’t stop the giggle that escaped at Sara’s comment as they seated themselves at a table.

“All right you two, what’s so funny?” asked Nick as they settled into their seats.

“Nothing,” Sara smiled. “Just so you know, an agent from the local bureau will be at the lab at the end of shift,” she added before it was forgotten.

“So you’re reallyleaving me then?” Nick asked.

“I am,” replied Jen quietly, not sure if that was actually a note of disappointment she heard in Nick’s voice.

“Yes, I'm stealing her back,” Sara spoke up hoping to break the tension.

“Actually Gina, you’re not, Leo is,” Jen said, not really making eye contact with either one as their waitress showed up to take their orders.

Sara glanced over at her sister surprised before nodding. Placing her order she smiled at Jen as the waitress walked away. “Leo is going to have to realize that we want you home at least one day a week. I'm not going to be the one to tell the girls where their favorite aunt has disappeared to,” she teased. “But it's about time he realized that he needed the best.”

“Leo? As in Leo McGarry? As in Vice President Leo McGarry?” asked Nick in confusion.

“That would be the one,” Sara nodded as the waitress returned. “Great man; and a hell of a friend to have.”

“Wow,” Nick said in surprise. “And I suddenly feel so inadequate.”

Sara chuckled before picking up her Daiquiri. “Don't, we're in two completely different lines of work. You're at the top of your field; we're at the top of ours.”

“I’ll say,” Nick chuckled. “So, is it true? What the others said about you?”

Sara exchanged a look with Jen before turning back to him. “What exactly are they saying?”

“That you really are Sara Sidle,” Nick said, not quite sure how she was going to react.

“Here I was thinking they might have been saying a whole lot more,” Sara mused before taking a sip of her drink.

“I think they were,” commented Jen glancing quickly at Nick before returning her attention to her drink. “They seemed to go strangely quiet whenever we entered the room. I don’t think they wanted to talk about it in front of me after I took out that guy Hodges and nearly killed Sanders.”

“Ah, well smart people...I kinda didn't tell you the extent of that conversation,” Sara sighed. “Let's just say those lovely members of his team managed to break my last straw and I told them the cliff notes version of what you, Mike, and John found out that night at Disney World...” she explained cryptically.

“Oh,” replied Jen.

“Yeah,” Sara sighed. “They were probably having a much more involved conversation before you showed up. And all the more reason I am counting down the hours until you and I are on a plane headed home. No offence to your city and hospitality of course Nicky,” she added looking at him. “Then again...I may start truly despising this city very soon...” she groaned and closed her eyes.

“Gina?” Jen asked in concern while Nick followed Sara’s gaze to the front door.

“I didn’t tell them anything, Gina, I swear,” Nick said quickly turning back around. “I have no idea how they found out we were here.”

“Oh, I believe you,” Sara sighed opening her eyes and watching as the group consisting of Greg, Catherine, Warrick, Grissom and Jim crossed the room towards them. “I swear that woman has some sort of homing beacon for me,” she muttered.

“Why are they even here?” asked Jen curiously. “They’ve done nothing but avoid me like the plague for a week.”

“One last chance to try and get the crap beat out of them?” Sara suggested with a slight shrug.

As the group slowly made their way over towards where the trio was sitting, Nick quickly jumped to his feet, hoping to block the other two from view as much as possible as he started towards the approaching group. “What are you all doing here?” he asked.

“Greg saw your car when he drove by and called us. We thought you might be here unwinding before work since the circus left town, and wanted to come see you,” Catherine explained.

“You really shouldn’t have bothered man,” Nick said, throwing a glare at Greg.

“Hey, don’t shoot the messenger,” Greg held up his hands, “We just wanted to see how you were doing Nicky…”

“It’s called a phone, Greg,” snapped Nick in irritation.

“Boy, you must be in serious need of a drink or something,” Greg sighed in response.

“Well, did you ever think I might prefer to have that drink alone?” countered Nick angrily.

“But you’re not having it alone,” Catherine pointed out, nodding over his shoulder at the two women at the table.

“Figured they would have beat it out of town by now,” Greg mused.

“And what would make you think that?” asked Jen from her spot a few feet behind Nick.

“One would think you'd know never to assume anything, especially in your line of work and it being the first thing Griss teaches CSIs,” Sara added with a small smirk.

“Well, as you all can see I am not alone so you can all just run along and I’ll see you in few hours,” Nick said turning back to retake his seat at the table.

“When do you head home, Cookie?” Jim asked curious.

Raising an eyebrow, Sara glanced at Jen before looking back at Jim. “Why so curious?” she countered evenly.

“Hey, we screwed up four years ago, kinda hoping for a chance to say goodbye the second time around,” Jim shrugged.

“Bit late for that, don’t you think?” Sara answered softly before picking up her drink. “But really, don't fret; I'll be out of your hair before too long. Few weeks you probably won't look back on this as much more than a blip on the map.” Nick threw a confused glance at Jen as he retook his seat, Jen merely shrugging in response.

“Didn’t we already establish this that night, that we aren’t going to forget seeing you again that easily?” Warrick asked softly, a bit of hurt creeping into his voice.

“You did say that,” Sara nodded, “Still doesn’t change the fact that you’re best off forgetting everything that happened that night. Course I know that’s not gong to happen. But I’m not going to let my conscience be plagued by guilt for the sleepless nights you will have. Regardless though, sooner the five of you forget about this, sooner you’ll probably get some halfway decent sleep.”

Nick looked between Sara and the others before silently holding his hand out towards Jen, who took it gratefully, leading her silently out onto the dance floor. As soon as they reached the dance floor, the music changed to a slower number, and after a rather tense few seconds, Jen slowly stepped into Nick’s arms.

“Have a seat,” Sara offered while signaling the waitress. “Some of you look like you need a drink more than I do. And considering how badly I needed mine,” Sara mused before turning her attention out to the two on the dance floor.

“They look pretty close,” Jim commented after he was seated next to her, waiting until the others had turned their attention to the waitress.

Sara glanced at him before returning to her sister. “You don't look as concerned as I would have thought you might,” he added after a beat.

“Jen's life is her own,” Sara offered quietly. “Why do you care, Jim?” she countered looking back at him.

“I don't want to see either of them hurt,” Jim shrugged. “You're protective of your sister, I'm protective of them.”

Sara raised an eyebrow before glancing back towards the two. “You don't need to protect everyone to make up for the one you didn't protect,” she spoke after a moment. “But it's not my place to convince you of that,” she added quickly when the others at the table turned their attention back to her.

“What exactly is going on between your friend and Nick?” asked Catherine as she watched Nick and Jen get closer, Nick leaning in to kiss Jen, only to have her step back out of his arms at the last possible second.

First, she’s my sister,” Sara countered with a look to Catherine. “Second, whatever it is, it’s between her and him.”

“Well, you’re sister is supposed to be protecting Nick and from where I’m sitting it looks like all she’s doing is setting up to hurthim,” snapped Catherine, having picked up on the silent communication between the two which she knew only happened between people who loved one another, having found it with Gil.

“And why don’t you keep your nose out of my business, Ms. Willows,” snarled Jen from behind Catherine, Nick standing just to her side.

“You know, we’re in a karaoke bar. What do you say, Sis? I need a silly break from the universe at large. Join me?” Sara asked as she pushed her chair back.

“Gladly,” replied Jen, throwing a glare in Catherine's direction before walking away.

“Back off Catherine,” Sara growled lightly. “Don't judge my sister or me. You haven't lived our lives and know nothing about us,” she warned before moving to join Jen as she looked at the song selection by the 'stage'

After flipping through the options, Sara was happily surprised to find one she recognized and meant a great deal. Giving Jen a wink, Sara picked up the microphone and made her way up on the 'stage' as the music began to play, not even looking at the screen as she began to sing. John used to sing this to her all the time.

You and I were meant for one another
Today we join our hearts eternally
And this moment I’ll always remember
All the words that mean so much to me

And you’re my only love - My only love
And I just thank the lord above for you each day
I can’t believe the way I feel
You’re so special – you’re so real
And I know you’ll always be my only love

Closing her eyes, Sara smiled softly, playing with her wedding band with her thumb. She didn’t notice Jen’s sad smile, she too knew the song. Nor did she notice the group at the table as they watched her.

Listen closely to the words I’m saying
I know I’ve never meant them more
For your love only I’ve been praying
You and I are what this love is for

And you’re my only love - My only love
And I just thank the lord above for you each day
I can’t believe the way I feel
You’re so special – you’re so real
And I know you’ll always be my only love

I know you’ll always be my only love

Opening her eyes Sara glanced at Jen before repeating the last line once more. Once the music finished, she stepped off stage, pausing to give Jen’s hand a quick squeeze, then moved away to let Jen take her turn.

Once Sara had retaken her seat, Jen programmed in the song she wanted and made her way onto the stage. She knew the song she picked would raise questions amongst the group of CSIs but she was more concerned about what her sister might think. She closed her eyes and took a deep calming breath as the music started.

There's people talking - They talk about me
They know my name - They think they know everything
But they don't know anything - About me

Give me a dance floor - Give me a dj
Play me a record - Forget what they say
Cause I need to go - Need to getaway tonight

Jen opened her eyes, glancing at first Sara then Nick, holding his gaze as she began the chorus.

I put my makeup on a Saturday night - I try and make it happen
Try to make it all right - I know I make mistakes
I'm living life day to day - It's never really easy but it's ok

Wake Up Wake Up - On a Saturday night
Could be New York - Maybe Hollywood and Vine
London, Paris maybe Tokyo
There's something going on anywhere I go
Tonight – Tonight - Yeah, tonight

The cities restless - It's all around me
People in motion - Sick of all the same routines
And they need to go - They need to get away

I put my makeup on a Saturday night - I try and make it happen
Try to make it all right - I know I make mistakes
I'm living life day to day - It's never really easy but it's ok

Wake Up Wake Up - On a Saturday night
Could be New York - Maybe Hollywood and Vine
London, Paris maybe Tokyo
There's something going on anywhere I go
Tonight – Tonight - Yeah, tonight

People all around you - Everywhere that you go
People all around you - They don't really know you
Everybody watching like it's some kind of show
Everybody's watching - They don't really know you now
(They don't really know you)
(They don't really know you)
And forever

Wake Up Wake Up - On a Saturday night
Could be New York - Maybe Hollywood and Vine
London, Paris maybe Tokyo
There's something going on anywhere I go
Tonight – Tonight - Yeah, tonight

Wake Up Wake Up - On a Saturday night
Could be New York - Maybe Hollywood and Vine
London, Paris maybe Tokyo
There's something going on anywhere I go
Tonight – Tonight - Yeah, tonight

After she finished the song, Jen put the microphone down and made her way off the stage, turning towards the ladies room instead of towards the table.

After the song, Sara waited only long enough to grab their purses before following Jen to the bathroom. Slipping inside she smiled sadly when she saw her sister leaning on the sink in front of the mirror, wiping her eyes. “Hey you,” she began softly before setting Jen's purse on the counter. “He really got to you, didn't he?” she continued as she grabbed a paper towel and ran it under the water. Ringing it out she passed it to Jen.

“Thanks,” Jen said taking the towel and wiping her face with it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said looking at Sara in the mirror.

“John had the exact same look in his eyes when he was trying to keep something from me,” Sara smiled before turning to lean back against the counter so she faced Jen. “It's okay, you know...”

“No, it’s not,” replied Jen quietly, not really looking at Sara.

“Hey, I'm not going to judge you or anything, Sis,” Sara countered gently. “I don't need to; you're doing a good enough job being pissed at yourself, as it is.” Grabbing a dry paper towel she passed it to Jen as well. “What do you say? Wanna slip out the back door? Escape the interrogation squad. The place I stored my stuff is twenty-four hour, we can make a quick stop there I'll grab the little bit of stuff I want, and then we can hit the hotel long enough to check out and be on our way to the airport by eleven...eleven-thirty max.”

Jen nodded and followed Sara from the ladies room, only to stop just outside the door when she heard someone call her, turning around she was not too happy with just who that person was. With a glance at Sara, Jen stepped over to where Jim was standing. “Detective,” she greeted quietly.

“I want you out of Vegas and away from Nick Stokes as quickly as possible,” Jim said, handing her a piece of paper. “You’re damaged goods Sweetheart and Nick deserves better than that,” he said turning and walking away, leaving Jen standing where she was as he made his way back over to the table.

Jen looked down at the paper Jim had just handed her and came face to face with the article that Greg had pulled up a week earlier. As hard as she tried she couldn’t hold back the small sob that escaped her as her head fell into her hands.

Frowning Sara quickly made her way over to her sister. “Jen?” she asked as she reached up to rub Jen's back. “What is it?”

“Can we go please?” pleaded Jen quietly through her tears as she handed Sara the piece of paper.

Glancing down at the article, Sara's sucked in a quick breath. “Okay sis, why don't you go to the car and I'll meet you there out front, okay?” she handed Jen the keys. “I'm going to pay for our drinks.”

Jen nodded taking the keys from Sara and quickly making her way out of the bar, sticking to the shadows as far away from the table full of CSIs as possible.

Sara watched her go before turning and heading towards the table where the others were. “Jim, come help me get a second round,” she began and he looked at her questioningly before rising and following her to the bar. “What you just did, that’s it, Jim,” she hissed while they waited for the bartender. “You had no right bringing that up and having that article. I don’t care where you got it or why you had it. You were apologetic for what happened when I was here last time...that has nothing on this. You and yours better keep away from Jen and I after today. I won't be responsible for my actions,” she added before dropping the money on the counter that would cover Jen's and her drinks. “Oh and Nick's in your hands until morning, an FBI agent will meet him at the lab when he gets off shift. Good luck with life Detective Brass.” Turning she left the building without a second glance, slipping into the car with Jen and they made their way across town. Less than three hours later they were on a plane bound for Dulles.

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