The DNA Result
The sound of the clock that hung dutifully at the top of Catherine Willow's office door ticked loudly in her ears as she paced from one side of her office to the other, glancing out of the window of her closed door every time she passed it, looking out for that familiar someone. Letting out a huge impatient sigh she lifted a shaky hand up to a few strands of hair that had escaped from behind her ear and hastily shoved them back in place before turning to her desk. She couldn't help but stare at the seat that had been rolled violently back against one of the filing cabinets that sat behind her desk. It had been no more than fifteen minutes since her daughter had been seated there. Catherine took a deep breath, thinking back to the messy conversation that had just ensued, and fiddled nervously with one of the buttons belonging to the coat that had been placed around her moments earlier.
Catherine made her way down the corridor towards her office, excited to see Lindsay after being out of the building for over four hours at a murder scene on the other side of town. Lindsay had been repeatedly frustrated with her mother's absence at home and even more so by how tired and stressed her mother was by the time she finally was home. So Catherine had suggested that her twenty year old daughter go to work with her for the night, just to see how much she had to do every shift. To see what the causes were for her tiredness and stress. Naturally she didn't want to expose Lindsay to the stomach-wrenching, toe-curling stench of the Autopsy rooms, nor would she ever want her to witness a murder-scene first hand - especially as Catherine had no idea herself what state the body or bodies would be in when they arrived. So she had assigned Lindsay to the lab where she knew her daughter would be safe, would have her attention occupied, and Lindsay would be in the smart, protective hands of Wendy, one of the lab ladies.
Catherine stopped at the door of Wendy's lab and poked her head in expecting to see her daughter in a white lab coat with goggles on. But to her surprise the only person in the area was Wendy.
Catherine: Hey. Where's Lindsay?
Wendy looked up and pulled her goggles over her head with a smile and motioned in the direction of Catherine's office:
Wendy: Your office.
Catherine looked at her office door and noticed some movement from inside then turned back to Wendy expectantly:
CATHERINE: So…how did she do?
Wendy shot her boss a big smile and raised her eyebrows, clearly impressed:
WENDY: Good. I meanreallygood. She's a smart one I give her that. We were looking at the Whittle case…
CATHERINE: The brother/sister DNA thing? Tricky stuff…
WENDY: Yeah, well she picked things up in a heartbeat. I managed to get her to do a couple of trials herself by the end of it.
Catherine's heart warmed as she heard the compliments directed towards her daughter. She was relieved. She feared that Lindsay wouldn't have understood anything. That she would've felt as though she was thrown in the deep end. But from the sounds of things she hadn't.
WENDY: You should employ her as a trainee or something, we could use an extra hand or two.
Catherine raised her eyebrows and laughed slightly as Wendy shot her a wicked grin but she merely shook her head:
CATHERINE: Not while I'm here she wont.
Catherine stepped out of the room with a smile, proud of her daughter's progress. She continued down the corridor and approached the door of her office. She took a fleeting look to her left through an open door at her colleague Nick who sat at his desk, his brow furrowed as he looked closely at some paperwork in the light from a lamp that sat on top of his desk. His face unscrewed as he looked up to see his strawberry blonde colleague looking over at him with a small smile on her face.
NICK: You look pleased with yourself.
Catherine took the line as an invitation and proceeded into his office and stopped just before his desk.
CATHERINE: I've just got rave reviews from Wendy about Lindsay. Apparently she got on really well in the lab today.
A smile grew on Nick's face as he looked at the proud, slightly gloating look on Catherine's face.
NICK: Yeah she seemed to be doing alright from what I could see. I heard they were inspecting DNA to do with the Whittle kids.
Catherine cocked her head slightly, curious as to how Nick knew, but she didn't need to explain - he had read her like a book:
NICK: Lindsay asked me about it just before she went into your office. Something about how accurate it is or something…
Catherine raised her eyebrows as she thought about the question:
CATHERINE: Probably the most accurate way of identifying family…
NICK: …Exactly what I said.
The conversation came to an end at that and Catherine took the pause in conversation to note the strong scent of his aftershave that she always loved. It reminded her of the good old days. The days with no real status. The days when the two of them were just CSI's. No 'Supervisor' in their job titles. Nowadays the two of them had so much paperwork to do and work politics to sort out that neither of them had the time to be the way they used to be. The two of them hadn't had a proper giggle together in a long time. Not since Nick had hidden Gregg's headphones during a case a few years back. She couldn't remember a time since then when her stomach had ached that much from laughing. Catherine smiled as she remembered the priceless look on Nick's face as he denied all involvement in the prank. He had looked so young then. But as Catherine inspected his face she realised that the older Nick got, the more attractive he got too. She loved the way that, when he smiled or laughed, little laughter lines would appear at the corner of his eyes. The way he raised his eyebrows whenever he made a suggestion. And she couldn't fault any part of his muscular body. But her favourite part of Nick was his soft brown eyes that, despite the strong presence Nick presented, revealed a venerable side of him. A venerable side that Catherine had been privileged enough to witness many a time in the twenty-odd years that they had known each other…
Catherine jumped as she realised she had been staring at him and, embarrassed, looked down at the pile of paperwork that was sitting on the desk next to Nick's arm. She motioned towards it, slightly guilty that she had put them there for him to inspect:
CATHERINE: Got your work cut out for you?
Nick looked at the pile then back up at Catherine and laughed:
NICK: I did. But this is the pile I've looked at.
He held up the file that he'd been inspecting as she had entered the office:
NICK: This is the last one.
Catherine raised her eyebrows again as a big smile grew on her face. Nick was always sharp and a quick reader. No matter how many times she tried to catch him out with paperwork he always managed to get it done in time for the end of his shift. She was jealous at the talent he seemed to have but this was one of the reasons why she had promoted him to Assistant Supervisor. She knew that no matter how much mess she would get into, he would always be there to help her pick up the pieces. And most of the time the pieces were an overload of paperwork.
CATHERINE: Finishing just in time for the end of your shift, lucky you.
NICK: Well if you need me to look through any more cases I don't mind staying. It's not like I've got anything to get home to so…
Catherine noted it gratefully with a nod:
CATHERINE: Thanks, but you don't need to worry I'll stay on. You go home and get some rest.
Nick nodded. He always wanted to support Catherine as much as possible, more so because he regarded her as his closest friend and he never liked seeing her stressed, but he wasn't going to deny an opportunity to go home on time and get some well earned sleep. He was shattered and knew better than to argue with her. He watched Catherine closely as she gave him a small smile and headed out of his office. He couldn't quite believe that the two of them had been working together for almost twenty three years. She had been there from the day he first started, always one position higher than him, but had always supported him whatever the situation. It was her friendship, her guidance and her respect towards him that gave Nick the feeling that no matter what would happen in his life, she would always be there for him. And it was this knowledge that always made Nick feel safe. He knew no words could ever describe his appreciation for her and as he watched her pause outside her office door and turn back one last time, he smiled:
NICK: I'll see you later.
Catherine shot him a sleepy smile and nodded:
CATHERINE: Yeah, sleep tight.
She watched as Nick smiled then resumed his concentration on the paperwork he held before him. She wished more than anything that it was her who was able to go home on time this morning but she knew that this was the curse she had signed up for when she had accepted the position of Supervisor on the Grave Shift. Sighing heavily, she opened the door to her office and stepped in, closing the door behind her. The room was silent and she looked over at her desk to see the ever familiar figure of her daughter sat at her desk and smiled.
CATHERINE: I hear from Wendy that you've had a good shift. She was telling me how smart you are…
Her sentence was interrupted by a small snort that came from Lindsay. Catherine stepped closer to the desk to see that her excitement was not mirrored by her daughter. There was something about her facial expression, Catherine noticed, that seemed as though she was confused and frustrated all at once. Lindsay clung tightly to a piece of paper as though trying to protect its contents from her. There was a silence which Catherine hastily wanted to fill. She had known her daughter long enough to know that if something was bothering her then Catherine would have to talk about something meaningless until Lindsay was ready to tell her what was on her mind.
CATHERINE: So…Nick was telling me you were doing something about DNA?
Lindsay's face flickered ever so slightly and Catherine knew she was on to something, but no words fell out of her daughter's mouth so she continued:
CATHERINE: DNA's a tricky thing to grasp. Did you understand everything?
Catherine's heart skipped a beat as Lindsay cleared her throat and spoke slowly, quietly yet with a slight hint of aggravation in her voice:
LINDSAY: Yeah, all but one thing. I was hoping you'd be able to help explain it?
Catherine glance at the sheet in her daughter's hands as Lindsay glanced down at it staring at one particular section with her face screwed up slightly, in confusion.
CATHERINE: Well…of course.
Lindsay took a deep breath and paused as she gathered her thoughts into a well planned sentence. The wait was killing Catherine who desperately wanted to know what was bothering her daughter:
LINDSAY: Wendy showed me what to do with the DNA to see about family members and so on…
CATHERINE: …For the Whittle case?
Lindsay slowly nodded and Catherine watched as tears slowly began to appear in her daughter's eyes. Her voice was shaky and nervous but her face remained steely, a look that Catherine recognised as her own. The look she used when she tried her hardest to remain unread:
LINDSAY: Well I thought it was really interesting so while Wendy was out of the room I…did my own DNA test…
Catherine frowned, confused as to why Lindsay was so upset. She wasn't mad at her daughter for doing her own DNA test. In fact Catherine had done something similar a few years back to define her paternity. Lindsay thrust the sheet towards her mother:
LINDSAY: I need you to explain these results.
Catherine raised her eyebrows, surprised by her daughter's aggression, and willingly took the sheet. She explained each part aloud:
CATHERINE: Well the top part is, obviously, your information. Your blood type etc. Then you've got your results. My name, my blood type etc. Then Ed-
Catherine's heart jumped into her mouth stopping her from furthering her sentence. She stared at that point in the paper that Lindsay had been staring at. Her stomach twisted and suddenly she felt sick as her daughter's voice became louder and more irritated by the second.
LINDSAY: Well? Care to explain how, for the past twenty years, I've believed that Eddie was my father?
CATHERINE: I…I don't understand…he…is…
Lindsay stood up abruptly, causing the chair she had been sitting on to slam against the filing cabinet behind her.
LINDSAY: No he's not! Becausethis-
Lindsay wrenched the paper from her mother's trembling hands and held it in front of her to emphasise her point:
LINDSAY: -is a DNA test and according tohim-
Catherine watched as her daughter pointed angrily at the wall knowing full well that the person on the other side of it was who she was referring to.
LINDSAY: -they are the most accurate way of telling who your family is. Who yourfatheris!
Catherine began to feel light headed as she watched her daughter look at her in disappointment. She took a deep breath, pushed her unruly hair behind her ear and placed her hands on her hips as her daughter continued with a more quiet, yet frustrated voice:
LINDSAY: Why didn't you tell me?
CATHERINE: I didn't know…
Lindsay scoffed as she unwittingly mirrored her mother by pushing her blonde hair behind her ears and placing her hands on her hips:
LINDSAY:Howcould you not know Mum? I mean…surelythere must have been this little niggle in the back of your mind saying 'I wonder' or 'what if'?
Catherine was beginning to get frustrated, with herself more than anything. She tried thinking back twenty one years. Back to that night. Her voice became more irritated:
CATHERINE: I don't remember. We were drunk…I couldn't remember if we actually went the whole way or not…I just…I figured we didn't and left it at that.
LINDSAY: Left it at that? Left it atthat?! I've spent most of my life thinking my father was dead…but actually he wasn't really my father. The man who is, is still alive.. And what abouthim..
Catherine sighed slightly as her daughter pointed angrily at that same wall again to emphasis her point:
LINDSAY: ..He has no idea that this whole time he's had a daughter…he's been living a life without a family he doesn't know about and you just left it at that?!
Catherine was taken aback by her daughter's analysis. The truth. And her mature way of evaluating the situation. Catherine was struggling herself to come to terms with the truth and she looked at Lindsay in desperation.
CATHERINE: Like I said I couldn't remember. I didn't want to risk either of you getting hurt by digging up history. What if I'd gone through all that DNA analysis and given you this small glimmer of hope that maybe you still had a father who was alive, only for you to find out that Eddiewasyour father and he was still dead.
LINDSAY: But Mum heisn'tmy father…
The room fell silent as both women thought about the recent revelation. All that could be heard was the ticking of the clock that hung above the door of Catherine's office. She looked at the young woman before her. Her daughter. She hadn't realised how grown up she now was. She hadn't realised how much her daughter had become like her. Sharp and smart with a short fuse that Catherine knew would calm down after a few more years. Lindsay was a younger version of herself. Catherine had tried so desperately hard to make her daughter's life a better one than her own. A life without lies or betrayal. But here she was making the same mistake her own mother had made: she had left her daughter to discover the true identity of her father. Except this time around the mother had had no idea herself.
LINDSAY: You need to tell him.
LINDSAY: You need to tell Nick.
Catherine couldn't help but feel guilty as she looked at the disappointed face of her daughter. She had failed her. Their silence was interrupted by a light tap on the door and both women took a deep breath as Nick walked into the room.
NICK: Hey. Sorry to interrupt Cath. I'm all done.
Catherine could feel the tension in the room between Lindsay and herself and tried desperately hard to hide it from Nick, but he was too quick.
NICK: Is everything okay?
Neither women answered him and his attention was drawn to the huge pile of files that were stacked on Catherine's desk. His heart melted. He knew that it must be hard for Lindsay having her mum at work for so long. At least Catherine had someone to go home to. Someone to look after. He presumed that was why they had been arguing. Because Catherine had told Lindsay that she had to stay late. He strode over to the desk and picked up the files.
NICK: Here, let me take these and I'll look through them.
Catherine watched as Lindsay took a step back keeping the paper away from his view. This was the first time she had seen the two of them together and it was bizarre to think that Nick was, in fact, Lindsay's biological father. She could tell that Lindsay was finding it just as weird. The two women held such a huge secret that could blow this man's world to pieces. And Catherine knew in an instant that this precise moment was not a good time to do that:
CATHERINE: Oh Nick, no you don't have to-
She watched as the files that she had had to take three different trips to bring into her office, rested comfortably all together in his strong arms. Nick stopped less than a metre from her on his way out of the office and gave her a small grin. Usually Catherine didn't mind about their spatial awareness but she couldn't help being aware at just how close he was to her in this big room. She was scared that if he got any closer he could hear her heart racing and question it.
NICK: It's okay, I don't mind. Like I say I don't have anyone to go home to. At least you have Lindsay.
Catherine's stomach twisted again as guilt struck her for the millionth time that morning and she watched as he walked out of her office and struggled to shut the door behind him. She felt like calling after him 'you have Lindsay too' but the words stuck in her throat. She was too nervous. She turned back to Lindsay who was staring at the door where Nick had once stood, clearly in just as much awkward shock as Catherine had been. They stood motionless and after a few moments of silence Lindsay cleared her throat.
LINDSAY: So…What happened? I mean, you were married to Eddie right?
Catherine looked at her daughter who's face had softened slightly and nodded before taking a deep breath. She had never wanted to tell Lindsay what her father hadtrulybeen like. But then again, Eddie wasn't her father.
CATHERINE: Eddie and I had a rocky marriage from the start. A few years in he became an alcoholic, started becoming abusive…
Catherine watched as her daughter took a deep breath and she knew the next few things she said would change her daughter's initial anger and disappointment.
CATHERINE: …one morning he'd hit me pretty hard and I cracked a rib. I went to the hospital of course. Told them I'd fell. Then I went to work. I was put on a case with Nicky. He'd been working with me a couple of years and knew me well. So well he didn't need to look twice at me before he knew something was wrong.
Lindsay watched as a look had appeared on her mother's face that she had never seen before. A look of fear. She had never known her mother to be afraid ofanything. That was the one thing Lindsay admired Catherine for the most, her bravery throughout any situation. But it was clear that being with Eddie had been one of the worst ordeals of her mother's life.
LINDSAY: Did you tell him what Eddie did?
Catherine nodded as she thought back to Nick's reaction. He'd looked so concerned. No guy she had ever known, friend, lover or otherwise had ever looked at her the way Nick had in that moment.
CATHERINE: I made him swear not to tell anyone else and for days he kept an eye on me at work, making sure we shared the same cases so he could…
Catherine paused as she struggled to find the right word to describe Nick's actions:
CATHERINE: …protect me I suppose.
She smiled slightly as she thought back to all the times that Nick would ask if she was okay, if Eddie had attacked her again and his look of relief every time she had told him he hadn't.
CATHERINE: Anyway one night we'd finished this really gruesome, intense case and were given the option to go home early. I didn't want to go back to Eddie as I was scared about what state he would be in. So I asked Nick to come out for a drink instead. I always felt safe around him. Still do.
LINDSAY: And let me guess…a billion drinks later you were back at his…
Catherine nodded with a small smile as Lindsay raised her hand in an 'I-don't-need-to-hear-anymore' way. The room fell into silence again as Catherine watched her daughter's sharp blue eyes inspecting her, trying to read her mind.
LINDSAY: It's funny…for a violent guy, Eddie was never like that around me…
Catherine smiled slightly as she remembered the night Lindsay was born. Eddie had missed the whole thing and finally dragged himself to her bedside at 9am the next morning. He had been gambling. But the moment he clasped eyes on their daughter…herdaughter…he promised he would change.
CATHERINE: From the moment you were born he gave up alcohol. He gave up being aggressive. You brought out the side of him that I had fallen in love with the first time I'd met him. You brought out the best in him.
Lindsay smiled, grateful for the compliment but as she thought about it, she realised it didn't matter. None of it did. At the end of the day he wasn't her father. He had never been her father. Her face fell as an early memory flashed in her mind.
LINDSAY: He wasn't the best all the time. I remember he hit you once. Knocked you out cold…
Catherine shuffled her feet nervously and looked down at her hand that was lightly tracing over the desktop.
CATHERINE: He…erm…I guess he liked the power.
Lindsay couldn't believe that her mother had been so strong yet so stupid to have stayed with this abusive man for so long. Especially when herrealfather seemed like he would've treated her with proper respect. The way a husband should really treat his wife.
LINDSAY: So why did you stay? I mean…Nick's such a good guy…why did you stay with Eddie?
Catherine looked nervously up at her daughter, not wanting to make her feel guilty but there was no other way to say it:
CATHERINE: For you. You loved him so much. I didn't want to break up the family unit you knew so well so…I stayed for you.
Lindsay's face darkened and Catherine knew her daughter hadn't taken things as well as she'd hope:
LINDSAY: Well you were an idiot.
Catherine opened her mouth to protest but before she knew it the small young blonde she knew as her daughter had picked up her bag that had been lying on the desk and begun to walk towards the door. Catherine bolted after Lindsay as the door swung open:
CATHERINE: Lindsay wait! Where are you going?
She watched as her daughter stopped abruptly and swung around to face her in frustration.
LINDSAY: Out. I need to clear my head. Andyouneed to tell him.
Catherine sighed for what felt like the millionth time and put her hands over her face as her daughter motioned towards Nick's office again. The heat of the conversation had brought the two women's voices up in volume and Catherine began to speak to her daughter in a desperate tone:
CATHERINE: Wha…how? I wouldn't know where to start...
Lindsay was starting to lose her patience. She had thought that her mother was used to taking charge of situations by now - after all it was her job - and this was one of the most important situations of their lives. Lindsay knew it wasn't her place to tell Nick. She couldn't just waltz up to him and say 'Hey Nick. By the way, you're my biological father.' No. It couldn't come from anyone else but her mother.
LINDSAY: Just…deep breath then take the plunge!
Catherine hesitated, knowing that her daughter was right. Hating that her daughter was right. She looked over to her right through the open door of Nick's office and her heart fell as she saw him slowly walking over to them wearing a confused expression on his face. She turned to her daughter who was giving her a "what are you waiting for" look and she groaned slightly:
CATHERINE: Ugh, I cant do this.
And as much as she hated being defeated, Catherine quickly walked back into her office and perched on the edge of her desk as the feeling of sickness rose from the pit of her stomach. Her heart started to race with nerves as she looked over at Nick who had just approached her daughter with a questioning expression and he looked into her office. She caught his dark brown eyes and Catherine felt an unusual melting sensation.
NICK: What's wrong?
Lindsay exhaled loudly as her mother broke eye contact with the two of them and looked over at a bookshelf in her office instead. She could understand why her mother was nervous. After all, she had so much to lose if Nick didn't take the news well. She could lose a strong partnership at work, as well as a very close friend. Lindsay knew how much Nick meant to her mother. She couldn't count the amount of time's her mother had come home and talked about her shift - which usually began with "Nick and I" and ended with "So I guess I'll just ask Nick tonight" with lots of "Nick" bits in between. Catherine's defence, when challenged, had always been that when anything happened, Nick was usually on the scene. But Lindsay was sure that there was more to it then that. That maybe her mother noticed Nick more than she noticed anybody else. Lindsay could feel Nick's eyes staring at her and she continued to look over at her mother's nervous figure. She had never seen her like this before and it was possibly this venerability that made Lindsay decide that she had to take charge of the situation. For her mum. For her Dad. She sighed again and turned to Nick with a quiet, almost disappointed voice.
LINDSAY: Here. Congratulations.
Catherine looked up as she watched her daughter hand him the piece of paper. She was so nervous. Her heart was pounding and her hands had become sweaty with nerves. Tears began to spring into her eyes as she watched for Nick's inevitable reaction.
LINDSAY: We just found out. If it helps, Mum never knew but…I guess you'll need to talk to her about that.
Catherine watched on as Nick looked up from the sheet to their daughter in shock. His eyes were like saucers and studied every detail of the girl that stood before him.
LINDSAY: I'm gonna go out for a bit. I'm ready to talk when you are…if you ever are of course.
After a short pause a small smile grew on Nick's face which Lindsay gratefully received and sent back as he slowly nodded at her then watched as his daughter walked away down the corridor. Catherine stood up nervously as Nick entered her office and held up the sheet with an equally nervous look on his face:
NICK: So…this legit?
Catherine breathed out nervously and nodded:
CATHERINE: Yeah, I guess so.
Catherine watched on as Nick looked back down at the sheet, still in shock but his face had softened since the initial surprise. She was just so relieved he was still here. Still stood in this room. Willing, even slightly, to still stand near her. Not sickened by her presence. But it was still very early days. Catherine always expected failure when it came to building any kind of relationship. No matter how hard she tried, in the end she and Lindsay always ended up alone. She nevereverwanted to get into a situation like this, where the outcome would be her worst nightmare. That she would be left to live her life without Nick in it. The butterflies raced around in her stomach as she watched him look up at her and raise his eyebrows:
NICK: We're gonna need some coffee.
A huge wave of relief rushed over Catherine as she watched Nick walk over to the coat stand that sat in the corner of her room. As he plucked her coat off one of the hooks and walked over to her, he gave her a small reassuring smile. A smile that Catherine knew meant that everything was going to be okay. She automatically stuck her arms through the sleeves of the coat that Nick held out for her and a small tingle ran over her shoulders as he affectionately straightened out the collar for her.
NICK: I'll just grab my coat.
Nick had been out of the room for five minutes and Catherine was beginning to worry. 'Great,' she thought to herself, 'He's done a runner.' As much as she wanted to laugh at the stupidity of the idea, that doing a runner wasn't Nick's style especially when she was concerned, Catherine still had this tiny little fear in the back of her mind that he had abandoned her. She took up the pacing again, continuing to look through the window of her office door at every lap. Suddenly, to her relief, Nick opened the door and poked his head into the room with a nervous little smile.
NICK: Ready to go?
Catherine nodded, mirroring his nervous smile and took a deep breath before walking out of the safe little bubble that was her office, back into reality. She closed the door behind her and locked it, very aware that several of her colleagues were looking at her in curiosity. She looked up at Nick for an answer which he delivered by putting his lips to her ear and speaking in a very low voice:
NICK: You just had a major blow up with your daughter.
Catherine's heart fell as she realised that thanks to her heated argument with Lindsay, now the whole of her department knew that Nick had fathered her daughter. Her breath became short and sharp as she began to panic. Eckley was bound to find out, if he didn't already, after all gossip spread like wildfire around here. Eckley would move Nick to the day shift which meant that Catherine would barely see him, if at all. The idea of not being able to see Nick, let alone not work with him, put the fear of God into her. Who would be there to help pick up the pieces? To sense when something wasn’t right with her? To know when she needed to talk and to be that person to talk to? Suddenly she snapped out of her worrying daydream as she felt Nick's hand on the small of her back and she looked up at his reassuring face as he resumed his lips to her ear.
NICK: Don't panic. They didn't hear words. Just muffled shouts and the odd bang here and there.
Catherine thought back to Lindsay's outburst and the chair hitting the filing cabinet.
NICK: No one knows anything except us.
Catherine exhaled in relief and smiled gratefully up at Nick as they began walking down the corridor towards the lift, his hand still protectively on her lower back. She was just glad he was still here.