Title: The Long Road Back from Sorrow

Author: lianeviolet

Rating: PG-13 for language and tone.

Spoilers: None, except for the death of a secondary character.

Disclaimer: All characters owned by the creators of CSI.

Summary: G/S and C/W. The murder of a colleague causes grief for Grissom and extreme determination in finding the killer among the rest of the C.S.I. team.

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Catherine pulled her car into a secluded parking lot in order to take a few moments to enjoy her favorite greasy cheeseburger and fries before her night of hard work began. She had even splurged on a large chocolate milkshake and was struggling to get the thick concoction up the straw when the familiar sound of her cell phone cut through the air. Her jubilant mood sank as she sighed and pulled the phone out of her jacket.

"Willows," she answered, her exasperated tone very apparent to the caller.

"Catherine? It's Gil. Where are you?"

"You have such a knack for ruining my best meals, you know that?" she returned.

"I need you to report to a crime scene right away. There's been a multiple shooting at Mirabella's, it's an Italian restaurant downtown. You know where it is? I'm sending Warrick there, also. I'll meet you both there."

"Yeah, I'm only about three blocks away, I can be there in about five minutes."

"What are you doing downtown?" he asked, sounding confused.

"Not eating my dinner. I'll see you there." Catherine hung up her phone and grabbed a few fries before restarting her car and heading toward the expensive restaurant.

The flashing lights and barricades set up by the police were visible from about a block away from Mirabella's and Catherine counted four police cars and two ambulances. She parallel parked a few cars away from the scene and dug around in her purse for her C.S.I. identification, before getting out and approaching Captain Brass and another officer. She flashed her badge at the other man and glanced around the area before speaking to the head detective.

"What have we got, Brass?" she asked, noticing that the man always looked exhausted, like he was carrying the world perpetually on his shoulders.

Brass introduced Catherine to the other detective. "We've got a multiple shooting, four victims and a few others injured. I haven't started interviewing any witnesses, I just got here myself and I didn't go inside yet. I told my men to start putting up the tape around the front of the restaurant. Is the rest of the team on the way?"

"Yes, Grissom and Warrick should be here shortly. Let me start checking the area."

Catherine left him and ducked under the yellow tape at the entrance to see a paramedic tending to a crying woman's wounded arm. She could still smell hints of gunpowder in the air as she stepped over broken glasses, napkins and tipped over chairs; she could only imagine the melee this place must have become when the shooting broke out. To her left, a man in a tuxedo was talking in an animated and hysterical manner to another police officer that was writing down what he said on a small, gray pad. She found the first body, which appeared to be an adult male, curled in the fetal position and almost obscured completely by an overturned table. About two feet from his body was the second victim, a well-dressed female lying on her stomach, and Catherine wondered if she might have been the man's wife. The off-white, silk dress she had been wearing was now stained in circles of blood and, getting a better view of the man's position, it appeared he had been reaching for the dead woman. Her thoughts drifted to the transient question of whether or not Eddie would have reached for her if they had ever been found in this manner. She shook that ridiculous and painful idea off quickly and started off toward the third victim, a teenage boy that could not have been older than fifteen. He had apparently been the third person sitting at the table with the other two victims and was most likely their son. Catherine dreaded seeing someone so young lying dead way before his time and this feeling of dread summoned up Lindsey's sweet face into her vision and made it hard to breathe for a moment.

"Just a baby," she muttered under her breath, finally going on toward the fourth victim, who was across the restaurant on the north side. That was strange, given that most of the shooting had gone on by the south side as represented by all the shell casings on the floor there. She was a few feet away from the fourth fatality when her breath caught in her throat.

No, it couldn't be. She moved closer to the body to get a better look and felt her heart sinking into a bottomless chasm. She turned her head to the side in disbelief and closed her eyes as she felt the tears starting; she tried to restrain the lump of shock and sorrow that was coming up into her throat. "Oh, God.no," she whispered. She covered her mouth trying to stifle the emotion.

After a few moments, Catherine stood up and, trying to regain her composure, walked briskly out of the restaurant and up to Brass, who was now surrounded by a few more officers.

"No one lets Gil Grissom come onto this crime scene until I talk to him first," she barked out, her finger pointing at them and her voice shaking. "Do you understand? Not until I talk to him first!"

Brass looked surprised at her unusual authoritative tone and just nodded. "Catherine?" he inquired, with concern. "Is everything O.k.?"

"No. No, Brass, everything is not O.k. Everything is not O.k." Succumbing to the overwhelming grief, Catherine collapsed onto the curb, put her face in her hands and began weeping.

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