Chapter 14

"I'm not leaving."

"Hailey..." Brass rubbed his forehead in frustration. It had been ten minutes since he had motioned a uniformed cop over and asked him to give Hailey a ride home, and ten minutes of Hailey's stubborn refusal.

"I want to stay here. I'm scared to be at home alone." She felt guilty the moment she said it, because it wasn't true. But she knew her uncle well, and knew there were few things that she could say that would allow him to let her stay at the lab instead of returning to his house. So she used her knowledge to get him to let her stay. It had been hours since the ransom had arrived, and in the rush of study and preparation Hailey had gone unnoticed until now. She had been floating around the lab, doing her best to stay out of every ones way while peeking into rooms to glean as much information as she could. Outside the DNA lab she overheard the news that the hair pulled off the letter was a match to Lindsey. Pacing the halls in front of finger printing she was discouraged to hear that no usable prints had been found, not so much as a partial. It was when she was spying on Archie in the A/V lab that her uncle had noticed her, and decided to try and send her home.

"I'll stay out of everyone's way, I promise." Hailey widened her eyes and gave her uncle her very best 'puppy dog' expression. "Please, Uncle Jimmy?" Brass folded, either believing Hailey's reticence to be alone or not willing to spend anymore time arguing. Partially, he also liked having her where he could keep an eye on her. The memory of Hailey, sitting on a hospital bed and looking completely beaten, was too fresh in his mind.

"Alright, kid, you win. You can stay here. Out of everyone's way, capiche? Else I'll have to lock you in my office." He smiled at her, a grin that let her know he was teasing.

"Yes, sir," she teased back. It was a light hearted moment, much needed in the midst to the stressful day. After a brief hug they parted, Brass to find Grissom, and Hailey for another round of lingering outside open doorways, seeking out information that no one would think to give the fourteen year old.

II

Around two in the morning Hailey crashed on the couch in the break room. She was awoken after a couple of hours by a pair of voices, one on the verge of tears and the other comforting.

"It's been more then forty eight hours, Warrick. You know how the odds change. The statistics..."

"Lindsey isn't a statistic, Cath. And we aren't just any group of police working a kidnapping case. Odds be damned, remember? We have the best people in the country working this, and we will bring Lindsey home."

Peeking over the back of the couch, Hailey watched as Warrick pulled Catherine into an embrace. She was debating whether or not to alert them to her presence when she leaned backwards and hit the sore part of her scalp on the arm of the couch.

"Oww!" She sharply inhaled, and the other two occupants of the room turned to the sound. Quickly, Hailey brought her hands up to her eyes and rubbed them, hoping that Catherine and Warrick would believe that she had only just woken up.

"Hailey, what are you doing here?" Warrick dropped the arms that held Catherine to him as he asked the question.

"I fell asleep," she stated the obvious, knowing that it wasn't really the answer he was looking for.

"Not here in the break room. Here at the lab. You should be..." A shrill beeping noise ended his sentence prematurely. Glancing at the pager clipped onto his belt, he muttered "Grissom."

"I'll be back in a few," he said as he squeezed Catherine's hand on his way out of the room.

"He's right, you know. Home would be better right now." Catherine pulled one of the chairs away from the table and fell onto it.

"Home's too quiet. And here, even if I can't do anything, at least when something happens I'll know."

It was an argument Catherine couldn't argue with. She was here for the same reason. It wasn't as if she could look at any evidence, let alone touch or analyze it. Everything that she did everyday to help strangers to find closure had been taken away. Reaching out, she took one of Hailey's hands in her own. They sat there in silence for long minutes, a vigil of hope and helplessness.

"You don't really think that Lindsey's chances are getting worse, do you?" When the silence grew too heavy, Hailey broke it with her fears.

"I don't know," Catherine answered honestly, closing her eyes and rubbing the bridge of her nose. "I don't know."

"She's one of the strongest people I know, Lindsey." Hailey wasn't sure if she was trying to reassure Catherine or herself. "She told me, the first time we met, she didn't take crap from anyone. That was what her mom taught her. So I think she is going to be okay."

"I hope so, honey. God, I hope your right." Catherine left her chair and joined Hailey on the couch. She pulled the girl towards herself, wrapping her in a hug. For just a moment, it was like she was holding her daughter.

The sound of a throat clearing caught the attention of both of them. Warrick had returned. Hailey was the first to pull away from the comforting gesture. Rising from the couch she nodded her head to the door.

"I'm going to, um... yeah." Without thinking of a reason, she left the room. Behind her, she heard the melodic murmuring of Warrick's voice.

II

"I don't care what you have to do. Close down every table and take the money from them if you have to. I need the cash by 10 am. That means you now have six hours." Without waiting for whoever was on the other end of the phone to reply, Sam snapped the cell shut.

"You'll be able to get the money, right?" Hailey was worried, and the anxiety gave her the fortitude to approach the man who, to be honest, scared her a little. Sam Braun had a way of carrying himself that shouted 'power,' and Hailey didn't want to imagine what happened to people who crossed him. The few details that Lindsey had shared about her grandfather were enough. "I mean, whoever that was on the phone won't..."

"They won't mess anything up. I'll have the money, and before I asked for it." Sam lowered his voice, speaking in the tone he usually reserved for Lindsey or Catherine or his favorite mare. It didn't take training as a CSI to figure out the girl before him with tomato red hair and too dark makeup must be a friend of Lindsey's.

"I wasn't spying or anything. I just came down the hall and heard the end of your conversation." Now that his full attention was focused on her, Hailey was even more nervous.

"Don't apologize." Sam waved his hand in dismissal. "Don't ever apologize, unless doing so is necessary to get you something you want. It takes away your power and gives it to someone else."

"Um, okay." She attempted to skirt pass Sam, hoping to find a new place to disappear to, but he stopped her.

"You're the one that was with her." It wasn't difficult to make the connection, and if he hadn't been so preoccupied he would have figured it out sooner.

"Catherine said she was with a friend. It was you, wasn't it?"

Hailey couldn't look at him, just nodded her head. "Yeah."

"Wasn't anything you could have done to stop it. You're a kid."

"I'm not a..."

"You're a kid," he continued. "They were grown men, they were armed, and nothing was going to get in their way. It wasn't your fault." He spoke in a voice that didn't allow room for arguments, and Hailey didn't give him one. She even believed him, a little.

Sam's phone rang. Before he reached in his pocket to answer it, he offered Hailey a smile. It softened the edges of his face, and made him look less like a hardened business man and more like grandfather. He reminded Hailey of her uncle, a little.

"Braun," he snapped at whoever was on the other end of the call. Hailey left him to his conversation.

II

"Hail-bop, just the person I was looking for. Wanna go catch a bite with me?" Greg found her as she was wondering the halls, feeling more then a little restless.

"Love to. Just let me find Uncle Jimmy."

"Been there, done that, got his approval." Brass had only said yes after Greg had promised to turn the ringer on his cell phone as loud as it would go, take his gun, and only venture as far as the diner across the street, but Hailey didn't need to know that.

"Let's roll, then."

"You sound way to much like your uncle when you say that," Greg groaned.

"In that case, I'm ordering a steak, rare, with all the sides." Hailey grinned. An hour with Greg was exactly what she needed.

II

He didn't knock, just walked through the open office door. "The money will be here in two hours. It's being delivered in an armored car."

"I'll let Brass know. We'll have the truck met with a police guard." Grissom returned his attention to the folder in front of him, hoping Sam would take the hint. He didn't.

"You know who it is, don't you?"

"I can't discuss an ongoing investigation with civilians."

"I'll find Catherine and ask her, if you prefer, but I will get my answers."

Grissom sighed, knowing Sam was telling the truth. Catherine had enough to deal with, and for her he would relent.

"We think the person behind the kidnapping is Brian Jenkins. When we pulled up his bank records, we found two large withdrawals, each for twenty thousand dollars. The first was made a week and a half ago, the second one the day Lindsey was kidnapped. There is no history of similar withdrawals."

"Son of a bitch. I will kill him." Sam looked as if he was about to leave the office, and the lab. His lawyer, a man who had been on his payroll for a dozen years, had betrayed him.

"No, you won't." Grissom was standing now too. His voice was hard and biting. "You will stay here, and stay out of it. We are doing everything we can to get Lindsey back. She is first priority. Not you, not and vendetta you might have. If you mess this up in any way, I will make sure that Catherine knows."

Sam was seething, but at least he seemed to understand what Grissom was telling him.

"Grissom, do you..." Sara stood in the doorway of the office, whatever she had been about to say stopped by the noticeable tension. "Never mind, I'll come back later."

"Stay," Sam invited, the look in his eye at odds with the smile that suddenly appeared on his face. "I was just leaving."

"Sam." Grissom uttered the single word, and Sam took it as the reminder it was meant to be.

"I'll play by your rules." Both men knew there was a silent for now. If the worst happened, all rules would be null and void.

Sara waited until Sam was out of sight before breaking the silence that hung in the room.

"You don't like him." When Grissom's only response was an arched brow, Sara continued. "I know you don't like him in a 'he's a murder who should be behind bars' kind of way, but it's more then that. You really don't like him. Do you think he had something to do with..."

"No." Grissom shook his head. "If there is one thing I admire about the man, it's the fierce loyalty he has to the people he loves. He would never do something like this to Catherine or Lindsey."

You have the same kind of loyalty, Sara wanted to tell him. Instead, she focused on the practical.

"I just came in to let you know that we're ordering pizza, and to find out what topping you want on yours."

"Whatever you order is fine."

"So pineapple, olives, and mushrooms?" she teased.

"That's fine." It took him a minute before her words sunk in. "What?"

"I thought so. You'll have some of Nick and Warrick's meat lovers' pizza." As she walked away, she heard him mutter something about fruit not belonging on pizza. She smiled; glad she could distract him from his heavy thoughts, if only for a minute. Rubbing her temple, she headed to the break room for caffine and aspirin.

To be continued...