A/N: This is a joint venture between myself and the excellent CharlesTheBold. Please, please REVIEW! We LOVE reviews.
Disclaimer: Not ours. The title, the characters, none of it.
Persistence of Memory
Chapter 1 Will andToni
Toni Williams sighed, "Will...not again. What do you think you're going to accomplish? All you do when you come here is make yourself upset and that doesn't help anyone, least of all Judith...I understand how important it is to get this guy...Believe me, I do, but..." She stepped out of the cruiser, following her partner as he moved to stand in the center of the crime scene area, "Will..."
"Yeah, I know. But I keep hoping that I'll discover something new. It's frustrating, to know the identity of the guy and not being able to do anything about it."
Toni sighed and put a hand on his shoulder, "Come on. There's nothing here to help you..." she paused, "You can't bring her back by being here. And I can't believe she'd want you to remember her this way, in this place. Come on, Will...let's go..."
"I like to think that I'm a hardened police officer, but I'm not. It's possible that I overlooked something earlier because I was too upset to see it."
Toni closed her eyes briefly. She loved Will. He was her friend, her partner. She trusted him with her life, but he could be the most stubborn, infuriating man alive, "No. Will, I have been over every inch of this place with you, the entire CSI department has, there is nothing here but bad memories. Now get in the car. There is nothing here that is going to help you catch that scum." She grabbed his shoulder firmly and pulled it toward the car, her look steely. He may be stubborn, but she was too. That's why they made a good team.
"Just give me five minute, Toni. And I promise, I won't waste any more of your time with this." Will stared at the murder site. When he was younger one of his heroes had been Sherlock Holmes, who missed nothing and could deduce everything. Holmes had no CSI department, no superpowers, just the eagle eye. But he saw nothing, and was conscious of his five minute limit constantly ticking away.
Toni sighed and stepped back, leaning against the car. This wasn't healthy for him to dwell on it, to be constantly at this place. The case had upset the entire department, the girl had been young and was close to one of the team. The station was family and when you messed with people they cared about, it hurt them all. But this, this wasn't healthy. She couldn't understand why Lucy Preston allowed Will to work the case when it ws more than obvious that he was far too emotionally involved.
When five minutes passed she walked back over, "Okay, Will. That's enough...Come on...We'll go over the kids' statements again...Three hundredth time may be the charm. We'll get this guy. We will. But it won't do any good for you to drive yourself crazy over what you can't change...I can't believe anybody that cared about you, about your family would want to see you like this...Let's go..."
Will didn't want to give up, but he had promised. He turned toward Toni, and as he did so he thought he saw a figure out of the corner of his eye. Blue jeans, gray sweater, probably a girl judging by her hair. But he blinked and she was gone. "Did you see that?"
Toni's forehead furrowed, "See what? Will...it's really time to go. We're not coming back here. It's not good for you..."
"All right, you've made your point. I'm coming." They got in the car, Toni at the driver's seat. Just as she started the car, Will felt a powerful sense of deja vu. "Wait. Jeans, gray sweater -- that's what Judith was wearing when she was stabbed. Joan had loaned her the sweater."
Toni looked at him, "What are you talking about?"
"I - never mind. I suppose I was just trying to visualize the details of the murder." He was not going to admit, even to Toni, that he might be frazzled enough to be seeing things.
"Alright. That's it. You're done. We're going back to the station and you are going to work on another case for the rest of the day. You're driving yourself crazy, Will. I'm not going to let this control you."
"All right." She was right, he was in no shape to work this case. It was too close. Not only was Judith somebody he knew, but the thought kept going through his head: IT COULD'VE BEEN JOAN.
Toni nodded, "Good." She sighed as they pulled away from the scene. Will was one of the best guys she'd worked with and she'd seen too many of them destroy themselves on a case. She wouldn't let him become one of them.
"Do me a favor, Toni, and don't tell Helen that we went by here today. I don't want to keep picking up the family's hopes and dashing them again."
Toni lifted an eyebrow, "I'm not lying to your wife for you, Will. She's just as worried as I am..."
"I didn't say 'lie', I said 'don't tell'". He winced as he realized how absurd that sounded. "Back when I was an altar boy the priest would have called that a 'sin of omission'. No, tell her what you want."
Toni sighed, "Will...you need to just take some time...Grieve. You haven't done that yet. You lost someone close to you, someone close to your whole family...You need to grieve..."
"All right." But it wasn't just him. Luke and Joan had been closer to Judith than he had, and they were simply not used to losing friends to death, particularly violent death. He made a mental note to talk to them, to see how they were dealing with it, now that the immediate shock had worn off.
Toni pulled into the station's parking lot, "I'll keep working on it, Will. Go find something else for tonight at least. Preston might let you off early, you've been putting in a lot of extra hours."
Preston might. She always seemed anxious to be helpful to Will, and Will didn't like it. But that wasn't something he could talk to Toni about. It would sound like favoritism, or worse. Helen had already expressed what she thought of it. Just take the line of least resistance, and don't ask Preston for favors. He had enough weighing on him without Lucy.