Disclaimer: The only thing I have is my imagination. Someone else owns CSI.
Summary: Sara Sidle goes missing at a crime scene, leaving behind nothing but a pool of blood. Angst gallore.
Two months had passed. Eight and a half weeks. Sixty one days. One thousand, four hundred and sixty four hours. Eighty seven thousand, eight hundred and forty minutes. Eternity and barely a blink of an eye at the same time. For Gil Grissom this two month anniversary could only be described as hell.
On this day, two months, eight and a half weeks, Sixty one days, one thousand, four hundred and sixty four hours, or eighty seven thousand, eight hundred and forty minutes ago, Sara Sidle had vanished.
That day had not started out as hell. At midnight, when the graveyard shift had come to work, the sky had been clear, and there were even some stars visible, despite the city lights. There had been a breeze that had brought fresh air down from the mountains, and made the smog filled city air seem almost pleasant. And Gil Grissom had been happily occupied with perfecting the speech that he was going to present at the entomology conference in LA.
It had been a very slow night, and later Grissom would tell himself that this should have tipped him off to the chaos that had been about to follow. Warrick and Catherine had been processing evidence for a case that they had been working on. The rest of the CSIs had been filling out the paperwork that should have been completed weeks ago. But this was the first week of relative quite that the Lab had experienced in months, so not even Conrad Ecklie, had given them too much trouble over incomplete paperwork.
Around one A.M. a call from Detective Jim Brass came in. There had been a robbery at a jewelry store. It wasn't a particularly expensive jewelry store and not much was taken, so Gil had needed to send only one person. He had however wanted give Greg some hand-on experience. And if Grissom was perfectly honest with himself, he could admit that he had also wanted to test the young man, to see how far along Greg had come.
So he had sent three CSIs to Brass. He had put Greg in charge, and let Sara and Nick see how he would hold up on the scene without Gil around to intimidate him. At the time he had felt pretty proud of himself for thinking of a way to turn a slow day into a controlled, productive, and very informative experiment.
"Greg, Sara, Nick. Grab your gear. There is a robbery on Easton." Oh, how easy those words had been to say. Twelve words. They had changed everything. Later Grissom would wonder why they hadn't gotten stuck in his throat. Why hadn't alarm bells started ringing in his head?
"I want Greg to take the lead on this one." And no one had said anything. He got a few raised eyebrows, but he had hired them because they were all very intelligent people. It only took them a few seconds to work out why he was sending three people to a low-profile robbery and putting the most junior member in charge.
When they were leaving he had simply nodded at them. Later he would stay awake at nights and wonder why he hadn't said anything awe inspiring. Something that Sara would remember him by. Or maybe he should have just told her to be careful. Or wished her luck. He wondered if it would have made a difference.
He wasn't there for what happened later. But he could piece together a timeline from the different accounts. They had arrived on scene at approximately one thirty. Greeted Brass, who also had only raised an eyebrow at Greg taking the lead on the case. The Detective gave them the basic facts: Small jewelry store owned by a Marsha Littlefield; the robber, or robbers, had broken the front window of the store shortly before midnight; triggered the alarm; then he, or she, or they, like a proverbial bull in a china shop, forced their way inside, smashed a couple of display cases, grabbed some of the more expensive looking jewelry, and then bailed before the police responded to the alarm. No one saw anything.
After making sure that the area was secure, Brass left a couple of police officers at the scene and then left to sort through a pile up on the highway.
Greg Sanders did the initial walk through. They noted that the shop was small, consisting only of three rooms: the display room, the backroom which also served as a break room for the two employees, and the office which had a secure lock on the door, and housed a heavy-duty safe where the cash, and some of the more expensive jewelry were kept overnight.
The three also quickly noted that one of the robbers had managed to cut himself, or herself, on the broken glass, and left behind a blood trail. There had been blood in the break room, but there was no sign that anyone had even tried to get into the office. Sara suggested that the robber had probably been hoping for easy pickings, and discovering that it wouldn't be that easy, deceided to resign himself to the things in the display room.
Greg had then split them up. He himself had collected evidence in the display room. Nick had been asked to check around the perimeter. And Sara had gotten the backroom.
It should have been safe. The area had been cleared by Brass and his men. There were only two way in and out of the shop: the front door which had been guarded by an armed Officer, and the backdoor, which had been securely locked. It was only later that they would learn that Marsha Littlefield had had her purse stolen earlier that week, that one of the items in Marsha's purse had been the backdoor key, and that the locksmith was only coming to replace the lock the next day. But they learned that too late to help Sara.
Less then fifteen minutes after Sara had entered the break room, Greg remembered her calling out: "Hang on, I think there is something at the back of this door." She had then closed the door separating the display room from the back room; presumably in order to get a good look at fore mentioned 'something'.
And then everything had gone to hell. Greg remembered the sound of three gunshots. Something hit the door from the break room side. If there was any noise coming from the backroom after that, no one heard it in the commotion that followed. The officer on scene had rushed in, and tried to get into the backroom, only to find the door locked. While the Officer tried to talk whoever was inside into opening the door, Greg managed to pull himself together enough to radio Dispatch and request backup. Nick had heard something and had come running from a block away.
By the time backup had arrived the break room had been empty, and the previously locked back door was wide open. Tread marks in the alley behind the shop indicated that someone had sped out of the alley. Despite Greg's fears they did not find Sara's dead body in the backroom. They did however find a lot of blood that hadn't been there before. They could not, however, find Sara.
What started out as a one CSI case, became the sole priority of the lab. Everyone had been put to work. Bobby from Ballistics had analyzed the one bullet that had been found imbedded into the wall of the break room. Archie and Warrick watched every traffic camera in the vicinity for suspicious looking vehicles. Nick and Catharine analyzed the tread marks. Amy from DNA had rushed the unknown blood sample from the store, only to find that it belonged to a male but she couldn't tell them any more than that, since the DNA was useless unless they had something to compare it to. Greg and Grissom had searched the surrounding neighborhood for clues. Ecklie looked for people to blame.
And then Doc Robinson had sadly informed them that with the amount of Sara's blood that had been present at the crime scene, Sara was most likely dead, unless she was either extremely lucky or had gotten medical help immediately. Preferably both.
It hadn't felt real. The couple of days following the shooting Grissom only remembered as a blur of movement, panic, fear, and guilt.
And despite how much manpower they had, Sara's case kept hitting dead end, after dead end. They couldn't figure out who committed the original robbery. And they couldn't figure out who had attacked Sara. Had the robbers come back to the crime scene? Had someone purposefully staged the robbery and had been waiting to kill Sara? Or was Marsha just cursed and two different groups had tried to rob her store in one night?
And now two months later they were no closer to finding Sara than they had been two hours after she had disappeared. Ecklie had started hinting that he needed to hire another CSI to take Sara's place, but Gil had pretended to be dense, and ignored the hints. People at the lab started talking about holding a memorial service. But they never dared talk in the presence of the Graveyard Shift CSIs.
Grissom was not yet ready to let her go yet. He still referred to that day as the day Sara Sidle had vanished, not the as day she had been killed.
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