Title: Trials

Author: Katie

Rating: M/PG-13

Disclaimer: I do not own CSI or any of the characters that are in this story. If I did, I would have been sitting next to Marg Helgenberger at Wrestlemania 21. No harm or infringement is meant.

Spoilers: Built to Kill 1 & 2 (Season 7) though anything before that is fair game as well.

Pairings: Catherine/Warrick – YoBling!

Summary: After Sam dies, Catherine's life starts spiraling out of control. She and Lindsey are constantly fighting; a scathed reporter is out for revenge; and one case may just be the breaking point.

Author's Note: This is my new CSI story…wow, I'm so intelligent and creative with these author's notes. Anyways, this is just something that popped into my mind after watching Built to Kill too many times. I love those two episodes. I'll stop rambling now. Thanks to HappyHarper13 for her assistance with the story idea. Believe me when I say that this whole thing would have been much different had it not been for her wonderful assistance and suggestions. This is unbetaed, but I like to think that I did well in English and all, but I can't catch everything, so don't lecture me if a comma is in the wrong place, thanks. Oh! One more thing!!!! Pleaaaase read and review! I like to know what my readers are thinking, so if you don't like the story or something doesn't make sense, then let me know. I'm a big girl and can take criticism, trust me.

Enjoy, homies, and let me know what you think!

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Her hands were shaking.

Her heart was pounding.

Her head was spinning.

All that she could see was the blood on her hands.

His blood.

Her father's blood.

She blinked, the red that had stained her hands less than three hours ago no longer there, yet she still itched to go the bathroom and scrub her hands raw.

Again.

She didn't want to stand up, though.

Catherine Willows was afraid she was going to pass out.

She was somewhat glad that she was sitting on the bench in the locker room rather then standing in the lab, or walking down the hall. Still, as she sat on the bench, Catherine was worried that she wasn't going to make it through the night.

Her knees were shaking so badly that she was afraid that her legs would collapse beneath her if she were to try to stand. Her hands, clean of the blood that her wavering mind still saw, were trembling, making Catherine doubtful that she would be able to control the steering wheel even if her legs carried her to the Denali or her brand new Mustang convertible.

The very same Mustang that she bought to replace her totaled car when Lindsey was kidnapped.

Lindsey.

Catherine struggled to keep her tears at bay, wondering what she was going to tell her daughter – and mother, for that matter – about Sam.

How could she tell them that their beloved Sam Braun had been brutally gunned down in an act of violence brought on by hate, greed, and anger?

The very same hate, greed, and anger that had left Catherine naked in a shady hotel room and Lindsey kidnapped.

An involuntary tear slipped down Catherine's cheek, and she closed her eyes for a long time in an attempt to fight the rest of them.

When she finally opened her eyes, Catherine noticed that she was still wearing Jim's pinstripe shirt. Her plum top, forever stained with Sam's blood, had been taken into evidence. She wasn't sure where Brass had come from, or for how long he had been at the crime scene before he stood next to her, quietly telling her that the crime scene investigator's needed to take her shirt. She had stared at him, not comprehending what Jim was saying before finally just taking the extra work shirt that he offered, her years of training kicking in. Within seconds, she had stripped her shirt and donned Jim's, not even caring that she pulled off her shirt in a public place for everyone to see her bare upper body only clad with a bra.

It had taken her several moments to button up the shirt. Catherine's fingers were trembling, and when she was finally finished, Jim placed his hands over hers, halting the movement that Catherine made to roll up the way-too-long sleeves. He did it for her, his fingers working quickly to expose her hands and arms through the material of his shirt.

Jim had stared at her critically as Catherine literally swam in his shirt. She wasn't a big woman, barely scraping five-foot-four, and that was in heels. She couldn't weigh more than 120 pounds, and that was probably being generous. But still, as she struggled to stand on her feet, her entire body shaking with tremors, Jim couldn't help but be worried about Catherine.

Was she eating okay? Was everything all right at home? Was she sleeping?

Those were the questions that Jim had for Catherine as he stared at her in the shirt that came down to just above her knees. Nevertheless, he simply took her elbow and took her aside to ask her the difficult questions…What happened? Why had she gone to visit Sam? What did she see? Did Sam say anything before he died?

Catherine blinked, drawing herself from her thoughts. She didn't want to think of the events from four hours previous. All she wanted to do right now was change her clothes, get through her shift, and go home to her daughter. Thank God Jim had already promised her that he would tell Lily about Sam…that was a conversation that she didn't want anything to do with, either.

A quick glance at the clock on the wall told Catherine that she had been staring at her locker for forty-five minutes. "Shit," Catherine cursed. Willing her knees to stop quaking, she stood, stumbling to her locker. She braced herself against the one next to her. Catherine fumbled with the lock for a minute before finally managing to unlock it.

Her body moved on autopilot as she pulled her pants off without removing her heels and threw them into her locker. She tugged on a pair of jeans, surprised at the looseness in the waistband. The stress from the last few days must have taken its toll on her, Catherine realized. Searching for a belt, she sighed when she saw that she didn't have one in her locker and that she would be resigned to tugging up her pants repeatedly through the course of her shift. Well, either that or she could make herself a belt out of the crime scene tape…

Catherine winced as she pulled off Jim's dress shirt, the muscles in her back protesting the movement. She hung the shirt carefully and made a mental note to wash it before she returned it to him. Catherine yanked on a form fitting hunter green shirt. The shirt, coupled with the too-big jeans wasn't the ideal outfit that Grissom and Ecklie wanted their CSI's donning, but it was the best that she could do at the moment, considering her top had been taken into evidence and her shirt didn't match her pants...

Catherine slammed her locker shut a little harder than necessary, resting her head against the cool metal. The last thing that she wanted to do was work, but she was here.

She didn't want to go home to face the reality of what had happened to Sam yet.

She forced her legs to move, and they automatically carried her to the break room, where Grissom was finishing handing out assignments for the evening. "And...Greg, you're with me on a 419," his voice rang out as he came to the last paper in the pile.

"Who am I with?" Catherine's soft voice seemed loud in the room as all eyes swung towards her. Shocked looks came across the face of her coworkers that Catherine had actually shown up to work despite losing her father mere hours before. Word traveled fast, Catherine thought to herself.

"Catherine, I wasn't expecting you here," Grissom spoke up first, stepping towards Catherine.

"Well, I'm here, Gil," she answered, her eyes desperate.

"Cath…" he trailed off, looking at her critically. It was obvious she hadn't been sleeping well, if at all, as the dark circles under her eyes betrayed the wide-eyed alert look she gave him. She looked thinner, too, Grissom couldn't help but notice. He watched as she subtly tugged on her jeans, not meeting his eyes for a brief second. Grissom stepped closer, bringing his lips to her ear as he placed a hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry about Sam," he told her, his voice so soft that only she could hear him.

Please don't do this to me, Gil, she silently pleaded, fighting to control her emotions. "Who am I with?" she repeated, ignoring his last statement.

Catherine noticed the way everyone's gazes seemed to suddenly be avoiding her. Greg was fascinated by the coffee pot, Sara and Nick were enamored with their shoes, and Warrick was staring at some point past her left shoulder. She locked gazes with him, the tears that were threatening to spring to her eyes suddenly making an appearance.

"I…come on, Catherine. Let's go talk in my office," Grissom finally said after a long, awkward pause. "Greg, I'll meet you at my truck, okay?"

"Okay," Greg replied softly, not sparing a second glance at Catherine as he ducked by her in the doorway. Sara and Nick followed suit, neither of them bothering to give Catherine a look either. Warrick trailed by slower, giving his friend a gentle squeeze on the shoulder.

His light eyes met hers for the second time in seconds, and Catherine had to choke back a sob. There was so much intensity in his gaze. "Call me if you need anything, okay, Cat?" he asked softly, placing a hand on her shoulder. Warrick felt terrible at how he had reacted when he was looking at the picture of Lindsey. He knew that Catherine had been frantic about finding her daughter, and the only thing he could think to say to Catherine was to instruct her to get a cup of tea. Even when they had found Lindsey, Warrick's harsh voice still ran through his mind as he all but chastised Catherine about not touching Lindsey in order to get a conviction. Warrick could only imagine how hard it had been for Catherine to kneel before her daughter for agonizing seconds, not being able to make contact until he had gotten the tape off Lindsey's mouth and hands.

"I will," Catherine finally answered, covering his hand with hers for a moment before turning her eyes to Gil.

He looked as if he had aged ten years in the last day. Catherine wasn't sure if it was because of the new case that he had stumbled upon or the fact that she had suffered a personal trauma. She silently followed Gil to his office, standing in the doorway and crossing her arms as Gil leaned against his desk.

"Gil, please don't do this to me!" Catherine blurted out before he could even get a word out. "I can't go home and sit there and stare at the walls. I don't want to do that, Gil. I need something to preoccupy my time so I can get my head around this and figure out how I'm going to tell Lindsey that her grandfather, her beloved Pop-Pop, was brutally murdered. If you don't put me in the field, then I'll go lock myself in my office and do paperwork but I am not leaving this building or going home for eight hours," Catherine rambled on. Gil stared at her bleakly as her brave façade was broken, and the tears streamed down her cheeks. "God damn it," Catherine swore, jamming her palm under her eyes as she whirled away from Gil, facing the door as she fought her emotions. She pounded her fist against her thigh in frustration before turning back to Gil.

He closed his eyes, exhaustion written across his face. "Catherine…I'm so sorry for your loss," he began quietly once he forced his eyes open. "And while I'm doing this against my better judgment, I'm not going to send you home. We can always use more eyes at the scene."

Catherine nodded slowly. "Thank you, Gil."

"However…if I see fit that I need to take you off the case, I will," Gil continued gently. "This case is about the victim. If you start to get too emotional, I'm sending you home."

"Okay," Catherine said softly.

Gil took a deep breath, pushing off his desk. "Come on, Cath. Get your kit and I'll brief you in the truck."

It took every ounce of her willpower not to sob a response. Not trusting her voice, she simply nodded and rushed out of his office, silently making her way to her own office. She ignored the looks of sympathy that people shot her way, unlocking her office hastily. Catherine blindly located her kit in the dark before retreating, not bothering to lock her office back up. Her purse was locked safely in her locker, and there was nothing in her office that she was worried could be stolen. Add to that, her file cabinets and desk drawers were also locked.

She made her way into the parking lot, noticing that Grissom and Greg were leaning up against the Denali. Catherine almost wanted to laugh, as they both looked extremely uncomfortable as they waited for her. Nevertheless, she offered them a brave smile as she walked up to them. "Let's get this show on the road, shall we?" Catherine asked with what she hoped was a soothing tone. The smile she offered didn't quite reach her eyes, but she was making an effort to put her colleagues at ease.

"Sure, Cath," Gil answered, returning her smile. "You want to drive?"

"No, I'm fine," she answered with a wave of her hand. "I'll ride in the back, Greg."

"Are you sure?" Greg asked. It was unwritten CSI law that the person with the most seniority always rode shotgun. However, tonight, Catherine was afraid that one sideways glance would cause Grissom to stop the car and head right back to the lab.

"Yeah, Greg, it's fine," Catherine said, trying to keep the impatience out of her tone. Ignoring the look that Greg and Grissom exchanged, she swung her kit into the open trunk, reaching up on her toes to shut the trunk. "You guys ready?" Catherine asked, desperation laced in her voice. She needed to get away from the lab and the memories of the last few hours. Less than four hours before, Sam had died in her arms. She needed something to block her mind from the pain that was filling her heart.

Not waiting for a response, she pulled herself into the Denali, buckling herself in before Grissom or Greg even had a chance to get into the truck. Seconds later, they entered, and the trio was on the way.

"What do we have with the case?" Catherine asked, breaking the awkward silence that had fallen in the space of the large vehicle. She knew that Greg wanted to say something about Sam, but just didn't know how to bring up the subject. So instead of dancing around the white elephant in the truck, she simply turned their attention to the case at hand.

Grissom cleared his throat. "The victim was discovered by her teenage daughter, lying dead on the floor of her living room. She had been choked with the wire from the telephone," he told Catherine.

She sucked in a deep breath, her thoughts immediately going to Lindsey and how terrifying it must have been for the girl to discover her mother dead. As a member of law enforcement, she knew that her risks to be attacked or stalked by a suspect were high…hell, it had happened to her once…and the thought of Lindsey discovering her lifeless body sent chills of fear and guilt down her spine.

Choking back a sob, Catherine closed her eyes and asked, "Any suspects?"

Her voice still came out strangled, and Grissom's eyes shot to the backseat. Catherine forced her eyes open, keeping her gaze steady and emotionless as she met his eyes. Grissom maintained eye contact for a few moments before watching the dark, desolate road again. "I don't know yet," Grissom finally answered. "We're only about ten minutes away, though. We'll know soon enough."

Catherine nodded wordlessly, looking out her window. An uncomfortable silence filled the truck once again, but no one even bothered to attempt to break the silence.

Long minutes seemed like hours before Gil finally pulled up to a house. The dark night was broken by the red and blue lights that were dancing across houses and trees. Neighbors sleepily stood outside their houses, wondering what could possibly be disturbing the peace of the night.

Grissom barely had the car in park before Catherine jumped out of the Denali, not wanting to be in the stifling vehicle for any longer. She made her way over to Brass and a couple of uniforms. "What do we have here?" she asked, the authority in her voice betraying the quaking of her heart.

Brass reeled, his hard eyes registering surprise at seeing Catherine standing in front of him. "I…Catherine, what are you doing here?" Brass asked.

"Working," Catherine answered simply, sensing Grissom and Greg behind her. Brass' eyes shot over Catherine's right shoulder, and she knew without looking that Grissom had shaken his head slightly. She continued staring at Brass, repeating, "What do we have here?"

"The uh…" Brass cleared his throat uncomfortably. "The victim is a forty-two year old woman. Her name is Christine Danielson. Her daughter…" Brass paused as he flipped through his notes for a name, "Lillian Danielson, claims that she just got home from the movies and found her mother dead on the ground."

"How old is the daughter?" Catherine asked.

"Fifteen," Brass responded.

Catherine reeled at this. She's the same age as Lindsey. Nevertheless, she kept her face emotionless. She didn't want to give Grissom any reason to take her off the case.

"Where is the victim?" Grissom questioned.

"She's in the living room. We've actually run into a little problem."

"What's that?" Greg spoke up.

"The daughter is holding her mother's body and is refusing to let go. She's grief stricken, and won't let anyone near her mother," Brass told them. "My officers don't want to try to disengage the girl because they are worried about destroying crime scene evidence."

"Where are they?" Catherine asked before Grissom could say anything.

Brass gave her a wary look, managing to not flick his gaze back to Grissom. "They're right through the doorway there," he informed the trio.

Catherine nodded, determinedly making her way to the door, only to be halted by someone's hand on her arm. She looked back, not surprised to see Grissom staring intently at her.

"Catherine," he started, trailing off.

She gaze him a steely look, shaking his hand off her arm. "Grissom. I'm not going to do anything rash. I promise. I just want to get a hand on the scene," she told him. "So you can either do the same, or you can prevent me from doing my job."

Surprise registered on Gil's face at her straightforwardness. Normally, he would dress her down for her attitude, but seeing as everything she had been through the past week was fraying on her nerves, he cut her some slack. Gil nodded, warning in his eyes to cool her jets.

"Thank you," Catherine said softly before turning back and entering the house.

She made her way down the short hallway towards the living room. A flash of white ran before Catherine's eyes as she looked at the young girl cradling her mother's lifeless body, tears streaming down her face.

The walls seemed to be closing in around Catherine, the air suddenly thick with heat.

She was back in the parking lot.

"No! Sam, look out!" she managed to scream. Sam whirled around, his body on autopilot as he stepped in front of Catherine, shielding her from the bullets that erupted from Joe Hirschoff's gun. Sam's body jerked, falling backwards into Catherine.

She struggled to hold him up, falling to the ground under his weight. She was dimly aware of one of Sam's bodyguards shooting Hirschoff, focusing only on the man that was cradled in her lap.

"No! Somebody call an ambulance!" she yelled. Catherine pressed her hands against Sam's wounds, watching the life trickle from his eyes at her futile attempt to save his life.

"Sam! Don't die on me."

A hand on her arm jerked Catherine back to the present. Wild eyes met Gil's, and he looked at her, a disapproving look mixed with concern etched on his features. "Catherine," he began, only to be cut off when she violently pulled her arm away.

She didn't speak to anyone as she walked up to the pair, kneeling down before Lillian and Christine. "Hi, Lillian," Catherine began. "My name is Catherine."

"I don't care who you are!" Lillian's voice was bordering on hysterical, her arms wrapped around her mother's body. "You're not touching her!"

"Honey, I'm not going to touch her just yet. But we need to process the scene and try to find some clues that will tell us who hurt your mother, okay?" Catherine told Lillian. "So can you let go of your mother?"

"I don't want to!" Lillian sobbed. "She's all that I have! I have nothing left!"

"Honey, it will be okay," Catherine tried to reason. "It will take time, but you will one day be strong."

"How do you know?!" Lillian yelled at Catherine. "You don't know me! You don't know what I'm going through! How could you possibly know?!"

Lillian's words stung Catherine, and she had to swallow slightly to keep herself from breaking down. "Lillian…I just lost my father a few hours ago," Catherine admitted softly, her voice kept low so that only the teenager could hear what she was saying. "So I think that I can relate to your feelings right now." Lillian snapped her tear filled gaze to Catherine's. The older woman's eyes shone with unshed tears, and she offered a small smile. "My friend David over there is going to look at your mom, okay?" she asked, nodding her head towards David Phillips, who was watching the scene before him sadly. He had heard about Sam and felt nothing but respect and sympathy for Catherine. "The sooner we look at your mom, the sooner we can try to figure out what happened to her and catch the person who did this," Catherine continued.

Lillian stared up at Catherine, her eyes filled with pain. "You're not going to find the person," Lillian said softly, numbness spreading across her body. "You won't find them. You people never do! This isn't television or the movies! This is real life and you won't ever bring my mom justice!"

"Come on, honey," Catherine coaxed, placing a clammy hand on Lillian's arm. "Just let her go."

With that, Lillian suddenly let go of her mother, launching herself towards Catherine. She braced herself at the sudden impact, falling to her backside, shocked when the young girl gripped at her CSI vest, sobbing.

She wasn't sure what to do, looking up at Grissom and Greg with a surprised look on her face. They simply stared back, the younger of the two finally making a move to pull Lillian off of Catherine. She simply shook her head, however, hesitantly rubbing Lillian's back. "It's okay, Lillian," Catherine soothed. "It's okay."

It was going to be a long night.

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Catherine tiredly drove home, the adrenaline of the night wearing off as she maneuvered her car through the back roads that led to her house. She had called Lindsey's school a little while ago and told them that Sam had died, and as a result, Lindsey wouldn't be into school today and possibly the next couple of days. The officials at the school extended their sympathies and told Catherine to inform them if she needed anything.

Her hands shook as she drove, the inevitable of telling Lindsey about her grandfather inching closer with each mile that she drove. Catherine felt ill and dizzy, and for a moment she wondered if she was having a delayed reaction to the car accident just days before. After all, she had whacked her head against the steering wheel before the airbag deployed, as evidenced by the gash at her hairline.

Catherine swallowed slightly, realizing that she was terrified of telling Lindsey what had happened to Sam. She knew that her daughter loved her grandfather and with the trauma Lindsey had suffered the last couple days, she wasn't going to take the news well.

Guilt washed over Catherine as she thought back to the accident. She was pretty sure that she hadn't blacked out, but the mere seconds that passed between the actual crash and the two thugs taking Lindsey seemed unimaginable. Catherine's hands gripped the steering wheel as she wondered what kind of mother allowed her daughter to be kidnapped…

A car horn honking caused Catherine to jump. She glared in the rearview mirror, punching the gas of her new sports car and tearing out into the intersection, leaving the driver of the pickup truck that she had apparently offended in a cloud of smoke. She hadn't even realized she had stopped, her body moving on autopilot. Catherine flinched slightly, her eyes shooting to the left.

No matter what she told anyone, the accident had shaken her. When she was driving, Catherine found herself glancing out the windows continuously, searching for cars that were aimed at her vehicle. At any second she expected her body to be jerked as if she were on a roller coaster ride after someone t-boned or rear ended or broadsided her car.

Catherine felt like her head was going to explode by the time that she got to her house. She eased her stiff body out of the Mustang, stretching a little as she stared at her house. Lindsey sat inside, waiting for her mother. Catherine had called Lindsey earlier and told her that she wasn't going to school. Despite Lindsey's protests and questions, Catherine had firmly informed her that she would explain what was wrong when she got home.

Every muscle protested as Catherine made her way into her house. Her back, ribs, and neck still ached from the jolt that had occurred when her car was struck. Her knees creaked with every step, the many years of squatting and standing at crime scenes…not to mention dancing…finally seemingly catching up to Catherine. She silently resolved to herself that she would purchase some non-heeled shoes after Sam's funeral in an attempt to salvage her calves and kneecaps. Heels gave her some advantage when going face to face with uncooperative suspects, and Catherine hated to give that up. She also loved the way that her legs looked longer thanks to heels, and she felt sexy as she sauntered up to a crime scene, but vanity be damned if she was going to have double knee replacement surgery before she was fifty.

With a slight sigh, Catherine set her keys down on the kitchen table, her trained ears picking up on the fact that the television was playing. Saying a quick prayer that God would help her through telling Lindsey what had happened to Sam, she made her way into the living room. "Hey, Linds," Catherine called tiredly.

Lindsey was sitting on the couch, watching the news. She brought her gaze to Catherine's, glaring at her mother, unshed tears shining in the younger Willows' eyes.

Confused, Catherine looked at the television…

…And the headline that crawled across the bottom was enough to send a cold chill down Catherine's spine.

Casino Mogul Sam Braun Murdered

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End 1/?