Sara walked through the lab with the intention of depositing the bloody blanket off at DNA before indulging in her sandwiches. She walked into the DNA lab and saw that the person's back towards her was not Selma's.
He quickly whipped around, a look of fear on his face, like a naughty child who'd been caught sneaking cookies from the jar. "Sara," he smiled, "what can I do for you?"
"Urrm... why are you working DNA, shouldn't you be processing the victim's clothes?" Sara seemed a little suspicious, she knew how much Greg hated being confined to the lab yet somehow he seemed to have volunteered himself to work there.
"I told her she could take a long break, I owe her a favour and besides, I've already processed the girl's clothes," he said smugly. "Not a single stray fibre and all the blood on it is her own."
"Do we have an identity?"
"No hits in CODIS, but Brass is releasing a description of her to the media, hopefully someone who knows her might be able to identify her."
"What a horrible way to find out your child's been beaten," Sara remarked sadly. She felt her gut twang as she remembered showing parents the bodies of their children in the past, it was always a harrowing experience, one she would never want to put herself through. "What about the glass found in the wounds, have you identified that?"
"Hodges is working on it as we speak. So tell me, what can I do for you?"
"I want you to analyse this," she pulled out the blue blanket from the evidence bag and handed it to Greg. "Oh and can you get this done please too," she retrieved the first blood sample from the drops which Catherine had found on the grass by the side of the road where the girl was found.
"Okay, I'll get that to you as fast as I can," Greg smiled cheekily at her and swivelled the chair round and returning to work.
"Greg," she said softly. He turned his head round warily. "Is something wrong?"
"Nope," he replied almost instantly, giving her another goofy grin, "all's well over here."
She nodded and left cautiously, turning back to check whether Greg had returned to what he'd been previously doing before she'd entered the lab.
"You can stop watching me," he said, not even looking over his shoulder. Sara frowned and left him to his devices, making a quick detour to the break room before she'd start sieving through the missing children's database.
"Are you finding any more blood Catherine?" Ray called out to his supervisor as he continued to scan the area with his flashlight, searching for tiny droplets which had fallen on the grass and dirt. "I think I've lost the trail over here."
They'd been searching the area for a couple of hours now and were around four hundred metres from the housing estate near to where the girl had been found. Apart from a trail of blood drops presumable emanating from the scene there was little physical evidence to suggest that the girl had been there, let alone attacked there.
"No I haven't," she sighed and got up off the floor, swishing her hair back and stretching out her legs looking exhausted.
"I'm beginning to think that this might not be the victim's route," Ray deduced.
"What makes you think that?"
"I'd have expected us to find, you know... a bit more than we have. I realise the glass may have kept her from bleeding out, but we've only got a few blood drops, no shoe impressions and hardly anything to suggest that this was where our victim came from."
"What about these?" Catherine asked, holding up a pair of tattered and bloody shoes, which looked like a match to the Baby Doe's. "We never found any shoes at the scene, these look to be her size."
"I'll take back what I said," Ray muttered and continued to scan the ground. "Shoe impression here." He photographed it and showed the picture to Catherine who looked at the underlying patters on the bottom of the shoes.
"Well the patterns match," Catherine commented, "now if we can match the shoes to the girl then we can prove that she was there."
"I guess that's my theory out the window then," Ray chuckled as they continued walking along the plains, eventually reaching a cul-de-sac surrounded by pleasant two story houses. "I've got more blood here." He photographed the puddles of blood dotted around the pavement and tested them for blood. The pink cotton swab telling him a positive test had come out of it.
Whilst it appeared that they may have found their primary crime scene, the blood trail had ceased to lead them to any of the houses in the near vicinity, of which there were at least twenty of them to have a look at. Knocking on each of them individually was out of the question, because even if they did get the right house they would have needed much more for a warrant to search that house.
"I don't see any houses with smashed windows," Catherine pointed out, looking at the front of each house. "She may have fallen out of one round the back, but I'm not entirely sure whether we are looking in the right place at the moment.
"Come on Catherine, this must be where she was attacked," Ray had quickly abandoned his previous theory, "is there a name in the shoes you found?"
"I was hoping to find one as well but, nope. Nothing."
Catherine's phone began ringing, sighing she picked it up and answered it, "Willows."
"Miss Willows," a sing-song female voice spoke on the other side, "I'm Doctor Leaven, I've been treating your Baby Doe."
"Have you got an update on her?" Catherine asked eagerly, praying for the best.
"I'm afraid she didn't make it," Leaven replied sadly. Catherine took her mouth away from the receiver and swore loudly, Ray's facial expression became glum as he realised what the problem was. "I've been informed that Doctor Robbins is examining her now, we've sent all samples and X-rays to your crime lab," she continued.
"Okay, thanks," Catherine replied, trying not to show too much anger in her voice.
"There's one more thing as well," Leaven said, preventing Catherine from hanging up.
"What might that be?" She asked.
"Nick Stokes, he was err... with the girl, when she died," Catherine swore to herself mentally. As soon as she'd heard about the case she was uneasy at sending Nick to the hospital, given how he was emotionally affected by cases involving children. "We've had to escort him off the premises."
"Escort him?" Catherine cried with disbelief.
"He wasn't taking the news very well," Leaven said, trying to make it sound better than it probably was.
Knowing it would be unprofessional to unleash her frustration over the phone Catherine simply thanked the doctor for passing on the information before calmly hanging up the phone. Catherine let out a deep breath and composed herself.
"Is something the matter, Catherine?" Ray asked calmly.
"We need to get back to the lab," Catherine replied cooly, "we're dealing with a homicide."
Ray obediently nodded and collected up his kit, the two of them heading back the way they came in silence. Catherine pulled out her phone and furiously stabbed the keypad as she called Nick.
"Nick, it's Catherine. I want to see you in my office. We need to talk."
"Your mommy's on her way dear. Can you tell me your name please?"
"Mommy... mommy, where's mommy?"
"Mommy's coming sweetie..."
Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep...
"Mom... no, I want my mom!"
"Mommy isn't here Nicholas, mommy isn't here!"
"No... no, I don't want to... stop it... no!"
"Don't make me tell mommy you've been a naughty boy."
"No... stop it... please..."
Nick awoke in a sweat, well, he thought he awoken until he'd realised he hadn't dropped off to sleep at all. A car honked behind him, and he realised that the car park barrier had been raised and he could drive ahead and out of the hospital car park.
Trying to wipe away his memories for the time being he checked his cell phone. One new answer phone message, from Catherine. He groaned as he let the message play in the car, "Nick, it's Catherine. I want to see you in my office. We need to talk."
Nick suddenly had little intention on returning to the crime lab, but not doing so would raise even more alarms. He knew technically he wasn't supposed to stay with the little girl, but he knew morally that he couldn't. She needed someone there. She needed her mom, and her dad. Catherine would understand, he hoped, but he remembered what Greg had tried to tell him earlier that evening, that Catherine had already flagged up Nick's emotional involvements when it came to cases involving children.
Then he remembered the way he'd flipped off in the hospital, he'd kicked over the trash can in a rage, remained uncooperative with the doctors, even aggressive with them. His insistence to sit in the coroner's van with the body bag was the final straw. Then he remembered what the doctor had told him before he left, what the little girl had said in her dying moments:
"She didn't mean to."
Sara felt her eyes begin to ache as she continued to scroll down the list of missing children. She had managed to narrow it down to fifty-three results and had begun comparing them visually to the photo she had been given by the hospital. She was on result number forty-one and she still hadn't even found a close match yet. Looking through each result was both exhausting and disturbing; Sara had never really come to terms just how many children went missing in Las Vegas.
A sudden realisation hit her that many of the children listed had been missing six years, which meant she could have to check back to missing babies back from two thousand and four in order to get a hit. The news that the girl hadn't made it hit the entire lab hard and made them even more determined to catch the attacker turned killer.
"Results from your blood samples," Greg walked in, looking slightly more flustered than normal and placed a file on the desk beside her.
Sara stopped looking through missing persons and started reading the file Greg had given her, "blood drops obtained at crime scene, are a match to our Baby Doe," Greg nodded, confirming the findings. "Okay that says she was there at the scene." She flicked over the page and frowned at the next set of results, "blood from the blanket is not human?"
"Nope, it's cat blood," Greg answered her question before it had left her mouth, "I found some hairs on the jumper when I examined it, I sent it to trace and Hodges confirmed they were cat hairs."
"Why would someone want to kill a cat?" Sara asked mortified.
"Well it doesn't prove that the cat is dead," Greg consoled her, "but, the weird part of this. I found some epithelials on the blanket as well." He slammed another piece of paper on the table next to Sara, who glanced at it. Before she had had a chance to read it, Greg quickly snatched the paper back and passed her a different piece, "sorry, wrong results."
Sara tried to ignore what had just happened and continued to read the results, "the epithelials from the blanket are a paternal match to our victim?"
"That's what the DNA's saying."
"We need to identify this girl quickly."
"Brass has already released a description and a photo to the media, let's hope someone steps forwards."
"Nicholas, it's not time for hide and seek... it's bath time... come on Nicholas... don't make me come and find you..."
Nick bolted up quickly, realising that he'd let his thoughts engulf him again. He saw that Catherine was looking at him from behind her desk, her look expressed concern, unlike the chagrin which she had implied in her answer phone message.
"Nick, I need to know if you can handle this case," Catherine spoke to him softly.
"Yes I can," Nick replied almost instantaneously, "of course I can. I want to find her killer."
"There's a big difference between wanting to help and being able to help Nick," she said more firmly, "and I'm afraid that your want to help is starting to take over. You shouldn't have stayed at the hospital Nick..."
"And what? Let her die alone?" Nick began to raise his voice. "I know what it feels like face death alone, I've been through it and she does not deserve to face that same ordeal..."
"I was just a phone call away," Catherine interjected, equally beginning to raise her voice, "I don't want to have to stick a homing device on you to know wherever you are. You know what? I'd have said yes, I'd have said you could stay with the girl and I agree, nobody should have to go through that ordeal alone. But if you're going to be ethical about it, you need to behave like you are, I shouldn't be hearing that you've had to have been escorted out the..."
"Oh, so I'm not allowed to get too attached to my cases but you are? How many times has your work been called into question because you've had personal issues with your case? Why should I listen to someone who's so hypocritical?"
"So that you don't make the same mistakes that I did," Catherine said, more quietly. Nick found himself lost for words at that point. "You're right; I have gotten emotionally involved in a lot of my cases. With Eddie. With Sam. But you know what happens when you let your emotions run you astray? You make mistakes. You have your thoughts tampering away at your mind and you end up making the simplest errors. Do you remember what I did? I blew up the lab; I almost killed one of our co-workers I could have injured even more!"
Nick nodded slowly, realising that Catherine was right, he thought back to earlier that evening and began kicking himself that he had let himself get into this state of mind. "Catherine," he said softly, "I don't want to be taken off this case."
She smiled at him, "that's good, because I don't plan on taking you off it," Nick smiled back, relieved at her decision, "however, consider this as a warning. You're a damn good CSI Nick and never forget it."
"Thanks Catherine," he said getting up to leave, "this isn't going on my record is it."
"Nope, this isn't a reprimand, it's just a chat. Oh and by the way Nick, I'd just like say, you were never alone in that coffin Nick and you know it, and it's thanks to yourself, that our Baby Doe wasn't alone either."
Nick left her office feeling slightly more elevated and determined to catch the girl's killer. Gone were the memories of her final moments, Nick was becoming focused on the case and a sense of determination overwhelmed him.
As he walked out towards the break room he saw Brass walking in the opposite direction flanked by a couple, who showed emotions of both distress and hope. His heart sunk immediately as he came face to face with what could be the parents of the young girl.
"This is Mr and Mrs Coolidge," Brass introduced them to Nick, "they're not Baby Doe's parents but they recognise the girl from the broadcast, they're going to come and identify her."
Nick nodded as Brass stepped into Catherine's office relaying the news, leaving the three of them standing around in an awkward silence.
"I've been a coroner for a long time, a very long time, but this is by far the most brutal attack I have seen inflicted upon an infant," Doc Robbins told Ray sadly as he slid the girl's body into a cooling vault.
"What type of injuries has she sustained?" Ray asked the coroner who began glancing at the x-rays pinned up on the wall.
"Metaphyseal fractures to both humeri, which are consistent with long periods of abuse. Her shoulder was dislocated not too long ago, and all of her ribs have sustained fractures."
"All of them?" Ray asked in disbelief.
"All of them," Doc Robbins answered, "victim suffered multiple contusions, bruises, more breaks and fractures further down the body."
"What kind of person can do that to someone?"
"A monster. Internally, things don't look much better; most of her vitals were relatively intact although at some point her spleen was ruptured, causing internal haemorrhaging, but whether it was the fatal blow I can't tell you."
"So COD is undetermined?"
"I can't identify it in this case, but what I can tell you was this was not a single event, this child was abused. I found signs of previous fractures healing; this is particularly visible around the radius and ulna." He pointed to these fractures on the x-ray.
"What about the glass wounds?"
"Well unlike last week's window casualty, her incident occurred pre-mortem although no real serious damage was done, it surely would have sped up her death. Interestingly unlike previous abuse cases, this girl was fed well. Healthy colon, no apparent signs of malnutrition."
"So this girl was just essentially someone's punching bag."
Doc Robbins nodded solemnly. The door opened and Brass and two other people, a couple, walked into the morgue.
"Excuse me Doc, Mr and Mrs Coolidge are here to identify the body of our Baby Doe," Brass whispered to the medical examiner, who nodded and obliged to his request, pulling the body out of the cooling vault and slowly pulling back the cloth to reveal the girl.
Mrs Coolidge immediately looked away upon seeing the girl's battered face, crying into her husband's shoulder. "Can we see her left leg please?" Mr Coolidge asked. Doc Robbins placed the cloth back over her face and lifted the bottom, revealing her left leg. Mr Coolidge leant down and looked carefully in between two bruises above her kneecap. He began nodding, tears welling in his eyes, "that's her... that's Kelly; she has the birthmark on her leg."
"What are Kelly's parents called?" Brass asked the couple.
"Jack and Edith Melling, we're good friends. They're away on business in South Carolina, and will be landing at McCarron in about an hour."
"Okay, we'll send some units to bring them down here when they land, thank you both for coming down and identifying her. I'm sorry how difficult this has been for you," Brass said sympathetically, leading the now bawling Mrs Coolidge out of the morgue. He thought to himself as he took the couple back towards PD, 'if this is how the friends are reacting, I'm dreading speaking to the parents.'
A/N: I have two apologies to make:
-Firstly, I'm sorry how late this story has been put up, I've been getting so far behind lately, it's been a busy time for me but I managed to get this chapter done today.
-Secondly, I'm sorry to say that there won't be an update tomorrow, I'm out all day and there is no chance I'll get part three done, so I will definitely update on Monday and should get part four done by Tuesday. Sorry for the extra long wait!
I hope you enjoyed the chapter, I know it's not a pleasant story but I wanted to explore Nick's character a little more and really give him an emotional case. It's certainly going to be getting a lot more interesting from here onwards. Reviews are always welcome, thanks for reading! :)