Sara and Greg walked into the DNA lab having collected plenty of blood samples from Dena Welburn's house and handed them in for analysis. They figured that Selma had her back turned to them and hadn't noticed them entering the lab. Sara called out to her but there was no response.
They walked up to her and gently patted her on the shoulder, causing her to leap back with fright. Once she saw who had disturbed her she smiled with relief, "thank God, I thought, it might have been someone out to get me," she took out her headphones and mimed someone shooting a gun.
"Don't worry, the bad guys can't get us in here," Sara remarked, deciding it wasn't the best to tell her about the time when some agents shot up the lab to steal a body.
"Have you got our DNA samples for us?" Greg asked.
"Sure thing," Selma collected up the results in her hands and passed them over to the CSIs. "I only found two donors in all the areas you processed," she continued, "I've got blood belonging to the victim, Kelly Melling as well as blood belonging to the babysitter, Dena Welburn."
"That implies that she never looked after any more children," Sara said.
"Good," Greg remarked, "I don't want to have to do another case like this one ever again. Did you find anything else at all?"
"One thing actually," Selma spoke, rummaging through her notes and reading off from another piece of paper, "I know it's not my area of expertise, but I sent the blood to tox, see if there was anything which might have explained her aggressive behaviour."
"And did you find anything?"
"Henry ran a full tox screen and found rather low quantities of glucose and high amounts of testosterone and adrenalin."
"Testosterone?" Sara exclaimed with surprise, "how the hell did that get there?"
"Well the low quantities of glucose suggest she was hypoglycaemic, maybe her medication is wrong?"
Greg smirked, "Or maybe she's secretly hiding a pair of love apples and..." Selma began to snigger but Sara gave him a cold look, "sorry, that was unprofessional of me." He shuffled away nervously as Selma continued to laugh much to Sara's disapproval.
"Either way," Selma composed herself, "adrenalin and testosterone can induce violent fits of explosive rage; you see it a lot in cases of road rage."
"So, this woman had no control over her emotions?"
"That's a bit generalised," Sara pointed out, "I'm sure she was aware of her condition but why on earth was she allowing herself to look after the child in the first place?" Her pager began beeping; she looked at it and gave a satisfactory smile. "Hodges has the results from the glass; I'll go and get them off him."
"Hold on, wait up," Greg said as Sara made a beeline to Trace but a hand caught his shoulder as Selma pulled him back.
"Wait a second Sanders, I need to talk to you about something," for the first time he'd met her, she seemed serious, "for a former member of the DNA lab you seem to have forgotten every match is automatically saved in the database." Greg's stomach dropped as she opened up the database and he saw his own DNA profile staring back at him on the monitor. "Now I presume you weren't just testing your own DNA for kicks so you better start explaining."
Greg realised he was faced with a dilemma, if he told her about the letters, she could intervene, the whole team could end up investigating and the letters had specifically told him not to call for help. On the other hand if he didn't tell her, Selma would have to report an improper use of the lab equipment which would lead to automatic suspension and possible dismissal. Not to mention, he'd already been in trouble in the past for doing a paternity test on one of his co-workers and although he was never punished for it, it was something they could pick up on.
"Okay, I'll spill the beans but you've got to promise not to tell anyone," Greg lowered his voice to a whisper. Selma looked at him suspiciously for a moment before nodding slowly. "I've been getting letters, in Norwegian. Well, I wouldn't say I was completely fluent in the language but from what I know they sound like threats, warnings. They all seem to end in 'you better watch your back Hojem.'"
"Hojem?" Greg had explained his Norwegian heritage to the new DNA tech in her first couple of weeks but some facts it had appeared had already slipped her mind
"Mom's maiden name. They started off sending them to the lab, and then two weeks ago I started getting them in my own mail."
"Have you got any DNA from the letter, the stamp? The seal?"
"No, they don't put stamps on them, I've been having to pay for my own death threats," he laughed hollowly, "but yesterday they sent me this." He pulled out a piece of paper stained with what looked like blood, smeared into a shape which somewhat resembled an eagle. "I ran the blood in CODIS, at first there was no match but when I ran it through the departmental database, it came up with a profile which had lots of similarities to it... mine."
"What does that mean?" Selma asked cautiously.
"I think it means," Greg gulped nervously, "that Papa Olaf was murdered."
"I hope you've got some good news for me," Sara beamed at Hodges as she strolled into the Trace lab.
"I always have good news," he replied pompously, "once again, the Trace tech has cracked the case. The refractive index of the glass used in the door is an exact match to the glass found in your victim. The psycho babysitter is your killer."
"Wow, you know you might be one of the most ignorant men I've ever met," she scorned at him.
"And you my dear are perhaps one of most detached women I've ever had the pleasure of meeting," he retorted back with a smirk. Sara gave him a look of warning which warned him that he was walking on thin ice, "I heard you didn't cry in The Lion King, that puts you and me on the same level."
"Get off your high horse Hodges."
"Admit it Sara, the woman's nuts." She responded only with a sinister glare before walking out the lab wordlessly leaving Hodges muttering to himself, "just as I thought."
For the second time in twenty four hours, Nick found himself walking alongside Brass down the corridors of Desert Palms hospital, despite the intentions being different, Nick was just as anxious to find out what the babysitter had to say just as much as he was feeling about viewing Kelly.
A doctor came out of the ward to meet them both, "Miss Welburn is currently in a stable and relaxed situation, she has been given the appropriate medication however she may still feel a little weak."
"She's not going to, you know, lash out again is she?" Brass asked.
"We believe that her fits of rage were induced by improper medication for her hypoglycaemia. We found high quantities of adrenalin and testosterone in her bloodstream which was the likely cause of her fits."
"Thanks doctor, we shall be conducting our own investigation into Miss Welburn's condition."
The two of them walked into the room where they saw Dena Welburn alert and awake, as if she was expecting them. Nick noticed the handcuffs, chaining her to the bed and heard the ominous beeping of the heart monitor once more. She looked at Captain Brass and muttered just one word to him wearily, "Thanks."
Brass nodded and he and Nick pulled up a chair and sat down by her bedside. "Miss Welburn, we have a few questions to ask regarding your condition and what happened on Friday night."
"I was diagnosed with hypoglycaemia last December and was recommended to a doctor for some medication," Dena began, anticipating Brass' first question, "two weeks later, I changed my doctor."
"Why did you change your doctor?"
"He moved away to Seattle, I went out looking for one myself. I eventually found someone in private practise who had the medication," her eyes began to well up slightly as she continued the next part of the story with some difficulty, "he said... he said that the dose was stronger, which would treat my illness faster but that I might experience some side-effects."
"Did he mention the violent fits being a side-effect?" Brass asked. Dena shook her head.
"He mentioned I might black out from time to time, little did I know that I'd black out every time. I took each pill daily and each time I'd... I'd wake up surrounded by junk, or a broken mirror, my hands covered in blood."
"Why did you take in Kelly, if you knew about your fits?" Nick spoke up for the first time.
"I'm not a greedy person," she explained, beginning to cry, "these pills, they were expensive and I really believed they could work... looking after Kelly, I thought that it might help me speed up my recovery. I genuinely believed they would work and I was gullible to do so."
Nick noted that her reaction seemed genuine and her tale seemed logical. Tears were beginning to stream down her face and Nick felt real sympathy for the woman, who was proving to be an unlikely second victim in this heinous crime.
"I begged the Mellings to take her to another sitter but they were simply too busy to go out looking for another. Kelly and I, we became well... friends. Do you know what she told me last week? She told me that I was like the mother she'd never had. And now... I've killed the daughter I never had!" She began to howl with tears and Nick outstretched his arm and took Dena's handcuffed hand into his, just in the same way he had to Kelly earlier that day.
"Tell us about your relationship with Kelly," Brass said calmly once Dena's tears began to subside.
"We were close and she began to get used to my fits, she'd hide up in one of the rooms whilst I would stay downstairs and have my fit. Then she'd come down and help me tidy up, sometimes she'd... she'd sing to me. Rock-a-bye Baby was her favourite, not only she was like my daughter, but you could say she was my nurse as well."
"Why didn't you check yourself into a hospital?" Brass asked.
Dena began shaking her head, in shame of her actions, "I... I couldn't afford to, not when I was paying this doctor for my medication. I didn't even leave the house at all, even my medication was delivered to the house so I didn't have to go out and get it."
"You didn't leave?" Nick asked curiously, "not at all?"
"There was one time," Dena recollected, "about a month ago. Kelly came home from school looking distraught, she told me there was a dead cat in the road... it had been hit by a car and she wanted to give it a... a proper burial. She brought a blanket with her and carried the cat and together we buried it on the patch of land behind the estate."
"Okay," Brass noted, "can you tell me what was different about Friday night?"
Dena began to quiver again, portraying both shame and regret as she descended into tears again. Brass sighed, he knew that the jury would never convict her, not in her condition and reached up and uncuffed her from the bed. Dena used her free hand to dry away her eyes and began speaking again.
"I took two pills. I don't know why, I was feeling particularly stressed and I knew that Kelly was supposed to be being picked up in the morning. If I'd known how much of a monster I'd have become I'd have... oh, I dunno. I woke up upstairs, there was glass and blood all over the place, Kelly was missing," tears once more began to stream down her face, "I flushed my pills down the toilet and screamed for about an hour and then you guys turned up and I... I lost it..."
Brass nodded his head understandably, he didn't wish to extend this talk any longer than it needed to be and decided to ask one last question, "thank you Miss Welburn for giving us your account of the events, I just need to know your doctor's name."
"His name's Doctor Xavier, his clinic is on Charleston."
"Thank you very much Miss Welburn for your time," he gave her a warming smile.
"Captain," she called out as he and Nick turned to leave, she asked weakly, "am I going to jail?"
Brass looked at Nick and the two exchanged a small nod to each other. It was Nick who spoke up, "as CSIs, it's not our job to take sides, but we believe that you are ultimately not responsible for this tragedy."
What Nick had wanted to say was 'no, no you're going to be fine' although he knew it might not be a promise he'd be able to uphold and would kick himself for an eternity if he'd given her false hope.
The two of them left the room and began walking towards the car park. Halfway down the corridor, Nick suddenly stopped and thought about what he was doing. He thought about Kelly, her life dwindling away as she lay alone in the hospital bed. Then he thought of Dena, her life in the hands of a jury, lying alone in the hospital bed. There were two victims in this event, two vulnerable victims who just needed someone to support them.
I'll be here for you.
He also remembered hearing about Kelly's last words. She didn't mean to.
Nick knew what he had to do; he turned around and dashed down the corridor.
"Nick," he heard Brass shout down the corridor, "what are you doing?"
"She needs someone here," was all he replied as he dashed out of sight.
Brass stood alone in the hallway, he turned to his left and saw DURMAN, LARRY printed on a piece of paper which stood in front of a door. Brass knew what was lying in there and thought about what Nick had said.
She needs someone here. His own thoughts began to come about, Larry Durman needs someone too.
A moment of compassion led Brass to put his hand on the door handle. Realising what he could be putting himself through he quickly withdrew his hand from the handle and picked out his cell phone calling Catherine's number.
"Hey Catherine, it's Brass, I need you and a couple of unis to investigate a Doctor Xavier. He owns a private practise on Charleston... yes, take Ray along with you as well."
He slammed his cell phone shut, peering into the window of the room opposite him. There was a body in there, motionless, but very much alive. With a small growl he snapped his eyes away from the room and focused himself on returning to work, erasing the charred body of Larry Durman from his mind.
Catherine and Ray casually exited from the Denali as Officers Metcalf and Mitchell walked up to the front door of the private practice. Officer Metcalf reached for the door handle and attempted to open it. The door didn't budge. "It looks like nobody's home," he called back to Catherine, planting his face onto the window in order to try and get a better look.
"Break it down," Catherine called out and Metcalf swung out his foot, forcing the door open.
The two officers swarmed into the entrance and within a few moments had declared the scene cleared. Catherine and Ray entered what looked to be a reception area of some sort, however it had been apparent that nobody had stepped foot in it for several months. The room was covered with dust and cobwebs. Magazines and newspapers were scattered around on the tables.
"It looks like someone closed up shop in a hurry," Catherine commented.
Ray picked up several newspapers which lay on the tables in the waiting area. "All of these are from April the twentieth of this year. This place looks as if it has been closed three months."
Catherine walked over to the main reception desk and picked up a photo which had been put on it. She unleashed a scowl of disgust as she showed the picture to Ray. It was a picture of what looked to be Doctor Xavier sat on a beach sipping cocktails, surrounded by waitresses of Orient descent. Catherine read a message written on the back of the photo:
Missing you all so much.
"Sick bastard," Ray spat, "he exploits money from people who trust him and he uses it for his dream getaway."
"I think that's as far as we go," Catherine sighed. Ray looked at her horror-struck.
"So we just let this guy get away with this?" he exclaimed. "This guy has been feeding off of Dena Welburn and god knows how many other patients he's extorted for their hard-earned cash..."
"Well if you can identify that one beach from that photo then go ahead and get him," Catherine responded. "I want this guy as much as you do, but it looks to me as if he's left this country let alone Nevada. I'm sorry Ray, our job is done."
Ray stamped the floor with fury, "sick, son of a bitch," he muttered to himself.
Catherine spoke to him with sadness in her voice, "not everyone deserves a happy ending. And not everyone who deserves one gets one."
Nick heaved a deep sigh as he signed off on his report regarding the death of Kelly Melling. It was a result in which nobody could be satisfied about. The DA had launched an inquest into the mental health of Dena Welburn and they had refused a request to investigate Doctor Xavier, the real perpetrator of the events.
Sara walked into their shared office, "Hey Nick," she spoke to him as two people followed her in, close in tow. "Mr and Mrs Melling are here to speak with you." Nick gestured the couple to take a seat, "I'm gonna take off now."
"Okay Sara, I'll see you tomorrow, have a good afternoon," Nick answered.
"Yeah, errm, you too," she replied hesitantly and left the office, her destination set for home.
"I understand that there are no murder charges in relation to Kelly's death," Mr Melling spoke up first. "Where's Captain Brass, we requested to speak with him?"
"He's off duty," Nick replied as he finished typing up the case report, "and I wanted to have a chat with you myself."
"Is it true though?" Mrs Melling asked eagerly.
"There's going to be an inquest investigating the mental health of Dena Welburn, only then will it be decided whether her case should go to trial." He noticed their faces droop. It was not the answer they were hoping for; Nick thought it was best not to tell them about Doctor Xavier's departure.
"You're Mr Stokes right?" Mr Melling asked, Nick nodded. "I've been told you were with my daughter when she died." Nick nodded again. There was a moment of silence.
"Where were you?" Nick asked out of the blue. The couple looked at him frigidly, "your daughter cried out for her mother and father when she died, where were you?"
"Well we were away on business, like we told Captain..."
"Where were you when Kelly returned home from her first babysitting with Dena?" Nick asked, raising his voice, "where were you when during one of her fits, Dena fractured four of your daughter's ribs? Where were you when Kelly's arm was yanked out of its socket?"
"Are you now accusing us of being bad parents?" Mr Melling retorted furiously.
"No, I'm asking where you were," Nick responded coldly. "It's okay, I know the answer to that. I subpoenaed your travel records. Let's see, East Coast, July fifth to sixteenth. Los Angeles, June twenty-seventh to July second. Florida, June eleventh to twenty-fifth. Texas, June second to June ninth..."
"Okay, stop!" Mrs Melling screeched, on the brink of tears. "Work is always keeping us busy."
"Yeah, and unfortunately you were too pre-occupied with work you had no idea what was happening with your daughter. No idea at all. When was the last time you took your daughter out? When was the last time you read her a story? When was the last time you gave her a bath? This should never have happened and it's something which you should have picked up on!"
"Mr Stokes, you have no right to criticise our parenting..." Mr Melling began.
"With all due respect, that isn't parenting. A parent would notice if their child was being let loose with a woman who c..."
"Enough is enough! Come on dear we're leaving," he seized his wife's hand and dragged her out of the office.
"All she needed was a bath," Nick stood up and called to the furious couple as they left the building, ignoring him completely. He sat down in his chair and felt himself beginning to feel emotional. He placed his hand in his hands, furious thoughts rushing through his head, about people, about ethics. He felt a warm hand place itself on his shoulder.
"Why do you put yourself through this, Nicky?" Catherine asked him gently. "Come on, let's get you home."
She encouraged Nick to collect his stuff and escorted him out to the car park, wiping his tears away with a tissue.
"I was out of line wasn't I," Nick said dejectedly.
"I don't think that was the right thing to say," she began, "but I agree with you."
Nick smiled as the two of them embraced, realising that even when he was at his lowest point that he'd have his supervisor there at his aid. That unlike Kelly and Dena, he was not alone.
"Nick, Nick, what are these?"
"What did you do son?"
Nick sniffled, looking up at his concerned parents as they washed his hair and tended to his bruises.
"Did she hurt you? Tell us Nick, did she abuse you at all?"
He felt his own tears running down his cheeks into the bathwater as he mustered up the courage to tell his parents the grief he'd been through the previous two evenings.
"Yes mom. She hurt me everywhere."
A/N: That is the end of the story. I'd like to apologise once more how long it's taken me to write up but I hope you all thought it was worth the wait.
The next story in the series, Blood Eagle (1x06) will be published on Friday, July 22 and should answer some questions which have been lurking around since the first story. Or will it? ;)
Thank you all for reading and feel free to review and let me know what you thought!