She rose quietly from the desk and made her way to the door. She had signed everything they had wanted her to, admitted to everything they had asked and now she could leave. Finally. The small interrogation rooms favoured by police departments never got any easier to deal with. She had lived too much of her life trapped within four walls and claustrophobia had been something she had suffered with for some time.
She walked quietly from the room and down the corridor, having already told the officers she had wrapped around her little finger that she did not need their assistance in finding her way out. As she rounded the corner she stop at the sight of the slim, dark haired young woman who was watching her, her tormented brown eyes fixed upon her, long arms crossed protectively across her chest.
"Sara." She murmured, moving forwards and gently embracing her daughter.
She could see behind her a tall man with clouds of white hair watching them attentively but he did not say anything, and made no attempts to approach them, and so she refocused on her daughter who had by now broken their embrace.
"What have you done?" she whispered tightly, watching her face carefully for her reaction.
"Don't lie to me...I can tell, I could always tell."
She paused, "Can we go elsewhere?" she asked, quietly,
She watched her daughter's face soften slightly at this and she said, "Sure...Where are you staying?"
Concealing her hurt that her daughter still refused to give her an all-access pass to her life she said, "The Bellagio, you want to go there?"
She nodded, "I'll drive."
Sara led the way to the car park, ignoring the curious glances of her co-workers. It had been a mistake to tell Russell, ever since she had come to Vegas; she had spent all of her time here concealing who she was and who she had been from her colleagues. She had found this increasingly difficult as the years went by but she had always told herself that she had no reason to tell them, that they had no need to know. Now she found herself divulging secrets left right and centre, obliquely telling Catherine what her father had done to her all those years ago and now telling Russell that their latest murder suspect was her mother...Fantastic...
There was no way she would be able to keep this quiet now. Once again, her mother's secrets were coming back to haunt her...
It would have been easy to hate the woman beside her, had they not suffered through the ordeal together and had it not been her who had sacrificed everything to end it. But she would be lying if she said there was no resentment there. She had lived her entire life hiding from secrets that were not hers. Secrets that would tear people apart and had had a good go with her, only to find them resurfacing twenty years later when she was at her most vulnerable.
"He raped you, didn't he?" she said, quietly.
Sara's hands tightened on the steering wheel but her voice was impassive when she said, "Yes...How did you know?"
"He told me last night, I wanted to know if he was lying..."
She stopped the car and they got out, neither of them speaking again until they reached the relative safety of the hotel room. Having seen enough of them in the past few days to last her a lifetime, Sara reluctantly collapsed on the couch, if it was a choice between this and all the complications of Grissom and Catherine that accompanied her apartment, she would choose this. Grissom of course, knew about her mother, knew what she had done and how she felt about her. Catherine had no idea...Yet, she was sure this would all change; she could not hope to keep this secret much longer. She should have told them years ago, should have known that it would come to this...It was too late now.
"What did you do?" Sara asked again, quietly, as her mother settled herself on the chair opposite and handed her a glass of water.
"What I had to." She said, bluntly,
"What do you-"Sara blanched, most of the water in the glass slopped over the edges and onto her lap as she jumped,
"Murder? A little extreme don't you think...The details don't matter...It only matters what they can prove, and they have no more evidence to suggest that I killed him than they did to suggest that he had set you up..."
"Devil's in the details, and if it's there, they'll find it..." she whispered, feeling sick.
"He would have killed you Sara, he was just biding his time but he wanted revenge. This was only the first step, people like that, there's no off switch, he would have continued torturing you until one of you was dead. I just tipped the scales in your favour, whatever happened after I left...Nothing to do with me." She said quietly,
"Is that all it comes down to?" she breathed, "The choice between taking a man's life, and letting him live?"
"I didn't make that choice."
"You did." She said, quietly,
"That was a long time ago Sara...A lot's changed since then."
"You can change all you want; you can't change your past."
"You seem to have had a good go...Thirteen years in Vegas and none of them know."
"They'll know soon enough..."
"Why didn't you tell them?"
"Yes, because you brought me up to be so open and honest about my feelings and what went on behind closed doors." She snapped, "I was raised on secrets, lies and fresh air..." she broke off, angrily, realising this was getting them nowhere.
"They really don't know? About any of it?"
"You must know they don't...Why else would you be Laura Cox again?"
"I thought people might question Sidle..." she said, with a small smile, "You don't want anyone to know who you are you take the name of your dead, abusive ex-husband...I only wanted you to be happy Sara."
"I know...I...I need to know."
"No you don't."
"I'm not a child anymore; you can't expect me just to live with this..."
"I don't expect you to, but I will ask you, what's done is done, whether I killed him or not, it doesn't matter, he's dead Sara...He doesn't care."
"I know, that was always your problem, you cared too much...If you care about me, if you trust me, you'll never ask me that question again, but if you really want the truth, I'll give it to you, if you're sure that's what you want..."
"Nick, Greg, I thought you said you didn't know Laura Cox." Russell said, angrily, catching sight of them as he barrelled round the corner.
"Because we didn't." Greg said, confused,
"Who is she?" Nick asked, curiously,
"You really don't know?" Russell said, quietly,
"What? Russell who is she?"
"What?" Nick and Greg said, together.
"Come on, layout room."
"Hang on, you can't just say something like that and then walk away and decide that you'll call the team and spread this all over the lab, I was in the interview room with Brass I heard what she said about her daughter, that was Sara?" Nick demanded, feeling sick.
He had known Sara for thirteen years, and the extent of his knowledge about her past was that she had been born and raised in San Francisco and that her mother still lived there. He knew vaguely that she had spent some time in foster care but he had had no idea. Everything now made sense, why she had been in foster care, why she had never mentioned her father, why she reacted so strongly to domestic abuse cases and yet, he could not bring himself to believe it.
Could not believe that the terrified, nameless child Laura Cox had mentioned on her interview, the one who had suffered so much and learnt too much about the nature of life too young was his Sara...
"She never told you, about her mother, her past."
"Have you ever met Sara?" Nick said, bitterly, "Openness is not one of her strong suits..."
"OK, Nick, I know how you feel about this, and about Sara will feel, but I don't have a choice, she can't expect this to stay quiet."
"Why? Why does it have to become common knowledge?" Greg said, despite the hurt he felt at Sara never having been able to confide in him or Nick, he still cared about her and what she would want, and this poisoning the infamous lab grapevine was not that. He respected her enough to protect the secrets she had worked so hard to conceal.
"Because it changes this entire investigation and it gives her a Hell of a motive for killing Basderic." Russell said, sharply, "Whatever is going on here, we have to be CSI's first and friends second, and at the moment, she is our most viable suspect."
"This doesn't change any of the physical evidence we have connecting her to this." Nick pointed out, "As she's already said, and as any lawyer will pick up, we have absolutely nothing to tie her to the actual murder, she's right, what we have is less than circumstantial."
"He's right, this changes everything, and yet, nothing." Greg said, "No evidence she was on the gun, no evidence that she spiked the wine bottle either, the only prints found on that belonged to Basderic, if she did do this she was clever and careful, we'll never know."
"I understand that, I'll try and keep it between us, but until we've completely cleared Laura, they need to know..."
Reluctantly, Greg and Nick joined Russell in the layout room and soon enough Morgan and Finn met them there, both of them beautifully oblivious to what had unfolded in the interview rooms.
"What do you have?" Russell asked, before either of them could ask the same question.
"I went back to the scene, went back over everything." Finn began, "I printed and ALS'd ever square inch of that apartment, nothing. The only thing I did find was an unusual white powder in the shower cubicle; I sent it to Hodges, other than that I got nothing but the need for a change of clothes. If Laura Cox killed him, she did a bloody good job of cleaning up..."
"Well, we learn by doing." Morgan said, grimly, spreading old crime scene photographs across the table, "I've been doing some more digging into the murder of her husband in 1982." She said,
Nick, Greg and Russell stared down at the crime scene photos. They seemed so much more real and so much more horrific since they knew who shared the blood that was spattered half-way up the walls and that soaked the thin, white bed sheets.
Morgan continued, oblivious to their discomfort, "If I only knew about the physical evidence in this case, I would be at a complete loss as to why she was out of prison..." she began, "She was found at the foot of the bed, bloody knife in one hand, daughter in the other...Since she was put into foster care and witness protection and whatever else they could think of to protect her identity, I haven't been able to find out much about the daughter. I know that the mother tried to get custody over her a few years later but the case didn't even get off the ground before it was shut down."
"How did she stay out of prison?" Finn breathed, studying the graphic pictures,
"I was asking myself the same thing, and then I started looking at the human element... I have no difficulty in believing a jury found her not guilty of murder." Morgan said, grimly, "Her defence was two-fold, on the grounds of insanity, she was schizophrenic, and on the grounds of self defence."
"Self-defence?" Finn said, incredulously, "He was killed in his sleep; how the Hell did they appeal self defence?"
"I thought the same thing, the insanity plea was more heavily used in court, why she ended up in an institution not a prison, but this is why she could plead self-defence." She said, removing some of the more harrowing images from a thick file and throwing them contemptuously on the table before them.
Some of them were of Laura, typical fractures and bruises typical for abuse, except they were what Sara called 'careful' assaults, nothing to the face and little to the wrists, neck or other visible areas. Had she not been hospitalised her injuries would have gone largely unnoticed by society, as she herself had. However some of the images clearly belonged to a child. Her child.
"I've read the hospital reports, what he did to his daughter...I would have killed the bastard myself." Morgan snarled, "Broken arm, fractured ribs, the usual for abuse...The poor woman was clearly terrified, she could never bring herself to make charges against her. From 1976 to 1982 her daughter was hospitalised over-"
"That's enough Morgan." Nick choked, bracing himself against the table as he felt nausea clawing at his stomach.
"What? What's wrong?" Morgan asked, looking confused. The images and the story were horrific, but sadly it was one that they all knew far too well.
"Her daughter's not as nameless as you might think..." Greg said, when it became clear that Nick could not bring himself to tell them.
"What are you talking about Greg?" Finn demanded, "What do you know that we don't?"
"Laura Cox is Laura Sidle...She's Sara's mother..." Greg whispered, quietly flipping the abuse pictures over as he did so.
Morgan clapped her hands over her mouth, tears sparkling in her eyes as she too grasped the full implications of this. Finn, looking physically sick managed to breathe, "What?"
"So the little girl, her daughter is..." Morgan whispered,
"Jesus..." Finn whispered,
"Jesus had very little to do with it." A voice said, softly from the door,
"Sara..." Nick murmured, his stomach plummeting as he wondered how long she had been standing there for.
"Do you want to talk?" she said, quietly, very deliberately directing this at Greg and Nick and Greg and Nick alone.
A/N: Hopefully this was OK, I had a lot of problems trying to decide how to write the interaction between Sara and her mother, damn is she hard to write, so give me your thoughts on that and how you think I'm portraying her character.
A/N2: I know that they would probably have found out about Sara's mother's identity without Sara so shoot me for trying to make it more dramatic!