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Bible Thumper (Cont.)

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Chapter 9
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“All right!” Catherine called out to Nick and Greg, who looked half-dead from staring at a computer screen for the third straight night in a row.  “We got a description of her!  That should give us the right one!”

From all the searches they’d run in three days, they’d only narrowed it down to three suspects.  Lucky for them, all three of them looked different.

“Okay, the nurse said fair skin, reddish-brown hair, and dark eyes.  Any of the three match that description?”

“Match!” Nick cried.  “One Vivian Corinth of suburban Vegas, near Henderson.  Let’s page Brass and pay a little visit.”

“Good call.  Who’d like to do the honors?” Catherine smiled.

“Can I?  I’d like my first to be a really good one!” Greg spoke up from the back of the group.

“Sure Greg-o,” Nick said, tossing his phone to the young techie.  “Call from the car.  Let’s hit the road!”

* * *  * * *  * * * 

“Okay, Ms. Sidle, you’re free to go.”

Sara had awoken from her catnap to find her room empty.  She’d panicked momentarily, until Grissom came in with the squat nurse.  He’d been glad to see her awake so that the nurse could determine if she was well enough to finish recuperating at home.

“Just remember to change the dressings every day.  Here’s a medication for the pain.  It’s pretty heavy stuff, but if you stick to the prescribed dosage, you should be fine.”  The nurse handed Sara the bottle with a smile and left.

“Ready to go?” Grissom asked, helping her into the customary wheelchair the doctors always seem to send patients out in.  With a nod in response, he pushed her out to the parking lot and bid her to wait by the doors as he brought his car up and around.

As she waited, Sara got the odd and unsettling sensation that she was being watched, but brushed it off as Grissom pulled up, and bounded around the car to help her into the passenger seat.

She smiled.  “I’m not a cripple, you know.”

“Just trying to help,” he said in good humor.

“Well it’s not like I can’t do anything.  I just got shot!”

“Okay, so maybe I’ll just leave you to get better on your own.  Maybe I won’t help you at all anymore,” he said as he climbed into the driver’s seat and started the car.

“No, don’t!” she cried, thinking he was serious.

He laid a hand on her leg as he pulled the car out in the direction of her apartment.  “I’m not going anywhere unless you ask me to,” he assured her.

Once they got to the apartment, Sara played the dutiful patient and took her medication.  When it made her drowsy, Grissom tucked her in and sat on the end of her bed until she fell asleep.

* * *  * * *  * * * 

“I can’t believe we missed her!” Nick whined as the crew settled in the break room. 

“I can’t believe she journals about every killing!” Warrick countered, reading from a small leather bound notebook they’d found in Vivian Corinth’s house. 

They’d taken it to Questionable Documents and had it compared to the signatures and writings on several filed legal documents, including her driving license.  It was a match closer than any they’d ever seen.

Wearing gloves, Warrick found it difficult to turn the pages, but all the same, he was fascinated by the contents.  “Listen to this.  ‘I wish I didn’t have to do what I’ve been asked to do.  My plans have had to change, and so have my tactics.  The condemned has not been alone since the incident, so it’s been difficult to observe her.  But, she’s been released from the hospital…’” Warrick slowed as two and two came together,  “ ‘… and her friend will have to leave in order to bring things back to stay with her.  That’s when I’ll strike.’  Oh, my God.  Sara…”

At that moment Grissom walked in.  “Did you find her?”

“Grissom, what the hell are you doing here?!”  Catherine asked, a little harsher than originally intended.

“Sara fell asleep.  Her meds kicked in and made her drowsy.  I thought I’d come by and see how you guys were doing on the case.  Why?”

“We gotta get over there NOW!  You shouldn’t have left her alone!”  Catherine and the rest of the crew bolted to the parking lot, dragging Grissom with them. Cath tossed the keys to Warrick.  “Drive!  We’ll explain on the way, Griss.  Get in the car!”

As soon as all the doors were closed, Warrick tore out of the parking lot and headed straight for Sara’s apartment, for once his crazy driving habits coming in handy.

* * *  * * *  * * * 

Chapter 10

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They saw the smoke before they heard the sirens.  Following a fire truck as they got closer to Sara’s apartment, their hope for her survival dwindled with each passing moment.

Grissom was the first out of the car.  Consumed by guilt at having left her alone, he ran past the police line and the firemen to get to the door,  kicking it open and rushing in.  His eyes burned from the smoke that rushed toward him on its way out the door.  Rushing from room to room, he called Sara’s name more times than he could count, but to no avail.  Each room came up empty.

When he got to the bedroom, smoke was pouring out of the cracks above and below the closed door, smoldering the doorframe.

“Fahrenheit 932,” he whispered, realizing how similar the two fires were, and what that would mean for anyone inside.

The explosion that came from somewhere in the kitchen brought him back to the realization that unless he wanted to die, he needed to get out of there.  Shielding his eyes from the smoke and the brightness of the flame, Grissom made his way out of the apartment.  The team rushed to meet him at the police line.

“Where is she?”

“Did you see her?”

“What happened?”

They bombarded him with questions, but Grissom simply walked past them.  He went to the Tahoe, all of the doors of which were still wide open, taking a seat on the passenger side.  He just had to sit and process it all.

Catherine followed him and tried again.  “Gil,” she said gently, “was she there?”

He looked at her with tears in his eyes and shook his head.  “Do you remember the arson case from three years ago?” he asked.

The team all remembered that particular case.  The homeowner had been arrested for arson and had called Grissom for help.  The man’s wife and son had been killed in the bedroom during the fire.  When Grissom went to investigate the bedroom, he found the door closed and the doorframe smoldered.  Grissom had to explain to the man that in order for that to happen, the temperature inside the room had to reach 932 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point any smoke produced by the fire would burst into flame.

Catherine remembered that arson all too well, but unable to trust her voice, she simply nodded, prompting Grissom to continue.

“The door to Sara’s bedroom was closed with smoke pouring out, and the doorframe was smoldered…just like in that case.”  As the rest of the crew came forward to hear his response, Grissom put his head in his hands.

Catherine was rooted to the spot in shock.  “There’s no way anyone in that room could have survived,” she said, more to herself than to anyone else.

“I should have stayed with her!” Grissom managed between sobs.  “She was asleep…I tucked her in myself…”

Nick came up and put his arm around Grissom.  He was crying, too.  “We all loved her, man,” he sniffled.  All the team could do was be together as their world continued its recent downward spiral.

* * *  * * *  * * * 

Miriam couldn’t stand to watch the team in so much agony.  She hated to have to move her schedule up by an entire week, throwing off the carefully planned meaning and symbolism in the process, but conditions and situations had forced her hand, leaving her favorite member of the team in a burning building.  True, she deserved to die for her sins, but God only knew why it had to be Sara.

Regaining control over herself, Miriam drove away to finish her mission in Vegas.  It was time to leave another message, and she had just the one.

* * *  * * *  * * * 

Chapter 11

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The team somehow managed to make it back to the lab, though none remembered how or when.  The shock was still numbing and the grief still fresh, but it had been three days since the fire at Sara’s apartment and crime in Las Vegas stops for no one.

The dysfunctional family that was the graveyard shift slowly made their way into the conference room for assignments.  When Grissom walked in, the group looked to him to see what the mood for tonight would be.  He looked no different than most other nights, other than the fact that it was evident he’d had no sleep.  He showed no emotion as he handed out assignments, his expressions unreadable.  He turned to leave the table, to throw himself into some experiment as he usually did when he shut people out, when the conference room phone rang.

“Yes,” he answered, putting it on speakerphone.

“Dr. Grissom, you just had a call from a woman who called herself ‘a friend of the team’… She said she had an urgent message for you.  ‘Matt 23 38 39.’”  The team listened intently as the receptionist paused.

“Thanks.” Grissom turned to pick up a Bible from a nearby stack of books.

“You also have a visitor.  She’s making her way back now.  She said it was urgent so I told her where you were.”

“Thank you,” he said surprised.  It had been a long time since they’d had any visitors.

A moment after he’d hung up with the receptionist, Grissom and the rest of the team watched as a masked person with a clearly female figure walked into the room.  The team exchanged glances.  Without a word, the woman removed the ski mask and from within tumbled down familiar brown curly locks.  Grissom was the first to reach her.

“Sara!”  He picked her up at the waist and twirled her around twice before setting her down and shocking the team by planting a soft kiss on her cheek. 

“I’m happy to see you too!”  Sara exclaimed as the rest of the crew quickly got over their shock and gave her their own greetings.

“We thought…” Nick began.

“I know what you thought, and it broke my heart to put you in such agony, but I had to.  I had to make you believe I was dead so that she would believe it, too.  It threw her off to have to move her schedule up so far. She doesn’t know how to get back on track, and that leaves her vulnerable. Did you find anything in my apartment? Anything that Miriam wouldn’t want you to find?"

“Sara, how can you ask us that?” Grissom asked pain apparent on his face. “ All we cared about was getting to you…”

“Grissom was the only one to go in. We saw him kick the door in, but beyond that, we don’t know what went on up there.  All we know was that when he came out, he was in tears and from what he managed to tell us, there was no way you could’ve survived,” Catherine said her throat tightening.

Sara looked at Grissom for a moment, hesitating, but plunged in again to break the silence.

“Do you have anything you can use that might lead us to her?”

“Hey Griss, what was that message she sent earlier, before Sara came in?”

Grissom looked down at his notes.

“Matthew Chapter 23 verses 38-39.” He reached down for the Bible he’d dropped when Sara came in and read.  “ 'And now look, your house is left to you empty and desolate. For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord." ’ ”

“She’s playing on the last verse,” Sara said after a moment.  “Remember?  ‘ I will send upon Judah and Jerusalem all the disasters I have threatened.’ She carried out her promise: She killed me, or so she thinks.”

“She’s been watching us!” Nick blurted suddenly.

“What?” Catherine and Sara asked simultaneously.

“ ‘You will never see me again,’” Nick quoted.  “That implies that we’ve seen her before.”

“Which means she’s been watching us,” Grissom finished.

“So what was similar in everything we’ve done in the last month, maybe two?” Catherine asked.

“We have her picture.  Does it look familiar?” Grissom asked.

Warrick pulled out the photo of Vivian Corinth, aka Miriam, and it was passed around the table, along with other information. 

“It says here that she has a gray Oldsmobile Aurora.  I saw a car like that drive away when Grissom came out of Sara’s apartment and sat in the Tahoe.  Did anyone else notice it?”  Warrick asked.

“There was a car like that on Kevin Sampson’s block, the vic in Laughlin,” Sara said, remembering the long drive out there with Catherine.  “But it was gone when we left.”

“I saw that car in the parking lot of the hospital the day I brought Sara home!” Grissom remembered.

“And at the Simmons house when we originally worked the scene!  She’s been following us everywhere!” Nick cried.

“Well, better for her to follow us than for her to go about her business and wonder if we’re following her,” Grissom pointed out.  “What do you bet she’s watching us right now, to see what we’ve been up to since Sara’s ‘death’?”  He dialed Brass’s number.  “Hey Brass, it’s Grissom.  Where are you? … Lobby?  Perfect.  Can you pretend you’re looking for something in your car and see if you notice any gray Oldsmoblies lurking around? … Thanks.  Call me right back.”

They all waited in anticipation for Grissom’s phone to ring. When it vibrated across the table, they held their breath.

“Grissom,” he answered.

“It’s there, right across the street.  But it’s empty.”

“Damn!”  Grissom slammed his fist on the table.  “Thanks, Brass.”  He looked at the crew.  “She was ready for us.  The car’s there but it’s empty.”

“Now what?” Warrick asked.

“I have an idea,” Catherine said with a smile.  “Get Brass in here.  We’ll need his help.”

* * *  * * *  * * *

Chapter 12

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Vivian waited patiently in the back seat of Sara’s car.  She was glad to know that the bug she’d planted in the conference room was working.  However, it was disconcerting that she had failed.  She never failed, and tonight she’d make up for it.

She saw the woman she’d failed to recognize as Sara leave the building and head for the car, looking nervously over her shoulder.  Vivian crouched down, making herself temporarily invisible.  When the door closed and the key was inserted in the ignition, Vivian popped up and put a gun to the ski mask.

“You know, I’m a little disappointed in you, Sara.  I thought you understood me, my mission.  But somehow you managed to escape me and that just pissed me off.  So now I’m going to let you see what you’ve been playing with before I kill you.  Take off the mask.”

She didn’t move.

“Take off the mask, Sara!”

The woman took the mask off and turned around with a smile.  “I’m not Sara.”

Taking advantage of Vivian’s momentary shock, Catherine knocked the gun from her hand and whistled out the half-open window.  Brass and several other officers suddenly surrounded the car, opened the window and pulled Vivian out.

Catherine got out and looked Vivian in the eye as Brass cuffed her.

“You miscalculated, Vivian.  I’m almost disappointed, but I think your God believes in justice being served,” she quipped, turning as the rest of the group came out to congratulate her.

When Sara faced Vivian, she was glad the rest of the tem was there for support. 

“Just because I understood your ‘mission’ doesn’t mean I agreed with it… You’ll get the death penalty for this.  Do you realize that?”

Vivian smiled.  “God never said that following him would be easy.  I am a Christian and therefore I am persecuted. I accept that, and embrace it.” She looked at each team member individually. “I must say I’m impressed. You did very well, and I feel honored to have worked with you all. God Bless.” With that, she followed Brass to the station.

* * *  * * *  * * * 

“So, Sara, you never told us how you got out,” Catherine probed, once they’d found the bug in the conference room and all felt comfortable enough to talk again.  The case had shaken them all and they’d needed time to process everything, especially now that it was over.  Now they were settled in the conference room, relaxing before the end of shift.

“Well, I couldn’t get out of the bedroom, since the door was blocked.  So I closeted myself in the bathroom and climbed down the fire escape out the window above my tub.  I slipped around the back of the apartment complex and hung out at the 24-hour-a-day diner down the road.  Since I almost never sleep, finding a place to stay was never really an issue.”

“Well, it sure as hell is now!” Nick pointed out.

“Don’t worry.  I’ll find somewhere to go.  It’s really no big deal.”  She sat back to think, for once happy to listen to their chatter.

* * *  * * *  * * *

Chapter 13

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“You cried for me?”

Grissom looked up. Sara had just walked into his office and was making her way toward the chair in front of his desk.  It was funny… Grissom could’ve sworn everyone had left.

“I didn’t think anything about that… I … I didn’t know you cared that much.”  She looked at the floor, embarrassed.

Grissom walked around the desk, kneeling in front of her.  He lifted her chin so he could look her straight in the eye. 

“Sara, I told you in the hospital how I felt.  I do care about you, more than you know, and after everything I’ve done to you, I know that’s hard to believe…”

“After everything you’ve done for me, it’s not,” she said with a small smile and a single tear.  “But that still doesn’t answer my question.”

Grissom pulled her to his chest and wrapped his arms around her, wishing he could kiss her tears away.  “Yes, “ he whispered.  “I did cry for you.  As far as we knew, you were dead for three days, and the only thing that got me out of bed last night was the thought that Vivian was still out there hurting people.”

“I want to see her.”

“What?!”  Grissom pulled back to look at her.

“I want to see her,” Sara repeated.  “There’s still something I don’t understand.”

* * *  * * *  * * * 

It didn’t take much to see Vivian.  Grissom stayed in the background out of respect, watching but giving Sara space.  He watched and listened as Sara walked up to Vivian’s cell.

“Sara… I didn’t expect to see you here.”  Vivian was clearly shocked, but put on a smile as she walked up to the bars.

“I’m here because there’s still something I don’t get.”  Sara’s tone made it clear that she was on a mission of her own.

“Okay, shoot,” Vivian shrugged.

“Why break a commandment to enforce them?  You never explained that.”  A crack in Sara’s voice warned that she was emotionally on the edge.

“Because it emphasizes the consequences of crossing God.  ‘The wages of sin is death.’  We discussed this once before, Sara.”

“That’s not the point and you know it!”  Sara screamed.  “You’re nothing but a hypocrite, do you hear me?  A hypocrite!”

At this point, Grissom came forward and guided Sara away from the cell so that she could recompose herself.  He was stopped, however, when Vivian called out to him.

“You always were one to avoid confrontation, weren’t you, Gil?  Even though you love her, you still can’t bring yourself to say it, can you?”

Guiding Sara to the door, he went back and looked Vivian in the eye.

“Who are you to talk about love?” he demanded, acid dripping from every word. “You killed 23 people!  I find it very interesting that you paid so much attention to the Ten Commandments but so little to the most important commandment of all: ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.’” He snorted in disgust.  “Your last name suits you. Paul wrote chapters on love, but the Corinthians didn’t get it either. Maybe next time, God should send Cupid. He might get the point across.”

He stormed out, leaving Vivian in shock and Sara in awe.  She was waiting for him by the door.  When it closed behind them, they headed in silence to the car.  They settled in, and Grissom stared at the steering wheel as he tried to recompose himself.

“How long were you standing at the door?” he asked uncomfortably.

“The whole time,” she answered softly.  “Nice speech.”

“Uh…thanks, I guess.”  He started the car, then looked back at her.  She was still staring at him.  “What?” he asked.

“Is it true, what you said?”

“Which part?”

“About the Corinthians.  How’d you know that?”

He sighed before answering, “I used to be Catholic.  I used to know a lot more Biblical stuff, but science lured me away.”

He was surprised at how easy it was to talk to her.  He’d never shared his past with anyone before, but he knew that once it came time to share his bigger secrets, it would be harder.

Even quieter than before, Sara asked, “Is it true, what she said?”

“Which part?”

“About you loving me.”  This time her voice was barely above a whisper as she looked at the floor, embarrassed.

For the second time that morning, he lifted her chin to look deep in her eyes.


He leaned over and planted a kiss as soft as butterfly wings on her forehead, then started driving.

* * *  * * *  * * * 

Chapter 14

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“Have you given any thought as to where you are going to stay?” Grissom asked, after they’d been on the road for a while.  They had to get back to the lab to get Sara’s car, but he’d follow her wherever she went, as a precaution.

“Not really.  It’ll have to be somewhere close, so I can still be near work.  Somewhere safe, comfortable.”

Grissom took a deep breath.  He knew it was a big step, but he also knew that it had to happen.

“Why don’t you stay with me?”

“Really?  Are you sure you don’t mind?” She wanted to check before getting overexcited.

“Yes.  I want you to.”  He hoped he sounded more confident than he felt.

“I’d love to.  Maybe we can do some catching up.”

* * *  * * *  * * *

When they arrived at Grissom’s townhouse, Sara picked up the morning paper while Grissom opened the door.  Chuckling at the front-page headline, she showed it to him as they walked in, getting a small laugh from him in return.

They set their things down by the door and laid the newspaper on the coffee table before he led her to the bedroom to crash.  They hadn’t slept in days. 

The headline read:  “Bible Thumper Plays God and Loses.”

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