CSI: Obsession

False Prophet (Cont.)

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* * *  * * *  * * *
Chapter 4
* * *  * * *  * * *

Five hours later, Warrick went looking for Grissom.  It was almost the end of shift, and he and Nick had come up empty.  Checking out the remaining commandments, they could only match one to a member of the team: murder for Sara.  No surprises there, but nothing for the rest of the team and they were running out of ideas.  Now, Warrick headed for Grissom’s office, hoping to catch him on the way out with any suggestions.

“Hey Griss, we got squat!”  Warrick called as he knocked and opened the door in one swift motion.  “Nothing on the Ten-“

He stopped short when a figure popped up from the couch gasping for breath.

“Sara? … Is that you?”  Warrick headed for the couch.  “You okay?”

“Yeah,” she sighed a moment later, her breathing slowing now.  “Bad dream, I guess.”

“Sara Sidle sleeping?  I don’t believe it!” he teased, grabbing a chair from in front of Grissom’s desk and placing it so he could face her.

“I don’t know what it is.”  She shared a smile with Warrick before shaking her head.  “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

“Hey, you can’t be too hard on yourself.  Maybe you’re catching up,” he cooed soothingly, putting a hand on her shoulder.  “After all that’s happened lately, it’s really no surprise.  Plus, we’ve been up three straight days working this.”

“Which I can usually do standing on my head, Warrick!” she said, exasperated.

“Hey, hey, cool it.  Look, did you get some rest while you were at Grissom’s?”

Sara cocked her head.  “Wait, how’d you-“

Warrick laughed.  “When Brass and Catherine called Grissom’s house and cell phone the other day after court, you picked up the house phone remember?  Not to mention, he drove you in to work right afterwards.”

She winced.  “Yeah, I forgot about that.  Okay, yeah, I slept, but mostly that was from the medications I was…am…on.  For the pain.  But even that doesn’t excuse falling asleep on the job, literally.”

“Chin up, girl.  Cut yourself some slack.”  Getting a smile from her, he asked, “Now how far did you get with your patterns?”

“Not very far.” 

Blushing, she picked up her papers and map from the floor beside the couch.  The spiral that she’d discovered earlier was highlighted. 

“I got as far as labeling every scene, red for the first four vics and yellow for the crew, all with names and other vital info.”

“Why is yours in green?”

Warrick watched as her eyes dropped.

“I’m the only one who’s been attacked that’s survived.”

Silence passed between them for several moments.


Both Sara and Warrick looked up and were startled to see Grissom standing in the doorway.

“Can I speak with you please?”

Sara wasn’t sure if Warrick saw the pleading eyes behind Grissom’s otherwise emotionless face, but she did.  Knowing how important it must be for him to show even that much, she nodded.

“All right, don’t push me.  I’m going,” Warrick chuckled, putting the chair back in its proper place. He patted Sara on the shoulder, whispering, “Take it easy,” as he made his exit, closing the door behind him.

Sara smiled.  “What’s up, Grissom?”

“Did you find anything?”

She hesitated before answering, “No, not yet.”  Looking deeper into the eyes that kept betraying him, she asked, “How much did you hear?”

He hung his head and smiled a bit.  “Most of it, I’m guessing.”  His face turned serious when he looked back up at her.  “Sara, why didn’t you say that you were tired?”

Now it was her turn to smile.  “First of all, you wouldn’t have believed me.  I never sleep, remember? … But, that’s not why you came in here, is it, Grissom?”

His eyes fell to examine the pattern of the tiles on the floor, avoiding her knowing stare.  “Sara, I think you should find somewhere else to stay for a while.” 

He huffed the words out in one breath, as if getting it out quickly would somehow reduce the pain.  When he finally chanced a glance upward, he saw that he was wrong, as her papers all fell to the floor and a look of hurt and betrayal crossed her face before she covered it with her all to familiar look of stone.

The sadness that had flashed in her eyes prompted Grissom to explain.  “For safety reasons only.  Vivian has made it clear that she’s out to get every one of us now… If she finds you at my house, she’ll think it’s a two for one and I won’t have anyone get hurt just because I’m being selfish.”

She dropped her gaze, struggling to figure out the many possible meanings of another one of Grissom’s double entendres, trying desperately not to look as crushed as she felt.

Not being able to stand her silence and obvious confusion, Grissom searched for an excuse to leave.  When none sounded good enough, he simply hung his head and walked out of the room, closing the door behind him.

* * *  * * *  * * * 

Chapter 5

* * *  * * *  * * *

It was normal for members of the team to not come into work on their days off or when they were sick, but everyone at the lab knew better than to play hooky.  So when Greg didn’t come in the next night and no one had heard from him, the rest of the crew began to worry.

“I know that it’s Greg, but what if something happened to him?”

“I wouldn’t go that far yet, Sara.  Not until we know for sure that he’s not just hiding out somewhere.  He was kind of freaked out about the idea of Vivian coming after us,” Nick reminded her.  “He’s still in training.  He hasn’t seen or experienced a lot of what we have.”

“Just to be sure, why don’t you call him, Nick?” Catherine suggested.  “Sara, go check out the usual places he hangs out, including Jackie’s area.  Warrick, I know it’s a stretch, but talk to Brass.  See if he knows anything.”

When the “kids” had left on their mission, “Mommy” decided to talk to “Daddy.”

“What happened, Gil?” she asked harshly as soon as the others were out of earshot.

“How the hell should I know what happened?  He could be anywhere!”  Grissom shrugged his shoulders as if to prove his innocence.

“That’s not what I’m talking about and you know it, so don’t play stupid with me!  You know that never works!  You won’t even look at each other, let alone talk to one another.  What did you do to her?”

“Nothing!  I simply told her that it would probably be a good idea for her to find somewhere else to stay for safety reasons.”

Catherine sighed her what-were-you-thinking sigh.

“What did I do now?” Grissom asked dejectedly.

“Grissom, when she was shot, you wouldn’t leave her side for a second.  When her apartment burned and she came back from the dead, so to speak, you took her in when she had no where else to go.  You’ve let her know that you care, and as strange as it sounds, you let her in.  Now, you’ve kicked her out, and I’m thinking that she feels like she’s been either betrayed or completely rejected.”  Catherine felt as though she were explaining something to a five-year-old.

“How could she fell betrayed?” Grissom near shouted, exhausted and amazed at how much brainpower it took to figure out Sara.  “I just want her to be safe!  That doesn’t mean I love her any less!”

“Gil, did you ever stop to think that maybe the safest place she knows is with you?” Catherine shouted back.

“Cath, I can’t find-” Nick started from the door.

“Not now!” Catherine yelled as she turned and slammed the break room door in his face.

Turning back to Grissom, she continued.  “Gil, you can only do this so many times before she leaves for good!”

“If she’s so sure that she’s been betrayed and rejected, then why doesn’t she just leave?”  The bitterness in his voice scared Catherine.  “God knows she’s thought of doing just that who knows how many times.”  He plopped down in a chair, holding his head in his hands.

“More than I can count, but thinking isn’t doing, Gil.”  Catherine sat in the chair beside him, wondering how he could be so emotionally inept. 

“Did you know she got offered a position at the FBI?  In their forensics lab?” she asked, softer now.

His head snapped up.  “When?”

“Three years ago.  Obviously, she turned them down.”

“That’s the best lab in the country—hell, in the world.  Why would she turn them down?”

Catherine scoffed.  “And lose the chance to have the one man she’s ever truly loved?  You don’t know her as well as I thought.  Gil, she loves you more than anything, and has for years.  We’ve all seen it, time and again.  I don’t know why you haven’t figured it out.  She stayed because of you and she kept the letter to remind her of that.  She keeps it in her purse.  I’ve seen her pull it out several times over the last three years.”

Grissom sighed.  “Really?”

“Really.  She keeps it to remind herself that she chose to stay here, that she wanted to stay here.”

“But why?  Why would she choose this place over the best the world has to offer?”

“Because I have family here.”

Catherine and Grissom turned to see Sara standing in the doorway, her arms folded across her chest.  Grissom looked her in the eye, wondering how long she’d been standing there, not having heard the door open, but knowing better than to say anything.  The look on her face was all business.

“And right now, it’s not looking too good,” she continued after a moment’s silence.  “This family is in trouble.”

* * *  * * *  * * *

When Sara finally led Catherine and Grissom back to the conference room, it was evident if only by the looks on the others’ faces that something was wrong.

“We can’t find him anywhere,” Nick told them.  “Brass put out an APB for Vivian and has given out information on Greg in case anyone spots him.”

“I found this on his locker.”  Sara held up a small piece of paper with some scribbling on it.  “I looked up the verse, and…”

Grissom took the paper from her and read.  “Jeremiah 48:7.  ‘Because you have trusted in your wealth and skill, you will be taken captive.’”

“Oh, God,” Catherine sighed, falling into a chair.

A similar felling passed around the room.  The team may have thought Greg annoying, but he held a place in each of their hearts.  Always eager to help, he balanced out the seriousness of the rest of the team with his youth and energy.  Now, an unsettling silence and a deep feeling of loss filled the room, similar to when the crew had lost Holly Gribbs, as they all took in the endless possibilities.

The silence was broken when Grissom suddenly called out to the others.  “We need to check his house.”

“What?”  Warrick finally managed to speak.

“We need to check his house, his car, the lab, the locker room, anywhere he could have been when he was taken.  Maybe there’s some clue as to where he is.”

“But he could have been anywhere,” Sara whined.

“Then we better get going.”

With that, their fearless leader was out the door.

* * *  * * *  * * *

Chapter 6

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Splitting up, the team took on the search with a renewed vigor.  Working as thoroughly as ever, all five remaining members of the graveyard family, along with some outsiders from swing shift, searched everything Greg owned for some kind of sign as to his whereabouts.

After their last search, they all gathered outside Greg’s front door to try and figure out what to do next.

“I say we go back to the lab and sort out what we have,” Nick exhaled noisily.  “I know it’s not much, but if we put it together with what we know, maybe we’ll get something.”

“Where’s Warrick?” came Sara’s obviously concerned voice from one of the nearby SUVs.

Team members looked around when he didn’t answer.

Just then, one of the newbies from swing shift spoke up. 

“He saw something he wanted to collect and told me to go ahead when you called us all out front.  He said he’d be right there.”  Though answering Sara’s question, the tall and lanky young woman addressed Grissom.

“You left him alone?” Nick cried, rushing to the back of the house where Warrick had been working.  When he got there, Warrick’s kit was laying open on the ground next to a shoeprint he’d been processing.  In a way, it was kind of fitting; Warrick always said it was all about the shoeprints.

As more of the team came up behind him, Nick put on a glove to pick up a white rag laying a few feet away.

“It’s not like Vivian to leave evidence behind,” Grissom said, looking on.

“Smell it, Griss.  It’s doused with something.  Could be chloroform.”  Nick passed off the rag, hoping for some explanation as to what was happening.

“Well, this accounts for how she may have been able to subdue them,” Grissom proclaimed.  “She drugged them.  Okay, there’s nothing else here.  Let’s get back to the lab.  Maybe we can get some DNA off of that rag.”

“Sara, what tipped you off that Warrick was gone?” Catherine asked.

“This.”  Sara held up a small piece of paper similar to the one found on Greg’s locker.  “I found it on the Tahoe.  Proverbs 28:20.”

Since the renewal of Vivian’s antics, Grissom had taken to carrying a small pocket-sized Bible with him for just such moments as this.  He pulled it out now and turned to Proverbs.

“ ‘The trustworthy will get a rich reward.  But the person who wants to get rich quick will only get into trouble.’”

“She’s not targeting us for what we’re doing.  She’s targeting us for what we’ve already done!” Catherine cried incredulously, realization dawning.

“Grab Warrick’s stuff and let’s get out of here,” Grissom called.  “We’ve got work to do.”

* * *  * * *  * * *

“We’ve been doing this all wrong!” Nick cried.  “She expected us-no, she wanted us to continue following the original pattern… And we fell right into that trap!  That’s why Warrick and I came up empty.”

“That’s also how she knew she could pull it off… She’s an expert at this.”  Catherine had gone back to some of the databases she had been showing Greg and was now projecting her findings for all to see.  “On the left is New York.  On the right is Miami.”

“Long, tight spirals.  Just like Vegas,” Nick observed.

“Right.”  Catherine maximized pictures of the CSI crews in both cities.  “The only difference is that the CSIs in those cities didn’t go missing.  This is a whole new ball game… I think we need to make some phone calls.”

“Okay, Cath, you talk to Miami.  You’re already familiar with them.  Sara, you talk to New York.  Talking patterns with them will be easiest for you.”  Grissom rubbed his temples as he delegated the tasks.

“What about me?” Nick asked.

“You need to cool your jets.  Get started on Greg and Warrick’s stuff in the lab.”

* * *  * * *  * * *

“Caine,” came the familiar voice of Catherine’s favorite Miami colleague.

“I seem to have lost my tan in the last two years,” she said with a smile, wondering if he remembered that conversation.  “And my boss has cut my vacation time… You wouldn’t happen to know any place I could get one in Vegas, would you?”

“Catherine Willows.  I should have known I hadn’t heard the last from you.  Chasing another runaway you need our help with?”

It was clear to Catherine that Horatio Caine, and probably the rest of his CSI team, hadn’t lost this laid back style.

“Well, we hard core CSIs here in Vegas could probably use a few of your ‘fanciful’ theories right about now, if only to lighten the mood,” Catherine said heavily.  “We do need your help, though, and in a bad way.”

“Okay, who’s flying where, and when?” he asked, realizing that the time for friendly pleasantries was over.

“Actually, no one’s flying anywhere this time.  We need information.  We’ve got a crazy woman who thinks she’s talking to God.  She’s killed four people, including her court bailiff, and now she’s kidnapping CSIs.”

“Vivian Corinth,” Horatio broke in knowingly.  “She blew in here like a hurricane.”

“I know.  That’s why I’m calling.  We need to know everything we can about her as quickly as possible.  We have no idea what she’s doing to Greg and Warrick, and she’s made it clear that she’s out for the lab and the entire crew.”

“What do you need to know, Catherine?”

“Did she hold any patterns when she hit Miami?  Anything that determined any kind of order?”

“Every person she it fell upon a spiral-“

“Same here.  Long and tight-”

“With the lab at the middle,” they finished simultaneously. 

“She sent us verses by letter and pager to warn us about divine punishment.  She also talked to us by phone,” Horatio continued.

“Us too.  She wanted to get across the point that she was enforcing God’s law.  That’s why she left verses at the scenes.”  Catherine recalled that first phone conversation in the conference room.

Horatio sighed.  “Unfortunately, we missed that until about number seven.  She didn’t contact us until number six, and by the time we pulled it all together, she’d left her epicenter, giving us absolutely nothing.  She’s good, Catherine.”

“I know.  That’s what scares me.  We’ve already caught her once, but she never confessed or left enough evidence to truly convict her.  So, they let her go.  Then our only piece of evidence tying her to the crimes got ‘lost in the system’ by our dayshift supervisor.”

“Ouch!  What was it?”

“A journal.  She kept entries of all the victims here in Vegas, including one of our CSIs that she was planning to, and almost did, kill.”

“She actually went after one of your CSIs?”  Horatio sounded shocked.

“Yeah.  She set Sara’s apartment on fire.  We didn’t see her again for three days… We thought she was dead.”

“Wow.  Gutsy move.  Well, we got a journal, too, with details of all of her victims in Miami.  It looked like a continuance.”

“Probably from New York.  Horatio, would you mind sending that journal overnight?”

“Sure.  I’ll send the prints we got off of it and copies of the phone conversations, too.  Maybe they’ll help.”

“See, I knew there was a reason I liked you!  Thanks.  Tell the rest of the team I said hi.”

“Sure, no problem, Catherine.  Tell your boss I said you need more vacation time.  Sasha says hi.”

“ ‘Kay.   Thanks again.  Bye.”

* * *  * * *  * * *

Chapter 7

* * *  * * *  * * *

When Catherine arrived back in the conference room, Sara and Grissom were waiting for her, sitting on opposite sides of the table.

“Where’s Nick?” Catherine asked warily, feeling the tension in the air.

“Still in the lab,” Grissom said straightening, obviously ready for a report.  “What’s going on in Miami?”

“Horatio says I need more vacation time,” she sneered, a smile in her eyes and tugging at her lips.

Grissom’s eyes narrowed in frustration.  “Anything else?”

“The Miami lab is sending us their taped conversations with Vivian and the journal that she kept there.  They found it when they raided her place.”

New York is doing the same.  Mac said they got a journal, too.” 

As the others turned to listen, it became clear that Sara was directing her words exclusively at Catherine.

“He said they caught on late to the verses,” she continued.  “Vivian didn’t contact them right away and seemed disappointed that they didn’t immediately understand her point.  However, fortunately for us, she got sloppy in New York.  She let slip that she liked to be near the water.  Mac and his team found a cabin that she used to store everything used in the murders.  Chances are, she’s done the same in Miami and Vegas.  If we can find them, we can nail her in all three cities.”

“Great.  Let’s go find Nick and share the good news.  Maybe he’ll have some for us, too.”

Catherine rose halfway through her sentence and made her way to the door, holding it open for the others.  Following them down the hall to the lab, she added silently, ‘Maybe Nick can figure out what’s up with these two.’

* * *  * * *  * * * 

Not finding him in any of the labs or layout rooms, they asked Jackie if she’d seen where Nick went.

Jackie shrugged.  “He said he wasn’t feeling well.  He went out for some fresh air.”

Sharing worried looks, they thanked Jackie and rushed to the parking lot, Grissom calling Nick’s cell phone on the way.  When they reached the parking lot and still couldn’t find him, Sara tried his pager.

“Who’s pager’s beeping?  I turned mine off.” Catherine followed the sound towards Nick’s car.  Her shoulders fell when she saw what lay on the ground beside it.

“What is it, Cath?”  Sara came up behind her to see Nick’s pager buzzing across the asphalt, a white cloth nearby.

“No!  Nick knows better, he wouldn’t…” Sara trailed off as the tears started to come, this blow being the straw that broke the camel’s back.  She dropped down to sit on the curb, pulling her knees to her chest.

Catherine and Grissom watched as her body racked with sobs.  Though not entirely surprised at Sara’s reaction to her best friend’s disappearance, it had been a long time since they’d see her openly show her hurt at work. 

Catherine backed off as Grissom sat beside Sara, trying to comfort and calm her.  As she looked around for anything that might indicate Nick’s whereabouts, Catherine’s eyes fell upon a small piece of paper tucked in the wiper blades of Nick’s car.

“Uhhh, guys?”

They looked up to see her holding the piece of paper in the air with a gloved hand.

“Proverbs 14:17,” she read.

“ ‘Those who are short tempered do foolish things, and schemers are hated,’” Grissom quoted.

Silence fell between the group as they thought of Greg, Warrick, and now Nick in the hands of a pissed off serial killer.

“So, now what?” Sara managed between sobs.

“Now we stay together.  We work in the lab as a team, on all we have until we find the place where this sadistic bitch is and what she’s done to our family.”

Now it was Sara and Catherine’s turn to be surprised.  They looked at Grissom in shock, seeing the anger that had boiled over as his eyes flashed the steely gray that warned his patience was at an end.  Never had they seen him show this much emotion, though they both laughingly called him their best friend.  Readying themselves for an emotionally, if not physically, draining day, they followed a seething Grissom into the building.

* * *  * * *  * * *

It’s never easy doing one’s duty, but Vivian took comfort in knowing that these blasphemous sinners were getting their just reward.  Not only would they burn in Hell, but God was giving her the pleasure of sending them there.

Bent over her many books and papers before her, Vivian’s thoughts were interrupted by several continuous grunts from behind her.

“Nicky, if you don’t stop pulling on those chains, you’re going to hurt yourself,” she called without looking behind her.  “You know, you should follow your friends’ example.  They’ve resigned themselves to their fates… They gave up hours ago.”

She turned to glance at her captives’ faces.  Greg was laying on the cold basement floor as close as possible to Warrick, who sat chained just a few feet away, facing Vivian with a look of disgust and anger in his eyes.  Nick, defiant to the last, stood a few feet from Warrick, desperately pulling at the chains that held him to the wall.

It hurt Vivian to have to do this, to watch them suffer in their sin, but she was keeping them alive for her grand finale.  She’d use these six as an example to the rest of the world, showing them the consequences of sin.

“What do you think?” she asked the boys.  “I’ve been working on the next few and I can’t decide which verse works best for your friend Sara.  Let’s see…  Should I use ‘Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall.’?”  That’s Proverbs 16:18, by the way.   I like it but I don’t think it conveys the point.  What about 1 Samuel 2:3?  ‘Stop acting so proud!  Don’t speak with such arrogance! … He will judge you for what you have done.’” 

She paused to see the anger and otherwise indifferent looks turn to fear for their sister and friend. 

“No,” Vivian smiled, “I think you’re right.  Too harsh.  But don’t worry.  I’ve got one more that I think will be perfect.  Isaiah 2:11-12.  ‘The day is coming when your pride will be brought low and the Lord alone will be exalted.  In that day the Lord Almighty will punish the proud, bringing them down to the dust.’  I like it,” Vivian smirked, clearly satisfied with her findings.  “It’s the perfect balance of warning and foresight.”

She twisted back to her workbench and grabbed her purse.  Turning to the boys before leaving, she cooed, “Don’t worry.  Sara will be fine…for now.  No, Catherine will be joining you next. She needs a little break. This case is more taxing than she’s letting on.”

* * *  * * *  * * *

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