CSI
Se Salva by happyharper13 [Reviews - 1]
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Salvar: to save, to overcome, to preserve, to rescue, to cover, to pass

Salvarse: to survive, to escape

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CHAPTER 5: LOS OJOS MISMOS, PART 2


THE CASINO


Catherine drifted in and out of consciousness for what felt like hours as Greg hovered over her, ever watchful, and traded tense quips with the men standing guard over the pair of CSIs. With the pressure applied to the wound, she felt her cognizance growing clearer and fuller. Though she continued to feign unconsciousness, she was fully aware of the heavier footsteps treading into the room, and the exchange that followed, or, at least, as aware as she could have been without opening her eyes and seeing the sinister show of eyes.

With her eyes closed for the extended period of time, she felt her ears picking up more and more. Consequentially, it was not lost on her when the harsh, yet quick, footsteps gave way to a body crouching down to grip Greg's face. She could sense the tension and the gradual shifts of positions inherently coinciding with the aural sparring. And she could only guess that it was a battle of the nonverbal, given the extended periods of silence that paralleled the heat radiating from the additional crouched, heavy body.

But it was the voice that caught her off guard. The voice. That voice. In all truth, she hadn't recognized it until the last exchange, when she at last detected -- or, rather, he had at last betrayed -- that hint of melancholy.

The hint of melancholy had given it away because, in truth, Catherine was confident in stating, had she had the opportunity, that Ari Marvin had lived, save for those few precious years of love, a melancholy life.

As the figure released Greg's face, Catherine at last ventured a glance up. She had assumed that he would have already turned his head, but, then again, Ari had never been one to play the expected card.

She caught his glance as he walked out of the room, and it showed the same melancholy she'd expected, almost hidden under the fierceness she had known so well.

Letting loose a fragile tear for the tragic memory, Catherine slipped back into a stupor, falling somewhere between unconsciousness and reminiscence of lovers star-crossed by the fluorescent and fleeting casino lights.




1983


Catherine was happy to escape the club. Many would assume that, since she danced for a living, she would find something else, unrelated, to do with her spare time. But that was far from the case. On her nights off, she was off to the clubs, to dance without worries about offending or pleasing anybody but herself. The only money she had to spend was her own -- and that often wasn't even necessary. Many clubs let her in for free.

Such was the case at VÝvelo that night. It was one of Vegas's less known clubs due to its location further off the strip. The dancing inside was gentler -- smoother -- and the clientele often more svelte. It tended to draw the people who were often discriminated against in the more mainstream Vegas culture -- people interested in alternative lifestyles of all sorts. It held the most diversity, and tolerance, of the Vegas clubs, which Catherine appreciated.

VÝvelo was a place of more class than the typical club. Dancing was smooth and sophisticated; there was less grabbing and groping; more Merlot and less Manhattans. Despite the frosty lighting, the walls were etched in a deep scarlet and gilded in a worn gold, lending a greater air of elegance. There was still space between pairs of partners, and groups of happily sipping dancers. The music was lighter and nostalgic for better days, even if the longed-for dates remained intangible.

Plush red curtains drew back as she entered and cast a friendly smile at the bouncer, Fred, who had, through frequent encounters, become a fond acquaintance of hers. He smiled back, patting her on the back as she headed in.

"Lookin' good, Catherine."

"Thanks," she replied, flashing another smile as she descended down the stairs. Soft orange and golden lights cast over the stairs, wafting into the crowd. Frankie Valli's 'December, 1963' pulsed through the small crowd, each member thoroughly immersed in their own rhythms of dance. Her eyes ran circles around the room, looking for acquaintances.

That's when she saw the familiar darkening auburn mop of hair. To her knowledge, he wasn't even old enough to be clubbing. But sure enough, there Tam Jared was. A man fell in front of her, and she lost sight of her young friend.

Catherine eased her way into the crowd. She spotted a few familiar faces -- other well-informed club hoppers looking for a little more discretion.

A tall gentleman in a deep navy tuxedo reached out a hand to the air beside her. She took his hand with equal grace, immediately coming to stare into deep olive eyes. Placing a hand around his shoulder, she let him lead her to the dance floor as he placed a careful hand at her waist.

Her scarlet gown blended in with the gilded walls, and swayed perfectly against her slim hips. She turned in his arms, letting the pleated ends flutter in her wake. It was a night of bubble gum; Catherine was free to dance away in the arms of a gentleman, free, for the time being, of all troubles and cares.

She temporarily pushed thoughts of her young friend from her mind; he had just as much a right as she did to leave the stresses of the day and leave them off of the dance floor. She would leave socializing for later.

As Frankie Valli finished his serenade to careless, joyous nights, and to Catherine's night, the rhythm of the floor slowed, giving way to the next slow song. The gentleman looked down at her, his kind gaze impeaching her for the next, slow dance. A small smile of agreement set him into soft motion as he glided, arms still around Catherine's waist, back toward the sweeping outskirts of the dance floor.

Soft, vibrating notes struck an instant tenor as Catherine leaned into the sweet melody. Even if she didn't know the man she was with for the moment, she felt safe in the embrace of his arms, and of Al Green's soulful voice.

Her head perched over his shoulder, she stared tranquilly out over the dance floor, as nearby couples moved smoothly and effortlessly over the dim floor. She caught another glance of Tam.

He twirled around, as a smile that always lit Catherine and everyone around him up unfolded on his young face. Fragile blue beams crisscrossed his face, revealing a shallow pool of emotion.

But Catherine could see through his deep hazel-brown eyes into the deeper reserve -- pit even -- of stubborn emotion.

It was love in his eyes, and she knew he was lost in it. She followed his gaze to the man across from him, and couldn't hide her surprise at the sight.

Catherine lost herself to shock, forgetting the sweet background vibrato vocalizing of Al Green's 'Unchained Melody.'

Ari Marvin twisted Tam Jared delicately, like a flower. She could see that their gazes never left each other, even as Tam spun. Somehow, in all their jubilant dancing, they still exuded grace, but, more than that, happiness.

They didn't notice her; they were too lost in each other.

--

Oh,
My love,
My darling,
I've hungered
For
Your touch
A long,
Lonely time.
And time
Goes by
So slowly
And time
Can do
So much.
Are you
Still
Mine?
I need
Your love,
I need
Your love,
God speed
Your love
To me.
Speed your love to me
Speed your love to me
Lonely rivers
Flow
to the sea,
To the sea
To the
open arms
of the sea
I just have to tell you that
Lonely rivers sigh,
'Wait for me,
wait for me'
'I'll be coming home,
wait for me!'
Please babe let me say
Time goes by
so slowly
and time
can do so much
Are you
still mine?
I
need
your love,
I need your love,
Your love...
So God won't you please speed
Your love
Your love
To... to me
Speed your love to me
(Won't you speed your love to me?)
Speed your love to me
Unchained melody
Speed your love to me
Speed your love to me
Speed
your
love
to
me
speed your love to me
speed your love to me
I need your love, I need your love
I'm not ashamed to say that I -- I
I need your love, God speed your love to me

--

Catherine stared at the grand clock on the wall, realizing it was later than she had intended. That always happened. It was too easy to get lost in the joy of the music. A tap on her shoulder interrupted her from departure.

"Please don't tell anybody. Mr. Jared can't know. He won't allow it -- us to be together."

Catherine nodded in sudden understanding as she shut the door. Her lips were sealed.




PRESENT


Catherine pulled out the worn, now-off-white box, no longer hidden under her jacket, from the car, and carefully brought it in to her room, where, at last, she opened it.

The stench of death was slighter than she had expected, though the reason was quickly discerned: For such a high profile case, there was very little evidence.

Then again, Catherine thought. This was back in the 80's. They just didn't have the same resources we have now. Which will make my job all that much harder.

Snapping on latex gloves, she reached in and carefully pulled out a pair of worn black slacks. She placed them on top of her sanitized tablecloth. She had bought that particular tablecloth at a CSI convention specifically for the purpose of using it to work at home. It gave off very few particles, and was easy to keep sanitary, hence reducing the risk of contaminating evidence.

She had seldom used it, generally preferring to keep her work and home lives as separate as possible, especially with a teenage daughter in the house. This, however, was one of the few cases where the evidence had to be dealt with outside of the Lab.

She didn't need to prove anything. She wasn't looking to convict anyone. Sometimes she got involved with cases on the job, but her ultimate purpose was always to convict. In this case, however, curiosity -- and, more importantly, her team's need for closure -- were her only motives.

Digging further into the box, she finally unearthed the case file. Staring at the familiar face -- blank brown eyes staring out and filled with the blood dripping down the bloody but familiar forehead -- she grimaced.

Tam. So that's what became of you. She had already spent too much energy pushing memories of her vibrant friend and pseudo-brother away. She didn't need more pain and reminiscence. What she needed was productivity.

She reached a hand in.

A button-down shirt, with one bullet hole.

The other bullet was clearly embedded into his skull. She wondered which bullet had killed him.

Turning away from the photos, she sought the next, less human piece of evidence. It was a black cotton jacket, not unlike the many other items of attire she'd been left to process over the course of her career. Light bloodstains marred the sleeves, with a prominent smudge now dried on the lower right sleeve. The evidence file stated that it was found on Ari. Wracking her brain, she couldn't quite remember Ari wearing that particular jacket the night of the murder... but, then again, after she's found out, she hadn't been in the best -- or most lucid and detail-oriented -- state of mind.

She couldn't quite make out the connection to the two bullets, given the blood splatter, if it could even be called that. A live body, she thought, should have produced more blood than that, from the shot to the chest. But there was barely any blood on the shirt. Then again, the shot could have easily been fired from an unusual angle, or to a less blood-filled part of the body, so as to provoke less blood spatter.

She patted down the jacket, careful not to jostle the dried blood. She was surprised to find a soft, cubic lump in the pocket. Whatever it was, it clearly hadn't aged much in 30 years. So at least it's not food or something disgusting and/or moldy, she thought with a sigh.

Withdrawing her hand from the pocket, she was surprised to find a small box, baring a red velvet exterior. She opened it carefully and was shocked at its contents, even though they could have easily been expected given their container.

A ruby peeked out from a gold band. If I didn't know better, I'd think this was an engagement ring.

She had realized, given Ari's initial murder conviction, that he had been headed in a bad direction, but she had never taken him for the type to steal. Shaking her head, she realized that she knew her friends even less than she had thought. No doubt that the man who butchered Greg and Tam would have few qualms with stealing jewelry.

An alarm clock jostled her focus, reminding her that Lindsey had to get to school. Carefully returning the evidence to its box, she set it aside, covering it with her jacket and hiding it under her bed.




SEPTEMBER 9, 1985


Loud knocking to Catherine's apartment door woke her. She groaned, looking out the window at the dark sky. She had gotten home from work at 2, per usual, and had been looking forward to a nice day of rest.

Throwing off the soft, inviting comforter, she trudged to the door. She looked through the peephole and groaned when she realized that she did, in fact, have to open it.

Tam and Ari had been using her apartment as a secret meeting place often. She could never quite appreciate the level of secrecy necessary to their relationship's well being -- a.k.a. its concealment from Mr. Jared and, as a result, the world at large. Tam's behavior had always attracted a decent amount of attention from the tabloids. After all, he was the young, handsome, energetic son of one of the big names in Vegas.

Catherine had done more than her share of work setting up beard dates for the couple, to maintain Tam's image as a straight, eligible bachelor in the press.

Such was the degree of secrecy that Ari always had to come at least an hour early, so that no reporter that happened to be following Tam would see him entering the apartment with the other young man. It would attract too much attention. So far, however, Tam's ventures into Catherine's apartment had only spawned an excess of rumors regarding a possible romance between Catherine and Tam -- which the media, of course, ate up.

Catherine opened the door to find an unusually disheveled Ari.

"Got a little action ahead of time, eh?" she asked with amusement.

Ari glared at her with bloodshot eyes.

Catherine chuckled at him. It was rare to see Ari looking quite so drunk. The man was a bartender, but always insisted on remaining relatively sober himself. He said he was too aware of the embarrassing, crude behavior of drunk men, from his work. Catherine had always suspected that another key part of it was the drunks' tendencies to say more than they meant. She knew Ari would never take a risk of getting inebriated and inadvertently exposing his and his boyfriend's secret.

"Hey now. That's not the look you give to the woman giving up her apartment for you and your boyfriend's little rendezvous," she teased.

He began to breathe deeply, clearly controlling some amount of anger or another strong emotion.

"Ari...?"

He looked her in the eye, and, this time, she could see that alcohol was not the cause of the redness in his stare. Fury, horror and despair welled up in his intense, teary gaze. Then he snapped.

"There won't be another rendezvous!" His face contorted in anger and pain. She could see the shiny streaks left by tears. "There won't be another..." He choked on his words.

"Ari... what's wrong? What happened? Did... did he break up with you?"

Ari broke down in tears, which Catherine took as an affirmative answer.

Suddenly, he was pacing, face still contorting, skipping quickly through emotions -- rage, pain, sorrow, anger, shock, desolation. He stared down at his feet, biting his lips and looking as if contemplating some act of grave destruction.

"He left me... he left me for good. And it's all my fault."

He stared up at Catherine, pure rage now etched on his normally handsome features. Somehow, tonight he looked so much older, so much more worn out.

He clenched his jaw, staring at her with intensity -- almost insanity.

"What... what did you do, Ari? Why'd he leave?"

He stared at her. His eyes begged for a reprieve from whatever insurmountable amount of pain no doubt pulsing through his entire body.

He choked back a sob and held up his hand.

It was covered in blood.

"I killed him."

Everything that happened next was a blur -- the police busting down the door to Catherine's apartment, cuffing Ari -- apparently, he had fled from the scene -- the police asking Catherine questions, which she answered truthfully.

She knew any information she gave them about Tam and Ari's relationship would almost certainly be concealed later. Mr. Jared had the money, and he would make sure of it.

The only other thing Catherine remembered distinctly from the night was kneeling to the porcelain god and puking her guts out.

Life wouldn't be the same without Tam.




Author's Note: I've tried to keep media elements relatively historical accurate, as well as minimal. Originally, I was going to use Percy Sledge's "Warm and Tender Love" for the slow dance at VÝvelo. However, "Unchained Melody" is such a beautiful song, and it seemed so perfect for Tam and Ari (you'll see more of why later on). Nonetheless, as far as I can tell, as of 1983, the Righteous Brothers , as well as their lead singer, Bobby Hatfield, and Harry Belafonte were the only main artists to record it. No offense to any of these versions, but Al Green's cover was the version that I really fell in love with and that, as a result, was the version I imagined going with the scene. Seriously -- listen to the song and you'll see what I mean. It's absolutely beautiful. There are very few records that compare.

I realize I left the robbers' names out for a while, which was probably confusing (I know it was confusing me while I was writing it). For clarification, Ari is the lead robber, who is described earlier as having a muscular build and being of regular height, with dark brown hair and deep blue eyes. Biggs is (appropriately) the larger robber, described as built like a linebacker, heavyweight wrestler or such, who tends to work with Richie, but who is more rational than Richie, as well as more loyal to Ari. Biggs is the enforcer, but, as Catherine will discover, he's not quite as bad of a guy at heart. Richie is the smallest and the rudest. He's the one who has been taunting Greg the most. Jules is probably the least cliched of the robbers, or so I hope. He's the oldest and is described as lankier -- skinny, but of comparable height to Biggs. He's the one who searched Greg, and he's remained relatively distant. You'll see more of each character fleshed out more as the story develops, but I wanted to make sure that everyone has some idea or image for each of the characters. It was kind of difficult to establish their characters as well earlier, when Cath, Nick and Greg hadn't learned all of their names yet.

Harper
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