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The New Undersheriff


Title: The New Undersheriff
Author: me
Rating: strong T
Pairing: Catherine/Tony Vartann. Implied GSR
Genre: Angst,Romance, Case specific
Warnings: Some of the parts don't look to kindly to the Gil/Sara relationship. Some adult language, but nothing too ofensive.
Summary: Las Vegas has a new Undersheriff. But was the gossip and heartbreak worth the cost?
Spoilers: For Warrick, The Happy Place
Disclaimer:  I don't own any CSI character.
Read and Review: Ever have a fic that you just had to write? Well, this is mine. This is not beta'd, so please bear with me.

hunterseaker

 

 






The New Undersheriff

Las Vegas

How was he supposed to sleep? Images kept popping into his overworked mind. Not helped by the sweet scent of roses he could still smell on his clothes. The word ALZHEIMERS SYNDROME echoed like a random woman’s scream in a bad horror movie. How was Tony Vartann supposed to sleep when he had one of the biggest decisions of his career riding on tomorrow’s interview? Compounded by the fact that he had told a woman, the woman whose fragrance still lingered, that he loved her and then fucked up any chance with her by doing so. And then there was his mother’s ‘illness’ the doctor called it. Why would he say that when there is no cure for the ‘illness’ that suddenly plagued his mother? Tony knew that soon she wouldn’t remember his name or his face. There was no comfort in that thought. What did comfort him was the fact that his sister, the martyr of the family he like to think of her, had packed up her life to move to the east coast to take care of his mother. A worry that needed less of his attention than what was about to unfold over the next few weeks.


Twenty Hours Earlier

Seattle
“Vartann,” he grumbled into the phone. The shrill of the small phone startled him literally awake. He glanced over at the clock. 9 am the digital clock read. A small pang of shame woke him up even more. Sure, he had just pulled a 15 hour shift, but he felt guilty none-the-less for still being in bed at 9 in the morning.

“Tony, this is Jim Brass…” he paused, “from the Las Vegas Police Department. Remember me?”

“Of course, why do you ask” Tony replied feeling his blood pressure rise for some reason. “What’s going on?”

“Well,” Brass answered, “you are a hard man to find. I think I woke up two or three of your fellow officers before I found you. I know Seattle is a big city, but I tried….”

“What can I do for you Captain Brass; it is still Captain isn’t it?” He cut Brass off.

“I’m sure you have heard by now, and please don’t tell me you haven’t because I know the same redheaded woman you do, that CSI Warrick Brown is dead. Dead at the hand of the former Undersheriff Jeff McKeen. I know that you know all this.”

How could Tony not feel a pang of guilt after that statement?

“Yes, yes I heard that,” Tony cleared his throat, “What is it that you want from me?”

“Well,” Brass started, “your name came up.”

“Came up about what?” Tony cut him off again.

“Let’s just say you were high on the list of candidates to replace McKeen as Undersheriff.”

Tony couldn’t say anything. What was there to say? He could feel his heart beating in his head. The throbbing was becoming louder and louder. He still couldn’t say anything. He knew it wasn’t a joke, Jim Brass doesn’t joke about these kinds of things.

Brass could sense the uneasiness on the other end of the phone. You don’t become a Captain in the LVPD without learning some very important people skills.

“Listen, the captain began, “I can tell you don’t know what to say about this. Just think about it. The department is willing to fly you down here, all expenses paid, for an interview. I’m not going to blow smoke up your ass Tony, but this could be an opportunity of a life time for you. And I know there is someone here in Vegas that wouldn’t mind seeing you. Just think about it, but don’t take too long, the interview is scheduled for the day after tomorrow.” And with that, Jim Brass hung up.

Now, not only was his head throbbing, he thought his heart was going to beat right out of his chest. The thought of leaving his life, his small comfortable life in a city where no one knew anything about him was daunting. But, on the other hand, going back to Vegas, even just to see her was entirely not out of the question either. The next thing Tony Vartann knew, his suitcase was packed and he was on the phone booking the next flight to Vegas.

~~~~

Las Vegas


“To Warrick!” CSI Nick Stokes raised his shot glass full of Tequila up as Tony clinked his against Nicks.

“Hey man, I’m really glad you could make it.” Nick practically slurred towards Tony.

“Yeah, me too, I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to the funeral, I caught the earliest flight I could.”

“It’s okay,” Nick still slurring his words, “The others should be joining us soon. Catherine said she wanted to stop by home first before she could come.” Nick’s words rambled out of his mouth.

Catherine, Tony thought as a smile came to his face. Honestly,she was the second reason why he had decided to come back to Vegas. Tony let his mind wander for a moment as he pondered upon Catherine. Nick had gone to the bar and was chatting up the pretty waitress. As Tony was ready to finish the last of the beer Nick set in front of him not to long ago, a terrifying thought about him and Catherine sprang into his head.


Say that Tony was to become the next undersheriff? How would that work out between him and Catherine? Well, it’s not like they had any sort of ‘relationship’ anyway. He lived in another city. Hand picked by a former buddy’s buddy for being ‘the right type of guy for the job’. No wife, no kids, no family in the area, nothing to tie him down or no one to essentially grieve for him if he were to die in the line of duty. Who was he kidding, he fit the bill and he knew it. Not a comforting thought, but he took the job in Seattle anyway. And in doing so, he had to walk away from her.

He and Catherine Willows went ‘out’ on only a handful of times. Most of them ended abruptly when either her cell phone rang or his. It comes with the territory when you are a homicide detective in Las Vegas or if you work for the Crime Lab in the same city. A cup of coffee after shift a few times led another; more romantic date. A friend of a friend pulled some strings to set up a nice dinner at Caesars where Chef Bobby Flay personally prepared their meal. A most romantic deal indeed, but alas that date got cut short of the main course when a 419 on the Boulder Highway took her away. That was the last date they had been on. What he couldn’t understand is why she always had to go when Gil Grissom called. He was her boss, the Lab’s Supervisor. Somehow he had this strange pull on her and she always had to run to him when ever he called her. Tony knew there was nothing going on between them. He learned over the course of a decade or so that men and women can be friends and it doesn’t mean they are screwing each other. Regardless, he felt weird about even questioning her when she said that ‘Grissom called’.

From he could remember of Gil Grissom he was an odd sort of guy. One who had a bug collection in his office. But, to give the guy credit, Grissom was also fair and unbiased. He didn’t judge anything or anybody. As the lab’s supervisor, he let the evidence do that. As a cop, theories and ideas get tossed around all the time, it’s up to the scientists at the crime lab to either prove or renounce a theory. Gil Grissom was just that guy. Last Tony heard, by way of Catherine of course, that Gil had met someone woman years ago. A woman named Heather. She was some sort of Dominatrix, if there was even such a thing. And she was all poor Grissom could think about. Bits and pieces of the few times she had passed through the Police Department eventually made their way to him. It was usually Jim Brass or Grissom himself that worked with her so Tony knew very few details of her cases. He could have looked them up if he wanted but he didn’t see the need nor had the desire.

The latest word about Grissom is that he and CSI Sidle were shacked up somewhere. Now there was a thought he couldn’t get his mind around. For one, he was her boss. A thought that resonated in his head when he thought of him and Catherine. And secondly, how was that to reflect on the crime lab? Were her case that much more important than anyone else? Would all of a sudden Gil Grissom’s objectivity go out the window when it came to CSI Sidle? Wait?! Was Tony thinking of Grissom and Sidle or he and Catherine?

He let out a long sigh as he spied Nick returned back to their seats. Two more beers filled Nick’s hands as Greg Sanders walked in. Tony began to feel his heart race again. Soon, she would walk in to his life again and he’d have to make one of the toughest decisions of his life. Normally he didn’t live his life by his heart. He didn’t care how most people lived their lives. If they did their job and did it well, hell, who was he to say anything about it? But when it came to looking at his own life; that became downright scary.

Two more hours he sat with Nick Stokes as more CSI’s came to the bar. Some former colleges made their way to the ‘impromptu Wake’ for Warrick. Gil Grissom eventually made an appearance. He shook hands with Tony and wished him luck. “A finer man Brass couldn’t have recommended,” Grissom stated. Was that some sort of compliment? And boy word travels fast here in Vegas.

What he couldn’t do was keep his eyes off Catherine. Once she caught him looking at her and she blushed slightly and turned away. She still had the same black sweater and skirt from the funeral. The first thing that caught his eye was the pearls still hanging around her neck. The red of her hair was a beautiful contrast to the black of her outfit she didn’t feel the need to change out of.

She gave him a small hug and whispered, “I’m glad you are here.”

“Me too,” was all he could muster back to her.

The rest of the night he sat in agony. Agony over this woman. The one he wanted, wanted to be with, the one he would admit to her hours later that he loved. But he had to tell himself she was not the reason he returned. The Las Vegas Police Department needed him. He was going to be the next Undersheriff of Clark County. A boastful thought yes, but Tony Vartann was just cocky enough and was good enough to do the job Possibly, he did have one too many shots of tequila, but the truth is the truth and this is the truth how he saw it. He had the smarts and the background to prove it. Tony could go on about case after case he solved with the help of the LV Crime Lab. About the scant year he had spent in Seattle working with the King County Sheriff’s new Internet Crime department and how that experience changed his view of life forever. That really was the truth but it would also sound good in an interview. He could go on and on about his ethics, clean jacket, and police background. Yes, being the son of a Police Chief did have its advantages. He could go on how he didn’t get bought by McKeen just like Captain Brass. That is why Captain Jim Brass is Captain Jim Brass, he didn’t get caught up in McKeen’s web and neither did Tony. So, realistically there was nothing else to do but to go to the interview and tell them why he’d be the best for the job. But, all that bloated speculation went out the window when he looked at Catherine.




“Let me call you a cab.” Were the first words he said to her as the evening wound down. Ten minutes earlier he had poured Nick Stokes into another cab with the hopes that Nick would be not as hung over as Tony thought he would be.


“Man, that guy drank a lot.” Tony winced as his words came out of his mouth to Catherine.

“Yeah, he was really shaken up about Warrick.” Catherine replied in a cold tone. One that gave Tony the chills. Okay, so maybe she wasn’t that happy to see him. The least she could do was to tell him, so he could let her go and focus on his next career.

“Where are you staying?” She asked as she turned towards him as to make polite conversation. He beautiful eyes were still swollen from the funeral several hours earlier. Her eyes told him she was still hurting. He resisted the urge to put his arms around her, instead he sat at the bar stool and offered her one next to him.

“The department put me up at The Bellagio. I told Brass that was unnecessary, but he said the Department insisted.”

Catherine then turned her head away from him and was staring straight ahead as she spoke as if in some sort of trance, “ Word on the street is that you are the guy Tony. You are going to be the next Undersheriff. All the rest is just formalities. You know, they have to make it look good in light of everything that’s happened. Word is, the Sheriff would have hired you yesterday if not for protocol.”

“Wow… I mean.. Uhhh, that’s good to know.” He said turning his face towards hers as she still faced the bottles lined up against the wall.

“Well, I take it you are going to accept the job. Am I right? Otherwise you wouldn’t be here.” She concluded.

Tony was stunned. She not only summed up his reason for being there, but the coldness lingered in her voice. She had obviously told him how she felt about their future in one sentence.

Still, he couldn’t help thinking that she was just in shock. He wanted so much to believe that they could some how make it work out between but. He didn’t let her know this of course, he let her words roll right by him.

In one finally effort to regain any sort of… something between them, he offered again, “Can I call you a cab? Or, if you’d like I can give you a ride home.”

Then, as if the trance-like state she was in wore off, she said, “Yeah, I’d like that." Her smile made his heart melt as she reached for her keys.


~~~~


An hour later, he’s alone in his hotel room. His big empty hotel room he wished he could be sharing with Catherine right now. The bed was huge. They could make love on one side( not like he and Catherine ever had ever been in bed together, but there is always a first time) then sleep in each other’s arms on the other side.

His sister called just minutes earlier to congratulate him and to inform him of their mother. Sleep would have to wait. He laid down on the huge bed and thought of Nick Stokes. Although Tony had not been at the funeral, the gossip grapevine didn’t disappoint. Whispers of Catherine and Nick having a ‘thing’ quickly spread to the event earlier that evening. She grabbed at his hand during the funeral. Does that make it a ‘thing?’ he wondered. It would explain her mood at the bar. Maybe in her nice way, she was telling Tony she had moved on. Why not? Nick Stokes was a good, stand-up kind of guy and a good CSI. Nick was just what the department loves, dependable, smart and willing to take the heat when things go wrong. So, why wouldn’t Catherine want to be with him?


Sleep finally came. Final thoughts of Catherine appeared as he drifted off. So what if she’s in a ‘thing’ with Stokes, he can still dream about her. And that he did. Until it was interrupted by his cell phone.

“YES!” he grumped into the phone wondering what time it was.

“Where are you?” Was his next question. “Sure, come up.” He said hastily closing his phone.

~~~~

He opened the door to see Catherine standing in the doorframe. She had changed her clothes to a black sweatshirt and black sweats. There was not a stitch of make up on her face and she was still gorgeous.

“Can I come in?” She asked smiling at him.

“Umm yeah, sure.” He watched her walk into his huge room.

“Did I wake you?” She asked looking at his clothes.

“Yeah, sort of,” He rubbed his eyes. “But, it’s okay.”

“What are you doing here?” He immediately asked. If she was there to tell him about Stokes he wanted her to get it over with then get out so he can go back to bed and pretend she didn’t exist.

“I wanted to see you, is that okay?” Catherine said as she practically pushed past him. She found the bed and sat right down on it.

“You’re here, so what do you want?” He couldn’t help being blunt with her, but he didn’t want her to torture him anymore.

“Tony, I came here to see you.” Hurt that he was so short with her, she tried to pull some civility out of the situation. She motioned for him to come join her on the bed.

He declined and stood where he was.

“Okay, so again, why are you here?” This time he wasn’t so rude.

“I wanted to congratulate the next Undersheriff, is that okay?” Catherine again motioned for him to join her on the bed. What kind of game was she playing with him? Why can’t she just leave him alone and let him go on? Why is she there, in his hotel room wanting him to join her on the bed?

“First of all, we don’t know that for sure.” A back track from his boasting that he would indeed get the job. “I don’t want that rumor all over the department before I even have my interview. Because, as you know,” he looked right at her, “word travels so quickly around here. I forgot how quickly word does travel.”

He hoped his comment would spark some sort of response from her other than her just wanting to see him. Maybe she was a lure or a temptation, to see what kind of person he was made of? Maybe she was planted by one of McKeen’s people? Lord knows how far his web spread. But why would Catherine jeopardize her career like that? Maybe Stokes put her up to it, again to see what kind of person Tony was. And how is actions here and now would reflect on his ability to be the next Undersheriff. DAMNIT! Why was this happening???



“Catherine, it’s late, I think you should go.” He winced again, not really believing what he just said. But if she was a lure then he did his job by asking her to leave.

He walked over to the door of the room that separated them from the outside world. The world of crime and destruction. The world that they both lived in. In the hotel room they were safe. Safe from all of that. No dead bodies to interrupt their dates. No calls from Grissom prompting Catherine to suddenly leave him.

It’s just him and her and his doubts.

He couldn’t bring himself to open it. He looked over at Catherine still sitting on the bed. She was in her trance again. A blank look took over her as her face turned pale. Even her pink lips faded into a lighter shade.

“Are you okay?” He grimaced hoping that this wasn’t part of the plan to destroy him and his non-existent future career.

She didn’t answer. He asked again

“Catherine,” this time calling her name, “Are you okay?” He asked with slight panic.

“What?” She murmured.

Fighting with himself over her motives, he broke down and asked her, “When was the last time you ate something?” He noticed her face was even paler.

“Um, I’m not sure, probably after the service.” Her voice was blank, lacking any inflection.

“Why don’t I get you something to eat, I’ll call Room Service and we can talk. Would that be okay?” He asked as his heart began to race.
What he just did could have cost him his future. Or it could have created a new one. But, it’s done now.
~~~~

“That was the best $15 cheeseburger I’ve ever had,” Catherine smiled after cleaning her plate.

“Remind me never to take you out for burgers,” he laughed sparking a laugh from her.

He sat across from her at the little table in room. Talk, they did not. They had hardly spoken two words to each other while they waited for the food to arrive.

They sat in silence eating. He still contemplated her motives, but decided even if she was sent to take him down, she still had to eat.

After her comment, his doubts began to weaken.

“Catherine,” he paused for a minute choosing his words carefully. “I know you are still upset about Warrick. I know I am and I hardly knew the guy.” He stopped taking in a deep breath, “Is there something you want to say to me? Something that I should know other than the fact that ‘I’m a shoe-in’ for the position?”


Then he stood. Waiting. Waiting for his world to come crashing down. Waiting for her to tell him that she’s in love with Nick Stokes. Or on the off chance, that she really was sent by one of McKeen’s people. That they told her that someone would harm her daughter if she didn’t do what they said. Okay, maybe that was a little far fetched, a big stretch of the imagination, but whatever the reason, he wanted to know why she had said very little to say to him earlier then to show up at … 1 in the morning to his hotel room a day before his interview.

Catherine rose from her spot across from him. He watched her walk by him and returned to sitting on the bed. He watched her chest take in a breath.

OH GOD, here it comes he thought. His heart began to beat faster again, his cheeks burned with embarrassment; and then she spoke.

“Tony, do you know how glad I am that you are here?” She managed a weak smile. “When I heard that your name was being considered, well… well I was happy.”

The smile stayed on her face. He, on the other hand, was stationary. Stuck as to what to say. Humiliation filled him. The doubts that nagged at him all night were unfounded. Not just unfounded, uncalled for. Catherine deserved better than what he was thinking about her. He bought her a $15 cheeseburger, if there was a charade, it wouldn’t have lasted too much longer any way. He wanted to kick himself for even thinking those kinds of thoughts about Catherine at all.

Now, any other guy would take this opportunity and turn it into a reason to get laid. Not like that idea had ever crossed his mind over the course of the time they were together. But, he wanted her to want him as much as he wanted her at this very moment. Being the upstanding guy Tony Vartann has the reputation of being, he walked over to bed and sat right next to her. He resisted the urge to lay her down and let her screw him until neither one of them could walk, instead he just sat, next to her and waited for her to decide what to do next.

To his surprise, that’s exactly what she did. She looked at him, and that’s all she had to do was look at him and he was a willing participant in whatever she had planned. Not a single word, but a look. Her hand touched his face and that’s all that it took for him to unzip her sweatshirt.

More articles of clothing came off. He stretched his body over hers. There she was, naked, vulnerable, beneath him, offering herself to him. He was doing the same. Naked, vulnerable and offering himself to her in much of the same manner. He whispered endearments in her ear, their bodies connecting, while pants and sighs of pleasure escaped from both of them.



Then he said it, in the height of his pleasure he said it. The three words that most women want to hear. The words that either is spoken too often or not enough. He said them. “I.. I love you Catherine.” The words flowed freely from him as he felt her body underneath his still alive with passion and pleasure.

But, after their enjoyment of each other was over, he realized she didn’t say it back. Sure, she said how she loved how he felt inside her. How she loved it when he touched her, but she never said I LOVE YOU back to Tony.

Confusion filled him. He couldn’t break away from the shame and embarrassment he was beginning to feel. Was he just a roll in the hay for Catherine? A notch in her belt? A guy would feel proud in this moment, he conquered the woman with little or no strings attached. But, he felt like shit because she was the one who did the conquering.

Silence, silence was all there was between them. As he laid there next to her, no words, no gestures, or even any mention of what had just happened between them. The musky scent of sex lingered. He couldn’t even think of a thing to say to her. All he could do was watch her get out of the bed they shared and begin to get dressed.

When she had finished dressing she ran her hand through her red/blonde hair. He couldn’t help but finding that such an incredible turn on. How could she make love to him one moment and be so callas and uncaring the next?

Finding her way to the door, he stopped her from opening it with his hand.

He hung his head. He couldn’t face her. “I’m sorry, I really don’t know what to say to you. I wanted you to know that I meant what I said, I do love you.”

And just as mysteriously as she came to him, she left him. Out the door of the hotel. Out into the world of death and destruction. He couldn’t protect her, she didn’t want him to.
~~~~

Many hours and very little sleep later, Tony had just finished his 3rd cup of coffee that morning. His head is about to explode. The throbbing that began yesterday returned, this time it’s louder. Pacing the halls while waiting to enter the interrogation room of the Police Department didn’t help either. Interrogation, that’s what he felt like he was going to face. He thought about calling Catherine and joking that he needed her help to pick out a suit for the interview. That way he could hear her voice once more. Once more before he made the decision to finally let her go.

He had to ignore whatever thought process he began because within less than an hour, he was handed a folder from across the interview table containing his new job description. That along with all the other rights and responsibilities of becoming the new Undersheriff of Clark County. He had to laugh. Somewhere in all the smugness he told himself about getting the job, he actually got offered the job. He had another two days to make his final decision.

A hint of sadness came to him as he was congratulating himself for not only being offered the job, but even for being a candidate. Sadness in leaving a comfortable life he made for himself. Returning to a city that didn’t hold many good memories for him. He would do it anyway. He had to move on with his life, even if it was in the same city as Catherine. What were the chances that he would actually see her or have any direct contact with her anyway? Brass would be the one reporting to him. And Grissom underneath him. Even if Grissom were to leave, Brass would still have the say as to what happens in the Crime Lab. Catherine Willows will now be just the pretty woman who works in the Crime Lab. Not the daughter of infamous casino tycoon, Sam Braun. Not the right-hand of Gil Grissom and future supervisor of the Graveyard Shift at the Crime Lab. Lastly, not the love of his life.


Just before he left the building a uniformed officer behind the desk stopped him.
“Hey, I might be new here but I am NOT your personal secretary,” her voice shrilled towards him.

“Excuse me?” He stammered in confusion. “What did you say?

“You are Tony Vartann aren’t you?” She growled.

“Yes, is there a problem?” He asked as quietly as he could once more try to get the pounding in his head to stop.
“Well will you PLEASE,” she emphasized the PL in please,” get your wife to stop calling. Again, I’m not your personal secretary.”

“You must have me confused with someone else. I don’t have a wife.”

The woman officer rolled her eyes and started again, the agitation in her voice was hard to miss. “Well, some woman,” the way this lady pronounced woman made him shudder, ”named Catherine called. She said she was your wife. She left three… no make that four messages for you. She was very specific as to who you were.” Then the woman stopped talking.


The folder in his hand felt heavy. Like the weight of his world rested in these documents. He tentatively agreed to take the job. It all depended on when he could get out of his commitment with the King County Sheriff’s Office in Seattle.
Ending his commitment with Catherine wasn’t going to be as easy. Maybe it wasn’t going to be so easy to walk away from Catherine, again.

~~~~

“ Don’t you see, I did it for you.” Her voice crossed the phone line. He quickly scanned the parking lot, searching for anything that could compromise this precarious scene.

“Did what for me exactly?” He asked back in anger while walking towards the parking structure to find his rental car. Anger that she would put him in this situation. One he didn’t think he’d have to face but was facing it.

“Put you in that position.” The sweetness in her voice just about dripped off the phone.

“What position is that?” He couldn’t control the anger in his voice. “What did you do?”

“About choosing… the Undersheriff position or me.” Some of the sweetness had worn off.

“What do you mean ‘or you’?” He asked more confused than angry.


“You know what... if you don't want the job then don't take it.” Her voice came back on the line. He could tell that she was now upset but what he didn’t like was the way the conversation was heading.

“But your qualifications have nothing to do with you fucking me!" She hung up.

Fucking her? Is that what she thought last night was? Him fucking her? He told her loved her, how can she think they were just fucking?

Now he left angry. His new life still clutched in his hand. But he was angry at the way he received his new life.

Searching one’s soul is not an easy or a task that should be taken lightly. You really, really have to know what you stand for. There is a reason why Monks and other Holy Men meditate for days on end. What’s the point of even asking the question if you don’t want to know the answer? To find to answer the questions that were never asked. Or some such other bullshit. It’s what you do with the answers that determine what kind of person you are.

He’d had enough spiritual, eastern religious crap he’d heard from some one, somewhere along the line. But, it’s just that, what to do with the answer.

Did he take the job knowing there would always be a certain uncertainty? Would he always question the idea that he got the job because of her? Or were the questions aimed more at his heart…
Was it that he desperately wanted Catherine to tell him that she loves him to?

After finding the car in the parking structure, he threw his future so to speak into the front seat of the car. After climbing in the drivers side he thought he had no where really to go.
But, he needed to be away from the building, the Police Department building that he would be in soon enough.

The three cups of bad coffee along with very little sleep and an interesting evening to say the least that lead up to the fact that he did have little sleep was beginning to wreak havoc on his stomach. The vomit rose into his throat as he tried to choke it back. There was no use, it was coming out whether he liked it or not. The thing was, how would it look for the newly appointed Undersheriff to vomit in the parking garage. Not too kindly considering all the gossip that seemed to flow. He was caught off guard and literally caught in the middle of the gossip. Until he can prove himself worthy of his new position, he’ll remain caught up in the gossip. A feeling that made him want to vomit all the more.

It was too late, the car door swung open and his body lunged out the side expelling what little contents that were in his stomach. His had quickly wiped his mouth and he knew he had to leave that place and fast.

He found a deserted parking lot on the south side of the building. It’s the back way, the old pass through between the new Crime Lab building and the Police Building. He knew there was a way in and a way out, but he wasn’t sure if anyone else knew of the door that didn’t always get checked.

This is as good of place as any to clear his head. But instead his fist flew into the steering wheel. Again, and again, and again. This offered no comfort. His head flew forward and his forehead connected with the top of the steering wheel. This action offered no comfort either. Maybe if he alternated banging his head and his fists on the wheel eventually, he’ll feel better. He decided to give his theory a try, but he was interrupted.

The passenger side door opened and Catherine slid into the seat. The folder holding his future slid onto the floor. She watched for a moment as his head swung back and rested against the headrest. She didn’t think he knew she was there. Once he had regained his focus, he first saw the folder on the floor of the car. A sign perhaps? Then he saw her. He immediately jumped in his seat. The one thing he did not need was an audience.

She sat, quietly looking at him, watching him regain his composure. Once his head ears had stopped ringing, he could really see her. She looked like hell. She was wearing the same clothes as the night before; the black sweat outfit. He questioned if she had even gone home. There were dark circles under her eyes. Her skin was still as pale as it was last night. Did she get any sleep? He pondered.

He sat with his head against the headrest. She sat, hands folded in her lap next to him. He couldn’t bring himself to look at her, and she couldn’t look at him. They both sat. Both exhausted, both wanting answers from the other, but neither knew how or what to say.
He finally broke the silence.

“Catherine, I’m taking the job.” His voice was flat but direct. He still made no eye contact.

“I know.” Was all she could say.

“What are you doing here?” He questioned her.

“I wanted to see you.” She replied.

Anger, confusion and nastiness swelled inside him but he had to restrain himself from making a very bad choice of words. Something he’s been doing a lot lately. But, he decided that would be part of the new job. So why not start now?

“Don’t give me that bullshit, why are you here? What do you want from me?” Were as restrained as he could make his words.

“Look,” he didn’t give her a chance to say a thing, “I’ve been trying not to keep things from you. But I don’t know how much longer I can.” He stopped, took in a breath and began again. “I’m not going to lie to you. I came to see you. Yes, I wanted the job, yes I’m glad I have it and lastly, yes Catherine, I do love you. I want you to know that I got that job with my own merit, not because I slept with you or because I said I loved you or because I took you out for coffee. I got that job because I’m a damn good cop. You know it, I know it and now the Clark County Sheriff knows it. But what I don’t understand is why you had to make it so hard on me.”

He waited for her to say something. Something to the fact that she didn’t have anything to do with him getting the job, a feeling he had buried but knew all along. But he wanted to hear it from her. He wanted to hear her tell him he she loves him too. Anything, anything but the silence that surrounded her.

She hadn’t moved from her place in the passenger seat. Her hands remained folded in her lap and her face hadn’t moved. She hadn’t brought herself to look at him either.

“What about last night?” He scoffed squeezing his eyebrows together. This surely she would have an answer for.

“Did it mean anything to you?” He asked coldly.

She couldn’t take it anymore. A tear ran down her pale cheek. Her eyes became red again. She turned to him. More tears were on the verge of flowing from her blue eyes.

“I have loved you since our second date.” Catherine whispered then said nothing else.

He turned towards her. His eyes met hers.

“Oh god, don’t you see, I was trying to tell you this earlier but it came out all wrong. I was trying to be as sweet as I could knowing how upset you were that I left.” He voice trembled.


“What about Stokes?” He asked.

“What about him?” She smiled thinking Tony thought she and Nick were a couple.

“Look, give the guy a break, he lost his best friend. And, the reason his friend died is the whole reason you are here.” She suddenly came alive swallowing her tears back.

“Nick lost Warrick, hell, we all lost Warrick. Gil is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Sara left and the former Undersheriff was on the take. Give us all a god damn break Tony. You don’t have to be so self-centered you know!” She pointed out.

“All Nick and I have is each other.” Catherine stated, this time not so agitated.

He wanted answers and she gave them to him. He had no time to think about what to say next. But the words came out anyway.

“Why didn’t you tell me last night, why didn’t you tell me that you loved me too?”

“God Tony, don’t you get it? I didn’t want you to think that’s the reason you got offered the position.” I thought for sure you’d be able to see through me. What did you think when I came to your hotel room? And no it wasn’t just to screw you as you might have thought.”

“But we did… we did…. Screw as you put it. Did that mean anything?”

“I didn’t make things hard on you; you made them hard on yourself. You started to second guess yourself and that’s why you are so pissed off. Am I right? All the talk in the bar was yes, a plan, a plan on my part to see if you really wanted the job. You proved it to yourself; didn’t you? And now you have really no reason to be upset, except with yourself.”

Catherine’s words kept coming much to his surprise.

“I love you. I’ve loved you since our second date when you took me out for coffee. Remember, I had to wipe the bit of crumbs off your face that you struggled so hard to hide. That night you proved to me you were more than a smart-ass detective with a huge ego and the reputation behind it. You are human; you are without a doubt infallible. You are flawed, just like the rest of us. That’s when I fell, and fell hard for you.”

“But,” She smiled at him and she watched him smile back at her. The light had returned to his eyes as he listened.

“Loving you comes with a price. A price neither one of us are willing to pay. Especially now, now that you are going to be the new Undersheriff. Its bad enough Gil decided to break every rule in the book by sleeping with Sara, how would it look if you and I were suddenly in a relationship? It’s almost as bad as McKeen being dirty. I know you don’t want that and neither do I. I love my job as you love yours. And that, unfortunately is the truth.”

“I know you have made your decision, but I wanted you to know where I am coming from. This wasn’t easy for me you know. You made it not only hard on yourself but hard on me. I really don’t want to but I have to say goodbye to you. I wish you the best of luck in your new job. I know Brass and the others made an excellent choice in picking you for the newest Undersheriff of Clark County. I know you’ll make the Department proud.”
This time, she couldn’t hold back her tears.


Two Months later
Las Vegas

“Are you ready? Her voice wisped by him as he swallowed the rest of his champagne. “They are waiting for you.” She told him in her calmest voice. She turned him towards her to straighten out the lapel on his suit. “I don’t know about you, but I have butterflies.” Catherine Willows-Vartann smiled at her husband. A fact that she was sure not everyone in the ballroom of The Venetian knew. Or the other secret that was between her and her husband, Tony Vartann.

While making their way through the crowd of police officers, public servants, Sheriff Atwater, Gil Grissom, Conrad Ecklie, and the rest of the Forensics team at the Crime Lab, they bumped into Sam Vega and his wife.

“Congratulations man,” Tony extended his had to Detective Vega accompanied by his very pregnant wife Jennifer.

“I’m so happy for you, both.” Catherine beamed placing her hand over Jennifer’s bulging belly. She resisted the urge to place her own hand over her own belly giving away the secret she was literally carrying. Instead she blushed towards the soon-to-be new mother. Jennifer had been very sick for a long time. A fact again that few had known. It brought Catherine such joy to know that Jennifer was in remission from her battle with breast cancer and able to conceive a second child. Besides her own husband, Sam Vega is one of the best police detectives the city of Las Vegas has.

“Thanks Tony,” He replied. That means a lot. But don’t you think you should be heading up there, this crowd can get pretty out of control.” He laughed stepping aside from Tony and Catherine.

“Let’s do it.” Tony Vartann smiled. He handed his empty champagne glass to his wife. Now the gossip would really flow. Those who knew of Catherine’s condition were bound to talk. Those that didn’t know would wonder why she wasn’t drinking at all. But those bits of gossip and speculation didn’t matter; he had a job to do.

Upon approaching the podium of the ballroom, he scanned the audience. Some faces he recognized, some he didn’t. He began….

“Ladies and gentlemen, you’ll have to forgive me. Public speaking isn’t my best attribute so please bear with me.

“I remember the day I got the call from Jim Brass. It scared the hell out of me.” He heard some faint laughter in the crowd. “But, as my wife said, one doesn’t ever question Jim Brass.” Again, more laughter. Their secret was out, out in the open for all to hear.

“But this evening isn’t about how I got the call, or how I arrived here in Vegas. It isn’t about my work with the King County Sheriff’s office or even the creation of the new Las Vegas Police Department’s Internet Crime Unit, this is about us. The family that is here tonight. The family that is made up of police officers, the forensic unit at the Crime Lab.” He stopped and winked towards Catherine. “And the many public servants that make up the Las Vegas Metro Police Department. It’s also about those who we have lost, lost in the line of duty. Most recently Warrick Brown. CSI Brown died at the hand of a cop. The Undersheriff. A crime most heinous.” He paused.

“But there is new hope. A new man, a worthy man, a righteous man is here to take over as the new Undersheriff. Why, do you ask am I touting myself as that man? Well, my wife might tell you that I posses some of those qualities, but this is again, not about me.”

“So, it gives me great pleasure and pride to introduce to you the new Undersheriff of Clark County…Police Detective Sam Vega.”













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