Spoiler: Oh, yes; this is a spoiler for "Summer in the City" and "Grand Murder at Central Station" for CSI: New York, season two, as well as all of CSI: New York, season one. Also, you might find it a bit confusing if you haven't read Speed Trap, but you can get by without having read it, too.
Disclaimer: CSI: New York (and CSI: Miami) is produced by Alliance Atlantis Communications and CBS Productions, in association with Jerry Bruckheimer Films; the series is distributed worldwide by Alliance Atlantis, and by CBS in the USA. I am in no way connected with these people, and I do not claim ownership to these characters, lands, or names. I have borrowed them to share a story... and most likely not a story any of them would have written, had they had the time or no. I am making no money from this, and it is just for my entertainment, and that of free entertainment to a select group of friends. Thank You.
Setting: AU: Speed-Burn: Wednesday, September 28, 2005 to Wednesday, October 5, 2005: New York City
Note: Speed-Burn is a time line in which the events in CSI: Miami's "The Lost Son" and CSI: New York's "Summer in the City" and "Grand Murder at Central Station" unfolded in a different way. To understand how this might have happened, you are advised to read "Speed Trap" and "Moral Judgments". ("Ten Little Indians" is chronologically first in the time line, but does not touch upon the differences between Canon and Speed-Burn.)
Wednesday, September 28, 2005:
Anger and despair warred equally in the dark-haired detective as she pushed back from the microscope. Aiden couldn't believe that there was absolutely no trace available, not even the smallest hair. Pratt would walk, like eighteen months ago, and this time there was nothing anyone could do.
True, he'd walked before, but that was because the victim had refused to testify. With the same victim having been allegedly raped a second time by the same suspect, she was more than willing to press charges and testify; however, this time there was no evidence to back up her claims. And the entire situation was eating at Aiden like no other case had before.
With unsteady hands, Aiden lifted the small evidence bag, her initials clearly notated across the unbroken red evidence tape over the seal. The single hair inside contained Pratt's DNA and would definitely link him to this rape. There was one problem with the evidence she held, however... it was eighteen months old, like all other evidence related to this fresh case. She had considered something no CSI should ever even play at thinking about, and as a result had gone to the evidence locker to sign out the old evidence tied to Pratt and his repeat victim. Now, she sat looking at that single damning hair: a hair that could get the suspect put away where she strongly felt he belonged, but could also get her drummed out of law enforcement if she were caught planting it on the clothing from the fresh attack.
Reaching for the small blade to make the irrevocable step of slicing open the seal, Aiden hesitated. Slowly, the troubled investigator drew her hand away from the blade, lowering the evidence in her other hand. There was still one choice, one person who might be able to give her advice. She hadn't found anything on the pieces of evidence gathered, but she knew one Trace Expert who could seemingly pull evidence from thin air. He'd managed to draw blood and liquid evidence from Danny's clothes almost a year ago; evidence which had helped crack the case and put the killer away.
Still shaking, praying he could help though he was miles away, Aiden backed from the table and the evidence she'd nearly tampered with and drew off her gloves. With a deep, troubled sigh, she pulled out her cell phone and dialed the phone number she'd gotten from him just a few days ago. It was a very long, tense moment and Aiden seriously considered hanging up and going with her not-so-sane previous plan, but a steady, quiet voice came over the line before she could put action to thought.
Relief spread through the woman and she found herself smiling at the image the voice conjured: a man with dark curls, teddy-bear cuteness, and a serious, intense, burning gaze. "Hey, Joe-Joe," she laughed, and winced at how false the humor sounded.
"Hey, Aiden." Tim Speedle's voice was a pleasant balm. "I didn't expect to hear from you today." His tone was inviting, despite the words.
Aiden found herself responding, "I need some big advice, Joe."
"Got it. What's the problem?"
She liked how he always went straight to the point. Some people in the New York Crime Lab had thought him withdrawn and a bit unfeeling, but Aiden had understood him. He'd gone through hell, though it hadn't been until very recently that she'd know just what kind of hell, and he was not comfortable with opening up. Speed was honest, sometimes to the point of blunt rudeness, but Aiden could respect that in a CSI.
"I have a rape case. The victim was raped eighteen months ago, but refused to testify. She was," Aiden paused to gather her anger and swallow, then pushed on, "raped again, and she swears it was by the same guy. We have some evidence on him from the last case, but there's nothing this time."
"There's always evidence, Aiden," Speed sounded so certain, so calm that Aiden frowned and wondered if she'd made a mistake calling the Miami Trace Expert.
With a steadying breath, she slowly enunciated, "Well, this time he was very clever. There isn't any." Without giving him a chance to say anything, she barreled on to the real reason she called. "Joe," she frowned as she realized she'd been calling him by the wrong name, "I mean, Tim."
"You can call me Joe; I don't mind." His voice was just as calm, just as withdrawn as before, and somehow Aiden found herself wondering if he really was as cold as the other New Yorkers thought him to be. His next words relieved her of that misconception. "So, you're tempted to take the evidence from the last case and use it for this one, right?"
She was surprised he didn't sound judgmental about such a drastic misuse of power. Cautiously, she replied, "Tempted, but I didn't do it. Boy do I want to get this guy; I promised Rachel. Pratt needs to be brought down."
"Been there." His matter-of-fact tone surprised her, but she was grateful. Tim Speedle, Miami's celebrated Trace wiz had been to the point of wanting to plant evidence?
"What'd you do, Joe?"
She could hear Speed shift in his chair, it needed oiling, before he slowly answered her. "I went out and looked for more evidence. Unfortunately, it took another murder to get the guy, but he was given the death penalty; so I guess some would say it was worth the wait. Look, Aiden. Don't do it. Something like that would take you out of the picture, and how many more Rachel's can you help if you stay a CSI? There's always gonna be a Pratt out there to tempt you, but don't give in. You're better than that."
"He'll walk, Joe... I can't stand that. And what do I tell Rachel? Or the next girl?" Aiden took a trembling breath and continued in a shaky voice, "I'm starting to burn out, Joe. I want so much to help, that this isn't the first time I've thought about tampering. What if next time, I feel stronger about setting the guy up than calling for advice?" She leaned forward, though Speed was hundreds of miles away in Miami. "Can I really trust myself?"
It was a very long moment before Speed responded, and Aiden had begun to fear she'd truly sunk herself in her friend's eyes. When he did reply, she was too surprised to comprehend right away.
"Get a second opinion."
"What?" The confusion and surprise was very evident in that one word.
His voice was just as calm and controlled. "Get a second opinion, a second lab. Get permission from Mac to send the evidence down here and I'll see what I can do." From almost anyone else the assumption that he could find evidence where she couldn't would have come off as blatant arrogance. Knowing what she did about his knowledge, Speed's comment came off as a Godsend.
"I..." she toyed with the idea; would Mac really approve her sending the evidence to a second lab for another opinion?
"Hey, Aiden, the most he can do is say 'No,' right? But you won't know until you ask." When she didn't readily respond, he continued, "Look, it's almost the end of shift. Why don't you sleep on it tonight? Call me back tomorrow, either way. If he says 'No', we'll come up with something else, okay? It won't be the first time Miami and New York collaborated on a case to catch a serial offender."
Thankful for that soothing voice of reason, and a suggestion she hadn't thought of and perhaps might work, Aiden found herself smiling for the first time since being handed Rachel's case. "Right. Thanks, Joe. I'll call tomorrow, okay?" After a brief pause, she quickly added, "We miss you up here, Joe."
Speed's soft, deep laughter reverberated even after they'd hung up. She might have been pretty much baby-sitting him while he'd served in New York the last year, after all Mac had thought he could be a security risk since Danny thought Speed looked like a Tanglewood Boy he used to know, but Aiden was glad she'd gotten to know the quiet man.
With a sigh, once more looking at the frustrating evidence, she gathered bags and vials together, along with the logs, and headed back to the evidence locker to sign it in for the night. Speed's advice of a night to sleep on it was sound, and she was going to follow it.
To Be Continued in Chapter Two: when written
Summary: Flack deals with three victims and a missing suspect, Stella thinks Danny might be lying to her, and Aiden has to try to find a missing child while dealing with the Pratt case. Nothing’s as easy as it seems in New York.